I looked ahead, seeing visions and pictures; I could see her, the maiden with golden hair. Impa, too, standing with her too. They were both inside a brightly-lit room, sunlight shining through the windows. They were both talking with one another. Ahead of them, there was a door that slid apart for them and allowed them in. In the back there was a pedastal, and the pair of them walked forwards. Meaning and understanding exceeded the limitations of the past, present and future, and gave me clarity; this was the most vital bit of information I needed for what was to come.
I turned away, the visions disappearing into nothing. Darkness closed around me. I felt it sinking into my core, sapping all joy and hope out of my heart. I began to curl up helplessly, burying my face into my knees.
I felt a presence nearby...a warmth. I looked up wearily and saw Fi floating there. She looked to me. "...Miss Jacqueline."
Sighing, I looked away. "...I know."
She looked to me, "Miss Jacqueline, you must not linger." I began to sit up and looked at her, no sense of urgency within me. I looked at my wrists and felt my collar around my throat. I felt the impacting words of what the Imprisoned had said, remembering all that Ghirahim had let slip in times prior. I closed my eyes and sighed heavily.
"..Fi...before we go back...I think...we need to discuss my purpose...and why I need to be here..."
Fi dipped her head somewhat before looking up to me, and nodding. "...Very well, Miss Jacqueline."
I awoke to a soothing sound; like a gentle song, lulling me back to sleep. I felt so good, rejuvenated, healthy, happy. I opened my eyes and looked up to saw a butterfly fluttering above my head and floating away--or was that a different bug? Those wings weren't butterfly wings; what was that bug? Light was filtering in from above, and there were columns around me. I judged I was back in the temple.
It was very quiet around me, and as my vision came into focus, I saw two faces looking down at me. And a very loud, booming voice yelled in my ear, "H-Hey! SHE'S AWAKE!!" HOLY SH-- My eyes snapped open and I flinched badly, groaning. "...Fuck, Groose, keep your damn voice down..."
Another face came into my vision, and I saw the wrinkly, sightless, smiling face of Old Impa. She nodded, "Indeed, she has come around. Fairies do indeed hold the key to all matter of supernatural abilities." Huh--so that was a fairy...what did it do.. I blinked slowly in the harsh sunlight and tried to cover my brow with a hand to shade it. "Hey...what happened? Where's Link? Is he okay?"
Groose closed his mouth (for once) and mumbled, "Well, uh...he's, uh...It's hard to say." Seeing as I got no answers from the idiot, I looked over to Impa with the question in my eyes; no use wasting my breath speaking. She nodded, "Link is fine; he is gathering himself to leave for the first key to unlocking the path to the spirit maiden through the Gate."
"Can I see him?"
"You may wish to rest for a little bit, my dear," she replied. "You will need to recover; the fairy's work was miraculous, but you are still human. Your vitality is still a bit of a mystery, and it may take time to recov--"
I made a wet raspberry noise, "Screw that; like Hell I'm sitting around while Link's about to run off to a--wh-whoa!" I had rushed to try to get off the ground, but my legs buckled and I dropped like a stone back down on my kneecaps. Well, so much for that theory. I groaned and felt like being stubborn; I grabbed onto a nearby column and struggled up, clinging to it with my weakened legs. "Fine, just...I'm just fine!" The old woman and Groose slowly looked to one another, and then back to me; I knew because I could feel their eyes on my back.
Groose hummed in thought and came up with an idea with an "oh!" noise. "I, uh, got you some water...you..um, said you were thirsty before you...uh..." I swallowed, suddenly realizing I was very thirsty, and the prospect of water sounded really good. "Before I what?" I rasped and watched as Groose came around and helped me with a flask of spring water. I didn't care how messy or cold the water was, it was good. I inhaled and coughed as some found its way into my windpipe, and Groose began to pound on my back automatically. "*cough* Ow--OW! Goddammit, Groose--*cough*--oh!" I cleared my throat and thanked him as he quietly said "sorry". I looked at him, "What happened? I don't remember what happened after that."
Groose didn't hesitate, "You looked really bad, bones sticking out of your legs and blood everywhere--it was really gross!" I gaped at him, "....I what." The old woman looked to me, "You were badly injured in the battle against the Imprisoned, my dear," she explained. "There was little we could do but hope for the best."
"Wait, wait waitwaitwaitwait...you're saying my legs were broken, and...well, probably various other things that can be left unsaid, like my guts hanging out or something like that," I said, a bit dumbfounded while Groose turned a shade of green and went to go look for a bucket, "but how do you get from there--" I gestured to my legs "--to here? Magic potion or something?"
The old woman smiled, "No, my dear--as fortune would have it, you had a fairy in the pouch you had dropped at the edge of pit. Fairies are a common creature enough, but only in the areas they are known to be in; without the knowledge of fairies, very few have the privilege of stumbling across them. They are exceedingly rare and very potent with their healing magic--some have even transgressed supernatural means, such as your case, to fulfill their purpose. Some have even said they are the first creatures the Goddess Hylia created."
"Supernatural means? Speak English, please."
Her words were blunt. "You died, my dear. The fairy brought you back to life."
Silence. That's all I had; in my mind, my voice, and my heart, pure silence. The woman was sober with it, looking at me with dead-pan seriousness. Groose came back after hearing the tail-end of it and silently stood next to me. I looked to her, "...I...I died, huh." I rubbed the back of my head, unsure of what to make of it; no white light? No tunnel?
Wait...White lights..tunnels...oh, right..the nightmare, the school... Somehow that didn't feel as comforting to me as death ought to have felt. Then again, it was an evil god manipulating the entire place to try to trap me; that's probably not what death was supposed to feel like. I felt my heart pulsate a dead cold within it, something deeper and less stabbing, but more-so radiating through my body from the heart. I closed my eyes; I already interpreted all of this to Fi, but I wasn't just ready to go through with that yet.
I had to wait. As to what I had in mind? I knew it would be the greatest hardship of all to come. But I could wait for that time to come when it did.
My eyes opened, and I looked at Old Impa. "...Is that why Link isn't in here?"
Groose spoke up, a hand behind his head, "Uh...well, yeah...he hasn't said a word since we brought you inside after you got quiet and all..."
I struggled to stand up straight, "I...I seriously need to see him...before he goes running off. Has anyone told him that I had...well, you know." The old woman smiled gently, "He was told nothing, but even that can tell a tale far better than words will, my child." She looked to Groose, "Please help Jacqueline outside; I think that it would be a good idea to find closure for the boy before he runs off." Groose didn't complain, but helped me down the stairs and towards the heavy doors guarding the entrance to the temple.
Together we pushed one open enough for us both to move through. Everything was peaceful again, and birds were chirping. Ahead I could see Link standing at the edge of the pit, looking down at it. Groose helped me forwards as I fought to keep myself standing, one shaky leg after another.
Link's pointed ears twitched, and he turned from the pit to meet my gaze. Awkward silence for several seconds ensued before I smiled and attempted to shatter it, "What's up, bud?" He was already heading towards me and I blinked, "U-Uh, dude, now isn't the time for any surprise atta--" Groose had moved out of the way as I felt Link's arms on my shoulders--
And he proceeded to jostle me. Harshly jostle me; like I could feel my brain trying to bounce its way out of my skull. Ooooh, I'm gonna be sick--! Link was furious, "Why, Jacqueline! Why would you do that?"
"I do-oh-oh-oh-ohn't know-oh-oh-oh wha-ah-ah-ah-t you're talking abou-ow-ow-ow-t!" Every rebound of my head going forwards and tilting backwards carried that particular form of speech, and that didn't even phase him; he just kept right on doing it. "Don't you lie to me! You know what!"
"Ungh--stop sha-ay-ay-ay-king me, you asshole! What the H-ell are you talking about?!" He brought me to a still and was intensely close to my face, I flinched back in fear; that was fire I was seeing, a smoldering fury lingering behind those eyes, combined with the frosty glare of sunlight hitting a glacier. Oh, shit, I wanted to hide. "Why would you sacrifice yourself like that, Jacqueline?" He was quiet again. I looked at him, "...Link.."
He clasped his hands around my shoulders fiercely, his gaze lowering as he hid his face for a moment. "Why would you do that...So much at stake, and you had to go and..." I realized what the problem was, and I placed my hands on his arms. I sighed and looked at Groose before I looked back at Link. "Link."
Not so much as a whisper, response, or movement; he was frozen in place, unwillingly to face me. "...If anything, you're the idiot here." He raised his eyes to that, his fear being submerged by the anger coming back. "What..."
I rolled my eyes, "You were facing the Imprisoned! A darkness Hylia had sealed away a long time ago! Even weakened, that's a fucking god you were fighting! Did you really think you could fight him on your own?" He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted him, shaking my head, "No! Of course you didn't think that--you didn't even though you stood a chance! But you ran in anyway in the hopes of defeating him...Link...you've won battles so many times, overcome so much, that you're not used to losing...near-death situations without a way out, if someone was to suffer and you couldn't protect them...that is why you're mad...not because I did something...well, ah, courageous, but because you feel like you've failed. Am I in the ballpark somewhere?"
He blinked with confusion, and I sighed, "Am I close to the right answer?" The silence was all the confirmation I needed, and I continued holding his arms, "Dude...I'm not dead. What could have happened didn't happen--we can keep searching for a way to get to Zelda and save her, and save this world before...well, before it all goes up in flames or something." The World Degeneration was still on my mind, and nothing in the forest was showing any signs of it, but I was certain that with my contact with the Imprisoned and Ghirahim's attempt to quicken the process, things were going to get crazier soon.
We need to get going...before it's too late to stop any of this. I looked back at him, "Do you think you can forgive me for ruining your win-streak, ol' chum? Buddy ol' pal?"
"You say strange words, Jacqueline..."
I smirked, "That's my speciality--fill in the silence!" He smiled, and I knew I had found the ice-breaker. He nodded slowly and I removed my hands before my legs buckled and he caught me under the arms. "Thank you, Jacqueline--you saved my life at the cost of your own...I am sorry I took my anger out on you."
"Hey, I wouldn't want to be indebted to a corpse either--really? Gross!" I laughed it off as Groose followed us back into the temple. We went inside and found the old woman sitting back in front of the closed slab-doors. I looked at the doors, feeling Fi's eyes on me as I looked at it intensely, remembering the visions.
I shook my head and looked at the old woman. She nodded, "It is time to discuss what your paths shall entail." She looked to Link, "You and Jacqueline will be separate for a bit; it is crucial that each of you complete your tasks in order for the next step to be achieved."
She looked to me first, "Jacqueline, your task is to return to the desert and fulfill a trial you are familiar with. You must move past the tides of time itself in order to complete this."
I blinked, "But it's a desert! Where in the Hell am I going to find wa--"
She looked in my direction, "You will overcome your obstacle in time, my dear; head back to the facility of whence you entered and undergo your task." She turned to Link, "You must head to the Isle of Songs to gather your first piece of evidence. You must strengthen and gather yourself to properly fight true darkness by gathering the three sacred flames."
"Three sacred flames?" She nodded to me, "Yes, child of destiny; the three sacred flames are key to unlocking the Goddess Sword's potential; currently, it is dormant. With gathering the three sacred flames from the keepers of the realms below the clouds, the blade will slowly reveal its true nature and limitless power over evil. Currently, it cannot truly slice nor cut through the evil that taints the land. Link will need to overcome his own trials, and you will be with him to collect the sacred flames...."
I narrowed my eyes. What are you hiding... She nodded to Link, "You must head to the Isle of Songs; there will be a few things you need to take care of before you can gain passage. I suggest you go now; Jacqueline will be safe with me here. The seal will not break, newly-renewed as it is." Link looked at me, and I smiled, "Go on, Mister Hero-Pants. I'll be fine."
"All right." Link bade farewell to everyone and exited the temple. I turned back to Old Impa, "Why'd you hesitate?"
She looked to me, "Telling this to you while the boy was here would have caused unnecessary confusion, so I needed to send him off before I could tell you what is to come." She took a moment to breathe; with the amount of speaking she did, I somewhat wondered if it had anything to do with her being alone for so long. I wondered why that was.
"When the Chosen Hero retrieves a sacred flame, you are forbidden to go to the Isle of Songs--at least, for now. The secrets of the isles are strictly for those that are admitted with grace; for now, my child, you carry with you a potent enemy, and there can be no risk of letting Him or His servant within the sacred isle. Also, it would serve no purpose for you to go there; that Isle was not meant for any other but the Chosen Hero to travel to." I blinked, "I don't see how you couldn't have told me this while Link was here. It wouldn't have changed anything."
She put up a hand to keep me from speaking further and nodded, "I am well aware of that, my child, but that is not why I sent the boy away before I could speak to you. The reason you alone must hear these words is because, once the boy retrieves all three sacred flames and awakens the sword's full potential--" She looked up to me intently, "--you will be separated. I felt it was best you know this now and keep it from him; it would cause too many questions, and time is precious, even more crucial than before. You know what is at stake here."
I nodded, not wholly-surprised. It wasn't me that was meant to be surprised by this news. "I understand...don't worry, I understand everything perfectly clear." The woman nodded, "That is good; because you hold the Sacred Power as well, even a much smaller portion, the darkness seeks to infest it and turn it against its purpose to serve the Imprisoned, so as to strengthen Him and free Him. However, on the verse spectrum of this truth, there is another truth; you will be able to find Zelda before Link will have the ability to. And this is for the most crucial reason of all."
The visions came back, and I nodded, "Yeah...I'm not entirely sure what to do yet, kinda, but I have a good feeling why." The old woman nodded, "I can see that the severity of the issue has come quicker to you than what was expected; your role is very vital, despite what all said to you at the beginning of your journey here. The crux of your task, the one that was appointed to you by Hylia, is coming. It is a burden that will blossom into a blessing for all." I grinned, "Yeah, yeah, let's celebrate with cake and balloons before we get all dramatic, right?"
Old Impa nodded, "Perhaps a celebration...but that will not matter if the World Degeneration and the chaotic evil both swallow this world whole." She looked to the entrance of the temple and nodded, "You will need to meet with Zelda as soon as all three sacred flames are gathered. That will be the most crucial moment for you--it will take time for you to get there, but you will manage. I have faith in your abilities."
"Thanks; didn't think you ever doubted me, not even for a second." She smiled warmly at me, "In my younger years, I probably would have." Hardy har har. I smiled and nodded, "Time for me to get going; desert, find...water somewhere, and...well, then go with Link on more quests. Sounds like a usual day for me!" I turned around and descended the staircase, heading for the doors on the end. I turned around and looked at the slab, asleep and silent.
I turned around, sighed, and opened the door.