Link twisted and started to crouch, but the vine slammed him onto the ground, knocking the wind very forcefully from him. It was as if the air in his lungs had been replaced with solid rock. But he didn't have time to even cry in pain for another vine slapped him across the rock, sending him tumbling with a noisy clatter. When he finally came to a stop, he was bumped, bruised and thoroughly dizzy. The world tilted underneath him where he lay.
Navi's blue glow flashed in his dazed vision and she cried to him, "Are you all right, Link?"
He tried to say, "I think so," but it came out as a cough. So he twitched his arm instead.
"You nearly killed him!"
In bewilderment, he wondered if he had somehow hurt the owl again. But after blinking a few times, he realized Navi wasn't looking at him. She was facing the bean seller who was crossing over the beanstalk that had grown through the waterfall.
"I did?" The seller's eyes lit up strangely. Then he stammered, "I mean, I thought you had gone on ahead. I didn't know you were in the way. But it looks like you're all right so no harm done." He hopped off the beanstalk with an "Oof!" Then he walked over to Link and offered a hand to him.
"Hmph!" Link turned away from him, pushing himself onto his feet on his own.
"No permanent damage then!" remarked the peddler cheerfully. "Excellent! Let us continue on to Zora's Domain!" He jabbed his fat finger into the air and then shouldered past the boy, causing him to stagger. When he recovered, he growled, "I'm going to get him."
"Never mind him, Link," Navi said though she was also glaring at the peddler. She beckoned to her Kokiri. "Come on."
They had leaped into a tunnel made of limestone. The smell of moisture was heavy and the walls glistened wetly as they traveled through it. It gradually widened before it suddenly opened up, bringing the trio to a stop.
"Whoa…" Link breathed.
"My fortune is assured…" murmured the bean seller.
It looked as though they had entered a palace where water was the theme. The entire area was covered in it though pathways were visible just under the surface, leading to entrances in the walls on the far ends to the left and the right of the chamber. Blue-gray columns flanked a pathway that cut through the center of the chamber before climbing into steps that led to the top of the back wall. Around the rest of the wall ran ribbon-like streams of water that burbled onto the floor. Adding to the grandeur was the light playing on all of it, causing mesmerizing rippling effects all around the chamber. The people who inhabited it were just as grand - wearing colors of pale blue and long trains on either their arms or their heads though curiously it was never both. They carried themselves with poise but also seemed quite lively, almost as though they were in a hurry.
"Wow." Link locked his eyes on one of them, who suddenly dived into the water. "Are those Zoras?"
"Proud aquatic people," said the bean seller, his body shaking with excitement. "Refined… resplendent in pearls, gold, jewels…" He looked like he was going to be sick. He turned suddenly to Link and told him, "If you don't mind, I'm going to scout this place for potential spots to set up shop." He grabbed his arm, brought him in close, and whispered into his ear, "It was a pleasure knowing you, my friend. Let's hope we meet again." With a broad grin, the bean seller gave his arm a shake and then bounded off along a path leading to a hallway on the far end of the chamber.
Navi flashed him a contemptuous look before turning to Link and saying, "King Zora should be here somewhere. Let's find him."
The most obvious path was straight ahead and up the steps, so that's where they went. As they approached, the Zoras scattered, diving into the water and zooming away. Link watched them go, feeling a little self-conscious. Had he scared them off?
They climbed the steps, which led up to a second level. This time, the entire floor was visible under the water. There were also more hallways that he could see around the chamber, but taking the pathway that ran straight ahead, which was flanked by more blue-gray pillars, he eventually reached a short dais. Beyond it was a grand sweeping staircase leading up to a throne that appeared to have been carved into the wall. Water trickled from the base of the throne and down the stairs. It trickled because an enormous figure sat on the throne, leaving just enough room for the water to filter on either side of his legs.
Link's first impression was that of a soggy frog. The figure sitting on the throne was very large and very squat. His pale blue skin glistened with moisture. His eyes were wide set and protruding. His mouth stretched from ear to ear - though he didn't seem to actually have ears - and was turned down in a woebegone expression. His arms and legs were by contrast strands of grass draped against a boulder. Other details that were barely noticeable on this corpulent figure were the red cape draped over his shoulders and the small, golden object with a large, red jewel in the center that pointed to the sky like an arrow on top of his head. It was these that made Link realize that this strange creature must be the King of the Zoras.
The King of the Zoras though did not appear very kingly at the moment. His protuberant eyes were turned to the sky, and his mouth moved with moaning. He had two Zora attendants on either side of him, patting his hands and murmuring comforting words. They were clearly female for, unlike their king, they were less froglike and more humanoid. Long white fins draped from their arms like the trains of a gown, adding to their regal-like appearance.
Link leaned toward Navi and whispered, "What's wrong with him?"
This alerted the Zora attendants. One turned sharply to him and snapped, "What are you doing here? Do you wish to have an audience with King Zora?"
"Well actually," Navi responded, "yes, we do."
She turned back to her king and began patting his hand again. "He cannot see anyone today. He is most upset and is in no state to address anyone today, especially children."
Link bristled at the remark but his fairy shot him a warning look. So he swallowed the retort that he had ready and instead asked. "What's wrong with him?"
In response, King Zora dropped his head into his webbed hands and moaned, "Oh, where could she be, my dear daughter, Princess Ruto? Oh, I pray she is safe!"
"His daughter is missing," explained the other Zora in a softer voice, sounding much friendlier. "She has run away before, but she's never been gone this long. She is a bit stubborn, but her father loves her all the same. And now that she is missing… well, you can see for yourself." She turned back to the king.
Link spoke, "Well… I came to ask him if he can give me the Spiritual Stone that you have… Princess Zelda sent me. I have proof." He started to reach into his pack for his ocarina.
"Did you not hear me?" snapped the first attendant. "He is not seeing anyone today!"
"But I need to talk to him!" Link shouted as he continued rummaging through his pack. "I need to ask him where the Spiritual Stone is! I need to bring it back to Princess Zelda before this evil man named Ganondorf takes over the world!"
The Zora woman turned purple with fury. "How dare you speak to me in that way?! Leave now or I'll have the guards throw you out! Leave!" She jabbed her finger at him, the train on her arm flapping.
With a huff of frustration, Link threw down his pack, abruptly turned and hopped off the platform. Navi followed him as he stormed off. When they were out of earshot, he muttered grumpily, "Ugly, old fish… she won't even let me talk to him… just because I'm a kid… How am I supposed to get the Spiritual Stone if I can't talk to the king?"
"It seems to me that he's too upset to speak to anyone anyway," Navi replied. "Too worried about his missing daughter. Perhaps what we should do is look for her."
"Look for her?" he protested as he descended the steps to the first level of Zora's Domain. "I don't even know what she looks like! How am I supposed to look for her?"
"You can talk to the residents here," his fairy answered matter-of-factly. Then her face turned ugly. "Oh no."
A moment later, Link found out what it was. The bean seller puffed up to him, his mouth full of beans. "My friend, I've explored every inch of this place…" he swallowed, "but every time I get close to someone to sell my beans to…" he paused for another swallow, "he ups and vanishes. A fine how-do-you-do for an entrepreneur like myself."
"You can try talking to the king," Link suggested sourly, jabbing his finger up the stairs.
After a hasty gulp, the bean seller replied, "Not a bad idea, but first I'd like to ask a favor from you."
Link growled and asked, "What?"
The peddler suddenly became giddy, chuckling and bouncing on his feet. "I think I spotted some silver pieces under the water. Let me show you." And, after shoveling another handful of beans into his mouth, he bounded off, pausing to beckon Link. The boy glanced up at his fairy, who raised her head, closed her eyes, and let out a long sigh through her nose. He heaved a sigh of his own and followed after the peddler. They soon reached the spot where the peddler jabbed his finger excitedly at the water. "Do you see that, my friend? That shine? That is the glitter of silver, you prove me wrong."
Link and Navi squinted into the wavering water. There was an unmistakable flash of silver beneath the glitter riding upon the surface - an almost unearthly light.
"Something does appear to be down there," Navi conceded. She turned to the bean seller. "But why did you want to show us?"
He swallowed. "I would appreciate it if you could dive down there and collect them for me." He stuffed his mouth again and chewed noisily.
Link grumbled, "Why can't you just do it yourself?"
The seller chuckled, bits of bean dropping from his mouth, and spread out his arms. "I would, but I'm not exactly built for swimming."
Link saw his point. It wasn't unreasonable for him to ask for his help in this case, he reluctantly admitted. Still he hesitated.
Navi intervened, "Sir, we have other problems to worry about, and we don't have time to aid you in your every pursuit. At this moment, we need to find the king's daughter, so if you'll excuse us…"
The seller said hastily, "Tell you what, if you gather that silver down there for me, I'll let you keep some. That way we both profit. What do you say?"
"How much?" Link asked.
The bean seller grimaced. "Forty percent."
"I think it should be at least fifty since I'll be doing the work."
"Tell you what, I'll sweeten the deal and throw in a magic bean. What do you say?"
This gave Link pause for thought. He had seen what the beans could do. Something like that could come in handy someday.
He must have taken too long to consider for the bean seller was wringing his hands. "Two magic beans! And that's my final offer!"
"Hmph!" said Navi. "We were not joking when we said we didn't time for you…" Then Link interrupted, "All right, we'll get those silver things down there, for fifty percent…"
"Forty!" corrected the peddler. "You're getting two magic beans in addition."
Link sighed. "Fine. Forty percent plus the two magic beans."
The peddler seized his hand and pumped it as though he might start pumping money from his mouth. "Done!"
Link grunted in response. When the peddler released his hand, he shouldered off his pack and then removed his sword and shield, cap, and boots.
"Link!" Navi protested. "We really must invest our time into obtaining that Spiritual Stone…"
"Watch my stuff, will you, Navi?" Link interrupted. He jerked his head at the bean seller. "I don't trust him."
The portly seller put on a wounded face. "You cut me to the quick, friend." Navi stammered in protest but then finally conceded, "Very well. But don't take any more time than you need to."
Link dived into the water. There was a brief shock of cold but it was quickly gone. It wasn't as bad as he had expected. There was a rejuvenating crispness to it. He stroked into the water, pushing himself down to the bottom where the silver pieces glinted at him. The water was fighting to push him back up, so he swiped at the sand to scoop up the pieces. As he pushed down again to grab the other pieces, he noted to himself how strange the silver felt. Its edges were sharp and had almost no weight at all in his hand - not at all like coins. Stranger still was the sudden rush he felt running through him. He realized that he was no longer struggling to stay under. In fact, he felt weightless!
Is it this silver? He wondered, opening his hand. They shone so brightly it seemed they were actually casting light. He tilted it away from him and the sheen dulled - but only a little.
I've got to show Navi this! He thought excitedly. It was worth it to help that bean seller… Then his excitement deflated. If that seller found out what this silver could do, he was going to find a way to take it from him for sure.
I'll just hide some of it, he decided in a stroke of inspiration. But where? If he had worn his boots he could have hidden them in those. He didn't dare stuff them into his tunic. His right hand? No, he would need to use it and it was too risky anyway. Then it hit him.
Navi and the bean seller watched Link swimming under the water. While she was curious to see how her Kokiri was doing, she was also keeping a diligent eye on the peddler to make certain he wouldn't try anything. He, however, was focused intently on Link and the glint of silver. The water distorted the view so he couldn't tell if the boy was grabbing them or not.
It took longer than they expected but eventually Link came to the surface. He pulled himself over, snorting water from his nostrils.
"Did you get them?" the peddler asked eagerly.
Link grunted and nodded.
"Let's have a look then." The peddler took his hand and then scooped out the silver, dropping the boy back on the ground, who grunted in pain. He started to count.
"Wait one moment." The bean seller frowned as he held up one of the pieces to his eye. "This isn't silver. This is a scale. A fish scale!" He turned it over, studying both sides.
"But such an intense glow! I've never seen anything like it before. Perhaps it's magic! And if that's the case, it's sure to be worth a fortune!" He clenched his fist over it and then began quickly waddling away.
"Hold it!" Navi cried after she had helped her Kokiri to his feet. She darted in front of the seller. "We had an agreement, remember?"
The seller staggered backwards in surprise. He said, "Ah, yes. Twenty percent, right?"
"Forty percent," Navi corrected with a growl, "and two magic beans."
"Of course, of course. You're right, it was forty percent. My memory fails me sometimes," the peddler murmured. He dug into the satchel at his neck and pulled out the green pods. "Two magic beans and forty percent of the silver." He dropped them into Link's hand as the boy came up. Then he said, "Well, it's been a pleasure doing business with you, but I must be going now. The market doesn't seem too profitable here at the moment. Until we meet again." He flashed the two of them a grin, performed a quick bow that hit his belly against the ground, and then scurried away.
Navi scoffed and muttered, "Good riddance." She turned to Link. "Are you ready to look for the princess now?"
Link spit something into his hand and then wiped his mouth on his sleeve. Navi drifted closer out of curiosity. Then she exclaimed, "What? You were hiding those in your mouth?"
"I thought he might try to steal them from me. I just wanted to make sure he didn't steal them all," Link answered. He smacked his lips and made a face. "They tasted like fish though."
"They are fish scales then," his fairy said disparagingly. "We wasted our time on nothing but bits of dead animal skin."
"Actually, no we didn't." Link fanned them in his hand and held them up to the light. "I think they're magical. See, when I swiped them from the bottom, all of the sudden I felt like a fish - like I could swim and hold my breath better!"
Navi's expression turned to surprise. "That's… curious. If that's true, I wonder where they came from?" She glanced around the room as though she might find someone who could tell her.
"That's not all," said Link excitedly while placing the scales between his fingers. "There's a lot of tunnels down there, it's like an underwater castle! You ought to see it! Also, I saw this cool-looking tunnel. It looked old and forgotten; it had a bunch of seaweed in it."
"Could that be where the princess went?" his fairy mused, biting her lip. Link suddenly looked nervous. He said, "Probably not; I mean, it doesn't look like anybody's used it in a long time."
Which only made her want to take a look herself. The only problem was she couldn't swim very well herself and the silver scales were almost as big as she was. She suggested that she and Link hold on to the scales at the same time, but her Kokiri didn't want to risk it. It was too easy for her to lose her grip on it while he swam. Eventually, they decided that she would use the bottle that they had received from the cuccoo lady. Navi lowered herself inside with a little trepidation. "Don't forget that I'm in here. Keep the bottle in your hand while you're swimming."
"All right, I'll remember," Link assured her while rolling his eyes. He stuck the cork in the mouth of the bottle and held it up to his eyes. His fairy was pressed against the glass, looking down at the water. He thought she looked somewhat helpless in there, trapped in a bottle. She caught his eye and jabbed her finger down into the water.
"Whatever you say," Link said. He took a running jump and splashed into the water with his legs tucked under him. Making sure his fist was clenched tightly around the bottle and the silver scale, he swam down to the bottom of the pool.
Navi was having second thoughts about being in the glass bottle. Yes, the cork prevented the water from seeping through, but in Link's hand the view was disorienting. His strokes caused the scene through the glass to oscillate. She would barely get a glimpse before it rushed past. Then the bottle would come to a gut-churning halt and then the scene would rush back the other way. Back and forth, back and forth. Her stomach wasn't taking this very well.
She was on the verge of throwing up when Link finally reached the tunnel. He held up the bottle so she could see into it.
As Link had said, it looked old. The outside was covered in gray, crusty barnacles. The inside was thick with seaweed growing into the tunnel. Fish bones could be seen tangled in the weeds. It was also only slightly larger than Link, which Navi now realized must have been the reason for her Kokiri's reluctance to investigate it. Regardless, it was worth a look. She rapped on the glass to get Link's attention and then pointed into the tunnel.
She wanted him to go in, Link could see. Why did it always have to be small tunnels? He didn't sigh, not wanting to fill his lungs up with water, but he rolled his eyes to compensate and then peeked in cautiously. Remembering Navi in his left hand, he shrugged his arm through and thrust the bottle inside.
Suddenly, his cap flew off his head and tumbled into the tunnel. He snatched at it but missed. Then he twisted in panic as he felt a tug pulling him deeper inside. He tried to push against the floor but he was too late - the current was too strong. He was swept inside.
He picked up speed as the current carried him further into the tunnel. By now it was dark and Link couldn't see a thing. He tightened his grip on both the bottle in his left hand and the scales in his right. There was sharp pain in his right hand but he was too terrified to really notice. He didn't want to take the chance of losing the only things that were helping him hold his breath. He wasn't sure how long he was going to be in this tunnel… or if he was ever going to get out.
Navi had tried to prevent this. When she had seen Link's cap whisked away into the tunnel, she knew instantly that there was a powerful current that would suck them in, and she had begun beating on the glass and yelling, "Go back, Link! Go back!" but it was now too late. Now they were rushing through the darkness to some unknown destination.
Then it got worse. Without warning, there was a loud, glass clunk and the fairy was thrown violently against the floor. Then with another clunk she felt the bottle turn over on its end, throwing her upward. Then another clunk - and another!
Amidst the cacophony of clunks and the confusion of being tossed around, Navi realized what had happened. Link must have let go of the bottle and now it was bouncing around inside the tunnel, being bashed against the hard, rock walls! She feared that each clunk was going to be the last before the water exploded all around her and she drowned.