Link moved so fast that the man had no chance to react. Within a second he had him pinned with his back to the bars of the cell with a knife pressed to his throat. He was a hylian, but a ragged one. His clothes were starting to wear through and covered in dirt.

'Hey! I done nothing to ya! Lemme go!' The man gasped, trying to talk without moving his neck and trying desperately not to swallow.

'Explain yourself, or lose your jugular' hissed Link, putting a little more pressure on the blade. Navi, still flustered, hung back. She had seen Link act like this before, and knew that it was better not to interfere at all.

'I'm just a prisoner here, like you!' The man stammered, 'I was scouting for General Skent when these stupid boulder heads caught me.'

'Who is General Skent?' Link's voice was still low and threatening, and his dagger hadn't moved an inch.

'Where've ya bin for the last few years?', he gave Link a slightly quizzical glance, then continued. 'He's the General commanding the Princess' war efforts against the Gorons. He's infamous throughout this region, and for good reason: he's forced them out of every citadel this side of the mountains, 'cept this one, and that's only 'cos he didn't know it was there 'til we found it.'

Link's arm was shaking slightly now, he was breathing deeply, trying to control himself.

'You mean to say that you work for the man that's been wiping out the Gorons?' He hissed, 'Give me one reason why I shouldn't kill you right now.'

'The hell? Who are-' the prisoner suddenly stopped, his eyes quickly scanning Link's outfit, and glancing over at Navi, who was hovering apprehensively behind them. 'Holy...you're him! The Hero!' His eyes grew fearful as he considered the implications of what he had just said. His face sank, 'Oh gods, please don't kill me!' He begged, 'I'm just a soldier! I just follow orders! I'm only-'

The man's whining was cut short by a loud cry from the corridor outside the cell. The guard had returned, with company. The Goron who had accompanied the guard stood almost twice as high as his brethren, and had the huge, rock encrusted fists of a warrior. Link had only ever seen one Goron this size before. Letting the hapless man in his grasp fall to the floor, he walked towards the newcomer.

'Darmus? By the goddesses, is it really you?'

The huge Goron's face brightened. 'Link? What are you doing in there? I thought the guards had caught another scout from that mushie general.'

'Your guards obviously don't remember me.' Replied Link, his voice heavy with relief, 'I'm so glad you're here.'

'It's good to see you too, hero, but you haven't answered my question, what were you doing in the mountain passes in this weather?'

'Running, again, I'm afraid, the Princess discovered my position, and I had to get out fast. The quickest and safest route seemed to be through the mountains. I wasn't aware that the Gorons had any citadels this far east.'

The huge creature looked at the cell bars for a second, then grabbed two and bent them apart, signalling for Link to jump through. 'The mountain routes are no longer safe, the Princess' armies have been watching every pass for movement.' He said, effortlessly bending the bars back into place after the hero. 'The Hylian armies have been forcing us further and further from the Death Mountains, some of our bruthas stumbled across these old passages whilst hiding from Skant's troops about a year ago, since then we've been renovating it to withstand a siege.' He beckoned Link to follow him as he walked out of the cave and into another corridor.

'The Hylians are currently massing in the plains below the mountain. The only viable avenue for them to attack is up the valley on the southern side, but their army is big enough to cause us serious concern.' He and Link emerged from the tunnel onto a large outcrop of rock overlooking a deep, wide valley that stretched out to the vast, green plains that bordered the mountains' southern edge. The storm had passed, and Link could see the lights of a huge force of enemies encamped on the plains beyond the valley mouth. Darmus turned to him, looking down directly into his eyes, 'We've lost too many warriors already, even the citadel won't protect us for long. We need your help again, hero.'

Link looked out over the valley, dimly lit by the moon's silvery light. He looked up again at his battle scarred old friend, then looked up at the mountain behind him.

'I might be able to give you a hand, if you can get me Epona back.'

The End

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