Having met Riju, and having been alerted of an attack on a nearby bazaar, I naturally left the Gerudo Desert completely, to focus on some me time. My aim was to complete a few side-quests, and see what they might yield. First, I went in search of Dinraal, the fire dragon. I headed north of the Eldin Mountain, and then travelled west, along the top of the map. Along the way, I encountered the skeletal remains of a great beast, and at the behest of an admirer of said beast, put one of its fossilised eyes back into its head. This marked the completion of a completely different side-quest, and I carried on with my little journey.
I came across another shrine, and as with a few of them, I could not quite figure it out. The shrines had become a source of frustration to me by this point. They had lurched from being quite easy, to a tad annoying, to very, very irritating. I had several I needed to go back to, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. I will grant that the frustrations were probably as much to do with me as with the shrine design, but in my mind, this was the first little blow to Tears of the Kingdom. I always felt that Breath of the Wild’s shrines were doable, if I applied some effort. I wasn’t getting the same feeling here. All I could do was treat the shrines as travel points, and carry on.
I found Dinraal, and gained a claw from the rather magnificent dragon, which I took to the final spring, and thus restored the Goddess Statue in the Forgotten Temple to her full glory. I was rewarded with a Sword of the Sky, which looked suspiciously like the Skyward Sword from, um, Skyward Sword. Yet another connection to that game…
In the span of my travels, I unlocked more of the map (to the east), and then ventured to the Great Plateau, to see if I could A: acquire more Yiga armour (which I did, in the form of a mask), and B: uncover the secrets of the Temple of Time Ruins. It took me a short while to realise there was an old gate at the front of the plateau, and when I blew a hole in it, I was granted a new mission. Underneath the Temple of Time Ruins was a mine, and within the grounds of the mine was a four-eyed statue, only all its eyes were missing. It bequeathed unto me the task of returning its eyes, so to that end, I had to find the eyes, which were near chasms, drop them down the chasms, and then transport them to the statue.
This was quite laborious work, involving rail carts, gliders, and a lot of huffing and puffing, but eventually, I got all the eyes to the statue. It rewarded me with a heart container, which wasn’t bad, though I had wondered if the entire sequence might trigger something much grander. Still, it was another demonstration of the complexity and layers to this game. Speaking of which…
Up in the sky were little star-shaped islands. I had landed on a few of them, and they had tablets with text that Link couldn’t read. Some of them detached from the island and fell to the ground, and one fell into a chasm. Was this significant? Could I find a way to translate the text?
Meanwhile, at the other Temple of Time (the intact one in the sky), I spotted a glowing pillar of green light from the top of it. I only found this because I had ventured back to Kakariko village, intending to use a balloon to float up to the sky islands above the town, in the hope that I might find a way to get to the final stone tablet there. The balloon failed, but my trip to the Temple of Time’s roof sent me on a mini quest to lie three fires, with the condition that I couldn’t touch the ground. The use of waterfalls and Zora armour proved crucial here, and my reward was material for a new glider, and a brief story about how the sages used their power to send the temple to the sky. That way, it was out of reach of the Demon King.
With all of that done, I figured the best way to get to the sky islands over Kakariko was to unlock the Sky Tower. This one had been out-foxing me. There was a guy who wanted mushrooms, or so it seemed, in order to have the strength to open the doors, which were stuck. There was a cave below the tower, and I explored it, found some mushrooms… and the repair guy wasn’t interested. After killing a nearby hinox, I still couldn’t figure it out. I dare say that here, I wavered slightly. My wife googled this particular task, and told me of a third entrance to the cave. I had wanted to avoid any form of guide, but I was utterly stuck.
It turned out that advice was, well, meaningless. The third ‘entrance’ wasn’t an entrance, but rather an exit. I wandered the cave again, and after a bit of trial and error, used the uplift power to pop up in the Sky Tower. The doors were jammed by a pair of wooden spears; with those out of the way, it was an easy matter to open the doors, repair the tower, and from there, unlock the map. Next, I took a trip to the sky islands, and unlocked a shrine challenge that involved a large, rotating platform.
After overcoming this challenge, I continued to potter around. In truth, I was putting off the main quest, so I could roam the land, and enjoy the game. To that end, I found myself tackling a number of side-quests.
I must confess to another, tiny use of assistance here. I desperately wanted to reach the fifth Ring Ruin at Kakariko Village, but the professor, one Dr Calip, would not let me through. I confide to using Google to figure out the answer, which lay in completing a lot of side-quests. My chief mission would be to work with the newspaper and follow the leads on Zelda. This would mean a lot of travelling, but before I got stuck into that particular series of quests, I aimed to complete another set. Convincing all of the Great Faeries to reveal themselves would let me upgrade my outfits, improving their defensive qualities, and with the right parts, open the door to further enhancements. Of course, none of this would be that simple.
To gain the trust of the faeries, I had to first reunite a travelling band, and each new member was, naturally, going to need some form of assistance of their own. One was stuck in a pit, along with his wagon. Another wanted honey to make crepes. The final band member wanted me to help him light up a tree with fireflies.
With each successful recruitment (or should that be re-recruitment?), I then had to steer the band to the location of the fairy, which was at times, a trial in itself. Still, eventually, I had all the faeries on my side.
Along my travels, I dealt with a few more shrines, and also confronted three hinoxes, that had taken up shelter in some caves to the south. The act of exploring the caves to find the trio of giant beasts was almost as entertaining as the battles, all of which proved to be quite easy.
The course of missions to confirm the identity of this mysterious ‘other Zelda’ led me all over Hyrule. In no particular order, my quests included: the curious case of a song coming from a well (it turned out to be a random lady practicing her singing), the mission to follow a random lady to her trapped friend (which turned out to be a Yiga trap). There was the previously-mentioned golden horse assignment, and there was yet another Yiga trap, which this time involved a Yiga clan soldier disguised as Zelda herself, over at the Duelling Peaks.
After completing nine such missions, I was being to wonder where they might end! Each one was connected to a stable; I had to wonder how many stables were left!
Oh yeah, I ran into an old… adversary.
We end this chapter with the quest to find a stable, somewhere in the north-east. Will we find it? I hope so!