Part I

As though he knew no one would see or hear him, he came.

With the moon over the desert sand and the rolling hills elapsing into a abyssal wasteland, with the wind usually howling eerily at a deadly calmness, he came.

Everyone would notice, he knew this, if he came in the morning, when the sun was up and the guards were out on their quarters with their sharp eyes on the look out for anything amiss. It was their duty and when they saw something they were unafraid of, and yet unsure of, they were certain to wake the entire population, and let them know what was happening within their tiny city.

No one would have heard him, because his horse was delicate when she ran, and especially upon the sand, she sounded no more like a leaf tumbling on the fragile wind. Then again, she was a young horse, and even with a rider she had known for a long time, she would never fail but to let the entire city know that he had come home.

Epona.

She had a one and only neigh. One that could be heard from a million miles away and recognized. And she only carried one rider. When her neigh was heard, the people would rejoice, as to know who it was she was bring home with her.

Such an odd horse she had been, so different from all the other horses within the Gerudo's fortress, which lay on the outskirts of Hyrule, a land of peace and harmony, once a land of conspiracy, and murder. But the past was behind them. All that could be seen was the purity of the future.

Hasina had lived in the fortress all her life; she had been raised there since she was a tiny girl, living with her mother and her sisters, her aunts and her grandmothers and her nieces. It was known that the Gerudo's were a tribe of women, and a male was born into the tribe every century or so. The city was mostly women.

With the exception of one.

Well, the exception of two.

Hasina knew Epona's neigh from very far away, and she could spot her in an instant, the strange horse with the silver mane and the ginger-coloured coat, and her dark steady eyes that were piercing and observant. Hasina was never fond of the horse, as any other member of the tribe could not wield her.

Tonight Hasina saw Epona come through the gates to the Gerudo's fortress.

And she was carrying Link.

Hasina took a step back, so the shadows could swallow her completely from all sight to the untrained eye. She didn't want to be spotted now at such a late hour, in the early morning, standing over the city and watching, no waiting, for the prince to return.

Hasina, even though she was the temporary leader of the Gerudo's at the fortress, until the mythical Nabooru returned from the temple, which would be in a matter of weeks, was hardly seen. She would hide to the shelter of her quarters and ask not to see anyone unless there was something important happening. During the evening she would sit by herself and read, or write, or occasionally hire an entertainer. She was hardly seen to the Gerudo's.

Even the Prince Link hadn't seen her hardly. Even though she had seen him many times.

Hasina watched him in the shadows of the darkness. She watched his every move, his every word and every gesture. To her he was a Hyrulian out of place in the world. She sneered at him as often as she could. He could never be a Gerudo, she knew this very well.

Despite his ivory skin, his sharpening sunny blonde hair, his extreme handsomeness and his extraordinary haunting eyes that were warm and calm, he was considered a Gerudo. No, he was more than that to them. He was their prince, their god. Hasina knew it was nonsense. No one with skin the colour of milk and the eyes of the ocean could be a leader of the Gerudo's.

He was out of place there. Hasina believed, if none of the other Gerudo's did, that he didn't belong with them.

But it interested her in how the rest of the Gerudos had grown so attached to him. They had raised him since he was a baby, when one of the scouts was walking through the desert and found him crying, suffocating from the whipping wind that held the sand to mark his death. She had picked him up and brought him to the fortress.

Because he was such a happy baby, so pure and full of life, they had adapted to him quite quickly, loving him as though he were their own. No one knew his history; no one dared to ask. They just loved him like a son. Like a son to the city.

But he grew older, and soon there was a question of letting him stay with them. Because of his colour, they had questioned him. They wondered what was to be done with him. Would they send him out to the undying sands of the desert and command him to death? Were they so ruthless? Or would they prepare him for slavery?

It wasn't until Nabooru came that the decision was made.

Nabooru was the fierce leader of the Gerudos, and to many she seemed like a goddess. She was the most beautiful woman you could have ever set eyes upon, with her flowing flame of hair, red as fire, her astonishing light eyes full of life, and her soul, pure to the heart. She held the power to speak to the spirits, which was why she was at the Colossus temple so often, the reason why she was appointed the leader of the Gerudo's.

She had come back from the temple, and the Gerudos knew that she would know what was to be done with the boy. But Nabooru, with her kind soul and loving heart, set eyes upon the child and vowed she would never let him go. With that she had picked him up in her arms and declared that he was to stay with them in the city, as their prince.

Hasina was angry at the mere thought of it. How foolish Nabooru was! Thinking a kid at such a tender age could wield the dynasty of the Gerudo's.

But Hasina kept her remarks to herself and hated him in secrecy. Nabooru was a very powerful woman, with an angering passion for prejudices and judgment. It would be only foolish for Hasina to let her feeling out about the prince.

Hasina saw him, when no one else did, late that night. She watched his every moment, from the moment he arrived with Epona, and then tied her to a nearby post where she could drink water and feast on oats and rest for awhile, and hurried into the main building.

Hasina's lip curled in disgust. "Humph!" she snorted to herself, and turned her back to the balcony and to the wind. She began walked down the stairs into her chamber.

~ If only the others knew. ~ She thought to herself. ~ If only they knew what he was doing. I bet they do know what he is doing. They just refuse to believe it's a bad thing. But soon they will see it. Soon they will see the danger he is bringing to them! Soon he will no longer be a prince to the Gerudos. ~

Hasina liked to believe, even though she was sure they didn't, that the Gerudos knew where their prince was going every single night instead of lying in the depths of his quarters and sleeping soundly with dreams of the future. Hasina hadn't known it herself until the night she was in pain from her monthly bleed, and couldn't sleep, and went to her balcony to sing to the stars, and instead heard Epona's neigh from the gates.

Their prince, Link, had been sneaking out during the evening, and riding off with Epona past the gates to the land of Hyrule, whatever it may bring.

She noticed him doing this only now and then, and then he did it nightly. The only nights he didn't sneak out was when he was already asleep or he was in a training session with his sword. It had made Hasina angry. But worse than angry, it had made her curious.

From what she could remember, he had never done this before. What would be his reason to do this now?

Well, tonight she was destined to find out.

Hasina reached her quarters and turned to the guard at the entrance, and waved her arm furiously at her. "Bring the prince to me at once!" she demanded, and the guard ran off down the hall in fear.

Hasina sat down upon the sofa and drank from her golden goblet. Until Nabooru returned there would be no nonsense in the Gerudo fortress. Not while Hasina was in charge at least, which would be for awhile, as Nabooru was called to the temple on strict urgency.

Hasina wondered what the boy could have been doing, so late at night. Could he have been stealing off to the castle to talk with the villagers, with the people he should have grown up with? Or perhaps he stole away every night to go to the Lake Hylia, to dive and swim in it's cool waters, and mingle with the Zoras, who held their fortress only beneath the lake.

She shuddered. How she hated the Zoras, how she thought their race was completely peculiar and abnormal. If the boy had indeed been mingling with the Zoras, she could be able to tell, and she would punish him severely for him, even if Nabooru were to object.

There was tapping on the stones in the corridor beyond Hasina' chambers. He was coming. Hasina relaxed and prepared herself for a lecture. She lay on her side and supported her head with her hand, and casually drank from her goblet as though she expected nothing and no one.

The guard appeared, and she stood with an alertness, her back was very straight, as though she knew something startling that would never go past her lips. But she stood at the doorway and bowed low for Hasina, and turned to the side.

Prince Link emerged into the chamber.

He bowed to her. A prince bowing to the formidable leader of the Gerudo's. Hasina knew already that he was hiding something.

She gestured for him to come forward. "Come into the light."

He took a few steps forward, and she sucked in her breath, rather alarmed. He was beyond handsome, she had heard the rumors and the giggles of the Gerudos that said he was as gorgeous as the gods themselves rolled into one man. But he seemed to be more. He was truly beautiful, a beautiful young man. Hasina hadn't been expecting this.

But she wouldn't let mindless thoughts and sexual desires to cloud her vision now. Right now she was rather irritated, and she wouldn't let him escape it in any way.

Hasina looked over him swiftly. He had left the fortress and had returned in his green suit, but now he was in his evening/morning robe. He must have quickly changed as soon as he reached his chambers. His wide eyes were bright and incredible, his gentle smile was wooing. Uneasily she cleared her throat.

"Where have you been tonight, Prince Link?" Hasina had heard Nabooru and the other Gerudos call him "their prince" and "his highness", but she would never call him such things. She would never regard him as an equal, and she would never ever regard him as someone in higher power than she.

Laughter played in his eyes as she asked the question and it further irritated her, but she kept her thoughts to herself. His smile grew a little wider. "I have been asleep, Hasina."

Hasina breathed in nervously. Never had she heard his voice. Not this closes at least. It was deep and undying, but it could be soft and loving as well. And how did he know her name? Something Nabooru must have told him. She told him everything.

Hasina suspiciously lowered her chin almost threateningly, as though she were a cat about to pounce in for a kill, and with her dark hair and acid eyes, she could have very much been mistaken for one, if she had a tail. But even with this blood-chilling glare, the prince held his ground, as he held his smile.

He must have known she despised him. It reminded her of something she had read once.

"Love your enemy. It makes them angry."

And loving his enemy was exactly what he was doing, and he was doing it pleasantly. But in a way which sickened her.

Her lip curled before she could stop it, and she looked away to make it seem as though it was all a mishap. She casually picked up an apple off the table and examined it's red skin. "Are you sure? I thought I heard Epona outside." She pressed.

Link smiled wider. "She's been outside all night." He told her softly. "She loves the desert wind. Nothing could keep her from it."

"Is that so?" Hasina asked, and she looked over at him. Then she noticed something, a mark on his chin, just below his chin even. In the darkness and with the coverage of his robe's collar, it looked as though he had tried to hide it from her. But she had seen it, and it made her smile deliciously.

"Why, Prince Link, it seems as though you have a bruise on your neck." She said sweetly, sweet like poison.

Link seemed surprised at how she had noticed, but he smiled quickly and reached for his neck. "Ah yes, this." He let out a hearty laugh. "I'm afraid I was a clumsy clod and tripped and fell right onto a crate, one of the bars jabbed me here in the neck." He seemed to have no humiliation from this tale, which made Hasina suspicious. "It's a minor accident, an idiot accident you may call it." And he chuckled to himself.

Hasina scowled slightly. What was he hiding? Behind those eyes and those sweet smiles was a story that he was keeping from her, that he refused to tell her. She was very suspicious. She knew he had been out, why didn't she just say so?

She bit her lip and looked at the apple in her hand, and then she put it down after a moment of thought. "All right, you may be on your way." She told him. "But be wary. I don't want this to happen again." She told him.

Link blinked innocently. "What do you mean?"

~ You know damn well what I mean! ~ Her mind snarled furiously.

She grit her teeth. "Being clumsy. Someday it could cost your life."

Link gave her a smile, and then he bowed again, and was gone from her sight without another word. She watched him walk away, her eyes traveling down along the curves of his muscular legs against the fine material of the robe. She pulled her thoughts and eyes away.

For a moment she wondered why on earth she hadn't confronted him about leaving the fortress every evening. Had she been afraid to? If she surely wanted to catch him so absurdly she would have asked him about it and trapped him like a mouse. Then Hasina thought wickedly to herself, and sitting back she developed a plan for the following night.

She would wait at the gate herself the next evening, and when he came galloping through the gate with Epona as his steed, she would stop him and not let him pass, prince or not, until he told her everything about his nightly absences. It may have been unfair, but Hasina found it to be a safety precaution for the Gerudos.

If he indeed had been mingling with others from the outside world, away from the fortress, he could bring great danger to them all.

~*~

Nabooru returned the next day.

The guards at the gate leading to the wasteland of the desert were the first to see her. Any eye could not mistake her. She traveled with her long purple cloak to protect her from the sand, and how she walked so strongly against the wind could not be mastered by anyone else.

The bells had been rung, and all the Gerudo's in the fortress emerged to see their leader approach. Hasina went to her balcony and looked down at them as they ran to the gates eagerly, talking to each other in means of excitement and admire. Before long they were all at the gates and they waited, and cheered to see their faithful leader come trudging her way through the wasteland towards her city.

Hasina looked out, and she could see Nabooru coming. She looked no more like a shadow against the sandy dunes. As she came closer Hasina recognized her, when she raised her eyes as she heard the cheers of the people, her hood blew away and she was revealed. She hadn't changed since they had last seen her, sixteen weeks ago. She was still the mystifying statue of ebony that she had been for her entire life.

With the sight of her people, she broke into a run over the sand, and slipped a few times but did not fall. She was eager to be back home, Hasina knew she was. All the Gerudos would have given anything to have the permission, or the power to go to the temple in the colossus, but Nabooru resented such a pleasure, for reasons unknown.

Nabooru reached the gates and Hasina sneered, and she turned to go greet her as the others did.

All the Gerudos were happy to see Nabooru back. When she was inside the gates and the guard was down once more to the desert, they welcomed her back with kisses and hugs and praised her and asked her about the spirits of the temple. Nabooru would answer their questions later, she told them, but for now she was tired and hungry, and the trip had been a long one.

But her smile did not fail when she saw Link approach the crowd, smiling widely. Nabooru walked through the crowd towards him, and they stood at each other full frontal, Nabooru just a sliver taller than him. They stared at each other for a moment, and then Link grinned at her.

"Welcome home." He said to her, and then they were clasped together in a tight embrace.

Link had always thought of Nabooru as a mother to him. As it was she who saved him from death when the other Gerudos believed he should be with his own or die. She had seen the power and the strength in his eyes many years ago, as she saw it now. She would never let him go. They were mother and son.

Hasina saw it all, and was disgusted by it. She approached them swiftly standing tall, and when the other Gerudos had bowed when they saw her, in fear of her glare, Nabooru and Link turned and smiled at her kindly.

Hasina wouldn't smile back. Not for all the rupees in the land. Link was bad enough, but Nabooru was just as bad, if she chose to accept him as their leader.

"Hasina." Nabooru said with a gentle smile. Her voice was fragile but strong, calm and yet with a sense of awareness. She stared with her deep wistful eyes, and her smile lengthened.

Hasina looked at Link with an angry glare. "I thought we had agreed to let her rest first."

Nabooru smiled sweetly. "Seeing my people is all the rest I need."

Hasina wasn't impressed, and she snorted beneath her breath disgustedly. She looked over at Link and back to Nabooru. "I do suppose you'll want some time to regain your strength."

Nabooru nodded. "If only I may." She let out a hearty laugh. "If you'll allow me back to my fortress without hesitation."

Almost three hours later, after Nabooru had slept soundly and refrained from the Gerudos after such a long journey, she stood with Hasina in one of the chambers. Hasina knew there was much to talk about, much to discuss about their prince, and about the whole Gerudo accord.

They sat around the fire with goblets at hand, and with fruits and cheeses set before them on the table. They were both silent, the guards at the door seemed afraid to move a muscle, as though it would cost them their lives, and with the mood that Hasina was in, it could very well have.

"How was your trip?" Hasina asked bluntly, to begin a conversation.

Nabooru sighed softly and drank from her goblet, and she smacked her lips softly and let out a soft smile. "A trip to the temple is always tiring, and I was unlucky to have the gift to speak to the spirits."

~ Unlucky? ~ Hasina's mind screamed out in agony. ~ Every Gerudo in this fortress would love to have the gift to speak to the spirits. Here is the one Gerudo who can and she complains? ~

"I was there far too long," she sighed heavily, and nibbled on a corner of cheese thoughtfully. "Sixteen weeks to speak to the spirits, to listen to them and then to wait for their replies. It's far too tiring. And passing the desert wasteland is nothing short than risking your very life."

Hasina rolled her eyes. "But you have the power, surely it cannot be that bad?"

Nabooru smiled. "Hasina, perhaps someday you will have the privilege to go to the temple, when I am too old. You will see what it is I mean."

This statement had angered Hasina greatly. Hasina knew she would never be granted the power to go to the temple, the gods would never allow it, and here Nabooru was rubbing it all in, complaining about how difficult it was, when it surely must have been very easy, for someone of her power, and telling Hasina that she could go someday perhaps when she knew for a fact it would not be allowed.

Hasina struggled against the urge to scream at Nabooru. But such a thing would have granted her a punishment and one that she would not have liked very much at all, this much was for sure. So she settled down and stared into the fire.

"But enough of my trip," Nabooru said and set down her goblet, and crossed her arms over her lap. "Tell me of the wonders that has happened here in the fortress."

Hasina's mind immediately thought of one thing. She would tell Nabooru tonight that Prince Link had been sneaking out of the fortress nightly and returning with bruises about his neck, and his mood all fresh and happy, as though he had just awaken from a magnificent sleep.

But she wouldn't tell her just yet. She wouldn't tell her until they had both seen that he had returned so late in the night.

So Hasina just sat back and stared at the wall. "They are restless without you." She confessed bluntly. "They love you as their mother. They cannot live without your companionship."

Nabooru gave a painful smile. "One day they will have to live on without me, but I do not feel fear or remorse. I know they are strong and skilled, and are quite capable of handling themselves. Perhaps they are children, and I am, as you suggested, their mother. But someday they will leave their mother and continue on without me."

Hasina looked over at her with a look of exasperation.

Nabooru laughed when she saw Hasina's glare. "I know you do not feel the same way, Hasina. You were always the stronger one among all those girls. Precisely why I put you in charge when I have to away to the temple."

Hasina smirked under her breath. ~ It's about time you noticed! ~

Nabooru could sense that there something bothering Hasina, and that she was not telling her anything about it. Nabooru knew that Hasina was strong, but when something troubled her mind, she couldn't hide it in any way.

"Hasina," Nabooru said gently. "Why don't you tell me what is on your mind?"

Hasina was angry. "Because you'll only defy it as an exaggeration!" she snapped.

"Perhaps I will," Nabooru said calmly. "But remember, if I am the mother of the people, they can tell me anything, even the ones as stubborn as you. And if they don't, I will find out somehow." She stated firmly.

Hasina knew this was true. There was no real escape from Nabooru in any way, unless one was to leave the fortress and never return. But Hasina would never do that; thus she was a captive of Nabooru. Not a child, a captive.

Hasina looked out the window, and saw it was very dark, and from a million miles away it seemed, she could have sworn she heard hooves upon sand. She had the ears of a fox, and she knew that Link was returning. She stood up quickly and turned her acid eyes to Nabooru. "Follow me." She said. "I cannot tell you, but perhaps I can show you."

They stood on the balcony for well over ten minutes before they saw him. As Hasina had predicted, here came Epona swiftly down the road into the fortress. Hasina's blood began to boil with anger as well as excitement. Surely Nabooru wouldn't let something so serious pass down something as serious as this. Hasina was eager to see Nabooru's reaction.

Nabooru stared down at the boy as he arrived, galloping on his horse without a care in the world. From so high up Nabooru easily recognized that he was satisfied about something, that he was happy and relaxed. As he tied up Epona and hurried his way into the fortress, Nabooru's eyes watched him, and then settled on the sky.

"Well?" Hasina asked.

Nabooru smiled softly and breathed in the fresh desert air. "How long has this been going on?" she asked softly.

Hasina tried to recollect her thoughts. She didn't know exactly how long it had been going on, she knew that it had started after Nabooru had left, and that it was still happening. Nabooru had been gone for sixteen weeks, which was a long time. Hasina shook her head. "It started, at least after you left for the temple."

Nabooru nodded, still staring up at the sky. "How often does he go out?" she asked softly.

"Almost every night." Hasina's excitement was growing eagerly. She wanted to see what Nabooru would have to say about this.

Nabooru smiled again, softly but with warmth. Ah, now she knew what was going on with Link, but she knew it was best not to tell the others about it. If she kept it to herself, there was less chance of Link getting hurt. Nabooru knew this well.

"I see." She said gently. "Well, he is venturing the outside world. I am glad to see him doing so."

Hasina's eagerness dropped suddenly and her jaw fell open as though it weighed a hundred pounds. "Pardon me?" she asked Nabooru as though she hadn't heard her.

Nabooru looked over at Hasina. "I am glad to see him venturing the outside world." She repeated calmly. "I knew one day he would have his curiosities, and now it seems as though he is finally fulfilling them. Oh Hasina, don't looked so shocked. Surely you didn't think he would want to be cooped up in this fortress all his life, a fascinating boy like him."

Hasina was growing angry, but worse than that she was growing confused. "What can you mean? How can it be good for him the venture? And leave the fortress? He is our Prince! If anything he should remain in this fortress for the rest of his life and never leave!"

More than anything Hasina would have loved to see Link gone from the fortress, so this was completely a lie. But she was so confused and outraged that she couldn't hold her mind together to what she wanted and what she knew was right.

Nabooru saw the anger in Hasina's eyes, and she wouldn't ignore it. "You may be correct Hasina," she said calmly. "But he is not of our race, even if we say he is. He is Hyrulian, I've known this all my life since the moment I saw him. I knew that, even as we accepted him as our prince, he would not permit himself to stay here forever." She looked down at Epona and smiled again. "He has gone to see what lies beyond the cliffs, and I am proud of him."

Hasina watched to scream and hit Nabooru, but she didn't. She looked as though she were about to, but she held it in the best she could. The last thing she wanted was punishment due to mere frustration. "I don't understand this!" she demanded angrily. "That boy is defying our laws and orders of the Gerudo accord and you acclaim him for it?"

"Once again, Hasina, he is not a Gerudo. Thus our accord only extends to him so far." She said calmly, facing Hasina's flaring eyes. "I know you're angry, and you think he should be punished, but to tell you the truth I have waited for this day to come for many long years. And I know you think he could bring danger to our fortress."

Nabooru breathed in calmly. "But he is our prince, and he loves us. He would not do such a thing, not after all we've done for him. I know him. I know him better than anyone in this fortress. He will have his freedom. Nothing could be more important to him than that."

With that, Nabooru turned her back to Hasina, whose blood was boiling and her skin was growing red. Never had she been more frustrated, or felt more defied or angered. Nabooru was disobeying the laws of the gods right before them, and she would pay for it one way or another. Hasina was ready to throw Nabooru over the balcony, just to shut every one of her beliefs up for eternity, so that no one would ever hear them again.

But Nabooru had seemed to read Hasina's mind, and swiftly and almost with a testy power, she turned and faced Hasina. "I see your hatred for him in your eyes, Hasina, as I have seen it for years. I suggest that if there is something about our prince you have to confess, perhaps you should not hold it in any longer. Perhaps you should be ready to tell me about it."

Hasina snarled. "There is nothing I have to tell you! Especially not about him!"

Nabooru shook her head. "Of course there isn't, Hasina. How foolish of me to assume so." She retorted rather cynically. And with her elegant hair waving along the wind, Nabooru disappeared down the corridor that had brought them to the balcony.

The next day Nabooru found that Hasina was gone, and she was not surprised. How could one live knowing you love whom you hate? That was why Hasina left.

~*~

Hasina had gone from the fortress, and Link thought she had left to go to the temple in the colossus of the desert. Either way, even though he knew she hated him, he would miss her. He missed everyone who left.

That day there hadn't been much talk about her disappearance, and Nabooru didn't say anything to Link about it. It was unusual, as she usually told him anything he wanted to know. But not today, and not about Hasina. Hasina was gone, that was all that could be said.

It was late, and the darkness had settled down over the fortress. Everyone was inside asleep, except for the guards who were tasked to guard the outer gates. Tonight Link would have no difficulty sneaking out.

As he cautiously walked toward the corridor's entrance, he knew that somehow he was linked to Hasina's disappearance. He had not done anything to her, of course. But something told him it was something of his doing that made him leave.

He felt guilty about it. But he knew that wherever Hasina was now, she must have been happier. He knew she was full of madness, perhaps it was a good thing to isolate herself from the others. She had been angry for years.

Link tiptoed across the sand once he knew that it was safe for him to make his getaway. He went to Epona, who was waiting for him by the post towards the gate. He patted her at first, and fed her a sugar cube, and carefully, without making too much noise as to wake the fortress, he mounted Epona and slowly walked her down the sandy slopes towards the gates.

The fortress was asleep as Prince Link set out again.

~*~

****There is actually a history behind this story. I used to be a HUGE fan of The Legend of Zelda, the Ocarina of Time, and I used to play it constantly on the N64. I had two younger sisters, and my youngest sister didn't understand the story very well, so instead of explaining to her the entire ordeal of the goddesses, the Triforce and the Temple of Time and everything, I made up short stories to tell her, and I would play them out on the game as I told her the stories.

The Gerudo Prince was the first, and the favourite****