Event 4: Guardian Angel
I always felt that the rescue of Link and Malon in Chapter 16 felt a bit half-assed and I sort of hand-waved it at the time by having Impa say 'a little fairy told her,' knowing that Navi was going to be a part of this story at the time. Once I finalized how Navi was to be integrated into the story, there was this looming plot hole as to where she was the entirety of Act 1. So I wrote this chapter to better fill in the gaps as to why Impa was where she was to save Link and how Navi was spending her time researching for both the survival of the Kokiri and the ultimate merging of her and Link. Her trail in Act 1 leads her to the Gerudo and ultimately into the Twili realm some time later during Link and co.'s tenure at the Gerudo. It is also a nice thought and feeling that even after all this time, Navi was secretly working with Impa to keep Link and the others safe. This event naturally happens during Act 1 between Chapters 15 and 16.
Event 4: Guardian Angel
"Hey! Hello!" A small jingle emerged from the shadow of the wall.
Impa's ears pricked up at the sound of the unsual voice. She turned in the saddle to see a glowing ball of light flitter towards them. She raised a fist to waylay the other Sheikah who had already drawn their batons and other armaments of war. For some inexplicable reason, she knew that this…creature was not an enemy. She tried to recall where she had seen such a thing before but couldn't quite place her finger on it.
All eyes were on the blooming fairy emerging from the luminosity that had now just begun to fade. Impa instinctively raised a palm up to allow the fairy to land gently on her outstretched fingers. Dusting herself off modestly, the fairy fashioned a singular leaf of blue to cover her body admist all the onlookers around her, some of which were male.
Indeed, there was quite a crowd alongside Impa in the impromptu caravan. They were within an hour's ride from Kakariko and well on their journey eastward to the Xaagar Mountains where they would be hunkering down before their next move. The village was lost and their primary concern was getting Princess Zelda to safety. She was currently situated on another steed alongside Impa, with a grumbling Talon just behind her holding the reins. He was still bemoaning the fact they were forced to leave his daughter, Malon, back in that hell.
"Impa, right?" The little fairy quizzed rhetorically, "I remember you. There is something urgent I must tell you."
A spark of memory alighted in Impa's mind as she smiled warmly at the little sprite. "Navi." She spoke softly. "You were Link's fairy. I remember you now."
Navi curtsied before relaying the rest of her message. "I was just on my way to return to Link when I spotted him getting captured just outside Goron City. I do not know who those men were but they looked dangerous and could heal themselves even after death!"
Impa's face turned grim at the news, "Yes, we were unfortunate to find that out the hard way. How long ago was this?" She probed.
"Within the hour." Navi confirmed, "They were heading back to the encampment perched just within eyesight of the Hyrule Castle walls!"
Another Sheikah urged her horse alongside Impa's, her face concerned yet determined, "We cannot tarry. We must continue onwards toward Xaagar. Princess Zelda will be safe there."
Impa schrunched her eyes tightly at the dilemma she was placed in. She knew her duty and ultimate priority was to her charge but she didn't want to leave Link to die either. "I know Cayla. It would be safer there and we most likely do not have the time to go back for him."
Noticing the father of the girl captured sidle his horse closer to hear the conversation, Navi spoke a little louder to bolster support for what she was propositioning. "Link was also captured with a young girl with hair a brilliant sheen of red."
Her words had the intended effect as Talon exploded, "You saw Malon? She's alive? They kidnapped her too?" His eyes swerved back to Impa, "We have to go back! We must-"
A scathing scowl and a harsh word silenced Talon. "We cannot risk our necks for someone as trivial as your daughter." Cayla rebuked the portly man.
Talon glared at the haughty Sheikah. He opened his mouth to say more but was promptly cut off by Zelda, her eyes solely on Impa. "He is a friend of the royal family, a knight-in-training to the Hylian guard. More importantly, he is my friend. We have to go back for him."
Impa was torn between her sworn duty and the request of her charge. Her attention divided between Zelda and Navi, she wasn't sure what she should do. Her worry for the boy outweighed a lot of factors, not the least of which because both Zelda and her grew so fond of Link. Several of the nearby Sheikah were looking to her for direction, each unsure what the next course of action should be.
"Please Impa." Navi implored softly, "I cannot save him on my own."
"Enough of this!" Cayla fumed, "We are wasting valuable time here! We must keep moving onwards toward Xaagar. Only there, once Princess Zelda is safe, can we plan and execute a rescue party for him."
"His name is Link." Zelda snapped, attracting the ire of the impatient Sheikah. She ignored the daggers and turned to face Impa, "I will go no further until I know he is safe."
"It simply is not wise to bring you so near to the enemy to-" Impa began to reason.
"No!" Zelda shouted, crossing her arms, looking like quite the royal brat, "He is my friend and I wish to see him alive and free. What are you going to do? Bind and gag me and force me to leave him behind?" She bluffed huffily.
"If we have to." Cayla intoned, all passion removed from her voice.
"Silence!" Impa bellowed, even Navi took a few steps back on her fingers. "This is what we are going to do." She turned to Talon and Zelda before pointing at them, "You will accompany me and at my time and choosing, hang back and hide yourselves until we retrieve both Link and the girl." She swiveled around to Cayla, "You will go with us and secure the girl while I go after Link." She turned her eyes back to Navi, "I want you to fly ahead and scout where they are taking them and into which tents so we aren't fruitlessly searching everywhere. And as for the rest of you," her gaze out among the Sheikah, "prepare us a path to gather these two captives and us safely back through Kakariko."
Cayla scowled but said nothing as she obediently followed the orders of her sister. She turned to the side and unclasped several provision pouches from her horse and tossed them to Impa who caught them effortlessly with her free hand. "We travel light sister. We take two horses instead of three. I'll ride with you." With a nod from Impa, Cayla handed the reins of her horse to another before saddle hopping behind Impa.
Impa took one last look at the dwindling sun, just falling beneath the horizon. "We ride hard and fast!" She nodded her head back at Talon. "Let's go!" Navi kicked off Impa's hand and whisked away with a small ring.
Navi had returned and coordinated which tents the two children were taken to. With a nod from Impa, Cayla surged off in the tall grass towards the horde of tents and uncouth men. Impa was about to delve off into the brush herself, satisfied with the hidden placement of their horses and her charge, when Navi tinkled slightly to attract her attention.
"You need to get Saria over to the western side of the army." Navi hummed fervently.
Impa crouched to a knee, utterly flabbergasted at what the fairy was asking of her. "The Kokiri? She's back with the rest of the Sheikah! We cannot!" She hissed adamantly.
Navi jingled agitatedly, "I have found Saria's fairy Sora. It is being held along with Link in the very same tent!"
Impa scoffed, "Isn't that conveninent? Still, I can't allow Princess Zelda to come to harm by trying to carry a young girl through enemy lines."
"I also think it would be best Zelda and Talon come along too." Navi waved a small hand off in the direction of their hiding spot.
Impa blinked at the sprite, "They what? Why?"
Navi sighed, she put a palm to her forehead, deciding how best to explain it to the soon-to-be irritated Sheikah. "I've been investigating a lot of things this past cycle. I've traveled far and wide in hopes of finding a way Link and I can be together forever. I haven't found much but what I did find pointed me in the direction of the Gerudo."
Zelda was peeking out from the foliage as she gave a puzzled look at Impa. The Sheikah shook her head subtly before redirecting her gaze on Navi. "I do not understand little one, what do the Gerudo have to do with us?" She put a hand to her chest and then indicated Zelda.
Without hestitation Navi dropped her bombshell, "I also believe the Gerudo might be able to protect you better than where you are going now."
Impa gave a snort, "I appreciate your willingness to help but make no mistake, the Sheikah are perfectly capable of keeping Princess Zelda safe. Do not try my patience at insulting our abilities."
Navi raised both hands up in appeal, "Please hear me out! I discovered that the southern barrier past Ordona was created by the Gerudo."
"Yes, I'm aware of that." Impa motioned with her hand for Navi to continue.
"I also learned that Ganondorf has freed himself earlier today and that he's responsible for the southern border going down." Navi exclaimed.
Impa's eyes widened, "That means…he let them all in."
Navi nodded vigorously, "Exactly! He's a villain!" After a slight pause, "What I can't figure is why he decided to erect a similar barrier around the Temple of Time."
As if on cue, Impa looked to the north and finally noticed the dull hazy glow of the malevolent aura, shimmering in the dark. How long had that been there and she was not aware? What was Ganondorf's aim in protecting that which he sought after? Was he fighting against the Nevachreans now? Or was he ensuring that they wouldn't get to it first?
"If he's loose, there is no telling what he'll do. He might turn in and collaborate with the enemy. Someone has to keep an eye on him." Impa said sternly.
"Why not you? The kids can take refuge under his protection while you secretly watch over and investigate. You know he has the power, you saw how long that barrier kept them out." Navi suggested innocently.
"No. Out of the question!" Impa sliced a hand through the air accentuating the point to the shimmering sprite. "We have no assurance that they would be safe there." She jerked her head back to see Talon softly snoozing in the underbrush. "Besides, you should know as well as I that they don't take kindly to any man who isn't their king. Why would I rescue Link only to deliver him into a potentially worse situation?"
Navi merely shrugged her shoulders, "From what little I've been able to find on the Gerudo, they cherish kids as a resource. Link might actually be safe there for a time and besides, you said yourself that Ganondorf needs to be monitored." Impa shot her a look. Adroitly ignoring the stare, Navi pressed, "There is a small gap within the enemy lines between the castle walls and the front of their force. It is dwindling rapidly. You either make your choice now or you won't get another chance."
Impa growled under her breath at the second dilemma she was facing within a span of hours, "Why not save Link and Sora and bring her to Saria in the safety of the mountains?"
Navi shook her head, "No time! The further we tarry, the further Saria is being brought out of Sora's reach. She will die before then. She needs to be brought here but staying on this side of the army is dangerous since we are caught between the main force and the raiding parties further up the hill in Kakariko. The only thing on the other side is the Gerudo, which have not yet proven to be hostile to us."
"Yet we imprisoned their king." Impa reminded monotonously.
After a long silence, Navi fidgeted at the indecisive nature of the Sheikah, the woman was far too cautious for her own good! "This is more than just saving Link, Sora and Malon."
"So that's her name." Impa murmured, she had quite forgotten.
"This is about saving the Kokiri as well!" Navi continued rapidly, her voice tolling out like a ringing bell, "If we don't save Link as well as Saria, then the Kokiri are finished!"
Impa stared hard at the ground, her mind a fury of sensations, thoughts and feelings. After a time, she looked up at the fluttering sprite and smiled, "Very well, my tiny manipulator." Navi squeaked a protest at the accusation, but was ignored.
"We must work together if this plan is to succeed." Impa instructed as she reached into her belt buckle and brought out a small, jeweled talisman, something light enough for the fairy to carry. "Take this, head back to the other Sheikah and show them this. They'll know that I sent you. Request that two of them bring Saria and to meet us at the overlooking ridge just beyond the borders of the Gerudo homeland."
She handed Navi the trinket, causing her to lose altitude briefly with its weight. After a slight struggle, the fairy puckered up the strength to haul it under her arms. "Thank you Impa! This means a lot to me!"
"Don't thank me yet!" Impa grinned. "I still have to save Link! You just have to promise me you'll return and help me watch over these young children."
Navi giggled, "Of course! I am still researching my own interests. I believe the Gerudo will have what I seek. Thank you again!"
With the clattering of small bells, she was off like a shot. The blue glow zoomed past Zelda and down the path towards Kakariko and ultimately Saria. Gently nudging Talon awake, Zelda stepped out briefly from the bushes to meet the Sheikah and spread her arms in confusion at Impa. She had not heard what had happened and was quite curious to know what they were to do next.
"Are we saving Link still?" Zelda probed anxiously.
Impa beamed, "Yes, my princess. However, the plan has changed slightly."