Chapter 15 - Captured
Malon reached the top of the incline late in the day, the sun had already begun to glow red when she hopped off her horse as she reached the top of the ridge. She strapped on a backpack filled to the brim with food and supplies alongside several weapons and a shield. She almost fell back from the immense weight of the load. However, with effort she remained steady and regained her balance.
With a short laugh she gave a quick pat to the horse, “I think I have just a little more respect for you my friend.”
The horse nickered its reply as she stroked it one last time. Hopefully it would find a better home now that it was finally free. Malon had been instrumental in evacuating the remainder of the horses from Kakariko. Impa got her and the other assistants up early in the morning and prepositioned horses at the other end of the secret passage through the windmill. She had a hunch they would need a clean escape and Malon was happy to oblige in establishing all horses at the exit of the tunnel. It took most of the early morning to guide the injured Epona through the passage but she made it through all right.
When she got back to the inn, she packed her belongings in preparation to leave at a moment’s notice. She hastily made an excuse to her father to sneak out the back with her heavy burden. She leapt down out of the window and landed smack on her face as she fumbled with the weight of her pack in midair. After much wrangling, she rallied the horse she had tethered in the chicken pen behind the inn and slung her pack over its flank. With a quick look at the village entrance, she saw men surging the barricades. She gave a swift kick to the horse’s flanks and vaulted it towards the Death Mountain pass.
Now all she could see of the village from this vantage point was billowing smoke clouds rising from multiple locations within the town. A dull roar of men, cries, screams and other unknown sounds slowly rose from the canyon far below her. A shudder coursed through her body when she realized how deathly close she came to being caught in that vortex. She didn’t know how much time she had left but her goal was to catch up with Link and assist him in any way she could.
Malon lumbered back over to the horse under the weight of her pack and unloaded the rest of the excess baggage and tossed it to the side. She didn’t realize how much she had brought; it was way too much for her to carry. She felt bad for the horse having to lug all the junk she forced it to transport. She slapped its rump and watched it gallop off toward points unknown. She prayed that it found some secluded spot away from all this madness. She sighed deeply before grabbing a backpack strap in her hand and started up the mountain.
Perspiring from the effort of scaling the steep face of the mountain, Malon took great care in making sure she didn’t slip on the loose gravel and dirt littering the path. Proud of herself for being so brave, she continued higher when she heard a sharp crack of a twig bounding off the rock walls. She spun around looking for someone following her but saw nothing. For a bone-chilling moment, Malon through she saw a dark shape in the shadows, but she blinked and it was gone. Nervously she decided to resume her upward march until she heard a whisper of her name.
She twirled around frightened, “What do you want? Who are you? Show your face!”
Nothing but the wind replied. Silence confronted her with an absolute realization, she was being followed. Malon began to panic as the beating of her heart began to pound out of her chest. She turned to scramble up the steep incline and smashed her pack against the granite wall as she looked in all directions for her pursuer. With her back against the rock face she scanned the environs for any trace of what was following her, nothing moved within her sight.
Malon sunk to the dirt and bunched her knees to her chest. She cradled them with her hands and started crying. What if those evil men were already on their way up the mountain? What if they caught her? What unspeakable things would they do to her? Why had she decided to follow Link anyway? It was a stupid, stupid idea! She should have just gone along with her father and escaped the village than put herself in harm’s way by following Link.
Another sharp crack of a rock being thrown down the cliff face above her made her leap away from the wall with a squeal, she started running frantically up the hill without any idea of where she was ultimately going. Her only thought was to put distance between herself and whatever monstrosity was following her. Stumbling several times, she picked herself back up and dove behind a rocky pillar and curled up into a fetal position.
Her heart was thumping against her ribs as she tried to control her fear. It was starting to get dark and it would be harder to see where she was going, let alone anything jumping out at her. She started whimpering at her decision to follow Link. It was so stupid! With one last body racking breath, she swallowed hard and tried to calm herself. She pushed herself off the ground and took one tentative step after another towards what looked like a cave entrance.
She slowly drew a sword from her pack. She promptly dropped it to the ground at its weight. Maybe she should have gone for one of the smaller swords? Struggling to heft the sword, she managed to hold it aloft with both hands on the hilt. She edged forward with the sword ahead of her when an intake of breath from her left caused an instant reaction from her, she swung with all her might towards the unknown shadow and watched her sword flash in the dying sunlight as it hurled through the air, landing several paces away. She slumped to the ground in exhaustion at just one swing of the heavy-handed sword.
Link stepped out of the shadows to greet her with a cautious look, “You still need to work on your stance.”
Malon slammed her fists onto her thighs, “Oh, you’re horrible!”
Link glanced around quickly for anyone else before continuing, “Is it just you? Why are you here? Did anyone follow you?”
Everything was coming at her so fast, relief at finally meeting up with Link, swirling thoughts at the barrage of questions he was shooting her with, and the terror of a possible stalker down the path. She began crying in utter release at finally having someone there to share her isolation with.
Link walked up to her and placed a hand on her shoulder as he set down his sword and knelt, “For one, don’t always go for the biggest sword.” He chuckled a bit as she shot him a dirty look, “I’m just glad you are safe.” His expression turned serious. “It doesn’t seem things are going too well down there in Kakariko.”
Malon merely nodded her head at his observation, they were both positive it had gone sour for the populace and that the village was lost. They would ultimately need to find an alternate route back to safety. He assisted in stripping her of her backpack and tossed it onto his back, it was a better fit for him anyway. Relieved of the gargantuan weight, she was able to stand up more easily.
“Come on,” he smiled as he took her hand in his, “might as well make yourself useful and accompany me to the Gorons.”
Malon smiled at this as they continued onward towards the looming cave entrance. Link was slightly on edge she could tell, he was on alert shifting his eyes all around looking for potential threats. The fact that there was not a single Goron in sight on their way into the city did nothing to allay his fears. As soon as they stepped into the entry hall, the usual crashing sound of various rolling Gorons was uncannily absent. Guiding Malon, they edged around the main room which was roughly the size of Hyrule Castle’s main hall. It was a huge chamber but the reddish hue that usually permeated it was no more, only a dim gloom remained.
“So they have taken the Goron Ruby with them.” Link said with considerable relief as he looked at the empty dais near the ceiling at the center of the chamber.
Slowly they made their way down the multitude of stairs to the bottom floor; each landing opened up into the main chamber where one could look down from the highest point and see each floor below. He had come to warn them of the incoming army but it seemed the work had been done for them, now all he had to do was figure out where they had taken the ruby.
They stepped through a massive doorway carved into the limestone rock and entered a small side chamber. Link was surprised to see two torches still lit within the room. The chamber was sparsely decorated with a few tattered carpets and tapestries along the walls. The majority of the decor was the drawings painted directly onto the rock by the Gorons themselves. Link almost didn’t notice a piece of paper lying on the bench lining the far wall; he dashed over and snatched it up to read its scrawl.
“Dear Sworn Brother, for some reason I knew you would be the one to come here and read this letter. I want to assure you that we are safe, a delightful Sheikah female passed by earlier and warned us. We are taking refuge with our kin in the far eastern mountain ranges of Xaagar. It is several moons away, but we feel supremely confident that the army cannot reach us within the snowy blizzards of these mountains. I wanted to entrust the Goron Ruby to you but too much is at risk. So instead, I am including a map with this letter showing you our location so you can come find us and claim it should you ever need to. I am sorry to not be there in person to tell you of these grave matters, but escorting my people to safety is my priority. When you grow up and become a man, be sure to come to me to introduce your lovely new wife. I would love to see you once again. I wish you the best of luck. Your Sworn Brother – Darunia. P.S. I left a nasty present to those fools who would come to claim the Ruby, best not to wake it!”
Gorons were a hardy folk that seemingly grew from the earth itself. They were made mostly of rock and stone but were sentient. They had hard shells for their heads, backs and outer arms and legs. The only parts that were remotely soft were their faces, stomachs and inner portion of their limbs. Each Goron was uniformly brown but the multitude of rock plate structures that adorned their backs separated them and distinguished who they were as an individual.
Darunia was the greatest of the Gorons, being their king and all. His back platelets were exorbitant for even a Goron. They protruded as devastating spikes rather than flat shell surfaces. He had several solid horns sprouting from his head which gave him a regal look. Link always did think it resembled a natural crown for the Goron.
Late last cycle, Link returned from the future and plunged deep into Dodongo’s Cavern which was the source of their primary dietary staple: obsidian. He cleared out single-handedly every Dodongo in that cavern and opened it up to the Gorons once more. Since then he was a sworn brother to their king, Darunia. He became welcome in their hall and earned unquestioning support from any Goron he encountered thereafter.
Link warmly smiled at the letter and the trust Darunia had placed in him by providing the map; Goddesses it was a long trek though! He folded the note and map and put it into a fold of his tunic, he was curious as to what this ‘present’ was that Darunia had left but thought little of it. Grateful that at least some of his friends were safe he beamed at Malon. She returned the grin and they left the chamber holding hands.
Very little was said between them for several reasons, they were simply content at being together in a time where all else seemed to be insane and muddled. They considered each other as their anchor in a world gone crazy. Silence was also important since making any sound gave away their position to the enemy; something they both did not want. It was understood that it had been morning when the army struck Kakariko, they probably weren’t far now from their current position now that dusk was approaching.
“And here I find you alone.” An ominous voice hummed as Link stood stock still at the figure blocking the stairs above them.
The man was thinner than the two he had fought in the woods with Saria, he had a deadly grace with the way he carried himself. A lone steel pauldron adorned his left shoulder as a similar thigh guard was affixed to his right leg. The rest of his body was covered in plain cloth and fabrics of brown, orange and grey. They were situated on his body to enable freedom of movement in battle. In his hand he held a thin rapier the length of his leg.
The most striking feature about the man was the scars on his face, he had two which originated from the crease of his lips and trailed up along each cheek in some macabre grin. What drew Link’s attention was the idle way he was scratching one of them. He casually stood in a stance that offered no purchase of an attack on his body. Link admired his opponent’s confidence.
With a flick of his free hand, the man brushed his brown bangs out of his eyes as he stared down the two children, “I have you all to myself. First I am going to cripple you boy.”
Link and Malon took a few steps backwards down the steps as the man advanced slowly towards them.
“Then I’m going to rape your girlfriend in front of your eyes.” The man continued with obvious glee. Link didn’t entirely comprehend what the man was implying, but Link knew no sane adult should be viewing Malon like that. She edged closer to Link and gripped his arm so tight it was starting to hurt.
“When it’s all over,” he sneered, “I’m going to slit her throat in front of you right before your death. I certainly hope you enjoy it. I’ve been planning this meeting for some time now, ever since you bested Talamir and Timner.” He licked his lips cruelly.
Link pushed Malon further behind him as he pulled his sword out of the scabbard from his hip; Link made a mental note of those two names. The man merely laughed at Link’s attempt to display he was ready for the duel. The man slowly advanced down step by step as Link deftly pulled the boomerang from his belt and handed it to Malon. She took it with rising anxiety.
“You know how to use one of these?” It was a question but it sounded more like a statement. Malon simply nodded in shock, “Good, go back out to the main chamber and wait for me there.”
Link slipped out of the backpack and let it drop to the ground with a thud as Malon dashed out into the main hall. He kept pace with his opponent as they slowly descended the stairs, each foe assessing the other and looking for any weakness in their defense.
The man swung first with a side swipe from the right. Link deftly flicked away this attack with ease. He saw through the ruse as the man’s sword thrust forward with the intent of piercing his chest. Link sidestepped to the right as his sword pushed the attack downward. He feinted with a low swipe from the left before switching it to a swipe to the stomach from the right. The man reacted quickly and parried the attack with finesse. He was excellent; Link had to give him that.
The man slowly pushed Link back with every stroke. Every time Link attempted an offensive the man merely shrugged it off and countered with an attack of his own. Link was fighting a losing battle and both knew it. The man was smirking the entire time, he was simply toying with him!
“That girlfriend of yours has a nice ass. I followed it all the way here!” The man snickered as he thrust at Link again.
Quickly backing up from the thrust, Link countered it with an overhead swing. “You sicko! She is just a girl!” He yelled.
“All the more delicious for me when she is finally mine!” Link’s core was shaken at this statement as the rapier sliced through the edge of his shoulder.
With an agonizing scream Link stumbled back clutching his bleeding arm. He needed to focus on the battle. The man was getting into his mind and throwing him off balance. His love and concern for Malon was clouding his judgment of the engagement. The man was forcing his mind to wander from the battle and he knew it! With a determined look, Link resumed his stance and motioned for the man to continue his assault.
The man chortled at this, “Very good! You saw through my tactic. You learn fast, such a shame that I have to kill you.”
The man surged forward with a flurry of strokes, swipes and thrusts. Link was keeping up with his jabs but was slowly wearing down. Every few seconds he kept looking at the upper landing until he finally saw Malon crouch down in place. Just as the man twirled away from a stabbing jab, he nodded quickly to Malon. She took careful aim with the boomerang and threw it with all her might.
Distracted, the man did not notice the boomerang until it thwacked him in the temple. He stumbled at the concussive force of the blow as Link dived forward to end the battle. The man was shaken but managed to evade the lethal nature of the attack, but not before Link’s sword sliced through his side. The man cursed an oath as he held a hand to his lower rib, feeling the blood flow from the wound.
He snorted as he examined the injury, “No matter. It’ll heal soon enough.”
“Maybe, but how quick can you heal from that?” Link was already running away from him as the man looked down in surprise.
At his feet was a lit bomb, he glared at Link’s receding form roaring in anger as the explosion rocked the massive hall. Rocks and rubble started to fall from the ceiling and smash themselves onto the splattered man. Link breathed a sigh of relief as he looked down from a higher landing at the damage he had wrought. Malon was slightly sick at the gore and blood of the exploded corpse.
“It’s over now Malon.” He swept her up in a bear-crushing hug as she cried into his shoulder. He lovingly ran his hands through her luscious red hair as he comforted her. This was indeed her first taste of the battlefield and she was in utter shock at the brutality of it. Link didn’t even care that the boomerang was gone. Malon did her job as a distraction well. He couldn’t ask anymore of her than that.
A hulking patter of steps interrupted their union. Link glanced over and saw a Dodongo slowly lumbering its way over to them. They were fell lizards that had green scales formed in shield platelets lining their back that protected them from all attacks. They had the nasty ability to breathe fire to incinerate their victims prior to devouring them. It was also unfortunate that it was one of the few times one could strike since their inner bellies were their weak point.
Malon’s eyes bulged at the lizard as Link tilted his head back in disbelief, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is the present? Malon run!”
They sprinted outside to be greeted by two men on horseback: Talamir and Timner. Link skidded to a halt as he brought Malon swinging back around him unaware she was running straight into danger. The two men looked on the pair of them with malice, their bodies hulking in their heavy armor. Each man nocked an arrow to his bow and began to take aim at Link’s heart. Malon screamed.
Link glanced back and noted the Dodongo had followed them, a sharp intake of breath signified it was getting ready to spit fire. He pushed Malon away from him as he dove in the opposite direction. The arrows flew through the air, skimming past where Link was and striking the Dodongo straight in the gullet. Flames billowed out from its mouth as it engulfed the two horses directly in front of it.
One horse bucked off its rider as the other galloped away from the flames, with effort the rider guided it towards Malon. Link rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself up, narrowly avoiding the crushing stomp as the Dodongo tried to squish his arm. Malon was already running away from the rider, however in an instant he was alongside her. With calculating ease, he reached down from his charging horse and picked Malon up by the hair. Screaming from the top of her lungs, she thrashed wildly at her attacker. He dismissively knocked her flailing arms away and smashed her face with his gloved fist. She lost consciousness instantly and slumped across the front part of his saddle.
Upon seeing her seemingly lifeless body slung over the black horse, Link screamed in utter rage. With inner strength he didn’t know he had, he leapt off of the Dodongo’s head and ran headlong towards the rider who had captured Malon. He started laughing at him! Out of the corner of his eye, the second rider rose up and with a loud, sickening crack, Link’s vision went red as he slammed to the ground.
A burbling voice echoed from the cave entrance, “That little bastard! Where is he?”
Clumps of flesh, bone and gore were slithering slowly across the ground as the man sluggishly reformed his body from the prior explosion. Talamir glanced over from his horse at Thanan and laughed. Thanan shot him a glare but didn’t comment, his pain at recomposing himself was excruciating.
Timner chortled, deftly dodging a swipe from the Dodongo, “You look like shit Thanan! Did you underestimate the boy too?” At this both brothers laughed, much to Thanan’s chagrin.
The last thing Link remembered as his vision became obscured was Timner advancing on the Dodongo and putting it out of its misery. He coughed up some blood before resting his head on the ground, letting himself sink into the infinite abyss.
Malon…are you safe…?