Heya guys! Okay, people who know me well, I understand that I should be writing the next instalment for Once Upon a Fairytale, but... yeah, the juices aren't flowing. They have been flowing like crazy for this one, though. I haven't given up on OUaF, I'm just taking a wee break.
I'll get right to it, eventually, I promise.
For those who read the paragraph above but it made no sense, never fear, it has nothing to do with this story. XD
Edit: I'd like to credit the picture used to x0chu0x, who drew a spectacular Sheik based on this very story! Thank you for giving me permission to use it for this fic!
Hope you enjoy!
The dusty man that entered Kafei Dotour's office blinked at the mayor in surprise and a bit of horror. "Kafei? Is that you? What, I mean, Mister Dotour?"
"Good to see you too, Link."
The blond man sheepishly nodded at the greying mayor, in his embarrassment knocking his ridiculously large bag against the door frame numerous times in his effort to get in. The young man exuded neglect. His long sleeved green shirt was in need of being replaced; the trousers were patched, the boots scuffed. His hair needed cutting and stubble lined his rough jaw like a carpet.
By contrast, his equipment was in pristine condition. Masks of all shapes and sizes, gleaming with polish, clanked and cluttered on their frames as Link dumped his pack onto the floor, sitting on the chair that'd been readied for him.
The middle-aged Mayor, who was a tad rounder than Link remembered, looked from the visitor to the bag of masks, politely analysing his employee. "I thought you'd stayed within the fighting business."
Link snorted a little uneasily, looking down at his pack of masks as well. "I did, for a while. When the Mask's Salesman took Majora away… one thing led to another and… here I am. I'm surprisingly good at making this stuff."
"And that is?" Kafei asked, gesturing at the tattoo on Link's face, where thick black slashes lined his left eye like clawing spider's legs. It made his eye look dark, imbalanced with the other.
The Hylian smirked. "In honour of the Fierce Deity. And to give the occasional bandit a second thought."
"You certainly look terrifying."
"And you, look…" Link tried to find the right word that bothered him so much, but gave up on it and slapped his face, moaning. "What happened to you?"
The Mayor of Clocktown snorted and narrowed his eyes with some annoyance. "I grew old, my friend. Is that so wrong?"
"Well so did I," Link muttered grudgingly, leaning back into the chair again, "I mean, grow old. But when we met we looked the same. We were the same. I knew you would've grown back, but…"
The baggy and lined eyes of the mayor took an indulging and patient glint that Link knew all too well. "The flow of time is a cruel thing, my boy."
"Yes, I know," Link conceded, rubbing his face warily, "I hear that far too often from the Queen back at Hyrule. Heck, I should know it better than anybody else. But this is still unfair. You're balding for Nayru's sake."
"I'm thinning, thank you." Kafei corrected sternly, trying to look indignant and fierce. Link bit his lip and couldn't help smiling. "I may be old but that doesn't mean I still don't have some vestige of vanity. Gods. You should sharpen that blunt tongue of yours."
Link's grin grew wider. "My weapons do the cutting for me, Mr. Dotour. Now, what can I do for you?"
Kafei sighed, picking up a small pair of reading glasses to look through his neat stacks of paper before him. Link leaned forward on his arms in concern. Goddesses, the man's hands were shaking. What could possibly worry him, a man who was loved and honoured by the whole of Clocktown? Hell, under his father's and his own guidance the dark-haired man had turned the town into a prospering city. What was going on?
"I'd like you to look at these." Kafei handed Link a file of papers, some of which had the distinct touch and smell of age. He opened the file to find drawings of a child, and opened his mouth to ask a question. But looking at Kafei, he closed it and shuffled through the drawings.
The first few he skipped; the crayons and unskilled hands of a four year old made it impossible to tell what was there, and the extensive use of violent blacks and reds and purples worried him. There were a few pages of those, and then there was one where two figures stood together, a man and a woman and three floating heads, and lots of smiling faces. Then the crayon turned to charcoal, and there were blots of black and fuzzy white circles, and pictures he barely recognised as dragon flies. Years and years worth of pictures was stacked before him, and Link couldn't make sense of it; it was mostly all harmless.
Till he got to the back.
Link flipped a page and froze. An astonishingly good Dekubaba barred its teeth at him, a severed hand grotesquely protruding out of its bloodied chewing maw. A finger was flying in a vivid arch, blood following it like a flare.
The blond hissed. "Shit."
Kafei peered at the picture and grimaced. "She drew that about two years ago. A couple of days after she finished this, one of the rascals from the branch villages lost his arm."
Link shuddered. "Shit."
"Her first two drawings were done when she was three."
"...Well," Link managed after swallowing, "At least they were just colours."
"It was a very large picture, Link. She had to use lots of paper to finish it. You're welcome to my desk to assemble it."
The pages filled with streaks of crayons. Link picked out the nine pages and lined them three by three, picking this one up and replacing it with that one, using the still white places to identify the corners and edges.
Majora's Moon, haloed by what was obviously fire and char was depicted colliding with a stick that was most probably the Clock tower. There were no giants in sight.
Link could feel the blood draining from his face. "Shit."
"Thankfully for the second picture," Kafei sighed, "She drew Anju and I's wedding, with a green fairy throwing confetti over us and the guests. We didn't fully realise that Tingle of all people would be doing the honours, but…"
"What happened to that guy, anyway?" Link wondered aloud, staring at the terribly drawn future that didn't (but technically did on numerous occasions) happen.
"Still making maps, though he doesn't use his balloons anymore. He broke a leg when he fell from one of them."
Link wondered whether he had contributed to that, but didn't mention it. "So, has this… who draws these again? I don't think you told me."
"It's my sister."
The Hylian digested that for a bit, and repeated slowly, "Your sister."
"You have a sister."
"Yes. Well, half sister." Kafei's hands were no longer shaking, but still he looked stressed and worried, a deep sigh escaping him as he explained, "Aroma was my father's second wife. As I said, my sister was three when she drew the picture of the moon. I don't think she remembers the chaos, but she still has the gift that comes from their side of the family; I didn't fully believe that Aroma was a descendant of the Ikana Shamans till Sheik's gifts came to fruit."
Link's world gave an infinitesimal stop. He didn't hear the rest of Kafei's sentence; he forgot to breathe, his mind washed blank, and on that whiteness a single word was printed, blaring in his lurching heart.
The ex-hero desperately gripped the arms of his chair to anchor him to reality. "Sheik?"
"Oh, my mistake," Kafei muttered uneasily, rubbing his eyes, "It's technically a title. Sheik a nu Sheikah, it's Old Ikana for 'Eye of the Seers'. The most powerful of the Seers wore that title, but as there's only one of her now…" he finished with a shrug.
"What happened to her actual name?"
"It's Bell, but she forgets, or so she claims."
"Oh." Link suppressed his sigh of relief and slumped down in his chair. "Kafei, why am I here? Did... Bell draw something like the moon? Something worse?"
Kafei looked down, cleared his throat, and looked at Link imploringly with his dark brown eyes, and Link took some solace in that. His eyes were brown. Ordinary. And he was a dark-haired man too, there was no possible way that this Bell could look like…
"She hasn't drawn anything. Nothing. Not one. She usually draws one picture or another once a day, on scraps or walls or even on the pavement with a piece of chalk. But she hasn't drawn a thing and she's been having nightmares for weeks now, she looks so… so terrified."
Link's sense of horror just got worse. "So you're thinking it could be something so big that she needs time to draw the disaster?"
"I called for Princess Zelda to send somebody who'd be able to help her, and though you aren't my first choice, I'm glad you're here. I want you to watch over her. If she draws, and if it's something that can be fought, I'd like you to take care of it."
"Wouldn't it be best if I just deal with the problem after she's finished said drawing?" he tried to barter, hoping he didn't sound desperate. He didn't want to say that the he didn't want to meet Kafei's sister. How could he? His reasoning was idiotic at best, anyway, "If I'm near, she might not want to draw anything. I'll stay in the shadows, let her do her thing. She won't have to know I even exist."
Kafei shook his head gravely. "I'm worried she'll hurt herself. She's woken up screaming bloody murder numerous times already; what if she becomes so scared she hurts herself? No, I need you as her bodyguard."
There had to be a way of not seeing her. There had to be. "Well…"
A door opened with an innocent squeak, and a tired voice yawned, "Kafei?"
The world stopped again, and it grew cold, so cold that his fingers shook and his heart shuddered, and when he breathed again the air was like knives in his lungs. She wasn't supposed to exist. She wasn't supposed to be able to leave his dreams, and yet…
Link turned round in his chair to look at the teenage girl, who, if it weren't for the thick, white woollen shawl round her she would've looked indecent in that elegant, floor-length dark blue nightgown. Her hair was blonde, streaked with brunette, and her skin was like copper in complexion.
Half her face was lost in her long fringe. The one visible eye was red as a fresh cut rose.
He stared at her. She glanced at him. Then she looked at him, really looked, and gave a puzzled frown. "Hello."
Link swallowed dryly and managed, "Hi, Sheik."
She blinked and blushed. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"
"We were talking about you, actually." he suppressed the urge to chuckle hysterically; everything about her was the same, exactly the same as all those years ago. Her hair, her voice, that wonderful eye. So much for hoping Sheik was a common name in Termina.
He probably looked like he'd seen a ghost…
"Link," Kafei sighed, "That is what you call the epitome of tactless."
"It's fine, Kafei," she shrugged, picking at her eye nervously, "As long as, you know, you weren't saying anything embarrassing…"
"Does your gift at seeing the future count?"
She stopped. Then gave a weary sigh and rubbed her face with both her hands. "I… ugh, if it's about my Sight, I'd like to be part of this conversation. Please. Can I…? I'll be back in five minutes, no make that ten, I need to get changed. I'll um… be back. Sorry for the inconvenience, Mister…?"
"Link. Just Link's fine."
"Oh." She squinted, and as she shrugged again Link could see the tired bag under her eye. "Alright," she finished as a farewell, leaving through the door she'd hardly walked through.
Kafei looked at the swordsman turned salesman and frowned. "You look like you just witnessed a ghost. And how did you know that was Sheik?"
"She looked tired," Link lied, completely avoiding the first question, "Like she just got out of bed without much sleep. And, well, she looked like she knew what we were talking about anyway."
"That doesn't explain why you looked so terrified."
"Sorry," he muttered, lying again, "Red eyes. Seen them a lot combined with teeth and claws going for my face."
There was an awkward silence as both men felt guilty for completely different reasons.
"She didn't always look like that." Kafei stood from his desk and gestured for Link to follow. "Her hair she inherited from her grandmother, but her eyes were just like mother's. Apparently Sheikah gain red eyes as their Sight gets better and better."
Link thought of Impa as he shouldered his ridiculously large bag of masks and supplies. "Is that why you asked Zelda for help? Because her nursemaid was Sheikah too?"
The mayor gave a so-and-so hand gesture. "Partially. By the time I'd asked her, I'd already spoken to as many people that had an inkling of knowledge about the Sheikah as I can find, including the Gerudo matriarch, though that is a diplomatic chaos I never want to venture into again."
Together they left the Mayoral Office, letting their business subject go and talking about how life had treated them over the years. Kafei and Anju were still happily married, with one elder son and two younger daughters. Anju's Grandmother had passed away a few years after the Moon incident, and the Stockpot Inn was still going strong. In fact it had grown bigger; now it was a three story house where not even a Deku Scrub can sneak in, unless a window was open by chance.
For Link things had been a little less simple. He'd tracked down the Mask Salesman, followed him, was apprenticed under him, and found that he had the knack of making Masks with properties like those he'd gained in the Three Day quest. Once he'd successfully buried Majora's Mask under a bog in the Lost Woods, Link had searched for others like it, and had enough cursed weapons in his backpack to kill off armies.
"What are you going to do with them, if you don't mind my asking?"
"World domination crossed my mind a few times," Link admitted with a sly grin, "But I'll settle with dismantling them and scattering the pieces. For the useless ones anyway."
"What? A sword that throws fire is stupid. A stick that can summons bricks, now that is useful."
Link was shown to his room at the Inn, where Anju greeted him with a large hug and a promise of a hearty meal. Link excused himself for the moment however, making excuses about getting changed and taking a bath. Anju led him to his room, and after safely making sure she was gone, he locked himself into his room and immediately started throwing things out of his bag to search for one particular mask.
He found it. It was a simple and slightly useless one, with closed eyelids drawn where there should've been eyeholes, instead there being a large vertical oval hole for the mouth, as if it was yawning or singing.
But when Link put it on the painted eyelids opened and lines burst out like cracks from a volcanic eruption, turning it into an agonised, screaming face.
Gritting his teeth at the feel of his face being burnt by acid, and the feel of his mouth being splintered like dried wood, Link swallowed his scream and opened wooden eyes on the walls of Zelda's study. He swivelled his eyeballs. No Zelda, but there was a servant.
The page jumped and spun, frantically looking around like a boy caught in doing something that he shouldn't be. Link snapped with pained patience, "Over here, dunce!"
The boy looked at the nondescript mask on the wall that blinked and scowled at him, and he froze in fear. "Uh, I um,"
"This is urgent business, so listen closely." The mask on the wall ordered imperiously, sprouting hair and blooming colour, looking more like a proper face as each second ticked by, "Get Princess Zelda. I repeat, Get Princess Zelda. Tell Her Link Is Here. Link Is Waiting At The Study. Got it?"
"U-um, but I um-"
"Well, yes, but, um,"
"For Furore's sake get going!" Link finally yelled, and the pageboy fled like a rabbit.
Link paced in his room in Termina as his face stayed immobile on Zelda's wall in Hyrule. He'd made this Mask using the broken remains of a cursed crystal ball, so Zelda could call him when she needed something, but he'd purposely made it painful to wear so she'd call him only when she was desperate. He'd never had thought he'd use it himself, and by Din wearing it hurt. Thankfully the pain was limited to the process of putting it on, not in its using or taking it off.
Still. It felt weird that he couldn't feel his face when he touched it back in Termina.
The door opened and closed, and Zelda entered her study graciously. The room was right behind the Throne Room. If she ever had a private diplomatic audience, the study was where she addressed them, sitting still on the seat of power but in a less grandeur décor.
"Hello, Link. Are you alright?"
"Would I be if I was using this?" Link snapped irritably, making the Princess sigh.
"I don't know why you're so angry with me, but you shouldn't have taken it out on the boy. You scared the Magician's apprentice quite terribly."
The Princess was now twenty six in age, beautiful and wise as ever, and had Princes from all over the land falling over themselves to win her hand, heart and mind. They were so far unsuccessful.
Link didn't bother shrugging because he had no shoulders to shrug on the wall. "His fault for being in here."
"He was doing an errand for me."
Link rolled his eyes. "So kind of him. I need to talk to you about Sheik. Now."
The Princess blinked at the sudden demand. There was a certain hostility there that Link had never shown before, like a wild animal that'd just been caught and caged. She warily approached his face, speaking inquiringly, "Why? I've explained to you already, haven't I? On numerous occasions, at your request."
"Explain again. And I want the whole picture. In crystal clarity. You've always been vague."
Zelda pursed her lips as she sat down on her lesser throne and took off her gloves, setting the elbow-length garments neatly on the arms of the glorified chair as she spoke. "When Impa and I escaped, she took me to her hometown, Termina."
"Which is where you sent me. I've arrived, by the way."
"Did you have a safe journey?"
"It was fine. You arrived in Termina, what next?"
"Ganondorf followed us, naturally, but he couldn't find us; there were too many places to hide and Impa had the home advantage. He couldn't storm the country either, so he left. So did we, after a month. We would have stayed, if it weren't for the Moon. I hadn't told you this, but it was-"
"Yes, I know," Link interrupted impatiently, "Majora was about to make it crash into the middle of town. But I took care of... Oh crap," the mask on the wall screwed its face shut. Back in Termina Link slapped his hand against his forehead. "I wasn't there to stop it. It hit the town in the Lost Years."
Zelda didn't ask what he meant by Majora. He didn't like talking about his exploits; she was the decent few that didn't pry. "We didn't know when the Moon would fall, and we didn't want to leave till the last minute, in case Ganondorf had set it up to trap us. The only reason Impa and I were able to escape was because of a dream I had the night we escaped. It told us to go to the Apothecary, pretending to be an apprentice or relative of some man named Dampe. I did as followed, and it turned out the dream was sent to me by a three-year-old."
"That was the soul you mentioned." Link clarified, carrying on as Zelda nodded, "The soul you said was bound to you, the Sheikah soul that helped you disguise yourself. You said it died."
"I said dying." Zelda corrected primly. "She was attacked by a creature that called itself Skulkid. She said she'd seen the future. She said that she could help me, and I her. I hardly knew what was going on, she grabbed me with her small hands and… her eyes were such a brilliant red for the smallest instant…"
A tear rolled down her face, and Zelda hastily wiped it away. "I'll never forget, but I don't like to remember. I thought I was going insane. Her voice in my head, the sudden visions of things that weren't there. I blacked out for days while the girl took over my body. We fought over the flesh we shared, and sometimes I couldn't remember who was the parasite, which of us was the host. Her powers mixed with mine so much that I gained the Sheikah sight. Not as powerful as hers was when she was in control, but still."
"So when you changed, right in front of me, before I faced Ganondorf. There were two souls in you, but then there wasn't. What happened to Sheik? Did she live after that?"
"She was on borrowed time. Her body had perished with Termina. In the few months before you woke she was already flickering out of existence... Why do you ask?"
Link swallowed. He sat down on his bed and leaned against his knees with his elbows. Even on the rigid mask, his pain was clear. "Sheik's here. She's alive."
Zelda walked over to his face and gently held his cheek. "Isn't that good?"
"I don't know!" he snapped, screwing his face up with his frustration. "I don't know, alright! She's, goddamnit she's alive! I should be happy but it scares me Zelda, because this changes everything. What if she's different? What if she's so different that... I loved her, Zelda, I loved everything that was her, from the war. There is no war now, there's only been peace, but now she's changed, and there's nothing I can do! I... want to keep her the way I remember her..."
Zelda removed the mask from the wall and lightly pressed a kiss against his forehead. "The Sheik in your heart will always remain there, Link. She won't change. This new Sheik you'll learn to know, she'll only add another face to the girl you knew. The girl you loved. And you might come to love her again, if you give yourself the chance."
Link didn't meet her gaze, unsure and nervous. He then sighed in acceptance, looked at Zelda, and frowned. "I thought I told you to put this someplace secure. It might get stolen."
Zelda laughed. "This old thing? Don't worry, it's fairly ugly when it's not being used."
So... what'd you think?