Best of the Breath Part 2: The Mounted Edition

Following on from my previous post, I have continued to collect stories about my incredible adventures in Hyrule. I’ve noticed a strong theme of quadrupeds in this post, so here’s my Mounts Special!


Early in the game you are invited to catch a wild horse and claim it as your own. (Now that I think about it, it’s kind of awful to horsenap a member of the horse community and just force it to serve you for as long as it lives. But let us assume that, living in companionship with Link, all the horses he catches are given chances at better lives of being cared for in stables rather than surviving in a wild and dangerous land.)

At any rate, I brought back to the stable the first two horses I encountered – they were nothing special in terms of their strength, speed and stamina, but they were faster than running. And then I noticed a blue horse. I immediately dismounted and abandoned the horse I was riding, equipped my stealth gear and started stalking it.

It noticed me, once or twice, and trotted effortlessly away from me with a toss of its mane. It easily outpaced me, and I realised that this horse was fast. In the end, I approached during a rainstorm in the dead of night so that it was less likely to hear me. When I mounted it, it thrashed and bucked wildly, and it took a huge amount of stamina for me to master it. I hurried back to the stable, and in honour of its fleetness and the storm that bore it, I named him Raiden.

Raiden was my favourite horse in the game, and he carried me through many places as swift as the wind. Whenever I noticed enemies in the distance, I would dismount and approach on foot. I didn’t think horses could be killed, but I didn’t want to expose him to danger or pain either way. You can imagine then how horrified I was when a stray Guardian beam caught Raiden full in the flank and he fell with a great whinny and perished. I killed the Guardian immediately and was paused the game, in shock at what had happened. I thought about it long and hard, and reloaded the save file because I didn’t think I could go on without him by my side. It was not until much later that I would meet Melanya…

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Raiden, my first beloved mount


I was exploring the hills of Faron when I noticed what appeared to be one horse standing by a herd of wild ponies. Then as I approached I realised that nope, they were horses all right – they just had a giant of a beast among them. He stood apart from the others, with a charcoal coat and a mane of fire, alert while the other horses grazed. It struck me that he was keeping watch over the herd, and I was reminded powerfully of Spirit of the Cimarron. And once again, my first instinct was to tame the beast and take it away from its friends and family, leaving its wards vulnerable and alone.

I ate some food that would maximise my stealth and approached it slowly, placing obstacles between us to break its line of sight. When it was unguarded, I leapt on it from behind and it bucked like the wild beast it was. It took most of my three stamina wheels to avoid being thrown off. Having survived the ordeal of mounting it, I hurried it along the path back to the stables and it fought me the whole way. I’d try and turn left, it would turn right. I’d urge it into a gallop, it would whinny and swerve. The path was made all the more dangerous by passing not one, but two white-maned Lynels that fired Shock Arrows after us as we narrowly avoided them. Through fighting it all the way back to the stables, we forged a pretty solid bond. In the end I named him Cinnamon, both for his mane and for the Stallion he first reminded me of.

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Stallion of the Cinnamon

 


While exploring the frozen peaks of the Gerudo highlands, I came upon a slumbering bear in a small copse of trees and berries. At first I assumed, like the many wolves that inhabited the mountain, that it was an enemy that was safer to kill than to let harass me. I equipped a spear and crept towards it, but it woke suddenly and noticed me despite the deep snow muffling my footsteps. We battled and I stabbed it about as often as it mauled me. Then, as it charged past me I saw an indicator flash up on the screen: Ride. I immediately put my weapon away, equipped stronger armour and spent the next several minutes chasing it around being mauled until, eventually, I grabbed it by the neck and swung myself up onto its back. Bleeding and panting, we walked through the mountains together for a while before I realised he couldn’t climb the slopes. I dismounted and he immediately ran off, and I decided not to torment any bears similarly in the future.

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Not the actual bear I caught but this picture was too good not to share


One of the most memorable scenes from Ocarina of Time is the flight of Impa and Princess Zelda, when Link attempts to bring the three sacred stones to Hyrule Castle. On a pure white horse on a dark and stormy night, the pair fly past as Zelda hurls the Ocarina of Time into the castle moat. In Breath of the Wild, during a flashback from 100 years ago, Zelda is seen riding a similarly white horse. Now in the present day, there was a rumour that a pure white horse was roaming a certain plateau, fabled to be from that same royal pedigree.

I climbed the mountains nearby, using my scope to find the herd that lived in the plains. I did not see the white horse among them, so I decided to stake the joint out in my full Sheikah gear, making a campfire in a sheltered part of the cliff where the horses were less likely to be spooked by it. Day after day, night after night, through rain and fog I studied the herd: horses came and went, but never was the white stallion among them. I thought harder about what the old man at the stables had told me: that it stood apart from the others. I decided to take this literally and began searching the nearby hillsides when I came upon it grazing in a nearby ruins. My breath caught in my throat as we locked eyes for a moment – and then it fled. I maximised my stealth again and began stalking it through the afternoon, and then into the night as it kept a watchful eye on my and pranced out of reach each time I approached. I was starting to get desperate when, at dawn, a traveller came the other way from the top of the ruins catching the white horse off guard. It panicked and fled down the road, fortunately right into the path where I was concealed and I seized it by the mane. It bucked and kicked for any age, perhaps even longer than the Cinnamon had, until at last I had settled it.

I rode it back to the stables proudly, and decided not to show her to the old man until I had made her more presentable. We became fast friends through gentle riding and a bit of a bribery (we shared many apples that day), and when it was clear that our bond was a strong one, the stablehand allowed me to change her harness and saddle. I went for the extravagant raiments and regally approached the old man. He was deeply moved at the sight, and gave me an even finer gift: the original trappings that Zelda herself had used on her mount, passed down through his grandfather. Yuki, as I named the horse, and I flew through the mountains, and we shared many an apple any time we had to part.

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Yuki, from a long line of Royal White Stallions


 

Last year, the Head of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, died from failing health. He was my favourite person in the video game industry, with his quirky sense of humour, his deep humility, his genuine inquisitiveness and his gentle heart. I watched all of his Nintendo Directs (where he would bring news, Directry to you) and Iwata Asks videos. His death rocked me hard, and I was deeply moved by the many tributes of Nintendo fans who wanted to honour his memory. Imagine then how moved I was to discover Satori Mountain in the game, a place teeming with life, rare flora and fauna and untold treasures.

I’d been there many times, but I noticed one night from a neighbouring peak, a strange glow coming from the mountain. I thought it was perhaps a shooting star, or some kind of aurora borealis and decided to investigate. As I approached the source of the glow, I entered a kind of haze, and I felt that every step I took was taking me into a different world. This kind of game mechanic was used to enter the realm of the spirits in Okami, and chills ran down my spine as the whiteness enveloped me. When I came through the other side I began to lose it.

In a misty glen, perhaps a dozen or more glowing blue rabbits hopped. They were Blupees, supernatural creatures with gold antlers that vanished into thin air when approached. I had only seen a handful of them in the game, rare and elusive creatures as they were, and to see so many of them in one place was a wondrous site indeed. Yet I stayed my bow, quelling my first instinct to shoot them for rupees – it seemed too precious a place to disturb with violence. And then I saw him: a shining blue creature somewhat similar to a shaggy horse or elk, with two golden fronds of antlers and four glowing red eyes. I took out my camera, which identified the creature as the Lord of the Mountain. I quietly approached and he, and almost all of the Blupees in the glade suddenly noticed me and vanished. I quietly and reverentially continued to explore, and to my amazement he reappeared before me again. I caught him off guard as I mounted him, and after a brief struggle he didn’t seem to mind me settling onto his back. Slowly and carefully we rode down the mountain together.

To my delight, I found that he had infinite stamina and could gallop at a breakneck speed indefinitely, and we quickly found ourselves at a local stable that I hadn’t noticed before. The horsemaster there was horrified that I had brought the legendary Lord of the Mountain into his domain, worried it would bring a curse upon the stable. He refused to register him as a mount, and I while initially disappointed, I realised that so magnificent a creature deserved to ride free. I dismounted, and to my surprise he did not immediately flee but waited for me calmly. When it became clear that I would not ride him again, he faded into the mists once more.

I opened my compendium to admire the photo I had taken and read the following description:

“This noble creature watches over all animals that make their homes in the forest. Legends say this holy creature is a reincarnation of a sage that died on the lands it now protects. It has an acute awareness of its surroundings, so it seldom appears before people. It’s sometimes known by its other name, Satori.”

I paused for a moment while the magnitude of this hit me and then burst into tears.

They reincarnated Satoru Iwata into the guardian of all forest creatures, who died while he was still creating the game.

Great now I’m crying again. More adventures to come when I’ve stopped leaking.

Satori Lord of the Mountain Location

The Sacred Glen

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Satori, Lord of the Mountain

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