The sun was showing directly overhead, but the party hardly felt the noontime heat in the depths of the forest they had entered. Conversation among the three was sparse; the weight of the mission that had been thrust upon them wore heavily at their minds. "At least," thought Rita walking behind the other two, "it's pretty out here." It was indeed a beautiful area. The trees had grown to a great extent and from their canopies flowed the numerous, varied songs of birds. As she walked behind Cindy and Terrance, she noticed the looks on their faces. Neither spoke, they were as introverted as Rita had been. She walked behind them solemnly, reflecting on her friends.

Cindy had been living in Prelude for the past five years and had been Rita's close friend since then. She rarely spoke of this past life, but Rita knew that it was a time of great suffering for her. She had belonged to a wealthy family living in North Shore, a resort near the Crystal Lake, but had fled from her home due to her abusive mother. She had run and had not stopped until she found her way to Prelude where she fainted from exhaustion. Rita found her lying in the road and gone for help. Afterward, Cindy had remained with the hospital and been trained as an apprentice surgeon. Cindy and Rita had been good friends ever since.

She then turned her attention to Terrance. Terrance had come to Prelude two years earlier as a ranger hired by the government in Emerald. It was his job to watch over the roads between Prelude and Emerald to make sure they were safe for travelers. Unlike Cindy who was very talkative, Terrance had a taciturn disposition and rarely spoke. However little he spoke, he was still kind, brave, and loyal to a fault. Rita knew little about his past, but his blond hair and muscular body, neither of which he possessed at that moment, gave him away as a man of Kirrah, a country across the sea to the West of Emerald. Rita smiled as she thought about Cindy and Terrance: they were an item, and Rita hoped they would get married soon.

The group continues through the woods until they approach some low bushes. A strange rustling noise comes from behind them. Terrance peeks over and then signals for the others to advance. Three goombas, short mushroom-like monsters, common pests in the forests of Emerald, are tumbling around on the other side of the bushes. Terrance turns to speak:

Terrance (Softly): Here's our chance to warm up before the Forest Temple. All right, Rita, just remember everything I've taught you. Don't worry; I won't let them hurt you.

Rita: Why should we hurt them? They never did anything to us!

At the sound of Rita's voice, the three goombas leap up and prepare to attack. Terrance unsheathes his sword, Cindy readies her bow, and Rita, unwillingly, pulls out her knife. One of the monsters charges and Terrance effortlessly cuts it in half. Cindy looks as though she is having trouble loading her crossbow, which though small, is still too large for a cindaquil. One approaches Rita cautiously. The two opponents stare at each other, each measuring the other up until finally the goomba rushes at her. Rita screams, closing her eyes and holding her knife out in front of her. As the sound of "battle" dies down, Rita opens her eyes to find the goomba impaled on the end of her knife and the last one lying on the ground with a crossbow bolt through its head. She removes her weapon from the goomba and looks at the brown slime dripping from it.

Rita: I'm not gunna like this job, am I?

Cindy: You'll be fine. We'll get this over with quick, and Vile Thing will never know what hit her!

The group continues until they reach a small stone building overgrown with shrubbery. Terrance stops before the entrance to speak:

Terrance: We have to be careful, I don't know what's in there now.

Rita: You've been in there before?

Terrance: Yes, once. It was very plain. It has only one room, so I assume we will confront the demon as soon as we enter.

Cindy: So, we need a plan?

Terrance: It's difficult to come up with a plan when you know nothing of your enemy. The room is empty except for a stone altar near the back wall. Aside from that, plants.

Rita: Plants?

Terrance: You see this (He waves his hand with a sweeping gesture across the temple) The inside is a forest in itself.

Cindy: OK, so we'll go in and if the demon is there we'll fight it. If we're not doing so well, we can leave-there's no door.

They all ready their weapons and charge in to find the room empty except for an overgrowth of plant life and as Terrance explained, a stone altar. Though not satisfied at being wrong in their assumptions, the group was not disappointed either. They approach the altar. It is simple, carved out of stone and has no other markings on it than jagged arrows pointing toward the floor. After observing this, they proceed to search through the rest of the room, cutting their way through the plants as they went. It was not a large room and so this did not take long. Yet, their search yielded nothing.

Cindy: Well, where did we go wrong?

Rita: I wish we had a better idea of what I'm expected to do. We're stuck already and we haven't even met the first demon yet.

She looks defeated already and goes to sit down. She leans against the altar as she slides onto the floor, and suddenly, the altar makes a loud grinding noise. Startled, Rita hops to her feet.

Rita: What was that?!

Terrance walks up to the altar, observing it carefully. He pushes against its side with all his might and it slides back against the wall revealing a staircase underneath. Terrance grunts from his exertion, and without hesitation heads down the stairs. Cindy and Rita follow, but more cautiously. As they set foot on the floor beneath them, they notice right away that the room is well-lit from an unknown source. The room is somewhat smaller than the one above them and similarly covered in vegetation, except the ceiling is significantly higher. In the center of this room is a tree bearing golden, glowing berries. At its base is a sign that, strangely, reads in the common tongue: "May the golden fruit of this tree guide its bearers onward into that true gold above: the shining glory of light." Cindy takes some of the fruit and holds it out to Terrance who shakes his head and plucks his own.

Terrance: Don't eat it-not yet anyway.

Cindy: What else could it be for?

Rita notices a doorway behind the tree and walks toward it. As she approaches, two brilliantly colored flowers sprout up from the wall and seem to follow Rita's movements.

Rita: Whoa, look at this.

Terrance looks up from the fruit and instantly draws his sword, shouting:

Terrance: Rita, get down!

Rita crouches just in time for one of the flowers to shoot a sticky yellow liquid just over her head. Where it lands on the dirt floor, it burns a hole straight down. Without devoting any more thought to the predicament, Terrance hurls his sword at one of the flowers and severs it from its stalk. Cindy shoots the other, which slouches down along the wall leaking its acid onto the ground.

Rita: Whew, that was close! What are those things?

As she says this, each of the flowers dissolves into fading, black particles.

Terrance's eyes widen as he simply replies: Evil...

He proceeds more cautiously to advance into the next room and down the flight of stairs it contains with the girls huddled together behind him. This room is empty of all plants, but the floor and walls are stone, except for a small section of the ground which is covered in a soft, loamy soil. Much of the walls and ceiling are covered in a thick, white web. A gasp from Rita causes the other two to spin around to look at her. Rita's green skin grew pale. She began trembling, and she had not regained her breath.

Terrance: What's wrong?!

Cindy (Catching Rita in her paws): Rita, calm down! It'll be all right!

Rita finally takes a deep breath, returning some of her color, but she continues shaking.

Terrance: What is it?

Cindy (Placing her paw on Rita's forehead and then looking up at the webs): She's fine. It's her phobia. She's afraid of spiders. I should have thought of this before we came in here...

Terrance: Ah, that's right... Is it serious?

Cindy: In a way, yes. We should get her...

Before Cindy can finish her sentence, Rita screams at the top of her lungs. Raising her hand, she points passed Cindy and Terrance who are crouched over her. An enormous spider-like creature is approaching the three from behind. It has five clawed legs which it uses to pull its bulky body across the floor. It has a heavy exoskeleton that makes it look armored, and one great, orange eye in its center. Terrance stands and unsheathes his sword. Cindy helps Rita up and patting her on the back, speaks reassuringly though she is now trembling as well. Cindy prepares her crossbow while Terrance rushes toward the monster. As he strikes at it, it knocks him to the side with one of its massive claws. Cindy launches a bolt which sticks in its body but is harmless against the thick armor.

Rita sinks back onto the ground, covering her eyes with her leaf while the battle continues. Thoughts of her experiences with spiders rushed through her mind: the time she was bitten by one and taken to the hospital. "She could die..." she remembered a doctor insensitively explaining to her mother. Then she remembered her mom one night. As a spider appeared near her bed, her mother called her to see it. They watched as it scurried across the floor helplessly. She beckoned Rita to stay and watch, telling her that "it was more afraid of her than she was of it" before squashing it with a nearby shoe.

Terrance strikes at it again, but his attack only bounces off the creature's hardened carapace. It turns and shoots a net of webbing over him, tying him to the ground. Cindy screams, trying to reload her crossbow as quickly as possible, but the beast raises its claw to finish Terrance. Suddenly, Rita kicks off the ground with a leap and plunges her little knife deep into the monster's eye. It reels back, knocking Rita to the floor and shrieking in pain. As she lifts herself again, Rita tears the web away from Terrance and helps him up as well. Terrance rushes over and thrusts his sword deep into the creature's eye as well. It shrieks again, wobbling across the floor and crashing into the walls before flipping over and expiring. Terrance approaches to reclaim their weapons while Cindy pats Rita on the back reassuringly.

Cindy (Panting): You're all right?

Rita (With some effort): Ya, he was more afraid of me than I was of him.

Cindy: Any idea what that thing was?

Terrance shrugs as he returns his sword to its sheathe.

Rita: It's a gohma...

Cindy: Where'd you learn that?

Rita: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time... Link fought it inside the Deku Tree. Its eye is its only weakness.

Cindy: Of all the things to know... But hey, I guess it helped out here!

Terrance returns Rita's knife and then holds out an ornamented key for the others to see.

Cindy: Where'd that come from?

Terrance simply nods his head toward the spider-like creature disintegrating into darkness on the ground behind them.

Terrance: Are you all right, Rita?

Rita: Ya, I think I'm fine. Let's just hurry and get this over with, OK?

Cindy and Terrance both nod and begin searching the room, which is very plain except for the patch of soil they had noticed before toward the back of the room. Even after pulling what webbing they can reach off the walls, they discover nothing and return to Rita who is resting on the soil.

Cindy: Well… Maybe we missed something in one of the other rooms. Did you see a locked door?

Terrance: No.

Cindy: That couldn't have been the demon, right?

Terrance: No. (He holds up the key) Why would it have been carrying this?

Cindy: Maybe we should go back, just to make sure…

Terrance: OK, come on, Rita… Rita?

He looks to Rita who is sitting motionless in the soil. Her eyes are closed and she has a pleasant look on her face.

Cindy: Rita!

The two grab her and pull her to her feet.

Rita (Energetically): Hey! What are you doing?

Terrance: We were wondering the same about you…

Rita: What do you mean?

She looks back at the place she was sitting and then holds her leaf up, looking closely at it. A broad smile passes over her face.

Rita: Oh!

Cindy: What? What happened?

Rita: I'm a plant now! Dirt is good for me, right?

Cindy: Well, umm… I guess so, but…

Terrance: What did it feel like? The sensation?

Rita: I don't know, really… I was relaxed a bit and then I guess I fell asleep. Now I feel like I had a triple-shot espresso mixed with a glass of Lon Lon: XX!

Terrance: I've never heard of Pokémon, even grass Pokémon, reacting like that in soil…

He leans over and runs his claw through the patch of dirt. Raising up a pinch of it, he examines it closely and then remarks:

Terrance: I feel it too… even in just a small amount. It's magic.

Cindy: Magic?

Terrance: This place and most of the temples throughout the world were built by the ancient Hylians. That's why they've stood the test of time-that's why they contain mana materialized in physical forms like this. The problem is learning why mana does this, and when it does, to what end…

Cindy: So you're saying this is here for a reason?

Terrance shrugs, then gets down on his knees and begins to dig in the soil. He digs a foot into the ground and then stops abruptly. The three peer into the hole; at the bottom is the same stonework which covers the rest of the room.

Terrance: Yes, this is meant to be here, but why?

Rita (thoughtfully): Maybe something used to be growing there.

Terrance: Then why wouldn't it be growing any more? This is still fertile and there are no signs of plant life anywhere around…

Cindy: So that must mean… there should be something growing here, but there isn't?

Rita looks around the room and then toward the ceiling, seeking more clues. Much of it is covered in webbing, but directly above the plot of soil, she notices a faint glimmer of light.

Rita: It's a puzzle… Remember? (She gestures toward the tiny streams of light peaking through the webs) 'Guide its bearers onward to the light' or something like that, right? The fruit!

Terrance immediately grasps her meaning and produces the glowing berry from his pack. Dropping it into the hole he had dug in the soil, he covers it over and the three stand over it, waiting. In a matter of seconds, a small green stalk protrudes from the soil, climbing upward. Another minute passes and it has become a young tree, yet it continues to grow. Finally, a great tree spreads its branches out before them, raising itself to the full height of the room. Overcoming the surprise at this miracle a moment before his companions, Terrance proceeds to climb the tree, now beginning to bear the same fruit from which it grew. Cindy and Rita give each other doubtful looks and then also begin the ascent. The branches were low and close together so the climb would not normally have been difficult, but under the circumstances of having completely new and unfamiliar bodies and all the other excitement of the day, the climb was very strenuous. Cindy and Terrance's claws help them scale the tree faster but Rita was at a complete loss. Finally, she sat down on one of the boughs, exhausted.

Cindy (Panting): Come on, Rita! We're almost there.

Rita rests her head against the great trunk. Then, she raises her head with a thoughtful smirk passing her lips.

Terrance, who is almost to the top calls down to Rita: Do you need help? It gets a little bit easier up here.

Instead of answering, Rita stands, balancing on her bough. All at once, two long vines sprout from the seeds below her neck. Using these, she reaches to one of the topmost branches and heaves herself up.

Cindy: Vine whip?! When'd you learn to do that?

Rita: Just now! Isn't it great?!

Terrance, continuing to climb, speculates out loud: Hmm, so we can use our Pokemon abilities… We truly have become Pokémon-not just in looks, but all the way. I wonder what else we can do…

Terrance stops to help Cindy up the rest of the way, joining Rita near the webbing on the ceiling. Rita directs her gaze away from the webs while Terrance cuts them down, revealing a small, round passageway. As Terrance lifts himself off the tree and into the room, he finds himself face to face with a small one-eyed monster resembling a ghoma. Its eye is green, but the moment it sees Terrance, the color fades to a dark orange and it pounces. Terrance ducks back into the hole just in time and the monster plummets down to the floor below. Unharmed by the fall, the creature raises itself and lets out a shriek before beginning to climb the tree. Terrance grabs Cindy and helps her onto the next floor and Rita, still fascinated by her newfound ability, uses vine whip to pull herself out. The room they find themselves in is circular except for one section which has a heavy, wooden door. But between the door and the adventurers lay hundreds of melon-sized egg sacs, jiggling and ready to unleash their hostile contents.

Cindy: Crap… babies…

Rita gasps and holds her breath. Cindy grabs her, hugging her tightly.

Cindy: Come on, we'll be fine, just walk by them and don't touch any… They won't come out as long as we don't bother them, right?

Rita regains her breath, but is now shaking. Terrance looks on toward the door and shrugs, seeing how hopeless it would be to try avoiding contact with the eggs that so thoroughly covered the floor.

Terrance: And just what do you propose we do, then?

Cindy: I was just about to ask that…

Terrance sighs. Then unsheathing his sword, he slices the ghoma that had again reached them from the tree below, this time allowing it to fall to its destruction. He looks onward resolutely and readying his sword, shouts: "Leeeeerooooy Jeeeennnkinnns!!"

He rushes into the mass of eggs ripping them to pieces, crushing all in his path. Those that hatch live, he quickly impales along with several others already fastened to the end of his sword.

Cindy and Rita stand in their spots, too dumbfounded to contribute to the slaughter. In another minute, the entire floor was covered in twitching fragments and green slime with Terrance standing against the door smothered in as much foul-smelling decoration as the ground. He raises his sword up, panting and then sheathes it again without bothering to clean it first. The girls are still standing, staring at him dumbfounded until he regains a breath to speak.

Terrance (Somewhat sarcastically): Thanks for all the help.

They just stand there blinking. Terrance hangs his head and then turns to unlock the door, finally bringing the two back to their senses.

Rita: Wow! That was crazy! What did you yell!? How did it feel?!

Terrance, after a slight pause, trying to determine if any of the questions were worth answering, replies: That shout is an old Kirran battle cry. The origins are unknown, but Kirran soldiers used to use it in any battle that seemed foolishly hopeless yet inevitable. It is supposedly based on the legend of a brave man named Leroy Jenkins who faced similar odds but was slain in the midst of the battle. His courage is remembered to this day through that cry.

Rita: Wow, how interesting!

Cindy: You reek! You smell like three weeks of garbage when you forget to take out the trash before leaving your apartment for work!

Terrance shrugs and proceeds to unlock the door, which is made of a heavy dark wood and chained, having a ridiculously large spiked lock in the center. As the lock clicks and falls to the ground before them, Terrance hesitates.

Terrance: This must be it. We have to be careful. Remember that we don't have to kill the demon, only weaken it so Rita can seal it. If anything happens, Rita has to continue on her mission, even if that means leaving us behind…

The three reflect on this grim fact for a moment before Terrance opens the door and walks forward with the girls close behind. The room they enter is significantly larger than any they had seen prior to it, though the ceiling is somewhat lower than the room now underneath them. The entire floor is covered in the soft soil they had experienced before and they are all refreshed upon stepping into it. All four walls are covered in thick vegetation but what little can be seen of the stonework underneath is etched with mysterious designs: trees, flowers, snakes among other beasts, and the indecipherable inscriptions of tongues lost from ages passed. Turning their attention forward, the three behold a great wood throne inlaid with green jewels and cut with similar patters to the rest of the chamber. Upon it sits an old man with long gray hair which covers his face and much of his body. His beard, like his hair, is uncut, and hangs loosely about him, draping across his frail body and nearly reaching the ground. All that can be seen underneath his hair is a darkly colored, intricately woven robe. As the three approached, they observe that small ferns and mushrooms are growing out from under his masses of hair. Two pale, gnarled hands grasp the arm rests of the mighty throne and seem to tighten their grip with each step closer.

Finally, with a raspy, long unused yet commanding voice, it speaks: What do you seek, you who are mortal?

Rita (Nervously): Are you the demon of this temple?

Old Man: Why do you seek Fenris, the master of all that is green and thriving in this world-the source of growing envy and the root of earthly calamities? Indeed, I am the Forest Demon. Now, what, foolish humans, do you want with me?

Terrance (Thinking out loud): Humans?

Rita (Interrupting): We're here to fight you. We must defeat you so I can challenge Vile Thing.

The demon lets out a low cackle before continuing: And just who do you think you are to oppose the Mistress? What chance do you think you stand against time immemorial and the spawn of the deep evils? If it is death you seek, allow me to introduce you. (He rises from his seat) Before we begin, tell me who you are that your names may go down in history as the fools who believed they could lift their faces to the Mistress and her champion.

Terrance (Resolutely): We have been called upon by the spirits of the ancient Hylians and the Heroine of Time has been revealed to destroy Vile Thing and restore justice in this world.

Though his features are hidden by his long hair, the demon is obviously taken aback at the mention of the Heroine.

Demon: And you expect me to believe that the Heroine of Time is some little toothpick-wielding girl with an identity crisis?!

He laughs mockingly.

Demon: Very well then! You have at least entertained me, so I will make your passing swift.

As he says this, his feet begin to sink into the soil. His gray hair darkens to a leafy green color and he grows in height. As his head approaches the ceiling, his beard and hair stiffen, sticking out in various directions. His flesh and robes become brown and harden. Finally, his hair turns into branches overgrown with leaves and his body becomes a strong, heavy tree trunk.

Terrance whispers in an attempt to raise the spirits of his companions during the battle that would begin any moment: A tree, how threatening? We can burn this guy down, no problem, right?

However these words came, Terrance knew better than Cindy and Rita what a demon was capable of, and although he had never met one personally, he was not looking forward to fighting one now.

Having reached its full height, the demon simply stands there waving its boughs as though in a gentle breeze. Rita, Cindy, and Terrance stand facing this tree, each pondering his own thoughts, but all coming to the same question: "Why a freakin' tree?"

Rita: So, now what?

Cindy: We didn't bring any kind of axe or anything, did we?

Terrance: Rita, maybe you can seal it right away.

Rita (Lifting up a crystal): What do I do? Do I throw it at him?

Cindy: I suppose you could try it…

Terrance: No, don't let it go. We don't want him to get hold of it. We'll go up to him together; then try holding it against the trunk.

Rita and Cindy nod and the three proceed forward toward the demon, now a tree, near the back of the room. The closer they get, the more cautious they become, until they are immediately under its branches where several shiny, red apples fall from above. Terrance dodges one only to be struck on the back by another, which bounces off harmlessly.

Terrance glares up at the tree and then down at the fruit lying on the ground.

Terrance: Son of a…

Rita (Suddenly shifting her mentality on the situation): Oh gosh! He's throwing fruit at us!

She laughs and Cindy and Terrace join her ridicule uncertainly. The tree shakes violently as though angered. Encouraged by this, Terrance approaches the trunk and hits it with his sword, very ineffectively.

Terrance (Turning to Rita): Give it a try.

Rita brings her crystal up to the demon and presses it against his bark which bristles at the contact with the jewel. Suddenly, tiny thorns emerge from under the bark. Terrance shoves Rita out of the way and then flings himself backward onto the ground just as the thorns shoot out, spreading across the room.

Terrance whispers as he plucks one of the thorns from his boot: I think he wants to play rough…

Cindy: No kidding.

She fires a crossbow into the tree with the same result as Terrance's attack.

Rita: This isn't working; we need a different strategy!

Rita begins backing away from the demon, but as she does, one of the colorful flowers sprouts up behind her. Rita chops the flower from its stalk and it drops to the ground, leaking its acid onto the soil. Using her vine whip, Rita carefully lifts the plant and hurls it at the demon but the acid has no effect on its tough bark. As Cindy watches Rita in this action, she remembers that she had also transformed.

"What exactly do cindaquil's do, anyway?" she thought.

Loading a bolt into her crossbow, Cindy holds the ready weapon over her back. She holds her breath and closes her eyes and tightens her muscles and finally, a spark leaps from her back and ignites the dry wooden bolt.

Cindy (Just as surprised as her companions): Gah!! Fire!

Without giving much thought to her aim, Cindy unleashes her new weapon and the bolt finds its mark high up on the trunk of the tree. The demon begins swaying back and forth viciously, trying to smother the tiny flame. As he flails, parts of the tree fly off and with them come many snakes, flying insects, and more gohma hatchlings.

Terrance gazes up at the swarm of critters falling toward him and almost reflexively shoots a heavy spray of water at them from his fanged mouth. As bugs, snakes, and spiders begin landing around the three, Terrance calls out:

Terrance: Cindy, use smokescreen!

Cindy screams as she tosses a snake from her shoulders and then replies: Who do you think you are; some kind of Pokémon trainer?! I don't know how to do a smokescreen!

Terrance: Just breathe fire! Light 'em up!

Cindy swallows and then all at once, shoots a blast of flame into the air.

Cindy: Bwahaha! Pyro! Pyro!

Thousands of little flaming bugs fly zipping through the air before disintegrating.

Terrance (Yelling while kicking a snake away from himself and chopping a gohma in two): Do that again! Aim at the demon!

Cindy readies her flamethrower and unleashes it at the demon. The lower boughs containing so many bright leaves instantly burst into flame. As the tree flails from this new threat, Rita dashes toward the demon hacking gohmas to pieces as she charges. She produces the crystal, now glowing a bright green, from her pocket. She dodges quickly as a flaming bough crashes to the ground next to her and holding up the gem, she thrusts it into the demon's bark again. A horrendous wailing screech leaps from the demon and the tree, now a bright flaming mass, crashes down, plucking its roots from the ground. As it hits the ground, a cloud of dust and smoke shoot up, covering the room. As it begins to clear, all that can be seen is Rita standing with her bright green gem against the forehead of the demon, returned to his humanoid form and lying flat on the ground.

Rita (Trying to sound dramatic): As Heroine of Time, I command you to return to your bonds!

Demon: No! I will never return! I will make you pay for what you have done!

With catlike speed, the demon leaps up and grips Rita's face with his gnarled hands. As he does this, the hair covering his face brushes back over his shoulders revealing a revolting skeletal face, the skin and muscle rotting away. It has no eyes in its empty sockets and a gray brain can be seen pulsating through these openings. Rita screams and thrusts her tiny dagger into the horror before her. It crunches through the skull and the demon recoils in pain, dropping Rita. Turning the tables on the demon, Rita leaps up and hurls the crystal into the wound caused by her attack. A blood-curdling scream emerges from the demon as he drops to his knees. A great green glow fills the room, blinding the bystanders.

As the noise fades and the adventurers regain their sense of sight, they see the crystal lying on the ground near a frightened Rita. Inside of the sealed crystal burns a bright green flame with a red loop hovering around it. Rita sighs as she pulls herself to her feet and lifts up the crystal.

Rita (Breathing hard): We did it…

Dropping her crossbow, Cindy runs up to her and hugs her tightly.

Cindy: Are you all right?!

Rita: Ya, I'm fine…

Terrance picks up a twig left over from the smoldering mess of the demon's disguise and holds it up observing it sarcastically.

Terrace: A demon that can't come up with anything more interesting and terrible than a tree… (He begins to speak as though calling up a great epic) And so the Heroine of Time emerges victorious after her fierce battle with the demon tree from hell!

He throws Rita an encouraging smile as he snaps the twig symbolically.

Cindy: Let's get out of here. This place creeps me out.

The three make their way back, down the tree, up the stairs, past the fruit, upward from under the altar, and out into the sunshine of day. Rita who is leading the group stops abruptly as she emerges, face to face with the spirit, Winter, and the other three spirits standing behind her. Rita holds up the green crystal.

Winter: You have done well, Heroine. Keep that as a symbol of your identity. It is proof that you are indeed the Heroine of Time. However, the battle is not won…

Spring: Your victory over the Forest Demon will surely alert Vile Thing of your existence. From here, you must proceed with ever greater caution.

Summer: The Temple of Water is not a great distance from where we stand. It lies in the Crystal Lake to the North-East, and it is there that you must oppose Lucia, the Water Demon.

Rita: Water Demon in the Water Temple-makes sense.

Autumn: Rest while you can, but you must continue with your journey. For the sake of the world, you must not fail.

The four turn to leave, but Terrance interrupts them.

Terrance: Wait, a question: what is the end of the Heroine's journey?

Winter turns to face him and replies:

Winter: I do not understand what you mean. The Heroine will complete her mission when Vile Thing has been slain using the Brother and Sister Blades.

Terrance: The Master Sword and Lumina. And where are these weapons?

Autumn: The Hero of Time holds the Master Sword. Lumina is already in the hands of the enemy.

Cindy: The Hero of Time? Link lived a hundred years ago during the Imprisoning War. How can he still be alive?

Terrance: Link does not age beyond his seventeen years. He lives in the Undying Lands where time does not pass the same way it does here, right?

Summer: That is correct. He will join you when the time comes.

Rita's eyes brighten at this notion.

Rita: Link's going to come with us?!

Terrance (Ignoring Rita): And what about Lumina. If Vile Thing has it already, how do we get it back?

Spring: Her only minion capable of touching it bears it, a blasphemy against the Sacred Blade! The Light Demon, Solania claims Lumina as her own atop the Temple of Light, but you must not think of that now. Though weak from the corruption of the demon, Lumina grants great power to its bearer. Attempting to defeat Solania now would be foolish.

Winter: Time grows short. You must continue your journey. We will contact you again once you have defeated the Water Demon.

The four bow to Rita and then vanish. Terrance sighs as though disappointed and turns to leave. Cindy and Rita follow, but Rita walks quickly, skipping occasionally as she goes. Her face is beaming.

Cindy: What are you so happy about?

Rita: Link's coming with us! We get to meet Link! Doesn't that make you happy!?

Cindy: I guess so… Who knows when he'll show up, though.

Rita: Well ya, but to think that Link's going to be my friend!!

She continues her skipping, which she does very awkwardly, having two more legs than she is used to. Passing Terrance, she stops suddenly and turns around.

Terrance: What's wrong?

Rita's stomach growls. She grins at Terrance who slides his pack off and begins shifting through it.

Cindy: Ya, with all this excitement today, we haven't even thought about eating. What time is it anyway?

Terrance looks up at the sun for a moment and then continues digging in his pack.

Terrance: Around five o'clock.

Cindy (Surprised): Five? We were in there a long time!

Rita: Time passes faster when you're having fun!

Cindy: So, you were having fun?

Rita (Skipping around again): Well, it was a little scary, but it was like I was living a Legend of Zelda game!

Terrance: Fun, huh…? Well, why don't you use up some of that energy by getting a fire going?

Rita agrees and begins picking up twigs and heaping them together nearby. Cindy turns to Terrance and speaks:

Cindy: What did you mean when you asked those spirits about the "end of the journey?" You looked like you weren't satisfied with their answer.

Terrance: I wasn't. This is all so sudden. I think we've gotten into something that we're not prepared for. Rita's bouncing around like this is some sort of picnic. She doesn't understand what's going on, but we're in real danger now. I think we caught the Forest Demon off guard. He wasn't expecting the Heroine of Time to come today, but what if he had been? We were fortunate in the fight today, but what if Rita hadn't acted as quickly as she did? Maybe the spirits don't know either, but I wanted to know the risk involved in this. Obviously Vile Thing means to kill the Hero and the Heroine of time, but that's been known practically forever. And now Rita is the Heroine of Time…

Cindy: I know what you mean. None of us was expecting any of this to happen. I mean, I left home this morning thinking it would be a normal day-Maple would show us some crazy new invention that would blow up in his face; then we'd clean up the mess and go on with life… But this…?

Rita comes over and drops a small pile of twigs in front of them.

Rita: Hey Cindy, do you think you could light it like you did in the temple?

Cindy: I suppose I could…

She focuses on the twigs and spits out a small flame, which catches the dry wood and begins a steady blaze.

Rita: That is so cool!

Rita hops off to find more wood. Terrance pulls a small, metal camp cup and some food items from his pack. He looks down into the empty cup and fills it up using water gun. Cindy looks on in disgust.

Cindy: Gross! I'm not drinking that!

Terrance shrugs and places it over the flame to boil.

Terrance: Anyway, I think we should stay here for the night. We've had enough excitement for one day. At least, I have…

He watches as Rita prances about gathering up sticks carefully with her leaf, bounds back to the fire, and spills most of her load before reaching it.

Terrance: If we move any deeper into the forest, we'll be heading into Hunter territory, and that's not something we want to worry about right now.

He empties a small parcel of rice into the boiling water and stirs it around with a small metal spoon. He adds a pinch of spice to the cup from a bag, and stirs again.

Cindy: Maybe we should go back to Prelude. There are a lot of things we don't have that we really should. I mean, Rita's running around with a freakin' pocket knife as her only defense.

Terrance: No, we should make our way to Emerald as quickly as we can. Our resources in Prelude are very limited, but once we get to the capital, we'll have access to much more. Prelude is a dead end for us. If Vile Thing is out to get us already, a little out-of-the-way town like that won't do us any good.

Rita comes up and sits down beside the two and near the fire, but soon backs a good ways away from the heat. The conversation dies down as Terrance brings out a couple small bowls and serves Rita and Cindy. The sun begins to set as the meal nears its end. Rita breaks the silence:

Rita: So, what do you guys think of all this? I never expected to be doing anything like this today! Sure beats working at the diner all day… (Her voice becomes quieter as she becomes more thoughtful) I wonder if I'm fired…

Cindy: Ya, we're probably all going to be in some pretty bad situations with work after this blows over… except for Terrance anyway.

She flashes him a playful smile, though he doesn't recognize it in the face of a cindaquil.

Cindy: He's basically doing his job right now anyway. All this ranger stuff… You could file a report on "the dangers lurking inside the Forest Temple." That might even get you a pretty good bonus.

Terrance: No, I'm not actually supposed to go into the temple, but I'm sure they would understand if they were in my situation.

Rita: Well, I hope they understand my situation. 'Ya, sorry I couldn't make it to work yesterday… or the day before that… or the rest of last month, but I was kinda transformed into a Pokémon and had to go and fight demons and stuff, but now I'm back and ready to wait tables!' Some how, I don't think Greg would fall for that…

Cindy: Oh, I think he would! That guy just thinks you're the cutest thing in the world!

Rita: Ugh, don't remind me!

Cindy: Now, what's wrong with Greg? He's a perfectly nice guy. I just don't see why you two aren't together.

Rita: No, he's not. I don't like him.

Cindy: But you still can't give me even one good reason why not.

Rita: Just… he's not for me. I don't know who is, but I don't want to get into anything until I do.

Terrance (Thoughtfully): So how will you know when the right one does show up if you don't give him a chance first?

Cindy: Ya, there are plenty of guys in Prelude that have fallen head-over-heels for you. You haven't given any of them a chance.

Rita: Because I know what they want. And I have given them a chance; they don't like me for who I am. All they're concerned about is the way I look. Greg might be a nice guy, but when you look into a guy's eyes and all you can see is the reflection of your own chest, that doesn't help. And if I did get involved with one of them, even after noticing that, I don't think I could stand separating. There's too much hurt that comes with it all…

Terrance: That is a good way of looking at it… I respect your opinion, and I hope you find someone that treats you the way you deserve.

Cindy: There is someone out there for you; you just have to keep your eyes open for him.

Rita smiles pleasantly as she sets her bowl down.

Rita: How long do you think this really is going to take? I mean, when are we going to get to go home?

The question strikes both Cindy and Terrance. Neither had given much thought to the scope of their adventure. They look at Rita and then at each other. Cindy moves her mouth as though trying to speak and Terrance shrugs and rises to clean up from dinner. Rita's simple question had given rise to many questions in their minds, and neither could conceive what their adventure held in store for the future, and not merely for themselves, but for the world, Hyla, as a whole.