Chapter 1 - Lost and Found
Vaati remembered rage and pain and grief. The hero's blade cutting into his flesh, the princess' arrow burning through his vision, but worse than either came before the battle had even started; the cold drop in his stomach when he realized he was alone again, that everything he had fought and toiled for was lost. The confines of the accursed sword were no stranger to him, but never before had the isolation and loneliness sunk their claws in so deeply. Once again cast into the Void, all the sorcerer had left to cling to with his own visceral rage and the endless aching misery of loss.
Exposed to the elements as it was, thick patches of moss and grass carpeted what was once marble tiles, greenery creeping into the cracks where erosion had taken its toll. Moonlight poured through the remains of the roof, illuminating the blade and its pedestal. The only things not worn by time. Despite the rain and winds and obvious exposure, the Four Sword showed little to no signs of wear. Any common blade would be naught but rust by now, neglected as it had been.
The trespasser observed the weapon as he neared it, footfalls muffled on the bit of stone surrounding the blade. He circled it warily, almost expecting any number of terrible things to befall him for disturbing the sanctity of the shrine: the demon said to be sealed within to lash out at him, the sages to damn him, the ghost of heroes past to seek vengeance, Hylia herself to smite him where he stood. All was silent except for the night breeze and the occasional sound of summer insects.
The peaceful reverie was broken by something akin to the ringing of metal and the tinkling of shattered glass from somewhere behind him, alerting him to the presence of another. To his credit he did not flinch when his personal space was so carelessly invaded, a taller man draped languidly over his shoulder.
"Having second thoughts, little shadow?"
The red-eyed youth scoffed, shrugging out of the other's touch with practiced ease. "You would doubt my loyalty?"
The other chuckled, deep and imposing. "Oh, never your loyalty. Your Courage, perhaps." He stepped gracefully away from the boy, who glared at him half-heartedly from behind a platinum fringe, to circle around the blade as the more slight of the pair had done just moments ago. "So this is the legendary Four Sword. Not very impressive is it. Then again, no blade is as magnificent and glorious as I," he said with a dramatic flourish.
"Except the Master Sword."
To that, the sword spirit made a rude gesture at the darkly clad youth, which was returned in kind. With a swish of his red cloak the man melted away in a flurry of diamond-like shapes, only to reappear again sitting atop one of the worn pillars, long legs dangling off the edge."Hrmph, if I didn't need you for this little errand, I would run you through for that little comment," he growled.
"But the fact remains that you do need me," the other said in return, stepping up to the pedestal. He eyed the blade warily before reaching out and wrapping his hand around its hilt, feeling the thrum of the magical seal through his wrapped fingers.
"Which I assume you are never going to let me live down," With a snap of his fingers, a dagger appeared, which he proceeded to toss and catch boredly. "I could have been done and gone by now and not wasting my time loitering around in this grimy little hole in the wall."
"Why do you think I'm here?" the boy scoffed, eyes narrowed in concentration. "Now shut up and stop distracting me. Or would you prefer I told your master that that not only did you need me to do your job, but that I also died a horrible, albeit avoidable death because you kept running your mouth?"
Thankfully that finally silenced his reluctant companion, if only for the moment. The shadow breathed in and out slowly, a faint glow emanating from underneath the wraps on the back of his hand. He strained, and with the sound of ancient metal grinding against stone, he began to ever so slowly pull the sword out of its pedestal. The youth fought the blade the entire way, the ancient metal seemingly trying to drag itself back into the stone even as he pulled against it. Sweat dripped down his brow at the exertion of fighting against the seal, his knees trembling as it sapped him of his strength.
Ghirahim held his breath as it seemed to catch for a moment as his companion wavered, but after another hard yank, the blade was free and its wielder stumbled back, breathing heavily from not a small amount of physical and magical exhaustion. His breath came in quick pants. For a moment he couldn't distinguish the ringing in his ears from the sound that sword spirit made when he teleported and was a bit startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Sheik, are you-"
He raised a hand, half placating and half begging for space. "I'm fine. I just… The protections on that seal were a long nastier than I expected. Whoever sealed it that demon the last time really wanted to make sure no one was pulling this thing out by accident."
Later on, neither of the two would admit to being so distracted with Sheik's struggle to break the seal that they both somehow managed to momentarily forget about the actual monster held captive by the blade. A sudden gust of wind blasted through the room, strong enough to almost topple Sheik, although it only served to cause Ghirahim's cloak to whip back and forth. Both snapped their attention towards the epicenter of the sudden furor: the pedestal now absent of the only thing keeping the sorcerer of winds captive.
What could only be described as pure unadulterated malice bubbled... oozed out of the pedestal, the dark, glowing substance amassing into spherical form. What was easily half a dozen pairs of membranous wings of varying size unfurled slowly, dripping as they stretched and solidified.
Large, menacing horns spiraled from its crown, the same inky violet as the rest of its body. The beast dropped down into the stone and landed on its bottom set of winged legs, the vibration causing dust to fall from the already broken ceiling.
Sheik watched in rising trepidation as the monster manifested in front of him. A visceral terror filled him. He had done this. This was truly the demon that had ravaged Hyrule in ages past, and now it was free again. "What have I done..."
"Unsealed Vaati, apparently," his partner in crime replied in ill-concealed delight, clapping his hands together excitedly.
As if only just noticing the two, it turned towards them, massive raptor-like claws clicking against the marble floor. Across the center of it's dark furred, feathered body, a menacing crimson eye rimmed in gold split open to stare the two trespassers down with a ferocious and predatory glint.
No sooner did the demon step towards them that its form began to shudder unnaturally. In a matter Sheik would later describe as nightmare inducing, the monstrous demon stalking towards him began to melt, its body breaking down into the same dark substance that had leaked out of the pedestal to form it. An unearthly, pained shriek echoed through the chamber as it fell apart, collapsing and writhing on the ground. Rather than disappear entirely, a small and rather human body was left as the wind dissipated.
Vaati's senses came back to him disjointedly. His entire body was a mixture of numbness and agony. Air once again filled his lungs, cool and damp from the night but still it left his throat and chest feeling raw. Every shallow breath only seemed to exacerbate the wound that left his left side feeling hot and wet. The sorcerer, as much as his instincts screamed at him to get up and fight, couldn't find the coordination to get his limbs to just move. Any attempt to move his wings only seemed to subject him to strange phantom sensations as they refused to cooperate. His face felt damp, though he couldn't tell if it was from tears or blood… it wouldn't be surprising if it was either at this point.
A strangled cry of pain escaped his throat as he was suddenly hauled off of the floor forcefully. The wound in his side seared with the movement that left him dangling by the back of his shirt. He opened an eye blearily only to come face to face with a pale man with white hair and exceptionally unimpressed, baleful eyes that were of an indiscernible color even so close. Vaati could barely make out any other details aside from the vivid red cloak he was wearing as his vision swam.
"Really? This is it? This is the great Vaati, Sorceror of Winds? A so-called god?" Ghirahim said, dangling the pathetic hylian by his tattered shirt and cloak. The boy, though it was somewhat difficult to tell with how fair he appeared to be, was… a wreck. His clothes which were likely very fine at one point were stained with so much blood it was difficult to discern what their original color was. His long hair was matted with the same red substance, some dried and other spots glistening freshly in the moonlight. His one visible eye was as red as the blood seeping from the wounds visible wherever his pale skin wasn't hidden by tattered cloth.
"I came here to find a demon, not a bloodied up little boy!"
Little boy? Was he in his Hylian form once again? That certainly explained why he couldn't move his wings. The world suddenly spun and pain lanced through him again as he was tossed to the floor. Vaati couldn't help but hiss as his already battered body roughly hit the ground. He struggled to get back up, but was once again sent tumbling by a kick.
"Feh, pathetic! Did they hero seal you away because you were too pitiful to kill, mage? Maybe I should just finish what he started and put you out of your misery… Sheik, what are you doing?"
Vaati looked up from where he'd been sprawled on the floor, barely enough strength to push himself up onto his elbows to look up at what had stopped the man's assault. Like the man this other wore a red cloak, forked at the bottom. He couldn't catch all of their words, but what drew his attention most was the eye on the back, the top sweeping not unlike his own with a long teardrop shape and a set of forked wings spread out to the side.
"Your behavior is unnecessary. Our master tasked us with unsealing Vaati, what happens to him afterwards is not your decision."
"You think he'll be pleased with this?" He stepped forward, leaning in so close that his nose was scant inches from the silver haired boy. "That he'll be delighted by what an utter waste of time and energy this little venture was? That isn't the great sorcerer of winds, it is a pathetic fucking mess!"
"It is a setback. Nothing more. I'll deal with it." Sheik gave him a tired glare. "Return to the castle."
Ghirahim's glare matched his own, intense in its indignation and fury. However, the younger of the two did not waver.
Ghirahim gave one more lingering, disdainful glance at the bloody, broken sorcerer before vanishing with the tinkling of broken glass, leaving only the silence of the night once again. Even if there was any other noise, Vaati doubted if he would be able to hear it over the pounding of his own heart in his ears. He couldn't be sure if the trembling in his limbs was more from exhaustion or fear or lingering grief.
"Can you stand?"
It took Vaati a moment to realize the Sheikah boy was speaking again, the other's voice was so soft. It was a long moment before he made the attempt to push himself to his feet, but his limbs still refused to cooperate. He bit his lip, tears threatening to spill in sheer frustration at his own weakness.
A faint bob of the other's silvery hair, somehow even lighter than his own, was the only indication that he had been acknowledged. "I'm going to have to carry you on my back. You're obviously injured badly along your side. Picking you up that way would only cause you to bleed more."
Vaati held back a few choice words at the idea that this child had even considered carrying him like some sort of princess. His anger at the offense left him faster than he'd expected. It was not due to any sort of forgiveness, but that he was suddenly just so tired. Too tired to argue. Too tired to fight anymore. He almost startled when, taking his silence for acquiescence, the shadow moved next to him and turned around. Reluctantly, sluggishly, he looped his arms around the other's shoulders.
With a surprising amount of grace (it shouldn't be, considering this was a Sheikah), the taller of the pair tugged the mage onto his back and stood up, slipping his arms up under his knees. Vaati tightened his grip, what little bit he had the strength and coordination to do anyway, as he was lifted. He reflexively hid his face in the back of his rescuer's neck, a soft squeak of pain escaping his throat. Feeling the other tense at his movement, Vaati turned his face to the side, biting his lip as the injury along his ribs pulled tightly.
With another jostle, the Sheikah was off, footsteps muffled and silent along the moss-covered stones despite the increased weight he was carrying. They moved carefully, and the injured sorcerer assumed through the haze of pain that it was out of some sort of concern for his condition, unaware that Sheik was actually warily checking for potential threats, that he was not supposed to be here, unsealing a monster that ended up being just a broken, pathetic thing instead.
Vaati watched, only half aware, as the eroded stone of the Elemental Sanctuary fell away to thick forest. The bright moonlight had washed everything into blues and grays, and his blurry eyesight couldn't distinguish the true color of the foliage. It could have been autumn or spring and he wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. How long… had he been sealed away this time… he wondered.
How long had it been since…
His fingers curled and clenched the cloth of the other's cloak between his fingers as a sharp stab of grief lanced through him. If Sheik noticed that Vaati had silently sobbed himself into absolute exhaustion, he didn't say a word about it.
A/N: Jude this is all your fault.