No Relief In Kakariko
A telepathic wakeup call in the middle of a stormy night is a heinous way to begin a day - never mind this rancid ordeal that lay before me.
Navigating Hyrule under any normal circumstances can be a stressful affair; the landscape, flora & fauna, and general military presence create a strong vibe of intolerance. That's on a normal day. Armed to the teeth with explosives and various stabbing implements makes for that much more of a nerve-jangling journey.
They're out in full force today - this could be largely due to my almost absolute involvement in a prison break. But it's ok: once you've pushed an armored guard three times your size over a stone wall into a colorless abyss to almost certain death, or taken 15,000 volts from a wide-eyed walking pickle, there isn't much room left for alarm. What I'm grinding towards now is bigger than all of us.
The time of the falling rain had passed. The skies were warm and blue now; the sunshine and the moisture on the trees and grass gave the air a golden green glow. Under different circumstances, had I not been bogged down with destiny, I might actually be able to enjoy this day and its weather. But not with these distractions: what I've already been through, and what I have to look forward to.
Without a clearcut destination, a map is a frustratingly useless tool. Right now I have an 'A' without a 'B,' and Kakariko Village is a letter in between; one that doesn't even exist in the Hylian alphabet. Getting here was a violent and logistical nightmare, and being here seems like it's only going to be a continuation. As the humidity rises, my gear gets heavier and I get hungrier, and this rotten mushroom I found seems more than questionable. Half of these townsfolk are under the impression that I'm some knife-wielding derelict with a lust for rupees and potions, and the hotter & more disoriented I become, they may be right.
The soldiers are clunky and indifferent with no apparent peripheral vision. Their presence doesn't concern me. The terror-stricken women with no other interests apart from fulfilling their civic duty are the real threat. Their willingness to turn in a fugitive - regardless of right or wrong (or other trivialities) - derives from a humdrum existence under Agahnim. Their horrified disposition is rooted in their conservative upbringing, with a hint of sexual frustration. Their shattered dreams of maybe one day embarking on some grand adventure - perhaps much like the one foisted upon me - drives their bitterness and subservience. They can't be blamed - I do this for them - but they should be evaded at every turn.
I'm not at all hesitant about walking through strangers' front doors. As a celebrity kidnapper, what reputation am I really clinging to at this point? Besides, this is all for the greater good, and that's what I keep telling myself. So, without any inhibitions, I enter the first dwelling I come across. And to my great delight, I'm met with some deal of charity and open-mindedness -- an elderly woman who seemed to be waiting out her entire existence to interact with me, here in this moment.
"What can I do for you, young man? The elder? Oh, no one has seen him since the wizard began collecting victims..."
Despite her sunny disposition, none of this was good news. "Collecting victims," I thought. "Jesus! What a dismal notion." The only other pressing topic I thought to ask about was the location of the elusive 'Master Sword.' She laid into an honest-to-god legend that concluded with a very vague whereabouts. She suggested I speak with other villagers, and I left there with no more info or confidence than that with which I entered.
Next door was a greenhouse made of leaves and stone; architecturally (and curiously) different than all the other residences. Now my hysteria was getting the better of me - I entered without any hesitation. The interior was like a brightly-lit dungeon -- a contradiction in & of itself. And inside was a stout young man with a very precise and determined part down the center of his neo-blonde hair.
"Yo, Link," he barked. It was both welcoming and off-putting - as contradictory as the building itself. "This house used to be a hideout for a gang of thieves." That makes sense; the villains of this land never had any interest in being inconspicuous. In fact, it's always been the opposite: every criminal and creature with an agenda has always been loud 'n proud about their talents.
"...his name was Blind, and he hated bright light a lot." This information was unsolicited, but it creates enough suspicion in my mind to deem it notable.
Outside was a salesman who seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent. "You sir!" he shouted. "Have you been going through life without one of my 'hold-anything' bottles?!"
I'm still on edge, so any kinda friendly greeting is such a relief - even if he merely sees me as a potential sale.
"Well, step right up and make your life complete!"
Normally, my first thought would be "What's wrong with this poor bastard? Is he for real?" Though after only 10 maddening minutes in this community, I clearly need to start feeding what I see & hear through some sort of newly acquired filter.
"I've got one on sale now for the low, low price of 100 rupees!" Yeah, that's all I need: a large, empty, glass container to add to my already-too-much stuff.
Or do I? Everyone here seems to speak in double-talk riddles and sinister foreshadows and I've yet to catch on. Did this sleazy jar merchant know something I didn't? ...Probably -- everyone seems to. And I'm hoarding all this cash for what? I'm not gonna get my fortune told, or play some dumbass treasure chest Deal or No Deal. Might as well give it to this guy.
"Good buy! Thanks a lot! Now, hold it above your head for the whole world to see, ok?"
I hesitated. Putting aside the fact that it was such a strange request (or demand), I was apprehensive to call this much attention to myself. Sure, my skin was getting a little thicker, but there was still the matter of the timid young lady trolling the streets, shooting me accusatory glances... What's she going to think when I foolishly make a big production out of this routine retail transaction?
All of these thoughts pass through my mind in the span of three seconds before I triumphantly raise this bottle above my head like it's the Stanley Cup.
Skip a beat and I casually recede back into the street - on to the next emotionally jarring question mark. And I'm confronted with it almost immediately, as I find myself face to face with that superficially shy village girl...
"Hey, here is Link, the wanted man!" she shouted. "Soldiers! Anyone! Come quickly!" ...and then ran top speed into one of the houses.
Well, here we are.
This was to be expected - so much so that I was ready for whatever (I think). A solider who wasn't there five seconds ago was suddenly there -- here. No words were exchanged - he just came at me as I threw my Uncle's sword onto his shield, again and again, until I snuck in one fatal blow, through his head.
And that was that; he was gone as quickly as he arrived, leaving behind five bucks which I took.
This was good; this little snafu alleviated whatever tension I had left at this point. If this was the worst sorta thing to happen while I was in town, then I could handle it. From here on in I could better focus on stuff like Sahasrahla, the sword, and apparently a textbook from the town library - which I'll save for last, as I don't really look forward to adding 10 pounds of literature to my mystical herniated disc.
There's a ridiculous amount of chickens around this place. Like, they're in peoples' homes and in the bushes. There's also a local bar that I brushed through which consisted of two patrons and no bartender.
One gentleman sat alone, on the floor, mostly asleep, but woke long enough to cry a little bit about his missing son's love of flute playing. The other guy sat at the bar, anxiously waiting to tell me - anybody - about some broad he once saw at a river or a wishing well...
"Whoa... I saw her." He didn't even lead into it - it was clearly the only thing he was capable of thinking or talking about. This was all going no place fast.
Immediately outside the bar was a man with a giant orange hat - roughly twice the size of his own head. As I approached him, he backed off some. So I stopped, and he continued backing off, to the point that he was running - way away from me.
Was I really going to have to barge in on all these homes? How many more panicky people are going to put up with my being here before we have another incident? I never even had a 'welcome' to be worn out.
Inside the house behind the bar was a kid - a small child, asleep in bed. This was awkward and a little upsetting; this situation could turn sour real fast if I don't play my cards right. I see two options: leave this one alone before someone comes in and finds 'Link the delinquent' alone with a little boy in his pajamas, or have a quick lookaround so I can check this one off my list & it doesn't wear on my mind for the rest of this trip. But it didn't matter: at that moment, the boy's eyes blinked open to find me standing there, over his bed. Unfazed, he promptly let me know what was up...
"I can't go out 'cause I'm sick. People say I caught this cold from the evil air that is coming down off the mountain."
This was by far the most unsettling revelation I'd been faced with since this odyssey began. 'Evil air?!' Can this be a real concern? The kid is legitimately sick - he's not making that up. But the truth about what he actually had and how he contracted it might be something else entirely. I'm hoping that's the case - as it is, I'm so completely run down with dehydration and exhaustion that the idea of doubling over with some medieval malady at a crucial moment makes me wanna Pegasus-run back to my uncle's house and get back into bed. I can't imagine doing battle with Like Likes and Popos while simultaneously vomiting and defecating uncontrollably all over Palace floors.
Or worse! Everyone's heard tales of the symptoms brought on by the Dark World: hallucinations, amnesia, hysterical blindness, joint and muscle fatigue, weight gain, loss of basic math skills, astral projection, skeletal discomfort, bad aim, difficulty swallowing, a low credit score, and scariest of all, metamorphosis.
That's right! The idea of some genetic mutation is unnerving on its own. But it's the scariest because, apparently, it's the most likely side effect. I've heard - like everyone else - about ordinary people changing into rabbits and toads. And it's firmly established that a boy from this town wandered into the nearby grove and turned into a fox. In all seriousness, a goddamn fox.
And now here's this kid, ill with god only knows, as proof of a potential outbreak. But as upsetting and dangerous as it is to be standing here next to him, breathing his air, this has been the most valuable information I've gathered thus far. Followed immediately by the most inconsequential thing thus far...
"This is my bug-catching net. I'll use it when I'm better, but for now, I'll lend it to you." He coughed as he handed me his tainted net, which I was either too polite or too dumb to refuse. It's cumbersome in its shape & size, though it weighs practically nothing. And if I was gonna contract anything from this boy, I'd've already caught it in the last two minutes.
I left with my new net, frightened of 'evil air,' and anxious to swing my sword into the faces, wings, and/or tentacles of anything that came at me.
I was ready to leave town - without what I came for, but with a newfound valiantness. It's not optimism as much as it is a bold apathy. I'm through trying to force this so-called destiny into shape - it should do its own damn job.
On my way out, I spotted another young boy, surrounded by chickens (again with the friggin' chickens). So I'll bring my sword and my apathy and my bug net and glass jar over to this kid & not worry about anyone cursing and causing a scene 'cause who cares, right?
A friendly greeting - fabulous!
"Elder? Are you talking about the grandpa?"
Shit got really real in that second. "The grandpa," I thought. "Maybe?"
"OK, but don't tell any of the bad people about this..."
A warmth came over me - even before he said what I needed him to say, I knew it was all going to be just fine.
"He's hiding in the palace past the castle. I will mark the spot on your map."
He did, as though he'd already had the map memorized - his hand went right to the spot where he wanted it to be and marked an X.
"Here you are..."
I looked at the map: his mark was clear on the other side of Hyrule - twice as far away from where I'd just left and a day from where I stood. No matter. I got what I came for & then some. So what now then? -- a quick stop at the library, check under a few rocks, and who knows, maybe catch bugs with my net & put 'em in my jar! Why not? For right now, and maybe only for a short time, all the obstacles seem petty, and everything else is cream cheese.