May 2, 2019
Lost Woods Present…
Link could feel his head spinning. He had lost a lot of blood, and even under the guidance of Aryl, the Lost Woods maze was quite frankly an annoying place to trek. The annoyance was amplified by Link’s moribund condition.
“How much further Aryl? I am starting to black out,” Link asked as he made his way through the maze.
“We are almost there!” Aryl replied.
“That’s what you said an hour ago!”
“I know, I know but this time I am telling the truth: we are almost there.”
“I won’t survive another hour like this, Aryl.”
Silence was the only reply he got from the Fairy. In truth the warmer climate in the forest and his low levels of energy were tempting him to just lay down, give up, and fall asleep. Yet he resisted the urge, knowing that a nap would turn into an eternal slumber from which he wouldn’t return.
“We are here!” Aryl exclaimed joyfully.
Link squinted with his one good eye, and he was able to make out the entrance of the cave that led to the fountain. He had been here before many times but the snow and his concussed state of being made the cave seem like a foreign place to him.
As soon as his boots stepped onto the elaborate white marble tiles, the temperature of the environment seemed to rise to that of a warm pleasant summer. He could see the bright healing fairies a few meters ahead of him, dancing on the round pool of pure crystalline water.
The water itself was only ankle deep, and warm to the touch. Link removed his shield and equipment, then took off his Kokiri garb and the Zora tunic he wore as an under shirt. Lastly he removed his boots before entering the pool.
The water felt as warm as a Goron hot spring. As he made his way towards the middle of the pool a sudden weariness took over him, and before realizing it he was laying down staring at the ceiling. The warm water caressed the back of his head and body. His eyes closed as if under a spell and with a sudden blinding, yet warm glow he felt himself drifting into sleep.
The soft sound of rippling water woke him up, and as he opened his eyes he realized that he had indeed fallen asleep inside the fairy fountain. As he stood he also he realized that he felt completely fine, in fact better than he had in years.
He touched his face where the swelling and broken cheekbone had once been and he had nothing. He could trace a horizontal scar on top of his cheek bone, but other than that he was as good as new. The fairies had done their work, and his breathing was back to normal as his rib cage had healed.
“Ahhh! And so Link the Hero of Sleep comes back to the real world!” Aryl’s tiny voice boomed across the fountain.
“Oh I have never slept so well in my life.”
“I believe it, you slept for more than half a day, it is midnight already,” Aryl replied.
“Yes, my Saria is probably worried to death at this point.”
“You are right. Let me dress up and we will get going,” Link replied.
After dressing up, they immediately left the cave and headed for Kokiri Village. It was snowing again but it was falling lightly this time. Also with Link completely healed the traversal felt like a pleasant stroll in comparison to their journey the night before.
As they approached Kokiri Village Link began to appreciate the niceties of the Deku Sprout’s growing power. It was snowing and the ground and the trees were covered in a blanket of pure white snow, and yet there was green grass and every tree was full of green leaves. It was a surreal scenery, the magic of winter and the liveliness of Summer and Spring all in one place. Even the fireflies were up to their usual mischief. The Deku Sprout’s magic kept everything in the Kokiri Forest alive and thriving.
‘Malon would love this,’ Link thought. Perhaps he would bring her to the Forest before the winter ends. She is of age now, so perhaps her father wouldn’t oppose for her to leave the Ranch for a field trip to the Forest.
Kokiri Village remained very much a safe heaven from most of Hyrule’s perils. Link could see the lit interiors of the tree houses, the children were probably all tucked in. As Link approached his tree house, he raised an eyebrow, surprised at the fact that it was also lit. He figured as he climbed the ladder that led to the Tree’s balcony that Saria would be waiting for him and her Fairy.
He was right; upon sliding through the thick, heavy woolen curtains that covered his doorway, Saria was sitting around a small warming fire.
Saria’s blue eyes glowed in relief at seeing him safe and sound.
“Thank the spirits, I was so worried!” Saria exclaimed.
Link smiled. Saria had the most beautiful face he had ever laid his eyes upon. Zelda was stunning but Saria had an other-worldly face. The origin of the Kokiri wasn’t fully known; it was generally accepted that they were the children of the Great Deku Tree. None of the children ever questioned their origin. In fact, when Link showed up as a baby, nothing was ever questioned. He was treated like the odd duck simply because he didn’t have a fairy. Yet looking at Saria’s perfect facial features Link was convinced that magic was behind the creation of the Children.
Saria had no flaws, no skin blemishes however minor. Her unique green hair was the color of evergreen Forest leaves. Saria perhaps was just special. In a way she embodied the spirit of the forest. Saria seemed to know things before or as they happened. While the Kokiri children all looked and acted like 10 year old runts, Saria was different.
Saria looked a little bit older, and she was as wise and perhaps even as sad as Zelda. Ever since Link first left the Forest seven years ago, her once carefree smile disappeared.
“And with good reason! Link almost got himself killed!” Aryl jumped into Saria’s shoulder.
She gave Link a distressed look, and Link slumped his shoulders and sighed.
“I am sorry. This was the last time. I promise,” Link said as he sat down on his bed.
Saria sat beside him and took his hand in between hers,
“Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.”
“But I mean it, I am staying here for a while.”
“I…well I’ll tell you later, you should rest…we should all rest,” Saria said as pushed Link’s head back so he could rest on his pillow.
It took Link by surprise when she simply slid beside him and rested her head next to his.
“Link…at some point in your life you will have to let go of all of your regrets and the anger.” Saria’s words also caught him unawares.
‘How does she know? About my regrets and bitterness? Is it that easy to see?’ When his life had flashed before his eyes at the hands of that Moblin, he had realized that very same harsh truth, that his life had turned into a sad, unfulfilling mess. Then again Saria had a tendency of simply knowing things, which only increased Link’s admiration of her.
In the future time line she had gone into the Forest Temple knowing she was going to die, yet that didn’t stop her from trying to save the Forest and dying as a result. Link felt an urge to play with her hair but felt guilt about it. Saria just kept her gaze fixed on the ceiling. Link wondered if she also knew about his feelings.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I raised you, because as you grew I learned everything about you, because you came back a changed boy from the Castle. Because you rarely smile.”
Saria was right. Link was always preoccupied with Zelda and Saria’s lack of smiles, but he himself had turned into a bitter and depressed lone wolf.
“I guess I miss the little boy I loved when he looked as old as me, the cursed boy without a fairy, but to me the most special out of all the Kokiri Children.” There was a melancholic tone to her voice as she continued. “You were dear to me because I knew you would leave.”
“I am here now Saria.”
“Before this winter ends, you will leave the forest. You don’t belong here,” Saria said, turning her sad gaze towards him.
“Did you see this in your visions?” Link asked, knowing the answer to his question. Saria had a gift of catching glimpses of future events, and in truth Link didn’t belong with the Kokiri, as much as it pained him to admit. He wasn’t immortal, and at times he had seen Saria distance herself from him in what were in all likelihood attempts at getting used to Link’s eventual absence.
Saria existed long before Link was born and she would remain long after he was gone from the living.
“A Shadow approaches Hyrule, and there will be need of your sword before it ends.” A tear ran down Saria’s cheek. “Dark days are upon us, and I fear for your spirit Link.”
“I am sorry Saria,” Link whispered, gently wiping the tear of her cheek. He had no clear idea of why he felt sorry, but he just did. He didn’t know how to comfort her. He loved her but perhaps not like she deserved, not the way she loved him. ‘But how does she love me?’ Link wasn’t sure. ‘Like a mother? She raised me. Like a big sister? We played and grew together…or at least I did. Like a lover? I fell in love with her from the moment I knew I could fall in love. She is beautiful, but then I outgrew her and…and …I can’t love her like that anymore.’ Link’s thoughts were filled with a heavy sense of guilt, the last thing he wanted was to break her loving heart.
“Don’t be sorry. All you did was bring joy into my seemingly eternal yet once empty life,” Saria said as she caressed Link’s face with her hand. “When the storm blows over, you should leave for the ranch…And we shall never meet again.”
Lon Lon Ranch Present…
Malon was stirred awake by the sounds of horse hooves and unintelligible chatter outside of her window. The sun was barely making its way out, but she could easily make out the form of three Hylian Knights, one being her own Marcilus Stonard.
She knew Stonard had been away for weeks on a mission out west. Malon should have felt relieved to see him back in one piece; the military was dangerous work, or at least that’s how she perceived the life of a knight to be. Instead, however, she was a bit annoyed at seeing him standing out there waiting for her with a gift (she assumed) in his hands.
The disturbing thing about this was that there was no obvious reason for her not to be head over heels over the young knight. She had dreamed of being stolen away by a handsome knight in shining armor since early childhood. Marcilus Stonard more than fit the bill. He was the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes upon; at least as far as she could tell, he was the most handsome Hylian Knight currently in service.
He wasn’t the tallest man she had seen but at least was a bit taller than her. Sometimes she wondered if Link had grown taller than Stonard. Link was one of the reasons she dreaded Stonard asking for her hand. Saying yes to Stonard would put an end to her fantasy love story with Link, and that scared her.
Malon took a deep breath as she dressed herself and nodded as she came to the conclusion that Stonard wasn’t the problem as much as what he represented. He represented the end of her childhood, the end of her freedom, and perhaps most likely the end of her stay at the ranch. Link in many ways represented those carefree days with Epona, her father, and even the ungrateful Ingo. It was a part of her she didn’t want to let go, and Stonard symbolized the end of it, and the beginning of the life of a dutiful wife to a man devoted to a kingdom.
Malon went down the stairs while putting a fur coat on. The snow had stopped falling at some point during in the early morning hours, but the temperature remained as chilly as it had always been during cold winters.
“Marcilus!” Malon greeted the young captain after opening the front door of her home.
“Malon my love!” Stonard replied followed by a quick kiss on her lips.
“Please! Quickly! Come in, you must be freezing.” Malon gestured for Stonard and his companions to enter the home.
Once inside the men quickly approached the fireplace with joyful and relieved faces. The trek from Castle Town to the farm was a 6 hour one on horseback. Stonard must have ridden all night to meet her.
“We left word at the station in Castle Town…I wish to remain here for the following days…perhaps less until I am called back to the castle. A dangerous mission of upmost importance awaits me, so this might be the last time I will get to spend with you for many months to come,” Stonard said with a sad and somber face.
Malon frowned. She couldn’t recall the last time she had seen Stonard look sad about anything.
“Very well, once your men are rested the guest barn is ready to accommodate them. You can stay here in our spare room Stonard, it remains as you left it. My father will be glad to know you are here…when he wakes up of course!” Malon exclaimed.
Stonard sighed as he laid back to rest on his chair.
“I have an important matter to discuss with your father.” He took Malon’s hand in between his, “One that I hope will bring both of you as immense a joy as the one my heart feels when I’m this close to you, my love.”
Malon couldn’t help but smile. Stonard had a way with words, and yet her smile hid the fact that she wanted to freeze time in order to run away. Her fear had finally materialized…Marcilus Stonard would finally ask for her hand.
Because of the heavy foliage that covered the forest, Kokiri Village rarely received the full brightness of the sun. So it was still dark when Saria opened her eyes and rose from Link’s bed. Link didn’t flinch; he was soundly asleep, which was of comfort to Saria as she silently walked to exit the Tree house.
Aryl quietly followed. Both of them walked away from the village where only the crickets and owls could be heard from time to time. Saria looked behind shoulder making sure no one had followed them.
“Aryl. You have been the greatest companion anyone could have asked for,” Saria said staring directly at her fairy. “I love you …and I will cherish every moment we spent together forever. Well…at least as long as I am me.”
“You know I love you as well…but you are scaring me a bit here,” Aryl responded.
“The Great Deku Tree has grown stronger with the passage of time…strong enough to foresee events that have yet come to pass. We, the Kokiri, must embark on a journey to become something else.”
“Something like what?” Aryl interrupted.
Saria shook her head as she replied,
“I am not sure, but we must let go of our humanity…perhaps our individuality. We must become one with the tree or perish in the coming centuries. Mido and some of the others will have troubles accepting this fate…which is why I must lead them.”
“Well as long as it is for the survival of the Kokiri you can count me in!” Aryl said excitedly.
Saria smiled, but it was a smile full of sadness and pain.
“In order to lead my people I have to show them the way. I have to let you go…Aryl, the Kokiri will no longer need a fairy companion. You have to return to a fountain. But first you have to remain beside Link until he completes his quest…his life. It is important that you promise me that you will stay by his side until the end. You are my gift to him,” Saria said, almost begging her fairy companion.
“But Saria… I can’t live without you…I can’t remember what it was like without you. My purpose was to protect you,” Aryl replied.
“And you did… and you don’t have to follow Link around but I wish that you would,” Saria said.
“But…but..this isn’t fair!” Aryl protested.
Saria took the fairy in her hand and looked into the village’s direction.
“Your purpose is that boy over there. The Hero of Time. He is the purpose for all of this, or at least was. Our creation, the creation of this village, was the Great Deku Tree’s doing. He foresaw the arrival of his moribund mother and the child whose destiny was as important as Hyrule itself. We were created for the sole purpose of providing that orphaned boy a home. Great Deku didn’t know the exact time of his arrival, which is why we have lived for centuries, but in the end the boy’s task has ended, and in this reality at least, so has ours,” Saria finalized.
Aryl remained quiet, seemly in acceptance.
“So in the morning when he wakes I will tell him to leave and you will go with him. You will not speak to him about what we spoke unless you deem it an absolute necessity. Link won’t understand,” Saria finalized with a sigh.
“So in the morning…that will be our final goodbye?” Aryl asked, and Saria slowly nodded.
“Then…Saria, you have been the most special being I have ever met…I will accompany Link as my final act of love for you. Once his task done, I shall disappear from this world myself.”