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This Sprawling Path

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She had gone to the Great Plateau to search for valuables many times, but that time was different. After the ground shook and the strange towers rose from the earth, the area seemed to thrum with unseen tension. Monsters were much more prevalent and aggressive, following her for much longer than they used to.

Her eyes followed some bokoblins as the scurried around below her (she found that they hardly ever looked up, so trees were safe), waiting for them to clear out. She could fight them if she wanted to, but she had already expended a lot of energy climbing up to the top of the Plateau, so she did not want to test her luck end up in a situation she could not get out of.

She had been in the tree collecting so apples to eat when they found their way into the area. They had been following something– probably an animal– but it seems that they lost whatever it was. But she knew that meant that they would stay there for much longer than she cared for. They were stupid creatures and would most definitely stake out the last place they had seen their prey.

Settling in for a long wait, she tucked her legs underneath her, trying to get comfortable in the uncomfortable tree. She bit into her apple as quietly as she could while still keeping her keen eyes on the movement below her.

It did not escape her when an unfamiliar young man– a hylian by the looks of it– stumbled into the small area. The bokoblins didn’t see him right away, but he saw them. He drew his sword and they turned to him at the noise, their squeals ringing loudly in the empty air. It would surely bring more it they didn’t shut up quickly.

The boy was quick, though, slashing through them with what looked like practiced ease. His sword was old and didn’t quite fit him (his hold was quite awkward), but he clearly knew his way around a weapon.

With a small grin, she dropped her apple and drew her own sword. She dropped down on the last bokoblin and felt her sword enter its skull. She could feel the boy’s eyes on her as she pulled her sword out as shook off as much of the viscous blood as she could.

“You can sell that, you know.” She turned and nodded to the purple, pulsing guts by his feet. “They are worth quite a bit to the right people.”

He didn’t say anything in return, just tilted his head and placed his sword back in his sheath. He was a strange sight– his clothes didn’t quite fit him, his hair was unkempt, and there was a strange, glowing tablet at his side. His eyes slowly fell to the bokoblin guts at his feet before picking it up. His face pinched slightly at the feel of it before hesitantly placing it in his satchel at his hip. Smiling slightly when he looked back up, she grabbed her own spoils at her feet, placing them in her bag.

“They’re rather rare, those guts,” she said. “I’ve noticed that the red ones never drop them, only the other colors.”

He still said nothing. She didn’t blame him. Most people didn’t talk to strangers; it could get you killed if you weren’t careful. Especially if you’re a hylian. She finished packing up her stuff, noting that she should have enough to trade in for a decent amount of rupees.

“My name is Eira, by the way.” She tugged the hood of her cloak down. Her ears were pointed like his, but her hair was brown (unlike his brilliant gold). “I come here for things to sell. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone else up here, though.”

She tilted her head as she regarded him. He didn’t move much, but she could tell that he was invested in what she said. Something told her that he didn’t socialize much. Clucking her tongue, she glanced at the sky. It was starting to get dark.

“It’s dangerous at night…” she trailed off, hoping he would break his silence to give her a name.

Just as she gave up hope of an answer, he quietly said, “Link.”

“Well, it’s dangerous at night, Link,” she said with a smile. “Do you have a place to stay?”

He shook his head slowly. She thought it odd. How has he survived the nights alone if he did not have anywhere to go. Sleeping in the open usually required two people in order to avoid being ambushed by stalfos or keese.

“I know a place nearby, if you’d like.” She usually stayed on the Great Plateau for a few days before heading back down anyway. Helping a stranger for one night would not be the death of her.

He seemed hesitant at first, as if not sure if he could trust her. After a few seconds of contemplation, he nodded, taking a step towards her. She gave him a grin before turning on her heel and cutting through the woods in a now familiar path.

“How’d you get on the Plateau anyway?” she asked after a moment of silence. She could hear his soft breathing behind her, so she knew that he was still there. “As far as I know, I’m the only one who found the safe way to climb up here.”

At first, she didn’t think he was going to answer, so it surprised her (again) when he did. “I don’t know.” His voice was still quiet. It was melodical in a way but held a definite note of melancholy. “I woke up here a few days ago. I can’t remember anything before that.”

Humming quietly, she didn’t press him further. If he truly did not remember, her sticking her nose into his business would only upset him. They weren’t far, anyway.

They arrived at the shack with no incident. She didn’t look back at Link as she lit the fire under the cooking pot, nor when she took out some meat and mushrooms to cook. “I’m not sure who built this place, but I use it whenever I come up here. The monsters don’t come around here for whatever reason– not that I’m complaining.” She started to throw things in the cooking basin, pulling out some herbs and butter (which she kept next to some white chuchu jelly to keep cool). “Are you hungry?”

“Yes.” He slowly approached and sat down next the fire and she threw in different ingredients. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes (which were very blue, she noted) and she could tell that he had not eaten a proper meal in a while.

That makes two of them.

Her trek up to the Plateau had taken longer than normal as the towers had made the road to the cliffs even more dangerous. Couple that with some of the resting platforms she used to regain some feeling in her arms had broken off with the earthquake, it had taken her over five days to reach the top of the cliff. In the meantime she survived on dried fruits and meats.

“So what’s your plan, my friend?” she asked as she doled him a bowl of her concoction. He was lucky that she always kept a spare set of utensils (she always managed to lose her bowl and cutlery somehow) or they would have to take turns eating. But given the way he was staring at the food, she probably would have let him eat first. “The Great Plateau is nice and all, but I don’t think you can live here for long. Not enough game.”

He glanced at her with eyes that expressed a lot for one so stoic. He shrugged lightly before pointing in a general direction behind them. “The Castle.”

She nearly choked on her food. Ignoring his concerned glance, she sputtered out a rather lame, “Hyrule Castle?” Seeing his nod, she blinked. “You have a death wish or something? Nobody goes to the Castle and survives.”

“I will.”

She did not think it was confidence that kept his voice from quivering in fear. No, she could could see the doubt clear as day. She clucked her tongue after a second, trying not to think about what his fate would be if he followed through with his plan. She had seen many young men convinced that they could end Calamity Ganon’s terror. She had not seen them again after they departed for the source of the evil.

She finished her dinner, watched as he did the same with his third helping. The food was gone so she extinguished the fire and moved into the small hut behind her. She heard him follow after a second, looking around the small hut.

“It’s not much.” She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t need to, she felt. “You can have the bed.” She settled down in the far corner, allowing her the full view of the room and the door. Link shuffled around before gently lowering himself onto the bed. He looked as if he was afraid it was going to disappear. “Goodnight, Link.”

She was asleep before he was able to let out a quiet, “Goodnight.”

He was awake before her, which she was quite surprised about. She woke with the sun every morning, always packed and ready to go before the sun finished its journey above the horizon– she wasn’t used to someone waking before her. To see him standing by the window to the shack was definitely a shock.

He didn’t turn around when she started shuffling around, but she knew that he was aware she was awake. She could see it in the gentle tensing of his shoulders. She packed up her things without saying anything to him, gently placing her bag back into its place.

“I’m heading back down today.” He finally turned to watch her as she strapped her sword back to her hip. “Are you staying up her for much longer?”

He shook his head. “I am done here.” He gently touched the material strapped to his back near his various weapons and shield. “I’m going to Kakariko Village.”

“That’s quite the trek,” she said. “I’ve only been there once before. After the Yiga Clan started to pop up, it was too dangerous to go over there.” She could see the question in his eye, but she simply shrugged. He would see what she meant soon enough. “Can you get down? I can show you the path I know.”

He shook his head, refusing her offer. He again let his fingers run over the material on his back before he grabbed it and showed it to her. It was a paraglider, she realized. It would definitely be a quicker way off the Plateau than climbing.

“That’s pretty cool.” She left the house, glancing back at him as he emerged behind her. “Well, I guess this is where we say goodbye.” She stuck out her hand in a friendly gesture, not entirely expecting him to grab it, yet pleasantly surprised when he did. “Stay safe, ok?”

She gave him a smile before turning and starting the long walk toward the cliff that would lead her back down to the ground. She just barely heard him mutter a quiet, “Stay safe.”

He seemed like a nice person. She hoped he didn’t end up getting himself killed.


 

Link watched Eira leave, his eyes on her form until she was just a speck in the distance. His purpose, ever since the king told him, weighed heavily on his mind. He would have to conquer this evil, he would have to face the darkness alone.

He would do it for people like her. She was nothing more than a girl caught up in the mess of the world, just trying to survive. He would do it for those he couldn’t remember, whose very existence pressed at the corners of his mind. He would do if for Zelda. It was his duty as the hero.

He could not fail.