The Twin Kingdoms

A/N: Ah, the third installment of this series… I started this one because Desert Rose has a set enough time limit that it will be okay to continue on the journey without finishing it quite yet. My head's been full of ideas for this world, so lets home there's some enjoyment to be had. Keeping with the feel of the other stories, this is Sheik centric. However, it's not first person like the first fic because it doesn't need to be. I have reasons but am too lazy to state them.
Warnings: yaoi, violence, angst

The current timeline:
A Ruby Surrounded By Sapphires, Chapters 1-18
Desert Rose
A Ruby Surrounded By Sapphires, Epilogue
The Twin Kingdoms

Lets go! On into the sunset!

Chapter 1
Terrible Awakenings

Zelda had not Dreamed in over half a decade. Her night hours were filled with love of her husband and her children, both Phoebe and the unborn babe within her womb. Things had been so simple and wonderful that she did not think she would ever Dream again.

It was as confusing as the Dreams had ever been. Darkness, clouds, devastation of her kingdom, they all mixed and swirled together into the nightmarish world she thought had been prevented. She watched as horsemen stormed the land, killing and pillaging her people. She watched deadly magics turn the crops to dust and make the vary air boil. She watched as Light upon Light was snuffed out in the horror that was war.

When she awoke, she was in Slade's arms, heard his voice whispering soothingly into her ear, his long hair brushing against her skin. Zelda clung to him desperately as tears raced down her cheeks. It was so much worse than Ganondorf. Now, she had children: Phoebe sleeping in her room with her quiet protector, the new child within her, growing and nurtured by her own body. She wept that they would know the horrors of war and death and everything terrible.

"What did you See?" Slade murmured so softly, his deep voice was nearly soundless. She couldn't speak, burying her face against his chest. She didn't want to face it, didn't want to be strong, so Slade let her be weak for just these moments, let her be safe and comforted in his embrace. She would pull herself together later, but for now, he let her cry.

It was very disturbing to see tears on his wife's face. Slade had only seen her cry three times: when she was reunited with her brother, the birth of Phoebe, and when she discovered the second child. Zelda was a strong woman and knew tears did very little but make one's eyes burn, so she did not cry for small, insignificant things. This scared Slade more than having awoke to her thrashing in the nightmare.

"They're coming," Zelda whispered. Slade held her more tightly. "They're coming and I don't know if we can survive it…"

Slade tried to think of some way to reassure her, but nothing came. So, he held her, tried to give her strength, and hoped it was enough.

----

Sunlight had an aroma all its own. He could smell it above the dust, dirt, and grass of the field, above the scents of flowers and of human sweat. It was a smell that brought one peace and tranquility.

A downward strike was blocked easily and a returning jab sent off. Wood groaned and cracked as it hit over and over, slaps resounding in the air. The dozen children were in orderly lines, working up and down their column as they practiced. He walked through them, correcting a hold here, a movement there, complimenting one strike or another. The children listened intently to his advice and he could see them improve almost immediately as they learned through the practice what his words meant.

Soon, the sun would be high and they would all return home for lunch. He only taught them in the mornings when it wasn't so hot, and they spent the rest of the day with chores or play. The mothers were glad to have time for themselves and could see the improvement in their younglings, the discipline they were learning. He was gentle with them, but the children knew he was no man to trifle with.

"Mother told me to come find you, Sheik."

He turned, glancing at the tall, black haired girl with soft gray eyes. At nearly thirteen, Star had blossomed in the last year and was the envy of many a young man within Kakariko village. Sheik felt oddly proud of her, but could be counted on to chase off any suitor he didn't care for. Star took it all with a resigned sort of patience.

"Thank you," Sheik murmured to her, then looked at the twelve younglings. "Practice is over. Get home and clean up for lunch."

A few gave little disappointed groans, but those who had worked as hard as they could were grateful for the rest. Their bodies ached and hands were scraped, but it felt of determined perseverance and a job well done. Sheik couldn't help the stab of fondness he had for each one.

"It looks like Chiro is finally shaping up," Star murmured appraisingly, arms folded under her bosom. A covered basket hung from one elbow.

"I was worried," Sheik admitted. "He seemed to be lagging and getting frustrated, but the problems he's had have all but disappeared now."

"I'm glad." She turned to him, gray eyes shining. "Mother made lunch."

Sunlight always smelled so much sweeter after hard work.

After lunch, Sheik followed Star back to town after gathering the training weapons up. The wooden swords and shields had been crafted by the children themselves under Sheik's strict guidance and watchful eye, and each had their names carved upon them. Sheik kept them with him only to soothe the worries of mothers who didn't want their boys beating upon one another. He didn't fear this himself, but could understand that childhood tempers were hot and fierce.

Sheik could remember a time when talking from one side of the village to the other was less than an hour's journey. Since then, it had flourished and doubled in size. Work men spent nearly a year carving out more space from the mountain side, once they'd gotten permission from the Gorons. They had been most helpful after it was explained that Kakariko only wanted a little more space, and not the entire mountain side. The Gorons ended up carting off the chunks of stone from the rock face and returning neat bricks of a specified size later on. Sheik assumed they ate the remainders, but no one asked such a rude question.

It was still not even half a day's journey across town, but the increased size had been odd to get around at first. Now, with more citizens and their shops (wanderers from various areas of the Field found Kakariko a nice place to settle) it could have been on the verge of becoming unrecognizable. If the citizens let it, of course. Instead, the original settlers of Kakariko and their progeny sought to keep their heritage and customs alive, even as they incorporated such things from their new neighbors.

Sheik lived very near the graveyard and in as much of the outskirts as Kakariko had. His home was small, but he liked it that way. He spent so little time within it that anything more would have been excessive. In all actuality, he still didn't feel he needed it, but Aridine insisted upon it. He'd gotten help from Kiris's husband Jemri to build it.

In town, Sheik kept shop where the old healer had and went in every few days to brew more draughts. Anything that would stay good a while was kept in stock. Otherwise, it was brewed when needed. He had a regular enough schedule that the villagers could find him and any given time if there was need of something, so he didn't worry about staying in the shop to receive customers and the like. Frankly, Sheik had little need of money and only charged in the ingredients were difficult to come by. More often than not, they weren't.

As there was nothing to brew that particular day, Sheik went on home to drop off the practice swords. He'd agreed to help thatch old Condor's roof once he was done with the children. The poor thing was dotted with holes and would fall in any day now. Sheik put the swords up in their chest, careful not to damage them worse than they already were. He'd just finished when he heard his door shut.

It had been a great while since Sheik fought anything fiercer than a five year old throwing a tantrum. Thieves tended to leave his home alone, for he kept little of value there. Never the less, he was still quick to drop to the ground and swipe the intruder's legs out from under them. A moment later, he sat upon the man with one hand on his throat and the other reared back to strike.

"Well this is certainly an odd welcome," murmured the blue eyed, blond headed man.

"Don't sneak up on me, Link," Sheik returned as he let go. He taller man only grinned and took the offered hand to pull himself up.

Link stayed in Kakariko enough to call it his home, but he refused to. To Link, it was a lovely place to visit and stay a few hours, days, weeks, or maybe months, but his home was within the lush forest of the Kokiri. The bearer of the Triforce of Courage was one who would never be tied down to any place and wandered to his leisure. Sheik didn't mind this much, as he was rarely gone for more than a month or so, but there were times when he rather wished to have the companionship. He never mentioned this, of course, for part of what he loved so dearly in the other man was his wandering spirit.

At first, Link had stayed by Sheik's side nearly obsessively. The five years apart had made him wary and protective, but Sheik understood this and though it annoyed him to some extent, he didn't comment. The behavior had calmed down after a month or so and then it was as if they'd never been away from each other. It was easy and smooth. Then the anxiety of staying on one place for so long started rumbled to the surface. Sheik had been frightened at first that he was loosing Link's heart. An explanation found that it was just Link need to wander freely.

"How is Phoebe?" Sheik asked absently. This latest jaunt had been to the castle to visit his dear sister. Link and Zelda's relationship was sometimes strained, but they loved each other very much.

"She's tricked Tallic into training her," Link said and there was a hint of pride. Sheik couldn't stop his soft smile. Much as Slade hated it, his daughter had decided from a young age that she would follow in her uncle's footsteps and become a great hero of Hyrule. Sheik only hoped that she never got the chance to prove it.

"Tallic has been wrapped around her little finger since the day they met," Sheik murmured, and then was stuck by how long it had actually been. Three years had passed since he returned from the desert. He'd been so preoccupied with his home and lover that he'd almost forgotten about the tribe of warriors kin to him.

"You could go visit them," said Link as he caught the look on his lover's face. He couldn't quite hide the fact that he didn't really want him to go. Link liked to know where Sheik was and for the last three years, it had always been Kakariko. It was one of those things he'd gotten into the habit of expecting. Still, he wouldn't keep Sheik from his people. If he wanted to go, he could. Link would likely end up following.

"Ro would burn me alive for being away so long," Sheik murmured finally, sitting down at his small table and resting his head on one hand. Link sat down across from him and set his folded arms onto it. "Then she'd feed me to the orphans."

"Not a tempting fate," agreed Link with a lopsided grin. Sheik reached over, running gentle fingers down the other man's cheek.

"I'm glad you're back," he said softy. He didn't say 'I'm glad you're home' because Link did not call it home.

Link leaned into his touch and smiled gently. "Me too. I've missed you."

Sheik could not understand why Link always said that. He supposed it was true, the way that they knew they loved each other was true, but he didn't understand. If Link missed him when he was gone, he shouldn't be gone. He blinked red eyes in surprise at his own thoughts, barely able to stop his lover from noticing. This was not the time and thoughts like those were not things he wanted to face anyway.

Old Condor was forgotten as the lovers welcomed each other back.

----

It was often said that the elders could smell a storm was coming days before it hit. They themselves would agree with the statement, nodding their heads sagely, and then smile toothy grins at the younglings at their feet.

Sometimes, however, they smelled storms of an entirely different kind.

Dae'rin'tul, Archmage of the Sheikah, stared into the unforgiving desert of his home with pursed lips. The air was static with the promise of something happening, something unlikely to be good. He could feel the expectation winding through his entire body and pulsing through the ethereal river.

"I hoped I wouldn't be the only one here," murmured a soft voice behind him. He turned, regarding the other elder, then gave a brief nod of greeting. Belkanin rested her hands on top of her cane, staring out through her long, loose, white hair with eyes that saw better the spirit than the form.

"So, there really is trouble brewing," murmured Dae'rin'tul softly. Belkanin nodded a little and closed her eyes.

"Disturbances…The river is frothing angrily with the need to quell them. She calls for aid…"

Belkanin has always been a cryptic woman, but Dae'rin'tul still appreciated her words. That was why he was an elder.

"How long do you suppose we have to prepare?"

"Not long…" She opened her sad pink eyes. "There is nothing to prevent… The child has been sent off and the dragon angered. The snake spins round the lion's neck and whispers in his ear. Death is coming for all of us."

Dae'rin'tul covered his eyes with one ancient hand. He felt cold with dread, but one did not prepare by running scared. The village had to know. And…

"Send word to the boy."

Belkanin nodded gently and hobbled on her way. There was no question of who the boy was.

----

A/N: Welp, hope this has tickled a few minds.