Chapter four: Journey of Discovery
The halls of Dragon Rock were alive with the sounds of rising animals scurrying about. Sora leaned against Frat as the walked along, dodging small animals that scampered under their feet. They could hear doors slamming somewhere in the castle and knew everyone else was up. Frat turned and grinned at Sora as they heard footsteps coming down the hall.
"Oh, Fratello, my dear boy!" Iola exclaimed, running up to them. "You gave us such a scare! And you too, Sora! Young lady, you shouldn't do things like that!"
Sora listened with only half an ear to Iola's frantic ravings. She was staring passed the woman, to Link and Faylore and more importantly, a tall bearded man. His hair was blonde, his eyes were purple, and Sora recognized him immediately.
"Are you even listening to me?" Iola asked, growing exasperated.
"Mom, calm down." Frat said. "Just take a deep breath. Maybe we should go sit down somewhere. We really need to talk."
"Don't you dare tell me what to do!" Iola cried. "I am your mother and I do not need to sit down for you to tell me something!"
"Iola, my love, our son is right." The bearded man said, coming up and putting a hand on Iola's shoulder. "You need to calm down."
"Yeah." Sora agreed quietly. "I remember when Asandar ran off and we found him sleeping with a baby Gryphon. I thought you were gonna brain the poor boy."
Everyone in the hall turned to stare at her. Sora could feel their eyes on her and she shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, waiting for someone to say something but no body did. They just stared, as if she were a Hydra with a thousand heads, or a Dragon with a million tails. Finally Fratello put an arm around her shoulder and smiled lopsidedly at his parents.
"Mom, Dad," Frat took a deep breath. "Sora is Sorella."
There. In three words it was all put out in front of them, simply and so easily and yet their faces were blank. They could not comprehend that after nearly ten years, their daughter was home. Sora herself had trouble understanding how it happened.
"It's me." Sora said hoarsely. "It's really me. I remembered when I rode Robin."
"Robin?" the bearded man asked.
"The red one." Frat explained. "Sorella's horse."
"I didn't tell anyone his name." Sora said. "Not even Frat. I thought everyone would think it was a stupid name for a horse like him. But I wanted him to have the name, because he made me happy, like robins."
"It is her!" Iola cried. "Oh, Darrius, it has to be her!"
"Dad." Sora murmured. She remembered now.
"Iola, Sorella has been gone for 10 years." Darrius reasoned. "It's very unlikely that she would be alive today."
"But Dad, look at her!" Fratello protested. "She has purple eyes, which no one in Hyrule has and blonde hair! She's obviously Alima!"
"She was raised by Sheikahs." Darrius said. "The Sheikah have long been friends of our family. They would have known she was our daughter and brought her back to us."
"That's true." Frat agreed, his voice low. "But that doesn't explain why the red let her ride him! Or why she came here in the first place. People from Hyrule don't come here for no reason whatsoever. They come because it has to do with their destiny."
"I was just following Link." Sora piped up.
"You're not helping!" Frat snapped.
"I wasn't trying to." Sora shrugged. "All I was doing was helping Link to grow more so he could rule Hyrule and then that thing swallowed me up and spit me out here. But I do know now that I am your daughter, because I remember everything! Not just fragments of some memory given to me for no good reason. I remember who I was and all the things I did and everything about this place. I remember how me and Frat and all our brothers and sisters would sing together before bed. I remember taking long hikes through the woods and having picnics out there and just being happy!"
Everyone turned to stare at her again, but Sora was too busy trying to catch her breath to care. They stared and stared, for what seemed like and eternity. Then Frat hugged her, and Iola hugged both of them and Darrius hugged all three. Sora was taken aback at first and made a move to get away, before a voice in her head reminded her that this was her family, this was where she belonged. She could feel tears sliding down her cheeks and welcomed them, glad for the knowledge that they were tears of joy, not of sorrow.
When her family finally let her go she stood very still a moment, still breathless. Then she cried out joyously and hugged Poonta, then Faylore and finally, Link. Link hugged her back tightly, nearly lifting her off the ground. She rested a hand on his chest and gently pushed him away, struggling without much success to catch her breath. Link laughed and ruffled her hair playfully.
"Welcome home, Sora." Iola said, her voice choked with tears. "Oh welcome home!" Sora cringed as Iola hugged her tightly once again and stood very still until Darrius dragged Iola off of her.
"Come on, Mom." Frat laughed. "We just got Sorella back. We don't want to kill her by squeezing her to death."
"I believe our son has a point, my dear." Darrius agreed, chuckling merrily.
"Even if he didn't, I would much appreciate it if you didn't squeeze me to death anyway." Sora quipped, smiling shyly.
"Oh she takes after her father!" Iola exclaimed, dabbling at tears in the corners of her eyes.
The cave was as old as time itself, but much more beautiful than anyone, even an artist or a poet could possibly imagine. The floor, walls, and icicle-speckled ceiling were made of fine crystal, instead of stone. Light from an unknown source bounced off the walls, brightening the cave and lighting up a pool of clear water in the middle of the cave. The water glowed with a pinkish sheen climbing up the water that flowed down the cave walls and gathered at the pool. Chunks of crystal positioned just so on the walls made steps to the entrance of the cave. To say it was extraordinary would be an extreme understatement.
In the middle of the pink water pool, a figure draped in a heavy cloak kneeled waist deep in the water. Another figure stood on one of the chunks of crystal on the walls, gazing down at the one in the pool. This one was also draped in a cloak that hid its face well. They spoke to each other in soft voices, but neither mentioned names, for fear of being caught in their devious plot and dragged away to be exiled.
"You let them escape." The figure on the chunk of crystal said. The voice was male, calm and yet filled with anger, boiling hot rage.
"But milord," The figure in the pool protested. The voice was female, high and frantic with panic. "They defeated us, milord. If we hadn't left, they would have killed us."
"That is no excuse for your failure!" The male voiced boomed. His rage bounced and echoed off the walls like the pinkish light.
"Please milord," The female voice stammered. "Give me another chance. I will not fail you again."
"I should kill you."
"Milord!" The female pleaded, her voice rising with her panic. "Please! I promise I will not fail my mission this time! They will not escape me again!"
"They will leave soon, on a quest." The male voice said, ignoring the frantic pleas. "It would be amazing if they survived it, but I believe they can, nonetheless. I want you to make sure they fail. But if you are the one to fail, I will kill you."
"Milord, you are most gracious!" The female backed up in the pool of water, bowing continuously. "I will not fail you."
Sora sat on the bed cross-legged, tapping one foot impatiently along to the tune she hummed. Iola tugged at her hair with a brush, determined to keep going until she reached one thousand strokes. Sora was too busy tugging at the hem of the skirt she had (grudgingly) agreed to wear. She wore a shirt with sleeves that opened at the elbows and hung nearly down to her knees, and a long tunic with no sleeves that was almost as long as the skirt. The clothes were itchy and uncomfortable and Sora wanted to hit Link, who sat in a chair across from her giggling and grinning idiotically.
Faylore sat next to him, smiling grandly. Her fingers were entwined with his and Sora hated her even more than she hated Link for the smug look on her face. Fratello sat on the bed next to her, humming along and he was, at the moment, the only person in the room she didn't feel anger towards. Maybe it was because he wasn't making a big deal about her suddenly reappearing after 10 long years. Maybe it was because he was her brother and they had always gotten along well. Whatever the reason, she was very glad he was there with her.
"Wait until all your brothers and sisters find out!" Iola chattered excitedly. "I'm sure they'll all rush over to see you!"
"Ma, please don't bother them." Sora said, feeling crowded and claustrophobic.
"But, why ever not?" Iola asked. "They would love to see you."
"I just don't think my rib cage can handle it." Sora muttered.
"Oh now don't be silly! I'll send out the pigeons and summon them to the castle right away!"
Iola hopped down off the bed and skipped out of the room, leaving the door ajar. Sora flopped back heavily on the bed with a loud sigh and kicked her feet out from under her. Frat stood up and shut the door, then walked back over to the bed and lay down next to her, grinning at her until she started to giggle.
"Come on you guys." Link whined. "I'm bored!"
Sora and Frat sat up. "Aren't we all."
"Maybe we should prepare ourselves for your brothers and sisters, Sora." Poonta joked.
"From what I remember-as little as that is- we better put up magical barriers around ourselves for protection." Sora quipped.
Frat laughed. "That sounds about right."
"Why?" Faylore asked. "If they're your brothers and sisters, why would they hurt you?"
"Now you're just being stupid." Sora muttered.
Frat chuckled. "Someone's cranky."
"Enough fighting you two." Link said. "I'm bored!"
"You said that already."
Link glared at Sora. "I know I did. And I meant it! There has got to be something we can do."
"We could think." Sora suggested, smiling humorlessly.
Link looked puzzled. "About what?"
"The Sheikahs who raised me." Sora explained. "Why did they lie to me? Why didn't they tell me I wasn't one of them?"
"The Sheikah are our long time friends." Frat said. "They should've known who you were. But for some reason they didn't return you to us."
"Frat, you know all about Caseree Isle. Is there a way we can find out?" Link asked.
"You could ask the Sheikah." Frat replied. "They live over the mountains, but the journey there is too dangerous."
"I have to go!" Sora protested. "I have to find out why they lied!"
Frat shook his head. "I can't let you Sora. Mom and Dad won't let you either. It's way too dangerous. Only five people out of 100 who have tried have made it back alive."
"Those aren't good odds." Sora said softly. "I wouldn't be able to do it alone then. But if I had someone to go with me." Sora looked hopeful.
"I could go!" Link chimed in. "I'm bored here anyway."
"You?" Sora snorted. "King Link wants to go on an adventure. Gasp! Ooo I'm in shock!"
"What is that supposed to mean?" Link demanded.
"Oh come on! You know you're a wimp!"
"If I were a wimp, I never would have left the castle in the first place!"
"Wimp! King Link the Wimp!"
"You two stop it now!" Frat shouted, making them both jump. "I'm beginning to think this is a really bad idea! If you don't get killed on the way, you'll probably kill each other."
"I think it would be a good idea." Faylore piped up. Everyone turned to stare at her. "Really. They will need to depend on each other. If they can't get along, then they won't survive. But if they can learn to get along, I think they could make it."
"Certainly." Poonta agreed. "Sora is tough, smart and resourceful. And Link is taller and stronger than she is."
"I don't know if I should take that as a complement or be insulted." Link muttered.
"Me either." Sora sighed.
"She said you were tough, smart and resourceful." Link reminded her. "I don't remember Mom or Dad ever telling me Gerudos were insane."
"Maybe Sora is right." Poonta hissed. "You are a wimp!"
"That's it!" Frat yelled, jumping to his feet. "Maybe this is a good idea! Your bickering is going to drive me crazy!"
Fratello stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind him so hard everyone jumped at the sound. Sora stared after him, suddenly feeling like she might cry. She balled her hands into fist, jumped to her feet and glared at Link.
"This is all your fault!" Sora shouted.
"Me? What did I do?" Link asked, taking a step back.
Sora stood there fuming for a minute, then stomped out of the room after Frat, slamming the door even harder than he had. Link stared at the door a moment, then turned to Poonta. Poonta shrugged casually and sat down on the bed, leaving Link staring at the door, startled.
Sora ran down the hall until she reached her own room and threw the door open, letting it slam violently against the wall. She quickly peeled off the uncomfortable clothes and threw on breeches and a half-sleeved tunic. Sora tugged on her boots and raced down the hall, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Sora ran headlong until she reached the meadow where Robin was grazing peacefully. His head shot up as she raced through the gate and he danced sideways, startled. Sora stopped a few feet away and leaned on her knees, trying to catch her breath. Robin walked over and nudged her playfully. Sora smiled and reached up and pet his nose.
"Hey boy!" Sora cooed. "Would you like to go for a ride?"
Robin snorted and swung his hindquarters to her. Sora griped his mane and swung up onto his back. She tangled her fingers into his mane and urged him forward. Robin moved off at a trot that was smooth as butter, then Sora urged him into a gallop. She lost herself in the rhythm of his movements and the swift staccato that his hoofbeats played on the soft grass. Sora moved with him as he cleared the ground of the meadow in long strides, which carried them swiftly to the fence of the meadow.
Robin gathered his hindquarters beneath him and soared over the fence. Sora had a brief sensation of flying through pink and blue clouds on a winged white horse, and then Robin's hooves touched the ground. Sora laughed as a bird fluttered passed Robin's nose, making him stop and snort and shake his mane. Then he took off again and Sora leaned forward, listening to the beat of his hooves.
Suddenly more hooves joined the beat, and Sora looked over her shoulder to see Frat and Summer Sky moving up on Robin's tail. Sora knew that she and Robin could out run them, but she didn't want to. Soon Sky and Frat were right up next to them; matching stride for stride and the beat of their hooves began to take on a rhythm. They raced to the edge of the woods before pulling up the horses and turning around, laughing.
"You could have won the race you know." Frat said.
"Yeah I know." Sora shrugged casually. "I didn't want to."
"Well, as much as I hate to ruin your good mood, why did you explode at Link like that?" Frat asked. "He didn't do anything wrong."
"Oh I know." Sora sighed. "I guess this whole thing is very stressing for me. And well, Link's a perfect target." Sora grinned, mischievously.
"Don't be so rough on the boy." Frat said. "He's pretty brave, for a Prince raised in a castle and undoubtedly spoiled."
"Um, Frat, aren't you a prince who was raised in a castle and undoubtedly spoiled?" Sora asked, giggling.
"Well, different circumstances." Frat explained. "Our parents did spoil me quite a bit, but they still taught me to be civil."
"And mine didn't?" A voice asked behind them. Frat and Sora turned, startled, to see who it was. It was Link, sitting on Legacy, with his arms crossed and a scowl on his handsome face.
Frat shrugged. "How am I supposed to know that?"
"My parents raised me just fine." Link said.
"He never said they didn't." Sora chimed in. "It's just that Frat is brave and you're a little wimp."
"Is that so Sora?" Frat chuckled. "And yet, you sat your whole life pretending to be content with what you had, when you knew you wanted more. For Link, it's the same story, except he went out to find what he wanted. You did not. So tell me, if Link can accept things and you cannot, who is truly the brave one?"
"No one asked you." Sora muttered.
Link laughed. "Oh, I don't know. I think I like Frat's analysis."
"If you like that, then think about this." Frat said. "It is true, the journey to the Sheikah's land is a dangerous one, one that few have survived. But I am certain, that if you work together, you can make it. That is why," Frat paused to take a breath. "That is why I think you should go."
"Oh come on!" Sora said. "You don't really think we can make it. You're just saying that so we'll stop fighting."
"Naw. I know that wouldn't work." Frat grinned. "I just know you could make it."
"You really think so?" Link asked.
Sora pulled her earth green hooded jerkin over her head and shook her hair out with a frustrated sigh. She pulled on her boots and checked her pack once more, to make sure she had packed everything she would need. Yep. Shirts, boots, tunics, breeches, shifts, a hairbrush and no skirt whatsoever, Sora thought, smiling. And all she needed fit into only one pack, which was very convenient. Sora threw her pack over her shoulder and headed out of her room.
Link was standing across the hall with his pack at his feet and his arms crossed, waiting for her. She smiled at his childish pout and walked down the hall without bothering to say anything to him. In a few minutes Sora heard footsteps behind her and knew Link was following her, though at a good distance.
"What took you so long?" Frat asked when they finally reached the meadow.
"Sora took forever to pack." Link complained.
"It's not my fault Mom had me take a bath before I packed!" Sora retorted.
"Your Mom offered to pack for you." Link reminded her.
"Well, I want to do it myself!"
Fratello rolled his eyes, and took Sora's pack from her. He showed her how to tie it properly to the back of Robin's saddle, then helped her onto his back and handed her the lead of a small, gray pack donkey with ears even too large for the creature. Then he helped Link with his packs, but left him to struggle into Legacy's saddle on his own. Sora waited patiently, swinging her legs back and forth and looking for her parents.
"They're not coming." Frat informed her.
"Why not?" Sora asked, feeling hurt.
"Sora, you know how they feel about this." Frat said. "They just got you back, if they lose you now, they'll be heart broken."
"I have to find out, Frat." Sora repeated for what felt like the hundredth time.
"I know, Sorella." Frat said, using her full name. "Good luck."
Sora nodded and turned Robin to the forest. Link had finally gotten into his horse's saddle and rode slightly behind her. The wind ruffled Sora's hair, lifting it off her neck and she sighed. She didn't even look back as she and Link entered the forest.
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