After the defeat of Ganon, somewhere above the clouds...
Blinking against the sudden glare of the sun Link turned to see her standing behind him. Now that the danger was over he was finally able to truly see her. Barely reaching his chin Princess Zelda had grown into a beautiful woman. Long golden hair cascaded down her back, a delicate tiara adorning her head. Hands enclosed in long satin gloves she wore a pink gown befitting a woman of her station. Finally he lifted his eyes to her face and blue eyes met violet and Link was shocked to see unshed tears in their depths.
"How could I have known Link?" Zelda murmured softly. "I was only eight. How could I have known that the decisions we had made would turn out like this."
For his part Link was speechless. He couldn't understand what she was talking about. They had won; Ganondorf was defeated; locked away in the sacred realm for all eternity. Zelda looked away with a pained expression. "Because of my carelessness my people have suffered terribly and you, our saviour have lost seven years of your life. You stand before me as a man but with the mind of a child. I...I must fix this."
Looking back at Link she held out her hand. "Please Link, hand me the Ocarina. With its power I will be able to return you to your rightful time. To where you belong, you must warn my younger self to not open the sacred realm and this can all be avoided."
Reaching into his tunic Link pulled out the Ocarina, its highly polished surface glinting a vibrant blue in the sunlight. "Avoid this? How can this be avoided?"
"I will send you back to where you found me staring through the garden window. Hopefully that will be early enough to stop my childish plan of obtaining the triforce for ourselves." Zelda paused, taking the Ocarina from Link's hand. "We played right into his hands Link. All Ganon had to do was wait for us to gather the pieces and open the Door of Time...we will prevent that from happening."
Lifting the Ocarina to her lips, Zelda began to play the Ocarina. The soft notes carried out and Link recognized the tune to be Zelda's Lullaby. Blue light surrounded him and as he lifted to the sky Zelda's soft words reached him before all went white. "Thank you Link, thank you...and goodbye."
Seven Years Later...
It had been seven years, seven long years since the day that Link had been sent back in time to regain the years he had lost. Being a Hylian Link had, of course, grown up so he could no longer call the Kokiri forest his home. Many of the children had been confused when he left but they hadn't questioned it. Saria had been sad when she learned her friend had to go but she as well didn't question his motives; just asked that he never forget her, or the other children.
Leaving the forest had meant he needed to find a new home. Castle Town had been out of the question; its proximity to the Princess was too much for him and his memories of another time. His memories confused him, broken scenes and a beautiful princess taunted him with another life, another destiny that he alone remembered. The Princess knew of him, but after he had returned to warn her not to pursue the Triforce they had gone their separate ways.
Ganondorf had been denied his audience with the King and had returned to the desert and that had been the end of it. Link had heard rumours that the Gerudo King had been ambushed and killed in the desert by Bulblin some years later. Being the only one to know what the man had been capable of meant that only Link knew the dangers that had been averted by the evil man's death. But one thing still puzzled him. He still felt the power of the Triforce of Courage within him, why hadn't the triforce been reassembled when he'd been sent back in time?
He had been sent back to stop them from opening the sacred realm but it could be argued that if he held a piece of the Triforce than obviously that event hadn't been undone...but the Gerudo King was dead and had never been able to obtain the Triforce of Power. Suspecting the Princess still held the Triforce of Wisdom Link had tried to see her again, to ask her this but the guards had grown wise to his ways of sneaking into the castle. He never was able to ask the Princess his questions and in time his memories and the knowledge of the Triforce faded and Link soon forgot all about his adventure and his destiny as Hero of Time. Instead he took up the life of a simple ranch hand working for Talon at Lon Lon Ranch where he made friends with a red haired girl and gained a horse as a new companion.
"Link? Link!" A female voice called out over the sleepy choral where horses grazed peacefully. Out amongst them astride a large russet Mare was the person in question. Shifting on horseback Link glanced back to see Malon coming towards him. For as long as he could remember they had been friends and having practically grown up together their relationship could be more described as that of a brother and sister.
"Hey Mal, what's up."
Malon scrunched her nose at his use of his nickname for her. "I have been looking everywhere for you. Dad wants you in the stables. I think Ingo has been ducking out again to Goddesses know where and Dad needs your help getting the castle's Milk delivery in order."
Link visibly stiffened at the mention of the castle but Malon either didn't see it or more likely ignored it. "I was wondering though if you could help me." Tilting his head to the side Link waited for Malon to continue. "I was hoping Dad would let me take this week's milk order to the castle. I have been dying to get to the market in Castle town to buy a new dress but with all the Bulblins about I haven't been allowed to go. If you accompany me than I will be protected from the bandits and I will finally be able to get my shopping done while you deliver the milk." At Link's continued silence Malon amended her last comment. "Or I can make the delivery if you don't mind spending a few hours at the market afterwards."
Link sighed, "Alright, I will go talk to Talon." At Malon's squeal of delight he tried to hide the smile that tugged at his mouth. "But you owe me Malon. Not many men would willingly submit themselves to hours of shopping." The girl though didn't seem to hear him as she ran off to get ready for the trip and Link was left to search out Talon himself.
It was no surprise when Talon agreed to his daughter's plan. It was no secret that Link was handy with a sword and there was no one better to watch over Malon and the milk delivery. As Link strapped his scabbard to his back his eyes fell to his sword. It was nowhere near the majesty that was the Master Sword but it would make due. Picking up his shield Link slung it over his back than left his small room in the Northern tower of Lon Lon Ranch.
Epona waited outside shifting restlessly having already figured out they were going for a trip. Seeing the horse's eagerness Link fought down a feeling of unease. He couldn't deny he missed this, missed strapping on a sword and shield, travelling the world, meeting new people. His life as a ranch hand was such a sedentary life, so different from the one he had lived before. Blinking at the thought Link frowned. What life though had he lived before? He spoke like he had gone adventuring in far off lands, which was ridiculous. A memory tugged at the edge of his consciousness but he dismissed it as nothing but a silly fantasy. Mounting Epona Link spurred her into a quick trot to where Malon was by the stables securing the cart to a team of horses. The Milk delivery sat securely in the back, Talon having loaded it early this morning after milking the cows.
Malon glanced up at his approach, a warm smile stretching her lips. "Well I am already here. Dad said he had other chores to do so he wouldn't be able to see us off."
"He's probably still looking for Ingo." Link muttered as he manoeuvred Epona to the front of the cart to lead the way. Glancing back once to make sure Malon was following he scouted ahead to keep an eye out for Bulblins. As the years had gone by the strange primitive thugs had slowly taken over Hyrule Field to the point that it was impossible to go anywhere without an armed escort.
The market place in castle town was, like always, bustling. People ran back and forth between the stalls while merchants heckled any who were within shouting range. As Link's gaze swept through the lively market the happy scene was replaced with another of ruination and ReDeads. Shaking his head to clear his vision Link wondered what could have caused such a morbid thought but Malon's excited squeal drew his attention. A small smile touched his lips as he watched his step-sister stare longingly at dress shops and jewellery stalls, her gaze lingered on one of the shop windows before she noticed Link watching her. With a sheepish grin she flicked the reins to urge the horse team forward.
"Why don't I just take the delivery up to the castle Mal?"
Wide eyes swung to Link. "You-you're sure Link?"
In response he laughed. "If I don't than we should have told Talon we weren't coming back until tomorrow." Stopping by the cart he tied Epona's reins to one of the cart rails before taking Malon's place at the front. "Go; get your shopping done Malon."
Link watched until she'd disappeared into the crowd before clucking his tongue to get the horses moving. The castle was through the market and out the northern gate. Leaning back in the wooden driver's seat Link propped a foot up getting comfortable, the castle was a bit of a distance away from the town and he wasn't the only one with a delivery. Following behind another cart bringing what looked like barrels of wine Link gazed at his surroundings. Not much had changed, the road to the castle still laid at the bottom of the small ravine and he could just make out the tips of the soldiers' spears along the top, the only indication that they were being watched and weren't alone.
Nearing the gatehouse that led to the castle he straightened once he noticed that there were several guards standing around all seeming to be arguing about something. They stopped talking when the cart in the lead stopped to announce their arrival, Link hung back to watch the guards as they waved the other man through before flicking the reins to move his own cart up to the gatehouse.
As the first cart passed through the guards continued their conversation, unaware that another cart was already making its way closer.
"The King has demanded we close the gates! The Princess has gone missing!"
"Missing? Again? That's the third time this week! We can't shut down everything every time that girl gets it in her head to duck her escort. People have business at the castle and there are deliveries..."
"Well she has somehow managed to leave the castle grounds. Master Agahnim has been unable to find her and is insisting she isn't in the castle..."
Link cleared his throat to get the guards attention. "Excuse me; I have a delivery here from Lon Lon Ranch."
Looking at him blandly the guard on the left stamped his spear against the ground. "By order of Master Agahnim no one is to enter or leave the castle."
Looking bored Link shrugged. "So I've heard. But this milk here will sour if it's not refrigerated soon."
The second guard glanced to his comrade. "He's right."
The first huffed. "Ya but we can't open the gates, the Princess..."
"We won't let him in, go back to the castle and send someone to fetch the milk." The second guard looked back to Link. "Unload your milk here. We will have someone take it to the castle and you can be on your way."
With a sigh Link hopped into the back of the cart and began removing the straps holding the two crates in place. Behind him the two guards continued to argue about the missing Princess. Mister stuck up, as Link dubbed him, insisted that locking up the castle was the best way to make sure the Princess didn't succeed in her plan to leave the castle grounds. Mister Sensible felt it best to continue as usual so as not to alert the public of the Princess' disappearance.
Stacking the crates by the gate Link climbed back up and grabbed the reins. Neither guard seemed to notice as he turned the cart around and headed back down the road towards town. The arguing voices of the guards faded as Link drove further away from the gatehouse but a feeling of unease stayed with him as he neared Castle Town. Thoughts of the missing Princess stayed though Link wasn't all to certain as to why. What did he care if the Princess was missing? It wasn't his concern. Pushing down the nagging feeling that it really was his concern he turned his attention back to the road and nearly ended up running into someone.
With a muttered oath Link yanked on the reins to bring the horses to a halt. The person, who had seemingly come out of nowhere, was dressed in a long dark Robe with a deep hood that hid any distinguishable features. Without giving so much as glance in Link's direction he took off down the road. Grabbing hold of a vine that grew up the side of the ravine the person quickly scaled up the side to disappear without so much as a word.