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of amber and sapphire

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Wind blows through the trees gently, rustling the leaves and causing the loose ones to drift through the air, slowly falling down onto the grass below. Eijun leans back against a tree trunk as he watches the world around him shift and change, the breeze causing the hair around his face to flutter around. A few strands catch under his nose and tickle him, making him scrunch up his face. He reaches up and tugs the strands back, tucking them neatly away behind his pointed ear. His fingers brush against the edge of his ear, feeling the slight ridges of scars against his skin.

 

Eijun sighs out as he looks up towards the sky. It’s a clear, bright and sunny day. There’s nothing for the Hero of Hyrule to worry about anymore, having defeated Ganon some years back. Still, there’s always a small wave of anxiety that builds at the pit of his stomach when there are peaceful days like this.

 

He worries that eventually, one day, while their world is recovering, that Ganon will strike again. It’s a hard concept to grasp, that the Great Calamity is finally done and over with. Eijun often struggles to remember that, waking up every single day and preparing himself for a long journey, to try and defeat the Calamity once more. His best friend, and the prince of Hyrule, often has to remind him that everything is okay. That they’re okay. Hyrule is safe, and you are to thank for that.

 

Eijun is happy that Hyrule is safe, of course! He couldn’t be happier about it. However, the pressure of being known as the Hero of Hyrule does come with its own set of burdens. People praise him everywhere he goes, ask him about how he did it, or ask him to tell them about what it was like, fighting Ganon up so close.

 

The Hylian often refuses to look back on those memories. He remembers from 100 years prior what it had been like to fight Calamity Ganon in his prime, the terrifying experience of the world becoming consumed with darkness. Watching his friends, his family, be shot down one by one. Eijun’s mind still terrors at those memories, and he keeps them locked away tight within the recesses of his mind. Fighting the Calamity again had, admittedly, been different, though. He was not alone this time. He had his friends -- his family -- with him, fighting alongside him, though it was only their spirits.

 

In the end, Eijun saved the world and his best friend.

 

Now, the Hylian hero spends his days as blissful and as carefree as he had a hundred years ago. He had wanted to keep protecting Haruichi, the Hylian prince (and his best friend), but Eijun knew that life was no longer for him. Eijun spends his days among the wild, exploring to his heart’s content as he roams all of Hyrule and the surrounding lands. He keeps the same areas, however, as he always comes back home to Hyrule Castle and Haruichi.

 

He’s currently in a forest somewhere between Hyrule and the Zora’s domain, letting himself rest. He’s been journeying for a few days now, only resting when absolutely necessary, and now his body is telling him to slow down, much like what everyone else does. Eijun is prone to overworking himself and his body, which tends to be a little bit of a burden for the Hylian when he wants to meet with people. His joints and bones are aching, reminding Eijun to just take it easy for a while longer. He pulls the sword from his back, unseathing it carefully, and sets it in his lap, taking a cloth from his hip and beginning to clean the blade gently. The blade doesn’t really need cleaning, but it’s a habit that Eijun picked up since he pulled the sword.

 

Minutes roll into hours, and as the hours pass, night soon begins to fall. Eijun stands from the trunk of the tree and begins to gather loose tree branches, setting them up in a pile. He settles down beside the pile of branches and grabs his flint rocks, creating sparks with them by scraping them against his sword. Fire catches to the twigs quickly, creating a low light and heat source that Eijun revels in. After putting his supplies away, Eijun nestles himself down against the ground, curled up, facing the fire, golden eyes watching the flames dance in the night air. He falls asleep at some point, carried away without any problems.

 

***

 

The castle is dark.

 

It’s too dark.

 

The darkness is like a heavy veil, suffocating Eijun and preventing him from seeing wherever he’s going. He doesn’t know where he is, and he hasn’t been able to find Haruichi. From the outside, the castle had seemed normal; the flags were high and flying free, the gardens were bustling with servants and workers, and he swore he had seen Haruichi standing from the balcony of his room. But as soon as he stepped inside, darkness consumed him.

 

Eijun feels panic welling up inside of him, the terror of remembering that this was some of the same darkness he had seen from Ganon a hundred years before, and only just finally fought off several years back.

 

The hero starts to run then, aimlessly, turning whatever corners he thinks he feels and trying to make sense of where he might be. Soon, Eijun emerges from the darkness and is blinded by a sudden light. He blinks rapidly, trying to adjust his eyes to whatever light is surrounding him. The light isn’t even that bright. It’s dull and dim, but it burns Eijun’s eyes as he scans the area he’s made it to.

 

His heart and breathing stop.

 

On the floor, Eijun sees red and pink mixed together, arms encasing a head. Eijun’s body begins to shake, his mouth falling open as he tries to call out. Nothing comes, though. His voice is stuck inside of his throat, unable to call out to his best friend on the floor. His chest tightens as his body trembles, his knees buckling under him and causing him to fall to the floor. Eijun’s breathing becomes erratic, eyes wide and shaking as he stares at the blood slowly creeping towards him on the stone floor. Panic settles in the pit of his stomach, his mouth widening as he suddenly screams.

 

The prince is d--

 

Eijun’s eyes fly open, gasping out for air as he shoots up from the ground. His eyes are wide and quivering as he pants fast, bringing a hand up to his chest to grasp at the shirt clinging to his chest. Sweat covers his entire body, his hair sticking to his forehead and his clothes sticking to his chest. The fire he had made has died, the embers of the wood barely smoking in the night. His body is trembling some as he sits there, trying to clear his mind.

 

It wasn’t uncommon for him to suffer from nightmares. Ever since he regained memories from 100 years ago, Eijun has been plagued with remembering the first defeat against Ganon over and over. Even though Ganon is gone now, Eijun’s mind still torments him with the what ifs and it usually drives Eijun crazy. The Hylian sighs to himself and rubs the sleep and panic out of his eyes, wrestling with his body to make himself stand from the ground. His legs are a bit shaky, but Eijun pulls himself together fairly quickly.

 

He gathers his things and takes off in the direction of the Zora’s domain, the gently smoking embers long forgotten behind him.

 

***

 

“Eijun, you’ve returned.”

 

Eijun smiles brightly as he sees Chris, the Zora man giving him a gentle smile as he stands guard outside the entrance of the Zora’s domain. The Zora stands much taller than Eijun does, which isn’t so hard to do. Nearly all adult Zora, including the women of the race, tend to be taller than the Hylian hero. Eijun only stands a few inches above five feet, which is still rather short for a Hylian. Eijun makes up for his height in terms of brawn, however; he doesn’t allow anyone to underestimate him just because he isn’t tall.

 

Chris is one of the rare, brighter coloured Zoras. Though Zoras can be of any variation of colours, most Zoras tend to fall in line with blues, purples, reds, and pinks. Aside from those, it’s quite rare for them to have skin of different shades. Chris’s scales are a gentle yellow colour, muted, and yet it provides a summery type of feel when gazing upon him. One could compare his scales to the lovely forsythia blossoms, if they’re to know what they are, but Eijun has never been able to recall them. To Eijun, Chris is the colour of sunshine and it makes him happy. He’s always adored the way Chris has looked, though he’s always looked up to the Zora warrior since they came into contact years ago.

 

The Zora’s eyes match his skin, though they’re a little more golden in colour than his skin. Eijun likes to think that they have matching eyes, which only makes the Hylian even happier whenever he’s side by side with his Zora friend. Chris is quite the handsome Zora, though many often find the Zora race to be rather beautiful. He wears a loose amulet around his neck, hanging gently against his chest, and on his hips is a chain of blue gems. They glow in the gentle sunlight and twinkle upon the certain ways that Chris moves. They jingle just slightly whenever he moves, and Eijun is usually fascinated by them. Upon wrists are bracelets, and upon his ankles are anklets, both of which match the belt Chris wears.

 

“What brings you here, Eijun?” Chris asks, holding a hand out in greeting.

 

Eijun continues to smile as he takes it, shrugging his shoulders a bit. “Honestly, nothing… I’ve just been wandering for a few days, and I figured I’d stop by and say hi! It’s been a while since I’ve visited and whatnot!”

 

Chris blinks slightly before he gives a smile, slowly nodding his head a bit. “Ah, I see. Well, you’re always welcome here, of course. After all, you did save our home from Vah Ruta…”

 

Eijun rocks on his feet a little, rubbing at the side of his neck a bit. “Has anything new been happening lately? What’s everyone been up to?”

 

“Well, quite a bit, actually. The anniversary of Lady Rei’s birth is coming up… ah, I mean, her birthday, as Hylians call it,” Chris corrects himself as he talks, beginning to walk with Eijun through the domain. “There is preparation to celebrate it, so King Dorephan has been rather stressed and busy. You know his son, yes?” Chris turns his head some, glancing down to Eijun at his side.

 

Eijun purses his lips together at the mention of the King’s son, letting out a slight grunt. “Unfortunately.”

 

Rain poured from overhead as Eijun’s footsteps sloshed against the ground, boots becoming covered in mud. His clothes were absolutely soaked through, the heavy rain never stopping for a moment. He had several instructions from a few Zoras, directing him to Inogo Bridge, claiming that one Prince Kazuya was waiting for him there. Eijun grunted softly as he climbed over a rock, sighing out heavily. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, letting the rain wash over him for a moment, before he looked forward. The bridge was there in all its glory, with two tall pillars protruding from the ground, lights glowing in the darkness of the storm.

 

“You there!” A voice suddenly boomed out through the rain. It startled Eijun, making him look back and forth quickly, reaching back to grab at the sword on his back. “Above you!”

 

Eijun threw his head back and squinted through the rain, now spotting who exactly was calling to him. Above, standing on one of the pillars, was another Zora.

 

The Zora suddenly jumped off of the pillar, flipping in the air, and landing ceremoniously in front of Eijun. The action startled the Hylian once more, making him shift backwards. This Zora was much bigger than the others, and needless to say, towered over the Hero as he stood in front of him, staring with wide eyes. The Zora’s skin was a deep, bright blue that was nearly iridescent as the rain beat down on them. It nearly shone and shimmered under the droplets, and it reminded Eijun of the gem sapphire. He wore an intricate metal collar that ended in an ascot, flowing slightly against his broad chest. His shoulders doned metal shoulder pads, frills hanging from the end of them. On his wrists and ankles were the same type of intricately designed metal, in the form of bracelets and anklets. Across his broad chest was a strap, which when Eijun looked lower, was attached to the sheath of a sword.

 

“You… you are a Hylian, correct?” The Zora inquired with earnest, inching slightly closer to Eijun’s form.

 

Eijun could only nod, still a bit flustered by what had happened.

 

“I knew it!” The Zora grinned, before leaning himself back. He pulled up his arm beside his head, as if flexing, and spoke once more. “My name is Kazuya, and I am the Zora prince. I have come here because we Zora are in need of your help, Hylian. What is your name?”

 

“My name is… Eijun.” The Hylian replied at last, finally having gotten over his initial shock.

 

“Well, Eijun, I feel as though I have heard that name before…” The Zora -- Kazuya, Eijun needed to remember that -- said, giving a slightly pensive look. “In any case, you are here to help with the Divine Beast, are you not?”

 

Eijun nodded. “That was the plan.”

 

“Excellent!” Kazuya gave a toothy grin, and Eijun saw the rows of sharp teeth. It made him shiver slightly. “I’ve seen you fighting your way here. I must tell you, the road to the Zora’s domain will be much tougher than what you’ve faced up to now… there are heavy rains in our land, so climbing around is nearly impossible. You’ll have to fight many monsters to get to the innerworks of the domain.” Kazuya explained, now turning his body to point down Inogo Bridge, into the deepest area of the Zora River.

 

“Hopefully you’ll be able to handle it.” He remarked.

 

Eijun bristled at the comment suddenly, face somewhat twisting up in annoyance. “I’ll be able to make it just fine! You’ll see, Kazuya the Zora!”

 

Kazuya blinked at Eijun’s comeback, before he grinned, teeth glinting a bit within the rain. “Well, I will see you at the end then, Eijun the Hylian. Good luck! You’ll need it!”

 

Before Eijun could get another word in, the Zora prince dove into the river, swimming away at a breakneck pace. Eijun gritted his teeth together and immediately took off down Inogo Bridge, headed in the direction of the Zora’s Domain.

 

Chris gives a small laugh at the Hylian’s comment, raising his lids a little. “Unfortunately?”

 

“Of course!” Eijun huffs, furrowing his eyebrows together. He looks up towards Chris then and makes a wide gesture with his hands. “He was the worst when we met! You should have seen him… he absolutely doubted me, in everything I did, I swear! He always had this… stupid, smug look on his face and it was just… ugh!”

 

The Zora laughs beside him again, reaching a hand up to gently touch Eijun’s shoulder. “That is just the prince, Eijun. Perhaps he felt he could be a bit more playful with you, especially after knowing that you helped his sister those hundred years ago.”

 

Eijun scrunches his nose up and turns his head away some, letting out a quiet huff again. “I don’t know… but I can’t stand him! He’s so full of himself, and I’m pretty sure his little fan club only adds to his own ego.”

 

“He is not that bad, Eijun.” Chris says softly, turning his attention forward again.

 

The Hylian’s eyes follow Chris’s movement and he decides to let the topic go, before he asks about the preparations for Lady Rei’s birthday celebration. As Chris goes into the details, Eijun’s mind slowly wanders back to the topic of Kazuya, remembering their later interactions.

 

“The Hylian is here!” A Zora guard immediately announced Eijun’s presence within the Zora’s Domain as Eijun drug himself across the bridge.

 

He had fought many monsters on the road to the Zora’s domain, and he was fairly injured. His bones and body ached as the rain continued to pelt down on him, only making his wounds ache even more. Instead of Prince Kazuya being the first one to greet him at the opening of the Zora’s domain, a yellow Zora met him. His eyes were wide with concern as he helped Eijun walk to one of the inner rooms. It was covered, preventing any rain from getting in.

 

Eijun soon learned that this Zora’s name was Chris. He was much kinder and gentler than the Prince had been, and Eijun immediately knew he would like him the most.

 

“We need to take a look at your wounds…” Chris muttered quietly, beginning to strip Eijun down.

 

The Hylian gave no fuss as Chris stripped him of his wet and bloodied clothes and armour. He laid still as Chris began examining his body, carefully going over whatever injuries that Eijun had. Eijun wasn’t sure how long it took, but eventually Chris managed to patch him up, good as new, and Eijun found himself falling victim to sleep.

 

When Eijun awoke some time later, his body was screaming at him. Everything about him ached, but he forced himself to get out of the bed. His clothes were on a table beside him, folded and dry, and Eijun made sure to get dressed quickly. He made his way towards the inner sanctum of the Zora’s domain, climbing up the stairs and into the throne room.

 

“Eijun!” Chris called gently, coming up to Eijun’s side with a look of concern. “You should not be moving around so…”

 

“I’m fine.” Eijun gritted out through his teeth, looking up towards where King Dorephan sat upon his throne. “I have to take care of that damn Divine Beast.”

 

“Well, it looks as if the Hylian really will live up to the challenge.” Prince Kazuya suddenly spoke up from across the room, catching Eijun’s attention.

 

Within the throne room, the colour of Kazuya’s skin was much more concentrated, a powerful sapphire colour that mesmerized even Eijun. It shone gently, as if he were truly made of the gem. Eijun gritted his teeth again and looked away from the Zora prince, catching the way he smirked as he did.

 

“What do you need me to do, King Dorephan?”

 

“So there’s going to be a festival for Lady Rei’s birthday?” Eijun asks as he and Chris descend a set of stairs.

 

Chris nods, careful to lead Eijun in the right direction. He’s taking him to where Eijun usually stays within the Zora’s domain. It’s a sheltered room at the lower level of their towered home, directly at the water’s base. There are many small rooms like that, which are where most guests stay. One room is dedicated solely to the Hero, though, and Eijun is usually shy whenever it’s mentioned. However, he still stays there as he doesn’t want to be rude.

 

“How many days away is the festival?” Eijun asks once again, stepping himself into his room.

 

“It should begin within three days.” Chris answers, standing in the doorway. “If you wouldn’t mind… you should stay, Eijun. I’m sure Lady Rei and King Dorephan would appreciate you staying.”

 

As he throws down his armour down onto the bed, Eijun grins wide. He holds a thumb up and nods, laughing loud. “Of course! I wouldn’t pass up a chance to praise Lady Rei!”

 

“Then I will be looking forward to it.” Chris smiles gently, bowing his head a bit. “I’ll go and let King Dorephan know you’ll be staying for a while.”

 

Eijun scurries over to the Zora and holds his arms out, smiling wide. “First, a hug! Then you can go.”

 

Chris chuckles out quietly and gives into his friend, hugging the Hylian for a few brief moments. When they part, Chris turns and heads back up the tower to the throne room. Eijun is left to his own devices, and he sighs out as he sits on the edge of his bed. He pushes the armour off, the metal pieces clanking loudly on the floor, before he shifts back and curls up on his side on the bed.

 

The mattress under him is soft and gentle, conforming to his body, unlike the hard ground he had slept on many times before. Eijun sighs quietly to himself as his eyes droop, fluttering open and shut for several moments, before he gives in and lets them close fully. He doesn’t know how long it takes for him to fall asleep, but before he knows it, his world is taken into black once more.

 

***

 

He’s back at the castle again.

 

It’s dark, so dark. It feels cold and damp and the air around him is so heavy that he feels like he can’t breathe.

 

Eijun doesn’t know what part of the castle he’s in again. His breathing is laboured as he moves slowly, unable to make himself run, no matter how much he’s willing his body to do so. He wanders the halls of the castle aimlessly, trying to find his way around to find where Haruichi might be. He needs to find him, to make sure that he’s okay. There’s something deep within his gut that’s telling him he’s too late for something. He doesn’t understand what he could be late for, or what he was supposed to be doing to begin with.

 

In the distance, there is light, and Eijun wills himself towards it. His legs feel so heavy, aching with every step that he takes. It feels as if he’s injured, but there’s nothing on his body that’s throbbing with pain. Slowly, the Hylian manages to take himself to the light, an opening bright before him.

 

As Eijun steps into it, everything burns.

 

His face, his skin, his eyes. He squeezes them tightly, but the light is too much. It goes right through his eyelids, as if to try and blind him. His body and mind begin to burn, his breath getting knocked out of him as he drops to his knees. There’s pain flowing throughout his entire body and he gasps for air, as if it would help him be able to breathe. The searing, bright white pain continues to flow throughout Eijun’s body, and feels as if he’s being roasted alive. His body reacts as if he’s hyperventilating, but no air comes out. He chokes on nothing as his eyes finally open once more, trying to look out in the sea of absolutely white that’s before him.

 

His eyes may be deceiving him, but he thinks he sees the outline of a body, standing just in front of him. Their mouth is moving, but Eijun hears nothing. The world is mute around him and he can no longer stand the pain. His body topples forward as his hands weakly grasp at the ground, vision blurring between black and white as he passes out.

 

Eijun awakes with a start once more, gasping inwardly. He’s lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling of his room. He sits up slowly, his body feeling as if it were just coming down from a fever. Eijun’s face twists up in pain as he grasps at his chest. It feels so tight and it hurts for him to breathe, but Eijun forces himself to take slow, deep breaths in a calming manner. He must have been having an attack while he was sleeping, which is something he’s quite used to at this point.

 

Despite the agony he feels from his body and mind, Eijun forces himself out of the bed, gathering up his clothes and putting them back on. After dressing, he leaves his room and heads to the shore just a bit aways from where he’s staying.

 

The water within the Zora’s domain is crystal clear, beautiful and calm. Watching it often helps Eijun clear his mind, reminding him of the days when he and Rei would watch the seas together and share stories, or talk about their next battle plan against Ganon. His chest twinges with pain at the memories of Rei, but there’s a smile on his face as he gazes out at the calm waves.

 

His body still feels heavy and hot, so Eijun decides that a swim will help him feel better, help him relax much more. He doesn’t want to both Chris with his nightmares again (as he did with all the other times when he woke up screaming, or nearly having a seizure in his sleep due to the intensity of it).

 

Eijun strips himself down to his underwear and sets his clothes away from the water so they won’t get too wet. He turns back to the water immediately after and grins, taking a sprinting stance, before he runs headlong at the water. He jumps up high with his powerful legs, and dives right into the water.

 

The water around him feels cool and amazing, taking an immediate effect on Eijun’s skin and bones. He pops up from the water with a gasp, before letting out a sigh, smiling happily to himself as he decides to float on his back. He stares up at the Zora domain’s structure above him, eyes gazing over every bridge and intricate designs that the Zora are known for. Eijun wades in the water as he lets himself relax, closing his eyes and enjoying the way that the water felt against his skin.

 

“Eijun?” A voice calls out, starling the Hylian within the water.

 

“Wah!” Eijun’s body reacts before his mind does, causing him to sputter and nearly drown within the water. He huffs some when he comes back up, shaking his head free of some water, and getting his long hair out of his eyes. He reaches up and pushes the hair away, just in case, and looks up to the shoreline.

 

Standing there is none other than the sapphire prince himself, Kazuya. The Zora prince grins towards Eijun, a hand on his hip as he leans his weight against his other leg.

 

“Kazuya the Zora!” Eijun shouts from the water, pointing directly at him.

 

“Eijun the Hylian.” Kazuya simply responds, grin merely growing.

 

Eijun swims himself to the shore then, climbing back onto it as he glares up in Kazuya’s direction. He hates how tall the prince is. Kazuya always has to look down on him, and Eijun is forced to look up at Kazuya. Well, it isn’t that he truly hates Kazuya’s height. If anything, Eijun does secretly enjoy the way Kazuya is nearly two feet taller than him. It’s hard for him to really get his thoughts and feelings sorted when it comes to the Zora prince.

 

On one hand, he knows just how kind and caring the prince can really be. But on the other, Eijun knows that the Zora prince Kazuya is just a snarky, foul-mouthed (loosely, in all honesty), egotistical jerk. He doesn’t know what his little fanclub sees in him! Kazuya is a piece of work that Eijun feels he has no time for, that he doesn’t really care to be working on.

 

Eijun pulls his hair around over his shoulder and begins to wring it out, still glaring up at Kazuya. “What are you doing down here, your highness? Shouldn’t you be up doing princely stuff?”

 

The Zora gives an indifferent sort of hum, green eyes gazing down towards Eijun. Eijun furrows his eyebrows together and glances down towards himself, wondering if there’s something on his body or something that looks wrong. He sees nothing out of the ordinary. His skin is littered with scars, from head to toe. Some are light and nearly faded, while some are dark and obviously there to stay. Eijun glances up towards the prince once more, now wondering if Kazuya was wondering about the many scars that were covering him.

 

“What?”

 

Kazuya waves his hand slightly before turning around. “I wanted to see if you were really here. Chris said that you were, but I wanted to see for myself.”

 

Eijun narrows his eyes once more and frowns in annoyance, finally pushing his hair back over his shoulder. “Well, now you’ve seen me! It’s rude to stare, you know! Even if you are a prince, Kazuya the Zora!”

 

Kazuya merely laughs, starting to walk off. “You never cease to amuse me, Hylian.” Eijun makes a noise of frustration and opens his mouth to retort, before the prince continues. “I’ll see you around, Eijun the Hylian~ Try not to get into too much trouble.”

 

Eijun gaps as he watches the sapphire Zora disappear up the stairs, back up into the inner sanctum of the Zora’s domain. He hisses to himself afterwards and lets out a loud groan of anger. Eijun reaches down and grabs a rock, turning around quickly and throwing it out into the water, glaring out after nothing.

 

“You stupid, smug Zora prince!!”