Disclaimer: I do not own The Legend of Zelda or any related characters.
It was nearing twelve thirty. The red numbers of the digital clock smirked down at the students sadistically, taunting them with the near silence of the room, save the occasional sniffles and coughs and the scratching of pen on paper. It was a quiz on the Hyrule Civil War that supposedly united the Hylians, Gorons, Zora, and Gerudo under one banner. Most students were putting down dates and places and the names of Goroni and Zoran warriors and leaders, believing them to be facts, and that magic and strange creatures and the sacred Golden Triangles existed at one point in history.
One student thought they were all on crack.
Mahas Glaradith- or Link, to his friends- was not one to believe in that sort of superstitious old-world shit. He preferred the here, the now, and the Time Goddess worshiped over in Termina. Not to say he wouldn't volunteer at the Temple of Time every other Saturday. He felt a sort of obligation to do so, truth be told, what with them taking care of him after his mother died during childbirth until his guardian, Viscen, adopted him.
It wasn't that he resented the history, of course. He loved the idea of it. He enjoyed researching Hylian history, especially when he found that his name was the Old Hylian equivalent of "Link", the name given to the Hero of Time in many stories. There were quite a few "Link"s all over Hyrule; parents seemed to believe that naming their children after the Hero of Legends would grant them obscene amounts of courage. Mahas was the only one he knew of that was named for the hero in the old, archaic language.
This was where the problems started. Once a Hylian hit high school, they stopped calling the hero "Link" and started calling him "Mahas" in the books; students learned some basic words from archaic Hylian and that every reincarnation of the hero was named "Mahas". And, well, Link, his name being what it was, was believed by many of his classmates to be descended from the Hero's family. He, of all people, should believe in Hyrule's lore, shouldn't he? That the Sacred Realm was real, that the Twilight Realm had once merged with the light world, that undead lived in the old, collapsed Temple in Karkariko? But he didn't. Volvagia? Dragons were completely illogical, they wouldn't have enough to eat in Hyrule. Bongo Bongo? What sort of lame name for a monster was that? A cursed mask that had the power to destroy the world? As if. Songs that could control time, the weather, summon horses, create magic... completely impossible. And the Gerudo race giving birth to men only once every hundred years? Complete bullshit. The Gerudo race may not have been as prominent as the Hylian race, but they lived in harsh desert environments. The entire idea behind the whole hundred-year-man thing was completely false, sparked by the Gerudo trend of finding boyfriends in Castle Town. And there was a good reason behind that trend, too, something to do with making sure their children were immune to certain diseases or whatever. This was a fact Mahas had always believed in, especially once Gary confirmed it for him.
Gary Dragmire was a Gerudo, himself. He hailed from deep within the desert, and sported the tan skin, golden eyes, and bright red hair typical of his race, though some people found his nose a little large and pointy. He was tall and lanky, and generally wore tight black clothing, often citing that he would never have been able to get away with wearing black in the desert without suffering a heatstroke. His mother had come to Castle City looking for work and had apparently found a good job with an archeology team at the university. Gary stayed in the city for schooling, while she was often out on digs and helping the excavation teams sift through ruins- apparently, being a Gerudo treasure hunter had its perks.
Being a Gerudo, Gary had a lot of flak to put up with. Many of their fellow students still believed in the whole "one man every lifetime" thing, and thought him to be a reincarnation of Ganondorf, which Link just found ridiculous. Just because someone was a Gerudo didn't make them evil, for example, the Spirit Sage, who was often considered to be a Gerudo woman. Their classmates often rebutted this fact with the idea that Gerudo women adhered to strict honor codes, and Gerudo men were just assholes. Gary was made a social outcast just as Link was- perhaps this was why they were such good friends, though the look on some of their peers' faces when they were seen hanging out together were hilarious enough to make the friendship worth it either way.
Link shook his head and ran his hand through his fine hair. He needed to focus. Tapping his pencil on the desk he read the next question.
The Battle of the Haunted Wastelands took place between which two other skirmishes?
The young man gnawed on his pen- was it Lake Hylia and Karkariko? But which came first? Karkariko, right? Hesitantly, Link lowered the tip of his ballpoint to fill in his answers, when all of a sudden he felt something hit the back of his head. Swearing under his breath he turned to find Gary eying him expectantly from the other side of the room. The Gerudo jerked his head towards the underside of Link's seat, and the Hylian frowned and looked down. An eraser was lying comfortably next to the leg of his desk, and he sighed and leaned down to pick it up.
It was called Death Mountain for a reason, Glaradith.
Link sneered back over at Gary when the teacher wasn't looking and tossed it back, aiming to nail the tanned youth square in the face. Gary, however, was prepared and caught the pink rubber easily, waggling his eyebrows. Link flipped him off. Gary grinned. Turning back to his test, Link grabbed his ballpoint once more and wrote in his answer- Hylia before Karkariko. Karkariko, of course, was the last battle of the war. He'd have to thank Gary for saving his skin, later.
At approximately twelve twenty-three, the bell rang, and the students groaned as they handed in their quizzes and headed off to lunch. Link finished packing his pens into his bag and slung it over his shoulder as he waited for Gary to scribble a few hasty last answers and turn his quiz in.
"That was horrible," the blue-eyed youth sighed. "Seriously, who CARES about the Zoran alliances? They never freaking existed! I mean, come on, man, they were supposed to be freaking fish-people! The chances of that actually happening are astronomically slim!" Gary snickered.
"Well, if they did exist, they obviously weren't fit for survival like we were," he replied jestingly. "Gerudo are too bad-ass to go extinct- and let's face it, you Hylians breed like rabbits."
"Hey, man, there wouldn't have been a civil war in the first place if you glorified thieves had just sit down, shut up, and listened to the king," Link replied.
"You know what they say- we gotta fight! For our right! To paaaaaaaar-TAY!" The boys snickered as they took their usual lunch table underneath the clock. Gary had brought a lunch from home- some Gerudo delicacy that smelled horrible but was apparently very tasty. Link took a quick detour through the lunch line to get some synthesized food and frozen milk from the school system. Go school lunches. Rahh.
"So," he said once he'd sat down next to his friend, "you going on the field trip to the Spirit Temple?" Gary shrugged one shoulder non-comittedly.
"Eh," he replied. "I've been there a lot before on pilgrimages. You're not allowed to go very deep in, it's just like the first couple rooms and that's it. It's really nothing to be excited about. You?"
"I'm hoping to." Link grinned broadly. "I've always wanted to go out to the desert, since you've told me what it was like out there. I kind of want to try my hand at those Gerudo Training Grounds you keep talking about." Gary laughed.
"Link, they're not gonna let a skinny-ass knife-ears like you into the Fortress," he said. "It's for Gerudo warriors only. Besides, you don't even have a weapon."
"So? Even if I can't, I'm gonna try and get a sword at the festival this year, so I can do it next year," the Hylian replied. "One of the really nice swords, too. I've been saving up, you know."
"Oh, come on, no one can ever make enough for a sword selling masks," Gary scoffed, rolling his eyes.
"Hey, Sato pays well as long as I get him the rupees!" Link protested. "And I even get insurance from him! Seriously- health insurance from a guy who runs a freaking mask shop!" Gary shook his head and went back to his smelly Gerudo food. They continued to bicker about Sato's mask shop, and the conversation eventually carried over to the masks he sold, the creepiness of the Mask of Truth, the continued popularity of Keaton, and the upcoming festival.
"Soooooo, you gonna compete for the title of Hero, this year?" Gary asked. Link shrugged.
"Maybe. I mean, you win and get a shield out of it and a discount everywhere for the year, right?" He took a sip of his frozen milk and shuddered. Gary grinned broadly.
"And don't forget the kiss~!" he added in sing-song. Link frowned. "Oh, come on, I know how much you want that kiss from Zelda. The last time you saw her was during winter break, riiiiiight?"
"Oh, come off it, Gary!" Link snapped. "Zelda and I aren't dating!"
"Why not?" Gary pouted. "You'd make such a damn cute couple."
"You know, asshole, sometimes I just want to punch you in the face."
"She still has your hat, right?"
"What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
"Ahh, I knew it, I knew it! You left it with her on purpose, didn't you? That way she'd have to come find you eventually, as good of friends as you two are."
"What I want to know is why you don't like to hang out with her." Gary grimaced at that.
"It's not that I don't like hanging out with her," he replied, "it's just the fact that she's a Hylian princess. My mom really wouldn't approve. You know how Gerudo are about Hylians."
"Geez, you dress like a punk, act like a bastard-"
"I am a bastard, thank you very much."
"-and you're scared of what Mommy'll think!" Link rolled his eyes.
"Hey, look at you," Gary sniffed. "You're worried about the field trip 'cause Viscen thinks the temple'll turn you evil! That's why he won't let you go to the Water Temple, either, right? 'Cause he's scared of the doppleganger that's supposed to live there?"
"That's completely different, and you know it, ass."
"No it ain't, elf-boy." Gary brushed his hair over his shoulder and packed his lunch box back up. "Look, just let him know that I'll be there to look after you, 'kay? I know the Temple better than any of you knife-ears." Link sighed.
"Yeah, like that's gonna reassure him," he replied. "He loves you to pieces, dude, but he still thinks you're irresponsible as hell."
"One time!" Gary protested. "One time we got caught sneaking into Zelda's garden! Is that really all it takes to be considered irresponsible?"
"And the time you got caught shop-lifting in the bazaar."
"Okay, no, I wasn't shop-lifting, I told you, the guy was a scammer, he took my money!"
"The time you got caught cheating at the treasure chest game."
"They never said you couldn't pick the locks!"
"The time you almost got us beat up at that bar and then we got arrested for having fake I.D.s?" Gary paused to think on that one for a second.
"Yeah, I got nothing on that one. But how was I supposed to know that those guys all had switchblades?" Link shook his head; Gary crossed his arms and pouted.
Despite his tendency to live life on the less-than-legal side, Gary truly was a good friend- while Viscen and Link liked to tease the young Gerudo of his various run-ins with the law and other mishaps, Gary took it in stride and remained fiercely loyal as a friend. He backed Link up against their less-than-friendly classmates and often helped him and Zelda sneak off to spend time together out of the public eye before disappearing. He never did tend to stay long around Zelda, and that confused Link from time to time. Gary's constant "Gerudo hate Hylians and royalty and hate them even more together" speech, while theoretically sound to Link, seemed to be more of an excuse than anything, primarily because when it came to that sort of xenophobia and royalty-o-phobia (Link made a mental note to search for the correct term on the Internet when he got home), Gary usually didn't give any form of shit that he felt like using in a sentence when asked about it. Link spent a little bit of time theorizing what his real reason was every now and then and came up with every possible answer from Gary being shy or having a crush on Zelda himself but feeling as though he didn't have a chance compared to Link, to Gary being the reincarnation of Ganondorf, King of Evil, or gay and not wanting to be jealous over Link being straight. He still hadn't arrived at a definite answer, but Gary being a gay reincarnation of the King of Evil was actually at the bottom of the list. The very, very bottom, right under "actually Tingle from the Termina lore in disguise".
Gary checked his watch. "Oh, lunch period's almost over. I can't be late to homeroom, again, my teacher will kill me." Link grabbed Gary's wrist to check his watch, as well.
"Aw, bummer. Well, I'd say let's hang out after school, but I have work, today." The green-wearing Hylian reached up to high-five the Gerudo, and with an exchange of smiles, the two went their separate ways for the day. School passed by slowly after lunch, for Gary was in none of Link's afternoon classes, and that rendered them, sadly, boring. Especially trig. Trig could be sent to the realm of darkness, for all Link cared. He had two more tests that day, one in the thrice-damned trig, and one in the much more forgiving critical thinking, the former of which Link wanted to burn and the latter of which he was worried he may have slipped up on a question and gotten a mere ninety-eight percent.
When school ended, he caught Gary by his locker long enough to big the Gerudo goodbye, then went to his own locker to exchange a few of his books out and grab his skateboard. Once he'd made the mistake of leaving a skateboard in the front office with the other kids'; he'd returned at the end of the day to find it gone, only to be led outside by a grim-looking Gary who pointed to a broken, shattered pile of wood and wheels with a note on top condemning Link to be a Gerudo-lover. To be fair, he did love the Gerudo (every tale Gary told him of the compound in the desert absolutely thrilled him), but the fact that his classmates were so damn racist pissed him off. He was very close to punching the next kid who threw slurs around at he or Gary in the face. Hard.
The streets of Hyrule Castle town were always crowded around the time school let out, but Link expertly maneuvered around the pedestrians as he sped down the sidewalk. Sato's shop was in the center of the bazaar, small and ancient, and shaped like a mask, itself. His house was attached to the back of the shop, which must have been terribly expensive, and Link had no idea how the ginger Hylian could afford it, but then again, it wasn't any of his business. The lights were on, and a young couple were leaving just as Link approached and hopped off his skateboard, which was overall a good sign. Usually the shop only got a little business- for parties and weddings and tourists and the like. But festivals, such as the upcoming Festival of Time, saw an immediate spike in the number of sales- who would want a cheap, flimsy plastic mask from the department store when you could get one of Sato's quality hand-crafted works of art for such an important occasion?
The bell at the top of the door chimed as Link entered, and Sato glanced up from the cash register. He smiled when he saw who it was.
"Well, well, is it your day to work, already?" Link laughed.
"Sato, I'm the only employee you have. You know my schedule," he replied. Sato chuckled, as well, and shut the register.
"Of course I do, Link, of course I do," he said. "Why don't you put your board in the back and dust the masks on the floor, eh? Today's been a little slow for this time of year, and they sure could use it."
"Aye-aye, captain!" With a sloppy salute, Link vaulted himself over the counter, placed his skateboard in the back room, grabbed the duster, a bottle of Windex, and a 300 thread-count cloth they used to wash the masks before vaulting himself back over to begin his task. Sato was as laid-back as an employer could get. There wasn't a dress code, or anything- Sato himself wore a simple pair of slacks, sandals, and some t-shirt or another depicting various Sage Medallion or Goddess symbols. Today's, in fact, was a light blue with a darker blue symbol of Nayru on it. It offset Sato's red hair, but his narrow eyes and constant smile seemed to ease the contrast, somehow.
Often, as Link cared for the masks or worked the register, Sato would sit at his little work desk off to the side and create masks. Some days he carved from wood, others from stone, and occasionally he molded them with clay. It was a mesmerizing show for any of the customers who came in, and it was so second-nature to the mask salesman that he could craft them even when Link needed clarification on a customer's question and still answer thoughtfully.
"So," Sato said conversationally as he sat down to continue carving a Deku Scrub mask, "I see you're not wearing your hat." Link paused and glanced over his shoulder.
"Uhm... yeah," he replied awkwardly. "I forgot it in Zelda's garden the other day, when I went to visit."
"Must be nice to have a father who works at the castle," came the ginger prod. "You must get to see the princess very often. I bet the two of you are very close, eh?" Link felt himself blush a little. Sato always seemed to know everything, even when he was just teasing, and he had this peculiar way of prodding the truth out of you whilst making you feel so Goddess-damned embarrassed, just by acting so damned innocent about the whole thing. Of course, after working at the mask shop for so long, Link had learned exactly how to play his games.
"I guess we are," he said after another pause. "I mean, we get to hang out a lot, and it's not like she gets to spend time with many people her age. The King keeps her cooped up in the castle, he hires tutors and everything."
"Mmm." There was a long silence, and Link nearly thought Sato was done with the game until he spoke again. "What about your Gerudo friend, then? I don't suppose he likes to spend time with the princess, either?"
"Nah, he isn't too keen on it," Link sighed. "I dunno why. He has it out for Hylian royals, I guess?" As he moved onto the next mask, he cast a glanced at Sato to find him stopped, staring at the unfinished mask with dark, deeply thinking eyes. As if sensing Link's eyes on him, however, he glanced back as well, and smiled once more.
"Can you do me a favor and go ask Mia if she's seen my lacquer?" he asked. "I think right about now it's time for Najami to eat, so she may be in the kitchen with him."
"Alright." Link vaulted over the counter again and ventured back into Sato's house. He'd been inside a handful of times before, as Sato and his wife Mia lovede inviting him over for dinner, not only because he worked hard for them, but also, apparently, because he was very good with their baby son. True to Sato's suspicions, Mia was busy feeding Najami what seemed to be mashed bananas in the kitchen. "Hi, Ms. Mia!" he greeted as he approached. Mia glanced over from Najami and smiled.
"Hello, Link," she replied, "what do you need? Did Sato send you in?" Link nodded.
"He wanted his lacquer, I think. If you know where it is, I can go get it."
"Nonsense!" Mia's smile grew slightly. "Wait right here, I'll be right back." As she left for one of Sato's many stashes of materials, Link turned to baby Najami and smiled as he picked up the fun-colored plastic spoon in lieu of the boy's mother.
"C'mon, Najami, open wide," he cooed, "let's see if we can get a bit more into you before your mama gets back, huh?" Najami gurgled at him and tried to reach for the spoon. "Here comes the keese! Is the cave there? Kee, kee!" As Najami laughed at the ridiculous way Link was speaking, the Hero of Babysitting slipped the mashed banana spoon into his mouth, which said baby happily ingested. "Yeah, there we go."
"We'll make a proper father out of you, yet, Mahas," Mia laughed as she came back in. "Here's the lacqeur. Tell Sato not to stay in the shop too late, tonight, alright?"
"Will do, Ms. Mia. Thanks!" With an enthusiastic wave to Najami, Link returned back to the shop, and placed the lacquer on Sato's desk.
"Thank you, Link," the mask salesman replied. "Now try this on and tell me if the eye holes are alright." Link obediently took the mask and put it on, blinking for a moment to get used to the limited vision it allowed.
"They seem about right. The left one is a little bit smaller than the right one, but it doesn't make enough of a difference to be an issue." He grinned and handed the mask back to Sato. "Another keeper, Sato. You're amazing." The salesman laughed as he began to paint the lacquer onto the mask.
"I'm alright," he replied modestly. "Some of these masks I'm not entirely capable of making, not well. I'm going out to the desert next week to search for some new ones."
"Oh, really?" Link returned to cleaning the masks on display. "My class is going out on a field trip to the Spirit Temple, then. Maybe we'll run into each other!" Sato didn't reply- doing the finish was a delicate work, possibly even moreso than the initial carving of the mask, and so Link decided to leave Sato alone, though he could have sworn he heard the mask salesman mutter "Oh, we'll be seeing each other... we'll be seeing each other, indeed..."
There were several more customers before closing time, and as Sato was busy finishing the deku mask, Link assisted all of them and subsequently got several more sales before he had to lock up. The return home was uneventful as always, and when the lights were off and Viscen hadn't yet returned, Link wasn't entirely surprised. He dropped his keys in the bowl by the door and went to drop his backpack and skateboard on his bed before going to raid the fridge. It was virtually empty, which was in no way a surprise, either, and he settled for a bottle of Lon Lon chocolate milk and the last piece of cake from Najami's birthday that Mia had sent home with him, flopped down with it on the couch, and turned on the TV to watch the news. There wasn't much- a couple more disappearances out in the Lost Woods, the upcoming festival, and the dropping water level of Lake Hylia. The drought needed to end soon, seriously.
It was nearing midnight when Viscen finally returned, and by then Link was half-asleep as the TV aired some sitcom or another that neither of them watched. He would have fallen asleep there, too, if Viscen hadn't gently shook him back to complete consciousness.
"Mahas, what are you still doing up?" Viscen was tall, lean, and wirey- not what one would expect for the captain of the King's guard and army, though his tactical brilliance and devotion more than made up for it. Link had always admired him for that. "I know tomorrow's the weekend, but you really should be in bed, now."
"Sorry," Link yawned. "I didn't think you'd be out this late. I was just hoping to talk to you before I went to sleep."
"Oh?" Viscen settled down on the couch next to him. "About what?" Link shrugged one shoulder non-commitedly.
"I dunno, just the field trip, I guess," he murmured. Viscen sighed.
"Mahas... I know you don't think it's fair, but the Spirit Temple can be very dangerous," he replied. "You're the adventurous sort- you'd run off and get yourself hurt."
"Well then why can't I take a sword?" The green punk frowned. "You're worried about the monsters that are supposed to live in there, right?"
"Not just the monsters, Mahas, the traps. And I know you don't believe in the monsters, but you do believe in traps, and there are probably plenty of those still active inside."
"And the sword?"
"Not until you're seventeen, Mahas."
"A dagger, then- even ten-year-olds are allowed to have daggers." Viscen sighed heavily. "Sato said he was going there the same time my class was." The soldier raised an eyebrow and stared Link down; the blond youth replied with an unwavering blue stare of his own. Finally, the soldier gave another sigh, and shrugged.
"You're not going to let this go, are you?" When Link affirmed his suspicions, he grabbed the permission form that had been laying on their coffee table for the past week, signed it, and stood to fax it. "But you have to stick with Gary the entire time, alright?"
"Now go to bed."
"Yes, Dad. Goodnight." Not wanting to press his luck, Link did as instructed, and trudged back through the flat to his bedroom. He cast a glance at himself in the mirror before he changed- he supposed he did wear a little too much green for being named "Mahas". Maybe that's why his peers gave him a hard time. A bright green jacket and striped green-and-white shirt and his slightly ragged, torn dark green pants? Yeah. A little too much. But it was his favorite color, so it wasn't like he was gonna stop wearing it any time soon. He undid the tie of his small ponytail (he really was used to wearing his green knit cap- it had been weird for everyone to see how long his hair actually was) and changed into his pajamas before turning off the lights and slipping into bed. If he had bothered to look at the mirror again after the lights went out, he would have been shocked to see his own dark silhouette staring out at him with demonic, glowing red eyes.
So, yeah. Zelda 2012 beginning. Yippee. I feel like it was kind of rushed, but, meh, everything got done that needed to be done. I just finished mapping out the basic plot last night and actually mapping out Hyrule and Termina so I can keep everything straight. Next time: field trip to the desert! Reviews and criticism are always welcome!