Dawn had come upon the forest, the rays of the sun penetrating through the ancient woods, casting shadows of immense proportions on the forest floor. Already many of the forest dwellers had come out of their dens, while other were now returning to them, their nocturnal habits coming to an end for the day. The daily cycle was beginning once again, a process that had been going on for ages and would continue to do so in the future.
A Hylian stag, most likely the same one that had nearly been killed by Link the day before, was nibbling on the leaves of a small bush as rabbits darted back and forth between its legs, intent on feeding on the fresh grass shoots that had grown overnight. Above them, a small flock of Keese were making their way back to their den, exhausted after a long night of hunting insects, when they nearly collided with a being of the forest, a Skull Kid, who leaped across their path, swinging a horn in his hand as he made his way through the realm.
Watching all of this was a large female Wolfos, who, unlike the rest of her pack who were in the middle of a hunt, was instead watching over the packs pups. As the young Wolfos chased and wrestled with one another, the female suddenly looked up and growled, causing the young to quickly retreat behind her. The female had smelled the scent of a human, and as it waited, it saw the source walk down past them, not even noticing them. When the green-clad being vanished from sight, the young pups once again began to play with each other, unknowingly learning the skills that they would one day use when they were fully grown.
Link continued on down the path through the forest, having left the village during the early morning in order to avoid a commotion. As he continued on, even though the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest were overwhelming his senses, his mind soon wondered to the thoughts on whether or not the village would be at risk, especially if the soldiers from before could locate it-.“Greetings weary traveler!”
The sudden outburst caused Link to instantly come out of his daze as he quickly turned towards where the voice had come from. The source was soon apparent, coming from a young brown-haired man standing on a nearby log. Dressed in a tunic and a layer of leather, he laughed heartily before saying, “Don’t bother running, I can see that you are frozen in fear. I don’t blame you, for you are in the presence of the greatest highwayman in all the land, the legendary Toruda!”, after which he struck a triumphant pose.
Link was dumbstruck for a moment, completely unsure of what to make of the guy. For one, he seemed only a few months older than himself, and besides the dagger held at his side, was apparently not very well armed. After another moment of silence, Link finally said, “I’ve never heard of you.” as he began to scratch his head in confusion.
Nearly stumbling as he heard this, he quickly retorted “Um… I mean the greatest highwayman in the region?”, the comment clearly indicating how unnerved he had become.
Link simply stared at this point, and then said, “I am from this region… and I’ve still never heard of you.” and then crossed his arms as he waited for another excuse.
Clearly caught off guard once again, he quickly said, “Well then you simply have not heard of the mighty Toruda. Well today it your lucky day as I’ve decided to spare your life and- where’d he go?!” Looking back and forth, he quickly caught site of Link who was heading down the path.
Staring, his mouth ajar, he yelled out “Hey wait a mom-“ before slipping on a patch of moss on the log and falling face-first into the dirt. Slowly raising himself up, he said, “Why did you…” but stopped mid-sentence as the bushes on both sides of the path began to give way, revealing pig-like blue humanoids. He simply uttered “Bokoblins…”
Even as Toruda spoke, Link had already unsheathed his blade and readied his shield, and apparently had done so just in the nick of time as two of the beasts charged him, hefting their machetes over their heads as they ran at him. Swinging forward, his blade found its way through the gut of the first one, surprising Link by the fact it had not attempted to defend itself. It was then he realized he wasn’t facing skilled opponents like the soldiers from beforehand, and this fact bolstered his confidence. Raising his shield, he deflected the second Bokoblin’s swing, causing it to loose its balance before being finding itself stabbed through the gut by Link.
Turning about, Link saw that Toruda had his back against his a tree as three Bokoblins slowly approached him; the only thing keeping them at bay was the pitiful dagger in his hands. One of the Bokoblins laughed at this and then raised its machete as Toruda stood still with fear, his pallid face stricken with horror. Before it could bring its weapon down, however, a blade cleaved through its arm, causing it to shriek in pain before the same blade continued on through its back. As it collapsed, the other two turned to Link, their eyes filled with anger, and moved towards him. Reacting quickly, he swung his shield, bashing it against the face of the one on his right before slashing his blade upward, slicing through the chest.
Beaten and bloodied, and apparently having realized the two were more trouble than they were worth, both quickly ran off, joining the rest of their group as they vanished back into the woods. Watching them flee, Link sheathed his blade onto his back when suddenly a pair of arms wrapped around him. Caught off guard, he feared the worse when he suddenly heard Toruda say, “You saved me! I owe you my life and I’m now forever in your debt…” He then awkwardly released him and said “Oh wait… I never got your name…”
“It’s Link… and you owe me nothing. I did what anyone would do, even for someone like you.” Link replied, before heading off down the path once again. Within seconds he could hear the footsteps of his “companion” catching up to him, and a mere glance over his shoulder revealed him to now be carrying one of the Bokoblin’s machetes in his belt. Stopping and looking back, he saw Toruda do the same, attempting in vain to pretend he was simply passing by. Continuing on again, he soon heard him follow again. This continued for several more minutes. Realizing now that he wouldn’t be losing him anytime soon, Link sighed and said, “Well if your going to come with me, just don’t get in the way. I’m on my way to Hyrule castle.”
“Hyrule castle you say, I’ve been their a few times a couple of years back. I could bring you their.” Toruda said, and then continued on to say “Well if were both going there, there is something you should know… I’m not really a highwayman.”
“You don’t say.” Link replied blandly. “Okay then, what are you really?”
“Well… I’m actually… or was, a goat herder. But not anymore, you understand, because that wasn’t the life for me. Now I’m an adventurer, though I’ve never actually left this area… due to the monsters you understand. But now with my smarts and your brawn, we can go anywhere we want without risk, because you would have to be an idiot to dare take us on.” Toruda said as he slapped his hand against Link’s back. He was then quiet for a moment, deep in thought, and then said “What takes you to Hyrule castle anyways? Seems like a pretty big walk from here to there.”
Link wondered whether or not he should tell the man, and then decided that he wasn’t much of a risk, if he was ever one at all. “I’m going to alert the ruler that invaders have destroyed the village of Sorac, and-“
“Invaders? What do you mean, who would attempt to invade Hyrule? Such a thing hasn’t happened in ages, or so I’ve heard.” Toruda interrupted, apparently shocked.
“Well, they wore this strange black armor I’ve never seen before, and one of them mentioned a Lord Zenith… sounded foreign. We’ll know soon enough when we reach Hyrule castle… by the way, how long should that be?” Link said, hoping that this would be enough to convince the man.
“Hmm... that doesn't sound like any kind of soldiers I've heard of, nor do I recognize the name. As for making it to Hyrule castle, well, it usually takes a day or two, but since I’m guiding you, we’ll be their sooner than you think once were out of this forest.”
Darkness had fallen over the forest, and a cooling fog now covered the ground, thick enough that one could not see beyond ten feet of them. Already small flocks of Keese were now hunting for insects, their screeches echoing for miles about. One of them, however, had failed to make out the web before it and was now at the mercy of a rather hungry Skulltula that slowly made its way towards it.
Down below on the forest floor, Toruda was holding out a lantern, illuminating the trees around him with its light. He mumbled under his breath, saying, “I was sure the path was over here…”
“Are we lost? Oh why did I trust you in leading the way?” Link angrily said, holding his hand to his head in anger. He was prepared to say something else when his next step went through the fog and then fell through thin air. Caught by surprise, he fell forward, tumbling down a hole hidden by the mist. Sliding down the walls of the tunnel within, he soon hit the solid stone floor of the cave at its bottom. Slowly rising to his feet, holding his back in pain, he heard the faint voice of Toruda coming from the hole above him, saying “Link! Are you okay? Don’t worry; I’ll try to find another entrance! Meanwhile, try to stay where you are, I’ll find you!”
Not particularly comforted by this, Link nonetheless rested against the cave wall and prepared to wait for Toruda. It was then he felt something sticky on the wall. Putting his hand to his face, he saw a white, silk-like material now covering his hand. It appeared to be a… cobweb. As he looked about, his eyes soon adjusted to the darkness, and he saw that his surrounding were all covered in the substance. He then noticed bones strewn about the cave floor and tangled amongst the webs on the wall, all of which had been picked clean.
As he pondered the significance of this, he suddenly had the uncanny feeling that he was being watched. Slowly turning around, he came face to face with a massive, glowing yellow eye that focused on him, glaring at him with an intense fury.
Frozen in place as he stared into the unblinking eye, its owner stepped forward, revealing itself to be a massive spider. The beast, Gohma (Armored Subterranean Arachnid), bared its fangs before screeching and moving in, prepared to feast on the newest prey to fall down into its lair.