by Brendan McGrath
Link walked up to the Water Palace, and saw Jema waiting for him.
"Let's go, Link," said Jema. The two entered the Water Palace. Link looked around. Statues filled the entrance hall, and Water flowed throughout the palace. Fountains gracefully offered water into the air.
The two came to a dead end. Water blocked the way to the rest of the palace. "Jema, what now? Is this all there is? Where's Sage Luka?"
Jema didn't answer. He walked over to a corner, and it was then that Link saw the switch set into the floor. When Jema stepped on it, a bridge formed over the water. "These switches are common in these old buildings. They are of a technology of long ago," said Jema.
The two continued into the main room of the palace, where Link saw a young girl kneeling before a pyramid shaped platform, with a mysterious liquid flowing in small trenches of the sides of the platform. She was dressed in a white gown, with a hint of blue in hit. Beautiful blue hair that matched the color of the water in the palace flowed from her head. She wore a small golden head piece that was not quite a crown.
On top of the platform was a glowing object that looked like a seed. Could this be the Seed of Mana that Jema mentioned? What did it do?
"Hey you!" called Link, "where's Luka?"
"Link!" scolded Jema,"that is Luka!"
"What?! You mean THIS girl is 200 years old?!"
Luka turned away from the seed. "Welcome! Who are you, young one?"
"I'm Link," said guess who?
"Luka, this boy pulled out the Mana Sword," said Jema, "He just fought a monster. He..."
"I know," said Luka, "the ebb and flow of the water brings me news from around the world. Link, I suppose you don't know a thing about this, do you?"
"I'm clueless," said Link.
"Oh, where to begin? OK. Mana is a power that gives us life, and keeps good and evil balanced. It nourishes us, gives us magic, happiness, and love. It is free from the influence of anyone. What seals its power from misuse are the Mana Seeds. If the seals on the seeds were broken, Mana could be controlled, and the balance and nourishment Mana gives us would be warped to evil. The seeds are in eight palaces all over the world, each holding the powers of an element. This seed on the platform is the Seed of Water.
"For some unknown reason, Mana has grown weak! That's why you were able to take the Mana Sword. Then, the balance of Mana in that area shifted, and an unusual amount of monsters appeared, like the Mantis Ant."
Link remembered the rabites he had seen.
"Mana has been weak for some time now. Monsters have been able to steal the sword's power, and keep it in orbs for their own use. Looks you have an orb from the Mantis Ant. You must find someone who can use it to reforge the sword a little bit more.
"The orb you have is now powerless. The orbs are powered by the Mana Seeds. Without the power from the Mana Seeds, it's just a normal sword. You must find all eight seeds, and find someone who can release the power that they give to the orbs. Gradually, the sword will regain its power."
Luka turned to Jema. "Jema, watch out for the Empire. It seeks to obtain the Mana Fortress."
"You mean the one that destroys the world in that fairy tale?" asked Link.
"That's no fairy tale," said Jema. The Empire is trying to awaken it!"
The Empire is trying to unlock the seals of the world's Mana Seeds. They'll use Mana to revive the Fortress, and all will be lost. Already strangers have begun to snoop around this palace!"
"Luka, something is terribly wrong in Pandora," stated Jema. "Could the Empire be involved?"
"I don't know," pondered Luka. "Jema, see the King of Pandora and tell him to be cautious."
"Right! I was on my way there now, actually, when I found Link." explained Jema. "Link, visit the cave called Gaia's Navel. Dwarves live there and know all about weapons. They may know someone who can empower that sword for you a little, using the orb you found." Jema descended the steps leading to the area around the Mana Seed of Water.
There was a brief silence. Luka asked, "Link, what are you afraid of?"
"Well... the Mana Fortress. What is it? How was it created?"
"Using the power of Mana, an ancient civilization had grown strong," began Luka. "In time, Mana was used to create the ultimate weapon: the Mana Fortress. It warped Mana to evil, and controlled it for destruction. The ancients used it to threaten the gods. This angered the gods, and they sent down their beasts to destroy the Fortress. A violent world rocked the world, and Mana seemed to disappear."
"Amidst the civilization, there was the Mana Tribe. They were dedicated to protecting the Mana Seeds. They forged a sword using Mana, and called it the Mana Sword. Before all was lost, a hero with the Mana Sword defeated the civilization. The beasts then locked the Mana Fortress away forever. The world was in ruin, but Mana and peace returned. The Mana Tribe rebuilt civilization, and undid the damage that the Mana Fortress inflicted on the world."
"That is the Mana Sword, but its power is gone! It used its last ounce of power to summon you..."
"Why did it choose me?" asked Link.
"I don't know, but now you must use it to reseal the melting seals on the Seeds, and gain their power to stop the evil of the Empire. Now, hold the sword up to the Water Seed!"
Link climbed the stairs to the seed. He held out the sword. The Sword and the Seed seemed to become one!
"Now the power of the Water Seed will be sent to your sword wherever you are!" explained Luka. "Reach Gaia's Navel through Pandora. And take this spear with you. The Mana tribe used it long ago. It will regain its power just like the Mana Sword. There must be more Mana Weapons in the World. Find them!"
"Thank you, Luka," whispered Link, in awe of everything. He was just a boy from Potos, of only fifteen. He'd lived a secure life, and now was told he'd have to travel the world in search of the Mana Seeds. And then what? With the seals put on the Mana Seeds once more, would the Empire give up? Or would they still seek domination? How could he, alone, battle an entire army? And where were all the other palaces of the Mana Seeds? Link was lost in confusion.