The nights were longer in the tundra.
Link waited beneath the overhang of a cliff face, watching the blood moon rise. There was always a tension in the air before the moon reached its peak in the sky, something that he could taste, like the acrid aftermath of smoke. The event happened so often for him in the past, but here in the Hebra mountains, he had to take a breath.
He pulled up the collar of his coat, hunching down against the Rito feathers that were stitched inside. His hair was damp from the snow that twisted in mini cyclones in the air. Still, his clothes offered him warmth, even in the coldest hour of night.
There wasn’t much cover around the area. Full, stretching plains of white in all directions, with only a distant outer ring of mountains. Their dark surface barely made an imprint in the black sky, only distinguishable by their cover of snow and ice that coated their peaks. Link looked all around – the only structures that stood out from the plains were a few scraggly, lonely trees, and one of the shrines far off to the south.
He was on his way there before he saw the lurid shade of red casting over the ground.
Spokes of ember drifted past his face to swirl over the field, gathering like numerous clouds of flies, buzzing so incessantly that it disturbed him. The embers, the smoke, and the toneless thrumming sound coalesced until it became tangible. In one cloud’s place, a Lizalfos stood tall, or as much as it could from its natural, cowed stance. Its white scales already made it blend seamlessly into the snow.
Underneath crimson, more clouds gathered and transformed, bringing life back to monsters that he had slain just days before.
It was a long walk to the shrine. With a sigh, he took out his weapon.
The process gets repetitive. Only the cold, and the overbearing darkness of the hour, made Link hesitate. He could’ve rushed through the field before the monsters were resurrected, but hours of trekking through the tundra already made his legs ache. At least in the shrine, he could gather a few breaths of not-freezing air.
After sneaking around a Lizalfos, a short and merciless stab from his spear sent it flying. He had learned how to out-ambush these stealthy things, and with the make of his ancient weaponry, it already dissipated back into that same smoke and flying embers. Link didn’t know where it went, but the moon up high still had its red shade. He imagined the entity of that monster being sucked in by the moon, held within until the next time.
Another Lizalfos spotted him from the right and leapt towards him. Link swiped at its chest, and it fell just as easily as the other.
He slayed only a few, their bodies gone, and the smoke gone with them. Yet, every time, he came upon a few... relics of their existence.
A talon, a piece of its curled tail, or what looked like an organ or two.
None of these parts were good for eating, yet he put them in his bag anyway. (They were good for an elixir, surprisingly). Still, why did such things stay behind anyway?
The moon was back to its usual pale glow, and the night felt less cold than before.
Link carried those same monster parts when he ventured into Akkala. The strange thing – they never rotted or decayed. Two weeks after leaving the Hebra region, they stayed in his bag, still fresh and whole, though safely stored away from his food and potions.
He didn’t know what to do with them half the time, selling off the excess to curious merchants. Then he would travel the same roads, fight the same creatures, and gather back the same parts. Not like he didn’t mind the extra rupees or anything.
But the man he found in Akkala was different from other merchants. His structure looked a bit haphazard, as if he had strapped every crate of his wares onto its side to look like some bulging construct. Most traveling merchants he came across only carried around a satchel or, in Beedle’s case, a slightly oversized knapsack with a convenient table contraption. That and most merchants usually hung around the roads that snaked all over Hyrule, going into stables or villages.
This merchant hung out in the middle of nowhere. No regular travelers passed by this region; a valley of overarching canyons that even the most experienced of climbers would find difficult to traverse. The area was practically impassible without the use of a handy paraglider. Was the merchant even selling stuff?
Moving closer after a safe glide down, Link found it was indeed a merchant’s stall. But he didn’t recognize the wares. They looked… like masks?
The man in the stall was turned away and hunched over, intent on something. But Link’s footsteps finally caught his attention as he swiftly turned.
Link flinched, hands upraised slightly. What. What was that-
“Oh sorry, you startled me.” The man was short, and still very much hunched over. His skin seemed to be painted over with designs – one of them being the shape of sharp teeth over his lips, looking like fangs. A bit strange but… maybe not the strangest Link had seen.
“I’m not open yet. I still need to arrange…” The merchant started to look busy, putting away some items into hidden shelves. (More masks? Wait, was that a doll actually?) “My name is Kilton, by the way. I run the only known monster shop in all of Hyrule, called Fang and Bone! Welcome!”
Oh! Link was immediately interested. Sure, there was a weird feeling about the stall, like a strange otherworldly aura that made his nerves shiver a bit, but he had a weakness for shopping and already wanted to see what he could get. It was probably fine.
Then the man named Kilton started to sniff at him.
“That smell… Ohh, you’ve been mingling with monsters, haven’t you?”
“I’m sorry. That was very forward of me.”
Kilton waved away his previous question with some small embarrassment. That action also took Link aback. Did the man have claws? No, wait, those were his gloves… They were very convincing!
“Anyway, what I meant to ask you was uh…” Kilton looked to the left and right suspiciously, as if he could see through the enclosing walls of his stall. “…You into monsters?”
Still a weird question.
Going by the costume and a sneaking peek at the wares, Link assumed the man had a fascination for monsters. He didn’t want to offend him, and simply said he had come across plenty of monsters in his travels.
“How much do you like ‘em?”
Okay. He didn’t mention anything about liking them. But he rolled with it. He liked them plenty-
“I LOVE MONSTERS MORE THAN YOU DO!”
Link stumbled, his ears ringing from the shout. He had never heard any other Hylian emit such a high-pitched scream before. Kilton once again looked a bit embarrassed.
“I’m sorry. I just- I really like monsters.”
“I’ve been researching them all over Hyrule, but not many people seem to care for them. So, it’s just very exciting to come upon another monster fanatic besides me!”
If being a fanatic included slaying monsters whenever he came upon them, then… Link supposed he was some kind of a fan? Maybe?
He decided to just let Kilton believe what he wanted.
“While doing my research, I decided to make a living out of it! I discovered that even people who hate monsters always like a little souvenir of them and my work. It’s one reason why I started Fang and Bone, and hoping to run into people who could help this hobby of mine. Here’s my card!”
He gave Link said card. Black lettering that detailed the words ‘Fang and Bone, Premiere and Original Monster Shop’. It even had a tiny drawn picture of a… moblin? Like, a cute version of one, that was winking and its fingers held up in a victory sign.
After staring at it, he didn’t know that Kilton had been trying to signal him to get his attention until a full minute later.
“…I’m going to need that back actually. It’s the only one I have.”
Link promptly gave the card back.
“Anyway… I have some unique monster items that I’ve been wanting to sell to a true fan such as yourself! But in order to do that, we need to do an exchange. You see, while setting up my shop, I didn’t have as much time to collect monster parts as much as I used to.”
“After smelling the monster fluid off you, I figured you must have some monster parts to spare!”
Um, fluid? Link sniffed at his shirt. Well, he did just fight a pair of Bokoblins earlier. When was the last time he took a bath actually?
“Then once you give me the parts, I will give you some Mon in exchange! That’s my own special set of currency that can only be used with Fang and Bone!”
Why did he make his own currency though?
“Because I’m fighting against the establishment. It can never be inflated or taken away! It’s completely free from government control and abuse! This will destabilize the market!”
Link stared a bit, trying to make sense of what he just heard. He had never been good with economics…
“I’m joking. There is no government in Hyrule!”
Oh. He knew that!
“But the Mon currency part is true, however. Just give me your monster parts and you can get some Mon to buy what I have!”
Oh yeah! He had monster parts! A whole bunch of ‘em! Link, in an excited state, took out his overflowing bags of Moblin organs, Chuchu jelly, Bokoblin fangs, Hinox toenails (why did he keep that specifically?) Lizalfos tails, Lynel hooves and other monster memorabilia, dumping them all on Kilton’s counter.
The merchant looked ready to salivate.
“You are truly a big monster fan! I knew it!”
As long as Kilton wasn’t offended about Link killing the things he loved most, he supposed it was all okay.
The currency was simple, just small black rings with Kilton’s store name branded on both sides. He wasn’t sure how Kilton calculated how much each part was worth, though noted that items like the Lynel’s hooves sold off for more than stuff from a Bokoblin. Still, Kilton seemed to love each and every part he could get his hands on.
“With these many parts, you could start a monster shop all on your own! You would have been tough competition!”
Link started to feel flattered. Well, he had always been an avid collector… Even for things he didn’t really like.
Soon enough, Link had several handfuls of Mon currency, which opened to him a whole new world of monster items for monster aficionados. Kilton unearthed some of the wares he had previously hidden; a scary (but neat!) saddle for his horse, a tunic dyed a full black, and then the masks. The masks drew Link’s attention the most.
“These are the same masks that I used when conducting my research. It’s the only way to get close to them without making them hostile. You can really observe their daily life this way!”
Well, Link would rather have a mask to avoid them when he needed to. Another blood moon was coming soon, and he would rather not fight the same set of enemies again in his rush.
“Try it! Try it!” Kilton insisted, practically shoving a mask – one of a Bokoblin, with flappy ears of cloth and button eyes – into Link’s hands.
There were several stitches on it, and the eyes were kind of lopsided. Still, he had the inexplicable urge to put it on.
The first thing Link noticed was the smell. It was strong.
Kilton knew right away. “Monsters can’t be fooled just by looks alone. I’ve coated the masks with their fluids both inside and out! That way, they will have a harder time of distinguishing you from their own kind.” Then Kilton gave a small cough, muttering, “Disclaimer; monster masks not guaranteed to work in every situation.”
Link wasn’t sure he could even wear this for five minutes, let alone a full-on trek through a forest where monster settlements were placed.
Even so, he purchased that mask along with the rest of the set; a Moblin, a Lizalfos, and a Lynel mask. Apparently, a Hinox mask was a bit impossible for Kilton’s skillset.
“If you get me more parts, I’ll give you some more Mon!”
Link had already bought the saddle and tunic, along with the masks, (and a mop? Why did he even get this?), and didn’t see any other wares to be sold. Did Kilton have more things for him?
“Oh, not right now. I’m sold out!”
But Link still had all this Mon-
“I might have more in stock later! But now I have to close up. Thank you much!”
Link figured some time must have passed by, yet he could not recall how Kilton packed up his stall and left. All he knew was that he was standing where he was, wondering vaguely at the blank spot where Kilton had been in just moments before.
In Lanayru, there was no shortage of Lizalfos.
There were areas of twisting walkways in the cliffs, intervals of it marked by the Zora’s carvings and architectural fixtures. With the steady stream of the river below, along with the distant spray of waterfalls, it was a relaxing place – if one ignored the Lizalfos and their campfire by the rocks.
Link opted to wear the Lizalfos mask before the others; it didn’t cover the entirety of his face, and its scent didn’t overpower him as much. The imitation of a curled, lolling tongue to the right side of the mask, kept bouncing against his cheek as he walked up to them.
You can really observe their daily life this way! Kilton’s words hadn’t left his head in days, and it made him suddenly very curious to try it out.
No weapon out, and no aggressive stance. He could do this.
Two of the Lizalfos were near, one trying to roast a chicken leg over the fire, while the other kept snapping its long tongue at insects that edged too close, both of them seated on some logs. Far up ahead, Link could make out another Lizalfos crouched on the ground, scales blending with its surroundings. He figured it was probably best to focus on the ones right in front of him.
He didn’t try to stealth, instead stepping somewhat forcefully on loose gravel covering the paved road. One Lizalfos turned its head in a snapping motion, the armor atop its back clinking. The other stayed intensely focused on its cooking meal.
Link stood there, trying to keep the top part of his mask just over his eyes. Both Lizalfos and fake-Lizalfos stared at the other for quite a while.
Feeling awkward, Link then raised his hand in a cheesy wave. Hello!
That seemed to spring the Lizalfos to its feet. It scurried over to Link in such a rush, nearly making him reach for his weapon in reflex. But the Lizalfos didn’t attack, instead standing back up once in front of him, tilting its head every so often, its bright tongue flickering out of its mouth.
Link waved again. It worked the first time!
The monster didn’t wave back, but it made low chirps, its eyes roving in all directions. Then it started to hop on its feet, the scales slapping against the tough ground.
It looked at Link, then hopped again.
Link had no idea what this meant. Was it communicating? Or doing a dance?
It hopped once, twice, and then another, looking to Link afterwards.
Link mimicked the hopping. One, two, three. Right foot, left foot, both feet.
The Lizalfos chirped, then hopped again, this time a little more frantically.
Link joined it, jumping slightly to match the tempo.
Hey, this was kinda fun!
The Lizalfos certainly looked pleased at this. It chirped frequently, hopping a bit to the side, prompting Link to follow along. His mask was strapped tightly, though there were a few heart-stopping moments where he felt it edge to the side, making his fake-Lizalfos appearance look like it had a broken neck. So far, the monster didn’t seem to notice.
Then, with even more exuberance, it gestured for Link to join their campfire.
He didn’t really expect it to be this friendly! He went over, waving at the other Lizalfos that eyed the meat that was lodged on a stick over the fire. It flicked its tongue near him, but that was it.
The Lizalfos he had danced with was chirping at the other, its little grunts sounding a bit more aggressive than before. The other paid no attention, only shaking its head while it continued to cook.
So fast that even Link could barely comprehend it, his new friend nabbed the roasted chicken leg from its place over the fire, and thrust it at his face.
Eat! Eat! it seemed to be saying.
The other Lizalfos straightened up, and started hopping angrily.
Oh. Link held up his hands. How could he say he appreciated the gift but didn’t want to take it? Clearly the other monster was upset.
His newly-made friend ignored the other completely. Eat!
He had just eaten a bunch not too long ago anyway…
The second Lizalfos was chirping and grunting so much, it then even started to flail in anger. A waving arm knocked aside the chicken leg with such force that it flew over the cliff side to be dumped unceremoniously to the waters below.
All three (kinda) monsters stood still.
The dancing and once happy Lizalfos went into a rage. Hefting its three-pronged boomerang, it aimed a strike at the other monster. Both scaley things wrestled with the weapon, as well as each other. They knocked over the other gear and weaponry that were perched by the log; which included a spear, a rusty broadsword, and a wooden pot lid shield. All these things and more clattered to the ground, which caught the attention of the crouching Lizalfos up ahead, promptly un-camouflaging itself to see what the heck was going on.
As the two Lizalfos fought with each other, they upset the campfire, which caught onto the log, instantly setting it ablaze.
Link saw this as his cue to go.
The flames’ updraft gave him the opportunity to just fly out of there. With his paraglider, he let himself ascend from the fray. The once-hidden Lizalfos looked up to him in surprise, but he was already a long distance away. Probably a good thing he left, in more ways than one. His mask was starting to make his scalp itch, and he couldn’t wait to get the darned thing off.
The next day, he tried on the Bokoblin mask. This one covered most of his head, and let him see through the open mouth of the Bokoblin he was masquerading as. He was already getting used to its scent.
There was a shrine he missed on the Great Plateau and had decided to seek out. The issue was that Bokoblins thrived here, some with random campsites scattered, or a skull fortress here and there, as well as some monsters just wandering around.
It was almost nostalgic coming back after having spent quite a while in other parts of Hyrule. The long plains, yellow stalks swaying from the wind, and the bright sky with its curvature of blue and white were relaxing to look at – if one ignored the roving monsters.
It was then he encountered a pair of familiar Bokoblins.
He first came upon them when he woke up, his limbs still getting used to movement and adrenaline. Armed back then with only a wooden spear and no shield, he hadn’t provoked the monsters. They had been too busy to pay him any attention anyway. Both Bokoblins tried their best to hunt a hog. It had kept circling around them while they gave chase. They both had spears that they occasionally tried to thrust at their running meal, but always missed it by an inch. They would then continue going after it, as the hog continued to rush around the area in a circle.
In other times, Link had run into them again, and promptly slayed them when they noticed him. But after each blood moon, they’d come right back, and start their futile hunting yet again.
And they were definitely still trying to catch that hog.
Link ambled up to them, the sun beating down on his mask with an uncomfortable heat. He could hear the Bokoblins scream at the animal, their sounds occasionally sounding similar to the hog they were trying to catch. It was a plethora of squealing and oinking that was just all around fascinating to hear while he watched them go in an infinite circle. He wondered if Kilton ever came upon these two.
One Bokoblin noticed him, but only to give a passing glance. It went right back to the hunt, bumping against his fellow monster as they tried their best.
They were really trying their best.
The nice thing about this mask was that he could still see fairly well. When he took out his bow, he didn’t need to compensate too much for his vision, and could still aim. With barely a second thought, he shot a regular arrow at the hog. It went down immediately with a squeal.
The Bokoblins stopped, confused at first. One then decided to poke at the carcass with its spear. Seeing it not move, both monsters began to cheer. They did little dances, throwing up their spears in happiness and just narrowly avoided getting stabbed by their own weapons.
Did… did they not know that he had just killed it for them?
One carried the dead hog over its shoulder, rushing its way back to what he supposed was their camp. The Bokoblin who had noticed him earlier, started to wave at him, still so excited at its hunting accomplishment.
Oh. So some monsters did do that. Link waved back. Hello!
The Bokoblin kept waving erratically as it passed by Link, following the other monster as they got ready to prepare their meal. Was it asking for him to join them? He had never really thought of these monsters as being so hospitable. The Lizalfos had been the same… until it made the other one mad.
He watched them go over a ridge, one of the few outcroppings of the plains. They vanished from his sight.
Link wanted to experiment with something.
Reaching into his knapsack, he got out another mask, one of the Moblin variety. It was coated blue like most he had seen, with an imitation of its horn on the very top. The Moblin snout hung in front of his face, which made seeing things a little difficult. The mask also came with a kerchief that he wrapped around his face. The usual scent of these masks now became completely unnoticeable to him.
He rushed after the Bokoblins and came upon what he expected. Bokoblins seemed to like hanging out with the Moblins, or at least they were near each other a lot? Link would usually see them sit around their camp, conversing to each other with grunts and other noises. At the very least, they seemed companionable.
One such Moblin was seated on the ground, seemingly preoccupied with wrapping up two sticks together to form a crude wooden weapon. The Bokoblin with the hog was already starting a fire, though did so while still carrying the hog over its shoulder, so it wasn’t exactly an easy task.
Link tried to exude some confidence in himself and sat right next to the Moblin. The Bokoblins only paid him some slight attention. Yet the Bokoblin who had been ecstatic with him before kept looking out into the plains, looking a bit peculiar.
The Moblin turned to Link, long legs bent slightly, its gangling arms laid over them. Like the Bokoblins, it wore very little except perhaps a loincloth and some necklace made out of bones. It had markings on its skin, splashed with white paint. Link had noticed all these things before but never really gave thought to them. Was this a tradition of them? A custom? Maybe he should have tried to make his clothes mimic theirs for extra effect… He only still wore his blue shirt and trousers.
The Moblin continued to stare. Link thought it was probably a good time to wave. Hello!
It snorted in his face, the snout moving from the action.
Luckily the mask he wore took up most of the wet snot that splashed on him.
Link stayed at the camp longer than he anticipated. It was noon once the hog was finally roasted, to the point where it was completely burnt. (At least it had a smoky aftertaste!) The Bokoblins seemed nicer about sharing the meal with each other… though not about cutting up the pieces so that everyone could have a fair portion. It was more like, ‘everyone munch on this one slab of meat and hope you got a good bite out of it.’
He only wanted to be polite and took a bite off the corner that wasn’t covered in monster slobber. The kerchief over his mouth made the task slightly harder than it should have been.
The Moblin next to him barely ate anything however. It instead gnawed on a bone after said meal was over and done with. It still sat in the same position, knees bent and arms laid over them.
Link was bad enough at reading expressions, and trying to gauge this monster’s inner thoughts was a bit of a lost cause.
Just then, another Bokoblin, who ran in from the forest that was to the right of the plains, rushed over to their camp. It was grunting and shouting so much that even the Moblin had to shift its far-off attention to it.
It went up to the Moblin specifically, poking at its arm and gesturing back to the forest. Was it asking for help?
Maybe it was the effect of the mask, but Link could almost… pick out the words through the Bokoblin’s usually unintelligible grunting. Help! It lost! Help! You get! It not only poked that Moblin, but Link, too. Luckily its claws didn’t pierce his skin, but it kept insistently poking them both, always screeching Help!
The Moblin threw the bone down, then stood up. It was twice the height of the Bokoblins, maybe more. Link was instantly reminded of fighting these monsters, and how his neck would ache after looking up at them to dodge to their attacks. The Bokoblin immediately rushed back down the plain, with the Moblin following after it, as easy as that. The other monsters stayed seated on the ground, apparently stuck in a food coma. Even so, Link’s curiosity got the better of him.
It was a bit of a long walk, yet the Bokoblin never lost its panic. It circled around the slow-moving Moblin, poking at its sides again and again with grunts shouting Hurry! Hurry! Link wasn’t free from the insistent Bokoblin either, and was tempted to just run off ahead and see what exactly the monster was so upset about.
After a couple more prods, both Moblin and Bokoblin stopped at a certain tree once they were deeper in the forest.
Nestled between two branches was a bone-fashioned spear. It dangled, the wind picking up its weight slightly, but not enough to upend it to the ground. The Bokoblin pointed at the weapon, jumping up and down frantically!
It stuck! You get!
Link could only guess the Bokoblin had tried spearing at a bird and missed its aim. He was sure he could just climb it and retrieve the weapon easily, but then wondered if Moblins were even able to climb.
The Moblin in front provided his answer. It reached out with an arm, swiping at the air just underneath the weapon, yet could not reach it. It did a hop, just a tiny one, fingers brushing against the handle. Still, it could not reach. It made no effort to go to the tree to climb.
The Bokoblin kept yelling. You get! You get!
The Moblin slowly turned, facing the little creature.
It must have been because of the Moblin mask. He could hear this creature suddenly talk, its voice deep and clear.
No, it said. Then it grabbed the Bokoblin by the arm with its large hand. You get.
It hurled the Bokoblin straight at the tree.
Link flinched at the impact, one that made his head hurt. The branches were already flimsy and snapped in two once the Bokoblin collided with it. It then fell to the grass, boney weapon clanging against its stomach with a thump.
He was surprised that the monster didn’t even die!
The Moblin hefted the dazed monster to its feet, putting the spear into its hands. You got. The Moblin nodded. Good job.
Then it walked off back to the campsite.
The Bokoblin, after shaking its head, started to run after the slow ambling Moblin. It hurt! You bully! Complete with some flailing, but it didn’t do much else to the Moblin except to follow its path.
Link stared after them. Observing monsters like this was very interesting. No wonder Kilton enjoyed it.
He only went back to the monster campsite once it got dark. He needed a break from the confines of the masks, as well as some interaction with Hylians for once. The stable that was nearby also provided him a meal that wasn’t the result of monster cooking.
He had completely forgotten about the shrine he had initially set out to find today, and thought about heading there now. Link believed he’d had enough of monster observing for the time, but already found himself putting on the Bokoblin mask and heading in their direction.
He could at least just see what they were up to.
The Great Plateau’s nights were still warm, so it didn’t surprise him that he found the monsters there already asleep, limbs askew as they didn’t bother with cots or any kind of blanket. He walked gently, careful to not wake them up. Suddenly, he was reminded of when he would sneak up on sleeping monsters such as this, weapon raised high to strike.
The thought was suddenly very unpleasant to him.
Scratching at his mask, one of the Bokoblins stirred just then. It raised its head, spotting Link who was only a few feet away from their camp. The reflex to go dash into the camp and slay the monsters before they could fully react was overwhelming.
The Bokoblin started to hop. It started to dance! Did monsters just like to dance or something?
It went over to Link with a skip, talking with him so animatedly and so happily! The Bokoblin mask also made it easier for Link to understand it.
You here! We wait for you! You here!
It thrusted out its hand at him, holding what looked like… a piece of meat.
Wait, was that the meat from earlier? From the hog?
Did this Bokoblin save him a piece of meat, in case he came by?
For you! You eat! The Bokoblin kept hopping. Thank for getting food. Hunting hard.
Oh. So it knew?
Link dumbly accepted the gift. It was burnt pretty badly, and looked like it was covered in rock dust and other debris. He wondered where exactly the Bokoblin had been storing the meat this whole time.
With a deep breath, he plopped the food in his mouth, quickly swallowing it to avoid the taste. The Bokoblin nodded and hopped some more.
At least it was happy. Link felt oddly glad at that.
It would have been awkward to leave. The Bokoblin kept pointing at a certain spot on the ground – indicating the place where he would sleep. He followed its instructions and watched as the Bokoblin plopped back down on the ground, already fast asleep.
Link could have easily left, but it was nice having a place to sleep because of another’s kindness.
Maybe this was why Kilton liked monsters.
Link stretched and laid his back on the soft grass, hearing the monsters snoring all around him. Some he could hear fidget or mumble as if stuck in dreams. Did monsters really dream? He had never wondered at that until now.
The mask he wore also provided a comfy pillow for him, so he kept it on, looking at the night sky as he drifted off to sleep.
The problem was that Link tended to oversleep often. Didn’t matter whether he was encased within a shrine, or sleeping out in the open plains. The sunlight couldn’t rouse Link until he was good and ready.
He thought he could hear shuffling all around him, the grabbing of gear, the numerous grunts that peppered the Bokoblin language that he could somehow understand. (Snore too much! You wake him!) But Link was still stuck between both sleep and wakefulness, limbs moving to get into a better position. There was an itch on his cheek that he kept reaching for, yet he couldn’t quite get! Something kept blocking him.
With a groan, he lifted up whatever he was wearing around his head and scratched at said itch. Ahh, much better! He stretched his arms then, then blinked lazily up at the sunny sky.
To his surprise, there were a bunch of monsters circled around him and looking down.
Link felt the wind lift up his hair and then realized his mistake. He looked behind him, and found one of the Bokoblins lift up his mask in sheer horror.
It started to scream at it, then at him.
The Bokoblins and the lone Moblin all shouted, brandishing out their spears and swords and shields.
Link dodged an incoming sword strike, which dug into the dirt where his head once was. He rolled to his feet, unsheathing his own sword and quickly parrying another strike from a Bokoblin’s bone-crafted spear with his shield.
The Bokoblin holding his discarded mask continued to scream.
Link fell into routine with his sword slashes. One Bokoblin was throwing rocks at him from a distance, hitting his shoulder smartly. He sheathed quickly to unleash a lightning arrow. The monster screeched and spasmed before falling limp, its body darkening and then turning into smoke. The Bokoblin with the spear kept trying to sneak behind him for a strike. He somersaulted, nocked another arrow and struck the monster in the back of his head. Its body vanished just as easily as the first.
The Moblin needed more power than what his bow and arrow could muster. He unsheathed his sword again, parrying away the club strike. He clenched his teeth as he did so, feeling them rattle from the impact. But the Moblin was unbalanced, standing on one foot. He took his moment, stabbing straight into its stomach. Its body blackened before he could even see the wound form.
Behind him, he heard another screech.
The Bokoblin threw his mask straight at Link, who dodged it clumsily, unexpecting it. The monster then started throwing punches, confusing him even more. One fist brushed against his head, another got a good hit at his chest. He backed away hastily.
The monster’s face was full of fury. Its eyes were bright and hideous and-
Was it crying?
Link tripped over one of the discarded weapons from a slain monster. His back hit hard against the ground. The Bokoblin leapt toward him, mouth wide open in another screech.
Link did a quick slash, the sword cutting through the monster’s neck. For a split second, he saw it separate from the body, the brief flash of blood imprinted in the air. But then the entirety of the body became pure shadow, until there was only smoke and embers left.
Link breathed hard, then sat up.
The campfire were still there, though the wood was scattered across the ground after the fight. He saw the leavings from the monsters he had been hanging out with not too long ago; a fang upended in the grass, a horn that slowly rolled off a rock ridge to fall to the side, and even the remains of monster guts.
For the first time since he woke, Link felt sickened.
It took him a moment to stand up and gather his senses. Robotically, he picked up what supplies he could, such as spare weapons, bent shields, and monster parts that Kilton was so fond of. He put the parts in his knapsack, his hands coated in what he assumed was blood, yet he could not see it. It remained clear on his hands.
He would need to wash up, probably at a nearby river.
He left the campsite quickly.
There was a gorge, just to the west of Goron City, that held only bare rocks and the occasional scuttering of small lizards. It was no place for regular travelers, but stories of treasure and rare gems that peppered the mountains – of diamonds and opal and amber – were spread far and wide, attracting such treasure seekers. There were the usual perils of unbearably cold nights, and little resources for food, as well as the steep cliffs to the side that ended in darkness. Still, the solitude of the place could rest someone’s mind – if one ignored the Lynel who had made it his territory.
Link had learned that you could never ignore a Lynel.
It roamed the barren place, stalking the grounds with an even pace of its hooves. Out of all the monsters, it had the most advanced weaponry; a bow that shot three arrows at once, a massive crusher that only the strongest could wield effectively, and a shield that took the brunt of heavy damage before it could ever break.
However, it wasn’t there right now. Just its weapons and a spare hoof or two that Link was already gathering up.
The man by the Dueling Peaks stable had told him that another blood moon would happen tonight.
He had planned to fight it again soon afterwards, although his body was already tense and aching. The most he could do was stand off very, very far off the side, hidden between some rock outcroppings, and drink away an elixir that would give him the adrenaline he yearned for.
He tried his best to ignore the dread that came with the appearance of the blood moon. After so many times, he should have gotten used to it by now. Yet his eyes stayed rapt on the sky, feeling the energies gather up and revive all the monsters he had slain in the past.
The campsite was still there, way out in the Great Plateau. Maybe they’d appear there, asleep on the ground, unaware of anything ever happening.
Shadows and smoke coalesced in the distance, the Lynel roaring before it even fully reappeared. Its front hooves lifted in the air, and then it went back to a silent stalking, maneuvering around rocks that were strewn around the ground.
Link suddenly had an idea.
He hadn’t touched the masks ever since his time with the Bokoblins and the sole Moblin. He went back to his quest of looking for shrines, gathering the power he needed to defeat Calamity Ganon. He focused intensely on that instead of minor things, even to the point of only speaking with merchants and other passerby just minimally. If they had a favor of him, he no longer felt up to fulfilling it.
But he remembered one other mask he never tried on.
The Lynel mask might have been the most well-crafted of the bunch. Its mane seemed to be made of the actual material from the monster, with high-quality metal fashioned into its horns. It still had button eyes, but everything else, from the meticulously arranged fur to the curvature of its nose, made the mask the most authentic Link had ever seen.
He had thought about bringing his horse along, to mimic the horse legs of an actual Lynel, but he didn’t want to risk his steed for what was simply a curiosity. Besides, if the mask worked as well as the others, it should still fool the Lynel plenty.
Watching the Lynel go back to its usual route, Link took another breath and plopped the mask over his head. It was more encompassing. He could not ignore the scent in this space. And he could barely see.
Lynels, he figured, were probably the hardest to fool.
He walked over to the monster cautiously, hands still near his weapons. It heard his footsteps despite the huge distance between them. It turned, standing tall, fists clenched and its muscled arms looking ready to break a tree in half. Yet, it didn’t make a move to strike, or roar out a battle-cry. It simply stood and waited for him.
Link continued his slow walk until he was only a few feet away. It wasn’t the first time he had been up close to such creatures, but usually had done so with a sword ready in his hand.
After some silence, he raised his arm. Hello!
The Lynel bent its head, sniffing the air around him. Link stood still, trying to dissuade the slow epiphany of just how small he was compared to the Lynel. He only came up to the creature’s knee! Could it really be fooled by just this mask?
Then the Lynel knelt, until Link’s head came up to the monster’s chest instead.
This wasn’t what he expected.
“Why do you wear something so ridiculous?”
Link was speechless.
The nights in this area was freezing, despite the lack of snow. He shivered even with his thick clothing and insulation the mask provided him. From what little he could see, the Lynel kept looking down at him, face hard and unimpressed. Its eyes glowed red, the same shade of the blood moon that brought it life.
“There is nothing you can hope to observe from me. I spend my days and nights here, wandering the stones for prey and rest. Even the little gremlin realized that.”
Link could only guess at who he meant.
“Do you not think I don’t know who you are, hero? I am only here to serve as fodder for you. I am only here to give you the spoils of your victory. Each and every death I bring to you strengthens your blade, and despite what I learn of your weaknesses, you learn of mine much more quickly.”
His deaths? Wait, he remembered?
“Indeed, I do. The moon does not take away our memories. We live and we die, and we are revived again due to his wishes. We are meant to stop your path, nothing more.” The Lynel snorted. Sharp teeth curled from its lips. “We remember our ends, yet we stay here and wait for you. Some try to make a life on their own, but it is useless.”
Link remembered the fortresses, the camps, the rings of monsters crouching near a fire to get some much-needed warmth.
“I will not waste such time. I only hunt and rest and wait for you. Perhaps one day, you will die by my hand.”
Link saw the motion before anything else.
He dodged to the side as the crusher plunged into the ground, upturning sharp rock and dirt. With a flurry of strikes, he slashed at the Lynel’s side, hearing him roar in pain and anger each time.
It ended quickly, too quickly. He had never defeated a Lynel so fast, yet it had already fallen, dropping its weapons to the ground.
“This, I will remember as well. Next time, let me enjoy a ray of sunshine before you seek me out again.”
It dissipated into smoke, drifting back into the sky where traces of red still lived.
He found Kilton again once he came upon Tarry Town. His shop was set up underneath the bridge that led into the newly constructed town, a location where it would have been hard for most regular travelers to even get to.
Again, unless one had a paraglider.
Link glided down to him, the moon above full, but without any ominous hue. The stall looked as haphazard and eerie as ever, with an air around it that made the night even darker. Kilton was busy arranging his wares, hood up, probably to avoid the chill.
Link made every step of his as loud as he possibly could; a large splash in the water that surrounded the lone landmass of the village, a sharp shift against the graveled ground, and even a cough from Link’s throat. Nothing. Not until he was a few inches away from the counter did Kilton notice and started to scream.
It was a high-pitch scream, of course.
“Oh, sorry! You startled me. I was busy setting up shop.”
Link’s ears were still ringing once Kilton was showing off new wares, some of them the familiar masks that Link himself had purchased not too long ago.
“Business has been booming very recently! I’ve met so many other monster fans, I’m thinking of branching out my business! Everyone’s been bringing me so many monster parts that I was able to make some new masks! I’ve tried my hand at a Hinox one, though I am still lacking enough of its toenails so I can correctly mimic its scent…”
He wasn’t really listening. Link was preoccupied with retrieving a bag of his – one that he had separated from the rest so that he could complete his task faster. He plopped the bag atop of Kilton’s counter in finality.
The strange merchant looked at said bag in confusion. He peered into its contents, and just came back with a more bewildered expression. “…Are you returning these?”
“Are you unsatisfied with them? I must say, that at the time of purchase, I have made no guarantees that the masks would work at a 100% rate. Environmental hazards and Hylian error is bound to happen, but as long as you wore the masks correctly, there should have been no problem!”
That was not the reason why he was returning them.
“Oh. Then… what is it?”
Link did not want to dwell on the reasons. He just wanted to return the masks and lighten his burden. It was better this way.
“…I do have a no-return policy, unfortunately.”
Another blood moon passed by. The same monsters appeared in the same place.
In the Hebra mountains, the Lizalfos crouched and waited, merging itself with the snow. But there was the tell-tale twitching of its eyes, the flick of a bright tongue that clashed with the overall white. In its right hand, a spear was gripped tight. Its curled tail slightly extended, but nothing else.
There was no reason for Link to be here. He had already beaten the trials of the shrine nearby. Yet the words of the Lynel stayed rooted in his mind. Did this Lizalfos remember his own death? Did it resent? Or did it simply not care?
The monster turned, still occasionally twitching. It had spotted Link off to the side of the road, seeing through Link’s own attempt to blend in with his surroundings. But even his clothes, stitched with the warm Rito feathers, was obvious against the backdrop of pure white.
The Lizalfos didn’t attack at first. Instead, it hesitated. Did it recognize him?
Link slowly held up a hand in the air, dark gloves nearly lost in a flurry of windy snow.
The Lizalfos started, then scurried across the snow banks to rush towards him.
Instinctively, Link took out his bow and arrow and let his shot fly. It struck the creature in the head, instantly killing it.
There were the usual remains left. Curled tails, some guts, and the weapon it used.
He had enough of those in his pack.
Link walked on.