The Far Sea: Chapter 60


Someone was singing.

A woman...



No... not a woman...

Whales were calling over the wild waters...



He was warm. It was so comfortable to lie here... so pleasant to listen to the sighing of the waves. He wanted nothing--nothing more than to be able to lie like this forever. Faintly, in the distance, he could hear the ethereal cries of gulls: the thin, breathy pweeh! of the juveniles, the loud crowing arh-arh-arh of the white-winged adults with their bright beaks and golden dragon's eyes. Gulls. Warm. He wanted no more from life than that. Something fluttered by his head and he considered worrying about it; but he was too comfortable as he was. Whatever it was, it would keep. It was not important...

The gull began to peck and tweak at his hair, and that woke him up. He flung one hand up jerkily and the backs of his fingers slapped something smooth and soft which exploded in a fluttering of strong wings; the gull fled. He wanted to slip back into the peace then, and nearly did, but something was niggling at him now. Something was... not right.

He opened his eyes, was blinded, and squeezed them shut again with a weak animal cry. His arms flailed weakly; he seemed to have forgotten how to use them. By trial and error he found his face and covered his stinging eyes with his hand. Now he was beginning to feel things as separate from him; the warm sand at his back, the warm sun on his face, the rush of the breath in his lungs. His toes were cold in the breaking waves. He had a body; he had forgotten. Was that it? Was that what he had lost?

No. There was something else. He opened his eyes again, and this time he was not dazzled but blind; his hand was still over his face. He rolled over weakly and lay on his side. The hand fell away and he saw a stretch of gold rolling out before him. Too much! The intensity of color overpowered him, and he had to close his eyes again for a moment. Color. Light. Was that what he had lost? No... something was still missing.

He sat up and looked at himself with some interest. Hands--two of them--tanned brown, bare to the elbows. The ragged remnants of a once-white shirt covered him from there on up. He had a pair of brown woollen trousers, also tattered and full of holes; his feet were bare. There was a leather belt around his waist and from this hung a long thing, suspended from a loop of loose leather. He touched a cool metal hilt and remembered the word: sword. Words... he had forgotten those too. Did all this belong to him? He thought that it did. That was a good thing. But it was not what he had lost. What else was there? Around his neck... something...

There was a carved emerald medallion on a golden chain. He held it easily in his palm, letting the sun catch in the translucent jewel. The weight was familiar in his fingers; it was a good thing, a thing that belonged. Was this it?

This is the Amulet, he thought suddenly.


That was not what he had lost, though it was close. He stared at the pendant for a long time, willing himself to understand. And then, suddenly, he had it.

"Link," he said. "My name is Link."

He got to his feet, wobbling slightly, and looked around properly for the first time. He was standing on a beach--not a barren little stretch of pebbles like that of the lonely island, but a long, curving, golden-sand beach, fringed by palm trees. A few yards up was the high-water line, a scatter of seaweed and broken shells with bits of driftwood here and there. It was daytime and there was not a cloud to be seen; the sky was the intense, unnatural blue of a dream. Link glanced behind him and saw the vast sea gleaming like a gem. There was a slight depression in the sand where he had been lying, and he could feel the grittiness of sand inside his ruined clothing. It was caked on his legs and stuck to the bare skin of his forearms.

"Wait a minute," he said out loud. "This... This isn't right. I'm in a boat! I'm supposed to be in a boat!" He turned wildly, staring about him; there was no sign of the boat along the huge beach, not even the smallest fragment of white-painted wood. And this island--this island was too big. It rose above him into a great mountain, its peak lost in cloud: none of the islands they had seen had been like this, and they could not have missed anything this size. "Where am I?" Link shouted into the air. Only the wheeling gulls answered. He sat down hard on the fine sand and clutched the Amulet tight in both hands until his fingers hurt on the hard surface; he found that he was shivering despite the warmth.

Slowly, methodically, he began to go through recent events in his mind, bringing them back into view; he felt confused and somehow impermanent, as if his memories were trying to slip away through a hole in the bottom of his head. They came back easily enough. We went to the island to see if anyone lived there... and we found the old man... and then the ship left without us and we chased it... and then..? "Dark," he said out loud, and jumped to his feet again. "Dark! Where are you?" He stared left and right along the emptiness of the beach. It was several moments before he spotted the thin black figure, several hundred yards along from him--standing knee-deep in the breaking waves. Link broke into a run, kicking lumps of wet sand up behind him. "Dark!" he shouted, waving madly. "Dark, over here!" The figure turned, stood still for a moment and then came up out of the water towards him. They met on the edge of the sea where the waves became a thin film, sliding up around their feet and then soaking away, leaving pale foam to hiss and crackle on the sand.

They stared at each other for a long time, fascinated by each other's appearance. Dark's clothes were as ragged as Link's own, and he too had lost his boots somewhere. His dark blue tunic was badly torn and hung from one shoulder; the white shirt and pants beneath were shredded. His cloak was gone, and there was golden sand glistening in his black hair and on his skin.

"Are you all right?" Link asked.

"I... think so." Dark stared at him for several moments more, and then turned his head away and looked up, in the direction he had been facing when Link noticed him. The young warrior frowned, puzzled, and followed his gaze. It took him another second to realise what his companion was doing, and what that meant.

Dark was looking at the sun.

"It doesn't hurt you," Link said softly, understanding. "What's going on? Where are we?"

"I know not." Dark dragged his gaze away from the sky with obvious reluctance, and looked at him again. "I... I do not believe that this is real."

"How can it not be real? I can feel the sand under my feet." But then how could Dark be..? We fell asleep, Link thought suddenly, remembering a little more of what had happened. "Is this some sort of dream? Are we asleep, or dead?"

"Why are you asking me all these questions? I know none of the answers. I am as puzzled as you."

"I wasn't really asking you," he said. "I was really asking myself. I don't know. I don't understand anything." He paused. "When you... woke up... Did you find that you had forgotten things? Absolutely fundamental things? And they only came back when you really thought about them?"

"Yes," Dark said, his expression faraway. "I... forgot... This island... I think that it does not want us to remember."

"Remember what?"

"Everything." The shadow laughed softly. "It would not be difficult. I was tempted to do as it wanted. I felt... content. Whole."

"Happy," Link said quietly. He frowned. "There is some magic at work here. I am not sure I like it."

"Remind me never to get into a boat with you again," Dark said with a dry smile. He glanced up at the sun once more, than back to Link. "Shall we go?" he asked.

"Go? Where?"

"Anywhere. Off these shores. Perhaps if we walk we shall find some answer."



They walked along the beach together, moving slowly in order to look around and marvel. There was a breathtaking, painful beauty about everything; the palm trees glowed jewel-like beneath the azure sky. Azure sky... Link had read such poetic descriptions in old books and thought them rather silly at the time, but in this case it seemed no more than an accurate description of the shade. The blue was so intense that it almost hurt to look at it. And the sand was so golden that it shone. Everything seemed to have a very faint brightness about it that blurred edges and made the eyes drunk. He began to wonder very seriously whether they were dead. He had never been religious; he knew little about what was supposed to happen after one died. He was starting to wish that he had paid more attention.

"What happened to our clothes?" Dark asked suddenly.

Link jerked, shaken out of a reverie. "I don't know," he said, peering down at himself again. "These were new on yesterday, and look at them now--I might have been a castaway for five years or so!" He plucked at a ragged strip of his shirt to illustrate his point. His sleeve was hanging by a few stitches.

"And the boat?"

"No sign of it." He sighed then, thinking of those sweet cakes; he suddenly felt very hungry. His stomach growled. "I hope this island is inhabited by something more than sheep," he said, "because I am desperate for something to eat."

The palm trees fell away slowly behind them, and they were walking on past low dunes covered with bristling grass. A soft warm breeze, scented with the land, brushed the tops of the grasses and they sighed and whispered together, swaying dreamily in the sunlight so that bars of light and shadow flickered across the sand. Dark grabbed Link's arm. "Look," he said. "There. A path." A beaten track wound up through the dune-grass, into rolling hills of green where it became a clear and stony pathway. It was not in the least overgrown. Link began to smile. The smile widened when he saw the wooden signpost standing on the dune beside the little trail.

It was weathered and stained, but the script was still easily legible; it had been burned in with a charcoal stick and the words gleamed darkly black against the old brown wood. "Toronbo Shores," Link read out. "Mabe Village... this way." He pointed up along the path. "A village," he said. "That sounds hopeful. And these people are Hylian, or use the Hylian script--they will help us, I know it."

They turned away from the golden beach and followed the path, walking side by side; Link trod carefully, mindful of his feet, but found that the stones were smooth and packed well down with soft earth. Compared to the sand the path was cold and hard on his soles, but it was easy walking even for bare feet. Occasionally the long grass overhanging the path brushed at his calves, tickling his skin through the holes in his flapping, ragged trousers. As they climbed the grass became full of wildflowers; blue-studded butterflies and great fat black-and-gold bees gleamed everywhere, dashing and diving amongst the blooms. They reached the top of a small hill and started down the other side, flanked now by gorse bushes that bowed down with the weight of butter-yellow blossoms.

"Farore's Wind," Link said quietly, admiring.

Dark glanced at him for a moment. "Is it... Is it just me? Everything is so..."

"Bright. Yes. I thought that when I first woke." He rubbed at his eyes for a moment and then looked up; the path wound up over another hill, crossing back and forth on the steep green slope. Beyond, towering over them, was the mountain dark and ghostly in the bright sunlight, shrouded in mists. "Except for that," Link said. It seemed ominous, different from the rest.

They reached the bottom of the hill, where the path ran gleaming through a crystalline stream fringed with reeds; they splashed together through the clear water and padded out onto the far side, leaving dark wet footprints behind them. Both of them were staring about them now, unable not to look at the strange bright beauties of everyday things. There were sheep on this hill, smaller and rounder than the ones on the island; they were black and brown with shaggy winter coats, and they trotted away quickly as Link and Dark approached. Neither of them spoke of it--they knew what that meant. These animals knew people. By an unspoken accord they quickened their pace and jogged up the rest of the way, cutting off a loop of the path as they climbed a grassy bank. The top of the hill was flat for a few yards; the path stretched across it and then dived downward again into a long shallow valley. There was another signpost nearby. "Mabe Village," Link said, reading off it, and then turned to look down.

Water gleamed in the sunlight: a small river ran through the bottom of the valley. Around it were clustered ten or twelve low houses with brightly painted wooden roofs. A little wood masked some of them from full view, but Link saw clearly that there were figures moving about on the dirt streets. He saw sheep penned and smaller black-and-white animals running back and forth--dogs, he thought, although he could not be sure at this distance. A moment later, as if to confirm his guess, he heard the sharp barking of a dog echo up between the flanking hills.

The cobbled path stretched straight down the hillside towards the village. He sighed and looked at Dark, smiling faintly; he swung his arms to banish exhaustion and get the blood flowing. "Well," he said, shifting his feet, "let's go."

"Wait. Wait a moment." Dark caught at his arm; his brow was wrinkled, worried. "Are you... are you sure that I should come?"

"Explain," Link said quietly.

He hesitated, looking down at his bare feet on the stones. "People... are often afraid of me, when they first see me. I think perhaps I should stay here for now. It... might... cause trouble."

Link was quiet for a moment. "No," he said. "Come with me. We go down together or not at all--and if they turn you out of town, I am coming with you."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure," he said, laughing. "Come on!"

The winding path trailed down into the woods and through them. Link looked up and around and everywhere as they walked; it was so warm, so welcoming, so different to the sombre gloom of Kokiri Forest. Sunlight speared down everywhere through the overhanging leaves, and wherever it touched, there were patches of flowers--bluebells and snowdrops and, when it became wetter, orchids like jeweled flames. They came to a great mossy wall of rock, running with water. Slowly the path sank until they were walking down a cleft between the rock wall and a high earth bank. Ahead, there was light. Link glanced at Dark and moved faster, trotting the last few yards. He came out into a blaze of sunlight. The path turned once more, sharply, zig-zagged between stones, and came out beside a long low cabin of white painted wood.

Three children were playing on the wide dirt road, throwing a leather ball back and forth. They wore rough tunics of homespun wool, brightly colored; their arms and legs were bare. Two, a boy and a girl of about eight years, were pale-skinned with thick fluffy tangles of honey-golden hair; the third, a couple of years younger, was another girl, darker, almost Sosarian in color. All three had slightly slanted eyes and not quite Hylian features. The ball dropped to the ground and rolled away into the roadside grass as they turned and stared at the newcomers. There was utter silence for what felt like an age. Then the blond girl turned and ran away, pounding up the dirt street; she jumped up onto the veranda of another house, pulled open a wooden half door and ran inside. They heard her voice faintly: "Mama! Come quick, there's been a wreck!" More doors banged within.

The smaller girl walked up to them, quite unafraid; she looked them both up and down and put one finger in her mouth for a moment, looked thoughtful and then took the finger out again. Her dark eyes were sharp and intelligent. "Are you off a ship?" she asked.

"That's right," Link said.

The blond boy bent and picked up the discarded ball. He came forward and put his arm around the smaller girl's shoulder, then looked up at them both with a belligerent expression. At that moment the half door banged open again, and a woman stepped out and hurried across the wide street. "Oh, you poor dears," she exclaimed, staring at them. "Mala, go tell your mother what's happened. Popa, would you go find Ulrira?"

"But Mama..." the boy began.

"Go on, Popa, quickly!"

He stared at them for another moment, then reluctantly backed away and ran off down the street. The smaller girl followed.

"Zelda?" Dark said softly. Link whipped round and stared at him, then looked back at the woman. She was young, not that many years older than he himself, and straw-colored hair cascaded loose around her shoulders and halfway down her back. She wore a light blue homespun dress with a cloth belt, and low leather boots. A painted wooden bangle gleamed on her right wrist. She was gorgeously, amazingly beautiful. But she wasn't Zelda--she didn't even look similar. He looked back at Dark again, trying to think of something to say.

"Zelda?" the woman repeated, then shook her head, looking a little puzzled. "My name is Marin. Come on inside and get those rags off. Are you hungry? Are you hurt?"

"No, milady," Link said, smiling, "we're not hurt, but can you tell us where we are?"

"Where you are?" She looked at him for a moment as if she had not understood the question. Her eyes were an intense, unreal blue. "Oh, of course... I'm so sorry. This is Koholint."



The house was dim and cool inside, with a low roof of exposed rafters; the floors were bare boards. A big wooden table stood beneath the window with three chairs tucked beneath it. Another chair stood by a fireplace, along with a couple of little stools. Bright woven hangings decorated the wood walls and there were several burnished copper pots of different sizes hanging up over the fire. The woman swept aside a curtain and led them through a short corridor into another smaller bedroom with a big sheepskin rug laid out on the floor. She went straight to a wooden chest standing in the corner, threw it open and began to root through folded linen. "I'll give you something of my husband's," she said, "you're both about the same size, which is lucky. Those clothes you've got on aren't any good at all."

Link and Dark looked at each other for a moment. "That's very kind of you, milady," Link said eventually. "I'm... we're sorry to impose like this..."

"Not at all, not at all. Please don't worry about it." She stood up with a short tunic in each hand, and smiled at them. "You're not the first to wash up on Toronbo, and I'm sure you won't be the last. We try to make people welcome--it's the least we can do." She was laying the clothes out on the table now: a forest green tunic with sleeves and collar edged in yellow thread, and a plainer dark red one. "There we are," she said. "Try those on for now and I'll go get you something to eat." The door closed behind her.

Left alone in the room, they stared at each other. "Why did you call her Zelda?" Link said.

Dark looked puzzled. "I am not sure. It is just... She reminds me..." He shook his head for a moment, looking utterly confused. "She looks like her. Not your Zelda--I mean the first Zelda. The one I knew. If... If I did not know that she was a thousand years dead, I would have said that they were one and the same."

"Koholint," Link mused. He went to the table and picked up the green tunic, then shook it out and held it up against himself. It looked like it would be a good fit. The garment was familiar to him--it was much like the summer tunics he had worn as a child. The short sleeves reached to his elbows; the hem would be an inch or so above his knees. "Green or red?" he asked, looking up with a mischievous grin.

"Red," Dark said, smiling at that. "I would feel wrong in green."

"Thought so." He put the tunic down again and began to undo his shirt. Only two buttons were left on it, and one fell away as he touched it. The shirt was torn to shreds; he wondered how that could have happened. Perhaps if there had been rocks in the sea--but there were no scratches on his skin. He brushed at himself, grimacing. "I'm covered in sand."

"I also. I need a bath."

Link dropped his shirt to the floor and stretched out both arms above his head, feeling his muscles straining. His bare feet ached from the long walk through the hills. He took a deep breath, filling his chest, held it for several seconds and then exhaled slowly, enjoying the sensation of his young strong body. After a moment he took up the green tunic and pulled it over his head. It fit perfectly. He turned his back and reached up under the hem to undo his sword belt. The tattered brown pants fell to the ground and he stepped out of them, and stood wearing nothing more than the light tunic, his legs and arms bare and still sandy. He pulled his belt free from the discarded trousers and buckled it around his waist, passing it through the loops of the tunic. "There," he said. "I'm dressed. Are you dressed?"

"I am dressed."

He turned round again and laughed aloud. Dark looked at him, scowling. "Sorry," Link said. "It's just... I don't think I have ever seen your knees before."

"Oh, very funny." Dark pulled irritably at the short tunic. It fit him well enough, but it did seem a light, flimsy thing--more like something a child would wear. He smoothed out a wrinkle and tightened his belt a notch to cover up embarrassment.

There was a knock on the door. "Are you decent?" called Marin. She opened the door without waiting for their answer. "There now, that's better," she said, smiling at them both. "How are you feeling? Are you hungry?"

"Starving," Link said at once.

She bent and picked up their discarded clothes, draping them over her arm. "Come on into the kitchen. I'll see what I can get you."

They sat opposite each other at the wooden table with a shaft of sunlight falling between them. Link glanced out of the window and guessed it to be early afternoon from the length of the shadows. The two girl-children were playing their game again, running back and forth and tossing the ball from hand to hand. A black and white dog bounded around them, barking madly and trying to steal the ball; as he watched, the little dark-skinned girl dropped it and the dog ran off with it. They gave chase, screaming in delight.

Marin set a couple of empty plates down before them. "That's my daughter Ella," she said, "and the little one is Mala, one of Papahl's little girls. My son Popa you've met already. I've sent him off to find Ulrira--he's the village headman. He'll want to know what's going on." She smiled at them both. "It's quite an event for a stranger to turn up on Koholint."

"Does it happen often?" Link asked.

"Often enough." Marin turned away and busied herself at the range. "My husband was another castaway--the last one. He washed up on Toronbo a little over ten years ago."

He thought about that for a while. Ten years between ships. It did not sound too good.

"Ulrira will probably want to talk to you before too long," Marin said as she came back to the table, a round steaming bowl in each hand. She set the bowls down before them and gave them each a spoon and a small bread roll. "I think you might get quite a lot of attention. Don't take it the wrong way! We just like to hear the news once in a while."

Link looked into his bowl. It was filled with a thick pale broth, and the smell made him feel light-headed with hunger. He dipped his spoon in and stirred it around then looked up at her before taking a mouthful. "What is this?" he asked.

"Chicken soup--the cure for all ills," she said, and laughed. "I'll have to leave you both now and get on with the washing. Just put the bowls in the sink when you're done." The sink was a big stone basin against the far wall. A polished earthenware pitcher stood beside it on the worktop.

Link stirred his soup and then took a spoonful. It was gorgeous. There were herbs in it, and pieces of shredded chicken on the bottom of the bowl, so soft and tender that they fell apart on the spoon. He swallowed several mouthfuls one after the other, careless of the heat, and then picked up his roll and broke it. The bread was new-baked and sweet. He dipped a piece of it in the soup and chewed slowly, closing his eyes to give full attention to the taste: heaven.

Dark stared at his bowl for two or three minutes as the wisps of steam curled up into the golden air. He picked up his spoon and looked at it, then began to eat without comment. Link raised one eyebrow but said nothing.



Old Man Ulrira was very tall and very broad, with a huge white mat of curling cloud-like beard. His eyes were the same intense blue as Marin's, and he had a roaring belly laugh which shook his entire frame. Link warmed to him at once.

"You see, my boy," he was saying, squeezed into one of the slim wooden chairs at Marin's table, "we're a quiet little place. The world passes us by mostly, and we're fine with that. But we do get curious to know what's happening back in the old country once in a while. We don't get to hear much news, way out here in the middle of nowhere."

"I can't tell you much, sir," Link said honestly. "Things are peaceful right now... for the most part, anyway."

"Where you from, my boy? Hyrule, is it?"

"Calatia, sir."

Ulrira leaned forward and peered into his face. "Eh? Where's that?"

"A land south of Hyrule," Dark said quietly. He was standing, leaning against the wall with his arms folded as he listened to their conversation; he had contributed little himself.

"Hmm..." Ulrira nodded slowly. "South of Hyrule... I'll have to take a look at my maps later. I don't seem to recall that name. Calatia... Calatia..." He shook his head. "Nope, it's gone. Ah well. I don't suppose it's all that important now. Even so we should get the details straight. I'll ask you to come down to my house in a few days, after you've settled in, and then we can talk about all that." Ulrira glanced toward Dark, then back at Link, and leaned back into his chair until the wood creaked with his weight. "Well then, boys," he said. "How's everything? Are you comfortable? I've had a word with young Marin and she'll put you up in the back until we can sort out something more spacious."

Link smiled. "Sir, it's... very kind of you all to welcome us like this." In truth he was starting to feel a little uneasy, for some reason he could not quite articulate to himself. Everyone was being so kind--both to him and to Dark. But... There it was. That was what was bothering him. "Sir," he said carefully, "we're grateful for all your help, but we can't stay here too long. We need to figure out how to get back to our friends."

"Eh?" Ulrira looked at him as if he had not understood.

"We need to find our ship again," Link explained. "Um... Does anyone have a boat? We've no money, but perhaps we could work our passage--or when we find our friends they'll pay whatever fee is necessary."

"Eh?" Ulrira said again. "You want to leave the island?"

"Well..." Link looked at the tabletop for a moment. "Yes," he said, a little puzzled.

Ulrira was silent for a long time--over a minute. His white beard bristled. "Hmm," he said finally. "Well, we'll have to see. Yes... we'll see what we can do." He brightened. "Now then, what else is there? You'll want to know where things are, I'd imagine. Drop by the library tomorrow--the big white building with the gables, just down the road there--and take a look at some of my maps. They've got 'em all bound up neat in books."

"Thank you, sir," Link said, "we will." He glanced at Dark, who shrugged slightly.

"All right then." Ulrira put his big hands on the tabletop, pushed down, rose out of his chair. He stretched up to his full height and adjusted the collar of his shirt. "Well, boys, it's getting late and I'd better get going... I'll leave you to rest up. Must be tired, eh?" Suddenly he snapped his fingers. "Oh! Names! Got to be put in the book! Nearly forgot!" He pointed at Link. "You?"

"Link," he said automatically. "Of the Kokiri."

"Link?" Ulrira repeated, looking thoughtful. "Hmm? Well, that's interesting."

"Interesting?" Link asked. "Why?"

The old man was quiet for another few seconds, looking him up and down; then he shrugged. "It doesn't matter." Half-turning, he looked toward Dark, who shifted uneasily under his gaze. "What about you?" Ulrira said. "Where you from? Sosaria?"

"Sosaria?" Dark looked mystified. "No... I am... I am from Hyrule."

"Really? Hmm. You don't look Hylian. And your name?"

But Dark was thoroughly lost now, staring at the man in helpless confusion, and it was left to Link to answer. "Dark," he said. "That's his name."

"Good for him," Ulrira said. He walked to the door and paused there, looking back at them with a big sunny grin beneath his beard. "Welcome to Koholint, boys. Don't worry about a thing. You're among friends now." And with that he was gone.



They walked around the village that evening as the sun set slowly behind the mountain. Everyone already seemed to know their names, and people called to them from windows or came up in the street to introduce themselves. Mabe was a large village by Hylian standards; there were fourteen houses and nine extended families, plus three or four shops and a big white building with swinging double-doors: the library that Ulrira had mentioned. Link took a look inside and saw long wooden shelves stacked with books on a pale pinewood floor. Everything was light and airy--not much like the huge old library in Hyrule Castle, where the arched windows were so cobwebbed that one needed candles in the daytime.

Marin's husband was still not back; she explained that he was up in the hills on some business of his own, and must not be expected for a few days. They ate their evening meal with her and the two children, sitting at the big wooden table in the combined living room and kitchen. Marin talked about the island, naming places for them. The great mountain peak was called Tamaranch, and the rough hill country round about was Tal Tal Heights. Mabe stood between Toronbo and a long rolling stretch of grassland known as Ukuku Prairie. Link listened carefully, trying to take everything in and build himself a mental image of the island; but, he thought, Ulrira had been right, it would be easiest if he could take a look at a map.

"I've cleared out the spare room for you," Marin said, taking up a candle in an old bronze holder and handing it to Link. "Will you be all right sleeping on a bunk? I'm afraid it's a little cramped; it used to be the children's room when my father was still living with us."

Link glanced at Dark, who just shrugged--he had been shrugging a lot today. The young warrior smiled as he looked back to Marin. "It will be fine," he said. "Thank you."

As they went down the corridor to their room, they faintly heard the boy Popa asking, "Why's he got black skin, Mama?"

"Shush," Marin scolded. "He'll hear you."

"But why?"

"He's probably from Sosaria. Now shush!"

Link grinned and shook his head as he opened their door. The little room was the one where they had changed earlier; new woven coverlets had been put on the old bunk bed, and the window had been cleaned. It smelled warmly of wood resin and clean linen. More fresh clothes had been put out for them on the table, and two pairs of light leather ankle boots. "Where are you from, Dark?" he asked teasingly, setting the candle down on the windowsill.

"Oh, be quiet," Dark muttered.



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