Chapter 1 - Cursed Child
Fallen leaves crunched faintly under the soles of his boots as his weight pressed them into the loamy earth of the infrequently used trail. Traveled by only a scant few besides the local wildlife, the path was uneven and littered with obstacles. However, they posed no threat to the boy who had traversed it time and time again. The blonde ducked under a low branch and skirted around a well-rotted stump of a fallen tree that was more of a termite nest than a tree at this point. His pace quickened as glimpses of carved stone peeked through the canopy.
As Link pushed an overhanging branch out of the way, the Four Sword Sanctuary came into view. Moss and vines intertwined each other across its pale gray stone exterior. A grin lit up his face as he took in the sight of his favorite playground. The twisting paths and archways and overhangs were perfect for adventuring with his friends. Not to mention that the building itself was always cool and airy, a welcome reprieve during the humid summer months.
He waded through the taller grass, some of it coming up to his waist and almost matching the color of his tunic as he headed down the gentle slope towards a side entrance into the grand hall. It was warm out and he still had some time to wait for his friend to finish with her lessons. He knew she was supposed to be in them for quite some time, but she'd already told him she was ditching and to meet here.
Not wanting to wait outside in the sunlight, he slipped through the narrow archway and into the familiar shade of the sanctuary. His long ears picked up the rustle of fabric and footsteps. He perked at that, increasing his pace to a trot as she moved towards the source of the sound. He was a bit surprised she'd play hooky early enough to miss her music lessons, but he wasn't going to complain. As he rounded the corner, the massive, foliage-covered relief of a great eye loomed above him, dappled with sunlight coming in from the upper windows. Centered below the great visage of the monster supposedly sealed away was the sacred sword.
However, the person standing in front of the White Sword was definitely not the Princess of Hyrule. Someone else entirely, garbed in tans and blacks with vibrant, short red hair and dusty skin, was standing in the shrine. Link's eyes narrowed suspiciously. Who in the goddesses' name was this? Whoever he was, he was obviously up to no good.
The young man smirked at the pedestal before him where a moss and grime-covered old sword sword, the blue of its hilt visible under the years of exposure to the elements. Ah yes, he had been told about this blade. A holy relic that was said to keep a demon sealed within this very shrine. A wind sorcerer to be exact. One whose absolute control over its element would be a great boon to the Gerudo tribe. The rains had been increasingly scarce in their territory, the wells lower than he could remember in his twenty some years of life. He had already sought the assistance of the fairy that dwelled at the depths of the Cave of Ordeals, only to find that the fae could not help him with this. Her gift was that of healing, she could not return the rains to his people. However, it was not a fruitless venture. She spoke of a creature locked away in the kingdom of Hyrule that could summon dark storm clouds with a flick of its monstrous black wings.
It took much of his skills and time to finally locate where Vaati, the legendary sorceror of winds was supposedly sealed. His plan was a simple one: Unseal the demon and bring it back to the desert where -after some convincing, which is was still deciding the exact method off, Twinrova would know- he would have the beast finally bring rain back to the parched earth.
He stretched his arm out, holding it a small distance away from the blade before wrapping his calloused fingers around it, gripping it firmly before yanking upwards. The blade held, not budging even a hair's width. The Gerudo prince sighed, having actually expected this. Even with his strength augmented by the faintly glowing triangle on his right hand, the blade could not be freed. "Was worth a shot," he deep voice rumbled softly in the quiet.
The man reached to the large satchel hanging from his hip, withdrawing something wide and flat covered in a worn, silken cloth. He carefully unwound it with his ashen, calloused hands, revealing its simply painted wooden surface; a simply painted face with shadowed golden eyes with long lashes. A mask. Its finish was worn smooth in places from being handled so frequently, or possibly even from weathering the sandstorms of the desert from which it originated. The young Gerudo smirked down at the tool. Although it took the form of a mask, its actual purpose was more like a bag than anything. It was enchanted to carry things; to squirrel away precious valuables while looking like nothing more than an amusing trinket or souvenir itself. However, that was not all. There were a few other subtle charms woven into the wood, all created to aid a thief in their quest. The most useful being a faint suggestion that it wasn't important, to not look at it, that it was beneath the notice of a passerby. If it needed to be discarded and retrieved later, it insured that no one was likely to abscond with it.
Placing the mask on the ground close to the blade, the Gerudo prince took a few steps back from it and cross his arms to wait. And wait. But soon enough, the painted yellow eyes of the mask glowed faintly in the soft gloom, a purple mist slowly, ever so slowly seeping out from around the edges of the stone that held that blade. It was tedious, but effective. If he could not retrieve the demon by removing the sword from its pedestal, he would have to siphon the monster out from around out. Even the best made locks had gaps and mechanisms that could be exploited.
Now he just had to wait until the mask had finished its task and leave before anyone-
The sound of rubble shifting had him drawing twin scimitars instantaneously, spinning towards the source of the noise.
-saw him. Ganon straightened up when he saw a small Hylian boy, garbed in green and messy blonde hair in front of his eyes staring at him, startled.
"I wasn't expecting company…" the desert dweller admitted, "But I expect I won't be any longer," he growled.
Link refused to tremble in fear, eyes locked on the Gerudo trespasser. No doubt he had something malicious planned. As strong as he was, he knew he didn't stand much of a chance against an armed adult empty-handed as he was. If only he had a weapon.
As the thought entered his mind, his eyes darted to the sword gleaming in the dappled light. The intruder followed the line of his gaze, realizing a moment too late what the boy intended. He may have been fast, but Link was faster and was already weaving nimbly past him.
His fingers wrapped around the cobalt hilt, and with the screech of steel against marble, the blade scraped free of its of its earthen sheath. As he freed the legendary sword from the clutches of the stone pedestal, the years of exposure and neglect seemingly fell away, leaving not a rusted piece of ornamental scrap in his left hand, but a gleaming silver blade so bright it appeared as it it were white, the hilt and guard a vibrant ocean blue, a sort of yellow gem encrusted onto either side.
Link stared at the blade in amazement for only a moment before regaining his senses, brandishing the sword across his front and sliding into a defensive stance, blue eyes locked onto the threat in front of him.
Burning ember eyes glared down at the boy. "The sword. How did you-" his gaze was drawn to the golden triangle glowing on the boy's hand. "Hrmph, it seems you also have…"
The crack of splintering wood drew his attention to his discarded tool, the surface of the mask suddenly scarred with a split running across the front of it, a purple mist seeping from the crack.
Ganon's eyes widened in a mixture of panic and realization. The sealing- the boy had interrupted it! Now the monster was being forcefully drawn back out of the mask. He turned towards the boy, brandishing his scimitar and snarling. "YOU FOOLISH CHILD!"
"What's-" Link started, noticing the same substance leaking from the pedestal where his blade rested merely moments ago. What in Farore's name was… A sudden gale force wind nearly forced him off his feet. Oh… Right. He glanced back down at the weapon in his hand: the legendary blade was said to have sealed away a monstrous wind demon.
"Uh… whoops?" was all he managed to squeak out as a massive, menacing red eye materialized in front of him. Crimson locked with cerulean for one long, dreaded moment before a flash of light had Link raising up his arm to cover eyes eyes, which left him vulnerable to the gust of wind that slammed him back against the remnants of a stone pillar.
Link blacked out.
Someone was shaking him. That was the first thing he noticed. The second thing was that everything hurt. A lot. The blond's eyes fluttered open slowly, dark pupils having a hard time focusing on what was in front of him… or rather, above come considering he was flat on his back, the moss-covered ceiling of the Sanctuary above him… and a mess of pink and chestnut.
"Oh thank Nayru! Don't worry Link! I've got you."
His eyes watered as he tried to focus on her blurred face. Rose colored eyes stared down at him worriedly. "Hey… Zel…" he muttered tiredly, a mixture of dizziness and exhaustion overcoming him. He hoped she didn't mind, he could just… really use a nap right now.
The last thing he heard before he lost consciousness again was his best friend screaming for Impa.
Calloused fingers deftly drew the oiled cloth along the blade. His movements were quick and efficient. After tilting the blade in the sunlight coming from the window, he deemed his chore finished and slid the oiled sword back into its sheath before setting it horizontally on the rack against the wall a scant few feet away. The sound of the door creaking open drew his attention to the entryway as the elderly smith made her way back inside.
Her white hair was drawn up in a tight knot at the top of her head to keep it out of the way, and a heavy leather apron and tool belt covered up a chunk of her sagey green blouse and earthy brown breeches. Grandma Smith drew a towel across her forehead, mopping up the sweat that collected there from toiling over the hot metal for the past hour. She replaced it into her apron as she came closer to look over the boy's handiwork. "Mm, you got all of them done already? Color me impressed."
The boy cracked a small smile. "Well, what did you expect, I'm just that amazing."
He glanced back up at her, the older woman towering over him despite her age. "I know you're still recovering, but I just finished an order for old Malon. Would you feel up to running it over to her?"
"Oh, the horseshoes, right?" he asked as he replaced the polishing supplies onto the shelf, moving to the nearby tap to wash the grease from his hands.
"Mmhmm," she confirmed. "Good for us she does her own shoeing, especially after that incident with the pony."
The water stopped running and her ward reached for a worn towel, drying up. "The… one you lifted clean off its feet?"
The old woman guffawed, "Aye, that's the one! Mal didn't quite appreciate one of her stock being airborne, but that little bastard didn't give me any fussin' after that!"
"Haha, I bet. Where are the shoes?" His eyes widened momentarily as the satchel came sailing at him. Luckily for him, his reflexes saved him from getting beaned in the face by thirty pounds of iron and canvas as he caught it in mid-air. "Ugh, did you have to do that?" he lamented slightly, slinging the strap over his shoulder.
"Nah, but it keeps you on yer toes!" A rough, but caring slap on the back nearly sent him tumbling forward with the combined weight of Malon's order. "When you're done droppin' that off, why don't you stop by the bakery and pick yourself up something, alright?" Her gloved hands pushed a few rupees into his.
"Now git goin' you. I gotta finish cleaning up."
"'Kay," he said, already halfway out the door. He weaved his way through the combination house and workshop, stopping by the front door to swap out the steel-toed boots he wore while he was working with a pair of sandals. It was plenty warm out and the boots, while they protected him from any sharp and occasionally molten pieces of metal, were a bit ill-fitting.
After readjusting the worn canvas satchel, he made his way outside, sidestepping the worn, dirt path from the cottage in favor of walking in the grass instead. The stone building where the Smithery resided was a small distance from the village proper, and even farther from the Ranch which was clear on the other side. His quick pace slowed as the forested path widened and the stone and wood structures of the village came into view.
His hesitation lasted only a moment before he took a deep breath and continued forward, keeping his eyes forward and slightly downcast. He had been half tempted to cut around the outskirts, but the tattered remnants of his pride, and the fact he wanted to get this errand over and done with had him marching through the center square.
As he passed through, he could hear conversations become quiet and hushed. He nearly bit his lip as at least one worried parent tugged child behind their legs with a glare. Shaking his head, he continued past the fountain and up towards the northeast end, cutting through the small row of shops. The sound of his name being called from a nearby stall momentarily pulled him out of his reverie. The kindly old baker gave him a wave, a friendly, but also pitying smile on his face. "Stopping in today? I've got a batch of creampuffs cooling off"
He slowed his pace, plastering a smile on his face as he shook his head, looking a bit sheepish. "Heh, maybe later! I'm actually on an errand right now."
"Ha, wish my own son was as hard-working as you. Well, can't be helped much. Give my regards to the Smith when you get home, alright?"
"I'll be sure to!" he chirped with a smile before continuing on his path. As he left the view of the Bakery, the smile slowly slid off his face, leaving a rather neutral expression behind. Being charming and charismatic had its benefits but… sometimes it was just exhausting. It certainly wasn't helping his current situation much. The sound of clucking and braying snapped him out of his thoughts. He'd been ruminating so long that he'd barely noticed when he'd actually reached the ranch.
It took him a few moments to try and decipher where the farmhouse was supposed to be located on the property. It took another minute or two for him to get his bearings, spotting the dark shingled roof of the building and picking his way towards it, giving the resident cuccos a wide berth. The house was located close to the stables, actually, which wasn't particularly a good thing for him at this moment.
The boy's arrival had unfortunately caught the attention of one of the more unpleasant stablehands. Dark haired, mustached man started making his way over as soon as he caught sight of the local pariah, holding the pitchfork he was previously using to muck out the stable more like a weapon than the farming implement should be used. "You there! Scram!"
He felt irritation and anxiety rising as he stood there, the man making shooing motions with the oversized fork. "You can't be serious…"
The quick beat of hooves on the packed dirt rapidly approached, a massive russet and white mare charging towards him from across the field.
"Hey there, sugar!" the woman called down to him as the horse almost skid to a stop in front of him, blocking his view of the fuming farmhand. "That wouldn't happen to be for me, would it?"
"Hi, Miss Malon!" He put his hand out and she took it as she dismounted, giving the her equine companion a pat on the neck before turning back to the him.
"Let me take that off your hands. Grandma Smith bein' a slavedriver as usual?" the redhead asked as the young apprentice slipped the strap from across his neck and handed it off to her. She peeked into the bag as the youth rubbed his shoulder where the strap had bitten into it a bit. "Ah, good, she remembered the ones for the clydesdale too."
"Hey," she continued, "I'm about to make some supper. Mind sticking around a bit and lending a hand? I'm sure ol Smith wouldn't mind if I fed you."
"Miss Malon! You can't be serious, that boy-" the farmhand snarled, having made his way around the horse.
He was momentarily silenced by a hard, hazel glare from his employer Inigo, don't you have anything better to do than harass my guest?"
"What will the rest of the villagers think when they see that little dem- Grk!" he choked as the woman's nails dug into his pants..
"Mistah Inigo, I pay you to shovel shit, not for yer opinion; which, mind you, is worth considerably less to me than said shit to me," she said in a surprisingly menacing voice. "Do we have an undahstanding?"
Eyes watering, the man nodded.
"Good. I'm glad we've had this conversation. Now SCRAM." she growled as she gave one last painful squeeze before shoving him away, letting the hired help limp off with the tattered shreds of his dignity. "And if I catch ya waving that pitchfork at any kids again, you're gonna find yourself on the pointy end of it!"
"Sorry about that sugar," Malon said with a soft and almost sad smile. "Now, I remember promising you some supper."
The boy returned the smile, nodding. "I'm certainly not going to turn down a date with such a lovely lady."
Malon stared at him for a moment before breaking out into a wide grin, laughing and slapping him on the back. Not nearly as hard as Grandma Smith but damn that woman didn't know her strength. "Haha, I betcha say that to all old ladies, ya charmer. C'mon now," she chuckled, leading him into the farmhouse.
The sky already had streaks of pink and purple across it by time he left the farmhouse. He took a deep breath, letting it out as a tired, but content sigh. The cooler evening air was a relief after all of the hard work today. "Well, time to head back…" he voiced to himself, glancing down the path back towards home. He bit his lip slightly. The villagers had gotten a bit jumpier at night as of late, and he really rather not get caught by anyone stumbling out of the tavern, as was likely to happen around this time.
As much as he appreciated the Smith putting the hooligan into a headlock and spanking them in front of the entire square, he really would rather avoid another similar situation for the time being. Turning away from the road, he trailed off towards the edge of the woods instead. There was still plenty of light to see by and the Smith didn't exactly enforce a curfew.
The evening breeze rustling through the trees was calming, the faint scent of summer blooms leaving him calm and relaxed. All said, he honestly preferred the solitude to the confusing bustle of the village. The blurring of his memories and jumble of emotions tended to get more intense around other people. When he was alone he could let it slip past like water over a river rock.
A sudden, harsh gust of wind from behind caught him off guard, rustling his clothes and nearly blowing the empty satchel from his pale grip.
The hairs on the back of his neck rose as an icy cold sensation ran up his spine. He swallowed, willing away the anxiety that was quickly bubbling up within him. He didn't need to turn around to see the wispy blonde hair or sharp blue eyes that were undoubtedly eying him like prey. "Link."
An amused chuckle, low and malicious caused his ears to twitch.
"Why hello there… Vaati."
A/N: Wow, the concept for this story has been sitting, collecting dust since roughly 2009, spawning from a terrible doodle made on Tegaki where the roles of several of the staple Legend of Zelda characters were swapped. The chapter ended up being twice as long as I initially intended, and it's the first thing I've actually posted here in well over eight years. At the urging of several other purple made aficionados, I ended up revamping the original storyline and working on paving over the cluster of plotholes that riddled the original concept.
If anyone was interested in digging around in the character art for the story, it can all be found on my tumblr (devkyu) under the "memories of the wind" tag.