Chapter 8: Lives to Give, Tears to Cry
Link was dimly aware of being in a horizontal position. He was also aware of a sunbeam that was pouring over his face, its warmth and light irritating him, and the feeling of something warm and soft brushing over the top of his right hand. His right leg throbbed dully. He opened his eyes. The wobbling blades of a ceiling fan spun lazily. The ceiling and this stupid fan looked familiar – the room he’d been staying in at the inn in Kakariko. He felt foggy, like when he was a child and had a very bad cold. No…not quite like that…something else. Yes, he knew this feeling and he hated it.
Link could feel warm drool at the corner of his mouth. He tried to suck it back into his mouth or swab it away with his tongue, but it rolled annoyingly down his cheek. What was brushing his hand? It felt good somehow, soothing, but what was it? The young warrior managed to raise his head, wriggling it up on his pillow. He caught a glimpse of his right hand, resting atop a white sheet that was drawn over his body. Over the top of his hand, rubbing it gently, was another hand – pale, bluish, and with strange markings trailing up the arm. Link’s gaze followed the arm until he saw, sitting next to his bed, a very strange woman. She was dressed in a dark maroon dress with frills of white lace at the neck and in black, laced-up boots. Her clothing was utterly ordinary, the clothing of any high-society woman in Hyrule… Everything else about her was downright strange. Her skin was pale and blue-tinged. Her hair was such a bright hue of orange-red that it might as well have been the sunset itself. Her neck was quite long and her eyes were sharp, slanted and exotic.
Link jumped. He scrambled up in his bed, wrenching his thigh painfully. “Who…who are you?” he demanded. The woman took her hand back and gave him a look of offense.
“Such fear is unbecoming one with the Triforce of Courage,” she said. “Am I too beautiful for you? Such thanks for watching over you.”
Link caught his breath and relaxed. “S-sorry,” he apologized groggily. “Just never seen anyone quite like you before.”
The woman laughed in a rather mocking way. “You forgot what a Twili looks like already? For shame.”
“A Twili…” Link said. “I’ve heard of you, definitely… just never seen one in person before. I’m sorry, Ma’am. For the record… you are very pretty. We’re in Kakariko, aren’t we?”
“Where else? Some woman named Sheik brought you here. It looks like you did something stupid.”
“Sheik…” Link sighed. “I remember them from the desert… thought they were a man…”
“Oh, no,” the strange woman replied. “I asked her the same question and she was very adamant… groused something about females being warriors, too before she dropped a smoke ball and vanished. She seemed like she was angry with you for some reason. In any case, she brought you here on your horse. That
woman put a poultice of desert plants and fairy wing dust on your wound. You’ve been out of it for just about two days. It was just my misfortune to be on the latest watch.” Adelaide
“Do you have something against me, Ma’am?”
The woman’s red eyes softened and looked incredibly sad for just a moment. “My name is Midna – that’s Queen Midna to you, of the Twilight Realm.”
“I had no idea,” Link said, bowing his head respectfully. “I am Link Ordona Jr.”
“I know who you are.”
“I’ve been out for two days? Just for that wound to my leg?”
“Well, it got infected very badly. That little bug of yours told us that you got shot and dug the bullet out with a knife – and basically butchered yourself doing it. Also,
and Princess Zelda saw it fit to sedate you heavily. They were worried you’d try to get up and resume your duties before properly healed – that, and in your fevered state you kept thrashing about… I was here to see it. You kept shouting something about a ‘thunderbird.” Adelaide
“Really…” Link said, scratching his itchy neck. He looked about the room and saw a little table at the foot of his bed. Upon it was a set of tiny dollhouse furniture, including a little writing desk with a tiny inkwell with a cuckoo pinfeather stuck in it and little squares of paper stacked upon it.
Midna saw him looking at the little setup. “The fairy wanted to take some research notes or something and she wanted to be close to you. One of the village children brought the dollhouse stuff for her. It’s rather cute, actually.”
“Where is Navi?” Link asked, “and Zelda?”
“Princess Zelda went to the town temple this morning to pray for you. She hasn’t been back since. Navi left an hour ago, said she needed to talk with her. I’ve been stuck on watch ever since. There’s been someone with you day and night.”
“That’s flattering, but was it necessary? I hate being a bother…”
“It probably wasn’t necessary, but you are the hope of this land now, are you not? It would be a shame for you to up and die from some infection before your tasks are done.”
“Are you here to answer the Princess’ letter? She told me she sent something to the Twilight Realm.”
“Yes,” Midna answered, “Moreover the spread of the desert which has dominated this world has spread into mine. I came to discuss things of political and magical importance with Princess Zelda. She has my support to secure her rightful place on Hyrule’s throne. In the meantime, she wants me to assist you in any way you might need me - at some point, but mostly, I am here to solidify our alliances. If need be, I can summon my armies with a flick of the wrist. For the meantime, we think more covert measures are needed. Either way, you are lucky to have beautiful Midna on your side. You’re awake and moving about some, it looks like you are on the mend.”
Midna smiled and despite the general manner she’d been displaying, it was a very sweet and genuine smile.
Link smiled back as he sat up taller in bed, bracing his back against the headboard. It was then that he noticed how lightly dressed he was. While his beloved hat was on one of the posts of the bed, the only clothing he wore was a short white nightgown. He took a look at his wounded thigh beneath the sheet and saw it bandaged up with cool, green patches of medicine soaking through the dressings. The bottom of his gown fell right to the middle of the thigh and he felt a breeze. He suddenly balled up the sheet in his hands and attempted to cover himself before the queen in his presence.
She laughed, a strange, lilting giggle that seemed to Link that it should belong to a creature smaller than herself. “Young warrior,” she said, “your sword is quite impressive and you should have no shame.”
This only made Link blush deeper. “Worldly, for a queen” he muttered.
Midna sighed very deeply and very sadly. “I am not quite as worldly as you think. Twili live for a very long time, by the standards of your world, but we are hard to fall in love. Most of us do it only once. Zelda tells me that you do not remember, but Navi tells me that some memories of lifetimes past have been coming back to you, sacred Hero.”
“I am sorry,” Link said. “Did I know you once? If so, I truly am sorry I do not remember. I’m sure when I encounter more magic that I’ll remember.”
To Link’s utter surprise, Midna reached out to him and cupped his left cheek. “Let me tell you a story,” she said, “Once, a very, very long time ago there was a little imp that fell in love with a wolf. It turns out that the imp was really a princess and the wolf was really a brave, strong Hylian. They traveled together and helped each other through many dangers. In the end, the princess had to leave him to take care of her people – she had to make a sacrifice because as much as she loved her wolf, she loved her people more.”
Midna took her hand away and looked into Link’s eyes. “And she still does. This is the first time I have been to the Light Realm in centuries. I am here because my kingdom – my people are in danger. I am here for them and nothing more.”
“I am sorry,” Link said, “I guess… seeing my face must bring you a lot of memories and a lot of pain.”
“Don’t be sorry. You cannot help who you are, or the cruel pattern set by your Goddesses. I was the one foolish enough to fall in love with a cursed swordsman.”
The grass had grown up around Old Kakariko in the time Link had been gone. It carpeted the east portion of the town, miraculously tall and lush. Water was now flowing down from the mountain where the
was located, forming a small creek into the town, filling its wells and small reservoir. It wasn’t a particularly impressive creek, or, at least it would not have impressed people living in the area long ago, but for the current dry country, it was quite a wonderful thing. Link had taken a bath in it, had wrapped up his rapidly mending wound in fresh bandages, had gotten himself fresh clothes and was lying in the sun-warmed grass. Zelda sat beside him. Bone Temple
Navi flit about using a long thorn from the mesquite tree that was growing by the temple as a mock-sword. She vanquished pretend enemies. Link laughed at her.
“Hey!” Navi countered, “I may be small, but my power is sufficient.”
Zelda’s fingers lightly brushed Link’s right ear. “Feeling better?” she asked.
“Quite a lot,” Link answered. “Say, why wasn’t I taken to the fairy spring?”
Navi answered for him. “My brothers and sisters are exhausted,” she said. “They need to recharge their energy after all the work they did on you and Zelda. You cannot ask too much of healing fairies or they will work themselves to death!”
The trio heard Midna somewhere in the town behind them, practicing various forms of Twili magic. Link could hear her two advisors applauding her. He thought he heard something made of stone crumble to dust, but he was too relaxed and lazy to raise his head and turn around.
“What is up with that Midna woman?” Link asked Zelda. “I don’t know how to even approach her. Whenever I talk with her, she gives me these looks… like she hates me or something… part of the time. The other part of the time, I catch her making moon eyes at me just like…what…you’re…doing…”
Zelda caught herself and turned away. Her cheeks felt hot. She looked down, at her lap. “She doesn’t hate you,” she said. “It is complicated.”
“She said she knew me in another life – the old ‘Twilight Princess’ legend, the Hero of Twilight...”
“That is true,” Zelda said. The princess swallowed hard and closed her eyes. “During that time, you and she fell in love, but you could not be together. She had to go back to her kingdom and, fearing problems that had previously arisen from our two worlds mixing, she severed the only known connection between the two at the time – this was before the Borderlands Portal opened.”
“She told me her people were long-lived. I never knew Twili lived so long…” Link mused.
“Time runs differently in their world than in ours,” Zelda replied. “Your heart moved on. I don’t think hers ever did.”
“Oh,” Link said. “Couldn’t she have come back after the Portal opened?”
“She did,” Zelda said, “But…”
“But what?” Link asked, sitting up.
Zelda grabbed his hand and whispered something.
She looked off, her eyes distant. “Lately, my memories have been strong. I have been having many visions. They have reopened old wounds.”
“Are you alright?”
“I will be. I think I will be.” Zelda said softly. She sighed deeply. “The fact of the matter is, Link, that … well, you’ve always died young. The people you love have a way of outliving you.”
Link gave her a shocked look.
“I… I shouldn’t have told you. I’m sorry.”
“Its okay, Zelda,” Link said. “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, for what it’s worth. And, if I have to, I’m not afraid.”
“To Midna, seeing you again is like seeing a ghost. I know how she feels.”
“Have I…” Link asked cautiously, “been in love with you during any of my other lifetimes?”
Zelda turned to him and smiled. “Yes. Many times. You and I weren’t together in every life, but we’ve been together.”
“Maybe you can tell me what you remember… if it is not too much for you. You know me, I love a good story.”
“Well,” Zelda began… The princess began weaving tales of adventures and of things that happened after them. She spoke of stately positions within the palace – of times when the laws regarding people of common birth did not allow even a Hero to become King, and times when those laws were forgotten. She spoke of pirate ships on forgotten seas and of beautiful children.
“That’s at least a hundred names,” Link said, regarding Zelda’s memories of her children and grandchildren. “How do you remember all that?”
“Wisdom, perhaps,” she said sagely.
“I am sorry for leaving you so soon… so…much.”
“Don’t be. You couldn’t help it.”
“Well, Midna called me a cursed swordsman.”
“I think she was referring to the reincarnation,” Zelda said, “and you’re a gunman as well as a swordsman now.”
“So maybe things will be different this time around.”
“I think so.”
“Say… how old have I gotten?”
“If the memories serve me well,” Zelda said, “The oldest you’ve been has been… thirty-five… mid-thirties, anyway. You were King, then, and largely retired from heroism. You helped me take care of the people and they loved you very much as well as me, and our three sons and two daughters. We really were the perfect Royal Family then.”
Link swallowed hard and ventured the question on his mind. “So, if I wasn’t doing anything dangerous on a daily basis by that time… what did me in?”
“The Great Plague,” Zelda said solemnly. “It was more powerful than any dark beast… more powerful than Ganondorf. If you recall the history lessons I hope your uncle taught you, you’ll recall that it killed a third of all Hyrule. It spared no one – not the young, not the strong… not even Heroes.”
Link looked down. Zelda was cupping and stroking his cheek. “When you were sick, you tried to hide it from
” She smiled softly. “You didn’t want to trouble me and you were hoping you’d beat it by sheer will until it became obvious and rendered you too weak to stand. You wanted to keep working, looking for a cure for the people. You treated the illness like a monster to be vanquished, but, in the end, nature is stronger than any of us. We were happy, though, for as long as we were together. I stayed healthy. None of our children got sick.” me.
“I am here now,” Link said. He leaned close to Zelda.
“Yes you are,” Zelda said dreamily. She leaned close to him, about to brush her soft lips against his chapped ones when a voice interrupted them.
“There is an old woman here to see you,” Midna said, standing over them.
“Oh?” Link asked, sitting back.
“Yes,” Midna responded. “I don’t know where she’s from, but she says her name is Sarah Willow.”
“It couldn’t be!” Link exclaimed, jumping to his feet and wincing at the sudden weight he put on his leg.
“Lovely Midna will lead the way.”
Zelda got to her feet and Navi rested atop Link’s hat. “Go easy on your leg there,” Zelda warned.
“I’m fine,” Link assured with a nod, walking briskly, but stiffly.
A figure in a tattered brown cloak stepped out from behind an old shed. A shock of green hair stuck out from the cloak. She hobbled toward the small group and pointed a bony finger toward Link.
“Have you come to believe in magic yet?” she asked.
Link laughed and nodded enthusiastically. “How’d you get all the way from Nabooru to here, old one?”
Sarah Willow took the cloak away from her face, which was wrinkled and pale, but carrying a beatific smile. “Link,” she said, “a fine, strong name – significant of connection. Everything must happen in its own time. The time for restoration is upon us.”
“Link, are you alright?” Zelda asked as the young man went shock still for a moment. His eyes blinked rapidly, as if he were caught in a dream.
Link looked at the aged face of Sarah Willow and saw a much younger face flash before him. One moment, he was staring at the face of a young girl, no more than ten, twelve or fourteen years of age at the most, her skin soft, her eyes and hair bright. The next moment, he was gazing at the face of a very old woman.
“He’s alright,” Navi assured. “I think he’s re-”
“SARIA!” Link exclaimed, grabbing the petite woman in hug. He spun her around. She choked and flailed. He set her down and apologized.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said, “but it’s you! It’s really you! I didn’t recognize you before, but… Saria!”
“You remember now,” the old woman said with a smile. “I take it some of whom you used to be has returned to you?”
“Uh huh,” Link said. “Not everything… not by a long shot, I’m sure, but somehow, and I don’t know how, I know who you are now… Kokiri….but…. Kokiri…never…aged. Saria…what happened to you?”
Midna and Navi exchanged looks.
Saria took Link by the hand and looked up at him. “The forest went away,’ she said forlornly. “Our lives were tied to it. Once the last of the great forests vanished, we could no longer remain. Some of us became a different species. I’m sure you’re heard of Koroks, right? They tried to re-plant forests on the mountaintops during the era of the
. Some of us just faded…along with our world. Those of us that survived grew up… and grew old. We aren’t the Eternal Children anymore.” Great Sea
Navi hovered close to her. “Ephemera is not with you.”
“My fairy,” Saria replied with a sad sigh. “She… Well, she fell sick when we had to take to wandering the desert. I buried her in a little flower garden in the town that bears my true name.” She looked up and smiled at Link and Navi. “I am glad Link and you found each other again. It is a wonderful thing.”
“Do you want to come inside out of the sun?” Link offered. “You must have traveled long to get here.”
“If it is alright, I’d like to visit the temple at the north of town and that big, lovely tree. First, I wish to speak with you, Link.”
Zelda and Midna walked off together to leave Link and Saria alone. Navi tucked herself under Link’s hat. Saria gave the young man a serious look. “Please,” she whispered, “you have to save us.”
“I’m going to put Zelda on the throne,” Link said with a nod, “and I’m going to set this country right.”
“You’re going to bring the forests back, too,” Saria said.
“I’ve been told that.”
“It’s true. Look at this town, Link – the water, the grass. You’ve already restored life to this place. You are… strongly connected to the powers of Farore, and even to nature itself. You already have part of what you need and what you lack you must find. Zelda’s Impa told me that she entrusted you with the Crystal of Flame – Din’s Fire.”
“Yeah,” Link said, holding up his right hand and issuing a little burst of flame from his palm that flickered out. “I’ve been using it to light campfires.”
“You lack the Crystal of Ice and the Crystal of Forest. Together, with your strong, beating heart, they will form the key to setting this land right. The Kokiri are scattered… if we can come together again, we would be able to give you the Crystal of Forest.”
“I don’t even know how to start a search for the Kokiri!” Link countered, “Up until I met you and recognized who you were, I thought the race extinct!”
Saria looked off toward the
of the Goddesses and to the big tree growing at its edge. “I did not know where to start, either, but I know where to end now. This is the place where we must be. If you can bring us here, you can save what is left of our people. I do not know where the rest of us are, but I’ve heard that one of us resides in the town of Mido… in fact, if I am not mistaken, he’s the mayor of the place – Duncan Mido… It is him - unless he’s decided to go the way of Hylians and mate and have descendants, or unless someone has just taken his name. He’s the only one of us remaining that I know of. I’ve searched for the others but I do not think it is possible for me to do so anymore. I am close to fading away. Link, please help!” Temple
“Of course! Of course!” Link replied. “Mido is north of here… I have to go north, anyway and find the Glass Waterfall and the
.” Link took the chains out from under his shirt to show Saria the Pendants of Courage and Wisdom. “I need one more of these, and then I can get the Master Sword. I’ll stop by Mido.” Painted Canyon
“I will wait for you, young man,” Saria said as she shuffled along to the
of the Goddesses.” Temple
Link rode Rhiannon through windblown sand, three sacred Pendants slapping against his chest. He rode into a broken forest of dry, dead trees and knew that he was going the right way.
He’d found the Glass Waterfall before he’d found the town of
He had entered through the tunnel behind it and had found himself at the ancient remains of Hyrule’s old capitol. Much of the old castle had remained, including the tallest tower. It had obviously had a twin at one point, but the second tower had been broken. Chipped seashells were everywhere. Link had entered into the main palace in his search for the Pendant of Power through the graveyard and had seen a monument with his name on it. Mido.
In the castle’s broken remains, he’d met roving gangs of pig-like creatures that Navi called moblins and other, much more formidable creatures that the fairy identified as lynels. Those beings were like centaurs in form, but had the heads of lions. Navi had told Link that they were best avoided, but if they’d found themselves in a confrontation with one, to try to sever the head or destroy both hearts.
“They have one heart in the horse-chest,” Navi had said, “and one in the human torso. If you just pierce one, they’ll keep coming at you. They’re very resilient. In fact, they aren’t monsters in the truest sense. They’re deities.”
“Deities?” Link had asked, crouched low against a stone pillar watching a small troop of the beasts, “You’re telling me those things are gods?”
“Sort of,” Navi had then replied. “They guard treasures and sacred things. They tend to follow whoever has the most power. They aren’t really good or evil.”
“If they aren’t evil, why should I kill them?”
“If they find you, will have to in order to survive, end of story.”
As stealthy as he had been, Link had found himself fighting lynels. He’d found his gun to be most effective on them. He remembered to make two shots – one to one heart, one to the other. He felt uneasy over it, as well. With their neutral status and humanlike looks, he felt almost like he was killing men, not monsters. There were only two people he wanted to kill – and that was for justice, because he had to, and to set things right. Link did not want innocents or ignorant “grunts” to be caught in the crossfire. He’d asked himself, as he fought, if he were really up to this whole business - as dispatching something that Navi had described as minor deities gave him some discomfort, no matter how vicious they were. They weren’t like undead creatures or common beasts. Something about them made him think twice as he pulled the trigger.
Then, there had been that one that spoke. He’d had a sleek gray-blue body and he had cornered Link in the remains of the market square. The creature’s sword was raised above Link’s head and one of its hooves hovered above his chest. Link had reacted quickly, firing several close shots into its belly. The lynel had moaned. Link had scrambled out of the way as its legs buckled and it fell to the ground. It had dropped its sword and had looked straight at him with eyes that almost glowed golden in the light of the setting sun.
The creature had growled at him and demanded, in perfect modern Hylian – the speech of humans: “Finish it.”
When Link had started backing away, the creature growled at him in a louder voice. “Finish it!”
Link had gripped his gun. He could have made a clean head-shot, but he hesitated. His opponent was no longer an immediate threat to his life. He had no idea if or how to help the lynel. “I can’t kill in cold blood,” he’d whispered to himself. He’d holstered his weapon and tried to approach the beast.
“Watch out!” Navi had yelped as the creature’s lion jaws lunged for his arm, narrowly missing. The lynel then looked heavenward, roared, and slumped over in death. A big group of lynels and moblins came from all corners, forcing Link to run and to fight. Never again was he sloppy.
When he’d reached the high tower of the palace, he’d fought a creature that Navi had called an aquamentus. Link had felt the animal an appropriate guardian for an old palace. Upon seeing it, he’d thought immediately of legends surrounding beasts called kirins, which were associated very strongly with royalty. In many stories, kirins had chosen kings. The aquamentus was a scaly, ugly, but strangely elegant creature that looked very much to Link like drawings of kirins – though it obviously had been corrupted.
In any case, he was now riding through the Drywood Waste with the Pendant of Power over his neck and a roll of aquamentus skin in one of his saddlebags. He’d planned to have it made into a new pair of boots.
Navi flew out of his hat. “The canyon’s just up ahead!”
The wind died down and Link rode slowly. “Alright… if I’m here and have the Pendants, what next?”
“Look!” Navi cried, hovering over something that looked like a gravestone. Link dismounted and took a look at it.
“I can’t read it,” he said. “That’s another language.”
“Ancient Hylian,” Navi explained. “It says ‘The power of the weak shall make the world strong.”
Link ran his finger along a little depression in the top of it. He took off the little red pearl around his neck and placed it there.
“There’s another one!” Navi exclaimed. Link walked briskly toward it, several paces away.
“Hmm.” Link said.
“The wisdom of fools frustrates the pride of the learned,” Navi read.
He slipped the blue Pendant off his neck and placed it upon this stone. He found the final stone without Navi’s help, but asked her to read it for him.
“The courage of cowards is an unexpected asset.”
Once Link had placed the last pearl, the ground began shaking. Rhiannon ran to the relative shelter of the grove of dry trees the group had just passed to. Link jumped and ran for the smooth stone of a canyon wall as beams of light shone all around him, shooting from the Pendants of Virtue toward one another as straight as bullets shot from a gun. One red beam shone, then one blue beam and one green beam, then more light, white and hot, shot out from the little pedestals until the light formed the outlines of Hyrule’s ubiquitous holy symbol.
A huge, triangular patch of ground lifted up out of the earth. Sheets of sand ran off it. The pearls in the pedestals cracked, as if their inner forms were hatching from eggs. The Pendants shone brightly, like finely-cut precious gems. As the sand ran off the platform, a small pedestal was revealed. Wedged firmly into it by the tip was a beautiful sword. The hilt was royal blue, almost purple, and looked like it had wings. The blade was clean and sharp. It seemed to glow with the light of a desert dawn. As Link gazed up in awe, a set of stairs formed upon the platform, shifting down to him. He stepped up to the holy weapon cautiously.
“It’s beautiful,” he said.
“Take it,” Navi encouraged. “It’s your sword. It has always been your sword.”
Link reached out with his left hand and grabbed the hilt. He slid the Master Sword out of its pedestal effortlessly and held it up. He felt power course through him, an indescribable strength. It was as if the sword and his soul were fusing into one. It felt like being reunited with an old friend. For a moment, he felt invincible. He swung the sword, flipped it in his hand and held it up again.
Yes, this was a real old friend.
A scabbard appeared beside the pedestal. Link took it, slid the sword inside, and girded it onto himself, over his father’s sword.
“I guess we’re heading to Mido now?”
“Yes, to Mido,” Link said.
End Chapter 8.
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