“So you’re leaving?”
Sheik turned around from his horse so he could see Mido, who was standing a short distance away behind the Sheikah. “Yes, I am.”
Mido curled his lips into an indifferent frown. “Then you’re serious about not helping your friend with the temple.”
Sheik gazed down at the ground and nodded gently. “I’m afraid so. I wish I could help him, but I am needed elsewhere to attend to matters I cannot ignore. But I have faith in him; he is the Hero of Time, after all.”
Mido nodded. “I see. This…this Hero of Time…who exactly is he? I’ve heard you call him that a couple of times, yet I don’t know who exactly or what he is.”
Sheik looked up again. “The Hero of Time…he is…” Sheik then hesitated, pausing to think up an answer before continuing. “Look around you, Mido. The Lost Woods was once a beautiful forest filled with forbidden splendor, but now it has fallen into ruins. The hands of Ganondorf, the King of Evil, are covered with the blood of this atrocious deed. The Hero of Time is the one who will put an end to your suffering, as well as everyone else’s suffering, by destroying the King of Evil and all he has done.”
Mido nodded again and scratched his cheek a couple of times before uttering, “I guess that makes sense. But you left out one detail.”
“You haven’t told me his name.”
Although Sheik cringed when Mido pointed that little detail out, the Sheikah had actually prepared for being asked about it. “He…the Hero of Time wishes to remain anonymous because he doesn’t want his name to be associated with his title. He knows of the legacy that follows his title, and when he becomes part of that legend he wishes only to be known as the Hero of Time.”
“So you don’t even know his name, is that right?”
Mido sighed. “Well, if that’s what he wishes, I suppose we’ll have to respect it. So, is there anything you need before you leave this place?”
Sheik blinked in surprise. He didn’t expect Mido would change the subject that quickly. Still, he was somewhat relieved that Mido didn’t want to pursue the topic any further; he wanted to respect Link’s wishes, despite how ridiculous they were. Sighing softly in relief, Sheik proceeded to answer Mido’s question.
“Actually, I’m fine, thank you. Alistair is all packed and ready for the journey ahead…oh, that reminds me. Would you at all mind taking care of the Hero of Time’s horse…Epona, I think her name is? I don’t know how long he’ll be inside that temple, so someone will have to take care of his horse…”
“You don’t need to say anything else,” Mido politely interrupted with weak smile on his face. “I’ll take care of her as if she were one of the Kokiri until her master returns; it’s the least I can do for you. You can count on it.”
Sheik smiled underneath his collar. “Thank you, Mido. I really appreciate what you’ve done for us.” He then turned back around so he could face his horse. “Well, I have to get going now. I have a long journey ahead of me. Maybe I’ll return one day so I can thank you at the appropriate moment.”
“If you do, then I’ll look forward to it. Until then, don’t worry about Link and Epona. I’ll take good care of them until they leave here.”
Sheik nodded. “Thank you again. Goodbye, Mido.”
“Farewell, Sheik. And good luck.”
Deciding not to prolong his journey any further, Sheik grabbed the reins of his horse Alistair firmly and lifted himself into the saddle. When the Sheikah was firmly seated on the beast’s back, he lifted the reins to beckon Alistair to move forward and begin the ride all the way to Kakariko Village.
But he stopped.
“Wait a minute…”
It was hard to believe Link hadn’t cried out all his tears by now, but somehow he still managed to shed one every now and then as he sat there in the long grass beside the Forest Temple. He didn’t know exactly why he was still crying, but he was sure it had to do with the fact that Saria was sitting next to him, telling him about everything that had happened during his absence from the Lost Woods. She was also shedding a tear every now and then, so Link knew what he was feeling was typical.
Then again, everything he had experienced up to this point had been anything but typical…
As Link listened intently to Saria’s story, making no interruptions and asking no questions, he soon heard something he had already heard. “…Then, about two years ago,” Saria uttered, “Mido and I decided to check a section of the forest we had neglected for a while now. When we got there, we ran into…”
Saria blinked in puzzlement. “Moblins?”
“Moblins,” Link repeated. “That’s the name of those creatures that you ran into.”
Saria smiled. “I see. So Mido told you about our encounter with them, did he? What else did he tell you?”
Link took a moment to think before replying, “Let’s see…he told me that you managed to sneak past them later on and you found this temple. He told me you decided to find out why it was so important, so you left Mido in charge of the Kokiri while you left to check it out. And he also told me…that that was the last time he ever saw you.”
Saria’s smile faded into a weak grin. “I…I guess that sounds right.”
Link’s tone of voice abruptly grew serious. “Is…is there a reason you stayed here for two years without returning to the village? I can see you staying here for a few weeks or even a couple of months, but two years?”
Saria fell silent for about a minute, her face suggested she was trying to find a reasonable answer for Link’s question. When she finally found one, she seemed reluctant to tell it to him, as if her reason were the best possible one yet it wasn’t good enough for her.
“I…I can’t really explain why I’ve stayed here for that long,” she uttered. “I…I originally intended to stay here for a couple of days, but I ended up staying as long as I have. I don’t know why, but…but I feel attracted to this place. Ever since I laid eyes on it, I felt some kind of bond with this temple, as if it belonged to me somehow. I just never wanted to leave it for fear of losing that connection.”
“I see,” Link acknowledged, deciding not to push the subject farther. “But how have you survived out here for two years?”
“Oh, come on, Link, you of all people should know that. I merely go out of the temple once in a while and pick some forest berries and shoots to eat. A nearby stream provides more than enough to drink. That’s what I was doing just now when I ran across you, collecting some rations. Of course, with those…um, Moblins out there, it hasn’t always been easy. That’s why I made this bow and this set of arrows. You can’t be too careful out here.”
“Can I see that bow of yours?”
Saria then removed the bow from over her shoulder and handed to Link, who grabbed it gently in his larger hand. Surprisingly, the bow was large enough for him to use; in fact, it seemed to fit him perfectly. It was made of very sturdy wood polished to a beautiful finish, and the string felt as taut as a pair of new shoes. As a test, Link grabbed the string and pulled as hard as he could. The bow flexed with amazing suppleness, not even cracking once.
“This…this is a very well-made bow, Saria,” Link commented. “But how did you make this out here in the forest?”
“The forest provided me with all the materials,” Saria answered, “and you won’t believe what I found inside that temple to help me build it. Same thing with these arrows.”
Link remained silent for a moment so he could examine the bow further. He stroked its polished surface, fingered the bowstring’s knots, and twisted in any way he could. To make such a magnificent weapon from such little resources…Link couldn’t imagine how it was capable, and yet he was holding the evidence in his very hand.
“I must say, I’m impressed,” Link added as he gave the bowstring one final yank before handing it back to Saria. “But there’s something else I need to know. Why did you threaten to shoot me like that when you first saw me?”
Saria had obviously waited for that question, but she was still hesitant in revealing the answer. “Yes, that,” she started weakly as she placed the bow in her lap. “Well, how can I explain this? I…I was scared that you were someone who wanted to kill me.”
“Someone who wanted to kill you? I can understand that, I guess,” Link uttered, hoping to calm Saria down a little. “Still, what made you think there was someone out there who wanted to kill you?”
“Those creatures, of course. Those Moblins,” Saria replied. “They were obviously put here to guard this temple, and that means someone doesn’t want anyone near this temple. So if that ‘someone’ finds me here, he’ll most certainly kill me. I’ve been living in fear of that person, whoever he may be, for two years, and during that time I made sure I was ready. Ready for him, should I ever meet him, to show him I am not a timid Kokiri. I would be a genuine threat, something he wouldn’t underestimate. That’s the reason in a nutshell, if ever there was one.”
Link blinked in amazement. “So it was all a charade?”
“More or less,” Saria answered.
“Well, you could’ve fooled me.”
“Sometimes I fooled myself as well.”
“So…you were prepared to kill me?”
Saria paused for what seemed like forever, swallowed, and uttered, “Yes.”
Naturally, Link shuddered. Who wouldn’t shudder at the possibility of having his throat being pierced by an arrow, an arrow launched by a close friend, no less? Still, he somehow managed to keep the resulting anxiety from his voice as he said, “Well, there’s nothing I can really say about that…except that I’m glad you didn’t.”
“I feel the same way, Link. I feel the same way.”
When Saria said those words, Link thought the mood was going to remain somber, but Saria unexpectedly bounced back.
“Okay, that’s enough about me,” she crooned with a smile. “How about telling me about what you’ve been up to? I haven’t heard anything about you.”
Unlike with Malon, where he seemingly had all the time in the world, Link could only give Saria a condensed version of his travels. Luckily, he only had to tell his experiences beyond his last talk with her with their ocarinas; still, when he was finished, he couldn’t help but feel he had cheated Saria out of some important details. Even so, he knew he had to wait until afterwards to feel guilty about it. He didn’t have time.
Despite Link’s shortening of his tale, however, Saria seemed satisfied when he ended his story with, “…and then I came to the Lost Woods, and you very much know the rest.” She took a moment to reflect before saying anything.
“That’s a very interesting story,” Saria mused as she scratched her cheek, “but let me first see if I understand it correctly. You’re this Hero of Time who’s meant to save Hyrule from this man called Ganondorf, who stole this magic relic called the Triforce. To save Hyrule, you must awaken these six Sages by awakening their power found within these six temples. And this temple that’s standing right in front of us happens to be one of those temples. Does that sound right?”
“Close enough,” Link answered. “It sounds ridiculous, I know, but…”
“Hey!” Saria interrupted with a raise of her palm. “I’ve seen monsters that are uglier than a chewed-up carcass rotting in the sun. I’ve been inside a temple I never knew existed until two years ago. And right now I see a Kokiri who is twice my size. Do you honestly expect me not to believe it?”
Link stammered. “Well, I…”
Saria interrupted Link again, this time by standing up. “If you ask me, we’re actually wasting precious time just sitting here and talking about this. You should’ve told me this to begin with so we could exchange pleasantries another time.”
“Come on, then,” Saria interjected as she waved her hand in the air. “Since I’ve called this place ‘home’ for the past two years, I can show you around and help you out. I’m sure we can awaken this temple’s Sage if we put our resources together. So hurry up, already.”
Before Link could allow another word to escape from his lips, Saria turned around and started to briskly walk towards the temple entrance, disappearing within the small doorway within a matter of moments and leaving a perplexed Link to stand up and gape after her in stony silence.
“Well,” he mumbled after a short calm. “That went faster that I thought it would be. I thought she would ask for all the details and everything, but she was the one who got us going. Isn’t that strange, Navi…? Navi? Navi? Navi, are there? Hey, Navi, where are you?”
Link quickly reached under his hat, expecting the fairy to be sleeping again, but to his surprise the fay wasn’t there. “Navi?” he called out at a louder volume. “Navi, where are you? Navi…?”
“Relax, Link, relax. I’m right here.”
Link swiftly turned his head and looked up, just in time to see the familiar pink glow of his friend flutter downward from a tree branch. It took Link a second to realize Navi was accompanied by a second, more purplish light, and it took him another second to realize it was Katl, Saria’s fairy.
“What were you two doing?” Link inquired as the two fairies flew level with his eyes.
“Just catching up,” Navi replied. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve talked to someone of my own kind? I can only tolerate talking to you for so long, you know.”
“Well, Navi certainly does have some interesting things to say,” Katl announced, “especially regarding your little adventures outside this forest and who you’re supposed to be. I never expected to see you again, but then I never expected to see the Lost Woods end up like this. I just hope you live up to your name as the Hero of Time, because we certainly need one…a hero, I mean. Well, I must get going if I want to catch up to my charge. See you inside.”
With that, Katl briskly headed towards the Forest Temple entrance to catch up to Saria, leaving Link and Navi alone again.
“Is it just me,” Link uttered, “or did he sounds a little cynical?”
“Can you blame him?” Navi replied. “You saw firsthand how Saria reacted when she first saw you. It seems like everyone has grown a little hardened these seven years. Then again, Katl wasn’t exactly perfect to begin with…but enough about that. Why don’t we get a move on before Saria calls…?”
“Link! Are you coming?”
Even though it felt cliché, Link shook his head, smiled, and muttered, “Too late.”
Any thought that the temple’s interior might be as unspectacular as its exterior was erased the moment Link stepped through the temple’s doorway. The inside of the doorway greeted him with two magnificent, tall pillars, one on either side, and at his feet lay a well-worn but dignified-looking path composed of thousands of tiny stones. He had originally thought the temple entrance had been some kind of tunnel, but now he realized it was merely a really large doorframe. And the inside of this “doorframe” had carving etched into its stone, carvings of twisting vines and vein-scarred leaves that were so detailed Link could almost swear they were real.
The door led into, of all things, a garden, and when Link stepped into this garden he felt both amazed and distressed at the same time. The garden was large enough to rival the one Link had spent time in back at Hyrule Castle, and judging by the selection of flowers and growth it could’ve easily been one of the most beautiful sights he had seen in a long time…could’ve. The garden had also clearly seen better days, as almost its entire flora had decayed, leaving all colors to decay in the lifeless shade of the garden walls. Strangely enough, there were no weeds of any kind to be found anywhere, either thanks to a masterful gardener or to another explanation Link just might be crazy to believe…
“Sad, isn’t it?”
As he trudged along the gravel pathway, Link directed his attention from the once-glorious garden towards the other end of the path, where Saria was waiting for him at what appeared to be a brief trail of stairs leading to a small porch.
“Was this place always like this?” Link asked as he picked up his pace.
“I’m not sure,” the Kokiri girl answered. “All I know is that it was like this when I got here two years ago…although it looked a little better than it does now. This garden isn’t dead, but it’s definitely still dying.”
“Have you tried helping it at all…?”
“Oh, yes, I’ve done all I could, but nothing’s worked. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that this garden relies on something else, something that’s being held against its will. I know it sounds crazy, but that connection I have with this place, the one I told you about…I’m sure it’s related to this somehow. Maybe…maybe if we awaken this Sage of yours, we can get some answers, but right now, all I can do is speculate.”
“Hey, speculation’s better than nothing,” Link commented as she stopped within arm’s length of Saria and a short distance from the porch. “Besides, you yourself said you can’t help but believe what I told you, and I’ve been through enough to know exactly how you feel.”
Saria gave Link a comforting smile before turning her gaze towards the terrace. “Follow me,” she uttered with a wave of her hand before heading in the appropriate direction. “We’re going inside.”
As Link nodded his head in acknowledgement and moved forward to follow his lifetime friend, he took a brief moment to look up. Without the obscuring wall to block his view, he could see the architecture more clearly. The pillars that surrounded the building with the triangular roof possessed some of the same artwork he had seen in the doorway, only it was protruding instead of etched. Even far away, Link could see just how detailed and lifelike the pillars’ depictions of vegetation really were. Whoever had built this temple had indeed been a master builder; he just hoped he could save it from whatever evil Ganondorf had planned for it…
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud groan that snapped his attention back to Saria. He was in time to watch her finish pushing a rickety-looking door on the porch open. When she had finished, she gave Link a quick glance and again motioned for him to follow her before disappearing inside.
Link only hesitated to quickly ruffle his cap a little. “Navi, are you awake?”
“What do you think?” answered the tiny voice in a surprisingly non-sarcastic manner.
“Good, then stay that way. I may need you at a moment’s notice so don’t fall asleep on me.”
Beyond the door, it was darker than Link had expected it to be; so unexpected, in fact, that he wished he hadn’t closed the door behind him after immediately walking through it. The solid stone walls were cloaked in the shadows of a corridor without the benefit of windows of any sort, and the only available light source came from a single flame torch hanging on the wall. It was this torch for which an eager Saria reached from the dark and held firmly in her fist.
“The main hall is just down this passage,” the Kokiri declared, her face flickering eerily in the firelight. “Once we’re there, we’ll figure out where to go from there.”
Saria then started down the corridor, with Link making sure he wasn’t left behind.
“Hey, Saria,” the Hero of Time began after a short trek down the tunnel. “Has that torch been burning all the time you were here…?”
“Of course not,” Saria interjected. “This is just one of the many things I found inside this temple. You’d be amazed at what the people who inhabited this temple have. For instance, I never knew there was a liquid that could allow fire to burn for long periods of time…or that there were tools used to create specific items, like bows and arrows. Still, the places I found these things really don’t have anything that could help us with find this Sage’s power and awakening it.”
“So…you’ve been everywhere in this temple?”
“I’d like to think so, after being here for two years…but the truth is…I really haven’t.”
“And why’s that?”
“It’ll be easier to explain once we get to the main hall. You’ll be able to see for yourself.”
When the Hero of Time, the Kokiri, and their two fairies emerged from the dark tunnel into what Link immediately presumed was the main hall, Link was flabbergasted…at how plain it looked. Well, that wasn’t entirely true…
Thanks to burning torches positioned all over the place, it was easy to see exactly where they were. The room’s dimensions were enough to house the entire Kokiri population comfortably three times over, suggesting the room had to accommodate a great deal of people sometime in the temple’s history. There were corridors gaping in almost every wall, each one leading to who knows where. Around the room were some of the same carvings Link had seen outside on the temple’s exterior, obviously done by the same architect, as well as several pillars boasting some exquisite figurines sitting in small alcoves carved into within the columns’ surface.
As for the room itself, the floor sank like steps towards the center of the chamber, where a platform about as wide as his house back in Kokiri Village was the centerpiece. Surrounding the platform at each corner were four corner-shaped pedestals, and standing upon each of these pedestals was a tall, golden monument of some kind, decorated with some strange-looking marks. They were obviously there for a reason, but that reason wasn’t immediately apparent.
So yes, the room did look exceptional. However…
“I kinda expected something far more extravagant,” Link mused. “Especially considering this is the main hall…”
“Lovely, isn’t it?” Saria suddenly uttered.
“What…? Oh, um, yes, it’s nice. So what’s in here that makes it easier for you to explain something to me?”
“Here, let me show you.”
Saria then started moving forward down a small flight of steps, beckoning with her finger for Link to follow. Link did so without hesitation. The two walked together, side by side, heading directly towards the center of the room, where the platform with the four golden…things was situated. When they reached it, Saria was the one who halted their progress by holding out her hand.
She then pointed directly at the floor, directly at the platform. “Do you see that?”
Link took a moment to observe at what Saria was pointing, but he couldn’t really figure out what she was trying to tell him. The platform was actually pretty ordinary, nothing but a stone floor with what seemed to be a wooden square tile in the very middle of the floor, a tile large enough for him and Saria to both stand on. There was nothing else at which to look.
“See what?” Link asked.
“That wooden square in the middle of the floor.”
“Oh, that? Yes, I see it. What about it?”
“Take a closer look. Notice anything about it?”
Not quite understanding what Saria was trying to tell him, Link shrugged and leaned forward so he could get a better look at the tile. Even then he couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but just before he was about to give up he suddenly noticed something bizarre. The wooden square didn’t fit the hole it was sitting in! The tile’s edges and the edges of the hole weren’t touching each other; the gap between them was small, but it was big enough for a trained eye to notice.
And with everything else made with such careful, excruciating detail, something like that definitely felt a little out of place.
Link pointed it out to Saria, and the Kokiri smiled. “Finally noticed it, huh? And I think I know why that’s like that. That wooden square is actually part of some kind of mechanism, one that takes people to another part of the temple.”
“Interesting,” Link uttered as he took a few steps towards the wooden tile and gave it a few taps with his foot. “Have you managed to activate it?”
“No, I haven’t. Nothing I’ve found in this temple gives any indication of how to activate it or even where it leads. But I’m almost certain that this thing leads to the most important part of this temple.”
Link snapped his gaze towards Saria. “What do you mean?”
“This main hall, the corridors that lead in every direction, the rooms found at the end of them…after living in this place for two years, I firmly believe that everywhere I’ve been, a long time ago, was open to the general public that visited this temple. Things I found, like the tools I used to craft my bow and arrows and the oil for the torches…they only seem to confirm that. But what if there were places here that were only meant for the people who worked or lived here, places not meant for the public? Because of this square, I’m sure that there are many more rooms to explore, rooms located underneath this temple, rooms that house something far more important than anything in these upper levels.”
Link whistled. “Underneath, huh? Well, there’d definitely be no shortage of space then. But you said you haven’t managed to activate the square. Any idea how that might be done?”
“Not entirely, but I have a feeling that these torches have something to do with it.”
“Those things,” Saria declared as she pointed to one of the four golden items surrounding the platform.
“Oh, those things…they’re torches?”
“Well, why haven’t you tried lighting them? With the main hall lit up right now, you’d think that…”
“I’ve already tried. They won’t light.”
Link blinked in surprise. “Excuse me? They won’t light? What are you talking about?”
“See for yourself. Here, give me a boost to one of them and I’ll show you.”
Feeling a little confused but intrigued at the same time, Link complied with Saria’s request. He reached out with his hands and gently clamped them across Saria’s stomach, making sure his fingers didn’t touch anything…personal of Saria’s. He then lifted her into the air, raising her as high as he could above his head, and shuffled his way to the closest of the golden torches. When she was close enough, Saria used the torch in her hand to insert the flame into the pinnacle of the golden torch. She took a couple of moments to shift and swing the flame about as much as possible, making sure the flame would find the golden torch’s substance of burning. When she was finished, she gave a signal and Link returned her to the ground. Both of them shifted their gazes to the golden torch.
Not even a trail of smoke.
“See?” Saria asked. “I’ve done that many times now to all of them, and even poured oil into them to make sure they’ll catch alight. But not once have I seen a flame sprout from these things. Not once.”
“Then how do you know they’re even torches?”
“I don’t know…I just have this feeling that they are. Besides, that smell they give off isn’t exactly perfume, is it?”
Link leaned close to the torch, took a whiff, and immediately tried to get the odor from his lungs. “I…ack…I guess not,” he coughed as he swatted his hand before his nose. When he regained control of his breathing, he continued, “So…is that the only place you haven’t been able to visit in this temple?”
“Actually, there’s one other place,” Saria answered before pointing to the wall behind Link. “And it’s right over there.”
Link turned his head around and this time immediately noticed what Saria was showing him. The wall at which Saria was pointing was different than all the other walls in the chamber by the sole fact that it didn’t have a single opening carved into it. In fact, the wall was completely bare save for a single decoration: a thin, marble slab, just a little taller than Link, with the very recognizable symbol of the Triforce painted upon its surface. In fact, it didn’t take Link long to realize that the wall was located in a very key position in the temple, almost as if the slab had some important purpose.
It also didn’t take Link very long to figure out what the stone slab was.
“I’m guessing…that’s a door?” Link speculated after a moment of thinking.
Saria nodded. “Good guess. Yes, it’s a door of some kind, and judging by where the door is located it must lead to someplace important in this temple. So of course it has no immediately obvious way of opening. I’ve spent as much time on this door as I have with that wooden floor door, but I’ve found nothing. No opening mechanism, no alternate route, nothing. Whoever designed this place really knew what he was doing.”
Link didn’t have a response for Saria’s highlights, so he simply stared at the door in an attempt to figure out its secrets. The three-triangle representation was definitely that of the Triforce, so that symbol had to hold some kind of clue. Something of value was obviously behind that door, so something related to the Triforce had to open it. Just like the Door of Time, this door had…
Wait a minute. The Door of Time…that’s it! The Song of Time…what if it could also open this door? Whoever built this temple had to have had a hand in building the doorway to the Sacred Realm, so maybe, just maybe, they shared the same key. Of course, it was a long shot at best, but in Link’s mind the logic made sense. The Song of Time could only open the Door of Time by being played on the Ocarina of Time in the presence of the Spiritual Stones, so it was very possible the song could be used for more practical purposes as well.
Such as the keys for the six temples…
“Hey, it’s worth a shot,” he thought.
Taking a couple of steps forward towards the door, Link reached inside his pouch and pulled the Ocarina of Time. His logic indicated that the Ocarina of Time wasn’t necessary to open this particular door, but he decided to use the mystical instrument as a safeguard.
“Hey, Link,” Saria called out. “What are you doing…an ocarina…is that the one you told me about? That…what was it called again…the Ocarina of Time?”
“You got it,” Link replied. “I’m going to try something here to see if I can open this door.”
“With an ocarina?”
Unable to think of a witty reply, Link simply lifted the ocarina to his lips and started playing the Song of Time. It was funny how he could still remember the song after seven years of imprisonment. He could still remember every note as clear as when Princess Zelda had played it for him in her telepathic message. He could still recall the tempo and volume he believed the song should be performed. He could even recollect the tingle he had felt down his spine as he had evoked the song’s indescribable power.
How was it funny? Maybe because Time, which had taken everything away from him, now meant nothing to him right now.
As he played that magical melody he had used to open the Door of Time, he could already feel the affects of its soothing melodies. A soft yet deep rumble started to resonate within the chamber, and Link, with his eyes open, could already tell his hunch had been right. The door with the depiction of the legendary Triforce was beginning to open, split down the middle and swinging wide open on hinges hidden by either excellent craftsmanship or magic. The doors opened slowly yet evenly, revealing a portal cloaked in darkness thanks to lack of any form of light.
It wasn’t until Link heard a final and resounding thud that he decided to stop playing. He ended the song on a right note and swiftly returned the Ocarina of Time to his pouch, where it would be safe besides Saria’s own ocarina. He then marveled at his handiwork and his ingenuity, even though it his guess had merely been that: a guess. Now all he needed was one more thing…
“By Din’s Fire…Link, you’re amazing!”
…and that was it.
Turning around, Link uttered with a proud smile yet a humble tone, “Well, I’m just glad I could help, that’s all.”
Saria, still riddled with disbelief and amazement, ran to the beaming Hero of Time and gave him several slaps on the back. “Link, you’ve outdone yourself. You’ve managed to do in a few minutes what I couldn’t do in two years. I would’ve never been able to do this without you…”
“Oh, Saria, please. Stop it. It’s nothing to get excited about. All I did was open a door, that’s all.”
At that very moment, Link was staring deeply into Saria’s eyes. The Kokiri girl was returning the stare, her eyes filled with pride and joy that made Link’s heart melt. It was one of the things he had missed after he had left the Lost Woods all those years ago, and he was so happy to finally experience it again after such a long hiatus.
He wanted the feeling to last as long as possible and thus made sure he gave his full attention to the Kokiri gazing up at him.
So of course he didn’t see something emerge from the newly opened darkness and make a leap towards him until it was nearly too late.
“Link! Look out!”
Navi’s shrill voice reach Link’s ears just in time for the Hero of Time to see what was approaching him and react in alarm. He had no time to move out of the way, so all he could do was brace himself for impact when the thing crashed right into him and sent him sprawling to the floor.
“Link!” Saria screamed.
Link had no time to answer Saria’s cry; he was far too busy trying to keep himself from being devoured by whatever had knocked him down. The last thing he had seen before being sent crashing down was a pair of gaping jaws flying straight for his face, and he had managed to reach out with his hands and grab the ends of those jaws so they wouldn’t reach their target. Now he was on his back, still trying to make sure of that.
The jaws were so close that they were all Link could see. Their teeth were serrated and sharp yet moldy and uneven, affixed to gums as gray as fire ash. Saliva colored a sickening yellow dripped across every tooth, eventually trickling down Link’s fingers that were making sure those teeth did not clamp shut. A nauseating odor whiffed across Link’s face like an unwelcome wind, and a muffled roar from the creature’s throat managed to reach his ears.
“Link!” Saria screamed again. “By the Three Goddesses, Link!”
Link could feel the strength in his arms strain to keep the jaws open; if he remained like this for much longer, he knew he wasn’t going to last.
“I…I don’t know what you are…” Link grunted as he prepared a desperate plan in his mind, “but if you think I’m just going to let you bite my face…”
Suddenly, in the span of an instant, Link shifted all of his strength from his arms to his legs, where he used them to plant his feet firmly underneath the jaws’ owner and then gave the beast a firm shove. A loud howl of anger echoed throughout the chamber as the creature sailed through the air, but Link paid it no mind. Instead he threw himself to his feet and crouched into a fighting stance, his nimble hands immediately removing the Master Sword from its scabbard and readying its mighty blade for battle.
“…you thought wrong,” he huffed, completing his sentence. Then, in a raised voice, he bellowed, “Saria! Quickly! Get behind me!”
A completely stunned Saria could only do what the Hero of Time ordered and rapidly made her way to Link’s side. As she did, a loud thud followed the furious screams of whatever Link had kicked away, indicating the beast had landed. Although shaken up, Saria had enough courage to ready her bow with an arrow in its string. She may not have a bladed weapon, but she wasn’t about to be a handicap for Link.
The creature didn’t land too far away, but that obviously didn’t matter to the beast. It had lost its prey and wasn’t too pleased about it. With its jaws snarling, the monster sprang to its feet and turned to face the Hero of Time, the Kokiri, and their two faires, revealed exactly what it was.
At first, Link thought the beast was a wolf, but he quickly realized it was far too big to be a wolf. Towering about as high as Link’s chest, the wolf-like creature was covered from head to toe with a dirty grey fur as twisted and deformed as a badly-kept bush. Muscles bulged from underneath its hide, rippling with anticipation. On its feet were several claws that reminded Link of its teeth: decaying yet still dangerous. And perched above the monster’s drooling jaws was a pair of hollow eyes that seemed to glow an eerie yellow in the torchlight.
It wasn’t difficult for Link to reach the conclusion that this beast was obviously one of Ganondorf’s monstrous servants, like the Lizalfos before it.
“Navi!” Link cried out. “What is that thing?”
“That…that is, um…”
“It’s a Wolfos,” replied the voice of Katl, interrupting Navi. “A beast that should’ve died years ago. Be careful of it, because it can stand on its hind legs and use its front legs like arms to swat its prey.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Link acknowledged as he tightened his grip on his sword. “Let’s just hope there’s no more of them…”
As if on cue, something wandered out of the darkness of the open door and positioned itself next to the Wolfos that had attacked Link. When the Hero of Time saw that the newcomer was another Wolfos, he rolled his eyes.
“Figures,” he grumbled. “Saria, I want you to get as far away from here as possible, to higher ground if you can.”
“But what about you…?”
“I’ll take care of these two. Don’t worry; I’ve handled much worse before. I’ll be fine.”
His last word was more of a plea than a demand, and Saria understood that. With worry drifting in her eyes, she reluctantly nodded. “Fine, if say so. Just…be careful, Link.”
“I will, Saria, I will,” Link said with a nod of his own. “Just go, now, before it’s too late.”
Without another word or gesture, Saria turned around and started walking as fast as she could in the opposite direction of the two Wolfos, keeping her locked arrow in her bowstring just in case.
Keeping one eye on Saria and the other on the two hungry Wolfos, Link used his free hand to remove his shield and move it into position. He hadn’t felt the security of a shield ever since he lost his wooden one to King Dodongo’s fire seven years ago, so having one on his arm again gave him a welcome feeling. And since this one was made of metal and not wood, he had nothing to fear…at least he hoped he didn’t.
He knew this moment would come. Outside the temple entrance, he knew he would be shedding blood one way or the other, and that time has come. And he hated it. These Wolfos may not be human beings, but they were still living creatures, and long before Gohma he couldn’t bear the thought of taking another life. He could still remember the words he spoke before he plunged his sword in Gohma’s eye:
“I know you haven’t done anything to me, but I cannot allow you to destroy what is precious to me. Forgive me.”
He had apologized to her, apologized before he took her life. That was the Link he wanted to be again, the Link didn’t kill because he wanted to, but because he had to. His encounter with the Lizalfos was still fresh in his memory as were his duel with the Barinade and his brawl with Ingo. Back then, things had gotten out of control. He had become someone he never wanted to be.
Not again. Never again.
He was in control. He was Link the Kokiri who also happened to be the Hero of Time, not vice versa. And he was going to do what had to be done. And right now, what he had to do was awaken the Sage of the Temple of the Forest.
And these Wolfos were in the way.
Link smiled, almost wickedly. “It’s time to play, my friends,” he muttered to himself. “And boy, am I in the mood.”
Then, without another word, Link raised the Master Sword above his head and charged.