Chapter 11 – Learning New Methods
Two more days passed i quiet toil among the ruins. The chilling laughter of the mysterious assailant still haunted their nights while his jeers bothered their days. Some did their best to ignore him. Zelda did her best to try and find him. She had much to discuss with the vagrant.
First, was why were they allowed in this part of the woods but no farther. She knew what would happen to them if they ventured forth. They would become stalfos. Her own inner knowledge and Link's experience told her as much. Yet, it also told her that ancient spells were woven into the fabric of life in the forest. That in that dense fabric somewhere were the spells and arcane enchantments that protected the Lost Woods from outsiders. If she could part that veil then she could enter the woods at will.
And that is currently where she found herself. Sitting atop a stone, chin in hand, her eyes roving over the fog and the half-hidden trees. With her mind she was doing a feather probe against the fog. She could feel the fog like she could a clothe. With the eyes of her mind all she saw were sparkles among the trees. And thin lines that seemed to vanish in and out of life. She knew that the fog was the protection from magic-users. It was the fog she was trying to part. Yet, she could not see how.
It blanketed the whole area and hid everything from her. If she applied pressure with her probe the fog would give a little then give no more. It was frustrating. And somehow her assailant was hiding in there. What he was after she was not sure. Though, his actions spoke of malice his intentions spoke of help.
She exhaled slowly, using her mind to sift through the old magics here. There was much residue. Most of it she could not place. Some of it she knew to be defense spells. Auras of strength and wards of protection. This site had once seen a lot of magic.
She tried to smell the fog and things became confusing. There were a thousand scents within. Some were life-like. Trees, bushes, and grasses. Some scents belonging to animals and other living things she could not place. Like the very forest and all the life within it was teeming with magic. And through it all the one prevailing thing was how it smells. How ancient and solid it was. Older than the withered stone she sat upon. Much much older.
Then the frustration overcame her. In a moment of anger she thrust her probe at the veil, its point now more like a claw than a finger. The shock of it broke the frustration as she saw the tear she had made in it. A tear that was now completely sewn back-up. She narrowed her eyes shrewdly. Apparently she had been too subtle. She smirked. Yes, sometimes quick action is necessary. She struck at the fabric of magic again, this time concentrating on making her probe sharper.
It parted the veil once more, but the tear was already being sewn-up. With quick mental fingers she gripped two sides of it and pulled. The tear grew and where she pulled at the fabrics the fog parted. She stood, still holding the fog apart and smiled.
"Link! I've done it!" She called.
In a moment’s notice Link was by her side, his sword drawn. He said nothing as he gazed into the parted fog. His eyes and senses then wandered the other parts of the fog, till he found it. The presence.
"He's over there." He pointed towards the right with his sword.
Zelda nodded absently. Her focus was instead on the myriad of lines and webs that she could now see. She actually saw how everything was connected. How they grew in a pattern. How they interacted. All of it was not random like normal living things. The very trees and bushes grew along certain lines. Lines woven to emulate enchantments and magics of protection. There were no enchantments on the plants. The plants themselves grew in a pattern to create the enchantment. The complexity of it all astounded her. Yet, soon she began to comprehend how to manipulate it. The plants were active. Something was guiding them, a force unlike a normal being. If he could guide them so could she. Yet, she doubted the presence was the one guiding them.
She smiled at that thought. Her head turned towards where Link's sword had pointed. She released her grasp on the fog and attacked the area where the presence hid. The fog parted revealing him standing there. He was garbed in loose brown pants and a form-fitting green shirt. He had wrapped around him a cloak, and a black bandanna hid his nose and lower face. Only his short blonde hair and crystal blue eyes could be seen.
She slowly walked towards him, Link at her side. Link had now drawn and nocked an arrow. She stopped some ways before the stranger. The man looked around then met her eyes. He started clapping, his gloved hands muffling the noise. "Very good," came a melodious voice somewhat stifled by the clothe. "It seems my gift to you worked. Unless you always knew how to do that?"
She said nothing, her eyes focused on the webs surrounding him.
He chuckled. "Are you not even going to thank-me?" He shook his head ruefully. "And as to you...guardian." He sneered the last word, contempt brimming in his tone. "You should learn to take better care of her."
The bow tightened.
"She is at risk to more things than just physical. Things magical will be after her. Especially, when they realize she has awoken."
"Then the cycle has truly begun again?" Zelda queried, her mind grasping the lines of plants.
He regarded her a moment then laughed. Short and loud. "You hold the knowledge. Not I. You tell me."
She narrowed her eyes. He was hiding something, she knew. Hiding much. He knew what was going on. He was also moving events along. Not to help as she thought. No, standing here in his presence her mind's senses roving over him she knew he only enjoyed manipulating people, regardless of the aims. She took a step forward. She raised her hand to motion Link off. He lowered the arrow and put it away. "Yes the cycle has begun again. And, thanks to your quick involvement you have tipped the scales in our favor." She curtsied to him.
Confusion rang in his eyes. "Ah...yes. I knew that by unlocking your secret it would help your side immensely."
Good. He's found his confidence again. It blinds all men. Just as lust does. She then took more steps towards him. Her hips swaying slowly and her lips slowly forming a pout. Her eyes danced up and down his form as she spoke. "And I have yet to thank-you for doing that." She whispered, her voice husky.
Desire flashed in his eyes and his hands were soon confused as to what to do. He swallowed a lump in his throat and lost his voice in doing so.
She stopped a mere foot from him. Her hand slowly rose towards his face.
He leaned in, his eyes slowly closing, aching for what she was offering him.
Her mind danced across the webs in a quick series of pulls and tugs. She hastily created her own web, pulling it tight around him.
His eyes snapped open as he felt the branches twining around his arms. He felt the pull of the vines as they slithered around his shoulders and pulled him taunt. His eyes now went from the plants to her and shock riddled his features. Then he saw her raise her hand and swing it at him. The blow left him seeing stars and his cheek grew numb.
"Link, nock that arrow, please. Aim it at his heart."
When the stranger could see again he saw the Heir pacing behind her shadow. Link's arms were raised and his eyes were upon his chest. The stranger did not have to wander if Link was going to miss or not.
"Who are you?" Zelda abruptly asked, her eyes finding his.
"My name is Bleys."
"What do you want?"
He chuckled. "To have fun."
"Your kind of fun would leave some people dead. I can see right through you. You must realize that. I can see every intention you have before you have it. I can see every move before you make it. Just look how easily I ensnared you in my own web using your home against you."
He swallowed. He could not deny that she had easily played him. "Then ask what questions you will. And I'll tell you the answers I can."
She looked at him. "With a word Link will kill you."
"And you'll get no answ....." His words were cut-off as the branches and vines holding him began to pull. Each yanking him in a different direction. He started to scream at the pain. Minutes dragged by before he heard one of his shoulders 'pop.' Only then did the pressure ease and his screams cease. His shoulder felt like it was on fire. His blurry vision cleared somewhat as he blinked away the tears.
"I could do that to you for a very long time, you know. I could make it hurt for weeks. Or I could order someone else to do it for me. Save they'll use sharper means." Her voice was like ice.
He cleared his dry throat and spoke in a raspy tone. "Well, yes you could. And here I thought you incapable of causing me pain. Seems I underestimated your legendary kindness." The vines holding his dislocated shoulder gave a sudden lurch. He yelped in pain.
The Heir's eyes were narrowed dangerously. "Did you even realize how much pain I was in for two weeks? Do you know what it feels to have your mind raped and thousand times over?"
He couldn't meet her gaze.
"I've considered and toyed with the idea of showing you physically what you did to me mentally." Her tone had taken a sharp edge. "I am still undecided." With those last words over a dozen thick and mangled branches approached the prisoner on all sides.
Panic swept through him as he tried to wriggle from his bonds. "I can't tell you everything! I'm not allowed!" He wailed.
"On whose say?" The branches came closer. Some edging behind him.
"The guardian spirit of the forest!"
"I don't know! I was only told to awaken the gift of the goddesses within you!"
"Did he say use that method?"
"No!" He shrieked as he felt a branch caress his backside.
The branches now stopped. A speculative expression came over the Heir. "Alright, I have now decided. You tell me freely what you can. All of it. And if I am satisfied, you won't experience anything else unpleasant. Agreed?"
His breathing was coming in powerful short bursts. He was beginning to feel lightheaded. "Deal!" He shouted.
The branches withdrew some. The Heir nodded her head, indicating for him start.
"Okay. The Great Deku Tree is the guardian spirit of the forest. He sent me to unlock the wisdom within you. He said you would understand things better and what was at stake if this were done. I was told that the wisdom-bearer had to awaken first and in turn would guide the courage-bearer. I was as well told to never reveal my face to her. Which wasn't a problem since I don't show my face to many. He as well said that he would offer what help he could. And it comes in the form of these ruins. He has receded the protective fog so you can utilize this as a sanctuary for you and your allies while you try to take back your kingdom.
"He as well offered a warning. Somethings have changed in this cycle, yet they remain the same. Seven wisened-men sought to end the cycle, but failed. The result is confusion. The evil you are facing first is the one that operates from the shadows, using others before himself. Beware who you allow into your home."
He took a deep breath.
"That's it?" She queried.
He nodded. The branches came closer. He shrieked.
"And the methods you used?"
"Were all me! I was just having fun!"
"Fun." The branches ripped several parts of his pants with their jagged knobs.
He wailed and struggled.
"Next time you approach me you will show me proper respect. Or I'll use a few imaginative men to teach you how to respect me. Clear?"
He nodded vigorously. The branches retreated from his waist line and the ones holding his feet let go. The vines pulled up and flung him deeper into the forest. Zelda released the fabric with her mind and the fog rush to fill the space.
"Let's go, Link."
Link replaced the arrow to his quiver and followed behind the Heir as she walked towards the tent.
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