A World Cloaked In Shadow

By Lyxie

"Who are you?" Link asked the cloaked figure. "Show yourself." He pressed the sword blade into the figure's throat, though they did not recoil. Chin held high, the figure moved two bound hands up to its masked face. Link held in his breath as fingers slid underneath the mud-stained plate. What would he see? A horrible disfigurement? A monster?

What Link saw when the figure peeled away the mask was so totally unexpected that it sent him gasping for air. The loveliest woman he had ever seen peered defiantly back at him from under the hood, her violently blue eyes sparkling with pride. Her cheeks were high and beautifully pink, her lips rose colored and plush. A strand of curling blonde hair fell into her eyes from under her hood, but she didn't seem to notice. Her eyes were fixated steadily on him.

"Who are you?" he asked in a whisper. "What is your name?" She did not speak, but Link saw a flicker of doubt behind her stubborn eyes. "Why won't you speak?" he asked in a whisper, reaching up to touch her face. In a whirl, the girl spun around and leapt into the branches of a tree high above.

"Wait!" called Link after her. "Come back here!" but she had vanished through the branches of the trees. Link looked down and noticed that she had dropped her mask. He picked it up, brushing the dirt and mud off of the white porcelain, and stroked the face of it with his finger. With a sigh, Link slumped onto a tree stump, burying his face in his leather-gauntleted hands. He yanked at a strand of blonde hair that fell into his blue eyes, then tucked it back into the green cap that permanently adorned his head.

"What does it mean?" he asked himself, sighing and dragging at his face with his hands, looking at the mask he'd placed in his lap. "What does it mean?" He stood, brushing off his white breeches, and grabbed the mask, stashing it within his green tunic. He whistled through his teeth to Epona, who came trotting up to him seemingly from out of nowhere. He hauled himself up into the saddle and rode off into the forest with a "yah!" It was not long before he reached his small, modest cabin. He let Epona loose and stooped at the small pond outside his home to splash his face, still shaking his head at the odd events that had just occurred. Who was that girl? Why had she taken his journal? He entered his cabin and sat on his bed, reclining against his pillow. He looked at his table, and noticed that his paper and ink were out. Confused, he stood and made his way to the table, meaning to clean up the mess. What he saw caused him to stop dead in his tracks. A letter sat neatly in the middle of the table, a roll of parchment and a bottle of ink with a brush sitting nearby. The elegant letters on the parchment were still wet, glistening in the fire that warmed the cold cabin. Shaking, Link bent before the letter.

"I am the Mei, the seventh sage. Do not try to come into contact with me- you must stay away from me if you treasure your life. Someday, all that is foggy will be unveiled before your eyes, but for now, do not meddle in affairs that you are unconnected with." There was a smudge, as though the Mei had been meaning to write more, but had heard Link coming. The teenager whirled around, searching his cabin for any signs that anything was amiss. He noticed the window was open- that was how the Mei had made her quick escape without being detected by the young hero. Shaking his head in confusion, Link pulled the mask out from within his tunic, studying the mask that had covered the face of the beautiful warrior.

"Mei…" he said, running his finger along the edge of the faceplate. He set it down on the table, determined. "I'm connected in this- you've taken something that belongs to me. We will meet again, shadow warrior. I vow to learn who it is you truly are, Mei," he said, "with the goddesses as my witnesses. Strike me down if I don't learn the mind behind the face you mask."

As though this was the final straw in deciding Link's involvement with the war, he then set about to collecting his weapons from random corners of his cabin, making plans for his next great adventure. What he didn't see was the shuddering character sneaking away from his window, cloaked in black with only the tear and mud streaked face of a blonde beauty showing. Mei crawled through the woods until she could no longer see or smell the smoke rising from the chimney of Link's cabin, and collapsed against a tree, sobbing hysterically.

"No, Link, don't," she cried. "You'll only get yourself killed…"