Surprise, here I am! Another update for Divine Symphony. Finally. I thought that a little surprise for Christmas would be nice so I sat down and started to write away, turning on my Skyward Sword to play through this side quest once more. And damn it was strange. If you just think about it...I was puzzled how in the world that demon could live there all those years and stuff. And I altered it quite a bit because...well, secret grave stones switches aren't my thing, haha.
To the reviews!
Jake-Everfree - Oh my gosh, thank you! I'm so lazy and to know that you'll read it anyway is really great...I hope the story will continue to entertain you.
Zoezebo - Yes! That's what was important for me no damsel in distress but no super power character either! They are both not perfect but balance each other out - I'm so happy that you think the same way :D
leafsdownfall - Thank you very much for reading this story here as well. And I'm glad that it works well with Saria, in the beginning it was a bit rocky, haha. I have your offer always in mind, I'm just afraid that a few random messages of 'uh, is it like this?' could be annoying. Someday soon I'll probably send you whole passages so watch out xD
Elven Silver Power Ranger - I'm glad you like it. I'm worker on the latter part, haha.
Thank you for all your reviews! I feel guilty that I rarely update this story...I'm considering to put DS in my update schedule to make sure it's at least updated every month like my other story. I'm really, really lazy but I'll try my best for you lovely people!
Onwards to the story!
The Monster of Skyloft
"It was a close call, wasn't it?"
Link dug into the steamy stew, he felt like a starving man who hadn't seen a meal in days. The neighbors at the other table glanced at him a bit awkwardly as he barely chewed on the meat and gulped it down as fast as he could. The young knight was sure he was a sight to behold with all the dirt in his face, smeared blood on his tunic and sweat-drenched hair. But the kitchen in the academy had already closed for the night and the restaurant in the bazaar was the only source of food which was still open and offered more than just pumpkin pie and soup.
Saria looked as chaotic as he did with her messy green locks. Dust and ash was smeared along her cheeks as she rubbed them once in a while, poking around her stew because it still was too hot in her opinion. Her friend however didn't feel the heat anymore after he had burned his tongue after the first bite. He plainly didn't care; all that mattered was that he got something into his stomach.
"Yeah, the night watch just started their shift." He replied with a stuffed mouth, barely finding the manners to gulp his share down first. "We would have gotten into trouble, huh?"
The girl across the table nodded deeply and sighed. Her muscles finally called out, complaining about all the running and climbing she did in the past few days. Link watched her over the brim of his plate, still busy with shoving and chewing while Saria enjoyed the familiar spicy flavor at a slower pace.
Piper, the owner of this little corner of the bazaar was an angel in the kitchen. Everything she cooked tasted delicious. It was no insult to the meals they received in the academy; however, there was a reason why a handful of students often run to the restaurant in their break to eat instead of waiting for Henya to cook. Link and Saria were some of them who went often to 'Piper's' along with Zelda to spent their afternoon there in between the lessons and training.
"I need a bath..." Saria groaned into the spoon which still lay on her tongue. "I have never felt so dirty in my life."
Link chocked on his laughter, hammering against his chest a few times to not suffocate on a piece of meat. He knew exactly how she felt, every movement was uncomfortable. Sweat felt like oil which drenched their joints and limbs while sand still clung to the skin in between his fingers and toes. He felt lucky that he didn't have to look into a mirror up until now.
"A bath sounds good." The sandy blond mused, taking another spoonful of the stew. "Maybe we should clean up before we check out the graveyard?"
"You think that's alright?" The girl wondered out loud. She furrowed her brow and pursed her lips. "What if Kukiel is in danger while we enjoy ourselves?"
"Calm down, it ain't night yet, right?" Link shoved the spoon into his mouth, once more chewing and talking at the same time. "The sun hasn't set completely yet. If we hurry it won't make a difference and anyway - don't forget that someone always occupies the bath at night. That's the reason why we should hurry."
"Right." Saria breathed, the realization clearly seen on her face. "Who is that anyway?"
The senior knight gulped, gathering the last remains of his meal in the bowl eagerly as he narrowed his eyes. "I bet with you it's Groose. It has to be him and his stupid hair."
This time it was his friend who started to laugh, she leaned her elbows onto the table joining him in finishing the stew whilst her grin was bright. "You sure? Well...it would definitely explain his hair. I always wondered how he is able to make it on time when the history lesson starts in the morning."
Link shared her smile, exposing his white teeth after the last bite disappeared in his now filled stomach. He fished in his bag for a handful of rupees, promising Saria that next time it was her turn to pay for their dinner while she finished the rest of her stew. The bazaar was still buzzing with life, although it was a lot quieter and less busy than in the early afternoon. The light mumbles of other conversations drifted towards them as the young man finally managed to put the needed amount of rupees onto their table.
"We should inform the headmaster as well." Saria piped up, her hands pushing her chair back to the table as she stood up. "He should know about Zelda. That she is safe and fine."
"Yeah..." He agreed half-hearted. "...safe with that woman."
The grief and pain was obvious in his voice. He was still angry and with a sigh he turned away from their table to approach the exit of the tent. He couldn't get rid of the words of the stranger which still clung to his head like bugs. They were gnawing at him, echoing and repeating over and over again with different voices - Zelda's, Saria's even his own one betrayed him and told him that he wasn't good enough yet to call himself a good friend.
The blond breathed in the chilly air outside which was fresh and slightly moist in contrast to the dry and warm air of Eldin. It felt like he still had a mountain to claim before he was worth anything...and to imagine that a few days ago his biggest problem was to learn for the upcoming test in plants and herbs...
"Come on, don't be so grumpy."
Link twisted his head around to his companion who had quickly followed him. "She said as well that we could catch up, right? We'll just continue like before until we can take Zelda home."
"...you're right. Sorry." The senior knight sighed heavily, a lopsided smile slowly crawling onto his lips. "I'm getting quite pessimistic here, aren't I?"
"Yeah." The greenhead nodded, she moved ahead of him. Following the path which leaded to the academy which was towering in the distance; its walls were colored in a light grey by the shadows of the clouds above them. The sun was disappearing already in the horizon, the first few stars twinkled in the sky. They were ready to rule over the night. "I would be careful if I were you, you sounded a lot like Groose there for a second."
"Wow!" The older one gasped, insulted and shocked. "We don't have to go that far, Sar."
He followed his grinning friend obediently, jogging up the path until he fell into her pace with ease. The echo in his head became quieter and with every word he exchanged with her it eventually vanished completely. There was no time for doubt. Not until they had tried everything which was possible and he was certain the list was still long before he should start to lose hope again.
Link had never heard the headmaster this excited before. His old face brightened, the wrinkles of worry and agony disappearing slowly which had plagued him the previous days. The senior knight would have pointed out maybe, telling the older man how much it made him look if he opened his eyes the way he did but it was no moment to laugh or make a joke.
"Yeah. Zelda is fine. She's just...somehow tangled up in everything just like I am...this woman hadn't let us take her back. She said that they still had much to do and this old woman in the temple..." The sandy blond trailed off. The two of them had already explained the events which had occurred on the surface. It sounded ridiculous to him now. Like a tale from an old book you would read to a child...but it all had happened.
And to his luck Gaepora believed them. His office was still stuffed with many books; the broad desk they sat at was still as intimidating as he remembered. In the past the senior knight had to visit the headmaster often thanks to Groose. Their fight had always been a problem for the school and the man who lead it. But he had never felt the delight of the mood in this room which lifted because of one little message.
Gaepora sighed deeply in relieve, his broad hands were pressed against the table's surface before he relaxed them. All tension left him in one breath as he leaned back into his chair. "She's alive..." He mumbled to himself.
Link nodded; his face grimacing slightly in the process. "But...we couldn't take her back...she disappeared before that with this woman and..." He repeated crestfallen.
"It's alright, Link."
The calm in the headmaster's voice was soothing although the blond felt anything but assured. He failed, didn't he? He couldn't bring his friend, Zelda, back. The man in front of him still couldn't take his daughter back into his arms and- Link forced his mind to stop rumbling like this. Saria had grabbed his arm with her hand, giving him a light squeeze. She was silently reminding him that his negative thought process was of no use. And she was right, he mused as he took a deep breath.
"I have always known that my girl was special..." Gaepora said carefully. "...I just never knew how much...if her mother were still here, I'm certain she'd know what to do..." He rubbed his wrinkled face, a tired frown gracing his features as he continued to speak. "But I'm afraid there is only me here...you three have always caused me trouble now, haven't you?"
Saria laughed slightly. It was the first sound Link heard from her for a long time and he turned slightly towards her now clean and tidy appearance after they had each taken a bath and changed their tattered clothes. She was smiling, a weak but still warm gesture as she gazed at the man who had been the one to look after them since they were young. Sickness and accident had robbed them both of their families, a gruesome thing which affected not only them but many other families on Skyloft as well. But they all made it anyway because on this island they all were a big family somehow.
"I can't force you to visit the surface again, my children...but I'm afraid that you're the only ones who can bring Zelda back."
"We intend to." The youngsters called out at the same time. A bit surprised they exchanged a look, amused how they both came to the same conclusion this quickly. However it truly wasn't even a question.
"We'll bring her back." Saria repeated, smiling at the headmaster determined.
Gaepora glanced at the students as if was their proud father. If he had ever any doubts about how he had raised those children to the young adults they were slowly becoming then he certainly had none of them anymore. They were clever and brave. And ready to save and protect what they loved. He brushed his beard a few times, musing about what he could do help them. Although in the end he had to accept that he couldn't do much.
"Rest for tonight, you two. Tomorrow there is surely much to do."
"Thanks, headmaster...we appreciate it." The greenhead answered while Link did nothing but nod in agreement.
They still had a monster to hunt down.
Saria huffed deeply, staring at the graves of the people who had died long ago. The graveyard was a very quiet place. Peaceful like death itself where Skyloftians found their rest if their time had come to an end...she rarely visited this spot. Somewhere one of those carefully carved stone plates belonged to her parents. Just like one of them belonged to Link's.
Only Zelda was a regular visitor who made sure the grave of her mother was polished and bathed in flowers from a nearby island. The green haired girl barely remembered the illness which had haunted their home nearly ten years ago, a horrible time which had claimed many lives.
How come that Kukiel decided to play here?
"Found anything yet?" Link called out, his figure somewhere in the distance on the other side of the yard.
"No, not yet...what did the old man say again?"
The senior knight stared blankly into the air, trying to remember once more what they had been told some time ago. "Uh...well...a tree, right? A grave by the tree?"
Saria turned away from him and watched the old oak tree which grew towards the night sky. They had checked it already. There was nothing wrong with it, nothing hidden in the branches. They surely couldn't look beneath it. And the grave of the good old Barrel surely didn't hide any secrets. The man hated surprises when he was still alive. The young girl was at loss for words as she glanced at their surroundings, where had Kukiel gone to when she played here?
With a sigh she crouched down, she was tired. She wanted to sleep. After everything they had gone through today she thought that maybe it wouldn't be hard to find the little lost girl. They had never seen a monster anyway when they were children. But what if she was in danger while they fooled around? The Skyloftian would never forgive herself if that was the case.
"Man, I don't know." Link groaned as he reached her. "Here is nothing. No secret switch like in the temples or...or a secret path in the tree or...well, I don't know. But here is nothing." He waved around with his arms, a bit frustrated and exhausted after their long trip. "Nothing except graves, trees and this damn old wall you can't even see thanks to the ivy growing all over the place!"
Nonchalantly his friend blinked at the plant in front of her. As long as she remembered it grew up the stone wall behind the tree, hiding the cold grey behind a beautiful fresh green. She had never bothered to really look at it because the green mess was stubborn and grew all over the place, not only here but over everything else as well. Only as they were young she remembered how Link had attempted to climb it up a few times.
Her blue eyes scanned the wall lazily, following the leaves and their trail which only allowed a few bricks of the stone wall to peek through them. But suddenly she noticed that the grey was exchanged with a deep brown. The sudden disinterest turned into curiosity as she now lifted her head in alarm. Was there ever something else behind this curtain of vine?
Her friend was still frustrated, scoffing at the dirt beneath his boots. He was considering to just scream Kukiel's name all over the place until Saria started to tug and pull at his tunic. Confused he twisted his head towards her form, she was still crouching next to him but her right hand was pointing wildly towards the wall in front of them.
"Look, Link! There's a hole!"
Owlishly he blinked at the spot she was suggesting, not daring to believe his eyes. "You've got to be kidding me - did Kukiel crawl through that?"
"It's all we got, I mean, it's possible, right?" The greenhead stood up and approached the wall quickly, tugging and pulling at the vine before Link stopped her.
"Let me do that." He replied with ease as he pulled the sword out of its sheath.
The young girl stepped back and the senior knight did his work. He slashed the leaves away, cutting through the plant smoothly until slowly the green fell away. It revealed an old wooden gate which resembled the ones of the shacks they knew from the big square. The small hole at its feet was narrow and the wood foul and old. Link whistled lowly to himself that was certainly a secret neither of them knew even though they had lived here all their life.
Carefully he put his sword away. The gate was old, moldy and he feared that its surface would just crumble away beneath his finger. He angled himself skillfully in front of it, pushing and pulling at the gate until it budged and slowly moved towards the right. After a second of hesitation Saria joined him until they both did they best to reveal the secret behind the hidden gate.
"And?" Saria gasped, the time had worn the wood down. She could barely move it a centimeter even though she threw all her weight into it.
"A ladder." Link breathed. "It's a ladder."
They both came to a halt as there was enough space for them to squeeze through. The room was small and narrow with nothing but a gaping hole in it which leaded down. The sandy blond scratched his head. He had never seen anything there, not even while flying around. This corner of Skyloft had always been overgrown by vine even the edge was covered by it and...oh. His face lit up as his mind recalled the proud green curtain he always saw while riding on his crimson Loftwing.
Who would have expected that something was hiding behind it?
"Come on." He called out, the corner of lips curling into a light smile. His curiosity was awoken. Energy returning to tired limbs. Maybe the monster did exist. Maybe all those rumors were true? And with that thought in mind he already climbed the ladder down, leaving Saria no choice but to quickly follow him into the darkness of the unknown hole.
She nearly slipped once on the old ladder. The wood was rough beneath her touch and Saria found herself clinging to it a lot more than necessary. It was hard to believe that the tiny Kukiel made her way down here all alone. It was dark and barely lit by the moon and stars, she wondered when it would finally end until Link suddenly called out.
"Wow, here is an old footbridge!"
"What?" The greenhead hurried her steps, eager to see what he had discovered. What she finally saw with her own eyes was something she didn't expect at all. It resembled the old bridges they had built on one of the neighbor islands to connect the smaller scattered places with another. A bit bulky around the edges but robust and strong - she never thought there would be one beneath Skyloft.
"Isn't that amazing? Never knew here was one to begin with!" The sandy blond commented as he followed the path further, his gaze glued to the bridge beneath his feet.
"Me neither." Saria murmured as she quickly followed his lead. "Wait up; we can't just burst through this if there really is a monster."
Her friend merely laughed, a broad grin gracing his face as he turned his head back towards her. His bad mood was forgotten. The blue eyes she knew so well were twinkling in delight as he took in a deep breath, his laugh turning into low chuckles. "Oh come on, Sar. You can't really believe that there is going to-"
He was suddenly interrupted by a loud ear piercing scream.
Both of them tensed, their hearts leaping into their throats. Link whipped back around towards the path in front of them, his eyes wide and alerted. They both knew this voice very well. The tune high and jarring which could only belong to a very young child; one they had known since it was born. The senior knight was the first to react, in a flash he started running down the bridge not caring if the wood beneath him creaked in exhaustion.
Saria called out his name; it took her a bit longer before she chased after him because it could never be good idea to just jump into oblivion without thinking it through. Her friend, however, was already at the end of the path where an old shabby house stood all alone on the edge of the lower part of the island. He pulled his sword out of his sheath, throwing himself against the door with full force until it gave away and let him stumble into the house determined to fight off whatever had made the little Kukiel scream-
"Oh, no stop! Please, don't hurt me!"
The green haired girl finally reached the side of Link. Gasping for air as she blinked puzzled at his blank expression. The gritted teeth, the glaring eyes had disappeared in a mere second. Instead his mouth was wide open, the deep blue eyes stuck to what he had discovered. They stood in the middle of a narrow room, candle light filling it with a soft light. And somehow the blond had lost all his determination in a blink of an eye. Only as Saria finally dared to look what he had been staring at she found herself choking on nothing but air.
"What in the-"
"Oh goodness! I know how bad this must look to you...but, b-but I assure you I mean no harm! We...we were just playing..."
Its form was tall and broad. Resembling Gaepora in that case, even though she was certain it...he? was even taller than their headmaster and Master Ergus altogether. The bright yellow wings which were graced with spikes clashed with his skin which had a sickly shade of purple. But nevertheless, the strangest thing was surely the pair of crimson horns on his head. Although the long, sharp nails which resembled dangerous claws was something to wonder about as well...what in Hylia's name was that!
"...oh dear..." It breathed. "...p-perhaps an explanation is in order?"
And, and it was talking!
Link slowly lowered his sword. Bewilderment was written across his face as he hesitated to do anything else. Should he attack? It was a monster, wasn't it? Not only that, it was the monster, right? But it talked, and it begged him not to hurt him and- the blond could feel his head fuming as all gears started to reel and move. He was overchallenged. Yes, definitely. Overchallenged.
"My name is Batreaux." It offered clumsily, folding both hands over another as if it tried to hide the sharp nails from their view. "I...we were just..."
Their heads turned towards the young Kukiel who did nothing but giggle in delight. She clapped into her small hands running into the green haired girl who barely caught herself from falling.
"Did you come to play, too?"
"K-Kukiel...you are...he is...what?" Saria searched for help in Link who did nothing but shake his head briefly. They were both lost.
"I...I'm certain how I look like must be terrifying... "The monster started to explain once more as their attention returned to his broad figure. "...but I am no threat at all...really...uh..."
"...Link?" His own name tumbled from his lips as if it was a question but to Batreaux it was more than he expected. The monster started to smile; the intimidating fangs twinkled in the warm candle light as he nodded eagerly. His hands played with another as he obviously stopped himself from offering his claw for a handshake. Instead he just tightened his grip on his fingers to keep them from shaking.
"Link, what for a pleasure meeting you."
"Uh...sure...I...I guess...?" The senior knight let his arms fall completely to his side. He was too dumbfounded to still raise his blade against a creature as...polite...as this guy here was. He did not expect the monster he had heard so much about as a child to be like this.
"Ah, the little Kukiel visits me often, you see?" Batreaux continued to explain nervously. "It is a delight to have her here but today we certainly lost track of time...it has become dark already and I didn't want her to wander around all alone outside." A weak laugh escaped him. "And I'm afraid if anyone would see me they would scream and run away."
"He is a really nice man!" Kukiel called out, tugging at Saria's tunic to gather her attention. "He always plays with me! And I can be as loud as I want! Please be nice to Mr. Bat..."
"N-no one said we wouldn't be..." The greenhead quickly said, throwing a glance over her shoulder to her friend. "...right?"
"Yeah..." Link agreed hesitantly. "...I guess."
"Oh would you please then take the little Kukiel home?" Batreaux asked; his tense figure slowly calming as he realized that the worst had been avoided.
"Sure..." The sandy blond started to say again. "...I guess."
"But I want to play some more..." Kukiel looked at her shoes disappointed, her lower lip trembling as Saria tried her best to smile despite the weird atmosphere.
"Oh, you can come back tomorrow for sure...I mean...maybe you shouldn't tell your mother exactly where you go to play...but...uh...you should always go home before it's dark. You mother is very worried about you, you know?"
The young child nodded a few times. Which was enough for Saria to be honest; she didn't know how to feel right now. Her head was empty, the sudden adrenaline kick from before drained her slowly but surely because its energy wasn't needed. And all those horror stories, rumors and tales were suddenly meaningless. It felt like a bubble just popped. A bubble filled with ideas, rumors and imaginations.
This monster was more polite than Groose for goodness sake!
"Let's get you home then..." Saria mumbled, pushing Kukiel lightly towards the exit. The senior knight dragged his numb feet to follow her, still staring at Batreaux with disbelieve. The monster on the other hand waved them goodbye, his fangs forcing his smile to get bigger which looked so strange with his narrow eyes and demonic wings. Link found himself waving back before they left Batreaux's home for good.
"Oh my, there she is!" Wryna cried out, lifting her daughter into the air. "Sweetie, you had me worried sick about you!"
Kukiel laughed and struggled in the arms of her mother as the woman planted one kiss after another on her face. "I was just playing, mommy!"
"Of course you were..." She agreed. "But not at night, sweetheart. You hear me?"
"Yes, mommy." Kukiel replied, hugging the brown haired woman around the neck as Wryna smiled and rubbed her small back. Her gaze landed on the two youngsters who still stood at her doorstep, both tired and emotionally exhausted. Although she didn't seem to notice the real cause behind it.
"I knew you two would find her. I was so silly to believe she was stolen by a monster."
"Yeah..." Saria and Link mumbled quietly. "...monster, huh?"
"Thank you so much, you two. I better take her to bed it's already so late...you should get rest as well." She suddenly laughed. "You look exhausted."
"We will." Saria smiled. But the moment Wryna closed her door it slipped from her lips. The youngsters stood before the house in silence, staring a hole into the wooden door before finally Link found the strength to raise his voice.
"What just happened?"
"I don't know."