These lizards are the things of nightmares. There are lizards who hoard rocks, kill the rock people who eat the rocks, lizards who are young and wriggle like worms, and lizards who flip with swords in their hands, and lizards who are like overgrown tadpoles that spin and expel flames like breathing, and there is a king lizard who rolls and breathes his belly of fire to sear the world until it is cooked through. Sharp scaled, trying to slice you open with every spin and twist. All of them living on the fire beneath their clawed feet, breathing that fire in and out, eating that fire to warm their core. Behind the rock dragon with the glowing red eyes, that king lizard lies in wait and when you throw a bomb into its big, wide, open, sucking mouth that brews its inner fire to roast the flesh off your bones, the bomb blows, fire diffusing fire and you strike. Disoriented, it rolls into lava, fries to a crisp and hardens, burnt and black and dead, like granite, like onyx, like jet, because once the inner fire has been blown out, their skin is weak and frail. But you’re a hero again. Courageous, victorious, alive, and just a little more tired though you’ll never show it. You’re still all business, going through the motions, going through those means to the end. You long for the end to be soon because this is hard work and you’re starting to feel a little stressed, strained. A part of you does not enjoy this, though you will suck it up, complain quietly, and keep doing it for the better of those you care about. They matter to you. They will always matter because they will be affected by the outcome of what you do, what you accomplish. It is for this reason and this reason alone that you do not give in to that side and just throw sword and shield into the fire and go home.
- Bombs: You feel funny when you use these. They’re almost a little too big for you to pick up, awkward in your hands, so you have to hold them over your head as you run so you can run without dropping them accidentally, and in this way, you feel funny, wondering if you look funny to those who might be watching you at work, little child legs shuffle running with a giant glowing bomb above your head like a second head. And in all honesty you do look a little funny, especially when you run, but just a little bit and that’s okay and one should learn to laugh at oneself every now and then. This would be one of those moments where you should, because if you feel funny and think you look funny, then it probably is funny.
- Spiritual Stone of Fire: Brothers, sworn brothers. That’s what the rock king tells you as he gives you the stone casually with one of his rare smiles because you earned it. You risked your life for him and his people without a second thought if it meant you could have the stone to further your request, give to get, and your actions saved his people, leaving him eternally grateful to you and your courage. Brothers, an honorary rock brother, and this notion of family is a little strange because you’ve always been alone, just you, family-less. Your parents have always been a mystery of memory because they’re always dead and gone from a past war that no one talks about, so now, with a sudden induction into a family, you’re not quite sure how to respond except to take the stone with immense gratitude, a bow of the head, and a “Thank you, Brother.”
You must travel through fire, to clean your soul of sin, clean your wounds of bad spirits, clean your blade of the blood you’ve spilled, and the other side of you thinks this feels natural, as though killing is all you’ve ever known now and before. Running, killing, and questing. The other part of you enjoys the challenge, likes the growth, the strain, and it’s like this part of you lives for the sweat, for the blood, for the rush of danger and the next step in this adventure. And even though you are given directions for where to go next without a map, you aren’t so ungrateful to ignore good advice from rock king or fairy alike, albeit these words of wisdom making you feel more like a pawn being moved by the system rather than your own self will because if you closed your eyes, your feet wouldn’t move on their own unless you willed them to move in a direction you willed to go. And there, in the direction you have willed yourself to go, behind the boulder no one paid attention to because it simply implied a dead end, you will face your greatest challenge yet: embarrassment for lack of modesty. Not your own modesty, but that of the magic woman with fire red hair flowing from her head, who lounges seductively in a cool pool, her body covered only by leaves of ivy, inviting you in to heal your scars from your skin as if you had never been cut and that’s how, that’s why, you will never seem to leave your blood behind you in battle. It’s all relative, all unnecessary because bloodstains imply weak skin and yours is the toughest, yours is always put to the test, seemingly made of hard-willed iron. But that does not make your boyish insides iron, and your eyes will look her over briefly, just to discern that there is in fact nothing else on her white skin and ample curves aside from those ivy leaves, before darting away to focus on the palms of your hands that bring cool water to douse the fire on your face. She’ll chuckle and you’ll know she’s just being polite by not bringing it up, instead saying she will tell you about how you can harness the power of fire. Not the fire within, which you doubt you’ll ever be able to control, but the fire of the outside, the fire that burns skin to black dust, burns homes and memories in the heat of summer, and when you curve your hand around the flame she offers—ensuring that your eyes stay locked on hers—you can start to feel its warmth, embrace its destructive, powerful nature because you are trying to restore the balance of power and destruction through more power and destruction. That’s what you are. Destruction on two feet and you find you enjoy the lick of flames that are left by your footprints on the dusty path forward. What you don’t enjoy is that she recommends you visit her sisters, particularly the one on the mountain you just walked down.
- Magic Meter: Another sultry ivy covered woman you encountered gives you the power of magic, the ability to harness it within the blade of your sword to enhance the power of your swing and the effectiveness of particular weapons, but she says that will come in due time. It’s like she knows more than she’s telling you and you’ve found that this feeling happens a lot. Maybe it’s because she herself is built on the foundation of magic and therefore is a higher being in this world with all-knowing powers. But then again, what if there’s something going on that you don’t know about? What if she is one of the hands guiding you, moving you from one step to the next? You’ve wondered about this before, but in this case it doesn’t seem like she’s meddling or giving much else away, only that there are others like her—which makes you grimace because you don’t want to make her or her kin feel violated by your occasional weak-willed glances, but how can you help yourself when you’ve never seen so much skin exposed on a woman before and this confidence and break from conservative tradition makes you uncomfortable—with more gifts to give. As you say thank you and leave, you wish people would stop giving you gifts when they a) don’t even know you, and b) you haven’t done anything to deserve them other than taking on the task of saving the world, but you’re not out rightly telling people that and frankly, it still isn’t enough to warrant a gift that might be the item that makes or breaks this entire journey. It’s all based on too much on coincidence to be natural generosity.
- Din’s Fire: Fire, an element everyone wishes they can control, but can’t because it is unpredictable. One minute tame, the next raging fury, but you enjoy the warmth it gives in your hands as you practice cupping the free burning flame, expanding it, retracting it, trying to understand its whims, but you know you can’t. All you know is that, when released, it will devour everything until nothing is left.
- Stone of Agony: Twenty tokens in and another child of the cursed family is released, giving you a stone that will react to secrets the land of this world has kept hidden for centuries through a slow and steady humming. Keep in mind that such stones, while extremely helpful in discovering lost treasures and buried hearts, are not to be trifled with, and some secrets should remain buried beneath the ground.
- Bombchu: There is a new game in the market you can play now where the colors are bright and the prizes are explosive, though not as explosive as the game pieces. Little bombs that scurry and explode far off enemies or targets, useful to any hero in need of a little extra assistance. How convenient, though perhaps a little dubious in terms of the timing. Having just learned to handle bombs almost expertly, you may now have the luxury of practicing with these interesting little devils and if you play enough, heck, they’ll just let you take a handful of them home with you. Lucky you!
There is another store that has just recently opened, and you wonder if it’s connected to the guard who wants to buy a mask for his son, but can’t because it would be treason to leave his post. The gentleman behind the counter has a bizarre look to him, as though he only knows how to smile and rock on his heels. As he talks, he has a strange camaraderie with his wares and an obsession to find more, but for now, he has too much on his hands and must find the perfect owners for the four particular overstock masks he has, which is where you come in. Somewhere, somebody is waiting for you to find them with these masks and it is your job to find them, sell their mask to them, then bring the money back (keeping whatever extra you make, and paying back anything you happen to be short on with your own money). Just have faith he says, so you do as you help him out because you’re tired and you think a couple days grace between obtaining the second stone and finding the third won’t hurt anyone. You already know the childish looking yellow fox mask is perfect for the guard at the foot of the mountain and his son and he will be eternally grateful to you for helping him out. The skull mask: this is where things get hard because now you need to figure out who would make the perfect owner, and this mask is a lonely looking thing, not so much sad, but content in its solitude and perhaps the solitude was intentional, a personal exiling because of a difference in character or appearance. It almost looks a little lost in the store, and perhaps that’s the characteristic to look for, away from the towns, more in the center of a wood that takes lost souls for its own. The spooky mask: this hideous looking thing isn’t so bad when you look past its deformed carved exterior, and while it makes any wearer alarmingly disfigured, that doesn’t mean the owner has to be equally so deformed inside, and for a moment the gravedigger comes to mind and you think he might like this mask, but why would he buy a likeness of himself and that’s when the little boy who trolls the graves seems a likely candidate. The bunny hood: There’s a rumor around the town that a very energetic and fearless young man, who also isn’t all there in his upstairs, has been seen running around the land as if he were a rabbit of old, and this answer has come easier than expected, though finding him will be another matter entirely, though you expect, once found, he will be able to be more like those rabbits of long past than he ever imagined and it is the possibility of delighting others that makes this side quest worth while. And perhaps, not only are you the master of time and questing, but the master of masks as well.
- Mask of Truth: With the overstock masks sold, your reward is to borrow (not keep, because again, this man is particularly attached to his masks and will want it back before he moves on in search of more masks in more lands) the Mask of Truth, a mysterious mask passed down by the Sheikah, he says, the people of the woman who protects the princess, a true shadow warrior from the village of broken trees. It’s power is startling and alarming: the ability to see into other people’s minds, discovering secrets that can not be hidden well enough, no matter how far down its buried. But not just people, but you can talk to the strange stones that carry the same face of this mask, the sign of the shadow warriors, protectors of this realm, and these stones will teach you something useful it overheard, such if you get close to a butterfly while holding a Deku Stick in your hands, something good will happen. Or that the red haired ranch girls hopes a knight in shining armor will come and sweep her off her feet one day, but that one you knew and you wish you could, but duty has bound you otherwise. Just have faith, he says, but you don’t think he’s talking about masks anymore.
You find it funny how water always seems to end right back at the beginning. Though, that is, wherever the beginning might have been and if that particular particle of water was paying attention to its beginning in the first place. You start pondering your own beginning, the dreams and the blackouts. Those periods of nothingness and lack of existence. You wonder about the past before the darkness, the small bursts of color that look like impossible things, things you know don’t exist in this world, though they seem as real as the dirt that settles on your boots, the air that tries to tease the cap off your head. A mountain that nests an egg, worms with weak and overly ticklish tails, mirrored worlds of darkness in paintings, dreams of dreams. It all just feels like fragmented nightmares running off your skin, despite the old feeling in your soul. Maybe you are an old one too, descendant of those you will only meet upon your true ending, your true death, whatever that might be. Maybe this is the end of beginnings, but maybe all the beginnings are true and each is just a different way of showing who you really are.
- Magic Beans: Now you have the opportunity to investigate another possible occupation post-quest: gardening. You’ve grown up in a forest, surrounded by trees and greenery, so why not? It seems like a natural occupation to turn to once you put the sword and shield to rest in a trunk that you’ll like and hide away for many years, if not the rest of your life, when this is all over. Perhaps that is why green is also your color because you have a green thumb, though you’ve never tried to grow anything yourself just yet. You’re still figuring out the now, so the after will have to come later, but so long as you still have possibilities to turn to.