Story: The Lost Years (chapter 3)
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Title: Year 1: The Letter, the Hammer, and the Boy
[Author's notes: Yep, it's back for a third round. The next couple of chapters are in different time periods, so pay attention to the chapter title!]
First, there was light. Then, there was pain.
As Link (or Lina, as she had introduced herself to Talon) finally woke up from last night's escapades, she ached all over. Ganon, time-travel, and a whole slew of Redead all in one day was more than even a Hero could take.
From what Link (Lina, whatever) could remember from her last visit to the farm, she was in Malon's room, just upstairs from where Talon kept the chickens.
Malon had the usual stuff in her room that one would expect from a Hylian- bed, some chairs, a cabinet, a chest (not of the treasure variety), and a closet... there was other stuff too, but it was more or less what you'd expect from a young girl's room.
She could hear someone coming up the stairs and trying to open the door, with some difficulty. The door opened, to reveal Malon holding a tray, which in turn held some hot soup and fresh milk.
"Good to see you awake. Are you okay?"
Link/ Lina just shook her head. "How would you feel if you had to be a boy for the rest of your life?"
The bedridden girl began to eat the soup, finding that it was pretty good.
"What is this?"
"Tomato soup. Dad taught me how to make it."
"You're a pretty good cook."
Malon smiled just a little. "Thanks. I have to go back down to help move some hay bales, so I'll see you later, okay?"
And with that, Malon left Link with her food. Link simply devoured the sustenance contently, enjoying the taste. 'Best food I've tasted in a very long time.'
Her eyes shifted at the end of the meal to two pieces of paper that had been sticking out of Malon's chest. Intrigued, Link placed the tray at the side of the bed, and pulled the slips out of their spot. The two pieces of paper looked tattered, and had a few ink blots.
The Hero-ine turned the papers over to find that they were actually letters. She read the one in her left hand first.
Malon (At least I hope it is)-
I apologize for not being able to explain this in person, so I must do it in writing. I'm writing to you from seven years in the future- but just listen to me.
The last time we talked, I said that Link would grow up to be a great man. And that he did- he defeated a great evil that enthralled the land. But it came at a great price.
In the final moments of vanquishing said evil, Link was... changed. He was transformed into a woman through the use of a dark potion. According to Impa, it's probably permanent.
The Sages and I have agreed that the only thing we can do for Link now is to send her back to her own time, which for us is seven years ago- but for you, hopefully it's now.
As a friend, Malon, I need you to grant me a huge favor- look after her for me. Link is going to probably be feeling miserable for a while, and she's got no place to go. Protect her, Malon. She's been through so much already.
To become the Hero that we needed, Link lost seven years, sleeping until his eighteenth year. Maybe you can help him make some good memories for those lost years.
'Well, that explains why Malon hasn't asked any questions yet.'
She put the letter back where she found it, nearly forgetting that there was another in her right hand. Figuring that this slip would also be insightful, she began to read it.
It's Ruto. Thanks for letting me and Saria hang out at your place during the last couple years. I-
'Wait a second- since when was Saria allowed to leave the forest?'
Saria was the only Kokiri whom she'd really been close with, and Saria would probably have followed Link on her adventure if given the chance. Problem was that Kokiri were not allowed to leave the Kokiri Forest, mostly because it was rumored that they could not survive outside it.
'Maybe being the future Sage of Forest had something to do with it... still doesn't explain how she grew up.'
That was another thing that Link didn't understand. Kokiri never grew up- they always looked like children. So when Link saw a grown Saria shortly before losing his manhood, it was like getting a bucket of cold water in the face out of nowhere.
Bringing herself out of that train of thought, she continued reading the letter.
I can't thank you enough for being a friend to a stuck up princess and a sheltered Kokiri. But as a friend, I feel that I have to warn you about something.
As you've probably read from Zelda's letter, Link was turned into a girl, and we've basically trusted you to keep watch over her.
Malon, strange things are going to happen over the next seven years. For instance, monsters that are neither among the dead or the living will arise at sunset- tonight. Tonight will be the only time in the next three years and eight months that they'll show, but it'll happen every day after that- so stay away after that.
In short, after you finish reading this, get Link some new clothes (people will recognize her by the tunic), and get him (really, it's getting confusing) out of the Hyrule Castle area.
One more thing- don't try and warn me, Saria, or anyone about what's happened to Link. We won't understand anyway.
Princes Ruto of the Zora
'And that explains how Malon knew about the Redead. Still no real answers about Saria.'
Link made a mental note that she should ask her 'old friend' about that if- no, when, she showed up at the ranch about that. Regardless, she was going to have to act like a complete stranger toward her.
Another noise from the stairs- someone was coming. Link quickly put the other letter back in the chest, grabbed the tray, and hopped back into bed.
The person who opened the door this time wasn't Malon. The man at the door wasn't Talon either. Whereas Talon was stout, chubby, and had a bushy mustache, this one was about twice as tall, three times as skinny, and had a very long mustache, like the kind that you'd see on the villain of a really old black and white movie.
"You're Lina, right?"
Link nearly forgot to nod 'yes', but remembered to at the last second.
"Good." The lanky ranch hand extended his hand toward her. "Name's Ingo. I'm another ranch hand. Good to see that that lazy oaf finally got someone to help me out besides his own daughter." He spat "lazy oaf" out of his mouth with some disgust.
"I mean, the guy owns the place, he should at least try and help out with something besides sleep!"
Link didn't respond.
"Anyway, Talon said that you start whenever you're feeling better."
Link simply said, "Thank you."
Ingo looked downstairs. Talon had fallen asleep... AGAIN. In the middle of the chickens... AGAIN!
"I swear, I should be owner! At least I wouldn't fall asleep on the job!" And with that, he closed the door.
Link just stared at the door, remarking how eerily similar Ingo's wish was to what the future would bring.
The next day, Link decided to start helping out around the ranch.
She came out of the building, wearing a dreary combination of brown pants and a brown shirt. Like I said, dreary.
Ingo handed her a saw and hammer. "Talon said that we have to build you a room. Says that a 'little lady' shouldn't be forced to share with another 'little lady' if she didn't choose to."
It was decided that Link's (or Lina's) room would be built next to the chicken coop. Seeing as how there was already a building there already (as a result of Talon's failed attempt to build a place to keep some pigs), it was decided that it would be the best use of time.
And so things went on, spring to summer, and summer to fall. Malon took care of the horses and cattle, Link and Ingo built the new room, and Talon took care of the chickens (read: slept all day).
About two weeks after the leaves began to fall; the two ranch hands/ carpenters finally finished their jobs, and had finished furnishing the room with a bed, a cabinet, a closet, and two chests. Which more or less made Link's room a bare bones version of Malon's room. Not that she cared.
Talon walked out of the chicken coop, anxious to see how things had turned out. He took a good look at the fruit of his worker's labors, then slapped Ingo on the back. "Well, we did it."
Link could see quite easily that Ingo's right eye was twitching. She'd learned that Ingo only did that when he was really mad. Despite this, he gritted his teeth, only responding with a "Yes, sir."
"And you, Lina. You certainly did a fine job with the woodwork. It's a good thing I hired you."
Ingo's eye was twitching even more now. 'Good thing he never realized that I was never actually hired.'
"Well, let's call it a day, eh?"
"Talon, it's only noon."
"Well, Malon said that she's managed to finish up early today. So I think we can all afford to relax for the rest of the day."
The three started to walk toward the spacious area where the horses were kept, to find Malon arguing with a boy about Link's age. This boy wore various shades of *purple* for some reason, with a very dark shade for a sort of cape, complete with a hat of the same color (with a red jewel near the brim). Heck, even his hair was a shade of purple, long enough to cover his left eye. His eyes had to have been the only thing about him (besides his skin) that wasn't that color- his eyes were as red as a pile of apples.
Ingo shook his head. "Oh, for the love of- not this kid again."
Link looked up at her fellow ranch hand. "What's going on?"
"Well, this kid keeps trying to find some excuse to stay on the farm. Keeps saying that he's got no place to go. But the kid's not very convincing, and," looking at the boy when he said it, "he's kinda creepy. Not at all like that 'Fairy Boy' Malon kept talking about a couple of months ago."
Evidently, the two had stopped arguing, and the boy walked off, yelling something about the stupidity of girls.
Malon started to run after him, clenching her fists. "THAT'S IT! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A GAME OF SUPER CUCCO!" She continued to run after the guy, but fell flat on her face from a tree root. Talon's daughter proceeded to grab her ankle, screaming in pain.
Despite the fact that Talon and Ingo had longer legs, Link still made it to where Malon fell first. "You alright, Malon?"
Malon didn't answer, still holding her ankle.
Talon and Ingo finally got there, kneeling on the ground. Talon spoke. "Malon let me see, let Daddy see."
She whimpered as Talon analyzed the injury.
"You'll be alright, you just twisted your ankle. I'll fix something up for you."
The usually cheery man looked at the boy with a hint of scorn as he carried Malon back into the chicken coop.
"Ingo, what's 'Super Cucco'?"
"It's a little competition that Malon and that boy usually have after a heated argument. They use the outcome of that to determine who's right and who's wrong. Malon usually wins, but with her ankle shot, I don't think she'll be able to shut that little whiner up."
The boy simply smirked as Malon walked back out with a mini-cast on her left foot.
"Say it, Malon."
"Say what?" If looks could kill, the look on Malon's face would've sent out seventeen knives, three gun shots, and several different types of poisons.
"Since you can't win our game, just come out and say that girls are stupid."
"Okay, would you like to try and play, then?"
Malon knew that he had her there. If she said it, then it would be demeaning, and would give the idiot the arguement. If she didn't say it, then she'd hurt herself even worse while that guy was watching, and give him the arguement.
"I'll play you."
Both the boy and the redhead turned to find a girl dressed in brown walking toward them.
"Lin-" Link looked at her. Malon had almost let the cat out of the bag.
"Lina, what are you talking about?"
"I'll play against him."
The boy smiled even more. "Fine. I don't care who I win against, just as well as I win." And with that, he walked into the chicken coop.
Ingo walked closer toward the girls, just a little surprised. "Well, that was interesting. I'm off to bed."
So then he walked off in the direction of the cow barn, knowing that his room was upstairs.
"Link, you really didn't-"
"I really did, Malon. That guy was being a jerk, and needs to be taught a lesson."
"But you don't even know how to play Super Cucco!"
As Link started to walk toward the chicken coop, she responded, "Yes, I do."
She wasn't lying, either. When Link had come back here to visit Malon as an eleven year old boy, Link played a game of Super Cucco. He won a bottle of Lon Lon Milk.
As she entered the room, she could see Talon, sitting in the corner behind the counter, while the boy from earlier stood in the middle of the room, his cape stashed in another part of the coop.
"Ready to lose?"
Link just looked at him with a little smile. He might have played the game more, but she still knew which Cuccos to catch. Malon followed, not wanting to miss out.
Super Cucco, for those who are not aware (or never played Ocarina of Time- for shame), works like this. You have one minute to catch three 'Super Cuccos'. The catch is that these birds are hidden among a flock of other, smaller Cuccos. Now, when you're playing by yourself, you have to do this in a minute's time. But if you played with a friend, then the first person to find two Super Cuccos would be declared winner.
As Talon prepared to release the birds, he looked at the two contestants. "Let's make things a little more interesting, shall we? The winner can have my daughter's hand in marriage!"
The boy just started laughing. Link started to worry a little, but only a little. Talon had pulled this joke the last time he'd played Super Cucco- but if he wasn't joking, then she was NOT about to let some mean bozo have Malon.
Malon was not amused. 'If he wins, then I'm marrying an arrogant bully. If she wins, I'm marrying Link- but Link's a girl, and I'm supposed to like boys, like Link.'
'Wait, but if Link's a girl now... my head hurts.'
Malon decided that now would be a good time to speak up.
"Dad, I do not-"
Three birds were tossed into the air, and the game was afoot.
Link immediately ran for the back of the room, swearing she saw one of the Cuccos fly back there. Small... Small... Small... no sign of the Supers...
Link turned around to find the boy holding one of the Super Cuccos. She was going to have to find two in a row to have any chance of showing this guy up.
'And there's one.'
Link grabbed the Cucco right in front of her, claiming the second Super Cucco.
"That's two! One more still in there!"
The boy started grabbing at every bird he could find. Link just stayed still, trying to concentrate. It was at this point that Mr. Cluckers came up to Link's right foot and started to peck at it. Link scanned the entire room, but she was not getting any closer to finding the bird.
"Darn it, Mr. Cluckers! It is so hard to think when you're pecking at my foot!"
She picked up the Cucco to emphasize this.
"And that's three!"
Link saw that the boy was holding several different birds, but they were all really small.
"Lina, you win."
Link looked at Mr. Cluckers. The Cucco must've grown a lot in the last couple months.
The boy just gave Link the coldest stare she'd ever gotten in her life- even colder than the ones that Mido used to give- and left.
"Now Lina, you win Malon's hand in holy matrimony!" He placed Link's left hand in Malon's right.
The two girls looked at each other, looked at their hands, removed said appendages (with a blush), and started screaming at the jolly man.
"Dad, I can't believe you!"
"Risking a woman's future-"
"EASY! Easy! It was just a joke! A joke!"
That made Malon feel a little better- she wouldn't have to deal with marrying a woman or that bonehead anytime soon. Yet, a little voice in the back of her head (one that she always ignored) was a little disappointed that she hadn't been promised to Link.
Link was still a little furious. Talon had played that trick on her twice now, and it had gotten stale. 'Still, at least Malon's safe.'
Talon had walked over to the girl and handed her a bottle of cool milk. "Thanks for showing that lad a thing or two. I swear, that Vaati really needs to learn some manners."
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