Zelda sets me down on the sand. I'm gasping shallowly. It hurts every time.
"What's wrong with him?" Maltzar asks. Zelda inspects me with her beak. I feel something hot melting into my ribs.
"Crystallized Twilight!" Zelda's voice rings clear in my mind. "We must find the tears of light or he will be trapped in this realm forever." The heat dies and I gasp. I can breathe again. But I feel strange, empty and cold. My fur has darkened. "He will become one with his dark half. There is limited time."
"And how do we even begin looking for these tears of light?" Maltzar scoffs.
"If legends are correct, they have been consumed by Twilight insects. We must collect their blood in a vassal which the dying Light Spirit will give us." Zelda says.
We set off towards the Oasis where the Desert Light Spirit lies. A string of crystal beads like a vine is floating in the water. Maltzar happily retrieves it and wears it as a sash. We are ready for the hunt.
It is long and difficult. These insects are the size of cats and not at all easy to crush. About half way through I find myself consumed with anger. I feel this intense thirst for blood. I feel irritated like anything could set me off. It frightens me.
By the time we finish I have Maltzar cornered. It is so easy to hate him. So easy to kill him.
"Whoa, hey there, Skippy." He backs away from me into the boulder. "What's up your rectum?"
My lips pull back in a growl.
"Link, what are you doing?" Comes Zelda's voice. I stop.
"I don't know."
"Hurry, Lanayru is the only one that can help."
"Sheesh!" Says Maltzar. "Get a grip! We're almost done."
I shake myself as if wet. Maltzar is not making this easy for me.
We return to the Oasis and Maltzar sets the vessel in the water. It floats to the center and the water ignites with light. Dusk turns to dawn around us and the flecks of shadow in the air dissolve. A great serpent rears out of the water, glowing white as the desert sun. A hood fans out. She's a cobra. Zelda and Maltzar glow with her light as they form back into their human selves. I'm left out. I'm still a wolf.
"Thank you, Hylia and her
Chosen," Lanayru says in a hissing but deeply melodic voice. My jaw drops. Did I hear correctly? "I am ever in your service, Hylia." Lanayru bows to Zelda.
"I'm sorry?" she asks.
"You are the Goddess born again in flesh." Lanayru answers. Zelda sits down. She looks stunned and almost like she was going to cry. I go to her and place a paw on her shoulder. My wet nose touches her cheek and I lick her ear. But she ignores me.
"That doesn't make sense." She argues. "I am not the creator! I'm far too naive, I'm just a girl."
"Yeah, a girl that can fight better than the two of us combined." Maltzar laughs. I snarl at him, telling him to speak for himself.
"It may take time for you to understand and believe in your destiny." Lanayru says. "But the Ether Blade is yours to wield. And your chosen one, Link is the keeper of the Master Sword."
"But I don't feel God-like!" Zelda says. "I don't remember any past lives!"
"Your memory will return slowly as you meet with the Singing Stones. But for now, your chosen is gravely ill." She turns her diamond eyes to me, "Link, I am only able to subdue the effects of the Twilight shard in your heart. The only thing that can cure you is the Master Sword, the pure blade of evil's bane. And only then will you defeat the King of Shadows."
"Hey, what about the Stone of Elray? Isn't there enough time to pay it a visit?" Maltzar asks.
"Zant has possession of the stone." Says Lanayru.
"Figures." Maltzar tosses up a hand, unimpressed.
"You will find the Master Sword in the Sacred Grove within the Lost Woods."
"That is near Faron!" Zelda gasps.
We are going home.
At the bridge we meet Dark Link. He is not at all happy that his world of Twilight has now diminished. Without hesitation, he charges.
Zelda draws her bow. I ready myself. Maltzar runs at him. Dark Link swings his axe. Maltzar catches the handle and is dragged by the horse. But he doesn't let go. What a weird guy. Well at least he eventually disarmed him, even though he was left in the dust splintered and bruised. Zelda's arrow flies. He blocks it with his shield. I spring up over the neck of his steed and tackle him. We fall. The landing knocks the breath out of me, but I still twist around and sink my teeth into his shoulder. He doesn't make a sound. He grabs me and we wrestle. My fangs snap inches from his face. Maltzar and Zelda advance, but suddenly they are blocked by black figures. There are duplicates of him. They attack.
He slams me into the bridge and begins choking me.
"You and I will become one." he whispers to me. "It is only a matter of time. Why fight it?"
"LINK!" Zelda yells, battling the other Dark Links wildly with her stave. I claw him off and bite his leg. He kicks me, and I don't let go. His blood tastes like tar but I still clamp my jaws. I hear the unsheathing of a dagger. I jump back and get a slash on the snout.
I circle him, growling.
"My soul is consuming yours, Link. Soon there will be nothing left of you but me."
"Wanna bet?" Maltzar flies in out of nowhere and smashes him off his feet with the megaton hammer. I take my chance and rip out his throat with my teeth. As he lies bleeding out, he smiles at me.
"Soon." he mouths. Consumed with a wave of anger, I grab his neck and shake him until it breaks.
I feel a hand on my back. I turn and snap at it. Zelda draws back. I freeze. There is blood running down her wrist.
"Fuck what was that for?!" Maltzar raises the hammer, but Zelda touches his side giving him pause.
"There really is not much time." She says. I whine an apology and she pets my head. "Just keep fighting, you'll be fine." she soothes.
The Lost Woods. It's located to the west. Our Tribes avoid it. Many believe it to be enchanted and to change and mirror itself so that any wondering traveler would be trapped in it forever. I sure hope that doesn't happen to us. Even though I think it already has.
"Great. Every fucking tree looks the fucking same!" Maltzar slumps down. "Hell, even this rock hasn't changed!"
"There has to be a pattern to it." Zelda says.
"Pattern? We might as well be in a maze! A random one at that!"
I catch a scent. I woof and follow it.
"Oh not this again." Maltzar complains as he and Zelda trail after me.
I lead them to a clearing. An ancient structure used to stand here. I freeze. Someone is standing on a rock. It's a child wearing rags and a straw hat.
"Who are you?" Zelda asks. He doesn't answer. He lifts an instrument to his lips and begins to play. It is an upbeat song, one full of life and the forest. I recognize it from a forgotten dream.
"Does anyone find this strange?" Maltzar asks. "Hey, who are you." He yells stepping forward.
"Maltzar, don't," Zelda grabs his arm.
"Why not?" He snaps.
"That is a Skull Kid, a soul that has been lost to the forest. They are mischievous creatures: one moment they are your friend the next your enemy. We must play his game. Perhaps he knows where the Sacred Grove is." She pulls out the golden harp. Her hand trembles above the strings.
"I've played this harp before haven't I?" she whispers, more to herself than anyone. She begins to play the Skull Kid's Song. I suddenly remember laughter, from a particular girl. Little caring arms that held me as a young child. Green hair, blue eyes and a caring smile. My eyes feel watery.
When Zelda finishes the joyful tune, the Skull kid giggles and runs off. We follow him into another clearing.
This time he plays an elegant song, light and very much a waltz. Zelda joins him playing by ear. Again I see her in wrappings, with a hidden face and that mark, the tearful eye of the Sheikah on her chest. These little memories that aren't mine scare me a little. Am I really the legendary hero? I haven't fending for myself very well. My fur droops.
Again Skull kid leads us and plays a new song, a more intricate one: elated and courageous. But he doesn't stop moving down the path as he plays, we have to follow while Zelda fumbles with the strings. I remember someone dancing to this song...up a wall? How did she manage that? Maybe this was a dream? I was playing the harp.
Zelda hits a sour note. Skull Kid stops. Yellow eyes glare at us. He takes a deep breath and blows on his reedy instrument. Wood puppets without strings fall from the trees and enclose us. They smile at us with sharp teeth and gleaming eyes. They attack, swinging their arms like clubs. We battle as hard as we can, but there are too many. And being made of wood, they keep coming back to life, no matter how many limbs were missing. They were like zombies!
Maltzar swings the megaton hammer as hard as he could. Zelda wields her stave and I chew off any parts that come my way. But it is a losing battle. Just then I smell someone approaching. I turn in time to see a blue figure streaking past us. With one kick, Skull Kid is down. The Puppets fall dead. Skull Kid cowers before an elegant creature. She has blue hair, cut short around her head. Black stockings with teal netting adorn her well shaped legs. Two draperies one of purple the other of blue flow over her arms and she wears a short fitted purple dress.
"Get out of here." She commands, stepping towards him with her lethal black heals. He scurries away immediately. "And take your toys with you." She shouts after him in a clear chiming voice. The puppets spring up and flee. She turns to us.
"Well hello," she smiles. What a face: so innocent yet strong. Beautiful is an understatement: she is like a white porcelain doll with big blue eyes that glitter like the ethereal gem on her chest. Her lips are full and painted a matching purple to her suit. "What brings you to my forest?" She gestures like a dancer. "It is dangerous here, let me show you out."
"Wait." Zelda says. "We thank you for helping, but we've come here for a reason."
"Oh?" She looks at us suddenly sceptical. "Which is?"
"We are looking for the Sacred Grove."
"Why?" she cocks her head. I feel her energy grow cold.
"We need to see the Master Sword." Zelda says. I notice Maltzar is awfully quiet. I look over to find him staring at the girl, a sort of dazed look on his face.
She lifts an eyebrow at him. He swallows. She turns.
Maltzar trips over a stick and curses softly. I snort. But I notice Zelda's hand is on her stave. She does not seem to trust our new guide.
She brings us to the run down ruins of a once great temple. It is very ancient and covered with vines. Inside is a cathedral sheltered by trees. Once we enter we find she is nowhere to be seen. Ahead of us is a pedestal. It is empty. A boulder rolls in front of the door. We are trapped.
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