Posted on July 10 2020 by Bryan King
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“You named your club Evelyn?” Link asked as they climbed further down the ladder that led deeper into the mountain.
“Yup,” Rukio said as he led the descent, the lantern attached to Link’s belt reflecting in his beady eyes as he looked up at his new compatriot.
“Why did you do that?”
“Well…” Rukio started before taking a heavy breath. “You’re gonna think it’s stupid.”
“No I won’t.”
“Okay, so you remember when I told you that we Gorons are born from the mountain? Like, we just kind of appear one day? Plopped right from the walls?”
“Well, we’ve heard that you Hylians come about a little differently. We’ve heard that you come from… each other.”
“That’s right,” Link said, hoping that the conversation wouldn’t elevate itself beyond the current degree of awkwardness it already inhabited.
“Well, I think that sounds kinda nice. Especially the one that you guys call ‘mom’ or ‘mama’. Those sound great. All caring, and giving, and nurturing and all that good stuff?” Link had heard stories about his parents from Audwin, and from what he had gathered, Rukio’s assessment rang true. He was told many times that were his mother alive, she would have been immeasurably proud of the young man that Link had grown into. He began to feel melancholic, and it made each step down the ladder rungs heavier. “Anyways, I carved this beauty out of some of the hardest rock the mountain has to offer. And in a way, the mountain is kind of like my mama. And I thought to myself, Rukio, if you had a mama, what would her name be? And for whatever reason, Evelyn just sounded right. So I carry around a little bit of my mama, and she helps keep me safe. Like the ones you guys have.” He paused for several moments. “Told you it was stupid.” Hearing Rukio’s story was enough to lift the sense of gloom that had befallen him.
“It’s not stupid. I like it a lot,” Link said with a smirk.
“Do you have a name for that sword you’re carryin’?”
“Nope. I had made it to offer up as a prize at the castle and that didn’t exactly go as planned.”
“You made that?! That’s some solid craftwork brother!” Link was quite proud of the skills he had developed over the years, and while he maintained a fair degree of humility, he was always overjoyed when his work was recognized.
“Thanks. Maybe when we get all of this sorted out I’ll see about making you something.”
“Really?! That would be awesome!”
“Speaking of, why did you decide to join me in coming down here to find the Great Fairy?”
“Well, what else was I gonna do? Sit around and just let you face whatever’s down here all by yourself? Nope, that’s not what Rukio’s about. I’m all about helping my friends. I’m sure it’ll get rough down here and you’ll definitely need someone like me to watch your back.”
“I appreciate it. Glad to have you along, Rukio.”
The two of them were quick to ready their weapons once they had reached the bottom of the ladder. Link in his off-hand lifted his lantern and led the way down the corridor they had found themselves in. Its light reflected off of the rock walls around them, the shadows of the cracks and crevices diminishing in size as they drew closer. The humid air around them and their brisk pace down the linear corridor had caused Link to begin perspiring a bit. He glanced behind him at Rukio who looked no worse for wear, no doubt a benefit afforded him by his Goron heritage. Environments like these had to be second nature to them, and he was a bit jealous of his large friend’s resilience.
They continued onward remaining in close proximity with one another. If there were to be an ambush, they would meet it head-on in a combined effort.
“Ya know, with all that talk the elder was spouting about a growing darkness and all that, I woulda figured we’d have run into something by now doncha think?” Rukio said in a hushed tone.
“I was beginning to think the same thing,” Link replied. He had wondered why things had been relatively quiet for the most part. Almost as if on cue, a swarm of Keese flew above their heads. Rukio exclaimed in fright behind Link, his club, Evelyn waving frantically in the air above them. Link, having had some experience with the creatures back home during the long, summer nights raised his lantern as high above him as he could. The light had caused the swarm to disperse, a cacophony of piercing screeches filled the air. Link was able to catch glimpses of their leathery wings, veins prominent in the membranes they used to catch air — their snubbed, wrinkled noses appearing more hideous in the flickering light of the lantern.
“Oh man, I hate those things! Good for nothin’ Keese! Just a buncha flying night rats is all they are! They give me the jibblies! Thanks for gettin’ ridda them brother,” Rukio said, taking several deep breaths to calm himself down.
“You going to be okay?”
“Yeah… just… yeah, I’ll be alright.”
Link gave his Goron companion a moment to reacclimate before motioning for them to continue inward. A short distance later, the corridor they had been traversing opened up into a wide cavern. Link moved his lantern about, and caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a sconce on the wall to his left. He lifted the lantern high and used the flame within it to ignite it. To his surprise, the flame siphoned away from the center of the sconce and proceeded to travel away from it, lighting a sequence of similar sconces along the cavern’s perimeter. In no time at all the cavern was lit more than adequately, much to the delight of the two companions.
“Oh, man, that is so much better ain’t it?” Rukio said, giving Link a light pat on the shoulder as he passed him. “Felt like we were walkin’ around in the dark for forever.” Link nodded in agreement before turning his gaze at the center of the area. In the middle of the cavern was a massive hole. He thought this strangely fitting as the cavern itself appeared to be circular in nature. He stepped closer to examine it, leaning forward over its edge and gazing downward. He found nothing but endless darkness within it, a fact that brought about a great sense of uneasiness within him.
“Think somthin’ lives down there?” Rukio said as he joined Link at the edge.
“I really hope not,” Link said, his gaze persisting as he moved away.
“Hey! Look over there!” Link looked across the chasm to what Rukio was pointing at. On the far end of the cavern, a staircase, looking to be hewn from some manner of turquoise-colored stone led upward to a destination that was obscured by natural stone mouth. “I bet that goes somewhere real important,” Rukio continued as be began to move along the circumference of the hole.
Link in silent agreement began to follow but was given pause as he began to hear a faint scratching that seemed to be coming from within the walls of the cavern itself. Bringing his sword and shield to bear, Link took a reactive stance. Rukio having noticed the sound as well had Evelyn laid on his shoulder, prepared to bring an earth-shattering impact to whatever might approach.
The scratching, that was now audible throughout the entire cavern, began to become louder and with greater frequency. Upon reaching a fever pitch, the walls began to crumble away, and groups of what appeared to be shambling, skeletal warriors stepped forward emanating guttural screams.
“Stalfos…” Link said under his breath.
“You know what these things are?!” Rukio said, extending his right leg a bit further ahead of himself in a defensive stance.
“My grandfather used to tell me stories. I always thought he was just having fun telling me scary stories, but there was something about his stories about Stalfos that seemed different somehow. As though he wasn’t making them up. They’re supposed to be the remains of soldiers, bandits, you name it. The hate that they took to the grave kept them from moving on.”
“They might not have moved on, but they’re definitely moving this way, brother! Get ready!”
Both Link and Rukio charged forward, feeling that the farther they were from the immense chasm the better. They met their assailants head-on, the sound of swords clashing and thunderous booms from Rukio’s club quickly drowned out by the mass of Stalfos encroaching on their position. Link, parrying blows with his shield was doing his best to dismember the Stalfos, striking at whatever exposed point he had available to him. Several times he winced as he was struck along the back, the chain mail he wore keeping him from harm. He knew that it was only a matter of time before it gave way, and he began to look frantically for a way out of their current predicament. He glanced quickly at Rukio, who had been swinging Evelyn horizontally in front of him, bashing swarths of Stalfos sideways, many breaking into pieces from the impact. Stalfos behind Rukio had begun to climb along his back, having given up on their attempts to pierce its rock hard exterior. Changing tactics, they proceeded to grab at his face and did their best to stab him in his much softer head. Stumbling backward, Rukio reached up with his free hand and began throwing off the Stalfos that were hanging on to him. Link noticed that he had gotten dangerously close to the chasm.
Standing firm, Link planted his feet and spun his body around with his sword extended. This technique eliminated the Stalfos in his immediate vicinity, allowing him to get weave through the horde in the direction of his friend. Rukio had continued to struggle and move backward. He looked up to see Link moving in his direction furiously.
“Link! You need to get out of here, brother! This ain’t gonna end well for me! You need to find the fairy and save those people!”
“You’re going to be fine Rukio! I’m not going to let anything happen to you! Try to push forward!”
Rukio smiled, knowing that there was no chance he’d be able to push against the throng of Stalfos. He felt the ground disappear beneath his heels and began to teeter backward. Link having finally caught up to his friend grabbed hold of his hand and did his best to pull him back onto solid ground. The act proved futile as several Stalfos rammed into his back propelling him forward. Both he and Rukio fell over the edge — devoured by the darkness of the chasm below.