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"Lost Tales of Majora's Mask"

Lost Tales of Majora's Mask

By: Calredic

You have, perhaps, heard of Majora’s mask? It was an artifact of immense evil, so powerful that it eventually threatened the entire world. The story of how it took advantage of a lonely prankster named Skull Kid, using him to call the moon itself down from the sky to destroy the village of Clock Town, the land of Termina, and possibly the very planet—and how this seemingly unstoppable plan was somehow undone by a mysterious, green-clad young traveller in three mere days—is among the best-known in the land. Part of the tale’s popularity no doubt lies in the aura of mystery surrounding both its hero and villain, as very little is known of either. It is known that the green-clad boy narrowly averted the catastrophe by summoning four legendary giants to hold the descending moon in place... but to this day, no one can say how he seemed so intimately familiar with the people and customs of a land in which he had never been seen before, or why he departed without even waiting to hear the thanks of the people he’d saved. Some claim he was a hero of reknown from a far-away land, but in Termina even his name remains unknown.

The greatest enigma in this story, however, is the strange and terrible artifact that brought the whole situation about. What was Majora’s mask? Where did it come from? Why did it do the things it did? To seek the answers to these questions, we must turn to the ancient legends of many lands—but be warned: there are few legends darker than those surrounding Majora’s mask.

Nearly a thousand years ago, in the lands far south of Termina where all is swallowed and smothered in thick jungle, there lived a tribe of powerful warriors. Though history has long since forgotten their true name, it is known that their entire way of life was based around brutality and bloodshed. They constantly attacked the tribes around them, and worshipped a dark, violent god, Majora. Majora was a tripartite deity said to possess three seperate “aspects” representing the three most vital elements of battle: guile, frenzy, and wrath. Believing that their god demanded constant battle, this now-nameless tribe travelled to wherever there were others to wage war upon. All of their male children were raised from birth to be either warriors or shamans. The role of the warriors was to fight and kill the tribe’s enemies in Majora’s honor, and many weaker tribes were wiped out by their fanatical zeal for battle. Which children were chosen as shamans was based on the phase of the moon during the time of their birth, for that was where the tribe believed the great Majora resided. The shamans’ role was to interpret and serve the will of their god, as well as to support the warriors by invoking Majora’s power against their enemies. At the zenith of each full moon, the shamans preformed unspeakable rituals to curse the tribes around them with famine, disease, and weakness. Many of these rites involved human sacrifice, as it was believed that only blood could slake Majora’s terrible thirst. The tribe’s warriors provided the shamans captives for this purpose.

The story of Majora’s mask begins in the midst the tribe’s vast charnel field, where the bodies of their countless slain foes and sacrifices were piled up so that their god might gaze down at night and see how well the tribe had served Him. The area, once an oasis of green tranquility, had become so saturated with gore and filth that no plant seemed willing to grow in its corrupted soil. But according to legend, one lone tree came to flourish there. Perched atop a small hill, it put out dazzling scarlet-and-yellow blossoms that added a layer of sickly sweetness to the field’s putrid pall of decay. The tree grew quickly and vibrantly, almost as if its roots thirsted for the blood that had seeped into the soil around them.

One morning, when the tree was in full bloom, the high shaman of the tribe came to inspect the area. He noticed this tree’s affinity for the putrescence surrounding it, and was suddenly struck by the urge to use it to craft a fitting tribute to his revered god.

From the heartwood of that tainted tree, he carved a ritual mask bearing the visage of the first aspect of Majora—guile—just as it had been shown to him in his visions; he even painted its surface with dyes created from the tree’s blossoms. The task required great effort and skill, but the old man worked ceaselessly until it was complete, refusing to stop even for food or rest. Finally, donning the finished mask, the high shaman marveled to find that he could see normally while wearing it, even though it had no eye-holes—it was as if the mask’s huge, leering yellow eyes were his own. Through it, he watched the first light of dawn break through his window, signalling the end of his third straight day of toil. He took this as a sign that Majora approved of his tribute, and apparently dubbed his work “Majora ai Barstai”—literally, “the mask of Majora,” or “Majora’s mask.” Those were the words found scrawled in the dirt floor of the old man’s hut when several of the tribe’s lower shamans found him there, lifeless from exhaustion, clutching the freshly-completed mask triumphantly to his sunken chest.

Three days of mourning and ritual were held in honor of the previous high shaman, and then the tribal elders chose his successor from among his disciples. The rank of high shaman was a lifelong position, and only those born on a full-moon night could hold the title—usually, they were chosen while still very young. In this case, the tribe’s new high shaman was twelve years old. He decreed that from that day on, the sacred relic his mentor had given his life to create, Majora ai Barstai, would be worn by him and all of his own successors during every ritual—in honor of its creator, and of the all-powerful Majora, who had so clearly guided his hand in shaping it. And so, the mask became an integral part of the tribe’s dark ceremonies, and was worn by many generations of high shamans. The story of its creation took on a near-mythic quality among the nameless tribe’s members—while the members of each and every other tribe throughout the land prayed they would never see Majora ai Barstai staring down at them as they lay bound to a blood-caked altar, their enemy’s ritual chant booming in their ears...

Centuries passed. During that time, the mask’s burning yellow eyes drank in the sight of countless atrocities; its rough-hewn surface was spattered with the blood of unthinkable numbers of innocents. And through it all, its power seemed to grow—eventually, rather than simply “seeing through” it, those who wore Majora’s mask began to feel that their senses were actually heightened while they had it on... somehow, putting it on seemed to make their thoughts, and even their movements, flow much more smoothly. The nameless tribe’s members gradually began to feel a quiet, gnawing dread at the way the mask seemed to... affect... the high shamans while they had it on—especially the younger ones. Over time the tribal elders, and even some of the lower shamans, began to feel the same way. Finally—almost ten full generations after its creation—the nameless tribe had come to fear what had once been their most prized relic. It was becoming more and more apparent that their current high shaman, a young boy of ten, was acting less and less of his own accord when he wore the mask... which he seemed to find excuses for doing more and more often. During the cursing rituals, his body at times seemed to glide rather than walk, and he was prone to sudden outbursts of strange, high-pitched laughter. Even when he wasn’t wearing the mask, he began to act brooding and secretive. Some of the lower shamans reported that on more than one night they had heard the boy, alone in his darkened hut, carrying on hushed conversations with someone only he could hear. No one had been able to tell of what he spoke.

Not even the tribe’s most hardened warriors could meet the mask’s unblinking gaze without flinching anymore; some even claimed to hear a quiet voice, murmuring meaninglessly, in the back of their mind when it was nearby. As rumors spread and fear began to mount, the tribe pressured their elders to convince the high shaman to dispose of the mask. When they attempted to do so, the high shaman flew into a rage, adamantly refusing to listen. He reminded them, in a threatening tone, that the mask was their god’s most sacred relic, and that to disrespect it in any way was an affront to Majora Himself. Ultimately, it was only the fear of invoking Majora’s wrath that kept the tribe from attempting to destroy the mask. Things were allowed to continue as they were until the next month’s full-moon ritual...

While no one really knows what happened on that fateful night, when the moon shone full and red in the humid jungle sky, one story concerning the event has survived. According to it, early in the day following the full moon, it became apparent to the other tribes in the area that something odd was going on at the nameless tribe’s village. Their scouts were finding none of the signs of normal activity—no patrols, no foragers, no hunting parties... nothing but an unsettling silence. The elders of three tribes met to discuss what should be done, and finally, late in the afternoon, curiosity about their enemy’s sudden inactivity overcame their fear of an ambush or ruse. They banded their ten best warriors together to mount an investigation of their enemy’s village.

The closer the group drew to their goal, the more unnaturally silent the jungle seemed to become... and, upon taking their first glance at the nameless tribe’s village, it was suddenly clear why everything was so quiet there: nothing remained of it other than torn, broken bodies, and scattered rubble. A terrible, bloody massacre had torn through the nameless tribe’s once-mighty village, as if some unstoppable army or crazed pack of beasts had swept through it with the sole aim of slaughtering every last man, woman, and child. Every single one of the village’s nearly one-thousand residents had died between sunset and sunrise.. and even more disturbing was that there were no visible signs that any attempt at a defense had been made. Judging by what evidence remained, the investigators concluded that the tribe had been in the midst of one of their dark ceremonies... when some unstoppable force had suddenly fallen upon them, butchering them to the last person before they could get to their weapons or even raise an alarm. The only clue the attackers had left behind was a bizarre message, hastily smeared in blood across the ground in the center of the village: “Lexa u malien ean. Gudu beshai retu”—literally, “I’m the hero. They just ran from me.” Shaken to the core and fearing for their own villages, the group quickly made its way back to report to the elders. They all prepared for the worst... but no attack ever came.

Eventually, when things began to feel safe again, the remaining tribes returned to the village ruins to investigate further. It was a macabre task, but they felt it had to be done. After a closer inspection of the area, yet another layer was added to the mystery of the nameless tribe’s destruction: the body of young boy, dressed as a shaman, was discovered a short distance away from the village. The child’s neck had been savagely broken. He was caked from head to toe in dried blood and had wide, staring eyes... and beside his corpse lay the dreaded Majora ai Barstai. Sensing an immense evil power within the mask, the shamans of every tribe in the land worked together to devise a ritual that could destroy it—but every attempt met with failure. The mask seemed impervious to physical damage, refusing to burn and shattering or repelling every weapon that struck it. Purification rituals, no matter how powerful or elaborate, only seemed to make its power surge even higher... its eyes would shimmer like twin moons, almost as if it were mocking the efforts of those attempting to destroy it. Finally, in sheer desperation, the shamans decided to implore the intervention of the most powerful god they knew: the god of Righteous Fury. This deity, whose name no legend tells, was rarely invoked due to the terrible risk involved—it was believed that only the most courageous and selfless of people could curry His favor, and that He would exact a fierce and terrible price from any He found lacking. Still, the shamans felt that they had no choice. The ceremony of invocation took days to complete. The moment that its final words and gestures were preformed, pandemonium ensued—a blinding ball of white light began to grow from the body of the high shaman who had directed the ritual, rapidly expanding towards the altar where Majora’s mask lay. An otherworldly howl pierced the air as the light engulfed it, followed by the sound of rushing winds and a strobe of light... and then, all fell silent. The raging fires that had burned behind the eyes of the mask had dimmed to mere embers... and all of the assembled shamans lay dead. Apparently unable to destroy the power of Majora’s mask, the god of Righteous Fury had sealed it away... and He had exacted a grim fee for the effort. The tribes did their best to hide the mask away, and fervently prayed that the power that slept within it would never again be awakened.

But that which sleeps is never truly dead. Though there are no surviving tales that tell of how it was found or by whom, the mask resurfaced several centuries later in a faraway land, its evil seemingly rekindled. It was worn by a great conqueror, who used its power to lead his army across a vast land in a string of crushing victories... only to finally turn on his own men, slaughtering thousands of seasoned fighters in the span of a single night. From that point on, it becomes difficult to trace what path the mask followed as it exchanged hands throughout the years. It apparently never stayed with anyone for long. Even though it was marked by death, sorrow, and destruction wherever it went, among the many abilities it bestowed on its wearers was no less than complete invulnerability to physical damage—and thus, despite its evil nature, Majora’s mask was able to attract any who desired power, for whatever reason. And, without exception, every person who put it on had their thoughts gradually twisted by the mask’s own, until they had lost all sight of their original goal and sought only chaos and ruination. There are tales of good men and women, who wished to use the mask’s power to benefit humanity, being corrupted into mindless killers—and tales of killers who used it to indulge their twisted desires to their black hearts’ content. In the end, Majora’s mask turned on each and every one of them. It grew in power with every life it took, and as the centuries progressed, its existence blackened the pages of a hundred lands’ history books, as lives fell to those under its influence like stalks of wheat caught in the swath of a well-honed scythe.

Finally, it came into the possession of a mysterious travelling mask collector, about whom very little is known. Recognizing the terrible power the mask could unleash upon the world, this collector carried it with him as he searched for a way to safely dispose of it. But one one unfortunate day, as he passed through a deep forest southeast of the land of Hyrule, he was waylaid by a mischievous imp named Skull Kid. As he rooted through the collector’s massive backpack, searching for anything interesting, he began to hear a quiet, murmuring voice in his mind. The voice told him it wanted to be his friend, and Skull Kid, lonely as he was, believed it. He freed Majora’s mask from the collector’s pack, and, laughing happily, skipped off into the forest with his new-found prize. When the collector awoke he quickly realized what had happened, and began frantically searching the land for the missing mask...

The rest of the story—of how Skull Kid was seduced by the power of the mask and attempted to destroy Termina, and of the young adventurer who appeared and averted the disaster—you should already know. In the end, Majora’s mask was returned to the strange travelling collector, apparently cleansed of the evil that had dwelt inside it for so long. There are still a great many mysteries that surround the mask, many of which will likely never be solved. The nature of the dark power that grew within it... the influence it exerted over the people and places around it... these may not be things the human mind can ever really fathom.

Ultimately, perhaps that is for the best.