by Ismail "Slipgate" Saeed (© 2001 Ismail Saeed)
Author's notes: I've often wondered what the first meeting between Link and Zelda at the end of The Legend of Zelda (1) was like (beyond the basic eight words you see them exchange in the actual ending). Here was this youth who had been through all sorts of peculiar adventures... burning trees, getting his money taken by irate old men who were upset at his barging in to their homes, being grabbed by slimy Like Likes, getting hit with Wizzrobe magic that made him crash against a wall in pain, and taking on such horrendous things as Gleeok or Manhandla <shudder> just to name a few things. But, beyond the trials Link has been through, there's also the fact, which sort of tickled at my creative imaginings, that Zelda doesn't know at all what's going on outside the room she's in (depending on your interpretation of the game, maybe she does, if she gets news from Ganon, but I prefer to think she doesn't and that Ganon wouldn't bother with that). Their first encounter has long been an interesting event to me to imagine the specifics of, beyond the game's brief and <cough> VERY concise text on the matter.
I'll confess that I really love Zelda 1... it's one of my favorite video games, and my bar-none favorite of all the Zelda games (of which I've played from start to finish 1, 2, Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask so far). You can stop with the funny looks now <smile>. Anyways, a lot of that game's plot and a lot of its concepts or the things you do in it really inspire me, and I decided to sit down and write a short story about my take on one of the scenes of the game.
As far as things you'd need to know... the stuff referencing Impa is in relation to the detailed version of the game plot as presented in the original game's manual (which I have and treasure). It's not referenced in the summary of the plot shown during the title sequence, so if you've never read the manual... you might want to find a typed-up copy so you know what the heck I'm talking about. As far as Ganon being "dead," well, I've played basically the whole series through, and I know there are a variety of interpretations on what order the games go in. Depending on the chronology you go by, this might be his final death or he might not actually be dead, but simply defeated and banished again. However, again going by Zelda 1 itself and pretending the other games don't exist yet, Zelda 1 itself in both the manual and the game perceives Link as having KILLED Ganon at the end. So I go with that for the purpose of this story. Lastly, Link's conversational style. Being that he rarely or never talks in any of the games, even to this day (Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask even use this as a source of humor), there are lots of different and contradictory ways you can imagine Link behaving. Just for the purposes of this story, I decided to make him genteel and chivalrous. But don't take that as gospel on how Link necessarily behaves.
Well, that's all the notes I can think of making about this story and my choices in it, so, without further adieu, I'll shut up and let you read. Hope you enjoy it.
There was pain in her eyes.
He'd given his life over to this quest, to succeeding at the tasks Impa had outlined for him so long ago. Each time he had finally found another underworld labyrinth entrance, each time he'd stood wounded but victorious at the end of a battle with a horrendous creature, each time he'd held yet another fragment of the Triforce of Wisdom in his hands and been bathed in its wholesome and strange glow, he'd reached one step closer to the completion of his quest. Now the last step was before him. The quest was over.
How long had his life been taken over by this all-consuming quest? His mind flicked back over many days and many frigid nights where he had struggled to find a safe place to rest. He honestly didn't know. More than a year likely. He'd known the date of when he had found Impa being attacked by those monsters. But since that day, his quest had been so all-enveloping that he had never checked anyone's calendar since then. It felt like it had to have been at least a year, possibly more.
Be that as it may, now the long quest that had taken over his life was no more, and its end stood before him. He saw her trussed up above the ground and in pain. Not in a situation that would kill; at least as long as food and water had been provided periodically. But in a situation of great pain. Mind-devouring, hope-crushing pain. And she was alive. The pain was so distinct in her eyes that they could not be the eyes of a dead girl. She'd survived as a prisoner of Ganon, despite the constant mental anguish about what must be happening to the kingdom during all this time. She didn't know whether Impa had survived, or if Impa had found anyone, or if anyone out there was trying to save the kingdom. She didn't even know that it was safe now.
He was at the last task, the end of his road. So what was this last task, that his whole life had been consumed by the purpose of filling? Looking at her, he finally decided what that task was.
It was to take the pain out of her eyes.
In a manner both bold as only a hardened warrior could be and yet timid as only a young child before royalty could behave in, he strode up to her. Using his blade, he chopped at the cords that held her hands trussed to the forbidding pillar. He kept an arm underneath her to hold her steady rather than let her fall and dangle upside-down by her feet. As best as he could with one hand kept underneath her, he removed what remained of the knotted bounds from her hands, and rubbed and blew on them rapidly to try and improve their stunted circulation. The hands felt cold and almost lifeless, but a small degree of warmth and color seemed to slowly come into them.
He cut the cords that kept her feet airborne at the pillar that stood parallel to the first. He choked back his thoughts at this poor girl being trussed up like a piece of meat on a spit, not even to finally, mercifully die, but to lie there for all eternity bound and kept aloft from the ground. As he cut the cords, he quickly threw his sword aside to catch her legs with his other arm. He carried her gently over to some normal ground. It was hard grey stone, but that was all that could be found here.
He retrieved his sword, and then knelt down in front of the now sitting form of the Princess. After he'd improved the circulation to her feet, he brought his flask up to her lips and tilted her head back so she could drink. After the muscles of her mouth had worked to instinctively drink some of the cool water, he chose to see if she was conscious, and if not, to reawaken her.
"Your Highness?" he asked timidly to the pale face with the pained and almost vacant eyes. "Your Highness, Princess Zelda? Zelda?" he repeated, softly and with great concern.
"Unnnh... sttttoop tormennnting me..." she said.
He was much relieved to hear her voice, proving that she was indeed conscious and alive. He whispered in her ear, "He has stopped. He will trouble you no more. Your Highness, I am here to serve you."
She slowly fluttered her eyelids a few times, and then slowly the eyes seemed to focus. "Oohh!" she said, in both pain and wonder. "Who are you?"
He changed his position so that he knelt on one knee, and he placed his sword down on the ground before her. "My name is Link," he explained, "And you are now free of Ganon's clutches. Your kingdom is perhaps a little worse for wear, but it yet lives and is safe at last."
She shook her head disgustedly and unhappily, though her eyes cleared even more as she did so. "Stop with the torments, Ganon... There's no point to them..." she breathed in a parched, ragged voice.
Link frowned, concerned. "Your Highness, Ganon is dead. I slew him. I offer my sword to you, and with it my lifelong service."
She looked at him doubtfully, and he cleared his throat. "Perhaps this will show that I am no mere trick of Ganon's," he said, and he unslung a pack from his shoulders.
Out of it he pulled first one, then another large golden triangle. They glowed with a wholesome and unmistakable light and presence, that was so on the mark as to be impossible to forge. Both of the Triforces were before her. She could recognize the Triforce of Power, and she started to see the Triforce of Wisdom made whole again. "They belong to you and the kingdom, not to me... so I return them to you," the youth who had called himself Link said after a moment.
"So.... the Triforces are recovered and before me, and Ganon is truly dead!?" Zelda gasped, more than a hint of amazement and happiness in her voice.
He began to explain, "A long time ago, I don't know how long ago now, I met a woman named Impa..."
But he was unable to finish. She threw her arms around him and a sound of pure joy escaped her. Her chin sat on his shoulder as she spoke into his ear. "Thank you, Link!" she exclaimed. He didn't need to finish the rest of the story. She instinctively understood the rest already. Or at least the important parts.
After she'd released her grip on him, he gave her the flask again, which she eagerly accepted. As she drank voraciously, he looked long and hard at her face, and most of all at her eyes. The pain was gone from them, and wonder, bewilderment, and absolute joy were all that dwelled there now. He had fulfilled his last objective.