I am pleased to dedicate this particular story to my aunt Lindsay, who told me Legend of Zelda stories late into the night because I wouldn't shut up and let her sleep.
This new story is based off of an old Russian folk tale of the Snow Maiden. My readers are familiar with my love of fairytales and folktales. So please, sit back, enjoy, and give me your thoughts. I'm feeling a little rusty after not writing for a few months.
I love the cold, the snow, the quiet. So that is where my story will begin.
The Snow Maiden
Chapter 1: Blizzards, Shacks, and Beauty
It was cold. Snow pasted the ground, but not in a beautiful way. Rather, it was mostly gone, hard, and blotched with mud, adding to the overall grim gloom with the overcast sky. It was the time of winter most people hated-those few days right on the edge of spring. But he loved it. He hated sun. Hated heat. Hated that stupid romantic sparkle of snow. This was how winter should be, he figured: icy, empty, and dead. It meant that he could just be him and not be reminded of who he wasn't. He wasn't Link. Just his shadow.
His boots were already splattered with mud from walking. Where he was going he didn't know. His creator had left him without a purpose when he left out his unique identity. Sure he knew he had been created to challenge and, if possible, kill his original, but it grew old fast. After being in match after match with what seemed to be your mirror, you got bored. So here he was on the outskirts of Hyrule, just walking and listening to the lonely peace.
He let out a sigh and watched it rise.
"Take that broken thread to the street," he sung under his breath, "hold it to a lover's neck, tell me if it makes you feel complete. No, rain's not coming down."
He hated music. It was so...Link. He kept singing anyways.
"So dirty is your city holding to a lover's neck, such a pity, such a pity."
Where was he anyways? Oh, who cared. No one, that's what. Not that it bothered him any. He didn't need anyone, just as no one needed him. It was a mutual relationship.
As the hours drug past him and he tonelessly muttered song after song, a cold wind began to grow from the north. He found himself shivering madly, but paid it no heed. His chain mail had already turned to ice and was pressing in through his underclothes, yet it felt oddly fitting. Cold was like him, not Link. Maybe that's the name he'd give himself: Cold.
Who was he kidding? That was a stupid name.
He liked the sound of the wind, despite the fact that at some point he stopped feeling his ears and face. It was a mournful voice that didn't follow any specific tune. It was as though the cold field of barren trees he walked in was full of it, the wind, and the wind was a person like him: nameless and purposeless.
Wind? Nah. Stupid name too.
...there we go. He was Mud. Dark, dirty, kind of just...there.
Listening to these thoughts, he soon got annoyed with how much of a whiney pansy he sounded like and he brushed them away.
He walked on, and the sky grew darker. The wind grew louder. On the break of evening (though it was hard to tell in the perpetual grey from the clouds), snowflakes began fluttering down like dandruff. He paused only to look up before walking on. It crossed his mind once or twice that a storm was coming, but he found himself apathetic. Let it snow. He'd just be more at home than ever once his arms and legs grew numb as well. It wasn't like there was anywhere to go for shelter anyways. At that thought he again wondered what he was doing out there, wherever 'there' was. He had just started walking and hadn't paid attention to where his legs were taking him for days.
"Break red thread, where day bled," he muttered, "Break it hard, such a pity, such a pity."
Where had he heard this song anyways? Whatever.
As the snowflakes grew fatter and came down in earnest, thrown about by the wind, he remembered the chill of the mirror lake where he had first laid eyes on his original-where he first came into being as a carbon copy. Link's eyes had been that grey kind of storm blue, and the storm reminded him of them. They were so unlike his own. But that was only because he, as a shadow, was colorless. Colorless and nameless. Dark Link could hardly be called a name. It was a stupider name than Cold, anyways.
The trees began to vanish behind curtains of wind and ice. His world was turning white, but dark. Colorless.
He took a deep breath of blizzard and paused.
This was nice.
The hairs on his neck bristled as it did whenever he was watched. He was surprised he felt it at all, due to every part of exposed skin had long ago grown numb. He snapped his lips closed and looked around wildly, but all he could see was white. This was ridiculous. Who would come for him all the way out here?
Then, against the blurr of white he thought he could see it: the faint outline of a person. He put a hand on his sword.
"What do you want?" he shouted above the wind. "If it's help you want, sorry, I'm clean out of that. Go build a snow cave or something, curl up in there."
The figure said nothing, but he was sure he could see it shifting. He tensed and debated drawing out his sword despite the pain it would be to slip it back in with his numb fingers. Dying by cold was nice. Dying painful death by monster wasn't.
But as though the blizzard parted between them, the figure became clearer all in an instant, and what he saw shocked him. As white as the blizzard about her stood a beautiful young woman. White, fluffy hair billowed about her, blending in with the snow to the point he couldn't tell where it ended and the snow began. The long, shimmery, but somewhat cottony dress she wore expose much of her ivory skin to the elements.
He couldn't help but stare. She stared at him too, but with her head cocked to the side in confusion and curiosity, her large eyes somehow bright with what could've been sadness. He eyed her bare, willowy shoulders.
"Aren't...aren't you cold?"
She shook her head and cocked her head to the other side. As the seconds passed by with him under her scrutiny, her expression melted into something pleading, though her lips never opened. She looked at him pointedly, but made no move to come nearer. He tucked his frozen fingers beneath his armpits. The blizzard still raged about them and he had to yell to be heard.
"Look, I meant what I said before, I can't help you." he snorted, wiping at the snot dribbling down his senseless nose. "I'm the last person you want helping you."
Her eyes grew brighter. For a moment he thought she was about to cry. But before he could decide whether he cared or not (of course he didn't care), the curtains of snow closed back between them and she simply vanished into the storm as though she had never been there. Sniffing, he continued on, his thoughts wandering back to an old children's story he had heard somewhere. A story about a maiden who only came out during the worst of winter storms.
Link sat inside what had to be a century old hut and listened to the blizzard rattle outside. He watched the reflection of the fire in the foggy old windows. Next to the fireplace his equipment dried along with his clothes and he had an old saddle blanket wrapped tightly around him. The storm somehow made the rickety, freezing cabin cozier, despite the fact that he hated cold. He hated winter, for that matter. Everything felt so dead and lonely.
The village he was suppose to be seeing to should have been around here, but due to the lack of visibility in the storm, for all he knew, he had already reached it. Supposedly it was in a pretty bad condition, so this shack was probably what he had to look forward too. Remembering the sad dead trees he had passed earlier when it was suppose to be late spring, he felt another pang of sympathy for the people whom the princess that had sent him called 'cursed.'
Absentmindly, he wrung water from his blond hair.
The door opened. Cold wind rushed in, frightening the fire and sending snowflakes whirling about. By the time Link had the mind to shout the door was shut again and a familiar black and white figure hunched against the door. He got over his surprise and scowled.
His shadow looked up, pale eyed and blue lipped.
"That's even stupider." he muttered.
"What are you doing here?"
He shrugged, not really looking at him. There was a glaze to his features. Link could feel his unease growing and scooted towards his sword.
"Did you follow me out here to kill me? Braved a blizzard to run me through in my underwear?"
"Against your superior knowledge, hero," Dark Link breathed, finally focusing his eyes on him to glare, "the world does not revolve around you. And sure, I bothered to come all the way out here to view you in your undies." he took a ragged breath. "Idiot."
"If you're not here to kill me," Link grabbed his sword and raised it, other hand holding his blanket to him, "then leave."
"Is that a challenge?"
Dark Link rolled his eyes. "No, it's a desire not to freeze to death. See, I hate myself a little less than I hate you. Lesser of two evils."
For a moment Link played with the idea of pushing his shadow back out into the blizzard. If he did and Dark Link did freeze to death, he'd be free of his ambushes forever. The thought was appealing. It wasn't murder if it was your darker half, was it? This thought faded away as he noticed his other's knees weakening against the door. Slowly, Dark Link slid to the floor, so pale he was almost blue. Link hesitated.
Link's sword tip wavered. Something seemed different about his shadow today, besides the fact he was on the floor without Link having to do anything. Snow crusted his clothes and Link could see his black hair had frozen at the tips.
After a moment or two of watching the slumped man, he lowered his sword. Cautiously, he sat back down in front of the fire and wrapped his blanket about him. Silence spread out between them. When it grew out too long, Link found himself looking back in concern. His shadow had yet to move. A tiny thrill of alertness ran through him as the thought of hypothermia came to his mind.
"Uh, are you asleep?"
"If you want to survive so badly, you probably shouldn't let yourself fall asleep."
Dark Link just sat there, eyes hidden by his now dripping black bangs. Link grabbed one of his boots and chucked it at him, hitting him squarely in the stomach. The man gave a coughing grunt and snatched up the offending boot.
"What the hell was that for?" he growled thickly. Link didn't miss the way his eyelids drooped.
"Don't fall asleep."
"Do you want to die?"
"Depends on my mood."
"Oh, make up your mind. If you want to die at least have the decency to do it away from me so I don't feel guilty."
"Guilty?" Dark Link chuckled. "That's funny."
"Where have you been anyways? Terrorizing little children? Raping and pillaging?"
"Ah, now that's too much of the good life for me." His head drooped. "Now shut up, I'm tired."
"Go back outside if you want to fall asleep."
Dark Link ignored him. Link reached for another boot. Shadow or not, he wasn't going to watch a man die right next to him.
This time when he threw the boot, his shadow half-heartedly defended himself with his arm. Calling him a few choice names, Dark Link glared at him and shook his wet bangs out of his face. Before Link could react he pulled his sword out from his back and flung it at him in one smooth movement. Lucky for him it was a weak throw and the sword clanged to the floor besides him.
"This is why I want you dead." he growled, "You're damn annoying, no wonder your mother abandoned you."
"At least I had a mother."
Link could see the rage seething on the other's exhausted face. Though it was a little terrifying to see such murderous intent on a mirror of his own face, he could see a bit of warmth returning to him. At least his mouth looked less blue and his breath had grown more even.
"Why did you come out here?" Link asked again.
"And you, don't you have that princess girlfriend to slave to?"
Link ignored that stab. "So you don't know why you came out here."
"Of course I do."
"I just...I just don't care to tell..." he yawned, "a bastard like you."
"Especially when there is no reason."
"Don't fall asleep, or I'll throw something else at you."
Dark Link blinked at him blearily. "Why the hell do you care?" His words were slurring worse and worse. "Just leave me alone."
A tearing sound came from outside. Link looked up in concern. The roof wasn't in the finest condition and he would bet his last rupee that a piece of it just tore off. The wind moaned like a dead thing and rattled the window panes. The fire flickered as though touched by a breeze and he shivered.
The darker man puffed out a short, ironic laugh. "She's not happy tonight."
Link had to strain to understand him through his exhausted tongue. "Who?"
"The Snow Maiden."
He gave his shadow a skeptical look, despite the fact the man wasn't looking his way, but at his wet boots.
"Isn't that just a nursery rhyme?"
"Sure, hero. Myths and legends have never been true for you. Dragons, heroes of time, shiny triangles that grant your wishes..."
"The Snow Maiden is ridiculous, though. Those had a basis in the real world."
"...shiny triangles that grant your wishes..."
"You know what? Stuff it."
" 'ould love to. Any food on you?"
"Pfft, like I'd share with you."
"How sweet, we're like an old married couple all ready."
Link threw his scabbard this time. Lucky for his dark half, his sword was out to dry and not in it. Dark Link was expecting this and dodged it easily, despite his fatigue.
Another horrible tearing noise came from outside and a frightened mouse came scurrying out of its hole. Link could feel a cold draft sinking in from where it came. He adjusted his blanket around him and pulled his bag to him to look for some food. In a few minutes he had a poker hanging over the fire with a frozen piece of venison dangling from it.
"How do you know she's unhappy then?" he asked, "For all you know, this is her having a blast."
When Dark Link once more didn't respond, he sighed, pulled out another piece of frozen, dried meat, and chucked it at him. His shadow hardly even flinched at the contact, though he did crack a single eye open to glare at the offending meat.
"There, food." Link shifted his own piece. "You can even use the fire to thaw it out if you want."
Dark Link picked it up with two fingers and sniffed it.
"Poisoned." he muttered.
Link rolled his eyes. "That's gratitude for you."
Eventually, though, Dark Link weakly crawled his way over to the fire. Link watched as he took back his sword and fumbled with obviously numb fingers to slip on the venison to the tip, which he then hung over the fire as well. His glazed, drooping eyes watched wearily. When his meat begun to burn, Link used his homemade poker to move his shadow's sword out of the fire. It was a testament to how far gone he was when Dark Link didn't even react, but continued to stare at really nothing. Eyebrows furrowed, he peeled off and gingerly chewed his own hot meat.
"She was kinda pretty."
Link stared, surprised his other had talked, let alone that he could understand him.
"Is your tongue frozen or something?" he asked. He was beginning to wonder if he should bother pulling out another saddle blanket. The darker man wasn't shivering where Link hadn't stopped shivering since he stepped inside.
"She was all white," Dark Link continued in his quiet mumble, "I couldn't tell where the snow began and she ended. Pretty."
That decided it. Reaching into his Kokiri pouched, he felt around in its magically compacted innards till he felt the blanket and pulled it out.
"You're going to want to pull off all your wet stuff if you want this to work." he said.
Dark Link blinked. "Huh?"
"Strip. You're freezing."
He blinked again. "You're gay?"
Link smacked his forehead. Why was he even trying?