"Who are you?"
"My name is not important," the elderly woman answered. Zelda could not stop staring at her braided hair, a straw-yellow color rather than white, in a braid so long she wondered if the aged woman had been growing it since she was born. "I am the guardian of this temple. Look up; do you not recognize it?"
Zelda did so, and felt strangely disoriented as she caught sight of the familiar symbols on the half-dome above her. "It's just like the entrance to the Statue of the Goddess…" She picked up her harp from the ground - miraculously, it had stayed intact without a scratch or even a popped string - and asked, "Am I…am I on the Surface?"
It took a moment for this information to sink in. "That…that thing…the black monster. It wasn't a dream?"
"No. I realize that this must be confusing and frightening for you…but we haven't time to talk here. Please, join me inside."
Zelda followed the old woman into the temple. It looked strangely familiar, even though she knew she could have never seen it before. "Why do we need to hurry? Will that thing come back? Why did it attack me?" Suddenly she remembered she hadn't been the only one attacked. "And Link! Ma'am, have you seen a young man about my age? He was flying next to me and…"
"All will be explained in time." The elderly Guardian led her to another door on the side of the temple. "If you go through here, you will find a path to the Skyview Temple." She reached into her robes and brought out a plain white dress. "Purify yourself in the spring at the far end, and pray to the Goddess. She will answer your questions."
Zelda took the dress, but didn't move. "I don't understand."
"I wouldn't expect you to remember anything yet. But once you reach the temple, it should start coming back to you. You must hurry - with each moment that passes, the danger grows greater."
"B-but, my friend…he's in danger too, then. I have to find him…"
"Your friend has been chosen by the Goddess to fulfill an important task, just as you yourself must do," the Guardian said. "You will meet eventually, but your paths must diverge for now. Go. The darkness is already creeping towards us."
Zelda left the temple, and the door closed behind her. Afraid and confused, she wrapped her harp in the white dress and hurried down the path.
She had not gone far when a strange feeling of foreboding grasped at her heart. She stopped and pricked up her ears; she could hear shuffling, grunting, a short distance behind her. The noise stopped a few moments after she did, and picked up again when she continued walking. It didn't sound at all like the black monster; but somehow she could tell it was nothing good. How many dangerous things were there on the Surface?
She glanced back and caught sight of a pack of hideous creatures with reddish-brown skin, their noses turned up like pigs with long knives in their hands. They realized she had seen them and charged forward with guttural cries.
Zelda fled along the path, bumped into something that squeaked and fell over, and stopped short at the end of a small plateau. She could see another plateau a few feet away, just far enough that she couldn't jump. A vine hung down from one of the trees, and after glancing back at the pursing monsters, she took hold of the vine and jumped.
She could only hold on with one hand, the other one carrying the dress and harp. As she came to the end of her swing, she lost her grip and fell. She landed on something soft that bounced and said, "Oof!"
"I'm so sorry," Zelda said to the thing, a rotund creature twice her size with a tiny beak and what looked like a mustache sprouting out of the sides. "I was trying to get away from those things…"
"Kyuu?" The creature turned and stared at the monsters. "I've never seen those before. They don't look friendly. Why are they chasing you?"
"I don't know," said Zelda, which was only partly true. "Please, sir, I'm looking for the Skyview Temple. Do you know where it is?
"The Temple?" he pointed behind her. "She that great tree over there? The Temple is right behind it." Staring down at her, he asked, "Do you need help? I can ask one of the Kikiwi to accompany you…"
"Thank you, sir, but I don't want to get anyone else into trouble," she said breathlessly. She made a small bow and hurried off, keeping to the high ground so that the little gang of goblins could not reach her.
Once at the spring, Zelda removed her clothing and took her time getting into the icy water. "I don't understand how this is going to help," she grumbled to no one, her teeth chattering. The tiny birds that seemed to be everywhere chirped in reply. "I hope someone isn't playing a big trick on me."
Once she had dunked herself completely in the water, she climbed out shivering and pulled the white dress over her head. It felt surprisingly warm and soft, and her teeth stopped chattering as she picked up the harp and walked to the altar. Kneeling, she bowed her head. "Great Goddess…please, tell me what my purpose is here."
The memory returned with the force of a bolt of lightning.
Not all of her memory. Not even most of it. But she remembered who she was.
The power took her breath away. Fleeting images passed by. A man with flaming hair. The earth rising into the air, taking her people, the ones she had created, into the air. Divine might, a shining sword. Two voices that shattered the air with war cries. The Will, the Might, the Knowledge of a Goddess.
The next thing she knew, Zelda was out of breath, staring unseeing at her hands pressed against the marble floor. Weak, thin hands that needed mortal blood to hold her up. A body that bled from the smallest cut. A fragile vessel that could be cracked open like an egg, her soul taken out, leaving just a thin shell.
This had been the plan, she remembered. She had put all her power into Skyloft and the trials that she needed to test her Chosen Hero. Reborn as a mortal, she would not attract as much attention from the dark side of the world. And yet…
I never realized what becoming a mortal would mean, she thought to herself. Completely naked, no clothing, no skin, just bare bones in the cold. Lost without my second sight. No sword, no weapon of any kind. Nothing standing between me and the hunger of the Demon Lord.
That last thought made her double over, panting and nauseous. Her entire body shook uncontrollably. What am I going to do, her mind cried. I've lost everything. I can't even stand up!
No, not everything. She still had her harp. She could not use it to fight, but maybe it would calm her down. She grasped it with trembling hands and ran her fingers over the strings. Its soft tune washed over her, calming her immediately. She quickened her fingers, pulled slightly harder and sharper, coaxing out a bolder sound.
She opened her mouth to sing, and nearly doubled over again. She could only make thin, reedy chirps like the birds, nothing like Hylia's voice of thunder. But she raised her voice higher, forced more air out of her lungs. The thin tone strengthened, echoing off the walls of the Temple. Zelda felt her strength return, and she rose to her feet.
She looked around with the eyes of one who has lost innocence. As Zelda, she had been sheltered from the horrors of the world. As Hylia, she had the might to fight them. Now she knew exactly what she was fighting, and that she alone had no defense against it.
Her mind turned to Link, and then her eyes filled with tears. He must be so worried…as Hylia, she hadn't considered the feelings of mortals. They were her children, to be taken care of and protected for their own good. Seeing the task laid out for the two of them, she felt shameful and guilty. Before, the trials were merely a means to make a mortal into a holy warrior. Now…she didn't want to put her friend through so much suffering. But it had to be done, for all their sakes…
She froze, a familiar coldness grasping at her heart. The Demon King's slave…he was here, though the magic sealing the door kept him out for now. Zelda briefly ran through what she remembered of Hylia's plan. Fi must have shown herself to Link by now…it was only a matter of time before he came here himself. The Demon King's slave was unpredictable and clever. Hylia sneered at his presence, but Zelda shrank from it.
Many of the doors to her memories still remained closed and locked. She would have to move to the next temple to open them. Quickly she played her harp again, a melody to send her away from this place and on to the next stage of her plan.