EVERYTHING HAS A SOUL
Ashlotte side-stepped his strike with relative and practiced ease, being forced on her right knee to avoid the blow. Link swung his mighty sword around in a vertically large arc in an attempt to compensate for his previous miss, again, cutting only air as Ashlotte had dodged a second time. Seeing an opening in his defense, Ashlotte brought her ax in and slammed the flat side into Link's chest, knocking the wind out of him and sending him to the ground.
Link landed with a heavy thud and a grunt, the impact knocking his sword from his hand. Not able to recover fast enough, Ashlotte came in without giving him a chance to recuperate and pinned him down with her knees, and placed the blade of her ax on Link's neck.
Gasping in surprise and the cold of the steel on his hot, sweaty neck, Link gazed up at his conqueror. Ashlotte's eyes were soulless, no emotion could be seen within. She was, in appearance, human, but her eyes, however, were not. They were golden in color, something very rare even in Hyrule. Only the Gerudo tribe bore yellow eyes, but in a sense, this maiden's eyes were...unique.
Neither moved for a while. The wind whisked by through the trees of the forest, idly sweeping the green grass surrounding both warriors. The animals had long since scurried away when the clash of steel resounded throughout the wooden trunks and branches, the leaves that littered the ground were kicked up and disturbed by the vicious assault that had transpired here moments ago.
Link continued to analyze his opponent. Her beauty was eerie and enchanting, in no way unpleasant, almost childish. Her hair was a lighter shade of purple, almost violet, with hints of gray and curly bangs on each side. Her lips were also a lighter shade of purple, but darker than her hair. Around her head was a bonnet with a metal ring tied by a red ribbon piece around her chin. Despite the color of her hair, which seemed more gray than anything, she seemed to be very young, about Link's age in appearance.
Her dress was a darker gray shade, a heart shape in the middle of her chest, right where her heart would be. The dress seemed like a battle suit, there were rings of steel around her legs, her skin was very pale, as if she were a vampire of sorts. Hanging from one of the rings around her legs was a cross, black with a circular piece at the top where it connected with the ring.
On her dreadfully skinny arms, large battle gauntlets protected her fingers and fore-arm, seemingly too big for her. Her dress was over layered with metal plating, forged to fit her size just perfectly. The sleeves of her shirt barely reached half-way past her biceps. Despite the slim nature of her stature, Link knew her strength was past her physical appearance. He had learned that earlier when she confronted him, demanding he surrender to her wishes.
The green cape Link wore was tattered and ripped in areas by Ashlotte's ax blade, he had received cuts upon his left arm, just below the elbow, and his right knee had a nasty gash from a rock when he was knocked down. His hat was crooked on his head, more likely the cause of the battle that he was rapidly running out of tactics in.
The tunic he bore, was mixed with the forest green it was threaded in, and the crimson red of his own blood. Whoever this young woman was, she had effectively tired him out and managed to subdue him.
"...My masters have commanded me to bring you to them. I will obey their orders." Ashlotte said, her voice unfeeling, somewhat soft but obviously devoid of emotion. Link raised an eyebrow silently as he squirmed under her. The position she had him in rendered him motionless, his hands were locked at his sides by her knees, and her weight held him down. The straddled position also refused Link even a small amount of ground, a small amount was all he would need to throw her off. But then there was the case of her ax on his neck line, and even more so, it was held steadily yet hard enough to draw small drops of blood from him.
Link felt himself relax, there was no point in struggling. The silent hero opted to try again later when the odds were no longer against him, he had his ways of evading capture, it was all a matter of timing for him.
He was just glad Ivy wasn't here to see him as he were. The dangerous dominatrix would never let him live it down for as long as he lived and would laugh about it forever.
Link hated himself at the moment, right now he was tied to a wall in some mountain his captor had drug him too, with, Link might add, scary relative ease. Ashlotte, as Link later learned her name was, had strength that exceeded Rock's. And that was a feat in of itself!
The young hero learned that this Ashlotte was created by a cult, who were responsible for him being chained to this stupid wall, originally to track down a widely known golem, called Astaroth. Apparently, Ashlotte had completed that quest. Link knew his friend, Maxi, would not be happy with that news, he had wanted for so long to be the one who ended Astaroth.
Despite his situation and injuries, which were currently being treated by Ashlotte, Link chuckled quietly to himself at the irony surrounding him. Ashlotte looked up, a bit in confusion and cold calculation.
"Do I amuse you?" She asked automatically, genuinely curious. Link turned his gaze to her and, despite knowing she was an enemy, Link wasn't giving her an angry stare or a spiteful one. His was just childish thought. Ashlotte analyzed the young Hylian's face, and the soul in his eyes. She found herself somehow intrigued by him, she had never crossed a mortal such as him. Most men she encountered in the outside world always had the same thing, fear, cowardice, greed, and hate.
Never having thought on much of anything but her assignments, Ashlotte began to wonder why her creators wanted this young man before her in the first place. From what she knew of him was his ears were longer than anyone else in the world, and that he was, in fact, from another world entirely. This was confirmed by his ability to command magic, the kind he used could not be found on this plane.
She also thought those ridiculously long ears and strange hat was kind of cute...Ashlotte suddenly looked up in self-confusion, she never thought of anything like that before. But, as she gazed at Link, as her master had said his name was, she continued to find that word being linked with his image.
Of course, with that cute outer-shell of his, he was also very dangerous when need be.
The iron maiden never encountered an adversary such as him before. Link had almost defeated her, hands down, he was extremely skilled and stronger than many of the warriors she encountered outside of her home.
Link, examining the warrior, or maybe she was a hunter? He would never know, but he thought her features were cute as well. He found himself blushing at his own thought, scolding himself mentally as she was the reason he was here. Had it not been for Ashlotte, Link would be back at camp with the others and not rotting here in this gloomy dungeon with a most beautiful girl standing before him, patching his wounds-.
Link mentally slapped himself silly and looked away.
Ashlotte caught sight of the blush on Link's face, although, she was unsure what it meant. She herself felt a little warmer than usual and felt her cheeks. They were heated, much to the warrior-maidens confusion, she could not process the meaning of this. She felt something in her tell her to look away, to look down, avoid his gaze. It was then she realized what it was.
She was shy.
Furrowing her brows in deep thought, she tried furiously to make some sense of this, feeling, that she never experienced before. The mechanical piece in her chest turned, emitting a little clicking noise and catching Link's attention. He gazed curiously at it, raising his eyebrows in surprise.
'Is she some sort of device? Never saw that coming, but it explains her impressive strength.' Link thought to himself.
Ashlotte, catching Link's obvious interest in the clicker in her chest, was unaware that she was smiling.
"It's a small device to help me live and think clearly." She explained, analyzing Link's eyes as they locked on hers at the sound of her voice, to which he found himself enjoying more and more with every word. The younger hero's reaction was evident, he was stunned. Ashlotte emitted a small sound, a quiet giggle, to which stunned herself at the sudden action.
"...Why do you need such a thing?" Link asked, his voice was raspy and scratchy from not being used in months. For some reason he never felt a need to speak, even when spoken to, he answered with simple gestures. But this person, was different. Not counting his current situation, Link felt he could be open with her.
Ashlotte looked up, having decided to think on that sudden action from earlier later and finishing the task of cleaning and patching Link's wounds. His voice was kind, gentle, and soothing yet strong, fierce, and sharp as steel. Almost like music to her ears. Remembering that he had directed a question to her, she answered.
"I was created two years ago for a specific task, and to replace my predecessor. Astaroth proved to be defective, he had rebelled against my masters wishes and gone rogue. I, however, proved to be far superior to him, both in intellect and competence. But I am too young to be able to live on my own, this device is to help me live." Ashlotte explained, a hint of pride and happiness in her voice. She felt good talking with Link, it was nice to speak to someone rather than discuss missions to be carried out and commanded to do something at every hour she was active.
Most of all, it felt good to speak with Link in-general.
"It seems to me that you have no freedom...do you follow these men willingly, or are you slaved to their will?" Link asked quietly, the question took Ashlotte aback for a moment. She never thought about it before. Now that he mentioned it, she didn't like the idea of serving these people. She didn't have the freedom to move on her own accord, to sleep when she pleased or speak unless spoken too first.
She quite honestly hated the thought of it. It downright disgusted her.
She felt her hands clench angrily, Link's words helped her realize that she was being used, not but a pawn of the cult, nothing more. Link gasped, she was still holding his arm when she began to tremble in anger. Ashlotte seeing this, released Link and felt something else in her heart.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that..." She muttered, the heat on her cheeks increasing in intensity. Link grunted in reply as Ashlotte gathered the material she had brought with her and took her leave. She stopped at the door of the massive chamber, giving Link one last glance. He had followed her movement with his own eyes, they both stared at one another for a little while longer before Ashlotte stepped out and shut the massive wooden door silently behind her.
Walking to her so called master's dorm, Ashlotte planned to ask why they wanted someone like Link in the first place. Hooking to the left in the dimly lit hallway of the underground tunnels within the mountain, she stopped before a door made of black oak. The symbol of the cult was embedded in the wood, above it was an image of a man with snakes surrounding his head. That was the sign of the cult leader.
Knocking on the door, she reasoned it would be best to hide her new-found thoughts, reckoning that the change was best left unnoticed to the leader so as to not arouse suspicions. Receiving the answer to enter, Ashlotte opened the door and entered the dusty and rustic room.
Sitting at a table with several books was the cult leader, he seemed to have had his nose stuck in another book about the spirit swords she was tasked with finding. He looked up, like all the other members of the cult, he wore a shawl to hide his face and a thick robe hid his body. The only thing visible from underneath it all was his eyes, brown and intelligent. But she could see the sinister and malicious glint that was always evident in them.
"Ah, Ashlotte. How is our guest?" The old man asked brightly. Ashlotte secretly scoffed at him, keeping a straight face and her emotions hidden, she responded.
"The specimen you have requested has been healed." She replied monotonously. The man let out a chuckle of satisfaction, he reached over and grabbed a book and handed it to Ashlotte who remained motionless. She only did so because he did not command her to take it from his hand, she had an image to keep up after all.
'How ironic.' She thought to herself. The man sighed to himself, remembering how she was taught to act in the presence of her superiors, he muttered for her to take the book. Acknowledging his command, Ashlotte snatched the book from his hand, earning a surprised look from the elderly man but a shrug nonetheless.
"Ashlotte, your new assignment is to 'obstruct' the energy and magic from the boy and pass it over to this shard. With that done, our search for Soul Edge will go more smoothly." The leader instructed.
"As you command." Ashlotte replied with fake loyalty. The man handed her a shard of Soul Edge, it was much larger than the others, and pulsing more violently with energy. With the pieces she needed, Ashlotte turned and left the chambers to study the book.
For some reason, this revelation frightened her. Another emotion she never felt, fear. It was not for herself, but rather for the young Hylian she had quickly grown attached to. She barely knew him, but he had unlocked things in her she never knew were there, he gave her a soul. How he did this was a mystery to her, but she cared not about that now. Extracting Link's essence to empower the shard would mean removing his soul and fusing it with the piece in her palm.
The thought made her angry.
Several weeks have passed, and each day went by with Link dangling his feet in the air out of boredom. The thick chains were too strong for him to break, and the cult had sealed his power away, so he could only dangle from the wall and await whatever they had planned for him.
Not one day had gone by that Link had not seen Ashlotte's shinning face. Each day he saw her, he also saw something changing in her eyes, he could see life in them. She was growing her own soul, he could see it. He wasn't sure if she was aware, but he spoke with her when she came by, exchanging points of views and thoughts on matters.
Today, when Ashlotte came in, there was an urgency about her that confused Link. She even had her weapon with her. The sight of the heavy weapon on her back threw Link off, according to her she only had it with her when she was going to be in some sort of fight. She approached him with something in her hand that was hidden by the enormous gauntlet she wore.
She reached up and began fiddling with the shackles binding Link, glancing at him briefly with what looked like a tear drop running down her cheek. Now Link was beyond confused, and angered at the sight, not knowing why he was but he felt a need to look out for Ashlotte, she was beginning to develop her own thoughts and feelings when he met her, and he would be damned if someone would upset her.
"I'm getting you out of here." She explained quickly. The hero raised an eyebrow at this, inwardly he was relieved, but also, skeptical. Was this some sort of trick? Whether it was or not, the warrior-maiden seemed in a hurry. Link concluded she was telling the truth, he hadn't yet told her about lying.
"Why are you doing this?" Link asked, Ashlotte looked up after releasing his right arm and allowing it to dangle at his side. Link had long since lost all feeling in them, the blood had flowed from his arms after being kept up in the air for so long.
"They want me to take your soul and put it in a shard of Soul Edge, I refuse to allow it to happen. So I'm going to take you far away from here!" She answered hastily, "Link, you brought out some feelings in me I never would have had if I never met you, I enjoy these emotions in me...I don't want them to die out, I don't want to become a mindless weapon again." She added in whisper after releasing Link's other arm, the loss of his grip making him fall to the ground. Ashlotte jumped down from the stand she used to meet his height and helped him to his feet.
"My sword..." Link grunted, he hit his head when he fell, all was a blur to him. Ashlotte pulled the blade out and the rest of Link's equipment off a nearby table and hastily donned them on Link's back. She pulled him to his feet, he had difficulty standing and walking, but he managed with little help from Ashlotte. She led him to the door and made sure no one was coming before taking his arm and helping him out. As quickly as she could, Ashlotte walked down the hallway, searching for the exit.
The sounds of angry shouting and feet moving in from behind them, the cult had caught on to Ashlotte's action and were closing in, she looked behind them to see the shadows of the guards coming towards their hallway. Sighting a hidden passage to her right, she pulled Link in and held him against the wall. The sound of the group approached, eventually passing by without noticing their presence.
Link fumbled with his pouch, reaching in to find a bottle of potion to help remove his grogginess. He found one, deep in his pouch and Ashlotte watched as he pulled the larger bottle out of the smaller pouch with interest as he popped the cork and downed the contents of the bottle. His strength seemed to appear as if from nowhere, he suddenly could stand without aid and his eyes narrowed with the cold glint of a warrior.
Ashlotte found herself wondering what was in that potion.
Before she could ponder it, Link shot out from behind the hidden wall and bolted down the left-hand passage. Ashlotte quickly caught up with him, taking the lead and directing them both towards the exit. After dodging several more members of the cult, the two had finally found a way out. A small river from within the mountain itself led to a spring at its foothill.
Members of the cult armed with crossbows suddenly appeared around them, blocking them off from any other passageways except the small stream before them. The leader of the cult appeared from behind the gathering of black robes, his eyes were narrowed and filled with anger.
"Ashlotte you traitor! How dare you deny our god's wishes! Ares shall strike you down with his spear for this treachery!" He hissed angrily as he approached the two. Link, despite the crossbows aimed at him, drew his sword and before anyone could think of what was going on, impaled the cult leader through his neck with the Master Sword.
"Tell him to try it." Link growled as he ripped his blade free and kicking the wide-eyed leader backwards, bleeding to death from the wound in his neck. Gasps arose from around the robed men, someone yelled some sort of command in the language of the cult and arrows began to fly. Link grabbed Ashlotte and jumped over the cliff before any of them could be hit, yelling as they descended.
Link awoke with a start, his head hurt and his left leg was in pain, he couldn't move it. It must have been broken when they both hit the bottom of the waterfall after the small stream led them to a larger river and then into a tall waterfall to which he and his new found friend tumbled over. He blacked out when he impacted with the bottom.
Slowly opening his eyes, Link was met with Ashlotte's golden eyes staring back at him with relief. He tried to sit up, but she held him back from getting up.
"Slowly, your leg was broken and you hit the water a little too hard..." She whispered. Link rubbed his head with a grunt, he was cold, and still wet. But he noticed something different about Ashlotte as well, the heart shaped device in her heart was gone.
"What happened to that thing in your chest?" Link exclaimed, she had told him it helped to keep her alive, if it was gone it couldn't be a good thing for her...and quite frankly, Link didn't want her to die. He had grown attached to her, and she had rescued him from being absorbed by the evil blade. Link was indebted to her.
"I took it out, I don't need it to live anymore." She explained, smiling. "But...I still haven't developed my own soul..." She muttered sadly. Link chuckled at this, reaching up and cupping her chin in his hand gently.
"Ashlotte, everything has a soul, including you. You just haven't found it, yet." the hero replied with assurance. He pulled her into an embrace, the action sending a wave of warmth throughout the iron maiden and causing her to gasp in surprise. Slowly, and uncertainly, she wrapped her arms around him and returned the embrace.
When Link released her from his grasp, they both felt a little too warm for comfort, each could see the blush on their face and knew they sported one as well. Link was the first to smile warmly about it though, giving Ashlotte a comforting feeling.
"When this leg heals, I should get going. I still have a job to do. What about you?" Link asked after a moment of silence between the two. Ashlotte gazed around, unsure of what to say, she had no place to go, and with the way she looked the rest of the world would surely shun her. The cult was her home, but if she went back, whoever succeeded the last leader would probably have her executed for treason.
Then another thought hit her.
"...Would it be fine if I traveled with you?" She asked shyly, thinking it was a silly question. Link's smile became more of a grin at her response.
"I was hoping you would say that." He answered. Ashlotte smiled, happy he agreed. She could feel her heart beat increase and her eyes widen when a sudden warmth pressed against her lips. Link had placed his upon hers in what she believed to be a kiss, though she never had one. It was brief, as Link pulled back, a soft look in his eyes and Ashlotte merely blinking. She didn't want that warm sensation to end so soon, so she pulled him back into a kiss of her own, catching him off guard. Link closed his eyes and Ashlotte followed suit, enjoying every second of bliss she could grab from this moment.
A/N: Thanks to OneWingedHeron53 for the idea! Originally the pairing was presented to me by another reader/author, hope they found this good.
Special thanks to AngelEyes87 for taking an interest in my stories recently, her support in one of the pairings I'm trying to get popular is much appreciated. If you're reading this AngelEyes, first off its an honor you took an interest in my writing recently as I admire your work more so than most, and I just want to say thank you!