Quiet. The room was quiet, quieter than an empty sky. Rarely was a stray wind stirred, a muffled sound echoed, or a shadow shifted. Seldom did anything give any indication that something survived within the chamber. Silence was the room’s master, reigning over everything in its wake; any disturbance would immediately be noticeable.
So when the cry of the Wolfos resonated throughout the chamber, the four sisters immediately noticed.
Waking from the slumber they had imposed upon themselves, the sisters drifted from the circular formation from which they had slept and spread themselves across the room. When all sisters were positioned in all four corners of the chamber, they turned to each other, raising the items in their right hands, the items they had sworn to protect with their lives.
“Someone is inside the temple,” announced the first sister.
“Of course someone is in the temple,” snapped the second sister.
“Yes, that little girl is in the temple,” replied the third sister.
“I remember her,” mused the fourth sister.
“But this time something is different.”
“And why is that?”
“Wait…can it be she’s managed to unlock the door to our master?”
“No, that is impossible.”
“No, she has not unlocked the door to our master.”
“Yes, just as I suspected.”
“Then what is different?”
“Then could it be…she has unlocked the door to this very chamber?”
“That is what I believe.”
“Then you believe a lie.”
“And why does she believe a lie?”
“The key to our door was lost and forgotten countless years ago.”
“But somehow she has found it.”
“How can you be so certain she has found it?”
“The Wolfos have awoken, so that must be our sister’s certainty.”
“I can hear them cry for blood.”
“That girl has opened our door, and therefore must be destroyed.”
“Why didn’t we destroy her when she first stepped into our temple?”
“That would’ve been much quicker.”
“I believe our master wanted us to leave her be.”
“Our master certainly requires strange things.”
“Watch how you speak about our master!”
“I’m sure she meant no offense.”
“What shall we do about the girl?”
“Let us ask our master in his chamber below us.”
“Yes, our master will certainly know what to do.”
“Let us pray to him now.”
“I am praying now.”
So the four sisters prayed in their corners, closing their eyes and focusing their minds, asking for guidance from their master. They rarely did anything without the consent of their master, for he would surely punish them if they did anything beyond what he wished. Whatever he asked for, they did; whatever he desired, they granted. They were loyal to him and nothing else, not even their own free will.
Not too long in their prayer, the sisters received their answer. They opened their eyes and faced one another.
“Our master, from the chamber beneath us, has spoken.”
“He has told us what to do.”
“We must kill the girl should she survive the claws of the Wolfos.”
“We will do what he asks.”
Then, together in a single, monotonous tone, the four sisters cried, “Hail our master, our king, Lord Ganondorf.”
It was ironic how Link never wanted to become that insane monster he had been several times before, a beast that found killing a natural and enjoyable instinct, and yet now was charging forward with naked steel, steel intending to drink the blood of two creatures blocking his path. He could hear his mind screaming for him not to spill their blood in lunacy, but he could also feel his muscles twitch to kill for pure sport.
The battle for supremacy of his conscience was a fierce one, and he just prayed he didn’t lose it before he won the one with the Wolfos…
The Wolfos didn’t seem to be intimidated by Link’s advance; they simply stood where they were, staring at the Hero of Time charging towards them. Link instinctively believed they would make some kind of leap to the side to dodge his attack from above; he quickly calculated a maneuver to give them a big surprise.
“Take this, you overgrown fleabags!” Link ordered in his mind moments before he reached his quarry and brought his sword down with all his might.
Just as he suspected, the Wolfos were making a leap. With a quick flip of his wrist, Link changed the path of his sword, curving it outward to his right before snapping it in the opposite direction and straight across the left. He could almost hear the screams of the Wolfos he was about to strike, slice its neck or at least cripple it so he could deal with the other one exclusively…
Wait a minute…
The Wolfos hadn’t leapt to the sides as he had prediction, but they were leaping over him! To his complete dismay, the Master Sword tasted nothing but air as it whistled through its seemingly perfect arc.
Trying not to waste a single second, Link turned around as fast as he could, his teeth gritted together to expel his frustration. “Curse you!” he muttered through his teeth as he turned to face his opponents…
…and was just in time to spot one of the Wolfos thrust itself away from its landing and straight towards him, its claws outstretched to tear him limb from limb and its teeth snapping in anticipation of a juicy treat.
Link instantly used his powerful legs to push himself to the right, but he had to raise his shield to block one of the creature’s powerful swipes at his face. The force of the Wolfos’ blow was enough to make the shield vibrate violently and throw the Hero of Time off balance, so Link quickly found his body sliding across the cold stone floor. But the pain he received didn’t even make him flinch – it was nothing compared to a burnt hand – and was standing back on his feet seconds later.
“Where are you, you bastards?” he cried out, starting to get more frustrated and irate with each passing minute.
The second Wolfos answered his question when, from out of nowhere, it made a daring leap for Link’s head with its claws. Link, surprised by the second immediate attack to his right, had no time to leap away; instead all he could was raise the Master Sword and use it to deflect the Wolfos’ attack. The defensive move worked, although Link only managed to strike his foe’s claws with the back of sword and the blow did rock the Hero of Time’s balance somewhat.
Luckily, Link recovered quickly enough to watch the second Wolfos make a landing just behind him and turn its hollow, yellow eyes in his direction. It didn’t attack, but Link knew it was calculating another strategy. He quickly glanced to his left to see the other Wolfos doing the same, saliva dripping down its disfigured jaws.
“Cornered,” Link realized. “So these creatures aren’t stupid, are they?”
Just when Link thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Wolfos did something to force him to beg to differ. The creatures glared at him for a moment longer before, in perfect unison, the sat down on the floor and…erected their backs into the air. The beasts then…snapped their heads forward and…twisted their forelegs into an arrangement that resembled a human’s arms. The Wolfos then stood up on their hind legs, releasing a disturbing growl from their snouts.
“So…this is what Katl warned me about,” Link thought. “This sure tips the balance of luck…just wish I knew in whose favor…”
As if in reply to Link’s wish, the Wolfos directly in front of him released an earsplitting, bloodcurdling scream before charging, its claws outstretched like hands with razors on their fingertips. The Wolfos moved surprisingly fast on its hind legs, almost as fast as a horse at a full gallop. Link raised his sword and shield in preparation, while at the same time keeping an eye on the Wolfos behind him.
He was not going to lose…
With vigor more powerful than anything Link could recall in recent memory, the charging Wolfos used one of its powerful arms and struck Link’s raised shield with full force. The beast then tried to take advantage of Link by using its other arm to cut across Link’s torso. But the Hero of Time, while shaken by the initial attack, managed to pull through in time to use his shield to block the second strike.
The Wolfos, its eyes starting to glow fiercely, growled as it raised its arm again to hack Link apart. But Link was ready this time; instead of his shield, Link this time used his sword. Twisting it downward and inward, he arched the mighty blade to meet the trajectory of his adversary’s attack. He timed it just right, making sure the sharp side would be given full strength behind it…
With a sickening yet satisfying crunch, the Master Sword sank deep into the flesh of the Wolfos’ arm. The blade seemed to tear as far as it could before it slowed down and finally stopped, lodged within the beast’s powerful lower arm. Link was sure he had found the creature’s bone with that hit, and the thick black blood already oozing from the wound made the attack more gratifying.
Any moment now, the Wolfos would scream the loudest and most horrified scream it had even given in its life; no living thing could be given such a wound and not feel excruciating pain. And once it did so, he would make his move…
But to Link’s complete horror, the Wolfos didn’t even cringe. The creature merely jerked its head to look at the wound before hissing an enraged cry from its dripping jaws. There was no pain in its eyes at all, just wrath and a senseless desire to kill.
“By Din’s Fire, no!” Link cried as he tried to wrench his sword from the creature’s flesh.
But the Wolfos was too fast. Before Link had a chance to get the Master Sword free, the Wolfos lifted its free hand in order to take the Hero of Time down with one swing. Link, unable to do anything else, raised his shield to block the attack. The resulting strike was so intense that Link’s knees were unable to allow him to remain standing. He quickly found himself kneeling on one knee, his concentration straining to keep him alive.
But his concentration wasn’t enough to foresee what happened next. Before Link could even blink, the Wolfos made an unexpected move. With a lightning fast coil of its arm, the Wolfos wrenched the arm with the Master Sword embedded within it free. Slivers of flesh fell to the floor and syrupy blood splashed in all directions, including all over Link’s face.
This nauseating turn of events was enough to distract Link long enough for the Wolfos to grab the Master Sword blade with its paw and slam it to the floor, pinning the weapon underneath the beast’s incredible weight.
“Oh, dear gods, no!”
Link quickly tried to get the blade from underneath the Wolfos’ paw, even trying to cut the animal’s foot with the blade, but the Wolfos didn’t even flinch. Link’s main weapon had been disabled. He had no choice but to let go of it and…
Suddenly, Link’s instinct’s forced him to look behind him. To his complete terror, the other Wolfos was heading straight for him, claws extending and teeth gnashing. Link’s eyes widened in horror; the Wolfos had tricked him and they were about to kill him. He couldn’t believe it! He was about to be…
Suddenly, without warning, the charging Wolfos fell to the ground with a crash, as if some invisible force from the side had pushed it. His face white with fear but his eyes wide with surprise, Link could only watch as the Wolfos stood up as quickly as it had fallen, its face now warped in passionate rage. At first, Link couldn’t figure out what had happened, but when his eyes glanced at the creature’s muzzle he immediately realized what had happened.
Protruding through the beast’s long snout was an arrow, an arrow that had gone all the way through the Wolfos’ muzzle. And Link knew exactly where that arrow had come from…
“Hey, wolf-face!” screamed a familiar voice, causing both Link and both Wolfos to turn around.
There, standing on a balcony’s stone rail a little ways above the ground, was Saria, her bow already loaded with another arrow pointed straight at the Wolfos with the arrow through its snout.
“If you even think about harming him,” Saria bellowed angrily, “I’ll help you find a way to speak through a hole in your throat! Just try it! I dare you!”
The Wolfos that had been struck by Saria’s arrow snarled before it decided on what to do and made a move. But instead of taking up Saria’s dare and attacking Link, the Wolfos decided to attack the one who had pierced its beloved snout. With a loud cry of rage, it leapt forward on its hind legs for the young Kokiri girl.
“Saria, look out!” Link screamed.
“You want this that badly?” Saria mocked, unafraid of the Wolfos’ advance. “Then here you go!”
On the last word, Saria let loose her arrow, aimed straight for the Wolfos’ throat. But just as the arrow was about to find its mark, there was a loud snap within the room, followed by an even louder crunch. To both Link and Saria’s horror, the Wolfos had managed to catch Saria’s arrow in midair between its jaws, shattering the projectile into thousands of pieces.
Saria gasped in fright. Link screamed in panic. “Saria! Get away from there! Get away! Run, Saria! Run!”
Saria seemed to listen to Link’s frantic demand and tried to get away, but before she took even a single step her foot slipped and she tumbled down the balcony’s rail. A moment later, she found herself holding onto the railing by only one hand, her feet dangling in reach of the advancing Wolfos. All the beast had to do was make one good leap and it would have her between its jaws.
“Saria!” Link shrieked again.
“Link!” the Kokiri girl screamed back. “Help me!”
As if in slow motion, Link could feel the fear inside of him transform itself into rage. He immediately realized he was losing the battle for his sanity; this time, however, he was not experiencing the sadistic lunacy he had felt many times before. No, it wasn’t that; it was what he had experienced at Lon Lon Ranch. It was the mad state he had been in when he had come close to killing Ingo, the state where he killed not because he liked it but because he couldn’t stop doing so.
He didn’t want to slip into that state, because being made with ire was just as bad as being mad with cruelty. But Saria was in danger…no! He couldn’t! He couldn’t become that monster again. Never again! Even to save the life of someone, he never wanted to become that horrible killing machine again.
But Saria was in danger…
When he heard that scream from Saria, something in Link snapped. His eyes narrowed, his jaw stiffened, and his face turned to face the Wolfos who was pinning down his sword.
With newfound strength, Link thrust himself forward, pushing against the massive Wolfos with his shield. The Wolfos saw the attack and tried to push back, but Link somehow managed to overpower the beast that just moments ago had rendered Link’s sword immobile. The Wolfos could only howl in surprise as it stumbled backwards, lost its balance, and went crashing to the floor.
The Wolfos shock of surprise didn’t last too long, as it attempted to get back up not too long after landing on its back. But this time it was Link who was too quick for the Wolfos. Grabbing his sword and getting on his feet, Link quickly dashed over to the Wolfos and, with all his might, leapt on the creature’s thick neck and pressed it as hard as he could into the ground. The Wolfos, now unable to move, could only open its mouth to release a roar of anger.
That was exactly what Link wanted.
“You want my sword?” Link declared as he raised the Master Sword in both hands, pointing down. “Here! Take it!”
Then, with all his might, Link plunged the blade straight down the Wolfos’ throat. There was a loud crunch as the blade sank into the back of the monster’s throat. The Wolfos seemed to fall silent for a moment, and then abruptly coughed violently, spewing black blood from its mouth in every available direction. The beast coughed for a couple of seconds before it lay still, left to choke on its own bodily fluids.
Link withdrew the blade from the creature’s throat, allowing the vile black liquid to drip down its once-sparkling surface. Vivid images of the Lizalfos flashed in Link’s mind, images of black blood trickling down his Kokiri sword and down his arm. But Link didn’t care. He was out to kill those who were going to kill his friend, and not even haunting memories would get in his way.
He quickly directed his attention to the second Wolfos, who had by now reached the balcony where Saria was dangling. The beast was standing on its feet, eyeing its prey with a mixture of both anticipation and hate – anticipation for a delectable meal, hate for the one who had shot an arrow through its nose. All it had to do was make one good jump and…
“Leave her alone!”
Without another word, Link outstretched his hand and released a stream of Din’s Fire towards the animal. The blast reached the Wolfos a split second later, engulfing the beast in a cloak of flames. It took a while for the Wolfos to realize what was going on, but when it did it howled an earsplitting scream.
But it wasn’t a scream of pain. It was a scream of rage. Without even doing a thing to put out the fire that had enveloped it, the Wolfos turned around to face the Hero of Time. In the light of the flames, the beast’s eyes were glowing as bright a yellow as possible. The arrow through its nose had been burnt off, with only charred stubs poking through the creature’s flesh. Even through the flames, Link could tell the Wolfos wanted to kill more than ever, only now it was merely for revenge.
But Link wasn’t afraid. He wanted to kill the Wolfos as much as it wanted to kill him.
Raising the Master Sword yet again, Link charged.
So did the Wolfos.
The Hero of Time and the fiery Wolfos leapt into the air moments before meeting each other, and they collided in the air. Both released as much strength as they could into their attacks. Both found their target. There was a loud clash of flesh and steel…
The Wolfos landed on the ground with an unsteady sound. The fire had been extinguished by its mad charge, leaving only charred fur and a sickening burnt smell in the air. The beast tried to stand up, but its left front leg had been almost completely sliced at the knee and one of its back tendons had been severed. No matter how hard it tried, it couldn’t seem to find its balance, making it grow angrier and angrier.
Link fared a little better, but he didn’t make it out unscathed. His right upper arm had deep scratches all the way down, and blood was trickling down at a painful rate. Link tried clutching the wound with his left hand, but the pain refused to go away. He couldn’t remember anything this painful since Ganondorf had shot him.
He also couldn’t remember anytime he was as angry as this.
“That accursed bastard!” Link thought heatedly, his eyes narrowing dangerously and his lips curling into a menacing snarl. “I’ll make him pay for this! I’ll cut his skull open and twist his insides apart! He’ll regret the day he crossed me! He’ll…”
“Link! Link, are you all right?”
Link jerked his head around and, to his unexpected surprise, found Saria running to his side, her eyes filled with worry.
“Link, are you okay? I saw you two collide and I thought you might be injured. Are you all right…? Oh, dear gods, you’re bleeding!”
As Link gazed at Saria’s pale face, peered deep into her sincere and worry-filled eyes, something again happened inside of Link. But instead of something snapping, something melted. As if in an instant, all the painful rage Link had built up inside of him dissolved away, leaving absolutely no traces. As if done by magic, his harsh and tightened facial features softened and his tight muscles loosened. He could feel himself become human again, could feel the killings instincts drift away as if they never existed.
Ironically, Saria didn’t even realize what she had done; she was too preoccupied with Link’s injury even to notice the change. Instead she reached into the quiver on her back and pulled out a large piece of white cloth. She then started wrapping it as tightly as she could around Link’s wound.
“This is something I use to hold my arrows together,” she uttered as she made a knot with the piece of cloth, “but I think your arm needs it more than my arrows…”
The Kokiri girl looked up. “Yes, what is it? Does it hurt?”
Link felt like crying, but he managed to hold back the tears. “No, it’s fine. I…I just wanted to say thanks.”
Saria’s face grew puzzled. “For the bandage?”
“No…” Link uttered as he smiled. He then reached with his left hand and gently stroked Saria’s right cheek. “Just…for being a great friend, that’s all.”
Saria seemed to grow even more confused. “Well, you’re welcome, but…by your tone of voice, I feel like I just missed something. Why…?”
“Link! Behind you!”
Navi’s shrill voice rang in Link’s ear moments before the Hero of Time responded and jerked his head around. What he saw nearly made him jump as high as he could. The injured Wolfos had somehow managed to get back on its feet, and it was obviously not very happy. Blood spurting everywhere and singed fur drifting from its charred hide, the beast was making a surprisingly fast advance for Link and Saria, its jaws snapping violently.
“Saria, get back!” Link cried as he stood up and shoved the Kokiri behind him. He raised the Master Sword into attack position, ignoring the pain crawling up his arm. He didn’t have a plan of attack, but he was going to protect Saria with his life.
And he would do it without the help of his insane persona.
“Oh, gods, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I…?”
Suddenly, a burst of inspiration flood Link’s mind. He had a plan, but he realized it would be a risky one. One wrong move and he would be left defenseless to the Wolfos’ claws. But it was the only chance he had of ending this.
Taking a deep breath, Link raised his sword to cut the creature from underneath. The Wolfos, now charging on all fours instead of just its hind legs, didn’t even flinch at Link’s preparations. It simply blindly moved forward, determined to destroy the one who had crippled it. Link waited at just the right moment, then swung the sword as fast as he could, aiming the blade at the creature’s legs.
The sword didn’t even have a chance of reaching the Wolfos’ legs before the beast somehow managed to leap into the air, forming an arc aimed directly at Link. The creature’s hollow eyes eyed its prey irately as it snapped its jaws maliciously.
Fortunately, that was exactly what Link had been anticipating.
“Here we go!” he cried as he readied his sword once more and, this time with all his might, swung the Master Sword toward the beast’s face. Time seemed to slow down in that crucial moment as Link watched the blade fly where he had aimed them: directly between the Wolfos’ snapping jaws. Link’s blow was so powerful that the blade forced the enormous beast back, cutting deeply into the flesh of the Wolfos’ jaws. The Wolfos’ face expressed genuine surprise as the Hero of Time pushed it away.
But Link had one more surprise in store.
Throwing away his shield with his other hand, Link made sure the Master Sword was holding the Wolfos’ jaws open, stretched out his hand, and then said a single word to the monster. In a wry tone and with a smile, no less.
As if everything else had simply stopped moving, Din’s Fire flew from Link’s hand and into the Wolfos’ jaws like a surreal spirit, a deadly spirit with the power and will to kill anything it touched. The tongue of flame crawled down the beast’s throat so quickly that the Wolfos didn’t know what was going on until it was too late. For the first time since encountering them, Link heard the Wolfos scream in pain and agony.
The creature could tolerate pain inflicted on the outside, but never before had it felt pain on the inside…
Link used Din’s fire for only several seconds, but the intended damage had been done in only half that time. The moment Link stopped using his magic and with a quick snap withdrew his blade from the creature’s mouth, the Wolfos fell to the ground with a bone-shattering crash, dead. Its hollow yellow eyes were now only hollow, completely seared from the inside. A thick dark ooze started to seep from the beast’s burnt mouth, and the charred fur twitched for a brief moment before falling still.
One by steel, the other by fire, both Wolfos were now lifeless carcasses left to rot within the Temple of the Forest.
Link, feeling literally burnt out, felt his kegs grow weak. He fell to his knees using his sword to prop him up and regain his balance. But inside he felt a pang of satisfaction, satisfaction in defeating the second Wolfos without being overcome by his insanity fits.
And it was all thanks to Saria. If she hadn’t spoken to him just now, he very may well still be insane, looking around for more blood to spill. But her voice and her face had calmed him, had removed all anger from within his heart. And it was different than when Malon and even Navi had done it. Saria more than relaxed him; she made him feel at ease, at peace with himself. She, alone, made him feel like a human being again.
There was no way of expressing how much she meant to him. He couldn’t imagine what would happen if he lost her…
“Link! What happened?” the Kokiri girl cried as she ran to his side. “Are you all right?”
Amazingly, the only thing Link could do was chuckle. “Yes, yes…I’m fine, thank you. Perfectly all right.”
“What did you just do?” she continued, flabbergasted. “Since when could you shoot fire like that?”
Link giggled again. “I…I guess that was something I left out of our little talk outside, wasn’t it?”
“It most certainly was! I mean…I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone perform magic before, not even the Great Deku Tree…”
“Not even the fairies can do something like that,” Katl interrupted. “First you grow up, and now you have the ability to light candles with your fingers. You are no ordinary Kokiri. Navi, how long has this been going on?”
The little pink fey immediately nipped out from under Link’s hat at the mention of her name. “How long has this been going on? Don’t ever ask me that question again. There are so many things wrong with this guy that I can’t figure out where everything went berserk.”
“Always a good friend, huh, Navi?” Link asked dryly. “By the way, thanks for the warnings. You’ve saved my life twice today.”
Navi’s glow seemed to blush. “Think nothing of it. I couldn’t just sit back and let you get eaten, now could I?”
Link snickered. “No, I guess you couldn’t.” Link then used the Master Sword to haul himself to his feet and then turned to face Saria. “Say, why don’t we go check out that room now that the door’s open?”
Saria blinked in surprise. “What…are you sure you don’t want to rest first? Your arm…”
“It’s fine,” Link assured, and he wasn’t lying; already he could feel no pain in his arm. “I feel ready to take on another two Wolfos, maybe three if need be.”
Saria eyed the Hero of Time hesitantly. “I don’t know…if you feel all right, then I guess we could go.”
“Great. Let me just get my shield.”
“The Wolfos have failed to destroy the girl.”
“They are both dead.”
“I can no longer hear their cries.”
“I believe I can smell their decay.”
“We must now do what our master has ordered us to do.”
“We must destroy her ourselves.”
“What if she proves to be more formidable than we believe?”
“That is possible, since she’s destroyed two Wolfos.”
“I cannot believe that.”
“We are more powerful than the Wolfos, that is why.”
“We are the Poe Sisters.”
“The sisters who betrayed their own homes to serve our master.”
“To serve our master even in death.”
“To serve him until he is lord of the entire world and beyond.”
“Let us wait for the girl to come here.”
“We shall kill her when she enters this very room.”
“I can hear her footsteps already.”
“There is…another with her…”
Thankfully Link and Saria had two guardian fairies with natural fairy light to guide them; else they would’ve tripped and fallen down the staircase into the gloomy darkness. Nevertheless, their progress down the staircase was slow and cautious; after the surprise attack by the two Wolfos, they weren’t taking any chances. Link had the Master Sword gripped firmly in his right hand, his shield hooked comfortably on his left arm, while Saria had an arrow locked into her bowstring.
Still, to make sure their trip down wasn’t completely solemn, the foursome started a conversation between themselves.
“By the way, Saria…I never did thank you for saving my life back there,” Link began.
“It was nothing, Link,” the Kokiri girl replied with a hint of modesty in her tone. “I’m just glad all of that archery practice wasn’t for naught, after all. But hey, I never thanked you for saving me back there, either. You sure know how to use that magical fire of yours…not to mention a sword. I never thought I’d see you skilled enough to wield a bladed weapon like that.”
“Oh, you have no idea what he can do,” Navi uttered. “I didn’t see him actually do it, but seven years ago when he was still your size he managed to slay two Lizalfos.”
“Lizalfos! Lizalfos?” Katl abruptly declared. “You fought Lizalfos? Those creatures are supposed to be extinct!”
“Weren’t Wolfos as well?” Link asked.
“Well, I…I guess you’re right about that,” Katl admitted, “but that’s beside the point.”
“And what’s the point?” Navi inquired.
“That…that…wait, let me think about this. I know there’s a point to this…”
“That creatures that are supposed to be long dead and gone are now alive?” Saria offered.
“Well, if you want to make it that easy, then sure,” Katl uttered.
“And we already know the reason why they’re alive,” Link stated.
“Ganondorf?” Saria asked.
“Ganondorf,” Link confirmed.
Saria frowned. “I never knew Ganondorf was that powerful. And this was before he swiped this ancient relic you call the Triforce?”
“That’s right,” Link replied as he recalled his first encounter with the evil Gerudo king and the painful consequences of it. “And all I have to do now is somehow get the Triforce back. Someone who can do what has happened to the Lost Woods certainly has no right to hold something that powerful.”
“I see. And you’ll undoubtedly be leaving us again after we’ve awakened the Sage inside this temple.”
Link clamped his teeth in frustration. He really didn’t like the idea of leaving his home again, but he was the Hero of Time, after all. Still, there was no reason why he had to remain the Hero of Time for the rest of his life. Maybe after this was all over…
“Let’s talk about that later,” Link uttered, “once this is finished. Any idea what may be down here?”
“Not a clue,” Saria admitted. “Still, it must be important. Why else was it sealed with those Wolfos guarding it?”
“How about we find out?”
It was about when Link said these words that he realized the tunnel was brighter than it had been before. He quickly recognized that another source of light other than the two fairies’ light was illuminating the corridor up ahead. They were reaching the bottom of the staircase.
“We’re nearing something,” Link uttered to Saria and the fays. “Get ready.”
“Already am,” Saria pointed out.
Nodding in acknowledgement, Link tightened his grip on his sword and quickened his pace somewhat so he could move ahead of Saria. The Kokiri girl didn’t seem to mind watching Link’s back; she did seem a tad bit nervous. With the two fairies guiding them, Link and Saria headed towards the light at the end of the staircase.
Not surprisingly, the source of the light turned out to be a set of ordinary torches planted on the four walls of the chamber at the end of the stairway. As the group entered the room, weapons readied, they scanned their new surroundings. Amazingly, the room seemed completely mundane compared to the rest of the palace. Built entirely out of plain brick without any kind of ornate decorations or adornments, nothing seemed to stand out in the room…
…no, wait, there was something. In each corner of the room was something very familiar. Saria was the first one to point it out.
“Hey…those look like the golden torches upstairs, the ones I can’t seem to light.”
“Are they, really?” Link inquired slyly. “Think they might have some kind of significance?”
“Probably. Maybe if I got a closer look…hey, Link do you think we can relax now?”
“What…oh, er…yes, sure. It looks safe.”
With that, Saria loosened up and took a deep breath before leaving Link’s side and heading to the closest corner of the room. Link stayed where he was, slowly making his way to the center of the room just in case there was anything wrong or fishy.
“So?” Link yelled out to his friend after a short while.
“Well, these certainly look like those torches upstairs,” Saria pointed out. “In fact, they’re near identical copies. And the smell indicates they were lit at one time. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say these things are in some way connected to the torches upstairs. Maybe if these were lit, then the other ones will…do something. Who knows?”
“Want me to try and light these things with my fire?” Link offered as he continued to look around at his bland surroundings.
“No, I don’t think that’ll do any good,” Saria admitted. “It wouldn’t be that easy. I have a feeling these things require a special method to light. But something’s strange about these torches.”
“The odor…it’s a little different. It smells…too fresh, as if it’s been lit recently. But this is where it gets odd: the smell isn’t coming from the torch.”
Link stopped looking around and turned to face Saria. “What do you mean?”
Saria turned her back on the torch to face Link. “Exactly what I said. The smell isn’t coming from the torch; it’s coming from somewhere else, and it’s not the regular torches in this room. How that’s possible, I don’t know.”
Link didn’t have any reply to that, so he simply stared at the confused Kokiri staring back at him. Therefore, he didn’t see the bony hand poke through the torch behind her and reach for Saria’s neck until it was too late.
“Saria! Behind you! Look out!”
Before Saria even had time to gasp, the pale black hand wrapped its gaunt fingers around her neck and squeezed tightly. In an instant, Saria reeled back in pain as she started to quiver violently. Her hands released her bow and arrow, allowing them to fall to the floor and a high-pitched scream followed not too soon afterwards. Her eyes bulged, her skin drained of color, and her body seemed to grow limp.
She was being shocked. So was Link, but as in being horrified.
“Saria!” Link cried as he made an attempt to move forward and save his friend.
But things were moving too fast for Link. Within moments of being grabbed, the owner of the bony hand emerged from the torch. The creature was no bigger than Saria, probably about the same size in every dimension. But the thing was definitely not human. Without any visible legs, the creature floated in the air, naturally and teasingly. It arms were tiny and cloaked in a disturbing shade of black. The rest of the body seemed to be clothed in a sinister tone of purple save for the face, which was the beast’s most frightening feature. Never before had Link seen such a twisted and deformed face that tried desperately to hide a human face behind it. A rotting mouth, a disfigured nose, and hollow eyes were all that it needed to strike fear into its adversaries.
A split second after it had materialized, the beast lifted itself into the air, taking Saria with it. The poor Kokiri continued to shake violently, but it was obvious she wasn’t struggling; the monster’s hold over her prevented her from even attempting to escape. As they climbed into the air and made their way to the center of the room, right where Link was standing in pure horror, Saria persisted in releasing consistent screams of terror, screams that cut right through Link’s ears.
“Saria!” Link screamed. “Saria! Let her go, you monster!”
The creature looked down at Link with its hollow eyes, but it then simply returned its attention to Saria and seemed to tighten its grip on her.
“Saria!” Link screamed again.
“My goodness, Saria!” cried Katl, who was fluttering fervently around his charge as the monster continued to suspend the Kokiri girl in the air while her convulsions and screams worsened.
“Link!” bellowed Navi from his shoulder. “Link, that’s a Poe! Be careful of it; it can drain your energy with a single touch…”
“I don’t give a bark about what that thing is!” Link interrupted heatedly. Then, as quickly as he could, Link put away his sword and shield, reached for the hookshot, removed it from his belt, and aimed it at ghost-like Poe. “You! Let go of Saria now!”
On the final word, Link fired the hookshot. The compressed hook fired with a loud bang in the air, dragging the chain behind it with a soft clang. His aim was perfect, with the hook finding its target. However, the Poe had somehow managed to move out of the way for the hook only to graze its left shoulder, the shoulder where Saria was being held. As the hookshot sailed past the Poe, the ghost screamed a cackling scream of pain before it did the unthinkable.
It let go of Saria.
For a few intense moments, Link could only watch as the Poe released its deadly grip on his friend and allowed her to plummet to the ground, limp and motionless. Then, without a second thought, Link threw away the hookshot and made a leap in the air for her. As if caught in a slow time frame, Link saw every split second pass him by as reached out to catch his falling friend. Had he cared, he would’ve noticed him jump higher than he had ever jumped in his life.
But he didn’t care, not when he could see Saria’s face. Eyes wide open with shock and mouth gaping without breath, Link could already feel the tears escape from his own eyes. But they were hardly tears of sadness; instead they were tears of pain. Of fear. Of anger. He wasn’t going to miss her, not when she needed him most.
The moment he touched her and hugged her lifeless body close to his chest, things sped up once more; the trip down was a lot faster than the trip up. He landed on the ground with a loud thud and was forced to roll forward to control his momentum. But the second he regained control over his balance he quickly turned his attention to the Kokiri in his arms.
Somehow, Saria’s eyes had closed and her lips were locked tightly together on the other edges. She was breathing, albeit dangerously lightly, and a quick check of her wrist yielded only a weak pulse. Whatever the Poe had done to her, it had sure done its damage.
“Saria!” Link whispered loudly to his friend. “Saria, wake up, please. I know you’re okay. Please, tell me you’re okay. Please, Saria, please. Saria, wake up. Wake up, please. Saria!”
During his begging, Link jolted and jerked the Kokiri girl in his arms in hopes it would do something useful. Amazingly, it did. One of the more powerful jolts released a soft yet audible groan from Saria’s lips. Encouraged, Link tried stroking Saria’s face to entice the girl to wake up. Remarkably, that worked as well.
The Kokiri groaned slightly and fluttered her eyelids before she strained to open her eyes a little. She looked around with a small frown on her face for a moment before her gaze found Link, who was smiling and practically crying with glee.
Somehow, Saria managed a weak but noticeable smile. “Link…”
“Saria,” Link cried. “You’re all right…”
“Link, I…” the girl interrupted before she did something unexpected. Using what little strength she had left, she reached with her right hand and stroked Link’s forehead, moving some of his blond locks out of his eyes. “I…I’m sorry I messed up. I’m just…I’m just a dead weight to you. Forgive me…forgive me for getting in the way…”
“Saria, don’t say things like that,” Link pleaded. “You’re not a dead weight. You’re my friend. And if anyone messed up, it’s me. I should’ve been there to protect you.”
Saria nearly seemed to cry herself. “Oh, Link…”
“Hey, you two!” Navi’s squealing voice bellowed. “Can we finish this another time? We’ve got more than one Poe, and it doesn’t look like they want ocarina lessons!”
“Link…” Saria continued without skipping a beat. “Make them pay. Get them for me. You can do it. I know you can. I’ll just…take a snooze…”
With that, Saria closed her eyes and went limp again.
Link, trying his best to suppress his tears, gently placed Saria on the stone floor on her back. He could feel the anger surge to his heart, trying to overcome his instincts again and turn him into a raging killing machine. But Saria’s words made sure they never reached his heart; he was going to kill the Poes, all right, but this time he would do it his way.
After making sure Saria was comfortable, Link stood up and quickly drew his sword and shield before taking a gander at the situation.
Navi was right: there was more than one Poe. There were four, to be exact. The purple one, the one Link had grazed with the hookshot, was back in the corner it had grabbed Saria, looking really angry. The other three Poes amazingly, positioned at the remaining corners of the room, were very similar, and yet very different. All of them looked hideously disfigured in the facial areas, but somehow they all managed to possess certain characteristics that made them unique. One wore a gaudy headdress; one had stringy hair bunched up into a slipknot…things like that. Even their eyes seemed different, expressing different forms of emotion despite the hollow sentiments they carried. And it also helped that each of them were different colors. There was the purple one, and the others were red, green, and blue.
And there one other thing that Link was only noticing now. Each Poe was carrying a torch in its right hand, with a flame glowing brightly. Oddly enough, each Poe’s respective flame glowed that Poe’s respective color…
“That warrior wounded me!” the purple Poe screamed.
“Are you in pain?” asked the red one.
“That wound doesn’t look too serious,” the green one commented.
“Let us kill the one who injured our sister!” demanded the blue one.
Link glared at them intensely before uttering, “Navi, Katl, what can you tell me about Poes? Strengths? Weaknesses? What?”
“Well,” stuttered his own fey, “Poes are spirits bound to the physical world for eternity, either because they never received a peaceful death or because they chose to remain on this worldly plain. Touching a Poe is dangerous, as they will drain your energy to feed themselves. No one knows how many Poes there are in the world today, but…”
“Oh, for goodness sake, Navi, you’re giving him almost useless information!” Katl interrupted. “Link, Poes can materialize and dematerialize at will, so your weaponry won’t be able to hit them if they don’t allow it. However, if they’re forced to interact with the physical world, like striking down they’re opponents, they can be harmed. Be careful.”
“Thanks…” Link began when he was interrupted by the Poes again.
“Look, he has two fairies with him,” pointed out the purple Poe.
“They are telling him how he might defeat us,” added the red one.
“Their advice won’t do him any good,” laughed the green one.
“We will destroy him without any effort at all,” bragged the blue one.
Getting a little peeved with the Poes’ odd way of speaking, Link tightened his grip on his sword and cried out, “Who in the name of the Three Goddesses are you?”
“We are the Poe Sisters.”
“We serve our master, Lord Ganondorf.”
“We protect the keys to his chamber below us.”
“We will serve him until we are no longer bound to this world.”
Link raised an eyebrow. “The Poe Sisters? Boy, you really are original, aren’t you? But that’s beside the point. I’m guessing those keys of yours are to that wooden panel back up in the main chamber. I don’t suppose you’ll just give them up to me nicely, will you?”
“We will not give you our keys.”
“Our master ordered us to protect them until death.”
“We cannot give them to you anyway.”
“We are spiritually bound to the keys.”
“The keys are the flames we carry for eternity in our hands.”
“Our spirits glow with their flames.”
“We will only be unbound to them in death.”
“To remove our keys, you will need to destroy our spirits bound to them.”
“Quite a chatty bunch, aren’t they?” Link thought.
“Now, give us the girl who lies at your feet.”
“She must be destroyed as declared by our master.”
“Once she is dead, we will destroy you as well.”
“You will die with your friend at our hands.”
That got Link’s attention. “You’ll have her over my dead body. I dare you to try anything otherwise.”
“If that is your wish, then we will kill you first.”
“We have no preference with who must be killed first.”
“We will enjoy watching you die, as well as your friend.”
“We will even take the time to dispose of your fairy companions.”
Link batted his eye cockily; the way the Poe Sisters talked may be starting to annoy him, but he wasn’t going to let that distract him. He smiled wryly. “Well, as I said just now, if you’re going to kill my friends, you’ll have to get through me first. So seeing as this little debate is going to be solved through a battle, why don’t you make the first move?”
Link hadn’t anticipated the Poe Sisters speaking together in unison like that; what he hadn’t expected even more was what one of sisters – the red one, to be exact – did next. The Poe Sister held out its free hand and released a red-hot stream of fire in his direction.
Caught off guard by the sudden attack that mimicked his own Din’s Fire, Link quickly rolled to the side, barely dodging the fiery blast. But he didn’t have time to recover when just as he stood back up he saw a second blast of fire heading in his direction, this time with the flames tinted a brilliant blue. He evaded the second attack through a quick jump to his right.
“You cannot escape us,” warned the red Poe.
A second later, the green sister released her own green-hued fire. Link, unable to evade this time, raised his shield. The Hylian defensive object managed to hold off the attack, but the force of the blast was strong enough to knock him back, almost causing him to lose his balance.
“You will die by the fires bound to our very souls,” declared the blue sister.
Without waiting for the green sister to even finish her attack, the wounded purple Poe fired her own attack. Luckily, Link managed to see the attack in time and twist his shield around in time to block it, but this attack was exactly the thing needed to throw Link off balance.
“We will burn you to your very bones,” boomed the green Poe Sister.
The only thing Link could hear in his mind as he fell to the ground was himself screaming to get back up as quickly as he could. When he landed, he quickly tried to do just that. Fortunately for him he succeeded, because as he stood back up he saw the Poe Sisters readying themselves for another attack.
“There will be nothing left of your remains,” cackled the purple Poe.
A moment later, all four Poes released their fire blasts in Link’s direction. Thankfully, Link had room to dodge very easily by simply running to one side. As the colored flames crossed each other where Link had stood only seconds before, they burned white hot, licking each other intensely until the sisters ceased discharging their attacks.
Link quickly scrambled to the farthest side of the chamber. He didn’t like the idea of leaving Saria alone in the middle of the room, but the Poe Sisters were obviously bent on killing him first so she was safe for the moment. When he reached the wall, he turned around to face the sisters yet again. To his frustration, he saw the sisters heading for each other to the other side of the room, at the same time turning to face the Hero of Time, side by side.
They were heading into a formation of some kind, most likely to finish Link off as quickly as possible.
“Curse you!” Link whispered angrily under his breath. “Well, you may have some surprises up your sleeves, but I have a few of my own.”
A plan quickly formulated in his mind, and when it was finished a split second later he realized he had to act now. He raised the Master Sword into the air, positioned his shield, and charged.
“Here I come, you witches!”
The Poe Sisters seemed a little surprised at Link’s rush, but they hardly flinched from their positions. In complete unison and without a single word, the sisters raised their bony hands outward and simultaneously released intense streams of flame in Link’s direction, the multi-colored onslaught flickering wildly in the air.
It was exactly what Link had guessed. He knew his shield wouldn’t be enough to hold off against this kind of attack, but there was another shield to do the job.
“I just hope you’re strong enough against this…Nayru’s Love!”
At the cry of “Nayru’s Love,” Link outstretched his arms and summoned the magic spell he had summoned only seven years ago. The invisible shield that had saved him from the Barinade’s electrical attacks surged through his body like Din’s Fire had only moments ago, materializing before him into a wall of safety…
…or at least he hoped. The memory of Nayru’s Love failing against Ganondorf’s magical attack was still fresh in his mind. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a repeat performance of that accident now…
Like a well-needed breath of air after swimming underwater for several hours, a sigh of relief escaped Link’s lips. Nayru’s Love was holding fast. He could see the colored tongues of fire strike the invisible wall before him, trying to burn him to a crisp yet failing miserably. The Poe Sisters’ attacks were being held back by his own magic, and that was all he needed.
Because just as Katl had said, the sisters were vulnerable when forced to interact with the physical world. And if burning him to ashes wasn’t interacting with the physical world, then what was?
“Here I come, Poes!” Link laughed in his mind. “Here I come to slice you in two!”
The force of the fire against Nayru’s Love did slow his progress down somewhat, but surprisingly the magical shield took a great deal of the brunt away. He was almost there, ready to let the Poe Sisters taste the Master Sword’s steel. He could almost see them, almost see the surprise in their eyes when they realize their fire attacks weren’t even harming him.
Vengeance against what they did to Saria was going to be sweet…
There they were!
He could see them, their hands still outstretched, still shooting their tongues of flame in vain. They didn’t even seem to realize what was going on; they didn’t seem to realize Link was heading straight for them. All the better for him, he guessed. Now the only thing he had to do now was kill them. They were so close together; one good swipe would kill them all. That was all he needed. One good hit…
“Here we go!”
Moments before he reached the Poe Sisters, Link leapt into the air to escape the fiery tomb of the sisters’ attack. A second later, he lowered Nayru’s Love and raised the Master Sword into the air yet again. He was in a trajectory course heading straight for the sisters, who were still occupied with keeping their colored flames attack alive. Were they really that stupid?
Link didn’t want to find out; he just wanted to take advantage of this situation.
One good hit…
An instant after screaming out his declaration, Link swung the Master Sword as hard as he could. His aim couldn’t have been better. Like a steel wind, the sword sliced through the bellies of the Poe Sisters silently yet effectively. The sheen of the blade seemed to flash in the Poes’ flame light as it made a perfect arc through their bodies, and Time seemed to stand still for but a single instant, as if to relish in this glorious moment.
Link heard no sound as the sword collided with their rotting ghostly flesh, but he didn’t care. He had killed the Poe Sisters with one stroke; he had killed the ones who had nearly killed his friend.
As he landed on the ground and erected himself straight, he awaited the sisters to scream in agony at their demise…
When Link heard the sisters chant in unison once more, he realized in horror that the sisters were far from dead. And that realization became a frightful reality when the closest of the sisters, the purple Poe, reached out with its free skeletal hand and grabbed Link’s neck, gripping it tightly and firmly.
Instantaneously, Link felt his muscles grow numb as some unexplainable force surged through his body, tickling his nervous system and freezing on the spot. It was exactly what had happened to Saria, but seeing it and experiencing it were two completely different things. The sensation of not being able to move had never before been this bad; he couldn’t even move his eyes. If he hadn’t known better, it was the most uncomfortable position he had ever been in.
Of course, the Poe sisters had to begin their take-turns chanting.
“Your steel cannot touch us when we do not interact with the physical world,” the purple Poe pointed out coldly.
“The fires bound to our souls are not of this world,” the green Poe snickered.
“Using our fires against you did not force us to enter the plane of reality, so we were safe from your attacks,” the blue Poe cackled.
“Now you will die by being drained of all your life force at the hands of our sister,” the red Poe mocked.
With those last words, the purple Poe Sister tightened its grip around Link’s neck.
Link could already feel his energy being drained. Slowly but surely, he was growing weaker and weaker; he eventually grew too weak to even hold the Master Sword and his shield. He was going to end up just like Saria…only worse. As much as he didn’t want to believe it, he was forced to believe it when he started experiencing the convulsions.
Link, the proclaimed Hero of Time, the savior of Hyrule, was dying…