Posted on July 03 2020 by Bryan King
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Link’s mouth hung agape. He was taken off-guard by the whimsical, albeit rough greeting he had just been delivered by this hulking creature. He was able to get a full view now of this newcomer and despite his supposed cheerful demeanor, he was no less intimidating. His body, wide with a bulbous midsection, was covered in various places by wandering lines of what appeared to be white tattoos, a color that contrasted greatly against the darker brown hue of his skin. His arms and legs were quite muscular and wrapped at the wrists and ankles in tan fabric, but Link wasn’t quite sure if it was for decorative purposes or for additional support or protection. His grip had lessened somewhat on the sword in his hand, but he hadn’t returned it to its sheath just yet.
“Good thing I happened to hear a commotion overhead when I did brother,” the large creature said, one of his large hands rubbing the back of his head. “Those Tektites aren’t too bad when you run into one by its lonesome, but you get one with a bunch of its buddies in tow, and things go south real quick!”
“…Tektites?” Link asked reflexively, not aware that the words had escaped his mouth until after the fact.
“Yeah! Real nasty buggers. I can see why you might not know about ’em. They don’t really come down from this mountain much if at all. Heh! Kinda like us Gorons! Can’t be helped I guess. There’s just something about these crags that just speaks to us,” the creature said, having stepped closer to one of the rock walls and giving it a loving pat.
“I’ve never met a Goron,” Link said, finally returning his sword to the sheath on his back, noticing the look of dismay that this Goron had displayed on his face when looking at it. It made Link feel a bit guilty that he had it at the ready for as long as he did. He knew that it was purely instinctual, a means of protecting himself in a hostile environment, but the feeling he had gotten from this Goron was quite wholesome. A smile had once again crept over his face, a product of gratitude and acceptance if Link had to guess.
“I’m Rukio,” the Goron said as he stepped closer, looked at his hands to ensure they were clean enough, and outstretched it in Link’s direction. Link, no longer hesitant, took Rukio’s hand, or rather, did his best to take it as it was substantially bigger than his own.
“I’m Link,” he said, doing his best to stand as straight as he could to appear as tall as he could be against Rukio, who was a good three to four feet taller than he was. He was thrown off balance as Rukio had begun to shake their connected hands up and down. Link struggled to remain on both feet and began to feel motion sickness. As though he were oblivious to the now dazed state that Link was in, Rukio began to laugh and beat his chest once.
“Now we’re true brothers! This has turned out to be a pretty good day. I got to smash some creepy-crawlies, and I met my new brother Link! Two Cuccos with one stone as they say! By the way, what brings you up the mountain anyway?” Rukio asked after regaining his composure.
Link recounted the events that had brought him to his chance meeting with Rukio and upon completion, the Goron appeared pained.
“That’s… I don’t believe that. How could everyone get turned into rock? And the king… Man, the village elder is gonna be really depressed when he hears about this. They were pretty good friends from what I understand,” Rukio said, his gaze meeting the ground. “Would you mind coming with me to tell him? It’d mean a lot to him and everyone. I don’t know nothin’ about a Great Fairy, but he sure might. I’ll be 113 this year and I’ve never met anyone like that on the mountain.”
Link was shocked to hear Rukio’s age. He knew little of the Gorons, save for the occasional story from Audwin or passing conversations he had overheard between him and Rubeus regarding the favorable state of affairs between the two races. He was a bit disheartened to hear that he had no knowledge of the Great Fairy, but felt it would be a wise course of action to meet with the elder all the same.
“I’d be happy to meet with him,” Link said with a slight nod. “He might also know something about whatever ‘Dragmire’ is.” He took a minute to ensure that none of his belongings had been lost in the fight with the Tektites and proceeded to mount Epona, who by this point was standing by listlessly as though she were openly admitting her apathy toward the conversation that had been transpiring before her.
The three pushed forward up the mountain at a comfortable pace, Rukio doing the lion’s share of talking all the while. Link wasn’t averse to this as he was receiving an education on the Goron race. He learned of how they were born of the mountain itself, their ability to roll themselves up into balls for quick traversal around the mountain, that they were all male in gender, and their love of rocks as a delicacy. It dawned on Link in those moments how little he knew of the world around him. Was he wrong for spending his days in seclusion back home?
“Here we are. Home sweet home,” Rukio said as they approached the entrance to the Goron village. Crudely paved roads, hanging signs, and huts carved from stone adorned the vicinity. Other Gorons of varying sizes all stopped to wave and greet Rukio and his new friend. A group of Goron children were rolling about chasing each other, their higher-pitched laughter serving as an antithesis to the baritone drawl that the adult Gorons were emitting in their passing conversations. One of the children unfurled long enough to look at Link, smile broadly, and curl back up to join his cohorts.
“Isn’t this place great?” Rukio asked as they made their way through the throngs. Link couldn’t help but feel small in this environment. Everyone was so large and boisterous, a far cry from himself or those that he had surrounded him with previously. However, it wasn’t necessarily an unwelcome feeling, as the pervading sense of camaraderie was nothing if not infectious. “There’s my house over there,” Rukio said, pointing one of his large fingers at a hut a little way up the path they were on. “It’s not much, but it suits me just fine. Maybe once you get finished with the elder you can stop by for a quick bite or something before you set off again?”
Link wasn’t exactly keen on introducing rocks to his digestive system, but he felt an obligation to Rukio. Had it not been for the Goron, who knows what kind of fate he would have met at the end of one of the Tektite’s pincers? He agreed that he would indeed stop by and they continued on until they had reached what was easily the most ornate in the village. It measured roughly six times the width and three times the height of any of the others they had encountered thus far and had a tall chimney that was billowing smoke affixed to its top.
“This Elder Garbo’s place,” Rukio said. “He’s really old but he knows a whole buncha’ stuff. He’s sure to be able to help you, brother.”
“I sure hope so,” Link said as he dismounted and they entered the large hut. He was immediately taken aback by the Goron sitting on a large circular stone platform in front of him. Where every other specimen he had encountered was a hulking embodiment of brute strength, this particular Goron was small, shriveled, and worn. Given a quick glance, one would be forgiven for assuming that what they saw before them was nothing but a husk. He sat, eyes closed, his legs crossed, and motionless save for the shallow breaths that stoked the tiny ember of the stick-thin pipe in his mouth. Trinkets carved from stone, various gems, and hanging sashes with intricate symbols stitched along their length littered the room around them, and Link couldn’t help but wonder if these were gifts from the villagers or perhaps trophies of the elder’s previous life.
“Elder Garbo sir,” Rukio said with a bow. “I’ve brought an outsider to speak with you your elder-ness. He’s got really bad news to share about Hyrule Castle.”
There was no response from the old Goron. Link looked to Rukio, curious as to whether-or-not he should speak. Rukio gave him a sideways nod implying that by all means he should go ahead and state his business.
“Great Elder Garbo, I bring news–”
“You can dispense with the pleasantries my boy, my ears do not take well to them. Speak to me as you would this big oaf here,” He said, opening one eye and glancing at Rukio. “Speak to me as you would a friend.”
“I’m sorry Eld– I mean, Garbo.”
“Much better. Now, I believe I already know why you are here.”
“You do?” Link asked.
“My old friend Rubeus has perished, and his subjects have been turned to stone. You seem surprised boy. Don’t be. You see, the mountain is no different from you or I. Like us, it is very much a part of this world, and it hears and knows many things. What transpired back at the castle was the result of wicked magic. Yes, quite wicked indeed. That my boy is a curse, and a real nasty one at that.”
“My grandfather told me of a Great Fairy that lives here on the mountain. Is she real? Can she help?”
“Oh, she’s quite real my boy. Your grandfather wasn’t telling you tall tales. She is very kind and very powerful. Her services could most certainly be used to help lift this stone curse that’s befallen your people.” That news struck a chord within Link, and he knew that he had never felt so relieved in his entire life.
“Is she near? How long will it take to get to her?” Link asked, letting his excitement get the better of him. However, there was a long pause on behalf of the elder that dulled his elation.
“She is indeed here, but I have some bad news for you. A darkness has begun to take hold of the mountain as well. A deep rot has begun to fester within it, and I’m afraid the temple in which she resides has been overtaken.”
“Do you know if she’s okay?” Link asked, desperation lining every syllable. He looked back at Rukio who had been standing behind him, clearly taking in all of this intently.
“I do not know,” Garbo said solemnly. “She is extremely powerful, but this dark force is no slouch either.” He opened both of his eyes wide and stared at Link earnestly. “You still mean to go don’t you?” Link couldn’t deny this. He had already come so far and was ready and willing to do what he could to set things right.
“I do,” he said resolutely. Garbo smiled wide and broke into cackling laughter.
“Yes of course you do! That tunic you wear is a bit more fitting than you realize my boy!”
“What?” Link asked, not sure what the old Goron meant by that.
“Never you mind. It’s not important. Now,” Garbo said as he struggled to get to his feet, his legs wobbling as he stepped off the circular platform, “we need to move this. Rukio, get over here and make yourself useful.” Rukio stepped forward, cracked his knuckles, and proceeded to push the stone with all his might. It moved with a loud, grating screech until at last an entryway was revealed. “Follow the path you find below boy. She’s in the heart of the mountain.”
“Thank you Elder Garb–” A sharp glance from the old Goron stopped Link in mid-sentence. “Thank you Garbo.”
“Don’t thank me yet boy. I don’t know what kind of danger you’re bound to run into down there. Frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t made its way up here yet, but I’ll continue to count my blessings.”
“You plan on going down there alone brother?” Rukio asked Link.
“I have to see if she’s alright Rukio. She’s the only one that can help the people back home.”
“Just wait a few seconds ‘kay!?” Rukio curled in on himself and rolled out of the elder’s hut quickly, nearly crushing Epona in his haste.
“That boy means well and has a good heart, but he can be a bit much at times I’m afraid,” Garbo said as he shook his head and began to move around a bit in an effort to relieve himself of any residual numbness from his legs. A minute later, Rukio returned to the hut, this time carrying what appeared to be a giant stone club. He smacked the end of it in an open palm before hoisting it over his shoulder.
“Me and Evelyn are comin’ too! Let’s go save us a Great Fairy!”
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.