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Chapter 23: Dungeons
Chapter 23: Dungeons
Mega Man found himself lying on his back, deep within a realm of darkness. The high fall had disoriented his sensors and he recalibrated them as he stood back up with a groan. The light was coming down from the opening where he had fallen, casting him in a peculiar natural spotlight.
Shaking his head to clear the cobwebs he called out, "Link? Link!" He waited a bit. "Are you there? Link?"
No answer. Something may have happened to him. Perhaps the crows nabbed him. Or he could have been able to fend them off. Nonetheless, Link wasn't there. Mega Man was somewhere under the lost woods and he had to get out of there. Jumping out of the pit wasn't an option, much too high. He had no rope to climb out and no way of making a ladder either. He had experience in situations like this before and there was always some alternate path. He felt around the walls, using infra-red vision to navigate around the chasm. His sensors picked up an unusual outcropping of dirt and roots. He touched the projection and it gave way, falling inward. A door opened up for him and he eagerly passed through it.
He now found himself in the middle of a man-made corridor, made from tile and brick. Torches lined the walls at regular intervals. Archeological designs were inked on the walls, apparently made with no special meaning in mind. There were two paths for him to take, east and west. Both ends tapered down to darkness. Neither way appeared better than the other. He needed to find the one that would lead him back above ground.
An abrupt squeaking sound alerted him. It was similar to a rodent from his world, but much deeper and larger. He set his arm cannon ready just in case.
Sets of glowing red eyes blinked open in the darkness above. Bats.
The eyes flipped over and began flying at him, shrieking like demons from hell. They were twice the size of normal bats, with fangs and hooked wings. They swooped in and began fluttering around Mega Man's face, picking at his metallic shell, at the synthetic skin on his face. The robot flailed his arms, trying to keep them away, not wanting to hurt the innocent animals outright.
"Ackk, get away, get away," he shouted. The bats continued their assault. Mega Man opted for an easier route and scurried down the hall to the right, his vision partially obscured by the leathery wings beating down on him. He shut them to protect his eyes and held out his hand in front of him before he ran into something. Out of a brief blink, he saw a door just ahead. He put his legs to maximum output and began outrunning the bats. As soon as he opened the door he curved around smoothly and shut it just as the bats caught up. He could hear the soft impact as the rodents hit the door, scratching, trying to win their prey. Mega Man relaxed and turned around.
Unfortunately, it appeared that he just ran into a dead end. This unusual room was walled in with gray-green brick. There were four armored statues, two on the east wall, two on the west, and a wide full-length mirror at the end of the room, in which Mega Man could see his semblance. The robot looked around for an alternative means of escape as he moved forward. Moving back out the door probably wasn't too safe - those bats were voracious. They would be ready to strike as soon as he walked out the door. Of course, if there was no way out in here, that could pose a problem. He could dig out, maybe, depending on the strength of the brick. Or he could go back and face the bats, maybe engineer some sort of strategy so they weren't all on him at once.
Mega Man noticed behind the mirror there was a large painting hanging on the wall, stretching to the ground, almost like a mural. In it was some sort of round, cowled creature with yellow eyes and four hands, each holding a torch, spread out like a star. Each of the torches had a different colored flame - red, blue, green, and yellow.
Something set Mega Man's bewilderment off. This was obviously not a conducive environment to be displaying valuable art. Plus the picture's aesthetic value was nil, at best. Something about this room wasn't clicking with him. The knight armor's, the mirror, the painting. Something was really screwy about this.
Mega Man trodded back in front of the painting and gazed at his reflection. Maybe there was some sort of answer in here. But what was the question. The question was how to get out of here. This room offered something in that way, either some sort of passageway or something else. It would have to be something valuable or else it wouldn't be encoded like this.
Encoded. That was it. The problem wasn't to find an answer, it was to find a solution. The materials he needed were in this room, he had but to activate them the right way. And the key was in the painting. Mega Man turned around to the knight statues. They were holding their cupped hands out as if they were holding something... or waiting to hold something. He turned back to the mirror. If he stood just right, the angle of the mirror and the placement of the statues' hands would show whatever the knights were holding in roughly the same position as it would in the painting. But where would he find torches?
There were some out in the hall, but they didn't match up with what the creature in the art piece was holding, and neither were they colored. Mega Man inspected the mirror. It was framed in gold or brass casing with a small skull-head emblazoned at the top. It looked like it belonged in some swashbuckler's quarters. It was also in the same dimensions as the painting, further proving his hypothesis. But how would he get the tools to solve the puzzle?
He looked around the back and saw four torches in place-holders, unlit and ready for use. Excellent. Mega Man took one and placed it in the hands of the nearest knight. Now he had to figure out how to light it, though. He had no fire weapons, that would have come in handy now. Nor anything to strike a flame to. Mega Man could see how this puzzle was meant for the people of this time. They would have elements for making fire with them nearly all day, especially adventurers like Link.
A plasma shot might generate enough heat. It might also disintegrate the torch. It was a risky maneuver, but he was seeing fewer and fewer choices, short of opening up his heating coil. He would have to aim his arm cannon just above the wick so the shot would just graze it. Plasma was highly volatile and hard to control in its state, much like fire. Mega Man did the appropriate calculations, held out the torch and his arm cannon at the precise number of degrees he thought it needed and fired. The shot flew in the air, singing the torch and hitting harmlessly against the wall, leaving a scorch mark. The torch, after a spark, lit a brilliant purple. Success! Mega Man put the torch into the knight's waiting hands and grabbed the other torches.
Obviously since there was already a burning flame, there was no need to repeat the experiment. He held each of them to the lit torch and they each ignited into luminescent red, yellow, and blue respectively. Mega Man couldn't find any reason why the similar torches would be burning different, and such unusual colors, but now was not the time to find out. With the torches in place, each knight holding one, he stood in front of the mirror.
There were four torches in place, one in each corner of the mirror, burning brightly. But nothing was happening. Mega Man checked back at the painting. Maybe the colors needed to correspond with where they were in the creature's hands. He went to work replacing the torches, switching them around until they matched what was in the picture. When he was finished he stood in front of the mirror again. Nothing was happening.
This was strange. Maybe he was going about this wrong, using the wrong logic. Whoever built this room was from a world where they didn't think like he thought. All Mega Man could do was process the problem logically and find a best solution. And he thought he had. The torches were exactly parallel to the creature, in the same order. They looked like that was where they should go. The picture should have been a mirror image.
No, not a mirror image. That was the problem. He was looking at the painting in the mirror. But if the picture was reflecting in the mirror, the image would be reversed. Mega Man switched the torches from one side of the room to the other, setting the torches to what they would be if the creature were holding them in front of the mirror itself. As he placed the last torch in the knight's hands he heard a click.
He turned to the mirror, thinking something had unlocked. Within the reflection, the ghostly figure from the painting was holding up the four torches. But this was real... and floating behind Mega Man.
The robot quickly turned his head to look at it, but the ghost was not behind him, not outside the mirror. He turned back to the reflective pane. The mirror had vanished, disappearing with vaporizing puffs of smoke. In its place a small treasure chest remained. The painting itself somehow spontaneously unhinged from the wall and fell face forward, revealing a door.
A little off-put by the strange encounter, he approached the treasure chest and took a look inside. There was a shiny silver metal key lying in the bottom. Just in case, Mega Man took it, not really knowing why he would need it, but thinking it would be best. Certainly wouldn't want to be kept out of a locked door by a key he had the opportunity to get before. Pocketing the object, he opened the door and continued on.
Link hunkered down in the tree trunk as the birds passed overhead. They apparently didn't see him duck in here so he kept silent until he was sure they had passed. His eyes were kept skyward, looking for an indication of the birds. The trunk was damp and cold, keeping him shrouded in shadow. He thought he should have felt cowardly, but his self-preservation instincts justified his actions. The sound of wings flapping and their calls eventually faded away. He knew Mega Man hadn't made it as far as him and was wondering where he had gone, hopefully not attacked by the crows.
The green-clad hero emerged from the trunk and looked around. The birds had flown away and sky had become cloudy, darkening the forest.
"Mega Man?" he called out quietly. He began retracing his steps back to where they had entered. "Mega Man? Where are you? Are you here?"
Walking back down the forest, he tried to remember where he had stepped, what path he had taken when running from the crows, difficult to do in a panic. He found a pit in-between two trees that he had gone around before, wondering whether Mega Man had done the same. Part of the grass on the ledge had been ripped off, indicating that someone had fallen down and tried to grab the edge. Link feared for the worst.
"Mega Man! Mega Man! Are you down there?" he called out.
The pit was too far down for him to jump safely. He had no rope to climb down with either. Link wondered if Mega Man could even survive a fall down that far. He could be lying down there right now, unconscious, bleeding, or dead. Maybe he could use his hookshot to repel down there, but the mechanism didn't work that way. Kakariko village was nearby. Maybe he could get some help there.
"Why if it isn't Sir Link," a voice said.
Link turned around and saw an old woman walking towards him. The same old woman he had taken shelter from earlier. She was still dressed in a tattered gray robe and carried a pile of firewood.
"You gave me such a start after you had left. I was wondering what had happened to you, perhaps the moblins had come to capture you."
"No, I had a rather important dream I thought I should follow up."
"Next time, you should really wait until morning before heading out on a whim like that. I had planned on giving you a hero's surprise when you woke up."
"Oh? What was that?"
"Oh, a big breakfast. One worthy of someone such as yourself." The old lady strutted up next to Link and peered down into the hole. "Lose something down there?" she asked.
"Possibly. I need to get down there in a hurry. A friend of mine might be down there."
"Oh, really. Then if you'll allow me to repay the kindness you showed me..." She put down her firewood and stepped behind the tree, pulling out a long ladder behind it. "I've hidden this here to get down myself."
"What do you use it for?"
"Oh, for storing things, treasures, the little money I have. You never know when thieves will come back. They might still be hiding behind the trees, ramming you and snatching what they can."
Link nodded in agreement. He helped the woman by taking the other end of the ladder and lowering it down into the hole. Just as they were about to run out of ladder it hit bottom. Link immediately started climbing down, and the old lady followed him.
At the dirt bottom, Link jumped off the ladder. No sign of Mega Man anywhere, however there was a doorway opened up. He cautiously cantered in and found himself in the middle of a temple hallway. Strange that this would be under the lost woods. The old lady snuck out from behind him.
"Looks like your friend got away," she said.
Link looked back and forth at the two ends of the hallway. "Yeah, but which way did he go?"
The woman stooped close to the ground. "The footprints seem to indicate he went that way," she sped off with her nose practically rubbing the floor.
Link looked down and didn't notice any footprints. However, the lady was already running off in an easterly direction. "Hey, wait," he called out. He began running after her.
He followed her down the corridor at a fast jog. She was surprisingly fast for an old woman. She stopped at a door as Link caught up with her.
"He must have gone in here," she said. "Open it."
Link opened the door and walked in. It was a large room with four pillars standing around a colored tile.
"Where is he?" Link said as he entered the room.
"Hmm, he must have gone in the secret entrance."
"There's a secret entrance?" Link asked as he stepped into the room, looking around.
"Yes," she said, still poised near the door. "Try hitting that tile in the center of the room."
Link looked back at her, standing next to the slightly red raised tile in the middle of the pillars.
"This one?" he asked.
"Yes, that one, press it."
Link stomped his foot on the tile. The four pillars began regressing into the floor, making the horrible grating noise of stone scraping against stone. Link could see the tops about to reach floor level and noticed they were holding some sort of object on them. As they reached eye level he realized they were red Cyclops statues. He whipped around to the old woman, who was standing in the doorway.
"Ha, ha, ha. Remember, Link, no good deed goes unpunished."
As soon as the pillars finished going down the Cyclops' slowly opened their eyes as Link's head darted around frightened.
"Goodbye, Link," she said. "Spill lots of blood for me now." She shut the door and locked it.
The cyclops' eyes opened wide. They began charging Link.
Next Chapter: Karma