They left early the next morning. They were out in Hyrule Field when the sun began peeking over the mountains. They reached Lon Lon Ranch by midday where they stopped to rest and say hello to Malon and her father. They found her standing outside the corral, watching Ingo training the horses. He was yelling at them a lot and chasing them all over, for they all ran when he tried to get close. Sometimes, Malon yelled advice to him.
"Sing them a song! Don't yell at them!"
"Hi, Malon," Link greeted her.
She spun around and brightened at the sight of him. "Oh! Hello, Fairy Boy! What're you doing here?"
Link shrugged, trying to keep the color from his cheeks. "We were just passing by and thought we'd drop in." He leaned against the fence and turned his gaze to the angry farmhand. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, Ingo's trying to train the horses, but they don't like him very much." She frowned. "It's because he's always yelling and cursing."
"I don't doubt it," said Navi.
Malon shook her head sadly. Then, abruptly, she turned to Link and said with a bright smile, "I'm glad you stopped by. Where are you going?"
"We need to get to Kakariko Village," Navi answered for her charge. "Hopefully before night falls."
"Kakariko Village?" Her face lit up. "Hey! Maybe you can ride with my dad! He's making a delivery there!"
"Would he mind?" Link asked.
She shook her head. "Not at all! Me and him owe you such a big favor, we'd do anything for you!" She clapped her hands together and giggled.
"Oh, uh… thanks." Link blushed. "Where is your dad?"
They found him in the barn where he had a cart full of milk waiting to be hooked up to two donkeys. Unfortunately, the donkeys didn't seem to want to be hooked up.
"Confound you stubborn beasts!" he exclaimed as he tried to move them back into the harness.
Malon giggled. "Need help, Dad?" Link grinned too. It was sort of funny to see the round man red in the face as he put his weight on them.
"Oh, please, if you don't mind," Talon answered, giving her a glance. Then he did a double-take.
"Well, well! You again! What're you doing here?"
"Just dropped by," Link answered.
"He needs a ride to Kakariko Village," Malon added. "I told him that you were going there and that he could ride with you."
"Sure he can!" Talon roared genially. Then he began pushing on the donkeys again. "That is, if I can get these brutes hooked up!"
Malon and Link helped, and eventually, with Malon singing to them and Link helping to fasten the harnesses on - and even Navi with her glowing form forcing them back - the two were hooked up. Talon stood back, watching them. When they were done, he wiped sweat off his forehead and exclaimed, "Whew! That was work! But we finally did it!"
Link, Malon, and Navi all exchanged glances. Then Link and Malon turned and giggled while Navi rolled her eyes and smiled.
Talon led the donkeys out of the barn and onto the road leading out of the ranch. Then he clambered onto the cart, grunting and puffing as he did. He eventually managed to get himself settled in the seat but looked winded from the effort. Link climbed into the seat next to him. Navi settled onto his cap. Then, with Malon waving them goodbye and telling Link to be sure to come back and visit, Talon flicked the reins and they were off.
They traveled to the village at a respectable pace - much quicker than Link traveled by foot. The sun was just halfway in its descent toward the mountains when they reached its foot where Impa had told Link he would find the path to Kakariko.
"Almost there, boy!" said Talon cheerfully. He had been talking throughout the ride, recounting tales of the different animals he had tamed, the various places he had traveled to, and the many people he had traded with, but Link had only been half-listening. His focus had been elsewhere - observing the dust that was kicked up by the fast-moving wheels of the cart, watching the birds soaring through the blue sky, and oftentimes looking back to the forest where his expression became more despondent. It was these moments that kept Navi from reproaching her Kokiri's lack of attention to the rancher and had her nodding politely at Talon's comments.
The path to Kakariko had been cleverly hidden. It was angled into the mountainside so that it was not visible until directly on it. It traveled at a fairly gentle slope until it switched back suddenly into a steeper slope that slowed the donkeys down. But the path was wide and smooth so it wasn't too difficult. Soon they crested the slope where a large wooden arch stood, braced against craggy walls. Standing in front of the left leg of the arch was a soldier, who suddenly stood at attention and saluted Talon as he passed. With his spear, he struck his shield, which rang with a resounding, mellow note, and he announced in a carrying voice, "Welcome, good travelers, to Kakariko Village!
Link watched him until he disappeared behind the arch, then he turned his attention to the village itself. The first thing he noticed was that many of the buildings here seemed unfinished. There were big, burly men resting against one of them, which was missing two walls.
"This village was once home to the mysterious Sheikahs," Talon informed him as they turned into the rear of a small shop, "but Impa has turned it into an abode for those in need. Not many people know of its existence, but some day this place will become a bustling city like Hyrule Castle Town, you mark my words."
Navi said to Link under her breath, "I don't believe that will be too soon. I don't see any carpenters working on them."
Talon climbed down from the cart and began unloading the milk. Link helped him set the boxes beside the back door and then waved goodbye to him as he started back to Lon Lon Ranch. When he was gone, Link turned to Navi. "So now what do we do?"
Navi answered, "Impa told you to talk to the villagers here and then go to Death Mountain to get the Spiritual Stone of Fire."
Link glanced around and then exclaimed, "She wants me to talk to all the villagers here?"
"It couldn't hurt. And they might give you some useful tips when climbing Death Mountain."
"Death Mountain… right." Link spun around, taking in the village. "Where is Death Mountain?" The village was mountainous, so the buildings sat at different levels. Most had steps leading up to them, some of which went up higher than others. With these obstructions in the way, Link was unable to see anything that looked like "Death Mountain." He tried looking up and then backing up to get a better view, but then he bumped into someone.
"Oops!" He fell to the ground and got up quickly. He turned to find a big man staring down at him with a scowl on his face. His big arms were crossed over his chest.
"I'm sorry," Link quickly apologized, retreating a few steps backwards. "I didn't see you."
"Couldn't see me, huh?" the man responded gruffly. Link could see why he was skeptical since he was about as wide as a house.
"It was an accident," Navi rushed to Link's defense. "Please don't hold it against him."
The big man grunted and then he growled, "Do you know who I am?"
The man tossed his head and looked toward the men leaning against the unfinished houses. "I am Iaro, Master Carpenter! And Impa hired me to turn this ramshackle village into a true city!"
"If you're the boss," his fairy interrupted - to Link's relief, "then where are your carpenters? I don't see anyone building."
The boss tossed his head again and gave a loud grunt. Then he said, "Well, you've hit on the problem. My workers have all wandered off, frittering away valuable time rather than help me fulfill my grand vision for this place. It's infuriating, I tell you!"
"Okay, uh…" Link shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "N-nice to meet you." He quickly turned and hurried away. He didn't go very far before he encountered a young woman, who was looking into an empty pen with her hands over her face and looking distraught.
Navi studied her thoughtfully. "What do you suppose is wrong with her?"
Link shrugged and then replied, "We could find out." He walked up to her and said, "Excuse me, lady. Is something wrong?"
The lady turned to him and exclaimed, "It's terrible! I'm supposed to be taking care of the cuccoos, but they've all ran off and I can't find them anywhere! Can you help me?"
Link said hesitantly. "Sure. How many are there?"
"I've lost six," she answered. "They should be around this village. If you find them, please bring them back here into this pen."
So Link wandered around the village, looking for cuccoos. As he climbed up and down the contours of the village, he muttered to Navi, "This isn't what I had in mind when Impa told me to talk to all the villagers."
"I wasn't expecting this either, to be honest," responded his fairy. "But she may have valuable information for us." Suddenly, she pointed and cried, "There's a cuccoo, Link! Catch it!"
And so began Link's chase after the skittish birds. He remembered when he had played this game with Talon and had been told he had the potential to be "one of the world's best cowboys." It had made him feel quite proud then, but that had been in a confined and level space. Now he was really being put through his paces, straining his muscles as he ran uphill and focusing on controlling himself without crashing as he ran downhill, all the while keeping up with the cuccoos. The first had been easy enough - he had found it close to a tree and it hadn't expected him to pounce on it, but the rest must have somehow learned he was after them and was causing him trouble. He had finally caught the second one after it had tried to hide itself among the crates of milk that he had helped Talon deliver. The third one he found proved to be a tricky one. It had somehow gotten itself on a high ledge with no visible means for Link to climb up. He tried to reach it by climbing a different rise and then leaping across, but he fell short. The cuccoo clucked and flapped its wings as though laughing at him.
"You think that's funny?" Link grumbled up at it. Then he turned to his fairy, "Couldn't you coax it down or something?"
She tried but the cuccoo only snapped its beak at her and then retreated from the edge. Navi flew back and sighed, "It looks as though we'll have to try something else."
So with a grunt and a disgusted wave of his hand, Link turned to find cuccoos elsewhere. He spotted one up a hill bobbing around the ankles of a guard standing beside an iron gate. He climbed the hill, chased the cuccoo into a corner and quickly caught it. He then started down the hill again with the cuccoo flapping wildly and clucking indignantly. He was moving down the hill too fast though, and tripped. He expected to hit the ground, but, to his surprise, he was lowered to the ground slowly. He climbed back to his feet with an expression of amazement on his face.
"This cuccoo's pretty strong!" he exclaimed.
"Imagine jumping off of high ledges with it," Navi replied before she realized what she had just said. Then she buried her face in her hands and moaned, "Oh no," while at the same time Link grinned. Tightening his grip on the cuccoo's legs, he hurried to the rise where he faced the ledge on which the other cuccoo was nested. It cocked its head quizzically at him. Then it squawked in alarm when Link launched himself with a yell and laughed as he glided across towards it. It retreated to a corner of the ledge, flapping and squawking in panic.
Link touched down on the ledge. "Ha! Got you now!" he said triumphantly. He tossed the cuccoo in his hands off the ledge and then charged toward the other cuccoo.
"Squawk!" cried the cuccoo.
It didn't take Link too long to capture this cuccoo and take it back to its pen. The one he had tossed hadn't strayed far and he easily caught that one too. Now he only needed two more. He eventually found one of them behind a fence, which stretched between a two-story building and a sheer wall of rock. There was a hill leading up to a windmill close by, so all he needed was another cuccoo to float him across to the other side of the fence. He quickly borrowed a cuccoo he had already captured and hurried to the hill. From there, he readied himself to launch over the fence.
"I hope there is a way back out of there," said Navi, trying to peer over the fence from behind Link's shoulder.
Her Kokiri paid no attention to her. He launched himself off the hill and glided over the fence. He dropped from the cuccoo, landing on a surprised bird that squawked and tried to run away. It didn't stand a chance, however. Link had it in his clutches before it had taken two steps. Now he just needed to find a way back out, which came in the form of a set of steps leading up to the door of a shop on the second floor of the building.
"Don't forget the cuccoo you flew in on," Navi reminded him.
Link tossed the bird and then went back for the other bird and tossed it over too. Then he jumped down himself, chased the birds over to the cuccoo lady's pen and tossed them in. The cuccoo lady seemed quite delighted with his efforts, for she clapped her hands together and exclaimed, "That's five of them!" Then she brought her hands to her face and said remorsefully, "But there's still one more to find. Please return it here!"
With a weary sigh, Link hurried off to find the last cuccoo. His weariness soon gave way to impatience as the light waned without one sign of the last cuccoo. He growled in frustration and cried, "Where is it? I'm about ready to give up and just talk to some other villagers!"
"Calm down, Link," said Navi, who was feeling a little cross herself. "Perhaps we should get to a higher vantage point and see if we can spot it."
Link looked around for the highest hill he could see and then started towards it, grumbling along the way. He was suddenly stopped when his fairy exclaimed, "Wait, Link! I think I see it!"
"Where?" Link wheeled around, swinging his head back and forth.
Navi pointed. "On top of that windmill."
Link shot her a strange look and then looked up at the windmill. Then his eyes widened. "How did it get up there?"
Navi responded, "The more pressing question is how do we get it down?"
It was indeed a pressing question for perched on top of the structure, visible behind the blades as they turned slowly, was the cuccoo. The windmill towered over the village from a rock shelf that was much too high and sheer to climb. Then Link spotted the door at its base.
"Aha! Look, Navi!" Link pointed. "Maybe we can climb to the top of the windmill from inside."
But when they entered, all they found was a wooden shaft in the center rotating slowly with groans and creaks, and protruding walls that divided the space around the inside into four sections. Unexpectedly, they also found the windmill filled with strange music - a wheezy melody punctuated by metallic plinking. It had a certain energy to it that was unhurried yet tireless, with a hint of mischief as though it was here to stir up a little trouble. When they discovered the source of the music, they became bemused.
It was a strange, little man with a shiny pate and a goatee that stretched up and around his ears. A horn protruded above his head while its body curled down his back, around his side, and connected to a festively designed box. A crank protruded from its other side, which the man was grinding. As he ground out the music, he sang, "Round it goes! Round we go! Round do all of us go around!"
"Excuse us, sir," said Navi, raising her voice to be heard above the wheezy music. "Can you tell us if there's a way to the top of the windmill? There's a cuccoo there, you see, and we're trying…"
"Catchy little tune, isn't it?" the organ grinder interrupted. "You ought to join me!" And with that, he burst into song again, "Round it goes! Round we go!"
"Please, sir!" Navi shouted impatiently. "If you could pause your music for a moment…"
"Please!" cried the man, too enthralled in his music to listen. "You'll throw me off as - round it goes! Round we go! Round do all of us go around!"
Navi heaved out a sigh of exasperation and motioned to Link irritably that they should leave. Once they were back outside, where the thick stones of the windmill silenced the music, Navi muttered, "I've just about had it with trying to ask people for help. Too absorbed in themselves!"
Given his fairy's mood, Link tentatively posited, "There might have been a ladder in there that could lead us up to the top of the windmill."
"There was no ladder," Navi said curtly, leaving no room for argument. Link decided not to press the matter. He looked up at the cuccoo still clucking contentedly from its perch.
"We may have to tell the cucoo keeper that we cannot bring her the last cuccoo," Navi said, who sounded as though her temper was already cooling. "We can talk with the other villagers before the day passes…"
As Link gazed at the cuccoo high up on its perch, he had a strange feeling that he had seen something like this before. The cuccoo flapped its wings and cocked its head as it observed the village, reminding Link strongly of the owl. And that brought to mind the advice the owl had given him:
"You may find that playing a song will be the key to moving forward. My advice is to play one that you know. Even if you think it serves no purpose."
Might this be what the owl was talking about? Maybe, and maybe not. But it probably wouldn't hurt to try. So he pulled out his ocarina. But what song should he play? Zelda's lullaby? Probably not, he didn't want the cuccoo to fall asleep up there. Maybe Saria's song? It would probably excite it so much that it would jump off the windmill, flapping its wings and gliding to… who knows where… But what about Malon's song? It had made Epona like him. Would it work on cuccoos, too? He decided to try it and he played the call - the gentle melody that beckoned animals to the musician's side.
And beckon the animal it did. With an excited squawk, the cuccoo hopped off the windmill, flapping its wings furiously as it descended in slow circles above Link's head. As the cuccoo drifted closer, he lifted his hands to catch it. The cuccoo glided into his hands and settled there as peacefully as a sleeping baby. Even when Link lowered his hands to clutch it to his chest, it merely clucked contentedly.
His fairy was dumbstruck for a moment. Then she commented, "That was most effective."
"If we had thought of it earlier…" her Kokiri muttered in reply.
They brought the bird back to the cuccoo lady, setting it gently inside the pen. The young woman was delighted and cried excitedly, "That's all of them! Oh, thank you so much!"
A small sigh escaped Link. He quickly covered it by replying, "You're welcome."
She must have heard the petulance in his voice for she bowed her head meekly, "I'm sorry that I made you look for them, but I'm allergic to them. If I touch them, I get a bad rash."
"Oh," said Link, who now felt guilty for making her feel bad. Navi added in consideration, "That's unfortunate. How did you end up with that job if that's the case?"
The woman explained, "They're my brother's cuccoos, but he's gone much of the time. My father is the master carpenter of this village and he has his hands full getting his workers in line. So that leaves me to take care of them." At the look of sympathy on Navi's face, she shrugged, "It's not so bad. As long as they stay in the pen, I just toss in cuccoo feed and fill their water trough. Though I don't like cleaning the trough." She shuddered.
"Well…" said Link hesitantly, choosing his words carefully so he wouldn't offend her again, "getting the cuccoos wasn't too hard. And if they get out again, I can round them up easily for you, now that I know they like music."
"Would you really?" The young woman clasped her hands close to her temple. "That's sweet of you to say." She then reached into her pocket.
"Here… for your help..." She pulled out a small glass bottle and put it in Link's hand. He stared at it rather questioningly.
"You can put all sorts of things in that," she told him. "I hope you find it useful."
"Okay, thanks." Link held it up to the sun so that it sparkled through the glass. Then he tucked it into his pack and waved the lady goodbye as he started back through the village.
Navi glanced up at the sky. "It's getting late, Link." The shadows were already long in Kakariko Village and the sky was starting to turn pink. "Perhaps we should just find our way to Death Mountain."
"Before I wind up doing another chore for somebody," Link muttered to himself, much too quietly for his fairy to hear, though she did give him a look that appeared to be suspiciously like disapproval.
They made their way across the village toward the mountain towering over them. The climb was steep but eventually they arrived at a gate barring the way to a path that wound up the mountainside. And a guard stood next to it.
"No admittance beyond this point!" he cried, snapping to attention when he saw Link approach. "If you wish to pass, you will need a royal decree."
"Perhaps if we had permission from the Princess?" Navi suggested.
The guard turned to her with a dubious expression. "You got permission from the Princess?"
Navi nodded and then turned to her Kokiri. "Show him, Link."
The boy was confused for a moment. Then he remembered and dug into his pack. He pulled out a crumpled letter, which he quickly tried to smooth before handing it to the guard. The guard looked down at the letter with a frown. Then his eyes bulged.
"Well, I'll be!" He squinted and brought the letter closer. "This is undoubtedly Princess Zelda's handwriting! What do you know?" He flashed Link a wry smile. "Looks like you two were telling the truth."
He turned back to the letter and muttered, "Well, let's see…" His eyes flitted back and forth as he read it. "I, Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, by royal decree recognize Link as a friend of the Royal Family and as such grant him access to any and all restricted areas and knowledge."
Suddenly, he burst out laughing. "My, she is learning her politics, isn't she? Must have been so eager to exercise her knowledge with this little game."
Game? Link wondered, feeling deflated. The Princess had seemed serious to him. Could he really be just a part of some silly game?
His fairy came to his rescue. She flew to the soldier's eye level, drew herself up to her full height, and said in her most indignant voice, "Now you listen to me, sir! The Princess has laid faith in this boy! She has seen visions of Link saving this land from a terrible future! Visions that her father does not believe in and thus refuses to take action for! She has taken it upon herself to prevent these terrible visions from happening, and she has assigned Link this great task. Who are you to defy her? Have you no respect for her? Do you not trust her wisdom? Are you going to simply stand aside while evil gathers? Or worse, impede those who have the courage to do something? Are you truly…"
"Okay, okay, all right!" the soldier cried, throwing up his hands in surrender. "You can go now! I'm only doing my job." With a disgruntled harrumph, he withdrew a key from his pocket and inserted it into the lock. Then he shoved the gate so that it slid open. Afterwards, he stood back, turned to Link, and smiled mischievously.
"Just be careful… friend of the Royal Family!" And he burst into laughter again.
"Come on, Link," Navi huffed, darting through the gateway. Her Kokiri followed after her.
Just then, the guard stopped them. "Hold on, one moment. If you really are planning to go up there, I would advise getting a real shield first" He eyed the cracks in the boy's shield meaningfully. "That's not just a mountain you're climbing, it's a volcano!"
Link looked up at the smoky mountain above him and he gulped. He asked the soldier, "So, where do I get one?"
The soldier pointed his spear. "The Bazaar in Hyrule Castle Town, of course."
"Back to Hyrule Castle?!" Link exclaimed, clapping his hands to his head. "That'll take forever!"
"I can make it worth your while. If you tell them I sent you, he'll be sure to knock off a few Rupees for you."
"A discount?" Link looked interested. He glanced down the village pathway back to Hyrule Castle, and he hesitated. He looked up at his fairy. "What do you think, Navi?"
Navi hesitated as well. She turned to the guard, who shrugged and said, "That's what I would advise, but what do I know?"
The two of them exchanged looks. Link glanced up the mountain again. Then he and Navi both glanced down at his scratched, cracked, beaten-up shield.
"Perhaps it would be wise to get a better one," Navi finally conceded. "That one is about to fall apart."
"All right," Link agreed, glad that the decision was finally made.
The soldier smirked at them. "If you're going now, there's something I'd like to ask you - not that you have to!" he said, holding up his hand as Link opened his mouth.
The Kokiri sighed. "What is it?"
The soldier's smirk widened. "Well, I've heard there's a shop over in Hyrule Castle Town that sells some pretty wild masks. I'm not that interested in it myself, but my little boy has always wanted this one mask that everyone is wearing. If you can get me that, I'd be really grateful."
Link glanced up at Navi. She shrugged and replied, "We are heading there anyways, I suppose a stop there wouldn't hamper us too much."
"Hey, thanks, little friend of the Hyrule Family! You know, I'd do it myself if I could, but, well…" He hung his head wearily. "I'm kind of stuck here. Got to keep people off this dangerous path, you know… it's a thankless job." He gave a sigh.
"We'll get it for you," Navi assured him.
But dusk had already fallen, so Navi decided that they would find refuge and rest until morning. Link was relieved to hear this since he hadn't been looking forward to crossing the field again… especially at night. He and his fairy explored the village for a place to sleep, but that proved to be difficult since many of the houses were unfinished. When he finally found a house and walked inside, he was greeted by a tall, thin man with a sour expression on his face.
"Hey, you!" he snarled, pointing at Link. "You can't just walk in here as though you owned the place! Didn't your mother ever teach you how rude it is to enter a home without permission?"
As a matter of fact, Link had never been taught such a thing. Back in his village, everybody walked into each other's homes whenever they pleased. It was considered a mark of friendship for someone to invite himself into your home. There were some exceptions for Link -Mido, for instance - but it had never occurred to him that the rules would be different elsewhere.
"I'm sorry," he told the man.
The man frowned and his wrinkles deepened. "I should think so! The nerve of you little brats! Get out!"
Link left in a hurry. Then he trudged through the village in search of someone friendlier to lodge with.