Chapter 1 - Beginnings
Once upon a time…
The skinny elvish looking Hylian boy stood by the woman's bedside watching with increasing desperation as the village's healer, Ilio, went back and forth with multi-colored, foul smelling potions and cures. The boy had never seen the woman, Saria, like this before. She was always so full of life. He couldn't ever remember a day when she had taken ill before. And now this? Within a few days?
“Only Fairy's Tears can help this.” The healer had said with a resignation that the boy, being only ten years of age, missed.
“Fairy's Tears? Where do I get them?” Link had begged him anxiously.
The upper room of the treehouse where the woman and Link lived seemed to get darker and less inviting than it had been before Saria became ill. Outside, the sun was setting, but Link didn't want to leave his adopted mother's side to even light a candle for them to see properly.
Ilio sighed, and then went to light the candles himself so that he would at least have the light he needed to work by. He hated to dash the boy's hopes. He shouldn't have brought up the Fairy's Tears he now realized too late.
He turned back to the boy, ran his fingers affectionately through Link's reddish blond hair, and then reluctantly told him, “you don't, son. You have to be given them by a Great Fairy, and they don't give them to anyone except those whom they find worthy.” The healer hated to dash his hopes, but he couldn't lie to him either. “I'm sorry.”
Ilio looked into Link's eyes, expecting to see a loss of hope and despair. Much to his surprise, he found only a serious and calculating resoluteness. The boy's expression said he had been given a chance, however slim, and he was going to take it.
“Where do I find a Great Fairy? I can prove myself worthy.” Link spoke solemnly and seriously, as though he weren't just a boy, but a dedicated Hyrulian knight from the Hylian kingdom that extended their rule even as far south as the village's own province of Ordon.
“I've no doubt you can, Link. But the grottoes of the Great Fairies are hidden, and no one living knows where they are now. The last person, Ordonian or Hylian, to see and impress a Great Fairy was hundreds of years ago. It would take months, years perhaps to find one. I'm sorry, son. I should've been more clear. Saria won't last the night. You'd better say your good-byes now.”
The boy's hopes were dashed then and there. His mother, the only mother he'd known, was going to die from this strange wasting fever and he could do nothing but just watch it happen. Every instinct in his small but athletic body rebelled against the idea.
He looked down into the pale, elfish face of the thirty-something looking Ordonian woman and stroked her blond hair, tinged with green highlights.
“Link?” She had opened her eyes. Her skin was red with the fever and hot to the touch.
““Mother,” he had said, “I'm here, mother.” Link sponged some water onto her forehead and dripped some onto her lips.
“Link, I have to go now.” She told him.
“I don't want you to, mother.” He told her. “I don't want you to leave me.”
She looked at him with her violet eyes and said, “Oh my sweet, brave boy. It's time for me to go.”
“But why, mother? Why must you go now?” His own forest green eyes were tearing up.
“No one gets to choose when he or she must leave this life for the next, Link. The goddesses have chosen for me, and I must submit to their will. This is not evil, it is just life.” She told him. She had always been devout to the goddesses of Hyrule: Din, Nayru, and especially Farore.
“But what will I do without you?” Link asked her, the tears spilling from his eyes. “I'm scared. I don't know what to do.”
“Oh my dear, sweet boy, you have a destiny greater than me. I've known that ever since the goddess Farore placed you in my care. Look at the birthmark on your hand.” She told him.
Link took his glove off and looked at the mark on his left hand. His mother had always made him cover it up before. It was a faintly golden outline in the shape of three equilateral triangles, two at the base and one at the apex, set together to make one whole triangle. She didn't want him showing it to anyone who came from outside of the village. In the village, only a few people knew about it and kept it quiet.
“What does my birthmark have to do with anything?” He asked, confused.
“Everything.” She said solemnly. “You bear the mark of the gods, Link. You carry a special power within you given by the goddesses. When you need it, you will have the courage, the power, and the wisdom to do great things that no one else could dream of doing. Remember that, my sweet Link. You are special, and one day all of Hyrule will depend on you.”
She coughed once, then twice. Flecks of blood formed on her lips.
“I love you my Link, I will see you again. Walk with the gods...” And then the light left her own emerald eyes and she was gone.
The whole village had mourned her passing, even though, like Link, she had been a stranger of a different race when she had first come to live with them, her past as mysterious as Link’s own. Like the boy, she alone of all those in the village had the telltale high cheekbones, almost too perfect figure and long tapered ears of the elvish Hylian peoples far to to the north. She had been a mid-wife, a healer, and an herbalist in her own right, caring well for the Ordonian’s sick and injured, and had in time become dearly loved by all of them.
The funeral pyre in the village square had burned for hours as Link watched her body be consumed by the flames, releasing her spirit to continue its journey onward. Later, though he kept it to himself for fear no one would believe him, he would swear that he had seen a green wisp of smoke, rise from her body in the barely perceptible form of a woman, blow him a kiss, and then vanish.
“Good-bye mother.” He had said with tears in his eyes.
He took off his glove and touched the triangle mark on his hand. It made him feel better. It always made him feel braver.
And now he was alone. The other people in the village all gathered around him protectively. He had eaten supper at every dinner table in the village. He had been given offers to come live with almost every family. He appreciated every one of them, but he just couldn't do it. There was too much to understand. It was too soon. He needed to understand what her last words to him had meant.
* * *
The new sunlight outside poured through the open windows. The perfumed smell of the morning mist mingling with the herbs and grasses came wafting through. He sat on his bed looking around the simple tree house. that morning.
Saria had lived in it long before Link had come to her. It was special because it hadn't been built by cutting wood and hauling it up, but it had been grown from the tree itself by magic. Saria had never explained more than that. The walls, shelves lined with books, windows, and the door were all seamless with the living tree. So was the nook where she had laid him as a baby wrapped in blankets. A few pieces of furniture were places around the room. A table with a couple of chairs, two beds on opposite sides of the house, a big stuffed chair where Saria would read to him for hours. How he loved the stories of the knights of Hyrule long ago!
But the stories he loved the most were those about the Hero he had been named after. He was enraptured by these stories when he found out that he shared the same name as the Hero. These were the great legends of Hyrule. His mother said they were hidden legends that most people didn't know.
The Hero was born about every two or three hundred years or so. Sometimes it would be longer, sometimes the time would be shorter, but always when he was needed. When she would tell those stories he would imagine himself as the hero and his mind would fill with images of him slashing at monsters and riding from one end of Hyrule to the other. There were times he felt like he had actually been to those far off places and he could see them clearly in his mind's eye as though remembering them from yesterday. His mother had called the stories collectively the Legend of Zelda. Link thought it would have been better named after the Hero, rather than the princess who always needed saving, but she was insistent about it.
“The princess is the most important person of the story,” she would say.
“Why?” He asked. “The princess is always getting captured and the Hero does all the work rescuing her.”
“That's true,” she would giggle girlishly, “but there's a reason why the Demon King is always trying to capture her, and it's as old as the land of Hyrule itself.” And then Saria would frustrate him by never explaining more than that.
The house was quiet now. There would be no more stories from her. He could read the old books himself, but it wasn't the same. His mother's voice had given a life to them and had awakened things within him that just his reading alone couldn't.
There was always something different about his mother's voice, everyone said so. When she spoke, there was always a power behind it that no one could place, and no one could deny. When she spoke sweetly and kindly, you could get lost in her words. When she gave a command, you moved to obey before your mind had time to react. He knew of no other woman like her, and was sure he wouldn't again. Her favorite color was green, and even her blond hair seemed tinged slightly with emerald highlights when caught in the light. The house was too quiet, and too empty now without her.
The village goat-herder had offered him a job helping him tend the goats, and in exchange he was teaching Link to break and ride a chestnut, two year old mare with white markings that the goat-herder hadn't found a good use for otherwise yet. The mare had been given to the old goat-herder as payment for goats bought by a horse ranch farther north near Castle Town, but she proved too spirited for him or anyone else to handle until she met Link. She just took to the boy quickly, but refused to cooperate for anyone else.
Link had named her “Epona” after the Hero's mount, although, like himself, she was still pretty young. Though he knew it wasn't practical, there were times he continued to dream they would both grow up to have adventures together just like the Hero.
He got up from the bed and went to the cabinet to take out some cheese and a loaf of bread from last night's dinner with the mayor and his daughter. The Mayor's daughter, Ilia, was Link's age, and while they had always been friends she, more than anyone, seemed to understand what he had been going through with the loss of his mother. Her mother had died two years before from the fever as well. He set the cheese and bread on a wooden plate on the table under the window and sat down to eat, watching the birds and small animals scurry around down on the ground as they went about their business.
* * *
“Where am I?” This was the first thought that went through the lithe young elvish girl’s mind as she opened her royal blue eyes. The sounds of whispered voices speaking in strange, nonsensical, harsh sounding words echoed in her long, tapered Hylian ears
In her immediate view and over her head were strange luminescent strips of light set into a gray green metallic ceiling. They gave off a soft light, enough to see well by, but not enough to hurt one’s eyes should they look at them. She was certain she had never seen devices like them before anywhere, magical or otherwise. Still, in spite of this they felt vaguely familiar and gave her a sense of deja vu, like from a dream she had once upon a time, but could not remember the details of.
Not knowing where she was, or if anyone nearby might be friend or foe, she turned her head slowly and discreetly from one side to the other so as not to attract attention, moving her eyes more than her head itself. The room she was in was a large chamber with more metallic gray walls trimmed with rosewood paneled pillars at the corners. What looked like small windowed mirrors outlined in black were placed in different positions on the walls and on stands around the chamber. These glowed with words and squiggily colored lines. The words were written in a script which she could not identify from any of the known languages her royal tutors had been attempting to teach her. On metallic side tables against the wall, she could see small metal instruments wrapped in a transparent material, and small bottles with labels on storage shelves.
She tried to sit up and found herself sliding back to the strange, narrow white bed she had been laid on. Her knee length pink and silvery silken dress held no traction against the white sheets she was laying on, and neither did her matching leggings. A thin, possibly woolen, off white colored blanket covered her from the abdomen down.
Nearby, several Ordonian adults, distinguishable by their short, rounded ears, wearing long white coats with what looked like blue or green uniform shirts on underneath came rushing to her to help her gently lie back down. They were calling to each other pointing at her as they came, but she couldn't understand the words.
“Where… where am I?” She asked them, her voice more groggy than she actually felt.
One of the adults was a woman, clearly another Ordonian but one who had long, golden blond hair and high, Hylian like cheekbones like herself. She unsettled the girl, as though she was seeing a ghost. Looking at her reminded the girl of images of her queen mother that she had seen in paintings which hung in the royal residence of Hyrule Castle. She had never known her mother. Her late majesty had died giving birth to her. The Hylian girl shrunk back into the bed in alarm at this, and all the other strange adults around her inspecting the strange black mirrors, and crowding around the bed.
Seeing this, the woman standing over her sent the others away and, pulling a nearby metal stool closer to her bed, she sat down next to her and took the girl’s hand gently. She then began trying to speak to her more slowly in a calm, soothing tone of voice.
The girl looked at her with a blank, but studious stare, and eventually shook her head slowly trying to indicate that she didn’t understand a word that the woman who looked so much like her mother was saying.
The woman smiled a compassionate, almost maternal or sisterly compassionate smile. The next thing she did was point at herself with the index finger of her slender right hand and say, “Jennifer.”
She then pointed at the Hylian and spoke three unintelligible but distinct words more slowly.
She wants to know my name. The girl realized.
Taking Jennifer’s cue, the girl pointed back at herself and said with her Castle Town Hylian accent, “Zelda.”
For a brief moment, Zelda thought should have said or added, “Princess Zelda of the Royal Family of Hyrule,” but looking at this woman and what surroundings she could see, Zelda doubted that it would be helpful to either of them. Everyone in Hyrule and its surrounding lands that she knew of spoke Hylian. Everyone that would know her name spoke Hylian. This woman clearly didn't.
She tried to experiment with communicating with this woman who was trying to be kind to her and prayed to the goddess that she would understand. She pointed to the woman and repeated her word, “Jennifer.”
The woman nodded her head in affirmation and said “uh-huh,” positively.
She then pointed at herself again and said, “Zelda.” She then pointed at the mark on her left hand, the seal of the Royal family and added “Princess Zelda” to see if there was any recognition in Jennifer’s eyes.
The woman seemed confused, but her eyes told Zelda that she understood that it meant something important somehow.
Good, she’s not witless. Zelda thought to herself.
The princess knew many people in her household staff who were dear to her, but were completely incapable of solving even the simplest problems. She had the sense this woman would not be one of them. She could work with that.
Zelda then swept her right hand in wide half circle around her to include the entire room, and then pointed straight at the floor, shrugged her shoulders and said slowly, enunciating every word, “Where am I?” Though now knowing that she wouldn’t comprehend the sounds, she hoped the woman would pick up on what she was trying to ask.
Jennifer’s eyes followed the motion of Zelda’s hand trying to understand what she was doing as the princess looked her in the eyes. It took a few seconds for Jennifer to realize what she meant, and then her eyes reflected her understanding.
She repeated Zelda’s sweeping gesture, ending with pointing at the floor and said, “Atlantis.” She then pointed straight down and said, “Earth.”
Again, that same feeling of familiarity and deja vu filled her at the first name the woman gave her. For some reason she knew this word, Atlantis, and it awoke feelings of home and sadness within her that she couldn’t explain but were very real and powerful. A single tear formed in the corner of her left eye on the mere mention of the name of this place, but her ten year old mind could not explain to her why.
She knew the names of every land in their world. Her father had ensured that she had been schooled in the geography and politics of their world. But she was certain, in spite of the strange and sudden feelings they awoke, these were names she had never heard. They sounded as alien to her mother tongue, as the gibberish the woman spoke.
She looked at the woman carefully. She looked so Hylian, except for her rounded ears which marked her as one of the people of the southernmost province under Hyrule’s authority. She had only seen a few Ordonians in her lifetime, and those only visited Hyrule Castle on official business. Built very similarly to Hylians, in addition to their stunted ears Ordonians tended to be a little stockier and less physically refined than Hylians, but they were a good, hardworking people that had proven valuable assets to Hyrule’s kingdom time and again.
Zelda brought her hand to her own ears. They extended out from her head and ended in tapered points just as they had always done. She then, slowly reached out to touch Jennifer's ears which were exposed by her hair being pulled back into a pony-tail. The woman kindly let her, gibbering at her softly. She could feel no scars or obvious mutilations. These ears were natural. This woman was born this way. She then moved her eyes to some of the other people who were standing off in other parts of the room. They were of every color and size it seemed, although all looked basically Hylian except for their strange rounded ears.
Looking again at the chamber around her, the room she was in was copper and gray colored with several of the white beds like her own in a row and many of what looked like mechanical devices and the strange black mirrors and windows with bright colors and words positioned all over the room and mounted to the walls. She saw no one else that she recognized, and no one who was like her in the room, and she couldn't ask how she got here. Or could she?
Looking at Jennifer again, she saw a kindness and curiosity in her pale green eyes. There was no malice or malignant intent in them. Zelda felt that she could could be trusted. She needed to trust her to learn more about where she was and how she arrived there. But how to ask?
She thought for a moment how to frame her question with gestures so that the woman would understand, but couldn't think of any way to do it. Without any common frame of reference, any kind of a real conversation was impossible.
Then the back of her right hand suddenly began to itch. At first, it was just a mild irritation, but it grew quickly into something she couldn’t ignore.
She looked at the triangle mark on the back of her bare hand. The golden outline of her birthmark was glowing with a luminescence she had rarely experienced before in her ten short years. The Triforce was the seal of the royal house, and that was all most people, common or noble alike, thought the mark meant, that she was born royal.
Zelda, however, had known how much more it meant. Somehow, she had always known, since before she could talk. She guarded a sacred, divine power that had been her constant companion and teacher all of her life. And at that moment, she knew it was prompting her to call on the Wisdom of her patron goddess, Nayru.
As she looked at the kindly woman in front of her, that Wisdom told her that she had the need now. She closed her eyes and touched the triangle on her left hand with her right and prayed to her goddess silently and within herself. As always before when she had reached out to Nayru, she felt a kind of maternal touch reach back lovingly from her deity to answer.
I need to know the speech of these people, great Nayru, she prayed, grant me the knowledge and wisdom I seek.
The triangle glowed with a bright golden white energy under her touch and power flowed through her body and into her mind, unlocking and opening pathways she didn’t know existed before now.
“What was that?” The woman said in surprise, staring at the girl’s hand.
Zelda opened her eyes. She understood the words perfectly. She then tested her new language. “Can you understand me now?” The words were heavily accented from her own tongue, but intelligible she was certain.
“Yes!” Jennifer exclaimed in surprise. “How did you do that? What did you do?”
“It is an ancient magic of the Royal Family.” She told her matter of factly, then changed subjects quickly, adopting a tone more befitting her royal station. “I need to know how I arrived here. How far are we from Hyrule? What happened to my royal bodyguards? Why am I the only Hylian here?”
“I don't know.” Jennifer said taken aback with the new development and questions. “You came through the Stargate... um... the Ancestral Ring unconscious like you had been thrown. We still don't know how you made it through our iris shield.”
“What is an Ancestral Ring? A Stargate?” Zelda asked.
“Uh, chappa’ai?” Jennifer tried again.
Zelda shook her head, not recognizing the still foreign word.
“You don't know what a Stargate is?” Jennifer asked.
“No.” Zelda responded.
“So then you wouldn't know the gate address you came from then, I take it?” She then said.
Zelda shook her head again, “No. I don't know what that is.”
“Well, you're still not completely better. You hit your head on the floor pretty good when you came through. I still don't know why you were unconscious, and there's some other people who will want to talk to you, Zelda. So for right now, you're going to have to stay put in the medical center and get better.” Jennifer told her.
“Are you a healer?” Zelda asked.
She thought for a moment, and then nodded her head. “Yes, you could say that. Here I'm called a Doctor.” She said.
“Thank you for your kindness Doctor Jennifer. I'm certain I can well compensate you for your trouble once I am able to return home.” Zelda told her.
Jennifer smiled and said, “Let's worry about you getting better first, then we can talk about the bill.” She then added, “Are you hungry?”
Zelda thought for a minute, then said, “Yes.”
“I'll have a tray of food sent up. Once you're well rested, we talk more about where you're from and how to get you home, okay?” She said in a friendly way.
“Thank you, Doctor, I'm sure the food will be delightful.” Zelda said.
Jennifer smiled, and then left Zelda to her thoughts.