The sun was beginning its descent beyond the horizon and the sky already shedding its blue clothes in exchange for more crimson hues, but Lizel took no notice of this. Right now, he could care less about the natural cycles of the universe or their magnificent natural wonders. All he did was sit, sit and watch, sit and watch as Lord Jabu-Jabu floated gently in the enormous lake. The giant’s only response to Lizel’s presence was breathing deeply and emitting a series of low yet hearable groans that sadly asked why the Zora wasn’t giving him any food.
Lizel made one of his own groans before burying his head in his arms between his knees. Lord Jabu-Jabu was getting worse and his food supply was beginning to shrink to emergency-only levels. If things progressed like this, there was a change the mighty deity would die in a few days, if not less. And to add injury to injury, he would take their beloved Princess Ruto with him.
How long had it been since Link entered Lord Jabu-Jabu? About half a day, he estimated. By now, the young lad was either dead or being killed; how could anything survive in Lord Jabu-Jabu? And Princess Ruto…was she really alive inside the fish god? Or was the bottled message found far too long after it was first written…?
Lizel didn’t know anymore, and he felt so helpless. He wanted to do something, anything, but all he could do was sit here and await the impossible return of Link and the princess from within Lord Jabu-Jabu. He didn’t even know why he was doing this; he had no solid reasoning to wait for the dead…
Suddenly, Lizel felt something cold drench his body. But rather than jump up and have a fit, he welcomed the icy water as it covered his blue skin and allowed his pores to breath again. He looked up to find a Zora standing over him with a bucket over Lizel’s head.
“How goes it, Lizel?” the Zora asked.
“As well as it possibly can, Ilza,” Lizel answered.
“You know, if you stay like this, you’re eventually going to kill yourself. You haven’t even been in the water for over half a day; I never thought a Zora could stay out of water as long as you have.”
“I guess,” Lizel said, although the possibility of Princess Ruto surviving within Lord Jabu-Jabu for a long time crossed his mind…
“You guess,” Ilza sighed. “You’re hopeless. Fine, fine. If you have to stay here, just promise me you’ll take a dip every now and then. I don’t want your skin to crack or anything.”
“You got it,” Lizel promised.
The Zora called Ilza gave one nod before turning around and disappearing down the tunnel, leaving Lizel to sit and stare at the great god of the Zoras…to wait for the miraculous return of two people who should by now be dead…
Link tried to look behind him as he walked down the tunnel, but he quickly snapped his head back to face forward. This was the fifth time he had tried; he just couldn’t do it.
Ever since his heated speech to Princess Ruto, Link had managed to calm his anger and clear his mind of his achieved “payback.” He then realized how callous he had just been to Ruto had felt downright ashamed at his outburst of anger. The argument that Ruto “deserved” those harsh words didn’t ease his guilt; he had acted out of character, and now he couldn’t face the very person at whom he had snapped. Irony certainly liked to mess with his mind, and he didn’t like it a single bit.
Behind him, Ruto followed the new leader of the pack quietly with her head hung low and her feet shuffling along the ground. Ever since Link’s fiery lecture, her lips had remained sealed and her temper had been suppressed. She occasionally made a soft gasp when her feet tripped on an uneven section of the floor, but it was obvious she didn’t want to speak to the Kokiri who had lashed out at her.
Link didn’t know what to think; either her heart was really hurting, or her mind was planning what to do with him once they left Lord Jabu-Jabu. And he couldn’t decide which choice was worse…
Finally, Link stopped walking; the silence that followed immediately afterwards indicated Ruto had stopped as well. Then, incapable to turn around and face the silent princess, he started to speak.
“Ruto…err, Princess Ruto…?”
He then stopped, discovering he didn’t even know what he wanted to say. He tried to think of something, but not before Ruto’s muffled voice sounded from behind him.
Link, unable to think of anything else, uttered, “I…I…well, I…just…want to say that…well, once we…get out of Lord Jabu-Jabu, you…you can…what I mean is…I need…I need…I really need your help.”
He didn’t see it, but Ruto blinked her dry eyes in surprise. “W…what?”
“I…I lied to you,” Link said. “I’m not here…with permission from your father.”
“Link!” Navi’s voice whispered harshly from underneath his cap. “What in the name of the Three Goddesses are you doing?”
But Link ignored the fairy and continued his confession. “I originally came to Zora’s Domain to get something from the Zora people. But then I learned you held what I had come for and that you were inside Lord Jabu-Jabu. I was told the shrine to your fish god was forbidden to outsiders, but I came anyway because what I came for is important. How important? Not even I know anymore, but it’s important enough. But now I can only imagine what the Zoras will do to me once I get out of here.”
Now Link had the courage to turn around. He rotated to face the Zora princess and kept his eyes level with hers so he didn’t look like a coward. “So I really need your help. Once we get out of here, I need you to explain to your father and the Zoras why I needed to do what I did…but you don’t even know what I came here for in the first place, do you? I guess now’s a good a time as any. I came here for…”
The Kokiri stopped when, of all things, Ruto held up a hand to silence him…
“Who is this boy?
“He just made sure I knew he didn’t like me, and he has the opportunity to order me around…and yet he’s asking me for something! And politely! How could anyone do such a thing after the amount of abuse I gave him?
“Maybe this is my chance…maybe now I can reclaim my charade and let him know who really is in charge. Maybe I can…
“No, I can’t do that.
“Just look at him. He’s just as sagged as I am, and he looks like he’s about to cry…but he won’t look away. He’s staring at me right in the eye, as if he wants me to know he’ll take any kind of answer…even if I say no…
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I can’t go back to my princess persona. Not now. He’s too…oh, by Din’s Fire, I can’t even find the right word…
“There’s something about this Link…something about him…
“But what should I do? How should I answer his request? He did come here without permission, and yet he did admit it. And he did get me up here like I wanted…
“Oh, come on, what’s my answer? Do I help him or not? Yes or no? What do I do? What do I do…?”
Link made no movement of confusion, but the puzzlement was in his voice. “Not yet? What do you mean?”
Ruto lowered her hand and then gave a weak smile before she dropped her eyes. “What I mean is that I’ll think about your request but I won’t give my answer just yet. For now, let’s just continue down this tunnel and see if we find what I’m looking for. Once we do find it, I’ll think about helping you with what you’re looking for and also helping you out with my father.”
Link didn’t know what to do except mumble, “Um…okay, sure.”
Then, before Link could react, Ruto started moving forward. This time, however, she didn’t walk with the regal air that showed she was a princess; instead she walked naturally, as if quietly telling Link that she accepted him on her level. As she passed the still-motionless Kokiri, her eyes glanced in his direction briefly before looking away. Did she just wink at him, or was it a trick in the light of the deity’s heart wall…?
Deciding not to waste time on finding out, Link turned to follow the princess…
The tunnel was thankfully not very long, and the small group consisting of Link, Ruto, and Navi emerged in a relatively small chamber slightly larger than King Zora’s throne room. The walls, ceiling, and floor were made of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s heart wall and nothing else, so there was no apparent purpose to this room. No blood flowed into this room, and it wasn’t connected to any blood vessels or any kind of organ. Either it was a tiny structural defect in the deity’s heart, or…it had been created by unnatural means.
The moment Link stepped into that room, he felt uneasy. Something wasn’t right about this place, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. A strange feeling crept up his spine as his gaze pierced the hollow and eerie chamber, a feeling he had experienced once before. But where had he experienced it? Where else had he felt this…uncomfortable?
Before he could think it over, Ruto suddenly gasped loudly. Link turned to the Zora to find her in a surprised stupor, her eyes staring at the middle of the room. Wondering what was going on, Link turned his own gaze to follow the princess’…and when he saw what she was looking at, his jaw dropped.
There, sitting in the middle of the floor as if someone had put it there in the first place, was a magnificent piece of jewelry. The glow of the heart’s wall, while not powerful, emitted enough light to give the treasure an amazing spark that glistened like crystal clear water; it was a wonder he hadn’t seen it there when he first entered the chamber. The piece of jewelry was actually made up of three separate jewels positioned in a triangular shape with a golden frame holding them together, and all three stones were colored a deep, rich blue that matched the color of Ruto’s eyes. Like the Kokiri Emerald and the Goron’s Ruby, the jewel seemed to possess a life of its own.
Link didn’t need anyone to tell him that it was the third and final Spiritual Stone.
But Link didn’t have time to say anything before Ruto suddenly started walking towards it slowly. As she did, she started to mumble to herself loudly.
“I…I can’t believe it. I finally found it…my mother’s last gift to me…the Zora’s Sapphire. I can still remember the day I lost it…the day I took it with me inside Lord Jabu-Jabu…I never thought I’d lose it, but somehow I did. I felt very sad when I lost it…I couldn’t bear to tell my father that I had lost one of our race’s most prized treasures…so I vowed I would search Lord Jabu-Jabu until I found it. And here it is…right here…in the only place I could never reach. I found it…I found it…thank the Three Goddesses, I finally found it…”
She stopped talking when she stood directly over the brilliant gem, her eyes unable to look away from its radiant shine. She remained silent for what seemed like a minute before she finally spoke again.
“I…I want to thank you for helping me find my mother’s gem. You have no idea how much this means to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“You’re…you’re welcome,” Link uttered. He wasn’t too surprised by the princess’ sudden change of character; he was too preoccupied with how he was going to tell that the jewel was what he had come for. What was he going to do…?
“And now that I’ve found it,” Ruto continued, “we can go now. Being inside Lord Jabu-Jabu for so long, I’ve grown tired of it and felt…that I was no longer welcome here. I decided a long time ago that after I found the Zora’s Sapphire, I would never return to this place.”
Ruto then bent down to pick the jewel up. “Let’s go, Link. We can head to the nasal passages and…”
Link didn’t hear anything else after that, because when Ruto touched the Spiritual Stone Link felt something radiate from the jewel. He couldn’t see it, but he sure did fell it; it was so powerful that it nearly sent Link sprawling backwards. And when he felt it, he instantly realized what was going on. If what Ruto had said was true – that she didn’t know how she lost her precious heirloom – then it made sense. How else could the Spiritual Stone get all the way up here in Lord Jabu-Jabu’s heart and be conveniently placed in the very center of a chamber that doesn’t even look like it should exist?
His worst suspicions were confirmed; Ganondorf had, indeed, put the Spiritual Stone here somehow with his dark magic. The question was, however, now what was going to happen? What was that sinister aura he had just felt? A trigger for something, possibly…?
“Link, what’s wrong?” Ruto’s words suddenly interrupted. Link turned to the Zora princess, who seemed a little worried by Link’s apprehensiveness. “Why are you so…?”
“Princess Ruto,” Link interjected, “we have to get out of here. Now.”
“Why? What’s the hurry?”
“No time to explain. But if we don’t, there’s no telling what’s going to happen. Trust me when I say we must leave immediately.”
“Well, okay, if you insist. But we’ll first have to figure out how we’re going to climb down…what…oh, no! No! Link, behind you!”
As he spun around, Link drew his sword at the same time. He also reached for his shield, but after remembering it was gone he placed his free hand against the two Spiritual Stone in his possession to keep them safe. His gaze instantly saw what had frightened Princess Ruto, and he knew she had cause to be alarmed.
The creature was standing at the tunnel’s entrance…no, it wasn’t standing but hovering over the ground like a hummer bird. The main part of its body was shaped like an upside-down bowl, and inside it had what appeared to be some kind of brain and sensory organs. Below its bowl-like figure was a small section that was probably its mouth, and surrounding its mouth were two flat, feathery tentacles that waved in the air like banners in a gentle breeze. Its main body was about Link’s size, so it definitely posed some kind of threat to both him and Ruto.
And it had obviously noticed the presence of the beings that had dared to take the Spiritual Stone.
“Ruto! Stay back!” Link shouted to the princess as he waved his sword at the beast, hoping to deter it from attacking. “I’ll try and knock it down so we can…”
“Link, no!” Ruto suddenly shouted back. “Don’t touch it!”
“That thing is a Bari, and it uses electricity to shock and stun its prey! If it touches you with its tentacles, you won’t be able to fight back!”
Link turned his attention back to the thing Ruto called a Bari and cursed under his breath. How was he going to survive this ordeal? He had faced parasite larvae and their mother, Lizalfos, Dodongos and their king, and the stomach of Lord Jabu-Jabu. Now this! Why did fate have to throw at him a new enemy for him to deal with all the time? Couldn’t he just do what he needed to do in peace…?
Just then, Link noticed something moving behind the Bari, something in the tunnel. He turned his attention to the passageway but almost wished he hadn’t. To his horror, several more Bari were making their way down the tunnel, their tentacles just as poised to strike as the first one’s.
“Great! More Bari are heading this way!” Link cried.
“By the Three Goddesses!” Ruto gasped. “What are we going to do? The only way out is the tunnel!”
“Are you sure I can’t fight these things?”
“Positive! They look slow, but they are deadly. If they wanted to, they could kill you with one touch.”
“Perfect!” Link grumbled in his mind. “This just gets better and better!”
As he stood there, his sword still pointed at the first Bari, the pack of other Bari entered the cavern. They moved at a slow and sluggish pace, but Link believed Ruto when she said they were deadly. He could even smell the electricity in the air, emanating from those beasts’ tentacles; he had smelled the same odor after lightning strikes in the Lost Woods, and he knew how dangerous lightning was.
The new Bari approached the first Bari, as if to ask permission for joining in the hunt of the first’s prey. The first Bari simply “watched” Link and Ruto with whatever sensory organs it possessed in its gelatinous head. Then, after a moment of “conversing” with one another, the group of Bari started to advance towards the Kokiri and Princess in a sloppy formation, their tentacles excitedly waving in the air.
Link backed up towards Ruto, who was shaking uncontrollably. She clutched the Zora’s Sapphire in one hand tightly, but she looked like she would fall to her knees in complete fright. Link, still clutching his sword, had no idea what to do or how to fight these creatures. One false move could mean being knocked out…or worse…
“Ruto, how far is the ground from up here?” he suddenly asked.
“You mean in the heart?” the nervous princess replied. “Quite a fall, I’m afraid…if we fell, there’s be no way to survive.”
“I see. So that means if we tried climbing down like we climbed up…these things would catch us, even if we ran from here to the other end of the tunnel.”
“I think so.”
Link sighed. “Then there’s only one option we’ve got. It’s risky, but if we stick around here we’ll be dead anyway. We have no choice but to do it.”
“And what’s that?”
Link sheathed his sword and turned his gaze to Ruto’s face, staring deep within the eyes that resembled the clear blue of the third Spiritual Stone. “Ruto, climb onto my back.”
“Just do it!”
Link’s tone had grown so serious – not necessarily harsh, but serious and stern – that Ruto quickly followed the Kokiri’s order and climbed onto his back, just like she had when they had climbed up the heart wall.
“Now Ruto, do you want me to hold the Spiritu…I mean, your mother’s jewel for you, or can you hold onto it tightly without dropping it?”
Ruto was starting to stutter. “I…I th…th…think I can h…h…hold it…”
“Good.” Link then turned his gaze back to the Bari, which were inching their way towards them. “Now, like before, hold on tightly. This might just be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but right now it’s all we can do. And one more thing…Navi!”
“Get out from under my hat! Now!”
“Why? There isn’t any need…”
“Yes, there is! Get out now or else you’ll soon wish you hadn’t stayed there!”
“Navi, get out!”
Link bellowed so loudly and angrily that disobeying his order would’ve been suicide. Without another word, the pink fairy fluttered out from under Link’s hat and onto his shoulder. She didn’t even snap at him for telling her to do something she didn’t want to do.
“Okay, Navi, just follow me…and be careful of those Bari. If one of them shocks you, you’ll most likely be killed…”
“Yes, don’t worry about that,” Navi interjected. “I heard Ruto’s warning. Don’t worry about me. But what are you planning on doing?”
“You’ll see. Ruto, get ready. Here we go…”
The Kokiri made sure that the princess was firmly secure on his back before he took a deep breath, made a silent prayer to the Three Goddesses and to Saria, bent his knees, and pushed himself forward into a sprint, straight for the advancing Bari.
The Bari were too slow to react to their prey’s sudden decision to head in their direction, and their formation was sloppy enough to leave a large enough gap for Link and Ruto to sail through untouched. One Bari tried to get Link with its tentacles, but the Kokiri was too fast for it. By the time they managed to turn around to pursue, their prey had disappeared down the tunnel.
As he ran as fast as he could, Link tried to rid his mind of all distractions. He attempted to block out anything that didn’t relate to this desperate plan of his, including the possibility that the Bari were faster than he thought. He just ran, making sure he put all his effort into his sprint while also making sure Princess Ruto didn’t fall off. Navi managed to keep pace beside him and did try to ask him a question, but he refused to listen to the fairy.
Within moments, the end of the tunnel was visible. Ruto breathed a sigh of relief before saying loudly, “Link, we’re at the mouth of the tunnel. You can stop now.”
To her amazement and horror, Link didn’t try to stop or even slow down. In fact, he seemed to be…speeding up!
“Link, what you doing?” Ruto demanded. “We’re heading for the end of the tunnel! Stop before you kill us both!”
But Link didn’t listen to her. Instead, he continued to push himself forward, as if possessed by a demon that wanted him to commit this suicidal act.
“Link! Stop! Please, I beg of you! If you don’t stop, we’re both going to die! Don’t you see that? Link, what’s gotten into you? Don’t you see we’re going to go over the edge and…Link! Link! Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink!”
Just like that, without a sound or an explanation, Link used his strength to leap from the very edge of the tunnel’s mouth into the air. Time seemed to slow down as everything rushed passed in slow motion. Ruto, unable to do anything else, screamed her head off. It was probably the first time she had ever screamed in fear instead of selfishness…not that it mattered right now.
As the ground slowly rushed to meet the two head on, Ruto couldn’t take it. Her vision faded as her mind blacked out, allowing her to slip into an unconscious state. The last thing she remembered was the feeling of Link grabbing her arms and twisting them both around so their sides faced the ground. The last thing she heard was the sound she had expected when Link’s jumped: a loud, deafening…
When Link jumped into thin air with Princess Ruto, Navi nearly lost all control in her wings. She wanted to tell him to stop, but by then it was too late. She could only watch in horror as the boy she had been sworn to protect sailed through the air like a tossed stone, gliding upon a projectile that took him and Ruto directly towards the…
Wait a minute!
Had he just landed in…yes, he had!
Navi was so surprised by this sudden turn of events she didn’t know what to do: rejoice for Link’s resourcefulness or go down and box his ears for scaring her half-to-death. But at least she now knew why he wanted her out of his hat.
Taking another dip in that stuff wasn’t exactly comfortable…
At the moment Link felt his weight strike the watery yet warm liquid in Lord Jabu-Jabu’s heart’s blood pool, he quickly spread himself to stop his descent to the bottom. He had no idea how deep the pool was or if it was connected to a valve that could suck him in, so he didn’t feel like taking any chances…
Well, he didn’t feel like taking any more chances…
He had held his breath only just before striking the pool, but already his lungs wanted to release the inhalation for fresh air. Fire flared up in his chest and his muscles started to sting madly. The blood seemed to try and force him down and the liquid started to clog his eyes and enter his mouth and nose. But he wasn’t going to give up, not by a long shot. He just had to reach the surface…
Link gasped for breath the moment his face broke the surface of the pool. Strength instantly returned to his muscles and the blood flowed from his eyes, allowing him to see more clearly. But he didn’t have time to celebrate; instead he began making sure he hadn’t lost anything from the plunge.
As he floated there in the blood, he quickly patted himself down to make sure his had everything: Spiritual Stones, sword, slingshot, bombs, boomerang, ocarina, bottle, Princess Ruto…
“Princess Ruto…?” Link mumbled before realizing the Zora was no longer on his back. “By Din’s Fire, Princess Ruto!”
Link quickly scanned the blood pool for the missing princess, but couldn’t see her anywhere. All he saw were the falls of blood as they cascaded into the pools around the heart and the vast emptiness of the deity’s heart. Had she sunk to the bottom with the third Spiritual Stone? Had she let go in mid air and fallen somewhere else, like another blood pool or…worse…?
Just then, he saw her. Just a short distance away was a motionless blue mass floating upon the pool’s surface, face down with arms and legs submerged. His heart racing in horror, Link swam with all his might towards the tranquil Zora, his arms wildly creating waves within the pool. When he reached Ruto, he wrapped his left arm around her, making sure to first lift her face out of the liquid, and used his right arm to pull the two of them towards the shore. But even though he swam with only one arm, he somehow managed to move just as quickly as if both arms were free.
Somehow, he was that desperate…
He reached the shore of the pool in record time and climbed out rapidly, permitting the blood to dribble down his face like tainted saliva. He then grabbed Ruto with both hands and hauled her from the pool and onto the ground. Link then erected himself and waited for Ruto to wake up and make everything okay.
But she didn’t wake up, which made everything worse.
Fearing the worst, Link knelt down and placed his ear against the princess’ mouth; he felt no breath and heard no breathing. He then placed an ear against Ruto’s chest; to his amazement, he heard a faint yet steady beating heart. She was still alive, but not breathing; maybe her windpipe was clogged…
Without a second thought, Link placed both hands upon Ruto’s chest just below her breasts and pushed it gently yet firmly. He had seen Saria do this when fellow Kokiri nearly drowned after playing in the lake back home; maybe it would also work on Princess Ruto…
“Come on, princess,” Link begged as he heaved his hands up and down upon the silent Zora’s chest. “Come on, you can do it. Don’t die on me, not now. Come on, please…”
But there was still no response, and Link could almost swear Ruto’s heartbeat was fading fast.
“Ruto, please! Wake up! If you wake up, I’ll let you yell at me again…”
“Ack! Ack…acka…ack! Aaackaa!”
Without warning, Princess Ruto’s motionless body sat up slightly and began coughing violently. Link, a little stunned, leaned back to give Ruto room to do her thing. As he watched, Princess Ruto used all her strength to rid her windpipe of whatever was clogging it. But despite her resolve, it took a while before the culprit, an extensive stream of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s blood, left her mouth and allowed her lungs to breath again.
Link started to feel relieved when the princess turned her head slowly to face the person that had saved her. Her tired-looking eyes scanned the Kokiri for a brief moment before a faint smile cracked her lips.
“Link…” she whispered before coughing a few final drops from her lungs. “You…saved…me. Th…th…thank you…I…”
Then, without another word, Ruto lost all sense of consciousness and all strength in her muscles and collapsed backwards with a deep sigh. Link responded quickly by reaching out and grabbing her before hitting the floor. He glanced over Ruto in hope that she would wake up again, but there was no such luck. She was out like a candle in a fierce wind and it would be a while before she woke up again.
“Great!” Link grumbled. “And I need her to get us out of here! What else can go wrong…by Farore’s Wind! The Spiritual Stone! Where is it…?”
It was then that Link remembered her satchel. Sure enough, it was still slung over her shoulder. Had Ruto put it in there? Link quickly grabbed the bag, opened it, and peered inside. The sparkle of the Zora’s Sapphire flashed in Link’s eyes like bright stars, indicating that the stone was, indeed, safe and sound.
“That’s the relief,” he sighed to himself. “I think I’ll just take it for safekeeping and put it with the other stones…”
But Link stopped himself as he reached for the final Spiritual Stone. He hadn’t asked Ruto for it yet, and it would be rude to just take it away from her. Sure, it might be safer with him, but Ruto apparently had quite a strong attachment to it; she said it had belonged to her mother, wasn’t it? In any case, she told him she would keep it safe, and it had survived a death-defying plunge, so why wouldn’t it survive longer?
Hoping he was making the right decision, Link closed the satchel and made sure it was fastened tightly. He then made sure Princess Ruto was still alive; indeed, her breathing and heartbeat had stabilized, but she hadn’t regained consciousness. Shaking his head, Link realized there was only one thing to do.
Turning around and carefully lifting the princess behind him, Link managed to get Ruto onto his back and lock his hands together underneath her lower body as a crude seat. To make sure she didn’t fall off, he bent forward to allow Ruto’s limp body to fall completely on his back. As her head rested against his neck, he could feel her shallow breath against his skin.
Hopefully, she would wake up soon so she can help him get out of here. He had absolutely no idea how to get out of Lord Jabu-Jabu, and those Bari…
Wait! The Bari! He forgot about them! Where were they? Link turned his gaze to the tunnel they had moments ago come from…and nearly dropped Princess Ruto in astonishment. He could see them, right at the tunnel’s mouth and beginning to drift slowly downward towards the Kokiri and Zora.
“Great! Either they’re faster than Ruto said, or I’ve wasted too much time here. We’ve got to get out of here! Now!”
Link then swallowed hard before he prepared himself to call out for Navi, but the fairy beat him to the punch. “Link! Link! We’ve got to get out of here! The Bari are on their way here and will catch us unless we move!”
The fairy fluttered in front of his face an instant later. Link thought it best to hide his agitation over Navi stating exactly what he had figured out himself; the situation was too serious for arguments. “Fine, fine! Get under my hat if you have to…”
“Actually, I think I’ll fly for a while. Is that okay with you?”
“Whatever! Let’s just go!”
The Kokiri then looked around frantically for a way out of the heart. To his complete and utter relief, he saw an artery that was level with the ground on the near side of the giant muscle. Nodding once, as if to assure himself everything will be all right, he made sure Ruto was secure on his back before he dashed towards the artery. Navi followed him closely while the Bari above and behind them tried to catch up to their elusive prey.
Before the beasts even reached halfway to the ground, Link, Ruto, and Navi were long gone down the tunnel of flowing blood…
“We’re lost! Admit it, we’re lost!”
Link snarled before he answered in a loud reply, “All right, all right, we’re lost! Happy now? Now I don’t suppose you have any idea where we are!”
As Link stopped to catch his breath, Navi fluttered in front of her face, her glow flickering madly. “No, I don’t! But you could’ve gotten directions, you know! I’m sure little Miss Royal Pain on your back would’ve been glad to help you! Now I don’t even think she knows where we are!”
“Oh, can it!” Link demanded. “The situation’s bad enough as it is!”
They had been running for only the Three Goddesses knew how long. Link had hoped the artery he had chosen would lead to an exit from Lord Jabu-Jabu, like the nasal passages Ruto had mentioned. Instead, it had lead to more branches of blood vessels, forcing Link to make a decision. The one he had chosen lead to more branches, and his next choice lead to another and so forth, until he had no idea where they were. He wasn’t even sure if he was heading in the right direction. For all he knew, he was heading straight for the other end of the enormous deity…
“Maybe we should turn back,” Link suddenly proposed before realizing that was a big mistake.
“Oh, so now you’re suggesting we turn back!” Navi bellowed in her high-pitched voice. “Good idea…no, no, no, a great idea! That can get us even more lost! You are so smart, Link, I could just bow down before your wisdom! I don’t know where you come up with your ideas…”
“Navi, shut up!” Link ordered in a voice so powerful Navi fell silence immediately. “What is wrong with you? Are you still bitter about me bringing us down here? Or are you just trying your best to be a pain in my side? You’ve been nothing but nagging since we got down here! Yes, I don’t know what to do right now, but neither do you! And unless you start giving out ideas on how we can get out of here, just be quiet and stop making the situation worse than it already is!”
Navi’s flashing quickly calmed down as the fairy silently hovered in the air before Link’s tightened face. The fay then turned her back to the Kokiri before saying, “I…I…I’m sorry, Link. I guess I’m just a little…angry, that’s all. I may be your fairy, but I’m still getting to know you as if we’ve just met. Even now, you seem like a completely different person. And that can be a little…irritating at times, especially when I’ve always wanted to be someone’s guardian fairy and be the best there is…I’ve obviously got a long way to go, but still…”
Navi then turned back around to face Link and continued, “Link, I’m really sorry. Please…eep!”
“Eep?” Link asked, confused. “What’s that…? Oh, bother!”
He asked the question as he turned around to look behind him, and he stopped asking it when he realized why Navi had said “eep.” A short distance away down the artery was a small back of Bari, slowly drifting their way towards Link, Navi, and the sleeping Ruto. Link had no idea if they were the same Bari from the heart, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were getting closer and they looked ready to hunt.
Link, not willing to become a piece of floating gelatin’s food, secured Princess Ruto on his back before turning the other way to get away from the approaching monsters. But he only made it a short distance before he skidded to a complete halt. Navi started asking why he stopped when she noticed the reason as well.
There were more Bari down the other side of the artery, blocking Link’s escape route and closing the gap between them and the trio of adventurers.
“By Naryu’s Love, why does this have to happen?” Link screamed as he reached for his sword. “Looks like I’ll have to fight them anyway…”
But Link already knew fighting the Bari would result only in wasted effort. Ruto’s warning that they were dangerous echoed in his mind, and with the princess on his back he would have an even harder time fighting them. Sure, he could just dump her so he could fight, but he felt responsible for Ruto’s safety and didn’t wish to leave her vulnerable.
Both groups of Bari continued to close in on their prey, their tentacles waving around like excited tree bark snakes poised to strike. Even without Ruto, Link knew there was no way he could get past them without being touched by one of those deadly tentacles. And with both directions blocked, there was no way to go…
Wait a minute! Link remembered something Ruto did a while ago, back at the stomach. Maybe…maybe he could also do it…it just might work…
Without a second thought, Link dashed to the side of the blood artery, gripped his sword with both hands, and hacked at the wall of the artery with all his might. The blade sank into the flesh of the artery on the first blow and Link used his sword to carve downward through the artery’s pulp. He could also feel the sword slicing through something on the other side of the artery; maybe it was the wall of an organ that could lead him to safety…
Just as the Bari were within touching distance of the Kokiri, Link finished work on the artery wall and whatever was on the other side. He hesitated in stepping through the cut he had just made, but he then remembered the Bari approaching on either side and realized he’d be dead anyway if he stayed. After making a quick and silent prayer, Link stepped through the incision, just moments before one of the Bari’s tentacles lashed out at him with a brief yet powerful spark.
He had no idea where he was; it was a long tunnel-like organ, much larger than the blood artery and seemingly just as long. The entire passageway was lined with a soft, rough, pink tissue that felt flexible under Link’s feet. Covering the ground of the organ was a substance that resembled saliva yet didn’t seem to be saliva. Link guessed he had entered the digestive system again, but where in the system he could only imagine…
But there was no time for pondering. The Bari would probably try and get through the slit he had made to get him, and there were no such creatures in this organ; he couldn’t afford to waste this opportunity. He quickly picked a direction and put all his effort into running that way, with Ruto still out cold on his back and Navi silently trailing.
Because this new tunnel was much larger than the artery, Link had no idea how far or how long he ran; he didn’t even know if he was making any progress. Thankfully, there were no Bari in front of him or behind him; at least that was some kind of assurance. He didn’t know where this organ would lead him, but hopefully it didn’t lead to the stomach and its monstrous vat of acid….
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the tunnel started to thin out, as if creating some kind of opening that served some kind of purpose. Sure enough, after a little more running, Link found exactly what the tightening tunnel lead to: a valve door about five times the size of one of the blood pools back at the heart. Link remembered coming across a similar valve in the blood vessels during his walk with Ruto; she had said they opened and closed in a timed rhythm to keep a natural cycle of blood flow.
But since blood didn’t flow here, how did this door open? Link thought for a moment, and guessed since this was most likely the digestive system, the valve opened when food passed through here. Maybe it would mistake him for food. It was worth a shot…
Gulping softly, Link slowly approached the giant door, praying it lead to a way out or at least to a place of safety where Ruto could wake up. He made each step cautiously, as if a fast movement would cause the door to become a horrible monster and devour him whole. But each step towards the valve did nothing to open it, even when he was standing within arm’s length of it.
“Maybe I was wrong,” Link thought as he touched the valve gently with one of his hands.
Suddenly, without warning, the enormous door burst open. The valve split in four different directions and collapsed against the wall of the pink organ, allowing a vast doorway for the “food” to enter. Link was so shocked by this he nearly dropped Ruto, but luckily he managed to keep her firmly on his back. When he managed to stabilize himself, he couldn’t help smile at himself for being right.
Even Navi was impressed. “Looks like everything’s going to be okay, Link.”
“I guess so,” Link replied. “Let’s get going before any of those Bari show up. Maybe there’s even a way out over here.”
The small trio then stepped through the enormous doorway quickly, as if to make up for lost time for something.
Link was feeling very pleased with himself. Things were looking up for him, and everything was going his way for once. He had found Princess Ruto and the final Spiritual Stone, and he had lost those accursed Bari. With any luck, he would find some kind of an exit around here so he could take Ruto back to her father, and King Zora would forgive his blasphemy against his people and Ruto would give him the stone as thanks for saving her.
Yes, he really and truly thought things were indeed going his way.
He quickly pushed that thought out of his mind when the valve closed behind him and plunged the entire room into pitch darkness…