based on The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
characters and scenario by Nintendo
dramatisation by tikitikirevenge
Ever gone two weeks without sleep?
There's a myth doing the rounds that faeries don't need to sleep. Don't be ridiculous. Everything needs to sleep. I've seen a lot of creepy crawlies in my time, fire-breathing lizards and ice monsters and worms big enough to build a town on, and I'm pretty sure all of those things got a little shut-eye at night. Um, okay, maybe not the undead things, Gibdos and Bubbles and all that. They're just piles of bone held together by some seriously nasty magic. I got to see a lot of those. Do you have any idea how many skeletons are walking around under your feet at any time? It's seriously creepy, especially – uh... lost my train of thought there...
Anyway, we're not talking about sleep. Not really. This is about the time the world almost ended. You do remember that, right? Festival of Time, moon falling into the middle of Clock Town, all sorts of madness happening everywhere you looked... not the sort of thing you forget easily. Not me, anyway. I was right in the middle of it. A friend of mine turned out to be behind the whole mess – kinda, not his fault, long story – and I spent the rest of the time running around with some sort of crazy time-travelling warrior-child psycho. No offence.
So. Time travel. Not all it's cracked up to be. Try fifteen days without sleep, struggling to keep track of the exact time you have to be somewhere to stop something from happening and with a bunch of monsters having a go at your wings every other moment. Fun? Noooo. Awesome? A little bit. Meeting your future self is the most freaky thing that can happen to you, but meeting your past self is seriously trippy. Can you begin to imagine that? Can I possibly describe what that's like to you? Probably not, but here goes nothing.
This one time, me and my brother got split up for a bit...
CYCLE 0: CLAUSTROPHOBIA
DAWN of the FIRST DAY
"Oh, blast," whispered Tatl, staring at the huge wooden door which had just shut on her. "Blastblastblastblastblast. Hell. Wingshreds."
She pounded at the door a couple of times, knowing it was useless. Whoever had invented doors had clearly hated faeries: even the most stupid Chuchu jelly monster could push one of those things open with enough time and luck, but noooo, not her kind. Stupid.
A whimper from somewhere behind her caught her attention, and wit a surprised little jolt she turned around. Who could it be-?
"Oh, it's just you," she said, her voice dropping in disappointment. It was the stupid little boy that she, Tael and Skull Kid had ambushed, still sitting on that big fat flower, staring at his reflection with what passed as shock. Ah, the look on his face... the boy had so had it coming when Skull Kid used his magic mask to turn him into a little wooden Deku scrub. Served him right for following them all the way down here.
He seemed to be having trouble with his new voice, because all the noises he was making sounded like little scared choked sobs. Then again, maybe he was crying. Not that she felt sorry for him. If she hadn't been dealing with him, she wouldn't have gotten separated from the others.
The Deku kid whimpered again, and she felt her fists clench.
"Shut up!" snapped Tatl, "I'm trying to think!" Stupid kid – no way was she asking for his help. She turned around to face the door again. "Oo-kay. Door. Gotta be another way around."
She flitted around the edges of the door, hoping for a crack big enough to squeeze through. When that failed, she zoomed up to the ceiling and started to search there, maybe for a natural air vent, or a running stream, or a teleport or magic coin or anything that could get her out of here.
She couldn't find anything. She was trapped in the belly of the Underforest with a Deku scrub who probably hated her guts. Definitely not worth talking to. Tatl felt her heart begin to race: eternity in the middle of nowhere was a very unpleasant idea.
"Skull Kid!" she screamed, whipping around to face the door. "Come back right now! I mean it! Why-" - she choked, coughed, started again - "why won't you come back?"
Why wasn't he coming back? After all their time together, she felt... cheated. Was something wrong with Skull Kid? He had been acting weirdly the last few days. Maybe... of course! He was probably just in a nasty mood after the horse ran off. Skull Kid had always wanted his own horse. He didn't hate her after all. He was probably waiting for her on the outside.
"I'll be right there!" Tatl said to the door – and paused, remembering that she couldn't open it.
Heaving a sigh, she turned around to look at the little green-clad Deku scrub across the room. The same one she'd helped Skull Kid to ambush and curse. The one she had just poked and prodded at.
"You!" she said, swooping towards him and putting on the sweetest voice she could. "I think we got off to a bad start..."
Part of Link wanted to scream, trapped in this strange, unfamiliar body in this strange, desolate underground complex. Another part of him was revelling in the weirdness of it all, excited by every dewdrop he could suddenly taste in the air, every unfamiliar feeling he got as his bare feet pattered across the dirt ground. That little bit of him which was still a child was entranced by the newness of it all. Mostly, though, it was panic.
Link was no stranger to magical curses and frightening situations: at the age of ten he had seen unspeakable horrors, had his childhood stolen from him, started and ended a war... so it wasn't the idea of being cursed that was making his wooden chest constrict and the walls of the tunnel close in on him. It was the horror of losing his own identity – having to relearn something as simple as walking, everything he'd ever been taught suddenly becoming scarily obsolete. If he ever got out of this curse, the first thing he'd do-
"Hurry up!" interrupted a shrill voice. "We'll never catch up to my friends if you're that slow!"
The faerie who was leading him through this otherworldly labyrinth had turned around to face him, flying backwards through the twisting passage. For the briefest of moments Link recalled how his old friend Navi once crashed into a wall after doing that. He tried to smile, but his new face wouldn't let him.
They screeched to a halt as the passage opened up into a larger, cavernous area, a chasm directly in front of them. Like everything he'd seen after falling through the hole, this cavern also had an alien beauty to it, with stalactites and stalagmites sticking out of the walls at unusual angles, covered with grass and red-and-pink flowers of all sizes. Warped fragments of trees floated in the air, twisted and leafless. Torches shone from here and there, illuminating everything.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" said the faerie, settling on his tree-branch nose. "It goes on for ever and ever, you know."
What is this place?, Link wondered, trying to adjust his mental map. Maybe it was the concussion from falling so far, 'cause by his reckoning they'd been running in circles for the past five minutes, and yet they hadn't ended up in the same place twice.
As if she'd read his mind, the faerie said, "You're probably wondering where we are. This is the Underforest. It's... well, I'm not one hundred percent sure, but it's like a magical bridge between... everywhere. We used to go exploring through here. Every path leads somewhere completely different – any corner of the world, really. It'd hard to find your way in, but once you have, you just focus real hard on where you want to go, and keep walking, and eventually you just... get there. That is, if there's a path going there."
If he stopped to think about it, he would have realised she was spouting utter nonsense. Right now, though, he was fixated on the yawning chasm which cut off the path in front of him. How on earth were they going to cross that?
"You're probably not used to your Deku scrub body yet, are you?" asked the faerie. "Okay, here's a secret: if you stand on top of one of these Deku Flowers-" she zoomed over to a particularly big plant - "and let your weight sink in... go on, give it a try..."
Eyeing her warily Link walked over to the flower in question and hopped on. Nothing happened.
"No, no," said the faerie impatiently. "You have to sink into it. Try, um... try to imagine you're growing roots from your feet." He complied reluctantly. Still nothing. "Ugh, what's taking you so long? Really picture it, otherwise it won't work."
How do you know so much about Deku scrubs? Link wanted to ask.
Completely misreading his look, the faerie said, "Oh, you want to be introduced, don't you? I'm Tatl. The guy in the funny mask is Skull Kid. And you probably saw my brother, Tael? He's a faerie as well. The poor boy must be so worried... we'd better catch up to them fast!"
A voice in the back of Link's mind reminded him that the girl couldn't be trusted. Whoever she and her friends really were, they certainly hadn't had his welfare in mind when they'd attacked and robbed him just minutes ago. Not to mention how dangerous that Skull Kid character looked – anybody who could cast a curse of that power in a single breath wasn't to be trifled-
"Wah!" Link squeaked, as without warning the flower he was standing on opened up beneath him. He kicked his tiny legs, trying to find a foothold, but without luck – a split second later he'd crashed into the insider of the Deku Flower.
Jagged branches and stems grazed against his skin – if it wasn't wood he would have been bleeding like mad by now. The branches seemed to move of their own accord, squeezing around him and holding him tight, pinning him until he could barely move. He squirmed, trying to escape, but in his new body he was too weak no manage anything.
The last thing he saw before the petals of the flower slammed shut on him was the little yellow faerie hovering above him, laughing like mad.
"Oh, Gods! Did you see the look on your face? You soooo freaked out! Haha, I can't believe you didn't see that coming. You're going to be there for a while!"
The Hylian-turned-Deku-scrub kept on struggling. Was she a sadist or something? What kind of messed-up creature found anything funny in this suffocating death? Or perhaps she was just completely insane like the rest of her messed-up little friends; maybe she had just led him here to die like this, slowly, plenty of time to panic. Did Deku scrubs even die of starvation? Maybe he would be here forever, trapped inside this tiny wooden shell...
"Are you okay in there?" said Tatl's voice as an afterthought, muffled through the flora. "You sound like you need some help in there." Pause. "Do you?"
Link stopped in his thrashing. So she wasn't entirely insane. He squealed back as loudly as he could.
Tatl sighed dramatically. "It's not that hard. You told the flower to take you in by imagining it hard enough, right? So just imagine it spitting you out again and we should be on our way!"
He closed his eyes and tried to envision it like she described. In his mind he tried to conjure the sensation he'd had as he'd fallen in, trying to remember exactly what he had been doing with his body...
This time the response was much quicker. The flower rumbled and the branches which, moments ago, had been clasping him tightly, whipped him outside and sent him flying into the air. He didn't think about it – he just screamed, as he went sailing up for about ten metres, felt himself go weightlessness as his ascent came to a wor-ry-ing halt...
"Ouch..." said Tatl.
Screaming all the way, Link plummeted back into the ground, crashed onto the flower, bounced off, and rolled off to the side, whimpering in pain.
"You okay there?" said the faerie.
Link just groaned.
"Hey, could be worse," said Tatl. "If you were still in your human body, you'd probably be dead by now, ha!"
Crawling to his feet, Link shot her a glare. Psychopath.
Tatl settled over on the bridge of his nose. "Well, we'd better try again, huh?"
It took him a couple of seconds to register that she was being serious, and even then he just stared at her blankly. How was doing that again going to help them get over the gap?
Tatl groaned. "Look, just do what I say, okay? I know what I'm talking about!" He still wasn't moving, so she added, "If you grab some petals on the way out, you can slow your fall. I've seen Scrubs do it before to cross rivers. Trust me, it's safe."
Trust you?, thought Link. As if he had any choice...
Four misfires and two expletives later, and Link was becoming confident enough gliding in mid-air to chance the first gap. He launched out of the Deku flower, clutching tightly onto a couple of long-stemmed flowers, and leaned his weight forward. The flowers spun in his hands like propellers, whirring so fast that the air pressure kept him afloat, and he held on to them for dear life as he began to inch across the chasm. Steering himself to a floating stalactite which had another Deku flower on top, he floated over with room to spare as the flowers in his hands tore themselves to shreds. He dropped onto the ground, even managing to land on his feet. Giddy with adrenaline, he pumped his little wooden fists with a triumphant squeal.
"Hey, nice work, Deku boy!" said Tatl, who had landed ahead of him. "Now let's see you do that a second time."
Grinning, she pointed across the chasm to a distant burning torch. Link's heart sank; hundreds of floating rocks hovered eerily between them and the exit. This was going to take some time.
Finally, after an eternity and two extremely close calls, Link dropped neatly onto the last ledge, right where a single torch slowly burned. If it wasn't for the torch, he could have sworn they were standing where they'd started. The twisted vista of floating rock and trees looked exactly the same from this side; even the door now in front of him was identical.
"Don't worry, we're nearly out of here," said Tatl, not for the first time. "Can't you feel that? There's a breeze blowing through. We must be just beneath the surface. Come on, open the stupid door!"
Link skittered over to the door and gave it a good shove. It creaked slightly, something moving inside the walls, and then the enchantment weaved into the wood kicked in, the weight of the door rising above the ground seemingly of its own accord.
"Thank you," muttered Tatl, going through the door. She arched an eyebrow. "You coming or what?"
He followed her through, the door slamming shut the moment he had passed through it. His eyes took a moment to readjust.
They were somewhere entirely different.
Indoors, but a single shaft of sunlight pierced through from above. He stood on a grilled metal walkway, placed just centimetres above a running stream of water. Not much further on, the walkway turned into a stairway, which curved around the walls of the room, leading up and out of sight. The running water, now that he looked, was powering a gigantic waterwheel that creaked rustily as its tremendous weight spun around, water sloshing everywhere as it did. The waterwheel connected to a series of pistons which led straight up – again, out of view.
"Oh, wingshreds," said Tatl, staring up. From the tone of her voice, it didn't sound like good news.
Link scampered forward to where she was hovering and looked up – the staircase stretched up for about three storeys before the ceiling appeared. He couldn't see anything ominous, and it must have shown in his face, because Tatl sighed and snapped at him.
"No, not that, stupid. See that sunbeam? It's coming from the east."
East, thought Link. Which meant that the sun was in the east, which in turn meant-
"It's got to be, what, dawn right now?" muttered Tatl. "And it was the middle of the afternoon when we met. That's more than twelve hours. We must have lost so much time in the Underforest... grr... if you hadn't been so slow..."
Link ignored the accusation and started scaling the steps. His new body craved fresh air – something to do with being wooden? – and his already-dulled sense of danger had given in at the sight of a way out.
Tatl was still talking to herself. "So you didn't wait, huh, Skull Kid? You didn't wait. Ugh... next time I see you, I'm gonna give- woah, woah... hey, Deku boy! Where do you think you're going?"
He ignored her, scurrying up the steps, already more than halfway.
"I would so not do that if I were you," said Tatl, dashing forward in front on him.
He kept pressing forwards, reaching the top of the stairs and looking straight ahead to where a pair of wooden doors swayed tantalisingly before him. Tatl hovered before him, trying to block his way – a comically futile effort when one realised how tiny she was compared to him even in his new shape.
"Come on, there's no rush," said Tatl. "You're going to blind yourself, we've been underground for hours..."
It occurred to Link that she was right a split second after he pushed open the double doors. He winced at the bright light and stared straight into the nearest shadow, waiting for a few painful seconds as his pupils adjusted.
"Told you," said Tatl, squinting hard as she followed him out.
As his eyes adjusted, his other senses were already kicking in. The first thing he noticed was the sound of dozens of voices trailing around him, chatting idly. In the distance, dogs and cats yapped and yowled at one another. The faint scents of freshly-baked pastries and fresh fruits wafted past him, a kaleidoscope of smells to his hollow wooden nose.
Eyes now refocused, he began to take in his surroundings. They were standing in the middle of a town square, surrounded by people going about their daily hustle-bustle. Directly in front of them, carpenters ran back and forth, laying the wooden supports for some sort of tower. Around them, children darted around the feet of their unsuspecting parents, poking and prodding at animals; a postman jogged past frantically; a half-dozen soldiers pushed their way through a narrow opening; a shady kid with a cap over his eyes stalked a well-dressed woman.
It had been months since Link had last been in a big town. He'd almost forgotten how good it felt to be lost in a crowd.
"So," said Tatl, once again trying to perch on his nose. "This your first time in Termina?"
"Watch it!" said Tatl, losing her balance and fluttering a safe distance away. "Right, well... welcome to Termina. We're in the middle of Clock Town right now, so named because of the huge clock tower right behind you..."
Link turned around and tried to look up but, without a neck per se, could barely look higher than the door they'd just come out of. He stomped in frustration, trying to twist his head higher.
Tatl giggled. "You're cute when you're angry, you know that, Deku boy?" When he ignored her, she went on: "Give up. There's not much to see anyway, just a... clock. A big one. Now if you want to see some real action, you'll want to hang around for the Festival of Time. That's in a few days, I think. I remember last year..."
Link squeaked, getting her attention.
"Mmm?" said Tatl, her eyes a burly man running past with a long wooden beam.
How do I undo this curse?, Link wanted to ask. He motioned at his own face, shaking his arms a little.
Tatl looked as bewildered as he was. "Sorry, I have no idea what you're saying. Are you hot?" Link shook his head quickly, and then ran his hands across his body, looking at her pointedly. "No? Okay... you want to see a mirror? No... there something on my face? No... you're wondering about the curse?"
He nodded quickly.
She frowned. "I'm no expert... okay, I'll take a look. Let's get out of the shade." She darted forward, beckoning him over to where the construction workers were assembling their tower. He hurried after her, out of the shadows, feeling an alien satisfaction as the morning light received his bark skin.
Waving for him to stand still, Tatl hovered up close to his face. "Ookie... let's see..." She looked him over intently, circling around his face and prodding methodically. When that was done she buzzed around his outstretched arms, then behind him. As he stood there, waiting, people moved past, paying him no attention. Being ignored was nothing new to him – no matter who you were or where you came from, grown-ups never paid any attention to the little people. He sighed, bemused despite himself.
Tatl finished her examination and returned to the bridge of his nose, making him cross his eyes to see her.
"Sorry, not a clue," she said with a shrug. "Could be a magic mask or a hex or something... magic isn't really my speciality."
What is, then?, thought Link, tilting his head a little.
"Um... no idea what you're saying," she sighed. "Anyway, I think the Great Faerie of Clock Town might know what's wrong with you. We should go see her."
"Excuse me?" said somebody from behind him, tapping on his head. Link spun around to find himself looking at a Goron.
Now even compared to humans, Gorons are massive creatures. With their rock-hard skin and their perpetual frowns, one can't help but feel a little intimidated at the sight of one. For tiny Link, the sight was enough to force a knee-jerk reaction out of him. He squealed in fright and dashed backwards a few steps before Tatl brought him to his senses.
"You wimp!" she said, trying hard not to laugh. "What a little scaredy-cat! You..." She shook her head, covered her mouth and burst into snickers.
Link probably would have been blushing if he was still human. He craned his head, looking the Goron in the face.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you-goro," it said with an apologetic grimace and a gravelly accent. "It's just you didn't look busy so I thought I might ask you-goro... I just arrived here an hour ago and is there something wrong with the moon-goro?"
Link was still trying to work out what it had said, when Tatl gave a little gasp next to his ear. "Wingshreds." He gave her a look, and she whispered furiously, "Tell him we have no idea – oh, that's right, you can't talk..." She raised her voice, addressing the Goron. "Sorry, we don't know. Now, we're really busy, so scram!"
"Oh... I'm sorry-goro..." It ambled off, looking thoughtful.
Link gave Tatl a quizzical look. Want to tell me what's going on?
"Uh..." said Tatl. "Look up, straight up, and please don't panic on me."
He looked up (lying on his back to do so), bracing himself for the worst.
Right above them, floating above the great Clock Tower and staring straight down at him, was the ugliest, scariest face he'd ever seen. It had snarling teeth and bloodshot eyes that reminded him of his old foe Ganondorf, and was pockmarked with... craters? Link blinked a couple of times and realised that this was the moon, that the moon itself was giving him the death stare. He really was a long way from Hyrule...
"It's usually smiling..." said Tatl, sounding as unnerved as he felt. "This is really creeping me out..."
They stared, mesmerised...
The minute hand of the Clock Tower struck twelve and its bells began to ring. Each strike seemed to have a gravity of its own, leaving the buildings and the ground itself shuddering in its deafening wake.
As it rang for the ninth and last time, Link could have sworn he saw the face in the moon twitch. He blinked in surprise, and when he opened his eyes it seemed to have grown in size. Had the moon gotten... closer? He suddenly thought of an old tale he had heard years ago. In the story, the sky was falling and the Goddess of Power sent a mountain to hold it in place. Then creatures of evil tried to knock down the mountain, and... something. He'd forgotten how it ended. But this was no story, and the moon looked as if it could really fall. He felt a momentary shudder of claustrophobia and shook it off. He'd survived worse.
Tatl was restless; she was flying in circles around his head, muttering to herself. He didn't catch any words, but from her tone of voice she sounded very conflicted.
She growled. "Sorry, Deku kid, you and Skull Kid are gonna have to wait. Looks like we're taking a detour..."
A/N: Congratulations! You stuck through the story long enough to reach the author's note! (Or maybe you cheated and jumped to the end of the chapter.) By now you must probably wondering why on earth I'm doing a video game 'novelisation'. Don't those things usually fizzle out after the first few chapters? Here's hoping that this story is an exception to the rule...
The idea that inspired this story was: what if the events of Majora's Mask all occurred within a single timeline? If Link was unable to change the future? What would it be like running around Termina knowing that your past and future selves were also somewhere around you, working just as frantically as you? What if you knew someone would die, but were powerless to save them? Yep, time travel rocks. There will be five cycles (sets of three days) in this story: one dud one just like in the game, and one for each compass direction. That's a total of fifteen days spent trying to save the world; that's a long time to go without sleep. Also, as the darkest, creepiest (and possibly best) Zelda games, it would be sacrilege not to keep the atmosphere alive. As (hopefully) this first chapter hints, there's going to be a lot of dark stuff happening and a lot of twisted humour coming into play. Isn't Tatl such a cute little psycho?
As always, reviews make me feel warm and fuzzy inside:
- If you feel like offering criticism, I'd like to hear your thoughts on style, both in terms of atmosphere and readability. I'm hoping that this story survives to its conclusion, so I want to nip any pressing issues in the bud.
- If you're only reading this 'cause you have me on author alert, and you've never played Majora's Mask, good. Let me know if this makes sense or if I'm skipping over crucial details.
- If you are never going to read the rest of this story tell me why.
Enjoy, and try not to go mad.