The youngest of the Kokiri children – a young boy with blond hair, scurries through the clover, ignoring the cries and calls of his friends as he rushes past – chasing the giggling fairy as she flies just out of his reach. “Come back here!” He giggles, fingers just barely touching the trail of sparkling fairy dust she leaves in her wake. The little fairy laughs, light flickering with mirth as she watches the young Kokiri follow uselessly after her. He’d never catch her – but she made a point to stay just outside his reach, reveling in the thrill of the chase. As they come upon the tunnel leading to the outside world, she pulls up, perching on the lip and giggling mischievously as the boy tumbles into the dark mouth of the tunnel, following a fairy that was no longer in front of him.
Coming out the other side the boy takes a look around, pouting as he realizes the little fairy had tricked him once again, and huffily sitting down on the side of the rope bridge. He watches sadly as tiny fairy lights dance in the forest grotto below him, wishing just one of them would chose him as their life companion. So lost in his melancholy thoughts as he is, he doesn’t hear the clank of heavy armor until the bridge sways beneath him, a heavy weight disturbing the balance.
“What’s wrong little one?” A gruff voice asks, accent unfamiliar to the little Kokiri.
He doesn’t bother look up, and the little voice in his head that took on Saria’s voice when he was being particularly foolish, told him it was dangerous to be so complacent this close to the field. He pushed it away with practiced ease, resuming his moping with a sigh. “The fairies don’t want to be my friend.” He answers, chubby cheek squished against the rope he rests his head against.
“What a silly thing to be upset about.” The man scoffs, “The fairies don’t like me overly much either, but that doesn’t deter me.”
The boy finally turns, staring up at the man in astonishment, undeterred by his intimidating appearance. “But everyone has a fairy!” he gasps.
“You don’t see a pesky glow-fly flitting about my head do you boy?”
“No,” The boy giggles, trying and failing to hide the sound behind his hands. “I think you’d look silly with one anyway!”
He scrambles to stand, moving close to the strange man with not even a trace of fear in his eyes. He pulls on the man’s belt to get his attention. “You’re different! Like me!” The boy smiles, eyes shining.
“I find myself wondering just what could have possibly given you such a strange idea.”
The boy scuffs a toe in the dirt, smile faltering. “I’m not like the other Kokiri. I grow too fast – and too much! And I can’t hear the fairies like the others do… not well anyways.”
“Is that really so bad?” the man asks. “I come from a tribe of only women, I am the first man to be born to the tribe in one hundred years.”
The boy tries to imagine what it would be like; living in a village composed entirely of women, and his face scrunches at the thought of countless Saria’s nagging him to take a bath. Surely not all of them could be as cleanly as Saria? He leans closer to the strange man, to give him a curious sniff. “But, you smell bad!” He exclaims in amazement, face alight with his wonder.
The man looks down at the boy with a mixture of amused indignation. “What a thing to say to someone you’ve just met!”
The boy, for his part looks almost contrite. “I only meant that- well my friend Saria, and her friends – they’re girls! They make me take baths with smelly soaps, and they won’t catch snakes or bugs with me!” He looks up at the man, eyes shining. “Do you know how to catch bugs?”
The man simply chuckles, shaking his head in disbelief. “Yes I believe I’ve caught a fair few bugs in my day.” He looks down his nose at the young boy. “What’s your name, boy?”
That same bright smile breaks across the boy’s face as he introduces himself. “My name’s Link, sir!” He chirps.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, young Link. I am Ganondorf of the Gerudo tribe. You may call me Ganon, if you like.”
Link continues to smile, as he takes Ganondorf’s hand and bounds towards the entrance back into the forest. Babbling about all the places you could find bugs in the lost woods, and how excited he was to show his new friend all of them. Only to slam into a barrier, as he tried to enter the hollow log. Link looks back in astonishment, finding Ganon only chuckling on the other side of the shimmering barrier that had come to life the minute he touched it. “Mr. Ganon?”
Ganondorf shakes his head. “I cannot enter the sacred forest, Link. Only those who maintain a pure heart can pass this barrier.” He runs a hand over the barrier, surface solid as glass against his fingers. “I cannot pass.”
Link frowns, reaching across the barrier to reclaim Ganon’s hand and yelping as a sharp pain ran up his arm. He drops the strange man’s hand with a frown. He passes through the barrier, and slumps back down by his new friend. Formulating a new plan, or perhaps just trying to make sense of this new information. Ganondorf settles down beside him, dusting off his leathers as he goes.
“Mr. Ganon?” Link turns to the man, tone soft and confused. “How come, the barrier allows me through – but not you?”
Ganondorf looks down at the young boy, face unreadable. “I’ve already told you. The barrier prevents those with impure hearts to pass through.” He pauses for only a moment, turning back to watch the fairies dance in the meadow below. “I have not been ‘pure’ for a very long time, Link.”
Link huffs beside him. “I don’t think that’s fair. So what if you’re not ‘pure’? what does that even mean! You’re not bad, I know it!”
Ganondorf chuckles at the young boy’s exclamation. “You are far too trusting, child. Perhaps I am far more dangerous than you assume? Perhaps I came here simply to burn your quaint forest to the ground?”
Link pauses, a new question forming on the tip of his tongue. “Why did you come? Saria says that big people can’t find us…?”
Ganondorf simply stands, giving no explanation. “I think it is time you scurry back to your friends, Link – they’re sure to be worried about you by now.” He gestures to the sky, drawing the Kokiri child’s attention to the violet sky peppered with various stars beginning to wake from their slumber.
Link tries to argue, says that he wants to stay with Ganon – wants to go with him back to that strange village of women and no baths, but the man remains firm.
“This is your home child. Enjoy it. I sense a great journey lies in your future – you’ll have plenty of time to explore the outside world when the time comes.” Ganon herds the boy towards the barrier with gentle nudges.
He wasn’t prepared for the little Kokiri to turn and wrap himself around his knees in a fierce hug. “You’ll come back and visit – right Mr. Ganon?”
His brain comes back online after a few seconds, and a melancholy smile lifts the corners of his lips only slightly. “We will meet again, forest child Link. Of this I am sure.”
That sunny smile beams up at him from his knees, and the child gives him one more squeeze before releasing him, and running through the barrier – pausing to give him a wave before he disappears into the darkness without a word.
Years later, Link would look back at this encounter and wonder at it’s tame nature, he’d feel betrayed and naïve, sure that Ganondorf had simply been scoping the area in search of the sacred Kokiri emerald. Though his aura is tainted by war by the time Link faces down with Ganondorf, the king see’s the purity of the Kokiri child’s heart remains untainted by the years that have passed.
Years of war and pain, and he maintains the pure heart of a child.