Chapter 20 - Practical Medicine
The Gerudo fortress was impregnable to all but the craftiest of thieves and even those few eventually got caught. Guards were stationed at every known corner of the compound to prevent entry to their private domain. It was built and carved into the surrounding rock over the centuries. Small square holes chiseled into the brick and mortar acted as primitive windows into the interior. Inside every corridor was a drab, plain, but strangely warm set of hallways which linked and interweaved with each other. Little was placed on the walls for decoration. If anything was deemed fit, it was usually the skulls, skins and other mementos of the kills the Gerudo had made.
It was here that the strangers were finally allowed in after eras without a single foreign agent; the group was ushered through the halls with Ganondorf in the lead. One of the Gerudo women had picked up Saria and was carrying her. Link and the rest of the group were escorted under guard and had no choice but to follow. Malon was unsure of where they had taken her father and was praying for his safety. It was clear that they had not suspected Zelda was a girl for they treated her just the same as Link, slight disdain but not outright hostility for they were still children after all.
Ganondorf turned around to the group as he reached a juncture, he indicated with his arm down the corridor to his left, “Take the injured in here and see to their wounds Nabooru. Let it be known that I am gracious to guests within my home.”
He left them with a disconcerting smile as he stormed off down the opposing hall with the witches slinking along in his wake. Nabooru directed the guard to quickly set Saria’s tender frame on the adobe slab in the center of the room. Saria had been extremely quiet the entire time. Her eyes had begun to glaze with shock from her injury. She simply withdrew into herself; it worried Link greatly to see his friend like this.
“Get back.” Nabooru commanded as she placed Zelda, Link and Malon in a corner of the room. There was an inlaid alcove in the wall which could have been a bed. Link hopped up onto it to rest his weary legs, the other two followed suit. They all leaned over, craning their necks to look around the Gerudo healer to see if Saria was going to be all right.
“Set up some heat.” The healer directed Nabooru, “We will need something hot to seal the wound once the arrow is removed.”
Nabooru strode over to the nearby hearth jutting out of the wall; seemingly built out of muddy clay. The interior seemed to be made of red brick plastered with cement refined from a process they learned from the old scientist at Lake Hylia. They said that man was good for something, for it surely wasn’t sex! Why Ganondorf would bring that man into their domain, she could only wonder.
Shaking her head, Nabooru heaved hard on the wind press spiking the flames of the hearth higher. She grabbed a thin piece of metal and set it inside the brick grill and left it there to get heated. With her task accomplished she walked back over to the medic who was examining the puncture wound of the arrow.
“Good.” The female nodded to herself, “It went straight through her. The arrowhead is sticking out the back. We can easily snap it and take both ends out cleanly. I will need some Nayru weed.”
The medic pointed to a jar on a high shelf just beyond Nabooru, she turned and found the bottle she was indicating. It had a small amount of bluish leaves that gave a small, incandescent glow. What an odd plant, Nabooru thought. Shrugging she opened it up and gave some to the woman examining Saria. She snipped a few leaves off with her nails and threw them in a pestle, she then grinded them to a fine pulp before flexing her fingers for the trickiest part of the operation.
“I need you to hold her down,” she gestured to Nabooru, “she will probably struggle a good deal at this next part.”
Saria being abnormally still, let herself be rolled onto her side by the two women as Nabooru calmly placed a firm hand on her shoulder and another on her leg. Sora hovered over the entire debacle with rising alarm, her light flickering in greater degrees of agitation. With a breath, the healer snapped the back end of the arrow shaft in two as Saria let out a cry of discomfort. Once the shaft began slowly pulling out from her body did the writhing begin, Nabooru forced the screaming girl to be still as the last bit of the arrow slipped out of her body.
Flung back into reality, the pain hit Saria like a thunder clap as she thrashed this way and that. Sora literally fell out of the air as she was struck with the shared pain of her lifelong companion. Link leaped out of the alcove and dove to pick up Sora from the ground, one of the Gerudo guards at the entrance raced in to stop his advance. Link raised his hands in surrender as the guard slowly brought him back on his feet, her spear prickling his neck.
“I am just going to grab her fairy. That’s all.” Link gingerly nodded down at the wriggling fairy.
The guard merely shook her head, “You are still a prisoner until I’m told otherwise. Get back and sit with the others.”
Scowling, Link sulked back to the wall recess as Zelda gave him an ardent look, she knew they were being overly cautious about the whole affair of strangers in their midst. The guard, untrusting of her new captives, decided it prudent to stand guard next to the pain-wracked fairy on the ground. Her eyes were drawn to it. None of the Gerudo had ever seen a fairy before and it was utterly fascinating to them.
“Nabooru, keep her steady! I need to insert the weed quickly into the wounds!” The medical female shouted.
Nabooru increased her grip on the flailing Kokiri girl. The medic quickly took a glob of the weed and stuffed it firmly into the back wound, digging her fingers in deep to make sure it was securely inside the body. She grabbed the girl’s belly and quickly laid her on the back as she inserted the second batch of the herb into the frontal opening. With a gesture to Nabooru to keep the Kokiri steady, she walked over to the hearth and picked up the hot metal rod.
Malon’s eyed widened at the radiant red end of the metal pole. She swiveled over to Link and looked at his eyes. He was just as anxious as she was about the whole ordeal. He was biting his lower lip in uneasy anticipation at what was going to be a bad scene. Zelda’s body went rigid as her hand found Link’s and gripped it tightly. They all knew what was coming and there was nothing they could do to stop it.
The Gerudo healer looked over at the three children with sympathy, “Please understand this is for her own good.”
Nabooru watched the Kokiri’s eyes expand as the sizzling metal rod dipped towards her belly to touch the bloody puncture wound. Saria shrieked in agony and thrashed to be free of her captor’s grip. The healer merely pressed the burning rod deeper into her skin and held it there. Sora was rolling on the ground emitting sparks of dust. Link longed to run over and comfort either one of them and was infuriated that he could do neither.
With another rough turn, both women rolled Saria over as she screamed again when the metal touched her back wound. Malon pressed her face into Link’s shoulder trying to block out the images of Saria throwing her body across the operating slab. With one last gasp it was over. They flipped the Kokiri onto her back and let her lay there crying, her mind reeling at the intense feelings coursing through her body. Never had she felt anything of the like in her entire life. Pain was not something a Kokiri feels.
“It is done.” The Gerudo medic nodded her head, replacing the rod back into the hearth. “The weed should help heal any organs punctured inside of her and the wounds are sealed for infection. She just needs a few days of rest and she’ll be good as new.”
Nabooru nodded to the woman, “Thank you. You may leave.”
With a bow the healer left the room without making a sound. Nabooru clicked her fingers to establish one guard next to the Kokiri while she directed the other to remove herself from the fairy and post by the entry. She knelt down and picked up the dainty sprite, caressing it in her smooth hands. Gazing at the miracle blooming in her hands, Nabooru gently laid it to rest on the chest of the Kokiri girl. Instantly she calmed and was still. Her breathing was starting to slow indicating she would ultimately be alright.
Nabooru, satisfied with the Kokiri, turned to the three children. She strolled over to them with the grace of a feline, Zelda noted. Her movements were actually beautiful and articulate. With hands on her hips she appraised each one in turn before speaking to Link.
“I remember you boy, what was your name again?” Nabooru queried.
“Link.” He said flatly. He was not sure what they were going to do with them.
“Ah yes!” She clapped her hands in remembrance, “You saved me from doing a foolhardy thing back at our temple. For that you always have my gratitude.”
“Will you let us go?” Link asked hopefully, trying to give her his best puppy look to hopefully thaw her heart.
She gave a lilting laugh as she patted him on the head lightly, “Absolutely not. Just because I gave you a free pass to leave unhindered through our domain for saving me does not warrant a second time, especially since you willingly came back to me yet again! Mmmm..no.” She mused with a finger to her lips, “I think I’ll keep you and enjoy the man you’ll become!”
Link blushed furiously as Zelda’s mouth plunged open in shock. Malon turned pink with rage, “You can’t do that to him! You let us free right now! We did nothing to-”
Malon yelped as Nabooru flicked her mouth hard with her fingers. With a condescending tone she looked down on Malon, “You do not speak to an adult in that tone. Any Gerudo child knows her place and does not speak out of line. Since you are with us now, I suggest you start learning that quickly.”
Malon already hated the woman and just wanted her gone. Nabooru took another look at Malon’s face and noticed her nose had been twisted at an awkward angle. A sudden movement startled Malon but by then it was already too late to react. Nabooru had lunged in grasping the back of Malon’s head and with her other hand clutching her nose. With a sharp yank, an audible crack was heard throughout the room. Malon shrieked in anguish, clutching her nose which had started to freshly bleed again.
“There.” Nabooru nodded, “It would have done you no good to have your nose heal like that. I’ll take your screaming as an apology and as thanks.”
Leaving the whimpering girl cradling her face, she turned to the other two children. “I cannot let you leave. I don’t have the authority to decide that anymore.”
Zelda chimed in, “Is it because of Ganondorf?”
Nabooru cocked her head at the strange looking boy, “How do you know about our king, Ganondorf?”
Zelda stuttered faintly at the unexpected question, she should have known better than to reveal her knowledge! “I…er…live in the castle and heard what had happened and…”
Nabooru saw through the lie, “Children are also taught not to lie in our culture. Our punishments for lying can be quite severe.” She gave a stern look at Zelda, “Such as cutting out your tongue.”
Zelda’s tongue rolled back into her mouth with a lump, lying was not her strongest suit. Nabooru looked them over once again and guesstimated their ages. “Speaking of which,” she added nodding to Link and Zelda, “You two are close to breeding age within four to five cycles. Until then, I think I can convince the other elders to keep you in the interim. Manual labor should suffice until such time your duties become far more interesting.”
Link and Zelda’s eyes met as they gave each other a sidelong glance, it was clear in her eyes that she knew she was being mistaken for a boy. With her ruddy tunic, breeches and slicked back hair tied in a short pony tail she could be confused for a lad if one wasn’t looking close enough. With an insignificant shake of the head Link mouthed not to reveal she was female just yet. They didn’t know what they would be up against and what they’d be forced to do.
“And you,” her attention fell back onto Malon who was shooting daggers at Nabooru, “you’re within apprenticeship by about two cycles. You are free to play with the other children under strict supervision until such time you are of age, then you are to follow all orders and instructions from your superiors and ultimately your sponsor who will be your master.”
Malon’s mouth dropped as she was affronted with being treated like a child. She could help out with horses and other animals too! She crossed her arms and fumed at Nabooru, she was not going to respond to this horrid woman. She sniffled slightly before wiping some blood from her upper lip onto her dress.
Nabooru returned the gesture folding her arms, “Shall I break that nose for you again?” Stunned, Malon shook her head vehemently, Nabooru continued, “Then I suggest you stop giving me that attitude. We have strict rules here on how everyone should act in accordance to their superiors. Learn them well and you’ll go far here.”
“Don’t you hate Ganondorf?” Link interjected.
Nabooru shot him a look that sent him shuffling further back into the wall recess, “My opinions I voiced about my lord, Ganondorf, are irrelevant to the situation at hand. Regardless of my feelings on how he rules our kingdom, he is home now. I must obey his wishes and follow his orders.” A slight shiver traveled through her body; Link seemed to be the only one aware of the visual change in her demeanor.
She grumbled something under her breath and turned to the two guards. “You carry the Kokiri and take the other girl with you. Place them in some quarters. You heard Ganondorf, they are our guests for now until we are told otherwise. So please make the accommodations nice.”
Turning around to Link and Zelda, Nabooru was unaware of Malon sticking out her tongue behind her back. Link had to stifle a chuckle lest she figure something was amiss. The guard gently picked up Saria and with a jerk of her head directed Malon to follow her out of the room; Sora lay cradled in her companion’s arms, rubbing her chest in-between her tiny fingers.
“You boys will share a room,” she paused momentarily, “we actually…don’t have any rooms reserved for such visitors. So you will have to make do with what we have.”
She nodded over to the remaining guard and they followed their escort out of the room, Link turned around as Nabooru called out after him with a wicked grin, “I will definitely be watching you Link. You are going to grow into a very handsome man.”
Link quickly spun around as he kept his eyes to the ground. What was it with all these females muddling around with his brain? Link tilted his head away from Zelda as they followed the guard down the corridor, he didn’t want her to see his rosy cheeks at the thoughts swirling around in his mind. First it was with Malon in the stable at Kakariko, he really didn’t know what they were doing but he liked it. Then Zelda who always looked sad whenever he mentioned Malon, now Nabooru trying to tease him about the man he was to become. Why did he get all this attention? He just didn’t understand it!
“In here.” The female guard roughly intoned as she shoved both Link and Zelda into an enclosed room and swiftly locked the door behind them.
Link assessed the room in which they were thrust into, it was pretty bare bones. He imagined Saria and Malon having much nicer accommodations considering they were girls. The walls were comprised of brick and mortar that was peeling in various places in-between bricks. There was a single wash basin and a bucket in the corner for bodily needs. Zelda gasped slightly at the lack of privacy the room had. Opposite the door projecting from the wall was a chimney-like fireplace which has seen better days. Thankfully there were some logs nearby and some kindling to help start a fresh flame.
Zelda regarded the wooden plank attached to the wall by bolted chains. She walked over and slumped down on the unfeeling wood, “So are we guests or prisoners?” She exhaled.
Link shrugged, “A bit of both I guess.” Surveying the room for other beds, he decided, “You can have that bed if you wish Zelda. I can sleep against the wall.”
She quickly hopped off in embarrassment at having claimed it first, “Oh, I’m sorry Link. No, you take it!”
He raised a hand up and gestured for her to sit back down, “No, it’s okay. You’re the girl, you have the better bed.”
“I’m a boy, remember?” She smiled.
Link grinned back before giggling, “Yeah, I guess you are. I can’t believe they think you’re like me!”
They both laughed at that. He walked over to the logs and examined the kindling. Nodding to himself he turned to Zelda, “I think I can make us a fire in a little bit if it gets chilly in here.”
Zelda simply nodded as she lay down on the hard wood, it wasn’t exactly comfortable to lie on. She could even feel one of the protruding nails digging into her side unpleasantly. Laying there she simply watched as Link stood up from the fireplace and walked over to the bucket. He stood there a few seconds before looking back in her direction.
“Um, Zelda? Can you turn around please?” Link asked.
She lifted her head up, “Huh? Why?”
Link sheepishly grinned, “Because I have to pee.”