“Do you feel it, my child? Do you feel the aura of the task you are meant to fulfill?”
Navi did. She couldn’t explain the sensation, but she tried to in her mind anyway. It was warm, that was certain, but it wasn’t the kind of warmth one would expect to find to obtain from a flame or from Din’s Eye. No, this warmth was obtained by a fire from within, a kind of emotion that she couldn’t quite figure out. The sensation also seemed to move. It crawled…no, slithered throughout her body, but at the same time it enveloped her passively. The feeling could’ve almost been described as a heart that lived and breathed, and even then the description fell short of what it really was like.
“I feel its aura,” Navi managed to utter through the blissfulness she was experiencing, “yet I am unable to discover its purpose. What is its purpose?”
“I cannot tell you, for not even I know the answer. All I know is that it has to do with the one you call Link, the boy of destiny, and the task you hold is vital to him and to all that follows. His thread of fate is so strong that no one can interfere directly with his destiny. All we can do is influence it and pray it heads in the right direction. You, Navi, have the responsibility of taking this task to young Link. Do you understand this, young one?”
“I do,” Navi answered in her rapture. “But I am confused. Why am I the one who is charged with this task? I am not fit to even be his guardian fairy, so why…?”
“You torture yourself needlessly, child. The mistakes you have made are commonplace and shouldn’t be seen as unique to you. You mustn’t bring yourself down, especially when you’re crucial to the child of destiny’s fate. And although I myself cannot influence young Link’s threat of destiny, you, young Navi, shall do so well beyond this task you are blessed with.”
Even in her blissful state Navi couldn’t help but wonder whether the words of the Faria Garuia were true or not. The Faria Garuia wouldn’t lie to her…then again, Navi had never met or even known about her until this day. So there was a possibility this Faria had her own agenda and was only using Navi as a tool. But on the other hand, Navi couldn’t deny her obvious knowledge and her overwhelming sense of kindness.
“When can I see Link again?” Navi asked, still enwrapped in the blissfulness of the aura.
“Soon, my child. You shall meet him soon. Just remember this: no matter where you are or what you are doing, you will always be near him and never far away. Even now, he thinks of you, wondering where you are. You may not be there physically, but you are with him in spirit, and sometimes that is more than enough. Although he won’t admit it, he loves you and won’t ever forget about you. When you two find each other once more you will never leave his side again.”
Despite her slight doubts, Navi couldn’t help but believe the Faria Garuia’s words.
“I’m coming, Link. I’m coming…”
The day dawned brightly, but the sense of warmth was all but lost for Link as he headed down the slope of Death Mountain. Big Brother Darunia was in front of him, leading the Kokiri down a supposed “path” that the Gorons took to get to the mine. Link had some difficultly maneuvering the rocks and crags he encountered, but Darunia walked as if he were on solid ground.
Behind them several Gorons, including Malatite, were following the pair closely. After Link’s proposal to rid the mine of Dodongos, the word had spread throughout Goron City like wildfire. Many dismissed the rumor as a boast by someone only after the Sacred Stone, while others believed the King’s message had been answered. A lot of Gorons has remained behind in the city, most not because of skepticism but because of weakness due to hunger. The few that managed to make it consisted either of believers or cynics, although a few were actually just curious onlookers.
As Link and Darunia walked down the mountain together, alone and out of earshot from the rest of the Gorons, Darunia proceeded to explain a few necessary things, the first being the Dodongos. As Link listened intently, he continued to wonder why he had agreed to this task in the first place.
As Darunia explained, the Dodongos were a race of enormous lizard-like creatures that thrived on flesh, no matter what kind of flesh it was. During the early years of the Gorons’ migration to Death Mountain, Dodongos had threatened the Goron race’s chances of living on the mighty crag. Luckily, however, several Gorons now known as the Almighty Five had managed to drive the Dodongos away from the mountain and help the Gorons create a society upon a dangerous territory. Thanks to the Almighty Five, the Dodongos eventually died out, allowing the Gorons to prosper for countless generations.
Then the Dodongos returned.
No one knew how they had returned, but everyone felt the immediate effect of their presence. The Dodongos had holed themselves within the Gorons’ food mine, forcing the miners to abandon the mine to the terrible lizards. Then, to make matters worse, an massive boulder appeared mysteriously at the mine’s only entrance, sealing it completely. Because of this, the Gorons couldn’t get inside the mine and drive the Dodongos off by themselves, and as hunger and weakness began to spread, the chances of fighting the Dodongos grew slimmer and slimmer.
The Dodongos themselves could thrive in areas with low amounts of air, so the blocking of the cave had virtually no effect on them. Gorons that listened through the small cracks in the boulder could hear distant rumbles that eventually grew louder and louder, indicating the Dodongos were multiplying. Darunia had finally been forced to send a messenger to his Sword Brother, the King of Hyrule for help, but neither word nor sign of the messenger had returned.
“And now I’ve going to get rid of these things,” Link gulped. He remembered his fight with Gohma and how close he came to being killed. And now he was about to face an entire hoard of beasts that could just as easily put an end to him. He wondered if it was too late to back out…
Before he could further consider the option, a giant hand slapped Link’s shoulder and the Kokiri looked behind to find Malatite. The Goron smiled weakly before uttering, “I’ll pray to the Three Goddesses for your safety, Link. But I’d also like to thank you for helping us. You have to be pretty brave to face Dodongos. Even their larvae are dangerous. So you must be pretty brave, indeed.”
“Or pretty stupid,” Link thought as he smiled back an even weaker smile. “We’ll soon find out, won’t we? It’ll all depend upon whether or not I’m dead.”
Turning away from Malatite, Link looked up to the sky, hoping Navi would appear from somewhere to help him. But all he saw was Kaepora Gaebora, who was following the small procession down the mountain quietly yet watchfully. The Owl hadn’t said a word to Link since yesterday, when the bird had nearly dropped dead after the Kokiri had told him his idea to rid the mine of the Dodongos. Link didn’t know if the Owl’s silence was because of frustration over Link’s rash decision or quiet worry over Link’ safety, but he did know that he was going to need a lot of luck to make it out of this predicament.
Gohma had been an army of one. Link, with Navi, had been an army of two. Now he was an army of one. Dodongos were an army. Period.
Just then, Darunia stopped and held out an arm to halt Link as well. The Kokiri stopped and looked ahead, wondering why they had halted. He immediately saw why. The mountain’s steep side had leveled off and created a plateau that stretched into an area large enough to hold Link’s tree house and then some. But the table wasn’t completely empty. On one side, lying against a vertical cliff face that climbed several feel up the Mountain, was an enormous boulder partially edged within the cliff’s surface, indicating it was blocking a cave behind it.
Darunia remained silent for a moment before saying, “There, Link, is where the blocked mine is. Inside that cave is where you’ll find the Dodongos.”
“But how am I going to get in there?” Link thought, not necessarily with puzzlement but with hope. If the cave was still blocked, then there might be a chance he wouldn’t have to go through with his crazy scheme. Even so, he still asked the question, “So how are you going to unblock it?”
“With the simplest of all methods: the Bomb Flower.”
Link didn’t like Darunia’s answer. The Goron’s tone suggested he was too sure of himself, which killed any chance Link might’ve had. Still, he tried to sound interested by asking, “Bomb Flower? What’s a Bomb Flower?”
Darunia gave Link a wide, sly smile before bellowing, “Rutanen, bring the Bomb Flower!”
Moments later, a Goron stepped from the crowd of followers and headed for Big Brother and the Kokiri. His stance and walk made Link realize he was being extremely careful for some reason. In the Goron’s hands was a large and black mass with a tuft of green shoots growing from its crown. It bulged like a perfectly round cloud and a long, thin shoot dangled from its base.
The Goron stopped a few steps from Darunia before extending the strange object out with his arms towards Big Brother. Darunia nodded once and again turned to Link. “This, Link, is a Bomb Flower. It’s a special type of shoot only found on Death Mountain, and it’s extremely dangerous if not handled properly. You see, its bulky core is filled with its seeds, and these seeds are what give it its name. In the early stages of a Bomb Flower’s lifecycle, they can emit a burst of energy if disturbed by something hot. One seed alone is enough to kill a grown Goron when used incorrectly. Imagine what happens when every seed inside this bulky mass explodes at the same time.”
Link listened, but he couldn’t help feel doubtful. He had lived in the Lost Woods and had come across virtually every type of plant imaginable, and never had he seen something that could “explode.” He then wondered whether Princess Zelda’s private garden carried this plant somewhere…or was it really that dangerous…?
“And this shoot,” Darunia continued, interrupting Link’s thought. The Goron then proceeded to carefully pick up the dangling shoot on the Bomb Flower in his hand. “This is the shoot’s fuse. Its surface is covered with dust that can easily ignite. I’m sure you’ve seen fire started by friction. This shoot is so grainy that a single careless stroke will cause the grain to burn. When it reached the pouch with the seeds, you had better be somewhere else.”
Link still felt a little skeptical about this Bomb Flower’s destructive power, particularly because of a nagging question in his mind.
“But if this thing can actually destroy that boulder, why didn’t you destroy it before the Dodongos multiplied so much?”
Darunia dropped the shoot and looked at Link with a grim face. “We couldn’t. You see, this year we’ve had a poor harvest of Bomb Flowers, and we use these things to construct new homes, prevent avalanches, and all that sort of thing. These things have become a precious resource this year, and we couldn’t spare a single one to open the cave. By the time we managed to spare this one, we were already too weak to fight them.”
“Confound it! Good excuse!” Link thought. It appeared there was no way he was going to get out of this one…unless the Bomb Flower didn’t actually work like Darunia said it would.
As if in challenge to Link’s silent hope, Darunia turned to the Goron called Rutanen and said, “Place the Bomb Flower in the right place and light the fuse. The sun’s getting warmer and I don’t want the flower to ignite suddenly.”
Rutanen nodded and headed for the boulder. As everyone watched, the Goron gently placed the Bomb Flower next to the boulder, underneath a large crack in the rock’s surface. Rutanen then picked up the shoot, extended it out, and began to caress the shoot’s end with his fat fingers. Almost immediately the shoot’s extremity began to glow, but the glow was in no way magical. It was instead resembled a colossal blaze compressed into a single point, a blaze that somehow desired returning to its original, massive size.
Link suddenly realized that that was exactly what was about to happen!
He had no time to dawn on the realization when the spark on the shoot reached the large bulk of the Bomb Flower. Instinct forced Link to look away from the plant, and a split second later a loud crash echoed across Death Mountain. It sounded like thunder that had been concentrated on a single spot, yet this thunder also possessed a lightening as well. Link had closed his eyes before turning away, but even in the daylight and looking away he could see the bright flash that resulted from the explosion. The shockwave came moments later. Link almost lost his balance and fell back, but Darunia, who didn’t seem to be affected by the blast, caught him in his powerful arm.
All this happened in a short period of time, and when he believed it was finished Link removed himself from Darunia’s care and opened his eyes. He expected to see the boulder all bruised and battered by the explosion, but instead he saw absolutely nothing remaining of the giant rock. The blast had destroyed it completely, leaving nothing save a few small pebbles slumbering on the ground and millions of sand particles dancing in the air. He didn’t want to believe it, but now he was forced to.
“Well done, Rutanen,” Darunia abruptly blurted out to the Goron standing next to Link. The Kokiri realized he hadn’t noticed Rutanen leaving the Bomb Flower after igniting it; he must have been concentrating solely on the Bomb Flower.
Now that the boulder was gone, the mine gaped openly before them. It reminded Link somewhat of the hole he had fallen down inside the Great Deku Tree, only this time he would be entering it under his own free will. He noticed several thin, long rock growths hanging from the cave’s upper lip and complained silently at why the cave’s mouth had to look like a ravenous mouth.
“Maybe it’s a sign,” he thought gloomily. “Maybe I’ll find the real mouth inside, attached to a Dodongo’s face…”
“Well, Link,” Darunia bellowed with a smile, forcing Link to turn to him. “The cave is open. I give you my best wishes and my prayers for your safety…but I will also give you something a little more substantial.”
The Goron then reached out with one of his enormous fists and opened it towards Link. In it was something that resembled several items Link had seen back at Market Square in Hyrule Castle New City. Malon had called jewelry, he believed. Kokiri had things that resembled “jewelry” as well, but nothing this extravagant or burnished. The bracelet in Darunia’s hand was no exception.
Compared to the jewelry Link had seen, this one was surprisingly simple: a long piece of a shiny, gold-colored metal wrapped around in a band to create a bangle to wear upon one’s wrist. However, the bracelet had still been shaped and molded, in this case into a sort of crown with three spines. And while most of the bracelet was gold-colored, a green-blue pattern of a diamond eye with three triangular lashes had been etched into it.
“What’s this?” Link asked as he slowly reached and took the bracelet from Darunia’s hand. “A Dodongo-slaying charm?” “Please…please…”
“No, it would be nice if it were,” Big Brother answered with a solemn look. “That bracelet was used by Hylians long ago when Hylians still knew of the existence of Gorons. They used that bracelet to help mine Bomb Flowers, for not even the strongest human can pick a Bomb Flower. I’m giving it to you because Bomb Flowers have been known to exist in the mine. If you need to use one to, say, unblock a cave-in or something, then you’ll need this to pluck it. But be careful. Pulling a Bomb Flower from its roots carelessly could ignite the fuse.”
Link nodded and quietly slipped the bracelet onto his left arm. At first he thought it was too big for his small arm, but the bracelet surprised him. As he slipped it over his wrist, the metal band tightened to a comfortable fit. It was as if the piece of jewelry had been made especially for him…or it had adjusted itself to fit on his arm.
Either way, Link dawdled on the bracelet for only a moment. Feeling a little more confident than he had been moments before, Link drew his sword and readied his shield in case any Dodongos might jump him when he entered. The Gorons saw this as a sign of absolute coolness and cheered for Link. Their cheer boosted his poise, but he still liked to think realistically and didn’t let it go to his head.
As he took a step towards the cave, he looked up and noticed Kaepora Gaebora perched on a dangling branch above the mine. “Are you going to follow me inside?” Link asked. “I could surely use your help…”
“I’m sorry,” the Owl answered grimly, “but won’t be much use in such small and tight spaces like a mine. I’ll only get in the way. All I can do is pray that the Three Goddesses will watch over you.”
“That’s pretty much what everyone is doing, isn’t it?” Link complained as he took a deep breath, straightened his posture and entered the cave. The darkness was immediate, but it took a while before his confidence began to sink once more. “Navi, where are you?”
It was open. He could feel it. The entrance to the cave had somehow been opened.
At first he felt pleasure, pleasure that his plans could finally take shape. He had waited for this moment ever since his children had returned to him, waited for seemingly endless days for this single moment. Now his children would return to the world of light, return to their former home, return to where they had been banished.
But then he felt something else: confusion. Who had opened the entrance? Not even a full-grown of his children could’ve moved the great stone that had blocked the entrance, so it had to have been something from the outside. Could it have been the Stone Eaters? The ones who had banished them from their ancestral home eons ago? Who else could command the Great Mountain to perform such a task?
But why would they do such a thing? Why remove the great rock? What was their purpose? He knew they loved to eat the stones found within the once-blocked cave, but by now they were weak from hunger and exhaustion. So open the cave now?
He didn’t know the answers, but he would find out. He and his children had been given a second chance to reclaim the Great Mountain and he wouldn’t allow the Stone Eaters to banish them once more.
The dark, winding tunnel was a lot wider than the tunnel in Darunia’s room, but it was just as murky. Darkness had no shades, it seemed. It was either pitch black or it wasn’t. Any sort of light source meant it was never complete darkness. Absence of all sources of light gave way to true nightfall. There was no way to compare any “brightened” darkness to true night, and Link had learned that in his few experiences with darkness.
“Wonder how Gorons are supposed to see in this darkness? They probably have night vision or something, because I certainly can’t find my way through here without feeling the walls. Or maybe they know the caves so well they don’t need night vision. But then how do they find the rocks they need…?”
Link then remembered Navi’s comment about loners talking to themselves, immediately shut up, and wished more than ever that the fairy were with him right now.
The walls along the tunnel were rough and uneven, and juts of rock projected from the wall and floor every so often, making it difficult for Link to keep in touch with the tunnel’s edge. Along with the fact that the corridor twisted and turned more often than a Kokiri who had drunk more blackberry juice than he could handle, the passageway was a maze that had only one possible path.
Then, after what seemed like an eternity of wandering down the one-hall labyrinth, it abruptly ended. Like Darunia’s room, the tunnel finished off at a larger, brightly lit cavern. The brightness in this room wasn’t as bright as Darunia’s room, but it still gave off enough light to make it as illuminated as a near-complete dusk.
Link’s first impression of the cavern was that it was enormous. Of course, the size of this grotto paled in comparison to Goron City’s, but the size still amazed Link. Even the hollow soul of the Great Deku Tree couldn’t contrast with the size of this place. If this was the mine of the Gorons, how could they have built such an immense room?
Then he saw why. Along the cave’s walls were gigantic pillars that ran up the sides and to the ceiling, where the all met and conjoined to another pillar that crept along the ceiling in a single file. The pillars were tinted a peculiar set of colors: sickening green and nauseating blue. Link wondered why they were this color and why their framework seemed so eerily familiar when he suddenly realized the answers.
The pillars were actually the skeletal remains of a giant animal!
Gaping in amazement, he wondered what in all of creation could he large enough to have such a skeletal framework.
Then he saw the head.
It was situated at the far end of the cavern, but Link could see it clearly. The head was massive, and it seemed to fit the relative size of the skeletal frame of the cave perfectly. Its shape resembled that of a lizard that had been stretched to disfiguring proportions. Two empty eye sockets stared back at Link with a ghostly gaze, and a mouth lined with two…no, three rows of sharp teeth seemed to sneer at the unwanted trespasser.
With a lump in his throat, Link realized he had just discovered a Dodongo.
“I have to fight an army of those things?” he thought, taking a step back.
Link then realized he still had his sword and shield ready, and took a long gander at them. He knew without a doubt that such small weapons would be useless against such a monstrous creature. He asked himself again, “How do I get myself in these messes?”
The sound of the silence that followed refused to yield an answer. Nothing could be heard, not even a loose rock sliding down the cavern wall, not even his gentle yet fast-paced breathing.
Yet despite the deafening calm, Link could almost swear that the skull on the far end of the cavern was laughing at him…
Someone was in the cave. Someone he didn’t know was in the cave. Who was it? Could it be a Stone Eater? Could it be one of those accursed “Almighty Five,” the ones that had led the banishment of his children? Could it be one of them…?
No, the smell of this one wasn’t that of a Stone Eater. It possessed odors that weren’t of the Great Mountain. There were too many to identify the exact name of each and every smell, but one scent did stand out from the rest of them all. It was a familiar aroma, one he hadn’t experienced since his children had been exiled. It belonged to something he had once loved, something he enjoyed preying upon.
His sensed tingled. What a joyous moment! Whatever was going on, a delicious Hylian had wandered into the cave. He remembered the sweet taste of Hylian flesh, how it made his taste buds quiver with delight, how it always satisfied him after dining on tough Goron flesh. This was indeed a blissful moment.
How shall he retrieve this tasty morsel? He was too big to follow it through the narrow tunnels of the Goron mine, so he couldn’t go himself. And he couldn’t trust his children lest they give in to instinct and temptation and devour the human themselves. No, he shall send the ones given to him by the one who had resurrect his children. They were faithful and loyal, and should not disobey him.
Yes, he shall send them. They would deliver his prize safely and alive. How he loved the taste of warm flesh…
Something was approaching. Although he couldn’t see it, Link could feel it. He tightened his grip on his sword and shield, although he didn’t know if they would be much help. After staring at the Dodongo skull, it was probably going to take a lot more than steel and timber to beat whatever he was going to face in this cave.
He knew something was coming, but he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t even hear it, which made the situation even worse. Dozens of caves and tunnels were carved into the side of the cavern, so whatever was approaching could appear from any one of them. The psychological effect was making Link anxious and tense, his eyes strain, and his brow sweat.
Whatever was approaching, it was slowly breaking the Kokiri down, using the sound of silence as its weapon…