As he peered out into the dim light of the dusk, Kaepora Gaebora cooed softly. He usually could stand sunlight, but his natural instincts led him on a cycle of nocturnal movements. Even after fifty years he still hadn’t quite adjusted to his new life.
Being an Owl definitely required adaptation on his part.
When his instincts informed him the light had dimmed enough, Kaepora cooed again and stretched his neck before clawing his way out of his tree hole and onto the nearby branch. He spread his magnificent wings with all his might in order to tauten and prepare them for the night’s hunt. Hyrule’s grasslands offered numerous delightful morsels for him to feed on.
Delightful for an Owl, anyway…
Just then, Kaepora sensed something. Although he was an Owl, he still maintained some part of his original magic, even though it was rarely of much use these days. But his magic still "twitched" every now and then, and it was twitched like crazy right now.
Something was happening within the Lost Woods.
Kaepora’s eyes tightened as he turned his head upside down, creating his illusion of a large beast thanks to his patterned face feathers. He usually did this when he was in deep thought, and right now he was as deep as he could go.
"Something must have happened to the Great Deku Tree," he thought. "Nothing else can create this large a decrease of energy from the Lost Woods. I wonder if this has to do with the Child of Destiny?"
Closing his eyes, Kaepora began to concentrate his small magic to cross the river of Time. It had been a long time since he had attempted such a move, and he had done it before he had been reborn as an Owl. But he needed to confirm his suspicions, for a wrong answer could mean a great downfall for Hyrule.
Crossing the river of Time wasn’t easy. It wasn’t in any way a smooth, direct river, but actually a curved channel with many forks and banks. With his relatively weaker magic, Kaepora had a harder time navigating the stream flow, but his determination wouldn’t allow him to quit…
With a sudden blink, Kaepora’s eyes opened and his head snapped back to its upright position. He was right; the Child of Destiny’s time had finally come.
"Then there’s not a moment to waste," the Owl thought as he flapped his wings violently before taking off into the night. He was a long way from the Lost Woods. The journey would take all night and he wouldn’t be able to stop to feed. But Kaepora had always been determined, and he wouldn’t allow the Child of Destiny to fail…
Yanking the sword from Gohma’s eye cavity, Link suddenly collapsed where he stood. He had never done anything this strenuous, and he felt like he wanted to sleep for an entire week. His heart raced and his breathing spurted, but he managed to turn to Navi, who was slowly circling the parasite’s carcass, and ask her a question.
"Navi, who’s Gohma?"
Navi stopped over the small hill of eye pulp and said, "Why, this is Gohma. Or was, at least…"
"Yes, but…how did you know that name? Where did that name come from?"
"It’s from an old story told among the fairies," Navi explained as she sluggishly fluttered before Link’s face. "It tells of an evil that kills the forest gradually by draining its life force for its own needs."
"I take it the evil was called Gohma?" Link asked.
"Right…" Navi began when Link interrupted.
"Then it can’t be evil."
Navi "jumped" back into the air. "What? What are you talking about? Of course it’s evil! It was draining the life force…"
"…for its own needs, Navi. It didn’t kill because it wanted to, it killed because it had to. Don’t you see the difference? If it didn’t do what it did, it would’ve died." Link then motioned towards Gohma’s corpse. "This thing was no less evil. It merely did what it had to so it could survive. It’s no more evil than you or me or…the Great Deku Tree."
Navi remained silent, thinking about Link’s word, for about a minute before finally responding. "Maybe, but this thing was created by dark magic, Link. Nothing but magic can penetrate the Great Deku Tree’s defenses from parasites. Gohma may not be evil, but whatever created her probably is."
"Maybe," Link uttered as he tried to stand up. "Well, I think we’ve done all we can here. Let’s…"
"No, not yet. There’s still something we must do."
"Oh? And what’s that?"
Link did as Navi instructed, and Link’s mouth fell open when his eyes fell on the ceiling. There, hanging like Gohma’s grotesque skin bag, were several – eight to ten, he counted – red sacks that looked like deformed cocoons. The skin wrapped around them showed disgusting tapestries of veins that pumped some unknown liquid and the sacks as a whole vibrated and twisted from their suspended positions with sickening motion.
"What are those things?" Link asked.
"Gohma’s eggs," Navi answered. "Why else did she visit this spot so often? If we don’t kill those things, there will be numerous Gohmas running around inside the Great Deku Tree…and who knows what would happen if they escaped into the forest!"
Link couldn’t argue with that logic. Tired as he was, he tightened his grip on his sword. "Okay, then. So how should we get them down?"
"I think that slingshot of yours will do the trick. While you take care of that, I’m going to do a fly-around of this cavern to see if any of Gohma’s children are running around."
Link acknowledged the plan with a simple nod of the head, and Navi left the Kokiri to tend to the eggs. Link first took several large stone on the floor and used his slingshot to fire them at the thin strands of substance that connected the eggs to the ceiling. Some fell with the first shot; others took several hits. All them, however, found themselves on the floor with a loud thud.
The next part was the one Link hated. Taking his blood and goo covered sword, he slowly yet forcefully sliced the blade through the center of the eggs, allowing more strange matter to find its way on his sword and on himself, Link noticed just how close some of the eggs were to hatching. He could see the vague shape of baby parasites in the blood-like substance of some of the eggs…
The job didn’t take too long, but it was very tedious and Link was tired by the time he finished. As his blade sank into the last egg, the familiar flapping sound of Navi filled his ears. He finished his task and turned to the little fay, which also appeared tired.
"Well?" Link asked.
"There aren’t any parasites anywhere," she answered.
"Great, then let’s go."
"You got all the eggs?"
"Every one of them."
The journey back was more difficult for Link than it was for Navi, for Link was forced to climb up the giant bore created by Gohma. Luckily, some of the Deku Tree’s roots snaked partway up the hole, but it still forced Link to climb the rest of the way using holds in the dirt. He was almost out of breath and completely red in the face when he finally crawled from the clamber.
Taking only a minute to rest, Link then headed for the distant crack of light from the tunnel that they had used to enter the Great Deku Tree. Navi’s light illuminated the way for him so he wouldn’t trip over any bite marks left by Gohma. When he reached the passage and entered it, he began to think that things were finally looking up.
The two of them emerged from the tunnel a few moments later. Link was nearly blinded by the sudden introduction of intense light, despite the fact that he was in the Deku Tree’s mighty shadow, but he refused to stop at the tunnel’s entrance. Instead he headed towards the tunnel of the Deku Tree’s meadow so he could get a good view of the mighty deity if he decided to talk to Link again.
As Link headed towards the edge of the meadow, he noticed Navi had disappeared again, probably to tell the Great Deku Tree that they had returned. By the time he reached the borderline of shadow and light, Link was exhausted and he immediately collapsed onto the ground. He felt like he could sleep the rest of his life away…while still wearing his fluid-stained clothes.
But he didn’t even have a chance to close his eyes when Navi abruptly appeared again. "Link! Get up! The Great Deku Tree’s about to speak!"
Despite his tiredness, Link found the strength to stand up and turn to face the enormous timber. As soon as he laid eyes on it, the booming, commanding voice echoed within his mind.
—I THANK THEE, O LINK, FOR THY COURAGE AND THY SUCCESS IN BREAKING THE CURSE. NOW, I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL THEE. WILST THOU LISTEN TO MY WORDS?—
There he went again, asking for Link’s permission. Why? But Link was too tired to wonder about it and instead called out with all his strength, "I will, Great Deku Tree."
—THEN LISTEN WELL. AN EVIL MAN CAST THAT VILE CURSE UPON ME. HIS POWER IS FAR GREATER THAN MY OWN, AND IS TAINTED WITH THE MARK OF EVIL. HE SOUGHT TO POSSESS THE SACRED TREASURE OF THE FOREST. WHEN I REFUSED HIS REQUEST, HE SENTENCED ME TO DIE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN IT—
An eerie silence seemed to follow before the voice continued.
—IT IS UNFORTUNATE FOR ME TO SAY HE HAST PREVAILED IN CARRYING OUT HIS SENTENCE. DESPITE THY SUCCESS IN DISPELLING THE CURSE, O LINK, THY EFFORTS WERE IN VAIN BEFORE THEE EVEN STARTED. I WILL SOON LEAVE THIS WORLD—
The words seemed to strike Link even harder than Gohma. Despite his efforts, and successful ones and that, the Great Deku Tree was still going to die. It wasn’t possible. How could the Great Deku Tree die? No, he couldn’t believe it. He wouldn’t believe it! How could be believe it? How?
But the Deku Tree seemed to sense Link’s disbelief.
—DON’T WEEP FOR ME, O LINK. THY EFFORTS HAVE SAVED THE FOREST FROM CERTAIN BLIGHT. I SHALL PASS FROM THIS WORLD KNOWING THE FOREST IS SAFE. BUT FOR THY EFFORTS NOT TO BE IN VAIN FOR THE FATE OF HYRULE, THOU MUST WALK UPON THY CHOSEN PATH AND SEEK OUT THE PRINCESS OF DESTINY TO THE NORTH—
Link tried to listen to the Deku Tree’s words without question, but his eyes were already filling with tears. He clenched his gentle fists in anger, anger at himself for not being in time to save the Great Deku Tree. He didn’t care about a "chosen path" and a "Princess of Destiny." All he wanted was for the Great Deku Tree to live. But he knew in his heart that wasn’t going to happen. He didn’t know how, but he knew.
—NOW, O LINK, I BEQUEATH YOU WITH THE SACRED TREASURE OF THE FOREST, THE ONE THAT VILE MAN WANTED SO BADLY HE CAST THAT CURSE UPON ME—
A sudden burst of green light blinded Link’s eyesight, and he shielded his eyes from it for a moment before looking. He couldn’t believe what he saw. There, hovering by some unseen force, was the most magnificent stone he had ever seen. It was about the size of his hand, maybe even bigger, and it shone with a brilliant green radiance. Encasing its edges was a golden metal frame that seemed to only enhance the stone’s beauty.
The stone floated in Link’s direction until it was close enough for him to grab it. Not knowing what else to do, he reached out and wrapped his fingers around it. It even felt magical! But he didn’t have time to contemplate over its beauty before the Deku Tree again spoke.
—TREASURE THIS STONE, THE EMERALD OF THE KOKIRI. NEVER ALLOW IT TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF EVIL. NOW, O LINK, AND YOU, TOO, NAVI, GO AND SEEK OUT YOUR PATH OF DESTINY. FIND THE ONE WHO WILL GUIDE YOU. PROTECT…HYRULE. I WILL…MISS THOU. FARE…WELL…—
"Great Deku Tree!" Link cried, the stone in his hand suddenly not mattering at all. "Don’t leave us!"
But it was already too late. Right before Link and Navi’s eyes, the Deku Tree underwent an uncanny change. Its bark began to groan and creak loudly as the tree’s brown textures briskly changed into a gloomy and wintry gray. Leaves from the canopy slowly drifted to the ground, dead before they even reached the soil. As if suddenly ripped from Time, the commanding feeling of the Deku Tree was gone, leaving nothing but an enormous tree in an immense meadow.
Just like that, the Great Deku Tree was dead.
Link didn’t know how long he cried after that. The gem in his hand meant nothing to him, except it was a final gift of the Great Deku Tree. He felt he didn’t deserve such an honor, but he also felt he was to blame for the deity’s death. He didn’t act quickly enough. It was his fault.
When he finally stopped crying, he looked up at Navi, who had also apparently been crying. The Deku Tree’s death was more personal to her, however, because she had been closely linked to him.
"I…I…I can’t believe it…" Link stuttered as he stood up from his kneeling position.
"Neither can I, Link," Navi stammered back, "but we have to accept it. The Great Deku Tree is dead, and the only thing we can do is carry out his instructions."
"Find the Princess of Destiny to the north," Navi answered quietly as she flew closer to Link. "That’s what he told us."
"But where in the north? I doubt she’s in the forest, or we would know about her. Could she be…outside the forest limits?"
"I don’t know…"
"I think we’d better go see Saria. Maybe she will know."
Navi’s silence was an understood agreement. The two were about to leave the meadow when Link turned one last time at the dead tree and whispered, "Goodbye, Great Deku Tree…"
Link didn’t want any trouble when he left the snake-like passage, but he unfortunately found it. Before he could do anything, Mido appeared out of nowhere and stopped him with an abrupt shove. Link, whose face was stained with tears, didn’t have the look of someone who wanted to be annoyed.
Mido, however, didn’t take the hint.
"What happened to you, Mr. No Fairy? What’s this sticky stuff on your cloths? What did you do in there?"
"Leave me alone, Mido," Link demanded in a fierce tone he thought he never had.
"What happened in there? Did something happen to the Great Deku Tree? Dakt told me something did, like he…died. Did he die? What happened?"
Link didn’t know what to say, but his eyes obviously betrayed his emotions. Mido didn’t need that much to see what Link was feeling.
"The Great Deku Tree…he is…dead, isn’t he?"
"Yes, Mido, he is," Link finally muttered. He thought that Mido would finally leave him alone, but instead something unexpected happened.
"How could you do that?" Mido cried, his face taut in anger and accusation. "How could you kill the Great Deku Tree?"
Link nearly cried from disbelief. "What? You’re accusing me of killing the Great Deku Tree…? How could you say such a thing?"
"I know a killer when I see one, and I’m standing before one right now! You killed the most precious thing to us Kokiri! How could you, an outsider, do such a thing…."
"Mido, I didn’t kill the Great…"
"Liar! You’re a liar and a murderer! You did! You did kill the Great…"
Link had never hit anybody in his life before. Oh, sure he had gotten into fights with Mido before, but then he usually performed defensive tactics. This time, however, Link had had enough of Mido’s lies. Without even thinking of the consequences, Link clenched his fist and swung it with all his strength at the accusing Kokiri. Mido, caught off guard by the attack, went flying to the ground with a soft thud.
When Mido looked up at Link from the ground, his eyes were filled with surprise and shock. But they mainly said one thing to Link: "I told you so!"
Unable to take it anymore, Link began crying again. But he didn’t breakdown on the spot. Instead, he ran. He ran to get away from Mido, to get away from the pain. He ran blindly, but he knew where he wanted to go to find refuge from all the hurt.
He ran through Kokiri Village, not paying attention to anything he passed. Several Kokiri tried to speak to him, but he ignored them and continued running. Link could feel his heart swell with suffering. He wished he could trade his life for the Great Deku Tree to return. But he knew he couldn’t, and this only made him run faster.
Finally, he found himself at Saria’s house. But he didn’t stop to even knock to tell her that he was back. He just entered the house without even thinking. But he was disappointed to find that Saria wasn’t even inside the house. The tears now coming freely, Link dropped to his knees.
"Saria…where are you…?"
He then fell completely to the floor with a thud, feeling his consciousness slowly slipping away. The last thing he remembered was seeing a shadow enter through the house’s doorway. The last thing he heard was a distant cry of his own name…