This time as I exit the shrine at the maze in Hebra, rather than hug the rim of the abyss, I try going up the mountain to see what I might find up there. It’s just a couple of bokoblin camps, snow, and ice. Not a lot to write home about. I’m starting to feel the repetitiveness of the game, and this area feels like filler to me. The only reason this stuff is here is because it gives me more to do if I’m interested in trying to 100% the game.
I clear out one of the bokoblin camps, after climbing the peak of Mount Drena, and then come down southward and east, until I find the road that leads to Serenne Stable. As I approach, I’m attacked by bokoblins on horseback, and after defeating them I take one of their horses to make the road go by a bit faster. Further down the road, I encounter more bokoblins harassing a Hylian on the road, and save her; she tells me of a scientist who studies monsters, and that I might find him near a skull-shaped lake, but that doesn’t sound like anywhere I’ve been yet.
It’s not long before I reach Serenne stable. There, I show the scientist my photo of the Leviathan in Hebra, completing another portion of that side quest.
Pikango reminds me that there’s a nearby spot that looks like one of my memory photos, to the southeast, and this time rather than trying to find it by following the road, I head directly southeast as the crow flies, and after a short gallop over some fields and hills, I spot a tree that looks like it could be it. I get closer, and sure enough, I’ve found my spot.
This time the memory is of a time when Zelda tried to recruit Link to eat a frog to see what it could do to his attributes. Link did not seem very interested in eating the frog.
Originally, I thought I would try to go to the Gorons tonight, assuming that I would find them by heading north along the rim of the continent, toward the volcano. But by the time I get to this point, I’m just north of Hyrule Castle, and if I go a little further to the east, I should be able to get to where the road is again, and according to the map that will take me to the southern part of Hyrule Forest, which is below the area on the map that was shrouded in darkness where I found that last shrine that was guarded by the Hinox.
Since it seems like that would be a decent shortcut, and I’ve been hearing enough rumors that suggest I’ll find the Master Sword somewhere in Hyrule Forest, not to mention Hestu, I decide to try heading that way.
I get to the road, and start to follow it. I have a way to go yet before I will be to where I’ll need to turn to get to Hyrule Forest. To my surprise, I find yet another Stable, this one called Woodland Stable. There’s a shrine right next to it, so I go there and complete it. I find this one frustrating. There’s a chest with an Iron Sledgehammer in it, and it’s a game of Goron Golf, where I have to hit a hole in one to make an orb fly into a basin at the far end of a water-filled room. The way is blocked off so there’s really no other way to do it, and I’m pretty inaccurate with the hammer. I can’t seem to make the arrow point the direction I want when I hit the frozen object, and even when I get my shot to go straight, it either goes too far, landing past the hole and skipping out of the basin, or else falling well short.
I try repeatedly, and eventually break the sledgehammer, so I leave the shrine and return, only to find that the chest with the sledgehammer doesn’t reset, so it’s gone, and I’m out of luck. So I restore from my save point and try again, and this time after many tries I manage to get the damn ball in the damn hole.
This unlocks the monk’s chamber, but past it I see another room, where there’s another challenge, similar to the one before, this one to unlock a chest. I break my hammer, and there’s another chest with another sledgehammer in it, and I break that one too, before giving up and just completing the shrine without collecting the final chest. I bet whatever’s in that chest must be really good. I’ll have to look up and find out what’s in it to see if it’s really worth going back to collect, and if I can get the sledgehammer chests to reset (maybe at a Blood Moon? I hope?) I’ll give it another go. It’s annoying that it’s so frustrating to aim the damn time stop properly.
Within visual range of the this shrine, I spot another; a little further down the road, there’s a bridge that crosses the river that the road runs parallel to. The road I’m on intersects with the road crossing the river, and over to the left there’s an island with a shrine on top of a little hill.
I get close to the intersection, and see a Hylian man standing nearby, so I go talk to him. He talks to me about shield surfing and asks me if I’d like to try it, but right now I’m much more interested in that shrine, so I tell him I’ll come back later.
I go to the bridge, and spot a ring of rocks in the river where if I throw a rock into it, I’ll get a korok seed. I try to do it, and there’s a lot of rocks around the bridge, but I keep just barely missing. As I’m doing this, I keep getting attacked — two octorocks, and then two Yiga clan warriors: a bowman and a swordsman. I defeat them pretty handily, but it seems like this bridge is a bit more of a pain than I was looking to get into for a simple korok seed. Eventually, I figure out that the easy way to get this seed is to create ice blocks in the river and carry the rock out to jump into the ring with it, and that’s what I do. This takes the better part of a game-day, so it’s getting dark by the time I am done, and then I have to run into monsters on the way to the shrine, since more monsters always come out at night.
One thing about this game, it seems like it’s on a regular schedule there will always be a “random” encounter at specific times at night. You could literally set your clock to it. 9pm and 2am. It kindof takes the surprise out of it. I deal with the monsters that pop up at their appointed times, and then climb to a high point along the bank of the river, and glide down to the island with the shrine.
As I come in for my landing, I spot a Lizal patrolling the shore. He’s weak, and I make quick work of him. It seems that the part of Hyrule that I’m in now must have been intended for me to explore earlier than the places I’ve been recently, because these monsters are not as well-equipped, and not as tough, and overall the challenge level here feels lighter than in Hebra or Gerudo. I kindof feel like the game should be adjusting the challenge level to my power level a bit, to keep things interesting.
The shrine is covered in thorns, so I set them afire using my meteor rod, and when they finish burning, I clear the shrine. This one is a water puzzle, with a pump that I need to turn on, using a couple of different methods. The water level rises to allow me to cross and get to the monk’s chamber on the other side, and there’s a chest that I skip, because I figure at this point any weapons I’m going to get out of these shrines are going to be weak compared to the ones I already have, and I don’t want to take the time to figure out how to gain access to the chest, because the solution isn’t immediately obvious. I take the spirit orb and leave.
By now, I’ve wandered a bit further south of my turn to take me to Hyrule Forest, and I’ve forgotten about my Master Sword quest. Exiting the shrine, I spot a column of smoke rising nearby, and decide to investigate. It turns out it’s bokoblins, and I clear out about five of them, squatting in the ruins of an old stone building from the kingdom of Hyrule. One of the bokoblins is really tough, and white with stripes, and seems like he’s a shaman or something. He doesn’t have strong weapons, but does have a lot of hit points and takes a lot of hits to take down. He drops a lot of loot. I encountered one of these earlier and took him out at range with arrows and bombs, and it took a long time. This time I hit him with my Attack-rating 60 Guardian Axe++, and it still takes a good 7 or 8 blows to kill him. Dude.
A little further down the river, I spot a Zora, who sees me as well, and calls out to me. She tells me to hurry to meet with Prince Sidon. This is the second time now that I’ve run into a Zora who wanted me to talk to the Prince, and this time I decide to go find him. I do so, and Prince Sidon tells me to head to Zora’s Domain, and to follow a long, twisty path. It’s raining and so climbing will not be possible, and I have to follow this long, twisty path. Did I mention it’s long? It is long. And twisty. And there are monsters. Prince Sidon warns me they use electrical attacks, but gives me an elixir that gives me a defensive boost against electricity for 6 minutes. I don’t bother using it, and just equip my rubber armor that I picked up in Faron.
I head down the trail, and it takes a really long time to get to the end of it. At least 3 different times, I figure I’m probably there, before I actually get there. I mostly encounter lizals, and most of them are fairly weak, although there are some who have lightning arrows. The lizals drop a lot of extra arrows, which is super convenient because I’ve been running somewhat low on them, and this affords me opportunity to stock up on them. Many times, I get the drop on my adversaries and kill them before they even know what’s going on, but a few times I have a legitimate combat encounter. There are at least two spots where I end up in a crossfire with 5-6 lizals shooting lightning arrows at me, and this is almost challenging — it forces me to focus and try, but I’m never in serious danger, although at one point I get annoyed that they keep hitting me with their lightning arrows and cause me to drop sword, shield, or bow. I finish them off and eat a food, and move on. My Knight’s bow is strong enough that I can one-shot them if I get a headshot with a normal arrow, which makes these encounters reasonably easy, while still engaging enough to be fun.
After a long time and many encounters, I finally reach Zora’s Domain, where everyone encourages me to go talk to the King. There’s a shrine in the middle of the Zora city, so I go unlock it first.
The shrine puzzle is tricky. There’s a large inclined plane, a ramp, and water is running down it. A large number of immense stone balls fall from holes in the ceiling at the top of the ramp, roll down, and fall into a bottomless pit. Off to the left, there’s a basin just the right size for one of these stone balls. I try time-stopping one, and hit it a few times, nudge it toward the basin, and after a few tries, I manage to get it in.
I puzzle over this, and look around carefully to see what’s changed, but nothing seems to be different.
I decide to try to risk going up the ramp to see what’s up there. Along the ramp, there are a variety of block platforms built into the ramp, which seem to direct the falling orbs as they roll down the ramp. I use them as cover to take refuge from the falling orbs, and get to the top without too much trouble. I find a chest, with a weak Zora spear that isn’t any better than anything I have in inventory, and when I get to the very top of the ramp, the balls stop falling from the ceiling, as though the shrine has shut off.
There’s a large glowing orange orb sitting in a basin at the top of the ramp, but it seems to be immobile.
About halfway down the falls, there’s a laser beam firing from the wall, intersecting a large block. It doesn’t seem to be movable, and I don’t see what purpose it could have. Ignoring it, I turn my attention back to the glowing orb at the top of the ramp.
I note that it is the only orb that glows, and none of the other stone balls that rolls down the ramp seems to. I realize that the glowing orb is the special ball , and it needs to roll down to the basin at the bottom of the ramp. But now that I’ve managed to get one of the wrong balls into the ramp, I can’t get it out.
I leave the shrine to reset it, and return. I run up the ramp to deactivate the falling balls, and then work out a manner to get the glowing orb to roll down to the bottom of the ramp and get it into the basin. This is accomplished with carefully placed ice blocks from my Cryonis power, and some timing. It takes 2 or 3 tries to get it right, but I work it out, and the ball goes into the basin, and the monk’s chamber opens. I collect my spirit orb, and note that I now have 12 of them in my inventory. It’s time to cash them in for some heart containers and stamina containers.
Exiting the shrine, I look around and take a tour of the Zora city. I find a lot of Zora people and talk to as many as I can find. Many of them recognize me, much to my surprise, and I gather through talking to them that I was especially close to their champion. In fact, I think… we were a couple? Weird. Many of the older Zora resent me and they seem to blame me and the Hylian race generally for the death of their champion. The other Zora are friendly and seem to be happy to see me, welcome me back to their domain, and seem relieved to see a hero who can help them bring their Divine Beast under control. They all urge me to go talk to the King.
I find the King and talk to him, and some lengthy story unfolds via cutscene. Vah Ruto, the elephantine Divine Beast of the Zora, is amok, and to stop it will require lightning arrows, which the Zora can’t handle or use, being aquatic beings who are susceptible to electrical attacks. So they could really use my help.
Link regains some of his memories, and we see a sequence where the Zora champion, Mipha, and Link share a bonding moment while she heals him. She even made a suit of Zora armor for Link, which is something normally done in Zora culture by Zora women for the Zora man they will marry.
Wow. Um. Ok.
Well, at least that removes the Link-Zelda love interest angle.
One of the elder Zora, Muzu, advisor to the King, doesn’t like me still, and it takes a little more to gain his trust. After the initial conversation with the King of the Zora, I have to go find him and convince him that I’m OK and can be trusted. All it takes is changing into the Zora armor. And the game even tells you to do it. It’s so direct and easy, I wonder why it’s not just built into the scripted cutscene.
At any rate once Muzu thinks I’m OK, it’s time to go face Ruto. Prince Sidon tells me to join him, once I have 20 lightning arrows. I already have over 50. If I want more, there’s monsters nearby who drop them who I can seek out and fight. I guess that’s what’s next. But I’m probably ready right now to take on Vah Ruta.