Link floated on his back in the pond. The pond was actually the opening of a large underground spring. He preferred to come here when he wanted to be alone. Link had discovered this place a few months prior while he was hiking through the Kokiri forest. It turned out that the Kokiri children were forbidden from entering this whole area, told that they would die if they did so. Rules, Link hated rules, especially ones made by Mido. But this was good. No one knew about this place, so no one would bother him here.
Link's hair waved in the water as if it were some kind of life form. After all the experiences he'd had earlier that year, he decided to change his image a little. The only thing he could think of was his hair. He decided to let it grow instead of cutting it every few weeks. Now it was just past his shoulders. He never thought hair could grow so fast. After it had gained some length, Link decided that he like the way he looked. It was something new, a small change in his life. Saria had recommended that he tie his hair in a ponytail, but Link decided not to. He just let the hair go where it wanted to. This place was so peaceful. The water was perfect, not too hot or too cold. No one could bother him here. Link floated for an eternity, not quite asleep, but not quite awake. He had been gone for hours, but he didn't care if people wondered where he was. He could stay here forever.
Then he hear a rustling in the forest nearby. Link floated upright and scanned the surrounding forest. It was probably just an animal. The rustling again. Link slowly floated towards the shore. Suddenly a small figure emerged from the dense woods and into the clearing near the pond. Link quickly propelled himself deeper into the pond and away from the shore. The figure walked to the shore and stared into Link's eyes; it was Saria. How did she find this place?
"So this is where you've been hiding," Saria said, scanning these new surroundings. The pond was fairly large, and surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe shaped cliff face. The shore of the pond was a small clearing, beyond which lay extremely dense foliage and vines. How did Saria manage to get here?
"Well, it was a great secret place I had once," Link muttered.
"What's that?" Saria yelled, she was too far away to hear what Link said.
"Nothing," he responded. "How did you get here? Were you following me?" he accused.
"Well…no. I just had a feeling that you might be here. You weren't in any of your other hiding places, so I came here." She sat on the ground and folded her legs.
"How did you find this place?" Link asked. "No one knows about this place. You remember the rules, you're not supposed to go out this far." He was starting to sound like Mido. Link shuddered at the thought.
"You're not the only one who breaks the rules, you know," said Saria. "I've been here before. But don't worry, no one else knows about it."
"How come you never told me about this place before?" Link asked. "We have our 'secret place' but that's not so secret. I just found this place a few months ago, why didn't you ever bother to tell me?"
Saria shrugged her shoulders. "You never asked," she said. Link scowled. "Why don't you come out of the water, it's almost supper time."
"Umm…" Link mumbled, blushing. He still floated in the water, only his head above the surface.
"Well, what's taking you so long?" Saria shouted. "Swim back over here."
"No…I'll stay here…in the water. Why don't you go back home? I'll meet you there later."
"Why? I thought we could walk home together. What are you stalling for?" asked Saria. She looked around and her eyes locked on a large, flat rock. She saw a small pile of clothes on the rock. They were Link's clothes, all of Link's clothes. "Oh…I see the problem," she said. She ran over to the rock and searched through the pile of clothes.
"No don't…" Link said but it was too late. Saria picked up a pair of white shorts and waved them around like a flag.
"Is this what you're looking for?" said Saria, giggling hysterically. Link's face turned red, he had never been so embarrassed. "Why don't you come and get them?" Saria teased. Link was going to get her for this.
"Please give those back," Link begged. He shouldn't have let his guard down like this. He thought that no one knew about this place, and he would have privacy. He remained fixed in the water, not moving any closer to the shore.
"Why would you need these shorts?" Saria asked sarcastically. "Aren't you wearing anything?" Link wished that he could just sink to the bottom of the pond and not have to ever come up. "You can't hide the naked truth," She taunted. "Don't feel like you've been stripped of your dignity. It looks like your plot has been exposed. I bet you can't bare to listen to me any longer." Saria giggled again. She was starting to get on Link's nerves. If she uttered one more pun, Link would go nuts. "Don't feel bad, it's not like you nude this would happen." She continued to taunt Link by waving his shorts in the air.
"You are so dead," said Link. "Why are you torturing me like this? What did I ever do to you?" Saria stuck out here tongue at him. "Give me my shorts back or I'll tell everyone that you wet the bed." Blackmail, it was his only choice now. Saria suddenly stopped, and stared blankly.
"How…how did you know about that?" she stuttered, mortified beyond belief. He wasn't supposed to know that. She never told anyone about that before, not even Link because she was so embarrassed. Besides she'd grown out of it. She hardly wet the bed at all anymore…except when she was nervous or scared.
"Ah-hah, now I see the tables have turned," Link said with an evil cackle.
"I…I don't know what you're talking about," said Saria, feigning ignorance.
"I know about your little secret," Link said, now the tormenter and not the tormented. "And I'll tell everyone unless you give me the shorts." Rather than tempt fate, Saria tossed Link's shorts into the water. He quickly fetched them and put them on, without ever exposing more than his head above the water. After that, he swam to the shore and stepped out of the pond. He smirked at Saria and walked over to the rock to fetch the rest of his clothes.
"That was mean," she said, frowning.
"That was mean?" Link said, in disbelief. "What about what you did to me? You took my clothes and teased me with them. You're the bad one here." Link began to put on the rest of his clothes.
"It was kind of funny," Saria snickered. "But for what it's worth, I'm sorry." She gave Link the puppy-dog-face.
"Well…I'm sorry too." Link shouldn't have been angry at Saria. She was just being playful. Link blamed himself for being so stupid as to take off all his clothes when he went swimming. When Link had finished dressing, he began to walk Saria back home.
"How did you know about my…problem?" Saria asked, trying to hide her reddened face. "I've never told anyone."
"Well…" Link mumbled, trying to annoy Saria further. "You told me yourself."
"When? I never told you! I never told anyone about it."
"You told me that time when you were sick and I took care of you, remember?" Saria didn't recall what he was talking about. She remembered the time she was sick, she had the flu really bad. She had a high fever for days and was almost delirious at times. "You were rambling about all sorts of things, and when you happened to say that you used to wet the bed, it caught my attention. I asked you about it, and you said that you used to do it a lot, but now it only happens rarely."
"How do you know that's true?" Saria said defensively. "I was delirious, that could've just been hallucinations."
"I know it's true because you did it." Saria's eyes widened. She didn't wet the bed when Link was taking care of her, did she? "It happened the night before you got better. It was the first good night's sleep you'd gotten in days. Before I went home, I heard Niva say 'uh-oh', and I asked what was wrong. And she told me that you just had an… 'accident' and that you still did it sometimes. She said not to say anything to you the next morning because you'd be too embarrassed."
"She told you that!" Saria yelled, glaring at the fairy hovering above her head. "When I woke up that morning I found out that I…you know…and you were gone and I thought you didn't know about it. How come you never told me that you knew?" Saria was angry that Link had kept a secret that he knew her secret.
"You never asked," Link said. Saria scowled and charged after him. Link ran through the forest with Saria chasing him. She was really annoyed now. She would tackle Link as soon as she caught up with him. They emerged form the deep forest and ran through the village towards Saria's house. Some of the children stared at Link and Saria, those two were always pestering each other. Link ran into Saria's house and sat on the chair. Saria quickly followed and saw Link sitting on the chair. Deciding not to beat him up as she originally planned, Saria plopped down onto her bed to try and catch her breath.
"You're so mean!" Saria said, still breathing heavily. "How could you know about my problem and not tell me?" Link shouldn't have told her that he knew. Now he would never hear the end of it. "Promise you won't tell anyone," she pleaded.
"Of course I promise, I would never tell anyone that." He quietly snickered at the look on Saria's face, she looked so pitiful. "Oh, cheer up. You know that nobody will ever find out our little secrets. No matter how annoying you are." Saria scowled and threw her pillow at Link. He saw the pillow and caught it before it could hit him. "Okay, I get the point. You said it was almost supper time before…well what're we having?"
"Is food the only thing you ever think about?" said Saria, shaking her head. Link nodded, rubbing his belly. "We're having seaweed stew! Mmmmm." Link made a disgusted face, and Saria giggled.
"Are you serious?" he said, starting to feel sick to his stomach. "I like your cooking, but…seaweed? I think I'll pass." Seaweed? He'd rather eat worms.
"I'm just kidding, silly. I'm not making seaweed for dinner, we're having something special. I'm making soup out of these mushrooms I picked earlier. Besides, what do you have against seaweed? What did it ever do to you?"
"I…uhh. Wait a minute, why are you being so defensive of seaweed? I think you've finally gone off your nut." Saria made a crazy laugh. "Oh, definitely," Link continued. "I think you've spent too much time in the Sun. You need to cool off." It had been a hot day, that's why Link went to the swimming hole in the first place. Maybe Saria had overexerted herself and got heat exhaustion. The summer heat could make anyone crazy.
"I'm fine," Saria reassured. "You should go change into some clean clothes, you're all dirty." Link looked at his dirt-smeared clothes and agreed. He did need to change. After all, he'd been wearing the same clothes for a week, and they were starting to smell. The hot weather had made Link even more lazy than he usually was. He wanted to wear his clothes as long as possible before he had to wash them. So far, he had made it five weeks without washing his clothes, a new record. Saria thought it was gross, but Link told her she wouldn't understand it because it was a guy thing.
"Okay, I'll go change," said Link, standing up and leaving. Saria dumped the basket of mushrooms she picked on the counter and began to chop them. She nibbled and ate a few more mushrooms as she prepared the soup.
Link had changed his clothes, and now he was brushing his hair. He looked in the mirror at his shoulder-length blonde hair. He liked his new look. He wanted to grow his hair as long as he could. Zelda thought it was cute and made him look like a rebel. Link sighed, everything was cute to her. He wished she would use a word other than "cute" to describe him. He put on his cap and left his house, heading for Saria's. When he entered her house, she wasn't cooking. He saw some partially chopped mushrooms on the counter, but Saria wasn't doing anything with them. In fact, she wasn't cooking at all. Saria was dancing and twirling around the house like some kind of ballerina.
"What in the world are you doing?" asked Link. Saria stopped and looked at him. She ran up to him and hugged him hard.
"Oh you're back!" she said, slightly slurred.
"Are you okay?" Link asked. Saria was definitely not herself right now. She was acting totally crazy.
"Oh, I'm fine!" she cheered, releasing Link from her bear hug. "I feel great!" She stepped back and looked at Link's clothes. "I thought you were going to change into clean clothes."
"What are you talking about? I did."
"No you didn't, silly. You're clothes are all covered with bugs," she giggled.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Saria nodded. She collapsed onto the floor and started giggling uncontrollably. Link went up to her and tried to get her to come to her senses. "Saria, calm down." She stood up and stumbled to the counter. She grabbed a mushroom and presented it to Link.
"You should try these," she said. "They're really yummy." Link grabbed the mushroom from her and took a close look at it. He immediately grabbed the basket and shoved all the mushrooms into it.
"You've been eating these?" Link said, horrified. "These are poisonous! What did I tell you about these mushrooms? Remember the time I ate one of these? I felt like I was gonna die!"
"That was fun," Saria said, falling into another fit of giggling.
"How many did you eat?" he asked, gently shaking Saria to get her attention.
"Oh maybe a few…three or four. Why are you so worried? Come on, have one!" she giggled again.
"You ate four mushrooms?" Saria smiled. "When? How long ago?"
"While you were changing," she replied. She stopped giggling, grabbed her stomach, and groaned. "Oh…I don't feel so good. I think those mushrooms were bad. I think I'm gonna be sick." Link tried to get her to sit down. She winced in pain as cramps ravaged her digestive system. Saria coughed and moaned about feeling sick. Then, without warning, she started retching. She vomited violently, all over herself and Link. After regurgitating most of her stomach contents she looked at Link. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, almost crying.
Link helped her stand up to take her outside. Before they reached the door, she doubled over and vomited again. This time she completely emptied her stomach. Link saw the undigested pieces of mushroom on the floor and almost puked at the sight of Saria's stomach contents. He walked her to the stream so he could clean her off. She lay down on the ground and continued moaning.
Link ran back to he house and fetched a washcloth and a pair of her pajamas. Link helped Saria change out of her soiled dress and into her pajamas. He used the cloth to wipe off her face. Link took of his tunic which Saria had vomited on. He piled the dirty clothes next to the stream and went back to Saria, who was lying on the ground. She was half asleep. Link picked Saria up and carried her back to her house. He gently placed her onto the bed and pulled the covers over her. She rolled over and fell into a sound sleep. Now Link had to clean up. He scrubbed the floor and washed their soiled clothes. Link still couldn't believe that she'd eaten those poisonous mushrooms. He remembered when he had eaten them, and how sick they made him. She had a completely different reaction than he did. He had been delirious, but Saria just acted weird. It was like she was drunk. He would have to stay at her house tonight, to make sure she would be okay. Saria was strong, she would get over it.
The rich man who solicited Z's services tried to act normally for the next few days. He couldn't allow people to think that he was doing something. He had overslept this morning, and was running late for an important meeting. He rushed through the castle gates and into the castle. He hoped the king wouldn't be angry. He was headed for the weekly meeting that the king had with all of his top government staff: the military leaders, diplomats, and his cabinet of advisors. The rich man stopped at the door that led to the king's meeting room. The guard opened the door and let him pass.
"Ah, Duke Kaore, you're here," the king said cordially. "Have a seat."
"I apologize for my lateness, your majesty," mumbled Kaore. "I…"
"Don't worry about it," said the king. He never got angry over petty mistakes, he had more important things to worry about. Kaore bowed slightly and took his usual seat at the large, round conference table. "Let's get down to business," said the king, initiating the conference. "First, I need to know what's going on militarily. Let's start with the Navy, Admiral Nosu?" The admiral began speaking about various naval strategies that Kaore couldn't care less about right now. Kaore wasn't paying any attention to what was being said. He thought about the deal he made with Z yesterday. Kaore wished he wouldn't have to do this, but it was necessary. It was the only way he could get what he wanted.
"Kaore," a voice said. "Duke Kaore," said the king again. Startled, Kaore gathered his papers and smiled. "What's happening in your department?" Duke Kaore was one of the king's most trusted cabinet members. He was in charge of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic department.
"Oh, yes," Kaore said, trying to gather his thoughts. "There's not much happening right now. The Gerudos ratified the non-aggression treaty and want to schedule a banquet to celebrate. They want to do it sometime next month." He shuffled through his papers again. "Oh, and there's a small delegation due to arrive in Hyrule sometime this week; it's the ambassador from Sukinta."
"Sukinta?" asked the King. He wasn't familiar with that place.
"Yes, Sukinta. It's a small principality just south of Hyrule. Militarily speaking, they pose no threat. They want to open official diplomatic relations, probably for economic reasons. Their economy is declining and they need new trade routes." Kaore flipped the paper over. "The delegation will consist of Ambassador Zimm, a few guards, and probably some of his lackeys." Kaore told the king that that was all the information he had. The next person began to drone on about his cabinet department. Kaore's mind faded out again, as he thought about his plan, and how he was going to carry it out.
During the night, Link had washed his and Saria's clothes, and hung them out to dry. Then he had to scrub the floor and clean up the rest of the mess that Saria had made. At first he had planned to sleep at Saria's house, but it didn't turn out that way. Link didn't sleep at all. He was worried about Saria and decided to instead stay up all night and watch her. Now morning had come and he hadn't slept at all. He was so tired. He'd been up for more than twenty-four hours and he wanted to sleep. Saria will be okay, he thought. I can rest my eyes for just a minute. He rested his head on his hand and closed his eyes.
A rustling noise woke him up a few minutes later. He groggily looked at Saria's bed. She was finally moving; she slowly sat up and stretched her arms. She turned her head and saw the exhausted Link, half asleep in a chair. "Uhhhh…what happened?" she moaned.
"You were totally out of it last night," replied Link. Saria tried to remember the previous night, but her mind was a total blank. She couldn't remember a thing that happened yesterday.
"I don't feel good," she complained. "My stomach hurts, my head hurts, my neck hurts, my arms hurt, my…"
"I get the idea," Link interrupted. "Do you remember what happened last night?"
She searched her memories. "I have no idea," she replied. "I can't remember anything, everything is a blur."
"Well, you had a pretty interesting night. You ate some mushrooms, bad mushrooms. You were totally crazy. You were dancing around the house, you were giggling like crazy, you hallucinated, and you finally threw up all over me and yourself."
"Oh…I'm sorry," said Saria. "I didn't mean to…"
"It's okay," Link reassured. "It wasn't your fault. You ate those poisonous mushrooms and they made you go insane. Remember the time I ate the mushrooms? They made me hallucinate and I was sick for days…and I just ate one. I don't know how you even survived, let alone recovered in one night." Saria shrugged her shoulders. "What's the last thing you remember from yesterday?"
"Ummm…I think I was walking in the forest. Yes, I was Picking berries and I got some mushrooms, too. I thought the mushrooms were the good kind. I hadn't had mushrooms in a while, so I wanted to pick some. I remember eating one while I was picking them and…that's it. I can't remember anything else." That was a little scary to Saria. It made her uncomfortable to not be able to remember anything from last night. She was uneasy not having any recollection of what happened.
"So…do you remember about when you found me at the pond?" asked Link.
"Pond? What pond?" She had no idea what he was talking about. Link, however, secretly cheered inside.
"Oh, the pond," he mumbled. "You just found me when I went to the pond; it's no big deal," he said, pretending to shrug it off. This is great! He thought. She doesn't remember what happened at the pond! That means she doesn't know about my embarrassing moment and she doesn't know that I know her little secret. Except…Niva knows. That stupid fairy better not say anything.
"I hope I didn't cause too much trouble," Saria said, feeling embarrassed. Link shook his head. "It's so weird not being able to remember last night. I mean, I know I was really sick because I feel bad now. Of course, I probably don't want to remember what happened."
"You're right," Link said. "You were…" Link tried to think of a word. "You were out of your mind. It was almost kinda funny." Link smirked.
"You look tired," Saria said, concerned.
"Well, that 'cause I stayed up all night watching you to make sure you were all right."
"Oh that's so sweet," Saria said in a slightly teasing voice. "You should go home and sleep. I take it you washed my clothes for me?" Link nodded. "I'll go outside and get them. Now you go home and go to sleep, okay?"
"All right," Link said. Sleep, he could finally go to sleep. Link stood up to leave, and so did Saria. She smiled at him and walked outside to get her clothes from the line. Strangely, her fairy Niva stayed behind. Link glowered at the fairy.
"If you say a word to her about what happened at the pond…" Link threatened, "I'll hit you with a fly swatter." The fairy knew that Link wasn't serious, but she decided to obey him anyways. The fairy hovered for a moment, then flew back towards Saria. Link quickly walked back to his house. He could finally get some sleep. When he got inside, he didn't even bother to take any of his clothes off. He collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep instantly.
Link opened his eyes. He felt so much better now, so refreshed. It felt so good to have finally gotten some sleep. Judging by the level of light in his house, it must've been nearly dusk. Either that, or it was dawn. No, it couldn't have been dawn. He didn't sleep that long. Link got out from under the covers and stretched. Link wondered if he should bother getting up or just go back to sleep.
Then he heard a noise coming from just outside his door; someone was on his balcony. It was probably Saria. "Hello?" Link called. The person walked into his house. To Link's surprise, it wasn't Saria; it was Zelda. Why was she here? Zelda had the habit of turning up at the most unexpected times. "What're you doing here?" Link asked.
"What do you mean?" Zelda replied. "I was supposed to come here today, remember? We were supposed to spend the day together," she said in a nagging tone, putting her arms on her hips.
"We were?" Link scanned his memory. He had totally forgotten that he and Zelda had plans today. She was supposed to come over today and they were going to spend the day together. But that was before Saria got sick. Link was so tired from staying up all night that he slept through the day. "Oh yeah. I'm sorry," he apologized. "I was up all night watching Saria because she got sick 'cause she ate some bad mushrooms. And I stayed up to make sure that she didn't…"
"I know, I know," Zelda interrupted. "Saria told me."
"Why didn't you wake me up when you got here? I wouldn't have minded you…"
"You needed your sleep," she interrupted again. "You look so cute when you're sleeping. I didn't have the heart to wake you up." Zelda went over to the bed and sat down next to Link. "It's so nice how you took care of Saria. You stayed up all night because you wanted to make sure she would be all right; that's so sweet. You know, it's not that late. We could still do something."
"Like what?" Link asked. "You probably have to go home soon, and there's not much to do here at night. Did you have any ideas?"
"Actually, I do. You can come over to my house."
"Your house?" Link said. "To the castle?"
"Yeah," she replied. "You can spend the night there. After all, I stayed here for more than a week, and it's only fair that you should be able to come over to my house for a while. So do you want to come? Oh of course you do. Go on and get your stuff."
"Um, I really don't have any 'stuff'. I'll just bring some extra clothes." Link stood up and packed some extra clothes. He couldn't refuse Zelda's offer to go to the castle. He had been there before, but he had never spent the night. Link admired the way that Zelda was so persistent. She had offered to let Link stay at the castle, and got him ready to go before he could even respond. This quality in any other person would have annoyed Link, but in Zelda it was different. He didn't mind her making decisions for him. Besides, she always made the same decision that he would've made anyway. He packed a few days' worth of clothes into his backpack.
"Oh good, are you ready?" asked Zelda excitedly. "We should probably go before it gets dark." She grabbed Link's arm and pulled him towards the door. When they had both exited Link's house, they stood for a moment.
"Um…I should go to Saria's house and tell her where I'm going," said Link, starting to head towards Saria's house. Zelda stopped him by grabbing his arm again, and he turned his head to look at her.
"Don't worry," she said. "I already told her you were going to go to the castle."
"Huh? When?" he asked, slightly confused.
"While you were sleeping. I already planned everything. All you had to do was wake up." It figures. Zelda always seemed to have everything planned before she even asked Link. She always knew what Link's response would be before she even asked him a question. Zelda could read him like a book.
"Oh…okay," he mumbled. "But shouldn't I go check on her anyways? I should go see if she's okay. I want to make sure she's still not sick from those funny mushrooms." Zelda stopped him as he was walking again.
"You worry too much," she told him. "Saria's fine, I was with her the whole day. Besides, if she gets sick again, there are plenty of other people her who can take care of her. You don't always have to do everything yourself. You need to relax once in a while." Link knew that was true. He often felt like he was the only one who could help. He always went out of his way for everyone. He somehow felt obligated to give more than he needed to. This generosity often had less-than- satisfactory results for him, however. He usually neglected himself too much and didn't take time out to do things that he wanted.
"Yeah, you're right," Link said. Zelda was always right, she always knew what to say to him.
"Well, come on. Let's go," Zelda nagged. She tugged Link's arm and they walked to the exit of the Kokiri forest.
"Are we just going to walk to the castle?" Link asked. "I mean, I don't mind. It's not that far. But do you mind walking that far?"
"There you go again, always looking out for me. To answer your question, we are walking." They exited the forest to see a Secret Service guard standing outside the entrance to the forest.
"Your Highness," said the guard, bowing. He turned around and began to walk back towards the castle; Link and Zelda followed a little ways behind him.
"Daddy wouldn't let me walk over by myself," Zelda whispered to Link. "So he sent this guard to follow me over here. He's really nice, though. He's not a mean, boring person like the other guards."
"Was he standing out there waiting all day?" Link asked. Zelda nodded. "Doesn't he get bored doing nothing like that?" Link couldn't understand how a person could wait for hours like that. Link couldn't stand not doing anything. That guard's job would drive him crazy.
"Don't worry about him," Zelda said. "He doesn't mind not doing anything," she said loud enough for the guard to hear. "Isn't that right, Charles?"
"Of course, Your Highness," the guard responded with a smile.
"See," Zelda said. "He gets paid either way. And I'm sure he doesn't mind taking a time out every once in a while."
"So, what are we gonna do when we get to the castle?" Link asked.
"I don't know…Probably eat dinner first." Link's face brightened and he patted his stomach. Food, he hadn't eaten in almost two days. He was famished. The thought of eating all that rich food made Link's mouth water. "You like that, don't you?" Zelda teased. "Is your stomach the only thing you ever think about?" Link nodded his head. She thought it was cute to see him like this. It made him seem so innocent and child-like. Of course Link was a child, but he usually didn't act like one. He and Zelda were both very mature for their ages. And Link had had enough bad experiences to last him a lifetime. He thought of the food again. The food in the castle was so much more elaborate and tasteful than what he usually ate. They walked across the drawbridge. It would only be a few minutes until they were inside the castle.
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