Kol glanced at the setting sun. The sky was already
sweeping with deep crimson. "I told you not to stop at the ranch," he said
aloud. It was a habit of his. Sighing, he slowed his mare to a stop at
the far side of the bridge. His deep blue eyes gleamed in his pale face
at the sight of the stone-root plants clustered at the cliff-edge. "Bingo,"
The waterfall roared so loud he couldn't hear himself
say, "Stay, Pebble." The dappled horse understood him, though, and whickered
teasingly. Rubbing her nose, Kol swung down and walked toward the cliffside.
His high boots scuffed the golden sand. Kneeling
at the brink, trying not to look into the roaring water below, the tall,
thin young scientist took the knife from his belt and started hacking a
piece of stone-root away. As he worked he sang softly to himself.
"Lover girl, are you mine. You say we're running
out of time. Won't you trust me when you say that I'll be with you, come
what may." His long, pointed ears stung in the wind and he sat back on
his heels, warming them with his hands. "Ouch.someone turn off the wind
After a few minutes, the tough plant had been sawed
free. Kol stuffed it into his bag and stood up, a tall and lanky young
man. His merry blue eyes studied the canyon. "You know, Pebble, it's times
like this that I wish I was one of those forest fairies. I could fly all
around here and not be hurt by anything.not a worry in the world." He turned
and walked toward Pebble. "But that's fantasy." He looked up sharply. "Pebble?"
The dapple-grey mare wasn't there.
Kol ran to the spot. Her hoofprints had been brushed
away, as if her kidnapper had wanted to keep the direction she was taken
as secret. His heart in his mouth and his stomach in his shoes, he called
out. "Ai! Pebble! Are you there?" Half-laughing as he realized that no
answer could possible come, he turned toward the shadowed canyon leading
farther into the desert, and thus toward the forbidden Gerudo City.
He took three steps before someone tripped him and
kicked the back of his knees. The scientist fell to the ground and rolled
away from his attacker. "What the blazes do you think you're doing!" he
cried, struggling to his feet. "You coulda knocked me into the canyon or
Laughing, the Gerudo warrior intentionally struck
a pose before him, veiled and armed with two curved swords. The young scientist's
mouth almost hung open as he took in the mall but lithe form, the mysteriously
fascinating topaz eyes above her thin veil, and the swirling flame-red
hair. She swung the blade silently, leaping forward on catlike feet. Kol
was so stunned that he nearly forgot to duck.
The sword passed a hair from his pointed ear, and
the hilt clunked against his shoulder painfully. As the second blade started
to sweep around him, Kol had the presence of mind to stretch out a hand
and catch the warrior's thin wrist in his hand, halting the movement of
the shining blade. The girl's golden eyes narrowed above the gauzy white
veil and her knee came up sharply, catching Kol in the gut. He dropped
like a stone, curling around his injured stomach.
"Din!" In the next moment, he was on his feet and
running toward the bridge. "I can't even hear her coming! Someone turn
off the waterfall!" he panted in between curses. Nearly tripping as he
stumbled down the stairs, the young scientist could feel his blood racing
with the knowledge that the Gerudo was probably right behind him.
Accidentally, Kol glanced down in the middle of
the bridge. The canyon of Gerudo Falls is a drop of nearly a hundred
and thirty feet, he remembered, into strong currents of below-freezing
water. The river itself is deep and strewn with rocks, populated only
by the dangerous octoroks. No one has ever been recorded to survive such
conditions, though it is unknown whether it is the river or the fall that
kills them. As the textbook passage repeated in his quick mind, Kol
decided that he shouldn't have looked down. His head grew faint and he
started to sway from side to side. His boots slipped on the damp wood slats
and he started to fall.
A slim, muscled arm shot out and grasped the front
of his shirt. A tug, and then Kol's fall was turned a different direction-
back onto the bridge. He could feel the entire structure shake as he fell
full weight onto it. The Gerudo fell with him, caught by his momentum.
One of her swords thunked onto the wooden slats of the bridge- burying
itself into the wood close to his head.
His face hanging over the other edge of the bridge,
Kol simply lay and gasped for breath. His head swam as he looked down,
his entire head and shoulders resting on air. Surprisingly, the Gerudo
didn't move. She lay across his back, silent, her chest heaving against
him for need of air, her breath warm on his neck. After nearly a minute,
in which both of them regained their breath and nerves, she pushed away
from him and sat up. Before the man could get up, her hand was in his tangled
auburn hair, letting him rise just enough so that she could see him. Silently,
with the timelessness that comes after a fright, they inspected each other.
Kol saw a small, lithe girl, with flaming hair tied
back and strands hanging in her face, with skin so smoothly tanned that
it looked like glowing, warm bronze- or maybe it was-, with slanted long-lashed
topaz eyes, with small, round Gerudo ears flat against her head. She wore
a gauzy white veil across her lower face, hiding her lips and chin, and
a large topaz gem on a circlet that glinted in the last dying rays of the
sun. Over a band of cloth across her chest, black in color, was a short
white vest with the orange and turquoise Gerudo pattern upon in. Loose
and becoming white harem pants, low on her hips and bound in mid shin,
and slipperlike red moccasins completed her costume.
He had met many pretty girls in his life. This one
could have taken any of them on, and given as good as she got if not better.
The Gerudo, a young guard of the bridge and canyon,
looked upon a young man of about seventeen; tall and lightly built without
the look of a laborer. He could have been handsome by most standards. His
ruffled auburn hair was almost blond at the tips and black at the roots.
His eyes were a deep blue, honest and intelligent, entirely without malice
in them. A merry dancing light flickered in them despite his fear. He dressed
in a loose white shirt, laced at the collar and wrists, and dark green
trousers, with a thin black sash around his waist and high leather boots.
Upon noticing the small knife tucked into his sash, she reached out and
took it before he had time to react.
She hadn't met many men in her life. This one was
Abruptly the Gerudo pulled him to his feet. Still
with her hand firmly entangled in his auburn hair, she backed him up so
that his feet were barely on the bridge. Pressing her remaining blade against
his chest, she spoke for the first time. Her voice was challengingly soft
and tempting. "If I take you back to the city conscious instead of trussed
up like a chicken, will you try to fight me?"
Kol swallowed. "I don't fight girls."
She laughed. "Then you lose to them. Come." She
pulled him away from the edge and forced him to step in front of her. Stooping
to pick up her one fallen sword and sheath it, she kept the second in her
hand, and her other hand was still in his hair.
The young scientist watched his feet. As soon as
he touched solid ground, he performed an admirable trick of ducking, twisting,
and kicking back that was guaranteed to escape from a captor. It worked.
He managed two steps of freedom before the flat of the Gerudo's sword descended
on his auburn head. Kol crumpled and knew no more.