Arrows of Light
The room began to fade in again and Zelda saw they were back in the Great Fairy's cavern. The faint, whitish mist that had been hovering over the pool of water had resumed its normal swirl of colors: blue, green, and yellow.
You are wounded. Come, let me relieve your suffering.
Link glanced at Zelda, his eyes questioning. She was surprised that he hesitated; as she had the first time, she felt a strong pull—a compulsion, really—to go to the pool. But, for whatever reason, he seemed to need her approval.
She nodded and took off her bow, quiver, and sword. The magical quiver was no longer glowing, but she placed it on top of her other things with all the reverence due a holy object.
Link took off his sword and shield, then they walked to the pool and stood on the lip. Above them, the colors swirled, casting a warm, pleasant, peaceful light on the surface of the glassy water.
Without taking their clothes off, and knowing instinctively what was expected of them, they both dove into the water.
As before, the pool was much deeper than it appeared and Zelda was immediately engulfed in the depths of the dark water.
She felt completely whole and at peace. Her aches and pains and bruises were not just healed, but it felt as if they had never existed at all. Every part of her felt new, as if she had just been born.
Do you love him?
Zelda glanced around and was surprised to see the fairy floating in front of her. Or maybe she was hovering; Zelda wasn't entirely sure she was still in water.
"You love Link," the fairy pressed when Zelda didn't respond.
"Yes," Zelda replied.
"What would you do if you didn't have him?"
Zelda felt her insides go cold. Was the Great Fairy making a threat? Was she going to let him drown in her pool? Or had she seen the future and knew he would not survive the quest?
"Why do you ask?" Zelda asked cautiously.
The fairy smiled, but replied, "Answer the question."
"Is Link in danger?"
"Would it upset you if he was?"
She could hardly breathe. "Yes."
"I ask again: what would you do without him?"
Zelda knew then what she was getting at. It had taken her a long time to declare her love for Link, although she had felt it for quite some time before she admitted it to herself, much less said anything to Link. Now, the fairy was asking her to unearth deeper emotions that were lurking inside her—felt, but unvoiced.
She wasn't asking just about love; she was asking about need. Did Zelda—stubbornly independent and destined to be the sole ruler of Hyrule—need a common-born young man like Link in her life—not just now, but in the future, too? It was one thing to need his help, but another thing to need him—to be so intertwined with him that his loss would cause a permanent and irreparable hole in her life that would never be filled, never healed.
"Well?" the fairy asked, perking a brow.
Link found the bottomless pool to be curious. He floated in the dark water blissfully, enjoying the novelty and the feeling of being completely refreshed, inside and out. He felt as if he had never traveled a foot away from home and he had the energy to walk the breadth of the world again.
You have suffered much, Hero, a familiar voice said.
Link looked around, but saw no one. "Where are you?"
"May I see you?"
There was a moment's pause, then, slowly, the figure of the Great Fairy emerged from the darkness.
Link felt his heart swell up. "You are truly beautiful."
"More so than your Princess?" she asked with a teasing smile.
"No one is more beautiful than her to me, but I will readily admit I'm prejudiced in her favor."
"That is as it should be," she said with approval.
Link became aware of a soft thumping sound far in the background. It sounded very pleasant, but he didn't know its origin—or purpose.
"As I said," the fairy continued, "you have suffered much—more so mentally than physically."
"But I have been pleased to see that you have taken my words to heart. You and Zelda handled the demon lurking in the mountain wonderfully. Now do you see why I said she needed to be your partner?"
"Yes," he admitted. The sound of the thumping—regular, like a beat—grew louder, but he didn't pay any attention to it. "I wouldn't have made it this far without her. She held me together."
"And she is gaining the confidence and skill that she will need to one day lead her people," the fairy said. "After so much fear and uncertainty, they will want a strong leader they can trust; they will want someone who can lead from the front—someone who does not know fear."
Link nodded. The soft beating sound now seemed to engulf him like a warm blanket.
"And you have solved your other problem," she said.
"What was that?"
"I told you that Zelda must come to realize, on her own, how much she loves you."
Link suddenly realized the thumping noise was the sound of Zelda's heart. And the reason why it felt so warm and comforting was because it was beating in time with his own.
The fairy smiled at him as he had his realization. Then she faded back to the black depths.
"Wait!" Link called out.
Yes? The fairy said, although she did not reappear.
"May I ask a favor?"
The fairy was quiet for a moment, as if thoughtful. I certainly owe you much, so yes, I will grant you a wish… if it is within my power to do so.
The last time I talked to you… I did talk to you, didn't I?
Yes, I spoke to you through my tears.
That time, you implied that you could get rid of mine and Princess Zelda's scars, but you chose not to because they would be important to us later on in some way.
He hesitated, then rushed forward with his request. Could you please heal her face so that she won't have scars there, at least? I mean, he hurried on, if she must have them elsewhere, then let her have them, but please, not on her face.
The fairy materialized before him again. "Do you think they lessen her beauty?"
"Nothing lessens her beauty in my eyes," he said honestly. "She doesn't care if I'm scarred, and I don't care if she is, either. But she's the one who has to look in the mirror every day, and I worry that it will upset her. And it might upset her people. I don't want them to think less of her because she is scarred."
"The scars show how much she has suffered for their sake."
"But they might not understand that," he argued. "She is a princess and, one day, she will be a queen. People expect their royal women to be beautiful and accomplished and charming—in other words, decorative, but fairly useless. If she looks like the warrior that she is, they might have trouble accepting her."
"And," he added, "it might be helpful in the near-future, as well. She can hide her true strength behind her beauty; people will be fooled into thinking she is just a pretty face with nothing behind it—just as the Dark Demon thought… to his detriment."
The fairy chuckled. "Are you practicing your statecraft so soon?"
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing. You are very wise, and I think you are correct. I will leave Zelda's scars from before, but I will heal her new wounds and leave no scars."
Link bowed his head. "Thank you."
He started to turn away, but she stopped him. "Do you ask nothing for yourself?"
He turned back to her. "I can't think of anything I want, save Princess Zelda. And it sounds like her heart is mine. So what more could I wish for?"
"A heart is only one part of a person."
He looked at her in confusion, but she merely leaned in, kissing him on the forehead. "If you will not wish for yourself, then I will wish for you."
Link still felt confused as she backed away, smiled, then faded once more into black.
A moment later—or maybe an hour later, who knew?—Link found himself lying face down on a stone floor.
He slowly pushed himself up; he felt as if he wasn't exactly sure how to move—as if he had forgotten.
He noticed Zelda was stirring nearby. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that there were no claw marks on her face. The fairy had granted his wish.
It took a bit longer for his bewildered brain to notice she was wearing different clothes. And when he looked down at himself, he noticed that he, too, was wearing something new.
He held up his hands, marveling at the sudden change. He had fingerless leather gloves and leather vambraces—similar to the ones Zelda had given him for his birthday—over a new linen undershirt. Over that he was wearing a lightweight maile shirt, and covering that was a green tunic like the ones he had always worn. The gold embroidery around the edges had Triforce designs. His canvas pants were new, too, and he had new boots which came up to his knees. He even had a stocking cap on his head.
Zelda was wearing a very similar outfit, only her tunic was blue and the front was embroidered in silver with the arms of the Queen of Hyrule. She had only a thin vambrace—like an archer's guard—on her left arm, and on her right hand, her glove had three fingers, like the one she had left behind in Erenrue. On her forehead sat a thin, silver circlet that made a V-shape in the middle; a sapphire drop hung from it. Her hair was twisted and braided around the back of the circlet so that wouldn't fall off.
They stared at each other in wonder.
"Thank you both for expunging the demon in the mountain," the fairy said.
Link looked up and noticed that the swirling colors had formed into the Great Fairy that he had seen in the water below.
"Unfortunately, there are more demons in the world." She looked at Link. "Take out your map."
Link dug through the pile of equipment that he had taken off before jumping into the pool and pulled Gardamon's map out of his belt pouch.
Zelda came over and looked over his shoulder as thick, black X's seemed to be burned into the map.
"These are the locations of the remaining major demons," the fairy said. "You will need to eliminate them, in addition to the minor ones, before you can seal up Nagadii's rift."
Link's eyes scanned the map, then his heart sank. "Gods…" he moaned.
"What?" Zelda asked anxiously, leaning in closer to look.
Link pointed at the top-center of the map, where Pallis lay. "There's a major demon in the city," he said.
"What!? In the actual city?" she asked in disbelief.
"You do not have the tools you need to tackle that demon just yet," the fairy said. Then she gestured towards the empty quiver lying on top of Zelda's pile of weapons. It began to glow from inside once again.
"Each of the demons has stolen some holy or magical item. They can use the item as a source of power for themselves, but, for the most part, they have taken the items to keep them out of your hands. The more items you have, the more powerful you will be.
"What you have now are the Arrows of Light."
Zelda picked up the quiver and held it reverentially in her hands. "Arrows made of light?" she asked.
"They were forged by the gods themselves and have been used many times to conquer evil—sometimes by the Hero," she nodded to Link, "and sometimes by the Princess of Hyrule," she nodded to Zelda.
Zelda's eyes widened. "I… I have helped Link before?"
"Is that why the Master Sword answers to me? Because it knows me from the times when I was with Link before?"
The fairy got a funny look on her face, and seemed to hesitate, as if what wasn't sure she should say what she knew.
"I suppose it knows you from before," she said slowly, "but that's not why it answers to you."
"That is not for me to say."
Zelda looked surprised. "Why?" she asked impulsively.
"Because it involves the gods' business, and that is not for me to meddle with. Suffice to say, it will answer to you anytime you need it, but it is meant to be Link's weapon. Likewise, he may use the Light Arrows, if need be, but they belong to you in this lifetime."
Zelda nodded her acceptance.
Link looked up at the fairy. "You said that we don't have the tools we need to take out the demon in Erenrue. Which demon should we tackle first?"
"There is a demon in the forest northwest of Hyrule that has something that will greatly aid you; I think you should go to it first."
Link looked down at the map. There was a large X over the woods that had unnerved him and Zelda as they traveled from the coast to Pallis. They had to go back to the corridor anyway to take out the bats and the hyena-demon they had found there.
He shuddered at the thought of the hyena-demon. He had fought many demons since then, but that one had scared him the most because it came closest to killing him. That he had killed it first had been a complete accident; the demon had jumped on his sword.
"What object does it have?" Link asked, looking up, but the fairy was gone. There was nothing but a swirl of blue, green, and yellow light, and it did not answer him.
"I guess we have all the information we're going to get," Zelda said.
"I guess so."
"Let's go back to Hols," she said. "I'm ready to have dinner and a good night's sleep. We can worry about new demons tomorrow."
Link couldn't have agreed more.