The Sages still couldn't believe it. Two hours since it'd happened, and the seven of them still couldn't believe it.
The fact that not one of them had spoken for two hours hadn't made things any easier, either.
Nabooru and Zelda walked over to Link's unconscious body. He(She?) definitely looked different. Hi- her face had become softer, she'd shrunk a good couple inches, and there was a definite feminine curve to Link's body. The changes to her clothes were more subtle- not counting some changes in size, it was still mostly the same Kokiri tunic that Link had grown up with.
Zelda squeezed the Gerudo's hand. "Impa says that the potion did it. It's supposed to be permanent."
Nabooru knew that her lover had watched over Link as her alter-ego, Sheik, and couldn't help but notice a tear run down her cheek. She wiped it off with her finger, unable to comfort the Princess.
A couple yards away, the Sages of Forest, Fire, Water, Light, and Shadow simply sat around a campfire they'd made from various debris of the castle.
"Come on, Rauru. She'd be safe growing up with you."
"Darunia, I've stayed in solitude for most of my life. Not exactly what a child would enjoy."
"Well, she can't stay with me," referring to Saria, Ruto, and himself. "I don't recall seeing her at any point before Link returned to Death Mountain. Having her come to me would spell disaster."
The old man's eyebrows raised a little at this but knew that he had a point. His brows rose even further when he saw Saria and Ruto holding hands for a brief moment. "Yes, we can't take care of her, either."
"Well, um, yes. Link is one of my best friends, but it just wouldn't be a wise idea for either of us to care for her." "And while she's technically still my fiancé under Zora law, Link would be frozen underwater- not exactly a barrel full of Cuccos," Ruto chimed in almost reluctantly.
"I don't really remember too many details, but for the most part, Zelda was hiding with me for two years, and the rest of that time I mostly spent helping expand Kakariko Village. Not a good option."
The Sage of Light shook his head. "That takes Zelda out of the running, too. And Nabooru got imprisoned shortly after Link went to sleep, so that means that not a single one of us can look after her."
Zelda and Nabooru finally rejoined the rest of the Sages. "No great ideas from our end, either."
Zelda glanced at Link's childhood friend. "Can any of the races take him in?"
Saria, Ruto, and Darunia all gave her a solid 'no'.
"The Zora get frozen under a sheet of ice, I just told you that."
"My people got imprisoned by Volvagia, remember? I can pretty much guarantee that she'd get eaten."
"Kokiri generally don't like anyone that isn't one of them already."
After reconfirming with the others, Zelda finally sat down, tired from all the events from the previous day. She quickly glanced around the gathering of Sages.
Nabooru, Sage of Spirit, had been imprisoned nearly all seven years of Link's nap ala Rip Van Winkle. She'd been through hell, but she was a warrior. She had fallen asleep on Zelda's shoulder.
Darunia, Sage of Fire, had taken a massive blow to his ego after failing to stop the ancient dragon Volvagia from kidnapping the Gorons. His 'Brother' Link came through for him, though. He sat complacent, staring into the fire.
Rauru, Sage of Light, had suffered the least of the Sages. He'd been looking after Link during his hibernation. The Princess just couldn't read the old monk to figure out what made him tick, simply staring out into the landscape.
If Ruto, Sage of Water, was shell shocked from having to break off her engagement to Link, she didn't show any sign of it. She only avoided the same fate as her brethren through Zelda's (disguised as Sheik) intervention.
Speaking of Saria, Sage of Forest, she'd somehow grown up, despite the fact that Kokiri supposedly never age. She had missed Link like no tomorrow since their separation as kids, and their subsequent reunion and second separation had been equally painful. She sat closely to Ruto. 'Probably seeking comfort.'
Impa had taken the transformation with a cool exterior. She had also had a relatively easy seven years, looking after Zelda before sending her to hide in Gerudo Valley for safety. After that, she spent her years in Kakariko Village before being awakened as the Sage of Shadow.
Princess Zelda, the Sage of Wisdom, had had her hands full for the last seven years, hiding with Impa in Kakariko, learning how to hide herself using Sheikiah magicks. The other five years were spent hiding on the face of a valley cliff outside the Gerudo hideout, telepathically communicating with Nabooru and ensuring that she was not totally lost to the world.
Despite all the adversity the seven Sages combined had gone through, none of them could really accept that the King of Evil had gotten the last laugh and turned Link, a model of masculinity (secure enough to wear green and have an earring, although no one could figure out where it came from), into a full-blown woman.
Saria began to walk to Link's unconscious body when she accidentally kicked a glass bottle. The object rolled for a second before the green-haired Kokiri picked it up.
She found that the bottle was filled with... something. She turned the bottle to look at the label. It simply read 'Lon Lon Milk'.
'Oh... head hurts... I'm gonna need another potion for that.'
Link struggled to get off of the ground, to find that everything around was white. No ruins of the castle, no pools of lava, and no broken glass. The Hero finally stood up to find Zelda holding the Ocarina of Time, looking sad for some reason.
"Ganondorf's gone, Link. You did it." She smiled for a quick moment, before adding, "But I think he got the last laugh."
Confused, Link started to speak. "What are yo- hm!?!?"
'Why is my voice sound so weird?'
The Princess sighed. "Link, I'm not exactly sure how to say this..."
'And what is up with her? I'm still alive...'
Link decided to look down to double-check that that statement was still true, to find two mounds planted on his upper chest. The Hero of Time stared at them for a brief moment, still confused, before he put two and two together and made four instead of fish.
Link's hand released the two protruding mounds and went to his pants, to find that something had gone missing. He looked up at Zelda, wearing a mix of dumbfoundedness and bleak revelation on his (her?) face.
"I'm sorry Link, but they managed to get off a parting shot before you slashed up the King. He turned you into a woman."
Link's eye twitched. Everything had gone topsy-turvy. He was a she. Something didn't quite add up here.
"I guess this goes a lot further than not being able to pee while standing up, huh." She (He?) stared at Zelda, who just looked at him (well, her now). "I mean, you can fix this, right?"
Zelda bit her lip, and closed her eyes shut. "I don't think so. Impa said it might be p-permanent."
Link fell to his knees as the news finally hit home. Words failed hi- her.
Neither spoke for quite some time. "I have to send you back, Link."
The Hero-ine of Time didn't budge. "You still have the rest of your childhood left. I think it's only fair you get those lost seven years back."
That statement got Link back on her feet. "Zelda, I don't see the point. There's no one who'll take me in. None of the Sages-"
"Don't worry, Link. The Goddesses have been kind to you this far. I know they'll find you shelter."
Link could feel a tear run down her cheek. Zelda prepared to play the Ocarina to send him back, when she hesitated.
"Link, I need to warn you. You will need to lie low during these next few years. Doing something crazy will only spell disaster for this time."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you can't go looking for any of the Sages. And if you see them, or anyone for that matter, you can't let them know that it's you. It would create a time paradox, and the Goddesses really hate dealing with those. So no real heroic stuff, alright?"
She nodded. "Can I at least talk to any of the Sages?"
"...Good question. I know that you definitely can't talk to Darunia or Rauru. Everyone else is fair game, but you can't let them know it's you, and you can't tell them anything about what's happened over the past few years. Again, that could cause a catastrophe later on. Okay?"
Link just clenched her fists. With that, Zelda raised the Ocarina to her mouth, and began to play a tune that Link had come to know well during her time-traveling adventure- the Song of Time.
"Mr. Cluckers! Come back here!!!"
As Hylians walked through the shopping district of Hyrule Castle Town, a few noticed a large Cucco running through the crowd, followed by a redheaded girl who appeared to be about eleven years old. Ask any regular shopper, and they'll tell you that this annoyance happened every month or so
But as Malon Lon would tell you, at least one Cucco usually escapes from the ranch when Talon and she go to deliver milk to the castle. Today would prove to be no different... or so she thought.
See, the Cuccos always had the sense to stay in the market area. This time, the chicken-like bird was crazy enough to actually go into different parts of town. The fowl led the ranch girl on a bit of a goose chase, clucking through the alleys and attracting a pack of dogs before losing them in the Mask Shop.
Mr. Jacob Mathews loved his shop. Loved it, knew almost every face in town. So he knew that once the milk came into town, all bets were off. So he wasn't at all surprised when one crazed Cucco bird shuffled into his store, being chased by a slightly miffed kid.
"Sorry, Mr. Mathews!"
Jacob simply shrugged his shoulders, and sighed as the pair ran out of his store as quickly at they'd run in.
The two had been running in circles for about half an hour now, when the crazy little stinker got caught.
Malon had gotten very good at catching those feathery little devils, and usually had a portable kennel of sorts on her father's milk cart, just in case this thing came up. She put the bird in the cage, and sat down, tired from its escapade. The sun was preparing to set, and the stores were closing up for the night.
Just then, a giant bird came flying by, coming within inches of hitting Malon on the nose with its wingtip. It rose into the sky, then began flying to the west, toward the Gerudo Desert. Any scholar could've told you that the offending fowl was actually the legendary wise owl, the Kaepora Gaebora, which was only said to appear to those whose destiny would change the fate of Hyrule and its neighbors.
It had flown out of the Temple of Time, a place of worship for those faithful to the three goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru. Malon had always been a bit curious about what the inside of that Temple looked like, because she never seen such a unique structure. Sure, Hyrule Castle was impressive, but after helping her father, Talon, deliver milk all the time, it lost its aura of majesty to her. All she knew about the Temple was that a preacher delivered sermons there every seventh day.
She entered the massive stone building, amazed and in awe of the beautiful stained glass windows near the ceiling. The inside of the place was as big as she had thought it would be, but she didn't expect it to be purely empty- as in, no chairs. Malon kept walking, pausing briefly to notice three jewels floating in mid-air above an raised stone tablet.
These stones were the three legendary Spiritual Stones, entrusted to three of the major races of the area- the Kokiri Emerald, the Goron Ruby, and the Zora Sapphire. Together, these three stones, combined with the Ocarina of Time, would open the door to the Triforce, a sort of radio to the three goddesses with one purpose- to grant a wish, any wish, to anyone who touched it. These safeguards also served another purpose- to protect the blade of evil's bane, the Master Sword.
Whether Malon knew any of this or not was irrelevant, because she saw a large stone door in front of her that had been left wide open. 'Maybe the bird came from in here...'
As she walked through the door, she saw a stone pedestal, and right next to that pedestal was a body lying prostrate on the ground. The green clothing immediately set off warning signals in her brain. She kneeled beside the unconscious person.
"Fairy Boy?" She nudged the prone boy repeatedly, until she noticed an envelope right next to her, bearing the Royal Seal, with one noticeable exception- the datestamp on the seal was off- way off. Exactly seven years from today off. She opened the object carefully, to find two hastily crafted letters.
After about six minutes, Link finally started to stir. Now, for those of you who have never time-traveled before, then consider this. Going to sleep for seven years ala Rip Van Winkle feels like taking a good nap, followed by a cup of good coffee. So going back in time is like losing that sleep, which in essence means that you lose consciousness until you get at least two hours rest. Add to that fact that Link had been lying on the ground that whole time, and you begin to understand just how uncomfortable she felt right now.
She felt pain, then a twinge of sorrow as she recalled what had just transpired seven years from that day. She sat up, scratching her head, when she finally realized that she wasn't alone.
The Hero-ine of Time finally turned her head to find the redhead that had accidentally helped her see Princess Zelda so long ago was now by her side.
Malon just sat there, not believing what she was reading.
"I have to go now."
Great. The one person that had been through thick and thin with her throughout that video game- I mean, adventure- was deciding that know would be a good time to leave.
"Look, it's not my choice. The Great Deku Tree specifically said to watch over 'the boy', and well... Look, even if you hadn't gotten splashed with that gunk, you've basically got the skills and attitudes of a grown man now. So either way, I have to leave."
She began to fly toward the glass window closest to the ceiling, when she stopped.
"Link, if you ever drop by the Forest again, I'll still be around."
And with that, she was off. Link just looked at the window, heartbroken. When she finally stopped looking, she noticed that Malon had somehow left during Navi's goodbye, and had come back carrying some clothes.
"Put these on, Link."
"Malon, what on-"
"Look, there were these letters and one of them said that something very bad was going to happen tonight. I need to get you away from here before sunset."
Link began to take off his tunic when she stopped, a hint of a blush on her face.
"Link, we're both girls now."
The blonde didn't budge. Frustrated, Malon turned around, and walked behind the stone entryway.
Link had never worn anything like it in his whole life- granted, he'd never worn anything but certain types of tunics, but this was like it. If you can imagine a Japanese school uniform for a fifth or sixth grade girl, then you'd be on the right track.
"Where on earth did you get this thing?"
"Some guy who called himself 'Deus Ex Machina'. Now hurry! Dad should be waiting for us at the gate!"
Malon grabbed Link by the hand and began to run wildly for the door. As the pair exited the building, both could easily see that the sun had almost set. Blood-curdling screaming began to fill the air.
'Oh, crud,' Malon thought. 'It's already starting just like the letter said!'
Link recognized that scream anywhere, but she still hoped that it wasn't-
It was. A six foot five zombie-like mass had cornered one of the local beggars, paralyzing him with its fearsome cry. This was a Redead, a magical monster that fed off of the energy of the living. Link had fought many of these beasts in the past, but still got the chills every time she saw one.
She prepared to grab her bow and fire off a Light Arrow, but as it turned out she couldn't use it anymore- it was too big for a child.
The Redead was within ten feet of the beggar now.
Link couldn't use the Longshot...
No Megaton Hammer...
Link then pulled out her trusty Boomerang. After a quick moment, she flung it at the beast, making impact before the weapon rounded back for its return flight.
The gamble worked, and the Redead was stunned. Link then went to town on the minion, slashing it to no end with that tiny little butter knife called the Kokiri Sword.
Redeads were beginning to appear all over town now, and panic began to ensue.
The beast finally went down for the count, but three Redeads arrived and lunged at Malon. As frightened as she was, she managed to escape their deathly cold grasp.
The people of the town had run to the fountain, now surrounded by Redeads.
Link knew she was outmatched- she'd need some time on this one.
Time. That was the answer.
The boy-gone-girl now reached for a different item, but couldn't find it. 'Where is the Ocarina of Time? Did Zelda keep it?'
"Malon, have you seen a blue Ocarina?"
"No, but that reminds me, you did leave something at the farm before you left last time." She whipped out an item that Link hadn't seen since Zelda's escape- Saria's Fairy Ocarina.
Link took the instrument, and began to play the Sun's Song. As the final notes flew from the device, all of the zombies froze in place, magically bound by the song.
The frenzied throng of townsfolk wasted no time in running out of Dodge, heading in the direction of Kakariko Village.
Link prepared a magic spell that she had learned from one of the Great Fairies from his childhood. She grabbed Malon, pulled her close, and activated the spell.
She thrusted her left fist into the air, and punched it into the ground, enchanting said fist with all of her magic. The impact, with the combined effect of the Golden Gauntlets and whatever magic Link had leftover from her fight with Ganon, combined to form a dome of fire around the two. This dome shot out from its origin, burning all of the Redeads whilst leaving the building untouched.
The sheer stress of using Din's Fire in that magnitude exhausted the young girl, nearly collapsing where she stood. She slumped on the Malon's shoulder, while the redhead tried to run frantically for the gate, Link in one hand and her old clothes in the other. They finally found Talon and Mr. Cluckers, on top of the milk cart, asleep. Figures, don't it?
After they climbed on board, they proceeded to awaken the sleeping behemoth. Yelling didn't work, and neither did force-feeding him milk. Pulling at his mustache was a tremendous failure. Finally, Link pulled out Mr. Cluckers and pulled on his coxcomb. The resulting crow could've shaken dead men from the grave, including fat oafs who sleep all day.
And so it did. Talon finally sat upright, commanding the horses to ride forth. The cart rode forth into the night as the castle drawbridge rose, stopping any Redead from pursuing.
Malon finally came off of her adrenaline rush, and looked down at the floor of the milk cart, to find that she was still holding Link's hand. She finally let go of the embattled Hero-ine, noticing that she looked extremely tired.
Talon looked back at the two. "So, who's your friend, Malon? Did you meet her in town?"
His daughter looked at the mustachioed man. The letter warned her not to tell, but she also knew from the letter that she'd have to watch out over him.
"Yep. She'll be staying with us as a ranch hand."
That got Talon thinking. "I don't remember needing anymore help around the ranch besides you and Ingo..."
"Please, Dad! She's got no place to go!"
Talon was a jolly man, much to both girl's fortune. "Alright. But only if I get to hear her name."
Link knew he couldn't use his birth name. Heck, he'd probably never be able to use it for the rest of his natural life.
"Lina," she said. "My name is Lina."
And with that, she fell asleep, tired from all that had occurred (to her, at least) over the past couple of hours.