-Some Months Earlier-
Ganondorf walked through the massive palace of the Gerudo, the home of the Hilarser- the men of the Gerudo. For millennia, the Gerudo had been comprised solely of women, save for the one man born every hundred or so years, leading to an awkward balance of power in the way of Gerudo politics. The palace was a clear reminder of such a fact, even to Ganondorf, his eyes wandering along the hallway toward the golden embellishments that rode the walls alongside statued busts of previous Hilarser, some monuments to great Gerudo generals of history; for a people built among the sands, it seemed to Ganondorf, they minded little in the way of humbleness, particularly the Hilarser.
He stopped at one bust, turning to view it's ruined visage, the bust's face having been scratched off to make the man unrecognizable, a symbol of his erasing from history as well. He shuddered at the thought of he himself being stricken from existence, removed even from memories and folklore, though continued on, leaving him to examine he other statues that lined the garish walls of the palace.
Despite the Gerudo being exclusively women, it was not they who had the power. While their might and ingenuity was unquestioned to the whole of Hyrule, behind the cragged mountains that hid their desert home, everybody knew who truly ruled- the Hilarser. The entire race relied upon the single man among them, his loins continuing the Gerudo as a people, and were he ever to perish, or withhold that reproductive mandate, the Gerudo understood clear enough that their proud traditions could no longer continue.
Ganondorf had been surrounded by women his entire life, almost as soon as he'd been born; given his rarity, he'd been closely guarded and cared for every day he'd been growing up, spending most his days behind the palace walls, learning from the Hilarser who'd sired him, the father's of the next generation's Hilarser having the explicit responsibility of preparing their son before dying themselves. Apart from his studying with his father, Ganondorf had only known women, and once he'd come of age and allowed out of the palace, he'd walk the streets of the only large Gerudo town, uncomfortable beneath the mass of eyes that were constantly on him, awed by his very presence.
Even now, stared at only by the eyes of statues, Ganondorf felt his skin crawl at the thought of being watched, lowering his head and reaching over his shoulder, pulling his desert shawl over his head as the feeling overwhelmed him, the idea of wandering eyes having always concerned him. Being a single man among women, they had always stared at him, and even if it were only in reverence, the those stares continued to haunt him. He could never quite tell what intentions might lie behind them.
Ganondorf's echoing steps quieted as he entered the inner chamber, knowing the Hilarser despised being interrupted by impromptu noises. On the chance his father and master were otherwise physically indisposed. Ganondorf had learned long ago to simply remain quiet at all times, lest he break the man's concentration, which had become a necessity at his age, he had said.
The Hilarser that Ganondorf was following behind was named Cizedon, who'd been serving his people for a good ninety years or so by now, his successor having died soon after his birth, causing a sort of outcry among the Gerudo, who were unable to sire children until he became of age. Cizedon took up the mantle as soon as possible as a result, and although after so many years he had indulged in streaks of hedonism, he'd been quite the benevolent Hilarser, and the Gerudo flourished under his leadership. Unwilling to part with his duty, even in his old age, Cizedon was forced to bring into the royal fold a cloister of advisors who would aid him in his age, and among the greatest minds the Gerudo has to offer, the small civilization grew significantly, even in more ways than Cizedon was more than happy to oblige by his own merit.
Still, he was protective of his privacy, leaving Ganondorf to quietly enter his administrative chambers, standing by the doorway as he pulled his shawl back onto his shoulders, staring blankly out past the columns that lined the room, peering over the whole of the city, thinking about his own turn at Hilarser, even if the idea distressed him somewhat. At the end of the day, he understood too well, that such a thing was his birthright.
The large door that separated the large administrator chamber from the equally large bedroom began to stir, slowly opening as the sound forced Ganondorf to turn his head, immediately lowering his head at the sight of the nude woman exiting, her clothes bundled up in her arms as she stepped out. She grinned devilishly as she strode on through the room, eyeing the younger Hilarser unflinchingly, finding his avoidance to be rather unbecoming, given the man she had just shared a bed with.
"You should lift your head, Hilarser," she advised with a smirk, "You'll be seeing much more skin than mine soon enough."
Ganondorf shuddered at the thought, or rather, the thought of he himself being exposed to any number of women. He had never exactly been self-conscious, though he wasn't arrogant either; ever since he had understood his upcoming role as Hilarser, Ganondorf was more distressed with his own ability to handle the whole of his people. He had been inundated with tales of powerful conquests, told of fierce, war-mongering women from centuries past, yet was also told he, alone, was to lead them all, an idea that easily overwhelmed his young consciousness.
He jumped as a touch came at his shoulder, his face opening in shock as it whipped upward to find the woman there, clutching her clothes at her side as her arm hung there, her other hand reaching up to his shoulder, grasping at his clothing there with a gentle clutch. His eyes froze on her own, afraid to wander, though she just barely hid a deep sort of giggle at his nervousness.
"You might need some goading," she mulled over, "But you'll know, soon enough Hilarser, how persuasive we Gerudo can be."
Ganondorf has heard such a phrase before. 'Gerudo' often referred to only the women, while 'Hilarser' was meant to exclusivize the men in being separate from the mighty numbers of women. Such things added to his apprehensions, even now as his blank stare cast awkwardly down onto this woman's face as her hand released her clothing to the floor, reaching up to run along his chest in examination.
"We've been with your elder for long enough in his old age," she cooed heatedly, "It'll be nice to have a Hilarser who's able to put in the effort."
A cold sweat broke out at Ganondorf's neck as he pressed back against the wall behind him as her hand trailed down his robes, though as she crossed his midsection, a booming task of a voice broke the young man's absence, "Tabime!"
The women's soft grin curled into a smirk as her head went over her shoulder, playfully eyeing the elder Hilarser as he scuffled out from the bedroom achingly, her voice a sultry innocence, "I was just having some fun. This one is so tense; I wonder if he'll need to be broken in."
"Bah, my son'll do just fine, thank you," the Hilarser assured, "Besides, you shan't even worry about him until I die. I have no intention of abandoning my duty until the grip of death strips it from me."
Tabime raised her hand, stroking her bottom lip with a cursory touch of her finger, "Oh, Hilarser, you know we dare not think of anybody but you. You've been so good to us, after all. My mother, and her mother, nobody has an ill-feeling toward you at all."
"And I'll see that it remains that way," the old man nodded, falling back into his chair beside the line of columns that overlooked the city, groaning loudly as his aches rattled his insides, coupled with exhaustion, "Now go on, Tabime. Feel free to clothe yourself, as well, once you leave."
The woman bowed her head to the Hilarser before turning to leave, offering Ganondorf a wry kind of wink as she bent low to collect her robes, her footsteps making a pattering echo as she left, leaving the two men alone. Ganondorf sighed in relief, reaching his hands up to rub his face, hoping to relieve himself of that woman's sultry, overwhelming presence.
"Always, always, always use their names," Cizedon instructed lazily, waving a weak finger in the air, "It makes them feel more special in receiving you. At my age, at least, it helps that it helps them in their efforts as well. Always have an indirect way of asking, too; I hadn't a clue what her name was when she walked in, but I asked her a few questions, spoke her name, and she had that glint in her eye like she'd been chosen as the one woman out of the world."
Ganondorf hadn't a reply, and with his father turned away, he didn't even nod in acknowledgement. Cizedon still slumped in his chair, pointing the same finger toward a nearby chair to instruct his son, who obliged, taking a seat across from the old man, watching the orange light of the sun take his wrinkled face in its grasp. Cizedon stared out over the city distantly, his eyes strained as he did so, speaking up mildly as though lost in the approaching light of dusk.
"What brings you here, son?"
Ganondorf sighed, stroking at his chin, "I returned from the outskirts. More children are dying from that illness I described a year ago. The patterns, symptoms, they all remain the same. Fever, yet a cold sweat. Seizures. Every time, the same thing; the same frame of time, even."
He reached into his pocket, pulling out a folded up bit of parchment, unfolding it as Cizedon grumbled, "What of it? Despite how we're advancing, I've seen the dwindling censuses. Not a day goes by that I'm not bringing women in here, hoping to improve the population. Some of the populous has noticed it as well."
"I mean, shouldn't we seek out the disease instead of working to cure the symptoms?" Ganondorf asked innocently, warning a scoff in Cizedon's ire.
Shrugging, the old man retorted, "Then why come to me with this instead of my advisors?"
"Because I've fielded some hypotheses; I wanted to know what you thought," Ganondorf confided weakly, "This whole last year, I've gone and examined every possible variable and-"
"Bah, 'variables'," Cizedon murmured under his breath, "I never got into variables, or logic, math or whatever."
Ganondorf leaned forward, offering the parchment, "Here; I mean, I made it as simple as I-"
The Hilarser reached out and smacked Ganondorf's hand, sending the parchment floating to the ground, much to Ganondorf's surprise at being struck, leaving the elder to reply grumpily, "You know I don't do that stuff. I hadn't the freedom as you do to study. The Gerudo has gone thirteen years without births, and our population was already declining; they took me to bed the first chance they possibly could have, desperate as they were. For eighty, ninety-some years, emptying my seed is all I've ever known to do and be good at, and at my age, I'm not even good at that. You have no use lecturing an old man such as me."
"Most of my ideas revolve around you, Hilarser," Ganondorf explained, his boyish sense of adventure causing his tone to rise higher than expected in excitement, causing Cizedon to peer at him sidelong with a pithy glare.
"You've explained these things before, son; you don't seem to fully grasp our responsibilities here," he explained in a deeply instructive voice.
Ganondorf retorted, "I understand enough to know that going along as we've been doing is to our detriment. The more births, the more this illness pops up. I don't understand how continuing on will-"
"You've said enough already, Ganondorf, and if you continue along with your crazy ideas, you'll not only bring upon you the ire of the whole of the Gerudo, but the ire of your father as well!" Cizedon spoke up loud, though he sighed to calm himself, falling back in his seat, "You don't understand what you've been given, son. You are determined to stare a gift horse in the mouth and declare it faulty; you've considered nothing else."
"Nothing is a gift that you cannot remember its name," Gamondorf muttered beneath his breath, partially hoping his father hadn't heard the words.
Instead of becoming upset, Cizedon sighed, frowning, "You know, I did try. For a good two years or so, I remembered the name of every child that I had fathered. They're not your children, though. They're children of the Gerudo."
The old man broke into a tiny smirk, chuckling lightly, "You've been under my instruction since you were twelve; how have I done so poorly in teaching you these things?"
"I understand everything you've taught," Ganondorf confirmed, "I just don't agree with-"
Cizedon's critical stare silenced him, the father speaking in frozen tones, "Do not ever let them hear you say that."
Ganondorf frowned as he turned his head away, upset that he'd been so scornfully dismisses. His father noticed his mood, however, Cizedon sighing lightly as he pushed himself out from his chair, his wobbling stance forcing Ganondorf to unwillingly Stan as well, helping his father to his feet and staying by his side to keep him upright.
"Take a walk with me, son," he requested, pointing a thumb in the direction of the corridor that rounded the upper tier of the palace between the walls and outer columns.
Ganondorf acquiesced, knowing he couldn't simply leave his father to collapse beneath the weight upon his shaking legs. He bit his tongue as he wrapped a hand gingerly around his brittle arm, the two slowly taking their time under the glowing sunset as the acrid air blew against their skin. Cizedon's voice broke into low groans as his aches and pains rang out within his body.
"You know son, I truly admire your spirit," Cizedon admitted plainly, "I never had the chance to run about as you have. My entire life has been spent in this palace, for the most part. I see you out amongst the Gerudo, and I can't help but feel envious. As it is, we all have our roles to play, and mine is to remain here until I die. When that comes to pass, your role will change as well."
"But father, my place isn't here," Ganondorf muttered, "I can do so much more than stay here forever and be nothing more than a spigot to be turned on and off forever. There was problems out there amongst our people, serious problems; more and more children are dying before they even reach ten years of age."
He turned to his father, "If something isn't done, it won't matter how many children you have- they won't survive. This illness is running rampant."
Cizedon shrugged, "Let them handle it. Look Ganondorf, there's a system in place here, one that's been preordained by the goddesses. That's why we men are only one or two at a time; it's not our place to solve the problems of the Gerudo. We are Hilarser. That's all we are. We have our influence, but that only goes so far."
"You'll never know how hard I wrestled with the idea of allowing you to grow up outside of the palace," Cizedon explained quietly, "I know how dangerous that is. You get a taste of life outside these walls, all those ideas of riding around Hyrule without a thought of the world here. If I has to fancy a guess, I'd say I was merely hoping to live somewhat vicariously through you."
He smiled, "I may not understand half of what you speak of, but I enjoy hearing you so full of hope, longing, and wonderment. It makes me think of a time when I, too, longed for the world outside these walls."
They rounded the corner as Cizedon shoved his hands into his pockets, slumping his shoulders as he allowing a drawn out sigh to leave him, lost for a moment in those few years he'd been his own person, not defined by his people as a whole, "But, I'm not supposed to be teaching you about how bad this life is, but how good it is."
"I'm already well aware," Ganondorf answered, weakly.
Cizedon grinned, "It is more than that, son. You're the only person standing between survival and the death of all these people. You're a symbol of hope for a brighter future, the only father figure these people will have for an entire lifetime. These women will love you, care for you, protect you. They'll die for you. They will bare their bodies to you, then bear your children for you. They will weaken your knees, strengthen your resolve, and if you remain faithful to your people, they will do this and infinitely more in due season. Your dwelling place will be among them, and at the sides of so many of them, you will dwell."
He spun his head up toward his son, "You can turn your back to this life, as I know you've often thought of. You see this as a cheap, empty existence, your body being taken day in and day out, on a whim at times. I can assure you, I was much different growing up; I couldn't pick out and take them to bed quick enough, and boy, did they so willingly run as well. You've got to focus on the positives, son; better men than us have given more for a minuscule chance at such a life of invocation."
Ganondorf shook his head, "But what of-"
"Of nothing," his father shot back, "Son, we're outnumbered. If you don't give those women what they want- what they require for their survival, they will take it from you."
Ganondorf turned to meet his father's strict gaze, Cizedon's brow furrowing as he let out a desperate plea, "You know of Turorug; after his reign had run half his course, he'd decided to get smart, demanding tributes and riches for his services. They struck his face from all his monuments, casting his existence out from history before casting him into his chambers, where he'd never see the light of day again. They forced him to give up his seed for years until he finally gave up another Hilarser, then they shoved a pile through his head before erecting his body as a monument to his greed."
Cizedon frowned, "If I go to my death bed knowing you could potentially fall to the same fate, Ganondorf, I-"
He paused for a moment, lowering his head, "You're the greatest thing I've ever done, Ganondorf. Not just for myself, but for my people. Your arrival meant further generation were assured, along with the hope of a brighter future. Your mother would have been just as proud. Having Hilarser claim your womb, it's a privilege so many of them won't ever know."
Smiling, Cizedon reaches out to take ahold of Ganondorf's shoulder, patting him gently, "Just take a step into the shallow end. Just for a moment. You may find that you enjoy it, you know?"
Ganondorf frowned, though as he looked into his father's eyes, he couldn't help but find a hint of sadness within him, as if he were truly frightened of his son's refusal. The younger Hilarser felt a pang of guilt, from a young age never wanting to disappoint the man who'd raised him so well. Was he merely hoping to simply hear the words so that he could die in peace?
His tongue followed a groove at the back of his teeth as Ganondorf's eyes grew downcast before a uttered quietly, "Okay, father."
"Atta boy," Cizedon smiled, patting his son's shoulder once again, "We didn't come this far as a people because a few men didn't grow to love the subtle arts performed atop a mattress. Just treat them well, and they will do the same."
Ganondorf's lips yanked to thee side with uncertainty, "You say that like a man whose father died before coming of age."
His father chuckled heartily, "I don't have it in me to be a brute to these women, though there are tales of Hilarser who were rather, uh, primitive. I may have been thought by women, but I haven't a bad thing to say about what I'd been asked to perform and how."
Cizedon directed his son to help him back inside, "Alright, that's enough for the day; I must retire. As weak as my body's become, I've had to work harder; how's that for irony?!"
Offering a sheepishly small smile, Ganondorf answered, "I suppose so, father."
"Ah, afterward you may go on home," his father instructed with a nod, "I know I decreed that nobody is to have you until my death, but if you feel as though you need encouragement, I have no reason to stop you. If you find a woman on the way home, I doubt one of your status would have to do much in the way of persuasion."
"Don't worry, father," Ganondorf finished, "Your decree is not in much danger of being disobeyed."