A/N: It's been a while! Right? Or was that my other stories that I'm ignoring? I totally have writer's block, for pretty much everything except random oneshots that I'll probably never post anyway... The good news is I DID finish my Wizard101 story from three years ago. Finally, I can say I've completed a fanfic before. ^^
Anyway... I don't like this chapter too much. Like I said, I've got writer's block. And this whole chapter is pretty much filler - the next one will be much more dramatic. I hope you can survive through this mess until the next chapter. See, the problem with this one is that I had to do a TON of research, because I'd pretty much forgotten the layout of the Deep Woods... (You'll probably notice some parts that may come off as odd because I had to kind of last-minute edit them.) Plus, I'd... not exactly FORGOTTEN about Gorko... but... I DEFINITELY wasn't expecting to spend the whole chapter on him.
READ, ENJOY, REVIEW, PEOPLE!
I emerged in a wide open, grassy clearing in the forest. I paused at the exit from the tunnel, contemplating over what my next move should be and reflecting on my pounding heart. I had absolutely no clue why my heart was pounding, but it was. Maybe I was subconsciously nervous or something.
One quick scan of the area revealed that it was monster-less and tranquil. So tranquil, in fact, that for a moment I didn't want to go any further. Oh, gods... what I wouldn't give to be able to lay on the grass and forget about everything! It was so long and soft from many years of a lack of human presence... I could just curl up and enjoy the gorgeous weather, sit and listen to the squeaky cries of those "birds" and the unfamiliar insects and whatever other sounds this forest made. The whole scene was so vivid in my mind that I was strongly tempted to do just that, to pretend that there was no quest that I hadn't just gone through the worst identity crisis in history.
I sighed. I had a job to do. If I was lucky, perhaps after we had this whole thing sorted out and I'd proved to that woman that I wasn't actually some reborn goddess (or, Din forbid, actually discover that it's all true) then I'd be able to relax.
I willed my feet to move, and, unsurprisingly, it required a bit of effort. Eventually, I managed to start walking again. The only exit I found was a dirt path underneath another tunnel of roots similar to the one in the main part of the woods. I couldn't help but silently marvel over how large these trees had become. Before arriving here, anything of this size was beyond my imagination – beyond comprehension! Yet here it was, standing fathomlessly tall, as though it had grown like that just to prove me wrong.
And, of course, because I was stupidly staring upward, and sideways, and all around me – in other words, looking everywhere except where I was walking – I felt my balance abandon me and I started to fall.
I gasped, seized by panic as I flailed my arms desperately, looking downward and finding only a deep, dark abyss that seemingly possessed no bottom. I finally managed to tip myself backwards, falling on my butt. At least it was on safe ground, and not over the edge of that cliff.
After my heart stopped pounding loudly and the terror faded, I managed to scowl. Figures. Someone would put a huge drop right in my path. Honestly, though, why would anyone bother to make such an obvious dirt pathway of it was just going to lead off a cliff?
I groaned, slumping down onto my back with my hair spread out around me, hopelessly gazing up at the sky. My only pathway had become a dead end. Now what was I supposed to do?
As I silently laid there, I was beginning to think that maybe my fantasies of resting in this lovely forest area here may come true. Besides, why should I feel so dedicated to this quest? For all I knew, it could just be the ramblings of some crazy old woman.
...If only I believed that.
In the newfound silence formed out of the lack of my footsteps, a faint buzzing noise met my ears. Now curious, I sat up, glancing around. My gaze rested upon a small object hanging from a branch above the abyss. A Deku Hornet nest. I scowled at it. I hated Deku Hornets.
"Great Goron! What is that?"
I jumped at the sound of the booming voice, so deep that it even rivaled Bucha's. My eyes snapped to the source. It was a peculiar creature, large and bulky and thought, with dirt-orange skin and strange, rock-like bumps on its back. Actually, the whole thing itself looked like one giant, humanoid rock, complete with eyes and a mouth that was gaping at me.
Not wanting to immediately be branded as "stupid" like with the Kikwis, I spoke up. "Hello..."
"Oh my–! …Holy Volvagia! It speaks. I-It speaks. I mean... you speak!" He finally managed to close his mouth and cleared his throat. "I am Gorko the Goron, creature! It is a pleasure to meet you!"
"U-Um... okay." A Goron! The woman at the Sealed Grounds had discussed that. They... ate rocks, I think. She'd told me that.
...Or had she? Maybe... maybe I'd just... kind of known that...
My head starting to spin with confusion, I attempted to listen to Gorko's next words. "What a surprise! Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but... are you a human?" I nodded hesitantly. "Wow! Your kind is so rare these days; I've only met one human before you. She lives in the Sealed Grounds. Do you know her?" I nodded again. "Oh, yes, I shouldn't be surprised. After all, you're of the same species! You'd want to meet up with your own kind, right? And considering there's so few left... Oh, hey, do you know what happened to the rest of the humans?" Not sure how to answer, I shrugged. "Well get this – they say that the Goddess sent them into the sky! Isn't that amazing? A floating city in the sky: the Isle of the Goddess! I've been studying these ancient legends, because someday, I'm hoping to find this city. Apparently it's free from any conflict, always in perpetual peace. And it's filled with magic and riches beyond our wildest dreams! How cool is that?"
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. He'd turned Skyloft into the some kind of fairy tale. "Free from conflict"? Tell that to Groose.
"See, lately I've been researching these strange 'bird statues' in this area. Supposedly they're portals to the Isle of the Goddess. They're meant to be used by the Hero of legend. Unfortunately, there's one statue that apparently activates them all somewhere here in the forest, but I don't know where it is. I'm considering heading down to the sealed temple down there again, because..."
I'd instantly zoned in on the word "Hero" and hadn't heard anything he'd said after. The woman in the Sealed Grounds had mentioned that and refused to tell me any more about it... and I'd become distracted and forgot to bother her about it later. I spoke up, interrupting his rant. "What do you know about the Chosen Hero?"
He stopped in mid-sentence, blinking at me in surprise. "The Chosen Hero? Well... no one really knows much about him..." My expression fell, and he hurried to cheer me up. "But there are some things I know! The Hero was selected by the Goddess herself with the aid of the ancient gods for his talent and disposition, so that he can defeat the evil if it ever returns in the future. He is described as an individual with an unbreakable spirit and immense courage. Supposedly, he alone can wield the Goddess Sword – aside from Her Grace herself, of course. But the sword was sent into the sky with the Isle of the Goddess." His gaze grew distant as he lost himself in the legend. "I've always wondered why she did that... I mean, wouldn't she want to leave the sword beneath the clouds, where the Hero could easily reach it? Unless... unless he lives in the sky... whoa, that just opened up a whole new world of possibilities...!"
That last thought unnerved me a bit. This Chosen Hero... might live in the sky? But we would have heard of such a powerful warrior. Maybe it was one of the knights? Or maybe even Eagus? He was the Knight Commander, after all, and he was renowned as our best fighter. Then there was that own guy who had been pretty popular in his childhood – whatever his name was. I only knew his daughter, Peatrice, from the Item Check.
"Anyway," Gorko continued, once again snapping me out of my reverie. "It seems foolish to develop this conversation any farther at this distance, doesn't it? Come on over!"
I suddenly became aware of the huge gap in between us once more. I'd forgotten that we were so far away; his voice carried so well. "How?" I demanded. Only now did it occur to me that somehow he'd gotten over there, meaning that there had to be another way.
"Well," he said, "I came from a path back there, where you first enter the Deep Woods."
"A path?" There were no paths back there. I know there weren't. I looked.
"Yes, but I think it might be a little too high up for someone of your size..."
"Oh," I sighed. No wonder I hadn't seen it. "Then how?"
I blinked at him. "What?"
"There's a rope strung across the pit. See?"
Holy Goddess. There was. It stretched across the gap from this side to his, looking relatively sturdy but very, very thin. I wasn't surprised I hadn't noticed it before – one would need to squint and examine the air really, really closely to spot it. "Oh gods, no! You can not expect me to be able to cross that!"
He looked offended. "Well, I thought you'd be able to, since your race is so much smaller than Gorons. I think that, if you really focused, you'd be able to keep your balance."
"N-No..." I refused to walk across a gaping hole with no support but an inch-wide rope. That wasn't just ambitious... it was impossible.
"That path," I said desperately. "I will climb it somehow." I didn't bother pointing out that my dress wasn't exactly the ideal climbing outfit. Nor did I mention how horribly I'd always done in rock climbing tests in Skyloft. I'd always thought it was a stupid skill anyway, because my bird could always just fly me to any area I might need to climb to.
"It's too high–" Gorko protested, but I was already dashing back under the tree roots and hurrying into the clearing, looking for the path. My heart plummeted when I spotted it. The Goron was right – there was no way I'd be able to reach that. It had to be at least twenty feet tall. And there was a stupid log rolled in front of it.
Dismayed yet determined, I picked up my pace and arrived at the wall, searching for a handhold. I grabbed onto what I thought was a secure rock and tried to pull myself up – and let out a squeak of surprise as it slipped out and fell on my back. I leapt back up – ignoring the fact that I'd landed on the same spot that the rock-spitting creature had hit me, and now it hurt like crazy – and prepared to try again.
"Hey!" I glanced up, seeing the Goron standing on the ledge above me, peering down. "Like I said, you won't be able to make it. I don't think I can reach to pull you up, either. The only way across is that rope."
He was right, of course; he had been from the beginning. But it was a difficult fact to accept. I tried to find a hand hold again, but the rock wall was stubbornly flat, and I was terrible at rock climbing in the first place.
I let out a huff of air. I hated admitting that I was wrong... especially when it meant that I'd have to cross a seemingly bottomless chasm because of it.
Somehow, though, I reluctantly ended up trudging back to that cliff, staring at the inch-wide rope fearfully.
"Come on, human!" Gorko shouted cheerfully. "You can do it!"
I shot him a scowl that he probably didn't deserve before dropping my gaze back down. Oh Goddess... it looked even scarier now that I knew I had to cross it…
I pushed back my concern and closed my eyes. I could do this. I mean, I was this "Spirit Maiden", right? I couldn't die. I was supposed to live and defeat the Demon King.
I bit my lip and took my first step.
Hmm... this rope was much sturdier than it looked. Cautiously testing my weight, I took another step, allowing my other foot to leave the solid ground completely.
I opened my eyes, examining my position. My arms were outspread to either side of me, looking like a gliding Loftwing. I swallowed loudly, refusing to look down and acknowledge that only a string was keeping me from the dark pit. I really hated this position. I felt so vulnerable, like a mere gust of wind could knock me over to my death.
I took another step.
I felt my foot tilt under the shift in weight, and I involuntarily leaned to the side. My eyes widened, and I furiously flapped my arms in an awkward attempt to become balanced again. I let out a huge, relieved breath once I righted myself.
Goddess... I was almost halfway there already! Maybe... maybe this wasn't so bad. I could handle this.
I realized that Gorko was yelling something. What was it? Probably encouragement. I was too focused on my steps to really listen or care. Though it was odd, the way he was frantically waving his arms around like that... and he kind of looked scared...
And then the buzzing started.
My concentration broken, I almost lost balance again, but with some careful repositioning of my feet I regained it quickly. I glanced around for the offender. What I found... was a bug. Oh, and not just any bug. Nope. This was the flying monstrosity known as a Deku Hornet.
I only just realized that I was directly beneath their nest.
"Oh no–!" Like any sane person, I lifted a hand and smacked the Deku Hornet. Unfortunately, even if it was the sane response, it wasn't exactly the smart one. It enraged the hornet.
The other hornets reacted to their friend's distress like water from a floodgate. They swarmed out of the nest toward me, and I had nothing to defend myself with. I reached into my pouch and pulled out the Goddess's Harp, intending to whack the hornets away with it. I batted away quite a few, struggling to remain upright, but somehow, one tiny sting still got to me.
It was a natural reaction, of course, that when the first sting started, I took a step back. Unfortunately, with the awkward angle I was at, my foot didn't quite land on the rope: it hit empty air.
With a gasp, I fell.
Now... falling wasn't exactly a new sensation to me. For as long as I could remember, I'd been jumping into the sky without a moment's hesitation. Even as a toddler, I'd enjoyed falling through the air and letting one of my parents' Loftwings catch me. I mean, even as a baby my parents probably took me flying with them. This wasn't new.
However, the absolute horror associated with experience was.
Oh my goddess... I was going to die!
I frantically spun around in the air, trying to twist my body to look around for something, anything that could slow my descent. But there was nothing, and the light was fading, receding away far above me –
Suddenly, there was a familiar mental rush of concern and a screech. The next thing I knew, I'd landed on a solid object roughly, eliciting an "Oof!" from me and a good moment of deep panting, the harp still miraculously clutched in my arms. Only once the adrenaline faded and my body realized that I was no longer falling did I allow myself to hope.
I... I was alive?
As I sat up, I was overwhelmed by feelings of joy and love, and a familiar presence at the back of my mind. And that's when it hit me. It was… my Loftwing?
"Oh my gods!" I shouted in utter elation. He let out a delighted shriek as I hugged his neck. I was somewhat disappointed when he guided me right back down to the ground rather than flying around a bit, but I was too caught up in my relief to care. The whole time, Gorko gaped at us. I wondered if he'd even seen a Loftwing before.
Once my Loftwing landed on the ground, I jumped off his back, giggling like a pleased child, gratefully stroking his feathers and whispering words of praise in his ears. I had no idea where he'd come from, but I was overjoyed that we had reunited. There was something comforting in having another presence at the back of my mind. I couldn't have been happier if my father himself had shown up. Or maybe Link. Well... maybe I would have been slightly happier if Link came.
"It saved you!" Gorko shouted, sounding bewildered. "It... it flew! And it caught you!"
"Of course. He's my Loftwing," I explained warmly. As though to punctuate my statement, the bird affectionately nudged my shouted and I placed a gentle hand on his beak.
"He's... he's..." Gorko couldn't even formulate a comprehensive statement. "He's... yours?"
"Yes. Is it so hard to believe?"
"It's just..." He took several deep, quick breaths. "I've... I've been taking care of him and healing his injuries. I didn't... didn't realize that he belonged to someone."
"You what?" I mentally searched my Loftwing. Buried underneath all the joy I sensed concealed pain. "Oh, my friend... why didn't you tell me?"
I'd been speaking to my Loftwing, but Gorko didn't realize that. "S-Sorry. Like I said, I didn't know it was yours. I found him... in this area, actually. He was injured pretty badly. I've been nursing him back to health. I thought that he was similar to the birds described in the legends of the Isle of the Goddess, but if he's yours..." His eyes suddenly landed on my harp. "What is that?"
"Oh, th-this? It's nothing," I told him quickly. He didn't seem to believe me.
"But… it looks like a harp. The Goddess had one just like that, but it is also on the Isle of the Goddess. And you have a Loftwing…" His eyes narrowed. "Wait... you're not actually from..."
"No!" I said quickly. "No, no, no. Not at all." I wasn't so sure how he'd react if he discovered I really did live in Skyloft, but I wanted to be safe. "I... I found him, too. A while ago," I said, gesturing lamely to my bird. "And... he must have fallen out of the sky, but he liked me, so... yeah. Oh, and the harp? It's… a replica."
Wow. That had to win some kind of award for "worst excuse in history."
"Oh?" He eyed me suspiciously. For a second, I wasn't sure he'd believe me, but much to my surprise, he eventually sighed. "Alright. I guess that makes sense."
…Finding a random Loftwing in the forest makes sense? And what about the harp replica? Was he serious?
"I'm sorry. I'm just so set on finding at least a tiny bit of evidence of this island in the sky… I tend to jump to conclusions…" He sounded really disappointed. I almost felt bad. Actually, I did feel bad… I felt bad that he failed at discerning truth from lie. Poor guy. He'd fall for anything. "Well... at least I got to see that bird fly!" Gorko said optimistically, changing the subject. "I hadn't realized he was healed enough yet."
"He isn't," I murmured, shifting my attention back to the bird at my side. Now that he knew his ruse was up, the full extent of his pain flooded my senses and he slumped a bit. He shouldn't have come to save me. He hurt himself more.
"Mushroom Spores," I said abruptly. "Do you have any Mushroom Spores?"
He gave me a look that told me everything I needed to know. "Please," I begged. "I know you have them. It will help him! You said you've been nursing him back to health, right? This would fix him up in a matter of hours. Then you won't have to worry about him anymore."
He hesitated, and then reluctantly pulled out a bottle filled with the spores that was used as Loftwing medicine. "Well, I was planning on using them for research... they're supposed to have special properties, you know..."
"Yeah, whatever, thanks!" Before he could protest, I snatched up the bottle and emptied its contents into the open mouth of my bird.
"Hey!" Gorko began to complain about how now he'd have to go back into the forest to get more spores, but I ignored him.
While it had only taken a few minutes for my tired-out bird to heal last time, when we'd pulled that unexpected move to rescue Link from my own stupidity, this might take up to an hour or even more, since he was actually injured and not simply strained. I stood. It might be better to keep going. My gaze drifted into the distance, landing on a formidable stone building.
"I have a question," I said, interrupting Gorko's rant.
"I'll do my best to help," he responded, slightly grumpy.
"Is that building over there... is that a temple?"
"That's right," he confirmed. "Skyview Temple. But it's filled with monsters. You're not actually going there, are you?"
"I am," I asserted. He opened his mouth to argue. "No, don't. I have to go there. Well, more specifically, I have to go to the Goddess Statue in there."
"A Goddess Statue?" he repeated thoughtfully. "There's a legend about that..."
"Really? What kind of legend?"
He frowned and crossed his arms across his chest. "I don't think I should tell you. It will probably just make you want to go even more."
"I'm going to go whether you tell me or not."
He huffed. "Fine. It was said that the people of the Goddess built this shrine around a spring in her honor. In return, she blessed the water there with magical properties. It is able to cure any magic-induced injury. Normal injuries will not be affected, though."
That was interesting... but not at all what I'd hoped to hear. "Isn't there some kind of legend about... about what to do there? I mean, um, if someone was going to go pray there... would anything happen?"
He stared at me blankly.
I considered my questions for a moment, before finally coming up with one that might spark a reaction in him. "Are there any legends about the Spirit Maiden?"
His expansion changed to one of surprise. "Spirit Maiden? Oh, yes. There are plenty of those. For instance, there was one about how the maiden would enter the temple through a beautiful melody. It's interesting, because depending on the way you interpret the ancient texts, you might also read it as 'beautiful tones.' And that actually matches a phrase in this other old document I found, which I haven't quite determined the full translation of... something about... a trio of Blessed Butterflies..."
Uh... okay? Was that supposed to help me somehow?
"Erm... thank you, anyway," I said, trying to sound grateful.
"Oh, you're welcome! I'm glad you listened! I haven't had anyone besides my assistant to tell all this too in a long time – and he's off studying legends about the three dragons in Lanayru right now. As you can probably tell, I get easily excited about these things..."
Oh, yes. I could definitely tell.
"Will you take care of my Loftwing while I'm gone?" I inquired. Knowing that I was referring to him, my bird looked up at me forlornly. "Don't look so sad!" I scolded. "I'll come back!"
"But..." Gorko looked hesitant. "I need to go back into the main part of the woods to get more Mushroom Spores now. I wasn't planning on staying here."
I groaned. "Then what should I do? He's hurt and he might not be able to take care of himself."
My Loftwing let out a cry, and I understood what he was trying to say. I can do it. I'll be okay, as long as you stay safe.
I frowned at him, but finally nodded reluctantly. "Okay, fine. My bird will go and look for a safer place as soon as he can fly again. It won't be long. Can you wait for that, at least?"
Gorko smiled. "Sure. As long as you promise to tell me more about this fascinating creature and your relationship with him, later."
"I don't know if I'll see you again..."
His smile disappeared. "Oh. That's right. You're going to the temple."
I growled indignantly. "That's not what I meant!"
"But it's true all the same. I guess I'll just have to conduct research on this creature on my own, then." He sighed hopelessly, infuriating me even further. Did he really believe I was so weak that I couldn't defend myself from a couple of Bokoblins? I mean, sure, I'd almost been captured by them before... but surely I could outsmart them if I really tried.
"Fine!" I shouted, throwing my hands into the air in exasperation, turning toward the temple. "I'll just go off, then. Go and die, as you seem to think that's all that will happen to me."
"No, no, I'm sorry–"
Muttering darkly, I stormed off, heading down the path – and nearly fell off another cliff that just so happened to be positioned at the end of it. What was with this place and sudden drops? I stared at the impossibly gaping hole, shocked out of my anger. The temple was just visible on the other side, temptingly out of reach. Now what was I supposed to do?
Gorko called from behind me, "Um... the path to the temple is to your right."
I hastily glanced to the side and saw it – a convenient little dirt pathway leading around the corner. "I... I knew that!" My face burned as I turned and stomped off behind the corner and out of his line of vision.
"W-Wait, human! I really didn't mean to offend you! Please don't leave!" Gorko pleaded.
Too late. After brushing some dirt off my white dress, I stalked away again, ignoring his calls. It did make me feel immensely guilty, however, and I prayed that his predictions would not come true and I'd survive the day.
A/N: Sorry about this chapter again! Of course, that doesn't mean you can't criticize it. Tell me what I can do better next time, and why Gorko is a horrible character. And why none of this actually matches with the game because I keep forgetting things. (For instance: Gorko and Machi and Bucha have all had pretty major roles in Zelda's quest so far, but in the game none of them really seem to know her well. Major fail on my part. Sorry. I'll just say I'm going sliiiightly non-canon here, 'kay?)
Thank you VEEEERRRRY much, Sheikagal, sailorsweetart, MagmarFire, MK and RupeeOfMadness! Rupee (mind me calling you that?), your support is incredible. Thanks for all your reviews on my stories. ;) It's pretty easy to get an e-mail, though - I have, like, five. XD Just go to Yahoo and put in some fake name, some fake birthday, and BAM! Done.
Also, I've been wanting to change the summary for a while now, but all the good ones I can think of would mention Zelda being Hylia. Do you think that matters, or have enough people played Skyward Sword now?
Anyway, stay tuned for the next chapter! It actually has a bit of romance in it. And angst. Aaannnd... Debbie? :D Maybe. We'll see.
(Random fact: The small birds on the surface world in Skyward Sword are called Chirris. I never knew that. XD)