Dressed in rags, a young man winces in his sleep, a sharp pain stabbing his core. He groans, rolling over on his side. His eyes open slowly, a faint trickle of water dripping on his chiseled features. Years of living on the streets have taught him various life skills necessary for survival. It's a lonely world, the street. On occasion, a good samaritan will give him a bit of food, but more often than not, he is forced to more amoral methods of obtaining life's currency.
The man stands, arching his back, the droplets of water still falling from the ceiling. He reaches up towards the leaking panel, pulling it back enough to increase the flow of water. Stepping under the makeshift shower, he cleans the grime from his golden brown hair before pushing the panel back, returning the water flow back to the mere trickle. He glances around the room for his hat, scanning dusty furniture and broken glass for it. At last, his gaze falls upon it. Swooping down as a Takkuri swoops down on its unsuspecting prey, he places the hat on his head. He walks over to the puddle, staring at his reflection. Striking blue eyes gaze back at him, wise beyond the owner's years. It is a hallowing look, one not suited for a person as young as he.
The young man shakes his head slowly, solemnly. His stomach growls its discomfort, sending his gaze to the rotted planks he calls a door. The aroma of freshly baked bread mingles with the thick layer of fog, a musty scent. The normally rank scent pleases the man, for to one who starves, the slightest amount of food is priceless. Another waft of it sends his stomach into roars of agony, pleas for the satisfaction of its plight. Unable to withstand such pressure, he stands and starts toward the door.
The alleyway is dark as he stares it down, the buildings' heights hiding dawn's light. Quietly, the young man walks down the cobble path, sidling the walls whenever a person draws near. As he continues in this manner, he starts hearing voices coming from the direction of the bread. Ignoring them as he steps into the market district, he crouches, his target in sight. A steaming loaf of freshly baked bread, sitting in the windowsill ripe for the taking. Glancing about cautiously, the man lunges at his mark, his stomach rejoicing at the success of the endeavor. Bread in hand, he wanders to a set of stone steps at the northern end of the market district.
As he enjoys the crispness of the bread, he allows himself to listen to the commotion he ignored before. He turns his head to the side so as to hear the conversation clearer.
"This town will not be destroyed!" A deep voice roars arrogantly over the masses, "Go back to your lives."
"But Mr. Mayor!" A masculine voice filled with wisdom cries, "A meteor is hurtling towards the town! It will kill us all!"
"Nonsense," the first voice bellows, the throaty chuckle merging with the cackles of the crowd, "the town is safe!"
"I beg of you, do not take a chance with the lives of the townsfolk! Even if you correct, which I am absolutely certain you are not, then only your time will have been wasted," the second voice pleads.
The young man, finished with his bread, turns his gaze to the speakers. A circle of large, drunken men surround two others. The first is a large, bulky man with muscles bulging through his shirt. His beady black eyes glare out from under large bushy eyebrows at a second, scrawnier man. This second man cowers before the first, his knees knocking with nervousness. He holds a small stack of books under his arm and uses his free hand to push his large, round glasses further up the bridge of his nose. The young man stands before turning to the building. He climbs the stairs, scaling the side of the building with ease, using windowsills and gutter pipes as his footholds. At the top, he sits down on the shingles, looking down at the crowd with a much better view.
"You are a fool," the large man growls, "to believe that I, the wise major, will fall to your tricks."
The large man, finished with his 'wise' speech, pushes the scrawny one down, books and papers flying throughout the air.
"What's the matter," the man mocks, "can't take a beating?"
The crowd takes this as their cue. The large group of men step forwards towards the frightened scholar, intent on mobbing the poor fellow. Having seen enough, the man on the rooftops stands, and taking a running leap, landing in front of the scholar and taking a defensive position.
"Stop this madness!" He cries. The commanding tone of his voice immediately stops the crowd in their tracks, "Have you no shame? Bastards, the whole lot of you!"
"Look!" One particularly drunken man yells, pointing at him, "It's the thief!"
The thief turns to the man, recognizing the pudgy face as that of the baker. "Ah, Mr. Baker. Still overpricing your bread?" He asks, dancing away when the pudgy man lunges.
"My bread is affordable," the baker snarls, "but it isn't as if you ever pay for it!"
"Don't blame me! I wouldn't take it if you wouldn't leave it out in the open," the young thief snarks, unable to help himself, "because I wouldn't be able to."
"That's bullshit and you know it!" The fat man roars, "I once locked my daily earnings and a loaf of bread in a safe. You still stole the bread, and you took my rupees too!"
"What can I say," the thief chuckles, scooping up some of the fallen books, "it's what I do."
The thief, dodging a punch from the baker, hands the scholar the books before returning to the crowd, "You know I'm in the right, here. That baker is a fool."
"Thanks," the scholar whispers. The thief only barely hears him over the enraged roars of the crowd.
"Don't mention it," he replies, ducking another punch.
"Well, well, well," the bulky man who pushed the scholar mocks, "Look what we have here, boys! The zealot and the thief, breaking bread together! The irony of this amuses me."
He laughs that deep laugh, that dark chuckle. The crowd, bunch of sheep that they are, soon join in with drunken bellow from the men and contorted cackles from the women.
"Does he know what irony is?" the thief asks quietly, leaning over to the scholar.
"I seriously doubt it," the scholar responds in the same hushed tone, "Our mayor isn't a very smart man."
The taunting laughs of the crowd stop suddenly at this remark. The mayor, glaring at the scholar, looms over the crowd. "You dare question my authority?" He booms, glaring down at the quaking man.
"N-no sir," the scholar stutters, cowering under the mayor's intimidating presence.
"And you thief," the mayor booms while the scholar glances down at his feet, "do you question my power?"
The thief glances at the scholar, seeing the fear in his body language. Sudden rage fills the young man, and he glares up at the behemoth of a mayor. "Yes, actually," the thief laughs at the shocked look upon the man's face, "I do."
"Oh, boy," the scholar groans, his face contorted as he winces, "you shouldn't have done that. I think you should get ready to run."
"...I'm gonna kill you, insolent boy!" The mayor roars. The scholar, seeing the young thief's plight, grabs the man's arms and yanks him away.
"Are you mad?!" The scholar yells, pulling the thief behind him as they run from the enraged beast of a man behind them, "You just committed suicide!"
"So?" The thief asks, pulling his arm from the scholar's grip, "I got nothin' to live for anyhow. No food, no money, no family."
"I'm gonna feed your rotting corpse to the Takkuri when I catch you!" The mayor screeches in rage.
"Really?" The scholar asks, slightly surprised by this admittance, "You're an orphan?"
"Yeah," the thief replies, pulling the scholar into an alley. The mayor, still bellowing threats of increasing morbidity, stomps by, not recognizing the escape in his rage.
"Your soul will burn in the just fires of the Sacred Realm!"
The thief, listening for the stomps of the mayor, sticks his head around the corner, "Looks like he's gone," the thief whispers. A loud chiming from the center of the town causes him to look north instinctively, "I need to get home."
"Wait!" The scholar yells as the thief turns to run, "You saved my life! Please, let me repay the debt!"
"What are you talking about," the thief questions, "I'm not in any danger."
"Oh, but you are! The town," the scholar cries, "will soon be destroyed!"
"Destroyed?!" the thief exclaims in horror.
"By a meteor, for sure! We don't even have an hour! You gotta believe me," the scholar whispers, shaking the thief's shoulders, "You just gotta!"
"I suppose I do," the thief says, pushing the scholar's hands off of him, "And in the case you're wrong, I can return to my bleak life."
"Great! I have a vault set up in my home," the scholar shouts, "It's just outside the city walls."
"Oh," the thief states, glancing at the gate guards, "that could be a problem. See, the guards are on the lookout for me, so I can't get near them or I'll get thrown in prison."
"Hmmm... I know," the scholar snaps his fingers, "I seem to recall something about a secret passage that leads from the city to my cellar. I believe the sewers are the key."
"Alright," the thief states, motioning for the scholar to follow, "Come on. The sewers are this way."
The duo travels through the city, occasionally stopping to hide from the vigilant guards. After minutes of traveling, the scholar points at a narrow passage, blocked by a small boy in a blue soldier uniform.
"That's a member of the Secret Society of Bombers. They play around here," the scholar explains, "This particular member happens to be guarding the entrance."
The boy salutes the scholar as he approaches, stepping aside to allow the duo passage. A rank stench haunts the descending passage, the thief scrunching his nose, "You can find the way, right?"
"Indeed," the scholar nods, pointing down one of the passageways, "This way."
Soon, the thief and the scholar find themselves at a ladder. The thief, with his dexterity, climbs it will all speed, carrying the scholar's books. He glances about the room. Star maps dot the walls, a strange scarecrow stands immobile in a patch of sand, and a cucco squawks, scratching the floor with its claws.
"Sorry bout the scarecrow," the scholar apologizes as he tops the ladder, "He was a gift from a friend."
"It's alright. So... Star maps?" The thief asks, gesturing to the walls.
"Correct," the scholar nods, "I am an astronomer. Welcome to the Astral Observatory."
The observatory is aptly named, as the thief finds out moments later. The duo climb a staircase, making their way into a large circular room. A telescope sits in the center, pointing towards the town. The thief glances about, eyes falling on a very luminous stone in a glass case.
"That is my most precious possession, aside from the scarecrow and the cucco," the scholar says, seeing the thief's confused expression, "It is called a Moon's Tear. Strange gem, this tear. I inherited it from my great grandfather, to whom it was given by a boy in a green tunic. Oh!" He exclaims, turning to the thief, "My name is Jacob."
"Adam. So how do you know that the town is doomed?" The thief asks, still gazing at the Moon's Tear.
"I saw a meteor heading for Clock Town through my telescope. I did some calculations and determined its point of impact is exactly 15 minutes from now. I need to get my affairs in order, so can you help me? Go grab the scarecrow along with the cucco, and bring them to the vault," the scholar says, pointing at a large, steel door, "while I collect food, water, and other possessions."
He rushes off to do who knows what, leaving the thief with the Moon's Tear. He stares at it, hypnotized by its blue glow. Shaking his head, the thief turns to collect the scarecrow and the cucco. As he descends, he notices the scarecrow's expression has changed slightly. Shrugging it off, for indeed, the thief has seen stranger things, he grabs it by the base, lifting it and plucking the cucco up simultaneously. Cucco in one hand, scarecrow in the other, he returns upstairs. He tosses the scarecrow inside the vault, setting the cucco down beside it. Shaking his head in confusion, he walks out.
"I have gotten everything," Jacob says, placing down a small suitcase, "All that's left is the Moon's Tear."
The scholar reaches into his shirt, pulling out a golden key. He takes it and places it inside a lock, the thief noticing the simplicity of the five tumbler lock. After fumbling with it, the case opens just as the clock tower rings. Jacob's eyes widen, "SHIT!"
He grabs the Moon's Tear, tossing it to the thief before grabbing the suitcase and rushing into the vault. Adam, seeing the haste, follows immediately. The tower chimes again.
"Help me with the door!" Jacob yells, another chime breaking his words.
The thief nods, rushing to the steel door, wincing at the cold. Steeling himself, he pushes it closed. The clock chimes, a faint whirring sounding complimenting it. The door slams shut just as the whirring is at its loudest and the clock chimes one final time before the whirring stops. The world silent, the quiet before the storm. The thief puts his ear to the door. "Get away from there!" Jacob yells, pulling the thief away from it, "Come on, we need to proceed. We are too close to the door. I fear that even this blast chamber won't save us from the impact."
Adam nods, picking up the scarecrow and the cucco. Jacob rushes down the corridor, faint lights flickering down it. The thief follows, stopping when he sees Jacob standing in front of a large chute.
"What is this?" He asks, placing the cucco down on the ground, "Where does this go?"
"I have no idea," Jacob replies, "My friend built it." A loud boom interrupts him, "Crap! Quick, strap the scarecrow to your back! You have the Moon's Tear, correct?"
Adam nods while taking the scarecrow and strapping it to his back like a sword. He briefly reminisces about the day he spent training at the dojo, but remembering the danger, focuses on continuing. "Yeah, it's in my pocket," the thief states, finished with his task, "Now what?"
"Now," the scholar says, motioning towards the chute, "we jump."
"Alright. I can live with that," the thief says sarcastically, "NO WAY!"
"...Look, you have two choices. The first is that you can burn to death in this room," the scholar states. Adam winces at the the mention of the painful death, "The second is that you can jump and hope you don't die."
Before he can think it over, a crackling sounds from the doorway. Jacob, annoyed with the thief for taking too long, pushes Adam down the chute before grabbing the cucco and the suitcase and following.
The thief screams as he slides down the metal, the fire just above his head. Jacob slides next to him, hooking the thief to himself with a strand of rope. "I feel it will be helpful," he explains, seeing the thief's confused look.
Soon, the novelty of screaming had faded, and the thief finds himself incredibly bored. "Jacob, who is this friend of yours?" Adam asks.
"He never tells anyone his name, but he goes by Masque. The man has a strange affinity for mask magick," the scholar states, shaking his head, "never understood the art; making masks. The most I can do is make a mask explode."
"Sounds weird. Now, I have to ask... Why let him make you a chute?" The thief questions, still sliding down the chute.
"He wanted to," Jacob explains, "He didn't need a reason. I trust the man with my life."
The two travel on in silence. The thief, bored, stares at the walls of the shaft. "Jacob... Why are the walls glowing?" He asks, fear gnawing at his core.
"...Nayru save us," the man whispers, looking to his rear. The torrent of flames burns brightly, threatening to engulf them in its maw.
Farore, give me your courage! The thief prays, glancing at the fire worriedly. The scholar turns to Adam, "Hey. Don't lose the scarecrow or the Moon's Tear! Find Masque!"
"What?" Adam questions loudly as Jacob pulls a knife and starts sawing the rope, "NO! Don't do it!"
"Goodbye, Adam. May we meet again," Jacob sighs as the rope snaps. Adam watches the man burn as the fire engulfs him.
"JACOB!" The thief mourns, reaching for the fire. Suddenly and without warning, the chute ends. The thief feels his feet hit cold water, watches the flames touch the surface from beneath the waves. He gasps as his head breaks the surface, searching wildly for the man who sacrificed himself. The thief swims to the edge of the water, pulling himself out onto the sandy shore. He lies on his back watching the clouds.
In mourning, the thief closes his eyes, sending a prayer to the goddesses that the man is alive, but knowing that he is not. A crack of thunder causes him to open his eyes. A large droplet of rain splatters on his nose. Adam groans, pulling himself up. Steadily, the rain increases. The water-logged scarecrow, still strapped to the thief's back, weighs him down. He unbuckles it, placing it aside. He glares at it threateningly as the rain continues.
"This is all your fault!" He yells, kicking the wooden statue, "He died because of you!"
He kicks it again before collapsing to the ground, rain splattering the ground around him. He takes the Moon's Tear out of his pocket, staring at its beauty, but even it, in its hypnotic blue glow, cannot snap the thief out of his tears. He cries, even as the rain gradually stops, even as the sun disappears over the horizon. His soul laments for the scholar as dusk falls. Forever shall I feel a strange sadness, the thief thinks, as dusk falls. It is the only time the world of the departed intersects with my own.
The thief stands slowly, solemnly. Feeling the dampness of his clothes, he takes them off and sets them beside the scarecrow, unbuckling his trusty dagger as well. Annoyed, he jumps into the small lake, feeling a slight rush at the warmth of the spring. He, without purpose, swims, desperately searching his memories. He walks out of the spring, still immersed in his thoughts, when a small flickering light snaps him out of them. An orange lizard glares at the clothes, its tail aflame as it breathes on his possessions. Adam watches, wide-eyed with horror as his clothes and the scarecrow burn. The lizard turns to the thief and glares at him, but instead of murdering him in cold blood, instead rushes off into the bushes. The thief rushes to his clothes, watching with horror as they burn. Strangely, as the kindles die, only a pile of artifacts are untouched. Where the scarecrow once had lay, a pile of green cloth instead wraps a gleaming red-hot sword. The Moon's Tear, along with the dagger, lay untouched.
Adam, feeling the breeze, reaches for the cloth, revealing, to his delight, a set of strange garments. Brown slacks, the thief grabs first, placing them on his legs. Adam then grabs a white cloth that he instinctively knows is to be worn on his chest. Placing it on his chest, he grabs the green, unfolding it. It clanks, and from his lessons at the dojo, the thief knows the garment is a chainmail tunic. Astounded at his luck, or, perhaps, his fate, the thief picks the tunic up, about to pull it over his head when a green cap and a pair of dark brown leather boots fall out. Glad that he can continue wearing a hat, Adam gladly pulls the tunic over his body and snatches the cap off the ground. Examining it in the limited moonlight, he sees it come down to a point. While confused, he gladly pulls it over his head, a strange sensation occurring as he does so.
The thief, confused so far and seeing no logical explanation, shrugs, deciding upon just going with the flow. He puts on the boots before snatching the sword out of the embers and looking it over in amazement. He swings it, going through a series of simple motions, extremely glad to have a sword in his possession once more. Finally, after placing the sword in a scabbard sewed onto the back of the chainmail tunic, the thief eyes over the final two objects; the dagger and the stone. Grabbing the Moon's Tear, he places it in a pocket on the tunic. The dagger, the thief straps to his ankle. His trusty dagger he received from a strange man in the clock tower, again in its rightful place, the young man sits on the shore.
The wakes lap the sand as the moon travels across the sky. The thief, the orphan, the man, looks up at the night sky for the first time. Unfamiliar stars stare back at him, the wakes still lapping. The man, feeling his eyes drooping, allows himself the sweet respite of sleep.
Dreams plague the thief at night, chronic nightmares of horrifying events. Tonight is no different. The thief finds himself feeling alone, in need of healing. A strange man walks up to him, a grin on his face. "You've met a terrible fate, haven't you?" The grinning man asks. Adam finds himself unable to speak, his throat itchy.
"Now don't find me rude," the man says, still grinning, "but I have been following you, for I know of a way to return you to your former self."
The man walks around Adam, looking him over, "If you can get back the precious item that was stolen from you, I will return you to normal."
The eerie grinning man leans close to the thief's face, "In exchange, all I ask is that you also get back my precious mask the imp stole from me. Except," the man pauses, looking at a golden pocket watch, "the thing is," he pauses again to put it away, "I'm a very busy fellow, and I must leave this place in three days. How grateful I would be if you could bring it back to me before my time here is up."
The man turns around, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "When you find your item, remember this song," the man says before playing eleven simple notes on an organ, "Remember it, the Song of Healing. Go, young Link, and find my mask."
"I just want to know your name first," Adam says, surprised at the scratchiness of his voice.
"Ah, yes. My name... is Masque."
The thief gasps as he awakes, jolted out of his dream. The sun, the thief notices, is just rising above the horizon. Adam groans, stretching his limbs. That face, he ponders, is that the face of Masque? Must I find the strange, grinning man? Jumping at a growl, he narrows his eyes at the bushes before realizing his stomach aching. He glances about, attempting to find some source of food, but seeing none, he sits down. His stomach again reminds him of its existence before a rustling of the bushes demands the thief's attention. He stands, sword drawn at the bush, as two small children around the age of ten step out. The first, a small boy, wears a tuxedo, his hair oiled back, and carries a large light brown egg that the thief eyes hungrily. The second, a small girl in a bright pink dress, twirls about, her thoughts not on her path. The thief, aware that the danger is nonexistent, sheathes his sword.
"Hey, Lai! Look at the man!" The boy exclaims, seeing Adam, "Doesn't he look as if he belongs in a renaissance fair?"
"Hmmm," the girl, Lai, mutters, "I suppose so. Hey, mister!"
"Hey," Adam says, still eying the egg hungrily.
"Where are you from, mister?" The girl asks.
"Clock Town, Termina," Adam responds instinctively.
The children's faces contort in confusion. "Termina?" The boy asks, "Is that anywhere in Kanto?"
"Kanto?" The thief responds, "Where's that?"
"Here, silly," Lai laughs, "Everyone knows that!"
His stomach growls again and, knowing he must get food soon, the thief draws his sword and points it at the boy. "Give me the egg," he demands.
"W-what? N-no!" The boy stutters, "My pa gave this to me!"
"I don't care," the thief replies truthfully, "Just give me the egg and you can leave."
"No! You can't have it!" The boy yells.
The thief sighs before taking a step forward, "Sorry, kid."
He starts to swing the sword when the boy yells for him to stop, "Alright! I'll give it to you! I don't want a stupid Eevee anyways. Come on, Lai, let's go make fun of the poor kids at Pallet Town." The boy carefully places the egg on the ground and backs away slowly. As soon as he is out of the thief's striking distance, he turns around and flees, Lai shortly following.
Adam, after watching them flee and sheathing his sword, returns his gaze to the egg. He steps towards it, picking it up, cradle it. He looks around for firewood, and starts towards it when the egg moves. The thief jumps, almost dropping the egg. He fumbles with it, and takes another step. It moves again. Adam narrows his eyes at the egg, taking a deliberate step forward. Each time it moves, he notices, a fracture on the egg grows. Knowing that he can't eat anything beyond a certain life stage, he sighs, but continues towards the firewood. He collects the wood, places it in a pile, and mutters a short phrase, causing the wood to ignite. The thief's pointed ears twitch with the impromptu usage of magick, but he ignores it, instead holding the egg in his lap as he sits by the fire. He sits there, holding the egg which occasionally moves, pondering the events of the last day. Eevee, the thief wonders, moving his gaze to the egg, which seems to move in acknowledgment, what is that?
His stomach, still growling, reminds him of his priorities. He shakes his head, placing the egg in a pile of leaves before running through the woods searching for food. The dense forest is oddly silent as he rushes through it. Finally, as he nears a clearing, he sees a bush with bright yellow berries on it. Almost yelling with excitement, he rushes to it, picking the berries and filling his pockets with them. A strange caw, reminiscent of the Takkuri of his homeland, sends the thief scurrying back to the fire. He sits, glancing back at the forest, before placing one of the berries in his mouth. Adam, used to the bland foods of Termina, explodes with emotion at the flavor of the berries. Not only is it wonderful, the flavor, but he feels his hunger fleeing with just one of the wondrous berries. He pulls another out, staring at it intently. What is this place, the thief wonders.
A cracking sounds from his right, sending the thief's gaze snapping to the egg. He watches intently as the fracture grows more and more defined. Finally, after what seems to be an eternity yet a moment, the shell falls to the ground, and a small meow forms from the hatched creature.
"Eevee!" It cries, moving over to the thief's lap.
...Did a mammal just hatch... from an egg? The thief wonders. "Eevee!" The creature exclaims happily, purring contentedly as Adam pets its back.
The orphan stares at the creature in his lap, a strange brown... thing. It has large ears, fluff around the scruff of its neck, a puffy tail, and these adorable blue eyes that stare up at the thief lovingly as he scratches it behind the ear. It is kinda cute, the thief admits to himself, albeit strange.
"Eevee!" It purrs, arching its back.
"...I have never had a pet before..." the thief admits aloud, "I'll call you Sola."
A man with grayed hair turns to the ringing phone, annoyed at the device. He turns to go back to his work, but the annoyance captures him and he eventually turns to answer it.
"Hello, this is Professor Oak. How may I help you today?" The old man, Professor Oak, says into the receptor.
"Professor! We translated the first bit of the ruins!" A feminine voice sounds from the earpiece.
"What!" the Professor yells, "Well? Don't keep me waiting!"
"Right. So far, all we have are bits and pieces...
'...i...f... Termina... wa...s...
… souls... en...d... Dawn's... Miracle...
...a...s... Masks... H...a...ng...
...world... tu...ne... void.'
Professor, what does it mean?"
"I have no idea," Professor Oak admits.
"Oh," the aide sighs, "Professor! It's horrible! A strange being has appeared at the dig site! It is slaughtering all our workers! Professor! Hel..." The aide is silenced abruptly.
"...I know you are there, foolish mortal. I don't know who you are, or where you are... but I will find you, and when I do... I will kill you. So is your soul cursed... I will consume... consume everything..."
The Professor quickly hangs up the line, eyes wide, pulse racing.
"You've met with a terrible fate," a voice says, making the professor turn around quickly, "Haven't you?"