The sun’s kind gaze fell upon a large castle, bathing it in rich, warm light. Thick pillars held the building up, strong against the weight of concrete and granite. There were no clouds to be seen in the sky, no feathery wisps of puffed-up H2O floating about. Footsteps sounded. Click! Click! Clack! Each tap as quick as a snap, or a blink, someone strutted out the castle’s main door.
“Ness! Toon Link!” The character, a young boy wearing a scarlet shirt, shouted out impatiently. “Let’s go already!”
A voice rang from a nearby window. “Coming, coming! Just one sec.”
The boy scowled, a tetchy look spread across his face. “I know for a fact that even Ganondorf isn’t as slow as you, and he’s at about the speed of a snail. Now, hurry up, or me and TL will go without you!” He glanced around, foot tapping against the viridescent grass. “Where is Toon Link, anyway?”
“I’m here, I’m here!” As if on cue, another small child rushed out of the castle, keeping his hat from flying off as he sprinted forward. “Sorry, Villager! I was just grabbing my sword…”
“It’s fine.” Villager sighed through his nose. “I was just waiting - for about five years - for Ness here.” He nodded toward the open window with a snort.
“Okay, fine…” The third kid of the group hopped through the window. “No need to get all crazy about it. Keep your face on.” He glanced at the red-shirted child. “Where are we going, anyway?” Toon Link nodded in agreement.
“We’re going… ON AN ADVEN-CHA!”
The other two responded with silence.
“What?” Villager blinked in confusion. “This is the part where you’re supposed to be cheering. And… well… Being excited.”
“Er… Where, exactly, are we going,” Toon Link questioned. “I mean, we might be excited, if you told us the place…”
“Alright, alright.” The red-shirted kid grabbed both of their arms and rushed off. “Come with me.”
The cobalt sky slowly darkened as the trio maneuvered through the meadow, although it was only 2:57 in the afternoon. As it faded into quite a lovely shade of navy blue, they neared a thick forest.
“We’re here,” Villager announced.
The area was filled with dark pines that scraped the air at their gnarled tips; the ground, verdant with species of unclassified undergrowth. The whole area seemed to glow with a black light, and a feeling of merciless malice gripped at anyone who neared.
“Oh.” Toon Link swallowed, unsure what to say. “Uh… This is where you had in mind? Are… you sure?” He tugged at his collar anxiously.
The mayor of Smashville glanced at him, eyes practically saying themselves, Would I lead you all the way over here just to gawk at the trees?
After a moment’s hesitation, Ness nodded. “Okay! Let’s go, then!” He strode swiftly ahead, quickly bypassing the rest of the group. “If we’re gonna explore, we’re gonna explore!”
Villager grinned. “Come on, Toon Link. What’re you so worried about? Two of us are warriors, and the other has a bowling ball, so what could possibly go wrong?” The midget then turned before his friend could say anything, and scrambled away, leaving his partner in the umber-tinted dust.
“We might just get kidnapped by a bird,” the Hylian muttered pessimistically, but he, too, was soon rushing off to join his friends.
The sky was covered completely by the trees, blotting out any trace of sunlight. Every twist and turn, a growl or hiss would make them swivel around, weapons in hand.
They turned, and found themselves at a dead end inside the inky maze of trees.
“Smooth move, Villager,” Ness grumbled, “great job leading us through.”
“Hey! It’s not my fault you were so anxious to go inside.”
The two kids started yelling at each other, their quarrel growing by the minute. Toon Link bit his bottom lip, thinking, wondering, pondering about how to stop their argument. “Er, why don’t we all just calm down, and-”
The group was suddenly frozen, unable to move, with hair standing on end. They could tell that the creature who had emitted the sound wasn’t exactly a friend.
“Redeads,” Toon Link gasped.
The clay creatures emerged from the darkness, moaning and growling hungrily. Sepia-stained feet slapped the ground as they neared.
Villager gulped. “Looks like we’re gonna have to... fight!” The midget forcefully broke out of the spell, shuddering nervously. “Come on!”
The Hylian boy grasped for his sword, unsheathing it. “You’re not going to hurt anyone!” His weapon glimmered, even in the inky blackness of the woods.
He rushed toward the beasts, slicing at them in perfect time. Three disappeared in swirls of indigo and blue, as another latched onto him. “Ouch!”
“Erk!” Ness jerked forward, snapping out of the stunning spell. “Stay away from him!” The 12-year-old’s hand began to glow with a vermillion light, warming the air like a miniature sun. It seemed quite out of place compared to the darkness, but no one noticed until he yelled, “PK FIRE!” Flames exploded from his palms, smoldering the enemies. Surprised, they fell off his weakened friend.
Villager ran forward, bowling ball in hand. “My turn!” Narrowing his cartoony eyes, the mayor of Smashville rolled the ball, as if the battle was no more than a sporting competition. It rolled over the Redeads like bowling pins, knocking them all over. “Strrrrike!” Grabbing his net, he grabbed one of them and swung it around, letting it go at just the right time. The creature was still spinning as it slammed into a nearby tree.
Toon Link sighed in relief as the last Redead disappeared, slayed by his sharp blade. “Finally…” He turned to his buddies warily. “Maybe we should leave soon…”
Ness nodded in agreement. “Yeah. And I’ll lead the way.” Shoving Villager stubbornly as he passed, he marched forward and away.
“Oh, that Ness…” Villager grumbled, but hesitantly followed, beckoning to his friend to stay with them.
The trio could barely see a thing. There was no sun, no stars, no source of light to guide the way. Darkness enveloped them, curling around their feet and biting at their heels. The three of them huddled together, careful not to be separated from the rest of the group.
“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Toon Link glanced around, as if he could see something through the inky blackness. “I… don’t think we’re making progress.”
Villager groaned. “We can’t think anything as long as we’re here! For all we know, we’ve been going in circles! Some leader you are, Ness.”
“Why are you blaming this on me,” his teammate hissed, “when you were the one that brought us here in the first place?! I’ve noticed that you like to point things at others, just like a little kid.”
“I am NOT A LITTLE KID!”
An argument flared up, once more, between the two of them. Toon Link facepalmed before stepping between his buddies. “Guys, it’s fine, just calm down…”
“I’ll have you know that I’m a mayor, and I could… uh… sue you, or something!”
“Well, they’re not gonna arrest someone who SAVED THE WORLD!”
The Hylian swallowed. “Why don’t we compromise, or something…”
But the other two were ignoring him completely. “That’s a one time job, buster,” the mayor growled. “And it doesn’t always pay off.”
“Yeah, and what exactly is exciting about owning a town? Whaddya do all day, pay bills?”
“ENOUGH,” Toon Link bellowed. “YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN RIGHT N-”
Villager hung off the edge of a cliff, one that didn’t seem to be there a moment ago. “H-h-help!”
The kids, forgetting their bickering momentarily, stepped back in surprise. Ness blinked, confused. “W-when was that there?”
“Well, I don’t know! But help me up!” His fingers tried to grip the craggy ground, but there was unfortunately no sign of stone jutting out, no place to hold on.
Toon Link nodded, determination spread across his face. “Hang on!” He grabbed his friend’s hand and tried to help him up. “Ness, a little help…” The hero of winds staggered, almost falling down himself.
Grabbing Villager’s other hand, Ness shouted, “Three, two, one… now!”
With a jerk, the mayor was back on the ground.
“T-thank you! I could’ve… I could’ve died!”
Toon Link smiled. “Anything for a friend. And… I think we’ve all learned that whenever you two start arguing, someone almost gets killed.”
“Heh, I guess you’re right,” Ness replied cheerfully. “Well, no one’s died yet, so we might as well get out of here. I mean, before we get mad again.”
The three of them cheered and laughed, not at all aware of the huge creature floating over the forest, talons outstretched, ready to capture its prey.
The three boys gasped, startled. Within a millisecond, the two heroes were captured by a peculiar creature.
It was skinny, so skinny you could see its ribs jutting out of its body. The skin of the beast was an ugly shade of grayish-purple, and its eyes glowed amber with rage.
“Ridley?!” Villager inhaled sharply. “How much trouble can three kids cause in one day?!?” He growled suddenly, taking out a pack of disposable balloons. “Slow him down! Don’t let him fly away!”
Ness’ face was filled with determination, the same look Toon Link had worn just a bit ago. “I don’t plan to!” Lightning crackled as he yelled, “PK THUNDER!” A sphere of light formed over the 12-year-old’s head, and began to fly around.
“Hey, be careful,” the hero of winds cried as it narrowly missed him.
Ridley growled, batting away the attack as if it were a leaf, floating from the sky at the dawn of autumn. He soared upward, breaking through the expanse of trees and into the fresh daylight, with Villager following close behind on crimson balloons.
The raptor stuck out a sharp wing, popping them, and he fell.