The night brought with it a bitter cold and the relentless pouring of rain. The Mysterious Woods offered cover in a dense overlay of foliage, shielding its inhabitants from the brunt of the rain, but also shielding me. A burning filled my legs at the northern entrance and had only gotten worse as I continued. The wet forest ground is keen to keep me working, each step becoming a task and each ten feet becoming a small achievement. I know I have to tough it out though, if I can get to the southern edge of the woods I can rest in Mabe. My legs push forward and my knowledge of the pain is blurred, is it the burn of my muscles or the bite of the cold? One step, two steps. Left right left. One step, two steps. Left right left. A staggering walk, but I know I can make it.
The forest is opening; I remember this area. An island of trees stands in the clearing. The southern entrance lies just beyond it. My pace quickens as I no longer feel my legs moving, but as they glide on their own. My actions are controlled by biology, survival of the body and my job is just to keep breathing. The island of trees grows closer and closer. My stagger has lessened, and I’m striding through the clearing. My body is numb now. Pain is nothing anymore and I know I can reach the exit. All that’s left after that is to push through the rain and get to Marin’s house before this new found energy is expelled.
My ears pick up a distant sloshing of footsteps from one of the paths to my left. My mind races: is it one of those little rats? No it’s too big for that. Is it a gel? No, gels don’t have legs, you dolt. I realize that I’m only feigning ignorance, that pretending those heavy sloshes are anything but the inevitable, is just a way to deal with it. I look down; a heavy fog rests between my thighs and the ground below, I can’t help but notice that my feet have gone missing in it. I turn my head and listen, staring at the wooded corridor just a few feet away. Slosh...thud, slosh...thud. The gray haze has settled over the entire clearing, blanketing everything around me. I hunker down into a crouched position. In the mist I can see the glint of a blade floating next to a crude metal shield. The repetitive sloshing shadows the movement of them, a rhythmic bounce of the two with every step of their owner. The brute’s image became visible through the fog, over his pale green body he wore a thin hide coat and thick leather grieves over his shins and forearms, a long black ponytail rose from his otherwise bald head. His face is just like all the others, two squinting eyes over a fat round snout and thick hanging jowls. Two lower fangs protrude upward form his closed mouth. No footwear, but for them it’s not exactly a necessity. Most of the time I’m not too much shorter, but this ones big. His breath rises after every exhale, floating off and disappearing in the same instance. I know he’s not tired, I can feel it.
His walking ceases as he enters the clearing, head turning from left to right, nostrils flaring. He pulls in the air with deep sniffs from his snout and grunts a couple times. He begins to turn and head north, that slow drudging that he must enjoy so much appears to be some sort of patrol. He stops again, his head inches downward. What is he looking at? I’m only about 8 feet from him, squatting in the mist next to the trees. Why is he stopping? I don’t want to fight him, he’s a large one and I know he won’t go down easy. I don’t even think I have the energy for this sort of bout, I have to get to the southern entrance but I can’t make a sound, I can’t move until he’s gone. His arms pull back and he stretches, letting out a long snort.
“You can’t hide your scent manling.” He says, in a low visceral tone. I can feel my heart beating now and my muscles tightening, I stare forward, for a moment I think of running. He steps backward and turns to my direction,
“You don’t smell like the others.” I reach around my back and whip my shield over, pressing a clenched fist against the front of my shoulder. I can see his eyes dart toward my location and I roll back on my heels, my body follows suit. I spring up into a crouched stance, shifting my weight on a bent left leg. My assailant pulls his sword up form where I just was, lifting mud and roots with it. I reach over my shoulder and slash my sword out of its sheath,
“Quite a greeting.”
“You’re quick manling.” He lets out a roar and charges me with his shield. I hop to the left and pull back my arm, pressing forward with a stab at his side. The brute swing his sword down and blocks the strike. My sword wants to continue forward after the block, past its target and into the air, I allow it. My legs lift off and my shield collides with his right shoulder. I land in a half crouch beside him and spin to my left, pulling up my sword and slashing with its momentum. The tip of the blade reaches an inch from my opponents belly as he lumbers sideways. I regain my stance, he’s not as good as I expected,
“You’re not fast enough, next time it’s gonna cost you.” His reply is anything but what I expect,
“What is your name manling?” I stare for a moment at him,
“Thredge, and my question?”
“What does it matter? Soon one or both of us will be dead, and then what will become of our names?” His head tilts upward,
“This one is not from Koholint I think.” My right leg steps forward and I let my weight lay on it; I pull up my shield and extend my sword backward, pointing it and keeping it taut. I answer his question,
“This one is from Hyrule.” An awkward grin appears on his face and he swings his sword in a circle overhead. His shield pushes out and he brings his arm down, pointing his blade at me,
“I do not need to be quick manling!” His body lurches forward and his arm flies toward me, a wild swing with all his weight in it. He lowers his shield at the same time, bringing it down against his left side. My stance opens; I force myself down further, splitting my weight division between both legs. My shield comes down and the stance is almost compromised; only my left arm stays out and ready. His blade whiffs through the air, my head just below it. I can feel a pressure within me, coming up from my gut, pushing its way through me. My whole body is warm and tense but my actions remain fluid. I let out my energy through a high wail, a scream, a battle cry. My right leg pulses, the muscles contract and explode outward, pushing my body up. My left leg remains strong, taking the weight and spinning it as my body whirls around. The blade that had been held so taught loosens completely and allows a stream of destructive power to flow through it, pure energy harnessed in an instant. Thredge stands in the path; he hasn’t recovered from his haymaker. The mist around me dispels, cast away as my hands interlock around the hilt of my instrument of energy. The spin attack meets Thredge, slamming with full force into his crude shield, shattering it. My body continues its spin, unhindered. Thredge is sent down, his sword arm flails back and his blade is slung out into the trees. He pounds into the wet dirt letting out a groan. I press my right foot into the ground and hold steady. I can feel a tingle in my arms, the electric sensation that fills the muscles after the shock of a perfect strike. Thredge shakes his head and begins to kick his legs but his body is still reeling from the transfer of so much energy. He stops moving and just lays there, erratic breaths emit from him and I can see his mouth open,
“You...the monsters are... afraid of you.” I lower my eyes; his face conceals what his left hand cannot. Blood leaks through his closed fingers, unable to hold the slow pouring from his open belly. His eyes seem heavy now and he struggles to keep his head held up,
“You bested me…manling.” I sheath my sword and sling the shield over my back. Thredge lets his head fall backward.
“Link, that is my name”, I tell him. That same awkward grin sneaks onto his face, blood trickles down his mouth and I can see that his teeth are coated in it. A whisper escapes him,
“Link...it is a good name.” His eyes close, his chest slumps in one last time and his muscle control fades. That burning in my legs starts up again, its light enough to dismiss though. His sword lies in the thicket beside his body, I want to tell myself he’s just another moblin, but I walk over and pick up the blade. My hands wrap over his wrists and I pull as much as I can, dragging him. I was tired when I entered this clearing but I forced myself to push harder, I forced myself to survive and I defeated Thredge. I think I can give a little more. I get his body out of the woods, crossing the tree canopy threshold with him. The rain that was once so unrelenting has become a light shower that will soon be over, a long night with it. I stop at the well right outside Mabe village and take a breather. A couple feet away lies the edge of the island, a low hanging cliff that drops into the ocean I sailed in on, more like wrecked in on. Thredge’s body feels heavier now but I manage to get it to the cliff.
He hits the water and lets up a pretty big splash, after that he disappears into the sea. I take out his sword and look at it, in his blade I can make out my reflection; the moonlight helps a little. I think of Zelda, my uncle, Sahasrahla, Ganon. The land I left behind still hasn’t left me, I don’t think I’ll ever get off this island, don’t know if I should care; I can’t help but think of Marin at times like these. I take up Thredge’s sword and stab it hard into the soil; last rights for a moblin, last rights for a warrior. The walk to Marin’s house is easy, when I get there I inch open the door and see that she’s asleep in the bed next to the one I’ve been using, Tarin snores away in one of the chairs at the table. I lay down my sword and shield in the corner and pull off my boots, I keep on meaning to get new ones with a softer sole but I only remember when my feet hurt after a long day. I put my boots and belt in the corner as well. I lay down on top of the blankets; the bed feels good on my back. Marin’s soft breathing is comforting, almost soothing to my ears. I pull off my hat and toss it onto the table next to Tarin; it falls off, but I don’t get up.
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