Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda belongs to Nintendo. If I were making money and fame off my own legends, I might not have to borrow another. Skyward Sword fic set at the Knight Academy.
A Skyward Sword Fan Fiction by Shadsie
Karene wandered toward the Knight Academy bathroom with a towel and fresh clothes in the crook of her arm. It was early evening. She preferred to take her baths later in the evening but could not do so of late because someone in the Academy was a bath-hog. She had to get in there as soon as possible or the bath-hog would show up and she wouldn't get clean tonight. Someone had been in earlier this afternoon. She didn't know who. She hoped they'd cleaned up after themselves.
She sealed the door behind her and stripped down, breathing in the steam from the bath. Karene really liked the Academy's bathing-basin. It was big, so there was a lot of room in it to relax. She stepped in and did so promptly. The water was kept perpetually hot. It was on the second floor of the Academy, but somehow, they'd piped in water from some natural hot spring on the island, or had the pipes run through a furnace-system or something. Karene had never investigated it. The bath water was from a mineralized source. The minerals were supposed to be good for the skin and had an attractive turquoise-cyan tinge when pooled. It was like bathing in warm watercolor.
Karene took down her hair. It was so nice to be able to linger in here as long as she wanted. She had no studies to attend to. No one did. There was supposed to be a break in the class-schedule after the Wing Ceremony, anyway, but classes were suspended indefinitely until their missing students were found. Things had fallen apart since Zelda had gone missing. She was one of Karene's best friends – and the only one around the Academy to talk girl-stuff with. The Headmaster had been keeping everything surrounding the incident a secret and had been surprisingly calm for a man who's own daughter was in possible danger. Karene saw some cracks in his front when she met him in the halls. The old man was keeping his head together, but barely.
He seemed to have a lot of faith in Link, who was tasked with searching for her. That's really all the students and other residents of Skyloft knew – that Link had been given a special sword, had been buying a lot of travel-goods at the bazaar and that he was on and off the island at random. The last person at the Academy to see him was Pipit, who's said he'd seen Link yesterday afternoon in the plaza by the Goddess-statue grooming his loftwing. Pipit only made a note of it because it looked like Link was really paying attention to the fine back and neck feathers, wiping them down with a damp rag and a flea-comb for remlits - and the bird didn't appear to need it. Loftwings groomed themselves and rarely needed human attention in that area. A rider usually only needed to groom his bird if the animal had run into some kind of sticky or oily substance.
Groose had gone missing, too. Link had said something about him being alright when he'd last been in the Academy halls - "staying with some old lady" he knew. All that Karene knew was that Cawlin and Stritch and been quieter lately (though Cawlin still gave her disturbing leering looks) and that Pipit hadn't been having to keep them in line of late. Pipit… Karene sighed as she let herself sink down to her shoulders. She really wished Zelda would return soon, she needed a vote of confidence over whether or not she should say anything to her dutiful handsome knight in mustard-yellow. Pipit was one of the subjects of their girl-talk… him and Link. The full-fledged Skyloft Knights had been scanning the skies for signs of Zelda, too, but Link was the natural choice for an individual search-effort. His and Zelda's lovesickness for each other was obvious even if they told everyone they were just best friends.
If only, Karene thought, she was so sure that Pipit would return her feelings. She sometimes wondered if he was interested in girls at all. He seemed to be too married to the idea of "duty" to care about love, with girls, boys or anything else. Karene cupped her hands and filled them with water to douse her hair. She noticed something odd about the water.
"It's a little pink?" she asked herself.
She cupped another handful and let it drop into the steaming tub, examining it in the light.
"Well, that's odd."
She brought another handful up to her nose and sniffed it. It didn't smell like any perfumes. Zelda used a little rosewater in the bath sometimes, but she wasn't here and Karene didn't think even the reddest of roses would make the water tinted like this. Karene knew the pace of her feminine cycle, so she knew it wasn't that.
Someone once said that Headmaster Gaepora brought strange things, lotions and potions and the like into the bath. Then there was Instructor Owlan with his plant-experiments. Karene shivered. Men needed to learn to clean up after themselves.
"Come to think of it, it does look like someone poured a red potion in here," she groused, "but that's a health-drink. You're supposed to drink it, not bathe in it!"
Karene imagined one of the boys sitting back, enjoying a bottle of potion in the bath. She shook her head. That stuff wasn't the kind of stuff one "enjoyed" – it was a painkiller and a remedy, like taking a cough-medicine or a stomach-reliever – two things it also served as. It looked like blood and tasted little different – like "rusty mushrooms" is the way she'd describe it.
She was suddenly reminded of watercolors again. She'd not painted in some time. Yes, the tint of the water was just like what was left by a paint-laden brush swirled around in a glass jar of water. A memory came to her of watching Link, not long ago, paint one of his sculptures – the one he'd made representing his loftwing. He didn't use watercolor on wood – it required a more robust kind of paint, still water-based. Karene was saving up some rupees. She wanted to commission Link to make a carving of Pipit's loftwing so she could give it to him as a gift (and perhaps as an ice-breaker). She knew that Pipit was too poor to spend money on things like art… Link would probably do it for free, but he really deserved some money for that. His carvings really were very good.
Whatever was in the water was probably just some weird lotion or a bit of a spilled drink. Karene didn't think much of it. She finished washing herself, dried off, dressed, and went back to her dormitory to read a book.
The day after the next, she found something odd walking through the hall. A little white bit of trash by her boot caught her eye.
"We have trashcans!" she grumbled and she reached down to pick it up. "Eaaaguh!"
She immediately dropped the bit of garbage. "Gross! Gross! Gross!"
She gingerly picked it up again in two fingers, careful only to touch the edges. "Someone's hurt…" she gasped. The bit of trash was a bit of white bandage-material, covered in the deep wine-rust color of dried blood. The bandage unfurled, showing this blood along most of its length.
The young woman was about to seek one of the instructors to ask if they knew who had been hurt and if they were getting any kind of medical attention when she heard Pipit's scream. She dropped the bloody bandage and ran upstairs toward the bath.
There was Pipit outside the door, clad only in his pants. "Uh, Karene!" he yelped, a little bit of red rising to his pale skin. "What are you….uh..!"
Karene thought for a moment about admiring the view, but turned her gaze floorward. "Pipit! What are you doing? What's wrong?"
"The bath!" Pipit blurted out. "There's something wrong with the bath! Come take a look!"
Karene felt very odd going into the bath area with Pipit – and a half-naked Pipit at that. The moment she beheld what had gotten him so excited, all giggle-girl thoughts were abandoned.
"I'd come in for a bath and started getting ready when I took a look at the water and… well…"
The warm water of the bath had a watercolor tint. It was red.
"The water was fine last night," Karene said, "after the bath was cleaned, but the other evening, I noticed a weird pink tint to it. I thought someone was using a lotion or something. It wasn't as bad as this."
"This isn't a potion, Karene," Pipit said matter-of-factly. "This is blood."
"I found… out in the hall… I found a piece of bloody bandage. I wonder who's hurt…"
"Whoever it is, they've been sneaking into the bath. It looks like they don't want us to know," Pipit said, "but this is sloppy…. Leaving the bath like this."
The young people turned when they heard the Headmaster's hoot-like grunt behind them. "I will have the bath cleaned," he said. "It is possible that something got stuck in the pipes."
"What do you mean, an animal?" Karene asked. "Poor thing…"
"I don't think so," Pipit said, shaking his head.
"It will be taken care of," the Headmaster assured. "Go on. I'll have the bath cleaned and I'll fetch you to take your bath, Pipit."
The young man grabbed his clothes and exited, grumbling. Karene exited as well, noting the look of worry on their Headmaster's face.
The bath was cleaned and Pipit came and went. Late that evening, Headmaster Gaepora wandered over to the bath, clad in his bathrobe, carrying his back-scrubber and his little yellow rubber-loftwing, which he squeaked as he stepped through the door.
He stopped in his tracks. "I knew it," he sighed. The body in the tub was breathing, but asleep. The boy had probably been sneaking in here for baths and hiding his pain from everyone. He'd been sloppy of late for a reason.
"Such wounds…" Gaepora said as he rolled up the sleeves of his robe and bent down to lift Link up out of the water. Link stirred as he was touched. "What?" he asked tiredly.
His wounds were terrible. Link was gashed across the chest, had numerous burns that looked distinctly electrical to Gaepora if he was correct, and he was covered in dark bruises. Blood from the open wounds mingled with the bathwater in little pink streams over pale skin. The young man had wounds on his arms that had been stitched up – they'd looked like a self-done job. Bloody bandages lay atop the young man's clothes in a pile. Parts of the chainmail on the mail-tunic had been broken through.
"No, no, don't, don't!" Link protested. "Sorry I didn't remember to lock the door. Just leave me to my bath, I'm fine!"
"You most certainly are not fine, Link," Gaepora scolded. "What in the world happened to you?"
"The world below," Link answered.
"Come on, you're going to your room. I am going to fetch Owlan and we'll clean you up."
"I said I'm fine," Link growled. He found himself unwillingly lifted into Gaepora's arms.
"Are these burns on your backside? Terrible…"
Link winced, remembering the sensation of falling into live magma. The Headmaster was careful not to touch the burns. Why wasn't he standing? He was being carried like a sickly child and he was too weak and tired to even struggle. How long had he been asleep in the tub? Did he really bleed out that much? Mr. Gaepora was making such a fuss…
"Don't tell anyone…" he whispered. "I don't want to worry anyone."
"You're worrying me and you nearly scared Pipit out of his skin, leaving the bath a mess."
Link felt himself being wrapped in a towel. He briefly wondered if Fi might come to his defense, but his sword remained silent from where it lay with his clothes.
"I wanted you to find my daughter. I didn't want you to kill yourself."
"You know I'm…chosen…" Link struggled out, "Think it's my destiny."
Gaepora walked back to Link's dormitory, laid him out on his bed and began to examine him in earnest.
"Aich!" Link yelped. "Don't touch me there! That hurts!"
"Now you've got some life back into you. Now, if I get up and fetch Owlan or go down to the potion-makers' to get you something, are you going to stay put?"
Link sighed and closed his eyes.
"I don't think you will. You're going to try to get up and steal away, aren't you?"
"Of course I'm not. You know I'm not trained to fly at night and my loftwing doesn't have the gear for it."
Gaepora tucked a blanket up to Link's chin. "Zelda…" he sighed.
"She's safe," Link said. "I still… have things to do. She cannot come home right now. I can't explain it, but don't worry."
"You saw her?"
"Yes. She… there's a woman who is protecting her, a Sheikah…"
"A Sheikah you say?" At this, Gaepora's monobrow rose. The old man sighed in obvious relief.
"Don't you remember your lessons, boy? The Sheikah are the servants of the Goddess – her messengers! According to the old tales, they protect her chosen people. If a Sheikah is aiding her, my little Zelda… oh, this is auspicious! A sign of destiny perhaps even beyond that sword of yours! Are you sure it was a Sheikah?"
"She is strong, though when we first met, she was very cruel to me. Can you bring me my sword? I really… want her near."
"Of course, of course," Gaepora answered.
Link lay still and stared at his ceiling while the Headmaster retrieved his things from the bath. He returned shortly. "I am going to fetch Owlan to watch you, then head to apothecary's place. I don't think Bertie and Luv are going to like being awakened at this hour, but I fear you might be dying. They'll understand."
The man left quietly.
"Let myself get too damaged this time," Link mumbled to himself. "Should have taken more potions with me."
He heard the distinctive sound of Fi exiting the sword. She hovered over him.
"Master, I estimate that there is a 75% chance of your survival if you allow yourself to be attended to by your fellow humans. I estimate only a 30% chance of your survival if you try to soothe your wounds yourself."
"Point taken, Fi," Link moaned.
"An analysis of your surroundings indicates that the area is free of monsters. This is an excellent opportunity to replenish your strength."
She returned to the sword when Owlan entered, followed by Pipit.
"What is all the commotion about?" Pipit exclaimed. "Oh…Link..."
"Hey," Link said as cheerfully as he could muster, lifting his head.
Both he and Owlan gasped as Owlan rolled the blanket back to Link's waist.
"You know, Link," Pipit said, "You'll never become a knight if you go on like this. You've obviously treated some of these yourself. A true knight knows when to ask help of his fellow knights."
"Chew these," Owlan said flatly as he shoved leaves of some kind Link didn't recognize into his mouth. "They'll cut the pain. Pipit, hand me that thread over there, and the fresh bandages I brought."
"How did you do all this to yourself?" Pipit exclaimed. "What islands have you been going to out there in the great big sky?"
"Monsters…" Link said with a bloody cough.
"Sand," Owlan said as he put a rag to Link's mouth and examined what was coming out with his coughing. "You've been eating sand?"
"Complicated," Link replied. "More like… drowning in it. Complicated."
"You have signs of having had contact with electricity," Owlan observed.
"I've found some… interesting plants in the places I've been," Link joked, knowing the instructor's true passion.
"Zelda…" Pipit said sadly. "If this is what you've gotten yourself into searching for Zelda she might be…"
"Alive," Link answered for him. "She's alive." Another cough. A wince at Owlan touching him in a tender place. A moment taken to make sure the rest of the blanket on his bed was covering his modesty. "She just can't come home yet. I've got to continue to protect her…"
"Not right now, bucko!" Pipit said, holding him back with one hand. "You're no good to her dead."
"Pipit… I've got to tell you something…"
"It can wait," the senior said as the Headmaster came bursting through the door with the potion-lady from the bazaar, her arms laden with bottles.
The instructors and students of the Skyloft Knight Academy spent the next week worrying about Link. He was confined to his room by those that wished to make sure he rested. He gained strength and got perkier after a few days. He was sitting up in bed in clean bandages when Pipit came for a visit.
"Yeah," he confessed, "When you saw me grooming my loftwing, I was trying to get the blood off his feathers. I was riding him while hurt. I didn't want him to have any problems with flight. I'm sure you didn't see anything because his feathers are well… red. I'd thrown on a spare uniform-tunic before going out, so that's why you didn't see anything on me. I didn't want anyone to see anything and worry about me."
"Well, you failed miserably," Pipit replied. "By the time you'd tainted the bathwater, you were too out of it to realize your sloppiness."
"You could have died."
"I… am in a position in which I must keep a lot of secrets, Pipit."
"Are you sure this isn't too big for you, Link? Whatever you've gotten yourself wrapped up in?"
"I'm pretty sure that it's greater than me, or you, or all of us put together."
"Do you need help?"
At this, Link smiled. "I think I'm already getting it, Pipit. In fact, I think the best thing you can do for me now is to get me some pumpkin soup from the Lumpy Pumpkin. I'm feeling a mite hungry."
"Wait… I remember wanting to talk to you about something earlier, something important."
"Yeah, what was that?"
"Hand me my pouches."
Link fished around until he'd found what he was looking for. "Yeah, there's my wallet. Not sure there's enough to get me restocked on medicine, but I have enough…"
Link put a twenty-rupee piece into Pipit's hands. "What's this for?" the boy asked.
"That argument I overheard that one night, the one you were so embarrassed about… I… uh…" Link scratched the back of his neck nervously. "The housekeeper your mother hired was… me. Now, now, it only happened once and I didn't know the situation."
Pipit's jaw hung.
"I… kinda ran into the first house I saw with an open door when I had an angry remlit on my tail. It's not like I can't defend myself, I just feel bad hurting those things if I can avoid it. I worried I might hurt someone's pet, you know? Anyway, I ducked into the house and your mother begged me to help her clean up, so I was helpful and she slipped me twenty rupees. Now that I know the situation, you can have them back. Oh, and here's the price of the soup, too."
"I'll take the money for your soup, Link, but the twenty rupees? Keep them. Please. It's not your fault my mom doesn't know how to budget. You… you really need them more than I do. For potions."
"No, I feel bad for taking them."
"Payday for me is tonight, anyway. Someone's gotta make you take care of yourself."