Title: Rekindling Their Bonds - Chapter 19

Author: Viper Inferno

Genre: Action/Adventure Romance

Rated: PG

Author's Notes: This is my first Legend of Zelda fanfic, though I've been a fan of the series since the very beginning. This fanfic is a Link/Saria shipping, and takes place in the Ocarina of Time universe. In the last chapter, I had to cut it off since it had been so long since posting Chapter 17. But I did not want to split this chapter up too just to have content to post. I wanted to finish what I had originally planned and post a quality piece. So here we have the conclusion of what was to be Chapter 18... only it's now 19. We left off with Saria touring the Castle Town Market before finally arriving at the castle. What will Saria think of Hyrule Castle? Of the Princess? And how will Zelda help them to protect the Ocarina of Time. Read and find out.

Rekindling Their Bonds

By Viper Inferno

Chapter 19: The Castle And The Sage

Hyrule Castle...

After their short walk all around the hilly Castle Meadow, Link, Saria, and the ever-so-stern Impa arrived at the main gate to Hyrule Castle. As Saria glanced upon the huge open portal to the castle, it quickly reminded her of the main gate to Hyrule Castle Town. This gate was essentially a somewhat smaller version of the Castle Town's gate. Everything about the gate, from the archway, to the massive wrought iron gate, to even the individual stones, mirrored the Castle Town's gate. However, the drawbridge spanning the moat did not connect to the castle gate like it did for the town's gate. Instead of the huge drawbridge, a pair of thick and heavy wooden doors served to assist the heavy wrought iron lift gate.

A pair of sentries armed with long halberds and larger versions of Link's Hylian Shield stood guard at the gate, while a third heavily armored guard greeted Impa as they arrived. "Good day, Lady Impa. Are these our guests to Her Highness?"

"Yes, they are," Impa replied. "These children are representatives of the children of Kokiri Forest in Southeast Hyrule. They come to seek guidance from Her Highness on behalf of the Kokiri children."

"This wouldn't by any chance be related to the strange occurrences all over Hyrule that we've gotten reports of lately, would it?" the guard inquired.

Impa hesitated at the guard's inquiry, not wanting to alarm him or the rest of the King's Guard. She then replied, "No, they are simply making an official visit to seek guidance from Her Highness just like many of Hyrule's representatives, that's all."

"I see. Pardon my intrusion," the guard apologized. He politely bowed to Impa before stepping aside and letting the trio enter the castle.

Once on the other side of the menacing gate, Saria looked all around her. She gazed at the stone walls that were decorated with maroon and purple tapestries, adorned with both the Triforce and the crests of the Royal Family. Many torches, lanterns, and lit chandeliers brightened the inside of the castle as if the sun itself was shining inside. Down the massive foyer, a long crimson carpet ran from just inside the main gate all the way to another large wooden gate at the other end. Along this central path stood many stone statues of the past kings and queens of the various provinces and tribes of the Old Hyrule. Saria recognized many of the statues as being not only those of Hylians, but also of Gorons and Zoras as well.

"Why are there so many different statues?" Saria asked. "Did Gorons and Zora used to rule Hyrule as well?"

Impa turned her head to Saria and explained as they continued their walk down the central path in the foyer. "No, young Saria. Only half of these statues are of the past Kings and Queens of Hyrule. But as you probably already know, Hyrule wasn't always as united as it is today. It consisted of many smaller kingdoms and principalities. And these other statues, even some of the other Hylians, were past rulers over their individual kingdoms. These statues all stand as equals as a nod to not only the Castle's history, but all of Hyrule's as well."

"Just like the Great Deku Sprout used to tell me when I learned that I was a Sage," Saria added.

"Your forest guardian has taught you a lot, hasn't he?" said Impa.

"Well... only to me and Link," Saria replied. "He tells everyone else stories of the how the Golden Goddesses created our world, stories of the forest, stories of Kokiri from the past, and even a story about how he had a brother that he didn't get along with."

"It sounds like he cares enough about you all to want to shield you from the rest of the outside world and to keep you and your forest at peace when the rest of the world is in discord," said Impa.

"Yeah... the forest isn't so peaceful anymore, not since that witch came and burned our forest and demanded Kokiri's Emerald," said Saria, remembering the horrible event as vividly as it had happened only yesterday.

"But that's why you're here to see the Princess, right? To seek her guidance in regaining that peace?" Impa reminded.

"Right," Saria replied.

They arrived at the massive wooden double doors at the other end of the foyer. The two guards briskly marched to the handles, grasped them firmly, and pulled with their might to open the heavy doors for Impa and her guests. The trio proceeded through the open gate and into the main courtyard. Saria watched in awe as many people, though mostly castle guards, walked the paths around the courtyard. The grass here was some of the greenest she had ever seen, greener than even the forest after a good summer rain. The paths were paved in off-white cobblestone, matching the walls of the castle. In the center stood a massive marble fountain, decorated with a large statue of the three Golden Goddesses holding a large marble Triforce above their heads in the center.

"Wow... it's so beautiful," Saria commented.

"This, young Saria, is the main courtyard," Impa explained. "Here is where our guests gather during an intermission for a little fresh air. Just like the foyer, it too connects with many of the other parts of the castle, including where we're going to be going. That large wooden door on the other side leads to the Great Hall, where the King entertains his guests. The smaller courtyard and garden lies next to the Great Hall."

"How big is the Great Hall?" Saria asked, with thoughts of the already large foyer fresh on her mind as she wondered.

"Oh, it's bigger than the foyer we just came in through, and in my opinion even more majestic. It has chandeliers made of only the most elegant crystal, and many ornate stained glass windows, just to give you an idea," Impa explained. "I would love to show you the Great Hall, but as I've said before, your meeting with the Princess is urgent. So I'm sorry I won't be able to show you right now."

"Oh man," Saria playfully complained, snapping her fingers and stomping foot.

"At least you're getting to see a castle as magnificent as this one," said Spryte.

"Right. Of course," Saria agreed, smiling.

"Don't get me wrong. As magnificent as this castle is, it is a fortress, and a very well-fortified one too," said Impa. "It's stood for hundreds of years through all kinds of wars and fighting. With us Sheikah, the Castle Guard, and the King's Army protecting her, it would be quite difficult if not foolish for anyone of ill-intent to attack this castle directly."

"I see... majestic, and protected," said Saria. Then, she turned to Link with a sly grin and asked, "Hey Link, you look just as amazed as I am to be seeing all of this. Have you even seen the Great Hall, or even this courtyard from the times you came here, or rather snuck in here?"

"Ha ha, very funny," Link sarcastically responded, and then hesitated. Thoughts of the time he had returned to the present as a child again reentered his mind as he pondered Saria's underlying question. "Yes... only once," he finally replied. "I didn't really get to see it either... it was kind of an emergency. Zelda and I had to see the King right away."

"I see," Saria sheepishly said, remembering the story Link had told her of his return from his first adventure.

"Now, shall I take you to see the Princess?" Impa asked as Saria continued glancing about the courtyard.

After a minute, Saria turned to Impa and smiled. "Yes, I'm ready to see the Princess now."

"Okay, it's right this way. Follow me," said Impa. She then turned to the right and toward a large open pathway. Link and Saria followed close behind like a pair of children following their mother at the market. Saria, however, had much of her attention focused on the decorated archways, castle windows, and flying buttresses all around her. The fact that she stayed close to Link and Impa without losing her way or bumping into someone would've surprised anyone.

Soon, after walking through another large atrium, one very familiar to Link from the times he had snuck into the castle, they arrived at the gold and white marble archway that lead to the castle's eastern courtyard and garden. "And this is the Eastern Courtyard, where Her Highness awaits you," said Impa upon their arrival. "I shall leave you to Her Highness now. Good day, Children of the Forest."

Impa slowly backed away from Link and Saria. After putting some distance between them, Impa threw down a smoke bomb in front of her, obscuring all around her with a think white smokescreen. The smoke quickly cleared, leaving Impa nowhere to be found.

"That woman certainly likes to make a flashy exit, huh?" Saria commented.

"Yeah, even when she doesn't have to," Link agreed.

With Impa gone, Link and Saria, along with their fairies, crossed under the archway and entered the elegant garden in the courtyard. Saria had little time to glance about the beautiful garden because of what had immediately grabbed her attention at the other end. There, standing right next to a window looking into the Great Hall, stood a young girl not much older than Saria herself, with her back turned to them. She had long and bright golden hair, reaching down to about the middle of her back. However, much to even Link's surprise, she wore a different dress than the last time Link had met her. Her dress was sleeveless and strapless, with a magenta bodice and a lavender skirt. She wore a loose rich pink shawl over her shoulders that went only down to the bottom of her shoulder blades.

"Is that really... Princess Zelda?" Saria quietly gasped.

"Mmhmm," Link replied.

Upon hearing the voice in the garden, Zelda turned around to meet the eyes of the two forest children whom she had hoped would come. When she did, Saria gasped loudly and her eyes popped open at what she saw. On the front of her dress, she wore an ornate golden belt, with a purple banner that bore a golden crest of the Royal Family. Her shawl hung over her shoulders, joined together at the front by a few large and highly orate golden plates. She wore white gloves that extended up just past her elbows, showing off the pale skin of her upper arms. But what captivated Saria most of all was her pale face and bright pink lipstick. The wing-like barrettes in her hair and her golden tiara only complimented her beauty. 'Oh my goddesses... she's beautiful,' Saria thought to herself as she stood there, completely speechless. Then suddenly, remembering her manners, she regained her composure and curtsied politely to the young princess. She then turned to Link, who only stood there. "Come on, Link, show the proper respect like Impa said," she ordered, lightly kicking him in the back of the leg.

Upon his friend's persuasion, Link too bowed politely to Zelda, then stood back up just as quickly.

"Link, it's great to see you again. I've been expecting you since yesterday," said Zelda as she slowly walked across the garden toward the two forest children and their fairies. "When you didn't arrive yesterday, I began to worry. Knowing you, and what has happened recently, I assumed you ran into trouble on the way here. But... I'm glad you two made it here in one piece."

"Yeah, you can say that again," Link agreed as he and Saria walked toward Zelda to meet her in the middle of the garden.

As they approached each other, Zelda noticed the young green-haired girl with a fairy of her own accompanying Link. "So, is this the Saria you've told me so much about?" she asked, prompting a bashful blush from Saria.

"Yes, this is Saria, my best friend in the whole world," Link replied, introducing his friend to her.

Zelda slowly walked up to Saria, coming within arm's distance from her. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Saria," said Zelda, smiling at the lovely forest girl.

"Princess... I am honored to finally meet you," Saria gasped, again curtsying to Zelda with her cheeks still flushed.

"Please, you don't need to be so formal with me all the time," said Zelda, reassuring Saria. "Any friend of Link's is also a friend of mine... especially when she's the Forest Sage."

Saria suddenly stood back up, her eyes wide open in shock from what she had just heard, "You know I'm the Forest Sage?"

Zelda giggled, "Of course I do. I'm the Princess of Hyrule. I know all about the Sages and the legend behind them. Besides... I myself am a Sage, or rather I will be."

Saria fell completely silent as Zelda explained, completely flabbergasted. And as her story sunk in, she too began to feel the same familiar power in Zelda as she had felt in Impa and Ruto. "You must be the Leader of the Sages... right?" she said.

"Well... yes... I am," Zelda replied. "I, like my mother before me, and my father's mother before her, inherited the title of Leader of the Sages. It is a title and power that's passed down the Royal bloodline. And when I wed and bear a child of my own, that child or even his or her spouse may inherit my Sage powers upon the day I die."

"I see, just like how all Sages pass their powers down," said Saria. "The Great Deku Sprout told me about it when... my own powers first awakened."

"Well, Forest Sage or not, you are still Link's best friend, and are therefore a friend of mine," said Zelda, smiling at Saria. She then sat down in the grass, on her knees like a truly modest lady. "Let us sit. We have much to discuss."

Upon Zelda's invitation, Saria sat modestly on her knees, while Link sat next to her with his legs crossed, Indian-style. "I must say, Prin... I mean... Zelda... you really have a pretty name," Saria commented, breaking the ice.

"Thank you, Saria," Zelda replied, with a slight hint of pink forming in her cheeks. "I was named after my father's grandmother, Queen Zelda IV."

"You mean there were other Zeldas?" said Saria.

"Right. There are statues of four of them in the Castle's Grand Foyer. I myself am the ninth girl in the Royal Family's history to be named 'Zelda'," Zelda explained.

"Wow... that many? Does the Royal Family always name their girls 'Zelda'?" Saria wondered.

"Actually, they do," Zelda replied. "It was long ago when the sister of a Prince fell under the spell of an evil wizard and fell into a deep sleep. When his father died and he ascended the throne, he decreed that all girls born to Hyrule's Royal Family be named 'Zelda' in his beloved sister's honor."

"I bet you must be honored to have been named after so many great Princesses and Queens," Saria commented. "But... I still like your name. It's very pretty."

"Thank you," Zelda bashfully giggled. "Your name is very pretty too. I bet you were the only girl to have been named 'Saria'."

"Well... I think I am the only 'Saria'," Saria replied. "The Great Deku Tree and Great Deku Sprout tells us stories of other great Kokiri from the forest's thousands of years of history. I haven't heard of another 'Saria' in any of them."

Link impatiently listened to the two girls as they talked, fidgeting as he listened to the stories between the two girls, with some that he had heard before. Although the two girls were caught up in their conversation to notice, Navi quickly discovered Link's impatience and floated down to his shoulder. "Something bothering you, dear?" she whispered.

"No, it's just Zelda and Saria... they sound like a pair of girls back home who do nothing but talk, talk, talk," Link replied.

"Well, Link, girls are like that, especially when they first meet," said Link.

"You mean they talk too much?" Link teased.

Navi leaped from Link's shoulder and smacked him in the back of the head, "You know what I meant, Link."

"I'm sorry for taking up so much time, Link. You certainly have a wonderful friend in Saria," said Zelda, grabbing Link's attention. "You and Saria came to discuss what has happened and everything you have seen."

"Yes," Link replied after regaining his composure. "I was still in Kakariko Village when I sent that letter to you. Afterward, Saria and I went home for a quick visit while we waited for your invitations."

"Impa told me a lot of what had happened in Kakariko Village. Is it true that there's a creature who looks a lot like you running around Hyrule and causing all kinds of trouble?" Zelda wondered.

"Yes... he's so much like me in every way, except his skin is dark like charcoal, with clothes as black as the night," Link explained. "He's the toughest opponent I've ever battled, simply because he knows every move that I know, moves in every way that I do, and is utterly powerful. He's the reason I'm here today and not yesterday like we should've been."

"You mean you ran into him out in the field?" Zelda shrieked, obviously shocked at hearing about his second appearance. "Oh goddesses, I hope he doesn't come here and cause a lot of trouble. The people would turn on you the second you stepped foot in the Castle Town. My father and I would have such a hard time trying to convince the people that it wasn't you."

"Tell me about it," Link agreed. "If Impa hadn't shown up when we were in Kakariko Village... I just can't imagine what those villagers would've done to me and Saria. I had to prove to the people that he was not me."

"I just... can't believe that there's an evil Link running around Hyrule," said Zelda.

"That wasn't the first time I fought him. I also fought him before I returned home when I found Navi, and that was so far away from here," said Link. "I think he's just some evil spirit who's here just to fight me, especially because he looks like me and fights like me."

"I see. But I would still consider him a threat, especially to you. And what about the Gorons?" Zelda inquired. "Impa told me that a man who looked like Ganondorf attacked them as well."

"Yes, but he has to be one of Twinrova's minions. They all attacked our homes at the same time to try and get our Spiritual Stones all at once. If I wasn't there to stop them, I'm sure they would've eventually gotten the Spiritual Stones."

"Really? Even Ganondorf wasn't that bold," Zelda commented. "They must be desperate to open the way to the Sacred Realm... or rather free their master, Ganondorf, from his prison there."

"Saria and I were thinking the same thing," said Link.

After a short moment of silent pondering between the three, Zelda looked back up with a fearful look on her face. "You... still have the Ocarina of Time with you, don't you?"

"Of course I do," Link replied as he reached into his item bag. He quickly extracted the Ocarina of Time and presented it to Zelda. "Right here."

Zelda let out a sigh of relief, "Oh I'm glad you still have it. At least it's still safe in your possession. I fear what would happen if Ganondorf's minions ever got a hold of it."

"Actually... that's kind of why we came here," said Link. "I came to ask for your help in making sure that the Ocarina of Time stays safe from Twinrova."

"What do you mean? Are you saying that you don't think it's safe even with you?" said Zelda, bewildered at the possibility.

"After all the trouble he's gone through, especially with that evil Link, I don't think the Ocarina of Time is safe with us either," said Saria. "What if something happens to Link? If they kill him and steal it from him, then they have the Ocarina of Time."

Zelda opened her mouth to reply, but then stayed her tongue. "Yes... you have a point. I just... thought it would be safest with Link, especially when he left Hyrule on his long journey, in case evil ever attacked the castle. But, I guess you're right. We should find a place to hide the Ocarina of Time... someplace where evil would have a very hard time obtaining or even finding it."

"But where in Hyrule are we going to hide the Ocarina of Time?" Saria wondered.

"Won't some person or even some kid find it and then have it somehow fall into those witches' hands?" Link added.

Zelda sat silently for what seemed like hours, thinking about their current predicament and how to solve their problem. The Ocarina of Time was obviously not safe at the castle, as Ganondorf had tried to start an uprising from within the castle to obtain it. It wasn't safe with Link either, as it would fall into enemy hands if he were to somehow fall in battle. It wasn't safe with the Kokiri, with the Zoras, nor with the Gorons as their homes were recently attacked. Places like Lake Hylia came to mind, but were quickly dismissed as Lake Hylia was a gathering place for fishermen and Zoras alike, and also had a few small villages built around it. Leaving it with the Gerudos was out of the question since they had only recently allied after the fall of Ganondorf. Besides, Twinrova were Gerudos too, and who knew how many in the desert had fallen under their spell. Then, one last thought came to Zelda's mind, and it was one that would have to do. "I think I can find a safe place for the Ocarina of Time," said Zelda as she stood back up, with Link and Saria standing up thereafter. "But, we're going to need some help with both finding a place for it and to making sure it stays safe. And I know just the person who can help."

"Really?" Link exclaimed.

"Who?" Saria wondered.

"Link, please hand me the Ocarina of Time," Zelda requested, extending her right hand out to him.

Link obediently placed the shiny blue ocarina into Zelda's outreached hand. She gently grasped it in her hands and placed it to her lips. She then closed her eyes and began to play a song that was quite familiar to Link from his first journey, "The Prelude of Light".

"That's a pretty song," Saria quietly commented as she closed her eyes and began to slowly rock side to side in rhythm with Zelda's song. "And she plays it so well too."

"Well... she was the one who taught it to me, as well as a few other songs," said Link, though referring to Zelda as her future 'Sheik' alter ego. "Impa was the one who taught me 'Zelda's Lullaby'."

As Zelda played the gentle prelude, a ball of bright yellow light began to shine high over the garden. Link backed away as the ball of yellowish-white light slowly descended toward the ground between them and Zelda, while Saria merely stood there, mesmerized by the beauty of the magical light summoned by Zelda's song. Once the light reached the ground, it suddenly flashed so bright that Link shielded his eyes and Saria turned her face completely away. When they all opened their eyes, they discovered a bald, elderly Hylian with pointed ears. He had a long and bushy white mustache, white sideburns, and short white hair in the back. He wore a bright orange monk's robe, with a maroon scapular with embroidered wavy patterns draped over his shoulders and hanging down the front of his robe nearly to the ground. He wore a similarly designed sash around his waist and over the front of the scapular, with the symbol of the Triforce adorning the center.

Although anyone would've thought of him as a member of Hyrule's clergy, Link immediately recognized him. "Rauru?" he exclaimed.

Rauru turned around to meet the face of the familiar voice. "Link? It's been a long time, hasn't it?" he greeted. "The last time I saw you, you had returned to the present from your adventure seven years into the future. I must say, although I have seen you this way before, you are certainly growing into a fine young man."

"Gee, umm... thank you, Rauru," Link bashfully replied. "That's a different way of saying 'Link, you've grown'."

"Well, it is true. I've seen you grow up once before, but it brings me even more joy to see you growing up under much better circumstances than the last time I saw you grow," Rauru explained.

As he spoke to Link, Saria examined this seemingly over-dressed elderly man and thought to herself. With his vestment bearing the symbol of the Triforce that seemed to be found all over the castle, he could easily have passed for some kind of religious figure serving in the castle. But appearing out of nowhere from that ball of magical light made Saria easily dismiss that thought, as no person she had ever met, not even Link, possessed magical powers like that. He was definitely a man of great power, like a wizard in the service of the King. But suddenly, she felt something oddly familiar about him, like she had met him once before. When she put two and two together, she realized the reason for both his magical powers and the familiar aura about him. "Umm..." she began to speak, grabbing everyone's attention.

Rauru turned to the pretty green-haired young lady wearing the lovely green dress, finding her to be accompanied by a fairy not unlike Link's. After examining this girl for a second, he recognized her from Link's previous adventure. 'This girl... Saria? Is it really her? My Goddesses, I haven't seen her since we sealed Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm. She looks so much different than the Kokiri child I had first met. She's not wearing the traditional attire of the Kokiri children. And not only that, she's grown. I almost didn't recognize her if it wasn't for the green hair, her fairy, and the familiar aura I sense in her.' "Yes? What is it, dear young lady?" Rauru inquired, hiding the fact that he knew who she was, wondering if she too remembers or at least suspects.

Saria looked up and met his wise sapphire blue eyes with her own. "Mr. Rauru... you must be a Sage too, right?" she asked.

He closed his eyes, lowered his head, and smiled at her almost immediate discovery. 'She does know, after all. Either she's a very smart lady, or... maybe...' he thought to himself.

He then opened his eyes and met hers. "Yes... Saria. I am Rauru, the Sage of Light," he replied.

Saria gasped in shock as her eyes opened wide upon Rauru speaking her name. "You know who I am?"

"Yes, you're the Sage of the Forest," Rauru replied. "I am the eldest of the Sages, and have stood over the Temple of Light in the Sacred Realm for generations."

"But... how do you know who I am?" Saria wondered. "I've never met you before until now."

"Well, young Saria, being the eldest of the Sages, I am the one who knows those who inherit the powers of the Sage. My powers of the Sage are very unique, and has allowed me to remain at the Temple of Light since the construction of the Temple of Time, the Master Sword, the Spiritual Stones, and the Ocarina of Time," Rauru explained.

"Wow, you've lived for that long?" said an astonished Saria. "I thought Sages were mortal so their powers could be passed down, which is why I can grow up when the other Kokiri can't."

"Yes, you are correct, Saria. After the completion of the Temple of Time, and thus the sealing the Sacred Realm from Hyrule, the seven Ancient Sages decreed that their powers be passed down amongst the various peoples of Hyrule upon their deaths so they forever realize the sacrifices made in sealing the Sacred Realm and the responsibilities with presiding over each of their temples. However, they also decided that one of the Ancient Sages should remain in the Sacred Realm as the guardian of the Temple of Light. He would live for all eternity and his powers would never pass down, thus he was to become the Elder Sage," Rauru explained, and then paused for moment to let his story sink in. "I am that one Ancient Sage."

Saria stood silent and thought about Rauru's explanation, about the Ancient Sages, and how his powers aren't passed down unlike the others'. Because of that one fact, she couldn't help but wonder. "If you're the last of the Ancient Sages, why is Zelda the Leader of the Sages and not you?"

"That's a very good question, Saria. It's because I was not the Leader of the Ancient Sages," Rauru replied. "The powers of the Leader of the Ancient Sages were passed down along with the powers of the other five Ancient Sages. And generations later, one man who inherited the powers of the Leader of the Ancient Sages eventually became the first King of Hyrule. Despite the fact that I am the Elder Sage, I still serve and will always serve the Leader of the Sages, even as their powers pass down. However, being the one surviving Ancient Sage, I act as a sort of overseer when the powers of other Sages have not yet fully awakened."

"I think I understand now," said Saria. After hearing and understanding Rauru's explanations, she thought back to why he showed up. "So you're the one who Zelda summoned to help us?"

"Yes," Zelda replied. "Rauru, we need your help with hiding the Ocarina of Time."

"Yes, Princess. I have seen what has happened. It seems that there are still minions of Ganondorf roaming about Hyrule, working to undo the seal we placed on him in the Sacred Realm," said Rauru. "I had hoped that his forces would disband upon his imprisonment in the Sacred Ream, but I was wrong. If they are after the Spiritual Stones, and thus the Ocarina of Time, then I will help you find a place to secure the Ocarina of Time so they cannot obtain it."

"Thank you, Rauru. Link and Saria came to me for guidance, and even I couldn't think of a good way to secure the Ocarina of Time from Ganondorf's minions," said Zelda. "I don't want to involve my father either as he believes the Ocarina of Time has been always been here and not with Link, and also believes that it is safest here in the Castle. So he worries more about diplomacy and keeping the peace and unity in Hyrule above all else. It was hard enough for us to convince him that Ganondorf had ill intent for all of Hyrule upon Link's return from the future."

"Well, Your Highness, you can depend on me to help you keep the Ocarina of Time safe from the evil that seeks it," said Rauru. "But first, we have to decide on a place to hide it."

"Well, every place that I could think of, there were reasons why they would not be a good place to hide a treasure as important as the Ocarina of Time," said Zelda. "We can't just simply bury it either."

"Couldn't we just hide it in the Sacred Realm since it's sealed?" Link wondered.

"No, Link. I'm afraid that's not possible," Rauru replied, sadly shaking his his head. "The Ocarina of Time is meant to be the final key to entering the Sacred Realm, and thus cannot enter the Sacred Realm as long as it remains sealed."

"Well that's no good," said Saria.

"I really don't want to send the Ocarina of Time outside of Hyrule again," said Zelda.

"Who would you have take it outside of Hyrule?" Link inquired in response to Zelda's suggestion.

"Well, since the Ocarina of Time must remain in Hyrule, the best place I can think of to hide the Ocarina of Time would be one of the five temples," suggested Rauru.

"Yes, the temples," Saria enthusiastically replied. "The temples should be pretty secure, right?"

"Yes, but which temple?" Zelda wondered.

They all stood silent as they thought about which of the five temples would be best for hiding the Ocarina of Time. It wasn't long before Link spoke up. "Well, we could hide it in the Fire Temple, but some of the Gorons wander in, out, and around the temple all the time. It's like their place of worship. I don't know how far into it they go, but if Twinrova can get to any of them, then they can find the Ocarina of Time."

"The Water Temple isn't a good place either since it sits deep in Lake Hylia," Zelda added. "There are too many Zoras who swim in the lake, too many men who fish there, and too many small settlements there. Besides, the main road between the Hyrule Field and the Faron Woods to the south passes right over where the Water Temple is."

"What about the Shadow Temple in Kakariko Village?" suggested Saria. "Link told me about all the temples. And since the Shadow Temple is hidden just past the graveyard there, wouldn't it be a good place for the Ocarina of Time?"

"It could, but I would much rather hide the Ocarina of Time as far from the castle as possible, and Kakariko Village is too close," Zelda explained.

"Well, I don't think the Spirit Temple would be a good place either," said Link. "Twinrova sorta took it over during my first adventure... even in the present. But, even if they aren't there now, Nabooru and some of the other Gerudo like to spend a lot of time at the Spirit Temple with their treasure hunting."

"So that leaves the Forest Temple," said Zelda.

Right when she heard that suggestion, Saria's face lit up like a Christmas tree. "Yes, the Forest Temple. That would be a really good place. It's deep in the Lost Woods, and no one in Kokiri Forest would dare go very far into the Lost Woods. Link and I are the only two who ever go there. Plus, most anyone who goes into the Lost Woods ends up getting lost and turns into a Stalfos. So I'm sure no one ever goes there."

"That's actually a very good idea, Saria, since it's also far away from the castle," said Zelda.

"Then let's take it to the Forest Temple," suggested Link.

"But how?" Saria wondered. "It takes us 2 days to walk there from here and Epona can't possibly carry all four of us."

"I can teleport us there in the same way that I crossed the void between the Sacred Realm and Hyrule," said Rauru.

"You can?" said Saria as her face lit up.

"Really?" Link added.

"Of course," Rauru replied. "I teleported here from the Sacred Realm, did I not? Now everyone gather around me."

Link, Saria, and Zelda complied and gathered around the Elder Sage not more than half a meter from him. Rauru then raised his hands above his head, which began to glow bright yellow.

"Now, everyone, you might feel a little... weightless, light-headed, woozy, maybe even nauseous. But I assure you, you'll be perfectly all right..." Rauru began to say before a bright yellow globe enveloped them. Seconds later, the globe broke up and flew into the late afternoon sky, leaving the quartet nowhere to be found. But as quickly as the globe had whisked them away, it reappeared inside the main foyer of the Forest Temple. The globe vanished, revealing Link, Zelda, and Saria with Rauru in the middle, just as they had stood in Hyrule Castle. "... once we arrive," Rauru finished, smiling as the other three began looking around, amazed at how quickly they had just traveled across Hyrule Field.

"Wow... that was... amazing," Saria gasped, glancing around the rather dark but well-decorated room around them. "Are we really in the Forest Temple overlooking the Sacred Forest Meadow?"

"Yes we are, my dear Saria," Rauru replied.

"And so fast too," said Saria as she resumed looking all around the big room.

"It's been so long since I teleported anywhere," said Link.

"It's my first time," said Zelda. "I must say, it certainly felt... well... different, yet amazing."

"But... I remember this place from my first adventure. Isn't this the main central chamber of the Forest Temple?" said Link.

"Yes, this is the center of Forest Temple, just beyond the entryway," Rauru replied.

"Wow, I've never been inside the Forest Temple before," said Saria. "I mean, I've seen it so many times since I like to spend a lot of time at the Sacred Forest Meadow. But, since the stairway's been broken for at least as long as I've been alive, I could never make it here."

"Well, Saria, you're here now," said Link, smiling at her. "I promise you it won't be your last time here."

"Link, since you've visited the Forest Temple once before on your first adventure, where do you think we should hide the Ocarina of Time?" Rauru inquired.

Link thought about it for a second, recalling the rather complex layout of the temple. "I don't know," Link eventually replied. "It's been so long and this place is so huge. There are so many rooms here, so many little corners and hiding places here, it's hard to choose a place to hide the Ocarina of Time."

"Couldn't you just hide it in the deepest room in the temple?" suggested Zelda.

"She has a good idea, Link," Navi agreed. "We had a hard enough time getting into the basement where we fought Phantom Ganon."

"Okay, let's put it there, then," said Link. With their problem solved, Link led the way as they made their way toward the elevator in the center of the large foyer. The elevator consisted of a simple large platform, with 4 pillars at either corner supporting another similarly sized platform up top. Once the four stepped onto the platform, the elevator shook with a loud crash before it slowly and gently descended down the elevator shaft with a subtle rumbling. All four and the fairies remained silent as the elevator slowly and almost painstakingly made the slow trip down to the lowest basement level where the deepest and most protected chambers lied. Once the elevator finally arrived at a rather large and circular room, Saria stepped off first. "Link, just how far down are we?" she wondered.

"Do you remember how high up that twisted moss tree we were last month?" Link asked, reminding her of their first time climbing the twisted moss tree in the Lost Woods together before their eventual first date beneath it.

Saria couldn't help but remember it. It had become so easy for her to remember all the wonderful times they had spent together, especially since Link's return from his two-year journey finding Navi. But when she thought back to the time they had climbed the twisted moss tree, and her heart nearly skipped a beat. "Wow, we're that far underground?"

"I think so," said Link.

"Come on, let's go hide the Ocarina of Time," suggested Zelda, getting their minds back on the task at hand. But then she discovered numerous doors, some partially covered, some completely hidden, and what appeared to be movable structures on all sides of the room. "Well, which way is the chamber?"

Link quickly pointed to a door half-blocked by the revolving wall to their right and replied, "That one."

"Are you sure? Can we even get in there?" Zelda asked.

"Of course. The chamber where I fought Phantom Ganon in the future is to the right when coming into the temple and going down the elevator," Link reassured. "It's one of five real doors in here. Four of them are small little cubby holes, while the other leads to the chamber. The other three are fake doors. All we have to do is push this wall a little, and we can get in."

"Link, I'm impressed. You actually remembered all of this?" Navi teased.

"Yes, I actually did," Link proudly replied.

The quartet proceeded toward the door to the right. They positioned themselves against one of the movable structures close to the door and pushed against it with great might. The revolving wall slowly slid, enough to reveal the knob to open the door to the chamber. "Okay, that's it," Spryte signaled, and all four stopped pushing.

With the door fully revealed, the intrepid quartet pressed on into the last chamber of the Forest Temple. Inside the fairly small chamber when compared to the temple's foyer, Link and Saria looked about, finding a set of stairs leading up to a large platform in the center of the room. All around the room, many paintings hung on the walls, each surrounded by a set of crimson curtains. Unlike the last time Link had visited this room, the paintings resembled a Skull Kid, the Lost Woods, a Kokiri boy, a grand castle, and other paintings of scenery unlike the haunted forests Link had seen when he fought Phantom Ganon.

"This looks like some kind of art gallery," Zelda commented as they ascended the steps. "Whoever used to live in this temple surely went through great lengths to keep it safe from potential bandits."

"So how are we going to hide the Ocarina of Time here?" Link wondered.

"It's quite simple," Rauru replied, and then held his palm out toward the center of the platform. His hand glowed bright yellow, then suddenly a ball of light swirled upward from the floor. In seconds, a rather ancient-looking treasure chest made from wood and ornate gold materialized. "We're going to lock it in there," he continued as he lowered his hand. "Your Highness, open the chest and place the Ocarina of Time inside.

Zelda obeyed and walked to the center of the room with the Ocarina of Time in her left hand. She slowly opened the chest with her right hand, revealing the chest to be lined with padded red velvet, and a soft red velvet pillow on the bottom. She then gently placed the ornate ocarina inside and closed the chest. "We are going to lock this chest, right?" Zelda inquired, turning to Rauru.

"Of course, but this won't be just any kind of lock," Rauru replied. He reached behind the front of his scapular and extracted a pair of golden skeleton keys. "Link, come here and take one of these keys. Your Highness, you grab the other."

Both Link and Zelda stepped up to Rauru and took a key from the wise old Sage. Each key glowed yellow as they took them from him. "Are these magical keys?" Link wondered.

"Yes, they are special magical keys that can only be used by the person to which they are bound," Rauru explained. "Only you, Link, can lock or unlock the chest containing the Ocarina of Time. You may go lock it now."

Link took his golden magical key, walked over to the treasure chest, and slid the key into the lock. With one twist, Link locked the chest and removed the key. "That's it?" said Link.

"For locking the chest, yes. Now Your Highness, go and try to unlock the chest," Rauru ordered. Zelda approached the chest and slid her key into the lock. But when she began to twist it, the key would not budge. She tried once again with a little force, yet the key still would not budge. Defeated, she removed the key from the lock.

"I don't understand," said Zelda. "This key looks just like Link's, yet it doesn't turn. Why?"

"Because, Your Highness, although they are identical keys, their enchantment keeps both keys from being used," Rauru explained. "Only Link can unlock this chest for as long as he lives. However, if Link were to somehow fall in battle, then, Your Highness, can your key be used to unlock the chest."

"I see. That's a very good way to keep the Ocarina of Time safe," Zelda commented. "But... what if someone takes Link, or worse me, hostage and forces one of us to unlock the chest with our keys?"

"That is a very good question, Your Highness," said Rauru. "I thought of that possibility as well. But, I'm going to need some help. Unfortunately, Link, Your Highness, I must send you outside, as what I am about to do must be kept a secret, even from you I am sorry."

"I understand, Rauru," said Zelda with only a slight smile. Rauru then extended his right hand and cast his spell. When he did, a ball of yellow light circled around Zelda and Link, and then whisked them out of the gallery and out of the Forest Temple. With Link and Zelda gone, and thus his secret safeguarding method safe, he then turned to the green-haired girl in the lovely green dress. 'If she's really becoming more aware of her dormant powers, and thus can sense other Sages, then perhaps she can be the one to help,' he thought to himself.

"Me?" Saria exclaimed, shocked that the great Elder Sage would need her help with another way to safeguard the Ocarina of Time.

"Yes, young Saria. You, like me, are also a Sage. And thus, I will need your help with guarding the Ocarina of Time," said Rauru. "As I have said, the magic that will safeguard this chest from the keys being used is a secret that only you and I can know. Even your closest friends cannot know this secret, no matter what."

"How are we going to do that? And why do you need my help?" Saria wondered.

"We're going to erect a magical barrier around the chest. If someone happens to take either Link or Her Highness hostage and forces them to open the chest, they have the Ocarina of Time. This barrier is meant to keep that from happening," Rauru explained. "I need your help with erecting this barrier because it's going to be your spell that shields the chest."

"My spell?" Saria exclaimed as her eyes popped wide open at Rauru's last answer. "But... I don't know any magic. My powers are still dormant."

"Dormant, yes, but they are there," said Rauru. "Besides, my powers are fully awakened. So I can help you to unlock one little spell to safeguard the Ocarina of Time, even if you only cast it once."

"I... think I understand," Saria hesitantly said.

"Come on, Saria, you can do it," Spryte encouraged. "Rauru's going to be helping you, so there's nothing to worry about."

Saria closed her eyes took a deep breath. She conjured up not only a spell she didn't know she possessed, but also the courage to trust in Rauru and cast the spell. She then opened her eyes and replied, "Okay, I'll do it."

"That's the spirit," Spryte praised.

"Excellent. Now come here, and stand before the chest," Rauru instructed.

Saria complied and stood before the treasure chest. But, still unsure of her dormant powers, she turned back to Rauru, "But, how am I going to cast this spell?"

Rauru slowly walked up to Saria and placed his right hand on her left shoulder. "I'll help you. But I can only help you awaken that one power within you to cast the spell. It has to be your spell and not mine."

Saria remained silent as she tuned back to the ancient treasure chest before her.

"Now, close your eyes, hold out your right hand, and concentrate," Rauru softly instructed. He closed his eyes and began to channel the power within Saria. "Picture the barrier shielding the chest, shielding the Ocarina of Time inside. You'll feel the power grow from within you."

Saria took another deep breath, closed her eyes, and held her right hand out toward the treasure chest. The thought of nothing else except the treasure chest and the ocarina residing within it. As she began to concentrate, Rauru's right hand began to glow, channeling his Sage powers to awaken hers. Soon, Saria's own right hand began to glow a bright green.

"Saria, you're doing it," Spryte said excitedly.

Saria opened eyes to witness herself casting the spell. A bright blue cylindrical barrier began to form all around the chest. Once the barrier was in place, Saria lowered her right hand and turned to Rauru. "So that's it? The barrier's up?" she wondered.

"Yes, young Saria. And you did it with your own powers too," Rauru replied.

Saria only frowned at Rauru's compliment, "But... you helped me to cast the spell."

"No. Like I said before, I just helped to awaken the power within you. It was you who cast the spell to protect the Ocarina of Time," said Rauru. "If anytime you need the Ocarina of Time, you have to lower the barrier before Link or, Goddesses forbid, Zelda can unlock the chest to open it. Also, it is a spell very similar to the one I cast on the keys, so only you can lower the barrier."

"But... what if something happens to me?" Saria wondered. "Then it'll be locked away forever."

"Well, if something were to happen to you, young Saria, and I hope it never happens, then I can lower the barrier if Link or Zelda needs to get to the Ocarina of Time," said Rauru. Then, he smiled at her, "Chin up, young Saria. You just cast your very first... well, second spell. The Ocarina of Time is now safe, even from your friends. So you can be certain that evil won't be able to find it and steal it."

Saria smiled with Rauru, "Yes... I did. And you're right."

"You're a Sage, after all," said Spryte.

"Come, Saria, let's rejoin our friends outside and return to the castle," said Rauru. He raised his hands high above his head, and in an instant, a globe of yellow light enveloped them and whisked them out of the Forest Temple.

Outside, Link and Zelda waited patiently by the tree stump that served as Link's and Saria's secret rendezvous place. As they waited, they exchanged few words and mostly wondered what Rauru and Saria were doing to safeguard the Ocarina of Time. They only had but a few moments, the time it had taken Saria to erect the barrier around the Ocarina of Time, to share any thoughts between themselves. Before they could really talk more about personal matters, a ball of yellow light emerged from the gates of the Forest Temple and descended to the foot of the broken steps. The light disappeared, revealing the girl in the green dress and the old man in the ornate orange monk's robe.

"Saria, Rauru, you're back," Link exclaimed as he ran up to them, while Zelda more casually walked up to them.

"Is the Ocarina of Time safe now?" Zelda asked.

"Yes, Your Highness, Link, the Ocarina of Time is safe. You have no need to worry about it." Rauru replied. "Now, let us return to the castle."

With the Ocarina of Time safe in its treasure chest and behind a magical barrier, deep in the Forest Temple, Rauru raised his hands above his head, and teleported them all away from the Sacred Forest Meadow. If evil was to ever get its hands on the Ocarina of Time, it would certainly have the most difficult and trying of times with getting through the magic protecting it. After all, it would take two to obtain the Ocarina of Time: Saria to lower the barrier, and Link to unlock the chest.

end of chapter 19

If you thought Saria was captivated by the world outside the forest, she was most amazed by her first meeting of Princess Zelda. It was like every story she had ever been told about castles and princess had come true. As you might've noticed from the description, Zelda is wearing her Wind Waker/Minish Cap/Spirit Tracks dress in this chapter. I've always liked that particular outfit of Zelda's, more so than even her Ocarina of Time outfits. I could've used her Twilight Princess outfit, but that would've been better reserved for Zelda all grown up. Then again, was Link any different? True, the game didn't really illustrate it, but the manga based on it did a little. Granted, this was a rather laid back chapter, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Saria sure likes to impress Link with her new clothes, doesn't she? On top of that, I have finally brought Rauru into the story as the fifth sage to be introduced in the story. That only leaves one Sage left to bring into the story. I have had readers speculate and even suggest character introductions. Believe me, I am way ahead of you. When they will be introduced is something you'll just have to wait and see with future chapters.

Despite the fact that I had split this chapter from Chapter 18, it actually ended up longer than I intended it to. As I said in the Author's Notes, I wanted to finish this installment and not split it up, hiatus or not. I apologize for taking so long to post this chapter, as a lot of events of a more personal nature have been occuring in past months, thus slowing my writing down. But I just recently got back into writing at a more regular pace, so I should hopefully be back to my old release pattern. I am starting Chapter 20 now, and I promise that that chapter will be even more interesting than the last two. Keep your eyes out for it, share with your friends, and review and critique. They really help.

Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda and its characters ain't mine, but belong to Nintendo and the various creators and directors of each of the games. So, please don't sue me. I'm just a lonely man who ain't got anything but his pride. Well, y'all enjoy this fanfic and review.

Have fun, Zelda fans, and good night,
Viper Inferno