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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Worth a Thousand Words

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When fanart hits home

It's really just some silly fan art. It's a simple piece showing off the differences between two different iterations of the 'Zelda' franchises' Hero of Time: one serious and stoic, the other bright and cheerful. If you think of it in a literal sense, they're technically the same character. Both of them have seen their fair share of adventures, of troubles, of the burden of saving the world, and yet they've created two different people. Maybe it's just the differences in their age that shaped the way they viewed their experiences, or maybe one is just truly more cynical than the other, but it struck me as such a strangely familiar juxtaposition.

We would play 'Super Smash Bros. Melee' together, you and I. Items off, for we had pride in our battles and skill alone would decide the victor. You were an impenetrable fortress, a bastion of forward smashes and whirling Up + Bs that I had no way of even denting. You were Link, you were warrior incarnate, and you were always victorious. It didn't stop me from trying, but it was a consistently futile series of attempts. This was my version of fun growing up: constantly chasing your coattails, less to ride them and more to cut them off for my own use. The closer I got, the further away you'd be, as if opposite magnetic fields would always keep that space between us.

It's something I'm used to by this point. We're just always going to miss each other.

It struck home with me at the oddest of times. Years after our exploits, I had discovered the competitive end of 'Melee', and found myself drawn into its charms once again, especially with the 'Brawl' mod 'Project M.' Setting up a match against a randomly selected computer player, I picked my usual character, Toon Link, protagonist of the brightest, shiniest and, in my opinion, best 'Zelda' game. I had always gravitated toward that particular version of Link. He was happiness and bravery personified, and he had always struck a chord with me, linked with me, if you'll forgive the terrible and completely accidental pun.

But when that match loaded, lo and behold, who should be my opponent but Link. Your Link. Your serious, stoic Link, face to face with my bright and brave Toon Link.

It all flooded in at once. Magnetic fields. Up + B. Space, so much damned space between us. The frustration of having a front seat to watching our lives drift apart was suddenly pictured so very clearly on the screen in front of me. Two heroes, two times, two lives that were so similar and yet literal worlds apart. We were simply faced with the inevitable results of the roads we had chosen to travel.

It almost hurt to hold the controller as I progressed through both match and memory as our blades clashed and our bows bent and we both created space between us. The fact that I was fighting a CPU barely registered with me, because for all purposes, it might as well have been you. My fingers completed the motions while my heart attempted to process the fact that things would probably never be the same between us again. The match finished with Toon Link victoriously taking up the forefront of the results screen, but all I felt was the quiet sadness of my realization.

This all came back to me a few months later as I saw this picture - Link riding on Epona, Toon Link wearing a Luigi costume, steeded upon Yoshi - and I thought of you. For the longest time, I fluctuated between bitterness at the loss of our friendship and attempts to understand your frame of mind in all of this, when this picture suddenly made it all crystal clear.

It wasn't a discussion of right or wrong or if anyone was to blame. We're just two heroes in two different times with two different ways of saving our two worlds.

So we'll save our worlds the best way we know how for now and just hope that one day our timelines will be linked again. For now, I wish you well, Hero of Time.

All your base are belong to Aaron Waite.

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