The sound of horses galloping over the wooden bridge that connected Hyrule Field and the town rang through the morning air. Link walked across the bridge after they had all gone by, a piece of bread in his mouth.
"Be off?" Dark Link asked. "Link, if you don't at least have something to eat, you'll pass out! At least have a drink of water." Link's shoulders slumped. What was he, his mother? "Don't treat me like a kid again!" Link looked away, pouty, with a pink tint on his cheeks. "If I was treating you like a kid," Dark Link began, standing up and walking until he was in front of Link, "I would've picked you up, and carried you to the castle's kitchen myself, and cooked for you, fed you, and everything." He then snickered. "Unless, of course, that's what you would prefer... Link." His voice got lower near the end of the sentence, making Link's heart skip a beat.
"W-what?! O-of course not!!" He turned away and started walking towards the door, thinking about how fast Dark Link's moods changed—from that of a small child's, to teasing, to embarrassed, and back to teasing. Dark Link continued to tease Link, just for laughs. "Aw, come on, Link. Can't I at least pick you up, bridal style?" Dark Link wore a pouty expression on his face, mocking the one Link wore.
Dark Link found himself alone in the room. Laughing to himself at how fun this was, he opened the door again, and shut it behind him as he followed after Link. He walked faster until he was beside his lighter half. "But really, Link--" he was back to being serious now. "When was the last time you ate?"
"I thought you said you didn't care earlier, when we were talking about my lack of sleep!" Dark Link shrugged. "That's because I don't. But if you faint, it's gonna be a huge hassle to have to carry you for such a long distance, back to Hyrule Castle. My arms aren't strong enough! Of course, a short distance is fine. Well, I guess it depends on where we are at the time, too…" "It's fine... D-dark, I'm not hungry." Dark Link noticed the difficulty Link had saying his name without the 'Link' part, but he decided not to mention it.
Link covered his stomach with his hands, his face getting redder. After a moment, he spoke up. "M-aybe... I-I'll just have a piece of bread then." Dark Link said nothing after that, a satisfied grin on his lips.
After grabbing the bread and helping Navi make last minute preparations (mostly with the horses, as they weren't used to being ridden at this hour), they walked out the front area of the castle, and through The Market/Castle Town
*snapsnapsnap* "Yo, Mr. Hero! Stop spacing out!" Link jumped, seeing Dark Link looking at him. He looked away. "Right, right, sorry!"
Dark Link placed his hands on his hips. "So Link, we're searching for her, right? For Zelda? Where should we start looking first? I don't know how this whole 'adventuring' thing usually works." Link looked around. "Well, since we haven't had any guidance from anybody as to where we should start looking, or where she might've gone or have been taken to, as that usually tells me what to do... I'd say we should start by asking one of her friends where she might be. Perhaps she's with one of them?" Dark Link nodded at this, thinking it was a sensible place to start.
"Alright, so, do you know who she's friends with?" Link thought about this for a moment, before shaking his head a little sheepishly, as he shrugged. "I actually don't." That's when Navi piped up, appearing behind them as she had finished telling the guards what they should do and where they should go to effectively scour the area to try and find Zelda.
"Oh, Link! I know some of her friends! I could help you! Her bestest friend of all is Malon, daughter of the owner of Lon Lon Ranch. You've met her a few times, and Lon Lon Ranch is the place where you first met Epona, remember?" Link smiled, remembering his childhood memories.
"Who's Epona?" Dark Link asked, as he'd never heard this name before. Link smiled. "Epona's my horse. I don't really keep her anywhere, she's free to wander off and do whatever she pleases, but she comes whenever I call and she's always there when I need her!" Dark Link laughed. "So, is she like your best friend or something? A horse?"
Link felt a tiny sliver of anger dwell inside of him. She wasn't just a horse, she was his horse, and he loved her. She was different from any other horse, and in Link's opinion, she was the best damned horse in all of Hyrule!
Dark Link noticed Link's annoyed expression, and brushed it off, saying "Hey, I was just joking, relax!" Dark Link had no problem in insulting or upsetting Link, that wasn't the issue, and he assumed that Link knew that he didn't really mean any of it, or any of the teasing. However, he realized that he shouldn't be insulting anyone he knew or anyone he was close to... even if it was just a horse. That was a line he probably shouldn't cross, as he knew if he did so, Link would be really mad at him, for real.
Link ignored Dark Link and pulled out his ocarina. "You'll see! She's beautiful." He put his lips to the mouth of the ocarina, noticing the way Dark Link watched as he did so.
Link started to play Epona's song slowly, making it sound as pretty as he could. Dark Link turned his head when he heard the gallop of horse hooves no more than 5 seconds after Link had finished playing. His eyes caught site of a beautiful and proud Hylian steed. She made the horses belonging to the royal kingdom look like un-groomed muddy ponies in comparison. "A natural beauty, huh?" Link smiled at Dark Link, as he walked ahead and mounted Epona. He then turned to Dark Link and extended his hand. "Hurry up and get on so we can go."
Dark Link took Link's hand briefly and hoisted himself up behind Link. "Ready?" Link asked. Dark Link grabbed onto Link's shoulders. "Yea." Link whipped the reigns, and they started off in the direction of Lon Lon Ranch.
Epona came to a slow stop, just outside of the gates that led into the open field of Lon Lon Ranch. Link, still atop Epona, looked around. He saw horses, but that was it. He figured Malon and her father were inside. He got off Epona, walking to the barn as Dark Link appeared behind him, who at the moment, was trying to forget how close he was to Link while atop Epona, and how fast his heart was beating at the feeling of… well, just riding a horse that fast.
Opening the door, Link could over hear Malon and her father talking about Zelda.
"...can you believe it?"
"What are we going to do?"
At the sound of footsteps, they both turned around, smiling a sigh of relief in sync once they set eyes on the hylian hero. "Link!" Malon exclaimed, running over to him and giving him a friendly hug. "You're just who we wanted to see!"
Link, confused by this, looked to Malon's father. "Why exactly am I who guys wanted to see...?" he asked, almost afraid of the answer. Talon walked over, a warm but apologetic smile on his face as he placed his hand on Link's shoulder. "Link, I realize you saved all of Hyrule no more than a week ago, and you really haven't been able to take a breather. However, it seems that Hyrule--or rather, the princess--needs your help again."
Link's shoulders slumped. "What do you mean? Don't I just have to find her?" Malon's father shaked his head solemnly. "It started out that way. However... about 20 minutes ago, Malon heard a knock at the door. We were both in here, you know, checking up on the horses 'n stuff. It was Zelda of course, and when she came in here, she had looked like someone had just beat her parents to a pulp in front 'o her." Link, not phased by Talon's weird comparisons, sat down on a block of hay. It sounded like this was going to be a long explanation.
--10 minutes later--
"So basically..." Link began, trying to make sense of his long explanation with too many un-needed details, "She came in here, a dark smokey blob came in and wrapped around her, and she disappeared?"
Malon's father stood there for a second, thinking it over, before nodding slowly. "Yea."
Link sighed, standing up. "So what do we do now?" Dark Link asked. Link turned around and looked down at him, as he had previously sat on a block of hay as well and hadn't stood up yet. "We go notify the King."
"What?!" Navi buzzed in Link's ear, annoyed. Dark Link had stood up now, a surprised look on his face. "But everyone will lose their jobs!" "It cannot be helped, alright? This is obviously going to take a lot longer than just a morning search party." Everyone was silent, realizing he was right. "Besides--" Link started. "I doubt the King will fire everybody. There wouldn't be anyone left to hire to be a knight or guard, who would be qualified to protect the royal family! It's just simply not possible." Navi thought about this for a moment, before nodding. "When you think about it, he's right. There are many many people employed with the royal family, so much that over half of the Hylian population of all of Hyrule works at the castle. Whether the King is mad or not, unless he plans to protect the whole castle himself... with all due respect, as I'm not trying to cross any boundaries or tell the King what he should and shouldn't be doing, it would be virtually impossible. Firing everybody would not be a smart decision. They might get punished in some way, but I don't think firing would be one of those options. He most likely just said that to make them do their jobs as best as they can, I don't think he meant it, as the King we know and love wouldn't be so casual as to make a decision that could affect all of Hyrule, or at least the well-being of his castle, on personal emotions."
Dark Link, Malon and her father all nodded at this, thinking it made perfect sense. Link, on the other hand, who was way too used to hearing Navi rant in his ear, just rolled his eyes. He already knew everything that Navi had just said, and to him it was just another one of her long speeches that proved how annoying she is sometimes. Navi saw the eye-rolling, and flew over to Link, bonking him on the forehead with her tiny delicate fist. "Don't be rude!" she squeaked. "I was explaining it to them, not you!" Link chuckled at her. "Well, EXCUUUUSSEEEE ME, Princess!" Navi, enraged by Link's teasing, flew towards him at full speed, ready to give him a bruise the size of a crumb on his cheek. Link merely moved his head to the side, and she flew right past him.
Ignoring the angry little being behind him, he turned to Malon and her father with a warm smile. "Thank you very much for the information, you've been a big help." They both nodded at him and returned the smile. "Wait, Link!" Malon handed Link a bottle filled with milk. "Take some of our famous milk for the road; I'm sure it'll be of help!" Link took the gift humbly and respectfully, as any classic hero type figure would. He then turned to Dark Link, repeating the phrase from earlier. "Well, let's be off then." Dark Link and Navi followed after Link as he left the barn. Link mounted Epona, helping Dark Link up once again. He whipped the reigns, and they took off in the direction of Hyrule Castle.
Epona came to a slow stop in front of Hyrule castle. Link slid off gracefully, and turned around, watching as Dark Link awkwardly fumbled to try and get off as well. He still wasn't used to riding on a horse, or any living creature for that matter.
Link couldn't help bursting out in laughter at seeing Dark Link flat on his back on the ground, having just fallen off the horse. Dark Link shot an annoyed and incredibly embarrassed glare at him. Waving his hand apologetically as he wiped the tears from his eyes, Link helped him up and asked if he was alright, still giggling. "Whatever! I'm fine! Stop your laughing!"
"Link… is what you're saying, really true?"
The King's slow, deep and wise voice was the only sound heard in the quite room, along with the replies of the other three as they spoke. They were in a church-like room, with the only light being the natural day light pouring in through the glass stained windows. Among the windows were images of the Triforce, the symbol of the Sheikah race, the three Spiritual Stones, the Ocarina of Time, and the Master Sword. Because of the colourful windows, the room had a beautiful glow to it. Behind where they stood at the front of the room, were many rows of wooden benches, with red silk fabric aligning all of them.
"Yes, your Majesty. I speak the truth."
The King's expression faded to a look of worry, and he looked down in thought. He was silent for a moment, when he spoke up again. "Link." "Yes?" The King looked up again, a serious expression now on his face. "Do you have any idea, as to why, she was crying?" Link went stiff. Surely the King would be mad if he knew it was Link's fault? Well, really, it wasn't his fault for not liking her, after all, you can't control what you feel… but it was his fault for rejecting her, right? Or maybe there was another way he could've done it that wouldn't have upset her so much? What if the King got really angry and wanted Link killed? No, no, that wouldn't happen; the King needed Link to bring Zelda back to him…right?
"Link?" Link jumped, snapping back to reality and trying to stop his mind from racing. The King did really value his daughter, more than almost anything and anyone in the world. Of course, any respectable father should, right?
Dark Link gave Link an apologetic 'it was nice knowing ya'' pat on the shoulder, making him jump again. Link looked at Dark Link, a sliver of fear evident in his eyes. Navi flew up beside the King, getting a clearer look at Link's face straight on. "Link, is this somehow… your fault?" Link looked up at the King again, looking back from him to Navi. Their faces were both questioning and now stern. Link knew he couldn't lie to the King, that was a big no-no. He definitely couldn't lie to Navi, either—she could see right through it. But this was the King they were talking about, and the Princess! The royal family! Link had upset the Princess, of Hyrule! Out of every single Hylian and being of all the other races in Hyrule, he just had to go and upset the second most important of them all! Anybody who had done so in the past, at least, anybody who had upset her this badly, had been killed by order of the King!
Link gulped, ready to accept his fate. He opened his mouth to speak, when…he suddenly felt faint. The room started to spin, he felt a blow to his head…
…and everything went black.
-END OF CHAPTER 4-