Darunia is the patriarch of the Gorons in Ocarina of Time, and after getting through several major situations, he finds that he is the Sage of Fire. As the leader of the Gorons, Darunia is forced to make a couple of difficult decisions, but thanks to interventions from Link, the Gorons pull through. Now, let me dive deeper as I put Darunia under my magnifying glass.
After Impa instructs Link to go to Kakariko Village to look for the second Spiritual Stone, Link finds his way up to Goron City, the inhabitants of which are suffering from starvation, as their only source of food, Dodongo’s Cavern, was sealed off by Darunia due to the increasing monster population. Ganondorf visits the Gorons not long before Link and offers to open Dodongo’s Cavern and purge it of monsters, on the condition that Darunia give him the Spiritual Stone of Fire. Darunia refuses to hand the stone over, and Dodongo’s Cavern remains closed. I think it’d make more sense, not to block the Cavern to stop the monsters from getting out, but to block it so that no Goron was killed in trying to get something to eat and then being attacked by a monster. However, the only explanation given is that Darunia sealed the Cavern due to the monsters, and no further detail is given, so it’s up to the player to decide which of those two possibilities are more likely, whether they are both factors, or if there’s an entirely different third option.
Darunia is a great and wise leader, making each decision depending on his perception of the greater good. He saw Ganondorf for what he was, an evil man seeking power, and to rule the kingdom, and knew that he could never get the Spiritual Stone, even if he were to somehow claim the others. Despite knowing that his people would starve, he let Ganondorf leave without opening the Cavern, in the hopes that a messenger from the Royal Family would be able to help them out.
However, during this starvation, the Spiritual Stone looked more and more appetizing to the starving Gorons. As a result, Darunia was forced to take the stone and lock himself in his room with it, awaiting the Royal Messenger. Upon discovering that the messenger was a mere boy, Link, Darunia was against the idea of giving him the Spiritual Stone. Link returns later and plays for him the song that he loves so much, Saria’s Song, having heard it echo from the Lost Woods into Goron City. While Link has found his way onto Darunia’s good side, Darunia still does not give him the stone.
I’m not surprised by this at all, and I’d be surprised if somebody else was surprised by this. If you were left in charge of a stone that was a mechanism in the lock that kept a golden power from those with evil in their hearts, you wouldn’t give it to a little boy, either, would you, because who knows what he’s going to do with it, or whether or not he is actually trying to use it to get that golden power, or has other ideas in mind? From Darunia’s point of view, Link could well be trying to manipulate him, attempting to get the stone by playing the song that he loves so very much.
Thus, Darunia gives Link a challenge, and only after succeeding would he grant Link the Spiritual Stone of Fire: unblock the entrance to Dodongo’s Cavern and purge it of the monsters within. I can’t help but wonder what was going through Darunia’s head when he assigned Link this duty? A nine-year-old boy with a cute little dagger against flaming bats, large, bipedal lizards, small exploding ones, and an incredibly large one that breathes fire, all while navigating a dimly lit, magma-filled cave? Which one do you think is going to win? I’d put my money on the cave and everything inside it.
But Link is no ordinary nine-year-old, and, luckily for Darunia, he pulls through, and proves that the task was actually quite easy, and could easily have been accomplished by Darunia himself, or another brave Goron. So why didn’t Darunia do it himself? Admittedly, there are some sections a Goron would have trouble getting through, but overall, it could be done. Particularly when it becomes obvious that it only would’ve taken one bomb flower to open the cavern in the first place. I like to think that Darunia, as adamant as he was that a messenger would come, planned from the beginning that he would get the messenger to purge Dodongo’s Cavern of the monsters within to prove the worth of the messenger.
Anyways, Link saves the Gorons, and Darunia asks him to become his Sworn Brother. Link agrees, and to symbolise their new relationship, Darunia gifts him with the Goron’s Ruby, the Spiritual Stone of Fire. Darunia then calls for other Gorons to come and thank Link, but they end up traumatizing him, and sending him running off screaming.
Seven years later, Darunia has had a son, whom he named Link, after the Hero of the Gorons. However, the Gorons now face a new predicament, as Ganondorf has locked the Gorons up in the Fire Temple, readying them to be fed to Volvagia. Darunia goes to the Fire Temple with the intention of freeing his people and ridding the mountain of Volvagia once and for all. Link catches up with him in the Temple, and Darunia tells Link to free the Gorons while he deals with Volvagia. For the sake of a dungeon, Nintendo made it happen this way, but I feel, realistically, Darunia would’ve gone to the aid of his people, and he would’ve let Link defeat the menace that Volvagia posed.
I’ve always wondered where those who would become Sages went, when they disappeared into each of their respective dungeons. I forgot to go into this in my editorial on Saria, but now that I’ve remembered it here, where did Darunia go? I assumed that, without the legendary hammer, he was defeated by Volvagia, but then what? He can’t have just been cast off to the side, otherwise we would’ve seen him. There’s always the possibility that he was eaten by Volvagia, but when Volvagia started exploding, he ascended to the Chamber of the Sages, though Volvagia is rather skinny and wouldn’t have digested anything that quickly, so the most likely idea is that he gets submerged in magma, and, being a Goron, isn’t as quickly molten down by it, and survives to be awakened once Volvagia is defeated.
Now a Sage, Darunia thanks Link for killing Volvagia and freeing his people, and grants him the Fire Medallion, adding his power to Link’s. Despite the fact that in the final game, the Medallions have no practical use, I like to think that the Medallions add to Link’s personality and reflexes, where the Forest Medallion adds to Link’s courage, and the Fire Medallion could add to Link’s determination, but who knows?
Now it’s time for your opinions: Darunia, wise leader or powerful idiot? Why do you think he sealed off Dodongo’s Cavern? Why do you think he chose to take on Volvagia without the hammer? What are your opinions on the effects of the Medallions in-game? Let me know in the comments. AND, after somebody expressed interest in it last week, do you think that I should take a look at Rauru?