Hello, readers! Here's your next chapter for LoHH! before I get onto the review responses, I have a warning for this chapter, and yes, it's important:

THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS A BIT OF M CONTENT IN THE FORM OF A NEAR-RAPE SCENE. IF YOU ARE UNSURE/UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT READING THAT KIND OF CONTENT, YOU SHOULD SKIP THIS CHAPTER, AS IT'S ONLY FILLER.

Now, that we've got that out of the way, on to the review responses:

Guest: Well, technically, Phantom Ganon and the Poe Sisters are already dead, seeing as their ghosts. However, they were terrorizing the innocent Kokiri by causing monsters to invade their peaceful village, so I think they deserved to die. That, and it's hard to feel pity for someone who's trying to kill you in the first place.

Prometheus: Yes, I know that the Sun's Song is in OoT. I was referring to the Roc's Feather, Red Ring, and Song of Double Time.

sokairoxman12349: Yeah, I decided to have a bit of a cameo appearance in there. If you look at the paintings, they almost could be Luigi's Mansion anyway, plus OoT did have some pictures of Mario and Yoshi anyway, so I said "Eh... why not?" and did it.

Disclaimer, please!

Malon: GamesMaster64 does not own The Legend of Zelda or Kingdom Hearts. Those belong to Nintendo and Square Enix, respectively.

Enjoy, folks!

Table of Fonts:

Standard Text: Regular Dialogue/Storytelling

Italics: Emphasis, Sound Effects, thoughts

Bold: Navi's annoyingness, Boss Name, Ganondorf's Speech

Bold Underline:Special Attacks (this is cried out)

Bold Italic: Deity speech

CAPS: Yelling

Underline: Flashback/History, name of location

Italic Underline: Dream

BOLD CAPS: Dungeon name


Chapter 38: Rescuing Lon-Lon Ranch! Link's Important Lesson!

Link and Sora stepped out of the exit to the Kokiri Forest, glad to see that this part of Hyrule Field was now bright and green. However, the two knew they still had a lot of work left, as most of the Field was still dead and decaying. The two followed the path to Lon-Lon Ranch, not encountering any monsters until they stepped into the dying parts of Hyrule Field. After defeating a few Poes, Sora turned to Link.

"Well, I guess the more Sages we awaken, the better off Hyrule Field will be." Sora mused. Link nodded in agreement, finishing of the last of the Poes with a well-timed blow to its head. The two made their way forward, entering the ranch. Inside, the ranch was strangely calm and peaceful. Link and Sora entered to where they knew the cows were kept, as Link had heard a familiar voice singing a familiar song. Upon entering, the two saw Malon. The cute girl had matured into a good-looking woman, her red hair falling gracefully about her shoulders. Malon turned around when she saw the two.

"Oh, hello! We haven't had a visitor in almost six years!" Malon said. Link looked at her quizzically.

"That's odd... I always thought Lon-Lon Ranch was a big tourist spot." Link said. Malon nodded in sadness.

"Yes, it used to be... until Ganondorf took control. He put Mr. Ingo in charge of the ranch. I only do as he says because otherwise the horses won't have anyone to care for them and look after them." Malon shook her head, tears forming. Sora, for some reason, felt a pang in his heart too... almost as if he felt some of Malon's sadness.

"Don't worry, miss! We'll set things straight here!" Sora said. Malon looked up at him. Once she wiped her tears away, the young farm girl recognized...

"Sora? Is that you?" she asked. Sora nodded. Malon then turned to Link. "Then you're... LINK!" Malon said, glomping Link hard enough to bring the two of them down to the floor. Link managed to free himself from the grip of the farm girl. He stood up, face red from embarrassment. Sora's stifled laughter did little to help. Malon then shook her head, her depressed mood returning.

"Still, I wish something could be done about the ranch..." she muttered. Link and Sora stayed a bit longer, hoping to hear something useful, but all the red-headed farm girl would mutter about is how the horses were in trouble and how she wished something could be done. Link and Sora decided to take a further look around the ranch. The two, however, were halted by:

"WHAT DO YOU TWO THINK YOU'RE DOING!?" a man's voice shouted at them. The two turned toward the disturbance and saw a familiar-looking man. Ingo was standing in front of the meadow where the horses were kept. Ingo himself was dressed in nicer clothing than his old ranch-hand clothes that he wore seven years ago. Also, the two saw that the entrance to where the horses were kept was closed. Link and Sora approached Ingo. Link looked the man up and down.

"Well, well... I presume you're the owner?" Link asked. Ingo nodded, puffing his chest out in pride.

"That I am. I am the great Ingo! I now run Lon-Lon Ranch!" he said. He then shook his head. "You two haven't been listening to the rumors from town, have you?" he asked. Link and Sora shook their heads. They hadn't been by Kakariko Village since they'd returned. Ingo nodded. "If you hear any rumors that I cheated Talon out of this ranch, they're wrong! Wrong, I tell you! The great Lord Ganondorf saw my skill and gave me the ranch to run!" Ingo said. Link and Sora exchanged glances. So, they at least knew who was behind the mess. Now seeming to trust the two, Ingo eyed them. "Would you two like to ride the horses? It'll only cost you five Rupees each." he said. The two nodded and pulled out a blue Rupee from their wallets. Ingo then opened the gate and let them in. While Sora examined the horses, Link pulled out the Ocarina of Time. He then played an old song that he hadn't played since he learned it from a young farm girl. Sora, having selected his horse that he wanted to ride, turned around to see a familiar-looking horse approach Link.

"Is that... Epona?" he asked. Link nodded, getting onto the horse. Sora then hopped onto his. However, since he was a bit unsteady, Link gave him some quick lessons. After their time was up, Ingo approached them.

"You, in the green. You ride well. How about a wager?" he asked. Link indicated that he was listening. "How about... one lap around the horse pen. 40 Rupees will be the wager." Ingo said. Link nodded in acceptance. Ingo retreated to what the two assumed was his personal stable, and emerged riding a horse. Ingo opened the gate, and Link rode Epona out, and Sora followed on the horse he'd selected. Ingo and Link lined up behind a white line drawn in the dirt. At the signal, Link and Ingo urged their horses forward. Ingo pulled ahead at first, and yelled in triumph. Link, however, just kept urging Epona onward. About halfway around the track, Link and Ingo were each trying to get a lead on the other. However, Link managed to pull slightly ahead and cut Ingo off. Ingo's horse instinctively pulled back, allowing Link to get a large lead. Ingo, seeing the tactic, whipped his horse, urging it to move faster. However, Link's lead was too large fro him to recover from, and he lost the race. Ingo pulled out two red Rupees, handing them to the Hylian teen, who put them in his wallet. Sora rode up on his horse.

"Nice job." Sora said. Link nodded, but was approached by Ingo.

"How about another race. This time... I'll let you keep the horses if you win." Ingo said. Link again accepted, and the two lined up again. Again, the horses surged forward. Ingo tried to cut Link off, using Link's tactic in the previous race. However, Link just circled around Ingo, who had to slow down to stop his horse from crashing into the fence. This time, Link held a strong lead around the rest of the track, gently urging Epona to maintain a full gallop. As Ingo crossed a few seconds behind Link, he then saw the horse. "Is that... EPONA!?" Ingo asked, disbelief lining his face.

"Yeah." Link said simply. Ingo shook his head.

"How could you tame that wild beast!?" he asked. His look rapidly shifted from disbelief to fear. "Oh, I promised that horse to Lord Ganondorf! He'll punish me for sure..." Ingo said, before a mischievous look crossed his face. He turned to Link and Sora. "Alright, as I promised, you two can keep the horses." Ingo said, before closing the gate leading back to Hyrule Field. "However, you are not allowed to leave the ranch!" Ingo added, laughing maniacally. Link turned to Sora and nodded. Sora read the look easily enough.

"You're joking, right?" Sora asked, afraid of the answer. Link shook his head. Sora sighed. "Alright. Let's do it, then." he said. As Ingo watched from the other side of the gate, the two rode their horses back as far as they could get, making sure to maintain a steady trot as opposed to a full-out gallop. Once they were back far enough, Link reared back on Epona, before urging the horse into a gallop. Sora's horse followed shortly after. Both horses reached a full gallop, and cleared the gate (and Ingo) with a magnificent set of jumps. The two rode out into Hyrule Field, unable to stop the horses, who were galloping at full speed, glad to be free. A few hours later, the two had managed to regain control of their steeds, and were resting them by a grove of trees and a small stream. While the horses grazed, Link and Sora ate a meal of a some fruit from a few of the trees. A few feet away, the dead and decaying part of Hyrule Field still taunted them. Sora turned to Link.

"Well, now what?" he asked. Link sat up from the ground, allowing himself to lean against a tree. He tossed an apple over to Epona, who sniffed it before munching on it. He then turned back to Sora to see him toss his horse an apple.

"I think we'd better head back and see if we can't tell Malon what happened to her horses. I'm sure she's worried sick about them, especially Epona." Link said. Sora nodded. "After that, we'll head to Kakariko Village. Maybe we can learn a bit more from the villagers as to what's going on elsewhere in Hyrule." Link said. Sora again nodded.

"Well, should we get going?" he asked. Link nodded, and the two gathered their horses, mounting them and ushering them into a slow trot. The two didn't talk much, allowing the soft clopping of the horses's hooves hitting the dirt to be heard. Night had fallen when they neared Lon-Lon Ranch again. However, warning lights were going off in Link's brain, as well as Sora's. There was an orange glow coming from inside the ranch, as well as the shouts of several rowdy male voices. The two could also distinctly hear a female voice screaming for help. Tying the horses to nearby trees, the two rushed into the ranch. When they entered, they encountered about five drunken men, who attacked the two. Though neither of them were really well-trained in hand-to-hand combat, it wasn't too much effort to incapacitate the men in their inebriated state, though one of them managed to sock Link in the jaw, dazing the Hylian for a bit. After the five that had attacked them were down and out for the count, Link and Sora drew their weapons, moving forward. Another set of men, these less inebriated, attacked them. These men were armed with daggers, but were also taken care of. Link and Sora then turned around and saw one of the barns was on fire, causing all the horses in the ranch to panic. Link quickly rushed into the burning barn, while Sora tried to get the horses to calm down. Inside, Link saw the place was thankfully empty. He then heard a scream from nearby. Link rushed out, and headed toward where he knew Malon and Talon lived. Sora shouted out for Link's help when he saw his partner, but Link paid no attention to him. Link stepped inside the house, slowing down so as not to alert anyone.

"HELP! GET OFF ME, YOU DIN-DAMNED CREEP!" Link looked at the source of the noise. It came from upstairs. Though the sound was muffled, Link could tell it was Malon's voice. Link slowly eased up the steps, ready to move at a moment's notice. He then heard a deeper voice laugh.

"Missy, there's no one around to hear you. We dumped that pathetic excuse for a ranch-hand inside one of the barns. It's only me and you in here. Don't worry about being disturbed. My boys know to stay away from here." he said. By this time, Link had made his way to the door. Link stopped, making sure that he hadn't alerted the bandit. He then opened the door, and rushed in.


Sora, meanwhile, had no luck with the horses, and heard the sounds of screaming from another building. Ignoring the flames, Sora kicked the door in. He saw Ingo tied to a post inside. Sora moved over, using the Keyblade to cut the ropes. However, Ingo had passed out from inhaling too much of the smoke. Sora hefted the ranch-hand over his shoulder, barely avoiding a falling beam. Sora finally managed to make it clear of the burning building, coughing from the smoke. He first of all focused on his magic, pointing the Keyblade at Ingo.

Curaga!

Ingo, coughing and sputtering, sat up. He saw Sora.

"You...? What... are you... doing here...?" Ingo asked, still weak from all the smoke. Sora grinned.

"Link and I thought we'd come back and try to let Malon know that the horses were gonna be okay, and we saw you guys in a spot of trouble." Sora said. Ingo nodded.

"Thanks... Lady Malon... she's..." However, Sora never heard the rest of what Ingo was going to say, as he passed out again. Sora gave him another Curaga, noting with relief that the burns Ingo had sustained were disappearing. Sora figured that he'd be fine for now, and figured that whatever sort of trouble Malon was in, Link would be able to help her.


Link entered into the room. There, what he saw made his blood boil. Malon was laying on her bed, he dress all but ripped to shreds. She sported a few bruises all over her body. A small trickle of blood was coming from her nose. Link also saw what he assumed to be the leader of the bandits straddling Malon. The man was burly and big, with a bald head. He wore no shirt, but Link saw that was because he'd removed it and some leather armor. He appeared to be in the process of removing a belt from around his pants. However, Link's entrance stopped him. The man turned around, and saw Link. He then got off Malon, who quickly grabbed a blanket to cover the fact that she only had on her undergarments, her face a deep scarlet. She had also noticed Link's entrance. However, Link's attention was solely on the bandit. The man chuckled, drawing a knife.

"Well, well, looks like we got a pretty boy trying to be a hero!" the bandit said. He ran at Link, moving deceptively fast. However, Link sidestepped the attack. As the man rushed at him again, Link's anger got the better of him. The Hylian teen stabbed with the Master Sword, the sacred blade piercing the man's heart. The bandit's eyes widened with surprise, but they didn't stay that way for long. Within a few moments, his eyes became lifeless, and Link pushed the body off of the blade. Malon shakily walked over to Link, her body wrapped in a blanket.

"Is... is he...?" she started to ask, unable to bring herself to say it. Link, however, understood her, and nodded.

"Yeah. He's dead." Link said. He then turned to Malon. "You alright? He didn't... well, do anything.. did he?" Link asked, almost embarrassed to mention what the bandit had been about to do. Malon shook her head.

"No. You got here just before he could..." she said. Malon then broke down crying, grabbing Link and crying into his chest. Link just stood there, watching the bandit's blood soak into the carpet. His eyes strayed down to the Master Sword, seeing droplets of blood spattering onto the floor.


After Malon had recovered, Link headed outside after moving her to Talon's room. There, he saw Sora casting mass Blizzagas to put out the fires. Link quickly helped him, utilizing the Ether Medallion to tame the larger fires down so Sora could put them out. Link then approached the still-frenzied horses, and played Epona's Song on the Ocarina of Time. This seemed to calm the horses down, and Link herded them back to the pasture. Just as the two were checking on Ingo, they heard a familiar voice behind them.

"WHAT IN TARNATION HAPPENED TO MY RANCH!?" The two turned around and saw Talon throwing a fit. Link quickly approached him.

"Mr. Talon, please calm down. Sora and I will explain everything." Link said. Talon nodded.

"You make sure you do that, Link. This could end up costing me thousands of Rupees to repair..." Talon said, muttering the last part in sadness. After confirming Ingo was okay, Link and Sora explained what all had transpired, from Ingo's take over to the attack. Link swore Talon was gonna rip the captured bandits' heads off for what their leader did to his daughter, but Link managed to calm him down. Finally, Talon turned to the two adventurers. "So... is Malon okay?" he asked.

"Dad, I'm fine..." Malon said from behind him. She'd dressed herself in another simple dress. Seeing the bruises, Sora approached her, calling forth the Keyblade.

Curaga!

Immediately, Malon's bruises faded out, and they looked like they were a week old.

"I'm afraid I can't heal the mental wounds..." Sora said. Malon nodded. Talon thanked the Keyblade Master. Link heard what Sora said, as he approached them, having made sure that the ranch's horses were fine.

"Only time can do that, Sora. Only time can do that." Link said. Malon turned to Link and Sora.

"So, what were you two doing here anyway?" she asked. "I know you weren't here just to stop them." Link nodded at this.

"Yeah, we actually stumbled across this whole thing by accident. We were gonna let you know that Epona and the other horse were okay." Link said. Malon nodded.

"Well... I'm glad you came back." she said, giving Link a kiss on the cheek, blushing all the while. Sora managed to stifle a laugh.

"I'll go get the horses so they can be returned to their home." the Keyblader said, heading toward the entrance of the ranch. Talon turned to Link.

"Link, I need a favor. If you ever get the chance, I need you to find a carpenter named Mutoh. He owes me a few favors, and I figure I could talk him into fixing the place if we call it even." Talon said. Link nodded. He'd heard a bit about Mutoh during his stay in Kakariko. It was said he was the best carpenter in all of Hyrule. However, it was also said that his work was very expensive. Sora then returned with the horses. The two accepted the offer to stay at the ranch. The dead bandit had been buried outside of the ranch, and his pals had been dumped in the middle of Hyrule Field. Link felt no pity for them. After the two returned to the ranch, they started to set up in the guest room. Soon, the entire ranch was asleep, all except for one occupant. Link was having trouble sleeping, and it was easy to tell why. Link's mind wouldn't let up on the fact that he'd taken a life. He'd never killed someone before. Sure, he and Sora had slain their fair share of monsters, but they'd never killed someone. That moment kept replaying itself in Link's head over and over again: the moment when life had left the eyes of the bandit. Link got up and made his way to the door, making sure he didn't wake Sora. Link then quietly made his way outside. A gentle breeze blew in the cool night. Link made his way to a ladder, sitting on the roof. Link sat, looking up at the sky, seeing a few stars in the night. However, his mind kept thinking back to that moment. He didn't even hear anyone else climbing the ladder, but the next moment, he heard a gentle female voice.

"You having trouble sleeping too?" Malon asked, sitting down next to Link, who merely nodded. "Let me guess... it was when you killed that man." the ranch girl guessed. The way she said it, it was more of a statement than a question. Link nodded again.

"You know, Sora and I... we've killed our fair share of monsters... Stalchildren, Deku Scrubs, Deku Babas, Dodongos, Keese... but that was the first time I've ever killed someone... a person..." Link said. He unsheathed the Master Sword, which was now clean. The metal of the blade gleamed in the moonlight. Malon nodded.

"I wish I could understand how you feel..." she said. "I do want to thank you, though... I knew once he was done with me, he was gonna kill me." Malon said. Link said nothing, his blue eyes still staring at the night sky. "It'll probably just take some time to cope..." Malon said. She then headed down the ladder. Link remained motionless, until he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"She's right, you know." Link looked back, surprised to see Kaepora Gaebora sitting on the roof. Link shook his head. He could've sworn he'd heard Rauru's voice... "Yes, Link, it is I, Rauru. I cannot manifest myself in my natural form outside of the Sacred Realm at this point in time, but I can travel about Hyrule in the form of this owl." Link said nothing for a moment.

"What do you want?" he then asked. Kaepora Gaebora shook his head.

"To let you know that everyone feels like this when they kill someone. I felt the same thing the first time I took a life." the owl said. Link stared.

"You... killed someone?" Link asked. The "owl" nodded.

"It was during a civil war. A faction of men tried to sieze the Triforce. I was the last Sage left. As the Princess of Hyrule at the time was sealing the Triforce away, one of the enemy broke through the defending soldiers and rushed at her. I did the only thing I could do. My magic was nearly gone, but I managed to slow the man down. However, he kept going, so my instincts took over. Next thing I know, I was watching the life leave his eyes, as my hands tightened around his throat..." Rauru said, trailing off at the end. Link stared.

"How did you cope with it?" Link asked.

"I told myself what I'm about to tell you. Sometimes, Link, the taking of a life is necessary in order to protect the greater good. If I hadn't taken that man's life, the Princess would've died, and the Triforce would've been used for evil. If you hadn't taken that bandit's life, Malon might be dead right now." Link said nothing, sheathing the Master Sword. Kaepora Gaebora continued. "Besides, you and Ganondorf will be in a fight to the death, so it's better for you to get over this feeling now. That way, there will be no hesitation at the final moment." Link nodded, smiling.

"Thanks, Rauru." Link said. The "owl" nodded before disappearing in a bright flash of light. Link then climbed down the ladder, entering the building, and finally fell asleep.


Notes on the Chapter:

1. Yes, this chapter is a filler chapter. Plus, I wanted Link and Sora to have an easier time navigating Hyrule. So, they get Epona and another horse.

2. Almost the same Ingo race as before.

3. I've never actually read the OoT manga, but I've read some other fics that mentioned an attack on Lon-Lon Ranch by bandits. So, I decided to add my own twists to what happened... and this was the result.

4. Link's having a bit of a crisis. He's never really killed someone before, so I think it's something he has to get used to. Don't forget, he has to kill Ganondorf at some point, and then there are some of the future parts of LoHH where there will be killing. So, this is him getting used to the idea.