Legend of Zelda: An RPG to the Past
The Imprisoning War
Warning: Contains spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
The defeat of the wind mage Vaati signaled an era of relative calm for Hyrule, and centuries came and went without incident. Hyrule continued to prosper, a land blessed with green fields and gentle winds, and the Royal Family yet governed the land with peace and justice. However, though Demise’s prophecy had long since been forgotten, it was not gone. And in the scorching wastes of the western desert, his hatred would find rebirth.
Among the Gerudo tribe of thieves, the sole male born unto them every century would rule as their king, and during this age a son was born to all-female tribe. His name was Ganondorf Dragmire, and possessed the cunning and ambition needed to rule the Gerudo. In his youth, he watched as his people eked out an existence in the harsh desert, stealing and scavenging what they could to survive while the people of Hyrule lived in abundance, and he felt contempt gnaw at his heart. How could he be a proper king if he ruled outcasts? When his mother was killed in a raid against the Hylians, Ganondorf’s hate finally took root, and he vowed to find a way to take Hyrule from those that had denied his people prosperity.
Ganondorf made a dangerous pilgrimage into the Haunted Wastes, where he found the Desert Colossus that housed the Spirit Temple. Here dwelt two Gerudo witches, the Twinrova sisters who recognized in Ganondorf the spirit of conquest – perhaps even knowing of Demise and his malice reborn – and agreed to teach him the ways of magic. He lived with them for many years, the witches acting as his surrogate mothers and whispering to him the legend of the golden power the Royal Family kept hidden, as Ganondorf grew from a boy to a man. When Ganondorf returned to the Gerudo, he was a powerful sorcerer hell-bent on taking Hyrule.
It was during this time that Hyrule was engulfed in civil war. The current king of Hyrule, Gustav IV, was staunchly in favor of Hylian dominance of the land, convinced it was the divine right of his people to be superior to all others. Queen Larula of the Zora tribe challenged the rule of the Hylian monarchy and Gustav’s claims, and instead vouched for the dominance of her own people. As the Zora moved against the forces of Hyrule, many Hylians joined their cause of dethroning the king (and, potentially, learning the secrets of the Triforce’s hiding place), while most of the Goron tribe sided with the Royal Family. Through it all, the Gerudo moved through the conflict as sellswords and mercenaries, taking what spoils they could and changing sides when they saw a potential advantage. Only the childlike Kokiri stayed out of the conflict, hidden in the deep forests of Hyrule under the protection of their guardian, the Great Deku Tree.
When Gustav IV was slain in battle, his son Harkinian was christened the new king of Hyrule. Though a young king, he did not share his father’s views of Hylian superiority, and sought a way to end the war. His attempts at diplomacy with the Zora and their allies were met with rebuttal by Larula, who was still driven to seize control of Hyrule. The war continued, though the new King tried in vein to find some other solution. The tide began to turn against the Zora as those that had disagreed with Gustav’s views saw the earnestness of Harkinian, taking up his banner to defend Hyrule from the “water tyrants.”
The war at last came to end with Larula’s death – some believe she took her own life, while others think she met her end at the hand of an assassin. The widowed King Zora Do Bon XVI quickly reinstated peace talks with Harkinian, and soon a treaty was struck between the Zora, the Gorons and the Hylians. Harkinian was lauded as the king that had at last unified Hyrule, bringing the other races onto equal footing to the Hylians and showing how each needed the skills of the other to survive. Only the Gerudo were left out of the negotiations, and Ganondorf felt again the hatred that burned within him at the King’s snub of his race.
OCARINA OF TIME
Several years after the war ended, with relations smoothed over among the Goron and Zora peoples, Harkinian at last attempted to negotiate peace with the Gerudo, whose raids against Hyrule had become more frequent of late. To his surprise, Ganondorf quickly agreed to find terms of peace with Hyrule, and came to Hyrule Castle to discuss a treaty with the King.
King Harkinian’s young daughter, Princess Zelda, had been born with ocular powers: the ability to perceive future events in her dreams. Her nights were now restless, her dreams troubled with visions of dark clouds, a boy clad in green, and a shining stone. Convinced that some danger was about to befall Hyrule, and dismissed by her father for her dreams being simple night terrors, Zelda confided in her Sheikahn nursemaid, Impa, that she feared Ganondorf was a catalyst for the darkness in her dreams.
As Zelda suspected, Ganondorf’s lies of peace and negotiation were merely a front to uncover the Royal Family’s secrets. He slowly gleaned the details behind the sealing of the Temple of Time, and set schemes in motion to acquire the Spiritual Stones from Hyrule’s provinces. While his black magic and minions worked quietly on Hyrule’s fringes, Ganondorf lurked within Hyrule castle, waiting for his chance to seize the final piece of the puzzle: the Ocarina of Time.
Meanwhile, in the Kokiri Forest, the spirit of the hero received his calling. A boy named Link was summoned by the Great Deku Tree to eradicate a wasting curse placed within him, and received guidance from the fairy Navi. Proving his worth, Link slew the monster that corrupted the tree, but it was too late. The Great Deku Tree, with his dying words, tasked Link to seek out Princess Zelda, and bestowed upon him the Kokiri’s Emerald, the Spiritual Stone of Forest. Link left the forest for the first time in his young life and made his way across the land to Hyrule Castle.
Forced to infiltrate the castle through stealth, Link met Princess Zelda, who recognized him as the figure from her dream. Zelda explained to Link her dream, and confided in him her fears of Ganondorf and the fate of the Triforce. Zelda proposed that Link acquire the remaining two stones before Ganondorf could, and the two of them would then use the Ocarina to open the door, enter the Sacred Realm and obtain the Triforce to stop the Gerudo King’s plan. With Impa’s aid, Link was escorted from the castle, while Zelda continued to spy on Ganondorf and her father.
Link’s journey took him to the barren crags of Death Mountain, where he aided the starving Goron people in taking back their food source from a terrible monster, and received the Goron’s Ruby in return. Then he traveled up Zora River, and put an end to the vile entity that was plaguing Lord Jabu Jabu, the Zora’s living deity. Princess Ruto of Zora betowed the Zora’s Sapphire on Link in thanks. However, while Link quested for the Stones, Ganondorf caught wind of the boy’s actions, undoing his evil spells and slaying his dark minions. Deciding the time for action was nigh, Ganondorf launched his coup to seize the Ocarina of Time. Hyrle Castle was attacked from within by Ganondorf’s forces, and King Harkinian was killed.
Link returned to Hyrule Castle Town just as the attack took place. He witnessed Princess Zelda and Impa fleeing on horseback from the burning castle, closely followed by Ganondorf. As she passed him, Zelda threw Link the Ocarina of Time, imprinted with an ocular message to complete their task. Duty-bound, Link took the Stones and the Ocarina to the Temple of Time, opened the Door of Time, and drew the Master Sword from its pedestal, unlocking the last gate to the Sacred Realm.
Alas, Link could not predict the circumstances that followed. Ganondorf had, in secret, followed Link to the Temple. Unable to receive the mantel of the Hero due to his youth, Link’s spirit was trapped in stasis, asleep and unable to stop Ganondorf as he too passed through the gateway to the Sacred Realm. The Gerudo King at last beheld the mystical Triforce suspended in the Temple of Light, and took it in his hands, ready to make his desires a reality. But Ganondorf’s soul was not in balance, and instead the Triforce split in three, two of its pieces vanishing while Ganondorf received the Triforce of Power.
With the new-found power he wielded, Ganondorf quickly established dominion over the Sacred Realm, which twisted and changed to match Ganondorf’s desires. The Sacred Realm became the Dark World, and its evil influence radiated out from Hyrule’s temples, corrupting the land. Ganondorf returned to Hyrule mostly triumphant, an army of monsters from the Dark World at his command and the Triforce of Power in his grasp. In no time he took control of Hyrule, his first act of war being to destroy Hyrule Castle and ransack the nearby city. Resistance against him was swiftly crushed, and hisses of dissent eradicated. Ganondorf became the undisputed tyrant king of Hyrule.
Yet even this was not enough to satisfy. Greed and avarice, fed by the Triforce of Power, gnawed at Ganondorf. He wanted the whole Triforce, and the ability to bend the entire world to his whim. Princess Zelda, now the last of the Royal bloodline, would surely have answers, yet no trace of her was found. Ganondorf’s henchmen scoured the land for her, but she continued to elude him.
For seven long years, Ganondrof’s reign of terror went unchallenged. Then came a day where the Hero’s spirit awakened. Link, who had been sheltered in the still-untainted Temple of Light by the ancient Rauru, had grown into a young man, and upon waking was given instruction by Rauru. A new group of Sages needed to arise and destroy the corruption of the Temples, but none of the chosen could feel destiny’s pull while profane magic infested these holy sites. Only with the help of six Sages could Ganondorf’s hold on Hyrule be weakened, and only with the Sages help could they subdue Ganondorf. Here Link received his title as the Hero of Time, who could move back and forth across the span of those seven years to challenge the Evil King.
Now with the Master Sword at his side, Link returned to Hyrule to find a ravaged land, corrupted and ruined by Ganondorf’s rule. He was met by a mysterious figure called Sheik, a member of the near-extinct Sheikah tribe, who explained what Ganondorf had done and helped Link in his tasks from the shadows. Setting off across the land, Link went to each of the Temples and destroyed the evil forces skulking within, each time awakening a new Sage: Saria of the Kokiri, Darunia of the Gorons, Ruto of the Zora, Impa, and Nabooru of the Gerudo.
With the six Sages lending him their power, Link returned to the Temple of Time and was once again met by Sheik, who turned out to be Princess Zelda in disguise. She apologized to Link for not telling him sooner, for she needed to keep her identity from being discovered by Ganondorf. She then revealed to Link not only was she herself gifted with the abilties of a Sage, thanks to the power of her divine blood, but also held the Triforce of Wisdom. Link, too, possessed a piece of the sacred triangle – the Triforce of Courage.
Ganondorf was not deceived for long. The reveal cost Zelda dearly, as the place she once thought safe and sacred was watched by Ganondorf. Trapping her within a crystal prism, Ganondorf spirited Zelda away to his tower and challenged Link to face him, seeking to bring the two Triforce-wielders to him so he could take their divine gifts. The Hero of Time fought his way to Ganondorf, and a legendary clash ensued. Close as it was, Link eventually struck Ganondorf a fatal blow, and the Gerduo King fell dead…or so they thought.
With his final breath, Ganondorf attempted to bring his tower crumbling down around them. Escaping just in time, Link and Zelda only had a moment’s reprieve before Ganondorf burst from the rubble. With the Triforce of Power in his posession, Ganondorf was immortal, and he called upon all the hatred in his being in that moment to reveal his true strength. Ganondorf transformed into a hideous creature, dubbed Mandrag Ganon in the legends, and fought with Link once more.
As Link and Ganon struggled, Zelda realized that fighting Ganon was a fool’s errand. He could not be slain, so long as he held the Triforce of Power. But the Master Sword, a blade meant to repel evil, could at least weaken him. Knowing now what she must do, Zelda called on the power of the Sages to open a channel to the Dark World. As Link struck Ganon a finishing blow with the Master Sword, Ganon’s weakened spirit was banished back to the Dark World, sealed within its most shadowy depths. As he went, Ganon screamed that the Sages’ seal would someday be broken, and as long as he possessed the Triforce of Power, he would return.
Image © Nintendo, Ocarina of Time