Sleeping Dragons are best left alone
-A Goron proverb
Chapter 4: Into the Deep Darkness
Din opened her eyes, the last thing she remembered was being consumed by that horrible color. Now she found herself in a room, it appeared to be a guest room of some kind, or the room at an inn. Plain white walls, a soft, comfortable bed, a dresser, the only odd thing was that there were no windows. But that didn't mean much.
Yet, there was something about the room, something wrong. It wasn't anything Din could pin down, the whole room just seemed to give off an air of dysfunction. "They never said anything like this happening when I became an Oracle." Din shook her head, it was hard to believe that just a short while ago the Devine Goddess Din, whom she had been crafted from, had come to her and asked her to be the Goddess' Avatar. The odd thing was the Goddess had given her a choice, but how could she say no? Sure there had been some!pain involved, but she could stand it.
She stood up and walked to the door. Opening it, she found a hallway, also with no windows. Curiosity getting the better of her, she set out to explore.
The old woman walked down the street, whistling a cheerful tune. He cane thumped against the ground. Yet, the old woman noticed a man that she recognized, in fact she should have been surprised if he hadn't shown up. Grinning, she spoke in that tone of voice the elderly use to annoy the young. "Well Nameless! How're you doing? It's been what, six hundred years?"
The Nameless One, or the Happy Mask Salesman as he liked to be called, folded his arms. "You're ability to be childish never ceases to amaze me, though I must admit, the old woman look suits you."
"Awww, your no fun." The old woman said, and with that she began to glow. She changed shape, soon she became a young man, with green hair and silver eyes. He was wearing a plain green tunic and brown boots. "This better?"
The Mask Salesman sighed, "You look ridiculous, now take off the Kokiri outfit. It doesn't suit you."
"But you said that I'm childish!" He countered gleefully, becoming younger by the second. Soon he became a twelve year old, "Does it suit me now?" He asked, grinning.
The Mask Salesman shook his head, "Forget about it, I just want to know why you interfered with my task?"
He chuckled, "Really? Little old me? Messing with your work? Nameless, you wound me!" He said dramatically.
"I tire of your antics Thente!" The Mask Salesman snapped, "The Forest Sage was not supposed to go with the Key, explain why you went against the Paths!"
Thente put a finger on his chin, "Well, I think that the Paths of Destiny are more of!guidelines."
"Why you haven't been struck down for your blasphemous actions I'll never know." The Mask Salesman glared.
"Din likes me," Thente said casually, "Nayru and Farore like me too. They would like you as well if you took your head out of your ass."
"Very funny." The Mask Salesman deadpanned. "But you haven't answered my question, why did you interfere?"
"Would you believe me if I said that I think Saria's hot?" Thente grinned at the Mask Salesman's look, "Oh, you want a real reason, don't you Nameless?"
"I would love it if you could explain the reasoning behind your actions." The Mask Salesman said dryly.
"Well," Thente paused, "I've grown rather fond of Saria over the past few years. I just want her to be happy."
"What does a god of Death want with the Forest Sage, a bringer of Life?" The Mask Salesman asked.
"Without Life there can not be Death." Thente said calmly, "They are merely two sides of a coin."
"That still does not explain why you changed what was supposed to happen!" The Mask Salesman shouted.
"It's funny," Thente said, "You always act so holier-then-thou around the mortals, but when you find someone you can't manipulate you go nuts." He smirked, "Shadow scared you, and he scares you even more now that he seems to be trying to help."
"The Future can change if Nayru decides it does." The Mask Salesman said.
Thente rolled his eyes, "Is that your answer to everything? When are you going to realize that nothing is set in stone? When are you going to learn the not even the Three know everything?"
"How!dare you!" The Mask Salesman snarled, "I will ensure that you are punished for your blasphemies!"
"Whatever," Thente said, "But before you go off to wreak your eternal vengeance, can you do me a favor? As one god to another?"
"What is it?" The Mask Salesman asked, "As long as it isn't anything absurd or huge I might do it."
"Don't worry, it's very simple, I just want to know what the future would have been like if Shadow hadn't acted." Thente said, "I can not see the Future, but you can to an extent."
The Mask Salesman sighed, "Link would have never gone here, his adventures would be over by now. Eventually, he would grow up while Saria would remain the same. Finally, Link would leave the Lost Woods forever, and he would become a respected Knight."
"That's it?" Thente asked, "Tell me more, or is that all?"
The Mask Salesman sighed, "Very well, Saria would eventually become depressed, she would leave the forest searching for Link. She would die. Link would be crushed, and despite Zelda's best efforts, would become cold and distant for the rest of his life."
"And the others? Malon? Kasuto? They, who had no other role in 'destiny' before this?"
The Mask Salesman groaned," Malon would have lived a normal life, marring a man from Catillia. She and Link would become distant eventually, not contacting each other for years at a time. Kasuto would throw herself into work, becoming Nabooru's second in command, a feared warrior, a respected scholar, and a powerful Seer. She would reject everyone, and die alone in an accident."
Thente nodded, "Tell me, which is better? The Future that can never be? Or the Present that now exists?"
"The first one!" The Mask Salesman shouted, "The world was secure, the Paths straight, and there was just one clear future instead of a thousand fuzzy ones!"
"I did not ask about your workload Nameless." Thente said, "I asked which was better, are they not all happier now? You, who some call the 'Happy Mask Salesman' surely would care about true happiness?"
The Mask Salesman looked balked, "Of course I do!but nothing must come before duty!"
"And that is where we differ, Nameless. Suffering, even suffering for the greater good, is still pain. The 'happiness' you offer is little more then a mask of false joy. Shadow desired there to be no more suffering. Sure, his methods were wrong, but his intentions were pure, remember that." Thente turned and began to leave.
"Wait!" The Mask Salesman called, "What does the God of Death know of ending suffering?"
Thente turned around briefly, "Death is often the final end to suffering." After saying this, he returned to the form of an old woman. She began walking down the street, whistling a cheerful tune.
"I don't believe this." Kalo muttered, flying around the shores, "You're absolutely sure that whatever we need is somewhere in a freaking lake?"
Link nodded, "Moving closer to the water causes it to react. But I really don't see the big deal. Why don't we just use Farore's Wind?
"Link, do you know nothing about magic?" Saria rolled her eyes, "Farore's wind only works if we can form a mental picture of our destination, we can't very well do that now, because we don't know what our destination looks like."
"Sorry for asking!" Link said under his breath.
"Alight, the water's to cold to swim in." Saria said, "So that's out!how are we supposed to get over there?"
Link frowned, "If only the Freak had given me time to grab my equipment! You could have used the Hover Boots while I used the Zora Mask. But no, he had to stick me here with no damn gear whatsoever!" Link sighed, "And to think, I swore after Termnia to never leave my gear at home again. For crying out loud, I have three hookshots! If I get another one here I'm going to scream!"
"Well, things could be worse." Saria said, "All we have to do is find our way around this small obstacle!then we have it!"
"Oh Saria!" Link turned and looked at her straight in the eyes, "You are a wonderful optimist!"
Saria blushed slightly, "Thanks." she smiled coyly.
"!but you need to enter the real world." Link finished his statement, bad move, to tell the truth.
"Ow!" Link rubbed his cheek, "Woman! Why did you slap me!"
"You deserved it, that's all." Saria stuck out her tongue at Link,
"Alright children, quiet!" Kalo shouted, "Save it for later."
"Whatever!" Link muttered, "I just wish there was a way to cross this dumb lake!"
The Noble Sword flashed, Link found himself holding it up against his will. "What the hell?" For a moment the whole weapon became a blinding pillar of red light. But it quickly faded, "Alright, what was that about?" Link asked.
The earth began to rumble, a minor earthquake? Then, a pathway rose out of the water. It wasn't a brick pathway or anything like that. No, a section the lakebed had risen out of the water to make a road. A few fish flopped off the newly made land bridge. Link, Saria, and Kalo stared at the sight.
"Damn it," Link muttered, "Why can't we just once tell when there's more to something?"
"Looks like your wish was granted." Saria said dryly.
"Whoa!" Maple struggled to keep herself in the air. It wasn't easy when the wind was trying to blow you away like a leaf. "Come on!stupid turbulence!" She pulled on the handle of her broom, tuying to straighten her path. "That's it, I'm buying one of those flying saucers, who gives a crap about the classic look? Brooms are to damn hard!"
A very strong wind blew her down to the ground, where she crashed into a wall. "I hate wind!" Maple muttered as she pulled herself up. "I think I'll wait for the wind to die down!" Maple rubbed her sore head.
"The winds picking up," Saria commented as they walked across the rock path "You think another snowstorm is coming?"
Link shook his head, "There isn't a cloud in the sky, it's probably just wind."
Kalo frowned, "Something about the weather seems off, don't you find it odd how it snowed like that now, in early fall?"
Saria shrugged, "Weather's often unpredictable Kalo, you know that."
"I know that." Kalo said, "But something feels wrong about it, I just can't put my finger on it!"
"You're just being paranoid." Link said, "Don't worry about it."
Kalo flew down close to the ground, "I just can't help it!"
"We're here!" Saria announced, true enough, they had reached a small island. It was only about the size of Link's house, and the only thing on it was a dead tree.
"Well, that was anti-climatic." Kalo said, "I was expecting!something."
"There's something here alright." Link continued to follow the signal the Noble Sword was putting out, it lead to the dead tree. Moving around it, he saw that the tree had a hole in it, large enough for a grown Hylian to go through. It lead to some kind of underground tunnel. "Yup, there's something here alright!"
"Well, dang, this will be interesting." Saria commented, "Do we go into the pit?"
"Guess so." Kalo answered, "It's either that or whatever we're looking for is in the branches."
Link chuckled, "If only it were that easy." He cleared away the roots that covered the entrance, "Come on, into the deep darkness we go."
Why is Link here? She thought, tears flowing freely. Why did he have to come, and remind me of my failure, my cowardice.
She didn't know how long she moved through the trees. But she finally stopped from exhaustion. Looking around, she saw that the only person around was a youth in a black cloak. He was walking slowly forward, in a slight stupor. The youth noticed her, looking up, she could see his red eyes seeming to glow from under the shadow produced by his hood. For a long moment he stood there, staring at her.
She began to feel uncomfortable under his scrutiny. She began to move away, anything to keep out of his piercing gaze. Finally, the youth spoke in a cultured, quietly intelligent voice.
"Funny, how fate draws in the old players." He said, "What role will you play in the game?"
She stared at the youth, his words confusing her. "What do you mean by that?" she asked.
"What brings you here?" He asked, "Are you here willingly, or did you have no choice?"
"Why do you care?" She growled, feeling angry at the impudence of this child.
A sad smile formed upon the youths face, "What reason is needed to care? Why should one use logic when dealing in the realm of emotion? You abandoned the one whom cared for you more then any other, what reason was there for that?"
She nearly fell out of the air in shock, "How!what makes you!"
He laughed. "They say that only fools believe themselves wise. We are alike in that way. We believed ourselves wise, and proved to be the greatest fools of all."
"My exile is none of your concern!" She shouted, beginning to fear the youth's words.
"Self imposed, I assume?" He asked, "Punishing yourself does wonders to your health, you know that?" She opened her mouth to speak, but the youth cut her off, "Are you beyond forgiveness? Have you committed a sin so vile that one would be cast into Hell for just thinking about doing it?" He continued to stare at her with those haunted red eyes.
"I don't have to answer to you!" She cried, feeling more tears flowing down her cheeks, "What makes you want to torment me? How do you know me?"
The youth chuckled, "What does it matter? I know you, I know him. Can you explain your actions?"
"I!I thought I was finished! My mission was complete, so I left! Five thousand years of that kind of life are not easily ignored! I never expected to grow attached, and now I can't bear to show my face!"
"You fear rejection, just like I do." He said, "Yet unlike you, I at least am trying. I lack the courage to come back, but I am trying to help."
"It's not so easy!" She whispered.
"No, it's not." He said, "But give it a try. If you do, perhaps our paths will cross again, Navi."
Her eyes widened, "You know my name!how?"
He shook his head, "Don't ask, I won't tell you." The cloaked youth walked past her. "Good luck." he said softly before leaving her presence.
Navi shuddered, "Is he right!?"
"Well, this can't be human-made." Link said, looking at the walls of the tunnel. It seemed to be made from massive cuts through the earth, not even Gorons dug quite like this.
"There's a feeling of death in the air." Saria said, "Pain and sorrow is what fills this cavern."
Kalo nodded, "This chamber can't have been used for anything good."
Link shrugged, "It doesn't matter, there's nothing in here now." Link felt rather lucky about that, normally the places were filled to the brim with monsters.
Saria shook her head, "Still, I don't like being here." She turned a corner, "Oh Nayru!" Saria shrieked.
"What?" Link ran over to Saria, and saw what she saw, "By the Three Goddesses!"
The whole of the tunnel was filled with bones and chains. As far as they could see, there were bleached white bones of all kinds, some of them crushed. The chains were rusty and attached to the walls, clearly meant to keep the people who had been killed in place. Leaving the bones and nothing else.
"So much pointless death!" Saria whispered, "Can you hear their pain? They were killed mercilessly, now their souls cry out for release."
Link shook his head in disgust, "People can be so!stupid."
Saria dropped down to her knees, "Great Goddesses, mothers of creation. I ask of thee," She prayed, "Bring these lost souls peace, allow them to be troubled no more. Let them gain the rest they so deserve. Amen."
There was silence.
"They thank you, Saria." Kalo said quietly, "The feeling of despair is vanishing."
Link shook his head, "Dang!" When was the last time he had prayed? "You really are a better person then me, Saria."
"Link, don't say that!" Saria shouted, "You're a good person, please don't forget that."
"Whatever." Link muttered, "Come on, let's continue." Moving past the bones, they continued to move deeper underground."
"Hey, I bet we're underneath the lake by now!" Kalo tried to lighten the mood.
Onox smiled, his beautiful palace was perfect. There was no way that anything could slip in his windowless castle. He would be alone with her for the rest of his days. The only contact to the outside world still accessible was the single mirror on the wall behind him. He turned to the mirror, "Show me my Beloved Din!" he asked, smiling madly as the image of the perfect woman appeared. "So she's exploring her new home? Wonderful! Bring her here!" He giggled like a child, "This is going to be perfect!"
Normally, the further one went into a cave or tunnel, the dirtier and more uncared for it became. Yet for this place, the cavern seemed to be becoming clearer as Link, Saria and Kalo plunged deeper. With Link's Light Orb spell providing the light they need, the three cut through the darkness.
"Hey Makan," Saria called, "Do you have any idea what the place could be?"
The former Forest Sage materialized over them, looking around, he shrugged. "I'm as baffled as you Miss Saria. It could have once been a prison, where those that were disliked where dealt with. It could have been a chamber where sacrifices to false gods where made. There are many reasons for such a horrible place to exist, none of them good."
"Yeah, and this tunnel disturbs me, it's clearly dug. But there's no way human hands could have done it." Link said.
"There were once machines that would be capable of such a feat." Makan said, "But it seems unlikely that one was brought to this tiny island."
"Maybe some kind of animal dug it!" Saria whispered, "But any such animal is probably dead by now!right?"
Link shrugged, "You never know." They turned another corner, there were some piles crates in front of them. Preserved by the cool, dry air.
"What's in those?" Kalo asked, flying over the crates, "These things feel centuries old." He said, "Come on, open one!"
Link examined a crate, "Well, why not?" Taking out the Noble Sword, he pried one of the crates that stood alone open. Inside were seeds of some kind. Thousands of red seeds, each one about the size of a peach pit, they were bright red and were shaped strangely, looking like little fireballs.
"What are they?" Saria picked one up, "They feel warm."
"Well what do you know, Ember Seeds!" Makan said, "These little things are useful. Miss Saria, throw the seed your holding against the wall."
Saria complied, tossing the Ember Seed against the stone wall. There was a flash of light and the seed burst into flames. The fire burned for about a minute before dieing out. "Neat!" Saria said, quickly scooping up seeds into her sack. "These could prove useful!"
Link shrugged, "What are they exactly?"
Makan smirked, "Allow me to explain. Ember Seeds come from a plant called the Fire Tree. They produce a very spicy fruit, spiciest thing I ever ate. Anyway, the seeds of a Fire Tree are called Ember Seeds, this is because the nutrients that the seed uses to sprout have magical properties. Pretty explosive when exposed to air."
"So, like a smaller version of the Bomb Flower?" Link asked dryly.
"Oh, erm, yeah!" Makan grinned sheepishly.
Saria has scooped up a bunch of Ember Seeds, "Well, let's go, the sword's still telling us to go forward, right?"
Link examined the Noble Sword, "Probably."
One thing was certain, things were getting more convoluted by the minute. Shadow was heading back to Mabe Village on foot, mainly thinking about what to do once he met Link again. "I think I'll punch him in the face first." That would make him feel better. Then he could work on apologizing.
The only question was what to do?
"I need more information." Shadow needed to gather intelligence. He knew that wherever Onox was, it was likely protected to well for him to enter. So, that left finding out how to undo the damage he had done. So, Shadow returned to the Void, it didn't matter if he had to scour the whole of Holodrum, if not Torre, if not the whole world! He would find Onox's weakness.
And when Shadow wanted to find something, he found it.
Maple looked up at the sky, "Goddesses!it's getting hot!" This weather was just too screwed up. At first it was a normal autumn day, then it had started to snow, and now it was getting as hot as a summer day!
"At least the wind's stopped." Maple kicked up her broom, again, and took to the air. She needed to get to Mabe Village.
"I hope Shady's alright!" She found herself worrying about the strange boy. "Wait, why the hell do I care? The guy can take care of himself!I mean, he's clearly strong. Gah! Stop it Maple Ralom!"
"Whoa!" Link's jaw was hanging three feet down.
"By Din!." Kalo couldn't stop staring.
"It's so pretty!" Saria gaped at it.
"Meh, it's not that impressive." Makan said, only to be whacked upside the head by Saria.
They had reached the end of the cavern. At the very bottom, by Kalo's estimates six hundred feet underground, was the largest pile of treasure Link, Saria, or Kalo had ever seen. The whole room was a high as Hyrule Castle is tall, and as large as the Great Deku Tree's meadow. The treasure covered half the floor and extended to the ceiling.
Needless to say, the sheer amount overwhelmed them.
"If we took home one percent of this," Link said, "We'd be set for life."
"Hate to see the taxes." Makan muttered.
Saria ignored him, "I've never seen so much gold before!"
Link grinned, "It's about damn time this Hero of Time business pays off! Thank you Din! Thank you Nayru! Thank you Farore!" Link laughed, "It's to bad there's no way any other pits we visit can be this nice!"
"There's something wrong about all this!" Makan examined the treasure, "Why would the wealth of an entire nation be stored under this?"
Saria and Link ran over to the pile, they both felt giddy, who wouldn't after finding a treasure this great?
"Wait a minute!" It hit Makan, "Wait! Don't touch anything!"
"Link!" Saria shouted, "Look at this!" She held up an emerald bracelet, lined with silver around the edges. "Do you think it'll look good on me?"
Link nodded, "It would look great on you!"
A rumbling sound was heard.
"Too late!" Makan sighed in defeat.
"Um, what was that?" Link asked.
"You two just couldn't stop acting like giddy treasure hunters, could you?" Makan snapped, "I hope you're happy, we've stumbled upon a dragon's horde!"
"A!dragon's!horde?" Kalo asked, "That does not sound good."
"Odds are those bones were people sacrificed to the dragon, and those Ember Seeds might have been another attempt to appease it." Makan said, "Not that it did any good, dragons are carnivores."
Link paused, "Well, crap."
A section of the treasure was starting to rise.
"What do we do?" Saria asked.
"Pray it's a Greater Dragon." Makan said, "If it is, then we can reason with it."
With a mighty roar, the dragon burst out from it's pile of treasure. I was huge, half the height of the room, it was about as wide as two houses. Thick green scales covered it's whole body, which were bulging with muscles. It's massive, pointed head had a mouth filled with sharp teeth. A single black horn sprouted out of it's forehead. It looked down at them with it's reptilian eyes are roared, causing the earth to shake.
"Well, we run!" Makan shouted, "It's a Aquamentus, a Lesser Dragon! Nothing more then a wild animal, we need to get out of here!"
Needless to say, they took Makan's advice.
"Alright, this is not on my list of fun things to do!" Kalo shouted.
"Wait, why are we running?" Saria asked, "Link, you've killed dragons before, right?"
"You have?" Makan was stunned.
"Well, one, it's name was Volvagia." Link muttered.
"You killed the demonic Greater Dragon Volvagia?" Makan shouted, "We may have a chance!"
"One problem!" Link said, as they sped up when the Aquamentus' roars grew louder. "I was in an adults body, and I had the Megaton Hammer, I currently lack both."
"We're screwed." Makan said dryly, "I'll be stuck down here, made part of that beasts horde, while your scorched bones decorate the cavern."
Saria looked down at her bag, "I have an idea. Link, when I say now, we're to use a modified Farore's Wind to make us move really fast."
"What?" Link stared at her.
"Just do it!" Saria shouted, "Kalo, link yourself to my Mana."
"Ok!" Kalo said, performing the magic necessary.
"Beautiful Farore, bringer of Life. I ask of thee, grant us the power to move beyond Space! Farore's Wind!" Link and Saria shouted at the same time. A green light formed over both of them, and the moved at such a speed that the Aquamentus was left far behind.
"Stop!" Saria ordered, and they stopped in front of the crates, "Alright Link, try using the Noble Sword to make us a place to hide."
"What? Miss Saria, you've confused me to." Makan scratched his head.
"No, think about it!" Saria said excitedly, "We're saving the Oracle of Earth. The Noble sword glows red, the color of Din, the Goddess of Earth. It led us to the Maku Tree, the Earth Guardian. Then, to bring us here, it caused the Earth to rise up! I'm willing to bet that the Noble Sword can control the Earth!"
Link shrugged, "Well, let's give it a shot." He held up the red blade, "Noble Sword, please give us a place to hide from Aquamentus."
The Noble Sword flashed red, before that pillar of light formed from it again. Then, a piece of the tunnel wall pulled open. It made a very nice hiding spot, a short distance behind the crates of Ember Seeds. The four quickly ducked into the small indent.
"Now we wait!" Saria whispered, "Link, I want you to charge your sword with the most powerful magic you have. I'll do the same, then we'll knock the Aquamentus into the Ember Seeds!" Saria grinned, "Is it a great plan or what?"
"Saria!" Kalo frowned, "You've gone insane, haven't you?"
"It's a one-shot plan, it might not work!" Makan said.
"I like it." Link grinned, "Why I didn't think of it, I'll never know."
The ground shook as the Aquamentus approached. The tunnel was to narrow to turn around in, so all the beast could to was move forward, it's horn scraping against the ceiling. It moved past them, stopping about five feet in front of them. Right where it's path was blocked by the Ember Seeds.
"Now!" Saria drew the Kokiri Sword and jumped out, "The forces of power are needed," the blade began to glow white, "bring us what we desire, send this sinner to the Blessed Void! Holy Oblivion!" Saria slammed the blade into the dragons back.
Link charged up a Light Blade, jumping up into the air, he did the same as Saria.
With a flare of Mana, the Aquamentus roared in rage as it was knocked to the ground.
On the crates of Ember Seeds.
"Nayru's Love!" Saria pulled the protective barrier over them.
The whole cavern shook, and they were all blown back by the force of thousands of Ember Seeds exploding at the same time.
The bright light cleared, and the dragon was covered in flames The Aquamentus struggled to get up, but it's front legs were gone. Letting out a final roar of anger at the humans who had beaten it, it died.
"Damn it." Link said, "Do we always have to fight a huge monster?"
"Shut up Link, we won." Saria bopped him on the head.
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