Tales From Hyrule is my creative nonfiction series following my adventures through my first ever Zelda game: Breath of the Wild. It’s set as a series of journal entries chronicling everything that happened through gameplay days.
I awoke to find myself in an unfamiliar place, with far less clothing than I would have liked. There weren’t many answers to be found, aside from the strange voice echoing in my head that led me to something called a “Sheika slate”, stored in a glowing pedestal. Nothing else seemed to be there so I made for the door, not knowing what else to do. Upon exiting the chamber I woke up in, I found some chests that provided me with clothing, ragged though it might be. Now that I was wearing more than the shorts I had awoken in, I felt a bit more comfortable.
The so-called “Sheika slate” proved to be the key to exiting this cave, and I stepped out onto a cliff that revealed the vastness and wonder of the world beyond. Swaying, verdant plains gave way to lush, almost imposing forests, and steep, icy mountains flanked the valley like ancient frozen defenders. Great buildings took up space as well, a grim, abandoned looking temple to my right, and a dark, impossibly large castle looming straight ahead. As I took in my surroundings, I noticed a campfire down the hill and what looked to be a person waiting nearby. Hoping they would know more about what was going on, I headed down to greet them.
Along the path, I discovered a few items of value. A tree branch, while not the most fearsome weapon, still seemed better than facing the world with nothing at all, and some mushrooms that seemed edible. With my new supplies in tow, I continued down the path to meet the stranger at their fire. He was an old man wrapped in a black hooded cloak. A long white beard grew from his chin, with eyebrows to match. He greeted me warmly, but gave few answers about who he was.
Luckily, he was willing to tell me a bit more about the land I had found myself in. The Great Plateau, he called it. Then he pointed to the temple I had spotted earlier and told me of the legends that surrounded it, before sending me on my way with an offer of assistance and advice should I need it. I took a torch and a baked apple sitting nearby, with his permission, and struck out on my own.
Just past the stranger’s camp, I found a large ax wedged into a stump. I pulled it free and carried it with me. The world felt slightly less intimidating now that I had something a bit more hefty than a simple tree branch. As I continued on, I heard the same feminine voice call out to me again. It asked me to head towards the marker that had suddenly appeared on the Sheika slate. Listening to the voice had kept me safe this far, so I decided to heed the call and make my way towards the little yellow dot on the slate’s screen.
As I crested the hill towards the marker, I came across two large, brown beasts that attacked me on sight. They had wide, bat-like ears, upturned snouts, and small horns atop their heads. Blunt clubs and simple bows rained damage upon me and it was only thanks to the ax I had found that I was able to fend the creatures off. I had survived, but the encounter had left me weakened. I ate the apple the old man had gifted to me to regain a bit of strength. Feeling better, I continued over the hill to the location the voice had sent me.
Below the hill, I discovered a small chamber which housed another pedestal similar to the one I had removed the Sheika slate from. I placed the tablet into the pedestal, and suddenly the room began to shake around me. Runes carved into the stone lit up, as the floor shot up beneath me with a roar. In an instant I found myself at the top of a tower tall enough to look across the whole plateau and even beyond. In the distance, I could see other such towers rising from the earth as well.
Turning back to the pedestal, I saw blue light shifting across the node above it, until finally it dripped down onto the Sheika slate like water. The machine gave a musical beep and as I picked it up again, I realized that a map of the area had become available. I stepped back from the pedestal, only to hear the voice once again. This time, it seemed to be emanating from the dark and distant castle I had spotted on the cliff.
It told me to remember, and spoke of a beast that would soon bring ruin to this world if it was not stopped. With a tinge of sadness, it told me I had been sleeping for one hundred years and begged me to hurry, before it was too late. Then the voice faded, and I was alone atop the tower again. With nothing left up there, I began the long climb down. Though I was careful, I slipped more than once, and reached the bottom a bit worse for wear. Imagine my surprise when the old man from before came soaring out of the sky and landed beside my as I was licking my wounds.
He asked me about what had happened in the tower. I told him of the voice I had heard, but he seemed disappointed that I didn’t recognize it. Then he pointed to the dark castle, and told me of Calamity Ganon, the creature that had brought ruin to this place one hundred years ago. It had been sealed in that castle since then, but it looked as though that time was drawing to a close.
The old man questioned if I would be heading to the castle, and I told him of my intention to do just that. He explained to me that the plateau we found ourselves on was surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs. To try to climb or jump down would be suicide. But he offered me a way out in the form of a bargain. The stranger showed me a structure across a small lake, glowing with bright orange light. He said that a treasure could be found inside, and that he would trade me his paraglider for it. Without any other options for getting off the plateau, I agreed and made my way towards the glowing building.
At its entrance, I discovered another pedestal with a space just large enough for the Sheika slate. Upon inserting it, an elevator activated, and I descended into the building. The elevator opened into a large chamber, with a wrought iron grate lying on the floor. In the corner, I spied another pedestal. Used to the routine at this point, I walked over and fit the slate into the slot. The runes above it glittered and dripped onto the screen. This time, instead of revealing a map, a rune appeared on screen. With it, I gained mastery over magnetism.
With my newfound power, I was able to shift the grate aside, revealing a ladder leading down to another chamber below. I climbed down, and found myself in a canal of sorts. Making my way down the stone pathway bordering a small stream, I eventually found a staircase leading up to yet another room. A large stone wall blocked my path, but there was one brick that looked different. On closer inspection, I realized that the strange brick was metal, not stone.
The magnetic rune made quick work of the wall, pulling the metal brick out and causing the rest to topple. Beyond it, I was greeted by a room full of water and stone islands, the first of which hosting a mechanical spider creature that instantly became hostile. A blueish-white beam shot from its head, doing a significant amount of damage. Luckily, the beam took a moment to charge, so I took the opportunity to strike at the machine with my ax. Just as it was about to fire off another shot, I struck the final blow and it scattered into nothing more than scrap metal. I gathered the parts that looked useful, and made my way across the metal bridge before me.
That bridge became key, as there was no other way to cross the next gap. Using magnetism once again, I shifted the bridge I had just crossed to ford the water separating me from the next island. With it safely in place, I was able to head across. This last island held a massive metal door. I pulled it open with the Sheika slate, and found a strange monument before me. A withered creature sat cross-legged on an elevated slab, surrounded by a wall blue light. I ascended the stairs leading up to the creature and gently pressed my fingers against the light.
“You have proven to possess the resolve of a true hero,” the creature said. “I am Oman Au, the creator of this trial. I am a humble monk, blessed with the sight of Goddess Hylia and helping those who seek to defeat Ganon. With your arrival, my duty is now fulfilled. In the name of Goddess Hylia, allow me to bestow this gift upon you. Please accept this Spirit Orb.”
As the monk finished speaking, a shining violet orb emerged from its chest. It floated across the space between us and phased into my own torso. Instinctively, my hand went to my chest, bracing against the strange tingling the orb left in its wake. With a final blessing, the monk faded into glowing green dust and disappeared. This so called “Spirit Orb” appeared to be the only treasure within the shrine, so I made my way back outside to find the old man.
He was easier to find than expected, coming out of the sky once again on his paraglider. I was taken aback when he commented on the Spirit Orb now in my possession. How could he have known? He gave a cryptic answer when I asked, and mentioned something about the Orb, the towers, and the Sheika slate all being connected. Going on, the stranger told me of the Sheika tribe, who’s technology had apparently once saved the kingdom, but it had been lost long ago. Until now.
Shrines like this, he said, were located all across the land, and could now be accessed thanks to the little tablet on my hip. Three more could be found on this plateau alone. And then, to my surprise, he demanded the treasure from those shrines as well in exchange for the paraglider. I was outraged. I had just delved into the unknown to get this treasure for him, and now he wanted more? Every part of me wanted to storm away, but as he quickly pointed out, I didn’t have much choice but to comply. In the sly way I was starting to grow accustomed to, he told me he had another trick to help me find these other shrines. Still irritated, and in need of a rest after braving the shrine, I told him to wait and headed off to take a much needed break. I’ll deal with the rest of those pesky shrines in the morning.
All image credit to Polygon (because I spaced and didn’t take screenshots for the first like 2 hours of the game)