When the world begins to rush back in after decades of darkness, it is bright; far too bright. The sound pierces him and he wants it to go away, he wants to keep sleeping forever, but then.
…Open your eyes…
A gentle feminine voice whispers; it sounds familiar, has he heard it somewhere before? Open your eyes it says again, louder and clearer. The light gets brighter, so, so bright, and then: Wake up, Link… Is that his name? It sounds like it should be. He opens his eyes and there is blue, blue and darkness, and he feels water draining around him. He lays there for a moment more, but eventually, he cannot deny it any longer: he has to get up.
He couldn’t have prepared himself for what was waiting if he’d tried.
His memories are gone, says the King. His memories are gone and he is dreadfully alone, save for the voice the King calls Zelda. My dear Zelda, the King says, with so much pain in his voice that Link can’t help but wonder. And the courageous knight who protected her right up until the very end… That knight was none other than you, Link. Was he? He can’t recall. You were taken to the shrine of resurrection the King explains, as if Link is important, was so important he was the one chosen to be saved above all. He doesn’t feel particularly special, standing there in a threadbare outfit with a rusty sword strapped to his back and an empty quiver, talking to ghosts. Zelda had called him their final hope, and he fears that this is all a mistake, that he won’t be able to do what they ask. Then the King is gone, giving him little more than a village to find and a road, and once again he is alone. Alone, with nothing more than a pot lid to protect him.
It could be worse, he supposes. He could have also forgotten how to hold a sword.
He finds a note and a chest in the King’s cottage, with an outfit that will better keep him warm. It is a fatherly gesture, be sure to bundle up, don’t leave it to chance, and it occurs to him that all ghosts stay in this world for a reason.
Perhaps he was afraid of heights, one hundred years ago, he thinks as he paraglides down from a fall that would have killed him.
The King did not ask him to speak, but Impa does. She asks if he remembers her, and he has to say no because he doesn’t, he doesn’t remember anything besides the basics and how to fight, it seems. It’s hard to speak, harder than he was expecting, his voice rough from disuse. The shrine was supposed to heal him, but it seems to have missed this part, perhaps he’d been silent in his past life? He remembers how to say words, but he also remembers how to speak with his hands, though he doesn’t remember what either language is called. He chooses to use his voice like many of the people he meets, however; he is not bound to his past ways and this small rebellion feels like a victory, like the reason he had stopped talking was a shackle rather than a choice. He does not remember the reason now, however, so it cannot chain him.
The elderly woman tells him to find the Divine Beasts, that they will help him on his way, will help him stop Ganon. The champions who piloted them are dead now, and Link feels a stab of misery for reasons he will not come to understand for a long while. First, however, he must find another village. Another pilgrimage, another road with vague directions, though now he knows what Ganon is and the prophecy (for all the good it will do him).
At least he’ll be better prepared, he thinks as he bolts for the clothing shop, only to groan when it is nothing he can afford; it’s too bad burnt apples don’t sell for more these days.
He stays at the inn for the night, and when he sleeps he dreams. He dreams of five friends, each special in their own way, but he cannot see any of their faces. Memories pass like lightning, a frog, a healing touch, a princess next to a queen, a backslap filled with pain, an endearing bravado. His thoughts linger on the last one, the brightest, shining as if to say look at me, I’m important, but it doesn’t matter in the end; he remembers none of them when he wakes.
He feels empty afterward, like he was given something precious only to have it snatched away again. He decides he will not sleep unless it is absolutely necessary.
The Great Fairy is beautiful, and he knows she and her sisters will be very helpful along the road, but he feels nothing when she blows him kisses.
Purah unlocks pictures, places he must go to get his memories back, and he sets off immediately for the familiar one of the East Gate.
He wishes he hadn’t.
But he did, and he can now see all their faces clear as day and remembers their names. The princess, Zelda, he reminds himself, is devastated, but Urbosa is quick to comfort her, Mipha not far behind, both giving love and support in different ways. But then it is too late, and the beginning of the end. He watches Revali fly into the air, hears Daruk talk as if they are going to win, as if it is not the last time they will be alive together. He tries to tell them to run, tell them not to get into the Divine Beasts, but his mouth refuses to say the words, and the memory eventually fades to static.
He cries, afterward, and this time he knows why.
He has to sleep again, eventually, and the memories come just as fast, pounding like a storm, and they hurt, hurt, hurt.
When he wakes, he remembers a soft touch, a quiet complaint about his messy hair, but the rest leaves him.
He is exploring wetlands, curious as ever, lost in a world of adventure where Ganon does not exist and the world is okay, when a strange creature calls out to him. He readies his sword, no longer a rusty one thank the Goddess, but the creature seems friendly, and on closer inspection seems similar to Mipha.
He’s asked to go to a bridge, where a prince is waiting for him, in need of a hylian. His curiosity gets the best of him, and he sets off.
(He runs into a woman who complains about a creepy zora asking any hylian who comes by what their name is and complimenting them profusely, and decides to take a detour for a few more shrines; just in case.)
You’re a hylian, aren’t you? I was hoping perhaps you’d have a moment to talk. He has a bad feeling about this.
The prince leaves him reeling, he doesn’t think he’s gotten that many compliments in his entire life, memories or not. It makes him suspicious, but as over the top the prince is Sidon doesn’t seem to mean any harm, and his request for help does match up rather nicely with Link’s overall goal. He agrees to help and follows, not expecting anything near what he finds.
He’s gotten used to surprises, however, so it doesn’t jostle him as much as it probably should.
He instantly feels guilty wearing the zora armor. He has no memories of having feelings for Mipha, though the way she had looked at him makes it clear where she stood (not to mention, of course, the husband armor). Wearing it feels like he’s taking advantage of her feelings somehow, but he thinks (hopes) people have done worse things to save the world.
If he ever has to fight a lynel again, it will be too soon.
Sidon tells Link to ride on his back while they try to get into Ruta, and Link is surprised after doing this for so long on his own someone is willing to help; perhaps there is more to Sidon than he initially thought (or, perhaps, the living can actually help, unlike the dead, so they do).
They circle the machine, trailed by ice the beast creates, and finally, he is allowed inside. A gentle voice talks to him, Mipha’s voice, telling him what he needs to do and that she has faith in him. Her voice is so familiar, like he’s been hearing it all his life.
But he doesn’t remember.
This is the monster that took over Ruta, the monster that killed Mipha, and it will pay.
(It hurts that he lives to see the monster’s end when she hadn’t, a close friend his past self could have defended but didn’t, could have saved but didn’t. He’s coming to hate his former self, whoever he was.)
Mipha gives him her healing because it would be wasted on me, and oh, doesn’t that sting.
The King gives him Mipha’s weapon, implores him to use it, then asks him afterward: was she really…?
“I met her ghost.” Link responds, and the King’s face falls.
“Never forget her.” The King begs him, and Link cannot say I barely remember her as it is, so he agrees.
He sleeps at the inn that night, and that's when it begins. Instead of a whirlwind of memories, sharp and painful and fleeting, there is only one. A boy, following at his father’s hip as he strides dutifully into a world of swirling blues and arches.
“I wish to speak to the King.” The boy’s father says. Then, when the guard looks down at the boy suspiciously, adds, “This is my son, he’s training to be a knight as I am.” The guard nods at lets them both pass, but her eyes linger on him when he glances over his shoulder at her.
When the boy turns back around, sitting on a throne is the largest living being he’s ever seen, who greets them warmly.
“It is good to see you again, Sir Knight!” The creature booms, “To what do I owe the pleasure?” He then seems to notice the boy, and his voice takes on a softer tone, “And who might this be?”
“Business, I’m afraid.” The boy’s father responds. “An urgent message from my King, he sent me to ensure it reached you. And this is my son, Link,” He gives the boy a gentle push from out behind him, where the boy had shuffled in his shyness. “He began his training to be a knight,” He says proudly, “I thought he might enjoy visiting other kingdoms.”
“Ah,” says the creature in the chair, “I see. Well, in that case perhaps he would enjoy meeting a princess of another kingdom? She is about his age.” He motions to a green creature, much smaller than him, and the creature shakes his head as if in disapproval but goes anyway. He comes back soon after with a much smaller creature trailing behind him, and the boy steps behind his father out of shyness once more. “This is my daughter Mipha. Mipha, this is Link, the son of a dear friend of ours.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Mipha says politely, but the boy just nods in return, face red. When he makes no motion to reply, she tries again. “Perhaps you would enjoy visiting the gardens with me?” He glances at her shyly, but nods again, and comes out from hiding to follow her. He hears his father’s voice as he begins to talk to the King about the contents of the message, but the sound quickly fades over the rushing of the water.
She shows him flowers and plants of all different colors, explaining their uses with the knowledge only a royal education can give, and he finds himself relaxing in her presence. The memory begins to fade as he hears his father’s voice calling him, echoing in his brain.
He wakes abruptly to Sidon’s face bright in front of his own, insisting he be given a royal tour as a thank you before he leaves, but all he can think about it the boy, shy and unaware of what his future holds.
He goes to sleep at a stable a few nights later, though he isn’t tired enough to really need it. He has questions, and he hopes his dreams will answer them.
“I was only trying to help.” Is the first thing he hears, and he is sitting on Ruta’s trunk like in the memory unlocked by the statue. He turns and sees Mipha next to him, staring at him in worry, and thinks oh, another one. He waits to see how the old Link will respond, what this memory holds, but nothing comes out. “Link?” She asks worriedly, and finally, finally, he is allowed to do more than watch.
“Is this another memory?” He asks, surprised when she reacts by blinking in surprise, then laughing.
“No, it’s not. I can’t talk to you during the day, but it seems I’m able to while you sleep.” She explains, “We’re connected, now that I’ve given you my power.” He doesn’t respond, too shocked to formulate words, so she continues, “I tried to stimulate your memories by thinking about my own, did it work? I was aiming for the first time we met.” She smiles kindly, gently, and he nods because he can’t do much else. Questions are bubbling up, so many they’re practically choking him, but he blurts out the one that has been weighing on him for so long before he can stop himself.
“Did I love you?” He winces internally, it was not the first question he had wanted to ask, nor one he was even planning on asking in the first place, but his conversations with the zora royalty have left him shaken. His real question, he supposes, is did I leave you behind? She falls silent, her hands clenching into fists in her lap, before she takes a breath.
“Yes,” she says finally, “but not as I loved you.” Her smile is teary, and he almost regrets asking, but not quite.
“Can you show me more memories?” He asks instead of an apology, because she deserves a sincere one he cannot give, and she nods.
“Of course.” She replies, and the memories start anew.
This time she shows him a memory of them practicing together. Mipha is teaching him how to further his spear training, ever patient with his mistakes, when a young Sidon comes and begs to join. He is so small in this memory, nothing like the towering being who had jumped so gracefully down from a bridge to greet him, and he finds himself endeared. Mipha smiles and laughs, before nodding.
“Of course, Sidon! Here’s a spear for you.” She goes over to the armory and comes back with a smaller spear designed for children, but he only pouts.
“I want to use a real one, like you!” He says, racing over to grab her spare which lies just outside the training space.
“Sidon, don’t-” She begins, but he’s already trying to pick it up, hefting it over his shoulder before it tips his weight forward and he falls flat on the ground. Mipha rushes over when he begins to sniffle, and Link follows closely behind. The memory fades to static as Mipha heals a scrape on Sidon’s knee and Link makes funny faces in an attempt to get him to stop crying.
They are not always successful in unlocking his memories, and after a while they discover that the more personal and important the memory, the more difficult it is to untangle.
It figures, he thinks, that the memories which made him who he was are the ones that remain stubbornly out of his reach.
He plays adventurer some more for a few blood moons, sleeping every night so Mipha can unlock more of his memories. It is strange, to see the before, before he awoke to a voice and a bright light. It feels as though this person was him but not him, some of his memories warring with whom he has come to be on his travels. The past him was quiet, far too quiet, different from the new him, who speaks to any traveler he comes upon. He also sees the memory of an angry princess, who insisted he cease following her; an order he completely ignored, loyally following the King’s orders to the end. The new him is not particularly loyal, he thinks, he’s not really doing this to save Zelda or even the kingdom. He’s doing this because ghosts have asked him to, and with a mind full of static, there were few other options but to follow.
Perhaps he’s doing this to find someone, or to be someone, or to understand what, or whom, he left behind.
Maybe for all of the above.
“You should go to Rito Village next,” Mipha says one night in his dreams, when they are simply talking instead of untangling memories. Her eyes don’t quite meet his, however, as though the words are forced. “I think what you find there will be… important.”
“Why?” He asks; he had been planning on going to Death Mountain next, closest as it was.
“It would be… better if you saw it yourself.” She manages finally, staring at her hands clenched together in her lap. She has never hesitated with information before, something he has been rather relieved about. Your mind was still fragile the King had said she thought it best not to overwhelm you the old woman had said. You wish me to defeat an ancient evil you yourselves could not, yet claim me too fragile for my own past he had thought, not said. But not so with Mipha, at least not until now.
“You shouldn’t tell me, or you don’t want to tell me?” He sees right through her, and she gives no response.
The ground rumbles as Medoh shrieks above him. Hello again, he thinks, do you remember me?
The Rito live up high, a swirling spire up a large rock whose weight placement defies gravity. It is cold all around them, and the warm doublet the King had left for him is quickly not enough; he is forced to buy the warm clothes the Rito offer. He cannot afford all three, however, so he only buys the outfit and shoes.
He feels wrong buying the headdress anyway, though he cannot place why. Another memory lost to time, he supposes.
The elder smiles bright and cannot tell who he really is like the zora king could. He explains what has happened, and though Link already knows he listens politely. It just woke up, it’s out of control, we need help. The same story, with altered details, through different lips.
That is all his journey seems to be, so far.
“It is named after the champion,” she says, and he looks down; a piece clicks into place.
“It is considered to be quite the masterpiece of aerial techniques, even among the Rito.” Revali says as he flexes, “With proper utilization of my superior skills I see no reason why we couldn’t easily dispense with Ganon.” He is showing off, Link realizes, though for what reason is lost on him. He also seems to be attempting to reassure, as if he thinks Link might be frightened. “Let’s not forget I am the most skilled archer of all the Rito.” Now he’s just being over the top, Link thinks, but because it is the old Link, the dead Link, he says nothing. “Yet despite these truths, it seems I have been tapped to merely assist you.” And oh, this is where he is going; so much for the reassurance. “Unless… you think you can prove me wrong? Maybe we should just settle this one on one.” He gets up in Link’s face, I’ve told you what I can do, now let me prove it, Revali says but doesn’t say, and Link debates taking him up on that offer, until. “Oh, you must pardon me. I forgot you have no way of making it up to that divine beast on your own!” Mocking, then he takes off in an extravagant rush of air, one last presentation of his skill.
Coward. Is the last thing the old Link thinks before the memory fades, but the new Link thinks it was ridiculously bold.
He goes and meets Teba, who is understandably skeptical about his resolve. I am too, he thinks, but saying so will do him no favors. Teba’s determination to the point of recklessness is surprising (and oh so familiar, perhaps), anger at what the beast had done obvious. When Link asks him why he is so eager to kill the beast, enough so that he is willing to do it alone if need be, Teba looks to the side and is quiet for a moment.
“It hurt Harth.” Is his only response, fists clenched at his side, but it is all that needs to be said.
Love that was not meant to be follows Link wherever he goes, it would seem.
He sleeps the night before they fly to Medoh, and Mipha confronts him immediately.
“What happened? Did you remember anything?” She demands, an out of place display of intimidation and all the more terrifying for it.
“I remember him talking to me on the landing. He showed off a bunch then said he should be the champion, then left.” Link summarizes, and Mipha relaxes with a snort.
“Sounds like Revali.” She mutters, looking to the side then back to him, “Nothing else?” He thinks about it for a moment.
“I was buying warmer clothes, but I couldn’t buy the headdress. It felt… weird, and important; I think it was because of a memory, but I didn’t actually remember anything.” He adds eventually and looks up at her when she doesn’t respond. She is studying him, almost as if to gauge whether or not he’s telling her the truth, before she sighs.
“Okay, tell me if you remember anything else.” Is what she eventually settles on, and he nods; That is easy enough.
He flies with Teba over Medoh, shooting its cannons one by one, and hopes Revali won’t be too angry about it; he seems like the type.
“Well now, I’ve seen that face before… “ Says a voice that is infinitely more fond than in his previous memory. “I had a feeling you would show up eventually. But making me wait 100 years is a bit… indulgent.” A gentle but firm scolding, and the ending trails off in sadness, another story that has no doubt been lost in his memories.
The puzzles are not as hard as Ruta, thank the Goddess, and Revali gives teasing encouragement throughout. He is as kind as Mipha, in his own way.
But only because I was winging it, he says, and Link wants to laugh and cry at the same time.
The beast dies quicker than Ruta’s, and he wonders where the vicious streak that took over him at the sight of it came from.
“Who would’ve thought?” His voice is soft, and the only reason Link doesn’t start to cry is because he knows all four of these ghosts will visit him when he sleeps, that they aren’t dead yet. “I do suppose you’ve proven your value as a warrior.”
Link can tell his heart isn’t in it, and he wonders if he ever proved himself in the past, if they ever settled it one on one like Revali had challenged. “A warrior worthy of my unique ability.” He says as he gives Link the ability to fly, gives Link the thing he had mocked Link for not having, the thing he had been so proud of.
“Feel free to thank me now.” He says, clearly waiting for something. Link doesn’t know what, however, does all such a proud warrior want is a thank you? Revali’s face falls when Link says nothing, and he turns to face away from Link. “Or… nevermind, just go.” He says but then turns back to face him once again, like he does not want to end on such a note.
“Your job is far from finished, you know.” And it could mean a million things, but he does not elaborate. “The Princess has been waiting an awfully long time.” He hears Revali murmur as he is enveloped in light.
Link somehow gets the feeling he was not referring to the princess at all.
The elder gifts him Revali’s bow, and its weight feels familiar in his hands. He tests it out, using it to take down a pesky nest of monsters who had given him trouble. It doesn’t miss a single shot, despite his usually shaky aim. He stares down at it afterward, surprised.
Have we met before? He thinks.
It offers no answers, of course, and he adds it to the list of people and things which stubbornly refuse to help him.
Link sleeps after defeating Windblight Ganon and dreams of looking down on the world as it is greeted by the sun. He sits atop Medoh, feet dangling over the edge, nestled in a warm outfit which keeps out the chill that nips his nose and cheeks red. He looks down to see he is wrapped in a scarf, the same gentle blue as the tunic he was given to show his status as champion. He is also wearing a headdress, he realizes, not unlike the one he had found at the shop. He takes it off to examine it, noting that it is almost identical, save for that the feather woven expertly in is bluish-grey instead of white, and the copious amount of gems that adorn it along with the ruby. He wonders if this is a memory, but the thought is soon proven false.
“So,” A voice says from behind him, “Looks like we don’t have to say goodbye quite yet.” He turns to see Revali walk up, no longer a ghostly green, but as bright and full of life as in the memory from the landing. He sits beside Link and gives him a small smile, taking the headdress from his hands and placing it on his head once more. He turns Link’s head to the side gently to get a better view of the headdress and checks to make sure the clip and feather are in place. It is strange, and intimate, and so, so unlike the Revali of Link’s (precious few) memories.
“This is a dream, it won’t break.” He blurts out to fill the silence, which is heavy with something Link doesn’t quite understand.
“Please,” Revali scoffs, “you could break anything, dream or no. You’re so reckless I find myself almost impressed.” He chides but ceases his inspection. He does not move away, however, and Link is getting dizzy. “It is good to finally see you again.” He murmurs, eyes warm, gently touching Link’s cheek, and his feathers are so, so soft. Link did not realize how starved for touch he was until it is finally being lavished upon him.
“You’ll help me too then?” He pleads, meeting Revali’s eyes, and he seems surprised. “What?” Link asks, curious.
“I… have never heard you speak more than one sentence at a time before,” Revali admits, and Link snorts.
“Sometimes people change when they lose all their memories.” He says in way of explanation, not intending it to sound as bitter as it does.
But then Revali freezes, and Link feels an acute loss when he quickly withdraws his wing. “What?” Revali asks, his feathers puffing up.
“The shrine of resurrection took away all my memories,” Link sighs, looking down on the small world below as it glides by slowly, uncaring of what is happening above. “Mipha has been triggering some memories in my dreams, and I was hoping you could too? We didn’t know each other as long, I don’t think, but I’m sure we have some.” He looks up at Revali hopefully, but all emotions have vanished from his features.
“You… don’t remember me at all?” He asks, searching Link’s eyes, and he sounds almost desperate.
“I have a few memories,” Link says quickly, “I remember when you challenged me about being the champion on the Rito Village landing, and I,” He pauses, looking down, “I remember all of us together when Ganon awoke, up until Zelda asked to help us. That-that’s it so far, though.” Link gets increasingly nervous when Revali doesn’t respond.
“You don’t have to do it all the time, just whenever you want. Mipha says the more personal memories are harder to unlock, and we haven’t had any luck so far, but that shouldn’t be a problem for us, right?” In truth he doesn’t know, doesn’t know what role this rito played in his past life, but Revali certainly didn’t seem too fond of him in the few memories he has. The last sentence is what gets him to respond.
“Right,” Revali says, his voice hollow, and then the sneer Link remembers so well is back in place. “Does the princess really believe a boy who cannot even remember what and who is important to him will be able to defeat a monster like Ganon? When he couldn’t even do it with his memories? I recommend you find someone who is actually capable and get them to do it.” His words are clearly intended to cut, and they do. Because that is simply the truth, isn’t it? He could not do it with years of loyalty and experience to guide him, with four living and breathing champions at his side, and now they want him to with nothing but ghosts and puzzle pieces that don’t fit, all mashed together in his brain. “You’re just going to get killed, and then what? All of Hyrule is as good as dead.”
“Maybe you’re right.” He acquiesces, giving Revali a weak smile even as tears begin to gather in his eyes without his permission. Revali seems to freeze when he sees this, his sneer faltering, and he looks away.
“Of course I am,” Revali snaps, though he can no longer meet Link’s eyes. The dream begins to fade around them, and Revali gains the green glow once more, flames dancing around him. “Just don’t get yourself killed.”
“What, like you?” Link yells at his fleeing back, but the dream ends before he can hear a response, and he is alone in the darkness once more.