"Link! I know you're in here!"
A ball of light bobbed into the room, chasing the shadows into the corners. At the back of the room was a bed upon which lay a bundle of blankets that shifted slightly at the presence of the soft blue light.
"Get up, Link!" A figure came into the room and over to the bed with forceful strides. "You're not going to mope around in here all day, so come on! Get up!"
"Leave me alone," moaned a voice from the blankets.
The figure standing above him drew in a breath through her nose before she said, "All right, you leave me with no choice!" With that, she grabbed the blankets and ripped them off the bed. The boy, Link, fell to the floor with a thump. He didn't cry out in pain like he normally might have but instead whimpered, "Please, Saria, just leave me alone. I don't want to get up today."
"If this is about what happened yesterday," said Saria, "I'm all better now. See?" She waved her hand in front of his face.
Link looked up miserably into his friend's face. He said slowly, "But, Mido said…"
Saria cut him off, "Whatever he said, you shouldn't worry about it. He's mostly full of Deku nuts anyways. Now come on, we're going to practice some more."
Link rolled away, turning his back on her. "I can't, Saria. After what happened yesterday, I don't want to even hold a stick anymore."
Saria glanced up at Anai. Anai shrugged and told her, "He seems pretty determined about it. And he's almost as stubborn as you are when he wants to be."
"Almost…" said Saria with emphasis. She turned back to Link with a look in her eye that glinted like steel. She would find a way to get Link outside.
Suddenly she realized how foolish this was. Her fairy was right: he was stubborn when he wanted to be, and using intimidation on him was not going to solve the problem. She let out a sigh and said, "Fine. We won't practice swordplay. We'll just do something else instead... whatever you want. Just don't ignore me, okay? I don't want to spend the day without you."
Link tipped his head slightly in her direction but otherwise didn't move. That's when Saria suggested, "Tell you what: we'll go fishing today. What do you say?"
A short while later they sat together at the fishing hole just outside the perimeter of Kokiri Village, their lines in the water. Saria studied her friend as she bobbed her pole. Link held his pole but made no effort to move it to entice the fish to bite. Instead, he stared into the water where his reflection stared blankly back.
Saria sighed. "Look, Link, it was my fault, not yours. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to make you mad. I just wanted you to try harder to be better than Mido, that's all."
For a while, Link didn't say anything or even move. Then he moved his head up slightly and said softly, "I didn't want to get mad at you… I couldn't stand to be mad at you, but then I was… and I hurt you, and it just…"
"It was an accident, Link," Saria said firmly. "And I didn't get hurt all that badly. Just a bruise."
Anai shrugged and inserted, "It's what she gets for making you mad."
"But that's just it!" Link exploded. "That wasn't the first time I got angry! I'm always angry! Everything makes me angry! Mido makes me angry when he teases me and pushes me around. Niko makes me angry when he looks down on me. Everyone else makes me angry for being too scared of Mido to be friends with me. The Great Deku Tree makes me angry for not giving me a fairy so that I can be like everyone else! It all makes me angry! I try not to be, but I just am!" He clenched his fists and squeezed his eyes shut. A tear zigzagged its way down his cheek.
"You're the only one who's really been a friend to me. I couldn't stand the thought of being angry with you. Because if I lose you then what do I have left?"
Saria placed a hand on his shoulder, prompting him to look at her. She said, "Everybody gets mad sometimes, Link. It's nothing to be ashamed of. And don't worry, I'm not going to leave you if you throw a tantrum every now and then. Because no matter how bad you might get, everything else about you is worth it. Anybody who has you for a friend should count themselves lucky! You're brave, kind, smart, dependable… just the kind of person someone could count on if she was in trouble."
Link's eyes were swimming with tears again. He wiped them and sniffed. "You really think so?"
Saria smiled. "Absolutely. See, even Anai agrees." She glanced up at her fairy.
Anai shrugged noncommittally. "Sure, he's not too bad to hang out with. I mean, I can think of worse people to be stuck with."
Saria laughed, which prompted Link to smile in spite of himself. Then Saria turned back to her fishing pole, bobbing it experimentally. She turned to Link and said, "Getting anything on yours? I think I felt a nibble once…"
"Run, Link!" Navi screamed.
The giant octorok used its stubby legs to twist itself around to face Link, snuffling wetly. Link turned and ran, but as he did so he pulled up his pack and began rummaging through it.
Navi told him, "We should escape through the door. The octorok's too big to fit through it."
"But I can't just leave Princess Ruto behind!" Link protested, pulling out his slingshot. "She might be inside the thing and I have to get her out!" After fitting a pellet into the sling, he turned around and stretched it back only to find that the octorok had vanished.
"What - "
"Behind you, Link!"
He spun around and fired. The pellet whistled above the fleshy creature's head, striking the wall and causing it to shudder. With the giant octorok coming at him too quickly, Link retreated while fitting another pellet into the sling. Then he aimed quickly at one of the big octo's dull orange eyes and fired.
It gave a throaty grunt of pain and skidded to a stop, sending up a spray of slime that washed over Link. He reactively raised his arm to block it, sparing his eyes from harm. He shook the slime off his arm.
The giant octorok shook its lumpy jelly-like head, grunting angrily. Then it charged forward, its protuberant mouth slurping hungrily. Link retreated hastily, fitting another pellet into the sling. He pulled back the sling and aimed.
The octorok suddenly halted and took in a breath. With horror, Navi realized what was about to happen. She shot for her Kokiri. "Watch out!"
The creature spit out a rock almost the size of Link. He fired his weapon in surprise, the seed bursting upon impacting the rock, and stumbled backwards. Navi crashed into the side of his head, pushing him into the wall just before the rock flew past, rolling along the wall until it rolled to a stop halfway around. The fairy was sent spiraling through the air by the draft but she managed to regain control. Link bounced off the wall and plopped onto the ground. He rolled back onto his feet and backed away.
The force of the rock that the big octo had spit had sent it sliding backwards but it quickly propelled itself forward again before pausing to take aim a second time. Link pressed himself as close to the pillar as he dared and scooted away, avoiding the second rock that rolled along the wall until it cracked against the first.
"It's going to be a challenge getting close to that beast," Navi remarked. "Especially in such a confined space."
"We'll have to find a way," said Link determinedly. "We can't just leave Princess Ruto inside that thing!" He shot a glance back at the two rocks and hummed in concentration.
Navi looked at the rocks as well. "Do you have an idea?"
Link didn't answer. With the giant octorok slithering toward him, he dashed to the rocks, skidding a little in the slime. He slid behind the first rock and then pushed against it, sending it rolling toward the big octorok. The force wasn't significant. In fact, the big octo sent it rolling back to him when it rammed into it. He scrambled over the second rock and retreated before the other boulder crashed into it, rolling it a little.
The octorok came upon the boulder again and rammed into it. It cracked against the second rock and then smacked into the beast again, which caused it to grunt in surprise. The second boulder rolled slowly toward Link, who braced against it, bringing it to a stop. He studied the big octo curiously.
Navi said, "Perhaps this monster isn't as strong as it looks."
"Yeah, it can push one rock, but not two," said Link and he started rolling the boulder toward the big octo. The octo shook its head one last time, then, spotting Link, it grunted grumpily and then butted its head against the rock, sending it rolling toward the boy's own.
"Watch out, Link!"
The rocks collided, the force sending Link flying backwards and then splashing to the ground. He picked himself back up. "I guess that won't work."
"Have you any other ideas?"
Link pulled another seed from his satchel and fitted it into his slingshot. "Blind it." He ran forward. In response, the octorok charged to meet him. Link skidded to a halt just before the rock, quickly aimed for the beast's other eye, and fired.
It gave a deep-throated squawk and pitched forward onto its face. Link dodged out of the way when the rock it hit cracked into the second and sent it toward him. Then, seeing the giant octo thrashing around on the ground, trying to get back onto its stubby legs, he seized the opportunity by rushing toward it.
"Careful, Link," Navi cautioned him, "it could still crush you under its weight."
Her Kokiri paid little heed. He ran up to the giant octorok, raised his sword high, and then brought it down with a yell.
His sword bounced off its body, sending him staggering backwards with a cry of surprise. He exclaimed to his fairy, "That thing is tough! I can't cut through it!"
"What about that sword attack that Great Fairy granted you? Will that work?"
Link spread out his hands. "Most likely, but I might cut Princess Ruto in there too!"
The giant octorok startled the two of them when it suddenly bounced into the air and landed on its legs. It shook its head, squawking angrily. Then it charged forward, only to bounce against the rocks and slide backwards, grunting in confusion.
"Well," said Navi thoughtfully, "if you can't cut the princess out, is there some other way you could get her out? Make the octorok spit her out, perhaps?"
Link brightened and leaped into the air with a clap of his hands. "You're a genius, Navi! We've got to make that monster spit her out!"
"But how do you propose we do that?"
With a shake of its head, the octorok roared out in frustration, charged forward again, and crashed into the boulder, bouncing backwards.
The Kokiri boy was practically dancing with excitement. "The rocks! We push them as hard as we can at the octorok on both sides until it spits her up! It'll be like the time when Mido punched me in the stomach so hard that I threw up."
"That's…" Navi's face twisted in bemusement, "an interesting idea."
Taking that as her approval, Link got between the boulders and shoved them apart as hard as he could. Then he turned to the second boulder, which would have to travel farthest to the big octo's backside, and jogged with it as he pushed it faster and faster.
The big octorok must have heard him for it had turned around and was now coming at him. Link gave the boulder one last shove and then jogged backward out of the way. The boulder collided with the octorok, knocking it onto its back and sending it sliding backwards. Link braced against the boulder as it came toward him, slowing it down, and then pushed it toward the octorok again. This time when he came upon the fallen monster, he didn't let it go but continued rolling it hard. It rolled into the octorok's underside, causing it to let out a very loud "Oof!" It didn't appear to have spit anything out though; it just slid backwards.
"Perhaps we should try again," Navi suggested.
So Link rolled it back and then pushed it forward again as hard as he could until it crashed into the octorok, which let out another "Oof!" but still nothing came out.
Again and again he rammed the rock into the monster, which protested with wheezy grunts after each "Oof!" Then at last one final ram with the boulder caused it to spit up a fountain of slime. Something glinted in the fountain and plopped to the ground. It took him a few moments but he soon realized what it was.
"Ruto's boomerang!" he exclaimed and picked it out of the wash of slime. He shook it off.
"But no Ruto," said his fairy with a concerned frown.
"Maybe she got away before it could eat her," Link said hopefully, looking to the giant octorok, which looked deflated and snuffled only weakly. He decided to ram it with the boulder a few more times to make absolutely sure, but nothing other than slime came spewing out, which deflated the thing until it resembled a pile of lumpy blankets.
"We need to find her," said Link resolutely. Using the flat octorok to boost himself up, he clambered onto the platform where Ruto had disappeared. After a few moments, the platform ascended. The ceiling opened and they were pushed through.
A tunnel sloped upward toward a door of muscle. What looked like ugly weeds dotted the floor, but when Link stepped forward, his fairy rasped, "Stop! Not so hasty, Link! These are tailpasarans! Those electric worms I told you about!"
The first pair of thick, glistening plants rose out of the ground - and Link realized they weren't plants but mandibles! A small head wheeled in the air to face him, gnashing its jaws threateningly. Its body trailed behind it - segments of crackling yellow electricity that lit up the fleshy pink hallway.
The boy had to find a way past it and the rest of them still burrowed in the floor. With its body made of pure electricity, he couldn't use his sword to directly attack it. He had Princess Ruto's boomerang though, and according to what she had told him he just had to fling it and it would come back to him.
So he threw it at the tailpasaran. The boomerang chopped through the air, veering for the electric worm as it twisted its way toward him and bared its mandibles with a high screech. There was a flash and a crack as the boomerang severed the tailpasaran's head, and it fell to the ground with a plop, skidding to a stop at Link's feet, its mandibles flexing weakly. The boomerang bounced off the fleshy wall and curved toward the Kokiri, who suddenly realized how deadly the weapon could be. What if it cut his fingers off?
He didn't have time to deliberate, however. It was spinning toward him, aiming for his heart. It could easily pierce it, so by instinct he snatched at it before it could. There was a solid thunk and a sting to his fingers, and for a moment he thought it had cut through. But after giving it a glance, expecting blood to be falling through his fingers, he found that they were clean. He laughed in relief.
"Stay alert, Link," his fairy warned.
More tailpasarans emerged from the floor, gnashing their mandibles and screeching angrily. The Kokiri boy scoffed and threw the boomerang, cutting through them with ease. Those the boomerang missed he finished off with his slingshot. In no time at all, the path was clear, allowing him up to the door. With a poke, it opened and he stepped through into the largest chamber in Lord Jabu-Jabu's belly.
It was quite possibly the strangest sight Link had seen yet. Blue veins glowed beneath the red walls while yellow electricity sparked in random places. In the center of the room was what looked like a fleshy tree - its branches all inserted into the ceiling - that sparked and pulsed like a heart. Link was beginning to get a bad feeling about this when Navi suddenly exclaimed, "Look over there!"
He looked to where she pointed. Past the column was a deep blue light that illuminated a small figure huddled against the wall. He recognized her with joy.
"Princess Ruto!" he exclaimed.
She looked up at his voice. Her fearful expression suddenly became furious. She snapped, "It's about time you got here! What took you so long?" Though she sounded furious, she never came out of her cowered position.
"I was busy with that giant octorok!" Link defended himself. "I thought it had swallowed you so I tried to make it spit you out! But you weren't there!"
"Swallowed me?!" she screamed. "You waste your time with an octorok when you should have been looking for me? You're useless!"
"Now, Princess Ruto." Navi said in a consoling voice. "Be reasonable with him. Link is doing everything he can for you; you can afford to show a little gratitude. Besides, I thought you didn't want his help?" Her last sentence had a sly tone to it. Her Kokiri gave her a strange look.
Ruto blushed. "Well, I… wanted to make sure he didn't stick around here… because of Lord Jabu-Jabu! That's all!"
The fairy chuckled. Then she said, "Well then, come on. We'll take you home. What's wrong?"
The Zora princess cowered and shook her head. "No, I can't. Not with that thing right there!" She pointed at the tree-like thing.
"That…" Then Navi gasped. The bad feeling that Link felt when looking at the tree reached its peak. The sparking intensified and a strange, acrid smell wafted at them, leaving the taste of metal in their mouths.
Then the tree moved. The branches stuck through the ceiling wriggled out and swung down to point at Link. The ends, which had openings like straws, suddenly flared open, and, deep inside, a crackling yellow light began to glow.
"What are you doing, you fool?!" Princess Ruto shrieked. "It's going to kill you! Don't just stand there! Run!"
Link's fear was replaced with indignation. Who was she to call him a fool? What made her think she could boss him around? "Okay, first of all," Link said as he drew back his arm to throw the boomerang, "I'm not leaving here without you…" He hurled it at the parasitic tree, chopping off several of its limbs, which caused it to flail in pain. "And second of all, I'm not a fool or idiot." He caught the boomerang on its return and shot a glare at the princess. "Got that?"
"Escape from here. Return to your father," Navi advised her. "We'll handle this parasite."
"And get separated from you again? No!" She got abruptly to her feet and then stomped indignantly. "I am a princess and it is your duty to escort me safely!"
Link groaned but had not time to retaliate. The other limbs that had not been severed whipped toward Link, which stimulated him to begin to throw the boomerang. They didn't quite reach him, but he was literally shocked when bolts of electricity leaped from them and struck him. His body was suddenly rigid as his muscles tightened painfully, making his throw awkward. The boomerang spun toward the wall, bounced off, and skipped across the floor to the opposite end of the room while the boy who threw it tipped over like a wooden statue.
"Link!" Navi cried. Princess Ruto screamed too. Spotting the boomerang next to her foot, she snatched it up. Then she looked up at the parasite, which had its limbs pointed at the boy, preparing to blast him with a deadly charge of electricity. With a cry, she hurled her boomerang at it.
She cried in surprise when the chamber echoed with cracks, and bright flashes stunned her. She dropped to the ground to shield herself. Her boomerang plopped to the ground next to her and she pulled it under herself.
The parasite waved its few remaining limbs in agitation then thrust them into the ceiling. Link, who was getting the feeling back in his hands, stood up and watched as it used its skinny limbs to lift the entire trunk out of the ground with a sickening sucking sound. Its lower half appeared to be covered in two rows of blue tiles like the segments of a turtle's shell. Then he realized the blue tiles were actually giant biri!
Then it became worse. Lifting itself off the floor, six giant tentacles at its base slithered out of the floor and then across the floor. They looked like giant red worms that discharged sparks of electricity as they wriggled and twisted on the floor.
Feeling just a little intimidated, Link shrugged his wooden shield onto his right arm. He gave a dry swallow and then said, "Navi? How do I kill this thing?"
"My first advice," she told him weakly, "is to not let it touch you."
That was going to be made difficult since that was when the parasite started sweeping its tentacles around, turning itself into a stormy whirlwind, and it began drifting toward him. On top of that, the biri tiles detached from its body and swung out on strands of purple electricity. This thing had itself protected on all sides, top to bottom, and could kill him with a single touch. He had been scared before - Queen Gohma and King Dodongo had been terrifying to face - but what he faced now was impossible! The two other monsters at least had had weaknesses - Queen Gohma her enormous eye and King Dodongo his giant maw - but this… this he couldn't even get close or else he'd be ashes in the blink of an eye! And it was getting closer, with no way out.
In desperation, he looked down at his belt where hung his pouches. He seized a bomb from his bomb pouch, pinched off its stem, and then hurled it at the monster. The bomb hit one of the biri as it swung around, blasting it to pieces and scattering the pieces around. The blast seemed to have also knocked back the other biri, momentarily disrupting their rotation. The parasite itself didn't appear fazed however and continued spinning toward him. He pulled out another bomb.
The boomerang suddenly swooped in, cutting through the electric strands holding the biri to the parasite with deafening cracks and blinding flashes. The biri flew to the walls with loud slaps and then plopped to the ground, fizzing. Stunned by the flashes, Link staggered backwards. He lost track of the monster, not knowing how close it was to zapping the life out of him. He threw the bomb blindly, hoping to ward it off until he had his sight back.
The bomb exploded against the parasite's body. This sent it spinning off toward the wall, away from the dazed Kokiri. Its heavy tentacles at its base struck the biri, which were just starting to drift lazily off the floor, hitting them with such force that they splattered into goo before even hitting the wall again. The lone biri still swinging around its body by a strand of purple electricity slammed into the wall, which was followed by another crack and flash of light.
Princess Ruto had watched the entire thing - the result of her attack with her boomerang. She had hoped she could kill the thing but she had gotten the biri instead. But then Link had thrown something at it. It didn't seem to have killed it but it did faze it. Maybe now she could strike and put an end to it.
The boomerang whistled through the air toward the parasite and then swooped in. The parasite was only beginning to recover but the boomerang bounced right off its body and plopped to the ground. It wasn't strong enough to pierce it!
It began spinning toward the boy again. The boy shook his head. He spotted the boomerang and snatched it up. He raised his arm to throw it, but Ruto shouted to him, "It's no good! It doesn't go through!"
"Then what are we going to do?" Link shouted back, lowering his arm and backing away from the encroaching monster.
"You threw something at it and it stopped! What was it you threw?"
Link pulled out a bomb from his bomb bag and held it up for her to see.
"Throw it at that thing again! Maybe it'll kill it!"
So he pinched the stem off and tossed the bomb. The explosion sent the monster spinning away but it was soon spinning toward them again, looking none the worse for wear. Link and his fairy fled to where the princess was.
"That isn't going to work," Navi observed as they all retreated. "Not on its own, at least. But maybe we can expose a weakness…"
"My magic sword technique!" Link cried, his face lighting up. He turned to Navi and Ruto, who gave him startled looks. "It worked on the tentacle before! All I need is time to charge up my sword then I need to get close and unleash it!"
His fairy leaped into the air in alarm. "Link, that technique drained your strength last time. If you fail this, you're not likely to get another chance."
"But it's the best chance we've got," he told her resolutely. He pulled out his sword and then turned to the princess and commanded, "Ruto! Take this bag and use the bombs to stun it until I'm ready." He handed her the bag, ignoring her protests. "Just pull off the stems before you throw them."
"But what if they blow up while I'm still holding them?" she cried, pulling one out of the bag and looking at it as though it was the most frightening thing she had ever seen.
"They blow up after about three seconds," Link told her. "That's plenty of time to throw them. Now come on! We can't just keep running from this thing forever!" He swung out his sword and began concentrating on the energy in his chest.
Looking pale, the Zora princess pinched the stem between her fingers. She hesitated for a moment, then seeing the crackling parasite spinning their way she plucked the stem and then hurled the bomb.
The parasite veered out of the way to avoid the bomb, which exploded harmlessly before touching the ground. Though in doing so the parasite rammed into the wall and its spinning tentacles at its base flung it back toward the center of the room.
The princess pulled out another bomb. She yelled over her shoulder, "Ready?"
The boy grunted, "Not yet." His sword was beginning to glow.
The parasite was spinning toward them. Ruto threw the bomb, forcing it to veer out of the way. She circled around to face it, pulled out another bomb, and threw it. It spun in the other direction but Ruto was ready this time with another bomb that she threw. This one struck its target, sending it spinning back.
"Ready?" Ruto yelled again. This time she sounded confident - almost as though she was enjoying herself.
Ruto darted forward, wielding another bomb. Navi called to her, "Not too far, Princess! We'll need it to be close for Link's attack to work…" but she didn't seem to hear her as she threw the bomb and then stepped forward with another, forcing the parasite back.
"Ready!" Link yelled, his sword glowing brightly. "Lead it back here!"
The Zora princess glanced back at him, which was her first mistake. The parasite immediately began spinning toward her, its body becoming a literal stormy cyclone, shooting bolts of electricity in every direction. She screamed in surprise and ran toward Link but didn't make it very far before she slipped and fell forward.
"No!" screamed Navi.
The parasite was barreling on top of her. Link was too far away to strike. He would never reach her in time, so he did the only thing he could do. With a yell, he hurled his sword at the parasite as hard as he could.
The chamber lit up in a blaze of red as the sword spun through the air. It cleaved clean through the parasite's body in a burst of sound and light. The top half of the monster tumbled across the ground toward the far wall while the lower half tipped with a crash, skidding to a stop just before touching Princess Ruto. Slime oozed from its stumpy end. With a screech, she shuffled away from it.
Navi zoomed to her. "Are you all right, Princess? Are you hurt at all?"
The princess didn't answer her. She gaped in horror and disgust at the fallen monster, its tentacles draped over its body like dead giant worms. The porous end of its stump oozed slime and tiny bubbles.
The fairy spoke gently, "You've shown great courage today, Princess. When your father hears what you and Link have done, he'll be very proud. Of that I'm certain."
"I… I suppose he will," the princess finally said dazedly. She turned to Navi. Then she frowned and shifted her eyes to a spot next to the fairy. "But… where is Link?"
"Link! Oh dear." They both turned to the boy who was lying facedown. They rushed to his side. "Link! Are you all right?" Ruto lifted his head off the ground.
His eyes fluttered open. He smiled weakly, "Did we beat him?"
Ruto looked up at the fairy, an expression of alarm on her face. "What's wrong with him?"
"He channeled a lot of his own energy into that sword, and it's weakened him. However, he should be all right after a good night's rest, so do not worry." Navi smiled at her.
"Oh." Ruto looked back down at Link. "Well…" She cleared her throat uncomfortably. "At least that thing isn't making Lord Jabu-Jabu sick anymore, so… I guess I should thank you… and apologize."
"What for?" Link murmured sleepily.
Ruto shrugged and then grinned. "Well… I kind of thought you were… well…"
She was cut off when the ground rippled suddenly. She dropped Link's head, causing him to slap his face against the ground. "Ow," came his muffled response.
"What's happening?" Ruto cried.
The floor rippled again. Then again and once more. Then a great rush of air swept through the chamber. Princess Ruto and Navi immediately grabbed onto Link just before they, along with the two halves of the dead parasite, were all picked up and carried away screaming.