Kakariko is a mess. The once prosperous tribe is now in shambles. Gorons and Sheikah are everywhere, taking shelter in the burnt husks of tents. They are no longer living in the mines.
"You cannot enter here." Barks a Goron, startling me. He blocks our way to Dragon Roost.
"What is going on here?" Zelda asks.
"None of your business, wench." he snarls.
"As Princess of the Faron Tribe, I demand you tell me." She snaps back. This makes him pause.
"Why have you traveled so far?" he asks suspiciously.
"We are looking for the Stone of Raine."
"Ah." he growls. "You're wasting your time, there is no way you can see it now. I suggest you go home."
"This is important-"
"More important than the safety of my Tribe?" he cuts her off, "I will not let you pass."
"So it is on the mountain, then." Maltzar says wickedly. The Goron towers over us threateningly.
"Of course it is, and so is the legendary Thunder Bird, Eldin. And if you really must know she has come down with a raging fever and has been destroying our camps and...devouring our young." Greif shows through his stern gaze.
"But I thought she was the guardian of your tribe! Why would a sickness make her change so much?" Zelda asks. The Goron shakes his head.
"All we can do is hope it will pass. Whenever we send doctors to her she goes wild and punishes us all. If we leave her alone perhaps she will as well."
"And how's that working out for you?" Maltzar asks rudely. The Goron shoots him a harsh look.
"We will leave her alone. All we need is to see Raine." Zelda says.
"Raine is in her nest." The Goron snaps. My heart falls. Zelda takes a moment to breathe.
"I am a healer. Perhaps I can help."
"No! You will kill us all!"
"From the sounds of it she is going to do that anyway. A fever must be treated. Please, let me see her." Zelda insists.
A horrible screech pierces our ears.
"GET DOWN!" The Goron pushes all three of us off our feet. Massive talons whistle passed where we were standing moments ago. Jaw throbbing I stare as the massive bird lands in the center of the camp. Screaming people and Gorons flee, desperately trying to hide their children in the tents.
The creature pivots breathing shallow and fast, it's big yellow eyes crazed and watering. It moves so fast for its size, her head swivels a full 360 degrees. It's a great Owl, with a stone mask.
It screeches, emitting smoke out of its beak. A ball of flame shoots out and scorches the cliff side.
"Now that's what I call a fever!" Maltzar says. I look at him unimpressed.
"No!" Zelda yells as the bird plucks a screaming child out of her mother's arms. It spreads its wings. Zelda is running full speed at it. Maltzar and I scramble to get up. Stave in hand Zelda grabs a hold of its claw and lifts off with it. I jump and grab her ankle.
"Wait for me!" Maltzar clobbers my waist. We fall. I struggle free of his arms only to see my Zelda bravely riding Eldin to the summit of the mountain.
"Rosie!" Hollers the mother, beside herself with hysterics.
"What kind of a handhold was that?" Maltzar snaps at me. I punch him.
"OW! What was that for?" He asks through a bleeding nose. I'm heading to the mouth of the mines.
I turn. An old woman is hobbling toward me.
"Take this...I've been meaning to give it to you." she croaks as she pulls out a magnificent hand harp. It is golden and shining with its own light.
"Oh, yeah sure, let's play it a little music and it will fall fast asleep." Maltzar scoffs, pinching his nose. I elbow him. Grumbling, he gives me some space. I nod to the woman as graciously as I can, and take it from her shaking hand.
"It's for the brave lady." The old woman says. As I hold it something about it is familiar. I swear I've seen it before- held it before. I go to ask but the woman is gone.
"How useful. Now shall we?" Maltzar motions tersely. I tuck the harp away in my pouch still looking for the woman. She is nowhere in sight. We set off for the mines.
The Goron lets me pass without question. Maltzar is on my tail, I can hear him cursing.
Talk about a maze. I'm trapped with Maltzar making snide remarks and rude jokes all the way to the peek. Once I find the map it is easy enough. But all I can think about is Zelda, and that girl, Rosie. This was taking too long, they could be dead.
We come to a ladder. Screeching can be heard. I climb it quickly and peer out of the trapped door. Talons thunder past. As soon as the coast is clear, I leap out.
There is Zelda, knocking an arrow behind a charred boulder, guarding Rosie like her only child. Eldin vomits a jet of flame, turning the smoldering rock into molten orange. Dagger raised I charge and slash her nearest leg. Sparks fly, but I barely make a scratch on her scales. Her wing throws me. The landing knocks my breath out and sends the world spinning.
"Yeah? YEAH? IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT, BITCH!?" I hear Maltzar yelling somewhere. Finally pulling in air, I drag myself toward my dagger. I look towards a screech.
Maltzar is on Eldin's face, punching one of her eyes and yanking at her mask. It won't budge and she's bucking like hay wire. Maltzar is whipped to the side and crumples out of sight. It was a miracle he stayed on that long! I have my dagger. Eldin is stalking towards me, cocking her head from side to side.
"LINK!" Zelda yells. An arrow impales one of the wings. Eldin shrieks. She turns on Zelda.
"Oh yeah baby!!" Maltzar pops into view. Blood is running down his face from a gash however he is holding a massive hammer. Where he found that, I have no idea. Maltzar runs up a ramp of rock and leaps. He sails down towards Eldin raising the hammer and- SMASH! Right on the mask, he meets his mark. But he falls. The hammer rolls to me.
Mask cracked, Eldin is furious. She lunges for Maltzar and plucks him up. She shakes him like a dog with a rat to break its spine. She discards him roughly onto her pile of bones. He doesn't move. Just as she goes for Zelda I'm ready. Fighting nausea I charge, hammer in hand. A blast of flame billows out of Eldin, which Zelda barely dodges. I am running up Eldin's tail, up her spine and I'm at her head before I realize it. I swing down the hammer. The Mask spits. She rears back shrieking. I hammer it again and this time it breaks apart and falls.
The Great Owl Eldin stands there as if in shock. As I sit on her head, clinging to the feathers, I see an oozing black substance pooling on her forehead. It balloons out and slips to the ground with a splat. Eldin keels over. I jump and land hard, my knees buckling a little but I manage to run and catch my balance. Zelda peers out at the black substance, holding Rosie back protectively.
It is writhing and changing shape. It ignites and soon what lies at our feet is a small fire worm, one with a mask and ram's horns. It's two arms are clawing at the hair as its weak little body flops about. I feel sort of sorry for the little thing as it gurgles and gasps. But Zelda's face shows nothing but hate. She pulls out her stave and slams down on the fiend. It explodes like puss, splattering black stuff everywhere. Zelda kneels over the mess and begins chanting softly, waving her stave over it. I know not to interrupt her when using magic, so I go to Rosie. She is shaking and cowers from me. I kneel to her level and offer my arms. She is reluctant but eventually she scampers into my hug. I stroke her brown hair gently, offering all I the reassurance I can as a mute.
When Zelda finishes, the black substance fades away.
"Volvagia." she says. "The same curse of the ancient worm that devoured the Gorons in the Time of the Ocarina still lives in this mountain. I wonder what reawakened it?"
Eldin stirs. Zelda readies her weapon. The Great Owl gets to her feet, looking around with clear brown eyes, sane brown eyes. She stumbles to face us, holding out her injured wing gingerly.
"Thank you." Says a deep woman's voice, though her beak doesn't move. "I was infected with a worm when I refused to allow passage to the Singing Stone of Raine."
"Who did this to you?" Zelda asks, still at the ready.
"One who calls himself, Lord Ghirahim." Eldin replies.
"Did he managed to go see the Stone?" Zelda asks.
"Yes, but it is still asleep. I sense he was unsuccessful." Her feathers perk. Zelda smiles. She sheaths her stave and comes to Owl.
"Then let me heal you for your troubles."
"That would be much appreciated. I will offer you quick passage to Kakoriko for your kindness."
"Tell you what." Maltzar limps into view. "Let's go wake that damn stone before we flutter off, hmm?"
"Maltzar!" Zelda gasps with a bit more relief than I find comfortable. "How did you survive?"
He waves her off.
"Just a scratch is all."
I roll my eyes.
Rosie stays with Eldin as we go into the cavern of Raine. It glows a faint blue from the center pillar of jagged, transparent rock. It looks like a frozen geyser. Zelda places her hand on it and concentrates. After a pause she shakes her head.
"No use. It's long gone. It's very old. Only holy music can bring it back."
"So what do we do, whistle?" Maltzar snorts. I pull out the harp. Zelda stares.
"Where did you get that?" She asks in a serious voice I am not used to.
"Oh, that! Some old bag handed it off to us before we gallivanted after you. She says she's been hanging on to it for you."
Zelda seems to ignore him as she takes it into her hands. I suddenly see her wearing a pink dress with a golden chain belt. Then it's done like a forgotten dream. Zelda holds it on her hip, positioning her hands on the strings. I then envision her with wrappings, her face half hidden with a red eye painted on her chest, shedding a tear. Why I am seeing her wearing different outfits right now, puzzles me.
She begins to strum. I close my eyes and fall into a rapture. The notes glide, and dance, plucking out memories of a time lost and stroking the strings of my heart.
"Dude!" Maltzar breathes interrupting my visions of Zelda disrobing herself. I look to see that the stone is glowing, throbbing. A harmony like wind chimes cascade through the cavern. Light, patterned as if through water, flutter in nets across the walls.
Zelda finishes the song but the stone continues to sing.
Through the music an ethereal voice speaks, neither male nor female:
"You have a question to ask of me,
Ask it now and I will set you free.
Dally not for my time is short
For my place is in Hylia's court"
"My name is Zelda Faron. And I've come to ask you where I can find The Ether Sword of Good and Evil."
There is a pause, where I hold my breath.
"The blade you seek,
Is neither mild nor meek,
It burns with flame,
Which only Gods can tame.
Where it is to be found,
I cannot say.
But the answer does lie
With the stone of Elray"
Suddenly a beam of light shoots out and constructs a three dimensional map of Hyrule. It is blue but for one golden star gleaming in the west, the opposite side of the map from us.
"What- you mean we have to go all the way there?" Maltzar asks. The stone doesn't answer. Zelda takes the map I pull out and marks it down.
"Thank you, Raine." She bows. The map disappears as does the music and light. She turns to us and sighs. "To the desert."
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