Hello, long time no see. :)
Okay, I do have a reason for being so inactive. Two, in fact. One, uni, and two, MY FILES WERE CORRUPTED AND DELETED. God it SUCKED. Like, I had four chapters of this story and BANG, gone. Deppressing, honestly. But it's here, so yay?
So, yeah. The stories I based on fairytales were fun, so I decided to do another one! Based on the little mermaid, but with a Hylian twist and my own sadistic flavor.
"Princess, I'm sure you're familiar with this story: 'When the Flood came, the people had a choice; join the water, be one with the blessed curse the Goddesses had brought forth, and enjoy life without the evils that haunted the ground. The ones that chose to step into the pure oceans are the mermen and mermaids. We, who loved the red sun and the red earth too much to leave it, bore the warmth of our blood in our eyes and became the Sheikah.'"
The lady chuckled, running her fingers down the pelt of her wolf-like dog, who was licking his wickedly sharp teeth as he laid his large head across her skirts. "Yes, I learnt it when I was younger than five, as every other child does."
Captain Linebeck winked. "Ah, but there's a second bit of the story that land-lovers omit."
He and the Princess glanced at her caretaker, who was retching over the side of the ship, and gave a soft chuckle before returning to the story. "To answer your question, we need to go further into the story of the mer. For abiding the will of the Goddesses, they were given power over the waves, the tides, the secrets of the Deep, and life far longer than ours, while we toil away on our land and crops. To live, it is necessary that we fish. But, to make sure we don't anger our immortal cousins, it is necessary that we give something back, to acknowledge and thank them for our share of their spoils. And that is why we let go of the largest fish, in honour of their age, and the smallest fish, in honour of young life."
"I personally think that story is a bunch of nautical nonsense," Impa, the Princess's caretaker seemed to materialise out of nowhere, seasickness gone. "The only merit there is to letting those two fish go is to somewhat ensure the population of the fish stays stable."
"Oh, land-lovers," Linebeck gave a lamenting sigh as he wagged his finger at the caretaker. "So little faith. Thanks to this little custom my ships have stayed safe since I founded my company."
"I put that on sound rigging and advanced navigating technology." Impa snorted, rolling her eyes.
"Whatever floats your boat, my lady. How does it go, mates?"
The two that were responsible for handling the offerings shouted back amiably enough before returning to their task, which had suddenly turned a little eerie. "This can't be a good sign."
The creature with a large hook in one of its gills hissed, making them shudder. "One of the other ships must have caught this. You think we should kill it?"
"And get cursed? I don't think so."
"We'll be cursed anyway, even if we return it."
"Damn it." The slimmer of the two gripped the creature in his hands as he instructed the other to take the hook out. There was lots of squirming, swearing, and then along with the largest and smallest fish the thing was tossed back into the ocean, the hook that'd injured it quickly following suit. "Right. Not a word to the Captain?"
"Not a word to the Captain."
Link had been caught out. Again.
He glared resentfully at Aryl, Zelda's younger sister. Soon to be his sister soon, if the mad situation Link had found himself in continued…
He bowed to Princess Zelda, the most beautiful—and powerful—woman under the Hylian waves. Her moonlight hair wavered in the minute currents, beaded in rocks picked in volcano bays, pearls plucked from the midnight seas, and crowned in coral, alive and still glowing. She sat on the thrown carved from lime stone, her skin pale, with a hint of blue and gold that intensified as her smooth torso tapered into an elegant brocaded carp's tail, her icy eyes concerned.
"Link, I cannot understand. Why do you insist on shirking your duties?"
Link's gills flapped as he took a deep breath, the torso muscles rippling in exasperation. "My Lady, that wasn't my intention. I forget—often—that I have things to do outside the Old Coral Halls. I understand we've been engaged for a month-"
"Two and a half," Aryl muttered, making Link wince,
"I'm still processing it." His strong fins flicked, the lines of greenish fin bones waving in the currents. Born with the traits of a cave-fish he'd always been a bit of a hermit, but as far as Aryl was concerned, this was getting ridiculous.
"You should be grateful that you're no longer an outsider amongst us, Link. You should be more grateful to my sister."
"And I am." Link he snapped, barring sharp teeth, "I don't need to be reminded. I'm sorry I missed the concert," he added more gently to the Queen, "I'll be more careful."
He'd said that the time he'd started training to be her husband, when he kept being late to combat and etiquette lessons, the times he'd forgotten to attend court banquets, when he went missing for days and the Zora Knights had been looking for him. Zelda sighed and after the customary admonishing, dismissed him, letting him loosen his muscles in relief before swimming off.
Castleton, the Hylian City, was nestled deep in the Great Sea, right at the edge of a bend of a warm sea current, where some of the heated waters eddied and collected before being carried off once more. It helped also that the city had been built in the crater of a dormant volcano, still leaking heat from its surface. The warmth and the heavy chemicals, rolling and sticking to the rock surface, had over a thousand years given birth to glowing coral. The Hylians had flocked there, and shaped the coral with their tools and magic, and built a glowing City.
The Royal Court, where the 'monarch' was elected in each time, was at the deepest point, at the heart of the city, and as the city rose up the slopes of the crater it became shops, homes, trades' points, and then at the lip of the volcanic mountain, the black sea awaited.
As Link swam away to the cove where he was known to inhabit, his wavering hair moved against the current and a blue claw popped out, followed by the rest of its blue body, white beady eyes nestled in the shiny sapphire shell flashing with anger. "That girl is so rude!"
Link rolled his eyes as he gave his tail a good flick, shooting through a school of glistening fish, and past the cove that was meant to be his, diving straight into the dark sea. "It's Aryl."
The fairy crab nestled in Link's hair trembled with indignation. "She shouldn't be talking to you that way! It is rude, and disrespectful, and unfair, and stupid. Who does she think she is anyway? She's only Zelda's sister, it's not like those two were born into royalty, this is a democracy! Does she even realise you'll have more power than her when you marry Zelda?"
"If I do."
It was Navi's turn to roll her eyes, adding a sigh as she said, "Are we going to that shipwreck again?"
Link's voice was determined. "I'm not finished with it."
Link looked back, making sure he wasn't being followed before sinking down into some dead corral, feeling round with his webbed fingers till he found his rope belt, dangling with seaweed bags full of tools. Tying that round his hips, he dug around again and pulled out a tool best left in the nightmares of the mer.
Looping that into his belt, and careful that it didn't cut him while swimming, the merman slunk into the dark oceans, the cold of the deep seeping into him as he dove where no light reached.
By Hylian law, the human world in general was forbidden. The savage peoples had many a year tormented the oceans and hunted the Hylian community, and so any connection, any contact, was strictly prohibited.
It was that kind of rule that had attracted Link to them.
The only way he could really learn, or try to understand them, was through the few shipwrecks and rubbish that'd rolled down to the ocean floor. He loved digging through them, picking at the wood, opening and closing doors to cabinets and wardrobes to find strange tools and objects, things crafted to surprising beauty, and sadly rotting away.
Some things lasted, like bottles. Link had four, all filled with useful substances. One was filled with florescence, a type of living plankton that flared like stardust when the water was disturbed. With bait, and an air bubble in the bottle, the creatures survived for days and the bubble made them light up; a safer if unreliable light-source.
He shook it as he entered his shipwreck, lighting the dark in a yellow glow as he eased his body through a circular hole in the wooden wall. He picked at the wood around it, and it was hard; then the smell hit him. His smooth face wrinkled in mild irritation. "A corpse."
"Yay!" Navi leapt off his head and swam vigorously towards the source of the rot. "Dinner!"
"Don't stray far," Link warned after her, sliding in a different direction, a smile playing at his lips. His needle-like teeth showed as the excitement mounted, because this one was new, and new ones always had more things intact, and not just the jewels and gold. He wanted another glass bottle, and there were a few small human statues (dulls, dolls, or something) that were beginning to look lonely. The textiles he had were beginning to show irreparable signs of wear, and he'd carved out that extra shelf for more space and now he had spare room…
A human bed lay crumpled, stabbed in the heart by a stray piece of wall. This one clearly belonged to a female human, judging by the carvings and the decorations of the furniture. Grinning, Link examined the cabinet and desk, rummaging through the draws and picking out the sodden papers and envelopes. There were quills and pens, wonderfully decorated, and some of the ink pots had survived. He saw gold, red, blue and green; happily making sure there weren't any cracks in the tiny flasks, he slipped them into an empty seaweed bag. He found something else, a metal stick with some dangling beads on its end. It looked like one of those paper knives (or were they letter knives?) but it was thinner, and had no sharp edge. He put that in another bag and kept searching.
He opened another draw, and was disappointed by the dead flowers that drifted out. Waving them away as they floated near his face he tapped and knocked at the desk, and satisfied that'd it last the trip home, he headed for the wardrobe.
One of the flowers that drifted outside flicked away. Link noticed.
He gripped his harpoon. He watched the other flowers drift outside the walls of the ship, and they also drifted against the current, as if following a passer-by.
Link surged out of the room, frantically searching for Navi. This area was meant to be out of the Zoras' jurisdiction, but there were always those overenthusiastic in doing their duty (probably because they were curious about humans as Link was) and Link wasn't prepared to be caught, not after years of scavenging.
And if it wasn't a Zora…
The body Navi was nibbling on was trapped under some debris, and bits and pieces of white flesh waved off bleached bones and broken skin. "Hey, Link, you were fairly qui-"
The room burst inwards in a hail of splinters and bony teeth. Glowing eyes flashed and Navi screamed and hid while Link desperately swung his harpoon, blocking the huge teeth of the Desbreko.
Its huge head snarled, clamping its heavy jaw onto the metal harpoon again and again and again in a mad determined urge to tear through it and then through Link. Its skeletal body snapped and wrenched this way and that to add to its efforts, but Link snarled right back and held on, spinning his own tail to ram the scavenging/predatory fish into a pile of wooden debris, freeing himself and the harpoon. "Navi!"
Link surged past and grabbed her before tearing out of the hole the Desbreko had made, frantically swimming, looking back, to the sides, anywhere. Desbrekos always travelled in pairs. Or in a…
A pack of skullfish ambushed the Hylian, hungrily scratching at his skin. Crying out Link spun and churned, protecting his face. They were small and their teeth weren't too sharp so they were only an irritation on their own but they could easily crush Navi and not to mention they were only a-
The water pressure told him where the Desbreko was coming from. Link swung round, ignoring the distracting maelstrom of teeth, smashing the harpoon into the side of Desbreko's helm-like head, sending it reeling. The Hylian stiffened his fins and sliced the skullfish through the water, catching a few of them against his sharp bones.
Link dived down, fighting the growing pressure, heading straight for the anchor of the ship. He whirled round it and waited for the Desbreko, gripping the harpoon tight as it torpedoed down to him, rage in its nightmarish eyes.
He swung again. But it learnt from before; it swerved and went for him again and Link gripped the chain and slipped through one of its large hoops and the Desbreko, lodged half its head in it and Link wrenched the harpoon through its spine and snapped it in half.
The Desbreko lost the glint in its eyes, and simply, silently, floated.
Link swum away, muscles aching from the ordeal. The skullfish left him alone, going straight for its dead mother/father thing, destined to wait for it to move, to lead them, till they themselves wasted away without food. "Navi, are you alright?"
She was hard as a rock in his hair. She was terrified.
"We'll get out of here. To Midna, kay?"
She nestled deeper into his hair, gripping so tight his scalp ached. Wincing, Link swam gently up to the forbidden surface, the weaving film that separated the sea from the sky dyed orange from the setting sun.
As the sun set the ship was lined with lanterns and bunting and ribbons. A stage was quickly constructed, and instruments were tuned. The shipmen and the ladies in waiting and the aristocrats that'd followed their lady all dressed up, for once letting the lack of social protocol slide.
The dog barked happily, getting petted and ruffled as his owner got dressed, getting sly bits of snacks from virtually everyone who was setting up the banquet.
The clouds were dotting the sky in hues of purple and green as the orange sky burnt bright with the final rays of the sun. The captain and his navigator agreed that it would be a star spangled night, and were sure from the bottom of their hearts that this night would be a night to remember.
From the surface three sets of eyes watched the ship sale, two glaring, one amused.
"Is that the ship?"
"That's it, Master."
"The one that caught you?"
"No, Master, it was a smaller ship."
"No, but it hurt him."
"Very well. It'll have to be a big one."
"Oh yes, oh yes, Master."
A pale hand rose, pale as the moon, the dead, the foam of the sea. The clouds began to gather, and roil, into a very, very large ring.
Twilight was best for a Hylian to come to the surface, Link had learnt. The sun in the sky was too bright for the sensitive eyes of a Hylian, but sunrise and sunset was perfect, and often the humans didn't come walking along the rocks at this time. And it was mid-tide. Using his fins, Link slithered up the half rock-and-sand, half submerged-and-dry beach, gently depositing Navi next to a large, rather insignificantly coloured helmet-crab amongst the rock pools.
"Hey, Midna." Link tapped the crab's large shell, its whorl black and pitted grey. "Sorry to wake you."
The creature yawned and pulled itself out of its home, the flesh and blood body of the crab a huge contrast to its shell. An orange that ranged from topaz to the very colour that burnt the sky dyed her body, while shots of quartz and emerald flashed at her joints and dotted her impressively sharp claws. Her eyes were a dark blue, as blue and dark as the depths of the sea, and she swivelled them, properly waking up, eyeing both the mer and the terrified fairycrab.
"What did you do this time?" Midna grumbled, "Were you chased by a gyorg?"
Link bit his lower lip guiltily. "Worse. Desbreko and its pack."
"Oh my Din. You must have been pretty deep to have been attacked by those."
The Hylian resolutely shook his head. "We were half way down to their territory. Something brought them up… I think."
"Well," Midna huffed, gently nudging Navi into a pool, where a relaxing massage by some sea anemones awaited her, "This'll teach you, won't it? Stop messing with the humans. Or the Sheikah, as they call themselves. This is your last shipwreck isn't it, now that you're marrying Zelda?"
Link bit his lower lip harder and looked away.
Sighing, and making sure Navi was neatly underwater relaxing, Midna gestured at him with her claw. "So, what have you brought me this time?"
"…Just this," he muttered sheepishly, handing her the decorated knife-ish, sticklike thing. Midna held it in her claws effortlessly, examining the jewels and patterns embedded on it.
"It's probably a hair piece. Either that or a ridiculously decorated skewer."
"Hair piece?" Link asked, failing to keep the enthusiasm from his voice.
"As I said, women tie their hair up round their necks or on top of their head. If not with ropes, with this. They just sort of slip it into a knot and it holds. Either that or it's a skewer. They stick pieces of food on it and roast it over a fire."
Link understood that 'roast' meant 'cook', as the mer did sometimes by digging a hole into volcanic areas and burying food there for a few days. It was dangerous but a novelty for food to taste so different when it was the same, and Link did it often on his own, while the nobility of the mer hired professional 'cooks' to do it for them.
Nodding, Link put it back, not quite sure where in his secret cove he'd tuck this piece of treasure.
Horror tugged his heart. If he were to keep his promise, to himself as well as to Navi… this would be his last piece of loot. "I…"
Midna looked at Link, and then at Navi, and sighed. "Look, there's a ship, full of real humans, just about to land here. Have a look, it'll be your only, first, and last chance to see them. Go. But you didn't hear this from me."
Link looked, and saw the large ship on the horizon, and broke into a smile. "Thank you. Thank you."
He crawled back through the rocks and slipped into the water, the sky turning dark above him, mirroring the sea.
The music was refreshingly unpretentious and fun and beautiful. The Lady danced with men and women and her dog as well, and now was playing on her lyre with the orchestra, feet tired from dancing, stomach aching from laughing. Tears ringed her eyes and she wiped them away quickly, still laughing as she played.
Link heard the music as he popped his head above the waves. His torso was bandaged with human cloth, absorbent enough to keep his gills wet even above water. He was glad for his strange traits as a climber, and using everything he had, not to mention the rope that was his belt, he crawled up the side of the large vessel until he found a nice niche to rest in. Ironically, the ship had a mermaid on its side, and Link lay on top of her to peer in a hole in the side of the ship, where the floor connected to the hand rest, or something. It was a barrier that stopped the humans from dropping into the sea, anyway.
The music, regrettably, was stopping. An elderly human was stepping forward, clearing her throat as she entered centre-stage. "Ladies, gentlemen, as we set our eyes upon the shores of our home… it must be said that we've had an interesting journey. A prosperous one, in terms of trade, a dangerous one, in terms of politics…"
"I said I was sorry, didn't I?" a voice out of sight joked, making the audience laugh.
After an appreciative pause, the speech continued. "But it all's well, if it ends well, as many say. As you all know, the Prince of Holodrum had arranged a gift for our Princess, right before disaster hit us… so we would like to present this to you in turn, to celebrate your birthday!"
Something large and covered in a blanket was wheeled in by some hefty men, and with a large flourish it was unveiled. It was a life-sized marble statue of a woman and a man, the man more pretentiously bedecked in jewels than the woman, and looking quite smug with himself. But the effect of majesty was ruined with the graffiti and doodles that covered his whole stone body. The lady statue that looked up at him with an angelic smile was left clean, and looked quietly amused.
There was a whooping cheer and embarrassed laughter. A young girl stumbled onto the stage, as if gently pushed, and she looked exactly like the statue. So she was the Princess…
Her skin was tanned, lightly, like the sand soaked in sunlight. Her hair sparkled like it too, and her eyes were red, like coral, and anemones and happy octopi. Her dress reached the floor, and unlike the other dresses that bloated out like angry/scared puffer-fish, hers flowed over her body and tapered down, reflecting the light like wet scales. A good looking girl, for a human.
It took her a few minutes to stop laughing so hard, and once she gave an exaggerated bow, waving for silence, she got it as she cleared her throat and calmed herself down to speak. "Alright, I'll have you know, I had no idea that this existed. I don't know whose idea it was to vandalise his sorry image, but whoever did it, you're amazing. You have made this whole trip worth the stress, so thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you all, most of all, for celebrating this special day, and I thank you again for being so patient with me. I know most of you were expecting me to come back as a bride, but… oh you know. He was one pompous git. I mean look at the statue, how self-important can one person get?"
Link choked back a chuckle, imagining how Zelda and Aryl would react to this kind of royalty.
"Anyway…" her voice became less cheery, and her expression serious. "As you all know I turn eighteen, so… I will be losing my name." Solemnly she smiled, looking at each and every one of the humans on the ship. "I will be Sheik. I will bear from now full responsibility for Termina. And, visiting Holodrum, I want you to know that though they have their cities, their money, their technology, it just showed me how wonderful, peaceful, and beautiful Termina is. I am proud to have come from here, from our land. They can call us rustic and old fashioned for all I care. We are from Termina. And I have never been happier, never more honoured to serve you. I hope I don't lose my name in vain. I hope I can be good to you, and to our people. I hope you can travel to other lands and be proud of me, in turn. Impa?"
The Princess knelt, and the old human scattered ashes over the girl's head, and drew, out of Link's sight, an eye with a tear dripping from it on her forehead. "May you be protected, and May you protect. May you be watched over, and you do the same."
"I swear to See kindly, to Watch carefully."
"May enemies quail at your Glare, and may your Eyes shine upon your friends."
"Till the Tears dry, Till the Sight fades, Till I Wake no more: I will Serve."
"Long live Sheik!"
The applause she got was deafening. The celebration started anew, and corks popped from bottles with foaming drink, food was brought out by uniformed men, and the music burst anew. Link watched, mesmerised, at the colour and light and activity of the human celebration, so similar, yet so very different from those of the Hylians. He saw them dance, moving their twig-like, awkward feet, enjoying themselves in such a limited space. They even had one of those creatures, a dog, was it? It looked large and savage with teeth like a gyorg, and even from here Link could smell the odd stench of its skin.
Apparently it smelt him too, as Link watched the dog come at him like a delighted predator, horror bound, its voice like bouts of thunder.
Link lunged to the side, grabbing the wooden side of the ship with all his might, hiding. The dog caused a huge racket above him, scrabbling through the hole he was too big to fit through, whining as his paw scratched in and out, desperate to get at the fish.
"Wolf! Wolf, what's wrong? Did you see another shark?" laughing, the Princess pulled the dog away from the edge and gave him a rigorous rubbing, making him huff in pleasure. Link breathed a sigh of relief as Sheik looked at the sky, frowning at the strange weather patterns as Link winced at his drying gills and decided he had better leave for home.
There was a blast of wind that came from nowhere, sending the whole ship tilting.
The men and women gave shouts of surprise, the ship bucking under them, slowly but surely. Link was tossed off, splashing painfully in the water even as his body relaxed, back in its natural habitat.
When he surfaced to see what the hell was going on, the clouds had covered the star-studded sky in an instant and the wind was beginning to moan. Sheik and the Captain agreed that it was best to call it a night, and whilst the aristocracy hurried to get out of the weather she and the crew helped to pack things up. Flash-storms weren't uncommon out at sea, though it was admittedly unusual so close to shore. But it didn't matter. It was procedure; harmless.
Then the lightning bolt hit the main mast, setting it ablaze.
Um, just to let you know, the updating to this story is going to be jumpy, at best. Sorry. :(
I'd appreciate reviews! XD
See you in next chapter, S.S.