Chapter 10 - Close Encounters
Link awoke with the sun shining in his eyes from the window just above his resting form. Turning his head to avoid the glare he noticed Malon next to him, her head cradled between his arm and chest. It took him a few moments to realize they had fallen asleep together. They were more exhausted than they thought. He looked further past Malon to see Epona resting peacefully beside them both. The fresh smell of hay, horse and Malon’s floral scent was intoxicating. He laid his head back down onto the hay bale they had lain up against and closed his eyes once more.
Link turned his head to gaze upon Malon as she moaned slightly. She had just started to stir. After a long stretch confined in his arms she clutched a piece of his tunic and murmured dreamily, “Mmm…good morning daddy.”
Link’s body went stiff at this comment. Was she still asleep? Or was she joking with him? Malon had noticed the change in his physique and started to fully wake up to her situation. She glanced up into Link’s blue eyes and flushed a furious shade of red after realizing what she just called him. She buried her face into his armpit wanted to die from embarrassment.
“I’m sorry Link.” She muffled into his clothes.
Link chuckled as he enfolded her into his arms and hugged her, she did not resist but let his embracing warmth radiate around her body. Now fully awake, both of them simply laid next to each other, each soaking in this quiet moment that they shared. The events of the previous day weighed heavily upon the two of them.
Absently rubbing her hand across Link’s chest she intoned, “So Saria is safe. That is good. Were you able to save any others?”
A gentle squeeze on her shoulder indicated otherwise, “No.” It was all he could say.
“What was it like facing that army?” Malon questioned, not fully realizing the effect they had on Link.
“Terrible.” His mind started relapsing into the horrors of the day prior. He did not want Malon to experience any of what he went through.
“Can we honestly beat th-”
Link quickly cut her off, “I’d rather not talk about it please.”
Ashamed, she just buried her face into his arm again, taking in his delectable scent of forest, dirt and everything natural. Malon wondered what it was like to live in the forest and play all day with the other Kokiri. To live beside the forest animals and ride her horses through the trees, it must have been so magical.
A thought suddenly crossed her mind, “Hey Link.” She looked back up into his face, “We also brought the new foal here with us. Did you want to see it?”
Link got excited at this, he remembered washing it down and cleaning off the birthing fluids from that young horse back at Lon Lon Ranch. It was an anchor of normalcy in a world gone mad. He wanted to see it for no other reason than to see something good still left in the world. Each of them helped the other up off the floor as Epona gave a snort at being awoken. Link gently petted her neck until she settled back down into restful sleep.
She eagerly took Link by the hand and guided him down the stalls until they reached the first one just left of the entrance to the stable. He must have completely passed the young foal on his way in earlier that morning. They entered its enclosure and gently woke up the little horse. Its mother was adjacently resting behind it watching the two of them intently, after seeing no threat she resumed her inhaling of the nearby hay.
“I have to admit,” Malon jabbed, “you did a decent job fixing him up.”
“Oh,” Link stammered, he actually hadn’t noticed it was a male colt at the time of birth.
“You still need some more practice,” she continued as if he had said nothing, “before you can be as good as me delivering babies!”
“Maybe you’ll show me your expert technique then!” Link rebutted with a grin.
“Maybe I will,” Malon mused, gently running her hands down the length of the colt’s neck.
Link followed suit and placed his hands on the young horse’s flank and began rubbing his hands through its fur. The foal was practically humming with pleasure at the unexpected attention it was receiving.
“So what do you think you’ll name it?” Link asked.
Malon gave it some thought as she continued petting, “Something strong…something courageous.” After a few more moments of intense deliberation she nodded her head. “Harden.”
Link had to do a double take with his ears; he cocked his head to look at her, “Harden? Seriously?”
She stepped back with an indignant look on her face; she placed her fists on her hips in defiance as she interrogated Link, “Yes really! Why is that such a bad name? I think it’s a great name!”
Link’s lips widen in a grin, “Oh I’m sure it’s a great name. As great a name as you could give a rock.”
Malon’s lips dropped open in shock, “You take that back! You don’t insult my horse like that!”
Link continued to stroke the young colt that seemed to have cared less about this whole dispute, “So this is your horse now? Just like Epona was supposed to be before she claimed me as her master?”
Link hadn’t actually meant to have it be taken as an insult but Malon was affronted, she pointed a finger at Link, “Don’t you dare think of taking this horse too. I’m going to train it up to be a great stallion; one that will whisk me wherever I wish to go.”
Link suppressed a laugh in his throat as he ignored her comment. He merely stuck his tongue out at her. That was it! She charged him and tackled him to the floor. They both were rolling around in the hay as they both giggled and laughed, trying in vain to get the upper hand in the insane tickle war that was ensuing. The foal’s mother gave an irritated snort at the commotion happening so close to her young one.
Taking her cue, Link rolled out from beneath Malon’s frenzy of tickles and grabbed a nearby stick the length of his arm. Well that was convenient, Link thought to himself. Malon stood a few paces away looking for a way to avoid his swings should she come near him for another assault.
“Oh what?” she mockingly cried, “You’re going to strike down a defenseless little girl with that nasty sword of yours?”
Changing his battle stance, Link realized that she was right. He grabbed a small shovel with an appropriate handle length and took it for himself. He tossed the stick over to Malon to catch. She fumbled with it and dropped it in the hay.
“Time out! Time out!” She cried as she wildly clawed through the straw to find her stick sword.
Link gave a pseudo-evil laugh, “There are no time outs in war soldier! Prepare to die!”
Malon squealed with laughter as she grabbed the stick and rolled out of the way as the shovel handle hit the ground where she had been. She haltingly regained her balance on her feet and stuck the sword out at him at an awkward angle, daring him to come closer. Link could do nothing but look at her with gaiety. She was doing it all wrong! He let his shovel drop and walked over to her to correct her stance. She swung at him once in a haphazard fashion.
“No, stop! I’m trying to help you idiot!” She took offense at this but let him guide her. “You need to stand slightly to the side. You do not show your full front to the enemy, it gives him far more targets to stab into.”
Malon reddened slightly as his hands touched most of her body as he was busily adjusting her stance. She didn’t think he was aware of the effect his hands had on her, he was so intent on improving her fighting stance that when he had finished he looked at her rosy cheeks in confusion.
“Is everything alright?” he questioned.
“Uh…yes. So is this how you stand?” She tried her best to maintain the position he had forced her body into.
He nodded with approval, “Yes, you need to have your back leg supporting your weight as your front leg moves freely to dodge incoming blows. It is your anchor. Facing sidelong like that also gives fewer targets for your foe to strike. But,” he pointed to the way she held her sword, “you’re holding that all wrong.”
With a quick flick of the shovel, he had knocked the sword right out of her hand. The stick clattered to the ground near the opposite stall. She gasped in surprise at how quickly Link had moved to disarm her. Link said nothing and merely walked over to pick up the stick and handed it back to her.
“Shall we begin again?” Link smiled. Malon scowled; he was enjoying this way too much!
Neither combatant knew how long they had been practicing. The first dozen attempts were horrible. Link had disarmed her quickly and efficiently without any effort on his part. Every now and then he’d smack her on the rump with his shovel; she gasped in shock and irritation at being bested like this continuously. He’d just laugh and set her up again for another round of practice.
Within the hour they were both sweating from the exertion of sparring with each other, Malon’s face was in full focus as she took his instruction to heart and tried her best to parry his blows. Link admired her tenacity and found that she was getter better at defending against him. She had yet to take the offensive but was pleasantly surprised at how quick a learner she was. He’d make a good swordswoman out of her yet!
With a final cry of frustration she threw her sword at him and leaped onto Link knocking him to the ground. The air was forced out of him as his back hit the dirt hard compelling his hand to release the shovel he had used as a sword.
“Malon!” He cried as he caught his breath, “You are not supposed to throw your only weapon at the enemy!”
“True,” she laughed manically, “but no enemy can resist the tickle!”
Link’s eyes shot open in surprise, “What? No!”
It was too late, she had dug her fingers into his sides and armpits. She was attacking him from all angles and sides. He feebly tried to retaliate but she was quick to duck and dodge all his attempts to gain a purchase on the one-sided battle. They spiraled across the floor locked in mortal combat, each of them giggling, laughing and utterly lost in the moment. With one final roll, they slumped to the ground exhausted. Malon didn’t bother getting off of him, they both laid there breathing heavily and feeling the sweat trickle down their brows.
Malon raised her head to look at him. He merely smiled back in contentment. Without really being aware of what she was doing, she pressed forward and kissed him. It was a titillating shock to Link’s system. His body went stiff with the force of its impact. Neither of them had experienced a kiss before. This was something wholly different and foreign to them. Feeling his rejection, she drew back sheepishly, looking into eyes and agitatedly bit her lower lip, wondering if she had made some horrible mistake.
After a few moments of indecision, Link placed a gentle hand on the back of her head and drew her back into the kiss. It was inebriating to him. He had never felt anything like it. Malon’s lips were soft and supple, the feel of her mouth on his coursed lightning through his body. They both reveled in the alien feeling together as their attempt to acquire more of it resulted in frantic fumbling of limbs. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he caressed her red hair and back with his hands, drinking in the kiss completely.
Link slowly became aware of something strange happening to him, a small bulge of urgent need was forming in his loins and he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Good Goddesses his body was doing odd things! He was clueless as to what to do next. He tried shifting his lower body so as to make himself more comfortable.
Malon started to notice his attraction as well. She didn’t quite have a great idea of what happened next either, all she observed was when cows and horses mated. She was aware of what it was but not exactly how it should be utilized. Continuing their frenzy of sharing the kiss, she spread her legs wide and straddled him giving it purchase to get more comfortable. Link practically moaned in appreciation of the act as his member wanted to tear through the very fabric of his tunic and her dress. He didn’t know exactly why he thought that, it just felt natural to have it next to her body with nothing in-between.
“Robbing each other’s cradles I see.” Came a calm voice from behind them.
Malon bounded off of Link forcing a grunt out of him as she dashed into the corner of the stall trying in vain to straighten down her dress. Link lay on the floor propped up on his elbows as he looked up at Impa staring at them both with a look of incredulousness, he didn’t even try to hide the swelling under his tunic, he knew they were caught.
“Hmmm,” Impa began in calm tones, “and I thought you were raised up better than that Link.”
He pointed to Malon, “But she started it!”
Malon shot a look of ire his direction as Impa reprimanded, “Doesn’t excuse you Link. As an honorary knight of the Hylian guard, you need to show more restraint than that.”
Link rolled over to his side to get up off the ground, “Don’t remind me.” He grumbled.
Impa shot him a look of disdain, “Get up Link. We need to talk about something important. Once you’ve finished adjusting your id, come with me.”
Link was hurt, even if he wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by his id. He trudged out behind Impa like a puppy with its tail between its legs. Impa turned around and pointed at the frazzled Malon still trying her best to blend in with the surrounding walls of the stable.
“Return to your father Malon and stay with him for now. If you obey my commands, I promise you this won’t get back to him.” Impa directed.
With a humph, Malon stomped off past the two of them and into the midday sun. Impa walked outside and down the path. She didn’t have to say a word to Link, it was understood he was to follow without question. They walked through the village and up towards the mountain pass entrance. As they strolled past, Link noticed new things he had not observed before, various carpenters and soldiers were working together to set up barricades and contraptions of war. Some held huge stone rocks in slings. Others held gigantic arrow shafts on a crossbow like structure too large for any Hylian to even pick up.
“You know she cares for you deeply.” Impa said softly.
Link’s attention was diverted from the construction at this, “What? Malon?”
A look of irritation flitted across Impa’s face, “No. Princess Zelda.”
“Oh.” It was all he could say. He wasn’t aware Zelda liked him like that. Did she want to kiss him too? Many confusing thoughts swirled through his mind. What exactly happened back there in the stable? He tried to make sense of it himself. His body was a raging surge of hormones but he couldn’t exactly understand why parts of him he had little control over. It frightened him a little. What could they have done together? No one ever taught him about girls, he was so muddled about all this!
They stopped at the base of the path just before the guards. They were eyeing him warily since they had orders to stop a boy in green from leaving that day. Impa gazed up at the halo cloud encircling the peak of Death Mountain, it was turning out to be a beautiful fall day and the sun warmed her skin. She turned to Link and knelt down to his level as she placed a hand on each shoulder.
“You are a brave, courageous boy.” Impa smiled as he colored at this compliment, “There is a task I wish you to do. I am confident that you can accomplish this. If the stories you tell are true and what you did for the Gorons and Zoras last cycle is any indication, you are more than competent for the task.” She paused a bit before continuing, “We need the stones again.”
Link cocked his head uncomprehending; she explained, “We already have the Kokiri Emerald. It was a stroke of luck you managed to save Saria who had it with her.” Link smiled at that, “We still need the Goron Ruby and the Zora Sapphire.”
Link’s face turned to one of dread. The Zoras were further south and in the path of the invading army. He would have to face those awful men yet again. Visibly shaken, Impa reassured him with a gentle squeeze with her hands.
“I agree,” she said as if reading his thoughts, “visiting the Zoras would be the optimal thing to do first since they are closer to the enemy.” She pulled out of her belt pouch a blue ocarina. Link’s eyes grew wide at the familiar object. Impa nodded at his understanding, “We need to get to the Master Sword again. I wouldn’t entrust this journey to just anyone.”
Link’s voice wavered, “Can’t you come with me? Or maybe send another Sheikah to do this job instead?”
Impa calmly shook her head no, “I’m afraid not. For reasons I can’t divulge, me and the rest of the Sheikah must remain here and protect Zelda. I cannot say more than that.”
Link nodded his head numbly, “I’m scared Impa. I don’t want to see those men again. They simply won’t die.”
She took the quivering young boy in her arms and held him tight. Oh dear Goddesses, what horrors did this young boy have to witness? So terrible a fate to be so young but to have experienced so much, no child should have to endure the pain Link had gone through. She rubbed the back of his head soothingly as Link sobbed into her shoulder.
“I know little one, I know.” She lulled.