Chapter Seven: Spiders and Swimming Lessons
"Link, wait up!" Reena called out, running her hardest to keep up. However, her pleas seemed only whispers in the wind. It was only the forest. Why was he so frantic? She nearly ran into him when he suddenly froze. Reena looked around, wondering what on Hyrule could make him stop. She felt her veins run cold as she looked at the forest.
Tree houses were on fire and children ran everywhere, screaming. Stalfos ran around, laughing and attacking the children. Reena could only watch in horror. She looked at Link who seemed to be dead. She slowly saw his shock turn into anger and he pulled his sword out. Reena pulled her two out, knowing he wasn't going to formulate a plan. 'Hack 'em to pieces' seemed his plan of choice at the present moment.
"We need to free the Kokiri before any are killed," Link said as they rushed forward, killing any Stalfos in their path. Reena nodded and they split up. She ran up the hill to her right, running into the burning house. Inside she found three children cornered by a Stalfos. It was laughing menacingly and had its sword risen. Reena somersaulted through the air and slashed at the Stalfos.
"Run!" she told the Kokiri.
They were all too happy to oblige. Reena ducked as the Stalfos swung at her. A rafter fell on it and Reena dug her sword into its head, running out before the house collapsed on her. She looked around and saw no sign of Link. She bit her lip and pointed her hands at the tree house. Instantly the flames disappeared and purple smoke told her the Stalfos was dead. Reena ran down the hill going to the next inferno. She climbed up the ladder and froze when she saw a message etched on the outside:
Welcome to Link's house!
Reena read the sign again but it said the same thing. Link? Was this…no! He had a family…didn't he? It must be someone else.
"Reena! No one's in there!" Link called up.
Reena took no time in jumping down and joining Link. It seemed to take forever, but soon the Stalfos were gone and the houses were no longer infernos. Reena leaned against one of the tree houses, letting out a sigh of exhaustion. She looked around the forest and had a feeling that it didn't always look like this.
Reena looked for Link and saw him holding one of the Kokiri. Reena was startled to see how pale he was. Reena ran to his side, kneeling next to him. A girl with…green hair was in his arms. She had a long cut running across her chest and her breathing was ragged.
"I can treat this," Reena said, looking up at Link. "I can save her."
Link nodded, his gaze distant. "We can take her to my house."
Wouldn't that be too far away? Reena didn't question the matter and followed Link. She was shocked when they entered the tree house that Reena had sworn was not his. Link laid the girl on the bed and Reena took a seat on the floor next to the green haired girl. She took from her shirt one of her vials.
Link left and returned a moment later with three Kokiri who had bandages, warm water, and an assortment of herbs. Reena took the water and bandages, cleaning the wound. She then poured the liquid in the remaining water and soaked a clean bandage in it. After it was soaked in the orange liquid, Reena wrapped it around the girl's wound. Reena checked the girls pulse and smiled as it beat stronger. She turned to the others and smiled.
"She'll be fine," Reena answered.
A sigh came from everyone. Reena stood, hitting her head on the ceiling. She cursed and heard the Kokiri giggle. Odd name for the children. She followed Link outside who had stayed quiet the whole time.
"By the way, welcome to my home," Link said quietly. Reena looked at him and saw anger burning in his eyes. "Ganondorf must have found out. He attacked Saria on purpose."
"Where are Saria's parents?" Reena asked. "Shouldn't they be-"
"She doesn't have parents," Link answered. A small smile came at Reena's confusion. "The Kokiri never grow up. They will stay children all their lives."
"But…you grew up," Reena said, eyeing him. "At least…I think you did."
"Yes, I did because I'm not a Kokiri," Link answered. "I'm Hylian. I was raised here, but my parents were both Hylian."
Reena looked at him, realizing just how little she knew about Link. How come he was raised here? Where were his parents? Before she could ask, Link was on his feet.
"I need to see the Great Deku Tree," Link said, jumping down instead of using the ladder. Reena followed his pursuit and was wondering what the Great Deku Tree when they stopped. Reena eyed the tree in front of her and her mouth dropped when Link began talking to it.
"Great Deku Tree, are you alright?" he asked, walking up to the tree. Reena's mouth fell open some more as a face appeared and smiled at Link. Even though it was only a tree…Reena could see that it was in pain.
"Are the Kokiri?" the Great Deku Tree rumbled. Link nodded slowly, swallowing hard. "Then I am alright."
"What happened?" Link answered, placing a hand on the bark of the tree. "What's happened to you?"
"An evil plant has infested my roots," he said sadly. A few more dead leaves floated to the ground. "I knew you would return on day."
A painful smile came to Link's face. "I've returned often. Just under no one's consent. I couldn't have…this…happen. Great Deku Tree, let me inside."
Reena wondered how on Hyrule he was planning to get inside a tree. But then again, it was a talking tree so anything could happen. The tree sighed and opened its mouth. Reena hurried next to Link who stood in front of the opening as if he had all year. He cast a sideways glance at her.
"You don't have to come," Link told her quietly. Reena eyed him.
"I told you I was in this with you," she answered.
Link nodded and the two stepped inside. Reena looked around, eyeing the interior. A shriek made her start and looking around widely. Her eyes rested on Link who was extracting his blade from a thrashing plant. It froze and the familiar departing smoke appeared.
Link touched the walls of the Great Deku Tree, anger pulsing through him. He touched the ugly vines branching along the walls and recoiled. It was oozing a purple serum and it pulsed. Link looked above and scowled. It was too dark to see all the way to the top. He needed a light….
"Hey, need some help?" came a small voice. Link whipped around to see a familiar blue light. His face broke into a smile.
"You always come in handy when the time is dire," Link said. "I can't see all the way up there and need a light."
Navi rolled her eyes. "I meant in fighting."
"Just get up there," Link said, shaking his head. Navi sighed and flew to the top. Reena joined his side.
"Er, what's that?" she asked.
"An old friend," Link said with a small smile. "She used to be my fairy. All Kokiri have them. However, once I grew up, she left and returned to the forest."
It was true. She didn't know anything about him. They kept their eyes on the blue light as it grew smaller and smaller. It stopped and a small scream echoed.
"Is this some sort of payback?" Navi demanded.
"What's up there?" Link called.
"An insect that's ready to digest me!" Navi answered. "Thanks a lot! I'm glad to see you too!"
"Oh, quiet! You can't die!" Link shouted up, pulling his bow out. "Go to where it is. I need something to aim at."
"You're going to shoot at me?" Navi cried.
"Technically speaking," Link said, fitting an arrow and aiming at her. He fired and watched as Navi zoomed out of the way. A shriek answered Link's deadly aim. Cracking could be heard. Navi zoomed back to Link's side and the three watched as something groaned and cracked its way towards them.
"I…er…don't like the sound of that," Reena said.
"Who's she?" Navi asked.
"Reena, Navi," Link said quickly. "Navi, Reena. Introduction over. Let's worry about this thing!"
"I agree," Reena said as the fairy eyed her uneasily. She pulled her double swords out, sliding closer to Link.
"A Gerudo?" Navi asked. "Link, just what-"
"Navi…I'm a little more worried about the thing that is infesting the Great Deku Tree," Link said through gritted teeth. Navi let out an impatient sighed and crossed her arms.
"What is that thing?" Reena muttered.
A long leg dropped down, followed by another, and another. Soon eight legs were in front of them. A head came from the darkness and glared at them with many eyes. It thrashed its pincers threateningly and took a step closer to them.
"That…is the biggest spider…I have ever seen in my entire life," Reena said.
"Same here," Link answered breathlessly. "I hate spiders. Of everything it could have been, it's a spider."
"I didn't know that," Reena said, rolling out of the way as the spider tried to step on them. "You're scared of spiders? After all you've gone against, you don't like spiders?"
"Well, do you find this thing very amusing?" Link demanded, slashing at the spider's leg. Reena thought for a moment, hitting the pincers away from her leg with her sword.
"No," she said finally. "But I do now because you're afraid of it."
"I am not afraid of it!" Link said sharply. "I just don't enjoy its presence!"
"You're afraid, admit it!" Reena sang, sliding under the spiders belly and slashing at its gut. The beast cried out in pain and a stinger suddenly protruded from its body. Reena gasped and rolled again and again.
"Do you think getting out of there is a good idea?" Link demanded.
"I'm trying!" Reena snapped, avoiding the stinger again. She sliced at the spider's leg, watching it fall to the ground. The spider shrieked in pain and Reena took the opportunity to get out from underneath the animal. Link shook his head and joined her side.
"Alright, should we do this the right way?" he asked.
"Fine," Reena muttered. Link nodded and charged, Reena flanking him. The familiar dance over took them. The two became a blur, never ceasing in their parries. Again and again the spider lurched with pain. Metal sung through the air and screams answered.
"One more hit and I think it's gone," Reena said, sweat dripping down her face. Link nodded and waited. She looked at him. "You do it. It's your home after all."
Link gave her a small smile and stepped forward. The spider lunged at him, pincers clicking furiously. It froze and its many eyes looked down. Blood dripped from its mouth, running down the blade of the Master Sword. It tried shrieking, but its mouth was being cut up. Pain burst as the blade was pushed farther into its head. Link pulled the sword out and watched as the spider swayed and fell. The familiar smoke engulfed the beast and when it cleared, the vines shriveled into nothing. Link stood there, sword in hand. He heard Reena walk up next to him and felt her hand rest on his shoulder.
"I liked that finishing move," she said thoughtfully.
"Thanks," he said quietly. He felt her put pressure on his shoulder. He gave her a small smile. Another weight landed on his shoulder and Link looked over at Navi.
"Good job," she said, grinning. "The Great Deku Tree will want to see you."
The three exited and Link felt relief wash over him as he saw the ugly gray leave the Great Deku Tree's bark. New leaves sprouted from his branches and cries of joy could be heard. Link felt the Great Deku Tree's smiling gaze upon him as the Kokiri surrounded him and Reena. They were laughing and jumping in dizzy circles. Link looked over at Reena and saw that she couldn't help but smile.
"Thank you! Thank you!" they sang.
Link gave them a small smile. With a look at Reena, they broke through the small crowd. Link went to his tree house, hurrying up the ladder. He kneeled next to his small bed, gently smoothing Saria's hair.
"Saria, wake up," he said quietly. Her eyes slowly fluttered open. A smile came to her face when she saw him. She tried to sit up, but stopped when Link put his hand on her small shoulder.
"Not a good idea," he said gently. "You've been hurt."
"What about the others?" Saria asked. "Were any hurt?"
Link remained quiet, not meeting her gaze. He felt her small hand on his. Link looked down on her, feeling his sorrow return. He nodded slowly.
"Some of the Kokiri…didn't make it," Link whispered. "I didn't get here in time. They were…killed."
He felt Saria's hand gently rub his hand. He looked away from her gaze, feeling tears. He should have been here. None of this would have happened if he would have only been here.
"I'm so sorry, Saria," Link breathed. "I should have been here to stop it all. Ganondorf did this…to get back at me. If it weren't-"
"Link, none of this is your fault," Saria said quietly.
"Yeah, listen to the girl," Reena said from behind in a gentle voice. "You can't be in two places at once."
"I should have known Ganondorf would strike this place next," Link said bitterly.
"How could you have known?" Saria asked. She closed her eyes in exhaustion. She felt a blanket be draped over her.
"Rest," Link told her. "I'll be back later to make sure you are."
"You've grown up too much," Saria sighed. "I miss having to take care of you."
Link gave her a small smile and left the tree house, Reena behind him. They sat on the balcony, night overtaking all. The Kokiri everywhere were turning in, feeling safe with Link there. Link leaned against the tree house, closing his eyes. He could still see the dead Kokiri, burnt and bloody beyond recognition. His childhood friends…they should not have had to bear this.
"Hey, Link, you okay?" Reena asked quietly. Link didn't answer. His eyes opened, making him see the destruction again. Reena slid close to him, putting an arm around his shoulders.
"This is where I grew up," Link said, swallowing hard. "I didn't think Ganondorf would find out…"
"Link, you growing up here or not doesn't make a difference," Reena said firmly. "He would have attacked the forest anyways. You can't be in two places at once. How were you supposed to know the Kokiri were under attack? Besides, we got here not long after it started."
"None should have died," Link said, looking away. He heard Reena sigh.
"You can't dwell on it forever," Reena said. "Ganondorf will pay for all that he's done."
Link nodded, looking at the starlit sky. After all that had happened, everything seemed so tranquil. He felt Reena ruffle his hair and steal his hat, retracting her arm from around his shoulder. Link startled Reena when he smiled and didn't retaliate. She stuck the hat on her head and closed her eyes.
Saria crept out ten minutes later after they had stopped talking. She could barely walk, but she needed to secure her suspicions. She peered out of Link's doorway and a smile came to her. Link held the woman in his arms and her head rested on his shoulder. Saria crept back inside, having a shrewd suspicion that they had become situated like that in their sleep.
"Link, where are we going?" Reena demanded again. He just flashed a smile back at her.
"You'll see, just come on," he answered.
Reena grumbled under her breath. It was two weeks later and she figured it was called the Lost Woods for a reason. A reason she didn't want to discover today or any day. Finally, Link slowed down. Reena looked around her and was awed.
He had brought her to a swimming hole. It was at the foot of a small overhang of rocks. A small water fall trickled down the rocks into the pool which was crystal clear. It looked like something that had come from a fairytale.
Link pulled his white shirt and green tunic off, jumping in the water. Reena slowly approached the pool, watching as he surfaced.
"Well, come on!" Link coaxed. "This'll probably be the only time we can relax in a while."
"Er…no that's okay," Reena said, swallowing. Link eyed her and water flew towards her. Reena's hands flew to her face, the cold water refreshing her. A glare pierced through Link and he laughed.
"Scared?" he asked evilly.
"No!" Reena snapped. "I just don't feel like swimming."
Link swam over to her and suddenly grabbed her foot. She screamed and yanked her foot from his grasp. Link eyed her, shocked. Reena never screamed.
"I told you I don't want to go in!" she said sharply, backing away.
"Alright, I'm sorry," Link said, rolling his eyes. "Just come on in! There is nothing in here that'll hurt you!"
"I wouldn't be so sure," Reena said bitterly. Link let out an agitated sigh.
"You are scared!" Link exclaimed.
"I am not!" Reena cried, stamping her foot on the ground.
"Then why not come in!" Link asked.
"Because…because…," Reena stammered. "Because I can't swim, alright?"
Link swam stationary in the water. Silence passed between them and Reena went a deep shade of scarlet.
"You what?" Link asked.
"I said I can't swim!" Reena repeated. "What don't you get? The I, the can't, or the swim?"
"The whole bit," Link answered. "You helped me with the Zora's!"
"Uh…about that…," Reena said, scratching the back of her neck. "There's a reason I…clung to the sides."
"But…I…," Link stammered. "You can't swim?"
"No," Reena muttered. "But I couldn't tell you or else you wouldn't let me come along!"
"Reena…does the fact that you could have drowned say anything?" Link cried. She gave him a small smile and shrug. Link only stared at her incredulously. "How come you never told me?"
"Because you would not have let me come," Reena repeated.
"No, I wouldn't!" Link exclaimed. He shook his head. "That was a very stupid move!"
"Well, so was yours," Reena retaliated. "You were nearly dead and still wanted to return. Somehow I don't see any logic in that."
"That was different!" Link protested.
"How?" Reena demanded, putting her hands on her hips.
Link struggled for words. Reena tapped her foot, waiting for an answer. A glare answered her and Reena smiled triumphantly. She sat down on the bank of the water, taking her shoes off and rippling the water with her feet. Link swam up next to her, leaning against the rock.
"Well, come on," he said.
"Have you gone daft?" Reena demanded. "I told you I can't swim!"
"I'll teach you," Link said. "We're going to come to water again no doubt. So come on."
"N-no that's okay," Reena stammered, swallowing hard.
Link eyed her. She was afraid of the water. That was understandable now that he realized that swimming and drowning were a factor.
"Come on," Link said. "I'm not having you die because you can't swim. I won't let you drown, I promise."
Reena eyed him uneasily. He waited patiently and Reena slowly went to the water's edge. He swam up to her, putting a hand on the grassy bank. She sat down, sliding into the water. In an instant her arms were around Link's neck and she was shaking. Link couldn't help but let out a quiet laugh.
"It's alright," he told her gently. "Just trust me, okay? We're going out to the middle."
"Have you lost your mind?" Reena cried.
Link didn't listen and with one arm around Reena, slowly swam out to the middle of the pond. He let go of Reena, but she still clung onto his hands, using them to stay a loft. He gave her a small smile.
"See? You're doing fine," Link assured her.
"Only because I'm holding onto you for dear life!" Reena exclaimed, panic in her voice. Link only shook his head.
"I'm surprised that of everything, this scares you," he said with a small smile.
"Yeah, I feel the same with you and spiders," Reena shot at him, looking around her feet in horror of anything that might drag her under. Link laughed quietly. She glared at him. "So help me, you let me go and I will kill you!"
"I won't," Link told her quietly. "Just kick your feet. But…careful where you kick."
Reena grinned evilly and Link paled. "I will let go of you, you do realize that?"
"I won't," Reena told him, tightening her hold on his hands. "I don't want to drown."
"Reena…I'm losing circulation to my hands," Link told her, looking at them underwater.
"Well, whose smart idea was this?" Reena demanded. Link rolled his eyes. He let go of one of her hands and she nearly screamed. She lunged towards him, latching onto his back. She nearly submerged him underwater.
"Reena! Honestly, just try!" Link exclaimed, taking her off of him. She was shaking and holding onto his hands even tighter. He began to laugh. She wasn't scared. She was terrified! He let go of her and pulled away. She stayed afloat in the middle of the pond, her eyes holding fear. She looked at herself in shock, realizing that she wasn't sinking like a rock. She flashed a smile at Link, but…he was gone!
Reena looked widely around and gasped as he appeared behind her. She placed her hands on his head, pushing him down with all her might. He went under, taking her with him. She wrapped her arms around his neck in desperation, surfacing with him. He was laughing hysterically, holding onto her.
"Bad idea, huh?" Link asked, coughing water.
"You jerk!" Reena cried, hitting him.
"What? You're the one that shoved me underwater!" Link exclaimed, narrowing his eyes at her. "And you were doing it and you didn't die! What a discovery we've made!"
"Shut up, I hate you," Reena muttered, looking away and letting go of Link. She slowly made her way to the edge of the pool. A triumphant smile came to her face when she made it and clung to the side for dear life.
"Good job," Link said, smiling at her. He swam over to her and the two sat there, looking across the small pool. "I came here all the time as a kid."
"How'd you find it and get out of here again?" Reena asked, looking over at him. "I assume it's called the 'Lost Woods' for a reason."
"I know my way around here," Link said with a shrug. "I mean, there are markers of where you are."
"Markers that normal people could notice or…only you?" Reena asked, eyeing him.
He laughed, "Alright maybe only me."
Reena blew on the water, making ripples. "How'd you find this place?"
Link smiled, remembering the event. "Well, another fight had broke out between me and my childhood rival-"
"I pray you've gotten over that," Reena murmured.
"-And I came out here so that no one would see me bleeding," Link explained. "I was really furious that day. Mido made sure he let everyone know that I was different. And well… that day I just got really upset. So, I was wandering around here and found this place. Ever since then I've come here when I wanted to be alone."
"Who was your childhood rival?" Reena asked, looking over at him.
"Mido," Link said, a smile coming to his face. "Naturally he doesn't recognize me anymore."
"You know, we could change that," Reena said with a smirk. "That is if you really wanted to scare the kid to death."
"I've been thinking about it," Link admitted. "But every time I decide not to. I mean, what would I gain?"
"Satisfaction in having the last laugh," Reena answered.
Link only shook his head. "No, it's alright I'd rather-"
"Alright, just who do you think you are?"
Reena nearly jumped. She looked at Link who looked ready to drown himself. Curious, Reena turned around.
"Is there a problem?" Reena asked, looking at the boy. Instantly she realized who this was by his snobbish stance and smug look. "Ah… Mido."
He stared at her, trying to hide his shock. "Yeah, and what's of it to you?"
"Nothing," Reena said, looking back at Link.
"You wanna stop looking at me?" Link muttered, trying to sink lower into the water.
"You're scared of him still!" Reena realized in an excited whisper.
"No!" Link exclaimed.
"Anyways, what's the problem?" Reena asked, looking back at him. She pulled herself out of the water, looking down at him. His eyes grew wide. "What? Never seen a woman before? So, are you mad that we saved your village or that we're Hylians?"
"O-only Kokiri are allowed in the forest!" he finally stammered.
"Looks like we've overstayed our welcome, Link," Reena called back, grinning as Link winced. He whipped around, glaring at Reena. His eyes fell on Mido and gave him a small smile.
"L-L-Link?" Mido stuttered.
"Long time since I've seen you last," Mido. "Link said. He pulled himself out of the water, bringing himself to his full height. "I should still be allowed here. This is my home."
"Y-you grew up…" Mido said, his eyes large with fear.
"Hylians do that," Link shrugged, going over to his things. The moment Mido saw the sword he let out a shriek and ran for his life.
Reena began to laugh so hard it hurt. She fell over, straight into the water. Link was in the water a second later, making sure she got up for air. However it was difficult since he was dying too.
"Beautiful! Beautiful!" Reena gasped as she leaned against the edge of the pool. "I loved it when you went over to the Master Sword! I commend you! He probably wet himself!"
An evil smile came to Link. "That was very satisfying. He screamed like a re-dead!"
"I think a re-dead is quieter!" Reena admitted.
"He's definitely traumatized for life," Link said happily.
Saria heard splashing and laughing from the forest. She followed the path to the water whole and hid behind one of the trees. She smiled as she watched the scene before her.
Link and the woman, who she had found out was named Reena, were swimming together. From the looks, Reena didn't know how to swim very well and hung onto Link for dear life at times. They began jumping into the water, seeing who could make the biggest splash.
At one point, Reena swallowed to much water and Link was holding her for a good five minutes, concern etched all over his face. Saria smiled as she watched the two. Reena learned quickly. Finally Saria left, relief etched in her heart. She had been worried about Link's isolation. Well, that wasn't present anymore. And Saria had a feeling it would never be present again.