Silent Courage

Chapter 16: Sheik's Past

Legend: Bold is Sheik, Italics are Link

Chapter 16: Sheik’s Past

Alright, I’ll tell you. When I was seven, I was just accepted as an apprentice to Master Hitoshi, one of the most successful and youngest Masters in over a hundred years.

A young Sheik stood in line with the other young’uns, standing straight with his hands behind his back like the other kids. He was the youngest of the entire line, but was also one of the taller ones. He looked forward, eyes glued to the opposite side of the training area, waiting as the Master Guard walked down the line, cryptically looking over the Sheikah kids of this year. The Master Guard scowled. The kids were getting weaker and weaker looking each year. At this rate, the Sheikah would start running out of kids to teach and there would be less Masters for future generations.

“Pathetic,” he growled, walking passed Sheik, “the lot of you. You’re standing up right, but you look nothing like I expected. Greatest class in the year? I’ll be the judge of that. Get in pairs. We will be sparring to see who qualifies for what, and how well you have done from the basic teachings your parents taught you!” he bellowed, making all of them but Sheik scramble to find a partner. The Master Guard noticed this and walked over to Sheik, towering over him. “Did you not hear me?”

“I heard you, but the others all stay away from me,” he said indifferently, not intimidated by the Master.

“Care to share why?”

“I broke one of their arms when they insulted my cousin.”

Whoa, what got you so ticked?

I’m protective of the people I care about, even back then I held that close to me. The boy whose arm I broke called Sonja a dirty dog to her face then punched her. If a Sheikah had any honour at all, they would know you couldn’t pick a fight with older students, and older students who picked a fight with a younger student who didn’t know how to defend themselves was declared a disgrace. Sonja, knowing this, did nothing. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t. The guy wasn’t out of a sling for two weeks after that.

Nice.

Anyway, that aside…

The Master Guard raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing what Sheik claimed. “You are protective.”

“My father told me to take care of my family before he died,” Sheik said, his eyes a bit misty at the thought of his father.

“You’re father?” Master Guard asked, giving Sheik a closer look. “So, you are…?”

“Yes,” he nodded, knowing what the Master was going to say.

“I see. Don’t expect to get any special treatment.”

“I never did.”

The Master Guard smirked. “You’ll be paired up with that girl,” he pointed to a girl with midnight black hair and rose red eyes. “She’ll be a good challenge for you.”

Sheik walked over to the girl, she was kicking a wall and wasn’t even wincing. She noticed Sheik and turned, ready to kick him if she had to. “Who’re you?” she asked.

“My name is Sheik. The Master Guard told me to fight you,” he answered, bowing to the other Sheikah. She smiled happily.

“Really? The Master Guard never lets anyone fight me! He says they’re too weak!” she was practically bouncing before she regained her composure and bowed back at Sheik. “I’m Rosalie!”

So she actually was pleasant as a kid?

Yes, surprising, I know.

What happened? She acts like something crawled up her ares and died.

Pahahaha!

What’s so funny?

N-nothing. Sonja said the same thing.

Sheik and Rosalie stood on two different sides of the small area that had a white powder surrounding them, both in fighting stances that are basic for beginners who are more experienced. On quick, quiet feet, they both run forward, jumping out of the way of their opponent as they both try to jab the other in the ribs. They spun to face the other, focusing on nothing but the fight, everything else vanished as they continued to spar. Sheik kicked low, but Rosalie jumped over his leg and flipped over his head, landing behind him and kicking his back. He regained his footing and kicked back, hitting Rosalie in the stomach and making her double over. Sheik used this to his advantage and got her into a headlock, and soon, the Sheikah fight turned into a wrestling match.

After the dust cloud cleared, Sheik and Rosalie were both lying on the ground, out of breath and trying to pull their white Sheikah jumpsuits off their skin. Rosalie turned her head, smiling more brightly than ever. “That was great! No body’s been able to keep me going for so long and give me a run for my Rupees!”

“Glad to be of service,” Sheik gave a small smile, feeling proud. They stand up and put left hands into fists into their right palm, bowing at their wastes to show their respect.

That’s cool. You gotta show me some of your customs. They actually seem interesting.

I’ll need to teach you hand-to-hand combat as well. You might not always have a weapon with you.

After they straightened, they saw the Master Guard coming over with a reasonably young man, who looked like he was in his late twenties/early thirties with brown hair and black eyes. He wore a high-ranked, black Sheikah garb and the two stood straight, wondering why such a high official would be coming over. “This is the boy that said he broke that one kid’s arm. Boy, this man wants to speak with you. And Rosalie, I think we have a Master for you,” the young girl smiled and bowed to the Guard before following him.

The newcomer looked down at Sheik, smiling as the young boy bowed to him. “Hello there, lad. What’s your name?”

“Sheik.”

“I see. So you are the Duke’s son.”

Wait, what?

What?

You’re the Duke’s son? What Duke?

Before Osamu took over, this place used to have an alliance with Zelda’s father, Daphnes. My father was the Duke and was held with high respect.

Wow, what happened?

I’ll explain later.

Sheik nodded, the man smiled. “I saw your skills when fighting Rosalie. And I can tell you have a long way before you can improve enough to be at a high level, perhaps a high Blue ranking or even a Black,” the man bowed. “My name is Hitoshi, you may call me Master Hitoshi if would like to be my apprentice.”

I was honoured. No Sheikah child had gotten a Master so quickly before, and at such a young age. I had heard of Master Hitoshi before, he was one of the most famous Sheikah Masters of all time. And he was offering me to be his apprentice! It was like a dream come true for me. That night, the real training started.

Sheik hit the dummy with the hardest kicks he could muster, irritated. He thought he’d be learning how to jump from building to building! This wasn’t training!

“You must build up your stamina,” Master Hitoshi said, watching Sheik carefully. “Sheikah are known, not for our strength, but for our quick, quiet feet and ability to keep going forever. We can cross an entire Province in a day at a running pace if we train hard and long enough. But you have a long way to go before you can get to that level. You are only a White Rank Sheikah at the moment, so we must start from the things you already know and improve them enough so we can move on to the next lesson.”

Sheik frowned, not fully understanding. “But I thought I’d be learning jump kicks! I’ve been doing this stuff since I was four!”

“Yes, but even a Master Craftsmen can make a mistake. Sheikah can’t afford to make mistakes while fighting, since we use close-range weapons and occasionally the Chain-Whip for long-range offensive tactics,” Sheik’s eyes shone at the word ‘Chain-Whip’. That was his dream weapon. “To achieve your dreams and goals, you must start from the lowest level and build up. Never rush into battle, or into something you don’t fully know or understand, and try to never let your guard down. Any stranger could be a potential threat, so you must stay on your toes and be able to flee or fight at a moment’s notice.”

“Yes, Master,” Sheik sighed, going back to kicking the dummy.

By the next week, Sheik was starting to get tired and annoyed. He’s been doing the same thing this whole time! Kicking a dummy wasn’t exciting, it was boring! He couldn’t believe that the man he was apprenticed to could be a Master. He didn’t teach anything

“Sheik, notice the dummy!” Master Hitoshi cut through his thoughts and Sheik let his guard down, the dummy coming back and knocking him over. Master Hitoshi stood there as Sheik picked himself up, covered in dust, sweat and a few bruises from the few times that had happened. “That is why you must never let your guard down. The most dangerous things are the things you don’t expect.”

“Master Hitoshi, I’ve been at this for a week now! What has this got to do with my training?” Sheik asked, stamping his foot into the ground childishly.

Geez, temper-tantrum much?

Oh be quiet, I was seven. Where you much better?

I started my sword training when I was seven too, Rusl taught me basics and I was just thinking of all the cool sword techniques he showed me. That was motivation enough for me to keep at my training, even when I repeated the same stances and swings day after day after day after day. Of course, I would usually sleep until noon then pass out after training, so it felt like a long time.

Holy crap, do you even use those basic sword moves?

Yep, I even used a simple forward slash on Ganondork, he expected me to be fancy with my sword, so I was as unfancy as unfancy could ever get, which threw him off guard. I love messing with people like that, it’s hilarious.

You’re so weird.

Thank you!

“Have you even been paying attention this past week?” Master Hitoshi asked calmly, not raising his voice like most would expect him to do. “Look at how much you’ve improved,” he motioned to the dummy and Sheik turned, blinking at what he saw. The dummy, which had seemed perfectly unharmed only eight hours ago, had its arms unstitching enough to see the straw coming out, one of the legs was starting to tear off, and the chest was battered, dented and caving in in some spots. “Could you do that before?” Sheik turned to his Master, who was smiling knowingly.

“…No,” Sheik said, looking back at the dummy.

“Sheik, believe me, when I was a young’un I was just like you. Wanting to be the best of the other apprentices, wanting to beat all of them in everything I did, and I was very impatient. I even lost my own Master because he gave up on me. That day I learned that I had to be patient, I had to if I wanted to be the best Master in the history of Sheikah. I eventually found a different Master and trained harder than I ever could before. Look at where I am now, training a prodigy.”

Wow, not very often a prodigy comes along.

Tell me about it.

Wait, if you’re a prodigy, then why are you only a Blue Rank? Wouldn’t you be higher?

It will be explained.

Sheik didn’t believe what Hitoshi was saying for a moment. A prodigy? Him? No way, Hitoshi was pulling his leg. He couldn’t possibly be a prodigy, those came around only once in a full Sheikah lifetime. Hitoshi could sense what Sheik was thinking, and crouched to look up at him. “Sheik, I could tell from the way you fought that girl that you are very skilled. You understand how you move, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and you can point out the flaws in your opponent’s fighting style. Those abilities are not easy to come by, and take a time to develop. Like I said before, you are only a White Rank, but that doesn’t mean you will forever be one. Now, let’s get back to work,” Hitoshi stood, a small spark in his eye. “We have a long way to go before you achieve your goals.”

For the next few years after that, I trained in the Sheikah Dojo with other teachers, learning other fighting styles with the other students, learning History, learning how to read Ancient Hylian, and learning everything I could about other races and monsters that lived in Hyrule. Outside of those classes, I would practice under Master Hitoshi with Sonja, who had been accepted by him two years after me. I was nine when everything finally started to get more advanced.

Sheik ran at the dummy, he was low to the ground as he zeroed in on the heap of stone. When he was a meter away, he spun and kicked back, sending the head off of the rock dummy that he had advanced to. It shattered on the ground like glass and Sheik smirked as he lowered his leg, his face red from that day’s practice. He heard clapping and turned to Master Hitoshi, who was smiling happily. “Very well done, Sheik!” Hitoshi walked up to him and Sheik bowed at him. “You’ve improved a lot over the last few years. I do believe you’re ready to move onto the Red Rank,” Hitoshi put a hand on his chin, pretending to ponder it as he looked at Sheik’s face, seeing the eagerness and determination. “I’ll talk to Osamu about it later. Let’s have something to eat,” his Master put a hand on Sheik’s back and they walked to the Sheikah Training Barracks.

As they ate, Sheik needed to ask something that had been on his mind for half a year now. “Master, how come you said I was a prodigy, but I’m only getting to the Red Rank now? Sonja only just joined and she’s already at the Blue Rank.”

Hitoshi sighed, he had known Sheik would ask that. “I am not sure myself, Sheik. I talked to Osamu about it, but he seemed to want to keep you back for as long as he could, when he made Sonja advance.”

“Well, he is-” Sheik was interrupted by the feeling of being watched and he stood up and turned, reaching for his newly acquired throwing knives to see Rosalie standing there, smiling brightly.

“I was wondering when you’d notice me, rival!” she said.

Rivals, huh?

Yeah, when we started training, we were always at the same level, and would always be paired for fighting. We soon saw each other as friendly rivals, always trying to best the other while helping the other grow in their skills.

That’s nice. I still wanna know what got up her ares.

Trust me, so does everyone else.

“I’ve been standing here for five minutes!” she sat down beside Sheik and stole an apple off his plate. “Still an Orange Rank?”

“Not for long. I’ll be a Red Rank tomorrow.”

“Finally, you’ll be at my level again!”

I thought you said you were at the same level.

We were. Well, actually I was slightly higher than her, but the teachers advanced her before me and focused more on her for some reason.

Ew, favoritism. That’s not good for a kid’s self-esteem.

Yeah, I abandoned the thought of me being a prodigy the day she became a Grey Rank and I was still a Red.

That’s mean. Whoever’s in charge of the Ranking System needs to get sacked.

Sadly it’s Osamu.

Oh, right. Rosaliar kept calling him Master.

Rosaliar?

Did you expect me not to give her a fitting nickname?

Honestly, I’m not surprised at all.

“Yes, if your Master allows it.”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

“He hasn’t allowed me to move up since I became an Orange Rank a year ago. You’re already at your Blue Rank.”

“So is Sonja. Now that I think about it, it is weird that me and your cousin are higher than you, it’s obvious to everyone you should be at our level, if not higher,” Rosalie said thoughtfully.

“Yes, it’s very odd. Osamu is usually good with those things. I must get going, Sheik. I need to visit Hyrule Castle Town to see an old friend of mine.”

“Alright, Master,” Sheik nodded and Hitoshi left.

“I need to go too, Master said he’s teaching me to learn mind reading!” Rosalie ran out and Sheik sighed, putting his head on his arms.

It wasn’t fair. Why did Osamu seem to hate him? Whenever he spoke to the Duke, he would be short and angry at him for no reason. It was like he was holding something against Sheik. Then he remembered the Hylian family he and his father had been friends with. They had had their own kid who was only a half a year old when their house caught fire.

Oh man, where they okay?

Sadly no. I don’t remember much about them, I was close to turning three at the time, but from what I was told my Sonja, she said that the man and woman didn’t survive. No one knows what happened to the baby. They assume she died too, but no one knows for sure. When I ask Master Hitoshi, he always has a haunted look in his eye and doesn’t say anything. I think he knows, but I’ve never known why he’s keeping it quiet.

Why did the house burn?

Master suspects it was Osamu. If you couldn’t tell by the way people have treated you, Osamu is very discriminative towards Hylians. He says that a Hylian man killed his entire family and that he’s out for revenge.

So, just because of one ares hole, Osamu wants to make sure my people are extinct?

I don’t think that’s the full story. You’d have to ask someone else.

Osamu had never liked Hylians for some reason, so maybe he was angry at Sheik’s father for being close to a poor couple that lived in the forest on the other side of the desert. Sheik’s father had given them some Rupees to keep them on their feet and to take care of their baby, maybe Osamu didn’t like that family. But even so, how was that a reason to hate Sheik? He didn’t even remember that family very much. All he could remember, slightly, was the baby girl they had, nothing more.

“Pst, Sheik!” the sun-blonde boy turned his head to the window to see his friend standing there, a smile on his face. “Are you free?”

“Naoko, what are you doing? You can’t be in here,” Sheik said, going over to the window.

“Who cares? Come on! I found a great new passage in the Palace!” Naoko waved for him.

Sheik looked behind him and, seeing no one, snuck out of the window. “Okay, but I only have a few hours until classes start.”

“Then let’s hurry!” Naoko said and the two ran, Sheik following beside his slower friend.

They came to the back of the Palace without getting spotted and pushed some loose rocks aside, reviling a darkened, moist tunnel. They went in and blocked the entrance again, waiting a few seconds for their eyes to adjust to the limited light. The two boys followed the tunnel for some time before coming to a slant in the tunnel that lead up, where a small stream of light was shining through the wooden door above them. They opened the door slowly, peeking out to find themselves in the kitchens. Luckily no one was around and they climbed out of the tunnel and placed a few sacks of flour over top to be sure no one finds it. Naoko pulled out a map from his pocket and looked it over before going down the right corridor from the kitchens, his smile slowly growing. After three lefts, five rights and hiding behind tapestries and suits of armour, Naoko eventually led Sheik to a gargoyle that had long ears and its tongue sticking out. “Watch this,” Naoko grabbed the two ears and pulled. The sound of grinding stone could be heard and the wall at the end of the corridor slid out of the way, reviling another dark tunnel. “We might need your fire for this, this is as far as I got before I had to turn back,” he said as they entered. He stepped on a stone slab sticking out of the tunnel’s floor and the wall grinded back into place, as if it had never moved.

“How in Hyrule do you find these things?” Sheik asked, summoning a small ball of fire in his palm.

“I always wonder myself,” the silver-eyed boy shrugged and pulled out a charcoal pencil, placing it on a blank piece of paper he had with him. He started sketching the tunnel as Sheik looked around, it was like the tunnel they used to get into the kitchens, but wider and dry. Sheik noticed that there were about three different tunnels coming off of the main one. “Okay, looks good,” Naoko folded the new map and tucked it in his belt, looking up. “So, which way?”

“Let’s keep going straight, that was we can just turn around and head back if we need to,” Sheik said and they went down the tunnel, Naoko sketching the way on his map and in his mind.

His mind?

Yeah, he had an excellent memory. But over the last few years it’s been getting worse and worse, I think something bad is happening to him.

Sweet Nayru, what’s wrong?

I don’t know. He says that he’s been seeing a doctor the last little while, but nothing’s happened.

Ugh, probably better than the doctor in Castle Town. That old Keese needs to stop being such a grouch. I was very tempted to bite his leg.

What?

It’s not important. You were saying?

As the two ventured further and further down the tunnel, the dimmer and smaller it became until there was only a thin path that made Naoko fall behind Sheik. Rats, mice and small Skulltulas were everywhere, and there was a skeleton of what looked to be a bandit that had found the tunnel, but seemed to have slipped and broken their back or neck. The skeleton had nothing good on it, so the two just continued through the tunnel.

“Wow, this seems to go on forever,” Naoko said as a Skulltula the size of Sheik’s head scuttled past them towards the way they came.

“If we don’t find anything in the next few minutes we should go back,” Sheik said.

“Sounds like a plan. Hey, what’s that up ahead?” there was a bit of light coming out of the tunnel’s roof, in shaped the outline of a square and the two quickened their pace to get there. The tunnel widened where they stood and they had to crouch to not hit their heads on the lowered roof. They pushed the tile up and out of the way silently and stuck their heads out, gaping at where they were. They were behind the throne! “What’s the purpose of this?”

“I guess this tunnel was made so that people could escape if there was an assassin in the palace,” Sheik whispered thoughtfully. They ducked their heads when they heard footsteps and listened in on whoever was talking.

“Osamu,” they heard someone say and they assumed that the person was kneeling.

“Have you found the kid yet?”

“No, whoever took the kid made sure that we couldn’t track it down. We’ve searched all of Hyrule, from Snowpeak in the north to that poor village in the south, it’s nowhere to be found.”

“We must kill it. If we let any of their kind live, it could be the end of us. Even if it’s only one kid, that makes a big difference. The thing could find a half-blood, and the probability of that happening is very high. Some half-bloods are hiding in Castle Town, and we have some of their locations.”

“Can’t we just go and kill ‘em?”

“No. The King will suspect us if we try. No go search for that creature,” Osamu spat.

“Yes, Osamu.”

Sheik and Naoko looked at each other. What was Osamu talking about? What creature? Was it dangerous? Was it even important? Whatever it was, it probably couldn’t affect them at all.

You so just jinxed that.

It never has, so it’s not a jinx.

What if you’ve met this creature they’re talking about already? You’ve probably talked to it without knowing. Who knows? You might even been traveling with it at one point.

Hmm.

What is it?

Nothing…it’s…nothing.

And you call me a bad liar.

Not wanting to get caught behind the throne, they closed it up and started to head back to the entrance, talking about what they had overheard. “Osamu’s looking for something, but what could it be?” Naoko wondered.

“Maybe a thief who stole from him or something. Whoever it is, they’ll probably be dead by next week, knowing Osamu,” said Sheik. They made it out of the tunnel and closed it behind themselves, Osamu’s words echoing through their minds.

But what happened between Osamu and the servant didn’t matter, because a few hours later, Sheik was moved to the Red Rank of his studies. He didn’t even care if it took him so long, he was so close to getting to have his dream weapon. Once you hit the Blue Rank, you got to choose the weapon that you wanted to make your own. Most Sheikah students got daggers, or enchanted bows that never ran out of arrows, but Sheik had always wanted the chain-whip, since it was the weapon his own father used the most, and he wanted to be closer to him.

So that’s why you always have that with you.

Yes.

Do you remember much about your dad? What happened to him?

He got sick when I was six, a year before I started training. His symptoms were close to the ones you had when you were poisoned the other-

Sheik? What’s wrong? You look like a Poe.

My father was poisoned. He had the exact same symptoms you had. Someone must have poisoned him, and since no one was around but me and Sonja, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

That must have been scary.

It was. I was terrified.

Where you okay?

Not for a while, I got lazy and just sat around at Sonja’s house, since I had no one else to live with.

What about your mom?

She…died when I was born.

Oh, sorry for bringing it up.

I don’t blame you.

He stood in line with two other students, who were moving into the Red Rank with him. Both of them were boys and looked more physically strong than Sheik, but he didn’t care, he was just happy to finally make it to the Red Rank.

That night, he sat with Sonja at her home. She didn’t take the classes with the teachers, since she was excelling passed everybody he knew. She only got taught by Master and she was already in the Blue-going-on-Grey Rank. Her weapon of choice was a double headed spear, which was strapped onto her back wherever she went. “Congrats on making the Red Rank, Sheik. Took Osamu long enough to let you go on.”

“Yeah,” Sheik forked some pig meat, thinking. “Do you know why he hates me so much?”

“No. Whenever I ask him, he says he doesn’t hate you, but that’s an obvious lie. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you have a Connection with a Hylian.”

Sheik dropped his dinner in shock. “What? I don’t have a Connection! And I’ve never met any Hylians!”

“That’s not true. Remember that Hylian family that got killed? You were really close to their baby, from the moment you saw her.”

“I was two, do you expect me to remember that?” Sheik asked, still not believing it. A Connection is a rare thing indeed, it happened only once in every two Sheikah lifetimes, which could last as long as a hundred and twelve years if you were lucky.

Farore’s Spirit, you guys get old!

You shouldn’t talk. Hylians can live to a hundred and fifty, and that’s the normal age.

Oh…That’s kinda sad. What if they don’t fall in love with another Hylian? They’ll have to watch their lover and even their children die before them. That’d be so depressing…

No. When a non-Hylian marries a Hylian, some sort of Blood Magic connects them, giving the non-Hylian and their children the power to live longer. And since Hylians only marry once, it’s not as sad as you would think.

You know more about my people than I do. Wait, if Hylians live up to a hundred and fifty, would that make me a baby at my age now?

Pft, no. The funny thing is, even though you live longer, you age the same as any other person until you turn sixty, when your age slows down and you looked like you’re that age until a hundred and twenty I think, then you start to age again.

Huh…

Sonja had to be pulling Sheik’s leg, she did it so often, it was hard to tell when she was serious about something. A Connection between a Sheikah and a Hylian has never happened before, not even when the Sheikah were just a small Tribe compared to the Hylians. And why would Sheik have any Connection at all? If anybody had a Connection, it would probably be Rosalie.

Sonja smirked knowingly. “You’re so naïve, Sheik,” she said, spooning some food into her mouth. Sheik hated two things, people who treated him like a kid, and when someone called him naïve.

He glared at his cousin, not amused at all. “I am not! I don’t have a Connection, and I never will!”

“Don’t say that, you tend to do the impossible,” she shrugged. “Remember when you levitated that bowl of fruit a few months ago?”

“That was by accident, and I was mad at one of the teachers,” Sheik muttered. “Sonja, can you drop it? I’m just like any other Sheikah. I’m not special.”

Sonja gave Sheik a sad look and sighed, looking out the window to her right. “Never say that Sheik. You’re special in many ways.”

This confused Sheik. When had he ever shown he was any more special than the other students? He’d been held back for so long, for the Rank he was going for, the Blue Rank, he should have been at the Red Rank a year ago. Besides, Osamu’s look just told him all he needed to know, he would never get his chain-whip.

Sheik lay awake in his bed, thinking. What could he do to prove that he could get to the Blue Rank? Maybe he could go and survive in the desert, like Sonja did. Or he could fight against a Blue Rank Sheikah, if he won, he would move up. He liked the sound of the latter. But was he really ready?

“I need to train.”

The next morning, Sonja went into Sheik’s room, he usually slept in when he was thinking hard, but when she entered, she saw that his bed was already empty and the closet was open. She went over to the closet and peeked in to find Sheik’s new Red Rank bodysuit gone. “Oh Goddess,” she muttered, knowing exactly what her younger cousin was doing.

She went outside to the practice court and saw Sheik attacking a dummy with swift punches and kicks, he even used a few throwing knives on dummies on the other side. Sonja sighed and walked over to him, hands behind her head as she casually walked in front of him, just before he was about to throw his next knife. “Stop,” she said shortly.

“I need to train harder if I want to get to the Blue Rank,” Sheik panted, moving around Sonja and attacking the dummy again. “If I can do that, then maybe I can move on faster than last time.”

“Sheik, it’s no use exhausting yourself,” Sonja put a hand on his shoulder and dragged him away. “Now, we have to eat then go help Master with some things.”

Then four years later, when I was thirteen, I was still a Red Rank, and I was almost giving up on ever become a Blue Rank. But…things began to change.

Sheik was sparring against Sonja in an oasis, the day was hot and sticky, and both teens were sweaty and tired from their fight. Master Hitoshi stood by a lone tree, watching them carefully and shouting out tips and advice to the two as they stepped dangerously close to the water. Then with one swift kick, Sonja sent Sheik towards the water, but not before he could grab her ankle and take her with him. They surfaced and gasped, letting themselves cool down in the shaded water. They were laughing when Hitoshi came over and helped them out. “Good job you two, you keep improving,” he smiled as they sat down for the midday meal.

They smiled back proudly, Sheik even puffed out his chest a bit, and hi-fived each other, making Master Hitoshi chuckle. “Master, could we try again?” Sheik asked.

Master Hitoshi sighed. “Sheik, I know how much you want to go on to the Blue Rank, but Osamu and Rosalie still aren’t back yet.”

“They’ve been gone for three years, Master, what are they doing?”

“Well, I heard that Osamu’s trying to get Rosalie to the Silver Rank,” Sheik’s and Sonja’s jaws dropped.

“What? But she’s not nearly that good! I’m better than her!” Sonja protested.

“How come she’s getting the Silver Rank, and I’m still a Red?” Sheik asked himself quietly.

“I know, I know. But Osamu is much more powerful than me, being the Emperor, and he can make his apprentice anyone he wishes, and he can make them the highest Rank of all.”

“That’s just stupid,” Sonja said. “Rosalie isn’t even that good. Sure she’s a high Rank, but that doesn’t mean anything. Look at Sheik! He’s better than all the Blue Ranks!”

Sheik looked down, his cheeks tinged red. “No I’m not…”

“You are right, Sonja. The Ranks don’t even mean much.”

If the Ranks don’t mean much, then why do you have them?

Not now, I think Rosalie might be back if we talk too long.

“They’re just a way to show that you’re learning old Sheikah tricks. But if they’re back by the time we are, I’ll speak to Osamu. Until then, we’ll continue sparring. Get up you two, we will stay here until dark.”

That night, when we got back to the city, I was heading to the mess hall when I passed the training room. I heard a voice and went inside to see what was going on. I was surprised when I saw Rosalie.

Sheik stood there, hardly believing what he was seeing. Rosalie was taller, thinner, more muscular and no longer had that child face she had as a kid. She was at least 5’5”, and had a leaner body than three years ago. “Rosa?” Sheik asked, using her nickname. She tuned and smiled brightly when she saw him before running over and hugging him.

“Sheik! It’s been so long! How are you?” she asked, pulling away and frown when she saw Sheik’s clothes. “You’re…still a Red Rank?”

“Yeah,” he sighed, looking at the floor for a second before back at Rosalie. “It doesn’t matter though. How have you been? My Master said that you’re aiming for the Silver Rank.”

“Yes I am. I was surprised when Master mentioned it, but thrilled at the same time. It’s rare for that to happen!” she let go and stepped back, looking up at Sheik, who was two inches taller. “You’ve grown a lot.”

“So have you.”

“Funny how we both have a growth spurt in the time we don’t see each other. And we’re only thirteen!” she giggled.

“I don’t think we’ve stopped growing either,” said Sheik, his smile still present. He never noticed, but Rosalie’s eyes seemed to have a soft glow to them, and her features were so…beautiful. How come he never noticed before?

“Come on, I’ve got loads to tell you!”

After that, we trained with each other and stayed together whenever we could. The more we were together, the more I noticed how she had changed. It was a good change, and before I knew it, we were fifteen, and it was the week after my birthday that I realized something.

Sheik and Rosalie sat on the rooftops, laughing as they ate some food they stole from the kitchens. “Hey, that one looks like a cat,” Rosalie pointed up at the stars. “See the ears and tail?”

Sheik nodded and spotted something. A shooting star. “Did you make a wish?” Rosalie asked, turning her head to Sheik.

“No, I’d rather work for what I want,” he shook his head.

Rosalie smiled and moved herself so she was leaning into his side and put her head on his shoulder. “I wished for something.”

“Yeah?” Sheik asked, feeling his face get hot.

“Yeah…” she looked up and for the first time, Sheik felt his heart twinge with something, some emotion he’d never really felt before. Rosalie…was the most beautiful girl he had ever met, and would probably ever meet.

Really? So she was…that pretty?

What’s wrong Link? You sound…a little sad.

I-it’s nothing. Really. Go on.

Suddenly, Rosalie kissed the side of Sheik’s face, making both their cheeks turn pink. “I…wished for that,” she whispered, not ashamed of her hot face. “Sheik…I think of you as…more than just a friend.”

The boy smiled, not sure what to make of it, but realized what that twinge was. It was love. Not the family love he feels for Sonja or his Master, but a true love, for someone else. He felt as if butterflies were dancing in his stomach, he was lightheaded, but the feeling was wonderful. Nothing was better than at that moment.

From then on, me and Rosalie were-gulp-lovers. I loved her so much, and I had never felt so happy. It no longer mattered that I had just gotten my Blue Rank as she had Silver, it no longer mattered that she had been unfairly advanced as I was left behind. The only thing that mattered was that we were together, and happy. For two years we would go for walks, talk about the most personal things, and just be together in silence. We still had our classes, we were still being taught by our Masters, and we still had our other friends, but whenever we had a spare moment, we were together. But then…

Sheik was going to the courtroom with Sonja, both of them were wondering what exactly was going on. All they knew was that someone tried to steal from Osamu, and the going-mad man had called some of the Masters to the room. They entered and slipped in beside Master Hitoshi, who was watching the door that led to the dungeons with fearful eyes. Osamu sat on his throne, sitting high and straight as Rosalie stood at his side, anger on her face. Sheik might not have noticed through his love-sickness, but Sonja noticed that over the last few years, Osamu had been corrupting Rosalie, making her hate the things he hated, making her learn the things he did. The Silver Rank Sheikah was dangerous now, and untouchable.

“Bring in the accuser,” Osamu said and the door to the dungeons burst open. Two guards came in, dragging a man behind them. The man was frail-looking, but not old. In fact, he was quite young, maybe just into his mid-thirties, and he was bruised, scarred and burned all over. Sheik’s eyes widened when he saw the man’s ears. He was Hylian.

Oh no, Sheik exchanged glances with Sonja, who looked stone-faced, but he could tell she was thinking the same, since her hand was inching towards her spear.

“State your name,” Osamu said as the Hylian was forced to kneel in front of him.

“Charlie,” the Hylian said, his voice was weak and shaky. How long had they kept him in the cell?

“Why did you steal?”

“I swear I didn’t. I was looking for some help. You see, I wanted to keep a promise to some my sister and brother-in-law who died fourteen and a half years ago, to find their kid, and I needed help. But I accidently knocked over a vase, and was caught by these nice gentleman,” he said the last bit sarcastically. Sheik couldn’t help but smirk at the man’s humour.

“I was told you were trying to steal,” Osamu said. Sheik noted that he was gaining some grey hairs and wrinkles.

“Then whoever told you was lying. I would never steal, even at the worst of times,” Charlie bowed his head low. “But I will take any punishment you give me. I am a humble man, and I will take anything you throw at me with honour. I did trespass into your castle undetected after all. Oh, and I would highly suggest you get better guards,” he added as an afterthought. “A ten-year-old could probably get passed them.”

Osamu’s eyes blazed and Sheik gulped. The Emperor didn’t believe Charlie. “Charlie the Hylian, you’re punishment will not be light. Take this man to the torture chamber,” the men seized Charlie, the man didn’t even try to put up a fight. “Then once that is done, you will become a personal slave of mine. You will do anything and everything I tell you.”

“Yes, soon-to-be-Master,” Charlie nodded. Sheik looked at Master Hitoshi, the man looked torn in two, he looked as if he wanted to go in and get Charlie out of there, but the other half knew what that would mean. Charlie looked up and locked eyes with Master Hitoshi. Sheik watched the exchange, Master Hitoshi must have read something in Charlie’s eyes, since he nodded, when Sheik looked back at Charlie, he saw that the man was smiling, looking as if he was ten years younger. “Thank you, old friend,” he whispered, but Sheik heard him.

He looked at his Master, raising an eyebrow. “You know that man?” he asked. Master Hitoshi looked at him, nodding grimly.

“Yes. I haven’t seen him in many years. Come along, you two, we have training to do,” Hitoshi left with Sonja, but Sheik looked back at Charlie, who was being dragged back into the dungeons. Without thinking, he followed behind them silently, he couldn’t let that man get hurt. He felt as if he had met him.

He came to the cell with Charlie sitting in it, his arms chained above his head. Sheik held the cell bars in his hands and rattled them, making Charlie look up. Now that Sheik got a good look at his face, he saw that the man had dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. “Well, if it isn’t you. I haven’t seen you since I saw my niece last,” he chuckled, a strange warmth in his eyes.

“You know me?”

“Yes, you were a toddler last time I saw you. I remember the photos I took of you and my niece, you were probably the only one who could keep her in place other than my sister,” Charlie laughed.

Sheik ignored this and said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you.”

“It’s alright, kid. I’ll survive.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Stop being such a pessimist,” he teased, grinning. “Now get outta here. If someone finds you, you’ll get into a lot of trouble.”

That night, Sheik was passing by Osamu’s quarters when he heard shouting. He pressed his ear against the door. “Another stupid Hylian! If any more come here, then I’m going to have to start thinking of new methods to get rid of them!” Osamu yelled.

“Master, calm down,” Rosalie’s voice surprised Sheik. “Those creatures need to be stopped. I think it would be best to just get rid of the old and weak ones. Let them rot in the Desert Chamber and then we’ll have more room.”

Sheik suppressed a gasp. The Desert Chamber was the cruelest way to execute someone, they were left in a scorching hot room with only a roof that closed up at night and radiated heat. People died of hydration, heat stroke, illness, you name it. And it usually took three days at most for them to start dropping like flies. It was horrid, how Rosalie could suggest that people go in there was beyond Sheik. He thought she scared about people.

“Excellent idea, Rosalie,” Osamu said. He was probably smiling madly. “We will wipe out those Hylians that way. All the worthless ones will be dead by the end of the weak.”

Oh my Goddesses, that’s horrible! How could someone be so heartless?!

I don’t know Link, I really don’t.

Sheik had to be hearing things. There was no way that Rosalie would kill someone who didn’t deserve it. Most of the Hylians in the cells were just trespassers, and would be let out in a few months. What was the point in killing them? But he had to be sure, he would ask Rosalie later that night about it.

Sheik paced the room, waiting for his girlfriend. He had told her to meet him there at ten, but she wasn’t there yet. What was keeping her? She was never late. The door opened and she walked in, smiling at Sheik. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Master and I were getting something ready for tomorrow.”

“What would that be?”

“Well, you know how the cells are getting cluttered with those Hylians?” It looked like Sheik didn’t need to worry, she was going to tell him anyway. “Well, we’re setting up the Desert Chamber to get rid of them.”

“Why? I thought you cared for people.”

“I care for people, but Hylians aren’t people. They’re just an abomination.”

Your face is an abomination!

Link shut up, this is serious.

Sheik was very confused right now. “Why do you think that?”

“They killed Master’s family,” Rosalie said shortly.

“That’s a lie.”

“Hm? Oh, right, you and Sonja-”

“Exactly. Besides, you’ve never wished for someone to die.”

“That was before I saw that Charlie man today. He had the look of a joking liar.”

“No, he took what he got without complaint. The first person to ever do that,” Sheik turned away, sighing sadly. “I thought you were different Rosa. When I heard you and Osamu talking about the Desert Chamber, I didn’t want to believe it.”

“You eavesdropped?” she asked, it was very out of character for Sheik. “That was privet! Oh well, it’s not like you’re going to go against the Emperor.”

“The moment I accept that man as my ruler is the moment he accepts me as his nephew.”

Does he have a kid?

Yes. Sadly, that man is Sonja’s dad.

But Sonja doesn’t look anything like him!

Sonja looks like her mom. But that doesn’t matter. What I’m going to tell you next is possibly the most serious thing I could ever say. Please don’t interrupt.

You have my word.

“Rosalie, I need to stop him from killing those innocent people.”

“The only way to do that is to fight him.”

“I know, but it’s I’ll take that risk,” Sheik turned back to Rosalie and blinked when he saw hatred in her eyes, hatred turned to him.

“You know, Sheik, Master won’t be happy if he finds out you eavesdropped on him,” she said, her voice dangerously calm.

“I didn’t eavesdrop,” Sheik said. “I was passing by when he yelled it out.”

“You know you’ll lose, you aren’t brave nor strong enough to take him on.”

“That doesn’t matter. I’m going to take him on and free them!”

“Then I have no choice…Goodnight, Sheiky,” then she was behind him before he could react and knocked him to the floor.

Sheik woke some time later to the frantic voice of Sonja as she shook him. He opened his eyes to see her face and she leaned back, sighing with relief. “Good, you’re awake. I was worried Rosalie hurt you more than I thought.”

“What happened? Where’s Rosalie?” Sheik groaned, sitting up from the bed he was resting on.

“Rosalie told her version of what happened, saying that you were thinking of challenging Osamu because you wanted the throne, and everyone but the people who know you the best believed her.”

“What?! I was going to challenge him to free some Hylians he’s going to send to the Desert Chamber!” Sheik yelled. Sonja’s eyes widened. “Osamu’s going to send all the ‘weak’ and old people into the chamber, because the cells are ‘too crowded’. I overheard him talking to Rosa-lie,” Sheik added the last part.

“I thought she lied, but I had no idea they’re going to send so many people into the Chamber,” Sonja said, sitting on the bed. “We need to tell Master, maybe he can help.”

The doors suddenly opened and two guards came in, followed by the head guard, Ryuu. That couldn’t be good. “Sheik, we have been informed that you want to challenge Osamu?”

“Only to free those Hylians,” Sheik said, standing up and ignoring the pain in the back of his head.

“Why do you want to free those creatures?” Ryuu asked.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Sheik asked.

“Because they’re filthy vermin, now come along, I’m not making your punishment after all,” he started walking, and for a few seconds Sheik didn’t move, his feet felt like they were weighed down by solid stone blocks. How could Rosalie lie and betray him like this? He though she cared about him. “Coming?” shaken out of his thoughts, Sheik reluctantly followed, Sonja right beside him. She was deathly pale.

Sheik stood in front of Osamu and Rosalie, in the same spot Charlie had been in earlier that day. Osamu was looking him up and down while Rosalie gave him a smug grin, as if this is what she had planned all along. “Sheik, Rosalie told me you wanted to fight for my throne,” he wanted to protest, to say that that wasn’t true, but Rosalie’s word was taken into more account, considering she was a Silver and he was a Blue Rank. “Not only that, but you want me to let those creatures go? Those creatures, those things, killed my father, and I will take whatever revenge I like. And if anyone wants to stop me or get in my way, they will be punished, no matter if they are my family or not,” Osamu locked eyes with Sheik as the Sheikah teachers entered the room as well, some with grim faces, a fair few with torn expressions, but the majority were smiling cruelly at Sheik, happy about whatever punishment he was about to receive. “Sheik, you are banished from this Tribe.”

The blood drained from Sheik’s face and he felt like he had been petrified and slapped in the face at the same time. To be banished for such a stupid thing, to be banished at all, was horrible. If a Sheikah was banished by the Tribe leader, then it’s the biggest disgrace one can get. Sheik fought to keep his legs from shaking. “You’re banishing me?! For wanting to save innocent people!”

“Those things aren’t people!” Osamu rose from his seat, venom dripping from each word.

Sheik clenched his fists, thinking of the many lives that were about to be taken, just because of what they are. That wasn’t fair. That wasn’t fair at all. “Osamu, let them go,” Sheik said, trying to keep his voice from faltering.

“Why should I? I’m the Emperor after all, and your uncle.”

“You’ll never be part of my family!” Sheik yelled, blood starting to drip from his nails digging into his palms. “The only family I have are Sonja and Master Hitoshi! You’re nothing but a pathetic abuse of power!” the moment Sheik said it, he regretted it. Now they’ll never let him back.

“As long as I stay on this throne, you are banished from my Tribe,” Osamu said, sitting back down. “You have one hour to leave. If you step foot in this place again, I’ll have the right to punish you much harsher than I have now.”

Sheik gritted his teeth when he felt a hand be placed on his shoulder. He looked to see Sonja. She smiled softly and tugged his arm, silently telling him to come. “But before you go, don’t you want to see those creatures be taken care of? I know a brilliant one to show you,” Sheik turned, scowling and about to tell Osamu off, when the guards brought in a young girl, she couldn’t be much older than thirteen. She looked around fearfully at the many pairs of eyes leering at her, the hidden smirks coming to the surface. “Too bad, you’re staying anyway,” the doors were closed and locked and Sheik found he couldn’t turn away from the girl. Sonja, not able to move either, put an arm around Sheik, shaking slightly.

The girl was tossed in front of Rosalie, who flicked her wrist and sent the girl into the air. The girl screamed and whimpered, but the teachers and few guards laughed as she tried to struggle free of Rosalie’s magical grasp. Suddenly, Rosalie turned her hand and the girl screamed louder as she was held by her hair, dangling above them like a ragdoll. Sheik was finally able to take his eyes away when her ankle was tugged and the sound of ripping flesh filled the room. He could feel his eyes burning when the thud came through the laughter. When he looked, he would never be able to forget that sight, the girl’s decapitated head hung in the air, her body limp on the ground as the head’s eyes were open, tears on the cheeks before the head was dropped and rolled into the shadows. “Go throw her remains into some soup for those Hylians,” Osamu ordered, smirking sadistically. “That should be a good final meal.”

“You are sick in the head!” Sonja yelled, not caring to wipe her tears as Sheik stood there as if he were a statue. “Killing someone, and going to make others eat them? That’s cannibalism! And they won’t even know it! They’ll think its wild boar or something!”

“That’s the idea,” Osamu said, shrugging. “Well, who’s hungry?” he asked, the guards left as did the teachers, who casted a long glare at the stunned Sheik.

“Come on, Sheik, let’s go fine Master, we need to get out of here,” Sonja murmured through gasps of breath, jerking Sheik to make him come out of his daze. He should have done something to save that poor girl! He hated feeling so helpless!

“Sonja, if you leave with him, I can no longer call you my daughter,” Osamu said, smiling as if he thought she would take his side.

“I haven’t been your daughter for many years, Osamu,” Sonja said back before leading Sheik out of the courtroom with her arm around him. “It’s going to be okay Sheik, who needs these snobs anyway?” she tried to cheer him up.

Sheik didn’t even hear her, his thoughts were too far gone. That poor, poor girl. Those poor Hylians. They’ll unknowingly eat one of their own, they’re probably all starving, and then they’ll be sent into the Chamber, one of the most brutal of tortures and finally death. Sonja led him out, in her own sort of daze, except her’s was in goal of getting her younger cousin out of there before anything could happen to him. “Master will help us, he’ll know we’re truthful with our words,” she kept whispering, as if praying that their Master wouldn’t turn his back on them like the teachers had.

They came to Master Hitoshi’s house and Sonja knocked. It didn’t take long for the man to come to the door, and one look at the two told him all he needed to know. “When do we go?” he asked.

“Now,” Sonja said sadly. They snuck into the stables, got their horses, and took off before the news spread. Sheik was banished from the Sheikah Tribe, and he was left with nothing but the clothes on his back, his cousin and Master, the last weapon of his father’s, and the memories of Rosalie’s lies and betrayal. All three turned in their saddles to look at their old home, all sad for leaving. Sheik didn’t even get to tell Naoko.

“I’ll go back in a week, saying I was just getting supplies. I will retire from being a Master and keep an eye on Osamu for you two,” Master Hitoshi said as they traveled on through the night. “And I’ll report any news that he tells. I can only hope he doesn’t banish me as well.”

“He won’t, if Osamu banishes one of the greatest Masters in Sheikah history, then even the high council will protest. He can strip you of your Rank, but he can’t actually kick you out,” Sonja explained before turning to Sheik. “But what do you think got up Rosalie’s ass and died?”

Sheik sighed, feeling as if someone had just ripped his heart in two. He didn’t think that when people say they have their heart broken, that they meant it felt like a real pain. “I…don’t know. I…I thought…” Sheik trailed off, looking up at the stars. “What did I do wrong?”

“Don’t blame yourself, Sheik, you could never stand up to Osamu, he has too many people on his side,” Master Hitoshi said. “All we can do is wait it out for the right time, and hope he doesn’t kill anymore Hylians.”

“How can we possibly wait it out?” Sheik asked, suddenly feeling enraged.

“We will have to wait for help from a certain person, but I don’t think they are ready for what’s ahead of them yet,” Master Hitoshi said, looking back at the Palace. “I’ll do as you wish, old friend, I will try to protect her.”

“Protect who, Master?” Sonja asked.

He looked at Sonja, who still had puffy red eyes and tears staining her face, then to Sheik, who was so deep in thought and anger that he was reopening some cuts on his hands. “You’ll find out someday. Let’s go, we need to get out of the desert by daybreak.”

“And after that, we lived off what we could. We traveled and never stayed in the same place more than a few days at most, and only once did we ever stay in one place. It feels like it was so long ago, but really, it was only two-almost three-years since all that happened,” Sheik finishes, staring at the stone wall in front of him.

Link is looking at the ground, feeling her eyes burning. Sheik didn’t deserve to go what he went through. ‘...I’m really sorry for asking…but did those Hylians really die?’ her thoughts are quitter than normal.

Sheik looks over his shoulder at her and sees she’s crying. “Sadly yes, Master told me and Sonja that Osamu went through with his word. Those people died in the Chamber.” Link nods. “Link…do you hate me?” she looks at him in shock. “I was so powerless against Osamu, I didn’t even get a chance to stop Rosalie from killing that girl. My people hate you, just because of what race you are, and I hate myself for being part of them.”

He forces himself to look away from those tear-filled, ocean blue eyes and lets his head fall before closing his eyes. He suddenly feels something small, scratched and soft in his hand and looks down to see Link’s hand intertwined with his, the Triforce feels warm as he traces his thumb on the back of her hand as he looks up at her face. She’s smiling sadly, but there’s still that warm, happy, innocent glint in her eyes. ‘I could never hate you,’ she thinks, making Sheik smile. ‘And Rosaliar is a horrible person for ever hurting you, she doesn’t know that she’s missing out on such a great guy.’

“I’m not that great,” Sheik muttered, not taking his eyes off of hers.

‘Sheik, you’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known,’ she thinks sincerely. ‘And Rosaliar, or anyone who’s ever hurt you, isn’t worth thinking about.’

“I would think Rusl would be the most amazing man you’d ever know,” Sheik jokes.

‘He’s the most amazing father-figure,’ Link smiles, happy to see Sheik not thinking about his past as much. ‘Sheik…what’s gunna happen now?’

Sheik sighs, his eyes flicking towards the door. “Rosalie will come back, to see if I’m ready to ‘apologize’ to Osamu. But I’m not going to leave you again.”

‘But Sheik, that might be the only way to get out of here,’ Link thinks, swinging her legs in her chair (the chairs are a bit tall for her), and tightening her hold on his hand. ‘Even if I suffer a little longer, maybe that will give you enough time to think of something.’

“How could I leave you?” Sheik asks, tightening his own hand. “Rosalie will be even harsher towards you now.”

‘This is our only chance. I know you’ll hate it, but you need to ‘forgive’ Osamu. Sorry,’ Link looks down, letting her hand go limp so Sheik can let go. To her surprise, he holds her hand even tighter, but it’s not a hard hold, it’s like their hands were made for each other. No! Stop thinking that, Link. You’re good friends! That’s all!

…Right?

Sheik sighs, he knows Link’s right, that’s why it’s going to be that much harder to leave her. They turn their heads at the same time and look at each other’s face, noticing some things neither had spotted before. Link notices that Sheik has more ruby red eyes, instead of the deep crimson colour of when they first met, maybe his eyes change slightly according to who he’s with. She also notes that he has a few, light freckles on his nose and forehead, but they’re hard to see. Sheik sees, from behind Link’s black eye and sunburn, that her eyes have a light, purple tinge to them when the light shines on them, and he sees that her eyes are deeper blue than he first thought, but somehow they’re surprisingly light, with childish wonder and curiosity, but also with a fierce fire and warrior’s spirit. It is also worth noticing that her bangs are starting to fall into her eyes, giving her a cute, rugged look.

“You know, I never noticed before, but you have got to be the most beautiful young woman I have ever met,” Sheik says without thinking, making Link blush the deepest shade of red imaginable.

‘R-really? You think I’m…beautiful?’ she asks, no one has ever called her that before. Uli has, but that was different. The way Sheik says it, it makes Link feel…more than just the family love she has for Rusl, Uli and Ilia.

“Absolutely,” Sheik nods, now thinking, but backing up what he said. He doesn’t feel afraid to admit it anymore.

‘What about Rosaliar from the past?’

“She became an ugly kid the moment I heard her suggest using the Chamber,” Sheik mutters.

‘Right…’ she thinks. They stare into each other’s eyes, although a bit awkwardly, since they’re back-to-back. ‘Hey, have you ever tried speaking with me through mind?’

“What?” the question catches Sheik off guard.

‘You can hear my thoughts, maybe I can hear yours. That way, if we need to be quiet, you can still tell me stuff,’ Link thinks.

Sheik raises an eyebrow to himself. That…is a very smart plan. “Alright, but I’m not sure if it will work. So if it doesn’t, don’t feel disappointed,” he warns.

‘Okay,’ Link nods and waits patiently.

Sheik closes his eyes. How does he hear Link? It’s sort of like hearing the aftermath of an echo, yet at the same time, he can hear the source of the ‘echo’ and can hear what her voice would sound like if she could talk. He focuses, Link can speak telepathically much easier than him, he already knows this, but it will be harder for him, since it’s natural for him to speak.

‘Link?’ he tries, but nothing happens. ‘Can you hear me?’

Hmm, maybe he has to really want to speak to her. He thinks of all they’ve been through, all the happy moments they shared, like when he was nursing her back to health, when they were travelling with each other in the Temple of Jabu-Jabu, when they were fighting those Redeads, when they danced, and the few moments when they hugged. ‘Link?’ her ears perk up and she smiles, unseen by Sheik. ‘Is it working?’

‘Yep!’ Sheik opens his eyes and looks at her.

‘You’re serious?’ he asks.

‘Uh-huh,’ she nods. ‘Now it will be easier to ‘talk’ when people are around!’

Suddenly there’s a squeak and Sheik looks at the top of Link’s head to see a rat poke out of her nest of hair. “Link?”

‘Yeah?’

“Why is there a rat on your head?” she crosses her eyes and looks at her forehead, as if trying to see it, and smiles.

‘This is Rouge, he’s my cell buddy.’

“Cell buddy?”

‘He kept me company after Rosaliar was done with me,’ she explains as Rouge the Rat sniffs the air.

“I hope you’ll be alright once she comes back.”

‘Me too, but I doubt it. She seems to hate me for some reason.’

“I noticed by the way she looked at you, she loathes you. I think she’s…jealous of you for something.”

‘Who’d want to be jealous of me?’

“I wouldn’t know,” Sheik shrugs a little. They hear the sound of keys rattling and Sheik reluctantly lets go of Link’s hand as Rouge hides back into her hair. The door opens and Rosalie walks back in, smirking once more.

“Well? Have you thought about apologizing to your uncle?” she asks, crossing her arms.

“Yes, I have thought long and hard. I want to apologize for my rash diction to challenge him,” Sheik says.

Rosalie smiles, “I knew you would come around. Guards, untie him!” she turns and orders. “He will need to reclaim his rightful place in the Palace. And bring that creature to Master Osamu later, our Emperor wishes to speak to him,” the guards cut the ropes and grab Link as Sheik stands. He casts a last look at her as she’s dragged back into the dungeons. She gives him a small, encouraging smile before the doors slam behind them. “Come along, Sheik. Master Osamu will probably let you move up a Rank even,” Rosalie says and starts walking.

Sheik glances back at the door. Ranks don’t matter anymore, the only thing that matters is getting Link out of here. He felt something when he had talked to Link telepathically, he felt his heart swell with happiness. It is a wonderful feeling. He feels so much closer to Link now that he told her about what happened, he doesn’t feel as angry, since she sat, listened and forgave him for not saving that girl. How she could forgive him that easily, how she could never hate him, it made Sheik lightheaded with relief. Link truly is an amazing person, and Sheik can’t help but smile at the thought of her. She’s no longer just a hero to him, like she had been when they first met, she is just Link. His greatest friend, beside Naoko, and the only person he has ever told his past to. Butterflies swarm his stomach at the thought of Link’s eyes and face, his eyes shine at the thought of her laugh. Sheik’s smile grows, unseen by Rosalie, as his cheeks turn a light shade of red. Heat rises on his face as he looks down, his heart is beating in his chest so loudly, can anyone else hear it? It doesn’t matter if they could, Sheik is finally not scared to admit it anymore; he can’t keep living in denial.

He loves Link.


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