ShiningwingX: As I said at the end of the last chapter, I had to chapter split once again. The theme between this, and what is now Chapter VIII deviated so much from each other that it simply would not have looked right as a single chapter. Regardless, this means a quicker release for a new chapter! I hope everyone enjoys because I am VERY proud of this one.

Also, I would like to thank The Pilot for bringing something to my attention in the last chapter. I forgot to add a small tidbit about the Elemental Jewels in the post-chapter notes. This has sense been added so maybe it will help people to understand them a little more.

That said, I've been thinking of ways to make the story more enjoyable to read. I figured perhaps, sense I use music for my inspiration, I might share some of the music I use from chapter to chapter. Perhaps hearing what I do while writing may add strength to the words… or maybe I am simply overcomplicating things.

Either way, here are a few tracks which may prove to be a good listen for those who are interested (Some of these may appear in multiple chapters). You can likely find these on Youtube or some such place:

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Faron Woods

Final Fantasy X – Movement in Green

Pixietricks: Zelda 64 – Prayer (Forest Temple Remix)

Final Fantasy XII – Seeking Power

E.S. Posthumus – Ulaid

In any case, this stream of notes has gone on for far too long. I do hope everyone enjoys the chapter.

Chapter VII: The Reality of Illusion

The transition from the mystical grove upon the plains, to the lush, dense portion of the forest known as the Lost Woods was almost instantaneous as I step from the Lost Gate, the magical energies swirling within and rippling like disturbed water behind me. The given name of this segment of the Forest of Life's Beginning is very well deserved. Mazes of tree-lined pseudo-pathways branch out in all directions leading both everywhere and nowhere throughout the forest. Many false paths abound within this area, inviting confusion and even death to the unwary. Underpasses created from the hollowed trunks of massive fallen trees often serve as the only route through the large, solid bodies of their living brethren. The twittering of the myriad birds which call the high-rising boughs their home can be heard all throughout the beautiful, yet somewhat eerie landscape. Occasionally a small animal such as a squirrel or utele can be seen darting about the forest floor, foraging for food amongst the damp underbrush while the gently drifting Woodwisps dance about overhead. No grass grows within this vast wood and instead, the ground is blanketed by a thick layer of vibrant green moss like a natural carpet soft beneath the feet.

Unlike in other places where wildlife is abundant, the animals here show no fear whenever an outsider enters their domain, some even regarding the new arrival with curiosity. They have no need for fear, as the only sentient life they know is that of the Kokiri or Deku and any other races are foreign to them. However, it is rare that they will discover much of their strange visitor… because should said outsider remain in this hallowed forest then the curse shall consume them. Adults become as trees, and children shall become Skull Kids; small forest imps held in an existence between that of child and plant who serve as guardians to the living wood. They still retain some pieces of their humanity and therefore it is impossible to predict the nature of any single one of these beings as their dispositions can range from playful, to mischievous, or even malevolent.

No one knows the exact reason for the Lost Woods' hostility. Some believe Koboku himself intentionally created it in this way to keep those who would seek to harm the forest at bay. Others believe that it may have been created as a result of festering Umbreic energies which grew until it became one with the forest, twisting the once hospitable coppice into a place tainted by evil, though not entirely corrupted. Still others choose to believe other theories entirely.

Notwithstanding its mysterious nature, one thing is certain about this forest; only Kokiri and those who receive the Blessing of the Elder Wood may remain within this place for a prolonged period of time.

I am of the latter.

For many years I lived within one of the many villages in which the Kokiri make their home, located just at the roots of the fabled Deku Tree; guardian spirit of the forest and mortal form of the God of Forest, Koboku. I was raised as a Kokiri… but from the beginning I always knew that I was not the same as the others. Once, this was the place I called home, but no longer. Blessing or no, I am an outsider here… It is not for me to live within this place, among those who have existed along side it for eons.

Intrude I must, however, for I feel that this is the only place where I shall find the answers I seek. I trudge on through the underbrush, ducking through the slender branches of smaller trees and pushing my way through the thick vines barring my path. I refuse to use my blade to cut through even these seemingly unimportant obstacles. It is only a fool who would do such things, and risk inciting wrath of the forest spirits. This forest is alive and in more ways than one. It thinks, feels, and moves just like any other sentient being. The paths are never the same as the trees constantly shift and change position, creating new trails and barring old ones, causing those who wander too deep to loose their way and become lost, hence the name. Only those who can hear the echoing song of the forest spirits can effectively navigate the ever-shifting maze of earth and tree.

I listen intently, the faint melody of the forest reaching my ears as I traverse the dense forest, slowly making my way toward my destination. A sense of tension and anticipation floods my mind, growing ever stronger as I draw ever closer. A million questions flood my thoughts all at once, each fighting for dominance above the others but none swaying even the slightest. Would the Deku Tree even grant me the audience I seek now that the nightmare we all faced has been undone? Should the effects of our actions have affected even the Elemental Deities themselves, then the one chance I have to gain these answers may well be lost. I pray that it is not so, and that the Deku Tree may be able to enlighten my clouded mind to the truth.

Pushing my way through another conglomeration of vines and thick, leafy shrubs, I find myself in a rather spacious glade within the otherwise dense forest. I remember this area quite well, for it is very close to my destination; Nieraki, the village wherein I was raised nestled beneath the bows of the Guardian Spirit of the Forest. The familiar scenery Apalim trees kissed by the rays of sunlight flickering through the branches and leaves of the much larger Orefirs is a welcome sight to behold, the powerful limbs of the latter remaining stone still despite the slight breeze.

I take a moment to breath in the warm, earthy scent of the forest coupled with the enticing aroma of the fruit the Apalims produce. With a slight sense of melancholy I remember my days growing up within the village; the times I played with Saria and Kyun within this very orchard, and of climbing the trees to retrieve the sweet fruit. Those carefree days were over now, but their memory, rather than resulting in a feeling of regret or sorrow instead brings forth a sense of fondness. Indeed, once I finished my objective it would quite pleasant to visit my old friends before I left.

I only hope that history has left our friendship intact.

"Ah, so you have indeed returned to this ancient wood, Link." A familiar voice says, coupled with the sound of wing beats like those of a large bird.

I turn quickly to regard the speaker, surprised but not defensive, for the owner of the voice is a being I have come to know quite well indeed. Perched upon the low-hanging branches is a large owl, his bright indigo eyes staring down toward me, revealing both a sense of wisdom as well as a gentle nature. His strong, broad body is covered in feathers of all shades of brown and his large, powerful wings could easily envelop an urabi beneath a thick blanket of feathers. His eyebrows extend well past his porcine face, appearing as majestic, slightly curved horns waving ever so slightly in the light forest breeze. His short beak is golden in color and the upper half curls over the lower, while his tan face is marked by strange, looping symbols showing him to be no normal owl – provided his unnaturally large frame would not reveal this fact first. He shifts slightly, adjusting his position on the branch, jet black claws digging into the wood from his talons.

"Kaepora Gaebora?" I ask, genuinely confused as to why the owl would visit me now.

"So it seems my intuition was correct. You do remember everything." Kaepora says, cocking his head to the side.

"As do you." I say, not particularly surprised by this revelation considering the large raptor always did appear to have his own secrets.

Kaepora gives a pleased hoot in response. "Indeed, my memory too is intact. Though I am sure you have realized that there are not many who share this trait. It appears that this gift has only been granted to a select few, you and the princess among them."

"A trade perhaps, but far from a gift." I reply. "I will admit, I did not wish to forget the past but this short time alone has left me in a state of confusion. I cannot complain, I received the very thing I prayed for; my memory. However…"

"Your mind is torn." The owl answers knowingly, his words accompanied by a soft, understanding hoot. "I too have seen the changes this world has already undergone and I understand your confusion over it. Unfortunately I am afraid I know no more than you do."

"That is the reason I have come here." I reply. "If there is one in this land who can answer these questions, then it is the Deku Tree. He is the eldest of the Elemental Deities after all.

"A wise decision you have made, young hero." Kaepora replies. "You might also visit your friends one last time while you are here as well. With your path so uncertain it is unclear when you may return to this hallowed forest and it would be desirable to have no regrets when it comes time for you to continue on that path."

"I had planned for this…" I say with some reluctance in my voice.

But I wonder if the friendship I once had with those in the forest will ever be the same. The unspoken words reach my mind the moment the declaration leaves my lips.

"Your mind is troubled I can see. Then I shant keep you longer than I have." The owl replies, shaking his head to and fro thoughtfully. "I shall continue to observe Hyrule from above, and perhaps I too will discover the answers to this mystery."

"Very well. I wish you the best of luck, my friend."

"And I, you, Link." Kaepora responds, moving a wing in front of his body and lowering his head in his own semblance of a bow. "Before I take to the air, I leave you with these words. Always remember that the bonds of friendship are not so easily washed away by Time's flow. Though the friends you made during your trials may not remember you as you remember them, the bonds between you may well still exist. Do not fear those whom you care for and those who care for you for it is they who will give you the strength to persevere when your own has run out."

"I… never thought of it in that light." I say, the thought bringing a trace of hope to my addled mind. "I do hope you are right, wise one. If so, then perhaps I will find something worthwhile after all.

"Indeed!" The owl proclaims, quite pleased by my response. "I believe your role in this world has not yet ended, but believe in your own courage and those around you, and the fog shrouding your path may well clear." He hoots enthusiastically, beating his wings and lifting himself from his sturdy perch. "We will meet again Link, but until then I shall bid you farewell."

"Be well, Kaepora." I reply, watching as the majestic owl ascends higher into the air, disappearing above the canopy of thick leaves.

With the sagely avian's words in mind I return to the task at hand, turning to face the large, hollow trunk of a massive tree which serves as one of only two possible entrances to the village of Neiraki. The trunk is large enough that a horse and carriage could easily pass underneath and so long that it would take at least ten full minutes to reach the opposite end, and the village beyond. Small, fat-capped mushrooms line the entrance of the tunnel, casting a bluish-green glow around the natural passage while a sheen of magical energy of similar hue bars all from entry. This glass-like barrier protects the village, not only from the beasts who wander the woods, but any more intelligent being fool-hardy enough to attempt invasion of this most important forest dwelling.

I raise my hand slowly, resting my fingertips upon the barrier as I have done many times before. The barrier is smooth, and almost feels as if it is not even there at all but for the traces of forest energy dancing along the tips of my fingers like silken flower petals. I wait patiently as the barrier slowly brightens, its color becoming ever more vivid in response to my touch. A band of white light crosses the beautiful paling, a silent signal that only those who know the secret of this obstruction could understand. I close my eyes in response clearing my thoughts and concentrating fully on the powerful barrier.

"Enimar…" I utter calmly as my eyes open once more.

The magical sheen glows vividly as the words leave my lips, the colors swirling together and growing ever brighter until anything that could once be seen beyond the magical sheen is hidden behind the intensity of the light. Then, all at once the barrier slowly begins to fade, starting in the center and extending outward until nothing is left of the paling but the faint residue of magic. With a satisfied nod I carefully step over the threshold, taking care that I do not accidentally crush any of the fragile fungi lining the entrance.

The tunnel is quite old and it is obvious that it has been used many times in its long life by the denizens of the forest. Under normal circumstances the wooden passageway would have been quite dark but for the luminescent fungi lining the walls, and casting a light of pale blue-green about the portal. A faint light at the far end of the corridor serves as the only indicator of my destination. Breathing in the earthy scent of the forest I press onward, eventually reaching the opposing end of the long, hollow trunk.

I quickly step out into the forest proper once more, taking a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to the abrupt change in lighting. Glancing about I find myself standing upon a steep, flat rise of land, the soft, greenish moss feeling like plush fabric beneath me. Just below me, veiled by a thin layer of orange colored mist is Neiraki, the village of the Elder Wood… the very village wherein I had been raised since I was but an infant… the place that a young, fairy-less Kokiri once called 'home'.

Nearly a century of small buildings, carved from the remains of once-towering trees peak out from the slight fog, many grouped very close to one another in small communes. The structures continue to sprout leaves and flowers in various places, continuing to live on despite their conversion into homes and shops for use by the Kokiri children, some even baring resemblance to the trees they once were. Paths of dirt curve about the village, leading in all directions. Despite the apparent haphazard placement of the buildings as a result of forming the village from the forest itself, these paths and the makeshift signposts which accompany them ensure that no one in the village is ever lost for long.

Numerous narrow, but strong bridges carved from the wood of the Orefir, and suspended by thick vines connect the natural structures via an intricate series of high rising paths, casting shadows over the lower areas. The chirping of a number of birds accompanied by a chorus of cicadas can be heard traveling upon the mid-afternoon air, and beyond the village I can clearly see the high rising boughs of a great tree, shifting and moving against the wind instead of with it.

"I've finally returned…" I say calmly, taking in this village which holds so many memories of my childhood.

Approaching the edge of the steep incline, I push myself from the rise, leaping to the ground below and landing with a light thud. I calmly pick myself up, brushing the dust from my tunic before quickly scanning the village for any signs of life. There are none to be seen however, which is not surprising in the slightest. It is likely that they sensed the barrier's fall and went into hiding in the event that an outsider had somehow found the means to enter their precious village.

I begin to take a step forward, only to quickly leap back on instinct as a Deku Seed strikes the ground where I had been standing. My body slides across the ground and I'm forced to plant my hand upon the thick moss to maintain my balance as the projectile explodes into a cloud of yellowish smoke before me.

"Veid!" I shout in the Kokirian tongue.

"Wait… I know that voice." A voice – also familiar – says from nearby.

At that moment, I hear a rustling just to my right, and I turn just in time to see a child in a green tunic similar to my own leap from the branches of a small tree. His boots extend to his calf and are made of the dark brown leather that only the skin of the common fanellu can produce and a belt of similar color encircles his waist, lined with small pockets which hold many items; the typical attire for the Jirasved, the hunters and defenders of the Kokiri. A pair of fingerless, crimson vambraces covers his hands and upper arms and in his right hand, he holds the slingshot, which no doubt fired the seed from moments before.

His brown hair is long and straight, reaching past his shoulders and covering the left of his dark green eyes which shine with vigor and hardiness. A dark green bandana is tied about his head, the two ends draped lazily over his left shoulder. The headband is adorned with the symbol of the Jirasved; a broad, four tipped leaf with an intricate pattern of vines weaving about themselves in a circle around it. His lips curl into a confident half smile as he rises from the ground, tucking the slingshot away between his belt and tunic.

Upon his shoulder sits a fairy bathed in a bright orange aura. From a distance, the diminutive creature would appear to be no more than a gossamer winged ball of light. However, within the shimmering veil the body of a young man, his skin the same color as the light which surrounds him can be seen perched casually upon his charge's shoulder, right arm resting upon his knee. His only attire is a nondescript pair of leggings, seemingly made of small leaves. His expression is similar to the hunter's but in a less serious manner, as if a cynical remark or jest might pass his lips at any moment.

"So… our prodigal brother finally returns." The boy says cheerily walking up to approach me.

"It's been a while since we've seen you." The fairy affirms before grinning humorously. "Do you know how worried we've been? We were just about to prepare a funeral pyre."

Of course… history must have accounted for my absence from the forest in this time as well, though it is likely for a different reason. I chuckle slightly, in part due to seeing my old friend again and also due to the fairy's not-so-subtle quip.

"Kyun… I thought I recognized that sharp aim." I say, returning his smile with one of my own before regarding the fairy. "And of course I'd recognize that wit of yours Jix." The fairy grins hubristically in response.

"You were never able to evade a shot from me before, Link." The Kokirian marksman says, crossing his arms. "You've improved, haven't you?"

"You might say I've been through a good many ordeals since we last met." I say, my words holding a two fold purpose.

"You will have to tell us about them later then, but for now…" He trails off, raising his fingers to his lips and emitting three high pitched whistles in quick succession.

The obvious reason behind this gesture is immediately confirmed as one by one, the rest of the children slowly reveal themselves from the number of homes dotting the area. Small heads peak out from the makeshift doorways of the nearest homes, turning in the direction Kyun's whistle before slowly exiting fully. More and more gradually appear, some drawn by curiosity but Kyun simply waves them off, instructing them to return to their own business. All at once, what seemed to be an abandoned settlement slowly transforms into the village I remember, each of the inhabitants baring the appearance of a mere child despite many of their ages being far beyond that stage of life that is so brief and fragile to any other race. Looking upon them now reminds me of those days when I once saw myself as one of them, a time that did not last long.

"Are you well, Link?"

My mind snaps to as I hear the words, shaking my head and regarding Kyun once again. "Ah… it is nothing. It has simply been so long since I've seen everyone… I was lost in memory for a moment."

"Missed us that much, did you?" Jix says. "Well, now that you're here what do you plan to do?"

"I must speak with the Deku Tree." I say matter of factly, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Kyun.

"Well that is quite forward… do you not wish to rest first?" Kyun asks, perplexed. "What is so important that you would need to speak with him now, when you have only just returned?"

"There will be plenty of time for rest later." I reply. "There are many things I must discuss with him immediately."

"I see." Kyun replies, the smirk never leaving his lips. "Then in that case…"

Trailing off, the Kokiri hunter closes his eyes, slowly bowing his head in deep concentration. Though no effect can be visibly seen, I am nevertheless able to tell what he is doing. The faint sound of rustling leaves reaches my ears, though this sound is not from the myriad trees growing in and around the village but from the channeling of forest magics. So quiet is the sound that it is obvious that the magic would not even be powerful enough to move a single leaf, or to erect the most fragile of barrier. No, this magic is for another purpose entirely.

The effect of the channeling manifests itself the moment Kyun opens his eyes. There is no surge of power, and no bright flashes of light. The only thing that can be seen is a small vellik butterfly, its translucent wings decorated in patterns of green and brown, which drifts lazily down from the canopies, hovering in front of Kyun. The marksman slowly cups his hands together, allowing the butterfly to alight itself within his palms before slowly closing his hands gently around the delicate creature. Lifting his hands up he positions them near his mouth, whispering into them in a voice so quiet that not even my own sharp Hylian ears can hear the words he speaks. After but a few seconds, he slowly opens his hands, whisking the small butterfly away with a gentle wave of his arm. Beating its wings quickly, the small insect darts off toward the south, intent on fulfilling the purpose for which Kyun had called upon it for.

"I just sent a message ahead of us with that vellik. It should reach the Deku Tree long before we do." Kyun explains. "Come. Mido is out in the forest at the moment, but he will not be gone long. You're sure to get an earful from him once your business is finished, but with Mido it matters not rather it is before or after."

So true… Mido never has been very fond of me, and I feel it would be best to finish speaking with the Deku Tree before that inevitable confrontation rather than after.

"Indeed." I agree with a nod.

Kyun does not respond, nor does he need to and instead, turns in the direction the butterfly took only seconds before, giving a silent gesture for me to follow. I oblige, joining him as we proceed in the direction of the Guardian Spirit and Deity of the forest. The thoughts and questions that have filled my mind since the moment I had returned to my childhood return to the forefront with even greater ardor than before as each step brings us ever closer to the potential source of answers to those very questions.

The trek through the village turns out to be rather uneventful and a quiet air of peace fills the village where my earliest memories reside. The casual banter of the inhabitants and their guardian fairies lends to the tranquility of the gentle easterly wind and the trickle of water from the many small streams and cascades around the village. While I would very much enjoy having more time to revisit my old home, the time for that is not now. I do not wish to keep the Deku Tree waiting, nor do I wish to hear of whatever degrading statements that Mido would no doubt seek to make at my expense upon his return.

Within a half hours time, Kyun, Jix, and I finally come upon a high rising wall of solid rock on the southern outskirts of the village, overgrown with a myriad different species of mosses and vines. There is no possible way to see the top of the wall through the ever thickening veil of orange fog wafting about above the village, obscuring all but the powerful rays from Din's Eyes from sight. The wall extends for many miles around, well outside of the boundaries of the village, and serves to protect the Deku Tree of any who might wish Him harm. The only way through this impenetrable, earthen barrier is but a small valley which winds through the stone leading to the glade of the forest's guardian Deity.

"Well… this is as far as we go, Link." Kyun says, propping himself against the wall to rest. "You should hurry on. You would not want to keep the Deku Tree waiting."

"What of Mido?" I ask, the thought of the self-proclaimed leader of the Kokiri bringing some manner of concern to my mind. "When he hears of my return, and that the two of you have allowed me to speak to the Deku Tree, he is sure to be furious."

"Mido… hmph." Kyun says, his lips curling into a impish grin. "I do not believe we will have any trouble dealing with that arrogant kishva… "

"We'll keep Mido occupied while you finish your business with the Deku Tree." Jix adds calmly. "Do not worry yourself on our account."

The grin I had worn before upon meeting Kyun returns once again. It seems my old friend and his fairy companion had not changed much and were still as troublesome, or as they might say 'fun-loving' as ever. They always did have a tendency of intentionally irritating Mido, finding his resulting tirades quite humorous. I chuckle to remember the many times that I myself witnessed these outbursts during my time living amongst the Kokiri. I nod in understanding to Kyun and Jix, who answer the gesture with confident half-grins.

"Do try to not upset him too much." I say.

"No promises." Kyun retorts.

With another chuckle I turn in the direction of the rift, starting off in the direction of the Deku Tree. Kyun and Jix call out one final farewell and I raise my left hand in an answering gesture before entering the fissure, my mind focused on the Deity waiting on the other side. I glance about warily, remembering the many Deku Babas that once infested the path and made the trek a rather bothersome experience. It seems, however that no such creatures are present, the only other sign of life besides the creeping vines and small, ground hugging plants is the faint whistling of a far away bird. As the path continues to wind on, I find that despite the lack of hostile plants, the natural road appears much more vibrant than it once did. Taking this as a sign that the Deku Tree must be doing quite well, I press on, fighting off an uncomfortable sensation in my stomach brought on by a blend of eagerness and nervousness.

Weaving through the many shrubs, and slow hanging vines, I eventually reach the end of the long, confined path which opens into an enormous clearing. The walls of the rift widen and spread about in a circular pattern, rising high into the skies far above the thick forest mist, like a massive bulwark created by the very earth itself to protect any who rest within it's walls. Small trees and flowering plants abound, spread densely throughout area, bathing it in a variegation of color only added to by the many iridescent fireflies which flutter peacefully about the landscape. Many different species of birds, perhaps the very same ones I had heard while in the path can be heard amidst the trees while a few deer and urabi can be seen grazing on the emerald grass.

In the center of this sacred wood is a large, albeit shallow pool of crystal clear water, the surface shimmering like diamonds as the bands of sunlight streaming in through the mist kiss the surface. And standing tall within this small pool of water, gazing out over the expansive garden is the being that rules over all of them; the guardian Deity of the Forest Himself.

Father Koboku. The Great Deku Tree.

To call Him anything less than great would be a horrible understatement. His trunk is so vast that even a century of men standing within arms length of one another could not even hope to surround Him. His towering boughs reach high into the air, the forest mist wafting about the broad, thick leaves of dark green like a veil of energy, called upon by His mere presence. Enormous roots extend from the base of His large trunk descending into the pool which surrounds Him, absorbing energy to maintain His vigor as well as pouring it into the ground that other life forms might grow and flourish as He does.

From the center of the trunk to just above the base, the wood appears to be molded into the form of a great visage, like that of a Human or Hylian, his very aura carrying both an air of power and dignity as well as kindness. It is the feeling one would expect to receive from a father who is both wise and caring, but also calm and patient. Though they do not move, His eyes seem to watch everything, as if the entirety of the forest is enveloped in His protective gaze. A thick layer of moss in the likeness of a beard covers the areas surrounding His mouth, which is curled into an expression of content.

The Deku Tree emits a low, whispery breath and even from this distance I can feel the resulting breeze as well as smell the scent of earth and wood. All at once the animals cease their grazing, and turn toward their guardian in a show of respect for the Deity. Their heads lower one by one like loyal subjects bowing before their benevolent king.

"Word has reached mine ears of thy arrival, young hero." He says, his voice echoing loudly despite its whisper-like tone. "Come… standeth before me."

The Deku Tree's way of addressing me could only mean that He, as I had suspected, also remembers the time of darkness. Despite this revelation, I am more relieved than surprised. I had suspected that He, as a divine would indeed retain His memory of the unfortunate events that once plagued Hyrule. I nod slowly, and proceed through the glade, making my way toward the great tree who waits ever patiently before me. The eyes of a hundred animals follow my movements, stepping to the side to make way for the one their guardian had summoned. Reaching the edge of the Deity's fount, I lower my eyes, kneeling in reverence to the Forest Father.

"Great Deku Tree, please forgive my abrupt request." I say humbly.

"I did sense thy troubled spirit the very moment that thee had entered this ancient wood." The deity responds calmly. "Stand and allow me to look upon thee, mine child."

I comply, slowly getting to my feet and craning my neck to look into the eyes of the great tree. "I thank you for your kindness, Father Koboku. Surely you, in your vast knowledge must know of the recent happenings in Hyrule. Am I also correct in assuming that you of their origin?"

"Thou dost refer to the actions that thyself and the Princess of Destiny didst take to erase the taint left upon the world by the Demon known as Ganondorf Dragmire." It was not a question. "Indeed I know of this. And I know of the fate of this land before those very actions. My death… the suffering of mine children… and thy efforts to save them and all of Hyrule from the spread of evil. In the same way that thee, the young royal, and the wise owl hath retained your memories, mine too has remained."

"All of that which you speak is true, lord of the forest." I say. "But I still do not understand what our actions have truly resulted in. If all we did was to erase the taint he left on our world, then why are so many things so different… so strange. It feels as if we have done far more than to simply erase the events of a mere seven years."

"As well it should, for thy actions hath effected this and much more." He replies calmly.

"What…?" I reply, my eyes widening.

"As thou may not know, the flow of time is a very fickle thing. It is not constant, nor is every event a separate occurrence. Every chain of events holds a point of origin, and through processes of causality, these chains continually interweave and unweave based on the events, which unfold along their fragile strands. Should one be changed even slightly, the result shall be an alteration in every event thereafter. However… if one should changeth the events of one of these points of origin, the subsequent alterations become much greater as many more strands have been altered."

The Deku Tree's words only serve to add to the confusion. Though I understand the words, their meaning is obscure to me. "Why are you telling me this? Precisely how heavily have our actions effected history's course?"

"Picture if thou will, the flowing of a river, the path of the water travelling in a single direction. Along this river there doth lie a large stone, embedded into the earth that rests beneath the waters. This stone stands as an obstruction, and the flow shall be forced to pass around this stone on either side before converging once more upon doing so. However, should the river's waters be powerful enough, its very pull may remove the stone from its position within earth, leaving a depression where it once stood, but this depression… it cannot remain. The river shall washeth over the now empty space where the stone once stood, filling it and continuing to flow unobstructed. Now, the very nature of the river hath been altered by these events. The flow of time doth work in a similar manner."

"Often times, an origin point similar to that stone is created with the birth of one destined to have a profound effect on the world as a whole such as thyself, the princess… and the demon." I gasp as the answer begins to form in my mind. "Thou did not merely erase the taint he didst leave on the land. His birth, his life… the Temporal Reverse created by thee and the young sage-princess hath removed his very existence from time's flow, and everything that his existence effected in even the slightest way hast been forced to alter itself to compensate for the void his loss hath left. He hast become no more than an anomaly, born but never to exist."

"Then that means… we have essentially sentenced him to a fate worse than death itself." I say, feeling somewhat guilty despite myself. Ganondorf was a monster indeed, but to subject him to such a grim doom…

"Even I cannot fathom what he must have felt when his existence was stripped from the fabric of time, but the results of this rewritten history were made manifest on the very day he should have been born… nearly one hundred years ago." My eyes widen even more as I hear just how much our actions have effected Ismirra. "Reality hast become illusion, and illusion hast become reality. These actions have lead to the death of one time, and the birth of another. It is unclear what may occur as a result of this shift, or who may be effected by it."

"Then even you cannot say what might come as a result of these changes." I say, feeling somewhat disappointed.

"I have existed from the beginning, the death of one body giving rise to another but retaining each and every memory of mine previous form… and yet even I cannot see what the future may hold. Only she who rules over time itself would have such knowledge… and she, much like the golden triad, left this world long ago."

"Which means there is no possibility of discovering such an answer, yes?" I ask.

"I am afraid so." The Deku Tree replies.

"I understand…" I say, defeated.

"I can tell that thy heart struggles still." He replies sympathetically.

"Did we do the right thing?" I question disconsolately, as much to myself as the deity before me. "The land was in a horrible state… it would have taken many years to rebuild our homes and even longer to mend the shattered hearts of the people. But was it right of us to make such a decision without even considering what the rest of Hyrule felt would be right? I feel as if… our actions have affected something that was not for us to meddle in. The land seems better for what we did, but is it real? Or is it merely my own wishful thinking."

"I understand thy plight, young Link." The Deku Tree responds. "Thou art among the few who remember the world as it used to be but possess no knowledge of how it hast become. Thou art torn between the reality that is, and the reality that thou remembers. I cannot say rather thy actions shall lead to good or ill… but the Hero's spirit still rests within thee. Perhaps it was the will of the Golden Ones that this should come to pass."

"Perhaps so…" I say, smiling despite myself as I remember the prayer I had made on that day. "Thank you for your wise words, Great Deku Tree. They were most helpful… but there is one last thing that I wish to ask.

"As thou wish." The forest god responds simply.

"What of Navi?" I ask. "When we returned to this time, she was among those who had lost her memory. I can only assume that she returned here. I merely wish to know how she fares."

"Navi… the young fairy-child did indeed return to these woods not long ago." The Deku Tree replies. "Though her memory may not remain, the trials of her journey with thee have nevertheless been a burden upon her fragile wings and her energy is not what it once was. She sleeps now within mine boughs, regaining her lost strength. It shall taketh much time – years perhaps – for her to recover fully but rest assured that she is well."

The Deku Tree's explanation brings a sense of relief to me. I had worried much for my former companion after she had left my side in the Temple of Time. To hear that she is indeed well is perhaps the greatest weight that the forest father has so graciously removed from my soul.

"These are good tidings. Perhaps I will see her again one day." I say gladly. "Until then, I suppose I too should find my own path to follow along this new road."

"Trust in thy courage and the way will become clear." He says, and I notice his wooden lips curl into the smallest of smiles. "May thou go with the blessing of the forest."

"I wish you great health, Father Koboku." I say humbly, bowing once more. "Farewell."

Bidding the Elemental Deity of Forest my final adieus I turn in the opposite direction, making my way back through the glade and toward the small fissure leading back to the village proper. The animals had resumed their grazing and the birds continued their never ending song within the trees, complimented by the croaking chorus of frogs around the pool. I take a moment to enjoy the peaceful sounds, knowing that soon, my ears would be hearing something far less pleasant; the voice of a particular self-proclaimed Kokiri leader.

Despite having to split the chapters again, and therefore having a shorter chapter for release, I can honestly say I am VERY happy with this chapter. It is a more 'quality over quantity' type of thing, I feel. This chapter really gives a good amount of plot detail and shows just how complex the situation has become.

So now, as always I have a few points to summarize. More information will become available on the site.

1. I changed the lore of the Lost Woods somewhat to better suit its nature. I did not feel that some of the 'Canon' legends were fitting for this story, and so I decided on this.

2. Kaepora Gaebora, known to some as 'That Annoying Owl'. I, in fact rather like the character and wished to include him in this story. This isn't the last time you will see him.

3. I've taken to including unique languages for the races of Ismirra. I will include translations of any words or phrases that have been used on my Webs.

4. I am sure some people are likely confused by the nature of the Temporal Reverse. I shall include an explanation on the site so that everyone might better understand it.

5. Yes, Navi is safe in the forest. While the theory connecting her to Majora's Mask is interesting I feel it to be inappropriate for this story. Link will have other reasons for leaving Hyrule soon though.

I honestly haven't the slightest idea if I accurately portrayed the Deku Tree's archaic dialect. I did some research to try to find the proper way to use those terms but some of it seems… off in a way. Maybe its just me? Also, for those who listened to the music I suggested while reading, what do you think? Did it help make the reading more enjoyable or add more depth perhaps? Should I make this a regular thing?

Either way, please remember to leave your reviews. I am always very happy to hear any thoughts or suggestions.

Also do not forget to check my Webs page for this story if you wish to learn more about the characters, languages, or the chapters themselves. http:/ trialsoftheheartdm(dot)webs(dot)com/