Business in the Twilight

My name is Hael. For the entire 18 years that I have lived, I've been a merchant. Business is my life, pricing my specialty, and making deals my calling. But when the Twilight falls, everything changes. There is no business anymore. Everyone's locked up inside their houses, quaking in fear. Monsters roam freely. The Royal Castle is overrun by creatures, and I'm locked up in it's dungeon. But somehow, someway, no one knows. Everyone goes about their business in Castle Town, and those in Kakariko are forced to fend for themselves. Not one person gives a damn about the Zoras or the Gorons. Not one person gives a damn about me. I'm on my own.

Everyone is on their own.

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1. Chapter One

          "Woah! Easy, Elise, easy!" My cloak's hood was thrown back as I dodged my horse's rearing hooves. The rain poured down on my once protected head and soaked my long braid of hair. I patted her muzzle as she stamped anxiously, splashing my knee-high boots with mud. With wide eyes, she looked around, obviously nervous. "What's wrong, girl?" I coaxed. She pushed me with her head, urging me to move forward. Elise had been fine when we first started the day, slowly walking through Hyrule Field with a cart full of lantern oil. But as the sun climbed higher and higher, she became more and more antsy. Ignoring my attempts to ease her, her shiny black coat pushed past me and began to trot down the path to Faron Woods. "Eager to keep moving, are we?" I muttered. I jogged up to the cart and hopped in, pulling my hood up as far as I could. I wrapped my warm cloak around me and fiddled with my necklace as we rode off into the woods.

          A few minutes later, the rain stopped suddenly. The sun shone down cheerfully between the trees. A horrible smell engulfed the fresh air, overpowering any aroma there was. My nose crinkled as I patted Elise, "We're getting close, girl. I can smell his cooking." She snorted and threw back her head, almost like she was laughing. Birds whistled and chirped as we pulled up to a small house on the edge of disaster. With a hill right next to it, and a small cliff behind it, it fit snugly in the wilderness, perfectly resonating the occupant's personality. The roof, messy, but brilliantly constructed, resembled a bird's nest with its many branches, leaves, and pine needles poking out. A small young man sat outside in front of a cooking fire and pot, enjoying nature's company. A force of habit, I glanced at his ears. Short and round, it was quite a rarity in the city. Most people's ears were long and pointed in Castle Town, a symbol of status. The back-country was different. Ears were usually short and slightly pointed, but Coro's were full-blown strange. Maybe that's how he got stuck with this shit shop, I thought glumly. I then laughed quietly to myself as I watched him feed and play with the birds that hopped around at his feet. No, he put himself here. He loves it too much.

         "Coro! Long time, no see; how are you?" I exclaimed happily. His big, red afro bobbed as he turned to look, sending the birds that make nest in his hair into a feathery bustle.

            "Hey! Where ya been, Hael?" he asked as he stirred the muck of soup in front of him.

           "Oh, just the same old business places. I've got your new supply of lantern oil," I said, gesturing to my cart and horse behind me, "and I see you're still into cooking," I mumbled. Oblivious to my comment, or perhaps purposely, he took his ladle and sampled his soup, making a pleased face at the taste of it. "Same old recipe?" I asked, a queasy feeling rocking my stomach. He nodded his head as he ate more and put out the fire. I felt my stomach lurch at the sight.

            "Want some?" he offered the ladle.

        "No, thanks. I just had lunch," I lied, "You know, your sisters have been asking about you lately. Hena's still waiting for you to drop by. And Iza's still looking for a business partner. Why don't you go and visit?" I asked. Immediately, he dropped his gaze from mine and thoroughly examined the ground beneath his feet.

          "Well, the thing is..." he began, trying to think of an excuse.

         After a stretch of silence, I sighed, “You’re lazy? Can't bring yourself to visit your only family?" He didn't reply. "Not even bothering to make excuses....Can't even send a letter? They live right next to each other! You could send one letter and have both of them read it! Two birds with one stone, yet you won't even pick up a rock?" I shook my head in disappointment, "Fine. Ignore your loving sisters. Make them worry.... not my problem. Your business is my problem. Do you have the money?" He looked around at the forest, the path that was once so well-used, the locked gate, the light filtering through the overgrown trees overhead, his house in shambles.

        "Well.... business hasn't been.... booming lately. What with all the monsters popping up and that nasty fog always rolling in, I haven't had any customers besides Rusl. But even he's been showing up less and less. He's got a family, ya know? He should be taking care of them...," he trailed off. "Anyways, my entire stock's gone bad and Trill flew the coop a while ago. Can you believe that little traitor? Flew off without a word and stole most of my supplies! I knew he wanted to set up his own 'Bird-owned, bird-run, bird-friendly' shop, but he didn't have to steal my entire business," he rambled on as his small, thin frame ventured inside his house and brought out a small chest. He opened it and I leaned over his shoulder to get a look. Red gems shone brightly, but the few there were certainly not enough to make an impression. I had expected more rupees than that, even if he hadn't had any business. Where had all his savings gone?

          "Coro... You're a good friend and our families have done business for a long time now...but business is business. I hate to say this but... that's not enough," I said apologetically. He looked glumly at the ground and muttered to himself as he pulled out one of his lanterns and tossed me a few rupees. He filled it up at my cart while Elise fidgeted impatiently. Walking away, he stepped up to two torches and lit them. I sucked in a breath as a light flashed between the torches and a much larger chest appeared. "Don't tell me that you bought that magic from Purlo," I groaned. He only looked at the ground sheepishly and wrung his hands together. I was unsure why, but it seemed that lately he couldn’t look me in the eye for more than a second.

          "Yup! Bought it from Purlo, he did! Shameful, it is! Bhahaha!" a shrill voice chirped from seemingly nowhere. A blue myna bird with the same afro swooped down from above and perched on the soup bowl. The brightly colored tips of his wings shown in the sunlight. A bag hung from his feet as his long beak began to chow down on the soup. "Mm-mm, nothing like homemade," he said between mouthfuls. Seizing the chance, Coro tried to change the subject. "T-Trill! Where ya been?"

          I turned on my friend, "Coro?! How could you buy magic from Purlo?! Even you said his "business is as good as Reekfish perfume!" You know that stuff is dangerous! There's a reason that's his shady market. It's not quality, the guy will rob you blind! Remember what happened to Hanch? All he wanted was a spell to turn water into honey for Beth's birthday, and you know what that got him? That nasty, angry hornet nest right above Fado's house," I scolded. Coro continued to stare at the ground, shifting uncomfortably under my fury. I sighed, exasperated. Why was he making all the wrong decisions?

          "Right! Listen to her, why don't ya! That's why I had to go solo. No head on your shoulders, see? Purlo's bad news; you know it, I know it, so why don't ya stay away from him? Shady business is bad business I always say," Trill chimed.

            "You learned that from me..." Coro mumbled.

          "So why don't you take your own advice?" I sighed again. This was becoming an annoying habit, "Anyways, Trill. What brings you here? Here to help get this dump up and running again? Farore knows he needs your help."

       "Nope!" he replied, still devouring the soup, "Here on business I'm afraid, and not for his business. Your business. I need to buy some more supplies. Seems I'm fresh out." He flew over to perch on my wagon and tugged on the leather throng tying his bag. Out fell a small fortune of rupees, making both Coro and I gasp at the sheer amount. "I'd like to buy everything!" he said proudly, puffing out his chest feathers.

          "By the goddesses, Trill! Where'd you get all this money?!" I exclaimed. Coro's jaw hung open as he stared at the colorful array of gems.

          "Bhahaha! Ya wouldn't believe how much I sell! All to one person, too! Guy's real weird, see? Short with a pointy hat, blue skin, and red eyes. Always playing this horn he has. Same song all the time. Real weird, it is. But he buys oil every day! Runs his lantern all day, every day, he does," Trill laughed. Coro jumped into action, quickly opening his chest and snatching out his own fortune. However much was in there, it still wasn't enough for his entire savings. How much had that little spell cost?

          "I'd like it all, Hael!" Coro said, slamming the sack of rupees on my wagon. The sight of all the money made the merchant in me giddy at the thought of a bidding war. But, I thought, these are friends. Not walking wallets to drain. They started shouting prices at me, and then each other, determined to undermine the other's business.

          "Enough!" I yelled, my head beginning to throb, "I decide who gets what. I won't have old friends try to tear each other apart. What happened to you fools?" They both mumbled in defeat, knowing that the supplier's word was final, or they wouldn't have a supplier at all. I gave half to Coro and half to Trill, evenly dividing the oil.

          "Hael, I want your horse and wagon," Trill said shortly, his feathers still in a bunch. He produced more rupees and perched himself on Elise. I considered the decision, weighing what options I had. 

         "You can have the cart, but not Elise," I offered.

        "Stupid gal, ain't she?" he muttered to Elise. She snorted and tossed her head, flinging him off. He hovered in front of me. "I'm a bird! Use what Nayru didn't give ya! Cart's no good without a horse, see?" I stopped for a moment to consider something else.

          "Trill, even if ya got the cart and horse, how will ya drive that through the fog? Stuff is pure poison!" Coro asked.

         "The fog disperses with fire, see? Ya didn't know that? Learned that from a monkey pal of mine. Nice gal, she is."

         "Why don't you go ahead and take both. Drop off your supplies, and I'll stop by Ordon Village to pick up another horse. We'll meet back here and trade horses. Deal?" I offered. Trill thought for a moment, "Deal." Elise whinnied and reared, her eyes becoming wider and shifting constantly. She snorted and settled back down, but her gaze was alert. She was...on edge. I eyed her for a moment before continuing.

          "Alright then," I said, "Well, I was going to stay a bit to chat, but it seems I'm out of a horse. Best to leave now for Ordon and see if I can score a horse and saddle. I heard they were delivering a special package soon, so I should be in luck. Going to the Castle Town and meeting with the Princess, I'm sure they won't be using old and worn things. Take care of Elise, all right? She's been really nervous lately." I started my walk to Ordon as Trill and Coro began to hastily return to their business, obviously still miffed about the hasty argument. Amazing, I thought, how much can happen in a few minutes. I made my way past the mystical Faron Spring while I tugged on my necklace. The heat of the brief encounter made me tense, and I indulged in my old habit. Before I knew it, I had reached Ordon Bridge. The long rope bridge was a marker of where Faron Province ended, and Ordon Province began. Only a short ways away from Ordon Village.

          Halfway across the bridge, I stopped and stared at the deepening red of the sun. Dusk was my favorite time of day. I thought back to the legend told to us as children, of the other world bound to ours by shadows. Forced to live in the darkness. They say at dusk, our worlds are at their closest. That's why we feel this sudden weight on our hearts, a foreign burden that we can't quite explain. We feel their pain and sorrow. All of their regrets and grief. But I never felt that weight, not anymore. All those countless dusk's, sitting with my mother on the roof as the sun slipped under the horizon. We would watch and wait, counting down the moments. I would play with my mother's gold necklace as it twinkled in the light. Once the sun finally disappeared and the feeling hit, she wrapped me in her warm arms and whispered lovingly to embrace those feelings. To know that I could do something about them.

          I closed my eyes, took a deep, relaxing breath, and held it while I reminisced. I now know that as the twilight sets, you must start accepting things the way they are. Dusk was a time of peace. A time to reflect. Accept the decisions made poorly, and those made wisely. Welcome friends lost and friends earned. Come to terms with the choices of those closest to you. I waited until that moment of complete and utter silence when there was no sun, no moon, no bustling people, no worries, no problems. I waited for the moment that everything stops to admire. The moment made for thought, and let the breath out. I opened my eyes and enjoyed the peaceful bliss. My mind wandered back again to the dusk's spent with my mother.

          "But, even though we accept things, sometimes we need to change them. Just because we acknowledge they are there, doesn't make them right," she would say in the softest voice, "That's why the dawn comes. Dawn is a time of rebirth. A time of creation, of change. You should always take that chance. Don't ever just sit something out. Do what you think is right," She would look me deep in the eyes, "no matter if anyone doesn't agree. Because then dusk comes, and we accept. And dawn comes, and we change. The goddesses made everything for a reason." I kissed my necklace, once my mother's, once her mother's, and once her mother's mother’s. I leaned against the rope, listening to the gushing river hundreds of feet below.

          I heard a deep, long horn call off in the distance. Horse's hooves sounded across the canyon as a black steed shot past me and thundered down the bridge. "Elise?!" I shouted. Not a second later a thick shadowy fog fell across the path that I had been on moments before. A dark opaque wall with strange red markings appeared as the bridge began to rattle. The wood planks clanked together as my heart beat faster. I turned to run as three monstrous creatures atop giant brown boars rounded the curve.

        Two were the size of a human, green skinned with wood clubs in their deformed hands and ragged, greasy leather armor protected them. Their red eyes were menacing above the blue rags that covered their faces and horns stuck out from the sides of their heads. But the third leading the charge was far more noticeable. He was much larger and had longer horns. His sickly green skin was mostly exposed, and his face was chubby and grotesque. A blue boar sent dirt flying underneath him, easily the size of two horses, and was covered in dirty armor. Its mangled teeth jutted out of its mouth, dripping with saliva.

        I ran as fast as I could, my legs pounding against the wood and my heart beating hard inside my chest. I felt hands grab me and lift me up onto a boar. My head whipped forward painfully as a club smashed into it, blurring my vision. I went limp and watched the bridge's rope rush past me. Through a haze, I could see the monsters crash through a gate and into Ordon Spring where a girl, two boys, and a horse were caught off guard. My vision darkened as they attacked the group mercilessly. All three turned to flee. First, the seventeen-year-old boy was knocked unconscious by the sickening crack of wood against his head. The girl, not much younger than he, was running for her life. The throng of a bow put her down. The fate of the young boy, only nine or ten, was unknown to me. I prayed he escaped, but a sinking feeling in my gut old me otherwise.

         I felt something being placed next to me. Grunting with effort, I slowly turned my head, a pulsing pain making my vision grow red. When I finally got a look, I found the blonde girl lying next to me. An arrow protruded out of her back, and blood seeped into her clothes. I could see the older boy lying in the shallows, the water turning a deep crimson. Or was it just my poor vision? My eyelids started to droop more and more until I could no longer resist the urge to sleep. I finally slipped into the dark folds of my mind.

      "May the goddesses help us..." I managed to utter.

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