Chapter five: Strange Waters
Sora gripped Robin's mane, letting the reins dangle about his neck as they moved through the forest. She stared down at the soft bed of pine needles on the floor of the forest and hummed softly to herself, to keep her mind from wandering. Occasionally Robin would turn his head and nudge her foot with his nose, and Link would make a frustrated noise in his throat. They had been riding for hours and both of them had been entirely silent except for Sora's humming, and Link whistling along. Suddenly Sora giggled. "What?" Link asked, forgetting his vow to be silent. "Oh, it's just funny." Sora replied. "We can't get along when we're talking, but when it comes to music, we are in perfect harmony." Link chuckled. "Maybe that's the way it should be." "Hmm…yeah I guess." Sora said. "Well, with my harp songs and your voice, we're a pretty good team when it comes to music." "Is that supposed to be some kind of insult?" Link demanded. "No." Sora answered, rather calmly. "Your voice is like gold. I could just sit and listen to you sing all day."
Sora stopped and turned her head so her hair covered the flush on her cheeks. Link blushed also and stared down at Legacy's mane. Sora stared out of the corner of her eye at his hunched form and realized something a moment too late.
"Link, sit up!" Sora yelled.
Link's head shot up, but it was truly too late. Legacy backed up a bit, then bucked violently. Link tumbled head over heals and landed in the dirt, yelling curses and shaking his fists at the rapidly backing horse. Sora giggled, jumped out of Robin's saddle and helped Link to his feet. Link sighed and dusted the seat of his breeches.
"I guess no one warned you." Sora said, still giggling. "Legacy is really mischievous. If you don't pay attention, he'll take advantage and throw you off."
"Yeah, no kidding." Link muttered, scowling.
"Don't be mad at Legacy." Sora said. "He was just playing."
Link looked up and gave Sora a lopsided smile. She smiled back and reached up to pet Legacy's nose as he walked up to her. Link watched her until she turned and he got caught up in her eyes. They sparkled with fun and the dying light of day. Suddenly Sora broke her gaze and jumped back into Robin's saddle. She motioned to the pine needle path in front of them. "Robin should be able to find a camp spot." Sora told him. Link just nodded and struggled back into Legacy's saddle.
The cave no longer seemed like a dream, but a nightmare from the dark energies emitted by the two people sitting huddled together near the edge of the water. They were both in cloaks that covered their faces and spoke in low voice, neither one mentioning a name. The way they held each other was the way of lovers, which they were.
"Do you honestly think they can make it?" One asked. It was female.
"Yes." The other one replied. This one was male. "If they do it together."
"But they're always bickering!" The female protested. "This is true." The male agreed. "But that is not the important fact. They are the ones of the Prophecy. Their destinies are intertwined." "Them?" The female snorted. "How is that possible? They're likely to kill each other."
"So it seems." The male said. "But I can see it, in the way they look at each other. Even the way they argue, in perfect order. They were meant to work together."
"Just like us?" The female asked, snuggling up closer to her lover. "Just like us." The male agreed, holding her close. "Soon, you will have everything you want, and more, my love."
The female nodded absently and flicked the water in small sprays with her long, delicate fingers. She tilted her head to one side and sat pondering a moment, before turning to the male once again. "When shall I reveal it?" She asked.
"Not yet. Do not let them know." The male replied. "I will tell you when the right moment comes."
Sora stepped carefully along the pine needle path, staring up at the water ahead of her with dread. She hated water, always had, but she was dirty and washing off would feel nice. She stopped at the edge of the lake, staring down into it. Even with the shafts of silver moonlight spilling over the water, Sora could not see the bottom and that scared her very much. But if she wanted to get clean, she had no choice.
Sora undressed slowly, starting by removing her boots. She pulled off her jerkin and the tunic underneath, revealing a thin woolen shift. She took off her breeches, shivering slightly in the night air and then sat down on the bank of the lake, dangling her feet in the water.
The sound of something moving through the forest at high speed made Sora start. She turned and saw Link charging through the trees, his hair flying behind him, dressed in only his breeches. He jumped into the lake, splashing Sora. When he came up from under the water he pushed back his wet hair and laughed at Sora's expression.
"It's just water, Sora." Link laughed, flicking some at her.
"Don't!" Sora snapped, backing up and tucking her legs underneath her.
"Hmm…I think it's time for Sora's first swimming lesson." Link joked.
Link grinned and climbed up onto the bank. Sora jumped to her feet and ran for the safety of the trees, but Link caught her and picked her up by the waist. Sora screamed as her threw her into the lake. Terror filled her brain as the water closed over her head and she clawed around in the water, trying to reach the surface. Then Sora felt something grab onto her and drag her up. It was Link, and he was laughing.
"You look like a drowned rat!" Link exclaimed.
"I feel like one!" Sora retorted.
"Hey, calm down." Link said, lifting her and holding her up. "I won't let anything happen to you."
"Yeah right." Sora muttered. "You'll probably try to drown me." "Sora, I would never hurt you." Link told her. "I mean yeah, sometimes I'd like to wring your neck, but I never will."
Sora punched his arm playfully. "You vain little peacock!"
"Me?" Link smiled innocently. "Never!"
"Oh come off it!" Sora laughed. "You are the vainest boy I ever met!"
"Vainer than Frat?" Link asked, grinning.
"Well, no, I guess not." Sora replied and giggled.
"I think it's time to start your lesson."
"Don't you dare!"
Link grinned and dunked Sora under the water. Sora struggled until she got away and swam to the shallow end, nearly in full panic. Link picked her up again and held her close until she calmed down. She rested her head on his shoulder and it was then that he noticed she was crying. "What's wrong?" Link asked, pulling her away from him enough to look at her face.
"I told you!" Sora cried. "I told you I'm afraid of water!"
"I'm sorry." Link put Sora down in the shallow water. "Sorry? Sorry!" Sora shouted. "You're not sorry! You're a selfish little brat!"
"You're one to talk!" Link retorted. "At least you have a family! You don't have to be so mean to me ya know!"
Sora rolled her eyes. "You didn't even cry after your family died. You seem to be just fine, all happy, not a care in the world. How dare you even try to use that against me!"
Link turned his back to her, his feelings hurt and stared down into the water. Sora sighed and he could hear her shifting impatiently from foot to foot and muttering as though he were a small child who had spilled a glass of milk and thought she hated him. Finally Sora approached him and rested a hand gently on his shoulder. He turned and stared at her accusingly. "I'm sorry, Link." Sora shrugged and looked directly into his eyes. "I'm just really confused right now and I don't need you whining at me." Link shook his head. "Just forget it. We should be getting back to camp anyway."
"Yeah." Sora agreed softly. "I mean, 'cause, if we don't something might come
along and steal our stuff and then where would we-"
Link pressed his mouth softly to hers, cutting her off in mid-sentence. Sora started and backed away. She stared at him with wide eyes, like he was some ancient creature's bones that had gotten up, reassembled themselves, and started to dance. Realizing what he had just done, Link quickly racked his brain for an excuse.
"Don't babble!" Link snapped, a little harsher than he'd meant to. "I have enough of a headache already as it is."
"Yeah, okay, sorry." Sora stammered, her cheeks red with anger and embarrassment.
Link climbed out of the water and immediately headed back for camp. Sora stared at his receding back until he completely disappeared into the dark forest. She pulled on her tunic and jerkin and huddled into a corner of rocks near the pond, tucking her knees up under her chin, deep in thought. She was thinking about how Link had kissed her.
Recalling how he had gently brushed his lips against hers sent a shiver down her spine, partly from excitement, partly from fear. Excitement, because she'd never been kissed before and a part of her (a small part) always wondered what it was like. Fear, because she had no idea what it meant and if it would change things. They needed to be getting along now, not fighting or even not speaking to each other. The thoughts and the long day finally wore Sora out. Her eyelids slowly drifted shut and she was asleep.
Link was dreaming, which he found hard to believe because he never dreamed. And because he was so totally aware, even though he was certain this was a dream. He noticed that Sora was there too, leaning of a cauldron of water, her brow furrowed in deep concentration. Finally she looked up and Link followed her gaze. An old crone stood in the doorway, watching Sora. Her ratty black hair fell to her waist, her skirts were torn at the ends, her nose was long and wart covered, like witches from old tales. She was smiling at Sora and Link could see rotted, crooked teeth. "I can't see it." Sora said, her voice slightly whiny.
"Of course not!" The old crone snapped, her smile suddenly gone. "Only I can!"
"Well tell me what you see!"
The crone shook her head. "We must wait for the boy."
"Who, Link?" Sora laughed bitterly. "Old lazy bones? I don't think so, Saba."
"Don't worry, child. He's already here." Saba looked over at Link.
Sora turned too. It was then Link noticed how she was dressed, in only her tunic and jerkin, her feet bare and her hair still slightly wet. She didn't smile when she saw him, but her eyes were clouded with confusion and Link could take a wild guess why.
"Oh, hey, Link." Sora nodded to him and turned back to the cauldron.
"What do you want with us?" Link demanded of Saba.
"Calm down, boy!" Saba said, harshly.
Link walked over to them and stood next to Sora, glancing down into the seemingly bottomless water of the cauldron. Saba took his hand and forced him to hold Sora's. Sora stepped away from him slightly and Saba pushed her back, making her bump into him. She took their clasped hands and held them over the water of the cauldron. Link could feel heat rising from the water, even though it wasn't boiling.
Suddenly Link was in swirling colors, like that of the thing that had brought them to Caseree Isle in the first place. He grasped Sora's hand tightly, feeling comfort on her presence. Link could feel her terror as she clung to him and it was his own as well, terror of something that was powerful and awful. He held Sora tightly in his arms, unwilling to let go of her, feeling a strange need to protect her.
"You will awake, and remember nothing." Saba chanted.
Link's eyes snapped open at the last second and he pulled his hand from Sora's. He stared down into the cauldron and noticed a picture at the surface of the water. Then the room where he was standing, Saba, Sora and the cauldron as well faded into oblivion.
Link awoke to darkness, which his eyes adjusted to quicker than normal. He was certain he'd just had a dream, but all he could remember was flashes of images, including a picture in some water. The picture was clear and perfect in his mind, and gave him a destination for the late night walk he felt an urge to take. He clambered to his feet and started into the forest without a second thought.
He found her where he had expected to, curled up in a corner of a pile of rocks, asleep with her head on her knees. Link picked her up and cradled her in his arms, feeling an emotion he remembered from his dream. In a heartbeat, it was gone and Link shook his head in disgust. He headed back towards camp, holding the soaking, shivering Sora in his arms. She stirred and looked up at him, blinking.
"I feel asleep." Sora said, stating the obvious.
"I know." Link said softly. "You're wet. You'll be lucky if you don't catch a fever."
"I'm sorry." Sora closed her eyes and sighed, snuggling up against him.
"It's okay." Link murmured and continued on to camp, trying not to think.
"Anyway, I believe we're almost to the Gates." Sora was saying.
"Took us long enough." Link complained.
Sora glanced at him sidelong. "Come on, Link. We have to get along."
"I know, I know."
Up ahead was a small outpost, stationed a few meters away from the mouth of a cave. An old man sat at the outpost, grinning toothlessly at them. An old woman stood by his side and she was vaguely familiar. She smacked him upside the head and he turned to her. The started to quarrel and Link and Sora could hear them from a distance.
"Excuse me?" Link asked, as they approached.
"You old hag!" The old man yelled. "I'm so sick of your complaining!" "Me? You're a lazy old coot!" The woman shouted. "If it weren't for me, nothing would get done around here!"
Link cleared his throat and tried again. "Excuse me, sir and madam."
"Bah! I wear the pants in the family, woman!" The old man sneered.
"Only when you actually do wear pants!" The woman muttered. "Ahem…SHUT YOUR MOUTHES AND LISTEN TO THE BOY!!!" Sora shrieked, raising her voice above those of the fighting couple.
The two jumped, startled, and turned to face the exasperated youths. They both smiled sheepishly and again Sora felt that the old woman and the man were both familiar.
"Hi there, children." The man wheezed. "Don't you know it's impolite to interrupt people when they're having a conversation?" "Yeah." Sora replied. "But no one said it was impolite to interrupt people when they're having an argument."
"Bah! Just like the woman." The old man muttered. "Oh don't listen to him! Grouch!" The woman gave the man a smack on the shoulder and he yelped.
"Oh shut your windpipe!" The woman straightened herself and smiled at Link and Sora. "I am Saba. And this lazy oaf here is Endoch." "I'm not lazy!" Endoch snapped.
"Listen, we really need to go-" Link began.
"I know!" Endoch interrupted. "You want to go in the cave. Go ahead. It's your funeral, not mine."
"Have a heart!" Saba said.
"We'll be going now." Link stammered.
Link grabbed Robin's reins and quickly led Sora away. They stopped right in front of the cave and dismounted. Link waited patiently while Sora said good bye to Robin, feeling a strange understanding for what she was going through right now. Sora whispered something to Robin and he snorted, then trotted off. Legacy followed, leaving the two adventurers to stare into the dark mouth of the cave.
"Do you think they know?" Endoch asked, staring after the two children.
"Of course not!" Saba snapped. "I'm not careless, ya know!" "I beg to differ." Endoch muttered. Saba slapped him upside the head and they continued their fighting.
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