Maybe there was a time when the word of a disembodied voice would not have been enough. He doesn’t remember it. He doesn’t remember a lot of things. He remembers a lot of things. He remembers the wrong things.
He is slow. Maybe he wasn’t always slow, but he is slow now. There is no straight line between points. He considers every tree and every flower. He picks apples and catches lizards. He stares at the sky, and chases the stars.
He doesn’t speak much. He’s told he never did. He wonders if it was then what it is now, the way the words taste wrong and never fit on his tongue. Hylian and Hylian and Hylian but it never sounds right to the points of his ears. His first language is foreign and his accent is nowhere. He doesn’t sound like a hero. He doesn’t know what he sounds like, but he knows he doesn’t like it. It grates the way any wrong thing grates. He says nothing, and no one seems to mind.
He catches beetles, and stops to take pictures of fish.
In the burnt husk of a home, he finds a rusted shield. It didn’t do them much good, whoever they had been. He finds them all over, these floors without ceilings, these roofs without walls. He wonders, always: have I been here before? Did I know them, once? This house on the mountain, this cabin in the woods, would they have recognized me? Was this a name that fit on my tongue?
He learns to bake a cake, breaks rock salt and rubies from veins of ore in the earth.
He moves the sails of a raft with a Korok leaf, and he thinks: this should be easier. He wills the wind to move, but there is nothing. He looks out at the ocean and thinks: what might we find there? His raft is dead wood. He is alone.
He catches fairies in his hands, pink light and warmth and a faint ringing in his skin. They never complain. They never speak. He opens his hands to let them go, and they are the wrong color. The Great Fairy laughs, and it’s so much prettier than it used to be. Than it never was. He rolls glass bottles in his hands, but he doesn’t take them with him.
There is something restful in this. He can’t explain it, even if he had words to try. In his long slumber something inside him came unmoored, and he knows things he must not. He is tired. He knows this most of all. There is work to be done. There has always been work to be done.
He lights a fire, roasts a fish, picks at the flaky meat while it’s still hot enough to burn his fingertips.
He thinks of a sister he never had. He thinks of a grandmother he never had. Did he know his grandmother? In the Lost Woods he stares at the Deku Tree, and knows this is not home. There is a green-haired girl on the backs of his eyelids, and she sounds like three notes repeating.
He finds an ocarina made of wood, and runs his fingers over the holes. Three notes, repeating. He plays them, and nothing happens. He checks the shape of the moon and his reflection in the water. He plays three notes, different this time. There is nothing but an ache.
It sounds more like his voice than his voice ever did, and that hurts worse than silence.
He tries to remember Mipha. He wants to remember her most of all. They were friends, he is told. Close, he is told. He has nothing but fragments and a shirt that fits too well. When he tries to remember, he sees blue scales instead of red.
Zelda is Zelda is Zelda. She is the reference point around which the world turns. She is always Zelda, even when she isn’t. Her face is always her face. He is grateful and resentful in turns. There are so many people he would remember, if he could. Instead there is Zelda.
Ganon is not Ganon is not Ganon. He doesn’t know if Ganon has a face. He’s had so many faces. Was this ever a man, this manifestation of malice? He remembers eyes of gold, he remembers snouts. He recognizes the smell of him in burnt cloves and blood.
Fear is red lights and a blue glow. He knows these things were hope, once. He can’t remember it. He can’t remember seeing six metal legs and believing they would save him. Did he always know that it was helpless? It feels like he should have known.
The words are different, but the meaning is the same. He is procrastinating. If he needed an excuse, he would call it training. He would say they need every advantage. He would say they will only have one chance. No one asks for excuses. He says nothing.
Zelda has waited a hundred years. She waits, still.
She remembers a boy who never rushed her. She remembers, the way he does not, his silent patience while she found herself. While she took too long to find herself. She will wait for him to find himself, even if he takes too long. They may doom the world with their patience, but does the world not owe them this? There are so many worlds, and so few of them are kind. What could this world have been, if it had been kind? What might she have saved if it had not demanded saving?
She did not save the world. She will not save the world. She saved a single point of kindness who did not ask it from her. She will not ask it from him, but he may save her all the same. He is courageous. He is kind. Please, be careful.
He catches Koroks in durian trees, and chases dragons through canyons.
He jumps off a cliff to land in a stable, and no one there sees the hero he should be. He is no one, he is nothing. He is halfway to a beast, but they’re grateful for his help, when he offers it. He always offers it. He doesn’t know how not to.
His hands are calloused. Sometimes they bleed. He ties up his hair every morning, and does not stop. Swords fit so neatly in his hand. Sometimes he uses them to light fires or carve birds. It’s just easier. A sword is all he knows. He’s trying to be more. This might be beyond him.
Sometimes he growls when he’s angry. Sometimes he rips things apart with his teeth. Sometimes dogs follow him, but sometimes they whine. The shadows aren’t always unfriendly, and he feels them like fingers in his hair. There are eyes like fire in the mirrors at night, but he can only see them in the corners of his eyes.
The first time the Gerudo catch him, it was because he tried to scale their walls. Why did he think that would work? Urbosa would laugh if she knew.
He catches horses, but they’re never the right one. The hooves are wrong, the gait is wrong. They are never a part of him, an extension of his own legs. He rides across fields and they hesitate the way she never did. He whistles three notes, sometimes, but it never works.
He finds it, eventually. The place the voice told him about. Walls without a roof. Has he been here before? Surely he has. It’s night when he arrives. His footsteps make no sound. This is how he navigates the world, now, quiet as the sky. It’s easier this way. He kneels down to catch the latch on the chest, and when it opens, he cannot breathe.
He stares at it for a long time.
The moon is only the moon. His skin is still his own. Eventually, he breathes again.
Technically Taylor’s contract has her for 6 albums and a greatest hits, but I think it would be real rad if after this album instead of a greatest hits she did an album of unreleased tracks and voice memos from all 6 albums, for the fans yaknow?