CHAPTER NINE: KING OF THE WIND
Rei woke up on his own that morning, his sleep having been undisturbed. His first conscious thought was to wonder where the knives had gone, or where Talien or Damodred were. After lying in bed for a few minutes, staring at the doorway, Rei Elanis finally deduced that nobody was going to try to wake him up in a strange and cruel way. Not that Talien was strange or cruel, or anything, but it felt pleasant to be able to start the day naturally, without anybody else acting as an alarm clock (And in Damodred's case, the clock had knives).
And so, Rei woke up. He shuffled around as he always used to, his brain on autopilot, and somehow managed to make it all the way through showering and getting dressed before he actually woke up. And still, there was peace and quiet. Nobody else to worry about. Rei calmly wondered to himself if anybody was even going to come for him today, but he decided that it was an uncomfortable thought, and so put it out of his mind in a hurry. There were more important things to think about, namely breakfast.
Breakfast was quiet, as well. There was the normal scattering of Sheikah eating at roughly the same time, but still no sign of either Talien or Damodred. Rei was pleased. Talien was slowly becoming a father figure, and Rei rather enjoyed his presence, but it still felt nice to be left alone for a little bit.
This feeling lasted for all of ten minutes.
Rei was bored. The disadvantages of having nobody to talk to were slowly making themselves apparent. Within twenty minutes of eating his first meal of the day, Rei was actually trying to find either of his companions. He came across Damodred first.
She was leaning against a wall, head down and eyes closed. To the casual observer, it looked like she had fallen asleep. Rei had seen her like this enough to know that the truth was quite different: She was simply bored.
"Good morning," Rei greeted her cheerfully, leaning against the same wall.
"Go jump down a well," was her equally friendly response, punctuated with a smirk.
He smiled back. "That... Would be painful. So, how's your day been going?"
Damodred smirked again. "My 'day' has been 'going' for eight hours now, and for most of those, I was asleep. It's fine so far. Although," She added, "That fact is highly subject to change. How's your 'day' been going?"
Rei shrugged. "Boring. Couldn't find either you or Talien today. What's going on?"
"What do you mean, exactly?"
"I mean," Rei answered, "Nobody woke me up today, nobody approached me for training... I ate breakfast alone."
"This must be a proud day for you," she said dryly, "Soon we'll have you eating lunch all by yourself. And remember," she grinned at him, "You're Special."
Rei chuckled slightly at the remark. "Good one, Damodred. Hey- where were you two, today, anyway?"
"And... What happened to my training?"
Rei blinked He blinked again. And, just for good measure, he blinked yet again. "What? Over?"
"But... you you've only been training me for two weeks... I've barely learned anything!"
She shrugged. "So? Two weeks is all that you get." Damodred casually pulled out her knife and began filing her nails with it. Rei started to suspect that she did it simply to annoy him.
"But... Why?" he asked, still in a state of near-shock.
"Allow me to rephrase," She said, flicking the knife closed. "Each Sheikah member gets exactly two weeks of formal training. By formal training, we mean what you've been through."
"And that would be..."
"That would be," she answered, "Two weeks of not having a choice in the matter. You have to admit, we didn't exactly give you very many options."
"But... what do I do now?"
"Volunteer to train under any of us, informally. It won't be much different, except that you can choose when to stop and when to go, and who to train with. It's all up to you now."
"It's what?" Rei asked, still not quite grasping the concept.
Damodred sighed. Rei began to realize that he might be annoying her.
"I'll repeat myself. From now on, your training goes by your choice. You can choose who will train you, and in what. If that's still too complex an idea for you, I'll try to make it more simple." She drew in a deep breath, and yelled out the next sentence. "We're leaving your training up to you, you thick-headed twit!"
Rei finally got the idea.
"So... if I wanted you to train me..."
"Then you'd ask, and I'd start training you again!" She snapped at him, now noticeably annoyed.
"And if I didn't want you to train me?"
Damodred sighed and put her hand on her forehead. "Then you wouldn't have to worry about me throwing bladed instruments at you every morning. Get it into your head, boy! We're leaving this up to you!"
"So... I have total freedom?" he asked sheepishly. Damodred clenched her fists, but somehow managed to speak in a relatively level tone.
"Tell me, Rei... when you were born, did they replace your brain with a bale of hay?"
Damodred smirked. "I thought so," she commented, and then feigned ignoring him for a little while. Rei decided that it might be more prudent if he let the issue rest for a while.
And so, they both stayed there, leaning against the wall. There was no difference in their posture, but it was noticeable that Damodred looked as though she belonged there, like a permanent fixture, and that Rei did not.
Fifteen minutes later, Rei began to appreciate leaning silently against a wall, eyes closed. It gave him time to think. If what Damodred was saying was true, then he really was free to train with whomever he chose. Or, if he so wished, he could drop his training altogether, and just go on with life. The first thing that came into his mind was how that system gave him too much freedom; too many opportunities to screw everything up. The second thing that he realized was that this was more of a test of his maturity, of his responsibility. He could either take advantage of this situation and make full use of his potential, or he could do nothing and become a failure, with nobody to warn or correct him. All of a sudden, Rei felt as though the burdens of the entire world had been shifted onto his shoulders in one great conflagration known as "Training." He felt uneasy. Rei glanced to his left, over at Damodred. After the last two weeks, he had already made up his mind not to train with her. However... in under twenty days she had taught him things about the nature of using a blade that he had never thought himself capable of learning. Glancing slightly down, he noted that she currently had both swords girded at her side. The woman basically exuded over-readiness, but that could come in handy when survival was at stake. Still, she acted like a demon when teaching him said things about using the said blade, and Rei preferred to be able to walk come evening. Talien, he had already decided, was a definite yes. He would train with the man in whatever ways that Talien had to offer him. But still... would that mean that Talien's female partner would join in, too? Somehow, Rei doubted it. Still, in the back recesses of his mind, he had the vague feeling that Damodred's way of training would be best for him. This thought lasted all of ten seconds. Damodred was quite officially out of the running for "teacher" status. There was no way in all of the boundaries of the afterlife that she'd be giving him any kind of weapons training in the near or far future. Period. End of story. No more discussion will be held on the matter. There can be no other choice. She wasn’t even an option. He’d just have to find someone else, that was all.
"Damodred, I'd like you to train me," Rei said finally, after taking a deep breath.
"Oh?" she glanced over at him. "You do, do you?"
This is it! Rei thought to himself, Your last chance to say no! "yeah... you're really skilled, and I think that I can learn a lot from you." NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! You fool! What do you think you're doing?
She smiled, and gave him a slight head nod. Offering her hand, Damodred spoke again. "You realize, of course, what you're doing to yourself. In agreeing to this, I mean."
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Rei answered, clasping her hand in a deal-sealing handshake. "You're going to beat me to a pulp every day, and I'll probably be thanking you for it."
"At least you're honest with yourself," She commented, returning to her earlier place against the wall. "You know, it's funny. Not too many people choose to go back to Hell after they've made their escape."
"But what if Hell makes them fireproof?" Rei commented back. Damodred threw back her head and laughed.
"You're learning, Rei. But you're still an idiot."
The impact of what he had just done was still sinking into Rei's mind when Talien came in, holding a piece of paper in his hand.
"Hey, good news, guys! I think I've gotten us a job!"
Rei blinked. "A job?"
Talien unfolded the paper, and scanned over it again before answering him. "Yes- an assignment, and from the Queen's vizier, no less! Rei, if you wouldn't mind, I think I'd like to have you along."
Rei shrugged. "Sure, why not," he answered. Rei heard Damodred chuckle quietly in the background, and he became very afraid for the future.
On horseback, on the way to the Royal Palace, Talien further explained their new assignment. Damodred, for the most part, remained silent as she rode alongside them.
"According to this royal edict, it seems that a monster calling himself the 'King of the Wind' has taken over the Goron throne room, and is blocking off all of their political activities and food supply. Also according to this, Amadeus De Castillo suggested that she hire out some Sheikah instead of sending royal troops- which could be seen as ana ct of aggression- and I managed to be the first to talk to the royal messenger."
"Lord Amadeus?" Rei asked.
Talien nodded. "Yes, him. Apparently this order comes directly from him."
"Wow," Rei commented, and then he remembered something. "Hey... I think I actually met him once."
"Yeah, you told me that earlier," Talien commented, "It seems that you're about to get a second chance."
"Have either of you met him before?" Rei asked the other two.
"Yeah, once or twice. We've done a few jobs for him in the past," came Talien's answer.
"A few more times than that," Damodred added, "He knows who we are now whenever we work for him. The man has an incredible memory."
"More than that," Talien added to Damodred's statement, "He's really one of the most intelligent minds in Hyrule. He's a lot better than some of our other employers."
Damodred smirked. "It's always the polite ones who end up ruling the world, anyway."
Rei nodded, and took all of the information in. "What about this King of the Wind?" he asked. "Do either of you know anything about him?"
Talien shrugged. "A little here and there," He commented, "Mostly what I've heard from other people. This shouldn't be too tough, though. Just different."
"Different means not the same," Damodred answered.
"What?' Rei asked back.
"Not the same means different," She said with a smirk.
"Bale of hay, Rei. Bale of hay."
The last comment kept Rei in confusion for the remainder of the trip, while Damodred shook her head and laughed in silence.
Amadeus reclined in his chair, basking in his moment of non-working peace. Currently, there was nothing important to do, and that meant that he could sit back and relax until the next major crisis. The Great Lord Amadeus De Castillo smiled and spun around in his chair, enjoying a moment of childlike calmness. He was brought back to the grownup world when Miyu walked in through the door. He could tell that she was suppressing laughter.
She smiled at him. "Ama, there are three guests to see you, claiming to be Sheikah. Do you wish to see them?"
He shrugged. "Why are they here?"
"They're here about the Goron situation."
Amadeus nodded. "Send them in," he said.
Miyu gave a short bow, and walked out of the room. Shortly, she returned with all three guests. Amadeus smiled at them and stood up. He offered a hand to Talien.
"Somehow I expected that you'd be the one to take the job," he commented, grinning. The two of them shook.
"You're good to do business with," Talien replied. Amadeus nodded in agreement.
"And likewise." he looked over to Damodred, and gave her a nod as well. Then he turned toward Rei. "So, you brought someone new, did you?" Amadeus stopped for a second, thinking. "Where have I seen you before..." he asked both to himself and to Rei.
"A little while ago you were visiting my home town of Napouro, and I showed you around for a bit."
Amadeus' face brightened with the recollection, and he shot Rei an affirming grin. "That's right- Rei, isn't it? I never forget a face." They shook hands, and the acquaintance was more or less set from that point on.
"So, Rei, you're a Sheikah?"
Rei nodded. "Yes, sir," he said.
"He just became one two weeks ago," Talien added, "Almost immediately after Napouro was attacked- did you hear about that?"
Amadeus nodded solemnly. "Yes, I know about it. That was tragic. There's too much violence in the world today."
"Much too much," Talien agreed.
"It keeps us in business, though," Damodred commented.
"That it does," Talien added, "But if it's all the same, I'd rather be out of work than have to deal with this much corruption."
"It's almost as though Ganon's evil never really left this world when he did," Amadeus said gravely, "And sometimes I wonder about even that."
Everyone remained silent for a moment. It was Amadeus who finally broke the silence, adopting a businesslike attitude for the moment.
"Now, let's get down to business," he said, "To begin with, I need to get you three checked out with the Queen before you're actually allowed to go and do anything. After that, I'll have Miyu brief you on what we know, and we'll supply you with any supplies that you might need to get the job done. Come with me, please."
Amadeus led, and the others followed behind him.
"We're actually going to see the Queen?" Rei whispered to Talien on the way there. The older Hylian nodded.
"Just remember, Amadeus is generally informal, but Zelda is not." Talien whispered back, "She's been through a lot in her life. Don't just treat her like a queen, also treat her like a fragile piece of glass. She commands respect, and deserves it. Pay no attention to the fact that she's roughly your age, and you'll do fine."
Rei nodded, taking it all in. He had heard about Queen Zelda before, of course, and already had an idea of how to act around her; but there was a world of difference between hearing about how to act when in the royal court, and actually being there.
"Just watch me and watch Damodred, and you'll do fine. Pay absolutely no attention to how Amadeus behaves himself- he's her closest ally, and he's allowed to be relatively informal if he so wishes." Rei nodded again.
Presently they entered the throne room without ceremony. The Queen, instead of sitting on the Royal Throne, was standing with her back turned to everybody and everything, looking out the window. Her hands were clasped behind her back.
"Enter," she said quietly, "Amadeus, I presume?"
"Yes, My Queen," he answered, walking up behind her. "Three members of the Sheikah are here, about the Goron issue."
Zelda nodded, and turned around. Immediately Talien and Damodred knelt down on one knee in unison. Rei followed suit.
"You may rise," The Queen said, walking over to her throne. She sat down quietly. "Please state your names."
Talien went first, placing his right hand over his heart and bowing his head slightly. "Talien Minosa, My Queen."
Damodred went second, following the exact same motions. "Damodred, My Queen."
Rei followed after, the fact that Damodred didn't mention a last name barely registering in his thoughts.
"Rei Elanis, My Queen," He said, bowing his head and placing his hand over his heart.
The Queen nodded, and turned toward Amadeus. "They are all members of the Sheikah?"
"Yes, My Queen. I have had some business dealings with two of them before, and I can vouch for them in every possible way."
"Then we should have no problems hiring them," Zelda replied, glancing back to the others. "And as for their payment? Individual, or split?"
"We agreed on one lump sum, evenly split between them," Amadeus answered, and Talien nodded in confirmation.
"Then you are hired," The Queen stated, "You are welcome to any supplies that you may need before you go. After you complete the job, return here to give a full report and collect your payment. You are welcome to stay the night in the castle if you wish."
And at that, the meeting with the Queen of Hyrule was adjourned.