ShiningwingX: Greetings all ye wonderful readers. Here we are again with the first true chapter of Trials of the Heart: Angel's Call! I had to go through and edit and re-edit this thing quite a bit because for some reason it didn't want to come out right for a while. Originally, this chapter was much longer than it is now… but I noticed that half way through it really shifted gears and I figured it would be easier to just split it in two (I know… I do that a lot).
What that essentially means is that I was able to finish chapter II much quicker than I thought… because I'd already basically written it. Even after that though I still had to extensively edit this chapter because I kept getting those oh-so pesky new ideas and inspirations as I went along. I think both this chapter and the next will be much better because of it though.
So with that, I hope you all enjoy this latest chapter. I'll be getting to work on Chapter III very soon.
Drifting – Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy VIII Soundtrack)
Nara – E.S. Posthumous
Resurging of Kakariko Village – Koji Kondo (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Soundtrack)
For Originz – Kevin MacLeod
Chapter I: A Home Within the Trees
Awareness finally begins to return to me once more, drawing my attention to the warmth surrounding my body from all around. For a brief instant, I am confused as to where I am before conciousness' coaxing hand restores the memories left behind during my slumber. A faint glow flickers across my closed eyes, rousing me into the waking world once more and like a pair of heavy shutters, my eyelids slowly open to the dawning light.
This is my home… my bed.
My vision is blurry, and so I lay still for a moment, blinking my tired eyes and allowing it to come into focus. Images swirl with innumerable shades of brown before me, dancing upon the circular ceiling before slowly receding into their true, ring-like forms. My fingers twitch as my body struggles to match the level of awareness my mind has, and my pointed ears pick up the faint twittering of a myriad birds in the distance. A few seconds later, reality finally sets in, and I awkwardly push myself up from the soft pelt upon which I lay, settling myself into a sitting position.
My hand immediately shoots to my forehead.
My palm crashes against my brow with an impact that might have sent my body reeling back onto the mattress where it not for the counterforce borne of my upper body doubling forward at that very same instant. My fingers and palm clench against my temples as a searing pain pulses within my skull. My teeth clinch tightly behind my lips as a million images flash through my mind all at once, forcing their way relentlessly to the forefront of my thoughts. Through the pain, the events that I had witnessed during my slumber come crashing through my mind once more like a charging marosk. I remember everything almost instantly: The strange lights, the two Hylians and their woeful tale, the way they had opened a rift into the river of time itself… and my own feelings during that strange vision. All of it… restored in an instant like the reigniting ashes of an extinguished flame.
But… that was merely a dream… was it not?
The pain, and the vivid remembrance of what I'd seen during it suggest otherwise. My hand remains fixed firmly against my skull as if clawing desperately for purchase upon the cliffs of my mind, as I try in vain to gain control over these memories, as well as the fiery pain that accompanies them.
Then, almost as quickly as it came, the pain fades into nothingness. A dull throb is all that remains of the burning sensation that had all but consumed my focus. Yet the memories remain. As if an invisible hand had branded my skull with its permanent mark, I remember everything that had occurred whilst I slept.
"Sità… ves dível?" I groan aloud, though I expect no answer to come.
I sit in silence for a moment, my head continuing to rest within my shaky palm. Little by little the remainder of the pain slowly vanishes, and I express my relief for this at the end of a long sigh. I remain still for some time, pondering the images that continue to swim through the rivers of my mind… wondering what they might mean. It is clear to me that the events I'd witnessed as I slept hold much more significance than a meaningless dream. Truly, no mere dream could do something like this.
Should I speak to someone about this? Perhaps Saria could offer some insight on what I'd experienced. Or perhaps Kyun and Jix…
Kyun and Jix?
My thoughts grind to an abrupt halt the moment they fall upon the latter two names. A split second later, my eyes widen as I remember something else… something unrelated to the dream I'd just had. Kyun and Jix… I am to meet them today, and quite soon at that. I quickly shake my head, forcing away the last traces of dizziness, before throwing off the hide blanket that covers me as I stagger unsteadily to my feet. The persistent memories still plague my thoughts, but I force myself to focus on other things. Namely, my preparations for the day ahead.
I glance around my small abode, making sure that everything is in order. It is but a single room, small and circular, but perfect for a child such as I. A small window sits above the assembled hides that make up my bed, and from this a few rays of light stream in from outside, caressing the room with their glowing fingers. It is a simple room, and largely unfurnished but for the barest of necessities. The walls are rough and rigid, characterized by the bark they are made of, whilst the floor and ceiling are of a lighter shade, naturally adorned by a number of concentric circles. A simple, cylindrical table sits near my bed, away from the window, its form protruding from the wooden floor making it seem like little more than a simple stump within the hollowed trunk from which it protrudes. Two wooden surfaces jut from the walls in a parallel fashion, curving about the circular arc of my home. A few folded garments and small items rest upon them, stored away from the rest of the room until they are needed. Beneath these, two simple scabbards, one larger than the other, lean against the wall, each one clinging protectively to the weapons they hold.
It is not much, but to me, it is home.
I proceed to the aforementioned shelves and lighten their burden of a few of the garments, before returning to my bedside to change. I drop the items carelessly upon the table before relieving myself of the previous day's clothing, allowing it to settle into a pile at my feet.
A pair of white leggings spun from skulltula silk, unadorned save for the rhythmic stitching that maintains their shape and function, and a similarly tailored undershirt rest on top of the pile of unsoiled clothing. Beneath these lays a simple rough spun tunic, green in color, its laces scattering as they protrude from within the openings within the fabric. I dress quickly, pulling on the leggings and shirt first before reaching for the tunic, and allowing the short sleeved garment to slide easily over my head before corralling the laces together into a few secure knots. A pair of brown boots of fanellu leather rests against the curve of the nearby wall, and I slide these on one at a time, securing them in place upon my feet. A simple belt of similar make hangs nearby and I quickly take this in hand, pulling it from its place of rest and sliding it through the loops of my tunic, fastening it around my waist.
I make a quick mental note, going over everything I've gathered thus far before frowning. It feels as if I'm forgetting something… something important. The reason for this feeling becomes abundantly clear not a moment later as my thoughts turn to the item in question. I glance about for a moment before my eyes fall upon the familiar article – a green windsock cap of similar make to that of the tunic hugging my torso. I take this in hand before gathering up my hair and pulling the hat over my head, holding it in place as the long strands fall back into place within the fabric. After a few moments, I take up my sword and hunting knife from where they rest beneath the shelves and secure them to my belt before making my way to fur-lined portal that serves as the entrance and exit to my home. I brush the hide covering aside, allowing more of the morning light to stream into the room briefly as I duck beneath it, and step into the village beyond. My vision quickly adjusts to the change in lighting, as I scan the area around me.
Nieraki. The hidden village of the Kokiri.
My home rests upon its boundaries, and from the deck I have a fine view of the village. A large cluster of trees stands tall about the area, their trunks many times wider, and hundreds of times taller than even the tallest of the Forest Children. Their branches reach toward the heavens, blanketing the village beneath a thick umbrella of green, red, and violet leaves, and from these stream countless shining rays from Sálenòtenrie beyond. Their trunks extend beneath the lower foliage, where their roots lay buried deep within the earth below. It is from these that the village is formed. Each is hollowed out in a similar fashion to my own, forming the homes, shops, and other structures that the tribe uses day by day. Yet the trees, unaffected by their change in form and purpose, continue to bare both fruit and leaf, their lives sustained by the abundant magics permeating the forest. Tàreki they are called, and it is from these that our village is formed.
Fur coverings mark the entrances of each structure from above and below, and affixed to these are simple wooden decks similar to the one upon which I stand. A number of suspension bridges extend from each tree, creating an intricate web of walkways and tiers. Along these move a number of small bodies, and each one is accompanied by the glowing light of a Fairy. A network of long, slender vines extend from the homes and shops of the Kokiri, reaching downward to the bottom tier of the village. Their destination is always the same: a great wooden surface in the center of the village's bottom level, enclosed by an intricate web of violet and viridian vines.
This surface rests upon the zenith of a great trunk many times broader than any other tree in the village. No branches, leaves or fruits hang from this, and the surface is smooth and flat, without the jagged edges borne from a tree that might have been felled by a powerful wind – and indeed, no wind could possibly have felled so great a tree during its life. It is as if a god or towering giant had simply hewn away the massive tree's canopy, leaving only its colossal trunk as a reminder if its existence. And for all I know, that may very well have been. For among the Kokiri this great pillar in the center of their village is known as the Adouindoklel: The Trunk of the Third Father.
I grab hold of a wooden apparatus that hangs nearby, my fingers closing around a thick vine similar to that from which it hangs. Turning back toward the village, I plant my foot upon the railing of the deck, and leap from its edge. My arm shudders slightly as gravity pulls at my body, but my firm grip on the vine ensures that it does nothing more as I allow the apparatus to guide me steadily down to the surface of the Adouìndóklel.
A light thud announces the end of my descent as my boots meet the hard wood below. I look around, watching as a number of puerile forms move about, traveling to and from the great arboreal plane as they go about their business within the village. A percussive chorus of feet upon wood announces the arrival of those who come upon the vines, whilst the light footfalls of others swell and fade as they pass. Flitting shadows of those moving above, amidst the bridges adds to that of the swaying leaves of the canopy. Some pass by without notice whilst others nod or wave friendly greetings to one another – a few of these are directed at me, to which I return. The flickering of dozens of small, glowing figures adds to the rays of light that stream in from above, each one cast by the radiance of the Fairies who share our home. Mundane childlike voices meld with mature, resonating ones, creating an incomprehensible hum throughout the village.
"Kyun alren til foren…" I mutter to myself as I scan the area.
My ears twitch however as I hear a sound rise above the banter of the villagers, as if in answer to my comment. A short, high pitched whistle rings out, the sound focused and directed with me as the clear recipient. I turn in the direction from whence the sound came, and am immediately met with a familiar sight.
The eyes of a Kokirian boy are focused upon me as he descends to the Adouindoklel's surface in a similar fashion as I. He is slender in build, but is both strong of arm and agile, his abilities honed from many years of life in the forest. His long straight hair is of a deep brown hue similar to that of rich soil, bound in segments along its length to keep it from flying about. His dark green eyes shine with vigor, gleaming with life and energy but a faint scar mars his left cheek, making him appear significantly older than other Kokiri. Yet his disposition is anything but imposing. On the contrary, he almost seems to resonate with the aura of one who lives for no other purpose than to enjoy all that life brings.
A simple bow and quiver of arrows rests comfortably upon his back, and his attire is quite similar to my own. A green tunic, almost identical to the one I wear covers his upper body, though the cut is slightly different. It is longer, more loosely fitting than mine, the fabric fluttering behind the boy as he descends the line while the twin ends of a deep green fillet engage in a similar dance, flailing about his head like a pair of frenzied birds. His leggings and shirt are of a similar make to my own, but their fabric has been dyed a deep shade of brown to better blend with the trees and soil. A pair of boots identical to mine cover his feet, and these add another voice to the chorus of alighting bodies upon the Adouindoklel's surface.
A shimmering Fairy lands idly upon his shoulder, its body bathed in a bright orange light. From a distance it appears to be no more than a glowing ball, yet I know the form that lies beneath just as well as I know its partner. The silhouette of a young man resides within the light, his skin and flowing hair of a color identical to his glow. His only attire is a simple pair of leggings, sewn from what appear to be a number of small leaves. His face seems fixed in a constant smile, but the playful expression he wears belies the wealth of knowledge that shines within his grain-sized eyes.
"Sàlontikal, Link." The Kokirian boy greets, sauntering over to me from where he'd landed.
"Sàlontikal, Kyun." I reply, returning his smile with one of my own.
"Below live the Deku, who tend the seeds." He speaks, relinquishing our mother tongue.
"Above, the Kokiri, their home in the trees." I recite, doing the same.
The boy nods approvingly. "Your Hyrulean… much improved, Link."
His words are spoken slowly as he speaks in the less familiar language. I nod gratefully at his compliment, replying with one of my own. "Yours… also improved, Kyun."
"Has he?" The Fairy pipes up, his own words much more fluent than ours. "Strange… to me, he still sounds like a cerévorn trapped in erektòn vines."
"Umèlóste, Jix!" Kyun retorts, slipping back into Kokirian.
The Kokiri raises his left arm and delivers a half-hearted swat in the Fairy's direction. I am not certain if Kyun understood what he meant - It makes little sense to speak so of that creature - but he clearly heard the insult in the sprite's voice. Jix laughs mockingly as he takes to the air, deftly avoiding Kyun's attack by dipping beneath his arm. The orange Fairy's wings flutter excitedly behind him as he hovers in the air, mocking his brown haired companion. Kyun glares at him, but the Fairy simply smirks in response. I chuckle slightly at the comical exchange, thankful to finally have some distraction from the memories of the previous night.
For some months now, Kyun and I have been studying the language commonly spoken in kingdom that borders our sylvan home. Unlike the rest of the forest children, my blood is not one with the Kokiri, but the Hylian race that resides within that Kingdom. I know little of it, save the tales spoken by some of the older Kokiri, or brief mentions of it from the outsiders who stumble into the forest's embrace via Lost Gates. Said tales are often laced with superstition and mystery however, and the outsiders who enter never remain for long so I know not how true my limited knowledge is.
I was skeptical at first about how useful the language would be to me… indeed, I have lived within the forest for as long as I can remember, and have never been faced with an instance where such knowledge would have been helpful. However, it was Saria who convinced me that one day, such knowledge may indeed prove useful to me. Indeed, it would likely be more useful to me than it would for anyone else within the village due to my own Hylian blood. It was enough of a reason for me, and the smile she gave at my acquiescence only made it more worth it.
Kyun for his own part has always been secretive about his reason for wishing to learn the language as well. He is not of Hylian stock as I am, yet he was quick to appeal to Saria to teach him as well. Perhaps it is merely due to his uncharacteristic interest in the mysteries and intrigues that exist beyond the forest's boughs… but I suspect his eagerness more likely stems from his interest in Saria herself. I grin at the thought before my mind returns to the matter at hand – the very reason for my meeting with the russet haired Kokiri and his ochre companion.
"Cerévorn…" I muse, the name bringing another thought to my mind. "Aranalk waits?"
"Ah!" Kyun begins, dropping his facetious expression. "Jiras-lim. He should."
"Then should we not be going?" Jix replies, fluttering between the two of us. "The game will not hunt itself after all… unless you two would prefer another of Mido's tongue lashings instead."
"Mido's face… How will I green it today?" Kyun smirks at the prospect of irritating his hot blooded rival. He has always taken every opportunity to break his 'record'. The Kokiri nods however, and starts off toward the largest of the bridges leading away from the Adouindoklel.
I follow a few paces behind my companions, falling once more into deep thought. With the convivial exchange from two of my closest friends behind me, the memories from the night before are left to freely invade my mind once again. My head continues to swim with images of dancing lights, gleaming swords, and the fair visage of the woman – the princess – to whom my counterpart was so fond. Who was she? And who was he? If what I saw was indeed more than a simple dream, then what was it? And why is it revealed to me now?
"Link?" Kyun's voice snaps me from my reverie as his hand rests upon my shoulder. So immersed I was in my thoughts, that I did not realize that the Kokiri had slowed his pace, and now stands beside me.
"Si… sità?" The words instinctively escape my lips, and I slap my forehead before correcting myself. "What?"
The Kokirian boy frowns in unmasked concern. "I said 'You are well?'. You are… slowing."
"I…" I look ahead, and notice that I've barely moved more than a few paces from my original position. Jix's orange light glows from up ahead, already more than half way across the arched wooden bridge that leads to our destination.
"You act… strange Link." He says pointedly. "Distracted."
He's not wrong. My mind has been clouded ever since awakening from that odd dream. For some reason, no matter how I try I am unable to oust it from my thoughts. It continues to claw at my mind like a parasite eating way all else so that only its memory remains. I open my mouth to speak, but before I am able to do so, Jix chimes in, silencing my words before I've a chance to speak them.
"He likely had a restless sleep, that's all. It will fade if he stays active." Jix calls from where he hovers ahead of us. The diminutive fey does not realize how close to the truth he actually is. "You needn't worry so much about Link, Kyun. He is not the little seedling we took in all those years ago anymore, after all."
I smile gratefully in the fairy's direction. "Jix… is right. It is nothing."
Kyun's hand lingers where it is for a moment before the Kokiri nods, and moves to catch up with his orange hued companion. I follow suit, pushing the persistent thoughts to the back of my mind for now as we continue onward, crossing the bridge and making our way to the edge of the village. There would be time enough later to discuss what I'd seen with them. For now, I should focus on the Jiras-lim and fulfilling my duty as a member of the tribe.
Speaking in his articulate Hyrulean, Jix proceeds to instruct us further in the way of the language used by those who live outside the forest. Normally it is Saria who undertakes our tutelage, but her duties as the tribe's Valísved often keep her quite busy, and she is sometimes unable to make time for such things. However, Jix – either through request by Saria herself or through his own desire – seems to have taken this responsibility on himself today.
"We are Jiràsved." The fairy begins. "What is the Hyrulean word for this?"
"Jiràsved…" Kyun thinks for a moment before responding. "Hunter."
"Correct." Jix replies. Kyun grins proudly. "Next, Syldré. Our home. What is this?"
"F… forest?" I answer.
Jix is as fine a tutor as any, and as the lesson continues I cannot help but consider just how articulately the tiny fey speaks. He voices the words as effortlessly as if they were Kokirian, and I wonder just how many other languages the convivial sprite knows. No… not just languages, but other things besides… for it is sometimes easy to forget just how intelligent and wise these diminutive beings truly are. The Kokiri may be long lived, but like the trees they live in their lives are still finite. This is not so for those of the feyfolk however, as the light which surrounds them is the aura of life itself. As long as it glows they will never succumb to illness, nor will they perish from age. With such longevity, each of them surely must possess a wealth of knowledge that would envy even the wisest of mortals.
Within moments we reach the other side of the bridge, and find ourselves upon the apex of another arboreal pillar, similar but much smaller than that of the Adouindoklel. A section of the trunk's surface juts outward, beyond the boundaries of the supports designed to keep any hapless villagers from falling to the solid earth below. Kyun approaches this, coming to a stop at the treacherous, unprotected edge as he has many times before. The Kokiri cranes back his neck and raises his fingers to his lips before blowing sharply. A loud, simple tune rings with his breath as he whistles out into the forest.
Within seconds his call is answered, not with a corresponding whistle, but with a cacophony of sounds heralding an approach. Leaves rustle from within the thick greenery that stretches beyond our village and the groaning of strained wood reaches our ears from ahead – sounds produced by something far larger than any Kokiri. Powerful, thudding noises echo from below, each one separated by a long interval before the next rings out, louder and closer than those that came before.
The maestro of this sylvan chorus, a massive arboreal form, soon emerges from the surrounding trees. The creature is scarcely different from those that had concealed it only moments before, its body formed of a grey wood similar to many of theirs, and its canopy replete with thousands of swaying, scarlet leaves. But its shape is different. Its body is hunched forward, and it sways from side to side as it moves, causing the rays of Sàlenótenrie to dance upon its vibrant leaves. The top of its body is formed into a shape akin to a head, and the wood seems to bulge and warp around a small a thin, hollow gap, giving it the look of a mouth. Above this, a two small holes shine with a deep yellow light like a pair of glowing eyes staring out from within the being's wooden skull. Two massive, powerful limbs extend from its upper body like arms, each one ending in dozens of smaller finger-like branches and the bottom of its massive trunk is split into two, both halves moving independently in broad, lumbering motions as the creature approaches us.
"Anaralk… " Kyun says with a grin, as the cerévorn comes to a stop before us.
The towering being continues his slow, swaying motion as he turns his eyes downward to regard us. His mouth does not move, and yet his gaze alone conveys what words do not. The flash of his shimmering eyes, a greeting. A sway of his scarlet leaves, an expression of pleasantry. The crackle of his powerful branches, a question. For those with the eyes to see and ears to hear, the cerévorn can say so much with nary a word.
"Tavren Anaralk." Kyun greets the massive tree being. "Fàler fel kanìn ràn nel Syldré?"
The arboreal giant does not respond vocally, but again his actions say all. With a rustling of leaves, and creaking of wooden limbs, the cerévorn raises the right of his two massive arms and slowly brings it forward, to the terrace upon which Kyun stands. His innumerable fingers gradually shift and cluster together, closing all gaps within the branches and creating a surface solid enough for us to easily stand upon. Kyun turns, and beckons to me before taking the short leap onto the tree being's hand. I follow suit, kicking off from the terrace and landing lightly upon the dense branches of Anaralk's fingers.
Satisfied that we'd both crossed successfully, Jix glides casually through the air to join us. Anaralk watches us for a moment before shifting his branches once more. The countless fingers of the cerévorn's palm begin to grow and shrink at his will, curving and bending, closing around the three of us. Like delicate seeds protected by a pod, we are soon incased within Anaralk's powerful branches. It might have been dark within, but a few openings in the cerévorn's sylvan barrier, as well as Jix's own orange glow illuminate our surroundings and allow us to see.
A slight lurch causes Kyun and I to stagger briefly – a telling sign that the arboreal creature has started to move – and we quickly right ourselves as the massive sentient tree carries us into the forest. I turn my eyes from Kyun, to Jix and back again, as my mind turns to the conversation from earlier. Namely, the first words Jix had spoken when Kyun and I demonstrated our Hyrulean. I hadn't considered the fairy's words much at the time, but now, within Anaralk's protective grasp I cannot help but turn attention to them now.
"Cerévorn trapped in erektòn vines…?" I inquire, unable to contain the question.
Kyun turns his attention to me, and through the gloom I can see that the question must have been on his mind as well. The wooden pod seems to tremble slightly as the words are spoken, and for a moment I wonder if Aranalk had actually heard them. Jix's glow seems to brighten in humor for a moment before the fairy replies.
"You do not want to know…"
1. I wanted to add something to accentuate that what Link saw in his sleep was far more than just some strange dream. The headache and rush of memories he experienced are a side effect of that strange occurrence. It is, as he said like a 'branding' upon his mind.
2. What do you all think of this version of Nieraki? I wanted to do more to accentuate just how dangerous the forest is, even for those who live there. What I did was take the concept of Link's own house from Ocarina of Time and expand it to the entire village. The result is a tribal society that exists within the trees themselves, high above the forest floor.
3. I feel I can better explain the Kokirian language now that we've gotten more into it. In the original story, I briefly touched upon the Kokiran language but never really got into it. Here, I decided to change that. The Kokiri are completely isolated from Hyrule and any other society outside the forest. Ergo, I figured that, though somewhat complicated, it would make much more sense for them to possess their own language and NOT be as well versed in Hyrulean (English). Link's dialect will (eventually) improve, so don't worry. He won't be speaking like this forever.
4. Saria actually won't appear for another couple of chapters but I wanted to mention her some here to give some insight on how important she is both to Link and Kyun, and to the rest of the tribe.
5. In Kokirian, Jiras-lim translates to 'Hunt of Dawn'. This is important to know for the next chapter.
6. Anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings can probably tell that the Cerévorn are basically Ents. They are massive but gentle tree spirits whom the Kokiri communicate with and gain assistance from to travel from their village, to the forest floor and vice-versa. Though they possess mouths, they do not often speak, communicating instead through their movements and actions. I'll probably explain them in more detail on the Loresite.
I feel like this chapter kicks off the main story in a more consistent way than the original did. As opposed to just fading into consciousness in the Master Sword chamber with no real reason as to why it worked like it did (like I tried to do in the old story) this one begins much more believably with Link simply 'waking up' from his dream in the village he lives in. I always had some misgivings about how I never explained how Link just 'appeared' where and when he was supposed to. I'm hoping that the rest of the story will remain as consistent and evenly paced as this chapter has been.
With that, I don't really have much more to say about this one. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, and I'll begin work on Chapter III shortly so I can get the next one up as soon as possible.
Also I like reviews. Please give me some. Preferably with pudding.