The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - But A Moment In Time
The sun is just starting to rise as I reach the top of the mountain. I've endured a long, difficult climb up a sheer surface, weathering a rainstorm halfway through, but it's all worth it. I'm certain this is the spot. I'm not here for the dawn, mind you, though it is remarkable, and I do pause for a second to breathe in the breadth of my surroundings. Residue from the storm steadily drips from my climbing gear. The ground beneath me is shiny and slick in that unique way, beauty matched only by impermanence. I open my Sheikah Slate and flick to the photo album to compare the landmarks in front of me. Yes, there's Hyrule Castle. Yes, there's the monumental cherry blossom. But where is the plateau? Where are the stone structures? That's when I notice my angle. It's way off. And Death Mountain is but a blip on the horizon, a far cry from the protrusion I'm looking at on my screen. I turn around and see another peak, higher up, a ways away from where I stand. Damn. I'm in the wrong place. From below, I hear a scream. A traveler has been beset upon by a mob of Bokoblins on horseback. I can't be certain, but the traveler look weaponless. Damn. I take one more look at that mountain behind me. It's definitely the place. It has to be. I memorise its location before turning back to the traveler in distress. My eyes are momentarily held by the light. There's something to be said for the beauty in the stillness. I look out, smile sweet, breathe deep, and leap from the peak. With my paraglider open, I fly towards a place I might be able to do some good. And another day passes.
It's been weeks - months, maybe - since I set off on the quest assigned to me by the old woman at the village. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm a big deal. That's what they tell me. "Link, you're a big deal." I'm a big deal. I'm an old deal. I'm a warrior. I'm a hero. I'm real pretty. I'm over 100. And I have no idea if any of that is true. I may be over 100, but I don't look it. I've been sleeping. Apparently, last century, something evil stirred, and we failed to act in time to stop it. When I say "we", I mean me and Zelda. She's also a big deal, apparently. Royalty, whatever that means. From what I hear, she's the only reason I'm alive. She sounds powerful. She's currently at the castle, continuing to keep this evil at bay, pouring everything she has into protecting what little is left. Until I can come help. There's no rush, from what I'm told, and to be honest, from what I've seen. I wander this landscape like a ghost, haunting those that have clung to life as we are wont to do. Hylian needs and desires have not left us, even in the face of the apocalypse. It's that determination - to make a life with whatever tools can be afforded - that nourishes my motivation. I will complete this quest for them.
The old woman believes that I cannot complete what we set out to achieve 100 years ago, until I can remember what it was that we set out to achieve 100 years ago. Makes sense. The old woman believes I can cobble my memory together by finding the locations of photographs taken by Zelda; mementos of my first life. The old woman believes the profundity of our relationship was so strong, that simply returning to the places we visited will ignite those memories. The rub is that she doesn't have the faintest idea where any of them are. Like, at all. Now, I can't really explain this, but I have this knowledge, this innate feeling, that I've adventured before. And, in those previous adventures, when faced with a task like this, I received assistance. A nudge in the direction. A hand to hold. Here, I am afforded nothing, bar the confidence that I can and will work it out. It is liberating. It is good. It's also daunting as fuck.
Outside of the old woman's house, I stood stone-like, frozen with anxiety over what direction my feet should point for that first step. Flicking through my Sheikah Slate, not one of the photos was a recognisable location. I understood there wasn't really a world to save, and so there wasn't really a sense of urgency, but at some point, I'd have to do something, right? I wandered the village, utterly lost, desperate for guidance - a finger pointing in a direction would do - when I came close to a collision with a young girl sprinting towards me. As she passed, I heard her say she needed to cook dinner. Later, I saw her beside a waterfall, standing over a stove, alone. A child playing around an open flame! Protective duty calls! We struck up a conversation. Her name was Koko, and she was training herself to be a chef. This intrigued me, and I decided to observe Koko's training, offering my assistance when it was warranted.
As we continued to make dishes, I learned more of Koko's life. Most of the dishes she was making weren't for herself, but for her sister, Cottla. They were all dishes that her mother used to make. How moving, I thought. A child following in her parent's footsteps. How proud her mother must have been. Or would have been. Koko eventually divulged to me that she's learning to cook because her father cannot, and her mother is no longer alive. Koko spoke of how her father has yet to bring himself to tell his daughters that their mother is dead, but Koko is wise beyond her years. She knows that she will never be as good a cook as her mother, but that's okay. Her focus is on being able to provide for her younger sister and father. We continued to talk as we made dishes, until eventually, we ran out of things to make. Koko thanked me for my assistance, and we said our goodbyes. Meeting Koko left me with a newfound perspective on my quest. Life is a daunting task for all, and it tests our emotional fortitude more than we may prefer. But all we can do is take it one step at a time, and attempt to deal with what comes as it does. There is a peace inside of that. I see it in Koko's eyes. On my way out of the village, I had a chance meeting with Cottla. We couldn't speak for long, because she was playing hide-and-seek with her mother. I left her to it. And another day passes.
I pop on my warmer clothing as I ascend the cliff, and altitude reminds me that it exists. I successfully saved that traveler from the Bokoblin posse, and amidst his words of thanks, he made mention of a dragon - a dragon! - he had seen a few nights prior, near a lake not too far from where we stood. Fuck yes. He wasn't lying. A long wait by the lake's edge was rewarded as I heard the water displace to make way for a luminescent reptilian head, attached to a twisted, winding snake's body. It was magnificent. In total awe, I observed this tremendous creature fly up, down, in, and around the lake. It's body shifted and moved like it was still in the water - no, like it was water. Its noodled body, constantly at risk of entanglement, shifted and made space for itself like it was thoughtless. Like it was natural. I had to get closer. It took some backtracking, but I found a cliff high enough to get me in gliding distance, which is where I now stand. I jump. For an all-too-brief moment as I make my approach, we fly together. To be in the presence of such earthly divinity, however ephemeral, is enough. That should have been enough for me, but I desired a closer look still. That's when nature reminds me that its beauty isn't always tolerant of the gawker. As I sail through the slithering intricacies of its body, a section of its back comes within landing distance, and I take the opportunity. I should have paid heed to the clear elemental power it wields. Sharp and damning, an arc of electricity shoots from its scales and brings me near death. Smoldering, I plummet forty feet into the cold water. The dragon continues its patrol as I flounder to the shore. I am soaked, bloodied, and humbled. And another day passes.
It's noon. I'm halfway up the second mountain - the one I saw behind me after my first failed attempt to locate this photograph - when I begin to develop a feeling that grows faster than I can control it: this is not the mountain. My suspicions are confirmed as I reach the summit to find a vista that, while picturesque, does not match the picture. The protrusion I had previously thought to be Death Mountain is actually just a mountain. Death Mountain, rather appropriately, is the active volcano currently providing my back with unwelcome warmth. I'm at a completely incorrect angle. Overwhelmed, I spin on the spot for a time. This is not the first instance of anxious confusion. In a land so vast, it's all too easy to hang your hopes on a single solution, only to arrive and realise that the universal truth you had prescribed to only extends as far as the boundaries of you. The land does not care how sure you are, or how much you need a win. There are many nooks and crannies on these mountains, and each of them provides a landscape perspective entirely different to the last. You cannot find stillness in yourself until you can accept that, in these moments, there is nothing to do but to keep looking. From down below, I hear a whinny. I look to see a jet-black horse, slowly navigating its way around the base of the mountain, alone. I've always wanted to own a black horse that I could call Audrey. The photograph can wait. The world certainly is.
Taming a horse is not easy, especially when fighting exhaustion onset from paragliding a couple hundred feet. Audrey nearly bucked me off, but I was able to calm her down. We're currently galloping across Rowan Plain. Horses really are a remarkable creation. Such fabulous muscular structure, such potential for violence overshadowed by natural, dignified beauty. It's as I'm pondering this beast that I come to a startling revelation: I don't deserve to be riding it. Who am I to have dropped from the sky - literally - and plucked this entirely natural creation from its instinctive purpose to serve mine own selfish cause? Not to mention that, by utilising this mode of transport, I'm hindering my ability to see this land. Audrey is fast, and her speed is enticing when I have a destination, but I'm still working out where, if anywhere, I want to go. Wouldn't this be a detriment to my goal? No, it isn't right. I want to walk. I want to see. I don't want to take. I turn Audrey around, and we ride back to the base of that mountain - you know, the wrong mountain. I dismount. I feed her some apples, inadvertently strengthening our bond. I take a few seconds to just look at her. I give her back her name: the wordless, priceless gift of not being owned by anyone or anything. With nothing left to do or say, I turn around and walk away. The horse looks after me for a few seconds, before she turns and gallops into the long grass. I don't think I'll ever see her again. And another day passes.
This is a cruel world that I occupy. Death and violence permeates my existence, as it does us all, and there is an inevitable melancholy that exudes from the pores of Hyrule. The landscape runs amok with various hostile creatures looking to end me for no reason other than the fact that I am where I am. At least, that's what I think. I never stop and attempt to reason with a Moblin. I don't try and see things from the Lynel's perspective. They're too busy trying to erase me from existence for me to make an attempt at a diplomatic solution. It makes me wonder if it needs to be this way. Nature seems to think that the key players in this conflict need to exist, at least. At regular intervals - I've never taken the time to properly measure - a red moon rises, and every creature that I have laid to rest is resurrected, to live and be and die by my hand again. And again. What eldritch horror the denizens of Hyrule must exist in, knowing the exact amount of time to pass before their mortality rate rises, an ebb and flow of deathly uncertainty. Turn that concept to its inverse, however, and consider the inescapable doom of knowing your life's work is to live, die, and live again, all for the purpose of instilling terror, and being cut up by a gallivanting asshole calling themselves a hero. If you ask me, we all deserve something better than this. But I don't know what I can do about it. Sometimes, I stash away all of my combat gear. I wander the land completely unarmed, and I hope that by doing so, I can show the life-forms I come in contact with that I want a life free of the fear of a death that could have been prevented. I try to show them the way we saw life as infants, at the beginning of this grand adventure, when the small, secure woodland village was all the world we knew. We had no need for swords, or shields, for we had no understanding of a world where life was something that could be forcibly removed. I try to show them this. But I am a relic. I've been dead for 100 years. I don't know how this world works, and I'm a fool to think I can control it. So when a Lizalfos, camouflaged as a rock, leaps into the air, spear trained on my face, what else is there for me to do but equip my broadsword, and play by the rules? I'm still having dreams, but I'm scared that's where they'll stay.
My shield deflects the giant metal spider's laser beam at just the right moment, sending it shooting straight back into its face. The entire world is illuminated for a brief second as it implodes. Guardians, as the giant metal spiders are more formally known, were created 100 years ago to protect Hyrule Castle. Like everything else that occurred 100 years ago, it didn't work out. It seems that whatever lethargic evil is currently taking up residency in the castle ruins has also found out a way to commandeer these powerful baddies. Not that I care. Since finding out that the only thing more powerful than them is their own power, I haven't found dealing with them to be too much of a hassle. I quickly gather up the ancient materials - fuel for some weird and wonderful weaponry - and head back towards the cliff, atop which sits the man who sent me down here. He's the newest arrival at Tarrey Town, a residential district I'm assisting in the construction of. We didn't get off to the best start - coupling a declaration that he normally wouldn't speak to a "commoner" with a less-than-flattering judgement of my clothing didn't set the best first impression, not to mention confirming some of my suspicions about the quality of clientele we might be attracting with these attractive but unaffordable properties. But then he gave me 100 rupees as a down payment for work I hadn't yet agreed to, so we're best friends now. Pointing at the two Guardians wandering the forest beneath us, he asked if I'd deal with it. Like he even had to. I would have done it for free. Shh, don't tell. I jumped off the cliff, and got to work.
Greed gets the better of me as I reach the apex of my climb. What kind of reward could I possibly be staring down the barrel of if this rich jerk was willing to hit me with 100 as a deposit? A hefty boon, to be sure. He doesn't seem to care all that much that his request has been fulfilled - perhaps another instance of immeasurable wealth not providing the inner satisfaction we all crave - but offers me the remainder of my reward nonetheless. I hold out my hand, and he presents me with all of 20 rupees. The fuck. My disappointment must be telegraphing more than I would like, because the man expresses incredulity at another commoner expecting the final reward to be greater than what came before it, before telling me to get. I leave embarrassed and enraged, and spend some time wandering the landscape aimlessly, searching myself for some kind of satisfactory resolution. I stop at a pond, the great provider for introspective thought, and I spy a treasure chest at its bed. My excitement is reignited at this find. I hurriedly whip out my super-powerful ancient magnet, drag the chest to land, kick it open, and retrieve a single piece of amber. The cheapest of rocks. I ready myself to fly into a blind rage yet again - scorned once more by selfish expectation - but something makes me pause. I consider the words of that loaded asshole. My problem here is disappointment at the reward. But could it be that the reason I'm not satisfied is because I'm looking for the reward in the wrong place? If I focus on the 20 rupees, or the piece of amber, I lose focus on the exhilaration of besting metallic foes designed to battle things far stronger than I, and the joy of stumbling upon something hidden, something secret. The reward is not the reward. It never was. The reward is the discovery. I pass a glance back up towards the cliff. There he is, still lounging, looking out across the view, able to afford it. I smile, and though he can't hear me, I thank him for the lesson. And though he can't see me, I raise both of my middle fingers. And another day passes.
I have searched so many mountains, through every weather condition, and yet I cannot find the location of this photograph. Will I ever? I think of Zelda, and how hard she's fighting to save what little we have left. I wish I was better. I hope she's okay.
It's the early hours of the morning, and I'm the only person walking this road. I'm on my way to Death Mountain, holding onto the thought that perhaps observing the landscape from the reverse perspective of the photograph might glean some heretofore unseen spot. I come to a fork in the road, and see Kakariko not too far in the distance. A detour might be exactly what I need. I decide to stop in and visit the old woman, to see if she might have uncovered a new scrap of information that will point me in the right direction - hell, any direction - towards progress. She has not. But it was nice to see her, and her faith in me remains unshaken. More fool her. As I pass back through the village, towards the exit, I happen to spy Koko. Wondering what could possess her to be up at this hour, I approach to find her at a makeshift grave site. She's crying. I sit with her, and together we watch the sunrise. We don't say a word to each other. When the day has started, she sets off into the village to continue preparing dishes for her father and sister and I set off in the other direction. And another day passes.
As I touch down on the hot sand, what sounds like a thousand foghorns bellow. It sends quaking vibrations through my body, and I have to spread my legs to stop from keeling over. In the tempestuous sandstorm ahead of me, a clearance is made for just enough time to see the metal camel. This is the colossus I've heard of, one of four that I need to tame if I'm to have anything resembling a shot at bringing any semblance of balance back to Hyrule. The camel is hidden behind the wall of sand now. I take a few steps forward. Its terrible trumpet blares again. Yeah nah. I turn, and I run. And another day passes.
I'm looking for a big horse. Yep, you heard that right. A small horse won't do, no. I need to find a horse that can indisputably only be classified as "giant". Yet again, I find myself off doing the busy work of those too lazy or incapable to achieve it themselves. But I'm not complaining. For one, the fellow who sent me on this quest was far more magnanimous than the last one, an ecologist as opposed to a hedonist. For two, I really wanna see this fucking horse. I've been given a wide spread of land as its habitat, and the search to this point has been a challenging one. There's a Lynel off in the distance behind me with but a scratch from the tens of arrows I tried to fell it with. I don't imagine it's going to give me a second chance to give it the combative equivalent of an earlobe tug if I set foot in its territory again. But here I am, perched above a tree, garbed in the quietest clothing I own, staring down at a hairy-tailed behemoth. The patriarch of a diminutive band, this beast is the gods firing on all cylinders. I spare a second of pity for the collective, as they know not that I am about to kidnap their leader. I effortlessly step off the tree branch, and drop onto his back. We wrestle for a long, long time. His size is correlative to his strength, no doubt. Eventually, though, we achieve a mutual resolution, agreeing to be in each other's company, and I lead him away from the mob. He doesn't look back, and neither do I. Maybe we can't.
The journey back to the ecologist's camp was no shorter than its inverse. The blame rests on my shoulders for not realising that I'd have to journey back the way I came. The Lynel spotted me before I it, which makes sense. It was the one with the arrow sticking out of its back, after all. We had nearly cleared its territory, the horse covering remarkable ground with his stride, when a blind-siding cloud of Keese knocked me off the massive stallion, nearly sending him into a panicked frenzy to a location I probably wouldn't have been able to follow. Do not ask me how I fended off the colony, dodging a sun-blotting amount of arrows being vaulted from the Lynel's bow, but I did. In record timing, the clearance of evil calmed the giant horse, and together we continued back to the camp.
The ecologist is ecstatic, just as in awe of biology's capabilities as the day they commenced their career, I imagine. And like a true scientist, once they have asked their questions, and received their answers, they are sated. For now. Needing nothing more with the horse, they leave him in my care to do as I will. I'm pondering this thought when I catch someone up against a tree I hadn't seen earlier. Entering into a dialogue, they suggest some friendly horseback target practice. I say sure. He says no dice unless the horse I'm riding gets registered, which I can fix up at the stable down the road. This stops me. I never want to say no to an experience that I could learn from, but I still have memories of Audrey. Do I really want to risk losing them, when I've already lost so much? Counter-argument though: it's a really big horse. If I'm going to lay claim to anything, it's going to be the biggest, right? Without pausing to consider the semiotic equivalent of a towering phallus nestled inside of that impotent thought, I gallop away for the stable.
The big horse takes a few seconds to recognise his band, seemingly torn between the life he once led, and the life I had so temporarily thrust upon him. Eventually, though, primal instincts recalibrate, and he leaves me to it. I didn't go through with the registry. Before I spoke to the stable master, I had a quick chat with an artist. He was an interesting person, full of energy and affection for life and its secret gifts. He travels a lot, painting what he sees so he can retain the memories. He offered to have a look at my Sheikah Slate, noting that he could probably point me in the right direction of at least one of the photographs. The weight of his offer was a lot to process. "Do you know what this means?" I thought. "This painter spends his nights in stables, easy lodging for a backpacker. I have gone so, so long searching this landscape unaided, on foot, because I rejected the use of a horse as transport, the very transport that would have led me to lodge at a stable, where I could have received assistance in my quest, which to date I have been unsuccessful in. Now, I have in front of me a way out. I can choose to change, to reintegrate with the status quo. I can ease this burden. I can win."
I declined his offer. Tempting though it may have been, my decisions have led me where I am because they were my decisions. They shaped me. This is my adventure, not his, not yours. It may take me years to find these photographs - which, let's be honest, given my trajectory to date it probably will - but the victory that comes as a result when it does will be all the better for it. This epiphany spread to the mount beneath me, as I realised that my being here is the direct result of another's influence on what I should do. Nobody tried to talk me out of letting Audrey go, because it was nobody's business to enter into. The road that I walk is not a kind one, and nobody need walk it but I. The painter bid me good day, and the stable master never got my name. Concluding my reminiscing, I watch the stallion integrate back into the mob for a moment more. And another day passes.
Dugby's got me on a treasure hunt. While the giant robotic salamander crawls around the agitated Death Mountain, its volcanic peak ready and threatening to erupt, this cute little Goron is chilling in the piping hot spring water, playing a game with me. He's either oblivious to the danger just above us, or he's not willing to let the threat of imminent doom get in the way of him enjoying the gift of being able to live. Either way, I envy him. He's hidden his "special stick" somewhere between here and the bridge that grants access to the volcano, and if I can find it, I get to keep it. Game on.
Within two minutes, I've blown up the conspicuous stack of rocks almost exactly halfway between Dugby's parameters to find a Drillshaft. A Drillshaft. A stick special only in its ability to break rocks a little easier than a stone club. I couldn't go up against anything bigger than a Bokoblin with this. Seriously? Fitting at least some of Dugby's specifications, I head back to the springs to see if I've solved his puzzle. Turns out I did. Dugby congratulates my efforts, and comes through on his promise to gift it to me. I leave victorious, but I can't shake the feeling of disappointment from his words. I thought he'd be happy. I solved his problem in 120 seconds! And then it hits me. I'm so focused on solving problems, that I didn't realise this wasn't one. It was a game. And I kind of ruined it. This pissy little Drillshaft may not have been special to me, but to Dugby, it was his special stick. My classification of it as useless is a useless classification, because what it is to me isn't relevant here. I turn and walk back to the springs. By now, night has fallen, and Dugby is sound asleep. I drop the Drillshaft at his feet, in hopes that he will wake up and hide it somewhere new, for a traveler better suited to a child's imagination than me. Sorry, Dugby. And another day passes.
Frustrated and defeated, after another day of fruitless location scouting, I open my Sheikah Slate. Fuck this, I'm finding another photo. As I flick back-and-forth through the bank, I find myself repeatedly holding on a stone tower at the end of a bridge. In my travels - and by this point, I've traversed most of Hyrule - I have only ever encountered a structure that looks anything like this: Hyrule Castle. But it can't be, right? The old woman can't possibly expect me to wander into the lion's den before I'm prepared to fight it, right? But as I flick through the album once more, I steadily come to the resignation that this is the best lead I have. If I want to solve this mystery, I'm going to have to take some risks. Hyrule Castle happens to be within my sight. Though its architecture hasn't changed from it's old photos, its towers look sharper, its structural intricacies once a display of Hylian ingenuity now a fierce warning of the pitfalls of hubris and false heroics. Around its perimeter, large slanted monoliths with glowing red dots sprout from the earth, a swirling vortex of pink flame churning between them. It ain't going away anytime soon. Better get to it.
This place is swarmed with Guardians, and I'm fully exposed, climbing up a cliff, half-naked and weaponless. I need to be as light as possible to best this slope, which means no sword, no shield, no bow, and the only two pieces of clothing I have that help me climb faster: a pair of shorts and a bandanna. At this point, saying the odds are stacked against me is about as revelatory as seeing a person on their death bed and commenting that they must be having a bad day. But I continue on, because I just have to. I very nearly don't make it to flat land, my physical stamina pushed to its limits as I leap left and right across the vertical terrain to avoid the slow, steady hail of fire from the patrolling Guardians with wings. Yeah, wings. Because things weren't hard enough. But I make it. With the last reserves of my strength, I grip the ledge and pull my body up to safety. Before I have time to take but one breath to begin refueling my lungs, a deep, guttural roar pierces the landscape. Something knows I'm here. I look up to see an answer to what might be leading the charge of that aforementioned swirling pink vortex. With trails of magenta flame licking off of its head, the visage of a tusked pig coils around the central tower of Hyrule Castle; a great old evil protecting the one thing it has left to conquer. From behind a window far below the peak of this tower, a brilliant, white light emanates; the activation of an ancient power as it staggers to its feet once more, to see if today is the day that the good folk get a win. I'm sorry, Zelda. I'm here for you, but not in the context that you think. With space to breathe, I equip clothing and weaponry better suited to the updated geography, and get to work, leaving the powers far higher than me to continue tilting at the wind of each other's mills.
That flying pink pig monster really did a number on this place. Gutted, dilapidated rooms now merely hint at what they once were. Though I fare far more gracefully than I did on the cliff face, I am still beset upon by worthy challenges at the hand of the Guardians. But they drop faster, for my target is in sight. No longer am I guessing the correct altitude, the curvature of mountains, the angles of trees, in the service of finding that one right spot. There is a tower above me, connected to a bridge, and damn if it doesn't look exactly like the photo hanging off my belt. I stared at this picture, and thought, "You can't be serious." And the picture looked right back at me and said, "Yep." This confidence, this determination, filters into every fiber of my being, and I take stock of the unconscious flow of my actions. I'm turning this combat into choreography. Gone are the days of a sloppy stumble into success. Here, I am a dancer. A fucking ballerina. Nobody will break my stride. Nobody will slow me down. I have not come this far to die now. I reach the bridge that connects to the tower. At the same time that three flying Guardians spot me, immediately training their laser sights to my face, a warm glow emanates from the middle of the stone-cobbled walkway.
No way. I did it. I found one. I actually found one.
The lasers are nothing. I break into a sprint, zagging when they're expecting a zig, leaping forward when they're expecting a backflip. It's such a good time. "Don't stop me now," I plead. The world responds when I hit the glow, in kind, as it leaves me switched on, and shuts off everything else. The flying Guardians, not two seconds ago furiously trying to end me, are suspended in animation. There is no longer any kind of breeze to shift their positions. There is nothing. Nothing but me and my thoughts. I pull out my Sheikah Slate, and compare the locations. It's confirmed. I did it. Something flips in my head, and a memory begins to take shape rapidly. With the fraction of a second I have remaining, I take stock in what I've been through to get here, and what I am about to receive. I've been a ghost ever since I woke up, and now I take my first step towards reconnecting to who I was, and what I'm fighting to save. It's all for this. And here it goes.
...I don't want to talk about it. The tower at the end of the bridge was Zelda's laboratory. Below was her bedroom. I read her diary. I have learned about her, and about me. I need some time to process...this. I don't know how I'm going to. I dry my eyes, and paraglide away from Hyrule Castle, back to safety. I know who I was and I know what I did, but I don't know who I am, and I don't know what to do.
"Having a sword that shoots all like WHAM and mows down all kinds of monsters like KAPOW would be amazing!" Danton says, and I let him continue. Out here in the hostile, frozen wilderness, you've got to find something to pin your optimism to, and for this dude, it's the Master Sword. He's bought fully into the legend - to him, the sword that seals the darkness is the be all and end all. And I let him pour all of that out to me without telling him that this narrative framing device is hidden underneath my shirt. I got it a while back, no biggie. I mean, a bit biggie. I did have to get to the other side of a literal haunted forest. Like, literally haunted. Like, the trees have contorted into faces so spooked by all of the spooky ghosts, literally haunted. But on the other side, at the foot of a grand cherry blossom (yes, that cherry blossom) was it. The sword. The sword. No fanfare. No significant ordeal. I just...stumbled into it. And I pulled it out of the stone. The sword that seals the darkness, and here it was in my hand. It was okay, but I can't lie and say it wasn't a little underwhelming. I mean, crack open my arsenal and you'll find plenty of weapons with more brute force than this. And as the cherry blossom went on to explain - oh yeah, the tree talks, it's pretty cool - the fact that this sword has the potential to save our lives doesn't protect it from the same damaging forces that affect every other material object in Hyrule. In a world where we're each stranded in our own way, fumbling in the dark of a lazy apocalypse to try and find any new sense of purpose, it figures that its most powerful product can be bent by desolation, too. I now hold my greatest shot at fending off the forces of evil, with no guarantee that I'll approach success. But there's nothing left to lose. So what's the harm in hope?
Danton has hope, perhaps where there is the least of it. If he were to fall asleep at this cooking pot, there's a good chance the environment wouldn't let him wake up. And this is where he calls home. I may not believe in the Master Sword, but he does. I bring it out, and let him experience what it's like to be in the presence of power. He's impressed, but like all who come face to face with their heart's greatest desires, the years of anticipation do offer somewhat of a diminished return. It's not as big as he thought it would be. It's not as extravagant, either. But hope prevails, and at the conclusion of the demonstration, he cannot deny that what he has just seen is nothing short of amazing, and he tells me that I've made his day. This statement hits me, and for a time, I disappear into introspection. I didn't plan for much of this journey. What started as a quick climb up a mountain to nail a photograph's location kind of got away from me. Location scouting rarely features trying to land on the back of an electric dragon. I've met a lot of folk, too. A lot of lives, pointing in different directions, united by a collective understanding that they are what remains of a broken world. They are what's left of a calamitous mistake. But they're alive. They can still find joy, and have wishes. They still believe. To them, the world being over is but an opportunity to start again. Danton, come down from his triumphant high, looks me in the eye and says that if I have the sword that seals the darkness, then I must be the chosen hero, which means that the remainder of my journey will not be easy, but I cannot give up, ever. "Promise me that," he says. I still haven't found the location of that first photograph. How can I possibly stand a chance to seal the darkness? My thoughts travel to Koko. She's surely stood at the cooking pot in Kakariko, putting her grief on hold so that her father and sister can eat. If she can find a way to tape herself back together well enough to get back to living, then I have no excuse. This journey has been hard, but damn it all if it wasn't worth it. For all of my lowest lows pale in comparison to that day I hunkered down in a jungle and just watched a thunderstorm, overwhelmed with the beauty of a land still hanging on. I've only found the location of one photograph, but I can't wait to keep going. A part of me almost hopes I never reach the end, for what else will there be to discover? I may never be a part of this world, but I feel like I'm starting to understand it. I look Danton in the eye. He believes that if I can destroy the darkness, then evil has nowhere to hide. And if he believes, that's good enough for me. I make him a promise. Then I turn around and walk out, into the wild unknown.
Thank you for this day. It has been a very happy day.
And, like that, it passes.