Hyrule’s Forest, Present…
“Link! Wake up! Link! Link! Link! C’mon! Link!!” Link slowly opened his eyes at the sound of the Fairy’s voice. His vision remained dark, but he had to squint hard as the Fairy’s brightness was too much for his newly opened pupils.
“Navi?” Link blurted out shivering, the bone piercing cold returning to remind him of his current whereabouts.
“That Moblin hit you harder than I feared. It’s me, Aryl! And you are Link…though I guess you know that.” Aryl kept flying frenetically in front of his face before stopping above his snow covered body. “I thought you died on me at first! You were out for a long time and bleeding everywhere…it is still dark though, and snowing as hard as ever!”
Link did his best to nod as he rolled from his side onto his back. It hurt to breathe, his ribs were probably broken he figured. His face was numb and he was covered in blood, his and the Moblin’s.
“How bad does it look?” Link asked, his left eye was closed shut and the cheekbone below it felt massively swollen and broken. He figured he wasn’t a pretty sight at the moment.
“The truth?” Aryl questioned.
“Bad. I have never seen a Hylian that bloody and messed up since-” Aryl stopped short of finishing her thought. Link could see that whatever she was about to say after ‘since’, she wasn’t supposed to say. Aryl quickly retook her sentence as if to avoid suspicions, “Since …Never! I have never seen anyone as badly hurt as you.”
Link didn’t make much of Aryl’s near slip of her tongue. He had more pressing matters at that moment. Standing up from the bloody frozen ground being the first, and foremost. He stood up grunting and cursing under his breath at the Tri Force of courage’s uselessness in comparison to the Ganondorf’s piece of it. He had seen Ganondorf heal in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds from devastating mortal wounds. The Triforce of Power granted the evil Gerudo immortality. Link however remained bloody and broken. But such was his luck.
Beside him laid the dead ‘Smartest of Moblins’ with Link’s Goron crafted blade still impaled on his ugly head. The sword had gone through the underside of his jaw and had run all the way through, and out of the top of the head.
Link put his right foot on the Moblin’s face, bending at the waist to grab the blade’s hilt and with a grunt of pain managed to pull the sword out.
The blade was too filthy, covered in blood and brains to sheathe back on its scabbard, so Link ripped a pelt out of the body of another dead Moblin to wipe the filth from his blade.
“Given the severity of your wounds, I strongly suggest that we start marching down towards Lost Woods… like now.” Aryl said with a sense of urgency in her tiny voice.
“We will, but I have to clean this thing before putting it back in the scabbard. The stench of rotten blood isn’t a good one.” Link answered as he cleaned his sword before finally placing it back on its scabbard. Link took a deep breath or at least tried to before breaking into a coughing fit, clutching his right rib cage in clear agony.
“My ribs are broken Aryl, I need to find a Fairy Fountain, a Great Fairy would be preferable. But I’d settle for anything right now.” Link said worried about the long distance between themselves and the closest known fountain in Lost Woods.
“Hide under my shield we don’t want to make ourselves visible on the way back. I can’t fight anyone in this condition.” Link said before closing his one good eye and sighing, “By the way, where the hell is my shield?”
“Up the hill. Luckily enough it is actually right next to your bow. That Moblin really did a number on you!” Aryl replied.
Link slowly made his way up the hill. As he walked back to the place where the Moblin had first attacked him, he realized that it had been almost miraculous that he didn’t break an arm or a leg on his previous downhill tumble. The hill was steep and had plenty of Rocky surfaces in which to break bones.
Once at the top he gathered his equipment, Aryl hid behind his shield, and he took his first step Southwest towards Lost Woods.
“We need to go the Fairy fountain in Lost Woods. Or it will take months before I can ever walk or breathe right ever again.” Link said as he marched in the snow at slow but steady pace.
As they walked the falling snow beneath the gray skies began to dissipate. While Link’s one good eye could see farther in the distance, the air got colder, which made Link shiver as he clenched his teeth.
“You know Link…I will miss these walks, and adventures, and all.” The ever cheerful Aryl broke the silence. Link didn’t mind talking to the fairy it helped him take his mind away from the cold if only momentarily.
“Why would you miss them? It is not like I am going to die…I hope.” Link replied still gritting his teeth.
“Retirement of course! It is about due time you ride into the sunset, you know, settle in the tree house and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
“What fruits of my labor?….The only meaningful things that I have done that have stood the test of time have been these Moblin killing runs, King Dodongo…everything else exists only in my memories.” Link sighed, “Besides I am only 15….”
“And already lost your touch.” Aryl stated shaking her tiny head.
“What do you mean?” Link questioned puzzled at her statement.
“Well look at you! Almost killed by a Moblin…a Moblin for the goddesses sake!” Aryl said in a chastising tone.
A good sized Moblin like the one Link had fought had been the death of many a Hylian Knight. In fact Link might be the first Hylian to have survived a direct punch from such a foe. Aryl might have been spoiled by Link’s previous fighting prowess.
“I was careless…” Link mumbled lowering his head to stare at the snow in the ground which now was knee high.
“Were you? If I hadn’t saved you at the last second…oh boy…” Aryl shook her head again, “You would have been dead, surely dead, completely dead!”
“About that…” Link smiled candidly at the fairy, “Thank you. You saved my hide, Navi would have been proud…or jealous. You are a great fairy Aryl, Saria is blessed to have you.” Link meant every word.
“Right! We make a good team. And because I have grown fond you, I think you should quit now. The Sprout can protect the Village, you should rest even after those horrible wounds heal.” Aryl finalized, leaving Link to ponder in silence the wisdom in her words.
‘Can I really rest?’ Link thought, there was always something to do, Hyrule was a big place, the surrounding lands perhaps bigger. There were plenty of things to do. But Ganondorf was; for the time being gone, and he had been dismissed from Zelda’s service. He had been tempted from time to time to join Hyrule’s Army. With his fighting abilities and mostly intact magic skill he would make a formidable foe for Hyrule’s enemies. Yet the prospect of being ordered around by men like Stonard wasn’t appealing to him. Link was no soldier, he had too much of a free spirit in him for that particular job. Perhaps he could become a Freelancer, a Bounty Hunter of sorts.
Whatever he decided could wait he figured, after all there was no guarantee that he would reach the Fairy Fountain alive. Link’s hope rekindled however as he spotted from what still was a considerable distance the first outline of trees that marked the beginning of the Lost Woods maze. Him and Aryl would get there by first light.