Disclaimer: I do not own anything of the Legend of Zelda—characters, locations, plot, etc. It is all property of Nintendo. I am only writing a story based off of the game. This story is in the romance genre because of the romance between Link and Sheik

Chapter forty

There's No Such Thing as a Calm Before the Storm

Sheik would never grow used to moments like these. When every surviving solider felt as if they were grounded only by the weight on their shoulders rather than the gravitational pull of the earth. The moments of attempting to block out the shouting of the villagers. The moments as Sheik marched behind the units to keep out of sight, wishing he was at the front so he wouldn't see their hunched shoulders. He knew that he had to walk proudly in front of the onlooking villagers.

The people of the hidden village would always flock to the regiment, one of Hyrule's last remaining few, who dealt in active combat. The people would look desperately for their loved ones, some finding whom they searched for, but others weren't so fortunate. Insults and raging questions were sent the survivors' way, then the anguished screams took the place of the harsh words. It torn Sheik's heart apart, but he kept his stony gaze fixed forward.

Impa, the commander, and the captain led the pack, and they always had a hell of a time fending off the villagers that demanded answers. But honestly, what did they expect to hear? That the ambush failed? That was obvious. Did they want to hear that the bodies of the dead were left behind to evade casualties? Or that Hyrule's army had no chance going up against even a silver of Ganondorf's, and that's why they been in hiding for seven years? Sheik swallowed back burning tears, holding his chin high.

Sheik drew in a shaky breath before hearing the sound of his name. He whipped around, seeing Neema jogging to catch up with him, golden eyes wide with concern. Sheik said nothing in greeting as she fell into step with him, only looking shamefully away.

"Sheik, I'm sorry..."

A warm hand appeared on Sheik's shoulder and he shrugged it off.

"The ambush failed," he said curtly.

"I got that much," Neema answered, realizing what she said was inappropriate. "How many?"

"Nearly two hundred. We couldn't risk the lives of the survivors to collect the dead. We've no idea the exact amount of lives that we lost, so that's an estimation. We pulled out before we could lose anymore."

And they had. The reason the troops returned to the hidden village so late was due to taking a long detour to avoid being followed.

Neema walked silently alongside Sheik. Well, they were silent. The word around them was not: the midnight air filled with the sounds of marching feet, neighing horses, the creaking of the wagons that carried the wounded, and, of course, the upset villagers. Sheik's only wish was to cover his ears, but he stood tall, hands to his sides. Neema stepped closer to him, offering as much comfort as she could in the situation. She never understood why Sheik was forced onto these missions. Neither him or his aunt was an official part of the army. She supposed the Sheikahs felt it was their duty.
Neema looked up after hearing Sheik scoff.

"And honestly, what did they expect?" he asked no one in particular, choked voice a bitter whisper. He looked around at the troops. "This is the smallest branch of the already small army. We've always had no chance..." He stopped himself.

Neema slid her hand into his, and they were back to silence.

While Impa attended a post-battle meeting with the higher-ups, Sheik bathed in the princess's bath-house, finally allowing himself to cry for the fallen soldiers, though not for long. A memorial was already being held for the fallen by the villagers. They held candles and comforted the families who had lost loved ones. Sheik did not attend the memorial and never had is the past. Some may say he was heartless, but Sheik never really grasped the concept of them. He never felt consoled or closure while holding a candle for a lost soul.

Back in his tent, Zelda was, of course, absent. She was with her people, paying tribute like the others. In fact, Zelda had been the one to dismiss Sheik, since he actually didn't take orders from anyone else. She was a magnificent princess, and would be a better queen when this war ended and she retook her rightful place on the throne. Sheik knew without a doubt she would be standing on the front lines tonight had it not been decided years ago that Zelda's presence could cause Ganondorf himself to appear on the spot. Zelda wanted to protect her people at all costs, and so agreed like any noble princess would do.

Sheik covered his head with a pillow in bed, and never actually got to sleep until daybreak due to the memorial taking place outside, and the guilt he harbored inside.

The next day was painfully quiet, just as it always was when the hidden village suffered a great loss. The memorial had come to an end around dawn. The regiments were in their specified tents, the villagers no doubt sleeping.

It passed as a blur for Sheik, he couldn't remember anything he did that day. He couldn't even remember if he ate anything. He spent the day hidden away in his tent. He had no idea where Zelda, Impa, or even Neema was, and couldn't believe that actually left him alone for so long.

Sheik fell asleep sometime in the early afternoon and woke in the late evening. He felt a bit pathetic as he got out of bed, ashamed that he had isolated himself for so long to wallow in his own emotions. He needed time alone to rejuvenate, he supposed. But now, he was feeling lonely. Sheik enjoyed being alone, as long as there was someone waiting for him when he decided to crawl out of his secluded hole. He liked to be around people and watch human interactions, but not necessarily participate in it until he wanted to.

He pushed the tent flap aside, pulled up his cowl, and stepped outside into the night. He skillfully melded into the shadows, ducked his head down and swiftly made way through the camp. He wanted to see Alaema, and he was sure Neema was in a meeting or something similar.

Successfully avoiding the villagers, Sheik entered the chaotic medical tent. He expected nothing less with the amount of wounded soldiers from yesterday's battle.

He checked the kitchens for Alaema, and there she was, no doubt waiting for dinner. Bypassing the bustling cooks, Sheik strode over to the little girl's table. When she caught sight of him, she beamed. It pained Sheik to see the little girl growing up around this, even more so to see her smiling so brightly as if it was all normal.

The little Gerudo girl kicked her feet under the table as Sheik sat next to her. They talked about Alaema's day: how she had gotten to help out today by carrying potions for doctors as they tended to patients, and how her mother had come to visit her around lunch and promised they would go back to their own tent after dinner.

Sheik spirits were being lifted as he sat with his goddaughter, listening to her positive outlook on life. He had begun to smile, and actually accepted dinner from the cooks. Sheik and Alaema, being the Sheikah and the westerner's child, were never fed like the rest of the inhabitants of the camp, but never they complained. (Well, Sheik at least didn't voice his complaints.) Alaema was more than content with her baked potato, slice of bread and bit of cheese, and tonight, Sheik didn't mind all that much either.

Suddenly a very familiar, yet alarmingly strong feeling struck Sheik like a ton of bricks. It spread like wildfire through his chest and pounded in his ears to the point where he gripped his head. It was Link. Link, the Hero of Time, had left this earth in order to enter the Sacred Realm. Moments passed before joyous relief mixed in with the feeling and seeped through Sheik's veins. He almost cried with the feelings when they caused the persistant ache in his stomach to vanish. Link was safe and in the Sacred Realm. He had gotten past the witches and awoken the sage.

Over the rushing noise, Sheik distantly heard Alaema giggling. He released the tight grip in his hair and gave the little girl a quizzical look.

"What are you doing?" she asked, showing all her little white teeth in a smile.

Sheik started taking deep breaths, ready for the feeling to hit him again when Link returned to Hyrule. He didn't have to wonder why the feeling had gotten so strong. His connection with Link certainly grew after spending so much time together in the desert, and especially when Sheik longed for the Hero the way he did now. He looked around at the people bustling in and out of the kitchen, knowing full well if he were anyone else, they would be asking him if he needed medical attention.

Sheik turned back to the Gerudo girl and grinned. "Do you remember how I told you that I could feel the Hero of Time's power?"

Alaema nodded as seriously as a little girl could with her mouth full, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

"Alaema, pretty girl, I have to go," Sheik said as he stood up and looked around. He spotted the woman who usually cared for the little girl and she was eying Sheik. "Your mother should be back at any minute, okay?"

"'Kay." Alaema had already returned to her food.

Sheik kissed the top of her head, muttering a quick apology, then left the kitchens as fast as possible without raising suspicion.

When the feeling hit Sheik for the second time, he was prepared. As he exited the tent and stepped into the night, he rubbed his chest against the uncomfortable feeling. He was glad no one chose that time to speak to him or he would be rather distracted.

Sheik ran eagerly to the Gossip Stone, slinking in the shadows so as to not get caught. Once again Link had done it; he had cleansed another temple. Hyrule might have taken a blow to not only its army but its moral yesterday, but they were one step closer to victory all because of Link. Not that Sheik ever doubted him, right? Not now, anyway. Not after he met the passionate, driven, courageous... charismatic, strong... headstrong, tactless, shortsighted, selfless Hero. Some of the Hero's optimism was rubbing off on him, he supposed.

Sheik was glowing by the time he reached Zelda's tent, still, after all this time, overjoyed that the Hero of Time was concerned enough about his Guide's well being to keep up this form of communication. Sprinting up the small hill, wondering how long Link had been waiting for him, Sheik's feet came to an abrupt halt, his blood running cold. Striding purposefully down to him was none other than Sheik's aunt, Impa.

Face already red under his cowl, Sheik held his tongue, restrained his excuses until Impa was in front of him. Then, "Aunt—!"

But Impa held up a hand, speaking sharply in their native tongue. "How many times must I express to you the importance of Sheikah relics in Hyrule? And for you to be so careless with one—"

"I wasn't careless!" Sheik interrupted, instantly closing his mouth after realizing what he had done. But Impa did not speak, and so Sheik continued, in a much smaller voice. "Link... The Hero has a great appreciation for the Sheikah tribe unlike any other Hylian. He will take care of—"


"But wasn't the mask made for Hylians to converse with Sheikah—?"

"I said, enough, Sheik."

Sheik didn't have time to feel ashamed over his outbursts, for at that moment, the Hero's presence had suddenly shifted from the Gerudo Desert to Lake Hylia in little over a second. Sheik clutched at his chest against the uncomfortable feeling, groaning. "What did you say to him?"

"The truth. That you had no authority to give out that mask."

Sheik winced at the cold words. "Anything else?"

Impa glared, obviously furious with her nephew, but keeping her calm. "He asked for you."

Sheik's heart leapt hopefully. "And..?" he encouraged in a whisper, knowing he was pushing it.

Impa strode past him as she answered, done with the conversation for now, but Sheik knew he'd be in for it later. "I told him where you were."

"Wait. You told him what, exactly? That I was in the medical tent?" Knowing Impa, she had seen Sheik going to visit Alaema despite how stealthy he was—he couldn't hide from his aunt. But Impa did not wait, and she did not answer as she strutted away.

Sheik looked longingly over his shoulder at the Stone, guilty that he wished Link was still in the desert. The Hero would be safe and comfortable for the time being at the cleansed Lake Hylia. He wondered if Link knew what Impa meant, or took the old Sheikah's words out of context. Knowing Link, it was most likely the latter. Sheik sighed. He guessed Link would just have to worry about him until he arrived in Kakariko.

Sheik's feet were certainly slower as he made his way back to the tent, head bowed and lips pursed. Zelda was still not in the dimly lit tent when Sheik arrived.

He slumped on the edge of his bed with a huff, crossed his legs and buried his face in his hands. It was a good thing Zelda was not there to see him—Sheik really didn't want to explain his actions. He wasn't even sure himself, to be quite honest. Sure, these past days had been emotionally exhausting, but emotions were never supposed to set back a Sheikah like they were with Sheik in the last week.

Even though he knew he'd receive more from his aunt, Sheik scolded himself for doing what he knew was wrong. He did not question his aunt's reasoning for being angry with both him and Link. He could only imagine how Impa was feeling. Grief, sorrow, and remorse for having a hand in leading her comrades into battle and watching them die. Fear and anger towards her careless nephew handing out a relic of their dying race.

Sheik did not look up when the tent flap opened a while later. He knew who the quiet steps belonged to and wasn't exactly going to welcome being told off further by his aunt. He expected her harsh words to break the silence, for her to remind him of the state of the Sheikah race and their position with the Hylians, but it did not come.

Instead, Sheik sensed his aunt in front of him, and finally removed his hands from his face when Impa dropped to her knees. He looked at her uncharacteristically soft expression, his mouth opening to apologize for what he had done, but she spoke first.

"I apologize for upsetting you," Impa said, rubbing his knee. "I know you've deepened your connection to the Hero, and that in turn makes it difficult to be away from him. But the magic of the mask hasn't been used by a Hylian since the Sheikahs were exiled. You can understand my apprehension."

Sheik nodded. "I'm sorry for not asking your permission."

Impa smirked, raising an eyebrow. "It's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission," she quoted.

Sheik swallowed hard and nodded once more. "I'm sorry. I'll make sure he returns the mask."

"Good boy," she praised, patting his knee as she stood.

"Aunt!" Sheik called as she made to exit the tent. Impa turned and Sheik wrung his hands. "I think— Well, uh... you deserve to rest all you need to tonight. I'll stay up if you need me to."

Impa actually smiled at her nephew. "I plan to, Sheik. I just need to speak with Commander Noreen first. You rest as well."

And with that, she was gone.

Sheik laid on his back, staring up at the canvas when he felt the gentle wind of the tent flap being opened again. He turned his head and watched Zelda braiding her own hair as she finally entered the tent. She looked exhausted.

"Hey, Sheik," she said gently.

He turned on his side and smiled at her. "Hello."

She scanned the bit of his face she could see, raising her eyebrows at his elated expression. "What is it?"

Sheik sighed, pulling the blanket over his shoulder. "The Hero of Time is coming back to Kakariko."

In all honesty, Sheik slept well that night. At least, exceptionally better than he had the night before and nights Link spent in Gerudo Desert. It was more than reassuring to know Link was back at the cleansed Lake Hylia.

Sheik woke when Impa rose at dawn, and laid in bed for about twenty minutes until he decided to start his day as well. Using the skill he had built up over the years, he successfully blocked out the terrible events of the day before, his mind wandering to simple things, and settled to dwell on Link at the great lake.

Sheik pulled on the top half of his new exoskeleton. The garment was almost identical to his last one by request; a deep blue color, and very form fitting. The only difference being that it was, in fact, split into two articles: the seamstress having persuaded him by pointing out he could sleep more comfortably on hot nights if he could remove the top half. She just couldn't understand how Sheikah usually slept in their exoskeletons, the "strange" shoes as well. He had to admit, it was rather nice sleeping, especially in this warm weather, without a shirt. He'd have to thank Amelia, the seamstress. Sheik only wish is that she could remake the tabard given to him by Impa.

Sheik stepped outside into the morning, looking up at the clear sky, growing pinker by the minute, the horizon a beautiful orange. He surveyed the camp, glad there wasn't a villager in sight. He didn't want to deal with the possibility of harassment this early in the morning. He wondered how Impa did it. Though there were no villagers awake yet, Sheik did see the young trainees emerging from their tents, bleary eyed and silent as the headed toward the training grounds at the front of the camp. So the importance of a strict schedule for training new recruits finally reoccurred to the instructors. It always did after a lost battle, but there were so few people to recruit inside the walls of the hidden village to begin with, and recruiting outsiders would only risk raising suspicion.

Sheik smiled wistfully as he watched the recruits, remembering his training. He never had the luxury of training in a group with other kids his age and being just another insignificant trainee who made passable grades as well as mistakes. He had to train one-on-one with his aunt, and that could make the loud, racist, Hylian instructors seem pleasant on some days. Speaking of Impa, where was she? It might've been childish, but Sheik wanted to make sure he was forgiven for what he had done. He would never outright ask her, of course—her actions spoke louder than words, anyway. Impa had made it seem she had forgiven Sheik, but there was something in him that just wanted to check.

As he strode through the village, he spotted his aunt. She was speaking to one of the instructors before his class started. Sheik hung back and patiently waited for them to finish their conversation. Once the instructor left and joined the recruits, Sheik stepped up to Impa.

"Good morning, Aunt."

She gave him a puzzled look before a smile graced her large lips. "Hello, Sheik. I'm glad you're awakeI need to speak with you."

Sheik suddenly felt cold, but kept his composure and followed his aunt as she made her way toward the medical tent. Impa always walked with such purpose, even in times like these. Where her nephew wanted nothing more than to shrink away and return to their tent before the villagers woke up, Impa held her head high, stood with her back straight, and took long, graceful strides.

"I realize that the Hero might have... misinterpreted what I said last night," she said, looking slightly down at him.

Sheik let out a a quiet laugh. Misinterpreted was probably an understatement, to say the least. "I suppose... he'll just have to worry until he gets here."

"Or... you could go to him," Impa suggested, pulling her short, gray hair back into her usual style. "You know where he is."

It couldn't be helped—Sheik's mouth fell open and his feet stuttered to a halt. "You're serious?" She was actually going to let him go? Who was this woman, and what had she done with his aunt?

Impa turned, her expression a cross between exasperation and amusement. She opened her mouth to respond, but her eyes shifted to the west, over Kakariko, and she gasped instead.

When Sheik's gaze followed hers, time slowed down and he stood rooted to the spot. Cold dread took the place of his short-lived excitement. His heart pounded in his ears, his mouth went dry, his eyes became impossibly wide.

Kakariko was covered in a blanket of swirling black clouds that materialized before their eyes. Familiar clouds: the ones that circled high above the Evil King's tower. Sheik imagined these billowing clouds were what Zelda saw in her nightmare from so long ago. This was the beginnings of a nightmare playing out in front of Sheik and his aunt just like seven years ago in Castle Town. Before either of the Sheikahs could yell warnings, seven bolts of bright, white lightning struck throughout Kakariko and flames rose above the treetops. Loud cracks of thunder boomed out shortly after and the earth shook with the sound.

Distant screams could be heard from the villagers of Kakariko over the screaming for reinforcements from the two Sheikahs watching their home go up in flames.

To be continued...

This chapter really just kind of wrote it's way in here. I hadn't really planned to write it, and so I'm not super thrilled, but I enjoyed it! I did a lot of research to write about Hyrule's army, and I still don't quite grasp the whole concept. I just can't write in convincingly. I hope everyone's okay with it. Even if I don't quite understand, I liked flipping through articles and trying to pick up tips about how to write a military. Hopefully you guys don't think it this chapter's hokey.

I tried to make it clear just how small the remaining bits of Hyrule's army is. And I the I'm going to go with three branches in it since three is the number in Hyrule, but I'm not too certain what they are just yet. And I couldn't decide on names either, so I'm sorry - I know it gets confusing to read. But I'm thinking there's the guards of the royal family, then there's the huge part of the army which is the soldiers who actually go to war, and then there's the part with like the spies and assassins like Neema and Sheik. Something like that, but I'm not too sure. I want there to be knights as well and things, so I'll need to figure out a way to write that in too. If you want to tell me what you think, please do!

Thank you to every reader, reviewer, follower and favoriter! I'd say I'll talk to you all at the end of the next chapter, but I do update my profile (kind of) frequently to keep you posted on the status of the next chapter. Thanks again for everything!

Review replies:

Dead Moon Circus—Oh, gosh! But I think last chapter was my third longest in the story - haha! I'm glad you think that! I was kind of worried about the fights. Link should've just sent the powerful, evil witches your house! I'm sorry you got sad, but they needed to die. To be honest... I just couldn't really fit the argument in no matter how I looked at it. I liked it in the game, but for a story that leans more toward the darker aspects of the game, it's kind of hard to write menacing witches in one scene, and then spirits of bickering hags in the next. I hope this chapter sheds a little light on where Impa was coming from now. I probably should've written this chapter first. Thanks!

MagicLyly—Thank you! Awh, guys, you don't have to worry about when you submit reviews! You're okay, don't worry! I'm so happy you liked it! I had written Link a little too mad to be flustered like he was in the game, and I hope that's okay. It's great to read you review again - thank you!

Wildgirl404—That is just... so great to hear. Thank you so much. I would say sleep is more important, but I know exactly how you feel! I can tell you that the story will be there when you wake up, but I don't take my own advice, so I wouldn't blame you if you didn't either - haha! Thank you!

Yami no Nokutan—It's relieving to hear you liked it! I know Twinrova would be a some of your guy's favorite boss, and I'm really glad you liked it. Thank you!

And thank you to Jerimiah-San and di1682! Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I love you guys