Chapter 6 - The Rescue
Tears were streaming from his eyes as he swung his sword again and again. Slashing off limbs, stabbing through eye sockets, dragging his sword through the bodies of the men he had to kill over and over. Link was never intimidated of killing monsters and feral animals, but he never had to kill another person until Ganondorf; the memory of his battle in a future that was slowly fading away. He remembered vividly his final strike to the face of the beast known as Ganon. Once a man, now a creature of terrifying power. The feel of the blade sinking into his forehead still chilled Link to the core with the enormity of what he had done.
Why were these men forcing him to kill them continuously? Saria was already a whimpering wreck on her knees near Epona, watching her dear friend hack these two men apart as they ever so relentlessly kept pulling themselves back together. Link sliced the head off of the blond headed man. It flew through the air and rolled within feet of Saria’s position. She shrieked in horror as it looked at her with beady eyes.
“Well aren’t you a sight better than that unruly boy?” The head simpered.
Link ducked under a jab the headless body attempted as it fashioned a trident out of thin air in an endeavor to skewer his torso with it. “Saria, kick that thing into the bushes. Make him work for it!”
Saria screamed in terror as she punted the head into the brush, teeth trying to snap at her toes as her foot connected. The black haired man was slowly dragging his body to a standing position near a tree as his disembodied left hand was crawling up his back to get onto the stump of an arm. After it reattached itself, he took his right foot which was twisted at a sickening angle and gave it a sharp twist; with a grunt of pain he endured the bone settling back into place.
“Talamir, go grab your head. You can’t aim worth shite like that and you know it.” Timner exclaimed.
The body of Talamir made one last feeble effort at a parry as Link sliced the arm with the weapon off. It slumped to the dirt with a thud oozing its sickly blood onto the ground, the trident rolled out of the lifeless hand and melted into the grass leaving a black stain on the ground. Link took a double take where it fell and noticed the grass that had touched the trident was dead and grey. It was then that Link noticed the dead horse was nowhere to be seen. He glanced in the direction he last saw the body and noticed a huge patch of dead greenery where it had lain. Dear Goddesses, he thought, their magick can destroy nature around it!
Link didn’t have time to think as he brought his sword up to shield the oncoming blow from Timner. A clang of steel punctured the night air as Link struggled against the man’s superior strength. The harder Link pressed up against the man’s sword, the more he could feel himself losing. Timner pushed harder and harder down onto Link, overbearing his capacity to withstand the assault.
“Looks like your time has run out boy!” Timner chortled as his eyes tore into Link’s own.
Link let the man push his sword down as he bent over backwards under the descending sword strike. Link rolled past Timner’s legs and quickly grabbed a Deku Nut from his belt pouch and as the man turned to face him threw it in-between his eyes. A flash bang erupted through the night as the world went white, a split second later Timner was roaring with frustration as flashing lights dazzled before his eyes. He was dazed and staggered backwards with his sword up pitifully trying to defend against any incoming strikes. It wasn’t enough, Link side stepped behind him and sliced his head clean off. He quickly kicked it as far as he could into the woods before rushing back to Saria.
“Saria, I need your help and fast!” Link started to unbuckle his belt, Saria looked at him confused, “We need to splint Epona’s legs and staunch the blood or she will die. Someone at the castle taught me this.”
Link stopped and stared at Saria as she looked on uncomprehendingly, “Saria!” She looked up at his face, “Unbuckle your belt too!”
Saria did as she was told and unfastened her belt, she handed it to him. He took both and knelt down beside Epona. He looked around the forest floor and found what he was seeking.
“Saria,” Link held up a long thick branch the width of his wrist and the length of his arm, “can you find me another stick like this?”
She rushed off in the opposite direction of the two dangerous men, frantically scouring the ground for anything that would match what Link was looking for. Link glanced over his shoulder and spotted the various parts of Talamir and Timner struggling to place themselves back together. Good, he thought, I have some time here. Turning back to his horse he wilted with despair, she was simply laying on her side head lying on the ground; she had given up fighting. This was going to make things difficult.
He crept closer to her front legs and gently massaged them. She lifted her head to look at him and neighed weakly. “Sorry girl, you’re not going to like this.”
Link closed his eyes knowing the pain he would cause her. With a sharp pull, he straightened her leg out with a crunch. Her body convulsed in pain and her cry was shrill in the night air. Her nostrils flared as she looked at her master, not understanding why he was hurting her so. Without wasting time, he aligned the branch beside the wound so that equal measures were above and below the opening. He quickly wrapped his belt around her leg, keeping the branch firmly in place. Saria was just coming back with an acceptable switch for Epona’s other leg as he tightened the belt securely.
Saria’s eyes widened slightly as she began to clutch the branch closer to her chest. Link took the cue and quickly rolled to the side, cursing himself for leaving his sword lying in the grass a few feet away. The scimitar chewed into the dirt as a muffled oath came from Talamir. Link swiped up his sword and sprinted over the dead grass where the mist horse once laid and grappled his shield. Talamir wasted no time in closing the distance between them.
Link quickly reached down to his belt only to realize with dismay that his Deku Nut pouch was still attached to his belt wrapped around Epona’s leg. He ducked down beneath the swipe from Talamir as he bolted around the snorting body of Epona, still in shock from the splinting of her leg. He slipped on the dirt and skidded right in front of her, face inches away from his goal.
Talamir saw what the boy was intending to do and switched targets. He stepped over to the horse and raised his scimitar into the air to initiate a plunging thrust into the stomach of the struggling mare. Time seemed to slow for Link as he grasped what Talamir was doing, without thinking he heaved his shield at the man’s chest knocking him off balance. It was enough time for him to duck his hand into the pouch and grab a Deku Nut free. He tossed it across Epona and it landed squarely in front of the man. Another flash bang reverberated through the forest as Talamir staggered back a few steps, stunned.
Link leaped over Epona and stabbed Talamir in the heart. Holding the sword tight, gravity brought Link down, forcing the sword downward splitting him from sternum to waist. As Link pulled the sword free from the man’s innards, Talamir slumped to the ground watching his intestines and organs spill out of him. He looked up at Link with malice in his eyes.
“You know you can’t win.” Talamir sneered.
Without another word, Link sliced his head off and kicked it with venomous fury into the brush. “Recover from that!” Link yelled.
With grim determination, he turned to Saria, grabbed the stick and went right to work. He pulled the other leg straight swiftly, Saria winced at the agony Epona was feeling. He quickly set the switch and wrapped Saria’s belt tightly around the second leg. With a nod of appraisal at his work, the hardest part was yet to come: getting her to stand. He motioned for Saria to get behind Epona and help him lift the horse up onto her hooves.
Link berated himself for allowing the Goron to leave early; he could have really used his strength right about now. After much grunting, squealing, and whinnying they finally got Epona onto all four hooves. He dared not ride her in this state, he knew it would not help any further with the weight she was already placing on her injured front legs. He glanced at the gash along her hind leg and saw that it had already dried but would make future travel difficult.
A slurping sound secreted from Talamir; Link turned and observed the headless corpse slowly stuffing its insides back into the body. Saria started to heave and had to look away. Another groan off in the distance heralded the fact that Timner found his head and was reattaching it back to his body. Above it all, Link noticed that the sound of men and raging fires were getting closer. He could dimly see the flames in the distance.
Link grabbed the reins and guided Epona onward, “Saria,” he gripped her arm, “we have to go. We cannot stay.”
Saria nodded her head and started walking beside him. Epona gingerly followed her master; slightly confident he knew what he was doing.
The two riders raced across the plains of Hyrule, united by the common goal of finding a dear friend. Zelda held fast onto Impa’s waist as Impa pushed the brown horse close to its endurance. The Lost Woods were dead ahead and there was an urgent need to get there as fast as they could. Impa wanted to save Link and any Kokiri left surviving; Zelda only thought of Link.
Impa pulled the stallion up short as they reached the edge of the woods. They looked upon it in dejection, how could they find the object of their search? The forest was massive and if they encountered Naar’s troops, then it would be all over. Where would they start searching? They were almost without hope when Impa spotted several dots at the far northern edge of the woods. She urged her steed onward with Zelda in tow towards the figures in the distance.
As they approached, she happily discovered that it was indeed Link, holding hands with a young green-haired Kokiri girl and a…bleeding red mare. Impa noted he had applied several splints to its legs to help staunch the flow of blood as well as assist it in walking. She had to applaud the boy on his clever, innovative use of the tools at hand. It wouldn’t be enough. Impa knew the horse would need medical attention soon.
Impa rode up to Link and leapt down from the saddle and strode up to him in one deft motion. She bent down to look at the Epona’s legs. Link looked over at Zelda with relief and she returned the smile. Saria looked on, unsure of what to do. She had heard stories of Princess Zelda but had never met the girl herself. She blushed slightly and looked down at the ground in embarrassment. She wished she could be as pretty as Zelda.
Without a word, Impa reached into a pouch at her side and pulled out some green leaves. She chewed then up in her mouth and then applied them to the wounds. Epona nickered at the stinging the palliative was inducing. After a few moments, reprieve was evident in her face as the pain slowly started to ebb away. Impa stood up and turned to Link.
“Link, it is good to see you. You look like Din’s forge.” She observed the various cuts and bruises across his skin and the massive amounts of gore on his clothes. They both seemed to be doing the same thing this night. She smirked at the thought.
“You should see the other guy.” Link exclaimed breathlessly. The adrenaline of the past hour was starting to wear off.
Impa grinned at his comment. Over the course of the last few months, they both had gotten to know each other a bit. She knew they shared the same sense of humor and it was as vibrant as ever. She shook her head slightly. Maybe she was rubbing off on him? Now that was a scary thought.
Impa shook Saria’s hand, the girl seemed flabbergasted at the honest show of concern, “You must be Saria. It is great to finally meet you young lady.” Saria blushed.
Saria was shaken when Impa swiftly lifted her up onto her horse in front of Zelda. She stood beside the horse and placed a hand on Zelda’s leg, Link had noticed her dress was covered in blood. It was still dark as fresh as it was. Link didn’t have time to dwell on the matter though.
“Zelda, you will ride beside us, keep Saria safe and secure on the horse. We head for Kakariko Village.” Impa directed.
“Yes Impa.” Zelda complied.
Link tapped Impa on the arm, “Actually, can we stop by Lon Lon Ranch first?”
Impa went to question him, but didn’t inquire further when he went silent. Zelda caught his eye and held it a brief moment before he looked away. She knew why he wanted to go back. She squeezed her eyes tight as tears began to form. Without another word, they moved at a decent pace. With Epona’s injuries no longer hurting her as much, she was able to manage a trot.
They reached the ranch just as the sky was beginning to brighten with the coming of the dawn. Link handed Epona’s tether to Impa as he rushed past the stables. It was deserted, only a couple of horses had been left behind, oblivious to what was going on around them. He looked out across the pasture in search of Malon. Walking to its center he found the bucket of cold water; it had gone murky and the sponge was dry in the grass. There was one scrawny old cow still left apparently sleeping. He sighed and headed back.
As he overviewed the ranch, he took note of the construction which would forever be left unfinished. Arches and support beams were spread out across the field, all in different stages of progress; all in preparation for a Royal Feast that was not to be. The big fire pit in the center had been erected but a week earlier, not a single flame would touch that pit for a long time to come, Link knew. This ranch was now a dead ranch. After obligatorily checking the house, he walked up to Impa.
“I think we should take at least one of the horses,” He pointed over to the stables, “and release the rest.”
Impa purported this good idea and set to work. As she brought out an agreeable horse, Link swung himself up into the saddle. He had to balance himself since the horse was a bit larger and his legs further apart than he was used to on Epona. Not to mention how much higher he was!
As they headed out of the ranch, he glanced back at Zelda. An imploring look from Zelda baffled him. A touch of crystalline was trailing down her face. He went to ask why she was crying but disregarded it and turned to follow Impa as she guided Epona by the reins towards Kakariko Village.