Well, even I didn't know if it would happen, but I actually finished another chapter. Sorry it's been so long (again), but I've really just been busy with life and stuff, and lost interest for a bit. Hopefully I'll be writing more frequently again, but I'm not going to force it. Chapters will come when they come. Oh, and no more review replies in-story, since ffn has finally added a reply option. All reviews will receive replies, because I'm thankful for all of you who take the time to read this!

A cool wind blew through the stone window, causing Hama to huddle deeper inside her sheets. Though during the day it was the hottest place in Hyrule, Gerudo Valley's chill nights could be equally as threatening as the sweltering afternoons. Turning in her bed, Hama's mind raced with thought, as ever, and sleep eluded her, as ever.

It had been nearly two months since Kirandorf, Ganondorf, and Nabooru had left the Valley. There had been absolutely no word from them, which surely meant that the Sheikah girl had succeeded in her goal. So why was her mind plagued by worry, night and day?

She thought of Nabooru, the unfortunate casualty of her scheming. She had not wanted Nabooru involved in any of this; she had tried everything to convince the fourteen-year-old to remain in the Valley, but the girl was too enthralled with Ganondorf. Hama could not let Nabooru's foolish decision affect what had to be done.

She thought of Kirandorf, of what he would do to her if he had somehow managed to live. On nights that sleep finally did claim her, her dreams would be haunted by him. She could almost feel his vengeful punishment, and would wake howling in terror. But no—that was foolishness. He most certainly had to be dead.

Most of all, though, she thought of Ganondorf. She truly did love the boy like a son (though, of course, like nearly all Gerudo, she would never know what having a son really felt like). Miranii, may the Goddesses bless her sleep, had been her best friend, and to condemn Miranii's only child had been the most difficult decision of her long life.

Hama turned in the bed once more, her short, graying hair brushing against the cucco-feather pillow. The hair felt more brittle each day. She was no longer young, a fact she was reminded of daily. She held stewardship over Gerudo Valley in wake of Kirandorf's (permanent—she forced the thought) absence. But she needed to prepare a successor, something that would take several years, if she even had that long left. She had intended that successor to be Nabooru, but she was almost certainly dead now. There seemed to be no other potential candidate in the village, however. Those that were strong and bright enough were too devoted to the old ways—they could never be convinced of what needed to be done to secure the Gerudo people's longevity. And those that were not so attached to the old ways were too foolish to lead a nation, albeit a small one. Curse Nabooru for following her lust rather than her duty!

Growling in frustration, Hama stood from her bed, wrapping her sheets around herself for warmth. There would be no sleep for her tonight. As she walked toward the door, deciding what she could occupy her mind with in lieu of sleep, she suddenly stopped and dropped the sheets to a heap on the ground. She forgot about the cold, she forgot about the indecency of her nightwear. All she could do was stare, and speak a single word.


A massive figure stood in her doorway, blocking the only exit from the room. He wore the same black traveler's gear and white cape as he had when he had left, though his white hair and beard had grown since then. His eyes were fixated on the wall, unmoving. Kirandorf said not a word.

"Y...you're back!" Hama forced her voice to steady. "Thank the Goddesses you made it; we were beginning to worry. Ganondorf and Nabooru are with you as well?"

"They are not." Nothing more came from the king's mouth.

Hama willfully gathered her composure. Lifting the fallen blankets, she replaced them on her bed, though she did not turn her back on her visitor. Picking a long nightshirt from beside the bed, she slid the garment over her head, feeling somehow more confident with the more decent covering it allowed.

"Where are they?" she asked. "I would not expect you to return without them." She chose her words with precision, not wanting to alert Kirandorf to her involvement in a conspiracy to kill him. She hoped that he did not know of it already.

"They will be returning before long." Still, the King's eyes refused to look on her, and stared ahead as if frozen in place. "I shall announce my return at first light. I will also be residing here. You may relocate to a room downstairs."

"You aren't staying in the Spirit Temple?" Her surprise was so great, that the words burst from Hama's mouth before she could squelch them.

"No," was his only reply, and he turned to leave the room. As his body turned, his pupils still remained fixed in one direction, until the eyelids overtook them and only the whites of the Gerudo king's eyes could be seen. Something about it both unsettled and nauseated Hama.

Left alone, Hama's thoughts raced wildly as she began to gather her belongings. Kirandorf did not seem himself. Though necessarily stern enough to lead his people, the king had always been gentle and warm toward them as well. It was possible that he was just weary from the long journey; but it was also possible that he knew everything.

Hama knew of the reputation of the Sheikah. There was no question that the girl would have met them, as Hama had given her precise instructions as to their destination, yet Kirandorf, and apparently Ganondorf and Nabooru as well, lived. So the only possible options seemed to be three. She had been killed, she had been captured, or she had been forced to escape without fulfilling her mission. Hama sincerely hoped it was either the former or the latter—if the girl had been captured, Kirandorf could have forced information from her.

A contingency plan was necessary. Hama had to act as if Kirandorf (and, indeed, she herself) knew nothing, but think as if he knew everything. He was a formidable opponent—well and again her match physically—but with a little luck and a lot of planning, she could remove him as an obstacle. That had, of course, been her plan for years. Umbar Fait's offer of aid had simply been an easy way to execute the plan. Or, it was meant to be an easy way, but even the vaunted Sheikah had bungled. She could count only on herself, now.

And so, Hama, former steward of Gerudo Valley packed her belongings, and she plotted. "Former steward" was not a title she was satisfied with.

In the middle of the Haunted Wasteland, silent except for the mournful howl of the ever-stirring sands, a melody drifted in the air, carried by the wind. It was a low, almost saddening tune, and yet against the stark deadness of the desert it would seek out ears, calling to them with its voice, if only there was a soul to hear it. The blowing sands before the Desert Colossus swirled, suddenly detouring around an unseen obstacle. There was a shining of light within these sands, and then the melody stopped, leaving a lithe figure in its wake.

Erryn tucked the small harp reverently into a holster on her back. The instrument was a sacred and powerful magical relic of the Sheikah, created in conjunction with the royal family's Ocarina of Time. This was the first time she had been permitted to use it—her thanks would certainly need to be bestowed to His Majesty.

Moving through the night, Erryn was practically invisible due to the combination of darkness and obscuring sand. A thick cloak covered her traditional blue and white Sheikah garments to protect her from the chill air of the desert night. She walked briskly in the direction of the Gerudo village. Though the Gerudo thought, arrogantly, that only they could navigate the Wasteland (and, even then, only the kings), the Sheikah had long known the lay of every corner of Hyrule, whether they were welcome or not.

A guest tonight
I did not forsee.
We meet again, fair Sheikah
How fortunate for me.

Erryn stopped in her path, an annoyed twitch of her eyebrow indicating just how little she desired the Phantom Guide's company. Wordlessly, her hand fell to her waist, and her circular Tek'talla sliced through the air, cleaving the Poe in two. A small, smiling green flame remained behind in the space the ghost had formerly occupied, then with an ethereal laugh, faded. Of course, the thing would be back—you couldn't kill a Poe that easily—but it would leave her alone for the time being.

Eventually reaching the small shrine that stood halfway between the Colossus and the valley, Erryn began to follow the flags that delineated the correct path. She soon reached the river of sand. With a quick burst of speed, she leaped into the air over the flowing quicksand, though it would have been obvious had anyone been watching that she could not hope to complete such a jump. Instead, she flung out an arm, and from her cloak flew a long wire with a weight attached to the end. This wrapped several times around the flag post at the other end of the river, and she pulled on this wire to increase her momentum and swing across to solid ground. Unwrapping the wire from the post, she returned it to her cloak, and then continued to the large gate that barred off the village.

Erryn had no interest in alerting the watchtower guard of her presence, so rather than climb the gate, she moved to the natural wall that the mountains formed beside the gate. She removed two small chisels from her satchel, and forced them into cracks in the stone. She continued this process until she reached the top of the wall, higher even than the guard's post at the gate. It was a short distance along the top of the rock wall before she was directly above the Gerudo Fortress. A single woman patrolled the fortress roof. When she was a safe distance away, her back turned, Erryn slid down the mountain to land on the roof, then immediately leapt over the edge, swinging through the window directly below her.

She landed in Hama's room, which she had been expecting. The other woman was awake, which she had not been expecting. Hama jumped in surprise at Erryn's sudden entrance, and the Sheikah rushed forward, clamping a hand around her mouth before she screamed in shock.

"It is me. Keep silent."

The Gerudo nodded in understanding as her pulse began to return to normal, and Erryn released her. Moving to the doorway, Erryn slid the curtain shut as Hama berated her with an angry whisper.

"Why is Kirandorf still alive? You assured me that he would be dealt with!"

Erryn responded with an angry whisper of her own. "What are you talking about? I saw him killed before my own eyes. The boy and girl escaped—I am here to await their arrival."

Hama glared daggers at the young girl. "Kirandorf is alive and well, and has returned to reclaim his place as king. The Gerudo cannot thrive under this antiquated patriarchal system! I agreed to rule the Gerudo under the authority of your King Fait under the promise that the King of Thieves would be dealt with. But it seems the abilities of the Shiekah are vastly overstated by rumor."

The insult had its effect. Erryn took a single step forward, a threatening finger pointed at Hama. "You will not deride the honor of the Sheikah, Gerudo."

The older woman did not respond, but was instead staring at the doorway behind Erryn with eyes wide with shock. The girl turned quickly, but it was too late. Kirandorf's fist collided with the side of her head, rocketing her into the wall to slump to the floor.

"That is all I wanted to hear, Hama. My curiosity is sated." Kirandorf stepped toward Hama.

The Gerudo woman backed toward the wall, pleading. "No, my king... what you heard, that is not really the truth! It was a ruse to gain Fait's trust, I swear it!"

Kirandorf pulled his broadsword from the scabbard on his back. With a shriek, Hama leapt from her window in an attempt to escape the king's wrath. The guards on patrol who came to investigate the scream would find her body crumpled and broken on the stone beneath the window. It was a long fall, and she was not the young, lithe Gerudo she had once been.

The Gerudo king turned from the window, his broadsword remaining unsheathed, and walked back toward Erryn, still lying on the floor. As he stood before her, though, the Sheikah's eyes shot open, and she kicked out at Kirandorf's knee with blinding speed. His leg bent backward with a crack of bone under the force of her kick, as no leg is meant to bend, and the Gerudo fell to the ground.

Rolling to a crouch, both Tek'talla were removed from their place on Erryn's belt, and she swung them at the prone Gerudo. Kirandorf rolled out of the range of the strike, however, and Erryn rolled in the opposite direction, fearing a retaliatory attack. As she stood, she watched as the old warrior opposite her took hold of his broken leg, and with a jerk of his arms and a loud snap, forced the bone back into place. His face did not betray even a hint of pain, and he stood up, ready to face her, though his knee should have been shattered.

"Why are you here?" Erryn demanded. "You should be dead. I saw Dorcas and His Majesty kill you."

That was when she saw the scar tissue on the back of his neck and his throat. That was when she saw that no matter how his head turned, his eyes remained fixed on a single spot, never looking at her. Her breath caught in her throat, and her next statement was in a terrified, hushed voice.

"You are dead, aren't you?"

A humorless laugh came from the Gerudo's mouth. "Very good, girl." He then leapt forward once more, with no indication that his knee had ever been broken.

Backed into a corner, Erryn was on the defensive. His broadsword came soaring down from above her head, and she raised her Tek'talla in defense. The attack was deflected, and she caught the weapon underneath the blade of one Tek'talla. She twisted it aside in an attempt to disarm the dead king, and struck at him with her second weapon.

She was foiled, however, when he pulled backward on his caught sword, overpowering her completely and wrenching broadsword and Tek'talla from her grip. Her attack was deflected harmlessly off of his large gold bracelet. Continuing the motion of swinging back the broadsword, Kirandorf used the hilt of the weapon to fiercely uppercut the young Sheikah, lifting her from the ground. His free hand then shot out, catching her by the neck and holding her against the wall, her feet dangling several inches off of the ground.

Erryn instinctively dropped her second Tek'talla, both of her hands grasping at the hand on her throat, desperately trying to escape the choking hold. Her struggles were futile however, and the image of Kirandorf's face, filled with bloodlust, eyes staring somewhere to the left, faded into black as she fell into an oxygen-starved unconsciousness.