Oh, and as for what knowledge of Zelda you should have, you really only need to know a good bit about Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and to a lesser extent, Twilight Princess. And I think most people who have played Zelda played these. Anyway, here's chapter 5. :]
Chapter 5: The Death Forest
As Link began walking through the first room in the Death Forest, he kept his guard up against any enemies who attempted to assault him. He rolled away, shoved aside, or hacked through any rotted logs that blocked his path as he made his way to the door framed with dead flowers on the other side. When the Big Skulltula hanging above it plunged down in front of the hero in an attempt to block the door, Link simply ended its life with an arrow, which easily pierced the creature’s skull-like back. He noted this with grim satisfaction; when he’d first encountered Big Skulltulas as a child, they’d frightened him, but he nowadays found them a nuisance and was glad he no longer had to wait for them to expose their soft underbellies for him to attack. Navi still shivered every now and then, but Link couldn’t blame her. The Death Forest was, after all, a frightening place to be in and Link could imagine even one of the bold Gerudo running off screaming once they saw it. It lived up to its name as well; from the many rotted logs to the wilted flowers framing the doors, this place reeked of death and Link could no suppress a feeling of sadness that the Great Deku Tree, and its Sprout, would spend their eternal rest in such a dismal place as this. However, he couldn’t afford to let these un-pleasantries distract him. This place was dangerous and, more importantly, he was determined to find his missing friend no matter what, just as Kelli was determined to find Judo.
Although the light was dim in the Death Forest, Link was still able to see what he was up against in the next room. After he entered, he noticed another door straight ahead outlined with rotted dead flowers, only this time thorny vines covered it. While the vines looked as dead as everything else in this place, these looked stronger than iron bars and their thorns looked as sharp as his sword. There was also an elevated platform in the corner of the room with a switch atop it, encased in red ice. However, there was no visible hookshot point near it on the wall and it was far too high for the Rod of Blue Flames to reach, so it was inaccessible to Link for the time being. All that remained was another dead black tree situated in the center of the room. Noticing a pair of large Stalchildren sitting on its branches, Link, another smile of grim satisfaction on his features, lunged for the tree and launched himself into a roll. The tree wobbled, nearly toppling over from the impact, and the two creatures fell from their perch.
By the time the two skeletal creatures hit the ground and noticed Link, the green-clad hero was already armed with his sword and shield, ready to attack. Unlike the other Stalchildren, who had been golden eyed like most of the other monsters Link had seen so far, these had navy blue eyes. Link noticed this and his eyes shot open in alarm, for he’d already encountered other creatures with peculiar eyes before and knew them to be dangerous, so he kept his guard up once more. Without hesitation, Link charged forward, only to be met with a bony hand colliding with his shield. The trusty shield held firm, as it always did, but the force of the impact buckled Link’s shield arm and nearly sent him stumbling. Link, recovering half a second before his foe, drove his sword into the first Stalchild’s neck and lopped off its head. While the first one wandered around like a blind man who’d lost his cane, Link realized the second had vanished from sight. That is, until a second bony hand struck the back of his head, knocking him to the floor.
Dazed for several moments, Link scrambled to his feet and quickly dealt two consecutive blows to his attacker’s spine. The creature literally split in half from the blow, the torso clawing its way towards Link to strike again until a swift kick from the hero sent its skull flying across the room. With one Stalchild gone, he was able to focus on shattering the other’s bones with one final blow. Mere seconds after the last creature fell, a staircase formed underneath the elevated platform. Link grimaced and brought a hand to the back of his head once he sheathed his blade and shield.
“Oh, ow… That really hurt. I can already feel a lump back here.”
“Yeah, I can see it,” Navi replied after floating behind Link to take a look. “You nearly passed out too.”
“Yeah, lucky break it was that I didn’t. Whoever is enhancing these monsters knows their stuff, I used to eat Stalchildren for breakfast and those two nearly had me for the main course. I’ll have to be careful, and make for the time I lost back there.”
Link then traversed the stairs to the platform, melted the ice with the Rod of Blue Flames, and pressed the switch. The vines on the next door retreated back to the dark earth, allowing him to move forward.
Link quickly raced back down the staircase and entered the newly opened door. The room on the other side appeared to be at least twice the size of any of the rooms he had been in so far, which meant it was probably the forest’s central chamber. There were four other doors in the room; two with thorny vines, one with a lock and chains, and the other had been barricaded by a block of red ice. More dead black trees were scattered about the slightly hilly ground while a flock of Keese fluttered above. Link could not tell if these creatures too had been made deadlier, but decided it would be unwise to bother with them while they had such great numbers. Moving quietly so as not to draw the flock’s attention, he pressed on instead.
Since the only door he knew he’d be able to open was the one blocked by red ice, Link headed straight for it and readied the Rod of Blue Flames. Just as the ice gradually melted, however, a pair of Keese nearby had taken note of Link’s presence and swooped for his neck. Thankfully, the hero heard them soon enough to quickly duck and whip out his bow. After launching two arrows into their flesh, Link quickly ran through the door in a bold attempt to avoid any trouble with the rest of the flock. He leaned upon the other side as he panted, the blood thundering in his ears quickly joined by the angry screeching of the cheated flock.
“Phew… Note to self: never mess with a flock of Keese unless you’ve got a plan.”
“Especially ones as smart as those,” Navi added. “They didn’t just notice you use the rod, they were waiting until your attention was elsewhere so they could catch you off guard.”
“Never thought I’d miss the monsters I fought in the dark future,” Link groused. “Still, at least you’re here to warn me.”
“I won’t let you down either,” Navi replied cheerily, or as close to it as was possible in such dismal surroundings and danger.
The next room was easily deadlier than anything Link had seen so far. Switchblades slowly slid across the floor while spikes were arranged in four rows between each one. Hookshot targets were scattered on the ceiling above the switchblades. Naturally, the next door was on the other side of the room.
“Wow, there’s a tricky path,” Link commented as he viewed his surroundings. “It’s risky, but it won’t stop me.”
“Hold on, Link. Think about what you’re getting yourself into,” Navi interrupted. “One mistake here and it could be the end of both of us.”
“True. I guess slow and steady wins the race.”
“Be careful of those switchblades,” Navi warned, her voice changing to a more depressing tone when she saw what else was waiting for them on the other side of the room. “…And the Keese.”
Link grunted and glared at the two creatures as he drew his hookshot.
When he thought his timing would be spot on, Link aimed and fired the hookshot at the first target on the ceiling. The device sent him rappelling upward so fast, the room seemed to blur. Once he stopped, he took a moment to let the head rush subside and glanced down at the switchblade below, gauging its speed and timing. After a moment of study, he dropped to the floor just as the first switchblade passed beneath him. Link sighed with relief as he safely moved out of its path and aimed his hookshot once more for the next hookshot point. Just as he soared over the next switchblade’s path, however, Link’s fingers, twitching from the head rush of his soaring about, strayed over the hookshot’s release switch. The hook came free of its resting place and Link plummeted to the floor just as the switchblade hissed over to greet him. He gasped and fired it once more, the switchblade passing so close to him he inspected his boots for gashes as he dangled until it was safe to drop to the floor once again.
“That was too close,” Link panted before moving on. “I really need to take my own advice and let my head settle before using the hookshot consecutively.” Now that he had relearned that vital lesson, Link bypassed two more switchblades without incident, hoping he wasn’t about to give Navi a heart attack at the same time. Just as he was about to fire the hookshot at the final hookshot target and leave the room, one of the Keese spotted him and, as usual, swooped for the kill. Within the next few seconds, Link felt sharp fangs pierce him in the back. Angered and grunting in pain, he quickly swung his sword and carved the creature in half.
After the Keese died, Link finally crossed the last set of floor spikes. Just as the hookshot took him to the ceiling, however, the second Keese, probably in an attempt to get revenge for its fallen friend, drove its fangs into Link’s chest. The creature’s bite was shallow but the pain was enough to make Link lose his grip on the hookshot and he tumbled to the floor. Luckily, he landed just barely outside of the final switchblade’s path. As he worked to soothe his aching body, he noticed with dismay that the hookshot was still lodged in the ceiling and was now far out of his reach.
“Ow…” Link groaned as he stood up. “I get blindsided by a stupid bat again, and my hookshot is stuck in the ceiling where I can’t reach it! Now I’m really annoyed.”
Luckily, Navi had the wits to fly up to the abandoned hookshot. Seemingly ramming herself against its release switch, she sent the device hurtling down to her partner who caught it in the air.
“You alright, Link?” Navi inquired worriedly, her tone suggesting that her retrieval of the hookshot had been rather painful.
“Yeah, and I owe you big time for getting the hookshot back. Let’s just go before we press our luck. I don’t need to waste my time taking out the other Keese.”
With that, Link quickly bolted through the nearby door.
Inside the fairly small room there was a blue switch on the opposite end of the room and a door to Link’s left with thorny vines barricading it. A rotted black tree stood in the center of the room, flanked by two unlit torches. As Link approached the switch, however, a circle of flames roared to life around it. Nearby, a Stalfos and two Stalchildren rose from the ground. The Stalfos’s eyes glowed golden while its Stalchild allies bore navy blue eyes. They slowly approached Link as the young warrior drew his sword and shield.
Link knew the enhanced Stalchildren were the less dangerous foes, as his near miss earlier has revealed, and he decided that the best strategy would be taking them out first. Link charged towards the one to the Stalfos’s right, swinging his blade to cleave the undead as he passed. But, the Stalchild leapt away with astonishing agility and Link found himself narrowly evading its claws. The Stalchild advanced and drew back its claws, no doubt intending to use the same maneuvers its brethren had in the beginning of the dungeon, but Link anticipated such tactics and ducked to avoid the bony hand. He followed up with a perfect thrust to the creature’s ribcage. The other Stalchild was nowhere in sight, but Link knew where it had gone. He whirled and leapt to one side, just in time to let the Stalchild’s claw flail past him rather than crush his nose and knock loose a few teeth, and brought up his blade to counter it. Soon enough, the Stalchild had only one hand.
The angry Stalchildren retook the offensive, one moving to Link’s side and the other swinging around behind him while the Stalfos maneuvered to attack Link head-on. This could only mean that they planned to attack at the same time, using different angles of attack to ensure that Link could not stop all three of them without one landing a blow. Drat! Even measly Stalchildren have grown smarter! Oh well, there’s only one thing I can do here, Link thought to himself. He brought his sword out and began focusing power in his blade. Seconds later, he unleashed a fully charged spin attack.
The attack sent Link into a dizzying whirl of deadly steel, and the room still spun around him when he’d stopped, but it managed to strike both Stalchildren. They soon crumbled to the floor in piles of bones. Link immediately turned his attention to the Stalfos, the creature’s eyes filled with anger and the urge to avenge its fallen comrades.
Link had not forgotten the display the Stalfos from the Lost Woods had shown in battle. This fight would not be easy if this Stalfos used Kelli’s sword techniques as well. The creature charged forth and swung its blade, only to have it blocked by Link’s shield. Link stumbled backwards from the impact, but managed to keep his footing. Immediately after, he retaliated with two stabs to the Stalfos’ chest. Its eyes flaring with rage, the Stalfos then leaped forward in a sudden jump attack, which Link dodged by no more than a hand span.
It was then that the Stalfos did something Link had never seen a normal Stalfos do before. It swung around behind Link and just as he was about to strike it again, the Stalfos scythed his leg at Link’s ankles, sweeping hiss legs out from under him and sending him sprawling to the floor. As Link was slowly getting back on his feet and groaning from the pain, the Stalfos suddenly attempted another jump attack to finish him off. Once again, Link launched himself to one side to dodge it.
“Erggh… Something tells me I’m going to need to come up with a few tricks of my own if I’m to find a way around Kelli’s techniques,” he opined, his voice growing thin with strain.
“Yeah… Then, not even monsters who have mastered them all would be a match for you!” Navi excitedly concluded.
“Exactly my point. I’d still like to learn them, though.”
Before anyone could say another word, the Stalfos leaped to one side, then rolled behind Link and rocketed into a spinning slash. Link realized his foe’s intent just in time and hurled himself to one side. The Stalfos’ attack sent it hurtling past and it ended up facing the wrong direction. Thinking quickly, Link kicked the Stalfos in the back hard enough to send it sprawling. As it attempted to stand up, Link rolled forward and finished it off with a stab into the creature’s upper back. The roll attack had been exactly what Link needed, as the Stalfos fell from the blow. Just afterwards, the flames surrounding the blue switch retreated, allowing Link to press it. Two unlit torches standing on either side of the barricaded door suddenly ignited and the thorny vines barricading the door itself withdrew.
Link could only smile now, as the next task was clear to his adventurer’s instincts, and was simple besides. He stood behind one of the lit torches, drew his bow, and launched two arrows through the flames. The arrows went ablaze as they flew through the fire, and landed squarely in the remaining torches to ignite them as well. Now that they had been ignited, a large treasure chest shimmered into existence between them. Link lifted the lid to find a rolled piece of parchment. After taking it from its resting place, he opened it and revealed a map of the forest.
“Heh, just as I figured,” he mused aloud with a punchy smile. “The map almost always came first in the many dungeons I’ve explored. And now that we have it, we won’t have to worry about getting lost. Hopefully we’ll find Saria by the time we’re finished.”
“Yeah,” Navi agreed. “I bet she’s being held in the boss’s lair somewhere.”
“That’s what I’m thinking too.”
Link rolled up the map and put it away.
“Well, let’s keep moving,” he continued. “According to the map, the next room is a dead end, but the key for that locked door in the central chamber might be there.”
The next room was even smaller than the previous chamber and there were no enemies in sight. In the center on a slightly raised platform sat a small treasure chest encased in red ice. Rotted black vines scaled the walls, so much so that Link idly wondered if the vines were the walls, while various dead plants decorated the moist, earthen floor.
Knowing the chest had to contain the key he needed, Link drew the Rod of Blue Flames and unleashed a gout of blue fire. He instantly kicked the lid open once the ice was gone and smiled at the shiny silver key lying before him.
“Ha, I knew it!” Link exclaimed as he picked up the little key.
“Yeah, now we just need to make it back to the central chamber,” Navi added, having not forgotten about the switchblade room.
“I know what you mean…”
“And don’t even think about losing your hookshot again, my head’s still killing me from the first time.”
Though he knew exactly what Navi was implying, Link bolted back through the room where he obtained the map, used his hookshot to go back through the switchblade room, and then entered the central chamber once again. He instantly ran to the door with the lock and chains and inserted his key. It slid right through the keyhole and the lock and chains fell away, allowing him to open the door. Link let himself in immediately after.
During the next several rooms, Link met up with more Stalchildren, Keese, Stalfos, Blue Bubbles, large Deku Babas, and big Skulltulas. These included both the common varieties of monsters he knew from the dark future and their enhanced counterparts. Aside from the deadlier Stalchildren, Stalfos and Keese, he also met Big Skulltulas which scuttled about on the ceiling unseen and descended upon him while he was climbing vines or rappelling with the hookshot, and therefore couldn’t strike back or even dodge them. Blue Bubbles that attacked in swarms to outflank and overwhelm him also struck, as did large Deku Babas. While obtaining the compass, a magic item with the ability to magically place marks for treasure chests and Link’s location on the map, in the process, the hero fought his way through them and the puzzles that awaited him in each room. After using the compass in conjunction with the map, Link noticed there was supposed to be a treasure chest situated in the center of the central chamber, even though he never saw one there before. This hardy surprised Link though, unseen treasure chests being revealed when he performed a certain task was a common occurrence in the dungeons he’d explored. In a room near the central chamber, a switch Link pressed caused the thorny vines on the next door to wither away.
Link went through it and found himself back in the central chamber, just as the map had shown. However, just as he entered, all the doors in the room were suddenly barricaded with more thorny vines and the Keese that had previously been idly fluttered above suddenly maneuvered into a triangular formation. At first, Link thought they might intend to swoop upon him all at once and sought cover but what happened next surprised him; the Keese continued to move closer to one another until they touched...and then melded together. Within seconds, the entire flock became a giant-sized Keese with one golden eye and one navy blue eye. Link merely stood there, his mouth hanging open. This was something he’d never seen or even imagined before. This new giant Keese was nearly twice his size and emitted a loud shriek that left his ears ringing.
“Uh-oh…” he mumbled, still unable to move. Suddenly, the giant Keese attempted a fast swoop in Link’s direction. He jumped out of the way to dodge it, only barely avoiding it. The giant Keese passed by so quickly that the rush of wind from its beating wings nearly blew Link’s hat, and Navi, across the room.
“Whoa! This thing is fast!” Link exclaimed as he watched the giant creature. “It’s going to wear me out if I don’t find a strategy. Navi, any ideas?”
“Hmm…” Navi thought. As the giant Keese attempted another swoop, Link dove to the floor in hopes it would be quicker than simply jumping. This maneuver proved just as dangerous, for Link was forced to roll over to avoid the giant Keese’s claws, but it instantly gave Navi an idea.
“Oh, I know! Link, try making it fly into the wall and then attack it with your sword!”
“…Ah, of course!”
Link positioned himself in front of one of the walls of the room and waited for the giant Keese to attempt another attack. Soon enough, the Keese once more beat its wings until a miniature hurricane erupted in the room and swooped towards Link, only to strike the wall head first instead of its target once he dove to the floor again. Its limp form crashed to the ground as Link scrambled to his feet. Link immediately bolted around it and drove his blade into its flesh. Navi’s idea was indeed the strategy he needed.
However, Link was only able to deal one blow before the Keese shook itself back to awareness and suddenly turned around to face him. Clambering about using the claws on its wings and feet, it snapped and slashed at the green clad hero. Since Link was still in front of the wall, the Keese had him cornered. Before it could attack again, however, Link rolled forward below its body, angling his roll so the creature couldn’t grab him, and the giant Keese took to the air once more. The Keese turned around again to face Link as he scrambled to his feet. It attempted another swoop, but since he wasn’t standing in front of a wall this time, Link was able to run towards the opposite side of the room. Again, he dove to the floor and the Keese flew head first into the wall opposite the one Link made it hit the first time. He then dealt it one more blow.
After Link repeated the process three more times, the Keese changed its tactics. It still went into a nosedive in Link’s direction, but instead of flying into the wall, it plucked him by the back of his tunic and carried him off into the air before he could dive to the floor.
“Daaaah!” Link yelped as he waved his limbs to wiggle free. “Put me down you piece of—!”
The Keese, unfortunately, decided to oblige him. It tossed him across the room. After landing hard on his stomach with the wind knocked out of him, Link slowly stood up, moaning in pain. Alright, new plan, Link thought as he spotted the Keese soaring towards him out of the corner of his eye. He quickly dashed towards another wall in hopes his slightly altered tactic would work. The Keese, as expected, dove once more. Instead of diving to the floor again, however, Link reverted to his original maneuver and jumped to the side to prevent the creature from grabbing him again. It was a near miss, but the Keese had collided with the wall once more, enabling Link to strike again.
After it recovered and faced Link, the Keese clambered towards him once more with its claws, trying to slash and bite Link, before taking to the air once again. This time, however, the creature moved much faster than usual and managed several glancing but painful blows with its fangs and claws. Link, since he was beside a corner of the room, quickly dashed in front of the nearby wall. The Keese attempted its nosedive once more, and again Link attempted to leap out of the way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quick enough this time. As he rolled under one of the Keese’ wings, the creature’s clawed feet seized him by the ankle and nearly succeeded in plastering Link against the wall along with itself. Only Link quickly slipping out of his boot stopped him from dying along with his foe. Link quickly scrambled to his feet and drove his sword into the Keese’s flesh for hopefully the final time. Instead of counterattacking, the creature screeched loudly and slowly fell limply to the ground, finally destroyed. A large treasure chest appeared on the hill in the center of the room and the thorny vines on the door that Link had not yet gone through receded.
Once the Keese was gone, Link took a very deep breath, sheathed his sword and re-buckled his shield at his back, plucked his soiled boot from the floor, and brushed it off.
“Good, no tears,” he commented after examining it for damage and slipping it back on his foot. “This is the only pair of boots I’ve got.”
“Which would’ve been the least of your problems if that thing smashed you against the wall,” Navi piped up. “I’m starting to think you’re in over your head this time.”
“I should probably come up with those new sword techniques, and learn a few from Kelli, before the next dungeon,” Link agreed. “I’ve been pretty lucky so far but it’s only going to get worse as we get closer to whoever is behind all of this.”
“Good plan. I’ll make sure you actually keep to it.”
Link then took note of the treasure chest and approached it.
“Well, this explains the treasure chest mark in here on the map.”
“It must be the dungeon’s hidden treasure,” Navi added. “Open it and see what it is.”
Link nodded and opened the treasure chest.
Inside, Link found a bow that was relatively larger than his old one. The tips of the handle were shaped like flames and colored like real fire. The handle was a muddy brown in color and had small spike-like ridges that weren’t very sharp projecting from the inside and outside edges. The rest of the bow bore different shades of blue. It was clearly more ornate than his old bow, which had been getting quite worn from many years of use. Link had recently considered getting a new bow, but never expected it would be in a dark, dead forest.
“Wow…” he mused as he admired the bow’s appearance. “I wonder what kind of bow this is. I’ve never seen one like it before.”
“Neither have I,” Navi added as she approached the bow in curiosity. “Hey! Didn’t the Great Deku Tree Sprout say something about you needing to find a power strong enough to break the curse on this place?”
“Yeah, he certainly did. He said I might find it here. I bet this is what he was talking about!” Link surmised. “The bow must have some special powers.”
“Exactly. Still, I wonder if there’s more to it than that. The shape of the tips sort of resembles the guard of Kelli’s sword. She might know something about this weapon.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right,” Link agreed after recalling the appearance of Kelli’s mysterious-looking sword. “I’ll bet anything she’ll have some answers. For now though, I’ll get rid of this old thing.”
Link then produced his old bow, snapped in it half over his knee, and tossed it to the ground. Once he equipped himself with his new bow, Link headed for the door that had newly become accessible upon the giant Keese’s death and pressed on.
Over the next few rooms, Link kept an eye out for a chest containing the boss key, which would allow him to enter the sealed lair of the dungeon’s boss. He normally found one in each of the dungeons he explored during his past adventures in Termina and Hyrule during the dark future, and suspected he’d find them in these dungeons as well. Then he’d head into battle with the dungeon’s boss. He wondered what he was going to be up against this time, since in this forest, many things were possible. Especially considering that someone was enhancing the monsters he encountered and making them deadly enough to nearly do him in.
After going through rooms filled with more enemies to defeat and more puzzles to solve, Link finally spotted the bright yellow and blue chest that held the sought after boss key. It rested on a platform on the far side of a huge chasm spanning half the chamber. A burning torch stood on the floor to Link’s left and another, unlit torch stood in a corresponding position on the platform where the chest lay. A door sealed with thorny vines was on the chest’s left. A rusty-looking eye switch was fixed upon on the wall next to it.
“This one again, eh?” Link commented, unimpressed by the minor obstacle. He rounded the torch, readied his bow and fired an arrow through the flames. The flaming arrow hit the torch on the other side and the needed flame crackled to life. A chain of white platforms, so clear that they were nearly transparent, shimmered into existence to form a path across the chasm, giving Link a means of reaching the other side.
“Thank you, experience,” Link opined with a smile. He leaped across the platforms quickly just in case they would only be present while the torch was lit. Once he was across, Link retrieved the boss key from the chest and turned his attention to the eye switch. He recalled having to use a heavy hammer known as the Megaton Hammer on rusted floor switches in the past during his first Hyrulean quest and wasn’t sure he could activate a rusted eye switch with normal arrows.
“Hmm… There’s a puzzler,” Link surmised as he brought a hand to his chin.
“Yeah. The answer to this must involve that bow’s special powers,” Navi guessed. “The treasures you found in the other dungeons all helped you in the dungeon they came from, right?”
“Indeed they did.”
For the next minute, Link contemplated on what abilities his new bow might possess to activate this mysterious switch. Off hand, it didn’t seem likely that a bow could help him here. He idly recalled his using the Megaton Hammer once more and recalled that it was able to activate a rusted floor switch because it was heavy and powerful. Powerful! That’s it!
“Navi, I’ve got it!” Link suddenly blurted as he snapped his fingers.
He immediately brought another arrow to his bowstring and held it there for a few seconds. Soon enough, the arrowhead produced a faint glow that grew brighter with each passing second. More fascinating still, the arrow seemed to grow heavier in his grasp. Curiously, Link ran a finger over the shaft and the arrowhead; the shaft now felt far stronger than it did in his quiver and the arrowhead was so sharp that his finger came away bloody.
“Yeah! I knew it!” Link exclaimed. “This bow has the ability to enchant normal arrows, making them stronger and sharper!”
He launched the arrow at the eye switch as he spoke. It activated instantly and the thorny vines on the door retreated. Link wasted no time going through afterwards.
As he went through the next few rooms, Link, for the first time, on top of things for once. The mysteriously enhanced monsters, combined with being on the receiving end of sword techniques he’d never seen before, had been quite trying but he believed his newfound weapon could tip the odds in his favor. His new bow’s magical powers were exactly what he needed to confront the powerful foes he had been meeting. Between the sharper arrowheads and stronger shafts, he suspected that one shot would probably kill even a Dinolfos instantly, and probably several creatures behind it as well. Link was relieved, but knew better than to get cocky. Between his experience as an adventurer and considering the difficulty of the challenges he already faced, Link could easily surmise that the battle was not going to be easy. Then again, he brought down many dangerous foes as a mere child and began wondering if even Kelli had done the same. Whatever the case, however, Link knew he would take on any challenge that lay before him if it meant saving Hyrule and those he cared about, even if he had to sacrifice his own life in the process.
When he finally entered the room containing the large door to the boss’s chamber, Link’s heart began to race. Between him and the door, however, were spikes protruding from the floor. Link immediately scanned the walls and the floor for any possible means to remove them. Not only was there a rusty eye switch encased in red ice on the wall above the door, but a lone white platform floated directly above Link’s head. The Rod of Blue Flames could not hope to reach the switch from such a distance, which meant Link would have to find a way to reach the platform above. Before he could take more than a single step, however, more thorny vines entwined themselves over the door behind him and an Armosaur dropped from nowhere and landed in his path with a thud and a roar. Instead of a sword, however, it was equipped with a lance and a large buckler.
“Ah, one of these guys again, huh?” Link commented with a nonchalant tone and a punchy smile. The Armosaur charged towards the hero immediately and drew back its lance to thrust for his chest. Link’s smile did not fade.
“Ha, I know how to deal with your kind by now.”
With that, he rolled behind the creature, the Armosaur’s momentum causing it to overshoot Link, and drove his sword into its back. Link’s blow had been lucky, neatly cleaving through a gap in the creature’s armor, and he followed up by shoving his foot into its flesh, sending it sprawling to the floor. Link immediately sheathed his blade and un-slung his bow. With practiced ease, he notched an arrow to his bow string. The Armosaur had managed to recover its wits enough to rise to its knees but was far too slow to save itself. Link launched a charged arrow right into the flesh of its spine and the arrow went right through the Armosaur’s back, its front, its chest plate, and out again, half the shaft boring into the opposite wall before it finally came to a stop.
Link looked on in mingled satisfaction and stupefaction, and then glanced at the bow itself.
“Wow,” he commented, seemingly talking to the bow. “We don’t know our own strength!”
“Okay, I was willing to give you a free pass for talking to the Fairy Slingshot since you were such a lonely kid,” Navi spoke up, seemingly amused. “But aren’t you a little old for that these days?”
“Sorry, old habits die hard. But, just as I hoped! Instant kill!” Link chimed. Upon the creature’s death, the thorny vines on the door crinkled away and stairs appeared beside the lone platform. Link did not hesitate to race up and fire the Rod of Blue Flames at the red ice encasing the eye switch. He followed with an arrow piercing its eye. The spikes blocking his path to the door of the boss’s chamber retracted into the floor upon the switch’s activation.
His heart racing until blood thundered in his ears, Link bolted through the large metal door like a horse at full gallop. He emerged to find himself standing on a very narrow platform, still charging ahead. By the time he saw the chasm on the other side of the door, he was already hurtling down it. Thankfully, there was a chamber below and a thick carpet of dead vegetation to cushion his fall. After taking a moment to get his racing heart under control, Link took stock of his surroundings. He was in a fairly large, empty chamber containing nothing but a moist floor, covered in the layers of dead plants that had prevented him from breaking a few bones upon his entrance, and walls covered with rotted vines which sprouted sickly looking flowers that Link couldn’t help but consider the floral cousins of the zombies known as Redeads. Dead bushes decorated the corners of the room.
Link’s exploration was suddenly interrupted by a ghostly cackle that echoed throughout the room. A figure wielding a sword began to descend from above seconds later. When it drew close enough to him, Link realized he was looking at a massive skeleton four times his size that was garbed in a suit of dark green armor. Its eyes blazed a golden hue, and seemed to blaze all the brighter at the sight of its victim. It’s jaws grinding together in a twisted, and failed, attempt at a smile and then it jiggled its bones, swung its massive blade, and let out a terrifying roar. Link could only guess it was an enlarged Stalfos with reinforced armor as he was caught in a baleful glare that left him all but paralyzed. In reality, this creature was not a Stalfos, but a monster called Tamuda, the giant undead warrior.
The creature began the battle by swinging his blade in Link’s direction. Tamuda’s armor and large size rendered him fairly slow, however, and Link easily vaulted out of the way, though he could tell one solid blow could end him. He scrutinized the creature for what would appear to be a weak point, but he could see no gap in the armor and Tamuda kept him too busy dodging and weaving for him to search in any case. Navi flew about and aided Link in his search.
“Geez, at this rate, I’ll be old before I find this thing’s weakness!” Link blurted as he avoided another blow from Tamuda’s sword, which missed by mere inches. Navi had just flown around to Tamuda’s bony backside and froze in delight.
“Hold on, Link! His back is unarmored! Try attacking it there!”
Link rolled between the monster’s legs before responding.
“Ah, of course! Those bones look strong, but that’s nothing my magic bow can’t handle!”
Tamuda had lost sight of Link, which gave the embattled hero plenty of time to launch a charged arrow into his backside. The arrow, empowered by the magic bow, blasted into Tamuda’s bones and out again, sending pieces of bone flying in all directions. Tamuda roared in pain and collapsed to the ground flat on his armored rib cage. He remained stunned for several seconds, allowing Link to drive his blade into the creature’s spine several times over.
Moments later, Tamuda sprung to his feet to face Link. He stomped towards the hero and drew back his blade for another attack. Link moved backwards, waiting until the creature swung his sword once more and gave him an opening to get behind his foe again. Link again vaulted to one side, rolled between Tamuda’s legs, and launched another charged arrow into his back. However, before he could reach the spine of the once again fallen Tamuda, Link found himself stumbling over the skeleton’s right leg and crashing to the floor. Though he had scrambled to his feet quickly enough to strike, Link was unable to deal as much damage as he had before. Nonetheless, Link was confident he’d prevail against Tamuda if this was all he had to do to defeat the undead giant. Or so he thought.
After Link had repeated his tactic four times, Tamuda decided to change his strategy. He stomped in towards Link after standing up, removed his head, and tossed it at the shocked hero. Link vaulted to one side, but the skull corrected its course and hovered near him. Link was about to fire an arrow at the floating skull when its eyes gleamed and it hurtled itself at him, forcing him to desperately roll out of the way. Worse still, the skull and the headless Tamuda now attacked in tandem so that Link was hard pressed to avoid one without getting hit by the other. Blast! This is starting to feel like the king of Ikana all over again, Link thought as he recalled his battle with the undead king in Termina. Only, light isn’t going to destroy this guy. Link knew he could attempt his original strategy and roll between Tamuda’s legs again, but the floating skull could still follow and hit him while he readied an arrow. His only option was to defend with his shield. After he held it up, the skull collided with the hard metal. The shield rang like a gong and Link could swear he heard his elbow creak under the abuse, but the skull fared no better and collapsed to the floor, stunned. As the rest of Tamuda’s body quickly scrambled to pick it up, Link used this opportunity to dash behind him and fire another charged arrow. He soon dealt several more blows to the spine.
Knowing now what he needed to do to finish off Tamuda, Link repeated his strategy again four more times. However, before he could deliver what would hopefully be the final blow, he toppled over Tamuda’s gigantic foot along the way. Tamuda had quickly used this fortuitous development to his advantage and swung his sword in Link’s direction, only to have the nervous hero quickly roll out of the blade’s path. Link immediately scrambled to his feet afterwards and launched another charged arrow as fast as he could. Tamuda collapsed to the floor for the final time as Link delivered two more blows to his spine. Once a third had been dealt, Tamuda suddenly sprang to his feet and emitted a long, loud roar. His spine soon snapped in two, with a report so loud it forced Link to drop his sword and clap his hands over his ears, causing the two halves of his body to collapse to the floor. Link brought his arms over his face for protection as a hail of bone fragments flew in all directions.
Upon Tamuda’s death, another large door magically appeared at the opposite end of the room from where Link first entered. The darkness in the room soon faded, giving Link a better view of his surroundings. However, though the curse on the forest appeared to have been broken, Saria was still nowhere to be found. Link’s only option was to enter the new, slightly glowing door and hoped for the best. He picked up his sword and slowly and nervously turned the doorknob, hoping he would find his missing Kokiri friend on the other side.
The chamber Link found himself in was very petite in size. All that it contained was a small stone altar bearing a fiery cloud of darkness. Within the next few seconds, the cloud quickly disintegrated to reveal a shining emerald colored gemstone in the shape of the spiral symbol on the Forest Medallion, an artifact Link collected during his previous adventure in Hyrule during the dark future. There were six medallions in all that represented the Sages of Forest, Fire, Water, Shadow, Spirit, and Light, and their respective powers.
Before Link could approach the stone, its glow grew brighter and brighter until it cast a beam of green light towards the floor to his right. The beam slowly transformed into a child-sized figure that soon revealed to be Saria herself.
“Saria!” Link blurted uncontrollably.
“Saria! Good Farore, I was so worried!”
Link couldn’t prevent himself from pulling the girl into a tight hug. Saria made no hesitation to return it.
“Oh, Link! I don’t believe it! It’s been so long since anyone has seen you!”
“I know,” Link admitted as the two released one another. “I’d love to give you a long apology for not explaining myself on that matter, but what the heck is going on here?”
“Ah, yes. There’s much you need to know,” Saria replied, her smile turning into a frown. “As you’ve probably seen by now, a new evil has attacked our land of Hyrule. The Great Deku Tree Sprout and I sensed a strange presence near the Sacred Forest Meadow.”
Saria went on to explain that she went to investigate the area and found that the seal on the entrance to the Death Forest had somehow been broken and waves of evil power were radiating from its chambers. Before any of the Kokiri knew it, monsters had begun appearing throughout the forest and the Lost Woods. Saria attempted to flee to the village, but before she could even take another step, a cloud of darkness enveloped her body.
“At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened after that,” Saria went on. “Now that you’ve rescued me, though, I think I understand. The Death Forest and the jewel you see here were cursed and the darkness trapped me inside the stone until you broke the curse.”
“I see. And what’s the story behind the stone?”
“I don’t know much, but I once heard that centuries ago, nine sacred jewels were created by two gods, though these were different from Din, Nayru, and Farore. They gave life to several elements we’re familiar with. There’s supposed to be jewels for forest, fire, water, wind, ice, light, shadow, spirit, and sky. The stone you see here, obviously, is the Jewel of Forest. The only other thing I know is that they were protected by two guardians until they were somehow forgotten.”
“Wow. I suppose I should take the jewel with me?”
“Yeah. I’m not sure why, but I feel you will need all of them.”
“Alright then, if you say so.”
Link then approached the altar and took the Jewel of Forest from its resting place.
“Boy, I’m sure glad I let Kelli convince me to work with her,” he commented as he gazed at the beautiful stone. “I’d still be clueless about, well, everything if I hadn’t.”
“Ah, I’m glad you met her. She’s more vital to saving Hyrule than she might let on.”
“What do you mean?” Link wondered, arching an eyebrow. “Wait, it involves those strange powers of hers, doesn’t it?”
“Exactly. She can explain all that to you much better than I, but I can tell you this. You two must combine your strength or Hyrule is doomed.”