Chapter Twenty-Six: A Big Owl and a Bigger Tree

The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage

Breathing was painful when Lila next awoke. She kept her eyes shut, not wanting to know where she was. She could feel heat, and the blankets covering her didn't help. Voices could be heard, but they were subdued. She could also hear moans and shouts of pain. It felt as though something bound her to the bed. Fear washed over her.

Is this a torture chamber? She squeezed her eyes tighter. How? Who? Zale? Is he responsible, or is he trapped, too? I knew it was impossible to escape Lady Ganondra! She started sobbing uncontrollably.

Someone noticed and rushed over to her. Lila waited for the punishment.

"Shh, shh, child. You're safe. Try to relax."


"Take a deep breath. Everything will be alright."

Lila managed to choke out, "Where... Zale?"

There was a slight pause. "Not now, child. You need to find calm. Slow your breathing."

"Is... he... safe?" The words were barely more than whispers.

Another person joined them. "Here is the potion."

The first said, "I hope she can swallow it." Then to Lila, she instructed, "I'm going to help you sit up so you can take some of this potion. It will soothe your nerves."

Lila couldn't do a thing to make sitting up easier or harder. She just cringed while every movement sent pain through her entire being.

"There, that's better now," said the first voice. "Here's the potion."

A cold glass edge touched Lila's parched lips. She tried to drink, but most of it spilled to the sides. She gasped after each difficult swallow, but the glass wasn't removed until it was tipped empty.

"There, that should help. I'll—"

"Zale," Lila rasped. "Please... is... he... safe?"

The voice sounded surprised. "Of course he is safe."

"C-c ...see... him?"

"I-I'm sorry. I... can't let you."


"Rest up. It will take a while to heal."

Lila heard footsteps. That was the end of that conversation. Even though she didn't do much, at all, she felt completely exhausted. She felt as though she ran through the desert for a full day.

Anxiety raced around in her mind. Where is Zale? Why can't I see him? Why am I tied up like a prisoner, but they are healing me? Who are they? Where am I? Before long she was back in sleep's embrace.

"No! You can't stop me! Let me through!" Zale shoved his way past the guards and finally laid eyes on Lila. She looked pale and her breathing was shallow. "Has she woken up yet?" he asked a nurse.

"Yes, once. But, you can't be here. It's not safe for—"

"Stop saying that!" Zale yelled, pushing a guard off him. "Lila is my friend! I trust her completely. She is the Hero of Courage!"


At the sound of her voice, he rushed to her side. "I'm here, Lila. I'm here." Another guard grabbed his arm. "Let me at least tell her what's going on. I'll bet none of you have."

The surrounding attendants finally backed away, feeling abashed. Zale immediately turned back to Lila. He relaxed, holding her hand.

"Lila, how are you?" Zale started softly. "Can you squeeze my hand?"

Lila took a breath and concentrated. She was able to squeeze his hand, but her grip was weak.

"Good. Thank you for saving me. I know it was hard, but you did it. Your courage saved us both.

"My people, the people of Hyrule, now know who I am. They also know... some of your past. Mori explained a few things to me. I only told others what was important, but they figured out the rest on their own. Because of this, they don't trust you the way I do. That's why you're restrained. I'm so sorry you're stuck like this. I'm trying to convince them of your goodness.

"There is something called the Trial of Light," Zale continued. "I'm not quite sure of the details, but I do know that it is very dangerous. My people don't think you can go through it, but I know you can. When you've recovered, I'll take you to the Great Tree."

Zale gave Lila a moment to process what he told her. Her head was spinning, but it might have been more from her injuries. With a raw voice, she said, "The Trial of Light... Is light the same as... goodness?"

A slight smile crossed Zale's face. "Yes, you could say that. I believe it has been that way for centuries."

Lila closed her eyes. "Lady Ganondra's castle is very dark... I would like to see something lighter..."

"That's a great goal," Zale said, tenderly touching her shoulder.

Lila looked up at him. His smile made her stomach flip, and she felt lighter than air.

"How long... before I can go?"

"You just have to wait until you recover," Zale answered. "I'd guess a few days more."

Lila felt herself relax. "Good. I don't like being stuck in bed."

Zale laughed, "I can imagine!"

As Lila healed, she found herself very lonely... and twitchy. The latter was because she wanted to get moving, but her body was taking a long time. The former was because almost no one spoke with her. Though she was used to being on her own, recent events taught her that there was comfort in companionship. Mori and Zale visited, but Mori preferred being with Zelda – who was still a secret – and Zale had a lot of politics to deal with. At least, every time Zale visited he focused all of his attention on her. Even if she asked him questions, he gave her brief answers and returned to the topic of her recovery.

Those helping with her recovery, however, were quiet with her. They spoke enough to give Lila instruction and nothing more. Even when the attendants were with other patients, she could feel eyes on her at all times. She deserved their distrust. She only just barely joined them by betraying the people who raised her. Anyone who betrayed once could betray again. The Trial of Light, Zale explained, would remove all doubt of her loyalty, because only the pure of heart could succeed.

At last, the time came when Lila could move almost normally. She gathered her equipment, ignoring those around her, and met up with Zale. Not for the first time she glanced at the gold circlet he now wore. It symbolized his power as a prince or something like that. Lila wondered where the king was. No one seemed to know, but they insisted he was alive... somewhere.

"Are you ready?" Lila asked Zale. He wasn't wearing armor or carrying a weapon.

"Yeah," he answered. "I'm just taking you there; you will go through the trial alone."

Lila nodded and glanced around. "Then let's get moving. I'm tired of everyone staring at me like I'm a bokoblin." She briskly set off without waiting for Zale to reply.

He caught up to her and said, "The way they look at you will change, but they'll still be looking at you. You are a hero, and soon they will know that. You just have to get used to watching eyes."

Lila sighed. "So you keep telling me. What happens if I fail this trial?"

"Well, actually, you'll die."

She gave him a confused look. "You didn't tell me that before."

"Are you changing your mind?" Zale teased.

She set her expression and said, "Of course not. You surprised me, that's all."

As they ventured deeper and deeper into the forest, the more the trees blocked out the sun. Lila wondered how Zale knew where to go. The trail they followed didn't look any different from the other game trails. He seemed to be moving simply by instinct.

"The Great Tree is just ahead," he said finally.

They entered a clearing. The ground sloped upward toward the center, and it had many bumps and ridges. At the top of the mound was a tree bigger than Lila had ever dreamed of. It was probably at least ten grown men across and towered over the rest of the forest. She realized the hill was actually formed by its roots. She stopped, wondering if she should approach. The air had energy completely the opposite of Lady Ganondra's castle. Here she felt a sense of... peace?

"Amazing," Lila said breathlessly. Zale watched as she slowly stepped forward, her eyes on the tree. He looked at the tree briefly and then turned to leave.

"Stay, child."

Zale and Lila looked around. The voice seemed to be coming from everywhere. It was deep and rich. The flap of wings sounded from above, and the two looked up to see a massive owl descending. It was completely brown on the back and outside of the wings. The inside of its wings was gray, and its belly was cream with brown and gray flecks. Its ears were gray and quite fluffy.

"I am the guardian of the forest, Kaepora Gaebora. You are welcome, Daughter of Courage and Son of Wisdom."

Zale stepped forward and bowed. "We are humbled to be in your presence. We are here to—"

"I know why you are here," the owl said gently. "Lila, Daughter of Courage, it is time for you to go through the Trial of Light. Are you prepared to begin your journey?"

Lila turned to Zale, awe plain on her face. He looked almost as surprised as she. He gave her an encouraging smile, and she nodded to the owl.

"I'm ready."

"Very well," said the owl. "You may begin." He flapped his wings and took off. At the same time, Lila saw a glow in the corner of her eye. She turned to see Zale lit up like a firefly. He examined his own arms and hands and then anywhere else he could see. Quickly all energy drained out of him, and he swayed with lethargy. Lila rushed to catch him.

"What's wrong?" she demanded.

Zale spoke with a soft, airy voice. "I'm a bit tired is all. I feel fine."

"You're obviously not fine! What did that owl do to you? I'm going to kill him if I see him again!"

Zale shook his head with a smile. "I'm alright, Lila. Though I suppose this means I'm part of your trial." He turned her chin with his hand toward the forest. "Let us be off, my hero."

Lila rolled her eyes but walked back into the trees.

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culoapaperella #1
oooh a loz work,, gonna be amazing to ti read !!