Chapter Six: The Struggle

Consistent chattering pulled Ganon's consciousness from the gentle, comforting embrace of sleep. Not willing to acknowledge what awaited him when he opened his eyes, he stayed limp and kept his breathing even, enjoying his warm bed and relaxed muscles. His eyes sprung open when his bed moved and a soft muzzle ghosted over his hand. He blinked several times, unsure if the huge, cream colored wolf blocking out the rising sun was real or if he was still trapped in a dream. Ganon broke his staring contest with the wolf when he was nudged on his shoulder. Looking to the side, he blinked again, gazing into the red eyes of the Guardian Wolf.

"Ganon you're awake!" Link shouted and, pushing the gigantic wolf out of the way, launched himself at Ganon. He managed to catch his waist, but was unable to stop Link's momentum as he crashed into him. Ganon waited for the blinding pain to accompany the aggressive affection, but it never came. The only uncomfortable feeling he experienced was Link's knee digging into his inner thigh.

"I was so worried. I had to find something to do all day and no matter what I did to you, you wouldn't wake up! Navi told me you were sleeping and would wake up but not soon because you're body was recovering from healing from your wounds!" Link hugged Ganon tighter before hopping off of him, "But I'm glad you're awake now. Shadow was saying that there have been women warriors sniffing about and the only reason they haven't investigated up here yet was because Lordy cast some of his magic and that's preventing them from reaching here." Ganon interrupted as Link took a breath to continue.

"Warrior women? Who's Lordy? Wait, Shadow talks?" Ganon blamed his sleep-addled mind for his uncomprehension.

"The big, dark, red haired warrior women. They were frightening but they couldn't climb past the shrine. And Lordy is Lordy. The Lord of the Mountain is too much to say so he's Lordy. And Loft talks to me too." Link gestured to the side, pointing to gray wolf and scarlet loftwing over his shoulder. Dark blue and auburn eyes stared back at Ganon as he started wondering if every wolf he came across was going to be friendly. Unlikely considering he had only met three wolves and he'd heard plenty of horrifying stories from his mother about disembowelment from those creatures, but still. The three wolves he's met have been placid and calm. He glanced to his left and stared in astonishment as the gigantic wolf sedately finished his stretch. Link, noticing his stare, voiced,

"Oh, that's Scar. He's huge and could easily carry your weight. I can't hear his voice, but that doesn't mean I haven't tried. It's the same with Golden." He was cut off as a blue fairy flew in front of Link, distracting him from Ganon. The way she bounced around Link's head had Ganon thinking she was scolding Link, especially when Link pouted.

"Ganon!" A small voice broke through his musings as an amber light darted towards him and buzzed around his body. A soft sigh of relief escaped her when she finished her examination.

"You're completely healed without any scars. That Lord of the Mountain must have incredible healing magic because even I would have trouble healing all your wounds. He even healed your organs. He's amazing," Tatl fluttered to his shoulder, "I'm sorry I couldn't be much help against your mother. I didn't want to get you in more trouble but I couldn't find the right time to fly in and help you with her watching you as she did."

"That's fine. She gave you no opportunity to help me and even if you did, she'd find out and kill you." Ganon replied flat voiced. A huff from Golden and Scar shook him out of his self-deprecation as Golden nudged him up. Ganon shifted and stood as Golden followed, shaking out his fur and relaxing into a stretch.

"What now? We're stuck on a mountain and could run into those warrior women if we tried to leave. We're surrounded by wolves so if we did go down, the warrior woman would probably avoid us. Wait, will the wolves go down the mountain with us? Does Mother know where I am? Does she think I'm dead? No, she'll know I'm alive and will hunt me down. I can't be traveling with Link because she'll use him against me. I have to bring him to safety and leave him there. But where is safe? I don't know anyone except for Link so maybe he'd be the most safe traveling with me until we can find an area that Mother doesn't know about. But where would Mother never dare to go?" Ganon gripped his hair, his face hardening in concentration.

"Ganon?" Link's soft voice dragged him back to reality.

"Yes?" He questioned.

"Are you okay? Your face was all scrunchie and you looked mad." Link's finger poked between Ganon's forehead. The tension receded from Ganon's face, a small smile gracing his lips.

"Just thinking too much. There doesn't seem to be any food here so we should move. I don't know if my mother knows if I'm alive or not, but let's assume she knows. We need to move and find a place that she'd never look to find either of us." Ganon said.

"What about the warrior women?" Link asked.

"What about them?"

"Why don't we go with them? They seem strong and like they could protect us."

"No. I'm not goin-" Ganon cut himself off as an idea struck him, "I know that I can't trust the Gerudo warriors. Mother has told me enough horror stories to know what they would do to me but Link should be safe. He's Hylian. They'd get him to safety."

"You're not?" Link tilted his head.

"I think that's a great idea. Let's follow them and see what they are like. We should have code names as well." Ganon insisted.

"Code names? Cool, let's do it! I'll be Bird and you'll be Wolf!" Link exclaimed.

"Sounds good. Now if the warrior women ask for my name, tell them Wolf was with you. Don't use my real name. I don't understand why but they don't like that name."

"Why?"

"I don't know. Just call me Wolf from now on." Ganon said.

"If you say so. So how are we going to find them? Oh wait, Shadow says he can follow their trail and Loft will fly above us to see if he can spot them," Ganon turned in disbelief to Shadow as Loft took toward the sky, "Shadow says Golden says I can ride him and you can climb on Scar. That way we'll get down the mountain faster and catch up to the women faster." Link made a beeline toward Golden and Ganon's jaw dropped when Golden lowered himself to the ground so Link could climb up.

"Wait Link! Do you think that's safe?" Ganon rushed toward them as Golden stood up again, pulling tiny giggles from Link.

"Of course. Shadow says so." Link nodded.

"Why can you only hear Shadow and Loft?"

"I don't know. Now climb on Scar." Ganon glanced back at the monster wolf and shook his head.

"I'm good. I'll walk down."

"Why? It'll be faster if you ride on Scar. It's not like you haven't rode on a wolf before. You were on Golden's back when you first came up here."

"I'll walk." Ganon growled out.

"If you say so. Golden, you're soft." Link pet Golden as he began moving down the mountain, following Shadow. Ganon started walking behind him with Scar taking up the rear. Unease coursed through Ganon's mind at having his back toward a predator and he jolted in surprise when Scar trotted next to him. His unease lessened as the first hour passed and Scar made no abrupt gesture to attack him.

"Ganon, Scar will not attack you. None of these animals traveling with you will harm you. They are here to protect and guide you." Tatl spoke softly from his shoulder.

"Why would they do that?" Ganon asked, eyebrows raised.

"They're special. I'm sure you know that they are not like normal wolves." Tatl responded.

"The only wolves I've seen besides these three have been dead. How are they special?" Ganon inquired. Tatl's silence caused Ganon to stop and glance at her, unwittingly halting Scar as well.

"Tatl?"

"I'm not sure how to explain it in a way that would make sense. Let's see, they have been blessed by the Lord of the Mountain and the goddesses have charged them with watching over you." Tatl described.

"What? Why would the goddesses do that?"

"Because you'll need their protection." Tatl said.

"I don't need to be protected. I can handle my own battles. I've been alone for as long as I can remember, so why would these 'goddesses' suddenly decided that I need guardians? Where were they when my mother beat me black and blue? Where were they when she threw me off a cliff for training and I broke my legs? Where were they when she killed Mama and Papa? Where were they when Link needed them? Where-"

"Ganon, why'd you stop?" Link's voice cut into Ganon's rant and brought him back to his senses.

"I'm coming," Ganon called out before muttering, "where were they before all of this happened?"

"They weren't needed. If you had been in a life or death situation, they would have protected you like Golden did with the boar. When your mother threw you off a cliff, did you encounter any wild life that lived down there? Your guardians can't be everywhere, but Shadow did protect Link from the burning house and made sure to stay by his side until you arrived up on the mountain. Even if you couldn't see them, they were with you." Tatl spoke. Ganon scoffed as he looked ahead. Silence fell between them, punctured by Link's soft giggles and the patter of the wolves paws on the dirt road. Small details stuck out to him as they continued to traverse downwards. Scar walked between him and any cliff, reducing the chance of him slipping off the mountain. Golden changed his gait to keep Link entertained while Shadow stayed on the cliffs edge side, preventing Link from falling off the ledge. Loft rotated between flying high to keep a birds eye view of their surroundings and flying lower to watch over the group. Several times, Ganon had slipped on the gravel and each time Scar had caught him from falling on his face or his backside. The first time it happened, Ganon had froze in fear with his unease rearing its ugly head. After the fourth time, caused by Ganon being distracted by the wolves and Link in front of him, Ganon accepted that Scar wouldn't hurt him and reluctantly held onto Scar's fur stay balanced.

"Ganon, look how pretty that goat is!" Ganon raised his eyes from the ground and glanced in the direction Link was excitedly pointing towards. A male goat stood on top of a rocky crop, slowly chewing on the grass in his mouth, carefully watching the group from his elevated position.

"It looks like food to me." Ganon muttered, his stomach grumbling. The goat bleeted back and scurried away, out of sight. He shook his head and made to walk away when Scar stepped in front of him, still gazing at the spot the goat disappeared from.

"What are you doing?" Ganon crossed his arms as a crimson shape shot across his peripheral vision. Snapping his head to the right, he caught a glimpse of Loft vanishing above him. There was a short squeal that abruptly cut off before Loft reappeared, the goat held in his talons.

"Loft! Why did you do that? The goat was pretty!" Link complained.

"He did it to get food. Didn't Papa teach you how to skin an animal?" Ganon questioned, stepping back slightly as Loft lowered the carcass at his feet.

"Yes he did," Link's shoulders dropped before he forcefully straightened them, "But he never taught me how to skin a goat. Do you know how to skin one?"

"Yeah, Mo-Yiga taught me how to skin, clean, and cook every type of animal she could find. But I need a knife." Ganon glanced around, hoping to find a sharp enough stone to get the job done.

"Oh!" Link tumbled off Golden's back, narrowly avoiding face planting the ground as he rolled and pushed himself up, "I still have Papa's hunting knife. I thought I lost it but when I woke up, it was in my hand." He pulled out the sheathed knife and proudly displayed it.

"That'll work." Ganon's eyes glittered as he shoved the memories of Papa using the knife to teach him how to properly cut up an animal to use the fur as well as the meat to the back of his mind where he struggled to keep them from overwhelming him. Link once again stooped, gently tracing the sheath's designs as his eyes shone with unshed tears.

"Papa loved this knife. He said that his grandpa made the knife for his papa when he married Papa's mama. Then his papa gave it to Papa when Papa married Mama. He gave this to me when I went to get the doctor saying he knew I would keep it safe and to hurry and return it to him. Ganon, I miss Papa. But he's not coming back. Why can't he come back?" The tears rolled down his face as he clenched the knife. Ganon struggled to hold his own tears back.

"He's gone somewhere we'll follow when our time here is done. It's not like we'll never see him again. We just may not see him for a while." Ganon's jaw tightened.

"Lordy said to not hold my grief inside of me. What did he mean? It's not fair, I want Papa and Mama back." Link choked. Ganon couldn't answer for he didn't know. Shadow walked up to Link and gently nuzzled him, allowing him to throw his arms around him and sob as Loft fluttered around them, Navi pressing herself against his cheek. Scar softly pressed his body against Ganon as Golden nosed Ganon's hands. Ganon resisted briefly to the comfort before his grief forcefully shouldered its way to the front of his mind. Gasping, he fell to his knees and leaned against Scar as Scar lay beside him. Golden rested his head in Ganon's lap, Ganon's hands gripping his fur as each shuddering breath was accompanied by a stream of tears. Tatl set herself in Ganon's hair, gently stroking his red locks.

As Ganon's tears subsided ten minutes later, he hastily wiped his eyes, berating himself for showing weakness.

"You're not weak-" Tatl was cut off as Link spoke.

"Shadow says that tears don't make you weak. It means you've held too much emotion inside for too long so the tears release the emotion. Nothing shameful about that." Link's congested voice was muffled in Shadow's fur.

"It means I wasn't strong enough to deal with pathetic emotions." Ganon snarled, hastily rising when Golden lifted his head, shooing Tatl away. Link sluggishly turned his head to look at Ganon causing Navi to flutter up and land on his shoulder.

"Does that mean Papa wasn't strong? He's cried." Link probed, his weighted gaze locking Ganon in place. Ganon didn't answer as he turned his eyes away, uncomfortable with Link's question, and he saw the goat.

"Never mind. Can you go get firewood to start a fire while I skin the goat?" Ganon asked, holding out his hand for the knife, still avoiding Link's steady eyes. A quiet rustling followed by the knife being placed in his hand informed Ganon that Link was dropping the topic for now. Shadow padded after Link as Ganon knelt beside the goat unsheathing the knife, not hungry, but needed something to do with his hands. Just before he walked out of earshot, Link turned around, teeth clenched, and choked out,

"I don't think Papa was weak and I don't think you are either. Mama always said that strength came in different forms for everybody so whatever your mother said was wrong!" And with those parting words, he turned and raced towards the nearest trees to collect fallen branches leaving Ganon to stare after him in shock.

A/N: I keep forgetting about Navi and Tatl. I reread it and go 'oh yeah, I added them as well. Whoopsie.' I hope you enjoyed it and please read and review if you feel like it. Until next time.