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Chapter 17: The Sword of Storms
"Excuse me?" Zelda said as she entered the room. "Are you in here? Is anyone in here?" She would have knocked, but her arms were full with the buzzblob.
"Just a minute! Mmm, mmm," the Seer called out from behind the curtain. He tugged it back and came out with a bowl of white and yellow seeds, grinding them with a blunt stick. "Yes, dear Princess, what is it?"
"Is that another experiment you're doing?" she asked.
"Of course not. It's my lunch."
"Oh, well, I have a question," she held up Buzzy, who had his eyes half-shut, not looking so well. "How am I supposed to take care of this thing? What does it eat? Does it eat? I don't even see a mouth."
"Intriguing, intriguing. Let's see," the Seer walked over to his bookshelf and took out a thick volume. "Buzzblobs," he began reading. "Also known as kukemages. Attempts to attack it with a sword or short-range weapon will result in a nasty electric shock. In lieu of something long-range, it is best to avoid these slow moving creatures. They tend to stay indigenous to the southeastern quadrant of Hyrule in dry areas. Also, if you sprinkle magic powder on them, some say something strange might happen."
"So, what, it eats magic powder?"
"Ooh, methinks not. Tis a magical creature by nature. Let me take a look." The Seer put down his bowl and held out his arms for the Buzzblob. Zelda delivered the hefty baby into his hands.
"Oh, wook at da wittle baby buzzy, yes, youse is a big baby, yes, you is. Does da baby want some mashed seeds, does he, does he?" The Seer picked up a spoon of the white mush and held it in front of Buzzy while cradling him with his other arm. "Here comes the birdy!" he said as he flew the spoon around in front of the green critter. The buzzblob didn't seem to care much about it, just kept staring straight ahead.
"Um, yeah," Zelda said. "You keep working on that. I've got some other things to do." Zelda hastily exited the room before she got sick on any more of the Seer's baby talk.
The castle was starting to shade as the daylight from the windows dimmed. The pages were running around with candles, lighting the torches. Again that day, her thoughts came back to Mega Man and Link, wondering what they were doing, if they were in trouble or if they were wandering around lost. This wasn't a desire to be out there with him, fighting monsters and solving clever mysteries. This was about her own feelings of helplessness in these times of crisis, due to the fact she was a princess. Everyone was bent on protecting her as if she was as delicate and powerful as the Triforce. She wanted to be treated as an equal, she wanted to find out this mystery with them. This was about her abilities as a person, as a member of the castle.
As she turned the corner to the next corridor she spotted the purple robe of Noktwor rush through the archway down the hall. Zelda's interest piqued and without much thinking she decided to follow him. If there was ever a better opportunity, it wouldn't show itself for some time.
Picking up her dress she ran down to where she saw the advisor dart past. She looked left and saw a wooden door shutting at the end of the hall. Curious. That door led down to the basement, a storage room. Zelda picked up the pace and quietly opened the door too. She heard the footfalls of Noktwor on the stone steps spiraling downward. As quiet as she could she gingerly stepped down the staircase, otherwise her hard shoes would be making a lot of noise. She thought about taking them off, but decided she didn't want her feet to get dirty.
Cautiously, she stopped at the point where the wall ended. A candle's light flickered off the wall, reflecting some dim shadows. She carefully peeked around the corner and saw Noktwor taking a seat at the far end of the table. Three other people she didn't recognize were seated as well, wearing civilian clothing, no one she recognized. Opposite the vizier was a character shadowed by the candlelight. His face was too dimmed to see him well.
"You're late," the man in black said in an unearthly gravely voice that was anything but human.
"It wasn't my fault," Noktwor said in his nasal voice.
"Yes, many things aren't your fault," the black figure snidely commented.
"I have to keep my duties, or I'll be suspected. That damn bitchness is already sniffing up my skirt."
The three others sniveled with laughter. Zelda was visibly taken aback that the vizier had used such language, especially regarding her. No one in the castle dared talk with such vulgarity.
"We are not pleased with your performance, Noktwor. You've done some sloppy work. Some very sloppy work."
"I did what I told you I would, didn't I? I secured the pendants. It's not my fault that stupid old man decided to ruin our plans."
"They know your motive. They know your method. They have the pendants returned. If it wasn't for the back-up plan, none of you would be alive right now."
Zelda bit her lip as she wondered about the implications of this. Noktwor was working for somebody and working with somebody. And that someone had a plan, but what was it?
"Your guild of thieves," the man in black continued, "Is no better than common rats and snakes. You were too slothful and thick-headed to get those pendants where they needed to go before Link swooped down on you."
"It wasn't our fault," one of them said. "We had his back to the wall and then this blue guy came in and wiped us out. You shoulda seen him. He's got some freaky powers-"
"I am well aware of this person. This ally of his. I've already started preparations to render him ineffectual. He is not the reason you failed. You are. I do not tolerate poor performance. I do not tolerate excuses. And I especially do not tolerate insolence."
Noktwor curled his upper lip in defiance. "So what-"
"Silence," the shadowed figure said. "There is someone foreign here."
Zelda was already pumping her legs up the stairs. Now, she had the evidence to accuse Noktwor of treason. Immediately, she headed towards Horace's room.
The sign next to the door read 'Magic Shop'. Seemed explanatory enough. The shanty looked thin and scrawny. There was what looked like an elongated cow skull on the thatched red roof, hanging over the entry. The wood on the door seemed a very aged gray and brown.
"We go in?" Mega Man asked.
"Yup," Link answered. He stepped up the three stairs and opened the door. The shop had a long table stretched out in the middle of the room with three large pots in it, colored red, green, and blue. A man in an olive green hooded robe sat down in the corner of the table and wall and mixed a pot of potion. Next to the door a witch stirred a cauldron full of a bubbling red ooze. She had white stringy hair, a long hooked nose, and black garb complete with pointy hat.
"Double, bubble, toil and trouble. What business do you have for me today?"
"Do you still make mushroom brew here?" Link asked
"Mushroom brew! No one's brought me a mushroom for a very long time," she cackled. "Oh, how I miss the sweet pungent smell of the forest mushroom."
"Well, it's not exactly a forest mushroom," Link said as he pulled out the copper mushroom from his pocket. "Can you do anything with this?"
The witch dropped her jaw and let go of her wooden stirring spoon, which fell in the pot with a blurp. "A... copper mushroom. OOOOOH, you found it! You found it!" She scooped the mushroom out of Link's hand and held it up with both hands, like a delicate flower, while she pedaled her legs in place like a little kid. "Oh my, wait right here." The witch sped into the house, jumping over the table like a champion athlete and behind a door at the back of the room.
"Wow, that old lady can move," Mega Man commented.
Link smiled and approached the assistant near the pots. "Welcome. As long as you have an empty bottle you can take your pick. Red mends health, green restores magic, and blue does both. Would you like a sample of the red potion?"
"Uh, can he try it?" Link said as he thumbed back to Mega Man.
"Absolutely." The assistant took a wooden spoon out and dipped it into the red goo he was stirring, pulling out a bright red sample.
Mega Man looked apprehensive. "I'm not sure if I can-glup-" The assistant shoved the ladle into his mouth. Mega Man now had a heaping spoonful of red goop in his mouth and no way to get rid of it. He hadn't even a hole in the back of his mouth to swallow with.
"Well, is it working?" Link said.
"Ah reahy appwheahe wha oo are booin, buh ah cahha swawwow hih."
"What?" Link asked.
"He said he cannot swallow this?" the assisstant said.
"You have such digestive problems. How do you eat anything?"
"Ah don. Ih thehre omewhere ah cah spih hih ow?"
"Here," the assistant held up a jar to Mega Man's mouth.
"Ptoo!" He spit the red potion into a jar using his robotic tongue and mouth muscles.
"Well, then, red potion is a bust. Nothing affects you. You better be careful that your strength holds out, cause I don't know what's going to happen if you get hurt."
"I wouldn't worry. My power converter unit is self-sustaining. I have no known life-span."
"I'm more worried about battle."
"Woo-hoo!" the witch said as she came out. "This is gonna be good." She was dragging a large cauldron out from the back room, moving a few steps at a time.
"Uh, do you need some help with that?" Link asked politely.
"Nope, nope, got it all taken care of." She shoved the potion table back in one huge shove, clearing the way for her to drag her pot into the center of the room.
"How did you do that?" Mega Man asked the witch.
"I take my vitamins."
The cauldron was filled with a thick light blue texture, almost like liquid metal. She snatched Link's sword out of his scabbard while he was staring in the pot.
"Hey!" Link said, not expecting her to seriously use it on him.
"Now watch this." The witch stabbed the sword deep into the runny fluid. The bubbling ceased for a moment, as if it reacted surprised at the sword in its midst. Then it started boiling even greater than before. Tiny tendrils of purple electricity could be seen in the mix as the goo started swirling around the blade. The light in the room seemed dim as the blade started absorbing the liquid, as if it was going down the drain. As the potion level depleted, the sword began glowing with a strange blue energy, almost stained with it. Link knew something good was happening.
The blade sucked up the last drop of potion, leaving the cauldron cleaned. The witch handed back the sword to Link. "Now your sword retains the power of the storm inside it. It can amplify its magic power. Isn't it amazing?"
Link tilted the sword back, looking at its new electric blue color. "It sure is." Honestly, he didn't feel any difference, but it felt more powerful. There really wasn't any such thing as a bad upgrade to a sword, so he replaced the blade in its sheath and thanked the elderly maiden.
The two exited the magic shop and looked around.
"Well, that was helpful. But it didn't really assist in our quest," Mega Man said. The two started walking west down the river bank.
"The power of the storms," Link said idly. "It's as if the ether medallion is now infused into my sword. I wonder if perhaps this could open a door somewhere."
"Access to a weather-related door. Is there any-"
A spear burst out of a nearby bush, headed straight at Link's head. Mega Man's super fast reflexes caught the polearm a millisecond before it would have impacted. Link instinctively fell back and rolled away, drawing out his sword in the process.
Mega Man threw the spear away and turned to the bush where it came from, arming his Mega Buster. "Show yourself!"
A rush of moblins, armored with spiked shoulder pads and roman helmets, came running out of the bushes, behind the trees, brandishing spears and javelins. They snarled and barked, dripping drool from their jowls as they encircled and surrounded them. Slowly they closed in.
"Okay, wait. I changed my mind. Go back in."
Next Chapter: The Vase of Dr. Selkirk