Link returns to Ordon Village, where everyone is strangely relieved to learn that their missing kids are safe. I say “strangely” because I would be freaking out, personally. I would be like, Okay my child is safe that’s great TAKE ME TO HIM RIGHT NOW I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN DAYS. But then again, I’m not a parent, so I’m not an expert on how these things are supposed to work.
Rusl’s wife Uli makes a comment about Link’s sword as he’s leaving her house. She says she’s happy for him to have it. This is convenient, because there’s no way he’s giving it back. Technically the sword was supposed to be presented to Princess Zelda as a gift, and technically Princess Zelda asked Link to save Hyrule, so technically the gift is being used as it was intended, which technically means that appropriating the product of a year of this family’s labors is okay. Cool!
The Ordon Village mayor, Bo, expresses dismay that his kidnapped daughter Ilia hasn’t been found yet. He manages to push away his regret at not having bought her a pony while he still had the chance and agrees to show Link how to prove his manliness to the Gorons. This is achieved by sumo wrestling, because of course it is. The key to winning at sumo wrestling seems to be waving both parts of the Wii remote wildly at the same time, and after I push Bo out of the ring twice he tells me that his secret to winning a sumo match against a Goron is to wear heavy iron boots. This is makes no sense – how would his opponent not notice? – but I let it go. Let’s be honest, probably the Gorons noticed and let it go too.
Before Link leaves, Bo asks not to tell Renado his secret. This is adorable in the way it implies a longstanding friendship between the two men. I would love to read a slice-of-life manga about Bo and Renado hanging out with the Gorons. Stories about the daily lives of cute high school girls are wonderful, of course, but I can’t help but think that there’s a market for stories about the daily lives of cute middle-aged men too. (Or maybe it’s just me. I am that market.)
Link returns to Kakariko Village just as it’s being attacked by King Bulblin, a giant green orc riding a black boar. He kidnaps Rusl’s son Colin and rides off, so Link chases him down on Epona. An epic mounted battle follows. This battle involves me, the player, almost getting killed multiple times because I think it’s adorable how the goblins are riding around on war boars.
King Bilblin and his minions are adorable. The macho mayor of Ordon Village is adorable too. For the record, I also think the Gorons are adorable. That is just the sort of person I am. But seriously, though. Goblins riding around on pigs. How is that not just the cutest thing?
And then they kill me and I have to restart the battle from the beginning. Moving on.
Using his iron boots, Link climbs Death Mountain despite the attempts of roughly two dozen Gorons to stop him. If one of the aggressive Gorons successfully knocks Link down from a cliff, he will fall into a hot spring at the bottom of the area, where the bathing Gorons don’t seem to care that he’s invaded their home, instead inviting him to hang out and relax with them.
I’m going to need to take a minute to say that, after the Gerudo, the Gorons are my favorite race in the Zelda series. Some of them are brave and stalwart warriors, but most of them are easy-going and primarily concerned with eating and enjoying themselves. I appreciate how they’re not defined by their size and how they all seem to have different interests and hobbies. For example, the Gorons in The Wind Waker are traders, and the Goron Link crosses paths with in Skyward Sword is an explorer and researcher. The Gorons in Majora’s Mask enjoy racing, and the Gorons in Oracle of Ages Enjoy dancing. They all have different tattoos and different styles of facial hair, and they seem to only increase in individuality as they grow older. I love how friendly they are, and how they call each other – and Link – “Brother.”
So I kick their asses and then cheat against one of their leaders in a sumo match.
This allows Link access into the Goron Mines, the second dungeon in the game. The iron boots get to shine here (look, I made a pun!), as Link uses them sink in pools of water and walk across magnetized patches of glowing blue ore on the walls and ceilings of the mine. One of the coolest puzzles in the dungeon has Link standing upside-down on the magnetized pad of a moving crane and shooting down the ropes holding up a bridge so that he can land on it.
The mines are sacred to the Gorons, and it is here that the tribe has sealed away their leader Darbus, who has been turned into a monster by the power of one of the Fused Shadows that Midna is trying to find. Within the mines are three separate Shinto-style shrines, where three Goron elders are praying to either break the curse on Darbus or to keep him sealed. When I finally encounter Darbus, he is not pretty. I assume this is foreshadowing pointing to the fact that things are going to get similarly ugly when Midna uses the Fused Shadows on herself.
It’s entirely possible that I may have missed something, but I don’t think it’s clear how Darbus ended up with the Fused Shadow. Was it forced on him? Did he take it willingly? Did he just happen to find it? Hmmm…
After Link recovers the Fused Shadow from Darbus, he regains his sanity and returns to his people, and Gorons start hanging around Kakariko Village. It seems that the four kids from Ordon Village have also decided to stay here. The youngest, Malo, has even taken over the village’s general store.
The inn is still in shambles, however, and many of the houses are still boarded up. This makes it seem less likely that the villagers have fled and more likely that they were killed by the shadow beasts in the twilight or became shadows beasts themselves.
So it’s basically Renado, Luda, Barnes, and a small group of kidnapped children hanging out in a ghost town. Thank goodness the Gorons are there in the village to cheer things up a bit.
( Header image from the Palisagrus “let’s play” team on Tumblr )