AN: I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at this part, I had some ideas but the one I wanted to do most seemed like 'too much', but….f**k it, I'm doing this for fun anyway, might as well, hope it's enjoyable
He followed Medli through the village, marveling at it. It was all made of wood, wrapped around a pillar in a spiral. Colored clothes blew in the wind, he could see trees in every direction, embracing the feet of snow-capped mountains. His cheeks stung from the cold, the bite of the wind a very real factor. It smelled similar to the Kokiri forest, but there was far more what he knew as 'pine'. It was very distinct, it rode on the sharp winds along with the scent of running water…
"It's beautiful," he mumbled absentmindedly, looking out over the railings.
"Hm?" Medli looked back at him, followed his gaze and then smiled. "Yes, it is, thank you for saying such. I'm sure your home is beautiful too."
"It is," he said without hesitation. "Just-…since I left, I've seen all these other beautiful places too. Not a lot, but enough to make me…to make me want to see more, I guess. Does that make sense? I know there are many places, and they're all different, and I just…I want to be there, at least once, you know?"
Medli smiled at him and he flushed, shaking his head and redirecting his attention ahead.
"I- I apologize for that, I was rambling, I don't want to keep your father waiting."
"Don't worry about it," she chirped, turning to lead him again. "I don't think we have much to worry about, personally, but Father will make the decisions."
He said nothing, following her down the stairs. Eventually they ended up at some sort of terrace, this one was larger though, and had no railings on it. Tebali awaited them there, along with a couple Rito guards, from the look of it. Link dearly hoped that this wasn't a bad sign.
"Well then, little king…" Tebali tilted his head, eying him. "Are you prepared?'
He nodded, stepping forward.
"For whatever it takes, sir."
"You are to come with us, there is a sage that lives in the mountains, they will be the one to judge you."
Link nodded. He knew his mother would have disapproved, he knew Nabi was probably angry about this, they would both say he was being reckless, but what other choice did he have? He had to do this, for everyone.
It got colder and colder the further up they went, but he was determined not to complain. The warm clothing made it tolerable, but his cheeks were freezing. No matter how difficult, he would not complain. He needed the Rito to trust him, he needed their help. Anything that would even slightly discourage that could not be allowed. They traveled so high, he wasn't sure if there would be anything awaiting them at the top at all. How could someone live so far up here, all alone? It seemed impossible. Sure enough, however, they found a small cabin on the mountain, smoke coming from the chimney.
Without a word, Tebali entered the building, his men and Link following them in. It was surprisingly warm inside, a large clock ticked against the wall, a large instrument took up another wall, it was something like a piano, but he wasn't sure what. A chill ran through him suddenly that had nothing to do with the ice as the door shut behind them. He peeked around Tebali and his men, then stared at the strange collection against the wall that had been blocked from his vision. Masks, lining the entire wall from top to bottom, of all kinds of things. This place- this placed unnerved him.
A door that had likewise been covered in masks opened, and a strange grinning man entered. He had bright red hair but was clearly Hylian, and strange garments.
"Oh ho! Dear Chief, how may I be of help to you this fine blustery day?" he said, holding his hands together. "In the market for anything, maybe? Or-…oh…my my…"
"I see you've noticed him," Tebali moved aside, allowing the man to see Link clearly. "This is King Kassim of the Gerudo, although apparently his true name is 'Link', do you make anything of that?"
"I make many things, dear Chief," the man grinned at him. "But you needn't tell me the boy's name, I recognize that soul anywhere."
"Soul?" Link blinked, frowning. "Begging your pardon, sir, but I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean."
"Oh ho ho…" the man drew closer, bending down to look at him better. "Dear boy…your face is but a mask. You've had many, your face ever changes, but you don't. Your soul doesn't, your eyes don't. They may change shape and color, perhaps, but the spark in them is unmistakable."
"Oh! That shield, that's the mirror shield isn't it? What a coincidence! That will be most helpful!" he clapped his hands. "Please, dear boy, might I see it?"
He hesitated but slowly took the shield into his hands, showing it to the strange man.
"Reflections can be deceiving, dear boy, the masks we wear of flesh, hide, scale, feathers…they are all temporary. Masks that corrode and fall apart, they are just that however; masks for our souls. Our true selves. I see your soul clearly, boy, I have seen it take more drastic changes than this."
"You don't understand, no, but you will." He beamed. "May I?"
The man outstretched his hand for the shield. Link hesitated again, unwilling to give it up to such a man but- no, no he had no reason not to. He wasn't going to keep it, and he wouldn't steal it from him, not in front of others. Not to mention how it would look to the chief if he denied.
He handed the shield over.
"Marvelous!" he beamed. "Now then, as I said, reflections can be deceiving, but this mirror is an exception. With the right conditions, it can show you who you are."
"But I know who I am, sir," Link frowned, growing increasingly uncomfortable.
"You know what you are, right now, and what you are right now is a Gerudo, your mask right now is a Gerudo, that is not who you are, not really." His eyes opened slightly, peering into Link's very core- or perhaps even, as he said, his soul. "You belong to the goddess, my boy, you belong to she who made all life. As such, you do not 'belong' to any single group, any single type of person, no no…you are of, and for, all people. The masks you wear are superficial, however, they can be of use…allow me to show you."
He held the shield up to Link's face, the boy puzzled as he stared at his reflection. He eyed it, then the man, unsure of what it was he was supposed to see.
"Look harder, focus, you will see it." The man said.
Link frowned but did such, staring into his own eyes. What was it he was supposed to see? What was he talking about? Was he simply mad? What was he supposed to-?
A flicker of green- and suddenly…
"What?" he blurted, alarmed.
A different reflection looked back at him, pale, golden hair, a green hat.
"So it is," he heard Tebali mumble behind him.
"Oh ho, but what did I say? Reflections are just faces, faces are just masks…they change, in his case, they change quite often."
Another flash and there was a Zora, a Zora that shared his facial features and eyes, then a Goron, then a plant-creature he did not recognize, a creature with black and white skin and glowing hair, a white-haired human with blank eyes-
"You belong to all, dear Link," he beamed. "As such you serve all, in whatever way is-"
There was a bright flash, the mirror began emitting a blinding light which engulfed Link. He covered his eyes, turning away from it. It lasted but a second, then what it faded.
"Oh, my my…well I suppose this is how you're supposed to serve this tribe, at least for right now…"
He shook his head, disoriented. Gasps came from the guards, Tebali blurted a hushed expletive and Link turned to them, rubbing his eyes with his-….wing?
"I doubt this is permanent," the grinning man mused to himself. "You've changed forms in several lives before, so- no no, you must have been born as you are this time for a reason. Well then, I suppose the goddess has a purpose for you to change more often this time around."
Link let out a yelp that sounded more akin to a squawk, stumbling backwards in shock as he stared at his hands, which were now covered in green feathers.
"I don't think you've been a Rito before, but there's a first time for everything, for you, anyway…."