Link had lost his voice; he couldn’t utter a single word. He just couldn’t believe it, either because it was too amazing to believe or he simply refused to believe it. Saria was the Sage of the Forest? How could that be?
“It…it doesn’t make sense…it just doesn’t make any sense at all…”
—If you’ll let me explain, Link, I can make sense out of it—
Saria’s voice…inside his head again…oh, gods, this was really starting to wear him down. Link needed to sit down…and he did. Actually, he collapsed, landing on his behind with a loud thump. He didn’t even attempt to cushion his fall; he was just too shocked to do anything but keep his gaze fixed on Saria.
Speaking of Saria, when she saw how Link reacted to her voice inside his head, she lowered her head a little; she looked like she was about to shed a tear.
“Link…I know this is hard for you,” she said in the gentlest way she could, “but it’s hard for me as well. Please…give me the chance to explain this, and I’m sure everything can be worked out. Please, Link, that’s all I ask. Just a chance to explain. Please?”
Link still didn’t know what to think, but when he noticed that Saria was close to crying he decided to give her a chance to explain what was going on. Using all of his willpower, Link managed to nod, the only way he could tell her he was ready to listen. Saria smiled when she saw Link’s acknowledgement, although she did shed a lone tear that rolled down her cheek.
“Thank you, Link. Thank you.” Saria then took a moment to find her composure before she straightened herself out and continued. “Remember when I told that upon entering this temple, I felt a kind of bond with it? A special bond that I couldn’t explain? Well, that bond was a result me being the Sage of the Forest. I didn’t know it at the time, but my soul held the spirit of the slumbering Forest Sage, and it was that spirit that kept me here for two years.
“And yet…I never awoke as the Forest Sage, thanks to Ganondorf’s sealing of the power with his dark magic. Even so, the Forest Sage kept calling out to me, wanting me to help it awaken. But since I did not have my ocarina, the spirit couldn’t somehow ‘tell’ me that I needed to play a certain song to open a door that housed the torch keys. For two years that spirit dwelled inside of me, unable to do anything but keeping me here for that period of time.”
“Then you arrived.”
By now, Link had managed to calm himself down and was listening to Saria’s tale patiently and eagerly. Saria seemed to notice Link’s easiness and smiled weakly before continuing.
“Thanks to you, you managed to open the door that led to the torch keys of the elevator…as well as where the Poe Sisters were hiding. It was during that fight that I was nearly killed when one of the Poe Sisters drained my energy…but it was during that fight that the spirit of the Forest Sage started to awaken within me.
“The Forest Sage spirit could not awaken fully yet, but it managed to use my hidden powers to speak to you. Remember when I talked to you when you were at the mercy of the Poe Sisters? That was the Forest Sage spirit speaking through my consciousness to reach you. Amazingly, it knew a lot about what you possessed, such as the energy of the Light Temple and how to awaken it. But even more amazingly…it used my ability of song to talk to you.
“Remember how we used to talk to each other using the ocarinas and my personal song? That apparently was a power inherited by the Forest Sage, a power I thought was merely a gift of the Great Deku Tree. The Forest Sage spirit used that power to speak to you, although I couldn’t remember a thing afterwards because it had not yet fully awakened.
“However, as we got closer and closer to the source that prevented the Forest Sage from awakening – namely Phantom Ganon – the Forest Sage spirit grew more powerful and powerful and was able to use me to speak to you more easily. But even so, it wasn’t until you managed to slay Phantom Ganon that the seal on power of the Forest Temple was broken and the Forest Sage spirit finally awoke. Now I have been reborn as the Sage of the Forest…with the purpose of aiding you, the Hero of Time, in destroying the source of evil in Hyrule: Ganondorf. Because I have awoken, the power of the temple has brought you here so you may be given what is needed on the long journey ahead of you.”
Saria suddenly lowered her head, as if she were about to say something she didn’t want to say. She appeared on the verge of tears, but she continued anyway.
“And now that I’m the Sage of the Forest Temple, I’m afraid to tell you…that you and I can never be together again.”
When Link heard Saria say those words, Link felt his heart leap into his throat and then sink farther than it had ever sunk before.
“S…S…Saria…what are you saying…?” he stammered, his eyes wide with shock. “You…you can’t really mean that…”
“Please, Link, don’t make this harder than it already is,” Saria gently interrupted as she allowed the first set of tears to trickle down from her eyes. “It’s hard enough to know that I’ll never be able to return to the forest again because I am now the Sage of the Forest. And it’s even harder for me to tell you this when I love you so much.”
Link didn’t know if his heart broke or not when she said that, but he did know he was feeling uncomfortable hearing them. But as much as he wanted her to stop speaking and let things be, he realized she had to say this because…because…he might never see her again? Was that even possible…?
“I…I’ve loved you almost since the day I met you, Link,” Saria persisted, her voice starting to choke on the tears “We’ve been friends for the longest time, but you’ve been much more to me for almost just as long. I never had the courage to tell you how I felt about you because I didn’t want to risk losing you…and now…here I am telling you how I feel just before I’m about to lose you forever.”
Link somehow found the courage to push himself to his knees. “Saria…you don’t know what you’re saying! How can you lose me forever? How…?”
“Because we’re from two different worlds, Link. You are the Hero of Time, while I am one of the six Sages. You have somehow grown up to be a man, while I have remained with the body of a child. Time and destiny have separated us forever. There is nothing we can do to change our fates. Even so…I love you with all my heart, Link. Neither Time nor destiny will ever change that.”
Saria, whose face was now growing dirty with tears, then stepped forward. Link nearly cried out to her because she was walking into the pond of flowing blue light…but miraculously, Saria didn’t sink into the water. She walked on the blue light as if it were solid ground. Link, who had been astonished too many times in a short period of time, simply watched as Saria walked across the pond onto his island.
She then paused…
…broke down into a heartfelt sob…
…and broke into a run straight for Link.
She collided with the Hero of Time against his chest and started crying her eyes out, unable to speak or even look at Link in the face. Link, unable to hold in his own grief either, wrapped his enormous arms around Saria, held her as closely to his heart as possible, and started to cry himself. He remembered the last time he had held her like this: when they had reunited after not seeing each other for seven years.
Who would’ve thought they’d be in the same position when they were saying goodbye forever?
“Saria…” Link started after a short period of crying.
“Y…yes, Link?” Saria stuttered.
“I…I’ve always loved you, too. Not just as a friend, but…but…by the Three Goddesses, I can’t even say it right…”
“You don’t have to, Link. I…I completely…completely…understand.”
Without another word, Saria withdrew her face from against Link’s chest, extended her face upward…and planted a small kiss on Link’s right cheek.
It wasn’t Link’s first kiss – that honor belonged to the farm girl Malon – but it was most certainly the first kiss Link had ever received from Saria, the most important person in his life. As he felt her small, moist lips caress his facial skin with their delicate touch, one thought echoed in his mind:
Of all the possible times…why now? Why?
He had never lost his faith or his feelings for her. From the moment he had left the Kokiri Forest seven years ago to this very day, he never once forgot about how he felt about her. Even when Princess Zelda surprised him with her rather intimate gestures, he never lost faith in her. Even Malon’s behavior never pushed his feelings for her out of his mind. The seven year long dream he had experienced still echoed what he had wanted all his life.
He loved Saria…he had always loved her!
And this was how fate was repaying him.
“Curse you, destiny!” Link bellowed in his mind. “Curse you for all eternity! Is this what the Great Deku Tree meant? Is this the path of destiny Rauru said I was to walk? Is this the destiny I was meant to have? I don’t want it! I don’t want any part of it!”
As if by instinct, Link realized Saria was about to pull herself away from him, so he quickly used his left hand to dry his tears. If this was indeed going to be the last he ever saw her, he didn’t want her last image of him to be with a crying face. Besides, he might be Link, but he was also the Hero of Time. The least he could do was act the part.
Just as he predicted, Saria pulled herself away from Link’s chest and looked into his face. Her cheeks were stained with tears, but she was trying hard to smile. They stared at each other for a brief moment before Saria took a couple of steps back, out of Link’s arms. The Hero of Time made no attempt to stop her; he simply watched and waited for whatever she was going to do.
“Fate may have separated us into two different worlds,” Saria uttered, her hands shaking with restrain, “but fate has allowed me to help you as well. By slaying the one who sealed the power of the Forest Sage within this temple, you have not only awoken me but you have also destroyed Ganondorf’s hold on this forest. Even as we speak, Ganondorf’s foot soldiers outside are fleeing the Lost Woods; they have sensed Phantom Ganon’s destruction and thus run like cowards back to their true master. And the evil aura of death and decay that has surrounded the Lost Woods for seven long years is finally lifted; soon these woods will regain the beauty they once possessed. For this, you not only have my thanks but the thanks of the Kokiri and all of the fairy folk, as well as every living creature of the forest.
“Even now the spirit of the forest is returning, and the power of the temple is growing stronger and stronger. And now that you have awoken me as the Forest Sage, I can give you that power, just as Rauru gave you the power of the Temple of Light. Link, will you accept this power from me?”
Despite the somber mood, Link couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “There’s no need to be melodramatic about it, Saria. Of course I’ll accept it.”
“Very well,” Saria smiled. “However, there’s one other thing I wish to give you first. Hold out both your hands.”
Link did as Saria asked, holding out both his hands with their palms up. Saria then held out her own hands and placed one in each of Link’s palms. She then closed her eyes before muttering something inaudible under her breath. A split second later, Saria’s hands started glowing a faint white. Link was surprised but he didn’t flinch in the least. As he watched, the light under Saria’s hands radiated from her palms for a moment before they started to grow outward in both directions parallel to her body. The arm of light in between her two hands joined together, and the two other arms stretched outward for about an arm’s length before stopping.
Then, with a silent pop, the light gently burst, blinding Link’s eyesight for but a moment. When he could see again, he realized his hands were holding something. He looked down and saw he was now holding a longbow. But it wasn’t just any longbow. It was Saria’s longbow; the craftsmanship and markings was unmistakable. However, he couldn’t help notice that this bow was longer than the one he had used to slay Phantom Ganon’s horse.
“Is this…?” Link started before Saria interrupted him.
“Yes, this is my bow. I don’t need it anymore, and I figured you could really use it on your quest. However, I decided to use my magic to reshape it for your larger hands, but it should feel exactly like the smaller one you used earlier. And all that knowledge on how to use it I bestowed upon you earlier should still be with you.”
“And the arrows?”
“Look behind you.”
Link reflexively reached behind his back with his left hand and immediately felt a quiver hanging on his left shoulder.
“That quiver has thirty of my best arrows, also elongated to fit your body size,” Saria continued. “They should more than suffice for your quest.”
Link nodded gently before glancing at the bow one more time and slinging it over his left shoulder. “Thanks, Saria, I…”
“Don’t thank me yet, there’s still one more thing I need to give you. Look up.”
A moment later, Saria raised her arms into the air, and Link heard a familiar whistling sound above his head. He looked up and, like before in the Temple of Light, saw a sphere of white light descend towards him. Without hesitating, Link stood up so he could reach out and grab it in his hands. The moment his hand touched it, the light disappeared without a sound, leaving the recognizable shape of the enormous medallion Rauru had first given to him. This time, however, the medallion was colored green instead of yellow, and Link was sure the symbol was also different.
Link knelt down again, keeping his gaze fixed on the object’s glossy surface that sparkled in the radiance of the flowing blue light all around him.
“Okay,” he thought, “now I just have to absorb this thing…”
Without warning, the medallion started the absorption process, the trinket’s power surging down his arms in the blink of an eye. Link thought the first time he had gone through this would’ve prepared him for the next one; he was wrong. The experience was just as exhausting as the first time, if not more. Was it because the Forest Temple had more power than the Light Temple? Link didn’t know…or really care, for the instant the medallion finished bestowing him its power Link dropped to his hands and knees, hanging his head in collapse. He panted heavily, as if he had just run from Hyrule Castle New Town to the Lost Woods without stopping. The sweat trickling down his face was so thick it nearly blinded his eyes. He could feel every muscle grow stiff and rigid, refusing to budge at all.
For one brief moment, he felt completely paralyzed.
Then he heard Saria’s voice.
“You now have the power and the strength of the Forest Temple. Use it well, Hero of Time.”
The stiffness in his muscles started to loosen, so Link lifted his head to face the Kokiri. To his surprise, she was back on her green island, staring at him silently and sadly.
“Stand up, Hero of Time.” Link did so, even though he knew not where he got the strength. “It is time for you to return to your quest,” Saria continued. “The Chamber of Sages will return you to Kokiri Village, where you have one more person to meet before you leave.”
“No wait!” Link cried out. “Saria, do I have to leave now? I’ll never see you again…”
“Do you still have my ocarina?”
Link’s memory jolted with the image of Saria’s last gift to him before he left home seven years ago. “Yes, I do,” he replied, patting the pouch to his side where he kept not only Saria’s ocarina but the Ocarina of Time as well. “It’s right here…”
“Keep that ocarina close to you, and I will always be with you. Play it, and you will hear my voice in your heart.”
Saria then lowered her eyes a little. “Thank you…for so many wonderful memories. I’ll never forget you, Link…never.”
With those words, Saria raised her hands to her mouth. It didn’t take Link long to realize that she was holding an ocarina in her hand. Before her lips covered the mouthpiece, Saria uttered one more word:
She then started to play her ocarina. Link instantly recognized the song: it was Saria’s Song, only she was playing it slower than usual. Actually, “slow” wasn’t the right word to use; “heartbreaking” was a better description. A song once filled with limitless joy and rapture was now singing a melody of pain and sadness. But why…?
—Never forget this song, Link. Promise me you’ll never forget this song so you will always be reminded of me. Promise me—
Saria was speaking inside his head again. Link quickly understood; she was giving him her a personal request in the most personal way she could think of. Link smiled as he wiped away a nonexistent tear from his eye.
“I promise, Saria. I’ll never forget your song. And…and I’ll never forget you. Thank you for everything, and…”
Suddenly, the Chamber of Sages started to grow white. Link already knew what this meant: he was being removed from the room.
“No, wait! There’s a lot more I need to tell you…”
—There’s no need…I already know. Farewell, Hero of Time…I love you, Link—
“Saria, wai…” Link started when he realized that she was right; she did already know. There was no point in saying anything else. There was only one thing he could do now, and that was say goodbye properly. He knew he would kick himself if he didn’t do that now…
“Goodbye, Saria…and I love you, too…”
With those words, Link got one final look at the girl he had loved all his life. Saria gave Link one more smile before she disappeared under a blanket of white light…
Link had no idea when the ground underneath his feet disappeared, but when he thought about it he realized the ground beneath him felt different. Instead of hard and firm, it felt soft and spongy, which immediately ruled out the Forest Temple. Saria did say the Chamber of Sages would return him to the Kokiri Village, so the ground must be soggy grass…
Wait a minute. Wasn’t the grass dead when he arrived back in the village? Wasn’t it dry and desiccated? Grass doesn’t recover that quickly. Did that mean he was in a place other than the village? If only this white light would dim itself down faster…
The first thing Link saw when he could finally make out his surroundings was a rocky crag a little to his left. The next thing he noticed was the meadow-like grass at the foot of that crag, running away from rock face’s base. Link looked around, and he saw a familiar passageway carved in the face of the crag a little ways away. It was smaller than he remembered it, but it was certainly the same one he had used when…when…
“Did Saria really send me here…?”
Link turned around…and came face to face with the fossilized shell of the Great Deku Tree.
Link couldn’t believe it: the remains of the Deku Tree hadn’t changed in the least. The wintry textures that covered its once beautiful bark were as gray as ever, and it still seemed to have as many leaves hanging from its high branches as it did when Link first stood before the deity. It was an eerie experience to stand before him, seven years after he had killed Gohma from within his mighty roots; Link wondered if he was still alive in some way, still watching over Link…?
“If you’re still alive,” Link thought as he strode slowly towards the giant tree, “I wonder what you would’ve thought of me now? I found the princess of destiny, but…is this really the path of destiny you wanted me to walk? Is this really what you expected…you wanted to happen to me? Is it?”
Link stopped within throwing distance of the Deku Tree. “Please, if you can, tell me that this is not what you wanted. Tell me that somehow, someway, this is not what my fate is. Tell me that once this is over, I’ll be able to come back to this forest and be with Saria again. Please, Great Deku Tree…if you can hear me…”
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Link’s thoughts were interrupted by Navi, who fluttered in front of his face a moment after she interjected. Link sighed. “Nothing, Navi. Just…thinking.”
Link rolled his eyes. “Guess!” he bellowed at the fairy. He then realized what he had said, shook his head and added, “Sorry, Navi, I…I’m just trying to let all of this sink in.”
Navi paused for a moment. “I…I’m sorry, Link. I knew Saria was important to you, but I never knew the feelings between you two were that strong. And now she’s…well, you know…”
“Hey, you guys!”
Link and Navi looked up to see a familiar light flutter in their direction. Link stepped back to allow Katl to fly between his face and Navi. Saria’s fey turned to look at both the Hero of Time and the pink fairy before continuing.
“Tell me something…what’s going on here? What’s this about Saria not coming back?”
Link blinked in surprise. “You mean…you were there with us?”
“With you?” Katl replied. “No, I wasn’t with you in that bizarre chamber, if that’s what you mean. But I was there. One minute I was watching over Saria as you cut through that ugly ghost, the next minute she and everything disappears under some strange white light. I don’t know how long I remained in that light, but then it suddenly disappeared and I found myself in a room that was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life…”
“And Saria was there?” Navi interrupted politely.
“Yes, she was right there and standing up, as if nothing had happened to her. I flew up to her and tried asking her what was going on, but she stopped me and started talking about how she was the Sage of the Forest Temple and how she had to help you, the Hero of Time with her mystical powers or something like that. She also said thank you for me being a great fairy all her life and that this was goodbye…what is this, some kind of joke? I couldn’t believe it when she finished explaining, and I still don’t believe it after she sent me back to this meadow. What’s going on?”
Link glanced at Navi. “Should we…tell him?”
“Is there any harm in doing so?” Navi inquired.
Link shook his head gently. “I guess not.” He then turned to Katl. “Listen, Katl, I know what I’m going to say might sound crazy, but it’s the truth. I…”
“Wait. Let me hear your story as well.”
Link and the two fairies turned around to face the owner of the new voice. To Link’s surprise, it was Mido, standing at the mouth of the snake passage with his hands behind his back.
“Mido…what are you doing here?” Link asked.
“I was just taking a walk down the village road when I saw a bright white light shine from behind the rocky hill that surrounds the Great Deku Tree. I ran here as fast as I could and found you three here, talking about Saria. So now I want to know what’s going on.”
Link twisted his mouth in uncertainty. “I, uh…I don’t know if I can, Mido. You see, I…”
“Please, Link, just tell me what’s going on,” Mido pleaded.
“Mido, you must…” Link stopped. Did he just hear what he thought he heard? “Wait a minute…what did you just call me?”
Mido scratched the back of his head before answering, “Link. I called you Link. That’s your name, isn’t it? You are Link, the one who disappeared from this village seven years ago, aren’t you?”
Link couldn’t believe it: Mido knew who he was. Did he overhear his conversation with Navi and Katl…no, his name hadn’t been mentioned at all. Did that mean…?
“How…how did you know it was me?”
Mido smiled faintly. “I had my suspicions after you said you were ‘a friend of Link’s.’ It sounded too convenient, too…abrupt. And the way you talked, the way you moved, the way your face lit up when Saria’s name was mentioned…it all simply fit Link’s personality. Of course, I couldn’t just straight out ask you, so when I was alone with your friend Sheik I slipped out your name. He was surprised I knew who you were; I was surprised I was right.”
At first Link didn’t know what to say, but he decided to say something anyway. “So…I guess you’re wondering why I didn’t tell you straight away who I was.”
“That…and what’s exactly is going on here,” Mido uttered quiet seriously. “I know you’re Link and that you once lived amongst the Kokiri, but that’s about all I know. I don’t know what you’re doing, why you needed to go to the temple, and what has happened to Saria. What’s going on, Link? What’s happening? I need to know. Please.”
Link hesitated. Should he really tell Mido what had happened to him ever since he left the Kokiri village seven years ago? It might not be a good idea to reveal anything to someone not too involved in the fight against Ganondorf. But then again, Mido was obviously very worried…not only about Saria, but surprisingly also about Link. Even though many of Link’s memories about Mido were quite painful, Mido had certainly changed…
Link sighed. “All right, all right. You might not believe what I’m going to say, but…”
Link made sure his little talk was as brief as possible; Mido and Katl didn’t need to hear every little detail about his adventures. He made sure to mention Princess Zelda, his quest for the Spiritual Stones, and his imprisonment in the Temple of Time for seven years, and how he must now find and awaken five Sages in order to fight the evil Ganondorf, who has also killed the Great Deku Tree. When his talk reached the Forest Temple, his discussion got a little more detailed as he went over the more important points of Saria’s revelation: how she was the Forest Sage, how she couldn’t return to the forest because she was the Sage, and anything else important.
He made sure to leave out how much she loved Link; it was hard enough for Mido as it was. But he did include the reason why he didn’t reveal his identity at first.
When he was finished, a silence fell over the meadow before Katl spoke up. “So…I guess I now know what she meant back there. You know…in all likelihood I should be crying right now. But…but I feel so…so…happy for her. Saria was a very loving girl; she loved the forest almost more than anything else. And now…she has the chance to protect that which she loves so dearly. I’ll surely miss her…in fact I wish I could be with her now…but I suppose this is all for the best. Maybe I’ll see her again one day…I hope.”
“Me too,” Link thought sadly.
A gentle sniff turned Link’s attention to Mido, who was wiping a tear away from his eye. “I just wish I could’ve said goodbye…and I’m sure all the other Kokiri will be sad when I tell them this.”
“Mido…” Link started but Mido held up a hand to stop him.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell them anything you don’t want me to. I’ll simply tell them that Saria won’t be coming back, all right?”
Link smiled. He couldn’t believe Mido had “grown” to be this…likable. If Mido had been like this seven years ago, he and Link more than likely could’ve been friends…
“So, Link…what are you going to do now?” Mido continued.
Link paused. He didn’t know. Saria had said he had to meet one other person in this forest before he left. Was it Mido? Katl? Or was it someone else? Someone he didn’t even know? He wished she had told him, then he could find him or her quickly and…
“Link!” Navi suddenly cried. “I just remembered something. Isn’t there something you need to do now?”
Link looked up at the fay. “Do now? What do you mean?”
“Remember what you did with Sheik before he left? Remember?”
“What I did with Sheik…?”
“But…but if you had no intention of going in with me, then why did you just follow me all the way to this point? Mind explaining that?”
“I have a reason,” Sheik replied as he fiddled his fingers with one another, “and that reason is because there is one thing you must do before you enter the temple.”
“Oh, really?” Link asked almost cynically. “And what might that be?”
“This,” Sheik answered moments before removing something from behind his back. It was a harp, shaped like a cursively drawn U with a metal pole stretched between the two ends. The instrument was fitted with six strings, which meant it was either very simple or the musician was a master of his craft.
“You need to learn a song.”
Link wondered why Sheik suddenly wanted to play music at a time like this and asked the Sheikah. Sheik seemed to smile under his collar. “The Ocarina of Time has powers beyond opening the seal of the Sacred Realm. It can also heal when the right song is played. Once you have unsealed the power of the Forest Temple and awoken the Forest Sage, you need to play a song to allow the temple’s power to heal the land around it. Each temple’s power responds to a different melody. I’ll teach you all of these melodies in due time; right now I need to teach you the one for the Forest Temple.”
Link blinked, intrigued. “Okay, so what’s this song called?”
“The Minuet of Forest.”
“And where do I play this Minuet of Forest?”
“Anywhere within the forest will do. Just get out the Ocarina of Time so you can learn it.”
“It’s not difficult, is it?”
“Oh, it should be no trouble at all for someone like you.”
Link blinked again, this time in surprise. “For someone like…what do you mean by that?”
Sheik seemed to blush under his enormous collar. “Ne…never mind.”
Link remembered. The Minuet of Forest had been quite easy to learn; it only took him one try to memorize it and keep it stored in memory alongside his growing collection of songs. It was a very simple song, actually, consisting only of a few measures, straightforward notes, and an uncomplicated melody. It wasn’t fast or slow but evenly paced, somewhere between the pace of Saria’s Song and the Song of Time. Link was sure the song was originally a duet between the harp and the ocarina, but since Sheik wasn’t here anymore he would have to make due.
“Okay, Navi, I remember now. I guess I’d better get this done before I forget.”
“Do what?” Mido inquired.
“I’m not sure myself,” Link replied as he reached into his pouch and produced the Ocarina of Time. “Stand back, everyone. I don’t know what this is going to do, so…”
Deciding to take his advice, Mido, Navi, and Katl moved several paces away from the Hero of Time. When Link felt it was safe, he took a deep breath, raised the ocarina to his mouth, took another deep breath, and started playing the Minuet of Forest.
He pictured Sheik playing his harp in his mind, trying to guess where the harp would perform in the ocarina’s place. But rather than close his eyes as he often did, he kept his eyes open this time. He wanted to see what was going to happen when he played this song, if anything at all.
He didn’t have to wait long. When he finished the last note of the short tune, he didn’t even have time to consider repeating the song when he felt something inside of him begin to move. At first he didn’t know what it was, but it resembled the initial buildup he had experienced when he first learned to use Din’s Fire. Then he discovered it felt more like the buildup of the power from the Temple of Light; he quickly realized it had to be the power of the Temple of the Forest. The song must’ve activated the power from the medallion Saria had given him. But what was it going to do…?
Like a silent thunderbolt streaking across the sky, Link felt the power growing within him snap like the sonic boom of a cracked whip. And yet it didn’t feel at all uncomfortable; in fact Link considered it about as painful as a gentle slap on the arm with a finger. The “implosion” of power within him seemed to gather somewhere inside of his body – although he couldn’t pinpoint where exactly – before it “exploded” outward, somehow exiting his body. He heard and saw nothing, but he certainly felt something.
All of this happened in a fraction of a second.
“What just happened…?” he started thinking when he felt something tickle his left leg.
He looked down at the soggy, green grass – which in itself was strange since the rest of the forest was barren – and saw something that made him gape in amazement.
Several yellow flowers were growing in a small cluster at his feet, developing and budding before his very eyes!
He quickly looked around the meadow. All over he saw several other clusters of flowers also appearing, growing just as quickly as the ones at his feet. And the flowers weren’t the only things changing – the green grass was somehow getting greener and taller, as if trying to outdo itself. But the abrupt growth was far from unstable; the vegetation instantly stopped growing after reaching a certain height. Link realized that the grass and flowers were not only growing but they were growing healthy as well!
The scene was creepy, almost as if Time had somehow sped up while remaining constant for Link, and it was happening all over the meadow.
Link watched the eerie sight for a few moments before he turned his attention to Mido and the two fairies. Not surprisingly, they were also bewildered by what was happening before their eyes.
“How…how is this possible…?” Mido mumbled. “Link…what did you just do…?”
“I…I think I helped the forest heal itself,” Link uttered, unable to come up with a better explanation.
“But…if this is what’s going on in this meadow,” Katl stated in disbelief, “then what’s going on outside…?”
“Mido! Mido! Are you in here? Mido!”
Everything turned their attention to the snake passage in time to see a Kokiri boy emerge from its mouth, his arms waving in the air wildly. He looked very flushed from running and from screaming his head off, and when he reached Mido he collapsed at his feet and started panting heavily. It took Link a moment to recognize the boy as Bori, one of his and Saria’s closer friends.
“Bori, what’s wrong?” Mido asked.
“I…I’m not sure if…if you can call it…wrong,” Bori gasped as he struggled to talk, “but…but something’s happening to the…to the village. I was walking over to Lana’s house…just to see how she was doing…when the…when the…when the weeds on the path suddenly started dying.”
“The weeds suddenly started dying?” Mido repeated.
“Right before my eyes, too. At first I thought everything was dying, but then I realized…it was only the weeds. And the grass…it was growing at a very fast rate. I decided to look for you and headed for this place, ‘cause I knew you headed in this direction. As I ran, I saw other strange things. The vines around our houses…they were dying and dropping off. And the peeled bark was also falling off where new bark was growing! That only made me run faster. Any idea what’s going on?”
Mido didn’t answer Bori’s question but instead looked up at Link, who was just as amazed as Bori was. Was this the power of the Forest Temple? Had playing the Minuet of Forest awakened the temple’s power within him and used him to spread its influence over the forest? Or was the temple itself doing the healing, simply heading Link’s call with the song Sheik had taught him?
“I…I honestly don’t know what to think anymore…”
—Thank you, Hero of Time—
Everyone in the field jerked their heads in every direction when the loud yet gentle voice boomed across the meadow. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and there was no one in sight.
“Who’s there?” Link called out when no one else did. “Who are you?”
—Come to the base of the Great Deku Tree and all will be revealed—
Link wasn’t so sure about following the mystery person’s instructions without question. “I’ll do so if you reveal who you…?”
“Link,” came the whisper of Navi’s voice in his head suddenly. “I…I think we can trust him.”
“Why?” Link asked in a similar whisper.
“Because…because I’m feeling something…something I lost seven years ago…when the Great Deku Tree died…”
Link was still feeling uncertain about this enigmatic newcomer, but he decided to follow Navi’s intuition and turned towards the hollow shell of the dead Deku Tree. Mido, Katl, and Bori decided to go with Link, as they were just as curious to find the owner of the strange voice.
The small group reached the base of the tree in no time, and not surprisingly they found nothing there.
“Okay, we’re here at the base!” Link called out. “Now where are you?”
—Look down at your feet, Hero of Time—
Link complied…and noticed something situated directly in between and in front of his feet. It was a plant of some kind, a plant that didn’t resemble any of the other plants in the meadow. As far as Link could tell, it appeared to be a single shoot with only two leaves; in other words, at first glance it looked like nothing special. Maybe if he had a closer look…
“What in Din’s Fire is this thing…?” Link muttered under his breath as be knelt down to examine it more closely…
Without warning, the shoot…shot up straight out of the ground, heading directly for Link’s face! Link, almost caught off guard, doubled back to avoid being hit. Unfortunately, the maneuver caused him to lose his balance; he spent a few seconds flapping his arms wilding in circles before he fell backwards, landing on his backside with a gentle thud.
Everyone else was also surprised by the shoot’s abrupt behavior and hurriedly moved away from it. When Link was in control of his balance again, he quickly returned to his feet and reached for his sword, ready to attack the shoot…or whatever it really was.
“I’m ready for you…whatever in the name of the Three Goddesses you are!”
To his bewilderment, he found himself staring at what appeared to be a young tree sapling rooted directly where the mysterious shoot had once been. The sapling stood a little under Link’s height and stretched out as wide as his own body. It had a few branches poking out through its sides, but very few leaves were attached to those branches. Its bark’s texture strongly indicated the sapling was very healthy. Upon examining it, Link discovered he couldn’t figure out what kind of tree sapling it was.
“What…is that?” Mido asked Link nervously behind him. “Is it an oak? A maple? A pine? I’ve never seen any tree with a bark that smooth.”
“I’m not sure myself,” Link replied. “But whatever it is, it sure has some nerve to suddenly spring out of the ground like that right when I was taking a closer look…”
—Forgive me, Hero of Time. Please excuse my little joke—
The voice was definitely closer than before. Everyone looked around to find the voice’s owner, but could find no one.
“All right, this is getting old,” Link called out. “Show yourself now or…”
—But I have already shown myself, Hero of Time. I am right in front of you—
Link glanced down at the sapling. “You mean…you’re the tree?” he asked somewhat skeptically.
Link twisted his face up in doubt, although the idea of a talking tree wasn’t too farfetched. He practically worshipped one seven years ago!
“Okay, so you’re the tree. So who are you…?”
“The Great Deku Tree…”
Link and the two Kokiri with him turned their attention to Navi, who was hovering over Link’s right shoulder. “The Great Deku Tree?” Mido repeated. “What do you mean…?”
“It’s…the Great Deku Tree!” resounded the voice of Katl. “By the Three Goddesses, the Great Deku Tree has come back to us!”
Now it was Link’s turn to speak. “Look, what are you two talking about…?”
“I can’t believe it! The Great Deku Tree! He has returned! He has returned!” Quick as a wink, Bori’s fairy Jitn, who had been hiding underneath his cap, suddenly zipped into view and joined Navi and Katl. The three fairies then started to fly around the tree sapling in a frenzy, as if their lives had suddenly be saved from something horrible.
Link was about to say something when the voice spoke up again.
—So the fairies have already connected with my life source. Maybe it won’t be too long after all before I’m connected with the Kokiri, just like my father—
“Father…? This sapling…is the Great Deku Tree’s…?”
Link approached the sapling by taking a couple steps forward. “Tell me something…are you…really the Great Deku Tree’s…son?”
The sapling seemed to nod in a sudden gentle breeze.
—I am, Hero of Time. Seven years ago, when my father died, his remaining life force was concentrated into a single point, a point from which my seed was born. This seed was placed deep within the ground and incubated within the nutrient rich soil of the forest. And now I have finally awoken, ready to take the place of my father as the guardian of this forest and those who live within—
By now, Mido and Bori had gathered around Link to listen to the sapling, their faces just as bewildered as Link’s. “But…how come it took you seven years to reach the soil?” Mido asked. “Were you placed too deeply into the soil…?”
—No, Mido, I would’ve reached the surface within one month’s time of my seed’s creation, had it not been for the one called Ganondorf—
That name sent a chill down Link’s spine, but he didn’t say anything and allowed the sapling to continue.
—Seven years ago, when Ganondorf stole the sacred relic from the forbidden land and used its power to seal the power of the temples, he doomed this forest to die. The forest would die without the power of the Forest Temple to protect it, and I would’ve died along with that forest. You probably noticed that the grass was uncharacteristically green in this meadow while everything else in the woods was dead or dying. With the forest dying, my growth had been hindered by a lack of sufficient nutrients. The forest tried to aid me by drawing nutrients from all over the forest in order to help me grow, but sadly all they could do was keep me alive. Each year those nutrients grew fewer and fewer, and I had not long before even they couldn’t sustain me. However, when you unsealed the Forest Temple’s power and returned life to this forest, I was able to grow once again. I owe you my life, Hero of Time. Again, I thank you—
Link didn’t know what to say. Now that he knew this sapling truly was the son of the Deku Tree, he had so many questions for him, many things he wanted to know. But before he could form a question in his mind, the sapling waved its branches in a manner that suggested it was looking up.
—Ah, so my father’s children are coming to greet me—
Link turned around and looked upward just in time to see what the sapling was talking about. Flying over the mountainous crag surrounding the Deku Tree’s meadow was a swarm of…of fairies. In all his life with the Kokiri Link had never seen so many fairies clustered together like this. There appeared to be hundreds of them of various sizes and colors: big ones, small ones, tall ones, short ones, red ones, blue ones, green ones, pink ones, purple ones…Link was even sure he saw a multicolored one somewhere in the cloud. But they all had one thing in common: they were all heading straight for the Deku Tree sapling.
Things got even more hectic when the swarm actually reached the sapling. The fairies joined Navi, Katl, and Jitn by flying wilding around the sapling in random patterns while shouting various phrases seemingly at no one in particular. Link managed to overhear a few of the phrases in the chaos, and they all had something to do with the return of the Great Deku Tree.
Link scratched his head in amazement and released a soft chuckle. But he had no time to comment on the situation when he thought he heard something approach the field through the snake passage of the rocky hills. He turned around to look…and saw a stampede of Kokiri heading into the meadow! Everyone he had ever known – and a few he couldn’t recognize at all – were all streaming into the Deku Tree’s field, mumbling to each other loudly. Some of their gazes were directed upward towards the fairy swarm, indicating they were all following their fairies who had suddenly abandoned them for no reason.
Without saying a word, Link watched as the entire Kokiri Village gathered around him and the sapling, their mutterings growing louder and louder. Then a couple of them noticed that Mido was in the field and within a matter of moments virtually all the Kokiri were directing their questions and concerns towards him.
“Mido, what’s going on here?”
“Something’s happening in the village. Have you seen it?”
“The grass suddenly started growing again…and the vines around my house just fell off!”
“And my garden flowers are blooming again!”
“And those ugly shoots growing near my window died before my eyes!”
“I’ve just come from the forest. All the weeds and torn bark are dropping like flies…come to think of it, I haven’t seen that many flies either when it started happened.”
“What’s going on, Mido?”
“What are you doing here in the meadow of the Great Deku Tree…?”
“What’s going on with the fairies? They just suddenly upped and left us.”
“And how did the stranger get in here…?”
—Please, my children, be still. Give Mido some room to speak—
In an instant the meadow grew silent as every pair of eyes turned to the sapling with fairies flying all around it. Some of the Kokiri had looks of surprise on their faces, others had looks of fear. But no one dared to speak.
—Thank you. My children, the reason your fairies left you is because they could not contain their excitement. They just had to come and witness with their own eyes the son of the Great Deku Tree—
Gasps of shock replaced the silence for a brief moment, but no one still dared to talk.
—I know many of you are wondering whether I really am the son of the Great Deku Tree, and I understand your reservations. The bond my father had with you has not been restored as of yet, but the one with your fairies is, which is why you see them as they are. There is much more I can tell you, but I shall allow Mido to tell you what needs to be told—
Mido jerked his head in the sapling’s direction. “M…m…me?” he stammered. “Why me?”
—Because you have the right balance of knowledge, my child. You know neither too much nor too little, and I have faith that you will reveal only what needs to be revealed—
—The one called Saria trusted you to lead the Kokiri, Mido. I have faith that you still do—
Unable to argue with that kind of statement, Mido hesitated for a moment before he finally nodded in acknowledgement. He took a couple of steps forward so he could separate himself from the crowd, turned to face the crowd, and took several deep breaths. He made sure he had everyone’s attention before he started to speak.
“My fellow Kokiri…I have something important to tell all of you, so I ask you to please listen to what I have to say.
“We’ve all seen what the Lost Woods have become over the last seven years, how our once magnificent forest fell into decay to the point beyond recognition. This was all caused seven years ago by a single man. His name is Ganondorf, and he stole a precious item with incredible power and used it to spread his evil across the land, eventually reaching the Lost Woods. Ganondorf also happens to be the man who killed the Great Deku Tree.”
Nearly every Kokiri gasped in horror when they heard that.
“But apparently, there is someone called the Hero of Time who is going to fight this evil man and destroy him,” Mido continued. “That man…is the stranger you see before you.”
Mido then pointed directly at Link, who waved at the crowd sheepishly. The Kokiri looked at him in semi-awe before returning their attention to Mido.
“This Hero of Time came to this forest to find a temple, a temple which held the key to saving this forest. I don’t know how he did it, since I was not there, but when he came back he had managed to find that way of saving our beloved woods. You have already seen the end result: our village and the woods are healing themselves.”
The Kokiri started chatting hurriedly amongst themselves, as if to confirm between themselves that Mido’s words were true.
“But not only did the Hero of Time help our forest to heal, but he also helped the son of the Great Deku Tree to grow once more. The tree sapling you see before you was born from the dying life force of the Great Deku Tree. Look at the fairies flying around him. Look how happy they are. See with your own eyes that we have a new Deku Tree, one that will grow up to be as great and loved as his father.”
The chatter amongst the Kokiri intensified and everyone’s face was beaming with excitement and anticipation. But Mido wasn’t finished yet.
“Unfortunately, I also have some bad news. Our beloved Saria…can no longer be with us.”
The silence that followed was the most deafening silence Link had heard since his awakening from his deep sleep in the Chamber of Sages.
“Don’t worry, Saria isn’t dead. She’s alive and well. However…I don’t know how to say this, but…Saria has been given a very important job to do, a job I don’t think I can explain properly. This…job…it…it…”
Suddenly Mido felt a hand clap gently on his shoulder. He turned to find Link smiling down at him. Before Mido could ask what Link was doing, Link spoke up.
“What Mido is trying to say is that Saria is safe, she has something very important to take care of, and she will be unable to return here because of that job. That’s all you need to know. However, just because Saria is gone doesn’t mean that will be without a strong leader when times call for one. If I had to choose one of you Kokiri in Saria’s absence to restore this village…no, this forest back to its former glory, there’s no one else I’d pick other than…this Kokiri right here.”
Link then patted Mido’s back a couple of times, causing the former Kokiri bully to gaze up at the Hero of Time in genuine surprise. Understanding why, Link bent down and whispered into Mido’s ear, “You’ve earned it.”
When he straightened up again, he could see Mido’s eyes holding back tears. Whether they were tears of sorrow for Saria or joy at being recognized by the Hero of Time, Link did not know…
“Hey, Mister!” a Kokiri from the crowd unexpectedly called out. “How do you know so much about this village and this forest?”
“Yeah, how do you?” cried out another, which started a frenzy of questions from the crowd.
“He said that he’s a friend of Link.”
“A friend of Link? You mean the one who disappeared seven years ago?”
“The same one.”
“So Link is alive? Wow, that’s great. Where’s he now?”
“This outsider surely knows where he is!”
“Hey, mister! Can you tell us where Link is?”
“Hey, you haven’t even told us your name! What’s your name, mister?”
“That’s right. He never did tell us his name.”
“What’s your name?”
Link didn’t know how the Kokiri crowd grew silent, but it somehow did. Each voice that died down was an extra knot in Link’s stomach. Each gaze that stared directly at him felt like a tiny needle piercing his skin. The Kokiri were expecting an answer, and he had to give them one. And this time Link knew he couldn’t lie to them – he couldn’t bear lying to his friends any longer.
But how will they react? Will they accept him as a grownup? Will they still see the same Link they knew as a child seven years ago? Or will they reject him? Will they consider him a stranger from the outside who has no place in the Lost Woods? He guessed he was about to find out.
He hesitated for about a minute, trying to figure out what to say, and when he finally figured it out he started saying it.
“My name…my name is…”
“His name is unimportant.”
Everyone, including Link, directed their gazes towards Mido, who continued, “This fellow standing before us does not need to give us his name, for it will be meaningless. All we need to know is that he is the Hero of Time, the one who will destroy the one Ganondorf, the man who killed the Great Deku Tree and that threatened our beloved forest. He doesn’t need a name; he is the Hero of Time! The Hero of Time!”
Mido’s last cry of Link’s title was so passionate that every single Kokiri surrounding the Deku Tree sapling cried out in response, whipping themselves into a deafening fervor. Some of them waved their arms high into the air wildly, while others chanted “Hero of Time!” in unison. Link, who couldn’t believe what he was seeing, gave a quick look at Mido, who was smiling mischievously.
“What are you up to, Mido?” Link asked in his mind.
Then, without a warning, Mido raised his hands in the air. The ruckus died down as quickly as it had started.
“Furthermore,” Mido continued, “the Hero of Time…is a very close friend of Link, whom many of us remember as a good friend before he sadly disappeared seven years ago. The Hero of Time earlier informed me that Link…might possibly not return to us for reasons only Link knows, but news of him being alive and well is enough. Whatever he is doing right now, I’m sure it’s for the best. I don’t know if we’ll ever see Link again, but we all know he was and still is a great Kokiri.”
Link nearly tripped over thin air when he heard that. Did Mido just call Link…a Kokiri? Link was now itching to ask Mido was he was up to, but he knew talking to Mido now wouldn’t be a good idea, so he decided to let Mido finish his speech.
“But now onto a more serious matter. The Hero of Time has saved our forest from certain death and given us a new Great Deku Tree for future generations. He has done so much for us that I hereby decree that the Kokiri will do anything we can to help him in his fight against Ganondorf. We have remained idle long enough in these woods. We have ignored the happenings of the outside world when they have directly affected us. I’m sure this is what Saria would’ve wanted us to do: fight back against those who dared to take what is most precious to us.
“If any of you standing here wish not to be a part of this, you are allowed to make that choice. But I myself choose not to sit back and let everything around us be destroyed again. I’ll do whatever I can to aid the Hero of Time in his cause. I can’t think of a better way to thank him for what he has done for us here. If anyone here wishes to say something about the matter, then please speak up.”
After Mido finished his speech, he quietly surveyed the crowd. Every Kokiri had a look of uncertainty on his or her face, trying to interpret what Mido had just said and whether or not they should accept it. Link managed to overhear a few of the conversations the Kokiri were having amongst each other, and he could tell many of them were ready to turn around and leave…
“I have something to say,” someone from the crowd cried out.
Everyone turned their attention to Bori, who stepped out of the crowd and turned to face Mido. “I’m still a little uncertain about all of this. All of this sounds strange and even too far-fetched to even be real. But in the last seven years I’ve seen many incredible things, many of them terrifying. And today I’ve seen miracles happen before my eyes. Right now, we are all standing in the presence of the Great Deku Tree’s son, and we have this stranger, the Hero of Time, to thank for it. If helping him fight this man called Ganondorf is the best way I can thank him, then I’ll do it. I think the late Great Deku Tree will be ashamed if I did otherwise.”
The other Kokiri started whispering amongst themselves again, asking each other if Bori was right. Link was starting to get nervous; were these Kokiri really going to follow Mido like this? Bori had stated he would, but what if he was an exception…?
“I’ll help the Hero of Time!” came a cry from the crowd. A girl Kokiri help up her hand to indicate where she was…and to show she was not afraid of letting everyone know where she stood on the matter. “He gave us our forest back. I’ll help him in every way I possibly can!”
“Me, too!” cried a girl Kokiri next to her. “If she can help him, then I can help him.”
“I’ll do it!” exclaimed a boy Kokiri near the back. “My hands are strong! They’ll do whatever is needed!”
“I know a thing or two about fighting!” bellowed another boy Kokiri, this time near the front. “If anyone comes near this forest, I’ll protect it in the Hero of Time’s name!”
“I’m not afraid to help! I’ll do whatever is necessary!”
“Count me in!”
“Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”
Link watched in utter amazement as the crowd slowly up surely raised their voices in support for the Hero of Time. Within a matter of moments Link found it difficult to find anyone in the crowd who wasn’t raising his voice as loud as possible. Eventually Link nearly had to hold his hands over his ears because the roaring was so deafening. But as he watched the roaring before him, he couldn’t help but feel something inside of him grow warm, something feel…elated by what he was seeing…
Just then, he felt something touch him on the side. He looked down to see Mido staring up at him. “So what do you say, Hero of Time?” he asked before stretching out his hand. “Do you accept our help?”
Mido was offering Link a handshake? At first Link didn’t know what to think, but he quickly realized what he had to do. Smiling back at the Kokiri, Link replied, “I myself don’t know what you can do to help, but I’m sure Sheik will be pleased to learn of your offer. Whatever you do to help us…will be greatly appreciated.
Link then reached out with his own hand, grabbed Mido’s tightly, and the two former rivals shook hands firmly.
The crowd only seemed to cheer louder when they did…
“So when are you leaving exactly, Link?”
Dusk had crept over the Deku Tree meadow, enveloping it in golden shadows from every direction Din’s Eye could cast them. The crowd of Kokiri that had once stood in the enormous meadow had long ago left to clean up the rotting weeds and vines left by the forest’s transformation. The fairies that once hovered over the Deku Tree sapling’s head like a shining cloud of dust had also dispersed to be with their respective Kokiri. Link and Mido were the only ones left in the meadow; Navi had mysteriously disappeared.
Link, who was standing a short distance away from the Deku Tree sapling, didn’t take long to reply to Mido’s question. “I’m…I’m not really sure, exactly. I was told there was one other person I needed to meet in this forest before I left, and I’m not exactly sure who that person is…or even if I’ve met him already.”
“One other person you need to meet, huh?” Mido echoed. “That does sound a little strange. I don’t know anyone whom Saria would want you to meet other than herself and…and…the Great Deku Tree?”
“The Great Deku Tree? You mean the sapling? But haven’t I already met him?” Link asked as he pointed to the tree behind him.
“I guess you’re right…” Mido started when he was suddenly interrupted by a now familiar voice.
—Mido. Link. Please stand before me. There are several things I need to reveal to you both—
Deciding not to ask any questions, Link and Mido walked to the base of the Deku Tree sapling, who strangely looked just as commanding as the original Deku Tree even without the incredible height.
“Yes, what is it?” Mido asked.
—You have both proven yourselves to be worthy of association with this magnificent forest. I am indeed proud of both of you for what you have done, just as my father was proud of you when he was alive—
The sapling then seemed to turn to face Mido
—Mido, against all odds you have managed to redeem your life and turned it around. You were once known as a bully, but now you are the one all the other Kokiri turn to when they need help. My father didn’t approve of your bullying, but he loved you all the same. I’m sure if he were alive today, I’m sure he would’ve been more proud of you than I am at this moment. To thank you, I will return to you something you lost seven years ago, something that was very precious to you. Navi, you may bring him out now—
Without warning, a familiar pink light darted out from behind the Deku Tree sapling.
“Navi, where were you?” Link asked.
“I was doing something for the Great Deku Tree,” Navi replied. “He wanted me to fetch someone.”
“Fetch who…?” Mido started when a second light emerged from behind the sapling. The light was obviously another fairy, but unlike Navi this fairy seemed more nervous and tense. His light was flickering lightly in apprehension and it took him a while before he was finally in full view.
It took Mido a minute to figure out who the fairy was, but it took him only a second to nearly break down in disbelief. “D…D…Dakt? Dakt, is that you?”
“Hello, Mido,” the fairy responded.
The fairy now identified as Dakt then proceeded to slowly flutter his way towards Mido, who was now gaping in surprise. When the fairy was within arm’s reach of Mido, Dakt stopped and simply hovered in front of the Kokiri.
“I…I suppose you still think I’m worthless, don’t you?” Dakt muttered sadly. “I remember how angry you were with me the last time we spoke…and I could tell you didn’t want to see me again. The…the only reason I came here was because the Great Deku Tree wanted me to talk to you. But if…but if you want me to leave, then I’ll go away and you’ll never see me…”
“Dakt…” Mido softly interrupted.
Daklt looked up. “Yes?”
Dakt seemed to “jump” back in surprise in the air. “You’re…you’re sorry? For what?”
“For being such a jerk…as well as such a terrible friend,” Mido replied as he clasped his hands behind his back. “I don’t know why I said those horrible things to you, but looking back I knew I should’ve never said them to you. You’ve been my best friend my entire life, and to turn my back on you and threaten you like that was just so…so…wrong. I never meant a word of it, Dakt. I swear on the grave of the former Great Deku Tree that I never meant a word of it. I’ll do anything to make it up to you, I swear. I nearly died when I lost you, Dakt, and I want you to come back. I’d rather have you than anyone else as my fairy.”
Dakt remained silent for a seemingly long minute, probably just as stunned as Mido was at first. He then flew a little closer to Mido’s face almost cautiously, hesitated, and then uttered, “Do you really mean it? Do you really…want me back?”
Mido smiled weakly. “If you want me.”
At first Dakt didn’t move; he just stared at Mido as the Kokiri quietly gave the fairy time to think. Then, in the span of an instant, Dakt’s fairy light abruptly flickered rapidly. Link recognized this form of flickering: Dakt was happy beyond depiction. The fairy didn’t say anything as he suddenly zipped forward and circled Mido’s head several times before landing on the Kokiri’s left shoulder, where he proceeded to hug Mido’s neck.
“I missed you so much, Mido,” Dakt whispered. “I’m sorry for ever leaving you.”
“Quit being sorry when I’m the one at fault,” Mido beamed. “I’m sorry for yelling at you like that. I’ll never do it again. I promise.”
Mido’s face was smiling gleefully as he made that vow, but Link could tell by the look in his eyes that he was holding back tears.
“Man, how many times have people cried today…?” he started pondering when the voice of the Deku Tree sapling spoke up again.
—And now, Link, it’s time for me to reveal to you something that you have finally earned the right to learn—
“Link?” Dakt cried in surprise before turning to Mido and pointing at Link. “This is Link? This is the guy we picked on…?”
“He is,” Mido acknowledged, “although to tell you the truth, even after everything he’s told me, I still don’t know how he’s become like this. He is a Kokiri, after all…”
—Mido, I need you to do something for me—
Mido snapped to attention at the sound of the Deku Tree sapling’s voice. “Anything you want.”
—I want you to bear witness to what I’m about to reveal to Link. What I have to say to him is of the utmost importance, and thus I need someone trustworthy to have knowledge of it should the need ever arise. But understand that what I say may never leave beyond this meadow. Do you understand, Mido?—
—Then listen, Link—
The sapling then seemed to turn its “gaze” in Link’s direction; the Hero of Time straightened his posture and tried to look as dignified as he could. Navi fluttered to his side as he straightened out and both quietly waited for the son of the late Great Deku Tree to speak. When he did start speaking, the air seemed to feel heavy for some reason.
—All the knowledge that my father once possessed, I have inherited. Everything he knew I now know. I know the name of each and every fairy in this forest, as well as every face of all the Kokiri my father created. I know everything there is to know about this forest and even about the air that blows through its canopies. But the knowledge I inherited also stretches back to the days when Time was born, and that includes the history of the world before it became the united land it is now. I’m telling you this because you, Link, were raised with the belief that you are, have always been, and still are a Kokiri, despite everything that has happened to you.
—But the truth is, Link, that you are not a Kokiri—
When Link heard those words, he felt his legs abruptly lose their strength and he nearly fell to the floor. “Wh…wh…whaaaaaaat?” Link cried out. “What are you talking about?”
—You are not a Kokiri, Link. You are in fact one who was born outside of this forest. You are…a Hylian—
A Hylian? Link was a Hylian? He was born in the land of Hyrule? How could that be…?
“Wha…what game are you trying to pull?” Link demanded, unable to believe the sapling’s words. “How can you even think this is funny?”
—I don’t find it funny in the least, Link. This is something of great important. You were raised as a Kokiri, but you were born a Hylian—
“No!” Link bellowed, throwing his hand in anger. “I cannot believe it! All my memories are that of a Kokiri! I’ve lived with the Kokiri for longer than a normal child ever has! How can I be a Hylian when I haven’t aged during my years in this forest…?”
—It is because of the bond you had with my father—
Link blinked in puzzlement. “Bond? Your father? What in the name of the Three Goddesses are you talking about?”
—Will you allow me to tell you without interruption of any kind?—
Link quickly glanced at Mido, who seemed unsure of what to make of what he was just hearing. Link then glanced back at the Deku Tree sapling, who was waiting patiently for an answer. Shaking his head in frustration, Link took a deep breath to calm himself down. “Fine, I’ll listen to your story.”
—Thank you, Link. Now listen carefully. In the years before the land of Hyrule was what it is now, before the great king of Hyrule united all the lands together under his rule, the world was in chaos. People were killing one another over senseless ideals and grudges, and everyone everywhere lived in fear of his or her neighbor. The fires of war were everywhere, fueled by greed and malice; to live in such a time was a horrific experience for anyone who was old enough to have memories of it.
—Five years before the Hylian king created what is known today as the Kingdom of Hyrule, the young wife of a soldier was forced to flee the fires of war. Chased by bandits and mercenaries, she reached the Lost Woods, which had remained untouched by the evils of the war. Whether it was by cunning or miracle, she managed to evade her pursuers and make it to Kokiri Village. The Kokiri, eager to help the poor young woman, brought her before my father, but they were too late to save her. She collapsed out of exhaustion and died at the base of my father’s trunk. However, with her last breath, she asked my father to adopt and care for her child.
—For you see, Link, the woman had with her an infant baby boy—
Link thought he knew where this was going, but he restrained himself from saying anything.
—My father agreed to raise the boy as one of the Kokiri once he was old enough. Using his mystical abilities, he raised the boy lad in secrecy in the meadow until he had matured into a boy that would pass as a Kokiri. However, since the boy was a Hylian and not a Kokiri, my father realized the boy would grow up unless he did something. So he decided to form a bond with the boy and allow him to continue to grow until he reached a suitable age to remain a Kokiri; after that, he would halt the boy’s growth so he would remain in a child-like body forever.
—But when my father made that bond he didn’t count on discovering something amazing. The boy possessed the ability to learn magic; in fact the boy had some of the strongest magical potential he had ever seen. But then he discovered something more important: the boy was tied to destiny itself. The boy was predestined to protect the world from those who dared to destroy it. The boy was linked to the fate of everyone and everything around him, and there was no way to break that link.
—That is how my father decided on the boy’s name. From that day on, he was known as Link—
Link felt something in his stomach tighten, but he still prevented himself from interrupting.
—My father knew that this boy was destined to leave the forest one day and fulfill his destiny, and thirty years after the Hylian woman entered the Lost Woods he was proven right. Hyrule was united, and the first king’s son was ruling the land. He had given birth to a daughter whom my father could also sense a strong flow of destiny within—
“Zelda,” Link thought.
—And then, seven years ago, a man named Ganondorf entered this forest and killed my father. It was then he realized that it was time for the boy of destiny to leave the Lost Woods and save the world from that horrible tyrant. Before his death, he gave you the Spiritual Stone he possessed and sent you to find the princess of destiny. Once you left this forest, the magical bond he had made with you was severed, allowing you to grow up once more. That is why you appear as you are now.
—Now you are the Hero of Time, and it is your fate to save the world from the cruelty that Ganondorf plans to inflict upon it. I am glad that I’ve finally been able to reveal to you your past. My father would’ve told you this had he not died from Ganondorf’s curse, but I’m glad to have finally rectified that—
“But I’m a Kokiri! I’m not even supposed to age! Seven years should mean absolutely nothing to me! Why is it I’ve aged like this when I…”
“I cannot answer that question. Fate has forbade me to tell you anything about this matter. The only one who can tell you is the one who raised you.”
“The one who raised me…? The Great Deku Tree! You mean the Great Deku Tree! But he’s dead! How can he tell me anything if he’s dead?”
“Again, I cannot answer that. But trust me when I say that all will be revealed. And try to understand that it will be revealed at the proper time and place…”
Now Link knew what Rauru was talking about. All had been revealed, but Link wasn’t sure it was the proper time or place. He wanted so desperately to lash out at the Deku Tree sapling and denounce everything he said. He wanted so desperately to cry out that everything told to him was a lie, that he really was a Kokiri and that there was some rational explanation behind his growing up.
But he couldn’t. He looked down at his gloved hands, staring at them in stony silence before looking down his arms and then across his body. There was no other way to explain it: he was a Hylian, pure and simple. No wonder he had had so many strange feelings before, no wonder he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was somehow different from the Kokiri and also similar to the Hylians.
He was an outsider. Even Mido’s acceptance of Link as a Kokiri didn’t seem to have that much importance anymore. Link was an outsider. He wasn’t a Kokiri…
Link twisted his gaze to his left when he felt a gentle nudge against his arm. He saw Mido staring up at him, his eyes filled with concern. “Link…you all right? You look a little pale.”
Link didn’t respond.
—Link, I know what I’ve told you sounds unthinkable, but it is the truth. I hope you will understand…—
“Shut up…please, just shut up.”
The Deku Tree sapling immediately fell silent after Link ordered him to do so. Everyone else in the field nearly gasped in disbelief, especially Navi. “Link, what do you think you’re doing? How dare you tell the Great Deku Tree to…”
“Navi, if you say one more word, I’m going to tear off your wings and stuff them down your throat.”
Now it was Navi’s turn to turn pale. “Link…how could you…say that…?”
Without another word, Link started walking forward, leaving Mido, Navi, and Dakt to watch him in stony silence. The Hero of Time didn’t even turn to look at the Deku Tree sapling as he walked past it; he simply kept looking straight and continued walking slowly but surely.
Within a few moments he reached the base of the late Deku Tree’s hollow trunk. He surveyed the fossilized bark for a minute, staring at each cracked surface as hard as he could in the twilight. He then gazed up as far as he could, trying to picture a face upon the tree god he once admired so much as a boy.
“As a boy…now that doesn’t sound so strange anymore…”
He tried to imagine the mighty, commanding voice of the late Deku Tree ringing inside his mind, telling him what he had to do because it was his destiny. He tried to picture what it was like when he blindly obeyed the Deku Tree’s words, following them without wondering exactly what his so-called destiny was. But nothing could help him relive that day, because now he knew what he was seven years ago.
Completely and utterly naïve.
My father would’ve told you this had he not died from Ganondorf’s curse…
Link felt his fists tighten before he muttered one word to the dead tree before him. “Liar.”
“Excuse me?” Mido uttered nervously from behind Link. “Did you say something?”
Ignoring Mido, Link reached behind his back. “You’re nothing…but a great big freaking liar!”
The moment he cried out the last word, Link drew the Master Sword from its sheath, gripped it firmly in his hand…and proceeded to stab the Deku Tree’s bark as hard as he could as quickly as he could. The stone-like bark split easily against the Master Sword’s cold steel, creating echoing thuds that flew across the meadow and bounced back against the crags.
Link had stabbed the Deku Tree about five times already before everyone else realized what he was doing. “Link!” Navi cried as she rushed over to him. “Stop it! Stop that immediately! Link!”
“You lied to me, you miserable bastard!” Link bellowed, disregarding his fairy’s pleas. “You tricked me! How could you do this to me? How could you do this to me? How! How! How!”
Navi tried flying in front of Link’s face to get him to stop, but Link’s eyes were too filled with rage to stop. He simply continued jabbing as furiously as he could at the dead Deku Tree.
“I admired you! I looked up to you! I even loved you!” Link’s cries were getting louder and more irate. “But you betrayed me! You sent me out knowing full well what would’ve happened to me! You could’ve said nothing…and yet you sent me out anyway…!”
Before he could continue, something heavy leapt onto his back. Link stumbled back a little, almost losing his balance as Mido struggled to cling onto Link as tightly as he could. “Link!” the Kokiri pleaded. “Calm down! You have to calm down! You don’t have to do this…!”
“Get off of me, you little brat!” Link then reached behind with his free hand, grabbed Mido by the scruff of his neck, and yanked the Kokiri off his back before throwing him to the ground. Mido landed on the soft grass with a gentle thud; Link stared at him for a moment before returning his attention to the Deku Tree. “He stole everything I ever loved! He stole my friends! He stole my home! He stole my happiness! He even took her away from me! He destroyed my life, and you expect me to calm down?”
Link then grabbed the Master Sword by both hands and started hacking away at the tree bark as hard as he could, this time sending loud clangs echoing throughout the forest.
“You horrible bastard! You took everything from me! Everything! You said I should fulfill my destiny…well you can have it! I don’t want it! I don’t want any part of your bloody destiny! Take it back! Take it back! Give me my life back, you miserable wretch! I want my life back! Give it to me!”
When the dead Deku Tree didn’t respond, Link only hacked even faster. “Why don’t you say something? Say something, for the love of the Three Goddesses! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
Then, with seemingly all his strength, Link thrust the Master Sword as hard as he could into the bark; the blade of the mighty sword sank all the way to the hilt. Link tried to remove the weapon, but it had wedged fast in the stony bark of the dead deity. The Hero of Time pulled as hard as he could until finally he fell to his knees, his right hand still gripping the sword’s hilt firmly.
Link tried to cry, but he had cried so much that day that no tears emerged from his eyes. Instead he simply wailed at the foot of the late Deku Tree, mumbling a single phrase over and over:
“How could you? How could you? How could you…?”
Link left the Kokiri Village the next day; all the Kokiri were there to see him off as he rode Epona through the village. Many of the Kokiri restated their vows to aid the Hero of Time in his quest against Ganondorf; others simply were there to say goodbye to the man who has saved their forest. As he passed the throng of Kokiri all around him, Link smiled and waved back, not saying anything except thanking everyone for their help.
But only Link, Mido, and their fairies knew that underneath Link’s smile were an indescribable pain and an enormous effort to hide it from everyone. He tried not to look at anyone directly, fearing his eyes would betray the hurt in his heart. Every wave he made took an incredible amount of willpower on his part. At the moment the only thing he was thankful for was the fact he was nearly out of the village.
He exited Kokiri Village and departed into the trees with the crowd of Kokiri cheering from behind him. He gave one final wave before they disappeared behind the trees, but he couldn’t bring himself to look at them. The last thing he wanted to see of the village were his old friends cheering for a lie.
That was he was: a lie. His entire life had been a great big lie. Now he was no longer Link the Kokiri; he was Link the Hylian. It seemed like such a small, inconsequential thing to those who had witnessed the revelation, but for him it was like losing a part of his soul. Where was his life going to go now that he knew what he really was?
He had thought about it all of last night. His laceration of the late Deku Tree’s bark had tired him out completely, but when Mido had brought him to a bed to get some rest Link couldn’t sleep a wink. All he did last night was think…think about who he was and what he needed to do. And during that time, he started to realize a lot of things about his past decisions and his life.
He really had been naïve. Looking back, he now saw that a lot of things he did were stupid and foolish. He had followed orders almost without question, and look where that got him. He obeyed the Great Deku Tree to find the princess of destiny…and ended up going on a dangerous quest for a couple of stupid stones. He followed Princess Zelda’s orders to open the Sacred Realm…and ended up sealed away for seven years.
Not to mention all the things he did out of the “kindness of his own heart.” Looking back at those decisions, he realized how close many of those choices came to getting him killed. Sure, he was still alive, but one wrong move would’ve led to otherwise. And Malon, that girl from Lon Lon Ranch…what did he ever see in that girl to act the way he did for her? He hardly even knew her, and yet he risked his freedom to save her and her horses…
No! He had taken too many chances in the past for things that didn’t mean that much to him. He had ignored everything he had ever truly cared about – the Lost Woods, his friends, Saria – and now they were gone. He no longer belonged there …or anywhere, for that matter. He was a wanderer now, someone without a home. He had no friends now except a fairy and a horse, and even then he felt more like a…a…loner.
As he rode through the now healed Lost Woods, Link quietly made a vow to himself. “I swear, upon
everything I once loved or cared about, I swear I will no longer be the naïve little boy I once was. I’ve made many mistakes in the past, but I will live with them. I am the Hero of Time, and I shall fulfill my duties as the Hero of Time. I will free the Sages and kill the one called Ganondorf. I shall do whatever I need to do.
“But…I will walk my own path. I will follow no one’s orders if I do not believe in them. I will not walk any path if I don’t wish to walk it. I will not put my life on the line if it sounds ridiculous. I will turn my back on destiny, turn my back on fate, and turn my back on all who try to force it upon me. I will live my own life the way I choose to live it. I will not let anyone or anything govern me any longer. Never again. Never again…”
As he finished making his vow, Link felt a single tear trickle down his left cheek. He was instantly reminded of all the things he cried for, and he realized he didn’t want to think about such things anymore. Shorting in disgust, Link quickly wiped it off with a stroke of his fingers.
“Never again…” he muttered angrily. I will never…cry…again.”
“What did you say, Link?” Navi asked from underneath his hat.
“Nothing, Navi,” Link uttered. “It’s nothing.”
When he was far enough outside the Lost Woods and beyond the tree line, Link stopped Epona and turned himself around. He knew which direction to look, so he managed to make out the enormous treetop of the dead Deku Tree peeking through the green canopy, swaying gently in the wind.
He stared at the Deku Tree’s treetop for a moment before uttering to the wind, “Find my path of destiny? I refuse. And I dare you…to try to stop me. You think I can’t run away from it? Watch me.”
He then turned back around and resumed his journey back to Kakariko Village…