Chapter seven: Facing Your Fears
The path led Sora to the one thing she feared the most: water. Deep, dark, black and rushing water. Out in the middle of it she noticed a small wooden rowboat. The Shadows were in it, rowing speedily to the other side of the underground lake. Sora groaned and sat down in the dirt, feeling totally helpless.
She looked out over the water, digging her nails into the dirt and trying to find a way across without actually having to swim. There was none. With a sigh, Sora tugged off her tunic and tore it into strips of wool. The first strip she tied around the blade of Link's sword, to make sure she didn't cut herself on it. She used the second strip to tie the sword to her back. As much as she didn't want to be weighted down by it, she had a feeling she was going to need it to fight with the Shadows. If Link was even alive, he was probably badly wounded.
Sora stepped to the very edge of the water and peered down into it. It was stupid, she knew, since there was no way she would ever be able to see the bottom. She did it nonetheless, feeling as though it would reassure her somehow. When it was quite obvious that she had no other choice then to swim, she sat down and pulled off her boots. Sora dangled her feet in the water and a chill ran up her spine.
"Brrrr!" Sora exclaimed.
She stared down at the water a moment, and then, hanging tightly to the edge of the dirt floor, she jumped in. The cold water rushed up to meet her, soaking her clothes and chilling her heart. She was so sick of all these stupid little problems of hers! Maybe she did get dunked in the water under bad circumstances, but now Link needed her and this was no time to be a wimp. With a resolute nod, Sora let go of the ledge and plunged into the water.
At first she just sank, the water closing over her head and leaving her stranded in the dark. But anger with herself fueled her and she clawed her way to the surface. She gasped as she caught a breath of air and her lungs burned. The air wasn't particularly fresh, but it was air nonetheless. Sora took a few deep breaths and started forward.
The going was tough at first, but Sora quickly caught on. Frat had told her she had been very good at swimming when she was really young. At the moment, Sora had a hard time believing that, but she didn't spend time thinking about it. Link needed her! If he weren't already dead, he would be soon. She couldn't leave him to that fate; after all they had been through. He was her friend, after all, and friends just don't let friends die.
Suddenly the water around her grew violent. Sora was dunked under water and came face to face with a mouth full of sharply pointed teeth. She screamed, although it came out in a trail of bubbles and swam frantically for the surface. The thing was already up there and waiting for her, but when she saw it, she could not bring herself to be afraid of it, even as its leaned toward her with wide-open jaws.
"Hang on to me." Frat instructed Faylore.
"You said that already." Faylore reminded him.
"I know." Frat replied. "I'm just making sure you listened."
"Well after the hundredth time you can't not listen." Faylore muttered. "You seem pretty impatient for someone who has a 50/50 chance of dying." Frat said sarcastically.
"I don't care if I die!" Faylore exclaimed. "Just as long as Link is okay…"
Frat shook himself. He was getting very mixed feelings about this girl. His instincts told him that she was bad news, but his compassion made him feel for her. She seemed genuinely worried about Link. It made Frat wonder if the feelings he felt really were jealousy, as Summer Sky had teased him about. Maybe he was upset that she liked Link, and not him. And yet, something told him it was not that at all.
"Can we get on with this already!?" Faylore demanded, stomping a foot.
"Hold your horses!" Frat snapped.
"Horses." Faylore sighed. "Link seemed to like beautiful horses…" "I'm gonna be sick." Frat muttered.
The thing in front of Sora was indeed a Dragon. She was certain of it. It had silvery blue fur, instead of scale, webbed feet, and huge, soulful amber eyes. Sora reached up and gently petted its soft nose. The thing huffed a breath at her and Sora tried to keep a smile on her face, although it had awful breath.
"Hello, there, Dragon." Sora said, wishing it might speak back. "What is your name?"
-I am called Water- A voice in her head spoke. Sora jumped.
"Water?" Sora said. "How interesting."
-What is your name, childling?- Water asked.
"Sora. Pleased to meet you." Sora replied. "Do you often have conversations with your dinner."
A mental laugh, -I'm not going to eat you-
"Well that's a relief." Sora sighed. "Hey, maybe you can help me!"
-I don't know- Water said honestly. -I can only help you if you have a good soul-Sora frowned. "Oh. Well I don't know if I have a good soul."
-I sense that you do- Water told her. -I think that I would like to help you.
What is it you need of me, childling?"
"Can you carry me across the river?" Sora asked hopefully. "I'm afraid of the water, but my friend needs me!"
-Your friend you say? Am I your friend- Water wanted to know.
"Certainly!" Sora answered. "You're so beautiful. And it would be so great if you would help me get across. I have a great debt to you now." A mental smile, -The climb on, friend. I am not very big but neither are you.
You should fit-
Sora swam over to Water and climbed onto her back. Indeed, the Dragon was pretty small, but she was the perfect size for Sora. Sora rested against the Dragon's oddly warm neck and closed her eyes, worn to the bone. Water's coat was like fine satin beneath her fingers. The Dragons movements rocked Sora into a dreamy state that was neither awake, nor asleep.
Before Sora knew it, Water was pulling to a stop, bumping lightly against the side of the rock floor. Sora opened her eyes and looked around a moment, and then she climbed off Water's back and struggled onto the rock ledge. The Dragon gave her an extra push with her nose, and then Sora was up, face to face with the Shadows. Link was behind them, chained to the wall, his face bruised and his body covered with deep cuts and a lot of blood.
Sora gave Water a quick thank you, then turned her attention to the Shadows. She grappled with the sword on her back until she managed to slip it out of the cloth that held it tight to her back. She pulled off the cloth wrapped around the blade as well and held it up as best she could. This is suicide, Sora thought. She had no idea how to hold the blade and now she was certain that the Shadows would kill her.
The Shadows took a step forward and Sora stepped back and slightly to the side. The lifted their blades high with one hand and held their shields with the other. Sora had to use both hands to lift her sword, and even then, it was difficult. The first Shadow lunged at her and Sora danced to the side, catching a swipe across her ribs. She yelped in pain, but held her ground. The second Shadow advanced and Sora began to wonder how long she would last.
Both Shadows lunged at her at once and she stumbled backwards, hitting the ground hard. She landed half off the edge of the stone platform and looked up in time to see one of the Shadows bringing its sword down right in line with her neck. Sora squeezed her eyes closed and waited, but nothing happened. She looked up to see the Shadows conversing in grunts and growls near the edge of the water, not far from where she lay. Sora stood and struggled away from them, watching the water also.
Suddenly something rose from the water and Sora knew without having to see it that it wasn't Water. It was twenty times Water's size; long and snake like, with teeth like broadswords in its mouth. It was scaly and shiny with a thin film of slime, and small, deeply set predator eyes. Razor sharp fins ran down its back and quills tipped the edges of its rest. It opened its mouth and hissed like a cat.
The Shadows backed away in fear, but their heavy metal armor slowed them drastically. The serpent thing caught up with them. It snaked its head out and snatched up one of the Shadows, swallowing it whole. The other Shadow grabbed her and began frantically pushing her towards the monster. Sora forced herself not to scream, she had a feeling this thing fed mostly off of fear. The serpent ignored her completely and snatched up the second Shadow, this time chewing. Sora could hear bones and metal crunching and she gulped and began backing away.
The thing lowered itself into the water, keeping only it's monstrous head above the water and watched the girl. Sora backed away until she walked right into the wall. Link opened his eyes and looked up her. He gave her a quick, lopsided smile, then slipped into unconsciousness once again. Sora kneeled down, one eye on the monster, and began checking his wounds.
Fratello stirred the watery mixture in the huge black pot absently, his mind else where until Faylore smacked him smartly on the shoulder. He looked up, startled, and then went back to work. Faylore was crushing a mixture of herbs, leaves and flower petals into a fine powder. When she finished she dumped it into the pot that Frat was stirring. Frat nodded and picked up a bottle full of red liquid from the shelf. "What is that?" Faylore asked.
"You don't want to know." Frat muttered.
"If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't have asked." Faylore pointed out.
"It's a mixture of rats' blood and frog guts." Frat told her. "Yuck!" Faylore exclaimed. "I didn't know you were a bunch of witches and warlocks."
"We're not." Frat said. "But our magic comes from nature. As gross as it sounds, rats' blood and frog guts are very potent." "Oh. I see. So, since frogs and rats our from nature, you can use parts of them for magic."
"That's interesting." Faylore mused. "I've never heard of something like that before."
"You wouldn't have." Frat explained. "Hyrule doesn't really have stuff like that."
Faylore nodded and watched him pour the blood and guts into the water mixture. He began stirring it again, until it became thick, covered with a thin film of rat's blood. The he lit a fire beneath it and sat down. Faylore sat down next to him.
"What is that used for?" Faylore asked.
Frat grinned. "Believe it or not, it's used as a type of incense almost. It will put my mom and dad into a relaxed state so they call on enough magic to transport us to the Sheikahs' kingdom."
"Wow!" Faylore exclaimed. "That's really amazing! If Link weren't in trouble, I would like to stay here and learn more about this place." "It's too late for that." Frat sighed.
At that moment his parents walked through the door. They were dressed in long ceremonial robes, in earth green and brown. The mix had begun to boil letting off a very pleasant smell and Frat's parents took their places in large wooden chairs beside the old pot. Faylore and Fratello stood and held onto each other so neither of them would get lost on the pathways of magic. When they were certain everything was ready, Frat's parents began chanting words that Faylore couldn't understand.
The world around them suddenly became very bright. Images blurred into shapes and shadows, then disappeared altogether. The floor suddenly vanished and Faylore screamed as a feeling of being thrown through the air came over her.
Oliana sat in a small, shadowy niche in the wall of the conference room. She watched the people sitting around the table talking with great interest. All of them were important in their own way. Cara, Link's nursemaid, was there and so was Isannah, speaking on the King's behalf. But the one who caught all of Oli's attention was the King's old advisor, Nicodemus. He was at least 80 years old, if not more, with beady, rat like eyes, a beaky nose and a mouth full of half rotted teeth. But Oli sensed there was something more rancid about this man than just his teeth.
She knew he was the one who had advised the King to fight the Gerudos when they had come charging into the castle weeks before. Oli also knew that he hadn't been there when the King had died. Supposedly he was off on some business or other but Oliana remained suspicious. When she found this little niche here, with its passageway leading down to the stables, she decided to keep an eye on old Nicodemus.
Now Oli pushed open the bit of wall and started to climb through the narrow pass. She only fit because she was so small for her age; otherwise she would not have been able to get through. The passage sloped steeply downward after a few feet and Oliana had the habit of sliding down it on her stomach. It wasn't very ladylike, but it was fun.
She landed at the bottom of the passageway and pushed open the door. It opened up at the bottom of an old stall that wasn't used anymore. Oliana stood and dusted herself off, then headed to her mare's stall for their usual afternoon ride. She had special plans of her own this time and she couldn't be caught, so she would have to ride where no one could see her.
When she reached her destination, which was the small strip of land next to the Castle where no one bothered to go, she dismounted and walked over to the stream. Oliana walked into the stream and swam across to the other side. Once there she spread a sheet on the ground and sat in the middle, pulling things from her pack and setting them around her.
She had plans to try a locating spell, so she could find Link. Hyrule needed him right now, so whatever he went off to learn, he better have learned it. Oliana closed her eyes and took a deep breath, readying herself. Suddenly something swept Oliana up and she screamed as a force beyond recognition slammed into her and threw her across Hyrule Field.
Sora tore her shirt from the bottom up to her ribs and tore off the sleeves too. She knew she would need the cloth to bandage Link's many wounds so she could stop the bleeding and keep him from dying. As she went to work, she forgot about the monster in the lake and even got up enough courage to creep up to the water and soak the cloth in it. The creature looked at her hungrily, but didn't move and Sora scampered back to Link's side.
She studied the chains a moment, then noticed the keys hanging on the wall nearby. She grabbed them and unlocked the chains and Link fell limply to the ground. Sora kneeled by his side once more and began wrapping some strips of cloth around the wounds on Link's arms and ribs. She bandaged the wound on his head with a piece of the wet cloth and also the one on his shoulder. Then she frowned because she had come up short on cloth.
Sora sighed and tore her breeches as well, both legs up to the knees. First she bandaged up the last wound, then darted back to the water's edge and dunked the rest of the cloth into the water. She darted back to Link and began cleaning out her own wounds, which were much less severe. She tied one piece of cloth around her own head to cool herself down, then re-wrapped the sword and strapped it to her back once again. By then Link was awake. "Sora." Link croaked.
"Hey there, sleepy head." Sora murmured, smiling.
"You rescued me?" Link asked, his voice hoarse.
"Because you're my friend." Sora replied. "You've been there for me before. I couldn't let you down."
"You swam across the water." Link reminded her.
"I had a little help." Sora grinned.
"Can we get out of here now?" Link asked.
Sora shook her head. "There's this thing in the water. And there's no way out up here."
"So we failed." Link said.
"I know." Sora looked down and tears slid down her cheeks.
"Don't cry." Link murmured, raising a hand to brush her tears away.
Sora looked at him through tear blurred vision. Link smiled at her weakly and she smiled back. Sora closed her eyes and relaxed. Suddenly she felt a stirring in the air and knew at once what it was. Sora's eyes flew open and she let whoop of joy. Link looked at her as though she was crazy and Sora grinned and hugged him.
"OW!" Link cried.
"Sorry." Sora giggled and let go. "I found a way out of here!"
Link sat up. "You did? How?"
"There's a magic transport in the air!" Sora explained excitedly. "I may be able to grab hold of it. I'm not sure of which direction it's going, but I think it may be headed for the Sheikahs' kingdom!" "A magic what?" Link asked, looking puzzled.
"Transport!" Sora sat again. "It will get us out of here."
Link nodded. "I see. Kind of like the Wake?"
"Exactly like it!" Sora grinned.
"So what do we have to do?" Link asked.
Carefully Sora hugged him again, pressing herself close. "As long as we remain in contact, neither of us can get lost. I'll reach out for the path and all you need to do is make sure we continue our contact." Link nodded and hugged her back feebly. Sora rested her head lightly on his shoulder.
"I need to concentrate, so be as silent as you can." Sora instructed, closing her eyes.
Link didn't say a word. A smile tugged at Sora's lips and she fought down a giggle. Concentrate Sorella! Sora said firmly to herself. Inside something seemed to nod and Sora reached out for the magic path concentrating deeply. What she grabbed a hold of was a bright flash of light, and then a retching feeling in her stomach. She shrieked and felt Link tighten his grip on her as the world fell away.
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