Chapter One: Mask of Devils
There once echoed a legend…
A legend of a world's ending…
A child who bent Time to his will…
And a mask of devils.
It was once told that a malevolent deity desired to enshroud the world in darkness and misery before bringing about a total apocalypse, all for the sole purpose of amusing itself. In their anger, the dark god's golden sisters sealed away its ancient power within the confines of a mask.
The mask was sealed away for what was thought to be forever…
But forever did not last…
Many sought out the mask for its powers…
All ended in the same tragedy.
Until the child came.
A warrior before his time, this child brought with him an ancient relic. With the sacred flute's magic, the child bent time to his will, and he succeeded where all others had failed. Tragedy was prevented. A world was saved.
But this legend has faded away upon the ever-drifting sands of time, the names of its participants long-forgotten in the minds of the people…
Eons passed. Kingdoms rose and fell. Humans rose to their prime, and then declined until their kind disappeared forevermore. New beings took the land for their own, many of them fiends wielding their own brand of wicked power. Rainbows were tainted by darkness, reality was distorted, and a race of intelligent ponies rose as the humans once did, cementing their place in the changing world.
And unbeknownst to all, the deity, that ancient, dark power who had attempted destruction so very long ago, watched them all…
And it waited…
Waited for its time to come again…
The world of Equestria, Diamond Dog Mines…
Within the expansive maze of gem-lined caverns, a troupe of strange creatures toiled away, digging with their sharp claws into the dirt in their never-ending search for jewels. They were a strange mix between hound and ape, with heads like dogs and bodies like gorillas. One could easily mistake them for werewolves, but these creatures were nothing of the sort. They were Diamond Dogs, beasts whose greed could rival a dragon's.
As one particular dog scratched his way through the earth, his claw inexplicably struck something hard, eliciting a sharp yowl of pained surprise from the creature. Shaking his sore hand, the Diamond Dog observed the leader of his pack approaching. The leader had a spiked collar around his neck, his head reminiscent of a pit bull. "Why are you standing there gawking like a newborn pup, Roxy?!" the alpha snarled in their language.
"Nothing, Alpha Rex," Roxy hastily replied. "Just struck a stone is all."
Rex glanced past Roxy's shoulder at the hole he had been carving out of the cave surface and immediately caught sight of something poking out of the earth. Narrowing his eyes in suspicion, Rex stepped closer to the hole to observe the object closer. He couldn't see much of it, but judging by the corner poking out of the earth, it appeared to be made of hard, strong wood.
"What in Tartarus?" Rex mumbled to himself as he started scratching aside the dirt to dislodge more of the object.
Moments later he realized what it was, and started digging faster. "This is a treasure chest! Help me here, you mutt!" he snapped at Roxy.
Roxy jumped in panic and started digging out the chest alongside his boss. After a few moments, enough dirt was dislodged that the chest was loosened from its position. Tugging with all their might, Rex and Roxy pulled out the chest, which clattered to the ground with a thunderous CLUNK! The noise drew the attention of the various other dogs working throughout the mine shaft, who all glanced at the newest treasure their leader had found.
Rex examined the chest, taking note of its condition. It had been buried for what was likely a long time, but the wood was still firm and hard as if it had been freshly carved. The chest was locked, and there was no key in sight. Undeterred, Rex hefted up the chest and shook it. To his surprise, it was light, and he heard what sounded like only one object rustling around inside.
If that was the case, then whatever was inside was more valuable than any gemstone.
Rex bounded over to a nearby pickaxe and seized it, returning to the chest and slamming the pickaxe into the lock, smashing it to bits. Rex then eagerly lifted the lid and gazed down upon his latest prize.
Staring back up at him was a heart-shaped mask. The mask was painted various colors, mostly purple and red, with white and green tribal markings. Two green spikes jutted out from the top, and four more ran along each side. The mask's eyes were large and round, and seemingly bore into Rex's soul.
Rex was full of conflicting feelings as he stared at the strange mask. He was disappointed that it wasn't some kind of shiny treasure or huge gemstone. At the same time, though, something about the mask put his warning instincts on edge.
The eyes…oh gods, those eyes…
Against his better judgment, Rex lifted the mask out of the chest and held it up where the others could see it, for it seemed Rex had drawn a crowd. The gathered dogs all whispered to each other in confusion, commenting on the funny-looking mask Rex had found. The same thing was on all their minds: why was a mask buried inside a treasure chest?
As Rex gazed into the mask's eyes, they suddenly flashed bright like fire. Though it was barely noticeable to the other Diamond Dogs, to Rex the flash was blinding. The alpha yelped and dropped the mask in shock. Before he could rub his eyes, the other dogs starting yipping in shock and terror. Rex took a step backwards as he rubbed his eyes to clear his vision.
Or at least he tried to. For some reason, he couldn't move his legs.
As his vision started to clear, he also realized he could no longer feel his legs either. And that cold numbness was spreading up his body. Rex blinked and looked down at himself.
His body was turning into solid diamond.
His eyes went wide in terror as he tried to claw the diamond off of him in vain. The transformation spread up his torso, making him unable to breathe. His arms shook about until they too became solid diamond. As the diamond coursed slowly up his neck, Rex made a strangled gurgling noise, unable to draw breath and suffocating. The gathered Diamond Dogs continued to watch in horrified fascination as their leader's transformation completed. The literal Diamond Dog's twisted body made it look like an ice sculpture carved into a visage of utter pain and madness.
And then the statue exploded, showering the terrified dogs with shattered diamonds. Scared out of their wits, they all turned and fled down the shaft, tripping and climbing over each other in a desperate effort to escape the horror. As they ran, each of them swore they could hear maniacal, insane laughter echoing throughout every shaft and tunnel, reverberating in their ears.
Soon their frightened howls died out as they fled the caverns, leaving the mask all alone in the main shaft. A few moments of utter quiet passed. And then the mask twitched once. A moment later, another few twitches. And then the mask rose into the air of its own accord, twirling a few times in the air for good measure.
The mask spun around, taking in its surroundings. Silently, the possessed artifact floated down the shaft, following the footsteps of the creatures it had scared away. Oh, it had wanted to do that for so long. It was a fitting end for such a petty, greedy animal.
The mask soon reached the surface of the world and discovered that it was nighttime. The soft moonlight shined down on the mask's face, and the mask gazed upon the floating rock fondly before returning its gaze to the surrounding area. A bare patch devoid of plant life surrounded the holes leading to the mines. Beyond that, however, was a dense forest.
It had been too long since it had last…interacted with the world. It had no intention of staying out of sight, now that it was free to wreak havoc once more. It needed to act quickly, though; killing that Diamond Dog had sapped a little more of the mask's energy than it would have liked. It needed to find a suitable host quickly to feed on before its remaining strength waned.
Reaching out with its power, the mask sensed all living things within the forest, searching particularly for intelligent life. For the most part, all it could feel was the presence of various animals and monsters that roamed the woods. However, after a few moments, it did pick up something promising.
The mask stumbled in the air for a moment due to the continuous drain on its energy before hovering off into the woods. Like a ghost, the mask glided silently past the trees and shrubs, stalking its prey. Soon, it got close enough that it could deactivate its sensing spell without losing its target. Seconds later, it spied a unicorn pony trotting down a well-beaten path in the forest, glancing warily about. The pony was wearing a pair of saddlebags filled with various knick-knacks.
The mask considered its target. It was strange; when it had last rose to power, humans had been the dominant species of the world it had threatened. Now they were no more, replaced by these Technicolor equines. Had it had a mouth, the mask would have grimaced with disgust. Though this land still ended up seeing its fair share of strife and conflict, all of that was virtually swept under the proverbial table by the "magic" of friendship that dominated these idiots' lives.
It eagerly anticipated putting that so-called magic to the ultimate test.
But first, it had to attract its target without appearing too suspicious. The traveler could have been a salesman, judging by the laden saddlebags, and that bode well for the mask. The last salesman who had run around with it ended up losing it to that insipid Skull Kid. And if this salesman…salespony had no idea about the mask's true power, then it could find a new host without having to lift a finger.
Formulating a plan, the mask slunk into the darkness of the forest and floated far enough ahead of the pony where he couldn't see the mask position itself at the base of a tree next to the path, digging itself into the dirt a little to give off the appearance that it had been there a while. As expected, when the unicorn approached and spied the mask laying there in the dirt, his face lit up in excitement at his newest discovery. Just from the look of it, he could tell the mask was worth something.
"This must be my lucky day!" the unicorn said to himself, lifting up the mask with his magic.
Unbeknownst to him, the mask discreetly fed on the magical energies enveloping it, replenishing the strength it had used up getting here. The unicorn cheerfully levitated the mask into his pack and continued trotting down the path with a noticeable spring in his step. Little did he know of the price his world would soon pay for rediscovering the ancient terror of old...the fabled heart of darkness...
The Mask of Majora.