The Far Sea: Chapter 72

IÁRU would not go up into the town, no matter what arguments they used to persuade him. He did not like the town; he did not like the people; he would not accept their hospitality. At last Link went running alone to the inn to fetch the others, leaving Zelda waiting anxiously on the Stormy Petrel's deck. It seemed an age to her before he reappeared, coming down the hill at a jog with Sofia and Dark hurrying behind.

There was not room for five in the Stormy Petrel's tiny cabin. They crowded down into the hold and sat or squatted as best they could on what was available.

"Don't go expecting miracles," Iáru said as soon as they had settled down, in the golden glow of half a dozen storm lamps. "I don't have it, all right? It's nothing to do with me. Get that straight first off." He leaned back against the ladder and folded his arms. "I can show you to some people who might know more. But don't go expecting miracles off them either. I can't promise you they'll want to help you."

"We'll be more than grateful for anything--any lead," Link answered earnestly. Zelda sat back and nodded agreement. Her heart was singing.

"Yeah, sure," Iáru said uneasily. "The fact is, I'm not too popular myself with these people. I'll bring you there, but you're the ones who'll have to do the negotiating. Best I can do for you. Okay?"

"It's wonderful," Zelda told him, meaning it with all her spirit.

He outlined the situation in a few short and characteristically blunt words. There was indeed a Zora settlement near the Isles of the Winds, but the Zoran folk had isolated themselves rigidly, having refused to have anything to do with Hylians since the end of the Imprisoning War--an astonishing amount of time ago. The Zoras had helped the Hero of Time--and grudgingly at that--because he had avowed a bond to the Hylian kings and they still considered themselves in debt to a particular ancestor of that line. For the country and its people, even for the Triforce, they cared nothing at all. Their loyalty, such as it was, was to the Harkinian family alone.

But even this weak allegiance was grown tiresome to them now. The Zoras, in all honesty, wanted nothing so much as to be left alone. They had very little now to do with the world above. Beneath the waters they lived on as they had done for countless centuries; their ways and their society had not changed since the end of the Age of Legends. In this they were content. It might be that they would aid the Knights in order to discharge that last fragment of their responsibility towards Hyrule--or they might simply ignore their request. Iáru could not say.

Zelda drew a few conclusions of her own from the way he spoke. She guessed that Iáru found the society of his people stifling--his was a fiercely independent personality in a culture which discouraged any deviation from the norm. Even so he was a Zora, better suited physically to live within water rather than on it; he must have been effectively outcast from his own kin to have taken so to life as a sea trader.

Aloud she said, "How far is it to this place?"

Iáru shrugged. "A day's sail with a good headwind. But you'll have to come on my boat--you can't bring that wooden whale with you or they'll never show themselves. Frankly, the fewer know about this place, the happier they'll be."

"We understand," Zelda said, and looked to the others.

"So we leave the Golden Queen and go off on our own again?" Sofia asked, smiling wryly as she leaned forward. "Our soldiers are going to love that--not to mention the captain."

"It would have been easier if we hadn't taken the soldiers, really," Link said.

"Well, we had to," Zelda told him. "So... someone had better go back to the inn and explain matters to the captain." She looked at three blank and innocent faces with dawning realization. "That means me, doesn't it? Well, I am not going alone!"

"Why don't you all go?" Iáru said. "I'm bloody well not setting sail again tonight, I can tell you. I've been back and forth across the whole wretched ocean in the last few days, thanks to you people, and I intend to have at least one quiet night at a mooring before I start acting as your unpaid taxi-driver again."

"We're really sorry, Iáru," Zelda said, trying to stifle laughter.

"Go back to your inn. If you've paid for those beds you might as well get some use out of them." He glanced around the poky little hold. "Anyway, you're not kipping down here again. I still haven't got the mess sorted out from last time."

"How did you find us, anyway?" Sofia asked after a moment, curiously. "I mean, we didn't expect to see you again--not that we're complaining, of course, but you know you didn't have to..."

He looked away. "I was heading this way anyway."

She favoured him with a long, amused look. "Seriously."

"Oh, all right--it was that bloody bird of yours, if you must know. The thing wouldn't bloody leave--it just kept staring at me until I turned round and went back. 'Course, then you weren't there. One of the squawkers said they'd sent you on your way." He grimaced. "You're nothing but trouble, the lot of you. I wish I'd never met you."

"Well," Zelda said, "we're very glad we met you."

He shifted, then pushed himself to his feet. "Good--then perhaps you'll take that wretched bird with you when you leave."

"If he wants to come," Link said quietly.

Iáru made no rejoinder to that. "Be here at sunrise," he said as he laid his hand on the ladder. "If you're late I'll go without you." He scrambled up and vanished into his cabin, leaving them to put out his lanterns, tidy up and make their own way back ashore.



Captain Janiver took the news that they were to leave with surprising good grace. He'd more or less expected it, he said, the moment that Link had come running to the inn with the news of Iáru's arrival. "We can wait on a day or so. But you'll be coming straight back here after?"

"Of course," Zelda said, smiling. She had no idea how her father would react if she and the others turned up in Saria without the frigate he had chartered for them at such great expense, but his response would probably not be a favourable one. "Besides," she added aloud, "I hardly think Iáru would be willing to take us all the way back to Hyrule in his little boat."

"Then I'll wish you good luck, your Highness, and a fair wind. But don't you go doing anything foolish out there--I can hardly go back and tell the King I've lost his daughter." He grinned wryly. "I'd turn pirate first!"

The soldiers were rather more difficult to persuade. The sergeant blustered and spoke too loudly in the thin-walled inn, saying that he could not allow it, the King would have his head. He could not allow the Crown Princess to go off in a small boat without even leaving word of where she would be going, especially after what had happened earlier to the Hero and his shadow. In the end Zelda had to pull rank and give the man an order--and she lay awake most of the night worrying about it. She was still staring at her ceiling, wondering whether she had slept at all, when the first faint gray light crept across the wall and Link was knocking softly at her door.

"Zel? Zel, are you awake? We've got to go."

"I'm awake," she said, throwing back the coverlet. She padded barefoot to her sea-chest, now packed for the homeward journey, and dressed herself in the first things her groping hands encountered. She felt half dead already with exhaustion--it did not bode well for the day ahead.

The others were waiting silently in the taproom. They breakfasted on hard cheese, apples and yesterday's bread--the ovens in the kitchens were only just getting warm and nothing else could be prepared in time. The inn was for the most part still abed, and a sleepy stablehand had to let them out of the yard into the gloomy silent streets. Still it promised to be a beautiful day--the sky was clear and as they came out onto the seafront they saw the sun just beginning to poke above the horizon in an explosion of pink and gold. The fresh air revived Zelda a little, or at least left her feeling less like a wilted lettuce.

Iáru popped his head out of the cabin as they came across. "About time," he said, his voice taut with irritation.

"What's the matter?" Zelda asked, and then noticed the small crowd gathering on the quay. It seemed word had got out that the Stormy Petrel's captain was something out of the ordinary. She flushed at what seemed now to be an accusation. "We didn't say anything, I promise."

"No," he said crossly. "They're just nosy--" a Gerudo-sounding curse. "Well, come on, let's get out of here. You." He gestured towards Link. "You're a sailor, she says. Think you can take my boat out without knocking a hole in the bottom?"

"I... yes. I think so." Link flushed.

"Take her out then. Give ginger the wheel; she knows how she handles. And get us out of here before I lose my temper with those goggling idiots." The door slammed.

"He's left us in charge of the boat," Sofia said in astonishment.

Link stood stock-still for a moment, then went to the main mast and looked up at it. Slowly he began to untie one of the ropes from the cleats.

"Do you know what you're doing?" Zelda asked nervously. He didn't answer; he was looking up at the furled rolls of sail securely lashed to the cross-bar. "Link?"

"That's captain, to you," Link said, and made a slow pleased grin. "Don't worry! She's a little different to the boats I'm used to, but I am sure I can handle her if you'll all help me." He turned back and looked up at the sail again. "So... who wants to climb up and sort that out?"

"Not me," Zelda said hurriedly before anyone else could speak.

Link's smile became positively wicked. "Dark," he said. The shadow had been standing silent by the anchor-winch, lost in some reverie of his own; he flinched and lifted his head quickly. Link beckoned. "Come and do me a favour..."



The sun's disc was no more than halfway visible over the far curve of the ocean, but the brilliance on the water blinded Sofia. Trying to shield her eyes did no good--the light was coming up from below. She squinted into it and blinked back painful tears as she leaned on the wheel. At least there would be little steering to do: they were facing out through the harbour mouth and there were no boats in the way.

She felt the boards shudder beneath her feet as Zelda worked the anchor-winches. Link's voice rang out cheerfully in the still morning air as he shouted instructions to Dark, who was struggling with the bewildering array of ropes atop the mast. Canvas rattled as the sails came spilling down out of their rough folds. The Stormy Petrel eased forward gradually.

"Ready, Sofia?" Link shouted.

"Ready!" she called back.

"I'm casting off now! Just keep her steady! Hoy, Zelda!" he added. "Grab a boathook and give me a hand!"

Please, she prayed silently, let us do this right--don't let us make a mistake and damage Iáru's boat. But there was no more time now, for the wind was beginning to catch the unfurled sail and the boat was nosing out from between its neighbours. She turned the wheel, bringing the Stormy Petrel's prow into line with the gap in the harbour wall. Now the wind was directly behind them and they were picking up speed. Smoothly they slid across the still waters of the harbour, gaining speed all the while. The boat began to rock as it met the swells of the open sea. Sofia took a breath and held it until they were clear of the harbour wall--then let it loose in an explosive sigh of relief. Several fishing boats were in sight, trawling up and down the coast. She steered a conscientous path between them.

"Watch those floats," Link said, coming up. "They're drag-nets. Steer well around behind them or you'll annoy the fishermen."

"Have we done it?"

"We did it," he said. "Thank Farore. If we'd hit anything I think I would have died of shame." He reached out then and touched the wheel gently, feeling the polished wood with his fingertips. "She's a beautiful boat," he said and sounded almost wistful.

"I thought you didn't want to end up as a boring old fisherman in Calatia," Zelda teased as she trotted up from behind. "It sounds like you're having a change of heart!"

"A boat like this would turn anyone into a sailor," he said.

Iáru had come out while they had been talking; he pushed by suddenly, making them jump. "I'm glad my boat meets with your approval," he said dryly. "But the wheel is not the place for idle chatter. A good helmsman keeps his eye on the course at all times, unless he's at anchor."

"Sorry, Iáru," Sofia said.

"I'll take her now," he said, not unkindly, and shooed them all away.



In later times, the Princess was to look back on that day as one of the happiest they had had together. The Stormy Petrel swept on across the sea, the water hissing beneath her steep keel, and all they had to do was fill up the innocent time. The day was hot and bright, heralding the approach of summer; the sky was that particular fierce blue that only seemed to be found over water; and the sea if not calm was steady so that the long swells could be easily ridden. She went about the tasks Iáru set her with a light-headed warmth of happiness that suffused her from her toes to the tips of her fingers. All was well with the world.

It was what they all felt, to a greater or a lesser degree. They sat for a while in the lee of the cabin and chattered about little stupid things; joked; teased each other for no better reason than to hear the voices of their friends. Not once was the Quest or any other great matter raised as a subject.

Eventually, as was natural, they got to talking about the boat and what to do on it. Sofia remembered seeing a pair of old fishing rods tucked away in the back of Iáru's hold--and that was it, Link made her go down with him and dig them out. They spent the rest of the morning sitting on the cabin roof and trailing the lines off the back of the boat in the vain hope of attracting marlin. Even Dark was persuaded to take his turn with a rod and line, though Link observed quietly to Zelda that if the shadow hooked anything bigger than a sprat, he would likely go straight overboard after it. That left her almost hoping for Dark to get a bite--she couldn't resist the mental image. But the only fish that was caught, a sad little mackerel, was hooked by Sofia, and she insisted on letting it go again. It was so small and pathetic, she said, it probably had worried parents somewhere wondering why it hadn't come home.

At last it grew too hot even to fish. They lazed around on deck or in the cabin, talking or just sitting in peaceful contentment. Zelda fell asleep on the cabin roof and woke up an hour later with yet another sunburn; as she hauled up a bucket of seawater to cool her stinging face she thought that she would likely shock the fashionably pale Castle ladies with her complexion. As for Link, his tan was so spectacular now that he was starting to look like a Gerudo--indeed, with his red hair all he really needed was a curved sword and silken trousers to complete the picture.

They took their lunch late, sitting cross-legged in a group on the sunny deck. Thankfully there was no more of Iáru's hardtack to be choked down; Link had brought a parcel of food from the inn, cheese and bread and fruit and a little portion of smoked fish wrapped in waxed paper. The seagull stole most of the latter. Iáru would not leave the helm to eat with them, but he accepted an apple and a soft roll.

"This is wonderful," Zelda said as she stretched out on the warm boards, full of food and contentment. "Why don't more Hylians do this?"

"What?" asked Link, sitting down with her. "Go sailing?"

"Mmm." She spread herself out in the sun.

"I think she has forgotten the storm," Dark said with one of his rare smiles. He was sitting with his back against the cabin wall, taking advantage of the small shade of the early afternoon. "What was it you said that day at dinner, Zelda--that when we returned to Hyrule, you would never set foot on a boat again?"

"Hah," she said in happy scorn. "You're enjoying it too--you can't fool me!"

The Stormy Petrel was travelling at quite a clip, but even so it was well into the evening and boredom had begun to set in by the time their destination crept into view. Iáru called to them and there was a general scramble to the front to see what was there. There was a small coral lagoon, and within it a disorganised scatter of tiny islands that were hardly more than sandbanks in the shallow water. The biggest of them stood no more than three feet above the sea at its highest point, and sported a grand total of three scrubby palm trees. There was no sign of any land animals larger than sand-flies. Zelda felt intensely disappointed. Whatever she had expected, this was not it.

"All right, you scruffy band," said Iáru cheerfully. "Time to earn your passage. Drop anchor, fix the clews and stand by 'til we're hove to."

"Splice the mainbrace, arr," Sofia said, giggling.

He looked round at her curiously, completely missing the irony. "There isn't a mainbrace."

They got the boat secured somehow, and waded up out of the shallow water to stand in soft white sand on the shore of the largest island. It was no more, perhaps, than fifteen feet end to end; a less impressive meeting place could hardly exist within the world. Zelda looked around, expecting to see at least some sign of Zora presence, but there was not a pebble, not a broken blade of dune-grass. She glanced down into the water and saw the last light of the evening glittering off a distant sandy floor rippled with shadows and weeds. There was nothing at the bottom of the lagoon either.

"Wait here," Iáru said. Without another word to any of them he splashed back out into the water, dived headlong and was gone, a silvery streak speeding away into depth and darkness.

It became very quiet. The Stormy Petrel rocked peaceably at anchor; occasionally water would slap against the small ship's side, or a gust of wind would rustle the papery leaves of the palm trees. They were the only noises. Even the seagulls had fallen silent as the sun's light began to fade.

The moon rose; the stars began to shine; their damp clothes were entirely dry; and Iáru had still not returned. Were it not for the fact that his beloved boat was still there, rocking gently on the tide, Zelda might have thought them to have been abandoned for a second time in this desolate place. The day's pleasure was gone now--they roamed up and down the little sandy island and talked too loud to fill the silence. Link drew his name in foot-high letters, in the wet sand above the water line.

"This is getting boring," Sofia said at last. "How much longer do you think he'll be?"

"I don't even know what he's doing," Zelda sighed.

Link found a bit of driftwood lying on the high-tide line, and started to dig a hole with it in the sand. He gave no reason for it, and nobody else asked. By the time Iáru did finally reappear, sloshing tiredly out of the shallows, the hole was waist deep and Sofia had joined in digging it. Iáru gave them one mildly curious look and shook his head. Sheepishly they climbed out and tried to shake the wet caked sand off their clothes.

"What happened?" Zelda said, coming forward. "Where are they? Are they coming?"

In answer, Iáru merely turned and looked out across the water. For a few minutes there was nothing but the moon's silver glow upon the sea. Then that swathe of silver was broken by a v-shaped ripple, and then a soft splash: a dark hump broke the surface and sent the moon's reflected light spinning in a thousand shards. Another splash followed swiftly. And two tall thin shapes rose up together against the heavy circle of the moon and walked out of the deep water, side by side, towards the shore.

They wore nothing, but it did not seem to matter; they were above such trivial matters as bodily adornments. One, the larger, seemed identical physically to Iáru: tall and slender with glistening black eyes. The other was slightly smaller with a contour to the hips and upper body that vaguely suggested femininity. Her fins were comparatively larger, and fully spread, sweeping out in long translucent curves. Both gleamed silver-skinned and pearly under the moonlight.

They stopped, knee-deep in the shallows, and looked impassively at the little group upon the shore. The small breaking waves washed like a barrier between them. There was a long tense moment of mutual evaluation. Then the Zoran woman spoke, in excellent but faintly accented Hylian.

"I am Trellia. My companion is Cirvo. What do you want with us?"

Blunt and to the point, thought Zelda wryly. Perhaps Iáru was not so different from his kin after all. She glanced at her friends for moral support, and then took a long breath and stepped forward, drawing on all she had learned of courtesy in her father's house.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet us," she said carefully. "I hope we won't trouble you for long. My name is Zelda Harkinian; I am the Crown Princess of Hyrule, my father's first and only child." She had to pause for a moment after that, and struggle mentally for the correct protocol--it made her feel suddenly awkward to remember her official title. Introduce the others formally or not? Not, she thought: the two were already looking impatient. She swallowed before speaking again. "Many years ago a medallion was given into the keeping of your folk. I and my companions have come to humbly request its return."

Their expressions might have been carved in stone. "Why?" said Trellia.

Zelda glanced again at her friends; Link and Sofia stood silently to one side, waiting for her to deal with matters. Dark appeared to have done his vanishing act again. It seemed she was on her own. She sighed a little and turned back to the two Zoras. What did it matter who knew the truth, now? Sepultura knew perfectly well already what they were up to, and so did pretty much everyone they had met so far on this voyage. The story was out already.

"The medallion was part of a set of six," Zelda said, "as I'm sure you know. Ruto, Sage of Water and custodian of the Water Temple in Hyrule, carried it once before giving it to the Hero of Time. Later it was passed to Japas, one of the original Legendary Knights. My friends and I are trying to complete the whole set and resurrect the Knighthood. We have two complete Amulets already--with the Water medallion our quest will be half way complete. With the six Amulets we hope to open the way to the Dark World. We want to end Ganon's rule there once and for all."

The two Zoras exchanged a long glance; whatever passed between them was a mystery, for their eyes were as dark and secretive as the ocean, reflecting only the surface glitter of moonlight.

At last Trellia spoke again. "How do you know that we would even have such a thing?" Her voice was cool, giving nothing away. "Perhaps we have never heard of these medallions, these amulets."

Zelda flushed and struggled for a moment, trying to think of some way to respond. The Water Amulet was warm on her chest, beneath the open throat of her shirt; she raised her hand and lightly touched the gold chain, and suddenly knew what to do. Closing her eyes, she recited softly from memory:

"'Here lies Japas, greatest bard of the Zoran people, he of the nine hundred songs, who told the tales of ages past. You who'll seek the Triforce of the future, I shall hand down to you the ancient lore.'"

The words felt very old in her mouth. She paused, breathed out softly, and then finished.

"'One half of the legend lies with me. If you desire the other, look to my folk.'"

Trellia and Cirvo looked at one another again. Then they leaned together and spoke in soft hissing whispers; Zelda pricked her ears forward, trying to hear, but could make out nothing save that the language was not one she was familiar with. It might well have been Zora, but she knew that tongue only in its written form.

"It is true," Trellia said gravely, turning her eyes back to them. "We hold such a medallion in trust for a member of the Hylian Royal Family."

Yes! Zelda thought in a moment of utter bliss. Aloud she said a little awkwardly, "Then... may we have it?"

More whispers. Then for the first time Cirvo spoke, in a voice only a little lower than Trellia's, coloured by the same strange accent. "How do we know who you are?" he said, propping his hands on his hips. She blinked stupidly at him; he spoke on, his tone suddenly fierce. "Your claim of ancestry has been noted. But forgive me--how do we know it is true? You do not bear the regalia of a Hylian Princess. I see no crest. I see no crown."

"But she is," Link said angrily, coming forward to stand by her. "I'll swear it!"

"And who are you to make such an oath, boy?" answered Cirvo mildly.

Zelda, turning, saw him draw himself up into a Hero's dignity, and marveled at it; to her he had always been nothing more than Link, the scruffy adventurer with the winning smile. Perhaps it was Koholint that had wrought this change upon him. Suddenly before her eyes he was transformed into a thing of power, something fey and strange. His hand moved to brush the hilt of the serpentine dagger. "I am Link of the Kokiri," he said in a carrying voice. "Hyrule's Hero of this generation. I am the direct descendant of Link First, the Hero of Time, whose name is also known to you. On my ancestor's name I will swear to you that she speaks the truth."

They seemed genuinely taken aback by that. Again they conversed in whispers, and for longer this time, casting many a glance back towards Link where he stood now beside the Princess, head high and eyes full of silver light.

"You speak well for a drylander," said Cirvo finally, "but does your word mean any more than hers? Link--if that is what you are--you do not come before us in a Hero's garb. Nor do you bear the Hero's sword."

Link flushed angrily at that. Zelda laid her hand on his arm for a moment to stop him saying anything else--she had to think. Her head was spinning as she tried to decide what to do; this was the very last thing for which she might have been prepared. Nobody had ever doubted her identity before. And she had nothing with her--nothing at all--that would prove who she was. Her family had never gone in for that sort of thing. The few symbols of state that the Harkinian family did possess--an ancient battered crown, a signet ring, a tiara said to have been worn by Zelda First--spent the long years locked within a vault of the castle's treasury, and were aired only at coronations or weddings. She felt a slow panic beginning to build in the pit of her stomach.

And then a soft and indescribably beautiful tone sang out through the stillness of the night air. It was the Ocarina.

It was a waltz--or a lullaby--a gentle rolling serenade in three-four time. Dark stood at the further end of the island, facing out across the ocean; his hood was down and his finely chiseled profile was a silhouette against the starry velvet of the sky. His eyes were closed as he played. Unconscious he seemed of their petty concerns, lost in the music he was making, as the night breeze twitched at a lock of his shadowy hair.

Zelda felt something move within her soul. She knew the song. She had never heard it before but each crystal note was falling into place somewhere inside of her, as if some ancient memory of blood and bone was being restored piece by piece. She glanced at Link and saw that he felt it too--his eyes were wide and faintly puzzled, looking inward as he grappled with the song. Even Sofia--she was staring in utter amazement, not just at the spectacle of Dark playing an ocarina, which in itself was startling enough, but at the strange sea-change deep within which seemed to teach her the notes before he played them.

"Zelda's Lullaby," Link murmured, half in a dream.

Zelda heard his words through the music as the final pieces of the puzzle fell softly into place. Her eyes were fixed now on Dark as he played on, swaying gently to the rhythm.

It was done; it was over. As the last shining note faded into the wind, Dark lowered the ocarina and clasped it to his chest. He stood thus over it for a second or two, his head bent, and then he looked round at them all. His empty eyes glowed red as heart's blood as the moonlight touched them.

"I regret," he said with a peculiar emphasis, "that we bring no letter of introduction."

"You?" asked Trellia, sounding--what? Incredulous? Horrified?

"I." Dark held the Ocarina out for a moment in his two cupped hands, and the moonlight filled the crystal with blue fire. "You know this, and you know me. They speak the truth. I shall swear this upon my name, if you wish it." He slipped the Ocarina into a pocket and folded his arms, staring coolly all the while at the two Zoras.

There was a long and painful silence. At last Trellia turned towards Zelda once more. "How does he come to be with you?" she said.

Zelda smiled uneasily. "That's... quite a long story." She might have gone on and tried to explain, if allowed to do so, but Trellia had looked away again.

"You will swear it?" the Zora said. "You?"

Dark said nothing. His gaze remained cold and steady, a visual challenge.

Trellia and Cirvo conferred once more. Then Cirvo slipped away from them and vanished into the water without another word. Trellia began to follow him, then paused and looked back towards the shore. She lifted her clenched left hand and for the first time they saw that something was within it. With one brisk movement she tossed it up onto the shore, where it thudded down in a puff of dry white sand. Then the Zora turned away silently and followed her companion into the sea. A faint ripple marked her leaving them.

Zelda walked forward, stooped, and picked up the blue and shining thing. With her fingertips she brushed away a few clinging grains of sand. Then she lifted the empty hoop of her Amulet on its golden chain. There was a tiny unimportant click as the carved medallion slid into place.



It was dawn, and the Stormy Petrel was well on its way once more, tacking back and forth through the wind as they made their way towards the distant Isles. They sat all four on the worn wooden deck as the first bead of the sun appeared above the horizon. Zelda smiled thoughtfully as she ran her Amulet through her hands. It was just as she had imagined it: carved with designs of birds and fish, the one blurring into the other.

"It's time," she said, "to go home."

Home. The word rang like a bell.

"Do you realise," Sofia asked, stretching her arms out, "that this is the first Amulet we haven't had to fight monsters for?"

"And long may it continue," Link answered with a grin. "Are you complaining? I know I'm not!"

"Of course not." The other woman smiled back, then grew grave all of a sudden and turned to Dark, who sat quietly a little back from the others, his hood now raised to shield his face from the growing daylight. "What did you do?"

"I?" he said, affecting innocence. Sofia glared at him and he gave a very slight shrug. "An old tune, that is all. The song of the Royal Family's messenger. I guessed they might remember that, and the Ocarina, even if they were too blind to recognise a Hero when he stood before them."

"Zelda's Lullaby," Link murmured again, wondering at the name. Suddenly he laughed. "That was good thinking on your part, at any rate! Farore--I really thought they were going to turn us down."

"Weren't they pleasant?" Zelda said. "Nayru's Love! Those two made Iáru seem positively lovable." She grinned, then glanced towards the wheel. "I said--" she began louder.

"Do you want to swim home?"


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