Note: There is a reference in here to events in the Ocarina of Time manga – but not in the game. If you've not read the manga or seen bits of it online, one of the bosses is given an expanded, tragic backstory. I decided to use it.
TO THE ANCIENT LAND
Chapter Six: Fierce and Reluctant Dragons
These had belonged to Link and they'd been knocked right out of him when a stone claw raked across his chest, hitting him with a force that was the rough equivalent of him falling from one of Hyrule Castle's towers. He staggered amid spats of his own blood upon the stone floor and just barely made it into a crack too small for the Colossal-lion to reach into.
He had followed the sword-light down the zigzag trail, into the ravine and up into the remains of a small temple. Upon arriving at this place, Link had felt quite confident and at ease. This was an indoor temple again – or at least the space was mostly indoors. It made him feel at home. He could see that there was not much space to work with, relatively, but he was also expecting the Colossus here to be lumbering, as most of them had been. Those that had used the air or the sand as mediums for movement had been quite quick, but all of the land-based statues had been easy to outpace and to generally work around. The sacrifices had been growing more difficult and aggressive, Link had reminded himself, but he thought he could handle another dungeon-challenge.
Now he was panting and bleeding to death. His ribs, miraculously, felt intact, but he'd been deeply wounded. He'd barely had time to register the name that had come as a spirit-whisper in his ear: "Celosia," before he was trying to dodge something as speedy and nimble as a cat, dressed in concrete and iron armor. The beast was about the size Ganon had been in full-beast form, but was several times as fast. It really should not have been possible, Link thought.
Dormin was no help. A message came in the voices, something about the Colossus "fearing the flames" that Link could barely register. He was surprised that he was still conscious. Panting against the warm stone of the altar he was pressed up to was making him feel slightly better. He turned and reached up to try to climb the thing to reach the burning censer at its top. Blood ran down his arm from where he'd been clutching his chest. A droplet of it quivered on his skin where the fabric on his shirt had been torn. It hung, suspended, below his wrist, halfway to his elbow. There, it caught the firelight in such a way that Link could see through it. Among the deep red swirled a black shadow. It was like looking at a pane of stained glass marred by smoke. It dripped and fell to the stone as he hauled himself up.
Link regretted that the Stone Mask did not work on these beasts. He'd tried it once. He forgot which of them he'd tried it on, but, apparently, it did not make him as unnoticeable to Colossi as it had to people. Maybe it was because the mask was born of stone, like they were. People may not notice a dull gray rock, but living mountains could, perhaps, recognize one of "their own." It certainly had not given him friendly terms with their kind. The rest of his mask collection had been left at home, the Stone Mask only brought as an afterthought, since he'd used it to retrieve the Master Sword and Zelda's body. He'd stashed it when he no longer needed it. Its powers would have been useful in this land if they'd worked. He truly wanted to use some sort of an invisibility cloak on this one.
Maybe it was his lightheadedness from taking what had very nearly been a one-hit kill, but Link wondered just what would happen if he could get a bunch of Colossi marching in a row as he played his ocarina while wearing the Bremen Mask – his animal-charming device. He shook the thought from his mind. Not only would it be unlikely to work, but he wouldn't survive the earthquakes, alone. The land would be pounded into dust and all the land's mountains rendered into valleys.
Celosia slammed its great head into the altar Link was standing upon. The Hylian struggled to keep his balance. One of the ever-burning sticks in the censer (how was that even possible they were not consumed to ash long ago with no one tending the fire?) was knocked loose and to the floor. The Colossus recoiled from it briefly and then resumed growling, pawing and pacing.
Link jumped down and ran to grab it. He snatched it up just before Celosia reached him. Waving the flaming torch in the air seemed to terrify the creature. Something about its pathetic whimpering tugged at his heart before the pain of a tugged muscle in his chest reminded him of his should-have-been-fatal wounds. The living-statue crept back, back, and then back some more, making its stone-slow way toward the edge where the temple floor dropped off into the canyon. Clearly, driving it down there was a key to defeating it – somehow.
The fire on the torch burnt out. Link dropped the spent stick and hauled tail. He closed his eyes and mustered up something inside him – a silent prayer to the Goddess Din – as if his goddesses could be heard in this accursed place. He brought up that which he had been using to build his cooking-fires and to warm him and light his way when even the eternal daylight felt too cold to him.
The spell of Din's Fire exploded all around him. The Colossus took notice. It backed away from the circle of flames surrounding the young warrior quickly. It had hauled its massive body along so quickly that Link did not even see its retreat. With closed eyes, finishing the spell, he heard the sound of something heavy falling upon rock and dirt and an astounding cracking sound.
The once-Hero's boldness returned to him. He had a valuable weapon against this beast that he could generate from his own body. Previously a mouse, he was now a dragon. He wandered to the edge, made haste down the edges of earth and found where his prey had fallen. Celosia appeared to be alive, but stunned. The fall had cracked the armor on its back like a cooked crab cracked from its shell. There was the soft seal, shining, beckoning to Link. He jumped off the cliff's edge, straight for the exposed, furry spine.
And promptly missed.
Link hauled himself just as a claw swiped for him. He gritted his teeth and called up his firepower again. He knew that there was a limit on how many times he could use Din's Fire – or any spell – before replenishing his energies. It worked, causing the creature to back up in fear like it had before. The young man thought quickly and brought out his hookshot before the wall of flame fully dissipated. His aim was true and, in an instant, he was riding Celosia like some men in Hyrule's countryside rode bulls to prove their toughness.
A few stabs and it was down. Link didn't even try to run from the black threads this time. He was so exhausted he was sure he'd passed out before they'd even reached him.
The twelfth Colossus was so strange that Link was not sure, after he'd bested it, if what he'd experienced had been a dream.
He'd allowed himself to heal after the last encounter, but not completely. He'd had the forethought to bring some bandages with him and he used them to cover the raw cuts. They'd shallowed considerably after he'd awakened before Zelda's altar in Dormin's Tower. All he knew was that their partial-healing had been unnatural. He'd been healed just enough to carry on.
Finding the twelfth sacrifice had been most of the trouble. The light of the Dormin reflected off the Master Sword had led him into a shady forest. Epona kept getting confused and would turn him around, taking him back the way they'd come in. This happened several times. Link wondered if he'd hit a patch of ground that was like the Lost Woods he knew, but with no music played by forest creatures to guide him.
He'd eventually found a lake that was dotted with strange shrines. It would have made the Zora people back home proud. The mountain he slew in that place had a flat back, like some sort of huge flatworm covered in thick moss and grass. It had a great iron eyeless mask with horns that shot magical lightning. It had to be magical; for it was softened by water in the way electricity generated by other means was not. The weirdest feature of the being was its teeth. Link climbed the Colossus and found stone teeth – very much like human teeth – sprouting from the very top of its head.
Figuring out how to reach its tender heart-seal was no easy matter, but Link found steering it like it was his own personal steed was rather… fun. He questioned the ethics of it – it being an essentially neutral creature that he had to torture the teeth of. His own jaw ached as he set his sword to the stone protrusions that guided the beast toward the shrine-tops he sought vantage on.
If he ever got to describe his adventure to anyone in Hyrule when it was over, he decided he might just gloss over this battle as "too weird for words."
The thirteenth sacrifice was the most difficult. It was more difficult than all of the black blood offerings that had come before and it was harder on Link than any that would come after. The actual fighting of the Colossus was a simple matter – a battle of a few stages, but not too trying to figure out. The creature, itself, was not a fierce one that fought for its life as hard as any of the others. This was one of the reasons why it was the hardest to kill.
It was a battle without honor that broke the Hylian's heart.
He arrived to the Blasted Lands upon Epona and investigated an old shrine. He was most curious about the strange circular gates that lay broken in the desert. Epona startled and whinnied when something erupted from the sands. Twisting and turning itself into the sky was a strange but magnificent creature. It was serpentine and had flukes or wings and seemed to be lifted upon billowing sacs of air. It glided upon the air as if it were not the stone-being that it was. Link spurred his mare to pursue it.
He watched the Colossus for a long time. He was familiar with dragons. One he'd faced before in the other time moved in a way not dissimilar from the way this one sailed the desert wind. Link noticed that the Colossus made no move to attack him. After having fought so many highly aggressive beasts of late, this surprised him. "Phalanx" seemed to just want to glide over its desert and seemed to be waiting for him to simply go away.
An image came to Link's mind of Volvagia gliding over the live magma of the Fire Temple. Link shook his head vigorously. Epona galloped on, pulling herself up beneath the graceful flying creature.
Volvagia… had not been a peaceful dragon, but it had been his. Link remembered the little dragonlet he'd bought at the market in Castle Town, just for the sake of freeing it. Dragons were not to be kept in cages and its eyes had looked so sad. Unfortunately, the creature had a habit of biting and spiting fire at him, but it had imprinted on him. Link did his best to care for his scaly little friend. It had even learned to call to him by name. Volvagia had followed him around up until the point he'd been sealed into his seven years' sleep. After that, he'd found the thing full-grown, a flying serpent, raging in the heart of Death Mountain, threatening to eat an entire race of generally peaceful people.
The dragon had been under a powerful enchantment by Ganondorf. An ancient dragon-spirit, an erstwhile adversary of the Goron people had been awakened within it. Whether it was a genetic memory or some other spell, the Hero of Time had not known. Link's former pet had been essentially possessed and, in the end, the only way to save the Gorons was for Link to become a dragonslayer. Once beheaded, the head, for a few precious minutes, retained consciousness and looked up to Link in recognition. Volvagia had called his name once more before dying.
He had no idea if Volvagia was still alive somewhere in this timeline.
Once again, Link was facing a dragon that he did not want to kill. Phalanx was the thirteenth sacrifice. He had to make the sacrifice to move on to complete the ritual. The hairy stone drifter did nothing at all to him. It seemed to be trying to fly away. Link grit his teeth and aimed an arrow for one of its air sacs. The spray of black blood over his head told him that he'd done injury to the Colossus.
He aimed for the others and missed several times before he forced the creature to dive. Expecting it to crash-land upon the sands, he steered Epona away hard, only to see the great being lower its four front flukes and drag them in the dust, a picture of wounded elegance. Epona turned around and charged up alongside the beast, close to the trailing "wings."
Link leapt off her and grabbed a hold. He climbed up in little hops, finding purchase upon the bony-looking flukes in much the same way as he'd ascended parts of Dormin's Tower. The wings straightened out as the creature re-inflated its air sacs and rose. It still made no move to harm the young warrior. Link leapt aboard and ran along it to find its seals. The first stab brought tears wincing out of his eyes. He almost sliced through the hand with which he was grabbing the Colossus' shaggy fur because he'd closed his eyes while doing the deed.
"I'm sorry, Volvagia," he said when he'd really meant to say "I'm sorry, Phalanx."
He managed to stay on as the Phalanx made the one move it used to defend itself – a barrel-roll. Spinning head over tail made Link feel ill. He held on tightly and saw the ride through.
He looked at the second seal as he butchered it clean. Memories came to him of the purring baby dragon he'd once known and of that great head, pleading to him in pain, not understanding why he'd had to inflict it, or why it was dying.
Link did not quite get to the third seal upon Phalanx's great body before it slithered under the sands once again. It re-emerged and the painful chase dragged on. Once again, Link shot the creature down, jumped up one of it's flukes and ran down the body of a furred serpent, past the black oil geysers he'd caused. One more session with the final seal brought the giant down. Link leapt away from the body when he'd gotten within a range of the ground that would not hurt him. He tucked and rolled and watched the sandy crash.
He just stood and stared, waiting for the black threads to come to him. "Link…" he whispered, remembering Volvagia's last words, "It hurts…"
The warrior rides toward the final stage…