The Fairy the Boy and the Bartender
Even though its happy hour 2 days before the celestial carnivals kick off, there are only two patrons in the bar. Gorman’s asleep at the counter still clutching his drink and Toto is off in a corner booth scribbling musical notes on napkins to add to his crumpled collection growing on the floor. I wipe down the empty counter for the 10th time that night wondering if maybe there was something to the whole moon falling rumor everyone has been debating lately. I snapped to attention when the door chimed open. We get a large number of strange customers at the Latté but I was still thrown off by the boy who walked in accompanied by his fairy.
The kid couldn’t have been more than 12 but he was equipped with a sword and a shield. This wasn’t practice equipment though, I’m no expert or anything but they looked to be pretty high quality. The sign on the door clearly said no minors but the kid strolled right up to the bar unapologetically his glowing white fairy bobbing beside him level to his head. Who did he think he was with that weird get up and dumb hat?
“Hey kid you can’t be in here.” I said. He doesn’t respond. “Are you in charge here?” The fairy asked with authority. I can barely make out her features inside her personal light aura. Not that I was ever good at gauging a fairy’s age. Even if she was the kids chaperon minors inside the bar after dark was prohibited. “I am.” I answered her. “Good we need some information.” The fairy says all businesslike “Look,” I start. “That kid isn’t supposed to—“
“Worry less about the kid and more about me if I don’t get what I want!” The fairy was flashing a bright angry red. Great, a lady with a temper. That’s something I never could deal with.
Small as she was, that threatening red hue was kind of intimidating. While this exchange was going on the kid clambered onto one of the stools, his short legs swinging freely. I scowled at him, thinking if I couldn’t get to the fairy, I’d at least show the kid who was boss. But the kid just… stared back. I’ve never seen eyes so intense let alone from a child. He didn’t smile, or pout, or glare. He just … stared. I could feel beads of sweat forming as our staring contested progressed. At last I reached my limit as an involuntary shudder rattled up and down my spine. I turned my back on the pair quickly hoping the kid hadn’t noticed but knowing he did. Who were these guys? I pretended to be looking through the vast shelf stock however, since it was clear how absolutely dead it was tonight, the ploy was beyond pitiful.
Hem hem. The Fairy cleared her throat impatiently. I turned back slowly attempting to regain my composure. “Yes ma’am?” “We need information.” The fairy repeated. “Sorry but Latté services are for patrons only.” I said stubbornly. “Fine, give the kid a milk.” The fairy responded. I shot an annoyed glace at the kid thought better of it then quickly resumed my professional demeanor. “25 rupees.” I declare blankly. True I hiked up the price. But I had every right this pair weren’t exactly making my job easy. I figured they would probably hear the outrageous price and leave in disgust, which was fine by me. That’s not at all what happened. I watch the kid pull out this huge wallet. To call it a giant wallet would be no exaggeration. The thing could probably hold like 500 rupees! He just fishes the money out, lays it on the counter like a boss, and looks at me expectantly for his drink. I’m frozen momentarily never ceasing to be shocked by this pair but once I come to, I hurriedly grab a large mug from the back counter and fill it to the brim with our famous frothy milk. “Here you are sir.” I say gently setting the mug down in front of the kid. Then carefully collect the rupees.
My attitude did a 180. I wasn’t sure who these two were but I was starting to figure it out. What I did know is they were tough, mysterious, and apparently rich too! So being on their good side was good for business, and probably my health. “So, miss what did you want to know?” I ask the fairy wringing my hands both humbly and apologetically. “This place is pretty empty.” The fairy said bluntly. “is it always like this?” “No.” I replied a bit stunned by her bluntness in spite of myself. “It’s usually pretty lively at night and even more so around carnival time it’s only this year because of… “
“The moon?” She completed my sentence. “Yeah because of the moon.” I confirmed. “A lot of people are taking refuge.” “And what about you?” “What about me?” “Do you think it will fall?” I turned the question over in my head. Honestly, I wasn’t sure. The idea of the moon falling out of the sky and crushing all of Termina just seemed kind of ridicules. But there was no denying if you really pay attention it does seem to be getting bigger all the time. When people started raving about the imp and the end times a little while ago, I did entertain the idea of leaving Clock town but, honestly what’s there for me out there? If Termina really does get destroyed well.. That’s it for me. My thoughts drifted to Cremia who was supposed to make a delivery to the bar tomorrow night. Her visits were always the highlight of my week. Maybe now that Kafe and Anjun were finally getting married we could…
The kid pushed back from the bar and hopped of the stool. I watch him, while stalling for time, stroll right over to Toto’s booth. My false fascination turned into actual puzzlement as I watched him gently remove Toto’s writing utensil from his hand and proceed to write on an unused napkin. “What’s he doing?” I asked the fairy. Hoping she had a clue of why her friend is harassing one of my most faithful customers. “Didn’t I tell you not to worry about the kid?” She reminded me. “Um yeah I guess you did... Sorry what were you asking me?” “The moon” she repeated. “Do you think it will fall?” “Well...”, I started slowly. “It’s hard to say. A lot of weird things have been going on; really, I’m not sure what to believe. There’s no guarantee that the moon will really fall and even if it does no one knows if there’s any place that will be safe. But Clock Town is my home and the Latté is my life. I figure if the world really is ending, I’d rather it end while I was living life the only way I know how.” The fairy didn’t respond. I watched the rhythmic beating of her large delicate wings as she bobbed up and down. I suddenly started worrying if my explanation sounded dumb to her. “If you look around Clock Town, you’ll see a lot of people who feel the same.” I added defensively. “Just look at the carpenters, or the stock pot inn owners or even— “
I was cut off as a beautiful melody came drifting across the room to serenade my ear drums. I looked to the source and saw the kid was playing an odd-looking instrument. It almost looked like a large lopsided shell, but it was alluring all the same. I listed captivated by the soothing melody played by this mysterious boy. Toto was gleefully nodding, and occasionally clapping while the kid performed. He seemed almost beside himself. Even Gorman, who I thought was down for the count raised his head up and propped it up on his arm to better hear the music. Only the fairy seemed to be unfazed by this musical marvel. I assumed she’s grown accustom to her prodigy of a companion. When I did manage to tear my eyes away from the kid, I notice the fairy was mumbling to herself.
“Well, that would make our jobs easier.” She muttered. “What kind of work do you two do? Are your performers? “I asked curiously. They wouldn’t be the only performing troop who traveled to Clock Town for the carnival. “So what your saying is you plan on keeping the place open no matter what?” She asks resuming our prior conversation as if there hadn’t been a hiatus. “Well yeah that’s the plan… “I wasn’t sure where she was going with this conversation. “Word on the street is the mayor’s wife is a frequent customer here is that true?” “Madame Aroma?” I asked thrown by another sudden turn in the conversation. “Yeah, she’s here more nights than not.” “We need to speak to her It’s very important.” “Okaaaaay.” My curiosity was boundless. Interacting with these two, I could easily believe they would have important business with the town’s officials. I was increasingly glad I decided to oblige them. “We can’t afford to waste any time.” The fairy explained. “Do you know if she will be here tomorrow night?” I thought about Cremia’s delivery tomorrow and I brief wave anger washed over me as I thought about the rumors going around about Cremia playing a role in Anju and Kafe’s wedding complications. “No I don’t think she would be here tomorrow night but definitely the day after that.” “Are you sure about that?” The fairy questioned. “Absolutely!” I said confidently. It was kind of a long story and I hoped she wouldn’t ask for more details. “So I guess we should come back on the night of the 3rd day. This might be tricky.” She said more to herself than anyone else.
I noticed then that the music had stopped and I glanced over to Toto’s corner to see what the kid was up to. Toto was shaking hands vigorously with the kid’s hand clasped in both of his shacking and bowing in succession. I turned back to the fairy watching her bobbing up and down absently for a minute.” Is there anything else you need to know?” I asked. “Hmm? No. Thank you.” She said absently as if surprised I was still there. I watched slightly disappointed as she floated over to the kid who had returned to his stool and was flipping through a little notebook. It was filled with colorful stickers and I smiled to myself thinking he really is a kid after all. I did take a moment to ponder if the kid was carrying the book when he walked in. “We’ll have to try on the night of the 3rd day.” I heard the fairy say to the kid. That’s the 2nd time she said that. I thought puzzled. 2 days from now is the end of the week why does she keep referring to it as the 3rd day.
I inched closer hoping to hear snatches of their conversation but beyond the 1st statement it was all whispers and mumbles.
When I was positioned at a better angle, I saw the kid mark a time slot on a page titled third day with a sticker. Could it be? Is it possible that the myriad of colorful stickers littering this kid’s note book could be different engagements? That’s insane! I thought to myself as I watched the kid flip back a few pages. Not even the most time efficient, strategic planner could manage that many appointments. I dismissed the idea entirely when I saw some areas marked where the kid would need to be in two or even three places at once. Before I could devise a new theory about the stickers, I heard the familiar BONG! BONG! of the Grand Clock Tower.
12 O.clock already!? I said aloud. Wow! It’s like times just flying by! “Common, “the Fairy said. “Or we’ll be too late to stop the mugging.” The boy hopped of the stool once more and grabbed the till then untouched mug from the counter. With his free hand on his hip, he tossed the mug back and drained the mug in a few large gulps. Beh! He exclaimed in what I assume was pleasure. Then he wiped the hint of a frothy milk mustache from his upper lip. “It’s good right?” I asked. I couldn’t hold back a huge grin that spread over my face. The boy gave a quick but deep nod and as he turned to leave, he reached into his wallet, pulled out a rupee and flipped it expertly in my direction. I attempted to grab it and missed, which was fine because it landed right into my empty tip jar. What a marksman! The kid knew exactly what he was doing. The pair left the bar as casually as they entered. Did the fairy say they were going to stop a mugging? I shook my head. Nah I probably miss heard, though with a pair like that, who knows what kind of antics they get up to?
I reach into my tip jar only to find the night had one more surprise for me. The rupee the kid tossed into my jar was orange. I had mistaken it for red while it flipped and glinted as it sailed through the air. That itself was a pretty nice tip. But an orange rupee!? Not even the mayor himself had ever left me such a tip! I stared into the beautiful gem and thought to myself I have quite a story to tell Cremia tomorrow night. No doubt she’s never seen anything like the boy and his fairy. And maybe it’s time I let her know exactly how I feel. Yeah, I’ll use this rupee to get her something nice and I’ll tell her at the fireworks show. I mean if it really is the end of the world what do I have to lose right? Or maybe it something about that kid. I don’t know. It makes me think... courage.
The Lady the Boy and the Bartender
Laughter echoed throughout the empty room. It was late. Cremia and I were sharing a drink at the Latte`. I tried not to laugh but Cremia’s laughter was infectious. Soon I was rocking with laughter too and it was a long while before it finally subsided. “You’re not taking me seriously!” I accused. I tried to be serious but it’s hard not to smile when you laugh for that long. “I am!” Cremia insisted. “My favorite part was when the kid pulls out his fat wallet.” She said just before descending into a fit of giggles. I waited patiently for it to subside nursing my drink but more than that drinking in Cremia’s beauty. Man, she was gorgeous! This is what I liked. Just the two of us enjoying a late-night drink. There are a lot of things I loved about living in clock town but it was times like these I could never bear to part with. That’s why I knew that even in the face of a potential crisis there was no place I’d rather be.
The giggles finally stopped. Following my lead Cremia began sipping her chateau romani. “You done?” I asked. “Mmh-hmm.” she responded still sipping. “Trust me I know it sounds crazy but I’m telling you these guys were the real deal.” Cremia set down her mug. Leaning forward on her stool she rested her head in both of her hands. “It almost sounds like you were afraid of them.” She said. Why did everything she does have to be so adorable? It makes it difficult to think when you need to respond fast. In this case explain how a kid that was 12 years old tops and a fairy that could fit in my empty bottles could scare a grown man. “It’s not that I was afraid of them…” I began. Which was true. I was honestly quite enjoying their company once I wised up and was actually sorry to see them go when they did. “It’s more like…” I imagined the ghost of the boy sitting there as he had last night. Right next to where Cremia was sitting now. “They were… intimidating.” I finally said unable to find a word that would help preserve my dignity.
Cremia raised an eyebrow smirking. “More the boy than the fairy.” I added hurriedly though I knew it wasn’t really helping. “The way he carried himself was like a solider and I’m not talking about the fresh out of the academy guys that usually draw gate duty I mean he was like a true warrior. But it was his eyes that were most unnerving. When I tried to stare him down it was like trying to stare down a dragon. It was like the kid didn’t know how to feel fear.” “And what would you know about warriors and dragons Mr. Bartender?” Crimea teased. I let out a long deep sigh. She simply wasn’t going to let me win this one. “Would it kill you to cut me some slack every now and then?” I asked before taking a long drink. “I’m just teasing you Tal.” she said placing a gentle hand lightly on my arm. I pretended not to notice drinking deeper and tilting back my glass.
“Actually the boy kind of reminds me of our little Grasshopper.” Cremia said. I set my mug down. It was my turn to raise an eyebrow. “Grasshopper?” “I’m surprised you didn’t ask why I was so late tonight. Weren’t you worried about me at all?” Cremia asked. It was true she was very late. I was worried initially but once she arrived and there didn’t seem to be any problems, I assumed she was trying to avoid Madame Aroma. “Well, I know you can take care of yourself…” I said defensively staring into a corner across the room. “Uh-huh” she responded with a coy smile. “So, what does the boy with the fairy have to do with a grasshopper?” I asked pressing the subject. “Not an actual grasshopper.” Cremia corrected. “It’s more of a nickname. There was a boy that showed up at the ranch with a fairy yesterday” She continued. “He was dressed in green he had a sword and— “
“That’s him!” I interrupted loudly, too excited to contain my outburst. “No I don’t think it was” Crimea said. “But he matches the description exactly!” I insisted. “How often do you see an armed kid garbed in green running around with a fairy? It had to be him.” Cremia shook her head stubbornly. “No, it couldn’t have been the same person.” “What makes you so sure?” I demanded. “It’s a long story.” Cremia sighed. I leaned in exaggeratedly close until Cremia cracked a smile. “Fine.” She said at last. “But I’ll have to give you the condensed version it’s been a crazy couple of days.” “I’ll say.” I agreed.
“Let’s see… Cremia began. I guess I’ll start with the bolder.”
“Yeah don’t ask me how it got there but there was a boulder completely blocking off milk road. One of the Clock Town carpenters was working on breaking it. He said it would take a few days at least. I was really worried it wouldn’t be cleared in time to make my delivery but the next thing I know the carpenters knocking on the front door telling me the ways been cleared. He said a goron showed up out of the blue and blasted the thing with a really powerful bomb then walked off.” “Which carpenter was it? I asked.” The Boss carpenter was blind as a kee. I’d believe he would mistake a pre-teen kid for a towering muscular goron. “It was one of the quintuplets” Crimea answered shattering my theory.
She continued. “Naturally I wanted to thank the nice goron so I rode out to the entrance and actually rode out a good way but never found him. By the time I got back to the ranch I found Romani playing with Grasshopper.”
“Grasshopper the kid?”
“Yes Grasshopper the kid. Anyway, I thought it was a little strange that I hadn’t passed him on my way out but after watching them for a little bit the boy seemed to be harmless and Romani seemed to really be having fun for the 1st time in a while. Even the wild tempered horse we found wandering around seemed to have taken a liking to him. So, I decided to just let them play. I had more than enough work to do anyway. When I saw he was still around near dinner time I told Romani she should invite him to dinner. It wasn’t till dinner that I actually noticed the fairy for the 1st time. They didn’t really say much though considering Romani was there chattering away anyone else getting a word in is an accomplishment.”
I smirked inwardly knowing Crimea can be a regular chatterbox too once she gets going. “I didn’t mind though .” She went on. “It was kind of refreshing to have a lively dinner for a change, and I went the whole day without hearing about, Them.” Cremia rolled her eyes. “Who’s them?” I asked. She said it like I should know. “You know, Romani’s cow stealing ghosts.” “I thought they were supposed to be aliens.” I said confused. “Ghost, Aliens, a hybrid of the two, whatever!” Crimea said impatiently. “It’s the word she uses for them.” Crimea groaned to herself realizing what she’d just said. “Do you know how annoying that can get? Cremia asked.
“Romani has to keep training so They won’t get our cows!” Cremia said in a perfect Romani imitation.
“That’s just Grog and Mamamu Yan, they wouldn’t do that.”
No but They would!
I snickered at Cremia’s impression of a conversation with her sister, thinking this would make a pretty good comedy routine, but apparently Cremia wasn’t trying to be funny. She glared at me for laughing at her misery. I converted the laugh into a clearing of my throat and washed it down with a drink.
“Anyway,” Crimea said after a bit, giving me some time to correct my behavior. “Hopefully I’ll never have to hear about Them again. This morning Romani informed me that she and Grasshopper took care of Them for good.” “Mmmm.” I knew that I was walking a thin line but I wasn’t yet convinced that this Grasshopper wasn’t the same boy in the bar last night. “Maybe… he could have done something…?” I tested. Cremia rolled her eyes again impatiently. “Seriously Tal? You’re as bad as Romani.”Cremia accused. “I’m just saying you are a bit of a skeptic.” I countered. “He could have done…. something…”
“Like what?” Cremia demanded. “Fight off an invasion of cow stealing alien ghosts? I probably just slept through the whole thing right?”
“Well umm… I…” I wasn’t sure what to say to that.
Cremia stared at me almost a minute waiting for me to respond but I couldn’t think of what to say. She sighed. “I know the only reason you’re saying that is because you still think Grasshopper is the boy from yesterday.” Cremia said. I nodded. “Well,” Cremia continued. “I believe that this kid could be a master swordsman. He might be a musical marvel. Maybe he’s the richest person in town, maybe he even has enough clout to barge into the mayor’s office in the middle of a meeting and demand an audience, but answers this,” Cremia challenged leaning in. “Do you believe he could fly?” “Wha what?” I stammered. “The only way the boy could have been at my ranch and your bar last night is if he could sprout wings and soar through the sky.”
I was dumbfounded. I’d been so convinced of my assumption I hadn’t even bothered to apply logic. Could the kid really have spent the entire day at Romani Ranch then raced over to my bar last night? It wasn’t probable but it wasn’t completely impossible.
“What time-“ I began but Cremia cut me off.
“You said he came in late last night and left just at the stroke of midnight? Well I passed Grasshopper right before I went to bed at 1:00 A.M. and I checked in on him sleeping in the guest room around 6:30. A.M. when I got up.” She leaned back slightly in her chair crossing her arms over her chest. “So what do you have to say about that?” she asked smiling smugly. I deflated slightly. There was no way the kid could have had dinner with Cremia and Romani, raced over to my bar then appeared back at Romani Ranch the same night. There just wasn’t enough time. “I guess… I guess you’re right.” I admitted. “Really? I am?” Creamia asked batting her eyes at me. I love it when she does that.
“Refill?” I asked gesturing to her empty mug. “Just half please.” she said handing it to me. I refilled both our mugs, Crimea’s only half way and handed it back. “Thanks.” She said taking a swig from her fresh drink right away. “You still haven’t told me why you were late though.” I pointed out. “Oh right.” Cremia said setting down her mug. “Let’s see…Ok so this morning I told Grasshopper I would be heading into town if he needed a ride and the pair accepted. I thought Romani was going to beg to come and throw a fit like she always does, but she didn’t give me any trouble at all. I think Grasshopper is a really good influence on her.” She added thoughtfully. “Anyway at 6:00 P.M. the wagon was loaded up. Grasshopper and his fairy friend were on board and we set off for Clock Town.”
Cremia giggled. “Thinking back, I feel like I spent half the trip just venting to him.” Cremia confessed with a touch of embarrassment. “There’s just been so much going on lately. It felt really good to get it off my chest and Grasshopper was a great listener. But just when it seemed like it would be a nice smooth trip, I see someone set up a roadblock. Which meant the only road to clock town would be a detour through ugly country.”
“Wait! Does that mean the Gormon brothers did this!?” I cried.
“Them or one of their thugs.” Cremia said dryly. “Trust me it gets worse. I was getting a really bad feeling.” She continued. “I told Grasshopper to get his bow ready. I’d seen him shoot earlier. He’s quite a marksman.”
No surprise there I thought to myself.
“I figured if we ran into some trouble, he could scare them of with his bow. Cremia went on. I still wasn’t expecting we’d actually be attacked by bandits.”
“What!?!” I exclaimed horrified. “Are you ok!?!” “Ha ha! Now you’re worried?” Cremia asked playfully. “Well, I’m obviously fine now.” She laughed. “Cremia I’m so sorry I didn’t know!” I started. But Cremia waved a hand dismissively. “I’m fine! I’m fine!” She insisted. Cremia took another drink before she continued. “No sooner had Grasshopper moved to the back did a couple of masked men with demonic glowing green eyes come riding out of nowhere. I put us into full gallop but with a wagon there was no chance of outrunning the masked men. They were gaining fast. I was afraid that Grasshopper might get scared or start panicking. I was the adult. I couldn’t let him see that I was scared. I had to say something reassuring to him. But when I looked back, he was calmly knotting an arrow and his hands were steady even with the bumpy road.”
“A minute later I heard the twang of an arrow being loosed. And a few seconds later there was another one. I thought gosh this kid is a pro! I definitely felt better about having Grasshopper watching my back so I could focus on getting us out of there as fast as possible. I don’t know if there were more of them than I expected but, Grasshopper kept firing arrows but there stilled seemed to be following us. I just kept thinking go faster we can make it. Go faster! Then I heard the fairy exclaim what are you doing!? I chanced a glace back. It looked like Grasshopper had put his bow away. My heart sank. It’s not like he had unlimited arrows. I kept pushing to go faster. I didn’t hear anything coming from the back. When I was able to, I looked back again. The masked men were still following us… but they weren’t trying to attack us anymore. And there was Grasshopper just staring down at them from the back of the wagon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like the bandits had lost the will the fight.” Cremia said.
A chill went up my spine as I remembered being stared down by the kid last night. There was no doubt Grasshopper and the boy were one and the same. I couldn’t explain how but I knew without a doubt it was true. Cremia wouldn’t believe without proof so I decided I would keep my belief to myself as Cremia continued her story.
“Just a few minutes later we arrived in Termina field and the bandits broke off. We were safe. I set us into a trot and continued all the way to the east gate of clock town without saying anything but my heart was still beating crazy fast.” Cremia said putting a hand to her chest.
“We arrived and I climbed down from the wagon. I watched Grasshopper hop out of the back with his fairy. He looked completely unfazed by the event. I just watched him for a minute. It seemed the fairy was saying something to him though I couldn’t her what. And I was thinking to myself wow this kid is so… cool!” Cremia exclaimed.
“Cool?” I asked not certain why I was so bothered to hear Cremia praising the boy like that.
“Yeah!” Cremia replied enthusiastically oblivious to my insecurities. “We could have been mugged or worse but Grasshopper was calm and collected the whole time and he wasn’t faking it like I was. He handled himself like a real man! He was just so… cool!” She said again.
Hm. I responded picking up my mug with intent to obscure my face by taking a long drink. But Cremia wasn’t finished yet.
“I felt like I should give him something ya know for all his hard work. I was all set to give him a Romani mask but just by chance I noticed he already had one.”
Odd… I thought still drinking.
Cremia continued. “I had to give him something so though I know it wasn’t much I just gave him a big hug.”
It took everything in me not to spit out my mouth full of Chateau Romani though that did include an audible joking sound. Going off the kid’s height a quick mental calculation concluded that a hug from Cremia would put the kids face snuggly in her breasts. I could have turned as green as the kid’s clothes from envy.
“You gave him a hug?” I asked with unsuccessful restraint. Cremia mistook the meaning of my tone. “Yeah, I know, I wish I had something more…” she said propping her head up with her arm once again and starring into Totto’s corner where the boy had performed last night. We were both quiet for a bit as Cremia thought and I fumed.
“It was kind of strange though.” Cremia said almost absently. “What?!” I snarled. If the boy had tried anything funny with Cremia I’d punch his lights out I didn’t care how tough he seemed. “I held him for a good while…” Crème began which did nothing to help my mood. “But… he didn’t hug me back…”
“What?” I asked genuine puzzlement finding its way through my irrational animosity. “I thought I must have embarrassed him.” Cremia went on. “But when I let him go, he smiled. Then just like that he started jogging away. I called after him to see where he was off to. The fairy answered we’re off to Ikana and flew after him. Grasshopper waited for his fairy friend to catch up while waving an enthusiastic goodbye then he was off again with his fairy tailing closely behind.”
Ikana? My mouth went dry. Even someone as skeptical as Cremia knows to avoid Ikana like the plague. That place is cursed; Haunted by death, shrouded in decay and some seriously bad juju, with a rich history written in blood and regret. It’s a haunt for demons, wraiths, ghouls, and the likes. What business could the kid have in a place like that especially at night? “And after that you came here?” I asked. Cremia nodded still staring into Toto’s corner.
I could tell Cremia was finding the words for what she was thinking so I gave her a minuet to sort them out. “I felt really sad when Grasshopper left.” Cremia said at last, not breaking her far off gaze. “I feel like… Grasshopper isn’t used to being thanked.” A sort of heaviness entered the room at her final words.
“Why would you say that?” I asked. But the gears were already turning, even before Cremia gave her answer.
“He spent the better part of two days at the ranch helping with animals, cutting the grass, helping Ronani with her bow, and pretty much lending a hand to everyone even Grog and Mamaua Yan in any way he could. And he never asked for a thing. More than that I don’t think he was expecting anything.”
I though back to last night how the kid had hop off his stool and went directly to Toto, as if he had a natural ability to discern a person’s distress and solve it.
“Well...” I started. “He did get a meal and a place to sleep.” But Cremia shook her head forcing her to break her gaze with Toto’s corner. “Trinkets and basic hospitality aren’t the same as showing someone you truly appreciate them.” Cremia countered. “I wonder what kind of life Grasshopper has been living?” Cremia continued. “For a boy his age to know how to handle bandits but be uncertain about how to respond to a hug? Because I’m really starting to think that’s the case. He sensed my good intentions but he wasn’t sure how to respond in that situation.”
I thought about what Cremia was saying and a cascade of guilt rolled over me. I was rude to the kid and the fairy, even overcharged them for the drink and they responded like it was normal. On top of that the kid helped my most faithful customer, treated us to a stellar performance, and left me the biggest tip of my life. I didn’t even thank him. It was the fairy that thanked me for my services. I started to get a tight feeling in my throat that persisted after a few failed attempts to clear it.
Cremia finished her drink and set it back on the counter. She stared down into the empty mug. “You know earlier today Romani was saying we should let Grasshopper live with us at the ranch. I laughed at the time, you know how Romani is, she’ll say anything that pops into her head. But honesty…” She looked me right in the eyes. “I think I’d really like that.” I could tell there was no lapse in her conviction. I nodded slowly. Honestly, I could understand. There was something quite remarkable about that kid. The pair was only here briefly but they completely changed the atmosphere. In truth I was greatly anticipating there return tomorrow, which the fairy referred to as (The 3rd day).
“Sorry.” Cremia said smiling shyly. “I guess I kind of talked your ear off huh?” “No, its fine!” I said quickly. “Besides I asked. I’m just glad you’re alright.” Cremia nodded thinking again. “So, Grasshopper and your mystery boy from last night might be different people but they could be connected… You think maybe there both Boomers?” She asked. That brought a smile back to my face. “I think you mean Bombers.” I chuckled. “And no, I think he’s too old for that group. Besides there’s a pretty distinct difference between fighting bandits and helping old ladies to cross the street.” I added. “I guess you’re right.” Cremia agreed absently. “Really? I am?” I asked blinking my eyes in rapid succession, cheaply mimicking her earlier display. “Oh, shut up!” She snapped back. But I could tell she was a hair away from bursting into laughter again.
“O well…” Cremia said standing up and stretching. “I guess I’d better be going.” She was right. It was now more early morning than it was late night. Still, I find no matter how long Cremia stays I always have a sinking feeling when she leaves. I guess there’s no cure for it. “Are you sure you don’t want to just stay somewhere in town?” I asked. “Yeah. The sun will be up soon I doubt anyone would try something after that, besides; there are a few things I want to take care of tomorrow.” I walked with her to the door. “Well, I hope it’s not too strenuous I advise. They say tomorrow could be our last day…” I kind of trailed off. It was mostly supposed to be a bit of a joke but now it didn’t seem quite so amusing.
“And what about you? Do you think it will fall?” Cremia asked. I got the weirdest feeling of déjà vu just then. Wasn’t that what the fairy had asked me word for word? Did the fairy ask Cremia that same question earlier tonight? I wondered. Or maybe Cremia asked the fairy and the fairy asked me the same way? My mind started spiraling I snapped back to reality but if anything, that made my head spin faster. Cremia and I were huddled in the doorway mere inches apart. She was staring up at me waiting for any answer. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” I managed. Cremia nodded. “Guess so. Goodnight Tal.” She walked out into the empty streets. Watching her long hair sway like a pendulum the sinking feeling intensified. Say something. I urged myself. Tell her. “....Goodnight!” I called after her. She turned back waving, giving me one last dazzling smile before continuing on her way. I punched the door frame lightly, cursing my lack of courage. Tomorrow. I assured myself. Tomorrow is another day.
The Moon the Boy and the Bartender
The moon is enormous! That was my 1st thought when I left the Latte that morning. It had at least tripled in size from the time I said goodbye to Cremia last night. As I went about my errands my body felt heavy. It was as if I could already feel the moons weight bearing down on me. I shook my head and forced my weighted body to keep pace. Todays the 3rd day I reminded myself, the boy and the fairy are supposed to come by tonight. That was a comforting thought. Anyway, the Carnival starts at midnight tonight. I continued to assure myself, the town is alive with excitement. I should enjoy the atmosphere. Only... As I went around my business, I began to realize the atmosphere was alive with something but it was not excitement.
People were strolling through the busy street but they were walking just a little too quickly. People chattered about events and nuances but they were talking a little too loudly. There was laughter in the air but people were laughing too readily. They greeted each other too enthusiastically, they smiled a bit too widely. An uneasiness squeezed my guts as I began to realize that they were all pretending. What I was witnessing, or even more a part of was a massive unspoken charade. They could all hear it too. It was like some horrible dirge was barely audible in the back ground and if things got too quiet you could hear it. That’s why everyone stayed so focused on their task or else allowed themselves to be distracted by even the simplest affair. Its why people smiled so brightly at even a business acquaintance but refused to look anyone in the eye. We all knew something terrible was going to happen.
Both my pace and my breath quickened. I sped through the plaza like I was late to an appointment aware that I was now matching pace with the other quick footed townsfolk. I just couldn’t be in there midst’s anymore. I wondered how many of these people were thinking the same thing about me. Suddenly the ground trembled. I almost lost my footing. A quick glance around assured me I was not the only one. In truth the shaking wasn’t intense and it only lasted a moment but I felt it. We all did... but everyone just kept moving. Those who were walking simply continued doing so. Even a man that nearly tripped simply resumed his fast-paced walking. A merchant whose doll was nocked of his display racked laughed loudly as he picked it up and replaced it. Shoppers studied different products like scholars. I walked faster. So fast It could barely be considered walking. I’m just like the rest of them. I realized even as I willed my legs to increase speed while fighting the urge to run. All I knew was that I had to get back to the Latte. What was happening out here was not happening in there.
I finally got back and shut the door behind me. In the quiet of the empty bar, I could hear just how loud I was breathing. Was it because I’d basically run back here? Or was I really that scared? I shuddered at the thought of what was going on just outside my door. Something terrible would happen tonight. I knew it in my heart. But then, there was the kid. And I felt a sense of calm wash over me? Why? How could the kid possibly help this situation? I didn’t know and I decided that I wouldn’t dwell on it. I would just accept the fact that the thought of his visit brought me some semblance of comfort and leave it at that.
So, I picked myself up and went back to it. I swept the store, wiped the counters, and checked the stock. I moved crates, I dusted every corner and put matriculas detail in shining every glass and mug. When the boy and his fairy arrived here later tonight, they would be seeing the Latte at its best. So, would anyone else for that matter. Tonight, was going to be a good one I decided. I put all my effort in my work. Whenever dark thoughts would creep to the surface, I would just think to myself those two will be here in just a few hours do you really want to greet them with this place looking like a ramshackle?
At last, when every possible thing I could think of was complete I looked around the room. The Latte was basically sparkling. I checked the wall clock, which I’d been avoiding for most of the day. A few min to 5. I stared at the door wondering. Then charging to the door as if on a mission I unlocked the door and flipped the sign to open. It’s a special occasion why not open a little early? I hadn’t made it behind the counter when I heard the door bell chime. Turning with a grin that could hardly be contained on my face I prepared to greet the boy and the fairy, only... It wasn’t them. No, it was Madame Aroma, the mayor ’s wife. My face fell fast, and hard enough to splitter the wooden floors but I quickly remembered this is still a valued customer as well as a very powerful woman.
“Good evening!” I Sang as she reached the counter. “Hello Talon. The Usual please.” She said passing me on her way to her usual seat at the far end of the counter. “Yes Ma’am!” I replied with practiced enthusiasm I quickly fixed her drink and placed it in front of her. I was blindsight by her arrival so I hadn’t picked it up when she walked in but as I placed her drink in front of her, I witnessed a drooping heaviness possessing the typically robust and sturdy woman. Her eyes were glazed over as if she wasn’t aware of her surroundings. Even so she took hold of the drink I placed in front of her and thanked me for it. “You alight Ma’am?” I ask her concerned. “Yes dear.” She responds monotonously. “Just keep the glass full tonight.” “Yes, Ma’am.” I respond somewhat shakily.
I’ve never seen her like this before. However, I stand by ready to do my duty and attempt to engage her when an opportunity arrives. Only she doesn’t touch her drink. An hour passes and she’s just sitting clutching her drink and starring into space. I try to speak with her several times but aside from a few coughs and slight nods I would think she couldn’t hear me. Either way it was clear what I was saying wasn’t getting through. Finally, after almost 2 hours with no additional patrons I got right in front of her leaning over the counter. “You know if somethings bothering you, I can listen. I’m told I’m pretty good at that.” I say. She blinks and looked up at me as if straining for recognition, “No dear,” she says after a while “I’ve decided I would just wait here...” Her words carried a finality and heaviness that made me uncomfortable. What is it she was saying exactly?
Just at that moment the door chimed for the 2nd time that evening Without giving myself time to hope I spun instinctively towards the sound and almost laughed as the building sense of dread dissipated. In walked the boy, and his fairy was right behind him. I did notice that there was a bit of pep in his step. This wasn’t like when the two so casually walked into my bar a few nights ago. They were on a mission; they had no time for games. In spite of this I couldn’t explain just how happy I felt seeing them here. “Welcome back!” I said perhaps to quietly as if we were sharing a secret. The kid flashed me a quick smirk as he passed me and went straight for Madame Aroma. “Ah! You made it dear!” The mayor’s wife said with much more enthusiasm than I’d heard all night. I backed away giving them their privacy as the group of three talked quietly amongst themselves.
I watched for a min before realizing I wasn’t doing my job. I quickly filled two large mugs and a fairy sized cup with the house special chateau romani, carried it over and set it in front of them. In response the boy began digging for his wallet but I quickly held up a hand almost insulted that the kid would try to pay me. “All on the house of course!” I said. “Oh, thank you!” The fairy said in response as the kid smiled with a slight bow of his head. “Thank you dear!” Madame Aroma chimed in not quite at her normal tempo but certainly leagues above her earlier self. “It’s nothing, the least I could do.” I babbled till I got tonged tied and backway before I could embarrass myself further.
As I watched from a safe distance the boy retrieved a letter from his tunic and handed it to Madame Aroma. The boy and the fairy remained silent as she read the contents of the letter. I continued to watch from halfway across the bar forgetting to feign business at this point. After a few min Madame Aroma lowered the letter with a sigh. “I see. Thank you. You both did a wonderful job. Now please the two of you should go. Go and take refuge somewhere safe.” she folded the letter and placed in in front of her on the bar. The boy and the fairy shared a brief look then they both grab their drinks off the counter. Just as the kid had before the two drained their glasses in unison with their hands on their hips and returned the cups to the counter once they had wiped their mouths with the back of their hand. Then as if from an unspoken signal the boy turned on his heals and trotted quickly for the door with the fairy keeping pace. “Thanks Bartender!” the fairy called from the door and just like that the two were gone.
I stared beaming after them for a moment. Then two..., then reality started sinking in. They were gone. The situation hadn’t change. What had I been thinking? I asked internally suddenly furious with myself. What had I expected to happen? I was suddenly brought back to the conversation with Cremia last night about the cow stealing ghost. I didn’t have an answer then either. I was just so sure then. I certainly wasn’t feeling so confident now. “I’m going to get some fresh air I’ll be right back.” I called to Madame Aroma as I sprinted after the kid. “Take your time dear...” she returned with indifference. I barely heard her. I was out the door and on the streets in seconds scanning the immediate area for the boy and fairy. What was I looking for? Answers, hope, a slice of the kids’ courage? I couldn’t say but I was single minded on that front 1st find the kid then what comes next comes next.
I didn’t see them anywhere I jogged onward eyes washing over the empty streets. night had fallen. During carnival season the streets would typically still be bustling with activity at this time. But of course, events of late were anything but normal. I turned on the corner and arrived at the town square a small crowd had gathered around the grand clock tower in the center was the boss carpenter yelling as was his default tone.
“I promised you a carnival and you’re gonna get a carnival!”
“Yeah!!” The crowd responded.
“I promised you fireworks, there’s gonna be fire works!” The crowd cheered in response. “Let those cowards run if they want even if I’m the only one here I’ll have a great carnival without ya!”
More cheers and laughter. The Boss gave the signal and then
BOOM! POP! POP!
BOOM! POP POP! POP!
The fireworks show had officially started. I looked up but even amidst the oohing crowd couldn’t find any magic in the moment. How could they even focus on the fireworks with the moon looking as ominous as it did? I felt like if I jumped with all my might, I could brush it with my fingertips. I shuddered at the disturbing thought. I looked the small group over and wasn’t surprise that the kid was not present. Actually, there didn’t seem to be any kids present. Yet another anomaly. I turned my back on the on lookers determined to continue my search. I’d only made it a short way when I heard a yell. “Hey there’s someone up there!” I turned eyes scanning. “Yeah! Look at the clock tower!” Another voice confirmed. “There someone up there!” I looked. There was indeed someone standing atop the clock tower. Or was it something? It was hard to tell with the distance and the angle. The figure was all but a silhouette. It almost looked human except its proportions were a bit off. What wasn’t engulfed in shadows was its face or rather its mask. It had to be a mask. Those eyes though... they looked very... alive...
“Yeah! On with the carnival!” Another onlooker cheered. The rest of them... well maybe they were sensing the same thing I was because, something in my bones was telling me this shadowy figure was not about to perform for our viewing pleasure. There were gasps as the thing began to float slowly into the air. We watched in agreed silence as the masked silhouette continued to ascend high above the clock tower. Finally, it stopped; the moon at its back and itself placed dead center of the malignant omen. It looked like its massive eyes never left me as it slowly cocked its head to one side as if considering. Then ... it kept turning. There was another gasp from the crowd and my stomach lurch knowing if whatever this creature was were a human its neck would have just snapped. What in the world could it be doing? I wondered. In another moment I’d regret the answer to a question I never asked.
Without a moment warning the creature threw its hands into the air and began emitting a horrible rattling wail. It was impossibly loud and seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. To say it was the worst sound I’d ever heard is an understatement beyond equal. To be honest it could hardly be described as just a sound. It was malice, it was madness, it was chaos, it was ecstasy, it was vengeance, it was fear, it was wrath, it was separation, it was regret, loneliness it was retribution, it was power. The wailing was all of those things and it was power.
The wailing was all around me. The wailing was me. I dropped to my knees pressing my hands over my ears with all of my might. But all it accomplished was to trap the wailing inside my brain. I opened my mouth to scream but the wailing came out from my throat. I couldn’t see. I don’t know if my eyes were open or shut but I couldn’t see. I could feel the wailing pulling at my insides. I could taste the wailing prickling my tongue. All that there was, was the wailing. It’s impossible to say how long it lasted. My last thought was that I would surely lose my mind if I hadn’t already. Then suddenly, mercifully, it stopped.
My eyes fluttered open. They were working again. I pushed myself off the ground where I’d fallen and wiped a thick strand of saliva from my mouth. I tried to make sense of what had happened as I struggled to my feet. It appeared I was not the only one who’d fallen to the ground. Many of the others seemed to be doing the same. I saw two of the quintuplets trying to help the boss carpenter to his feet. that’s when I looked up... and instantly regretted it. A massive fissure had appeared in the moon arching into a wicked grin. Demonic eyes matching the masked creature were also visible on the moon’s surface. The group gazed dumbfounded by the latest horror but no one made a sound perhaps they feared as I did, that any vocal interruption would invite the wailing to return. But the silence was short lasting and the one that broke it was the moon itself. From the massive maw of the moon rumbled one word. It was deeper, and bigger than any voice I could ever imagine. Like the wailing its word was more than just a sound though thankfully not so all encompassing. Even so it still nearly knocked me back to the ground when it hit me.
CONSUME! it said.
And a ripple went through the crowd as it passed through. Looking up at the endless chasm that was the moons mouth it was probably the last thing anyone present wanted to hear. Still no one moved. Then it came again, louder if that was even possible and more forcefully as if we’d been deaf to its last verdict and it wanted to make sure this time it was heard.
Its word stirred the wind itself. I braced against the sudden gust as it rushed past my face and pulled at my clothing. Then from somewhere close by a woman shrieked. That was the signal everyone was apparently waiting for because at that moment the paralysis spell was broken and the group at large turned and ran. Some stumbled away, others sprinted like athletes still some scrambled on all fours having never risen since the wailing. Where can we possibly run to? I thought even as I back away preparing to run myself. But I caught a glimpse of the creature in the mask still floating above the clocktower. It was hardly noticeable compared to the spectacle that was the now quickly descending moon. The Imp lay back in midair reclining against nothing, its arms folded in its front as it surveyed the chaos in approval. Even as it took in the entirety of the scene it’s creepy bulging eyes seemed to never leave me.
What do you want!?! I wanted to scream. Why are you doing this!?! But I dared not raise my voice against the likes of this creature. Even as it bore down at me with those wicked eyes oozing of ill intent, I feared it could read my thoughts and I didn’t want to imagine what it would do if provoked. Then as if startled the imp sat up from its invisible chair. Suddenly it looked up right and alert and for the 1st time its eyes did not appeared to be following me. I instinctively followed its gaze seeing nothing at 1st. Then there he was.
The boy rounded the corner coming from the direction of the Stock Pot Inn. In the cacophony I’d forgotten I was ever looking for him. He raced straight for the plaza moving faster than it seemed his short legs should allow. As ever his fairy was right behind him. The retreating town folk barreled towards the boy. Either they didn’t notice or did not care about the foolish little boy who was running in the wrong direction. But the kid was not to be out done. Without slowing in the slightest he charged into the crowd. Feet flowing like water the boy slipped through the larger bodies with unnatural precession and in a few short seconds he emerged on the other side still running at a full sprint. It was clear where he was heading now, The Grand Clock Tower.
I turned my gaze back to the skies. The imp had eyes only for the boy. The rest of us could have been insects. It stood at the ready on a floor I could not see. Its head turning with the boy’s progression while it demonic eyes broadcasted to the boy and anyone who had the courage to stand... “Come... Challenge me...”
The kid past me still at a distance. He’d make it to the clock tower in a few seconds. Could I do nothing? I wanted to say something but my mouth wasn’t working... Say something I urged. But my lips were glued shut. You can’t fight but you have a voice say something! But my body wouldn’t obey my brain. I thought back to Cremia last night, and even now watching this young boy charge against a fleeing crowd of adults to face this unspeakable evil, could I still not must one modicum of courage? SAY SOMETHING!!!
“Hey kid!!!” I heard my voice explode from my lips. “You can do it!!!” Wow that was stupid. Was my immediate next thought. But I didn’t know what else to say maybe if he knew at least one other person in all of Termina had faith in him... My voice carried quiet well in the now empty plaza still I wondered if the boy heard me. As the kid reached the entry way to the Grand Clock Tower, he stopped allowing his fairy to catch up. With a half turn of his head gave a nod in my direction then disappeared into the black of the tower.
A massive rush of courage flooded through me. What was this kid? I had called out to try and encourage him but instead it felt like it was him that empowered me. As good as I felt it was to be short lived because when I look up a moment later, I saw that the imp was staring right at me. This was not like previously. Perhaps it had been looking at me before, but now it actually saw me. Who dared to interrupt its performance? Who had the audacity to raise their head when they should be groveling? The boy it knew, it was clear from its reaction they’d had previous encounters. Of me on the other hand this creature knew not.
I bared my teeth scowling at the creature though the glare didn’t reach my eyes. My eyes reveled the terror I felt by having been noticed by this monster. Seeing 1st hand what it could do was confirmation that all the whispers and rumors flowing around clock town were true and this imp was the source. This creature drained the life from the forest, and froze a volcanic mountain in mid spring. It caused the sea to boil and stirred the dead of Ikana. It could snap its fingers and I’d be no more than a memory but as it slowly descended from its perch in the sky, I realized with dread it had decided I’d need a personal lesson.
The creature’s feet hit the ground soft as a ghost. Barely 10 ft in front of me now, it was easy to tell the thing was no taller than the boy, perhaps a bit shorter it seemed to be slouching or it could have just been the imp’s anatomy as I’d suspected it was clearly not human. Small as it was, I’m certain I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life. Even so my scowl was plastered on my face with my teeth clamped together so hard I feared that they would shatter. The thing moved towards me adding yet another disturbing attribute to its repertoire. Its walk was more of a shuffle, as if the practice of walking was a new concept for it. It’d lean heavily to one as its entire body chased after its right foot then repeat the motion on the opposite side.
It continued shuffling towards me till we were only a foot apart. My heart Hammered in my throat and I feared if the pressure against my teeth were not so great it would leap from my mouth and flee. I stared down at the creature and the creature stared up at me. Then slowly is began to rise we were eye level, then our roles were switched the create looked down at me and I looked up at it. My face was barely a foot away from its awful mask and I thought to myself oh gods this is how I’ll die. I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want to know what other horrors hid behind the mask I just knew if it was going to end me, I wanted it to be quick and I silently prayed this creature was not a soul eater so at least there could be hope for me in the next life. My eyes were swimming with tears but I wouldn’t give the imp the satisfaction. It inched its face closer to me ready to pounce... then it moved back, looked up and floated out of my view.
A long very audible gasped escaped me as my aching jaw finally released my teeth from being crushed. The shock of still being alive sent torrents of electricity cascading throughout my body. Sweat poured down my face. I probably looked like I ran a marathon. I didn’t know why the Imp had left. Even as I gasped for breath acknowledging I’d just avoided some terrible fate I dared not turn me head even in the slightest. My greatest fear was that the imp was still floating there just out of my peripherally and a slight turn of my head would bring us back face to face then it would kill me having lost its latest twisted game. The thought was more than I could handle just then.
I continued to drink in the air knowing every breath from this point on was a treasure I’d stollen from the imp. As I did so a familiar sound reached my ears. I Waited a moment before taking one last deep gulp of air acknowledging it might be my last, then slowly I dared to turned my gaze upward. The imp was not there. I allowed myself to feel the smallest degree of relief. That was all the circumstance allotted. In the sky the moon was still hurtling towards clock town its crooked mouth agape. Its veracity was undeniable. in a few minutes the top of the clocktower would disappear into the moon’s jowls. And yet in spite of the atrocious scene before me, I found myself utterly distracted by the melody that floated down from atop the clock tower. The boy was playing his instrument again.
The sound of the boy’s instrument seemed to be resonating with the air itself so that it became louder and stronger every second. In a few short moments the boy’s song descended on clock town like a thick blanket. The melody rebuked the memory of the wailing driving of the lasting chill it had left in my bones. This sound was the bane of the wailing. It was everything the wailing was not. It was order, it was stability, it was forgiveness, it was unity, it was reconciliation, it was restraint, it was duty, it was strength, it was reverence, it was purpose. It was the sound of a promise long lost but not forgotten.
The music woke so many sensations within me. Though I’m sure I’d never heard the likes before something about the song sound familiar, almost nostalgic. Then the ground began to shake. There had been a constant rumbling since the moon began its voracious decent but this was different, deliberate and rhythmic. Then I heard a new sound. The sound of many, singing in a tonged I could not understand. The voices were mighty. They were older than the most ancient trees in Woodfall and rang from higher than the Peak of the Snowhead mountains. They were deeper than the depts of Great Bay and carried more authority than the great kings of Ikana. The voices sang, conducted by the boy atop the clock tower and the ground shook, keeping time for the ensemble.
What a mystifying and beautiful performance I thought. Even with annihilations mere moments away it was impossible to be in the presence of this sound and not marvel at this captivating score. The song was sad but hopeful, calming yet urgent. It was surreal and in the midst’s of it something was telling me I knew this song. But how and what was it? Why did I feel like it was important right now? The moon was falling, the Imp was scheming, the boy was playing, the ground was shaking, the voices were singing...And all at once it clicked. I realized what it was a moment before I saw them. The song the boy played was a little different than the one I knew, but it was close. I knew the song because every child in Clock Town heard the story growing up. The kid was playing the Oath of Ordinance. The giants were coming.
And then there they were, four of them coming from the North East South and West. The guardian deities of Termina. They were even bigger than the stories detailed. Put simply they were gigantic! With more limb than body they could easily stride over clock towns mighty walls with their massive powerful legs. There arms reached the horizon. A single foot would obliterate the plaza where I stood. There stride was with purpose their song brimming with duty. They gathered around the town making even the Grande Clock Tower seem like a sapling in comparison. “The four that are there.” I murmured to myself. Just a line in a children’s fairy tale but what I was witnessing was real.
Their intent was clear from their positioning. They intended to catch the moon before it smashed Clock Town. Was such a thing even possible? The moon was colossal even by the giant’s stature. Though even I recognized it was silly to try to discern possible and impossible given what was actually happening. The song had ended its ghost resounding to the ends of Termina. The giants were so tall none of them need set a single foot into Clock Town to reach the moon. The 1st giant lifted his hands and with a mighty cry slammed his massive palms into the moon bracing and pushing. The other 3 followed suit in unison.
This clash between devils and deities was well beyond the comprehension of a mere mortal. What I was witnessing was the stuff of legends. I wondered what role the boy garbed in green played even now as he stood atop the clock tower. Could he be an envoy, or a harbinger to the guardians of Termina tasked with sounding the alarm in our darkest hour? Or perhaps the persona of the boy was just a mask in and of itself, whom behind hid some fierce deity with the power to banish darkness and cleave fate.
I tour my eyes away from the battle in the sky. I had to. I needed some confirmation that this was real. Was there anyone else witnessing this? I spun around and saw although I was alone in the plaza there was still at least one group that bore witness. Not too far off near the South gate stood the clock town guards. I felt an appreciation for them I’d never felt before, along with a spurt of guilt. Crèmia had been right. I’d misjudged their mettle. Their heads craned up to the confrontation in the sky. Some had their mouths hanging wide open. Others a hand on their chest, and some trembled so visibly I noticed from afar. Yet each one held firm to the spear in their hand. Even knowing that their weapons would be no more effective than trying to siege a fortress with a tooth pick, not a one fled. They intended to hold there post to the bitter end if need be.
Satisfied I turned my gaze skyward. The giants continued to push against the moon. We all witnessed the grappling match with bated breath. The moon was indomitable but the giants proved greater still. With unified effort that giants lifted the moon higher and higher putting it out of the clock towers reach. The rumbling from the moon soon subsided. After several long moments the moon lay motionless cradled between the hands of the four giants. The giants had won.
“They... they did it.” I breath. And I laughed nervously. “They actually stopped it!” Still looking up I wondered what they would do with the thing. Surely there was no way to put it back in the sky where it belonged. But where could they store something so massive. Perhaps they didn’t know ether. All four giants stood like inconceivably large statues. An eerie silence fell over the town. Nothing moved for a full minute. It was as if time had stopped. Is it really over a barely had time to wonder, when we were all defended by the familiar monstrous voice.
I WILL CONSUME EVERYTHING!!!!!!
It was active again. The moons hunger was not to be denied. The reinvigorated moon shone with a red aura. Its eyes flashed with malice; replicas of the imp’s awful mask. I watched completely horrified as the giant’s legs began to buckle under the weight of the revived moon. They pushed desperately but it was clear they were quickly losing ground. The vision broke me. If the foe is so great even your guardian deities cannot prevail what left is there save despair? Waves of dread, smashed against my body. My mind went wild with fear. My eyes did not want to witness the last futile efforts of the ancient guardians as their strength waned. This should have broken me... Reality itself was crashing around me... but my spirit refused to give in. I’d been pushed to the brink one to many times today and if there’s one things I took away it was that were the boy goes hope follows. “Common kid.” I pleaded “Don’t let it end this way...”
If you blinked you might have missed it. If you weren’t prepared you might have thought your eyes were playing tricks on you. My heart sored as I saw the kid flying at the moon, sword gleaming in his hand and shield strapped on his arm. He disappeared into the moons mouth. That had to be at least a 20-foot jump! So, he can fly! That’s a point for me Cremia! I thought.
Wait was the fairy with him? I wondered I didn’t see her but she was easy to miss. But the thought of him going in their alone bothered me more than I can explain. The moon faltered just a moment, then the giants were pushing back. Whatever the kid was doing inside was distracting it. “You can do it!” I muttered then I bellowed from the top of my lungs “You can do it kid!” But I didn’t stop I took another deep breath and yelled “We’re all counting on you!! All of Clock Town stands with you! I believe in you!!!”
Could he hear me? Did he know? If he was in there fighting in a desperate battle, I just wanted him to know that if he wasn’t giving up neither would I. If only I could impart a spark of my courage to the roaring flame that was his own. I just didn’t want him to have to fight alone. I yelled louder and became aware I was no longer the only one doing so. Behind me the guards were yelling as well. What were they saying? Were they praying for the giant’s victory? Were they cursing the moon? Had they seen the young boy and his fairy leap into battle, unafraid to challenge even a celestial beings? I didn’t know I couldn’t make out their words. But the idea of my voice being drowned out compelled me to yell louder still.
High above us the battle raged on. The moon was becoming more desperate it twisted violently in the hands of the giants trying to break free. It gnashed its teeth at the giants whose hands were closest to its mouth trying to severe the limb. The giants pushed back with equal zeal. There tremendous muscles bulged from effort. Whenever the moon would twist free of one of the giant’s grip staggering them, they would quickly slam their massive palm back into place securing it. At last the moons rampage began to subside. Its eyes lost their sheen, its mouth hung slack and it no longer fought it captures. As the sun began to rise signifying as it always had that the moons reign over the night had ended, it was clear to me this time the moon was finished.
As I watched, out of the moons gaping mouth came the boy. He was falling fast, tumbling head of heel destined to impact the clock tower in the moons place. “Someone catch him! Please!” I croaked urgently. I’d strained my voice to its limit. A white streak chased the boy like a shooting star. It was the fairy! Could she catch him by herself? I wondered. I saw a flash of purple and the boy seemed to slow down just before leaving my vantage point. And I breathe a sigh of relief.
I heard others gasping and I believed they too witnessed the kids close call but soon learned something else had their attention. The moon was disintegrating beneath the wicked cast-off shell was a massive multicolored sphere. The four giants raised their hands high, puncturing the heavens and the sphere they now cradled shot from their hands and flew across termina leaving a magnificent rainbow in its wake. Appearing almost tangible the rainbow was more beautiful than any I’d ever seen. It was the symbolic gesture of a promise whose bounds were without end. In Termina’s darkest hour, the giants would be there to protect it.
I heard cheering. Raising up all around those who refused to take refuge, those couldn’t abandon their home, those who had nowhere to go, all who had borne witness to the miracle raised their voice and praised the giants. As they turned to go in their respective directions North, South, East, and West, the giants sang out their song lest someone forget. I could not speak there tonged but I knew what they were saying. In your time of need call us and we will come. As they walked away from the town the massive figures faded returning from whence, they came.
I wondered how the kid was doing I took a step towards the clock tower and almost fell. I realized my head was swimming. I felt slightly feverish too. Even the proximity to this grand adventure had sapped me of all strength. It probably didn’t help that I’d only slept for 2 of the past 48 hours. I look at the clock tower knowing I could not make it up the 12 flights of stairs. I searched for one of the guards but they had moved on no doubt assessing the status in the town. I staggard onward. The Latte was close. I could mix myself a drink that restores stamina then climb the clock tower and check on the kid. I reached the Latte entered and shut the door behind me.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
Someone was knocking on my door... and my head? I opened my eyes. Though I had no memory of doing so I had fallen asleep with my back leaning against the Latte door. I got groggily to my feet, with incoherent images of giants knocking on my door and asking for something to drink. I opened the door to find not giants but the post man.
“Good Morning. Good Morning!” He sang jogging in place and thrusting a letter towards me in his out stretched hand. “You have a letter!” “A letter?” I ask blankly starting to wonder how long I’d been out. “You are being cordially invited to attend the wedding ceremony of Kafe and Anjun today at 2:00.” The postman announced still jogging with his arm extended. I took the letter from his hand and skimmed through it. It was just as the postman said. The date revealed I had not fallen asleep for a week. Just a few hours ago the boy and the giants triumphed in their battle with the imp and the moon. I checked the wall clock. It was just a few minutes to noon. “They want to get married today?” I asked incredulously. “Certainly!” cried the postman now turning circles as he jogged in place. “It’s a wonderful day for a wedding! This is the Dawn of a new day!” He exclaimed. With that he did one final turn then jogged off to complete his route. Ever the optimist I thought as I watched him go. Still, it wasn’t a bad way to look at things.
Two hours later I was standing outside Clock Towns south gate. Cremia stood on my right side and Romani was swinging my arm energetically on my left. If you’re looking for words to describe the people of clock town the word resilient comes to mind. Kafe and Anjun’s wedding drew quite a crowd. We stood in two lines facing each other, as tradition dictates, forming a path for the two being joined in union. Another way to describe Clock Town is being fond of gossip. If the whispers were true this ceremony was just a formality. According to an unknown sorce during last night’s commotion Anjun and Kafe already had the traditional exchanging of the sun and moon masks in front of a witness. So, in a manner of speaking they were already husband and wife. I thought back to last night’s events. Hadn’t the kid come from that direction?
I don’t know what compelled me to turn around but when I looked behind me, I saw him. The boy watched the ceremony from a hill in Termina field. He sat atop a handsome ginger yearling with a shocking white mane. I almost cried out for joy at the site of him. Earlier I’d gone to the clock tower only to find the way block off by several town guards. They said they conducted a thorough search of the tower and found no one. I was so relived.
I had to admit once again Cremea was right, the boy really was cool. Surveying the crowd from afar like a silent guardian from a legend he really looked the part of a hero. Yes hero. That was the proper word. As a flood of emotions rose up within me at the sight of the boy there was one that overshadowed all others and that was gratitude. “Thank you.” I whispered.
As if my words had woken the wind a gust stirred seemingly carrying my voice along with a leaf and a few blades of grass to where the boy was positioned. As the wind passed him, he turned his attention to me and our eyes met. Even from a distance I felt the intensity of his gaze but this time I did not look away. After a moment the boy bowed his head, a brief acknowledgement and reciprocation of my words. With that he tapped his heels rubbing his mounts neck. His horse turned and began to trot over the hill, no doubt on to the next great adventure. There was a dull ache in my chest as I watch him go. This was quickly followed by a sharp pain in my ribs. “Oof”! I protested. Cremia had just elbowed me. “Knock it off tough guy you’re going to make me cry too!” Cremia complained while blinking back tears watching the ceremony. I touched my face. I hadn’t realized I was crying. “I was just, I mean, I saw...” I started. I felt a tug on my arm. It was Romani. “Shhhhh! She won’t believe you.” Romani said. She smiled broadly winking at me. What did she know? I wondered curiously. Even so I wiped my eyes and returned the smile. I Turned back to where the boy had been to find only an empty hill. “Thank you.” I said again.
Over the next couple of days, I heard a few accounts of a young boy garbed in green and accompanied by a fairy performing acts of service to the community, though in some accounts it was a goron, a zora, a deku shrub, or a mysterious kid in a mask. It’s funny how stories get mixed up. The common connection was individuals spreading happiness wherever they went. You really never do know when or where you’ll meet the most amazing people. I feel like my experience with the kid has emboldened me to look beyond the presented exterior. We all wear masks after all. Just as it was with the boy or the moon there’s no telling what it’s really made of until you have a closer look. I also decided to be a little more lax with admission, especially during carnival time, and I always keep a mug and tiny glass ready with the Lattes finest chateau romani, in case my two favorite patrons come back for a visit.