Disclaimer: I obviously do not own The Legend of Zelda. I am making no money from this – it is merely an expression of ideas and love from a fan.
Notes: A dark “what if?” story. Graphic descriptions and generally melancholy tone – in short, my forte’. Proceed at your discretion. Majora’s Mask setting, no spoilers in particular – if you know the premise, you’ll understand the fic. I haven’t finished the game yet, myself, but I’m a good piece into it (at the time of my writing this story).
She hated the sky…. With all her being she hated it. It looked like it had been splashed over with blood – a slaughterhouse sky, a battlefield sky – with fire on the horizon. The earth did not look any better. It was painted in shades of black and gray, with glowing bits of molten rock here and there. The air was hot, but to Tatl’s good fortune, fairies were tough creatures.
They were nearly impossible to kill actually, though there were not many among the other races that knew that. They could be destroyed by powerful dark magic, and they could certainly be hurt by natural things, but they could survive stuff that would kill the average Terminian. Tatl coughed from the dust and smoke that lingered in the air. She did not remember much from the last several days. She only knew that she was searching for her brother. She hoped that he’d survived this and was worried sick about him. Despite the general toughness of fairies, if he had taken a direct hit…
“Tael!” she called into the charcoal-scented air, “Tael?”
Her search had taken her to all corners of the world. The jagged core that was left of Snowhead was stripped bare of snow. The swamp was still smoldering. The little fairy would never forget the smell of that large octorock she’d found there, limp, gooey and completely cooked.
The sea… that was even worse! When she’d searched there, as far as her eyes could see, it had been boiled off. Fish lay upon rocks, their scales and skins like leather. The Zora… Tatl tried not to think about all the Zora she’d seen in what had been the
, laying limp after having been baked alive in the wave of heat. Other sea creatures lay dried up or as heaps of slime in the sands. The smell was indescribably horrible, a reek of salt and death. Great Bay
The only place left largely unchanged was
. It had already been a place of the dead. Ikana Canyon
The “lucky ones” had been in
. The people and animals there had met The End quickly. Outside of the city’s remains, Tatl was now forlornly calling for Tael. The Skullkid… maybe she was searching for him, too? Nope. She decided she didn’t care. She could not. He’d caused all of this to happen. If he hadn’t taken that mask, hadn’t decided to pull all those pranks… and he’d been nothing but a bully to poor Tael! He could just go away forever! Clock Town
Tatl caught herself crying. Maybe not…. Maybe she just wanted her friend back, after all. She did not know his fate, or if one of his kind was capable of dying. She knew that if she found Tael, she would probably find the Skullkid, too.
Then there was that stupid kid. He could have prevented this! She’d watched him prevent this many times! Why didn’t he this time?
She remembered. Her mind was foggy, but images and sounds presented themselves to her mind, semi-conscious, dreamlike.
The moon was making its terminal descent. People were screaming as it plummeted, growing larger and larger until it filled the early morning sky. Link’s face was filled with regret. His face was always like that when he had to reset the Clock. He had told her once that it was because so much of what they’d accomplished was always lost. He’d said that Time in Termina was cruel because all the good things were undone, but none of the evil. He always regretted running out of time.
He was reaching into a pocket of his tunic for his magical ocarina. Why a little kid had such a powerful item, Tatl would never know. The ground rumbled and Link dropped the instrument. He lunged for it and…
Yeah, that’s when the darkness hit. She had awakened floating in mid-air, strangely enough. Fairies did not always need to flap their wings to fly. She did not know how long she’d been out, but she sensed that it had been quite a while. Upon seeing the devastation around her, she knew what had happened.
It was a far-fetched thought, but Tatl wondered if Link might still be alive. He wasn’t a skullkid, or a fairy, or any other kind of magical creature, but that kid was full of surprises. He was strong, far stronger than his size let on, and he had an almost supernatural knowledge of weapons, both mundane and magical. As soon as he’d found some new tool to use, he knew how to use it as soon as he’d touched it. He carried himself in a strange manner, as well – as if he was older than he appeared.
The courage he’d showed made Tatl respect him. He’d gotten his ocarina back and he had found his horse, but he’d chosen to stay in this doomed world. He could have so easily gone back to Hyrule and left her to deal with the Skullkid on her own. He could have left Termina’s problems to other people, but he’d taken them upon his small shoulders without complaint.
Tatl remembered times Link had been hurt… He’d pause to catch his breath and cough, his front covered in blood, but he’d stand up straight and press on through sheer force of will. She remembered the time when he, beaten, bruised and cut, offered medicine to the sorceress in the swamp. The medicine had been entrusted to him by her sister for that purpose, but Link had been pummeled so badly by vicious forest turtles that Tatl had suggested he take it himself. He’d refused to hear it, determined on his mission.
He was one amazing kid, and he’d survived an amazing amount of strange stuff in the period Tatl had spent with him. If he could survive all she’d seen him go through, a little thing like the end of the world shouldn’t impede his survival, right?
If she found Link, maybe he could help her find Tael. If she found Link, he could reset Time! If was only wishful thinking, she knew, but her loneliness and the landscape made her wish for anything and made her grasp at any tiny hope, no matter how insane.
She heard crying. She floated toward the sound, following it. It was the soft, pitiful weeping of a child. As she drew closer to the sound’s source, Tatl realized she’d recognized the voice.
“Link?” she asked. The green clothing and silly hat were unmistakable. The boy was crouched upon the ground, swiping at the dirt with his left hand. Tatl was struck with a singular thought: Tough as he was, how could the boy survive in this heat? He wasn’t even sweating. She hovered over to him.
“Link! You’re alive!” she exclaimed, “I’m so glad!”
“Tatl?” the boy cautiously asked, “Where have you been?”
Tatl’s heart broke as she looked into that dirty, tear-streaked face. Link’s expression spoke of unfathomable loneliness. It was the face of a lost child. For all his bravado, that is what he was, a child in a land not his own – a land he had failed to save.
“I was knocked out,” the fairy explained. “When I came to, you were gone and the world was… like this! I’ve been searching for my little brother. Link? You can set it back, right? The world, I mean. If we find your ocarina…”
Link swiped at the ground again. Tatl saw something blue, half-buried in the ash.
“I was too late!” Link exclaimed in a frustrated whine, “Everyone died and it’s all my fault! I have to set things right again!”
He swiped at the blue object again and Tatl realized what it was – it was the ocarina. She also noticed that Link’s hand appeared to be going through it, as though his fingers did not exist.
“Why can’t I pick it up?” he growled, “It’s stuck in the ash! I have to save Termina! I have to set things right, but it seems to be stuck!”
Tatl knew that she could not pick up the ocarina. It was far too large and heavy for her. Link had once let her try to play it, on a whim. She’d gone inside of it and flapped her tiny wings to generate enough wind to make notes, but it had been barely enough to make a few discordant toots. She’d claimed she needed something fairy-sized, then she would show him who had greater musical skill! They’d’ both laughed. He’d also said that he was sure the special songs that activated the instrument’s mystical properties only worked for certain people. It had been entrusted to him by a very special person, he’d explained, just like the masks of Termina’s late heroes had been entrusted to him.
Link continued to swipe at the blue object. Maybe it was an illusion, but his small fingers seemed to be going right through the thing. Tatl caught sight of something nearby that froze her blood. In the ash lay the charred skeletal remains of a hand. Two of its fingers were lightly touching the ocarina. She hadn’t seen much in the way of remains in the crater that used to be
, or in the area immediately surrounding it. Most of the people and animals had been, apparently, completely obliterated. Around the edges lay a few scattered bones, charred as gray as the earth, but they were far between and Tatl had yet to see any complete skeletons. Clock Town
The bones touching the ocarina had belonged to a small hand.
Link continued to grab at the instrument and Tatl watched him with growing horror. For a moment, the boy’s whole form seemed to flicker and she could see the barren landscape through him.
“This is weird!” Link yelped, “Why can’t I pick it up?”
Tatl’s heart, already broken, had just shattered into innumerable pieces. Mustering up that hidden gentleness that was a trait of all fairies, she spoke.
“Link, I don’t know how to tell you this,” she said, “but you’re dead.”
“No, no, no!” Link protested, “I’m here! I don’t know how I survived, but I’m here!”
“You didn’t survive!” Tatl yelled, “Look around you! Could anything but a fairy survive this? Do you see those bones touching your ocarina? Those are your bones! That’s why you can’t pick it up! You’re a ghost!”
“No, I’m not!” Link shot back, “Stop saying those things! All I’ve got to do is play the ocarina and reset time again! I just need to pick it up…”
Tatl hovered toward the ground. She gave a hefty flap of her wings to blow the powdery ash off the little flute. Link tried to pick it up again and his fingers passed through it once more.
“Don’t you see, kid?” she said, “You can’t pick it up because you are no longer a part of this world! Link…you… you died. There’s nothing you can do now. You shouldn’t stay here in this terrible place. Please move on.”
Link looked up at Tatl forlornly. “I can’t,” he said. “I can’t be dead. I’m not. I’m not even hurt, I feel just fine. I need to save the world.”
The little fairy lost count of the days in a place where the days no longer mattered. She remained alone in the company of a soul she could not heal, a spirit with lingering regrets. The lost child continued to try to pick up his instrument, still trying to save the world.