Posted on December 19 2020 by Alison Brunyee
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“Ready to go?” Yasei said, her question sounding suspiciously like a threat.
It had taken two days to complete my orders. The thought of Ms Mila without a mask for the ball had been intolerable. What Happy Mask Salesman would I be to abandon my customers at such a vital time? By the end of the second day, however, Yasei’s patience had grown very thin and I did not want to push my luck asking for a third.
“But what if Akisin does come back? She will not know where I am!”
“You left the letter, didn’t you? Which is more than she ever did.”
I crossed my arms and frowned. “It is just…I have this feeling.”
“Ronri, will you stop fussing and farting around?” She slammed up the latch at the back of the wagon bed. “I knew we should have gone straight away. You always get like this when you stew over things. Go and sit at the front.”
Dismissed, I plodded off and studied the bold Hylian script printed on the cream canvas body of the wagon. ‘Trading Dragon’ it said with a mythical red beast breathing impressive flames.
Dragon would be right, I smirked. She has always had a fiery temper.
Upon climbing in, Kilton could be found curled up on the footrest, one beady blue eye still open, watchful. He grumbled as I tried to shift him over with my foot.
“Now, now, we are going to be travelling companions you and I. We should make an effort to get along. I cannot be expected to bribe you with biscuits forever, can I?”
The husky considered me for a moment and then jumped into the back. I twisted around, watching him paw at one of the larger grey sacks before he plonked himself down. Amongst the curious cargo were wine barrels, boxes, a family portrait, bomb bags, hibiscus flowers and rolls of assorted material. My travel pack was secured in one corner along with a small collection of masks I had brought along to sell.
With the familiar loud crowing of a cockerel that I could never see, morning announced itself. In the distance, streaks of tangerine and iris framed the rising sun. I was excited, elated even, at the prospect of travelling on the open road, stopping off in far-flung places and bartering with the locals. So why did it feel like a brick sat at the bottom of my stomach?
Is this really the right thing to do? I raked both hands through my hair.
“It’ll be fine, Ronri.” The wagon sank a little as Yasei took the driver’s seat. She smiled, taking hold of the reins with ease. “I’m really happy that we finally get to see Hyrule together.”
“Yes,” I said, my hands scrambling for the map as I spread it out between us. “So, where are we going?”
“Lake Hylia, I need to get to Dr. Mizumi’s lab by this evening. He always orders things that spoil so quickly. I mean, who in their right mind wants to eat the eyes of an Eyeball Frog? Oh, that reminds me, honey candy?”
I added yet another of the sickly sweets to the growing collection in my pocket. Our destination was due south but the route took us westward to begin with. We would pass Kakariko Village, the Zora River and swing close to The Lost Woods that bordered with Kokiri Forest. In a way, I was relieved that our journey would avoid the eastern plains. Unwanted memories kept knocking on my brain as it was, trying to sneak in at an unguarded moment. Seeing that valley again would start my nightmares anew and I was already exhausted from them.
Yasei cracked her whip and the wagon lurched forward. “If you see a rabbit give me a shout, otherwise we’ll have to take our chances at the Fishing Pond.”
“Well, you can eat bread, cheese and ham for the next few days if you want to. Not like there’s a food market around here, but there is plenty of fresh game if you keep an eye out.”
“Of course.” I laughed sheepishly. In Kawaranai it had been second nature to pick berries and drink from streams, but ultimately, Father had provided for me. Life in Castle Town had made me forget about being self-sufficient and living off the land. I was missing an important skillset and had never realized until now. “Perhaps you could teach me how to fish?”
She grinned at that. “Can be tricky, have you even held a fishing rod before? You know the lure goes in the water, right?”
“Very funny. You taught me how to use a slingshot. How hard can it be?”
My friend hummed with a non-committal air. “They’re a little bit different, Ronri. It even took me a while to get the hang of it.” Upon seeing my shoulders slump, however, she relented. “Alright, I guess we could try and if not, the Fisherman at the pond always has good advice.”
My last time on a wagon was when Mr Muryō had first taken me to Castle Town. I had forgotten about the relentless squeaking of the spokes, the jangling chains attached to the yoke and the clip-clop of hooves. Yasei did not seem to mind the constant noise, only concerned when her steed did not travel in a straight line or began to slow down. For the most part, the dirt track was flat and even, which made for a smooth enough ride. We did have the odd pothole to swerve around and when loose stones juddered under the wheels you certainly felt it. Hunched up on the bow, my legs began to cramp and I shifted in my seat. I glared at Kilton running beside us, looking so smug and carefree, wishing that I could be a dog too and join him for a few minutes.
By noon, Yasei took pity on me and we turned sharp left into a secluded ravine near to the Zora River. The surrounding stone walls with a meander of waves and circles suggested that someone must live in the area, but for now, aside from the butterflies and a cucco, we were completely alone. The river’s namesake referred to an aquatic race known as the Zora, although I must confess to having never laid eyes on one. Old Man Shikashi had described silver scales, long tail fins on their heads and webbed feet. Apparently, they could walk on land, loved to dive off cliff tops and worshipped a deity known as Lord Jabu Jabu.
I peered over the water’s edge, looking for fishy shaped shadows, but the current flowed so quickly that it disturbed the silt of the river bed making it hard to see.
“Hey, you hungry?” Yasei called.
At the mention of food, my stomach gave a rather undignified grumble. I spun around to see her waving atop some sort of jagged rock formation. It boggled my mind; how could I reach her? And how had she managed to climb to such a height in a short space of time?
“Find the ladder,” she said simply.
After a little investigation, I found the ladder tucked away round the bend giving access to the higher tiers. A few careful hops across the stepping stones finally brought me to Yasei and Kilton.
“Are you trying to make me work up an appetite?”
“What can I say?” She shrugged. “I like to have lunch with a view.”
I had to admit, the view from my balcony window in Castle Town looked nothing like this. A gigantic waterfall with crisscrossing pathways overgrown with vines. Behind us, far above the river, I could see the electric blue waters winding their way past the magnolia trees before disappearing underground.
“So, do you actually trade with the Zora?”
Yasei’s entire face lit up. “Absolutely, they’re one of my favourite customers. You can always haggle with a Zora; unlike a few other people I know. They make coral earrings which fetch a good price and they can get abalone shell, silver scales, jasper and pearls from the ocean.”
“And what do you give them in return?”
“My contact, Tilo, he loves Deku nuts, can’t get enough of them. Anyway, he sells quite a lot of arrows too but obviously trees don’t grow underwater and he needs iron ore, so that’s where I come in.”
“I suppose a trek to Kokiri Forest or Death Mountain might be one step too far even for them.” She nodded. “Ironic that water dwellers are desperate for resources from the land and vice versa.”
“That my friend, is the beauty of free trade.”
We raised our water bottles in a toast before I hacked the crusty loaf into slices. Yasei carefully unwrapped the goat’s butter and cheese, before shooing Kilton away. The manipulative hound whimpered until his master threw a juicy bone and he left us in peace.
As Yasei took a large bite of her sandwich, she pointed at the waterfall. “I’ve heard a rumour you can get to Zora’s Domain through there. Would make my life easier, trying to do business with messages in bottles is not exactly efficient.”
Squinting against the rising mist, I could not see any tunnels on either side of the waterfall. If anyone tried to leap in directly, surely, they would be swept away by the force of the water? I thought, ignoring Kilton’s pleading whine. He had grown tired of his own meal and now wanted some of mine.
“Perhaps there might be a way to stop it?”
Yasei swung her legs from side to side. “I’ve heard folks call it the Sleepless Waterfall, but then again… there’s a Triforce tile up there and I’m pretty sure I can see an entrance.”
“A Triforce tile?”
“Well, a lot of the races of Hyrule have allegiance to the Royal Family. Maybe it has something to do with that?”
“Maybe,” I agreed. “I might just take a look.”
“Well just be careful, it’s slippery up there.”
“Of course.” Upon standing, I wiped the crumbs from my trousers and headed up the steepest pathway.
As it turned out, the pathway itself was not particularly narrow but Yasei’s warning was well-founded. Despite holding out both arms for balance, I had to jerk, pivot and spin to stop myself from falling. My shoes felt as if they hardly had any grip at all and the sheer drop below did little to help matters either. Still, the waterfall’s roar gradually grew louder and I spotted the tile with three familiar golden triangles embedded in the earth directly opposite the fall.
I reached the inscription, pulling off the moss that covered it. “The flow of this waterfall serves the King of Hyrule. When the King slumbers, so too do these falls.” I read out loud, none the wiser.
Even out here I cannot escape him, I thought. I wonder if it means the waterfall ceases to flow at night?
Sadly, I knew we could not wait until then. This was frustrating, as from this distance I could clearly make out the hidden entrance Yasei had referred to behind the rushing waters. It was certainly an ingenious defence, extremely effective at keeping out unwanted visitors, but what if the Zora needed to get in? Perhaps Dr. Mizumi might know some of the answers. I vowed to introduce myself to the lakeside researcher once we reached Lake Hylia.
With my curiosity satisfied, it was high time I was getting back to Yasei. Except, now I noticed that she was already clambering with impressive speed to meet me. “I can see what you meant about that entrance,” I shouted, but my voice was lost amongst the relentless crash of the waterfall. She tried to mouth something, her arms waving frantically. Kilton was barking, a wild look in his eyes. “Pardon? I cannot hear you.” She pointed again trying to make herself understood. “What in Hyrule is the matter? Tek? Tek, what?”
The ground shook, I fell onto my hands and knees, terrified the pathway was going to collapse. Out the corner of my eye, I could see yellow barbed legs and claws. I turned, coming face to face with one bloody, red eye. There was a flash of blue before something heavy slammed into me and I toppled over the edge.
Featured art: Alison Brunyee via Canva.com
Alison Brunyee is an Original Content Editor for Zelda Dungeon. She likes reading manga and collecting Japanese wind chimes. Her favorite Zelda game is Ocarina of Time. For a bit of escapism during this tough time, check out more fan fiction from her alter writing ego – Otwl. Stay safe x