The Mysterious Woods
Session 9: Nov 10, 2019
Snow was falling in Mabel Village that morning and each of the new sentinels felt rested despite the strange visions that they all saw. Namika was reading her book while Zedeki still rested, and Ophinia and Gongu headed out into the marketplace to gather the things they needed for their journey. Gongu, reeling from the smells in Crazy Tracy’s Potion shop, picked up the heart potion. Ophinia went to Bladon’s smithy and retrieved her weapons, then ventured to the stables and acquired her horse, My Lady.
At the Little Fish Inn, Zedeki awoke. He and Namika spoke about their strange dreams and about the weapons they carry with them. The Ancient Katana was like the Sacred Rito Bow: both were teeming with magic, but neither Namika nor Zedeki could properly use them. It was not long before Ophinia and Gongu returned.
The question they all asked each other: “Where do we go?”
Their paths ahead were shrouded in mystery, and as they all discussed their dreams, it was clear that Hylia was trying to guide each of them. But to what end, and where? The sentinels had a few ideas of where to go. First, they could follow the maps of the masked people and find out who is their leader. Second, they could travel to Skygarden and get their sentinel papers signed. Third, they could go to Oldtown and find out what happened to the supply wagon for the Southern Lighthouse.
The debate ended in a stalemate; no one knew exactly where to go. They could, however, agree on one point: the sentinels should continue to travel together until more knowledge of Calatia could be ascertained.
Zedeki suggested that they talk to Dax and see if he had any information or guidance. When the sentinels arrived at the jail house, they found Dax extremely irritable and with a somewhat fresh wound in his abdomen. Dax explained that Ulrira, the former Elder of the village, was to be exiled from the town and sent to Skygarden or Oldtown. But upon release, Ulrira stabbed Dax with a shiv and ran away into the night. What was worse, Dax explained, is that he discovered a very familiar map with the words “Meet here” written on it, pointing towards the mountains.
Ulrira was in league with the masked people. That had settled it for the sentinels. They gathered their supplies and made ready to follow Ulrira north into the Blackbite Woods and meant to apprehend him before he got to the meeting place.
Before they could leave, Dax presented them with a box and a note. It seemed that Beedle, who had gone north through the woods with a caravan, returned late last night, evidently scared of things in the woods. His message to the sentinels told them that he was spooked by the woods and instead headed to Oldtown. He left for them Kinstones, a magical stone ring that would allow them all to send messages and help each other. Dax also owned a Kinstone and linked it to theirs. He asked them to message him occasionally and let him know that they were okay or if they needed anything.
After purchasing a heavy net and a map of Calatia, the sentinels set out into the Blackbite Woods. Dax warned them that people called them ‘The Mysterious Woods’ due to the very strange occurrences that happen. “Stick to the path,” he warned. “Do not leave it if you can help it. The woods are dangerous, even if you stay on the path. There is a safe house halfway through, and you can reach it in a day if you move quickly. From there, you can turn east and go into the mountains. I will contact you if I learn anything more.”
The sentinels entered the forest and immediately were overtaken by how dark and foreboding they seemed. The trees were very tall and their branches were horribly tangled, such that very little light could shine through to the forest floor. Zedeki flew through the branches and up above the trees so that he could better watch over the party while they traveled, though he had difficulty keeping track of them through the leaves. Occasionally, Namika felt as if something was watching them and she could see pairs of glowing eyes in the far distance.
The woods were largely quiet, with the only noises coming from the sentinels as they hurried through the woods. A few hours had passed and Dinlo and Salath, the two Marshals from Mabel Village that were accompanying them, began asking where they were headed. Gongu and Ophinia began to joke with them and having fun, and Whisper and My Lady seemed entirely undisturbed. Namika, however, felt that something was wrong.
“Hold on a moment,” she said. “You two… where… where are you from?”
The Marshals looked shocked. “Namika, we’ve been with you for weeks, ever since you came to Calatia! Don’t you remember us?”
Ophinia laughed. “Yes, of course, Nami! They’ve been helping us this whole time. Gongu, remember the story about the goat that Salath told us?” Gongu laughed heartily, remembering Salath’s crazed tale of the goat that had chased them throughout the Mabel City Cistern.
“That’s not right,” said Nami. “They weren’t there. We’ve never met them before. Something’s wrong.”
“Come now, Nami!” said Dinlo. “We’re all friends here.” He raised his hand to clap Ophinia on the shoulder. But when his hand struck her, Ophinia felt this intense burning through her back as Dinlo grabbed her and pulled her from My Lady’s back. Nami grabbed the reins and pulled My Lady away from Dinlo. Behind her, she heard Gongu shout as Salath grabbed him around the neck.
“Zedeki!” she called out, drawing her bow.
Zedeki, having sensed the commotion below, had begun watching the party between scanning the horizon. He saw the two strange figures and had begun to descend, but quickly dove when he heard Namika cry out. He struggled through the branches of the trees and saw two strange creatures with gray skin and glowing blue eyes scratching and biting at Ophinia and Gongu, hissing “Friends…..” as they tore at them.
Whisper shook off the spell and tore at Dinlo. Ophinia raised her axe and shouted, slamming the axe down into Dinlo and creating a blinding light as radiant energy washed over him. She held the axe into Dino’s chest and moved her body, allowing Whisper to jump and tear his head off.
Salath bit and scratched at Gongu. Zedeki and Namika both put arrows into Salath’s body, throwing him back. Gongu howled as he fought back. He clanged his sword against his shield like a hammer and anvil, and a fiery magic sprung up into the blade. He plunged it into Salath and the monster shriveled and fell to pieces as the fire turned him into ash.
And then, they all remembered! There was a woman in black robes that had appeared before them. She cast a strange spell, and suddenly Dino and Salath were their companions! These two evil ghouls had traveled with them for hours, slowly gaining their trust before going in for the kill. Only Namika could shrug the spell off slightly. It was as Dax suggested: these woods were certainly mysterious.
The sentinels continued, this time at a somewhat slower pace. They were ever vigilant if the woman in black should reappear.
Hours passed before they heard screams to the west.
“Help me! Someone!”
“It’s off the path,” said Gongu. “We shouldn’t get off the path.”
Zedeki shook his head. “It sounds sincere. I can’t leave someone out there like this. We should investigate.”
“My Lady cannot go through this thicket,” said Ophinia. “I won’t bring her into danger. I’ll remain behind.”
“I’ll go with Zedeki,” said Namika. She climbed onto his back and the two flew towards the screams.
They did not fly far before they found the source. A young Hylian woman was clung to a tree, screaming for help. She saw them approach. “Wow, I didn’t honestly expect anyone to hear me. Totally ready to die!”
“What’s going on?” asked Zedeki.
The woman pointed down below. “The slimes… the Like Likes. They… uh… they ate my spellbook. And one of my shoes, apparently. Chased me up this tree, yep! If I go down there, they’ll eat me, too!”
Zedeki and Namika looked down. Sure enough, there were two large Like Likes at the base of the tree, both trying desperately to climb after the woman. They made a quick plan: Namika would distract the Like Likes while Zedeki secured the woman and got her to a safer place in the tree. When she was safe, they would dispatch the Like Likes.
The plan did not go off without troubles. Namika found that the trees were made of very flimsy branches, and she fell to the ground. Fortunately, that was enough to distract the Like Likes. Zedeki got the woman to a safer position and he and Namika slew the Like Likes. The woman recovered her book and shoe from the bodies.
“Thanks for saving me! Hi, I’m Nobira!” said the woman.
“Hello, Nobira,” said Zedeki, introducing himself and Namika in turn. “What were you doing out here in the woods all alone and off the path?”
“Well, I was with the Courageous, which is funny because I’m not that courageous at all, but we got lost going through here because the woods are freaky and we got attacked, so I went to run and I got separated from the others, then I got ambushed by the Like Likes and that was, like, a few days ago, so I haven’t been able to use my spells because my book was in that one and it was gross, and-”
Nobira continued for far too long, agitated and very excited to be safe. Namika, rubbing her back from the fall, just waved at her. “That’s enough, thanks!” she said. “We need to get back to the path.”
Zedeki flew Nobira back to Ophinia, Gongu, Whisper, and My Lady. Gongu had lit a fire, and he and Ophinia helped Nobira get warm and eat some food. Zedeki went back to bring Namika while Nobira rambled again, explaining that the Courageous were a group of Hyrulean immigrants in Calatia that worshipped the Hero of Time. The Courageous had learned of the prophesy that the Hero of Time would soon resurrect in Calatia, so they had to prepare the way for him by helping the Calatians.
Between Nobira’s rambling speech, Ophinia picked up that Nobira knew about the safe house.
“Oh the safe house?” quipped Nobira. “Sure, now that I can see the path, the safe house should be just north of here. I don’t think it’s far, but it’s going to be night time soon so we should probably get going. I think I can lead the way.”
And so, the sentinels followed Nobira through the woods. They continued to look around them for more signs of danger, seeing that the watching eyes were now getting closer as the sun began to set. Nobira seemed lost at first but was soon able to find familiar trail markers. After a few hours, the sun was almost down and the watching eyes were not far away from the party as they moved. Zedeki descended from the sky again.
“It’s almost night,” he said. “But I saw a light up ahead. It’s not far.”
“That’s it,” said Nobira. “That’s the safe house. But be careful when you go in. The woman in there that’s in charge… She’s kind of mean.”
The sentinels came to a small clearing and found what appeared to be a house built into a large and gnarled tree stump. Warm lights glowed from its windows and a singular lantern was lit by the front door. Next to the house was a small horse stable with straw and hay in the corner. Setting up My Lady for the night in the stable, the party approached the door. There was a sign next to it: “Safe house. Boots stay outside!” A pair of old boots were next to the door.
Ophinia knocked. A loud voice from inside yelled, “Richard!”
Ophinia looked to her companions. They all shrugged as she knocked again. “Richard! Get the bloody door! We have guests!”
The door opened by some invisible force. The sentinels looked inside and saw that the safe house was much larger on the inside than it appeared. They saw a long hallway lit with lanterns that lead to various rooms with a large parlor at the back. The place seemed very welcoming, despite the shrill voice that next yelled, “Don’t just stand there! It’s as cold as Forever Winter! Get inside, but leave your boots out there. Richard isn’t particularly gifted with a mop. Richard, take their coats!”
The invisible force began tugging at their cloaks and hung them up on a coat rack on the wall. Ophinia and Namika nervously removed their boots. The party stepped inside, but Nobira shoved past them, calling out, “Hello! I’m back!”
“Oh, wonderful…” said the shrill voice.
The sentinels moved down the hall and into the parlor. As they moved, Gongu put on one of his blue rings and changed his skin color. The parlor was light by a very large fire. Near the fire was an extremely old Sheikah woman, bent with age, stirring a large cauldron with a long spoon. “Come in already,” she said as they entered. “Take a seat if you want. Not much stew left, I’m afraid. I wasn’t expecting any more company this late. Richard, get the bowls!”
Near the fire was a very large and very old goron with blue and white skin and a beard nearly as long as himself. When the sentinels arrived, he politely waved before remembering that his large stone and metal bow was in the chair next to him. He quickly removed it and motioned for the sentinels to take a seat. On the floor next to him was a large white wolf. In another chair was a man draped in rags and cloaks with wrappings all over his skin. A fairy with a dull purple glow fluttered aimlessly around the room.
“I’m Elsith,” said the woman. “Call me a witch if you want, I don’t care. Who are you all?”
The party introduced themselves. When Gongu spoke, Elsith looked at him for a moment. “Something’s wrong with you, look at your skin. What’s your name?”
“Er… It’s Ugnog,” said Gongu.
“You’re lying, Hyrulean,” she shot back, smiling with crooked teeth. She pointed to her head. “And take that blue ring off, you look silly. I’m reading your thoughts, kids. Don’t lie to me! I don’t take kindly to liars. I can read your minds if you want, or you can just tell me: why are a bunch of Hyruleans in this old country? And what brings you to my safe house?”
They told her of their travels and adventures, and their plans to go into the mountains to find Ulrira and the masked people. As they did, Ophinia set down her weapons and sat next to the man in the wrappings. He stared at her axe. “You wield one, too,” he whispered, nodding to his own axe behind him. “Why an axe?”
“Family heirloom,” she said. “And you?”
The man in wrappings didn’t say anything for a moment. “Family heirloom,” he replied.
Ophinia felt awkward at the silence. She pulled out her deck of cards and offered them to the man. “Care to play?”
He responded with only silence.
The blue goron looked at Whisper and then at Gongu. “That’s so strange,” he said. “You’re not an Ice Goron, and yet you have an Anima.”
Gongu looked confused. “You don’t know what is an Anima, but you have one?” said the goron. “Well, I can help with that! My name is Koragath, and his wolf friend of mine is Frost. She’s an Anima, too. Let me guess, your wolf comes back from the dead if you use some magical spell or something, right?”
Gongu was shocked. He remembered Hylia’s help when Whisper had died. “Yes, that’s true.”
“That’s an Anima,” said Koragath. He explained to Gongu that Animas were special magical beings that bonded with the Ice Gorons, and the Ice Gorons could use special magic to keep them alive. With the help of Anima Totems, special magical powers could be granted to the Animas.
Gongu produced the black totem that Huk had given to him a week ago. “You mean something like this?”
“Yes! That’s an Anima Totem!” said Koragath. “But you don’t have a collar for your Anima. I have a spare, if you want it.”
Namika spent much of the evening talking with Elsith. Unlike the others, Elsith seemed to love Namika (though Nami thought this may be only because they are both Sheikah). Elsith told stories of how she and Koragath used to be sentinels together when they were younger, but Elsith has since retired and became the steward for the safe house in the Blackbite Woods. Elsith gave to Namika a new Lens of Truth and identified the sealed book Namika recovered in the Cistern as the Book of Raqa, a historical and religious text of ancient Calatia. Unfortunately, Elsith was not able to unseal the book.
“What about this?” said Nami, showing her katana to Elsith.
“Oh ho! How exciting!” exclaimed the old Sheikah. “This is one of those ancient katanas! They’re important somehow, but I never had one myself. These things are divine. At least, that’s what I had always been told.”
While Ophinia, Gongu, and Namika were conversing (or, in Ophinia’s case, attempting conversation), Zedeki simply watched. His gaze kept returning to the fairy fluttering around with the dull purple glow. The glow reminded him if Il, the obnoxious fairy that worked with him on Nayru’s Blessing.
“Well, I’m old and tired, so I’m going to sleep,” Elsith announced. “The safe house is protected well enough tonight, and you can go visit your horse if you want. But stay in the yard! Do not go out into the trees. Can’t guarantee your safety out there.”
Elsith hobbled away. Koragath had fallen asleep while speaking to Gongu, and his Anima, Frost, was snoring quietly. Somewhat dejected, Ophinia followed Elsith out of the parlor. “Do you have a shrine to the Caretaker here?” she asked.
“No gods here,” sneered Elsith. “Not that I’m aware of, anyway. But there’s a statue of the caretaker in the washroom if you want to get religious.”
Namika, Gongu, and Whisper went towards their bedrooms. Zedeki watched as the man in wrappings slowly got up and left, too. Nobira excused herself and disappeared down the hallway. Zedeki was alone with the sleeping Koragath and Frost, and the fairy still flying overhead.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She stopped and turned to him. “Esola.”
“That color on you,” said Zedeki. “I’ve seen that purple color before. Why-”
Esola cut him off. “You’ve seen another fallen fairy?”
Zedeki was taken aback. “Fallen fairy?”
“It means my Eakus, my kokiri, she’s… she’s dead.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that,” apologized Zedeki. “I didn’t mean to upset you or anything. What happened?”
“Eakus is dead…. She’s dead… he’s dead… the twins… they’re all…” rambled Esola. “I’ll just live forever like this now.”
“This is what happens when you… fall? Can you bond with another kokiri?”
“When Eakus died, a part of me… a part of me died, too. I’ll never glow bright again.” She fluttered away out of sight. Thoughtful, Zedeki got up and walked down the hallway towards an empty room.
Ophinia found the small statue of the Caretaker tipped over in the washroom. She righted the statue and said a quick prayer. Remembering the Kinstone, she activated it and sent a message to Dax. “Sorry for the late hour. We arrived at the safe house.”
After a moment, the response came to her mind. “I’m glad to hear it. Stay safe, Paladin.”
As she turned around to leave, the figure of the man in wrappings blocked her path.
“I overheard what you said to Elsith. You’re hunting in the mountains” he asked in a raspy voice.
“Y… yes,” she replied.
“Do you want company?”