Tale of Two Relics
The knights moved in to carry out the sentence, but not before another man stood up. He too had broken the shackles around his wrists, and Zelda could see his face, his eyes wide open, not from terror, but some inner disturbance. His mouth was hanging open, and Zelda could see drool dripping off both sides of his mouth and down his chin.
“No!” he screamed, his voice high-pitched and childlike. “No! No! No! No! No! None of us go! None of us go! You will see! I’ll consume! Consume everything!”
An object appeared in his hand, a bizarre heart-shaped mask with monstrous, glowing yellow eyes with green irises. Its markings were red and purple with four horns sticking out on each side and two on top. The longer Zelda stared at it, the more it felt like it was looking back at her.
She watched as one of the Sheikah dropped their weapon.
“You must run!” he called out. “You must run now!”
The man put on the mask, and his body began to change. His arms and legs stretched out, and his back arched. The veins in his body bulged and pulsed as the man screamed and cackled. His entire body grew red and purple as if he was a corpse trapped in a cycle of reanimation and being unmade. The man’s hair turned white, and the mask began to fuse to his face, becoming a combination of the two.
“W-what is that?” Zelda cupped her mouth in disgust. She looked over and noticed the mask salesman’s smile was gone as he looked upon the creature below.
“That is something I should have never found,” there was no hint of mirth in his voice now. “Something that should have been destroyed the moment it was discovered.”
The man’s body finally stopped shifting as his new form towered over the arena. He was now a nightmarish creature, part man and part diseased shadow. This new creature’s eyes glowed an eerie yellow, and its mouth was filled with sharp teeth. It let out a guttural roar that echoed through the arena. Then, it laughed, a high-pitched, maniacal cackle that sent shivers down Zelda’s spine.
The creature shot its hand forward, and several tentacles erupted from its body and hurled themselves toward a group of Hyrulean knights, impaling and disintegrating several of them instantly. It then sent out another wave, which easily wiped out the Sheikah and remaining knights. The king looked around, wild-eyed, before turning and making a run for it. The creature simply sent out another tentacle, which wrapped around his leg and pulled him back. He screamed as yet another one wrapped around his throat, tightening its grip.
“You will be gone from this place!” Rauru cried out as he and the other Sages began to glow with a bright light. “You will be gone from Hyrule!”
Yet the creature only laughed as it slowly turned around, sending tentacles towards the Sages. Rauru managed to create a barrier of light around him and the other Sages, but the tentacles soon broke through and latched themselves to the men’s faces.
“My father never told me what truly happened when he went deep into the desert that day,” the mask salesman broke Zelda’s horrified trance. “It was the first day he didn’t ask me how my magical studies were going and the first day he didn’t pressure me to become a Sage.”
The Sages were screaming now, making horrible muffled sounds as the creature began to drain their life force. The king let out one final rasp before the creature loosened its grip, letting his unconscious body fall into the sand. It then floated up towards the Light Spirits, who all cried out in unison before bearing down on it, enveloping it in light as it continued to laugh and mock them.
“Yet I knew he’d seen something terrible, something truly awful,” the mask salesman continued, “and I knew one day I would find it.”
The creature shrieked as the light burned its body away, and the Sages fell to the ground as its body slowly dissolved into nothing. The Light Spirits resonated even brighter than before, and the mirror began to glow as several symbols appeared on its surface. It projected the symbols onto the stone pillar, and a pathway leading to another dimension, the Twilight Realm, appeared.
“That is the Mirror of Twilight,” the mask salesman explained. “I’d learned of it long ago. In ancient times, it was used to cast criminals who’d committed heinous crimes into the Twilight Realm. Of course, only the Sages and the royal family were permitted to know of its existence, let alone use it.”
The remaining Sheikari began crying out, pleading with the Light Spirits to be merciful, but they quickly dissolved into black flakes of dust that were sent hurtling into the stone pillar. The four Light Spirits ceased their resonance and rose high into the air, vanishing from sight. The Mirror of Twilight’s symbols faded, and the stone pillar became inactive once again.
“That…that mask…” Zelda’s voice trembled. “What was it?”
“An abomination,” the mask salesman replied all too quickly. “A being of hate and madness, born from the dark desires of those who would seek to destroy everything in their path. That man you saw put it on…his name was Majora. That was his mask.”
“What happened to it?”
“It was left behind, thought to have been destroyed,” the mask salesman shivered, pointing down towards the area right in front of the stone pillar. Zelda could see the mask, now half-buried in the sand. “Yet I was the one who stumbled upon it years later, not knowing its true purpose. Yet even before that…”
The mask salesman waved his hand once more, and everyone below vanished as the arena transformed once again. Zelda found herself standing in the middle of the arena just as when she had first arrived, though there was now another figure kneeling in front of the stone pillar. Her skin was bronze, and her red hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She wore traditional Gerudo clothing, yet there was something different about her.
“You see, child,” the mask salesman went on as she rose and turned to face them. “There were others who knew of its true purpose to an exact degree.”
Zelda froze as she gazed at the woman, whose dazzling blue eyes seemed to stare right through her.
“Mother…” Zelda whispered.
“I knew you would eventually come here,” the woman said, her voice cold and emotionless. “I knew the sand barrier wouldn’t be enough to stop your greed and hatred.”
A figure walked past Zelda, and she jumped at the sight of Ganondorf, his eyes glaring at the queen.
“You are too late,” the queen’s voice remained barbed and piercing. “I will not allow you to claim this unholy relic!”
“I had a vision,” the mask salesman once again interrupted. “When I ventured off with that mask, it showed me the events that took place so long ago. By then, I’d been discovered by a forest imp, who managed to take it from me. Luckily, your friend was able to help me retrieve it. Even at such a young age, there was no mistaking him as the Hero of Time.”
Ganondorf charged at the queen, but she held up her hand as a barrier of light appeared, halting him in his tracks.
“Yet it also showed me something else, a man who not only found it but learned to use its wicked power with ease. It wasn’t a vision of the past but a warning of a possible future and of the mask’s desire to find this person who was worthy of being its master. That master would have been Ganondorf, and the queen had known for quite some time.”
“Stay back!” the queen shouted. “Or you will be banished!”
“And where would you banish me?” Ganondorf shattered the light barrier and continued stalking toward her. “Our very kingdom is glorified banishment already. We suffer under its harsh conditions while the Hylians are bathed in the blessings of their forsaken goddesses.”
The queen called up her barrier again, and Ganondorf smashed through it once more.
“You leave me no choice” she held up her hand, and the Mirror of Twilight began to glow, its symbols returning. Ganondorf finally reached the queen, wrapping his hand around her neck and lifting her into the air.
“Do you think that will contain me?” he asked mockingly. “I will never remain imprisoned.”
In one fluid motion, Ganondorf threw the queen towards the mirror before jumping out of the way of its beam. The queen froze mid-air as the symbols once again appeared on the stone pillar. Her feet began to dissolve into black flakes of dust that were carried forward into the dimensional pathway that led to the Twilight Realm.
“No!” Zelda shouted as she ran to the pillar, Ganondorf’s laughter ringing in her ears, yet she knew it was useless. There was nothing she could do to save her mother. Nothing anyone could do now. She turned to look at the queen one last time, gazing upon the face she’d always gone to for comfort when she needed it most. Even now, she was poised and radiant as she faced eternal banishment.
“You are right,” she glared at Ganondorf. “I cannot imprison you myself, but you will never reach this place again.”
She slowly lifted her arms, and Ganondorf’s eyes widened in realization as she clapped her hands together. Her body was finally consumed by the mirror, and the symbols vanished once more. Ganondorf turned to run towards the stone pillar and dig up the mask, but a whirlwind of sand knocked him back. He tried to stand, but the wind was too strong. Soon a colossal pillar of sand erupted from the ground, sending him flying out of the arena.
“And so the barrier held for years, thanks to the queen’s efforts.”
Zelda dropped to her knees, the weight of her mother’s sacrifice finally hitting her. She had always known her mother had given up everything to keep them safe, but she never realized the true extent of that sacrifice until now.
“Now you must understand,” the mask salesman turned to face her. “Yes, you must understand a great deal now.”
Zelda heard a great rumbling sound coming from behind them and turned towards the arena’s exit. It was still a great distance away, but she could see the wall of fire moving in their direction.
“What…what is that?”
“I’m afraid you were right,” the mask salesman’s voice was heavy with sadness. “There is nothing you can do now. The Sheikari have wished for Hyrule’s destruction, and it will be fulfilled.”
Zelda gasped, looking back at the fire and then to the mask salesman. “You jest! Surely there’s something we can do!”
Yet the mask salesman only smiled and shook his head. “Not we, I’m afraid. Only you.”
He dug into his jacket and pulled out a tiny, blue ocarina. A chill ran down Zelda’s spine as she gazed upon the Ocarina of Time, and the mask salesman delicately placed it in her hand.
“You wondered why Link didn’t have it,” the mask salesman stated. “You must have wondered why he didn’t use it. We crossed paths on his way through the woods of Termina, and I asked to borrow it. He must have sensed my intention back then, that I would one day return it to you.”
He walked past Zelda towards the approaching inferno, which would reach the stone steps in mere moments. He crossed his hands behind his back before turning to face Zelda once more.
“I can take you back with me,” Zelda offered, but the mask salesman shook his head.
“I know you wanted him to come back, but I was the one who prevented this. Every time he tried to go back to Hyrule, he found himself somewhere else, in another land, another place. I wanted…for him to…have a chance at having a real childhood. He deserves to outlive us all, that one. Yet, as you’ve seen, that boy never quite knows how to stop being heroic, does he?”
The flames were now at the entrance of the Arbiter’s Grounds, and Zelda realized she could no longer delay. She held up the Ocarina of Time to her mouth, closing her eyes and playing the notes the Goddess of Time had taught her long ago.
She opened her eyes and was then covered in blue light, watching as the mask salesman gave a small wave as the flames consumed him, his smile never leaving his face.