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Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind

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Hyrule would usually consider himself to be a pessimist.

Actually, pessimist isn’t quite the word he’s looking for… Realist! Hyrule would usually consider himself to be a realist.

In his world, one could not afford to be anything but a realist. Optimistic thoughts were usually reserved for kids who had not yet been exposed to the world. A single mistake, a single toe out of line, could spell doom. And getting too comfortable was practically a death sentence.

That wasn't to say his world was terrible! Hyrule loved his home and the hardy but kind people that lived in it. It just meant that, to Hyrule, the phrase ‘ too good to be true’ was a statement that was proven to be correct more often than not. So he had learned to eye things that appeared simple and happy and pure with more than a little bit of skepticism. 

And yet, despite all of that, even he had to admit that this version of his beloved kingdom was absolutely adorable. 

This Hyrule was still obviously a very young kingdom. Not as young as Sky’s–which was little more than a handful of houses around a statue, an idea in the mind of a determined young woman– but still young. 

The castle was beautiful but small, it's spires barely brushing the sky that would later be pierced by the sprawling towers of the castles in Time and Twilight’s eras. Castle Town, or Hyrule Town as the guard had said, was little more than a village enclosed by cobblestone walls. It was larger than most of the towns in Hyrule’s kingdom, but small compared to Legend ’s Kakariko or even the Windfall Island of Wind’s Great Sea.

Yet, while small, the traveling hero could see how Hyrule Town was truly alive. People bustled in and out of their small but warm looking cottages, carrying on conversations with loved ones or hurrying with empty baskets to the center of town where a pop-up market was in full swing. Children darted between the sea of legs, giggling and chasing one another or the cuccos that strutted over the cobblestone. 

There was something just so… wholesome about the kingdom that simultaneously drew the traveling hero in and set him on edge.  He wanted to join the mass of citizens, wanted to follow the stream of people down into the market. And at the same time, the sheer amount of people, the sheer amount of noise, the enclosing cobblestone walls had his eyes flicking to and fro, searching for danger.

It was like anticipation whiplash. 

But thankfully, Hyrule didn't have to dwell on it long.

“Okay, is everyone clear about the plan?” Time asks, turning to address the group, raising his voice slightly to be heard over the din of the nearby crowd.

The eldest hero is met with several nods and one particularly strong eye roll from Legend. 

Which Hyrule kinda gets. It was, after all, a very simple plan. They had used it for pretty much every new Hyrule they had encountered. 

It was routine by now. They would split up into groups of two and scope out the village in search of this kingdom's hero. As per their earlier conversation, Warriors and Twilight would be taking the upper part of town while Legend and Sky were taking the lower sector. Time and Wind, meanwhile, would be searching through historical records in the library while Hyrule and Wild would be trying to get information out of the town guards.

Like Hyrule said. It was a simple plan. A foolproof one, if he did say so himself. Afterall, they hadn't failed to find a hero yet. They would probably find the new hero within the hour! 

“Good,” The Old Man says with a nod of his head, pointedly ignoring Legend’s exasperation.  “Remember to meet back here at noon with any information you can get. There is a bell in the center of town that should ring the hour.”

“Don’t be late,” Twilight adds, narrowed eye landing on Wild and then Hyrule in turn. They grin at him, the picture of innocence. He narrows his eyes even further. 

Then, without anything more to discuss, the other heroes set off two by two; Twilight and Warriors heading up the stairs while Sky and Legend join the tide of people toward the market. Time practically has to drag Wind along with him, the sailor not so pleased that his pair was checking out the library. 

Soon enough, only Wild and Hyrule are left standing by the quietly bubbling fountain.

“So,” Hyrule says, turning to grin at his friend, “I’m assuming we’re gonna be late.”

“Oh, you know it,” Wild replies with a smile.

The two high five and then dive headfirst into the river of people.

Twilight finds trying to gather information with Warriors to be an exercise in patience. A lot of patience. 

The problem isn't that they don't get any information. No. Quite the opposite, actually. The problem lies in the fact that Warriors has a tendency to be chatty on the best of days and a goddess damned gossip on the worst. The captain could get the dirt on one lizalfos from another lizalfos if the monsters weren't trying to kill him the whole time. And in a town this small, where everyone knew everyone by name, there was a lot of gossip to wade through.

Some of it was useful: apparently the hero of this kingdom was a blacksmith named Link– typical– who, according to at least one very ardent house wife, was spending far more time at the castle than he had before. 

However, besides his name, occupation, and apparent interest in the princess, no one could agree on anything about the kid. Everything else about him was apparently fair game for gossip. 

The hero had gone on one, no, two, no, three adventures. He was approachable but cold but sweet but hot headed. He was kind but a little bit… off, driven crazy by his adventures, no, it was his blade, no, why would he still have it if it drove him crazy?

He was twelve and twenty two and part minish– whatever that was– but lived with his grandfather, no, just his father, no wait…And could be seemingly everywhere at once one moment and then nowhere at all the next. 

Basically, no one could agree on who or what the kid was. It was giving Twilight a headache. 

Thankfully, however, they come to learn that the hero spent most of his time running a forge outside of town, giving Twilight the excuse he needed to drag Warriors away from the group of busybodies he had accred in his search for knowledge.

“You know,” the captain says, grumbling through the winning smile he was throwing over his shoulder at his new best friends, “You could stand to be a little bit more personable.”

“I think you’re personable enough for the both of us,” Twilight grumbles back, giving his companion a hard yank forward on his scarf. 

Warriors quickly adopts an affronted look; hand on heart, mouth open, eyes blinking in mock confusion, the whole nine yards.

“And what, may I ask, is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that I– what the…?”

Something rough yet soft gently smacks against Twilight’s nose, cutting off whatever snarky remark he was about to throw Warriors’ way. With a small backstep, the farm hand gets a better look at his attacker.

It’s the frayed end of a thick rope hanging down from the roof of the house they had been walking next to. It sways lightly in the light breeze, swinging at the perfect height to hit Twilight directly in the face. With inquisitive eyes, the farm hand traces the cord from the roof,up past where it must be connected, wondering at how it got there.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” a young voice says before Twilight can investigate much further, dragging his attention down to a young man in a red tunic. The kid looks pretty distressed, brows drawn, mouth trembling, and big amber eyes full of unshed tears. 

“See, I was flying my kite earlier when this big breeze came and pulled the rope out of my hand and got my kite caught on the roof of this house but I can't get it down by myself and it's not my kite– oh Farore, my brother is gonna kill me!– and–and–!”

“Whoa, kid,” Twilight says, cutting off the boy before he can work himself into a tizzy. He kneels down, bringing himself eye level with the now crying child, setting a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder. “It's going to be okay. I’ll get your kite down.”

“R-really?” The boy sniffs, wiping at his eyes with the undershirt of his tunic.

“Really,” Twilight replies with a reassuring smile. 

Without further ado, the farmhand straightens and takes hold of the rope, giving it a few experimental tugs. Nothing budges. He gives it a few harsher pulls. Still nothing. 

Hmm, a bit more stuck than he thought. 

“Maybe stand back a little bit,” Twilight says, shooing the kid back a bit. “It might be caught on some tiles and I don’t want you getting hit if a few shingles come loose.”

The kid nods with a watery smile, skipping a few steps away.

Getting himself into a better stance–feet firm and spread apart– Twilight takes ahold of the rope and yanks. Something above gives with a slight groan, the rope loosening, falling in the farm hand’s direction.. Twilight looks up, ready to catch the kite–

Only to catch approximately a million water balloons with his face.

One by one, the little water bombs smack into the farmhand’s absolutely shell shocked face, exploding with sharp little cracks and pops. In less than a second, the farmhand is soaked head to toe. And for a second he just stands there, looking like a stupid drowned rat, pelt heavy and water logged against his back, wet hair covering his eyes, and rope still gripped in his hand.

Two laughs ring out behind his back: one familiar, annoying, Warriors. The other, young and bright and quickly retreating in the other direction. 

“Hey!” Twilight shouts, whirling around. 

But the kid is already gone, lost in the crowd of people. 

A snort of laughter has Twilight turning back around, now met with a Warriors who is hardly containing his laughter. The captain's whole face is red with the effort of keeping it together and yet, little giggles still slip from between his lips. The asshole.

“Did–” Warriors cuts himself off, taking in a massive breath to steady himself. “Did you just get pranked by an eight year old?”

Warriors dissolves into uproarious laughter at his own question and Twilight slaps a hand to his forehead, kneading at his brow bones there. 

Yes. A lot of patience indeed. 

Wind was so bored he could scream.

But he couldn't scream because he was in a library, where he was pretty sure it was frowned upon to scream. Not that that would usually stop him. He’s a pirate after all. Rules are little more than things for him to follow on a whim and break when he feels like.

But Time… the thought of Time’s glare or worse, his disappointed stare stayed Wind’s hand. Err, mouth. 

But that didn't stop him from huffily slouching into the chair at the older’s side as Time poured over a book. Didn't stop him from bouncing his leg as fast as it would go. Or sighing very loudly every chance he got. Or sinking even lower in his seat until his chin was level with the table and bouncing both of his legs even faster or–

“Wind,” Time says, the older pinching at his eyebrows as he closes his eye.  “A little bit of quiet, please.” He pointedly turns a page, opening his good eye to begin reading once more. “We’re almost done here, I promise.”

Wind slumped in his chair, resigning himself to silence.



For all of about three seconds before the sailor let out the loudest, longest yawn of his life, the force of the inhale arching his back while the exhale causes him to go boneless in his chair, forcing the thing to move back a several inches. A horrible screechy sound emits from the movement as the wooden legs of the chair whined against the hardwood floor. 

By the end of the whole production, Time is staring at Wind, single eye wide, face painfully neutral. 

Wind sends the older a sheepish smile. 

Time’s eye narrows.

Which is how Wind finds himself stalking through the stacks, arms piled high with the books that Time no longer needs, trying to sort out where exactly to put each title. The older had apparently forgotten why Wind wasn’t helping look through the books in the first place: he couldn't read this version of Hylian, it's letters too foreign, too distant from his own. 

So basically, at this point, Wind’s just putting books back where-ever he's finding openings and calling it good.

He just needs to find a few more vacancies and… there! A couple of bookshelves down the line, on the bottom most level, several books sit spaced out, leaning against one another instead of packed rigidly together. Perfect! He can get rid of several of these damn things all at once.

With a slight pep in his step, the sailor moseys on over to that shelf, leans down, and shoves about seven books into the open space. 

Arms now considerably lighter, the young hero stands, whistling a quiet tune as he glances around for somewhere to deposit the last of his load–

“Aw, c’mon!” A voice, high pitched and annoyed. “I just set that all up!”

The sailor whirls around, apology ready on his lips for whatever librarian he just pissed off, only to find himself alone amongst the books. Wind looks back the way he came. No one. Back the other way. Nada. A peak around the shelf. Zilch.

“Uhhh, hello?” the young hero tries, turning a circle, peeking through the spaces between the books to see if perhaps someone was speaking to him through the shelf. “I’m sorry I fuc-err- messed up your… uh whatever it is you set up?”

“It’s fine, ” the voice replies, resigned frustration bleeding into its tone. “I’ll just be back home a bit later than I…”

A beat.

“Wait... Kid, you can hear me?”

“Not a kid,” Wind corrects, his ears flicking up and down, trying to pinpoint where the voice is coming from. “But yeah, I can hear you. Why?” Wind turns another circle. “Where the hell are you?”

A little laugh.

“Look down.”

Without thinking, Wind does as the voice commands and… huh.

Down below, next to the shelf Wind had just gracelessly filled, stands a tiny person. Like a really really tiny person, probably hardly bigger than Wind’s thumb.

Holy shit!” the young hero exclaims, almost immediately dropping to his knees to examine his new friend.

And upon closer inspection, Wind can see that his friend isn't exactly a person at all, per say. Well, not Hylian, at least. 

The little guy has ears like a Hylian, long and pointed and pierced , which protrude from the side of his head. He has hair like a Hylian, shoulder length and blonde, with the front pulled back into a neat ponytail. He even wears clothes like a Hylian; a black shirt tucked into puffy green pants, the tiniest sword Wind has ever seen slung over his shoulder, and a little pair of goggles dangling out of use around his neck. 

But that's where the similarities end. Because the little guy’s face is nothing like a Hylian’s, instead ending in a long pointed nose, like the muzzle of a mouse. Wind can see that the other even has whiskers, the little hairs twitching and flickering inquisitive as the little guy tilts his head up to look at the sailor. 

Wind thinks he must be examining Wind as closely as the sailor is doing to him, but there's something about his small friend’s large eyes–big, black, and seemingly pupil-less– that makes Wind feel like the other is taking a mental pictograph of him, filing away Wind's face for later. 

Oh yeah, and the tail. His small friend also has a little, white, feathery tail with forest green plumage on its tip. It twitches every so often. It's adorable. 

With a small laugh, the little guy takes a small step forward–huh, four toed feet– moving closer to Wind, no doubt taking in the sailor's downright astonished expression with the amount of glee of someone who's been through this whole song and dance before and who absolutely loves it.

“What kid?” he says with a grin, exposing long, rat-like incisors. “Minish got your tongue?”

“Not a kid,” Wind corrects without even thinking. “The fuck’s a Minish?”

That seems to knock his new friend off balance a little, the little guy’s grin slipping the slightest of bits as his nose begins to twitch faster.

“You’ve never heard of the Minish? Or the Picori?”

Wind shakes his head. “Nope.”

The grin slips entirely off the mouse-like man’s face, black eyes losing some of their twinkle.


“But uh,” Wind says, because oh Ocean King, if he thought a sad looking Hyrule was bad, this little guy takes the kicked puppy–kicked mouse?– look and turns it up to eleven.“Thats probably just because I’m not from around here. I’m from really far away. An island actually.”

“An island? Really?” The little guy perks up considerably at that, eyes lighting back up and whiskers and tail twitching excitedly. “Huh. I’ve never even seen the ocean before,” he says a little wistfully.

There is a beat of silence between the two.

And then the little guy, the Minish, shakes his head as if coming out of a day dream, smiling sheepishly up at Wind.

“Heh, sorry about that.” he rubs the back of his neck, a nervous habit. “Just been stuck in this town for a while. Going a little stir crazy. Anyway,” and the minish’s face quickly shifts from sheepish to imploring, “now that I know you can hear me, how about you help me fix what you just messed up?”

Which is how Wind finds himself multitasking, helping the minish, who he comes to learn is named Green, set up all of the books back into their original configurations while the little guy rides on his shoulder, helping Wind to place his own books back in their correct locations. 

They chat as they go about the task, Green telling Wind all about the Minish who live in the library and why the books were set up the way they were while Wind describes growing up on a small island in the middle of the ocean. Back and forth, the two trade stories in between placing books, Green bragging about killing an Octoroc on his own (which, for his size, is actually pretty impressive) while Wind goes on and on about being the second in command of a pirate ship.

Before long, Wind finds himself sliding his final book into place, feeling oddly sad as the cracked leather spine leaves his fingers.

The sailor brings an open palm up to his shoulder, which Green steps into to be placed on the shelf Wind is standing in front of, bringing the two eye level.

“Thanks for all the help, Wind” Green says, smiling, black eyes twinkling in the dim light of the library. 

The sailor waves him off, sending the other a grin of his own. “Ehh it was nothing. I mean, I’m the one who messed all of that shit up in the first place. Might as well be the one to clean it up too. And besides,” a roll of his sea glass green eyes, “it kept me from actually fucking dying of boredom.”

“Yeah, about that,” Green says, strolling over to the book Wind had just placed on the shelf. He runs a small hand over the spine, tracing the golden embossed letters with his fingers. “Not many people are super interested in the old legends of the Light Force. What exactly are you and your friend looking for?”

The little sailor takes a glance around, making sure no one is within earshot. Finding not a soul, the sailor turns back to his new friend and leans in smiling, truly a kid with a secret to tell. 

“I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be hush hush , if you know what I mean,” the sailor starts, voice a whisper but words alight with excitement as he flashes the minish a conspiratory grin, “But I think you’re cool, so I'll tell ya. Hold onto your tail, ‘cause this is gunna sound absolutely keeseshit insane.”

“See, my name isn’t actually Wind. That's just the hero title I got for saving the Great Sea.” He gives the wide eyed minish a little playful bow and a wink. “Link, Hero of the Winds at your service” 

“Anyway,” the sailor continues, really getting into his story now, hands moving wildly as he explains, ”Me, the dude with the sick face tats–that's Time, by the way– and six other heroes from across time and space were all brought together for a really fucking important adventure where we’ll probably have to save all of our kingdoms. And today, we got spat out here and because it’s none of our versions of Hyrule, we know that we probably need to find the hero that lives here and get them to come along with us on our adventure.”

“So Time and I were here checking the library to see if there was any info on the hero. Makes sense, yeah?” The sailor finishes, eyes finally coming back to rest on the minish

The minish who is now blinking at Wind owlishly, large obsidian eyes somehow even bigger than before. 

And then the little guy breaks out into chittering laughter, the mouse-like man almost knocked over by the force of his own giggles as his tail lashes and he clutches at his stomach as though in pain.

“Hey!” Wind exclaims, indignantly. “I’m not making this shit up! It’s true!”

Green shakes his head, still laughing as he wipes a hand down his face.

“Oh no, don’t worry. I believe you,” the minish says, words still bubbly with laughter even as he tries to compose himself.  “That’s why I’m laughing.”

Another chuckle, this one considerably less light. More bitter, and crumbling around the edges.  

“Never a dull moment when you're a hero, huh?” Greens says, looking down at his hands.  “Never a moment’s rest.”

Before Wind can respond, before he can unpack what his little friend just said, his head whips to the left following the quiet and distant sound of his name. It’s Time, the Old Man calling for him. It’s no doubt time to go.

With a tinge of sadness swelling in him like the tide, Wind turns back to his friend, farewell ready on his lips, only to find the minish smiling up at him, an aquamarine fragment of stone hefted in his tiny arms.

“For all your help,” Green says. And then when Wind doesn't take it immediately, he lifts it higher, more insistent. “And for good luck.”

With ginger fingers, Wind plucks the stone from his small friend’s hands. He turns it over between his palms, staring at the etching of a four leafed clover in the middle, tracing the way the stone seems to be broken in half, a jagged edge disrupting the intricate carving.

“What is it?”

“A Kinstone. If you find its other half, something good will happen.” A rat-toothed smile and glittering black eyes twinkling with an unreadable emotion. “Something tells me you’re going to need some luck in your future.”

“Wind!” Time’s voice again, closer.

“Coming!” Wind calls back.

And then to his little friend: “I uh, guess this is good bye.”

The Minish nods and holds out his hand, looking pointedly at Wind, encouraging the sailor to do the same. With a touch of confusion, Wind complies, holding out a finger to his small companion. 

Green smiles, looking up into Wind's eyes as he presses a hand to the center of his chest, placing the other to the tip of Wind’s finger. 

“Umoriut ichiri,” he chirps warmly. 

And then, just before Time turns the corner, the little guy sends Wind one final grin, before turning and running, ducking behind several books and skittering out of sight.

“There you are,” Time says, finally coming to stand at Wind’s side. The Old Man glances around, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “Were you talking to someone? I thought I heard voices.”

Wind’s eyes flick back to where his little friend was just standing, tracing the little alcoves they had made for the Minish who live in the library.

“Nah,” Wind says, turning back to Time with an easy grin, hands behind his head, “Just whistling to myself. “We good to go?”

As the two exit the library, headed back toward the fountain to meet up with the others, a blonde haired boy in a green tunic rushes past Wind, gently brushing the sailor’s side as he runs.

“See you later!” the kid calls, looking over his shoulder only long enough for Wind to catch sight of forest green eyes before the boy’s face is obscured by bodies, his small form disappearing into the sea of people near the market. 


The kid must have Wind confused for someone else. 

And yet, the little sailor could not help but think the other’s voice was oddly familiar somehow.

Legend and Sky start canvassing the lower town.

Start being the operative word. They do not finish canvassing the lower town.

Because really, Legend muses, how were they supposed to work in these conditions? On an empty stomach and absolutely surrounded by the mouthwatering smells of the little market? 

So they stop searching for the hero and start searching for someplace to get lunch because, really, with so many eyes open and ears out looking for the kid, one of the others were bound to find something they could work with.

Or, at least, that's what Legend tells Sky to get the chosen hero to stop looking like a guilty puppy over the fact that they’re ditching their job.  

So, after touring the stalls for a bit, sampling this and trying that with the pocket change that Legend always keeps on his person, they eventually settle on a more permanent looking place for lunch: a little bakery with a sign out front that says “Wheaton and Pita’s Bakery”.

The soft tinkling of a bell and the absolutely heavenly scent of baking bread, melting butter, and sugary frosting greets them as they push their way through the door, confirming that they made the right choice.  

“Welcome to Wheaton and Pita’s Bakery, home of the lucky brioche,” calls a dour voice from behind the counter. “What can I get you today?”

The owner of the voice is a blonde kid standing at a work bench a bit farther behind the counter, kneading dough with the viciousness that one would use to throttle their worst enemy. The kid is absolutely covered in flour and powdered sugar, leaving only his livid cobalt eyes unbleached by the ingredients. He’s wearing an apron with lots of little blue  hearts and stars embroidered into the front.

With an angry grimace, the blonde gives the dough another massive punch, blowing a few strands of hair that have managed to escape his tight bun out of his face.

The kid looks like he hates his life. 

Which is fair, Legend thinks. The kid is working retail, after all. 

Welp, too bad for him. If he's this easily annoyed, he's in the wrong business. And unfortunately for the young blonde, Legend most certainly isn’t above antagonizing strangers for his own amusement. Gotta make your own fun while going on a wild goose chase for the Goddess, you know?

So, with only a tiny dot of venom soiling his innocent mischief, Legend plasters a doughy, dumb look over his face

“Any recommendations?” the pink haired hero asks, voice so sugary it contends with the crystalline smell of frosting in the air, his smile wide and vacant. “We’re from out of town.” 

The kid must know what he's doing, because the veteran swears he sees the boy’s right eye twitch. Bingo.

“We literally only sell four things,” the kid grits out with a grimace. 

Legend raises an eyebrow at that, innocent smile going a bit more pointed as he gives the boy an appraising look. A ‘oh really? You’re talking to a customer like that?

The kid’s grimace somehow becomes even more pronounced as he narrows icy blue eyes at the veteran hero. But then, as if hearing the words of someone lecturing him, the kid shakes his head and gets a hold of his temper.The young blonde takes a deep breath in, and sighs it out, visibly trying to soften his jaw, his shoulders. Another breath in and the kid holds it this time,  the boy somehow turning his grimace into an even more painful looking smile; all teeth, no lip. 

“If you want sweet, get the pie or the cake.” He says, mouth hardly moving as he hisses the words out between his bared teeth. “If you want savory, get the brioche or the croissant.”

“Oh that sounds great, but what do you recommend?”

The kid's face turns a little red. 

Legend takes it as a win, even as Sky elbows him in the side, clearly having caught on to what the pink haired hero was doing.

“Sorry for my friend,” Sky says, an easy, appeasing smile on his face. “I’ll take a brioche, please.”

“And a slice of cake for me, if you’d be so kind,” Legend adds, batting his eyelashes a little.

He gets another elbow to the stomach. Its totally worth it for the icy glare he gets from the blonde as he shoves himself away from the counter, going off to fill their order.

“Why are you like this?” Sky whispers, shaking his head. 

Legend merely shrugs, pulling out the correct amount of rupees and placing them on the counter. And then, after a second, places a purple one inside the open tip jar. Because the kid was at least a good sport about the whole thing. 

“Here’s the brioche,” the boy says, handing a personal sized loaf to Sky with a napkin. “And the cake,” he finishes, passing a ceramic plate and fork to Legend. Then with the fakest smile known to man: “Have a great day.”

The two heroes turn away from the counter, only making it a few steps before both give into the temptation of their food. 

And Legend has to admit, the cake is amazing.The frosting on top has crystalized on the outside, leaving the inside buttery and sweet and tasting of vanilla.  The cake is spongy and light, complimenting the fresh, tart strawberry and raspberry jam sandwiched between the layers. 

It's nothing short of heaven and Legend would have finished it in a few seconds flat if not for a sharp crack, followed by an excruciating pain in his mouth. 

With an open mouthed shout of surprise and hurt, he spits his last mouthful onto his plate; chewed up bits of cake covered in blood followed by a fucking fragment of a blue stone

Well that and part of a tooth. Part of his front tooth. 

“Wuh huh ‘UCK!” Legend screams, blood on his lips, jolting both Sky and the boy behind the counter, who both look at him in surprise and then shock.

“Did you just fucking bite into the Kinstone?!” The boy shouts in a mix of surprise and anger, vaulting over the counter, a handful of napkins clutched in his palm. He quickly guides the pink haired hero back into a chair while shoving the paper into Legend’s hands. Once seated, the boy takes the plate away as Sky leans in, shooting Legend a concerned look as the veteran sets about shoving as many napkins in his mouth in order to curb the flow of iron.

“Why huh ‘UCK are ‘here shtones in a ‘UCKING cake?!” Legend spits as best he can around the napkins and the painful half stump of his front left tooth.

“It's a Kinstone, you moron! Almost every goddess damned thing in the store has one baked into it!”

“How wash I shuppos’s to knohw ‘hat?!”

“You would have known if you had bothered to look at the fucking menu instead of being a goddess damned  menace!”

Legend whips his head up to look at the sign hanging above the counter, not believing the little, snot nosed–!

… sure enough, in bright white letters, it says, “Chance to win a Kinstone in every treat!”

Son of a...

The door opens with its tell tale tinkling and a woman steps into the bakery, freezing the three boys in their tracks as they watch her enter. She totters in, arms full of groceries and a jovial expression on her face, having clearly not seen them yet. 

“I’m back, Link!” she says, setting her basket down on the counter, before glancing around, obviously looking for her helper. “How was manning the shop– oh my goodness gracious!” 

A hand comes up to her mouth as she rushes over to the group of teens, glancing between Legend’s bloody mouth and the kid’s angry expression.

“Oh, Link.” She says, voice sad. No. Disappointed.  “You punched another one?”

“Another one!?” Sky exclaims. 

“...the one fucking day I switch jobs with Red, I get the morons…” Legend catches the boy mutter under his breath. And then to the woman, “No, Mrs. Pita. This one,” he throws a thumb at Legend, “bit into a Kinstone and broke a tooth.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” the woman exclaims, gently removing Sky and the blonde from infront of Legend, taking a hold of the pink haired hero’s chin to examine his mouth herself. She hisses at the sight of the broken tooth, the white bone broken clean in half. “I’m afraid you might need a fairy to fix this, my dear.”

Legend groans as best he can around the napkins and now the examining fingers of his woman he's never met before. The Old Man has all the fairies right now and Legend does NOT want to explain why he needs one.

“Uhhh,” the blonde boy says after a few moments of the woman’s examination, inching back away from the scene, apron already over his head and in his hand. “Looks like you've got this covered, Mrs.Pita, so I’ll just…”

The woman waves the boy away, not even looking up from where she’s now examining Legend’s gums. “Yes, yes, out with you. Thank you for the help, deary, and say hello to your grandfather for me.”

The boy nods emphatically, throwing his apron over the counter and dashing out the door. 

It's a few minutes later, the woman bustling about looking for gauze, Legend pressing a lump of ice into his mouth that Sky suddenly says: “Wait. Did she say that kid’s name was Link?”

Legend would punch himself in the face if he wasn't afraid of losing any more teeth today. 

Oh, Time really shouldn't have put Hyrule and Wild together if he wanted them to be on a schedule of any kind.

Because really , what did the Old Man expect? For them to stay within the walls of the village and talk to soldiers when there was an entirely new, never before seen kingdom just beyond the barrier of dull, grey stone? 

Yeah right!

So it really shouldn’t have surprised anyone, least of all Time, that pretty much the first chance they got, Hyrule and Wild were out the gates and into the rest of the kingdom proper.

And Nayru, If Hyrule had thought this Hyrule was cute before, well now he thought it was both cute and beautiful.  

The two adventurous heroes spend hours just getting lost together. 

They end up at the base of a volcano, the ground heat-baked and cracked, a gentle but continuous snowfall of embers blanketing the earth and smothering it. 

Despite the... warm welcome, they journey higher, until each inhale becomes a breath of pure flame, searing their throats and layering the roofs of their mouths and their lungs with ash. 

And yet, for as inhospitable as Mt. Crenel is, all around them, the two can hear the sounds of the volcano rumble and combine and thrive with a sort of life of its own; the muffled bubbling of hot geysers mixing with the whistle of superheated air shrieking through cracks in the ground, all of it adding to a percussion of falling boulders until the entire mountain is thrumming with a rhythm, a heart beat of why would you try and climb this?!

So, of course, Wild and Hyrule continue to climb it.

Then, slightly smoldering and definitely soaked in sweat but smiling as bright as the overhead sun, the two teens stroll their way through rolling fields. They trace the curvature of the hills with pounding feet, wade their way through a sea of knee high waves of grass caught in the tide of the wind. 

At some point, they catch sight of a small house in the distance, sitting alone on a raised plot of ground, and consider stopping to ask for directions. They eventually decide against it, content to their wandering.

Past the house, which Hyrule thinks might actually be a blacksmith due to the sharp ting ting ting emanating from the building as they pass, the two enter a forest. Almost immediately, Hyrule feels something in him shift, his chest releasing a breath he hadn't even known it was holding, letting the traveler feel like he was finally breathing  for the first time in a long long while.  

Hyrule can’t put his finger on it, cannot reach out and touch it or even put a name to the feeling, but there's something about the place that just… feels like home. The trees, tall and older than Hyrule will ever be, create a dark canopy overhead, interrupting the sun and leaving the forest floor in cool, misty shade. There is a strange stillness to the woods, as though everything has been muted; the trees, the bushes, the fog, all of it taking the sounds of the forest and softening them, a gentle brush of noise rather than a deafening din of activity.

And the air... The air is cool and refreshing, thick with the scent of rain and moss and mud and growth. And something else. Something that prickles familiarly at Hyrule’s skin. Something that sits on the back of his tongue, sweet, but not cloying so. 

It’s something magical. 

Not the crystalline honeysuckle of faerie magic, Hyrule thinks, but something similar, adjacent. It is not as ephemeral, not as wily or mischievous. It feels… more grounded. More rooted, more ingrained into the very earth instead of free floating magical ozone. It feels nice. Homely.

Hyrule could probably stay in that forest, The Minish Woods, for hours, if not for the fact that they did, infact, need to head back at some point. So with a bit of reluctance, Hyrule lets Wild drag him from the woods and back out into the light of day.

Soon enough, the two of them find a dirt road and follow it until the grey cobblestone of Hyrule Town come into view. The home stretch, they’re almost there–

Hyrule feels the dirt of the road shift beneath his foot, something burying through the ground underneath his soles, creating a small wake of rock and displaced dirt that has the traveling hero tripping with a gasp.

He catches himself, but only just, eyes almost instinctively following the way the shape that had nearly caused his fall glides forward through the dirt before it comes to a screeching halt. Thin black claws erupt from the top soil, scrabbling scrabbling scrabbling until there is a hole large enough for a rounded, yellow head to emerge from underground.

As if looking for who just stepped on it, the head wheels around in the hole, revealing a molelike face wearing a blue domino mask of all things. However, the monster's tiny eyes seem to spot them easily enough, the creature's lips immediately peeling back from it’s thin snout to reveal a needle-like sneer that has Hyrule and Wild drawing their blades. 

With a squeaky giggle, the head disappears back underground only to immediately reappear as the creature emerges more fully from the dirt.

Or, if Hyrule is going to be accurate, as the creature s emerge more fully from the dirt, because their little guy apparently has friends. Friends that stack ontop of eachother, one after the other, until there is a tower of the little guys tottering toward them, claws extended, mouths snapping, eyes glittering greedily behind their masks.

Hyrule raises his shield and sees Wild do the same next to him. The two heroes lock eyes briefly, nodding to each other, a vicious smile shared between two people with the same idea. Focusing his eyes back on the tower of enemies, Hyrule braces his legs, ready to break into a sprint.

Because while the spire of moles is tall, it isn't exactly what Hyrule would call stable. A single blow from their shields should do the trick.

“Go!” Wild shouts, jolting both heroes into action, the two springing forward as one, shields ready to dismantle their enemies–

When a massive clawed paw erupts from the ground directly in front of the tower, grabbing a hold of the bottom most enemy. The little thing only has long enough to widen its eyes and let out a little shriek of fear before it's being dragged back down under the ground, the entire tower coming down with it. 

“What in the hell was that?!” Wild asks, having to shout over the muffled sound of rodent-like shrieks and hisses rising up from the depths of the hole

“No clue.” Hyrule responds, just as bemused, keeping his eyes firmly locked on where the claw had emerged. “A new type of Wallmaster?”

A final high pitched shriek pieces the air, followed by total silence.

And for a second, Wild and Hyrule just stare at the hole, swords up, shields prepped, ready for literally anything to jump out of its depths.

They don't have to wait long, as two massive clawed paws emerge from the hole, working in tandem to tear at the sides of the pit, widening it. Wider and wider and wider until it’s at least three times bigger than the one the little moles had popped out of.

A final pass of paws and then the claws grip at the edges of the pit, wicked looking nails rooting themselves into the earth, a stable basis for something to haul itself up and–

Another blonde head pops from the hole, but unlike last time, it is quickly followed by shoulders and a very small, hylian looking body and Oh, Nayru,  the traveler thinks his jaw might have just hit the dirt because what looks to be a freaking eight year old child is hauling himself up from underground.

In seconds, the boy is free from the earth, standing and pulling off the massive clawed gloves– gloves! They’re gloves!– and stowing them away in a leather satchel, as he mutters quietly to himself. The child then lets out a sharp tisk as he seems to realize how dirty he is, hands passing methodically through his straight blonde hair to rid it of any clods of dirt. A couple of harsh swipes across his clothes sends clouds of dust billowing from the child, and Hyrule watches as the kid’s tunic seemingly turns from a dusky heather to a vibrant violet. 

Quickly stowing his sword and shield, Hyrule rushes to the child’s side just as the kid finishes cleaning himself up, the wandering hero’s eyes peeled for any injuries, any visible bruises, tears in the other’s tunic or pants.

“Are you alright?” Hyrule asks, voice a little breathless from shock.

“Oh,” the boy replies, taking a reflexive step away as the traveling hero skids to a stop next to him, sharp amethyst eyes giving Hyrule an evaluative once over before flicking over and doing the same to Wild as the champion approaches. 

“My apologies,” The boy gives a slight incline of his head, his face betraying nothing as he speaks. “I was unaware anyone was out here. I am sorry if I surprised you.”

“Surprised us?” Wild asks with a little laugh, eyes wide with excitement. “I mean, yeah, but that was freaking awesome kid! What were those things anyway?”

“And what were you doing down there?” Hyrule asks, voice soft but eyes sending daggers Wild’s way because the champion just completely bypassed the fact that there was an eight year old underground fighting monsters. 

The boy’s face cracks a little, his blank facade wrinkling as his eyebrows furrow an inch, his mouth turning down a tick. His eyes flicker back and forth between Wild and Hyrule, as though the two heroes are a puzzle he’s trying to work out. 

“Those were Acrobandits,” the boy explains slowly. “Not particularly dangerous monsters, but pests nonetheless. There has been an unfortunate resurgence in their numbers as of late, so I was asked to “thin the herd,” so to speak.”

“Not saying you aren’t capable of handling them yourself, but aren’t there soldiers for that?” Wild asks, Hyrule nodding along with his friends' words. Because, sure, while he was handed a sword at the age of fourteen and tasked with saving the world from an all powerful pig demon ,  that didn't mean all kids should be out killing monsters before the sun had set on their first decade.

The boy’s eyebrows furrow further, face now looking completely nonplussed. 

And then suddenly, his face shifts again, a look of clarity easing the confused tension in his expression, amethyst eyes beginning to flash with interest. 

“You’re not from here,” he says. It’s not a question. 

“Uh, no. We’re not, but–” 

“Then you’re travelers, I presume.” the boy cuts in, turning to more fully face the two heroes as his eyes light up even brighter, curiosity polishing the gems of his eyes into glinting facets. “How many kingdoms have you traveled to? Why have you come to Hyrule? Have you noticed any significant differences in georgraphica–”

“Okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down, one at a time,” Wild butts in, waving his hands slightly, as if he were dispelling the words from the very air. “Yes, we’re travelers, we’ve been to about eight kingdoms, and were in this Hyrule looking for a hero named Link.”

The boy blinks at that. 

And it's like a door slamming shut, the younger blonde’s expression closing off as the interest that had illuminated his eyes dims. His face hardens into impassive stone, painfully neutral. 

“Why are you looking for him?” the words cold, carefully measured. 

“You know him then?” Hyrule asks, picking up on the boy’s defensive behavior. One would only act that way if they cared deeply about the person in question. Cared about a stranger’s intentions toward them. “We need his help with something and need to speak with him as soon as possible.”

“Need help with what, exactly?” the kid asks, narrowing his eyes.

Wild and Hyrule share a look.

Because, really, isn't that the million rupee question?

Because, at this point, even they aren't sure what they're doing. They know they’ve been brought together by some sort of force powerful enough to punch rifts through time and space itself but they weren't clear on what this force was, or if its intentions were benevolent or not. 

There was no old man to tell them what they were supposed to be doing. No cryptic clues or helpful hints, no companion to give them some incentive.

They were just eight heroes from different eras suddenly shoved together by some weird twist of fate and expected to do... something.

But that isn't an answer. 

But Hyrule has no other to give.

So he tells the truth.

“We… don't actually know.” the traveler begins, letting out a soft sigh as his eyes meet the boy’s, a field of earnest hazel versus a sea of skeptical violet. “We… aren't sure what we’re doing or even why.”

A raised eyebrow from the boy and Hyrule lets out a humorless laugh in response.

“Yeah, I know, right? Sounds pretty stupid. But,” and Hyrule tries, he tries to make his words as full of conviction as possible. Full of steel but also full of simple, all encompassing warmth. “All I know for sure is that whatever it is we’re doing, we’re doing it for the good of others. And that’s worth looking a little stupid for. Or, at least, I think so.”

A beat of silence passes between them.

And then, for the first time since they’d met him, the kid smiles. 

It is small, barely an upturn of his lips, but it is soft and fond, the kid shaking his head slightly, as if dispelling a thought. Or perhaps a memory.

“You sound like my brothers,” the young blonde says, still smiling. “Idiots, the lot of them, but brave. Brave idiots.”

Hyrule watches as the kid’s smile turns sad. A breath in and a breath out and the expression is gone, the boy’s face once again a fond, half smile. 

“It sounds like you could use all the help you can get. I’ll tell you where you can find him. The Hero.”

Honestly, for how much they had done exactly the opposite of what their job was supposed to be, Hyrule is a little proud to find that he and Wild manage to procure the best information thanks to the help of the kid– Vio. 

And sure, they’re three hours late, but they’re not empty handed like Time and Wind, or soaked to the bone and with little more to show for it than rumors like Twilight and Warriors, or missing a tooth like Legend. 

It is mostly only thanks to them that the heroes set off south of town, Twilight in a new set of clothes (but his still damp fur plastered stubbornly to his back) and Wind happily admiring a now completed Kinstone thanks to Legend’s… souvenir. 

Before they know it, the group of heroes find themselves outside of the blacksmith’s forge that Hyrule and Wild had passed hours ago.

To think, if they had just stopped to ask for directions, they could have found the Hero with no muss, no fuss.

Oh well, Hyrule thinks, a touch of a smile pulling at his face. He always did prefer to do things the long way around. 

Time, ever the leader, pushes open the door, the rest of them following close behind and–

“You!” Twilight hisses,taking a slight aggressive step forward as he jabs a finger in the direction of a very familiar looking young blond boy sitting on top of the weapon shop's counter. And then addressing the other heroes, accusing point never dropping for a second, “That's the kid who dumped water all over me!”

“Uhhh, no,” Legend cuts in, sending a look Twilight’s way that clearly implied that the veteran thought the farm hand was being a moron, “Thats the kid from the bakery. The one who sold me the cake with rocks in it.”

And Hyrule wants to break in that, no, this is Vio. The one who fought off a bunch of mole monsters like it was nothing and who told them where they could find the Hero in the first place. The reason they were even here. 

Because its very clearly the same kid. Same diminutive height, same straight, shoulder length blonde hair, same headband holding the golden locks out of the kid’s face. 

And yet, at the same time, Hyrule can also distinctly tell that it's not the same kid. 

Because where Vio had been chilly politeness, bright curious eyes, and stone cold suspicion, this kid is all knowing grins, mischievous looks, barely contained anticipation. He’s also wearing a completely different outfit: a quadripartite tunic, four different colors sewed roughly together at their edges to make a very unique whole.

And apparently he’s been waiting for them, a bag already packed and sitting on the counter next to the kid.

“It sounds like you’ve met my brothers,” the boy says by way of greeting, smile never leaving his lips as he hops over the service counter, dragging his full bag with him.  “Sorry about them, they can be a bit of a handful. My name’s Link.”

A little laugh to himself, like there is some sort of inside joke here that no one seems to be in on except the boy himself.

“But something tells me I won’t be going by that for much longer,” the little hero continues.

A hearth warm smile. An air of confidence. A stone firm handshake. A tempest of energy.

“You guys can call me Four.”