AN: This is the first Zelda fic I've uploaded in quite a while. It narrates the second half of Ocarina of Time from Sheik's point of view. I have taken huge liberties with plot and character. The events of this story are vastly different from the events of the game, but still, I hope, compelling.
This fic is already finished, so I'll be uploading it at a fairly quick pace. Expect new chapters twice a week for the most part. I'm going to aim for updates on Sundays and Thursdays.
Thanks for reading.
I composed the Minuet of Forest while sitting in a tree. The little songs come to me in the way of the idea behind them—they seem to simply appear in my mind. It's my favorite, the minuet. A pretty melody, simple, easy to remember. Six notes. Three beats. Three little steps over the vastest stretches of space.
The songs are powerful, in their own ways, and so am I. There should be no underestimating the guide, the one who has walked the path of the hero to the end and back before the hero has taken one step. I am always before, always out of reach. And when the end comes I will still be before, on the other side, in the place where the hero has yet to tread. My days are numbered, you see. Three steps. Three beats. Birth, life, death. The song is over.
The Sheikah are shadows. We are born to serve. She created me to hide her, to protect her, so that is what I do. She wants me to help him, to guide him, so that is what I do. While she sleeps, I explore, I hunt, I follow, I lead, I help. And I tell my story.
My time passes almost as quickly as the minuet. I have no past, no future. I have only the present. When the hero stands at the end of his path, when she no longer needs protecting, when this world is saved, I will be gone.
Can you imagine having nothing at all in the world to hold in your hands and call your own? Can you imagine the futility of trying to touch something, to affect something, when you know the day of your death, the day you'll cease to be?
It was the first mistake out of many that I'd make. To try to be content. To try to be happy. I can't lead him forever. But because it's all that I have, I'll hold onto it: this hero, this princess, this task. This bond, this connection, whatever it is that I have with him. This life, this minuet.
She was fifteen years old when I met her. An adult by the standards of her world, but to me, she was a little girl in a place she did not belong. The shadow could have swallowed her up in an instant, yet here she was, afraid but no less courageous, hesitant but no less determined. I had never met a creature with such fire in her.
I suppose you could say I fell in love.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her gently.
"I need your help." Her voice was small but strong, and her eyes met mine without flinching. I can't say I know exactly what I must have looked like to her. I didn't precisely have a corporeal form in the shadow world.
"I'm not a soul guide," I told her. "If you've just passed, the guides will help you."
"I'm not dead. Impa brought me here so I could speak with you."
I looked at her. Fair hair, blue eyes, a grave face with delicate features. I am fascinated with faces. Hers was youthful, smooth as newly carved marble, unmarked by the erosion of age. Yet there seemed to me to be wisdom in it, a strange, serene weariness.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"My name is Zelda. I'm the princess of the Hylian Kingdom." She hesitated, then bobbed a curtsy. "It's an honor to meet you, Sheikah."
I had to look around to make sure there was no one else there. Who was this delicate creature, that she, a princess, should curtsy to a Sheikah?
"Please don't debase yourself for me," I said at last. "I'm not worth it."
"I don't consider it debasement, sir," she replied contritely.
Oh, she was beautiful. The warmth and light that she brought to this place—it was a wonder the shadow hadn't consumed her already. Didn't she realize the danger of speaking to a creature like me? For I wanted to consume her, too. I wanted all of her for myself.
"There is no sir here," I said. "Just Sheik."
You may be interested to know that I had never called myself by that name before. Like so many other things, it simply appeared in my head at the opportune moment. She, of course, had no idea of this.
"Sheik," she echoed me as though it were the most natural thing in the world, and at that moment it became my name, the thing that I would be known by for the rest of my life. It was a part of me as much as blood and shadow, and she, who had given it to me, was trapped forever.
I dropped down upon the knees that I'm not sure I had, lowered what head I possessed to the floor, and said to her, "From the moment I step out of the shadows until the moment I return to them, I am yours, my lady. My life belongs to you, and every word I speak, every step I take, is for you. I will do anything and everything that you require, and I will give you anything that you ask for, including my life."
You may be thinking that I made this speech with great vehemence or fervency. Not true at all. Every inch of me already belonged to her. There was no need for fiery, passionate promises. I simply told her what was.
She must have been afraid. There is no real advantage in accepting the life of a Sheikah as your own. We are a cursed race. What we give, we also take, and I could see it in her eyes—she understood, my lady, that she belonged to me now just as much as I belonged to her.
"Very well," she said simply, and I felt my love for her so acutely that it was like pain. She explained what she wanted me to do for her. It was simple enough. A Gerudo called Ganondorf had uprooted the rightful king of the Hylians and taken the throne for himself; now he was searching for Zelda, presumably to kill her. She needed a disguise that was more than a disguise—she needed to hide herself, to sink beneath the consciousness of her guardian and, by all appearances, vanish completely. She wanted me to use her body in her stead until the time was right for her to emerge. She wanted me to hide her within myself.
To be truthful, I did not really care at the time about the war waging in her world, the struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. I did not care who might die and who might live and what the long battle cost to those who fought it. The tyrant king, Ganondorf, meant nothing to me. My only concern was my lady, my princess, who was placing her life in the hands of a twisted creature she knew nothing of. I ached for her.
"There is one more thing," she said, and I thought I saw sadness in her eyes. "There's a boy—well, a man now, really. His name is Link. He got involved in the struggle, in the early days when Ganondorf was not such a danger, and when I—" Her voice seemed to catch in her throat. "Well, suffice to say that he's well and trapped now. The goddesses have chosen him as Hero of Time, and given to him the task of destroying Ganondorf once and for all. It's my fault that all of this has happened to him, and there's nothing I can do to help him."
For a long moment I looked at her. "It's true that I do not know the circumstances surrounding this hero," I said slowly. "But surely if the goddesses are involved then the fault is out of your hands. There is nothing that any of us can do to change the paths given to us. All we can do is walk them."
She looked at me in silence for a moment. "What path have you been given to walk?" she asked softly.
The question struck me so hard that I rocked back from the force of it. Did I have a path? Was I really meant for something more than serving in the shadow of the one I belonged to? She was the first person to ever suggest such a thing, and I was dumbfounded.
My lady seemed to sense that her question had disconcerted me. "In any case," she went on, "Link is currently asleep in the Temple of Time. He was too young to bear the mantle of the Hero of Time, so the goddesses placed him under an enchanted sleep that will last until his seventeenth birthday. He is fifteen now," she added quietly.
"You want me to help him when he wakes," I perceived.
She nodded. "There is nothing I can do for him. And yet—even if the fault isn't mine, as you say, I cannot bear that he must risk his life to save this land and face the Black King, Ganondorf, all alone. If there's anything you can do to help him…"
I bowed my head. "I will, of course, do all that is possible to obey your request."
She was silent once more for a time, looking at me with eyes that were disconcertingly perceptive. "I'm not a very demanding person, or at least I'd like to think I'm not," she said quietly at last. "I think we would work better together if we considered our relationship to be a…a partnership of sorts."
I appreciated my lady's sentiment, but of course she was wrong. Our relationship was not symbiotic by any means. I knew perfectly well what I was—a parasite who would feed off of her as long as she allowed me to live. The least I could do was offer complete obeisance in return.
"You are kind," I told her. "But you would be unwise to trust me."
Her eyebrows arched. "Really."
I tried to explain it to her. "I am Sheikah, my lady. A creature of the shadows. You must keep as much of a distance from me as you can." I looked at her squarely. "As a shadow consumes all that it touches, so do I."
I know that she must have been afraid. But she met my gaze without even a bat of the eye.
"I choose to place my trust in you, Sheik," she said, quietly but firmly. "Perhaps someday you will return it."
It was agony to watch her make her first true mistake. I loved her for her kindness, her courage, her innocence. And because of that innocence, I would someday destroy her. There was nothing I could do to change that. There was nothing more I could say to warn her. I was who I was. And my lady…she would soon find out.
I came to her, and she embraced me in her arms and drew me inside, into the depths of the luminous spirit I craved so desperately. I let her be long enough to withdraw from the shadow world, then I wrapped myself around her mind and pushed her consciousness down into the deepest part of herself, where she could sleep, unhindered by my presence and no trouble to me.
She gave in so easily, without even the slightest resistance. Did she really mean to trust me? Did she actually believe that such naivety wouldn't result in her downfall?
I saw my first glimpse of the world through my lady's eyes. It was so different from the shadow world, and yet it was the same. My path was laid out before me. All I could do was walk it.
To be continued.