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For Who Could Ever Learn to Love

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Once upon a time, a great evil, sealed away for many thousands of years, awoke to threaten a magical kingdom.

The kingdom was not without hope, for it had prepared for the evil’s return. Champions came from the four corners of the kingdom to oppose the evil, led by a beautiful princess who was said to be blessed with the power of a goddess, and the princess’s appointed knight, chosen to wield the legendary blade of light.

Though the evil was strong, the knight and the four Champions — aided by ancient, powerful machines — were able to contain its wrath. The princess awakened her divine power, and sealed the evil once more. But their triumph was not without loss.

Sensing its doom, the evil power lashed out with the last of its strength, and stole the knight from them. The blade of light was left masterless on the field of battle.

For a full year, the princess and the Champions searched the length and breadth of the kingdom for the knight, but could find no sign of him. On the anniversary of their greatest triumph and deepest loss, the princess and the Champions gathered to lay the blade of light to rest with the guardians of the forest, in the hope that the knight would one day return to reclaim it.

And so, the years passed.

 

About ten of them, to be precise.

 


 

There is a monster that lives atop Ploymus Mountain, to the east of Zora’s Domain.

It hasn’t always been there. But it’s been there long enough to have become a fact of life for the Zora. Prince Sidon can remember the day that Bazz and the others — all having hit their first growth spurts well before him, on account of being several years older, and therefore having left him behind — came back to the Domain in a panic, babbling about a beast. The guards who went to investigate returned with more dignity, but with grave faces and noticeably shaking hands.

A Lynel.

Golden-maned, equipped with a sword the size of a full-grown Zora and, more concerning, a quiver full of shock arrows. It was a miracle, the guards said, that they were able to escape with their lives once it noticed them. Several of them had close shaves; shock arrows practically grazing them as they fled down the mountain trail.

King Dorephan decreed Ploymus Mountain off-limits for the time being, placing a guard to watch the base of the mountain trail day and night. They would hope the beast moved on soon, and be wary should it choose to approach the Domain. But as time wore on, it became clear the beast had no intention of leaving.

Nor, though, did it stray closer to the Domain. It seemed content enough to remain on the mountain, and so the King’s decree stands.

Prince Sidon is currently breaking that decree.

Of course, that won’t be a problem once he kills the Lynel. He’s fairly certain that his father can’t possibly be upset about this minor bit of rule-breaking, once he returns to the Domain with the beast’s head. No, certainly not. Mipha may scold him for taking such a risk, but surely his father will be nothing but proud of him — finally proud of him — for ridding the Domain of the threat.

His confidence propels him through acquiring weapons from the armory, up the falls to Toto Lake and across Upland Zorana, neatly avoiding the guard on the east bridge.

His confidence wavers, however, when he finally sets eyes on the Lynel.

It’s a large beast; larger than Sidon had been expecting. Though the Zora do not ride horses, Sidon had, during his preparations, made a point of venturing across Toto Lake and into Akkala, where the road is frequented by Hylians on horseback. The texts in the library described and depicted Lynels as having the lower body of a horse, with a torso much like that of a Hylian, and cat-like, snarling faces.

Hylians on horseback were frequently as tall as Sidon, sometimes even taller, and so he had prepared himself for the fact that the Lynel would exceed his own height somewhat.

It does.

It must be at least a full head-and-a-half taller than himself — possibly even more; he can’t be certain from a distance. And it’s not only tall, it’s also simply massive; the Hylians’ horses are oddly delicate things, with their spindle-thin legs, but the Lynel’s limbs are as thick as the stout pine trees on the mountain.

Most of its body is a dark brown, shot through with stripes and splashes of yellow-gold. Its Hylian-like torso is muscular, though not as bulky as Sidon had expected based on the few illustrations he’d been able to find. (Perhaps the artists had simply exaggerated; Lynels are known to possess amazing strength, after all.) The equine portions of the Lynel are unarmored and unclothed, except for what appears to be a set of leather leg wraps around each of its shins; a glance shows that its forearms are similarly adorned. Unlike any Hylian Sidon has ever met, the Lynel covers its chest with just leather straps and a small metal plate over its heart. Its only other armor is a skirt-like fauld that protects the area that would be its groin, if it were a two-legged creature.

The Lynel’s most striking feature, though, is its mane — the same shining gold as its stripes, but full and thick, ruffling in the breeze and catching on its pale ivory horns. Its braided tail is the same brilliant gold; its face and the feathering just above its dark hooves are both the color of rich cream. The whole effect gives the beast an almost ethereal quality as the sunlight hits it.

The few books Sidon had been able to find that included any information about Lynels were clear that golden Lynels were by far the most dangerous, though they were scant on other details. The illustrations had made it look like such a creature would be all over gold, not brown with golden stripes, but he chalks that up to the artists’ exaggerations as well. Regardless of whether it matches the descriptions exactly, it certainly does not match the description of any other type of Lynel.

Still, he’s come this far already, and by his next hatching day, he’ll be the same age that Mipha was when she was chosen as Vah Ruta’s Champion. But unlike his sister, Sidon will have nothing particularly noteworthy to his name. Mipha is a hero to the entirety of Hyrule; Sidon surely has it in him to be at least a hero to his own people. To return with the head of a golden Lynel — now that will be worthy of a place in the great histories of the Zora!

Sidon takes a deep breath to steel his nerves, then grips his borrowed silverscale spear tightly and vaults up onto the open plateau.

 


 

Sidon hits the grass hard enough to knock the wind out of his lungs, the silverscale spear slipping from his hand. He tries desperately to reach for it, but an enormous black hoof pounds into the ground between his fingers and the shaft, and Sidon pulls back before he loses a hand. Not that it will make a difference, he realizes, as he tries to get to his feet and finds the task impossible, as the Lynel is standing over him, the blade of its enormous sword so close to Sidon’s face that his vision blurs when he tries to focus on it. He’s going to be too dead to worry about having hands, soon.

The deadly blade swings away from him, the Lynel pulling back to strike, and Sidon’s thoughts race between a probably-futile hope that it won’t hurt too much; wishing there was some way to apologize to Mipha; to his father. He shuts his eyes tightly and waits for the whistle of air splitting around the cutting edge of the Lynel’s sword.

A hand closes around his chest.

There is air moving, but it’s moving around him as he’s lifted, and there is sound, but it’s the Lynel’s hooves thumping against the ground, and Sidon opens his eyes just in time to catch a glimpse of the Lynel snorting as it tosses him off the side of Ploymus Mountain.

Sidon bounces off the rocks, then tumbles a fair distance, completely out of control, until he finally rolls to a stop. The Lynel had tossed him off the edge of its plateau, but along the side where the mountain trail winds up; he’s rolled only as far as the bend where the path curves toward Lulu Lake.

Perhaps the Lynel … forgot which side of the mountain it was? Sidon has no explanation.

He’s bruised and battered and more than a little shaken, but alive. He should thank Hylia for his good fortune, but he takes the moment to curse his own foolishness instead. He had been mad, to think he stood a chance against the beast. Perhaps it had taken pity on him? But Sidon has never heard of such a thing happening before.

Hoping that the sentry on the bridge wasn’t in a position to see his inelegant tumble, Sidon picks himself up and limps back to Toto Lake to tend to his hurts before slinking back to the Domain, resolved to never speak of this experience to anyone.

 


 

Sidon should stop thinking about it.

He should put it entirely out of his head, chalk the entire experience up to his own foolish, stubborn pride, and simply be thankful that he’s alive to do so.

But he can’t.

He’s very certain that not a single text he had consulted, prior to his attempt to kill the beast, ever mentioned a Lynel leaving its opponent alive. Very few texts (and the reports of the guards who had first investigated this particular Lynel; a fact Sidon rolls around in his mind many times) describe close escapes, but those were generally people who had accidentally wandered too close to a Lynel’s territory, spotted the beast before it spotted them, and been quick enough to flee.

There is only one way to survive a fight with a Lynel: kill it, before it can kill you. Or so it was believed.

Maybe this Lynel is defective???

Sidon closes yet another tome, and sighs.

 


 

His curiosity will be the end of him, Sidon knows, and he reminds himself of that fact as he swims up the waterfall to Toto Lake once more, only ten days or so since his last venture here.

This time, he is, if not more prepared, certainly differently prepared. He pats his belt pouch to ensure that the two vials inside remain intact. One hasty elixir, and one sneaky elixir, both the strongest formulations he could acquire off a traveling merchant who had come to trade at the Domain. They cost him quite a bit, and he’d had to be careful about making his purchase, to avoid questions about why he would need such things. He has still brought along a silverscale spear, and a silver longsword strapped to his back — just in case — but this time, his purpose is not combat.

This time, his purpose is reconnaissance.

There are a number of large, rocky outcroppings at the top of Ploymus Mountain; one quite close to the top of the trail. Sidon makes use of it — the back of the rock is quite close to the edge of the mountain, so it’s unlikely the beast will bother to cross behind. Sidon positions himself there, then carefully scales the side of the rock. It’s not particularly large, but climbing is not something that comes naturally to the Zora; it takes him a few tries to find crevices in the surface that will allow him purchase, and a comfortable position that will allow him to see over the edge.

More than once, Sidon is absolutely sure that the Lynel has spotted him. Even across the plateau, far enough away that he can barely make out the shape of its face, let alone see its eyes, there’s a power to its gaze that has Sidon ducking down for long minutes until he feels it’s safe to risk another glance over the rocks.

Still, Sidon perseveres. If he is unable to kill the Lynel, at the very least he may be able to add something to their knowledge of its habits; surely that would be a worthy contribution to their people?

The Lynel seems particularly active today.

Well.

All right, Sidon doesn’t know much about its normal habits, but it seems different than he’d expected.

The texts all note that it’s usual for a Lynel to spend the day patrolling its territory; that a Lynel’s primary concerns seem to be eating and defending its home, wherever it decides that is. This Lynel does seem to have a route it prefers to take around the plateau, but it’s more aggressive in its actions than any of the texts described. It stomps its hooves hard enough to shake the ground, roaring as if to challenge the sky itself (Sidon has heard its roars from the Domain, as all the Zora have, but he doesn’t recall ever hearing so many in a single day). A very stupid or very unlucky goat climbs up the far side of the mountain at one point, and doesn’t get far before the Lynel’s fire has roasted it, the beast devouring the meat right off the bone.

Toward the later part of the day, the Lynel begins to look his way more often, and Sidon’s nerves get the better of him. Saving the hasty elixir in case his first plan doesn’t work and he needs to make a quick escape, he downs the sneaky elixir in one gulp. The taste is revolting — the merchant had told him exactly which parts of a Hinox had gone into its creation, and Sidon promptly blocked the knowledge from his memory for reasons of self-preservation (that is, to avoid immediately regurgitating the elixir and thereby giving his position away to an angry Lynel) — but he forces it down. He feels something, and hopes it’s the elixir taking effect.

At first, Sidon thinks it hasn’t worked at all. Maybe he’d gagged too loudly? Because only a few moments later, the Lynel turns and heads directly for his hiding place; something it hasn’t done the entire time Sidon has been watching it.

Sidon feels nauseous with what is probably fear, but could also just be his stomach rejecting the elixir.

There’s a fleeting moment, as the Lynel passes by another rock formation, that its vision of the edge of the plateau is obscured, and Sidon takes the split-second opportunity to slip over the edge of the cliff, clinging to the nearly-sheer rock but (hopefully) out of sight. He’ll still be in quite a lot of trouble if the Lynel turns in just the right way, but… it doesn’t.

The Lynel comes around the rock that Sidon has been hiding behind all day, sniffing the air and peering at the spot where he’d been. But rather than looking over the side of the mountain where Sidon is clinging, it turns its head toward the mountain path, then sort of slumps, its broad shoulders curving downward like a racked bow. The Lynel turns toward Shatterback Point, and Sidon would swear the noise it made was a sigh, if it wasn’t for how the grass ignited under its fiery breath.

(In fairness, the Lynel itself seemed surprised by that, quickly stomping out the flames with its forehooves, and Sidon catches himself before he lets out a laugh that would surely get him killed.)

The Lynel heads up the trail toward the peak of the mountain at a pace that seems less like a walk than a trudge, and Sidon does something extremely stupid.

He can still feel what he’s fairly certain are the effects of the sneaky elixir, and there are plenty of places to duck out of sight along the way, so he follows the Lynel. He follows it up the path, until it passes the lone pine tree at the very top. Sidon doesn’t dare go any further than the edge of the last outcropping — there’s no cover after a certain point — and holds his breath, hoping that the Lynel doesn’t plan to simply turn around and go back the way it had come.

It doesn’t.

The Lynel simply flops, its legs collapsing under it and its belly hitting the rock with a smack that Sidon thinks must have been painful, but the Lynel doesn’t so much as flinch. It lowers its upper half as well, its chest down to the ground and its furry head resting against its folded forearms. The way it’s positioned, its arms are nearly at the edge of the Point, and it must have a perfect view of the Domain.

The sun is setting, the orange light settling in the Lynel’s mane and setting it ablaze. It lets out another sound like a sigh, ribs expanding slowly and then contracting all at once, and though Sidon thinks there may have been another gout of flame there, this time the fire expands over open air and bare rock and damages nothing. The Lynel’s tail lashes against the ground, and up against its haunches, not in any particular rhythm.

For all the world, Sidon would say that the Lynel looks … unhappy. Perhaps even miserable. Do Lynels get depressed? None of the books in the library mentioned anything about Lynels getting depressed, but then, they didn’t say anything about Lynels accidentally setting the grass on fire, so whoever had done the research for those books seems to have missed a few things.

(Or, as previously thought, this particular Lynel is defective somehow, but none of the books had mentioned that as a possibility either.)

Sidon slips away before his sneaky elixir wears off; just in time, too, as the strange feeling of it fades just as he comes into view of Toto Lake.

 


 

Sidon deduces several things from his adventure.

First, the Lynel had clearly known where he was.

Sidon is certain he hadn’t given himself away just as he drank the elixir, but the timing is suspect. The elixir is meant to dampen all trace of the user — cloak them in shadow, mask their scent and the sounds they make. It was just after he drank it that the Lynel had come to investigate; had come directly to the spot where Sidon had been hiding. It must have known he was there; possibly it had known he was there the entire afternoon, and came looking only when it couldn’t sense his presence anymore. That’s the first thing.

So. Given that Sidon was apparently not as stealthy as he believed himself to be, that meant everything it had done, the Lynel had done knowing that he was watching. But what exactly had it done? Nothing in particular, except perhaps roasting the poor goat, though Sidon is willing to allow that the Lynel may just have been hungry. If it weren’t for the constant threat of death, Sidon would have had rather a boring afternoon, watching the Lynel stomping about the place and doing all of that aggressive posturing—

Sidon pauses, mid-thought.

Posturing.

That’s what it was. Why the Lynel seemed so much more aggressive in its patrolling of its territory than Sidon’s books had led him to believe it would be.

The Lynel knew he was there, and so the Lynel was … putting on a show? Displaying itself as a threat?

But if its goal was to run him off, its reaction to finding him gone should have been triumph, or at the very least satisfaction. Instead, it accidentally set some grass on fire and retreated to Shatterback Point to — pout?

The pieces click together slowly, because the conclusion is utterly ridiculous. But it’s the only one Sidon can come up with that makes any real sense, no matter how outlandish it seems.

The Lynel knew he was there. The Lynel had postured and displayed its strength, roared its challenges. The Lynel had looked for him when he seemed to have gone. The Lynel went to mope at the top of the mountain, staring down at the Domain.

Had it… wanted him to come challenge it? Had it been waiting for him to jump out with his spear? Had Sidon disappointed it by not doing so?

Sidon slips into his sleeping pool that night and allows himself to sink fully under the surface of the warm water, contemplating the absurdity of it, and also how, no matter how outlandish it seems, it also feels correct.

He floats in the middle of his pool, thinking about the Lynel’s dejected flop.

Sidon clearly does not have the good sense Hylia gave a trout, because he finds himself wanting to make the Lynel feel better.

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

 


 

He checks that his hasty elixir is unharmed, and purchases a hearty elixir in the hope that he may be able to reach it in time, if his plan does not go as … planned.

Not that it’s much of a “plan,” really, given that it consists of precisely one step: Challenge the Lynel.

Again.

All right, there are really two steps, but step two is simply Don’t Die, and it’s the step Sidon has the least control over.

It’s a good five days since Sidon’s Lynel scouting expedition, and he spent far more of them than was reasonable wondering whether the Lynel was lonely. Either he’s right in his guesses about this Lynel, in which case he should survive this encounter, or he’s gone completely insane and the Lynel will finish him off before he can cement his reputation as Mad Prince Sidon. Of course, Sidon would prefer the first option.

If he were hunting it for real, Sidon would wait until he had an opportunity to strike the Lynel from behind; the advantage of surprise is not to be given up lightly. But his hope rests on the Lynel recognizing him, and that means giving up on stealth. Sidon does stay out of direct sight for a moment, just until he can spot the beast, but as soon as it turns so that it couldn’t possibly miss him, Sidon leaps out from the cover of the rocks, bringing his spear to bear, and charges forward, letting out a battle cry as he goes.

He’s got far enough to go that the Lynel has time to react, and react it does. For a moment it simply freezes where it stands, and then Sidon sees its jaw drop open slightly, its eyes widen in surprise. They’re a shocking shade of blue, a clear cerulean that reminds Sidon of Mipha’s precious Champion’s scarf, standing out in contrast to the milk-and-honey of its face and horns and golden mane.

Then those bright eyes narrow as the Lynel draws its terrifyingly large, wickedly curved sword, rearing up with a roar as it turns to meet Sidon’s charge head-on.

Sidon pours all of his focus into the fight; not that he hadn’t before, of course, but this time he’s not trying to strike a killing blow, and it changes the feeling of the battle considerably. He dodges the Lynel’s sword, swinging his spear around to quickly jab at the Lynel’s side, but doesn’t dig as deeply into the flesh as he could.

After the first two such exchanges, he’s not quick enough to dodge and the flat of the Lynel’s sword impacts just above his hip, hurling him backwards across the plateau to land in one of the shallow pools of water that dot the area. It takes him a moment to pull himself up, and in that moment Sidon realizes that this could be it — the Lynel has shock arrows; Sidon has seen them sticking out of the trees along the trail and around the edges of the plateau. One shot into the water here, and Sidon would certainly be done for.

But the shock doesn’t come, and when he gets to his feet and turns to face the Lynel once more, it’s… waiting. Sword still held ready, its hooves lifting and stomping back down but not moving from its general position until Sidon gets up and readies his spear.

He was right!

The Lynel could have cut him in half with that blow, or fried him to a crisp with a single arrow, or even simply stomped him to death with its hooves when he was still recovering from his tumble.

The Lynel charges as soon as Sidon displays his readiness, its teeth bared in what could be a threat or could be a grin, and Sidon can’t help but grin back as he dashes forward to meet it.

 


 

Sidon loses, of course.

And yet, despite his various aches and pains, and the fact that the Lynel had stolen the silver longsword off his back before dumping him off the side of the mountain again, Sidon is elated.

This fight had lasted much longer than the first, and Sidon isn’t conceited enough to think that he managed to improve his own skills so much in such a short amount of time. This time, the Lynel had been … not playing, exactly. More like guiding; slowing down just enough that Sidon could tell whether to block or parry or dodge. The fact that he’s once again a mass of bruises is a testament to the fact that he had made plenty of mistakes, but despite those mistakes he’s alive, and mostly unharmed, and moreover, it had been fun.

Sidon can’t stop smiling the whole way back to Toto Lake. Mipha gives him a searching look at supper that night, but he assures her that he simply had a good day, and she’s content to leave it at that.

Chapter Text

He goes back.

He goes back over and over again, as the weeks pass. The first time Sidon returns to the top of Ploymus Mountain, he sees that the Lynel has somehow incorporated the silver longsword into its own weapon, perhaps making it stronger? Certainly it looks even more wicked and dangerous. But still Sidon never feels its cutting edge. And, very slowly, he starts to feel its flat less often.

He never wins the fight, of course. But he can feel himself improving — his dodges are more nimble, his parries better timed. He leaves the mountain with fewer bruises.

Sidon’s weapon masters notice the change, as well.

He’s the prince, not a member of the Royal Guard, so he doesn’t join the trainees for their daily practices, no matter how much he’d rather do that than have private lessons with Sergeant Seggin. Across the grounds, Bazz and Tottika are roughhousing while Rivan laughs and Gaddison and Torfeau trade long-suffering looks. Across from Sidon, the Demon Sergeant ignores his son and the other trainees for the moment, charging at Sidon while he’s distracted.

It should be enough to knock him head over fins, and a few months ago it would have been. But that was before Sidon started spending an afternoon or two each week practicing his dodges and counterattacks against a creature even more intimidating than Sergeant Seggin. Sidon avoids the spear, somersaulting under the follow-through and spinning at the last moment to strike out with the haft of his own spear, catching Seggin behind the knees and bringing him crashing down to the ground.

He’s been practicing that move; only just perfecting it the prior week. Of course, on the Lynel the strike targets only a single ankle, but it had a similar effect when Sidon got the timing right: the Lynel’s leg had buckled, sending it off balance, and its own momentum had done the rest. When it recovered — perhaps five seconds later; a tremendous amount of time considering that its normal recovery is almost instantaneous — it had given him a deep nod and a low, rumbling growl that at first had Sidon worried. But then the Lynel flashed its teeth at him and readied its sword just as it had before its last charge, and Sidon revised his thoughts. As he pulled off the maneuver again, he realized that it wasn’t displeasure the Lynel was displaying. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was proud of him.

There is no pleased rumble in the training yard. Instead, a very loud silence descends as the Guard trainees realize what’s happened, stop their scuffling, and stare at the sight of Sergeant Seggin picking himself up off the ground.

Sidon would normally offer him a hand up, but he can’t bring himself to break the hush.

Seggin gets to his feet.

Dusts himself off.

Turns.

Seggin inspects Sidon with narrowed eyes, as if expecting some sort of trick. Sidon forces himself to wait it out; to not fidget under the Demon Sergeant’s glare. It’s not as hard as it used to be.

Finally, Sergeant Seggin slams the butt of his spear against the ground, the sound echoing off the stone walls. And he smiles, which is honestly quite terrifying.

“Well done, your Highness!” Seggin declares, and the silence lifts as soft whispers start up among the trainee Guards. Sidon’s chest begins to fill with pride.

“You’ve finally started taking your training seriously!” Seggin continues — sticking a metaphorical pin in the octo balloon of Sidon’s pleasure at the praise, even as Seggin claps him on the shoulder like a fellow soldier. The whispers around them grow louder; loud enough that Seggin turns to the trainees and snaps at them for their lack of attention to their own training.

Seggin makes Sidon repeat the move, over and over.

Sidon finds he liked the practice much better when the Lynel’s pleased rumble was his reward.


He and the Lynel have built up a rhythm, a simple dynamic that works. Sidon makes his way up Ploymus Mountain as often as he can sneak away — which, disappointingly, usually means once or twice in a week at most — and they spar until, presumably, the Lynel gets bored, or however it decides when to end the fight and dump Sidon back onto the mountain trail. (Sidon does not get much choice in the matter.)

It’s Sidon’s eagerness at fault, when all of that changes.

In his own defense, he had been kept away for the better part of two weeks by his lessons and his royal duties (such as they are; the presence of the second heir to the throne is in far less demand than the presence of his elder sister). So when the opportunity finally arose to slip away, Sidon hadn’t bothered to consult the clouds before doing so.

Rain is common across the Lanayru Great Spring, and Sidon thinks little of it as drops begin to sprinkle down. It makes the fight somewhat more challenging, as it’s more difficult to clearly see his opponent, but the rain has no visible effect on the Lynel except to darken its mane and drip off the tips of its fur, and Sidon is of course a Zora — a rainshower is very nearly nothing at all.

Sidon is focused on anticipating the Lynel’s next attack, readying himself to dodge, and is surprised when the charge doesn’t come. Instead, the Lynel stills, sniffing at the air and turning its head to scan the landscape around them. It rakes a forehoof over the ground, leaving a gouge in the dirt that quickly fills with water. Sidon drops his ready stance, holding his spear loosely at his side. The Lynel is clearly worried about something, and that’s strange in and of itself.

“What’s wrong, my friend?” Sidon asks, stepping forward with his free hand raised, palm open to show he doesn’t mean to attack.

It’s not until he’s doing it that he realizes there’s anything unusual about what he’s doing. And not until the words have escaped that he realizes what it is, in fact, that he’s actually done. First, that he’s spoken to the Lynel at all — is it strange that he hasn’t had reason to before? — and, more shockingly still, that the words my friend had slipped from his mouth as easy as breathing. It makes him pause, his steps stuttering and his raised hand falling a few inches.

Sidon would have second-guessed himself; would have turned himself in circles trying to determine if he’d overstepped in some way, and then trying to figure out why it felt so natural to overstep in the first place. He doesn’t do that.

He doesn’t get the chance.

The first bolt of lightning strikes just to the east, splitting the air with a booming crack that shakes the ground around them, and Sidon’s blood runs cold as he takes in the darkness of the clouds that have rolled in off the sea, hanging low and heavy overhead.

The smell of ozone assaults his senses, and the spear in his hand crackles with static, small sparks rolling off the blade and down the haft. Sidon stares at it. He didn’t know that could even happen. Whenever thunderstorms roll across Lanayru, Sidon has always been shuffled into the interior of the Domain, where Lord Ja’Abu’s tail redirects any lightning safely to the ground. Despite the pain of the tiny sparks falling onto his scales, he finds it an oddly beautiful sight.

The Lynel’s attack catches him entirely unaware.

He has only enough warning, as the ground thunders but the sky does not, to turn and see the Lynel charging at him on all six of its limbs (a charge he should have been able to dodge, so stupid to get distracted by some pretty lights!). Then it barrels into him at speed, knocking the air from his lungs as it catches him in its muscular arms.

The Lynel rips his spear from his hands, hurling it away, so Sidon fights with the weapons Hylia granted all of the Zora. His teeth dig deeply into the Lynel’s bicep, his claws into whatever he can reach — its forearm, he thinks, and perhaps its chest; anything that he can feel tear as he slashes at the beast. Sidon kicks his legs out furiously to try to loosen the Lynel’s hold, but it doesn’t budge at all, absorbing every bit of damage as though Sidon were a child having a tantrum, even as the scent of fresh blood thickens in the air.

Lightning crashes down, so close that its brightness is nearly blinding, and a nearby pine tree explodes with a sound like the end of the world, showering both Sidon and the Lynel in flaming splinters.

Sidon goes still from the shock of it, even his jaw loosening its hold in the Lynel’s flesh so that he can turn his head to see. His spear is sticking out of the remaining stump of the former tree, the metal glowing hot.

Metal.

Oh.

Oh, he is an idiot.

Sidon stops fighting the Lynel’s hold on him, just as he feels another of those sparks touch his scales. He looks down, to see the small static charges gathering around his arm guards, crawling across the scrollwork. Another spark catches him under the jaw, and one on his hip, where his belt hangs.

The Lynel sees it, too, and when Sidon looks up into its eyes, he can see the whites ringing the edges. There’s no other word for the expression on its feline face but panic, and Sidon feels a hysterical urge to laugh, because Zora armor doesn’t come off easily and it’s him, he’s the tree, oh Hylia he’s the tree

The Lynel’s arms tighten around him, clutching him to its chest, and the Lynel bolts, its hooves pounding the ground so hard that Sidon’s teeth rattle as the sparks continue to gather. Each one is so small, but there are so many and it hurts and Sidon doesn’t know how much more of it he can stand, but then, it won’t matter anyway in a few seconds—

The stinging stops as the sky splits open, just as Sidon finds himself smashed up against a rock wall by hundreds of pounds of Lynel, moving at full speed. The bolt crashes to the ground, with a roar — no, no, that’s the Lynel roaring, right into Sidon’s ear, and Sidon can smell burnt hair, burnt flesh, but not his own. Everything is a haze of confusion for a while, but very slowly the world begins to come into focus again.

Sidon is no longer in the rain. Instead, he’s surrounded by a cloud of damp fur, with the Lynel’s corded muscle pressing against him on all sides. Its arms are still around him, Sidon realizes, holding him to its chest. The outer layers of its mane are wet, but it’s wrapped around him so tightly that his face is somewhere in the under layers, where the fur is still soft and dry.

Sidon realizes that he’s shaking; that the Lynel can surely feel it. A part of him wants to scold himself for displaying so much weakness. The Lynel surely wouldn’t.

It’s not until the Lynel releases its hold, just a little, that Sidon realizes it’s shaking, too.

It peels Sidon off — Sidon is surprised to find it wasn’t just the Lynel holding him, but that he was clinging to its mane so hard that his knuckles ache when he finally forces himself to let go — and carefully looks him over, its hands gently stroking over his scales while its bright eyes focus intently, as if it’s convinced that he must be hiding some hurt.

“I’m unharmed,” he tells it, and its face is shockingly close to his, its great curved horns bracketing the two of them together, eyes still startlingly blue despite the darkness of the thunderstorm and the shadow of the rocky alcove under which the Lynel has deposited him. “Thank you.”

The Lynel nods.

Sidon nearly falls over, though all there is to fall into, at the moment, is some part or other of the Lynel itself.

He nearly falls again when the Lynel headbutts him, its forehead against his crest. It’s a recognizably affectionate gesture, even if it does hurt a bit; Zora crests are sensitive organs. But then, for a creature of its size, he doesn’t know that it’s possible for the Lynel to be any more gentle than it had been.

“You— You can understand me?” Sidon asks, and the Lynel nods again, the edges of its mouth curling upward. There are a lot of large, sharp teeth on display (not that Sidon has room to talk, when it comes to teeth, but the Lynel’s are rather … huge). Even as intimidating as the sight of it is, the expression is definitely a smile, not a snarl.

Sidon doesn’t even bother to try to hide his excitement.

“Can you speak?” he asks excitedly, anticipating what the Lynel’s voice will sound like, but the Lynel’s smile fades and it shakes its head, its golden mane throwing water droplets in Sidon’s face. It makes a noise Sidon has never heard before, somewhere between a growl and a roar, its jaw moving as it chuffs at him.

“You … can speak in Lynel, but not Hyrulean?” Sidon suggests. The Lynel pauses, considering, and Sidon gets the impression that it doesn’t quite agree, but it gives him an affirmative nod anyway.

And then it licks him, its pink sandpaper tongue scraping over the scales of his crest. The feeling it sends down his spine is very— unexpected, to say the least. The Lynel licks along the line his headfin, until its tongue sticks on the feather of his aigrette. The aigrette comes off as the Lynel tries to pull its tongue back, making discontented noises as it tries to spit the feather out, its nose scrunched up and its tongue flicking out. Sidon can’t hold in his laughter as he rescues his aigrette, peeling the feather off the Lynel’s tongue, and earns himself another gentle headbutt and a grumpy little growl for his trouble.

Sidon reaches out instinctively, burying his hand in the Lynel’s thick mane and giving it a scratch. He startles at the sudden, thunderous noise that fills the hollow of the rock, before realizing that it’s coming from deep in the Lynel’s chest. A glance reveals that its eyes have slipped closed, and it’s purring. Sidon drops his aigrette, dedicating both hands to the task of giving scritches, and the Lynel rolls its head back lazily, letting him access the sides of its neck and under its chin.

Its pulse beats under his fingertips, and for a moment a nasty little voice rises up in the back of his mind, reminding him of the honors that would certainly be bestowed on him if he were to return to the Domain with the Lynel’s head — his claws are sharp, and already at its throat; it wouldn’t take much.

As soon as the thought passes through, Sidon feels ill. He banishes it, wills it away and refuses to dwell on it any further, and clutches the Lynel’s furry head closer to his chest.

The thought of doing harm to the Lynel now — actual harm, not the scrapes and bruises of a good sparring match — is utterly repugnant. Knowing that it understands him, that it protected him, makes it even more so. The rain has dampened the charred smell, but Sidon is fairly certain that the Lynel had been struck by the lightning bolt that otherwise had been aimed, quite literally, at his throat. Its hindquarters are still sticking out into the rain, Sidon realizes, finally able to see beyond all that golden fur to peer over the Lynel’s shoulders. The rain is sheeting down, and he can hear the crash of lighting out on the plateau, and this outcropping of rock is probably just large enough to fit the Lynel alone.

Instead, it has Sidon between its forelegs, arms still wrapped around him, keeping him boxed in to the deepest part of the shelter, where the lightning can’t reach. Sidon is surrounded by the smell of warm, damp mammal, the Lynel’s breath hot against his scales and the downy underlayers of its mane soft against his hands. Up close, its purring is loud enough to drown out the roar of the rain. He’s got the most dangerous creature in all of Hyrule wrapped around him, and yet, Sidon hasn’t felt so protected since he was a child.

The Lynel eventually — gently — shakes off his scratching, and releases its hold on him just a bit. Enough that he can settle himself, anyway; the Lynel has its hooves tucked up under it, and Sidon ends up sitting on one of its folded forelegs. The Lynel doesn’t seem to mind his weight at all.

There’s not much room; the Lynel has him fairly well corralled, but Sidon doesn’t argue the point or try to leave the area that the Lynel has apparently deemed safe. There is still lightning crashing down around the plateau, and the Lynel knows the mountain better than Sidon does. And, truthfully, Sidon isn’t very inclined to move anyway.

The Lynel looks down at him, its face a bit further away, but that’s helpful. Sidon needs a moment to collect his thoughts. He has so many questions!

He had consulted every book he could find with any information about Lynels, but none of them contained even a rumor that anyone had ever spoken to a Lynel before. Most interactions consisted, as far as the books had it, of pained screams. It’s very possible that he’s the first person to ever sit down to have a conversation with one.

Sidon decides to start simply.

“What’s your name? Do Lynels have names?”

The Lynel nods, then makes a huffy sort of growling noise and crinkles its nose up, looking quite grumpy.

Ah. Sidon translates that face as an explanation that the Lynel does have a name of some sort, but not one it’s able to communicate to him.

“Is it … Should I just call you ‘Lynel,’ then? Or would that be strange?” It feels strange.

It feels stranger still when the Lynel shrugs, its muscular shoulders rising and falling. It’s a Hylian gesture, and so unexpected that Sidon is left speechless. Had the Lynel spent time around Hylians in the past? It seems unlikely, but then, the Lynel must have been somewhere before it came to live on Ploymus Mountain.

In the wake of Sidon’s silence, the Lynel raises one hand, poking its finger against Sidon’s chest and tilting its head quizzically.

It takes Sidon a moment to translate the gesture, and then he feels very stupid indeed.

My— Sidon! My name is Sidon,” he tells it, and the Lynel’s eyes widen a little, like it’s surprised — why would it be surprised? There’s no reason the Lynel should know his name. But then it gives him another smile and a pleased rumble, and all of Sidon’s other questions begin to tumble forth like a rockslide, and he doesn’t think to ask any more about it.

Sidon peppers it with questions — some of which it obviously can’t answer, because Sidon forgets to phrase them as yes-or-no.

But some, the Lynel gets creative with.

Sidon asks about the children; the Lynel had been known to attack the ones who tried to sneak up to Shatterback Point. (Even as he asks, it occurs to Sidon that, just possibly, everyone should have paid as much attention to the children’s universally “miraculous” escapes as they had to their being attacked in the first place.) In response, the Lynel lifts its hand high, then makes a sudden diving motion, all the way down to the ground, where it crumples its fingers into a fist. It repeats the motion again when Sidon doesn’t immediately understand, but Sidon is quickly getting the hang of translating the Lynel’s thinking.

Dive. Splat.

“Because they could get hurt, diving from Shatterback Point?” Sidon tries. “Because it’s dangerous?” and the Lynel nods, and oh, how could they all have been so wrong about it, for so many years??

There’s an entire sequence of pantomime when Sidon asks what the Lynel spends its time doing up on the mountain by itself. Sidon doesn’t say out loud that he thinks it must be very dull — he doesn’t want to insult the Lynel, if the answer really is basically nothing. But. Well.

The Lynel shifts, turns until it can look out into the rain, and waits. Sidon looks as well, not sure what the Lynel is looking for, but then it points at a crevice in the rocks, and when Sidon focuses on it, he can make out the shape of a hightail lizard sheltering there. The Lynel mimes a spear strike at the lizard, and Sidon laughs.

“Lizard hunting? Really?”

The Lynel grumbles, shaking its head, then it pauses. It nods, then shrugs, then shakes its head again, and Sidon really can’t make fins or tails of it until the Lynel sticks its tongue out at him.

It is, quite honestly, adorable, and Sidon quickly commits the image to memory. And then it occurs to him, when the Lynel does it again, that the tongue is part of the pantomime

“Lizalfos!” he nearly shouts, pleased with having come to what he’s sure is the correct answer. “You hunt Lizalfos?”

The Lynel’s toothy grin and rumble of approval confirms it, and it makes so much sense that Sidon can’t believe no one in the Domain had realized it before. The Lynel is such an obvious explanation for why they’ve had so few problems with Lizalfos in Upland Zorana over the past few years.

Sidon’s self-satisfied smile fades as the enormity of it begins to dawn on him.

He had first climbed the trail up Ploymus Mountain with the intent of killing the Lynel and bringing its head back as a trophy, to prove himself. When the Lynel is spoken of at all, the Zora speak of it as a bloodthirsty monster; a beast that should be put down for the safety of all. And the whole time; all the years its made its home above the Domain, it’s been… protecting them.

Sidon is quiet for a long while, thinking of every tale he’s heard of the Lynel, and how very glad he is that he was nowhere near skilled enough to kill it on that first venture.

The Lynel takes the opportunity to groom itself, running its fingers through its mane to clear any snarls left by the rain and their flight to their small refuge, then raising its arm and licking, cat-like, at the mirrored semi-circles of puncture wounds on its bicep.

Wounds left by his teeth, Sidon recalls, in those horrible moments before he understood what the Lynel had done for him, and had fought with tooth and claw against what he had interpreted as violence. There are long gouges carved into the Lynel’s abdomen as well, and its chest — Sidon had fought hard, even if only for a few moments. The wounds have already scabbed over, but when Sidon focuses his senses he can smell the fresh blood beneath.

“I’m so sorry,” he says, interrupting the Lynel mid-lick, and it looks at him curiously.

“I injured you,” Sidon explains, gesturing to the wound that the Lynel was just cleaning. “I’m terribly sorry, my friend; I should not have—” but the Lynel is already purring. It cuts him off with another headbutt, and Sidon subsides.

“I cannot possibly thank you enough,” he says quietly. “You saved my life.”

He thinks the Lynel shakes its head at that, but proximity turns the motion into a nuzzle. The Lynel licks him again, right from his crest to the dorsal ridge of his headfin with no feather to interfere, this time, then shoves its face into Sidon’s chest, purring. He gives the Lynel a scratch at the base of one of the curved ivory horns that are bracketing his ribs now, and oh, the way the Lynel’s purr deepens at that. Sidon curls over so that he can press his crest against the top of the Lynel’s head, getting his hand up to the other horn and indulging the Lynel in all the scritches it wants.

They wait out the rest of the storm like that, wrapped around each other, enjoying the closeness. (So much soft fur! Sidon’s eyes have truly been opened to the appeal of mammals.)

When the clouds have passed over, the clearing sky reveals the last light of late sunset. Sidon’s ventures have never taken him away from the Domain for so long; surely someone will be looking for him. He feels strangely guilty about leaving the Lynel, though it’s been on its own for so long and been just fine.

Or perhaps not just fine, as the Lynel is strangely tentative, keeping a bit of distance as Sidon straightens his aigrette and retrieves his spear (slightly blackened) from the tree out on the plateau.

“I will come back as soon as I am able to get away,” he tells it. The Lynel’s posture relaxes slightly as it nods, grinning with all those fangs, and Sidon shows his own teeth in return, and it feels good, even if he’s sad to be leaving.

It also feels good to be leaving under his own power, rather than being unceremoniously dumped over the edge of the plateau.


Sidon has to do some fast talking when Mipha rushes up to him on his return to the Domain. Thankfully she only berates him a little for making her worry so much, disappearing on them like that, and in the middle of a thunderstorm!

Sidon explains about the small cave, but not the Lynel, or the fact that he’d nearly been burnt to a crisp. Her shocked cry when she sees his spear forces another round of quick thinking — he’d dropped it, found it like this after the storm, he’s completely unharmed.

Still, she barely lets him out of her sight for the rest of the night, and checks in on him frequently in the following days.

Sidon wishes he could simply enjoy his sister’s company. Mipha used to have much more time for him, before she became a Champion, and then began in earnest to prepare for her eventual ascension to the throne. Under other circumstances, Sidon would be pleased by the opportunity to spend so much time with his beloved sister. Instead, he chafes under her scrutiny. He can’t help but think that the reason for her attention now is that she still sees him as a youngling in need of minding, and not as a capable Zora in his own right.

He fulfills his duties, attends his lessons, and allows his thoughts, at least, to frequently travel to the east.

Chapter Text

After the revelations of that stormy afternoon, things get easier in some ways (at least once Sidon is no longer under constant sisterly surveillance). He doesn’t have to worry about bringing weapons strong enough to give him a fighting chance, should the Lynel attempt to kill him in earnest. Not that he’s been overly concerned about it, since their fights turned more into sparring matches, but there was still a chance.

Now, the Lynel has confirmed that it means no harm to any of the Zora, perhaps most especially Sidon (though the Lynel hadn’t precisely communicated that part), and that it enjoys their sparring sessions. Which means Sidon doesn’t have to worry about bringing older spears and swords of the sort that won’t be missed quite as easily as the fine silverscale weapons.

It also means that the Lynel’s teaching becomes even more overt; it will use the same attacks over and over, gesturing to show Sidon how best to counter each, then drill him on it at speed until he can do it without thinking.

Sidon truly hates this sort of thing when it’s his weapons masters, whose approaches vary. There are the ones who expect much of him, who tend to yell when he makes mistakes; and there are the ones who expect nothing much of him at all, who will simply sigh long-sufferingly, with the implication that an addled Lizalfos would be a more adept pupil.

The Lynel does neither. It simply repeats, forcing him to try again and again until he gets it right, and passes no judgment on how many times it takes. Each success, whether it took Sidon two tries or twenty, is met with the Lynel’s proud rumbling purr and approving nod, and it’s by far the best motivation he’s ever been given.

There is only one of the Lynel’s lessons that Sidon hates.

He gets that approving rumble, one afternoon when he manages to parry the Lynel’s charge and get a strike in with the butt of his spear, right between its eyes. It reels, falling to its knees and blinking, taking a moment to shake off the blow, and Sidon puffs up with pride even before the Lynel recovers enough to give him a nod.

Sidon expects it to charge again, to make him repeat the maneuver, but instead the Lynel stumbles, falling to its knees as if stunned, and gestures for Sidon to approach. As soon as he’s within range, the Lynel simply picks him up and moves him, placing him alongside the barrel of its equine body.

It takes an embarrassingly long time to figure out what the Lynel wants him to do, because Sidon had never once thought about riding the Lynel. Because the Zora don’t ride horses, he’d never learned that particular skill the way Hylians do. And, for another, the thought of anyone riding a Lynel as if it were a mere beast of burden is ludicrous — moreso, now that Sidon knows the Lynel to be a sentient creature. He would no more expect to saddle a Rito.

But it seems that is exactly what the Lynel wants him to do, as expressed in its exasperated nudges, so Sidon carefully figures out how to get onto its back and, eventually, manages it.

The Lynel shakes him off easily, and Sidon goes sprawling onto the dirt, but the Lynel just stands, then pretends to be stunned once more, and gestures the way it does when it means try again. Sidon does. He does it over and over again, until he can hop up on the Lynel’s back in no time at all, even with his spear in hand. He doesn’t quite know why the Lynel finds this skill important — does it mean to carry him on its back like this? Now that the thought has occurred to him, Sidon finds it a bit exciting.

Sidon finally mounts it perfectly, even managing to land correctly when the Lynel throws him off, and the Lynel rumbles its approving purr at him. Then it repeats the sequence once more, dropping to its knees. Sidon takes his cue to leap onto its back, preparing himself to practice being thrown off, or perhaps for the Lynel to move, this time. But the Lynel doesn’t throw him off.

Instead, it reaches behind its back and finds Sidon’s spear arm, guiding it until the tip of the spear is pointed first to the base of its own skull, and then moving it lower, until it points to a spot just to the left side of its spine, between two ribs.

Sidon recoils as if the Lynel had struck him a physical blow.

He slips off its back and stumbles away a few paces, dropping his spear to the grass. He feels sick.

The Lynel simply stands there, having risen to its feet once again, and looks at him, its expression serious but not angry.

Waiting.

Sidon forces himself to take a deep breath, and then another, until the queasiness subsides a little. He meets the Lynel’s eyes, still so bright despite what it had just taught him.

“That’s,” Sidon swallows hard. “That’s how you kill a Lynel?”

The Lynel nods, not breaking its gaze from his. Still waiting.

“A blow to the face,” he explains, voice shaky, but the Lynel bobs its head a little, continue, so he does. “Then mount while it’s stunned and pierce the base of the skull or the heart.”

The Lynel gives him another nod, deeper, and that rumbling purr.

“I’ll... remember,” Sidon says, because he can’t think of what else to say.

If he wished to —

His skills have grown to the point that he could, likely, stun the Lynel if that was his aim. And now it has taught him how to turn such a thing to his ultimate advantage. What he thought he wanted, when he first came up the mountain, is now within his grasp; Sidon could kill the Lynel, if he set his mind to it. The thought makes the queasy feeling return, and he doesn’t know how to explain that he doesn’t think he can spar anymore today.

The Lynel seems to understand, or at least to sense how out-of-sorts Sidon feels. It sinks to its knees again, but this time it folds its hooves beneath it, lowering itself gently and reaching out to pull Sidon close.

He buries his face in its mane, where he can feel the Lynel’s living heat, its pulse, feel its chest rise and fall against his own.


Other than that, though. Other than that one lesson, Sidon finds that he enjoys himself more up on the mountain with his Lynel than just about anywhere else. Despite its lack of speech, the Lynel is incredibly expressive, once he’s learned how to interpret its mannerisms and gestures. And, moreover, it seems endlessly entertained by Sidon’s stories about life in the Domain, and the petty squabbles of his father’s council over this or that.

He can’t quite parse the Lynel’s reactions when he speaks about Mipha. It does react, but in a way that it never seems to do in relation to anything else. It doesn’t ever seem displeased to hear about her, nor exactly pleased either. Mipha regularly visits Vah Ruta in its resting place in the East Reservoir Lake, almost directly beneath Shatterback Point. The Lynel, from its high perch, must have seen her from time to time, and from Sidon’s stories alone, it must have realized who she is. But it seems take pains to remain aggressively neutral when Sidon speaks of her.

(Sidon often wonders how much the Lynel knows about the fight against the Calamity — it seems uncomfortable when Sidon mentions it, and he wonders if the Lynel had some role in the fight. If it did, it was likely not on the side of the Champions, though Sidon has spent many hours puzzling over how, if that were the case, the Lynel came to be a benevolent protector of Zora’s Domain only a few years later. )

For the most part, though, the Lynel is content to listen attentively to Sidon’s recitations of the current troubles of the Domain. Silly things, for the most part; the most dramatic event of the last week had been complaints that the general store was overcharging for sizzlefin trout.

Sidon doesn’t expect anything different, when he relays the newest event — the heads of the Royal Guards and the elders of the Council have spent the last several days in heated debate because a Hinox has decided to make its home in Upland Zorana; at Ralis Pond, on the opposite side of the horseshoe-shaped ridge from Ploymus Mountain. The guards, of course, want to send a force to dispatch the creature; the elders want to leave the Hinox alone and hope that it wanders away again soon.

It’s a nice day; the sun is shining but there’s a cooling breeze off the ocean to the east, and by mutual assent, their sparring hadn’t been very strenuous. Sidon relates the story as they’re both resting comfortably in the soft grass, the Lynel’s equine shoulder serving as a backrest, so he’s somewhat confused when the Lynel shifts, dislodging him, and pulls out its bow, checking the weapon over. It seems to find everything to its satisfaction, because it then completely dislodges Sidon as it stands and trots over to the boulder that conceals its stockpile of weapons and various other things. The Lynel exchanges its sword for another — one that looks even more deadly — and retrieves a few arrows that it adds to its quiver. Sidon spots the red and yellow fletchings; the latter, especially, still make him nervous.

It replaces the boulder and trots back over to Sidon, dropping to its knees and gesturing for him to mount, and for a moment, Sidon can’t breathe, can’t think.

The Lynel immediately gets to its hooves, reaching out and picking Sidon straight off the ground to cuddle him to its face. It presses its forehead to his crest, nuzzling him and purring loudly, until Sidon calms down and scratches at the base of its horns a bit, reassuring it that it’s fine, that he’s fine, he just thought — he didn’t know what to think.

When the Lynel finally puts him down, it takes a step back from him and … winks?

No. Just closes one eye, staring at Sidon with the other, and proceeds to stomp its forelegs slowly, one after the other. When it opens its eye again, it unslings its bow from its back and gestures with it; northward, in the general direction of Ralis Pond.

“The Hinox— You want to fight the Hinox!?” Sidon splutters, genuine in his shock. He shouldn’t be surprised, perhaps, knowing that the Lynel spends much of its time patrolling the cliffs for Lizalfos. It’s certainly a strong and capable fighter, as well. But Hinoxes are the largest monsters to infest Hyrule, and not to be taken lightly even by skilled warriors.

The Lynel grins down at him, nodding its head in pure excitement, and Sidon couldn’t possibly argue against the idea, after that. A few pantomime exchanges, and Sidon understands the Lynel’s intent — that Sidon should come with it, and that they’ll travel much faster relying on the Lynel’s four hooves than traveling at Sidon’s slower overland pace.

(It makes this point by making a running leap over Sidon’s head, landing smoothly on the far side of the plateau as if it were nothing, and chuffing at him when Sidon rolls his eyes at its antics.)

This time, when the Lynel kneels down, Sidon mounts up, then takes a moment to figure out how to hold on around the Lynel’s weapons. He ends up digging his claws into the thick leather straps that wrap around the Lynel’s torso.

“I am ready,” he tells it, when he feels that he is.

He’s ready for the Lynel to take off across the highlands; he’s not ready for the Lynel to throw its head back and roar, so loudly it even seems to shake the nearby trees.

The sound is loud and angry, the Lynel’s territorial roars that Sidon knows from experience will carry all the way down to the Domain. The Zora on the outskirts are probably already running, terrified, to seek the shelter of the Domain proper.

Ah.

“Clever,” he notes aloud, and the Lynel can’t turn its head far enough to fully look at him, but it peers over its shoulder and Sidon can tell it’s grinning.

Then it looks forward, and takes off running.


Sidon has swum up all the waterfalls of the Domain, and dived from their great heights. Nevertheless, clinging to the Lynel’s back as it gallops across the highlands, its hooves thundering against the ground, is by far the most exhilarating experience of Sidon’s entire life. He has no control at all, neither of speed nor direction; all he can do is hold on tightly and marvel at the Lynel’s speed.

It clears Toto Lake in a single jump — Sidon can feel the power gathering in its hindquarters and releasing all at once as it springs forward off the very edge of the small cliff that borders the lake. There is a moment of stomach-churning weightlessness, a sudden silence interrupting the regular drumming of hoofbeats, and Sidon can’t help but let out a whoop at the sheer thrill of it before the force of the landing on the other side knocks the breath from his lungs.

The Lynel seems almost gleeful after that, making little jumps from rise to rise, nearly prancing at times, and Sidon would warn it off of getting a big head about it, but honestly, Sidon thinks that if he could move like this, he would be doing it all the time. It’s suddenly unfathomable that the Lynel is content to simply live on the plateau above the Domain as it does, when it could be running like this across the length and breadth of Hyrule.

They arrive at Ralis Pond faster than Sidon thought was even possible, the Lynel slowing its pace as they approach, and it hushes Sidon when he starts to ask why. The reason becomes obvious, anyway, as they come around the bend of the upland cliffs and the pond comes into view.

The Hinox is an enormous black bulk, snoring loudly as it sleeps at the edge of the water. Taking in the sheer size of it — bigger even than the Lynel, by some measures — Sidon can see why there was so much fuss about its arrival within the borders of the Lanayru Great Spring.

The Lynel doesn’t seem particularly nervous, however, which soothes some of Sidon’s immediate anxiety. It stops a good distance away from the monster, letting Sidon dismount, then turns his attention to the Hinox, pointing at it. Sidon does his best to follow the direction of the pointing.

“The head,” he says, keeping his voice low, “and the feet? Those are the weak points?”

The Lynel shakes its head, pointing first at its own eyes, then at Sidon’s, and then once more at the Hinox. Tell me what you see.

Sidon looks more closely at the Hinox, and thinks he understands what it is the Lynel wanted him to see. He describes, in a whisper, the necklace strung around the monster’s neck, festooned with weapons — Hylian, by the look of them; the Zora don’t work much with gold —- and the odd plates strapped to its thin legs. The Lynel nods, lifting its sword and tapping the flat of the blade with its knuckles as Sidon finishes describing them.

“Metal?” Sidon confirms, and the Lynel gives him a soft purr of approval before picking him up and moving him a few feet to the right, pressing on his chest with one broad palm. Stay. It gestures again to its eyes, to Sidon’s, to the Hinox. Watch.

Sidon nods, and does not move. Satisfied, the Lynel leans down to give him the gentlest headbutt it can (still too hard, but Sidon has decided he will never tell it so) before turning to face the Hinox, its braided tail lashing in what Sidon realizes is pure anticipation and excitement, not any kind of nervousness.

The Lynel trots some distance away from Sidon’s position, around the curve of the clearing, leaving Sidon with a clear view of both Lynel and Hinox.

Then it pulls out its bow, and shoots a single arrow directly into the Hinox’s round belly.

The Hinox stops snoring, and Sidon’s breath catches as it lumbers to its feet with a snort of displeasure, its bulbous eye casting around for the source of the pain and finally settling on the Lynel.

(That the towering creature doesn’t immediately flee at the sight of his friend confirms to Sidon that the Hinox is not particularly intelligent.)

The Lynel simply nocks another arrow, this time aiming more carefully; it catches the Hinox directly in its strange, glowing eye. The monster cries out, clutching at its face and falling down onto its rump, and the Lynel takes the opening to swap weapons, charging forward to slash at the Hinox’s unprotected belly with its sword before circling back to a distance as the Hinox pulls itself to its feet once more.

This time, the Lynel nocks one of its yellow-fletched arrows, and Sidon has to fight to suppress a shudder. He glances at his feet, just to be sure he isn’t standing in water, and realizes the Lynel had set him very precisely on a stretch of bare rock. Sidon turns his attention back to the fight in time to see the arrow loosed. The arrow flies low, and in the split-second of its travel Sidon wonders why the Lynel would bother with such a shot, until the arrow strikes the metal plates and the Hinox convulses, it’s limbs jerking wildly as the electricity of the shock arrow surrounds it. It falls down again, the Lynel swoops in for another sword blow before it can rise.

After that, the Lynel simply repeats its first maneuver, over and over — the arrow to its eye, the strikes at the belly while the Hinox is stunned. Sidon is forced to revise his first thought — the Hinox is not entirely stupid. It finally learns to cover its eye with its hands, but the cracks between its fingers as it peers out to find its target are more than big enough for the Lynel’s sharp eyes and precise aim. A few rounds of the same, and the Hinox falls for good, its collapsing bulk shaking the ground as it lands.

The Lynel roars — triumphant, this time; joyful — and Sidon claps his appreciation as it trots back over to fetch him.

“Well done, my friend! Simply amazing!”

The Lynel grins at him, but then gestures to the eyes again, and Sidon nods his understanding.

“That’s how you kill a Hinox. Keep to a distance. Shoot the eye to stun it, and strike at the body when it falls. The metal it uses to shield its legs makes it vulnerable to electricity,” he adds, “Not that it’s much help to a Zora, unfortunately.”

Sidon gets an approving rumble and another headbutt before the Lynel moves off a ways, stripping some bark from a nearby tree with its claws. It returns to lay the bark over the metal plates on the Hinox’s legs, then pulls out a red-fletched arrow from its quiver and points it at the strip of bark.

“Bark? No, wood. Sometimes they make their armor from wood, not metal, so you burn it instead?” Sidon works out, then a moment later, “Ah, that’s why you brought both shock and fire arrows!”

It’s certainly an experience, to be on the receiving end of the Lynel’s affectionate nuzzles right next to the body of the recently-deceased Hinox, but Sidon finds he doesn’t mind.

“You’ve fought a lot of Hinoxes, then?” Sidon asks curiously, and the Lynel nods in confirmation.

“Incredible! Really, you are truly magnificent!” he gushes, unable to help himself. It had been a masterful engagement; the Hinox had never so much as grazed the Lynel’s fur the entire time. The Lynel doesn’t have gills to flutter, or feathers to fluff, and its face is covered with downy fur that makes it impossible to tell if it flushes like a Hylian, but Sidon gets the feeling that it would be doing one of those things, if it could.

As it is, the Lynel turns to pluck the weapons off the Hinox’s necklace. A broadsword, halberd, and a bow, all in the intricate gold of the Hylian royal guards. The Lynel inspects the items, giving an overall impression of disapproval that mystifies Sidon. The weapons aren’t the preferred style of the Zora, but the Hylians’ craftsmanship is generally well-regarded. Strange.

Finally, the Lynel simply hands the weapons to Sidon, who isn’t entirely sure what to do with them.

“I don’t think that I’ll be able to ride and hold all of these,” he admits. The halberd is weighted differently than his usual spear, and it tries to slip out of his grasp as he juggles the items.

Instead of a useful answer, the Lynel points toward the other side of the pond, where a natural trail begins to lead down to the Veiled Falls and eventually to the Domain proper, and gives Sidon a light nudge that gives the halberd its opportunity to escape.

“I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your meaning,” Sidon explains as he retrieves it. “I can’t possibly just bring these to the Domain; there would be all sorts of questions as to how I came to be in possession of weapons of the Hylian royal guards.”

The Lynel thinks for a moment, then turns Sidon until he’s facing the Hinox once more. It mimics the swing of a blade, then points at the broadsword, chuffing until Sidon puts the other weapons down and holds the sword at the ready. When it “swings” again, Sidon copies it, though he doesn’t actually strike the Hinox’s corpse. Seeming pleased by this, the Lynel gives him a short purr and pushes him again toward the Domain.

Finally, Sidon thinks he understands, and immediately feels indignant, his gills flaring.

“I’m not taking credit for this!” he declares, though the Lynel merely huffs at him. “I didn’t even participate, other than as a spectator. You’re the one who did all the work.”

The Lynel gives him what may be the most expressive Look he’s ever seen from it, managing to clearly convey that, at that moment, it thinks Sidon is an idiot. It gestures to itself, then toward the Domain, and cocks its head and … Well. It does have a point. The citizens of the Domain would probably not throw open their arms in welcome if the hated and feared Lynel of Ploymus Mountain were to simply walk into their midst, even if it had taken care of their Hinox problem for them.

But still. Sidon can’t possibly take credit for this himself, even if it would be the sort of accomplishment he’s dreamed about for so long — no one would dare think him useless, if he’d slain a Hinox in single combat! But he hasn’t done that. Sidon manages to explain it, the wrongness of it; that he wants respect, yes, but only on his own merits, and the Lynel purrs at him, pulling him in for an apologetic headbutt.

In the end, the Lynel carries both the weapons and Sidon back around Upland Zorana, storing the items in its cache under the boulder.

He stays for a while after that. There’s still many hours of daylight left in the afternoon, so Sidon spoils the Lynel like it should be spoiled, after a fight like that. Sidon rests beneath one of the scraggly pines and the Lynel stretches out beside him, arms folded up beside Sidon’s thigh and its shaggy head in Sidon’s lap. Sidon grooms its mane with his claws and scratches around its horns the way it likes best until he can tell that the Lynel is nothing but relaxed and happy, its purring so loud it’s nearly a roar in its own right.

When Sidon eventually does have to leave, the Lynel licks his cheek, its pink sandpaper tongue gentle against his scales, and Sidon presses his face into its mane for a moment before promising to return again in a couple of days, as soon as he can.

Chapter Text

Sidon has a plan.

It coalesced in his mind as he stroked the Lynel’s soft, pointed ears, thinking about the confusion that was sure to result when the next patrol sent to investigate the Hinox situation finds the beast dead — and not merely dead, but slain, by a bladed weapon.

He stays close to the central parts of the Domain — his father’s throne room, the council chamber — waiting for word that a patrol had been sent to check on the Hinox situation. It doesn’t take long; a group of guards are sent the very next day, and their return causes all the furor Sidon had expected.

No one questions his presence at the ensuing council session; Mipha is there as well, which probably helps.

The report is what Sidon expected it would be — the Hinox has been slain, but whoever had accomplished the deed has taken no credit. The guards swear that it was dead when they arrived at Ralis Pond, bloated and stinking. There are several rounds of suggestions put forth, and Sidon stays silent until most of the others present have had their turns to speak.

“If I may?” Sidon begins politely, and it is the King himself who acknowledges his son and bids him to speak his thoughts.

“My thought is only this,” he says, “That I wonder if the beast may have been slain not by any soldier or guard of our people or another, or even by a passing traveler,” all other suggestions that had been put forward by the various elders, “But perhaps by the Lynel that also resides on the cliffs above us?”

There is silence, for a long moment, and in the silence, Sidon’s heart fills with a bright spark of hope. Surely, if he can get them to realize the truth of this suggestion, they’ll also come to realize that the Lynel means them no harm, that it wants to help.

The silence is broken by Muzu, the royal tutor. “The Prince’s suggestion is not without merit,” he says slowly, considering it. “We all heard the beast’s roaring only yesterday. Many of us commented that it seemed the sound, at one point, came from the west rather than the east.”

There are nods at his words, murmurs of agreement, and the hope flowers within Sidon before being crushed as surely as if the Hinox had fallen upon it.

“If the Lynel has extended its territory to the full breadth of Upland Zorana,” Sergeant Seggin says, his voice stern and serious, “Then we are all in great danger.”

The council explodes into noise again, and Sidon can’t manage to form the words to explain that no, no, that’s wrong, they’re wrong, the Lynel isn’t a danger to them, it keeps them safe— but a glance at the faces of the elders, all shouting over one another, tells him it would likely as not have made no difference.

Eventually, both he and Mipha are escorted from the room as more of the guards are brought in to discuss the Domain’s defenses. It’s late, and the council session is expected to continue for many hours, possibly into the morning. Sidon slips into his sleeping pool and decides that, in the morning, he’ll slip away and explain what’s happening to the Lynel. His dear friend may not speak, exactly, but he's certainly intelligent, and clever. Together, they’ll find some way to fix the mess that Sidon has inadvertently created.

He awakens to chaos.

There are guards everywhere, all in full armor, armed with the finest silverscale weapons. The plaza is a forest of glinting spear points, and Sidon, despite being unusually tall, has to fight his way through to reach the stairs to the throne room. By the time he makes it there, he’s already frantic. The guards aren’t being quiet about the reason for this marshalling — every fighter in the Domain has been called out to put an end to the Lynel, once and for all.

He tries to convince himself, as he rushes up the steps, that his Lynel will be fine; it’s smart, and quick, and strong; it will find a way to survive, to get away.

“I will go to prepare,” Mipha is saying, “Vah Ruta and I will be ready.” She bows to their father, and nods to the elders gathered there, turning with her trident in hand to leave — to prepare Vah Ruta to bring its power to bear. Even his Lynel, as powerful and capable as it is, is no match for the might of a Divine Beast.

Mipha. Sister, you can’t—” Sidon chokes out as they reach each other, but Mipha gives him a sweet, sisterly smile.

“Oh, Sidon. You don’t have to worry about me,” she tells him, placing a hand on his earfin like she used to do when she was the one who had to crouch down for a hug. “I’ll be safe inside Ruta, and both of us will be too far away to come to any harm.”

She’s gone before he can figure out how to explain, to tell her that none of this is necessary.

Even when Sidon finds the words he wants, no one will listen. His father is fully occupied with the bickering council, and his weapons masters with organizing the guards.

His efforts come to an abrupt end when Sergeant Seggin comes to the conclusion that Sidon is trying to join them. Too quickly, he’s marched to his room under the King’s orders, with guards positioned for your protection, or so his father says, though the two elderly guards will be scant protection if the Lynel truly were a marauding beast and managed to make it all the way to the Domain.

Not long ago, Sidon would have been most angered by being treated like a child, sent to his room to be nursemaided while others not so much older than him were permitted to play their parts. Now, he can’t spare a thought for himself.

His guards — for all that they are, charitably, past their prime — are alert and attentive, and Sidon can’t risk catching the attention of the whole of the assembled guards if his plan goes awry. He’s forced to wait, to hear the guards marching out, and the quiet that follows. His stomach churns, sour with anxiety, in the long minutes before he deems it safe to act.

His personal guards were not expecting to be attacked by their charge. Sidon takes a silverscale spear from one, just in case, and offers a quick prayer to Hylia that the worst they’ll suffer is a couple of bad headaches.

Then, he runs.

At least one of the elders spots him, but not in time to catch him before he’s sprinting down the eastern bridge toward Lake Mikau, as fast as he can go, hoping he won’t be too late. How he wishes now that he had the Lynel’s speed!

It feels like an eternity before he crests the trail, his chest heaving and gills aching from the quick transitions between water and land, heart clenching with the fear of what he might find.

Sidon nearly collapses with relief to see his Lynel still standing, still alive, thank Hylia he wasn’t too late after all— but a second look brings the fear rushing back.

The Lynel is standing, but only barely. It’s bloodied from dozens of wounds both deep and shallow, its golden stripes dyed an awful red-brown. The shaft of a silverscale spear is sticking out of its haunch, the tip buried deep inside the muscle, and it’s favoring that leg, the hoof lifted off the ground as if the limb won’t bear weight. It limps as it turns in a slow circle, keeping the guards back with swipes of its strongest sword. They’re being kept at bay for the moment, but Sidon can tell the guards are getting bolder, the circle tightening even in the few moments of Sidon’s observation. They’ve got the Lynel surrounded on all sides.

The plateau is littered with the bodies of fallen guards, but there’s almost no blood, save what’s dripping down the Lynel’s sides. Even in the face of this, Sidon realizes, it doesn’t want to hurt anyone. When the Lynel turns enough that Sidon can see his face, he can see the pain there, and horrible resignation, and he knows that if it comes down to it, the Lynel will simply let them win, even though it could still have a fighting chance if it were willing to kill the guards as it certainly could.

A trumpeting call sounds from the southeast, and everyone — guards and Lynel and Sidon alike — look across the plateau, to where Vah Ruta has reached the top of Tal Tal Peak and turned its head, and the cannon in its trunk, toward Ploymus Mountain.

A cheer goes up among the guards, but Sidon isn’t watching them.

He’s watching his Lynel, as it simply… deflates.

There’s no other word for it. The guards are still at a watchful distance; no blow strikes it. But it drops its sword and sinks to its knees; hobbled even in this by the spear in its haunch, its head bowed low.

There’s a sudden flurry of movement — the guards have noticed the Lynel’s vulnerability; how could they not? — but Sidon is already flinging himself forward, tearing through the ranks of the guards before their can bring up their spears, and he sees when the Lynel sees him, its blue eyes flying wide open in a momentary flash of fear and oh, oh no.

Sidon wraps himself around the Lynel’s bent head, clutching at its shaggy golden mane, and presses its face into his chest. He can’t wrap his Lynel up safely the way it had done for him, that day as the lightning crashed down, but he’ll do his best.

It takes him a moment to realize that it’s his own voice screaming stop! stop!, but it is.

“I am your Prince and I order you to STOP!” he yells, finding deep inside himself some reserve of authority, as yet untapped. It very nearly sounds like his father’s voice. And it’s enough to make the guards pause. Even if he’s only managed to confuse them, it’s enough.

No one moves. Sidon’s gaze sweeps across the encircling guards. They haven’t relaxed at all; spears and tridents are still held at the ready, but they’re keeping their distance for the moment. Once he’s reasonably sure they’ll stay that way, Sidon turns his attention to his Lynel.

He bends to press his crest against the top of its head, caring not at all about the murmurs he can hear building around them.

“I’m sorry, my dear one, I’m so sorry,” Sidon says, quietly, for his Lynel alone. “I should have tried harder to stop them; I should have realized what they would do.” His voice breaks a little, and the Lynel shoves its face into his abdomen (eliciting dozens of startled gasps and the readying clatter of weapons before it becomes clear that Sidon has not been disemboweled). It gives him the smallest kitten lick, just the tip of its tongue lapping out, surely invisible to the encircling guards, and a purr that further makes the nearest of them jump in startled surprise. Forgiveness, though Sidon can’t be certain he’s earned it yet.

Another trumpet call from the adjacent peak reminds them all of Vah Ruta’s presence. Sidon doesn’t know how much detail Mipha can make out from her vantage point, but whatever she can see must be quite confusing.

The Lynel turns its head slightly toward the sound, toward that distinctive shape, then closes its eyes and whines. It’s a horrible, hurt, mournful sound that Sidon has never heard before and immediately wishes to never hear again.

Sidon takes a deep breath. He is a prince of the Zora. He can do this. He has to do this.

He turns to one of the younger guards, one of the ones who had jumped when his Lynel purred — who still looks a bit jumpy, as a matter of fact.

“Please go and bring my sister back here. You can let her know that Vah Ruta will not be needed, but her healing skills will be.” His Lynel is still bleeding, and even if its wounds aren’t severe, they’re plentiful.

The guard looks around wildly for a moment, landing on Sergeant Seggin, who is approaching with an angry sort of caution. But no one contradicts the order, so the guard gives Sidon a hasty salute and rushes off, the ranks of armored Zora parting to allow her passage.

“You can put your weapons down,” Sidon addresses the rest of the guards. A few do. Most don’t.

Sergeant Seggin keeps his spear ready as he approaches; not in an attack position, but Sidon knows from experience that the Demon Sergeant is extremely quick. He’s clearly wary of being within arms’ reach of the Lynel (though its hands are weaponless at the moment, and its arms are very loosely circling Sidon), but he approaches closely enough that he can look Sidon in the eye.

Sidon looks back. The copper tang of his Lynel’s blood is in his nose, its breath warm and damp against his stomach, and for that, Sidon refuses to look away or back down, even against the only Zora to be able to withstand shock arrows, the Zora who had been responsible for most of Sidon’s own training with a spear. He stands his ground.

“I don’t know what you think you’re doing, your Highness,” Seggin says tightly, “But that monster has already killed several of my guards today—”

“It hasn’t.”

Sergeant Seggin looks if he’s just bitten into a rotten blueshell snail as Sidon cuts him off, but Sidon will deal with the consequences of that later.

“It hasn’t killed anyone,” Sidon repeats, then raises his voice so the surrounding guards can hear him clearly. “Check them. All of them; check them! They’re not dead.”

His heart is pounding, but probably only the Lynel can tell. Sidon hopes he’s right; hopes that it hadn’t hit any of them too hard, or caught one with the cutting edge of its blade.

Sergeant Seggin narrows his eyes, scrutinizing Sidon for a few long seconds before gesturing to the guards. They hadn’t checked on their fallen comrades yet; a sensible thing, when they had been certain that a moment of inattention would cost them their lives. They move eagerly now, though Sidon keeps his focus on Seggin, and on comforting his Lynel.

The word comes back quickly, a stocky guard with green scales plucking up the courage to approach and give his report to Seggin.

Prince Sidon is correct. The “fallen” are or had been merely unconscious; the worst anyone has suffered seems to be a broken rib or two. One has a laceration of the headfin, but that seemed to have been caused by a run-in with a sharp rock, not a blade.

Sergeant Seggin’s expression lands somewhere between confusion and constipation as he looks between Sidon and the Lynel, who has yet to move from Sidon’s embrace. It’s barely moved at all, save for the heave of its labored breathing.

The confirmation that no-one has died seems to be all that most of the guards needed to convince them to lower their weapons as Sidon had asked. Those on the far side of the Lynel from the mountain trail start to slowly flow back toward the rest of the group. As the encirclement breaks, Sidon can feel a little more of the tension ease out of the Lynel’s shoulders. He keeps stroking its mane, scritching at its ears, trying to soothe it as much as he can.

The mass of guards parts again, this time to admit a small red and white figure, clad in a shawl the color of the clear sky.

Mipha.

Sidon lets out a sigh of relief as he spots his sister coming up the trail, his own tension ratcheting down.

Mipha, on the other hand, takes an involuntary step backward when she gets close enough to see what’s going on, her hand flying up to her mouth to cover her gasp of shock.

“It’s still alive?” she asks, a note of fear in her voice. Sidon knows that, for all she was chosen to be a part of the greatest fight any Zora would face during any of their long lifetimes, his sister isn’t a warrior at heart. And had his Lynel been … well, any other Lynel, Sidon would have thrown himself into Death Mountain before he would have allowed Mipha to get anywhere near it. As it is, he just wishes he’d sent a more reliable guard with his message.

“It’s all right,” he tells her, ignoring even Sergeant Seggin now. If he can convince Mipha — there’s not a Zora in the Domain who would go against her wishes, beloved as she is by all of their people.

“It won’t hurt you. We’re—” Sidon searches for an appropriate term, though none fit exactly. “We’re friends,” he decides after a moment. He does not look at Sergeant Seggin’s face.

Mipha hesitates, but visibly steels herself — she really is so brave, his sister! — and then steps forward carefully.

Sidon expected that the Lynel might at least turn its face to take a look at her, but it just tries to bury itself even deeper into Sidon’s abdomen. Perhaps it’s a show of trust.

“Can you heal it?” Sidon asks — begs, really, and Mipha can hear it in his voice, the way her eyes go wide even before she’s taken an assessing look at the bloodied Lynel.

“I will try,” she says, determination in her voice, and oh, Sidon does love her so. Truly, Hylia blessed him with the best of all possible sisters.

She starts with the worst of the wounds: the spear still embedded in the Lynel’s haunch. Mipha has to direct two of the guards to help extract the silverscale spear, as it had stuck into bone. Eventually, the spear comes free with a sickening schluck and a gush of blood, and the Lynel roars in pain, its arms coming up to clutch at Sidon’s back while he whispers soothing nothings to it. It trembles, but it doesn’t move when Mipha’s hands begin to glow with her healing magic, the flow of blood beginning to slow almost immediately.

Sidon breathes a little easier as the wound knits together. He’d worried, for a moment, that Mipha’s healing may not work on the Lynel, and he’s glad to know that particular fear was unfounded. The Lynel breathes a little easier as well; Sidon hopes it’s because its in less pain as its wounds are seen to.

Once the largest and deepest of the Lynel’s injuries are mended, Mipha settles into healing the smaller ones, and with less of her concentration needed for the healing itself, finally speaks again.

“I would,” she says mildly, “like to know how you became friends with a Lynel, Sidon.” It isn’t exactly a question, but Sidon knows better than to think he can get away without answering.

He pets the Lynel’s horns.

“I came up here to kill it,” Sidon says truthfully. The Lynel gives him another tiny kitten lick — all forgiven — but Mipha pauses her healing to turn and face him fully, giving him the sort of Look that only a disappointed elder sibling can.

Sidon. You didn’t!” It’s as close to raising her voice as Mipha ever gets, and Sidon bows his head in the face of it. “Do you know how dangerous—!” She cuts herself off, then, seemingly realizing that it perhaps wasn’t actually very dangerous at all.

“What were you thinking?” She shakes her head, giving Sidon a long-suffering sigh and lays her palms against the Lynel’s side once more. “No, never mind. I’ll be angry at you about it later. You’ve yet to answer my question. Obviously you didn’t kill it.”

Sidon winces. He is certainly in for many, many Disappointed Sister Lectures in the future.

Worth it, he decides, giving the Lynel an extra firm ear rub and getting another tiny lick for his trouble, a light squeeze of its arms around him.

“No. It could have killed me,” Sidon admits, and Mipha says, “Sidon,” and yes, yes, he knows.

“It didn’t, though. It just threw me back down the mountain like a disobedient child,” he grins down at it, and the Lynel huffs, its laughter hot against his stomach.

Sidon recounts the rest of it — the Lynel makes a startled noise when Sidon tells Mipha about how he’d seen it looking so lonely and sad. He realizes only then that he’d never actually told the Lynel the extent of his spying. It doesn’t seem upset, at least.

He can tell Mipha is saving up her lectures when he tells her about the thunderstorm, and how the Lynel had taken a bolt of lightning for him —- Sidon points out the scar, long healed over but where the fur still hasn’t grown back in — and, more importantly, what he’d learned that day.

That not only could the Lynel understand their speech, but that it had been protecting the Domain since it arrived there.

That the Lynel is the reason Upland Zorana is no longer plagued with Lizalfos.

That it’s been teaching him how to fight.

Mipha gasps appropriately when he tells her about the Hinox at Ralis Pond, and by the time he’s finished relating the tale, the Lynel’s wounds are almost completely healed.

The Lynel gives him that pleased, approving rumble as Sidon finishes the story, repeating his lesson about Hinox-killing to its satisfaction. Mipha jumps at the sudden noise, and the few guards who have stayed close to defend the Princess should something happen jump as well, but Sidon only smiles as the Lynel’s rumble fades into a low purr.

The only injuries remaining are small scrapes, and the Lynel would probably be fine to heal those on its own, but Mipha has that determined look on her face and, so far at least, her healing magic hasn’t run out. There’s a long cut on the Lynel’s bicep (not far from the nearly-faded scar left by Sidon’s teeth, months ago), and Mipha moves toward it cautiously.

“May I?” she asks, lightly touching the Lynel’s arm where it’s bent around Sidon. She’s looking at the Lynel and not at him, which is how Sidon knows that, thank Hylia, he’s convinced her.

Sidon steps out of the way slightly, in a small way trying to encourage the Lynel to know his sister. It feels important, somehow, for his two most important people to know each other.

The Lynel allows Mipha to take its arm, lifting itself slightly from where it had been hunched down to wrap itself around Sidon. Even with its hooves folded under it, it’s much, much taller than Mipha, but she doesn’t back away in fear as she had at first. She holds her hand over the cut, letting the healing magic flow.

The wound closes quickly, and Mipha smiles, satisfied.

“There,” she says, looking up at the Lynel. “All bett—”

Mipha’s mouth drops open as the Lynel turns its face to meet hers, and her words cut off with a gasp.

Sidon knows the Lynel’s eyes are startling — stunning, really — but Mipha looks as if she might cry, and Sidon has no idea why that should be.

“Oh my Hylia,” Mipha whispers, reaching upward, and the Lynel bends down to let her touch her palm gently to the side of its face as she studies its features.

Link?