A World Cloaked in Shadow

By Lyxie

You've been gone so long all that you know

has been shuffled aside as you bask in the glow

of the beautiful strangers who whisper your name

do they fill up the emptiness?

Larger than life is your fiction

In a universe made up of one

You have been drifting for so long

I know you don't want to come down

Somewhere below you, there's people who love you

And they're ready for you to come home

Please come home

You walk in a room and the world stops to stare

Mesmerize all who are caught in the glare

Of the spotlight that follows wherever you go

Does it light up the emptiness?

Larger than life is your fiction

In a universe made up of one

You have been drifting for so long

I know you don't want to come down

Somewhere below you, there's people who love you

And they're ready for you to come home

Please come home
~Drifting, by Sarah McLachlan

Chapter 1: The Masked Mystique

Link boredly rubbed his finger around the rim of his tankard, his chin resting in his left hand as he grasped the tankard firmly with his right and downed the rest of the rum.

"Slow day, eh?" asked the bartender, polishing a shot glass.

"The slowest," said Link, pushing his tankard back across the counter. The bartender sympathetically filled it up, the tavern nearly empty except for a group of what looked to be hags in a far corner, and the young hero sitting before him.

"So, Link, what brings you here ta'day?" asked the bartender. "Or yesterday, or yesterday's yesterday..."

"Nothing much for a hero to do lately," said Link dully. "Rescuing old ladies' cats from trees, exterminating the occasional tektite population here or there. Nothing much to do for one such as myself."

"That's a shame," said the bartender. "Ever thought of going into profession as a bodyguard or policeman or something?"

"No," said Link. "I work for nobody but the goddesses."

"Aye," said the old bartender with a nod. "'s justified. O'course, you could write down a story 'o your travels. Ev'ry one knows 'bout you, boy. Woke up in the temple of time when you were ten, with th' doors to the sacred realm open 'n the master sword in yer hand, th' mark 'o th' Triforce on th' back 'o yer hand, with not a mem'ry except blabberin' 'bout how you had ta go 'n find 'er, an' none 'o us knew who 'er was but selfsame day you got th' finest horse we'd ever seen an' rode away with th' mast'r sword on ye back, an' then appeared seven years later a real man. You know, ev'ry one speculates 'bout just what happened to ye over th' seven years ye was gone. You could make a pretty rupee 'r two tellin' yer tales, I'm sure."

"I don't want to tell my tales," said Link. "Nobody would believe them anyway. They're things that should not have been seen or heard of. I can't tell. You understand, don't you Eddgar?"

"Aye, I do," said the bartender with a smile. "Now, boy, I've got summat fer ye that might give ye a bit 'o things to occupy yer time."

"Oh?" asked Link, digging for his wallet. "What is this?"

"Well, ye' see, lately, customers been bringin' in tales 'o a thing called "the masked mystique", a figure they say prowls about at night, cloaked in robes blacker 'n a starless sky, with a pure white mask ov'r th' face. Never talks to no one, never even seems to notice. Just prowls, like a ghost. 'Sept people wake in th' mornings, and some 'o their belongins 'r missin', see? I'm sure ye can find summat ter do with th' masked mystique."

"Hm," said Link thoughtfully, scratching his ear. "I might just be able to work from there."

"Also," said the bartender, "people've been spottin' monsters more 'n more since that masked mystique appeared."

"Thanks, Eddgar," said Link, standing up. "I'll see what I can do about it."

"Anytime, Hero," said Eddgar as Link dropped some shining rupees on the counter. The bartender shook his head and smiled as the teenager, and went about to cleaning the tankard that the forest boy had just been sipping from.

Link shielded his eyes from the sun as he stepped out of the dim tavern into Hyrule castle town. Mulling over in his head what he had just learned from the bartender, Eddgar, he made his way towards the drawbridge, ignoring the stares he got from the village people. He crossed the drawbridge, nodding to the guards who stood there, and whistled to his teeth to Epona. The red-brown beauty came trotting up to him from where she had been grazing below a tree, nickering in pleasure at the sight of her master.

"Hey girl," he said, rubbing his horse's neck and pulling himself up onto her back. "Feel like going to give the ranch a visit? Yeah, girl, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" Epona whinnied and nodded her head up and down, and Link stroked her. "Yeah? We'll pay Malon a visit. You want that? Huh girl? She'll scrub you down real good." Epona whinnied again, prancing around. Link smiled at his horse, the only one in the world he really connected to.

"Go for it, Epona," he said, smacking her side. "Run like the wind." Epona took off like a flash of lightning, Link not even needing to use the reins to guide his horse across Hyrule field. Horse and rider became one as the wind raced through two sets of pointed ears, one equine and the other elven, hearts thudding as they flew across the field like birds. Before long, they were trotting up the ramp to the ranch. Link slowed Epona with a "whoa, girl," as they entered the ranch, and Link slowed Epona as they neared the corral. Epona, in a sudden burst of mischief, stopped rather abruptly, causing Link to be thrown over her head and land on the ground in a heap.

"What the... oww, you stupid horse," he grumbled."

"Hey Link." A musical laughter sounded throughout the ranch. Link looked up, a grin spreading across his face. A lightly tanned redhead was running towards him, arms outstretched. Link swiftly jumped to his feet and caught her, whirling her around in the air once and then placing her on her feet.

"Mal!" he exclaimed, hugging her again. "How've you been?"

"I've been good, hero," she said, leaning upwards and planting a sturdy kiss on Link's cheek. "How about you, Link? You been taking care of my girl here?" Malon hugged Epona's snout and murmured to her "has he been nice to you, girl? Hm?"

"Life's getting dull," said Link as Malon petted Epona's nose, her face radiant. "I've been treating Epona well, as always. She is my best friend, after all."

"It's sad that your best friend is a horse," said Malon, resting one hand in a fist upon her waist. "Hero, you really need a girl."

"I know, I know," said Link, taking off his cap and running his hands through his hair. "None of the girls seem appealing to me though."

"That's even sadder," said Malon. "You are straight, aren't you?"

"Of course I am," said Link with a shudder. "It's just like... that place has already been taken up in my heart somehow. Like I'm in love, but I don't remember who I'm in love with. You know, like I loved before in a past life or something, and am just waiting for them to return." Malon raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow at Link, and swished her hair behind her.

"Well, hero, if you ask me, that's not too far out."

"Why do you say that?" Link asked, letting go of Epona's reins and letting her trot. Malon sat on a crate, leaning back and staring up at the spotless blue sky.

"Well," she said, "it's not unreasonable. Think. You woke up at age ten in the temple of time with no memory, other than your name, that you were from Kokiri forest, and that you had to find 'her', who you don't even remember. You had the Triforce of courage on the back of your left hand, and the master sword slung across your shoulders."

"So?" asked Link. "Ten years of age is a little young for love, if you ask me."

"I know," said Malon, "but think. Ten is also a little young to bear the master sword, or to be marked by the Triforce of courage. So, what if there was an alternate future you'd experienced, and you'd been in love there, but when you'd come back, your memory was erased so that you didn't know about any of it. And now, your subconscious is only waiting for that person to emerge again. It's reasonable, don't you think?"

Link stared at Malon in disbelief, then shook his head to cover up the sudden uncertain feelings welling within him.

"Mal, if you ask me, you're bonkers."

"I am not!" she said. "Come on, Link, think about it?" she asked. Link shrugged.

"I'll think about it when I want to," he said, and whistled Epona over. "But I didn't come here for a lesson in philosophy. I came here to train with my horse."

"You got it," said Malon, standing. "Let me set up the archery range for you, hero."

That night, Link lay in bed in his cabin, his mind in utter turmoil. He rolled over and watched the spitting flames in his fireplace as thoughts wandered in and out of his mind. Suddenly, he stood from his bed, recalling the bartender's words from earlier that day. The sheets slid like water from his muscled and tanned torso, across his legs in their white breeches. He reached for his cap and pulled it on, then picked his tunic up from the floor and slid it on. He grabbed his boots and gauntlets, buckled on his equipment belt, sword, and shield, and left his cabin, whistling for his horse. Epona came trotting over immediately- apparently, she hadn't been able to sleep, either. Not bothering to saddle her, Link hopped onto her bare back and clicked his tongue. With a soft whinny, Epona set off through the nighttime forest at a trot. In no time, they had left the trees and were galloping across Hyrule field towards Kakariko village. They crossed the bridge and Link dismounted from Epona, patting her gently on the head and letting her loose. He dashed up the stairs to the village and entered, with the sounds of night all around him. Hardly a person was out that night, and Link exhaled. Good. Maybe what he wanted to do would be made easier.

Silently, Link crept to the windmill through the dark and pulled out his hookshot, aiming at one of the spinning fan blades. He heard a distinctive 'thunk' and zoomed upwards. He held onto the spinning blade for a moment, then hopped into the small chamber at the top of the windmill. He looked out at the village, moving himself to a place where he could see better, and waited. It might have been minutes or hours that passed with Link staring vigilantly out at the town, but finally, he saw something- a black shadow moving through the village, making its way stealthily towards one of the houses. Quietly, Link leapt down from the windmill and rolled, then quietly made his way to where the shadow. In fascination, he watched as it unlocked a window from the outside and crawled nimbly in. Link swiftly dropped to the ground and crawled below the window, ready for anything. Sure enough, several minutes later, a figure jumped swiftly to the ground in front of him. With a yell, he lunged forward and grabbed the figure, latching on to something that seemed to be an ankle. He heard a hiss, and suddenly felt himself overcome by a spell. There was something familiar about the magic cast on him, but with all the willpower and strength he had acquired over his seven years of travel and one year of random work, he shook it off. Lights came on in the village as he yelled again and grabbed his sword, running after the figure.

"Come back here!" he called, but cursed as the figure leapt impossibly high, onto the grassy slope high above the vertical earthen wall above the village and scampered away through the dark. Link cursed to himself and threw down his sword.

"I see the masked one got away, Hero," said a woman with graying hair, whose face and unique armor struck a bell in Link's mind. Somehow, though, he couldn't figure out who she was.

"I don't trust people who wear masks," said Link bitterly. The woman smiled, which suddenly turned into a frown.

"Stay the night in the village, Hero," she said. "Sleep in my house- it is unsafe for you to return to your forest."

"What about my horse?" asked Link. "What about Epona?"

"I will fetch her. My house is the large one up those stairs, do you see, Hero? You will find a warm bed waiting for you. My son, Sheik, will tend to your needs." Then, the woman was gone, and Link was left alone in the village square. He shrugged and made his way up to the vast house, and knocked.

"Enter," came the gruff voice of a boy. Link opened the door and cautiously stepped in.

"Er, hi. Are you Sheik? Your mom said..."

"The spare bed is in the first room at the top of the stairs," said Sheik roughly. Link examined the boy- his face was half hidden by a collar of sorts, and his left eye was covered by wild blonde bangs, showing only his right eye, which was red. He wore a tight blue body suit, yet there was something odd about him. Something off, almost. Link shook it off and thanked Sheik, making his way up the narrow stairs to the first room. He peeled off his belt, gauntlet, tunic and boots, and stood in only his breeches. A knock resounded at the door.

"Come in," said Link. Sheik entered with a tray.

"Food," he said. "Eat, then sleep." He set the tray on the foot of Link's bed, and then turned to leave. Link noticed that Sheik had had his eyes downcast the entire time. Link made a move to comment about it, but stopped.

"Thank you, Sheik," Link said instead. The boy turned and looked at the hero, an unreadable emotion behind his red eyes.

"Sleep well, hero."

Sheik left, and Link went about to consuming the bowl of soup that Sheik had brought up, and then drank the bottle of milk that had come with it. He set the tray outside his door and crawled into his bed, wrapping himself around the warm sheets and falling into slumber.

Link awoke the next morning with an unidentifiable warm feeling filling his chest like water. He made a few delighted noises in his throat as he stood and stretched, the muscles across his chest and back rippling powerfully. Link looked out the window and noticed that it was near midday. Why had he slept so long? He looked around the room he was in- he remembered the woman from the previous night, and he remembered her son, but no names or faces came to him. Shrugging, he pulled on his tunic, gauntlet, boots and belt, and grabbed his sword and shield. He walked downstairs, expecting to see the woman or her child, but all was quiet. Link looked around curiously.

"Um... hello?" he asked. "Is... hello?" There was no reply. He shrugged, and saw a note lying on the table, next to a bowl of soup.

"Hero," it read, "we have left on important errands. Help yourself to this soup- it will still be warm when you wake. Feel free to leave any time, and leave no payment- we will not be back for a while, and would not want your money to go to robbers." There was no name. Shrugging, Link folded up the paper and stashed it in one of the bags hanging at his waist, then made a start on the soup. Sure enough, it was still warm, and Link happily drank it all, finding himself quite disappointed yet wonderfully full when he saw the bottom of the bowl. He stood from the table and exited the house, making his way around back to the stables. He walked in and found Epona, groomed well, and mentally thanked the kind strangers for their good treatment of him and his horse. He led her out of the stable and hopped on, patting her neck.

"Atta girl," he whispered into her ear. "Come on. Let's go to castle town and get a drink. That's right. Yah!" Link and Epona galloped full speed out of the village, down the steps to Hyrule field, and towards the castle. Link dismounted at the drawbridge and patted Epona's neck, bidding her go find some grass to graze on. He walked across the drawbridge, and was instantly met with many soldiers mulling around castle town.

"What the..." he mumbled to himself, but instead progressed to the tavern, pushing through the crowd. Link opened the door and made his way in, marveling at how crowded it was. He made his way to the bar, where there was an open seat, and sat down.

"Busy day?" Link called to Eddgar.

"Yeah," said the hassled looking bartender. "Hang on a few minutes, kid, and I'll be right with you."

"Hey hero," said one of the village men, who was sitting next to Link. He had wild turquoise hair, and eyes of the same color, sparkling with mischief and kindness. "Can you believe it?"

"Believe what?" Link asked. The villager raised his turquoise eyebrows in surprise.

"You haven't heard the news?" he asked Link, in a conspiratory tone.

"What news?" asked Link. The man smiled, shaking his head.

"The princess disappeared last night."

"What?" asked Link in shock.

"Yeah, no kiddin'," said the villager, taking a sip from his tankard. "Her and her handmaiden."

"Was it kidnapping?" Link asked. The villager shook his head.

"We don't know. There's no sign of struggle, nothing missing- not even a single pearl gone. She just vanished, as did her attendant."

"How bizarre," said Link. Eddgar hurried over.

"The usual?" asked the bartender. Link nodded, and the man slid a tankard full of rum over the counter to him, then rushed off towards the other end of the counter.

"You said it, kid," agreed the villager. "It's crazy. There's not even a possible way she and her attendant could've escaped. The windows were all locked from the inside, and there were guards placed around both their doors, since they're so high ranking and all. It's weird. So anyway, everybody's all freaked out and the king sent out a whole lot of soldiers to try and find her."

"Hm..." said Link, taking a sip from his tankard. "There's definitely something fishy."

"You're tellin' me," said the villager, shaking his head. "Name's Charl, by the way."

"Link," said Link. "But everybody calls me hero, anyway."

"Bet you can't get enough of that, eh?" asked Charl. Link shook his head with a smile, taking a sip from his tankard.

"It gets old after a while," said Link, wiping his mouth on the back of his arm.

"Hey, Link, I've got an idea," said Charl. "Howsabout you go to the old king yourself and tell him you'll look for his little princess. Eh? Eh? Rumor is you've met her before."

"Oh?" said Link, and shrugged. "I did once, before I left on my trip. But that was eight years ago, and eight years can be a lot."

"Yeah, true, but hell, it's worth a try, ain't it?" asked Charl, slapping Link on the back, causing him to spit out a little rum into his tankard.

"Possibly," said Link. "So, where do you think she's gone?"

"Me? I think she's off at that lake," said Charl. "Hidden, inside that one temple under the water."

"The water temple?" asked Link. "It doesn't exist."

"It does," said Charl. "It was sealed away under the lake. Zora and the likes can go visit it."

"Hm," said Link. He mentally recalled his Zora's mask, mounted proudly on a wall with several other masks of his.

"Anyway, other boys reckon she's on Death Mountain, or in the woods, or off in the desert, hiding with them women warriors, the Gerudo."

"I doubt she's at the Gerudo outpost," said Link. "It's not the type of place a princess would go."

"But they say there's something different about this princess," said Charl. "Something special. Something strange, that nobody can put their finger on. They say she's got the mark 'o the Triforce on the back of her hand, too."

"Hm..." said Link, staring thoughtfully at his gauntlet. He knew that if he tapped the mark on the back of his hand, it would shine bright, as would the princess', and he could find her. However, something in his mind forbid this idea from him- that he might be endangering her if he did so. Instead, Link took another sip from his tankard, mulling over in his mind everything he'd heard as Charl got into a heated argument with the man on his other side over whether or not the temples actually existed.

Link returned to his cabin and peeled off his tunic with a swoop. He removed his belt, gauntlets, boots, and breeches even, and waded into the pond near his modest home, floating in the water. He splashed himself off and floated on his back, watching the small forest spirits float above him, casting shimmering lights all across the pond. On a random impulse, Link hauled himself out of the water, got dressed, went into his house and grabbed several masks, shoving them into some bags on his belt (amazing, those bags, could hold anything and never changed size) and headed off in the direction of Kokiri village. He had only visited Kokiri village once since his return to Hyrule, and even then it had been in the middle of the night when he had needed to get some things from his old tree house- which, he had discovered, the Kokiri had perfectly preserved since his departure.

Link came out of the lost woods into the clearing, and smiled at the children wandering around the village. He hopped down from the high ledge on which he stood, and made his way towards Saria's house. The children stopped in their hubbub to stare at the tall Hylian who was proceeding directly towards their most beloved Kokiri's house.

"Who are you, mister?" one of the children, a little girl, tugged at his tunic. Link recognized her- Talia, one of Saria's friends.

"I'm Link," he said to the little girl. Her eyes went wide.

"Link!" she squealed, hugging him around the legs. The other children rushed forward to hug him as well, save for Mido, who stood back, sulking.

"We thought you'd died!" they said. Link laughed.

"I came close to it many times. But right now, I need to see Saria, okay?"

"Alright, Link," said someone, and everybody let go of him and backed off, shyly. Link smiled and shook his head, and ducked in the low doorway of Saria's house.

"Link," she said, sitting at the table with a cup of tea in front of her. She passed it to him as he wedged himself into the tiny seat. She smiled.

"I knew you were coming when I heard them yelling your name. They missed you."

"I didn't think they would," he said, shrugging. Saria grinned.

"How have you been?"

"I've been good," said Link to the green-haired girl. Saria smiled and nodded.

"I thought so. I'm guessing you came to me about the princess Zelda's disappearance, correct?"

"Well..." said Link, and then nodded. "Yes. I have. Among other things."

"I know where she is right now," said Saria with a nod. "She's safe."

"How do you know?" asked Link. Saria smiled and giggled.

"Silly Link. I know lots of things! You know more than me though," she said, suddenly serious. "You just don't remember it."

"I what? You're confusing me, Saria," said Link. Saria shook her head.

"The princess asked me not to tell you where she is, and I said I wouldn't, so I won't," said Saria, and Link shook his head, even more confused. What would the princess of Hyrule have to do with a little Kokiri girl?

"But, the temples are real," said Saria. "I know you don't think they are, but they are! Do you remember our secret spot?" Saria asked him hopefully. Link nodded. "Do you remember the ruins above it? That was the forest temple, at one point. The fire temple is in Death Mountain. The water temple is under Lake Hylia. The shadow temple is in Kakariko graveyard, and the spirit temple is at the far end of the desert, past no-man's land."

"How do you know all this?" Link asked, shocked. Saria smiled and shook her head, and Link realized she wasn't telling.

"You know all this, too," said Saria quietly. "You've been to each one. You just don't remember."

"I what?" asked Link, his jaw dropping to the tiny wooden table. "How? When? Why don't I remember?"

"Why don't you set about trying to remember how you became the hero of time first," said Saria. "Go back to your cabin in the woods. Think. I'm sure you'll remember before your adventure's over."

"Adventure? I haven't started an adventure," said Link, who was by now thoroughly confused.

"Yes you did," said Saria, innocently, childishly. "You started it last night, when you went to Kakariko and tried to capture the Masked Mystique. Look for the mystique again, Link. Masks aren't all they appear to be."

"I know," said Link, recalling his adventures involving the massive trouble masks brought about.

"So," said Saria suddenly, leaning indulgently over the table. "How were your adventures?"

A few hours later found Link mulling his visit with Saria over in his mind again and again. He knew that something had changed about the little girl. She hadn't changed in body, but her mind... there was definitely something different about her mind. About her knowledge, about how she spoke and carried herself- something regal, almost. Link shook his head. It was only his imagination.

He threaded his way through the trees in the Lost Woods, tapping the trunks of a few upon occasion. He looked through the passage to Goron City, shook his head, and sighed. He had tried to go through the passage once long ago, but found that it was blockaded by giant rock. I'll look at it on the way back, Link decided. He continued through the forest, and looked down at the pond before him- it lead to Zora's fountain. He'd never dared to try and look, see what was on the other side. Link shook his head and continued through the woods. He'd look at that on the way back, too. He arrived in the Sacred Forest Meadow, which, much to his horror, was crawling with monsters. Link heard a howl, and turned his head, unsheathing his sword at the speed of light. Two wolfos were running straight at him, teeth bared, claws unsheathed. Link grinned.

"Now this is my kind of party," Link said, and met the awaiting claws of the wolfos with his blade. Link swirled the blade, ducked under the deadly swipe of the wolfos, and sliced it around the middle, earning a loud howl. He turned and blocked a swipe from the other wolfos, and nicked its ear with the tip of his sword. Thus the battle went- block, duck, strike, until both wolfos finally combusted into blue flame, dissolving and leaving the goods they had stolen during their lives. Link wiped the sweat from his brow- he hadn't fought like that in over a year. Link then picked up the health jars and drank down the potion within, instantly feeling better. He cautiously peeked his head into the maze, and saw what looked to be gigantic troll trooping up and down the passage. He pulled out his hookshot, struck the stupid beast with it twice, and sighed happily when it combusted as well, leaving only rupees. Link made his way through the maze, killing off the enemies as they appeared. Finally, relieved, he found himself at the stairs leading up to the clearing, to Saria's 'secret spot'.

"Thank goodness," said Link, reaching the top of the stairs. Only, he wasn't so luck.


Link was thrown backwards by the force of the blast that hit him.

"Curses," he spat, fishing out his bow. "That's obnoxious. Too bad I don't have a fairy here to alert me." He drew the arrow, stood quickly, aimed and fired at the "stupid-troll-thing" and ducked as another blast came flying his way. He heard an angry yell, and grinned. Link drew another arrow, stood quickly, and fired again, and the beast fell over and combusted, much to Link's delight. He rushed forward, only with slightly more caution this time, snagged the bombs left over, and proceeded into the meadow.

Link didn't know why he'd come so far just to see a stupid temple ruin, but as he stood in the clearing, he felt an odd sense of purpose... of déjà vu, almost. He made his way over to a little stump where he recalled Saria would sometimes sit and play her ocarina, and sat down, heavily. Something in the corner of his mind teased him. A memory, something locked away long ago, not forgotten but not remembered, either. A figure in blue. Sadness. Sweet music.


"What are you doing here, hero?" Link's eyes shot open.

"I might ask the same of you," said Link to the boy standing in front of him, clad in a blue bodysuit. The boy from last night. Sheik.

"I..." Sheik seemed taken aback. "I asked you first. You owe me an answer. As soon as yours is given, then I will give mine."

"Hmph," said Link. "I don't know what I'm doing here. I just... came. I didn't think the temples existed. It seems I was wrong."

"The temples exist, hero," said Sheik. "Only a fool would deny it when you have this evidence." He gestured up to the building set into the wall.

"Well, it is a good thing I'm not a fool, then," snapped Link. "Now tell me, Sheik. What are you doing here?"

"Can I trust you, hero?" Sheik asked, his red eyes burning fiercely. "Can the hero of time keep a secret to save a life or two?"

"I can keep my mouth shut," retorted Link coldly. "I've known things I shouldn't have known, seen things no man should see. I can keep secrets." Sheik nodded, and his red eyes softened.

"Yes, hero, sometimes I forget that you've seen the essence of evil. Forgive me." Sheik dusted off what looked to be a pedestal covered with leaves, and sat.

"You see, Link," said Sheik, "my mother and I have taken up hiding here. There's a great evil presence welling up under the earth. Soon, it will seep through any crevice it can, and consume the world. An army is marching up from the south, though the King does not know it yet. It is composed of many hundreds of creatures of darkness, creatures that should have been locked away long ago."

"Why is this?" said Link. Sheik shook his head.

"I can't explain. You need to learn it for yourself, remember for yourself. But I can tell you that soon, the times will turn, and Hyrule will be drenched in blood and chaos."

"Is this why the princess and her attendant disappeared?" Link asked. Sheik nodded.

"Yes, this is the cause for their disappearance. They, unlike the king, know full well what is coming, and have left to secure themselves and the future of the land. As we speak, they are working against the darkness that lies within the evil realm."

"I see," said Link heavily. He looked up at Sheik. "What can I do to help?"

"Nothing," yelped Sheik. "Stay out of the way if you treasure your life!"

"But I'm the hero of time," argued Link. "Isn't this sort of thing supposed to be my job?"

"Times change, hero," snapped Sheik in reply. "The hopes of the people would be best left intact," said the young Sheikiah.

"As far as I can see," said Link through gritted teeth, "you're doing nothing to help her."

Sheik balled up his fists, visibly quaking.

"Stick to saving old ladies' cats, hero," said Sheik bitterly. "Don't get yourself hurt." Sheik flung a deku nut at the ground by Link's feet. The hero jumped out of the way and was blinded, and when his vision returned, the Sheikiah was gone.

"My life is an utter disaster!" Link fumed, throwing his things roughly down to the floor and flopping angrily upon his bed. He smashed his head against his pillow time after time, cursing his life and his unluckiness in always being dragged into the most annoying of circumstances and made to deal with the most unsavory of humans.

"I can't take this!" he finally yelled, standing up violently and storming out of his cabin, bomb bag in tow, along with a camera and, on a random impulse, his chicken mask. He put on the mask and stomped around with his bombs, blowing up whatever suited his fancy, taking photos as well.

"You have to be the most unstable hero I've ever seen," came a smirking voice. Link glared through the chicken mask, wanting to poke out that one red eye with the beak of his mask.

Stupid Sheikiah.

"Leave me to my agony," said Link. "Go back to whatever it is you Sheikias do. Lurk in the shadows, tell people they can't do their jobs..." He picked up a deku stick and began to whack angrily at a tree, then flung it over his shoulder when it snapped. With a whoosh, Sheik departed.

Or so Link thought.

"Poor hero," said Sheik, perching on a branch above Link's head. "Nothing to do all day. Now tell me."

"Tell you what?" asked Link with a growl. "I owe you no answers."

"Tell me about your travels," requested Sheik.

"Not fit for anyone's ears," mumbled Link. "Seven years of hell. Go away, Sheik. I don't want to talk to you."

"But I want to talk to you, hero," said Sheik.

"There's a difference between talking and taunting," grumbled Link angrily. Sheik shrugged.

"Sulk, then. You feel that there is no use for you. But I came here because there is something you can do. Go to the Temple of Time, and seek answers from the altar of time. I'm sure that, somehow, you will learn something of use for us all."

"What in almighty Din..." Link grumbled, and then sighed, taking off his mask. "Fine, I'll go to the Faore Forsaken Temple of Time and look at the stupid altar of time... it had better be worth it," Link grumbled. A smile was evident in Sheik's voice.

"Oh, it will be, hero. Trust me. It will be."

"Stupid..." Grumbled Link as he slid off Epona outside the castle. The stupid Sheikiah would have him running across all of Hyrule, no doubt, just to cater to his amusement. Link still wondered why he was even listening to some dumb Sheikiah in the first place, and decided it was because there was something very familiar about him, something tugging at the corner of Link's memory. Frustrated, Link blew his bangs out from his eyes as he made his way through the crowd of townspeople and soldiers.

"Excuse me, pardon me," he said, making his way through the crowd towards the Temple of Time. He hadn't been there in years... eight long years, and even when he had been there, his sanity was nearly gone from a loss... Link couldn't even remember who or what he had lost anymore, only that he had searched to find it, to find something, but only to no avail. Link slid through the door to the temple, expecting it to be crowded, but found that it was utterly empty. His boots made clicking sounds on the tiles of the temple, and he felt some overwhelming sense of purpose as he proceeded to the altar of time, where there were three glowing stones spinning. Something called to him about the stones, something missing. He knew he had been the one to put the stones there, but... when? Tentatively, he reached out and touched the first stone- a round, shining green stone. Lightly, he allowed his hand to rest upon it, feeling something at the edge of his mind, something huge, a wave of unknown memories. He looked at the two doors before him, sealed tightly shut. He shrugged, and placed his hand on the next stone, feeling even more importance. Hesitantly, he laid his hand upon the last stone, a shining blue triangle, and felt a blast explode from the altar, throwing him back. Link fell to the ground and slid backwards as the three stones rose into the air, orbiting about each other. They emitted a large gleam, and the stone Triforce above the two doors Link had earlier noticed glowed golden.

A loud slam behind Link caused him to whirl, as the doors to the temple closed. He gulped nervously. Had he broken some law? Would his head be chopped off? The doors above the altar finished sliding open, and Link proceeded forward very shakily. His hand went to the sword on his back, the Master Sword, and he drew it out of his scabbard, proceeding forward. He made his way to a pedestal before him, and was struck with an odd sense of Déjà vu. He shook it off, and, without being told to do so, or even knowing what he was doing, Link plunged the sword into the pedestal and found himself engulfed in a blue light, being carried upwards. Link didn't struggle or panic, because, for some reason, what was happening felt comforting, almost. Totally right. Like this was what he was supposed to be doing. The ceiling of the temple came closer and closer, but Link ignored it- he knew what he was doing. He was the Hero of Time.

All went black.

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