Hey! XD I'm in the holidays now so I blitzed this chapter to get it out of the way. The real excitement should start in the next chapter.
Anyway, hope you like, despite nothing really happening, and review replies are at the bottom as per usual.
The sea glittered glass shards and diamonds under the sun, and Sheik had to shield her eyes to even begin to appreciate it. Her dog, as usual, was chasing the spray of the crashing waves, and tossing sand and spinning in circles and tossing seaweed this way and that and Sheik laughed, both in relief and amusement.
At least the animal was the same as always, not even after that storm. Though that may be considered a bad thing, since it just proved that there was no way in hell the creature would ever mature.
Wolf stopped. Sheik rolled her eyes. He stalked towards where he was looking, and then after ripping out a massive grin bounded away, barking (when was that dog going to calm down?) and Sheik huffily followed. She'd learnt years ago that running after him was a pointless exercise, so she walked, let him tire himself out, then watch him come back. Oddly, he didn't come back this time.
Frowning, Sheik jogged a little and was surprised by what she found.
It was that stranger, Link, standing a little ways away from the rocks, looking a little scared by Wolf bounding and barking around him. "Wolf! Behave!"
The dog bounded back and crouched on the sand, tail wagging furiously, waiting for a ball or a stick to be thrown from either his master or the newcomer.
Sheik pointed an admonishing finger at him and growled, "Wolf, no."
Disappointment was obvious as he lay down and dropped his jaw across his paws.
This time Sheik ran, huffing to a stop next to the man. "I'm sorry. He thinks he's still the puppy I found five years ago."
He looked relieved, the frown easing away from his brow, the tension leaving his shoulders. He tilted his ear towards where she stood before enquiring, "Sheik?"
Ah, right. Blind. "Yes, it's me, Link."
"Isn't it early to be walking?"
The princess cocked her eyebrow, but snorted in amusement. "Is it because I'm a Princess?"
His smile was wan as he shook his head. "Just assuming. No-one else is about."
"What are you doing out here so early anyway?" Sheik asked curiously, noting the sand that peppered the shins of his trousers, the damp that gently pressed on his clothes. And they were the clothes reserved for the sick, so had he…? "You should be in the infirmary, shouldn't you?"
"I couldn't hear the sea. And I needed to practice walking." He smiled a little proudly, thumbing over his shoulder. "I don't need them as much now."
Sheik looked at the rocks he was pointing at and found two crutches, wincing when she noted the sand that covered its surfaces, and the gouges at their feet from connecting with rocks and shells. Then she frowned. "What's that bag?"
He nodded. "My belongings, I think."
"Depends on the bag, doesn't it."
"It should have pearls. And gold."
Sheik blinked, and looked from the bag, to him, and then back at the bag. "I'm sorry, but did I hear you right? Pearls? Gold?"
"And possibly worthless paraphernalia." Link shrugged and turned around, taking a slow step forward, dragging his foot through the sand, his hands outstretched for balance. "I realised I had them, so I went looking."
Sheik watched him take a few steps, such strange, wobbly steps. Like a little filly taking its first steps. Then she realised what she was doing, blushed, and clicking her fingers so Wolf would come she hurried towards this strange man, extending a hand to him. "Would you like some assistance?"
"Please." His hand fluttered out and she gently held it, surprised at his firm grip. "Thank you."
"It's nothing, truly."
He smiled in her direction, and by the gods he really did have a pale face. The sun seemed to glow over his skin as if over a pool of water, his liquid topaz hair sliding over his head and blindfold like tufts of little streams. It was almost sickly, yet… his translucency gave him a strange sort of life, as if he belonged to a different world.
"Are we close to the rocks?"
"Oh." They were perilously close, but she said instead (with some embarrassment), "Just arrived."
"My bag, should be…"
"Here." She took it from the rocks, and it indeed clinked and clattered as if filled with pearls and gold and possibly worthless paraphernalia. She hesitated before grabbing the crutches as well, not noticing the two crabs that clutched tightly onto the handles. "You should take the crutches, while I hold the bag. You'll be able to walk a little better, wouldn't you?"
"Thank you." He said again, as he was handed the instruments for walking. They turned around, and they walked in silence, except for the waves, the breeze, and Wolf's continued barking in the distance.
After step after hobbled step, Link cleared his throat and spoke with some trepidation. "I… I do remember where I come from."
Sheik blinked at him, and then frowned. "Oh?"
"I've been exiled. For a… cultural crime."
Her frown deepened in bewilderment. "Cultural?"
"Best explanation I can think of." He shrugged, smile both sheepish and shamed. "I came in contact with the enemy."
She doubtfully walked next to this man who'd suddenly become a lot more complicated than ever expected. "I see…"
"I won't lie to you. I don't want to." He said, heaving a sigh, "But I can't say things. It's… it gets stuck in my throat. Magic."
"I somehow sense a deep paranoia from your situation," Sheik noted dryly, peeking inside the bag, flinching when the lip slipped and a flash of sunlight reflected against some puckered surfaces of gold and silver.
Link snorted. "My people don't like their secrets revealed."
"And I also think that's the longest sentence I've heard from you."
He stopped, and gave a quizzical expression that made Sheik want to laugh. "Really?"
"Oh." He blushed, and he scratched his face as he did so, as if the show of embarrassment discomforted him. Sheik couldn't help but laugh.
"And what were you planning to do with your life in exile?"
"I didn't know. But… now, I would like to spend it with you."
Sheik stopped, and he must have heard her, because he stopped too. He turned his head, and it was as if he could see her through the blindfold because he was facing her, completely and accurately. "I've shocked you."
"Well, yes, I… I mean, I don't know what to say."
"I'll pay with those." He said, jerking his head indicatively. "The pearls I mean. Then I'll work. If you would have me."
"Oh, uh…" Sheik cursed herself, for flattering herself with his words, thinking they had a romantic meaning…"It's just, I mean, my castle isn't exactly an inn."
"What's an inn?" he asked, cocking his head.
Her jaw dropped. "Are you serious?"
"Seriously. What's an inn?"
She almost stuttered, so astounded was she that he didn't know what an inn was. "Where people stay when on journeys? Professional houses that serves as paid shelter for those away from home? A building filled with rooms to be lent to people for a price?"
He seemed to dwell on that, then frowned. "That seems like such a waste of space. Do rooms go empty when business is bad?"
"Well, yes, I suppose."
"What waste of space," Link remarked, continuing walking, "Where I'm from we rely on family for shelter. Or strangers, if one travels far. Don't people drift in and take it for themselves?"
"That's what… oh, never mind." Sheik huffed and caught up with him, before giving him a sideways glance. "Is that how it really works, where you come from?"
"Like I said, no lies to you." Link snorted and shook his head, muttering again about waste of space. "It's fine if you prefer me in an inn."
Sheik sighed, thought on it, and shook her head. "No. With payment, you can stay in my home. As for work, however, I don't know what you can do for me."
"I used to dive for pearls?" he offered, adding as an aside, "When I wasn't book-keeping."
"I don't think anything that involves much labour would be good for you, considering your condition."
"Don't worry," he grinned, "I'm a fast healer."
"Link, seriously, what are you going to do?" Navi wailed, once she and Midna had been deposited by his bed, and not many people were around.
"I don't know," he muttered, pacing along the infirmary wall, his steps now resembling that of a human's. "But first I need see."
"I thought the point was that you can't!"
"Midna, tell her about bots."
"Bats." Midna corrected, clicking her bright claws, "Creatures on the ground, and they're famous for being utterly blind. But they live life as if they can see, and no-one knows why."
"What," Navi surmised doubtfully, "So some sort of whale-song exists here?"
"We just," Link gritted out, as his toe snubbed the floor and nearly tripped him, "need to find it."
They'd called upon the town jewellers, as the castle treasurer back in the capital wouldn't reach them in time. All four of them (tall and short and middling in height, looking pompously dignified in their tailored suits and polished shoes) gathered round and expected the pock-marked goods with keen interest, hints of disgust or greed, but mostly bewilderment glinting in their eyes.
"The pearls are all real, for sure,"
"Yes, and some of them quite rare. Isn't this a blood-ball?"
"The uncouth name, certainly. We distinguished dealers prefer to call them Death's Tears."
"They're both horrible names." Sheik shuddered, looking at the innocent pearl that wavered shades of metallic blue across its surface. It was certainly beautiful, not to mention as big as the knuckle of her thumb, but aside from that the name seemed completely uncalled for. "Why is it called that?"
"How much do you know about a Venus flytrap, my Lady?"
"Just that it's a plant that looks like a clamp and it eats flies, why?"
"I dare say those clams were named after that devilish vegetation. Because these pearls are created in clams as large as your dog, Lady," one of the jewellers explained, "Or perhaps bigger. Named 'Dark Venus' because they devour prey as those plants previously mentioned do. Not only that, to ensure the prey don't escape the clams have what can only be described as teeth, lining their shells. Many a diver has lost a limb to these clams whilst claiming these pearls. Usually, because of the bloodshed, the pearls themselves are stained red or purple…"
"But sometimes, specimens such as these, pure, untainted are retrieved by the most daring and skilled of divers." The one holding the pearl put it back on its velvet cushion, staring at it longingly. "One would never have to work again, if one were to sell this to you."
"The treasures don't stop there, my lady, see…"
And they showed her the gold that once polished was worthy of royalty, of jewels the size of her fingernails, the strings of silver that were once magnificent but ruined by brine, and a porcelain plate that hadn't yet lost its colours or shine. Admittedly most of the contents of the bag was complete and utter rubbish like bent spoons and cracked glass pots and children's hair accessories amongst other things, the meagre treasure would have set him up for maybe three lifetimes.
If the Link himself had come across any of these jewellers to verify the worth of the pearls of jewels, surely he would've been robbed blind.
Sheik winced at herself for that.
"Thank you, gentlemen. I believe it's time to pay I what I owe you. If you would come this way…"
"Uh, my Lady, wouldn't it perhaps be simpler, if we were, well, to relieve you of some of the more worthless of the pearls…?"
Sheik somehow got the feeling that even she was being played. Not by a much, but enough to give these men a better pay. She smiled graciously, however, and gave a little curtsey. "I am most pleased and surprised by your kindness, but I must decline. These pearls aren't mine."
"Ah. Fair enough…"
She gave them more than they were due, and some looked surprised, others looked sheepish. She watched those reactions and took note of them, and pleased with herself for seeing who the honest were (and who wasn't), led them out of her villa herself.
A week passed, Link had been given a guestroom and Sheik had made someone buy him clothes, all at his expense (making the counsellors more distrustful of him). He'd been surprised pearls were worth so much, and a little relieved that the worthless things hadn't been thrown away. It was his decision to do what he wanted with them, Sheik had said, and Link gladly lined his things up on a table by his bed, often touching them when he sat down to relieve the tire in his feet.
He was used to walking now, but still, he was using muscles that he'd acquainted himself with only a few days ago, and the surface compared to home prioritised exercise in different ways.
For one, the land made him feel heavy. He had never felt so heavy before. His weight hurled itself down, and downwards only, so all he had was his feet to take the brunt of the onslaught of weight.
It left the rest of him restless. The sea had been a constant pressure around his body, giving him something to test himself against, something to push back to. Here, nothing. It made him want to spin and turn and flip and circle himself, to somehow use what wasn't being used, and it was frustrating as all hell.
But if he couldn't see where and what he was doing, all he was going to do was injure himself. By the gods. This was driving him down to the dark.
Not that he wasn't already in the dark. Gods.
He really needed something to see with…
He'd been given a cane, of course, but if that was how humans lived in the dark, Link wanted none of it. He still had his ears from home, why else would he still be able to hear and talk to his friends? So, it had to be said that he'd be able to use whale-song even in this world.
It was the first trick every mer learnt as a child; when lost in the dark depths, or in the open sea, listen for the whales. Their songs reverberated through the ocean, and bounced back off rocks and beach and fish, anything solid in the surroundings. If you listened right, if you tuned into the song… the darkest ocean might as well be the clearest bay; you could work out where what was just by listening. Singing back wasn't such a bad idea either, as long as you weren't tone-deaf.
Link sighed, aching for home.
Then he heard something.
He shot upright. He cocked his head to the side, hearing his friends gasp in surprise. He grabbed his cane, and once he had a hand against the wall, he ran.
Sheik slid her fingertips over the dark, glossy surface of the pianoforte, and smiled. She pressed the ivory keys lovingly before rolling the silk over them, and gently closed the lid. She nearly bounced with joy; pressing her fingers to her mouth she grinned and grinned, trying to contain it. Finally, there'll be music in this house.
Ah, but first, propriety. "It sounds wonderful again. Thank you."
"It only needed a few adjustments," the little man said as the blushing assistant nodded fervently, holding his master's briefcase, "You take excellent care of the instrument as it is."
"Thank you either way," she bowed, making the man bloom around his snowy moustache just as brightly as the freckled young man. "You've truly made me happy."
"Considering the tragedy you've been through, your Highness, it's my honour and-"
"Wait! Damn it!" Link burst through the door gasping, tilting his head this way and that to catch a sound, any sound, "Someone please tell me this is where that noise came from."
"By Gods, man!" The little tradesman hollered in outrage even as Sheik blinked in surprise, "What racket is this you're making in front of our Lady?"
He looked completely ridiculous, barefooted, cane in hand, hair ruffled, clothes rumpled as if he'd taken a nap in them. "What Lady?"
"This Lady," she drawled with amusement, making Link perk up.
"Sheik? Oh by gods, did you hear that noise?"
He looked so hopeful, so desperate, she had to humour him. "What noise, Link?"
"It, I don't know, it was metal, but the noise seemed to go on forever, like it echoed, like, it, please tell me it came from here. I've lost it, and I… I thought…"
His desperation was truly sinking into her, and she wondered, even as the assistant of the man she'd hired tried to usher out the blind man, what could be so special about this noise that it'd cause such distress. Sighing, she opened the pianoforte, and pressed a key.
A resounding B filled the Hall.
"Is this the sound you're looking for, Link?"
Everyone had paused. Link cocked his head, even as the assistant held his shoulders in an attempt to push him out of the room, before he shook his head. "No. But it followed the noise I was looking for. Constantly."
Sheik frowned, then apologetically smiled at the Dealer. "I'm sorry sir, but could you please humour me? I'd like to listen to your tuners."
"Well… yes, I, I suppose…"
He motioned to his assistant, who'd abandoned the briefcase full of equipment to restrain Link. Together they heaved it onto the pianoforte, unlocked it to reveal the rows of metal two-pronged forks inside, and gently picking one up from its groove, the dealer tapped it against the lid of the trunk.
The smile that spread across his face was just as bright as the note the tuner unleashed.
Link disappeared for five weeks, chasing after the music dealer.
Sheik was understandably worried (whilst Navi and Midna were utterly terrified for him) but she had other things to do, so she busied herself with those duties, thinking vaguely that he might not be coming back when he'd been gone for two and a half weeks.
She was surprised (pleasantly) when he came back, though she frowned at the soot on his clothes and a lack of a cane. Instead he was holding what could only be described as a baton. And his clothes were going to be in a bigger mess if he put one more foot into the storage.
She put the list of equipment and supplies down onto a crate before placing her hands onto her hips. "Link? Are you alright?"
"More than." He swung the baton around, stepping carelessly towards her voice. "I can see now."
Sheik stared at the blindfold that still hugged his eyes, quelling the urge to drawl: "Really."
Instead she tried to get to him, dodging crates and boxes and bags. "Link, this room is cluttered; I don't think you should come any closer. You'll probably trip."
"I won't." He grinned, tapping the thin metal baton against the doorframe. "I promise you. Please, stay where you are."
The tap of the baton was enough. Waves of sound bounced out and bounced back, and Link tilted his head and listened, as the cheery notes told him where everything was. With confidence, he stepped forward.
Sheik watched, amazement blooming across her features and shining in her red eyes, as he first simply dodged, and then spun, then danced around the crates and bags and piles of goods, a wide smile plastered across his face as he, a blind man, literally waltzed across the room and stood before her, to bow.
"You're insane." Sheik gasped, staring at him in utter shock, "How did you do that?"
"I listened. Blind men do that."
"What… what is this? Is this what let you do that?" Sheik touched his hand that held the device, and tentatively asked him, "May I look at it?"
"Of course." He took her hand and pressed what could only be described as the hilt of the item into her palm, and she gently examined it, careful to not cut herself on its razor-sharp edges.
It was roughly the same length as what spanned from her fingertips to her elbow, not including the hilt. It looked like a tuner if you squinted, but the gap between the two prongs was miniscule, and the prongs themselves were flat and sharp, like a blade. In fact it looked more like a weapon than an instrumental tool, but the craftsmanship was exquisite nonetheless.
"It's beautiful, truly. Where did you get this?"
"From the smith." Link replied easily, pulling a casual shrug, "Cost me some pearls though."
She looked at the bag that dangled from his belt, the one she'd given him to keep his pearls in. The contents had significantly lessoned. "You didn't over-pay this smith, did you?"
"I doubt it." Link extended his hand to get his tool back, and gratefully clipped it on his belt. "I love this thing."
"Well, I won't pretend to know how it works, but I'm glad for you that it does."
"Thank you. Do you want a bodyguard?"
Link's expression turned a little grim as he explained, "I think you're in danger. That storm wasn't natural."
Sheik swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. The one thing she'd avoided addressing by being busy, and he just had to spit it out, didn't he.
"I know how to fight… and, I still want to work for you." Link sheepishly professed, adding a little dryly, "I do owe you my life."
"I won't be suspected?" he added slyly, tapping his blindfold.
"How in gods' name do you manage to get your point across in so few words?" Sheik sighed in exasperation, although a smile twitched her lips. "I'd be extremely grateful, honestly, but… we're leaving for the capital soon. That means away from the sea."
Link froze. He took a shuddering breath and chewed the inside of his mouth before sighing, "Oh."
"Link, I'm sure-"
"No. I want to come with you."
She simply couldn't refuse the determined clench of his fists, nor the line the cut between his brows. She thanked him, and told him that they were heading inland in a few days, and he should get his things ready.
Link thanked her in turn, and swinging and tapping his tool, walked perfectly out of the storage.
Of course the reaction he got from his friends wasn't the good kind.
"You're joking! What, why, what, how could you do this? You've barely survived as it is and now you're going inland? That's completely absurd!"
"I can manage Navi," Link insisted, "Besides, I've already wasted a month."
"Oh, let him go," Midna clipped, "Better yet, it'll give us time to enjoy the sea without this bugger ruining it with human activities."
"Thank you." Link muttered dryly.
"But, but, but, but…"
"He'll be fine. He showed us his version of whale-song, and it seems to work great. He's walking like a human, and now that he's close to Sheik he can work his magic on her and she'll work out his secret and all will be well!"
"Not a con-artist." Link reminded, sighing.
Navi whimpered and huddled her little legs and claws against herself, a shell of worry and sadness. Link picked her up and stroked her back till she purred, and he kissed her for good measure. "Thank you for looking after me for so long. Midna too. But I have to do this, you know that right?"
Navi sighed, and nodded. "But we are going to spend this night by the beach together. Deal?"
Link nodded, and smiled.
So yeah, that's it for now. In the next chapter he'll get to know the court, and its problems, and yeah. I think you guys'll like it.
Code Geass Viceroy Destiny: Is the 22nd the one that's passed, or the one that's about to come up? Either way, I hope the surgery goes well. Thank you so much for your compliments, and I hope you liked this chapter too.
Farli30519: Sorry nothing happened much! But I promise I'll give a more exciting chapter next. :P
Lady Kurina: And this is his CLUUUUUEEE! XD And I know the suspicion wasn't too huge in this chapter, but in the next chapter he's gonna have SUCH a hard time.
goldenrhino: Yeah, it really did take a ridiculously long time to update, but this time was quick, so, yay? Hopefully I explained the whale-song thing enough to get an idea.
arrowriver: Eh, it's okay, brains are meant to be turned to mush, and then frozen back. Like zombies. Or reverse phoenixes. Anyway, I'm glad you liked that touch of ignorance; trust me, you'll be seeing plenty of that from now on. :D
CatsGotTongue: I like this version of suspicion because it's not as open, I have got to say. Sheik in Once Upo a Fairytale was blatantly different, especially physically, so there was a huge amoutn of persecution going on but this Link's persecution and suspicion will be more subtle, so I'm looking forward to writing about that.
Anyway, that's it for now, so I hope I'll be able to write and post up the next chapter as soon as I can! See you again, guys!