The noisy, rhythmic sea. The burning hot sand. The salty wind. The chattering seagulls. It was always the same, each and every day. Perhaps once or twice a year, there'd be storms. Link yearned for those days, for they disrupted the daily schedule he lived by that he loathed. Whenever he could, he'd lay down and do nothing. Because doing nothing is better than being trapped in a never ending cycle. At least in his mind, anyway.
"Big Brother, will you get up? You haven't finished your chores!"
Link groaned, not happy about being torn from his random daydreams, and stood up to stretch out his arms with a huge and exaggerated yawn. The speaker, his little sister, took this action as an unspoken "Yes, sister, I'll get on them right away!"
"Y'know, Link, someday I won't be there to act as your alarm," scolded his sister, Aryll. She was three years younger than her brother, yet seemed to act like his mother. It was also she who usually handled the sibling's affairs, as she was more motivated and outgoing than her lazy, soft-spoken brother. Beyond those differences, however, the siblings were practically identical in both body and mind. They both shared the same hue of golden blonde hair, black-green eyes, and light olive skin. Internally, the siblings were the same aw well: they were both kind-hearted, willing to help anyone in need, and loyal to a fault.
"But right now you are," said Link. He leaned over the banister of the lookout that oversaw their tiny island. Their island, which was named Outset Island due to its far distance from any of the major islands, was a cozy home to the two siblings. Since the island has a population of ten, all of the villagers knew each other well and helped each other out.
This is why each villager is given a specific job to do each day. Link's job is to deliver water to every house in the village. As the oldest boy in the village, he was the best person for the task. It is a very important job, and is also a job that currently is not being done. Good thing Aryll was there to fix that.
"Link, go do your work. And brush your hair; it's messy."
"Yes ma'am," said Link somewhat sarcastically as he began to climb down the lookout's ladder. As far back as he could remember, Aryll has always been bossy towards him. It didn't really bother him, considering she was a stand-in for the mother figure he lacked. He was raised by his grandmother, and he was okay with that, but his grandmother's maternal qualities had expired long ago.
Link crossed the bridge that spanned between the gap in the island and walked the far right of the island where the well was located. He glanced at the lookout to see the tiny figure of his sister. He couldn't see her eyes, but he knew they were fixed on him. He grabbed one of four blue clay pots and filled it with water. The first pot went to his neighbor Mesa's house. Mesa happened to live on the left side of the island where no one else lived, so his delivery was always the hardest. Still, the island was so small the distance wasn't much. Link placed the water jar on top of his head and brought it to the house. He placed it on the doorstep and ran back to the well. He repeated the process for the remaining three houses: Abe's household, the twin brothers' house, and finally, his house.
It took about ten minutes to finish the job. When he was done, he climbed back to the lookout to be with his sister. "You finished awfully quickly, Link," she commented.
"I might be lazy, but I get the job done," said Link as he walked over to the banister facing the sea. He stood there, staring into the horizon where the light blue sky met the dark blue sea.
"Do you ever wonder what's out there?" asked Aryll, as if she was reading his mind. It didn't surprise Link. He and Aryll spent so much time together that they often knew that the other was thinking.
Link turned to her, his eyes wide with wonder and his lips parted with a smile of determination. "All of the time."
"Sometimes, I try and see with my telescope. All I can see are the black outlines of far-off islands. And other times, I use this." She pulled a brownish-green object from her pocket. "It's tricky, but I've almost been able to see the island to the east of us. Do you want to try? You're better at using the Hyoi Pears than I am."
Link blinked his eyes at the mystical pear. He didn't know how it worked, but if you placed the strange fruit on your head, a seagull would snatch it and you'd be in control of it for some time. It took a lot of practice because they were indeed very hard to use. "Aryll, you know you should use those sparingly. They're sort of expensive."
"I know...I'm sorry… but I was curious." She placed the pear back into the pockets of her blue flowered dress. She suddenly looked up and flicked her head to the right. "Grandma's about to call us, by the way."
Sure enough, the sound of clapping was heard. When they were really young, Link and Aryll knew this as the universal code for "come home now". It was so embedded in their brains, in fact, that whenever they heard the sound of clapping, they'd look to their home and see if their caretaker was waiting for them or not.
Instinctively, Link and Aryll walked over the ladder and climb down, with Link letting his sister go first. They both raced each other back to their home where their grandma, wearing her typical red and purple striped dress and neat bun was standing. Link easily won, leaving his little sister in the dust. In a nice way, of course.
"Look at you, Link. You get faster every day," complimented his Grandma sweetly.
Aryll caught up to them, panting and out of breath. "Why'd- you- call us- Grandma?" she asked between breaths.
"It's lunchtime. I made your favorites: elixir soup."
Link and Aryll looked at each other with delight and dashed into the house. Link reached down and grabbed the pot of water he delivered and brought it inside. While he emptied the pot into the bucket they stored water in, his sister poured three bowls of soup and placed them on the table. Link sent her a small smile of gratitude before sitting down and enjoying his soup. The soup was a bright orange color, which only looked brighter in the dull purple clay bowl it was held in, but the soup could not be judged by its color. It tasted absolutely amazing.
He and his sister loved the soup even though they had no idea what was in it. In fact, it was his sister who had started to call it "elixir soup" when she was very, very little. Aryll called it that because she believed the soup had healing powers when she was little. Grandma would always correct her and tell her it was simply good for the soul, but Aryll insisted the soup was healing her. Link found it amusing and began to call the soup that as well, and eventually the name stuck. Even today he and Aryll still tried to figure out what was in the soup, but Grandma kept her secrets well hidden from the two youngsters.
Aryll was the first to finish her lunch. She explained that she wanted to go sightseeing, so she grabbed her beloved telescope and walked out onto her house's balcony to watch the horizon. She always made it a point to eat her food as quickly as possible; sitting down to eat meals indoors never suited her.
Link, on the contrary, could sit down all day, anywhere, and do nothing but eat. His grandma even teased him about that all of time. Slowly, savoring every taste, Link slurped down the last of his soup just in time to hear a scream from outside. It was his sister's yell.
Without a second thought, Link ran outside to see his sister clutching her telescope to her chest and jumping up and down excitedly.
"Aryll! You worried us! Don't yell like that!" Link scolded.
"Look! Big Brother! Look in the distance!" She practically threw her telescope at him. Nearly dropping it, Link saved the device at the last second and looked through it. Aryll positioned it in the right place for him.
"Is that the merchant ship?" he asked.
"Yes! Let's go on the deck and wait for him!"
"You go ahead; I'll go get our money." Laughing happily and nodding, Aryll skipped away while Link returned inside.
"I could hear your sister screaming. The merchant ship is in?" asked Grandma while cleaning the bowls they just used.
"Yeah. We're going to go look around and possibly buy something. I imagine Aryll would want more Hyoi Pears." Grandma shuffled around for a moment and pulled out a brown suede bag, out of which she handed link a red rupee. "What's this for? You know Aryll and I save up for this?"
"I know. I just want to treat you kids to something. Grandmothers are supposed to spoil their grandkids, you know."
He relished the cool feel of the gem as his grandma placed it into his hands. He quickly hugged his grandmother, not knowing what to say. He did manage to squeeze out two very important words, though. "Thank you," he whispered. He went to the double bed he and Aryll shared and pulled his wallet that he also shared with his sister from under the pillows. He threw the red rupee into the bag. With a reassuring smile, he went out of the door, through the grass, and onto the deck. Aryll was standing there, practically exploding with delight.
Link strutted over to her and dug in the bag. "Look what Grandma gave us." He pulled out the red rupee.
Aryll squealed. "Link! That's 20 rupees! We... we can buy two Hyoi Pears with that! Or... or even a bag to hold more stuff!" Her smile faltered. "I'd feel bad spending Grandma's money, though. She doesn't have much."
"We could save up and buy her something?" Link suggested.
"Sounds great." Aryll sat on the edge of the dock and hung her feet over. The tips of her brown sandals grazed the top of the sea's surface. Link sat next to her, with his gray sandals getting completely submerged.
Since their island was so far from other islands, the merchant ship could only come by the island once month to sell its wares. Sturgeon, the leader of the island who was elected by his own right (not that anyone complained; he had great leadership skills when he wasn't angry with everyone), always paid in advance to have a month's supply of food, fuel, and other necessities brought in on the ship. The ship's owner, a foreign man named Beedle, also sold hunting and fishing goods inside of the boat.
The ship pulled in after a few minutes, and the two siblings jumped aboard before the boat even had a chance to dock. They eagerly ran inside, where they were greeted enthusiastically by the merchant. He was a tall, slender man with tan skin and a few red freckles peppered on his face. He had a large nose and dark, poufy hair in the style of an afro.
"Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!" he exclaimed. "There are my two best customers!"
"Hello, Beedle," greeted Aryll.
Beedle smiled at her and ruffled Link's hair. "You've gotten taller," he said with a smile.
"Good to hear that," said Link. "So what do you have today?"
Beedle grabbed a handful of items from under the counter and placed them on top of the counter for the children to see. "The same as usual: all-purpose bait, Hyoi Pears, bags, arrows, etc."
"I'll take a Hyoi Pear," said Aryll. "Just one." Link fished out ten rupees: one blue and five green.
Beedle handed her the strange pear. "These only grow in my homeland. I make sure to stock up before I come here because I know you like them."
Aryll bowed respectfully. "Thank you. I'll go and get Sturgeon. He'll want to know you've arrived and will probably send Orca to pick up the supplies and pay for the next month. You coming, Link?"
Her brother shook his head. "I'll stay here a moment. You go get Sturgeon." Aryll eyed her brother suspiciously before slowly exiting.
Beedle chuckled. "You have a gleam in your eyes. You want something, yes?"
"This might sound a little strange, but I've been thinking about buying a small boat for a while. Do you know where I could find one?"
"Why would you need a boat?"
Link didn't answer; his solemn expression was answer enough. Beedle understood; the look in Link's eyes told him everything. When you have an itch for adventure, you'd seize every opportunity given to you in order to see excitement. He knew that all too well as a traveling merchant who created bonds with the many people he met on his job, such as Link and Aryll.
"I see. I understand. Back in my homeland, I have an old boat I suppose I could sell for cheap. Here's a pictograph of it."
Link gently grabbed the parchment from Beedle's hand. In it was a small boat deserted in the middle of a sand dune. It was very small, only big enough for one person and possibly two if you squeezed. It had one handle near the stern, insinuating that it would be easy to control. The thing that caught Link's eyes, however, was the bow. It curved upwards and formed into a face; a dragon's face, to be exact. The eyes were closed, creepily enough, but the boat was detailed enough to look like a living creature. "I like it. How much would you accept for it?"
Beedle thought for a second, bringing his hand up to his chin and rubbing it. "The boat, with sail and complete map of the country included, would be 1000 rupees."
Link's jaw dropped to the floor. 1000 was an impossibly large number. He came from a poor, almost destitute island; he never even had half of that much in his life at one time. He took out his wallet and poured everything onto the table. He and Beedle counted carefully. "I only have 97 rupees," Link said sadly.
Beedle licked his lips. "If you promise to have the other 903 rupees by the time I return next month, I'll bring the boat. I'll take this as a down payment."
Link couldn't really stand the thought of waiting a month, but he had no choice. "Deal." Beedle scraped up the rupees into his earnings' box and they shook hands. "I'll see you in a month," he said as he left the ship.
On the ship's balcony, Link spotted Orca and Sturgeon, the twin brothers, in front of their house arguing. Aryll was standing off to the side, her gaze focused on the ship. When she saw Link, she began running towards him. Link quickly lifted up the hem of his long, blue shirt and stuffed the empty wallet bag into the pocket of his orange pants.
"What were you doing?" she asked. It was more like a demand rather than a question.
Link looked up and around to make sure no one else was in earshot. Orca was on his way over, looking a little angry, so Link spoke quickly. "We need to talk in the place."
Aryll's eyebrow's shot up. "The place? Are you sure?" Orca was almost to the dock.
"Yes. Go now. I'll meet you up there after I help out." Aryll nodded quickly and ran off. She passed Orca, who ignored her as she rubbed against the fabric of his pants trying to get away. Link saluted to the Orca, which was normally how the two greeted each other. "Hello Orca, sir, can I help you?"
His angry expression dulled a little. "Ah, Link. You're a fine young man, better than my good-for-nothing brother who does nothing but boss people around."
"I take it you want my help?"
"Yes, I do." Link wordlessly followed Orca to the back and of the boat and took three heavy boxes of cargo. Orca took double that amount; despite his age, he was an exceptionally strong man. He was the antithesis of his brother, who possessed a higher than normal intelligence rather than strength. He also had a (usually) calm disposition as opposed to his brother's fiery personality. Link wondered how the brothers fought so much as he carried the boxes and placed them on the side of Orca and Sturgeon's two story house. He thought it amusing that because the brothers fought so much they each needed their own story separate from each other.
"Thanks for your help, Link." He still looked angry, but mustered up a smile for the boy's sake.
"No problem," he said. He bowed and walked off to go find his sister. The place he had sent Aryll off to was the forested area above the right side of the island. In order to reach it, you had to take a steep and winding path on the left side and cross a bridge that hung over the water. The path was safe, but it terrified most of the villagers. Grandma did not allow Link and Aryll to go there, but they never listened. They were confident, and rightfully so, that they would never get caught. The only person who ever went up there besides them was Orca, and he only came up to hunt in the forest when food was running low. And since they just received a new delivery of food, the chances of him coming up there were slim to none.
Link crossed the bridge quickly, ensuring nobody was watching. He entered the break in the rocks and entered the forest to find Aryll sitting on a stump a little ways away. Link called out to her and joined her, sitting on the log beside her.
"Link? What's going on?"
"Um, don't kill me, but I spent all of our money." She let out a shrill yell. Link lunged and put his hand over her mouth gently. "Shhh!"
Aryll pushed her brother's arm away. "Sorry," she whispered. "What did you buy?" She was anticipating his answer and struggling to keep her cool.
Link placed his hands on her shoulders. "I ordered a boat from Beedle. It's going to cost a thousand rupees. I already paid 97 using what we had, including Grandma's money." Aryll opened her mouth to protest, but Link silenced her by placing his finger over her mouth. "Don't worry, we'll pay her back. Anyway, Beedle will bring the boat next month. It's very small; I should be able to hide it under the balcony of our house."
"But Brother, how are you going to get the money?"
"I'll have to help out a lot. Do as many chores as I possibly can. If people ask, I'll say I'm saving up for a gift for Grandma."
Aryll slumped in her makeshift seat. "What would Grandma say?"
"She won't know. People here respect the secrecy of surprises."
"I mean about leaving, not about getting her a gift."
"Oh. She wouldn't like it. Grandma won't let me leave; she thinks the sea is dangerous." He paused. "That won't stop me."
Aryll bit her lip. "I'd hate to do this. We won't go far, right?"
"Actually," said Link, clearing his throat, "you're not coming with me."
"..what?"" Aryll's eyes widened and filled with tears. The hurt she was feeling was projected all over her face. "You want to leave me here, by myself?"
"No! It's not like that!" whispered Link frantically. "It's just dangerous, you know? I was planning on going and exploring and then coming back for you if it was safe enough."
Aryll wiped her eyes. "Okay... but what if you don't come back?"
Link sighed. "Then at least you'll be safe here."
Aryll started to weep softly. "You expect me to stay here while you're in danger. I can't do that. I won't let you!" She began to cry, her small form shaking as she tried to quiet her sobs.
Link attempted to wipe some of the tears from his sister's face, but it was useless; more of them just spilled in place. "I'm going to go anyway, Aryll. I'm tired of being on this island with nowhere to go. I want to see the world. The choice to leave is mine to make. The only say you have in this is whether or not you want to join me when I return."
"Okay, Link. Alright. I'll guess I can't do anything to stop you. All I can do is help you." The tears stopped falling, leaving her cheeks red and raw.
Link laughed. "If you can't beat them, join them." He stood up and helped his sister up as well. "We have one month. I'll probably be working constantly. It's going to be a tough change for me and my ol' lazy self."
"You're also going to need to pack food and clothes, but you'll leave that to me, right?"
"I wouldn't trust anyone else."
The two siblings shook hands for good measure and walked down the mountain path. When they crossed the bridge, they ran into the youngest child of the village, a boy named Zill. Neither of them liked Zill much; Link thought he was too clingy and Aryll was disgusted by the never ending chain of snot that hung out of his nose.
"Hey, Link, my dad was asking for you," Zill sniffed. "Where were you?"
"Lying in the grass in front of Mesa's house," Link lied.
"Really? Sounds like fun; I should go try it." Zill hobbled away while Aryll struggled to hold in a giggle.
Zill, his brother Joel, and their parents Rose and Abe lived on the house raised on an incline behind the twins' house. It was the biggest house in the village and had a great view of the whole left side of the island. It also had a sizable pen that held three little piglets. Aryll thought the piglets were cute loved to play with them. "I guess I'll go see what Abe wants," said Link.
"I'll come with you, just in case."
They made their way to the house to find Abe sitting in the pen with two piglets: a pink one and a black one. The third one, the pink one with black spots, was gone. "You guys didn't eat her did you!" Aryll cried upon noticing the absent pig. "She was my favorite."
Abye laughed. "We didn't eat her. Not yet, anyway." He mumbled the last sentence. "She's run away and I can't find her anywhere. I'm afraid she might have fallen into the water. I'm not much of a swimmer, but I know you are, Link. Can you go look for her? If you find her and bring her back I'll give you a purple rupee. How does that sound?"
Upon the word "purple", Link and Aryll traded excited glances with each other. A purple rupee was worth a whopping fifty rupees. "How can I say no to that?" he exclaimed.
"I might go see if your wife needs any help inside," said Aryll. " Link and I are saving up to buy our Grandmother a gift for taking such good care of us."
Abe smiled, the lines on his tan face getting thinner. "You kids are so sweet. I'm sure Rose could give use the helping hand of a lovely lady." Aryll smiled, slightly ashamed of lying, and left.
As it turned out, Rose was nearly moved to tears by Aryll's (false) statement of wanting to buy their grandmother a gift. She gave Aryll a purple rupee for helping her cook chicken soup and promised her a red one if she would bathe and put her two sons to bed that night. Aryll eagerly complied.
She had a much easier time of it than Link. It took him three hours to find the piglet. As it turned out, the piglet was in the water just as Abe had guessed. She was pretty far out,; it was a miracle Link was able to spot the tiny flash of pink in the ocean. He swam out to get her and returned, but his troubles did not end there. The pig took off on a squealing rampage and ran all over the right side of the island. Link almost ran over his grandma, who was watering the patch of flowers in front of their yard and observing the spectacle. Link apologized and explained how he was helping out the neighbors as he made desperate attempts to seize the pig.
After two more hours of chasing the little she-devil, Link abandoned his good-guy approach and peeled a branch from a nearby tree. He swatted at the pig until it knelt in obedience. By now, the sun was beginning to set. Sweaty, dirty, and exhausted, Link climbed up the hill and dropped the piglet into the pen. He laid face down on the ground next to it, too tired to function.
Next thing he knew, Aryll was lifting him up into a sitting position. She placed a bottle of warm liquid and two purple rupees in his hand. "One is for finding the pig and the other is for me making dinner. Rose told me to give you some soup for your efforts. You'll like it, its chicken." Aryll looked at her brother tenderly. "You might want to go bathe after you drink that. You smell awful. I have to go back in and put Rose's kids to sleep. She told me she'd give me another twenty rupees for that."
"This is so exhausting. I can't imagine doing this every day. It's too much."
"It'll be worth it, right?" She held out of her fist to her brother, who returned the gesture.
"Yeah. Count on it."