Posted on August 10 2018 by Kat Vadam
Chapter 18: Uncloaked
Gazing down into darkness, Deya and Avela stood on the precipice of an abyssal hole that seemed to be a gouge in the land itself. “Do you think he went down there?” Avela asked. Having followed the cloaked man from the Kara Kara Bazaar, past the bases of the Great Cliffs, and through a narrow, winding canyon, they had reached an impasse. To their right, a vacant inclined path circled up the sides of the pit. Directly in front of them was a massive drop that seemed to go on forever.
Deya shook his head. “He couldn’t have gone anywhere else. We’ve kept a pretty good watch on him –”
“Except for when he went around a curve in that canyon.”
“—except for that. But he clearly isn’t headed up the pit,” Deya said, gesturing to the spiraling path, “and there’s no way he could’ve gotten behind us.” He knelt on the cliffside, quietly staring into the depths. “Do you think you’d be able to carry me down?”
Avela recoiled, staring at him in shock. “Deya, are you crazy? We may not know where he went, but he might not have gone down there. And how would we get back out, anyway?”
Deya shrugged. “We could warp to Rito Village if it comes down to it. And there might be another way to get out of there. If the cloaked man did go down there, then there has to be, right? How else would he get out?”
Avela shook her head. “First,” she began, holding up a single feather, “we still don’t know if he went down there. Second,” she held up another feather, “if we could only leave by warping to Rito Village, that would put us several days behind him. And who knows when or even if we’d find him again. And lastly,” she said, crossing her wings, “was your mission to find the cloaked man? Or just to try and get information on him to relay to Her Highness?”
Deya was silent. Barely glancing over his shoulder, he repeated, “Can you carry me down?” The edge in his voice cut her protests off completely.
Avela sighed and looked at the ground. “Yes. Yes, I should be able to.”
Deya nodded. “Good. Then let’s do it.”
Deya crouched as if he were about to begin sprinting in a race and braced himself. Avela took several steps back, and then darted towards Deya as she began flapping her wings. As she jumped over her friend, she wrapped her bird’s legs around his arms and dove straight down into the chasm like a falcon. Deya’s stomach lurched back into his feet; he worried for a moment that it might completely leave him, but, as soon as they had taken off, she quickly and cautiously leveled out and flapped her wings to slow their descent.
Amazingly, as they sank lower and lower into the crevice, the light didn’t seem to vanish at all. The sides of pit continued to be illuminated from the sky above, transitioning from a rough stone face to an odd-looking surface that Deya couldn’t make out as they dropped.
The duo had no time to take notice of much beyond this, however, as the sandy ground grew nearer. Avela flapped harder, and Deya pulled his legs up and braced. When they were a few feet off the ground, Avela suddenly released Deya, and he dropped and rolled safely on the soft sand as she landed in a stately manner.
Once they were safely on the ground again, they began to truly take notice of their surroundings. The sky’s light still faintly shone down on them, just enough to see where they were. The base of the pit, or rather, the ruined room, was cylindrical. The walls were smoothly laid with artificially-formed bricks, ancient and worn, save the section of the wall in front of them, which had collapsed.
Slowly surveying the structure, Deya wondered aloud, “What is this place?”
Avela shook her head. “I was hoping you might know.”
They turned around, noticing an open arch in the wall that appeared to be the ruins of a doorway, the door itself having long since crumbled away. Without a word, they made their way toward it, their footsteps producing almost no sound. Stepping through over the rubble, their eyes fell upon a sight that they did not expect to behold here.
The room that they had just entered – or, what was left of it – was colossal. What wasn’t collapsed completely was falling apart. A few broken stone paths and beams of metal crossed the blanket of sand that formed the entire floor. A few stone pillars still stood in places, despite the condition of the structure as a whole, giving them an almost sporadically scattered appearance. Across the room in front of them, the ceiling had caved in, impeding their progress straight forward.
Deya pointed at a gap near the top of the barrier. “It looks like there might be something on the other side. Let’s see if we can find a way around.” Avela nodded.
As they prepared to take a step forward, Deya stopped and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Hang on. I don’t think we’re alone down here.”
“The cloaked man?”
“No. It looks like some creatures have made this place their home,” he explained, pointing to a large, round, frog-like creature that seemed to swim in the sand.
“What is that?” Avela asked, briefly cutting her eyes away from it to glance at Deya.
“I think it’s an Electro Spume. I’ve heard of travelers who’ve ventured further into the desert talk about them. They’re very territorial, and they spit balls of electricity at anything or anyone that gets too close to their area. We should be okay as long as we don’t go too close.”
As they neared the cave in, they saw a statue in oddly good condition against the wall at their left: a sort of hourglass structure with wings resting on a pedestal.
Avela’s head twitched and tilted, her avian eyes honing in. “It looks like there’s some kind of bird carving on the base. Almost like a Rito, but…not quite.”
“Perhaps,” Deya nodded in agreement. “Come on, we need to keep going.”
They carried on for a couple more steps before Deya froze once more. Avela nearly crashed into him, having not noticed his hesitation. He smiled at her apology, more concerned for the small mound that rested among fragments of the stone walkway. He cautiously approached and brushed some sand away. Avela followed him over and studied what he had found.
“What is that, Deya?”
Deya cocked his head. “I’m not entirely sure.” He picked up a spherical object that had two half-spheres and blades attached to it. As he twirled the blades, he continued, “This was definitely some sort of mechanical…thing, and not just a toy, either. But…I don’t know what.”
He fumbled with it a little more, bringing it close to his face in the dim light. “I’ll want to come back and study this. Who knows, maybe it could help somehow in my magic-technology fusion ideas?” Regretfully, he set it back where he found it, giving it one last look before motioning for them to continue on.
They climbed and stumbled their way to the collapsed barrier, nearly falling face-first over the remains. In the back of his head, Deya reminded himself of his mission and the princess’s orders, but his fascination with the unknown had taken charge now. They stood, Avela brushing out her feathers, and looked around.
How is there still light?
To their left, another door lead to a new room that stretched away. They went through.
The walls were lined with several broken-down, oddly-carved statues and multiple piles of rubble from various structures of unknown originating shape. Were they statues once, too, or…what? Deya would have to examine those later, too.
But not quite. There was something else he wanted to examine first.
Avela dashed over to a pair of statues that were different than the ones along the wall of the room and bounced excitedly. “Deya! Look at these!”
Deya walked over slowly, struggling to take all this in. As he looked at the statues, he crossed his arms. “Okay, these definitely appear to be some form of technology.”
Avela turned her head back towards him. “But these are in ruins! Who could have made them? Where did they come from?”
“I really don’t know. I mean…the Sheikah have been around for centuries and have dabbled in technology before, so maybe them? And it’s been so long since there have been any major developments or discoveries.” Smirking, he raised a brow. “Or maybe it was the Lord of the Mountain?”
“Wow…do you really think it was-” she caught sight of his expression. “You’re not serious, are you?”
Deya gave her a nudge jokingly. She sighed, pouting for a moment. He waited, still smiling, waiting for her to cave first. A couple seconds passed in silence.
Finally, she cracked, giving the Rito equivalent of sticking the tongue out and blowing berries. Deya nudged her again and she giggled.
He turned his attention back to the statues and began to work his way around them, delicately feeling them over. Time had worn them smooth and sleek, but, “they’re rather ugly-looking, aren’t they?” Avela commented. Caught up in his investigation, Deya nodded, despite barely noticing what she had said.
“Oh, hang on –” Deya reached inside a gap in the figure,scrunching his face as he moved his hand around inside of it. A moment later, his fingers grasped and he lit up. “Got it!” He pulled his hand out, complete with a small blue gem, also worn smooth, and strangely cool. Holding the gem up the light, he squinted through it as it cast patterns down his hands, arms, and across his face. “I don’t know what this is, but I intend to find out.” Proud and determined, he tossed the gem a couple times before tucking it into his pocket. This little relic, he wouldn’t leave behind for later.
“We should keep going,” Avela whispered. He could tell she was anxious to keep exploring.
They began to head in the opposite direction, down the length of the room. Avela pointed with her wing, saying, “I think I can see another door down there. Maybe it leads back to the room we came from?”
“Hopefully on the other side of the debris, yeah.”
The two of them were careful to watch where they stepped to avoid tripping again on the massive mess of broken stone, rusted metal, and whatever else was scattered everywhere. They continued to look around this mysterious structure, wondering where they were, and how this place was here, and what else they might find in it.
Suddenly a swarm of Keese dropped from the ceiling and flew towards them. Startled, Deya jumped and attempted to retrieve his halberd from his back strap. Avela panicked and began darting around wildly. A moment later, the swarm had vanished somewhere behind them.
Deya walked over to Avela and put a hand on her shoulder. Giving a nervous grin, he asked “Hey, are you okay? For a flying creature yourself, you really can’t handle small flying creatures, can you?”
“They’re creepy!” The two of them laughed, and Avela nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay now.” She shook her head. “One of these days when a situation like that happens again, I’ll remember my training and actually make use of it. I’m not completely helpless you know,” she added with a wink and a teasing hint of her own in her voice.
Deya’s brows rose. “Well, I’ll still try to protect you if you need it. Though, I do look forward to seeing that.”
Having reached and passed through the door at the end of the room, they gazed up at the massive pile of rubble that now lay on their right.
“Nice! That room actually did get us past it!” Deya voiced. “Now, what else is there to see?” He glanced around. “Oh, there! I think there’s a door.”
He stepped forward, but she didn’t follow. “What is it?”
Avela pointed out past him, and his eyes followed her long, crimson feather. At the end of her eyesight, a large, crab-like creature with a circular shell stood still; it didn’t seem to have noticed them. “Um – what’s that?” That did it: the creature looked in their direction at the sound of her voice. No one moved. Deya barely breathed as he assessd the creature as friend or foe. But, soon enough, it answered for him as it rolled into its shell and rapidly spun towards them, sparks flying wildly from it.
Deya’s eyes widened. “Ampilus! Run for the door!” They darted across the sand in the direction of escape, hoping to avoid being hit by something moving at such a high speed. Or even being electrocuted…! It rammed into the wall behind them, stunning itself for a moment, before it rolled back into its shell and making chase once more, rapidly gaining on them. Avela, using her wings to push herself forward through the air, reached the open door first, with Deya close behind. As she made it through the opening, she turned and pulled him through and the creature smashed into the wall once again. It shook itself off, rolled, slammed once more, and scuttled back a few steps, staring them down with its strange golden eyes.
Finding that it could not follow them through, though, it gave up and scampered off away from the door.
“What was – that thing?” Avela asked between deep breaths.
“That –” replied Deya, also gasping for air with his hands on his knees, “was an Ampilus.” He straightened and continued, “I’ve heard of them from the same sort of people who I had heard about the Electro Spume from. They, however, never described what it looked like before it started chasing them, which would’ve been nice to know. I kinda had to figure it out on the fly, there.”
Deya’s expression suddenly changed, and he pulled out his halberd. “And we have even more company! Get down!” Avela ducked, and Deya swung his halberd. A dragon-like creature with three heads of bone lunged at them. Two of the heads shattered as they collided with Deya’s weapon, and the third drew back. It stared menacingly at them, its limbs flailing for a moment, and then…
Two heads suddenly regrew.
Horrified, Avela screamed, “What is that thing?!”
“This time, I don’t know!”
Deya swung at it again, only knocking out one of the heads, which came back a moment later. Suddenly, all three heads lunged at him at once. Deya barely managed to jump back in time, colliding with Avela and knocking her back.
“If you can defend yourself, Avela, now might be a decent time to help!” Deya shouted in a panic.
“Oh! Right!” Avela shook herself off and stood. “You should step back and close your ears!” She opened her mouth to sing.
Instead of taking time to ask for reasoning, Deya did as he was told, clapping his hands over his ears and pressing as hard as he could. As he did, Avela began to sing. Her song seemed to have a drowsing effect on the creature: he watched, unable to hear, as it stared at her, gnashing and threatening. Then, its gnashing became slower, weaker, and half willed. Suddenly, all three heads dropped, lax, and it collapsed to the ground. Deya uncovered his throbbing ears and stepped forward, hitting all three heads at once. The creatures headless remains exploded into a dark gas that drifted up and disappeared.
He shook his head. “I don’t know what that thing was, and I’m not sure I care to find out, either.” Turning to look back at Avela, he commented, “That song seemed to do pretty well against it. What was it?”
Avela beamed. “Thanks! It was a lullaby that puts anything that hears it to sleep.” She thought for a moment. “If I remember correctly, its origins lie with the Gorons.”
Impressed, Deya nodded and began to look around the room. Now what? He pointed his halberd ahead. “The right is completely collapsed, so even if there’s a door over there, we can’t go that way. We could go straight forward, but I’m interested to see where the left door leads, first. What do you think, Avela?”
She shrugged. “I’m good with that.”
“Let’s take a look, then.”
The next room appeared nearly identical to the first room they had landed in, save its smaller size. They stood on a ledge some distance off the ground and stared out. A large pillar somehow remained standing in the middle, and there were a few surfaces that ran the length of the room that Deya couldn’t identify.
Avela pointed down. “Hey, what are those? They’re blue, and they’re shiny.”
Looking below, Deya saw that the ledge wasn’t as high as he originally thought, and decided to hop down to get a better look at what Avela was referring to. The blue, shiny objects appeared to be fragments of some sort of crystal, and they had a slight glow to them. Neat. As he crouched to examine them, Avela fluttered down to his side. Deya picked one of the shards up and looked at it thoughtfully. “This is interesting. It seems similar to the gem I took from one of the ruined robots earlier. A bit heavier. More dense. And glowing.”
The sound of something shifting echoed from across the room, and Deya’s heart stopped. “That doesn’t sound go –” A cataclysmic rumbling suddenly interrupted him as the entire room started to fall apart. Deya looked at the above ledge with terror in his eyes, then looked at Avela, meeting the exact same fear in her. As pieces of the ceiling began to fall nearby, Avela wrapped her wings around her friend, and Deya dropped the crystal and wrapped his arms around her.
The crystal hit the floor, and the shaking suddenly stopped. Unsure of what was happening, the two remained in their embrace for a few moments more.
“Is it over?”
“I think…” Deya whispered, afraid of what would happen if he was wrong. They slowly released each other and looked up to see several pieces of debris hanging in mid-air, as though suspended by some strange, invisible hand. Deya stared at them, at his friend, and at the dropped crystal. He carefully picked it back up and put it in a pocket. “I don’t know what just happened. But I think I’ll think this with me.”
Avela stared at him in shock before giving him a nervous nod. “Let’s get out of here.” She boosted him back up to the ledge before fluttering up to it herself; the two promptly left the room, not wanting to be in it if things began collapsing again. Deya shook his head and began heading towards the last door as Avela silently followed.
The duo stepped into the last room they had found to still be accessible and cautiously began looking around. They had no time to take in any details, however, as they were suddenly knocked down by a pair of saurian-like creatures that Deya processed immediately as Lizalfos. The creatures hissed at them while more began to dart into the room. Deya and Avela stared in fear at the scaly beings swarming and glaring viciously down upon them. Their fear quickly turned to surprised, however, as the creatures began to collapse, one by one in rapid succession, shot in the back by arrows. As they watched in terror and confusion, a lone figure sprinted around the room, shooting each Lizalfos that had been poised to attack the fallen duo. A moment later, the last fell in a burst of dark gas.
Shaking, Deya found his legs still in a solid state and stood. When he realized they would support him, he helped Avela up and brushed himself off. “Thank you. I –” Deya stopped short catching sight of who had rescued them.
Holding a Falcon Bow, the man pulled back the hood of his very uniquely patterned black cloak, and Deya got his first true look at the face of the man he had been trying to find. He braced himself, alert and unsure. “You!”
The man bowed. “Greetings,” the man’s deep voice rumbled off the walls, “Since you’re so keen on following me, and I do not believe you will give up, perhaps I should end this now and introduce myself. My name is Ganondorf Dragmire.” He looked back up at the open-mouthed pair. “Now that our meeting is under my terms, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Deya waved to Avela as she flew out of the pit that they had entered the ruins from. She would find the silver Rito who had been delivering messages to Princess Zelda and come right back afterwards. She had to. After all, this was far too important to wait on. Besides, Deya wanted to stay here a little longer and study what he had found and the rooms they had missed. Perhaps this…Ganondorf…could help.
He watched a little longer until her silhouette disappeared from sight, and then turned back to the man.
“She’s not going to like what you tell her,” Ganondorf said, shaking his head.
“The princess?” Deya didn’t understand. “She’s been trying to find you. To thank you.”
The Gerudo shook his head, his long, wild mane shifting with the movement. “I do believe you will be proven wrong soon enough.”
Featured image by MaskedGolem.