I’m not just another kid. But at this point I might as well be.
First there was that…whoever it was. He. I hadn’t seen him in our town before. He made me nervous, with his frenetic darting here and there, the twitching of his neck.
But when he turned, I saw the mask, the painted eyes like bright vortexes. And I felt something colder.
And then he was gone. The guards came up, and they threw him out of the city. Even though it was a fine spring day, just a week before Carnival, I shivered.
My love and I, we send messages to each other. Letters, postcards. The postman is our good friend by now, though he never has long to chat. But her letters, oh, they are our little potion against the dreariness of time apart. I’ve kept every one. The latest—a few days after my encounter with strange figure—spoke of what she had planned for our wedding, the ceremony where we’d join our masks. I felt my heart glowing as I finished the letter. I was sure our customers could see my happiness bursting from me like a wave.
But in the evening…
…the masked figure reappeared.
I was out on the western avenue, closing up shop, preparing to spend the evening with my bride-to-be. I lowered the shutters and turned around…and came face-to-face with those burning eyes. I think I yelled, out of sheer surprise. I must have hit my head on something, fallen.
When I came to, the eyes were gone.
I pulled myself to my feet and reached for my pack, which was sitting on the storefront counter. It took me a second to realize I had reached up for the pack. I looked down, and saw skinny legs, oversized boots, arms barely poking out of their sleeves. I let out a yelp, and my voice was high and wavery, like a child’s.
Like a child.
Somehow, that thing had turned me into a child.
I ran almost blindly through the near-empty streets. The one dominating thought was I can’t let her see me like this. I loved her. We were going to get married. How would she feel if her own caring fiancé showed up as an eleven-year-old boy?
I held out one remaining hope. Tomorrow I would go ask the patron fairy of the town for help. With the Carnival—and our wedding—only three days away, there was no other chance. All my hopes rested on her.
And then even that went awry. I went to the Fountain and found her scattered, her ethereal self broken up into floating shards of personality. Instead of receiving aid, her last fragments begged me to help her.
But I was just a kid.
And outside the Fountain, the Thief was waiting. Ordeal on top of ordeal, it wasn’t bad enough that I was imprisoned in this child’s form. No, the thief, the slinking scoundrel everyone had seen around town…he stole my wedding mask, my Sun’s Mask. The one remaining possession I treasure, besides the letters. The one thing I had chosen to carry with me that day. For safekeeping.
But I was just a kid.
And now? Is this the part of the story where I embark on a heroic quest? To regain my prize and my form, all for the sake of my love? That’s not how real life works. We are born, we grow. We trade, we travel. We love…
And I am just a kid.
But I’ve decided that can’t stop me. Even if I can’t marry my bride, I can still do my best to keep my promise to her. I intend to find this thief, to track him back to his hideout. To recover the mask. Not a heroic quest…but an ordinary person doing what’s right.
But I am just a kid. No bright tunic. No shining sword. No magical inventory. It’s hard to take up a task meant for someone out of legends.
Someone like you, perhaps.
Anju trusted you. I shall also trust you. I am Kafei.
This piece was inspired by the orchestral album Time’s End by video game remixer Theophany, specifically the track “Lovers Mask”. Time’s End is an album of cinematic orchestral pieces based on the music of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It’s probably my favorite album of orchestrated video game music.1
Majora’s Mask has slowly become one of my favorite Zelda games, not for its gameplay but for the richness of its stories. Unlike all the other games, Link (the protagonist) is not really the hero, or even a hero. The game is bound to a three-day cycle that you have to repeat over and over again to progress forward; the people and the world are eerie parallels of the previous game in the series; the side quests are all accomplished by solving people’s problems, usually emotional troubles. Forgiveness and redemption are themes that pop up again and again. And there are stories everywhere.
Today’s piece is about a character named Kafei, who before the events of the game was turned into a child by the primary antagonist. (For no particular reason, IIRC.) The “side quest” to reunite him and his fiancée Anju is the longest and most intricate of all of the side plots in the game, a game which is already thematically about helping people. And a particular piece on the internet2 points out that in many ways Kafei is a mirror of Link himself. Kafei is the only character besides Link you get to control directly. The two are the same height and have the same base character model. They are both adults—of a kind—trapped in children’s bodies.
Only Kafei is not a hero. He’s what Link might have been.
Anyway, you should definitely check out Time’s End, especially if you already know the music from the game. And Theophany actually has two more volumes of Time’s End planned, so stay tuned!
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