The Legend of Zelda: The Alternate Link

Chapter 26: The Temple of Farore

Link's enhanced vision cut through the oil spill of darkness before him. While he couldn't see much, he could see enough to navigate. He was reluctant to enlist the help of his lantern since he did not want to waste its supply of oil in case it was needed later. A long underground passage stretched out before him, and he sighed. He should have seen it coming. The gifts they received from the trials always played some key role in the temples.

Taking out the compass from where he had stashed it, Link brought the object close to his face so he could see it better. The needle was still spinning mindlessly. He bit his lip in thought, wondering who to search for first. After much debate he chose to look for Tetra since she'd been on the tile closest to him when they fell, so she would probably be the closest to him now.

He turned the outer ring of the compass by using two of the shallow holes and twisting it to the right until the panel with the two wavy lines clicked into place at the top. The needle slowed its dizzying revolution. It stopped to point to his left in a wavering line, as if it wasn't entirely sure about its decision. Link had been hoping that it'd give him a route to go by, but as he followed its accusing gaze with his own eyes, it directed him to a wall.

Deciding to turn as soon as the opportunity arose, Link continued down the long corridor with the compass clutched in his right hand. As he walked on, he couldn't help noticing that the underground hallway seemed to stretch on forever. Of course, the darkness made everything look like that so it couldn't be true. He kept his eyes on the left hand wall, expecting it to open up or change at some point.

Suddenly the toe of his boot caught on something, and he fell. The compass skidded out of reach, and Link could just barely see it now with his limited vision. He looked back to see what had caused him to trip. The culprit was a long gnarled branch that stretched across the width of the passage. Dying leaves clung to it as if they still harbored some ray of hope of blooming again.

A faint grinding sound met his ears. Link got to his feet and retrieved his compass, listening with curiosity as the sound became louder. He looked ahead but couldn't see anything. Squinting into the darkness, Link took a couple experimental steps forward. After a few seconds it became clear what was making the noise. He didn't know what it was really. It appeared to be some sort of metal contraption with a lot of spikes. Whatever it was, he didn't really care. It was coming straight for him, and he didn't need to know what it was to know that it could kill him.

Link turned around and ran back the way he had come, taking care to hurdle the branch that had tripped him before. Glancing at the compass again he noticed that it pointed forward which was strange. Wouldn't it still be pointing left? Or behind him by now? Unless Tetra hadn't moved. That was a possibility, especially if it was dark where she was too. Link chose to ignore it and concentrated on running.

All too soon he was stopped by the end of the hallway. Link turned around to judge the distance between himself and his untimely demise. He had fifteen seconds at best before the thing crushed him. He checked the compass again, wishing it could see him to salvation. Instantly, he became puzzled. The needle now pointed to his left just like in the beginning.

"I wonder…" Link trailed off stepping towards the wall. He reached out his left hand and placed it on the hard packed soil, or tried to anyway. His hand passed right through as if there was nothing there. It had been an illusion all along!

Link wasted no time in running through it to the other side. He made it just in time for a second later the rolling death trap crashed into the very solid wall at the end of the corridor and dislodged dirt from the ceiling. Link coughed and waved his hand in front of his face to fan away the dust cloud that was kicked up. When it cleared, Link had a better view of the new room.

Compared to the last area this one was well lit with the natural light of pastel colored mushrooms. From the ground sprouted green grass which glowed with a blue tint in the strange light. The passage stretched out ahead and to the right of him. Link enlisted the aid of the compass in his hand to choose his path. The needle pointed straight ahead, so he followed it. At least he was getting somewhere now.

He allowed the compass to direct him as he progressed through the maze-like halls. Eventually, his ears picked up Tetra's voice. He was too far away to make out what she was saying, but as he continued walking the sound became clearer. It sounded like she was giving directions to someone which didn't make sense. Why would she be giving anyone directions? Had she found a map? If she did then who was she talking to? Herself?

Link's questions were soon answered when he turned the corner. At the very end of the hall he could see Tetra. She appeared to be behind some metal bars with vines crawling up them. Despite this, he wasn't entirely sure it was a cage, so much as a barrier.

"Hey, Tetra!" he called to her as he started to run to get to the end of the hall faster. She turned around, looking a bit startled to see him.

"Link?" Tetra wondered, keeping one hand behind her back as she turned around to face him. "How did you find me?"

"With this," Link replied, holding up the compass for inspection as he came closer to the bars separating them. "And who were you talking to?"

"Kid," Tetra answered after a hesitation so brief that Link barely noticed it.

"Is he over there too?" Link asked.

"Not physically, no," Tetra shook her head.

"What the heck's that supposed to mean?" Link questioned her.

Tetra sighed and rolled her eyes as if he was a little kid pestering her about something insignificant. She moved her arm, so he could see what she held in her hand. A glowing blue stone hovered just above her open palm. "Kid has a stone identical to this one. I gave it to him a long time ago, and through these stones we can communicate. I can see everything he's doing as well as scope ahead for him. He, on the other hand, can only hear my voice."

"Okay, wait. If you had these stones then why didn't you use them before when you guys got separated?" Link wanted to know.

"Because they have to be in a certain range to connect to each other, moron," Tetra huffed.

"Is that Link with you?" Kid's voice asked suddenly. His voice echoed slightly like he was in a cave.

"Nice of you to join the conversation," Tetra rolled her eyes at the stone.

"Not like you were trying to include me in it," Kid muttered, and then louder, "Anyway, which way do I turn this time? Right or left?"

"Left," Tetra replied in a bored tone.

"So are you stuck there or what Tetra?" Link wondered.

"Hmmm? Me? I'm not stuck. This path continues, see?" she gestured behind her to prove her point. "I just stopped here, so I could guide Kid without putting myself in danger. There's a lot of traps set up around this place. Navigating through them is a pain."

"Hey, Tetra, are you sure it was left?" Kid asked, sounding nervous.

"Of course I'm s- wait no! Turn back!" Tetra gasped, focusing her attention on the glowing stone in her hand, "I made a mistake! I meant to say right!" Several loud thuds emitted from the stone, and Link became worried. What the heck could that mean?

"Oh no…" Kid trailed off.

"What-" Link was cut off by a shriek before he could finish the sentence. He only knew one thing that made that noise. Redeads. Just hearing the scream immobilized him. After a few seconds he could move again and so could Tetra, though she was shaking, probably scared for Kid and to tell the truth he was too. Redeads were terrifying and fighting them was a challenge.

Tetra's gaze was intent on the stone, watching a battle only she could see. He didn't know how she could see anything though. The little stone looked misty inside when he peered at it. Nothing that could be described as a picture manifested in its sapphire depths.

"Crap! It grabbed him!" Tetra reported, gritting her teeth.

"What?!" Link exclaimed in disbelief. Now he really wished that he could see what was going on. All the redeads he'd ever fought had carried a weapon. They had never wasted the effort of grabbing him when they could just conveniently cleave him in two. Another undead scream hit their ears and caused them both to freeze. Link couldn't even begin to imagine what it sounded like to Kid who was right in front of them.

After what felt like forever the sounds of battle faded into heavy breathing.

"Are you okay?" Link asked, hoping that Kid could hear him too.

Before Kid could even reply Tetra answered for him, "No, he's not okay. He's bleeding."

"I'm fine," Kid protested.

“How bad is it?" Link asked whoever would answer him.

"It's not that bad," Kid said and Link looked to Tetra as if to ask if Kid's words were true or if he was lying.

"For him that means it's a moderate injury," Tetra translated.

Link sighed, wishing that he could do something to help. "Okay, can you walk?"

"Yes, I can move around. Don't worry, I'm okay," Kid insisted, although Link felt that he was just saying it to ease his mind. This wasn't good. They were separated, Kid was hurt, and the only one carrying medical supplies was Zelda. That was a poor choice on their part. They should have all at least equipped themselves with a red potion just in case something like this happened. However, they hadn't the insight to do so and now they were paying for it. Link blamed himself for not thinking of it earlier. He was really failing at his job as protector lately.

"Turn back the way you came. The other path should be clear, but stop at where the two hallways meet so I can make sure," Tetra instructed Kid who gave an "Okay" to let her know that he heard. Then Tetra turned her attention to Link. "I have a suspicion that these tunnels we're in never connect. Why else would there be bars here if you can't take them down? My guess is that the areas we're all in eventually open up into the same room. We each need to find our own way out though. You said the compass showed you the way to me. If it created a path for you to follow, then if one of us gets out there will be a path for all of us to follow to escape, no matter where we are. If I can get Kid out, then we can find our way out. What do you think?"

"I think it's a good idea, but how are you planning on getting Kid out?" Link wondered.

"Well, I've figured out that you're presented with choices. Choose right, and you get to progress, but choose wrong and you have to face something you're scared of. The further you get, the more intense the fear so, all I have to do is help him pick the right path. It's pretty easy if I scout ahead, though sometimes it's hard to tell," Tetra explained, returning her attention to the stone and peering into it like before when Kid affirmed that he was at the decided location.

"Yup, it's clear," Tetra confirmed with a nod after a full minute of scrutinizing it.

"How do you know it'll stay clear for us when we follow the compasses?" Link questioned her.

"Did you run into any trouble?" Tetra countered with her own question.

"Surprisingly, no," Link responded. The compass' directions had actually spared his life.

"Well then there you go," Tetra stated. "We'll be fine because the compasses plan out a safe route for us." Link wasn't so sure about that. It could have been just luck that he hadn't run into anything hostile. Still, he chose not to say anything.

"Which way?" Kid asked.

"Hold on a second. Stay where you are," Tetra told him, searching the glowing charm's depths for a safe route. Finally she seemed to find one. "Okay, I know the safe path, but there's a trap set in place."

"Well, how do I not set it off?" Kid wondered.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out…" Tetra trailed off.

"Aren't the safe places supposed to not have traps?" Link inquired.

"Shush. I'm trying to concentrate," Tetra ordered him. After another minute of contemplation Tetra spoke up again, "Kid, there's no way to not activate it, but I think I know a place where you can stand that'll be safe."

"Where do I stand?" Kid wanted to know.

"The correct path is straight ahead. The trap will activate as soon as you step into that hallway, so once you do, make sure you're close to the right hand wall. Retreat to that corner and you should be fine."

"You better be right," Kid sighed.

"We can hope," Tetra returned.

"Tetra! Are you sure or not?" Kid exclaimed, obviously not wanting to put his life at risk for nothing.

"Of course I'm not sure. There's no way to be one hundred percent sure that you'll avoid it completely," Tetra explained, "Keep your shield ready just in case."

"Thanks, that's comforting," Kid muttered. Link assumed that he then moved to follow Tetra's instructions. A lot of banging could be heard and then, silence.

"Good it worked. Now hurry before the traps reset themselves!" Tetra demanded. After another half hour of Tetra ordering Kid around, Kid reported that a door was in front of him.

"Is it the end Tetra?" Kid asked.

"Looks like it," Tetra nodded, "I'm going now. See ya." With that the stone dropped into her hand, completely lifeless. "Now we can set our compasses to track Kid's and we'll be out," Tetra announced.

"Okay but be careful," Link said, a bit reluctant to lose sight of her with all of the traps that Kid had run into.

"Yeah, I'll be careful," Tetra rolled her eyes as she put away the blue stone and retrieved her compass. She twisted the outer ring so the panel containing the swirling wind symbol was at the top. Then, with a final wave, she turned and left.

Link reset his compass to search for Kid's. He began to follow it. After ten minutes it had led him into a hallway that was slightly different than the others. Instead of grass the floor was littered with dirt and broken tiles. Some were whole, while others were barely half of what they used to be.

Skeptical of the sight, Link chose to tread carefully. There was most likely a trap lying in wait. As he stepped over the shattered tiles, he kept an eye out for anything suspicious. When he got about halfway to the other side, he stepped on a tile that happened to be intact. This set off mayhem. Every tile that wasn't broken magically picked itself off the ground and launched at Link. He dodged the first few but was forced to use his shield to block the rest. Some of the possessed tiles aimed for his legs, but Link saw this coming and deftly jumped out of the way, letting the tiles smash themselves against the wall behind him.

As Link progressed he continuously found himself running into traps. He was finding that Tetra had been right. The traps were quite meddlesome even though it was fairly easy to avoid most of them. Finally he turned a corner and found a door. The door was a square slab of earth colored stone with vines clinging to it. When Link was close enough he brushed off the vegetation and lifted up the door. He walked through before it came crashing down behind him.

The new room confused him a little. A wall of stone stood proudly to his left while the rest of the room curved to his right, forming barely half of a crescent. Various sizes and colors of mushrooms dangled from the ceiling like nature-made chandeliers, providing the area with its only light. He noticed the polished floor that held a strange jade green and gray foundation, appeared to drop off, aiding the less impressive walls in creating the curve of the room. He could see that there was another section of floor beyond the blackness of what he supposed was a chasm. Link walked around to the other side of the room where a log stretched across the wide expanse of nothingness that separated the two pieces of solid ground from each other.

Placing a hesitant foot on the unstable looking log, Link winced as it groaned under the small amount of weight he forced on it. The log was flimsy to say the least, and using it as a bridge probably wasn't the wisest choice, but it was the only thing he had to work with. Link stepped fully onto the make-shift bridge, and it protested a little but didn't give. He hoped it was stronger than it looked for his sake. Precariously balancing on the thin log, Link took a small step forward, praying that the dead tree would sustain his weight. Either his prayers were heard, or he was just extremely lucky. Whatever the case, Link managed to make it to the other side without the log collapsing.

Once he was on solid ground again, he took in his new surroundings. The section he was trapped on now was narrower than the last. Another break separated an even smaller crescent shaped perch from where he stood. A small sign stood on the small crescent shaped floor, but it was too minuscule to make out any letters, let alone words. This time there was no insubstantial branch to serve as an adequate bridge, so he truly had no way to cross to view the sign. It was a shame since it was probably important. Forced to put his curiosity at the back of his mind, Link walked along the floor he was provided with, noting how the traction was poor as he frequently slid across the smooth, slick surface.

He eventually made it to where the wall of stone had separated him from the rest of the floor in the beginning. A door identical to the one he had come through was on the other side. Another stone wall caused the section to resemble a cube. He could see Tetra leaning against one of the stone walls on the other side, and he called her name to get her attention.

"How did you get over there?!" Tetra shouted back to him.

"There was a log that stretched across the gap. I just balanced on it and walked across," Link replied.

"That's nice. How do Kid and I get across then?" Tetra challenged him, hands on hips in her usual bossy manner.

"Where is Kid?" Link inquired. Tetra pointed to her left which, from his angle, was right. Link shifted his position, so he could see past the other stone barrier. This section was identical to Tetra's, but Kid was waiting there instead. From the distance they were at he couldn't make out details, but he thought he saw a spot of red on Kid's tunic.

"Hey, Link, do you think you could move that log you used over here?" Kid asked, raising his voice to be heard.

"Don't know, but I'll try. Hang on," Link answered him, sheepishly noting in his head how he hadn't even thought of trying to reposition the log. He made his way to where he had first stepped onto the second section of floor and bent down to examine the unstable thing. He tried to pick it up, but it seemed to be stuck. Link kicked it, hoping to dislodge it from its spot on the floor. However, his abuse did nothing to faze it, and it stayed stubbornly where it was. After numerous attempts to lift it or get it to budge at all, Link finally stopped trying, realizing that the log was held there by some type of magic force so moving it was a fool's dream.

He returned to where Kid and Tetra could both see him empty-handed.

"I'm taking that it didn't work?" Tetra wondered.

"No, Tetra, it did work. It's just invisible," Link said sarcastically.

"Invisible…hey! That's a good idea!" Kid exclaimed suddenly.

"I was being sarcastic," Link reminded him.

"I know, but I'm talking about a different way across," Kid responded, appearing to study the compass he held in his hand.

"And what would that be?" Link inquired, curious as to what Kid was getting at.

"Well, I have my compass set to find yours and it seems to have directions for me, meaning there is a path, but we just can't see it," Kid explained.

"Oh yeah! I see what you mean," Tetra nodded from the other side, inspecting her own compass.

"So you're implying that there's an invisible path of some sort stretching across the gap? I'd rather you test that theory first," Link said, eyeing the abyss that separated them. He estimated it to be about twenty feet, maybe a little more.

"I'll test it," Tetra volunteered, stepping closer to the edge. She kept a close eye on her compass, and after seeming to double and triple check it, she hesitantly hovered her foot over the blackness as if she was about to step off. She brought her foot down, and Link held his breath hoping that Kid's theory was true.

As soon as Tetra's foot was level with the visible ground it struck something solid. Much like ripples of water when a pebble is thrown into a calm pool, rainbow colors spread out from the place she had touched the invisible platform. The colors formed a large square tile which glowed with a cool iridescent light. Tetra stepped completely off of the polished floor and onto the new tile.

"There really are hidden tiles!" Tetra announced walking around the entire platform as if to prove it was real. A few seconds later she nearly fell off of the tile when it shook unexpectedly as if it was about to fall out from underneath her.

"Tetra get off of it!" Link advised her. She consulted her compass briefly before hopping over to where she assumed the next tile was. She happened to be correct, and another tile alighted under her feet. The previous one disappeared as soon as she stepped off of it. Link watched as Tetra followed the path the compass laid out for her, going as fast as she could since the tiles seemed to time out if she paused on one for too long. When she was a little more than halfway across she misjudged the exact placement of the next floating tile in her haste. She teetered on the edge, attempting to right herself. Just when she had almost managed to regain her balance the tile rumbled a warning.

This knocked her completely off balance, and she fell forward off of the tile with a scream, barely managing to tighten her grip on her compass. Instead of watching her fall, Link took action, whipping out his clawshot and firing it so fast that he couldn't process that he'd even done it until Tetra slammed into him. He slid back a couple feet, but managed to stay standing.

"What is wrong with you?" Tetra demanded, immediately pushing herself away from him.

"Oh excuse me. I didn't know you had a death wish," Link returned, slightly annoyed she was arguing with him. Seriously, was he supposed to let her fall?

"I don't have a death wish!" Tetra shot back hotly, crossing her arms and glaring at him. "I meant, why didn't you do that sooner? You know, before I risked my life stepping on invisible tiles?"

Link looked down at the weapon in his hand and then back at Tetra, "I…don't know. I just thought of it."

Tetra rolled her eyes. "Whatever, just get Kid over here."

"Hey, Kid! I'm going to pull you over to me, okay?" Link announced, waving his clawshot in the air, so Kid could see it.

"No, don't do that!" Kid called to him and Link lowered the weapon, "I'll just go by the tiles."

"Why must you do everything the hard way?" Tetra shouted back to him.

"I'm not trying to be difficult. It's just that I don't think it'd be good for me to get whipped around like that at the moment," Kid explained. Link wondered if that meant that the wound was worse than he thought. He hoped not since he really couldn't do much of anything for Kid even if they did regroup. They hadn't heard from Zelda in a while, and she was the only one with potions.

"Fine, then watch your compass closely. Once the tile you're standing on starts to shake you have about ten seconds to get on the next one before it falls," Tetra informed him.

"Got it," Kid nodded before stepping on the first rainbow tile. He consulted his compass a couple times before moving on to the next one. Overall, he progressed slower than Tetra, but this didn't seem to make anything more difficult. Actually, now that he thought about it, Tetra had been a little too hasty. He knew that she contained a significant amount of temerity, but she usually had some sort of unspoken plan in her head before she went ahead with anything. Link glanced at Tetra out of the corner of his eye. She was standing with her arms crossed, staring moodily out at the gap, watching Kid make his way across. She almost looked like she was swaying on her feet.

"Hey, Tetra, are you alright?" Link asked her, daring to take his eyes off of Kid for a few seconds.

"Huh?" Tetra glanced at him before turning her attention back to Kid. "Oh yeah. I'm okay." He noticed that as she said this she tried to subtly plant her feet on the ground, so she was steady.

She appeared to be okay except for a few minor scratches, but Link suddenly wasn't so sure. He'd noticed that she'd been acting a little different than usual. Link wondered if it was because of yesterday. If it was, he didn't really know how to console her, and that was if she wanted to be consoled which, knowing her, she probably didn't.

Link, turning his attention back to Kid, decided to mind his own business. She was most likely fine, and he was over-reacting because he knew that Kid was hurt. After all, she'd just almost fallen into an abyss. Anyone would be a little shaky after that experience.

After a few agonizing minutes Kid made it safely across the gap. To Link's dismay he noticed that there was indeed a spot of red clashing with the lively green of Kid's tunic.

"How did that happen?" Link wondered, indicating Kid's injured side.

"Uh, the redead kind of grabbed me when I was frozen and…this happened," Kid explained shortly.

"Okay, c'mon then," Link sighed, feeling helpless, "Let's find Zelda because I don't have any potions on me at the moment, which reminds me, before we attempt the next temple we're restocking on potions and everyone is going to be carrying at least one with them at all times."

"Alright, but the princess isn't here yet," Kid said distancing himself from the edge and joining Link and Tetra in the middle.

"How do you know that?" Link questioned him.

"Because, my door slammed shut behind me, and Tetra's did the same, as did yours. I never heard a fourth slam, so she can't be here yet," Kid concluded.

"She wasn't informed of the plan so naturally she'd be the last one to arrive," Tetra spoke up.

It was then that Link noticed something else. Link wasn't positive, but he thought that he also saw spots of scarlet dotting the front rim of Kid's long hat that was much like his own, except less complex. "Hey Kid, come here a second," Link ordered him, wondering if he was seeing things. Kid complied, and Link reached out his hand to lightly touch the questionable spot on the side of Kid's head. Kid instantly recoiled with a yelp, hovering his hands over the area that Link had touched.

"Owwww….okay I forgot to mention the other part of it," Kid admitted with a groan.

"Which was…" Link prompted him, dreading the answer.

"Well, when the redead grabbed me I tried to get free, but it didn't want to let me go, and so to make me stay still it kind of slammed me back into the wall…" Kid explained, gingerly touching the sore spot and wincing when it stung. A sudden urge to find the redead and kill it again came over him.

It subsided after a moment or two though, and Link spoke up, "I hope Zelda gets here soon then."

"It's not that bad," Kid insisted. "I didn't get hit that hard."

"Not that bad…" Link trailed off, incredulous, "It is bad! You're bleeding from your head and your side!"

"Not that much," Kid argued. Link honestly couldn't believe that they were debating the topic. A slam of a door halted Link's next retort in its tracks.

The threesome hurried to the other side of the partial crescent they were perched on. Zelda could be seen on the other side of the room. The distance was too great to attempt to be heard, and besides that, he didn't want to startle her. There appeared to be two logs almost identical to the one he'd used to cross on her side. Zelda made her way across the first log, and once she got to the end she finally noticed them. She waved and they waved back. Link motioned for her to come closer.

She complied by stepping onto the second unstable-looking log and balancing her way across. Once she stepped off of it and onto the last and smallest crescent-shaped floor, she made her way around so she was closer, although another gap of roughly twenty feet separated them.

Link quickly summed up the situation and announced it to the princess. Once she had agreed to stand still while they crossed the abyss, Link, Tetra, and Kid set their compasses for Zelda's. Link glanced down at his compass. The needle pointed slightly to the right on a diagonal which made him a bit skeptical of where the invisible platform exactly was. He located it to the best of his ability and hesitantly stepped on the spot he thought was safe. Luckily for him, he was correct and a multi-colored tile came to life under his feet. He immediately noticed that the surface was slick just like that of the visible floor, only slightly less so.

The other compasses seemed to be indicating the same path, and Link wondered if there really was only one. Kid and Tetra stepped onto the same platform. The tile was big enough to accommodate them all but just barely. They all looked to their compasses for the next step. The needle pointed straight ahead so they complied. The following direction was unclear. Link's compass was spinning wildly as if it had no clue where to go. Suddenly it stopped and pointed slightly to the right. He tried to follow it as best as he could, but when his experiment nearly sent him falling off the edge of the platform he retreated slightly.

"This is why I fell," Tetra spoke up in an annoyed tone. "The stupid compass isn't very clear in its directions."

"I had a few of these. It means that the next tile is jumping distance away," Kid commented. Suddenly the tile protested under their weight, shaking as if trying to discard them.

Link stabled himself as best as he could before jumping over to where he hoped the next tile was. The iridescent square alighted underneath him, and Link slid a little across the surface. Tetra jumped over next, nearly sliding into Link with the momentum behind her jump. Kid came over last, and he almost didn't jump far enough. He made it with mere centimeters to spare and only then did Link refocus his attention on his compass.

The predetermined path laid out for them by an inanimate object was full of zigzags and confusing turns. Sometimes it seemed that they were doubling back before they got on the right track again. After what seemed like forever they made it safely to the other side.

Zelda had a potion ready and gave it to Kid. Unlike the red potion she'd whipped out before, this one was blue. She claimed that she no longer had any red potion left, but the blue one should work better anyway. Link knew that she was right from his own experiences with the medicine, but he wouldn't doubt her anyway.

After Kid had finished the potion and Zelda was checking his wounds to make sure they had closed up, Link wandered over to the sign he had noticed earlier. A message was written there.

‘To those whose souls are touched by the hands of courage: Jump into the darkness and let it carry thee below.’

Link looked past the sign. A circular pit was laid out before him. He supposed that it was safe to do as the sign indicated since an invisible platform was probably placed over the darkness as a make-shift safety net. However, for some reason the notion seemed false in his mind.

"What's the sign say?" Tetra asked, coming up behind him suddenly and startling him.

"Uh…it says to jump," Link stuttered, summing up the caption and wondering why Tetra didn't read it herself if she wanted to know.

"Down there?" Tetra wondered, indicating the large ring of black with a nod of her head.

"I think so," Link confirmed, peering down into the darkness.

"Okay, then let's go," Tetra said, preparing to jump down. Link grabbed her arm and pulled her back from the edge.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Link announced.

"Why not?" Tetra wanted to know, yanking her arm out of his grasp in a huff. Without warning the ground shook, and they all fought to keep their balance. From out of the black pit in front of them a monster shot up. It looked similar to a deku baba, but its size nearly matched that of the massive creature Link had fought so long ago in the Forest Temple.

"That's why," Link answered cheekily. Tetra just scowled at him as they took a few steps back from the monstrosity, drawing their weapons. It let out what Link assumed to be a battle cry and turned to face them. The deku baba-like creature opened its mouth wide, showing off its large rows of pointed teeth. Instead of lunging forward like he expected it to, the monster launched a bunch of tiny seeds at them. The bullets traveled swiftly and hit hard. Link brandished his shield in front of him as a means of defense. A second later he realized that Tetra had no way to defend herself from the assault and moved in front of her as best as he could without lowering his guard.

The projectiles panged off of his shield to an undecided rhythm. Once the pellets ceased Link glanced behind him to check on Tetra who he hoped was alright since he hadn't blocked her immediately. To his dismay he found her lying on the ground. For a split second he thought that she was unconscious, but fortunately, that didn't seem to be the case. She picked herself up a little, looking dazed.

Link glanced back at the monster to find it had turned its attention to Kid and the princess a little ways away. He lowered his shield and hurried over to Tetra, kneeling down next to her.

"I…I'm okay," Tetra informed him, shaking her head a little to clear it.

"Are you sure?" Link checked. He wasn't sure how hard she'd been hit or how many times. Tetra attempted to stand up but stumbled and nearly fell. Link caught her before she could hit the ground and lowered her back to the floor. He didn't understand her condition. She couldn't have been hit that hard, right? Sure, the seeds were hard and they were traveling fast, so they'd certainly leave a few bruises, but he didn't think them capable of something like this.

"Where did you get hit?" Link asked her, hoping to get an answer that would explain her current state.

"Just a few times in my arms and legs. I'm okay, really," Tetra responded, shifting away from him slightly, evidently not comfortable with him touching her. He was afraid to release her though since she seemed to be struggling to stay sitting up.

"Link," Zelda called to him. He could hear her approaching and turned to look. "Let me take care of her. You and Kid handle the monster," Zelda said, taking charge. Link and Zelda switched places, and he quickly made his way over to Kid who had just finished blocking another one of the creature's seed attacks.

"What happened to Tetra?" Kid wanted to know, moving closer to Link.

"I don't know. She got hit a few times. Zelda's with her now though, so she should be fine," Link explained. "Let's take care of this thing for now." The younger boy nodded his agreement, and they turned to face their foe.

The plant monster lunged forward, and they scattered to opposite sides to avoid it. Link slid a little but quickly regained his footing. The floor was almost as slick as ice and was by no means a decent place for a physical fight of any kind. From the side view, Link noticed the vine posing as its narrow body attached to the head for the first time. It was a dark green color with purple thorns traveling up its length. Numerous green tendrils held its head in place at the back. If they could find a way to cut the vines then surely they would defeat it.

Just as Link was about to take out his gale boomerang, the creature drew back, and he lost his chance to do anything productive. They would have to wait for it to snap at them again.

"When it comes forward again, use your boomerang and aim for the vines right at the back of its head," Link instructed Kid as they regrouped.

Before Kid could reply, the monstrosity unleashed another attack. It was much like the one Link and Tetra had been bombarded with before, and both boys raised their shields as the tiny projectiles flew towards them. When the attack ceased, the monster stayed where it was, bobbing up and down slightly and eyeing them as if trying to determine the best angle to strike at.

After a few seconds it made up its mind and lunged. Link and Kid evaded it and whipped out their boomerangs. The gale boomerang kicked up a small tornado of wind as it traveled towards its destination. It severed some of the vines at the back of the creature's head and the monster screeched in pain. Kid's bright yellow boomerang cut through the air like a knife and cut most of the vines. It appeared to be more effective than Link's wind based weapon.

The deku-baba-like monster retreated, its head barely attached to the stem posing as its body. However angry it was at them, it seemed incapable of changing tactics. Link was actually glad that it didn't have any tricks up its nonexistent sleeves. He wanted this thing dead as soon as possible.

The seeds ricocheted harmlessly off of his shield. Shortly after this attack it charged them once again. Link aimed and threw his boomerang from one side while Kid threw his own from the other. The final thin green tendrils holding the head in place were detached. Instantly the monster turned black as if it had been burned in a devastating fire. It crumbled to ash and that was the end of its existence.

"Wow, that went smoother than expected," Kid commented.

"That's a good thing. Don't complain about it," Link said.

"I'm not," Kid assured him. Link looked behind him, his eyes searching for the girls. He was surprised to find them both walking towards him and Kid.

"What was wrong a few minutes ago?" Link asked Tetra once they had come close enough. She looked completely fine, as if she wasn't half conscious just a few minutes ago.

Tetra shrugged, "Nothing really. I told you that I was okay. I just needed to catch my breath." Link turned his gaze on the princess for validity of this statement.

"That's somewhat true," Zelda admitted.

"What do you mean somewhat?" Kid wondered.

"When we were waiting at the spring I filled up the empty bottles with spring water since I didn't have a chance to restock the potions. As soon as I gave her some of the water she perked up, so obviously there was something wrong and still is," Zelda explained.

"What do you mean still is?" Tetra inquired in a haughty tone, "There's nothing wrong with me. I feel better than before."

"The spring water only heals wounds and replenishes energy for a short period of time. You weren't wounded, not enough to cause you to collapse anyway, so you must have been lacking energy. What's the reason for this?" Zelda challenged her.

Tetra bit her lip, seeming to be reluctant to answer. After a few seconds she appeared to come to the conclusion that no one was going to say anything until she did. Finally she sighed and replied, "I haven't been sleeping that well lately, alright?" Link couldn't believe his own ignorance. How hadn't he noticed? It was more than that though, he realized. Why hadn't Tetra said anything? He knew that she was independent and all, but that didn't seem like a good enough reason for her to say nothing.

"You should have said so," Zelda stated. "I have a sleeping potion in my bag. I sometimes get restless nights too so I usually have something on me."

"Oh…" Tetra trailed off.

"Now I feel bad about waking you up earlier," Kid told Tetra. Link hadn't even known that she'd been sleeping earlier.

Tetra waved it off, "It's fine. I probably wouldn't have stayed asleep that long anyway."

"Well, when we finish this place, you're going to rest," Link informed her and to his shock she actually nodded her head in agreement. She always opposed him, never agreed with him. It must be bad then. Link decided he was going to try to pay more attention to his companions since he was obviously missing a lot. Although, this wasn't entirely his fault. Tetra was too deceptive for her own good.

"We should try to finish soon," Zelda cut in. "As I said before, the effects are temporary when the problem isn't wound based."

"Okay, well, I'm guessing we still have to jump down there to progress, and it should be safe now since you guys defeated that thing," Tetra said, pointing to the large hole beyond the sign. They all approached the edge and peered down. The way was still dark, but Link was almost certain that he could see a speck of light at the bottom.

"I'll go first I guess," Link sighed.

"Why can't I go first?" Tetra wanted to know.

"Because we don't know what's down there. There could be more of those monsters, and if there are you have no means of defense," Link explained to her.

"Are you sure we're meant to jump down there?" Zelda inquired, regarding the large hole with uncertainty.

"Read the sign," Link told her, "It said to."

"You're going by what a sign said?" Zelda asked, her voice rising slightly in disbelief.

"Ultimately, yes," Link answered.

"Is that really wise?"

"Probably not, but do you know of a better option because I'm open to suggestions."

"No…I suppose I don't."

"Look, if someone doesn't jump soon, I'm going for it," Tetra interrupted them.

"I'm going first, then you guys can jump down after me in whatever order you want," Link announced. He stepped closer to the edge before anyone had time to respond, and, after briefly wondering what he got himself into, jumped.

As the darkness closed in around him Link began to realize how stupid this seemed. He wasn't even sure if there really was anything at the bottom, yet he had jumped anyway. After a few more seconds of the wind failing to catch him, his eyes drank in a bright white light. He hit something, but it wasn't ground.

Instead it was rather bouncy, and after a few times of being thrown a little ways up into the air and back down again, he settled on it, although it still trembled a little beneath him. As his eyes adjusted he realized that he was perched on a giant mushroom top. It looked similar to the ones he had seen earlier, except bigger, and its color was a milky white. Link somehow managed to find the end and slid off of it. He touched down on a dirt floor and turned around to look up. From down here, he could clearly distinguish the opening he'd fallen through, despite the darkness that lay in between.

"It's safe; you can come down!" Link called up to his companions, hoping that they could hear him. A few seconds later the mushroom jiggled and white spores were kicked up before settling down on the ground and winking out of existence.

"Where are you?" Tetra's voice asked.

"Over here," Link said, backing up a little to try to make it easier for her to see him. Tetra soon appeared at the edge of the bulbous mushroom. She jumped off of it and joined him on the ground.

"Okay, someone else can come down now!" Tetra shouted up to the other two. Kid came down shortly after and Zelda followed him. Once everyone was safely on the ground they looked around the new area. Overall, it wasn't much to look at. The large white mushroom was the only notable thing in the room, and it was also what seemed to provide the most light.

Link took out his lantern so they would have a more reliable light source. Shining its fiery gaze around the room, Link uncovered a door beneath the darkness. They wandered over to it only to find that it was sealed shut. It was covered in vines and moss, but this nuisance was easily discarded. However, the lock and chain around it wasn't as easily tossed aside.

"Look around, the key must be here somewhere," Link ordered them, setting his lantern down, so it cast a warm orange glow around the relatively small room. For the next few minutes, they all searched for the key. A couple times the notion crossed his mind that they had missed it somewhere in the maze, but he was quick to deny the thought, knowing that they had no way to get back up to where they were before to try to find it if it really was there.

Link pushed aside vegetation that sprouted from the wall like the drooping leaves of a weeping willow tree. They concealed nothing behind or entangled in their cage of leaves and prickling vines. He turned his attention to the soil covering the ground. It was hard packed, and he toyed with the idea of the key being buried. Before he could entertain the idea too much, Zelda announced that she had found something.

"Is it the key?" Link asked, making his way over to her.

"No, but it might be a clue," Zelda replied, stepping aside so he could see what she had found. Set into the wall, mingling with the dirt and sprawling vines, were a few faded bricks. Link tried to pull the middle one out, but couldn't get a good grip on it. He moved aside some of the greenery, to give himself easier access to the brick. He hadn't noticed bricks anywhere else in the room, so it must be significant.

Link tried to wrestle the thing free once again and succeeded in moving it out from its place a little. He continued pulling, stopping a few times to brush off excess dirt in an attempt to loosen it even more. After a couple minutes he managed to remove the brick, leaving a hole in its place. Link was about to put the brick down so he could investigate but something suddenly shot out of the hole, and he dropped the brick in surprise, jumping back along with everyone else who had leaned closer to see.

A rat scuttled across the ground, and Link noticed that Zelda attempted to distance herself from it, apparently not a big fan of the rodent family. Once the creature's curiosity carried it too close to the princess, she drew her sword. This didn't seem to deter it though and it continued skittering across on its determined path towards the princess who slashed it when it tried to jump on her. The rat's life was quickly ended, but that didn't stop Zelda from nearly losing her regal demeanor.

Normally, Link would tease her about it, but since they were pressed for time, he chose not to do so. Instead he turned back to the small hole in the wall and tugged out another brick, trying to make access easier. Thankfully, nothing came crawling out of this new opening.

"Someone bring the light closer so I can see," Link said to no one in particular as he slid out another block and set it on the ground. Kid had grabbed the lantern from the relative center of the room and came towards where it illumination was needed most. Kid held it high so Link could see better than before.

The light revealed both welcoming and unwelcoming sights. First and foremost, the key was nestled at the back of the hole, which actually wasn't that deep. However, what lay between him and the key he could do without. He didn't know how old this temple was, but judging by the many cobwebs insulating the wall, he thought it was safe to say that it was pretty ancient. Decent sized spiders that he couldn't safely distinguish as dead or alive inhabited the space as well. He counted a total of seven. Of course, he'd fought spiders bigger than himself before so this sight shouldn't have daunted him. Still, he was reluctant to reach inside and grab the silver key at the back.

"What's in there?" Kid asked, standing on tiptoe and craning his neck to try to see. The attempt was futile though since he wasn't tall enough. In fact, Link was barely tall enough and was almost forced to stand on tiptoe to see inside.

"The key, among other things," Link answered vaguely. No one dared ask what the "other things" were, and Link was glad since that would just make him think about it even more. Instead he ordered Kid to give him the lantern and step back. Kid obliged and took a few steps back to be on the safe side.

With the lantern in his right hand Link reached inside the wall with his left and quickly trapped the key in his hand. He pulled it out and shook out his hand to get the sticky webs off. Most of them had lost their glue-like abilities and fluttered to the ground along with any clinging spiders.

"Link, there's a spider on your shoulder," Zelda calmly announced.

He could deal with spiders, but not when they were crawling all over him. His reaction was probably more dramatic than needed, but he didn't care if he looked like an idiot as long as he got the creepy arachnid got off of him. After a few seconds he heard his companions laughing but thought nothing of it as he jumped around the room like a lunatic. Only when the fits of laughter continued did he stop and realize that there was nothing on him and had never been in the first place. He turned his gaze on the princess who he could see was smiling and trying to act like she'd never been laughing at his expense, while it was quite obvious that she had been. Kid was still laughing a little and Tetra was struggling to compose herself, crossing her arms and looking at nothing to try to give off the impression that she was bored.

Link walked over to retrieve his lantern and the key from where he had dropped them in his panic. Once he had them, he turned to Zelda. "Well played, princess," he declared.

"Thank you," Zelda nodded her head to him in acknowledgement before turning on her heel and strolling towards the door that they now had access to. Suddenly, he regretted not saying anything about the rat.

With nothing else to do Link followed Zelda to the door. Kid fell into step beside him, still snickering, and Link nudged him forward saying, "Quiet you, it's not funny!"

"It is though! Your face was hilarious!" Kid exclaimed, as he took the hint and hurried up his pace.

"He's not wrong, you know," Tetra said, her tone indifferent as she passed by him. Link shot Zelda a look of disapproval. The cloaked princess simply shrugged, a small smile hinting at the corners of her mouth.

Link was the last to join them at the locked door. He inserted the silver key into the lock and was rewarded with a satisfying click as the mechanism unlocked. With nothing to support them the lock and its chains fell to the ground in a heap. The door opened of its own accord, and they all peered inside. The room appeared to be like the rest of the temple, well-lit in select areas, relatively dark in others.

Without any other options they all entered the new room. To no one's surprise, the door slammed shut behind them, sealing off all means of escape. It was hard to tell the exact shape of the room since walls were placed up all around it like a maze. If he had to guess the overall shape, he'd say that it was a large circle judging by the curving walls and the symbol on the floor in the beginning of the temple.

To their left, a deep rumble sounded, and they turned to look. Darkness blocked their view of the source. An instant later a single glowing yellow eye cut through the darkness. Its pupil was ringed by a perfect circle of green complimented with red on the edges. This wouldn't be particularly intimidating if it wasn't for the fact that the eye was about twice the size of Link's ball and chain weapon.

The single eye blinked once, and, without uttering a battle cry, the guardian charged out of the depths of the shadows.


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