My sword hissed as it clashed with the ground and sank into the earth. I let out a breath and felt my lungs sting with desperation. The world became slow to me as I turned and saw that Zelda was falling into my arms. Blood was decorating her face and blossomed as bright as roses. "Link," she panted and collided with my skin. "Zelda what happened to you?" She winced in pain as if my words were hurting her even more. "Save us Link...please..." my face became flushed with worry as I studied her eyes. Before I could ask her another question the life faded from her eyes and she became stiff. Her last breath had been stolen, but by what I didn't even know. My tunic was filthy and clung to my skin drenched in sweat. I raised the master sword and felt a sense of dread fall over me. "This isn't supposed to be this way..." my words rang in the dead of night without any use. I lowered Zelda gently and took off my cape gingerly. Placing it over her body I watched as the fabric conformed to her body's curves. It was a sight that chilled my bones as I never expected to see it. My mouth became dry as I looked around unsure of what my next move should be. I began to move forward and felt my sword slosh with my cautious steps. The dark night swallowed everything around me and caused nervousness to eat away at me. Even with the master sword, the blade strong enough to cut through any evil, couldn't penetrate the thick veil before me. Minutes passed until it became harder and harder to take a step forward. What was I searching for exactly? Someone, to help me with Zelda? I didn't have a clue actually. I could have been walking in the wrong direction for hours at a time without knowing it.

As if on cue, a bright ball of light appeared before me in the dark. I reached out for it naturally and found it to be the size of my hand. It whisked away, as if it was alive, before I could touch it. Despite missing my grasp heat was radiating from the source and it made me crave it more. I watched in awe as it moved forward. I followed it renewed with fresh energy only to find it stop after a short while. My feet felt groves in the ground as I drew closer to it. "What are you little guy?" I approached the light until it was merely an inch away from my hand. When my fingers finally clamped onto its round shape it glowed brighter. My eyes began to close as it shone with more strength. That's the last thing I remember, honestly. I've tried as many times as I can to get something more. Dig into my memories and overturn what happened next, but I never can.

At least...what I can remember doesn't make any sense. The wood that dug into my skin felt real, it also felt familiar. The wood of clocktown had a rich scent and was overwhelming. When I opened my eyes and rose to my feet I could hear it. The ticking that was ever present in the air. Yes I had to be in clocktown, but why was I here? When I drank in my surroundings to surmise an answer. I was met with a chilling face from my nightmares. The Happy Masked Salesman grinned devilishly back at me. "Were we having some kind of-" "Spare me your words Link," his face barely changed as he threw words at me. I wouldn't have been very surprised if he hadn't knocked me over the head as well. "You know what you have done yes?" The fear I had felt earlier resurfaced and danced across my skin. Why did my demons always catch up to me? Was I really that slow or were my burdens too much to carry? "What are you-" "You failed Link, let that word sink into your head. You failed this time, hero of Time," he accented the nickname with emphasis with a certain delight. "I'm just having a nightmare this isn't real," I stated my observation quietly, but this was the wrong move to make. The crazed, old man shook me by my shoulders and dug into me with his nails. "OF COURSE THIS IS REAL," he was perfectly composed despite having yelled and shaken me to near unconsciousness. I blinked and held my tongue strategically perhaps I wasn't due to speak out of turn. "At this current moment Link, darkness is consuming Hyrule and soon the world. It's your fault," I felt as if he was lacing venom into my skin simply through his words. Why did they mean so much to me? Perhaps it was because I was terrified that they were true. "Now I know that you don't want this to happen, especially not to your beloved Zelda," he held up a dark swirl that conformed to her image. It taunted me for a few moments before dissipating. "What would you say if I could fix your little mistake? I can give you another chance to save the world. After all everyone deserves a second chance, right?" He laughed as if he was complimenting not so witty statements. "Right?" He swallowed the space between us and searched me longingly for confirmation. "Yes," I replied sheepishly still unsure if I could reply to this madman. "Perfect, but before I send you on your merry way like a new born cuccko. I want you to provide me some compensation first," my eyes lit up with curiosity at his demand. I should have known that a trade would be involved, but without masks mentioned it seemed unfitting. "Compensation?" "Say your soul? You won't miss it I'm sure. Without it you will die though and be sent to hell," I reached for my sword and wondered why I should agree to these terms. "I mean, would a hero truly keep his life over the millions he's cost?" The Salesman removed a Mask from his face and snickered mockingly. For a few seconds I caught a glance of his green soulless eyes. Was I some Mouse that had been caught in his trap? How did I manage to be born with such terrible luck. "Granted I must have your word sonny, I don't want to use so much energy on a wasted venture." I raised my hand and decided that a handshake would do him just fine. "I will have a second chance to save Hyrule just as before," he nodded and placed his hand into mine. "You better get to work Link, because the clock is ticking,"

As if his magic had whisked me away from his sight. I blinked and opened my eyes to see the heart of clocktown. The sun's rays flittered across the small town and danced off of the worker's faces. "Hey Link, do you think you could get out of the way? You're impeding our work on the festival," I blinked and stepped out of a carpenter's way. I wish I could say that the nightmare I had with the Happy Mask Salesman was just that, but this was becoming far too real. I reached for my sword from its holster and noticed that it wasn't the master, but rather the Kokiri that glinted back at me. It's just as if I came back from Hyrule and the woods.

~Thank you for reading this short story that I wrote. Please let me know if you're interested in more or if you enjoyed it. Have a great day o/ ~