Link and Navi descended into the tunnel. When they reached the bottom where it leveled off, they spotted light flickering at the end. They proceeded with some trepidation until they reached the room where the light was.
It was relatively small though still large enough to hold several Gorons. It was also quite hot and stuffy. There was a smell of soot that pervaded the air, making Link sneeze. Soot itself pervaded much of the décor in the room, like the red banners, which bore the symbol that Link had seen on the door, and the length of carpet that ran from the entrance to the back where a blocky statue of a Goron stood. Hanging on the walls near the back were what appeared to be three sacks made of scaly material and they bulged as though they contained something. On either side of the statue, as well as the entrance, were burning torches that sent up a dark haze - the sources of all the soot.
And standing in front of the statue with his arms crossed was a Goron that Link decided was the meanest he had ever seen. He stood a head taller than his brothers and his lumps were more chiseled. He sported a thick, spiked beard that grew all the way up to his ears, and bushy eyebrows overshadowed dark eyes that glittered with intelligence.
No wonder they call him Big Brother, Link thought, his heart fluttering nervously.
Big Brother frowned in a way that Link knew was meant to say, "I mean business. I am not someone to fool around with." But when his eyes darted down to the boy, they widened in surprise and his frown creased deeper into his mouth.
"What is this?" he roared. "What are you doing here?"
Link gulped and hunched forward. He answered as meekly as he could, "My name is Link. This is my fairy, Navi."
Navi nodded and bowed respectfully.
The big Goron did not look taken. He growled, "That song is one that only members of the Royal Family know, so I thought I was talking to their messenger, but instead I get…" he waved his thick arm at Link, "...you! A kid!" He folded his arms again and threw his head back as he roared, "Is this some joke? Am I not the sworn brother of the King anymore? Am I not worth his time? Go back to the King and tell him to honor my request!" He swept his hand out in an angry gesture.
Link leaped backwards out of the Darunia's reach. He tensed himself to run just in case the big boss of the Gorons decided to come after him. His fairy stopped him and then flew up to where Darunia could see her.
"We did not intend to offend you, but Link here has been sent by the Princess of Hyrule to save the land. It was not meant as a joke but because the Princess believed that he was destined!"
Link kept his head down and tried not to think about how the Goron boss would react to this.
Navi continued bravely, "We have been sent here on a mission. Not only by the Princess herself, but also by the Great Deku Tree, a deity of our forest who was very wise and very kind. Both he and the Princess believed this boy is capable of accomplishing his destiny and I have already seen his acts of bravery and kindness."
Link's face went very red, but he wasn't sure if it was because he was embarrassed or because he was nearly upside-down, forcing the blood to rush to his head.
"We are willing to help you, but we do not mean to imply that you are weak or helpless. There is no need to lose your temper. If you were to calmly tell us what assistance is needed, we will be glad to help you. We offer our respect to you but only if you show respect to us."
Link expected to have the breath knocked out of him any moment now. He was sure Navi had crossed the line and the Goron leader would be very angry. But when the blow (or roar) didn't come, he chanced a peek at Big Brother.
He looked very surprised to be addressed this way by a little fairy. He blinked a while. Then he said, "You're serious? You're here to help us?"
The fairy nodded. "Perhaps if you told us what your problem is, we may be able to help you."
"Perhaps?" said the big Goron and he laughed humorlessly. "You are noble to offer help, but I doubt if any of this can be helped by a little person and this boy." He waved his hand at the two of them. He studied them both for a minute and then continued, his voice rising:
"The caverns overrun with dodongos! The bomb crops ruined! My people dying of starvation!" He crossed his arms again and leaned toward Navi. "Is there anything that you and your boy can do to fix those problems that the might of the Gorons cannot?"
Navi answered him levelly, "Perhaps your problem is to use might rather than cunning."
Darunia frowned and straightened. He answered stiffly, "Perhaps you mean to say that I lack brain?"
Navi protested, "All I meant to say was…"
But Big Brother wouldn't hear of it. With a crash of his foot and a thrust of his finger, he bellowed, "GET OUT! We don't need help from a boy and his fairy! We'll handle our own problems!"
Link retreated. Navi was beside him within a second and a moment later they were gasping for breath outside Darunia's door. Ubaro and a crowd of Gorons were waiting just outside, watching them anxiously.
"How did it go?" Ubaro asked.
"He threw us out," Link answered at the same time that Navi exploded, "He's impossible! We offer our help and he won't listen to a word of it! He's being stubborn! And - and stupid! I've had it with him! He can starve to death for all I care!"
The Gorons were murmuring again, obviously not happy with the way things were turning out. Ubaro listened with a grave expression. He nodded sadly, "We're all a little tense these days. And Darunia bears most of the burden, so it's understandable that he's upset."
"I thought he was going to knock my block off!" Link exclaimed.
Ubaro shook his head. "It's a shame you had to see us at our worst. It wasn't always like this, you know." He leaned closer to Link and Navi. "Fact is we were probably the happiest people you would ever come across. We were always laughing, singing, dancing, wrestling…"
"Yeah!" a Goron shouted, "and the jolliest of us all was Big Brother!" His statement was met with cheers from the others. Then he continued, "He beat us at all of them! But what he liked to do best was dancing! You should see him when he's really into the rhythm!" The group cheered again.
Navi screwed her face in bewilderment. "Dance?" she echoed as she turned to Ubaro for an explanation.
He smiled and nodded. "It's true. He may not look like the type, but Big Brother loves to dance."
Link and Navi exchanged glances. Link tried to picture the big, brawny, frowning Goron dancing but couldn't quite pull it off.
Ubaro continued, "His favorite music to dance to was the music that comes from the forest." He smiled dreamily. Then he closed his eyes and began to rock his head while he hummed a tune that was rather toneless. After a while, he shrugged and smiled apologetically to Link. "Sorry, I'm not much of a singer."
Link wasn't paying attention. He murmured to himself, "He loves to dance…"
"Music from the forest," Navi added thoughtfully. She turned to her charge and said as though she had just realized, "Link! That song Saria taught you! You don't suppose that will work, do you?"
He shrugged. "It's worth a try."
At this, the Gorons' murmuring became excited. Ubaro leaned forward, his eyes wide with hope. "You have a plan then?"
Link nodded slowly and said, "A seed of a plan…"
They returned to Darunia's room. He turned and folded his arms. His eyes narrowed and he gritted his teeth.
"I thought I told you to leave!" he growled.
"I just thought I'd play a little music for you," Link said nervously, pulling out his ocarina. "To wash away your worries."
"We wish to apologize for taking up your time and for any offense we unintentionally gave to you," Navi added. She waved to her Kokiri. "Link here knows a number of soothing songs. Would you like him to play for you?"
The Goron boss didn't answer. He glared suspiciously at the two of them as though wondering what trick it was they were playing on him. Finally, he grumbled, "Is he good?"
"I'm sure you'll find him an accomplished ocarina player," Navi assured him. She turned to her charge. "Go ahead, Link."
Link swallowed the lump in his throat and put the knob into his mouth. He was afraid that his note would come out shaky and high-pitched, but it came out clearly and melodic. He almost lost the beat in his surprise but he recovered quickly and played the lively song that his friend had taught him with zeal.
Quickly losing himself to the beat, Link wasn't paying attention to Darunia, but Navi watched him anxiously as he stood there firmly, with his arms crossed and his mouth set determinedly in a frown. She bit her lip as the song progressed and the Goron leader refused to dance.
Keep playing, Link, she thought, we need to get through to him somehow.
But still he refused to dance. His frown crept deeper into his face and his eyebrows furrowed to the point where his eyes began to twitch. His muscles bulged in his arms where it appeared he was tightening his hold on himself. The fairy clasped her hands together and wrung them tensely. The fast-paced music was getting closer and closer to the end but the big Goron was as unmoving as a rock.
Oh please, you stubborn fool, she thought edgily, just give in and dance!
Then it happened. The song reached its climax and Darunia suddenly roared, throwing out his arms and legs and startling the fairy. She was afraid that the big boss of the Gorons was going to charge at her Kokiri and beat him senseless, but to her relief he was hopping back and forth between his feet and flailing his arms, roaring with delight.
"Yes!" she cheered.
"Oh!" the Goron agreed, stomping his feet and spinning around "Oh yeah! C'mon! Feel that rhythm! Come on, come on, come on!" He roared with laughter.
Navi couldn't help but laugh with him. And the infectious beat soon had her dancing too, twirling, diving, and tossing her arms in the air. Link saw them both dancing and joined in with twirls and leaps while he skillfully kept the music playing.
"Now you're feeling that rhythm!" Big Brother laughed and then cheered, "Woo! What a beat! Whoooooah!"
At last, the song came to its conclusion, leaving the three of them breathless - Link doubled over while clutching a stitch in his side, Darunia chuckling while his chest ballooned from all his puffing, and Navi laughing while holding her hand over her heart, which seemed to be trying to beat itself out of her chest.
Wow, she thought, I was dancing! And it was… fun!
Certainly, Darunia was thinking the same thing. He whooped and beat his chest. Then he roared happily, "What a rush! I haven't heard such good music like that in a long time!" He slapped himself on the chest again. "It just made me want to dance like crazy!" He let out another whoop, threw his arms into the air, and bellowed, "I am Darunia! King of the Dancing Gorons!" He doubled over as he laughed, resting on his knees until he eventually calmed down. Then he stood up and looked down at Link. He smiled. "So what were we talking about before?"
Link nodded. "I was just wondering… er, do you have the… Spiritual Stone… of Fire?"
Darunia's wide grin quickly vanished. Link wondered apprehensively if he had made a mistake.
"You want the Spiritual Stone of Fire, too?"
Link explained hastily, "I was sent by Princess Zelda to collect all the Spiritual Stone in order to save Hyrule. I don't want them to take over the world or anything… not like…"
Darunia studied him with a thoughtful frown. He finally nodded and said in a solemn voice, "The Goron's Ruby - the Spiritual Stone of Fire - was a keepsake from the Royal Family of Hyrule. We were charged with protecting it until the time it was needed. So if the Princess has asked you to take it from us then that means we have fulfilled our duty." He bowed his head solemnly.
Navi bowed back. "We will not forget your dedication. Once we have gained the Triforce, we will return and use its power to take care of your dodongo problem."
Darunia gave her a look of surprise. "You would show us this kindness even after how I treated you? Very noble indeed." He nodded. "Very well then. But if I give you the Goron's ruby then you must get that Triforce as soon as possible. We don't have much time left. We'll soon starve to death."
Link frowned thoughtfully. "But don't you eat rocks? Why don't you just eat the rocks here?"
Darunia let out a huff that sounded like it might have started as a chuckle. "We don't eat just rocks, boy. We eat only certain kinds of rocks that are rich in special minerals, and they only grow in Dodongo's Cavern."
Darunia nodded. "You'll find them everywhere in Dodongo's Cavern, growing from the ceilings, the walls, magma beds: Quartz, feldspar, obsidian… but everyone's favorite is what we call 'sirloin rock,' partially solidified magma that's still a little bit soft. Mmmm…" He closed his eyes and licked his lips. "You'll burn your tongue if you're not careful. But the taste and texture is worth the risk."
So that's why the Gorons were so desperate to open Dodongo's Cavern! Why they couldn't just look in other places for food. Link said, "Those dodongos must be pretty bad to keep you from going in there."
Darunia's eyes flashed. He growled, "Do you know what dodongos are, boy? They're pests, that's what they are! They're pesky lizards that infest lands and destroy everything in sight! And they have short fuses!"
"You mean they get worse?" Link asked.
"He means," his fairy explained, "that they explode if you attack them. Literally explode."
"Which makes destroying them even more dangerous!" Big Brother exploded, smashing his fist against the wall. "You get too close when they go off and they'll soon have plenty of you to go around."
Which explained why no one had gone into Dodongo's Cavern to take care of the dodongos. Their only chance did appear to be to wait for Link to collect the last Spiritual Stone and get the Triforce.
But they didn't have much time left. And it had taken Link three days to find this Spiritual Stone. The last Spiritual Stone that Link had been given had been at the cost of the Great Deku Tree's life. By the time he came back with the Triforce, the Gorons could already be dead. He had already cost someone a life by delaying. Was he willing to risk more lives?
But how was he going to take on a swarm of dodongos if it was dangerous even getting close to attack them?
Big Brother spoke, "So, boy, do I have your word that if I give you the Goron's ruby, you will return as soon as possible with the Triforce to save us from starvation?" He fixed Link with an intense stare that unnerved him.
Despite this, Link shook his head. "No."
The Goron leader's face became shocked. Then he scowled while his meaty hands tensed into fists and he loomed over Link threateningly. Navi was shocked too. She spun to Link, her mouth open, and she sputtered, "L-L-Link! What are you… What do you…"
Link spoke, "I already saw someone die because of me, and I don't want to see it again. If you give me the Spiritual Stone now, it will still take me several days to find the next one and then several more to get back to Princess Zelda so that we can open the Door of Time to get the Triforce. You and your brothers are already at the brink of death. The way I see it, you need to get back into Dodongo's Cavern as soon as possible."
Darunia seemed to relax a little. He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. "Then what do you propose?"
Link held his fists out to the side and took on a determined stance. "I want to try going in to Dodongo's Cavern and destroying all those pests."
"Link! This is madness!" Navi cried, bobbing next to his ear. Darunia said, "Your fairy is right. You don't even know what you're getting into. Even if you could find a way to destroy the dodongos without getting yourself blown to pieces, they'll just keep on coming! For you see, the cavern has been claimed by a King Dodongo."
Navi gasped out loud before clapping her hand to her mouth. This was enough to tell Link that a "King Dodongo" was quite a threat. Still, he kept his voice even as he asked, "What's so scary about a King Dodongo?"
"Such impudence from someone so young!" Darunia growled though Link was sure he could see a smile twitching at his mouth. "In a dodongo swarm, only the toughest and meanest dodongo grows big enough to become a King Dodongo. And with a den of queen dodongos, he can create swarms upon swarms of dodongos. So if you plan to get rid them all, you will need to focus your attacks on the King."
If I plan to? He sounds like he thinks I'm actually going to do it, Link thought, which of course he was. He had a sneaking suspicion that he was making quite an impression on the big Goron leader despite his gruff act.
With more bravado than he probably should have shown, the boy asked Darunia, "So how big does a King Dodongo grow?"
"Those who claim to have seen one say it's at least the size of a mountain."
Link's heart skipped a beat, but he retorted, "If they really are that big, it seems to me that more people would have seen them."
"Ha!" the big Goron snorted, "then are you still willing to go into Dodongo's Cavern to destroy the entire nest?"
Link's heart pounded and his throat had suddenly dried up, but he nodded firmly and said, "Yes. I'm going to."
Darunia burst into laughter. Navi flew down to Link's ear and hissed, "There is no need to take this risk. It's too dangerous! The Triforce can clear them out once we claim it!"
"But who knows when that'll happen?" Link whispered back. "They won't last more than a few days if we don't do something now. Besides, we've faced monsters before. We took down Queen Gohma!"
"Well, yes, but that's a leap over a brook compared to this! Then, it was just some Deku Baba and a few cowardly Deku Scrubs protecting that parasite. Now, you plan to take on a swarm of explosive lizards while you try to destroy their King!"
Link decided to ignore her and turned his attention to Big Brother, who had calmed down and now bellowed cheerfully, "You've certainly got pluck, kid, I'll give you that. But if you are really going to do it then let me give you a little something." He turned to the wall behind him and plucked off one of the scaly sacks. He tightened the drawstrings and then turned and presented it to Link. "Here, kid. You may find this useful on this mission."
Link accepted the gift then grunted in surprise when he discovered how heavy it was.
Darunia nodded at the sack. "That's a bomb bag, made from a Dodongo's stomach."
The boy's eyes widened in delight. "Bombs?" He loosened the drawstrings, thrust his hand through the mouth and then pulled out a bomb. It was a black orb about the size of his fist with a crown of leaves on top and a ropy stem in the center.
The big Goron smiled at Link's excitement. "To set it off, you just pluck off this stem." He reached over and pinched it between his thick fingers. Then he withdrew his hand. "That gives you about five seconds, so you'd better throw it quick."
"I will," said Link distractedly. He put the bomb back into the bag and then looped the strings around his belt. He looked up at the Goron and said, "Thanks, Darunia. I swear to you, I will do everything I can to get you your cave back."
"We will see," Darunia replied, his eyes twinkling. "We will soon see."