Posted on June 29 2018 by Kat Vadam
Chapter Twelve: The Taming of Epona
Link swallowed. Hard. He and the Lon Lon’s runaway mare were surrounded and trapped. She was scared, snorting and trying to wiggle herself free of the rope snare around her back leg. Around them, staring and growling, five wolves looked hungry and ready to attack. He drew out his sword and shield, assuming a defensive stance, watching as they began to circle. Seconds felt like minutes as both sides waited for the other to make a move.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw one lunge at him. Raising his shield, he blocked the charge, wolf colliding with the shield with a metallic thump. Using the wolf’s momentum to his advantage, he maneuvered himself to guide the wolf to the ground, quickly following up with a quick stab with his sword. The wolf fell limp.
He looked at the rest of the wolves. Three of them backed up. But not the last one, the largest one, dire in size and nature. It turned toward Link, snarling and baring its fangs.
Not so keen to end the fight, are you?
Behind him, the horse started backing up as far as she could, almost crying out in fear of the wolf. Holding his shield in front of him and sword out to the side ready to swing, Link stared back, filled with confidence unwavering.
As he and the wolf locked eyes, Link could tell that this beast was different than the others. Like a waking nightmare, casting an almost demonic aura. A monster.
The wolf lunged at him, opening its mouth to bear its sharpened teeth; saliva dripped white from a violet, lolling tongue. Once again, Link raised his shield, only to be pushed back by sheer strength. Much stronger than a normal wolf. Using his shield, he pushed against the attack, suddenly forced to move and avoid backing into the mare. The wolf then rushed him again, going to bite his legs, leaving its side open to attack. Link swung his sword, taking his chance.
His eyes widened in shock; gnashing fangs had fastened around the blade, a couple shattering in the process.
The wolf showed no sign of stopping, as if it hardly understood the natural instinct toward self-preservation. Now wrestling to regain his sword, Link watched as the other wolves, clearly subservient, stayed back, circling, a mix of awe and fear in their wild, golden eyes. The larger wolf continued to hold onto the sword, staring back at Link with cold, red eyes. This…is not going to end well for me.
Then, in a quick flash, Link watched as the wolf was kicked onto its side, the sword sliding out of its mouth, knocking with it several shards of teeth.
Looking over to his left, Link blinked in bewilderment as the mare turned to face him. A moment passed, frozen in time, an understanding between himself and this beautiful creature. He nodded.
Link ran up to the fallen, panting wolf, slashing his sword. The sword collided, slicing through fur and flesh, and he watched in horror as the wolf’s form dissipated into smoke, wafting toward the skies and disappearing into the wind. He turned to the remaining wolves and watched as they all ran back into the trees in a chorus of whimpers.
He breathed a sigh of relief. “You really were a handful to get.” Link turned to the horse, returning once more to cut the rope snare holding her in place. He raised his hand, letting her move her head to sniff and touch, eventually meeting his palm with the full length of her muzzle. “Let’s get you back to Lon Lon.”
The horse shook her head, exhaling before beginning to trot around. You are a strange one…
Link walked up to the horse’s side, getting her to stop. Taking a deep breath, he leaped onto her, adjusting himself to sit on her back.
Ok… I’ve taken care of horses back in Ordon. Riding one should be easy.
The horse, still not used to people riding her, started to resist. Out of instinct, Link immediately held on to her mane and started petting along the neck and shoulder, doing his best to calm her down. “Easy there! Easy now.”
After a few seconds, the horse calmed down. Link breathed a sigh of relief.
“Let’s go.” He used his legs to put her in a canter, turning toward the direction of the ranch.
“Your best horse has escaped, then,” Zelda said, slowly, cutting, fingers settled against her temples in an annoyance she just could not hide. “I have already sent you one in my name. Now I come for another. You’re supposed to have the most well-tamed and -trained horses in all of Hyrule, and you tell me your best steed is essentially wild. How exactly can I place the well-being of these men and women upon your mounts?”
“We apologize, Your Highness, but there is just no taming her. We’ve done everything we-” The thin stable hand paused, wide-eyed, before running to the gate of the ranch. Zelda watched with a silent growl.
Atop a beautiful chestnut mare, her knight rode through the open ranch gate, a stupid, proud grin plastered all over his face. The horse herself seemed calm and unbothered by the burden she carried on her back. Quite the opposite, in fact. She trotted happily and obediently, following Link’s direction to make their way together with ease.
“Well, I’ll be…” the rotund man whispered, beside himself.
Zelda smiled at Link, winking for only him to see, sharing for a moment in his apparently impossible achievement, before flattening her expression and once more donning her crown.
“As I said, he will bring her back shortly.”
The stable hands clearly didn’t know how to respond. “Your Highness, he’s the first one she hasn’t thrown off in years…” the thin man said in awe and amazement. “It’s almost a match made by the goddesses themselves.” He started to run toward the stables, for what, Zelda did not know, leaving his rotund partner behind.
The rotund one brushed himself off, moving to stand by the horse. “Your Highness,” he stuttered, turning to her and swelling in pride, “It is with great pride and our greatest pleasure to present you and your knight with our finest horse: Epona.”
Zelda blinked out the window, watching Link and his new mare. The two stable hands followed him around in blatant wide-eyed amazement as he trotted along atop this untameable creature. He beamed with pride every every time he reached forward to pat her long neck, and she seemed to respond without hesitation to his every move and word. They were perfect, like old friends.
Or friends in a former life.
Like us. I know within you is the hero of Hyrule’s history, the one bound to the spirit of Hylia. I am sure of it.
I wonder what you were like…
The princess smiled to herself and turned her attention back to what she had been doing. A map spread out before her, covering nearly the entire kitchen table; she hadn’t quite noticed how very large it was when she first unfolded it in the castle’s library. Then again, the tables in the castle’s library could probably fill half this room with ease. Now, though, in a small ranch house where everything seemed so homey and cluttered and a strange place for a royal to be, the map had become twice its size and her task far more daunting.
“I know that smile, Little Princess,” Impa set a glass of water down in front of her face, right over the Great Plateau. Zelda picked up the glass with an annoyed huff, leaving behind a wet ring.
“You know this map is older than you, right?”
“And already stained in several places by your father’s ale,” her advisor added, pointedly indicating several brownish blotches scattered across the parchment. “I highly doubt one small ring of water will decrease its value any more. Stop avoiding what I said.”
Zelda pursed her lips, but said nothing.
Impa winked. “Ok, Little Princess. Whatever you say. You haven’t been grinning like a little girl every time you look at him. I must be seeing things.”
“Going senile, more like.”
The Sheikah shook her head. Having someone so perceptive and watchful as a best friend, who knew her every thought, light and dark, even before she did tended to be a pain. Impa wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a kiss on the top of her head. Zelda scoffed, feigning disgust, and weakly pretended to fight the elder off.
“Just be careful if you plan to have any more late night talks,” Impa warned. “Innocent though the time may be, and as much as you may hate them, the court will fuel their rumor mill.”
“We just talked, Impa,” she insisted, more offended at the prospect of the Sheikah thinking less of her than those cursed idiots.
Impa held up her hands. “I know. And you know that won’t stop them.”
She sneered, staring a burning hole through Akkala. Of course it wouldn’t. They would have a holiday at the slightest idea of the young princess and her appointed knight having any sort of relationship other than noble and subject. As it was, they all thought she was strange, brash, and potentially crazy. Zelda glanced back out the window. Link had taken to feeding Epona. He caught her looking and smiled with a subtle wave. It hurt.
They can do all they want to me. The crown will be mine regardless. But you, Link…they would destroy you.
Silently, she swore at them.
“Zelda,” Impa whispered, all maternal reassurance, “no one else has noticed, I promise. I only mean to caution you. That is my job, after all.”
She leaned her head against Impa’s shoulder. “Why do you have to be so sensible?”
“I can think of someone else who asked me that very question, just before she went cliff diving in Zora’s Domain and broke her leg. She was about your age, too.”
Zelda tried to resist, furrowing her brow and doing her best to press her lips together, but she couldn’t help the smirk that crept across her face. The smirk turned into a full smile, then became a short fit of giggles. “Good to know I am not the only lunatic in the family.”
“You are so much like your mother.” Impa kissed her head again. “So, then, Little Princess. I see you have several places circled on this map. Which one are we visiting first?”
Featured image by MaskedGolem.