In the days of creeping darkness, long after the sudden silence descended upon the Lost Wood, and after the waterfalls of Zora River froze solid, and after the plains of Hyrule Field became ever-shrouded by a cover of ominous clouds, the sires of the Shadow were strong and fertile. When the evils of Ganondorf Dragmire were beginning to poison the kingdom of Hyrule like the festering wound from an arrow, the long shadows that followed the lone figure of a young man with golden hair conspired with the venomous malevolence in the Gerudo Lord's wake, and brought forth a being of shadow.
This being had no consciousness, no mind, no sense of self; for it was spawned from unknown origins and guided by instinct and hunger alone. It knew not the meaning of fear or pain, and it worried not of death. But though its fabric was wrought together by the Dark Powers, this in itself did not make it evil. The shadow knew only yearning and need, but for what, it knew not.
And so it followed the steps of its shadow-maker, for it had no other place else to go. But somehow, somewhere along the way, the shadow became separated from its owner and wandered about in the night, lost and hungering for its master.
Ganondorf discovered this shadowy being shortly before he commandeered and infiltrated the underwater temple of Lake Hylia, and recognized its potential as a tool to destroy his strengthening foe, the Hero of Time.
And thus, using his necromantic powers, Ganondorf bestowed to the shadow a raiment of flesh and blood and bone in a countenance that reflected its own lost master, and kept it locked within a room filled with illusions of the grim world above: a bleak spit of narrow land with a single leafless tree amidst an endless mirror of still water.
Ganondorf whispered lies to the being day after day, promising that the thing it so greatly desired lay in the destruction of an intruder, the one with golden hair, a sword, and a fairy. The being, now with dark eyes of its own, understood these lies only through its hunger that gnawed at the emptiness within it; and so it waited as it had been told, watching with new eyes for the intruder whom it would destroy.
The one with the golden hair.
Link was not afraid when he found himself in a vast room, ankle-deep in water as far as the eye could see. He looked up but saw no sun, although there was light. It was puzzling, to say the least. A dense fog drifted all around him; Navi fluttered out from beneath the folds of his hat to scan the surroundings as well.
"Be careful, Link," she admonished softly. "I fear we are not alone."
"Yes, I felt as much," he replied, having been aware of a presence from the moment he first entered the room.
He took a few wary paces forward, staying alert and keeping his eyes moving. Soon they came to rest upon the dark form of a gnarled tree—an island in fact. He walked closer and inspected it to find nothing unusual, at least in this strange world of oddities that Hyrule had become. He ventured across the room and found that it was not as vast as he had thought; it was merely an illusion. On the other side was a door, but it was locked. With a sudden heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach, he recognized that this was indeed as he had feared: something was in the room with him, but what he could not imagine.
"Mind my sword," he instructed the fairy as he turned from the door and slowly drew the impressive blade. "I've no idea where the enemy may strike first and I don't want to risk hitting you. Be my eyes, Navi. I can hardly see through this mist . . ."
The eyes that had been watching Link from within the shroud of fog manifested the sword it had seen him unsheathe, thoughts consumed with nothing but destruction for what it saw: the Intruder, the One with the Golden Hair.
The shadow hesitated, momentarily perplexed. There was something different about the intruder, something that its animalistic mind could not comprehend. He seemed so real, so much more solid than the world of gray haze and darkness that it had known; this figure seemed heavy and alive. He produced sounds, and his footsteps caused the water to churn and make waves. He breathed and blinked his eyes that were filled with color—color. Everything about him was color: gold and blue and brown and white and beige, and how he shined! It was unlike anything the creature had seen in its world of grays and sickly greens, and for a moment it knew fear for the first time.
But then the deceitful whispers—the empty promises—came back to its memory and it tightened its shadowy hand upon the hilt of its sword. This creature, no matter how strange or beautiful it was, had to be destroyed. Only then would the hungry fires be quenched.
And so it struck without thinking, and the beautiful creature countered and struck back. Again and again the shadow repelled the blows without concentration. It stared into the blue eyes on the other side of its sword, contemplating how something could not change its shape yet convey a variety of . . . things. The shadow knew nothing of emotion, but an idea began to form in its very basic mind, the idea that this creature had something that made him unlike anything else the shadow had ever seen. It lay beneath those blue eyes, a live thing like fire and air and light. Light.
As they fought, the shadow was reaching into the depths of Link's eyes and learning, drawing out pieces of him in the form of actions and reactions, movement, voice, color, form, emotion, soul. The more frustrated Link grew with his deflected attacks, the stronger his opponent seemed to become, feeding off of their encounter like a parasite upon an angry host. The shadow became excited the more it learned, knowing that this was what it had so desired since its creation. But one thing it did not realize it was taking in was the basic nature inherent within every living soul: fault.
In that moment, the shadow became a person. No longer was it a mindless vapor that acted upon instinct and need; it had to think and to reason and to act on its own, and that was where it—he—fell.
Link finally spotted vulnerability in his foe and sent the dark blade flying in an arc from his hand, where Link then caught it. The shadow cried out in a voice very much like the figure he was mimicking, and grasped the hand that was now bleeding profusely across the knuckles. Link did not waste a moment in pressing close, driving his opponent's sword deep into his shoulder; the shadow gasped, indeed, he breathed for the first and last time, and he grasped his own blade in his unwounded hand, clenching it until black blood ran down to the hilt and across Link's fingers.
It was warm.
Link looked into the face of his foe, his shadowy reflection, and saw nothing within the dark, empty eyes. Only a shimmer of light, unborn tears perhaps, and then they rolled back.
Link felt his skin crawl, and he pulled the sword from his enemy's body and let it fall into the water. It splashed and then was still. A dark mist—almost like a thin trail of smoke—rose from the prostrate body and melted away into the surrounding fog. Link allowed the bloodstained sword to drop from his hand and he sheathed his own blade again, turning toward the now unlocked door.
Navi was perturbed. "That thing, it looked just like you . . . Link? Link, are you all right?"
The shaken young warrior did not answer until they reached the door, whereupon he turned and gazed out at the realm of mist. He said quietly, "I feel as if some part of me just died out there, Navi."
And as the door closed itself behind him and his quest continued on, he had no idea how precise his words had been.