A/N: Well, here we go; the next chapter. Also, people have been asking that the girls meet, and I'm going to say now that that will not happen. I planned it to be that way from the beginning, but there will be some surprise appearances in this chapter, and it will be as close to the girls meeting as the story will get. To answer a question left by a reviewer, Saria is a Hylian in this story, but she still looks like the Saria we all love. I do not own The Legend of Zelda. Enjoy!

~Moon White Rose

Chapter 21

People pressed in on Ivy from all sides, but she wasn't worried she would get lost; her grip on her uncle's hand was like an iron vice, making the risk of getting separated an impossibility. Together, the two wove through the crowd, almost to the point that it seemed as if they were having to dance, just so that they wouldn't risk colliding with something, or someone.

"This is crazy!" Ivy yelled to her uncle when they were forced to stop at a particularly congested area of the market. "How can anyone find anything in all this chaos?!"

"Don't know," Dark yelled back, a slight hint of pain in his voice. His niece's grip was painful, but secretly, he was glad for it; it was letting him know that she was still there. He never should have brought her with him; her claims of this being crazy and chaotic were absolutely right. And if I lose her in this mess, he thought when they were able to move again, losing my hand due to lack of circulation will be the least of my problems.

He knew without a doubt that his brother would kill him if he lost Ivy; he knew this because he would kill Link if he were to ever lose Miera and Mason while they were in his care. "Hang on to my hand Ivy, I mean it!" he bellowed over the noise as the registration tent finally came into view.

"I am!" she yelled back in exasperation, but she wasn't sure if he heard her. They were forced to stop again and Dark groaned internally at the sight that met him. Even with all seven stations opened, it would be probably two hours before he got the information and seal of approval he needed. His mood soured even more and he wished once again that he had not been the one stuck with this task. Ivy on the other hand was having a good time; yes it was crowded, and noisy, but it was a new experience, and she was convinced nothing could dampen her spirit.

Or so she thought. It finally dawned on her that they hadn't moved in a while. She stood on her tiptoes, trying to figure out what the holdup was, but it was no use. "Uncle Dark, why'd we stop?!" she yelled, as she released his hand to tug on his on his sleeve in case he didn't hear her over the noise. He looked down at her, than crouched down slightly so that they were eye to eye.

"What? What's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong. I just want to know why we stopped." Dark smiled slightly before ruffling her hair. This was not going to go over well with his rambunctious niece. Really, what had he been thinking when he agreed to let her come?

"Because squirt, we've arrived. Get used to standing in one place kiddo; we're going to be here for a while." Ivy jaw dropped. He couldn't be serious… could he? When he didn't start laughing and say he was kidding, Ivy knew he was being truthful.

"But Uncle Dark, that's boring! I thought you were coming in here to look around!" Dark smiled apologetically and mentally hit himself for not thinking to tell her that he wasn't coming in here for fun. He'd have to make it up to her later….

"Sorry Ivy; we'll look around later, I promise. Now, stay next to me, and thanks for giving my hand the chance to heal. You've got an iron grip squirt. Remember, stay close." He ruffled her hair one more time before standing. Ivy wasn't amused.

Great, she thought as she tried to smooth out the mess her uncle had made of her hair; thankful he had at least left her braid alone. I've been looking forward to this, and I'm this close and I can't look around at all. It's so unfair! Ivy folded her arms, mad beyond words could describe. As mad as she was however, she didn't consider sneaking off for even a moment. As badly as she wanted to explore, she didn't want to do it at the cost of getting lost and the 'joy' of a sore rear once she was found.

She was certain she could wait; after all, how long could this take?

Twenty-five minutes later, she was ready to throw a temper tantrum, regardless of who's lap she'd end up over. She was fed up with standing around, the shouting, and the squished feeling she had been dealing with since entering Castle Town. I wish I had stayed with Mother and Daddy, she thought as the two of them were able to finally move forward a bit.

Just as she was about to scream, just for the heck of it, Ivy noticed something that caught her attention that made her eyes go as wide as dinner plates. On the ground a row over, getting kicked around by the shuffling feet was a red rupee. Ivy could scarcely believe it. Naturally, she wanted to run over and scoop it up, and she probably could; she was slender, and on the shorter side. Would that be running away though? She figured it wouldn't be, since she was just going to go get it. Glancing at her uncle to make sure his attention wasn't on her she dropped to her hands and knees and began to weave in between people's legs.

Often, she had complained about her height, and said it wasn't fair that she looked barely ten when she was twelve, practically thirteen, but now she was happy about it. It was working to her advantage, and about a minute later, she had the red treasure safely in her pocket. Maybe coming with her uncle had been a good idea after all. I better get back to him before he realizes I'm gone. Ivy decided to walk back; the dirty ground wasn't worth crawling on, now that she had cleaned it of the money. She struggled to her feet, and quickly realized it was a mistake.

"Get to the back of the line!" the man now behind her yelled. "You wait your turn, freak," he added as he pushed Ivy behind him, which in turn aggravated the people she was now in front of. Soon she was getting pushed all over the place and her cries fell on deaf ears.

"I'm not trying to cut!" Ivy attempted to explain, but it was no good. "Uncle Dark!" she finally screamed when she realized reasoning was getting her nowhere. It was no use; her voice was swallowed up, and quickly, she found herself at the very back of one of the lines that stretched out before the tent her uncle had been waiting to get into. She stared for a brief moment before attempting to penetrate the crowd; she was not one to easily give up and she had to get back to her uncle, or else she would be skinned alive.

All too quickly however, she was pushed back out, and Ivy realized she wasn't going to get back to her uncle. She thought over her options. Should she wait here, or try to return to her parents? If she went back to her parents, she could just tell them the truth; she had bent down to pick up some money, and the crowd forced her to get separated from Dark. I'm sure they'll believe me, that is what happened… sort of. Deciding to find her way back to her parents, she took off.

The going was slow and Ivy grew more impatient by the second. How could grown-ups move with it being so crowded? She could barely move, and she was small and agile; at this rate, it would be nightfall before she found her family, assuming they stayed where she and Dark had left them. When someone pushed her and she fell down, Ivy knew she had to find space immediately, or potentially risk being trampled, as no one was stopping to avoid stepping on her. "Someone, help me get out of here!" she had yelled with all her might, and it got her attention, but she quickly realized it was not attention of the positive kind.

A Hylian who looked to be in his thirties locked eyes with her. He had a tangled brown beard and his long hair looked matted and oily. He smiled and Ivy saw dirty yellow teeth. He stepped forward and the steady flow of the crowd parted, partially due to size, but largely due to his stench which made Ivy gag. In a flash he had Ivy by the wrist. "Whas a purtty thing doin all alone? This place can be… dangrus." His voice was slurred and Ivy knew he had been drinking. Her father often pointed out drunks to teach her and her siblings that drinking was something he never wanted them to do, and Ivy was more than inclined to agree.

"Let me go you greasy slob," she demanded, hitting his large, dirty hand with her free fist. The man bellowed out in laughter and as if she weighed nothing, he scooped her up and threw her over his shoulder. Her face collided with his greasy hair and her nostrils filled with the vile odor of his unwashed clothes. Tears blurred her vision and she gagged repeatedly. She didn't pay attention to where she was being taken; all she was worried about was not suffocating on the stink that shrouded her captor's body.

After what seemed to be an eternity, but was really only a minute, her abductor dumped her on the ground and Ivy took in deep, greedy breaths of air. It wasn't the same level of clean like the air in the country, but it was far better than what she had been choking on seconds ago. She took in her surrounding, and realized she was in an alley that was nestled between two stone buildings. Garbage sat in heaps here and there, and the stone road was dirty; in some places the stone was completely gone. To the right, the alley continued on, and to the left she could see the mass of people who were attending the festivities. She tried to bolt, but a beefy hand grabbed her shoulder.

Apparently the man was drunk enough to slur his speech, but not enough to dull his reflexes. Great, Ivy thought. The man eyed her up and down before giving her a rough shake. "Stop it!" she hissed.

"Give ma any-." He stopped midsentence, swayed, emitted a loud belch, and then glared down at her. "Mon…ey. Now." His eyes were bloodshot, demanding, and beady like a rat's. Ivy straightened up and gave the man her own glare. Yes, she was scared out of her skin, but she had always been good at putting on a courageous face for some reason, and she was thankful for the ability now more than ever.

"Even if I did have money, I wouldn't waste it on you; I don't support bad habits," she proclaimed boldly. "Now let go of me!" She kicked the man in the knee, and he grunted in pain. To her dismay, he grip didn't falter. He straightened after a moment, and then released her shoulder, only to grab her by the ankle. He yanked her leg out from under her an the action caused the rupee she had found to spill out of her shallow pocket as she landed on her rear.

Grubby, dirty fingers wrapped around the sparkling red gem and Ivy felt angry tears well in her eyes. That was hers; she had found it fair and square! Her anger soon left however when the man towered over her, the look in his eyes wild. "You gonna… pay fur lyin!" he snarled, his fist, almost the size of her face, raised in the air.

"Hey! Why don't you pick on someone closer in size to your gluttonous gut, pig face," a voice rang out suddenly. The man and Ivy looked to see a boy, around thirteen, maybe fourteen; standing in the entrance of another alley that branched off of the one Ivy was currently in. He stepped closer and mockery shone in his gray eyes. "Do you need me to repeat what I just said, or do you get the message?"

The drunk turned his attention back to Ivy "Go way, brat. Thus don't cern you." Ivy waited for the blow, but the boy spoke again.

"I've got a purple rupee in my pocket, and I'm willing to bet it. I'm willing to bet you aren't man enough to face me." This had the drunk's attention and he turned his back to Ivy. Slowly Ivy stood, and backed away, until she was somewhat next to the man, instead of behind him. She looked at the boy, and he now had a slingshot in hand. It was at least twice the size of the one she and her siblings played with, and it held a rock slightly bigger than her fist. The boy smirked. "I bet I can have you on your back screaming like a sissy with one shot," he confidently boasted. The Hylian stared, and then broke into a chorus of boisterous bellows.

"Go head an try it. Righ her," he challenged, making an invisible X between his eyes. The boy glanced at Ivy and flashed her a cocky smile, while mouthing the words 'get ready.' She nodded, and her body tensed in anticipation.

"Tempting, but not what I had in mind." The boy aimed low and let the rock fly. It struck between the drunken Hylian's legs; the spot her father had told her to attack if a man ever tried to hurt her. Pained howls filled the air and Ivy bolted, adding a kick of her own to the already injured area. The man screamed again, and Ivy chased after the boy who had saved her from getting seriously hurt. She followed him down one alley and halfway up the next. When Ivy finally caught up, she found him panting heavily by a stack of old boxes and barrels, and she hesitantly approached.

"Umm, thanks for helping me," she said shyly once the two of them had caught their breath. "You really saved me back there." The boy gave her a haughty smirk and brushed his dark brown hair out of his eyes.

"Drunks are fun to mess with when they cause trouble, and I figured I could do my good deed for the day and help the little baby out." Ivy's appreciation for the boy's deed went out the window instantly. Baby? BABY?

"I'm not a baby. I'm twelve years old, thank you very much, and I can take care of myself," she growled, giving the boy a shove. Even though he was a good three to four inches taller than her, he fell at her surprising strength. For a moment he glared, than began to laugh as he jumped to his feet.

"You got guts kid; I really was surprised you held your ground against that jerk. I honestly wouldn't have helped you if I didn't know about the backup. By the way, you got a name kid? Mine's Conner."

"Ivy," she introduced as she shook the hand offered to her. "What do you mean about backup? I only saw you." Conner smiled mischievously.

"Let me guess, this is your first year at this thing, right?" Ivy nodded, and suddenly realized that the man still had the red rupee she had found. "Come on, I'll help you find your family and explain on the way."

"No, tell me what you meant by backup now. Also, I want to get my money back." Conner looked at her as if she had grown a second head.

"You're crazy; besides, the girls have probably taken the loot that slob had. Now come on." Ivy tilted her head. Girls; what girls? What girl in her right mind would go pick a deliberate fight with a drunk? What Conner realized she wasn't going to move, he sighed and shook his head. "All right, I'll show you, but be quiet. I knew they were watching, but they probably wouldn't have a problem turning on us. Their 'alliance' can change in a second."

He went back the way they had come, Ivy at his side, and when they almost reached the alley where everything had started Conner slowed down and she followed his lead. He took a few cautious steps, and then shrank back. "Look, but don't make a sound, or you're on your own. Drunks are one thing… those desert women are another," he whispered, shrinking into the shadows. Ivy stepped forward carefully, and covered her mouth at the sight that met her.

The drunk was passed out and completely undressed, save for his dirty underwear. His hands and feet were tied behind his back and he was lying on his belly. Going through his clothes pockets were two women. Their skin was tan and each girl's long, flaming orange hair was styled into a ponytail; both held back with an amber stone set in silver. Watching the two girls work was an older woman and her hair was held back with a ruby. Unlike the other two girls, she had taken her cloak off, and Ivy took note of her exotic two piece outfit which was a light pink; from her hip hung a sheathed sword which was curved.

Gerudos; Ivy was staring at real, live Gerudos! She had often asked her father about the desert race which had a 'don't hurt us, we won't hurt you,' relationship with Hyrule, but he had never told her much. Then again, the desert dwelling women preferred to be left alone, so not many Hylians knew anything, other than rumors. Instead of feeling scared, Ivy felt curious. It was said that the Gerudo race was one of the toughest races in the world, but her mother had said that they could be extremely loving and caring when it came to their own, and rumor stated that they sometimes helped women and children if they saw them being wronged.

I guess that's why they're teaching him a lesson he won't soon forget. The thought made Ivy glad; maybe the drunk would learn to leave people alone in the future. Suddenly, one of the girls pulled out a few rupees from a grimy pocket and Ivy noticed a red one amongst the green and blue. That's mine, and I'm getting it back.

Swallowing past the lump forming in her throat, Ivy willed herself to walk forward. "Ivy, stop," Conner hissed, trying to be as quiet as possible. Unfortunately, the sound carried in the stone alley, and the Gerudo woman overseeing the other two girls' work whirled around, her amber eyes set into a lethal glare as her hand went to her sword hilt. Ivy froze on the spot and the unnatural courage she normally possessed fled. What had she been thinking; it was just money. I really need to think before rushing into things.

The Gerudo woman looked Ivy over for a moment, than relaxed from her tense stance. The other two Gerudos now flanked her and all three bore amused expressions. "Lose something kid?" the woman finally asked. Her voice was surprisingly soft, and Ivy felt her courage return. She stood straight, and looked the woman in the eye.

"Yes… ma'am. He took my money, and I want it back." The two girls snickered softly, but the woman just smirked, looking Ivy up and down. A soft smile slowly appeared.

"How old are you kid?" she questioned.

"Twelve, almost thirteen," Ivy answered. The Gerudo woman nodded, as if Ivy's words had confirmed some sort of suspicion.

"I thought so. My daughter is you age, and you remind me of her for some reason. What do you think ladies; think the kid should get her money back?"

"I don't see why not Lady Nabooru. We've been doing well so far, and this kid has a Gerudo backbone. I say let her have it." The other girl only nodded in agreement, but was smiling like the others.

"How much did he take from you?" the Gerudo, Nabooru, asked, reaching for a pouch attached to her belt.

"Twenty, ma'am; he took my red rupee." Nabooru took a red rupee from the pouch and dropped it into Ivy's outstretched hand. "Thank-you… Lady Nabooru." Ivy bowed, then turned and ran back into the alley where Conner was waiting. He grabbed her hand and led her back to the crate pile. For a moment he just stared.

"You are the craziest girl I have ever met! Do you not even know who that was?!" Ivy rolled her eyes and stared at her gleaming treasure.

"Yeah; a nice Gerudo who appreciated a little courage. You know, I'm starting to think you're the coward, Conner," she teased, as if they were old friends. He gave an exasperated sigh as he rolled his eyes.

"Excuse me for not wanting to cross the Queen of the Gerudo. The term 'Lady,' is given to whoever is in charge of the race, and in case you didn't know, there is a male Gerudo at this time. Since she was referred to as "Lady Nabooru," I'm willing to assume that that was his wife. So excuse me." He gave a mock bow, his face bearing a scowl. Ivy felt dizzy.

The Queen; She had met the Queen of the Gerudo?!

If Daddy knew that, I'd go over his knee each day for the rest of my life! She gave Conner an embarrassed smile, feeling guilty at her words. "Sorry. I shouldn't have called you a coward. Actually, I think you were really brave to help me get away from that guy. Thanks again." Reluctantly, Conner smiled, and Ivy looked down, suddenly feeling a strange sensation in her stomach.

She didn't feel sick, she felt… happy; that was the best way to describe how she was feeling. "Don't worry about it," he said. "Link I said, drunks are fun to mess with when they're causing trouble, and I don't have much tolerance for bullies. So, where are you from; do you need help finding your family? Not to brag, but I know my way around Castle Town."

"I'm from Ordon, and yes I'd love help. The only thing is I don't exactly know where my parents are. I know where my Uncle Dark is b-,"

"You know Dark and Saria?" Conner interrupted. His face was filled with the look of surprise, and Ivy didn't doubt the look on her face matched his. How did he know her aunt and uncle?

"Of course I know them; Uncle Dark is my Da- father's twin brother. How do you know them?"

"I live in Kakariko too; sometimes they pay my mom to look after the twins. Where is he? I can help you get to him."

"I doubt it. He's at that tent with the super long lines. I got separated from him, and people thought I was trying to cut so I got shoved to the back of the line. I know my parents were outside the castle walls but as for where they are, I have no idea. I guess I'm really lost, huh?"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that young one." The voice echoed in the alley before Conner could respond, and both jumped at it. Conner reached for his slingshot as he bent to pick up a loose stone, but a quiet laugh stopped him. "No need for that boy, I'm not an enemy." A cloaked figure jumped down from a nearby roof, and when they lowered their hood, Ivy's jaw dropped.

The man had blond hair that was wrapped in cloth; the lower part of his mouth was wrapped as well. His skin, what Ivy could see of it anyway, however was deathly pale, and his eyes were a vibrant red. On the royal blue uniform he wore, she could see a red eye shedding a single drop of blood.

A Sheikah; she would recognize the qualities of the race anywhere, thanks to her father and uncle. The Sheikah bowed slightly as he introduced himself. "I am Sheik; head of Queen Zelda's and Princess Serenity's secret protection, on normal days. For the festivities however, I'm here to simply help people anyway I can; whether that is by keeping the peace, protecting people, or helping children who have gotten separated from their families become reunited with their loved ones. I can only guess you need some assistance, young…."

"Ivy, sir," she said quietly as she curtsied. If she thought talking to a Gerudo would land her in hot water, she didn't even want to think what would happen to her if her father, and uncle, found out that she had been disrespectful to a Sheikah. Sheik held out his hand.

"If you'll come with me, than I think I can get you back to your uncle." Ivy took the offered hand, but before they left, she looked back at Conner.

"…I'll be visiting my Uncle in a few months, and I'm way better with a slingshot than you. You better practice… if you want to beat me."

"It's a challenge," he agreed. "Bye Ivy."

"Bye…Conner." He left and Ivy and her Sheikah helper went in the opposite direction.

The feeling in her stomach grew, and Ivy couldn't have stopped smiling, even if she wanted to.

"So, how are we going to get through? They all thought I was trying to cut." Ivy and Sheik were at the back of the line her uncle was in, and Ivy could see not much progress had been made since she had left about thirty minutes ago. For some reason, she felt as if Sheik was smiling as he glanced down at her.

"Just watch." He went over to the back of the row, Ivy at his side. There was no way she was going back into this mess all alone. "Castle Security! Move!" People turned, obviously angry, but a hush fell at the sight of the Sheikah. "Part, now." To the best of their ability, the people obeyed. Sheik entered the chaos, and Ivy held on to his hand for dear life. When she made it back to her uncle, there was no way she was going to let him out of her sight, not for a million rupees.

In a matter of minutes, she saw a familiar black hat and tunic, and much to her surprise, he wasn't looking for her. Did he possibly not even know she was gone? "There he is," she said, pointing his out. Sheik nodded, and let her hand go.

"All right, get back to where you belong, and I hope I do not have to see you again. Enjoy the festivities, Miss Ivy."

"Thank-you sir." She bowed and ran the last few feet to her uncle. When she reached his side, she found that he was deeply absorbed in a conversation with the person in the line next to him. Luck was on her side, and she was grateful. She wouldn't get in trouble; at least not today. As Ivy waited for the line to move, she couldn't believe all that had happened to her in the brief space of half an hour. Definitely one for the diary, she thought happily. She loved keeping a record of her adventures, and she knew she'd be up late into the night writing down this one; the adventure that shouldn't have happened.

About that time, a hand came to rest on her head, and she didn't mind in the slightest as her uncle ruffled her hair. "I'm sorry about that Ivy; I didn't mean to ignore you. Thanks for being patient." She smiled.

"Oh it was no problem; I had plenty to keep me occupied." Dark looked at her in confusion.

"What do you mean?" For a second, Ivy drew a blank, than she pulled out the rupee.

"Oh, I just found something on the ground." Dark laughed and tugged her braid.

"Nice find squirt; aren't you lucky?" Ivy just smiled as she smacked his hand away. She thought of her new friend, and all that she had seen.

Oh Uncle Dark, you don't know the half of it.

A/N: Well, that may just be my longest chapter to date. I am having so much fun with this fic; I kind of don't want it to end. Anyway, thanks to:

Sorceress of Shadows, Griffemon, Fora Beast, Dire Heart, imnotraven16, cybermage/cybermage99(x2), and Arcane Valor.

Well, later!

~Moon White Rose