Chapter 7: The Past
Both the Links’ eyes lit up upon entering the Forest Haven. Link of Outset had told his sister much of this place. Aryll loved it. She played tag with the Koroks and chased the resident fireflies.
Rinku, for his part, was overwhelmed. Link lost track of how long the young man stayed on that giant lily-pad, raised into the air, talking with the Great Deku Tree in private conversation.
“Your green clothes do not deceive me?” the Tree asked, “You are the Hero of Time?”
“The one and only,” Rinku answered.
“Link, my precious boy… it has been far too long. You are merely a Hylian. You should have gone the way of spirits by now.”
“You speak a little differently than you did when I was younger,” Link observed. “No more ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and ‘arts.’ You look different, too.”
“I have changed with the Age. The last I saw you, I had just been reborn as a sprout and I spoke with you casually then. My old manner was already dying when I died. You have changed very little. Tell me, child, do I speak with a ghost?”
“No,” the Hero of Time answered, shaking his blond head. “I…uh… time traveled. I did it without meaning to. I have been displaced. I did not come here just to catch up. I was told that you are the Guardian of the Past. I need your power to help me get home.”
“It is done, my power is with you” the Great Deku Tree said calmly. “It must be troubling to you to have been displaced. I can sense the sadness in your brave heart. All the same, it does my spirit glad to see you again. Not long ago, I was fading, but the Hero of Winds helped my seedlings to grow. If I feel myself fading once more, I can go in peace, for I have not only his friendship, I have seen my lost son again.”
Link of Time just stared, his eyes glistening. “Has this Age… been good to you?” he asked.
“Yes,” the Tree answered. “My forest has been reduced to this little island haven, but I have had the love of my Koroks and I have seen the rise of two Sages… Three to count the one you once knew.”
“Saria…” Link whispered, bowing his head. The young man gritted his teeth in bitterness. Just as those he had slain in his first adventure remained slain in this timeline, so, too had the people he’d failed to save.
To be true, he never was really sure what had happened to the five Sages he’d awakened. He never knew if they’d merely awakened to their elemental powers – their calling by the goddesses, or if they’d been killed and awakened only in spirit. The Hero of Time knew that even dead Sages held some power – although living ones were far more potent in their abilities. Link suspected, however, that Darunia, Ruto, Impa, Nabooru and…. Saria – his best friend in the whole world – had died to come into their powers. After all, when he awakened from his “nap” to meet Rauru, the old man had said something about lacking a body.
Each Sage he’d awakened had gone in before him to the
, impatient to wait for him or wishing to assist his quest. Koume and Kotake had forced him to fight a brainwashed Nabooru himself and they took her after that. Thinking that the Sage was a monster at the time (covered head to toe in armor that he’d stabbed through the gaps), he had hurt her very badly. The witches may have murdered her in her weakened state or may have even left her to die of wounds he’d inflicted. Link had never ascertained the truth. The larger part of him did not want to know. Temples
Darunia had gone in before him to fight Volvagia. Link couldn’t imagine any outcome other than the Goron leader being eaten. The boy still had nightmares about Morpha and Bongo-Bongo. His bones ached thinking of Morpha, - a remembrance of being thrown against the Water Temple’s walls, wondering at the time if the demonic amoeba was trying to soften him up for digestion as well as kill him. He’d seen some bloody bones in the poison pool in Bongo-Bongo’s lair. He’d always wondered if they’d been poor Impa’s.
Saria had said goodbye to him after he’d broken the
’s curse. It was a goodbye that had struck him as similar to the one she’d said to him when he’d first left the forest – and Kokiri children did not leave the forest. He’d taken his life in his hands when he’d decided to trust the Great Deku Tree’s words and leave. Saria as a Sage had told him that she was unable to live in the same world as him anymore. Forest Temple
The Sages had aided him and enabled him to defeat Ganondorf, but their aid had a decidedly spiritual bent to it. Link was sure that even as he had awakened them that he’d not saved their lives.
“What troubles you?” the Great Deku Tree asked, snapping the Hero out of his thoughts.
“Oh, nothing,” Link lied, “I was just lost in nostalgia.”
The Tree lowered the lily-pad so his boy could walk upon level ground. Instead, Link got his boots wet in the stream as he stepped over to the bank. “Who came…” the young man struggled, “Who came after Saria moved on?”
“Our tribe’s current Sage is Makar, Sage of Winds,” the Great Deku Tree answered. “He is currently at the
. He comes back home sometimes, riding the breezes. He is a dedicated violinist. He and the Hero of Winds are the best of friends. Before him was Sage Fado.” Wind Temple
“Fado…” Link trailed off. An image of a little blond girl from an earlier time came to him. “I remember Fado. She had an affinity for strange things, like lore of the undead. I never though of her as Sage-material.”
“He,” the Deku Tree corrected.
“Our Sage was a Kokiri-boy.”
“Must be a different ‘Fado,’ then.”
“He was your friend. Don’t look so surprised, Hero of Time. Everything of the sacred forests changes form to fit the Ages. I changed. The Kokiri became the Koroks. Fado remained a Kokiri, but tired of being female after a time. As my children willed themselves into their current forms, Fado also changed his form by will. Even I have female aspects in that I produce fruit and seeds. My Koroks are both and neither when it comes to the male and the female. Fado may have taken on a Korok form had he not met with tragedy.”
“Sage Fado was murdered by Ganondorf when he rose to infect the world again – in the time without you. Makar keeps contact with his spirit.”
“Hmm,” Link said, pacing a little on the grass, “If the Koroks were once Kokiri is anyone I knew here?”
“Yes and no.”
“Yes and no?”
“Some of my children were born after your time. They that remain from your time merely remember a little Kokiri-boy named Link. They cannot know you as the man that you are now.”
Link looked down at his toes.
“Would it ease your sorrow to know who is who?”
“I think it would.”
“See my children as they play with the Hero of Winds and his sister. Consider their forms. Do not a few seem familiar?”
“The Know-it-All Brothers!” Link exclaimed, “And Hollo – he used to run our play-store!”
Link looked back to the Great Deku Tree. “Where is Mido? I don’t see anybody who strikes me as him in a new body.”
“Mido left the forest,” the Tree answered.
“As one Age passed into the next, I gave the Kokiri a choice. They could stay in the forest and take on new forms or they could leave to live as Hylians do. Mido was interested in what life was like as a Hylian. Along with Saria, he knew the truth about you. He left because he wanted to be like you.”
This left Link wide-eyed. “He wanted… to be like me?” he whispered, putting a hand to his chest. Most of the memories Link had of Mido were of being bullied by the red-haired boy. Even if they weren’t physically fighting, Mido had always devised some emotional torture for him. There was the name-calling and the accusations that Link was only half-a-person due to his lack of a fairy companion. Even after he’d acquired Navi, Mido hadn’t let up. Mido had accused him of killing the Great Deku Tree when he’d died of Gohma’s curse. No amount of explanation Link had of trying to save their tribe’s father was sufficient and Mido had spread the rumor. Link and Mido had come to a sort-of grudging, silent reconciliation in the end, but the idea that a person whose once-delight was in being unspeakably cruel to him had wanted to be like him left Link bewildered.
“He had a jealousy of you that you never knew,” the Great Deku Tree gently explained, “He could sense your strength.”
“He left the forest…”
“And lived as a Hylian apart from the forest’s magic.”
“He aged, just like a Hylian.”
“Which means that I cannot say anything to him now…in this timeline, at least,” Link said with a defeated sigh.
“His fairy told me that he’d lived a long life when she’d finally returned to me and that he’d found a measure of happiness.”
“I was certain I’d seen one of the Koroks out on a small island on the way here. Why are they able to leave the forest?”
“Do not tell the Hero of Winds this, for it would trouble him; in their current forms, my children lack immortality. However, they shall live as long as trees do. That is the way things must be in the current Age.”
Link spared a glance at Aryll and his successor, “Because…” he began, “in this age, the future belongs to the young – to the ones that will bring forth the next Age.” The Hero of Time smiled a small smile.
“You are of Farore,” the Great Deku Tree intoned, “but, indeed, you have gained Nayru’s wisdom in your journey. Rest in my Forest Haven as long as you like before continuing your quest.”
Link wished to sleep here tonight upon the soft grass, beneath his father’s branches, like in old times.
The Hero of Winds taught the Hero of Time how to sail upon the air using the sacred Deku Leaf. Rinku’s adult body did not allow him to sail for as long as young Link could. Link, himself, was beginning to notice that he could not fly as far as he used to.
Aryll played with the Leaf for about ten minutes before she decided that she liked rocketing out of the Deku Blossoms without it better. She’d tuck and spin and play a game she called “cannon” with the bright flowers.
The Koroks could speak a small amount of Rinku’s language on about the level that Aryll could. Only Hollo could speak it fluently. He and Makar had bothered to keep up their studies of the old speech for ritual purposes. The rest had known it once, but had allowed themselves to forget it. Hollo didn’t believe the Hero of Time when he’d tried to tell him that they’d once known each other. The Koroks, however, were fascinated by the young man.
“You have a familiar scent,” Hollo explained. “It is different than merely a Hylian odor, too. There’s something strong about it… and warm.”
Rinku smiled. “I did take the opportunity to bathe in the stream.”
“That is good. The
ForestHaven waters will revitalize you. What is even better is the medicine I am brewing for your journey. I’ve seen it close up open wounds on our swordsman.”
“As long as you’re not charging an arm and a leg for Deku sticks and weak shields anymore…”
“What was that?”
“Science is my passion, big-swordsman. I give my successes away for free – to those I trust. My medicine does work better on flesh than on wood. I make stuff for my brethren, but the super-special potion is for Hylians. It does nothing to stop the flow of green sap, only the red. Why do you think that is, big-swordsman?”
“Perhaps you are working from a deep memory,” Rinku answered, “Perhaps the gods have destined you to help people outside your own family. I am sure your creations have saved the life of little Link there by stopping the flow of the red sap.”
Just then, Link crested a rise, waving and shouting. “Rinku! Hollo! Come on! We’re gonna play ‘Pitfall’ with my grappling hook!”
It had been an exhausting day for Rinku. He was the first to fall asleep. The Koroks had returned to the canopy of branches above. Link, Aryll and Rinku had bedded-down in the grass near the roots of the Great Deku Tree. Rinku’s sword and shield, along with Link’s sword and shield rested against the Deku Tree’s trunk. Link and Aryll huddled in blankets watching Rinku snore softly in the bare grass.
“I hope he’s having peaceful dreams,” Aryll said. “He looks happier in sleep than he’s been in a while.”
“He is dreaming memories,” the Great Deku Tree said, as softly as he could.
“Hope they’re good ones,” Link said with a yawn, stretching himself out.
“He is reliving the Forest Play,” the Great Deku Tree answered, “He always opted for one of the lesser roles.”
“How come?” Aryll asked. “He’s good at lots of stuff, so he’d be a good lead!”
The Tree chuckled lightly. “Rinku’ never was a good actor,” he said, “A person of action is what he is. He’d get nervous in front of his friends and speak his lines in monotone.”
“Aw, poor Rinku…” Aryll began. She looked up to the Tree. “It’s okay. My brother’s a Hero, but he can’t swim!”
“Can too!” Link shot back.
“Not well!” his sister teased. “I always beat you in racing around the island! You choke and flail after a few minutes!”
“Yeah, well…” Link said, sitting up and crossing his arms, “Maybe I don’t need to swim, okay? All I need is a good sturdy boat.”
“I bet Tetra’s had to give you mouth-to-mouth.”
Link’s face turned bright red and sweaty. “How - You’re just a little kid! You shouldn’t say stuff like that!”
“Link and Tetra sitting in a tree, k-i-ss-i…”
“Stop it! That’s enough!”
Rinku rolled over in his sleep, muttering something in Ancient Hylian about wanting a bottle of milk that wasn’t seven years old.
Rinku’s nose twitched. He heard the music of strings. It was a song, a gentle, beautiful song. He opened his sleep eyes and rose up on one elbow. All of the Koroks were gathered around him as well as Link and Aryll. In front was a chubby little Korok he had not met before playing a violin that resembled a leaf.
“Makar, Sage of Winds,” Aryll introduced.
The chubby little Korok bowed. “I regret not returning to the
ForestHaven sooner,” he said in the ancient tongue.
“Nice wake-up call. Thank you. That was beautiful.”
“It is my honor to play for the Hero of Time.”
Rinku rose to his knees. He dared not stand up as he felt it slightly rude to tower over the polite little Sage.
“Why did it take you so long to return to our forest, swordsman?”
Rinku was taken aback. The voice he heard now was like Makar’s, but unlike Makar’s. It was as if two people were speaking at once. A pale green glow emanated from Makar’s heart – or at least from the area of his body a heart would be if he’d had one. Rinku did not know if Koroks had physical hearts. He knew through bitter experience that Deku Scrubs did not. That had been, perhaps, the most frightening thing about the curse-transformation he’d experienced in Termina. The Deku Mask had been nearly as frightening for him as the Fierce Deity Mask with its extra-active heart (that was a mask he’d hoped he’d hidden well enough for it never to be found again). In Deku form, whenever he’d felt his heart race or pound heavily, he knew that it was merely a ghost of memory – because the organ was absent.
The Hero of Time watched the glowing of Makar’s heartwood and saw something come out of it. A translucent figure stood beside the little Sage. The spirit spoke.
“I asked you, Link… why has your return taken so long?”
“F-Fado?” Rinku asked the late Kokiri boy.
“You have changed and so have I. Don’t be alarmed. I know you were told about me. I still have a fascination with Stalfos.”
“I’m kind of… displaced at the moment,” Rinku explained.
Fado gave him a solemn look. “I prayed for you, you know, I and the other Sages. We prayed for your return. The world fell. You’ve got some nerve to show up now.”
“Fado, I…” the Hero of Time sighed, “I had no idea and I could not return, even had I known. Zelda sent me back in time. In a sense, this isn’t even my universe.”
Rinku went onto explain, as best as he could, all he’d learned about alternating timelines, rifts in universes and other such things. He spoke of Termina and how it had needed his help (he had no idea if similar events had transpired in that country in this timeline or not).
“Perhaps this is a mistake of the goddesses,” Fado muttered, “or a mistake of Lady Zelda. I played my violin for her, you know, in a bygone age. She remembered you fondly and made sure you were remembered by Hyrule.”
“My Zelda, but no longer my Zelda,” Link sighed. “And you died violently, so I have heard. I am so sorry.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Fado replied. “I’ll not trouble you with the details of my death, but at least I didn’t become a Stalfos. My successor, Makar, is a good Sage. Your successor is a good Hero. He found Makar for me and together, they gave us the sea its current peace. The world that is now and here is a world that is meant to be.”
“It was good to see you again, though you’re quite different than the Fado I remember.”
“I’ll play for you anytime, Hero of Time,” Fado said before spinning around in the air and returning to Makar’s heartwood.
“My, that was strange, wasn’t it, elder-swordsman?” the little Korok squeaked. The other Koroks did not seem to be phased at all. Link and Aryll acted as though they’d seen nothing at all.
“A little.” Rinku said with a smile. “I think I’d like to hear you play just one more time before we set out to sea.”
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