Chapter six: The Journey into Peril
"You first." Sora mumbled, staring into the pitch black of the cave.
"Afraid not. Ladies first, Sorella." Link countered. "Call me that again and I'll beat your brains in." Sora quipped, smiling sweetly. "Now go in!"
"And we were getting along so well." Link pouted. He grinned mischievously and Sora lightly smacked his arm.
"Don't be such a wise ass, Your Highness." Sora muttered.
"Are we stalling here?" Link asked. "'Cause I get the feeling we are."
"We are." Sora replied.
Together the stepped into the infinite darkness, which in truth was illuminated slightly by a strange light. Sora knew that torches were not allowed here, but until now she had no idea how you were supposed to see. Well, now I know, Sora thought bitterly. Beside her Link stirred and his eyes darted nervously from shadowed corner to shadowed corner. "So, uh, what exactly is so perilous about this place?" Link asked, after they had walked along in the same, endless scenery for almost an hour. "The trials." Sora explained. "There can be as many as one, to one thousand.
Most people don't make it out alive."
"Yeah, I remember that part." Link muttered.
Link and Sora both stopped dead in their tracks as the scenery changed abruptly. The floor of the cave had fallen away, except for a small, winding trail along the far wall. It was only a foot or so thick, and didn't look entirely stable. Sora and Link glanced at each other, both extremely nervous, then headed onto the small walk. When it didn't crumble after a few minutes, both Sora and Link began to relax.
Sora hummed as she walked, to keep her mind off the black void just to her side. Suddenly Link stopped her and signaled for her to be silent. Sora listened, but she heard nothing. She shrugged and pushed Link forward. He walked on, somewhat reluctantly, listening to Sora's humming. After a few minutes he stopped once again.
"I think maybe we better hang onto each other." Link suggested. "Just in case this path crumbles."
"Oh great." Sora said sarcastically. "That way both of is will die."
"Just do it, Sora!" Link hissed."
Link sighed and continued walking. This path seemed endless; winding up along the wall into darkness that was just as endless. Sora continued her humming, louder this time, as fear of falling began to rise in her throat. Link stared straight ahead, blocking out all sounds except for his own breath, so he was in a calm, peaceful state and wasn't thinking about the long fall down.
Suddenly the path gave way, falling out from beneath Sora's feet so fast she barely had a chance to scream. Link lunged and grabbed her wrist as she fell. Her weight pulled him down onto his stomach and he nearly slid over the edge as Sora reached up and grabbed his wrist with both her hands. Link scrambled, trying to find a grip on the hard stone with the toes of his boots. "Link." Sora said, her voice barely above a whisper. It raised in panic as pieces of rock fell out of the side of the tarnished path and tumbled down the pit, never making a sound of hitting bottom.
Link inched backwards on his stomach, holding onto Sora with all his strength. He could feel the ground begin to crumble beneath him, but he ignored it and continued to inch his way back. Sora struggled, trying to climb up the wall, without much success. Finally Link had her most of the way up, when more rock gave way and both of them nearly tumbled into the pit. "Link!" Sora screamed, her voice filled with panic.
"I've got you, Sora." Link soothed.
"You don't even have yourself." Sora muttered.
Link was halfway off the edge of the path, the rock cutting sharply into his stomach. He continued trying to scoot backwards, while Sora continued with her scramble-grapple-scamper climbing that wasn't getting her much of anywhere. Finally Link hooked his foot around a sharp bit of rock poking out from the walls and hauled himself backwards. Sora scrambled up the edge and landed in his arms, and for a minute he thought she wasn't breathing. "Sora!" Link said, shaking her. "Sora, are you okay?"
"If you don't stop shaking me I'll be sick." Sora moaned.
"Oops! Sorry!" Link let her go.
Sora's eyes widened as she felt the ground beneath her begin to give way and both she and Link jumped to their feet. Link held her wrist and ran, half dragging her along. After each step they took the rock would crumble and fall down into the pit, right behind them. Sora yelped as the rock gave way right beneath her foot and Link was barely able to pull her to safety. He looked up the long, winding path with dismay. There seemed to be no end to it.
Just when they thought their troubles had ended, the path in front of them shattered, spraying them with debris. Then everything stilled and Link and Sora stood together on their tiny platform of rock, barely breathing. The gap between them and the rest of the path was only a foot wide, but they weren't sure how to go about getting across it.
Finally Link just shoved Sora forward and jumped over after her. She stumbled and nearly fell off the edge. Sora turned to give Link a dirty look when the path once again began falling apart. Link grabbed Sora's wrist once again and dragged her along the path at top speed. They reached the end of the path and tumbled to the floor of a small chamber just as the rest of the path fell away. Sora and Link sat, breathing heavily and staring at the empty void that had once been the path with great fear.
Link glanced around the room and his mouth fell open in horror. Chained to the walls were skeletons, their bones still red with blood, their own mouths hanging wide open. One had an arm half off; the other had its jaw hanging on by only a thread of dried tissue. Old bits of armor hung off the remains and Link spied a shield that would be some use to him if it weren't too heavy "Well, we're safe." Sora breathed. "For now at least." "Knock on wood." Link murmured.
Sora rapped her knuckles lightly against the stone floor, because there was no wood. She looked up at Link and smiled weakly, trying to lighten the mood a bit. Link gently patted her on the back and went back to studying the room. He could have sworn it looked like a battle area. Of course, Link didn't know what a battle area was supposed to look like, so he had no idea where he had gotten that from.
"Sora," Link said, turning back to her. "Do you see a way out of here?"
Sora glanced around. "Well, no. That's odd."
"Well, doesn't this look kind of like a place where a battle would be?" Link explained, waving his hand vaguely at the room.
"Don't say that!" Sora hissed. At that exact moment there was a rattle of chains behind them. They both turned and stared in horror.
"All right, Isannah." Oliana said, lifting the girl off her cream colored pony. "I think 6 hours of riding is enough, don't you?" "No way!" Isannah exclaimed. "I can never get enough riding!" Oliana chuckled. "When I have a little girl of my own, I hope she's just like you."
"You like kids, don't you Oli?" Isannah asked, tilting her head to one side. "Sure do, Izzy." Oliana replied, smiling. "I have a lot of little brothers and sisters. Of course, none of them are as well behaved as you." Isannah beamed with pride. "You're gonna go riding with me again sometime, right Oli?"
"Of course!" Oliana laughed. "You know I love to ride. Now come on. We better get inside before Cara throws a fit. It's way passed time for your bath!"
Isannah sighed and led her pony away to the stables. Oliana stood and watched her go, her hands on her hips. Suddenly Isannah turned and looked back, her face tear streaked and her voice choked by sobs. "When is Link coming home?" Isannah asked.
Oliana sighed and looked away sadly. "I don't know, Izzy. I just don't know."
Isannah continued on her way to the stables, but Oliana sat on the fence and stared up at the sky, knowing it would soon be sunset, time for her weekly ritual. Link and his friends had only been gone a few weeks and already she had a 'weekly ritual'. Oliana shook her head and jumped down off the fence, cursing furiously as her skirt got caught on a splinter of wood sticking out from the boards.
"Retched things!" Oliana hissed. "Oh what I would give to be free of skirts forever!"
Oliana stomped to the stables, knowing Isannah had already gone inside and no one else would be there, since it was time for dinner. She walked down the aisle until she came to her horse's stall. Her mare was waiting with her head over the stall door, knowing what was to come. Oliana smiled, feeling a small relief in the sight of her horse.
Oliana saddled her horse quickly, hoping none of the stable boys would catch her, mounted, and rode swiftly down the path and away from the castle. Her mare was short, but fast and they were out on Hyrule field in no time. Oliana leaned over her mare's withers, clutching her mane and letting the wind sting her cheeks.
They arrived at Lake Hylia in a short time and galloped through the passage where there had once been gates. They burst out on the small village that had been there for the last ten years and raced towards the bridge next to the lake side laboratory. Oliana slowed her mare as she reached it and walked her across the long bridge, admiring the setting sun. They walked to the small island where the water temple resided and Oliana dismounted. She walked to a grave under the huge tree on the Island and kneeled down beside it.
"Oh Papa!" Oliana cried, bursting into tears.
She sat down hard in the dirt, sobbing fitfully. It's my fault, Oliana thought. If I'd been nicer to Link, then we would be married and I'd be able to keep up the castle. Papa loved it so much! Now it'll fall to bits and I'll be stuck at Hyrule Castle, when they have enough problems already as it is! Oliana hung her head and dug her nails into the ground, furious with herself.
"It's all my fault." Oliana murmured, staring out onto the horizon. "Oh, Link, please be okay."
"This is not good!" Link shouted, backing against the far wall.
The skeletons that were chained to the wall were moving! Their eyes glowed a demonic red in the dim light of the chamber and they fixed Link and Sora with hungry looks as they broke out of their chains. Both skeletons picked up their sword and shield and stood there gwuaffing at their would be meal. Sora grabbed Link's arm and backed up farther against the wall. "What the Hell are those things!?" Sora demanded. "I'm not sure. They look like Stalfos." Link said. He gulped and added, "Only worse."
"That's not very reassuring!"
The skeletons stalked forward brandishing their swords and shields threateningly. Link pulled his own sword out from where it was strapped to his back and Sora picked up and piece of wood from the floor that might have once been a staff. She didn't think it would do her much good, but she felt better having a weapon, as meek as it was. She eyed Link's sword with a slight bit of envy then shrugged. There's other things to worry about right now, Sora, she thought to herself.
The skeletons (Sora had by then started to call them Shadows) didn't charged, but hung back, jumping around, waving their swords and making that sound that was somewhere between a growl and a laugh. One approached Link, while the other eased its way over to Sora. Sora gulped and stepped forward, holding up her staff and wondering what good it would do.
Finally, when Sora was certain she would explode with impatience, one of the Shadows lunged at Link and swung its sword in a wild arc. Link jumped back, but not in time to escape the very edge of the blade. It sliced across his arm, leaving a deep gash and a dark trail of blood in its wake. Link winced, but he didn't give up.
Again the Shadow lunged. This time Link was more prepared and he parried the attack, only to be hit sharply with another one. Fortunately he caught it just in time and fell back against the wall, unconscious. Sora gulped as now both Shadows approached her, disappointed that their other victim had stopped moving so abruptly. Sora held up her staff, the whole time calling herself an idiot and mentally kicking herself.
One of the Shadows moved forward. Sora expected it to attack, but instead it smacked her over the head with the hilt of its sword. For a moment Sora stood there, stunned, and then she collapsed. For a moment Sora just lay there, staring at the stone floor as her head throbbed and the Shadows laughed in a way that was so very creepy. Then the whole world went black.
The Shadows laughed all the harder. One picked up Link and the other one gave Sora a last kick, sending her into the wall. She stirred as she hit it, but didn't wake. Satisfied, the Shadows started down a path that had suddenly opened in the wall and carried Link off, still gwuaffing.
"I sure hope Sora is all right." Frat said, resting his cheek against Summer Sky's silky mane.
"I'm sure she's fine." Poonta said. "Really, what could possibly be that bad?" "When you've been here a little longer, ask that question again." Frat muttered. "Until then, keep your ignorant mouth shut." Poonta looked slight hurt. "Manůsomeone here woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Grouch!"
"You're not even the slightest bit worried?" Frat asked.
"Of course I am!" Poonta replied. "I'm just trying to deny it."
"Way to go, Gerudo Girl." Faylore muttered.
"Oh good, two grouches. What's your problem, Faylore?"
"I'm worried about Link!" Faylore snapped. "Isn't it obvious?"
"Well, since you've spent pretty much all morning whining about, I guess so."
"Now who's the grouch?" Frat teased.
"I don't know." Poonta shrugged. "You, maybe?"
"You're spending way too much time around Sora." Frat said.
"Definitely." Faylore agreed.
"In case you haven't noticed, Sora isn't here to spend time with." Poonta reminded them.
"We know that!" Frat and Faylore snapped in unison. "Okay, okay!" Poonta held up her hands. "Sorry to upset you, Master and Mistress."
"Have you always been that way?" Frat asked. "You're so like Sora it's almost scary."
"It is scary." Faylore muttered.
Poonta shrugged again. "I guess that's why we clicked so well. If we had been very different I would probably have killed her by now." "Yeah you and anyone else with brains." Frat joked. "I think we're all in denial." Faylore said softly. "Making jokes like this, and all. We should do something to take our minds off it. Although I don't know what could possibly take my mind of Link." Faylore finished with a dispairing sigh.
"Ugh! How about me being sick from that speech all over your dress?" Poonta asked.
Faylore crinkled her nose. "That would do it."
"How 'bout we all go for a swim." Frat suggested. "There's an ocean shore not far from here. We could ride horses down there." "Oh how romantic!" Faylore exclaimed. Then she stopped. "Oh, but Link isn't here. He'll miss it!"
"I know." Frat said. "But we really need something to do."
Poonta and Faylore nodded in agreement. They decided they would all meet back here in half an hour. Poonta and Faylore went off to pack a lunch and Frat went to collect some horses for the girls to ride.
"What a day!" Fratello groaned, plopping down on his bed.
He was speaking to no one in particular, since no one was in the room with him. He just felt better hearing his voice outloud, as though complaining to the walls would make the pain go away. Frat chuckled softly to himself, sat up and began pulling his slightly wet clothes off. His boots made a sloshing sound when he yanked them off his feet and he began to wish he'd taken them off before splashing through the water on Sky.
Frat put on a dry pair of loose breeches and crawled under the covers, totally worn out. The bed was soft and felt really good to his aching bones. The silence in the room was a bit unnerving, but Frat hummed one of the tunes he and Sora had made up when they were younger and ignored it.
Suddenly something shrieked and landed on top of him. Frat struggled to sit up, but claws dug deeply into his wrist. All he could see when he looked up was a wide mouth full of sharp teeth, each at least four inches long, if not more. It growled, giving Frat a good whiff of its breath. He could guess what it had eaten for dinner and that didn't make him happy, since what it had eaten was two times the size of Frat.
The thing slashed Frat across the ribs then jumped down off of him. Frat sat up abruptly and stared at the thing. It looked like a wolf made of shadows, except it had purple eyes. It growled, low in deep then turned and walked out the door. Frat stared after it, feeling a sudden sense of dread and he knew what the warning had been about.
Frat leapt to his feet and nearly stumbled, weak from the wound in his side. He grabbed a shirt, threw it over his shoulder, and raced down the hall, yelling for his parents. Doors flew open and his parents and all his siblings, plus Poonta and Faylore ran out to see what all the commotion was about. Frat pulled up short, gasping and waved them all away. Iola gasped and began yelling when she noticed the deep gashes on Frat's arms and ribs. "Mom, I'm okay!" Frat assured her. "But I have a feeling Sora is in trouble."
"What?" Iola shrieked. "No, no! It can't be!" Iola began to sob loudly. Darrius put an arm around his wife's shoulder and held her tight. "Are you sure, son?"
"Yes!" Frat nodded his head vigorously. "Both she and Link are in serious trouble."
"Not Link!" Faylore exclaimed. "It can't be!"
Frat rolled his eyes. "It is! I need to go help them!"
"But how?" Darrius asked, reasonably. "There is only one way."
"You know that's not true!" Frat accused. "You and mom can send me there!"
"It's too dangerous!" Iola said. "I refuse to let you go."
"Mom I have to!" Frat pleaded desperately.
"What if I go with him?" Faylore interrupted. "I could help!"
"And me too!" Poonta added, jumping to Faylore's side. "We could all go!"
"No!" Iola cried. "We can't let them Darrius!"
Darrius looked grim. "We have to. It's the only way." "What's so bad about it?" Poonta asked. "It can't be worse than that cave thing." Darrius and Iola stared at her.
"Only ignorance." Frat muttered.
"It can be more dangerous than the passage." Darrius explained. "If your can't handle the amount of magic, your body will be ripped to shreds." "In that case, I think I'd rather tackle the cave."
Sora woke with a big time a headache. She had a bruise on her cheek, a series of scrapes and then a few more bruises. I must look like a Zebra with cuts, Sora thought bitterly. She looked around the room. There wasn't much there; the Shadows and Link were both gone, and they'd managed to take all the weaponry (including the cheesy old staff) with them. All that was left, Sora noticed when she looked harder, was Link's sword and a tunnel that had appeared out of nowhere in the far wall.
Sora stood up, wondering what had happened to Link, and limped over to Link's sword. She picked it up and held it close to her body, feeling strange comfort in having it with her. It was strangely warm, although she was certain she had been old cold for hours.
"I've got to rescue him." Sora said determinedly and started slowly down the path.
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