Chapter 7: A Daring Escapade
The leaves of the forest crunched beneath Link's feet as he walked along in the pitch black dark. Deep breaths were the only things that told him that he was still with his friends. Shivers ran up and down Link's spine and he was wary of every snapping branch. No animals stirred at all, and Link wondered if they were as scared as he was. Link stumbled on a tree root that jutted out of the ground and felt a hand catch his arm.
"Careful." Frat warned.
Link opened his mouth to make a sharp retort but held his tongue. Something was definitely not right here. They should have stumbled upon Roxanna by now. Dissatisfied with the current situation, Link slipped away from his companions in the dark. He waited until he could no longer hear their breathing or the sounds of their footsteps crunching in the dead leaves, then turned and headed back to camp.
Nearby an owl hooted, making Link jump and reach for his dagger. He stepped carefully now, avoiding any roots sticking up from the ground. As he reached the edge of the forest he could hear sounds coming from the camp. Link put away his dagger and slowly unsheathed his sword. He stepped out from under the underbrush without making a sound.
The fire of the camp had been doused, but a bright light made it very easy to see what was going on. Both Roxanna and Oliana were tied up on the ground, surrounded by that bright light. It was Sora…no, Natori, Link corrected himself once again, that was causing the bright light to come from the bodies of the girls on the ground. Flynn stood nearby, his head tossed back in a sinister laugh. The light was swirling and collecting in something on his chest.
"No!" Link shouted.
He charged towards them, holding up his sword. Flynn turned and looked at him, then raised a hand. Some of the bright light filtered out and smacked into Link, sending him ass end over. He landed with a thump and groan, then all went black.
Frat clutched the hilt of his long bladed dagger and gritted his teeth. Beside him he could hear Poonta's breathing, but Link had disappeared. Again he had made a foolish act, again he had done something childish. He should start acting his age, if he ever wanted to be a good king. He couldn't let adults boss him around so much.
Then Frat realized something and he stopped dead in his tracks, nearly falling over. What he was doing…taking control of the group and bossing Link around…it was the same thing everyone else was doing! Technically Frat was now almost an adult, while Link was still only 17 years old. Both his parents were dead and he had to run a kingdom at such a young age. On top of that, he had two girls he had to choose from to be his queen, before his 20th birthday.
Frat suddenly felt ashamed about the way he had been treating Link lately. He was, after all, just worried about Sora. Frat had tried to remain calm, to make it seem as if he was in total control. But truthfully, deep down inside, he had wanted to rush into that forest. He felt enough anger boiling up inside of him that he felt he could take on every last Fay on Caseree. Then he felt a hand on his arm and started.
"Hear that?" Poonta asked.
Frat stopped and listened. Soft strains of music reached his ears, coming from the direction of the camp. He recognized that song immediately and had to hold back the terrible urge to run back to camp. He and Poonta turned and headed back in that direction, walking slowly and carefully. It took forever to reach the edge of the forest, but they finally managed.
At the camp the fire blazed brightly. Link, Oliana and Roxanna all sat around it, looking peaceful and happy. Sora sat there too, dressed in her usual garb, playing a harp. She was laughing and trying to sing, while Link made a total idiot of himself, eating like a pig. Frat gave a joyous cry and ran forward, brushing off the hand that Poonta had lain on his shoulder. Then something hit hard in the back of the head and he fell to the ground, out cold.
Link opened his eyes and blinked, trying to clear the blur from his vision. It was dark except for the dim light of the fire that burned nearby. He could see Sora clearly from where he lay. She was dressed in a black gown that fit to her figure. It had a low collar and the skirt swooped down over one leg, and up over the knee of the other in a rush of ruffles. Her face was very pale, paler than usual, and no longer were her cheeks rosy. She was thin and her eyes were heavy lidded.
"So, the boy king awakens." Flynn sneered.
Flynn grabbed him from behind, by the hair hanging down his back which had fallen out of its tie. He pulled him up with a very painful tug and jerked him back, so that he was facing the Fay boy. Flynn was smiling and in the dim light it was a hideous thing to behold. He shoved Link back and let go of his hair, sending him flying nearly into the fire.
"Weakling!" Flynn snarled. "All of you! Get up!"
Flynn kicked Frat hard in the side. The older boy awakened with a start and jumped to his feet, reaching for his dagger which wasn't there. He looked around, first glaring at Flynn, then making sure everyone else was okay. Indeed they were, although they were dirt covered and slightly bruised. Then his eyes fell upon the gaunt figure sitting near by.
"Sora." Frat said softly. "Oh Sora, what did they do to you!" Frat went to take a step forward but Link stopped him.
"Smart move, boy." Flynn snarled. "You're very stupid. This girl is no longer your pathetic little sister. She was only a vessel for a greater power."
"No." Frat said. "You're lying."
"He's not lying." Natori said softly. "I am not the little brat you call sister."
"You only look like Sora!" Frat flared, his eyes burning with rage. "You're not really her!"
"Frat that is-" Link began but Frat cut him off.
"Where is my sister?" Frat demanded.
"She sits before you." Flynn smiled.
"That is not her!"
Frat dipped down and scooped up Link's sword from where it lay in the pile with the other weapons. He didn't go for Flynn, but for the girl sitting so wearily before him. A scythe appeared in Flynn's hand and he swung it down, stopping the descent of Frat's sword. Flynn pushed the boy out of his way and grabbed Natori around the waist, helping her to her feet.
"Take their energy!" Flynn commanded. "Now!"
Natori reached out with her hands. Beside him Frat fell to the ground, startling Link out of a trance like state. More white light poured from the older boy's body and from Poonta's too. Natori's form was hunched over, barely able to keep herself standing. Link reached out to her with both hands.
"Sora please." Link pleaded. "Stop it now!"
"Shut up, boy king!" Flynn growled. "You're next!"
"No! Sora listen to me." Link urged. "You're dying! You have to stop this."
Natori faltered and the light faded. She took a step back, her clouded purple eyes looking at him without seeing him. Flynn grabbed her wrist and dragged her back. Natori turned her eyes towards him and then kicked him hard in the shin. Flynn howled and released his tight grip on her. Natori stumbled forwards and landed in Link's arms, nearly knocking him over.
"Sora!" Link exclaimed, holding her up.
"No!" Flynn hissed. "Once taken, the Power Field can never escape!"
"I knew there was something you left out." Sora muttered.
"She's no longer under your control." Frat said, propping himself up on one elbow.
"I don't care!" Flynn snarled. "I have what I want!"
Flynn pulled out the stone, which had once been attached to the Dragon Pendant. It was now the size of a grapefruit and glowed with a mysterious light. Sora made a lunge for him, but she wasn't reaching for the stone. She scrambled away from his grasp, clutching the pendant tightly to her body. It was then that Flynn felt something snap inside his mind.
Sora fell to the ground at Link's feet, surrounded by that white light. The Power Field had been depleted! Flynn could not let this girl die. Something inside him would not allow her to be gone, just like that. He reached his hand into the light, letting it take away some of his own energy. With what little he had left, he disappeared as the light died away.
"Sora!" Link shouted, kneeling beside her. "Oh no! She's not breathing."
Link leaned over her, studying her face. It was deathly pale and she didn't move, not even the rise and fall of her chest in the way of breathing. He leaned down and opened her mouth, blowing his own breath into her. Sora coughed and shoved him away, rolling over onto her side.
"She's okay!" Link sighed with relief.
"Sora." Frat lifted her gently and hugged her, rocking her back and forth like a baby.
Link was reminded of his own sister, Rhiannon, who had died months before in childbirth. He turned his head away from the sight, feeling tears sting his eyes. Poonta, Oliana and Roxanna all crowded around Sora and Frat, asking questions and trying to make Sora comfortable. Link was left to wander alone by himself, for which he was grateful.
He walked along the edge of the forest, clutching his dagger tightly. Link heard a stir of noise nearby and turned. A pair of bright purple eyes widened in astonishment and it was Flynn who stumbled away. He reached feebly for his dagger but could hardly move. Link drew back a step, studying the Fay boy.
"What's wrong with you?" Link demanded. "You were fine moments ago."
"Foolish boy." Flynn gave a harsh laugh. "When Sora lost her connection to me…when her energy as a Power Field was depleted…she would have died. I…gave her some of…my strength."
"Why?" Link asked.
Again, Flynn laughed. "Wouldn't you?"
With that the Fay boy turned and stumbled into the dark forest once again. Link sheathed his dagger, no longer fearing him. He turned and headed back to the camp, which was signified only by the dying light of the fire.
They rode all night and by the end of the next day they were approaching Dragon Rock Castle. Sora rode behind Link, now fully awake and looking much healthier, after rest and a good meal, plus a bath and a change of clothes. Iola and Darrius greeted them at the drawbridge. Darrius drew his daughter down from the back of the horse and Sora was sandwiched in between him and Iola. Then Link and Frat and the girls were all swooped into it, like one big happy family.
"Oh you did it!" Iola sniffled. "You brave, brave boys!"
Again Frat and Link were smothered with hugs and kisses. Link smiled to himself. Iola was always over enthusiastic about things, but it felt nice to have a mother figure in his life once again. He would make sure he came her more often, despite what Nicodemus or anyone else from his court might say. The C'dessa's were like a second family to him.
"Come inside!" Iola said. "I had a feeling you would be home today! I told Darrius so! And I insisted on making a big meal for you!"
Link's stomach growled. "Shhh! It heard you!"
"Oh!" Iola laughed. "My, you have a healthy appetite! Just like when Fratello was your age!"
"Mom!" Frat's face was flushed. "Do you mind!?"
"None of that." Iola said. "Come along with you boys. I'm sure you're all hungry."
"I'm just aching for a bath." Roxanna said. "Remind me next time Link that I don't like adventures. This getting fresh air is all well and good but my skin just hates dirt!"
"Spoken like a true court lady." Link joked.
They headed inside, with Darrius carrying a now unconscious Sora. Link followed at the back of the group, deep in thought. He glanced behind him, back at the long way they had come. So, Flynn had saved Sora's life. But why? Link shook his head and went inside.
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