Silent Courage

Chapter 14: Back on Track, Almost

Chapter 14: Back on Track, Almost

The first thing I think when I wake up is ‘holyshizmagicwasusedonme!’ and I sit up in bed, eyes wide. I look around to find Sheik sitting in the chair again, his head hanging as he sleeps. I shiver a bit, finding it funny that magic cured magic, and poke his arm to wake him up. When it doesn’t work, I poke him a few more times when he grabs my wrist.

“You can stop now,” he says calmly, smirking as he lowers my arm. “And yes, I used magic to help cure you from magic. I’m surprised you didn’t fight me like you did to Zelda.”

I look down at the bedcover, why didn’t I fight against him? “You mentioned something about fighting images, and feeling something grab you hand and hearing my voice. Maybe that had something to do with it?”

‘I’m not sure. But thanks, that probably took a lot of your energy,’ I smile gratefully.

“Link, how can you trust me?” his question confuses me. Where did that come from? “I used so much magic around you, even knowing you were afraid of it. I even taunted you with it! How do you have so much trust towards me?”

I rub the back of my neck, I don’t know why I trust Sheik. There’s just this feeling in me that refuses to let me not trust him. It’s like I’m willing to trust him with anything, I feel like I can just be with him and not have a worry in the world. Why is that? ‘Dunno,’ I shrug eventually. ‘I have no real reason not to trust you. Yeah, you used magic around me, so what? Other people do it too, you know. Besides, you saved my life more than once, and one little mistake isn’t gunna make me hate you.’

His eyes brighten at that, but I don’t know why. Does he have abandonment issues or something? Maybe that’s something to ask another time. ‘So, now that I’m back to normal, I need to talk to Zelda about finding the next Sage.’

“I shouldn’t have expected any less,” Sheik smirks. “Well, I have to deal with something anyway. See you around, Shorty,” he says as he opens the door.

‘See ya, Jerk,’ I think. He closes the door behind him with a roll of his eyes. Smiling, I kick the covers off and stand up, a bit shakily, on my legs. Great, I’m not used to my own legs. I huff, it’s always something.

I open the door, smiling at being able to use my hands again, and close it behind me with a soft click. I stretch my arms over my head and lock my hands behind my head as I take the familiar path to the throne room. Most likely Zelda’ll be there. I pass a few servants on my way, all of them asking me where I have been. I just shrug at them and finally make it to the throne room. I look in to see Zelda talking with Pretty Boy again. Ugh, what does he want now?

With a little hesitation, I walk in as Pretty Boy’s saying something about a battle plan. I don’t really listen. I wait, a bit impatiently, behind him, my hands behind my back as I stand tall. After a few minutes, I’m bored and walk up behind Pretty Boy, seeing Zelda notice me. I send her a playful smirk before jabbing at Pretty Boy’s side. He jerks away and turns, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. I just smile goofily as he glares at me.

“You are just hilarious,” he says bitterly. I mock bow. I notice Zelda hiding a smile behind her hand as Pretty Boy’s glare hardens. “I guess I will talk to later when we don’t have any…unwanted interruptions,” he bows to Zelda and gives me one last icy glare. I mock bow once again.

‘I aim to please,’ I think, making sure my thoughts are on my face, just to bug him. It works. Letting out an irritated sigh, he leaves and I wave childishly at his back. ‘Don’t let the doors hit ya on the way out!’

“Oh Link, stop patronizing him,” Zelda says, I hear the giggles in her voice.

‘Do I have to?’ I fake whine, letting my arms drop.

“Yes.”

‘Fine,’ I sigh. After a few seconds, we just laugh. Once we regain our breath I walk up the few stairs.

“How are you?” Zelda asks.

‘A lot better. It’s nice to be able to use my thumbs again,’ I say, bending my thumbs.

“Do you remember the face of the person who poisoned you?” she asks.

‘No, I don’t even remember getting poisoned.’

“I’m guessing you’re here to find out about the next Sage?”

‘Yeah.’

“Well, I was thinking. It might be faster to find the Sage of Shadow first.”

‘Why’s that?’

“We need Nura’s help for the Gerudo, but she’s still recovering from getting her sight back. We need to give her as much time as we can to heal. And since you know Sheik, I was thinking he could take you.”

‘I dunno ‘bout that, Zelly,’ I rub the back of my head, ‘whenever I bring up his teachers, he gets angry. I think he might have had a bad life with the Sheikah. Either that or he had a fight with his teachers and he left. I don’t want him to remember any bad memories just ‘cause of me.’

“Hmm, I see. But we don’t know anyone else who is a Sheikah, and their city isn’t located on any of the maps we have. Sheikah are like shadows, they’re almost non-existent, but you know they’re there.”

‘Well, maybe I can try, I guess. Hope he doesn’t get mad.’

“Sheik should still be in Castle Town. I would go look at Telma’s Bar, everyone finds their way there, weather it on accident or not.”

‘Sure thing,’ I nod and walk to the doors. ‘I hope he’s still there…’

-Sheik’s POV-

I enter the bar, maybe I can find out more here. I have a feeling Link is part of the Resistance, so maybe they know where I can get good supplies. Perhaps I can learn more about the shorty on the way. I walk up to the bar, where a woman is cleaning a glass. She has dark, Gerudo-like skin and orangey-brown hair. I have a feeling this woman is part Gerudo. “Hello there,” she smiles. “Not every day I see new faces. Or at least all I can see of yours,” I shrug, I had changed back into my usual clothes at the Castle. “Would you like anything?”

“Can I get a small glass of ale?” I ask. Haven’t had some in a while.

“Sure thing. So, what else are you here for?” well she’s straight to the point.

“I was wondering if you know where a good place to supply is. I’m not quiet used to the city yet.”

“Ah, I see. Well, a good place to go would be the Malo Mart in the main part of town.”

“Malo Mart?” I’ve heard of that place before, back in Kakariko, but I didn’t know it made it here.

“Yes, it took over an old shop that would run your wallet dry. Thank goodness for that. They sell things from arrows to traveling supplies. It’s not hard to find,” she explains as she passes me some ale.

“Thank you,” I say, taking a gulp. I look around the bar/inn and spot some people surrounding a table with a map on it. “Slow day?” I ask, there’s barely anyone here.

“It always is. It’s when night comes when this place gets crowded. Just ask Link, she got trapped in here because it was so crowded once.”

“Really? She always ends up with the short end of the stick,” I remark, taking another gulp. Then I realize, Telma knows Link’s a girl? Well, that proves it, Link’s part of the Resistance and they probably all know, keeping up the ruse at her request.

“Speaking of the devil,” she smiles at the door as it opens. I turn to see Link peeking in, the Master Sword and a shield on her back, and she looks slightly nervous.

‘Hi, Telma,’ she waves at the bar-tender. Telma smiles back before going to deal with some dishes. Link gulps slightly as she jumps up onto the stool. I can’t help but smirk at that. ‘Er…Sheik?’ she looks down, making her bangs fall into her eyes. I raise an eyebrow. She’s not usually like this. ‘I…need your help with…something,’ her shoulders are stiff. What is she so nervous about?

“Go on,” I push a bit when she stops.

‘I only need to find two more Sages.’

“I know.”

‘One of them is in Gerudo Desert, and the other is…um…a Sheikah,’ she looks down more, staring at the bar’s counter and avoiding eye-contact with me.

“Yeah,” I say slowly. Just spit it out already.

‘I was wondering if you could take me to the Sheikah,’ she thinks quickly, closing her eyes and holding the edges of the seat tightly. I feel a small flare of anger run through me at the mention of them, but quickly get it under control and ask in the calmest voice I can.

“Why do you need my help?” I snap. Okay, maybe that wasn’t very calm…

She shifts on the seat, not opening her eyes. ‘I don’t know anybody else…you’re the only Sheikah I know, so I thought you could help me.’

“…I can’t take you,” I say, thinking of my past.

‘Mind if I ask why?’

“Yes. It’s none of your business,” I say shortly. “Go ask someone else.”

She nods slowly. ‘Okay. Sorry for bringing it up. Do you know anyone who can take me?’

I think about it. I guess Sonja can take her… “Yes. My cousin can probably take you. She’s still on good terms with them.”

Her face brightens as she looks up. I feel my heart flutter a bit at the childish smile on her face. ‘Really? Great! Thanks, Sheik!’ she thinks as I put a blue and yellow Rupee on the counter.

“Come on, I should introduce you two,” I say, getting up. She follows, after waving goodbye to Telma, and keeps up with her usual trotting.

‘This is a lot of help. Thank you,’ she grins up at me and I smile back.

“It’s the least I can do. Since I can’t go, Sonja will have to. I’m sure she’ll like you,” we walk through Castle Town and I notice Link has her head ducked. “Problem?” I chuckle.

‘I don’t like being surrounded if people see it’s me. They only leave me alone when I’m on ‘Pona, but that’s only because she’s a big horse,’ she thinks, grabbing my arm when she’s bumped into.

“Well, you’re not wearing your trademark tunic or hat, so people won’t know it’s you on sight,” I explain, helping her up by grabbing her shirt gently, steering her through the crowd. We make it to the stables in no time and Link runs up to her horse, hugging the mare around the neck.

‘Epona! I’m back to normal!’ as if hearing her, Epona neighs happily and nuzzles Link, making her laugh. I close my eyes and listen, she has the truest laugh I have ever heard, it’s not held back, and it’s strong. It’s nothing like Rosalie’s laugh- ‘Hey, Sheiky! We goin’ or what?’ I open my eyes to see her sitting on Epona already, saddleless.

“Is that such a good idea?” I ask, grabbing Joyce’s reins.

‘I’ve done it before. Besides, it’s faster,’ she shrugs, holding onto Epona’s mane. ‘Where are we goin’ anyway?’

“Lon Lon Ranch. My cousin and me were staying there for a while.”

‘Oh, okay. I haven’t been there in a while,’ Link looks thoughtful as I mount Joyce.

“Well, let’s go. I don’t know if Sonja will be there yet or not,” I say and we head out.

-Later-

‘Eye spy something…grey,’ Link thinks. I look at her, raising an eyebrow.

“That’s too easy. A rock.”

‘Nope.’

“Okay, your shield.”

‘Nu-uh.’

“Your sword?”

‘No.’

“Um,” just as I’m about to guess again, thunder crashes over our heads. I look up. “The clouds?” I ask blandly.

‘You got it!’ she smiles. I just rolls my eyes.

“This is such a childish game.”

‘I never got to play it when I was younger, don’t kill my happiness,’ she pouts.

Link, how many times must I mind-tell you? Stop being cute!

And how many times must I tell myself to stop thinking that?

I shake my head. “We should set up a shelter. The rain will get us soon,” I dismount and she follows suit. We look around and Link points over at a tree.

‘That should work. It’s big enough to fit the horses under,’ she thinks, clicking her tongue and making Epona follow her. I follow her and tie Joyce up, looking at Link questionably when she keeps Epona untied. She glances over and seems to read my mind. ‘She’s a good horse, she knows when to stay and when to go.’ She pulls out some fruit from her dimensional bag. She hands some to me and sits down as Epona lies down. The Hylian leans her back on her horse as she munches on an apple and I shake my head. I’m not going to question Link from now on, I think I’ll only get a headache.

I sit down and lean on the tree trunk, eating the peach she gave me. Sonja should be able to get along with Link. She’ll know that Link’s a girl the moment she meets her. She’s the most observant person I know. I can’t wait to see Link’s face when Sonja meets her. I smirk at the thought.

After a while, it starts to rain, and wind picks up as well, blowing the rain towards us. ‘Okay, maybe under a tree wasn’t the best idea,’ Link thinks sheepishly.

“Not like we had any other option,” I pull out a blanket from the saddlebag and toss it over Joyce before throwing another at Link. It hits her in the face and she slips back in the mud, grunting as she hits the wet ground. “Good catch,” I laugh as I walk over. She sticks her tongue out at me as I give out my hand to help her up. Once she’s on her feet again, she puts the blanket over Epona and I go to the other saddlebag. Oh man, I didn’t think I would be taking Link anywhere, so I only brought three blankets. “Looks like we’re sharing,” I say over my shoulder, taking out the blanket.

‘What?’

“I only brought three blankets, so we have to share this one,” I explain, looking at her. I can tell she wants to protest, but she doesn’t and just walks over. I lay the blanket on the ground and once we’re settled, we just lie here in silence, our backs facing each other.

I look over my shoulder at Link, she’s already asleep. Lazy. I roll over and see her shivering, she must get cold easily, plus she’s covered in mud. She rolls over towards me and I find her curled into me again. She hides her face in my chest and I chuckle lightly, sometimes you wouldn’t think she’s almost an adult, these are one of those times. “You’re a cuddlier, aren’t you?” I whisper into her ear. She snores in reply. “I’m taking that as a yes,” I smirk, placing my face onto her head. “‘Night, Linky.”

-The next morning, Link’s POV-

Once again, I wake up to see I’m cuddled into Sheik. I feel something on my head and look up to see his face. I quickly look down, feeling heat rise on my cheeks. Why’s my heart thudding so fast? Maybe I should ask Zelly why I feel this way around Sheik sometimes. It’s not like it happens every time I see him, just when he’s holding me or really close to me. I glance up through my bangs again, surprised I’m the first one awake, and try to move away, but he absentmindedly pulls me closer in his sleep. I make a funny squeaking sound as he hugs me, and I move my hands up to push on his chest. ‘Sheeeeik, let go,’ I mind-whine, wanting him to wake up. ‘We need to get to Lon Lon.’

He just mumbles something and hugs me tighter, making my hands stuck. ‘Goddess dammit,’ I pout. ‘Why won’t he let go?’

After a few more minutes, I give up. I turn my head and look over at Epona, who I know is laughing in her head. ‘Epona! Get him off!’ I mind-yell at her, but she acts like she can’t understand me and bends her head down to eat the grass. ‘Traitor,’ I glare. I look back up at Sheik and mind-grumble. ‘I’ll bite your nose if you don’t wake up,’ I threaten, he just rolls onto his back, still holding me so I go with him and end up on top of him. ‘SHEIK! WAKE UP!’ I mind-yell as loud as I can, but he still doesn’t wake up. Fed up, I head butt him. He sits up fast and knocks his head with mind, letting me go to hold his forehead as he sits up. One of his arms is still around me, so I’m sitting in his lap, glaring at him.

He opens his eyes and sees me, and his face goes red. I continue to glare. “Holy Goddess, Link, your head is hard!” he says, still rubbing his forehead.

‘When you head butt the Ordon Goat kids all the time, you tend to get a thick skull…I feel like I just insulted myself,’ I think as he lets go.

Chuckling, he gets up and goes over to his horse, taking the blanket off. “Come on, we should be able to make it to Lon Lon in an hour.”

I nod and take the blanket off Epona, giving her a glare that she ignores. ‘You coulda helped me, ya know,’ I think to her. She just tosses her head, acting ‘innocent’, and grazes. I huff and mount her, steering her over to Sheik. He finishes packing and stuffs the blankets back into the saddlebag before getting on Joyce.

“Well, let’s go,” he nudges Joyce’s sides and starts galloping off. I take it as a challenge and lean down, clicking my tongue and urging Epona to start running. She lowers her head and runs off, quickly catching up and overtaking Sheik.

‘Race ya!’ I mind-yell behind me and I can imagine him smirking as I hear his horse galloping faster.

When Lon Lon ranch comes into view, Sheik and me neck-and-neck and I pat Epona’s neck. Seeing the glint of freedom in her eyes, she picks up the pace and I think we have it, when Sheik suddenly ends up in front of us, to our confusion. He smirks over his shoulder before looking forward, he and his horse dashing towards Lon Lon in a blur. ‘Holy goat, how are they so fast?’ I think as I click my tongue again.

Sadly, when we finally make it to Lon Lon, I see Sheik standing beside the barn, looking smug. “Link, a bit of advice, never race against a Sheikah,” he says simply as I dismount. Epona nips irritated at me and I jump away so she doesn’t get me. “Go put Epona in a stall, I’ll go find Sonja.” I nod and take Epona’s mane. She follows moodily, not happy to know there’s a faster horse. How come my horse has such a stubborn pride?

I guess I shouldn’t be thinking, she probably learned from me.

-Sheik’s POV-

I leave Link to deal with her temperamental work horse and knock on the door of the barn house. The person who answers is the girl who let us stay here in the first place. “Oh, hello, Sheik. I haven’t seen you in a while. Sonja’s getting impatient.”

“She’s always bored if she can’t go out and chase boys,” I roll my eyes, the redheaded girl giggles. “Is she around?”

“Yes, she’s out in the corral, I think,” she tells me.

“Thank you,” I say and walk off towards the corral. Low-and-behold, there’s Sonja, yelling at a Cucco for something it did. I question my cousin’s sanity sometimes. “Sonja, what are you doing?” I yell at her. She looks at me as I come over, holding a Cucco by the neck in her hands.

“The stupid bird wouldn’t shut up this morning, so I’m trying to destroy its voice box,” she says as if it’s the most normal thing in the world.

“You’re crazy,” I say.

“Took you this long to notice? Ooh, who’s that?” she looks over my shoulder and I turn to see Link looking around before spotting us.

“That’s Link. I brought him here because we needed to talk to you,” I explain.

“About what?” Sonja asks, watching Link with a calculating eye, making the Hylian stop in her tracks and look at the ground, scuffing her boot in the dirt. Odd, I don’t normally see her like this.

“One second,” I say and walk over to her, tapping her shoulder. “Coming or not, Shorty?”

‘Yeah, it’s just that…’ she trails off, glancing up.

“Just that what?” I ask.

‘It’s like she’s seeing into me,’ she mind-whispers, as if thinking Sonja can hear her.

“Come on,” I put a hand on her back and bring her over, to Sonja’s obvious amusement. “Sonja, this is Link. Link, Sonja,” I say shortly.

“Hi there!” Sonja grabs Link’s hand and shakes it firmly. “I have two things to say: What do you need and why do you look like a boy?”

I snicker when Link’s ears drop and her eyes go wide, her face looks frozen in shock. “What? You didn’t think I was stupid, did you?” Sonja teases, ruffling Link’s hair, knocking Link out of her stupor. “Heh, so, what do you two need?”

“Sonja, Link is looking for the current Sages of Hyrule. She’s found three of them so far, and needs to find two more. She needs to get to the Sheikah, so I was wondering if you could take her.”

“Y’know neither of us have been there in two, almost three years, right?” Sonja asks blandly.

“Yes, I know. But Link needs someone who can lead her there. I can’t. So that means you have to,” I say, not looking at Link as she looks curiously between Sonja and me.

“‘Kay,” she shrugs. “Get ready, kiddie,” she ruffles Link’s hair again, much to her displeasure. “We’re leaving once you’re ready. You can go get the food,” she pushes Link towards the barn house and she stumbles forward, almost slipping in the mud. “She’s an interesting one alright.”

“You have no idea,” I mutter.

“So…have you recovered from Rosalie yet?” she asks casually. I glare at her for bringing it up. “I’m taking that as a ‘no’. C’mon, let it go already, Sheik. It’s her fault, not yours.”

“Yeah, but she wasn’t-!” I cut myself off from my yell, glancing over my shoulder. I don’t want a certain Hylian to hear.

“Well she should have been!”

“Sonja, just forget it, alright? No one else needs to know.”

“…Have you told Link?”

“No.”

She smiles sadly. “You know, it’s not good to keep it pent up inside. You need to tell someone who doesn’t already know.”

“I’m not telling Link anything,” I turn to leave, but Sonja grabs my shoulders and turns me.

“What have you got to lose?”

“…I’d never be able to face her again if she found out about that,” I look away.

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do. So drop it,” I walk away, still fuming inside. Can’t I go anywhere without it being brought up? As I walk towards the exit, I walk into something. I come out of my memories to see Link lying in the mud, shaking her head. She looks up and smiles sheepishly.

‘I really need to start looking at where I’m walking,’ she thinks, standing up.

“No, this time it was my fault. I need to head out. Sonja will help you get to the Tribe,” I say.

Suddenly, Link hugs me around my middle, covering me in mud as she squeezes me, pushing her head into my chest. I feel my face become hot. ‘Thanks, Sheik.’

“For what?” I ask, still surprised as to why she’s hugging me so tightly.

‘For…everything,’ she looks up with a huge smile, a light red colouring on her cheeks. ‘You’ve been a great friend Sheik, you’ve helped me with so many things, from a river to being a pup, you’ve stuck with me. I haven’t been able to be myself around many people, and you opened up and let me in. I can’t thank you enough. Stay safe,’ she thinks as I finally return the hug, not caring about her muddy back.

“I should be telling you that,” I smirk, lowering my head to rest it on top of her hair. “See you around, Shorty.”

‘Bye, Jerk,’ she gives me one last squeeze before stepping back, her blush still red and existent. I give her one last smile before heading out, my thoughts jumbled. Why do you do this to me, Link?

-Link’s POV-

My face is still warm long after Sheik leaves. Why did I hug him? I’ve wanted to thank him for a long time now, but I didn’t think I’d thank him like that. I’m so weird. I wipe some of the mud off the back of my breeches just to bump into someone else and slip back. Luckily the person grabs the front of my shirt and prevents me from falling.

“Heh, easy there. I’ve only just met you and I can already tell you’re clumsy,” Sonja laughs as I stand straight. “Well, come on,” she puts her arm around my shoulders and walks me into the barn. “We need to get ready. Did you get what I asked for?”

I shake my head, I was coming back to ask where they were. “Doesn’t matter, I guess. C’mon, you can help me saddle-up one of the horses here,” she opens the barn door and I start to go to Epona, but she stops me. “You’re mare’s too big, she’ll get too hot where we’re going. You’ll need to borrow one of these horses,” she waves her hand towards said horses.

I go over to them, looking each one over. There are three that catch my eye. One is a grey, black maned stallion with a stubborn look to him, one is a simple brown gelding with a brown mane, he’s munching on some hay, and the last is another brown horse, a mare this time, and she’s turned away from me. I lock eyes with the stallion, and he lifts his head, taking it as a challenge. He stretches his neck over the stall door as far as he can, his ears back and his gaze hard. Not taking my eyes off of him, I put my hand out and walk towards him slowly, careful not to startle him. He startles me when he snaps forward, but I take my hand away and hit him on the nose lightly. He takes his head back, as if he’s never been experienced that before. That’s weird, that’s what I did with Epona when she would act up when younger, it’s why she never bites at me anymore. I had just hit her nose a few times, never that hard, and she quickly stopped. Guess the Ranch doesn’t use that tactic.

The stallion snorts and nips at me again, I step out of his range and quickly grab the back of his mane, pulling his head down to my height, now I feel bad, and stroke my hand down his face. ‘Calm down,’ I think and his eyes soften a bit. I give a satisfied nod with a smirk. Works every time.

“Well, he’s not what I would have chosen, but I guess he likes you,” I turn to Sonja, who’s arms are crossed as she leans on a post. “Well, here’s his stuff,” she passes the saddle to me. Where did she get it from?

Shaking my head, I turn and walk into the stallions stall. I get him ready and all the while I feel Sonja staring at the back of my head. When I turn, I see her leaning on the door of the stall, a creepy smile on her face. I smile back nervously, eyes shifting a bit. Why’s she doing that? Her smile grows. “So, you love my cousin, don’t you?” her smile grows even more when I feel my face heat up. I shake my head fast, of course I don’t! We’re just friends! But the inside of my chest tightens at that. Aren’t we just friends? “I know that look in someone’s eye when they find the one they love. Many times in fact,” she jumps over the door and puts her hands on my shoulders. She’s only a few inches taller than me, but she seems to be towering over me right now. “Come on, don’t kid yourself. You love Sheik.” It’s not even a question.

I shake my head again, feeling my face become hotter. Her smile turns soft and she bends forward as if she’s talking to a child. “Do you ever feel your heart twinge when you look at his face or eyes? Do you ever blush when you’re with him? Ever feel like there’s something tugging in your chest right here?” she puts her hand on my chest, thumping it lightly. I look down a bit as I think about it. Yeah…I’ve felt like that a few times. “And do you ever feel lighter than air when you hug him?” this makes my entire face heat up. I probably look like the sun burnt me right now. Sonja laughs lightly, ruffling my hair again. Will she stop that? “See?”

Stubbornly, I shake my head again. I don’t love love Sheik. I love him more like the brother I never had. My heart hurts so much thinking that. What?

“Fine. I obviously can’t make you see what only you can feel,” Sonja sighs. I smile, grateful that she let it slide so quickly. “Alright, that aside. Let’s get going!” she cheers and back flips over the stall door. Dame, that’s awesome! I mount the stallion, he tries to nip at my backside, but luckily I can still sit down without pain. Once we check for everything we need, we head out.

As I follow Sonja, I find that she can’t go five minutes without talking. She rambles on about everything, from what she was taught about history, her fighting skills, to her and Sheik always being with each other when they were younger. Apparently, she liked to pull pranks on Sheik, and she had even managed to scare him once. I laugh in my head at that. If someone can make the stoic Sheik scared, they deserve to have the black-rank.

Speaking of which, Sonja explains a bit more about the ranking system, how you qualify for the ranks, what tasks you have to do, what ordeals you have to face. She went through a lot to get the black-rank. She had to survive in the desert for a week with only three days’ worth of supplies, she had to master all the fighting skills before eighteen, she had to learn all healing and defensive spells, and she had to learn all but the most powerful offensive spells. I would not want her on my bad side. But despite all the things she’s seen and all the skills she knows, she’s fun to ‘talk’ to and she is easily the most easy-going person I have ever met. Heck, she’s never once mentioned anything about me being mute, or being a Hylian. She’s treating me like my closest friends already treat me, and it’s like we had known each other since we were kids, or even younger.

Suddenly, she seems to remember something, as she stops talking and just stares at my face. I tilt my head at her, why’s she looking at me like that? It’s like she’s trying to recognize me.

-Sonja’s POV-

I’m in the middle of explaining advanced stealth skills I taught myself when I stop talking. Now that’s I’ve seen her face a bit more, I can’t help but feel like I know her. It’s her eyes that get me, and her ears. I didn’t notice at first, but it’s obvious that she’s Hylian, a full-blooded one too. Her eyes look so familiar, deep blue and wolf-like. Where have I seen those eyes before? It wasn’t on her face, those eyes were on a man I believe, if my memory serves me right. I think I had been…three or four when I saw eyes like those before. But where…?

Link tilts her head, much like a dog would, and blinks a few times, as if waiting for me to say something. That’s surprising, I haven’t shut up since we left Lon Lon. I force a smile on my face, I think she can tell it’s not very real, since she looks even more confused. “Sorry, lost my track of thought,” I laugh. “It’s just that…you’re eyes are familiar.” This makes the girl even more confused. “Anyway, we’re almost at the Desert. From there, it should take us four days to get to the Sheikah. I must warn you, they don’t take lightly to strangers, so you’ll have to stick with me as close as you can. I don’t think Sheik would like me to lose you,” I joke. Her cheeks become light pink, but she laughs too. I smirk. She so likes Sheik.

We come to a bridge that stretches across a river far below, the river drains into Lake Hylia and across the bridge is an old settlement that used to belong to the Gerudo before they moved deeper into the desert they proclaimed as their own. Little did they know they were sharing it. “We can rest here for the night. It will be great shelter in case a storm comes during the night,” I say as we dismount. We lead the horses into the run-down fortress and tie them up beside a water trough. I look around the fortress and grin when I find barrels of water. I push one over and roll it back to the horses to find Link gone. She’s probably exploring.

I crack the lid off and pour the water into the trough. It’s a little murky, but otherwise it’s still good. Wait, that’s not right. If the water is still drinkable, after hundreds of years, then does that mean…?

My eyes grow wide. I need to find Link. I don’t think we’re alone in this fortress after all.

-Link’s POV-

As Sonja goes off, I guess to find water, I go the opposite way, curious about what’s in this old fortress. I come across some old cells and wander into them, wonder why these are here. This place used to belong to the Gerudo, so maybe these were cells for intruders? I’m not an expert on the Gerudo. I only know a little from Nura. I walk out of the cell when a shiver goes down my spine and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise. It feels like something’s watching me. I look around the room I’m in, but I can’t see anybody. I keep wandering around the fortress, the uneasy feeling never once leaving me.

In my wandering, I come across a very large, very fancy room. I’m guessing this is where the leader of the Gerudo used to live. Curiosity getting me, like usual, I poke around the room, opening the drawers and wardrobe. I don’t find many things, some dead bugs, the odd piece of clothing, and some jewels, but other than that, only a mahogany bed with red velvet covers is in here. Smirking, I run to the bed and jump up and down on it, messing up the pillows and covers. Once satisfied, I let myself fall back onto the bed. It’s very comfy. Wonder why it’s not eaten away like the wardrobe.

“It’s a nice bed, isn’t it?” the voice makes me sit up fast and I look around, eyes wide. The voice laughs. “You think you can find me? I’ve been following you since you entered this fortress, and you’ve never once spotted me. Not that you could. Humans can’t see Poes, unless we want them to,” the voice cackles as a Poe comes into view beside me. I jump away, but fall off the bed, groaning when my head hits the table beside it. The Poe laughs again, floating down to me. He’s like the Poes I found when I was helping Jovoni, white, transparent and holding a scythe. His lantern is nowhere to be seen, which is why I couldn’t find him. “So sorry to startle you, it is much my fault. I haven’t had someone to prank in a good fifty years. Not since I was killed by that monster.”

I raise an eyebrow. Monster? What’s he talking about?

“There’s a viscous beast here that still lives. It seems like an ordinary human, living off water and food, but it seems to be some sort of demon. It lurks in the shadows, undetected by the most cunning person. You must find it before it finds you, or you can kiss your life goodbye,” the Poe laughs as I get to my feet. There’s a demon here? Is it just something the Poe’s calling it, or is it an actual Demon like Ghirahim? “Come, I can guide you around safely. I can’t say the same for that other girl though. She should be fine, Demons are strange creatures. The go for the most vulnerable beings.”

Vulnerable? How am I vulnerable? I have my sword and shield, as well as my other weapons. I can fight.

“That’s not what I mean. Demons know a person’s weakness, they can sense it without it being told to them. And all, and I really mean all, Demons know the one thing that scares you so much that you would rather jump off a cliff into an ice-cold river than confront it,” the Poe laughs again at me as I freeze. “Well, we can’t find that other girl if you just stand there. Come on, human,” the Poe grabs my hand with his own cold one and pulls me along, going invisible as we exit the room. “So, keep your eyes peeled. The Demon could be anywhere.”

I nod as I scan the hallway, making sure to look everywhere I can. We walk/float on in silence, the Poe still hasn’t let go of my hand. I’m actually grateful for that, I don’t want to lose the only thing that’s helping me at the moment. Even if it is a Poe. A few minutes later, the fortress gets darker until I have to use my Twilight Sight to see. But even with my eyesight, I can’t see very well. I suddenly bump into the invisible Poe. Guess he stopped. I look down the hall to see a figure standing there, they have shadowy black skin, grey diamonds and black hair. The Poe wasn’t kidding, this is a Demon.

“I knew there were intruders in here,” the Demon says, their voice soft and feminine. “My sister and I were living here with so much peace, away from all humans that wished to dissect us. But I now see we were wrong. Now two humans have come. My sister is going to deal with the girl. My job is to deal with the boy. The boy…the boy…” I shiver as she steps forward. Her voice is so cold and empty. What happened to her? I don’t have time to wonder as she sprints at me, almost stiffly.

“C’mon, human! She’s coming!” the Poe pulls me back and I run after him as he becomes visible, letting go of my hand. I hear heavy breathing behind me and try to pick up my pace, but soon find myself under the Demon. She’s breathing into my ear, her breath biting cold.

“You’re…the boy. My sister told me to find you, and I have. But now I see you, I see you’re small. Almost like child,” I struggle to get out from under her, but she flips me onto my back and pins my arms above my head, holding onto my wrists with only one hand. She brings her face close, as if trying to see something. “You…the boy…you will be a great offering,” my ears fall. Offering? To what? She stands, grabbing my foot and drags me behind her. I try to grab something, but the stone is too smooth for me to get a grip, and I soon give up, crossing my arms over my chest childishly as I’m dragged away on my back. She could at least let me walk, couldn’t she?

She enters another room, this time one with a door. I grab at the frame, but she ignores my hands and closes the door on them. I yelp and pull my hands back, stuffing them under my armpits as if to get rid of the pain. She tosses me forward and I skid across the floor until I slam into an altar of some sort. I start to get up, but the Demon grabs my shirt and puts me on the altar, strapping my arms and legs to it. What the heck?

“Sister, I have…the boy,” I find it weird that she pauses before saying ‘the boy’. Does she know I’m a girl?

Another Demon comes out, looking exactly like the one that brought me here, and she puts her hands on my face. I shiver a bit, they’re really cold and clammy. She turns my head to each side before bringing her head down and licking my forehead. Ew. Okay, this is just getting creepy. “Fine offering, sister,” she says, her voice is colder and even emptier than the first one. “Leave us, I will get the ceremony started.”

Ceremony? I’m not gunna like this, am I? The first Demon leaves and the other one holds my face again. “You’re the boy. You’re a funny size, not many like you,” she says, running her hand over my forehead. She grabs my ears and pulls, I flinch and pull my head back, but this only makes my ears hurt more. After that, she turns and leaves, leaving me in the darkened room. I move my wrists, trying to see if I can get out. Nothing. Goddess Dammit.

“Here we are,” she comes back with a small candle. She grabs my left hand still and lowers the candle to it, her eyes shining when she sees the Triforce. “You are one. We will get much power from you,” she says, grinning like a mad-woman. She tips the candle and my eyes widen as wax drips off. I grit my teeth when it lands on my hand, and the Demon’s eyes shine more as she uses the wax to outline the mark. After that, she turns around and picks up some sort of item. When she turns around again, I see her holding a metal rod. I blink, what’s so threatening about that?

My question is answered when she snaps her fingers and it instantly glows white-hot. My eyes widen as she brings it to my hand and lays it down the first line of wax. I can’t help it, I scream as the smell of burning flesh, my own burning flesh, reaches my nose. The Demon doesn’t stop, or lift the rod off, she just turns it on my skin. There’s a psychotic smile on her face as she continues ‘working’. When she’s finally finished, I’m only able to take in a few gasps of breath before she grabs a dagger. She puts it on my wrist and I look away as she brings it down. Luckily, the door explodes open and hits her away from me and into the opposite wall.

I open my eyes and smile gratefully at Sonja as she unties the straps and helps me off. We run from the Demon as the door bursts into flames and she runs after us. We round the corner to run into the other Demon, but Sonja just kicks her away and we keep running. I look behind us. A bad mistake. I see a wave of fire rushing at us, and I gasp as it draws closer. Sonja looks back too, but we both run into a dead end. We fall back and sit up, shaking our heads before getting up and turning towards the fire.

I look at Sonja from the corner of my eye nervously as the fire crawls towards us. “Don’t worry, I can deal with this,” she says, lifting her arms and making water swirl around her hands. I back away a step as she sends the water at the flames, burning them out and leaving a smoking, scorched trail in their place. Not wanting to waste time, we run off and eventually find the horses. We untie them and mount, this shelter isn’t worth getting killed.

-Third POV-

The two Demon sisters smirk as the Poe flies over to them. All three of them laughing, the two Demons turn into Poes, their real selves. “Aw man! That was hilarious!” the first female Poe giggles. “I haven’t had so much fun!”

“Offering, pff,” the other female snickers. “That kid couldn’t be worth half of a real offering. But that was fun outracing that funny mark on her hand.”

“Funny mark?” the male Poe asks.

“Yeah, the boy/girl had this weird mark on her hand. It was just fun to outline. C’mon, race ya two to the Master Bedroom!” cackling with giddiness, the trio of Poes start to float to the bedroom.

-Link’s POV-

I rub my burning hand the next morning, we had managed to find a small cave, and let out a quiet squeak when the burn vanishes, leaving nothing in its trace. My jaw drops. That was all a trick! That Poe must have put a healing spell along with the fire! Glaring at the cave wall, I get up and kick a rock, sending it flying out of the cave’s mouth as the sun rises. Stupid! Bloody! Magic!

I can never get a break, can I?

Much later, I show my hand to Sonja, and she laughs loudly when she figures out it was a trick. “Should have figured! They must have seen us enter and wanted us to leave, so they tricked us!” I glare at her. S’not that funny. “Sorry, sorry. But look at the bright side! You’re not hurt after all!” she doesn’t stop laughing as we mount the horses. I just continue to glare as we leave the cave.

We travel through the desert, I feel the sun heating up the back of my neck a bit as we rest by an oasis. I splash the water on my face and smile as it refreshes me. Sonja’s resting in one of the funny trees, hands behind her head. I kick the tree trunk and she looks down at me. She jumps down and lands in front of me like a cat. “Alright, let’s get going. This was a nice pit stop, but if we waste too much time, we might not make before the storms hit.”

I just follow her, not intending to remember that experience.

-Later-

A sandstorm is now keeping us in another cave we found. How come there are so many caves here? I shake the thought off, that’s the least of our problems. Some of the sand makes its way into the cave and covers us with the gritty rocks. I lost count of how many times I’ve had to brush my hair out of sand. Sonja has an easier time with it, she just hides her hair in her shawl. Lucky. I shake some sand out of my hair again after starting the fire and lie down, trying to ignore the storm. “You’re not used to the desert, are you?” Sonja asks. I look up at her to see her carving some sort of animal out of wood with a dagger. “How many times have you been here?”

I shrug, not much. I try to avoid it, since I don’t know exactly how to survive in them. “You’re from the forest area, right?” I nod. “That explains it. You probably know more about forest survival. It won’t be too bad as long as you listen to what I say.”

Yawning, I look out of the cave’s mouth before turning onto my stomach and using my arms as a pillow. Soon, I fall asleep, despite the storm.

-Sonja’s POV-

I raise an eyebrow. Somebody get this girl a prize, I’ve never seen someone fall asleep that fast. I laugh, this kid is something else. I get up and walk to the cave’s mouth, staring off into the storm. I hope the Tribe isn’t too harsh when I take her to them. And I really hope she doesn’t get separated from me. There’s no telling what my people will do if they find a stranger in their home.

I’m thinking too much about them. Everything will be fine. It’s not like they’re following us, I would have sensed them if they had.

-The Next Morning, Link’s POV-

I jump awake, the beast from my nightmare lingering on my mind. That thing needs a name, I can’t keep calling it the beast. Hmm…I’ll name it Turkey. I smirk in amusement, I come up with such stupid names for things, mostly things that can kill me in one hit. It’s weird. I get up and stretch, looking out of the cave to see the sandstorm has died. I walk out of the cave and smile as the sun rises over the dunes. It looks so big, like it’s trying to stretch around Hyrule. I walk over a dune and sit down, enjoying the sunrise. I haven’t had a moment’s peace for a while it seems. This is the perfect time to relax.

The sound of hooves alerts me that I’m not alone and I stand up fast to see someone running at me on a white stallion. Not trusting them, I take a step back before running away, but another person cuts me off, rearing up their black mare. I throw my arms over my head and run to the right, only to get kicked back into the sand. I get up and turn in a slow circle. I’m surrounded. All of them are men, and they laugh as I look for a way to escape. “Will you look at that, what are you doing here, stranger? Lost?” one man dismounts his horse and I back up, but get kicked forward again by the man behind me. I hit the sand and struggle when the man steps on my back, pinning me. He crouches and brushes my hair out of my eyes, smirking. I glare at him. “We don’t take kindly to strangers in our territory.”

I do the only thing I can, I punch him in the face and while he’s nursing his nose, I get up and run towards the rider-less horse. But something cold and metallic wraps around my chest, pinning my arms to my side, I’m pulled back, landing on my knees. I look down to see a chain-like whip is wrapped around me, it looks a lot like Sheik’s-

My eyes widen as I look up into the face of the man I punched, his nose is bruised. The man has blackish-red eyes and brown hair, from what I can see under his shawl. He has a black bodysuit with a ripped white tunic over it. An eye with blood dripping down is on the front. These are the Sheikah! “My my my, trying to fight back? And striking a high-ranked Sheikah guard? That is worthy of a punishment, I think,” the man grabs the front of my shirt and lifts he off my feet, bringing me close to his face. His eyes look me over and stop at my ears, going wide when he sees. “So we have a Hylian on our hands? Even better. Let’s go!” he drops me and I start to get dragged back. I manage to get to my feet and try to fight back. I feel the chain tighten but ignore it, I need to get away!

Suddenly, I feel something hit the back of my head and everything goes black.

-Third POV-

Sonja wakes up feeling dread. She runs out of the cave and sneaks up the sand dune. When she looks over the top, she gasps. Link is surrounded by people of her Tribe, knocked out and chained. The captain snaps orders to the man who’s holding the other end of the chain and he nods, tying his end to the back of his saddle. Sonja swears in her head. Link must have tried to fight back. She ducks behind the dune when she sees the captain turn his head. “Come, Osamu will want to know about this boy. And I’m sure Rosalie can find out any secrets he has.”

Sonja risks looking over the hill again to see the horses rearing up and running towards the Sheikah Tribe, Link draped over the back of the second-in-command’s horse. “F***!” Sonja yells when they are out of sight. I need to tell Sheik! She thinks and sprints back to the horses, who are stomping the ground. Wordlessly, worry filling her, Sonja mounts her horse and clicks her tongue. The grey stallion Link rode follows behind her as she leaves the cave and heads to the fortress and bridge. Please be okay. Sheik is going to have a hissy fit when I tell him.

-Sheik’s POV-

I’m pacing the room Zelda let me borrow as I run through my thoughts. How in Hyrule can one girl make me so confused? And why am I thinking about her so much? No matter what I do, I always end up thinking of her or Rosalie. I shake my head. “No, forget about her!” I hiss to myself. “She betrayed you, just like the rest of them!”

Suddenly the door bursts open, almost being thrown off its hinges. I turn, taking out my throwing knives, to see Sonja leaning on the frame, panting and exhausted. I don’t even need to ask, but I do. “What’s wrong?”

Sonja takes deep breaths as I help her sit in a chair, giving her some water. “I-it’s Link, she-she was captured by the Tribe!” she gasps, leaning back in the chair. She came all the way from the desert?

I pinch the bridge of my nose, I knew it.

Well Link, it looks like I’m coming with you after all. Why do you cause me so much trouble?


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