Chapter 17: Link's Rescue
Kelli charged through the door, nearly ripping it from its hinges, and raced back outside, taking the stairs two at a time. As she wove through the heart of Kakariko, ducking and weaving between the traffic of Hylian and Goron defenders, she frantically mulled over her options for aiding Link. The doctor had stated that Link was suffering from an illness unknown to any Hylian healer, and which even the famed blue potion could not purge. If Link was to survive, Kelli would have to seek out a medicine even more powerful than a blue potion. But, where would she find such a potent concoction? At first, the task seemed hopeless; but she shook these grim thoughts from her mind and forced herself to concentrate. Even in its ravaged state, it was no secret that Hyrule contained many resources. Could the other races of Hyrule possess medicines that the Hylians didn't?
Since Impa was still missing, inquiring about the Sheikahs' healing arts was not possible. The Gorons were well known for being as solid in health and in body as the mountain they called home, so there was likely no help to be found there. And, if the Zoras had anything that might save the dying Link, Ruto surely would have mentioned it by now.
What about the Gerudo, or maybe the Kokiri? Could they have the medicines we need?
It seemed possible. For so many years, neither tribe could be safely approached by outsiders in most circumstances. And, even now, the Hylians knew very little about either the forest children or the desert women. Maybe one of those tribes possessed some means to save Link? The possibility sparked a glimmer of hope in Kelli, but it began to dim almost immediately. Even with Sunfire, travelling to either the Kokiri Forest or the Gerudo Fortress and returning might take days. Reaching the Gerudo Valley would be especially dangerous, since she'd have to cross the monster patrolled Hyrule Field and get past whatever evils surely lurked in the desert lands. The journey to the Kokiri Forest would be much shorter but, if her hunt took her to the Lost Woods, then the time she hoped to save would likely be wasted twice over navigating the sylvan labyrinth.
And, if she came away from either destination empty-handed…she could not finish the thought, but yet another grim musing sprang to mind nonetheless. Ever since Ganondorf's banishment, relations between the Gerudo and the rest of Hyrule had greatly improved, and trade began in earnest as the desert thieves became merchants. The Gerudo could create many wondrous elixirs from the exotic plants of the desert, but nothing equaling, much less surpassing, the blue potion had ever been sold by the Gerudo.
As secretive as the Gerudo could be, they'd never be silent when there was money to be made.
And, upon further reflection, the young Sky Guardian was forced to admit that the Kokiri Forest didn't seem any more promising. Granted, the "Source of Life" lived up to its reputation, but she already knew that there were no healing plants in the Kokiri Forest which could not be found elsewhere. Indeed, all manner of healing herbs in Hyrule had been documented and experimented with to create the strongest medicines known. And, thus far, the blue potion was the finest concoction yet produced.
But, Hyrule was hardly the only country experimenting in the healing arts.
During her adventures abroad, Kelli learned the hard way that there were some other powerful remedies available in Mayia. Yet, traveling there and back could take weeks. She rather doubted that Link had that kind of time. And, even if she did reach Mayia quickly enough, she probably wouldn't be able to afford the medicine anyway. As Kelli recalled, the merchants in Mayia had a bad habit of raising their prices at the worst possible times; and, if they did have such valuable medicine, it would surely be very expensive. Still, the young Sky Guardian seemed to have only one choice.
It was dangerous, but Kelli had managed to survive many hair-raising escapades over the years. She only hoped that her luck wouldn't fail her now.
"Where exactly are we going next, Kelli?" Vira wondered.
"Well," Kelli began, trying to keep a hint of anxiety from her tone, "We already know that no Hylian doctor can treat Link. So, our only real option is to look elsewhere."
"Yeah, I figured. What about the Kokiri Forest? It has all kinds of mushrooms, herbs, and other plants that could be made into medicine! Or, maybe the Gerudo Fortress? They might be able to make what we need from those desert herbs that they were selling before all this trouble began."
"Sorry, but I don't think either would help. From what Saria told me, the plants in the forest can grow elsewhere. If they could be made into something stronger than a blue potion, I think someone would have managed it by now. We'd likely be wasting time going there there. And, the Gerudo Fortress is way too far. Most likely, it's controlled by the monsters as well. Besides, if the Gerudo could make something stronger than a blue potion, they would've started selling it long ago."
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. Frankly, I'm at a loss. What do you have in mind?"
Boy, are you in for a surprise, Kelli mused unhappily.
"Well," Kelli began, weighing her words as she spoke them, "The way I see it, we have only one choice. I'm thinking we may have to leave Hyrule for a while."
Vira nearly fell out of the air.
"WHAT?" the fairy screeched at the top of her tiny lungs. "But, we don't know what's out there! I know we've left the kingdom once before, but back then, we actually knew what we were doing!"
"I know," Kelli replied, painfully aware of just ironic those words were in the face of her plan to venture blindly into the unknown. "But, I feel it's our best chance to find the medicine Link needs. We already know that nothing in Hyrule will help him, and travelling to Mayia would take too long. So, this is the only option we have."
"Well… Alright. Just promise me that you'll be—EEEK!"
Before the purple fairy could finish her sentence, a sudden, chilly wind erupted from nowhere and shrieked over the village. Vira latched onto Kelli's hair to keep from blowing away but, within seconds, her teeth were chattering and tiny icicles had formed on her wings. Kelli, nearly sent sprawling by the gale, wrapped her arms around her torso in a vain attempt to ward off the cold. And, the icy gale bore down upon the rest of the village as well. Some children and elders had been blown clean off their feet, window shutters and loose roof slats were torn free, the windmill blades spun wildly until they blurred to invisibility and the Gorons, who liked the cold about as much as they did Dodongos, began shivering wretchedly.
"What the—? You've g-got to be kidding me!" Kelli exclaimed in bewilderment as she too shivered. "We j-just cleansed the Fortress of Ice! Where in b-blazes is this coming f-from?"
"I d-don't know, but look up!" Vira shouted over the gale, gesturing towards the sky. Kelli then followed the fairy's gaze and found that the sky, which had been clear and sunny a moment ago, was now overcast with grimly leaden clouds. Before Kelli could even believe what her eyes were telling her, the gale became laden with falling snow, transforming the wind into a veritable blizzard.
"Oh, th-this just gets better and better," Kelli uttered sarcastically, her words barely audible over the wind.
"B-But what's causing this?" Vira asked through chattering teeth. "It's the middle of summer."
"It's g-gotta be the J-Jewel of Ice. T-The Zoras' waterfall s-stopped when the J-Jewel of Wind was c-cursed, right? The J-jewel of Ice must be c-cursed too."
"Oh no! Th-Then that means—"
"The curse has c-caused it to summon a b-blizzard. If we don't b-break the c-curse, the b-blizzard will k-keep getting stronger u-until it flattens the village."
"But w-we haven't any idea w-where the jewel is!"
"True. L-Let's try f-finding the d-direction the wind is c-coming from."
"And w-would you look at th-that. It's coming f-from behind the w-windmill. Right where w-we were h-headed."
With that, the young Sky Guardian bent into the wind and, with Vira clinging to her for dear life, trudged into the teeth of the gale. With each step, the blizzard seemed to gain in force, icy blasts clawing into Kelli's eyes every time she tried to glance upward. However, as she trudged onward, she noticed that the sound of the windmill's furiously spinning blades grew louder.
"I th-think it might b-be coming from behind th-the windmill!" Vira shouted, her words nearly lost to the wind.
"I think y-you might be r-right!" Kelli bellowed in reply. "Let's g-get up th-there!"
The two laboriously made their way up to the windmill, fighting their way through the fierce wind step by step. As they climbed, Kelli stole occasional glances back at the village and saw, to her dismay, that the blizzard was, indeed, slowly gaining strength. The small carpet of ice crystals was now ankle deep, and the wind howled all the more furiously, kicking up blinding clouds of ivory dust. If the blizzard remained unchecked for much longer, the village would be covered in snow and ice, and its people might very well have to flee…like as not, into the waiting arms of the monsters. Yet, if they stayed, they'd likely be no better off. The village's crops surely couldn't grow in such conditions, and the water supply would likely freeze solid. What's more, many villagers and soldiers could lose fingers, toes, or even entire limbs to frostbite. Not long after that, people would be dying from hunger or the cold; and Link would freeze to death before he could ever wake from his coma. That grim portent spurred Kelli onward and, before long, she had circled around to the back of the windmill. Ultimately, she came to a sight that evoked equal parts fond memories of the past and grim promises of the future: the fence.
The lands beyond the northeast boundaries of the village, and beyond Hyrule itself, lay beyond that rough wooden barrier…as did too, apparently, the source of the blizzard.
Kelli could see little more than ten feet beyond the fence, but she knew the familiar, seemingly benign vista of trees and grass was still there. She and Judo had come here to see it often enough, when no one was watching.
Everyone had said that nobody who crossed the fence had come back alive, but Kelli and Judo had done so.
After all, that was how she got saddled with the duties of being the Guardian of the Sun.
The experience had been harrowing, but it didn't stop Kelli from betting Judo five rupees that she'd be the first of the pair to dare the unknown lands a second time.
Me and my big mouth!
Well, she won the bet. Hopefully, she'd live long enough to collect…and, Judo was still around to pay up.
Still, the wind was clearly coming from the veiled horizon of the unknown; and, she would seek it out. Before she could attempt to climb over, however, a masculine voice called out to her.
"L-Lady Kelli! Where are you g-going?" a nearby soldier inquired, practically screaming so his words were not lost to the wind.
"To the l-lands beyond that f-fence, of course," Kelli replied, hoping she looked more confident than she felt.
"W-WHAT? Are y-you crazy? N-Nobody who c-crosses that f-fence has ever come b-back!"
Kelli considered mentioning that she herself had done so, but decided she couldn't afford to waste anymore time.
"I kn-know that. Don't even th-think about trying to s-stop me. I have a strong h-hunch that that's where the s-source of this blizzard is. I h-have to find it, o-or we'll all f-freeze to death."
"Well… Alright, I'll admit th-that you're p-probably right. Just be v-very careful. We m-might be a-able to hold the v-village against the monsters, b-but I don't like our odds i-if we lose y-you too."
"I u-understand. When I w-was little, n-nobody really knew w-what was o-out there. I d-don't suppose th-that's changed while I w-was gone?"
"N-Not really. This path h-has been sealed off f-for centuries; and ever s-since, few p-people have left Hyrule's borders. All we kn-know are a couple r-routes to Mayia as well as M-Mayia itself. L-Like I said, a-anybody who c-climbed the f-fence never c-came back."
"I see. That figures."
"However, th-there has always been a rumor that s-some of those unknown lands w-were once part of our k-kingdom. T-The Royal Library, b-before the m-monsters b-burned it down, h-had books that b-backed up that s-story, we've c-come to call it Lost Hyrule."
"Lady Kelli, as I s-said before, if you m-must go there, tread cautiously. Goddesses know what d-dangers lie out there."
"Don't w-worry. I will."
"J-Just how are you planning t-to get through, though?"
"Well, the f-first time I did that, I c-climbed over. Now, though, I h-have a better id-dea."
Before the guard could summon a reply to the young Sky Guardian's startling declaration, Kelli gave the Flame Staff a twirl and flung a fireball at the fence. It burst into flames almost instantly, the blaze greedily chewing a gap in the sturdy barricade. The charred wood crumbled into ash, opening a gap.
"Oh wow," the soldier commented, his eyes widening. "I'd ask y-you to use that th-thing on the snow around h-here, but you could accidentally s-set the whole p-place on fire."
"Right. I'll b-be back as soon as I c-can."
With that, Kelli flung one handful of snow after another onto the flames until they were doused, and then proceeded through the smoldering gap.
On the other side, Kelli found herself in a snow-covered forest, with the winds of the blizzard still raging at her as though attempting to force her backwards. Even with the snow, however, Kelli still knew where she was. She had been in this area once before, with Judo, when the two had first discovered the Sun Sword and Sun Shield. Heady with the spirit of adventure, they had climbed the fence and ventured into the unknown. They hadn't planned to go far but, as excited as they were, they pressed further and further into the mysterious lands beyond Hyrule's borders. Within less than an hour, however, the children had strayed upon unstable ground and found themselves plunging into the cave, illuminated only by the faint sunlight shining through the hole through which the two children had fallen. That cave, Kelli now knew, was the Sun Shrine, which held the sword and shield she now wielded. The recollection caused Kelli to feel another pang of longing, and she wished that she could search for more traces of that journey she had taken with her missing friend so long ago. But, she knew that finding anything in the current weather conditions would be impossible. She'd be digging through layers and layers of snow for hours until her limbs fell off from frostbite.
Although Kelli clearly remembered the wondrous Sun Shrine, her memory failed her when she tried to recall its location. She would probably have known the entrance when she saw it, if not for the blanket of snow covering everything. Still, she continued to scan the horizon, searching for anything familiar amidst the relentlessly biting winds. Although she could not be certain, but a feeling in her gut was telling Kelli that the source of the blizzard was within the shrine.
"Vira… I think we sh-should go to th-the Sun Shrine," she shouted over the gale a few minutes later.
"The S-Sun Shrine? Y-You mean the place you g-got your sword?" Vira replied, nearly hoarse by this time from yelling over the wind. "But h-how do you kn-know that that's where th-the jewel is? And f-for that matter, how are y-you going to find it?"
"Well… We'll j-just have to hope that I—WAAAH!"
Before Kelli could finish her sentence, she felt the ground shudder and then crumble away beneath her feet, sending her hurtling down through a hidden crevice. The ground surrounding the crevice continued to give way, snow pouring in. Kelli landed with the wind knocked out of her, but was otherwise unharmed.
"'Drop in?'" Vira finished with a chuckle.
"…Yeah, very funny!" Kelli replied in annoyance after a piercing scream left her mouth from the chill of the snow that crashed down on top of her. "N-Now get down here."
"Yeah, yeah, alr-right."
While Kelli irritably dug herself out of the snow, Vira fluttered down the hole and rejoined her friend. After finally freeing herself from the snow drift, Kelli quickly scanned her surroundings. She was clearly inside a cave; though as it was above ground, the harsh wind howled within as well. Some of the walls were encrusted with frost, while icicles rose from the floor and plunged from the ceiling like jaws. Further ahead, part of the rocky floor was blanketed with ice.
"Vira, this m-must the Sun Shrine. I'm s-sure of it," Kelli uttered moments later.
"B-But how do you know?" Vira wondered, massaging her sore throat.
"I don't know, I just feel it. But th-there is one w-way I can prove it."
With that, Kelli began examining each wall, frantically looking for a special marker that would, indeed, prove that the cave was none other than the Sun Shrine. When she peered through a sheet of ice on an almost sheer section of the left wall, a smile formed on her freezing face.
"I knew it."
The Guardian of the Sun then drew her sword and struck the ice as hard as she could. The frost shattered upon impact, revealing Kelli's discovery within. It was an image of a sun carved into the wall. However, this image did not look exactly like the actual symbol of the respective Sky Guardian. It was a simpler drawing, a child's drawing. What's more, inside the sun were letters that read J and K with the word Forever inscribed below them.
"Kel… Did y-you and Judo..?" Vira began, her words punctuated by stretches of shocked silence.
"Yep. He and I dr-drew this so anyone who s-saw it would kn-know what a true close f-friendship is…" Kelli replied, her voice breaking in the middle of her sentence. She gazed upon the old carving for a few more moments, a tear escaping her eye as she recalled her absent friend. She missed Judo more than ever now, but she would not give up her search for him until the two were reunited at last. Kelli sniffled before speaking up again.
"Well, w-we can't stand around here all day. Let's g-go."
With that, Kelli proceeded deeper into the cavern, Vira following closely behind. What they found at the far end, however, was not at all pleasing. Beyond lay a fairly large chamber. Before either of them could say anything, however, a stone wall slammed shut behind them, sealing them inside. Kelli then looked ahead once more and counted six sealed doors on the opposite side of the room. Each had a unique rune inscribed on the wall above them. Kelli froze where she stood as she realized what she had stumbled upon.
"Oh no…" she groused. "This c-can't be happening."
"W-What? What is it?" Vira wondered.
"Those d-doors are the product of a spell c-called the Manu Propria," Kelli explained. "Link and I w-went through another c-chamber like this just before we f-found you."
Kelli then described how the spell worked, and the challenge she and Link had been faced with in the cave back in the Kakariko Graveyard.
"Yeesh…" Vira commented. "This is g-going to be trouble."
Kelli knew that Vira was more correct than she realized. The Sky Guardian knew how to proceed through an area enchanted by the Manu Propria spell and was aware of how tough the conjured monsters could be if she made a mistake in figuring out the correct order of the runes. The only difference was that, if she did make such a mistake, she didn't have Link to help her this time around, and that alone would make things much more difficult. She'd have to solve the runes and fight off any conjured monsters on her own. She'd also have to work fast, for each delay brought Link closer to death. And, to top it all off, Kelli couldn't help but suspect that the Manu Propria she faced now had been altered in some way. The runes could be more complex, and the conjured monsters might be more dangerous as well.
"W-Well? We can't just s-sit here," Vira pointed out. "Link d-doesn't have much time!"
"I know… I'm just n-nervous," Kelli admitted. "But I've g-got to do this for him."
With that, Kelli began flexing her hands and fingers to recreate the shapes of the runes, as she and Link had done the first time they encountered the Manu Propria. She managed to guess the first two correctly, but unfortunately, the third glowed red instead of white. Without warning, a pair of Wolfos, one with golden eyes and the other with navy eyes, were spawned from the crimson rune and slowly crept towards Kelli, their fangs dripping with saliva. Kelli quickly drew her sword and un-slung her shield, but before she could move, the two beasts lunged at her. Thankfully, the Guardian of the Sun was fast enough to bring up her shield and brace herself against the onslaught. The first Wolfos collided with the shield, knocked away and stunned by the impact. The second, meanwhile, was carried by its leap onto the edge of Kelli's blade, the creature's left side very nearly impaled.
As the wounded Wolfos fell to the ground, Kelli then focused her attention on its partner. She quickly side-stepped its next assault and swung her foot into its chest, likely smashing a couple ribs in the process. Afterward, only a few quick strikes from the Sun Sword were needed to finish off the creatures.
"N-No creature in here is g-getting any mercy from me!" Kelli declared angrily as she sheathed her bloody sword moments later.
"Now th-that's the Kelli I know!" Vira replied, bouncing up and down in midair.
With that, Kelli hastened to decipher the riddle of the runes. The monsters, it seemed, were easy enough to defeat, but she knew she could not afford too many delays.
Link's life yet hung in the balance.
Thankfully, she managed to solve the runes after only one more accidental summoning of Wolfos. This was fortunate, as the young Sky Guardian knew she would need to work fast and save her strength if she were to successfully conquer the challenges ahead. There was no doubt in Kelli's mind that whatever awaited her could end up pushing her to her limits. After all, if the source of the evil which had befallen Hyrule knew of Link's condition, it would surely seek to stop her.
What she found on the other side of the newly revealed door, however, was completely unexpected. Instead of another chamber with six more doors and accompanying runes, Kelli found herself faced with four tunnels snaking deeper into the shrine.
Except, this room wasn't here during her childhood visit.
"This is wrong," she remarked. "There should just be one corridor here, not four."
Having a thought, Kelli scooped up a handful of pebbles and began hurling them through each tunnel. When the tiny rocks skittered over the floor, instead of passing through some illusion and vanishing into some sort of hidden death trap, Kelli wasn't sure if she should sigh with relief or fume angrily.
Whatever monsters now controlled the shrine, it seemed, had been busy. Not only had they cursed the Sun Shrine with the Manu Propria spell, but they were also able to use powerful enchantments to create a maze of tunnels as well. The tunnels did not seem to have illusionary floors hiding death traps, but they might hold other dangers. And, if Kelli guessed correctly, these new tunnels would likely have dead ends and monsters waiting inside each of them.
"W-What the—? This is nuts!" Vira exclaimed, literally freezing where she floated.
Kelli merely growled.
"And it's really s-starting to get on my nerves," she replied, her hands clenching into fists. "We w-won't get anywhere s-standing around here though, so l-let's just pick a tunnel and h-hope for the best."
With that, Kelli proceeded down the second tunnel from the left. Unfortunately, luck was not with her. The twisting path ended abruptly, with only a dead end and an Armozard awaiting her. She quickly drew her sword once more and charged, though she realized that its golden eyes indicated that it was a sun aligned monster. As far as Kelli was concerned, she didn't care who or what she faced. She just wanted to find a way to save Link. And when she finally crossed paths with Dark Kelli, the Guardian of the Sun would make her evil counterpart pay dearly for what she had done to the dying hero.
After closing the distance, Kelli thrust her shield forward and struck the Armozard full in the chest. The blow fell so hard that the creature lost its footing and slammed into the wall behind it. Kelli looked on with grim satisfaction. Her shield attack was still likely slower than Link's, but at least she could finally use it. Better still, it stunned the creature long enough for her to deal several fatal slashes to the Armozard's torso. Even though the beast was resistant to Kelli's blade, it nonetheless fell in a matter of seconds.
"D-Dang… Kel, are you r-really that angry about w-what Dark Kelli did to Link?" Vira wondered, regarding the Armozard's corpse with no small amount of shock.
"Yeah, th-that, and this g-goddess forsaken blizzard," Kelli replied, her chest heaving with anger and exertion. "I'd r-rather vent my t-temper on D-Dark Kelli, but these m-monsters will have t-to do. Though, I w-will admit that these s-sun monsters are h-hard to bring down. My S-Sun Sword isn't m-meant to f-fight them. I'll b-be glad when and if Link gets the M-Moon Sword."
"Yeah, I'll bet."
An experimental tap with her sword confirmed that the wall she'd plastered the Armozard into was quite solid, so Kelli made her way back down the tunnel to take another path. As Kelli pressed on, she noticed something peculiar. Ever since she entered the shrine, snow had been billowing in. At first, she thought it might be coming from the crevice she had fallen through, but when she returned to the branching tunnels, she realized the snow was coming from ahead of her instead of from behind.
Now, I'm sure of it. This has got to be the right place!
This revelation spurred her onward, but she remained wary. Most likely, another Manu Propria chamber stood between her and her goal, and the next tunnel would lead her there. It didn't matter how many monsters she had to carve her way through or what traps might lie in wait. Kelli wasn't going to give up until she recovered the Jewel of Ice. Thankfully, the next tunnel she chose turned out to be the correct one. At its far end, another stone door admitted her and then sealed her inside. And, as before, the Sky Guardian was faced with six more doors and their accompanying runes. Kelli's first attempt to dismantle the puzzle conjured a pair of Lizalfos, but it made little difference to her. She pulverized them the same way she had the Wolfos in the previous chamber. Perhaps the gravity of her mission had unlocked some hidden wellspring of power in her being, or maybe the Sun Shrine itself had somehow empowered the bearer of its treasures. Whatever the cause, Kelli had never felt so powerful. Her shield attacks could send Armozards sprawling, her attacks blurred to invisibility and her sword arm could cleave through Dodongo hides with one blow. Even Dark Kelli would've probably been hard-pressed if she were to engage her counterpart now.
Kelli soon overcame the second Manu Propria and continued through the shrine. Beyond lay a veritable gauntlet, consisting of several more mazes of tunnels separating small chambers that contained the Manu Propria puzzles. More and more monsters lurked within each tunnel, but the Guardian of the Sun relentlessly pressed on and overcame each one, no matter how tough they were. She faced more Armozards, Lizalfos, Dinolfos, Armosaurs, Freezards, and even Stalfos and Wolfos. Lizalfos Knights and their White Wolfos mounts also began to appear as well. Since more snow was billowing in to carpet the shrine floor and encrust the walls ice, Kelli was certain she was getting closer to the source of the frigid curse. Sometime later, Kelli entered the sixth, and hopefully, final, Manu Propria chamber. The runes in this room proved marginally more dangerous than their predecessors, for they conjured two Lizalfos Knights and one Stalfos with every error the Sun Guardian made. Yet, that strange font of power that had bubbled to life in Kelli's being still lent her might beyond any she'd possessed before, and she had no trouble executing a dizzying array of powerful spin attacks and following each with peerlessly lethal ending blows to vanquish her enemies.
By the time she was finished and unlocked the way forward, however, Kelli's exertions seemed to be catching up to her. The Sun Guardian's chest heaved, her posture was stooped and sweat had begun to trickle and freeze into icy veins winding down the sides of her head. Between this, and the steadily deepening cold of the shrine, she felt colder than she had while fighting Arcquaos in the Fortress of Ice. Even so, she pressed forward and, much to her relief, there was neither another knot of tunnels nor yet another Manu Propria chamber beyond. Instead, there was only one tunnel on the other side. Kelli was not hesitant to follow it in hopes that it would lead her to the Jewel of Ice and a means of taming the accursed blizzard. It turned out to be a short tunnel and within moments, Kelli found another stone door. Upon entering, she found herself inside another large chamber. This time, however, there were no more runes or doors ahead. It was a circular room, bare and empty, with no entrance save the one she just came through. Kelli had a suspicion about what this portended, and made sure the grip of her sword was in easy reach.
Kelli had taken no more than a few steps inside the room when, as she expected, the door behind her slammed shut and sealed her in. A split second later, what appeared to be a navy-eyed Stalfos emerged from the floor. However, unlike other Stalfos, it was more heavily armored, its bleached skull encompassed by a helmet with a pair of menacing horns, and a larger, more angular shield was strapped to the undead warrior's arm. More peculiar still, it didn't immediately charge towards Kelli and engage her either. Instead, it chuckled deviously and then brought its bony fingers to its mouth, and let out a shrill whistle.
"Oh no…" Kelli uttered. She had seen this a few times before in Mayia. Seconds after the Stalfos whistled, a monstrous skeletal horse unearthed itself from the ground nearby. The Stalfos then swung itself atop the undead mount and yanked on the creature's reins, forcing it to rear back on its hind legs and neigh ferociously.
"Eeee!" Vira yelped, darting behind Kelli's shoulder again. "Th-That's not what I th-think it is, is it…?"
"Sorry, Vira, there's n-no doubt about it," Kelli replied in frustration. "It's a Stalknight. I had a f-feeling we'd eventually s-see these guys again."
Before Vira could reply, the Stalknight suddenly spurred its horse to a gallop and charged towards Kelli. The Sun Guardian, despite the cold air seeming to numb her from head to toe, was just barely quick enough to dive out of the way. Unfortunately, she landed on an icy section of the floor and was sent sliding into the wall.
"Aah!" she yelped. The Stalknight, its jaw clacking in what might've been a laugh, rode towards his seemingly helpless prey but, thankfully, the ice worked to Kelli's advantage this time. With a strong shove off the wall, Kelli sent herself shooting out of the horse's path, giving her the time she needed to regain her feet.
"Ugh, it's been t-too long since I l-last fought one of these…" she groused.
"Yeah…" Vira agreed. "Oh, w-wait! I remember what t-to do! Get rid of the h-horse!"
"Oh, that's right!" Kelli realized.
She then recalled that a Stalknight was, in truth, no more deadly than a regular Stalfos once it was unhorsed. The only difference was that Stalknights wore more armor and thus, could withstand more punishment than its lesser cousins.
As the Stalknight spun its mount and charged at Kelli, its blade angled for the kill, the Guardian of the Sun contemplated on possible strategies. She remembered that the horses Stalknights rode were too big for her shield attack to be effective, so stunning them that way would not work. In fact, there didn't seem to be any way she could truly stun it at all. She would have to do this the hard way. However, the horse moved so quickly that landing a blow at all would prove to be difficult. Kelli's thoughts were interrupted moments later when the Stalknight charged past her. The Sun Guardian thought to strike the creature's flanks as it passed when, suddenly, the skeletal knight brought his horse to a halt. Without warning, the creature lurched forward on its forelimbs and attempted to drive the hooves of its hind limbs into Kelli's chest. She raised her shield to deflect the blow but, while she managed to prevent the attack from shattering her torso, the sheer force of the impact had sent her hurtling to the floor. However, Kelli could've sworn she heard a cracking sound in the process…besides the ones that sounded like her ribs, that is.
"Whoa! Kel! The horse's b-back legs are cracked a little!" Vira pointed out, as if catching her friend's thoughts.
"Ah, that's it!" Kelli replied. "I h-have to attack the legs!"
With that, Kelli carefully watched the Stalknight as it continued to attempt to trample her and then strike her with the horse's hooves as she whirled away. After a few near-misses, she was able to gauge the timing of these attacks, and within minutes, she leapt out of its path once again and landed a successful blow to the horse's back legs in mid-flight. Thankfully, the horse's eyes revealed it to be moon-aligned, like its rider, allowing Kelli to deal heavy damage with each blow. This wasn't an easy tactic, being a half-second too slow would mean being trampled or having her chest smashed in, but from what Kelli remembered, the only way to eliminate a Stalknight's mount for good was to break the skeleton apart and destroy the bones. Much like their riders, the horses could reassemble themselves after a short period of time. Only bombs could destroy them utterly and, luckily for her, she had plenty.
With that, Kelli repeated the strategy as many times as she could. After she dealt several stabs and shield attacks to the horse's limbs, the creature's legs finally gave away sometime later, causing it to lost its balance and crash to the floor. Its rider was thrown from the saddle, sent toppling to the hard floor and skittering away on the ice. While the Stalknight remained dazed on the floor, Kelli quickly set a bomb next to the pile of horse bones and darted away. She then produced her bow, readied an arrow on the bowstring, and aimed it right at the bomb. When the arrow struck, the explosive detonated instantly, shattering the bones to dust. Moments later, the Stalknight recovered its wits and, letting out a ghastly scream at seeing its mount's demise, scrambled to its feet and readied its sword and shield. The unhorsed knight lunged forward and, within moments, clashed blades with Kelli.
From then on, the room resounded with the echoes of their blades. Blows were dealt back and forth and although Kelli held the advantage with her blade, the chilly weather threatened to turn the balance. She could never stop shivering, nor work the stiffness from her frozen limbs, while the cold had little to no effect on her foe at all. What's more, as the battle drew on, the Stalknight seemed to capitalize on this advantage, and cuts and bruises from near-misses soon bespangled Kelli's limbs and torso. The creature was able to use at least some of the techniques Kelli herself knew, just as Link had once described from an encounter he'd had with some Stalfos earlier. Still, the fight wasn't exactly going well for the Stalknight either, as Kelli had been giving as she got, if not more. Eventually, however, Kelli's growing exhaustion took a toll on her, and she knew she needed to end the battle soon. If not, she would fall.
Thankfully, the opportunity she was looking for arose moments later. The Stalknight leaped into the air and aimed a jump attack at Kelli, only to have her sidestep out of the way. Kelli then launched a spin attack while the creature was rendered vulnerable by the blow's follow-through. And as she had hoped, the blow was enough to knock it to the floor and reduce its body to a pile of bones, much like his undead mount. Kelli would have preferred to use a strengthened spin attack or even the Hurricane Spin, but she knew was far too exhausted and wounded to perform such powerful techniques. Even so, she lost no time setting a bomb near the bones and detonating it with an arrow, as she had with the horse's corpse. The bones were shattered to powder by the explosion, finally ending the brawl for good. Kelli stooped forward, resting her hands on her knees and panted, exhausted from her ordeal. She was shaken back to reality, however, when a section of the wall seemed to rise. After a moment's astonishment, Kelli realized that what she had taken for a blank was, in reality, a concealed door.
"Heh… F-Finally…" Kelli uttered and hobbled towards it. Her limbs were now so cold that the blood that trickled from her wounds was now frozen and stuck to her skin while her fingers and toes felt ready to fall off of her. Even so, the heroine limped through the newly opened chamber, praying that the Jewel of Ice was inside.
The goddesses had answered her prayers, for the room Kelli found herself in was a tiny chamber containing only an altar topped by a pedestal. Above the pedestal was a cloud of darkness, from which shrieked a ferociously cold wind. Kelli hadn't taken more than a few steps inside, however, when the cloud began to dissipate and vanish, revealing a bright, icy blue light. The light faded as well, revealing a light blue gemstone shaped to resemble five conjoined icicles, two on top and three on the bottom. Undoubtedly, it was the Jewel of Ice. As the darkness and light surrounding the jewel faded, the wind fell silent. Even better, the snow and ice throughout the chamber began to melt. Water from the ceiling plunged down onto Kelli and Vira, but the area's drastically rising temperature more than made up for it.
As she gazed upon the jewel, a smile slowly formed on Kelli's numb, blue lips.
"Such a relief," she said. "Now nowhere in Hyrule should ever freeze over like that again."
"You said it. Now let's get the jewel and get out of here," Vira replied.
With that, Kelli took the Jewel of Ice from its resting place. Suddenly, the entire chamber began to tremble.
"W-What's going on here?" Vira gasped. "Is this an earthquake?"
"I'm not sure!" Kelli replied, struggling to keep her balance. Before she could say anything else, however, a blinding light filled the room, forcing the two friends to shield their eyes.
Moments later, the light vanished. After her vision cleared, Kelli discovered that her surroundings had changed. The chamber she now stood in was familiar, very familiar, in fact. Another small pedestal now rose in front of her in the center of a slightly raised platform whose surface was inscribed with a large sun. A silver hook was thrust into the wall behind it while two lit torches burned on either side.
"Vira! The shrine has returned to normal!" she exclaimed.
"Really? So this is what it looked like before that curse messed it up?" Vira replied.
"That's right. I recognize everything in here. My sword once sat in that pedestal, and my shield hung on the wall from that hook. This place brings back so many memories…"
Before either of the two could say anything else, a light, cool breeze blew through the tunnel and the Fairy of Winds appeared before them.
"Kelli," she greeted. "It does my heart good to see you unharmed…well, in large part."
"Oh, Fairy of Winds," Kelli replied. "If I live long enough to save Hyrule, I am going to spend a week in the Mayian hot-springs. But, that'll have to wait. I'm…sure you know about Link…"
"I do, indeed," the Fairy of Winds replied, her voice heavy with sadness. "It's quite unfortunate, to put it lightly, that he was brutalized so. Even I did not expect the foe he faced to be so strong. But Kelli, you must listen to me if he is to survive. Only you can save him."
"But what am I supposed to do?"
"That, you must discover on your own. But, I can tell you this. You already have the medicine you need. You cannot see it now, but you will in time."
"Huh? What does that mean?"
"Yeah, I can't seem to make sense of it," Vira added.
"You'll know soon enough. Trust me," the Fairy of Winds assured.
"Well, alright…" Kelli replied, though she sounded far from certain.
"I bid you farewell for now."
With that, the Fairy of Winds vanished, leaving a bewildered Kelli to mull over the Fairy's cryptic advice. Then, as Kelli's gaze moved to the Jewel of Ice, a thought struck her.
"…Hey, I just thought of something!" she said excitedly. "The Jewel of Ice might be able to break Link's fever! Maybe that's what we need to do!""
"Yeah, that just might work! Let's hurry!" Vira agreed.
"Don't have to tell me twice!"
With that, the two hurried back through the shrine. Since the Sun Shrine had been returned to its normal state, the knots of tunnels and Manu Propria chambers had been replaced by a single passage leading back to the entrance. Upon reaching it, Kelli spied a stone ladder ascending to the surface, allowing an easy means of leaving. Another wave of nostalgia hit her then, but she just nodded approvingly and intoned, "Right where I left you."
As with the inside of the shrine, the outside too now looked as Kelli recalled from her first, childhood journey. The snow and ice had all melted away and the clouds in the sky had disappeared, replaced by a triumphant summer sun. The trees and shrubs were now green again and paths that had been blocked off by snow were now passable once more. Streams of water, liberated from their icy prisons, now flowed freely again and wildlife which had been driven into hiding or away all together now returned. Kelli was glad to see this and quietly reveled in the returned warmth. She had no doubt that Kakariko was back to normal as well, and couldn't wait to return there. She was quite eager to test her theory that the Jewel of Ice could save Link and, after having done so, soak in a hot bath for the next twelve hours. Before she could take more than a few steps, however, a familiar tune filled the air. It was Kelli's own melody.
"Huh? Malon?" she guessed. "Is that you?"
"Oh, Kelli! Thank goodness! You have to come back here quickly!" Malon's voice called out in reply. Although Kelli's song could not relay any voices or sounds, save that of the sender, the ranch girl's tone suggested that she was in tears. And, this musing caused Kelli's eyes to bulge and her frostbitten face to pale.
"Why? What's going on?" Kelli frantically wondered.
"It's Link! His heart has stopped!"
"What? That can't be! Is the doctor trying to revive him?"
"Yeah, but he hasn't had any success yet! Please hurry!"
"Don't worry, I'm on my way back right now. I have something that might help him!"
"Alright, I just hope it works!"
With that, Malon's voice faded and their telepathic connection was severed. Kelli quickly broke into a run, racing back to Kakariko as fast as her legs could carry her. Her knowledge of anatomy was less-than-comprehensive, but she knew that once a person's heart stopped beating, there was only a brief window of opportunity to restart the flow of blood before that person was beyond all help. A physician she'd met in Mayia, who had handled several such patients following Notu's rampage, relayed this as he tended the wounded in the Mayian capital.
"When somebody survives that," he'd commented, pointing to the heavens, "It's because they had a hand in it."
Hopefully, the gods would be on Link's side as well, and would not let him die.
Kelli tried to tell herself that, even if the doctor could do nothing for Link, the would-be Guardian of the Moon might not be beyond help. Although it had been many generations since Sky Guardians roamed the world, the Goddesses nonetheless had their ways of making sure their champions did not fail.
Despite this, Kelli found herself running all the faster.
When she arrived in Kakariko, Kelli leaped from the cliff that overlooked the cucco pen, launched into a forward roll so that her legs wouldn't take the brunt of the impact, and immediately rushed for Impa's house. Hylians and Gorons still milled about the village, some shouting their thanks to Kelli for dispelling the blizzard, but she had little time to reply. She was already panting by the time she passed by the well, but the Guardian of the Sun did not slow down. Every second that passed meant a greater chance that Link was now dead. When Kelli finally dashed up the stairs leading to Impa's house, she immediately barged through the door and darted up the stairs to join Malon and the doctor. Ruto was absent, but probably doing her shift atop the lookout tower.
As before, Link lay in his bed swathed in bandages and motionless, but Kelli could not tell whether or not he was still alive. She quickly rushed over to Malon and the doctor, who were looking over him worriedly. Navi was hovering nearby as well, fluttering in anxious circles through the air much the same way another would pace back and forth.
"Oh, Kelli!" Malon called out. "You made it back! Oh my, you're wounded!"
"Yeah, but these injuries are nothing," Kelli assured, realizing with horror that the doctor was not pumping Link's chest or doing anything else. "Oh no. Is Link…? Is he…?"
"Ah, Lady Kelli," the doctor replied, beckoning her to approach. "Don't worry, I managed to get his heart beating again just before you arrived."
"Oh, thank goodness," Kelli replied, panting as she felt relief wash over her.
"I can't guarantee it will stay that way, though," the doctor warned. "In fact, his heart could fail again at any time. Malon said you might have a possible remedy for Link's illness?"
"Ah, yes. Sort of. I doubt it will cure it, but I think it can at leastbring down his fever."
"That would surely help. Let's try it."
With that, Kelli produced the Jewel of Ice and held it before Link. Within moments, it began to glow brightly, and a cool breeze erupted from its core. It swept over Link, tossing his blonde bangs and sending a wave of chills through the house. Malon shivered a bit, but likely more from anxiety than the temperature, while the doctor seemed unperturbed. Navi and Vira beat their wings to keep them from freezing while Kelli felt relaxed by the cool breeze after her mad dash back to the house. After a minute or so, the breeze died down. The doctor then brought his hand to Link's forehead.
"I…I don't believe it. It worked! His temperature is normal again!" he exclaimed.
"Oh, that's wonderful!" Malon cried happily. "Kelli, what was that magic you used? And that jewel?"
"I'll explain later. Link is still in a coma, which means he can still die if he's lost too much blood," Kelli replied.
"Oh, that's right…"
"Unfortunately, Link is not yet out of danger," the doctor added. "A fever is one of the body's natural defenses against illness. While it is fortunate that the magic from Kelli's jewel had brought down Link's fever, it could return at any time to continue fighting the illness."
"And we'd be right back where we started…" Malon gloomily deduced.
"But Link is at least in better condition now than he was before, right?" Kelli desperately inquired.
"Yes, that is true," the doctor confirmed. "As a matter of fact, I had the potion shop mix up a blue potion. It might be possible that Link will reach such a state where the blue potion can help him."
"Oh, excellent. Perhaps we could try it now?" Kelli suggested.
"It might work, but I can't make any promises. I'll be using a procedure we're still experimenting with, though, since Link cannot drink the potion on his own."
"That's fine, as long as you know it's safe."
"Of course. I'm going to inject the potion into Link's arm using a needle and syringe."
"How does that work?" Malon wondered.
"Let me answer that question by posing another. Tell me, how much do either of you know about the heart?" the doctor inquired.
"…Not much," Kelli admitted, while Malon only shrugged in reply.
"Well, I'll try to put this in layman's terms then. As you may know, the heart serves to pump blood throughout the body, providing it with the nourishment it requires to function. For some time now, it has been theorized that this function of the heart could be used in administering medicine to a patient who is incapacitated. If a tiny incision, the sort that a needle might make, was made in a vein and a potion forced by pressure into the incision, then the medicine would join the flow of blood. From there, the heart would pump it throughout the body. In theory, this would make it possible for a potion to heal one who could not drink it but, as you may have gathered, this method has not been tested."
"Maybe not, but I don't think we have another option," Kelli replied. "Please, do it."
The doctor then produced a bottle of blue potion and a most peculiar device consisting of a needle with a small tube attached to its backside. The tube had a knob inside its other end. The doctor then uncorked the bottle and asked Kelli to hold it for him. He then inserted the needle and, as he slowly pulled out the knob, Kelli could see that the blue potion was being drawn from the bottle up into the strange tube. Once the strange tube was filled, and the knob very nearly ready to escape, the doctor removed the needle.
"Now, I carefully insert the needle into Link's arm and slowly push the syringe's knob back inside the tube," the doctor continued and approached Link's bedside. "As I push the knob, it will generate the pressure needed to push the potion through the tiny hole in the needle and into Link's body. Oh, and since he is not awake, he won't feel any pain."
With that, he took Link's right arm out from under the blanket. He began to rigorously stroke the limb until a blue vein stood out against the flesh and then swapped it over with a cloth smelling strongly of alcohol. Then, after drawing in a deep breath, he inserted the needle into Link's flesh. Kelli's eyes darted between the tiny needle and the rapidly draining blue potion and, to her amazement, it seemed as though the experimental tool was working as the doctor had claimed. After the potion was injected into the hero's body, the doctor removed the needle and quickly bandaged the pierced skin with a small cloth. Barely a drop of blood escaped Link's veins, which the doctor explained, was because the pressure of the injection held the blood in, but all present knew that Link could not afford to lose even that much after what he'd been through.
"Now, all we can do is wait," the doctor finished after removing the cloth. "If our luck holds, one injection will be enough. I do recommend, however, that you treat those wounds as soon as you can though, Lady Kelli. They could become infected at any time."
"I know, I will," Kelli replied. In truth, she wanted to make sure Link would recover first.
The trio then sat down, anxious to see if Link would awaken. Kelli briefly considered apprising Ruto of the situation, but promptly reconsidered. The Zora Princess was hardly someone Kelli would consider a friend, but she knew that Ruto's spirits were low enough as it was without this torturous waiting. In fact, Ruto's post on the lookout tower had suddenly become quite enviable as Kelli resigned herself to waiting for some sign that Link yet lived. Minutes which felt like days passed languidly, and the hero did not stir. His eyes were still closed and his breathing continued to be shallow and labored. Every now and then, the doctor checked for a pulse, and though Link's heart continued to beat, these pulses of life grew further and further apart. As time wore on, Malon rose from her seat and began to pace in blind arcs, her eyes brimming over with tears. Navi perched on one of the bedposts, uncharacteristically silent and her wings drooping sadly. Kelli soon buried her face in her hands as she began to sob. She had spied the doctor's face through her tear blurred vision, and his expression had turned grave.
And, though Kelli tried to quash it, she had a terrible presentiment about what the doctor's expression meant.
"As much as it pains me to say this… It looks like that jewel and potion weren't enough," he said somberly, confirming Kelli's grim premonition.
"…No!" Malon pleaded. "W-What about giving him more of the potion?"
"I'm sorry, but if that first dose couldn't do anything, more won't help either," the doctor grimly reported, closing his eyes and sighing. "You see, once any amount of a potion enters someone's body, it immediately begins to affect the body, if it can, and that's that. I can only inject so much potion at one time, and I couldn't possibly give Link enough to help him with only a needle and syringe. He'd have to drink the entire bottle, which he can't. Furthermore, repeatedly injecting him would be too risky. An errant penetration, and I'd cause him to bleed further, and in his current condition, even losing a small amount of blood could prove fatal."
Kelli was at a loss for words. All she could do was sniffle as her tears coursed down her cheeks.
"This… This is all my fault," she admitted. "I'm so sorry…"
"Kelli, no it isn't. We all did our best and it isn't like you hurt Link," Malon protested, but her expression had darkened with hopelessness. "It just...wasn't enough."
"You don't understand… Before I came back here, just after I found the Jewel of Ice, I was told that I already held the power to save Link, and that I realize it soon. But, I failed."
"Are you serious?" Navi blurted and flew into Kelli's face, close enough to tear loose strands of the Sky Guardian's eyebrows. "The Fairy of Winds told you that, didn't she?"
"Then it is your fault! We're going to lose him and Hyrule is doomed, and IT'S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!"
Navi then darted down stairs, likely shedding tiny tears all the while. All Kelli could only grimace as the cold, hard truth of the fairy's words pressed down upon her. The fairy was right.
"Don't listen to her, Kel," Vira persuaded. "You can still figure this out."
"No… I can't. There's no time. I haven't any clue where to go or what I'm supposed to do. I did all that I could… And it wasn't enough. I've failed… I've failed Link, and I've failed all of Hyrule… Why? Why couldn't I save him?"
Her reserve crumpling, Kelli began to bawl in utter despair. Malon could only follow suit while the doctor, no stranger to losing patients, sighed mournfully. There was no question as to how Ruto and King Daphnes would react when they heard the news of Link's death. They would be devastated and, given the king's fragile health, the news might prove as much a deathblow as any the monsters would deliver. And, indeed, everyone would despair, as they'd lost a fine warrior, and one of Hyrule's greatest heroes. In her grief, however, Kelli did not realize that she was still holding the opened bottle of blue potion. As she wept for the fallen hero, some of her tears fell inside. With each drop, a strange white glow began to emanate from the blue liquid until, at last, the vial shone like a jewel in a bed of fog.
"What's this?" the doctor wondered, his jaw parting in shock.
"I…I don't know!" Kelli replied, her eyes widening. The doctor and Malon both approached to get a closer look. The glow of the bottle grew brighter and more intense until it pulsed with such brilliance that all present had to close their eyes. When the brightness subsided, the trio saw that the blue liquid inside turned a plum purple. Afterwards, the fading glow vanished entirely.
"This…This is remarkable," the doctor commented moments later, breaking the short silence.
"Yeah. I don't understand it myself," Kelli replied.
"What exactly happened?" Malon wondered.
"I'm not sure. Some of my tears got inside the bottle, and then..."
"Ah! Lady Kelli, then they must have done something to the potion!" the doctor concluded. "I will give Link one last dose. I…have a theory about what this means."
With that, the doctor wiped off the needle, filled the syringe with a dose of the new potion, and injected Link with it once more.
"You said you had a theory about what this meant," Kelli spoke up. "What is it?"
"During my studies," the doctor began, his breath become ragged with excitement, "I learned of a lost elixir which could not only restore the vitality of a warrior, but render him briefly impervious to harm. It was referred as 'Goddess Tears.' No one has been able to concoct it for centuries, but the documents we have on the substance describe it as a purple potion. If my guess is correct, your tears strengthened the medicine!"
"You mean, the potion might save Link now?" Kelli replied, unable to keep a note of desperation from her voice.
"We'll find out soon enough."
This time, Kelli did not bother seating herself. The enormity of the situation left her too anxious to even stand still, and she began pacing in a veritable daze. If Link didn't wake this time, all hope would surely be lost. Still, Kelli felt confident. This must have been what the Fairy of Winds was talking about. Kelli's tears were the key. But, how was this possible? Was it because she was a Sky Guardian? Did her tears possess the power to augment potions? Or, was there more to it than that…on both counts?
After the doctor finished giving Link the second dose, he bandaged Link's arm once more to staunch the slight bleeding. As he did so, the doctor brought two fingers to the side of Link's neck.
"I knew it! Link's heart beat has quickened!" he announced. "The pulses are much stronger, and they're closer together as well!"
"Oh, that's a relief!" Malon gushed happily. Kelli agreed, but would the hero wake from his coma?
Fortunately, the Guardian of the Sun soon received her answer. Seconds later, a soft moan escaped Link's mouth and his eyelids slowly fluttered open. Kelli gasped and rushed over.
"Link! Link, can you hear me?" she inquired.
"Ah, Link!" Malon added, following her.
"…Huh?" Link uttered exhaustedly.
"Oh! He's awake! He's finally awake!" Malon cried, a smile forming on her face for the first time in hours.
"Malon?" Link replied, his voice still rather faint.
"I'm here too, Link!" Kelli said. "Oh, I'm so glad you're alright!"
"Me too!" Malon seconded and hugged the hero.
"This is truly incredible," the doctor commented. "Lady Kelli, if I'm not mistaken, your tears must have some form of healing powers! It would explain how they transformed the blue potion."
"Really? Let's find out!" Kelli replied. She then wiped her eyes, as they were still a little watery, and placed her hand upon one of her wounds. Within seconds, the bloody cut vanished and her skin looked as smooth as though she'd just returned from a session with the Hyrule Castle Town's finest beautician.
"Whoa…" Kelli uttered. "I don't believe it… But, how did this happen? I don't understand."
"Neither do I. I've never seen such a phenomenon before," the doctor replied and then turned to Link. "Your tears obviously possess potent healing abilities though. Just look how quickly they revived Link when all else failed."
"Wait… What are you talking about? What happened to me?" Link wondered, and attempted to sit up after Malon let him go. "Aaaugh!"
"Please, just relax," the doctor coaxed, forcing Link to lie back down. "You're still in pretty bad shape. To answer your question, though, you were brought here by one of the soldiers after you returned from the Fortress of Ice. You had gone into a coma just after. You're lucky to be alive."
"Oh…" Link replied. "And yeah, I can tell. My whole body aches."
"I bet it does. You have a few broken ribs, a couple swollen joints, and bruises everywhere."
"You lost a lot of blood due to that stab wound in your stomach as well. Your heart even stopped for a little while."
"…Are you serious?"
"Afraid so. You'll have to stay in bed for awhile longer. Potions can't be directly applied to broken bones, so you'll have to let them heal naturally. And you have to take it easy. One of those broken ribs could accidentally pierce a lung or your heart, and even Kelli's tears likely wouldn't help you then."
"Ugh, that's just great…"
"So, that means Link should make a complete recovery after all?" Malon guessed, her tears now those of joy.
"That's right. Miraculously, but yes," the doctor confirmed.
"Oh, that's so wonderful! I'm so relieved!"
"So am I! Ruto is going to be quite happy as well," Kelli replied.
"Oh, she definitely will," Malon agreed. "I'll go give her the good news right now!"
"Wait a minute, Ruto is here too?" Link inquired, his already pallid features paling even further.
"Yep. She's been worried sick about you ever since I rescued her," Kelli confirmed with a wicked smile while Malon rushed downstairs calling the Zora princess's name.
"Oh no…" Link groaned, bringing a hand to his face. "Ow!"
Kelli merely giggled. She knew Link would probably give her an earful when he found out what she had told Ruto, but it didn't matter. He was awake and would recover as long as he stayed in bed and rested, and that was enough for her. The hero had a ways to go before he'd be able to fight again, but at least Kelli knew that Hyrule still had hope after all.
The evil that stifled Hyrule had allowed its best chance for victory to slip away. What's more, the Sky Guardians now had five of the Elemental Jewels.
The next time they took the field, they would make the dark forces rue the day they set foot in Hyrule.