Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chapter 62: Infected Purity

Rainbow clouds scuttled across the sky as fierce winds filled with sand scratched their way through the atmosphere. Just above the horizon of dunes constantly shifting with the waves of moving air, Din’s magnificent Eye stared down upon the world with a bright orange hue as heat shimmered around its massive frame. Despite the countless natural indications of dawn, the heat that blanketed the ever-changing landscape cried out that it might as well be early afternoon.

Across the vast Gerudo Desert landscape, there were very few landmarks to cast a shadow other than high rising dunes and the sparse cactus plant not choked by the slinking sands. But on this scorching day, there was one particular shadow that moved autonomously, a shadow belonging to a young figure of a muscular build. His movements were slow and calculated, his progress aiming for a small collection of rocks seated in the vast wasteland that was the sand sea.

Upon reaching that island of boulders, the figure carefully scaled its semi-steep walls, his footsteps softly yet inaudibly scraping the sandy walls. Eventually he reached a small plateau halfway up the hill’s height, and the figure peered over the edge of that plateau cautiously and silently.

There! Just as he had guessed, a large hawk lizard lay motionless upon the plateau, bathing in the morning sun. Such a prize, the figure thought. Capturing it would surely impress his teachers, who had scolded him earlier. The lizard looked lazy and sloth-like, but they were in truth very fast creatures, able to dart out of harm’s way in the blink of an eye. If the figure could just get in close enough, however…

Slowly and meticulously, he raised his hand to the height of the plateau. He needed his hand to get close enough for his plan to work, and moving too fast would catch the lizard’s attention. A smile drifted onto the figure’s face. This lizard was not going to get away, he thought. Not a chance.

Just then, the lizard raised its head. The creature’s eyes didn’t see the figure yet, but it had heard something amiss. A glance behind it, and the hawk lizard would see him. His hand had been raised enough, he figured. It was now or never. With cat-like speed, the figure’s hand darted from behind the plateau’s edge toward the lizard…

SQUEEELLLLLSSSHH…

…and the dagger in that hand pierced the lizard’s skull in one clean blow, killing the creature instantly. A look of perverse glee lit up his young face as the animal’s blood trickled from its wound and pooled onto the plateau, creating a dark circle of crimson around the beast’s carcass. The hawk lizard was not an aggressive animal, and it hadn’t showed any signs of attacking the young lad. No, it had been killed for one reason, and that reason flashed vividly in the sneer of that child.

The youth kept the blade inside the dead beast’s flesh for about half a minute – far longer than necessary – before he finally removed its blood-soaked surface. Satisfied with the kill, he reached out with his free hand and picked up the carcass by the neck. Blood continued to drain from the body, but the boy did not care. He simply maintained his smile as he examined his prize. Surely this would impress his instructors, killing one of the desert’s most nimble creatures…

“Hey!”

The boy nearly fell the short distance back to the ground when he heard that loud cry below. He looked down to see a furious young woman, dressed in Gerudo garb, glaring angrily up at him.

“What do you think you are doing?” the Gerudo demanded, her arms crossed firmly across her bosom as she awaited an answer.

The boy didn’t answer directly but inside smiled and held out his prize kill in the woman’s direction. “Look what I caught…a hawk lizard…”

“I know what that is,” the woman snapped impatiently. “I’m asking why you wandered off to kill it.”

The youth’s smile was replaced by an unsure frown. He wasn’t being rewarded for his feat like he had anticipated – in fact, it seemed he was on the brink of being punished for it. But why? Surely they could recognize the brilliance of his skill…

“But it’s a hawk lizard…” he tried to reiterate, but the Gerudo was having none of it.

“I don’t care if it’s the head of Din herself! Get down from there now before I pull you down!”

Realizing his kill wasn’t going to impress her, the boy’s frown deepened. He looked at the dead lizard again for a brief moment before he suddenly tossed the carcass away in disgust, wanting to spit in its direction but fearing he would be chastised for doing even that.

“I’m waiting!” the Gerudo reminded him impatiently.

“I’m coming,” the boy muttered as he started his descent down the rock face. He reached the ground after a short minute, his footsteps no longer soft and cautious. All the while the heated glare from the Gerudo woman remained on him, refusing to lessen in pressure.

“How many times have we told you not to wander off without our permission?” the woman asked. When the boy didn’t answer, she snapped, “Answer me!”

“I don’t know,” the boy answered softly through gritted teeth.

“You’ve lost count? I’m sure you know why that is.” The Gerudo’s finger suddenly lifted and pointed in the direction from where the boy had approached the rocky hill. “Now march yourself back home. For your little stunt, you’re going to do extra reps with your sword in practice today. Do I make myself clear?”

The boy didn’t answer, causing the Gerudo to lean down and place her face near his ear. The anger in her voice was palpable through her veil.

“I said, ‘Do I make myself clear,’ Ganondorf?”

Finally the young boy responded, looking up at the woman with a blank expression on his face. “Crystal.”

Satisfied with his answer, the Gerudo looked away as she prepared to accompany him back home. It was her fortune that she turned away at that moment, for had she still looked down at the young Ganondorf, she would’ve seen eyes looking up at her with a hatred not seen in Hyrule for generations, a hatred long though impossible by a normal heart…

********************

Link didn’t know how long he had been flying through that bizarre temple water tunnel or how far it had carried him so far, but he did know that he wanted the unexpected ride to stop immediately and let him off.

The strange system was obviously meant more for creatures of the water like the Zora, since he was surrounded by a raging torrent of water that carried him through wide stone pipes like a rubber ball without any control. He couldn’t see too clearly with the water rushing all around him, though he suspected Ruto was more than comfortable with the experience.

He, on the other hand, was miserable. He didn’t like being without control, and he could barely steady himself as the swirling water pushed him so easily from pipe to pipe. Several times he even started spinning around like a top, forcing him to close his eyes and hope he didn’t get dizzy. Even when he steadied himself he still felt nauseated. If he had to endure this ride for much longer, he feared he might retch…

Then, when he least expected it, the ride abruptly came to an end. Up ahead in the tunnel Link saw something that looked like a wall, and initially Link feared that he was being carried directly into a dead end. But up ahead he saw Ruto, and as she struck the wall it opened up like a trapdoor, letting her through without any harm. Link was suddenly reminded of the hinges he had seen inside the grated floor chamber, and he suddenly recognized their purpose as he passed the current grating. As he did, the water around him suddenly slowed, carrying him no farther and instead cradling him in the center of the tunnel. It was then that Link realized his head was pointing upward and the grating he had just passed was a floor.

Link hovered in the air for a few brief minutes surrounded by the gentle torrent of water when, without warning, the flow stopped. The hinged grating fell back into its floor position and Link followed soon after. He landed on the floor with a crack – the metallic mesh was surprisingly soft upon landing, but still hard enough to send a sting through his joints. He winced slightly as he grabbed his leg, though the pain didn’t last for that long.

Beside him, he saw Ruto, standing on her two feet without any noticeable trouble and looking like she had just gone for a morning swim.

Now Link knew that this place was designed more for people like the Zora. Even with his special water-breathing tunic, that experience was a bit of a nightmare. Shrugging, Link stood up and stretched out his back, pulling out some knots he had received during his journey.

“Are you all right, darling?” Ruto asked him as she tightly clutched his shield and the dagger in her hands.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Link replied honestly. “Just a little dizzy, that’s all…”

“That’s all?”

The loud, snippy voice was so loud that Link’s ears nearly burst. By now he had noticed that they had stopped inside a chamber virtually identical to the one they had been in earlier, and from the dark roofless heights above flew a very peeved fairy, soaking wet from foot to wing.

“Navi…” Link started when the fey cut him off.

“Don’t you ever do anything like that again, do you hear me?” she snapped, waving her finger angrily in front of Link’s face. “The next time you even think about shooting me through a water pipe like a fish, I’m going to pop you one across the face so hard your grandchildren will feel it, got it?”

A soft giggling sound was heard by Link as Navi finished her brusque threat, prompting Link to look over at Ruto, who was holding her hand over her mouth as she tried to stifle a laugh. Was she finding amusement in Link being berated by his fairy? Or did her blush mean that she was more interested in a specific word that Navi had blurted out?

“Sorry, sorry,” Link uttered as sincerely as he could, trying to assure Navi that he didn’t do it intentionally. “Really, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, I promise.” At least without warning her beforehand. “Now can we please let it go and move on? I don’t want to risk losing our chance to get the jump on whatever Ganondorf has hidden in here.”

Navi’s pink light flickered wildly as she seethed continuously for a few moments before finally she let herself calm down into a more stable glow. “Fine, fine, fine,” she sighed. “You know where to find me if you need me.” She disappeared under Link’s hat without another word.

Link shook his head gently and turned to Ruto. “You ready?” he asked.

The Zora held up the shield and the Kokiri blade that Link had given her. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Good,” Link said, doing a quick check on his own person to make sure his little journey hadn’t loosened anything. Despite a few items being noticeably soggy, everything seemed to be securely in place. He double-checked on the Master Sword, though, just in case. Despite his ambivalence toward the blade, he’d rather have it right now than be without it. His abilities to manipulate energies within him, including the temple energies, would prove very useful should they run into Ganondorf’s minions on the way to finding this Morpha.

“Follow me,” Link said, motioning for Ruto to do just that. His footsteps upon the thin metal grating generated a soft squeak with each step, all the way up to the door that led outside the chamber. Beside the door was the room list he had seen earlier, and this time the “Sacred Pool” listing was bolded. This was the place, all right.

And if Link’s hunch was correct, they will find what they were looking for in here.

“Here we go…” Link said with a soft gulp in his voice. He felt Ruto nervously touch his arm as he put a hand on the door, and could tell that she was incredibly nervous. He would’ve said something to assure her, except they had already had their big talk earlier, so there was no use repeating everything he had already said.

Instead, he assured her with a gesture by placing a hand upon hers, looking up at her and smiling softly. Ruto was a bit caught off guard by the motion, but she seemed to appreciate it and smiled back, her shivering dying down a bit. Feeling a bit more confident, Link took a deep breath.

He then pushed the door open.

CRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…

The door swung open slowly with the loudest groan that Link had ever seen. So much for any element of surprise, he sighed. He shrugged and hastened his pushing of the door a little more, moving it open enough for both him and Ruto to step through easily. The change in lighting meant they had to get used to the difference, but Link made sure he kept the Master Sword within reach, just in case. After what he had been through in the previous temples, he expected an army of Ganondorf’s vile creations to be nearby and try to stop him from reaching this Sacred Pool area.

So it was quite a surprise when Link and Ruto found themselves on a massive veranda that surrounded the temple’s water tunnel, inside an enormous chamber filled with crystal clear water…and nothing else.

“Eh?” Link uttered as he loosened the grip on his sword’s hilt, using his energy to look around the chamber. Outside of the familiar intricate carvings in the walls, the only thing notable about the chamber were several small square stone islands dotted around the chamber in a recognizable pattern. Looking a bit more closely, Link thought he saw some items lying on a few of the islands, like discarded blankets and abandoned bowls and the like. Beyond that…nothing. No monsters, no Ganondorf, no Morpha…absolutely nothing.

“…Is this the Sacred Pool?” Link blurted out, still surveying the area for something out of the ordinary.

“I…think so,” Ruto replied as she ventured away from the safety of Link to get a good look herself.

“I’m…a little confused,” the Hero of Time admitted, shrugging his shoulders for no reason. “I thought this would be where we’d find this Morpha creature…or at least something waiting for us. But all I see are these random islands and a lot of water.” Granted, the water was much more radiant and cleaner than the water he had been swimming in through the other parts of the Water Temple. Perhaps the water’s clarity was why this place was called the Sacred Pool?

“Maybe we’re in the wrong room?” Ruto offered, but Link shook his head.

“I don’t think so. This is the room that requires the Song of Time to enter. In the other temples, I found a key mechanism and the Megaton Hammer, so there must be something special about this room. Maybe it’s those islands…there’s some stuff lying on them. Maybe there’s something useful or important lying on them?”

Link wasn’t confident in his own question. None of the discarded items looked at all useful. Perhaps this place was once a pool where Zoras could rest and pray in a sacred place…it sounded like the most likely explanation. Still, that didn’t explain what was so special about this place, other than the clarity of the water. Frowning, he took another look around the room, this time seeing if the walls of the chamber might hold an answer.

It was then that he saw something familiar…

********************

Someone’s there.

It could feel someone’s presence. There was more than one…yes, there was two, definitely two. And it had a feeling that one of them was the individual that had gotten away from it not too long ago. After obeying its master’s orders and extracting the dark essence within the boy, the essence had overpowered it and broke free, prompting a retreat back into the bowels of the Water Temple. Its masters had been very angry at this cowardice, and he had reprimanded it fiercely for its failure to contain the essence.

It had never felt so ashamed before.

It will make up this failure by killing the boy. The foolish boy who had dared enter this holy sanctuary now under the control of its master.

Slowly and carefully, it pulsed its way from the depths of the water toward the surface. Through the radiant clarity of the pool it could see the two individuals standing near the edge of the veranda. Just as it had suspected, one of the persons was the boy. Another was a Zora. Hadn’t the Zoras all been frozen? Why was one here?

It didn’t matter. The Zora will die as well.

Die by the very precious waters that sustained her people.

********************

“What do you see, darling?” Ruto asked when Link made a soft yet noticeable sound of discovery.

“I see holes,” Link answered, pointing to the far wall across the pond. “See them? They’re incredibly small, but they’re there.”

Ruto peered over the pool for a few moments before she finally saw them, scattered across the chamber walls like irregular grime dots. “Yes, I see them, Link. What are they?”

“I think they’re tiny passages,” Link answered. “When I first came to the Water Temple to resc…to scout it out, I was attacked by one of Ganondorf’s tricks. Some gel monster called Morpha that appeared from tiny holes in the floor and wall. If those holes are indeed tunnels, then those tunnels must be connected to somewhere. I’m guessing this is where they’re connected.”

“That would make sense,” Ruto agreed, “but then where is this Morpha, Link?”

“That’s the big question,” admitted the Hero of Time, rubbing his hand over his mouth in frustration. “I was sure it would be here somewhere, but maybe it moved after it failed to kill me. If we can’t find anything here, then we might need to try another room.”

Link and Ruto were so focused on discussing their options that neither of them noticed the soft sound of something claw its way onto the veranda and slink across the floor. It inched its way toward the pair like a serpent, taking care not to move too quickly lest it give its position away. Eventually, it found its way to Link’s feet, and sensing the time was right to strike, it suddenly lashed out…

“Darling! Look out!”

Before Link could turn around and respond to Ruto’s warning, the Zora abruptly charged forward and pushed against him hard with the shield he had given her. The Hero of Time staggered backwards and fell to the floor on his back as Ruto struggled to regain her balance…moments before something thick and firm whipped around her leg like a whip, gripping her ankle as tightly as an iron shackle.

It was a blue tentacle…the same kind of tentacle that had ensnared Link during his first visit to the temple.

And it was dragging Ruto to the water’s edge.

“Link!” Ruto screamed, her eyes wide with terror as she tried to crab something to hold onto. She had dropped the shield and Kokiri blade, and all she could do was claw desperately at the stone floor of the platform. “Link! Help me!”

The Hero of Time didn’t stay down on the floor for long. He hastily unsheathed the Master Sword and rushed to his feet, pushing himself quickly over to the hapless Ruto. Just before the tentacle dragged the Zora into the water, Link aimed and swung at the tentacle with a powerful strike. The sickening sound it made as the blade cut through it was oddly satisfying.

A loud and angry yet strangely muffled roar of pain was heard from somewhere as the still-functioning part of the tentacle hastily retreated into the water, leaving its severed limb on the platform. Link made sure that Ruto was okay before he hurried to the veranda’s edge and peered into the water. He hoped to catch a glimpse of the creature – Morpha…it had to be Morpha – inside the water, but peculiarly enough he couldn’t see anything. Was Morpha invisible? Was it using some kind of camouflage…?

“Darling! Look!”

Ruto’s voice cut through Link’s mind as he turned around rapidly, wondering if the monster was trying to attack them from the rear. To his amazement, though, Ruto was pointing not at the pool but at the severed tentacle. Or what was left of it.

It had melted…or rather, it had liquefied into nothing but water. The same water that filled the sacred pool all around them. So that’s why Link couldn’t find this Morpha. It wasn’t hiding inside the pool.

It was the pool.

But then…that meant…

Just then, the room started to shake.

“Oh, shit…”

Link’s silent expletive inside his mind was hardly enough to do justice to the gravity of the situation they were in. A series of loud bursts echoed throughout the massive chamber as a series of tentacles burst from the pool in several locations, each one flailing about wildly and angrily. And these tentacles were thicker and appeared more aggressive than the ones that Link had severed only a few moments ago. In other words…Morpha was not pleased. At all.

“Ruto! Get back inside the tunnel!” He shouldn’t have brought her out here. There was no way he could protect her against so many tentacles, and there was no way she could defend herself, even with the shield and small sword. Hopefully she could get to the tunnel quickly so Link could deal with this menace and not have to worry about her.

But Ruto was slow to get up, and Link quickly saw why: the tentacle had twisted her ankle and she was struggled to even get to her feet.

“Shit!” this expletive was loud and clear, and Link said it again for good measure when one of the many tentacles that had popped up across the room started to swing downward, aimed straight at the injured Zora.

“Argh!” Link growled as he zipped over to Ruto’s side and swung his blade at the attacking tentacle. The Master Sword cut cleaning through the tip of Morpha’s appendage, generating a loud hiss as the water in the tentacle burst apart like a small bomb flower had exploded inside it. That same loud yet muted roar was heard again, and Link reflexively looked around for its source, but he couldn’t find anything except Morpha’s tentacles. What exactly was making that noise…?

“Darling!” Ruto cried, looking up at her husband-to-be. “Don’t worry about me! You have to defend yourself! I…”

“Damn it Ruto, don’t say stupid things right now!” Link snapped, not in the mood to play “my life isn’t worth defending” at the moment. “Just get back and try to crawl your way to the door. I’ll watch you and protect you.”

“But Link…”

“Just do it!”

Ruto didn’t have time to be silenced by Link’s assertiveness or respond with another personal plea before Morpha again attacked, this time with two tentacles simultaneously. Annoying, Link raised his right hand and released a stream of Din’s Fire in one tentacle’s direction while swinging his blade with his left at the other. The limb touched by Link’s blade exploded as before, while the one touched by the magic of the goddesses sizzled into vapor.

That roar again…and another pair of tentacles burst from the surprisingly calm waters of the sacred pool.

Morpha didn’t wait for very long to try attacking again, this time sending three tentacles Link’s way. The Hero of Time couldn’t even be bothered to raise the Master Sword this time: a well-aimed blast of Din’s Fire evaporated all three of them instantly. Of course, it only annoyed Link that several fresh tentacles appeared to take their place.

What next, Link thought as he tightly gripped the hilt of his sword. Four tentacles? This Morpha wasn’t exactly very smart if it was just going to send tentacles his way, adding one each tie. Then again, Link didn’t know his limit, and unless he figured out how to actually damage this creature, he was in a world of trouble…

“No! Link, behind…!”

Ruto’s abrupt warning came too late as Link felt a thick and powerful grip wrap around his waist. He looked down to see one of the tentacles tightening around his waist, moments before it suddenly lifted him into the air with the greatest of ease. This seemed Morpha wasn’t stupid, after all, not when it could distract Link so easily like that…

“Darling!” Ruto shrieked, trying to reach for her beloved with her outstretched hand. A futile gesture as Link was tossed about into the air by the flailing limb of Morpha, whipping him back and forth like a rattle. To his credit, Link did manage to keep a firm grip on the Master Sword while being thrown back and forth by Morpha’s ferocity. Was the beast trying to tear his body apart with such violent throws? Right now it was only making Link sick, but any more of this and he might as well be nothing more than a rag doll…

Suddenly, the creature’s tentacle retracted, dragging the hapless Hero of Time into the Sacred Pool’s waters. The icy cold liquid almost instantly surrounded his body as he was pulled beneath the surface, sinking at a rate that suggested the beast’s grip was still around him despite him being surrounded by the waters. The first thought that entered his mind was that Morpha was trying to drown him, but he then remembered his special clothing and held his breath. It didn’t take long for his blue tunic to cling to his skin and start the process of breathing for him.

If this was Morpha’s attempt at drowning him, it was not going to work…

Ack…agh…

The sensation hit Link like a powerful blow to the head; the rich, refreshing oxygen being pumped into his bloodstream by the blue tunic suddenly stopped, as if his entire body had been wrapped in thick hide. The cold waters around his body started to burn as his lungs swelled with stale air, unable to release his breath for fear of filling themselves with water. It took him a moment to realize that Morpha had surrounded him with the gel-like substance that had formed the tentacles, and his suit was unable to breath in any more water.

And what’s more…he was being crushed.

He felt the pinch a few moments into the drowning sensation, but it was painful enough to catch his attention. The feeling of his skin being squeezed by outside pressure, like being beaten repeatedly all over, was draped all over him inside that cold and cruel prison. Morpha wasn’t just trying to drown him…it was trying to crush him. Link was unable to breathe, and he could no longer struggle.

The life inside him was slowly being forced out of him.

No…dear gods, no…

It was then, during that hapless moment, that Link’s wide-eyed gaze saw something other than the tranquil scene of blue death before his eyes. It drifted painfully slowly into view, like a massive insect without wings. It had no definite shape, looking like a speck of blood floating aimlessly inside a pool of water. But this “speck” was far uglier than blood: it was a twisted mass of raw flesh and unspeakable magic, a formless lump that floated in the sacred pool without worry or a care. It reminded Link of the Flare Dancer cores he had seen in the Fire Temple, and the way it flexed its disgusting form in the waters told him that this “core” was exactly what he had been looking for.

Morpha…

Link didn’t know why the core had decided to show itself now, since it clearly could control the pool’s waters from afar. Maybe it had come to gloat, to witness its hated enemy die with triumph. How a hideous mass like this could possibly do something like that was left up to Link’s imagination…if he could spare the energy for that, of course.

He still had to get out of this watery grave. If he didn’t do something, Morpha was going to suffocate him…or crush him…depending on which succeeded first…and by the feel of things, he would likely be flattened before he blacked out…

“Link!”

Oh, no…Navi…she was still under Link’s hat…

“Link, what’s going on? Something’s wrong, I know it! Something’s pressing against me! Something’s pressing me!”

The tiny sound waves of Navi’s horrified cry somehow managed to reach Link’s ears through the thick gelatin that surrounded him, and he could hear every tiny tremble of horror that the fey released as Morpha’s compression was crushing her as well.

“Link! Link! It hurts! It hurts! Link! Help me! Please! Link! Liiiiiiink!”

The fairy’s painful cries somehow gave Link a bit of extra strength, a bit of clarity that he needed to focus on the task of getting out of this mess. He wasn’t going to die like this…not to a damned ugly blob like Morpha. And he was certainly not going to let it kill Navi…like Hael he would!

But what could he do? He was unable to move at all, and it wouldn’t belong before he would either break or suffocate. Even his Master Sword was useless…

Wait…the Master Sword…

If Morpha was like all of other Ganondorf’s monsters, then they might be susceptible to the temple energies. And through some miracle, Link had managed to keep a grip on his sword this entire time. It was a long shot, but better than no shot at all.

Hold on, Navi…just a little longer…

Using his remaining focus, Link called forth the energies of the Temple of Light, Forest, and Fire, ordering them to surge throughout his body and into the blade of the legendary weapon. The desperate gamble was not without its consequences, as Link could feel his strength drain from his body more quickly than before thanks to calling forth these energies. For all he knew, he was giving Morpha an enjoyable display of futility before he drew his last breath and passed away…

“Girrrrrrrraaaaaaaaarrrrgh!”

That scream again…the same scream Link had heard on the veranda a few times…this time Link heard it loud and clear as the blob-like core floating in front of Link’s eyes started to quiver angrily. Around him, the gel that firmly held Link in place began to boil, as if a boiling hot piece of molten metal had been thrust into the pool. The sound was especially prominent around the Master Sword, which glowed with a fierce light with mixtures of white, green, and red radiance. Morpha was apparently struggling to maintain its grip on the Hero of Time, but it was unable to keep the painful pinching taut…

Suddenly, the thick gel that surrounded Link shattered, breaking into a thousand pieces and allowing icy cold water to flow around the Hylian’s skin once more. Almost immediately Link’s tunic latched into his skin, and refreshing air flowed into his blood. Link’s consciousness snapped awake, his drained strength returned, and he found himself able to move again, the gelatin no longer thick enough to hinder his movements.

“Link!”

And Navi was safe as well, it seemed, if she could scream like that.

The first thing Link tried to do was swim over to Morpha, who was still roaring in pain from Link’s unexpected move. But Link’s swimming was too slow, and the core hastily retreated from the Hero of Time by darting away from the reach of the Master Sword. Angry but unable to do anything about it, Link pointed himself up and started swimming for the surface. He obviously wasn’t going to catch Morpha like this…he needed to formulate a new strategy before the creature went after him and Ruto again…

Oh, gods, Ruto…was Ruto still all right…?

Link broke the surface a few moments later and he quickly gulped in the fresh air as soon as it was safe to do so. He hurriedly looked around and saw that he had been taken quite a distance away from the veranda, but nearby one of those small stone islands was within reach. Realizing it would be safer out of the water, Link hurriedly swam over to the island and pulled himself onto it. He accidentally knocked off what appeared to be a decayed bowl and a rotten feathered quill pen, but he paid no attention to them as he stood up, the Master Sword still glowing hotly with the energies of the temple sages.

“Ruto!” he called out to the veranda, hoping she hadn’t been dragged down as well to be crushed and suffocated. “Ruto, are you there? Are you all right…?”

“Darling!” came the princess’s familiar voice. “I’m okay!” A blue hand waved from the veranda showing Link that Ruto was still very much on dry land, albeit still incapacitated with her sore ankle. The Hero of Time breathed a sigh of relief.

“Ruto! You need to get into that tunnel!” he called out. “I can’t reach you from here! If Morpha attacks you, there’s nothing I can do!”

“What happened?” Ruto asked, ignoring Link’s plea for her to take shelter inside the tunnel chamber. “I saw you pulled under and…I thought you had been killed…”

“Morpha controls this entire pond!” Link yelled back hastily, hoping a quick answer might prompt the Zora to hide. “It’s a giant blob-like mass that can somehow control the water as if it were its own body! That means it can reach anywhere…both you and me at the same time! Now get moving, before Morpha tries something else…!”

Too late.

Link suddenly felt something firm grasp at his feet, and when he looked down he was startled to see that Morpha had already made his move. A hill-like collection of water from the pond had swelled around the small island, engulfing the square stone and Link’s feet and lower legs. Now it had hardened into the same gelatin that had encased him underwater moments earlier, essentially trapping him where he stood.

Enraged, Link swung his sword at the hill, cutting through the water with all of the power of the temple sages. The gel instantly shattered again, but Morpha was apparently more resilient this time around. As soon as the gel broke, another swell of water arouse around the island and froze again, returning Link to his captive state. A second attempt at breaking the entrapment resulted in Morpha once again restoring the gel-like shackles.

But that wasn’t all that Morpha was doing. As Link desperately hacked at the swell, several tentacles burst from the waters around him, even thicker and deadlier-looking than the ones from earlier. And out of the corner of his eye, Link saw in horror as the tips of each tentacle solidified into a series of sharp daggers and spikes, much like the one that Morpha had tried to use to kill Link after extracting the Dark Link essence.

Morpha was not playing around anymore.

In a panic Link again started hacking away at the shackles of water around his legs, hearing Morpha’s pained scream with each slice, but the monster was enduring the pain to ensure that the Hero of Time was going nowhere. Realizing he couldn’t escape, Link looked up in an attempt to face the tentacles themselves, but he quickly figured out he couldn’t stop so many tentacles at once, not with his sword or with Din’s Fire. The spiked-tipped limbs were beginning to encircle the trapped Hero of Time, ready to simultaneously cut him down with one coordinated attack.

And nearby, floating a short distance away from the island, the Morpha core floated mockingly in the pool, ready to witness the demise of its hated enemy.

The color in Link’s face drained as he watched in horror while the tentacles readied their strike. He couldn’t die like this…he mustn’t die like this…but there was nothing he could do…nothing he could…

SPLASH!

No…

Link’s gaze quickly darted from Morpha’s tentacles over to the veranda. His heart filled with fear when he suspected what had happened, but his eyes matched that shock when he confirmed what was going on. It was Ruto.

She had jumped into the sacred pool.

Ruto! Stop!”

Link somehow managed to forget the sea of deadly tentacles surrounding him as he tried to call out to the Zora princess, begging her to stop. But either she couldn’t hear him or she was ignoring him. Despite her sprained ankle, she was swimming through the water with a surprising amount of speed, and in her hand Link could make out the dulled glint of his Kokiri blade. And it didn’t take a genius to realize where she was heading.

Morpha.

“No! Ruto! Don’t! Get away! Morpha will kill you! Ruto! Ruto! No!”

Regardless whether Ruto could hear him or not, it no longer mattered.

Morpha had noticed the Zora heading towards it.

5 comments:

CloudZ1116 said...

Noticed a typo, man. Shortly after your Ganondorf flashback, you have "Zelda" where I think you meant "Ruto"

Tirius said...

I've literally been waiting years for this chapter, I can't wait to see what the future brings. You have loyal fans out there, and I count myself among them. Great work, as usual.

Zeel said...

great chapter! i'm glad you've gain renewed determination in finishing this, i hope you do. I'm wondering why you didn't post the update on fanfiction but i don't really care. its more than readable here just takes some getting use to.

Thank you very much for the chapter. I ENJOYED it alot, i remember reading your story back when i was.. 15, 16? now 21 and I still am enraptured by your writing. lets hope one day it'll be finished and i can print out a copy for my grandkids. great story, awesome writing and i very much appreciate you updateing. Though i know how hard it is to do this, please continue to try, cause i can't get enough... it's like this anime Berserk and if you see the ending you'll know exactly what i mean.


Again,thank you very much, if you lived near me i'd take you out for some drinks

Trinthaita said...

I've been following this story for ten years now. I started reading this when I was 10 - now 20 years old, I still enjoy reading this. Thanks for the update... put it on fanfiction.net, and I hope one day this gets finished. Ten years of work can't go to waste.

Chris Smith said...

My friend.

This is Art of the highest caliber. Such perfection takes time.

Of course I am by no means telling you to use my words as an excuse to distance yourself from the completion of this Master Piece.

Your idea to make this story as real as you could possible make it be was a stroke of genius that truly does set this story apart from the rest of stories I am sure you yourself have read on the internet.

Nearly the whole world has heard of this Work in Progress.

I refuse to lecture you on time management as I believe art has a set pace. You have begun and I am confident you will complete this.

You have taken your break. May your imagination forever flow endlessly.


Trust your ideas and listen not to criticism. Your work is your own and there is no right or wrong way when it comes to Art.
Trust your skill. You have it and it shines brightly.

You may not think highly of your writing, but there are others who appreciate it greatly. Myself included.

Good luck.