The Hero's Heroes

By Shadsie

Disclaimer and Notes: The Legend of Zelda series belongs to Shigeru Miyamoto and the other fine folks at Nintendo. I do not own and am making no money from this and wouldn’t want to, anyway. I have my own worlds I’m trying to sell. Twilight Princess based.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Midna had done all she could for him. He’d only had time to make the simplest request to “Get us out of here!” and that is what she had done. She’d quickly transformed him and warped him to a place where she knew he’d get some help. She’d transformed him back into his human form the instant after their arrival. Midna knew that no people here would help an enormous wolf, a monster. She also knew that she couldn’t stick around in plain view, either. The people would likewise have no kindness toward a dark little imp. She wished she could do more. As it was, she hid herself in his shadow, fearing that it was soon to be the shadow of a corpse.


Colin came running out into the warm morning sunshine. He ran as quickly as his short legs could carry him. He was going to hunt for tadpoles and minnows around the spring. He was going to get out there before Beth and Talo came to splash around in the water and scare them all away. The sun was barely over the horizon. The only other person awake at this time was a Goron shambling through the streets on his own business. Colin recognized him - everybody called him Quartzite, though it wasn’t his real name. He’d come with the others to help rebuild the town.


As Colin neared the spring, he saw something unfamiliar up ahead. As he got closer, the lump on the ground became very familiar. Colin blinked, to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, but once he got close enough, his heart fluttered in panic.


“Link?” he cried.


Link lay on his side, beside Eldin Spring, its waters lapping on his cheek. Blood, dark and horribly, horribly red seeped into the sand and mud of the shore and dissipated in the water. Colin saw the gash in his friend’s middle. It was so red and deep that he almost didn’t notice the arrow sticking out of Link’s left shoulder. His skin was pale, like death. Colin just stood there, taking this all in. He felt the heat and the wetness of tears on his cheeks. He might have stayed there, frozen in fear and shock, if Link hadn’t opened his eyes.


The young swordsman said not a word, but merely looked up at Colin with his eyes half-lidded. Colin gasped and stepped back. The little boy couldn’t tell if those eyes were pleading, resigned, or if their owner was even aware of where he was. He closed them again and Colin ran toward the sanctuary. He beat on the door furiously and screamed for help.


The door cracked open and the tall form of Renado greeted him from the darkness. The shaman rubbed his eyes. “Colin? What is it?” he asked tiredly.


“It’s… It’s Link!” Colin stammered. “H-hurt! By the spring!”


Renado blinked awake and followed the boy. Ilia came up behind, still in her night clothes. She caught one glimpse of the heap on the shoreline and looked away. Colin stood beside him, getting his feet wet. Renado knelt down and gently brushed his fingers beneath Link’s nose. “Still breathing,” he said factually.


“He… He” Colin began, “He opened his eyes and looked at me. Can you help him? Is he gonna be alright?”


“I don’t know, Colin,” Renado said sadly as he examined the wounded hero. “He was smart to come to this spring. It is a sacred place and its water has healing properties, but these wounds are deep – the water is just not enough.”


The other children had awakened when they’d heard Colin’s commotion at the sanctuary. They emerged from the abandoned buildings where they’d set up temporary residence. There was a certain freedom to be found in a town that had been devastated in the manner in which Kakariko was, especially for children. Old shops and houses, abandoned and boarded up, had become temporary homes and forts. There was even one house that had become their “castle,” complete with daily stormings. Ever since he’d saved Beth from the boar riders and regained his health, Colin had become the designated “hero” in their games. “Colin the Brave” would defend “Princess Beth” from the terror of “Talo the Wicked,” and occasionally even Malo would join in, when he wasn’t busy with his Malo Mart. Ilia never felt like playing, and Ralis chose to stay by his mother’s tomb in the graveyard.


The kids, wanting to see what the commotion was about, came to the spring. Ilia continued to look away. She did not like the sight of blood. She also felt ashamed as she did not know how to help. She felt that she should know this young man – she knew that she should know him, but she just didn’t. She remembered the ride over to this place in the wagon, and how he’d escorted them, riding behind them to take care of the terrible creatures that were trying to kill Telma, the prince and her. Ilia knew that he was brave and felt guilty that it was all she knew about him.


Renado had taken the sword and shield off Link’s back and set them aside. He turned the young man over on his back and turned to Malo. “I want to see if he’ll take some potion. Malo, can you get me some blue potion, and quick?”


“Blue potion costs one hundred rupees,” the genius child, barely out of diapers, but with ambition well beyond his years said.


“Just get it,” Renado answered. He was not forceful, believing that gentleness was the way to deal with children. With Malo, it was probably the only way to get things done.


“Alright, this is… this isn’t going to be pretty, so you might want to look away, children,” the shaman said as he grasped the arrow in Link’s shoulder. Everyone obeyed him, except for Colin. Colin just stared. Renado ripped the arrow out of the young man’s flesh. Link yelped, his eyes still closed tightly, and he made various small gasps and whimpers of pain.


“Sssh, Link, it’s gonna be alright,” Renado said soothingly. He stroked Link’s face and hair. “It’s gonna be alright. You’re among friends now.”


Link flailed an arm around weakly, as if swinging a sword that wasn’t there. Colin spared a glance at his sword on the ground. The scabbard was covered in trailing rivulets of black blood, as though Link had been cutting through the flesh of monsters and had not cleaned the blade before sheathing it. Through cold fear, Colin felt the tiniest of smiles tug at his lips. Swordplay was a scary thing, but his friend - his hero had gone down fighting.


“Am-bush,” Link groaned.


Malo arrived, carried on the back of one of the local Gorons. Normally, they rolled when they wished to move fast, but for the human child’s sake, this one used his legs. The toddler needed to move quickly, but not be crushed. “I only had the red potion,” he said. “It’s thirty rupees but you can pay me later.”


Renado took the bottle and put it to Link’s lips. “Drink,” he said. Link choked and swallowed, and half the bottle’s contents spilled down his face and onto his tunic.


“Will this heal him?” Colin asked hopefully.


Renado sighed. “Some, yes. Blue potion is better. Swordsmen and other fighters carry this stuff for first aid in battle. It’s good for sealing up internal injuries and giving stamina. It’s mostly a painkiller. I didn’t want to move him without something in him to help with internal damage. He’s still going to require much attention.”


Renado slid his arms beneath the young swordsman and lifted him up, amid his pained grunts of protest. It was then that the unthinkable happened: his hat fell off.


The long green cap drifted to the ground. Colin stared at it. This just did not seem right. Ever since he’d seen Link in his new clothes, that hat had not left his head. It was as though it were being held there by a very strong glue, or, perhaps, a supernatural force. Renado began walking away, toward the inn. “Come, Ilia,” he said an authoritative voice. “You told me you know how to sew. I’m going to need your help.”


Ilia followed the shaman hesitantly. Colin picked up Link’s cap and put it on his own head. The brim of it shadowed his eyes. He also grabbed the sword and held its scabbard close to his chest.


“What are you doing?” Talo asked.


“You look so goofy!” Beth laughed.


“I’m taking these to Link,” Colin answered. “He’s gonna need them once he’s better.”


“If he gets better…” Talo said.


“He will! I’ll make sure of it!” Colin cried as he ran toward the inn. The shaman’s daughter, who’d been standing by silently, calmly picked up Link’s shield and followed.


Colin ran up the inn’s stairs, unprepared for the scene that awaited his eyes. Link lay on one of the beds – the same bed he’d been cared for in, and the same one he’d helped care for Ralis in. Link was stripped, with a sheet covering his modest region. His legs were swollen, with strange, purple blotches on the skin. Both Renado and Ilia were performing surgery, to the best of their abilities. Renado gave council to Ilia as she carefully stitched the shoulder wound closed. The shaman worked on the far more serious stomach wound.


Colin had seen his friend stripped to the waist before. All of the children in the village of Ordon would strip to the waist to play in the deeper parts of the stream – and even in Ordona Spring itself on hot summer days. This was far different. Those days were happy and sun-filled. Link was strong, his body toned from heavy ranch work, vital and alive. Right now, though muscular, Link’s body was pale, and the parts that did not have open wounds were covered in deep red and purple bruises from blows that did not penetrate the chain mail that he wore. His right side appeared slightly, but grotesquely misshapen, like he had broken ribs.


Ralis arrived and claimed that maybe he could help, as he knew some of the water-based healing techniques of his people. “He saved me,” the young Zora said, “I should return the favor.”


Colin set the sword and hat down by Link’s other things on the floor. He turned when Renado addressed him.


“Maybe you should leave, Colin,” the man said. “You’ve already done enough and you’ve already seen enough. You shouldn’t see this.”


Colin wasn’t usually one to disobey his elders, but he looked the shaman in the eye with grim determination. “I’m not leaving. I want to help.”




It was late into the night and Colin still refused to leave. Ilia and Ralis had left two hours ago at Renado’s suggestion they get some sleep. Even Luda was bedded down in a bunk elsewhere in the big hotel room. Colin remained seated in a chair at Link’s bedside, rubbing his unconscious face with a piece of aromatic bark that was supposed to dispel evil. If a gash in his gut, a pair of broken ribs and an arrow wound weren’t enough, poor Link was suffering the effects of poison. According to Renado, the purple blotches on his legs were where his skin had absorbed a harmful type of purple Chu-Chu slime.


The light from the lamps around the room cast eerie shadows. Colin felt like he was nodding off. He had to stay awake. He was afraid that if he fell asleep, that he’d wake up in the morning and learn that Link had died in the night. No, he was going to be here for him, dispelling the poison, and just being here. Renado got up and left the room, assuring Colin that he would be back in just a moment. Colin watched Link’s shadow flicker across the room. Something was very strange about it. He blinked. Surely he was beginning to dream. It seemed as though as the head of the shadow rose up and one of its eyes glowed just a little bit. It must have been a trick of the lamplight, but Colin was almost certain he’d seen the shadow rise up to look Link over. He was also sure he saw it shake its head sadly.


The shadow of Link and the bed returned to normal when Renado re-entered. The healer sat down and thrust something toward Colin, a piece of sweet cake wrapped in a cloth napkin. He took a bite out of one of his own.


Colin wolfed the cake down gratefully. He hadn’t had anything to eat for many hours. He spoke up.


“Link must be very bad off,” he said. “Even his shadow is worried about him.”


“Hmmm?” Renado inquired.


“His shadow… maybe I was dreaming, but I saw his shadow come to life and look at him. It looked worried.”


“It’s the light in here,” Renado replied, “It isn’t strong.”


Colin yawned, and then continued his healing work. He knew his friend would live. He was just too determined to die. And, though he was no hero, Colin was determined to help him. Link had promised to teach him to ride a horse. He couldn’t die before doing that. Link always kept his promises. He looked at Link’s left hand, resting over the blanket that was draped over him to keep him warm. Colin had been wondering about it all day… since he’d first come to Kakariko, Link had continually worn fingerless leather gloves and gauntlets and he’d never seen the strange marking back when they were in Ordon, or at least nothing so prominent. Link had always carried a strange birthmark, but it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as this was.


“Why is there this tattoo on Link’s hand?” Colin asked Renado. “Did you give it to him?”


Renado shook his head gently and smiled. “That isn’t a tattoo,” the healer said.


“Is it…” Colin inquired hesitantly, “another wound?”


“That is a very special mark,” Renado answered. “Very special, indeed. It represents pure courage, Colin. Our Link is apparently the Link, the Hero chosen by the Goddesses. You knew he was trying to save the world from the terrors that have come upon it, and he was always your hero, but yes, this is special. You have heard the legends, right?”


Colin nodded. His eyes were wide. Link had always been like a big brother to him, or that really cool older cousin that every kid wanted. He’d always been everything Colin never was – strong and brave, but he had no idea that his friend was a part of legend. “Link” wasn’t a unique or a rare name. It wasn’t an especially common name, but it wasn’t much more uncommon than “Colin.” It had been the name borne by the great heroes of the past. His father had even taken him on a trip to the tomb of one of them once. Colin remembered being disturbed that the inscription on the monument had borne the same name as his friend. Link knew all about these legends and histories, of course. He liked to joke about it, and was occasionally playfully teased over it by the adults in Ordon. When he’d gotten his mare, he’d named her “Epona,” after a legendary horse, as a joke.


“He is a part of the Chain,” Renado continued. “The mark on his hand means that he carries the Triforce of Courage inside of him. I am not sure he understands yet what he bears. He is the favored of Farore… let us hope that she helps him now.”




Pain…dull and all over, a few spots where it was acute and throbbing – Pain, that was what he was aware of. His brain only registered the basest, vaguest and most physical sensations, and pain was at the forefront of those. Immediately the brain registered that the body was not in danger, for the pain it was aware of wasn’t the biting, sudden pain of immediate wounds, instead it was the dissipated, dull, weighted pain that comes well after wounds have been received. The young man didn’t know if he was in less pain than he remembered being in, or if he was in the same amount of pain, but just didn’t care about it. He felt foggy, but he saw nothing as he hadn’t yet opened his eyes.


He’d been hurt? Yes, and a lot, by a horde of creatures determined to kill him. The blows had felt like fire. The arrow… ah, yes… there were archers after him, too… the arrow that got him had been on fire. Link… yeah… his name was Link. Midna… probably laughing at him from his shadow, because he’d let himself get surrounded and overwhelmed like that…


But he was alive, wasn’t he? He thought so. He didn’t know for sure, but he thought so. If he were dead, he’d probably not be hurting. He felt something on his fingers, like delicate strings… warm… something round?


With valiant effort, Link cracked his eyes open. The light was like spears! He opened his eyes again, more slowly, letting himself get adjusted to the light. He heard someone speaking, it was a familiar voice.


“Hey, are you awake, honey?”


“Huh?” Link grunted. “Wharm I?


The feminine voice answered him, rich and deep, but gentle. “You’re in Kakariko, hon. We don’t know exactly what happened to you, but you gave us quite a scare.”




The bartender and part-time healer smiled down at him. “I came as soon as I got Renado’s letter, he and I have been tending to you night and day, darling. And that little one, oh, bless his heart…”


Link lifted his hand up as he noticed the source of the strange, warm, melon-like object he’d been feeling. It was the head of a small, blond boy, asleep across part of his bed, a piece of smooth bark loosely clutched in his tiny right hand.


“… Colin…” Link said groggily.


“He hasn’t left your side,” Telma continued. “We tried to make him go, wanted him to get some rest, but all we could do was feed him and let him be. He just didn’t want to leave you.”


“Aw, Colin…” Link whispered… “Didn’t have to…”


“You owe him your life,” said another familiar voice, gentle and masculine. Link looked up and managed to make out the tall, imposing form of Renado stepping through the doorframe. “Colin’s the one who found you out by the spring. The sun had barely risen… if he hadn’t come banging on my door to wake me up…”


“Don’t scare the boy, Renado!” Telma scolded. She turned to Link. “You’re with us now, and that’s all that really matters. How are you feelin’? Any pain?”


“Pain…yeah…” Link choked out dryly.


Telma poured some of the contents of a small bottle into a spoon and held it to Link’s lips. Link recognized the blue liquid immediately and sipped it. He felt the throbbing in his stomach and chest cease. Dull pain remained, but at least it wasn’t quite as bad now.


“I’m surprise at how well that stuff seems to be working on you,” Renado said. Your wounds are knitting together at a phenomenal rate… not instant, mind you, but… you are healing more swiftly than any other patient I’ve ever had.”


“How long?” Link asked, biting out the words through his dry throat as he methodically and absentmindedly stroked Colin’s sleeping head. He’s like a cat, Link thought, perhaps a little giddy from pain and medicine.


“You’ve been out long enough for Telma to show up, and long enough for us to repair your chain mail,” Renado answered, “and there was enough time for me to clean your sword. It was gunked up with… unspeakable things. Honestly, Link, whatever happens, you must never forget to wipe your sword.”


Link laughed just a little bit, and then he coughed painfully. Was that a line that Rusl had given him once, or was it from a story he’d once read? Something came to his memory… a story about a hero being instructed in how to clean his blade after… killing a wolf. Link didn’t want to think about that story right now.


“You’ve been out for almost five whole days,” Telma said, “but don’t feel bad about it, hon. You needed the rest.”


“Ilia?” Link asked.


“Oh, the poor dear still doesn’t remember much, I’m afraid,” Telma replied, “and she still doesn’t remember you beyond that day when you escorted our wagon. She’s out brushing down and talking to your horse. I don’t know where you left that poor thing, but Renado says that mare came tearing in through town right after he got you patched up. Ilia was the only one who was able to calm her down.”


Colin stirred beneath Link’s hand. He removed it and let the boy up. Colin blinked a few times, and yawned. “Link?” he asked, seeing his friend looking back at him. He rubbed his eyes. “Link? You’re awake?”


Link simply smiled.


“Link! You’re… I was so worried! You’re going to be alright after all!” The boy turned to Renado and Telma. “Is he?”


Telma smiled broadly. She had such a rich smile, Link noted. “We think so. You’ve done such a good job of helping. He doesn’t have a drop of poison left in him and his wounds will finish healing soon.”


Link stared at Colin for a few moments. He recalled something from a dream, a fevered memory perhaps… He could not shake the image of little Colin, his eyes shaded by his hat, lugging about his sword. “Colin the Brave…” he said weakly.


Colin took Link’s wrist in his hand. “Oh, no, Link. I’m not like you! Renado said this mark on your means the Goddess of Courage likes you. I can never be like you.”


“But you’re brave,” Link rasped. “Remember? You saved Beth.”


“But you had to come save me.”


“You found me,” Link insisted, though his voice was barely above a whisper. Link managed to pull up his blanket and get a good look at the many bandages covering his body. “I … I must have looked really scary. You weren’t afraid to wake people and get help.”


“But I was scared!” Colin protested. “I was so scared. I thought you were going to die!”


Link smiled at him. “But you helped me. You stayed with me. The people here helped me.” Link lifted his hand and cupped Colin’s tearful cheek, “Colin… I want you to know something very important. I don’t want you to forget it. You’re my hero.”


Colin smiled. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Maybe Link was just fuzzy from being hurt and from the medicine like he got when he was sick? He was only beginning to realize that he had actually saved his friend’s life – no, the life of the Chosen Hero. And maybe, courage, after all, was just about doing the right thing at the right time and doing what one can when one can.


“Well, I’m going to stay here ‘till you’re better, Link! Do you need anything?”


“Water,” Link answered, “and, I want to know how everybody in town is doing.”


Renado left to check up on Ilia while Telma left to fetch Link a bottle of clean spring water. Colin turned to his bedridden friend. “If I’m a hero, I don’t… feel any different,” he said slowly.


“You don’t,” Link answered sagely, a smile firmly in place upon his face, despite the aches and the throbs and the fire running through him.


“Even your shadow was worried about you,” Colin stated.


Link startled. He almost sat up but agony and his weary head drove him back down. “Shadow?” he inquired.


“The day we found you… the first night you were here at the inn… I might have been dreaming it, and the lamps cast weird shadows. Your shadow got up and looked you over, and it had one glowing eye. It was scary looking, but I knew it didn’t want to hurt you.”


“Mid- “Link began, then he caught himself, “-night.”


“Yeah! It was right around midnight!” Colin exclaimed. “Did you have that dream, too?”


“Yeah,” Link answered, “I… I guess I did.”





Link rode away from the village slowly. From the time he’d awakened, it had taken only a week and a half for him to heal well enough for movement and travel to be safe for him. He had to find a familiar place in order to collect the first of the three missing Shards of the Twilight Mirror. The longer he lingered, the longer his dear friends and the entirety of Hyrule were in danger. His ribs had mended, but he was still sore in the middle and in the shoulder of his sword arm. He was well enough to travel, and more importantly, he decided that he was well enough to fight. He was not sure why he had decided to travel by night, to leave while the sun was setting. The sorrow of twilight settled over him, but it was beautiful. Perhaps he was onto a gimmick, the quintessential tale of the hero leaving a town by riding off into the sunset. Maybe he just appreciated the cool of the night air. In any case, riding by twilight made Midna easier to talk to. She was always more sociable at this time of day.


As soon as Kakariko was out of sight and they were over Hyrule Field, enjoying a rare moment of peace on these plains, she came out of his shadow and floated beside him. “They wouldn’t have helped you if I’d left you as a wolf,” she said.


“Well, they wouldn’t have recognized me then,” Link answered. “Thank you. You got me there at just the right time.”


“Don’t thank me,” Midna replied. “I need you, and we both know it. I can’t have you dying on me before what only you can do is done. You are completely reckless.”


“Colin saw you. The little blond boy. If you want to stay hidden, you need to be more careful.”


“I was assessing your damage,” Midna answered. “The big guy had left and I thought the boy was asleep, from the way he was bowed over your bed.”


“He thought he was only dreaming. He was right, though… you were worried about me.”


“Of course I was!” Midna said, matter-of-factly, “What did I just say? I need you. If you die, my kingdom is done for. You need to be more careful. Courage doesn’t always come to the powerful, and it is not always one with wisdom.”


Link smiled. He found it interesting that Midna had used “courage,” “power,” and “wisdom” in the same sentence like that.


“Let’s just hope you find people like that when you get into your next scrape,” Midna sighed, “Luck and persistence won’t work forever.”


“Maybe so,” Link said, “but I do have my friends, and every one of them are my heroes. With their help, I can do anything.”






Shadsie, 2008




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