The Desert's Rose
Published on / 9 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)
Sheik goes to help his people, who are on the brink of dying out. SLASH. implied SheikLink, OCxOC. WIP, Second in the Ruby Arc.
Chapter 1, The New Journey
The desert air kicked up sand that bit into his skin. It filtered into his clothes and rubbed against him uncomfortably. The tiny particles infiltrated every nook and cranny they could find. Only the cloth about his face saved him from breathing the annoying sand. His sun colored hair fluttered about his head, poking out from the wrapped cloth around his head, as crimson eyes took in the overwhelming planes of tan. The companion beside him grunted out with annoyance, wrapped also with cloth to shield from the punishing desert wind.
These were no ordinary wanderers. One had traveled over the lands many times and had done amazing things. He was well known and revered. Now, he was on a journey that could very well break him. He went with the clothes on his back, a few provisions, and the friend at his side.
“Hush,” he murmured quietly as said friend gave an agitated mutter. “It’s not far now. Think of what’s behind us.”
He looked less than convinced. Together, they continued on through the hot sands into the night where terrors plagued. The desert enjoyed playing with the minds of the weak, warping them to its own amusement. Phantoms and horrors beset all dwellers of the sands until they died or lost their sanity.
They traveled to a range of smoothed hills, the wind having made designs all over the sand with rocks scattered about with no semblance of organization. It was like the landscape of some alien place, though it was well earthbound. The trek, which had already taken them at least two weeks, lasted half that through the hills and dunes.
It was with relief that the destination was finally sighted. The traveler would have smiled, if there was anything really to smile at. Within one of the largest valleys in the hills, straggled tan dwellings specked the entire place, some bunched up into uneven clusters and others apart from the rest. None of them were far away from one another and the entire area was filled to the brim. They could see signs of building in the outskirts, but the rising land all about the settlement prevented any from building farther out.
As soon as they arrived, eyes followed their movements. Poor, skinny children darted out of the streets and watched from the shadows. Untrusting women carefully counted every piece of clothing in their washing, no matter how far the two passed. Gaunt, furry faced men’s hands twitched at their weapon holsters, or anything that could become a weapon if they didn’t have one of their own.
The houses became more solid and the people less outwardly cautious as they progressed towards the middle. Still, they eyes followed them steadily.
“This is what I was expecting, isn’t it?” the traveler asked his companion quietly. The other made no move to respond. Sighing softly, he continued. “The poverty and unrest is great here… What did I think I could do?”
A warm face butted against his own. He stroked it a few times. There would be time for idle wonderings later. He couldn’t afford to lose confidence when he couldn’t safely go back even if he wanted to.
When they reached the town square, they paused to watch the normal goings on of the Market. People yelled, talked, laughed, and bartered with great volume, items both rare and usual changing hands too fast for any to keep up with. Brightly colored cloths shielded shop owners from the fierce heat as covered wagons littered the huge stone square. Few stopped to inquire about the strange man that stood at its edge; they had much more important things to do.
The traveler found a shaded inn and rented a room for the night. A young boy sprinted out to take his companion’s bridal, but he stopped him and took the horse back himself. After giving his good byes to Evalus and telling him to behave, he returned to the inside. The inn doubled as a tavern and was surprisingly cool for such a place. He sat down at the bar and gave the barmaid a quiet order, flushing slightly at her flirtatious smile.
“You must have traveled a long while to get here,” she said as she sat his drink down and leaned forward over her folded arms. He bosom showed quiet well, nearly falling out of the low necked shirt she wore. He looked up at her face to keep from embarrassing himself.
“I did,” he said as he reached up and pulled his mask away to drink. She whistled a little and grinned wider as pink speckled his fine cheeks.
“My, you’re a handsome one,” she purred, leaning even further. “What’s your name, hm?”
“Would you stop whoring yourself already?!”
He glanced towards the voice with surprise. There, beside the bar with a dark scowl on her face, was a little, dirty skinned girl. Her thin arms were crossed over her chest and legs set apart as if she had the authority to do anything. Her black hair was cropped at the shoulders and fell over one dark red eye. The pale, frayed, torn clothing suggested poverty, but from what he’d seen of the village, that described everyone.
“Go away, you little rat,” the barmaid hissed, making a shooing wave with her hand.
“Don’t call me a rat!” the girl yelled angrily. Her crimson eyes flashed with rage.
“A rose is a rose and a rat is a rat,” retorted the barmaid with a smirk. A moment later, the little girl had launched herself over the counter with a war cry. It happened very quickly. The barmaid jumped back with surprise, but there was no need. The girl stopped in mid jump and was jerked into the traveler’s arms. She was still for a second as she realized what had happened before she began to struggle and fight. The traveler got up and set the child down with a slight frown.
“You’ll never get far with a temper like that,” said he quietly. The girl’s lip curled.
“Don’t spout off that crap to me!” she cried before darting away. The barmaid gave a ‘humph’ and settled herself again.
“Nasty child,” she muttered. “She’s haunted the place since the War.”
“War?” asked the stranger.
“Oh yes. The men all went away to the War years ago, when the Gerudo tried to take us. Not many came back, but it was enough.” She yawned a little, fanning herself directly to the bosom. “Some women went also. Tallic’s parents both didn’t come back, so she turned thief. They all went again when the Mistress called us, but they all came back with the strangest stories…”
“Who is Tallic?”
“The rat just now. Such a pity case, but how can you feel sorry for a vicious little thing like that?”
He was quiet after that. The barmaid attempted to strike up a conversation again, but soon gave up when another handsome male entered the tavern. The traveler sat and sipped his drink slowly, savoring the flavor and thinking. He thought of many things in the quiet of his mind. Home, for one. It had been three weeks since he left it and who knew when he would return? Already, he could feel the bitter sense of homesickness. He missed the lush green Field, the clear, glittering Lake Hyla, the busyness of Kakariko Village… He sighed softly. It did nothing to remember home. He would not return there until he’d set his people right.
Throwing down more rubies than were probably needed, the traveler went up to his room to rest after his long journey. The night passed and he set out as light trailed over the sky. Leaving the tavern, he spent a better part of the day watching the village and learning about its habits. He spoke to only those who bothered him, though most chose to leave the stranger alone. He was easily picked out in the crowd not only because of his clothing, but also for his hair. The pale blonde was far too different in a sea of brown and black. The Sheikah of the Field had become much fairer than the Sheikah of before, of this land.
Entering a small shop, the traveler was assaulted by the smells of incense and wood and a hundred other things. There were yards of fabric stacked up alone one wall, the patterns all different, and a stand of thread spools beside them. Another wall had shelves of candles and incense and clay pots to burn them in. Other stands had little toys and such. There was a desk against one wall and an old man sitting behind it smiling.
“Good afternoon, young one,” said the man with cheer. He nodded his greeting and began looking around the shop. There were some things he wanted, but he was careful not to get too much. His rubies had to last him until he found a paying job here. He couldn’t rely on the village as he had in Kakariko. A stab of homelessness hit him before he pushed it away.
“You seem troubled, young one,” the old man murmured. He turned and glanced over the wizened form.
“I am far from home,” he replied quietly. The man smiled with gentleness.
“Come, sit with an old fool for a time.”
He approached the desk, noting the small wooden stool on his side, and sat down. He looked over the man, eyes trailing over the white hair and deep lines of his face, his half blind, pink eyes. Slowly, he reached up and pulled off the wrap about his head and his mask, dropping them down. The old man smiled a little.
“Young!” he said cheerfully. “I had thought you older…”
“I am old enough,” the traveler replied.
“It is strange though…” The old one sat back and stared at him with a saddening expression. “What is a Tear Sheikah doing so far from the Field?”
The younger man started, his eyes going wide. “Then you know-?!”
“Don’t panic,” interrupted the elderly man. “I am too old to be violent. Few others would recognize your birthplace, child. Do not worry, I am now friend. Call me Ze’rin.”
He sat again, but wasn’t nearly as comforted as the old one wished him.
“What is your name, young one?”
“I am Sheik,” replied the blonde man. Ze’rin smiled.
“Ah yes…Your name is not unknown to us.” Sheik frowned a little in confusion. “The last of the Sheikah in the Field… The one who defeated our entire people, yet gave himself freely to the Hylian Queen…”
“You speak of me almost in scorn,” murmured the blonde man quietly. The other looked gravely saddened.
“If you utter your name again, you shall hear true scorn,” he said softly. “Most here see you as a traitor.”
“I betrayed no one!” Sheik cried in sudden anger, jerking upward and knocking the stool away. “I am loyal to my queen just as my sires and theirs before me! It is your clan that has betrayed!”
Ze’rin watched him in silence, his sad pink eyes never leaving the enraged youth. Slowly, Sheik’s anger left him and instead, he felt a cold sort of despair.
“I betrayed no one,” he whispered, weakly and wondering, as if the elderly man could give him absolution he suddenly needed. The other motioned for him to approach and Sheik did, laying his hands on the table and leaning over it. Slowly, bones shifting noisily as he did, Ze’rin stood and embraced the blonde boy, holding him as tightly as he could bear while Sheik did the same.
“No, child,” Ze’rin murmured. “You betrayed no one…”
“I felt the calling,” Sheik said quietly, not moving from the old man’s embrace. “In my heart, I felt the ethereal river tugging at me, telling me I was to be here with my people… That I have a new purpose.”
“What is your purpose?”
“I don’t know.” The words were uncertain and frustrated. When the old man let him go, he noted the wondering eyes of his younger companion.
“Well, then you’ll have to stay until you figure it out,” he said almost cheerfully. Sheik blinked at him. “I suppose you’ll be needing a place to stay and a steady income?”
“If you could tell me someone in need of-”
“Why not help me?” Ze’rin grinned toothily at the other’s shocked expression. “I’ve been meaning to get a young one in here to help me a little. I’m old, child, and I don’t move nearly as well as I used to. There’s a room upstairs if you’re interested. You can stay for free board if you work for me.”
Sheik could barely believe his goof fortune. It seemed only minutes later that his things were retrieved from the inn and taken up to the free room. It was small but cozy. The cot in the corner was just long enough for him (though he’d never been very large) and a dresser was adjacent. It was the color of the desert sands, much like the rest of the village. Sheik put away his things and visited Evalus from the stables.
“I’ve found a job and shall be staying there,” he told the snowy horse quietly. “I will come to let you free everyday.”
Evalus snorted before butting his head up against the blonde man’s cheek. Sheik gently stroked his short fur.
“I know,” he whispered. “It will never be like the field.
The horse said nothing. Sheik pulled away and looked him in the eye.
“We will return when we are finished.”
The resulting snort made him smile for the first time in weeks.
That night, as Sheik lay down to sleep in Ze’rin’s shop, he stared upwards as he listened to the wind blowing through the narrow streets. It was a low moan of sadness echoed by that in the people’s hearts. He remembered the little girl, Tallic, her face as clear in his mind as his lover’s. It could not have been he who took her parents. All those lost during the last battle had been restored. He still felt a guilt from it.
Sheik swore he would make a difference for Tallic and push her to become more than a petty thief.
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