Note: I'm currently going back and revising the story from the beginning while posting new chapters. It needs it desperately. I also plan on deleting author notes and "Replies to Anonymous Reviewers" responses from the first two arcs as I revise (Clock Town prologue's and Woodfall's). I will keep them all in a document on my computer, just because, but a word of warning to those who are strange like me and want to save them before they're gone!
Chapter 49: Great Bay Temple
The ocean breeze was strong in his face. Sea foam filled the sky as it whipped soothingly through his hair, the world around him alive. The sun shone brilliantly and reflected off of the blue-green surface of the shimmering water. Their vessel sped through it, a bullet cutting through the water and sending waves in both directions. The palm trees were strong enough to withstand the speed, only slightly bending. Their thick wooden trunks were planted firmly into the grassy surface of the turtle's shell.
Link clung to one of the palm trees, smiling as the ocean breeze, sun, and sound of the ocean made him momentarily forget the death and darkness. At first, he'd been surprised by how fast the turtle traveled, the fins slowly gaining momentum until they were speeding through the water. He knew letting go of the palm tree would send him hurdling off the shell. Thankfully, its thick surface was easy to cling to, as long as he wrapped his arms all the way around it. The spray of the water hardly did enough to make the trunk too slick.
Tatl clung to Link's tunic, the wind pressing her against his chest. She'd initially tried sitting in the bag, but it pulled tightly against Link's shoulder, threatening to slip off and disappear into the water. While Link was certain the bag was fine, waving around in the wind had still not made his fairy comfortable. Evan remained behind them, clinging to the second palm tree and staring intently on what lay ahead of them.
"How do you feel about our new companion?" Tatl asked, speaking loudly over the roaring ocean, but soft enough to avoid the Zora's ears.
"He seems protective of his people," Link answered, not turning to look himself. "I'm not sure what else to say, though. He was helpful when I was trying to find Lulu's eggs."
"No, I mean, for fighting and stuff. Do you think he stands a chance?"
Link considered, glancing at the dark cloud they were approaching. It wasn't far now, the island or building hidden within the swirling black curse. "I don't know. I'm not going to let anything kill him."
"It might not even be monsters we have to worry about." Link didn't understand, glancing down at the fairy for an explanation. "He keeps having really bad chest pain. Honestly, I think he'll keel over and have a heart attack before anything else." The boy did turn to see the Zora this time. Evan didn't seem to notice, staring ahead at the fast approaching temple as the water hit his face. He stared intently, though his arms were wrapped around the palm tree, one hand clutching almost absent-mindedly at his chest.
"That happened the first time we spoke." Link hadn't thought much about it then, but if it was a recurring incident, then maybe Tatl was right.
"It happened when you ran into Zora Hall after your mask fell off. Maybe if you played your song of healing you'd alleviate his chest pain." Link turned back to Tatl at that remark to see her smiling sarcastically at him. The boy shook his head. "You know, you look a lot less ridiculous without a long, green, pointy hat on your head."
"I feel naked, though," Link replied. "All the male Kokiri in Hyrule had one."
"Kokiri? I think you might have mentioned that before, but I forget. That's what you pretended to be – right? A fairy boy?"
"I didn't pretend. I thought I was one. My mom brought me to the forest because she was dying, and the forest people raised me as one of them."
"I remember now. Would you consider getting a new hat? If you never found the old one?"
"I'd have to," Link replied. "Even if our theory is right – that people and objects from outside of Termina travel back in time with us, regardless of whether or not I'm touching them – my hat was probably obliterated when the moon fell."
The fairy nodded her head. "Something to look forward to, I suppose. For now, we have another temple. Yay."
The dark cloud would be upon them in moments. The sun suddenly didn't seem as bright as they began to approach the curse, the sea breeze losing its sense of joy. Link gripped the tree harder as Tatl clutched her fingers tighter against his tunic. The boy knew the fairy was thinking the same exact thing: would it be possible to pass through it unharmed? Link turned to see Evan looking just as resolute as ever. The Zora noticed the boy peering back at him that time, however, Link turning away as soon as he was discovered.
The turtle continued moving its fins slowly, capable of maintaining its speed with minimal effort. Link watched as it bent its great head down before them, preparing to enter the dark cloud. It swirled around violently, threatening to tear apart any who approached it. Link brought his head down as well, the sky darkening. As soon as they passed into the darkness, the cloud stung his eyes.
Link closed them, drawing himself tighter against the tree as the dark wind savagely tore at him. He felt Tatl struggling to hold on, pressing his chest firmly against the tree in an effort to prevent her from blowing away. He swung his bag around in front too, relying entirely on this one plant to prevent himself from being flung from the back of the turtle. He wondered how Evan was fairing, but had no way to find out, keeping his eyes closed and holding on as his skin stung.
Eventually, the darkness began to fade, but the light it gave way to was not the light of the outside world. Link let go of the tree and took a step backward, the turtle having slowed down. The fairy flew off of his chest and looked around herself, the two still overcoming the wrath of the Skull Kid's curse. The room appeared to be a very small harbor. The room, while large itself, had only one bay for a vessel to pull into. It was entirely made of metal, the entire place dark and box-shaped. Link turned to see the open doorway they'd come through, the dark storm still swirling madly and blocking a view of the sea.
His eyes also caught Evan, who let go of the palm tree himself and began to take in his surroundings. The turtle came to a stop right at the edge of the walkway, the water around him crashing up, but not high enough to spill over onto the harbor's floor. The turtle lowered its head so its face just barely missed the edge of the platform, and Link began to carefully make his way down the neck, followed by Evan.
The three of them, once safely on the the metal floor, turned to the turtle who slowly raised his head. His great black eyes blinked, looking at the three of them below him. "The magic here is dark. But time is short, and I sense that you bring magic here that is darker still." Link's stomach churned, his mind returning to the dark curse he harbored within his chest. "Good luck. May the gods be with you." The turtle then turned and moved his great fins to send him back in the storm, the violent cloud obscuring him from sight.
Link, Tatl, and Evan exchanged glances, the storm continuing to wail as two torches crackled with life not far from them. "How are we planning on getting out?" Evan asked, looking somewhat lost after the turtle that had abandoned them.
"Quite conveniently, once we slay the monster in a temple, the mask they leave behind teleports us out." The fairy stopped, turning to Link. "At least, I'm assuming that's what happened in Snowhead too?" Link nodded his head. "Right. So, we'll be banking on that again. Otherwise, I guess you guys will have to hope that storm goes away so we can swim out of here."
Evan, his curiosity only appearing somewhat abated, turned to face them. "You guys have done this many times before, I take it?"
"Oh, Link's a pro," Tatl replied. "This is only his third temple here, but in Hyrule, he went through... eh... how many, exactly?"
"Five," Link answered. "Although, I like to count the three places I went to before I started traveling through time as well."
"Hyrule? Time travel?" Evan's face expressed confusion, but Link was surprised at how calmly he seemed to be taking it. "It seems you guys have a lot to catch me up on."
"Oh, it's going to take more than two days to fill you in on everything," the fairy said, nodding her head vigorously. "We've had all sorts of loonies after us since we've been here."
"Hopefully I don't end up being one of those," Evan said calmly, smiling. "Shall we move on?"
"Of course," Tatl said, gesturing Link forward. "Lead the way, Hero of Time."
Link returned her smile, stepping towards the door at the end of the room. It was a dark blue one that seemed to glow, lacking a handle but aesthetically pleasing nonetheless. The boy noticed water dripping from the ceiling of the temple, falling occasionally onto the hard floor. The sound of his boots bounced off the metal, the room giving off a bluish glow.
"Sooo Evan," the fairy began nonchalantly. Link smiled fainty even though his back was to them, listening to their conversation.
"You don't have any... medical conditions we should know about, do you? Like, I don't know, reoccurring pain in one area... that might be relevant to us, on our journey. Given how physically demanding it is." The Zora didn't seem to understand. "We would've asked you to fill out a health information form, but Link left them at the office."
Evan considered, as Link stopped at the door, pressing it inward and beginning to slide it upwards. It was lighter than most other temple doors, so Link effortlessly raised it as he listened to the conversation behind him.
"I used to get headaches when I was younger," Evan responded.
"Right. Headaches. When you were younger. Good to know."
"Otherwise, I'm pretty healthy."
"You feel capable of performing all tasks you go about... performing. On a daily basis?"
"Yes?" Evan posed it almost as a question.
"Fantastic. We should have nothing to worry about then. … Whoa! That's a huge waterwheel!"
The next room was enormous, the sounds of clanking machinery even louder than those within the clock tower. Part of that was own to the fact that the gears were made of metal. The three of them walked out onto a metal platform with ramps leading off of it up and around the room. Below them was water, two long pipes – one red and one yellow – running through the room as well. They opened up at one point to let two powerful jets of water shoot several feet into the air. One such jet was turning a metal wheel, the energy this created following a turning pole that lead outside of the room.
Link, Tatl, and Evan looked on it all in awe. The water shimmered from the light of the torches lighting the room, the entire place smelling dank. The sound of rushing water and turning metal wheels filled it, making them all feel like they had entered a great factory. The boy and his fairy took it all in, while the Zora quickly recovered from his astonishment, Link noted.
"How many times have you been here before?" the fairy asked.
"What kept bringing you here?"
"Paying homage to our god."
Link turned back to look at the room for a moment longer, deciding it didn't look very spiritual or sacred. "This is a strange temple." The boy began to follow the walkway upward, it curving to the right before going up to a second story. The metal bridge was slick, water seeming to spray all around them. They quickly became damp as they went, observing the many pipes and bursts of water. Tatl lingered on the waterwheel, watching it turn inquisitively.
Eventually, they were in line with the door, walking underneath the turning pole that lead into the other room. There was no door, the three passing through the open entrance into the next room. It was far more massive. It was large and circular, the roof high above them and the floor submerged in a pit of water. A thin, narrow bridge lead from the ledge they stood on to a door across the room. A massive machine, connected to the turning pole form the first room, rotated underneath the water. Powerful, brown fins spun through the water, causing a strong current to exist in a counter-clockwise direction. The machine was far nosier than the machinery in the previous room, appearing to accomplish only creating the current.
"Hmm, I get it," Tatl said after a moment's examination. "That huge waterwheel is powering this thing."
"Yeah, but why?"
"It's a trial." Link and Tatl both turned to Evan. "But it's not something we do anymore. Years ago, all of the young, brave Zoras would come here and try to make it to the chamber at the end. Those who did, were deemed Zoran heroes."
"Like Mikau?" Link inquired. He remembered the bandleader telling him that Mikau had the blood of Zoran heroes in his veins.
"No," Evan replied. "He was a descendant of famous heroes who had passed these trials. He had the potential... but heroes weren't necessary anymore."
"Seems to me you guys were wrong about that," Tatl said, turning back to look at the massive machine. "And it also looks like we can't just cross the room and continue on. Naturally." She was right. The door on the other end could only be reached by a metal ladder, and a powerful waterfall poured from the ceiling on top of it. Any attempt to climb it would injure whomever tried.
"We dive in," Evan said, walking up to the ledge. He looked down into the water with a faint smile on his face.
"What?!" Tatl exclaimed. "You'll probably get sliced up by those turning fins. And that current's so strong. Not all of us can swim, anyhow..."
The bandleader looked back to Link and Tatl. "You can wait behind, then. There's no other way to move forward through the temple."
"We can't just leave her here," Link rebutted.
"Then I suppose we could just stand here."
Tatl scoffed. "No need to get sassy, Mr. Bandleader. We'll figure... something out."
"You could always try to do what the eggs did. And ride sealed away in my human form." Tatl's stomach lurched at that, looking to see that Evan was simply watching the two. He doesn't seem all that confused by this talk of human forms and stuff. This guy is weird. "The eggs were fine when I took my mask back off," Link added, when she didn't respond.
"Yeah. We can do that," the fairy replied a little uncertainly. "I'm sure it'll be fine."
Link gave her half of a smile as he removed a bottle from his bag and took the cork out. "Ready to get shoved in a bottle? Just like old times," he said, smiling at the glass container.
"You mean the time you shoved me in one, or the time the mask salesman did?"
Link didn't take the joke the way she'd thought he would. His smile faded, but he held out the bottle nonetheless, restraining himself from commenting on what she'd said. Evan's face was stone. "All right. This time, I'll fly myself in." She did just that, and Link corked the bottle, placing it back into his bag as he took out the Zora mask.
"It's going to be fine, Tatl," Link reassured her as he put her away, looking instead at Mikau's face.
"You can transform whenever you want to?" Evan asked.
He turned to the bandleader. "Yes." He paused. "It doesn't feel any weirder ethically the more I do it... using someone's deceased body to create my own unique member of their species. I'd never be able to make it through these temples otherwise, though."
Evan looked away. "I imagine that would be difficult."
"You were really close to Mikau?"
Evan kept staring at the water. "Yeah."
Link felt Tatl stir persistently in her bottle, capturing his attention. "We should get started." The boy placed the mask over his face, and then he was a Zora. His bag vanished, along with his fairy. The Zora with the long green head and the one without looked at one another. "After you." Evan dived gracefully in, and Mikau followed.
The current instantly grabbed ahold of them both.
Link was pulled downward and to the left. The current was stronger than he'd anticipated, and he tried to steady himself in the water. However, the speed of the turning mechanism wouldn't allow it. Link was sucked into the spiral, his attempts to free himself futile. He spun in circles, each attempt to pull himself against the current merely flinging him around like a piece of paper. In the spinning madness, Link saw Evan having a similar struggle. His mouth was shut and his cheeks held the last of his air with growing difficulty, as he was tossed to and fro.
Then, the burning fear that he was going to drown abated. I'm a Zora. He took in a deep gulp of water, deciding to angle his body into the current, and went with it rather than against. Evan seemed to be making the same realizations, the two eventually bulleting through to ride the current around. He wondered why it had taken Evan so long to make the same conclusion. I have an excuse, at least. His instinct to hold his breath while under the water was hard to kill.
When he turned back, his face was hardly an inch from the heavy, metal fin. Link darted away, the hard surface merely clipping his side. The wound stung bitterly, Link continuing to back away from the propellers as he checked the sore skin. No blood had been drawn, and he kept following the current afterwards, Evan hardly seeming to have noticed what had happened. "Watch where you're going," the Zora stated, half paying attention.
Link didn't respond, embarrassed as he noted how large this underwater chamber was. There were passageways leading out built into the walls, the current wheeling both Zoras around in a never ending circle past the many different exits. He looked to Evan, his instincts causing him to forget he could speak at first. "Should we take one of the exits?" He loved the sound of his aquatic voice so much better under the water.
Evan didn't have an answer, so Link chose one for himself. As his Zora body gracefully danced with the turning water, he smoothly passed into the next hallway, and Evan followed. It was narrow, but the strong current still pushed him forward, giving him little reprieve if he didn't follow its many twists and turns. Bright green and red pipes followed along the walls on either side, however, making it easier to see in the dark passage.
It wasn't long at all before he shot out the mouth of the hallway into a bigger room. The current was gone, and Link straightened himself in the next underwater chamber. It was a confusing tangle of pipes and undersides of platforms, the boy quickly resolving to break for the surface. Sharp pain in his arm turned him away from that, however.
A fish, with sharp, bony teeth had opened its jaws and sank them into his leathery flesh. Link hissed, flinging his arm violently in the other direction. The fish remained latched on, small trails of blood seeping out around its mouth. Its bright orange eyes looked outward stupidly as it clung to its meal. Link grabbed it with his other hand, but he was surprised when the fish easily came apart with little pressure.
He released the fish only to find it floating away lifeless, only a small, floating cloud of fish bones remaining. Link was confused, but he turned to the sound of Evan in trouble as well. To his misfortune, two fishes had bitten him, one on each arm. That was when Link made the realization: these were animated fish skeletons. All they were was bones. They're eyes glowed brightly and their teeth gnashed nastily, regardless of their lack of flesh.
Link, noticing that Evan didn't seem any more capable of handling them, backed away through the water and aimed his fins. They spun like sharp boomerangs, each one meeting a skeletal fish and ripping it to shreds. The fins glided through the water back into his arms, and Evan looked to him, relieved and out of breath as the bones drifted away. Both of their arms snaked small trails of blood into the water.
"Thanks," Evan said, slightly out of breath. "I didn't even see them coming."
"Me neither," Link agreed. He turned, but didn't see anymore attackers. "Let's go up to the surface." Both Zoras swam to the top, breaking the water and climbing up onto one of the ledges. The ledges were scattered throughout on top of the water in the long, narrow room. A door was on one end, but there was no other way out. He helped Evan up out of the water beside him, the Zora seemingly in awe at the bite marks on his arm. Link was confused by this, backing away from him once he helped him out of the water.
"It should be fine," Link said uncertainly. He thought about all of the injuries he'd sustained, even since Termina, and knew this one was the equivalent of a puff of wind in comparison. "It stings a little, but they were just bones, so I don't think it'll get corrupted."
Evan didn't respond, and it was then that Link realized he didn't seem worried. The Zora instead looked fascinated, as if it was the first time he had ever suffered an injury and wasn't sure how it worked. "Zora flesh heals really quickly," he commented, absently.
"Yeah," Link responded, looking to his own arm. The marks were still there, but the clam from the pirates' fish tank had left no scar. Its sharp cut had been gone by that night. "So they should be better in no time."
"Right," Evan said, lowering his arm and nodding his head. His black eyes met Link's, and for a moment the two of them simply stood there, dripping wet. "... Your fairy?" Evan's comment reminded Link, and he went to the bag that wasn't there.
Oh. Link removed the mask, and he was a boy again. He hardly noted Evan's smile at his transformation as he opened the bag and pulled out the bottle. When he removed the cork, Tatl flew out dazedly. The fairy half-heartedly stretched her wings, floating as she looked around confusedly. Her eyes blinked heavily, and Link felt his insides lurching uncomfortably.
"Are you okay?" he asked, dark blue eyes glowing in concern.
"Yeah," Tatl said distantly. She looked to Evan for a moment and blinked once, before turning back to Link. "I'm fine."
"Where'd you go?" Link inquired, beginning to smile at her dubious condition when he decided his fairy was unharmed.
"I... I didn't go anywhere," the fairy responded. "I was in your bag, and suddenly I was waking up, and now I'm here. It's like I was asleep."
"So you lost consciousness?" Evan put in.
"Yeah," the fairy said, deciding she liked the answer as she nodded her head. "It's like you put the mask on and took it right back off, except my mind's all foggy and stuff. How long was I in there?"
"Maybe two minutes, if that," Link said, still smiling. "We jumped into the water and followed the current through a tunnel and came here."
"Fascinating," Tatl replied sarcastically. Her eyes lingered on Link for a moment, however, when she saw him smiling at her. "What are you smiling at, fairy boy? I haven't been eating mushrooms or anything. Fading away into a black hole really does a number on you."
"I'm sure," Link said, turning away. Evan was merely standing there, and the boy decided this was a hint that they should be moving on. "Do you know where we are?"
"No," the Zora replied, looking around the room. "I've never been in here before."
"Well, I guess it's time to go exploring, then."
The cloud of darkness was growing on the horizon.
Yes, she thought to herself. You may have stolen my eggs and killed my sisters, but I will slit your throat while your back's turned.
Aveil liked the feeling of the ocean breeze and the sun on her dark skin, but her focus was unrelentingly set on the temple in the distance. She had four other pirates in the boat with her, each with paddles in hand and sending them slowly through the water. She held her scimitars firmly, her bow safely attached to her back along with a bundle of arrows. She currently stood, liking to lead her people from above rather than from a sitting position.
But it hurts so bad. Aveil's hands went to the place where the boy had stabbed her. He'd left her in the hallway for dead; he'd left her for the shadow. But the gods had other plans for me, it seems. "Aveil, you should sit down." The leader's eyes turned to the only one of them garbed in white. She spoke in between long, hard strokes of the oars, but she looked concerned at the way her leader was gingerly touching her wounds. There were bandages at her sides, but they were no where close to completely healing. She'd urged them onward, desperate to beat the boy or else sabotage him if he came before them. "Save your energy for the temple."
"Quiet," Aveil stated sharply. She hated when those beneath her tried to command her. She ran the fortress, and no one else. "I know what I'm doing." Upon further reflection, however, she did decide to sit down, but knew her attendant wouldn't say anything about her change of heart. She knows better than that.
The dark, stormy cloud was growing closer. It was ominous, obscuring Great Bay Temple from view as it swirled above the beautiful, pristine sea. "Do you think the skull child will be mad at us?" the assistant asked.
The skull child doesn't realize who he's dealing with. "We do not answer to him. We stole the eggs from Lulu, like he asked, but he never came back." She decided not to bring up that they had dropped some of them over Pinnacle Rock. "If he comes asking for half of the treasure after we've found it, then so be it. But if he doesn't... then it's all ours."
The storm grew louder as they grew closer. "Aveil... should we keep going?"
"Yes." She would not allow a simple cloud to end their pursuit. They would pass through it, and keep going steadily. As long as they rowed hard enough, they would be fine.
"Are you sure?"
"Did I stammer? Keep going." Inside, however, she couldn't help but feel a little nervous. The sound of the rowing was beginning to get blocked out by the growing cloud before them, the world appearing to darken as the ball of madness soon took up all of their peripheral vision. She could feel the wind picking up, much different from the sea breeze. It held a darkness.
"Straight ahead," the leader said firmly. Please. After losing the lives of so many, after their tower had been burnt to the ground, after their loot had been stolen... the pirates of Great Bay could not suffer another humiliating defeat. They simply could not. No one would ever look at us the same way again. It was not her intent for her prestigious organization to turn into a laughing stock.
The boat began to shake. Aveil dropped her swords and clung to either side of the boat firmly.
"It's okay," the leader said, changing her tone at the sound of her fellow pirates' fear. "Trust me."
"It's going to blow us away," spoke one of the other nearby pirates in purple.
"Silence! Don't look away!" Aveil shouted. The sound of the wind grew louder, and the boat continued to rock harder. Why doesn't she keep rowing? This one stopped before the others, and looked up at the dark cloud with shining eyes as if she was a baby. "Don't stop, or it'll..."
"Aveil!" The moment the dark cloud engulfed them, everything disappeared from view. The boat lurched violently in the direction the wind was blowing, and then they were ripped from the water. The boat was turning drastically in the air, as if it were merely a plank of wood. Aveil found her grip on the boat did nothing to help her; her arms were torn from it and then she was spinning.
Everything was madness. Her stomach lurched painfully as all she knew was spinning. The water grew farther and farther away, the boat and her sisters soon becoming the only other recognizable objects in the cloud of darkness. Soon, even that was robbed of her, her sisters spinning away along with their vessel. She screamed, and they screamed, but none of it did any good.
Aveil closed her eyes as she wailed, unable to think as she was madly swung around like a rag doll. Soon, her screams were the only ones left. The others had been lost, swallowed whole by the monstrous curse. "Noooo!" Aveil yelled. She tossed and turned, her neck snapping around constantly and twisting uncomfortably.
She crashed into the water. She didn't remember descending, but it had all been a blurry chaos of dark clouds. The shock of the cold water and force behind its impact knocked her dazedly. Her head rung and her body was stiff as she began to sink slowly under the water, her mind numb and her skin red hot and swore. Her mouth opened slightly and water began to rush in, her eyes hardly noticing the metal room she appeared to have entered.
Aveil gasped, choking on the water as her body sank. The pirate desperately flung herself towards the surface of the water, flailing despite the fact that her muscles hardly seemed capable of performing the task. No, no, no, no, no. Her eyes greedily sought after the air above the shimmering surface, but it appeared just out of reach.
Nonetheless, by some miracle she broke free of the water, and the air burned her throat. Aveil coughed, her whole body shaking as she painfully treaded water, looking for land. She was in some sort of bay, where a ship might pull in, and she saw a ladder far away leading up to the metal walkway. Aveil swam, crying as her head rung with each stroke. Don't stop. Don't stop. If she did, she would die. She would drown inches from safety.
The dark storm howled from behind her, the bay opening out onto the chaos she had been flung from. Each stretch of her arm was more painful than the last. The stone bottom at the base of the sea seemed to pull her towards it, in spite of the effort she made to live. Something large and wooden flew by when she was halfway across the bay, slamming into the edge of the metal bay and shattering. She thought she caught a glimpse of one of her sisters amongst the wreckage, but her eyes and mind were set on one thing only.
Her weak fingers wrapped around the first wrung of the ladder. Aveil slowly pulled herself up, collapsing onto the ground once she finally made it on the top. She cried there for what felt like a long time, unable to move. Two torches burned on either side of her, ignorant of her wet, broken body.
It was a long time before she turned onto her side. Her leg did not appear to agree with the movement, but she fought against the pain, pushing herself back against the nearby wall. The feeling of her bow and quiver on her back brought her out of the silent falling of tears. She removed it to find the string soaking wet, along with all of the fletchings on her arrows. Aveil was astonished it had not been torn away from her. Her red attire had been reduced to tattered rags by the cloud.
The leader of the pirates looked up to see that her boat lied ruined on the right bank of the dock, a corpse in front of it. But you are a leader no more. The dead pirate was dressed in purple, but she knew her closest advisor could not have survived either. How can you return to your people, incapable of avenging them? How can you return with your treasure gone, and only more lives lost?
Was it even possible for her to return? Aveil wasn't entirely sure. She was so sore, and wasn't even sure the extent of her injuries. Most likely something was broken. But if even she had been in prime shape, how could she swim back out of the bay, and through the cloud? Why did the gods spare me?
And then she knew why. She would have to dry her bow and arrows out with the fire to the best of her ability, but she would make them work. She wasn't a leader anymore, and could never return to her people. But she was alive, and she had a weapon.
For him, she thought. The boy who brought the shadow, and could change skins. The boy who had taken everything from her. The gods had given her one last task. I will kill the dark wizard.
Tatl found her mind was still sluggish.
This is ridiculous. She wondered how the eggs had managed to hatch after being trapped in the black void for so long. The black void. I'm not even sure that's what it is. Though it was an appropriate enough title. Link had donned the mask, she'd vanished into blackness, and had woken as if no time had passed. And she still swore her head was swimming. Apparently, not existing for two minutes really did a number on your brain.
"Are you okay, Tatl?"
Tatl looked down at the boy below her. She'd gotten used to the absence of his green hat long ago, but he still wore the rest of his forest attire. He had an eyebrow raised, appearing concerned for her. The Zora, who stood much taller than Link, was looking at her too.
"I'm fine. Just promise me I won't have to disappear into that thing again."
"I promise," Link said, half-smiling to himself as he turned back to the large room. He wondered if he'd be able to keep that promise; sure, they hadn't had to go underwater since the first time, but he wouldn't be able to do anything about it if they had to again
They'd walked most recently from a doorway onto a large platform. A pathway ran up along the left wall to a door on the second story, but the lower half was once again filled with water. It didn't appear to be an option, though, as there weren't any doors under the water. The only things under its surface were long, thick strands of seaweed that clumped together in the center swaying back and forth. The only problem was that –
"The path breaks off," Link said for her.
Tatl glanced back at him, slightly annoyed. "Obviously." The path went up until it simply stopped. The gap was far too wide to cross, but if they didn't cross it, then there was no way to continue forward. "Suggestions?"
"Those red and green pipes open up underneath the gap. Look." Link pointed to it, and the fairy saw he was right. Above the water but beneath the hole in the walkway, water was spouting out of two holes. It was shooting out weakly, however, so Tatl hadn't paid them much attention. The red and green pipes did run by where they were, though, and had been following them for a while. A large, golden fin of sorts was attached to them. It appeared to be a mechanism of sorts, as if you could turn it.
"Now that was a useful statement," Tatl decided. 'The path breaks off.' You might as well have said, 'That water is wet.' She stopped for a moment, however, wondering why she felt so irritable. She blamed the black void.
"Should we try to turn it?" Link asked, beckoning to Evan. At least Link always knew to just ignore her comments whenever she was being particularly and dreadfully sarcastic. She opened her mouth to say something snarky, but thought better of it.
"It looks like it's blocking the water flow right now," Evan commented. "If we turned it, I think it'd increase the pressure. Maybe enough to create a nice little bridge of water to the other side."
"That'd have to be a lot of water pressure for you to walk on it," Tatl commented.
"Yeah, but the current was pretty strong," Link pointed out. "I'd say it's worth a shot." Link grabbed one end of the heavy stone slab, and Evan the other. On the boy's command, the two pushed all of their weight into it to turn it in one direction. It slowly moved, making horrible screeching noises that caused Tatl to cover her ears.
The process appeared long and laborious, but eventually the slab was parallel with the pipe it ran underneath, and water gushed forth. Just underneath the hole in the walkway, two spouts of water shot up powerfully. They stopped level with the walkway, promising to provide another way across.
"You did it!" Tatl exclaimed.
"Obviously." The fairy turned to see Link smiling smugly, though slightly out of breath from turning the heavy faucet. Tatl returned the smile. He's my brightest pupil yet.
"Don't get too cocky. You still have to walk on water. Which sounds like it'll be quite the feat."
Link's smile faded when he seemed to realize she was right. The three of them began to make their way up to the edge. Only two powerful jets of water separated them from the other side. They sprayed up forcefully, somewhat painfully sending water in their direction. Each droplet was a pellet. The sound of the water running was loud, and she noticed that the tops seemed to make a sort of platform on their own. The opening in the pipe must have been more than just a normal spout.
"The good news is, if you fall, you just land in the water," Tatl pointed out. "You can try again and again... for forty or so hours, at least." Link didn't laugh at that, and the fairy turned to Evan. The Zora looked at her with his black eyes, but she wondered what he was thinking. They never truly answered his questions about the time travel, though he didn't appear to be too phased by what she was saying.
"I can go first," Evan said, as soon as he turned back to Link.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I've been a Zora longer than you, so hopefully it'll be easier for me." He smiled at the boy, and Link returned it, nodding his head. Evan approached the ledge carefully, but was quick to leap off. He landed on the platform of water, and swiftly used the pressure to propel him to the next, until he eventually landed on the other side. It was done gracefully, as was expected of an aquatic creature. Had he hesitated, Tatl knew he would have fallen.
"Well done, fine sir!" Tatl exclaimed from over the roar of the jets, now that they were separated. She flew over them to join the Zora. "I give you a perfect score." Evan merely smiled in return, and Tatl turned back to Link on the other side. "You're turn, Deku head! Though you might want to let Mikau give it a shot." She realized how insensitive the joke might have been to Evan too late, but he didn't seem to react to it.
Link shook his head and called back. "I can do it as a human!" No you can't.
"Link..." But he was already going for it. Link jumped to the first jet and propelled himself to the second, but he landed too heavily. His feet were blown out from underneath him, and Link's face met the hard stream of water. It blew him off to the side, and he spun down the length of the long pipe until he landed in the pool at the bottom.
Tatl gasped, the blast of water to the face having looked painful. She peered over the edge to see far below into the pool at the bottom of the room. Link had sunk to the bottom of it, but it was more out of defeat than actual physical inability to swim to the top. "What an idiot," Tatl said, flying towards the water. "I'll go make sure he's okay." She watched as Link began to rise to the surface.
Something stopped him.
The seaweed appeared to have caught on his ankle, and Link struggled against the thick plant. Tatl stopped, beginning to worry, and then she saw other arms of seaweed reaching out for him too, beginning to wrap around him as if they were animals. Those aren't arms of seaweed, she realized, horrified. They were long, thick, green, actual arms that looked like seaweed. They had begun to grab Link and pull him back to the bottom. The boy struggled and kicked against them, but it was no use.
"Link!" Tatl suddenly screamed, flying down to the water and looking into it. From underneath the shimmering surface, she saw Link fighting as hard as he could against the arms, but they were too strong. He was a boy, and not a Zora, so he would drown. His arms were wrapped against himself, and he had no way of reaching the mask.
She began to panic, flying as close to the surface as she could, but being unable to penetrate it. Underwater, she would be no use; her wings would get heavy and she would drown just as quickly. "Link! Link!" All she could do was shout his name and watch, as he drowned.
There was a crash behind her. Tatl spun around to see Evan diving further into the water. He'd leapt from high on the ledge. She watched as the Zora began to wrestle with the thick arms of seaweed, tearing at them with his fins and fists. Tatl held her breath, but eventually the Zora pulled him free, swimming to the surface with the boy in his arms. "You got him!" Tatl exclaimed, but Evan did not stop to greet her. He swam with Link to the nearest ledge, climbing onto the surface and pulling Link up with him.
The boy turned to his side and coughed up water, now soaking wet. But the sound of the coughing was music to Tatl's ears. He's okay. "Link, what the Din were you thinking?!" She flew up to the two of them, Evan bent down to make sure he was okay as the boy sat up. "Why didn't you put on your Zora mask?! That was so stupid!"
"Thanks, Tatl," Link said, his voice raw. He looked to Evan then. "But thank you. I didn't think I was going to make it. Of all the stupid ways to die after all of this..."
"You're telling me," Tatl commented. "But I'm glad you're okay."
"Me too," Evan said. "This time, let's try it again... but with your mask?" The fairy saw that he was smiling yet again, and Link returned it. He's starting to warm up to us, finally. Maybe she had been too quick to judge him.
"Definitely," Link said, taking his arm and getting back to his feet. He was still dripping wet, his tunic now soaked. He opened his bag to pull out his bow, and the fairy noticed the same thing he did.
"Man," the fairy complained. "We almost went a whole adventure in an ocean land without you getting wet once. At least while you were a human."
The boy begrudgingly put it back in his bag, knowing that he'd have to dry it out if he hoped to successfully pull back another arrow. The Clock Town bow had been cheap, and it didn't appear capable of being wet like his other bows had been. "It'll be okay," he decided, regaining his breath. "Let's just keep going, and I'll make better decisions."
This time, it was much less eventful. Link donned his mask, and skipped across the water as Evan had, who shortly after followed him. Link removed the Zora mask afterwards, and the three of them continued to the next room.
It was a long, narrow hallway, with no traps, stunts, waterways, or bridges to impede their progress. "Thank goodness!" Tatl exclaimed. "This is how temples should be."
"Then they wouldn't be very good trials, would they?" Evan required. Tatl was surprised by the sarcasm in his voice. She exchanged a glance with Link, who returned it.
"Tatl's not a very big fan of temples in general," Link explained, his boots still saturated with water as they walked. Annoyingly, he wasn't drying as easily as Zoras did. He trailed water behind them as they went, his hair darker and saltier.
"This is true," the fairy commented. "Or freaky religions in general. Though, I may be at a slight disposition... because of the fact that my experiences with them have been limited and filled with near-death experiences."
"You didn't like them before Woodfall," Link reminded her. "And you weren't even there for the near-death experiences in Snowhead."
"You know, we've been in so many near-death experiences that they all start bleeding together. But either way, they've happened on the way to a temple and... Evan?" She turned when she noticed he wasn't following them. Link did too.
Evan was staring at the ground, with a very confused expression on his face. His mouth opened and closed distantly, his black eyes concerning. "Evan... are you all right?" Tatl asked again. The boy and the fairy looked at him worriedly.
The Zora took a tentative step forward but almost collapsed. He fell against the wall, his hand flying to his chest. No. It's happening. "Evan!" Tatl flew to his side, as Link leapt. The boy caught him as the Zora continued sliding down the wall, Evan's fingers grasping at the leathery skin under which his heart was beating. His face was tense, teeth barred in pain and eyes narrowed as he groaned. Link grabbed him by his shoulders and tried to steady him.
"Evan, what's wrong?" Link asked, but the Zora looked off and blinked heavily.
Evan brought his head down to his chest, shakily removing his hand as he got back to his feet. Underneath his fingers, he revealed a black mark. It was small. But thin, black fingers had begun to creep up his chest, branching out from the original scar. Link gasped, backing away from the Zora and shaking his head. Evan seemed to notice the boy's reaction, still trembling as he brought his hand to return to the mark that had just appeared.
"Link...," the Zora stammered
"What is that?" Link asked, dumbfounded. His expression was that of disbelief. "Th-that's... that's what... what I have..." The dark scar was still hidden underneath his tunic, as well as in his Deku and Zora forms.
"I... AGH!" Evan grabbed his chest again, doubling over in agony as the black mark spread. Tatl was just as awe-struck, watching with wide eyes. "I... I wanted to tell you after we... after we saved the temple... but I... it hurts too much... I need the... the medicine... Please... please forgive me..." Tatl didn't understand. Evan looked down at his black mark one last time, before sighing and bringing his hands up to his face.
When he brought them down, his hands were human, and in them, he held the face of a Zora.
Before them stood a tall man in a black robe, hood down. His hair was red and his dark eyes were slightly squinted. He had a tall, thin frame, but he was still bent over, leaning against the wall in pain. "I'm sorry," he said, hunched around his chest, where the boy had struck him with lightning long ago. He began to reach into his robes. "I just need to..."
Tatl heard the sound of steel on leather, and before she could say anything, Link had his Gilded Sword pressed against the man's throat. He pushed him back against the wall, forcing the man's gloved hand out of his robes as the steel bit into his neck. The second Zora mask fell to the floor with a hollow, wooden clank.
"WHY ARE YOU HERE?!" Link screamed, his arms shaking violently as he held the sword. A small line of blood began to trickle down his blade, the man's dark eyes wide with terror as he continued to shake. "HOW ARE YOU ALIVE?!"
"Link...!" Tatl began.
"NO. NO. YOU SHUT UP." His voice was still hoarse from the water, but his blue eyes were wild and fierce. Anger was the only thing that shone back at the man whose neck his blade had found. They never left the mask salesman's.
"WHY ARE YOU HERE? WHY?!"
Replies to Anonymous Reviewers (there were a lot this time... which is a good thing!) :
That Guy: (Ch. 44): That is actually a very accurate comparison: tragic figure addicted to an evil power. Hopefully he doesn't end up quite as hideous, or biting off somebody's finger while dramatically falling into a volcano.
(Ch. 45): Agreed. I'm currently rereading/editing the series from the beginning while posting new chapters. I'm only on chapter 4, but I plan on only permitting words like "bastard" that make more sense given the context, rather than others I may have used. It does feel off-key in a Nintendo based story.
(Ch. 46): Kind of. I always imagined "Din" as an angry word filler, and "Nayru" as more of an actual allusion to godly influences, good or bad. "Farore" I feel is more of a direct reference to the gods, rather than Din and Nayru being looser ones. ... I don't know if that counts as an explanation. Maybe I'll set harder rules as a revise. It's all rather ambiguous.
(Ch. 48): Answers to your questions: (1) No. I was trying to heavily imply that they were members of the ancient tribe that created Majora's Mask. (2) I don't have a planned end "date" for the story, honestly. Going by my currently outline, with weekly updates, I won't be done until November. But I'm notorious for hiatuses as well. I still have a LOT left to tell, but I am nearing the end. We'll see. I'd like to finish it this year. (3) He has been mentioned quite a few times, hasn't he? Since the beginning. I'll touch on that some more all in good time. (4) I actually don't find music while writing helpful at all. I've tried it a handful of times, but... I'll either be into a story or I won't, regardless of what's going on externally. There's definitely a "zone" I get into though, when I'm really putting myself into a scene and typing out what's happening, but regardless of music. That said, while listening to music, I find myself coming up with my best ideas for stories. So... music helps me brainstorm, not write. I find the OST soundtrack from the Legend of Korra especially helpful in regards to brainstorming for this fic.
Santiago: Thank you so much! In regards to the other lands, I appreciate you realizing that it wasn't necessary for me to go into them. Honestly though, I was a little sad I couldn't. I already had mini-ideas bubbling that I had to forsake, simply because they weren't relevant. But yes; it all built up the tragedy that is the Skull Kid. I feel bad for the little imp.
SCAG: Apparently so! Frying guards is a very dangerous hobby.
EX-MARK: Actually, that is given lore in the video game. You should check out Anju's Grandmother's story that she reads to Link in order to get a heart piece. Mine obviously takes liberties and expounds upon it, but the roots were already there, if very ambiguous and open-ended roots.
EDLDS3.14159: Aw, thanks! I really appreciate that. I definitely put a lot of effort into it. But yes, a Skyward Sword reference and similarities to gems seen before. And I will most certainly keep at it!