Chapter 11 - Preparations
Link looked on worriedly as Impa gently held him back away from the bed. The doctor was looking at the Kokiri intently, feeling her pulse, placing a hand on her forehead and checking other vitals. Saria had taken a turn for the worse that day. The doctor confined her to the bed, not that he had to since she hadn’t the strength to move much. It wasn’t until she fell out of bed due to lack of muscle strength did they call for the village doctor that previous evening.
Saria’s breathing was weak and her skin sallow. When Link brought in some food for her on a tray she merely turned away, the thought of food simply unsettled her stomach. As the doctor continued his examination with little protest from the Kokiri, Zelda and Link exchanged knowing looks. Is this what happens when Kokiri are ripped from their forest? Do they slowly wither and die? Zelda looked away when a tear started crystallizing at the edge of his eyes. She granted him the serenity to cry in peace without someone staring at him.
With a seasoned sigh the doctor rose up and turned towards Talon and Impa, the other two adults in the room, and simply shook his head. As he walked out of the room, Impa motioned for Talon and Malon to follow suit. Malon wanted to protest and stay in the room with Link but was shushed out into the hallway. She lurched back to get one last glance into the room at Link; all she could see was him staring at his friend slowly dying in the bed before the door closed.
Link didn’t bother asking why Zelda elected to stay behind, he was glad at least one other friend chose to stay with him in Saria’s time of need. Zelda was sitting on a stool next to Saria’s bedside; she adjusted the wick in the lamp on the nightstand so it gave off a little less light. The Kokiri needed as much rest as she could get. The two waited in silence as the last rays of dusk left the room, leaving them in near darkness as the lamp became the sole source of light.
“I always pretended I was one of them.” Link said abruptly, Zelda said nothing but turned to listen to him, “Playing through the forest, the trees, the grass, all of our fairies enacting out great, epic battles or just simply played sticks. There was a time that I was one of them.”
“Link,” Zelda’s heart ached for her friend, “a part of you will always be one of them.”
Link nodded absently, “She and I would always sit upon my bed in the tree house and talk about what it would be like to grow older. We wondered if our arms would grow longer than our legs; if we would be as tall as the trees themselves.” He smiled at his reminiscing.
He shook his head cutting her off, “But it was I who started getting older.” He spoke through gritted teeth, “I started to tower over each of them by almost a head. It was then that I knew I was different. Navi would always tell me otherwise; I couldn’t possibly be anything but a Kokiri. She was just saving me the pain of finding out before my time.” He placed a hand to his face covering his eyes. “Oh Navi…I have failed you. I couldn’t find you.”
Zelda rose from the stool and went over to comfort her friend as a sob racked his frame. She embraced him with a hug which he warmly accepted. He held her tight, drinking in her scent of roses and ivy. At length, they parted and he stared into the lamplight before continuing.
“That’s not the worse part Zelda,” he said gravely, “I no longer have the Triforce of Courage. I know this now.”
“Link, I don’t understand.” She truly didn’t. “Is this…a part of the stories you’ve told me?”
“Yes Zelda! Please believe me! I did go to the future! The Triforce was split. You had a piece, I had a piece and Ganondorf had a piece.” Zelda merely hung a smile on her face despite not feeling any reason to smile. Link surged onward, “I tried to prove it to myself that I still had the Triforce of Courage in my body by driving out the Dodongos for the Gorons, by helping the Zoras with Lord Jabu Jabu and his illness, by sneaking through the Gerudo camp undetected and into the Spirit Temple to warn Nabooru of going any further because of the witches. I did all those things. Now I know why,” he took a shuddering breath, “because I had done all those things before. There was nothing to be courageous about since I knew I could do all those things.”
“That makes sense.” Zelda agreed, putting a finger to her chin thinking hard on his story.
“But I came back in time to a place where the Triforce wasn’t split. There is no reason for me to have it now! That is why I am so scared of this army Zelda, the Triforce is no longer with me. I…I don’t know if I can do this.” His lower lip started to quiver.
Zelda’s heart broke at her friend’s misery, “Link, I think I am now just beginning to understand you. Thank you for being open and honest with me. I truly appreciate it. Maybe you have to earn the Triforce of Courage again?”
Link looked at her inquiringly, “I’m sorry?”
Zelda pressed, “If it is as you say, the Triforce is whole right now and you don’t have a piece of it anymore, maybe you must earn it back?”
Link shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t think that is how it works. It split when Ganondorf touched it. If it is whole, I do not think it will split if I touch it.”
Zelda was about to comment when a rasping voice emerged from the bed, “S…Sor…a.”
Link rushed to her side and grasped one of her hands in his own. He leaned over her in concern. Zelda stepped up behind him and looked over his shoulder at the weakened Kokiri.
“Who?” She whispered.
Link held up a hand to silence her, Zelda was about to protest his gesture when Saria spoke again, “So…ra.”
Link confirmed it, “It’s her fairy. That is the name she is speaking. Did you want us to find her for you?” Saria barely nodded, “Where is she now?”
Link’s blood ran cold as she made a motion of slicing across her neck multiple times. Zelda couldn’t make sense of it but Link understood perfectly what she meant. That meant Sora was with the army, those who could not be killed. Dear Goddesses, where would he start looking for her fairy in that throng? Link gritted his teeth together and smashed his eyes tight so hard it drew tears. Why did it have to be like this? Why was everything so unfair?
“What is it Link?” Zelda spoke with rising alarm, “Where is Sora?”
Link let Saria’s hand fall as she slipped back into unconsciousness at the exertion of relaying that information. He slipped down off the bed and walked to the door, motioning for Zelda to follow. They gently shut the door behind them and slowly walked down the hallway of the inn.
“Sora was taken from her and is now somewhere in that massive horde.” Link stated matter-of-factly.
Zelda gasped, “Are you serious? How could we find her?”
“I know!” Link snapped. He quickly apologized. He hadn’t meant to round on her like that. He was just so frustrated that he could do nothing for his friend. “It’s just that I have a mission now to retrieve the Goron Ruby and Zora Sapphire before they land in the hands of the enemy. And now I have this new obstacle of finding a lone fairy in a gigantic mass of men who refuse to die!”
Zelda stepped back a bit as Link slammed a fist into the wall nearby. He let loose an oath as he shook his hand out, massaging the knuckles at his foolish attempt to release his rage. She continued to let him stew a few moments more before walking down the hallway past him. Without question, he simply followed as they descended the stairs to join the others sitting at the dining table on the first floor of the inn.
All of them gazed up at the pair as they seated themselves to the table. Link sat on the other side of Talon opposite Impa. Zelda sat down next to her bodyguard, opposite Malon. Talon was the first to speak up breaking the pervading silence.
“So ya have any good news fer us lad?” He kindly nudged Link sitting next to him.
“No.” He said monotonously, “I think she needs her fairy. Sora.”
“Where is it now?” Impa queried.
“She is somewhere in the southern Nevachrean army.” Zelda blurted out.
Talon spewed his beer clear across the table at this news. Impa deftly dodged the incoming splatter, Zelda was not so fortunate. Her shirt and breeches were covered in a nice smattering of half-drunk beer. She looked royally pissed at this situation. Malon tried her best to hide her laughter at this turn of events but managed to leak out a snort, Zelda shot her a death glare.
“Dear Goddesses boy! Ya can’ expect ta go in there?!” Talon’s speech was rising in pitch and incoherent in nature.
Impa assisted Zelda from the table, “Excuse me while I help the princess change for the evening. Good night everyone.” With one final scowl at Talon, she guided the sputtering Zelda to her quarters.
Talon trailed after them with a weak apology. With a sigh he gave up trying to make amends and turned to the conversation at hand. Taking this opportunity with her father’s attention diverted, Malon slipped around and sat on the other side of the bench next to Link, both apparently rapt with attention at what Link was relaying.
“I don’t expect to go there. My heart wants to go find Sora for her. I believe she is the key in keeping her alive. However my mission is far greater,” he grimaced at the thought of the mission being more important than his friend, “than just one person. My task is to negotiate with the Zoras tomorrow for the sapphire and as soon as I can, meet with the Gorons for the ruby. Impa said we need the Master Sword.”
Talon nodded his head in agreement, “I’ll have ta agree there Link. I really feel fer your friend, ya know I do! But we can’t have ya going off ta get killed for one fairy.”
Link shot him a look that made Talon wilt, “Blimey!” Talon looked outside hastily, “Is it that time already?” He downed his entire mug of beer with a belch. Lurching off the bench, he grabbed Malon’s hand and practically dragged her down the hall. “Come on Malon, ‘tis time fer bed fer ya!”
Link watched as Malon gave him a fleeting glace of helplessness as she stumbled after her father towards their room. So that’s it then, Link gathered. He turned back to his food, not feeling altogether that hungry. Knowing he’d need as much strength as possible for the day ahead he proceeded to eat his meal in silence. When the meal was finished he rose and with a nod to the innkeeper, went to his room for the evening.
Bright and early the next day Link gathered his belongings and began checking them once more. He sifted through his belt pouches and made sure there were several Deku Nuts and seeds in each. He thrust a boomerang he had bought at the village store the day prior into his belt where he could easily reach it in a pinch. On the other side he stuffed a slingshot. A single bomb was clasped to his belt on each hip and his scabbard he threw over his head and adjusted it across his chest. With a curt nod that all was in order, he grabbed his shield by the bed, he slid it into his custom rigged scabbard on his back listening for the click telling him it was locked in place.
Stepping outside Link closed his eyes as the fresh morning air brushed his face. He saddled up on a new fresh colt that had been provided to him for his journey. He slowly guided it down the path towards the village exit. On either side of the road were citizens and friends he knew. How many people were aware of the task he was setting out to do? Link contemplated if Impa had a hand in it.
Link was passing by the inn as he noticed Malon looking at him imploringly, she didn’t want him to leave and they both knew it. She was rooted to the spot with the firm hand of her father, Talon. The man simply nodded in recognition of the man Link was becoming as he set off on this dangerous journey. Approaching the exit, he wasn’t surprised when she spoke, for he could hear her coming from several meters away. His adventures had taught him many things and one of them was to pay attention to your surroundings regardless of distractions.
“Link,” Zelda shouted, “must you really go alone on this trip?”
Link reared the colt around to give Zelda a penetrating look. She ran up to his horse, clearly out of breath, she was never much on physically exerting herself. For a brief instant, discomfort flashed across his eyes before he could compose his expression. It was but a split second, but Zelda caught it. Just how much pain and suffering will this young boy have to endure before he is safely back home again?
“I’ve already talked with Impa about that Zelda. She cannot go with me nor can any of the other Sheikah.” Link explained. “Right now I just want to warn my friends and reclaim the stones from both the Zoras and Gorons. Besides if I don’t go, they may not get any idea of what they are truly up against and be totally unprepared for them.”
Zelda pleaded with him, “Why would Impa say that? Can you try asking her again to at least send someone with-”
Link cut her off with a gesture, “She was adamant about this. If you are so curious about why I must go alone, why don’t you ask her?”
Zelda shut her mouth promptly at this. She hadn’t actually considered that option. She was so fixated on the fact Link was leaving that she hadn’t thought to ask Impa why she was letting him go like this.
“I just don’t want to lose you again. I don’t think I could bear it.” Zelda spoke with such sincerity Link’s breath caught in his throat.
He sat on the horse aimlessly, not sure of what to say. He couldn’t express his feelings for her because he truly didn’t know what they were. He knew they were both too young to make any sort of relationship decisions on their own. Instead he simply smiled back at her. Looking up into his sparkling blue eyes, she started to feel tears welling up. In a flash she turned and ran back to the inn, crying the entire way.
Bewildered, Link simply gaped as he followed Zelda up the path into the building. About ready to turn the horse onto its former course, Link stopped short as he saw something at the top of the ridge overlooking the village. A long figure stood at the tree line as if watching him. He could not make out any specific features of the individual. Within seconds the figure turned and was gone.
Shrugging he shifted in his saddle as he rechecked his supplies. With a final sigh and an impatient snort from his steed, he headed down the path to the open fields of Hyrule. The crowd observing his departure simply watched in silence as he curved around the bend and was out of sight. They continued staring at the place he disappeared hoping he would be returning any second. In time all onlookers turned to their homes and shut their doors.