Tears for a Mother
Link and Zelda walked down the now-peaceful corridor, surveying the damage.
"If the castle looks this bad, I wonder what the town looks like?" Zelda said as they skirted around the chandelier they had destroyed on their way in.
"We'll soon find out."
They turned the corner and stopped in their tracks; the hallway was still completely buried in rubble from the earlier cave-in. That, unfortunately, had never been an illusion.
"Shit, I forgot about that," Zelda said, turning away. "We'll have to go around."
"Have I mentioned—"
"Shut up. I'll curse if I want to."
He laughed. "Yes, ma'am."
Before they could go a different direction, though, they heard the sound of rumbling behind them.
They turned back around. "Is the floor collapsing?" Zelda asked.
Link scanned the pile of rubble, but it looked like only one part was shifting. Of course, if the floor underneath it was giving out under the weight, it might start slowly shifting in only one part before spreading.
"I don't know," Link admitted. "But it might be a good idea for us to get out of this area; we don't know how much floor it will take down with it."
But at that moment, a rock emerged from the middle of the pile and rolled down to the floor. A hand could then be seen emerging from the hole in the rubble.
"Link? Princess Zelda?" came a faint voice.
Link and Zelda ran over to the hole in the rubble and peered through. On the other side, they saw Sir Elgon's face.
"Elgon!" Link said in surprise and delight.
"Oh, thank gods you're both alright! The ghosts that were fighting with us said that you were safe and on your way to Nagadii's room, but they disappeared a short time later, so we had no way of knowing what was going on."
"It's alright. Nagadii is dead and the Dark Lord who was backing him has been defeated, too. The rift is closed. There will be no more demons."
There was a shout of jubilation from behind Sir Elgon.
"What about Lord Long Fang and Growder?" Zelda asked, trying to look through the hole, too. "They were behind us when all this came down."
Long Fang's face appeared on the other side of the hole a moment later. "We're fine. Luckily everything just missed us. But I'm sorry we were not able to help you."
Zelda dismissed his concern with a wave of her hand. "Don't worry about it. Everything's been taken care of. I'm just glad the two of you aren't hurt; that's all that matters."
Sir Elgon reappeared at the hole. His face was concerned. "We defeated Nagadii's guards by ourselves, but there were some casualties. Link… I'm afraid your mother is hurt pretty badly."
Link's heart sank to his feet and he felt cold all over. "How bad is it?" he asked breathlessly.
"I'll go down the back way," he told Zelda, turning to leave.
"Wait… I think we can get you through here. It might save you a little time."
Sir Elgon shifted a little more rubble, widening the hole on his end.
"I'm smaller," Zelda said. "I'll go through and then teleport you."
"No," he replied. "If this pile collapses, I don't want it to be on you. Besides… aren't you claustrophobic?"
She shrugged. "I'll deal with it."
He shook his head. "No, I don't want you to get hurt—not after everything I've done to keep you alive."
Sir Elgon spoke a moment later. "I think we have enough room now."
Link stuck his hands into the hole first, then put his head in. With Zelda pushing him from behind and Sir Elgon pulling his hands, they managed to slide him through the window in the rubble. It wasn't without its price, though: he emerged scraped and scratched—even bleeding a little in a couple of places. But he ignored it.
"Let me take you downstairs," Long Fang offered. "I can run faster than you."
Link teleported Zelda over, then got onto Long Fang's back. She got onto Growder and the two tigers went bounding down the halls and staircases at their top speed. It would have been a fun adventure if not for the pall hanging over their enterprise.
Link gave them the occasional direction and within minutes they came bounding into the weapons room above the dungeon. A few people cried out in alarm at the sudden sight of the tigers.
Link hoped off Long Fang. "Mother?"
"Link, over here."
He looked around and saw Ceily waving to him from the far side of the room.
He ran over and found her and Meghan sitting beside his mother. Meghan was crying behind her hands and didn't even look up when he arrived. Ceily, though, looked like she was managing better. She was pressing a bandage to her aunt's abdomen.
"What happened?" Link asked, kneeling beside his mother's prostrate form. "How bad is it? Where are the others?"
"Father is over there," Ceily said, jerking her head towards a gaggle of people on the other side of the room. It looked as if the monks were trying to tend to the wounded. "Alons got knocked out. He will probably be alright, but Aunt Tatiana told father to stay with him so, if he comes around… he won't see…." Her voice trailed off.
"How bad is it?" he asked again, looking at the bandage she was holding down.
She grimaced, then lifted it. Blood welled up from what looked like a sword thrust to the middle of her belly.
Link took his mother's hand in his and held it tightly. "Mother… can you hear me?"
It took her a few moments, but at last she managed to open her eyes a little. "Link?"
"Yes, it's me," he said, leaning closer so she could see him. The room was poorly-lit and had no windows.
"Are… are you alright?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. It's all over now."
Her eyes looked him over, as if she didn't trust him. "What's that?" she asked, weakly gesturing to the big scar in his left shoulder where he had gotten shot at the battle in Erenrue.
"That's old," he said dismissively. "I'm fine. Really."
She smiled a little at him. "I hardly recognized you when I first saw you; you've gotten so big."
Link laughed through the tears that were starting to pool in his eyes. "I'm not big like Father or Uncle Alfon."
"No," she said, smiling weakly. "I didn't mean that. I guess… I really meant that you've grown up—that you look older. You're a man now."
She flinched as a pain apparently passed through her; Link could feel her hand tighten in his. But after a moment, she relaxed a little.
"Link, promise me that you'll take care of Meghan and Alons."
Meghan wailed louder. Link was half-tempted to join her. Instead, he tried to get his mother to see reason.
"Mother, don't talk like that. We're going to get you some help…."
She shook her head. "It's my time, Link. I don't want to leave you all, but… in a way, it will be a relief to see your father again. So don't think of me dying, but as going to him."
Link had never felt more horrified in his life. "Oh, Mother… Mother, he isn't dead!" He squeezed her hand tighter. "He isn't dead!"
"What?" she asked, looking at him in confusion.
"I found him. He's marooned in a land beyond the Endless Ocean."
She looked at him in disbelief. Even Meghan stopped crying to stare at him.
"What…? I don't….?" Tatiana tried to say.
"Our ship broke up on our way across and I washed up in the land beyond the sea," he explained. "Father rescued me and took care of me. Zelda, though, washed up in Erenrue. I was able to teleport to her, but I couldn't bring Father with me."
Tears began to spill down his face. "He told me to tell you that he loves you and he misses you every single day."
Tears glimmered in Tatiana's eyes. "He… lives?"
"Yes. And you must live, too."
He felt a soft hand on his shoulder and he looked up to see Zelda standing beside him. "Link," she said quietly, "I could go to the fairy and see if she will give me some tears for your mother. That's how we saved you when you nearly died."
"Will you, please?" he begged.
A moment later, she disappeared.
"What happened?" Tatiana asked, looking at the place where Zelda had been.
"She's gone to get some medicine for you. Hang on for just a little bit longer."
Hols was waiting for Zelda next to the door that led out of the tigers' cave. "Are you badly hurt?" he asked anxiously.
She shook her head. "I'm not hurt at all—other than being banged up a little. It's Link's mother that's hurt. I'm afraid she's dying. I wanted to try to get some fairy's tears for her."
Anne-Marie appeared around a corner later. "Do you need help? Can I take you there?"
"Please. She's very bad."
As Anne-Marie carried Zelda up to the fairy's cave, Zelda briefly told her what had happened since Erenrue was retaken.
"But Growder and Lord Long Fang are alright?" she asked anxiously when Zelda finished her story.
"Yes, they're fine—a little thin, but fine. We'll be sure to feed them up before they come home, though; after all, you certainly fed us often enough."
Anne-Marie stopped outside the fairy's cave and Zelda went in alone. The colored mist hovered over the fairy's pool, but as she neared, it coalesced into the fairy. She was smiling brightly.
"Um… thank you."
"I must admit, there were times I was worried for you and Link and the world—I wasn't sure that it would all work out—but you both managed. And quite admirably, I must say. I don't think anyone could have asked for more from you."
"Well… now that it's over… may I ask for something?"
"What?" the fairy asked, looking curious.
"Link's mother is gravely injured—mortally, I'm afraid. You once gave me tears to save Link's life; may I have some now for his mother?"
She frowned a little. "We are not supposed to interfere in the lives of mortals. You and Link were a rare exception."
"The fairy in Hyrule said that you weren't allowed to interfere in the normal course of things, but she admitted that Nagadii wasn't part of the normal course of things.
"Well, Link's mother is dying because of Nagadii. If not for him, she wouldn't be in this position. So I think she should be an exception to the rule, too."
"Many people have died because of Nagadii, but we can't save them all," the fairy pointed out.
"No, but you can save this one person."
"But what about the others who have no one to advocate for them? Should Link's mother live and they die simply because she can get help through you?"
"Should a doctor refuse to treat one patient because somewhere someone else is dying for lack of care?" Zelda retorted, getting a little aggravated by the philosophical debate. "If there were others dying in my castle—dying because they tried to help us—then I would be here begging for them, too.
"And I don't beg only because she is Link's mother; I also beg because she risked her life for us—not just this time, but before. She risked everything to take us in when no one else would. She fed us and clothed us and got us to safety. Then, when Nagadii offered the entire family in exchange for Link, they signaled that they would rather die than be exchanged.
"She is a person deserving of life on her own merits—never mind that she and Link deserve to be together after they both sacrificed his childhood to this cause. Don't allow her to be taken away just when they have the time and freedom to reunite."
The fairy looked hesitant… as if she was wavering in her decision. Zelda tried to make one last push.
"Listen, you all promised to help me if I get sick in the future. Can I trade that? I will trade my future rights to your help if you will just help Link's mother now."
The fairy closed her eyes and Zelda saw a tear slide from beneath her lashes. She raised her finger to her cheek then she gently pushed the tear away from her face. It slowly floated through the air towards Zelda, crystallizing into a small glass bottle full of a liquid swirling with the colors of the fairy's mist.
"Take that," the fairy said softly. "Give it to any of your people who are hurt—one drop on an external wound, one drop on the tongue for internal wounds."
It was more than she had asked for. With this, no one would have to suffer any longer.
"Thank you," Zelda whispered, clasping the precious bottle to her chest.
The fairy looked at her with sad, but kind eyes. "We can't conjure tears at will, you know," she said quietly.
What was she saying? That Zelda's plea had moved her to tears?
Zelda looked at her questioningly, but she just smiled a little, then returned to her mist form.
Zelda returned to Link a few moments later. "Am I too late?" she immediately asked when she saw Tatiana's pale, still form.
"I don't think so," Link replied. "Did you get some?"
She showed him the bottle. "Enough for everyone here. One drop for external wounds, one for internal."
"I think you better give her one of each," he said.
She knelt beside him. "That's what I was thinking."
Ceily pulled away the bloody bandage. But now, hardly any blood bubbled up from Tatiana's wound; that was a bad sign, not a good one.
Zelda uncorked the bottle and held it over Tatiana's belly, carefully allowing just one drop to fall on her wound.
Then she gently pulled the older woman's mouth open and dropped another drop there.
"Look!" Meghan hissed.
Zelda turned back to see the wound in Tatiana's stomach knitting itself back together.
"Oh, gods be praised!" Ceily said.
Zelda patted Link on the shoulder, then rose to her feet. "I'm going to take care of the others," she said.
He grabbed her hand before she could leave and looked up at her. "Thank you," he whispered.
"After everything we've been through—after everything your family has done for me—there never needs to be thanks said between us."
He smiled, raised her hand to his lips, then briefly kissed it. He was still smiling up at her when he let go.