Hero's Companion: Windwaker Kitsune
Naruto x ?
Link x ?
Link wasn't sure how he managed to get off the mountaintop. He had a vague memory of being helped to his feet by Naruto. But he didn't care. His mind was clean and numb with shock. He still had difficulty believing what he had just seen. Aryll couldn't be gone.
He gazed at the watch tower as words were spoken to him, but none understood. Despite Naruto calling out to him he climbed up the ladder. She wasn't here.
Link sank to his knees. His mind finally catching up with his emotions. Aryll wasn't there. She wasn't on the island. She was gone.
"Um…" He recognized the voice belonging to the person they had found, Tetra.
"Go away," he mumbled to her , hiding his face, not wanting to be seen crying.
For a moment Tetra was about to respond in her usual fashion, but paused, guilt coursing through her as she softly replied, "I'm sorry about what happened."
Link grunted and gravely responded, "It's your fault," he blamed her as he rested his head on his knees.
"Me?" Tetra exclaimed in outrage as her face tense. "How is this my fault?" she asked the boy as his statement clearly annoyed her. .
"If you hadn't come here, that bird wouldn't have either. It wouldn't have taken…" He reasoned as Tetra let out a reluctant sighed.
"I'm sorry," she said again.
"Don't give up on her as if she's already dead Link!" another voice interjected. The two were startled, turned to see Naruto leaning against the edge. "Do you mind if I talk with my friend?"
"Again I really am sorry," That was the only thing she could say. "Goodbye." Tetra climbed back down the ladder.
Link snorted and dismissed her apology. He stared out at the pirate ship anchored in the water. Damn pirates. And Tetra… if they hadn't had come on.
"We can still save her Link. If that bird was going to eat them it wouldn't have gone through the trouble of keeping them in one piece. Someone or something is after young women like Tetra. There was a reason behind all this. She's still alive." Naruto reasoned with the boy.
Link sat bolt upright. Aryll wasn't dead. At least, not yet. He had been so caught up in the horror of Aryll's capture, that he hadn't considered that there was still a possibility she was safe.
Naruto sighed as he looked towards the sky. "If only we had a way off this island."
"Even if you're right we don't even have a ship?" He stared at the pirate ship as an idea began to form. His heart filled with determination. There was still hope. "Tetra!" he called. "Tetra, wait up!"
Link nearly fell face forward onto the ground in his haste to chase after Tetra. By the time they got to her she was already on the ship. Confused, she turned to see the two other blondes running towards her. "Tetra! Let us come aboard your ship!" Link pleaded as the blonde young haired woman suddenly adorned an indignant look.
"No!" Tetra cried. "Absolutely not! We are not taking you with us!" The other pirates nodded in agreement.
"But, Tetra…" Link began to plead only for her to interrupt her to call add Miss to his name.
"But, Miss Tetra," he said earnestly, "your boat…"
"Ship." Once more she corrected.
"Your ship is the fastest way off Outset Island. We need to catch that bird, we have to do something!"
"Listen, kid," Tetra said, more than a hint of pity in her voice. "I know what I said before may have, um, gotten your hopes up a little. But see, even if your sister is okay, we have no idea where she is, how to rescue her, or who's got her. It's too dangerous. There's nothing we can do."
"Yes there is! I know there is…"
She shook her head. "I'm really sorry."
"Is that all you can offer? A sad apology," A gruff voice called out from the side. The whole group turned. The Rito postman was walking toward them.
"Hey!" said Gonzo, glaring at the postman. "Who're you to go barging in on our private conversation, yeah?"
"Hear me out before you attack," the Rito replied calmly. "I'm not looking for trouble I wish to just say my piece."
"All right," Tetra said, crossing her arms. "What do you wish to say, postman?"
The postman gave Tetra a polite nod before speaking."Well, you see," he began, "because I travel across the sea to deliver mail, I hear and see many things. I suppose you may know of it, but lately, I've been hearing rumors that that bird and other monstrous creatures are capturing girls from all over the Great Sea. Girls with long ears."
"I've heard the rumors as well," Tetra acknowledge as she recalled hearing passing rumors of such things in the towns they had passed. It was what alerted her and put her on guard in the first place. "But what's your point?''
"My point is that you have long ears, and so does young Aryll. I think that that bird mistook Aryll for you."
All were silent. Naruto and Link looked at Tetra.
"But… but," the girl stammered, "If the bird was looking for girls with long ears already, then that doesn't mean it thought she was me. It probably would have gotten her anyway." She reasoned, trying to assuage the guilt she was feeling. It wasn't her fault she was born with the features she was. No one can help that. Some people were blonds. Some were Riots. Some were tall or short.
"For that creature to go out of its way to a small and isolated island like this is unlikely." Naruto began. "Regardless no matter how you slice it, the presence of you pirates in this area brought the creature here."
"Hey, we've been over this and it's not our fault," Tetra said sharply. "We couldn't help that that bird happened to fly this way. What was my crew supposed to do, abandon me?"
The other pirates grunted and nodded in agreement. Gonzo glared at the boy and flexed his muscles. The postman put up his hands, and the pirates quieted.
"Settle down," the Rito said. "All of you are right. You pirates could not help where the bird brought your captain, but it is also unlikely that the bird would have found this remote island if not for you. Besides, without any compensation in mind these two young men came to your aid. Is it not a rule of the sea for pirates to always cleanse their debts?"
As much as Tetra wanted to debate this, it would be a blow to her pride knowing she left a debt unpaid. "Oh, all right," Tetra said. "You are right. I suppose I do owe them a debt. Though what good would passage on my vessel do without a location to sail too? I refuse to sail around aimlessly and waste the supplies of my crew on a wild goose sake."
"Then you're in luck. I may as well tell you that the bird that kidnapped both you and miss Aryll has made its foul nest to the north on the heights of the Forsaken Fortress."
Murmuring began to echo among the pirates, some of them turning white and suddenly that bravado of theirs had melted away.
"That place…" the words softly escaped Naruto's lips as Link turned and looked at him. Wondering just what kind of place to elicit that sort of response?
"You expect us to go to that place?" she spat, facing the Rito. "We can't go to the Forsaken Fortress, that's the place where..." she cut off and looked shocked with herself, as if she had said more then she'd intended. "I mean," She said quickly, "I refuse to do it. I won't jeopardize the safety of my crew. I simply won't."
"Then just take us close enough to where we can make it to land." Naruto argued. "No one is asking you to storm the fortress. Just get us there. You owe us after all."
"Tetra?" Link said timidly. Everyone stared at him. He turned red but continued. "This is my sister we're talking about. We'll handle the rest, just please bring us there." It's the only way, Link told himself, clenching his fists. The only way. But Link could only get half his brain to agree. His mind was coming up with all sort of horrific creatures that must plague this place. After all if a crew of grown men, of pirates was terrified of it how much of a chance what Aryll have?
"Damnit…" Tetra whispered as she looked between her crew and the two young men. "Very well we'll bring you close enough to get on the island and no more than that." Tetra said, her old bossiness returning. The crew sighed in relief. The postman shook his head.
"But," Tetra continued, turning back to them, "before we even think about leaving I suggest you get yourselves armed with weapons and a shield. It would be a pain in the ass if we got all the way there only for you two to die immediately."
Link ignored the insult and smiled weakly. He was going. He was terrified, but at least he was going. A hand on his shoulder comforted him. That was right, he wasn't going alone. Naruto was there to help them.
"Thank you," he said. "We'll go get armed."
"Just don't take too long, we don't have all day."
"I won't be long," Naruto called to Link as he strolled over to Quill.
"This might not be the best of ideas." The postman murmured quietly.
"We don't have much of a choice. She's his sister and my friend. I don't abandon my friends. I'm not too keen on trusting pirates, but we don't have the time to just wait for an alternative. "
"Just be sure to keep on your guard, their captain is definitely holding something."
He said as Naruto stole a glance at the captain. "I can take them if I have too."
"Just be careful and look after young Link," he said. "If you ever need any help, I live on Dragon Roost Island. Ask for Quill." He spread his wings and disappeared into the sky.
Naruto began making his way back to the village. It was time to get prepared. He arrived just in time to see Link leaving his house with the old wooden shield strapped behind his back, and a cloth sack was slung over his shoulder. He was sure it contained clothing, food, and money out of Grandma's savings. It was obvious he had told his grandmother what would happen. The two made their silent trek around the island. Arriving at Naruto's home he retrieved a large wooden shield and his blade. It was a normal and average blade a bit on the old side. He wasn't much of a swordsman in comparison to his hand to hand combat skills but not every enemy was wise to strike with your hands.
They returned to the beach where Tetra sized them up. She then took notice of Link's shield.
"Nice shield," she said. "It looks old. You're not going to get splinters and cry, are you?"
Before Link could reply, Tetra gave him a superior grin, and headed for the ship. Link glared at her retreating back. "Ignore her," Naruto cautioned. "Some people love to rile up others."
Link followed Tetra to the gangplank and boarded the ship. He was nervous, and he was worried about what might be happening to Aryll right now, but he still felt a little bit excited. He had never been on anything larger than a small sailboat before and even then he had only traveled around the island. At last, he was leaving Outset.
He glanced at Naruto who was oddly calm. That was right; Naruto wasn't a native of the island and didn't talk about his past much. He did mention something about growing up in a village in the forests, but Link wasn't sure if he ever heard of any island where there were old traditional villages.
The noise of busywork drew his attention as the pirates were bustling back and forth, carrying yards of rope and other odds and ends. Some were up among the rigging, letting the sails loose. Link found it wondrous that such a small crew could get such a large ship running.
He walked over to the stern of the ship. Tetra stood before it, shouting orders at the busy pirates.
A chuckle escapes Naruto's lips as a sad melancholy look formed over his features. At that moment he seemed a bit older, that wistful dreamy looking that he had seen on many of the elders of the village when they thought back to their youth. He seemed to make out a name…Ino. He wondered who that was, he supposed only time will tell when the blond would share his past.
"Are you ready for your orders now?" Tetra asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Orders?" Naruto spoke up.
"Yes. As long as you're aboard my ship you are a member of this crew, not a passenger. We need a lot of hands to run a ship so you may as well pull your weight."
"I should have seen this coming." Naruto shook his head. "Fine, what will you have us do?"
"You," she pointed to Link. "Report below deck to Mr. Niko. He'll show you what to do."
"How long will it take to reach the Fortress?" Link asked, impatience creeping into his voice.
"Not nearly long enough. If we stay on schedule, we'll arrive by night fall. Now report to Mr. Niko. I have work to do."
Link nodded. Night fall wasn't soon enough for him, but it would have to do.
And then she turned to Naruto. "And you will be helping Nudge and Gonzo lift." She said as she pointed to where two burly man were. One was the protective green shirt man with red bandana before and the other was tanner with a more feminine flare and light grey attire. He went over and saw they were lifting two types of supplies, sacks of an undetermined power and large barrels.
He went over to the barrel. "Don't hurt yourself little man." The one Naruto assumed was Nudge taunted him. "Maybe you should start with something lighter." He said as with a grunt he hoisted up a barrel with both arms and rested it on his shoulder.
"If you break anything you pay for it." Tetra remarked with a pointed glance. "Though considering where you were I doubt you could afford it."
That was the last straw. Naruto promptly put his hands on the barrel. With ease he lifted it up and casually balanced the heavy barrel on one hand. Tetra's jaw practically dropped at the unusual display of strength.
"Tet-I mean miss Tetra you might want to close your mouth before you catch flies. Just saying." He remarked with an innocent look hiding his smirk.
Tetra's face immediately flushed red in indignation. "Just shut up and get back to work."
Meanwhile Link was below deck navigating through a dimly lit room with many doors. It also seemed to be deserted. Link looked back up the stairs.
"Hey you there!"
Link turned. A small young man was walking toward them. He was dressed in a striped shirt, and a bandanna covered most of his sandy colored hair. His face was strangely pointed, and he reminded Link strongly of a cat.
"Hey! You!" the man said again. He leaned in as if to inspect Link's face. His breath stank.
"I'm Niko," the man introduced himself as. "As of today I am your superior. "
So this was Niko. Link was none too pleased with what he saw."Now," Niko began with self-important bluster. "Now, I promise I'll go easy on you so you do as I say, OK?"
"You've got to be kidding—"
"Don't talk back, Swabbie! Now, the first thing I want ya' to do is swab the lowest deck. Then, I want ya' to swab the highest deck. Then, I want ya' to go back to the lowest deck, and do it all over again! Got that, Swabbie?"
"Fine," Link said with a sigh. He knew it was no use arguing. "Where's the mop?"
Hours had passed and for a vessel, even of this size there seemed to be a surprising amount of work. Though, not enough to cover the distance seeing as how the heavy lifting was easily taken care of. "Captain wants you. We've reached the Forsaken Fortress." A spiny looking pirate called out to Naruto. "She's waiting in the crow's nest."
Naruto made his way to where the crow's nest was where the view was quite high. He made his way where Tetra stood at the edge of the crow's nest. She was looking straight ahead, seemingly unaware of him. Not wanting to disturb her, Naruto stood up and quietly came to stand beside her. Not too long after they were joined by Link.
Up ahead a large, stone fortress lay before them. It was built upon a rock in the water, and the whole building was messily constructed, as if pieces had been added on at irregular intervals. Some areas were made of wood—the top of the highest tower was made of half a shipwreck. Atop the second highest tower was a nest adorned with rusty anchors. The bird sat inside it. Eerie lights shone from within the windows, and searchlights scanned the waters all around. It was a grotesque apparition.
"The Forsaken Fortress," Tetra said softly.
"A place like that is rather grim. From what I understand it was an old ruin until recently. As you can see those are the remains of the vanished ships."
"How will I know where Aryll is anyway?'' Link finally said, breaking the silence. He tried hard to keep his voice calm. He couldn't be scared. He had to stay focused.
"I really don't know," Tetra said, shaking her head and turning to face him. "I guess you'll just have to play it by ear…" She couldn't hide her worried look.
"Those Seagulls." Naruto murmured.
"Over there." Naruto pointed to a gathering flock near the top of the tower. Something clicked in Linl's mind. Aryll loves seagulls, and wherever she was they were sure to be because Seagulls loved her in returned.
"That's where she is. If we follow the Seagulls we find my sister." Link exclaimed ecstatically.
Tetra gave him a skeptical look. "You're risking your lives on something like that?"
"We don't have anything else to go on." He said as he scanned around until he saw a flock of seagulls hovering around a room. "There." He pointed out. "The only problem is getting there." He said as his eyes fell back to the ship graveyard below.
Tetra began to pace up and down the crow's nest, staring first at the fortress, then at the ground, and then back at boys.
"I've got it!" she finally said, snapping her fingers.
"What? What?" he said eagerly.
Tetra didn't answer. She just smiled, and gave him a long wink.
"I have a feeling we're not going to like this." Naruto commented. "I knew this was going to be insane." He stood to the side as Link was inside a barrel, tied to a catapult. Only his head stuck out. The pirates were standing around him, very quiet and serious.
Link began to shake the barrel back and forth. It was too small to squirm out of. He yelled in panic. "Hey! Let me out of here!"
"Be quiet," snapped Tetra. "Do you want every guard in the Fortress to hear you?" She stood beside the catapult, and looked just as grim as the others.
"What's going on?" Link said.
"Don't get upset. We're going to launch you in this barrel—"
Link cried out. Tetra gave him an annoyed look.
"You don't have to panic. We're going to launch you right through the window where your sister is. The barrel will break your fall, and break itself so you can get out. It's an old pirate trick, it never fails."
Tetra turned to her crew.
"Okay, men!" she shouted. "Prepare to launch in five!" She held up a finger. Gonzo raised his sword.
"Are you sure about this?" Naruto asked.
"Of course I'm sure. This method is used all the time." Tetra responded indignantly.
"How many times have you and your crew done this?"
"We haven't, but I heard that other crews done this all the time."
Link's eyes popped open. "Wait what?"
Gonzo brought down his sword in one swift motion. The rope snapped and Link shot into the air with a scream.
"Aah crap." Naruto commented. This turned out not to be a good decision at all.