Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda and related characters and locations belong to Nintendo. This fan fiction is for fun, not for profit.
Characterization in this story and general notes: Ricky and Moosh - their personalities are mostly from the games, and Ricky's a tiny bit from the manga. Dimitri became merely what I needed him to be for the plot. Link is… Link. He is referred to as "human" in this because I don't see a heavy distinction between "human" and "Hylian" and I've noticed that in some of the games, the terms seem to be interchangeable when used by other species. Not all humans are Hylians, but Hylians are in the "human" family - something like that.
Ricky had always been an odd kangaroo. He was a male, yet he had the pouch of a female. He'd always figured that he was a creature caught between the two sexes, but he'd always adamantly considered himself a boy. Perhaps that was why he'd trained so hard in the supposedly manly sport of boxing - though he'd known some girls that had taken an interest in it. He'd found himself first learning to fight when he was a joey, to defend himself against his bullies. His mother told him that he should never be ashamed of his pouch, for it was a part of him and it was very, very useful.
For the moment, he was immensely grateful to have it.
The kangaroo sprang across the grass with great urgency. A terrible scent filled his nostrils and filled his heart with panic. As a prey animal, he could not abide the smell of blood - it sent waves of impulse through him, inner klaxons blaring at his brain to run because someone in the group got taken by a predator and he would be next. His cargo shifted against his belly and moaned.
Ricky did so. He stretched his neck and looked around, his nose to the wind and his ears pricking at every sound, real and imagined. "You need help, Link," he said desperately, "and I don't know where to go."
The animal recoiled from the retching noises as he felt jagged elbows and knees against him. He felt Link's body, in general, spasm and stiffen. The sharp scent of bile hit his nose like a punch. At least Link's slightly-used breakfast had landed upon the soil and grass and not in the pouch or on his fur.
"S…sorry," the boy said as he coughed.
"No problem, Little Champ, but it's not good. We need to at least find somewhere safe. Curl up against me and hang on."
Link settled back into Ricky's pouch and the kangaroo resumed bounding across the plain. He thought briefly of what had led to this moment. Link had called him because he'd wanted to check up on the growth of a gasha tree he'd planted in a hard-to-get-to area and he also wished to explore a patch of woods. These were areas that Link could not get to on his own, so he had to rely upon Ricky's strong, springy legs. Link had been able to clear away most of the monsters that had attacked them along the way. He'd gotten himself scraped up by an octorok and burned pretty badly by a few of those strange, waddling green lightning-creatures that were all around these parts. Ricky had ordered the boy to ride in his pouch the rest of the way and would not take the kid's foolish pride for an answer. It was then that they had been caught by surprise.
A large pincer-worm had rocketed out of a pile of fallen leaves. Ricky had immediately curled back his fist to send a mighty tornado punch its way, but the beast dodged and raked its razor-sharp mouthparts over his front. The kangaroo had felt no pain, only the impact, for Link was in the way. The kid had fumbled to retrieve his sheathed sword from within the pouch as Ricky gave the lunging beast an uppercut. The kangaroo had dodged and had tried to get around and away from the creature, but it merely dove for him again, and once again, Link had taken the brunt of the attack. Ricky had grit his teeth and powered up the mightiest tornado punch he'd ever mustered. It had landed home, sending the enemy to the ground in many toxic-green bleeding pieces.
Link's warm, red blood was clotted in his fur, down his front, across his chest and in his pouch. The kid moaned and gripped the front flap of the pouch painfully tight. He yelped and gulped whenever Ricky landed upon the earth hard. "Maybe I should get out and walk," he whispered.
"Oh, no, no no, master!" Ricky protested. "I'm much faster than you are. You'll collapse if you walk alone!"
Ricky couldn't smell any humans besides Link around - and the one time he needed them! He followed a trail into the woods and smelled a familiar scent - bear reek. Moosh was nearby! Maybe he could help! Moosh was a creature of whims that moved at his own pace, but the bear did have wings and perhaps could fly Link somewhere - or fly in help.
The sky suddenly became dark and a chill wind began to blow. Flakes of snow danced in front of Ricky's nose. It had been the height of summer only a moment before. He knew that Link was on a mission to save the land's great Oracle and that her disappearance was to blame for the strangeness of the weather that had been going on of late. The bear-reek became stronger. Ricky's eyes caught a shock of blue ahead and a pair of languidly flapping white wings.
"Moosh!" he called. "Moosh, you old bear! Help!"
The bear turned around and grunted. "What seems to be the trouble?" he asked.
"What do you mean, what seems to be the trouble?" Ricky yelped. "Can't you see? Our little buddy's hurt and he's hurt bad!"
Moosh grunted again. "Eyesight's not what it used to be," he said, opening his eyes a sliver.
Ricky then noticed that Link hadn't groaned in pain for a while and he was not squirming around. "Little Champ?" he asked, looking down and opening his pouch wide. Link's head was down and his eyes were closed. The poor young Hero was curled up in a ball of pain. To Ricky's relief, the grunted displeasure when he touched his cheek with the thumb of his boxing glove. His beloved master was still alive.
"Getting cold," Moosh said. "Come into my den."
Ricky cautiously followed Moosh to the interior of a small cave in a cliffside. "Moosh, do you know anywhere to find other humans? I don't know how to fix him."
His heart was racing. He honestly did not know whether he was more afraid that his friend was going to die or if the fear was born of the blood-scent, enlivening his prey-animal instincts. Part of Ricky wanted to run, to get away from that odor so badly, but he fought back that fear, because his friend needed him. Ricky felt a horrible sense of guilt that his panic was not entirely for the life of his friend, but was that selfish instinct - even though it wasn't something he could control.
Moosh sat down in the back of his cave heavily. "My fur is warm," he said. "He should rest at my side. River is near here. Get clean."
Link climbed out of Ricky's pouch and staggered painfully. He set his equipment down and fell against Moosh's plush side. Moosh reached his long snout over and gave the boy's cheek a lick. Ricky looked on.
"Go on," Moosh said. "I'll take care of the cub."
Ricky nodded. "You hang in there, Little Champ."
He watched Link give him a nod as he bounded out of Moosh's den. The snow was falling fast. The ground was already coated in a thin frosty layer. That old bear would never be able to fly in this. Ricky headed toward the river, which he could identify easily by the wall of steam that rose from it. Once he reached the bank, he took off his gloves and dipped his paws into the water. It was still warm from this morning's summer temperatures. He washed his paws and rubbed water on his chest and belly, scrubbing away the streaks of human blood. He found a little of his own blood, as well. The kangaroo had discovered a few small wounds on himself he had not before noticed, probably because he was so excited and worried about Link. The cuts were very shallow, little more than scratches, and they had already sealed.
Something advanced toward him in the water, something bumpy and red. Ricky gathered up his gloves and balanced himself on his tail to get a good look. It was a dodongo, but he was not afraid. "Dodongo" was a general term, actually, for any number of large reptiles belonging to a certain creature-family. Some compared them to crocodiles, others to monitor lizards or to dragons. They were generally dangerous creatures, often under the employ of dark forces, but Ricky knew this particular dodongo and knew that he was not a threat to him.
Dimitri was unusual among his family of creatures, just like Ricky was among his own kin. Ricky was a male kangaroo with a female's pouch. Dimitri was a young dodongo that was peaceful-natured and friendly toward other creatures. When Ricky thought about it, Moosh was a misfit, as well. The bear did not speak much of his family, but did once make a passing mention to Ricky of suffering some ridicule for being a winged bear that could only hover and fly short distances. This was because his wings were small and his body was too fat to get fully airborne.
Dimitri lumbered up onto the shore, his smooth scales glistening. Some of the water dripping down them turned to slush and ice. "It got cold all of a sudden," he observed. He looked over to Ricky. "What brings you here?" he asked. "The gym's pretty far from here. I hope you didn't get lost again."
"It's…Link," the kangaroo answered. "He got hurt. I didn't know what to do. I was looking for humans to help him. He's at Moosh's den."
Ricky bounced along and Dimitri lumbered after him. "The closest village I know is pretty far from here. It is not good to travel in blizzard," the red creature said.
"You hang around the Sunken City a lot, don't you?" Ricky asked. "Do you know anything about human medicine? I know it stinks bad enough over there."
"I have seen a little," the dodongo answered. "I will help as much as I can. He saved me from some mean children who were hurting me after I'd washed ashore. I was too tired to defend myself. I don't know what would have happened had those kids kept at it. I think he saved my life."
"I remember the story," Ricky said. "Link has helped all of us."
The two entered Moosh's cave. Ricky gasped and stood on his tail. Dimitri yawned and shook the ice off his scales. Link's torn tunic and hat lay on the floor by his side, next to his sword and shield. Moosh busily ran his tongue over the boy's bare upper body, giving careful attention to the tears across his chest and left arm.
Ricky wrinkled up his nose and winced. "Oh, how can you do that? You're licking blood! What does that taste like?"
"Tastes like blood," Moosh answered. "The little cub needs clean, too."
Link was wincing and he groaned. He was, for the most part, clean now. His hair was wet and sticky with saliva. He moved and fresh streams of blood dripped from the wounds on his chest.
Ricky's ears shot up in alarm. "He's still bleeding!" he cried in despair.
Dimitri grunted for attention. "Don't fighters wrap their hands beneath their gloves?" he asked Ricky. "I saw you re-wrapping your paws as I swam ashore."
"Yeah? So?" Ricky asked.
"Humans wrap each other when one of them gets hurt," Dimitri said bluntly. "I may not know much about humans yet, but I've seen them do that - they wrap up wounds in cloth to keep them from bleeding too much."
"I see," Ricky said. He took off his gloves, tied them together and hung them around his neck. He took the protective wrappings off his paws and approached Link. Gently, he began winding the cloth strips over his torso, tightening them around the wounds. To Ricky's embarrassment, he noticed the tone to the muscles. Link wasn't "muscle-bound" by any stretch of the imagination. He was still just a boy with a skinny frame, but the beginnings of adult definition showed in his arms and in his chest. Ricky thought that this was something that human girls Link's age might like - if they saw him without the tunic and without the wounds. The kangaroo did not know why this was something he noticed - perhaps it was the bit of "female" in him forcing itself forward, though that was ridiculous, as he was an entirely different species. What Ricky felt more keenly was worry. Link was very pale and he knew that it wasn't a good sign in humans.
After Ricky tied off the makeshift bandages, Link moaned and cuddled further into Moosh's fur. "Cold," he complained.
Mustering up his courage, Ricky touched the blood-stained tunic. He pulled it over Link's head and arms. "It's not clean right now, master," he said, "but it will have to do."
"Can't fly in this weather," Moosh said, echoing Ricky's thoughts from before. "Rest easy, little cub," he said to Link.
"Warm," the boy said, curling up against the bear's copious side. He winced in pain and his hands shook as the gripped the long fur. Link seemed to be trying to make Moosh's fur into a blanket.
Dimitri lumbered over to the bear and the boy and gave Link a long look. "His skin's pale," the reptile observed. "It's like that of a dead human."
"Dead?!" Ricky quailed.
"Is there food around here?" Dimitri asked.
"Food?" Ricky groused, "How can you think of eating at a time like this?"
"Not for me," Dimitri corrected, "for him. He should have something sweet, I think."
Moosh's eyes widened for a moment, then went back to their usual closed state. Ricky could have sworn that he looked guilty, though such an expression was hard to tell on a bear.
Dimitri sniffed deeply. "I smell spring banana here," he said. "Do you have any around, Moosh?"
"Spring banana is mine," the bear said. "Saving for after-hibernation snack."
"Moosh, our little human is suffering. He needs something to perk him back up."
"But the spring banana is my banana," Moosh insisted. "Flew hard to get it."
"Moosh," Dimitri pleaded. "Link could die."
Ricky's right hind leg stammered against the cave floor in panic.
"Is in back of cave," Moosh said, relenting.
Ricky immediately hopped to the back, behind the great bear and found his carefully-guarded prize. He swiftly took a banana off the bunch and peeled it. He leaned over Link and pressed the mushy banana to the young man's lips. "Eat it," he said.
Link opened his eyes and took a few bites. After a few minutes, he looked a little more alert, but his skin remained pale. He choked and gulped, as if he were having trouble keeping what he'd just eaten down.
Dimitri, meanwhile, had been building a little pile of sticks and dry wood upon the floor in the center of the cave. He'd been gathering what he could find from various corners of the cave as well as from outside - sticks that had not gotten soaked from snow. He lowered his head and scraped one of his foreclaws over the broken horn on his head. The sparks landed upon the kindling and soon, a small fire burned. "This will keep him warm," the dodongo said as he backed away, out into the cave's entrance.
"Why are you leaving?" Ricky asked.
"I dislike smoke," was Dimitri's reply. "I will swim upriver to see if I can find help. Don't die, little human. I will be back soon, I promise."
"Won't it be hard to travel in this weather? The river's bound to freeze up."
Link suddenly moved, shifting against Moosh. He dug into a pocket on his tunic with a shaking hand. He brought out something small - it looked like a straight, white twig with a ball on the end of it. As soon as it was out in the open air, it expanded in size until it was a mysterious-looking staff.
"Auugh…ugh!" Link grunted as he weakly tried to swing it. He set it down beside him and sighed. "It works best from on top of a stump for some reason," he grumbled.
"Do you want me to take it and find a stump, master?" Ricky offered.
"The season-spirits said it will only work for me," Link said. "In case this fell into the wrong hands. Was trying to make it summer."
The boy slumped over. Moosh gave a little bawl of alarm. Ricky took him gingerly by his shoulders and laid him back down against the bear's side. He set the staff down beside the sword and shield. "You just rest, Little Champ. I, Ricky, will guard the entrance and protect you."
With that, the kangaroo put on his boxing gloves and hopped to the cave entrance. He discovered that Dimitri was already gone. He hoped the dodongo wouldn't have too much trouble going wherever he was going to go, and, more importantly, he hoped he'd return swiftly with help. He watched the snow fall, hoping it would vanish as swiftly as it had come.
It fell throughout the night.
Moosh went into the beginnings of hibernation while Link tossed and moaned. Ricky would hop to and from the cave entrance, checking for danger. He fed the fire with dry wood that Dimitri had gathered earlier and set just inside the entrance to the cave. Ricky had heard that dodongos were supposed to be dim-witted creatures, but Dimitri was terribly smart. Perhaps it was because he was young… he was the only dodongo that Ricky had ever known on friendly terms. Maybe they lost their smarts when they grew older? The kangaroo hoped not. He did not like the thought of Dimitri becoming a mindless monster later on in life.
Ricky tried to keep himself awake. He nodded off a few times. Link did not sleep at all. He shook and gripped Moosh's fur. He winced painfully and moaned. Ricky did not know how much longer he could bear seeing his friend this way. He pleaded with Link to get some sleep, but the boy complained that he was in too much pain to drift off.
"I hate being weak like this," he groused. "Back home, in Hyrule, when I couldn't sleep, I used to take walks down the road by my house - even in winter. I can't even get up."
"Dimitri will bring help, master."
"Stop calling me that."
"How about I tell you stories? You can focus on them and not on pain."
Link nodded against his plush, living bear-pillow as it heaved with breath. Ricky told him of long spring in Holodrum when the seasons obeyed their proper order. He talked of great bouts and even greater fighters, some of whom he won against. He even got technical, talking of weight-classes and the various divisions between the animal boxers of the country. He was coming to his and Blaino's dream of giving a demonstration for the famed Princess Zelda of Hyrule when he drifted off to sleep.
Late morning brought the rapid dripping of water off the edge of the mouth of the cave and the tromping of dodongo feet into it. The fire had burned down to pale ashes. Ricky awakened with a snort. "Dimitri!" he exclaimed as soon as he saw the flash of red scales out of the corner of his eye. "Did you bring help?"
"No," the reptile replied, "but I found help. There is a Great Fairy not far from here. She cannot leave her spring, but carrying our little human over the waterfalls will be an easy task for me. You can leap there, too, and Moosh can fly there. Spring has come suddenly to the land, which will make the journey simple. We should hurry before our good fortune vanishes."
"Oh no, Link!" Ricky exclaimed. "I was watching him and I fell asleep!" The kangaroo approached Moosh and dug into his fur. Link lay limp against the bear's side. "Oh, no no, no!" Ricky panicked, "Master, please don't be dead! I'm so, so sorry!"
Blue hairs stirred by Link's nose, indicating breath. The boy was asleep, but he still looked completely exhausted.
"We should go," Dimitri insisted. "Get him onto my back."
Ricky hesitated. "He couldn't sleep last night and he looks so sick… should we really get him up? Maybe we should let him rest first."
"Without medical attention from a being that knows what it's doing very soon, he will probably die," Dimitri said bluntly.
Ricky wedged his thick gloves and scrawny arms beneath Link and began to lift him up. "Come on, Little Champ, time to get up."
"Ricky? What's going on? I just got to sleep. Let me sleep!" With that, the young Hero fell back onto Moosh's side and gripped his fur as tightly as he could. This did not disturb the bear, for Link's grip was weak and he was still in torpor.
Dimitri licked Link's nose, earning him a disgusted groan. "I found a Great Fairy, Link," the dodongo said. "She can heal you. I just need you to get onto my back and I can carry you to her. You can sleep on the way if you want." He then butted Moosh, hard, with his broken horn. "Moosh! You too, get up!"
"Spring already?" the bear grunted. He stood up with a yawn, spilling Link onto the ground. He stretched his wings wide and immediately sniffed about for what remained of his banana bunch, which he found and ate, skins and all, with three big bites. "Little cub still alive?"
"Yes," Ricky said, helping Link to his feet and onto Dimitri's back. "And we're going to keep him that way."
The spring weather held out for the little group for a few hours before the crisp winds of fall began to hit in the late afternoon. Link complained of the cold from Dimitri's back as the animal swam upriver. The boy lay against the smooth places on his back and tried not to fall off into the water. Ricky kept pace with them on land, bounding up rises and leaping over boulders. Moosh had taken his own mysterious way, but it was not long before the group found themselves at a little cave. The three harmonious friends and their charge entered cautiously and with great respect, for every animal knew that Great Fairies were holy creatures.
She appeared out of the spring in a puff of light that looked like mist. Ricky and Moosh bowed their heads low. Young Dimitri looked up boldly, also gazing upon her form in wonderment. "You remember me from earlier," He said. "This is the friend I want you to help. Please help him."
"Oh, my," the fairy said, looking at Link. "Bring him to my waters."
The dodongo approached the spring and shifted his back, gently lowering Link down into the shallow pool. She bent down and gently removed the sword and shield from his back. Ricky had clipped them there in case they were needed along the way. She set them aside on the shore. The Rod of Seasons was safely stashed away in his pocket, back to its magically-induced shrunken size. The Great Fairy gently hefted Link up on one arm and began spooning spring water over him with her other hand.
"Let me soothe your wounds and ease your weariness, young warrior," she said, smiling down at him. "And quite the wounds you have too. You've been suffering the effects of exhaustion and blood loss - quite serious, but a simple fix for me. Your friends were wise to bring you here. You should thank them."
As the Great Fairy brought her hand over his heart, color returned to Link's skin. He looked over Ricky, Moosh and Dimitri and smirked.
Link's clothes mended and he stood up. "All better," the Great Fairy said, as though she were a mother giving her child's minor boo-boo a kiss. "Be off with you now. Come back any time you're in need of healing."
The blood-stained bandages fell from Link's body from under his tunic, pooling around his feet. He retrieved his sword and shield and looked upon the smiling faces of his gathered animal friends. Dimitri smiled broadly in his strange, reptilian way. Ricky was balanced high on his tail, bouncing on it and clapping his gloved hands together. Moosh looked the same as he always did.
"Thanks, guys," Link said with a large smile. "I'm feeling a lot better now."
Back to Story Menu