ShiningwingX: It's been quite a while yet again, but Chapter VIII is finally here! Again, I had to split chapter VII which is where this one came from. I hope it was worth the wait. Not much else to say so I'll just leave it at that in this regard.

One other thing however; As of June 5th, 2011 (As in, almost three months back? Yeah…) this story has reached its one year anniversary! This makes me proud because it's the first time I've stuck with a fanfiction project for so long (My last story didn't last nearly as long). So Happy Birthday ToTH: DM and etc. Here's to everyone's kind reviews and support. I wouldn't have stuck with this if it wasn't for all of you. Cheers.

Listening Material (In order):

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Molgera Battle

Final Fantasy X – Makalania Woods

E.S. Posthumus – Nara

Eternal Sonata – Shape of Life

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – Cloud Smiles

Now I know,

There is no other,

Love like a mother's

Love for her child

And I know

A love so complete

Someday must leave

Must say goodbye

Celine Dion - Goodbye's the Saddest Word

Chapter VIII: Emerald and Amethyst

"I cannot believe the two of you!" A harsh, childish voice of middling pitch reaches my ears immediately as I near the exit of the rift connecting the village to the glade of the Deku Tree.

"You'd be wise to calm yourself, Mido." A voice, obviously Kyun's, says casually in response. "You would not wish to find even more of those spots on your face, would you now?"

"How dare you speak to The Great Mido, in such a way?" Mido's voice, sounding obviously offended cries out. "You seem to forget your place in the village, Kyun."

"Great? Hah." Kyun replies. "Come now Mido, the only one in the village who considers you 'great' is yourself."

"Well, perhaps not 'only'. We mustn't forget Fado." The voice of Jix chimes in.

It is at this moment that I round the corner, and witness the two squabbling Kokiri before me. Mido's freckled face is tinged a bright, blue-green color, and his teeth are bared in anger, while wrathful tears stream from his eyes. Kyun stands nearby with Jix perched in the usual place upon his shoulder. The sarcastic Kokirian hunter merely stares back, undeterred by the murderous glare, his arms folded casually behind his head as a smirk crosses his lips.

"It seems obvious that these two will be of no help, Mido." Kavis, Mido's much more even-tempered fairy says calmly. "If Link has gone to speak with the Great Deku Tree, perhaps we should follow him. Or we could simply wait for him at the entrance as this is the only path between here, and the Great Deku Tree's glade and he will return eventually."

"There is no need for that." I say, revealing my presence as I step from the rift.

Apparently startled by my words, Mido turns sharply in my direction, nearly knocking Kavis from the sky in the process as the agile, violet hued fairy darts out of harms way. Kyun merely turns his head toward me, grinning mischievously at Mido's expense while Jix, ever relaxed does the same. I nod toward the latter pair before focusing my attention to the former. Mido's ire seems only to increase upon seeing me and though the look of contempt he bore may have once made me shrink, I now merely stare back, unaffected by his rancorous gaze.

Mido's appearance is that of a rather plain looking boy, though he is, in fact one of the eldest of the Kokiri; a fact that has likely attributed to his assumed superiority. His bright orange hair is rather unkempt, sticking out haphazardly in places from beneath his small green cap which bares some resemblance to my own, but is significantly smaller. Though the tears of anger he displayed before have abated somewhat, his walnut brown eyes are still squinted in ire. His nose is turned up slightly and his wide mouth is drawn into a scowl, baring his teeth. His cheeks are spotted with a number of freckles, only slightly hidden within the accompanying blue-green discoloration brought on by the rush of blood.

His tunic bares a few small differences to my own, the bottom portion having been fashioned with individual holes for each leg and bore no sleeves upon the top. The attire itself is rather worn with age, and is quite tattered with missing lacing and loose threads hanging from the legs. A few patches adorn the cloth from repeated mending and the fabric is slightly stained with a variety of unrecognizable substances. His short boots bare similar signs of wear, their lime green hue having faded with time and sporting a number of stitches.

Kavis bares little similarity to Mido, his own expression, one of calm and temperance which is only added to by the soft, purple glow emanating from his body. He is rather dignified in appearance, his long hair tied behind his head in a tail, which falls half way down his back. His attire is similar to Jix, consisting merely of a pair of leggings which bare the appearance of many diminutive, violet hued leaves, skillfully woven together. His wings, like those of the rest of his kin are translucent and shimmer faintly with magical power.

"So you've finally returned, have you?" Mido says grudgingly.

"Imarike Jun Mido…" I say, pronouncing his full name formally. "I suspected I might see you."

"You have some nerve intruding into the Deku Tree's glade, Link." Mido says scornfully. "You have committed an act of utmost disrespect to the Kokiri people to have made such a brash action."

"I believe it is within the right of every inhabitant of the forest to commune with Forest Father should they seek enlightenment." I retort.

Mido merely smirks. "True, every inhabitant of the forest does have that right… but you are not among that number. You are not one of us!"

I wince slightly despite myself. Mido always knew exactly what strings to pull that would be the most painful for me, and it seems that now is no different. He appears to notice the effect his words have wrought for his grin only widens in triumph. Nevertheless, I hold my ground, never shrinking despite the blow to my spirit.

"Strike a nerve did I?" Mido continues. I remain silent. "Nothing to say? Just as I would expect, you've not changed at all, Link. Still no more than a coward; a coward with no fairy to call his own." I continue my silence, having expected the follow up insult which allows me to soften the blow.

"Bold words for someone who-" Jix begins but is immediately silenced by Kyun, who gives a subtle shake of the head toward the fairy.

"So this really is all you have to offer?" Mido continues his taunting, obviously growing irritated by the lack of response. "Can you not see that I am insulting you? Speak! Why do you not retaliate?"

"I do not need to." I say calmly.

"You believe you are better than me, yes?" Mido replies, his taunting sounding more like pouts now. "Others may have welcomed you, but I, the Great Mido shall never accept you as one of us! To me, you are nothing but the boy without a fairy!"

The final words are spoken in an indignant shout, and Mido rushes forward, teeth bared in ire and fist clinched so tight that the skin of his knuckles quickly changes to white from the pressure. Forced to avoid the ensuing punch, I quickly turn my body to the side shifting myself around the Kokiri's fist. The boy stumbles somewhat as his punch meets nothing but air, fighting to remain upright from the momentum. It is clear that he had expected the impact would allow him to maintain his balance. Upon recovering he turns toward me once again, his wrathful expression now accompanied by a look of surprise.

"How did you-"

His words fall short as he charges toward me once more. Closer now, I am unable to dodge his next attack and am forced to raise my arms to defend myself against the angered Kokiri's fists. A slew of punches rains down upon my guard, causing my arms to grow sore from the continuous impact. Mido, in a blind rage continues to attack, uncaring of where his blows may land, as he resumes his taunting.

"Just what have you been doing these last few months, Link?" He cries, mockingly. "I'd thought you may have at least toughened slightly during your absence!"

His attacks wane for a moment and I immediately take the opening, thrusting my left hand forward and grabbing Mido's wrist in mid-swing. He starts, surprised by the action and I immediately follow up, moving around behind him with his arm still in my grasp. The Kokiri 'leader' cries out in pain as his arm is bent up in an angle that would not normally be possible. Using my right hand, I thrust my palm forcefully into his back, releasing his arm as I do so and sending him stumbling forward. Having lost his momentum, the orange haired boy quickly falls to the ground, his knees and hands preventing his body's impact with the earth below. After a few moments he stands again and returns his gaze to me, shock and rage filling his walnut colored eyes.

He says nothing, deigning instead to attempt another attack, rushing forward in a similar fashion as his first attempt. This time however, I am ready for the assault. Shifting my stance, I quickly duck beneath his fist and shift myself to his left flank. My foot moves behind his own, and I plant my hand upon his chest, forcing him back. As I had planned, his heel catches my boot and causes him to stumble once again. I use the leverage to force him to the ground, my hand remaining upon the center of his chest.

The foul tempered Kokiri's eyes meet mine and he ceases to move, his rage fading as realizes his predicament. "So I was wrong… you have gotten stronger, Link." He says breathily.

Hearing the words, I remove my hand from the freckled boy's chest and step away, allowing him to pick himself up from the ground. Kyun and Jix look on from nearby, both wearing expressions of surprise though they are much slighter than Mido's own. Stumbling to maintain his balance after the jarring impact with the ground, Mido brushes his hands across his tunic, clearing the dust and grass from his clothing before looking back to me.

"Have you ever even considered why you hate me so strongly, Mido?" I ask calmly.

"I've already told you have I not?" Mido says scornfully. "You are not one of us, and you never will be."

"That is quite enough, Mido." A familiar, female voice says from just out of sight.

All at once the five of us, myself, the two Kokiri and their respective fairies, turn in the direction of the speaker; a girl who appears to be the same age as me, but who I know is in fact, much older. Her face is very childish and youthful despite her obvious aura of wisdom and maturity. Her blue eyes shine with vitality though her mouth is currently molded into an expression of displeasure as she gazes pointedly at Mido. The most distinguishing feature about her however must be her short, emerald green hair; a trait that is especially rare among the Kokiri and also serves to reveal her as being very receptive to the voices of Forest Spirits.

Her attire is almost entirely green; the tunic held firmly against her body through the use of a belt of sturdy green leather of similar quality to the brown variant but much rarer while the tunic itself is adorned with beautifully woven images of various plants and vines. Long sleeves and an extended neckline a few shades darker than her tunic protrude from beneath it due to the thick shirt she wears underneath. Her boots are of the same color and material as the belt around her waste, and unlike Mido's, are very clean and well kept. Upon her head of emerald hair rests a headband of an even darker viridian shade, fashioned like interwoven vines flowering at the ends; a symbol of her rank within Kokirian society.

A bright green, female fairy, shimmering with a power somewhat stronger than others of her ilk flutters idly next to the girl's head, her long, silvery wings beating gently. Her tiny arms are crossed in front of her chest and her expression mirrors that of her charge. Her attire too is slightly different than others of her kind, consisting of a top woven from not only leaves, but flowers as well which covers her chest while leaving her stomach exposed. Her legs are covered with a skirt of leaves which parts in the center, causing the lower portions to expand into curve-like shapes. Her ankles and wrists are adorned with bangles of thin, flowering tree bark, and the cerulean blossoms upon them appear to glow amidst her aura.

"Saria…" Mido gasps. "But I-"

"Do not make excuses for yourself. Saria grows weary of your constant mocking and belittling of our fellow Kokiri." Saria says sternly, but not forcefully, speaking in her typical third-person tone.

"But… he is not-"

"Must you always use such biting words, Mido?" Kyun says, finally recovering his voice and silencing Mido in the midst of his retort. "Link is as much a Kokiri as any of us; you are the only one who does not accept him as such."

"No Kyun." I say quietly, feeling the need to step in. "He is right."

"What?" Kyun asks, dumbfounded. "Of course he is wrong, Link. You were born here just like the rest of us and-"

"Please… you needn't shield me from the truth any longer." I say, shaking my head. "I know that I am not of Kokirian origin, but Hylian."

"But… when did Link discover this?" Saria asks, dropping the stern tone she held before and adopting a more regretful one.

I pause for a moment before replying. "The Great Deku Tree. He told me as much." It was technically not a lie, though I do not wish to explain the full nature of the revelation. "However, I suppose I knew it even before His enlightenment. The last Ritual was six years ago, and I could have been no older than six years old at the time. As the Ritual only takes place once every ten years, even a child – a child not of the Kokiri – could see that there are four years missing. It is a matter of simple math." I sigh and close my eyes. "The only explanation is that I was not born during the Ritual… and am therefore not of the race of Kokiri."

"Link…" Saria says gently, traces of sorrow in her voice.

I merely smile in response, doing my best to alleviate any negative feelings the Kokiri elder may have. "But it is just as well. I have come to accept my true origins, and it would be wrong of me to blame anyone for hiding my past from me. I know why it was done, and I do not regret anything about my life here."

"But it was still wrong of Mido to use your origin against you like he did." Jix says.

"That may be true, but the two of you should have followed the rules of the village rather than deciding matters on your own for something as sensitive as an audience with our guardian Deity." Saria's fairy, Cerilise explains. "All peoples within the forest do have the right to seek enlightenment from the Deku Tree, but to send a message of your intent without first confiding in the Guardian or Elder was rather disrespectful."

"Cerilise is right." Saria assents. "You should have made a request of Mido or Saria beforehand. If you had, then this entire conflict may not have even happened."

"We never meant-" Kyun begins but decides against speaking further, instead lowering his head in agreement. "No… I understand. I apologize for my behavior."

"I suppose we all could have acted in a more civil manner." I amend, bowing toward both Saria and Mido before continuing. "Please accept my apologies as well."

"Hmph… you two should apologize. I- ow!" Mido's sentence is promptly interrupted as Saria's elbow digs firmly into his hip.

"Mido mustn't forget that he acted out of turn as well." Saria says, rolling her eyes at him. "Unless Saria is mistaken it was you who instigated the fight. Mido could have acted more maturely himself."

Mido cringes noticeably before looking toward Kyun and then to myself. "Forgive me." His apology is grudging, but it is an apology nonetheless.

"Very well." Saria says, a smile now gracing her lips. "The horn for the evening meal should be sounding soon. Now that we have finished our business, we should prepare before we miss it."

The Kokirian Elder turns in the opposite direction, likely to return to her own home to do just as she had said. After a few steps however she stops and turns back to regard me.

"Oh yes, and Link." She says calmly. "Saria would like to speak with you during the meal if it is just as well?"

I smile in response to my old friend. "That would be fine. Very well."

With those words, Saria continues on, making her way along the dirt path, which circles about a small pond lying just before the entrance to the rift and disappears among the thick trees around the water's edge. Mido, Kyun, and I see her off before the former turns to the two of us. He simply stares for a moment before clicking his tongue in obvious distaste and turns to leave himself, taking the path opposite of the one Saria had chosen as Kavis follows suit. Upon his departure, Kyun sighs breathily, leaning up against a rather large stone, his hands resting behind his head.

"Saria truly is something to be admired, is she not?" He says with a tender smile.

Kyun has been quite fond of Saria for a very long time, and this has been cause for a good deal of rivalry between himself and Mido. The three of them were born very close together by Kokirian standards. They are all older Kokiri, Saria having been born first, followed by Mido and finally Kyun. The latter two have competed for her attention for some time, though Mido has always been more open than the hunter. It comes as no surprise to me that this still holds true. It was Saria and Kyun who raised me during my early years in this village. For as long as I can remember, Mido has always been rather envious of our connection and his lack of trust for anything non-Kokiri has only added to his resentment of me personally, and has fueled the animosity between himself and my old friend.

"You truly have not changed Kyun." I say with a grin. "I suppose I am correct in assuming that you've still not spoken to her?"

His eyes close as he shakes his head, confirming my question. "You are the only one I've told about how I feel. I simply cannot bring myself to speak with her about it, though I cannot explain why. It is as if every time the opportunity arises, the words just… fade away."

"It is not something that can easily be understood." I say sympathetically as my own feelings for Zelda come to mind. "Trust me… I know."

"So you, too, have become smitten with someone?" Kyun says. Often I would expect a quip or jest from the hunter should I admit something like this to him. However, this time is different, his own thoughts pushing away any sharp-witted remarks he may have otherwise made. "Who is she?"

I turn away, feeling a slight heat in my cheeks. "I… should not say."

"Now Link…" Kyun prods. "I trusted you with my secret. Would it not only be right for you to share yours with me?"

I sigh at that.

"Right you are, my friend." I acquiesce, feeling somewhat modest. I trust Kyun however, and if anyone could understand my own predicament it would certainly be him. "Her name… is Zelda Estelline Hyrule."

Kyun's ears perk up and he gives a long, drawn whistle in response. "Even here in the forest anyone would know the name of the crown princess of our neighboring kingdom. Hearing this makes me wonder about my own sentiments. If you can have such feelings for a princess then perhaps my own affections for Saria are not that odd after all." He grins. "You've come a long way from the child you used to be, Link. I never would have expected you to find another so soon. What is she like?"

"Well she… She is wonderful." I say fondly. "She is as intelligent as she is beautiful, but also somewhat timid and soft spoken. She is quite innocent at times, which only makes her seem all the more dignified. She knows so much that it is nearly impossible to hold a conversation with her and not learn something new. She is also very proficient with magic. In essence, she is everything one of the Water element should be and more, and at the same time she-" I stop myself, shaking my head. I do not wish to continue any further lest I reveal something of our past experiences and I certainly do not wish to worry Kyun with such things. "But I digress. I do know how it feels to have these affections for someone who is so obviously higher than yourself."

"It sounds about right." Kyun says, a somewhat facetious grin lining his face. "It seems we still have a few things in common… though you've become much too serious, Link.

"And you are still not serious enough, my friend." I retort with a slight chuckle as the brown haired Kokiri does the same.

"I cannot help but wonder though…" Kyun says, tilting his head skyward in thought. "You must have done something quite impressive to have had the opportunity to meet the princess – and to be so close to have developed feelings for her no less."

"You might say that." I say quietly, not wishing to speak of the matter to Kyun. At least not at this time.

"If you two are finished with your reminiscing, we should get moving." Jix says, flying out from the inside of the collar of Kyun's tunic where he'd retreated shortly after Saria and Mido had departed. "We're going to be late for the food otherwise."

"Heh. Very well then." Kyun says, glancing over at Jix as the orange fairy alights himself upon his charge's shoulder. "I suppose you'll be joining us, Link?"

I nod in response, grateful for the interruption, and quite pleased with the idea of dining with the rest of the village as I had during my days living among them.

"Why ever not?" I affirm with a slight grin.

In Kokirian custom, meals are always communal affairs and nearly everyone is meant to contribute in some way. Knowing this, I deign to offer some of the food given to me by Ilana the previous day to the spread, adding a few selections that some of the forest children have never even seen before. Living as close to nature as they do, the Kokiri possess none of the typical eating utensils and cutlery of other races, and so, with the exception of simple wooden bowls and plates to hold the less cleanly of dishes, everything is normally eaten with the hands. A group of three large half-logs cut from the trunks of ancient, long dead trees sits in the direct center of the village, serving as tables for the daily meals. Around the village's dining area, the still rooted stumps of these same trees are covered with all manner of foodstuffs, gathered by the Jirasved and Kinusved and prepared through the combined effort of the rest of the villagers.

Saria had invited me to sit near her to which I obliged, taking my place upon one of the unoccupied leaf mats next to her. Kyun stands nearby, speaking idly to a few other villagers and laughing amiably as he tells them the story of what had occurred not even an hour before. Kyun is by far one of the most charismatic of the villagers, and everyone enjoys his stories mainly because of the humorous way he tells them. Standing on the opposite side of the table, he waves a leg of the roasted Cucco I had provided dramatically about as he speaks.

"It was absolutely incredible. You should have seen the look on Mido's face!" He says, taking a bite of the meat before continuing his story, his words muffled slightly by the food. "Link simply stood there, looking at Mido while he uttered one insult after another. He was barely affected at all and you could see that Mido was getting irritable because of it. He kept demanding that Link say something, but all he said was 'I do not need to…'"

The final few words were accompanied by an imitation of my own voice. I hear Saria chuckle nearby and I glance over to see that she too was listening to the amicable hunter's tale.

"You mean to tell me that Link said this?" One Kokiri, another hunter whose name is Maru says, raising an eyebrow. "Our Link, who could never hurt fly, said this to Mido?"

"I am sure Mido did not take well to that…" says another, a girl whose name I do not know. "What happened after?"

"I know you will not believe me when I tell you this, but I swear it is the truth." Kyun says before elaborating on my scuffle with Mido to the others.

I shake my head as he does so, taking a small bite of my own meal; a thick stew of utele meat mixed with forest mushrooms and tubers from the wild onyu, which has been a long time favorite of mine. It is well that Mido seems to be absent from the meal as he would likely not take kindly to Kyun's story and may attempt to provoke HIM into a fight as well. Nevertheless it was indeed entertaining to watch as the brash hunter and his companion acted out the tale.

"Saria knows that Kyun has a penchant for exaggerating but I know what I saw." Saria says next to me. "Link has grown much stronger since he left… though Saria would have preferred to discover this a different way."

"I too wish things had happened differently." I say, closing my eyes humbly.

"We may not know much of the outside world, but Saria knows that it is not likely for one to change so drastically in such a short time." She states thoughtfully. "Though of course… there is a reason for that, is there not?"

"To what do you refer?" I ask, raising a brow.

"The other villagers believe that Link was sent into the outside world at the behest of the Deku Tree to bring knowledge of the lands beyond the forest. Many worried for your safety, having left so close to the coming of winter… but Saria knows otherwise." She says quietly, closing her eyes and lowering her head. "It was only the previous day that I discovered the truth from our father. He knew you would come and informed Saria beforehand."

I suppose I should not be at all surprised by Saria's knowledge. She was always rather intuitive due to her profound connection to the forest spirits, being the conduit between they, and the Kokiri themselves. It stands to reason that she too would be informed of the truth. Never the less I do feel some sense of trepidation, not wishing to reveal the truth to the others around us. Choosing not respond vocally, I instead focus my mind in order to form a telepathic connection that the many children feasting around us might not overhear our conversation.

'Might we speak like this? I do not wish to worry the others with the truth of the matter.' I say cautiously.

'The thought had crossed Saria's mind as well.' The once-Forest Sage agrees. 'Indeed, it would be safer to do so.'

'Tell me, Saria. How much did the Deku Tree reveal to you?' I inquire.

'He revealed the lost history. About the Demon-man known as Ganondorf Dragmire, and of His apparent death at his hands, as well as the task he gave Link before he perished… and of Saria's own role in the events that followed.' She explains. 'Saria assumes you must have succeeded somehow, as our own history is quite different from what he showed her. Though I may not remember the hardship we all faced personally, I knows it is the truth.'

'Indeed I – no, WE did.' I say, taking care to include the Sages and Zelda. 'However… it seems things are much more complicated than that. The princess, Zelda and I – or rather, all of us… we did far more than to simply seal away a terribly evil man… we altered past, present, and future as well. I am still unsure of what to make of it all… or where to go from here.'

'Link's memories and thoughts have clouded the road ahead for him, yes?' She says understandingly.

'Indeed. Though father Koboku's words have proven most insightful they have not provided a full solution to the confusion I feel. Indeed, they may have even added to it.' I say, closing my eyes in attempt to gather my thoughts. 'I know not what lies but a few steps in front of me, let alone what may lie at the end of this path. One thing is clear to me however… and that is that I cannot stay here. I must discover what lies at the end… no matter how long that may take.'

'Saria thought as much." The viridian haired girl says, somewhat sadly. 'However, even if Link is to leave the forest again soon, he will always be welcome here. One thing that has not changed with time is that everyone in the village, especially Kyun and myself still care for you.'

I smile in response to that, immensely grateful for how strongly my childhood friends wish to help me. 'Thank you, Saria. It truly means much to hear those words from you. Even if it may not aid me in uncovering the truth to all that has transpired, it is nevertheless, comforting. I only wish that I could share this with Zelda. I fear that her own struggle may be more difficult to bare than my own.'

'Ah, but she is not alone either.' Saria says with a smile.

Her words surprise me somewhat. I had expected a more understanding, or sympathetic response from the Kokirian elder. 'What do you mean?'

'Often times, the greatest support one can find comes from those who share their experiences, for those individuals know what it is to feel as they do.' Saria says sagely. 'And for the princess, that support comes from you.'

A familiar heat licks at my cheeks from the words she speaks, and I turn away to hide a slight blush. Thoughts begin to flood my mind of the wise, but innocent young royal, as well as the words I'd spoken to Kyun some time before regarding her. Despite her empathetic and sagely nature, it seems that Saria is still unaware of my true feelings for the young princess as well as the impact her statement holds.

Or… perhaps she is aware, and it is for that very reason that she chose to speak it.

'I suppose you are right at that.' I accede, abashed. 'But if I cannot find a way to answer my own questions then how can I possibly help her in finding answers to hers?'

'That is something that Link must discover for himself.' The Kokirian elder says gently, shaking her head.

I lower my eyes thoughtfully. 'I understand. Thank you Saria… for everything.'

'There is no need for thanks.' Saria says modestly. 'Saria is simply wishes to see her friend well… and she is proud to see how much Link has grown.'

'Nevertheless, you still have my gratitude.' I insist. 'Though, there is one favor I wish to ask.'

'Speak it.'

'Please… do not mention any of this to Kyun.' I request. 'He and you have been the closest of friends to me, and there is no doubt that I trust him, just… I do not wish to see him burdened with the truth. Not yet. I will reveal it to him when the time is right.'

Saria simply smiles in response and nods slowly. 'Saria understands. Then it shall be.'

I sigh thoughtfully, breaking the telepathic connection between myself and Saria. Despite everything, I feel rather content though the lingering thoughts of the recent events still leave me with many things unanswered. Attempting to push them from my mind for the time being, I focus on my meal and return my attention to Kyun as his tale comes to a close.

After nearly an hour, the meal was finally brought to an end and the villagers, with the exception of the few tasked with cleaning duties for the day, steadily left the communal dining area to tend to their own affairs. The sky had darkened somewhat as the evening hours drew on, and the air had grown quite moist in promise of the coming rain. Most activity is now centered around the last preparations before nightfall. I too had gone my own way, parting with both Saria and Kyun while they tended to other matters.

I'd taken the time to explore the village for what I believe will be the last time for a long while, reliving all of the memories that seem so distant to me now. Nieraki had not changed at all with the effects of the 'Temporal Reverse' as the Deku Tree had called it, so ageless is the wood that sustains it. The shadow from one of the long, narrow bridges passes overhead as I walk along the path of dirt and gravel, the same bridge which extends between the Lost Woods' entrance, to a small hot spring nestled within the rocks on the opposite end of the village which the children use to bathe. The bridge in question passes directly over Saria's house, and serves as an additional landmark heralding my destination.

The path slopes down as I turn the corner, revealing a small winding road leading to a house somewhat different from the rest. The home is crafted within a fully formed tree, quite unlike the large stumps in which many Kokirian homes are made, and there is no ground level entrance. Instead, a small latter of orefir wood leads to a raised platform a number of meters above the ground, and it is there that an opening barely large enough for an adult to fit through can be seen, covered by a thin sheet of tanned hide which functions as a doorway.

It is my old home… the very place where I lived out my early childhood years in this village. I slowly approach the humble structure, feeling unnecessarily disquiet as the memories, one by one, begin to flow back into my mind. As I draw closer a sight catches my eye upon the trunk of my former abode. A small, childish drawing is etched upon the bark of the tree, depicting myself, sword in hand as well as Saria and Kyun baring both magic and bow respectively against a beast resembling a dragon. I run my fingers over the grooves, remembering the simpler days when I thought of myself as merely another Kokiri.

"Saria remembers this." Says the voice of the afore mentioned. "We drew this when Link was very young."

"Those were simpler times back then." I say reminiscently.

Hearing no reply, I turn around to see Saria standing a few paces away from me while Cerelise hovers next to her. Both Kokiri and fairy have a decidedly solemn aura about them, and I notice Saria's fingers clenching tighter around a small object she holds in her left hand. Her head is turned down, and I cannot see the expression on her face, but I can tell that whatever she found me to say is of some import… and that it is a very sensitive matter as well.

"Saria… give it to him." Cerelise says in a gentle tone, landing on her charge's shoulder. "It was her last wish… we must honor it."

Saria looks over at the small, green fairy and it is only now that I can see the look of sadness on her face. She nods slowly and attempts to hide the sorrowful look behind a faux smile.

"Saria?" I ask, as she slowly approaches me, concerned by her uncharacteristic demeanor.

"Saria always knew this day would come. Always… though she dreaded when it finally would." She says meekly. "Because that would be the day that she would be forced to accept Link for whom he truly is… as a Hylian and not one of the Forest children. But now that time has come, and Saria must honor the final request… of the one who left Link in our care."

My eyes widen and I gasp at the Kokiri elder's words. Could she truly be referring to who I believe she is? Her fingers, shaky from her own emotions slowly open to reveal the item that she held.

It is a small, nondescript ring, its quaint, flat band made of pure silver and the stone, while a decent size is no more than a common amethyst. Despite its simplistic nature, I can feel the importance of this ring. Every shine of the silver, and each glint from the violet stone seems to reflect a memory that lies just out of my reach. The face of a woman, both beautiful and caring whose name I do not know slowly forms in my mind, obscure at first, but steadily growing more vivid… and then, just before the image fully manifests itself within my mind, it vanishes all at once, leaving me to wonder. Being unable to recall the image, I raise a shaky hand and take the ring within my grasp, looking over it carefully as the identity of this mysterious woman becomes abundantly clear to me.

"Mother…" I gasp, attempting to fight back a stream of tears and failing to do so as the warm liquid streams down my face.

"Before she perished, she requested that Saria would entrust her ring to Link when he finally discovered who he was." Saria said sadly. "But over the years you have lived among us, Saria eventually had come to regard Link as her own child… and so she always dreaded the day this would inevitably happen. We never received her name. That ring is all she left to us… and now it belongs to her son."

"She… left it for me? Knowing that I would discover the truth one day?" I ask, my voice hushed from the emotion welling inside me.

"It was fated to happen one day, and she knew this." Saria explains gently. "Saria only knew her for a few moments, but even in that short time she knew that Link's mother cared deeply for her son… enough to give her own life that Link might live. It was her solemn wish that Kyun and I would make sure that you lived a happy life here, for it was we who found her, and guided her to our father." She paused for a moment, lowering her eyes, which have begun to glisten with tears. "Have we … succeeded?"

My mind immediately snaps back into focus as I hear the words the young Kokiri elder speaks. "Saria… I said before that every moment I have lived here among the rest of the children has left me with no regrets. I may no longer be able to live within this sacred forest, but I will always treasure my days growing up here. If that is what… my mother wished for me; to live a happy life until the day I would learn the truth… then yes. You have succeeded and more."

"Link…" Saria gasps, breaking down in tears.

With a single quick motion, she steps swiftly forward, wrapping her arms around my waist in a tight embrace, like a mother holding her child for the last time. I stagger slightly from the impact, but maintain my balance, returning her embrace with my own. Her head buries into my chest as she sobs quietly against me. I clutch the ring in my hand in order to avoid dropping it, and it is only now that I realize how much taller I am compared to her. Indeed, even had I not suspected my true origins some years ago, or even had the Deku Tree not enlightened me to the truth, I would still be unable to deny the steady growth and aging that my body has begun to show. Even the most naïve of child would not be able to ignore this when faced with the fact that any true Kokiri never ages past childhood.

"Thank you again Saria… for everything." I say, repeating my words from before in an effort to console the green haired girl. "Even if fate sees us walk down different roads, our friendship is still just as strong."

"He is right Saria." Cerelise says, doing what she can to help console her charge. "Please do not cry. This does not mean you will never see one another again."

"Saria knows… but it is simply so hard to see this." She says through quieting sobs. "Is this what she must have felt when she entrusted Link to our care? Is this what a mother feels when she looses a child?"

I pause for a moment, considering her words. I have seen much death during my journey through the darkness that plagued Hyrule. I have seen families torn asunder and parents who were forced to bury their children when their fragile lives were stripped away by the unforgiving conditions and the monsters who walked the land… and I have seen children orphaned when their parents suffered a similar fate. However, even through all of this, I cannot fathom what it must feel like for a parent to loose their child. Such things must be beyond the understanding of those who have never experienced the bond a parent has with their young ones. I cannot answer Saria's question, though I assume that she had not in fact, expected me to. Nevertheless, while I may not know of any such parental bonds a thought crosses my mind almost immediately after the consideration.

"Might I offer a suggestion, Saria?" I ask with a smile. "Though you may no longer be able to act as a mother to me… why not a friend? Or perhaps even a sister?"

The forest sage's sobs quiet even further, and she looks up at me, her eyes still glistening slightly with tears. "What…?"

"I've discovered that there are bonds that run just as deep as the connection between a parent and child. The Gorons hold a tradition of adopting those who have proven their merit into their family as what they call 'Sworn Brethren' even if they are not of their race." I explain, remembering my own experience with the friendly race of golems. "What is to stop others from forming such a bond?"

"What a wonderful idea." Cerelise says. "After all, all things in life are connected through the blessings of the Divines and the Elements. It would do the forest a great honor for this connection to be acknowledged. That is what I believe."

Saria's expression slowly changes from one of confusion, to one of joy as the idea slowly dawns on her and a smile slowly spreads across her lips. "If this is true then… would it be alright if Saria now called you her Spirit Brother?"

"Yes, good!" I say, showing a smile of my own. "And you shall be my Spirit Sister."

Saria smiles and opens her mouth to respond, but a voice from nearby silences any reply she might have wished to make.

"Well now… are we not forgetting someone?" It says, the voice all too familiar to us.

As our embrace breaks, Saria and I turn in the direction of the voice, seeing Kyun perched within the boughs of a small tree nearby, Jix flitting about excitedly next to him. With a single, agile motion, he leaps down from the tree, landing nimbly in the grass a few paces away from us. Smirking casually, he stands up, approaching us slowly and calmly.

"I promised Saria that I would allow her to speak to you alone when the time came, but hearing what I just heard, I cannot merely sit and watch." Kyun says, his expression shifting to one of mock hurt. "Saria, Link… I am absolutely mortified that you would forget to include me."

"You should have seen him up there. He was nearly about to start crying when he heard what was being said." Jix says with a chuckle, eliciting a death glare from his charge.

"Kyun…" Saria says with a sigh. "I am sorry. I simply-"

"Worry not. It was but a joke. I am not offended." Kyun says, waving off the apology. "Though… you do plan to include me, yes?"

I grin at the hunter's words, and glance over toward Saria. The Kokirian elder smiles and nods in silent agreement. Seeing the gesture I turn back to Kyun, my grin widening even further.

"Why, yes. We could not very well call it complete otherwise." I say.

At that moment a low rumble sounds overhead and a light drop of water falls upon my shoulder. Another falls soon after and then more as the skies finally begin to spill their contents even as our conversation comes to a close. It is almost as if they had waited to do so, graciously granting us the time necessary to speak. Grinning calmly, I carefully slip the ring onto the fourth finger of my right hand, taking one last moment to glance at it before turning to the others.

"We should take shelter until the storm subsides." I say as the frequency of the raindrops increases further. "I suppose one more night within my old home would not go amiss."

"Well, if that is the case, might you have room to offer us?" Kyun says.

"Surely you wouldn't have us stay out in the pouring rain would you?" Jix says, though his wide grin shows him to be anything but serious.

"Kyun, Jix…" Saria says, shaking her head in disapproval.

I chuckle slightly, feeling relieved at the newly lighthearted air. "But of course. I insist."

Hearing my words, Saria ceases her disapproving façade and, instead grins widely, obviously looking forward to the idea of a final night together. I turn away, beckoning for the two Kokiri to follow and begin my climb up the ladder leading to the entrance of my house. The footfalls from just beneath me serve to tell me of the two's acceptance of my invitation and as one, we quickly ascend, eager to reach the shelter of my home, and safety from the rapidly growing storm.

Ah, me and my chapter splitting ways… for shame for shame. In any case I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. I wanted to get a little bit into how the Kokiri live, as well as fleshing out Link's relationship with Saria and Kyun a little more. At the same time, I figured this would be a perfect time to reference his mother and to learn a little bit more about her. I hope I detailed these well enough because I don't really know how well I did with it.

I can say however, that I'm actually somewhat ahead with the story. Both Chapter IX and the Bridge are complete, and so you should be getting another upload sooner than normal. Be prepared though… chapter IX is going to be titanic in length, even for me.

So now, on to a few small points. As always more in depth information can be found on the site once I update it.

1. I decided to do something sort of different with the Kokiri's naming system. Their names are structured in reverse. The surname comes first while the given or 'first' name comes last.

2. I wanted to portray Mido as a rather childish, short tempered, and immature character. Essentially, he's the typical bully.

3. I always found the way Saria occasionally lapses into third person speech in Ocarina of Time to be rather intriguing and decided to make that method of speaking an eccentricity of hers.

4. Not sure how well the conversation with Link and Kyun fit in with the rest of the chapter, but I wanted to make a point that the two are quite similar in many ways and greatly trust one another. Link would not idly reveal his affections for the princess to just anyone, and he's smart enough to know that, due to the Kokiri's isolation from the rest of the world, there isn't exactly a way that Kyun COULD reveal his secret to all of Hyrule even if he wanted to.

5. I've always been fond of characters possessing 'heirlooms' such as the ring Link received from Saria. I think it does well to show the connection between them and the loved ones who have passed on.

With that, another chapter has been completed. I must say, I was worried about how well this chapter would work out, but for the most part I can say that I am rather happy with it. I hope you all enjoyed it.

The positive feedback and constructive criticism I've received thus far is the reason I've stuck to this for so long. Please, continue to share your thoughts so that I might continue to find that same inspiration.