The Gathering Twilight

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Warning: Contains spoilers for Twilight Princess and Majora’s Mask.

Leaving the bleak future behind him, the Hero of Time went back seven years and became a child once more. Returning the Master Sword to its pedestal and sealing the Door of Time behind him, Link then traveled to Hyrule Castle, still in the time before Ganondorf‘s attacks, and met with Princess Zelda once more. Oddly, she knew he was coming, and she too remembered the catastrophe of the dark future, recalling it in a vivid dream she had had the night before. Together they convinced King Harkinian of Ganondorf’s eventual betrayal, and when Ganondorf attempted to stage his coup, he found the King’s forces ready and waiting for him. Ganondorf was stopped, and in shame was sentenced to death for his crimes.

Ganondorf was taken to the Arbiter’s Grounds, an ancient goal in the Gerudo Desert where Hyrule’s worst criminals were imprisoned. There, presided over by the ghostly spirits of the Ancient Sages, Ganondorf was tried and brought forward for execution. He was run through with a sword of light, a symbolic weapon meant to purge the darkness of the soul, and should very well have died…but did not. By some divine prank, some sick twist of fate, Ganondorf in that moment manifested the Triforce of Power.

While nothing concrete can be said, it is believed that the Hero of Time is partially responsible for this. Though he had come back to the past as a child, he carried with him the experiences of a young man, and the power of the Triforce of Courage. Perhaps the Triforce itself, feeling the resonance of this strange fold in time, split in three once more and went to its proper bearers. Regardless, Ganondorf broke free of his bonds in the Arbiter’s Grounds and eradicated the soul of the Ancient Sage of Water. He would have destroyed the other Sages too, had they not acted quickly. The black mirror, bestowed upon them eons ago by the Spirits of Light, had long been used in the Arbiter’s Grounds as a banishing mechanism for the worst prisoners, and it was quickly brought out and activated. Ganondorf was pulled through it, cast into the Twilight Realm as the Dark Interlopers had once been.

With Ganondorf exiled, the mirror was returned to stasis and forbidden to be used, lest the Gerudo King someday return. The Sages continued to watch over the Arbiter’s Grounds, lamenting the loss of one of their number.

MAJORA’S MASK

Little did the former Hero of Time suspect that these events transpired. Shortly after his return to Hyrule, Link felt compelled to go searching for his long lost friend, the fairy Navi whom he had parted ways with when sealing the Door of Time. Knowing that his journeys would take him far from Hyrule, Princess Zelda bestowed on Link the Ocarina of Time, so that it might aid him and eventually guide him back to Hyrule.

The Hero set out, passing through the Lost Woods as he followed the possible trail of his friend. Unfortunately he was waylaid by a strange masked imp, who stole the Ocarina of time. Giving chase, Link followed the thief into a cavern and inadvertently tumbled into a strange land – the world of Termina, a place in the cracks of creation where substance and existence had seeped through, a place that had never known the intentional influence of the Golden Goddesses.

Upon his arrival, Link was cursed by the masked imp, transformed into a Deku scrub. One of the imp’s accomplices, a fairy called Tatl, took pity on Link and helped him, sensing that her former friend was being corrupted by some sinister force. They soon crossed paths with a mysterious man who called himself the Happy Mask Salesman, a traveling collector who explained to the duo that the imp’s mask was in fact a relic of terrible power, supposedly used by an ancient tribe during its hexing rituals. This item, Majora’s Mask, became so imbued with black magic that it had to be cast into the Twilight. The Happy Mask Salesman had somehow managed to acquire the mask from the darkness for his eerie collection, only to have it stolen by the same imp that had robbed Link. The salesman promised Link that he would return him to his true shape if he was able to recover both the Ocarina and Majora’s Mask from the imp, and that the task must be completed in three days.

The cryptic truth behind the salesman’s time frame was all too obvious once Link and Tatl emerged from the Clock Tower that was the link between worlds. Termina’s annual Carnival of Time was fast approaching, and in three days the festival would begin…and in three days, the grotesquely-altered moon would plummet from the sky and destroy the world. As the people of Termina grimly prepared for the end times, Link learned that the moon was another result of the imp’s abusing Majora’s Mask’s powers. For three days, Link was forced to gather information and watch the moon descend closer and closer, until midnight of the final day, when he was able to confront the imp atop the Clock Tower and regain the Ocarina of Time. Using a song he suddenly recalled from his past, Link was able to reverse time’s flow back to the point he and Tatl had entered Termina, stalling doomsday.

The Happy Mask Salesman kept his end of the bargain, and restored Link to his original form, the Deku spirit becoming a magical mask that Link could wear to assume the guise of the scrub at will. Now able to reset time but maintain magical progress, Link traveled to the four provinces of Termina, freeing the primordial guardian spirits that dwelt in each, imprisoned by the imp. These four giants were the only force strong enough to stop the moon’s descent, and were powerful enough to ignore the influence of time once freed by Link. Thus, Link was forced to relive the same three days over and over as he battled the evil forces lurking on Termina’s fringes. The Hero was not alone, though: besides Tatl, the departed spirits of a Goron hero and Zora musician lent Link their power in return for healing their regret, allowing Link to transform into aspects of them with their corresponding masks.

When at last all the giants were freed, Link confronted the masked imp once more, and used the ocarina to summon the giants. With their mighty arms they kept the moon aloft. The imp collapsed with a scream of agony, and suddenly Majora’s Mask began acting on its own. The spirit in the mask had been brought forth, and it fled to the moon to force it downward and “consume everything.” Link followed the demon to a surreal, dreamlike world where, after a series of unusual trials, he acquired the Fierce Deity’s Mask and assumed the aspect of a dark god.

Link battled Majora’s Mask as the Fierce Deity, eventually drawing out the demon’s incarnation and slaying it. The moon dissipated, vanished in a conflagration of light and wind, and when Link regained consciousness later, he found Termina free, no longer under the threat of lunar annihilation. The Happy Mask Salesman took back Majora’s Mask – now just an empty vessel devoid of evil power – and departed for points unknown. Tatl was reunited with the humbled imp, who had at one point and time been a friend to the four giants and had grown lonely and sad when they left him to guard the provinces of Termina; Majora’s Mask had taken advantage of the imp’s sadness and turned it to bitter rage.

With the land of Termina saved and the Ocarina of Time recovered, Link returned to his own world, resuming his search for Navi, and unknowingly bringing with him another dark power, housed within the Fierce Deity’s Mask.

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The Gathering Twilight

Legend of Zelda: An RPG to the Past Bucketfox