The Blessings of Heaven
by Queenie Z
Screeching wildly in celebration, the imps paraded across Shinshu Field back towards their campsite, reviling in their stolen loot. Of course, these demons were never a very bright bunch, and they had no reason to think that the beautiful colored gems they hocked from some poor schmuck laying unconscious in a pond were in fact a form of currency that was useless in Nippon. To them, it was the biggest treasure they had ever come across, and they were so busy chattering amongst themselves over how rich they were going to be that they failed to notice the white wolf and green-clad warrior racing towards them from a nearby hilltop.
One of the imps, who was lovingly gazing at a green rupee as though it was the single most valuable treasure in the world, finally caught a glimpse of the two. When he recognized who they were - the sacred beast that had slain so many of his comrades and the guy they they robbed just a few hours prior - he pointed, screeching warnings to the others. Halting their march, they turned just in time to see one of their own being sliced in half by the warrior's blinding white blade before being engulfed by bright blue flames.
Screeching to a halt, Amaterasu growled ferociously at the remaining imps, who recoiled in fear at her presence. With an angry glare, Link pointed his sword towards the group.
"I'll give you all one chance," he said, "give me back my stuff."
For a moment, the imps remained silent, as if considering taking him up on the offer. However, one of them scoffed at the of surrender, lifting his shamisen high in the air and rushing towards them. Amaterasu barked, leaping at the imp and tackling it to the ground, sending Issun flying off of her head in the process.
Issun cried out, but his fear turned to relief when Navi swooped in and caught him, flying him out of harm's way as they watched the battle beneath them.
"Wow, thanks," sighed Issun, glancing up at Navi. "You know, you're pretty strong for someone so tiny! I like a woman who can carry me around...!"
Navi rolled her eyes. "You're unbelievable," she groaned.
Meanwhile, the imps had begun to gang up on Link and Amaterasu, but his sword and her brush were enough to keep them at bay. As Link swatted away his foes with the evil-repelling magic of the Master Sword, Amaterasu used her own divine powers to slice them in two and blow them away with gusts of wind. But as each of their comrades fell, the remaining demons' attacks only grew more vicious, and one was able to pull Link off of his ally's back.
He fell to the ground with an ungraceful thud, getting struck in the face by the imp before managing to skewer it with his weapon. Once it had disappeared in a plume of holy flame, he stood, readying his shield and using it to knock away the monsters trying to tug him back down.
Amaterasu, who had been busy purifying the demons' evil with a few good whacks from her divine instrument, noticed that they had begun to shift their focus to Link. Seeing that the boy was having trouble fending them off himself, she caught a glimpse of the torch one of the evil creatures carried and set a new plan into action. With her Celestial Brush, she made the flames leap from the torch, pierce through the crowd of imps, and engulf Link's blade.
He gaped, startled by the amazing powers the wolf showed - then, he grinned, using the flames on sword to repel the demons, setting a few of them on fire in the process. Then, while they were busy trying to put out the embers, he attacked, skillfully slicing them into ribbons and exterminating their evil presence.
Knowing they were no match for the goddess and her new friend, the last remaining imps opted to forget their treasures and flee. However, Amaterasu was not one to let evil get away so easily! With a few strokes of her brush, a massive bomb, much larger than the ones Link carried with him, blocked the fleeing monsters' path. Before they could react, it exploded, sending them flying back. Their spirits exorcised, they hit the ground and exploded into a beautiful blossom of flowers.
Breathing heavily, Link smiled brightly at his ally. "That was amazing!" he said, "You really are - "
He was suddenly blown to his backside by a gust of wind, which Amaterasu had summoned to extinguish his sword. Then, he watched as she stepped through the newborn flowers and scattered rupees, picked up the Ocarina of Time that the demons had dropped, and handed it to Link.
Link beamed once again and took it graciously. "You really are incredible, Amaterasu." He placed the instrument in his pouch and rose to his knees, scratching her neck and ears with both hands. "I can't thank you enough!"
With a happy bark, Amaterasu wagged her tail in delight. Then, she tilted her head up, watching Navi and Issun as they descended to greet them.
"You did great!" said Navi chipperly, "You two make a wonderful team!"
Issun broke free from Navi's grip and returned to his rightful spot on Amaterasu's forehead. "I've gotta admit," he said, "you were a lot cooler than I thought you'd be, Greenie! You're the real deal, cuttin' your way through evil with a holy sword like it was nothing!"
Link laughed. "Thanks, Issun." He touched the sprite's hat with his fingertip. "And thanks for letting me know what I was up against!"
Issun winced at his touch. "Hey, watch it! You tryin' to squash me, Long-Ears!?"
"Now that we've got the Ocarina back," said Navi, "we can go back to Hyrule! I wonder if that weird crack in the pond is still there?"
Amaterasu protested the idea of the two leaving right away by curling up beside Link and closing her eyes.
"Ammy?" Issun looked down at his companion, shrugged, and shook his head. "Well, looks like the boss says it's bedtime. And she was so eager to keep going earlier..."
Smiling warmly at the two, Link yawned. "Well, if the sun goddess says so," he said, rubbing at his face, "then I guess I can't say no, can I?"
"It's been a long day," said Navi, wriggling her way under her charge's hat, "if that portal's still there, we can leave in the morning." She glanced down. "Good night, Link."
"Good night." With Navi tucked safely in his hat, he laid down, resting his head on Amaterasu's soft fur. Surprisingly, she didn't seem to mind, making Issun scratch his head in confusion.
"Sheesh," he muttered, "you'd think the guy was her pup or somethin'." With that, he hopped down to the beast's neck and made a bed for himself out of her hair.
"Link, are you sure you have everything?" asked Navi, "If you forget something, we might not be able to come back and get it!"
Link sighed and rolled his eyes slightly, giving his partner a half smile. "Yes, Navi; I checked it three times." He turned, looking at the bright orange light that still glowed brightly at the bottom of the pond. If the portal was a two-way street like he and the others suspected, it would bring him back to the forests of Hyrule. He knew he couldn't afford to stay in Nippon for long - he had a job to do, after all - but, naturally, he felt slightly apprehensive at the idea of leaving his new friends behind. "Well... I guess this is goodbye, you guys..."
"Yeah, it's too bad," said Issun, "I kinda wanted to watch you and Ammy kick butt and take names some more!"
"It was a pretty neat adventure, wasn't it?" Navi landed on Link's bright golden bangs. "But we have our own world that's in trouble. Link's still got four more Sages to awaken, and we can't afford to lose any more time."
"Sounds like hard work." Issun began to bounce on Amaterasu's head excitedly. "But if you keep fighting like you did last night, that Ganondorf creep doesn't stand a chance!"
Link's face brightened somewhat at his words. "Thanks." He kneeled down so that he was at eye level with the other two. "I'll do my best - so you two need to as well, okay?" He moved a hand to scratch the wolf's neck. "I won't forget you, Amaterasu - and you too, Issun, even though you called me names."
Issun stopped bouncing and cleared his throat sheepishly. "Ah, well, if it makes any difference, I kinda do that with everybody. 'Specially Furball here!"
Amaterasu tilted her head up, giving Issun a slight look. Then, she backed away from Link's touch and materialized one of her holy rosaries; a ring of green, curved jewels emanating sacred light. Once it landed on the ground, she took one of the jewels in her teeth, yanked it away from the others, and offered it to Link.
The boy blinked, then took it hesitantly. "...Is this for me? But, isn't that one of your weapons?"
With a scoff, Issun waved his tiny hand around flippantly. "Don't worry, she's got plenty more where that came from." He peered over to take a better look at the jewel. "That's something we call a magatama. They say it's a symbol of good fortune." He grinned. "Guess Ammy's wishing you luck on your journey, too, Greenie!"
"It's teeming with holy magic," added Navi, "so maybe it'll protect you from the monsters back home, too!"
Looking down at the magatama, Link closed his eyes. "I'll keep it close, then. Thank you, Amaterasu, for everything."
Amaterasu simply put her rosary away and glanced towards the pond. Link followed her gaze, then smiled sadly.
"...We need to get going, Navi." He placed Amaterasu's gift in his pouch and stood. "I hope I'll get to see you guys again someday."
With that, he and Navi turned towards the pond. Then, with a deep breath, he jumped, with his fairy following close behind. As they fell into the bright light, Issun called out to them.
"Take care of yourself, Long-Ears!" he cried, "And you too, lady!"
A moment later, the two visitors were nowhere to be seen. Amaterasu approached the pond; then, satisfied that they seemed to make it back safely, she called upon the powers of Yomigami, the god of Rejuvenation, to repair the crack and seal the doorway between worlds shut.
It was a surprise detour that neither Link nor Navi would forget; however, it did not stop them from continuing their more important quest to save Hyrule from Ganondorf's reign of terror. Having noticed the sinister ring of fire surrounding Death Mountain's crater, Navi suggested that they continue their search there.
Unfortunately for them, the path to Death Mountain had become blocked by a landslide from the now constantly active volcano, and though the guards and people of the village were working to clear it away, their work lasted well into the night. This left Link and Navi stranded in Kakariko Village; though, thankfully, the house Impa had opened up to the public had a bed for them to use and food for them to eat, allowing Link to catch up on the rest he'd so sorely lacked since his awakening in the Temple of Light.
He hesitantly rose out of bed the following morning, not particularly wanting to re-embark on his long and arduous quest when he could just sleep in. However, the knowledge that the fate of his world hung in the balance allowed him to sit up and rub the sleep away from his eyes. Peeking out from under his hat, Navi greeted him cheerfully.
"Rise and shine, Link!"
Link groaned in response. "Morning Navi," he mumbled, reaching down to pick up the boots he had laid by the beside and slipping them onto his feet.
"Something wrong?" The fairy flew down to meet Link at eye level. "You seem grumpy."
"I do?" He glanced at her, then shook his head and grabbed his gloves. "...I dunno. I guess I just wanted to be able to sleep a little longer..."
Navi chuckled. "You always do," she said, fluttering down to the pouch he'd placed on the floor. "You ought to have some of those nuts you bought yesterday for breakfast - maybe that will perk you up!"
"Yeah, I guess." He took the pouch and began fishing through it. However, before he could find his breakfast, his eyes widened in realization, and he pulled out the green magatama instead, turning it over in his hands. Amaterasu's charm...
"...You miss them, don't you?"
He nodded. "I had a feeling she was trying to tell me something," he said, "that I should have faith during all of this. But I... I don't really know what she meant by that." His face fell sadly. "I wish she could have told me more..."
Suddenly, the light from the magatama grew brighter, and it lifted itself from Link's palms. Surprised, he and Navi watched the gem, listening as a warm, motherly voice began to speak.
"Brave Link," it began, "Hero of the distant land of Hyrule... our meeting was but a brief one, but I am glad that the tides of fate were able to bring us together."
Link was stunned. "Amaterasu...?"
The voice - doubtlessly the sun goddess' - continued. "You asked me whether I could answer the questions you had concerning your destiny. Sadly, in my current incarnation, I could not give you such an answer, so I have transferred my thoughts and prayers to this magatama. I hope that it will provide you with the comfort you seek.
"I cannot claim to speak for the gods of your world, but after our meeting, I can say this for certain: you, Link, have been blessed, not cursed, and the path you walk is one that will one day lead to glory. The path of the Hero of Time - indeed, the path of all heroes - is one wrought with suffering and strife. However, you need not despair, because that strife will only serve to mold you into the man you were always meant to be; a man of bountiful courage and endless love.
"I could sense greatness in you from the moment we met. Your gods have chosen Their champion well, and I could feel Their love for you during the time we spent together; perhaps it was even They who arranged for us to meet. The journey ahead of you will be difficult, but you must have faith, in your gods as well as yourself, and in the end it will all be worth it.
"Grow strong, Link. See to it that goodness triumphs over the darkness, and I will pray that the love of your gods and all of the blessings of Heaven reach you."
With that, the magatama's glow subsided, and it slowly landed back in Link's palms. Speechless, the Hero could only stare in awe, before finally clenching his eyes shut as he tried to stop tears from leaving them.
"Amaterasu..." He brought the jewel close to his chest and sniffled.
"Link?" Navi flew closer to make sure he was okay. However, after another moment, he opened his eyes, flashing a tearful, heartfelt grin at her.
"Maybe she's right," he said, holding out a hand for his friend to rest on, "maybe it will all be worth it." He chuckled. "I mean, she's a goddess... she would know, right?"
The fairy nodded. "That's right. So let's try to be strong - for Amaterasu's sake."
"Mm!" Standing, Link took one last look at the magatama; then, removing one of the laces tying the neck of his undershirt, he looped it through the hole in the jewel and tied it around his neck, tucking it under the collar of his tunic. "Breakfast can wait - let's go see if they've opened the gate to the mountain yet!"
"What!?" Navi flew into his face. "Look, just because you've been inspired doesn't mean you can skip breakfast! You are not leaving this house until you do!"
"But, Navi - "
"No 'but's, Link!"
He sighed. "All right, all right..." He took the bug of nuts from his pouch and began to munch on them. Then, he turned to Navi once more.
"Hey, Navi," he said, "Do you think if I offer a prayer to the sun, she'll hear it?"
"Yeah. I'll try it." He placed another few nuts in his mouth, glad that he would at least have the chance to thank her for giving him the faith he had so desperately needed.
"...Hey, Ammy," said Issun in an uncharacteristically pensive manner, "why'd you go and shut that portal, anyway? I don't think we're gonna see those guys again without it."
Walking briskly across the frozen rivers of Kamui, Amaterasu turned her gaze upwards, a rather serious look gracing her face.
"Yeah, I guess you had your reasons," continued the sprite, "they belong in that Hyrule place - but you seemed to like Greenie a whole lot." He snickered a little. "Heck, you practically adopted him - that's not something you do with just anyone!"
The wolf stopped in her tracks when they reached a patch of solid ground, then sat on her hind legs. When Issun got a better look at her eyes, they seemed to explain everything.
"...You felt sorry for him," he said, "didn't you? I mean, having to go out and fight monsters, saving the world - that's a lot to shove on to a little guy like him." He patted her nose with his tiny hand. "You big softie! I guess they really mean it when they call you 'mother to us all'...!"
Satisfied that he finally seemed to get it, Amaterasu turned her head in the direction of Shinshu Field behind them. Then, to Issun's surprise, she bowed her head and shut her eyes.
"Whoa, Ammy," he said, "are you... praying?"