The Green Rogue

By Nathan Bolduc

Disclaimer for readers: This story is LONG. Put on a pot of coffee and get comfortable. I don’t compromise when it comes to writing anything. That being said, I hope you enjoy this little spin on the Ocarina of Time story. In this rendering, Link isn’t the brave and gallant hero that we all know him as, but rather a “fallen hero,” who chooses to satisfy his own wants and desires before others. You might like it as a twist, or you might spit at it for the way I corrupted one of the most beloved heroes in the world down to the core. Either way, enjoy. I did writing it.


Part I, Chapter 1: Infamous Origins


            The Great Deku Tree enjoyed the fine spray of rain on his face that late evening. To his Kokiri children, though, the rain was a downpour, and they sought shelter in the hollowed-out tree stumps that they called home. The old tree always seemed to harbor a secret delight in watching his children scamper away from the rain and into their dwellings, but of course he could not show it; they’d get very upset with him, being just children.

            It was a very typical evening aside from the rain, though. Peace was in no shortage in the Kokiri Woods, and very little happened there that was significant to the world outside. Truly, thought the tree, a marvelous evening. I cannot wait until the rain subsideth, though. My Kokiri seem to enjoy the air after the rain falls…

            A feeling suddenly came to the Great Deku Tree. A sensing of something urgent, desperate.


            “Who is there in my woods?” boomed the tree. A faint echo was heard over the sound of rain dropping to the earth.

            Nothing at first, but the tree was not fooled. “I knoweth that thou art here. Do not cower because of me.”

            A moment of silence, and then a hazy figure stepped out from behind a tree. As the silhouette approached with a stagger, it became more and more distinguishable through the downpour. When the person was within the shelter of the Great Deku Tree’s canopy, she was revealed.

            “Please, O Great Deku Tree,” plead the bright-haired woman holding her soaking bundle of cloth, “I implore you to take my child!”

            The tree paused, then answered, “I cannot offer thee as much, but I may promise thee shelter for the night and this weather.”

            The woman shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. I…I won’t live through the night. Surely you can sense this, O mighty tree.”

            The Great Deku Tree found that this was true; he had ignored his senses about her before she had mentioned this, but now it was terribly clear that she was starved past the point of no return. “You speaketh the truth, woman. You wish for your child to survive while you perish, but I must tell thee of the consequences.

            “To raise an outsider in the Kokiri Forest will condemn him to be an outcast. My children can be very harsh towards strangers. He may not ever be loved by a mother or true father as an infant needs. Thou would rather choose for him this fate than allow him to follow you into the Sacred Realm?”

            The woman’s answer was immediate. “What would you do, Great Deku Tree?”

            The tree hesitated. He had created his own decision through his words, and responded, “I would rather see my children live. Very well, woman. Your son may dwell under my protection.” The tree felt happiness from her, followed immediately by weakness. “Place him under my chin,” the tree said, “For I sense thou will pass soon.”

            The woman nodded, took one last look at her sleeping son’s face, and obeyed.

            “Before thou passes to the Gods, I must ask of his name,” the Great Deku Tree said.

            As the world grew dim in her sight and she sank to her hands and knees, the woman looked at her son and faintly replied, “…Link…”

            And she fell dead.

            The Great Deku Tree closed his old oaken eyes and solemnly spoke a quick prayer. After it was finished, he spoke, “Fairies, come to me.”

            From the branches of the tree came many small lights that darted around the trunk before hovering in front of the great tree’s face. “Fairies, return her to the earth, and then provideth a home for the child.”

            Without delay, a multitude of the fairies flew down to the wet soil and undermined the dirt under the woman, until she sank peacefully into the ground. While this was happening, a cluster gently carried the baby through the glen and into a house that they had unanimously agreed upon; the home with the spiral ramp around it, and house of Saria.

            Saria was still awake; the storm was rather unnerving to her. When she saw the cluster of fairies fly through her door, however, the fears ceased. She heard the child cry, and a deep paternal instinct enveloped her. She knew what had to be done, and did not need an explanation. She would raise the child until he was that independent age of nine.

            And the years flew by quickly.


Chapter II: Heeding the Call

(Thirteen Years Later)

             Navi the fairy grew anxious. The angry words of the tall stranger clad in black still echoed through her mind, even though he had vanished from the Kokiri Forest. Words of curse and suffering were all he left the Great Deku Tree, who took them all in with an unshakable face.

            It had been weeks since the mysterious stranger’s unwelcome visit, but Navi only now realized how much he had done to the Great Deku Tree. She had only noticed the lack of spirit that he had in such abundance before, and it worried her.

            “Navi,” the great tree finally said to her one morning, “These are dark times that are upon us. There is a great evil that is fast approaching this land of Hyrule. Surely you sense it?”

            Navi knew better than to reply; the Great Deku Tree often asked rhetorical questions.

            “The time is short. It is now that the boy without a fairy begins to fulfill his destiny. Bring him to me, Navi.”

            Navi was stunned. “But, great tree, the child is a menace! You don’t even allow Mido into your glen, and he’s the village head!”

            The Great Deku Tree calmly responded, “Do not question me, Navi. Bring him to me at once.”

            Navi could not have done this more reluctantly. Still, the tree had commanded her, and she was not about to refuse.

            She flew with a mad speed through the grove of trees, over the village, paused to search for the boy’s house, and (after smacking into a fence in a zealous effort to reach it) entered.

            The boy was sleeping soundly, unusual for him. Navi could tell from his tossing and turning that he was having some sort of terror-dream, and awoke him from the nightmare.

            When the boy opened his eyes, he saw the fairy and became instantly defensive. “What in good hell?!” he shouted, rolling off of his wooden bed and onto his feet.

            “Relax! Relax! Calm down!” Navi said frantically.

            Link eased up. He didn’t particularly like being woken up by a stranger, but the fairy was harmless. He stretched and yawned the question, “What do you want?”

            “Good to see you’ve settled down a bit. I’m Navi, one of the great Deku Tree’s closest assistants, and-”

            “If you have a point, get to it.” Link said bluntly.

            “Well! I was told to bring you to the Great Deku Tree, and you aren’t making it easy! Now put some nice clothes on and straighten up!” And without another word she waited outside the door.

            Link yawned again, cracked his neck and back, and sat back down on his bed. This isn’t going to turn out well, he thought, I’m not exactly on the top of that tree’s “favorite” list. Maybe he’ll make me leave, so I can finally ditch this village.

            He stood up, went to his dresser, and pulled out his usual wear: a green hooded tunic, his brown boots, and his fingerless gloves. On his dresser was The Kokiri Sword (though it was little more than a dagger), which was his crown jewel. He remembered searching for it for months after he had overheard about it from the others. Of course, he had to have overheard it; the rest of the Kokiri shunned Link for being what they called “Lightless.” It really wasn’t his fault that he was never given a fairy, but they didn’t care.

            Neither did he. Not for a long time, anyways. When he came back from the Lost Woods with the weapon sheathed at the back of his waist, he knew that he had won. The “better breed” of Kokiri had lost in the search for the forest’s ultimate treasure to the unguided outsider.

            Recalling this made Link smirk, and he gave the sword a quick pat before strapping it in the usual fashion around his waist, parallel with his belt. He held the weapon reverse-handed; sheathing it in this way allowed for a quick draw if needed. The last thing he wanted was a Baba attack in the woods, and having the wretched plant ending up to be a faster attacker.

            “Are you ready yet?” Navi impatiently asked.

            “Hold your pixy dust, I’m coming.” Link pulled the hood over his head, brushed himself off, and walked out the door of his house.

            On his balcony, Link saw a majority of the village. It was still mid-morning, but he could make out the familiar figures of the other Kokiri, doing their daily routines and taking in the air. Approaching his house was a more recognizable person.

            “Yahoo! Hi, Link!” shouted Saria, who waved gleefully.

            Link uttered a slight groan. She was probably his only friend in the world, but sometimes her optimism drove him mad. Still, he waved back and gracefully leapt off of his balcony and rolled upon reaching the ground.

            “You know,” she said with a smile, “You’re going to slip up one of these times and break your neck.”

            “Thanks for the tip,” Link mumbled as he stood up, “You’ve only given it to me about a hundred thousand times.”

            She shrugged and shook her head, her green hair waving slightly. “I swear, sometimes you are just impossible. Anyways, I see that you’re going to see the Great Deku Tree. You didn’t do anything THAT bad, did you?”

            “I don’t know, and quite honestly, I don’t care.”

            Navi interjected, “I hate to rush you two, but time is of the essence. We need to go, Saria.”

            “Of course, of course. Good luck, Link. Remember your manners, and watch your temper.”

            “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He said. Bite me, he thought.

            On his walk to the tree’s glen, he was looked at by some of the others, who saw Navi’s distinct white glow and unanimously wondered why He was to see the Great Deku Tree. Jealousy and rumor filled the air, and Link heard it from under his hood, uncaring. They don’t matter, he thought, They never do.

The path was open, save for the imposing figure of the village head, Mido. “Well, well, well,” Mido said smugly, “Where do you think you’re going, Lightless? Off to atone for your behavior, I hope? It’s about time you took responsibility for yourself.”

“Move it, freckles,” Link said as he stopped in front of him, “And let me pass. Besides, I’m innocent, remember?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Link! I know it was you who stole my rupees! Right off my belt!”

“YOU’RE the one acting stupidly,” Link said with a smile, “You seem to forget that I was at home at the time, as per your instructions. Your guards swear to it. It’s not my fault that your wallet fell off during your long walk that night.”

Mido growled. He couldn’t prove anything, but he knew that the Lightless had done it. He’s get back at him one day, he had to.

“Mido, the Great Deku Tree can’t wait for much longer,” Navi said, “Move!”

Mido obliged, mockingly bowing down and allowing the way to Link. After he and Navi passed beyond his sight, Navi said, “I know you took his money, too.”

“True. Those so-called guards of his did a poor job; sneaking around them was nothing, and Mido didn’t even feel it happen.”

“But why?”

“Because he deserved it. Locking me up for nothing other than looking at him funny.”

Navi sighed. There is no hope for this kid, she thought, Why would the tree send for him?

She wanted to ask, but as soon as they arrived in the Great Deku Tree’s glen, her voice cowered away. She would hold her opinions for until after the tree spoke.

As Link stopped in front of the Great Deku Tree, he crossed his arms and said, “I’m here. What do you want?”

Navi nearly fell to the ground. What a disrespectful little PRICK! Who does he think he’s talking to?!

The tree ignored this question and instead began, “Thou shalt listen now. Thou has had dark dreams of late, am I correct?”

Link did not reply, only snorted once.

The Great Deku Tree continued unabated, “Thou art having these visions because it is time for thine destiny to unfold. Whilst thou accept the responsibility?”

Again, Link made no sound. The tree’s stuffy language was hard for him to understand, but he got the idea. Finally, he spoke, “What’s in it for me if I do what you want?”

The Great Deku Tree smiled, his great wooden facial hair creaking upward. “Ah, Link. Such a mature and adult mind within the body of a child. I know what it is that thou seeketh from me. It is the same item that the man in black wanted from me so dearly.”

Link was suddenly curious, but did not show it. “Who was this ‘Man in Black,’ and why did he want…that…so dearly?”

Navi was confused. She had no idea what “That” was, but knowing what she did about Link, it was probably something so valuable that even he couldn’t steal it.

The Great Deku Tree replied solemnly, “This man came from the desert, and had with him the intent to use my Spiritual Stone to gain access to the Golden Power. He wanted it so much, that he put a terrible curse on me. A curse that ravages my body from my roots to my branches.”

Link paused. “I think I get it. You want me to get rid of the curse, and I get the stone out of the deal.”

Navi didn’t know how Link had found out about the Spiritual Stone, but it didn’t surprise her anymore. This kid was just too smart for his own good.

“Thou art correct. Whilst thou accept?”

Link smirked. “Yes. I’ll help out.”

The maw of the tree opened wide, groaning as it did so. From the darkness of the tree’s mouth, Link could hear the sound of creatures stirring around, scampering about for whatever they hungered for so passionately.

This isn’t what I had in mind, Link thought, But still, If it means that Emerald in my hands, then I guess that I can bear it.

Link stepped into the tree’s gaping mouth, and Navi followed, a light in the darkness.





Chapter III: Pest Control


When Link first stepped in to the Great Deku Tree, he immediately felt the heat and humidity of the air around him. He had expected as much, but not to this degree by any means.

Gods, it’s an armpit in here, he thought, I’ll have to make this fast. He wiped the already forming sweat from under his hood and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. It would take no time at all, as he had spent countless nights in the village sneaking about and doing whatever he deemed worth doing.

“Link,” Navi said, brightening slightly, “I can help be a light, you know. You don’t need to wait.”

“Screw that,” Link fired back, “Why reveal myself to whatever it is that’s in here? I’d rather stay the hunter than become the prey, so dim it down or stay in my hood.”

“…Fine.” Can’t wait till this is over with. He’s going to drive me crazy, she thought as she slipped in to the darkness of the green cowl.

When Link could finally see, he noticed that the walls were covered with skulltula webs. There seemed to be no place that was not enveloped by the elastic, sticky string. Within the webs was the signature “shaking” sounds of the small skulltulas at work. Overhead, some of the larger ones were hanging lazily, sleeping without a sound.

“Link,” Navi said from inside of his hood, “Something isn’t right.”

“Brilliant, you’re a genius,” he whispered, “I suppose you’ll say that they have eight legs next.”

“Stop being such a wiseass! I meant the room itself!”

“What do you mean?”

“There should be a pit that leads down into the root system, but there isn’t. I think it must be under all of this web.”

“A pit. Hmm…”

Link crouched down and lightly stepped down onto the floor beneath him a few times. Then without a word, he snuck across the room, pausing every few steps to repeat the process. Navi was confused, until Link stepped on one spot a few more times than usual and said, “Aha. Here.”

After he had found a weaker spot in the web than the others, he pulled out the Kokiri Sword and began to gently saw away at it, weakening the bonds one by one. After a short while, he could see through the other side, where a pool of water awaited him.

That might be deep enough to safely jump into, but I’m not going to take any chan-”

In the middle of his thought, the web gave away, and he fell freely below until he was halted by the water. It was deep enough after all, and Link let out a sigh of relief under the water as he swam to the surface.

He could make out some dry land around him, and swam to it, hoisting himself up onto shore.

“Well, that was a great idea! What were you thinking?!” Navi sputtered, drenched, but not in ady harm (fairies can breathe underwater, you see).

Link made no reply, just wrung out his tunic where he could and let the water drain from his boots. Luckily for me, he thought, The Kokiri Sword won’t rust. Thank you, fairies.

On the shore, he could see small clusters of a plant that he knew too well. Ah! Deku Nuts! Perfect. How did I forget the ones in my dresser? Good thing I found these.

He picked a few of the nuts and slipped them into one of the pouches on his belt. If he needed a quick getaway, he’d just whip one of these at that ground and blind some sucker of a beast. A perfect plan that saved his ass many times in the past.

As he put the last one into his pouch he heard noises coming around him. Skittery noises. Link slowly reached for the hilt of his sword and turned to see what was there.

In the dark were four red eyes staring widely at him. These eyes did not shift and shake; they had a dead gaze that locked onto him with grim efficiency . The four creatures were spiderlike in appearance, and they walked on two legs. There was a scant moment to think about what he had to do, but Link had a plan down before time ran out.

The one closest to him gave a shriek and lunged at him, only to be met by the quick draw of the Kokiri sword against its glowing eye. Gore sprayed against the floor, and the creature squealed in agony. Another leapt just moments after, and encountered a similar fate. The sword slid easily into the pupil, and the brain was instantly punctured. No sound escaped from this one who had died instantly.

The remaining two were smarter. They circled Link and looked for an opening. They were so focused on their next potential meal as a whole that they didn’t notice his hand going into one of his belt pouches. Too late for them. In a sudden flash, the arachnoids were blinded, and spent the last seconds of their lives in a state of confusion and shock.

When Link pulled his blade out of the last one, he wiped off the blood and slid it calmly into his sheath.

“Nice job,” Navi said, “I had my doubts about you, but-”

“Save your praise. All I did was kill a few bugs. From the looks of it,” Link said, crouching down to one of the corpses, “These were just babies of something bigger. Look, their reproductive organs aren’t developed at all. At least, I think not…”

“Wait, if these are just kids, then where’s their mother?”

Link paused for a long moment, turning his head around and listening to the sounds that echoed off of the walls, then asked, “Are there any more chambers like this one down here?”

“Well, yes. Do you think that it might be there?”

“No, I need a place to run to. It’s on the ceiling. Look.”

Navi quickly turned her gaze upward and saw an eye that was far bigger and more frightening than the one that belonged to the recently-slain younglings. If there was a mother for these things, then this was surely it.

“Where was that chamber that you mentioned, Navi?” Link asked calmly.

“To your left, through the webs!”

The great spider Gohma let out a roar and thudded to the ground as Link dashed to the chamber, cutting the web in his path. This chamber had seven pillars circling the center, and Link hid behind one near the back.

Man, Link thought as he hid, That thing must be pissed. If it’s anything like its children, though, then that eye is going to be my best bet.

Gohma searched the room maddeningly. The pillars obstructed her vision, but she knew that the small biped was in here somewhere. It was only a matter of figuring out which one it was hiding behind. Oh, how she relished the fear she felt from the human! It made her search that much harder.

Link peered out from around the corner to see what the great spider was doing, and saw that his tactic of merely hiding behind the pillars would prove fatal; she wrapped her claws around the circumference of each one and clamped shut, cracking the stone. Shit, he thought, What am I supposed to do?! I can’t dodge those pincers if they close around like that…maybe…maybe I won’t have to.

The thought seemed so brilliant. He turned his body towards the pillar, clasped his hands around the sides, and started to climb to the top of it. When Gohma snapped her claws around his column, he dropped onto it and held onto the thick plates that armored the beast.

Gohma was stunned and bemused by this little stunt. That is, until Link jumped from the claw and onto her face, sword at the ready. Just before Link was about to stab the great eye, she shook around ferociously and threw him into a wall.

As he hit the ground in pain, he looked for Gohma’s retaliation and was surprised to see that the creature was fleeing to the ceiling, using the pillars to scale the room. At the sight of this, Link became enraged. “C’MON!” He shouted as he got up, “Don’t run now, you filthy son of a bitch!” He quickly reached into his pouch and pulled out a deku nut, which he threw to the ground with all of his rage.

Gohma was blinded so badly by the flash that she fell to the ground on her back, roaring in panic. Link didn’t hesitate; he ran up to the wretched spider and plunged the sword into her eye up to the hilt, followed by a twist.

Gohma screamed and bled profusely from her blinded eye, and frantically tried to kill her attacker in a crazed frenzy.

It failed.

Gohma let out her last breath and collapsed. As Link saw this, he jumped up and shouted, “YEAH! That’s what you get, you bitch! Enjoy hell!”

Navi was awestruck. Not from the seemingly impossible kill that Link had just made, but of the fact that he was expressing more emotion now than she had ever seen him do before. “Well, done…Thank you for saving the Great Deku Tree, Link.”

Link composed himself, wiped the blood off of his sword, and said, “Thank me with money. That emerald is as good as mine now.”

A blue light appeared around him and Navi, and before they could react, they were flashed away from the chamber and onto the surface above.

            As the light  cleared away, both Link and Navi saw the familiar face of the Great Deku Tree, smiling but still having an air of doom about him. “O, brave Link,” he began, “Thou hast rid me of this curse that hast plagued me for a long time. For that, I am grateful.”

            “How grateful?” Link asked, crossing his arms.

            “It is true,” The tree continued, “That thou is deserving of reward. However, before I giveth it to thee, Thou must listen.”

            Link rolled his eyes and thought, Damn. Here we go.

            “Thine efforts were valiant and true, but alas, I was doomed from the start, before you even set foot within me.”

            Navi was alarmed. “Great Deku Tree! You can’t mean…”

            Link angrily interrupted her, “I Hope you don’t mean that this was just a little ‘test.’ I don’t have the patience for that type of bullshit!”

            The Great Deku Tree laughed heartily, “Oh, foolish child. Thine actions are of an adult, yet thou still hast the naivety of a child. For thou wilst see that destiny has many tests in store for thine future road.”

            “In case you hadn’t noticed,” Link said, “I’m not one to believe in fate. I make my own ‘destiny.’ Now, if you would get to my reward…”

            The Great Deku Tree sighed, and continued, “Very well. I entrust to thou what the man in black wanted so much, he placed this curse on me. Behold, the Kokiri’s Emerald!”

            A vermillion flash appeared in the branches of the tree, and slowly, the gem lowered itself down to the open hand of Link, who took it with a smile. “Thank you, Great Deku Tree,” he said as he stashed it away in his pocket, “It’ll be put to good use, I assure you.”

            Navi could hold her voice no longer. “Great Deku Tree, Have you gone insane?! Do you know what he intends to do with this jewel? Sell it to the highest bidder, that’s what! What if the man in black buys it?!”

            The Great Deku Tree only answered, “The Gods wilst see that this boy completes his destiny. Fear not, Navi, as you will see for thine own eyes how Link’s fate will unfold.”

            Both Link and Navi thought the same thing at that moment: What?

            “Navi, thou wilst aid Link in the coming trials ahead and offer him wisdom in my stead. For as I have told thee, my time is nigh…I…entreat to…thee…Navi…farewell…”

            And with that final sentence, The Great Deku Tree’s bark withered and grayed; the color of his life was flushed out of him.

            The old tree had died.

            Link and Navi remained silent and motionless for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Navi spoke, “Good-bye, Great Deku Tree…”

            Link silently contemplated this turn of events as he casually turned around and headed back towards the village.

            And they left the glen as peacefully as they had came.




Chapter IV: Exile


            As he re-entered the Kokiri Village, he felt the weight of the village’s stare upon him. Sure, it was always something felt, but now it seemed to be more potent than usual. In spite of this Link didn’t so much as acknowledge their presence.

            Mido and several others decided that they would rather not try to question Link as to what had taken place in the Great Deku Tree’s glen, and ran headlong to see for themselves.

            “This is horrible,” Navi said glumly to Link, “What will the village do without the Great Deku Tree?”

            “I’m not worried about it,” Link replied as he continued to his house, “All I know is that with that old tree gone, there’s nothing to prevent the others from leaving the forest.”

            “Why would that be important?” Navi asked.

            As Link climbed the ladder to his house, he answered, “Well, first off, it means that I can find a place to sell this emerald. No one around here will buy it.”

            “But, the man in black…”

            Link went to his bedside and opened his knapsack, opened it, and began to pack his things quickly. “Never mind him. If you’re going to come along, you’ll have to pull your weight. Help me pack the smaller things.”

            “What? What are you talking about? Why leave now?”

            “That’s second. The way I see it, any second that dumbass Mido and the rest of those idiots will see that the tree is dead. Guess who’s blood they’ll want spilled?”

            “Oh, Gods…” Navi said.

            “Whatever. The tree made some vague prophecy, and I call it a lucky guess. But you’ll probably think it was my so-called ‘destiny’ starting to unfold. So, I’m telling you one more time: pull your weight or hit the road.”

            Navi took it all in for a second, then realized that Link was right. She went to the dresser and started to pack some of the more curious trinkets into the knapsack. He probably stole all of these, she thought bitterly, he’s nothing but a thief. Why would the Great Deku Tree want him to do anything? Why would the Gods want anything to do with his life?

            Those and a thousand other thoughts filled her mind as Link finished packing his few belongings. Outside, both of them could hear the angry commotion that had gathered around Link’s house. Some of the Kokiri were shouting, others were crying.

            Link mumbled some incoherent curse and stepped outside of his door with his knapsack on his back. Outside, the whole village was standing at his house, and Mido stood in front of them all. “Come down, murderer!” shouted Mido, “Face your fate! You’ve gone too far this time!”

            Link turned to Navi and said, “I ‘m going to enjoy this. Don’t interrupt, or I’ll swat you.” He then jumped down off of his balcony and stood face to face with Mido.

            “I’ve had enough of you, Lightless,” Mido said over the roar of the Kokiri’s shouting, “You’ve been nothing but a plague ever since you showed up in this village. You are a disgrace to Kokiri, and now you will feel justice!”

            “Mido,” Link said calmly as he dropped his knapsack to the ground, “I’ll give you one chance. Move, or I’ll pulp your ass in front of all your mindless puppets here.”

            Mido laughed. “No, I’m not going to move, Light-”

            He never finished that sentence. In less than a minute, Mido was unconscious and bleeding profusely on the ground. The rest of the Kokiri stopped their protest and fearfully let Link pass.

            “Link, that was horrible to watch,” Navi said once they were out of the sights of the villagers, “Did you goad him into that?”

            “I gave him a choice. He chose poorly. Serves him right.”

            They continued until they reached the bridge that lead out of the forest. On the bridge was the only thing that could have stopped Link from continuing.

            “Where will you go, Link?” Saria asked sadly.

            “…It doesn’t matter,” Link responded coldly, “There’s probably a better life out there than there is for me here.”

            “And what if there isn’t? What if fate destroys your chances?”

            “Saria,” Link said, shaking his head, “I thought you would have gotten this through your head by now: I make my own fate.”

            “Then there is no dissuading you, then.” Saria reached her hands into her back pocket ant extended it to Link. “Here.”

            Link reluctantly took the item, a cream-colored ocarina. Not even worth four rupees, he thought.

            “Link,” Saria said with her head down, “Take this. Hopefully it will remind you that you have at least one friend in the world. To help when fate goes awry.”

            Link looked at it, stowed it away in his knapsack, and turned to leave. He didn’t turn to her, but he still said a solemn, “Thanks, Saria.”

And he left the Kokiri Woods.





Chapter V: If The Price Is Right…


            When Link first stepped out of the forest and into the vast, sun-washed plains of Hyrule Field, he had to cover his eyes, despite the hood that covered them. Jeez, he thought, It’s too bright out here.

            The first thing that Link noticed was that there was a road up ahead. It didn’t lead directly into the forest, but it was close enough to make Link wonder. “Hey, sparkles,” he said to Navi, “Why doesn’t anybody finish the road to the Kokiri Forest?”

            Navi, who didn’t really appreciate Link calling her that, answered, “Maybe it’s because people are afraid of the Lost Woods.”

            Overhead, a voice was heard that startled both of them. Upon hearing the sudden hoot of the great owl, Link instinctively grasped his weapon and faced the potential threat.

            “Hooot! Relax, Link! I am no enemy to you!” said the owl.

            Link said nothing, but his grip did ease up on his blade. Navi hovered back behind Link, but had her eyes on the giant, brown bird.

            “You are probably wondering who I am. Well, if I may be allowed to introduce myself, my name is-”

            “Your name is irrelevant,” barked Link, “State your business or get out of my sight.”

            The bird was taken aback by the youth’s manner, but continued, “Very well, I shall skip the pleasantries. You are heading out on a great new adventure, aren’t you? I merely want to help you.”

            “I don’t need help. You’re wasting my time.”

            “Am I? So sorry. Let me summarize my points, then. You will face hardship on the road to meet your destiny, but by perseverance, you will overcome and succeed. Don’t let struggles turn you away!”

            “Fucking great advice. Do you have any useful ones?”

            “Hoot! Clever lad! A shame your mind grew faster than your body. Yes, I do have something that even a person such as yourself would find useful. Surely you’ve seen gray, tombstone-shaped stones with eyes engraved upon them? Well, they are called Gossip Stones, dear lad, and they hold all sorts of useful secrets. It’s just a matter of getting them to tell you what you want.”

            “Thanks, bird. Anything else, or can I get back to my life?”

            “Hoot! No. Do not try to escape your fate, young one, it will find you.”

            And with that, the owl flew off into the sky, leaving feathers floating gently to the ground. Link growled and said, “Why doesn’t anyone listen to me? I make my own fate!

            “Link, I’m right here, you don’t need to shout.” Said Navi.

            “As if I was talking to you. You are free to leave at any time, you know.”

            “No, I’m not. The Great Deku Tree told me to aid you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

            Link sighed as he began to walk along the road. “Fine,” he said, “Just try not to help me too much, sparkles.”

            They continued along the road for three hours until they hit an old signpost that simply read: “Hyrule Castle Town 20 miles”

            Link wiped the sweat from his brow and smiled. “A castle town, huh? I’ll bet I can find a whole mess of morons who’d buy this emerald,” he patted his left pocket that held the gem, “With a little luck, I can get there when night falls, maybe even before.”

            “Link,” Navi angrily said, “Selling the Kokiri’s Emerald would blaspheme everything that the Great Deku Tree did to protect it! How could you?!”

            “He gave it to me to do with it as I wish. You above all would know about fulfilling last wishes, right? Miss Aid? If you really want to stop me, then you’re welcome to try.”

            Navi was steaming, but she knew that he was right. There was nothing that she could do about it. Gods, she prayed, why would you let this happen? Will everything turn out all right? What do you expect from this kid?

            The sun was setting on the horizon when Link and Navi could see the castle off in the distance, about three or four miles away. “Well,” said Link, “We’re probably not going to make it before nightfall. No matter. Let’s keep going.”

            “Don’t you want to stop for the night?” Navi asked.

            “No. I’d rather sleep in an inn, thank you. I’ve had enough wildlife sharing the night with me to last a lifetime. Damn skulltulas crawl into your room at night and try to lay their eggs in your mouth. Pieces of shit.”

            They were about a mile away when the last rays of sun vanished behind the distant hills. Somewhere, a wolf howled at the crescent moon in the sky. Link’s eyes were already adjusted to the dark before a minute passed.

            A good thing, too, he would realize shortly.

            A sound sprang up to Link’s left, a sound of earth being cleared and moved. Link went into full alert and had his weapon out before he even turned and saw the source of the commotion.

            Out of the ground appeared a bleached and bony skeleton, eyes glowing and body rattling in to wind. Link stepped back slowly, only to have another claw grab his ankle. He let out a surprised yell, then severed the dry limb with his sword. It clutched onto him still, and he frantically tried to shake it off. Meanwhile, more of them were coming out of the ground and shambling towards Link with the same intent to feed.

            “Link! Run away!” Navi shouted as loud as she could.

            “Way ahead of you!” he shouted back. They both fled as fast as they could away from the things, but they seemed to spring up wherever Link stepped. He ran against his legs’ will for that mile to the castle. He felt real fear for the first time in ages; this was not how he envisioned his death, tired and hopeless in the dark. It made him wonder of how many others wished something else than this only to have it refused.

            The castle was in sight, but he made a horrific discovery. “Why in the fuck is the drawbridge closed?!” He screamed into the night. He realized the reasons as they limped closer and closer behind him.

            “Link! What are we going to do?” stressed Navi.

            “What do you mean we? You can just fly away! I’m the one in need of a plan here!” Link looked around desperately for an escape route. He first considered the moat, but then he saw the sight of hundreds of bony hands dripping and covered with algae rising out of the water. Nope, not there, he thought, Wait, the wall!

            The wall was made of solid rock, and had several stones jutting out of place. An ideal wall for climbing with the footholds that were so naturally provided. With a strong leap, he cleared the moat and grasped the first stones that he could find. With what was left of his strength, he pulled himself up and over the wall until he made it over the ramparts.

            His energy depleted, Link collapsed and fell asleep on the wall. For a few minutes, at least. “Hey, kid! Get off of the wall!” was what he was woken up to. A swift kick in his ribs jolted Link awake, and he quickly leapt down a ladder nearby. He could barely stand, let alone walk, but the sight of an inn across the street made him muster up a new strength, and he trudged inside.

            The night watchman inside paid almost no attention to him; he merely asked, “Do you have ten rupees?”

            Link immediately replied, “Yes, I do. I want a bed.”

            The man took the ten rupees, gave Link a key, and said, “First door on your left upstairs. Walk quietly.”

            No problem, old-timer, Link thought as he went to his room, I don’t need any key. I could have just picked the lock upstairs and gotten in without paying, but I’m too damn tired to deal with all of that trouble. Enjoy your money while you have it, coot. I’ll get it back with interest soon enough.

            And with that last thought, he fell asleep on his bed. He had that recurring nightmare again, only now it seemed so much clearer, more detailed.

            He woke up to the early morning light. As dawn entered the window, he got up, stretched, and sat back down. Now what? Oh, yeah, I was going to get a refund. Then, I’ll ask around about this emerald. No sense in selling it to the first idiot who wants it.

            He crept downstairs, and saw to his relief that the night watchman was asleep in his chair. Beside him on the counter was a small wooden chest, with a lock on it. Easy pickings, he thought, Just hope that sparkles doesn’t wake up.

            Link silently inched up to the chest, pulled out his lockpicks, and went to work. It was a simple lock, and in no time it softly clicked open. He turned to see if the old man had woken up to this, and saw that the watchman was still sawing logs. Perfect. Link opened the chest slowly and saw the old leather pouch that held the rupees. With a gentle grab, he took them and closed the chest.

            As he left, he noticed the key on the watchman’s belt. Ah, well. Picking the lock was more fun anyways.

            The early morning was still warming up the cold streets and air. A thin coat of mist was coating the ground, leaving the dew to pepper the cobblestone. Navi woke up to the sudden change of temperature and lazily fluttered out of Link’s hood. “Why are we out here?” she asked groggily, “It’s not even a full morning yet.”

            “True, but the rewards of an early rise are always sweet.” Link said as he pulled the leather pouch open and counted the money. He leaned against a building and finished at a number of forty-seven rupees. Not a bad grab. Now, what can I do about breakfast…

            He didn’t find any shops open, so he decided to look around town to familiarize himself with it. It seemed like a very simple village; it revolved around a central market, had some back alleys, and he could see a large, ornate temple that stood adjacent to the castle grounds.

            That temple is what got his attention. Link seemed to be drawn to it, so he decided to see what it was all about. Probably full of some holier-than-thou people and lots of valuable religious artifacts…sounds good to me.

            He was disappointed when he got there and found the inside completely empty. No people, not treasures, no anything. All that was noticeable was a black altar with three hollows and a whole lot of carved writing. Link was disappointed, so he didn’t even bother to read it.

            As he walked outside, dismayed at his lack of findings, he saw several people gathered around four grey tombstone-shaped pieces outside the path. “Gossip stones?” Link inquired out loud, “That stuffy old bird was good for something, after all.”

            He eased his way through the crowd of people and got up to one of them. After he got close enough, he watched to see how they work. It seemed simple: stare into the eye until it asked what you wanted to know, then ask. It would then tell you an answer to the best of its knowledge.

            That seems a little too easy, Link thought suspiciously, What’s the catch? Won’t know until I try it, I guess.

            He patiently awaited his turn, then stepped up to the stone’s cold gaze. He seemed almost hypnotized by it, but his trance was broken by the stone’s mouthless voice, “What are your questions, child?”

            “I have two questions. First, how do you know so much when people only ask, and not tell?”

            “We gossip stones make a mental trade,” it answered robotically, “For every question, we read your mind for a piece of information. That is how we know. Your next question?”

            Link wasn’t sure he wanted to ask. Being mind-probed wasn’t his idea of a good time. He decided to ask anyway, discreetly, “Is there anyone looking for fine jewels around this town?” he whispered.

            The stone hesitated for a moment, then responded out loud, “The princess is seeking such items lately, quite desperately. If you have no more inquiries, then leave, hooded youth.”

            “Fine. Have a nice existence, rock.”

            As he walked away, he slowed and thought about what the stone said. Navi interrupted his train of thought, “What are you thinking of doing? There’s no way that the princess would ever see you, and don’t even talk about the guards!”

            Link shrugged, then rubbed his chin. “But if she needs precious stones so badly, then the prize might be worth the effort.” He stopped as he saw the old night watchman stroll angrily past him and toward the gossip stones. Link didn’t have to guess at his intent; he wanted to know who stole from him. Link hastened his pace.

            Navi knew it, too, but she had no intention of saying anything about it. “You know, you’d be taking a gamble by asking her about it. What if she knows what the Emerald really is?”

            “Then she’d pay more for it. The real gamble is whether or not the price is right. There can’t be any harm in asking, can there?”

            Navi was nervous, but she had to agree. With the stones and crowd out of view, they both set off for the castle.




Chapter VI: Infiltration


            The road to the castle was short, at least until the guard station. The path was similar to a dry canyon, with the well-trodden dirt the river that snaked through the earth up to the castle. The station acted as a proverbial dam to stem the flow of uninvited visitors.

            Visitors such as Link. On the short road, he passed by a young fire-haired girl that sang serenely. Link passed her without a word; he had better things to be worried about.

            The gate was closed, with a lone guard standing steadfast near it. Link approached the guard, looked up to him, and said calmly, “I want to see the princess. Let me through.”

            The guard stared bewildered for a second, then burst out laughing. “Kid, you really are something else,” he chuckled, “Do you know how many people get past me in a year? Less than your fingers on your hands. What makes you so special?”

            Link was reasonably infuriated, but he continued coolly, “That is none of your concern. It is business. Now, let me through.”

            The guard snorted. “Wow, you really want to see our princess that badly? Tell you what, kid. If you slip me twenty rupees, then I’ll let you slip inside. Just walk to the gate, o.k?”

            Link was satisfied. Twenty rupees for a fortune of more sounds good to me. What an idiot. The money changed hands, and the guard took it gleefully as he opened the gate behind him. As it creaked open, the guard stepped aside to let him through.

            Link heard the gate close behind him as he casually strolled up the path. He became lost in a sort of daze due to the niceness of the weather and the serenity of the road.

            This tranquility was soon shattered by the sound of a loud whistle and a multitude of guards swarming towards him. Before Link could react, he had no less than four armor-clad soldiers throttling him, dragging him to the gate, and tossing him out without pity.

            Link felt the throbbing pain in his body as he heard the gatekeeper deny seeing him enter and that he must have snuck around. Motherfucker! That son of a bitch is going down! By the time that Link got to his feet, the gate had reclosed and the lone guard was back at his spot, smirking at the hooded kid in front of him. “Oh, I’m sorry, kid,” the guard laughed, “Did I forget to tell the others about you? Too bad, so sad. Come back when you’re someone important!”

            Link’s jaw clenched as tightly as his fists. He wasn’t about to let some puissant guard make a fool out of him. Yeah, laugh. It’ll make it that much funnier when I get you back, you bastard.

            Link turned around and walked furiously away and around the corner. He heard the girl that he had passed before singing, but this time she seemed to sing at Link rather than to the road.

            Link seemed entranced by the voice. When she noticed that he was looking at her, she stopped and gleefully walked up to him and said, “Hi! Your clothes…they’re…different.”

            “You don’t exactly look like city material yourself.” Link said, pointing out the girl’s farming clothes.

            She giggled and said, “That’s because I’m from Lon Lon Ranch. My dad went up to the castle to deliver milk, but he hasn’t returned yet. Hey, you’re going up there too, aren’t you?”

            “Yeah? What’s it to you?” Link asked.

            “I want you to find Daddy. He can be so lazy sometimes!”

            “I don’t work for free. What’s in it for me?”

            She looked up in thought, then snapped her fingers as she reached into her pocket and pulled out an egg nestled in a woven bundle of straw.

            “…An egg?” Link asked as he took and examined it.

            She nodded cheerfully. “Yeah! It’s a special egg that I’ve been incubating for a while. It’s got a rare breed of cucco in it.”

            “How rare?” Link asked as he held it up to the twilight of the sunset.

            “The first of its kind! Just be sure to give it back when it hatches!”

            Link was confused. First she pays me with an egg, then she tells me to return it later. Fuck that. Link gave her the egg back and said, “I don’t accept poultry. Cash for service.”

            The girl took the egg back and stopped smiling. “I don’t have any rupees.” She said.

            “Then look for your dad yourself. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.” And without another word, he left her.

            Navi appeared and said angrily, “Link! She’s crying! How could you?!”

            “Don’t expect me to take a guilt trip. She didn’t have any money.”

            “You’re unbearable! How can the Gods have any use for you?!”

            Link quickly grabbed her out of the air and brought her close to his face. “I thought you’d know it by now,” Link said, “I’m not being used by the Gods.” He released her and kept walking down the road.

            Navi was shaken, but quickly gathered courage to speak again, “What’s your plan now? How do you expect to get in?”

            Link stopped and turned around. With a smile, he said “Wait here with the girl if you care for her so much. I’m sure you want to comfort her, right? I’ll be back soon.” He then ran down the road and vanished from Navi’s sight into the town.

            Navi was about ready to scream. Link was driving her crazy before, but to leave that sweet little girl crying…

            The fairy shook off the rage as she remembered the girl, who was still in tears when Navi went to comfort her. “Hey,” she said to the weeping child, “Cheer up! I know that he can be mean sometimes, but he’s not all bad…I think.” Navi had to wonder if she was really speaking the truth when she said that.

            The girl looked up in mild surprise at Navi because it was the first time she had ever seen a fairy up close before. The fairy’s presence calmed her down a bit, but she was still sad. “All I wanted was to get daddy back, but he just wanted money. He’s like a bad grown-up.”

            Navi had to agree with this. “I don’t know why he does that, but I think it’s because he’s scared.”

            The girl looked curious. “What do you mean he’s scared?”

            “Well, in our old village he didn’t have a mom or a dad. You’re feeling scared without your parents right now, aren’t you?”

            The girl nodded.

            “He’s never had any, and the only way he knows how to deal with his fear is to be angry at everyone.”

            The girl wiped the last of her tears away from her eyes and said, “He’s just scared?”

            “Yeah,” Navi said, glad that the girl had calmed down. “What’s your name?”

            The girl smiled and said, “My name’s Malon! What’s your name, Ms. Fairy?”

            “Navi. It’s nice to meet you, Malon…What in the world is that sound?”

            They both listened, and approaching from the town was a steadily increasing roar of a crowd of people. “What are they all coming up here for?” Malon asked.

            “I think that I have a good idea…” Navi said wearily. As what seemed like the whole population of the castle town passed them and crowded around the gate, Link walked casually up to Malon and Navi and stopped, crossing his arms.

            “Link, what did you do?!” Navi hollered over the noise of the mass of people who were at the gatehouse.

            “I didn’t do anything. All I did was inform the good people of the generous banquet that the King was holding, and how everyone is invited.”

            Navi was dumbfounded. Malon just giggled slightly, then said, “You tricked the whole town! That’s pretty funny.”

            Link nodded and started to climb up the vines on the rock’s wall. “You coming, Navi?” he asked without looking down.

            “I guess I have no choice.”

            Malon watched as the green-clad boy went up onto the rock face, and shrugged. She said to herself, “I hope you stop being scared one day.” Then she walked down into the nearly vacant town.

            Link didn’t walk, but instead crept along the top of the hill, which was flush with the top of the guardhouse’s wall. From this vantage point, he could see his small plan working without a hitch. The people were yelling at the lone guard to let them all in by now, and any second he would call for the others to give him some help.

            Right on time, about ten or so other guards came down running to the gate. Link chuckled aloud, and Navi finally realized the reasoning behind this mass coercion. “Let me guess,” she said, “You’re going to sneak in now while the guards are all busy, aren’t you?”

            “And here I thought you were stupid,” Link said as he stealthily ran over the top of the guardhouse. Ahead, the secondary gate that lead to the moat was completely unguarded, and because it was completely dark by now, the ones on the wall wouldn’t see him swim through the moat and up to the side of the castle.

            He did just that, but when he reached the side, he heard a faint noise coming to his left. He thought that it was the echo of his dripping tunic at first, but realized that the sound was too deep to be that. When he cautiously went closer to the noise, he didn’t see any source, and it made him wary.

            At least, until he nearly tripped over what was causing the noise. When Link’s feet hit the snoring man, he jumped and reached for his weapon. When the man did not stir, Link relaxed. Navi fluttered out from under Link’s hood and watched him examine the sleeping person. Link saw a peculiar clasp around the man’s neck, and was about to steal it when he remembered that he had seen it before. “Navi, this is that girl’s father.”

            Navi didn’t say anything, but she did look closer at the clasp that Link was holding up to show her.

            Link looked away in thought, then said to Navi, “I have a really nice idea…” He got up and started to shake the man furiously.

            “Link, what are you doing?” Navi asked worriedly.

            “I’m trying…to wake him up…dammit, he’s a rough sleeper! Wake up!” The man still snored on, unresponsive.

            Link backed up and kicked the man in the ribs, and this got him awake. “Link! What did you do that for?!” Navi yelled.

            Link ignored her and said to the man, “Sir! Sir! Your daughter is worried sick about you! You’ve been gone for a long time!”

            The man suddenly became aware of what the kid was saying, and shot up to his feet and said loudly, “You’re right! I’m really gonna catch it from her this time!” and with that, he ran as fast as he could down the road.

            Link looked back at the man as he ran down the hill. “What a rube,” he said, shaking his head, “Now, down to business.”

            “What business? Why come over here?” Navi asked, “There’s a reason that the moat is closed. It’s to keep intruders out, like you. How does coming over here solve anything?”

            “Holy gods, shut up. The moat has to come from somewhere, right? I’m looking for the irrigation system. It has to lead into the castle, so I’m taking it. Now will you stop bitching and hide your light?”

            Navi was, as usual, upset that he was, well, right. Still, she obliged and hid in his hood.

            Link looked around and listened for the placed where the moat’s water was coming from, and after a few minutes his search was fruitful: there was a small opening on the wall, above a small ridge. Too small for an adult, but perfect for Link’s small stature. With a quick jump, Link leapt onto the ridge and squeezed his way through.

            The inside of the castle courtyard was darker than the outside, but it didn’t take long for Link’s eyes to adjust. It turned out to be a good thing, too; the guards who patrolled ahead were totally dependent on their torches for vision. The glow of the mobile flames danced against the lush green of the well-tended shrubbery and the vibrant colors of the flowerbeds.

            These shrubs will make great cover, Link thought, This’ll be easier than I thought.

            He quickly slipped behind the closest bush, and the guard adjacent to it didn’t so much as stir. Through the leaves, Link could see the shape of another guard passing by. The two guards started to talk to each other, but Link couldn’t make out what they were going on about, even if he wanted to. They were easy to sneak by; talking makes for an excellent distraction and noise buffer.

            Link found out almost too late that the gardens were occupied by more than just a casual patrol. As he passed around another bush, he was almost spotted by a group of them, who were circling around a large statue. He barely made it back behind his cover before three sets of eyes saw him. Stupid, he thought angrily, Now’s not the time to get cocky!

            The guards went around the other side of the statue, and one of them went around the corner behind some tall bushes. Link took a deep breath, and then made a mad dash to the other side of that corner. He decided to take his chances with the one guard than with the two circling the statue. It turned out to be a good move; around the bend was a very tall row of bushes, and the guard was nowhere in sight. Still, just because he wasn’t visible didn’t mean that he wasn’t around. Link cautiously crept along the hedge wall, looking for the telltale light of a torch that peeked through the greenery. The lone guard seemed to have disappeared, so Link proceeded.

            Ahead was a tunnel with a broad arch. Link could see that it led to a circular garden, and the moonlight illuminated it splendidly. More importantly, there were no guards in sight, so he went silently through, and walked casually into the center of the greenery.

            Navi flittered out of Link’s hood and looked around. “Hey, Link,” she started, “What now? Where did you expect to find the princess? She’s probably under lock and key, what with it being nighttime and all.”

            Link realized this bitterly. She was right, he had made no plan on how to get to the princess, and now he found himself at a loss for words. “…Damn. You’re right…I guess.”

            “You guess?”

            “Fine. You’re right, I screwed up. Now, if you wouldn’t mind just getting over that, could you help me figure out a plan?”

            “Ha! After what a pure horror you’ve been, now you want my help? I think I’ll disobey the Great Deku Tree just this once. You’re on your own.”

            Link didn’t answer to this. He simply shrugged and began to look around. No big deal, I’ve been left to worse. He then looked up to the walls, and to the towers. No way that I’m climbing up there, he thought, and that’s probably where she is.

            His search continued. He noticed the worn treads where people have walked countless times over. A nice little path, probably made by a single person. This path, Link thought as he crouched down and examined it, It’s very thin. The person who made it must have small feet…or just a small stature! “Aha!” he exclaimed, before covering his own mouth.

            Navi, who was just hovering by and truthfully hoping that he didn’t find some type of solution, sighed. “What did you have in mind?”

            “This path,” Link said as he smugly pointed to the worn line of earth that snaked the garden, “Was probably made by the princess herself. Look at how thin it is. All I have to do is wait until morning, and she should stroll right into here. I’ll talk to her then.” Link pulled out the Kokiri’s emerald and tossed it up and down, admiring it.

            “This can’t be more than a guess,” Navi said, “And where do you suppose you’ll hide out until then? I’m sure those guards won’t just leave this area alone.”

            Link looked around, again finding himself to admit that Navi was right. But, before he said anything about it aloud, he noticed that the flowers within the garden were rather tall. He laid flat on his back, put the emerald in his pocket, and tested the height. Sure enough, the flowers were taller than his prone figure. He hopped back to his feet. “Do fairies sleep?” he asked.

            Navi responded confusedly, “Not really. Why do you ask?”

            “I need you to be a lookout for me. I’m going to hide myself in the flowers and go to sleep. Wake me when she comes tomorrow.” He then trudged to the center of one of the larger flowerbeds and started to pull up some of the plants.

            “Link! Those flowers…Ah, forget it.”

            Link didn’t stop, but he did add a comment, “Nice to see that you’re starting to see things from my point of view.” He laid down in the spots where he pulled out the flowers and laid down, covering himself with the ones he pulled up.

            When he was done, Navi secretly admitted that it was a good disguise. “If the princess comes down here, how should I get you up?”

            Link’s muffled voice came from beneath the petals, “When she gets here, just buzz in my ear. You know, that annoying sound you make when you talk. Good night.”

            Navi wanted to respond, but she knew that it wouldn’t do any good. He’d just keep going on and on. For the first time since she had been created, she started to seriously doubt the Great Deku Tree. Before, it was just a matter of not seeing what he had in mind with Link, but now it was something more. She felt as if the Gods had seriously failed, and now she was doomed to suffer it with this little wretch of a kid.

            The night passed quickly, and before Navi knew it, the first rays of the sun were peeking over the castle’s stone walls. After a few hours of sunlight, Navi could hear the bustling sounds of the morning as people went about their daily business. Navi wondered how Link could sleep in such a still state. She figured that it was something related to the feeling of the flowers against his skin.

            Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of soft footsteps coming from the hedge gardens. Holy Gods, no way he was right, Navi thought.

            To Navi’s dismay, Link’s prediction was correct. Coming through the stone arch was none other than the Princess Zelda herself. Her violet and white dress softly dragged along the ground, across the treads of the path she had walked dozens of times before.

            Navi suddenly remembered what she had been told. She flew down to Link’s ear and said, “Link? Link, wake up. She’s here.”

            Link’s eyes shot open, as if he had just had a nightmare. He made only a few whispers to Navi, “Ok, listen. She’s probably going to be a little surprised, so I need you to distract her for a second while I get up.”

            Navi looked up, and then said, “Link, she’s just staring through the window over there.”

            Link was confused. “What?” he whispered.

            “I said she’s just staring through it. It’s like she’s spying or something.”

            “Spying, huh? We’ll get along just fine.” He rose up from the flowers, stood on his feet, and brushed himself off. He then cautiously stepped out of the flowers, tiptoed up to her, and tapped her on the shoulder.

            She spun around and gasped, clearly shocked at Link’s presence. “Ah! W-What are you doing here?! How did you get past the guards?!”

            “Calm down! I’m just here to make a trade!” Link shouted.

            Zelda eased up, and her expression turned from shocked to curious very quickly.

            Link took advantage of the silence to begin talking, “That’s better. Now, I hear that you’re looking for-”

            She completely ignored him and said, “Is that…a fairy?”

            Link was taken aback. He looked at Navi and replied, “Uh…yeah. Now about you wanting precious-”

            “Then you, you’re from the forest, is that right?” she interrupted.

            Link was getting really angry with her. Still, he retained his composure and said calmly, “Yes…but not anymore. I want to sell you a sto-”

            “Then, you wouldn’t happen to have the Spiritual Stone of the Forest, then, would you?”

            Navi was on the verge of laughing herself sick. The obvious expression of hidden anger was on Link’s face, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. It made her feel just a little better.

            Zelda asked, “Do you have it?”

            Link was straining not to let himself erupt out of impatience, and he said, “Yes, I do. It’s why I’m here, I wanted to sell-”

            The princess’ expression changed from curious to gleeful in that instant. “Just as I thought!”

            Link couldn’t take any more. “What the hell are you talking about?!” he exploded. Navi let herself laugh out loud for a few seconds, then gained control of herself.

            Zelda seemed confused by the outburst, but continued calmly, “I…Had a dream. In this dream, there were dark clouds that covered Hyrule. Then, a green light shot out of the forest, parted the clouds, and brought light back to the land. The light then turned into a figure holding a green stone. That is when the dream ends.”

            Link brought his palm up to his face and groaned. “Look highness, I don’t know what’s gotten into everyone important, but the fact is that I’m no ‘Child of Destiny,’ or whatever you say that the Gods call me. All I want is to make a fast buck. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I want to sell this stone to you, because I heard that you were looking for precious gems.”

            She nodded. “Of course, I’m looking for gems. I need the Spiritual Stones, because I know that these dreams I have are a prophesy for Hyrule’s future!”

            Link clenched his fists. “Again with your prophesies! I don’t want to hear any more of it! How much will you buy this stone for?!”

            “Oh, I don’t want to buy it,” Zelda said. Link was shaking with rage. He was seriously considering punching her in her left eye and sending her reeling, had she not explained herself, “I want to buy all three of them at once to gain access to the Golden Power.”

            Link was instantly calmed. “Golden Power?” the name sounded intriguing.

            “Are you familiar with the story of creation?” she asked.

            “’Fraid not. What about this Golden Power?” Link asked again.

            “Well, a long time ago, the three goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru came down from the heavens and created this land. Din, the goddess of fire and all that is power, shaped the land with her strong, flaming arms.”

            Why is it that I’m getting a history lecture every time I try to get what I want? Link thought.

            Zelda continued, “Nayru, goddess of wisdom and all that is love, brought life to the land and the law of the land. And finally, Farore, goddess of courage and life, created all the creatures that would uphold the law.”

            “What does this have to do with that Golden Power you were talking about?” Link asked.

            “Well, when the Goddesses were finished, they left the land and ascended into the heavens. The Golden Power, or Triforce, marks the point where they left. Whoever touches this power will have any wish they desire granted!”

            Link was disappointed. This seemed like a really big scam, and he lost interest in it. “Yeah…sounds great. What do these gems have to do with it?”

            “Those stones are the key to the gateway to the Sacred Realm, where the Triforce is being held securely. It need to get to it before it’s too late.”

            Link sighed. “What’s your rush?”

            Zelda pointed to the window and said, look in there. The dark clouds in my dream…I believe that they symbolize that man!”

            Link walked up to the window and peered into the glass. He saw a great, tall man clad in black armor bowing down to the King. Navi suddenly gasped. “Link! That man! Do you think that he’s-”

            “The ‘Man in Black’ that killed the tree? Perhaps.” Link responded.

            “He’s Gannondorf, the king of the Gerudo. They live out in the desert. He swears loyalty to my father, but I can tell that he’s evil!”

            Gannondorf turned his head and saw Link with eyes that housed an anger that Link had never seen before. It seemed…dark, somehow, like just staring into those eyes would make you feel cold.

            “What’s wrong, did he see you?” Zelda asked Link as he pulled away from the window, “Don’t worry, he can’t know what we’re planning…yet!”

            “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Zelda,” Link said, “Hold on a minute. I didn’t agree to any ‘plan,’ or anything else for that matter. In fact, since you said outright that you weren’t going to buy my emerald, I don’t know why I’m here right now. Goodbye.”

            “W-Wait! You can’t just leave!” Zelda cried.

            “I can do what I want. My only boss is money, and since you’re not giving me any, I’ll find someone who does.” Link started to walk away.

            Zelda was genuinely worried. She quickly thought up something to say to him, “You know, no one would pay as much for that as I would.”

            Link stopped and turned around. “Oh, so you’ve had a change of heart? I’m glad. What’s the offer?”

            “Now you listen to me. I won’t pay a green rupee for just one. However, if you get me all three, I’ll be see to it that you’re rewarded handsomely.”

            Link stepped closer, rubbing his chin. “How handsomely were you thinking?”

            She stepped closer to him and said calmly to his face, “Twenty-five thousand rupees.”

            Link had to control himself from letting his jaw drop. Twenty-five thousand?! I hit the jackpot! Stay cool. He casually cocked his head to one side and replied, “Very well. Good doing business with you, Zelda.”

            “That’s Princess Zelda to you, child.” A voice said behind Link.

            He swerved around and adopted a fighting stance. The woman was tall, grey-haired, and clearly very powerful. Zelda grabbed Link’s arm and said, “Don’t be afraid! It’s just Impa, my guardian.”

            Link relaxed his stance and said, “Hmph. Sneaking around is my specialty. I thought that guards were supposed to be more…knightly.”

            Impa smiled. “It seems that you were wrong. You might not have known this, but I saw you enter this castle and make your way to this garden. Very clever of you, for a child. If the Princess herself hadn’t told me to watch for anyone clad in green, I wouldn’t have hesitated to kill you in your sleep when you were in the garden.”

            Link looked to Navi and threw his arms up. “Some lookout you are,” he said to her, “Why didn’t you see this woman? I’ll bet she was here all night just to make sure I didn’t do anything.”

            “Well, excuse me for not looking out for silent guardian-assassins, flower boy.” Navi said.

            “We must leave,” Impa said, “Time is of the essence. Come with me; if the guards catch you, there will be trouble.”

            Link shrugged. “Fine. I’d rather just get out my own way, but this works too.”

            As they started to leave, Zelda said, “Wait! I need to know…” She went up to Link and asked, “What’s your name?”

            “…Link. Anything else?”

            “Yes…Lift up your hood.”

            “What?!” Link cried.

            “I want to see your face. All I see I your mouth.”

            “No dice. The hood stays on.”

            “I could always get Impa to get it off, if you’d prefer that instead.”

            Link looked back at Impa, who was cracking her knuckles. He sighed, then pulled it back. The green hood never left his fingers, but his head was still visible and exposed.

            “You look just like the one in the dreams…”

            Link pulled it back up when she said that. “Can I go now?”

            “Yes, yes, go.”

            And so Link, Navi, and Impa left, disappearing around the corner and into the garden.

            Zelda stood for a long time. Just like the dream. Can he really be it…?



Chapter VII: The Journey of a Thousand Miles…


            Before too long, the trio found themselves outside of the town and on the edge of the vast fields of Hyrule. Link wondered where the skeletons went during the daytime.

            Impa pointed to the east, towards the mountain that jutted out of the horizon. “Do you see that mountain, boy?” she asked.

            “I’m not blind, lady.” Link snapped.

            “Watch your sharp tongue, or I’ll dull it. That is Death Mountain. It is home to the Gorons. A nice people, but very prideful. They have the Spiritual Stone of Fire, the Goron’s Ruby.”

            “A ruby, huh?” Link inquired.

            Impa nodded. “Yes. It illuminates the entire city in its own light.”

            Link stared blankly up at the lone mountain peak. “It shouldn’t be too hard to find, then.” He said.

            “Indeed. The other one is over there,” Impa pointed to the river that flowed from an opening in the rock, “That is the domain of the Zoras. Their stone is the Zora’s Sapphire.”

            Link made a mental note to remember how to get there. Just follow the river, he thought.

            “You’re heading out on a new adventure, aren’t you? The road will be tough, and the trials will be hard, but do not-”

            “Yeah, yeah. Don’t give up and all that crap. Trust me, lady, twenty-five thousand is an offer that I can’t pass up.”

            Impa crossed her arms. “Such an adult attitude. Very well. Before you go, I must teach you something, something that will help you on the road ahead.”

            “Fine. Make it quick.”

            “I’m going to teach you a song. Don’t forget it; there are powers within the notes.” Impa brought her fingers to her mouth and played a slow, sweet tune.

            Link sighed, pulled out Saria’s ocarina, and mimicked the tune. “There,” he said once he had done so, “I got it. Why is this so important, anyway?”

            “This song was a lullaby passed down through the royal family. It will show your ties to the princess and the king. Use it when you feel stuck.” Impa made a very fast movement after she had said that. She pulled out a deku nut, whipped it at the ground, and blinded Link for a second.

            Link rubbed his eyes and cursed. “What’s the big deal, Link?”

            “She used my move on me…damn.”

            Impa was nowhere to be found when Link’s sight returned. He shrugged, tightened his belt, and began to walk along the road. The mountain was quite a distance away, and he’d have to go until late evening. “Good thing I can make it there before nightfall. I don’t need those skeleton bastards creeping up at me again.”

            “Link, I have to ask,” Navi said, “Why did you wake Malon’s father up?”

            “Because he ran right down to that gate. When they let him out, people swarm in. That guard deserved it. What kind of king won’t see the common people? Outrageous. I still remember the look on his face when Impa escorted me by him.”

            Navi surprised herself when she laughed just a little. Gods, he’s a bad influence. Why did I laugh at that? Her eyes caught something sticking out of Link’s knapsack. “Link, wait! Did you put this here?”

            Link turned and asked, “What are you talking about? Where?” Navi flew to the spot on Link’s pack and showed him. Link curiously snatched it out of the pocket, looked at it, and said, “Man, she puts me to shame…that old bag reverse-pickpocketed me!”

            “What is it?” Navi asked, looking over his shoulder.

            “It’s a map…and a note.” Link read the note quickly. “This is supposed to show that I’m ‘Under orders to save Hyrule.’ Signed by the princess.”

            “Who do you think is supposed to see this?”

            “I don’t know. Perhaps there is a guard station at the foot of the mountain,” Link looked more closely at the map he was given, “Wow. Not just a station. A whole freaking town. Kakariko Village…interesting.”

            Navi knew what he was thinking. “We don’t have time to waste with petty thievery! You have to get that ruby, remember?”

            Link stowed the map away and shrugged. “Fine. If an opportunity presents itself, though, I’m taking it. Got it?”

            Navi sighed. “Fine, whatever.” Please, Gods, keep his eyes on his destiny!

            Kakariko Village wasn’t too far away; Link was surprised at how fast he got there. It was just after midday, and the guard at the main gate loudly announced the time when Link passed through the gate. Both him and Navi had the same thought: I would hate to be him.

            The town itself was rather quaint in its style. A great windmill slowly turned, the sound of cuccos could be heard around the town, and there were some builders bustling about on their latest project. The few residents of the town seemed to ignore Link for the most part.

            He wouldn’t have had it any other way. Best to stay anonymous. When I steal that ruby, people are going to ask a lot of questions, he thought, First thing’s first, though. Where is the path that leads to the mountain?

            It didn’t take him long to find it; the gate was rather obvious with the guard standing guard out front. Link walked up to him and said, “I need to get through. Princess Zelda said that I could.”

            As Link expected, the guard just laughed in his face. “Look, kid, I admire the fact that you’d be brave enough to lie that badly, but only those with handwritten permission-”

            Link pulled out the slip of paper without a word and gave it to the man, who read it and laughed again. “Wahaha! What kind of silly games is our princess playing now? Well, I guess if you got the right papers, you can get through, Mr. Hero!” He unlocked the gate and slid it open, allowing Link to pass through. The guard was still laughing to himself when Link went through and proceeded up the path.

            As the village grew smaller and smaller in the distance, Link could see much farther than he could ever see before. He could see the castle and even Lon Lon Ranch over the horizon. “Nice view,” Navi said in awe.

            “A good vantage point, I’d have to agree,” Link said, also in awe of the sight, “Now’s not the time to get distracted. I’ve got a ruby to steal.”

            “What?” Navi said as they moved onward, “You’re going to steal it?! I thought that you were going to get it with the royal family’s permission!”

            “I’m not one of them. Besides, even if I were to lie, they’d never believe me.”

            “Why not?”

            “Look at me. I’m a kid. They’d probably expect someone who’s a bit…more outstanding, and with more of an entourage.”

            “I’m here, you’re not alone.”

            “Oh, sorry, they’ll see a kid and a shiny bug. It won’t work. If they’re as prideful as Impa says, then they’ll really never let me have it.”

            Navi heard a noise. It sounded like something dropping, but she dismissed it as a rock. They were on a mountain, after all.

            “It’ll be easy. All I have to do is look for the shiny rock that lights the whole city up, grab it, and run away while everyone’s in the dark. No muss, no fuss, and no one knows who did it.”

            Again with that noise, Navi thought. “But what if they think that the royal family took it? We don’t want to start a feud or gods forbid a war.”

            Link heard the noise this time, and suddenly became wary. His pace slowed, his hand slowly migrated to the Kokiri’s Sword, and he looked around. “War or no war, I’m still stealing it. Perhaps Princess Zelda can pardon me if I turn out to get in trouble.”

            The noise again, only clearer. Scratching, thudding, clicking noises. Getting closer and louder. Where are you, you sneaky bastard? Link wondered.

            He suddenly got his answer. The red tekkite landed right on top of him, and he didn’t have enough time to draw his weapon. “Crap!” Link yelled, “Get off of me, you pest!” With a push, he heaved the tekkite onto its back and held it there while he took the weapon and plunged it into the exposed underside. A slimy jet of gore spat out when he withdrew the blade and hit him in the face.

            Link calmly wiped it off and kicked the creature aside as he wiped his weapon clean. As he was doing so, he noticed a few slim streaks of red going across his arm. “Son of a bitch cut me,” he said in contempt.

            “Are you alright?” Navi asked.

            “Fine. Just fine. No thanks to you.”

            “What did you want me to do? I’m a fairy, remember? Not too much going on in the strength department.”

            “I guess,” Link said as he pulled out a bandage wrap out of his knapsack and applied it to the cuts, “I can’t see everywhere, though. I hate to ask this, but…”

            Navi flew a little closer and smugly asked, “What? Go on.” She was really enjoying this, him asking her for help with something. The irony was delicious.

            “…I need you…to watch my back. There, I said it.”

            “Why should I? What did you do to deserve my help?”

            “Knock it off. We both know that out there there’s bound to be some things that I won’t be able to handle. And let’s not forget that old tree’s last wish, shall we?”

            Navi knew that he was right, and for once she agreed with him. “Alright. Don’t expect me to be of much other use, though.”

            “I hadn’t counted on it.”

            They continued up the path, which zigzagged back and forth sporadically. Who made this path? Link wondered wearily. They went up and up until they came across a cave of sorts. This cave, however, was entirely blocked off by a large boulder that fell in front of it. A sign on the outside read, Dodongo’s Cavern, in very scribbled letters. As they surveyed the scene, they both thought of just how primitive these people must be.

            “They must be just people who haven’t embraced our technology yet,” Navi suggested. As they continued onward.

            “Primitive, futuristic, whatever. All I need to know is where their city is...wait, what the…?”

            “Look out!” Navi shouted.

Link barely dodged the rolling rock that barreled past him. As he looked back at it, he was even more surprised to see that it exploded for seemingly no reason. The rock flew straight up into the air, landed back onto the ground, and held still.

As did Link. He didn’t have a clue what this rock was going to do next, but he didn’t imagine that he’d want to be reckless in finding out. He tiptoed up to it and examined it further. “What kind of rock-”

The question was never finished, but certainly answered. It sprang up, stretched it’s legs, and let out a groan as it stood up. Link fell back and let out a surprised yell as he saw it happen. The rock-creature turned around and gave Link a curious look. “Well, hello there,” it said, “What brings a youngster like yourself up here?”

Link took his time answering. He got up, brushed himself off, and replied, “Not much, just some fetching chore. Let me guess, you’re a Goron?”

The Goron beat his round belly and said, “Yep, born and raised. Hey, you’ve got to be more careful around here. We’ve been at it day and night trying to get that cave open.”

“The cave? Oh, I get it,” Link said, “You’re trying to blow the cave open. Good luck with that.” Wow, primitive is such an understatement…

“Is your city anywhere nearby?” Navi asked.

The Goron pointed a thick, meaty arm towards the path ahead, “Yes, it’s just around the bend. I hope that you find what you need!”

Link nodded and continued on. It didn’t take long at all, despite the frequent encounters with rolling Gorons. When Link saw the carved entrance to the subterranean city, he paused. “Navi,” he asked, “This city is supposed to be illuminated. Why is it that there is no light coming from that cave?”

“I don’t know,” Navi answered, now just as curious as he was, “Do you think that the ruby is gone?”

Link ran to the entrance and said, “It better not be, or someone’s going down!”

The city itself was still illuminated, but by the orange glow of torches, not by the shine of an enchanted gem. The tiers of the city made a jagged funnel, leading down to a flat rotunda where a great clay urn sat motionless. Suspended above the city was a small platform that had on it only a smaller pedestal. The pedestal was very empty, and the triangular hollow was a testament to what had been there before.

Link kicked the ground in frustration. “What the fuck?! No way! Where is it?!”

“Calm down! It’s got to be here somewhere,” Navi said, “Perhaps you should ask around.”

Link took a deep breath and sighed. “Fine. Let’s find one of these stoneheads and put them to good use.”

He had to go down a floor before he found one. When he tried to ask the Goron, though, it did not stir, and kept snoring away. “Man,” Link said under his breath, “What a lazy people.” He went down another floor only to find it vacant of Gorons. He then descended to the final floor, where some were crowded around the urn and talking. “Excuse me,” he asked the first available one, “Hi. I need to ask you something.”

The Goron said, “Very well, youngster, what is it?”

“That hollow up there,” Link said as he pointed to the suspended pedestal, “What used to be there?” He already knew the answer, but asking this way would make him seem innocent once the Goron told him where it was.

“Up there? That used to be where our Light-Rock used to be. It made this whole place shine bright without the torches. At least, it did, before Big Brother Darunia took it into his chamber.”

“Big Brother Darunia? Who’s that?” Link inquired.

“He’s our chief,” the Goron said, pointing to the sealed stone door marked in red paint, “He took the stone after the Dark Stranger came and visited. Big Brother was very upset, and ever since, the Dodongo’s Cavern has been shut!”

“I saw that,” Link said, “But what’s so important about the cavern, anyway?”

“Little one, we Gorons eat solid rock. That cave holds some of the most nutritious rock around, and was our primary food supply. But ever since it closed up, we’ve had to eat our own city! It used to be much nicer, trust me.”

Thank you, Goron,” Link said, “You’ve been a big help.”

“No problem. Hey, did you see anyone from the royal family coming up the mountain? We’ve been waiting for them for a long time to show up.”

Link suddenly had an idea. “I am the one you speak of,” he loudly proclaimed.

All the Gorons suddenly stopped their conversations and stared at him. “Link,” Navi whispered to him, “What do you think you’re doing? You said yourself that this wouldn’t-”

“Yes, good people,” Link said, ignoring her, “His majesty’s royal council has sent me to learn about your dire situation, and I have heard it loud and clear! Allow me to speak to Big Brother Darunia, so we may begin to formulate a plan for this need.”

The Gorons were easily fooled. They shouted cheers of joy and made a path for him to get to the sealed door. Navi flew in front of Link and asked, “Now what? This isn’t going to work, you know.”

“The plan has changed. All I need to find out where it is, and then I can steal it.” As they stopped in front of the door, Link knocked as loudly as he could. However, the sounds did not penetrate the thick slab. “Can one of you help me?” Link said to the Gorons. The nearest one walked up and hammered on the rock. This time, a response was heard, “Who is it?! I told you that I’m waiting for the royal family’s representative!”

The Goron who helped Link shouted back, “But, Big Brother, he is here!”

“I cannot believe it! I need proof before I open this door! If you have ties to the King, then by all means let it be known! Otherwise Leave me alone!

“Sounds like a happy fellow…” Navi said.

“What does he want from me?” Link said. His mind raced for a few seconds, and then he found a solution. “Gorons,” he said turning around, “The proof is a secret code, and I need you all to clear away so that it cannot be heard by you! Do not think of me as cruel, it is just how things are run!”

The Gorons quickly scattered and disappeared. “Link, what was the point of that?” Navi asked.

“They were really starting to get on my nerves, and they smell funny,” Link explained, “Now, this door…he wants proof…what can I do…”

They stood there and thought for a second. Link decided to sit down and think it over, but when he did, he felt a bulge in his knapsack. “Aha! I’ve got it!” he exclaimed to Navi.

“What do you mean?”

Link reached into his knapsack and pulled out Saria’s ocarina. “This! I need to play that ridiculous lullaby that the old bag taught me. She said something about it proving ties to the King, or something like that.” Link played the tune as best he could, and to his delight, the door slowly opened upward.

“Man, what luck you have.” Navi said.

“Thief’s luck, I guess,” Link said as he entered the dimmed chamber, “Now to find this ruby.”

The chamber was lit up by a small amount of torches, and standing near the back adjacent to a statue of a spear-wielding Goron was Darunia. The great Goron had a scowl on his face as Link approached him. “What is this,” he said, “I expect to hear from a member of the royal family, and I am presented with a child? Does the King care so little for our plight? Explain yourself now, child.”

“Easy, big fella,” Link said, “It’s truth time. I, as you already may have guessed, am not part of the royal family. In fact, they don’t even know about me. Well, only the princess does, anyway.”

Darunia’s amber eyes narrowed. “So, why go to such lengths to infiltrate my chambers? Are you here to assassinate me?”

Navi began to panic slightly, “NO, no sir, we’re just, uh…”

Link pulled her away and stuffed her into his hood. “No, there’s no price on your head. At least, not as far as I know, anyway. I came here on the Princess Zelda’s orders to get the Goron’s Ruby.”

Darunia bore his tan rock teeth, “You lie! That stinking, putrid Gannondorf said the same! Why should I believe you?”

Link was intrigued at the mentioning of Gannondorf, but he didn’t show it on his face. “If you won’t give it to me, fine. Just tell me where it is. You see, the princess is concerned about the well-being of the stones, what with that Gannondorf guy running around. Just tell me if it’s safe, then I can be on my way.”

Darunia laughed a deep, bellowing thunder. “HA! Did the little one believe that there is a fortress like Death Mountain? It is safe here,” Darunia said, showing Link the statue behind him, “In this solid rock, our ruby will remain untouched by Gannondorf or anyone else!”

Gotcha, Link thought. “Thanks for telling me. What would it take to get it out of there?”

Darunia’s smile quickly changed back into a scowl. “Why so eager to get our stone? Why does the Princess Zelda need it so badly? You seem like a very suspicious individual to be asking such bold questions.”

“Please. I’m a child, remember?”

“Child or not, we Gorons don’t trust outsiders. We’ve been tricked too many times before.”

“Like with your Dodongo’s Cavern?” Link asked, crossing his arms.

“Especially with our caverns! Gannondorf sealed them up when I told him of our stone. He said that he would only open it once he got it, but I could tell that that man was evil! Evil in the name!”

Link thought about this turn of events. They want the cave open…They’d probably trust me if I helped them out…Trust me enough to go to the caves while I steal the ruby! Perfect! “What if some caring individual were to, oh, I don’t know, open the caves back up? Would that individual be entitled to a reward?”

Darunia laughed his thunderous laugh again, “Nonsense! Even if you were to get the cavern open, there is still an infestation to deal with. We call it Dodongo’s Cavern for a reason, you know.”

“Infestation?” Link asked.

“I take it you’ve never heard of Dodongos, then. I’m not about to tell you, either. If you want to find out so badly, then go ahead and try to get in! We’ve been going at it for days now, and have yet to get close.”

“You can’t deal with the Dodongos, then? I understand. We all get scared sometimes.”

“Scared? Ha! It is not the small ones that need to be feared! It is the King Dodongo. He breeds them faster than anything alive. If he dies, though, then the infestation would stop.”

Link clasped his hands behind his head. “Ah. I see. So, if I were to slay this beast, then a reward would come my way? A cash reward?”

Darunia laughed for a third time. “If you want to throw your life away, child, then do so. Sure, if you somehow manage to clear our cavern, then I’ll give you the ruby. I’ll even give you five hundred rupees. But I know that you won’t even come close. Have fun trying! Ha!”

Darunia continued to laugh as Link slipped out of the chamber and up the stairs of the city. The stairs seemed to wind around in no discernable pattern and it took time to get to the top tier again. “Navi,” Link asked as they exited the city, “What was that Goron’s big mistake?”

Navi didn’t know what Link was talking about. “What do you mean?”

“His mistake. It was underestimating me. I was going to go ahead and steal it, but if I did, I wouldn’t get the extra five hundred.”

“I didn’t think I would ever say this,” Navi said weakly, “But don’t you think that the better option would be to steal it? You’re just taking unnecessary risks here!”

Link just stared at her for a moment, then smiled. “I’m rubbing off on you, Navi.”

Navi realized in that moment how right he was, and it made her furious. “Fine! Whatever! Go do what you need to do! You just…Ugh!”

Link let her vent as he walked to a lookout point that presided above the cave. From there, he could see a steady stream of Gorons rolling down, only to explode several feet away from the sealed cavern. “How are they blowing up like that?” Link asked. His question was answered immediately when a Goron walked past him, stooped over a peculiar, bulbous plant, and picked it. The flower started to hiss, and the Goron quickly rolled down the hill as fast as he could.

Navi had a thought, “Why do they keep trying this if it doesn’t work?”

“Primitive, remember? They’ve got it all wrong.” He waited for a Goron to come to him, and then stopped it from going down the hill. “Wait! What do you think that you’re doing?”

The Goron looked confused. “We’re taking these Bomb Flowers down to the cavern. We’re trying to blow it up.”

Link sighed. “How long have you people been trying this?”

“For a few days now. We keep getting closer, I can feel it!”

Link took the creature’s hand and led him to the edge of the lookout point. He then said, “Pick one of the flowers for me, then bring it here.”

The Goron did so, but he had an expression of genuine bewilderment on his face. He quickly brought the unstable flora to Link, who then tossed it over the edge. The flower landed right next to the boulder, and with a loud explosion shattered it into pieces. “There,” Link said, dusting his hands, “Happy? Honestly.”

The Goron was ecstatic. He rushed inside of the city and began to yell to the whole place that the cavern was open. By the time everyone had gotten out of there to see it, Link was already inside, ready to face whatever was in the hot maw of the Dodongo’s Cavern.



Chapter VIII: Explosive Spelunking


            Link immediately felt the heat as he entered the cavern. The humidity and the faint smell of rot filled the air, but it did not deter Link from his mission. “Link,” Navi said, “Why don’t you take off your hood? It would be a lot more comfortable, I’d bet.”

            He did not take it off, but rather tug it down tighter. “No. It stays on, no matter what.”

            “Why? Why wear it in the first place?”

            “I…don’t know. It just feels right. Like I feel more secure with it on.”

            Navi was surprised by the apparent vulnerability, “Really?”

            “Of course not,” Link snapped, “It’s there because I don’t want people seeing my face! Jeez.” Navi was silent after that. She didn’t know what to think.

            With the silence granted, Link walked deeper into the cave. He thought that the cave was as narrow as the entrance was until he saw the great size of the main chamber. The floor was a mess; rocks and stones were strewn about everywhere. The walls seemed to go up forever, as the light from the small circle of cooled lava on the floor didn’t reach up there. In the center of this lava was a series of islands that rose high above the molten rock, and they were all within the dead gaze of an enormous fossilized skull, whose mouth was clamped shut in a sinister grin.

            “Remarkable,” Navi said, “The Gorons did this with nothing but their bare hands!”

            Link was not as impressed. “It’s a cave. Not just a cave, a cave that smells like shit. Where do you think this ‘King Dodongo’ might be?”

            “Like you said, it’s a cave. It’s got to be around here somewhere.”

            “True…it’s not just going to just come out and greet us, is it? If it wants to be hunted, then I’ll play along. Let’s go.”

            They went along and hopped from island to island until they reached the center, which was easily larger than all of the others. A good vantage point to determine where to go to next. After weighing the options briefly, they decided to go to the closest of the smaller rooms. The Goron doors were large, but somehow not heavy; Link was able to push them up with only a small effort. The room that he opened and went into was dark, and it only got darker when the stone slab slammed behind him. Navi’s light shined brightly and lit up the first few feet, which was enough to show that the room was not entirely empty. The dirt and grime on the ground had been clearly disturbed recently, by something that dragged itself along the ground. The three-clawed footprints dug into the rock itself, leaving small gougings in its wake.

            “Navi, I need you to do something,” Link said calmly as he withdrew his blade, “I want you to fly around and distract whatever is in here.”

            “What?! I’m not going to be bait! You’re out of your mind!” Navi protested.

            “It’s either you fly around or you hide. I’m guessing that these Dodongo things can see in the dark pretty well.”

            Navi thought about it for a second, sighed, and flew around the room in random patterns. The sound of heavy breath and even heavier footsteps echoed off of the walls, and Navi became scared as they got louder. She looked around for the source and saw what the Gorons were so afraid of. A long lizard clomped around the floor, staring at her with glowing eyes. The creature’s breath inhaled deeply, and then launched a stream of fire that barely missed her.

            “Oh, Gods! Link! Help!” she screamed. No response. “Link! This thing is going to kill me!”

            Link heard her cry for help and was annoyed. Just settle down, for the love of Nayru! I need to find some kind of weak point…

            The Dodongo spewed fire again, and Navi again dodged it by inches. “Link! Come on!” She was genuinely scared now; the feeling that he abandoned her to this fate overwhelmed her.

            Link sighed, but otherwise made no other sound. When the flames of the creature illuminated the room another time, he saw his opening. The face and arms seem like they’re scaled, but not the tail, he thought as he swiftly ran up to the monster from behind, The rear is the weak point! With a howl, he leapt up into the air and brought the Kokiri’s Sword down into the vulnerable back of the beast. The blade went clean through, and he felt it hit solid rock.

            The dodongo let out a pained cry and spun around in a flash, throwing Link off and leaving his weapon embedded in the flesh of the creature. Damn, Link thought, I need my sword back! The dodongo inhaled as much as it could, but when it launched another stream of fire, it was considerably smaller. The sword punctured one of the lungs, and the beast was unable to draw up as much breath as before. Link effortlessly dodged it, and ran up right to the lizard, jumping onto its back and pulling out the sword.

            He then stabbed again, only this time the creature made no noise. The blade pierced the heart and cut the life of the monster short. It let out a last breath, then collapsed to the ground. Link withdrew his weapon and cleaned it off of the blood. “Link, you idiot! I could’ve died!” Navi shouted furiously.

            He ignored her; his mind was focused on something more interesting. The dodongo’s blood smells like one of those bomb flowers, he wondered as he walked away, does that mean it-

            The explosion of the carcass threw Link off of his feet, and rolled him against the wall, hitting him in the head and making his thoughts spin. When he came to, Navi was yelling desperately, “Link! We need to get out of this room! Now! Look!”

            Link obliged, and quickly agreed. A mass of the monsters was clambering towards them, far too many to fight off at once. He sprang to his feet, bolted to the door, and pushed it up. He then ran out of the dark and into the great chamber, waiting for the door to close behind him. To his undying relief, the slab closed before a single dodongo could pursue him any further.

            Feeling winded, Link sat down and wiped his forehead of sweat and blood. The head injury was only minor, but it still bled quite a bit. “Alright,” Link said, “Alright. So we know it’s not in there. That leaves the chamber over there.”

            “I doubt it,” Navi said, “If I were to guess at it, I’d say that this King Dodongo is far larger than any of the one’s we escaped from.”

            “Hmm. You mean that the one that we’re after couldn’t fit into those little rooms, right?”

            “Probably not, so that leaves us with…what?”

            Link looked around the room and searched for another route with his eyes. He didn’t find any, but he did spot a stone plaque, situated on a square statue. He got up, walked over to it, and read it aloud, “‘Here lies the great Dodongo King. When he sees red, his maw will open wide.’ What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

            Navi was confused, as well. “Maybe it’s a riddle.”

            “No, ya think? Of course it’s a riddle,” Link pointed to the skull that dominated the cavern, “Make it see red…How would we do that? Is it literal?”

            Navi flew up to it and stared into the eyes. There didn’t seem to be anything special about them, but there was a pile of strange powder stashed in each. “Link,” She hollered down to him, “There’s some kind of powder in here!”

            Link shouted back, “Wha-a-a-t?”

            “I said there’s some weird powder in here!”

            Link had a thought. “What does it smell like?”

            Navi was confused, but she smelled it, and responded, “It smells like rotten eggs!”

            Link suddenly knew what the cryptic plaque meant. “We have to light the eyes on fire! That powder is explosive!”

            Navi flew back to him and asked, “Really? How do you know that?”

            “The bomb flowers smell like rotten eggs, too,” Link explained, “So did the dead dodongo’s blood. I’m guessing that the powder is derived from one of the two, or maybe even both.”

            “But how will blowing the eyes up open the skull, and why would we want to do that?”

            Link crossed his arms. “Well, genius, I would imagine that this Gannondorf guy had something to do with this whole infestation thing. If that were the case, then he would probably try to keep the source of it all hidden, so no one could stop it.”

            Navi saw only one flaw, “But why is there that plaque there? It seems to serve no purpose other than to help anyone trying to undo him.”

            Link thought about this fact for a second, then shrugged. “I guess it’s there in case he forgot how to get it back open. If he wanted to, anyways. Now, let’s get to lighting that old skull up.” He looked around on the ground and pocketed one of the strewn flint stones, which he would use to start the fires

            Link climbed the pitted skull with ease. Time had left small cracks and holes in the bony surface, making the ascent much quicker. He cautiously walked to the great eye sockets, then took out his sword. He then took out his piece of flint and struck it repeatedly until the explosive powder cracked to life. The powder didn’t explode, but it burned a bright red. Link did the same with the other socket, and in no time at all both eyes were glowing a brilliant cherry-red. Link felt the success come to play as the skull shook violently, the lower jaw wearily sliding open.

            Link made the descent slower than he had climbed. He didn’t want to rush and fall down into the magma pits below after all he did. The climb down was successful, and Link found himself walking into the throat of the monstrous skull. There was no King Dodongo, but Link did notice right away the freshly-placed square of earth in the center of the room. He put his hands on the spot, and then his pointy ear. The giant square was warmer than the ground around it, and below he could hear strange sounds muffled by the recently-placed earth. “Navi,” Link said as he stood up, “The King Dodongo is under here. Guess Gannondorf is smarter than your average troublemaker.”

            “How are we supposed to get there, then? It’s not just dirt, it’s rock.”

            Link looked around, and saw a mysterious patch of plants in the corner to his left. He investigated, and sure enough, they were none other than bomb flowers. “Man,” Link said as he picked one and heaved it to the square, “My luck just keeps getting better.” The flower exploded and made the ground burst open. Link looked into the hole, and down it saw no signs of life. He did see the crimson glow of a lava lake surrounded by a circle of land, but no giant lizard to speak of.

            “Navi, I don’t see it. I’m going down there.”

            “Wait, Link, don’t-!”

            Too late. Link jumped down into the pit. He seriously misjudged the height, and upon landing he felt a painful crack in his left ankle. Link screamed in pain and clutched the injured limb. Navi rushed down to see the damage. The ankle didn’t break, but it was visibly crippled.

            Link remembered Saria’s warning a thousand times over as he focused on a way to make this pain go away. Well, it wasn’t my neck, so you’re still wrong, Saria…

            “Link, just try to relax, alright? Try to focus on something else!”

            Link looked around the room, and unfortunately found something. “Navi, I found something to focus on!”

            “Good! What is it?”

            Link sprang to his feet and immediately fell on the pained foot. “Fucking that!” Link said as he pointed behind Navi.

            She turned around and stared blankly and the colossal, black lizard that was actively lumbering towards them. The King Dodongo shook the earth with each thunderous step, and it bellowed a great roar when it saw Link and Navi.

            “Link…” Navi said with an obvious concern.

            “I know! It’s right there! Get out of the way!” Link shouted as he hobbled as fast as he could away from the monster.

            The great dodongo screamed again, and rolled its scaly body along the ground in an effort to crush the small green intruder. It didn’t know why, but its natural instinct was to kill. Just kill anything it sees. No reasoning, just a blind malice that could not be quenched.

            Link barely made it away from the initial roll of the ebony lizard, and it crashed headlong into the solid rock wall, erupting a cloud of dust and debris. Link ran as fast as he could the other way, despite the intense pain that stabbed his ankle. Link made it halfway to the wall when he heard the familiar sound of a deeply inhaling breath behind him. He looked back and realized exactly what the creature was doing. Link dropped to the ground and covered his head. The giant gust of fire passed over him, setting parts of his tunic on fire. Link got up and patted them out before he got burned, and once again dodged out of the path that the King Dodongo rolled through. This time, the reptile went past the corner and to the other wall, cornering Link.

            “Link! Think of something!” Navi yelled worriedly.

            “Dammit, What do you think I’m doing?!” Link fired back. Shit, I need some kind of opening, or this thing’s going to kill me!

            He desperately scanned his surroundings for something, anything, that could help him out. His eyes somehow found his way to his feet, where he saw the familiar sight of the bulbous bomb flowers. As the King Dodongo inhaled to incinerate the air a second time, Link’s mind suddenly saw his chance. He picked the flower, hauled as close as he could to the open jaws of the monster, and heaved it with whatever strength he could muster. The flower was sucked in by the winds that were created by the great beast, and it swallowed the bomb whole.

For a moment that seemed like an eternity, nothing in that chamber moved.

            Then, the flower erupted, and gore flew from the King Dodongo’s howling mouth. It fell onto its side, struggling for air as it choked on its own blood. Link drew his sword, limped over to the exposed belly of the giant lizard, and slit it open. The gargantuan rolled over into the lava with a scream as its life blood spilled out, cooling the lava and sealing the corpse within the steaming mound of now solid rock.

            Link collapsed after sheathing his sword, exhausted. “I…need…to get out…of this stupid cave.” He panted.

            “Link, look! It’s that blue light again!”

            He opened his eyes and saw that it had appeared, and before he knew it, he was lying outside of the cavern in the view of several Gorons. They were all muttering to themselves; Link couldn’t figure out what they were saying. When he got to his feet, they cheered. “He’s alive! Hooray!” They all shouted and applauded.

            “Wow,” Navi said, “It looks like they were all waiting for you!”

            “Wow, do they want a fucking cookie? I’m dying here! Where’s that fat-ass Darunia?!”

            Darunia came through the crowd when he said that, but he let it roll off of his back. “Well, child,” he said, “It would appear that you’ve succeeded, then. That man Gannondorf starved my people to try and get our stone, you know.”

            “And I risked my ass to help you out,” Link said, “Didn’t we have some kind of agreement about that? Oh, that’s right!”

            Darunia smiled and said, “I like you, kid,” he turned to the rest of the Gorons and said, “What do you think, brothers? What of him?” A loud cheer unanimously erupted from the crowd. “Very well! From now on, you are a friend of Gorons! You may have the Goron’s Ruby!”

            Link tried to stand at his feet, but he fell down. When Darunia presented the gem, Link had to take it with one hand, for his other was holding him up. He slipped the gold-laced ruby into his knapsack and tried to stand up again, only to fail once more.

            “Brothers,” Darunia said, “Take him to the Great Fairy, for he has been injured in the fight with the King Dodongo! As for the rest of you, what say we go hunting?”

            Another unanimous cheer, and soon all of them rushed into the cavern to rid the cave of the remaining Dodongos. One Goron stayed behind, however, and picked Link up with a meaty arm, cradling him as he started to climb the sheer wall of the mountain.

            Link would have protested, but he was far too tired. Fine. Let’s go see this so-called Great Fairy, then.

            “What a privilege! To see the Great Fairy! I wonder which one it is…” Navi said excitedly as the Goron swiftly carried Link up the mountain.

            When the Goron reached the summit, he brought him to a small cave. The inside was, to Link’s surprise, very elaborate and clean. The walls seemed to shimmer in their own mysterious light, and the white tiles on the floor further accented the tranquility of the room. The fountain that dominated the center didn’t flow, but the waters were crystal-clear, and they rippled slightly when Link was placed down onto the altar. “You should be fine now,” the Goron eagerly said, “I need to get back down to the caves before all the good dodongos are hunted!”

            Link saw him leave, then made himself stand on his feet. The waters stirred more, and the sound of a woman’s laughter echoed throughout the chamber. It didn’t take long for the Great Fairy to appear, and she materialized out of the clear water, her long red hair dancing over its surface. Link stared in bewilderment at the fairy, and she returned the stare with one of her own. “Link,” the Great Fairy said, “I am the Great Fairy of Magic!”

            “Good for you,” Link said sarcastically, “How’s about you use it to fix me up?”

            The Great Fairy seemed to ignore him, and continued, “I will bestow a magical gift upon you. Receive it now!”

            “Wait, what?” Link asked, “Hey, I didn’t ask for any…weird…gift…”

            The fairy’s magic brought a feeling of euphoria over him, and he felt as if he was in a dream. When the magic subsided, the pain in his ankle was gone, and he felt the scratches from the tekkite disappear from his arm. “Whoa,” he said, “What did you do?”

            “I have given you a gift of power,” the Great Fairy said, “My gift reflects the nature of a person’s heart. Yours is a rogue heart, and it will give you a blessing of skill.”

            Navi gasped. “Link! Do you know how privileged you are? A Great Fairy can only give out such a gift once every hundred years!”

            “Whoo-hoo,” Link said, rolling his eyes, “What does all of that even mean?”

            The Great Fairy learned close and said, “Child, back away and grab the hilt of your weapon.”

            Link shrugged and did so.

            “Now, focus on me. Focus on attacking me with a draw. Do not worry, as I cannot be unharmed by it.”

            “I wasn’t planning on it.” Link said blankly as he concentrated. This seems strange, he thought, But I swear I feel something from my weapon. It’s…almost like it’s vibrating.

            “Attack!” the Great Fairy cried.

            Link could not believe what happened next. When he withdrew the sword and dashed at the Great Fairy, time seemed to slow down. He saw the waters freeze, Navi’s wings slowed down, and he could see a blur of himself when he looked behind him. He ran up to the Great Fairy and slashed, but somehow it seemed effortless, as if he wasn’t holding anything at all.

            When his attack was over, he just stood still. As he slowly sheathed his blade, he asked, “What just happened?”

            Navi answered, “You…just went from a standstill to where you are now… only you did it really, really fast.”

            “That is my gift,” the fairy said, “You will find it useful, no doubt, as it reflects your heart’s nature. Had you been of stout heart and noble character, it would be different.”

            “How different?” Link inquired.

            “Your weapon would blaze with fire if you spun around.”

            Link heard the words and burst out laughing. “Ha! Oh, that’s great! ‘Look at me! I’m spinning around like a ballerina!’ Wow, how useless would that be?”

            “Link! Don’t mock the Great Fairy!” Navi scolded.

            “Go now, child, May my gift help you fulfill your-”

            “AHHHH! I don’t want to hear it!” Link said as he fled the cave with his hands around his ears.

            “Link! Sorry, Great Fairy, he just-”

            “It is alright. Go.”

            Navi followed Link outside, where he was staring out over the cliff edge. “How considerate of the Gorons to leave me up here. How the hell am I supposed to get down?!”

            Behind him, Link heard a loud, “Hoooot! Enjoying the view, young lad?”

            Link’s head sank. Damn…Why would that stuffy old buzzard bother me now, of all times?

            “It looks like you’re in some sort of situation now, eh? Fear not, boy, as I have a solution! Grab hold of my talons, dear lad, and I shall fly you down to the village!”

            Link stared at the bird and grudgingly accepted. He grabbed the feet of the owl, and it took off, carrying Link down swiftly to the village and dropping him off onto a rooftop. The owl flew away after that, without a word. Link was wholeheartedly grateful for that, and soon he found himself on the ground level and leaving the village, ignoring the loud exclamation of the strange clock-guard.



Chapter IX: Pro Bono


            “Link,” Navi said as they stepped off of the stairs and into Hyrule field, “Something has been bothering me. Can you help explain something?”

            Link looked at the sky, with its first hint at sunset, and said, “I guess.”

            “Thank you. I’ve been wondering, just how is it you know so much about the world outside of the Kokiri Forest? You seemed to know what a princess was and what a castle was, and you had no problems with interacting with people. Just why is that?”

            “None of your business.”


            “Alright! Gods, you’re a pain,” Link said as he followed the river upstream, “I know so much because of my dreams, okay? I used to have these really intense dreams about what the world was like outside of that damned forest. I didn’t believe any of them until I actually saw the castle town for the first time. Satisfied?”

            It made sense to Navi. “Yes. Thanks for sharing.”

            Link grumbled under his breath, and followed the stream further. When he reached the alcove in the rock, he realized just how arduous the task of going upriver would be. The current was faster up here, and the water was deeper. He wondered why there were small, decrepit ruins dotting the land. Perhaps the Z…Zorna…Zoras, that’s it! Perhaps their city used to be much larger.

            He was admiring the ruins further when he heard that dreaded sound once again. “Hooot!”

            Gods dammit! Link thought as he buried his face into his palm.

            The owl was back, and it said, “Well, now, boy! Off to get that last one, no doubt? I would have imagined that you would have rested at least, but it seems your tenacity is fierce!”

            “I don’t have time to rest, and I definitely don’t have time for you or your incessant blabbering! What could you possibly want now?!”

            The owl ruffled its feathers and turned its head upside down. “Patience, dear lad, I have only one thing to say, and then you shall be free of me. At least for a while, anyways.”

            Link crossed his arms and huffed. “Make it quick.”

            “You are about to enter the realm of the Zoras,” the owl said, “These people are rather, shall we say, suspicious of outsiders. While the Gorons were prideful, but friendly, the Zoras distrust anyone who comes into their domain. If they want to speak to the outside world, they will come out to meet them.”

            “What are you trying to say? That I shouldn’t talk to them at all? That was my plan to begin with, genius. I didn’t need a stupid bird to tell me that they might be upset if I were to just ask for their most prized possession. Now, if you’re done wasting my time, I have a stone to steal.”

            “I find your impatience and lack of manners intolerable,” the owl warned, “However, I cannot change who you are. Carry on, then!” And the owl flew off, disappearing over the tall canyon of rock.

            Navi flew in front of Link, “You just don’t get it do you?! All that bird is trying to do is help us!”

            “I don’t need any information that I can figure out on my own. All that stupid owl does is waste my time. As a matter of fact, right now I’m wasting my time talking to you. Let’s go.”

            Link continued on, but Navi was still upset, and continued, “Why is it you think that you’re better than everyone else? I’m trying to help you too, you know!”

            “Why is that?” Link asked, “Are you so dedicated to that dead tree that you would follow me around? It’s clear that you don’t want to, so why do it?”

            Navi was speechless. “I…Because…I…I don’t know. I don’t know! It just feels like something that I have to do! Like it’s desti-”

            “Don’t even think about saying it! If you’re under the impression that the Goddesses are guiding my path, then you need to wake up! I’m getting these stupid gems because there’s a fortune waiting for them, got it?!”

            “I can’t believe that! Look what’s happened so far! ‘By coincidence,’ the highest bidder is the one who wants to use the stones to stop evil from happening! It’s not by chance that you took up the job of slaying that King Dodongo, either! The Goddesses are making you their hero, whether you want to or not!”

            Link stopped and became silent. His mouth was suddenly agape in realization. He stared up at the sky blankly.

            “Now do you see,” Navi continued, “Do you see what I mean?”

            “Screw what you’re talking about! I just realized that those asshole Gorons didn’t give me my fucking rupees! Gaaahh!” Link clutched his head and kicked a nearby stone in his rage. The rock sailed through the air and struck an octorock square in the eye, killing it and causing its carcass to float downstream. “How could I have been so stupid?! That was five hundred rupees we were talking here!”

            “Relax, Navi said, “A little Pro Bono work does a person good, you know?”

            Link growled. “Pro Bono. What a joke. Next time I go up there, they better pay in full!”

            They continued upriver, over bridges and rock arches, and even up a ladder. All the way up, Link was venting to himself about his forgetfulness. By the time they arrived at the source of the river, a great waterfall, the sun was setting, and the night was taking over rapidly. The arch that faced the waterfall was very flat, and it felt life stone when Link stepped on it.

            Link looked around, searching for the entrance to the Zora’s Domain. “Where is this place, anyway?” he asked Navi.

            “Like I know. There doesn’t seem to be any door or opening to speak of.” Navi searched around, and had a thought, “The Zoras are supposed to be some type of fish-people. Perhaps the entrance is under the water.”

            “If you think so, then check. You can’t drown, right?”

            Navi knew it, but she still didn’t like getting wet. As she dove under the white water and mist, she was dismayed to find no such entrance of any kind. When she came back up, wet and dripping, she shook herself off and said, “Nope. No door. Any other ideas?”

            Link put his hands on his hips and looked at his feet. When he did, he noticed that the stone ground he was standing on was an inscription: “Through these falls lies Zora’s Domain. When the King sleeps, so do the falls.”

            “What do you think it means?” Navi asked.

            “When the King sleeps…This is almost too easy,” Link said as he pulled out Saria’s ocarina and played Zelda’s lullaby. When he finished, the falls parted and the entrance could be seen clearly. “Man, that tune does everything.” He commented as he jumped from the arch and into the passage. The absence of light forced him to stay for a minute until his eyes adjusted to the inky blackness of the Zora’s Domain. Ahead, there were a few lit torches and some curious lights that seemed to emanate from nowhere at all. The sound of rushing water came from the waterfall overlooking the sunken lake. Link couldn’t make out any shapes that would suggest the Zora’s presence. I don’t like this, he thought, Just because I can’t see them doesn’t mean they can’t see me…I better stay away from those lights.

            He sidled along the stone walkway, listening for any sign of life that might be hiding in the dark. Up ahead, the path split into two paths. On one he could see a slope that ascended up to a higher cavern. The other diverted off to a lower level, down to where the lake was. As he approached the lower path, he at last heard the faint murmur of conversation. He was relieved a bit by this; paranoia was setting in before he heard the cluster of Zoras talking. He tiptoed closer until he could hear what they were peaking about.

            They were audibly nervous, and it was clear that something had them frantically arguing to each other. “All I know is that it’s been days! Why can’t we even find a trace?!” one said.

            “Don’t act as if you’re the only one who has a concern! We all want to find her as bad as you do!” another one said.

            “Where else can we look?! All of Lake Hylia has been scoured, not to mention every river in the land! Do you think that she was…you know…”

            “Don’t think that way! Any time now, we’ll see her return!”

            Link shook his head and turned around. Perhaps he’d have more luck going to the higher level. “Link,” Navi whispered, “Who do you think they were talking about?”

            “I don’t care. I guess I should be grateful that they’re all out searching for this person. It’s making this a whole lot easier.”

            “You don’t even know what this stone looks like. What makes you so sure you can just find it?”

            Link shrugged and smiled. “In case you forgot, I’m one of the luckiest sons of bitches in the world. It should come my way.”

            Navi groaned. “Why do I have a feeling that it’s not going to be easy?”

            Link proceeded up to the higher level quietly, but with some speed. The stone under his feet was hard to keep silent on; it reluctantly forced him to move slower and more deliberate. As he neared the top of the slope, he could hear the recognizable sounds of crying around the upcoming corner. More specifically, a man crying. Link sighed and peered around the wall.

            The King of Zoras was a mess. His eyes were red from his weeping, he looked pale (even for a Zora), and he was hyperventilating fiercely.  A few of his people were around the throne room, trying in vain to calm the great Zora down. “Oh, My poor little Ruto…” he blubbered, “This is all my fault!”

            “No, dear King! Don’t blame yourself! She will turn up soon, I know it!” one of the comforters said.

            The King Zora shook his head and cried more. That poor man, Navi thought, That’s what it was all about. His daughter is missing!

            Link’s thoughts were less sympathetic, For Farore’s sake, he thought, The man is throwing a tantrum like a baby!

            “Link,” Navi said, “This guy needs our help!”

            Link just stared at her with a blank face. “What in our little history together makes you think that I’d be willing to do that? Really?”

            Navi snapped. She flew into Link’s face and said furiously, “That’s IT! You are going to help this man out, because it is the right thing to do! Got it?!”

            “Make me!” Link said in a huff. He immediately wished that he had kept his mouth shut. After he said that, Navi flew into the throne room and made a loud announcement, “Hey! Everybody! I think that we can help you!” The room’s attention turned to Navi as she flew towards a dumbstruck Link, exposing him with her light. “My friend and I here think that we can find your princess! And better yet, we’ll do it for free! What do you say?”

            Link wanted desperately to say something, but the only sounds out of his mouth were stuttered whispers. The room was silent for a long pause. The silence was shattered like glass when the King’s sadness turned to exaggerated anger. “INTRUDER! THIEF! ASSASSIN! SEIZE THAT HOODED MENACE!”

            Navi could only watch in silence as a mob of Zora grabbed Link and brought him before the now enraged Zora King. Link fought furiously, cursing and thrashing, but the Zora’s muscle proved to easily outmatch his child’s physique.

            “Explain yourself, rogue! Just what are you doing sneaking around my domain like a stalker?”

            Please stay calm, please stay calm, please stay calm, Navi thought.

            “Up yours! I don’t have to explain myself to people that grab me like I’m just some kind of public grain bag!” Link spit on the ground.

            Oh, man…Navi thought.

            “Watch your tongue, boy, lest it be cut out!”

            “King Zora, please!” Navi hastily interjected, “We’re just here to help! We heard that your daughter was missing and came to see if we could-”

            “How would you know about that? Only us Zoras know of my daughter’s disappearance. Which means that either you are spies…Or you kidnapped her!”

            “NO King Zora, it isn’t like that at all!” Navi said hastily.

            “Enough! Boy, tell me where my Ruto is!”

            Link grit his teeth. “I have no fucking clue where your sunshine is. Let me go!”

            “Don’t play dumb with me, child! We have searched all corners of Hyrule’s water bodies to no avail! You must have snatched her up while she was feeding our great Jabu-Jabu! Is that not where she was last seen, fellow Zoras?!”

            The room echoed a resounding “Yes!”

            “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Link said, “What the hell is a Jabu-Jabu?!”

            “Surely you can’t hope of trying to fool me,” the Zora King said, “Your game is up! This is your last chance, tell me where she is, or you will be put to death!”

            Link had a thought. “Oh, NO! Curse my luck!” Link said very dramatically, “Have mercy on me, O King, for I am undone and outwitted! Very well, I will tell you where your Ruto is!”

            The King leaned back on his throne smugly. “Where is she, young and foolish child?”

            Link, Navi thought, Whatever you’re up to, it better work!

            “Your daughter has indeed been kidnapped…By a man who is named…Gannondorf!”

            The Zoras gasped. “Great King,” one of them said, “He was just here! The man in black! The one who wanted the Princess’ sapphire!”

            The Zora King stroked his fishy chin and said, “Your accusation has merit, child…”

            Navi jumped in, “Yeah, it was Gannondorf! He’s been causing all sorts of trouble in Hyrule lately! He nearly starved the Gorons to death-”

            “Hold it right there, fairy! Why do I now have this idea that you know too much about the activity of this Gannondorf?”

            “Uhh…” Navi stammered.

            “I think I know the answer already,” the King said, standing on his thin legs, “You are his accomplice! It is decided! Feed him to Jabu-Jabu!”

            Link sighed bitterly and hung his head. As he was being carried off past the throne room, Navi flew overhead. One of the Zoras produced a rope and bound Link’s limbs together. Once they got outside, Link saw just who Jabu-Jabu really was. The great whale lingered by the stone altar, its blue eyes watching the Zoras as they laid Link down and backed up.

            Link did not struggle. His face was one of complete indifference. Navi saw this as she flew up to him and said, “Link! I’m so sorry! What are you going to do?!”

            Link said nothing nor looked at her.

            “Link?!” Navi said, close to tears.

            “Navi, I feel as if I have to say something to you.”

            “W-What is it?”

            Link turned his head and said, “I really hate you.”

            Jabu-Jabu opened his great maw and drew a deep breath. So deep was his breath that Link and Navi were sucked in. As the teeth clamped down just feet from Link, darkness enveloped them along with the hot and damp humidity.

            Link, after realizing that he wasn’t about to be chewed up by the tremendous teeth of Jabu-Jabu, started to find a way to get the ropes off of his limbs. He first tried to pull his sword out, but it soon proved fruitless. The light of Navi was flying around the inside of the mouth, trying to help. Navi didn’t want to say anything. She felt so guilty about what happened, and couldn’t bear to face Link at the time. She saw bits of old skeletons strewn about the gums of the great whale, but none of them looked like they could be remotely sharp enough to cut through rope. Oh, Gods, she thought, If he even talks to me, I don’t think I could handle it…

            Link had an idea. “Navi,” he said.

            Navi broke down, “Oh, Gods, Link! I’m sorry! I don’t know what I was thinking! You were right, you’re always right, even when-”

            “Jeez! Let it go already! I’m still alive, right? Now, if you really wanted to make it up to me, you’d use whatever strength you have and pull my sword out of its sheath. Alright?”

            “Alright…” Navi said. The weapon wasn’t easy for her to pull out; it was easily more than fifty times her own weight. She did get it out, though, and Link began to slice away at the ropes. I no time at all, the braids gave away, and Link was free. He stood up on the spongy tongue, rubbed his wrists, and stretched. “Link…” Navi started.

            “Don’t,” Link said, “Just…don’t. Any more of you trying to help me today might just get me killed.”

            Navi looked away. She didn’t really know what to say to that. “So, how are we going to get this big guy to open his mouth?” she asked.

            “We don’t,” Link said, pointing to the throat, “We go deeper in.”

            Navi spun around. “Excuse me? No offense, but the back door isn’t exactly the best idea here.”

            “Don’t worry,” Link said, “We’re not going that far. I’m just looking for the Zora’s Sapphire.”

            Navi was stunned. “What?! In here?! You’ve got to be nuts!”

            “Not as nut as you might think. Remember when that Zora mentioned something about the Sapphire, after I mentioned Gannondorf?”

            “Well, yeah, but I don’t see-”

            “Just shut up for a second. He said it was the Princess’ Sapphire. He wouldn’t call it that unless it meant something special to the Princess. I’ll bet that she carries it around with her at all times.”

            “You know…that actually makes sense. But why in here?”

            “Well…the King said that the last time she was seen was when she was feeding this great big fish here.”

            “It’s not a fish, it’s a whale, and I hope that you’re wrong here. I hope that the little girl didn’t get eaten alive by this thing.”

            “You know, I hope I’m wrong, too. Then again, if she did get made into fish food, it means that the stone is here, too, and making it mine will definitely be easier.”

            “You’re horrible!”

            “You’re in a great place to call me names. If it wasn’t for your sense of good will, I wouldn’t be in this fix. Now help me light the way.”

            Navi felt guilty again. “Deeper it is, then. Oh, by the way, I hope you realize that you’re doing this for free as well.”

            “Don’t remind me,” Link grumbled. He moved to the back of the throat, held his breath, and squeezed into the throat. Jabu-Jabu instinctively swallowed, carrying him the rest of the way down.

            Once he and Navi were in the stomach, they both looked around. To the surprise of both of them, Link even had room to stand up. The stomach was more of a chamber than a tightly-compressed pouch. It took them a minute to realize that the stomach was illuminated by curious blue creatures. Some were floating, others were clinging to the wall. “Somehow I don’t think that these things are part of Jabu-Jabu,” Link said, “They look more like parasites to me.”

            “Yeah. Let’s just try and avoid them; they look like they’re not into touching.”

            “You guys are right, they’ll shock you pretty bad.”

            Link sprang into his battle-ready position at the sound of the voice. Navi shined her light at the source, and it made Link relax a little. “Let me guess,” he said, “Princess Ruto?”

            The Zora girl walked towards Link with her hands on her hips and said, “Yeah? Who’s asking?”


Chapter X: Scavenger Hunt


            “None of your business.” Link said, crossing his arms.

            “His name is Link.” Navi said. Link shot her a nasty look, which made her quiet.

            “Well, Link,” Ruto said, “Just what are you doing in here?”

            “I ask the questions around here. Namely, What are you doing in here? Your father’s been crying his eyes out over you for who knows how long.”

            “Daddy’s been crying? Oh, he’s just a big softie.”

            “Big softie? He ordered me executed, which is how I got here in the first place. How is that soft at all?”

            “Whatever,” Ruto said, rolling her eyes, “Look, it’s real sweet that you’re going through all this trouble to ‘rescue’ me, but I can handle myself. I’ve been coming in here ever since I was little.”

            “Great,” Link said, “Then I’ll level with you: I need the sapphire, now.”

            Ruto shot him an evil look. “What sapphire?”

            “The one you always carry around with you. I need it, so hand it over.”

            Ruto laughed. “Ha! Even if I did have it, I wouldn’t give it to you.

            “Wait, so you don’t have it?” Navi said.

            Ruto stuck her nose into the air and turned her back to Link. “I don’t. I dropped it when I came into here. I’ve been looking for it forever, and I’m not leaving without it.”

            Link buried his face in his palm. “Fine. I’ll just find it first. I don’t really need your help, anyway.”

            Ruto turned her head and said, “You’re not going to find it alone, mister! You’re taking me with you!”

            Link groaned. “Why do you need me? You’re a big girl, you can handle yourself.”

            “Are you calling me fat?!”

            “What? Where did you pull that one out of?”

            Navi cut in, “Children, can we please stop arguing? Look, Princess Ruto, I know that this stone must mean a lot to you, but the future of Hyrule may depend on us getting it. You said that you’ve been in here before. Why don’t you go farther in?”

            “Because of the blue jellyfish things,” Ruto said, pointing at one that was floating around the chamber of the stomach, “There are a lot more when you go farther in.”

            “Look,” Navi said, “We really need to find this sapphire. If we don’t get it, then Hyrule might be doomed in the very near future. Can you help us get it?”

            “I don’t believe you,” Ruto said, “Saving Hyrule would mean that your friend Link is a hero, and he doesn’t look like a hero to me.”

            Link smiled and laughed, “Finally! Someone who understands! You’re right, I’m not a hero. I’m just in it for the money.”

            That I can believe.” Ruto said, “Well, as long as you promise to get it back to me one day, I’ll help you find it. But on one condition.”

            “Yeah? What’s that?”

            Ruto turned to him and simply said, “You have to carry me.”

            “What? Hell, no! You walk on your own feet!”

            “Not going to comply? Then I guess no stone for you, then.”

            Link mumbled several curses under his breath, sighed, then said, “Fine. Let’s go.” He walked over to her, squatted down, and let her onto his back, piggyback-style. “Jeez! What do you eat for breakfast every morning? Rocks?”

            “Oh, stop whining and get moving,” Ruto said, “That opening over there is where you’re headed.”

            Link trudged on. She wasn’t too heavy, but carrying her was going to be a hassle nonetheless. “That opening is pretty small,” he said, “How do you expect me to fit?”

            Ruto giggled.

            “You know what? Nevermind. Holy shit, you’re being a pain in my ass.” He hunched over and walked through the small opening that led into the smaller intestines. Upon entering, He realized that Ruto was right; there was definitely more of the blue jellyfish in the narrow, fleshy corridor than there were in the stomach. It looks like they don’t have eyes, Link thought, I’ll try to get by them without making them fuss too much.

            There were a few close calls where the jellyfish almost made contact, but otherwise the trek into the large intestine went smoothly. That is, until Link made a curious discovery.

            “What the? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Link said, exasperated, “There’s three way to go! What is this?!”

            “It doesn’t matter which way you go,” Ruto said, “They all lead to the same place.”

            “Yeah? And where’s that?”

            “The colon.” She answered.

            Link had to let her off. Trying to sneak around with her on his back was killing him. “Alright, off! I need a break before I go into anything that even rhymes with ‘colon.’”

            Ruto climbed off of Link’s back and sighed. “It’s not that much farther,” she said as he stretched his back out, “I don’t see what the big deal is-”

            The tentacle shot out of the middle path too fast for anyone to react. In a split second, it wrapped around Ruto and pulled her, screaming, into the dark recess from where it came.

            Link froze in mid-stretch. “Holy…shit…” he said as he grabbed his sword.

            “Link! Help Me!” Ruto shouted from the dark chamber.

            “She’s in trouble!” Navi said as they rushed towards the colon.

            “No, really? What tipped you off, the tentacle or the cry for help?”

            As they entered the colon, they saw what had made Ruto cry so desperately for aid. The great parasite’s amorphic figure was swallowing her whole. Her legs were kicking all the way in until she was completely engulfed by the fleshy blob. Sensing Link’s presence, the creature made a dull roar that called large jellyfish to encircle it, giving it protection. The jellyfish spun around it faster and faster until Link could no longer distinguish one from the other; it became a blue blur.

            “Dammit! How am I supposed to kill this thing?!” Link shouted.

            Navi looked in a rush. Then, she found a potential weakness, “Link! Look at the top of it! Those tentacles are feeding on the colon wall! If you can sever them, it might lose so much blood that it dies!”

            “Worth a try!” Link tried to jump over the spinning jellyfish, only to be viciously knocked back. As he rolled across the porous surface, he clutched his rib. That same rib again! Gods, why?

            “Are you alright?” Navi asked.

            “Do I look okay? I think I broke my rib …Where’s a Great Fairy when you need one…Hold on! I’ve got it!”

            “Got what?”

            “Got a way to get up there without getting pummeled by those jellyfish!” He brought his hand to his sword, adjusted his stance, and focused. His body tensed up, his thoughts became keen. Sound seemed to fade into the distance. The Great Fairy’s Gift was taking effect, making Link ready to move at a supersonic speed. Suddenly, he sprung like a trap, and time itself seemed to slow down. The jellyfish appeared to be lazily drifting around the parasite, which gave Link the opportunity that he expected. He dashed up to the parasite, jumped onto the head of one of the jellyfish, and drew his sword in an effortless quickdraw that severed the three tentacles instantly. He then continued to the other side and sliced a gash into the side of the bulging creature on the way down. The pain in his rib was intense, and he almost faltered.


            As Link landed on the ground, the world rapidly went back to its own time, and Link saw the effects of his attack. The severed stumps where the tentacles used to be spewed blood like a grim fountain. The gash left on the side of the parasite saw tearing because of the weight that it carried. The creature roared in pain, and began to spasm fiercely. It wasn’t long before it fell to the floor. Link watched in confusion as the parasite began to bulge grotesquely and explode in a spray of green gore. Bits and chunks of the monster’s flesh flew around, and Ruto could be heard coughing from under the thick coat of slime.

            Link walked up to her and helped her up. He then started to pick through the pieces of flesh that were strewn about the colon, searching for the sapphire. “You didn’t happen to see your stone in there, did you…oh.”

            Ruto clutched the gem in her hand. “Right here. Can we leave now?”

            “Sure, just give me the sapphire.” Link said, extending his hand.

            Ruto shot him a glare and complied. Suddenly, a blue light surrounded them, enveloped them, and carried them outside of Jabu-Jabu and onto a thick branch that was partially submerged beneath the dwelling waters of the great whale.

            Link stood in a daze caused by the light for a moment. When he came to, he saw the smiling face or Ruto inches away from his. “Whoa! What’re you—Ahhh!” Link said as he lost his balance and fell into the water. As he surfaced, he pulled his soaked hood away and saw that she had entered the water as well, and was slowly treading towards him with that same smile still on her face. “You did pretty well in there,” she said, inching closer, “Really good. Not that it’s happened to me a whole lot before, but still…”

            Link wasn’t very comfortable with her being as close as she was. “Save your breath. I got what I came for.”

            “What about me? Don’t I get what I want?” She asked.

            “That depends. What do you want?”

            “That stone…my mother gave it to me. She said I should only give it to the man who would be my husband. Think of it as the Zora’s Engagement Ring!”

            Link was dumbstruck. Navi, flying overhead, broke into a fierce laughter. “Uhh…wow. I don’t know what to say…”

            “You don’t have to,” she said as she did a playful slap across his cheek, “It’s already done. One day you’re going to marry me. Now go on, I’m sure you have all sorts of things to do, what with you being a hero and all.” And with that, she swam off into Zora’s Domain.

            Navi continued to laugh overhead. Link, who did not find any of that particularly funny, splashed her with water and swam off as well. He didn’t go through Zora’s Domain, however. This time, he took the faster route: the waterfall. The plunge wasn’t too far, but the landing was rough, and it aggravated his broken rib. He cursed on his way to the surface, and when as he drifted lazily downriver he held onto his side, eager to get to a bed and rest. The night sky showed a crescent moon surrounded with countless stars. As he neared the mouth of the river he suddenly realized that he didn’t want to go out into the field, after all. He could see the faint silhouettes of the skeletons hobbling their way across the broad field. Link quickly swam to the closest shore and hid in a ruin. He went to sleep cold, wet, and using his knapsack as a crude pillow, but happy that his fortune was in that pillow.


Part I Endgame: Contract Terminated


            The morning came quickly for Link. His tired state made it easy for him to fall asleep, but his eagerness to claim his reward made him wake up sooner than usual. He could see it now, taste it. The river’s mouth led straight to the castle town. He estimated that it would take about half a day to get to the place.

            He was quite hungry, but he just couldn’t wait to get those twenty-five thousand rupees. He started to think about what he would do with it. He supposed he could buy a home in town and start anew there. Screw the Kokiri Forest, he thought as he began walking, Those guys didn’t want me there, anyway. Plus, there’s a lot more to steal in the city.

            Navi stirred about an hour into the trek. She flew out of Link’s hood, took in the surroundings, and said, “Just couldn’t wait, huh?”

            Link smiled. “Not a bit. One can’t be too eager to effectively secure their future,” he said, patting his knapsack, “Besides, I thought you’d be happy to be rid of me.”

            Navi hesitated. More than you know, she thought, Some of the things you do just make me so mad… “Good point. It’s too bad, though. I thought that I was starting to see promise in you.”

            Link looked up to her. “Keep living that fantasy of yours, fairy. I don’t plan on changing any time soon.”

            “Don’t I know it,” she sighed, “What about the Kokiri Village? Are you going back there?”

            Link shook his head. “I don’t suppose you remember that they drove me out of the village. Good riddance. Let them go on without me.”

            “Oh, come on,” Navi said, “There isn’t one thing you miss about the village? Not even Saria?”

            Link paused. “She…said good-bye, too. What’s done is done.”

            Navi saw what looked like sadness for the first time in Link’s face. “Really? It looks to me like you don’t want to leave her out of your life for good.”

            Link’s expression changed to a bitter one. “What do you know about me?! So far, all you’ve been is a constant, shining reminder of how much life sucked when I was there! Forget that village. I don’t want to even think of it ever again! Got it?!”

            Navi was stunned by the sudden rage that came over Link. She waited until he appeared to calm down a bit, then said, “I suppose I’m not surprised. After all, it’s just in your nature to turn on every good thing that happens to you.”

            Link huffed. “The only good thing that’s happened to me so far is making this deal with the princess.”

            Navi flew in front of his face and stopped him. “You know what,” she said angrily, “You’re so blinded by your selfish arrogance and bitter attitude that you don’t know a truly good thing when you see it! Look at yourself! Money won’t make you happy, you know!”

            Link clenched his teeth, “Since when do you start to lecture me on happiness? You haven’t been the least bit happy ever since you joined up with me, so why don’t you just leave?! Oh, wait, that’s right, you have a commitment to a dead tree!”

            Navi was furious at that point. “You just don’t understand loyalty, do you? That tree was my father! All of us fairies were his sons and daughters! The closest thing you had to a parent was Saria, and you turn on her, too!”

            “Shut up! Just shut up! I’m sick of hearing about her!”

            “Why, because you can’t admit that you miss her?! Why is this so hard for you?! You act like an adult, but you have the stubbornness of a four-year-old!”

            “Well, if you hate me so much, then just go! Piss off like everyone else! Why should I care?”

            “Because I’m trying to tell you that there are people in this world who still haven’t given up on you! I sure as hell won’t! Saria didn’t ‘piss off,’ she was actually sad to see you go! The least you can do is go back and thank her for standing by you when life was too hard!”

            Link opened his mouth to say something, but found himself at a loss for words. He didn’t want to admit it, but the fairy was right. Dammit, it’s true, he thought bitterly, Saria was the only one who cared…but why? Why did she care when everyone else hated me?

            Link sighed. “…Fine. If I go back when this is all done and say thanks to Saria, will you let me go?”

            Navi paused. “Only if you mean it.”

            “You know, I can lie pretty well.” Link said.

            “Not well enough to fool me. Besides, I don’t think that you’ll have to lie about how grateful you are.”

            They stopped talking and continued. The rest of the walk was quiet, solemn. Link stared at his feet for hours as he marched across Hyrule Field. His mind was wrapped up in his thoughts. What am I supposed to say? “Thanks for being there Saria, now I have to split?” What if she gets all emotional and tries to get me to stay? She was the only friend I had…could I really say no to her?

            Thoughts like that and more raced through his head until he approached the castle town. As he walked up to the moat, he realized for the first time that it was intensely dark out. “Navi,” he asked, “How long have we been going?”

            Navi was equally confused, “For a few hours, maybe. But I have no idea why it’s so dark outside…”

            The rain followed after that. In the sky, thunder echoed across the clouds and a cold wind flew by. The closed drawbridge slowly began to creak open. Navi asked Link, “What do you think is going on here?”

            Link didn’t respond. He stood with his mouth agape and his eyes wide. I’ve seen this before, he thought, it was that dream that I kept having… “Navi,” he said worriedly, “I know what’s about to happen. That drawbridge will open and the princess will com riding out like the wind…and Gannondorf will be right behind her!”

            Navi was panicked and confused, “What?! What makes you think that?”

            “I’ve seen it all before! In a nightmare!”

            The drawbridge hit the earth, and just as Link predicted, Zelda and Impa came riding out of the gate like mad, barely missing the two of them. Link looked at Zelda, who was fearfully staring back. She suddenly made a quick movement and threw something back at Link. It flew through the air and landed in the water of the moat, sinking to the bottom. Right on cue, a dark rider came out of the gate, stopped, and cursed, “I lost them!” Gannondorf turned to Link, narrowed his eyes, and said, “Hey, kid, a white horse and rider came out of here not too long ago! Which way did they go?!”

            Link stepped back and said, “Fuck you! You just chased away my future, asshole!”

            Gannondorf smirked, revealing yellowed teeth. “So, defying me, huh? You’ve got guts, kid.”

            Link wrapped his fingers around the hilt of the Kokiri Sword and said, “And you’ve got balls for threatening me.”

            Gannondorf laughed aloud, raised his hand, and shot Lin with a mild bolt of luminescent energy. Link flew back and landed with a hard thud. As he got up Gannondorf said, “Remember my name and tremble! I am Gannondorf, and soon I will rule this world!” With that, he spurred his horse and rode off into the field. After he disappeared into the distance, the dark clouds and rain seemed to vanish, and the midday sun shone through.

            “Link! Are you alright?” Navi said.

            “Fine. Just a fall,” Link said, brushing himself off, “Well, now what? I doubt I’ll be able to find the princess anytime soon…Son of a bitch!” Link kicked a clump of earth out of the ground and into the moat.

            “Wait, didn’t Princess Zelda throw something into the moat?” Navi asked, “Maybe she had a note or something in it!”

            Link looked into the slowly moving waters and jumped in. He looked around for a bit, then found what he was looking for: a blue ocarina. He grabbed it and carried it to the surface. As he climbed out of the moat, he noticed that it started to glow, then shine. He was soon lost in the bright white light that emanated from the instrument, and through the light heard a voice, “Link? Can you hear me? It’s me, Zelda…”

            Link looked around; the voice didn’t seem to come from anywhere at all. When some of the light died down, he could see the princess, or what looked like her, at least. It all seemed hazy, like he wasn’t really there.

            “If you have this ocarina, it means that I’m not around anymore,” she said, “I had to escape from Gannondorf.”

            Link found himself unable to speak, even though he had plenty to say.

            Zelda continued, “Please, you must do one last thing for me. Take the three Spiritual Stones and bring them to the Temple of Time. Once there, place them on the altar and play this song,” Zelda produced an identical ocarina and played a melody, which Link memorized. “This will open the Door of Time. Please, it’s the only thing that can stop Gannondorf!”

            Who cares about that, Link thought, How can you pay me if you aren’t here?!

            Zelda seemed to know what he was thinking and said, “If you still don’t believe in destiny, then don’t worry. Inside the Door of Time is a treasure beyond worth. Take it and present it to my Father. He will make sure you are properly compensated. Now go, there is no time!”

            The light and Zelda faded away rapidly after that, and Link found himself outside of the castle walls again. “Link, what happened?” Navi asked, “You were lost in a trance for a minute. What did you see?”

            “The end of the road,” Link said, examining the ocarina, “I need to get these stones to the Temple of Time.” He got up, stuffed the ocarina into his knapsack, and walked into the castle town. The courtyard of the town was in an uproar. Guards were desperately trying to calm the crowd down, to no avail. Rioting was going on unchecked. Link could see the castle itself on the hilltop, and it had black smoke coming from the interior. Link eased his way through the panicked people and to the Temple of Time. No sounds came from within, and when Link opened the doors, he remembered just how empty the temple was. No signs of life, no people, no disturbance of any kind. He walked across the white stone floor and up to the black altar. When he approached, the Spiritual Stones shone bright and levitated out of his knapsack.

            “Neat,” he said as the gems fitted themselves perfectly onto the smooth hollows on the altar, “Now all I have to do is play that song, and we’re set.”

            “What song?” Navi asked as Link pulled out the ocarina.

            “The song that I heard in that vision,” Link explained, “It’s supposed to open the door behind the altar.”

            “That’s a door? It looks like a regular old wall to me,” Navi said skeptically, “Are you sure this is going to work?”

            “Only one way to find out…” Link brought the ocarina to his mouth and began to play. The notes echoed around the walls, saturating the room with the mellow and solemn tune. The stone wall shook, then slowly slid open. The intense sound of grinding stone filled the air and drowned out the song that Link just played, and the path was opened. Link walked around the altar and into the room, where a small stone platform rose above the floor. A single beam of light entered the room, illuminating a small stone pedestal that housed a blade.

            “Link! That’s…”Navi flew up to the weapon and said in awe, “It’s that legendary blade…the Master Sword!”

            “The what?” Link asked, “Zelda said I have to give it to her father to get my reward.”

            Navi was shocked. “What? How does that make sense?”

            Link shrugged as he walked up to it, “The hell if I know. If it’s that important to them, then I’m not going to argue.”

            “But what if you can’t even pull it out?” Navi asked, “Legends say that only a person of pure heart can wield the blade, and you don’t seem to fit the bill.”

            “I might not be a knight in shining armor, but I’m not pure evil, either.”

            Navi sighed, “I don’t know about that…

            Link walked up to the blade, put his hands on it, and pulled. The blade came free, and Link hoisted it into the air. As he did, however, a brilliant blue light surrounded the platform and enveloped them both. “Hey, what the-?” Link asked too late.

            “Link! What’s happening?!” Navi shouted in fear.

            “I don’t know!”

            The light overwhelmed them. Link suddenly felt weightless. Through the whiteness, he could hear a sinister laugh all too familiar. “Well done, kid!” Gannondorf said, “Just as I suspected, you held the keys to the door of time. Now I have access to the Sacred Realm, and it’s all thanks to you!”He laughed again, a deep, throaty laugh that encompassed the whiteness. As Gannondorf faded out of view, Link’s last memory was him thinking, Dammit… I...I’ve been tricked…

            The white light rendered him unconscious, and the feeling was no more.



End Part I





Please be patient, part Two will be arriving in the near future. Stay cool!

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