"Look, Link! Isn't the view pretty from up here?"
Link was busy making sure he wasn't going to slide off the roof, bracing his legs against the slope while leaning back. Saria, on the other hand, was not only standing but leaning forward as though she was gazing far into the trees. Saria's fairy, Anai, looked down at Link and smirked. "You're not afraid of heights, are you?"
"No!" Link said defensively. "The roof's just… slippery."
Saria giggled. Then she told him, "It's all right, Link. You won't fall. Just take my hand and I'll help you up."
Link eyed the hand she proffered with some hesitance. But he trusted her, so eventually he did take her hand.
"Yes, that's it, Link," said Saria encouragingly. She helped him gently to his feet. Then she pointed. "Look, do you see Barry hiding in the grass over there? And there's Alba looking for him. They're playing hide-and-seek."
Link balanced unsteadily on his feet but he did look to where Saria was pointing. Then he laughed, "Alba just walked right past Barry!"
Saria giggled. "Looks like Leila is daydreaming in the garden again."
Anai pointed. "Ooh, looks like Mido's showing off again." She smiled slyly at Saria. "It looks like he's going for a new record."
"Didn't he get sixty-three pushups last time?" Saria asked with a curious frown on her face.
"Fifty-three," Link corrected.
Anai watched Mido with rapture but Saria lost interest and pointed out other things to Link. Link was soon relaxing as he laughed with Saria and he was beginning to move around the rooftop to find other things.
"I think I see a tree that looks like it has Barry's face!" Link cried excitedly.
Saria laughed so hard, she doubled over. It made Link feel good to make her laugh. She had such a pretty laugh. And it made everyone else laugh too.
Anai suddenly exclaimed, "I think Mido just broke his record! And he's still going!"
Saria ignored her. Eventually she stopped laughing, wiping tears from her eyes. Then she said to Link, "I want to take a closer look at that tree. See if it really does look like Barry." Then without warning she leaped off the roof.
Link cried out in alarm. He dropped to his knees and crawled forward to peer over the roof to see if Saria was all right. He was relieved when he found her on her feet, seemingly unharmed. She turned and waved up at Link. "You coming?"
"You want me to jump down?" he cried, his heart pounding at the thought. He looked down at the ground stretching away from him.
His friend laughed. "It's easy! Right when you land on the ground, just let your knees drop and roll forward!"
"But what if I forget to let my knees drop? What if I get hurt?"
Saria threw out her arms. "You won't forget, Link! You can do it! Trust me!"
Trust her… Link stared at the ground again. It did look awfully far away… but he trusted her. He could always trust her.
Anai smirked. "Just don't look down."
Link ignored her. He pushed himself carefully to his feet and then took a deep breath. Then, with his face set in a determined expression, he took two steps and then jumped…
Link found a thrill in falling. The sensation of his stomach vanishing, the rush of cold air stinging his eyes, the experience of his clothes beating against his body… but what he really enjoyed was the weightlessness like all the burdens of the world - the teasing, the cold shoulders, the loneliness - had all fallen away from him… it was almost as though he was flying. For a brief moment, he was safe from the sorrows that waited on the ground.
But landing was something else entirely. He had been afraid of it once. It had hurt the first time, but he didn't want Saria to know that. He didn't want her to think that she had betrayed his trust. That first time, when she had asked if he was all right, he had focused on the tears - trying to hold them back - smiled at her and said, "I'm all right. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. But I wish I would have rolled like you said."
When she had asked if he wanted to not go on the roof again, Link had given her a determined look and said, "I want to jump again. I want to learn how to roll when I land." And he did. He learned how to allow his knees to collapse and then spring forward into a roll. It soon became his favorite part of falling. While falling through the air made him feel free and safe from the cruelty of the world below, rolling when he landed made him feel stronger like he had beaten the cruelty of the world… like he had shown the world he was not afraid of it and could fight back.
It gave him courage.
The ground was rushing up to meet him, but Link was ready. He wasn't going to let it beat him. He was going to show it that he was strong-strong enough to not let it hurt him.
As the ground came closer and closer, Link realized something that made him pause. He was aiming directly for the web covering the hole. He had somehow launched himself straight for the exact center of the ground where the hole was. He wasn't sure how this would affect his landing. Would the web be too soft to spring off of into a roll? He remembered it had been quite firm when he had walked on it. It might still work.
His feet touched the web and Link allowed his knees to collapse while he built tension in his legs to roll forward. But the web stretched suddenly under his impact, throwing him onto his back and giving him the sensation of having his stomach thrown back into him.
Then he heard splintering and he was falling again, tumbling backwards. He lost his stomach again and his heart was lodged in his throat, preventing his screams from escaping. He couldn't see where he was falling! He wasn't going to be able to fall onto his feet to roll forward! Instead, his head was going to slam into the ground and crack open and he would be dead and he wouldn't save the Great Deku Tree and Navi was going to be so disappointed and Saria… he was never going to see Saria agai…
All of his thoughts were shocked out of him when he hit into something cold, which quickly surrounded him - pressed in on him from all sides, including up his nose and into his ears. It felt as though he was being smothered in an ice-cold blanket. It was a while before his thoughts came swimming back to him and he realized that he had fallen into water!
He kicked at the water, propelling himself toward the surface. The water had taken him by surprise and knocked the air out of him. Now he needed the air back - desperately!
He gasped when he broke the surface, breathing in the musty air. He could see a small spot of light high above him but that was all he could see. It was very dark down here - pitch black. He shivered - whether from the coldness of the water or the pressing gloom surrounding him he couldn't tell. Most likely it was both.
His teeth chattered as he called out, "Nav-v-v-v-vi! Nav-v-vi, where are you!"
A tiny ball of light shot down from above like a shooting star. Then it erupted into a bright flash and there was a shrill shriek, "You foolish boy! You reckless imp! You do realize that you're lucky that there was water rather than hard ground to catch you, don't you?"
Link was relieved to see Navi and he couldn't help but smile. "S-s-s-sorry. I didn't th-th-th-think I was g-g-g-g-going t-t-to land on th-th-the web."
"You didn't think! That is why the Great Deku Tree commanded you to listen to my words of wisdom, and I warned you not to pull such a reckless stunt, did I not?!"
"N-n-n-not really," Link answered. "You only s-s-s-s-said it was a s-s-s-stupid idea."
Navi's frown deepened and she crossed her arms. "You think yourself clever, don't you, Link? I'm finding it difficult to see why Destiny has chosen you to save the land of Hyrule when you are reckless, proud, and arrogant! A true hero of Hyrule would be honest, thoughtful, and would listen to the ones set over to guide them!"
"I th-th-th-th-think you're just s-s-s-s-sore th-th-th-that my idea worked out," Link protested.
"Worked out, huh? You're in the water, shivering to death. You think that's your idea working out?"
"W-w-w-w-well… I didn't p-p-p-plan for th-th-th-this to happen," Link admitted. He certainly was very cold. He wished he had a warm blanket right now.
Navi huffed. "At any rate, you should get out of the water and find a way to warm yourself up before we move on. You'll catch a cold if you don't." She looked around the room, casting her light. Then she waved to Link, "This way."
With relief, Link swam after her. His feet soon touched ground and he sloshed his way to the shore. Shivering in his dripping clothes, he removed his cap and wrung it out.
As he was doing that, Navi suddenly heard dry rustling behind her. She turned around to witness a pair of glowing orange eyes appearing just beyond the range of her light. Then she heard more rustling and then two more pairs of eyes appeared.
"Careful, Link," Navi warned in a low voice. "We've got company."
Link, who had been wringing out his tunic, responded immediately, drawing out his sword and shield. He was just in time for they heard the spit of a Deku Scrub followed by a wooden crack on his shield. Two more spits followed with subsequent cracks.
Link spotted the three sets of eyes. He muttered, "This'll be tricky getting three of them at the same time."
Navi agreed, "Yes, it would certainly be an awkward situation for you if they surrounded you. Fortunately, Deku Scrubs are cowards and tend to stay within the safety of their flowers."
"What!?" squeaked the first Scrub in outrage as it leaped out of its flower. "Did you just call us cowards?! Come over here and I'll show you who's a coward! We are the elite guards of Queen Gohma! No one gets past us! Just you try to, I dare you! You loud-mouthed, puny, little…"
Link had had enough. No one insulted his fairy like that! He marched forward, holding his shield in front of him in case the other two attacked. The first Scrub squeaked in alarm and burrowed back into its flower. Then it popped its head back up and continued its tirade, "Well, come on, tough guy! You think you're tough enough to get past us? Go on then! Let's see how far you get before we send you crying back to your mommy!"
Link continued forward. The Deku Scrub's eyes widened as though surprised that Link actually dared. Then it turned to its brothers and commanded, "Attack!"
They immediately began spitting a barrage of Deku nuts at Link. He crouched behind his shield as the nuts cracked against it and continued to shuffle forward.
"Don't stop!" the first Scrub squeaked to its brothers, sounding more and more nervous the closer Link got.
Link shuffled closer, the cracks against his shield getting louder and louder. Then a split appeared in the center of his shield and shot all the way to the top.
"Uh-oh," murmured Link. His shield was taking too much and at this rate it would completely shatter if he didn't do something soon!
The Deku Scrub leader seemed to realize that too for it squeaked excitedly, "Aha! Keep firing, my Scrubs! He's no match for us! Break his shield! Show him what we're made of!"
"Perhaps we should retreat," Navi suggested urgently. "Your shield won't take much more damage."
But Link had already come so far, and he wasn't going to be beaten by a bunch of cowardly, little Scrubs! Instead, he yelled out a battle cry and rushed forward.
"Eep!" the Deku Scrub cried. Its brothers choked as their eyes widened in alarm. Just as Link was about to ram into them, they ducked into their flowers and he stumbled.
The Deku Scrub crowed, "Ha ha! You can't get us while we're in our flowers! Take this, you stupid Kokiri!" And it spit a Deku nut at Link.
He swung his shield to block the nut. This action caught the nut like a ball on a bat and sent it flying back at the Scrub. It barely had time to widen its orange eyes in alarm before it was struck by its own nut.
"Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow! My eye! My eye!" It squeezed its eyes tightly shut and shook its head as though trying to shake off the pain. "Ow! You stupid Kokiri! You stupid fairy! You hurt me! Get them!"
The other two Deku Scrubs peeked out of their flowers and then popped their heads up to shoot nuts at Link. He hurried behind their leader as they began spitting at him. Their nuts smacked into the loudmouthed Scrub before they realized what they had done. And when they did, they looked horrified.
Their leader shrieked in pain, leaping out of its flower and scurrying blindly away. It sobbed, "I hate you! I hate you all! You dummies! You weren't supposed to hit me! You dummies! I'm going to…"
Its voice was cut off by a splash, followed by a terrified squealing and gurgling. It had run into the water and was now thrashing wildly in it.
"Oh no!" cried one of the Deku Scrubs behind Link. "He's going to drown!"
"Please help him!" cried the other.
"But you tried to kill me," said Link.
The splashing grew more wild and the terrified gurgling higher in pitch. The two Deku Scrubs trembled as one of them squeaked, "Please! We'll do anything!"
Link was torn. For one thing, that Deku Scrub had tried to kill him. And for another thing, Navi didn't like Deku Scrubs. But the terrified squealing of the drowning Scrub was wrenching at Link's conscience. Even Mido didn't deserve to die like that!
Link's heart nearly burst with relief when Navi said, "We will save your brother. BUT you have to promise that you will leave the Great Deku Tree."
The two of them nodded vigorously. "We promise! We promise! Now please! Save our brother!"
Link obediently hurried off toward the splashing sounds with Navi flying close behind him. They found the Deku Scrub almost fully submerged in the water as it tossed and kicked. Link waded into the water then sucked in a deep breath and plunged in, stretching out his arms for the Scrub. It was tricky to grab this way since it was tumbling in the water but Link somehow managed to grab its foot. Gripping it securely, he waded back ashore. The Scrub was much heavier than he had expected and it took almost all his strength to drag it onto dry land. But at last, he dropped the foot and tipped the Deku Scrub on its side as its brothers bounded up next to him. Water streamed from its snout-like mouth as it coughed and spluttered. The force of its coughing threatened to roll it onto its back so Link held it in place to allow the rest of the water to gush out. At last, the Deku Scrub was able to speak again though it merely repeated weakly, "Stupid Kokiri… stupid fairy… stupid brothers…" It looked thoroughly miserable.
The other two bounced next to him in agitation. "Are you all right?"
Their leader's eyes shifted slowly to look at them and then slowly blinked. At last, it mumbled, "What did you shoot me for? You were supposed to shoot him… stupid brothers…"
"He will be okay," Navi pronounced. "Now remember your promise."
The two Scrubs nodded eagerly. "Yes, yes, of course!"
Their leader blinked blearily. "…Promise?"
They spun around to face the leader but avoided its eyes. "W-we promised that we would leave the tree if they saved you."
For a moment, their leader didn't respond. Then slowly it rolled over to its back and murmured, "But we were supposed to protect… Queen Gohma… This is stupid." It squeezed its eyes shut but couldn't keep back the tear that slid out. "I hate this. Why'd you have to come along… Why'd you have to ruin everything?" It turned to face Link.
Link's was starting to lose his sympathy for the ungrateful thing. He wanted to punch it right in the eye. He had saved its life and this was the thanks he got?
Navi spoke, "Shouldn't you all get going?" Her tone was biting.
The leader answered sulkily, "I can't. I'm too soggy, which means I'll be too heavy to fly. We have to wait until I'm dry." Its cohorts nodded eagerly in agreement.
"Very well then," said Navi, her anger barely controlled. "You can wait until you're dry. Link and I will confront Queen Gohma, and when we return, you had better be gone."
"You're never going to beat Queen Gohma anyway," murmured the Scrub. "She'll gobble you up!"
Ignoring the comment, Navi turned her back on the Scrub. She motioned to Link. "Come on, then. Time to root out that parasite!"
Crowding together, the three Deku Scrubs watched with an expression that almost appeared to be awe - even the leader, despite its jeering - as the Kokiri and his fairy turn and start forward. They soon came face to face with the entryway that presumably led to Queen Gohma. Link had seen it before behind the Deku Scrubs but his attention had been focused on defending against their attacks. He and his fairy now got a good look at it for the first time.
It was really nothing more than a tunnel just large enough for Link to walk through. The entire thing was jagged with sharp splinters jutting out like teeth. He used his sword to poke at a splinter, which snapped off.
Link gave a nervous cough. "That looks kind of dangerous."
His fairy had a horrified expression on her face. "It appears as though something burrowed through here."
"Queen Gohma?" Link tentatively stretched his foot inside and pressed down on the jagged floor.
Navi nodded. "That's what I fear. Be careful going through."
Link ducked inside and carefully began shuffling his way down the tunnel. He was careful not to touch the sides and kept his head low to avoid spearing himself from above. He used his sword to lop the particularly long splinters on his left side, and he kept his shield tucked in on his right side. Though awkward, it seemed to be working effectively.
At last, the tunnel opened into an enormous chamber. The air was heavy with moisture, so heavy that it made it difficult to breathe. But when Link and Navi stepped out of the tunnel, it wasn't the cloying air that made them gasp.
Throughout the entire chamber, hundreds upon hundreds of eggs had been dispersed. They had been gathered in clusters in each corner, along the walls, and even adhered to columns. They were fleshy blobs of pink with bulging blue veins that pulsed, making the vast space seem… alive.
Terrible to behold was the sight and even worse was the smell. Link was overwhelmed by the sickeningly sweet smell of rot and the ripe smell of flesh.
"All those eggs…" Navi said faintly, overcome by horror, "they're leeching nutrients from the Great Deku Tree! No wonder he's ill!"
Link moved toward a cluster, observing the veins throbbing as the Great Deku Tree's nutrients were transferred to the eggs. As he gazed through the pink flesh, he was certain he saw movement inside. This filled him with an overwhelming sense of repulsion and he reacted by taking his sword and slashing it through the cluster.
The eggs burst into a tide of slime that washed over the floor, carrying with it little creatures that seemed to be made up of long, angular limbs. They twitched feebly, their legs dripping ooze before dipping back down. Link stomped hard on them, which squished under his boot. When his foot came away, quivering strings of yellow slime came with it. Link's stomach heaved at the sight. He looked away and gazed instead at all of the clusters congesting the chamber.
"That Queen Gohma sure has been busy," he commented. He looked around for signs of the parasite. "I wonder where she is?"
Navi shuddered. "She's close… I can feel her."
But Link still could not see her. With a derisive sneer, he said, "Hiding? Maybe we should try to draw her out." He moved forward.
"Be careful, Link," his fairy cautioned, "she may be more dangerous than you think."
"Dangerous?" Link scoffed, "like those Deku Scrubs? If she's really that dangerous, why would she have to have such wimpy guards? And that web?" He had almost reassured himself, yet he couldn't help but feel a little afraid by what Navi said. He paused in front of a cluster of the veiny eggs and, to dispel his doubts, he took his sword and slashed it through.
The eggs popped and the slime slopped out but there was no sound from Queen Gohma. So Link moved on to the next cluster and slashed those. When Gohma failed to show, he moved to the next cluster and slashed those. Then he moved to the next cluster and to the next one, his boots squishing with the slime of the eggs. Navi watched him-feeling satisfaction with each egg cluster he destroyed and yet fearful for the Kokiri's safety as she imagined the wrath of the queen.
Then the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Gooseflesh erupted on her arms and ice trailed down her spine. And her heart began to pound. It was a feeling she had experienced only in her darkest nightmares. It was the feeling of being watched by something evil… it was the feeling of fear.
"Link," she tried to say but her throat was dry and her voice never made it past her throat. When she tried to take a breath, it was as though her lungs had been plugged. When she tried to fly to her charge, it was as though her limbs had been locked in place. But she had to warn him somehow!
Link raised his sword to slash at another cluster of eggs. But then he twisted his head for he suddenly thought he had heard something. A slow, dry rustling sound like a Deku Scrub… but it sounded bigger. He swung his sword around and held it out in front of him defensively. But he couldn't see what was making that sound. His courage was quickly slipping away from him and it was all he could do not to run for safety.
He reacted with a slash at the air when a ball of light shot for him without warning. Then he heard his fairy gasping next to him, "She's here! It's Queen Gohma!"
Link swiveled left and then right, keeping his sword straight out in front of him. "Where is she?" His voice came out as a croak.
With his heart pounding painfully against his ribcage, Link directed his gaze upward.
On the ceiling, a dark shadow was moving slowly. The source of the rustling came from a pair of thick, segmented legs with sharp claws at the tips that stretched and gripped the vines that amassed the ceiling. Link's sword shook in his hand as the thing crawled across the ceiling toward him. Then it paused.
An enormous orange eye appeared. At first it moved slowly, blinking frequently as though it had just awoken. But as it moved from corner to corner, it moved faster and faster. It seemed to be interested in the slashed egg clusters, for the eye would pause there, growing wider with each one as though expressing shock at the sight. Finally it looked straight down and let out a shrill shriek of what Link guessed was fury.
The shriek startled him and his sword dropped. The clatter seemed to alert the creature for its eye swiveled to him. Then its eye narrowed and the orange turned to blood-red. Link hastily picked up his sword again, never taking his eyes off the angry red one.
The monster suddenly scrambled across the ceiling. Link instinctively backed away. He slipped in the puddle of slime and fell backwards onto the egg cluster. It burst over his head and his vision became clouded with a wash of mucus while the larvae tumbled over his face and down his body. With a cry of disgust and horror, he swiped the goo off just in time to see the monster drop in front of him with an earth-shuddering thud and then rear into the air with an angry shriek.
Link now got a good look at the arachnid parasite, Queen Gohma. Her body was armored with dark, slimy plates that slid over each other. She waved two thick legs in the air while balancing on a thick, segmented tail. When she brought her legs down and whipped her tail above her head, Link noticed that the end of her tail seemed to have a mouth, complete with a ring of sharp teeth that flexed as though it was hungry to eat him. Then it arced through the air toward him!
"Run, Link!" Navi screamed.
Link dodged out of the way, his feet slipping on the mucus that soaked him. He didn't stop to look behind him but he could hear Queen Gohma pounding after him. He swung around a pillar, slapping his head against an egg on the way. Queen Gohma behind him skidded as she attempted to make the same turn. Once Link had the parasite queen hidden behind a pillar, he dashed toward the next pillar in the hope he might hide there. His heart was beating frantically against his chest and his limbs screamed in pain, yet Gohma's horrible screech drove him onward. After dashing around the pillar, he collapsed against it to catch his breath.
"You need to aim for her eye," Navi panted beside him. "Her armor covers her entire body and it appears too thick for your sword to penetrate. Your only hope is to get her eye."
"But how am I supposed to reach it?" Link hissed. "She's huge! I can't just reach up there and stab her eye! She'd eat me first!"
Navi answered, "Perhaps we ought to try…"
She screamed before she could finish. Queen Gohma suddenly appeared from behind the column and lashed her tail forward. Link brought his sword up to parry it but was sent spinning to the ground from the force of the blow. He scrambled across the ground on all fours, expecting at any moment to have that tail slam into him and squash him like a bug.
But Queen Gohma merely squealed in pain, retreating backwards, her tail waving limply. Link must have cut her with his sword, thought Navi. She turned to her charge, who was still scrambling away on all fours. She zipped to him and yelled to make herself heard above the queen parasite's shrieks, "Get to your feet! You've wounded her! Now find a way to finish her off!"
Link continued to crawl. With a huff of impatience, Navi darted in front of his face and yelled at him, "Get up! Queen Gohma is escaping! We mustn't let her escape!"
Link still expected to feel the parasite's heavy tail slam on him, but he rolled to his back to check. It turned out that Navi was right. Queen Gohma was hurrying toward the opposite wall. Emboldened by this show of cowardice, he scrambled to his feet then raised his sword and charged after her.
"If we can corner her," said Navi, following behind Link, "then it should increase our chances of defeating her."
"I still don't see how I'm supposed to reach her eye," Link told her.
"We'll think of something," Navi responded impatiently. "Right now, focus on cornering her. She's at the wall now, once she runs for a corner, run toward that corner."
But Queen Gohma didn't run for a corner. Instead, she lifted her leg and used her sharp claws to grip the wall and then lifted the other leg and gripped the wall with those claws while she used her tail to push against the ground. She was walking up the wall!
Link skidded to a halt and his mouth dropped open. Navi cried, "No! We can't let her escape! We've got to stop her!"
But the parasite had already crawled too far out of reach up the wall. She was soon crawling across the ceiling until she paused. She whipped her tail under her legs and pushed off the ceiling so that she twisted right-side-up as she fell, which was right over Link!
Navi screamed at him, "Move, Link!"
Link dove forward. Queen Gohma crashed to the ground and whipped her tail forward, slamming it into Link's back, which threw him forward into a tumble. When he finally regained control of his movements, he immediately sprang to his feet and ran, for he could hear Queen Gohma stomping behind him and squealing angrily. He was blind with panic-his heart was pounding so hard he felt sure it would burst and he felt like he was running past the air that he was supposed to be breathing in-so he didn't realize where he was running to until he slid on slime, which nearly carried him into an egg cluster that he had slashed. He had run into a corner. He spun around, looking for another direction to run in, but the arachnid parasite was closing the distance quickly, her angry red eye homing on him. He had tried to corner her, but he had instead been cornered by Queen Gohma!
"Aim for her eye, Link!" Navi cried desperately.
Link dropped both his shield and sword and pulled out his slingshot. With haste, he fitted a seed into the sling, pulled back and fired.
To his relief, Queen Gohma shrieked as she staggered backwards and then shook her head. Her eye opened, which had turned a shocking pink and was crying. She blinked and rolled her eye around while shaking her head. Then she shrieked and began staggering around, slamming her tail back and forth like a deadly club. The egg clusters that Link had not yet destroyed were now smashed under her frenzied attack, spraying slime everywhere.
Link's legs suddenly gave out on him and he collapsed to the ground, his limbs shaking. Navi yelled at him, "You can't rest now! You've only made her angry! You've got to destroy her!"
"I'm trying!" Link protested. Wearily, he reached for his shield and sword and used them to prop himself up to his knees. Trying to control his shaking legs, he pushed himself to his feet. After wobbling on his legs for a moment, he moved toward Queen Gohma, who was still shrieking shrilly and smashing things in frenzy.
Then she bumped into the wall. Her tail whipped up and latched on and then her legs followed clumsily. Once she had both legs gripping the wall firmly, her tail swung down and tensed against the floor, pushing her up as she walked up the wall.
Link stopped and then backed away. "She's going to try to drop on me again!"
Navi replied, "Fortunately, she can't see you. That seed you shot seems to have irritated her eye. Just remain quiet and she shouldn't be able to find you."
The giant parasite crawled onto the ceiling and then stopped. From there, she shook her head wildly as though she was trying to shake something off.
Then something thunked at Link's feet and bounced toward him. Link hopped backwards and thrust his sword forward in case it was something dangerous trying to attack him, but when it bounced off the tip of his sword, he discovered it was a Deku seed, glistening with tears. With a gasp, he looked up to find the queen parasite with her giant watery eye open. It had darkened to blood-red again and was focused on Link with an intense hatred. From that look, Link knew for sure that Queen Gohma wanted him dead.
"She can see me!" Link cried.
"Shoot another one! Blind her again!"
Link obediently dropped his sword and shield again and pulled out his slingshot. But even as he was fitting a seed into the sling, the giant parasite queen saw what he was doing and immediately shut her eye. She crawled forward toward Link.
"She's shut her eye!" Link let fall his slingshot and began backing hastily away.
Navi dropped her voice to a harsh whisper, "Which means we can't shoot her eye, but it also means she can't see you. Just make sure her shadow never falls on you and be careful not to make a sound."
But they quickly found out that this wouldn't work, for Queen Gohma suddenly paused and opened her eye, rolling it quickly to locate Link, and then immediately shut it and turned toward him. Link and Navi changed course in an attempt to keep the giant parasite from dropping on them. But once again, Queen Gohma paused, opened her eye and rolled it around to look for Link, then shut it and crawled toward him again.
"We'll never beat Queen Gohma this way!" Navi hissed to herself in frustration. She could see that Link was tiring, his breath coming out in noisy gasps, and he was starting to stagger. "We need to bring her down so that we can finish her off." She looked up at Queen Gohma, who paused again, opened her eye to locate Link, and then shut it and lumbered toward him.
If Link can shoot her eye when she opens it, that may bring her down. Navi thought on inspiration. She flew to Link's ear and hissed, "Link! Get your slingshot ready!" Aim for her eye!"
"But she has it closed!" Link hissed back.
Navi explained somewhat impatiently, "We must be ready for when she opens it! For when she does, that is when you'll strike!"
Link shook his head. "I just hope she doesn't crush me!" But he did as his fairy suggested, spinning around so that he was now jogging backwards while he pulled back the sling and aimed for the giant parasite's closed eye. His heart pattered nervously as he waited in anticipation for the parasite queen to open her eye.
"Steady, Link," Navi encouraged. "Don't move too quickly. You don't want to run into the wall behind you."
Link nodded. He was trusting her to watch his back to make sure he didn't run into anything… if he wasn't so afraid, he might have thought that was funny. But his focus was on the monster on the ceiling as he waited for the right moment to take her down. As he continued to jog backwards, he waited…
Queen Gohma suddenly paused. Link nearly released the seed too early but he kept his twitchy fingers in check. But when she opened her eye, he reacted with a sharp twitch, releasing the seed but also stumbling backwards and then tumbled onto his back.
The seed sang through the air. The song drew Queen Gohma's eye, which widened in fear when she realized what was about to happen.
The seed struck her. With a horrendous screech, she lurched so violently that the vines ripped from the ceiling and she tumbled down toward the ground, her legs and tail flailing. She hit the ground with an awful, echoing series of loud cracks, followed immediately by a deafening screech. Her eye was pink and crying once more and rolling wildly. Her tail lashed above her head and she rocked from side to side, but Link noticed curiously when he sat up that her legs didn't move. They were, in fact, splayed in bizarre angles that sent judders down his spine.
Navi danced with excitement. "Her legs are broken! Quickly, take your sword and stab her in the eye!"
Link reached for his sword… but it wasn't there. He felt his heart leap into his throat as he swiveled around, looking for his weapon.
His fairy cried impatiently, "What are you doing? Now's our chance to destroy her once and for all!"
"But I've lost my sword!" Link spun around and suddenly spotted something glinting as Queen Gohma's tail swished by.
Navi yelled at him, "You lost it? How could you have lost it! After everything we've gone through to find it, you lost it? We must find that sword!"
Link wasn't listening. He had discovered that the glint came from the Kokiri Sword hidden behind the crippled queen. He would have to somehow dodge past her deadly tail if he wanted to grab his blade… either that or find a way to knock it out of her range. With excitement, he wondered if his slingshot would work.
He pulled it out and sidestepped around Queen Gohma to angle himself for a clear shot at his sword. With her tail thrashing all about, it would be tricky.
But the hours of practicing his target shooting all paid off. Watching her tail closely, Link waited patiently until it smashed within line of his shot and then lifted away, and that's when he released. He was satisfied to hear the metallic "ping!" of his seed striking the blade and then see the sword spinning away. He ran after it, being sure to give the parasite queen a wide berth. He snatched it up and then ran around to the queen's front where her eye was still rolling.
"And now, Link," said Navi with vicious satisfaction, "let us destroy that parasite!"
Link nodded. The blood was rushing through his ears as he ran forward.
"Watch for that tail," his fairy called out.
Link halted just as the queen's tail struck the ground in front of him. He slashed at it, which made her scream all the louder, and she jerked so viciously it almost seemed she was going to stand on her broken legs.
Link dodged under her tail, which came back down with a crash, and found himself staring into the enormous eye of Queen Gohma. The veins in it were swollen and red and her pupil had dilated to where Link could view his entire reflection. He was covered in slime, a huge red splotch stained his left side, his clothing was torn in several places, and on top of all that his face was smudged with dirt. And it was all thanks to this monster.
Anger flared in Link's chest. Gritting his teeth, he dropped his shield, took his sword in both hands and shoved it straight up into her eye.
The queen parasite shrieked and her tail whipped above her head, causing her to rock her body with such ferocity that Link heard her legs cracking as they were bent further askew. The sword was ripped from his hand-causing him to cry out in alarm-as her eye rolled up, down, side to side, back and forth as though trying to slam the sword out. The blade was too deep in it though and try as she might to remove it, her eye slowly drained of its watery fluid until it was nothing but a floppy fold of skin. The sword slipped out on a trickle of mucus.
As her eye had drained, her tail had begun to settle until it was flopping weakly on the ground. Eventually, it stopped twitching and she lay still.
Navi drifted closer to the motionless husk though cautiously. She circled around it, circled again more quickly and then darted in and back out. At last, she declared joyfully, "She's dead!"
The words triggered a reaction from Link's legs. They collapsed and he fell into a seated position. His breath burst from him in a gasp and then his chest heaved as he took deep breaths. His body began shuddering and he couldn't stop it. All the tension from the battle was now being released from him and he could do nothing but wait for it to stop.
Above him, his fairy danced and crowed, "You did it, Link! You destroyed Queen Gohma - the curse afflicting the Great Deku Tree! Well done! He should recover soon and peace will return to the forest!" Her voice grew thick with emotion, "The Great Deku Tree will be so pleased! I'm certain he'll reward you handsomely for your great courage! And the other children will no longer be so cruel to you! No, they will love you! You will be a hero!"
Link shook his head wearily. "Right now, I just want to go home. I don't want to do any hero stuff again for a long time."
Navi turned to him in surprise and eyed him curiously, unsure of how to respond. After a moment, she cleared her throat and spoke, "Well… I'm sure your green-haired friend will be excited to hear of your adventure."
At the mention of his friend, Link looked up at Navi and then nodded. Then he looked down at the Kokiri Sword, which was slick with slime that pooled around it. He reached down for it and then picked it up, ignoring the wobbling strands that stretched between the puddle and the sword. He wiped the sword clean on his tunic-which he just noticed was even dirtier than his weapon-and then slid it into its sheath. Then he straightened himself. As he had been doing all this, he had been imagining himself telling the story to Saria. When he had started out the story in his head, he had thought about telling her just simply what the Great Deku Tree had wanted him to do and that he did it. But because he knew Saria would want to know more, he then thought about which details he would include in his story. And then, knowing Saria was going to find these details exciting and because her excitement was too infectious to resist, he thought about how he was going to make his story more exciting. By the time he had sheathed his sword, he knew how he was going to tell her the story and he was excited. And Navi noticed.
She asked him, "Are you all right?"
Link nodded. "Yeah. Let's go. I've got a lot to tell Saria."
So they started back. But when they had reached the jagged tunnel that Queen Gohma had hacked out, the ground rumbled. Link spun around and yanked out his sword, suddenly afraid that Queen Gohma had somehow come back to life.
"What was that?"
Just as he spoke, another there was another rumble. Then before Link could move, the ground rumbled again, throwing him to his feet.
"What is that?" Link cried.
Then, amid the rumbling, there was a great whooshing noise and Link was suddenly being tugged by strong winds. Navi cried out in fear as she began to be swept away by the air currents, but she somehow managed to land on Link's shoulder and she gripped his tunic tightly to keep from being blown away. Link himself had to lean against the winds while holding his cap on his head and dig his heels into the ground, but the gales were too strong and were pushing him backwards.
Slimy bits of flesh were carried past him, which Link recognized as the eggs' remains. Then he saw something large tumbling toward him and he realized with a gasp that it was Queen Gohma's body rolling toward him.
"Watch out, Link!"
Link shielded himself with his arms but it wasn't enough to prepare him for the force of the parasite queen's husk on him. He was thrown into the air, promptly picked up by the wind currents and carried away.
"Hang on, Navi!" he screamed.