Serenade of the Red-Winged Blackbird—My humble thread
Here is another writing thread clamoring for attention, as the hatchlings demand for nourishment. I named my thread after my favorite of the birds that bring spring to us. I take great pleasure in listening to the male's unique call. You can find an example of it here or here. It sounds even better when several of them are just outside!
I mostly write stories, although you might discover an occasional poem here. May my humble works bring some joy to you!
I have published one fanfiction on this forum and you can find it here.
Now, to start with a short little poem:
Wings darker than the darkest night,
Capable of soaring flight;
With epaulets of red and gold
And staring at me with eyes so bold.
From outside, beneath the pine,
In tones so melodious and fine,
The red-winged blackbird serenades me.
Re: Serenade of the Red-Winged Blackbird—My humble thread
Now I bring to your attention a story I wrote two months ago. I was inspired to write it when I acquired the purple gauntlets in OoT3D, which, I might add, is an extremely enjoyable glitch. While I doubt it will make you breathless with laughter, I have laced it with bits of humor.
Never Trust Someone Who Goes 'Pssst'
Link entered Kakariko Village after the inhabitants had shut their doors for the night. In his head he was still hearing the song Saria had recently taught him. He had already played it twice, just so he could talk to his friend, and Saria was glad to hear from him so soon. Now he was heading for Death Mountain again; Darunia had told the boy about the gorons' trouble and then to leave him alone. Link had passed by Dodongo's Cavern and seen the massive stone that blocked it. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do next.
“Pssst! Hey, kid!” a voice broke into Link's thoughts. “Over here, kid!”
Link glanced around and spotted a man beckoning to him from the side of a building. He approached the strangely-garbed figure, who then led him around a few corners, until they reached a shack. Because Link was just a boy and he hadn't learned to distrust people, he had no qualms about following this stranger. Inside the tumble-down structure the man reached into a crate and pulled from within some objects wrapped in cloth.
“These are bargains, I tell ya!” he whispered. He unwrapped the bundles to reveal the items: a book, a worn bow and empty quiver, deku nuts, a very thin, rusty shield, and bombs. “What takes your fancy?”
Link eyed each piece of merchandise and considered carefully. “I'll take those,” he declared, pointing.
“Ah, the bombs! I'll sell them to you—they're in fine condition, of course—for twenty rupees. A paltry sum!”
“Really? Okay!” Link agreed.
He poured the contents of his little wallet into his hand and immediately handed over the two blue rupees he possessed. While the man fidgeted, Link counted out ten of the green rupees, leaving himself with three. The man grabbed them, dropped them in a pocket concealed somewhere in his flowing attire, rapidly wrapped up his other things, and scuttled out of the shack.
“That was weird,” Navi said. “I wonder why he was in such a hurry.”
“I think these will open up Dodongo's Cavern, Navi. If I get rid of the monsters in there, like I did in the Great Deku Tree, maybe Darunia will give me the Spiritual Stone!”
Link ran off to Death Mountain and when he blasted open the entrance to the cavern, he narrowly escaped losing some fingers. He spent the better part of the new day slaying the dodongos of all shapes and sizes that infested the place. Much to his delight he found a bag filled with more bombs. It was such a nice, durable bomb bag; Navi told him it was made of a dodongo's stomach.
At last, after defeating the king of the dodongos, Link emerged from the subterranean area. He was worn out, his clothes were singed, his arm hurt from a slight burn, his new metal shield weighed heavily on his back, and he'd used all his deku nuts and sticks, but he wore a satisfied smile. Darunia landed behind Link, knocking the boy to the earth.
Link climbed back to his feet and turned to see the big boss of the gorons, grinning ear-to-ear and beating his chest. “It's me, Darunia! Well done!”
He patted the little hero so hard that he fell down again. “Thanks to you we can once again eat the delicious rocks from the Dodongo's Cavern until our stomachs burst!”
He went on to say that Ganondorf sealed the cave to get the Spiritual Stone from the gorons and that he, Darunia, was surprised at the number of dodongos that appeared. He requested that Link become his Sworn Brother. “There's no big ceremony involved! Just take this as a token of our friendship!”
“Thank you!” Link said, holding the Goron's Ruby carefully.
Darunia recommended that he visit the fairy on top of Death Mountain and then, “Hey, everybody! Let's see off our Brother!”
Gorons crowded around them, congratulating the boy. “You did great!” and, “How 'bout a big Goron hug, brother?!”
Link ran away from them as fast as he could. He did not want the over-friendly gorons to squeeze him to death! He climbed Death Mountain to visit the Great Fairy and then traveled to Zora's Domain to find the third Spiritual Stone.
When he passed through Kakariko Village again, he saw several guards around. He didn't know that they were searching for a man who was selling things that he shouldn't even be giving away. Already a little boy was in trouble because his parents found him with a bow and a man was furious because the shield he purchased fell to pieces as soon as he tried to use it. The only person who was satisfied was the maiden in the milk-white dress, who had purchased a book and discovered it held wonderful stories.
“Thank goodness we don't have any children running around with bombs!” one guard remarked to his friend.
Seven years later...
Link found himself in the half-unrecognizable forest, hiking through new growth and defending himself from the monsters that infested the area. He was battling his way through the woods to the Forest Temple because he knew Saria was in trouble. When he played her song after waking from his seven-year slumber, she told him how she heard the forest spirits calling for help and she went into the forest temple to check it out.
“But it's full of evil monsters! Help me, Link!” was the last thing she had said.
Now as he tramped through the forest Link came across some grass. When he tried to pull it out he was very embarrassed to learn that he couldn't budge it! No matter how hard he yanked at it, the grass remained firmly rooted in the ground. After spending several minutes of grunting and useless struggle, he finally continued further into the forest.
A much greater disappointment awaited him inside the forest temple. He came to a huge block that interrupted further progress and he could move it just as much as he had the grass. He spent hours trying to get around or over it. He searched for another way through the temple but there was none.
Very discouraged, he exited the dungeon and wandered about the land, seeking something to help him with his trouble. He had no success and ended up at Lake Hylia; he stopped at the fishing pond and, fishing rod in hand, he sat on the shore, not even attempting to catch any fish. So dejected was he that he failed to notice the melodious serenades of the red-winged blackbirds.
Night had fallen when Navi spoke, “Don't you think it was about time you left this place? There has to be something we can do.”
“Well, okay Navi.”
Link rose and withdrew quietly from the pond. The owner was snoring at his counter and his hat had slipped from his head, exposing his rather large bald spot. Only when Link was in Hyrule Field did he realize that he still had the fishing rod. He returned posthaste to the pond and approached the man somewhat shamefacedly.
“I'm sorry...” Link said.
“Huh, what?” snorted the owner as he awoke. “Who's that?”
“My name is Link and I forgot to return this to you.” Link held out the rod.
“You did? Well, well! Not everyone would bring it back. Because you're such an honest young man I'll give this to you.”
He rummaged around underneath his counter and brought out an old key with a design on either side of the bow. “I found this years ago and never found out what it belonged to. You can have it.”
“Thank you,” Link said solemnly and took the key.
He left the fishing pond again and studied his new item. On one side of the bow of the key was an intricate diamond shape and on the other a miniscule etching of a hand and wrist.
“I wonder what it unlocks?” Navi mused.
Link shrugged and began walking. Unfortunately the night was very dark and he could hardly see where he was going. As a result, he tumbled right into a hole in the ground. Navi rubbed her eyes and scanned her surroundings but could not find him.
“What happened to you, Link?” she cried.
“Umph! Ooof! I fell down here!” His muffled voice came from the earth.
“Oh, there you are!” Navi breathed a sigh of relief as she flew to him. “Are you all right?”
“I think so,” he muttered as he picked himself up.
“Look at that, Link!” Navi exclaimed and dashed towards that which had excited her curiosity.
Link opened his mouth in surprise, but couldn't say anything. He had plunged into a small earthy hollow; the thick grass covering the ground had softened his landing. Several yards from where he had fallen, the cavern grew broader and filling up the space was a huge metal door covered in carvings that would make any craftsman extremely proud.
“There's a keyhole, too!” the fairy cried. “Link, I'm sure your key must fit this door!”
From his pocket he produced the key, slid it into the lock and grabbed the great iron ring that served as a handle. The door appeared to have been shut for ages, as every surface, from the carvings to the hinges to the iron ring that left a remembrance of its soiled state in Link's palm, was covered completely in dust. When he pushed on the door, however, it swung away as easily as if it had been maintained regularly.
The room into which Link stepped was breathtakingly beautiful. The walls seemed to move with wee, shining objects that looked remarkably like stars; the light that somehow stole its way there caught the facets of the tiny cavern-gems and cast itself in every direction. The ground was carpeted in thick, soft grass that made silent all footsteps. The most exquisite, exotic flowers either of the travelers had ever seen grew around a small platform in the center of the cave. Two steps led up to the large chest resting in the middle of the dais.
Link shook himself, mounted the steps, raised the weighty lid of the chest, and pulled out a pair of gauntlet coverings the color of amethysts, each with a red gem on the back. Simply by holding them in his hands he could tell they were magical. He turned to Navi.
“Do you think I should take these, Navi?”
“If you weren't supposed to have them you would not have found this place or been entrusted with the key. Go ahead, Link. Put them on.”
Link slipped them over his leather gauntlets and flexed his arms. “I feel like I could lift giant boulders and throw them!” he declared. “Now I can push those blocks in the forest temple with no trouble at all! Come on, Navi!”
Link completed his quest with no further strength issues. When it was all over he returned the special gauntlets to the chest, locked the door, and hid the key where only he could ever find it again.
Did my tale make you chuckle? If so, which part caused it?
Re: Serenade of the Red-Winged Blackbird—My humble thread
I present you with another story that came to me while I was playing OoT3D. I was collecting extra heart pieces in the Heart-Pounding Gravdigging Tour and I was thinking. What if Link met Dampé and the two became friends? From there I imagined what might happen and I wrote this story. Enjoy!
The Meaning of Courage
Part I: The Child Meeting
Ebony fingers stretched across the sky; the red-winged blackbirds had ceased their serenades and slept with heads resting on inky plumage. The animals that daily roamed the broad expanse known as Hyrule Field were safely burrowed in their homes, sleeping away the darkness. Bits of faraway light filled the firmament, the winds whispered secrets of the morrow, and the lady of the night rose gracefully over the horizon.
Hardly a sound disturbed the peace of the field. An owl soared the sky on silent wings, searching for a his next meal. The mice scurried about less than they usually did and the wild cats kept their nightly prowls to a minimum. An evil presence was in the first stages of infecting Hyrule Field, leaving the animals uneasy and reluctant to roam because of the things that surfaced at night.
In the northwest portion of the field, a boy garbed in green strove to keep at bay the skeletal children who reached for him with bony fingers. These creatures were the stalchildren that came out to play when darkness fell; they wanted to drag the live boy into the depths of the earth that was their resting place. The little hero fought them as they surrounded him; when he spied an opening in their numbers, he scampered through it and on towards his destination. He shivered as his sword cleaved the skulls from their vertebrae; the bones of the undead children melted into the grassy plain.
Hovering around him was a miniscule winged girl surrounded by blue luminescence. “Watch out, Link!” she cried.
He ducked, just as a bony hand swiped at him and missed. Link made one last sweep with his sword and dashed up the stairs to the safety of Kakariko Village. Thankfully, the stalchildren were afraid to enter an area with torchlight and people; their tactics were to ambush lone travelers. They let the ground take their bones again, disappointment showing in their glowing crimson eyes.
A guard faithfully keeping his post glanced at Link as the boy tore through the gateway. Safe at last in the security of the townlet, Link let his sword fall to the ground and flopped down beside it, his breath escaping in great, ragged gasps.
“Link, are you all right?” the guardian fairy questioned anxiously.
He nodded, too exhausted to utter a word.
“Oh Link! I told you we should have stayed at Lon Lon Ranch,” she berated him, but took pity when she glimpsed the fear that lay behind his eyes. “I'm only grateful that you're not hurt.”
Navi landed on his shoulder and rubbed against his neck; her compassion pulsed like the light which surrounded her. His lashes fell and almost instantly he was asleep. For some time the only sound was Link's harsh breathing, which eased as he lay there. Navi felt herself drifting towards dreamland, but she shook herself and pulled at Link's ear.
“Link, wake up. You can't stay out here all night. Come on, wake up!”
“Go away,” he muttered drowsily.
Navi persisted and finally roused him. He grabbed his sword, sheathed it, and then he and Navi searched for shelter. The houses were all dark and Navi felt that they would not receive much welcome so late at night. They wandered around and Link's steps grew heavier and more halting; he was almost out on his feet.
At last Navi found a house in a state of extreme disrepair and it seemed to be abandoned. Link tugged at the rusted doorknob and stumbled inside when it finally gave way. He let the dusty, cobwebby couch near the door claim him, without even bothering to remove his sword. Navi heard faint rustlings from deeper inside the house and she didn't want to learn what they were. She nestled into Link's warm hair and joined him in the place from which dreams come.
Late the next morning Link awoke and stared groggily at his surroundings. Through the dimness he could see the gray dust which covered every surface and the faded spiderwebs that spotted the walls and ceilings. He lifted his head from the green book which he had been using as a pillow and Navi pushed her way out from Link's mess of hair. She took to the air as he stretched and the soles of his boots met the floor.
“Come on, Link, let's get out of here,” she urged him.
“I want to explore the house first,” he argued.
“Well, since it's not so dark in here anymore... All right.” She remained by his side as he wandered through the seemingly uninhabited home and discovered that in the depths lived a cursed family.
Sometime later Link emerged from the house. He and Navi tried to figure out which direction they should follow, since they had turned themselves about in the darkness and panic of the night before. He met a little boy not more than five years old, who carried a stick and marched about in a heavy-footed fashion.
“Who are you?” the youngster questioned curiously. “Why do you have a fairy?”
“I am Link and this is my guardian fairy, Navi.”
“Where Link comes from, everyone has a fairy,” Navi added.
“I want one too!” the small boy exclaimed. “Will you give me yours?”
“I'm sorry, but my task is to watch over Link. You have parents who watch over you, do you not?”
“Yes. My Mummy and Daddy take care of me. Daddy works as a soldier. Would you like to come home with me? My mum gives me yummy lunches and she'll give you one, too.”
Link's stomach was rumbling mightily so he wasn't about to refuse. He followed the boy, whose name was Reneld, to the latter's home. Reneld's charming young mother, Narla, greeted the forest boy and his fairy and made them welcome in her small abode. She wondered why the child was was not with his parents, but her worries were assuaged as she saw the tender care with which Navi watched over her charge.
When the two boys were finished eating, Reneld was in a hurry to go back to his play. Narla caught her son and held the squirming youngster as she scrubbed his face and hands. “Hold still, Ren, darling.”
When Ren was clean enough to satisfy her, she released him; he bolted for the door. Link made a move to follow the younger boy, but Navi flew to his ear and whispered something. Link turned back to Narla and uttered a shy farewell.
“Thank you for the lunch, ma'am.”
“You're welcome, dear boy!”
Quickly she planted a kiss on his forehead, which was something she had wanted to do since she first laid eyes on him. Link backed away, wondering why women and girls were always trying to do that. He exited the house and followed Ren to the small boy's favorite place to play—the graveyard.
Ren tramped around the graves, occasionally poking his stick into the ground. “I'm gonna dig and dig! Just like Dampé!”
“Who is Dampé?” Link queried.
“He's the gravekeeper. He sleeps in that hut all day and doesn't like to be disturbed.” Ren motioned to the wood shack situated in one corner of the quiet graveyard. “When he comes out at night he has this game, but little kids like me can't go on the Heart-Pounding Gravedigging Tour. Since I can't do that, I'm just imitating Dampé the gravekeeper all day. With my cute face I'm not heart-pounding at all, am I?”
“No,” Link agreed. Navi had the urge to laugh over Ren's fixation, but she kept it to herself.
Link played with Ren; they pretended that the latter was Dampé and he had to chase two ghosts from the burial grounds. It was much like a game of hide and seek; Link and Navi hid somewhere and Ren came stalking along, searching for the intruders. Upon spotting them, he chased them away from the tombstones. Navi was small and could find clever hiding places, but her glow invariably betrayed her presence.
They lost track of the time, until a dark shadow fell over them and Ren said he had to return home. Link remained behind, wandering deeper than Ren had been willing to go. The younger boy had recounted tales of ghosts and ever-wandering spirits that emerged in the graveyard in the hours of dusk, but our hero brushed aside all cautions.
The sun sank regretfully below the horizon and Link glanced about, if only for the conviction that Ren's stories were just that, stories. At first all seemed to be well but then a peculiar phenomenon exhibited itself. Spheres of pale light materialized and grew until they bore semblance to pale, purplish-blue flames. The appearance of the flames was unsettling rather than frightening; Link's first thought was that they were unique fairies.
These were spirits that wandered about, prevented from leaving the world by the evil that plagued it. Now they tried to float upwards but crystalline lanterns formed around them and Link glimpsed wraith-like hands that hardly seemed to be there, each holding a lantern. Transparent bodies clothed in equally ghostly rags appeared accompanied by faces so dark they would have blended into the night, if not for the white cloths that covered their heads.
These were the bodies, turned evil by Ganondorf's dark designs, that prevented the souls from going to their heavenly rewards. They menacingly turned their eerily glowing eyes on the green-clad intruder and Link's heart missed several beats. He fled from the creatures but wherever he ran another one found him. In the gloom of the new night he could hardly see where he was going, managed to get all turned about and ended up going into the deeper recesses of the graveyard, rather than towards the exit.
He paused for a few moments to catch his breath when another of the unearthly beings appeared in front of him. Link was ready to bolt again but Navi stopped him.
“Wait, Link. Do you hear that?”
When he listened hard he could just make out a tiny voice crying, “Help me! Help me!”
“It is the spirit trapped inside the poe's lantern!” Navi exclaimed. “It wants you to free it!”
The poe, wildly swinging said lantern, flung itself at Link, who ducked. “How?” he asked.
“Slay my captor,” replied the lilliputian voice.
Link took a deep breath and readied his blade; the next pass that the poe made was its last. The boy plunged his sword into the ghostly being, thus snuffing out its already half-dead existence. The lantern that it had been holding fell to the ground and shattered, leaving the flame that was a lost soul. Nothing could break that glass while the poe was alive to hold it, which was why the poe used it to attack trespassers.
The flame-spirit quivered and squeaked, “Thank you, brave traveler! It was me, yet it wasn't me. I didn't want to attack you. That was my body that you killed but when I died evil made it keep me prisoner. Now I am free! Thank you and farewell!” With those words the freed spirit disappeared, leaving Link half-wondering if he was dreaming.
“Well, that was nerve-wracking!” Navi exclaimed. “Now, let's find the way out of here!”
In searching for the exit Link dispatched several more poes and received gratitude from the liberated spirits. Then he came to two curious gravestones unlike all the others; one had a sun carved into it and other, a moon. The inscription under the sun read:
Royal Composer Brothers
Sharp the Elder
Rest in Peace
and the words under the moon were identical, save that the name was instead Flat the Younger.
Link turned away but then heard another miniscule voice crying out to him. He made an about-face and instantly perceived a pair of poes that had arisen over the two graves. Theses two creatures, however, were different from the others; their clothes, if the ghostly garments could be called that, were elegant and even had gems attached to their robes and round hats. One of the ghosts wore red and the other, green. These poes were larger and more forbidding; in addition to holding the lanterns, in the other hand they each held a white baton. The color of the trapped spirits had a greener hue to them as they trembled and besought Link to free them.
Aside from using their lanterns as blunt weapons, these poes also made thrusts with their batons, which Link learned were sharp when one of them grazed his shoulder. He staggered back a few paces, which turned out to be a Godsend because the other poe stabbed at the air where he had been. Link darted forward and delivered finishing strikes to the two ghosts.
“Gyaaaah! You killed me!” cried the spirit freed from the poe dressed in green.
“He didn't kill us, Flat,” reasoned the other. “We are already dead.”
“Oh, what? He's not one of Ganondorf's men, is he?”
“He freed us, didn't he? For that, dear adventurer, I thank you most humbly.”
“I apologize. Since you have aided us we have a secret which we shall share with you, right Sharp?”
“Quite, but first we must introduce ourselves. Ahem...”
“We are the ghostly Composer Brothers of Kakariko Village.”
“All the people in this village are born to serve the Royal Family of Hyrule. We brothers also served the Royal Family and were assigned to study the hereditary mystic powers of the family,” Sharp informed Link.
“Though we never could figure out the power of the Triforce, we had almost completed our study of controlling time with the tones of ocarinas.”
“Flat, what are you saying?”
“Uh, I mean... Actually, we completed that study! We would have been famous if that hateful Ganondorf had not tried to steal our results!”
“Being famous was only a small part; we could never let him reap the fruits of our research! That is why we gave our lives to protect the secret.”
“But you're a fine lad and we will let you possess our fantastic composition.”
“Because we were faithful to the Royal Family to the end, we hid our song deep in their burial grounds. You will find it in the furthest reach of their grave. Beware of the undead who dwell in the darkness.”
“Use our secret to calm them,” was Flat's piece of advice. “Thank you for saving us from that fate worse than death.” The flames of the two brothers faded.
“I know what you want to do, Link.” Navi sighed resignedly. “Let's go find the secret for which the Composer Brothers died.”
The boy sheathed his sword. The heart-pounding terror he had felt when being chased by the poes had worn off and he thought that finding the song would be a simple task. “Thanks, Navi.”
“Are you sure you're all right?” she asked.
Link nodded. “They weren't so tough!”
He easily found the gigantic stone that covered the Royal Family's crypt. The worn words etched in the stone bade him to prove his connection to the Royal Family, so he played Zelda's Lullaby. He stared as the great grave marker slid back, revealing a narrow set of stairs that descended into the damp darkness of the earth. The yawning blackness made him think twice about going into it; he mustered his courage and stepped downwards.
The damp underground passage swallowed him as if he were a mouse. Link stumbled on the steep stairs and he placed his hand on the stone wall to steady himself. Navi's efflorescence provided a half-light by which he picked his way through the spiderwebs and pitfalls of the dank crypt. He came to an opening in which lurked the dark shapes of several keese. He jumped as one of them swooped at him.
“It's just a keese, Link. You've seen them before,” Navi told him.
He pulled his slingshot from his pouch and planted one of the hard deku seeds squarely between the eyes of that and the rest of the keese. At one end of the room he located a door inscribed with many letters. At his touch it groaned and slid back, revealing more corridor beyond.
He found a few more keese and some rats as he progressed but nothing that fit Sharp's warning about the undead. Then the sound of moans caught the tips of his ears and he was getting closer to them with every step. The creepy noises were made worse as they bounced off the walls; Link shivered involuntarily and Navi, despite her determination not to show fear to her charge, landed on his hair and burrowed under his hat.
Link came upon another room; it was larger than any of the caverns he had yet gone through in the crypt and had a strange, glowing substance pooled in depressions on the floor. It threw light around the area and a horrible smell rose with the columns of cloudiness; both of these were same sickly green as the stuff on the ground. The nasty odor that permeated the air also forced its way into the boy's lungs, making him choke.
Stationed around the icky green messes were some truly frightening creatures; it was from them that the groans that set his backbone to freezing had come.They had human-like bodies, but with so little flesh that they were nearly skeletons, and they stood with their shoulders hunched. They had no faces, or at least none that showed; instead they wore crude masks with two small holes for the eyes and a larger one for the mouth.
Link scurried across the room, picking a path furthest from the redeads and he avoided looking at the horrible monsters. He arrived at the other end of the room quite safely and breathed an immense sigh of relief. Navi emerged from under his hat.
“I'm sorry, Link. I shouldn't have hidden myself away like that. I was frightened, but that's no excuse. The Great Deku Tree would not approve.”
“I was sacred too! Don't feel bad Navi.”
He went through one more passageway and reached a dead end. Pools of the odoriferous green stuff lay on either side of a narrow path that led to an impressive stone carved with letters. Link approached it and read the worn hylian.
“'This poem is dedicated to the memory of the dearly departed members of the Royal Family.
The rising sun will eventually set,
A newborn's life will fade.
From sun to moon, moon to sun...
Give peaceful rest to the living dead.'"
“This is an interesting poem, eh Link?” Navi said and then pointed below the large letters he had been reading. “Look! There's something inscribed on the tombstone! Why, it's the secret melody of the Composer Brothers!”
Link pulled Saria's gift from his pocket and put it up to his lips. After several tries he had it memorized and could play it with ease. He tucked away the ocarina and gazed once more upon the tombstone.
“There's something else,” he realized. “'Restless souls wander where they don't belong. Bring them calm with the Sun's Song.' Are those the undead things we saw out there, Navi?”
“Yes, Link. They are redeads. Flat told us we could calm them with the song, remember?”
“I'll play it as soon as I go back out there.”
Link shivered slightly at the thought of having to go past the creatures again but he felt less frightened because he knew the Sun's Song. When he returned to the room in which he'd seen the redeads, much to his dismay, they had vanished. He glanced around uneasily. “Where did they go?”
“I don't know. Be very careful, Link.”
Link again scampered back from whence he had come, occasionally throwing a glance over his shoulder to make sure that nothing sneaked up behind him. He should have been paying more attention to what was in front of him. As he neared the exit he did not see the shadows that twitched ahead of him. The only sound in the tomb was the soft patter of Link's hurried steps; it was an ominous quiet.
Suddenly a bone-chilling scream filled the dank air. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeayh!”
Link jumped, his heart palpitating. Foolishly he glanced in the direction from which the shriek had come and met the hollow eyes of a redead. It screamed several more times and he was paralyzed as he stared into those terrible holes of living death. Another of the creatures jumped on his back and placed around his throat fingers as chilling as the screams that froze the marrow in his bones.
“Link! Don't look at them!” Navi shouted.
Link dropped his eyes and regained the ability to move. He struggled weakly against the clammy hands that were squeezing the air from him. Navi flung herself mercilessly into the masked faces. Distracted, the redeads turned their attention on her and Link slipped out of the choking grasp the one held on him. Fear lent him speed as he half-staggered, half-ran towards the stairs, with Navi flying after him.
What a welcome sight was the appearance of the glittering, whispering stars over Link's head! He scurried up the stairs as speedily as he could on legs trembling with stark fear, but it was not quick enough. A hand gripped his ankle and made him topple. His head hit the unforgiving stone steps, making dark spots float in front of his eyes.
The redead, for that is what had grabbed him, transferred its strangle-hold to his throat. He tried to kick out and struggle against the creature cutting off his air supply, but he could not make his limbs move. The whole world fell away from him and he knew nothing more.
The next thing Link could remember was that he was lying on something soft and Navi was floating over him anxiously. His head ached and his throat felt funny; if he had been able to get a glimpse at himself he would have seen that his neck was quite bruised. He didn't even notice the cloth tied around the inconsequential cut on his shoulder.
Navi landed on his chest. “Oh, Link! I'm so glad to see you awake! It was all my fault! I should never have let you go into that horrible place!” she wept.
His heart gave a great twinge as he glimpsed tiny, sparkling tears fall from her eyes and splash on his tunic. “Don't cry, Navi. It's not your...”
He stopped abruptly as an ugly face came into his peripheral vision. Not knowing to whom it belonged, he jumped up painfully and instantly wished he hadn't. His head spun and a pair of hands gently pushed him back on the bed. The face appeared above him, though he could hardly see it for the fog that clouded his swirling senses.
“You mustn't be afraid of me, little boy,” an unfamiliar, rusty-sounding voice assured him.
“Link, this is Dampé. He saved you from the redeads!” Navi added. “He's been taking care of you.”
The hands placed a cold cloth on his forehead and the young hero relaxed. The throbbing in his head lessened until it just ached. Being careful not to move too suddenly, he took another look at his rescuer. Dampé's back was permanently hunched, his large head was bald, his left eyelid sagged, his nose was too big, and his chin jutted out, showing missing teeth.
Dampé noticed the boy's eye on him. “I'm not a pretty sight, am I?”
“N-no,” Link admitted, looking the gravekeeper in the eye, “but I don't care. You saved my life.”
“I can tell we're going to get along very well,” Dampé chuckled. “The reason why I live here and don't mix with the villagers is because most people cannot stand to look at me. Now, young one, suppose you tell me what you were doing here at that time of night.”
“I was playing with Ren from the village, and when he went home I stayed here. I met the Composer Brothers and they told me they had hidden their special song deep in the Royal Family's tomb, so I went to look for it. I was okay at first, but then those monsters, they...” Link started shivering uncontrollably. The terror he had experienced still seemed all too real.
Navi nestled against Link's cheek. “There, there,” she crooned. “You're safe, Link. The redeads cannot hurt you now. Don't tremble so.”
“That's right. When I saw the monster choking you, you were just as limp as a rag doll. So I just whacked it over the head will my shovel until it was dead. Another one came towards me, but I gave it the same. Then I took you to my humble abode, and here we are.”
“You should try to get some sleep now,” Navi said. “You'll feel better tomorrow.”
Link obeyed and closed his eyes. Singing softly, Navi calmed him into sleep with his favorite tune; chosen as such because it was Zelda's Lullaby. Once he was slumbering peacefully, she nestled in his hair for her night's rest, while Dampé slipped outside to take up his rounds of the graveyard.
Kindhearted Dampé graciously invited Link to stay and rest in his tiny home for a couple of days, until the boy recovered his strength. During that time they became two of the unlikeliest of friends. Dampé may have seemed gruff and hideous on the outside, but within that homely mask was a pure soul. To Link he was like a grandfather, at whose feet he could lay all his troubles. Dampé listened intently to Link, imparted sage advice, and consoled him in his troubles. During his adventures, the growing hero frequently returned to Kakariko Village to visit his friend.
During Link's stay, Dampé asked him about his quest and Link replied blushingly, “Princess Zelda gave me the task of finding the two remaining Spiritual Stones.” Dampé learned from this that his young friend had quite a crush on the fair princess.
Once again ready to travel, Link departed from Dampé for a time. On the way to Death Mountain he met Ren's father, Lerral, whose task it was to guard the gate. Lerral laughed at Link's insistence of being on an important quest, but let him pass when the boy produced the princess's letter.
After completing Dodongo's Cavern, Link recounted to Dampé his experiences at Death Mountain and gave a demonstration of the lovely explosions made by his newly-discovered bombs. “The gorons are very rough and friendly!” Link said, as Dampé applied a bag of ice to the child's bruised head (a result of Darunia's enthusiasm).
Link traveled to Castle Town and borrowed the masks offered to him by the Happy Mask Salesman. Each one he showed off to Dampé before he tracked down the person who had a desire for it. Lerral he made happy by presenting the popular Keaton Mask.
“My boy will be very happy with this! I want to give it to him for his birthday. You really are Mr. Hero! Wha ha ha hah!” Lerral grinned.
Link liked the Skull Mask because it was so scary. He found for it a perfect owner, the Skull Kid who wanted to make fiercer his face.
The Spooky Mask had not quite the frightening appearance of the previous one. Dampé told Link that it gave him the shivers because it was made out of a plank from a coffin. While wearing the mask, Link met Ren again.
“Gyaah! It's Dampé the gravekeeper!” Ren cried in surprise and half-fright. “Oh, it's just a mask. I get a different kid of fright from that mask than I get from Dampé... Will you give that mask to me?”
Link hesitated, wondering if Dampé would approve.
“I really do have some money, you know,” Ren added. “I asked my daddy to get me a Keaton Mask, but I want this one even more!”
“Okay,” Link agreed and took off the mask to give it to Ren.
“With this mask, I'll be just like Dampé! Here's my money.”
Later, Link repeated Ren's words to Dampé, who laughed heartily. “Link, m'lad, there is a saying that goes, 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.' I take the boy's words as quite a compliment.”
The next time Link's path crossed with Ren's, the older boy asked, “Would you like to meet Dampé?”
“Oooh, I would be too scared!” Ren exclaimed.
“He's very kind. He saved my life,” Link hurried to assure him.
“Well, maybe when I'm just a little bit older. If I was six, I think I could be brave enough for that. My birthday is in a month, you know.”
Slightly damp was Link when he came to Dampé after venturing inside Jabu Jabu. “The Zora Princess was bossy but in the end she gave me her Spiritual Stone. I like her, even though she's a girl. She didn't mind going into Jabu Jabu at all. She tried to kiss me but I didn't let her!”
A short time later, a crestfallen Link returned to the graveyard. “Ganondorf attacked Hyrule Castle!” Link cried. “Zelda is safe because Impa took her her away. Zelda threw this to me.” Link held out the item he had kept clutched in his hands the whole time.
“It's a beautiful instrument. The Ocarina of Time, isn't it?”
“Uh-huh. She entrusted it to me. She left a message for me, saying that I had to open the Door of Time. I'm scared, Dampé!”
“You've been afraid before, haven't you?” Dampé questioned.
The old gravekeeper continued, “I've noticed something about you, Link. You may be as frightened as anyone could be, but you have the courage to do what you know you should do. None of the villagers dare to come to this graveyard after dark, but you spent half the night here. Very few people would have even thought of venturing into the Royal Family's Tomb, as you did. You've fought monsters and aided many people. I'm proud of you. Never forget that, m'lad!”
The little hero drew a deep breath. “Thanks, Dampé. I'll do my best.”
“You come back to see me after you take care of your task, you hear me?”
“Yes, sir!” Link replied, grinning.
He wrapped his arms around Dampé in a brief embrace and then pulled back, feeling a bit sheepish. Without another word, he ran off. He paused at the entrance of the graveyard, waved and was gone. Neither he or Dampé knew it, but many things would change before the two of them met again.