The Lingering Shadow

By Wm. Jay Carter III (Hero of Geeks)

Chapter I ~ Half A World Away

Four guardian giants held the moon in the sky, stopped in its suicidal careen toward Termina’s Clock Town. The inhabitants of Termina cowered in fear, hiding in the furthest reaches of the swamp, the most remote recesses of the mountains, under the greatest depths of the sea, and nestled within the hidden crevices of the canyons. Meanwhile, on the face of the suicidal moon, Link, the Hero of Hyrule, was battling the source of their fear: the incarnation of an ancient evil, trapped long ago within the shape of a cursed mask.

Majora’s Incarnation thrashed its tentacles, whipping them past Link’s head. Link dodged deftly, analyzing his enemy. He had donned the mask of the Fierce Deity—in appearance he resembled a huge man with pointed ears, wearing a tunic and cap of white and a breastplate that bore two symbols; a crescent and a triangle. In his hands he wielded a sword composed of two intertwining blades. As he avoided the snapping tendrils of his enemy, he twirled his sword around in sweeping arcs, clipping the red-veined limbs from Majora’s body. Majora shrieked, sounding the shredding of warped steel.

The cry echoed off the walls of the psychic prison Majora had imposed on the Hero of Hyrule. It was a hexagonal room with a floor, walls, and roof made of multicolored light, all hard as marble and utterly impenetrable. There was no entrance except as Majora had drawn Link in—and no exit, Link knew, unless Majora was vanquished. Though the battle had not been long, it demanded presence of mind and quick thinking. And then there were Majora’s mind-bending shrieks. Under any other circumstances the sound would have made Link cringe, but while he wore the Mask of the Fierce Deity he felt nothing could harm him. He simply circled his opponent, watching for its next move.

The torso of Majora’s Incarnation resembled the heart-shaped wooden mask it had once inhabited. The mask had wicked red eyes and was traced with tribal markings. Out from behind its serrated edges had grown powerful legs and coiled red arms with long tendrils. Perhaps most disturbing, however, was the creature’s red-veined head. It had a gaping mouth full of crooked teeth, protruding from the lipless jaw at wild angles. There were hollows where two eyes should have been, but instead one piercing lidless eye protruded from its forehead. The eye was red and bloodshot, staring intently at Link as it repeated its grating shriek.

The crazed Incarnation spun in place, flipping its tentacles menacingly. Link had to roll to one side to avoid being lashed. “Tatl,” bellowed the Fierce Link in a resonant voice, “the eye!” And from somewhere near Link’s shoulder flew a yellow ball of light supported by delicate dragonfly wings. Deftly, the light swerved between Majora’s whipping limbs, bobbing up and down before the eye of the Incarnation. Majora’s arms came up to its face, its tendrils flailing in a mass before it in an attempt to bat the fairy away. Then Link seized his chance. Swinging the double-bladed sword like a hammer, Link twirled around and around until his weapon came to bear on the crazed and shrieking Incarnation. Then a burst of light shone from the sword as it clave through the one-eyed head, sinking deep into its torso. Link raised himself up—planting his feet firmly on the thing’s chest—and launched himself away, drawing the sword out as he flipped backward.

Like a crazed lunatic, the Incarnation thrashed on the floor, a shriek of psychotic fury issuing from its throat, past the crooked teeth of its broken jaw, and it fell limp. Then, like a marionette with a convulsing puppet-master, it was raised into the air shaking and trembling violently. In moments, the incarnation of Majora disintegrated, suddenly bursting into nothing. Then a half-cloven heart-shaped wooden mask fell to the floor; all that remained of the ancient evil that had raged only seconds before.

As Link considered the innocuous cloven mask, he felt a presence leave him. Then he exhaled, staggered, and fell to the ground. The last thing he saw was a little yellow light hovering over his head.

* * *

The sun winked under the eyelid of a passing cloud. The tall-grass of Hyrule Field tossed in a soft breeze, brushing against the knight’s face, begging him to get up. ‘The enemy lurks!’ it seemed to say. ‘Awake, lest you perish!’

The knight rolled to one side, pushing his body away from the earth. He rose, pressing on through the strain of his muscles, the bruises on his arms, legs and chest. He rested upon his sword for a moment to summon his strength. His lips hung open, and he spat. His shield hung heavily on his shoulder, the shield which bore the crest of the Hylian Royal Family. His white tunic, which also bore the crest, was torn in many places. The chain shirt he wore, however, was still whole protecting his flesh underneath. Despite his internal wounds he was not beaten yet.

But neither was his enemy.

The creature snorted as it hoofed the soft turf of the field. It was as big as a cow, and smelled many times fouler. The beast’s thick black hide was covered in wires of short hair. This hide had deflected the knight’s sword again and again. The knight began to wonder whether it had any weakness. It was not an animal natural to this part of the land, or any part of Hyrule as far as he knew. He could not conceive of where the beast had come from, unless it was one of the many islands of the far off sea.

But presently, he had little time to think of remote islands. The beast stretched its squat porcine neck and charged. Just in time, the knight’s shield came between him and the white tusks that curled from under its snout. The knight gasped, let out a feeble cry of pain, and his arm went limp. The beast leapt over him and stopped many yards away on his other side. The knight’s shield swung languidly from his arm as he stood. He could see the creature’s small, beetle-like eyes sparkle with intelligence in the mid-day sun. It was toying with its meal.

The knight sloughed off his shield. It had saved his arm, but without a new strategy it would not do so indefinitely. He sheathed his thick-bladed sword on his back. Standing up to the full of his height, he evened his gaze at the creature. Inhaling as far as his damaged lungs would allow, he yelled at the top of his voice and bolted toward his foe, chain mail flashing dully in the sun, his tunic flapping pitifully behind him. In response to its challenger, the boar grunted and squealed, shaking its mane. Then it lowered its tusks and charged.

The knight halted and planted his thick leather boots into the turf, crouching and leaning into the creature’s weight. They connected with a crunch, the knight raising up, grasping its tusks with both hands, the beast’s snout huffing great bursts of stench into the knight’s face. Resisting the urge to retch the knight heaved with his good arm, the beast’s front legs flailed in the air and then its whole body teetered, bent, and fell to the side. Quickly the knight pulled his sword from its sheath and fell upon the creature’s black underbelly. Mercifully, the sword sank in to the hilt. The knight stepped back, watching as the beast flailed, squealing and grunting, slower and slower. Finally it lay still.

The knight exhaled, staggered, and fell to the ground.

Minutes later, from over the hill creaked an empty cart drawn by two quarter horses. Coming in view of the boar, the cart picked up speed and swerved in a large circle around the beast. Then, suddenly, the cart stopped. Out of the cart stepped the driver; a medium-sized man with a larger-than-medium-sized belly. He was wearing overalls and a loosely-woven straw hat. For a moment nothing moved. Then the driver approached the scene.

The knight awoke to a pair of thick hands shaking him brusquely. He looked up into a bushy black mustache over which a bulbous nose protruded.

“Come on now, pardner,” said the driver, patting the knight’s cheek. “Talk to me—tell me yer name.”

“Aft—,” began the knight, and he fell unconscious.

Back to Story Menu