Chapter 56 - A Piece of the Goddess
His eyes fluttered open, rapidly blinking away the rain pounding onto his face. He turned his head to see a blue glowing light beating towards him. He wanted to reach his hand out for the radiant globe of luminescence, but he couldn't manage to lift his arm up from the soaked ground. All he could hear was the roaring of the Hunger as it swung its cavernous, clawed hand at Saria. She was whizzing to and fro, kicking it in the face before zipping off out of its reach. An inner courage sustained her fury as she assailed the ineffectual demon. Its speed was no match for her lithe movements.
"Navi?" Link croaked disbelievingly. "Is that really you?" He coughed violently, blood spurting from his lips.
"There, there, it's going to be all right Link." The little fairy landed gently onto his chest. Kneeling down onto her shins, she grasped his face in her hands and laid her head on his cheek. "I've missed you so much Link, I'm sorry I left so suddenly when I did." Tears began streaming down her tiny face.
"I never...hated you for it." Link rasped, in-between deep, gasping breaths.
Her salty tears still dripping onto his skin, she wailed, "All Kokiri live forever with their fairies, a product of the gift given to them by Hylia. I was uncertain about the Great Deku Tree's command to become your fairy Link but over time I grew to appreciate you, respect you and love you. But I couldn't bear the thought of you dying and leaving me alone without a partner forever and ever!"
Link looked at her shining body out of the corner of his eyes, turning his head hurt too much. "I'm sorry...to disappoint Navi, but I think I am dying."
Navi rose up from his cheek and looked at him sternly, "Link! This is exactly what I've been waiting for!" Receiving the expected response of confusion on his face, she pressed onward, "I left you looking for a way to become one with you. Every fairy can do this with their Kokiri. It is a natural part of what they are. A single blessing handed down by Hylia to protect the Kokiri should something bad happen to them. However, there was no documentation on how it could be done and if it was even possible with a Hylian!"
Link smiled at her single-minded determination to be with him forever, "Can...it be done?" He wheezed, more blood dribbling down his chin.
She nodded vigorously. "I traveled to the far corners of this land, to the very heart of another realm that I dare not speak of here. It was there in that perpetual twilight that I found the secrets of the blessing we were bestowed. You had to die Link, to be on the cusp of the afterlife before my soul could find its way inside the hole that has now opened up within yours. I'm scared Link, I don't know what will happen when we merge. I don't think this has happened ever!"
A tear came to his eye, "You did...all that for me?" She bowed her head in affirmation and brushed his cheek with an affectionate kiss. "I trust you Navi." Link rattled, blood slowly filling up his lungs. With one final gasp, he closed his eyes.
Taking a ragged breath, Navi stood up on his chest and found the right spot where his heart would be. She laid down on her stomach and pressed her face up into his tunic, hearing the last slow beats of his heart. Tears flowing unendingly, she whispered, "I will always love you Link."
Closing her eyes she gave herself over to the energy within her. She could feel it release into the ether and latch on to Link's departing soul. Her little frame gasped as it locked onto his spirit and brought them together inside of him. She no longer felt her body dissolving into his chest. Blinding light surrounded the two souls bounded together in final matrimony. Link gulped in his first breath of new life, burning warmth broiling inside his heart. He could feel Navi's loving essence flow throughout his body, down his limbs and into his mind. She was with him forever until death claimed them both. Moving his toes, he could feel new vitality in his legs, miraculously reattached via Hylia's blessing.
Navi's last words echoed in his head. He shut his eyes tight trying to block out the flow of tears, "Thank you Navi, for everything."
The Hunger contorted in rage at the holy light that seared through its skin, so painful was the luminous glow that it lost all focus on attacking Saria. Releasing Zelda from its grip, she rolled across the ground back up onto her feet. In a flash she was making a run for Nabooru and Epona. At length, the blooming light faded leaving a fully whole Link. The demon looked incredulously at the man he had just severed in half. What manner of power was this?
Stumbling slightly as Link brought himself to his feet, he looked at the demon with burning vengeance in his eyes. A cry of pain doubled him over onto his knees. The Hunger snickered in delight. This would be an easy kill. This time it would swallow him whole. The demon stopped short as Link's scream grew primal and a ripping of skin could be heard.
Two wings of purest white sprouted from beyond Link's shoulder blades, unfurling in majestic beauty behind him. They were no longer than the length of his arms at the wrist and they reached no further down than the top of his legs. He staggered to remain kneeling as the excruciating pain from the transformation slowly ebbed away. Hobbling back up to his feet, he turned his head to view the new additions.
"She did it...she actually did it!" Saria exclaimed, beautiful crystalline drops streamed unchecked down her face.
"Link? How...?" Zelda and Nabooru were rooted to the spot at the unexpected, extraordinary event.
"Impossible!" The Hunger seethed. "A piece of the Goddess lies within you! This is inconceivable!" Its voices rose to a fever pitch.
"Believe it Barrachas." Link spat, splaying his wings out wide in a threatening pose. "I will kill you and every last follower you have!" With the innate power surging through his heart, a sword of holy, blazing fire erupted into his hand; its flames licking the very air with anticipation of the kill.
"No...No!" The demon raged; it swung its arm in a right hook, elongating its length as the clawed hand opened up to reveal the tunneling canal within.
The intrinsic sense from Navi deep inside of him allowed Link to sidestep the clumsy attack easily. Swiftly bringing the burning sword down on the limb, the demon howled with agony as noxious, black blood sprayed across the grass. The wriggling limb slowly shriveled away to nothing before disappearing into dust. A look of fear was in the creatures eyes as it gazed with trepidation at the blazing sword Link wielded.
Knowing full well that any further attempts to harm Link would result in failure, it turned its eyes instead towards the horse and its occupants. Scampering across the ground on three spindly legs, its head split open into a gaping maw intent to swallow Nabooru whole. It leaped across the horse, clutching Nabooru's face with its teeth. It fell to the other side dragging the screaming Gerudo to the ground with it. It began the swift process of stuffing the woman deep into its belly to be digested quickly.
"Die you evil spawn!" A man's voice yelled.
The demon tilted its head to look at the incoming rider galloping in on a spotted horse with one eye. It hurriedly tried to stop the incessant kicking of his meal, both legs still dangling out of its head and her shrieking resounding inside its belly. Turning to the new threat, it gobbled up the rest of Nabooru into its stomach, reshaping its head in the process. Link sprinted towards the abominable creature, trying to flap his wings, hoping they'd provide some additional haste. He knew they only had seconds to save the struggling form of Nabooru who was still kicking out from inside the demon.
Francis rode in on the spotted horse before leaping off with trident firmly in hand. With a war cry, he rammed the steel into the Hunger's face, slamming it to the ground with the impact. Link dashed up to the struggling form of Nabooru and with a steady hand began slicing the stomach of the demon open with the tip of his sword. The beast thrashed and raged at the holy fire scorching its insides. Within moments, Link gripped the slimy hand of Nabooru and yanked her from the bloody cavity.
"Insignificant mortals!" The Hunger bellowed. Struggling to wrench the trident from the stubborn Francis, who was all too eager to keep twisting the weapon into its visage. Zelda screamed from atop Epona as she witnessed the demon curl up onto itself and envelope Francis whole, encasing him in a mound of brown, spiny flesh. A muffled cry went up from within the beast as his outline contorted and crumpled into assimilated nothingness.
Without wasting a moment, Link stabbed through the writhing mass with his sword, immolating the beast's skin. Its guttural cries rent the air as Link pierced it again and again with the light of Hylia. He didn't stop until tears were flowing and the unholy aberration was nothing but a pile of dust at his feet. Francis was gone.
Zelda brought Epona around and gracefully glided off her flank. Saria touched down nearby before walking towards the group. Nabooru preferred to sit where she was and praise the Goddesses that she was still alive. She didn't care that she was an awful, sticky mess.
"He betrayed us...but he came back to save us." Link said uncomprehendingly.
"Maybe he felt regret for what he had done and chose to redeem himself." Zelda offered.
Link shrugged his shoulders, dissipating the sword with a flourish. "Perhaps. Is this what it has come down to? Is this what we are up against? Demons?" He turned to her for answers.
Zelda shook her head, "I don't know Link. I wish I knew more, but I don't."
Link jolted, startled as he felt a tiny hand filter through his feathery wings. Shuddering from the foreign touch, Link shook his extensions. Zelda shielded herself from the droplets of water he flung off. "I like what Navi has done to you Link." Saria giggled as she attacked his feathers once more.
Twirling away from her violating touch, he tried to fly back but lost the flow of movement and tumbled to the ground in a heap. Recovering from his fall, he sat back up, grimacing from the impact of landing on one of his new additions. "Stop that Saria. They are really sensitive!"
She chuckled as she stepped up to him, "You're still not used to them. Neither was I when I first got mine." She turned to look at her gossamer wings, flapping them in jest at his inability to utilize them. "That's okay," she smiled, "I can help you learn to use them."
Gratefully accepting her hand, he stood back up. Examining the sky, it appeared the storm had finally broken. Patches of blue were peeking through the grey. "So what do we do now?" Link asked, walking over to pick up the tossed mask of Ballos.
Nabooru pointed over towards Glaun'rung, "We go back and assist the others."
Ganondorf smashed the head of the final robed mage before vaporizing the rest of his body. The witches had separated once more and were lounging back on their brooms, perfectly at home in the air floating above the chaos. He grunted in apprehension as he spun to the front gates, only to relax as Link and the others trudged through the gates, clearly exhausted. The witches had to rebalance themselves as they beheld the new wings Link was sporting. Even Ganondorf huffed in surprise at the unforeseen turn of events.
Malon ran up to Link, her eyes were searching their party fervently, "Where's Harden?" A tremble rose in her voice.
Zelda and Nabooru decided it best to ride Epona onward back to the stables as they left the two of them alone. Link grasped her shoulders with his hands. Her eyes darted between his new appendages but did not question yet, her mind was on her horse. He sighed heavily, "I'm sorry Malon, Harden's dead." It would do no good to tell her how he died.
"Dead?" She repeated numbly. "Dead? Dead! Dead!!" Her repetitions got more agitated with each passing. He wrapped his arms around her tightly as she beat into his chest, weeping bitterly. Without realizing that he was doing so, his wings enfolded them both, enclosing them in a circle of personal grief.
Aggressively bursting out of his arms and pushing his wings away, she ran away crying. Link stared at her retreating form, heading for the inn. I'm sorry Link. A voice chimed inside his head.
"Navi?!" He exhaled happily. "Is that you?"
Yes. I am with you always now. I see what you see and I can alert you to things you can't. She spoke softly.
A smile broke out on his face at this abnormally wonderful concept. "Just like old times?" He laughed joyfully.
Not quite, but sure. Navi spoke, most likely with a smile if she had been physically present.
Shaking his head with astonishment at this new development, he paced over to the gathering group. Ganondorf was lounging off to the side with Apolloni, several gashes streaked across her abdomen and arms but she seemed more or less okay. Merin was leaning up against Xavier who had fallen fast asleep and was gurgling blissfully. Ashley was sitting cross-legged by her feet, leaning up against her legs with eyes drooping heavily. It seemed the battle had taken its toll on everyone.
Link glanced around the carnage that had transpired in the plaza, "Are they all dead?"
"Ho ho ho! They all are." Kotake cackled.
"He he he! Blasted by our magick they were!" Koume chortled.
Link looked down at the ground despondently, "Francis betrayed us...but then gave his life up to help us kill Barrachas."
Ganondorf snorted with disdain, "Just as well. At least in death he proved himself useful."
Link shot him a look, "At least he died a hero."
Apolloni scoffed, "And what is a hero these days, hmm?"
"Knock it off." Merin exasperated, eager to shut her elder superior up. Pointing at his unfurled wings she inquired, "So what happened there?"
Embarrassed at being suddenly so different from the rest of them, he nervously gripped one arm as he recounted, "...And I think because of that, Navi is now inside me and I grew these."
"You are an interesting subject Link." Ganondorf smiled. A second later it was gone making Link wonder if it had graced his face at all. "Nevertheless, we must pick up the pieces here and figure out what our next step is. Just because we cut off the heart does not mean the rest of the body perishes, there are tens of thousands of troops between us and Hyrule now. We must start thinking about how to be rid of them and ultimately of General Naar."
"I support my lord's sentiment, we must prepare for another mission." Apolloni agreed arrogantly.
Lightly brushing his hair, Merin woke up the sleeping Ashley, "Come on sleepyhead, we better find us a bed to sleep in."
The boy pouted at being woken but obediently followed her orders. The two of them dawdled off towards the inn where everyone else seemed to have gathered. Without bothering to look at Ganondorf, Apolloni or the witches, Link patted the Cyn'Taak on the snout. It growled irritated but immediately dropped its demeanor as it saw Link. It eagerly began pawing his tunic trying in vain to give him a lopsided hug. He laughed at its clumsy nature as it tried to imitate what people so often did.
Xavier, satisfied with their reunion, lumbered after him as he headed for the pub. Link glanced over to the stables as they strolled by to see Ingo wiping Epona down with a brush, tears in his eyes. So he was told the news, Link thought. Indicating Xavier to stay outside since they certainly wouldn't be able to fit her bulk through the doorframe, he pushed the shutters aside and entered the gloom. A crushing bear hug lifted him up off the floor as Talon exclaimed with jolly cheers. Link yelped in pain as the man unknowingly squished his wings.
"Ah! Sorry there Link! I didn't realize ya had grown some new ones!" He guffawed heartily after roughly setting him back down. Link tried to reach back and massage the bases where they protruded but grew annoyed when he could not reach.
"Let me." Zelda soothed as she walked up behind him and gently rubbed the base of each wing with her dexterous hands. His shoulders went slack as he gave into the wondrous sensations he never knew existed.
"This feels wrong..." Link uttered not knowing why.
"It looks wrong." Nabooru laughed as she saw the euphoric look on Link's face.
Realizing the potential implications there, Zelda swiftly stopped the massage and blushed as she sat back down beside Nabooru, straightening down her breeches. "I'm sorry Link...I didn't mean to imply things like that."
Recuperating from the sudden kneading on his back, he beamed at her, "No, thank you. They feel much better now."
Impa came up beside him, "You really look worse for wear though." She smirked observing his stained tunic and boots.
"You should see the-" Link began.
Impa swiftly put a hand to his lips, "You've said that one before Link. Come up with new lines if you are trying to be funny."
Link looked dumbfounded at her rebuttal. Her stern face couldn't hide the sneaking grin as she burst out laughing at his reaction. As if infected with her contagion, Link busted up laughing with her. Merin came back downstairs having bathed and put Ashley to bed and watched with eyebrows raised at the two manically laughing whackos, "Sheikahs have humor?" She asked flatly.
Zelda giggled, "Yes, especially Impa. I should know. She had been my caretaker since I was born." She gave a bemused look to the Sheikah.
Impa ruffled his hair before sweeping past to sit down beside Zelda. A shrieking cry diverted all attention to the stairs as Giana bounded past Merin and ran into Link's arms. He picked her up and twirled her around, her hysterical giggling infecting the rest of the crew who couldn't help but smile at the adorable tyke.
"Are you a real fairy now?" Giana asked, looking at his white feathers with wide eyes, her grubby hands pawing through them.
Wincing slightly at the weird feeling of having someone touch him there, he allowed the curious girl to continue petting the wings, "No Giana. But a fairy is inside me now."
Her eyes bulged as she tried to peek down his tunic. "Where?!" She cried, wanting to know.
"Not there silly!" He howled jovially. He held her firmly with one hand and placed her palm over his heart. "She is inside here."
"Oh..." She mouthed, clearly not fully understanding. "Will you play with me now?" Her obliviousness to the situation at hand knew no bounds.
Smiling, he shook his head, "Not right now, my princess." She flushed red at this. "Where is Malon?"
Her countenance fell at his question, "She's upstairs." She pointed sadly.
Giving a knowing look to the rest, he set the excitable girl down as she leaped into Impa's arms. Putting a hand on Merin's shoulder as he walked by her, he went up the stairs and down the hall. Stopping just short of her room, he took a deep breath before entering. She was lying on the bed facing the window, her back turned to him. He could still hear her soft sobbing.
"Malon?" He whispered; her crying stopped, but she still laid where she was. He drew closer to the bedside before asking again. "Malon? It's me, do you want to talk?"
"I didn't get to say goodbye." She chafed into the blankets.
Placing a consoling hand on her waist, he sat down beside her. The bed creaked in protest at their combined weight. "He was a valiant horse and defended Zelda to the end." Link had no idea why he lied, but he knew telling her the awful truth of his demise was not wise.
She sniffed before turning her head to look at him, "He truly did that?" She asked wistfully.
Link merely nodded. With sorrow written across her face, she reached out for him to lie down beside her. Shifting his weight to be behind her, he gracelessly maneuvered his wings so he wouldn't crush them beneath his body. Such bothersome things, they were!
"You really are a fairy boy now aren't you?" She giggled, a bit of mirth seeping back into her voice.
He laughed, "Yeah...I guess I am."
"Will you stay with me tonight?" She asked.
"What about the others?" Link queried softly, wrapping his arm around her waist to hold her tight.
"I don't care. I just want your company tonight." She breathed shakily.
No one dared bother the two of them as they slept together that evening, sharing in the grief of their lost friend.
The Blessed Vishnu said:
Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.
I have come to engage all people.
With the exception of you,
All those standing here shall perish.
- Bhagavad Gita Scripture
End of Act 2