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Ganondorf despised Hylians and all dealings with them. Treacherous beings who thought themselves holy, praised themselves as Hylia’s chosen and favored of the Triad. They scorned the other races and, oddly enough, scorned themselves.

Sipping his beer -- weak and watered down but better than nothing -- Ganondorf watched the rest of the bar from his spot in the corner. His cloak, designed to shield from harsh desert sands, also worked to hide him from harsh Hylian eyes. The poor lighting of the tavern did the rest: Ganondorf nothing more than a wastrel in a sea of wastrels.

Except one. Ganondorf watched the golden stranger over his mug. Not his goal, and already he could feel Kali’s scathing stare. He went against her adamant wishes by journeying alone for this particular quest, and now he was being distracted by an oddity with the prettiest blue eyes he had ever seen. At first glance, the Hylian was not his type. For one, he was Hylian: slender with pale skin Din’s sun would scorch in a heartbeat. Yet the way he held himself caught Ganondorf’s eye again and again, a wolf amidst mongrels.

The sheer amount of weaponry at his back and waist were also distracting. As was how he was drinking milk in a bar. The barmaid gave it to him without a word spoken by the Hylian, and he sat at the bar now, sipping it like it was wine.

Pretty, for a Hylian, and that was all the idiot seated beside him noticed. Ganondorf’s lips curled. Broad and dark-haired, his arrogance screaming knight to Ganondorf, the idiot didn’t seem to notice that the youth cared not for his flirting. The blond’s mouth remained a tight line as the Knight leaned over to him, lips moving constantly. Ganondorf couldn’t hear him over the din of the bar, but based on the barmaid’s scowl, it was nothing good.

The barmaid leaned over to say something to the blond. When the Hylian moved toward her, the Knight shifted --

Ganondorf’s eyes narrowed. His hand tightened on his mug. Did that fool just put something in the blond’s drink?

Yes. Yes, he did. Ganondorf slammed his mug down, directing eyes his way, including the blond’s. The Hylian’s eyes met his even as he took a swig of his milk. The Knight smiled. Blinking, the Hylian looked away and down at his mug, wiping his mouth and frowning. He licked his lips and the Knight leaned over, mouth moving. Ganondorf didn’t need to hear him to know exactly what he was saying.

By then, the barmaid caught on that something was wrong. Ganondorf forced his way through the crowd to hear her asking, “You okay there, Link? That milk is fresh from the ranch.”

“There’s always the chance of a bad batch,” the Knight interjected. His smile shifted to a parody of concern. “I’ll take him to the inn, let him sleep it off.”

Not a chance in any of the hells. Ganondorf put his hand on the hilt of his blade, elbowing one idiot who blocked him. The Knight put a hand on Link’s shoulder. Ganondorf wanted to cut it off.

He disliked Hylians as a whole, but none deserved this.

Just as he reached the bar, readying to yank the Knight away, Link moved far quicker than his glazed eyes allowed. In one move, he grabbed the Knight’s hand, twisted, and slammed the Knight’s face off the bar. His forehead connected with a crack , and then he slumped insensible to the floor.

The bar fell silent.

Link looked up and met Ganondorf’s eyes again. Link stared at him, then through him, then slumped sideways. Ganondorf didn’t reach him in time to stop the Knight, but he did reach him in time to catch him. For all his leanness, the Hylian was heavy, and hard, sharp things dug into Ganondorf’s arm and chest as he steadied him on the stool. Link blinked at him, but Ganondorf doubted he saw him.

The barmaid leaned over the bar to look once at the Knight. “Is he dead?”

Balancing Link’s weight -- lopsided, his sword and shield and bow and what else did he have on him -- Ganondorf spared the Knight a kick in the side. A low moan rose. “Still alive.”

Link blinked at him again, wavering in his arms. He smelled like sweat and sweet leaves, and this close, Ganondorf noticed his bottom lip and right eye were bruised. Black ichor stained his collar. Remembering the idiot barely conscious on the bar floor, Ganondorf smiled, positive it was little more than a grimace. The drugged Hylian looked unimpressed.

Around them, the tavern ignored the pathetic excuse for a fight and resumed its chatter. The barmaid waved at a scarred Hylian close to Ganondorf’s age and height to take the Knight away. She looked at Ganondorf with cool, dark eyes. “Thanks for your help, stranger, but we’ll take it from here.” She nodded in the direction of his abandoned beer. “The rest is on the house.”

Despite her words, Link made no move to pull back. He cocked his head, reminding Ganondorf of a curious dog, and looked him over. At least, he tried. Ganondorf caught him before he could fall again. “My thanks, but I did little. Is there somewhere I can put him? Are there rooms available?”

To his surprise, the barmaid’s lips quirked. Her dark eyes scanned them both, settling on the space between Ganondorf and Link for a heartbeat. “Link has a permanent room upstairs. Ulster will help you take him up there.”

The tall Hylian -- Ganondorf assumed Ulster -- returned and stood beside the pair. Link ignored him. He wrinkled his nose at Ganondorf. Ganondorf barely resisted the urge to scowl back. Ulster extended an arm but Ganondorf didn’t move. “I think I can manage one tiny Hylian.”

Raising an eyebrow, the barmaid grabbed Link’s milk and shoved it out of sight behind the counter. Someone raised a hand for a drink farther down the bar, and she nodded at them. “Maybe, but with your purse intact? Link has clever fingers.”

What? Ganondorf looked down to see his favorite knife missing from his hip. When he looked at Link, his hands were empty.

“He’s also a magic user,” she added. “There’s a reason he drinks milk instead of alcohol.”


Ulster patted Ganondorf’s arm and bolstered Link’s other side. “Your hood also fell. I hope you’re not a spy. You’re terrible at this.”

Even as Ganondorf stared at them, he felt the weight of his purse at his side vanish.