A/N: This chapter moves a bit away from the original frivolity of the story. There's a bit of plot integrated from the show into the game. It always bothered me that those demons from the hell dimension in The Gift (5x22) looked so much like the Zoras. Anyway, here goes. Hopefully some people are still interested in this silly story. :)
---The expression on Buffy's face was one of pure awe as the pathway gave way to a community carved out of the rock. Another waterfall poured into the pond around which the community was based; white blurs moved beneath the surface of the water, crystalline blue. She moved along the path slowly, taking in her surroundings; Angel floated beside her, apparently in a similar state of awe. Buffy noticed and smiled. "Anything like you expected?"
Angel seemed to shake his head. "I expected a metropolis, like Restfield Cemetery." He whistled in a strange high-pitched fairy way. "Geez, if I was evil and not a fairy anymore, this place would be so much fun to destroy."
Buffy rolled her eyes as she turned right into an area that led to the water's edge. "Is it bad that I'm already getting used to these comments?"
Angel was silent for a moment. "Are you?"
"Well… yes and no. It's your fault, you keep making them. I just kind of accept them as disturbing… it doesn't really seem like they're relevant to you at all. I get that you used to be evil, but you're not anymore. And that's what's important, you know?"
Angel glowed a bit brighter for a moment; his response, however, was clipped by a soft voice behind them. "Can I help you, Miss?"
Buffy turned to regard a tall figure. He sort of resembled a Hylian; he was very thin, however, as well as starch white and adorned with fins. Buffy shook her head momentarily to shake off her awe of the proud creature. "Um… no. Well, maybe. I'm on a quest… there's this whole thing about saving the world… it's a long story. I'm looking for a spiritual stone, and a friend told me that the Zoras might have it." Buffy hesitated. "Do you… know them?"
The creature smiled. "You must be a messenger of the Royal Family if you were able to enter."
"You have come to the right place. We are the Zoras, a clan of peaceful demons. Clem, our king, sits at the top of the palace. You should inquire about your quest with him."
Buffy nodded. "Where do I go to find him?"
The Zora turned his head to the right. Buffy was suddenly hit with a wave of something; a series of images presented in her mind against her will.
mobs of insanity
tower of welded steel
buildings overcome by black
Zoras rearing their heads
"Turn right and climb the stairs; they will lead you to our King. Are you all right?"
"I… yes. Thank you," Buffy stammered, brushing past the Zora and following his instructions up the stairs. Angel followed just behind her.
"You're shaking," Angel muttered in her ear with grave concern. "And you're dead pale. What happened?"
"I don't know. I just flashed to… I don't know what it was. A memory, a premonition, I don't know, but it was something and it didn't belong in my head."
"What did you see?"
"Some sort of apocalyptic scene. The air was tearing and lightning was hitting things… a building turned black and Zoras were suddenly everywhere. They didn't belong. It was so not good. I'm suddenly not so sure they're the peaceful clan they claim."
Angel frowned. "Are you sure they were there for the purposes of evil?"
"The world was ending, Angel. I don't think they were just visiting to help granny with her baking."
Angel was silent as he tried to figure out what Buffy had seen when they came upon a very large and very round Zora, sitting in the middle of what appeared to be a sort of shrine. Buffy suppressed a smirk at the demon's size compared to the Zora she'd just spoken with. "So… do I talk to him from here?"
"Maybe go up that path to the right, it leads right to him. Listen, Buffy, I've lived a while, and as long as I can remember, the Zoras have served the Royal Family. If they were evil once upon a time, it's not their way now."
"Something like that."
"All right. I can accept that," Buffy said, smiling at her fairy. She was now right beside Clem; she noticed for the first time that he seemed to be whimpering about something. "Er… excuse me, Mr. Zora King?"
Clem went on whimpering and didn't acknowledge Buffy's existence.
Buffy scowled and went back down the path. She stood in front of Clem and watched him as she tried to figure out what to do; it was then that she noticed the sign. It read:
"King Zora's throne room. To hear the king's royal proclamation, stand on the platform and speak to him."
"Only the platform?" Buffy asked.
"Guess so," Angel said.
"I was right beside him. Right there. Way closer to his ear."
"He won't respond unless you're standing on the platform."
"Uh-huh. Weird customs." Buffy stepped onto the platform. "Sorry to bother you, sir, but…"
"Oh my dear, sweet Princess… where has she gone? I'm so worried."
Buffy frowned and leaned toward Angel, talking out of the corner of her mouth. "If he's the king, the princess is his daughter, right?"
"Most likely, yeah," Angel replied.
"Okay." Buffy stood up straight again. "The Princess, sir?"
"Oh my dear, sweet Princess… where has she gone? I'm so worried."
"You… already said that."
"Oh my dear, sweet—"
"He's not going to help me until I find the princess, is he?"
"Probably not, no," Angel replied.
Buffy sighed and jumped off the platform. The water reached to about her ankles; she noticed a passageway to her left and decided to explore. Soon the passage ended; it quite literally dropped off and became the waterfall. A Zora stood at the top. Buffy peered over the edge hesitantly.
"Want to play? 20 rupees," the Zora asked.
"Diving game. If you can collect all five blue rupees within the time limit, I'll give you something."
Buffy shrugged. "I kinda feel like I'm being suckered, but okay." She handed the Zora her money; he promptly exchanged the red rupee for five blue ones and threw them over the falls.
Buffy gazed down fearfully. "I knew there was a catch."
Angel hovered over the edge. "Time's already running down, Buffy."
"Ha! Haha! Height may not be a problem for you since you fly and all, but some of us ground-dwelling creatures don't enjoy leaping off thirty-foot embankments."
"Actually it's probably more like forty—"
"Just jump. If you've got the visions, you've got the intuition."
"What does that mean?"
"I'll fly with you. Come on."
Buffy's scowl subsided into fear only momentarily before she took a breath and jumped. She felt herself pull into a graceful dive, hitting the water with barely any splash. She broke surface and grinned at Angel, who had flown down with her.
"Good! Now get the money."
"Oh! Right." Buffy dove, keeping her eyes open under the water, snatching up all five monetary pieces in three dives. She broke the surface again and shook tried to shake the water out of her hair. The Zora called from his perch atop the waterfall.
"Okay! Come up and claim your prize."
Buffy talked non-stop as she swam toward shore. "That was awesome. Like, actually. I didn't know I could do that. Did you know I could do that?" Angel started to respond before Buffy cut him off again. "What doesn't make sense to me is why I can dive off a cliff like that but once in the water I can't really do anything. I just sort of duck underwater, and run out of breath instantly and have to come back up again." Buffy stood and waded to dry land. "Hey, look, fish," she pointed out off-handedly. She reached behind her to wring out her hair and was mystified when no water came from it; her hair was completely dry. She frowned and looked down; all of her was completely dry. "Huh?"
"Oh. Huh. Maybe it's a Zora thing."
"I guess so." Buffy was silent as she made her way back up the stairs and down the corridor. She looked up expectantly at the Zora, who smiled.
"Well, here's your gift," he said. Suddenly what looked like a guitar pick in a bubble shot up and floated around her head. Angel spoke cheerfully.
"You got the silver scale! Where you could only stay underwater for three seconds before, you can now stay under for six!" Buffy felt a distant click in her mind, and she knew the bubble had automatically sent itself to her START menu.
"That was one spectacular dive," the Zora commented after Buffy thanked him for the scale. Buffy smiled and leapt off the waterfall again, this time without hesitation.
"You did that to show off, didn't you?" Angel asked when Buffy resurfaced.
"Maybe a little," she grinned. She stayed in the water this time, not worried about catching a cold now that she knew that she'd dry as soon as she was out of the water. She swam toward the other end of the lake, passing a couple of Zora that surfaced as she passed. "What do you think is down there?" she asked her fairy, beckoning with her head at what looked like a passage at the bottom of the lake.
"I don't know. Maybe that's were the Princess went," Angel suggested. Buffy raised her eyebrows at the fairy.
"Guess we're going in." Angel nodded and flew into Buffy's hat. Buffy took a deep breath and dove deep beneath the water.