The Kokiri have one rule: if you see something in a dream, you do not intervene.
Prophetic dreams are a gift from Farore, goddess of courage and oracle of time. They are to be shared and turned into songs to give the world tidings of the future. It is the Kokiri’s role to see but never to act. Whether they would be believed was never a question. Kokiri dreams always came to pass. Besides, the Kokiri are children of the forest. What could they do outside of the forest?
Link knows this rule. It’s an easy rule.
When he wakes up in the middle of the night, dripping with cold sweat, he immediately leaves his hollow and goes straight to the Great Deku Tree. Navi, his fairy companion, flutters behind him and provides light and comfort as he recounts the dream to his guardian: A wicked man in black with hair like fire towering over a pretty girl trapped in a crystal.
The Great Deku Tree counsels Link. The young boy is still shaken by what he had seen. The Great Deku Tree suggests he compose a song for his dream so it could be heard beyond the Forest. That, however, could wait until the next morning. The night is still young and Link needed his sleep.
Before returning to bed, Link had one more question for the Great Deku Tree: will the pretty girl be saved?
A flowering branch pats him on the head, responding that it is up to the goddesses now.
Link spends several days composing the perfect song for his dream. It had to be something that would inspire someone to save the pretty girl from the wicked man. Every night, he had the same dream. It grew more and more vivid until Link could smell the sweat from the wicked man, who didn’t seem so wicked anymore but he was definitely very frustrated. He could see the tears the pretty girl was trying to hold back. He heard her quiet prayer echoing in his ears even after he woke up: Oh Hylia, divine predecessor and goddess of my ancestors, please deliver me from this place.
Link finishes the song the next day.
He stands on the highest branches of the Great Deku Tree and plays his song to the winds on a borrowed ocarina. The winds would carry the song across Hyrule, placing it on the lips of bards and minstrels, until it came to the ears of the hero who would save the pretty girl from the frustrated man.
The Great Deku Tree lowers Link back to the ground and he runs off to play with the others, Navi trailing behind to warn him to watch out! His mind is finally at ease knowing that someone, somewhere, will hear his song and rescue the pretty girl.
But that night, he has the same dream.
Link watches as the towering man with red hair paces back and forth before the pretty girl’s crystal prison. He tries so hard to look big and mean and scary but Link knows him now. The man isn’t really wicked; he’s just frustrated and worried and mad that the only solution is to kidnap the girl.
The pretty girl is also trying too. She tries not to show her fear and tries to be strong. But Link sees her tremble whenever the towering man looks at her and hears her voice waver whenever she speaks out against him.
And throughout the dream, Link hears his song.
Link doesn’t leave his hollow the next day. Navi worriedly hovers overhead asking are you okay? and what’s wrong Link? until finally she starts demanding hey listen! Link ignores her.
Eventually, Navi leaves and brings Saria back with her. Link may be able to tune out his fairy, but doing the same to another Kokiri, especially one he deeply respects, would be much harder.
Saria sits down beside Link and asks what’s on his mind.
Link trusts Saria; his trust for her comes second only to the Great Deku Tree. She’s his big sister - she’s everyone’s big sister. She’s always the first one to stop any arguments and the one everyone goes to when they need to cry. She’s also the smartest of the Kokiri, having left the forest many times to traverse the outside world. When Elder Fami becomes a Korok, they know Saria will be the Elder.
So Link asks Saria what it means when a dream keeps occurring even after its song has been sent out. Saria smiles at him and Link, having spent many nights watching the pretty girl and towering man, knows she’s trying not to cry.
There’s still more to the story, she tells him. The goddesses still have more to impart to you. So just watch and listen and it will be made clear.
And that’s what Link does. For many moons Link analyses his dream, exploring every part of the room and noting every action from the pretty girl and towering man. It comes to the point that he can mimic their moves perfectly, ghosting their movements and quoting their words.
One night, Link discovers he can leave the room and that there was a much wider world he could explore. The room is part of a giant stone maze-place patrolled by red-haired ladies with sharp weapons and scary monsters that snort and growl and smell terrible. The ladies don’t like the monsters and the monsters don’t like them but they all follow the towering man so they play nice.
Link sees two red-haired ladies in particular, one with silver arm braces and one who crackles with lightning, arguing over whether or not they should leave the towering man - and not in the romantic mushy way. They’re yelling and crying and screaming and Link knows it isn’t his place to watch.
After several more nights navigating through the maze-place, Link finds his way out - and is greeted with sand, sand for as far as the eye can see. He gets lost so many times trying to find a path because everything looks the same once the maze-place is out of sight. It’s after a full cycle that Link finally finds a way out of the sandy-place and sees grass and trees - things he never thought he would miss.
Link passes so many people as he wanders down the forest path. They aren’t giants like the red-haired people from the maze-place, they’re just...grown-up. Kokiri don’t grow up like that, and they get even smaller when they become Koroks, but Link thinks it would be nice if he could be that tall.
There are so many things in the outside world. The people are all so different with there being bird-people and fish-people and rock-people along with the grown-ups - Link notices there aren’t any red-haired tall people like in the maze-place but he doesn’t think much of it. They don’t live in tree hollows like the Kokiri and Koroks do. That would be silly considering how much, much bigger they all are. Instead they have places of stone and wood that they make themselves - which is really smart of them.
Link recognises some of the animals wandering about but there are some he has never seen before. Fluffy ones and horned ones and pecking ones and friendly ones. His favourite new animal, however, are the tall gentle ones he sometimes sees grown-ups riding that can go really really fast. He also finds it funny when grown-ups get kicked trying to sneak up on them.
When Link wakes up the next morning, he can’t help but feel a little disappointed by the sameness of the forest compared to the outside world of his dreams. He never thought he would ever want anything more, but after seeing what lies beyond the forest and the Lost Woods, he understands why Saria is always travelling to the outside.
In one of his dreams, Link wanders into another giant stone-place. There’s something grand to it, like a mix between the Great Deku Tree and the Korok Ceremony, but different somehow. Despite it being bigger than any other place he’s dreamed of, there’s not too many people about. It’s mostly grown-ups in blue with spears standing completely still like statues.
Then he comes to a room where an old lady is crying. She has cloth over the wall-holes, dimming the room like the inside of a hollow. She’s all alone and she’s so sad.
“Oh please, please those above, please listen. Farore the Courageous, Nayru the Wise and Din the Powerful; goddess-ancestor Hylia and even Ere of the Shadows...I beg of you, bring my daughter back to me.”
And Link stiffens. This was a mother. The pretty girl’s mother. Kokiri didn’t have mothers or fathers. Kokiri were children of the forest that would one day become Korok spirits of the forest. They didn’t have grown-ups who watched over them and cared for them and...and loved them.
Link wakes up the next morning crying. He ignores Navi and Saria and even the Great Deku Tree as he climbs up to the tallest branches in the forest. His song isn’t complete but for a day and a night and a day again he plays it to the winds pleading that the hero would hear it and rescue the pretty girl.
After that, Link collapses from exhaustion.
His dream that night was short, the shortest he’s ever had (and unknowingly, it would be his last).
Link sees himself leaving the forest through the hungry tree with Navi reluctantly following behind him. He’s carrying a sword and shield he’s never seen before. He watches himself leave the forest, never turning to look back.
He hears his song and it’s complete.
Link wakes up in his hollow with a distressed Saria by his bedside and Navi frantically darting about above. He doesn’t need to tell her anything. Saria knows. She’s known since he told her that his dreams kept repeating.
The prophecy was for Link. If he wants the pretty girl, and the towering man, saved then he would have to do so himself.
Link would have to break the Rule.
Navi zooms down and tells him that he doesn’t have to do it. Stay in the forest where it’s safe! The outside world is dangerous! You don’t owe these people anything! You don’t even know them!
But Link does know them. He’s spent many cycles with the pretty girl and the towering man. He knows what the outside world is like. He’s lived it and he knows a part of him will always yearn for it.
Kokiri dreams always came to pass.
Saria pulls him into a deep hug. “You will have to learn to use your words Link,” she says , “You will have to learn how to use a sword.”
Link hugs her back even tighter, tears streaming down his face. “Goodbye.” he croaks.
The Great Deku Tree already knows. He directs Link to one of the innermost hollows where a sword and shield are hidden.
“May Farore’s Wind guide you, my child. Grow up into a man of great renown.”
Grow up. That’s right.
When Link breaks the Rule, he could never come back. He wouldn’t be Kokiri anymore. He would never become a Korok. He would never see his home and family ever again.
“I’ll stay with you for as long as I can,” Navi says.
So breaking the Rule meant Navi would have to leave too.
When Link breaks the Rule, he will lose everything.
When Link breaks the Rule, he will be alone.
...Kokiri dreams always came to pass.
Link doesn’t say goodbye to Mido or Fado or Elder Fami who he can never see again. He doesn’t stop to take one last look at the forest he can never return to. He goes straight to the hungry tree.
There are people that he needs to save.