"So she's coming now?" Madi squeaked at Nori.
"Yeah, of course, did you think she wouldn't?" he went to make his way back to the entrance.
"No, but… after you said I'd be surprised, I've been wondering if I really know you people at all. Is Saria really this sweet, innocent girl, or is she a leader of some sort of death cult? Is Link as heroic as he seems or is at an act and when this is over he'll return to the dark side? And who are you anyway? Forget that, I don't even know who I am anymore!" She carried on rambling until voices echoed from the entrance.
"I thought we were discussing this later," Nabooru's voice said over the others as they walked through the first corridor.
"We will but I'm just curious," Zelda replied. "I thought all the Sheikahs had died out so where did you find this boy?"
While they were talking, Saria had taken the lead and was about to open the second door when she realised everything around her was coming to life, it was as if the temple had accepted her as its new Sage. The moment she opened the door, the endless darkness gradually dissolved leaving behind a dim light that the temple spirits were used to.
"There you are!" Madi welcomed the coming of the light.
Walking past the Fairies Saria knelt down and picked up the sword, the hilt still felt warm from when he'd been holding it. For a moment she felt like all of this was her fault, if Link had never bothered coming back to see her none of this would be happening.
"Isn't that the Kokiri Sword, what's left of it anyway."
Neirol's spirit appeared hovering behind her, putting his arms behind his head he shot her a 'I figured something out before you' look.
"Yeah, why did I never notice this?" she turned the hilt around in her hands which was barely recognizable to her anymore.
"Perhaps it's because you're a dummy," he started laughing at her expression.
"I thought you were meant to be nice."
"I am! I gave you a sword remember?"
"Uh-huh but it wasn't made with me in mind."
"Um, Saria, who are you talking to?" Zelda interrupted their conversation.
Saria turned to see the others staring blankly at her, she'd totally forgotten they had been there the whole time.
"Only you can see and hear me, aren't you the lucky one?" Neirol waved at the others who clearly didn't see a thing.
"I-I talk to myself sometimes, sorry about that," she stepped away from Neirol hoping he would take the hint and leave.
"I think whatever went on up here has been taken to the basement," Nori was sure the powerful magic had been used on the elevator.
"Not much in the basement, is there? Only those paint- No, you don't think they used one of those, do you?" Zelda asked no one in particular.
"Those paintings can be used for something?" Saria blinked, she'd always thought they were something someone with bad taste had painted centuries ago.
"We'll talk on the way," Zelda made her way to the elevator and motioned for the others to follow.
"Here!" Zelda exclaimed as they stood in the centre of the room with the paintings. "They used this one to go through," she could feel the energy pulsating from the artwork, somehow the sisters had managed to get into the realm within.
"There's a world… in there?" Staring in awe at the picture, Saria's eyes fell on the strange silhouette near the top which she thought could be a house.
"Kind of, you could say it's part of a world," Zelda explained, "but that's all I know since no complete documents exist concerning these paintings."
"That's great and all but how do we get to Link!" Madi flew up to the painting and bashed against it. "I can't get in!"
"It takes a lot of magic to enter such a painting, only one of us will be able to go," the princess paused, she knew exactly what was coming next.
"One of us? What happened to 'it wouldn't be safe to go alone'!" Ruto said in a high, squeaky voice that sounded nothing like Zelda's.
"Would you prefer we stayed here staring at the painting forever?" Zelda replied calmly.
"Fine, then I nominate myself," Ruto folded her arms as if her decision was final.
"I don't think that's wise," Impa cut in.
"Why not!" Ruto snapped, she couldn't believe anyone would think she wasn't the best choice for the task.
"I will gladly volunteer," the Shadow Sage continued, ignoring a fuming Ruto.
"I would too but we all know Zelda's the best choice," Nabooru reminded them.
"This is true," Darunia nodded, he would have volunteered himself but knew Zelda's powers were far greater than his.
"You're both forgetting something," Zelda stopped them, "I need to stay here to help open the portal, and," she turned to Saria who had been so absorbed in looking into the painting she hadn't been listening, "I think Link would prefer to see Saria over me."
"Well duh, Saria is the obvious choice!" Madi smiled proudly. "And with me and Nori going along too it will be easy!"
"Um," Zelda dropped her gaze. "You fairies can't go either."
"What! Why not?" Nori felt a rush of anxiety overcome him.
"Like I sad, only one can go and even though you're small, you still count as people."
"It's okay, I'll be fine," Saria reassured them. "If the only way to help Link is to go alone, then I will."
"Right, then prepare to go now, I think I'll be able to open the portal myself but I'll need the rest of you to levitate Saria up to it," Zelda took up a position in front of the painting, reaching a hand out, she looked as if she was pulling the canvas towards herself.
"What is she doing?" Madi whispered to Nori who shrugged.
"Opening the portal I suppose."
The remaining four Sages gathered around Saria and began channelling their energy to her while Zelda continued to open the portal, a bright white light slowly forming in the centre of the picture.
"I just hope she knows what she's doing," Nori sighed, watching the girl he'd known for longer than he could remember floating into the open portal, to a world they knew nothing about.
He was lying face-down on a cold, stone floor, not being able to feel any part of his body he wondered if he even had a body anymore. All he could remember was a blinding light and that pain, that excruciating pain that had torn through his body almost causing him to drop his sword, wait, what if he had dropped it without realising? It would help if he could see in front of his face, then he realised his eyes weren't even open, that would be a good start. Forcing his eyelids open his suspicions were confirmed, he was indeed on a stone floor but where, he couldn't work out. Feeling some of his senses slowly returning, he rolled over onto his back and gasped.
The ceiling and both walls on either side of him were covered in empty picture frames, the only blank wall was the one directly in front of him which disappointed him since it didn't seem to have a door. Assuming the wall behind him was also covered in frames, Link took in the appearance of the frames more closely, some were larger, others were multicoloured or had no colour at all while others were different shapes. It was all very strange. Not being able to move any further, he hoped whatever had captured him would make themselves known soon.
"He is finally awake sisters," one of the voices spoke out of nowhere.
"Then let us begin, I think we should have some fun with him before we destroy his soul and use his body for a throw-rug in our mansion Weaken his mind and the rest of him will follow."
"Huh?" Link mumbled, his throat burning whenever he tried to talk. Before he could attempt to mumble some more, one of the frames flew off the wall and stuck itself to the empty one. Doubling in size, it began to flash a variety of colours before setting on a familiar scene to him, one of his oldest memories from outside the forest. One he hated remembering.
A ten-year-old Link stood in the entrance of Zora's Domain, his small hand clasped around the sparkling Zora Sapphire. He had just returned from giving the Goron Ruby back to Darunia so now it was time to face Ruto, he knew the Zora princess wouldn't be as happy to have her stone returned to her since she'd been so excited for him to have it, he couldn't understand why though.
The image blurred out and was replaced by one of him and Ruto standing by Jabu Jabu.
"R-Ruto?" Link swallowed, the girl always made him anxious, he never knew when she was going to pounce.
"Link!" the Zora girl stopped what she had been doing and ran over to him where she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him right on the lips.
Stumbling backwards, Link almost passed out. It was the first time anyone had ever done that and he hoped to never do it again, ever.
"Let me guess, you're here to discuss wedding plans!" she squealed happily.
"N-no! Listen, I came to return this," Link's shaky hand held out her sapphire which she stared at in disbelief.
"What? That's yours to keep silly! Now that we're enga-"
"I don't know what you mean but you have to take it back," he interrupted. "You know the reason I needed it, now that it's over you can have it back. I think it would be better if-if you gave it to someone w-who wants to have engagements and weddings like you do, b-because I don't. I'm really sorry…" he wanted the ground to swallow him whole when he saw her expression, she looked devastated.
"I see," she said, barely in a whisper. Reaching out her hand she took the stone from his and slowly moved away, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
"No, it's fine, really," she turned away so he wouldn't see her crying. "You should go before I change my mind."
The image stopped moving and Link's mind was brought back to the present.
What're they trying to do to me? He thought to himself, a pang of guilt clinging to his heart. Not giving him a chance to think it over, another frame took the place of the first enabling another scene to begin.
The next one featured himself and Malon, he remembered that day well too. She'd been pestering him about why he never spoke much about his life or why he didn't seem to have a proper home; he would say the same thing every time, that there wasn't anything to tell and he'd appreciate if she didn't keep on asking. Of course, she carried on regardless and in the end he had told her he was leaving, disappearing from the ranch without even saying goodbye. The hurt expression on her face made him feel sick, he couldn't believe he'd left like that.
The frame left as quickly as it had arrived and the next took its place, then another and another, the room was playing out the negative impact he had had on so many people over the last few years. Images of everyone he knew, Zelda, Nabooru, Ruto again, Impa, Darunia, Zelda some more, some rather painful ones with Saria he could have done without seeing, and some other people he wasn't expecting to see. Some were easy to work out while others were confusing, he doubted Darunia or Impa would be upset at him over anything which made him start to wonder how exaggerated these things were.
"I get what you're trying to do now," he managed to say loud enough for whoever was listening to hear. "Showing me how awful I make people feel. Yeah, well, I live with that knowledge everyday so it's nothing new." Even if he felt terrible, he wouldn't let them see it.
"He will break soon enough sisters, then we will strike."
"Ugh, that's not something I want to do again in a hurry," Saria mumbled as she fell through the portal into some sort of stream. Standing, she realised she wasn't wet at all but the water still felt like it was. Turning to look behind, she noticed a picture of the room she'd just been in with a swirling portal in the centre. "I guess we go back through that."
"Whoa! I didn't know you could come here!" Neirol's spirit burst out of the bracelet and hovered at her side.
"Me neither, but I don't think it's somewhere you'd want to come out of choice," Saria looked around at the dreary scenery, it was exactly like the painting down to the last detail. Dark storm clouds drifted above them as they travelled along the shallow stream towards the shadow in the distance, the only thing on either side being a forgotten wasteland littered with dead trees and plants.
"Hey, isn't that…?" Neirol asked when they got close enough to the shadow to see what it was.
"The Forest Temple?" Saria finished his sentence. "It looks a little different."
"What are you talking about? It's exactly as it was back when I was alive," his comment directed at the stone steps leading up to the temple entrance.
"The steps are gone," Saria explained as they reached the front door, another difference between the temples. "And this door."
"Oh… I guess someone took their temper out on it, right before their own brother killed them of course."
"That was you? You destroyed a set of stone steps?" she was starting to wonder how nice this guy really was. "Do you know how long it took me to make a ladder? It did take my mind off other things though… How did you manage it?"
"I used the sword," Neirol told her, receiving a wry look. "I was angry okay? You would have been too if- never mind, you already know the story."
"Yeah, sorry." Saria pushed the main door open and was greeted with a large room, one she was sure she had seen before. Candles lit up the room, casting a golden light along a dark green carpet beneath a long banquet table covered with many different foods.
"I don't remember this room," Neirol glanced at the food. "That food looks fake by the way."
"I'm not going to find out," Saria wandered past the table towards the back wall where a long curtain hung concealing something behind, pulling at the material she gasped when she found a large picture playing out a scene which kept repeating over and over inside the frame. It featured the four sisters in their usual spirit forms surrounding a girl she had never seen before.
"Aeffia," Neirol stared in shock at the moving image, it had been so long.
"So that's her?" Saria could see it now, the Kokiri clothing was an obvious giveaway but the bushy brown hair was a rarity amongst the Kokiri. Looking closer she could also see a bracelet on one arm, a similar bracelet to the one she was wearing.
They continued to watch the picture as the four sisters surrounded Aeffia and began to speak.
"Lord Ganondorf told us if we want to return to normal we must use your powers, Forest Sage," Amy, the one who glowed green explained.
"I-I'm not going to help you!" Aeffia exclaimed. She didn't know how long she had been held there but her Sage powers had totally diminished over the years leaving her defenceless.
"Oh but you will little girl, dead or alive, you will," the red sister, Joelle, cackled wickedly.
"Yes, if you will not cooperate then you will die," Beth lunged towards the startled Aeffia, blue flames swirling around her ghostly figure. The other sisters followed and in a flash of four colours, there was a deafening scream and then, silence.
Neirol's eyes were glued to the picture, he watched anxiously as the flames died down, hoping to see the one person he'd been waiting so long to get a glimpse of once more before he left this world for good. But there was nothing, apart from a broken bracelet left lying on the burnt carpet.
"No…. NOOOO!" Neirol screamed at the picture which carried on playing out the scene.
"Why can we not use her power, sisters?" Meg asked as she tried to use their new power.
"Lord Ganondorf spoke of another Sage, a new Forest Sage."
"Then we shall form a plan to awaken her, then when she returns she will suffer the same fate as our poor departed Aeffia." The sisters nodded to each other then the image blurred out and started over again.
"Don't close it!" Neirol shouted when Saria was about to draw the curtains, she assumed it would be too painful for him to watch again. "Please, just leave it open."
Taking a few steps back, Saria felt her foot step on something uneven, kneeling down she got a shock when she found a piece of bracelet lying amongst a section of burnt carpet she hadn't noticed until now.
"This must be quite recent," she said more to herself than the heartbroken Neirol. "She was here all this time and no one knew, and now…" she cut herself off, this was terrible, if she had watched that happen to Link she didn't know what she would do. Closing her eyes, she tried to contact him but it was no use, there was a strong magical energy in the house blocking any communication.
"Hey, Saria, can you do something for me?" Neirol finally spoke, "when, and I mean when, you get rid of those women, would you destroy my bracelet please? You can leave me here for now, I'd like to be alone."
"If you're sure…" Saria went to take the bracelet off.
"Oh and Saria," he said before she could fully remove it, "if you ever need some arrows, just twist the hilt of the sword."
"Huh?" she blinked.
"I'm sure you'll work it out if you need to," he grinned then faded out of sight, leaving Saria to work out what to do next. Turning to the left, she saw a door leading off into the rest of the house, anything was better than standing there.
Hundreds upon hundreds of pictures flew past Link's eyes, some he remembered while others he was sure were exaggerated, or was he really that forgetful? Either way, he wouldn't let them see how he was feeling and they had to run out of bad memories to torture him with eventually.
"He does not flinch sisters," a voice hissed from above.
"Then let us show him something else, after all, we can access anyone's mind in this house."
A new set of frames swept into the room out of nowhere and took their place amongst the rest. One fairly new-looking frame broke away from the group and stuck itself to the main wall where a memory Link had never seen before began.
The picture showed him a familiar scene of the fairy ball but he was nowhere in the image, so whose memory was it? To answer his question the memory blurred out then on to the image of Saria and Nori dancing at the ball, watching them made him wish he had had the nerve to dance with her in public and not running away like he had done. The dance continued until something happened that would have normally shocked him, but for some reason the sisters couldn't work out, it didn't.
"You thought you'd show me Nori kiss Saria and think I'd be hurt?" Link could feel his strength slowly returning. "Too bad since I already knew. That Fairy Ale does strange things to the mind you know, I accidentally saw some of her thoughts without realising but then I passed out and didn't remember the next day. It doesn't matter though since people make mistakes." He didn't know why he was explaining himself to them but he felt they should know how much it didn't bother him and the knowledge that Saria could be in the place he was made him feel a lot better.
"Ah, sisters, if no other memories crush him, this one surely will."
A dark frame from the one of the highest corners of the room drifted down to the wall taking the place of the previous one. Link stared at it dumbly, confident that whatever was in it wouldn't phase him any more than the others had. Letting the memory begin, he watched intently as his mind became absorbed in the past of himself or Saria.
The Kokiri girl and her fairy sat high up in the peaceful courtyard of the Forest Temple. Swinging her legs over the side of the ledge she was sitting on, Saria looked down at the ground below; it was a long way down. She had no idea how long they'd been there, it could have been days or even months for all she cared, the only thing she cared about had left her standing on a bridge years ago. Of course, she always had known it was going to happen, but she had pushed it to the back of her mind as if doing that would stop it from happening.
"Saria?" Nori asked quietly, she hadn't spoken for hours.
"Yeah?" she replied, her tone emotionless.
"Do you want to go back to the village? I'm sure your friends are worried."
"I'm not good company right now," she mumbled and pulled her legs up to her chest.
"But if you went back maybe you'd feel better," Nori hated seeing her like this, he knew he shouldn't but he felt angry towards Link for leaving her.
"You don't understand."
"Then explain to me." he landed on the floor next to her, anxious about how close she was sitting to the edge of the ledge.
"It wouldn't make a difference to how I'm feeling if I did go back, he was - is my best friend, and I…I…"
"I know you miss him but-"
"I should move on? When was the last time you tried moving on from someone you l-" she stopped herself as if saying it would bring down the temple walls.
"Let's just face facts, now that he's gotten a taste of the outside, he'll never want to come back here and who can blame him?" she would have carried on but her emotions got the better of her and the tears came.
Link squeezed his eyes shut, unable to watch the scene anymore. After all this time, Saria had never told him what had gone on in those seven years, they would always talk about what he'd been doing but when he would ask about her she would pretend everything was fine. That was Saria all over, always putting others before herself, especially him. His eyes started to water as he played back the scene in his head, a stream of guilt burning through his chest.
"Please don't cry, I hate seeing you like this."
He heard Nori's voice saying in the image, the memory was still playing.
Shifting her legs back over the edge, Saria peered down at the ground below and suddenly had a rush of thoughts about what it would be like to hit the ground from that far up; what it would be like to feel something, anything, just to feel instead of the constant numbness that had consumed her heart.
"What do you think it would be like to fall from here?" she finally said when the tears had stopped.
"I don't- Saria! Why are you asking such things!" Nori found himself wishing Link or the Great Deku Tree was there right about then, or anyone who could bring back the old Saria again.
"Link doesn't care anymore, you'd be better off without me and everyone in the village could easily get on without my existence. Even if the fall wouldn't kill me, it would be nice to feel pain, to feel like this isn't some twisted nightmare, to feel alive."
The image continued to play out but all Link could hear were those last words Saria had said. He couldn't, no - he wouldn't believe, that Saria would think to do something like that, not over him. Then he remembered where he was, it was them playing with his mind, he knew it. The whole thing was probably pieced together by some kind of dark magic and he'd fallen for it, but not for much longer. Something in his mind snapped.
"You liars!" he screamed over the sound of Nori's voice speaking words he could barely hear.
"He thinks we lie sisters," a voice cackled.
"The fool obviously does not know this is all true, true that the Forest Sage is not all she seems."
"No! You're lying!" Link felt an immense energy overtake his body and before he knew what was happening, the cloth on his right hand tore apart enabling a glowing Ebelon blade to materialise out of his hand. Not stopping to think about what was going on, he dashed towards the picture and sliced the sword straight through it. A burst of light shone through the tear in the image and without warning, the rest of the frames started flying around the room, slamming angrily into a startled Link who covered his face and ended up falling to the floor as they span over his head, until finally, they stopped.
A door appeared in the place the large frame had been as footsteps could be heard approaching the room. Bracing himself for a new enemy, he gave a sigh of relief when he saw who it was.
"Link!" Saria pushed open the door, her face lighting up when she saw him, the complete opposite of how she'd looked in the memory. Noticing that he'd been crying, she ran over and pulled him into a hug. "What have they been doing to you?"
"Too much," he choked out, returning the hug. "But it's better, now that you're here."
Suddenly the door disappeared as the walls of the room began to close in, so slowly that it was hardly noticeable. The spirits of the sisters warped into the room just as the Ebelon Sword disappeared from Link's hand.
"Here," Saria handed him the Gilded Sword.
"Once we kill the Hero of Time and use the Forest Sage's powers to restore ourselves, the return of Lord Ganondorf will begin."
Link snorted, he'd destroyed them once before and he could do it again. Gripping his sword tightly, he ran blindly towards them with only one thing in his mind, hurting them for the pain they'd caused. Slashing through the nearest one who happened to be Meg, he wasn't surprised when she vanished out of his sight and he felt a searing pain cutting across his back. Stumbling into the nearest wall, he turned around and was sure the room looked a bit smaller but didn't have time to think it over when the four sisters surrounded Saria.
"I think you're forgetting something," Saria disappeared and reappeared on the other side of the room, "Aeffia had lost her powers, while I haven't." Taking out the sword, she instinctively twisted the hilt and the weapon twisted into a dark green bow. Under the impression it was enchanted, she placed one hand where the arrow should have been and pulled back to reveal a shimmering, emerald arrow which she fired without hesitation towards the sisters.
The arrow collided with the poes causing a small explosion sending everyone, including Link and Saria flying backwards into the walls.
"I didn't think we'd get hit," Saria turned to look at the wall, she could see it gradually closing in now.
"They're using most of their energy to do this," Link took out the Mirror Shield, using it to block oncoming attacks, "along with other tricks they've been playing." He knew he would be able to take all four out with a powerful spin attack, but the room was becoming smaller by the minute so anything he tried would surely harm Saria too.
"Surround them sisters and prepare to finish them!" The poes formed a circle around the pair. "Neither can attack and neither can run," they started focusing on the same spell they'd used on Aeffia.
There has to be a way… Link thought as he and Saria stood back-to-back. Clutching at his sword, he suddenly had an idea. "Saria, you have the sword, right?"
"Yeah, but I can't use it for much," she replied, twisting the bow so it would return to being a sword.
"Just bare with me, reach around and hold onto my sword and I'll do the same for yours,"
Deciding he knew what he was doing, Saria did as he asked and reached around to hold onto the hilt of his sword.
"Ok, now focus all of your energy into the blades and let me do the rest."
In a matter of seconds both blades were glowing a light blue while the sisters carried on concentrating on their spells, the walls continuing to move inwards, another minute and they wouldn't be able to move. As soon as both swords were glowing a deep orange, Link closed his eyes and pulled them into the mightiest spin attack his strength would allow. Bursts of orange energy filled the room, sending sparks of burning magic slicing into the sisters who screeched in agony as the power of both blades tore through their defences, ripping into their wretched souls. No spell could counter the force of such an attack.
The screams of the women echoed throughout the room even after their souls had gone, but they had something else to worry about, the walls had stopped moving but the entire house was falling apart.
"Let's go!" Link grabbed Saria's hand as the door reappeared and they headed into the dark corridor which led back to the main room.
"Wait, I need to do something," Saria pulled him in the opposite direction of the exit.
"But this place will crush us," he didn't want life to end, not now they were finally home.
"it's really important, to me," Saria was a little annoyed Neirol had asked her to come back and destroy his bracelet but she wouldn't go back on her word.
"Okay," Link nodded. "If it's important to you then it's important to me too."
Dodging a falling chandelier, they arrived in front of the largest picture in the house. Kneeling on the floor Saria found the bracelet and looked at it for one last time, holding it between both hands, she attempted to tear it apart but it was no good.
"It must need magic…" she reached for her sword and placed the bracelet on the carpet. "I guess this is goodbye Neirol, it's a shame we didn't get to speak much but the past belongs in the past." Bringing the sword down over it, she sliced right through the flowers letting Neirol's spirit finally rest in peace. "Okay, we can go now," she stood and took Link's hand.
Arriving at the door just as the back walls collapsed onto the table, they left in the knowledge that the Poe Sisters wouldn't be returning for a long time.
"Here they come!" Zelda exclaimed when she saw them tumbling through the portal back into the real Forest Temple.
"I forgot I'd have to do that again on the way back," Saria mumbled, rubbing her head.
"Oh Link! Saria! You're ok!" Madi squealed, flying over to them and, as usual, making the most noise in the room.
"Of course we are, me and Saria make a great team," Link grinned, pushing the memories of most people in the room to the back of his mind.
"Well, I think we should go back to the castle to discuss things, Malon is there too, oh, speaking of her…" Zelda turned to Link. "She knows everything and is rather mad at you."
"Oh," the image of Malon's hurt expression crept into his mind again. "I'll be sure to talk to her later."
Waiting for everyone to leave for the castle, he reached for Saria's hand and pulled her into a hug.
"I saw a lot of things back there, things from the past that I didn't need to be shown again. They expected me to believe that they could access anyone's memories who was in the house, of course I didn't believe them…"
"What kind of memories?" Saria's face turned slightly pale.
"Well, there were a few of yours, one took place in the lost years but I didn't believe it happened, you're not someone who would think of that…"
Avoiding eye contact, Saria looked down knowing exactly what he was talking about and from her reaction, Link knew that it had been true all along.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked gently.
"I wanted to, I just didn't know what to say. I didn't want you to feel like it was your fault," she wiped the newly forming tears ni her eyes.
"It doesn't matter what it's about, I want to know when something's wrong, even if it's about me. You're the most important person in the world to me and I want you to be happy. I love you."
"Okay," Saria couldn't say much else, she didn't know why she had been afraid of his reaction, he was such an amazing person, so much so, that she couldn't stop herself crying knowing how lucky she was to have him.
"Hey, don't cry, you'll start me off, What would the others think of us if they came back and saw us both crying?" he smiled and kissed her. "But tell me, what brought you out of it?"
"It was the vines, they literally picked me up and put me down on the ground, that's when I realised the temple needed me."
"So you knew about the pendants all along?" Link asked Nabooru as he, Saria and Taj sat around her on the lush grass of Zelda's private courtyard in the evening sun.
"Somewhat," Nabooru twisted a piece of hair around her finger. I knew they had something to do with Ganondorf but wasn't quite sure what. He was always hiding things and creating strange creatures to use to hide his treasures around the fortress and elsewhere, so I guessed something was going on when he left for Meldora on multiple occasions with those pendants."
"But why didn't you tell us?" Saria asked.
"Because like I said, I wasn't sure. This is one of the reasons I sent Taj, I thought you may like the help of someone who had been to Meldora before and I wanted him to learn something. Did you boy?" she leered at the startled Sheikah.
"Um, I learned that H-Hylians aren't as b-bad as I was led to believe."
"And?" Nabooru pressed him on.
"And… Ganondorf was a liar." he said in a forced tone, it would take him a while to get used to it.
"Then your debt is fully repaid," the Spirit Sage slapped him on the back. "He insisted that he wouldn't leave the fortress until he had repaid me for my kindness in some way so I said it would be if he helped you guys out. Of course, the fortress will always be a home for you kid, but I think a certain Shadow Sage would like to speak with you."
"That would be correct," Impa appeared out of the evening shadows, a look of contempt on her face that only she could perfect as she looked towards Nabooru. "Come with me young man," she pointed to another area of the courtyard where she could speak with the boy alone.
"Soooo Link, did ya bring me anything? Apart from those horrible keys that is," Nabooru grinned, she would always harass Link for presents of treasure when he returned from his adventures. "I mean, Taj did help you a lot right? So you practically owe me something."
"Uh," Link thought of the new items he'd picked up and wondered which he could do without. "Here," he took out the enormous shield they'd found in the Shrine of Imitia, the sun in the centre sparkling when the light bounced off it.
"Oh, how marvellous! This can go on a wall in the temple!" she smiled, referring to the Spirit Temple.
"Hey! Link!" Ruto yelled across the courtyard. "We need to talk," she walked over to them and set herself in the cool water of the moat. "Now, word is that you and Saria got it together and as much as it pains me to say it, I will finally admit defeat for your heart. It's weird, but the first time I met Saria, I kinda liked her, you're hard not to," the Zora nodded to Saria who shot her a smile. "However," she leaned forward and whispered, "if you had gotten with any princess apart from myself, I would have been furious!"
"Um, thank you, I think," Link moved his face away from hers.
"So, now that we've got that cleared up, I wanted to ask you something. Since Saria is now your girlfriend, you're looking for a new best friend, right?"
"Erm no, it doesn't work like that," Link had been hoping she wouldn't do something like this.
"Well ok then, maybe not right now, but I will be fighting for your best friendship Link! You watch, it will be me!" she splashed them both with water before swimming over to speak with the others.
"I think we can go h-," Link was cut off when another voice shouted over to him.
"Hello Hero of Time!" Malon stomped across the grass, her fiery hair blowing out behind her.
"Malon!" he almost choked.
"Why did you lie to me!" she screamed in his face. "I thought we were meant to be friends but obviously not!"
"We are!" he moved back a little. "It's just, you were one of the only people who was friends with me for being me and not for being a hero. It was nice to talk to you without the worry of all of that on my mind, I didn't want to drag you into it… I'm sorry."
The ranch girl eyed him for a moment, wondering whether she should carry on screaming or be touched that he thought of her as a genuine friend. She had to be fair since she didn't yell at Zelda when she found out she had been her mysterious saviour…
"Can you forgive me?" Link asked when she didn't respond.
"Of course I will!" she forgot her anger and almost strangled him in a hug then moved onto Saria and proceeded to do the same to her. "We have a lot of catching up to do! I want to get to know Saria and your charming Fairy friends," she pointed at Madi who was chattering to anyone she could find and Nori who was trying to calm her down.
Over in a corner, Impa and Taj had been discussing how much Sheikah magic Taj knew.
"If you'd like, you could come and live here where I would personally train you," Impa offered.
"That would be an honour, Lady Impa," Taj couldn't believe what he'd been asked. "But I must ask Lady Nabooru first."
"I'm sure she will be fine with it and you can go to visit her whenever you please," Impa gave a rare smile, she finally had someone of her own race to pass on her wisdom to.
"Nori, Madi, we're going home, are you coming or not?" Link asked.
"Yeah!" Madi screamed over everyone else. "We're going home!"
After most people had left the courtyard, Malon shifted over to Zelda with a big grin on her face.
"What's so amusing?" the princess raised an eyebrow.
"Saria told me they went to a place, in the sky!"
"T-they did?" Zelda couldn't believe her books were wrong about something.
"Yep! It was a town suspended in the air on a huge stone pillar!"
"Huh? Technically that's not in the sky, that's just sticking up really high," Zelda mentally sighed, good old books, always so right.
"Nuh-uh! It's in the sky!" Malon wasn't going to be swayed.
"Right, if you say so Malon, if you say so."
Link, Madi and Perri were sat in the Deku Sprout's Meadow filling the curious guardian in about the trip to Meldora.
"Quite impressive, I must say!" the sprout exclaimed. "And young Madi over there wanted to come back here to learn to be a guardian? That's a brilliant idea! But what in the name of Hyrule is this bird-creature?"
"That's Perri, he's a Pepeckeri who belongs to Saria, I guess she'll come to see you later," Link ducked as the bird tried to peck his head.
"I see," the sprout made a note to put a charm on Perri to stop him being so hostile. "Did you discover anything else on your journey?"
"Hmm, there was the mystery of the Shrine of Imitia, would you know why Madi couldn't see anything in the rooms while the rest of us could?"
"I am not that familiar with the Imitia realm but I do know it reflects the deepest wishes and fears of the person entering it. I'm assuming Madi's greatest wish was to come here but since she had never seen it, she did not remember it, as for her fear, that would be something only she would know."
"What about the appearance of one of the Ebelon Swords in my hand?" Link felt guilty for asking the sprout so many questions.
"My only explanation for that is as you told me, the wound was made by one of those swords so its energy was still in the cut. It will probably leave when the wound is healed."
"We were also wondering something, you mentioned before that Neirol and Aeffia left something behind, is it the Kokiri Sword?"
"I thought it would be obvious to you by now Link, but no, it is not the sword. You are aware of how Hylians reproduce, correct?"
"Not really, I've never had the need to ask," Link felt a little stupid for never wondering.
"Well, it does not matter since Kokiri don't do that!"
"I thought you created them?" Link hoped he was right this time.
"That's right! But do you know how? Each Kokiri is created with a certain energy, some are created from original energy which takes a while for me to make, while others are created from existing energy." the sprout paused and wondered if Link had worked it out yet.
"So… you took energy from… .Aeffia and energy from Neirol and… created Saria! So wait, they're her parents?" he blinked, totally confused.
"No of course they aren't!" the sprout couldn't help chuckling. "But you are right about their energy, hence the similarities between Saria and them both. I also used other energy from certain other Kokiris of the past, one you know rather well."
"Let me guess, you used Reidol's to create Mido? So Mido and Saria could be distantly related by energy… so that's why she chose him to use the magic barrier, she couldn't choose anyone else, but then, that means…"
"She already knew," the sprout was relieved to see Link work it out. "I think from the time she met Neirol, Saria would have realised how they were connected, after all, she already knew how Kokiris are created. Even you have some Kokiri energy in you Link."
"Yes! How else do you think you were able to live in the forest for so long? Of course, yours isn't as strong as the usual Kokiri and it took me a while to make it since it needed to be fused into your blood, that is why I am terribly sorry to say I couldn't pick a Fairy for you for so long, the energy was so different from the rest, only the best would do!"
"So when Mido would say I'm not a true Kokiri, he was wrong?"
"That is correct, you are just as much a Kokiri as the rest of my children and you must never forget that."
The sun had nearly set over the peaceful forest. Link lay in the soft grass of the tranquil Sacred Meadow, his head resting on his hat as he enjoyed the feeling of knowing there were no more pendants to search for and no more enemies to fight. Staring up at the mixture of yellows and oranges in the misty sky, he closed his eyes and took in the calming sounds of the breeze rustling through the trees. Hearing the sound of Saria coming up the steps from the Lost Woods, he kept his eyes shut pretending to be asleep.
Walking across the meadow, Saria lay down on her side where she placed one hand under her chin and sat staring at Link in silence. He looked so perfect when he slept that she could have easily sat like that forever.
Knowing that she was watching him, Link still kept his eyes closed. He could smell the sweet scent of flowers she always smelled like, they were a rare kind that only grew in certain parts of the woods, he would have to find out their name sometime.
Moving a little closer to him, Saria slowly edged her face towards his, she couldn't resist kissing him when he was like this.
"Saria, can we talk please?" Nori's voice interrupted from within the temple just as her lips brushed over Link's.
Sighing, she jumped up and made her way into the temple. "I'm coming."
Opening his eyes in disappointment, Link frowned, where did his kiss go?
Saria entered the main chamber of the temple and found her Fairy perched on one of the low walls in the centre of the wall. Taking a seat next to him, she waited for him to speak.
"I need to tell you something," Nori began, his voice not his usual confident tone.
"Okay, go on," his tone made her anxious.
"I-I don't know where to begin, really. It has been such an honour to be your guardian Saria, I couldn't have asked for a better charge, but now…"
"Now?" Saria had a vague idea of what was coming but didn't want to say it.
"Now it's time to say goodbye."
The room fell silent between the two, neither wanted the conversation to end. Saria knew exactly why it had to be but didn't want to have to let him go.
"Why?" she asked dumbly, just to prolong their departure.
"You know why… Fairies are for children, you're no longer classed as a child."
"But, I still need you, I-I can't imagine life without you," she could feel the tears coming again, she'd never cried so much in one day for a long time.
"I can't imagine life without you either," he pushed his own tears back, he wouldn't break down in front of her. "The Deku Sprout has given me an ultimatum, one I need to think long and hard over, but for now, it's best if we take some time apart. You need to grow on your own and I need, well I need to let you go."
"What's the ultimatum?" Saria asked curiously.
"I can't tell you now, but I will one day, when I've made my decision. For now you be sure to take care and if Link ever treats you wrong, I'll be the first to give him a piece of my mind. But I'm sure he won't which is good for me since it's the only piece I have left," he smiled when she stopped crying, he could still make a joke when he wanted. "Now, I should go see what chaos Madi has caused with the other Fairies already."
"I'll come visit you in the Deku Sprout's Meadow?" Saria asked as he took to leave.
"Yeah… you can," he took a last glance at the girl he loved so dearly before leaving just as Link was entering.
"Is he ok?" Link asked then noticed she'd been crying. "Are you? What happened?"
"Nothing, just the parting of the ways I suppose."
She didn't need to say anymore since Link knew exactly how she felt. Noticing where they were, he remembered the time he'd came back to see her only days ago, it felt like a lifetime had passed.
"You know, we never did finish what we started here," he gave her a mischievous grin.
"And what was that?"
"This!" he snatched her hair band and dashed towards the elevator
"Oh Link, you jerk!" she laughed and chased him to the elevator which started moving down as soon as they stepped into it.
"You know there's one major difference between the last time we did this and now," he slid his arms around her.
"You mean this?" she leaned up and kissed him.
"Yep, but you still aren't having your headband back," he grinned and ran off when the elevator hit the basement.
"I could easily take it if I really wanted it!" she shouted after him.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say Butterfly," Link ran into the main basement room, knowing full well that she could take it back if she wanted, it was her temple after all but he had a suspicion she actually enjoyed chasing him.
As they ran, one of them dropped a piece of paper which was the first pictograph they had had taken together at Link's party. On the bottom the two words the pictographer had written read as clearly as they had done on that first day.
A/N: So there it is, finally uploaded here. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering why it took so long to put the rest of the chapters up and the only thing I can say is sorry. Stuff happens and life gets in the way, you know how it is.
I'd like to say thank you to you all for reading (if you still are after all these years!). I'd also like to thank all the good people who used to go to Intellectual Vacancy for being a huge support during the writing of this story and another thank you to a certain person who hasn't contacted me in a long time who was also a big inspiration to me, I hope he knows who he is if he ever decides to read this again.
And of course, I'm not just going to leave it there. If you want to know what happens next, take a look at the sequel "It Only Takes A Turn".