Chapter 33 - Contemplations on Existence
Saria lay draped over the strapping mare, her cheeks pressing into the horse’s neck as she gently swirled the fur between her fingers. Epona agreeably endured the slender body resting across her back, so gratified was she filling her belly with the fresh hay that the Gerudo caretaker had brought in that morning. With nothing else of his to truly take comfort in, Saria was content to hang out with his horse, the one thing that reminded her of him.
Ever since that horrid day earlier in the week, Saria cut herself off from the majority of the Gerudo. She refused to get anywhere near Ganondorf or anyone from his entourage of supporters, especially the elders. Nabooru had come around a few times to see if there was anything she needed but Saria simply ignored her. She didn’t want to deal with anyone. She was too hurt at the whole situation.
They had cut Talon down the next day from the whipping post. He was dehydrated and near delirium when they placed him in the medic quarters. To add insult to injury, Ganondorf forbade Nabooru from visiting him these past few moons. She was free to roam the compound as she saw fit, but eyes were watching her movements closely. It was clear that she was no longer the trusted elder within Ganondorf’s inner circle. She had stumbled onto one of their council meetings one day realizing she had been uninvited.
“What is all this?” Nabooru demanded, voice rising in alarm.
Before her, were the remaining four elders communicating with Ganondorf, who was sitting casually across his throne, carelessly swirling a glass of wine in his hand. She had not felt the summons from within her ruby for days. He was communicating with the others without relaying his thoughts through her. It was evident they were being secretive about their meeting when she did not detect voices before she barged into the council chamber, they were communicating only through the rubies.
Ganondorf turned his head to face Nabooru, a look of disregard plainly written across his face. “With all you have been through Nabooru, I did not feel it pertinent to trouble you with these matters.”
She repeated him with incredulity, “Did not feel it pertinent? What matters need addressing?”
Sipping down a swig of the wine, Ganondorf licked his lips before responding, “It does not concern you right now Nabooru. Until such time you can prove to me your loyalty, I cannot have you take part in any decisions that affect the outcome of our people.”
Nabooru stood rooted to the spot as she looked at each of the elders in turn. Although their backs were facing her, each of them were glaring over their shoulders at her. Stunned by the vehemence in their eyes, Nabooru felt truly alone in her own home. Did no one trust her anymore? Was there truly no support?
“I am an elder of the Gerudo people.” Nabooru stated with a slight tremor in her voice. “My objective has always been to the-”
Ganondorf quickly raised a hand to silence her, “I suggest you not complete that sentence Nabooru. You should leave, now.” His voice was soft, but his tone was intense. His eyes bored into Nabooru’s daring her to contravene; she did not disappoint.
“This is ridiculous! I will not stand-” Nabooru’s outrage was cut short as she screamed in agony, she stumbled to her knees clutching her ruby in her hands as Ganondorf pierced her mind with the force of a thousand daggers. With a raised hand, he blasted her across the floor, smashing into the opposite wall knocking several hanging pots to the ground, shattering their contents upon the rock. Ganondorf calmly paced over to her struggling form as he steered her body up the wall to eye level.
“You have one final warning Nabooru.” Ganondorf threatened, mere inches from her face. She could barely concentrate on his words at the intense pain splitting her brain open. “You disobey me or do something to displease me in any way, I will have you executed. You can be replaced. Do not forget that.”
Releasing her from the vicious energies coursing through her, Nabooru dropped to the floor whimpering from the assault. Ganondorf did little to assist her out the door. Resuming his position back on his throne, he continued the intense deliberation with his remaining elders. Nabooru staggered back to her room crying the entire way. She hadn’t seen him since that confrontation. Saria recalled that being the day before yesterday. She had observed the entire scene from out in the hallway. She hadn’t the courage to stop Ganondorf. She thought she could change him, now she wasn’t so sure.
Saria continued to stroke Epona’s flank, enjoying the rippling muscles underneath the fur. Relaxing in the warmth from the brown mare, she recalled her last moments with Link. She closed her eyes and remembered their final embrace. Her memory of it was so vivid that she sometimes would mistake it as happening the day prior. With no one else to really turn to she felt as alone as Nabooru, her only friends being Epona and Harden.
Both horses had grown into fine steeds. Epona’s legs had fully healed and her splints were removed in the first cycle since coming to live with the Gerudo. Although there were only scars to show for the injuries that were inflicted upon her, she would always have a slight limp to her gait as she walked. That would be something that would never go away.
Harden had also developed into a beautiful brown stallion. He was an energetic beast who loved to play. He would always want to bolt around the compound whenever they went to ride him. He loved the feeling of the wind in his mane as he galloped laps around the upper archery range overlooking the fortress. His friskiness also got him in trouble with Epona, during her times of month he would get agitated and try to mount her. She would have none of it and would quickly buck and bite him off.
Saria smiled at the memory of Malon trying to encourage the process. She spent half a day talking to Epona on how it was important to continue her species. The mare listened with amazing restraint, giving the girl her undivided attention. Just when Malon thought Epona finally understood what was expected of her, when the time came for the mating, she’d chase Harden clear out of the stable nipping at his hooves. In the end, they gave up trying to breed the horses and just let them be content to enjoying the single life.
“You can come out now.” Saria blurted out to no one in particular. She shifted her head so she rested her opposite cheek against Epona, watching calmly as Impa stepped out from the shadows.
“How did you know I was there child?” Impa smiled as she glided up to Epona, gently stroking her neck. Epona nickered in greeting before resuming her delicious meal.
Saria shrugged as she continued to sift the fur between her fingers, “I can feel the energies of those around me.” She briefly pointed to the spot where Impa emerged from, “I could feel your heartbeat resting over there.”
“Extraordinary.” Impa breathed as she continued rubbing Epona. “What other things can you do that you aren’t telling us?” She questioned.
Saria continued to lay across Epona’s back. She remained silent for a time before answering quietly. “I don’t know. Sometimes I’m not sure myself if I’m a Kokiri anymore. I have all these strange thoughts swirling about in my head that I’ve never had before. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even myself.”
You stop that silly talk right now Saria! You are a Kokiri, born and bred. That will never change! Sora admonished her.
“But I was…once. I don’t think it is who I am anymore. I’m…something different altogether.” Saria seemed quite miserable. Impa chose to remain silent and let Saria argue with the fairy’s voice inside her mind.
What are you worried about becoming? As long as you have me with you, you’ll never have to fear anything! I’ll make sure you don’t go doing stupid things! Sora encouraged.
“I’m scared of never growing old, of seeing all the people I love wither away and die around me. I’m afraid of never being treated for the adult I am, of people judging me based on my appearance. I’ve lived a longer life than anyone here!” Saria exclaimed.
“I beg to differ, young one.” Impa murmured.
Saria shot a scathing look at Impa’s interruption before resuming her talk with Sora, “I’m anxious that I’ll never experience events that most adults do during their lifetimes. Things were so much simpler when we lived with the Deku Tree. All my friends were with me and we never had to worry about growing old or dying. Now that I could very well be the last Kokiri left alive, how am I to go on?” Saria began to weep bitterly.
Sora’s voice in her head was silent, there was no answer left to give to her troubled thoughts. Impa moved to comfort the poor Kokiri by placing a tender hand on her back. Saria’s reaction was violently unexpected. She smacked Impa’s arm away as she leaped down quickly from the horse, startling Epona in the process. She floated to the ground and began walking away from the stall.
“Just leave me alone!” Saria screamed.
Harden looked up from his rest as she stormed past his booth. Confused but unwilling to leave his comfortable position, he rested his head back down. Impa chose to follow the fuming Kokiri at a distance as she stalked outside the stables into the night. She followed the girl down the hill towards the portcullis at the western edge of the compound. Saria slumped down to the sand next to the bloody post that had been Talon’s punishment. She drew her knees up and buried her face into her arms howling with despair. Impa’s heart broke as she looked upon Saria’s pitiful form, wings wrapped around her like a shawl.
Impa scanned the area to make sure there were no guards being attracted to her wailings before kneeling next to the Kokiri. “What is it you want most Saria?” Impa probed with honest sincerity.
Stifling her ragged sobs, she composed herself enough to respond, “I just want someone to love me. Someone who will never go away or die! I had once thought Link would be my best friend forever, but he is growing older and will soon leave me.” Saria made a sweeping motion with her hand. “Like everyone else does.”
Pulling back her tatty locks, Impa sat down next to the Kokiri. She did not offer physical comfort, she learned her lesson the first time around. “We all eventually die Saria. It is a natural part of life.” Impa explained.
Saria derided, “Ha! Except me. I must be unnatural! We were told by the great Deku Tree that we would wither away and die if we were to leave the forest. Now that Sora is with me, I am unable to die normally. I might as well go throw myself onto a sword and end it all!”
Impa pivoted her head to Saria in stunned silence. Just what emotional damage had been done to this girl by Ganondorf’s beating of Talon? What innocents have lost their internal drive for happiness because of this dreadful war? She could see Saria slowly falling into a vicious spiral of anguish and hopelessness. If it was not reversed soon, she feared the worst for her young friend.
You don’t mean that Saria! Link will come back and it’ll be all right. You’ll see! Sora intoned desperately in Saria’s head.
“Just shut up!” Saria yelled at her inner voice, wishing she could escape from Sora for even just a little while.
Impa knew very little about the Kokiri race, her limited experiences had been during the great war with Nevachrea decades ago. Escorting Link’s mother to her final resting place, she had encountered the enigmatic children. After leaving Link in their capable hands, she took it upon herself to research everything she could find that was recorded on the Kokiri. Even the vast libraries of Hyrule revealed little of value. There was one passage however, that sprang to Impa’s mind that might help this poor girl.
Impa suggested in a motherly tone, “What if I told you that there might be some way to keep a part of Link with you forever?”
Saria lifted one of her wings so she could look at Impa, “Are you serious?” She asked skeptically.
Impa beamed affectionately at her, “I can’t say with certainty, but I believe there may be a way.”
Eager to discover the knowledge that Impa held, Saria crawled into her lap and looked longingly into her eyes. “So how do we make him stay forever?” She asked elatedly.
Impa wasn’t exactly sure how she should relate the idea across to her, “Well, it involves procreation.”
Saria’s wings wilted at the thought, “I don’t think that would work so well. Besides he thinks the idea of it weird.”
Impa laughed softly, “No child. Not in a physical sense. I recall reading something about the fairies of the Kokiri being the main elements of the process.”
Say what?! Sora yelled.
Cringing at the loud voice booming in her head, Saria asked with some confusion, “I don’t follow Impa. How does someone like me have kids?” The thought hadn’t really occurred to her, it wasn’t as outlandish thinking about it as she thought it might be.
“Well,” Impa began reticently, “I was hoping Sora might enlighten us on that subject more than I could.”
“Sora? Do you know what she is talking about?” Saria said to herself.
I haven’t the foggiest! I think she is plain nuts. I mean, will you look at that hair!? Sora mocked.
Saria giggled, “Yeah, her hair is pretty shabby!” Impa frowned at the potential insults Sora was chucking her way. Saria saw the look and waved a hand to dismiss her disapproval, “No, she is just teasing you Impa. Sora has no idea what you are talking about.” Saria confirmed.
“Is she positive she knows nothing about this?” Impa pressed, she was hoping that all fairies of the Kokiri would at least know of this.
Tell her I’m serious. I haven’t a clue about how we help you have babies! A Kokiri hasn’t been born to the woods in centuries! Sora said with unwavering confidence.
“So then I really am the last of my kind.” Saria’s countenance fell.
Impa could deduce Sora’s response by Saria’s expression. She pulled the Kokiri into an embrace, Saria did not resist this time and let the Sheikah’s arms envelope her quivering body. Placing her cheek on her green hair, Impa whispered, “I’m so sorry, I was hoping beyond hopes that it would have been possible.” A tear dribbled down her face.
“It’s okay.” Saria said trying to sound merry, “I know you were just trying to cheer me up. Thank you for that, at least.”
“Anything for you child.” Impa crooned as she patted the Kokiri’s hair.
At length they parted as Saria looked up into Impa’s purple eyes, “I have to get to sleep now. Ganondorf always checks my room each night to make sure I’m in bed safely.” She sighed.
“He still cares for you?” Impa asked inquisitively.
Saria nodded her head, “Why does he have to be so mean? He’s always so gentle with me. Why can’t he be that way to my friends?”
“I do not know. I sincerely hope your presence can influence things for the better, but do not trust he will change just for you.” Impa warned.
Saria smiled as she left Impa’s lap and headed back to the fortress. She turned around to wave goodbye but beheld nothing but the shadows along the brick wall. Slightly despondent at her absence, Saria turned around and trudged to her quarters. Unbeknownst to the two of them, two pairs of eyes had been watching the entire conversation from above the grand gate. A shimmer of the air revealed their presence as the spell lifted.
“Ho ho ho, I thought there was a rat slinking around the fortress!” Kotake cackled.
“He he he, I felt her presence for so many cycles, but could not prove her existence!” Koume chortled.
Kotake walked over to the edge and looked down at the sands, hoping to spy where the Sheikah had slunk off to, “I do not see her anymore sister. She has given us the slip yet again.” Kotake whined.
“Quit your moaning! She will make a mistake in time and then we’ll have her!” Koume crowed jovially.
Kotake summoned her broom with a flourish into her hand, “Shall we report this to our lord, Ganondorf?”
Koume brandished her broom between her legs as she began floating off the ground, “I should think not. He has enough on his plate already.”
Kotake tapped a finger to her jutting chin, “You may be right sister. He needn’t be bothered with such petty annoyances.”
“Let us fly then and enjoy the night!” Koume squawked.
They flew directly at the barrier, both arms outstretched as they blasted a hole through the aura. They sailed past the malicious energy as the gap sealed itself whole in their wake. They screeched in glee, twirling through the air on their brooms, soaring off into the crisp, cool night.
Ganondorf emerged from the shadows of a doorway as he regarded the witches slowly dwindling on the horizon. They were planning something. They had blocked telepathic communication with him for a reason; he just had to figure out why. With a huff, he spun around and entered the corridor. He wandered the passage deep in thought as he made his way to Saria’s room for his nightly rounds.