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They whipped around weapons at the ready but vines shot out of the ground around them, wrapping around their bodies. Gerad slashed at the vines but more replaced the ones he managed to cut.
Aerica glared at the Skullkid as he sauntered up to her, she struggled against the vines but got nowhere. He lifted his mask, perching it on top of his head, as he smiled at her.
“Well, hello, Aerica.” Charkosh said pleasantly.
“Hi.” Aerica said back in a level tone of annoyance. Meko struggled against the vine wrapped around him and managed to get his left arm out of the hold.
“Aerica!” Meko cried as Aerica gasped in pain. More thorns sprouted from her face and her left arm began to transform like her right one.
“My dear Aerica, you were too soft. You could have prevented all of this, by killing Charkosh. But you couldn’t do it.” Charkosh whispered into her ear, “Now, I’m afraid I’ll kill you and everyone else for locking me away. No one will stop me.”
Aerica laughed coldly, “You are sadly mistaken. I will defeat you Krell.”
“You can’t defeat me, I am the forest!” Charkosh cried as the vines tightened.
“Yeah, and I’m the Forest Sage.” Aerica yelled back, her sage energy gathered and she took control of the vines making them release their holds.
“No!” Charkosh screamed as the vines came at him.
He took out his ocarina and began to play. More vines shot out of the ground and intercepted the ones that Aerica controlled.
Aerica sneered as she called forth more vines. Vines shot out of the ground and snaked into the valley from the walls heading for Charkosh.
Charkosh glared at her then threw a purple ball at the ground by his feet. Smoke erupted from the ball when it splattered. The vines that touched the smoke caught fire or dissolved.
The smoke headed towards them but Aerica called forth a wall of vines so dense the smoke dissipated before it reached them.
“This is far from over, Forest Sage. Mark my words, I will kill you and take my revenge, starting with your friends in the Lost Woods.” Charkosh’s voices threatened as it burst into evil laughter.
“Coward!” Aerica screamed as the vines sank back into the ground or wherever they were called from. She tipped sideways but Gerad caught her before she hit the ground.
“Hey, you alright?” Gerad asked her.
She sighed, “Yeah, just ran out of energy is all.”
“We need to go to the Temple, quickly.” Meko urged hovering next to Gerad’s shoulder.
“Yes, lets take the passage behind the Great Duku Tree.” Dahrin suggested. The others nodded in agreement.
“Wait, before you go, I must tell you the story of Krell.” The Duku Tree said.
“We don’t have the time for the full story, just give the highlights.” Aerica interjected before the Tree could continue.
“You youngsters are so impatient nowadays.” The Tree pouted.
“Duku Tree.” Aerica sighed losing her patience.
“Fine, the basics, Krell was a forest spirit some hundreds of years ago that got too uppity for his own britches and so the Forest Sage of the time sealed him away.”
“That seems to be the theme so far.” Gerad sighed, Dahrin chuckled in agreement.
“Well that may be but it’s still the story, anyways, before he was sealed away he swore vengeance on the Kokiri. A few years ago Charkosh and Aerica went to the Temple on a routine check, Charkosh somehow became possessed by Krell, Aerica was suppose to have killed him but only sealed him. Now, we assume, Ganondorf has set him loose to wreak havoc on everyone.” The Duku Tree concluded.
“No offense, Great Tree, but how does that help us?” Lucius asked.
“What do you mean?” The Duku Tree asked.
“It’s wonderful to know history, but unless you tell us his weakness or something, it’s useless. Do you have any idea how to beat this Krell?” Lucius asked.
The Duku Tree was silent, the group waited for him to answer. Some minutes later the Duku Tree took a great breath. They waited anxiously for his wise answer.
“You’re on your own with that one, kids.” The Tree answered.
“What kind of answer is that?!” Lucius cried.
Aerica exhaled in exasperation, “Just drop it Lucius. Let’s go.”
They went to the passage behind the Duku Tree and filed through, as Gerad passed the Tree he dropped a vine in his way to make Gerad stop.
“Hold a minute my friend.” The Tree whispered.
“Yes?” Gerad asked turning to the Tree. Meko sat on his shoulder looking from him to the Duku Tree.
“If I’m not mistaken, you are Link’s son?” The Tree asked.
“Yes, my father has told my sister and I the story of his adventures, how he used to live here and how he saved the Temple.” Gerad answered.
“Then, it would be safe to assume that you are now the new Hero. Take heed to my words Hero, not all enemies are flesh and blood. And not all choices are black or white.” The Duku Tree said ominously.
Gerad stared at him in confusion, “Thanks, I’ll be going now.”
“Have fun.” The Duku Tree said smiling, “Use your pendant wisely.”
Gerad ran to catch up with everyone, “What did he mean Meko?”
Meko sighed, “Who knows, but just remember his words, they have a habit of making a dreadful amount of sense later, usually after you’ve made some horrible mistake.”
Gerad sighed, “Great, more advice to haunt me.”
“That brat!” Charkosh hissed as he landed on the branch of the tree in the courtyard of the Temple.
He glared at his hostages, ‘They won’t satisfy your lust for revenge, leave them as bait.’
“I did not ask you, go back into your hole and leave me be. I will take revenge my way.” Krell growled.
A shimmering apparatus in the form of Charkosh appeared next to him, ‘Why waste your time, that you only have so little of, with someone who has done nothing to warrant your wrath?’
“You’re saying, to leave them alone and save my energy for the Forest Sage?” Krell asked.
‘Yes.’ Charkosh answered.
Krell thought for a bit then smiled sadistically, “You’re brilliant! I’m so glad I took over your body, if it had been someone else we wouldn’t have lasted this long. Thanks. Now, to go prepare for our guests.”
The apparatus of Charkosh rolled his eyes as Krell took off into the Temple. He looked at the four forms wrapped in vines and floated down to one of them.
Meria watched him approach in silence. “What do you want?” Meria asked when he stopped next to her.
‘Long term? Or at this moment?’ Charkosh asked sarcastically.
“Let’s hear long term. I’ve got nowhere to go to, tell me your dastardly plans for the future.” Meria answered just as sarcastically.
Charkosk chuckled, ‘I, unfortunately, cannot tell you my plans. They’re a secret.’
“Phooey, here I was hoping to be entertained by wild fantasies of world domination.” Meria smirked.
The phantom of Charkosh shrugged, ‘My apologies, but alas, I’m afraid I must leave you now.’
“Bye.” Meria sighed settling herself to being bored again.
‘Oh, Miss?’ Charkosh said turning to face her again.
“Yeah?” Meria asked in an annoyed voice.
‘Could you not tell Aerica you saw me? I’d rather her think I’m dead.’ Charkosh asked sincerely.
Meria was taken aback, “Why would you care if she knew you were alive or not? You’re the bad guy aren’t you?”
Charkosh laughed, ‘Yes, that is what I want her to believe.’
He disappeared and left Meria more confused than she was before. Now she didn’t know what to do if Aerica showed up. Should she tell her or follow Charkosh’s wish and let her remain ignorant.
“Wonder what their relationship is.” Meria mused to herself.