Link yawned. The night stars twinkled peacefully at him from above. Warm air drifted lazily over the water of Lake Hylia, tickling at his bangs. The river bubbled and gurgled, only to hit a roar at the waterfall into the lake itself. Everything was quiet. Restful.
Which was good because he was tired as all hell.
Logically, he knew he had to be out here, in the wild. It was just par for the course - that course being defeating Calamity Ganon. Hard ground and exposure to the elements were just something he had to deal with on a daily basis. Still, the fact that it was his definition of ‘normal’ wasn’t much comfort. Deciding that this particular spot was ‘good enough,’ the Champion of Hyrule dropped several planks of wood on the ground. He was close to the path, here, but far enough away from the Bridge to avoid bokoblin scouts. As long as the stalkoblins he’d defeated earlier would do him the courtesy of staying dead , he’d be fine to just pass out right there in the dirt.
‘Need to make a campfire,’ Link urged himself. His body ached as he moved again, searching his pockets for flint. He stopped after a moment, finding none. With an annoyed grunt, he pulled his bow from his back. One quick draw and shot of a fire arrow later, he had a cheerful blaze crackling before him. He frowned at the makeshift campfire. ‘ Need to stop doing that ,’ he chastised. ‘ ...and buy more arrows. ’
Link dropped to the ground, too tired and frankly too uncaring to remove any of his gear. He scanned the lake with his Sheikah Slate’s camera, going over the nooks and crannies he had explored earlier in the day. The adventure had resulted in finding nothing but annoyed lizalfos and octoroks waiting to beat him with clubs and rocks. Grumpy, and in pain, Link pulled at his hood, drawing the fabric over his eyes.
‘I could sleep right here,’ he mused. ‘Could just...fall asleep…for once...’
The sound of a splash had him sitting ramrod straight, one hand still clutching his bow and the other reaching for his quiver. His ears twitched, straining to hear if it was just a fish, or yet another lizalfos. His arms protested as he moved to nock an arrow, turning slowly towards the water. The flames flickered on the river’s surface, but he couldn’t spot anything in the dark depths. With care, Link drew his arrow, watching. Waiting for the slightest indication that whatever had made the noise was still there.
‘Too big to be a fish,’ he rationalized, replaying the splash in his mind. ‘Has to be a lizalfos. Or--’
An enormous creature suddenly leapt from the water, holding a silverscale spear that gleamed in the firelight. Link cursed, taking aim quickly and letting his arrow fly. It scraped across the creature’s arm, just as its spear came crashing down to retaliate. Link barely move in time for the blade to miss his vitals, instead tearing through the skin of his own upper arm.
The champion flinched, glaring at the wound. Sloppy dodge. Goddess, he was so tired . His body screamed as he moved back, trying again to draw his bow, only to stop mid-motion.
Sidon, Prince of the Zora, stood in front of him - holding a bloody spear and looking absolutely horrified .
“Link!! ” The zora exclaimed, dropping his weapon. “I thought you were a lizalfos! Goddess, I’m sorry! Are you alright?!” The large zora knelt by the hylian, grasping for Link’s arm. “Let me see--”
“It’s fine,” Link blurted out, unthinking. ‘I shot at Sidon,’ he realized, his mind racing. ‘Is he--? Did I--?’
“Thank Hylia, my spear only seems to have grazed you--Hm?” Sidon’s attention was drawn to Link tapping on his arm with his good hand. “What is it?”
“Did I just shoot you?” Link demanded.
“Oh,” Sidon blinked, turning to examine his own arm. “Well, I did feel something. Ah, yes,” he turned his arm towards Link slightly, showing off a small cut on the underside of his shoulder-fins. “Just a scratch!” At Link’s burning stare, he added, “It’s alright - I’m sure I startled you, as well! I certainly didn’t expect you to be at Lake Hylia.”
With a huff, Link turned away from the zora, digging through his pouches. ‘I actually shot him. I shot Sidon.’ He felt like kicking himself. Sidon had to be one of the kindest people he’d met on his journey to stop Calamity Ganon. One he could always count on as an unending fountain of support. Someone who looked up to him. Cared about him.
And he just injured the zora because he’d been too tired to tell the difference between a lizalfos and a bright red shark man.
‘Pull yourself together,’ he grumbled inwardly, throwing the contents of his packs around the makeshift camp.
Sidon’s eyes widened as Link continued to pull different materials from his belongings. Monster parts, mostly, but also food. Meat skewers. Bokoblin horns. An electro elixir - Was that the same one he gave the champion when they’d met? Was that a claymore?
Link let out a victorious, though frustrated, sigh. He pulled out a small bottle with bright red contents. A hearty elixir. He thrust the concoction at Sidon, nodding at the wound on the zora’s arm.
“That’s for me, is it?” Sidon smiled. “I’m grateful, but isn’t your injury worse than mine?” he gestured to the bloody mess of Link’s sleeve. “You should be the one to drink it.” Link petulantly thrust the elixir at Sidon again, only for the prince to push it back. “Link, you are more injured of the two of us. I insist.”
‘Of course ,’ Link’s shoulders slumped. The prince would be too concerned about him to take the elixir. Trying to argue with Sidon wasn’t going to get him anywhere - that he knew from experience. He squinted at the elixir in his hand. Surely he didn’t need to drink all of it to heal his arm? The wound wasn’t as bad as that. His eyes flicked to Sidon, who sat patiently, waiting for Link to finally give up and heal himself.
Bracing himself for the taste of hearty lizard and bokoblin guts, Link took a swig of the concoction. Grimacing, he wiped the last traces of the liquid from his mouth with the back of his hand. Half the elixir was left, swishy gently against the glass. As the warm, fuzzy healing effect began to spread through him, Link grabbed one of Sidon’s large, clawed hands. He shoved the remaining elixir into it.
“Take the rest.”
Sidon laughed. “A brilliant solution, my friend. Very well,” he drained the last of the elixir in a single gulp, wincing at the repulsive taste. He held the bottle away, as if it had burned him. “I do hope you don’t rely on these elixirs, Link. They’re not exactly…I’m not certain there’s a word for that particular flavor.”
“They’re disgusting,” Link acknowledged, taking the empty bottle back and throwing it into a pouch.
“To put it mildly,” Sidon agreed, running his tongue against his sharp teeth, wondering if he could scrape the taste off. “I was thinking more along the lines of ‘utterly vile.’” The prince’s gaze fell to the cut from Link’s arrow, watching it curiously as it healed. “They seem to be effective, at least.”
Link grunted in response, shoving his belongings back into their respective containers.
“I must apologize again, Link,” Sidon fretted. “I couldn’t see that it was you. With all that gear you have, it really looked like--! If I had known you were the one setting up camp, I--!”
Link held a hand up to silence his friend, then waved the problem away. With a smirk, he pointed to Sidon’s arm. “We’re even.”
Sidon barked a laugh. “Hardly. A spear to a Hylian does far more damage than an arrow to a Zora.” When Link only shrugged and sat down next to the fire, Sidon frowned. “You’re certain you’re alright?”
Link confirmed with a weary smile. He hoped it was reassuring.
Sidon didn’t seem convinced. “It’s unlike you to aim a shot so poorly at such close range.” He moved to sit himself, plopping down right next to the champion. “You seem tired. Have you slept?”
“For a hundred years,” Link deadpanned.
“I meant recently,” Sidon clarified, an amused smirk on his lips. “Have you been sleeping properly?”
Link stared at the prince, seemingly bewildered. The dark circles present under his eyes answered for him. “Is that something people do?”
“Generally,” Sidon smiled at the champion, though his eyes softened in unsaid sympathy.
“Sounds nice.” Link turned his eyes back to the fire.
“You should rest,” the prince suggested. “You shouldn’t be pushing yourself so hard all the time, my friend. Even if your role is to defeat Calamity Ganon, Hyrule has waited a hundred years. It can stand to wait a few hours for you to sleep!”
The hylian gave a noncommittal grunt, laying his arms on his knees. A hundred years. Link fought to keep a grimace off his face. A hundred years while he was sleeping.
How could he possibly sleep now?
He shut that train of thought down before it got a chance to get started. It didn’t matter now. Saving Zelda was priority. Saving Hyrule, and its inhabitants. Saving his friends. Keeping them safe from Calamity Ganon. The champion’s eyes flicked over to his large companion.
Keeping friends like Sidon safe.
Of course, that was a feat in and of itself, considering the zora prince could be nearly as reckless as Link, at times. Even now, he was geared up for a fight. He wore armor Link had never seen him wear before, not even against Vah Ruta. Normally, it was only the royal regalia, but his friend sat with heavier pauldrons and a half cuirass, like his guards. Looking lower, he could see Sidon even had faulds attached to his regular belt to protect his fins. He was battle-ready.
Raising an eyebrow, Link openly stared at the armor. “What’s that for?”
“Ah! Yes, I haven’t explained myself, have I?” Sidon drew a finger up to his lips in thought. “Where to begin...Well, since you defeated Vah Ruta, the Domain has been at relative peace. Life has resumed its normal routine, except…” His eyes narrowed as he turned his head to the lake. “The lizalfos have all but abandoned the area. It’s a break from their routine, and even our elders can’t fathom why they would do such a thing. After all, our rivalry with them has lasted for thousands of years. For them to abandon the fight without a word is highly out of the ordinary! My father saw fit to send my unit and I to investigate Lake Hylia, where their stronghold is, only...” Sidon’s fins drooped. “We are unsure where the stronghold is exactly.”
Frowning, Link pulled out his Sheikah Slate, flipping through the pictures he took while exploring. ‘I was running all over it today,’ he thought. ‘I didn’t see any stronghold.’ The pictures held nothing out of the ordinary, and the lake was calm now. The water was pitch black, but the surface reflected the sky like a mirror. Nothing moved on it - not a single lizalfos, and certainly not a whole army’s worth.
He didn’t see any other zora, either.
“...your unit?” Link inquired, resting his Slate on his lap.
“Yes, they should have arrived earlier than I,” Sidon nodded. “I would have been with them, but a couple of hylians upstreams required assistance.” At Link’s waiting stare, he elaborated, “They were having trouble with a few octoroks. I disposed of the monsters, and they were surprisingly determined to offer me something as thanks. They wouldn’t let me leave until they found something to give me.” The zora crossed his arms across his chest. “I’m not certain why...I certainly didn’t do it for thanks.”
Link studied the prince before him, decked out in shining silver armor. Brilliant red and white scales glimmered in the light of the campfire. His handsome face studied the flames as he thought, puzzling over the events of that afternoon. Link could almost picture the scene - a victorious Sidon coming to the rescue, with his beautiful features near-dazzling in the last moments of sunset. A confident, winning grin plastered on his face as the water dripped off rippling zora muscle.
‘I think I know why.’ Link tried to stifle his knowing grin, but Sidon caught it before he’d managed to hide his face.
“Link? What is it?”
The hylian coughed unconvincingly, now determined to change the subject. “I didn’t see other zora,” he gestured to the lake.
“No?” Sidon frowned, turning his own sharp eyes to the water. “They should have arrived hours ago…How long have you been here?”
“All…? Doing what?” he asked, attention back on Link.
“Hunting lizalfos,” Link shrugged. “Looking for Shrines.”
“And you saw no one else?” Sidon continued, his expression grim. At the shake of Link’s head, Sidon stood. “They must be here - they couldn’t be anywhere else! Perhaps they found the lizalfos stronghold after all!” He went to pick up his spear, wincing at the blood on the tip. Sidon cleaned the weapon quickly, dipping it into the river. Satisfied that the blood was off his spear, the prince turned to leap into the water. “I must search the lake at once! I’m certain they’re waiting--”
Link’s blood ran cold. Sure, there were few lizalfos lurking in the lake now, and Sidon was a trained warrior. Geared up as he was, he shouldn’t have much trouble with the local monsters.
It was the other creature in the lake that concerned him.
“Wait!” Link was on his feet, grabbing for Sidon’s arm before the zora could jump. The prince stopped, looking down at the hylian with bewilderment. “There’s a -- the -- it’s--” Link shook his head as he fumbled over his words. He paused, taking a moment collect himself. His fingers rubbed at his eyelids, trying vainly to get his brain to focus on speaking when all it wanted was sleep.
The hylian squinted at the prince with tired eyes. He pointed at a spot in the water, on the far side of the bridge. “Farosh.”
Sidon’s head tilted to the side in confusion. “...What is Farosh?”
“A lightning dragon,” Link summarized. He didn’t miss the way Sidon tensed at the mention of lightning. With the zora people naturally weak to shock arrows, he could only imagine the hell they would face trying to go against a creature that dropped electricity simply by flying around.
“Such a thing exists?” Sidon questioned, his eyes wide. “A lightning...dragon?”
“Lives in the lake,” Link confirmed. “Comes out around midnight.” He pointed at the spot beyond the bridge again, following Farosh’s normal flight path with his finger. “...til morning.”
Sidon’s grip on his spear tightened. “Midnight is…”
“Hm. I suppose it would be unwise for me to search then. At least, until morning…” He studied the face of his small friend, who stood, slightly swaying, eyeing him with a warning look. The smaller man looked dead on his feet, yet still summoned the energy to prevent the zora from running blindly into danger. ‘So tired and still thinking of protecting others,’ the prince smiled. Still, the issue of his unit’s location had to be addressed. While Link’s concern was touching, he had a duty to his people. He was their prince. Their leader.
“All the more reason I should move quickly,” he decided. “They could be in danger with such a creature lurking!” He moved his arm away, intending to free it from Link’s grasp.
Link stayed put.
Sidon blinked down at the champion who currently held a death grip on his arm. “Uh,” the zora shook his arm a little, and Link stubbornly clung tighter. The little champion proceeded to wrap his own arms around Sidon’s, clamping around the appendage with a defiant glare. Sidon knelt next to the other, sighing. “My friend, I will...I need that arm. Will you please let go?”
“Stay,” Link demanded.
“I cannot simply wait around as my unit is--!”
“I’ll go with you!” the champion pressed, tightening his arms. If shock arrows could kill a zora with ease, then Sidon stood no chance once Farosh showed itself. He knew the dragon’s route. He could keep Sidon out of danger. Just until they found his unit...The champion tried to ignore the burning sensation behind his eyes. They screamed for sleep. He squeezed them shut, pressing his face against Sidon’s scales. ‘Can’t sleep. Not now. Not until I know he’ll be safe.’
Sidon startled. “You...Link, you are exhausted. You need to rest!”
Shaking his head, Link further burying his face against the zora’s arm. “I’ll be fine,” he mumbled. “Just don’t…”
Sidon felt the hylian’s fingers dig into his scales. For him, it was only a sensation of pressure, but he was certain the action must hurt for the hylian.
“Farosh…” Link mumbled.
Sidon’s shoulders slumped. He knew he could be stubborn, but Link’s determination was something else entirely. Not to mention the fact that his friend had to be in pain, digging against zora scales like he was. He glanced uneasily at the dark surface of the lake, calm and smooth, like glass. Something must have happened to his fellow zora, that much was for certain. He couldn’t sit idly by as their prince.
With his free hand, Sidon pat the hylian’s back, rubbing gently. “...you’ll injure yourself, clinging like that.” Link didn’t budge. He spared a final glance back to the water. No unit. A lightning dragon. Untold numbers of lizalfos in a hidden stronghold.
...Link was right.
A search now would be one of the most bull-headed things he had ever done. Link knew the area far better. It would be wiser to search with the champion. Though it injured his pride as the zora prince, he had to admit he was out of his element here.
“Perhaps…” Sidon started, hand still rubbing Link’s back. “Perhaps, instead, I can keep watch over the camp as you rest? You will be able to sleep, and I will be here to greet my compatriots if...when they turn up.”
Link lifted his head, slightly. Still glaring. His bright blue eyes pierced through the dark of the night, reflecting the flames of the crackling campfire.
Sidon felt his chest squeeze at the imprints of his own scales on Link’s face. They hadn’t cut the champion, thankfully, but there were still obvious marks on the hylian’s soft skin. “...I won’t search the lake. Not until morning,” he reassured his friend. “After you have rested, and are able to join me.”
The fiery glare lessened to a simmering stare of suspicion.
“You have my word, my friend!” Sidon flashed him his trademark grin. He would have managed the fist pump as well, were he not certain he would end up pulling Link off the ground in doing so. “I will follow your lead on this matter - you know the area and the enemies here better than I.”
His eyes shutting, Link breathed a small sigh of relief. Nodding to Sidon, he released his grip. He flexed his fingers, noting with the strain that he had nicked them on the zora’s scales. Small matter, he decided. Sidon wouldn’t be heading straight into danger now. Little cuts like these would be healed by morning. Sluggishly, he walked back to the spot he had been sitting in by the campfire.
Instead of sitting, however, he unceremoniously collapsed.
Sidon reached out, worried briefly by the fall, until Link shifted. The hylian curled in on himself, his back to the zora, wrapping his cloak tighter and getting more comfortable on the ground. Sidon chuckled at the absurd action, moving to sit next to the exhausted champion.
“Ready for bed then?” he asked. Link grunted in reply, and Sidon held back a laugh. He watched the slow rise and fall of Link’s chest. With all his gear still on, it didn’t look comfortable, but the hylian seemed beyond caring.
‘Even lying on the arm I injured,’ Sidon marveled. ‘It must be healed, then.’
The moon rose higher. After a few minutes of hearing nothing but the crackle and pop of the fire, another noise started up. A terrible noise. Sidon wasn’t sure he had ever heard anything like it. The sound tore through the quiet of the night like a bear’s growl, but it was higher pitched. Even. Repetitive.
It was coming from Link.
More specifically, it seemed to be coming from Link’s nose. Every time the champion breathed in, the noise started up again. Sidon nearly prodded the hylian awake to ask him what the matter was. However, Link still seemed to be breathing perfectly well. He was reluctant to wake the champion, eyeing those dark circles again. Despite the sound, Link didn’t seem to be in any kind of distress. If anything, he looked to be at peace - more tranquil than Sidon had ever seen him.
Every so often, Link would shift, and the noise would stop. But, inevitably, it would start again once the hylian was comfortable. Sidon watched, burning with curiosity.
‘ Hylians are such a strange bunch, ’ he decided. Zora certainly didn’t make noises like that as they slept. ‘ Do all of them make that noise when they sleep? Is it only Link? ’ The innkeeper at Zora’s Domain would likely know. He would make a point to ask her.
Suddenly, the camp lit up with a bright, green light.
The wind picked up, although Sidon wasn’t certain from which direction it originated. He stood, eyes on the lake. Wary. The water remained quiet, almost undisturbed, except in the spot that Link had indicated earlier.
The prince’s jaw dropped when he spotted the dragon.
This was Farosh. Its body was long, undulating, almost like watching a river leap from the ground to flow into the sky. Brilliant silver scales gleamed green and yellow, crackling with electricity. Balls of lightning fell from the beast, floating gently down to the bridge and water below, only to disperse in bursts of small sparks. The light that Sidon had spotted emanated from the beast itself - pulsing rhythmically across its body as the dragon climbed higher into the air. Its movements were slow, almost lazy, as it drifted over its usual route.
“Goddess above,” Sidon breathed.
Lightning had always been terrifying to him. The threat of the Lynel’s shock arrows. Lizalfos raids on his people. Lightning storms. Pain. Death. Every instance he had seen electricity used before had been terrifying. As Farosh twisted and twirled through the wind, however, dancing among its dreadful power, Sidon found himself entranced.
It was beautiful. Beautiful and enormous . The zora was large among his own people, but he was certain he would barely be the size of the dragon’s head were he to approach it. Seeing it now, he understood why Link had been so concerned. He wouldn’t, nor would any of his people, last a second against a creature like Farosh. If the orbs of electricity falling from the dragon were any indication, the zora wouldn’t be able to even get near , let alone face the monster in battle.
Here, though, at the edge of the lake, he could watch Farosh’s flight safely. Sidon returned to his seat next to the champion, incredulous. The hylian’s gear was lit with the calm glow of the dragon, and the bright light danced over his face, but Link continued to sleep soundly. Undisturbed.
Sidon’s eyes were drawn back to the source of that light.
Link had known about Farosh. Seen this incredible sight before. Multiple times probably, since he seemed to know the creature’s exact flight pattern.
Sidon felt a pang of envy in his chest. Link was able to travel all across Hyrule, meeting so many different people. Finding so many wonderous things. Something like Farosh was normal for the hylian. Meanwhile, Sidon had stayed close to the Domain. Never knowing dragons were real. Never knowing that lightning , something he knew instinctively would spell his end, could be harnessed by such a magnificent being.
He watched Farosh for hours. The sight of the dragon would be etched in his memory forever, he knew. Sidon felt fortunate - fortunate to see such beauty in motion, and fortunate to have met Link in the first place. Without the other, he was certain he would never have seen anything like this.
A short, distressed moan had Sidon snapping his attention back to Link. The hylian was still asleep, but shaking. Shivering. Sidon’s eyes narrowed. Link was fully covered and next to the campfire. He couldn’t be cold.
With extreme care, Sidon pulled the hood of Link’s cloak backward, revealing more of the hylian’s face. His expression was pinched, as though he were in pain. Link’s teeth ground together as he let out another groan.
‘A nightmare? ’ Sidon wondered, leaning further over to examine his friend.
Beads of sweat were forming on Link’s brow, and he shifted jarringly, a leg kicking out to hit some unseen threat.
The prince reached out, touching Link’s head lightly. He wiped the sweat away with his thumb, pressing only mildly more, smoothing out the knitted muscle.
“It’s alright, Link,” he found himself muttering. “Everything’s alright, my friend. You’re safe.”
As Sidon ran his thumb over Link’s forehead, running gently through the hylian’s hair, Link began to relax again. His tense shoulders eased, and the look of pain faded back into a peaceful slumber. Soon, he was breathing easily again, fast asleep.
Nightmares. No wonder the hylian hadn’t been sleeping. Sidon found himself frowning, in spite of himself. ‘He sees so many wonderous things,’ the zora thought. ‘...but at such a terrible cost.’ Link was able to travel and see creatures like Farosh as an almost daily occurrence. Marvelous adventures daily, with so many places to explore and discover.
Meanwhile, Calamity Ganon raged.
The zora prince considered himself to be at least somewhat brave. He was handy with a spear and a rapier. He could take down octoroks, even if they’d swallowed him whole. With the help of his people, he could fight lizalfos armies and come out victorious. He earned constant praise for his continued defense of the Domain.
Link did it all. Alone.
‘How many creatures like Farosh has he seen? How many are content to go about peacefully? ’ Sidon wondered. ‘And how many that are the opposite?’ His dear friend had to face horror after horror in his journey. At the end of it all, he had to face Calamity Ganon. Only the Hero wielding the Master Sword stood a chance. The most important duty in the land fell squarely on Link’s shoulders.
Farosh flew higher, disappearing into the clouds above. Sunlight began to peek over the horizon, shining onto Lake Hylia.
It was then that Sidon realized he was still petting Link’s head. The realization came mostly due to Link himself, who leaned into the touch, unconsciously. Sidon took a steadying breath. Come sunrise, they would need to search the lake. There was still no sign of his unit. The zora let his hand rest on the Link’s soft hair, willing the champion to rest as long as he needed.
He would need his help very soon.