CALL OF THE OOCCA
Shad was in that state again. That strange, difficult to define state where one teeters between asleep and awake, yet are not asleep enough to fall asleep, nor awake enough to be fully alert. Perhaps not the best state of mind to be in when he was as far into the research as he was… but what choice did he have? The college's grant was nearly up… again. And this time, for the first time, he had no funds remaining in his father's—may he rest in peace—account to fund his own way while the review board considered his research for renewal.
And even if he could sell the clothes off his back to continue for the nearly 3 month period where the rupees ran dry… something told Shad that they had no more interest in funding his ventures. His expeditions were the largest drains on the reserves of the college, and even that was nothing compared to… well….
Shun pulled his large spectacles from his face and dragged a tired hand across his even more tired eyes… as if doing so would bring him out of his sleep-deprived stupor. Of course it wouldn't. But like every sleepless night before, this lull in productivity would pass. His second wind would come soon, and that would push him through until sunrise.
Sunrise! Shad slapped his forehead as he looked over his left shoulder, blurry eyes wide, towards the door of Telma's cellar-level Bar and the small window above it. Already the pitch-black night was beginning to slowly morph into the murky grey of the very early morning and peaked through the bars crossing the glass.
Idiot! He scolded himself. Another entire night of no sleep. He couldn't keep this up much longer before he broke. But he was so close… but so tired… but so close…. He slapped his face and shook it from side to side rapidly, just trying to bring on the second surge of energy faster. He replaced the glasses low upon his nose and furrowed his brow at the volume he held, Hylia Antiquary : Pre-Unification Inscriptions. It was too late—or should he say too early—to worry about sleep now. He may as well finish up these pages' last few inscriptions before….
Shad jumped in terror at the loud bang of a cold pint of ale slamming his table.
"Telma!" he yelped. The burly yet… endowed… barkeeper leaned forward on the table cackling, amused at his outburst. The angle gave Shad a very awkward view he then promptly avoided by shifting his gaze to her face rapidly.
"Hey there, hon," she said with a wink.
"You do realize that we closed…" she peered behind her at the early morning light through the window before adding, "eight hours ago, give or take."
"Oh Telma, I apologize! So sorry!" Shad replied, jumping from his seat and scurried around the table, gathering his scattered maps, scrolls, and books and prepared to leave the bar.
"Slow down, slow down there! You're fine, Shad," Telma laughed warm-heartedly. "You're always welcome here." She rested her hands on Shad's shoulders and guided him back to his seat. He plopped back down, exhausted from his quick movement. Telma pulled over a chair and joined him at the table.
"How about a drink!" She offered again, sliding the pint towards him.
"N-now?" Shad asked bewildered.
"The sun will be up in a few mere hours!"
Telma raised her eyebrows, amused.
"Suit yourself," she shrugged as she took back the ale and swigged deep. Shad lifted a finger and opened his mouth to remark, but thought better of it just as quickly and chose to remain silent. Telma slammed the pint back on the table and turned back to Shad.
"So what's the story, hon?" She asked, "This is the third night in a row you've stayed in my place. If it keeps happening, I may have to start charging lease!" She said with a wink.
"I am deeply sorry, Telma," Shad sighed as he slumped his head over into his hand.
"It's just that I'm so close! So very close now! I only have months… nay, weeks, until I hit my massive breakthrough! Then I will have translated roughly eight percent of the Oocca language, then I can…."
"Whoa there, hon, let's stop right there a second." Telma interrupted, leaning back in the chair, causing it to creak loudly in protest.
"You can't push yourself like this! What you need more than anything now is to sleep. Now go home, go to bed, and don't wake up until your common sense wakes up!"
"Ah, yes, well, uh…" Shad stammered, trying to select the correct words through his mind's exhausted haze.
"It's a bit drafty in my home right now, yes, the broken window allows quite the nippy night air in, really ought to have that repaired, yes, must call the carpenter…."
"Whoa there, wait, broken window?" Telma interjected again.
"Oh, oh yes!" Shad replied. "Was broken out by a rock the other night, just haven't had the time to have it fixed, it keeps slipping my mind…."
"A rock?" Telma asked.
"Was it those boys on East Street? Always makin' trouble that lot. Why I oughta march right over there and pull 'em by their ears…."
"Oh, no, nononono!" Shad assured her.
"It most definitely was not the children, goodness no. That would make things a bit easier, if it were, though, yes… but no."
"If not the children, then who?" Telma asked, beginning to get a bit upset. She did not take lightly the abuse of her friends.
"Oh! Well, ah, actually, I'm not entirely sure," Shad backpedaled.
"Uh, ah! But look at the time! You're quite right, Telma, I really must sleep. I'll just bundle up…." Shad stood up again and gathered his research into his arms and made his way to the door.
Telma beat him there. She leaned against the door, arms crossed.
"Shad. Who broke your window?" she inquired sternly. Shad again opened his mouth speak, but again, retracted his words and said nothing. Instead, he hung his head, dejected. It then became clear to Telma.
"It was the Followers, wasn't it? The Followers of Nayru." She said seething. Shad said nothing, but nodded sadly.
It wasn't anything new. He had grown up with this sort of scorn from the Followers his entire life. As a researcher, his father was always scorned by their ilk. When his father first stated he believed that it was very possible that the Oocca tribe pre-dated Hylians, and may have even been the origin of the Hylian race and not Din Nayru and Farore as previously believed, the backlash from the Followers of Nayru, the most prominent religious order in Castle Town had marked as a heretic.
When Shad came of age and followed his father's footsteps in Oocca research, he too was marked by the Followers. Really it had made no difference to him in the first place. Back when it was all theories and long-forgotten legends. But Link had changed everything.
Link, the young man who had saved the Kingdom, and the beloved Princess Zelda from the would be Usurp King, as he had come to be known. That evil Guerdo King of Thieves, who attempted a hostile take-over and nearly succeeded. He had found an ancient Oocca relic, an immense cannon in a catacomb beneath Kakariko Village. . It had been a year now since Link had disappeared without a trace, along with any knowledge he had gained about the Oocca.
That cannon, though, had proven that at the very least, the Oocca existed; they were no longer merely the creatures of folklore.
That's when things changed. When he had presented his findings to the college, the Following began crying objection. He was shunned by his colleagues… even those who had before put up with his fanciful musings… the college had threatened to close down his research due to the outcry, had it not been for Princess Zelda herself, who ordered he be allowed to carry on his work out of her gratitude for the part Shad had played in the overthrowing of the would-be Usurp King.
But even the Princess' blessing was not enough to quell the outrage of the Followers. The only thing that would was if he were to renounce his claims and recant his statements before the Followers. There was ample enough reason to do so… after all, beside the Monarchy, the Followers were the second most powerful force in Hyrule.
But he would not. He had come to far to be deterred now. And, above all, he had to….
"Shad!" he heard Telma call.
He snapped awake. Had he fallen asleep standing up with his thoughts? He shook his head.
"Shad, you don't have to go. I have a spare room in the back. I'm worried about you, and I'm worried about what those…" she had to restrain herself from allowing her anger to get the better of her.
"I'm worried about what those people may be capable of. You don't need to leave," she said, almost pleading with him.
"No, Telma, dear," Shad replied solemnly.
"It's fine. Really!" he tried to assure her with a half-smile… but in a way, it was more of him trying to re-assure himself. Telma wasn't buying it.
"No, it's not fine," she said worryingly.
"Shad, you know I care for you. And you know that I realize how much all of this means to you. But you have to start to consider, maybe all of this isn't worth it. Maybe you should just…."
"No!" Shad snapped. He had exclaimed it so quickly and angrily, both he and Telma jumped back at his ferocity. The moment the word left his lips, Shad felt an overwhelming sense of horror at his outburst.
"Oh Telma, please forgive me!" he pleaded.
"I didn't mean to… I really, truly, did not, I know you care. I can't tell you how much I appreciate and cherish that.
But… you must understand. This isn't for me. I don't care about fame, or being the founder of the next great historical revelation of Hyrule. All of that is all so much drivel." He turned away and paced slowly, lost in thought. After several moments, he turned back.
"It's not for me…" he repeated.
"It's for my father. They tarnished his name, his work, and honor. All I really want… is to prove him right. So he will be recognized as the greatest historian that ever lived! As he truly ought."
Shad became dejected again.
"Thank you for the offer of staying. I do believe I should like to take you up on that… if you'd still have me," he concluded.
Telma gave him a solemn smile.
"Of course, hon. Like I said, you're always welcome." She gave him a reassuring pat on his shoulder. He tried to crack a smile.
"And I shall catch up on rest… put this aside for a day or two, maybe then all of this will come more clearly to me. But right now, I think I need some fresh morning air."
He placed his research on the table closest to the door.
"I shall be back soon."
Telma nodded sadly.
Shad opened the door and made his way up the stairs to the streets of Castle Town. As the haze of the morning emanated from the cobblestone roads, a heralding crack of thunder and a torrent of rain oppressed the coming day in its cheerless embrace. But he did not notice it at all as he walked.