Pikango tells me one of my photos looks like it was taken nearby, across the river, in a wooded area northeast of a swamp. I head out from Wetland stable to check it out.
Near the Wetland Stable, by the river bank, there’s a man named Izra looking into the water. I approach him and talk, and he tells me he sees a treasure chest in the water that he can’t get to, but wishes he knew what is inside of. I guess this is the designers’ way of making sure that you know about underwater chests in case you’ve never seen one by now. Since I’ve seen probably over a hundred, I know exactly what to do. I use magnesis to pull it out of the water, and open it. It’s a royal broadsword, and I have to ditch one of the royal broadswords already in inventory in order to take it out and show it to Izra. Izra says I can keep the sword, and he is impressed by my powers. Thanks, Izra.
I cross the river and there’s a footpath leading to the south along the bank. As I walk along it, I’m attacked by three Yiga swordsmen, one at a time, in separate incidents. They have some new attack modes that I haven’t seen them pull before: an attack that transmits through the ground, creating an updraft that I can use to glide away to escape it, but if I don’t it knocks me off my feet; I use the glider to get away, and drop down on the swordsman. These guys are nimble and get out of my way quickly, so I resort to taking shots at them with the bow when they are out of range, just so I can get some damage in. I can also stun them with a bomb. They’re hard to hit with a sword.
The third swordsman dies right at the site of the memory photo location.
I watch the memory. Link and Zelda are on the run, in full retreat after a disastrous defeat at the hands of Calamity Ganon. The Guardians, the Four Divine Beasts, all have turned against them and all seems lost. Zelda blames herself for failing to harness her powers. Link awkwardly comforts her.
I have but one remaining photo to find.
I turn my attention now to completing side quests. I look over my Adventure Log and see what’s left. There’s a bunch of Zora Domain quests, and a couple of shrine quests: the Spring of Power, the Eventide Island. I haven’t been able to get a Dinraal scale, still, and I don’t feel like attempting Eventide right now. I want to wrap up things that are quick and easy.
There’s an odd sidequest called Xenoblade Chronicles Crossover, which has to do with these red falling stars that you can find in the sky in different places. I think originally there were 4 or 5 of them to find, and now there’s just 3. I have occasionally spotted a red falling star at night when I’ve been out adventuring, but haven’t really sought them out. The first one was way early in the game, when I left Kakariko village for my first memory photo quest on the road to Lanayru. There are clues for each of the remaining ones; one is in the Left Eye, which I take to mean the Left Eye of Skull Lake. I transport to the shrine there a few hours before nightfall, and sure enough, not long after 9pm a red shooting star falls from the sky.
Now that I’ve tracked down star fragments, I think I should find here this one lands, and see what it drops. I spot the beacon as it shines, and mark it on the map, and head in that direction. It is not terribly far away, and it’s a chest. I open it, and there’s a suit of armor inside. It’s low-powered, and confers a bonus to swimming, the same as the Zora armor I already have. So I don’t really need this, but I guess it’s neat.
I wonder how many other unique/rare items I missed by not trying to find the landing spot of a red meteor. Now, there are just two more left in the world to find. One is at the longest bridge, which has to be the bridge at Lake Hylia. The other, I’m not sure.
I have a lot of Zora quests to complete, so I transport to Zora’s Domain and start on it.
The first one is to slay a Hinox who lives nearby. No problem. I run out there and brutally murder the sleeping Hinox, and it only manages to get off a single attack at me before I drop him.
Next is the matter of the missing Mei, who was washed away down river by the torrents of mighty Vah Ruta. I start off going down to the river below Zora’s Domain and follow it. Along the way, I find a korok seed or two, a hidden treasure chest, a few weak green lizals, who seem to drop a bunch of arrows, to the tune of 5-10 each, which makes me glad to kill them. There’s also some ore spots to bomb, but mostly I’m looking for Mei. I have no idea where to find her, and her husband said that she could have washed all the way down to Lake Hylia which is a LONG way away.
I continue to travel down the twisting Zora river, and encounter a young Zora girl, who seems like she’s way too young to be out by herself, especially this far out, with so many lizalfos about. I talk to her, and she is sending a letter down the river in a bottle. She has a pen pal, and I guess she has a crush on him, but she wants to know what kind of person they are, so she asks me to go and follow the note as it goes down the river, and see who has been receiving them.
This is a pretty involved side quest. I have to follow this thing down the river, keeping it safe from breakage, and it’s slow going. I can hop in the water with my aqua gear equipped so I can swim fast, and just let the current take me, but it seems to go a little faster than me. If I just tread water, it doesn’t take any stamina, but if I move, I use up my stamina bar and I can’t recover without getting out of the water and standing.
This is the way I do it on the first attempt, which fails when the bottle gets stuck at one point, and I pick it up and try to throw it in the water, but it breaks on the rock wall of the far bank.
Cursing, I run all the way back to the little girl and she says no problem, she’ll just send another note, and I can follow that one.
I do it again, and this time am successful. The note rides the current all the way to a lizal complex, where I have to fight several lizalfos, and also break a barrier fence in the water that is designed to catch flotsam that streams downriver. In the midst of the combat, I lose track of where the note went, and have to look everywhere, underneath all the platforms in case it got stuck again. I can’t find it and am about to give up, when in the far distance on the shore of a cove, I spot something that is too tiny to see clearly, but I think may be it.
I whip out my Sheikah scope and get a better look, and that’s what it is. Relieved, I run out that way, and as I get closer I see a Hylian man who is living out of a lean-to.
We talk and he tells me he wants to go meet his pen pal and soul mate. I think this is creepy, because this man is fully grown and looks to be in his 30s or so, while the girl could have been about 4 or 5, maybe 6 at most, at least in human equivalent. It does seem that Zora live longer than Hylians, but how much is unclear, as there are numerous Hylians who are advanced in their years but who were adults around the time of 100 years ago when Hyrule fell to Ganon, but there are Zora who are also from that time who are still apparently fit and in later years of their life, but not absolutely ancient.
Still, if Zora live longer than humans, then a young, immature Zora would be worse to date, one would think. This seems icky-creepy, and basically cross-species pedophilia, and I’m disturbed by it. WTF, Nintendo?
Seriously, WTF? The inter-species thing is pretty weird to begin with, but for F’s sake, make the Zora chick old enough to be dating.
According to the adventure log, I’m supposed to transport back to Zora’s domain to see what’s going on with them. I find them, and they’re a happy couple now. Ick. I was really hoping that they would meet and realize that they were not right for each other because their ages are so off, but remain friends… but no, they’re lovey dovey love birds in love. Ew.
In thanks they give me 300 rupees, which considering the effort involved in tracking the stupid note, is barely adequate. I actually consider restoring back to a point before I accepted the quest, but unfortunately the game doesn’t record save points going back that far, and autosaves have already overwritten past that point.
Seriously, Nintendo. Update the character model for the Finley when you release another patch for this. She does not need to look like a freaking toddler. That’s all you need to do to rescue this.
Back to the search for missing Mei.
I transport down to a shrine near the point in the river that I reached when I was following the note, and go past there to a stretch of the river that is familiar to me — I’d been this way relatively recently, when I was exploring the roads north of Hyrule Castle and trying to find the map towers to the northern provinces.
I’m at the point in the river where there’s an island with the shrine that was covered in thorny brambles that I had to burn away, and the bridge that crossed the river where I had to throw stones into a circle to bring out the korok who lived at the bottom of the bridge, and kept getting attacked by octorocks and Yiga swordsmen.
I haven’t seen a sign of Mei, and despite coming so far, there’s a long, long way between here and Lake Hylia, and I’m sure I’ve skipped over tons and tons of shoreline, and Mei could be literally anywhere. It seems like an extremely wide area to have to search to find her. I consider cheating and looking up the location(s) where shy may be found, but I don’t do it. I think this is the game designers’ way of giving me reasons to explore this part of the world map, so I will do it, even though it might take me an extra week or longer, or I might never find her.
A short distance past the bridge, I come to an area where there seem to be a large number of the giant skull caves, and many of them are semi-submerged in the river water, and all of them are green, as though covered in moss. A noticeable change in the geography. A short distance in to this new region, and my shrine sensor starts pinging off.
I take a brief detour and head in the direction of the shrine signal. Walking towards it, I come to a large, hollow Deku Tree stump, inside of which I encounter a yellow wizzorobe and a couple of baby stone taluses, all of whom I kill pretty easily, and then I’m attacked by some weak bokoblin skeletons because it’s night. I destroy them quickly, and continue searching for the shrine. I find it eventually, inside another hollow Deku Tree stump, and enter it.
It’s another Modest Test of Strength. I gear up and fight the shrine guardian. It’s not a difficult challenge by now, I know what to expect. I’ve picked up on a few things as well. For example, when the shrine guardian gets to about 1/2 of its hitpoints, it starts doing this turret spin move where it shoots a laser in a circular pattern, which generates an updraft. I’d never tried jumping the laser before, always just got hit and knocked back by it. But now I know that I can ride those updrafts and it enables me to get in close and deliver a hit on it with my melee weapon rather than relying on bomb arrows to finish it off.
I feel like I still have a lot of things that I need to learn in order to fight proficiently. For the most part I just run up to things and bash them, and don’t do trick moves like the jumping dodges, backflips, parries, and shield strikes that require a better sense of timing than I have. And for the most part the combat challenges in this game are really lightweight, making it an easy enough game for casual gamers to play in without feeling too frustrated.
I’ve definitely been frustrated at times in this game, but it’s mostly been because I can’t figure out where a shrine is that’s been pinging nearby forever, or I can’t figure out the solution to a puzzle. If I get completely stomped in a fight, I don’t think it’s because the fight was unfair, I think it’s because I lack weapons, armor, and heart containers. But, really, I probably could handle a lot more combat if I really knew how to work Link’s move set and extract maximum advantage from it.
But mostly, due to the temporary, fragile nature of your weapons, I do everything I can to avoid melee, and instead fight as much as possible using dirty tricks and indirect methods like bombs, dropping boulders from above, and metallic items that I can slam enemies with using magnesis. So in a lot of ways, the game dis-inivited me from discovering, practicing, and mastering the advanced combat moves in the game. I think of this a weakness of the game’s design. Only now that I’m fighting Lynels am I starting to understand that there’s some deeper power moves that I haven’t really tapped into.