28 years earlier...
THE PEOPLE OF the Gerudo desert were, as the higher classes of Castle Town took pleasure in naming them, cultural mutts. Only the pure Gerudo were female, which made pureblood Gerudo incredibly rare; thus the dark-skinned fiery-haired desert women had to make do with the Hylian and human travelers that wandered into the sandy region and lost their way in the swirling dust. The people of Hyrule often clung to the stereotype that the Gerudo women captured their male counterparts, did their business, and then exiled the men into the hot, dry desert for them to wander helplessly to their deaths with no food or water. The validity of these stereotypes was questionable, since not many people dared venture anywhere near the Gerudo Desert who hoped to live to tell the tale.
Of course it wasn't their fault that the pure Gerudo population consisted solely of women; their elders and soothsayers claim that an ancient evil cursed their race to die out gradually and miserably, providing them with one male descendent every hundred years. The Gerudo made do, however, living resignedly with the mix of desert people and Hylian.
Years went by and "Gerudo" was no longer a term for a race, but for a tribal people. Pure Gerudo simply did not exist anymore, and the term was attached to the city outside the desert, not the race. The Gerudo had to settle with being called Hylians, although their connection with the ancient goddess was more or less nonexistent.
Ezerella often dreamed that she would be swept away by a Hylian prince straight from the courts of Hyrule Castle. It was rumored that he had a son, and Ezerella's heart leapt at the news. But years went by and no such handsome knight appeared in the midst of the Gerudo Desert.
The Gerudo maiden had shockingly red hair with deep brown skin and amber-colored eyes. Her looks were not above par, but not below it either, and she didn't even have the fighting spirit of the Gerudo warriors. Upon refusal to take up in the Gerudo warrior fleet, Koume Dragmire, the tribe's princess and leader at the time, positioned her as a sentry atop one of the many looming towers. It was Ezerella's one and only job to spot intruders as soon as they crested the horizon and swiftly inform Koume's attendants.
For a young girl with a heightened imagination and a tendency toward romanticism, Ezerella found the task incredibly boring. She stood alone at the top of a shaded tower, gazing at the soaring turrets of Hyrule Castle. She imagined the city beneath it, Castle Town, bustling with handsome men, slender women, playful children with their toys and games. There was certainly nothing wrong with her Gerudo heritage; she had a mother and sister whom she loved dearly and would not leave for the world. But her heart ached for something beyond the sentry tower, something beyond the sedentary lifestyle that was assigned to her.
Although Ezerella had no idea what caused her inattentive stupor, it was clear that her daydreaming caught her up in some sort of fantastical reverie just as a lone traveler made his way across Hyrule Field, a steed of deep ebony bringing him closer and closer to the mountains bordering the desert. His handsome features suggested he was in his twenties at least, although his hair was of a shimmering silver that flashed white in the glare of the sun. The traveler's cloak around his shoulders was a deep royal cobalt, covering a tunic of blue and gold. His boots were made of dodongo leather, bleached a pale brown from years of exposure to sunlight. But his most striking accessory, which brought Ezerella straight out of her reverie, was a white feather tucked into a band around his head, so large and wispy that Ezerella was sure it had to have belonged to one of the ancient birds given as gifts from the Goddess to her precious Hylians. It was also this feature that stopped her from immediately sending word to Koume about the traveler's presence, and that caused her to climb down from the sentry tower and rush over to the main gates herself.
"Just where do you think you're off to?" another guard shouted as she pushed by. She gave no reply, walking swiftly through the marketplace and across the main bazaar's dusty center. When she finally reached the main gates, open during the day, the traveler had already covered an impressive distance and was passing through the mountainous ridge. Ezerella spun around to cast an anxious glance at the guards pacing the main bazaar, who hadn't yet noticed the encroaching horseman. Her mind raced. She couldn't temporarily steal a horse from the stables without being noticed, but she couldn't run out into the open valley to meet with a strange traveler bearing crests dissimilar to those of Hyrule. Was he from a bordering country, one that Ezerella had only heard faint whispers about from the wanderers that the Gerudo women took in.
Without thinking, the sentry tied her facial sash around her mouth and nose to keep sand out of her breath and rushed outside the Gerudo walls. Growing up she had never had the chance to practice the stealth magic most of the warriors knew, but she made do with the billowing sands to conceal her. The horseman had already made it past the ridge and was slowing his steed, who was finding the shifting sands difficult. As he dismounted, Ezerella noticed a bundle of saddlebags strapped to the horse's load. Perhaps the traveler had been looking for a place to stay.
Ezerella wasn't even sure why she had been determined to hide the wanderer's presence, but she hurried over to him nonetheless. As the sandy wind thinned out by the base of the mountains, she could see his face more clearly. His eyes were the pale blue of the sky and his facial features were so strikingly handsome that Ezerella couldn't look away. The man gave her a polite smile and curt nod.
"Hello," he said, voice deep and yet soft. "Are you a member of the Gerudo tribe?"
"Our leader is very strict on visitors," she said simply. "You must follow me."
The stranger grabbed his horse's reins and coaxed it through the sand as he followed Ezerella down a side path around the tribe's walls. "What is your name?" he asked.
Everything in Ezerella's common sense told her to keep silent until they reached the inner city. But her heart seemed to stop for this mysterious man and she couldn't keep her mouth shut. "Ezerella Loradire," she answered quietly. "I am a sentry of the Gerudo."
The man nodded. "I am Link of the North," he said in response.
Although Ezerella's expression remained stoic, she smiled inwardly. The name was so common among the Hylians that it had even bled into the Gerudo; some women had named their children Linka after the legendary Hero of Time.
"This here is Wrana," Link said, patting his horse's flank with a charming tenderness. "She was my father's before mine, and has served me well."
Ezerella glanced sideways at the mare's beautiful black pelt and ochre eyes. In the sunlight, the horse's irises almost glimmered a ruby red.
"She can remain in the stables during your stay," said Ezerella.
"May I ask where we are going?" Link said.
"If you want to avoid an endless trial on whether or not the Gerudo can trust you, Link of the North, we have to enter inconspicuously. Luckily my quarters are near the city wall so I know of many secret entrances."
"Don't you think it unwise to show a stranger in through a secret entrance?"
Ezerella cast Link an apprehensive look, which almost immediately melted into a compassionate one at the stranger's friendly, welcoming gaze. "You haven't given me reason to be distrustful."
"Bold," Link said, a smirk on his lips. "How exactly will I sneak Wrana into the city?"
"I will take care of that." The two quieted while journeying through the sandy wind just outside the Gerudo walls. Ezerella was surprised that other sentries hadn't yet noticed them, but she didn't voice her concerns and continued onward. Once they reached a section in the wall where two or three stones seemed loose, they stopped. "There's a secret door here," she called over the roaring winds. Kicking along the ground toward the wall, the bricks pushed inward to reveal an intentionally-placed entrance into the back alleys of the lower class quarters. They stepped inside and Ezerella quickly reclosed the entrance. "Leave your horse here," she whispered. "No one will find her. I will take her to the stables once we get you situated."
Link followed the Gerudo sentry through the twisting corridors and up several flights of ornate stone staircases until they reached a room with the name "Loradire" inscribed on the door. Ezerella pressed a stone from around her neck into the door handle and it opened, revealing a quaint, single-room apartment with a small hearth in the center and a bedroll off in one corner. "Wait here while I see to your horse," Ezerella said authoritatively.
"If you are in possession of any carrots, they are her favorite," Link said with a smile.
Ezerella nodded, and the smallest of smiles perked her lips before she turned away to retrieve Wrana.