Chapter 39 - Little Listener
It had been almost a week since his imprisonment. The dull, metal bars made the memories flood back with a vengeance. His diet was drastically transformed for the worse. They had fed him nothing but plain water and lukewarm gruel. His body had changed little in terms of overall bulk, but the hunger pains hurt something fierce in the depths of the night. They had left him to rot in the cell with nothing but the tattered tights in which he was whipped in, the scars across his back had just started to fade finally. Nobody came to see him but the occasional guard who delivered his food. They wouldn’t even allow him to talk to Nabooru or their daughter, Giana.
A creak at the door penetrated his thoughts. Talon looked out the grim window to see the morning sun just cresting the canyon walls. He sighed, it must be breakfast time already. The figure who strolled in was not the one he had been expecting. He stood up with a start as the diminutive girl walked in holding a tray of steaming porridge, a bit hotter than he was used to but he’d gladly accept it. She turned to him with a forlorn smile on her face, her wings slowly wavering behind her.
“Hey Talon.” Saria smiled weakly. She had clearly seen better days for her eyes were bloodshot as if she had been profusely crying.
Talon surged up to the bars, gripping them tight. “Did they hurt ya any?” He asked her extremely concerned.
She shook her head before responding, “No. I’ve actually been treated very nice. I’m more worried about you. Have they let you see any of your family yet?”
He bowed his head low, clearly wrought with anguish at his situation. It would at least be somewhat tolerable if he could see his family once a day. “No. I haven’t seen anyone but the Gerudo guards. They don’t even mess with me at all except ta bring me food.”
Saria slipped the tray through the bars as best she could, Talon assisted her. “Well here is some warm food for you.” She flushed slightly. “I made it myself with the help of the cooks. I said I had wanted to bring you food today. No one really had any objections.”
Talon beamed at her tenderly. “Ya are such a sweet girl. I am glad ta have ya as a friend.”
“Thank you.” Saria said shyly. She hadn’t been complimented much the past week, having excommunicated herself fully from the majority of the population in the fortress.
Talon took a spoonful of the gruel and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor. Most times it was tasteless and utterly disgusting. He only gagged it down because he needed to keep his energy up. His eyes widened with surprise, “What flavor did ya put in this?” Talon asked interested.
Saria leaned over to look at the bowl, “See those green flecks? I put some basil in there. It was one of the few spices I recognized on the shelves.”
“It is absolutely delicious!” Talon complimented. He began spooning it in with zest, gulping the slop hungrily.
“I’m happy you like it.” Saria beamed as Talon feasted on her cooking. The feeling was something unique and different. She had never cooked for anyone before in her life and it was gratifying to have someone appreciate what she did.
With one final slurp, Talon had finished the entire meal. Appreciatively handing back the bowl to her through the bars, he inquired. “Do ya think ya can do this every day?”
Saria looked away fleetingly, “I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think I can if Ganondorf is around to see me do it.”
Talon nodded in understanding, “I understan’ Saria. Don’t get in trouble on my account.” His face became animated at this valuable opportunity. “How is Nabooru? What news do ya have about Giana?” Talon asked eagerly.
Saria grinned at the last question with Giana, “That little girl is quite rambunctious. She can always be found rollicking around at the upper archery range with the young colts. She has as much fondness for animals as Malon does.”
Talon tentatively asked, “Does she ask about me?”
Saria’s countenance fell slightly, “She does. They simply tell her you are on a trip and that you’ll be back soon.”
He cursed at this blatant lie. Promptly apologizing for saying such blasphemies in front of Saria, he continued, “I’m furious fer them lying ta my own daughter about where I am! Can ya tell her what’s happened to me?”
Saria shook her head disconcertedly, “What purpose would that serve Talon? You want her to worry about her father? How would that help her?”
Talon grimaced in agreement, “Ya right. I apologize fer asking that of you. Can ya at least tell Nabooru I am okay?”
Saria warmed up to that notion, “I can do that.” She sighed deeply, “Well, I better get going then.”
She reached through the bars and placed a tender hand on his cheek. He gratefully pressed into her tiny palm, holding it tight against his face with his hand. They stayed connected for several minutes. Tranquility flowed around them as they embraced each other’s company. With a soft gasp, Talon released her hand as she drew it back between the bars. Leaving him with one, last, angelic smile, she turned and headed out the door shutting it gently behind her.
Saria paced down the halls knowing exactly where she was going by this point, her ultimate destination was Nabooru’s quarters. She knew a route that would take her past the council chamber. She tended to pass by that room far more often these days in hopes she could glean some sort of valuable information that would be of use to her friends. After returning the bowl and tray back to the kitchens, she proceeded down the network of passages that would lead her right past the council room.
She was within several paces of it before she realized her efforts had not been in vain. She quickly ducked to the side of the doorframe just out of sight. She craned her head around the corner to see the two vile witches, Kotake and Koume. They were alone in the room with Ganondorf, who appeared to be listening intently to their dialogue. What were they plotting now? She pricked her ears up higher trying to hear their hushed whispers better.
“Ho ho ho, he has bought the ruse wonderfully my lord!” Kotake cackled.
“He he he, he truly believes we are out to betray the Gerudo!” Koume hooted.
Ganondorf grunted before responding, “That is just as well. Without his assistance in this matter, I don’t think we have a chance of winning. The key is to keep him into thinking you are cooperating. If Link cannot complete this errand, our plan fails.”
“Why does it have to be that insolent whelp?” Kotake smoldered.
“Why can it not be you who uses the sacred stones to access the Master Sword?” Koume questioned roughly.
“Because I am not as stupid as you two hags.” Both witches grumbled affronted at his jab at their age. “I’ve done my research and the boy has definitely filled in some blanks for me about the issue. The Master Sword chooses its wielder. I am quite confident that it is not me.”
“So what do you propose we do? We let him make it all the way to the Master Sword?” Kotake quizzed nonplussed.
“What if Link accesses the Triforce first, where does that leave us?” Koume wailed.
Ganondorf waved a hand in dismissal at their protest, “You need not concern yourself with that. I have a plan that will ensure that the Gerudo claim the Triforce for themselves.”
“What?” Kotake cawed. “You will not reveal your plans to your most confident advisors?”
“The two women who spent years rearing you up in the dark arts and raised you from a babe?” Koume offered.
Ganondorf derided, “Do not try my patience. I owe you two witches nothing. What I keep secret is my business. Now leave me!”
A gust of pure energy washed over the room; knocking both witches back a few steps. They looked at each other uncertainly before stepping out of the chamber. The door slammed shut swiftly behind them, smacking Kotake presently on the butt. She jerked forward with a start, she did little to conceal her vexed anger. Saria immediately crouched low in the shadows of the hall, drawing her wings tight against her body; hoping her innate ability to appear inconspicuous worked in her favor.
“That man is riding our culture into the ground sister.” Kotake fumed, gingerly rubbing her behind at the smarting sting.
Koume sniffed in displeasure, “Agreed. The previous kings were much more agreeable to our will. He cannot be tamed.”
They swiftly whisked past Saria’s position, she huddled closer to the ground watching the two crones sweep by. Her heart beat faster as they stopped just feet away from her. The witch with the flaming red crystal swirled around, her eyes flickering back and forth down the hall. Her sister turned to investigate why they had stopped.
“What is it? Is something wrong?” Kotake probed.
After a few moments, Koume shook her head. “I believe we have that rat listening in again.”
“She’ll slip up eventually and then we’ll have her!” Kotake scoffed.
Gazing down the corridor one last time, she turned and continued their walk. “Indeed so sister. We need to make sure,” she continued with their original train of thought, “that the good of our people come first. Regardless of the king that rules them.”
“Shall we grant an assist with the next pregnancy among the Gerudo?” Kotake offered.
“I’m afraid so. I believe the current king has outlived his usefulness. It would be so unfortunate if something…untoward should happen to him.” Koume chortled.
Both witches laughed all the way down the hall. As they receded behind a corner, Saria bolted from her hiding spot and dashed through the winding pathways before slamming up against Nabooru’s door. She was pounding so hard she feared she might wake everyone else in the fortress for it was still early in the morning. Aside from the night shift, most Gerudo were still in their beds at this hour.
Nabooru swiftly opened the door. Her eyes expanded at Saria standing before her, she quickly signaled the Kokiri inside. She put a finger to her lips before directing Saria’s attention over to the alcove where she shared a bed with Giana, her daughter. The little tyke was sleeping blissfully under a blanket of furs, her little snores the only sound in the room. Saria looked rueful at having been so rude for banging on her door. Nabooru dismissed it quickly.
Nabooru offered a chair that Saria gratefully accepted before sitting down. “I’m so happy to finally see you again Saria.” Nabooru began, grateful to finally make contact with the reclusive Kokiri. Ever since the incident with Malon, she had neglected all exchanges with everyone. “What brings you here this morning? Is there anything I can do for you?” She seemed genuinely concerned for Saria, which helped stem her fears about coming to her. She observed Nabooru adjusting her wraparound top as it had dipped low over her breasts during the night.
“I think something awful is going to happen soon here.” Saria blurted out abruptly.
Nabooru placed a hand on the Kokiri’s shoulder as she noticed her wings flittering restlessly, “It is going to be okay Saria. Just slow down and tell me everything.” She feared the worst and closed her eyes as Saria confirmed her suspicions.
Saria shakily began, “Kotake and Koume seem to have made contact with the invading army. They were on Ganondorf’s orders to deceive them, that they would assist in defeating the Gerudo.” Nabooru’s eyes grew cold at the news but allowed the Kokiri to continue, “They are working towards permitting Link to succeed in his quest for the sacred stones. They want him to pull out the Master Sword!”
Nabooru cursed at the treachery of the two witches, “Why the Master Sword? Is the army’s general in agreement with this?”
Saria shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t know. I only heard that he would be cooperating with the witches in this.”
Nabooru leaned back in her chair while she thought about the situation a bit, “So Ganondorf sent them to trick the army into helping Link fulfill this failure of a quest in return for the surrender of the Gerudo. However, they were under orders by Ganondorf to propose this deal. Am I getting this right?”
Saria dipped her head in agreement, “That’s not the worst of it!” She said intensely.
Nabooru made a motion for her to continue, “I’m listening.” She said calmly, although her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and plans.
“Ganondorf has something up his sleeve he did not reveal to the witches. I don’t know what it is, he won’t tell them. The two of them are also plotting about removing Ganondorf from power as well! They don’t believe he is a good enough leader anymore!” Saria exclaimed. She nervously looked over at Giana as Nabooru shot her a frown at the volume of her voice.
Nabooru got up and paced around the room, her musings swirling around like a maelstrom. So Ganondorf was playing both the witches and Naar. Naar was playing along with the two crones to manipulate Link in exchange for the Gerudo and the witches were playing everyone as fools. There was a lot of treachery afoot and Nabooru and her family were caught in the middle of it. Something evil was looming on the horizon and it would not be long now before the Gerudo were at its doorstep. She needed to act now or all would be lost.
Nabooru turned to Saria still waiting patiently in the chair, watching her as she stalked up and down the room in silence. “Saria, I need you to secretly pack several rucksacks with supplies: hardy meats and cheeses, several canteens and clothes. See to it that Epona and Harden are ready to travel at a moment’s notice.”
Saria absorbed all the direction in, “Shall I notify Talon of all this?” She asked quizzically.
Nabooru stared at the Kokiri a few moments; not realizing the young girl actually had access to Talon. Presently she nodded, “Yes. Make sure he knows as well. We will pick him up last when it is time.”
“May I come along too on this endeavor?” Impa clucked as she emerged from the corner of the room.
Scimitars were instantly drawn as Nabooru leaped across the room to seize them off the rock slab that served as a table. She stood in front of Giana who was startled awake by the sudden commotion. She began rubbing her eyes as the sleep slowly wore off.
“Mommy? What’s going on?” The little girl asked groggily.
“An intruder. Stay behind me!” She commanded. The girl’s eyes popped open at the sudden shift in her mother’s tone. She instantly curled up backwards against the wall of the alcove, fruitlessly bundling up covers between herself and the perceived threat.
Saria flew up between the two of them, her hands out to ward off any blows Nabooru might inflict upon Impa. “No! Do not fight! She is a friend. She was with us when Link first came to the Gerudo. She has been with us ever since!”
“A spy!” Nabooru spat, advancing on Impa who seemed unfazed at the bravado and chose to remain silent and still.
Saria buzzed angrily in Nabooru’s face as the Gerudo attempted to push the flying Kokiri out of her way. “Don’t hurt her!” She yelled.
“Leave me be Saria! I need to handle this Sheikah spy!” Nabooru shouted angrily.
Impa slammed a Deku Nut onto the ground blinding them all. Giana let out a shriek from fright at the unexpected flash bang. Impa quickly disarmed the Gerudo elder before tossing the swords off to the side. They landed with a clanging ring onto the brick floor. Impa continued calmly, “If my intent was to harm you or your daughter, I would have already done so seventy times over. It is clear to me we have to work together to assist Link.”
Nabooru leaned a hand up against the wall to maintain her balance. Stars were still dancing across her vision. “What makes me believe you?”
Impa simply crossed her arms, “Nothing. You either choose to believe me, or you don’t.” She slipped out an ocarina from the folds of her clothes, Nabooru fixated on the object as the Sheikah held it aloft. “This is a treasure of the royal family blessed by the Goddess Hylia. This is one of the key elements needed to acquire the Master Sword.” Impa pointed to the dimly glowing emerald hanging around Saria’s neck by a leather strap. “We have another piece right there under her possession. I heard the entire conversation. If we can get to Link and assist him in accomplishing his mission, we can be the sole deciding factor that upsets all their plans.”
As much as she hated to admit it, the Sheikah had a point. Fully recovered from the surprise flash, Nabooru walked over to comfort Giana. “So what is it you require of me?” She spoke evenly.
“Nothing.” Impa stated flatly, deftly tucking the ocarina back into her hidden pocket. “Just continue what you are doing with Saria. Your plan does not need to be changed. Just know that I will be going with you when you leave.” She paused momentarily before adding, “You are right Nabooru. There is a storm coming, and we best be ready for when it hits.”
Without another word, she opened the door and vanished into the corridor. Giana meekly crawled over to the edge of the bed before acquiring Saria’s attention, “Is it still too late to ask for you to play with me?” Giana asked hopefully.
Saria beamed at the adorable girl, “Of course not!” She extended a hand which Giana appreciatively accepted, hopping down from the bed she ran out ahead of the Kokiri who followed her out. Saria turned around one last time to look at Nabooru. They shared a look before she rushed down the hall chasing after the wildly active child.
“Hey! Wait up Giana! You’re too fast!” She opted to fly after the giggling tyke than have to run after her.
Nabooru stewed in her room for many hours before finally coming out for breakfast.