The Bean Seller
Link left Kakariko Village behind him even as the sun rose over the mountains before him. Starting across the field, he wondered aloud which way it was to Zora's Domain. Fortunately, Navi had a helpful hint for him.
"Saria mentioned that the Zoras guard a river. If we find a river, we should be able to follow it upstream all the way to their domain."
"And I know exactly where to look, too!" Link exclaimed with a snap of his fingers. "The moat around the castle!"
Navi said, "Good thinking. That should get us there."
It didn't take them long to find the river feeding into the moat. They immediately started upriver, which meandered near the base of the mountains though it didn't get very close to the path leading up to Kakariko. In fact, it traveled away from it, leading the two adventurers farther to the east. After traveling a fair distance this way, it turned to the mountains and began climbing. Link and his fairy companion stuck close to the banks, which sometimes rose high above the river and sometimes dipped down close to it. Trees began to appear on both sides, growing closer together the further they went on. It soon became a problem to navigate, forcing Link and Navi around the cluster of trees to where they could move forward. Link worried that they would lose the river, their only way to find Zora's Domain, but Navi somehow always managed to find it again.
Then they came to a waterfall. The fall itself wasn't very high - only a little taller than the Kokiri boy, but the rise it fell from was slick rock, which would make climbing over it tricky. As the two of them pondered this problem, they heard a voice above them, "Hoo hoo!" They turned to the owl perched in a tree beside them.
"You look to be in a bit of a bind," he said, cocking his head curiously. "And with Zora's Domain just ahead, that must be maddening."
"It's just one little waterfall," Link agreed, clenching his fist. Then he turned to the owl with a hopeful expression. "Maybe you could fly us over?"
"Perhaps I could if there was no other course of action," said the owl, looking thoughtfully toward the sky. "But a minor obstacle can prove to be an invaluable opportunity to learn - to exercise your creativity and resourcefulness. And perhaps this lesson will prove to be crucial later on when you do not have me to guide you."
"So that's a 'no' then," Link grumbled. He muttered under his breath, "I wish you'd just say that instead of making up stuff to sound all wise." He saw Navi flash him a dirty look.
"Sorry, I didn't quite catch that," said the owl, stretching his neck toward Link and twisting his head to the side.
"Nothing." Link turned back to the rise and studied it thoughtfully but still he could not see a way over it. The trees didn't grow close enough for Link to climb up and jump onto it. He glanced up at the owl perched in the tree above him and had a brief thought of knocking him out of it… and then it turned into an idea.
Navi murmured, "If only there was something to stand on, you'd be able to reach…" She turned to her Kokiri and reacted in surprise. "What are you doing?"
He jumped guiltily but quickly smoothed his face and answered innocently, "Exercising my creativity." He pulled something from his pack, placed it behind the tree out of Navi's sight, and then leaped out of the way as though afraid the tree was about to…
"Mr. Owl!" she cried.
He leaped onto another tree as a sudden explosion rocked the one where he had been perched. Its trunk cracked with earsplitting sounds as it slowly tipped toward the embankment until finally it settled on top, creating a ramp up to it.
Navi was beside herself with fury. Her entire body shook as she screamed at Link, who cowed beneath her, "Do you realize what you nearly did? You could have killed him!""
"I agree," said the owl though he sounded strangely curious rather than angry or shaken. "It would be prudent for you to consider the consequences before taking such drastic actions. A word of warning would have sufficed. Hoo hoot!"
Link hung his head in shame. He mumbled, "Sorry."
The owl bowed. "Apology accepted. Now then," he gestured with his wing, "you have a way forward to Zoras' Domain, but a word of advice," he turned back to Link and thrust his head forward, "To cross through the door that leads to Zora's Domain, you will first have to prove your connection to the Royal Family."
Navi spoke, "What if we were to play Zelda's Lullaby for them? Will that suffice as proof of our connection?"
The owl nodded eagerly. "Yes, precisely! That will do it! Hoo hoo hoot! You will do well, I believe. My confidence in your abilities is assured." He looked down to Link, who still had his head bowed, not daring to look him or the fairy in the eye. "Until the next time we meet, Link. Remember, you are Hyrule's final hope."
Link looked up suddenly at this, but the owl had already leaped into the air and was now flying back toward Hyrule Field. He glanced toward his fairy but then averted his gaze again, not wanting to face her wrath. He said before he started for the fallen tree, "Well, we can keep going now, so let's go, I guess."
That was a mistake. Navi's voice came out icy, "Did you consider what could have happened before you planted that bomb? Did you consider the danger that you put the owl in?"
Link cringed. "I - I guess not. I was kind of… mad at him, so I wanted to… I mean, I just thought… well…" He blinked back tears. "I promise I won't do it again."
His fairy didn't answer. Not for a long time. He didn't dare look up to see what she was doing. In fact, he felt as though he had something on his shoulders pulling him lower and lower to the ground.
Finally, she said, "This isn't a game, Link. You have been given a great responsibility. That doesn't mean you can do whatever you like without thought for the consequences. Think before you act. Look before you leap."
"Yes, Navi," Link said humbly.
"Very well then," she said, no longer sounding threatening. Link dared to raise his head. "Let's go."
Being careful not to make eye contact with his fairy, Link moved toward the fallen tree. The angle was fairly steep but after rolling it around a little bit, he was able to level it out enough to climb up it to the ledge. He was tempted to grumble about all that trouble for what was essentially one step upward but decided he didn't want to push Navi's patience. So instead he kept his mouth shut and continued upriver where the foliage grew denser and the path rockier. This made progress slow so it was unexpected when he heard someone grunting and puffing laboriously up ahead.
"I think we're close to Zora's Domain," he remarked as he vaulted over a log propped against a boulder. "I can hear someone."
They soon caught up with him though when they did, they stopped and stared. It was a short man with very short legs and a very protrusive belly who was making his way slowly up the river, rolling onto a ledge like a tired boulder. He was naked from the waist up, exposing skin that was very white like a worm, including the top of his head, which was bald. From the joint between his head and torso - for he didn't seem to have a neck - hung a leather satchel that bounced on top of his round belly.
Link whispered to Navi, "Who is that?"
She shook her head. "I don't know. I've never seen him before."
"Is he a Zora?"
His fairy shook her head again. "I don't think so."
As they whispered, the man flopped his head lazily toward them. When he spotted them, he brightened with a little cry of excitement and then rolled to his side and pushed himself into a seated position. He raised a hand in greeting. "Fellow travelers!" Then he heaved a mighty grunt as he ponderously got to his feet. When he was at last upright, he chuckled and said, "Not a journey for the weak-hearted, this path. Are you also headed for Zora's Domain?"
"Yeah, we're looking for a Spiritual Stone there," Link replied. Navi groaned into her hand.
"Spiritual Stone…" said the stout man as he undid the flap on his satchel. "Sounds valuable." He reached inside.
"I guess," said Link, who noticed Navi waving her hands in warning.
"I see," the man responded as he pulled his hand out of the satchel. Between his plump fingers, Link caught glimpses of green. The man suddenly shoved it into his mouth and began crunching noisily.
"How much," he mumbled around his snack, "would you say this 'Spiritual Stone' is worth?" He chomped for a few moments and then swallowed.
Navi shook her head frantically though Link was now suspicious about the pudgy man's interest and decided he'd better not give him any more information - which was what his fairy had been trying to tell him, he realized. He shrugged and said, "Well, uh… I think… maybe twenty Rupees? I mean that's what the Bazaar man told me. He… he wanted me to get it for him… to, uh, go with his rock collection… yeah."
The man raised his brow. "Is that so?" He shoved another handful of the green stuff from his satchel and crunched on it while giving Link a suspicious look. The boy looked away nervously, turning to his companion for help. She changed the topic, "So why are you going to Zora's Domain?"
The man swallowed and answered, "I'm a peddler. I'm trying to get to Zora's Domain to sell my beans, see?" He reached into his satchel and then held out his hand to show it full of bean pods. Then he shoved them into his mouth and chewed. Link stared at him bemusedly.
The peddler swallowed. "Hey, if we're both going to Zora's Domain, why don't we travel together? We might both... profit… from each other." He let out a strange cough that almost sounded like a chuckle before he shoved more beans into his mouth.
"I don't suppose it could hurt…" said Navi warily. She glanced at Link who raised his hands, showing that he wasn't going to make the decision.
"Fine!" said the bean seller enthusiastically, spraying bits of chewed beans. "I could use the company." He swallowed and pulled out another handful. He paused as though something had occurred to him. "By the way, would you be interested in buying my beans? Only ten Rupees."
Link shook his head. "Er, no thanks."
"Suit yourself," said the seller and popped the beans into his mouth.
They started up the river together. Link didn't feel comfortable traveling with this strange peddler, which had little to do with the fact that he moved very slowly on his stubby legs or that he huffed louder and louder with each step. There was something suspicious about the portly, little man - the way his eyes gleamed every time he glanced up the river toward Zora's Domain and his mumbling about money and riches. Navi seemed to feel the same way since she continually glanced at him as though making sure he wasn't about to rob them.
The path rose dramatically above the river, leaving it rushing far below. The steepness was becoming punishing for Link. It must have been absolutely cruel toward the peddler, and Link expected him to announce that he was giving up and going home, but he was surprisingly stubborn. Though his belly was practically dragging against the ground, the man reached for every branch to pull himself up the steep incline, and if there wasn't a branch within reach he used the grass instead.
The path ended abruptly, butting up against a sheer wall. To the left was a roaring waterfall. A natural bridge close to it spanned the chasm to the other side, but just by looking at it, Link could tell it was dangerous. The spray from the waterfall made it slick, so one false step could send anyone crossing it down to the roiling pool below.
"Seems we're at an impasse!" yelled the bean seller after gulping the beans he was chewing. "Wouldn't fancy crossing that right there." He gestured with a fat finger.
"Might there be a safer path that will lead us up?" Navi asked, drifting along the wall away from the river.
"My dear, we're standing at the very threshold into Zora's Domain!" said the peddler with an emphatic jab at the waterfall. "However, these falls are so fierce, we won't pass through without the current whisking us all the way down to Lake Hylia… dashing us to pieces on the way!"
Link frowned thoughtfully. "You mean Zora's Domain is through this waterfall?"
The peddler shoved a handful of beans into his mouth, so his next words were muffled and barely heard above the rushing water, "There's a sharp boy, right there. Knows his business all right. Together we'll have this puzzle solved before you can clap your hands." He swallowed and then spoke directly to Link, "It's a bit of a dilemma, all right, but fortunately for us I have magic beans that can take us through."
"Magic beans?" Link asked curiously. Navi added with some suspicion, "What sort of magic do these beans have?"
The bean seller gave a little hop that shook his belly and clapped his hands together, chuckling delightedly, "Why, the sort of magic that makes them grow very big very fast! But if you want one, I'm afraid I'll have to charge you twenty Rupees for it."
Link and Navi turned to him in surprise. Then Navi spoke, "Wait, I seem to recall that you asked for ten Rupees in your previous offer."
"Did I?" said the seller with an air of puzzlement that seemed a little too forced. "I don't recall it. But it seems my magic beans are the only way through this waterfall into Zora's Domain, and I can't just simply give you such valuable beans. What I ask for is mere pittance - twenty Rupees."
"But you need to get into Zora's Domain as well, don't you?" Navi asked.
The salesman adopted a patronizing expression. "I am a businessman, and I weigh things by value. Is it worth wasting such valuable legumes when I can find more profitable locations? I could always find other places to sell. But I'm a generous man. If you need my wares then I'll give it to you… for the right price, of course."
"But twenty Rupees for a little bean!" Navi cried in disbelief.
Link decided to chip in. "Did you say that's the threshold to Zora's Domain?" He pointed to the waterfall. "Isn't a threshold just a doorway?"
The peddler threw his hands into the air excitedly. "Now, this boy knows what he's talking about! He understands what needs to be done here!"
The boy continued, "The owl said we need to play a song to open the door to Zora's Domain. Is this the door he meant?"
The bean seller's grin disappeared faster than Link could blink. But half a moment later, he bustled to the Kokiri's side, wrapped an arm around him and said, "You say an owl told you this? My friend, do you realize how silly that sounds? An owl? And he told you to play a song? How does that stop the flow of a waterfall, I ask you? Obviously, someone is trying to make a fool of you, and you're no fool. I knew that the moment I laid eyes on you."
"If you say so," Link said, looking helplessly to his fairy. She obliged him if only because the bean seller was rankling her, "The only one trying to make a fool of him is you! We're not interested in what you have to sell, and with or without your help we will find a way to Zora's Domain. Now if you would be so kind as to leave us alone so that we may continue…"
"Oh dear, dear," said the seller, fretfully shoving beans into his mouth and chomping them. "I didn't mean to offend you, not at all! Please just give me a chance to show you just how useful my beans are. Here." He pulled out a bean and held it up between his fat fingers. "Follow me and I'll show you." He started down the river. Admittedly curious, Link followed.
His fairy called after him, "Never mind him, Link. We'll find our way to Zora's Domain without him. Where are you going?"
"I'll be right there in a little while," Link answered without turning around. Navi heaved a sigh of disgust and followed after them. A short distance later, the bean seller stooped to inspect the ground. He nodded, dug a small hole in the moist soil and then dropped the bean in. Then he scooped the dirt back into the hole and patted it down. After that, he leaned close to it again as though he could see it growing in the soil.
For a moment, nothing happened. Link intensely watched the spot where the peddler's bulbous nose nearly touched it. Just when he was starting to feel foolish, something moved beneath the peddler's nose. He dropped to his knees and leaned closer, a gasp of astonishment leaving his mouth. A tiny sprout was waving its way out of the ground like a little green worm testing the air. Then two buds blossomed on its body, growing and unfolding until they became two tiny leaves.
The peddler suddenly sprang backwards as though he had been blasted off his feet, and he cried, "Get back, kid!"
Link obeyed and not a moment too soon. The sprout exploded into two vines that spiraled upward, quickly growing larger until they were as thick as Link's torso. They ripped off the branches of the neighboring trees with violent cracks, showering the band with pine needles. When they stopped growing, they towered over the trees that sat higher up the incline.
"Whoa!" Link cried excitedly, peering up at the top of the stalk.
"Just blows your mind, doesn't it?" said the salesman with a wide grin as he scuttled around to the boy's side. "Now that you've seen what they can do, how about buying one? Just thirty Rupees."
Link spun to him. "Hold on. You said twenty last time!"
"Don't forget, his initial asking price was ten," Navi told him, her voice heavy with disapproval.
"But you must agree that these beans are worth it!" exclaimed the peddler, shoving the lumpy green pod into his face. "You saw what it can do!"
Link put some distance between him and the agitated seller. He said, "I'll tell you what: I'll go see if playing the princess's lullaby will help us get past the waterfall. If it doesn't then I'll buy a bean."
The seller nearly dropped his bean. "A lullaby? What, you think a lullaby will put the waterfall to sleep? Stop it so that we can cross? It's… it's…" he waved his arms feverishly, "it's absurd! A lullaby! On waterfalls…" He popped the bean into his mouth. Then he dug into his satchel for more beans and stuffed them into his mouth until his cheeks bulged and dribble ran down his chin.
Link started back toward the waterfall. Though he didn't show it, the peddler had gotten to him and he was second-guessing himself. He hadn't considered that the owl might be wrong about playing a song to get into Zora's Domain. But now that he thought about it, it did seem a little ridiculous. Would the song even carry above the roar of the river?
He stopped before the wall beside the waterfall, the cool spray settling over him and quickly soaking him. His fairy and the peddler came up behind him, with the paunchy man mumbling, "A lullaby… on a waterfall… rock-a-bye waterfall, hah… put it to sleep…" Link was now feeling incredibly foolish but he pulled out his ocarina anyway and put it to his lips.
At the ocarina's appearance, the seller gave an excited hop and cried, "My, what a beautiful instrument you have there! Such craftsmanship! May I have a closer look?" He lunged for it, but Link stretched it out of reach above his head and cried, "Hey! Careful! Saria made this for me and I don't want you dropping it!"
"I beg your pardon," chuckled the man, "I just couldn't help myself since it's such a beautiful instrument, and did you say your friend made this for you? My, she certainly has skill, doesn't she? And if you wouldn't mind allowing me to make sure…" He lunged again.
Navi leaped into the air, flashing angrily. "Enough, you fool! We don't have time for your nonsense! Either you help us get into Zora's Domain or leave us alone so that we may do it ourselves!"
The man was stunned silent for a moment. Then he turned to Link with a congenial grin and murmured to him, "Quite a temper she's got, eh, friend? How did you happen to get stuck with this sourpuss?"
Link answered him coldly, "The Great Deku Tree gave her to me, and she is the best friend I've ever had. If you say anything else against her, I'm going to toss you right into that river!"
This time the man was stunned silent for quite a while. Link didn't wait for him to recover. He was too irritated with the peddler to feel foolish this time as he put the ocarina to his lips and began to play. But soon his irritation melted away as the soothing notes washed over him, bathing him in calm. He began to remember the times back in Kokiri Village when he and Saria would sit on the roof and watch the soft blue glow of twilight color the leaves with a heavenly hue. These were some of his more favorite times with Saria when she wasn't so mischievous and energetic.
The song gradually faded. Link looked up to find his fairy hovering in front of him.
"Link," she said in a soft voice. "Look. The waterfall."
It had grown noticeably quieter. It hadn't completely stopped, but he could see a shadowy opening behind the rippling curtain of water.
Behind him, the bean seller gaped at the boy's ocarina. "A magic instrument," he breathed. A spark of greed lit in his eyes.
"That's quite an instrument you have there," he said out loud, his salesman instincts kicking in. "A mighty fine piece of hardware. I'd be more than willing to take that off your hands…"
Link shoved it protectively into his pack and he snarled at the peddler, "You're not getting this ocarina."
"Ten magic beans!" the portly man burst out. "Think of everything you could do with them! It's almost like having ten free wishes!"
Navi huffed at him in disgust. Then she turned to her Kokiri and said, "Let's not waste any more time with him. The way is open. Let's go."
Link started across the bridge. He hunched down and moved his feet slowly, trying to find purchase on the slick rock. Eventually he reached the center where he could face the opening directly. He would need to jump to it but it wasn't that far.
"Careful, Link," Navi urged him.
He took a few steps back. Then he ran forward and leaped through the waterfall, gasping momentarily at the sensation. A moment later, his fairy came behind him and she was drenched, her hair plastered to her head. Link made the mistake of glancing at her, and a snort burst from him. He quickly tried to stifle it by hunching over. She gave him a dirty look as she wrung out her hair and clothing. When she was done and he was still snickering, she asked him, "Are you finished?"
"S-s-sorry," Link forced out between his attempts to hold back snorts.
She snapped, "Well, as soon as you're ready to be serious then let us contin…" She stopped abruptly and whipped her head around. Then she screamed, "Link! Watch out!"
Link looked up just as an enormous vine burst through the waterfall and shot directly for his face.