Chapter 17 - Revelations of Birth
His eyes tried to focus long and hard at the shapes that had no form. The color was there but the images weren’t making any sense. Voices were talking, but the clarity was muted. It all sounded like incessant warbling. His eyes flickered as he blinked. Slowly the images came into focus with startling detail in the early morning sun. Impa and Malon were kneeling over him looking intently at his face. Link placed one hand on the ground and with assistance from Impa achingly rose up into a seated position. He rubbed his eyes. Not wanting to get up onto his feet just yet, he remained sitting where he was in the grass.
Malon was in dismal shape like him. Her clothes were partially shredded but were not as bad as his when he last saw them crumpled in the corner of that tent. Her nose was slightly twisted by the force of the blow Talamir had given her. It would eventually have to be reset. Blood had stained her lips and chin from the injury. She wore a sad smile on her face. What did she have to go through before Impa saved her? He wondered. Link didn’t want to dwell on that thought but meant to ask her later.
Impa looked as calm and collected as ever, albeit if a bit macabre with blood and viscera slathered all over her skin and armor. She was gazing at him with her intense dark eyes. He looked down on himself and realized she had stolen some new clothes for him: A small chest of boiler plate armor with two shoulder pauldrons. An inner tunic of brown with a strap for both sword and shield, ankle length pants with leg plates adjoined on the outer thighs. It was crude, but it would do.
“Don’t ask Link,” Impa explained, “I stole them from a soldier I killed before he was able to revive. As a matter of fact, he was the same age as you, which is even sadder.”
Link surveyed his clothes again, wondering how much treachery that young boy wearing this outfit had accomplished. Were these clothes already stained with the blood of innocents? Malon shifted her weight and sat close beside him; she reached out a hand and grasped one of his into her own.
Link’s brow furrowed a moment figuring out what had happened, “How did you know where to find Malon and me?”
Impa shifted positions and sat cross-legged in front of the two children, “Let’s just say a little fairy told me.”
Link went rigid, “Fairy? Where’s Sora?”
Impa merely pointed behind Link as a flutter of wings nicked his ear and a small weight landed on his shoulder. Sora placed a delicate hand on his face and gave him a big smile. She was a minuscule thing with four separate gossamer wings, two large upper wings and two small lower wings. All fairies were naked naturally but to erect some form of modesty when not around other Kokiri. Sora had fashioned a thin dress of forest leaves that wrapped around her body covering what most people considered inappropriate.
“Morning Link!” Sora giggled.
“Were you the one who told Impa? Wait, weren’t you in the cage?” Link was baffled.
Sora looked quickly at Impa who merely shook her head briefly, “No, wasn’t me. You saved me? Remember?” The fairy chided him on his lack of memory.
Malon laughed, “She’s a spunky little thing isn’t she?”
Sora spun around to confront Malon, “No more than you!” The fairy stuck out her arm making a rather rude gesture.
Malon looked slightly shocked, “Are they all like this Link?”
Link grunted with mirth, “Navi certainly was. She did have a sense of humor that I loved. Maybe that’s where I get it from.”
A knowing look between Impa and Sora was detected by Malon. Heedless of Link’s ruminations, Impa was forced to interrupt for they hadn’t the time to delay here any longer than they already had. She cleared her throat as the children were directed to listen. Sora simply sat down on Link’s shoulder and nuzzled up next to his neck just under his earlobe. Within moments she was softly snoring.
Impa watching the rising sun on the horizon a few moments as she considered something; with a breath she queried, “Link, there is much you should know about Nevachrea, as should you Malon.” She returned her gaze to the two children, “How much do you know already of Nevachrea?”
Link scrunched his nose in concentration trying to remember what Talon had told him, “I think Nevachrea was a rising nation or country.” Impa nodded her head for him to continue, “I think we were helping them a lot with fabrics, materials and other things. The Hylian king cut ties and left them to fend for themselves and they’ve hated us ever since.” Link breathed a sigh of relief after finishing. He hadn’t expected to be quizzed on history he barely knew this early in the morning.
“Is that all?” Impa impassively questioned.
“That’s all.” Link confirmed with a nod.
Impa leaned back and crossed her arms as she sighed deeply, “Well, that crucial line of trade was the downfall of Hyrule before it ever was annulled. The Hylian king of that time should never have gotten into an agreement with Nevachrea to begin with.”
“Were they really that bad from the start?” Malon asked, curious as to how those men got to be such pigs.
Impa’s lip curved into a smile at her innocent question but kept her resolve, “No, they were not. In fact they were just as peaceable as can be expected. At the time, Hyrule was very prosperous and held much of the natural resources among the world powers. The only downside to our country was the lack of manpower to stabilize it. We were growing faster than we had the population to compensate for. We needed slaves to fill the gap.”
Malon gasped at this horrible truth as Link looked down in shame at his own country. Impa pressed onward with her story, “Nevachrea provided those slaves for us. In return, we supplied them with an immense wealth of gold, fabrics, materials and other tradable goods. We helped build their nation up into a major world power; off the backs of their own people.”
“You mean we helped build our greatest foe.” Link interjected.
Impa dipped her head in grave determination, “The many goods we sent to the country were used as payment for the slaves we needed to build Hyrule Castle and other provinces. However, that is not the worst part of the story.”
“What happened to the slaves Impa?” Malon insisted.
“That is what I’m coming to,” Impa softly uttered as she looked down at the ground for a time; after some consideration she looked up at Malon, “After the king of Hyrule saw how powerful a nation Nevachrea had become, soaking off the wealth of our own, he severed all ties and banned all trades to the country. He had men steal more than a thousand slaves from Nevachrea even after the deal was broken off.” Malon gasped at this. “This angered the Nevachrean monarchy and they felt sorely cheated on a crucial agreement. Shortly thereafter their economy collapsed, they have born an innate hatred towards us ever since.”
“The slaves were a sub-sect of Nevachrean descent and had been around long before the nation was even founded, some say they traveled south from Hyrule after having spent centuries living here. The slaves were trained as common grunts in the Hylian army, but many Hylians grew restless as it became apparent that the slaves were far better at the craft of war than the king dared admit. To prevent a potential rebellion, he let the slaves buy their freedom and granted them full citizenship. He also leased a plot of land east of Hyrule castle which is now known as Kakariko.”
Link and Malon’s jaws dropped as they both realized who the slaves were. As if in unison they shouted, “The Sheikah were the slaves?!”
A small blossom of crystalline formed at the base of Impa’s eyes. She merely nodded as she brushed it away, “Yes. We were targeted because of our special innate abilities to do things that a normal Hylian or Nevachrean could not do. We could do dangerous or menial tasks with utmost ease with our powers, which made us the perfect slaves. We are used to serving in positions as followers rather than leaders, so the adjustment to protect the Royal Family came natural. But our objective goes far deeper than that.”
Wary that she had said too much, she waved a hand to dismiss the previous comment and continued, “A century after Kakariko was built, Nevachrea invaded Hyrule shortly after the annulment of the deal. A raging, bloody war ensued on Hylian ground as the two powers fought for dominance. Hyrule’s bloody history has always been filled with greed and hatred. This was but one of many atrocities that occurred. How old are you again Link?”
The question came so suddenly out of the blue that he stuttered a bit before realizing what the answer was, “I’m eleven cycles but should be turning twelve in a few orbits.”
“That puts him right at that time.” Impa confirmed to herself. Link just looked confused. Malon glanced between the two of them unsure of what to say. “I always had a suspicion but I never could prove it until I looked at that mark on your butt last night.”
Link blushed furiously as Malon’s eyes dilated, “She what?” She spluttered trying to compose herself from a coughing fit resulting from trying to swallow and breathe at the same time.
Impa hadn’t meant for it to come out so bluntly but she needed to get her point across, “Malon, I rescued you before they were able to harm you. I just barely got to Link. He was spread out on a table without clothes. I happened to glance at his birthmark which confirmed my theory.”
“Can I see it?!” Malon asked excitedly as she tried to peel back Link’s pants to look at his birthmark.
“NO! Hey, stop that!” Link roughly yanked his tunic down and edged away quickly.
“Quiet!” Impa commanded. Both children immediately stopped. She really needed to keep a closer eye on these two or they’d be trouble in more ways than one! “As I was saying,” Impa took a breath of impatience, “that puts you right at that time.” She indicated Link who was completely lost as to where she was going with this.
“There was a Sheikah mother who gave birth to a child during that war, but did not want it to live or be brought up in a world of death and hatred. In desperation, that mother journeyed through the hell of war to bring that child to the forest, where the great Deku Tree would take care of her newborn.” The more Impa spoke, the more Link lost himself in amazement. “Upon seeing this cooing baby, the Deku Tree knew that this was a child of destiny and agreed to keep the child under its canopy. He let it live amongst his other children, the Kokiri, as if it was one of them.”
Link’s mind was swirling with thoughts, emotions and conclusions. He still couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The tumult of images and truths flashed before his eyes as one dawning realization came over him. He looked up at Impa with a hopeful expression.
“Are…you my mother?” Link whispered with anticipation.
Impa merely laughed at his query, “No Link. But I knew your mother.”
She indicated off behind them at the horses that were idly snipping the grass. Link glanced over and saw Epona standing tall enjoying her mid-morning snack. He gasped as she looked up at him and whinnied in response. She was pleased to see him but was more content to finishing her meal. Dejected he turned away, but noticed another Sheikah leaning against the shadow of a tree, watching the group.
“We Sheikah never travel alone and go in pairs. I was with your mother that fateful night she placed you before the Deku Tree.” Impa warmly smiled as she finally revealed the truth to Link, “You are not just a Hylian, born from a Hylian man. You are also a descendent of Nevachrea and the Sheikah. Normal Hylians cannot wield magick like you have done so. I believe in your stories of the future and it impresses me more now that I know who you really are. No Hylian or Nevachrean can move and fight like you can.”
“But…” Link refuted, “I wasn’t actually winning against Thanan back at Death Mountain.”
“You are untrained in the ways of Sheikah. You will learn in time how to fight better than most men. I have a hunch, but you might actually have the power to bring forth weapons into your very hand. I don’t have any proof of my conjecture though.” Impa mused.
“Is that a natural thing for people of Nevachrea to have? What about coming back from the dead? Is that normal for them?” Link asked.
Impa shrugged, “I’m not entirely sure.”
“Conj….ekture?” Malon asked, still confused at the terminology.
“It means guessing silly. I learned that at the castle!” Link explained in a matter-of-fact voice. Malon shot him a dirty look. Link deftly avoided a savage poke to the ribs.
A brief clearing of the throat brought the children to heel at Impa’s authority, “For reasons unknown to me, you were born with the blood from all three races. Whether you were destined to be like this or not is unclear.”
Link held up a hand to interpose, “I was told my mother had died. Is she still alive? Why is the mark on my body so important?”
Impa’s face softened with a look of sadness, “I’m sorry Link. I was there the moment your mother died of her wounds. As for your birthmark,” she gestured to Link (Malon tried to lean over and get a glimpse), “every Sheikah is born with one somewhere on their body.”
With this she lifted up her top marginally so they could see the mark of an eye next to her navel. A brimming smile of joy erupted on Link’s face as he bounded off the grass and leaped into Impa’s arms hugging her. Letting out a yelp of surprise, Impa grappled the young boy as they fell to the ground laughing together. They both laid there hugging each other as Malon sat nearby feeling awkward at being the third wheel to the entire conversation. She started fiddling with a strand of grass as she watched the happy moment; she had never met her mother. Her father said she had died giving birth to her. At least that was something in common Link and her shared.
Impa tenderly patted Link on the head and rubbed his ruffled blood-caked hair down, “That’s enough now child.” She slowly sat up and set him down beside her. “I’m sorry for the long-winded discussion but once I confirmed who you truly were, I felt it pertinent that you know your heritage. You’ll need every bit of knowledge to combat this foe.” She waved a hand off in the direction of the army to the east.
A bird chirp twirled through the air as Impa glanced over at her Sheikah companion resting by the horses. Impa stood up with the intent to leave.
“We’ve spent enough time talking. We need to meet up with the others.” Impa directed.
“You mean my father?!” Malon burst in with enthusiasm.
Impa gave a swift nod, “Yes, and Zelda too. More importantly we need to get Sora back to Saria.”
At this, Sora woke up with a snort as she looked around dazed. Link was already on his feet as her comfortable sleeping perch moved precariously. With a sulking puff, the fairy flew off and flitted by the horses waiting for the others to catch up. Impa offered Link and Malon the larger of the two horses while she grabbed the reins of Epona, intent on walking alongside her since her wounds were still too fresh to be carrying a rider.
“Link, hold on tight to Malon since she isn’t the one securely in the saddle!” Impa cautioned.
Link awkwardly wrapped his arms around Malon and rested his hands on the pommel of the saddle, the reins gripped in his hands. The smell of her hair was filling his nostrils and he had the intense urge to sneeze as it brushed past his nose. With a contented sigh, she leaned back against his chest and rested her head on him. He had never ridden a horse before with another passenger in front. This was going to be weird.
“We ride north Link!” Impa gave a shout. With a slap to the rump of their horse, they were off; hopefully away from the army of hell.
General Naar was furious. He surveyed the tent as the four men were in various stages of re-composition. Several body parts still hadn’t found their way to their rightful masters and smears of blood were splattered across the tent fabric. He surveyed the scene with grim wrath at the complete failure of these four imbecilic soldiers. He stepped up to the pitiful heap of flesh with its intestines pulled straight from its bowels, he noted the man was still trying to stuff them back in. They were idiots when it came to repairing themselves, they were completely unused to injury and it clearly showed.
He pressed a boot to the man’s head and kicked him down to the dirt before spitting on his body, “Thanan! Slice these men up and burn their bodies. Leave no trace of their existence. We do not tolerate failure in this war!” The twins looked at each other nervously with this comment. Naar pointed a finger in their direction. “You two! Form a search party and track this Link down! Do not disappoint me again!”
Naar spun on his heel and slammed a fist into Talamir knocking him clear across the tent. He curled on the ground clutching the spot where he had been hit. Enraged and frustrated, Naar opened the flap and violently swung it down behind him as he stormed off.
“Why is it always me?” Talamir gasped in-between breaths.
Timner knelt down to help his brother back onto his feet, “I think he hates us brother.”
They both snickered at that.