Posted on June 26 2020 by Bryan King
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There was an immeasurable level of grief that welled within Link as he closed the door to the royal tomb behind him. He had spent the better part of the remaining afternoon moving the body of his departed friend to be with his ancestors, a wing of the castle that took him by surprise with its display of grandeur. Statues adorned the periphery of the large, underground room, no doubt carved in the likeness of the kings the preceded him. There was something greatly unsettling about them as he passed, and he suspected that was due in large part to the affliction that had stricken the castle, their macabre nature intensified.
He had been fortunate to have never witnessed the fall of a monarch, but he suspected that there was a significance to such an event, warranting a degree of pomp and circumstance that would bring a kingdom together in mourning and reflection. There was none of that here. He had laid Rubeus on a dais within the crypt, no doubt used to make necessary preservations to a body before having it committed to its final resting place. He did his best to position his body in a respectful manner, taking cues from seeing his Grandfather Audwin’s body laid out before his burial, crossing his arms over his chest with a sword held loosely within his limp grip. He gave one last look at the body before departing, hoping that it would stay untouched before he had a chance to either discover the source of the stone sickness or found someone able to help him with the final stages of laying his majesty to rest.
Closing the door to the tomb behind him, he gave himself a moment to breathe — to decompress. He leaned against the wall nearest the door and slowly slid downward against it, closing his eyes and taking slow, deep breaths. As he sat on the floor, he began to think about his next course of action. He knew that Zelda was nowhere to be found, or at least, he hadn’t discovered a statue that bore a resemblance to her in the time he had spent in the castle. And he couldn’t shake the King’s final word out of his mind.
“Dragmire,” Link said under his breath, feeling a slight chill sweep over his body. The very word felt ominous and unsettled him. He had never heard of a place within Hyrule that went by that name, granted he hadn’t journeyed far beyond his home in the woods or the castle town itself. Perhaps it was a person? That seemed more likely given the circumstances that Link had found himself in. Regardless of what it was, he knew that it was a name he wouldn’t soon forget.
His attention then turned to the other matter at hand, the spell that had turned the people of Hyrule Castle and the surrounding town into stone. He was making assumptions that it was a spell of course, not knowing much in the ways of magic, insomuch that it exists. Audwin had told him tales when he was much younger of his experience with the mysterious force and filled the boy’s head with visions of those that could conjure fire at will, jump higher than they thought physically possible, and even turn into faeries. He wasn’t sure how the last example would help him now, but-
He opened his eyes and bolted upright. That was it — the Great Fairy! His grandfather had told him stories of a Great Fairy that lived near the summit of Death Mountain, the looming prominence to the north. She was supposed to be a being of incredible power and understanding. If there were anyone that could help Link now, it would be her. Even if she ended up being nothing more than a fable, it was a start.
He stood, feeling a welcome sense of determination fill him. He knew that the journey to the Great Fairy would be trying, and there was no telling what manner of creature he would encounter. He appreciated having the sword he had crafted but felt that he would need something that could deliver some manner of protection as well. He made his way to the barracks, hopeful that the armory might have something akin to what he was looking for. He had some degree of luck, as he had managed to find a suit of chainmail that fit somewhat comfortably underneath his tunic, a wooden bow with a quiver full of arrows, and a shield. Adorned with the Hylian crest: the golden Triforce held aloft by a crimson bird, it appeared ornamental but was in fact quite heavy and resilient. These shields, a fixture of the royal knights were a symbol of the enduring love that the Goddess Hylia’s people had for her. After several moments of adjusting the leather strap across his chest to accommodate the added strain of the shield, he began to make his way back toward the castle town gates.
It was no less of a shock to Link as he made his way back through the town. The eerie silence was no less deafening as he moved in and out of the petrified crowds. He looked skyward to get an inclination as to how much of the day he had remaining to begin his travel northward when he noticed what appeared to be a large bird flying in that very direction. It was a bit difficult to make out, but he could have sworn that it was an owl. That was peculiar he thought, as it was common knowledge that owls were nocturnal birds, and spent their days in secluded slumber. He watched it a few more seconds as it became smaller against the skyline before resuming his exit.
Upon reaching the castle gate, Link was met with what was clearly a very agitated Epona. He had completely forgotten about her in the midst of everything that had happened, and if her snorts and angry pawing at the ground were any indications, she wasn’t about to let him off the hook for it anytime soon. He ran his hand along the length of her muzzle, his other hand retrieving a carrot from a side pouch that he had stored food in for their journey. Bringing it to eye level with her, she immediately raised her head to begin gnawing at it.
“We have to go to Death Mountain, Epona,” Link said as he hoisted himself onto the saddle. “I hope that there’s someone there that can help these people get back to normal. If not…” he trailed off, choosing not to let himself finish his thought before bringing Epona into a gallop.
By the time they had reached the base of Death Mountain’s trail, the sun had begun to set low. There was enough light to fashion a campfire, and enjoy a meal before falling asleep for the night. The wilds were a comfort to Link, having spent his life surrounded by them, and he felt it a much better course of action to rest and wait for fresh daylight before tackling the crags of Death Mountain and all of their uncertainties. Epona, having had her fill of carrots and apples, was laying on her side and emitting rather boisterous snores. Link patted her mane one more time before laying down, his weapons close to him on the ground in the event that he would need them. The survival instincts that he had honed from the forests back home would serve him well here he thought, and he knew that if there were any instances of immediate danger, his body would react accordingly.
The night proved to be uneventful, and both of the traveling companions were roused from their slumber by the sound of a flock of birds overhead calling out amongst themselves. Epona rolled to her feet and stood upright before giving her head a quick shake in an effort to remove any residual sleepiness she may have. Link took several moments to perform a similar ritual and then proceeded to squelch any residual embers from the campfire and treat he and Epona to food and water from their stores.
Having hoisted his sword and shield onto his back again, the bow and quiver affixed to Epona’s side, he climbed aboard the saddle and they began to make their way up the mountain trail. This was a foreign environment to Link, the rock walls towering above them as they pushed forward, Epona’s gait cautious. He couldn’t help but notice an abundance of crevices that he was certain housed all manner of creature that could mean them ill will. Every irregular sound caused him to flinch reflexively, his hand grasping the hilt of the sword on his back. He had no sooner convinced himself that he was simply jumping at shadows than a large shape fell quickly in front of them causing Epona to rear backward abruptly throwing Link from the saddle. Getting to his feet, he drew his sword and shield and ran forward to meet their adversary. A four-legged blue insectoid creature was there to greet him, each leg barbed along its length and poised to pounce as its single eye watched Link eagerly. Epona backed away, neighing in terror as she turned to run. She was impeded, as several more of the creatures landed before her. Link, not taking his eyes off of the one he was facing off with, feigned a dive to the right causing the monster to jump in that direction. Using the feint to his advantage, he cleaved one of its legs off in mid-air and delivered a downward killing blow when it had reached the ground, its vicious-looking pincers moving frantically before ceasing, its singular eye rolling upward.
He turned back to Epona and counted another three of the creatures, two of which were red in color but no less sinister looking. He ran forward, unwavering in his commitment to see no harm come to her. The creatures began to skitter about, and gained distance from one another making it difficult for Link to maintain cognizance on all of them. He chose to focus on the one on his left, as it was the one he was in closest proximity to. There was no hesitation on its part, and it leapt at Link as he drew closer. He dodged to the opposite side, but wasn’t able to see one of the creatures outside of his peripheral vision, and he was knocked to the opposite side and crashed into the rock wall. He was able to raise his shield quickly to block the thrusting legs and pincers from his assailant. His mind began to work frantically, doing what it could to determine the best course of action out of this situation, knowing full well that the other two were no doubt closing in on him as well. He was able to see movements from Epona through openings between the shield and the creature’s body, and it gave him some sense of relief that for the time being at least she was unharmed. He had begun to make peace with this being his last stand when a large, spherical object landed near him with a thunderous crack. He had felt the impact reverberate up his spine, and felt the creature ease up off of him a bit in surprise. It was the break that Link was looking for, and he kicked the monster away from him before grabbing his sword and stabbing it through its eye.
He turned his attention toward the source of the disturbance and watched as it unfurled itself into something else entirely. Stout in stature, this newcomer appeared to be quite round in the midsection and was covered in rock-like protrusions that covered the entirety of its back. A small patch of light-brown hair parted down the middle sat on the top of its head, and two massive arms extended outward. It moved forward, making little work of the two remaining creatures that leapt at him, battering one sideways against the rock wall, leaving it clearly dazed. There was a moment of hesitation on Link’s behalf as he was digesting the events transpiring around him, but he quickly came to and finished it as he had the previous three. He looked up in time to see the large being crush the remaining creature with an overhead smash using both of his hands. It looked downward at them, and sloughed off the green blood that Link had noticed his sword was now coated with. He gave it a vigorous swing to remove any excess that he could but did not return it to its sheath. It turned to look at Link, its beady eyes belying its intimidating stature.
“Hey there, brother!” it said, as a wide smile broke upon its face.
Bryan King is an editor for Zelda Dungeon. He loves writing about everyone’s favorite green-clad elfin boy, and thinks Zelda II doesn’t get the love it so rightly deserves.