A very strange take on the Legend of Zelda series, but one that will be very interesting all the same if I can pull it off. Contrary to the title, this has nothing to do with Nabooru. The big kicker is at the very end of this chapter, to tell what it's about.
Goddess of the Sand
(The Oasis and the Sandstorm)
The whirling mass of grainy sand stung his skin, digging into him, even under him, or so it seemed. It was hard to tell how anything felt with all his senses so muddled together. How did he get himself into this? It seemed so long ago, but it was only an hour or two. He peered out from behind his scarf, desperately trying to pinpoint anything at all. He had searched for what they had said; he had tried to find the phantom guide. This was a ghost, one who supposedly led those who asked for help through the hazardous desert. He had not seen heads or tails of the thing. The hollow echoing of the wind roared over his coughing, struggled gasps. It was difficult to breathe with all the dirt he was inhaling. He shielded his face with an arm, blindly staggering through the desert as his footsteps sank into the sucking sand.
So…so this was it. This was how he was going to die. Beaten to death by sand, alone and buried in the desert. Would he even be remembered? As the provocative, brooding thoughts swirled in his head, he collapsed to his knees, falling face first. Soon, his whole world fell into the darkness of unconsciousness.
Pain…he awoke to a throbbing sensation in his head, and his trembling hand reached up to touch his neck. It was sticky and thick, crusted over with dry blood. His dusty, bruised hands were tied together with rough, bound rope which was knotted a few times. He coughed loudly, arousing a fresh cloud of dust to breathe in. Forcing his weak body to move, he sat up to take in his surroundings. Suddenly, a sharpened point of a scimitar pressed against the flesh of his neck.
"Don't move, or I swear I'll slice you in half."
"Who are you?" he chocked out, trying blindly to catch his bearings. Layers of dust speckled his eyelashes, irritating his eyes and causing them to water.
"Who I am is none of your concern." The captor bent down on one knee and lifted his chin for a moment, just so he could get a blurred look at his fate. "Welcome to your nightmare…" With that, the bound man felt a sharp pain in his head again, and for the second time blacked out, unable to stay conscious any longer.
"Where…where am I?" he asked, as he felt a sweet wet sensation on his neck. He was lying on his stomach, and his entire body was chained to the table to make him completely immobile.
"You are in the Gerudo's Fortress." The voice answered plainly, pressing the wet rag to his neck again.
He winced and sucked in a sudden breath, tensing and then relaxing. "What do you want with me?"
"That is simple. You are to be a slave to Shilah, the queen of our tribe. We do not permit most men to live, but she seemed interested in you. You should be thankful."
"I will not stay. I will find a way to run. I am a slave to no one." He struggled in vain, rattling his chains as they stretched to their limit.
"Watch your tongue. You would be tortured beyond what most men are capable of surviving. Do as you are bid, and you shall live. It will not be difficult."
"Why are you soothing my wounds?" he asked, as he felt the sting of his cuts ease into a cool moist sensation.
"The queen does not like dirty slaves. You are to be shaven and taught the ways of the Gerudo. That is my job."
"And who are you?" he asked, craning his neck to catch even a glimpse.
With a sudden jerk, he was pulled upwards, and flipped to his back. "It is not your business to ask who I am." He finally saw her clearly…it was a young woman, probably about his age. Her long, straight hair was pulled back into a ponytail, held in place by a jeweled clip. Her tan midriff clearly showed; her billowy pants and tight top were decorated with intricate zig-zag patterns. She leaned into his face, and began to shave his scruffy chin, staring at him as well. Her delicate lips held a white lipstick, and her amber eyes were shadowed with an equally white layer of make-up.
The man's face she stared into had un-kept hair, as tangled as a brush. It was a blazing red, as flaring as a wildfire. His own orbs were a deep brown, almost swallowing her in his gaze. He had a definite fit figure, but it was banged up, as if he had been treated harshly. He wore a sort of desert clothing that spoke of one just entering for the first time, a crimson scarf and brownish clothes. Numerous holes were worn into his pants and shirt, showing his own dark skin, though it was not dark enough to protect him from the desert sun.
"Am I finished yet?" he asked quietly as she rinsed his chin. It was embarrassing to have a woman take care of his hygiene and refuse to stop.
"Not quite…but the next thing…it's a little painful." She sounded as if she regretted doing it.
"What is it?" he asked, gritting his teeth as he thought of what it could be.
"Slaves are branded. On their backs…" He heard a sizzling sound and saw a heated iron out of the corner of his eye. "That way you get returned if you try to run…"
"Please…don't. I'm not good with pain. I'll do anything else…anything."
"Oh…" She glanced towards the door for a moment, and drummed her fingers on the table. "Bend your head sideways…"
The man did as he was told, though he was still really nervous. "Please don't press too hard then."
It took only a moment, and the woman spoke again. "Take a deep breath and hold it…now."
A stinging sensation made its way through his ear. "Ow!" he exclaimed, struggling to hold it and ease the pain. "What was that?"
"There. Now you're not branded, but you're considered one of us…" She walked over to him, and unclicked the part of the chains holding him to the wall. He could now sit up and walk, but was burdened by a chain across his ankles and another binding his wrists.
He sat up, and reached a hand back to feel where it was sore. His fingers enclosed around a small steel round object. "You…you pierced my ear."
"It's better than being branded. Besides, it makes you look more handsome anyway," the Gerudo stated as she readied the brander for its next victim. "In a few minutes, you are to appear before the queen for the first time. Here's my advice: Be a dog. Serve her on your hands and knees. Whatever you do, don't speak unless you're spoken to, and don't try to run." She left the room for just a second, and returned with a golden tray. She handed it to him, and surveyed him for a moment. "Hold on." She closed in, unsheathed her scimitar, and with a swift motion, cut off his shirt, revealing his bare chest. "There…" She placed a few fruits and assorted delectable foods on the tray and nodded. The man thankfully looked at her, and reached for a grape. He received a stern smack on the hand. "It's not for you, stupid. It's for the queen."
"Oh…" He rubbed his hand. "Sorry."
She sighed, and gave him an annoyed look. "Just don't do anything like that in the royal court." She pushed him out the door, following behind. "Take a left at the first doorway, and a right after that. Good luck."
The man wasn't so anxious to do this. He took a few moments to compose himself. What was the use of that? He was a slave now…it wouldn't matter anyway. He followed the woman's directions, and silently stepped through the doorway.
The royal court was definitely ablaze with color. Women were everywhere; he couldn't find one man…not one. All activity froze as he entered, and he was scrutinized harshly. There were three figures in the middle of the room, all behind a veil-like structure. As the veil parted, he could see they were also women. It looked as if they were seated according to their status. The lowest one glared at him, her golden eyes spitting venom. Her lips were parted in a scowl, and her green eye shadow was thoroughly caked on to accentuate her expressive eyes.
The woman seated just above her seemed to be nervous. She hid herself so he couldn't get a good look at her, and kept her head bowed towards the ground. Her hands remained on her knees as she sat cross-legged.
He assumed the highest was the queen. He froze in hesitancy. The woman wore rich garments of silk and satin, veiling almost her whole body from sight. Rising off her throne, she threw the cloth off, revealing her body like all the others. Her lips were a jet black, clearly distinguishing her from all the others at a glance. "You there! Slave! Come here!" she ordered, tapping a staff she held once against the floor.
It took a moment for the command to reach his head. He hadn't realized that she was talking to him, until the awkward silence told him so. He rushed forward, through being sure not to trip over his chains. He bent down on one knee, and held the tray up, not daring to look up into her face.
"You dare not to look into the face of your queen? Very good…" Her hands enclosed around the tray and she picked it up, setting it down to the side. "Come closer, let me look at you."
Not daring to disobey, he obliged. "I'm sorry if…if I'm not what you…" He remembered that he was not supposed to speak, and clapped his mouth shut.
"Insolent creature!" the lowest of the three stood to her feet, and gave him a sharp kick in the ribs. "How dare you speak to royalty without being commanded!"
To the man's surprise, the queen pushed the woman back down roughly. "Control yourself, Titani," she hissed angrily. "I should be able to do as I wish…without you interrupting me." Again she faced the man. "You are a handsome one. I'm glad I kept you with me. Go to your quarters. I will call you again, when I get bored."
With a nod, he quickly took his leave, unsure of where to go. "Hold on!" He turned to see a veiled woman approach him. It took him a moment to realize that this was the middle one. "I'm sorry…about Titani. She's the queen's advisor. She hates all men. I just wanted to tell you. Your quarters are the bottom floor, last room. Stay there until you are summoned…I'm sorry."
Before he could say anything, she threw something on the ground, and a bright flash filled the air. When he looked up, she was gone. "Wow…" he marveled. "I've got to learn how to do that." He followed her directions and ended up inside his own quarters. He may have been a slave, but he had a keen sense of direction. It was darker inside than most would have suspected. Though the sun was brightly beaming down outside, the inside of the cramped room was murky and dark. Well, he would fix that. It took a moment, but he succeeded in ripping off the cover for the window and spilling the rays of the sun into the dark room. It was an absolute mess. A few rats scurried back to their holes at the sun's intrusion, squeaking angrily. Broken pottery held the remains of some rotting flowers, and a moth eaten bed sagged in the corner.
He wrinkled his nose thoughtfully. Tossing his cloak over the bed, he fell back onto it, and with a sudden thump, the mattress collapsed onto the ground. "Brilliant," he sighed. Partly because he was suddenly a slave to a group of desert women, and partly because he was stuck and couldn't seem to get up, he began to chuckle. Soon that chuckle exploded into a laugh as his natural sense of optimism took over. It had been an alright day. Sure, he was a slave until death to a race of killers, but hey, he got a free place to stay. Altogether, it was a rather sweet deal. He liked to look on the bright side of things.
He whirled around to see the girl who took care of him earlier. "You did great," she said simply.
"How do you know?" he asked, trying to look as natural as possible while he was caught in the mattress's clutches.
"Because…because I watched from the sidelines." She stammered quickly.
"No you didn't." He raised a hand and waved it carelessly. "I would've seen you. I was looking."
"You were looking for me?" she asked, starting to sit in shock. When she noticed the termites crawling throughout the wood of the chair, she quickly changed her mind. "Really?"
"Yup." He nodded, smiling. "You may be strange, but you're the only friend I have here. Could you help me out? This mattress is killing me."
Suddenly, the girl laughed. It was a beautiful, joyous sound. She reached a hand out and helped pull him out. "You consider me your friend?"
"Well, sure." His hand reached up to feel his pierced ear. "You saved me from the branding; you helped me find my way around here."
"Oh…" Her tan complexion flushed. "It was nothing…just forget that."
"But why did you come here in the first place?" he asked curiously, stretching his limbs.
"I came to say you did well. Also…I'm sorry for the way you're treated here. I…" She looked around, as if worried someone was watching. She leaned close to him and whispered. "I don't believe men are inferior. That would be considered treason here."
The man raised an eyebrow, and bent back in to her ear. "Why are we whispering? We're in a closed room…no one can hear us."
The woman slowly shook her head. "You have a lot to learn. Our race specializes in secrets, spying."
"Hold on. Before you go…" The man reached out, and touched her shoulder lightly. She turned to face him, her eyes unblinking, but a smile on her face.
"What's your name?" he asked, tilting his head with a genuine smile as well.
"My name?" she repeated, looking startled. She flushed again, and shuffled her feet, aimlessly kicking at some rocks in the dirt floor. "I'm Mirami, the Gerodu."
"Mirami…" He nodded as he looked towards the ceiling. "It suits you."
"And what about you?" Curiosity encircled Mirami like a python, pressuring her to know as much as possible.
"Me?" He winked at her, opening his door for her as she slowly exited. "Your queen affixed me with the name 'Dorf' or 'weakling'…"
"Not that name. Your other name…your real name." Mirami tilted her head towards him as she stepped outside.
He chuckled to himself. "Boy, you don't give up, do you? Alright, alright…Dragmire. Marikir Dragmire, the Hylian. Most of the people I know just call me…Mark."
Catch that? If you didn't, you'll have to wait until the end of the book to find it out. Hope you enjoyed it…