Again there are a few typos but all in all they are good chapters
Great, thanks a bunch. :]
Time for chapter 8. :]
Chapter 9: The Magma Cavern
By the time Link reached the base of the staircase, he found himself more than he was in the crater. Whatever he was heading to, it had to be much, much hotter than the crater itself; even with his Goron Tunic to protect him from the worst of the heat, Link felt ready to pass out. It was then he realized that he must’ve been traversing deep into the depths of Death Mountain, below the surface of the crater, and towards the fiery heart of the volcano itself. And naturally, it was certain to get even hotter as he continued. Still, whatever Link faced in this place would be worth it as long as he found Darunia and got his hands on another Elemental Jewel. And considering his location, he figured it would more than likely be the Jewel of Fire.
The chamber at the foot of the staircase was fairly small and contained nothing but a barred door straight ahead and two small trenches on either side of the room. Above the door there was an eye switch. However, this one was of a sort Link had never seen before. It appeared to be rusted over like the ones Link had seen in the Death Forest, but instead of the normal rusty gold color, it was enveloped in a dark grayish blue. Link merely smiled upon noticing it.
“Heh, I think I know exactly what to do here,” he opined confidently.
With that, he produced his Guardian’s Bow and brought an arrow to his bowstring. Using the new power Daphnes had given him, Link transformed it into a Sun Arrow and let it soar into the eye switch. The strange, dark grayish hue vanished and the switch activated instantly. Link heard a creaking sound followed by a strange trembling, and turned to see what looked like two floodgates within the trenches rising. Then, the rumbling grew louder and the room even hotter, which Link didn’t even think was possible, as lava began to flow to the opposite side of the chamber. The bars on the barricaded door retreated soon after, allowing Link to move forward.
“Am I bright, or what?” Link bragged aloud with a laugh.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Navi replied. “We’ve still got a long way to go and who knows what else will happen.”
“True. I wasn’t really being serious anyway. This room was simply that easy to figure out, especially compared to what I’ve seen so far.”
Link then proceeded through the door, curious about what he would be up against next. Before he could even begin to explore the next room, however, he found himself standing face to face with the head of a massive dragon. Reacting quickly, thinking he’d just run into Volvagia’s roommate, Link rolled to one side and had nearly released an arrow when he realized the dragon was made of stone.
“Smooth,” Navi snickered. “It takes a real dragon to scare most people.”
“Shut up,” Link fired back.
Calmer, but no less embarrassed, Link examined the “dragon” more closely. It turned out to be just a dragon’s head, albeit one as big as an entire real dragon, protruding from the wall straight ahead. Even its teeth had been carved out of solid rock stalactites and stalagmites. Idly wondering which were the stalactites and which were the stalagmites, Link peered into its open mouth and saw a small pedestal deep inside. On either side of the head were hands, or whatever dragons had at the ends of their arms, carved from stone bearing claws of stone that had been carved to be as sharp as the real thing. Despite knowing that the dragon was only a carving, Link couldn’t help shuddering.
“For a second there, I thought I was looking at Volvagia’s cousin or roommate or something,” he opined, recalling the vicious dragon he fought in the Fire Temple during the dark future and giving the much too realistic statue a wide berth.
“I was almost fooled myself. Whoever carved that is one skilled sculptor,” Navi agreed. “And must not mind heat much for that matter.”
“Yeah. …Hey, there’s a stone tablet over there in the middle of the floor,” Link replied, pointing to a large square stone sitting in the center of the room. “Let’s go check it out.”
Navi wasn’t hesitant to follow as Link rushed over to the tablet and carefully read it. Unfortunately, its text wasn’t exactly encouraging. It read:
Within this Magma Cavern lies the jewel of flames
Burning with the sacred light of the gods
If ever this flow of peace shall be disturbed
The mountain’s rage will consume all
“Oh no…” Link uttered. “I’m no expert on deciphering stuff like this, but I think I know what this tablet is telling us.”
“W-What?” Navi stammered, already knowing it the answer was not pleasant.
“The Jewel of Fire must have once been displayed inside the mouth of the stone dragon head,” Link explained, pointing to the empty pedestal. “However, it’s not there anymore. That could be the reason Death Mountain is now enveloped in endless chaos. I bet this cavern was built to house the jewel, and that the jewel’s power regulated the activity inside the mountain. That would explain why Death Mountain’s eruptions were, well, never anything to worry about. At least, not in Kakariko and Goron City. Now, since the jewel is missing and I’ll bet my hat it’s in the hands of the enemy. If we don’t recover the jewel, the mountain could violently erupt if we don’t hurry!”
“Ah!” Navi cried, her whole body trembling. “And if that happens while we’re in here, then we’ll get turned into jerky!”
“Exactly. And much of Hyrule will be incinerated. Which means we have to work fast.”
With that, Link immediately began considering his options. A fairly large metal door with bars in front of it stood below the dragon head. On either side of Link were two more doors. The eastern door was accessible, but the western door was sealed shut by chains and a stout lock. Above each of the dragon’s hands were unlit torches. In the corners of the room were more small trenches, perhaps like those in the previous chamber.
“Well, this seems pretty straightforward. Seems like all I have to—YAAA!”
Before Link could finish, four large, red slugs wreathed in flames descended from the ceiling, causing him to nearly stumble backwards again. Navi merely sighed irritatingly.
“Here we go again…”
“Ugh, of all the disgusting—wait, I don’t need to deal with these things, the door over there’s open. I’m outta here!”
On that note, Link bolted through the eastern door, avoiding the Torch Slugs. Ever since the Fire Temple, he loathed the thought of seeing even one of those things again. Unfortunately, the next chamber did not oblige him.
“Aw, say it ain’t so…” Link groaned, watching several more Torch Slugs wandering the next room.
“Really, Link, are they honestly that bad?” Navi opined.
“Are you kidding me? Don’t you remember being in the Fire Temple? These little monstrosities were practically all over the place! And I just think they look plain nasty. I can’t stand them!”
“Sigh… Well, that’s the life of a hero for you. You’re always going to run into enemies you really wish didn’t exist.”
“True. Well, time to get to work. The trench continues past this room, so I’m assuming we’re going to have to restore the lava flow here too,” Link analyzed. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up doing this throughout the cavern. If we’re lucky, doing that will help prevent the mountain from going kaboom.”
“I agree. It’d probably buy us more time to find the jewel at least.”
“Yeah, and the next door just so happens to be open. See ya, slug faces!”
“Link, wait up!”
Link made a dash for the metal door, but just as he approached it, a set of bars plunged down in front of it. Several screeches echoed from behind him, scorching his ears. The hero then turned around to see a Torch Slug, bearing a mouth full of sharp, slimy teeth, lunging for him. He quickly side-stepped the creature and forced it to crash into the door, spattering red gunk everywhere. Some of the gunk landed on Link’s shield arm and, an instant later, he felt as if he’d just shoved it into an oven.
“Yeeoouucchhh!” he screamed, removing his gauntlet and pulling back the sleeve to see that his arm had been burned so badly that some of the skin had turned black.
“These things are even worse than before!” he exclaimed, shocked at the damage. “It’ll take about a gallon of red potion to heal this!”
Before Link could make another move, however, he noticed another Torch Slug had dropped from the ceiling. This one, however, was twice the size of the others and looked at least four times as deadly.
“You slimy things just really want to annoy me, don’t you?” Link angrily replied, gritting his teeth against the pain in his arm and drawing his blade. “Alright, you asked for it!”
“There he goes again…” Navi uttered as Link sliced Torch Slug after Torch Slug in half. “Be careful though! If that gunk gets in your face…”
Navi didn’t have a chance to finish her sentence but, then again, she didn’t have to. A direct hit to Link’s face with that searing gunk would leave him blind...or dead. Fortunately, even with their new tricks, the Torch Slugs remained as vulnerable to attack as ever and, learning from his earlier wound, Link kept his shield up as much as possible. Because of the burns to his shield arm, his eyes were tearing from the pain, but Link was nonetheless able to finish off the big one just as easily as it had its underlings. Within minutes, the red gunk was practically all over the room, even in the trench. The bars blocking the metal door rose, opening the way forward. Link then groaned when he saw his sword’s blade.
“And this is another thing I hate about Torch Slugs!” he opined. “Having to wipe their slimy guts off my sword! Heck, in this case, I can’t wipe it off! I’d probably roast my fingers trying to.”
“Now that, I do think is annoying,” Navi replied.
“Yeah, especially since this is one beautiful sword I got my hands on,” Link agreed. “It was as tall as me when I first got it, but the Great Fairy’s Sword never let me down, just like the Master Sword. And I hate having to dirty up all these pretty colors.”
“And here I was thinking the purple color and the flowers were too feminine for a macho man like you…”
“No, seriously. In fact, this sword’s beauty makes me think of Zelda…”
“Heh, Zelda, eh?”
“Yes, Zelda. But that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Whatever you say… Hehe…”
Link merely grumbled as, for lack of something better, he scraped the gunk off of his sword on the edge of one of the trenches, sheathed it, and proceeded through the next door. The trench, as before, ran through it to the other side, except a small iron door closed off the far end. However, this time, there was no metal door straight ahead. Instead, nothing but rock blocked the way forward while the rest of the room remained empty. Link’s eyebrow rose moments later.
“Okay… This is messed up,” he commented.
“Well, wait, Link… Doesn’t that section of rock in the middle of the back wall look a little…different?” Navi replied. “It appears to be more flat and smooth.”
“…Oh yeah, it does,” Link agreed, squinting to get a closer look. “This can’t be natural. I don’t think it’s a mural either, there’s nothing on it. Maybe it’s some sort of door?”
With that, Link scrutinized the room for some possible way to open this so-called door, but other than the trench, the chamber was as empty as a Redead’s brainpan. Or was it?
“Aha!” Link opined moments later after spotting a few large cracks on the wall opposite of the trench. He quickly approached it and made no hesitation to set a bomb at its base. After rushing away and covering his ears, Link watched as the blast blew away the rock and revealed a floor switch on the other side. The hero smiled as he rushed back over and stepped on it.
“Jackpot!” Link blurted excitedly as the stone door rolled to one side, revealing the way forward. Behind it was a tiny chamber that housed another lever much like the one in the crater.
“I don’t know, that was a little too easy,” Navi protested as Link quickly approached the lever and pulled it down. The iron door in the trench rose seconds later and allowed a stream of lava to pour into the previous rooms within moments.
“Yeah, you’d think a monster or two would—” Link began, but was cut off by a loud reptilian roar. Within the next few seconds, an Armosaur plunged through the ceiling. The armored saurian faced Link, hefting its lance and shield menacingly. Iron bars then descended in front of the door to the previous room, blocking Link’s exit.
“I figured as much,” Link grumbled, drawing his blade. This Armosaur had golden eyes, which meant Sun Arrows would be next to useless against it. It hadn’t taken Link long to notice that his arrow stock was getting low either. He’d need to save what he had left for when they became absolutely necessary. At least he could practice the techniques he’d learned from Kelli in the meantime…but his seared shield arm would surely complicate things.
With that, Link charged towards the creature and, gritting his teeth as he did so, thrust his shield forward before it could react. Putting so much pressure on his severely burned arm made Link feel as if the limb was ready to fall right off, but the technique had worked. Dazed and nearly off balance from the shield attack, the creature stumbled backwards, only to receive at least a few blows to the chest from Link’s blade. Link executed the last blow hard enough to knock the monster to the floor. When it didn’t move immediately, Link leaped into the air, pointed his sword towards the creature, and finished it with the ending blow. He confidently back flipped off the creature when he knew it was finished.
“Heh, just those two techniques alone has already made this easier!” Link proclaimed happily, still gritting his teeth. “Kinda hurt though.”
“Yeah, I should say so,” Navi agreed. “Hey, look!”
The fairy turned to see a small treasure chest shimmer into existence on the floor next to the lever.
“Oh, that must be the key we need for that one door back in the dragon head room,” Link surmised. “I would’ve preferred about a dozen red potions, but we should be able to solve the puzzle behind restoring the lava flow here.”
“Right, let’s go!”
With that, Link kicked the treasure chest open and retrieved the expected small key from within. He then hurried back to the chamber with the dragon head with Navi following closely behind him. Along the way, he watched as the lava flowed through the trench all the way back to the dragon head. They hoped that this would help to stall any eruption which the evil plaguing the mountain sought to trigger. Once Link and Navi had set foot in the dragon head chamber once again, the lava from the previous rooms flowed through the trench and into the inaccessible chamber beyond the dragon head itself. As if reacting to the lava’s presence, the torch above the eastern stone dragon hand ignited. In that same instant, a large treasure chest shimmered into existence in front of the stone tablet.
“Perfect! That’s gotta be the map!” Link blurted and darted over to the chest. He threw it open immediately, and, just as he’d guessed, the map was rolled up inside. The hero quickly opened it and scanned the rooms inscribed on it.
“There are three floors, and there’s only two chambers beyond the next door, it seems. One of them is really small.”
“Yeah, that must be where the second lever is,” Navi replied as she scrutinized the map as well.
“Agreed. I wonder why this other room is so big though. Guess we’ll find out soon. And…holy smokes! The bottom floor is enormous!”
When Link examined the diagram of the third basement floor, he counted more than two dozen chambers, some large, some small, spanning throughout the entire mountain.
“Dang, you’re right!” Navi replied, just as shocked. “Just goes to show, the lower you go, the bigger it gets in here.”
“Psh, you can say that again. Oh, and check this out. It seems once we go through the door below the dragon head, we’ll figure out how to get down there. There are no other rooms up here besides what’s behind these other two doors and the floor directly below us has only a single chamber, and it’s under the one behind the dragon head. I’ve got a hunch about this, but I’ll save it for later.”
“Good idea. We should get moving.”
With that, they avoided the Torch Slugs as before and proceeded through the locked door to the west. Unfortunately, Link was forced to halt in his tracks once again. Before him, in the large, hot chamber, were about two dozen red blocks scattered on the floor. Several surrounded the door ahead, blocking Link’s way forward, though they were low enough for him to peer over and make out iron bars sealing the door on the far side. Another empty trench lined the eastern wall. Link shook his head before speaking.
“Oh boy… This sure explains things…”
“I must agree…” Navi added. “It’s a block puzzle. And we all know what these kinds of puzzles are for.”
“Yeah, I know. Because the bad guys like to make us jump through all sorts of hoops to reach them. Anyway, time to get started. The door is sealed off, so there’s gotta be a switch for it around here somewhere. The idea is to move the blocks so they don’t block either the switch or the door in the end. They’re too high to climb.”
“Right. I’ll find the switch from up above.”
Link nodded and chose to start by creating a path to the door. He then approached the nearest block and, deciding not to risk further injury to his shield arm, used his sword arm to shove it with all his might. There were at least a couple layers of blocks barricading the door. Still, Link pushed and shoved, thankful that at least this puzzle would give him a good workout. He wouldn’t even be close to as muscular as he was if it weren’t for all the blocks he’d pushed, rocks he’d thrown, and heavy weapons he wielded in the past. This also made him realize Kelli must be stronger than the average woman as well, since she was able to help pull him over the cliff in the Kakariko graveyard and carried a heavy shield. Still, he’d be surprised if she could move one of these monsters. They were taller than Epona, heavier than a Lon Lon cow, and Link was moving them at a snail’s pace.
“Hey, Link! Back here!” Navi called moments later just as Link was working on the final layer of blocks before the next door. He looked up to see Navi floating over the northwestern corner of the room.
“Alright, just give me some more time here…” Link replied and continued moving the blocks. Unfortunately, by the time he’d made his way to the barricaded door, he realized he’d pushed the blocks to where they prevented Link from reaching the switch even more so than when he’d started. This left him puzzled for a few moments, but he smiled again soon after and snapped his fingers.
Link then went to the opposite side of the nearest block he’d pushed and returned it to its original position. He did the same with one other block that he’d set in the switch’s path afterward. Though he had now boxed himself in an area that included the barricaded door, he could now access the blocks he needed to move in order to reach the switch. There wasn’t enough space for Link to move any of the blocks far enough for him to get through, but he knew exactly what he was doing. All he did next was push a block directly below Navi and soon enough, a popping noise echoed from behind it.
“Ah, that’s what you were trying to do!” Navi realized, descending back to Link.
“Yeah, when I noticed the way the blocks were positioned over here, I figured it wasn’t that I had to press the switch directly. I had to put a block on it,” Link replied with a smile. “But…why isn’t the door opening?”
“Up there!” Navi exclaimed, gesturing towards an area above the door. A stone panel was sliding open to reveal another rusty eye switch. This one, however, was the normal yellowish color, unlike the switch from when Link first entered the cavern.
Link quickly made his way back to the door, produced his bow, and fired a charged arrow directly into the eye. Upon its activation, the bars on the door retreated, allowing Link to move forward. He then proceeded through to the tiny room that was shown on the map.
“How’s your arm?” Navi inquired as they crossed the threshold.
Link drew back his sleeve, seeing that the burns still looked nasty. Most of his arm was either too pink or red, leaking blood and puss, while some patches of skin had turned as dark as overcooked chicken. The parts that were too pink or reddish hurt as if hot nails had been driven into his skin but the patches of skin that had turned black didn’t hurt at all.
For some reason, however, Link was convinced that this was not a good thing.
“That…doesn’t look good,” Navi opined, sounding worried. “Maybe we should go back to Kakariko for some red potion, maybe twenty or so, and then come back.”
“We don’t have that kind of time!” Link retorted. “If we find a healing fairy, that will probably do the trick.”
“Okay,” Navi replied, her tone suggesting she wasn’t convinced.
Beyond the door, another iron door closed off the end of the trench while the lever was on the opposite wall. The only light that illuminated the room was a fairly large torch on the north wall. Without hesitation, Link grabbed hold of the lever and pulled it down. The iron door in the trench rose, revealing the flowing lava behind it. It freely flowed into the previous room, allowing Link to retreat back to the dragon head chamber once more. He had to push one more block in order to leave the previous room, but he arrived just in time to see the lava flow into the room ahead. The torch above the western stone hand ignited, and finally, the door below the stone dragon head itself opened, the bars on it rising until they completely vanished.
“Bingo! Now that we’ve got lava flowing through both trenches, we’ll see if my hunch from earlier is correct!” Link proclaimed. He eagerly barged through the door in hopes that what he suspected he’d find in side was really there.
This room, as the map had depicted, was small. The two trenches from the earlier rooms met to form one large trench near the center, which then sloped downward into a curving spiral. The lava flowed into the large trench and down towards the lower floors. Hanging on a metal hook on the wall nearby was a long slab of metal. Link grinned confidently and rushed over to it.
“Just as I thought! We have to use the lava to reach the bottom floor!”
“W-What?! You don’t mean slide down it like you’re snowboarding, do you?!” Navi blurted nervously.
“That’s exactly what I mean! Metal doesn’t normally float though. Unless…”
Link then knocked on the metal slab and the sound that greeted him was one he recognized immediately from over seven years of blowing things up.
“It’s hollow! Of course! Man, this is going to be awesome!”
“L-Link, wait! I don’t think this is—!” Navi protested. Link, however, paid no attention and plucked the slab from the wall. Navi grabbed onto the end of his hat, murmured something to the effect of “we’re all gonna die,” just before he swung the “lava-board” under his feet and leaped into the lava river.
“WOOOHOOOO!” the hero shouted raucously as he slid downward on the lava. This was the first time he’d ever had fun in quite awhile. Navi, however, struggled to hang on to his hat and only squealed in fear as bits of lava splashed everywhere. Unfortunately, she soon noticed flaming rocks plunging through the ceiling as well as jagged ones protruding from the lava.
“Link! W-Watch out!” she cried.
“Oh! Phew, that was close,” Link replied after he’d swerved to the left to avoid a flaming rock and then jumped over one sitting in the lava.
Even with these deadly obstacles, Link still enjoyed himself as he continued avoiding rocks left and right and making his way down the curvy lava river. Still, Navi continued to shudder. One wrong move, and Link could be turned into ashes. How the heck was he not scared or worried? Then again, Link hardly feared anything. He was a warrior who’d battled all manner of giant monsters and many evil villains, after all. And, of course, he needed to have some fun once in awhile too, even if he was on a quest to stop evil.
After what seemed to Navi like an eternity and a near-death experience all rolled into one, the two finally reached the base of the river, with Link making another flying leap out of the lava and onto the floor while Navi was slouched on his head. He then set the slab of metal up against a nearby wall, an ecstatic grin on his face.
“Woooo yeah! That was even more awesome than I thought it would be!” he opined. “Who knew part of a cursed dungeon could be so much fun?”
“Link, seriously?” Navi retorted, flying off of Link’s head. “We were so in danger back there! It was scary!”
“Yeah, but it was still fun! In fact, I had such a blast, I wish I could go back up and do it again!”
At that, Navi merely froze where she floated and then fell to the ground. Link merely shrugged as he picked her up and stuffed her under his hat. He then took a look at his next set of options. There were two doors on either side of the lava river’s end, which closed off in the shape of a dragon’s tail, which was carved into the wall, as well as legs. Each of the dragon legs had a flight of stairs carved into them that led to a bridge over the river. The eastern door was sealed off by bars while the western was accessible, which meant Link’s next path was obvious. However, he didn’t believe for a second that the remainder of the dungeon would be easy. Dozens of chambers were still unexplored, and he hadn’t even found the compass or the main treasure yet and, despite his confidence that he’d find a healing fairy, he was still worried about his burned arm. Plus, the Death Forest had proven to be a challenge despite that it was only the first dungeon. In Link’s past adventures, the enemies and dungeons he explored grew progressively more difficult and the Death Forest was far deadlier than he would ever have guessed. Still, he’d triumphed in all of them, no matter how hard they were, and that said enough.
As Link continued exploring the cavern and checking the map, he noticed that there was a sort of pattern to the rooms on the lowest floor. Behind each of the two doors in the room where the lava river ended were two more doors, both leading into series of rooms that circled around the entire dungeon, though neither side linked to the other to complete the circle. At the northernmost point on the map was a large, oval-shaped chamber, which was probably where the dungeon’s boss lurked. However, the map showed no clear entrance to it. This puzzled Link, though he figured the answer would appear to him later on.
Link pressed on, encountering creatures both familiar and new, and eventually realized something strange, something impossible.
He felt cold.
“That...c-can’t be,” he blurted aloud, yet some sort of chill wound its way up and down his spine.
“Are you shivering?” Navi inquired, disbelieving as she finally emerged from Link’s hat again.
“Yeah, d-don’t ask me w-why,” Link replied, bewildered.
Navi flew close to Link’s head, so close she could literally touch him, and then flew back as if burnt.
“You’re spiking a fever! It has to be those burns, they’re getting infected. Are infected, more likely!”
Link shivered again, and not just from the fever. Even if he did take Navi’s suggestion and leave to find some red potion, he couldn’t surf up the lava river. He wasn’t sure if a healing fairy could remedy his condition completely, but he had to find one fast. If he didn’t, he was done for.
Not long after locating the compass, Link halted in his tracks while his jaw dropped. Before him stood a vast maze comprised of flaming walls. Enemies likely lurked in the passageways as well. Though traversing this chamber probably caused Link to sweat by the gallon despite his fever chills, he carefully made his way to the end while avoiding as many patrolling Armosaurs, Dinolfos, and Fire Keese as possible. He was forced into a few battles, but prevailed fairly easily thanks to the skills he had learned from Kelli as well as from his own past experiences in this quest. It would have been easier had Navi been able to fly above and find the exit, but thanks to the numerous Fire Keese, it was too dangerous. This hadn’t stopped the brave fairy from trying though; she was all too aware that, sooner or later, Link’s infection would affect his ability to fight.
Several rooms, small keys, and battles later, Link found himself at the northernmost end of the western side of the dungeon, which was the last chamber before he’d have to head back to the dragon tail room. It was a fairly large rectangular room with a large pillar sitting in the near center. Behind it was a gigantic pool of lava and, on the far side, was a small platform with yet another metal lever. However, it wasn’t the lever that caught Link’s eye the most. It was the frightened Goron locked in a metal cage on top of the pillar. Unfortunately, before Link could attempt to free him, a pair of deep chilling cackles echoed throughout the room. Link whirled in the direction of the sound and beheld a pair of stone wells from which erupted gouts of flames.
From those gouts emerged what looked like a pair of bombs with arms and legs.
This is just about the last thing I need, Link groused inwardly.
These too were another bad memory from the dark future. Unnatural flame began to gather about the strange explosives, stretching and bending to form an imitation of a human silhouette. They were Flare Dancers. Link recalled that these creatures danced in circular motions as they attacked and that the explosives at their core were their weak spot...and that those same explosives were live. Link remembered these creatures from the Fire Temple, but he never had to fight two of them at once. What’s more, one of them was enveloped in navy blue flames while the other clothed itself in golden flames. Of course, Link easily guessed why.
The navy blue one would likely go down easily if hit with Sun Arrows, but what if its partner tried to protect it? Link recalled Kelli mentioning that sun and moon monsters often worked together because, much like the Sky Guardians, they were more vulnerable when alone. Luckily, Link hadn’t forgotten the Flare Dancer’s other weaknesses. Though it was an explosive in itself, it was also vulnerable to them. The Megaton Hammer, a Goron treasure Link used in the dark future, as well worked on them as well, but of course, the hero no longer possessed it since he’d gone back in time.
“That means either Sun Arrows or bombs,” Link decided and then smiled afterwards. “Or both.”
Link reasoned that he should attack the navy blue Flare Dancer first. He snatched a bomb from his bomb bag, lit the fuse and was about to throw it when, suddenly…he couldn’t breathe properly. Vicious coughs began escaping his mouth.
The sudden shock of it sent the bomb tumbling from his grasp, where it landed right at his feet.
“AIIIEEE!” Navi screeched.
Acting quickly, and narrowly avoiding getting blown up, the little fairy sucked in a deep breath and blew with all the might her tiny lungs could muster. By some act of providence, it was enough to blow out the bomb’s fuse.
The Flare Dancers, however, were quick to capitalize on their sudden advantage. Link, his hand shaking from his near miss, tried to chuck another bomb, but these particular Flare Dancers turned out to be much faster than their counterparts from the Fire Temple, and they evaded the explosive easily. Worse still, whatever had suddenly struck Link was getting worse. Breathing became progressively more difficult and he could feel blood pounding in his ears like thunder. The two Flare Dancers danced around the stone wells they’d emerged from and around Link as well, trailing hot flames behind them, which Link had trouble avoiding due to them igniting constantly. To complicate matters, the two Flare Dancers often danced around each other as well, with the golden one shielding its partner.
Redness flashed in Link’s vision and something was frothing at his mouth; he was running out of time. But then, he beheld his salvation. He readied his Guardian’s Bow and took aim, but not at the Flare Dancers...
He aimed at the undetonated bomb he had dropped, which the Flare Dancers were heading towards.
It was tricky shot under the best of circumstances and, with his lungs gradually failing him and those flashes of red incessantly blocking his vision, it seemed impossible.
But, then again, the word ‘impossible’ meant very little to the hero who once held the Triforce of Courage.
Link released the arrow. It grazed the bomb’s shell, sending sparks everywhere, and one of those sparks relit the fuse. The explosion subdued the golden Flare Dancer and Link quickly began firing Sun Arrows at the navy Flare Dancer. He was only quick enough to get in two hits, but it was a start nonetheless. Link might have congratulated himself, but all that came out of his mouth was a frantic gasping.
“Link?!” the imprisoned Goron shouted, finally taking note of the hero. “Link, it is you!”
Unable to shout back, Link could only gesture for the Goron to wait.
“Ohhh, please hurry!”
Link certainly hoped he could hurry, otherwise neither he nor the Goron would be leaving. He wasn’t sure how long his failing vision would avail him, and rather doubted he could manage a lucky throw with his bombs. But, maybe he didn’t have to. Pulling out one of his bombs, he bit down on the fuse into it until only a bit of it was left. Then, he rolled it into the path of the golden Flare Dancer and released another arrow. Again, his aim held true and the bomb went off directly under his foe. A second hit from a charged arrow impaled the Flare Dancer’s explosive core into the stone wall. A second bomb, lit and rolled to the trapped core, finished it off for good. However, Link couldn’t rest yet. The navy Flare Dancer still remained and it had grown quite angry at the defeat of its partner. It now began dancing furiously while cracking flaming whips in all directions while its trail of fire burned even more aggressively.
Link was forced to jump out of the path of one of the whips. The red flashes were getting even worse now and his lungs burned as if he’d been holding his breath for the past hour. It was easy to notice, however, that in its rage, the navy blue Flare Dancer sometimes danced wildly in one place, an odd but fortunate occurrence. Link could barely aim with his vision failing but, luckily, he no longer had to. Link fired a salvo of Sun Arrows, unable to see if any hit the mark, but then he was rewarded by the sweet sound of the Flare Dancer’s explosive core...well, exploding.
Link’s legs buckled under him, sending him crashing to the floor. His lungs had now been completely cut off from air. He was dimly aware of Navi and the trapped Goron both calling out to him, but could discern no words. The redness was now blackness, and it was getting darker and colder and everything felt so far away.
Then, he felt something cool and smooth touch his face. A potion!
With what strength he had left, he uncorked it and brought it to his lips. Navi, squeezing herself under the bottle, tilted it up so that the liquid flowed down his throat. In an instant, Link was on his knees, vomiting up the viscous fluid that the infection had filled his lungs with, and which had nearly killed him. Once the floor looked greener than Link’s signature tunic, he sagged against the stone well, his lungs and vision finally clear, and simply enjoyed being alive.
“Um, hello?” the Goron called out.
“Well, duty calls,” Link declared to no one in particular, rising to his feet.
“You’re going to be the death of me, you know that?” Navi demanded, trying to sound angry but unable to keep a clear note of relief out of her tone. “Well, that Goron tossed you the potion so, yeah, you should help him.”
Link hardly needed a reason to help someone in need, but he knew Navi was right. He snatched up the small key dropped by the deceased Flare Dancers and unlocked the Goron’s cage.
“Oh, Link! I don’t know how to thank you for rescuing me!” the Goron cried with relief. “I’d have gone crazy if I had to sit in that cramped cage for much longer! Not a piece of rock sirloin in sight!”
“Yeah, I bet,” Link agreed. “I figured I owed you for the potion anyway. Still, none of the other Gorons told me anyone was missing besides Darunia.”
“Oh, they didn’t know I came here. I was with Big Brother before I got captured. He wanted me to hide a secret treasure that he thought you should take with you when you came. No one else knows I’m here because this information was to remain a secret. He must’ve thought you’d need it or something and wanted to make sure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands. All I know about it is that this treasure was placed under our protection by the king of Hyrule not too long ago. Why, I’m not sure.”
“I see. But what happened to Darunia? And how did you get in this cage?”
“That…I’m not sure of either. I remember being with Big Brother one minute…then in here the next. It’s weird.”
“Huh… Well, what of this treasure of yours? Do you still have it?”
“Oh, yeah. Apparently, the monsters in here don’t give two pebbles about it. And as Big Brother ordered, I’m giving it to you.”
With that, the Goron produced a gadget that, at first glance, resembled Link’s hookshot. Only, instead of a hook, it had a claw, and where the trigger for launching the claw was, a slider was built into the gadget above it.
“Big Brother said it’s called the Grappleshot. It’s a sort of advanced hookshot that I assume someone developed at Hyrule Castle, since you know, the king gave it to us. Anyway, like a hookshot, it can pull you towards places or pull things towards you. If you change the slider’s position, according to Big Brother, you can also use it like a grappling hook. Latch its claw onto something above you and swing to your heart’s content. You could also kick anything in your path while swinging, if you want.”
“Oh wow, that’s definitely what I call an advanced hookshot!” Link commented as he took the Grappleshot. “Don’t worry, I’ll use it well.”
“Glad to hear it,” the Goron answered. “Before I leave though, I see you still have some potion left.”
Link glanced down at the bottle the Goron had rolled over to him and noticed that it was still half full.
“Were you injured?” Link wondered. “If you need the rest of it, it’s yours.”
“No, no. Let me show you a trick that’ll come in handy. That wound, where is it?”
Link rolled up his sleeve to reveal his burned shield arm. Despite the potion Link had drunk, it didn’t look any better. Then, to Link’s surprise, the Goron took the potion and poured it onto the wound. Link watched, dumbstruck, as the potion foamed and hissed and then vanished…leaving his arm looking as good as new.
“Some of the monsters these days can inflict poisoned wounds or burn even us Gorons. That’s plenty bad news but, if you pour a potion onto such a wound, it’ll clear it right up. Keep that in mind, in case drinking the potion doesn’t do the job. And now, I really should get out of here. Or else I’ll be monster lunch. I’ll see you later, Link! Please help Big Brother!”
“Don’t worry, you can count on it.”
After the Goron departed, Link turned his attention to the pool of lava. The first thing he did was toss his old hookshot in it. There was no point in keeping it when he had just gotten an even better item that could do the same thing and more. Link then moved the position of the Grappleshot’s slider, changing the setting from ‘pull’ to ‘swing’ and aimed it for a jagged rock protruding from the middle of the ceiling. After launching the claw into it, Link swung himself over the pool of lava and landed safely on the platform where the next metal lever was.
“Wow, that was fun! I can’t wait to kick around some monsters with this baby!” he opined excitedly. “I wonder what this lever does, though…”
“Yeah, me too,” Navi spoke up just as Link was about to pull the lever.
“Navi! I owe you big for getting that potion into me.”
“Well, since you’re not going to stop giving me heart attacks anytime soon, I’ll take a gossamer sundae at the Titania Cafe next time we’re back in Castle Town.”
“Done and done. Well, time to find out what this lever’s for. Maybe it’ll unlock that other door in the dragon tail chamber.”
Link then took hold of the lever and pulled it down. A small rumbling noise then echoed throughout the area. Now, Link was sure it allowed him access to the eastern side of the dungeon. However, the bars blocking the door couldn’t have made all that noise. Perplexed, Link quickly made his way back to the dragon tail chamber. He discovered that returning through the previous rooms was a lot easier thanks to the Grappleshot. Many jagged rocks protruded from the ceilings, allowing Link to swing over certain obstacles that had been difficult to navigate on foot, including the maze room. Once he arrived at his destination, excitement filled his mind.
“Navi, look! The tail! It opened a little bit!” Link pointed out, noting the split down the middle of the tail. It reached halfway towards the lava river below it. Link surmised, that if it opened completely, the lava would continue to flow through, lengthening the river more. And, that would mean what, exactly?
“Hey, you’re right! But what happens then?” Navi wondered curiously.
“I don’t know, but I think we’ll find out after clearing the eastern side of this floor. There must be one more lever back there!”
“Yeah, it’s just like what we did upstairs, only on a larger scale! And the eastern door is open now too!”
“Thanks to the last lever I activated. Now let’s get going. We take too long in here and the others might worry about us.”
With that, Link quickly proceeded through the eastern door. Still, he was right. This was a huge dungeon compared to what Link was used to, but what else could one expect when they explored the depths of the largest mountain in Hyrule? Link could only hope that Kelli, King Daphnes, and everyone else in Kakariko understood this. Otherwise, the king’s health might decline further, and Kelli would be stressed over not only the disappearance of Judo, but Link’s absence as well. Despite this, Link was confident that they knew better than to not have faith in him and he proceeded through the remaining rooms at a reasonable pace. He’d already had a near miss from that burn and the subsequent infection and another such mistake was something he couldn’t afford.
Several chambers, small keys, and more monsters later, Link arrived in the room just before the final chamber. According to the map, a tiny room was beyond this one, and the compass indicated one last treasure chest sealed away in it. The final lever was nowhere to be seen, which meant that it, too, was behind the next door. However, a giant pool of lava stood in Link’s path and floating upon it were small, round platforms. Above the gaps between these were more jagged rocks like the ones Link used as Grappleshot targets. The solution was clear, but Link feared that crossing wouldn’t be as easy as it looked. Even so, he immediately produced the Grappleshot and fired it at the first rock. Just as he’d begun swinging across to the first platform, however, a Red Bubble, which was a bouncing, flaming skull, soared over him.
“Yow!” Link cried, ducking to keep from being burned again. “I figured as much…”
“Me too. Be extra careful!” Navi warned.
“Yeah, yeah, I know…”
Though the process was fairly slow, Link eventually made it across after another close call with the Red Bubbles. He quickly barged through the door, and smiled confidently when he saw that his earlier surmise had been correct. The familiar gold and blue treasure chest sat nearby alongside the last lever. Link approached the lever first and quickly activated it. As before, a rumbling noise echoed throughout the area, indicating that the dragon tail must have opened completely.
“That ought to do it,” Link spoke up afterwards. “But I still don’t know how to get to the boss room…”
“Yeah, this is weird,” Navi agreed. “…Hold on, check the map again.”
“…Well, I don’t know what good it’ll do, but alright.”
Link then produced the map and unrolled it again. His eyes widened instantly at what he saw.
“I don’t believe it! A path to the boss room appeared! And there’s a glowing mark on the dragon tail room!”
“Exactly! The lava river must now lead all the way to the boss!” Navi surmised.
“Well then, let’s grab the boss key and finish up!”
With that, Link quickly retrieved the golden key and rushed back to the dragon tail room. Now that he was nearly finished exploring this hot cavern, his heart began to race. All he could think of was a refreshing dip in Lake Hylia once Darunia was safe and the Jewel of Fire was found. In fact, Link actually hoped the next dungeon would be somewhere in the Ice Cavern at Zora’s Fountain, or at least somewhere a lot cooler than this place was. This had been the case in both Termina and his first Hyrulean quest. As Link continued wiping sweat from his brow and forehead, he finally entered the dragon tail room once more, and hopefully for the last time. As Navi predicted, the tail was now completely open and lava freely flowed into the newly revealed passageway. In addition, a small metal raft was now floating where the bridge to the other side of the river used to be. A propeller was attached to its backside while a lever had thrust up from the surface. Like the metal slab Link used to slide down the previous stretch of river, it had to be hollow.
“Well, time to take care of business,” Link opined and climbed aboard the raft. He then switched the propeller on.
Though the trip was shorter than and nowhere near as fun as the slide down the other stretch of lava had been, Link didn’t care this time. He just wanted to find Darunia and the Jewel of Fire as soon as possible. The hero wasn’t hesitant to jump off of the raft when he arrived at the tiny chamber containing the massive door to the boss room. Link then took a deep breath, inserted the boss key into the large gold lock, and entered.
This chamber was massive. It was the largest room in the cavern, but of course, that was to be expected. The boss almost always turned out to be some giant monster that needed a lot of space. Still, this room appeared to be even too big for one of them. That is, unless it was a smaller creature who could use the open space to maneuver. Scattered about the large chamber were stone pillars with many jagged rocks hanging above them. Obviously, Link would need to make good use of the Grappleshot here. However, this wasn’t nearly what caught his eye the most. The hero froze where he stood when he spotted a giant black horse that was more than twice the size of Epona sleeping atop the lowest pillar. On its forehead was a dark red horn while spots of the same color lined its backside. It lacked a mane and tail, or so it appeared. Just as soon as Link took another step, however, the beast awoke and nearly instantly spotted him. Almost without warning, flames erupted from its body, revealing its hidden mane and tail. Bright wings also protruded from the creature’s back as well as its ankles and horn. Its golden eyes glared viciously at the astonished Link as it breathed flames out of its nostrils and soared right towards him, a ferocious neigh escaping its mouth.
This beast was Flarecus, the Ignited Winged Unicorn.
Huh? What do you mean by "it is funny the game physics type of stuff"?
Thing that happen in games that would be impossible in real life just look at this page it shows the anime version of that. Anime Physics
Yeah, I know what that kind of physics IS, I'm just wondering why you brought it up and all. Do you think it's a bad thing? The only thing in this story that I was intending to fall in that category was Link and Kelli being able to carry all their stuff.
Oh, well, okay then, I guess. xP
I think I'll post chapter 10 now. :]
Chapter 10: Memories of Judo
Flarecus was a huge, awesome sight; power seemed to fill even the slightest motion of its luminous equine form while the glow of its flaming body blazed like a miniature, earthbound sun. For a stretching second, Link stared in awe and horrified fascination as the beast reared to its full height, scattering a hail of embers as its hooves churned the air. In almost the same motion, the beast craned back its head and smoke began to issue from its mouth. That served to break the trance, and Link darted to one side as a gout of flame hurtled towards the spot where he'd been standing moments before. He gasped as he had done so, the spectacle of the fire breath and the impact of his landing knocking the air from his lungs, and rolled across the hard, rocky floor of the chamber. The unicorn simply let out a furious neigh and leapt, seeming to soar, over him. Link followed the creature's flight, fighting down a burgeoning awe that threatened to leave him paralyzed, and unwittingly spotted indications that the beast was female.
“What in Hyrule—?! WHOA!” Link yelped as Flarecus attempted to impale him with her flaming horn. He quickly dove to the floor and let the beast soar over him once again. “And I thought Epona had a hot temper!”
Flarecus was unperturbed by the remark and, in midflight, swept one of her hind legs towards Link. Not having enough time to avoid it, he brought up his shield which prevented the blow from shattering his bones...
...Not that it prevented the force of the blow from plowing him into the wall.
“Dang, that hurt! How am I supposed to even touch that thing when it’s covered in all those flames?! Obviously Sun Arrows won’t do anything!” Link wondered in annoyance remembering Flarecus’s golden eyes as he scrambled to his feet.
“Link, this is just a hunch, but I think her horn is her weak spot!” Navi replied. “That glow it has flares up when she attacks. Maybe it fuels what creates those flames and perhaps the unicorn can’t survive without it!”
“Yeah, but I’d need to put out those flames first before I try attacking any part of her body!”
“DAAAAH!” Link bellowed as he found himself raising his shield to ward off a blast of flame breath. Link's shield, by the grace of the Three, withstood the heat but the sheer force of the onslaught forced Link to the floor. “LIKE IT ISN’T ALREADY HOT ENOUGH IN HERE?!”
It didn't take Link long to realize that he couldn't fend off Flarecus' flame breath forever, so he began to gaze about the room for anything that could help. The room was dotted with pillars and the ceiling was studded with jagged stalactites.
Or are those stalagmites?
Link shook off the pointless question but, as he scrambled to his feet, dawning realization sent the corners of his mouth upward.
“Navi, I’m going to try something,” he proclaimed as he produced the Grappleshot.
“Just be careful and don’t get yourself burned again!” Navi warned.
“You can count on it.”
Link spied his target, a low hanging jagged rock directly over a pillar, and then aimed the Grappleshot. Once the claw had firmly latched onto the target, he launched himself up towards it. After landing on top of the pillar, Link found he had a better view of Flarecus’s flight pattern, just as he’d suspected he would. He’d just need to make sure the beast didn’t knock him off. It’d be a pretty painful landing, plus Link didn’t like the idea of having to launch himself back up again with Flarecus bearing down on him. And, of course, that was assuming the fall didn't kill him. He quickly swapped the Grappleshot for his bow and took aim at Flarecus. Once the hero let go of the bowstring, the arrow successfully pierced the beast’s shoulder, knocking her out of the air and sending her crashing to the floor two pillars away. Even better, Flarecus’s flames had gone out upon impact. Knowing he'd only have so much time to take advantage of this, Link quickly swung himself over to her, coming to land on her head. Her body was hot, but not too hot for Link to sit there and hack away at Flarecus’s horn. She thrashed beneath him and neighed wildly in pain with each blow.
Navi had been right. The horn was definitely the weak spot and even though Flarecus soon threw him off of her and took to the air once more, flames and all, Link had a smile on his face.
“Yes!” he chimed confidently.
“Link! Don’t forget she may change her strategy too!” Navi warned.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Link proceeded to reattempt his own tactic, determined to capitalize on it as much as possible before Flarecus altered her strategy. Link succeeded three more times before Navi’s warning was finally borne out. Once Flarecus threw Link off of her head once more, she’d tossed him so far that he was smashed into the wall. The impact was so tremendous that Link left behind a faint impression of himself in the wall. The grimace plastered on his face lasted all the way to the floor, the pain nearly overwhelming him. Flarecus, meanwhile, had begun flying even faster than normal, striking more frequently with her flame breath. She also continued trying to impale Link with her horn, striking in rapid succession and then flying away before Link could react. Worse, it seemed Flarecus had also found a way to counter Link's tactic, for when Link launched himself towards one of the jagged rocks again, she soared at him once more with her horn leveled for the kill. Link, however, was able to drop to the top of the pillar below in time to avoid what might otherwise have been a lethal blow.
However, just as Link landed, he saw to his horror that Flarecus landed on the pillar in front of him. She let out a deafening neigh that could have shattered glass and focused power through her horn. As she watched him, a ball of flame sparked to life at the tip of her horn. It then grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
“Oh crap…” Link uttered, his eyes widening.
“Link, now is a very good time to get your butt out of the way!” Navi shouted frustratingly.
“Right!” Link nervously replied as he launched himself with the Grappleshot again just as Flarecus had reared back and launched her fireball. It struck the wall instead of its intended target, literally melting the rock into glowing magma, while Link swung towards the beast and rammed his feet into the front of her head. Flarecus was caught off guard by the blow, lost her balance and fell to the floor of the pillar as a result, allowing Link to drop to her head and strike her horn once more.
“Aw yeah!” Link happily shouted as he drove his blade into the horn several more times. “You’re going down for sure, my beastly friend!”
As if she understood Link’s words, however, Flarecus shook Link off of her head again, forcing him to the floor right in front of her. She then clamped her teeth about the back of his tunic, lifting him off the floor and tossing him into the air.
“WAAAAAH!” the hero bellowed as he hit the wall again side first, his ribs shrieking under the blow. His hat was knocked off of his head and landed inches away from a small lava pit. Despite the gravity of the situation, Navi could not help but giggle, as Link’s hat somehow rarely fell off his head and he had grown quite attached to it, almost literally. Link’s fairly unruly dirty blonde hair was sticky with sweat as he glanced over at his hat, the tip of which sat right next to the boiling lava.
“Huh? That does it! Knock off my hat and almost toast it, will you?!” he opined angrily as he plucked it off the ground and put it back on. “You’re going down hard!”
“Oh brother…” Navi uttered. “Then again, the hat’s my hiding spot too, so I ought to be grateful, I suppose.”
Despite feeling as if he'd broken something, or more likely, several somethings, Link lost no time making good his threat. He quickly repeated his Grappleshot tactic another three times, striking the beast’s horn without mercy when she lay stunned. As Link delivered blow after blow, cracks slowly formed on the horn and foul smoke began to leak out. He smiled during the last few blows when Flarcus finally threw her head skyward in a shrill, antagonized neigh. She desperately attempted to keep her flames and horn lit and flew about wildly, only to crash head first into a nearby wall, her horn shattering under the impact. Flarecus’s dying corpse collapsed to the floor below as several large rocks crashed down on top, burying her. Link merely stood there and panted, the heat and exhaustion getting to him.
“Finally…” he uttered as a stone slab nearby rose, revealing the small chamber in which the Jewel of Fire was probably hidden. If Link’s hunch was correct, this jewel was also cursed and imprisoned Darunia, just like the Jewel of Forest had served as Saria’s prison. Once he finally regained his breath, Link walked into the newly revealed chamber. It was easy for him to spot the Jewel of Fire sitting in a man-made, or rather, monster-made, crevice in the wall, enveloped in dark mist. As Link approached it, the dark mist began to disappear.
Meanwhile, down in Kakariko Village, Kelli had just departed from Impa’s house. Daphnes' deteriorating health had been worrying her once more and she'd been helping him as best as she could. As she had begun her descent down the nearby staircase, however, the ground trembled suddenly, nearly throwing the heroine off balance. Kelli looked up to see Death Mountain, the maw of its crater flaring with all of its volcanic might. Kelli suddenly found herself wondering if it was about to erupt when, suddenly, a wave of fire blasted straight up into the air. As the flames skyrocketed, the dark clouds that had been hovering over the mountain began to churn like a burgeoning storm before funneling themselves into the crater and vanishing. All that encircled Death Mountain’s peak afterward was the ring of white cloud that had always been there, along with a brisk, blue sky that had been long absent.
“Link…” Kelli uttered, partially with relief and partially with concern. “You did it.”
“Kelli! Are you alright? What was that?” Daphnes quickly inquired as he shoved the door open.
“It was Death Mountain. The evil there has vanished! Look!” Kelli replied, unable to take her eyes off the mountain and her thoughts off of Link and his well-being.
Daphnes then turned his attention to the mountain and let out a sigh of relief.
“Thank the goddesses… Link must have succeeded. I just hope he’s alright.”
“So do I…”
“Hey, my sister’s up there too, you know!” Vira pointed out.
“Don’t worry, Vira. I’m sure they’re both fine,” Kelli assured with a smile. “Link’s a professional hero, after all, and he’d never let anything happen to Navi.”
Back in the Magma Cavern, Link watched the Jewel of Fire glow ever more brightly. He knew it wouldn't be long until Darunia appeared, but the evils of the mountain might take longer to reverse than those in the forest, and Link was glad for the reprieve.
“That was a close one back there,” he admitted. “I haven’t had a near miss like that since Termina. And, the way I froze up when Flarecus attacked, yikes!”
“I heard about the Great Dragons having a trick like that,” Navi spoke up. “It's called dragon-awe. The Great Dragons were so awesome and terrifying, that people seeing them just froze up like they’d all been hit with ice arrows.”
“Yeah, but that beast wasn’t a dragon.”
“True, but maybe whoever is enhancing these monsters is trying to duplicate the effect. It must not have worked though, because even you wouldn't be able to withstand it without the Triforce of Courage. That’s probably why this didn’t happen with Volvagia as well.”
“I miss having the Triforce of Courage. At least those...what are those things in the ceiling anyway? Are they stalagmites or stalactites?”
“Oh, honestly! You've been in more caves than you’ve got fingers and toes and you don't know the answer to that?!”
Navi opened her mouth, but nothing came out in reply to Link’s question. Before Link could rub it in, the jewel glowed its brightest and Darunia finally appeared before him, safe and sound. The boss of the Goron tribe became wide eyed when he beheld the one Sworn Brother he hadn’t seen in years.
“Link?! Link, Brother! It really is you!” he blurted happily.
“Yeah, it’s me. All flesh and blood,” Link replied with a smile, wincing a bit as his battered ribs ached. “A little worse for wear, but here I am.”
“I always knew you’d return, Brother. But holy Dodongos, you look like you jumped in Lake Hylia! I almost didn’t recognize you with your hair so soaked.”
“Yeah, it’s too bad this Goron Tunic doesn’t help sweating,” Link agreed, scratching the back of his head. “Anyway, I had a hunch I find you down here. The same thing happened to Saria.”
“Really? Then the rest of the Sages must be trapped within Elemental Jewels as well,” Darunia surmised. “And that means those jewels have also been cursed by the evil threatening Hyrule.”
“So you know about the jewels too?”
“That’s right. Lady Impa found some information on these artifacts while browsing Hyrule Castle’s library. We Sages wanted to learn more about the jewels, but then all of this craziness happened. Dark clouds began covering Death Mountain and I went to the crater to investigate. I also had a subordinate come along with me to hide a treasure we were guarding for King Daphnes in the Magma Cavern just to be on the safe side. I don’t know if he succeeded though. I remember entering the cavern with him, but then…nothing.”
“I figured as much. I found that Goron trapped in a cage in another part of the cavern. I was badly burned at the time and he rescued me. Of course, I returned the favor by busting him out of there. He didn’t remember getting captured either, but he gave me the treasure saying that you wanted me to take it.”
“I see. And yes, I wanted you to hold on to it for now. I never told Daphnes that I was going to let either you or Kelli take it, but I know he would approve.”
“Agreed. And speaking of Kelli, I’m working with her to figure out what’s going on, so don’t worry too much about it. If anything else happens, you can count on us.”
“Glad to hear it, Brother. Now let’s return to the surface. I’m sure you’ve had enough of this heat.”
“Psh, more like enough to last me a lifetime! I’m dying to get out of here!”
“Before we leave, there is something you should know, Brother. It is a question which I know has long plagued you and which must now be answered.”
Link sucked in his breath expectantly, thinking Darunia was about to reveal the location of some powerful weapon that could turn the tide against evil.
“The difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite is that stalagmites rise from the floor and stalactites hang from the ceiling. The trick to remembering this is that stalactites have to hold on 'tite' so that they don't fall from the ceiling.”
Link deflated, trying very hard to hide his disappointment and chagrin, while Navi was literally quivering in the air as she tried to keep herself from laughing.
“Thanks,” Link replied simply, then adding under his breath, “though I was kinda hoping for something a bit more practical.”
With that, Link took the Jewel of Fire from the crevice and followed Darunia into the blue warp portal that had shimmered into existence earlier.
Moments later, the two landed in front of the passage leading from Goron City to the Death Mountain Crater. The dark clouds that had previously covered the sky were gone, and there were no signs of a storm at all. The wreckage from the Fire Temple was still lying about, but other than that, the crater was the same as Link had remembered it. The Goron tribe had returned to their home with the lone exception of a lone Goron waiting in front of the doorway to Goron City. He nearly jumped with joy when he saw Link and his boss appear before him.
“Link! Big Brother Darunia!” the Goron exclaimed. “You both made it out!”
“That we did, and it’s all thanks to our brother here!” Darunia declared with a smile.
“Aw shucks,” Link replied, scratching the back of his head. “I was only helping out old friends and allies. I really ought to be going soon, though. Anymore of this heat and I’ll just keel over!”
“But of course,” Darunia agreed. “Keep the tunic, by the way. You never know when you might need it again.”
“In any case, the others will be so thrilled to see you both are safe!” the Goron continued. “Let’s hurry inside!”
The trio didn’t hesitate to re-enter Goron City. Just as Link had suspected, the tremors on the mountain had stopped, and all was as it used to be. Once Darunia and Link greeted the Goron tribe again, Darunia directed Link towards the largely empty bottom level. Upon reaching it and ensuring they were alone, the green-clad hero turned to face the Goron boss.
“There’s one more thing I’d like to ask, by the way…” he spoke up.
“What would that be?” Darunia wondered.
“I saw that tablet in the Magma Cavern and I have the Jewel of Fire, but is it safe for me to keep it for now?”
“Oh that? Don’t worry. From what little we Sages know so far about the jewels, if the Jewel of Fire is in your hands, the mountain will be fine. I suspect the same holds true for Kelli. You only need to keep it from falling into the wrong clutches again.”
“Oh, good. I can definitely handle that. I’ll be leaving now!”
“Farewell, Brother! And good luck!”
With that, Link waved good bye to the Gorons and headed back to the mountain trail.
Along the way, Link contemplated on how Kelli would react when he told her he’d had a brush with death. He loathed the idea of making her worry more, but he knew she had to know, especially if she knew ways he could avoid another such brush with disaster. Besides, she might not know that potions could be poured onto the body to heal certain afflictions, and he ought to tell her. The pair had to be prepared for anything, after all, and if Kelli didn’t learn as much as she could about the strength of her enemies, it could very well cost her dearly. And Link knew he could not afford that. She was his partner and it was up to both of them to protect each other as well as work as a team. He would also suggest that Kelli accompany him in dungeons from now on in case one of the two were to get in trouble again. He suspected that some of the challenges ahead would be too great for either to conquer along and, if one of them did run afoul of danger, the other could rush to the injured one’s aid. This notion did, however, carry a risk. If both Link and Kelli were off exploring dungeons, then Kakariko would be left vulnerable. Link simply could not risk the lives of all the villagers and townsfolk seeking shelter there. But, if Link was killed, how safe would they be in any case?
Then again, Link also had the melody Kelli had taught him. If he knew she’d be able to find him, Link could call upon her to come to his aid if he needed it. Unfortunately, the same didn’t hold true for Kelli herself. If she was hurt and no one was around, she’d have no way of signaling Link or anyone else for help. As long as Kelli remained in the village, she was surrounded by potential witnesses and people who could aid her if she sustained a serious wound. Link could only hope that, should he be in need of help again, that he was in an area Kelli could reach quickly if no one else could. His thoughts were interrupted when he finally re-entered Kakariko and spotted Kelli standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the mountain trail, her back facing him. Link quickly rushed up to her, glad to see that she was unharmed and that the village appeared to have remained safe during his entire trip in the mountain.
“Link!” Kelli cried when she turned around, gasping in relief. “I’m so relieved you’re safe!”
“And I’m glad to see you’re alright,” Link replied with a smile. “What about Vira?”
“Oh, she’s fine too! I asked her to keep an eye on his majesty while I waited for you. I figured you’d be returning soon. You were gone so long and we were starting to worry.”
“Really? Sorry about that. That cavern I had to go through was nuts. But, I gotta admit, it was kind of fun too!”
“What? Are you insane?! You just came out of a smoldering hot volcano where you could’ve easily been roasted to death! And you’re still sweaty!”
“I know, but come on! Even you must have fun slicing monsters to pieces sometimes!”
“Maybe, but I wouldn’t have a good time going through the interior of a boiling hot mountain!”
“Eh, suit yourself then.”
“Kelli!” a feminine voice called out. The trio turned to see Vira racing towards them, so fast that several villagers had to leap out of the way. Her maniac speed and her frantic tone all suggested that she did not have good news.
“Vira! What are you doing here? You were supposed to keep an eye on his majesty until Link and I got back!” Kelli replied.
“Yeah, I know, but his majesty insisted that I check up on you because you were taking awhile,” Vira replied. “And Navi, Link, I’m glad to see you two got back alright!”
“Believe me, it wasn’t easy,” Link commented.
“Yeah, Mister Hero of Time here almost got his butt handed to him,” Navi added.
“What?!” Kelli gasped.
“Navi, shut it. Kelli, I’ll tell you later. Right now, we need to let his majesty know that I’m alright and that the Gorons are safe,” Link protested.
“Ah, yes, of course. Let’s hurry. You got the Jewel of Fire, right?”
“Yep, got that too.”
With that, the friends headed for Impa’s house once more, in hopes that Daphnes' condition hadn’t worsened. Despite Link and Kelli's recent victories, Hyrule's fate still hung by a thread. If King Daphnes died from the strain of the crisis, then the battle might very well be lost even if the two warriors did find the Elemental Jewels. Zelda's fate was unknown, and there was no one else to lead the kingdom should the worst happen. Along the way, Link told Kelli he’d prefer not to mention what had occurred in the Magma Cavern in front of Daphnes, as the ailing king surely had enough on his mind already, and insisted that it wait until their meeting with him was finished. Naturally, Kelli agreed, and the two entered the house moments later. As before, Daphnes was in a chair in front of the fireplace, the fire blazing warmly. He did not look much better than he had earlier; his flesh had become deathly pale and his hands trembled alarmingly.
“Your majesty, I’m back! Don’t worry, I’m alright!” Link quickly spoke up.
“Oh! Link! I had hoped as much,” Daphnes replied, standing up with much effort and laboriously approaching the heroes. “I was confident that you would succeed in saving Death Mountain and the Gorons, but I couldn’t help worrying that you’d come back injured since it took you such a long while…”
“Can’t say I blame you there,” Link replied, guarding his words carefully. “But all’s well. Darunia and the Gorons are safe, as is the mountain.”
“Excellent. By the way, I recently heard from Lon Lon Ranch.”
“Seriously?!” Kelli gasped. “What’s going on?! Is everyone alright?!”
“Yeah, what of Malon and Talon?! And Ingo too? Even he didn’t deserve what happened over there!” Link added. Link never was too fond of Ingo, who was Talon’s surly ranch hand. In the dark future, Ingo had supported Ganondorf in exchange for becoming the new owner of the ranch. The last time Link had seen him, which was when Malon had given Epona to him, he complained that Talon was too lazy. Sure, Talon didn’t do much work, but at least he cared about the animals and his daughter. Ingo, it seemed, was cut from a very different cloth.
“I agree. Ingo can be a pain in the butt, but even so,” Kelli replied.
“Well, they say they’re fine, but they report that the ranch has been looted,” Daphnes explained. “All manner of tools, supplies and even their savings have all been stolen. Undoubtedly, the monsters are responsible.”
“What? Why would monsters loot a ranch?” Link wondered. “Unless…”
“They’re using the tools to build hideouts or depots and maybe even weapons,” Kelli finished. “Heck, a pitchfork or hammer could be used as weapons. And, the ranch would have feed for livestock, saddles, bridles and horseshoes which could be used for the pack animals moving the materials around or for enemy warhorses.”
“Agreed,” Daphnes replied. “The three of them had to leave the ranch to round up some stray animals and, upon their return, they discovered what had happened. Link, while they could very well obtain new tools after Hyrule is safe again, it would benefit them greatly if you could get the old ones back for them. If Kelli’s surmise is correct, it may very well benefit us all.”
“Oh, I can do that. I’ll pay a visit to the ranch when I leave,” Link agreed.
“Good. One more thing though,” Daphnes continued. “I also heard from King Zora. He was keeping in touch with me and his last message was most dire. You both know how Zora’s Fountain and Zora’s River supply Lake Hylia and Gerudo Valley with the kingdom’s water, right?”
“Yeah,” Kelli confirmed.
“Well, for an unknown reason, the flow of the waterfall at the entrance to Zora’s Domain has declined sharply. King Zora fears that, if this continues, the flow of water may very well stop completely.”
“What?!” Link and Kelli both shouted at the same time.
“Please! Not so loud!” Daphnes replied with a grimace. “The severity of this situation cannot be overemphasized. If the waterfall does stop flowing, then the monsters will be able to enter and attack Zora's Domain at will. And, even worse, the rest of us will be left to die of thirst.”
“This is bad…” Kelli commented. “Link, maybe you should hold off on going to the ranch.”
“Yeah, I guess I should. Do they know Ruto is missing too?” Link inquired.
“Yes. King Zora wanted to ask Kelli to help find her, but I told him I’d sent her to find you,” Daphnes explained. “He was...displeased at the notion of delaying his daughter's rescue, but he did agree that both of you working to free Hyrule from this evil and save everyone was a better idea.”
“Wait, King Zora remembers me?” Link wondered, arching an eyebrow.
“Well, he learned of you through Ruto in much the same way I did from Zelda.”
“Oh no… I was afraid of that…”
Link brought a hand to his face. When Zelda had sent Link back seven years into the past, he landed right before his first meeting with the Hylian princess. That meant he wouldn’t have met the Gorons or Zoras yet. However, the Sages remembered the dark future, so they still recalled Link and his heroics as well. Darunia had obviously passed the story on to his tribe, and now Ruto had apparently done the same. And, that meant she’d likely annoy Link again with her forwardness. Kelli giggled when she realized what the hero was thinking.
“I did hear about Ruto’s little crush on you,” she taunted.
“Oh, please don’t bring that up…” Link begged. “Besides, I…”
“Nothing, never mind.”
“Oooh, does Link have a secret crush of his own?” Navi cut in. “And didn’t you say back in the cavern that your beautiful sword reminds you of Zelda?”
“Oh ho ho…” Kelli snickered, noting Link’s cheeks turning pink with embarrassment.
“Ah, the hero and his princess! How classic!” Vira put in cheerfully.
“Alright, knock it off!” Link retorted.
All Daphnes did in reply was raise an eyebrow.
“Okay…” he uttered, getting that “awkward” feeling. “In any case, Link, it’s important that you investigate what has happened to the waterfall as soon as you can.”
“Of course,” Link complied. “I’ll look for clues on Ruto’s whereabouts while I’m at it as well.”
“Alright. Kelli, what of your search for Judo?” Daphnes replied, turning his attention to the suddenly somber heroine. “Have you found anything more besides that necklace?”
“Sadly, no…” Kelli reported. “But I’ll keep looking. Are you sure there’s nothing more you can tell me about him?”
“I could tell you some things, but they wouldn’t help you to determine his whereabouts. And besides that, it would please you more if Judo told you himself. Trust me. I can tell you, though, that he has become a fine young man.”
“Ah… I’m glad to hear that. May we leave now, your majesty?”
“Yes, of course.”
With that, the two heroes and their fairies departed the building and traveled back towards the well. Just then, Kelli remembered Link still had something to tell her.
“Now Link, you said you were going to tell me about what Navi said earlier?” she inquired.
“Oh, right… Um… Well, you see…”
Link wasn’t sure how to begin. It seemed no matter what he said in his head, the end result was Kelli pummeling him.
“Link, what happened?!” she demanded, only to hear Link stammer more. “Don’t make me use my bow!”
“Whoa, okay, okay… I was…almost killed,” Link revealed, turning away.
“You were WHAT?!”
“Oh boy…” Vira uttered. Having known Kelli for years, she knew what was coming next.
“I-I got burned really badly and it got infected!” Link explained. “Fluid built up in my lungs and I nearly suffocated! I was careless, I know, and I only lived because I happened to be near a captive Goron who had potions on him…”
“You didn’t have any potions with you?!” Kelli blurted angrily. “Are you crazy?!”
“Hey, stop yelling at him!” Navi cut in before Link could answer. “That cavern was a tough place to conquer! You should’ve seen its boss!”
“Yeah, but you should always bring medicine with you!” Kelli protested.
“Well, you should quit bossing us around! Maybe Link should have brought medicine, but for your information, I almost got blown up! We both had it tough in there!”
“Navi, stop it. She’s not bossing us around. Kelli knows more about what’s happening than either of us!” Link protested.
“That’s right!” Kelli added. “And I’m saying Link went in too ill-prepared! He should’ve known he’d be at a high risk for burns and heat and a whole bunch of other injuries! It’s a bloody volcano! I know I wouldn’t have been so forgetful!”
“So you’re saying you’re better than him?! Now I’m really getting ticked off! I let that incident back in the castle dungeon slide, but now I’ve had it with you!”
“Oh my gosh…” Link uttered with a sigh and brought a hand to his face again as Navi began ramming herself into Kelli’s chest.
“Ouch! YOU MUST REALLY WANT TO GET SQUISHED, DON’T YOU?!” Kelli exploded.
“OH YEAH?! GO AHEAD AND TRY!” Navi retorted in rage.
“OH COME ON! This is ridiculous and immature!” Vira interrupted and grabbed her sister from behind. Navi desperately attempted to pull away from her sister, but Vira’s grip was too strong.
“Yeah, now you’re making me angry! Put a sock in it, both of you!” Link added, yanking Kelli’s arms behind her before she could pluck Navi’s wings off.
“Ugh! Hey!” Kelli blurted. “Stop it!”
“Vira, let go of me!” Navi protested.
“Not until you calm down!” Vira insisted.
“That goes for you too, Kelli,” Link added before she could say anything.
“Well… Fine,” Kelli replied. “I realize this was childish… I suppose I’m still really upset over Judo.”
“Thank you,” Link replied and released her. “Navi, why don’t you go under my cap for awhile?”
“I agree with that idea,” Vira added. “You seriously need to chill.”
“Hmph…” Navi grumbled.
“Navi, get in the hat now,” Link ordered, his patience with the fairy wearing thin.
“Whatever. I don’t want to see her face anyway.”
With that, she disappeared beneath the brim of Link’s hat.
“Link, I’m sorry if I’m being a brat…” Kelli spoke up moments later.
“It’s alright. I can understand that you’re worried about Judo, and Navi went through too much back in that cavern because of me.”
“Yeah, I bet… Hey Link, if you don’t mind me asking, would you help me out a little before you leave?”
“Sure, I think the waterfall can hold out for a bit longer. What can I do?”
“Well, I wanted to look around in Judo’s house, but it’s closed up. I need help finding a way in. Though I’d hate to just break into it.”
“Ah, for more clues to his whereabouts. Good idea. If he really does know how to fight, then we could use his help.”
“Agreed. But even if he doesn’t, I just need to see him again so badly…”
“But of course. Let’s go.”
However, the pair hadn’t taken more than a few steps when a grumbling Navi emerged from Link’s hat. Obviously, she had no interest in even being anywhere near Kelli. With what might have been a rather vulgar insult in the fairy tongue, she flew off.
“Sigh… You guys go on ahead, I’ll try to bring her around,” Vira decided and followed.
“Alright…” Link agreed. Kelli merely nodded as the pair continued to Judo’s house.
As Kelli had said before, it had been closed up. The door was boarded up and, though the curtains were drawn, Link didn't doubt that the windows were likewise barricaded. What little they could see of the interior revealed that the rooms were dark and dusty, as if it hadn’t been lived in for years. The blue roof also had lost several shingles and even had what appeared to be several bird nests dotting its surface. Wherever Judo and his mother had gone, it looked as though they didn't plan on returning. Kelli sighed as she and Link came to a halt near the door.
“See? There’s no way I’d ever get in there by myself,” she spoke up. “But I can't help thinking there might be information in there that we need.”
“I can see why. I’d suggest hacking at the boards with our swords, but then we might accidentally slice the door in the process…” Link contemplated. “Prying the boards off would work better but, unless you happen to have a key, we won't be able to get in without kicking the door down.”
“Yeah…” Kelli agreed, glancing from the building to Link, which was followed by a gasp. “Link! There’s a red glow coming from your bag!”
“Huh?” Link replied, reaching inside and producing a glowing Jewel of Fire. As Kelli had said, it was glowing with a deep crimson hue and was growing steadily warmer as well. He had a hunch what was coming next, and his surmise was proven correct when the jewel caused flames erupted from the jewel. The flames washed over the door, yet did not spread to the rest of the house. Within seconds, the boards sealing the door shut were burned to a crisp and fell to the ground.
“Oh… I should have guessed,” Kelli commented afterwards. “I wonder if the door is locked.”
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of the jewel burning the wood either,” Link agreed. “Anyway, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Judo apparently went to a lot of trouble to make sure nobody got in.”
Kelli then approached the door and jiggled the knob, but it did not open.
“Dang…” she groused.
“I guess that means you don’t have a key after all,” Link concluded. “Well, now what?”
“Don’t worry, I have an idea. Judo taught me this trick a long time ago when he first showed me his necklace. It was a key of sorts and he would use it to unlock the front door and sneak out whenever his mother didn’t want him outside, such as when the weather was bad or he’d been misbehaving. He just hated being inside for too long and enjoyed having fun and playing outside, rain or shine. I didn’t particularly like being in rain for too long, but I joined for him anyway.”
“Ah, so you lived with him?”
“Yeah, but his mother didn’t want to raise me as her own. Just as a child in need. She might have changed the lock on the door though, so I don’t know if the necklace still works as a key. Let’s hope it does.”
With that, Kelli took the necklace around her neck by its sword charm, the blood stains having been meticulously polished away, and inserted it into the lock. To Link and Kelli’s pleasure, the lock clicked and the door unlocked.
“Excellent!” Kelli cried and hurried inside. Link quickly followed.
The inside was dark, so much so that neither of the pair could see their hands in front of their faces, but the Jewel of Fire soon flared to life once more. The warm light bounced off of the shiny surface of the sword necklace as Kelli moved about. The living room and kitchen, however, were quite dirty and cobwebs had formed in the corners of the ceiling. Dust accumulated on a few shelves and pieces of furniture as well.
“Wow… Aside from the filth, this place is exactly as I remember it,” Kelli spoke up. “Barely anything has changed by the look of it. I really want to see Judo’s room though.”
“Makes sense,” Link agreed, then noticed the staircase nearby. “Upstairs, right?”
Kelli nodded and led Link to a small bedroom on the second floor. It was a boy’s bedroom, of a Spartan decor. The walls were painted blue, the dresser a bland brown and of decidedly unremarkable appearance, and the simple bed had plain blankets and pillows. On the wall to the left was the sole decoration; a painting of what appeared to be a Hylian knight. A small wooden desk with two chairs was in front of the window while a folded blanket was between the closet and the knight painting. Atop the desk sat an inkwell and quill along with a small book with a dark brown cover.
“Is that a diary of some sort?” Link inquired.
“Yeah, Judo’s mother bought it for him, but he practically never used it. He just hated writing and studying and would have rather been outside exploring and adventuring. Much like we do, I guess,” Kelli explained. “And that blanket by the closet… That’s my sleeping bag. I can’t believe they kept it…”
Kelli sniffled upon gazing at the sleeping bag. It seemed that Judo and his mother had missed her very much, making sure her modest accommodations were waiting when she finally came home. Mira very much wanted Kelli to have a warm bed, but there had simply not been enough room in the house for a spare bedroom or bed. Kelli had said she never minded this, and was grateful enough to have food and a roof over her head. She then went to open the top desk drawer, wondering if her best friend had kept other mementos from their childhood. Kelli immediately gasped and froze when she laid eyes on what she saw. She then produced a tattered sheet of parchment and on it was a child-like drawing of two figures. One greatly resembled Kelli as a little girl, as it had the blonde hair, black headband, and green tunic. The other figure was a boy with light brown hair, blue shorts, and a white shirt. Obviously, it was an image of Judo. Across the top were the words “Best Friends Forever.”
“Oh my gosh… This is…” Kelli stuttered, tears forming in her eyes. “Judo and I… We called this our Friendship Pact. We made it so we’d always be best friends…”
“Wow… That is quite nostalgic…”
Kelli said nothing. Suddenly, she had an urge to open the diary, wondering if perhaps Judo had written in it after all. What she had found only shocked her more as a gasp escaped from her mouth.
“He-He did write in the diary!” she cried. It was a short entry, but the words in it would soon have an immense impact upon her life.
“Let’s hear it then,” Link insisted. Kelli nodded and began reading.
“‘I can’t believe it… Tomorrow’s the big day and I’m actually writing something in this book. I’m excited, yet sad at the same time. Kelli, I wish you were here so you could come with me. I still want to cry every now and then, but I know I must stay strong for both of us. I know you’re out there somewhere, doing great things for Mom and I and many others. Now it’s my turn…to make you…proud…’”
At this Kelli burst into tears and dropped to her knees as she stammered the last few words.
Great, thanks. :]
Sorry for the slight delay, I've been busy with school. Here's chapter 11 though. :]
Chapter 11: King Zora’s Tale
“Dang…” was all Link could utter as the tearful Kelli finished reading Judo’s lone diary entry. Link wanted to say more, to say something that might console his distraught partner, yet words failed him. He hadn’t even met Judo, yet he could clearly see why Kelli was crying her heart out over him. It was undeniable that the friendship they shared had been invaluable to both of them and that nothing would keep them apart forever; especially not if Link had anything to say about it. Link might only know Judo through Kelli's anecdotes and from the rather meager information from the diary, but Link was already convinced that Judo was a man of honor. Compassionate, brave, loyal and eager to make good on the faith others placed in him. He and Kelli, it seemed, needed each other as much as Link and Navi needed one another, and perhaps even as much as Link and Zelda as well. Kelli sniffled moments later, though her tears did not stop.
“Kel… I’m sorry,” Link spoke up, his own eyes misting.
“Oh, Link…” Kelli uttered, and, startling them both in doing so, vaulting upright and throwing herself into his arms. “I just have to find Judo! I can’t stand being away from him anymore!”
“It’s alright. We’ll find him,” Link replied, returning Kelli’s hug and stroking her back. “At the very least, we’ll find out where he is so you can meet him.”
“Oh, thank you! Thank you, Link! I can’t tell you how much this means to me…”
“Indeed. I bet seeing you again means a lot to Judo too. Frankly, I’d like to meet him as well.”
“I'm sure he’d love to meet you. It's been seven long years since I’ve seen him, but we both promised we’d see each other again someday. I only regret not looking for him sooner. I returned from Mayia only a couple months ago.”
“Oh? How come you didn’t search then?”
“I’d been…busy. I was on my own, after all, and I needed ways to earn money to feed myself. I’d either work odd jobs here and there, like cleaning or cooking, or fight off bandits or thieves for the locals, since I was a freelancer rather than part of Hyrule’s military. I know I could have gone back to Judo’s house, but it wouldn’t have felt right. I mean really, a grown woman like me relying on my best friend’s mother for food and shelter?”
“Yeah, that would be awkward.”
“Exactly. And as much as I wanted to visit, things only got more and more complicated. I eliminated so many bandits and thieves that the more powerful bandit leaders and thugs put a bounty on my head. More and more of them attempted to defeat me. Of course, none ever succeeded, but they were persistent and they always seemed to be able to find me. If I’d gone to Judo’s house at that time, I’d be putting him and his mother in danger if the ruffians found me. I should’ve just come back here in the beginning… If I had, I probably would’ve found Judo before he left on his trip. And I bet the ‘big day’ he’s talking about in this diary entry refers to that journey.”
“Well, I’m sure he’d understand,” Link assured with a smile. “Besides, maybe he was busy as well. I highly doubt he’s still relying on his mother.”
“Yeah, true. I think the bandits have given up as well. I haven’t seen them in over a week. But then again, they could just be waiting until I’m away from all the trouble going on here. Aside from us, not many would wade through these enhanced monsters without a death wish.”
“That’s probably true. I should leave now, by the way. It wouldn’t help his majesty if I put off investigating Zora’s Domain for too much longer.”
“Oh, right. I’d almost forgotten about that. You get going then. I’ll try to get this place closed back up after you leave. I doubt there’s more clues in here and, if Judo and his mother do come back, I think they’ll have enough problems without thinking someone broke in.”
With that, Link headed back downstairs and out through the front door of the house. As he made his exit, a curious realization struck him. The last time he’d been in the village, as a child, he could have sworn that that building in which Judo had lived was going to become a shop. What’s more, it had actually been a shop in the dark future. The potion shop in Hyrule Castle Town had relocated there after Ganondorf had seized the throne and destroyed the city. Link had suspected that some things in this new future would be different, but that still didn’t explain why Judo’s house had been a vacant potion shop at some point in Link’s childhood. As he reached the stairway leading into the lower portion of the village, however, something caught his eye. A sign had been posted above the door on the building right across from Judo’s house. During Link’s childhood, or at least, the one he’d had just before the dark future, it had been home to a mother and her son who, for whatever reason, wanted to be like Dampe the gravekeeper. During the dark future, the bazaar from Hyrule Castle Town had relocated there. Now, it seemed the building had changed hands yet again, for the sign read that an emporium would soon be open for business there and would sell goods that Link found in Castle Town’s bazaar and the potion shop. Link regarded the ever-changing building dubiously, as it seemed a rather small space for such an operation. And, when he was a child, weren’t the carpenters developing the village planning on turning the building which had been Judo’s home into a potion shop? This seemed rather peculiar, but Link knew that the situation in Zora’s Domain was far more important.
Vira and Navi were waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Link quickly approached the pair, hoping that Navi had gotten a hold of herself.
“Hey, Navi! I hope you’ve calmed down, because we’re leaving now,” Link spoke up. “We’ve got work to do.”
“Don’t worry, I’m okay now. Let’s get out of here,” Navi replied.
“Good luck at Zora’s Domain!” Vira offered encouragingly. “And don’t come back in a grumpy mood this time, Nav.”
“I know, I know…”
“Well, we’ll be back as soon as we can,” Link promised.
Vira nodded as the two headed for the stairs leading out of the village.
About halfway down, Link suddenly felt that something was wrong. For a moment, Link thought it might’ve just been the strain of the day but, when he reached the base of the stairs, he discovered that his instincts had not played him false. Epona and Sunfire had been waiting at the base of the staircase the last time Link had seen them but now, they were both gone. All that remained where they once stood were a few splotches of blood. Few they might have been, but Link had a very ominous premonition about where they might have come from.
“What the—?! Where’d the horses go?!” Link frantically wondered as his eyes darted in all directions. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see nor hear either steed.
“I don’t know, but try the song!” Navi suggested. “Maybe they just chased some monsters away.”
“Yeah, let’s hope so.”
Link then hurriedly whipped out the Ocarina of Time. He had learned the song a long time before from Malon in the events that led up to the dark future. Whenever he’d played in during that dire time, Epona would seemingly burst out of nowhere to reach his side. Link knew from prior experience, in Termina and seemingly, everywhere else, that the song could still summon Epona. Perhaps, if Sunfire liked the melody or simply followed her fellow steed, the song would bring her back as well. Link’s heart raced as he played the tune, only endless practice preventing the notes from wavering or his hands shaking, and then he waited. Before, when he played the song, Epona would appear so instantly that, at times, Link found himself wondering if there might be a bit of magic in her as well as there was in much else that he'd encountered. Now, after several minutes had passed, he realized with growing alarm that neither horse had appeared.
“Blast! Malon’s going to kill me if she finds out about this…!” Link grumbled as he raced back up the stairs, trying to keep his fear for his beloved steed from whipping him into a panic. He considered setting out immediately to search for the horses, but then considered whether or not he should find Kelli first. She’d want to know if her horse could be in trouble. But, then again, would taking Kelli be wise? Her discovery at Judo’s house had clearly upset her, and if her head wasn't on straight, she might overlook a vital clue or distract Link from the search. After a moment’s deliberation, Link decided that he had no choice in the matter. Crossing Hyrule Field on foot at its widest point would take nearly a week. Between the sheer distance and the horses’ speed, finding either of them while searching alone would be all but impossible. Two searchers wouldn’t improve those odds by much, but it was Link’s only option.
“KELLI! Where are you?!” Link called, nearly tripping as he raced back into the village and towards Judo’s house, assuming the female warrior was still there. Thankfully, Link soon spotted her descending the stairs that led to Death Mountain.
“Link!” Kelli called back as she headed towards him. “What are you doing back here? You’re supposed to be—”
“I know, but we’ve got a big problem!”
“Our horses are gone! And there’s blood in the grass where they were standing!”
“I’m not kidding! Come see for yourself!”
Kelli offered no objection and quickly followed as Link led her to the base of the main staircase. She gasped when she laid eyes upon the blood staining the grass below. Droplets of still more blood formed a faint trail leading out onto Hyrule Field, over the small bridge spanning the river and then further into the vast expanse of grasslands. Link dapped experimentally at one of the blood drops and found that they were dry, which could only mean that whatever had happened occurred at least several hours ago. But stranger still, neither of the two warriors could make out any hoof prints. And, that meant...Link didn't know what it meant. He rather doubted the horses had bolted off on their own, for they would’ve returned when they heard the song. More likely, they had been taken but how did the culprits managed to conceal the horses’ trail? And, for that matter, did they also leave that blood trail? Link had quite a few questions, though only one of them truly mattered. How were he and Kelli going to get their steeds back?
“This…This is terrible…” Kelli uttered with a sniffle. “I promised Zelda I’d take good care of Sunfire… If I don’t get her back…”
“I feel your pain. I promised Malon I’d be good to Epona too,” Link replied. “She’ll be making saddles out of my hide if I don’t find her. But standing around worrying won’t bring the horses back. We have to go look for them.”
“Not so fast, fairy boy,” Kelli warned. “Take a look, and tell me what you see.”
Puzzled, Link let his eyes roam over the landscape. He saw...well, not much, actually.
“Looks kinda quiet,” he opined.
“Exactly. Hyrule Field hasn't been this quiet in months, and that bothers me. Also, there’s no trace of where Epona and Sunfire went except that blood trail. Whoever took the horses was able to hide their hoof prints, but left a blood trail. Doesn't that strike you as a little odd?”
“Now that you mention it, yeah. But then again, we don't know whether or not that blood came from whoever took the horses. It might have been an oversight.”
“Or bait. Whoever took Epona and Sunfire probably wants us to follow.”
“And, that would leave the village defenseless.”
“Wouldn't surprise me if there were monsters about, waiting for us to take the bait.”
“Blast… You’re right. But I don't see what else we can do. We won’t get much further without our horses, especially if we have to cross Hyrule Field. Doing that on foot could take days, not to mentioning getting through all the monsters.”
“I know. But, I can stay right out here and keep watch in case I’m wrong and they do come back. I’d have to let Vira and his majesty know first, but even so. And I could keep trying to use Epona’s Song.”
“You know that melody?”
“Yeah, Malon taught it to me because Sunfire liked it too.”
“Oh, you know Malon?”
“Everybody knows Malon these days, but everyone knows me too.”
“Gee, I feel so left out.”
“Oh, muzzle it. Anyhow, up until the troubles here began, Malon was doing quite well for herself. She’d made quite a name, and a small fortune, as the foremost horse breeder and a saddle and tack maker.”
Here, Kelli's expression turned coy.
“She’s quite the eligible bachelorette if you're interested,” she suggested.
Although Link was relieved that Kelli seemed to be feeling better, he wasn’t too fond of the direction this conversation was taking. And, it didn’t help much when Navi cut in.
“Oh, he’s already taken,” she blurted out. “Link is ever so head-over-heels for—”
Before Navi could reveal her suspicion, a blur of green engulfed her. Link, his hat in hand, held it tight against Navi’s struggled from within.
“Okay, let's get back to business,” he decided as he put his hat back on. “You stay here and guard the village. While you’re doing that, I’ll figure out what’s happening with the waterfall in Zora’s River. Once that’s done, I’ll start looking for the horses afterward. Finding Epona and Sunfire could take days and, by then, the waterfall may stop flowing.”
“True that. You have to hurry, though! Who knows what kind of trouble our poor steeds might be in?!”
“Don’t worry, I plan on it. But wait here for a minute, I want to check something out.”
“Alright, but hurry.”
Link then quickly followed the blood trail, even though the darkening Hyrulean skies made it difficult. It led him across the bridge spanning the river and out towards the ransacked Lon Lon Ranch. When the hero approached the ranch, however, he noticed the blood continued on past. The trail meandered through the lands between Gerudo Valley and Lake Hylia, but eventually disappeared. Link growled in annoyance, as the trail couldn’t tell him whether it had been leading to the valley, the lake, or even somewhere else completely. Whoever abducted Epona and Sunfire might have reconsidered their course and turned elsewhere, met up with others of their ilk, at which point the captive horses had changed hands, or this trail was simply meant to lead him and Kelli away so that Kakariko would be unguarded. And of course, that was assuming that this trail was even that of the thieves. There were a lot of possibilities, though none of which would help him in the rescue. Now more concerned than ever, Link returned to Kelli as fast as his legs would carry him. His futile search had taken him much further away than he’d intended and it had also cost him the night hours. Both a lack of results and a lack of sleep left him in a decidedly unpleasant mood.
“That blood trail leads past the ranch, but then it disappears,” he reported upon approaching Kelli once more. “I was hoping I could follow it further after I finished my errand at Zora’s Domain, but… I’m sorry.”
“Blast…” Kelli worriedly groused. “I’ll report to his majesty at once. We can’t waste anymore time, you have to head to Zora’s Domain now!”
With that, Link quickly raced towards Zora’s River while Kelli hurried back up the stairs into Kakariko. Once Kelli was a good distance away, Link let Navi out of inside his hat. The fairy had been rather indignant but, to Link’s dismay, she took this as yet another sign that her suspicions were correct. Trying vainly to ignore her, Link continued his journey. Luckily, the entrance to Zora’s River was only a few hours away. Link decided that his first task would be reaching King Zora which, given the Zora King’s rather sedentary nature, would likely not be difficult. Once there, he’d see about learning more about what was happening to the waterfall. Even if he didn’t find Ruto in the process, Link promised himself he’d search for the horses after restoring the waterfall’s flow. Kelli was worried and frustrated enough about Judo’s disappearance; the last thing she needed was another loved one in danger. What’s more, aside from neither Zelda nor Malon being pleased if something terrible happened to the horses, Link rather doubted he’d be able to accomplish his quest if he had to cross Hyrule Field on foot when it was swarming with enhanced monsters. Without Epona to help him outrun the enemy, any monsters lurking in the field would be able to surround Link and tear him to pieces. As he arrived in Zora’s River, Link was still trying to shake off whatever frightening thoughts entered his mind regarding the fate of his loyal steed.
“Please be alright, Epona… Sunfire…” he uttered as he traversed the path up the river.
It didn’t take Link long to see that the situation was as serious as King Daphnes made it out to be, and worse. Zora's River usually ran deep and swift and, during his prior visits as a child, could’ve swept him away like a twig if he fell in. Now, the water didn’t even reach his waist and its once mighty flow had slowed nearly to a halt. After a long moment of looking at the river’s state in shocked silence, Link broke into a run.
After jumping across cliffs, dashing through ominously shallow water, and climbing sloped pathways, Link found himself standing before the waterfall itself and the entrance to Zora’s Domain. And, just when he thought the situation here couldn’t get any worse, it did just that. The fierce torrent that had shielded Zora’s Domain from all but those acting upon the authority of the Royal Family had been reduced to a feeble trickle and the entrance to Zora’s Domain was wide open. And then, as if via some malicious finishing touch by fate, just as Link was about to jump across the gap and enter, however, the water stopped completely.
“…Oh no,” was all Link could utter, his eyes widening with fear. “King Zora is not going to like this…”
Though he was loathe to frighten the Zora king any more than he probably already was, Link knew he could not keep such an emergency from him. The enemy had already penetrated Kakariko Village at least several times, and would surely lose no time doing the same here. He immediately raced inside and hurried to King Zora’s throne room as quickly as his legs could carry him. Several wary Zoras took notice of his arrival, some friendly and other simply relieved that he wasn’t an enemy, but Link raced right past them. He rushed up the stairs above the Zora shop and burst into the throne room. As Link had expected, King Zora sat upon his throne staring somberly at the still water below him. In fact, as Link’s gaze roamed the chamber, he could swear that the water was slightly shallower than he remembered it. Knowing this to be a bad sign, Link quickly rushed to the raised platform before King Zora.
“Your majesty, I’m here! I apologize if I’ve delayed too long,” Link spoke up, somewhat breathless from his frantic trek.
“Oh, you must be Link, then! I’m so relieved you arrived safely!” King Zora replied, perking his head in surprise at Link’s appearance. “…You look troubled, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”
“Well, to tell you the truth…” Link began, looking away.
“The waterfall has stopped flowing completely, hasn’t it?”
Link’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“…H-How did you—?”
“…We could feel it,” King Zora explained. “The waterfall is connected to our domain by the fountain where Lord Jabu-Jabu dwells. If it stops flowing, the water stops flowing in here as well.”
“Oh… I’m so sorry. I should have come sooner.”
“Please, don’t worry about that. I know there are other troubles in Hyrule that you and Kelli must attend to. Too many to count, I’ve heard tell. With all of the evil that’s arisen in our afflicted land, I’m surprised that you’ve come at all.”
“I’ll do better than that, your majesty. I’ll start investigating the waterfall immediately, but first, can you tell me how all of this began? When did the waterfall’s flow begin failing? When did Princess Ruto first disappear?”
“Ah, well, the trouble began not long after my dear sweet Ruto departed for the Water Temple several days ago. A contingent of Zora guards had accompanied her under my orders. While they were away, another of my guards reported that the waterfall was thinning.”
“I see. None of them could find the cause of this?”
“Unfortunately, no. However, while the guard was giving his report to me, we heard a terrible sound. It was loud and screechy, though it almost sounded like a roar, and it echoed to us from outside. A guard went to investigate, but he saw nothing. However, just before he was about to come back inside, he heard it again. He told us that it sounded like it was coming from the sky.”
“Indeed. I can’t imagine at all what it could’ve been, but whatever it was, even its echoes paralyzed us with fear. Several hours later, one of the Zora guards from the contingent accompanying my daughter returned. He returned with grievous wounds and had to be rushed to our healers immediately. Once he was well enough to talk, he reported that he and the other two guards had met with disaster. Some fell magic caused the guards to black out and when they awoke, Ruto was gone, vanished. Before they could begin looking for her, however, a small group of monsters attacked them. We may not look like it, but some of our tribe are quite competent in the arts of battle, though we Zoras generally dislike fighting.”
“I know. I discovered that when I met your tribe’s cousins in Termina.”
“That is a tale I wish I had time to hear. To continue, the Zora guards managed to win the battle, but they were lucky to come away with their lives.”
“Whoa… What happened to the other two…?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t know how they fare. The guard that returned here reported that they stayed behind to search for Ruto. But I fear the worst may have befallen them.”
“But that’s not all,” King Zora continued. “Link, if the waterfall is not restored, this entire domain, along with the fountain and the river, will eventually dry up. And neither my people nor any other in Hyrule can survive long without water! What’s more, now that the entrance is no longer concealed, those monsters are free to enter and we are all but defenseless! I’m begging you to help us by any means necessary as quickly as possible!”
For a stretching second, Link eyed the Zora king with growing, albeit concealed, concern. King Zora looked, as he himself would probably say, rather green around the gills. His breathing was labored, his eyes were weary and careworn, his hands, or at least, his manipulative extremities, trembled and most shocking of all, he’d lost weight. Though Link had no idea how old King Zora was, nor did he have any idea how to ascertain a Zora’s health, but he could clearly see that his situation was hardly different from what Daphnes was going through. Between his daughter’s disappearance and the growing crisis of the waterfall’s decline, King Zora’s health was surely suffering. Link was suddenly reminded of the sickly, despondent Hylian King and how he fearfully wondered if the monarch would live to see Hyrule restored. Angrily, he clenched his fists, knowing that this simply could not stand.
“Don’t worry, I’ll have this situation figured out. I’ll do whatever it takes!” he proclaimed.
“Oh, thank you so much! You should start by investigating the fountain. All of the water comes from there. I suspect it’s where you’ll find the answer.”
“Then that’s what I’ll do. Where do you suspect Ruto may be though?”
“Well, I can only speculate at this point. I do have a thought though. You may not know this, but we Zora did not always live in this domain. Long ago, we once lived in the depths of Lake Hylia. But during a fierce war many years ago, the Gerudo attacked us and our home was destroyed. So, we moved here. Our former home has been in ruins for ages, but we can still find it easily enough and I have little doubt Ruto would try to hide there. Sadly, that course of action seems to have been the least wise. The Zora guard told us that he suspect it’s where the monsters came from. More curious still, a frigid wind has been blowing from inside for the past few weeks. I fear it’s become a very dangerous place. In fact, we’ve begun calling it the Fortress of Ice.”
“I see. I’ll go check it out when I’m done here.”
“Alas, that may prove impossible. The guard also told me that as he was leaving, a thick fog enveloped the entire lake and has not dispersed. We have confirmed that the fog is still there and, from what the guard told us, it was impossible for him to see anything past the fences at the entrance. If you go any further than that, you may as well be blind.”
“Blast… What am I supposed to do then?”
“Well, there is a tale that I've heard. I usually don't put much stock in such things but, in all candor, we are desperate. These tales told of a sacred jewel possessing the power to control the wind. Supposedly, it is hidden somewhere near here, but I know not if this is true.”
The Jewel of Wind, Link realized.
“Actually, that might be just what we need!” Link exclaimed, noting King Zora’s puzzlement. “The jewel you’re talking about is part of a set, and I’ve already found two of them. If they’re real, this one has to be as well. And a gust of wind would be more than enough to blow the fog away. I’ll look for the jewel and if I don’t find it, I’ll find some other way to explore the lake and rescue Ruto.”
“Alright. I wish you good luck. And more than that, good speed.”
Link merely responded with a nod, conscious that the Zoras, and perhaps, all of Hyrule, were living on borrowed time now that the water had stopped flowing. Thankfully, King Zora seemed to appreciate this fact as well and, rather than spend five minutes scooting over to allow access to the passage leading to Zora’s Fountain, he had already moved aside. Perhaps the Zora king had tried let in as much water as possible or maybe he had anticipated Link’s arrival and decided to give him a head start, but he couldn’t be certain. Either way, Link quickly raced up the ramp rising on either side of the Zora king’s throne and ran through the small tributary that once flowed into the chamber. The water within had always been shallow, but now bare rock rose above the pitiable flow. Link continued forward, already worried about the state of the fountain, and his fears were swiftly confirmed. The fountain had once been an immense basin of water, even deeper than Lake Hylia, but now it looked to be half empty. Link’s gaze quickly found Lord Jabu-Jabu, the immense leviathan who was the Zora tribe’s guardian god, forlornly beached upon an expansive outcropping of bare rock. The beached leviathan was calling out, bellowing in helpless agony and, despite his less-than-pleasant memories of the Zora tribe’s guardian god, Link could feel his eyes misting at the poor creature's misery. Link had never discovered Jabu-Jabu’s fate in the dark future, though he’d suspected that Jabu-Jabu had either been killed by Ganondorf or had found some means to migrate away from the desecrated kingdom. The Zoras' guardian god was still alive at least, but for how long? Out of the water, he surely would not survive long.
“I know we ought to help him, but goddesses forbid I ever have to go inside that fish again…” Link mumbled under his breath. He recalled how, as a child in the events leading up to the dark future, he’d been collecting the three Spiritual Stones. These three enchanted jewels were the keys to opening the Door of Time in the Temple of Time and retrieving the Master Sword. Retrieving the Spiritual Stone of Water, also known as Zora’s Sapphire, had meant slogging through Jabu-Jabu’s stomach to find both it and Ruto, both of which had been swallowed by Jabu-Jabu. That particularly unpleasant trek had involved fish guts, parasitic tentacles and, worst of the worst, Ruto. Running a close second to the Zora Princess had been the boss, which had been something Link could not even identify. Whatever it was, it had had a slimy, multi-armed body that discharged electrical energy with killing power. Link might be willing to go in there again, if he had to in order to keep Jabu-Jabu from dying, but he desperately hoped for an alternative.
“‘Help him?!’” Navi repeated in stupefaction. “Are you nuts?! I mean, it’s a sad picture but, unless you want to leave me here with the ocarina to play the Song of Storms for the next four months, which, by the way, is so not happening, I don’t see what we can do.”
“Well,” Link said with a shrug, “I’m just firing blind here, but, I can see that there’s still a good bit of water in the lower part of the basin. If we can push Jabu-Jabu off of this outcropping, then he’ll land in that water and be okay.”
“Great. So, where is the small army of Link clones equipped with Golden Gauntlets that’s going to make this happen?”
“You're not helping. Still, I have a thought. You remember how the Elemental Jewels can summon their respective elements? Well, call me crazy, but maybe the Jewel of Wind could create enough wind to push Jabu-Jabu off of the outcropping and into the water.”
There was a very long, very awkward pause during which Navi stared at Link as if he’d lost his mind.
“Yup, you’re crazy.”
Link was about to retort when Navi darted towards the edge of the cliff and began frantically bobbing up and down.
“Hey, check out the water back here!”
When Link’s eyes followed Navi’s gesture, they nearly popped out of his head. Upon the bottom of the lake, at the opposite end of the fountain, were several boulders stacked on top of each other.
“Well, there’s our answer,” Link finally uttered moments later, though his tone was skeptical. “But how did the Zoras miss this?”
“Well, they were probably afraid to go outside after hearing that monstrous roar. Or, maybe they just couldn’t stand seeing their guardian god like this. Or both.”
“That makes sense. Still, how are we going to get rid of those boulders? Even if I still had the Golden Gauntlets and my Zora Tunic, I doubt I could move them while they're underwater. And, using bombs is out of the question.”
“Good question…” Navi conceded, trailing off in contemplation until a realization hit her. “Wait! Link, remember what you did with that one bomb in the Magma Cavern during the fight against the Flare Dancers?”
“Huh? Oh! I shot an unlit bomb with an arrow to set it off!” Link recalled. “Of course!”
With that, he immediately produced another bomb. Carefully, he knotted the fuse so that it would be shortened and would prevent the water from getting in and soaking the explosive powder inside. Then, he dropped it into the water without lighting it. After it sank and came to rest atop of the boulders, Link whipped out his bow, charged an arrow, and released. The arrow tore into the water, the magic of the bow allowing it to cut through the water without losing speed, and struck the bomb. The arrow grazing the rocks and the bomb’s casing produced a hail of brief sparks, one of which ignited the explosive in the fraction of a second before the water could snuff it out. There was a distant flash of light, a muffled explosion and the boulders were shattered to pieces. Link had been expected torrents of liberated water to come pouring out into the drained fountain. Unfortunately, the water level did not change.
“What?! Alright, something funny is going on here!” Link opined in annoyance.
“Wait, look! There’s a cave entrance down there!” Navi pointed out.
“…Huh, so there is,” Link replied, noticing the opening in the wall under the water. “As I always say, time to check it out.”
With that, Link navigated as close to the tunnel as he could via the land and, when he traveled as far as he could, dove into the water. Since he had neither the Zora Tunic nor the Golden Scale, the latter which allowed him to hold his breath longer than normal, he knew he would only have so much time to get down, get in, and find a place to come up for air...if there was one. Thankfully, the cave entrance hadn’t been too far down and luckier still, he was able to surface again moments later. What he saw, however, didn’t surprise him in the slightest. It was a small grotto, its walls damp and water dripping from above in a light, but endless rain. Straight ahead, at the top of a small rocky staircase, was a large, rough hewn stone door. Stalactites and stalagmites thrust from the ceiling and floor like jaws, ready to bite any interloping heroes in half.
Well, interloping is what I do best, Link mused.
“An undead forest, a cavern full of magma, and now this. Swell,” Link commented and shivered a little. “It’s chilly in here too.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think this is the only place connected to the Zoras’ problems,” Navi replied. “I do sense evil in here, but a lot less than in the Magma Cavern or Death Forest. If it were otherwise, I’d think other people besides us would know about it.”
“Agreed. But, I do think that this is the place where we’ll find the Jewel of Wind and whatever’s causing the water levels to drop.”
“I second that. But perhaps the Jewel of Wind is connected to the cause?”
“You know, you could be right. I hadn't thought of that before, and we already found curses on two of the jewels. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rest were as well.”
“Still want to use the Jewel to help Jabu-Jabu?” Navi inquired, snickering. “I can’t picture it doing him any good, and even Ruto’s crush might not help you if the jewel’s curse hurts him.”
“You are never going to let me live that down, are you?”
Rather than answer directly, Navi began buzzing around the grotto singing a goddess-awful song that might’ve been an imitation of a sea chantey; a terrible sea chantey.
“Oh, blow the fish down, bullies blow the fish down! Way, hey, blow the fish down! Oh, blow the fish down, bullies blow the fish down! Give me some time to blow the fish down!”
“Remind me, is it river salmon or frogs that are known to try and eat fairies on occasion?”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
A few more good natured barbs passed between the two and, within a few minutes, both were laughing too hard to taunt the other any further. That had proven a refreshing distraction from their rather dire situation and, in many ways, made Link glad that the Great Deku Tree had sent Navi to him, and gladder still that he’d found her again.
“Well, let’s go, we’re wasting enough time already.”
“Yeah, better hurry before Malon finds Epona first…”
“AAAH!” Link exclaimed, shuddering and bolting through the door instantly. He had, of course, not forgotten that his beloved steed was missing but, despite it being rather doubtful that Malon would discover Epona before he could, Link could not suppress a shudder at the idea. Malon was a strong willed young woman and, though Link was an excellent warrior, an angry woman was somehow more terrifying to him than Ganondorf. Then again, there was also the question of how Ruto would react when Link had to explain to her where he’d been for seven years. He had been too young, and much too stupid, to know what she’d made of him accepting the Zora’s Sapphire. After all, having grown up amongst the never-aging Kokiri, engagement and marriage weren’t exactly things Link had been exposed to before. Not that Ruto was likely to understand, of course. It seemed as though, no matter what happened, Link would have a woman biting his head off.
“Navi, don’t ever scare me like that!” Link blurted after the door closed. “Just pray that Epona’s where Malon won’t find her! And besides, I’ve got a feeling that Sunfire is with Epona. If Malon found both of them, maybe she’ll decide it’s not completely my fault.”
“Oh yeah, she’d be mad at Kelli too. Hehe.”
Link shot Navi a glare before responding.
“Not what I meant.”
“Hey, I know you don’t like her, we’ll be working together with her for a long time. And we’re going to have to work together if we want to win this thing.”
“I mean it, Navi! Don’t you remember—”
“No, I mean look ahead, you idiot!”
As Link turned, he beheld a streak of blue flying straight at him. Even as he dove out of the way, he knew already that it was an Ice Keese...and that, where there was one, there were many. He whipped out his bow, aiming carefully when he brought an arrow to the bowstring. After successfully striking the dangerous bat down, Link sighed with relief.
“That was too close…” he uttered. “One hit from those things and that would mean big trouble.”
Ice Keese were deadlier than their normal and flaming brethren, as their frigid auras were capable of freezing their targets in solid ice. Link didn’t have a chance to see if the Ice Keese might have been enhanced, but he wasn't too keen on finding out what new tricks these creatures might have learned.
“Yeah, but don’t forget those other two fluttering about,” Navi pointed out. “Best to get out. You see that pool of water? I can see the next door on the other side, and I think now’s a good time to go through.”
“Aw man…” Link groaned when he noticed the other two Ice Keese flying about the room, wheeling in the air to bear down on him. Still, as Navi had hinted, the next door was open, though it was on the other side of a pool of water. Link jumped in and swam across as fast as he could, nervously eyeing the Ice Keese. They were getting close but thankfully, Link had had a head start. He clambered out of the water and bolted through the door before either Keese could could touch him.
Unfortunately, as was often the case, Link’s relief was short lived. The new chamber he had entered was a circular room which seemed to be some sort of nexus for this dungeon. In addition to the one he came through, there were seven more doors awaiting him. The door directly across from him was more ornate than the others, as the frame was ornamented with radiant silver. However, it also had bars sealing it shut. The other six doors looked the same as the one Link had come through, and interestingly, above each one was an unlit brazier. All seven doors, however, bore a curious symbol. It depicted what looked like two gusts of wind, each moving in the opposite direction of the other. Link merely froze where he stood for several moments, as there was only one explanation he could think of for this.
“Navi, I’ve a feeling we’ve got a fight ahead of us,” he spoke up. “I’m assuming those braziers will ignite whenever we clear the rooms behind those doors. And I bet anything that we’ll find the Jewel of Wind behind that ornantel door afterwards.”
“And the answer to the problem with the waterfall,” Navi added.
“That too. Let’s get started.”
With that, Link chose to proceed through the door on his right. What he discovered inside, however, made him shake his head in disbelief. Sitting on an immense chair carved from stone on the other side of the room, clad in white armor from head to toe and carrying a massive double-bladed axe, was none other than a familiar foe he remembered meeting in the Spirit Temple during the dark future.
“…You have got to be kidding me,” Link blurted, staring at the creature in shock. “An Iron Knuckle?!”
Oh, awesome. Thanks. :3