What was that…?
No, she didn’t have to ask herself that question. She already knew what it was. Lord Jabu-Jabu was eating again, and he sounded a little impatient this time.
But there was something odd this time, something strange. She knew the Zoras stuck to a strict feeding schedule for Lord Jabu-Jabu, and she knew the schedule like the night and day. And this moment was completely off the schedule she knew.
Had the Zoras started a new schedule to accommodate Lord Jabu-Jabu’s strange behavior…? No. That couldn’t be it. The Zoras would never so something as radical as that; it wasn’t their nature.
She should know; she was a Zora, after all.
Could Lord Jabu-Jabu have accidentally swallowed something he shouldn’t have swallowed? Something he thought was food, or maybe even…another Zora?
Her heart started to beat rapidly at the possibility.
But it was indeed another Zora, who could it be? Was it a search party coming to find her, or was it a lone Zora who had found her message and had decided to brave Lord Jabu-Jabu’s insides alone…? Or could she just be imagining things?
She didn’t know why, but she had to investigate. If it was indeed someone who had come after her, she had to find this person. She knew the inside of the deity better than anyone, and she didn’t want her rescuer to get hurt, or even worse. And once he was safe, he might help her get out of this place.
Who knows? He might even help her find her beloved treasure…
That’s the only way to describe this place.
Okay? How about dark? Is that better?
Too plain? So says you!
Fine, fine! How about shadowy? Does that sound?
It doesn’t sound…?
What is your problem? Why are you so…? No, that’s not the real question.
Who are you?
This is too ridiculous. I’m not listening to you anymore. You’re being silly. I can’t even describe my surroundings with you around…
What did you say? Did you just say what I think you said?
You did, didn’t you?
Who do you think you are? Who in Din’s name are you? What are you? Where are you? I can’t even see you, yet I can hear you! All I can see is pitch darkness…
Hey, I can call it darkness, do you hear me? I don’t care what you think! You are not the boss of me! I can call it darkness if I want…
Oh? And what would you call it, then? Blackness…?
What was that?
What do you mean by that? How can you call darkness evil? It doesn’t make sense…
Oh, it does, does it? Explain yourself, then…
What are you talking about? How can this darkness be me? No, it’s darkness, not evil, so stop calling it that!
How can this darkness be me? What are you getting at? Who are you? Who…?
No, what are you doing? Get back! Stay away from me! Stay back! Leave me alone! Go away! I’m warning you, stay back! Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Stay away! Stay back…!
No! No, shut up! I am not evil! I am not evil! I can’t be evil!
Link awoke from his dream with his eyes snapping wide open and his breath drawing in quickly and sharply. He didn’t sit up because he was lying on his stomach, and this little detail made him realize something almost immediately. His eyes were wide open, but they may as well have been closed. He couldn’t see anything; it was darker than the hollowed soul of the Great Deku Tree, if such a thing were even possible.
He then realized something else: his quick draw of breath had caused him to swallow some…liquid he was lying in, and it had all gone down the wrong tube. Without hesitation, Link lifted himself up with his hands and started to cough violently downward. Whatever he had swallowed, it was so thick it felt as if it wanted to stay in his windpipe. And when it reached his tongue, he felt like letting go some of his lunch as well.
Thankfully, he managed to get it all out of his throat before he could finally breath normally. When air found its way to his lungs, he used some of his strength to turn around so he could lie on his back. As he struggled to breath deeply, he collapsed onto his back…and quickly jolted upward again. The splashing sounds of the liquid he was lying in echoed in his ears.
What was this stuff? He called it “liquid” because he was sure it wasn’t water. It was far too thick to be water, and it felt…thick was the best word he could think of. It didn’t seem to be dangerous; else he would be dead by now. But still, what exactly was he lying in right now that he nearly choked on?
Hey, where was he, anyway…?
Just then, he remembered everything: the Zoras, Princess Ruto, Lord Jabu-Jabu, him and Navi being sucked in…
So that’s what he was lying in.
It was impossible for Link not to wince at that moment. With his mind swimming with thoughts of nausea and his face twitching in disgust, Link started to stand up, slowly. He didn’t know why he was standing up slowly; maybe he had unconsciously decided that Lord Jabu-Jabu’s saliva would eat him alive if he moved too fast or something. Either way, his slowness forced him to feel every drip of spit trickle down his skin as he erected himself upward.
It wasn’t pleasant, not pleasant at all.
And he knew that it was his own fault he had come into this predicament.
When he was fully standing up, his boots thankfully keeping the shallow sea of dribble away from his skin, he allowed the remainder of the liquid to drip down his skin before he started to think out loud.
“Okay, I’m in Lord Jabu-Jabu’s stomach…or at least his throat. But wherever I am, I can’t see anything. I might as well be blind. And unless I can see, I’m going to wander around in this…stuff until I drown myself in it. If only Navi were here…hey, wait a minute! Navi! Of course! She was…Navi! Navi! Are you there? Navi, where are you?”
The only answer he received was his own echo. He didn’t think that Lord Jabu-Jabu’s insides would actually allow his voice to echo, but they did. Yet his echoes were as empty as if there had been no reply.
Something was wrong. If Navi were around, he would see some sign of her – her pink light, to be exact. But he couldn’t see anything, not even a distant glimmer. All he could see was the darkness, and that made his heart sink. Had Navi drowned in the sea of saliva? Or had she been carried further down the throat to the stomach?
Link didn’t want to even think of the possibilities…
“Hey, Link. Think you can give me a hand down here?”
The Kokiri nearly jumped when he heard that familiar voice by his left foot. He looked down, expecting to see Navi’s cherry glow, but surprisingly he saw nothing except the same bland inkiness.
“Navi, where are you? I can’t see you.”
“I’m right by your left heel. Just bend down and pick me up, and hurry up. I don’t feeling like sitting in this stuff forever.”
“Why can’t you just glow…?”
“Link, pick me up!”
Navi’s demand caused Link to sigh in defeat before he slowly bent down and reached around the area he believed to be his left heel. He cringed when his hands dipped into the pool of spit around him, but he braved it to find his little friend. He waded his fingers gently through the thick liquid until he finally touched the familiar body of his fairy. As carefully as he could, he scooped Navi from the saliva and into the palm of his hands.
Even then, there was no familiar glow.
“Navi, are you okay? What’s wrong? Why aren’t you glow…?”
He paused when he heard Navi’s tiny voice starting to cough, obviously to remove some of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s dribble from her lungs. He coughed for a little under a minute before she finally spoke.
“Sorry,” she uttered. “I swallowed some of that stuff as you scooped me out. Anyway, thanks for getting me out. It’s not pleasant to swim around in that stuff…”
“Navi, where’s your glow? And why didn’t you just fly to me? What’s wrong?”
Navi remained silent for a moment before she finally answered, “I can’t fly because this spit has saturated my wings, and as for my glow, this stuff is clinging to my body like milk sap and is suppressing my light. I’m just glad I can partially see in the dark, or else I wouldn’t have found you. Your coughing and splashing helped out, as well.”
“I guess so,” was all that Link could say in response.
The two of them were silent for a moment more before Navi asked, “So, now that we’re here, what are we going to do?”
Link could feel his face turn pale. “Well, I…uh, I guess we, uh…I guess we can do what we came here to do, which is look for Princess Ruto.”
“And how do you propose we do that?”
“Well, I thought we could just…look around, I guess…but with your glow being covered up by all this spit, that makes it…you know, difficult.”
Even in the darkness, Link could tell Navi was scolding him.
His mouth taut with worry and embarrassment, Link quickly tried to think of something so Navi wouldn’t lose her temper. Unable to come up with anything, he sighed and said, “Fine, fine, fine. I’m sorry I got us into this. I make a mistake. It’s entirely my fault we’re inside a giant fish god. Is there anything else you’d like to hear?”
“How about ‘why don’t we try and get out of here as soon as possible?’ ”
Link hesitated. He had risked his neck to get inside Lord Jabu-Jabu for a reason, and to just walk out only moments after getting inside seemed ludicrous. Then again, it was somewhat ludicrous to attempt getting inside Lord Jabu-Jabu in the first place, without permission or help from the Zoras. Maybe it was best to get out of this place, face whatever punishment the Zoras had in store for him, and then try to convince them to do something.
It sounded like a good plan, but Link couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable because of it. It was too simple and too easy, something he wasn’t used to with all that has been going on lately…
“Okay, fine. We’ll go. We’ll just have to find our way back to Lord Jabu-Jabu’s mouth and find a way to open it. Any idea which direction we need to go?”
Despite the darkness, Link could tell Navi was smiling. “Good idea. Let me see, from the looks of things, we’re in a large tunnel, most likely this god’s stomach tube or windpipe. From the steepness of the tunnel in that direction, I’d say we’d have to go in the other direction. Link, right now you’re facing the wrong direction. Just turn around completely so we can head in the right direction.”
With those words, Link started to turn around. He did what he thought was a 180-degree turn, but Navi immediately scolded him for turning around too much. Peeved, the Kokiri did a smaller turn in the opposite direction, but Navi still rebuked him for turning around too far. He made a face at the fairy in the dark, not caring whether nor not she could see it, and made a third turn. This time, he got Navi’s approval.
“Here we go,” Link muttered softly as he started his march through the thick sludge that wrapped around his feet, moving forward…
She pressed on as fast as she could, making sure not to lose her sense of direction. She had done that many times before, and it hadn’t been pleasant during the times she had been “lost” in Lord Jabu-Jabu. No, she wasn’t going to lose herself this time, not when she had to find whoever had come looking for her.
If there was anyone looking for her in the first place, that is.
But she could feel it. She knew someone was in Lord Jabu-Jabu with her. And something also told her that if she didn’t hurry, something was going to happen to her rescuer. Something terrible, something awful. She could think of only one thing that could happen to someone who had entered Lord Jabu-Jabu through his mouth, and it wasn’t something to think about…
Deciding to pick up the pace, she started to move as fast as her webbed feet could take her. She hesitated slightly when she appeared at a crossroad of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s arteries, but she quickly chose the right path to get to the stomach…
Link scrambled to stand up so he didn’t have to swallow and taste any more of the disgusting saliva. When he managed to get back on his two feet, he made a decision to shake the spit off his body, but he then remembered Navi, who had still been in his hands when he had fallen.
With a realization of shock, he discovered his hands were clenched together tightly.
Wincing, Link opened his hands slowly to allow the dribble to drop out of his hands. “Navi? Navi? Are you okay?”
A small cough and growl from his hands signaled the fay was all right, albeit really ticked-off.
“Thank goodness,” the Kokiri mumbled to himself before saying louder, “Look, Navi, I’m sorry about that. I…I tripped on something, and…”
“Enough!” the fairy suddenly boomed in her tiny voice. “I’ve had enough of this! Link! Put me under your hat and leave me there until you get us out of here! I don’t even want to see this place when I come out! I want to see daylight, do you understand? Daylight!”
“Just do it!”
Sighing, Link took the unhappy fairy and gently placed her upon his head and under his hat. The saliva covering Navi trickled somewhat down his head, but he decided to ignore it. Navi had suffered enough because of him, and feeling some of this disgusting spit ooze down his face should compensate for that.
Still, something had tripped him. What had tripped him?
It was still as dark as ever, and with Navi underneath his hat, Link could only use his right foot to search for whatever had tripped him. He found it almost immediately, just a short distance behind him. By tapping it with his foot, he discovered it felt very rickety and shaky, and also felt very stiff. The floor of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s throat felt very soft under his feet, so this was very unusual.
Link backtracked a little so he could bend down and touch it with his hands. As he knelt down in the saliva, he used his right hand to scour the darkness until it found the strange item. He found it, and realized his entire hand could wrap around it. Intrigued, Link grabbed the thing and discovered it was actually made of some kind of polished wood…
Link’s cry of pain wasn’t too loud, but the pain certainly stung enough to warrant a yelp.
“What in Din’s name?” he whispered to himself. “Something cut my hand.” It was true; he could already feel a tiny stream of blood flow from his hand. “What is this thing? It’s made of wood and has something sharp enough to cut my skin.”
Without thinking, Link took both his hands and grabbed a portion of the item where he was certain the cutting part wasn’t present. He then stood in a good enough standing position before he started to yank it as hard as he could. He figured that since it was definitely not of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s stomach, it could be removed.
The task proved a little more difficult than he imagined. The thing refused to budge.
“Come on, you little…” Link grunted as he struggled to jerk the item from the deity’s throat walling. “Get out before I decide to cut you out with my sword…”
Then, with a quick and powerful thrust upward, the thing came free. Link, caught off guard by this, stumbled backwards for a short distance before he fell on his backside in the sea of spit yet again.
“This just isn’t my day,” he groaned as he sat up. “But at least I got whatever tripped me. What is this thing, anyway?”
He couldn’t tell what it was in the darkness, but he could tell it was meant to be held in one way or another. It was certainly quite light, and yet he could tell it was very sturdy. He used his fingers trace it item’s shape, and it discovered it had something of straight edge that had been bent in one direction.
Wait a minute. Could this be that thing that had been…?
His thoughts were interrupted by a soft yet deep moan. Despite the inkiness, Link looked around to see where it was coming from. He couldn’t pinpoint an exact location of where the sound had come from; it sounded like it came from everywhere at the same time.
Could it be Lord Jabu-Jabu…?
Suddenly, Link felt the ground beneath him start to vibrate. He stood up quickly, but he immediately wished he hadn’t. In a few mere seconds, the vibrations had grown powerful enough to knock him to the ground, and they were getting stronger and stronger. Link found it a challenge just to stand up.
“What is going on?” Navi demanded from under his hat. “Why are you shaking so much?”
“D-d-d-don’t as-s-s-k-k m-m-m-e-e…” Link managed through the violent shaking before he finally lost his balance and fell headfirst in the now-shaking saliva sea.
“What is going on?” Link thought. “Was this because I removed that stupid…what the…? Oh, no! No!”
Before he could give any more silent cries, the unthinkable happened: the ground started to tip downward, towards the deeper parts of the throat…towards the stomach.
His heart sinking, Link quickly realized dislodging that thing must’ve caused Lord Jabu-Jabu to discover there was something in his throat, and now his muscles were trying to force that something into the stomach, where it could be…
“No! No! Don’t! Lord Jabu-Jabu! Don’t do this! No!”
But the Kokiri’s silent pleas went unanswered. In a desperate attempt, Link tried to claw his way up the now-tilted throat passage, but the spit was now trickling down the slope along with him. The saliva was so slippery and it splashed in his face so much that Link was forced to go with it.
As the slope got steeper and steeper, Link finally managed a cry through the spit that was getting into his mouth.
“Help me! Someone help me…!”
There…she heard something.
So there was someone in Lord Jabu-Jabu with her, but she quickly realized this person was in trouble. She knew something was wrong when Lord Jabu-Jabu started to twist his muscles to get food down his throat, and that cry only confirmed it. Whoever had come here was now being led to the worst possible place to die…
She couldn’t allow that! She couldn’t just let someone die in Lord Jabu-Jabu’s stomach. Especially now, when she needed whoever this person was…
She didn’t know how, but she started to run faster towards the stomach. Hopefully, she wasn’t too late…
The darkness started to disappear somewhere along the way downward, but Link couldn’t remember where or why. But frankly, he didn’t care. Right now, he was heading for Lord Jabu-Jabu’s stomach, where he would digested like a…like a fish!
“Oh, no, no!” he thought. “Please, no, no! Please, someone get me out of this! Someone help me! Please, someone help me! Someone! Anyone! Please!”
But his cries obviously went unanswered, for just as he thought that final word, he saw where he was heading. A short distance away, the river of spit disappeared from view and became a mighty waterfall that careened into…the stomach? Link didn’t know, but he knew he was going to be digested if he didn’t do something…
He tried to stop his fall by clawing the sides of the throat again, but the spit was just too slippery. If he was going to stop his descend, he needed something to dig into the sides of the passage…
Everything seemed to slow down the moment he remembered the item in his hand. Realizing he was still holding it, Link lifted it up to see. Now that there was light coming from an unknown source, he discovered it was, indeed, the object called a boomerang, the one Lizel had thrown at him. And he also noticed something else: attached to one side of the boomerang was a long sliver of metal with a razor-sharp edge barely poking out.
“So that’s what cut me…”
Link quickly brushed away the thought; this was a matter of life and death, and he needed to concentrate. He grabbed the boomerang with both hands and, with all his might, thrust it into the floor he was sliding upon.
To his horror, the boomerang refused to dig into the throat wall; the saliva was making it too difficult for it to sink into the flesh. He tried again, but it didn’t work. A third attempt yielded the same result. The fourth try was no better.
“Come on, you stupid boomerang!” he cursed. “If you don’t get in, I’m a goner!”
Three more tries failed to get the boomerang into the throat wall, only causing Link to grow more and more frantic. If he didn’t do this, he was going to…
Just then, an idea sprang into his mind. It was a crazy one, and it was extremely risky, but it seemed like his only shot at getting out of this. He tried thinking of another plan, but he quickly realized this was all he had. It was enough to make him cry…
His heart beating with incredible speed, Link looked ahead. The waterfall he was about to fall over was approaching faster than ever, threatening to drop him into an unknown abyss. Grasping the boomerang tightly in both hands, tears streaming down his eyes, Link waited for the right moment.
“Please…oh, please…oh, please…”
Then, just before he went over the edge, Link took his legs and pushed against the vertical wall of the waterfall, driving him forward like a stone from his slingshot, headfirst. If someone were watching him from below, they would believe he were flying like an eagle, but to Link this was of no importance. He simply kept what was vital in view: the other side of the passageway into which the waterfall was careening.
“Here goes nothing…Saria, help me…”
Just a split second from striking the other side of the tunnel, Link took the boomerang and thrust it with all his might into the pinkish wall. To his complete relief, the weapon sank deep into the wall, and when he struck the wall and started to fall, he kept his grip firm on the boomerang. Thankfully, the boomerang didn’t dislodge from the wall; it held firm, as if wanting to make up for tripping the Kokiri earlier by saving his life.
Link hung there against the wall for what seemed like forever before he decided to even move. He first looked at the boomerang, which seemed to be firmly in place so as to hold him for quite some time. Smiling for the first time in a while, Link looked down…and nearly died of fright.
Far, far below him, at the bottom of a long tunnel down which the river of saliva trickled, was what could only be described as a fizzy soup of a disgustingly crimson color. The liquid was obviously collected in a vast cavern, and it bubbled with a powerful surge that sent noxious fumes drifting in every direction. As the spit waterfall struck the wild liquid below, it released a gentle steam that hissed like a deadly serpent.
It didn’t take a lot for Link to realize that he was hovering right above Lord Jabu-Jabu’s stomach!
All he could do in response to this recognition was scream.
“Help! Somebody help me! Help!”
There! There was no mistaking it this time! The person in trouble was nearby, and she knew exactly where he was.
Her breathing and heartbeat were already racing, but she forced herself to press on…
He had only been hanging against the throat wall for a short while, but it already felt like an eternity. All the memories of him hanging over the Death Mountain chasm suddenly came back to him. His arms were started to get tired, his strength was draining like water, and the sharp blade in the boomerang was cutting into his hands. Blood dripped along his arms and into his face, and he could almost swear his weight was starting to cause the boomerang to slip out. Desperate searches for any place of safety to which he could maybe swing or fall ended fruitless, and dizziness from the fumes started to overpower his eyesight.
“Someone must really not like me,” Link complained as he strained to keep himself from letting go.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Link was determined not to die. He had gotten out of terrible scrapes before, and this was no different. Then again, this time he was completely alone; this time he won’t have a Goron to grab him and save him from certain death.
But he was still determined. Memories of his decision to commit suicide on Death Mountain rang in his mind like a bell, and he was not going to repeat that mistake. If he was going to die, he was going to die fighting. He would not go down easily.
Deciding again to look for another place of possible safety, Link looked around the enormous tunnel that led to the stomach. But all he saw was the plain, pinkish flesh that covered the tube and the spit waterfall behind him that still emptied into the hungry stomach acids below. The wall was smooth in all directions, with no place for him to sit or stand.
This only made Link angry. “Oh, come on!” he bellowed to the tunnel. “There has to be some place for me to go…”
“Grab my hand! Quickly!”
Link was so surprised by the voice that he nearly let go of the boomerang. He steadied his grip before he looked upward. To his complete surprise, he found himself staring at the face of a young Zora with her – at least he thought it was a she – with her hand outstretched in his direction.
“Quickly!” she begged in a sincere voice. “Grab my hand before you fall! Hurry!”
Link didn’t need to be told twice. With his right hand still holding the boomerang, he reached with his left hand for the Zora’s outstretched hand. He made contact with the blue creature’s hand on his first try, and their hands clamped together tightly and securely. Then, with seemingly hidden strength, the little Zora started to pull Link up to a hidden ledge Link hadn’t noticed before.
He was so bewildered by this sudden turn of events that he didn’t notice how easily the boomerang slipped from the throat’s wall in his hand as he was pulled to safety…
“Are you okay?”
Link didn’t answer the Zora’s question immediately. He was breathing too hard for him to care about answering questions. He just lay there on the floor, trying his best to catch his breath. His arms felt stiff and blood trickled from his palms, but he couldn’t care less about those minor details. The main thing was that he was alive.
Sure, someone had saved his life again, but this time he had decided not to kill himself. That was something of which he couldn’t feel more proud right now…
He waited until his breath stabilized before he sat up. He didn’t know where they were, but he could still hear the eerie hiss of the steam from the stomach acid, suggesting they were in some tunnel above the stomach.
“Are you okay?” the Zora repeated.
“Where are we?” Link asked without thinking.
The young Zora’s face frowned. “A stomach blood artery I forced open to save you. Boy, you’re very polite, aren’t you?”
Link quickly realized his mistake. “Yes, you’re right, you’re right,” he uttered through his tiredness. “I’m sorry, really I am. I’m quite fine, thank you. Thank you very much for saving me and Navi from that…”
“Well, you should be thankful, you know.”
Link blinked in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“I risked my own life to save yours, you know.” The Zora, who was kneeling besides the sitting Kokiri, deepened her frown. “And I had to open one of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s arteries to do so. You should be very grateful I didn’t leave you out there to be digested by him.”
“And another thing. You don’t go around jabbing Lord Jabu-Jabu with boomerangs like that. Doing such a thing is dangerous for him and could seriously hurt him.”
“I don’t believe this!”
“And another thing! When you thank me, you’re supposed to close your eyes and bow your head as a sign of respect. It’s only fitting for someone of my stature.”
“Now wait just a minute…”
“And another thing! You must never…”
“Hey!” Link, unable to believe what kind of attitude this Zora had, screamed so loud he thought he nearly went deaf in one ear. “What’s all this about? You save my life one minute, and the next you’re telling me what I can and can’t do! Who do you think you are?”
The Zora was obviously irate with Link’s outburst, and she suddenly stood up and erected her posture before stating with a proud air, “I am Princess Ruto, princess and future ruler of the Zoras, and daughter of King Zora! And don’t you ever forget it!”
It can’t be…
This was Princess Ruto? This was whom he had been searching for? This brat was the one who possessed the third and final Spiritual Stone?
It was then that Link noticed exactly what Ruto looked like. She was the first young Zora Link had seen close up, but she looked almost identical to every other Zora he had seen. Still, she had some distinguishing characteristics going for her. Her eyes weren’t slanted like the adult Zoras, but were wide and round with purple colorings. Her head seemed a little chubby, but the rest of her body was slender with a definite woman’s build. If Link had to call a Zora “beautiful”, Princess Ruto would definitely fit the bill.
The problem was, however, the princess’ face was filled with a stiffness that suggested she was used to getting her own way. He could even see it in her eyes; they expected him to obey her in everything she said.
Link could already tell things weren’t going to go as he had planned.
Not knowing what else to do, Link shook his hat to wake up Navi. “Navi, Navi, wake up! Look who I’ve found! Navi! Are you there? Navi!”
Suddenly filled with the dreaded possibility that Navi had fallen into the stomach acid – she couldn’t fly, after all – Link quickly reached for under his hat…and relaxed when he felt the familiar fay in his hands. He pulled the small, spit-covered creature out into the light…and gaped in surprise.
Navi was asleep!
Had the fairy fainted during his entire ordeal? Or has she just slept through it as if it were nothing?
He wouldn’t know the answers until she woke up, which could be hours from now…
“What are you doing?” Princess Ruto suddenly demanded. “Why are you staring at that ugly glob of saliva? Come on, I need you to do something for me!”
Link felt like crying again…