The Blessings of Heaven
by Queenie Z
Link squinted his eyes shut as he splashed cold water from a pond on his face, trying desperately to rid it of redness and tearful residue. He wiped his eyes and cheeks, silently save for a small sigh, and lowered his hands, looking into the forest canopy and the traces of the setting sun which shone through the leaves. He pondered something for a moment, but his thoughts were quickly interrupted by a small, concerned voice.
"Link," said Navi, fluttering over to his shoulder, "if you want to talk, I'm - "
He shook his head. "It's fine," he said before flashing the fairy a sad smile. "You heard what Saria said - it's her destiny to be a Sage." Then, he reached beside him and picked up his hat, replacing it on his head. "I just have to accept that, I guess."
"Hey," chided Link, holding out his hand for his fairy to rest upon, "don't worry about me. If I'm gonna awaken the other Sages and save everybody, I can't be sad all the time, can I?"
Navi sulked, her wings drooping slightly as she lowered herself onto his hand. "I just wish this wasn't so hard for you," she sighed. "You're still so young - it isn't fair that you have to go through all this!"
The young Hero's face fell at her words, his attempt at a cheerful facade cracking to reveal the sadness beneath. He looked down at the forest floor. "You're right," he said, "it's not fair. Rauru said it's all a part of the gods' plan to save the world." He shut his eyes, swallowing slightly before continuing. "But if the gods want to help everybody... why are They letting all these bad things happen to me and my friends?"
Finding herself at a loss for words, Navi opted to embrace Link's thumb instead. In her heart, she asked the same question; the Deku Tree had told her that the Golden Goddesses were benevolent and kind, so why would They let Their chosen one suffer like this? Why send an innocent young boy to do a warrior's job? Why would They -
Just then, a bright orange light appeared in the two's peripheral vision. They turned towards the pond, where a large, glowing crack had appeared at the bottom. Curious, Link hunched over the water to get a better look.
"Hey, Navi," he said with wide eyes, "what's that under the water?"
Navi flew above the water's surface, inspecting the odd fissure herself. "I have no idea" she replied, "but there's an awful lot of magical energy coming from it. I'd be careful if I were - "
She gasped when the crack suddenly split open, shaking the earth in a short but violent quake. The shaking threw Link off balance, and with a cry, he tumbled into the water before disappearing into the bright light.
"Link!" Navi looked to and fro, wondering what she should do. Then, she made up her mind - inhaling sharply, she dove into the water and followed Link through the hole to goddess-knows-where.
Far away from the forests of Hyrule, in a land just as rich in myth and legend, a divine beast ran undauntedly across the plains, breathing life into the earth with each step. The creature was headed north at a rushed pace, a fact which didn't settle well with the tiny sprite hidden away in her fur.
"Hey Ammy," squeaked Issun with an edge of annoyance, "you ever think about taking a break once in a while?"
Amaterasu paid no attention to his question and kept running.
"I mean, come on, kickin' that fox-headed wench's butt had to have tired you out a little, right?"
The beast continued to ignore Issun, causing him to roll his tiny eyes dramatically.
"Ammy, I'm beat!" he whined, "I know we gotta follow that dark cloud, but can't it wait until I get some shut-eye!?" He bounced around on her back in an attempt to get her attention. "Besides, it's almost dark, and goin' up to the north at night is crazy! You'll freeze to death if you don't wait for the sun to - "
Screeching to a halt, Amaterasu turned her head, giving him as incredulous a look as she could muster in her current form. When Issun realized his mistake, he stopped and slapped a palm to his face.
"Right," he muttered, "you're a sun goddess. That's kind of your thing, isn't it?"
Now that she had stopped focusing on her destination, Amaterasu's ears perked as she seemed to pick up on some strange presence. She narrowed her eyes, searching to and fro for - something. confused, Issun moved to the top of her head.
"What?" he asked, "What is it? You smell dinner or somethin'?"
In truth, the goddess had been disturbed by the sudden appearance of a noticeable amount of spiritual energy emanating just south of their current location. Though she could not quite place the nature of that energy - a fact which slightly worried her - she tuned in on the source and began rushing back from where she came.
Issun screeched, holding on to her fur for dear life as she sprinted. "Wait! Ammy, stop! Heel, girl, heel...!"
Amaterasu came to a sudden halt when she spotted a rowdy group of demonic imps gathering around Shinshu Field's mermaid spring. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, passing around a bag filled with all kinds of odd trinkets whilst taking turns batting away a blue ball of light who loudly protested their behavior.
"Thieves!" cried the light, who continued to fly into the imps' reach despite being slapped away every time, "You give those back right now, you... you...!"
A low, angry growl froze the demons in place. Slowly, they turned to see Amaterasu fixing her steely gaze on them, with Issun cheering her on from his perch on her neck.
"You tell 'em, Ammy!" he cried, "No smelly imp's gonna commit petty theft on your watch!"
In a flash, the wolf latched on to one of the imps, making it drop the bow and quiver it had been carrying and pulling it down to the ground. Then, with her holy rosary, she fired a torrent of her own spiritual energy into the demon's chest, purifying it in an instant. When the other imps saw their comrade's corpse burst into blossoms, they quaked; then, they fled in terror, dropping most of the gear they had taken but getting away with a bag of strange gemstones and something blue and shiny that the two couldn't catch more than a momentary glimpse of.
The ball of light, which Issun and Amaterasu could now see had wings, froze in the air, then slumped slightly in relief. However, she gasped when she caught another glimpse at the body floating face up in the water. "Oh, Goddesses! Link!" She flew over, grabbing the unconscious boy's collar and pulling with all of her might. "Link, wake up! Please...!"
Jumping into the spring, Amaterasu grabbed the boy's belt with her jaws and tugged him out of the water. Once he was laying entirely on the grass, she whined slightly and began to lick his face.
"That guy's out cold," mused Issun, "I think you're gonna have to do more than give him doggie kisses, Furball."
Agitated that the young man wasn't responding to her attempt to rouse him, Amaterasu opted for another plan. Leaping high into the air, she flopped right onto his belly, making his flying companion shriek in surprise. However, when water began sputtering out of his mouth, the boy in green started coughing and wheezing. Amaterasu, pleased that her second attempt had worked, sat on her hind legs, shook her fur dry, and began wagging her tail.
"Link!" cried the fairy, who rushed over to her partner's side, "Are you okay!?"
After another moment of coughing, Link turned to his friend. "Navi? What happened?" Catching sight of the unfamiliar landscape, he looked around frantically. "Where are we...!?"
"What, no thanks to my friend here!?" said Issun, "She just saved your life, Greenie!"
Navi and Link took a look at their saviors, and Link's mouth hung agape as he beheld the wolf with the flying, glowing disc on her back and blood red markings on her snow white fur and the tiny green ladybug that was jumping up and down on her nose. "...You saved me?"
"Uh-huh!" said Navi happily, "When you washed up here, a bunch of creepy monsters tried to take your stuff, but this wolf chased them away! And then it pulled you out of the water!"
Link's confused expression turned into one of relief and gratitude. "So that's what happened..." He smiled, leaning forward to place a hand on the wolf's head. "Thank you," he said, "you really helped me out. You're a good wolf, aren't you?"
Amaterasu's eyes closed as her tail began to wag even faster. Issun, however, jumped onto Link's hand and began to laugh.
"Heheh! I'll have you know, Greenie, that you were just saved by the great goddess Amaterasu!" He pointed a barely noticeable finger at Link. "And don't you ever forget it!"
"Goddess?" Link removed his hand in a slight panic. "You're really a goddess...?"
"I knew she wasn't an ordinary wolf - normal wolves don't have markings like that!" said Navi, "But the Great Deku Tree never told me about any wolf goddesses in Hyrule..."
"Hyrule? What the heck's a Hyrule?" Issun hopped onto the grass. "Is that where you washed up from, Long-Ears?"
Link frowned. "Stop calling me names!"
"Hey, I'm just calling 'em like I see 'em!" said the green sprite. "You've got long ears and a weird green hat, and your friend's not like any of my kind that I've ever seen!" He crossed his tiny arms behind his head. "You guys aren't from around here, that's for sure."
"And just where exactly is 'here'?" asked Navi huffily.
"Shinshu Field," answered Issun, "in the beautiful country of Nippon! Bet it's a whole lot cooler than whatever dump you came from, huh?"
"Hey!" Link glowered at the irritating little creature. "You take that back you... bug!"
"It's not 'bug', it's 'Issun'!" He scoffed. "Geez, can't you take a joke?"
Just then, something seemed to catch Amaterasu's eye, and she stood, walking over to Link and circling him curiously. She sniffed at him; first, his face, then the back of his left hand, then, finally, the hilt of the sword that had been strapped to his back. The young Hero tilted his head in confusion.
"Amaterasu?" he asked, "What is it?"
"She's all riled up about that weird sword of yours," said Issun.
"Well," suggested Navi, "if she really is a goddess, then maybe she senses the Master Sword's holy power." She giggled. "I think she knows you're special, Link!"
After inspecting the boy and his blade for a moment longer, Amaterasu's eyes sparkled knowingly, and she walked over to the bow the imps had dropped, taking it in her mouth and setting it down in Link's lap.
Link's mouth opened in realization. "Ah! That's right, my stuff!" He quickly stood, grabbing his adventure pouch off of the ground and hurriedly putting away his scattered gear. He began listing off his things as he found them. "Let's see, bomb bag, hookshot, potion, the other potion..." After a while, he reached the end of the trail; a few scattered green and blue rupees. He picked one up, realized that there was no wallet to put it back in, and swore to himself.
"Dammit!" he said between gritted teeth, "They must've taken my wallet." He turned around and gave Navi a sharp look. "And the Ocarina isn't here either!"
"Oh no!" said Navi, "Link, we need to find it - we can't leave it in the hands of those monsters!"
"Why not?" asked Issun, "I mean, it's just an ocarina, right? Can't you just buy a new one, or carve it out of a potato or something?"
"You don't understand," said Link, "the Ocarina of Time is important! We can't save Hyrule without it!" He sulked sadly and look away. "...Princess Zelda gave it to me. I can't just go back without it."
Issun bolted upright. "Whoa, a princess, eh? Is she cute?" He began bouncing up and down excitedly. "I bet she's a real babe, isn't she? Heheh - "
Suddenly, Navi swooped towards Issun, and in a feat of strength that surprised even Link, she grabbed him by his small cape and flew him up a few feet in the air.
"I've had just about enough of you!" she said angrily, "Link and I have a very important mission to accomplish! Everyone in our world is counting on us! So why don't you start being helpful for once and tell us where those monsters are hiding, huh!?"
Screeching, Issun began flailing his arms about. "Whoa, whoa, lady, put me down!" He wriggled around some more and turned to his partner. "Ammy! Make her put me down!"
With an irritated huff, Amaterasu gently took Issun in her mouth and put him down on the ground before looking at him expectantly.
"Okay, all right, I get the message," said Issun before turning back to the two newcomers. "Right, so, here's the thing - the guys who took your stuff are a bunch of demons that like to cause trouble around these parts. They may look scary, but in reality they're just a bunch of chumps. Since Ammy here cleansed the area of evil, they've probably gone underground, so finding 'em might be a little tricky."
"Then we'll just keeping looking until we do," said Link with determination as he checked his gear one last time. He turned to the wolf and smiled slightly. "Thank you for everything, Amaterasu. We can handle things from here on out."
Amaterasu seemed to disagree. Sternly, she approached Link, bit his belt, and yanked him down into a sitting position.
"H-Hey, what are you - "
He stopped, however, when she turned her attention to a nearby tree before moving her tail in a broad circle. Then, as if by magic, the tree began to sprout apples, which then fell to the ground. Amaterasu walked over, picked up one of the apples by its stem, and finally laid it in Link's lap, just as she had with the bow.
Taking the delicious looking fruit in his hands, Link stared in amazement. "Did you do that?"
"Of course she did! Like I told you, she's a goddess!" Issun looked back up at Amaterasu. "Sheesh, Ammy, when did you become such a mother hen?"
She simply yawned, ignoring Issun's question and laying down beside Link.
"She's right, Link," said Navi, "you ought to eat something before you go running off looking for monsters."
He looked at Navi, then at the resting wolf beside him, then finally at the apple in his hands. "Well," Link said, "I guess I am a little hungry." Then, he took a bite, widening his eyes in delight when it turned out to be the best apple he had ever tasted.
The group's snack break ended up lasting well into the evening. Curious about this beautiful world of Nippon they had winded up in, Link and Navi listened as Issun told them of all the sights - of Kamiki, the home of the great tree Konohana, of Kusa, where the divine wind blows, and of Sei-an City, the busy capital of the country. He also told them of how Amaterasu had been using her powers to cleanse their world of evil and help those in need - with a little help from the great Issun, of course.
In return, Link and Navi told the other two of their homeland, Hyrule. They spoke of the forest where they came from, of Castle Town and Kakariko, and of all of the sights they had seen in their own journey to save the land. Though Issun had a hard time believing that such a happy-go-lucky, gentle-natured kid as Link would have been chosen to battle evil with a holy sword, a stern glare from Navi and the threat of what she could do shut him up soon enough.
However, Amaterasu remained silent during this little cultural exchange, though not for a lack of paying attention. She listened as Navi proudly declared young Link the Hero of Time who was destined to save all of Hyrule from a great and terrible evil, and though she did not show it, the fact that the boy carried such a great and heavy burden on his shoulders struck a chord with her. Her initial impression of him turned out to be quite accurate; he had been blessed by the gods of his world, and his destiny was one of greatness indeed.
Eventually, Navi and Issun grew too tired to continue their discussion and fell asleep on some nearby toadstools, leaving Amaterasu and Link alone as the moon began to rise in the night skies of Shinshu Field. Thinking the wolf to be asleep, Link absently scratched her head as he looked up at the stars, various thoughts running through his head. Somehow, he'd managed to stumble upon this amazing new world and befriend a kind goddess all in the span of a few short hours; the thought was exciting enough that, for a split second, he dreaded returning to Hyrule and the burden of being the Hero that awaited him there.
He shook his head, silently cursing himself for thinking such things. How could he be so selfish? He was Hyrule's only hope, and everyone was counting on him. He had to be the Hero of Time, whether he wanted to be or not. And yet, when he thought of the heartbreak and suffering that would come with it...
"Mido was right," he muttered quietly to himself, "I really am a wimp."
At this, Amaterasu finally stirred, lifting her head and looking at the boy inquisitively. This startled Link slightly, and he chuckled sheepishly as he continued scratching behind her ears.
"Did I wake you up?" he said in a hushed voice, "I'm sorry."
Disregarding his apology, she continued to stare in expectation. Realizing that she'd heard his remark, Link scratched his nose in embarrassment with his free hand.
"Don't worry about me," he said, "I'm just being weird right now."
But Amaterasu would not take that for an answer. She sat upright, her head turned towards him, signaling that she was ready to listen.
The young Hero blinked - he hadn't expected her to be so interested in what he had to say. After a moment of thought, he sighed. "...Well," he said, "you're a goddess. Maybe you can help me figure things out."
He looked down at his lap as he began. "I'm supposed to be the Hero of Time who will save the world from Ganondorf's evil. That's what everyone's been telling me. And I was able to wield the Master Sword and awaken the Sage of Forest, so I guess it has to be true." He quickly glanced back at Amaterasu. "Now, don't get me wrong, I want to help everyone - I want to stop Ganondorf and make him pay for what he's done." His expression turned into one of deep sadness. "...But it's so hard. I was gone for seven whole years after taking the Master Sword, and when I came back, everything had changed. I lost my best friend, no one back home recognizes me... I don't even know where Princess Zelda is, or even if she's still alive."
Amaterasu's ears fell flat, and Link could see the sadness and sympathy in her eyes. He shut his own eyes and continued.
"I know the gods in my world only want what's best for everybody," he swallowed, "but, if that's true... why does being the Hero have to hurt so much? How come bad things keep happening to me and my friends?" He wiped at his face with a free hand. "Sometimes, I think that maybe They don't really care what happens to me."
With a small whine, Amaterasu placed her front legs on Link's thighs, then lowered her head into his lap. Though the face of her current form could not properly show it, inside, the great goddess was crushed. To see one so young, so blessed and destined for glory, doubting himself and losing his faith... though she knew she could not speak for the gods of Hyrule, she knew she needed some way to restore his hope, for his own sake and that of his world.
She gazed up at him, and when they met eyes, Link was suddenly overcome with an inexplicable feeling of peace. Even he could see that the wolf goddess was a loving and caring one; she understood, and she was trying her best to tell him something.
Link recited the words that had entered his mind. "Have... faith..." He flashed a small grin at her. "Is that what you're trying to tell me, Amaterasu?"
Her tail began to wag in affirmation, causing Link's smile to grow. However, his feelings of gratitude were interrupted when Amaterasu suddenly lept out of his lap and began growling towards the distance.
"What is it?" asked Link, his hand on the hilt of the Master Sword, "More monsters?"
He saw a torch being carried in the distance by a small group of loud, obnoxious creatures who emitted a distinctly evil energy that both Link and Amaterasu were easily able to sense. When he saw one of the creatures tossing around a bunch of rupees like confetti, he gasped slightly.
"That's got to be my wallet," he said before rushing over to where the two sprites lay sleeping. "Navi, Issun, wake up!"
Navi instantly startled awake, while Issun lazily yawned and stretched his arms out. "What," he asked, "is it morning already?"
"We found the demons who took the Ocarina," he said, glancing back at the line of imps making their way towards Agata Forest.
"Already?" Issun hopped upright and took a look. "...Wow, they sure aren't subtle about much, are they?"
Amaterasu headed back to the others, and with a resolute expression, she scooped Issun onto her nose and took Link's belt in her teeth again - this time, however, she used her strength to toss him in the air, allowing him to land clumsily on the reflector. After getting his bearings straight, Link looked down at her.
"You want me to ride on your back?" he asked, "Are you sure you can carry me?"
Issun simply laughed. "Don't worry, Greenie, this isn't the first time she's let somebody hitch a ride!" He called back to Navi. "Hey, lady, we're gonna go get that important ocarina of yours back! Wanna come with?"
"I go where Link goes," Navi said curtly as she hovered over her charge's hat. "Let's get them, Link!"
Link nodded. Then, with a confident smile, he drew the Master Sword as Amaterasu took off at a blinding speed.