Medli's always been one of my favorites, though you'd never be able to tell by this, and Hakimu requested her a while back, so here she is. Happy Halloween.
I own neither the Great Sea nor Legend of Zelda.
"Medli!" he called cheerfully, heaving at the huge door that barred his way, "I brought you something!" She likely couldn't hear him through the stone monstrosity, but he felt better calling to her.
"Medli!" he called out in a sing-song, finally triggering the door mechanism, "hello?"
The door slid open and he scampered under it before it could change its mind and drop on top of him. No matter how many of those doors he went through, he always worried it was going to fall on his head.
The rito girl stood exactly where she'd been when he'd left her, eyes closed, plucking the Earth God's Lyric on her harp. For a moment, Link let his eyes drift closed as he got lost in the music, but when she started the song again, his eyes snapped open.
"You get a lot of practice on that?" he asked, approaching with one hand still hidden behind his back, "it sounds great."
She made no response, just kept on playing.
"Look what I got you!" the hero exclaimed, drawing his hand from behind his back with a flourish. Golden feathers gleamed in his grasp and he presented them to her proudly.
"You have no idea how long it took me to collect this many," he continued, remembering with a wince the scratches the long-tailed birds had given him to remember them by.
Red eyes blinked slowly opened, though her fingers never hesitated in their playing, and fixed on him.
"Do you like them?" he asked.
Still, there was no sound other than her music. The Lyric, played over and over again, bounced off the walls and reverberated back again, giving the illusion that there were many players, an entire chorus, rather than just one.
"Medli?" Link asked, starting to become worried. He waved his free hand in front of her face and when she didn't blink, let the gift fall so he could wave both frantically.
Her eyes never even adjusted the least bit, even when he brought a fist within an inch of her skin, as though she was looking through him, watching something far in the distance
Suddenly, Link had never been so sick of a song. "That's enough," he growled, and tried to pull the harp from her grasp.
He gripped the harp and yanked as hard as he could, but it was like trying to relocate an island with his bare hands.
Disbelievingly, the hero looked from his hands to the harp, then tried again.
He tried to tap her shoulders, pull her hair, anything, even growing so desperate as to pull out the Master Sword and try to reach her with that. No matter how hard he pushed or what he used, nothing affected her. Even when he chopped down as though he was going to slice her from head to feet, with enough force to cleave a Moblin in half, the sword simply bounced off her and went flying across the room to clatter against a wall.
Finally, he sat at her feet, leaning against her legs, golden feathers drifting around him, and talked to her. He told her everything that had happened since he'd last seen her, from how disgruntled the King of Red Lions had looked when Makar chose to sit on his head to the wizard-thing and giant statues he'd fought in the Wind Temple.
"Please come back to me," he whimpered, "please don't leave me. You're one of the only people who understands."
At last, he had to leave, but not before he promised to come back.
The next time he visited, he was shaking. He didn't even bother with trying to stop her playing, just sat down again and leaned against her. There was no give at all, it was like leaning against a statue. The only thing that remained the same was the warmth. She was still as warm as she'd been when he carried her through the temple.
"I went to see Maker," he said at last, "my fingers went right through him. He didn't see me, or acknowledge me, or anything."
Link twisted to look up at her closed eyes. "Am I doing the right thing?" he wondered aloud, "you had to sacrifice everything for this quest. Is it right to continue if the price is so high?"
The only reply he got was another round of the Lyric.
"Why did they choose me?" he yelled. The anger, burning with a white-hot heat in his chest was so great he thought it was going to burn a hole in him if he didn't move, so he paced back and forth in front of her, the words drowning out the ever-present, persistent music.
"Why did they create such a horrible system!" he screamed, "is Ganondorf really important enough to cost the Sea them both?!"
Abruptly, he spun around to address her. "Answer me!" he roared at the rito girl.
There was no reply, and his vision tinted red. He was sick and tired of 'Hero do this' and 'Hero do that' and never any thanks and every good thing he got always being snatched away. He flew at her, fist flying towards her face.
It was like hitting a stone wall.
The anger drained from him like he had punched a hole in his own head, letting the rage drain out and leaving guilt and revulsion in its place.
"Oh goddess, Medli, I'm so sorry," he wailed, clutching his stinging hand. Link wrapped his good arm around the red-head and sobbed into her shoulder. Tears of sorrow, but also guilt and fear and pain dripped down his face, rolling off her and staining the stone floor dark.
Heroes didn't cry, so maybe he wasn't a hero.
"I'm going to fight Ganondorf," he told her wearily, trudging across the floor to flop at her feet. He had long since given up on getting a response from her, but he continued to talk with hopes that maybe she could hear him. It helped, having this one place and one person where he didn't have to be the Hero, could be weak and small and the little boy people had once mistaken him for.
It was almost sad, that the only one he trusted enough to confide in was someone who may as well be a stone statue.
Medli continued playing, fingers never pausing on the strings, eyes closed. If he squinted and forgot that she'd been like this for weeks, almost months now, she looked peaceful.
He peeled off his hat and used it as a pillow, head twisted slightly to watch her.
"They call me the Hero of the Winds now," he commented idly. He pretended that the music changed slightly, lifting in a question or expression of interest.
"I found the Triforce of Courage," the hero continued, lifting the hand to examine the mark in question, "it was ridiculously hard and I never want to see Tingle again."
In his head, he imagined that the music shook, a laugh in the form of notes.
He felt the corners of his own mouth lifting in response and sat there in silence for a while, content to let the music flow over him, soothing and gentle.
"I'm sorry Medli," he whispered, timing it as she paused between the end of one repetition and the beginning of the next so his voice was the only sound in the chamber.
Eyes the same shade as the sunset over the open water slowly opened and he thought he might have glimpsed a bit of sadness and maybe a sliver of forgiveness in those orbs.
"I'm going to fight Ganondorf now," he repeated at last, talking to the ceiling rather than her face, unable to meet those horribly blank eyes.
There was no response, but he hadn't expected one either.
He heaved a sigh and got up from the floor, scooping up his hat and dusting it off. "Wish me luck?" he asked, with perhaps a bit more cheerfulness than he felt, when they were on eye level once more.
Medli's eyes drifted closed again, and he imagined a slight nod in the motion.
"I'll come back for you," he swore, "after Ganondorf has been defeated."
A single feather floated in the center of what had once been the entrance to the Earth Temple. He stood perched on the edge of the hole, water lapping at the soles of his boots. As he watched, horror closing thick fingers of realization around his windpipe, it dipped below the sea's surface, seized by unseen currents.