The Far Sea: Chapter 69
ZELDA had both arms wrapped tight around the mast, as tight as she could hold on to it; it swayed back and forth sickeningly with every movement she made. From the deck it hadn't looked this high. She leaned wearily on the sail's upper crossbar, rested her chin on her forearm, and stared out over the world, wishing she could sit down. The blue-green curve of the sea stretched out before and below her, immense, misty in the far distance where it touched the paler sky. White wisps of foam on the waves mirrored white clouds above. There was nothing out there but blue and white, as far as her eyes could see.
The breeze tugged at her shirt, ruffling the salt-encrusted mess of her hair, and she tightened her grip reflexively. Her legs ached and trembled. How long had she been up here? She had no idea, but by the sun it had to be past midday.
It was lonely up here in the silence. Below on the deck, Sofia was a head of matted red hair at the wheel. Iáru had vanished into the hold; she didn't know what he was doing, but the sounds of shifting boxes had ceased quite a while ago.
She sighed and freed a hand from the mast to push her lank hair out of her eyes--doing her best not to think about the sore sunburn tingle in her face; she was sure she was going to feel it later.
Link is out here somewhere, she reminded herself grimly. They might be in trouble... lost and needing our help. She had to stay focused, for their sake. And not lose hope, no matter what that dark little voice said. After all, Iáru didn't think their little boat would have gone down. She had to trust that he was right. If only it was not so hot up here; she was sweating despite the stiff chill breeze that stung her salt-burned skin. She felt as if she was being roasted alive, starting at the head.
A shadow crossed over without warning, and she flinched against the mast and looked up in unknowing, instinctive fear. But the outstretched wings silhouetted against the sky were the wrong shape, and too small, to be Rito. The seagull glided lazily by, flapped once and circled away through the blue. She followed it with her eyes for a moment, then sighed and turned her attention back to watching the encircling sea. Nothing. Nothing but blue water from horizon to horizon, as far as she could make out. The sun burned a wide swathe of the sea into white; she squinted into the glare, blinking tears out of her eyes.
What frightened her most was that she had to work so hard to pay attention. The blue landscape all looked the same; if she wasn't very careful, she found herself looking at it, without seeing it at all. What if she missed them--if the Stormy Petrel ended up sailing right by, just because Zelda didn't care enough for her friends to keep her eyes open? What then?
Her feet were getting very painful... then again, most of her felt painful by now, for one reason or another. She shifted awkwardly, switched arms around the mast to give her aching right a rest, and shook her head to clear it.
A flutter made her jump. The seagull had landed on the crossbar, only a few feet away from her.
It was the first time she had ever seen one this close to. Of course she had seen hundreds of them in Saria, big white birds with gray backs and black-and-white barred tail feathers: soaring crooked-winged over rooftops, or squabbling on the harbourside over the foul remnants of day-old fishing catches. She had always rather liked them, with their comical paddle feet and golden dragon eyes. This seagull looked bigger than she remembered, though, with a black back, not a gray; and its eyes, when it looked at her, were not yellow but a curious shade of blue-green, like the sea when sunlight struck it. Perhaps it was a different kind of gull.
She looked away and scanned the horizon again. A streak of white on the blue caught her attention--she stiffened, hope and excitement and fear all rushing through her blood at the same time--but slumped back a moment later. It was just a breaking wave. In a few moments the white splash drifted apart and faded into blue again.
The seagull raised its wings suddenly, and gave four or five loud mewing cries. Aarh-aarh-aarh! The shrill sound went through her like an auger, making her grit her teeth. Its beak was open wide, facing her, revealing the mouth a splash of scarlet, and the crimson needle of a tongue standing up, and the pinkish cavern of the throat.
"Go away," she said.
The bird looked at her out of one green eye then the other, twisting its head from side to side with quick, fierce, jerky movements. It shuffled its feet on the worn and slippery wood of the crossbar, flapping awkwardly to keep its balance, then hop-jumped a little closer to her. Its body was longer than her forearm. The golden beak was stout, hook-tipped, and as long as her thumb. There was a brilliant red spot on the lower mandible, two thirds of the way along; she had never noticed that on the town gulls.
"I don't have anything for you, you know."
The seagull eyed her for a moment more, then turned its head to peck deftly at the base of its wing. Over the breast on the left hand side was a small rusty stain: dried blood, crusted on the disarrayed feathers there.
"Hey, blondie!" Iáru's voice, drifting up from below. "See anything?"
"Not yet," she called down.
"Well, keep your eyes peeled--if you spot anything, sing out!"
"'Kay!" She turned her attention back to scanning the waters, feeling a little annoyed that he had had to remind her. What was a bit of tiredness? Couldn't she keep her mind on this task for five minutes? Was that all her friends were worth to her?
A gust of wind ruffled folds of her clothes, and the sail below her made a dry snapping sound like the cracking of a brittle branch. She leaned her elbows on the crossbar to try and take some of the weight off her feet, and groaned quietly to herself.
When the seagull screeched again, she winced, feeling irritation more than anything.
"Look--I don't have anything. Go away, will you?"
It cocked its head again at the sound of her voice, then darted suddenly with its head at the wood of the crossbar. The hooked beak tore up the patina, made a pale mark on the dark surface. She considered edging over to try and shoo it off, but it was just out of her reach where she was, and she didn't trust herself on the slippery span of wood while away from the mast's support. Iáru might clamber about on the Stormy Petrel's rigging as if it were nothing, but she wasn't him, and anyway, it was a long way to fall for the sake of a seagull.
She looked away again for a moment, then, unable to help herself, glanced back at the bird. It was giving her one of the most knowing looks she had ever seen from an animal.
"You're starting to creep me out," she said.
The seagull tipped its head back and crowed a third time: aarh-aarh-aarh. Suddenly it spread its wings to their full extent. The little scab of dark blood looked very black against the brilliant white of its plumage in the sun. It hopped a little closer. Now it was almost within arm's reach, should she reach out. Its green, wild eyes were fixed on her with an inexplicable intensity.
Just when she was beginning to feel as if she couldn't take it any more--she would have to chase the thing away--it shifted its feet on the wood, then leaped and soared away. It circled her twice and then beat its long wings to rise up and away, gliding through the air. She watched it go; it wheeled, silhouetted against the setting sun, and then turned away to the southwest. She kept her eyes on it as it soared into distance, making sure that it wasn't about to turn and come back at her for an attack run. The seagull dipped suddenly and went down, a small white speck in the blue. It seemed to settle.
Zelda blinked tears out of her eyes, staring into the sun's glare. Something was casting a long dark shadow on the water. It was deep in the light, and far away enough that she couldn't make out the actual object: just the black mark bobbing on the waves.
"Hey!" she shouted in rising excitement. "Hey! Over there! There's something over there! I think it's a boat!"
Iáru sprang up out of the hold and ran to the helm, pushing Sofia aside as he grabbed at the wheel. "Where?" he shouted up at her.
"Turn to the right!" She leaned forward and kept her streaming eyes fixed on the tiny strip of shadow, certain that if she blinked she would lose it amidst the waves and the glitter. She wouldn't have seen it at all had not the seagull drawn her eyes that way. "A bit more! That's it, now we're heading straight for it!"
A few minutes later Iáru shouted up to her again. "I see it! Well spotted, blondie! You can come down now!" He spun the wheel and corrected their course a little, turning the boat toward the light of the setting sun.
Zelda's legs felt as heavy as lead as she started to climb down the mast; they were stiff with pain and weariness. She moved slowly, pausing with each handhold. The dizzy height no longer held any fear for her, not after she had been stuck up there all afternoon; all she wanted was to sit down in the shade somewhere and have a long cool drink. It didn't have to be anything fancy--even a bucket of fresh water over the head sounded good. Sofia caught her as she stumbled down. "Are you all right?" the other woman asked.
She smiled, and then winced as her lips cracked. "I think so. Is there anything to drink?"
"Warm water, in the cabin." Sofia held her shoulders and looked at her. "You know, you'll have a wonderful case of sunburn tonight. Your face is scarlet."
"I know, and my legs feel like jelly. I wish I had been down on deck instead."
"No you don't, it's been hot as Gaelaidh in August down here. At least you were up in the breeze." Sofia grimaced.
"Hoy, you two!" Iáru yelled. "We're coming up on it now. Stop gassing and get me the boathook. And a couple of coils of rope!"
"Aye-aye, captain!" they shouted back together, giggling.
There was no sign of life as they approached, aside from the seagull that perched rakishly atop the slender mast. The sail had been tied up and fastened; the boom hung free, swinging back and forth through a wide arc as the white skiff turned, its flanks glistening with dried salt crystals. It was drifting gently with the current, rocking back and forth over the steady swells. Both the girls hung off the bow, trying to see into the other boat as it came nearer. It looked utterly abandoned.
Iáru cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted: "AHOY!" There was no answer; he hefted the boathook, looking grim. "All right, ginger, take the wheel for a moment. Steady as she goes now." Leaning out over the water, he extended the hook and deftly caught one of the rowlocks of the little skiff; with a heave he pulled it in until it thudded gently against the Stormy Petrel's side. Its bottom was awash with seawater. Something wet and black glistened there, sloshing softly with the movement of the boat. Iáru cast a rope around its stubby prow and made it fast, then jumped over the side and splashed down in eight inches of water. He knelt there, piling up the sodden folds of cloth to see what was beneath.
"How long ago were they lost?" he asked, looking up.
Zelda had to think about it. "Two or three days--I think three." She clutched the wooden railing, frantic to see what was going on; Sofia was trying to push past her, too. They fought each other for a better view.
"Three days?" There was surprise in his voice.
"Why? What's the matter? What's happened?"
"Well, I'd have guessed it a week, maybe more." He stood with a limp bundle in his arms. "This one's half dead of exposure."
"Oh Nayru, it's Link," Zelda said through numb lips; the red hair was unmistakable, even matted and caked with salt. Iáru slung the body over his shoulder and climbed back up onto the deck of the Stormy Petrel. Salt water puddled out across the planks as he laid the Hero down. She wept as she sat by him and pulled the sodden hair back from his face; his skin had burned, and peeled, and burned again. He did not stir at her touch. She called him, then shook him.
Iáru was lowering himself into the skiff again. "You, ginger," he said to Sofia. "Get the dipper, and some water. See if you can get something into him--and stop her crying, we haven't got time for that."
"Goddess damn you," Sofia shouted, her own eyes glistening, "don't you have any heart?"
His voice was like a whip. "I said we don't have time for that! You want to save your friend, do as I say!" There was a splash, as he jumped back down into the swamped skiff.
Sofia brought the water. They propped him up and set a cup to his parched and peeling lips, trying to rouse him, trying to persuade him to drink. His eyelids trembled, and Zelda stroked his cheek. "Link," she called softly, over and over again. "Link, come on, wake up..." It seemed an age before there was any response, but at last she managed to get a little of the water into his mouth. He made a small noise, somewhere between a cough and a choke.
"Don't drown him," Sofia said, touching her arm.
"What in the Dark World is this?" Iáru was kneeling, a second bundle in his arms; this one shrouded in dripping black cloth, the cloth that had been lapping in the bottom of the boat. He looked up at them, his shadowy eyes wide. "This one's not human."
Sofia ran to the rail. "It's Dark! Is he all right?"
"Frankly I've no idea. Should there be a heartbeat? Because I can't find one."
"That's normal," Zelda said, looking up. She felt light-headed and silly now with relief; she wanted to jump up and sing. Alive... they were both alive. They'd found them in time. The Knights were reunited.
Iáru passed Dark up to them and then rooted around in the water at the bottom of the boat. He found a leather bag and tossed it up on deck; when Zelda looked inside, she had to wrinkle her nose at the smell. The sweet cakes she had given Link were stale, soggy with salt water, splotched with big green patches of mold. She threw the vile mess back overboard and let the sea take it.
"This yours as well?" Iáru asked, climbing back over the rail with something blue clutched in his hand. "The black one was lying on it."
Zelda took the ocarina in her hands and tipped it back and forth. Seawater leaked out of the holes. "I've never seen this before," she said, puzzled. "They certainly didn't have it with them when they left us."
"Well, they didn't get it from old Finne." Iáru looked at her for a long moment, then turned his back and busied himself with the skiff, lashing it securely to the side of the Stormy Petrel.
Link... wake up, Link...
He knew that name from somewhere.
Of course... it was his.
He knew that voice, too. It was a good voice, a voice he'd been hoping to hear for a long time now. He had dreamed of that voice.
...Now, what came next?
"Water." His own voice was a cracked whisper, hissing through lips parched and gritty with salt. He could barely move his dried tongue around the sounds. "Please... water..."
Someone was holding him up; a cup was put to his lips and he drank, greedily, letting the cool liquid soak the anguished tissues of his mouth, until abruptly it was taken from him. He cried out weakly, wanting nothing more in the world than to have it back.
"You give him too much too soon and he'll just throw it back up again," said an unfamiliar voice. "Get him below now with the other one." A cool hand touched his burning forehead, smoothing back his hair. "He'll be all right, given time. Good thing we found them when we did; he wouldn't have lasted much longer."
Link opened his eyes a little. He was being carried: someone's arms were locked under his. A pale gold twist of hair dangled, tickled his forehead. "Zelda?" he whispered.
"Ssh. It's all right now, you're with us."
Am I awake now? he wanted to ask, but he lacked the strength. He felt himself slipping, and tried to hold on, to cling to the dissolving shreds of consciousness, but they eluded him, slid by like shafts of moonlight through a cloudy sky. When he opened his eyes again he was looking up at wooden boards a few feet above his head. The soft light of a lantern thinned the gloom.
"I'm here, Link." Something moved, that he had at first taken to be a shadow. She put her hand on his cheek for a moment; her fingers soothed the stinging in his salt-burned skin.
He smiled faintly. "I'm awake," he whispered, knowing it to be true.
"Yes, thank Nayru. Hush now; you need to rest."
"The Wind Fish... did you see it?"
There was silence for a while, and darkness. He opened his eyes and found himself covered with a blanket, a damp cloth draped across his forehead. "Zelda?" he whispered into the fog. It seemed urgent that he tell her.
"Zelda, we went to Koholint..."
Iáru had spent the afternoon clearing a space on the floor of the Stormy Petrel's tiny hold; boxes had been stacked up to the low ceiling, ropes and nets had been piled in all available niches. Now, he dragged out armfuls of musty blankets and furs from some forgotten corner, and the girls made up as comfortable a bed as they could. They closed the hatch and dimmed the lantern, leaving Iáru to his business up on deck. Link drifted in and out of consciousness, burning with a fierce fever. Beside him Dark lay cool and still as stone.
"I think he just needs time," Zelda said to Sofia. "After all, we've seen it before; he can be wounded to death and bounce back the next day. As long as he has darkness, and quiet, he'll survive." She sighed. "To be honest I am more worried about Link."
"What was all that about wind and fishes?" the other woman asked, wringing out a cloth.
"Just a fever-dream, I think. Koholint is an old sailor's tale--a magic island that is never in the same place twice. He told me the story once." The Princess frowned and looked at the thing Iáru had given her: the blue crystal ocarina. She turned it over, admiring the delicate carvings on its shining surface. "What I would like to know is where this came from."
"He told you," came a weak whisper. "Koholint."
Dark's eyes were half-open, gleaming crimson beneath lowered lids.
"What do you mean?" Sofia said quietly, leaning close.
"Heard you not what he said? Thought I 'twas perfectly clear. We went to Koholint." He sighed faintly and closed his eyes again.
The two girls looked at each other, nonplussed. "Dark, that's a myth," Zelda said as kindly as she could. "Koholint doesn't exist."
"You are at one and the same time entirely correct... and hopelessly misinformed..." His voice trailed off in another sigh.
"What do you mean?"
There came no further answer.
"Been out in the sun too long, both of them," Sofia muttered. She took the wet cloth from Link's forehead and handed Zelda a fresh one. The Princess put it absently to one side.
"Dark?" she called softly.
"Let him rest, Zelda." Sofia touched her shoulder. "Let them both rest. Maybe they'll make more sense in the morning."
Iáru would not sail any further with the last of the day's light, so they made themselves as comfortable as they could in the limited space of the hold, and settled down for the night. With the hatch closed it was hot and stuffy; eventually they just left it open and let in the starlight and cool sea air. Zelda slept sitting up, her back pressed to a wooden crate and her knees jammed against a barrel. A net full of pots and pans was suspended a few inches above her head. Her sunburned skin itched and burned, driving her to distraction. It did not make for a very restful night.
She woke abruptly; it was early morning, and what sky she could see through the hatch was brilliantly pink. Iáru's sleek head was silhouetted against the light. "Rise and shine, darlings," he said pleasantly. "There's work to be doing. I want at least one of you up here in the next thirty seconds."
"You go," Sofia mumbled, trying to turn over.
Zelda groaned and clambered across recumbent bodies, having to force herself to move her cramped and weary limbs. She couldn't help stepping on Sofia, who had taken the last remaining space just below the hatch; the Gerudo woman muttered a curse word in her native tongue. "And the same to you," the Princess said crisply, hauling herself onto the ladder.
Iáru was up in the rigging, doing mysterious things with ropes. He threw an end down to her wordlessly. She caught it and looked at it for a moment. "What do I do with this?"
"Pull it tight."
She complied, backing off across the deck. "And then?"
"Hold that pose." He scrambled along the cross-bar to tighten something at one corner of the sail. Zelda watched, amazed at his agility; he was balancing without any visible difficulty on a round wooden spar no more than a hand's width across. The willowy Zora form seemed to lend itself to acrobatics.
Iáru had finished whatever adjustment he was making; he straightened up and trotted back along the cross-bar to the mast. Another rope was looped up there; he shook it out and began to untangle it. "Who is he?" he called down suddenly.
She smiled. She was beginning to understand Iáru's way of speaking. It was not that he was rude: unlike almost everyone else she knew, he really did say no more than he thought was necessary. "He's Link," she shouted up, giving the Zora a taste of his own medicine.
"One of those?"
"Sorry? I mean, one of what?"
A rope came snaking down; Iáru followed it, climbing down the mast with liquid grace. He took back the rope he had thrown to her, jerked it taut and made it fast to a metal cleat, lashing it around and around. "A Hero," he said, as his webbed fingers worked.
She looked at him in surprise and dawning interest. "Yes. Yes, he is."
"Figures," Iáru said. He turned and went to the wheel.
"Why do you say that?" Zelda called after him.
The silvery shoulders lifted for a moment. "Breakfast's in the cabin."
She walked across the deck and stood beside him. "Why did you say 'figures'?" she repeated softly.
Iáru's dark eye glanced her way. "He's got a good sword and he's seen a bit of action with it. Plus, he's with you. It was a guess, darling."
"Oh." Zelda waited for a moment more, then turned and went back towards the cabin. The door stood open, swinging gently in the breeze. The Stormy Petrel was on the move again. She paused, thinking for a moment, and turned back to him. "Where are we going?"
"Dragon Roost Isle. Where d'you think?"
She had hoped, but she hadn't been sure. "Thank you," she said, meaning it from the bottom of her heart. "We're really going to be in your debt for all of this."
"We'll call it quits, I think." He moved the wheel. "But don't think I'll be your spokesman to the birds, because it wouldn't do you any good. They're not fond of me and mine, and frankly the feeling's mutual."
"Oh," Zelda said. She thought about it for a moment and decided that it didn't matter. They'd got this far; she and Sofia had survived a shipwreck, and then they'd all found each other again in the middle of the ocean, against unbelievable odds. By comparison, getting the ship back sounded easy. They would be all right. Somehow, they'd sort it out.
"You want to watch that other one," Iáru said softly.
"I think you know what I'm talking about."
She stared at his back, feeling a creeping sensation on her skin. "Suppose I don't," she said.
"Then you'd be a fool, me dear, and I really don't think that's what you are. You know to whom I refer. Do you think that's a nice civilized Hylian you have there? There's something animal in that one. I had it in my arms yesterday and I know what it was I held. You may have trained the beast, but you haven't tamed it yet."
"I don't think I like your tone," Zelda said coldly.
"What a shame. Well, I'm warning you all the same. You watch yourself, or you'll get bit."
She closed the cabin door behind her and looked around. Breakfast, as he had described it, seemed to be the box of hard ship's biscuit sitting open on the table. Zelda grimaced as she filled her pockets. The stuff was about the most unappetising concoction she had ever tried to eat; it was as hard as oak and contained just about as much flavour. She found a battered pewter jug and filled it with water from the cask in the corner, wondering irritably why everyone she met seemed so intent on making her doubt Dark's loyalty. He had proved himself just as often as any of them.
Armed with what might possibly pass as food, she headed back to the hold. Sofia dragged herself out as she approached; her red hair was loose and hung bedraggled around her shoulders.
"Good morning," Zelda said. "Want some breakfast?" She handed over a heavy cake. Sofia looked at it with resigned dislike.
"Thank you, I suppose."
"Isn't it lovely?" The Princess sat down on the wooden planks, already warming from the first touch of the sun, and broke a piece of the unpleasant biscuit for herself. "Mmm," she said, closing her eyes. "Magnificent. My compliments to the chef."
"Hoy," Iáru called from the helm. "There's some nets down below. You dislike my food so much, go catch your own."
"You're not saying you actually like this stuff, are you?" Zelda shouted back. "It tastes like sawdust!"
"I wouldn't know, darling, not being in the habit of eating sawdust myself."
Zelda would have responded, but at that moment there was a flutter that made her jump. A seagull soared down and landed heavily on the deck a few feet from them both. The tip of one long wing had actually brushed her cheek; she put one hand up to rub at the place.
"Is that the one that was bothering you yesterday?" Sofia asked, leaning forward.
"How would I know? They all look the same to me." She moved her foot towards it sharply, expecting it to startle and fly off, but it just hopped back a few inches so that it was out of range. "It's really tame," she said, surprised.
"Is that bird back again?" Iáru said. "Chuck something at it."
"No! Don't be cruel." Zelda broke off another piece of the hard biscuit and gently tossed it onto the deck. The seagull darted forward at once and speared it, retreating to a safe distance before it swallowed its prize.
"Don't feed the bloody birds!"
"What's wrong with feeding it?" she asked. "There's plenty going spare."
"It'll crap all over my boat. And then it'll fly off and bring back all its mates, and they'll crap all over my boat."
Maliciously, Sofia threw the seagull another bit of biscuit.
The seagull seemed to appreciate their attention; for it took up residence. When Zelda came back up for water, a half-hour or so later, it had taken to perching on the wheel. Iáru would take a vicious swipe at it which the bird would dodge with ease; it would circle the boat once or twice and, the moment he let his guard down, there it would be, sweeping down to settle there and begin the game again. Sofia was sitting cross-legged in the shade of the cabin, saying nothing but evidently gaining great amusement from the whole thing. He cursed the bird with an assortment of vile names in various languages, none of which had any noticeable effect.
She filled her pitcher in the cabin and went back down without speaking; Iáru was preoccupied with his war against the avian invader, and she didn't want to further stoke his anger. Ducking low, she climbed over the tangles of blankets they had left strewn about the hold, and knelt down beside Link. His fever had gone down during the night; he slept on peacefully.
Gently she woke him and held a cup to his lips. He drank, and then opened his eyes and looked up at her. They were clear, free from the fog of sickness that had clouded them last night, and she exhaled in relief.
"How are you feeling now?" she said softly.
"Zelda?" His voice was weak but steady. "Farore, it is you..." He took a breath. "Thought I might have been dreaming again."
"Link, I'm so sorry we left you. It was a mistake, an accident. We were attacked..."
"I know. We saw the birds." He smiled. "How did you escape?"
"It's a long story," Zelda said, not wanting to tell him that they were heading straight back into the hands of the Rito. "Link, we've found a Zora! His name is Iáru--this is his boat!"
"Have you asked him yet? About the Medallion?"
"Sort of--he hasn't really said much about it. But I'm sure he'll help," she added.
"That's good..." He closed his eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said tenderly. "You're tired. Get some rest." He was already asleep; she tucked the blanket up around his shoulders and smoothed his matted hair. It was in an awful state. Nayru knew how they'd ever get the tangles out; they might have to cut it.
She stood up and stepped over him, moving further into the darkest corner of the hold, where a stack of barrels cut off most of the light from the open hatch. A hunched shape was curled there, swathed in blankets.
"I need to speak to you," Zelda said.
The shadowy head lifted. Twin gleams of crimson burned in the darkness.
It had been days since she had last seen him. And suddenly, she felt as if she were seeing him through new and different eyes. Something animal, Iáru had said, and now she saw it for herself. Something savage was in that look, in the tense coiled silence. By Nayru, she thought, chilled, is he really this alien?
"What?" came the soft, whispering voice.
She breathed in, gathering her thoughts. She thought of him in the Kakariko inn, with the snow drifting down outside, then she thought of him at the Yule ball shy and vulnerable as he danced with Sofia. She thought of him as an ally, a friend. Then she reached into her pocket and brought out the blue crystal ocarina.
"Would you care to explain this?"
He took it silently.
"Talk to me," Zelda said.
Dark raised his face toward her. "Do you know what it is?"
"I can guess." She sat and hugged her knees to her chest. "Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the Ocarina of Time lost centuries ago? So how does it come to be lying in the bottom of your boat?" She waited, then sighed. "Dark... help me out a little. I can't talk to Link; he's sick and exhausted. Tell me what happened to you both. Please."
"He told you last night." Dark was running his thin fingers over the ocarina's carved surface.
"You didn't go to Koholint," she said flatly. "You can't have. It doesn't exist."
"Then since you know so much, you tell me how we came by this."
She looked at him levelly. "Are you saying you really went to the island of Koholint?"
"We told you. He told you. I told you. How many times must we say it?" He was fingering out a tune now, shaping the notes without playing them. Suddenly she wanted to snatch his toy away from him--to grab his collar, shake him, make him pay attention. Some instinct told her it would not be a good idea.
Instead, she sat back. "All right," she said quietly. "So how did you get the ocarina?"
"It was given to us."
"By whom?" She waited. "Dark, for Nayru's sake!"
"By the one who took it out of Hyrule in the first place. We went to Koholint. We met Hyrule's third Hero. He gave us the Ocarina in order that we might wake the Wind Fish and leave the island. We did as we had to." His eyes flamed. "Does that please you? Are you satisfied? Then go away and let me be. I am tired, and I wish to rest."
"I heard some of that," Sofia said as the Princess climbed slowly up the wooden ladder. The red haired woman was sitting cross-legged on the deck, tossing bits of horrible biscuit to the seagull. She raised one eyebrow mildly. "What's got into him, I wonder?"
"I don't know," Zelda muttered, slumping down on the boards. "I'm going to leave him alone until he is in a better temper."
"You may have to wait a long time."
She sighed at that and rolled over to lie on her front.
They stayed for a while in companionable silence, watching the seagull race about after the crumbs Sofia threw across the deck.
"I think it is the same one," Zelda said eventually. She sat up again curiously as something caught her attention. "Yes, it is--look, there's the little wound on its chest."
"Hmm." Sofia broke off another piece of biscuit, and ate it herself. "I wonder why it's stayed around..."
"Because you keep bloody feeding it!" Iáru yelled from the helm.
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