Chapter 10: Cunning Creatures
The room was lit by magical torches. Their illumination painted everything in shades of deep, deep red – fitting, perhaps, for the activities happening within the room and fitting for the people involved. A pair of remorseless and blood-drenched souls engaged in carnal pleasures, entangled in sheets of fine silk and a bedspread made from the soft, bespotted fur of nearly-extinct wild cats. His flesh was warm, while hers was cold and the man, not known by anyone for his delicacy, was gentler with the woman than he’d normally be with a mate. It wasn’t as though she were a robust Gerudo. She was merely a Hylian, and, for the time being, he actually needed her to live and remain healthy.
After a while, Cecelia rose from the bed, leaving Ganondorf to stare after her at her well-formed behind and the long, pale hair trailing down her back. She went to the door and opened it, standing there in naught but what the Goddesses gave her. In the hallway, her errand-boy faced her. No more than a child of twelve years, he choked at the sight of his queen’s pale, nude body. He trembled violently.
“Do you like what you see, boy?” Cecelia condescended. “Take a long look, for you will never get to touch it. We are in need of a light snack. Go to the kitchen and fetch for us a bottle of red wine – Ambrosia 24 from the basement and… oh… Lord Ganondorf requires some fresh, young lamb, roasted, medium rare.”
She touched the child’s chin and cheek with the long fingers of her left hand. “Be quick about it.”
The errand-boy sprinted down the hall. Cecelia retreated back into her bedroom and closed the door. “I shall remember to have that boy’s eyes put out later,” she said.
“You should have more respect for your body,” Ganondorf stated.
Cecelia sat down on the bed, giving her lover a good look at her long and shapely back. She trailed a finger over the silk sheets. “I can see why your Gerudo girls call you The Stallion.”
“You have a small portion of the power of a Goddess resting within you. If you are not careful with it, it could destroy you.”
“You mean that royal treasure I took?”
“You are out of balance. Your skin feels like the skin of a corpse.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve had your way with corpses.”
“The ice and the waters may be of Nayru, but, my little Hylian princess, you are a fool.”
“Queen, remember? By your orders once you took over the Council and I’ve asserted my rights.”
Cecelia slid up against him on the bed and played a hand idly over his chest. This was dangerous, like petting a tiger. This man had given her more of a thrill than any of the young trainees of the Royal Guard or the boys from the marketplace she’d snuck into her bedroom as a teenager. He was like electricity or fire – or like making love to the desert itself.
“I shall get my balance. I just need to find the other crystals. My loyal soldiers picked up a tip regarding dear little Kara’s whereabouts.”
“Zelda is the one that is important. And Link.”
“Do not worry about him. In this lifetime, he is weak. The power of Din covers the land – your alignment. He’ll be quite weak without the forests. And, remember, you have beaten him before.”
“The Lost One,” Ganondorf mused with a smile. “Did I tell you how, in celebration of my victory, I ripped the torn, still heart from his chest and ate it? The blood of Heroes is always very strong, very satisfying…”
A small, cautious knock came upon the bedroom door.
“Like fresh, young lamb.”
Death was following Link everywhere beneath the white-hot sun. He rode slowly to Mido over clay flats. He’d come across the dry, bleached skeletal remains of a fallen horse. It was not a complete skeleton – just the skull, the jaw, the neck and a partial ribcage. Its empty eye socket stared up at him from the tawny dust and sand. It felt like it was seeing through him. He’d watched vultures soar above his head, riding air currents, lilting and dipping, dark and graceful. He watched them land at the carcass of a deer, which they tore into.
Death was following the Hero and he did not want to think about it. Link looked ahead blankly, allowing Rhiannon to walk where she wished by the time they came to the gleaming white-stucco houses of the once port-town of Mido. Its docks now overlooked a vast, sandy plain. Rhiannon started trotting on her own, right toward a fountain.
“Link…” Navi pleaded, “please pay attention! I don’t like seeing you like this.”
“Who is it going to be, Navi?” Link asked forlornly. He had told his fairy companion of the vision he’d had. “I already lost someone close to me… not very long ago at all. I miss Uncle Russell every day.”
“You can’t worry about things like that right now, Link! There are many people counting on you!”
“If I can’t protect everyone, who can I protect?”
“Link, stop it.”
The young man slid off the saddle and patted Rhiannon on the neck as she drank deeply from the fountain at the edge of town. The edges of it were green and the fount that bubbled up at its center was languid. “I wonder if it’s safe for me to be here,” he said. “The town doesn’t look very lively, but with what happened with the Gerudo tribe back there…”
A young woman with black hair approached him. “Welcome to Mido,” she said. “Are you a long-distance traveler?”
Link nodded politely.
“Hey! It’s him!”
“Whoa, you’re right, it is!”
Link startled, ready to fling himself back up into the saddle and make a run for it, until he realized that the voices belonged to children. A little boy and a little girl ran up to him. They looked at him expectantly.
“Mister? Are you the wanted man?” the little boy asked, “You’re helping Princess Zelda, aren’t you?”
Link made a small noise of surprise, a little grunt.
“Yeah!” the little girl said. “We don’t like Queen Cecelia around here. We know she’s up to something bad.”
Link looked to the children, to the woman and to the town, his features marked by confusion.
“You’ll see posters up all over town,” the woman told him, “but we haven’t had those ghastly soldiers here in a long time. We know that Princess Zelda wouldn’t go off with just anyone and we aren’t too keen on the Crown right now. We know foul play is afoot.”
“An’ someone said you cleaned the
!” the little boy said. “They had to leave, though.” Bone Temple
“Huh? Who?” Link asked.
“A real nice lady named Sheik came through here!” the girl said, “She told us everything!”
“So, what brings you to our fair city?” the woman asked.
“I… I need to see a man named Duncan Mido.”
“The mayor,” the woman said. “His office is that big mansion up ahead.”
“Sir, there’s an outlaw with a fairy here to see you.”
“Huh? Fado, if this is another one of your pranks…”
“No! There’s a young man here to see you and he has a blue fairy with him.”
“Blue… not a healer….hmmm. Make sure he’s disarmed and let him in. I will speak with him.”
“Very well, sir.”
Moments later, Fado opened the door followed by Link and Navi. Link felt decidedly naked without his gunbelt and even more vulnerable without the Master Sword. It, along with his father’s blade, was leaned up against the wall in the hallway outside. “Don’t worry about your gear,” the woman said. “We’ll take care of it.
Fado was a rather strange woman, Link decided. She appeared to be middle-aged. She was blond and styled her hair into two large buns. She was tall and slender and she wore plastic-framed, horn-rimmed glasses. She was very little like the man Link knew back at Ordona Ranch that bore her same name.
“Thanks, doll,” the mayor said, waving his hand. “Get me a fresh typewriter ribbon from the supply closet, will you?”
Fado nodded and left.
The mayor looked up at Link and Navi from behind his desk. He was a rather chubby man, and balding – with just a wisp of bright red hair at the top of his head. He adjusted his glasses. “So, what do you want of the great and powerful Mido, peasant?”
“Um,” Link began, shifting one boot against the other, “I have been sent here on a mission and it involves you.”
“A mission? What are you talking about? I’ve not been involved in any dirty dealings if that’s what you’re thinking, Mr. Wanted Outlaw. I run a clean city. What could you possibly be here for? If you’re wanting playmates for your fairy friend, I hate to tell you, but the sacred fairy spring around here dried up close to five years ago.”
“A friend told me to come find a man named Duncan Mido. She really wants to see you again. That is you, correct?”
“Yes, yes, that’s correct,” the man replied. His gaze upon Link widened. “You look terribly familiar,” he said, “and not just from the wanted posters, I mean. I guess you have one of those kinds of faces.”
“I’ll give it to you straight,” Link said, narrowing his gaze. “I am trying to bring the forests back to Hyrule. I need you and all the other Kokiri to do it. You look vaguely familiar to me, but I cannot place you, either… it’s not like the vision I had with Saria….”
“Kokiri?” Mayor Mido exclaimed, “Saria? Saria is still alive?”
Link nodded. Navi left his shoulder to buzz about the chubby mayor’s head. “You sure grew up,” she said.
Another little ball of light leapt out of the pocket of Mido’s coat and flit about, chattering excitedly. “Navi?” she said, “It really is you!”
Link laughed softly and pointed at the mayor casually. “It would seem that I am right regarding your race, sir?”
“Yes, yes,” Mido said, wrinkling his nose. “I don’t know how a guy like you would know about the Kokiri.”
Navi spun around his wisp of hair. “Oh, Mido, don’t tell me you don’t remember! I have enough problems with him and that as it is! This is Link!”
“Link?” Mido asked, adjusting his glasses. “No, no,” he concluded, shaking his head. “He left the forest long before any of us, turned out to be a Hylian… It’s bad enough the Kokiri started to age when the forests vanished, but no Hylian could live this long. Besides, I heard he bought it on some battlefield somewhere.”
Link held his hand out and his index finger up. “I… um…I kind of have this interesting problem – problem or asset… I’m not sure. I’ve been told that this isn’t my first and only lifetime. I’m subject to reincarnation. Yeah, yeah, it took me a while to believe and accept it, too…”
“It’s true!” Navi chimed brightly. “It’s been hundreds of years, but he is our Link!”
“In any case,” Link continued, “Saria needs you. She is waiting in Old Kakariko for you and the other Kokiri. I’m supposed to take you there.”
“All right,” the mayor said, “I can’t just leave my city for anything, but if it’s for Saria… And…you…” he shook his head, “You do look familiar… like a ghost, I guess. I’m trying to decide whether or not to trust you.”
“Oh, Mido!” his own fairy scolded, “This is Navi. Navi wouldn’t just travel with some schmoe.”
“He’s a noble outlaw,” Navi promised.
“Do you know where the other Kokiri are?” Link asked, “Saria didn’t know and I have no idea where to even start looking.”
Mido grabbed his cane shuffled out from behind his desk. “My secretary, Miss Fado, is one. I can ‘call’ the rest, that is, if you can take me to the Great Deku Tree… if he still exists.”
“Great Deku Tree?” Link asked.
“Yes!” Navi cried enthusiastically, “He lives! He’s in Old Kakariko outside the
of the Goddesses. He’s disguised himself very well… he looks like a big thorny mesquite tree, but that is just his shell. I sensed him. He is waiting.” Temple
Fado threw open the door of the room. “The Great Deku tree has been found?” she exclaimed, “We can go home?!”
Mido smiled and patted Link on the back. “We found Link again, too!” He laughed. “What a day.”
The long stretch of land between Mido and Old Kakariko was rough country. Mido and Fado traveled in a small wagon drawn by Mido’s mule. Link rode alongside it and found himself on guard. As if sensing the great destiny that traveled with this group, monsters of many shapes sprang out of the sands and came down out of the hills the entire way. The Master Sword was out much more than Link’s gun as he’d gallop beside the wagon, keeping Rhiannon paced with the panicked mule, cutting down armored lizard-creatures and vicious skeletal dogs.
More than once, huge, reptilian birds appeared in the sky to dive down for the wagon. When Link was unlucky, they’d grab him up by the shoulders and toss him from the saddle. One of the creatures took the opportunity to chuck him into a bed of cholla cactus. He plucked out as many of the stubborn needles as he could, enough so he could ride, but not enough to be comfortable.
To their fortune, the group found an underground path that was free of monsters. It was guarded by a cheerful Goron who called himself Rock. Once Link was able to calm Rhiannon and the mule down enough to enter the path, they rode through a great series of caverns. They came out at Old Kakariko.
“Have you got all the needles out of him?” Midna asked, walking up to Link, who was sitting on the bench at the boarded up old General Store and to Impa Adelaide, who was engaged in merciless work with a pair of tweezers.
said. “If I’d left them in, they would have worked their way into your body and become infected. Doesn’t it feel better with them out now?” Adelaide
“Which goddess invented cholla, anyway? I’d like to weaponize that stuff.”
“I have something to show you, Link,” Midna said. “I would have showed you before, but I did not know how safe it was without the Master Sword being on you or near.”
“A power from the old days that we borrowed and I never returned,” the Twilight Queen said with a laugh. It may help us on the journey ahead.”
She held up a strange black stone, and as soon as she did, she plunged it, like the tip of a dagger, right into Link’s shoulder. He screamed and was engulfed in strange, swirling energy like thick black smoke.
“What the hell did you do to him?”
demanded, going for her jian. Adelaide
Midna stepped back. “I suppose it’s taking a moment longer because wolf boy here hasn’t done it in centuries.”
The thick, smoke-like magic dissipated. A four legged creature stood before the two women, growling and looking very displeased. Midna let out a short gasp, and then she started laughing wildly.
The unfortunate animal barked and yipped. He sniffed his front paws, and then his hind paws. He turned around in circles. He barked again, a high pitched, small yipping sound.
Impa Adelaide glared at Midna. “You turned him into a coyote?”
Midna got a hold of herself. “I was trying for a wolf, actually. In the lifetime in which I knew him, this stone could change him into a wolf. I guess this is more reflective of him in this lifetime. Oh, Link, you look so cute with your big ears and golden fur!”
Link braced himself on all fours, raised his hackles and growled.
cautioned. “Coyotes aren’t as big as wolves, but they can be very dangerous, too.” Adelaide
“I suppose this will be good for stealth,” Midna concluded.
“Coyotes are cunning,”
said, “they’re adaptable and they’re survivors. That is why they do so well in this harsh land when so many other creatures fail. I think all of that fits our Link pretty well.” Adelaide
“Will you let me change you back?” Midna asked the canine. “I can’t change you back unless you let me touch you.”
Midna reached down and Adelaide could not tell if she was simply pulling the dark crystal out of him or if she was stroking the place on his back where the Master Sword was affixed in his human form, but the strange magic swirled about Link again and in a moment, he was crouched on the ground on all fours, a man. He squeaked out a yip. Midna’s laughter could be heard through the whole of Kakariko.
Link walked up the steps to the area right outside the
of the Goddesses. He stood next to Zelda, who was watching Saria, Mido and Miss Fado all get re-acquainted with each other. Navi chattered with Mido and Fado’s fairies. Temple
“Oh, Link, you’ve come!” Saria said. “We wanted you to be here. We were waiting for you.”
Saria pointed to the mesquite tree. Being careful of the thorns, old Mido hobbled over to it and touched its outer bark. “I knew that idiot couldn’t really kill you,” he muttered.
“Link didn’t do anything and you know it!” Saria protested.
“I was talking about Ganondorf,” Mido said. He then stood before the tree, put his fingers to his lips and let out a sharp, loud, high-pitched whistle.
The top of the tree began shaking.
Figures came down out of the hills and desert from all directions. They hopped over the rocks and glided over the sands gracefully. They appeared ghostly, like images in watercolor. Each and every one of them was accompanied by a fairy. Some of the fairies were solid, like Navi, some where just as ghostly as the mysterious figures. Each and every one of the people that had come out of nowhere were children clad in bright green clothing.
“This land is full of cunning creatures,” Zelda said, “Men, women and beasts, from the coyotes that sing on the hilltops, to the unworthy rulers that practice politics… to children that hide in plain sight.”
“Where are they all coming from?” Link asked.
“It is normal for Kokiri to vanish from the eyes of other races when we do not wish to be seen,” Saria answered. She held out her hands to receive a small, spectral fairy that had zipped through the sky to her. “But in this case, Link, Mido, Fado and I are all that’s left of our race flesh and bone – these others that you see are spirits in need of rest.”
A little boy wandered right in between Link and Zelda, forcing them to move. He began playing a leaf-shaped fiddle. “The other Fado!” someone exclaimed, “Great to have you here, Mr. Important Sage!”
“Long-deceased Sage,” the boy, Fado, corrected. “I’m afraid Makar could not join us. As I’m sure you know, our sister race has found its own peace.”
“Two great Sages here! This is auspicious!” someone piped up.
“Don’t forget the Hero,” Saria said, pointing in Link’s direction, “and the rightful Princess of Hyrule. They are the reason why we must make this final ceremony.”
“Final?” Link asked. “What do you mean, Saria?”
“We’ve gotten old,” Mido groused. “That shouldn’t happen to us… getting old. We’re supposed to be kids forever. You stay a grownup too long and you start falling apart!”
“Hey!” a spectral Kokiri girl who was calling herself Lafa said, “The guy in the weird hat looks familiar.”
“Yeah, he does!” a boy named Remi agreed. “Have we seen you somewhere before, mister?”
Link crouched down to one knee and met the two eye to eye. He smiled a sad smile. “Maybe it’s for the best that you don’t remember me,” he said, “my own memories are fuzzy.”
“MY CHILDREN!” boomed a thick, authoritative voice. Everyone, at once, turned their attention to the mesquite tree, even Midna and
, who both had come up behind Link and Zelda to see what was going on. The tree began shaking, as if caught in an earthquake, though the ground around it and the Adelaide of the Goddesses remained firm and still. Bark began shedding from him like roof tiles caught in a fierce storm. Needles, leaves and mesquite bean pods showered onto the ground and turned instantly to dust. Link gawked as he saw a magnificent, lush tree of a species he did not recognize. What’s more is that it appeared to have a face. Temple
“MY CHILDREN,” it said again, “YOU HAVE COME TO ME, FINALLY.”
“Yes, Great Deku Tree,” Saria said respectfully, “As the Sage of Forest, I have searched long and hard for you throughout the dry lands. It is time for us to renew.” Saria bowed as low as she could in her aged and aching body. When she rose up again, she had become much shorter than she was before. Her hair was brighter and her skin was soft. She was a young girl.
Mido and Miss Fado had likewise changed – Miss Fado had shed her glasses and become a little girl with her blond hair up in two substantial buns. Mido had become a bratty-looking little boy.
Link simply stared. Zelda patted him on the shoulder, taking everything with serenity. The tree’s “eyes” turned to look directly at Link and it spoke again. “THANK YOU FOR BRINGING MY DEAR LITTLE CHILDREN BACK TO ME, HERO…. LINK!”
All the Kokiri’s heads turned at once.
“I thought he died a long time ago!”
Lafa grabbed him by the hand and pulled him toward the Great Deku Tree and to all the grouped Kokiri. They swarmed all around him, touching him with ghostly hands, stroking his ears and looking into his eyes. They all seemed to be too afraid to touch his gun and gunbelt or to touch the Master Sword. After several moments of this, the hugs came.
“We missed you!” Fala said.
“We’re sorry Mido was mean to you!” Soti apologized.
Mido crossed his arms with a “Humph.”
“CHILDREN, IT IS TIME.”
“We’ve got to go, Link!” Remi said, “It was nice seeing you again! Goodbye!”
“Goodbye?” Link asked.
Saria approached him while he was still crouched and caressed his cheek. “Link, we have to go now. We cannot remain in this world any longer.”
“What do you mean, Saria? I’ve just gotten to remember you.”
“You were a great best friend, Link… and you knew to be nice to a poor old woman. I had to lose you a long time ago. I’m afraid it’s your turn to lose me. I am sorry, but this is the way it has to be… for Hyrule… for the future…. And for our peace.”
The hand on his cheek began to feel strange and hard. Saria’s form began changing. Her eyes became dull and her skin began to take on the appearance of wood. Her feet became roots, snaking down into the earth and her hair became leaves.
“They’re turning into a forest!” Zelda exclaimed.
Fairies flit at the Kokiri-trees’ newly forming roots. They vanished, leaving grass behind their glittering trails. Navi returned to Link’s hat. “You still need me in my present form,” she said.
Link remained kneeling, a branch cupping his cheek where a small hand once was. It was the lowest branch on what had become a massive willow tree. Her weeping fronds swayed in the wind. Tears fell from his eyes.
Zelda tapped him on the shoulder. “Come on,” she said. “They’ve made their decision.”
Link stood, feeling dull and numb. He looked up, surprised to be in shade. He was standing among tall trees of many kinds. Light dappled the ground through the canopy of leaves. The entire temple was surrounded by this forest. The trees shaded the buildings of Old Kakariko. The main street was left open. The townspeople looked up and around, dumbfounded. This was not a large forest, more of a grove, but it was a larger grouping of trees than Link had ever seen in this lifetime.
The Great Deku tree had gone silent. His “face” took on the appearance of a sleeping old man’s. A wind blew through the little forest. It swirled up dust and light right before the gigantic old tree. A green, glowing light formed and left a sphere of emerald light, encased in a crystal. It spun in place upon the grass.
of Crystal Forest!” gasped. Adelaide
Link approached it slowly, drying his tears. He silently picked the crystal up. It crackled and dissipated, its magic infusing into his left arm. A green glow pulsed within his left bicep. A red-orange glow pulsed in his right bicep. Both glows vanished. Link closed his eyes and stretched out his left hand. “Kaze no Farore” he said in a soft, yet authoritative voice.
Suddenly, he vanished in a swirl of wind. Zelda, Midna and
gasped. He reappeared behind Midna. Adelaide
“A small teleport,” Midna said. “That could prove useful. How far can you go?”
Link closed his eyes and concentrated. He vanished and reappeared at the south end of town, then warped back again. “Only about that far… I couldn’t push it any further.”
“You can probably use that in dangerous places – if you need to make a quick escape,” Midna offered.
“Taking care of my life, I guess…” Link mused, “And Farore is associated with life. The incantation means ‘Farore’s Wind.’ Farore is also the Goddess of Courage… why would running away from danger be associated with that?”
“Well, Zelda said, “If you play the spell right, you might use it to run to a fight – after getting yourself wisely well-supplied. This could be a great convenience to you, even if it is of limited range.”
Link sighed. “Well, Midna, I already told you of how the spring spirits need your special brand of help. Are you ready to go?”
Midna nodded. “Perhaps you should travel on four legs instead of two. I shall require a steed, but horses are hard to keep out in the desert, as I’m sure you well know. It is better to have only one to feed and water than two. A canine’s feet are swift.”
“You’re right, but I found changing my form uncomfortable.”
“At least you do not have anyone riding you.”
Link turned around, submitting to Midna’s whim. She plunged the crystal into his shoulder. In a moment, he’d become a coyote.
“A very handsome beast,” Zelda said, crouching down. Link let her stroke his head and ears. He licked her hand gently.
“Much nicer than he was with me,” Midna groused.
“I’m not the one who turned him into an animal,” Zelda said with a smile. “You two take care of each other out there.”
“We will,” Midna replied, “just as we did before.”
Link’s large ears perked. He heard something, but he knew it did not come from an external source. He felt a pulsing sensation in his left foreleg. Echoing through his mind was Saria’s voice:
“I am with you, Link! I am helping you save Hyrule, yes I am!”
End Chapter 10.
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