Chapter 2: A Man Called Wolf
Link was introduced to the caravan that was to be under his guidance. Ilia, Colin and Sam knew his true name and identity. The rest did not. The three agreed to call him by his chosen nickname of “Wolf” in front of others.
To get Sam to agree to the secret-keeping required Link to take a dock in pay. What he didn’t tell the trail boss is that he would have taken this job on for free since old friends of his were involved. Truthfully, he did not have much use for rupees, except in his dealings with the Gerudo, the occasional times he rode into Hyrule-proper to deal with people in the outlying towns, and when he used his rupee-powered magic armor – which was rarely.
The caravan was full of interesting people. There were the families – the children were especially fascinated by their wilderness guide.
“What kind of skin is this?” little Billy Taylor asked, fingering the pelt draped over Link’s shoulder as he sat down on a rock before a morning campfire two days after he’d joined the group.
“It’s a wolf’s hide,” the man answered.
“Did you hunt it?” his sister, Sari, asked.
“No,” Link said calmly. “It is from a friend of mine. He was old. I took care of him when he was sick and he died right in my lap. I wanted to keep a part of him with me, so I took his skin to keep me warm. He was a lone wolf, chased from his pack. It’s hard out in the wild and lone wolves usually do not last very long.” The former Hero leaned over and pointed to a rocky outcrop in silhouette in the distance. “Sometimes, if you look and listen real hard, you’ll see his spirit up there on that ridge and you’ll hear him howling.”
“Really?” Billy asked.
“What was his name?”
“I called him Gray.”
“What about the other skins you wear?” Sari inquired.
“Animals I’ve hunted and ate… a bear I had to fight off. Monsters I slew.”
The children’s eyes were wide.
“Are there lots of monsters out here?” Sari asked, her chubby little face going pale.
“Don’t worry!” her older brother assured. “Mr. Sam hired Mr. Wolf to keep us safe, and we have Colin, too.”
“Wolf!” someone called.
Link looked up to see Colin. “We were going to spar, remember?” the young man asked.
“Yeah,” Link answered, getting up. The children took his former seat, preparing to watch.
Colin unsheathed his sword and Link unsheathed his. Link’s sword was a faithful companion from his days of Chosen Heroism – a sword crafted by Colin’s father. Colin’s weapon was a similar model. The two men danced around each other and went in for mock kills, careful with the live steel. As the blades clanged against one another, people in the caravan looked up from their morning work and preparations.
“Can you believe that I used to think this was scary?” Colin asked.
Link sheathed his sword and gave his friend a polite bow. “You’ve done a lot of growing up,” he said, smiling. “You fight like a soldier – but like a recruit, really. You’ve yet to see real battle.”
As the two sat down to rest and talk privately, Colin’s face held a look of disappointment. “I’ve dealt with small monsters,” he said, “Just plants and bone-dogs. I’m still better-trained than anyone else Sam could find.”
“Your father has done a fine job,” Link replied, “but there are things out here that are very dangerous.”
“Like bulbins and moblins?”
“Yes. Bulbins are particularly skilled in archery. Moblins know the ways of the spear. They both prey upon the wagon-trains. They like to take the food and the animals. Some tribes like to kill people just for fun.”
“So, I should not hesitate if we run into them. I should behead them or stick them straight through the heart.”
“Their hearts are located in the same place as in a human, sometimes a little lower. I have a very effective sword-move I can show you to end one that you’ve knocked to the ground before it gets back up. I will tell you something that may make you hesitant to slay them, however, but it’s something I think you need to know.”
Link sighed deeply. “Bulbins and moblins are not mindless creatures.”
“Come again?” Colin inquired, “I thought they were monsters.”
“They are peoples, like humans, Hylians, the Gorons and the Zora. They have a rather rough nature, but they are different from most magic creatures and the undead.”
“How did you find this out?”
“Well, there is a moblin tribe out in the deep woods that I’m friendly with. They’re led by a matriarch named Madra. She and her tribe actually helped me out once when I was wounded. As for the bulbins...there is one tribe that is friendly to me, as well. I gained that honor by defeating their chieftain in battle multiple times. Do you remember that big boar-rider who captured you as a kid?”
“How could I forget?”
“Well, I whooped him a few times and he decided that I deserved respect because of it. His tribe has sworn fealty to me ever since. They are friendly to Hyrule, but have retreated to the western lands because they could never get Queen Zelda’s troops to stop hunting them. The other bulbin tribes, however, are dangerous. King Bulbin is not king over all. His tribe is almost constantly at war with the others. King’s tribe doesn’t touch the caravans and will probably be of great help to us if we run into them because I am with you. He’ll greet me with insults as that is their way, but he sees me as a worthy person.”
“And the other tribes?”
“The other bulbin tribes… if you’ve got a bow, shoot to kill. They will do everything to murder you – and all of us.”
“I will do what is necessary to protect everyone,” Colin said, “just like you.” The young man paused for a moment and then addressed Link again. “I almost died back then, you know – saving Beth.”
“I know,” Link said, “You risked your life. You were very brave.”
“No, Link,” Colin insisted, “I mean, after you saved me, the shaman in Kakariko…he told you I was going to be alright so you could deal with the Gorons. He lied. He thought I was going to die from all the internal damage I’d suffered. He wanted you to be able to focus on the Gorons, so he told you I was going to live. I surprised him when I actually did.”
Link nodded gently. “It was good that he lied to me, then. I would have stayed by your side, worrying over you and feeling like a failure. The Gorons would have suffered much longer, especially their leader, who was under a dark power I had to break.”
“Mr. Renado said the Rites of Farore over me after you left.”
“Yeah, but I lived. I learned not to be afraid anymore. Being close to death wasn’t so bad because I’d saved Beth and that felt great. I finally understood what my dad had been trying to teach me. He came and saw me in Kakariko when I was getting better but still in bed and you were away. When he’d heard the story from everyone, he was so proud. I’d done something good – really good. It didn’t matter that I was hurt.”
“How is Beth these days?”
“Studying medicine and still dreaming of a prince to come and sweep her off her feet.”
“The journey ahead will be rough, even if we are lucky,” Link said solemnly. “Give me your sword and I will bless it for you.”
“Uh – okay,” the teenager said as he took the sword off his back.
Link pulled the blade from its scabbard and laid it on his knees. Placing his hands upon the blade, careful of its edges, he closed his eyes and said a short prayer: “Din, make this blade swift, strong and true. Nayru, give its wielder the wisdom to know when to use it and when to refrain. Farore, make this blade merciful to the lives it must take.”
“Where did you learn that?” Colin asked.
“A Great Fairy. What’s with that look? Don’t you believe me?”
“Of course, Link,” Colin said with a smile. “I guess you saw all kinds of things as the Chosen Hero.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“All right! All right!” Sam bellowed, “Rollin’ out!”
“Hmm,” Link said, looking at the eastern horizon, “the sun’s been up for an hour already, we should have already gotten going – but I was glad for the spar and the talk.”
“Me, too,” Colin said as he curried-off and tacked up his horse. Link had tacked up Epona earlier. Colin wondered, sometimes, if that horse had supernatural powers because in all the time he’d known the two, Link had a bad habit of leaving the animal tacked much of the time, forgetting to take the saddle off her after his work. Ilia used to yell at him all the time for it. The mare never developed any sores from it, or any other problems and she was always obedient not to roll when she had gear on her.
Link mounted Epona and rode up to the lead, leaving Colin to fall back to the rear. Those were their agreed-upon positions. Colin would lag by the last supply-wagon, giving him a good watch on the entire group and protecting the rear. Link was to ride up front by the wagon driven by Sam and Ilia. There was a predestined route in mind, but as their guide, Link was to make sure they were on the right path – given natural changes in the land season to season and the caravan’s new-ness to the land in general they needed his sharp eyes. They would take his word if he needed to take them in another direction due to danger or opportunity.
“It’s about four or five days out to the summer camp of the Gerudo I know,” Link said. “They’ll let us rest and they have some fine trade-goods for anyone who wants to do trading or commerce. They’re the Tantari Tribe because they take to the
out in the northwest during the fall and winter months – they take to the plains in the summer. Better hunting.” Tantari Desert
“Gerudo, pheh!” Sam spat. “By hunting you mean thievery, right?”
“Nope,” Link said, shaking his head. “Their ancestors may have been big into that, but they mostly stick to gathering and game these days, and to trade with the new settlers recently. This place is the green, free land they’d been seeking for generations. Don’t worry, the Tantaris respect me so they’re pretty good to anyone with me. They will rob you blind if you are rude to them, though, so watch your manners.”
“Aren’t they all women?” Ilia asked.
“Yes and no,” Link answered her.
“Didn’t you kill their king?”
“Ganondorf.” Link sighed. “That ancient sorcerer was their ancient king, Ilia. He had no place in the modern world. He is… the reason why a generation ago, the King of Hyrule had the Gerudo slaughtered and driven from their lands – it’s why they are out here. They are the remnants. It is amazing that they do not seek revenge… their leader, their male – Xanboru, is a very serene man. And their women… really…uh… like human and Hylian men.”
Ilia’s face developed a sour look. “Oh, Link, really!”
Link’s face took on a deep blush. “No…I didn’t!..I!”
“You do have that lady-killer look,” Sam said, “I wouldn’t be surprised. How many brats you father for ‘em, eh?”
Link shook his head. “None, absolutely none.”
Sam laughed heartily. “Iffn’ you’re sly, I have a friend who’s been looking for a guy like you.”
Link’s face blanched. “No, not that either. You don’t understand.”
Ilia punched the larger man by her side in the arm. “Sam, stop that! You’re bothering him. If he quits on us, we’re sunk!”
Link laughed. “I’m not afraid of a little teasing. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted by the Gerudo ladies. Some of the men in this train will probably make themselves fathers by the time we break camp with them. Kau will have nothing to worry about – married and a Zora, nor will Rock – they don’t bother with Gorons. The married women will probably have nothing to worry about. The Tantari tribe has some pretty strict proscriptions on breaking bonds of faith – even with men who might want to. They want donors to their stock to be single, unattached. Occasionally, they even fall in love with the fathers of their daughters.”
“Do they always have daughters?” Ilia asked.
“Not always. If one has a son, he’ll carry his father’s genetics – at least as long as their king lives, and Xanboru’s still young. They’ll usually try to track down the father to give his son to him. If they can’t, they’ll raise him as one of their own – Gerudo who are not-Gerudo. The Gerudo didn’t do this in generations past. Seeing as Hyrule tried to wipe them out, they have no choice in the matter anymore. They cannot go back to their ancestral desert. They really aren’t as big on seduction as the old stories make them out to be – not since they have a reliable king. Xanboru and his many wives are refreshing and strengthening their blood. His eldest is Colin’s age. The last time I met their camp, they had a little one, two-summers old and very sweet. She really liked Epona.”
“Good girl,” Ilia commented.
“Oh, you’d like these folks, Ilia,” Link said. “They adore horses. Some of the tribeswomen are better riders than I am.”
“But you’re the best rider I’ve ever seen – even if you are careless sometimes and used to hurt poor Epona riding fences.”
“You may want to do some trading at the camp,” Link said with a smile. “You’re the horse-master here, so you’ve got to know that some of these Hylian ponies you’ve brought along will develop problems.”
“I picked good, strong horses!” Ilia protested.
“Yes, but you did so without knowing the country. The Goron rock-drafter pulling the back-wagon will be just fine. They’re tough and he’s in good shape. Some of the Hylian mustangs are good and will be especially useful when we reach the cold mountains. Epona has brought me through innumerable dangers. Colin’s mare isn’t going to make it – not with the scanty grass on the plains ahead – not unless you’re prepared to pick up several wagonloads of hay. I wouldn’t graze a flock of Ordon goats on the nasty weeds we’re going to be seeing! The Tantari tribe can take care of a horse like Colin’s – keep her around camp, use her to train their children to ride, but what he’s going to want and what you’re going to want are some swift Gerudian horses. They can live on nearly nothing and are swift in battle if we run into hostile creatures.”
“I’ll think about it,” Ilia said, “I’ll have to see these animals first.”
“Speaking of animals, I’m going to want to do some hunting once we make camp. Dried meat will stretch our supplies. I’m sure we could all use a little fresh meat, too. I’ll take some of the men – Brandon and Pete should suffice. There’s lots of deer in this country, good venison.”
“Hunting,” Ilia said with a cringe. “I mean, I knew we would have to, but I didn’t want to think about it.”
“You were always… so good with animals, Ilia,” Link said gently. “Don’t ever change that gentleness…”
He spurred Epona and rode on ahead.
“Good to have a practical-minded guide,” Sam commented.
“He’s an ex-herdsman,” Ilia said, “and a survivor. He’s always been practical and tough, even when we were children. I’m glad I’ve found him again.”
“There’s something special about him, isn’t there? Something a little left of normal.”
“He’s free – simply put. Just free.”
The trail winds ever onward…
Back to Story Menu