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Ridiculous Optimization: The Art of Finding the Right Tool for the Wrong Situation

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Chapter one: They're big pots, really

 

Wild's Hyrule was, for lack of a better word, a pain.

 

Now, if you were Warriors, who regularly tangled with nobles and their ilks as part of his duties, you might describe it as 'a temporary yet persistent sort of agony, so scandalous, good sirs and ladies'. Or, if you were Sky, who serenaded his Zelda with loving devotion, the description might resemble 'a land broken but resisting, a primal kingdom for the ambitious to remake'.

 

But the average Link was neither, and the general sentiment came out as 'Wild's Hyrule is a giant pain'. (One should recall that both Legend and Wind existed in the general sample and drastically lowered the ability to describe Wild's Hyrule in polite company.)

 

The weather conditions were, all in all, quite tolerable outside of the occasional lightning storms which threatened to violently roast them all (Time especially). Wild's one recurring grip being the rain making it impossible to climb cliff sides and barely-standing-towers – which, in all honesty, had become Twilight's favorite weather for this exact same reason.

 

The few tribes of monsters could provoke violent swearing, in good part after the Links had assimilated the color system that ruled Wild's Hyrule. (Four could never look at golden monsters the same way now.) No, no, a Link knew to adapt to their circumstances and would learn all the right tricks to fighting any sort of monster that showed up in his path.

 

In fact, Time had gone on record to say that he'd gone on an adventure in a much more stressful kingdom, because at least the moon was only red and not looming.

 

The real challenge was so many of his enemies being outright mini-bosses at least. Wind's Hero's Charm had confirmed their health being far superior to the average roaming monster, and, to the general disbelief, added that no, Lynels did not count as minibosses for some goddesses-forsaken reason.

 

“That's three!” Warriors called out, slashing away at one twisting limbs. “One to go!”

 

“Get down!” Hyrule shouted just in time for Warriors to duck under a blue-ish laser.

 

The two heroes felt air woosh over their backs, cold and sharp despite the explosion that ravaged a rock formation down the hill. Despite the sheer damage done, none of them gave the ruins even a passing glance. Normally, some Link like Four would wonder out loud about the marvels of technology that had led to the creations of robots as powerful as the Guardians. That would, unjustly, earn him a slap upside the head from the others who just wanted them all exterminated.

 

But, if anything, their mechanical structure should be glorified, as unlike almost every other enemies the Links met in their travels, the Guardians could not be further enhanced by black blood.

 

No, the Guardians were a special pain in the Links' anatomies all on their own.

 

Legend had already written down the tirade he reserved for the Sheika elders that had thought beamos weren't mobile and powerful enough in his journal. One day, he would travel to the past of Wild's Hyrule and give them all the dressing down they deserved and it would be beautiful.

 

Three grappling hooks latched onto the last Guardian's limbs just in time to stop it from running over the downed Warriors and Hyrule. Now, against, say, a Lynel or an Hinox, pulling such a maneuver might have given the monster pause, but the Guardian's head merely rotated and aimed its tracking light at Time.

 

He alongside Twilight and Sky dispersed to avoid the lightning quick retaliation and even then, Sky felt the flames lick at his heels.

 

Rolling away, he ended up in a huddle close with Legend and Four, behind a large, mossy rock. "You know," Sky said, nervously chatting instead of saving his breath, "they kind of remind me of pots."

 

Legend's eyes twitched. “Ah, yes, they're tougher than most of my bosses, faster too, shoot laser beams, but they are a little round-ish. I see the resemblance.”

 

"Oh!" Four exclaimed, thunderstruck. "I've got it! Cover me," he shouted to the others.

 

Without even a moment's consultation, Wind and Wild both rushed out of their hiding spots and pelted the Guardian with bombs, their supplies of arrows depleted during the ambush. It only made the Guardian's base tilt slightly, though, a few seconds were all Four really needed. His hands found the handle of the cane with the ease of many adventures' worth of practice.

 

Not a second too soon either, for one of the Guardian's limbs had snaked through the barrage and swept Wind aside. And now threatened to grab the little rolling pirate.

 

Four swung the twisted branch. A staff, Wild realized as a glittering ball of energy flew off its head and struck the guardian head on. For a split second, he allowed himself to hope that it would have a bit of an effect on the thing. He'd seen (schemed for, though he never admitted it to Twilight) a Guardian struck by lightning before, and it had shrugged it off as easily as a breeze. Those things just wouldn't-

 

The Guardian flipped over.

 

Wind's shocked cursing translated the general gobsmacked bafflement of the eight heroes over five feet tall.

 

The Guardian landed on its head, its top carvings digging into the soil. The legs frantically expanded to try and right it, but could find no purchase. Their articulations had not been created to allow the legs to reach the head area. Combining those facts effectively condemned the feared contraction to reenact a flipped turtle's dying moments, with half the dignity.

 

Wild staggered backward into Time's waiting arms. “Wh-what, I don't… how?”

 

“Magic,” Time replied with the air of a wise old man, “you never know what kind of stuff it can do. Also,” he cleared his throat and spoke louder, “watch out for the laser beam, boys."

 

Hyrule and Wind flinched back from the upside down Guardian, like kids with their hands down the cookie jar. The eye turned from blue to red.

 

"It only shoots in a straight line," Wild said, recovering from his shock.

 

The dreaded red dot stuttered in place, stuck in a very narrow margin.

 

“Yeah, but can't it turn its head?” Hyrule asked hesitantly, not looking away from the dot.

 

They distinctively heard the noise of some gears inside the thing turning, like a low-humming buzz of energy. Where the head met the body, the whirring flashed in rapid succession.

 

The head remained unmoving.

 

The other half of the guardian span.

 

“It's going to start flying now,” Wind said with clear apprehension.

 

Twilight nodded to that. The motion was eerily similar to a mad peahat preparing to soar the skies.

 

Legend shot them both an annoyed look. “With those legs?”

 

“It's a Guardian!” Wind protested. “They don't just fucking flip over and die?”

 

As if to punctuate the point, the Guardian's beam shot out of its frantically beeping eye. And, as if to immediately contradict itself, the beam missed them all by a mile, roughly, though it did strike on a stray lizalfos.

 

“Huh, didn't notice that one,” Warriors mumbled, as Legend burst out laughing at the madness of it all. “What kind of item is that anyway?”

 

Four gave the twig a twirl. "The Cane of Pacci. It flips things over."

 

Legend scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "What kind of wizards gives their name to a staff that's good for flipping things over? I know magic-users can be lazy bastards, but that's a bit much, even for me."

 

Four shrugged, unfazed. "Who knows? It came in handy surprisingly often. Case in point," he waved an arm toward the flipped guardian.

 

A shrieking noise caught them off-guard, momentarily.

 

Wind had lodged a giant broadsword in the guardian's eye up to its hilt. The whirring machinery slowed, smoke leaking out of its gears and plates. If it hadn't been made completely helpless before, it certainly was now. Warrior looked inordinately fond of their young and bloodthirsty pirate for finishing off a helpless killing machine.

 

 

 

“Four,” Wild said, his face frozen in the most serious expression any of them (except Twilight) had ever seen.

 

“W-what?” Four replied, startled by the hands grabbing his shoulders.

 

“Name your price. Do you want rupees?” Wild asked, pulling out his slate. “Because I will bury you under more rupees than you've ever seen before.”

 

“Anyone else feels like that came out vaguely threatening?” Hyrule pondered.

 

“Vaguely?” Legend snarked, prompting Twilight to facepalm.

 

Wild apparently heard nothing but the silence Four was shoving his way. His voice hiked up in pitch. “Armor? I've got more sets of armors than I know what to do with them? Ancient Sheika armor? It's super mechanical, you like mechanisms, right?”

 

Four raised an eyebrow. “I like understanding how they work. Can you imagine me wearing your stuff? I would have trouble moving.”

 

“My recipe book?” Wild tried again, desperation creeping in his voice. “It's not written yet, but I can do that. Four, please?”

 

Twilight gasped. Hyrule's stomach loudly growled. And the rest nodded sagely. Wild truly was pulling out all the stops to get his hands on that cane, besides outright theft (which none of them were exactly strangers to).

 

“… No.”

 

The fingers let go of his shoulders, now aching from the grip.

 

“I thought we were brothers,” Wild whispered, leaning against Twilight for support. “Backstabbed like nothing.”

 

“I do actually need that item, you know?” Four replied, halfway between amused and annoyed.

 

"Alright, boys, no fighting," Time announced, his mouth struggling not to stretch into a smirk, "and new strategy. If we run into a guardian, we let Four handle it. All in favor?"

 

The surge of agreement ranged from 'mildly sorry' (Sky) to 'gleeful' (Legend, of course, and Wild).

 

"Oh come on!"

 

 

 

BONUS:

 

The eight Links stared at the Guardian stumbling over the fields of Wild's Hyrule whilst Twilight mimed around like a drunk puppeteer. Wind's pictograph was out and flashing the moment the herd of bokoblins shrieked in panic and fled for their lives from the clearly malfunctioning monstrosity. Wild's Sheika Slate had been given to Hyrule for the task of recording the moments whilst he mourned yet another way the Goddesses had seen fit not to help him fight off Guardians.

 

“Anyone else feels a little sorry for them?” Sky asked, scratching his head as the camp was bulldozed through.

 

“Not as such, no,” Hyrule replied without skipping a beat. He might also have a few bruises on his shoulder from their last encounter.

 

“How do you laser with this thing?” Twilight grumbled, face scrunched up in concentration.

 

“Pfft, it had to be the bumpkins that gets the power to control ancient automatons,” Legend snarked, his hat still fuming from where he had dodged the Guardian's first beam.

 

In the distance, the bokoblins suddenly exploded.

 

“Ah, unbridled rage,” Twilight deadpanned. “That'll do.”

 

The Links carefully took a step back. And didn't get closer until Twilight had driven the Guardian off a cliff. You never knew with the quiet ones. The second the possession was over, however, Wild broke through the ranks with a determined look, opened his mouth-

 

And Twilight beat him to the punch. “Your recipe book.”

 

“Deal.”

 

“YES!”

 

“Wait,” Four called, narrowly avoiding the death glare Wild sent him, “are you sure you won't need it when this is over?”

 

Twilight shrugged. “I mean, I've used it all of once after I finished the dungeon with it? My Hyrule's not exactly big on statues and contraptions to magically possess. Good food though? Not like I'll ever stop having to need that.”

 

“Spoken like a true bumpkin.”

 

Poor Legend never saw Wild leap through the air with the righteous fury of an avenging angel to defend the honor of his mentor, the best man he ever met and the soon-to-be recipient of a great deal of cakes.

Chapter Text

Time had long since discovered that his exasperation in dealing with the assembly of goblins that were the legendary heroes of Courage was proportionate to the amount of supervision on any given evening. For example, Wild could and would test any idea he had unless strong armed away by Twilight. Chastising him (or snarking at his ideas if you were Legend or Warriors) meant that you were ignored as surely the result would be so spectacular as to shut up all the unbelievers!

 

So far, only the incident where he shield surfed down a mountain to perform acrobatics and snipe fifteen black blooded wolfos had managed to shut up anyone. Even Twilight who knew just what Wild could do once properly motivated had whistled low and patted his protege on the back, praising his skills.

 

Incidentally, Wild was not currently the source of Time's annoyance, despite ( because of ) Twilight's inability to reign him in. His quiet pup had woken up miserable, red-eyed and sniffling. Yesterday, Sky had exhibited similar symptoms Thus, their group had extended their stay to allow two of their own to recover. Normally, that would have cause some antsiness in a few of the boys, but Wild had been glued to Twilight's side since the start, and Wind had taken his role as Hyrule's aid very seriously.

 

Time's lips twitched upward. No, no , he shouldn't be comforted by their good natures at the moment. The two hadn't returned from 'a quick supply run' and the sun was setting.

 

“Still not back?” Legend asked, fretting (or as close to that as their spike could display).

 

Four shook his head, scrutinizing the hills around them.

 

Great. They could ill afford to stay out at night on their own. Stallfos might emerge from the open plains and surround them. Normally, in a situation like this, he'd exchange a look with his pup and the situation would resolve itself at a beastly pace. Not an option, at the moment.

 

Wild yelped as his slate flashed to life, bringing out the voice of their missing Link. “Guys? Guys, can you hear me?”

 

At once, they converged on Wild, who fumbled with the slate. Bringing it to eye level, he showed them the image of Wind's and Hyrule's faces smushed together over the glass. Their hair had collected an impressive collection of branches and leaves, to the point where Legend pithily wondered if they were learning how to camouflage.

 

“Hardy har har,” Wind replied.

 

Wild ignored them both. “What happened to you guys? And where are you? It's almost night.”

 

“Well, I was gathering the herbs when I noticed a rare mushroom a bit down the hill, and a couple of helpful flowers, and one thing led to another-”

 

“We got jumped by river zoras.” Wind grunted. The bruises on his arms weren't bleeding, at least. “Had to make a run for it through the forest.”

 

Hyrule chuckled nervously. “Did you guys know that it's very easy to get lost in the woods?”

 

“Yes,” Time and Wild deadpanned in unison.

 

“Well, we're lost.”

 

“Sounds like a job for our furry friend,” Legend deadpanned, though there was a hint of worry in his eyes. They hadn't seen Wolfie in this world yet, for obvious reasons.

 

“We can't count on him jumping out of nowhere to find our comrades before night falls.”

 

“Why not?” Warriors asked, swapping the rag on Sky's face with a cold one. “Wolfie usually shows up when it's convenient for us. I am certain the beast follows us from a distance. It's probably tracking Hyrule as we speak.”

 

Time prayed to Farore for strength, least he threw his arms in the air and gave up, metaphorically speaking. He just wished his pup worked up the nerves to reveal this one secret. He'd started to suspect that Twilight enjoyed some of the perks of this secrecy a bit too much. None of the others acted as guarded around Wolfie as they did Twilight. They'd accepted the presence of a wild wolf rather easily.

 

The pup's face when he'd mentioned that had made Time's heart ache.

 

Time sighed and shook his head. The choice wasn't his.

 

“You would rather take the chance and leave two of our own alone before night?”

 

Warriors colored. His gaze sharpened. “Does anyone have a way to locate them quickly?”

 

Legend shook his head, mumbling something under his breath about having been alone most of the time. Fair in itself, few of them had had adventures in groups. Time's own experience was companion that stuck close to you until the end.

 

But past that…

 

Time ruthlessly squashed the bout of nostalgia threatening to return and focused on the present. “Perhaps.”

 

He gestured for Wild to lend him the slate, and Wild dared not disobey. Even through the screen, the two lost boys cringed at his intense look.

 

“Hyrule, do you have enough magic for that shapeshifting spell of yours?”

 

The guilty expression faded in favor of confusion and reluctance. “I… I'd be able to turn into a fairy, yeah, but I can't fly very high if that's what you're thinking. And Wind is stuck on the ground...”

 

Time shook his head. “That's not why I asked. If you turn into a fairy and stay with Wind, I can find you.”

 

“Oddly specific,” Legend commented, scanning Time for this ability to find fairies.

 

“Well, he does lead us to fountains more often than not,” Four replied.

 

Time passed the slate back to Wild, his hand lingering a second longer on the cub's shoulder. This one's worry was not hidden behind barbs. The scars on his side echoed the ones inside, and without Twilight's reassurance… well, he'd be fine, but not as fine as he could be.

 

Time bent over his bags and rummaged through for one of the more 'exotic' items he'd found on his quests. Prickling on the back of his neck told him the rests had started staring. Well, Time thought as a mischievous idea got hold of him, at least, they'll have reason to stare.

 

With his back to them, he hunched over to hide the great silky locks, struggling for a moment with proper adjusting. Then, he whirled around. 

 

A horrified, blood curdling scream exploded out of Warriors' mouth.

 

The group startled and drew their swords, including Twilight and Sky, who barely could prop themselves up by their elbows. The tense moment lasted only long enough for them to gather up their wits and realize that no, this was still Time despite the horrifying sight. 

 

Warriors was on the ground, his face pale and his hand over his chest as if he'd narrowly avoided a heart attack. “W-w-warn us before you put on monstrosities like that!

 

The Great Fairy Mask covered his entire head when Time had been a child, but as an adult, he knew the other heroes could make out his smirk. “But your reactions are half the fun, captain."

 

Warriors' energetic cursing flew right over Time's head and the mask's long, flowing pink locks. Pink lights like fireflies started floating by his head, and a tug in his head made him turn Four's way.

 

“Got a fairy on you?” he asked, voice slightly distorted, almost a woman's suave, lascivious.

 

More shaken than he'd like to admit, Four nodded quickly.

 

“Good. Keep it on you. I shouldn't be too long.”

 

Time adjusted the mask over his head, annoyed by the tightness of the fit, and took off, marching on over the hill like a pink nightmare incarnated. It was thus no surprise that only Legend dared go with him.

 

***

Hyrule, long since changed back to hylian form, returned to the camp feeling six inches tall. He'd gotten distracted again. Old habits die hard and he had been free through his travels, no maps, never having anyone to wait back for him, and he'd led Wind into an ambush! Not to mention how he made everyone else worry.

 

“Hyrule, it is good to see you back and unharmed,” Warriors told him with sincere warmth.

 

Which was why it felt strange for his instincts to scream at him to put some distance between them. “But?”

 

“But if you ever provoke the old man into putting that mask back on, I will join him on the search. And when we find you, I will skewer you, and then myself on the Master Sword.”






Bonus:

“So, what if it had been Wild instead of Hyrule that had gotten lost?” Legend asked, passing the food around the campfire.

 

Time swallowed carefully, considering. “Assuming Wolfie wouldn't be around?” Legend nodded, neither him nor anyone else noticing Twilight's fleeting guilt. “I own something else that might have helped.”

 

Warriors choked. “Beh- wah- excuse me, old man?! You subjected us to that when you had another solution?”

 

Time's enigmatic air thickened. “The alternative was far worse.” With a theatrical flourish, their stubborn old man of a leader pulled out a pig's face and held it up. “This thing allows the user to picks up a scent trail like they were a hungry pig.”

 

“Why the hell would you not use that one instead?!” Warriors screamed.

 

Time savored the bite he had in his mouth, because he doubted his next meal would be as pleasant. However, he simply couldn't help it.

 

“Because then,” he started, letting his tone verge into a whine, “then my poor nose would be even more assaulted than it is now.”

 

“HEY!”

 

Four jumped in the air when Twilight snorted his milk through his nose.

 

In the end, Time was right. The next meal was a goron spice special that no one managed to finish, besides Wild and Hyrule.

 

Chapter Text

Wind's grin threatened to lock his jaw muscles into place and he didn't give a shit about it. Their latest portal jumped had dumped them in three feet of salty water and the song of the waves was calling his heart.

 

Outset Island. Home.

 

Wind half-swam, half-ran up the sands of the beach and beckoned the rest of his friends to come over, with a loud 'Come on!'

 

He couldn't wait to show them his home. Gran would love them and force them to take better care of themselves with her patented 'old lady's guilt tripping'. He couldn't wait to see her use it on the old man. Oh, oh, he could make Twilight wrestle with Mrs. Rose's giant pig. And show the woods on top to Hyrule. At least on this island, they weren't likely to lose him. And Wild would probably love to try the jump of courage on the other side-

 

“Big brother!”

 

Wind's heart leaped in his chest, joy warming him at the sight of his little sister running down the dock to greet them.

 

“Aryll!” he called out, rushing to hug his sister. How long had it been? Weeks now! At least!

 

“And who's this one?” Wind asked, kneeling to better coo at the seagull in her arms. His sister had tucked a hibiscus in her plumage, on top of her head.

 

“Her name's Marin.”

 

Behind them, a cacophony of metal and wood rang out loudly, followed by squawks and yelps. Wind whirled around, ready to draw his sword, only to see that his friends were helping up Wild, who looked like he'd just been pushed, and

 

Surrounded by the flippers he'd been taking off, Legend rested on his knees, paler than a ghost.

 

***

Wind… was worried. It wasn't like Legend at all.

 

Obviously, Warriors had teased him at first, mocking their experienced know-it-all for his two left feet. Right up until the point it became very obvious that this hadn't been a mere accident. Warriors had been equally quick to apologize and back off, but Legend hadn't really spoken to anyone since. Very gently, he'd gone up to Aryll (Wind hadn't placed himself between them, but the desire to had been there) and he'd asked if perhaps he could borrow her friend.

 

Under their astonished eyes, Legend had then walked up the dock with the seagull in hand and sat next to the tower, facing the sea. He hadn't moved from that spot since. Just one hero and a bird, one silent, the other singing.

 

“It's okay, Link,” Aryll had told him, “Marin likes him. She only sings when she's happy.”

 

They'd collectively decided that Legend needed time on his own. Fair enough. But he couldn't help think there was something more to do. However stupid it was, Wind felt a little responsible. This was his home, his timeline-slash-dimension-thingy. Maybe he could have warned him if he hadn't been so excited to show off the island.

 

He'd gotten to give the tour to the others, at least. Left Warriors at the dojo, Four on the beach looking for seashells, Twilight and Wild at Mrs. Rose's little enclosure ('Whoo! Go, Twilight! Show it who's boss!' 'THAT PIG IS WORSE THAN GANON!'). Sky had found a tree to nap in the shadow. Time had opted to stay on the porch of Wind's home, drinking tea and eating scones with his gran. (He was never living it down, the Links agreed.)

 

It was nearly as great as he'd imagined.

 

Except…

 

“Still there?” Hyrule asked, following Wind's gaze back to the docks.

 

“Yup,” Wind grunted. Surely there was something he could try and help Legend out of his funk.

 

“Do you think he understands her singing? I don't know a spell for it, but it's Legend. Maybe he has a ring for hearing animals' thoughts?”

 

Possible. But he didn't really react much to Wolfie differently, so… probably not. There was something about that seagull that mattered to him.

 

He kicked the sand, grumbling. Come on, Link! Think. His mask wouldn't do much except tell Legend how much vitality Marin had (and that felt really counterproductive here). Hyrule didn't have a spell. Twilight only really got the body language. Aryll… eh, his little sister had to be pretending to get their words. No way in hell could she really talk to animals.

 

Not like he interacted with animals all that much himself. At most, he just found Beedle and…

 

“Oh, I've got it!”

 

***

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Hey, Legend, look what I got you!”

 

“A… pear with a screaming face?” It spoke of Legend's unease that the words lacked any acidity, but were merely confused, as if he'd been daydreaming for hours. Scrap that 'if', actually.

 

“A Hyoi Pear. They're super rare.”

 

“… I'm not hungry.”

 

Wind snorted. “Thank fuck, because that'd be really awkward. They're not for eating. Well, not hylian eating at any rate.”

 

Legend's eyebrow ticked, and his expression nearly resembled its usual self. “Well, thanks for the horrible babble, I'll put it on the chimney back in my world. It should serve as a deterrent to visitors. Or maybe I'll feed it to Ravio.”

 

Give Wind another fifteen minutes of talking and they'd get their snarky badass back. But it was unlikely the conversation would last this long.

 

“Oh stop yapping for a minute, you greenlander. I wasn't done talking. The Hyoi Pear allows you to take control of the animal that eats it.”

 

The seagull's song cut off with a startled screech. Wind had to cover his ears. Ouch.

 

Legend glared at the fruit, holding a protective hand over Marin. “I'm not-”

 

“Don't feed it to Marin. Obviously. There's like a metric ton of those winged rats around the place. So, you just need to wear the pear on your head-”

 

“Okay, now I know you're bullshitting me.”

 

“I'm serious!” Wind shot back, his face scrunched up in annoyance. “If you put that fruit on your head, it will absorb your thoughts and when a bird eats it, your mind will go inside the bird so you can control it!”

 

“That's… unexpectedly dangerous, if you ask me.”

 

“Well, it usually works until something jars you out of it.” Wind shrugged. He'd never had a problem with it, except maybe the guilt of having driven a bird face first into a cliff. “Or the bird shits it out.”

 

Legend sneered. “Charming.”

 

“It is what it is. But it's probably better than just whispering all day, if you ask me. So, you want it or not?”

 

For a moment, Wind almost feared Legend wouldn't. That he'd stay there, glaring at Wind's hand, glaring at the fruit that dared promised such a thing. And then Legend snatched it out of his hand, and near tossed his signature hat aside.

 

Yup. Wearing a Hyoi Pear really made you look like an idiot. But for once, Wind had zero desire to laugh, at all.

 

One of Marin's brethren dove straight for Legend's head. In the corner of his eyes, Wind saw Hyrule flinched, itching to protect his fellow hero, but more than that, he saw the tenseness in Legend's body. The hope he held at bay, the fear that this was somehow a prank. That he'd done something he thought of as ridiculous on the blind hope that maybe, maybe this would let him speak to Marin…

 

Wind whooped when he saw the seagull had taken the bait, and Marin took off after him. She rapidly twirled around the flailing Legend-in-a-bird, chirping softer than a winged rat had any right to do. Soon, she was leading him by the tip of his feathers, playful, gentle. Two old friends in the under the clouds, riding the sea breeze.

 

“Is he…” Hyrule began, hesitant. “… is he crying?”

 

Oh, Hylia-damnit! He was so sure that would have helped! Well, nothing to it now. He'd tried.

 

As he was moving to slap Legend upside the head though, a gentle hand grasp his arm and pulled him back.

 

“Leave him,” Hyrule said. “You told him how it works. Let him make his decision. Some things… well, you gotta face yourself.”

 

Wind rubbed the back of his head, a little puzzled. He could get the feeling, but why seagulls? Honestly, they were, at worse, little pests. Not exactly inner demons, right?

 

But well, Legend appeared alive again for the first time since they'd made it to his home, and that counted for more than a hell lot.

 

And above, two seagulls danced on the wind, singing.

 

BONUS:

 

Beedle liked heroes. Heroes helped his business stay afloat, as no one else was quite the brand of rich and desperate as an adventurer on a time limit. So they usually didn't mind his gouged out prices so much. Oh, sure, he was the recipient of the stink eye from a little boy in green tunic every so often, but you couldn't be loved by everyone.

 

The sail cloth that served as his door flapped dramatically, like someone had attempted to kick it down.

 

Contrarily to his expectations, the person that entered wasn't some burly seven feet tall pirate, but a young man with a kind face and a superbly woven sail wrapped around his shoulders like a cloak.

 

“Welcome, welcome to Beedle's wandering shop! For your daily travelers' needs.”

 

The customer smiled pleasantly. “Why, hello. I hear you're the only place in all the great seas where a man can find Hyoi Pears.”

 

“Ah, you are well-informed.” Beedle rubbed his hands together. Another soul with a desperate need, ready to pay through the nose. “Indeed. Hyoi Pears are very rare and even I only have a limited stock.”

 

Limited until he found more buyers, of course.

 

“How many do you have?”

 

“Oh, for you, sir, I believe I can go up to fifteen.”

 

“Perfect. Here's all my money.” The adventurer tossed a silver rupee on his counter and leaned forward, a dangerous glean in his eyes. “I want your entire stock.”

 

“What?!” Beedle jumped in indignation. “Fifteen pears go for one hundred and fifty! Are you trying to bankrupt me?!”

 

He faced down pirates with bad breathes and more scars than face! Hylia, he sometimes made deals with bokoblins from the great sea! Who did this upstart adventurer think he was dealing with?

 

A fist slammed against the counter and rattled the very structure of his boat. The man was almost halfway over the counter, his eyes burning. For a second, Beedle feared he understood what demon gods and monsters felt like when staring down the blade of a hero's sword. It was… a certainty… a promise that if you moved the wrong way, you'd find your vital organs in four different locations by the next time you blinked.

 

“Your. Entire. Stock.”

 

Beedle squeaked. What in the world was up with this madman that they wanted to control birds so badly?!

 

“IT'S FOR LOVE!”

 

DOUBLE BONUS:



“So, Wind, we're very proud of you,” Time said, his face the very picture of neutrality, “Hyrule explained everything. You have shown compassion, kindness and creativity in helping your fellow hero. We couldn't agree more with the principle.”

 

Wind crossed his arms. “Don't butter me up, old man. Where's the 'but'?”

 

As one, Time, Hyrule and Four gestured to the beach.

 

“Last warning, Legend!” Warriors screamed, bolting across the sand whilst a seagull divebombed after him. “If you don't knock it off, I'll start shooting you down with my firerod!”

 

“Nooooooo!” Aryll screamed from atop the observation tower. “Don't hurt them!”

 

Wind didn't need to borrow his sister's telescope to see the grimace twisting Warriors' face. Nor any sense enhancement to hear the barely restrained shriek of rage from their captain. Well, at least he was practicing his stamina.

 

He'd say Sky could use the exercise, but their cloud-headed harpist was sitting on a rooftop and cooing over a few birds of his own.

 

“What?” Wind said, digging his heel in the wood of the porch.

 

“Did you perhaps consider what might happen if you gave Legend the power to control a bird?”

 

Well, no, but fuck if he was gonna admit that to the others. Besides, it was only a bunch of seagulls. What would they do if the Helmaroc King's chicks showed up? Piss their breeches? No, Wind knew it hadn't been a mistake at all.

 

Legend, who had until this point been sitting in a meditative pose, dusted off his tunic and stood up.

 

“Wait,” Hyrule started.

 

They turned to look at the beach, where, yes, Warriors was still being chased by the seagull, then to Legend, getting back into Wind's house, humming.

 

Twilight jumped out from behind the corner, eying the sky warily. “It's as we fear, pops,” Twilight said, solemn. “He struck a deal with them.”

 

The seagulls cackled.

 

Okay, so maybe he was gonna hide the Hyoi Pears from Legend till they swapped worlds again.

 

Chapter Text

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Link in need of an item must first ask Legend about it. No one could really agree on the rest of the saying, beyond concerns about hoarding and getting a thick skin to survive the possible onslaught.

 

Strictly speaking, Wild did not need this item. His arsenal fulfilled all his exploration-itch, with the occasional pyromaniac impulse and even the companionship, though the slate's wolf-summoning function had been on the fritz roughly the same day he had met Twilight on two legs. He was however very much the type to be attracted to the shiny, and Legend had a lot of those.

 

Slowly, Wild reached for the golden bracelet he saw litering the ground at Legend's hip. It reminded him of Gerudo craftwomanship, the way they imbedded magical gems in the jewelry they sold. The ruby in this one glinted just a little more than it should when the sunlight hit its center. Magic, he knew.

 

“Soooo,” Wild began, rubbing a finger over the gem, “what's this for?”

 

"Power bracelet," Legend explained dismissively, "you can take it. I've got half a dozen lying around. For some reason, there's one or two of those in every region I've gone through. Pretty basic as far as items go."

 

Four, who had been polishing some of his arsenal, looked up and nodded.

 

"I have some of these too. They're good for clearing heavy obstacles. Didn't you have anything similar?"

 

Wild looked to the side, wondering if the way he used his Sheikah Slate counted. The little voice in his head that sounded like Twilight (and thus was often boring and ignored) sadly replied that no, it didn't count.

 

"Well, mostly, I just climb over them. Or use Stasis and some bombs."

 

Legend massaged his forehead, mumbling something about how that explained a lot. It certainly didn't for Wild, but who was counting?

 

“Take it if you want. I'm good. Already wearing a pair anyway.”

 

“Really? Sweet! Thanks, Legend!” And with that, he ran back to the rest of the camp, his new treasure firmly in hand.

 

Wild, however, did not put on the bracelet.

 

***

 

"For me, Cub?" Twilight asked, nonplussed by the sudden present. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate the attention, but he was certain he hadn't forgotten an occasion and they had spent the last three days journeying through the wilderness.

 

Also, he was pretty sure that bracelet had been in Legend's bags an hour ago. Was this a prank? Was he the prank or the prankster?

 

Wild grinned. “Yeah, Legend lent it to me.” - Well, that eliminated the worst case scenario. - “But really, I thought you should have it.”

 

With a pensive frown, Twilight picked up the bracelet and examined it under the light. “Why a strength bracelet? I don't really need one.”

 

“Precisely!” Wild piped up, the spark of his inner gremlin coming alive.

 

His outburst caught the attention of a few other Links, who stopped their various activities in favor of listening to what might be the prelude to a disaster. It paid to be attentive when Wild got creative.

 

“What?” Twilight contemplated putting a hand on Wild's forehead, just in case his protege was running a fever.

 

“You're already freakishly strong. Like, remember that landslide you helped clear out?”

 

Twilight grimaced. “I better. I felt it in my back for the rest of the day. Where are you getting a-” he trailed off, the pleading look on Wild's face hurting his soul. “No. I know where this is going. You can't rope me into stupid ideas if I don't give you rope.” Wild hung his head, missing only the cold rain to express his deep depression. “Tell him, old man!”

 

Sky, who had been strumming his harp by the base of a tree, shot an uneasy look to their unofficial leader.

 

Unfortunately, Time lifted his lips from his ocarina, a glint in his one good eye. "Can't say I'm not curious, pup."

 

Twilight gaped like he'd been stabbed.

 

“I really don't think I should d-”

 

“You heard him, Twilight!” Wild clapsed the bracelet over his big brother's wrist.

 

Then, the little traitor bolted and climbed up to Sky's branch. Probably figured that Twilight wouldn't harm the innocent in a sudden quest for revenge. Unfortunately, he was right, and Twilight was a firm believer in retribution for the guilty and the guilty alone.

 

They waited with bated breath for his next reaction. Some a little more tense and flightly than the others. For a man that did not appreciate the spotlight and eyes on him at all times, the attention got a little on his nerves.

 

First, he flexed his fingers, trying to get a feel for the magic, the difference in strength if any could be found. Urgh. This was about the farthest from his specialty as it got.

 

“What do you even want me to do?” he asked the others.

 

“Lift something heavy?” Hyrule shrugged.

 

The tree didn't stand a chance.

 

Legend hummed, examining the uprooted plant. “That's sort of a level two bracelet result.”

 

Twilight held back a sigh. “... Really?”

 

Unfortunately for his peace of mind, Time smirked. “He's right, Pup. I have something that lets me lift about a pillar of stone over my head.”

 

Twilight didn't say anything. In fact, his expression remained remarkably blank. His eyes searched and found Wild, who looked both awed and a little scared but the result of his thought experiment. Upon being focused on, he squirmed a bit, giving Twilight a thumbs up that cemented his decision in time and space.

 

Wordlessly, Twilight marched out of camp and down the hill they'd passed. Followed by the others, he marched right up to a small plateau in the terrain that hosted a few rock formation, the largest of which looked mostly buried underground.

 

Wild's stomach sank. “Wait, that's not a boulder! That's a Ta-”

 

Twilight stood, and the stone monster lifted with him. The rest of Wild's warning turned into a strangled squeak. The 'feet' of the miniboss dangled in the air like its lesser counterparts.

 

“-lus.”

 

Deep in the shadow of the rock monster he lifted, Twilight grinned and let the feral darkness inside slip just a touch. By the many flinches around (and yes, Twilight did see that, Old Man), he succeeded.

 

“And now, I yeet!

 

The Links watched as the giant monster arched through the air, passing the clearing it had made its home in and started to fell over the abrupt drop off that split the terrain in two. The Talus' mournful cry resonated all the way down the canyon, echoing for every violent impact it made with the cliffsides, and many of them happened on the way down.

 

Wind, ever curious, ran right up to the edge and pulled his sister's long view.

 

“Oh man. That's one way to make silver moblins pancakes.”

 

BONUS:

 

Time contemplated the hole left by the Talus' untimely demise, then the normal bracelet on his pup's wrist, then the golden gauntlets he wore. With slow, deliberate purpose, he began to pull one off.

 

Legend slapped the offending hand away. “No, that's too much power, Old Man!”

 

DOUBLE BONUS:

 

“… Say that again?”

 

A hushed silence crashed on top of the heroes' camp at the restrained violence dripping from Twilight's voice. One, because for many, that was a voice that preceded flashbacks to darker times. Two, because it was Twilight and he got angry about as often as Sky did. They counted. So, with just those three little words, that innocent sounding question, all activities in the camp grinded down to a halt in favor of mentally preparing for damage control between Twilight and his target, a nonchalant Legend refusing the power bracelet back.

 

“You need a power bracelet to lift a pot?”

 

“Huh… yeah?” Legend replied, frowning. “Why? That a problem, country boy?”

 

Violence made way for hysteria. “A pot.”

 

A vein twitched on Legend's forehead, but it was less attention grabbing than the faint blush creeping up his neck. “Why do you care?”

 

“Show of hands, who needs a power bracelet to lift a pot here?”

 

A cricket chose that moment to fly through camp, cricketing all the way. Even the non-religious Links considered that one of Hylia's sign. Legend, looking thoroughly annoyed, deliberately crossed his arms over his chest despite insistant staring.

 

From seven other heroes.

 

His ears twitching, Twilight eyed the suspiciously flipped over pot and glared.

 

“Cub, stasis Legend.”

 

“... Why?”

 

“I need to go 'patrol' for a minute and see where our wayward Four's gotten to. Then, we're starting a training regiment." Even as he disappeared through the woods, his grumbling carried over. "Can't lift a fucking pot!

Chapter Text

Three dances.

 

He could do this.

 

He hated that he had to do this, but he could . The taste of alcohol on his tongue, its burn at the back of his throat... they were tempting, but he knew better than to rely on them. He never tasted any that he hadn't seen served himself, and in a function such as this one, it meant he had only ever carried a single glass throughout.

 

His lips pinched together, remember the last time he'd forgotten to keep a close eye on his drinks.

 

A cold grip closed over his guts. Nope. He shouldn't go there. Not the right time. Every notable noble in the kingdom was watching his every move.

 

Warriors had busied himself teaching his brothers how to best deal with the nobility at his Queen's gala for the past two days. He could say he was proud of Hyrule's and Wind's progress in particular. Neither had had much manners or interest in them before and not one lady had fainted from their crude or frank behaviors. He also had to admire Four's control in accepting the few pinches on the cheeks he got for being so fun-sized.

 

I'll give him a bigger part in our next plans of attack. That's a ton of resentment to vent. Whatever monster we face next will be very dead.

 

“And I was just telling our dear Hero Link here how-” Lady Farosi bragged to Lord this and Lady that and Warriors carefully agreed at all the right places.

 

He used to like these things. Used to be proud of his role.

 

'It's you! All this time, the deaths, the battles, it was all because she wanted you ! '

 

Three dances. He had given the first one to Zelda, of course. No one could ever protest that choice of partner. The Queen and her knight. The most important figures in the War of Eras. A splendid couple, though he could not tell if Zelda felt any attraction towards him, the way he...

 

Warriors shook his head, made an excuse and stauntered to the buffet table, under which he thought he'd seen Legend hide. Two more dances. Then I'm free to leave. Hide in the stables. Play a game with the guards or maybe pay back Twilight for our last match.

 

He offered Sky a smile when his brother offered him a plate with some meat skewers and a piece of cheese. His stomach protested the very idea of food at the moment, but he appreciated the thoughtfulness. He forced himself to nibble on some of the cheese. It gave him an excuse not to talk to Lady Lanayrou. To dodge her attempt at linking their arms.

 

Second dance will be soon.

 

He scanned the crowd for a proper candidate that wouldn't be draping themselves all over him.

 

General Impa met his gaze over the crowd of mingling nobles, and his desperation must have shown on his face for she scowled something fierce at him. Right. Sheika. Security detail. Not the kind of person that should be on the dance floor.

 

With a sigh, Warriors resigned himself to letting whichever lady found him first have first right at a dance with him. Hopefully they'd listened if he said-

 

“Hey,” said a slightly off woman's voice, “do you think you could show me the steps?”

 

Warriors froze.

 

A slim, pale Hylian in a turquoise gerudo outfit stared patiently at him. Scars peeked out from under a tasteful veil that hid their chin, mouth and nose, leaving only startling blue eyes. He knew both the veil and the eyes.

 

Oh.

 

His gaze flickered down to the extensive network of spider web scars on the sides of the Hylian's torso. The outfit left little to the imagination. It was on full display.

 

For a second, he struggled to breath, realizing the extent of his brother's action. Warriors needed to apologize so damn much!

 

Tears threatened to spill from his eyes and he hurried to blink them away, taking the offer with as much gratitude as he could show his brother. Together, they reached the dance floor, and Warriors barely noticed the few times his feet were stepped on. At this point, Wild could stab him and he'd be thankful. Just swaying to the rhythm of the music and making jokes at the expense of the obnoxious people around them was one of the best dances he ever went through.

 

And then, someone reminded him just where he was.

 

“Who's this pasty ruin?” Lady Dynral loudly whispered behind her hand fan.

 

Twilight, who had just previously been attempting to convince a fair maiden that he was mute, tragically incapable of dancing and awaited in a backwater hut where he'd forgotten to turn off the stove, froze.

 

(It was no secret that Twilight couldn't quite pull off the neutral look of disappointment patented by the old man. It was a decent attempt, but they all had earned the original too often for the off-brand version to work.)

 

(What he could however pull off was the deadly stillness of a predator stalking a prey that had been just too loud. Eyes that promised death. Eventually.)

 

The chill alone made hair rise on the back of Warriors' neck and he was barely in the general vicinity of the lady. Now that was some killer instinct. The blatant bloodlust made his chest pang with nostalgia.

 

Goddesses he'd take another war over this...

 

However, seeing Lady Dynral's face drain of blood like this filled him with a singular vindictive happiness.

 

“Never seen Lady Dynral flee a function this fast before,” Warriors chuckled, twirling Wild at the tip of his arm for another round. “Our farmer's got your honor's back, huh?”

 

The veil hid Wild's face, but not the curious look in his eyes, nor the faint tilt of his head. “He cares about you too,” he said, softly. “We all do, Warriors.”

 

Warriors couldn't speak with such a soft feeling warming his chest. Wild's fingers squeezed his hands, then let him go. The others all gave him subtle thumbs up throughout the crowd, encouraging him to stay strong in the face of this battle. Dozens of skirmishes flashed behind his eyes, memories where he stood back to back with them, brothers-in-arms before the forces of evil.

 

(Sky found him another plate, which he did eat this time. Twilight patted him in the back strong enough to make him stumble into a lord, and wasn't that a shame. 'Ah, my mightily sorries, your lordness!' and Hylia alone knew how he hadn't burst out laughing at that one. Wind subtly hinted at the possibility of skedaddling mid dance if things were needed. 'I can fake illness like you wouldn't believe, War'.')

 

Third dance. And he had to admit, it looked like it wouldn't be so bad. Wild's assurance and the others' support made it feel smaller than before. He only needed to dance one more time, and he had had fun at a function for once...

 

Warriors almost felt serene when the bards on stage began plucking at their instruments' strings.

 

“Announcing... ” one of the guards near the door suddenly shouted, grinding the activities to a halt, “Princess Lore-al of Koholint!”

 

“What the f-?!” Wind's attempted swearing mercifully was stopped short by Sky's hand covering his mouth. No one even looked their way.

 

But Warriors deeply understood the sentiment.

 

The dress was impressive. Cut from the finest fabric, maybe enchanted silk, white with golden accents, and a gentle pink layer in the style of old royalty. Twenty or so rings, gold, silver and platinum, adorned the newcomers' fingers. Some inserted with gemstones, other carved with hylian runes.

 

Warriors really wanted to know where he'd gotten the tiara. He could have sworn...

 

Unlike Wild, Legend hadn't bothered with hiding his face. Or transforming it with make-up. He seemingly relied entirely on his natural twinkitude. And the lack of his ever present scowl that softened his looks considerably.

 

Amazingly, the haughty, confident expression on Legend's face wouldn't have been out of place amongst royalty. His absolute lack of shame as the rest of the ballroom stared did more for his credibility than an actual magic spell would have.

 

Warriors felt he ought to laugh, but he was too shell-shocked to do so.

 

Legend strutted, on high heels, right up to him, finally deigning to meet his eyes as if they were meeting for the first time.

 

“May I have the honor of this dance, Brave Hero?” Legend offered his hand, which Warriors contemplated like he would the head of a particularly vicious and hungry dodongo.

 

A long series of excuses came to mind, ranging from needing to go iron his wolf and thinking he heard Ganon call his name somewhere. Wild was one thing. Legend though? The veteran gambling addict would extract so many favors out of this...

 

Of course, Legend had to raise an eyebrow like he was challenging him to a game of cuccos and Warriors' entire being tossed caution to the wind in a resounding, mental fuck it .

 

With all the assurance of a chosen hero of Courage, he snatched a tulip from some of the nearby decoration, bit down on the stem and winked. “The honor shall be mine, Princess Lore-al.”

 

The musicians noticeable hesitated before starting to play again, and Warriors would have bet that his Queen had subtly instructed them to go on as normal.

 

The lascivious beat of a tango resonated around them. Legend's smirk widened, his eyelashes batting. “A red rupee you can't lift me one-handed over your head, Brave Hero.”

 

Despite himself, Warriors grinned. “You're on, Princess.”

 

BONUS

 

“So... where was the old man tonight?” Wind asked as they made their way back to their suite in the guest wing of the castle. “Couldn't find him.”

 

Hyrule frowned. “Wait, seriously? You didn't notice him? He was really obvious.”

 

Wind exchanged a glance with Sky and both came to the same conclusion. “What?”

 

“He was standing next to some of the really snobbish nobles all night. Just looming. Like when he's really pissed at our collective stupidity. They kept glancing around like they were wondering.”

 

The Links exchanged glances, mulling their recollections of the evening and arrived to a collective conclusion.

 

“Bullshit.”

 

Hyrule gave them an uncertain look.

 

“Was it the mask?” he mumbled, suddenly unsure. “You guys noticed the freaky grayish purple mask, at least? Like, it hid his entire face, but that was still clearly him, body type and stance and all.”

 

They turned toward Twilight, who shrugged. “Magic?”

 

They agreed, Hyrule especially. “Magic.”

 

A few steps later, Wind broke the silence again.

 

“... So the old man spent the evening just putting the fear of evil spirits in the nobility?”

 

Warriors snickered.

 

“Sounds like him, alright,” Twilight drawled.

 

DOUBLE BONUS

 

“You know...” Sky mused, his hands stilling over the piece of wood he was carving. “Maybe I should just ask Zelda to make it Hylian law to never hold balls.”

 

Four frowned and looked at Time. “Wouldn't that unraveled, you know, the fabric of time and space?”

 

Time shrugged, looking quite relaxed sitting by an old tree.

 

“Oh, right,” Sky mumbled, now hesitant.

 

Warriors fell on his knees. “I'd give you my firstborn, Sky! Please!”

 

Legend huffed. “Well, now he's gonna have to make those officials.”

 

Four put a hand on his forehead. “Does that count as a paradox? How many of those have we caused actually?”

 

“I meant Sky being straddled with Warriors' spawn, but sure. Tons of 'em.”

 

“HEY!”