The hallway was deserted. Judging from the inky darkness outside, Makii supposed it was sometime after midnight. With no moon shining through the high glass windows lining either side of the corridor, the place was a dull brown, turning orange with splashes of candlelight here and there. It was somewhat remarkable that he was alert enough at all to wonder about this. Makii was so tired that he could scarcely keep his shoulders from sagging inward as he tromped through the halls. The day had been long, but there was no rest for the weary Hylian Hero.
Ancient Hylian texts never spoke of great battles won and lost by the Hero of Lore. Most of them were solely interested in the Hero of Time. In fact, aside from a paragraph in the Book of Mudora, the only place where information regarding the Hero of Lore could be found was the library of ancient diaries of the sages and wise men. Nevertheless, Makii had spent an entire day chasing Moblins back into the mountains, alongside Tress. As if that hadn’t been enough of a nightmare, he had been asked by Princess Amanda to guard her newborn twins, Jonas and Livia, while she and her husband attended a state function. Guard. More like baby sit.
Makii was beyond exhausted. As he trudged sleepily through the halls toward his bedroom, he dreamed about sleep. Tiny little beds seemed to swim before his eyes and he drooled, imagining how great it would feel when he finally allowed his heavy eyelids to drop.
So consumed in fantasies about sleep, Makii was completely thrown off balance when he heard a loud crashing sound. He did in fact fall over. The sound had come from the room directly to his left. As he squinted in the darkness, getting his bearings, he realized that he was standing right next to the artifact room, the most ornate chamber of the entire building, filled with Hyrule’s most famous and powerful artifacts. Inwardly, he groaned. “I really can’t function without my usual ninety minutes of sleep,” he muttered, standing up and drawing his sword.
He supposed the sound didn’t necessarily herald a clumsy robber. The room was almost always occupied. He spent many long hours sitting in there with Tress. She loved to look at the Moon Pearl. Still, one couldn’t be too careful. Any clumsy robber that successfully managed to loot that room would instantly become the most powerful person in Hyrule and most likely, the next Ganon.
Pushing the door open, Makii quickly examined the room. It was dark, which was unusual given the fact that the Moon Pearl almost always gave off an eerie, pastel glow. As Makii looked around, he realized that the shelf beside the one reserved for the Moon Pearl had fallen completely off the wall and the Moon Pearl had rolled off of its own shelf, into a corner. He walked over to the corner and picked up the artifact, scanning the room. Aside from the fallen Moon Pearl and the dislodged shelf beside it, everything else appeared intact.
Looking below the vacant stretch of wall where the shelf had once been, he saw a single female figure on the floor, her face covered in a mass of brown hair. “Tress?” he asked quietly, relieved that it had not been a clumsy robber after all. “What the heck are you doing in here at this hour?” He walked over to the Moon Pearl’s rightful place and returned it to the shelf. That done, he knelt down and picked up the broken shelf, reading the inscription on a small gold plaque attached to the front: Ocarina of Time.
Tress hadn’t responded. When Makii looked down at her, he saw that she hadn’t moved either. “Tress?” he repeated, kneeling down beside her. He poked her arm and she didn’t move to smack him. Carefully, he pushed her and she rolled over onto her back. Her eyes were shut and her head lulled slightly to one side.
There was a rustling at the door. Makii looked up to see that Hayek, a young student spending the summer as a page, had also heard the crash and come to the door. “I ‘eard a crash. Is everything all right in ‘ere?” Hayek asked.
“No,” Makii said, turning his eyes back to Tress. He gently pushed her bangs back, noticing with a grim, sinking feeling, that there were no marks on her forehead. Whatever had knocked her out, it hadn’t been the falling shelf.
“What ‘appened to ‘er?” Hayek muttered.
“I don’t know,” Makii said. “Go quickly. Get Higgins; tell him to come back here.”
“Yes sir.” Hayek ducked his head then turned, running down the hall as fast as his feet could carry him.
Makii bit his lips together, pulling Tress’ head into his lap. Reluctantly, he pressed two fingers to the pulse point on her neck. He was much relieved when he felt her steady, strong heartbeat. The window was open. Briefly, Makii wondered if someone had gotten in through there, but his better judgment told him it wasn’t possible. The window was far too small and it was far too high up for anyone to safely climb in or out of.
He scanned the floor, looking for the Ocarina of Time. It wasn’t anywhere to be seen, nor, he noticed fatalistically, was Tress’ sword. Whoever had come had attacked her while she was unarmed. But Tress never left her room without her sword. How was it possible?
Touching the back of his hand to her cheek, Makii could feel that Tress was practically feverish. Her eyes darted madly back and forth under her closed eyelids. She was dreaming. Feeling her pulse again, he realized that it was speeding up. She was having a nightmare. Violently, he shook her. “Wake up!” he pleaded, but of course, she didn’t respond.
“In ‘ere sir,” Hayek’s voice said from the hallway. Makii looked up at the door again. Old Higgins appeared, his white robes glowing in the eerie light of the Moon Pearl.
He turned to regard someone outside of the room. “Thank you Hayek, you can go now.” Hayek’s footsteps could he heard echoing down the hall as Higgins walked into the room and looked down at the pair on the plush red and gold carpet.
“She won’t wake up,” Makii said in a childish voice.
Higgins lowered himself to the floor, his joints protesting loudly. With his withered hands, he touched either side of Tress’ face, resting his fingertips on her temples. “Hmm…” he murmured.
“Well?” Makii asked impatiently.
“Indeed what?” Makii demanded.
“I have determined that she is, in fact, asleep.”
Makii gave Higgins a withered look. “I’m no wise man, but I could have told you that.”
“You misunderstand me,” Higgins replied, withdrawing his hands, but keeping his eyes on Tress. “What I mean to say is that she wasn’t knocked unconscious.”
“What? She just walked in and fell asleep and then a shelf fell?”
“No, I believe she was asleep when she came in here.”
“Tress doesn’t sleepwalk.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Higgins said. He gestured vaguely to her. “You’ll notice she’s without her sword.”
“I did notice that admittedly.”
“I suspect she sleepwalked her way in here.”
“But Ocarina of Time,” Makii said urgently, touching the shelf, “it’s missing. Someone took it.”
“Indeed someone did take it,” Higgins said with a small nod of his white head.
“Do you want me to search the castle?”
“That won’t be necessary.” He leaned forward and picked up Tress’ wrist. As he raised it, Makii saw that clutched tightly in her hand was the small Ocarina of Time.
“Why does she have it?” Makii asked.
“I imagine our Tress is going on something of a journey,” Higgins told him cryptically, a twinkle shining in his eyes, even through the darkness.
“Can we wake her?”
“Let her sleep. Dreams are the revelations of the goddesses. And often the trials of them as well.”
The small pile of dry sticks and straw sat on the beach, taunting Zelda mercilessly as she glared down at it. Her eyes were getting watery and tired and all she really wanted to do was blink it away, but she didn’t dare. Concentrating, she focused all her energy on the twigs, imagining in the back of her mind, how very foolish she must have looked. The battle raged on, Zelda’s eyelids twitching and dancing, fighting to close. She was squinting down at the stack, barely able to hold on. Finally, fatigue won out and she blinked, falling back onto her heels with a small sigh.
“Nothing,” she said.
Link, who was sitting across the stack from her, frowned, poking the sticks with his ungloved finger. “They feel warm,” he offered courteously.
“They’re in direct sunlight Link,” Zelda sighed.
He shook his head. “I don’t understand it Zelda, you were able to conjure Din’s Fire before.”
“I don’t know how I did that the first time,” she replied.
“It doesn’t matter I guess,” Link told her, casually backhanding the pile of sticks into the receding wave that was brushing against the shore. He leaned forward on one arm, touching her cheek with his free hand. “You were pretty amazing though.”
She smiled at him, offering that lightening flash smile that drove Link crazy. “Maybe Din’s Fire only works in dire situations,” she supplied thoughtfully. “We were in danger of becoming two stains on the back of a wall.”
“We’ll have to remember that next time we’re in a dire situation.”
“Try not to sound so excited at the prospect,” she teased.
Link chuckled. “You know you’re having fun. Come on, how often do you get to crawl through dark dungeons filled with creepy crawlies?”
“I still don’t know what you’ve done to me. I never did stupid things before I met you.”
But Zelda was laughing. Before Link could protest further, she leaned forward and kissed him gently. This seemed to satisfy him because he returned the gesture, lovingly touching her soft orange hair with one hand while wrapping his other arm around her waist.
It was a calm morning on Koholint. For many weeks now, there had been gossip regarding the recent discovery of an open door leading into Key Cavern. None of the inhabitants had dared to go near of course, but that didn’t stop them from chattering incessantly about it. But today, finally, after weeks of pretending to be disinterested in it, people had finally stopped talking to Link and Zelda about the mystery.
As for Link and Zelda, now possessing three instruments, plus the Roc’s Feather, Power Bracelet, and Pegasus Boots, they had spoken of nothing but their next endeavor into a dungeon, yet they had both been reluctant to begin. Link was dealing with his guilt over the death of a somewhat innocent bystander during their last journey. Zelda, meanwhile, had become obsessed with Din’s Fire. She had only conjured it once, and not intentionally. What she didn’t tell Link was that it was fear, not the desire for a new power that kept her attempting to create it again. She was desperately afraid of accidentally lighting someone on fire.
“We should be doing chores,” Zelda muttered, finally breaking away from the embrace. “We’ve been getting a little too careless lately.”
“Yes, careless. What if Tarin suddenly decided to come down to the beach? Or worse, Richard?”
“Zelda, there’s no way I can hide my feelings for you in front of them. If it’s not blindingly obvious to them, they’re just thick.”
“That’s not what I meant,” she replied.
“Oh.” She sighed softly, looking out at the water. Link followed her gaze. “What do you mean then Zelda?”
“That’s just it,” she said.
“That’s your name.”
“Link, we agreed on this a long time ago.”
“I know, I know…Marin.” In recent months, Link had found it increasingly difficult to refer to Zelda as Marin when in the company of others. As it was, he found it impossible to do so when they were alone. “You know,” he said slowly, “If we succeed in waking the Windfish, the truth will have to come out.”
“Let’s worry about getting that far first.”
There was a low, mellow hoot from behind them. In a flash, both Link and Zelda whipped their heads around, looking at the high tree from which the sound had emerged. From within the inky black shadows of the leaves, they clearly saw a large pair of amber eyes looking out at them. “How many instruments have you gotten so far?” a lyrical, deep voice asked from the tree.
Link stood up slowly, never tearing his eyes away from the tree. “Three,” he said evenly, offering a hand to Zelda and helping her to her feet.
“When you play the Instruments in front of the Egg, the Windfish will wake and you will leave this island.”
“We know,” Zelda said irritably, searching the leaves, trying to make out the shape of what she knew to be an owl.
The owl hooted again. “The shape of that key shows a fish, swimming up a cascade of water! Go now to the mountain waterfall! A leap from the top and you will reach your goal!”
“Key?” Link asked. “What key?”
“Now, you must hasten to the Yarna Desert! The dark, monstrous inhabitants of the sand will show you the way!” There were two more low hoots and suddenly the eyes blinked out of existence.
“I can’t believe we’re taking orders from a bird,” Zelda sighed.
“Yarna Desert?” Link inquired, looking at her.
“To the east,” she said, jerking her thumb in that direction. “It’s not really a desert, just a cactus garden. We call it a desert for lack of a better name.”
“Dark, monstrous inhabitants of the sand?”
Zelda shrugged. “The cacti?”
“I suppose this is Farore’s subtle way of telling us that we need to start on the next dungeon.” Link paused, his frown deepening. “Tonight.”
“Apparently we need a key first.”
“I’ll go get it,” Link offered.
“All right, and I’ll do both our chores.”
“That sounds fair.”
“That way Tarin can see that everything is normal. He’s been giving me funny looks for the past few weeks.”
“Me too. I think he’s getting sick of me. I really should finish building a little hut for myself.”
“Oh no, Tarin adores you,” Zelda reassured him. “I’m sure it’s just all the strange things that have been happening around the island lately.”
“I’ll take your word for that.”
“I knew you were bright.”
Link laughed. “All right. You do chores, I’ll get the key, and we can meet tonight.”
He shrugged. “I guess somewhere around the mountain waterfall. Where is that exactly?”
She gave him a funny look. “Link, have you once looked at the map of the island that Carry gave you?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I looked at it once.”
Zelda put a hand on his shoulder and pointed north. “You see the line of trees ending at the foothills there?”
“Go up to those trees, then take a sharp right. Follow along the foothills until you see a land bridge over the water.”
“Then start climbing the foothills, going east. You’ll hear the waterfall.”
“We’ll meet there?”
“Sounds like a good plan.” She leaned over and picked up Link’s gauntlets which had been lying abandoned on the sand.
“I left the boots back in your hut, will you bring them?” Link asked, accepting the gauntlets from Zelda.
“Yes of course,” she said.
He kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll see you tonight then.”
“Watch out for the cacti,” she warned.
“The dark, monstrous inhabitants of the sand? I’ll give them all the care that they deserve.”
With a heavy thumping, Carry paced back and forth across the hard packed dirt floor of his hovel. A frown had deepened across his large face, making him look more intimidating that usual. His saffron robes swished softly about his feet, swirling whatever loose dirt was there into a small storm. He stopped, looking out into no particular place. “Catsy,” he said softly. Nothing happened. Louder, he demanded, “Catsy.” Again, no spark of flame appeared. “Catsy!!!” he bellowed, making the walls themselves shake.
Much to his surprise, this time he found the desired response. A large explosion of fire erupted in the middle of the room and an instant later, Catsy appeared in all her glory, today sporting a gold kimono with blue and purple dragonflies sewn in. “You rang?” she asked patiently.
Carry gaped at her for a moment. “You came.”
“That should be self evident.”
“I called you every day for a month.”
“I’ve been a very busy little goddess.”
“Where have you been?”
Instead of answering, Catsy’s eyes swept across the room, searching the walls. “Haven’t you got a mirror?” she asked irritably. Without waiting for a response, she snapped her fingers, a large mirror appearing out of nowhere, hovering directly in front of her. She gazed at her reflection, casually primping the twin buns in her hair.
“Answer me,” Carry demanded.
Catsy glanced at Carry’s reflection over her shoulder in the looking glass. “You’re upset,” she stated plainly.
She sighed softly, brushing her fingertips against her right cheekbone. “I’ve been in my dungeon. You remember, don’t you? The dark place underwater with lots of torches?”
“I remember,” he said, nodding his head once.
“Carry, you will never master the art of sarcasm.”
Catsy ignored this. She clapped her hands together and the mirror disappeared in a puff of smoke. Turning around, she addressed him with a bright smile. “But really Carry, why do you ask?”
“I called you every day for a month. You didn’t come.”
“Well, I’m here now. What’s the matter?”
“Well, what about her?”
“What happened to her?”
Catsy offered a quizzical expression. “You’re not still hung up on the incident at Bottle Grotto, are you?”
“Carry, I’m not as omnipotent as you give me credit for. Tell me what the matter is.”
Catsy sighed in irritation. “Different how?” she prompted. In her mind, she reasoned it was always best to address Carry as a child, even though he was far from being one.
“She called me a big, stupid oaf.”
Catsy frowned. “That is mean.”
“She’s changed. She never comes out of her hut any more, except to do her chores, then she disappeared again. No one ever sees her at meals and she told me to stay out of her way.”
“Out of her way.”
“What does that mean?”
“I suspect she knows that you were following her through the dungeons.”
“But I wasn’t following her,” Carry insisted. “I was following Link and Little Marin.”
“That may well be, but my guess is that she doesn’t know about them, just about you.”
Carry sighed. “Is that why she’s angry? She thinks I was following her?”
“No, it isn’t,” Carry blurted. “It has to be something else.”
“Because she would have said something like ‘stop following me’ or another thing.”
“Besides, she told me a long time ago that she wanted to go into the dungeons; that’s not a secret.”
“She did, did she?”
“She even asked me to go with her. I told her it was dangerous.”
“Everything you’re presenting me with provides for a very logical argument. There’s just one problem Carry.”
“If it isn’t the fact that you’re following her that’s upset her, I don’t know what is.”
“You don’t know what’s wrong with her?”
“No. It’s being hidden from me.”
“How can someone hide anything from you?” Carry asked.
“Well, other gods can hide things from me, but Matilda is not a god by any stretch of the imagination.”
“I’m sorry Carry, I just don’t have the answers.” Catsy looked at Carry’s crestfallen face. A tiny frown formed on her scarlet lips. “I’ll find out Carry, I promise you.”
Carry’s face lightened up. “You will?”
“I promise.” She sighed. “You just have to be patient. Give me some time. There are so many matters that demand my attention.”
“But this is most important, right?”
“After your dungeon crawling friends, yes.”
“What do you mean?”
“They’re about to hit another dungeon.”
“The second Siren, Angelika’s.”
“You want me to go with them?”
“No,” Catsy drawled slowly. “I think it’s best that you keep yourself out of sight for awhile.”
“The other Nightmares are becoming suspicious of our…alliance. I don’t want you to get hurt. Just give me your map of Angler’s Tunnel and I’ll see that it gets into the proper hands.”
“I can’t,” Carry replied.
“I had it a few days ago, but last night when I came home from dinner, I checked my maps and I saw that it was gone.”
“This is alarming. Nevertheless, I suppose it’s not the worst thing that could happen. Our friends have managed to make it through several other dungeons without the help of your maps.”
Carry nodded gravely. “Everything’s going to be all right, isn’t it?”
“I hope so.”
“Do gods have hopes?”
Catsy offered him a wry smile. “Carry, you’ll find that the Nightmares, and all deities in the pantheon, are very much like you and Matilda.”
“How do you mean?”
“Like you, we have hopes, dreams, ambitions, but we also have petty quarrels, greed, jealousy, prejudice, and spite.”
“Do gods really have imperfections like that?”
“Yes, Carry. And that’s the reason why mortals like Link and…Marin, can defeat Nightmares. Sometimes, mortals are better than gods for overcoming such nonsense.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Will they defeat you too?”
“Well Carry, we’ll see just how much they’ve overcome by the time they arrive at my door.”
“You said that when Link and Little Marin take on the third Siren, I’ll understand everything.”
“I did say that.”
“I don’t want them to defeat you Catsy,” he answered in a small, childlike voice.
“Neither do I Carry. We’ll have to see how this trial ends.” She held up her hands, flicking her wrists outward. The flame that heralded her entrance returned escorting her back into the oblivion she had come from.
“No, see, that’s not how it happened.” Zelda ripped the top of the mushroom off and tossed one piece into a basket and the other piece in a bowl. “First Tarin knocked down the beehive, and then Summer came up with the idea to give the honey to him.”
“Are you sure?” Tracy asked, throwing a mushroom top into the basket.
“I’m positive,” Zelda said with a nod.
“If you say so. I don’t know how you remember these things Marin. Must be some sort of superpower.”
“Super memory?” Valerie laughed.
“This should be enough,” Tracy said, picking up the bowl of mushroom bits. “Tell Tarin thanks for me.”
“I will,” Zelda said smiling.
Tracy patted Zelda’s knee, then put her hand on Valerie’s shoulder for a moment. “The beehive did happen first.” With that, she turned and walked out, holding the porcelain bowl under one arm.
For a moment, there was utter silence. Zelda and Valerie, sitting side by side on the foot of Zelda’s bed continued to go about their work, separating mushrooms and dropping the halves into separate containers. Valerie paused after a while, turning one over in her slender fingers. “Tonight?” she asked softly.
Zelda faltered and looked at her. “What?”
“I heard you.”
“Are you going to attempt the next dungeon tonight?”
“Oh.” Zelda picked up her work again. “Yes.”
Valerie nodded. “Where’s Link now?”
“Out east, looking for the key.” She paused a beat before looking up at Valerie. “How did you know we were going for it tonight?”
“Farore,” she replied with a knowing smile. This had become Valerie’s typical answer to every question that Link or Zelda posed to her. Zelda herself was constantly wondering that it meant exactly? Did Farore appear to Valerie and tell her in person? Were their minds somehow connected? Or was everything she and Link did preordained?
She hated the last explanation. Over the past few months, she had grown increasingly curious about this mysterious trial before her. What did Farore expect them to prove? And if everything was already planned, what was the point of it all? Valerie encouraged her to simply be patient and go with the flow, but for Zelda, patience was never an option. She had already done her waiting. Nearly ten years worth of waiting on Koholint.
“We’re trying Angler’s Tunnel,” she said, knowing perfectly well that Valerie probably already knew it.
The angel just nodded. “You’ll be leaving around midnight I expect?”
“No, earlier I think.”
“Right after Tarin falls asleep?”
“That’s when I’ll leave. Link and I plan to meet.”
Again, Valerie nodded. “The second of the Sirens dwells in Angler’s Tunnel. She’s called Angelika. I’ve already explained this to Link, but she protects what is known as the Surf Harp and the ancients depicted her as an enormous fish.”
“Who are the ancients?”
“People always reference the ‘ancients.’ Who are they exactly?”
“Zelda, it’s just a figure of speech.”
“Oh. Then there’s nothing more to it?”
Valerie smiled. “Not everything I say to you is buried in symbolism and deep meaning.”
“Oh.” Zelda frowned, continuing her work. Suddenly, she stopped, turning completely to face Valerie. “Valerie, there’s something that I’ve wanted to ask you for awhile.”
“What happens when we collect all the instruments?”
“Then you’ll play them before the Windfish.”
“And then what?”
“You’ll make a wish.”
“No, I know all that.”
“Then what’s the question?”
“The question is…” Zelda trailed off, frowning. “Then what?”
“I imagine you’ll go back to Hyrule, that is what both you and Link want, isn’t it?”
“Well, yes. But what happens to the island?”
“What makes you think something would happen to the island?”
“Not the island. My spell.”
“Oh, you mean the memory charm that makes everyone think your name is Marin and that you’re Tarin’s daughter?”
Zelda nodded. “What happens then?”
“Well, I would imagine that…”
Valerie was cut off abruptly when the door opened. Tarin waddled in, retying his kerchief that he wore around his neck. His cheeks were flushed bright pink and he looked somewhat out of breath. “Good evening girls,” he said, smiling when he saw Zelda and Valerie sitting on the bed.”
“Hello Tarin,” they both chorused.
“What are you two up to? Separating toadstools?”
“Marin was just telling me about Link.” She spoke in a sing songy voice. In the last several months, Zelda had also observed that Valerie seemed to reserve a special tone of voice when she was talking to the other inhabitants of the island, those who weren’t Hylian. She addressed them as one addressing a child. Zelda wasn’t certain she appreciated the change, although she didn’t dare say anything about it.
“Talking about the lad again?” Tarin seemed to buy the excuse of girl talk, although his expression was far from the jovial smile that Zelda had been expecting from him.
“I think your daughter is quite taken with him Tarin,” Valerie said with a glowing smile.
“Aye, and you’re not the only one,” Tarin replied icily.
“I’m still in the room,” Zelda interjected, resenting the fact that they talked about her right while she was sitting there.
“And right glad I am that you’re around my dear,” Tarin said.
“Tell me more about what Link said,” Valerie addressed Zelda in a breezy, all too fake tone.
“Well,” Zelda’s mind raced as she struggled to come up with a convincing lie. “He said that he wanted to walk with me to Martha’s Bay tonight.”
Valerie sighed dreamily. “How romantic,” she gushed in a sugar coated tone. Zelda found it difficult to keep a straight face, hearing these words come out of Valerie’s lips.
“Eh,” Tarin mumbled, “Marin dear?”
“I don’t suppose your old dad could impose on you to do him a tiny favor?”
“It’s my turn to clean the Dream Shrine,” Tarin said, sinking down into his rocking chair. “But I’m plum beat. Could I possibly ask you to…?”
“Of course Tarin,” Zelda interrupted, immediately jumping to her feet. “I’ll go clean it right now.”
“That’s a good girl,” Tarin smiled slightly. “Thank you Marin.”
Zelda walked over to Tarin and kissed his cheek. “Anything for you,” she said solemnly.
Tarin chuckled. “Go on with you. Come back when you’re done.”
“I will,” Zelda promised. She turned around and floated out of the door, the brush of her hemline sweeping against the floor heralding her exit.
Valerie smiled, watching her go. “She’s such a sweet thing,” she cooed. She finished on the last mushroom and stood up, gathering up her things.
“Aye,” Tarin muttered. “That she is. That’s what’s worrying me.”
Valerie turned around abruptly. “What do you mean?”
“She’s a sweet girl. Link can see it too. Sometimes I wonder if he’s not taking advantage of her tenderness.”
“Tarin! How could you think such a thing?”
“A father always worries about his daughter.”
“I thought you liked Link.”
“He’s a good lad, I’ll grant you that, but how much do we really know about him?”
“We know that he’s an honest, kind, thoughtful gentleman.”
Tarin sighed heavily. “But is he really?”
“Of course he is. How could you think anything different? There’s not a soul on this island who doesn’t like Link, except for Richard of course, but he doesn’t like anyone.”
“Forgive me Valerie, it’s my jealousy talking.”
“It seems like lately, Link gets to spend more time with Marin than I do.”
“Tarin,” Valerie said evenly, approaching him. “Link isn’t going to steal your daughter away. He’s not Kurt. And he would never –”
Tarin held up a hand to stop her. “I know, I know. All the same, I don’t want Marin spending so much time with him.”
The water level had risen. From beneath the surface, and building up, a mighty splash erupted, sending water flying in all directions. From the murky depths, she rose, her entire body completely dry, despite the fact that she had just been immersed in the flood. Observing her, Hawk thought she looked somewhat sportier in her humanoid form. Short, spiky hair, steely lavender and a rather plain pastel jogging suit, displaying her washboard abs proved a sharp contrast from her other form.
Angelika stepped out of the water and onto a dusty ledge, bone dry. Kneeling before her on the land was her Guardian. Well, to be truthful, kneeling wasn’t the appropriate word. In order to kneel, one needed knees, of which this disgusting creature had none. He was somewhat formless, an amorphous blob of tissue, contracting at the moment into the shape of a ball.
“Your orders ma’am?” a voice asked from the quivering mass.
She narrowed her eyes down at him. “All right worm, it’s time to see if you’re worth the effort of sustaining.”
“What would you have me do?”
“The Hylians want to take me on. I say, bring it, but on my terms, not theirs. So you’re going to give them a little invitation to this game.”
The blob remained silent for a moment, vibrating in place. “What shall I do?” it finally asked.
Angelika rolled her eyes. “You’re as stupid as you are ugly. Do I have to spell it out for you? I want you to go find the kids and bring them to me.”
“Are you sure that’s wise Angelika?” Hawk questioned, finally speaking up. “After all, Iris faced them when they weren’t prepared for her and they still managed to destroy her.”
Angelika turned over her shoulder and gave him a withered look before focusing back on her Guardian. “Do you understand?”
“You want me to go and bring the Hylians here?” the Guardian squeaked.
She groaned in irritation. “Why is it that Guardians always have to repeat everything we say two or five times?”
“Mine doesn’t,” Hawk muttered in his nasal undertone.
Angelika ignored him, staring down, with loathing, at the hideous blob. “Yes, I want you to bring the Hylians here. There are two of them, one male, one female. They’ll most certainly be together, trying to find a way into the dungeon. You find them before they can get in of their own free will, knock them out, and dump them in the center of the dungeon.”
“And then what?”
“Y-you want me to l-leave the dungeon?”
“Y-yes,” Angelika replied in a mocking tone.
“But ma’am, how am I going to overtake the Hylians outside of the water?”
“Do I have to think of everything? Here.” She held her palms out in the Guardian’s direction. A blast of pastel green energy sprang from her fingertips, shooting into the shapeless entity. Instantly, a transformation began and the ball of white tissue changed into a tall, slender humanoid figure with blue skin and gills over the shoulders. A Zora.
“With this form I’ll be able to overtake them?”
“No,” Angelika deadpanned. She walked across the ledge. Back against the wall of the sunken cave was a pile of ancient skeletons, some of them still dressed in armor and bearing various weapons. She snatched up a rusty old mace and thrust it into her Guardian’s hands. “With this mace you’ll be able to overtake them.”
The Guardian bowed. “I will not fail you ma’am.”
“You’d better not,” she hissed.
They stood, looking at each other for what seemed like an unending moment of silence. “Go,” she finally said, thrusting her head forward, her purple eyes bugging out of her skull with impatience.
“Right, yes, of course. I’m going.” The Zora turned around and headed to the door, but in such great haste that it bumped into the doorframe, a hollow thump coming as the stones came in contact with a shiny bald head.
“Clod,” Angelika whispered under her breath as she watched the creature stumble then take a second attempt, disappearing through the door. After a moment, she could hear the hollow thumping as the Guardian scrambled up the wooden ladder to the ground floor of the dungeon. There was a loud metallic ringing, followed by a crash and she knew that her Zora had slipped and fallen off the ladder.
“That is a fish out of water,” Hawk muttered.
Angelika turned on him in a flash. “And you!” she shouted.
“I’ll thank you not to question my decisions in front of the lower beings.”
“You’re referring to my comment about Iris?”
“Yes I’m referring to your comment about Iris,” she answered in a mocking tone, squinting her eyes and wrinkling her nose in a poor attempt at an imitation of Hawk’s nasal undertone.
“I was only pointing out that you’re heading down the same path she took. She too thought that unprepared Hylians wouldn’t pose a threat.”
“Yeah, well, the mistake Iris made was that she just decided to wait around for them to find her in the dungeon. I won’t be so dull.”
“Indeed? And what, exactly, is your plan? Bait and switch?”
“My dungeon is pretty big. There’s no way that they’ll possibly be able to find their way around.”
“So what exactly? You’re just going to turn them loose and hope that they spend the rest of their lives wandering aimlessly through your dungeon.”
“Not exactly,” Angelika said smoothly.
“There’s something fishy about this.”
“I’m not going to just let them wander. Believe me; I’ll have all my servants trying to kill them at all hours of the night.”
“Those servants of yours are scared to death of you. What makes you think that they’d be terribly concerned about your demise?”
“My servants are loyal!” Angelika snapped.
“And anyway,” Hawk continued, ignoring her, “suppose that in their wanderings, they happen to stumble upon the Surf Harp, what then?”
“It’ll never happen.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I’ve sealed the Surf Harp in a chamber in a remote wing of the dungeon. And even if they stumbled on that wing, they wouldn’t be able to open the door to the instrument’s shrine.”
“And why not?”
“I have a magical seal on the door. It’s linked to my life signs. It’ll only open on my death.”
“All the more reason for them to try and kill you.”
“Yeah, they’ll want to kill me, but they won’t be able to find me. Unlike Iris, I won’t be waiting around for them to come and kill me. I’m smarter than that.”
“So what’s your plan exactly?”
“To stay right here.”
“In this flooded cave.”
“What makes you think they won’t be able to find a way into your little haven here?”
“How can they find the entrance to a cave if they’re not looking for a cave?”
“A valid point I suppose,” Hawk conceded.
“Valid? It’s nothing short of pure genius!”
“Don’t get too proud of yourself. Gene was certain that the Hylians couldn’t touch him either and you saw what happened.”
Angelika folded her arms and lifted her eyebrows, looking at Hawk. “Is there a reason that you’re here?” she asked.
Hawk pushed his long blond ponytail over his shoulder. “I wanted to warn you that the Hylians may not be your only problem.”
“Yes, apparently some of Gene’s servants saw Matilda crawling through Bottle Grotto.”
Angelika’s eyebrows shot up even higher. “Matilda?”
He nodded gravely. “Matilda.”
“Well, this is interesting.”
“I thought you might say so.”
“Still, she’s no more of a threat than the Hylians. It’s not like she knows this dungeon any better than they do.”
“Of course,” Hawk said easily, “I just thought you might want to know.”
She nodded. “Someone should speak to Flame about that.”
“I intend to, at our next assembly.”
“Good, you do that.” Angelika raised her hands over her head, clapping her palms together. She dove back into the water, disappearing from sight in a matter of moments and she transformed out of her humanoid body.
Hawk shook his head with a small smile, looking down at the water. After a moment, he thrust his arms out to either side and they instantly transformed into large black wings. He flapped them, rising up above the water. For one more instant, he paused to look down again then he rose up into the heights, disappearing among the stalactites.
The Dream Shrine had a beautiful interior. No one could actually remember decorating it of course, not even Molly, at two hundred the oldest known inhabitant of Koholint. All the same, people were often awed by the artistic design. Even Zelda, who hated the Dream Shrine with a fiery passion, took a moment to pause.
On the floor were bright blue tiles. Despite the age f the Dream Shrine, not a single one was cracked. Some suspected that they were actually lapis or blue diamond. Once, Richard had even tried to dig up one of the tiles and take it home. He had been unable to. The walls were a dark brown marble, etched with scenes that held virtually no meaning for the natives of the Mabe Village.
Zelda stood in front of one of the scenes. She had been cleaning it, but she soon lowered her dirty rag, suddenly intrigued by the image before her. The scene depicted nine beautiful people, eight of them standing in a large cluster, their heads all turned in profile off to the left, except for one who was turned to the right. The ninth figure was a few inches away, looking directly out from the wall at Zelda. She was the most beautiful of the people, with long, unruly curls, blowing slightly off to the right in a stylistic marble wind. Why had the others turned their backs on her? Zelda frowned, pondering over this as she traced the lone woman with her finger.
In the background of the scene was an engraving of Tal Tal Heights. Crowning Mount Tamaranch, the highest peak on the island, was a large egg with round spots carved into it. Floating above the egg was what looked like a combination between a humpback whale and a catfish.
Wondering about the story that the image told, Zelda swept her rag over it. The cloth caught against something rough. Looking up, Zelda noticed that there was a patch above the whale fish. It seemed as though something else had been carved up there, but someone had taken a file to it. Perhaps it was this missing image that would have explained the story to her. She sighed heavily. Oh well. There was no use in dwelling on it.
Making her way around the periphery, she wiped down the rest of the stories, trying not to spend too much time in front of one particular sketch or another. She did find reason to pause at one picture of a tombstone with a hidden staircase underneath it, but she quickly regained her senses, shook her head, and moved on.
Squeezing her away around one of the large stone torches in a corner of the room, she came to the set of four steps leading up to a raised platform in the middle of the chamber. She ascended. The floor on the platform was somewhat different from the rest of the room. Instead of lapis, it was made of jade, small, flat pieces stuck together in an intricate patter. The only other thing on the platform was the large, stone slab that the inhabitants of the village jokingly referred to as the bed. Underneath the bed was a leather pouch of white powder, somewhat similar to the powder Valerie used to start fires.
Plenty of the powder was scattered over the bed, signaling to Zelda that someone had recently used the Dream Shrine to hallucinate…or dream. It was a growing topic of debate in the village, whether the experiences on went through in the shrine were dreams or hallucinations. Zelda was in the dream camp herself. After all, she still clearly remembered, and felt, the pain she had experienced the last time she had visited, but she was quite certain that she had woken up and one did not, after all, wake up from hallucinations.
There was a low rumbled sound. Zelda looked around, alarmed at the grinding noise. Of course, nothing in the room had changed, but the flames in the four torches were dancing more wildly than before. There was a crash from somewhere outside. One of the torches went out and Zelda fell backwards from the shock, onto the stone slab.
She waited a moment with baited breath, wondering if anything else would happen. When nothing did, she slowly stood up and walked down the stairs to the extinguished lamp. Picking up the shard of flint that rested beside the torch, she lit the fire again then paused, almost as if she expected it to go out. When it didn’t, she cautiously made her way back up to the stairs.
On top of the platform, she knelt by the bed and swept the excess powder into her hand. With her free hand she draped the rag over her shoulder and examined the room for a moment. It looked clean enough to her. She walked down the stairs with the powder and approached the door.
Taking one last look around, just to be sure she hadn’t missed anything she leaned her hip against the door and pushed. It didn’t budge. Frowning, she pressed her free hand against the door and applied as much pressure as she could. Again, the door didn’t open. She knocked against the stone door with her knuckles and heard a blunt sound, like there was something beyond the door, blocking it.
“Hey!” she shouted, knocking her fist against the door. She felt somewhat foolish. Who would hear her? Nevertheless, she continued banging against the stone. “Help! Somebody!”
As her fist grew sore, she stopped, panting to catch her breath. She assessed her options. She could wait until someone finally tried to use the Dream Shrine, but that might take weeks. Perhaps Link would notice her absence and come looking for her. Then Valerie or Tarin could tell him that she had gone to clean the Dream Shrine and he would find her. A sudden pang of doubt hit her. They were supposed to meet by Angler Tunnel tonight. He wouldn’t notice her absence for awhile.
“Let me out!” she shouted at the door, kicking it for good measure with the bottom of her foot. “Help!” she drew back both her hands, curled up into fists, and banged them against the wall. In a large white explosion, the powder she had been taking to dispose of flew out in all directions, forming a great cloud around her head. Zelda coughed and sputtered as the dust danced around her. She waved her hands, trying to clear it away, but this only seemed to renew the momentum of the cloud.
Backing away from the door, she frantically rubbed her eyes, trying to rid herself of the powder. She backed up the stairs, putting as much distance between herself and the door as possible. Though her mind was racing, she was unsure what to do. Not only was she trapped, but she was beginning to feel very dizzy, like the room was spinning. Slipping on the last step, she fell onto her back.
The wind was completely knocked out of her lungs. Wheezing, she turned herself over, on her hands and knees, staring at the lapis pattern. Her eyes fell out of focus and the floor seemed to waver. She tried to lift up off her hands, but her strength gave and she collapsed, falling unconscious on the floor.
It turned out that the dark, monstrous inhabitants of the sand had indeed been the cacti. As Link sat on a rock, plucking the sharp quills out of his arm, he found himself wishing that Ezri or whomever it was giving them instructions had been just a little more specific. The Yarna Desert had indeed been little more than a square mile or so of sand, but what Link hadn’t counted on, was the fact that the cacti were living. During his hunt for the mysterious key, during which he had been forced to kill several sand crabs, the blooming cacti had sprung to life, it seemed, and chased him across the sand, sticking him with painful spines.
If that hadn’t been enough to deal with, he had ended up chasing a sand snake across a vast expanse of quicksand to recover the key which the ugly creature had swallowed. Now that it was over, Link retreated to the waterfall to lick his metaphorical wounds and wait for Zelda.
After removing his gauntlets and sliding them over the hilt of his sword, he sat on his rock and started pulling out the needles, one by one. “Dark, monstrous inhabitants of the sand,” he muttered in a mocking nasal voice. “Thanks a lot.”
The sun had set about an hour ago. Link supposed that most of the inhabitants of the Mabe Village had retreated to the perceived safety of their little huts for the rest of the evening. This left the island completely to him, Zelda, and the monsters. Well, the legendary monsters. Despite all the folk tales that Tarin and Grandpa Ulrira had told Link, he still wasn’t convinced that the monsters had ever existed before he had arrived and started causing trouble on the island.
Link heard a low, grinding sound. Immediately he looked up in the direction of the noise. “Zelda?” he asked, certain that he could hear her sandals treading over the loose gravel on the ground. All he really saw were trees and rocks, so he stood up and made his way to the edge of the forest. “Zelda, is that you?”
He walked around a tree and crashed into someone. Both of them fell backwards. When Link recovered, he looked down to see Matilda sprawled out across the ground. “Matilda?”
“A little late to notice,” she grumbled.
“Sorry about that,” Link said, offering her a hand. She took it and he quickly pulled her up to her feet. “You okay?”
“Great.” She brushed some dirt off of her pants before turning to address Link again. “Zelda?”
“Oh. That’s my chicken.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Your chicken?”
He laughed, trying desperately not to sound nervous. “There’s this chicken that’s started following me around the last few days. I decided to name her Zelda.”
“Oh. Zelda. The chicken.”
“Yeah.” It was then, looking at Matilda, that Link realized something was amiss. For one thing, he realized that he hadn’t seen her in well over a month. If her strange suddenly reentry into the world wasn’t red flag enough, there was also the fact that she was out and about at night, something strictly taboo. Finally, there was her ghastly appearance. She looked absolutely terrible, like she hadn’t slept in a week. There were heavy bags under her bloodshot eyes. Her hair was a tangled mess, poking out at odd angles from under her green felt cap. She also looked a lot skinnier, as if she hadn’t eaten much in the last few weeks.
“Link?” she asked slowly.
“Yeah?” He snapped out of his trance.
“Why is there a cactus spine sticking out of your shoulder?”
Link craned his head around and saw that indeed, there was a large needle firmly planted in his right shoulder. “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” he joked, briskly removing the sharp quill from his shoulder with a grimace. Matilda didn’t seem amused. “So…” Link struggled for some polite way to snoop, “what are you doing out here at this hour?”
“Just taking a walk,” she replied.
“Really? After sunset?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Don’t tell me you’re looking for your chicken.”
Link was about to reply when suddenly there was a blunt thud from somewhere behind Matilda. With a look of surprise, she crumpled down to the ground, unconscious. Standing behind her was a tall, slender humanoid figure with blue skin and prominent gills, holding an old rusty mace. Link groped behind him, immediately trying to draw his sword, but he was momentarily confused when instead of the hilt, all his fingers felt was something leathery. This was all the Zora needed. In the next instant, Link was unconscious on the ground from receiving a blow to the temple with the mace. The Zora stood over their prone forms. “My mistress will be so pleased with me. I got the Hylians!”
As Zelda’s eyelashes fluttered open, the room finally seemed to stop spinning. She sat up and looked around, immediately recognizing that she was no longer in the Dream Shrine. To be honest, she wasn’t sure where she was. Beneath her was the same jade tile pattern that had been on the platform of the shrine, but she seemed to be on the bottom of a three tiered chamber, easily larger than the Dream Shrine, her hut, and the village library put together.
The middle tier above her was more or less empty with only a line of small square stones ringing the edge. The top one had four lamps, flickering gently. It was divided into two sections by the same quartz squares and the tiles in the middle of each section changed from jade squiggles to lapis squares. It seemed the very reverse of the Dream Shrine to Zelda.
She reasoned that she had fallen asleep and that she was now dreaming. “Great,” she muttered. Link would be worried about her and to top it off, she couldn’t wake up to scream for someone to let her out of the room. “You can’t force yourself to wake up.” With a small frown, she stood up. “Might as well make the best of it,” she supposed. Resolved to learn as much as possible from this unplanned venture into her subconscious, she began ringing the room, searching for a stairway to the middle tier.
Turning the corner, she suddenly became acutely aware that she wasn’t alone. Kneeling on the floor, with her back turned to Zelda, was a woman. She was perfectly still, almost like a form of wax. Carefully, Zelda began to approach, studying the purple clad shoulders to see if she was even breathing. When she stepped on a loose tile, the figure suddenly sprang to life. Rising and whipping around with a vicious cry, she charged forward, her fist raised to attack, tossing something to one side. She took a whole step then suddenly froze. Immediately, she fell to her knee.
“Princess Zelda!” she exclaimed.
Zelda blinked in surprise. “What?”
“Princess, it’s me, Tress.”
“How can you be in my subconscious? I don’t know what you look like.”
“I’m not in your subconscious,” Tress replied haughtily. “I’m in your…whatever this place is.”
Zelda examined Tress for a moment. She was pure Hylian, through and through. Her brown hair was half tied back, letting her delicate ears show and she peered at Zelda through perfectly blue eyes. “Tress,” she said after a moment, “you’re beautiful.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“Get up.” Tress clambered to her feet. She walked over to the side of the chamber and picked up a shiny ocarina that she had discarded in her charge and shoved it into her pocket. “I don’t understand how this is possible.”
Tress shrugged. “With Din, Nayru, and Farore, it seems, anything is possible. You did contact me once telepathically.”
“But I’m not using telepathy. This is the Dream Shrine.”
“The Dream Shrine. It’s a chamber in the Mabe Village where people go to seek answers to otherwise unanswerable questions.”
“Whose idea was this?” Tress asked with a skeptical edge to her voice.
“No one really knows. It’s just always been here.”
“So I’m in your dream?”
“Something like that.”
“But that’s not possible. You’re in my dream.”
Zelda raised an eyebrow. “I’m in your dream?”
“I blacked out in the artifacts room,” Tress muttered, more to herself than to Zelda. “I woke up here. Well, I guess I didn’t really wake up.”
“It’s all a little too confusing for me,” Zelda sighed. “Why did you attack me?”
“I thought you were a Fantom.”
“A Fantom. They’re demons that are sent to haunt the dreams of enemies. You can’t actually get hurt in a dream unless a Fantom is there.”
Zelda scowled. “I’ve been hurt in dreams before, in the Dream Shrine.”
“A bird or owl of some sort attacked me, grabbed my hair and pulled me halfway across infinity. It really hurt.”
“That’s not possible unless it was a Fantom.”
“Who would have sent a Fantom to attack me?”
“Haven’t you got enemies?”
“I do now, but not back then.”
Tress shrugged. “Apparently you did back then.”
“I thought it was Ezri…Carry’s owl. I never saw exactly what it looked like.”
“Sounds pretty bad.”
“It nearly drove me to suicide.” Zelda began wringing her hands. “It couldn’t have been Ezri, he’s on our side.”
Tress cocked an eyebrow. “An owl is on your side?”
“He’s a familiar of Farore,” Zelda replied distractedly.
“One of the Nightmares must have sent a Fantom after me.”
“That would make the most sense,” Tress replied. “A Nightmare would definitely try to drive you mad so that you would kill yourself and wouldn’t be able to defeat him/her/it.”
“This island really is one trial after another,” Zelda grumbled.
Tress frowned. “You know, after our little adventure, when I got back to my own body, I couldn’t stop thinking about something.”
“I never told you or Link this, but I got a visitation from the Angel of Farore.”
“Yeah, she told me that the inhabitants of the island weren’t a part of the greater scheme of things; that they didn’t matter.”
“That was pretty cold of her.” Zelda frowned. She couldn’t recall the last time she had ever heard Valerie say something to callous.
“You know, your island doesn’t exist.”
“I looked at every map and every atlas I could get my hands on, I couldn’t find it anywhere.”
“That’s not surprising. I told you there’s never been contact with the outside world.”
“You’re thinking like a Human,” Tress informed her. “Hylian maps aren’t made by hand, they’re made by magic.”
“What do you mean?”
“Some Hylian cartographer flicks his wrist, does some hocus pocus and the lines just appear on the parchment. Centuries ago maps were made by hand, but it’s a lost art at this point in Hyrule.”
“The point is, if Koholint existed, it would show up on the map. Mapping spells don’t miss whole islands.”
“What does this mean?”
Tress shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Zelda sighed in frustration. “I was supposed to be meeting Link tonight. We were going to capture another dungeon.”
“How many do you have so far?”
“Three!” Tress exploded. “You’ve only got three! I would have had them all by now!”
Zelda smirked slightly. “Like when you recaptured the eight masks of the ancients from Naxor?”
“I don’t like to brag,” Tress said with a huge smile. “Oh who am I kidding? I love to brag!”
“Well, we seem to be stuck with each other for awhile. What do you suggest we do, Hero?”
“This place doesn’t have three levels for nothing. Let’s get up there and see what there is to see. What do you think, Princess?”
“Sounds fun, but one thing.”
“Don’t call me Princess.”
“All right, but fair’s fair. Don’t call me Hero.”
“Good. That’s what the bad guys always seem to call us.”
“You idiot! You’ve brought me the wrong girl!” The jarring shout woke Link up, but he didn’t dare open his eyes. At least, not all at once. Slowly, he peeked out of his left eye. Things were a little fuzzy at first, but they came into focus after a moment and Link struggled to gain his bearings.
“Let me try to explain!” Standing on the other side of the room, Link could see the back of the Zora who had attacked him. And Matilda. Link rolled his head to one side and saw Matilda lying beside him. They were in a square room and there must have been at least five inches of water on the ground. Link flicked his wrist, slashing some water onto her face. Suddenly, her eyes popped open and Link clamped a hand over her mouth, pressing his index finger to his lips to signal silence. She nodded in understanding and Link slowly removed his hand.
“No explanations!” a female voice boomed from out of nowhere. “You failed me, worm!”
“Please, please,” the Zora pled, “you told me they would be together!”
“You’re an idiot.”
“I’ll make it right ma’am. Let me kill this one now and then I’ll find the other one.”
Matilda grabbed Link’s arm. “What’s going on?” she whispered.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
“Where are we?”
In all honesty, Link had a pretty good idea of where they were. They were in a dungeon, Angler’s Tunnel to be exact. Nevertheless, he shrugged helplessly, watching the scene. He supposed that the voice he was hearing from nowhere was the Nightmare. She must have sent the Zora, her Guardian perhaps, to kidnap him and Zelda. The Guardian had seen Link chatting with Matilda and had mistaken her for Zelda, kidnapping them.
“One last chance,” the Nightmare’s shrill voice said heavily. There was a flash of green light, forcing Link to blink his eyes painfully. When his vision cleared, the Zora was gone. In place of the familiar creature was a new form that Link had never seen before. The Zora was transformed into an enormous pink Gel, an amorphous demon native to Hyrule, only this particular Gel had four long tentacles flailing out from its back giving it the appearance of a squid or octopus. “Kill them both!” the Nightmare screamed.
“Link,” Matilda hissed, “my hookshot is gone.”
Instinctively, Link reached behind him for his sword. The Master Sword was missing. “My sword is gone too,” he replied, “This is bad timing, considering that thing wants to kill us.” He scanned the room. There! On a small raised platform in the center, he saw his sword, resting beside Matilda’s hookshot. The Guardian was approaching them now. “Whatever you do,” Link ordered Matilda, “don’t leave this corner.” Without waiting for a reply, Link sprang to his feet. He sprinted across the room, ending up in the corner diagonal from Matilda. “Hey Ugly!” he shouted, waving his hands above his head. “Over here!”
The Giant Gel turned around, the tentacles momentarily wrapping around before the Guardian managed to gain control of them. “Hey you, hold still!” Despite the change in form, the creature’s voice remained the same. It shot out one of the tentacles at Link. Skillfully, he ducked underneath it then stood up, bringing his foot down on it. The tentacle stretched like rubber and the Guardian hollered in pain. Quickly, it withdrew the limb, whining like a puppy.
Taking advantage of the precious seconds while the Guardian recovered, Link bounded up on top of the platform, grabbing his sword. Spinning around, he kicked Matilda’s hookshot off and faced the Gel.
“You idiot!” the Nightmare’s voice shrilled. “Why didn’t you destroy that sword!?”
“I tried to!” the Gel said with a trembling voice. “Everything I tried failed. The sword can’t be destroyed.”
“Kill him!” she demanded. “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!”
For a split second, Link almost felt sorry for the poor creature, enduring the Nightmare’s shrill temper tantrum. In the next moment, however, that pity disappeared because the Gel shot out two more tentacles at him. Link dodged the first one completely, but the second clipped his ear, causing a sharp pain and a trickle of blood down his neck. He clamped his left hand to his ear, cringing. “That wasn’t very nice,” he growled, gritting his teeth.
“You were expecting us to be nice, Hero?” the Nightmare’s voice responded, much to Link’s surprise.
“I’ll get to you later,” Link blurted, grabbing his hilt with both hands.
“We’ll see,” she said in a singsong tone.
Another tentacle came flying at Link’s head. He threw his blade forward, knocking it off to one side. The Guardian yelped as the tentacle was split in half, one end flying away from the rest into a corner. Link jumped off the platform, landing with a loud splash in the ankle deep water. “You broke my arm!” the Guardian shouted. Howling in anger, it lashed out another tentacle at Link. Link cut a dash across the room, easily staying clear of the blow. The Guardian turned in a circle to face him, again the tentacles dragging behind slightly to wrap halfway around the Gel’s body.
“You’re trying to kill me,” Link responded.
“Yes, then my mistress will be pleased with me.”
“I don’t think so,” Link muttered. He ran across the room once more. Again, the Guardian turned around, dragging his tentacles behind.
“You will not harm Mistress Angelika,” the Guardian insisted.
“We’ll see,” Link replied, imitating Angelika’s singsong tone of voice. Wishing he were aided by the power of the Pegasus Boots, Link began to run in long, wide circles around the Guardian. Confused, the Guardian continued to turn, trying to keep its enormous eyes trained on the Hylian boy. Gradually, the three remaining tentacles (and the stub of the fourth one) began to wrap around the creature’s hulking pink body. Once. Twice. Soon, the tentacles had become a tangled mess.
Link stopped running. The Guardian, of a greater mass, was unable to stop so abruptly and turned another two circles before managing to halt. By this point, the tentacles must have been wrapped around it five or six times. The Guardian tried to pull them back into place, but, like a true Gel, its pink body was so sticky that it became completely stuck.
Pulling his arm back, Link hurled the Master Sword forward, landing it cleanly between the Gel’s two pale eyes. Like a balloon, the creature deflated, shriveling down until it resembled little more than a white, amorphous blob of tissue. Link carefully took a few steps forward. At arm’s length from the creature, he picked up the Master Sword, dipping it in the water to wipe it completely clean before returning it to the sheath on his back.
Finally confident that it wouldn’t attack him again, Link contorted his face into a grimace and muttered the only thing that seemed logical at the time. “Ew…”
He noticed, looking away from the disgusting display, that at some point, one of the tentacles had smashed into the wall, bashing a giant hole into the ancient stone, creating a doorway to another room. Carefully, he picked his way through the mess and poked his head into the next room. Other than a lonely Spark running around, it was empty and, even better yet, dry. Already, Link was beginning to shiver, not only from the presence of evil, but from the cold water he was drenched in.
“I think we can find a way out through here,” he said, turning to address Matilda. Much to surprise, when his eyes fell on the corner where he had left her, he found that she was gone. “Matilda?” he asked, turning in circles to see if she had moved to a different corner. Aside from the gooey remains of the Guardian, Link was alone in the room. He walked over to where her hookshot had fallen off the platform. That was missing also.
The three of them sat in absolute silence. Staring down below at the lower chamber, where once Kurt had knelt before them in reverence, where once their servants and Guardians catered to their every demand and their position was secure. Floating somewhere above the orange tiles, now, was a projected image, a cross section of Angelika’s dungeon. Tiny figures swam across the panorama, going about their business. The trio remained intently focused on a small green speck of light that moved through the miniature chambers, defeating any of Angelika’s terrified servants that happened to be in the way.
Flame bridged his flickering fingers in front of what would pass for his face. To his right was Hawk, sitting perched on the edge of his throne, his eyes focused on the floating image. On his left, Face sat in the chair that had once belonged to Iris, one leg slung over the armrest, the other underneath his chin. All the other thrones were empty now. The décor of the room lay shattered on the ground beneath the image. The lights had faded.
“Oh look, they’re right above Angelika’s chamber now,” Hawk muttered, gesturing to the hologram.
Flame didn’t respond. Instead, he remained staring fixedly on the image while his mind replayed each and every battle that the mortals had fought against the Nightmares. In his mind’s eye, he saw Link’s blade slice through Kurt’s belly. He saw Zelda plunge the Master Sword into Tail’s tail. Again, Gene’s bottle was shattered by Carry and his body was destroyed by the Hylian girl from the portal. Finally, he replayed Link’s slaying of Iris in Erigie.
“Do you suppose she’s really just going to stay down there?” Hawk asked absently.
Again, Flame ignored him. His mind had conjured up countless other scenes, ones that thankfully hadn’t occurred. He had seen the Hylians killing each and every one of the others, including himself. There were a thousand different ways to play it out, each one more horrific to Flame than the last. The thing that truly scared him the most though, was the fact that he had never before doubted the abilities of himself and his siblings. Fear was something new to him and that was the truly terrifying aspect of the whole ordeal.
“Personally, if it were me, I’d stay more than one story away from the Hylians,” Hawk continued.
“Shut up Hawk!” Flame roared, the light emitted by his body flaring up for a moment before returning to a normal level.
“I was only making conversation,” Hawk grumbled.
“Now is not the appropriate time to be babbling, Brother,” Face commented without tearing his big black eyes away from the scene.
“Well I would hardly call it babbling,” Hawk continued. “I mean, babbling is talking incessantly, and as you know, there is nothing that I can’t control and that includes the amount of time and energy I put into talking and com –”
“Shut up Hawk!”
There was another flare of light in the room, but this time it wasn’t from Flame. Behind the floating image, somewhere near the giant mother of pearl doors leading into the chamber, there was a sudden combustion and a fire in the shape of a humanoid appeared and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Remaining behind was Catsy, decked out in a slinky purple dress with a flowing gold sheet wrapped around one arm and her waist. Her left arm had six brown leather bands going around her muscles.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve showing your face here Catsy,” Flame growled, rising to his feet.
“Nerve runs in the family,” she replied. She stepped forward, passing through the projection as though passing through air. As she cleared through it, the image rippled and wavered before resuming its normal shape and form.
“How appropriate it is that you should address us from below,” Hawk sneered in a nasal voice.
“Oh? Am I doing something appropriate? Forgive me.” She flicked her wrists and in a flash of fire, suddenly appeared up on the balcony level in Angelika’s throne. “There. I wouldn’t want to disappoint you.”
“You are unbelievable,” Flame muttered.
“I know,” she gushed.
“What are you doing here?” Face asked.
Catsy offered them a wicked smile. “I wanted to check in on Angelika’s progress.”
“Go find out for yourself,” Hawk demanded. “This is a private viewing, true Nightmares only.”
“Is that so?” Catsy asked, leaning back in the chair. “And may I ask how you would define a true Nightmare?”
“One that remains loyal to the family and to the cause,” Hawk replied without missing a beat.
“Is that so?”
“Well, then, it seems to me that you three are living in hypocrisy just as much as I am.”
“What do you mean?” Flame questioned her.
“I mean to say, dear brother, that if the definition of true Nightmare is one that remains loyal to the family, then there are, in fact, only two true Nightmares in this room.”
“There is a traitor in your midst,” she replied evenly.
“You’re the only traitor here!” Hawk roared, jumping to his feet.
“That’s not true,” Catsy shot back in an icy voice.
“You’re just trying to make us paranoid,” Hawk continued, taking several menacing steps in her direction. “It won’t happen.”
“Fine, don’t trust me,” Catsy said, directing her comment at Flame, despite the fact that Hawk was bearing down her. “It’s all the same to me frankly; I just thought you’d like to know that you’re being betrayed on two sides. It’s the very least I could do for my big brother.”
“Suppose we were willing to listen to you Catsy,” Flame said evenly. “Why should we believe you?”
“You shouldn’t believe me.”
“Ha!” Flame scoffed, starting to turn his back on her.
“But you should believe the curse.”
Flame stopped and turned back to her. “The curse?”
Face sat up straight. “'And if one Nightmare shall betray the others, this traitor shall not see the light of day,'” he recited. Everyone turned to look at him. “It’s written on the wall of the Dream Shrine.”
“It was written on the wall of the Dream Shrine,” Catsy corrected him. “It’s gone now.”
“Ancient words,” Flame waved his hand, as if to express that they were meaningless.
“Ancient words which are true,” Catsy countered. “The curse has been fulfilled. As a traitor, I cannot set foot in sunlight.”
“I’m glad it is so then,” Flame sneered.
“As it is so for me, it is also so for the other traitor.”
“There is no other traitor!” Hawk insisted.
“Time will unfold everything,” Catsy sighed. “That’s what Time does. But sometimes, Time needs a little encouragement.”
“Get out Catsy,” Flame ordered. “Get out of my sight.”
“Careful with your phrasing Flame. I could just turn invisible.”
“I would still smell your traitorous stench.”
“That’s not very nice,” Catsy pretended to pout. “I happen to think that I smell perfectly lovely.”
Catsy bounded to her feet in one menacing instant, her cold eyes burning. She stepped forward, her stride with such authority that Hawk took an instinctive step backwards. “I warn you Flame,” she hissed, looking directly at him, “do not underestimate me and do not underestimate my words. Gene learned only too late that I was correct.”
“I will take it under advisement,” Flame replied, his voice trembling as he struggled to maintain control of himself.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Catsy said with an equally contained rage. “Either way, you’ll soon all be dead.” Without another word or glance, Catsy flicked her wrists, vanishing in an explosion of fire.
After a moment of silence, Face shifted thoughtfully in his seat. “She’s lying,” he murmured.
“Of course she is!” Hawk exploded. “There is no other traitor. She’s the one that betrayed us.”
“No,” Face corrected him, “not about that. She may be lying about that, I don’t know. That isn’t what I was talking about.”
“Then what, may I ask, was she lying about?”
“When she said it didn’t matter to her. It obviously does matter to her or she wouldn’t have mentioned it.”
“This is ridiculous,” Hawk exclaimed, dropping back into his throne.
“The question is,” Face continued, “why would it matter to her? What’s the traitor doing that’s got her so upset?”
“There is no traitor!” Hawk bellowed.
“Silence, both of you,” Flame commanded. Instantly, both of them shut their mouths and turned to look at him. “We have more important matters to attend to at the moment. Angelika’s survival. Everything else can wait.” Without another word, Flame sat down in his chair and turned all his attention to the image of Angler’s Tunnel. In his ear though, he could hear Catsy’s voice urging him to use sunlight. He tried his best to ignore it, staring blankly down as he watched the small green figure wind through the twisting hallways of the dungeon, directly above Angelika’s haven.
Matilda pushed her cap back on her head, causing a few greasy strands of hair to fall into her eyes. She brushed them aside with the tip of her hookshot. Her vision was blurry enough as it was and she blinked rapidly, trying to clear the clouds dancing in front of her. Half satisfied; she gave up and walked under the low, mossy doorway and into the next chamber.
The entire room, like much of the rest of the dungeon, was flooded, but judging from the way the color of the water changed, Matilda guessed that somewhere in the middle of the room was a notable drop. There were five pink tiles arranged across the floor, each one with a sparkling round ruby in the center. Matilda didn’t take much time to admire the setting though, because three Tektites came skittering across the surface of the deep water the moment they saw Matilda walk through the door.
Resting one end of the hookshot on her left forearm, Matilda released the trigger, sending the hook and chain flying at the closest of the creatures. The hook caught one of its brittle yellow legs and Matilda yanked hard on the chain, throwing it to one side. The screaming Tektite, its white mouth opened in a perfect circle, flew on the end of the hookshot, crashing into a second one. A collision ensued, so strong that instantly the round bodies of the demons, with their four spindly legs dissolved, allowing the business end of the hookshot to splash to the ground.
“Two down,” Matilda muttered, reeling in the chain.
The third Tektite halted in its charge and watched Matilda with its eerily eyeless face. “You’re not one of the Hylians,” it said. The creature had an oddly boyish voice and though it was clearly coming from its wide mouth, its white lips didn’t move as it spoke.
Matilda blinked her tired eyes, not quite comprehending. “One of the Hylians,” she repeated.
“I know you,” it continued. “You’re Matilda.”
“Kill it!” a command screamed from the back of Matilda’s brain. Obediently, she raised her hookshot again, aiming the hook at the tiny Tektite’s mouth. There was a clicking sound and the chain shot out, nailing the creature directly into the wall. As its round body collided, it too dissolved.
Sweeping her eyes across the room for any sign of more trouble, Matilda reeled in the chain again. There seemed to be nothing around. Hanging her weapon onto her belt, Matilda dug into her pocket, removing a neatly folded sheet of parchment. She walked over to a wall, unfolding the page and pressing it down to smooth it out. Her eyes wandered across the neatly drawn ink squares, searching for the one representing her current position in the dungeon.
A very small part of her, buried, it seemed, underneath some insanely heavy baggage felt guilty for stealing Carry’s map of Angler’s Tunnel. It had been a necessary evil, she reasoned. She also knew that she would be safe from discovery, as Carry’s secret stash of dungeon maps was, well, secret.
After finding the correct room, Matilda noticed an asterisk. Her eyes fell down to the bottom of the page where, in very neat hand writing, there was an inscription. “The glint of the tile will be your guide…” she read aloud. Beneath the inscription was a small drawing of five squares, each with a circle in the middle. The squares had numbers by them and they were arranged in the same shape as the tiles on the floor of the chamber she was in.
Matilda glanced at the tile in the middle. On the map, that one had a numeral of one next to it. Carefully, she walked over to the central tile, stepping around the deep water to stand on top of it. There was a mysterious ringing sound. Matilda looked around, as if expecting something more to happen. When nothing did, she turned her eyes back down to the map. There was a number two by the upper square to the right of the middle one. Scowling, she walked over to that tile and stood on top of it. Again, there was a ring and nothing more.
She followed the rest of the sequence, going down, then directly to her left, jumping carefully over the deep water to the raised tile. Number five in the sequence was completely surrounded by deep water. Looking around nervously, she tried to see if there was anything she could plunge her hookshot into to suspend her above the tile. Unfortunately, the walls and ceiling were made of stone. Biting her lips together, she took a deep breath and jumped over the water, landing cleanly on the tile. Again, the room rang, but nothing else seemed to happen.
“Thanks a lot Carry,” she muttered.
Matilda turned around so quickly that she just barely got a glimpse of Link standing the doorway before completely losing her balance and falling into the water. Immediately, she got a good impression of just how deep the water really was. “Help!” she screamed, pumping her legs furiously to stay afloat while flailing her arms.
Link instantly ran to the edge of the water and jumped in, swimming to Matilda’s aid. He grabbed her around the waist with one arm while using the other to propel them back to the shallow part of the pool. Once they could feel the ground beneath them again, Link let go of her, spitting some water out of his mouth. “Are you all right?” he asked.
Matilda ran a hand over her hair, slicking it back. She nodded once then started coughing. “Great,” she croaked.
Link glanced at the deep end. Matilda’s hat was floating on the surface, bouncing up and down from the ripples formed during the rescue. After taking a deep breath, Link jumped back into the water and swam across the room to grab Matilda’s cap. He returned to the swallow end and presented it to her grandly. “I believe this belongs to you.”
“Thanks,” Matilda replied, accepting the offering. She squeezed the felt, wringing all the water out before plopping it back on top of her head.
“I told you to stay in the corner,” Link said.
“Yeah, I didn’t listen.”
“You should have waited for me.”
“I panicked,” Matilda lied.
“I can’t blame you,” Link sighed.
“What was that thing that captured us? And why did it capture us? What are we doing here? Where is here?” The questions came out so rapidly that one bled into the next.
Link frowned. He figured he might as well tell her something to calm her down. “I think we’re in Angler’s Tunnel,” he replied.
“Angler’s Tunnel,” Matilda repeated. “That’s impossible.”
“Whatever, why are we here?”
“I don’t know.”
Matilda paused. She debated whether or not she should mention that the Tektites had been expecting a Hylian. While she didn’t understand herself what they could possibly want with Link, she reached the conclusion that it would be better not to mention the monsters she had slain at all, for fear of raising Link’s suspicion concerning her agenda. “That isn’t comforting.”
“We should find a way out of here.”
“Link, this place is huge, how are we going to find the way out? They brought us in unconscious.” Subtly, Matilda shoved the wet remains of Carry’s map deeper into her pocket.
“The old fashioned way. We’ll look.” Link stood up, offering Matilda his hand. She accepted it and he pulled her to her feet. “Stay close. There are all sorts of creepy crawlies that could be hiding down here. They can really take a piece out of you if you’re not careful.”
Matilda nodded. She took a step forward, brushing her boot against the middle tile. Suddenly, all five of the rubies lit up, as if on fire. The ground began to tremble. “What’s happening?” Matilda shouted over the rumble.
“I don’t know!” Link replied.
It was then that the ground opened up, swallowing the two of them whole.
Tress and Zelda had nearly completed an entire ring around the room and so far, they hadn’t encountered anything remotely resembling a stairway to the second tier. “Too bad you’re not a lucid dreamer,” Tress sighed.
“A lucid dreamer?”
“Yeah, Higgins told me about lucid dreamers. They can control their dreams. They think about something, and it just happens.”
Zelda frowned. “I’ve never tried that before.”
“I have. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.”
She stopped walking. Tress whirled around to look at her. “Let me try,” she reasoned, “it won’t hurt.”
“Start small. Try changing your dress or something.”
Zelda turned her eyes down and concentrated. She stared intently at the green folds of fabric, willing them to change. “I’m not a lucid dreamer,” she decided after a long pause.
“They’re rare,” Tress replied. They continued on, searching the walls of the middle tier.
“I’ve curious. What’s with the ocarina?”
“I saw you shove an ocarina in your pocket earlier.”
Scowling, Tress removed the shiny instrument from her pocket and stared down at it as she walked. “I was standing right in front of it in the artifacts room when I blacked out.”
“What is it?”
“The Ocarina of Time.”
“That sounds familiar.”
“Well it should. It’s an ancient artifact of Hyrule. One of the most important ones too.”
“What’s the story behind it?”
Tress wrinkled her nose, furrowing her brow in concentration. “It was extremely important in the fall of Ganondorf Dragmire.”
“The first fall of Ganondorf Dragmire?”
“Right. This was the important one though. The one that changed him from Ganondorf, Gerudo Prince, to Ganon, the pig monster.”
Zelda laughed. “How did the ocarina help? I feel secure in saying that our ancestors didn’t play him to death.”
“Never underestimate the power of music in the hands of Hylians,” Tress said. “A simple tune can kill a Pols Voice.”
“All right, I stand corrected, our ancestors did play Ganondorf Dragmire to death.”
“Well…no.” Tress shrugged. “The details are fuzzy at best, but the ocarina has the power to change reality.”
“I’m not sure if I even understand it that well, but from what I recall, the Ocarina of Time can create new reality. I don’t know.”
“I thought you said the Ocarina of Time was one of the most important artifacts of Hyrule.”
“Well it is. I’m just more of a fan of the Moon Pearl.” Tress turned to give Zelda a mischievous grin, but she suddenly froze.
“Tress?” Zelda stopped to look at her. “Tress? What is it?”
Tress lifted a finger to point. “Your dress.”
Zelda looked down, her eyes widening. Gone were the simple green folds of her cotton shift. She found herself wearing an elaborate purple gown, made of shimmering fabrics that looked brand new. “I did it,” she whispered, touching the dress to see how it felt.
“You are a lucid dreamer,” Tress confirmed. “And it’s my favorite color too,” she added, gesturing to her own purple tunic.
“I’ll have to remember this,” Zelda muttered.
“Try it on the scenery,” Tress urged her, gesturing to the flat wall panel of the second tier.
Zelda turned to face the wall. She squared her shoulders, pushing her hair behind her back and stared intently at the paneling. Like liquid, the wood seemed to melt, reshaping itself until a staircase formed. Zelda carefully nudged the stairs with her toe. They certainly felt real.
“Now that is one handy trick,” Tress grinned. She began to climb the stairs and Zelda followed after her.
“Tress, how can the Ocarina of Time be in my dream?”
“Well it is a new reality,” Tress guessed. She reached the top of the stairs and looked around, examining the second tier. “There’s nothing here,” she said sounding disappointed.
“I’ll make a stairway to the top then,” Zelda replied, sounding just a little more than pleased with herself. She stared down the wall, concentrating and even quicker than before, a liquid staircase formed and hardened in front of them.
“You’re getting good at that.”
“I’m a fast learner.”
Together they climbed up the stairs. The third tier was horribly narrow, divided in two by the quartz squares. Each side seemed identical, save for the newly formed stairway leading to the left side. “Nothing,” Tress muttered, turning in a full circle to examine the chamber.
A sound erupted from out of nowhere, the caw of a bird. “That’s it!” Zelda hissed, grabbing Tress by the arm, “that’s the exact same sound I heard last time I dreamed and was attacked.”
“Looks like your enemies just saw the opportunity to send a Fantom.”
“Or a dozen,” Zelda whispered. Looking around, she saw quite a few small creatures climbing up over the sides of the top tier. They were bright pink, resembling penguins with large, yawning holes instead of beaks.
“Armmimics,” Tress muttered, eyeing the creatures with extreme dislike.
“They’re in the form of Armmimics.”
“What’s an Armmimic?” Zelda asked. “I’m guessing it means more than pink, slimy penguin.”
“Demons. If they touch you, they suck a good deal of your life force right out of you. It can take days to recover from the touch of an Armmimic.”
As if on cue, one of the squat demons suddenly squeaked and came charging at them. They parted, dodging of its way. “Fast little thing,” Zelda muttered.
“Some weapons would be nice right about now,” Tress said.
Zelda concentrated, looking down at her hands. Suddenly an elaborate bow appeared in her grasp. Unlike her old wooden bow, this one was made of gold and the ends stemming out of the grip twisted, like two coiled snakes. The bowstring was taut and made of a fabric that was clear, making the string almost invisible.
“Nice,” Tress exclaimed. Looking up, Zelda saw that she was now brandishing a fancy blade.
Zelda looked down at her bow again. “But where are the –” Suddenly, three of the Armmimics came rushing at them. Tress swung the broadsword in a wide arch, taking two of the creatures out. The third one was headed directly at Zelda. Instinctively, she pulled back the bowstring, even knowing that she had no arrows. Much to her surprise, a shaft of gold light energy appeared, loaded in her bow like an arrow. She released the string and the shaft flew forward, hitting the Fantom Armmimic right in between its haunting black eyes.
Seeing their three friends defeated, all of the other Armmimics began rushing at the Hylians, squeaking and squealing. Somewhere indistinct, Zelda could hear the caw of a bird again, but she didn’t have much time to notice, as the creatures were all reaching forward with their shiny pink flippers to try and touch her.
Tress seemed to be having a time with it. She dashed forward, slashing two Armmimics off to either side of her with the sword. Thrusting it forward, she closed her eyes, sending wisps of ether into the blade. It began to glow and she suddenly turned around, swinging the sword in a full circle and taking out several more Armmimics.
Much to Zelda’s disappointment however, she noticed that the more Fantoms they took out, the more there seemed to be. Countless other Armmimics were clambering up over the walls and onto the top tier to race at them. She continuously fired her magical arrows at them, turning in circles to defend herself from all sides, but reality was too much to be ignored. “There are too many of them!”
Tress grunted, knocking another Fantom off of the tier with the flat part of her sword. “Behind you!” she shouted.
Zelda had only half turned around before Tress lunged forward, pulling her to the ground. An Armmimic flew over them and over the side of the tier, having missed the target. “Thanks,” Zelda muttered.
Tress climbed up to her feet and turned to knock another creature away. Zelda attempted to stand up, but her foot got tangled in the folds of her dress and she fell back down again. Her leg hit something hard. Pushing aside the silk, she discovered the Ocarina of Time on the ground. She picked it up and was about to tell Tress that she had dropped it when she noticed yet another new development. The Armmimics had started flying up over the side now.
“That’s cheating!” Tress shouted. “Armmimics can’t fly!”
“I don’t think they’re terribly concerned with fairness,” Zelda deadpanned, her eyes filled with horror as a rain of Armmimics started to descend down on them. The caw shook the entire chamber. Instinctively, Zelda brought her arms up, shielding her face. She suddenly felt the sensation of the floor dropping out from beneath her. To her horror, she suddenly discovered that she couldn’t open her eyes.
A voice was whispering in her ear. It was her own. “I wonder where these coconut trees came from…Tarin says there is nothing beyond the sea, but I believe there must be something over there…When I discovered you, Link, my heart skipped a beat! I thought this person has come to give us a message…If I was a seagull; I would fly as far as I could! I would fly to far places and sing for many people...If I wish to the Windfish, I wonder if my dream will come true…Hey! Are you listening? Link, are you listening to me? I want to know everything about you…”
The freefall was brief, but suddenly, Zelda felt something hard and cold against her chin, even though she couldn’t actively remember hitting the ground or actively turning over from her back. Slowly, her eyes opened her vision terribly cloudy. She blinked and found herself staring down at the jade tiles that had become so familiar to her.
She rolled over onto her back and sat up. She was in the Dream Shrine. “Ow,” she moaned softly. As she sat up, she looked down at her dress. Once more, she was wearing her plain green shift. With a sigh, she began to stand up when she became aware of something in her hand. When she looked down, her eyes widened as she saw the Ocarina of Time firmly clutched in her fingers.
Her vision turned blurry. The room was spinning again. Coughing violently, she struggled to maintain consciousness, but all the same she slipped, falling back to the ground. Suddenly, there was a rumbling sound from outside of the shrine. Moonlight suddenly flooded the chamber as the door flew open.
Link sat up dizzily. For a moment, the room seemed to be dancing, but as he took long, deep breaths, compensating for earlier when the wind had been knocked out of him, things began to slow down. He tried to comprehend what had just occurred. They had been in a room with five tiles which had suddenly sprung to life. And then they had fallen.
He looked up. Sure enough, above he could see a gaping wound in the ceiling. Water was streaming down into their current chamber, creating a temporary waterfall. Matilda, already on her feet, took a step toward the waterfall. There was a large crunch and she looked down, finding her foot on top of a smashed bone. She shrieked, recoiling a few steps. By this time, Link had also risen to his feet. As he looked around, he realized that the entire floor was littered with headless skeletons.
“It’s okay,” he said, trying to sound reassuring. He looked up, trying to gauge how far they had fallen. The water splattered all over his face. With an irritable sigh, he wiped it away then turned to Matilda. “Come on.” Grabbing her forearm, he pulled her through the waterfall. On the other side, they got a clearer picture of the room.
It wasn’t really a room, more like a sunken cave. They stood on one shore of a deep lake. The gap they had fallen through was just above their shore. As Link scanned the room, his eyes fell on a rotted wooden ladder, leading up to a trap door. His smile of triumph quickly faded though, when he saw a figure moving toward them from the opposite shore.
When she stepped out of the shadows, Link was surprised. He had been expecting some sort of slimy, scaly creature. Instead, she seemed perfectly Human to him. Admittedly, the purple hair and eyes were a little strange, but he had seen stranger in his days.
She examined the two of them for a moment. “Fish food,” she muttered with a haughty air of certainty.
“Link,” Matilda hissed, “that’s the voice that was giving orders to the creature that kidnapped us.”
“So you’re Link,” she continued, giving him the once over. “Your handiwork has quickly become a thing of legend on this island.”
Matilda blinked. “Handiwork?”
“Ganondorf Dragmire,” Link muttered without missing a beat.
“Well, there’s that,” the Nightmare nodded. “The name’s Angelika. I’ll be killing you shortly.”
“I’m not inclined to let you do so,” Link replied coolly.
“I love a good banter before a fight,” Angelika sighed. “But there is too much of a good thing. So.” With that, she pressed her palms together and dove into the lake separating them.
“What was that?” Matilda asked.
“You’re not going to go in there are you?”
“Of course not. I’m –”
Suddenly, a long tentacle shot out from beneath the surface of the water and wrapped itself around Link’s leg. He let out a yelp of surprise just before the tentacle yanked back and pulled him into the water.
“Link?” Matilda turned just in time to see him go under. “Link!” She pursed her lips. Reaching into her pocket, she withdrew a glittering green charm. It was shaped like a fin. Matilda had been careful not to mention to Link that she had found it in the many twists and turns of the dungeon. Yanking off her left boot, Matilda pressed the jewel to her foot. In an instant, like glue, it adhered to her skin. She found feel a tingle rushing over her entire body. After putting her boot back on, she leapt into the water.
Although the water was deathly cold, Matilda didn’t notice. She felt that it was lukewarm in fact. Breathing easily in and out, taking no heed of the fact that there was no air to be found, she swam down. That’s when she saw it. Gone was any remote resemblance Angelika had once had of a Human. Gripping Link tightly with a glowing white tentacle sprung from her forehead was the true Nightmare, an enormous fish with large, black eyes and countless folds of red flesh gathered around the gills.
Matilda grabbed her hookshot and immediately fired it at the tentacle. Angelika roared in surprise, releasing Link. He shot up to the surface, his face turning blue for want of air. Angrily, the Nightmare turned on Matilda. She surged forward, charging at Matilda. Effortlessly, Matilda pumped her legs and swam up, out of the way. Angelika hit the wall of the cave. As the water churned viciously, some rocks fell from above down to the bottom of the lake which much to Matilda’s horror was littered with the skulls from the skeletons above.
Link dove back down into the water, dragging his sword behind him. When Angelika turned to charge again, Link slashed out at the tentacle on her forehead, batting it away before she could throw it at Matilda. Matilda, pretending to need air, had swum up to the surface. She looked down, aiming her hookshot for Angelika’s back. When she fired, the hook shot forward, burying itself into the countless folds of flesh. Angelika wailed and charged to the other wall, pulling Matilda along behind her. Link moved out of the path and slashed, severing the tentacle once and for all.
Angelika began swimming in circles. Matilda held on tightly, waiting out the wild ride to the best of her ability. As Link went up for air, Matilda began reeling in the chain of her hookshot, pulling herself closer to the wounded Nightmare. Several angler fry fish came creeping out of the shadows, alarmed by Angelika’s tantrum. They started to converge in on Matilda. She swatted at them with her feet, but there were just too many. Luckily, at that moment, Link came diving back down, swinging his sword from side to side to clear the bothersome fish out of the way.
Matilda reeled herself down until she was practically sitting on Angelika’s back. Yanking with all of her might, she pulled the business end of her hookshot free. From the wound, something gray began oozing out into the water. It wasn’t blood, but Matilda had no idea what it really was.
Finished with the smaller fish, Link came down behind Matilda, ramming his sword into Angelika’s back. Pulling it out, the entire lake began to fog up, making it difficult to see. Link grabbed Matilda’s arm and gestured for her to surface with him. Together, they rose as fast as possible, blindly looking for the exit.
Gasping and panting, Matilda just for show, Link for real, the two of them, climbed up onto the shore. Link spat some water out of his mouth. “Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Matilda replied. She looked down at the lake. The water was so murky now that she couldn’t see anything. “Did we kill it?”
“I think so.”
“What do you say we don’t wait around to find out?”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Link stood up, sopping wet. He turned in a circle, locating the wooden ladder. After helping Matilda to her feet, he sheathed his sword and began to ascend up the rotten, damp rungs.
At the top of the ladder, they found themselves in a narrow room with four bright torches burning against the walls. Link walked over to one of the torches and held his hands over it. Matilda, meanwhile, curiously wandered to one of the two doors leading out of the room. “Let’s never do that again.”
“I second that,” Link replied. He sighed heavily. “I just got over being sick too. Now I’m sure to get another cold.”
“You don’t actually get a cold from being cold,” Matilda muttered, walking across the room to the other doorway.
“Maybe not. Hey, your swimming skills improved down there.”
“Yeah,” Matilda mumbled, “well I have lived all of my life on an island.”
“I know, but you were practically drowning earlier. Remember? I had to fish you out of that deep end. Down there it was like you –” Link felt a sharp blow to the back of his head. Instantly, before he could hit the floor, he lost consciousness.
Matilda stood over him, holding her hookshot tightly, holding her breath to see if he would stir. When he didn’t, she slowly lowered the weapon, keeping a close eye on him. “Sorry,” she muttered. With that, she turned on heel and marched through one of the low doorways, into the adjoining room.
The chamber was brightly lit by the dancing flames in the corners. Matilda moved forward, climbing up four steps onto the altar in the back. Guarded by four impressive suits of armor was a small speck of light, shimmering bright gold. Matilda knelt down in front of the glowing prize, her eyes welling with tears. She scooped it up and looked at it blinking away her tears. There it was, resting her palm, so innocent, so beautiful. It was the Surf Harp.
“Now what am I to do?” she asked in sotto, unable to take her eyes off of the instrument for a second.
“Bay…” the Voice replied from deep within her mind.
Matilda’s eyes widened. “Martha’s Bay? The Catfish’s Maw, no. I can’t do that. I just can’t.”
“Your road goes into the bay,” the Voice insisted.
Her eyes started tearing up again, only this time not in victory. “No, I can’t. Please don’t ask me to do that. I can’t go there. Not yet. Please, let me go somewhere else. Can’t it wait?”
There was no reply. Once more, the Voice had receded into the depths of Matilda’s subconscious. She stood there, clutching the Surf Harp in her hand, tears rolling down her cheeks. Filled with dread, Matilda could hear the Voice’s orders echoing in her ears again and again. “Bay…Your road goes into the bay…” She couldn’t, she absolutely couldn’t. But then, what choice did she have?
Valerie sat on the windowsill, staring out into the blackness of the forest. Absently, she ran her fingers through her hair, hitting a snaggle. Viciously, she yanked her hand, trying to pull it free, but only making the knot worse. With a small sigh, she patiently began to untangle the mess.
There was a loud rapping on the door, followed by a muffled call. “Valerie, open the door!”
She stood up and slowly made her way to the door. A frown marred her otherwise flawless face. This wasn’t who she had been expecting. “It’s well past midnight,” she replied, facing the door.
“Open the door!” Valerie sighed and pulled the door open. Standing outside was Richard, wearing his navy cape over his nightshirt. In his arms was Zelda, completely unconscious, her arms limply falling to the ground.
“What happened?” Valerie asked, wide eyed.
Richard shoved past her and into the room, putting Zelda down on the bed. “She was in the Dream Shrine.”
“Did you bring her out of the dream state?” Valerie accused.
“No, she wasn’t in the dream state, she was on the floor.”
“Oh.” Valerie crossed the room, going to the basin on her nightstand. She dipped a terrycloth towel into the water then returned to the bed, pressing it on Zelda’s pale forehead.
“Someone put a boulder in front of the door.”
Valerie turned to Richard sharply, her eyes widening again. “A boulder?”
“She was locked in. She nearly asphyxiated.”
Gingerly, Valerie patted Zelda’s cheek with the wet washcloth. Feeling sick, she whispered, “It’s a good thing you were there.”
Richard’s eyebrows shot up. “I beg your pardon?”
“It’s a good thing you were there.”
Zelda began moaning softly, turning her head to one side. “Tress,” she muttered, “be safe, please be safe.”
“Marin,” Valerie said firmly, “Marin you’re dreaming.”
“What’s a Tress?” Richard asked.
“Link?” Zelda coughed, “Link, I saw her.”
“Get me the bottle off of the shelf,” Valerie ordered Richard.
Richard stood up. He turned to face a shelf completely covered in bottles of different colors and sizes, each one containing a bright liquid. “Which one?” he muttered.
“The tall, thin one with the amber liquid.”
Richard nodded, grabbing the bottle and bringing it over to Valerie. Zelda was still talking. Though her eyes were open, she appeared completely dazed and confused. “Link,” she whispered, “I have it, the one you told me about, I have it with me now. I don’t know how.”
“What’s she talking about?” Richard asked, gesturing to her.
“Nothing,” Valerie said evenly, pouring a liberal amount of the liquid onto the cloth.
“There were Fantoms, Link. They tried to keep it from me.”
“Rest now,” Valerie commanded soothingly. She pressed the cloth to Zelda’s forehead.
“She must have lost a lot of oxygen to the brain in there,” Richard droned.
“I’m so tired,” Zelda whimpered.
“It’s all right Marin, it’s all right. Sleep. There will be no phantoms to haunt your dreams,” Valerie assured her. With a soft moan, Zelda’s head fell limp to one side, her eyes dropping.
“Here.” Valerie looked up. Richard was holding out a blanket he had picked up from one of the shelves.
“Thanks,” Valerie replied. She took the blanket and spread it over Zelda.
“Will she be all right?”
Valerie nodded. “She just needs to rest.”
“It’s a good thing I was there,” Richard said proudly.
“Yes,” Valerie muttered with an icy disgust. “What were you doing there anyway?”
“I have as much a right to the Dream Shrine as anyone else,” he replied. “When I got there, I saw a boulder guarding the entrance. Who would put something like that there?”
“I don’t know,” Valerie responded evenly.
“Especially with Marin still inside,” he continued.
Valerie sat on the edge of the bed. Tactfully, she smoothed down Zelda’s hair, making certain it covered her delicate Hylian ear. “She’ll be all right.”
“Who would want to do that to Marin?”
Valerie looked up at him sharply. “Are you suggesting someone was purposely trying to harm her?”
Richard shrugged. “Should it really surprise you?” Valerie opened her mouth to object, but Richard went on quickly. “You can’t deny that strange things have been happening on Koholint ever since that Link showed up. And no one’s spent more time with him than Marin. Deny that if you will.”
“No,” Valerie sighed, “I can’t.”
“Dangerous associations,” Richard mumbled, looking down at Zelda.
“You think someone was trying to get at Link through Marin.”
“It would certainly make sense.”
“Why is it that everyone on this island suddenly has become so distrustful of Link?” Valerie wondered aloud.
“What do you mean?”
“Tarin said something similar to me this afternoon.”
Richard shrugged again, folding his arms across his chest. “Maybe everyone’s just a little weary of all the changes.”
“I thought you held that there was no such thing as change.”
“I said people can’t change,” he corrected her. “Situations can. And people change situations.”
She glanced at him. “You’re contradicting yourself.”
“I think people are just afraid of what Link might do to our way of life.”
“Is our way of life really all that wonderful?” Valerie asked.
“Nobody wants to change the status quo.”
“Sometimes it needs changing.”
He scowled. “Yes. Sometimes it does. But at what cost?”
Valerie gave him an almost sympathetic look, remembering how violently his own status quo had been changed. “Thank you,” she said.
“Saving Marin’s life. Bringing her here.” She paused, pursing her lips. “For keeping quiet.”
“Rest assured, little angel, this evening’s events will be another secret, between you and me.”
Valerie nodded once. She turned to Zelda, smoothing down her hair some more. The door opened and closed again, leaving her alone. Slowly, she stood up, picking up the bottle of sleeping draught. She replaced the stopper and put the bottle back on the shelf.
“Farore,” she muttered, turning around to watch Zelda. “Tell me what the meaning of this is.” She waited for a reply, but none came. She hadn’t exactly been expecting one, but still, the empty silence felt heavy on her shoulders.
With a shake of her head, Valerie sat on the edge of the bed again, folding her hands in her lap. Zelda would awake by sunrise. She would have to wait until then. Luckily, waiting was something that Valerie had become an expert at.
The sun was nearly breaking over the horizon by the time Matilda wearily trudged back to her hut by Martha’s Bay. Cold and starless, the gray sky hummed with the impending dawn. This was always the coldest moment of the day, right before the sunrise.
It had been all too easy for Matilda to fabricate a story about a demon knocking Link out. Oddly enough, she had observed that since Angelika’s defeat, the monsters of Angler’s Tunnel seemed somewhat subdued, almost glad to be rid of their mistress. In fact, they hadn’t given the two of them any trouble as they burrowed a hole in the ceiling of the instrument shrine and climbed their way out of the dungeon.
She felt a great deal of guilt. It was strange, considering she hadn’t heard the Voice command her to ignore it. She genuinely felt sorry for having hit Link over the head and then compounding her crime by lying to him. Sighing heavily, she removed her cap on the threshold of her door and hung it on a peg in the wall.
The tiny hut was in horrible disrepair. Over the last few weeks, Matilda had dedicated, little, if any time to maintaining her home. Now, as she sat down in the gloomy, poorly lit room, her own misery seemed to strike her for the first time.
“It’ll all be worth it,” the Voice cooed in her ear.
“Yeah, yeah,” she sighed. She lowered herself into a wicker chair. Immediately, the brittle straws snapped and the entire structure collapsed, throwing Matilda onto the floor. She cursed loudly, slamming her fist against the hard packed dirt floor in frustration. After calming down a bit, she rolled onto her back and stared up into the depths of her thatched roof. Little patches of light were beginning to appear in the straw. The roof too had been neglected.
Matilda shut her eyes a moment, silently praying that when she opened them again, she wouldn’t be living in such a sad excuse for a home. Sadly, when she opened them she was once again looking at the winking patches of light in her ceiling. “This is not my life,” she whispered vehemently.
“No,” a voice echoed from the shadows, “but you already knew that.”
In a flash, Matilda was sitting up, her arms behind her, holding her upright. “Wh-who’s there?” she asked nervously.
A great flame erupted on the other side of the room, melting into the cool form of a woman with two horns of hair, wearing a magenta tunic with fishnet stockings. “Me,” Catsy said easily, almost purring.
Matilda’s eyes were two saucers. She scooted back on her arms until her back hit the wall. “You…” she whispered.
“Hand it over, Matilda,” Catsy commanded. She took a few powerful steps in her direction.
“Hand it over,” she repeated. Her voice wasn’t cruel or dangerous, but firm and even.
Matilda stared up at her in pure horror. “S-stay away from me!” she screamed, pressing her back into the wall.
Catsy stopped her slow march across the room, looking down at Matilda. “Hand it over,” she said softly.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know perfectly well.”
“No!” Matilda shouted, huddling against the wall. “It’s mine! I won’t give it to you! It’s not yours to take!”
“It’s not yours to keep, Matilda,” Catsy replied calmly.
“You have no power over me!”
Catsy tilted her head to one side. “Don’t be difficult,” she said gently.
“Leave me alone!”
“I will. After you give me what I came here for.”
“Just leave me alone,” Matilda whimpered pitifully.
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can!”
“We can do this the hard way or the easy way Matilda.”
“Then it’ll have to be the hard way!”
Catsy sighed. “So be it.” Gracefully, she lifted her fist to her heart and spread her perfectly manicured fingers, sweeping her arm in Matilda’s direction. Instantly, as if on invisible strings, Matilda was lifted off the ground.
“No!” she screamed, “put me down!”
“Where is it, Matilda?” Catsy asked as she began sweeping through the one room hovel. She opened each of the drawers in Matilda’s night table before turning to a dresser against the far wall. With a wave of her hand, all the drawers flew open and the contents began floating into the air. Catsy merely glanced at it for a moment before another wave of her hand returned everything to normal.
“Stop!” Matilda shrieked.
“Under the bed?” Catsy floated the bed a few inches off the ground before dropping it roughly with a loud clatter of springs.
“No!” Matilda wailed, turning her face partly to the wall.
“Don’t bother projecting your voice out there,” Catsy said in a businesslike manner. “No one will hear.” She glanced at the door. “Certainly no one will come inside,” she added, raising her voice just above Matilda’s shrieks.
“Go away!” Matilda hollered.
“You’re leaving me with little choice,” Catsy muttered mournfully, turning back to Matilda.
“Don’t! Don’t! Please don’t!”
“I’m sorry Matilda. It’s for your own good.” With that, she snapped her fingers.
Instantly, it was as if Matilda had lost complete control of her body. Without intending to, she could feel her arm slowly reaching across her body to the hookshot on her belt. She removed the weapon and began to unscrew the hub on the handle. “No! No! No!” she screamed as her body, out of her control, continued to work. Tossing the hub to one side, she held the weapon vertical over her palm. A tiny speck of light rolled out of the body of the weapon and into her hand.
The entire room burst into a bright golden light, emanating from the small instrument resting in Matilda’s grasp. But she couldn’t close her fingers to grasp it. Instead, she watched in terror as her entire being froze. “The Surf Harp,” Catsy muttered, stepping forward. The light reflected in her dark eyes. Instantly, the Surf Harp leapt up into the air, floating an inch above Matilda’s palm.
“No!” Matilda yelled.
Catsy reached out slowly and took the instrument. The second it left Matilda’s reach, the invisible strings seemed to snap and the girl fell to the floor again. “I’m sorry Matilda,” she whispered, watching the Surf Harp as though it would leap out of her hand like a cricket. “My brother left me no choice.”
The windows of Matilda’s hut were glowing, spilling gold light out into the dark, predawn air. On Matilda’s lawn was Carry, watching as the light danced in front of him. He could hear Matilda crying, he could see Catsy’s silhouette. Ezri sat perched on his shoulder, looking curiously into the blinding light.
Suddenly, as if at the throw of a switch, the light vanished and Matilda’s house was left in darkness. Darkness, but not silence. From inside, Carry could still hear Matilda whimpering. Sadly, Carry lowered his head, long strands of red hair falling over his eyes. As much as he desperately wanted to, he would not go in.
Link paced back and forth across the beach. The sun had risen about twenty minutes ago and already Link had trudged a rather noticeable trench in the sand. A knot had formed on the back of his skull and it throbbed horribly. Absently, he rubbed the spot where he had been hit, according to Matilda, by a large demon frothing at the mouth. The pain didn’t bother him so much, though, as the fact that upon entering the instrument chamber of the dungeon, they had found it empty. The Surf Harp had vanished.
As Link continued to pace, watching his feet dig deeper and deeper into the sand, he felt a new kind of fear gripping his throat. Without all eight instruments, they would never be able to wake the Windfish, and if they couldn’t wake the Windfish, they would never be able to return to Hyrule. For the first time, Link began to doubt the success of the quest. How would they retrieve a missing instrument if it wasn’t in the dungeon where it belonged?
A shadow fell over the ground. Link looked up and saw Zelda racing down the expanse of the beach toward him. She stopped a few feet away and they each regarded the other with eyes full of distress. After an instant of mutual compassion, they moved toward each other. Link wrapped his arms tightly around Zelda’s shoulders while she gripped his waist.
“You’re all right,” he whispered, happily basking in the first drop of good news he had received since they last met.
“So are you.”
“What happened?” He held her at arm’s length. “Where were you?”
“I was locked in the Dream Shrine,” she told him.
“Locked? But the door doesn’t have a latch.”
“Someone moved a boulder in front of the door. I couldn’t get out.”
“Who would do that?”
Zelda shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Link scowled. “I waited for you. Unfortunately, some unforeseen difficulties arrived.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Nightmare of Angler’s Tunnel, she sent her Guardian out to kidnap us. I ran into Matilda on the way to the entrance and the Guardian mistook Matilda for you. We were both knocked out and dragged into the dungeon.”
“What happened then?”
“I tried to get us out with as little conflict as possible, but we ended up having to face the Nightmare. We defeated her.” Link frowned, shifting his eyes away from her for a moment.
“But?” Zelda prompted him.
“The instrument was gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was no Surf Harp. I found the instrument shrine and it was empty.”
Zelda bit her lower lip. “What are we going to do?” she asked.
“I wish I knew.” He sighed irritably. “We need all eight instruments or it’s all been for nothing!”
“We have to keep trying,” Zelda reasoned. “Once we have the other seven, then we’ll worry about the Surf Harp.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Link,” Zelda began slowly, staring at his chest. “You weren’t the only one who spent time unconscious last night.”
“I got knocked out in the Dream Shrine.”
“Did you have a vision?”
“What was it about?”
“It was about Tress. But Link, it was something more than just another Dream Passage.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, for one thing. I’ve never actually seen what Tress looks like. And I saw her Link.”
“You saw her?”
“Blue eyes, purple tunic, brown hair that somehow resembles a bird’s nest.”
Link frowned. “That’s Tress.”
“And,” Zelda said carefully, “There’s something else.”
“What?” Zelda took Link’s hand. Suddenly, he felt something in his palm. He looked down. Nestled firmly in his hand was a shiny ocarina. There was something familiar about it. “I’ve seen this before,” he muttered, lifting it to his eyes to get a better look at it. “Holy Din…” he whispered.
“The Ocarina of Time,” Zelda finished for him.
“How did this get here?”
“Tress passed it along to me somehow. I don’t understand it, but it’s real Link.”
“You don’t suppose who ever locked you in the Dream Shrine knew this would happen?”
Zelda frowned. “That would be Valerie, but Link; Valerie couldn’t have locked me in.”
“She couldn’t have?”
“Why would Valerie try to kill me?”
“Then,” Link wondered, looking from Zelda, to the ocarina, then back to Zelda again. “Who did?”