When I woke that morning, I had no idea I would be in such a situation by sundown. My day was as it always was, no surprises. The morning was spent gathering wood for the Elders of the tribe, the afternoon doing odd jobs. I didn't really have anything more important than that. As a strong, but young boy, it wasn't left to me to make sure everyone had what he or she needed, but I did anyway. Of course, I was not alone in this, but it wouldn't have mattered if I were. That was just how things were.
But that day...that day turned as soon as the sun set.
I was in my home when I heard the shouts outside. My first impulse was to run out and face what ever was making the ruckus, but I grabbed my sword before doing so. There was a crowd of villagers forming and I made my way into it. The larger people pushed and shoved me but I fought through. A woman on a horse with a child were in the center of the crowd. It took me a moment before I understood who they were.
I said nothing, simply staring at the silver haired woman. She glanced towards me before the Elders finally broke the ring. I stood stupidly aside and watched as the two dismounted, the child hanging closely, and then were led away to the Council House. Finally, I shook myself from my stupor and began getting everyone to settle down. We were not visited often, but that did not mean that we were in danger! In my heart, my words meant nothing to me, but they managed to calm the others. I was a child, but I had always been a wise child and they trusted my council.
By the time everyone was back in their homes, the moon was high and it was quite time to be asleep. However, I felt restless. Instead of going home once more, I walked, making sure everything was back to normal. I checked the stairs to the Field, then the graveyard, but there was nothing out of order. Walking through the village, I couldn't quell the sense of unease I felt.
I turned at the sound of my name, spying one of the Elders standing in the open doorway of the Council House. He looked...almost sorrowful. Immediately, the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach multiplied ten fold.
"Yes, sir?" I answered, keeping my quiet voice calm and impassive. I knew my expression wasn't showing any of the irrational fear I felt, but I wasn't sure about my eyes. I wasn't very good at hiding my fear yet. The Elder only looked sadder as he beckoned me inside. Hoping my instinct was very wrong I followed him. The Council House was little more than a large room with chairs set in a circle on an intricate rug. I found myself looking through the designs on the rug, somehow knowing it would probably be the last time I saw it.
Someone cleared their throat and I was forced to raise my gaze. They were all looking at me, the Elders and the two strangers. The little girl in purple and white was gazing at me with a particular expression. Her large blue eyes, which should have been full of youth and energy like mine, were dull and matured, the eyes of a wise old one. I tore my own from her to look at the woman she stood beside. The silver haired warrior was a normal figure in our home and I knew her well.
"Impa-sama," I murmured. "What is it you wish of me?"
Her eyes, much like my own scarlet, pierced me and dug into my soul. Impa had always awed me. She had this strange power to look into my soul. When I was a very young child, she always knew when I lied or when I had done something wrong, even if she hadn't seen the results of it. She was strong and powerful, skilled in so many ways. Thinking of it now, she was everything I had wanted to be.
"Princess Zelda must be hidden," she told me. I glanced at the girl. She was my age definitely, but regal and old looking. I turned my eyes again.
"Am I to guard her?" I asked. Was I to give my life away to protect the Royal Family, as was my duty as one of the last two Sheikah, to whom my own name honored? Sheik, last of the Sheikah children ever to be born! I was bound by blood to do this if asked of me, even in my youth of a mere ten years.
Impa didn't answer me. Instead, it was the child, Princess Zelda, who finally spoke.
"You are to integrate with me."
"Integrate?" My voice was shaky and scared and I cursed it.
"To become one with me."
She stood before me, her eyes pleading as she slowly went to her knees. She was begging me for something I didn't understand, something I wasn't sure I would give her. I was completely numbed. Why was the Princess kneeling before me like our roles were switched?
"I must hide," she said and I saw tears fighting to leave her eyes but she would not let them. She was too strong for this. "You are of the proper age, the only one of this village who is both that and Sheikah. Please, you must help me..."
I felt helpless. No matter what I said, I knew this was already decided. I wasn't able to keep my voice from straying to defeat. "It is my duty to protect the Royal Family with everything I have..."
"No!" she shouted, rising. I jumped in surprise, scarlet eyes widening and locking onto her blue. They were suddenly bright and fiery, empowered. "It cannot be duty! You have to choose! I won't let you if it is not by choice!"
No words came to my lips. There was nothing I could have said. Did she not understand? No matter what I wished, I was Sheikah; I had to keep her safe. There was no choice in that. It was in my blood.
"Calm yourself," Impa said quietly, setting a hand on the Princess's shoulder. Zelda went quiet, but I could see her eyes were far from cool. I would make it easy on her.
She didn't look surprise when I went to one knee at her feet, nor was she angry. I could see only sorrow fill those sapphire depths. I bowed my head and closed my eyes.
"I, Sheik of the Sheikah, am bound by blood and choice to the protection of the Royal Princess of Hyrule, Zelda, until the day I die," I murmured. "I grant my assistance in any way she asks of me."
"Rise," Zelda whispered. I stood once more, eye to eye with her as we stared each other down. Then she reached out and cupped my cheek in her palm. She leaned forward and her voice quieted so much that I had to strain to hear it at all. "I am so very sorry..."
She did ask for my life. No, I was not to die, but it was as close as any living could get. She used her magic and hid inside me, but that was not where it ended. My consciousness was pressed back, a small voice in the back of my own mind while she took over my body so completely. It hurt. The pain was so very vivid, so raw. My muscles ached afterward from the mere remembrance. But the worst of it all was not the physical pain.
I could not lift a finger. I could not speak. I had absolutely no control over myself anymore. Once I realized this, figured out exactly what she had asked of me, I broke down in my little corner. I cried and raged and yelled, kicked and screamed, though I knew it was in vain. There was nothing she could do now that it was done. She tried to comfort me, but I refused to listen to me. I was completely at her mercy. I was...helpless, utterly helpless.
After my first fit, I didn't bother her. I stayed quiet in my corner, only vaguely noticing the passage of time. I sat by and watched as she got stronger, learned to fight…as she learned to kill. The change should have scared me, but I felt far too dead inside to be scared. The world was dying and I died with it.
I saw everything she saw, heard was she heard, felt what she felt. But it was all at a distance, as it had to be. I would not go insane from it. I refused to. If I were insane, I would be of no use to the Royal Family. It too me a long time before I was able to council her without bitterness. She listened to me, spoke to me, and it was the only real stimuli I had. The only thing I could affect.
In her dreams, we sat in the grassy Field, wind in our hair and sweet scents hanging in the air. We talked and discussed things. We practiced fighting. She was quicker than I, but not as powerful, and we were both resourceful and smart. I taught her and she taught me. We existed this way for years as the world deteriorated.
And then one day we found ourselves in the Temple of Time. It was there that I met him.
He was tall and strong, a strapping youth of seventeen with a beautiful face and fierce eyes. He looked at me (no, not me, but even after so long it was hard to think that it was her, not me,) with distrust and spoke in a rich, deep voice that made me want to shiver. I wanted ever so badly to touch that smooth skin, to pet his silky blonde hair...But I could not. She was in control. She decided what we did. She did everything.
When we left him, I wanted to cry and rage once more, but I did not. Instead, I turned away from her and burrowed as deeply into my own mind as I could. She called to me, but I did not answer. When she dreamed that night, I was pulled into it, but I hid in the dreamscape. She searched for me but it was only a short time before she gave up and let a true dream happen. We watched her memories of him, the small blonde boy with a fairy. So different from the man we had seen that day, but still very much the same. Those fierce eyes were exactly the same. I realized that I had seen him before in the village as a child, but could not remember why he had been there.
Through the adventure, we helped him. She did everything, but I watched until we left him again before burrowing deep again. I paid attention to nothing but him, and talked to her when we were with him, giving her advice on what to say and do, barely keeping myself from begging her to let me talk to him just once...just once would have been enough for me. But it never happened and I fled to my corner to keep from screaming at her.
She caught me one night, dragging me out into the dreamscape. There I was vulnerable. There she could call to me if she truly wished to. I could not really hide, but she had let me until then. This time, however, she held me in the tall grass, making sure I could not run away. My hands were fisted in her blouse and my head against her shoulder. She was gentle, stroking my hair as her fingers rubbed my back. I wanted to run and hide again, but she refused to let me go.
"Sheik, please talk to me," she whispered in my ear. Over the years we were together, I had never shut her out before and it scared her. But what else did she want from me? I could hide nothing from her. She had my body, my mind, my memories...Did she want my soul as well? But she heard these thoughts as soon as they appeared in my mind and held me tighter. She was close to tears. "It's not like that, Sheik, please..."
"I cannot disobey you," I murmured in response, my voice dead to even myself. Sitting back into duty was so easy for me. "Refusing to do anything you wish of me is impossible, Princess."
She stiffened. I had stopped calling her that years ago, but it was so much easier to say it now. It was so much less personal, so cold. So lifeless. When she relaxed again, I knew she would not press me this time. She would allow me my silence. She would not force me to bare everything for her.
Nights passed and I stopped hiding from her. She didn't ask me to talk to her anymore and let me be. I knew she felt guilty. I had reminded her that all this happened because I hadn't understood what she asked of me at such a young age. Had reminded her that I was a slave in my own body because of her.
When my village burned, I cried inside but she did not let tears fall. She was fond of this place, but it was not her home. She could not cry for it. Besides, she had things to do. There was no time for my grief. He had to be prepared, after all.
The day I had been waiting for finally came. It was time to take off the mask. We stood in the Temple of Time once more, so like the first time I met him. He was looking at me so strangely as she reached up to pull the cloth down. I didn't understand what she was doing, yet I knew somehow that it would be over so very soon. And it was. In a flash, everything faded away. I screamed, crying as I tried to reach for his fading image, but saw no arm before me. Once he was gone, I simply lay still in the darkness.
I felt weak, my body too heavy to think of moving it, unable to open my eyes. For a long time, I was not aware of my surroundings. I was content to stay in my mind as I had done for the past seven years.
"Will he ever wake?"
The voice was soft, saddened. I nearly responded but had forgotten how.
"Who knows? The poor thing..." another woman, older and motherly. "He reminds me of a boy I used to know..."
"He disappeared before things got bad. Thank goodness those days are gone..."
I opened my eyes for the first time in seven long and horrible years. I opened them, not her! I did! But the light was too bright for me and I had to close them almost immediately, but they saw the movement. The older woman hushed her companion when the girl let out a surprised sound and I felt both sets of eyes on me. My eyes opened once more and this time I was able to keep them from tearing up. Slowly, I turned my head and gazed at them. I was so surprised that I remembered how to move myself at all.
The older woman leaned forward and gently wiped sweat from my brow. I simply stared at her, shocked that I had the choice to look at what I wanted now. I could close my own eyes, I could turn my own head, and I could use my own voice!
But all I could get out of my throat was a jumbled sound before I went into a coughing fit. My voice had been raspy and harsh, my throat raw from who knew what. I felt as if I had been under fever for months. When I came to myself again, I found that the woman was cradling me to her chest, gently rubbing my back and murmuring softly to me. It reminded me so much of the days with Zelda that I broke out into a cold sweat. Would this fade away? Was it merely a fantasy Zelda made for me? A dream she created? For she had done that many times. It was never to be cruel. Zelda was not a cruel woman. But it had always left me with such a longing afterward.
The woman sensed my unease and laid me back down. She smiled at me, but it was forced and small. "You're all right, dear. No need to panic..."
I had neither the strength nor the will to stay awake longer than that.
Later, I was told that I had been found on the stairs to the village, unconscious and burning with a horrible fever. The last of the Stalchilds would have killed me if someone hadn't stumbled across me in time. None had been able to wake me so one woman decided she would care for me until I woke. I was asleep for days, nearing two full weeks. She had been able to wake me half way to give me water or food, but I was never truly aware. Her daughter cared for me when she could not.
The two women, Aridine and her daughter Kiris, were willing to let me stay as long as I wished. My injuries weren't much more than scratches all over, though my sprained right wrist left me mostly useless for working and my weakness was overbearing. When I could finally stand for a long period of time, I helped the women with their housework, though Aridine assured me I didn't need to. I felt useless otherwise. Aridine gave me clothing, simple black pants and a soft blue shirt, my own clothing shredded by the Stalchilds. She fed me. She cared for my wounds. I was very much indebted to her.
I could not speak. It was not that I had no voice. It was simply that I had forgotten how to. I could make sounds, keep the pitches to question or statement, but I had to relearn how to form words. Aridine was very helpful and for the few late hours of the day, she would teach me. It took about two months after I woke to get most of my speech back again, but I rarely used it. Aridine said it was all right that I didn't talk. She said I was expressive enough without the sounds.
The days were spent doing work around the house until I healed, then I did whatever jobs Aridine needed done. I fixed the hole in her roof, helped weed her garden, anything to occupy my time. Once dark fell, I was tired enough to go to sleep immediately, just how I intended. I didn't need, nor want time to think.
Kiris grew close to me. She was younger by a few years with beautiful green eyes and dark hair framing her pretty face. Kiris was almost as quiet as I was and gave me the companionship I so very much needed. I hadn't realized just what the last seven years had done to me. I had not touched, looked at, or talked to anyone except Zelda. I had had no control over my life. And now I had it back again and I could decide what I wanted. I could do what I wished. I think Kiris understood that she would be nothing more than a close friend to me, but she pressed for nothing more. I did grow to love her and was grateful that she was around, but my love for her was only of the brotherly kind. Aridine treated me as her son, so I suppose they just became my foster family.
Hyrule was calm then. The dark cloud of evil had been lifted and all were happy once more. The rebuilt Kakariko village I lived in prospered and the world was at ease. My life had fallen into a familiar pattern and it was all I could ask for. It lasted for a year.
Of course someone had to come and stir things up once more.