Chapter 7: Static Steel and Hearts of Glass
Tha-rump! Tha-rump! The hoof beats sounded on the hardpan earth. She didn’t have to ride this hard, but her animal had been bred for hard travel and wanted to run. The two guards that traveled with her likewise had trouble stifling the spirits of their mounts. Twilit steeds were lively beasts and might not be rightly called horses. They were something all their own, with their arching, flat horns, their shaggy hair and fanged mouths.
The creatures really were something a little more like wolves than horses.
The queen rode hard through the dusk over a place once known alternately as No Man’s Land, Ourland and New Hyrule – that is what she heard the kingdom was called after the ocean’s waters retreated. She rather liked the name “No Man’s Land” because it indicated a certain freedom, or “Ourland” because it denoted a cooperation among its people. “New Hyrule” had never felt right to her. The last she’d heard from her emissaries, the land was just Hyrule once again – as it always had been and was always destined to be, perhaps.
Midna and her entourage had cleared the Borderlands Portal some hours back. She had been surprised as any when the natural rip between the Light World and the Twilight Realm had begun to appear at a certain set of mountains. It began with people in the Southern Region of the Realm seeing strange auroras in the sky that touched down to the earth. Hunters and explorers had come back with stories of having slipped into a “terrible land of harsh light” to come back, thankful to be alive. This had happened many years after Midna had shattered the official gate between the worlds – the Twilight Mirror. The queen, young back then, had thought about finding a way to seal off this unexpected tear, but, instead, decided to investigate it and eventually put it to her use.
Time passed differently in the Twilight Realm than it did in the Light World – much differently. Twili were long-lived beings, but beyond that, the very flow of time worked differently between the two places. Had she lived for a long while in the Light World, she would, by all rights, be dead by now from age. As it was, she was in that prime of life where one can no longer be called young, but cannot yet be called old. Perhaps it was only that light dwellers were short-lived, as mayflies to a Twili – but many thought that a light dweller living in the Twilight Realm would live almost as long because of the way that time worked there. The Twilight Realm had a leisurely pace while the Light was always speeding. Queen Midna had to keep reminding herself that centuries had passed in Hyrule with many great events. Certain events that she remembered having taken a part in seemed like only a number of years ago, a decade or so, perhaps – not immediately recent, but not long ago to her, either.
She had to remind herself of the differing flow of time the first time she’d passed through the portal. She’d known then that centuries had not passed, but a number of years had. She was eager then to get in contact with old friends, even as she’d reminded herself that they had moved on with their lives and she was likely to be greeted with wrinkled faces. When she’d emerged from the Borderlands Portal, back then, she hadn’t even come out in Hyrule, but, instead, in a neighboring kingdom called Holodrum. The portal was right on the border between the two. That kingdom was a place once known for its seasons. Like much of the rest of the Light World, it now had only two: “Hot” and “Not as hot.”
Midna had wanted to see one particular face back then. In a small way, even now, she pined for Link. She knew by the time she’d found her way back to Hyrule via the portal, that he’d have gone on with life, grown older, and perhaps started a family of his own - even as she remained in her insulated near-eternity. She’d headed straight for
and was pleased to see a huge bronze in Hyrule Castle ’s square dedicated to the Hero of Twilight. She’d met a young man in town and thought it was Link for a moment, wondering if he’d been caught in his own near-eternity. His features were uncanny, save for a few subtle differences upon closer inspection. The man informed her that he was the queen’s son and that she had been expecting her, ever since seeing her in a dream. Castle Town
Zelda had grown into the light wrinkles of middle-age. Midna spoke very long with her regarding memories and the portal. Midna was introduced formally to Prince Midnight, Zelda’s son, and to Princess Linette, her daughter. King Patrick was away on a diplomatic mission. Midna asked quite eagerly about Link and requested to see him.
Zelda and Prince Midnight led her to the back of the palace grounds – to a grave. It was a well-kept but old grave.
Midna remembered her knees failing her. She remembered collapsing on the ground beside it and weeping softly. Zelda explained that Link had been her first husband and that Prince Midnight was his son, named for her. Princess Linette was her daughter with Patrick, named, with his consent, after Link. He had been killed while on a mission with his friends, the Group, many years prior, when was just a little boy.
Then Zelda had said, cryptically; “I feel that he is at peace, awaiting his next lifetime.”
Midna didn’t see much value in coming to the Light World after that. She set up relations between her palace and
when the times allowed for it and saw it valuable to maintain peace and friendliness on a political level, but now was the first time she had come to the Light since then. She’d heard stories out of Hyrule regarding the powers of the Goddesses and Heroes carried on rumor all the way to her throne. They meshed well with the Realm’s own legends regarding a curse that kept a soul bound to continual rebirth and repeated death. Hyrule Castle
Midna didn’t want to meet that cursed swordsman again. She wanted to move on and to let him live however many lifetimes he was bound to live – better off for not knowing her. She did not know why she decided to answer the plea of this age’s Princess Zelda – also a cursed being, it would seem. She wrote down startling memories in her letter. As Midna questioned, she remembered why. Desert was beginning to spread into the Twilight Realm. Yes… she was in this for selfish reasons, as always – to protect her people, her land. Such reasons were prudent.
But what was she going to say or feel once she saw Link again?
Link walked slowly along the rails, leading Rhiannon by the reins. Navi floated along beside him. When she got tired, she rested on his hat. They’d found an old railroad track, rusted with age. The ties were dried and cracked. Link suspected that this was the old Lake Hylia Line and so decided to follow it. It was long out of use – since the lake had ceased to become a grand tourist destination. Link suspected that it also had to do with a shortage of coal in this part of the nation. There were still some rail lines in use in the far east and south – though nothing like the days that Link had read about when there’d been the rail boom. Rumor had it that some trains were even armed for war with cannons mounted into them. Bandit gangs would have great difficulty robbing those kinds of trains, he mused.
“So,” Link said after a long silence, “I am on a mission to collect three pendants so I can gain the Master Sword… so I can assassinate the president.”
“Yep!” Navi chimed much too brightly.
“It all seems so weird to me. I don’t even care about President Ganondorf, its Cecelia that I’m after.”
“They are connected, Link” Navi explained.
“I know. That’s what Zelda said.”
“Ganondorf’s been known to take on people to use. Cecelia is probably his pawn this time around.”
“Zelda thinks that maybe Ganondorf is the pawn this time.”
“It isn’t likely. He is an ancient evil, just as you are an ancient good. In any case, to put Hyrule right, you’ll have to face the both of them and for that you’ll need the sacred sword. Zelda and I both think that the world will begin to mend itself once you succeed, with the return of the forests once the powers of the Triforce are in balance again.”
“I don’t want to promise anything, Navi,” Link replied. “I just feel like I’m caught up in a bunch of things I do not understand.”
“You felt the same way when I knew you before,” the fairy said. “Don’t worry. You did well then. You’ll be magnificent again.”
The rails vanished into the sand. They curved and then were buried. Link found himself looking out upon a sprawling depression in the earth, bone-white and sparkling in the sands… a vast salt flat. He wrinkled his nose when he caught a scent on the wind – the rotten and algae-choked odor of stagnation. He heard a slight but distinctive sound.
“Navi, are you crying?” he asked.
“Uh huh,” the little fairy confessed. “I remember this place. I never thought I’d see
like this. It’s been dried up before, but never this bad… never this bad.” Lake Hylia
Link mounted Rhiannon and began riding her at a walk across the salt-plain. “I think what’s left the lake part must be off over that way,” Link said, pointing. “We might find fresh water for my mare if we keep going that way, but I have no idea if it’s even safe for her to drink. Glad we found that little well a way’s back.”
“Hey!” Navi chimed, “What’s that ahead?”
Link tipped the brim of his hat and looked off where Navi indicated. He winced as a spark of sunlight stung his eyes. “I don’t know. It looks kind of metallic, whatever it is.”
Link rode toward the mysterious object. He thought that its identity would become clear once he got close to it, but as he came near, it struck him as all the stranger. It appeared to be a box, though not perfectly rectangular, cut at weird angles half-buried in the sand. It was metallic in nature, though tarnished and coated with a light rust in places. It looked like it had plates for skin, welded and bolted together tightly. Link dismounted and walked up to this strange thing. He ran the fingers of his left hand along the surface and jumped back when he heard a rumbling noise. What apparently was a door slid open. He peered inside and stepped inside cautiously, his boots crunching sand and rust.
The door slid shut behind him.
“Shit!” he exclaimed as he rushed back and banged upon the sealed door, trying to will it to work.
Navi gasped. “Link…” she said, “You said a bad word.”
“Huh?” he said, whipping his head around toward her. Her light illuminated the area with a pale blue cast. “We’re trapped! We have to find a way to get this door open!”
Rhiannon whinnied wildly outside.
“Link, you said a bad word,” Navi insisted.
“Yeah? So what?” the young Hylian retorted.
“That’s not like you,” the fairy complained.
“What? Sure it is. If you think that’s bad, you should hear it when Fado hits himself with a hammer or when Malon deals with an ornery horse.”
“I’ll let it go… this time. I guess every lifetime makes you a little bit different.”
“Piss, bitch, damn, ass, balls.”
“Got your attention.”
“Look over here, Link!”
Link turned around and followed his fairy. She hovered over what looked like a plaque covered in dust. Link bent over and wiped the dust away. There was an inscription on the plaque in perfect Modern Hylian.
To the wayward traveler who finds him or herself here:
The people before you are not dead, but merely sleeping.
This suspended animation was a last resort to save the Zora people.
Here, in this wreckage leftover from before when we Goddesses created this world, they will stay to await the tides.
They will not live again until the great waters return.
Enacted by Nayru with the good help of Farore.
“What does this mean?” Link asked as, suddenly, lights came up throughout the room. They shone upon the plaque and upon a massive construct before him. The room he and Navi were in stretched upon for nearly the width of the entire town of
. Link’s jaw hung as he beheld row upon row upon row of coffin-sized glass cylinders, all stacked side by side and atop one another, connected by metal bands and strange tubing and wires. A hissing sound filled the room and sheets of frost were blasted from the outsides of the cylinders, as if by a great wind. Inside them Link could see people who appeared to be sleeping… or dead. They were like no people he had ever seen before in the flesh, though he had seen old drawings and photographs in books. Their skin was covered in shimmering scales. Their arms and legs and even the heads on some of them had fins and flukes. They were fish-men, fish-women and fish-children. There were even a few cylinders with clutches of frozen eggs. Old Kakariko
“I thought they were… extinct…” Link said, overwhelmed. He heard a crackling sound behind him and quickly turned around. He yelped as he saw a ghostly figure, flickering every now and again like a bad television picture. It stayed in one place and made no move to harm him or Navi.
“A Watarara?” Link asked.
“Rito,” the figure answered, “though, in truth, I am only modeled after one. What you see before you, dear visitor, is a hologram. I am the interface for this ship’s computer.”
“Ship?” Link and Navi asked at the same time.
“Yes,” the hologram answered. “The great Goddesses of this world came from a distant nebula. This is one of the crafts they rode in, a star-sailer, if you will. Welcome to the
.” Steel Temple
“So… I am supposed to be here,” Link said. “Alright, we made it.” He looked around the room, toward two dark corridors that didn’t seem to lead anywhere and back to the eerie transparent coffins of the frozen Zora.
The holographic birdlike figure crackled again.
“What are you, again?” Link asked.
“I am what is keeping this ship running and keeping the Zora frozen. They would die if they faced the world as it is right now. I am the Medical Support System and Life Initiator – or ‘Med.-LI’ for short. The Goddesses modeled my image and voice from the image and voice of a loyal sage. I am powered by the sun and will only initiate the program to free my charges upon detecting a sufficient amount of water. The right and left corridors lead to various sections of the ship. This place also serves as a vault for the sacred Pendant of Wisdom, meant to be gathered by the one destined to bring forth the tides.”
“I am seeking that very pendant,” Link said, “I’m not too familiar with computer systems… heard the Royals use them, but the way you look, you must be some sort of magic and I’m getting more used to that all the time. Med-li, is there a way out of this temple?”
“Analyzing request,” the hologram said, folding her wings over her body, raising her head to the ceiling and closing her eyes in simulated concentration. “Left, right, right, right, right, left, up, left.”
Navi floated close to the hologram. “Link, I don’t think she’s just a construct… I sense the faint traces of a spirit here.”
Med.-LI’s eyes snapped open. “Link,” she said softly. She craned her neck toward him. “Re-member. I followed the fate of sages and somehow became in-in-incorporated here. It was fated we should meet again? You grew up.”
“Am I supposed to know you?” Link asked.
“The sage I used to be, yes,” the hologram replied. “Medli. Earth Sage. I must guard these people… The Hero of Winds was lost long ago?” She shook her head, as though she’d lost some information, or was dealing with it in fragments. Medli flickered and crackled, then became stable again. “Nayru said to wait for the Hero of Tides.”
“The Hero of Tides?” Link asked.
“He who is destined to bring back the tides – water, forest, seasons, balance… the fresh water and the seas. Break the stranglehold of Power. Bring Courage and Wisdom back. Become in touch with the space between, the Aether. He shall first get the Pendants and the Sword, then untie the powers of Flame,
Forestand Ice and rescue the Spirits that remain.”
“This is all very cryptic,” Link grunted.
“Only through the Aether will the tides be restored. The Pendant of Wisdom is guarded here. If you are the one destined to take it, take it and use it well. It is guarded by many dangers.”
Medli crackled one last time and vanished.
“What did she say again?” Link asked, “I’m supposed to go left first, right?”
“Left, not right,” Navi answered. “I remember. I’ll try to guide you.”
“BRILLIANT navigation, Navi!” Link hissed as he dodged a hail of bullets. He’d just gotten himself caught in a very narrow corridor – one with rapidly firing gun turrets along the walls.
“I didn’t think they’d be active! They looked so old and rusty!”
“Talk about a tight security system!”
The young man and the fairy had been meandering through the corridors of the
, surprised to find not a whiff or a hair of any monsters. What they got, instead, was a particularly vicious automated security system consisting of floating platforms, freeze blasts, electrical charges, floors that dropped out from underfoot and wall-mounted, automated gun turrets. Steel Temple
“Why doesn’t Medli turn this stuff off? She trusts me, right?”
“I don’t think she can,” Navi answered. “Link! Look out! Incoming!”
Link ducked and rolled, narrowly avoiding getting his head shot off.
“Aaarrrgagh!” he yelped as he landed and pulled himself into a safe position behind a steel wall.
“Link!” Navi exclaimed, “Are you alright?”
It took only a second for her to realize that he was not alright as the light of her body caught a blood trail on the floor. Link was grabbing his right thigh and grunting painfully.
“It’s not serious,” he told the fairy, “just a flesh-shot. I’ll live.”
“Can you walk?”
“Probably, but probably not very fast.” Link brought out the knife from his belt. “I should get the bullet out.”
“Remember the whiskey!”
“Oh, yeah.” Link took the flask from his pocket and took a hefty swig before plunging the tip of the knife into his thigh and digging.
Navi couldn’t watch. She turned her face to the darkness of the corridor. “I meant… you should have used the whiskey to sterilize the knife!” she said.
Link’s throat was burning and he winced back tears as he found the bullet and pried it free. He dropped his knife, leaned back against the wall and lolled his head. His thigh bled profusely.
“Link…” Navi asked, turning around, “Link, you’ve got to stay awake! Stay with me, please!”
Link sat up with a groan, blinking his eyes rapidly, trying to stave off the urge to pass out. “Well, that hurt like hell,” he said with a cracked voice. He picked up his bloody knife and cut off the lower portion of the right leg of his jeans. He wrapped this over his wound tightly in a measure to staunch the blood flow and to try to cut the pain. He took another swig from the whiskey flask and got himself to his feet. Navi floated in front his nose to guide him onward. She vanished every now and again down one path or another to scout ahead. Link limped along, trying to keep as brisk a pace as he was capable of.
“You’re still the Hero of Time,” Navi said as they made their way toward a faint trace of light.
“What makes you say that?” Link asked.
“That thing you did with the knife…. You still have more guts than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Link smiled. “Had to be done,” he said. “Wouldn’t walk as well with the bullet still in me.”
They entered a room with light that filtered in from a skylight. A statue resembling a Zora with a harp held a chain with a shining blue pearl. Link checked the room for any sign of traps and took it.
“That was it?” he said as he slipped it around his neck.
“I guess so,” Navi replied. “It took a great deal of wisdom to get through all those security measures.”
“Well done” said a voice above them. It was Medli’s voice coming from the walls. The skylight above them slid open and a set of stairs unfolded themselves from the wall. Link and Navi exited. Rhiannon greeted them. They weren’t however, where they had been before. They could not see any part of the
save the door below them, which slid shut and was quickly covered by shifting sands. Before Link and Navi was the tell-tale shimmer of water, though a small amount, a rocky hillside, and the bleached bones of what appeared to be a great whale. Steel Temple
Curiosity took Link to wander toward the old whale. He stumbled, then caught himself.
“Careful!” Navi scolded. “We should ride back to Kakariko. I don’t sense any fairy springs around here and you need medical attention.”
“I’ll be alright, Navi,” Link insisted. “My leg hurts, but I’ll be alright. If we just rest here for a few days, it’ll start healing and we can head on north to find the Glass Waterfall.”
He stared up at the skull of the beached whale. Link had read of whales in books, but he’d never actually seen one. These bones didn’t like quite like the old illustrations of the remains and fossils in the science texts that Uncle Russell made him read as part of his home education when he’d been growing up. There were bits of the skull, particularly the jaw, that were very fish-like. Broken ribs rose into the sky, against the setting sun. Link decided that it certainly must have been an impressive beast in life – whatever it had been.
Navi, who was sitting on his shoulder, was sobbing softly.
“What’s the matter, Navi?” the young man asked.
“You really don’t remember…” Navi sighed. “Poor old man… poor, poor old man… Link, the bones here aren’t those of an ordinary fish. They’re the bones of a god.”
“The patron of the Zoras… Jabun… Jabu-Jabu. I don’t think he could have died on his own, even with the spread of the desert. His poor old heart! He must have just decided to quit this world. What kind of a world is this now, when even gods are losing hope?”
“Ssh, Navi,” Link said, taking her in his hand and stroking her back lightly and carefully with a fingertip. “We’re both tired. We’ll camp here tonight. Maybe spending time here will bring me memories of him that I’ve lost.”
“It feels like everything is winding down, doesn’t it?”
“Hmm?” Link asked.
“It’s strange,” Navi said as she sniffled, “It just feels like the clock is winding down. The powers of Nayru in this world are nearly gone. The powers of Farore have been fading for a long time, only the elements of Din remain but the land feels… I don’t know… apathetic. It feels like the entire world is dying.”
“Isn’t that what I’m around to stop?” Link said as he began setting up a little camp beside a dried up old tree. Rhiannon drank from a pool of water nearby and displayed no apparent ill effects. The sand here was cool and was not salty. Link removed his weapons and lay down on his bedroll heavily.
“I still think we should ride back to Kakariko to have your leg looked at,” Navi said.
“It’s too far. Best to go easy on it, take care of it myself, and let it heal itself.”
“Let me try to get some sleep.”
It was deep into the night when Link awoke to see the apparition. Rhiannon was bedded down in the sand and Navi was comfortably asleep in his hair. Link sat up, wincing when he moved his injured thigh. He did not get up, but he did not need to. The glowing creature came to him.
The little red-eyed, golden furred wolf pup looked up to him, panting and wagging its tail. Link scratched his head, remembering what the Hero of Twilight vision had told him. “The golden wolf’s whelp?” he asked.
The pup barked, stood on its hind feet and licked his cheek. Link suddenly found himself surrounded by trees. He looked around himself. There was grass and there was moss upon every rock. The environment was shady and misty. It was like the groves back home at the ranch, but much deeper and darker. Link had never seen this much lush plantlife. “So… this must be a forest,” he said to no one in particular.
“Yep!” came a cheerful voice. The young man spied the source of it in among the mist. It was a little boy with hair as light as corn silk doing jumps and back flips. The child stopped and looked straight at him. The boy looked, somehow, very brave. His bright blue eyes held something in them that was unbecoming to such a youthful face. “You wanna play?” he asked.
“I would,” Link began, touching his right thigh, “but I don’t think I can… I got hurt… Huh?” He found that his wound was not there. Furthermore, the bloody, cut pair of pants that he had not bothered to change out of before going to bed were clean and mended.
“You don’t dodge as well as you should,” the boy said. “I can teach you how to do back flips and stuff.”
“Well, it does look like fun.”
“Do what I do… like this!”
Link copied the boy. He found it difficult, at first, but he was fit enough. He found himself graduating from back flips to leaping between rocks on a wild game of tag with the boy through the forest. Link felt like he was back in the days when he was a little kid, playing with Malon after their daily lessons and chores were done. While he had always taken time to play with the children of the ranch when he could, he hadn’t felt this…frisky… in a long time. He stopped to rest on a mossy boulder and the little boy sat in the grass beside him. The child brought a small blue ocarina from a pocket in his green tunic and played a few strains of a lively song. Link tried to repeat it on his harmonica, but it didn’t quite work.
“That’s a song my best friend taught me,” the boy said. “It’s an ocarina song or a flute song. I don’t think it’s going to work on whatever you’ve got.”
Link smiled. “You were one of the Heroes, I take it.”
The boy stood up and gave Link a polite bow. “The Hero of Time at your service.”
“You!” Link exclaimed. “It… It really is an honor! More books have been written in Hyrule about you than…than… well anyone! But… why are you just a kid?”
“Just a kid?” The Hero of Time pouted, “Just a kid? Do I have to remind you again, mister, that I saved two worlds and in one of them I was stuck being ‘just a kid’ the entire time?”
“But you grew up, didn’t you? I’m supposed to be your descendant and all that.”
“Yes, I grew up,” the Hero of Time said, “And when I did, I put away childish things – including the desire to be very grown up. Some people grow too old for fairy tales only to grow into them again – and the few of us that are very, very lucky never grow out of them at all. You should never stop dreaming, you should never stop wondering and, most importantly, you should never stop playing and having fun.”
“Why do you appear to me like this if you did grow up, though?” Link wondered.
“Because, right now, you need the wisdom of a child,” the Hero of Time answered with a
grin. “I have appeared at other times to other Heroes in different forms. The Wolf needed me to be quite stern and dour. You need something else. Different memories for different lifetimes, I suppose.” Cheshire
“I’m glad,” Link said. “I had fun playing with you.”
“Keep those lessons to heart. I know you will, because you and I are the same soul, after all. I really wasn’t all that great. I was just a kid who was very good at dodging.”
“Navi said you were pretty humble.”
“Navi…” the boy got a gleam in his eyes. “Yes… that’s right, you found my fairy. Take good care of her, okay? She can be a bit of a nag but she’s a good fairy. You should listen to her.”
The forest began fading. The child waved. “Don’t forget to play,” he said before vanishing along with his ageless world.
Link awoke with a snort to find Navi curled up on his chest, rather than in his hair. Unfortunately, he noticed that the pain in his thigh had returned. “I guess a memory couldn’t heal me,” he groused.
“Hmm?” Navi asked, stretching and yawning. “Was just….monitoring… your vital signs.”
“I had a vision,” Link said. “The Hero of Time came to me. He told me to take care of you.”
“Good,” Navi said sleepily. She cuddled back into his shirt. She yawned again, never having come fully awake. “Had a crush on you for centuries…”
Link sighed and lay back down. He drifted down into a dreamless sleep.
It had been two days, or maybe three. Navi had failed to keep count. She had told him… she had told him that it would be best to go back to Kakariko, but he had not listened. Now she was lugging a heavy, dripping wet cloth from a stagnant pool over to his forehead for the umpteenth time. They had not left the remains of the lake and now Link was very sick. Navi may not have been a medical fairy, but she had learned many things from them. Link’s wound had become infected. Navi suspected a contaminant had been carried on the blade of the knife he had used to cut the bullet out of himself – and he hadn’t done the most clinical job of that. Contrary to what he had thought regarding the bullet, he’d probably made the wound worse by his rash action. He’d cut and marred himself in quite a nasty fashion.
Navi hovered under the lip of the crude little stick and blanket tent she had managed to construct to provide him shade. He moaned and swatted at his face as she dropped the cloth on his head with a splat. “Sssh,” she soothed, “Let’s wipe this sweat off you, make you feel cooler, okay?”
She drew the cloth over his face gently. “Navi,” he called, “Navi… why did you leave me?”
“I’m here now, Link, I’m here. I’m not gone.”
She knew that her charge wasn’t completely in reality, or at least not within the moment. As he tossed in his fitful sleep, he’d blurted out things that only she and the Hero of Time would know - things that had happened centuries ago. Navi had wanted him to get his past life memories back, but not in this manner. He’d howled like a wolf a few times and had called for someone name Ilia, too. His fever was very bad. She suspected that the infection in his wound was poisoning his blood. Navi was strong, but not strong enough to hoist him up into his saddle. She’d thought of leaving him, of flying back to Kakariko to get help…
“Don’t leave, Navi… Please don’t leave.”
He’d moan and break her heart. Visions kept flashing in her mind and she did not know where they were from. Some of them seemed to be from Link’s own mind, somehow connected to hers. Others had her bearing witness to a scene laid out before her. Whatever the perspective, it was always the same: Link – her original Link, the Hero of Time, lay upon a field in the cool of the night, surrounded by the bodies of dead men clad in armor and fallen monsters. His clothing was darkened with blood from many terrible wounds. He looked skyward and reached up to a shining star as he groaned deeply and painfully. “Navi?” Although the Hero of Time was a man in these visions, his voice sounded like the voice of a child - a pitiful, scared child who was calling for his mother. “Navi?” he pleaded, “Where are you, Navi? Why did you leave me? I need you now, Navi, I need you…”
And in the visions, he died.
“No! No, no!” Navi cried, swabbing the present Link’s face and neck as she was awash in these waking nightmares again. “Go away! Go away!”
“I only showed you the truth,” a dark voice hissed.
“Who are you?” Navi demanded, flitting about, ready to fight any danger to defend her sick young man.
A ghostly figure appeared in the tent. It crouched beside the moaning Link and ran a finger down his neck and chest seductively. The ghost was female and wore a strange headdress.
“You may call me the spirit of truth… or the spirit of Sorrow,” she said. “A spell and a servant like me can never truly be vanquished, though one Hero thought he did long ago.”
“Leave him alone!” Navi demanded. She flew into the specter only to fly through her, and then back again.
“I can do nothing to him now but kindle his sorrow anew – and yours. My name is Veran.”
“Your voice… it’s familiar.”
“It should be. Do you remember this? ‘Link does not need you anymore, little fairy. There are other tasks for you. If you do not leave him now, he will never grow strong. It is best not to say goodbye, just leave and let him live the lonely life of a Hylian. It is the only way if you truly care about him.”
Navi gasped. “YOU! You told me to leave him!”
“Yes,” Veran said slowly with a wicked grin. “And you thought it was the voice of a holy creature. Do you know what he did after you left, hmm? He searched for you. He searched the far reaches of Hyrule for you – like some dog that had lost his master. He found himself all the way in Termina looking for you. He befriended another fairy, you know… for a time. His heart longed for you and became filled with delicious sorrow. He did live his life – disgustingly cozy – with children and pets and augh! It makes me sick just thinking about it. In the end, however, he died alone – on a battlefield, without comfort, calling in vain for his guardian fairy. His farmgirl wife couldn’t answer him, so he called for you… his Navi who would not come!”
“You lie!” Navi shouted.
Veran laughed darkly, a laugh of triumph. “The root of the name ‘Veran’ is ‘truth’ and that is all I’ve shown you.”
“Well,” Navi retorted, “Link has me now! Hey! Stop touching him like that!”
Veran was cradling his head in one spectral hand and running the other down the length of his body in a rather seductive manner. “He has wonderful musculature… I would possess this body if I did not think he was not long for this world – or this incarnation, excuse me.”
Veran suddenly vanished.
“That! That!” Navi fumed before she noticed a shadow over her. She whipped around, on the defensive. A person crouched over her and lifted the lip of the blanket-tent – a person both strange to her and familiar. “Don’t worry, little one,” they said, “I’ll take care of him now.”
“A Sheikah?” the fairy asked.
The figure nodded. “I knew he’d get into trouble,” the stranger groused.
The young woman – or young man – it was difficult for Navi to tell, wedged their arms beneath Link. He groaned and opened his eyes. “Hey,” he said groggily. “Who are you?”
“I am Sheik,” the person said. “Don’t be alarmed, but I’ve been tailing you. Do not worry, I am an ally. I am going to take you to a nicer place to heal.”
End Chapter 7.
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