A.N. So...I've never done a 100 themes challenge. That's got to be some kind of fanfiction crime, right? I've always wanted to, but I never felt confident enough to attempt it. Now I think it's time, and since I was recently hit with a major Link/Sheik bug, and I thought this would be a good way to get rid of it. I don't have a set schedule or anything. The themes will be written as I write them, which could be anywhere from daily to infrequent.
And let me make one thing clear...SHEIK IS ZELDA! While I understand the allure of making Sheik a man for the sake of pairing "him" with Link, I just don't see it that way. Sheik is Princess Zelda. That is irrevocably canon. And once I got over the shock of realizing Sheik doesn't exist, I was truly impressed with Zelda for taking a risk like that. She knows that Ganondorf is hunting her, and yet she still chooses to follow Link all over Hyrule for the sake of watching him and guiding him and, ultimately, protecting him. That alone proves how much faith she has in him.
More details on Zelda's disguise and her interactions with Link will be included in the next chapter. For now, this author's note has gone on long enough. Let's do this!
The day was nearly spent. The sun, which had spent the better part of the afternoon shrouded by heavy rain-laden clouds, at last slipped free and washed the fields in brilliant reds and oranges. Link only had minutes to appreciate the stunning view before the golden disc was chased below the horizon by the twilight that crept down the eastern mountains and rolled inexorably over the countryside. Epona slowed her pace to a snail's crawl, letting him know with the occasional snort that she did not like traveling when she couldn't see the path ahead.
"Me too, girl," Link said as he dismounted and led her over to a fishing pond that looked like a decent place to bed down for the night. After he relieved the mare of saddle and tack, Epona sniffed daintily at the muddy water and ambled off to find something better to drink. Link let her go. She knew better than to travel out of hearing range. He collected some firewood from the rotting skeleton of what had once been a canoe to make a campfire. He eyed the pond wistfully, but lacking both the gear and the energy to fish, he simply sighed and ate something from the provisions he had packed into the saddlebags.
By then, the last of the sunlight had fled the world and left him in a black void with only the feeble sphere cast by the fire to see by. Navi stirred in his hat and offered sleepily to give him more light, but Link shook his head and sent the fairy back to her nest with a murmured word. He worked meticulously to check over his gear and weapons to make sure they were in working order, and once that was done, he took out the ocarina and played some of his favorite songs to fill up the silence.
And all the while, his bedroll remained untouched. Link put the ocarina away and paced around the small confines of his camp, occasionally pausing to gaze into the darkness. His blistered feet ached, and exhaustion made his eyes itchy, but he did not cease his movements. His attention was elsewhere, listening with bated breath to the silence that told him he was the only human soul for miles around.
"Link, go to sleep," Navi said in his ear groggily. "We've got a long way to go tomorrow."
Brow furrowed, Link opened his mouth to reply...and then he finally heard it. Drifting on the night wind like a ship at sea, sailing onward until it found safe harbor in his listening ears. A song played on the haunting chords of a lyre, a gentle and poignant melody of sorrow and bereavement, yet it retained a thread of hope for better times. Or perhaps a memory of those times.
Link smiled, and only then did he kick off his boots and spread out his bedroll on the grass that was still damp from the rain. He burrowed into its confines with a heavy sigh, the fatigue of travel catching up to him. He could still hear the song as he shut his eyes and relaxed into sleep, and he whispered a response to the shadows that no longer seemed quite so oppressive.
A.N. Credit for the story cover goes to Sorelliena, not me. I only WISH I was that good of an artist. There's a link in my profile to the original version on DeviantArt for those who are interested!