Chapter 42 - The Nature of Ingo
Malon had rested the majority of that day. Too weak to do much else, she laid in bed enjoying the sun streaming in from the window. She discovered they had stripped her naked. She also noticed her shredded clothes draping over the nearby chair, a huge gash down the front. Did they have to do that to fix her? She figured they didn’t do anything sexual towards her, so for that she was thankful.
The shock of seeing Ingo after eight long cycles had been quite a blow to Malon. Her mind was still reeling from the absurdity of it. When Link came back from the future, as he always liked to tell it, one of the first things he did was identify Ingo as a liar and a cheat. Indeed the man had been embezzling money on the side off of every delivery they had made. Within short order, Talon fired him from the position and sent him packing. The only decent thing they did was provide him a horse and some provisions for wherever he was to go next. Talon didn’t really care, as long as it wasn’t at Lon Lon Ranch.
She had awoken again. Time was fuzzy and she had no idea how long she had been passed out. A woman was sitting on the chair with a bowl of oatmeal. Seeing Malon awake, she moved closer and began spooning the food in with a motherly touch. Malon could barely lift her head up, so the woman helped prop her upper body. Grimacing as she was moved into a position that felt worse than simply lying down, Malon eventually accepted each spoonful.
“Who are you?” Malon asked, speech coming much easier to her now.
The woman smiled as she dipped the spoon back into the oatmeal, “Orauna. I believe you’ve met my husband already.” She spoke warmly.
Malon spluttered as food spewed out of her mouth at the woman’s reveal. She began coughing so hard the woman had to set the bowl down to assist Malon. The pain in her chest was excruciating. “You…are married to Ingo?!” She yelled mystified.
Orauna’s smile never left her face, “Yes. He is a good man. We’ve been married for six cycles now. Did you know him before?” She asked inquisitively.
After resettling, she gratefully accepted another spoonful of the delicious porridge, Malon answered, “You could say that. He once worked for my father at Lon Lon Ranch to the north of here. He was fired for stealing money from us.”
Orauna cocked her head at this, “That honestly doesn’t sound like him.” She shook her head briefly, “Even if it was true, he is not that way anymore.” She placed another spoonful in Malon’s mouth before she had a chance to offer a rebuttal. She pressed on, “He is the mayor of our small town and does right by its people.”
“What does he do now?” Malon prodded.
“He helps protect this town from the bandits and army sympathizers. If you want to know more, you will have to ask him. He is looking forward to speaking to you again when you are better.” Orauna informed.
Malon examined Ingo’s wife with a critical eye. She wasn’t pretty by any means, but she was still very comely. She sported strawberry blonde hair that curled at her shoulders. Her eyes were a dusty shade of brown, complete with a button nose. She was wearing a full length blue dress with white frills along the bottom and at the arm openings; it was buttoned down to the middle of the chest. It was simple, yet elegant, fitting for the wife of the mayor. The most notable point of interest was her swollen belly. Malon guessed she was at least seven orbits pregnant.
“You are with child.” Malon pointed out.
Orauna beamed, rubbing her belly, “Yes, it is to be our second child. Our first is Lloyd. He will be seven cycles old in just a few orbits. He can’t wait.”
Taking another mouthful, Malon leaned back completely bewildered. Ingo was now a family man? The thought had never occurred to her that it could even happen. The only memories she had of him was of a cantankerous, creepy man who would leer and yell at her constantly. He was very disagreeable and always looked shifty, no matter what he was doing. This new side to the man was quite foreign to Malon.
“How many families are there here?” She asked.
Orauna slipped in the final mouthful, “Ten families. There are a lot of men and young boys here.” Her expression wilted, “Although that number was considerably reduced last night. A lot of good men died yesterday.”
Malon vaguely remembered some sort of skirmish while she was fading in and out of consciousness. “What happened?”
Orauna shook her head as she held out a hand for Malon to stop, tears were coming to the woman’s eyes. “I’m sorry; the pain is still too near.” She got up and moved the chair back to the wall and began heading out. She stopped at the door before turning to look at Malon again, “I don’t know who your friends are, but consider yourself saved. Ingo did you a favor bringing you here.” Without explaining herself, she swept out of the room.
How long ago had that conversation been? Malon had fallen asleep once more. A small poking at her arm woke her. She turned her head to see a young boy with dirty brown hair. He was staring at her with obvious interest. Something about his facial features reminded her of Ingo. At length she decided it was Lloyd. He smiled at seeing her awake, the warmth in his eyes comforted her greatly. To still see such innocence in this mad world was refreshing. Malon missed her little sister.
“Are you a fairy?” Lloyd asked excitedly, never taking his eyes off from hers.
She smiled, humoring him, “What makes you say that?”
His eyes flicked nervously down the bed before riveting back onto her face, “Um…well…because I heard fairies never wear any clothes.”
Malon jerked her head to look down and saw that her chest was exposed, she must has tussled the covers partially off while she was sleeping. She quickly brought the covers back up to her neck. She giggled slightly, wincing at the pain it caused before replying to the boy. “No, I’m not a fairy. I’m just a girl from Hyrule.”
“I like you.” Lloyd stated. It wasn’t exactly a compliment. It was just a fact to him. “Will you marry me when I’m older?” He asked.
Malon suppressed the urge to laugh because it would hurt too much. “You are cute, but I think I’m a bit too old for you.”
Undaunted by her refusal, the strong headed boy continued, “Well I can grow older! Mommy always said that boys and girls grow every day. One day, I’ll be as tall as you!” He finished with a confident smile. His innocence was infectious. Malon had missed that these past few moons.
“True.” She grinned at the delightful boy, “But what if I already have a husband? Like your mommy has with daddy? You’d need to find someone else.”
Completely missing the point, Lloyd pressed onward, “Well he could just stay at home while I take you riding on horseback!”
“You’re cute.” She reached over to ruffle his hair.
He frantically waved her hand away from his head, “Stop! Mommy does that all the time and I hate it!”
Malon merely smirked. “So you like horses, do you?”
Lloyd practically quivered with excitement at being asked about his favorite pastime. “I do! I really, really do! Daddy lets me brush his horse and feed it! Its tongue feels so funny when I feed it apples.” His eyes aglow with the remembrance.
“I have a horse too.” Malon revealed, “He is a handsome stallion. I raised him from the time he was first born. His name is Harden.”
Lloyd’s eyes bulged, “Will you take me riding on your horse when we’re married?!” The boy asked elatedly.
Malon wheezed softly, it was the only way she could laugh without hurting her chest, “We’re not getting married, but I can definitely take you for a ride on him.”
The boy beamed from ear to ear. A gruff voice from the doorway shot the boy to attention, “Lloyd! Give that woman some space! Go on, get outside!”
Ingo stalked in through the doorway and aggressively pointed a finger out to the hall. The boy gave one last, wistful look at Malon before trudging past his father. Content with his son’s obedience, Ingo turned to give a glaring look at her. He paced over to the chair before dragging it gratingly across the floor. Placing it directly next to her bed, he plopped down unceremoniously onto it. The chair creaked under his weight. Ingo had gained a few more pounds than when she last saw him.
His tangled mess of brown hair was only matched by his slovenly shaved mustache. It extended beyond the bounds of his lips and was quite comical looking. Ingo had a gangly appearance despite the extra pounds. He was not thin by any means. Draped over his protruding beer belly was a plain, brown shirt overlaid with a fur vest that buttoned in the middle via leather ties. A pair of white tights completed the entire debacle with muddy, black leather boots.
Leaning back against the chair with one arm resting over the back, he leered at her for a few moments. “I have to admit,” Ingo graveled, “I was quite surprised to see you here, of all places, after so many cycles.”
Malon, slightly unnerved, spoke, “How did you know it was me?”
Ingo scoffed as he gestured to her hair, “No Hylian has that shade of red. A Gerudo is the only person I know of that could be born with that hair color. And you did not look like any Gerudo I’ve seen. It wasn’t hard to guess who you were.”
An unsettling thought flashed across her mind, she hesitantly ventured, “Did…did you do anything to me…while I was…?”
Snorting with scorn, he barked, “You mean: did I rape you while you were asleep? Oh Malon, if I had wanted to do that, you would have been raped ten times over. Not to say you aren’t pretty to look at.” Ingo sneered at this comment, looking upon her covered form.
Instinctively, Malon brought the covers up tighter around her at this seeming violation of her dignity. “What did you want of me?” Malon asked apprehensively.
“You? Nothing…unless you know where your father is. Where is he these days? I do wish to speak to him.” He chortled with an undercurrent of menace.
Malon decided it best not to reveal the whole situation to Ingo, “We split ways after a time. I was traveling with someone down here.”
“You mean Link?” Ingo stated, clearly startling Malon at his knowledge. “Don’t take me for a fool Malon. I recognized the brat the moment I spotted his sandy blonde hair, like I could forget the face of the person who changed the direction of my life.” He huffed. “So he’s your sex buddy now, eh?” He sneered.
“What…?” Malon stuttered, trying to make sense of his accusation.
“Oh, don’t be so modest. It’s okay to tell the truth, we’re all friends here aren’t we?” Ingo simpered. “You two both eloped, you ran away from your father with him. Is that how it went?” He laughed manically as she vehemently shook her head at his allegations.
“Either tell me about why you came or just leave me alone.” Malon demanded with false conviction, she just wanted the torment to end. Her lungs were starting to hurt again.
Ingo went silent for a few minutes looking at the wall; seemingly lost in indecision. At length he spoke, his tone noticeably softer, “I guess to talk to someone who knew me for how I used to be. Nobody here would understand where I’d be coming from, nobody but you.”
Malon eyed him warily, but decided to be still and let him continue. “I have to actually thank you and Link for getting me fired.” Her eyebrows rose at this unexpected compliment. “The economy of Nevachrea had tanked, so I had originally come to Hyrule looking for work and a new life. I truly believed I had found it at Lon Lon Ranch, unfortunately it was run by an incompetent proprietor who couldn’t keep his damn ledger straight!”
“Excuse me?” Malon gasped, offended at the insinuation he was making of her father.
Ingo’s eyes flared as he jabbed a finger at her, “You better shut that pretty, little trap of yours before I change my mind how we treat you!” Pleased with cowing her, he surged onward, “As I was saying, everything I had done for Lon Lon Ranch was for the betterment of the business! For ten, damn cycles I slaved away for that abominable man! Talon refused to see my talents and always had me doing menial tasks; me, Ingo!”
He let loose a note of disgust. With a wave of his hand, his expression drained. “No matter; I was out of a job and was wandering lost in what I was to do with my life. Since I was a Nevachrean, born and raised, I felt it prudent to head back down south to restart. I traveled as far southeast as the capital of my country. It was nothing like I had expected it to be.” Ingo grimaced at the thought. “A state of martial law had been instated in Glaun’rung. The army had been poised for war and was on the move. There was nothing there for me but to join their ranks.”
Ingo scoffed at this notion, “I knew it wasn’t for me. I was not going to throw away my life for some stupid cause! So I came here to Yolland, my home of birth. Very few people recognized me as I came riding in on my horse, provisions nearly gone and dehydrated. They tended to me and brought me back to good health. In time, I met my wife, Orauna. Within a cycle we were married and had our first child, Lloyd.”
A genuine smile crossed his face. It was so alien for his face that it looked almost odd being there. “To tell you the truth Malon, if it weren’t for you and Link, I would not have my family. They are truly the light of my life.”
“You’re welcome?” Malon responded diffidently.
“Did you like my son?” Ingo asked abruptly.
Malon nodded her head vigorously, afraid to upset this potentially volatile man. “So, why were you attacking us?” She could deduce what had happened last night, eager to change the subject.
His face frowned at her question, “Yolland has been fortunate for the past seven cycles, we have managed to evade the eyes of the army. They have left us well enough alone. In time, ambassadors and messengers have visited our town and requested materials and aid to the cause. Many folks believed assisting this dangerous endeavor would be the death to our families.”
“What did you do?” Malon grilled.
“The only thing we could do, I helped establish a militia and trained every able bodied man and youth who could fight. We noted several caravans from neighboring towns traveling to the frontlines to deliver weapons, provisions and other war necessities. Our ultimate goal was to intercept these deliveries and return the goods to their rightful owners. We had been succeeding for the last two cycles. Last night, we mistook you for part of the main army.” Ingo explained.
“Why did you just take me?” Malon probed, a bit afraid of what the answer could be.
Ingo grunted at her anxiety, “Our intention was to take you all in and interrogate as to why you were there to begin with. If you aren’t with the Nevachrean army, who are you with?”
They had gotten to the crux of the matter at last, “We aren’t with them.” Malon assured him quickly.
“I figured as much.” Ingo said, crossing his arms. “No matter, I have a feeling that boy will come for you eventually. Maybe we can talk then about the true purpose of why you are here in Nevachrea.”
Malon lightly bit her lower lip before tentatively asking, “Are…you like them?” Seeing his inquisitorial gaze, she clarified, “Are you unable to die?”
Ingo bellowed out a hearty laugh, nearly making Malon leap from the bed in fright. He fought heavily to control his amusement in-between words, “Goodness, no! I know exactly what you mean though. That is something that is not natural to our people. I honestly have no idea how they do it. What we do know is how to kill them. You must make sure not a single piece of them is left. The easiest way is to burn the bodies, but you must be quick about it!” He sniggered.
His shoulders slumped as if a great weight had been relieved after having divulged his life story to her. Suddenly, a horn resonated through the window. Ingo’s eyes snapped outside, eyeing the dwindling sunlight as it bowed below the western mountains. He swore an oath as he stood up. A guard ran into the room before stopping suddenly several feet from Ingo.
“What is it now?” Ingo snapped.
After a quick salute, the man quickly relayed the news. “It is the Southern Raiders sir! They are attacking from the west. There are five of them on horseback!”
“Man the gates! Do not let anyone out! They have yet to breach the walls all these orbits, they will not do so tonight!” Ingo snarled.
Both men swept out of the room, Ingo only stepping back as Malon called out to him. “Ingo, who are they?” She inquired.
“The Southern Raiders!” Ingo spat in contempt. “The very people your boyfriend rode off with last night!” Without another word, he dashed down the hallway leaving Malon alone filled with looming dread.