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Zelda Wiki:The Rise and Fall of the Dark Interlopers
|The following Wiki Exclusive article, published on July 2, 2013, may be an opinionated and/or theoretical piece. It may not be a factual encyclopedic article, and reflects only the opinions of the writer, Setras. It is not to be taken as a view of Zelda Wiki, its staff, editors, or viewers as a whole.|
The Dark Interlopers, also simply called the Interlopers, are a tribe steeped in mystery and secrets. While they left behind a great deal in terms of a legacy - a legend of a war that nearly consumed Hyrule, fragments of a cursed and powerful helmet, a humanoid race descended from them who wander a realm steeped in twilight - very little is known regarding their past. Here is one possible history of this mysterious clan…
As with all things and creatures, the Dark Interlopers had to have a beginning. These beings are heavily implied to have originally been human, and so would share a common heritage with the rest of the humans throughout the world. And who did all humans once revere? None other than their once-patron Goddess: Hylia.
The humans were meek creatures, however, and had little stomach for war. Why, then, would a group of humans so devoted to the goddess become a fierce race of heretic magic wielders - and for that matter, how? The answer lies with the demon king, Demise. By all accounts, Demise was powerful enough to nearly bring about the end of the world, and ultimately left Hylia gravely wounded and weak (though we’ll get to that later). To the humans who worshiped Hylia, such power would likely have been terrifying - but then, such power would likely look attractive to some, as well. As events such as the Era of Chaos and the Imprisoning War have shown, humans were eager to gain power, and not being able to take the Triforce (which was under the protection of their goddess), some humans would have thus turned to Demise. Seeking both protection from him and his demonic armies, and whatever power he could offer, these humans split off from Hylia’s worshippers and swore fealty to Demise. Demise then granted them some of the power they had craved, turning them into powerful sorcerers. Now, this is of course somewhat conjectural - there’s very little shown in Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess to link the Interlopers to Demise. However, there are two factors to consider. The first deals with the similarities between the main weapon of the Interlopers - the Fused Shadow - and Demise. During Skyward Sword, Demise is fought three times in his weakened form, The Imprisoned. Each time The Imprisoned is defeated, it breaks apart and coalesces into the Sealing Spike, like so:
|Note the Imprisoned's behavior from 15:23 to 15:43.|
This phenomenon is very similar to the behavior of the Twilit bosses fought in the first arc of Twilight Princess, shown here:
|Diababa's behavior from 6:40 to 7:04.Note|
|Fyrus' behavior from 3:46 to 4:05Note|
|Morpheel's behavior from 6:15 to 6:33Note|
Why would Demise and the Fused Shadow behave in such a similar manner? Leaving aside the explanation of pure coincidence (which is always admittedly possible), this similar behavior seems to imply a connection between the two. And unless Demise were directly involved in forging the helmet (which is impossible according to in-game lore), this could only mean that a similar power was involved, a power based on his, but distinctly different - say, a power he had lent to his servants.
The second factor to consider involves the similarities between the Fused Shadow and another weapon: Ghirahim. Now, at first glance, the two don’t seem alike at all - Ghirahim is a conscious entity acting on his own (albeit according to the goals and will of his master), while the Fused Shadow seems to require a host to channel its power, and lacks consciousness. But upon closer inspection, the two do share some odd commonalities. For instance, when Ghirahim uses magic, the manifestations are accompanied by a flurry of diamonds. When the Fused Shadow fragments are used, black shards like those seen in the Twilight Realm appear. During the Horde Battle, Ghirahim erects a barrier of pegs, between which, barriers made of diamonds form; Twilight Barriers, which form around attacking Shadow Beasts, rely on a highly similar design, incorporating stylized pegs and barriers composed of overlaying squares. And speaking of the pegs in the barrier, let’s examine Ghirahim’s a little more closely:
These pegs bear a distinct resemblance to another structure - specifically, the “spears” that Midna would create while using the completed Fused Shadow:
The resemblance is not a perfect one, true, but nor is it entirely spurious. Both types of objects are yellow, jagged spikes, largely colored and shaped the same. Again, this could be coincidental - but in light of the previous similarities, it could be something greater, namely, a direct connection.
A New land
We’ve now established that a potential connection exists between Demise and the Interlopers; for simplicity’s sake, the rest of this article will assume that said connection is true. The traitorous Hylians who would become the Interlopers thus came into being, rallying behind Demise. But of course, Demise was eventually defeated and sealed away. This left his followers leaderless and at the mercy of the goddess whom they had rejected. Fearing for their lives, they would have fled - but where?
Into the forests of the Surface, of course. After all, Demise’s sealing took place in the Sealed Grounds, and the sorcerers would have most likely been near their leader upon his defeat. So, they fled to the closest available area; in later eras, the area would be known as the Lost Woods. And what lies beyond the Lost Woods? None other than the country of Termina. Here, the sorcerers found refuge and began to build a new home, where they assimilated and befriended the native populations of Goron, Deku, and the others. Many of them were happy to have escaped with their lives, and so forgot their ambitions and settled down; their descendants would give rise to the Terminan Hylians seen in Majora's Mask. But not all of the sorcerers could forget what had happened to them so easily, and sought vengeance. But they knew that their current power was insufficient to do so, and so they hid themselves away in the eastern corner of Termina, where they built a citadel for themselves and began experimenting.
Of course, all of this again might seem unlikely - after all, the Interlopers are never mentioned to share a connection with Termina, nor does there seem to be any signs of their presence. But let’s take another look. All across the Ikana Canyon area, we see structures like these:
The Triforce, like the Interlopers, does not seem to share many connections with Termina, and so the images of it throughout are mysterious. This had led to the popular “Stone Tower of Babel” theory, which essentially states that an unknown group created these structures and built Stone Tower to blaspheme against the Golden Goddesses, dooming them (and Termina as a whole) to the wrath of the goddesses. This is a popular theory, and it has a fair degree of support, too. Yet this theory still fails to account for the identity of the group who made these structures. It is here that we find a commonality - after all, the Interlopers were a group who yearned to seize the Triforce and fight the Golden Goddesses, and as mentioned previously, they already had cause to hate the goddesses due to what Hylia had done to their leader. And speaking of which, let’s take another look at a couple of the depictions of the Triforce:
These depictions show a figure with the Triforce between its legs, as it licks it. Again, this lends support to the “Stone Tower of Babel” theory, due to the sexual connotations of the images - but what about the figure itself? It looks humanoid, in a way, but it seems distorted, and decidedly inhuman. One could even call it… demonic. Perhaps depicting a specific demon, one which was worshiped by the group who made the images? And if the group who made the images were the Interlopers, one demon would readily spring to mind. We can therefore conclude that the Interlopers built Stone Tower, blaspheming against the goddesses they so hated in the process, and here conducted their experiments to increase their powers.
Another detail of note is how the Goddess of Time- a deity only fleetingly mentioned in Hyrule- seems to be worshipped by many in Termina. The identity of this goddess is itself mired in speculation, but one of the proposed candidates is none other than the goddess Hylia. If we assume that Hylia is indeed, the Goddess, this would provide an explanation for her widespread worship here- the traitors who abandoned their crusade against her could very well have come to regret their past actions, and so sought to repent by returning to her worship. The practice then caught on throughout the country, eventually giving rise to the widespread worship of the Goddess of Time in Termina.
This leads us into the fruits of the Interlopers’ experiments. The first, of course, was Majora's Mask. There are various details linking the Interlopers to the mask and to Majora, such as the uncanny resemblance between the eyes of Majora’s Mask and one of the eyes of the Fused Shadow forged by the Interlopers (shown right); the similarities between the apparent fighting styles of the Twili and Majora’s Wrath; and the physical similarities between Majora’s Wrath and the form Midna would take when using the Fused Shadow.
But the Interlopers also created another weapon to use in their fight against the goddesses - specifically, the Trident of Power seen in Four Swords Adventures. This Trident shares several similarities with the Fused Shadow. These similarities are discussed in greater detail on the Trident page, but to reiterate the key ones:
- Both objects display great magical power, as well as an inherent darkness.
- Both objects have been shown to mutate those who come into contact with them. (The Fused Shadow fragments turned Darbus into Fyrus, and most likely turned a Deku Baba into Diababa and an aquatic creature into Morpheel; the Trident, meanwhile, turned the previously human Ganondorf II into the massive pig-like demon known as Ganon.)
- Both objects would later serve as symbols of authority, a fragment of the Fused Shadow being given to the ruler of the Twili, and the Trident being meant for the “King of Darkness.”
It is therefore logical to conclude that the Trident was also an Interloper weapon.
Of the two weapons, it would seem the Interlopers were more fond of the mask, as its image was embossed on blocks and objects all across Termina. Also, as stated by the Happy Mask Salesman, they made use of the power contained within the mask through hexing rituals, subjecting hapless victims to torture via the mask. They likely did so to further test the mask’s abilities and gauge its strength. However, these uses of the mask caused it to be filled with darkness and negative energy. Eventually, the mask was rendered unstable, and a demon was born within the mask: Majora.
This is, again, mostly conjecture, but it has a basis in the birth of another antagonist in the series: Shadow Link. According to Hyrule Historia, Shadow Link was created when the hatred and anger of Ganondorf I (who was killed in Twilight Princess) flowed through the Dark Mirror and was given a physical form. This provides precedent that, given the right catalyst, negative energy can be given life in the Zelda universe. And Majora’s Mask, containing as it did powerful dark magic, could have provided the catalyst for the pain, anguish, and agony of its victims, as well as the greed and sadism of its creators, to be given life. The resulting creature was an insane demon filled with greed and anger, reflecting the demonic power that had created the mask (Demise’s latent magic) and the arrogance of its makers. The creature then turned on its creators, who were forced to do battle with it and place a stricture on the mask to hold it in check. This then left them vulnerable when a new threat emerged.
The Ancient Ones
The Interlopers had previously rejected Hylia and fought alongside her enemy, and while at first they seemed to have escaped retribution, they failed to take into account that the goddess still had loyal servants living on the Surface - namely, the Sheikah tribe. The Sheikah, possessing as they did a variety of magical abilities and great intelligence, were thus able to track the traitors down. A group of Sheikah was then dispatched to Termina to deal with them. It would seem the Sheikah decided to leave most of them alone (as, again, their descendants would give rise to the humans later seen in Majora’s Mask, which means they must have survived to give rise to them); the group installed in Stone Tower, however, were known throughout Termina for kidnapping and brutally torturing victims all across the country, and this was not something the Sheikah could condone or ignore. And so, they slipped secretly into Ikana, before challenging the Interlopers. Caught off guard and weakened by the attack and sealing of Majora’s Mask, the Interlopers were unable to mount a successful resistance, and after holding out for a short time, they lost both Majora’s Mask and the Trident to the Sheikah. Bereft of their greatest weapons, the Interlopers were forced to cede victory, and with it Stone Tower, over to the Sheikah and flee once more.
This is admittedly perhaps one of the most tenuous parts of the theory, unconfirmed by any in-game events. However, there are still several factors to take note of here. Firstly, the Interlopers had only just succeeded in creating two weapons, one of which was unstable and had weakened them. They were thus unsuited to any kind of confrontation, and certainly lacked the means to move against the goddesses. Why, then, would they suddenly abandon Stone Tower, leaving behind a secure stronghold (one which, according to Igos du Ikana, even the entire Ikanan army of his era would be unable to topple or penetrate) and presumably most of their research? And why would they give up their two successful (or at least semi-successful) experiments along with the tower? There are a myriad of potential explanations, ranging from an experiment gone wrong to an outbreak of illness; but given the Ikana region’s history of conflict and bloodshed, and again a lack of details regarding an illness or failed experiment, the seemingly most likely cause would be a superior tactical force, one which arrived quickly and forced a hasty retreat.
It is also noteworthy that, in Skyward Sword, only one Sheikah - Impa - is shown, though the appearance of the Sheikah in later generations and a direct statement by Impa confirms that others did exist. Where were they, then? Their not appearing during the events of the game isn’t particularly remarkable, but it does beg the question of where they were and what they were doing, particularly with the Surface in such turmoil following the defeat of Demise and Hylia’s plan being put into action. A group of them being dispatched to Termina would not account for all of the missing Sheikah, but it would at least explain where some of them were. And the Sheikah, being sworn to serve and defend the goddess, would therefore be likely to hunt down any who stood against or betrayed her. Their aforementioned magical skill would also make them one of the few groups who could stand against a powerful magical group such as the Interlopers.
A slightly more tangible link between the Sheikah and Intelopers also exists. On the back of the Fused Shadow, if Midna’s hair is moved, this image can be seen:
This symbol bears a striking, in fact almost perfect, resemblance to the symbol of the Sheikah - the only slight differences are the three “lashes” of the eye being attached to it and slightly rounder/rectangular in shape, and the lack of a teardrop. But why would this symbol appear on the back of an Interloper helmet? There are only two real logical explanations: that the Sheikah played a direct role in crafting the Fused Shadow (which has been proposed elsewhere, along with the idea that the Interlopers were, in fact, Sheikah or were related to them; which is conceivable, but for the purposes of this theory would not be possible, given the nature of the Interlopers), or that the Interlopers made use of Sheikah knowledge and techniques in crafting it. And how would the Interlopers gain such knowledge of their foes? By studying them on the battlefield, and likely by interrogating prisoners - two methods of gathering knowledge only likely to be viable during a large-scale conflict.
One more slight detail of note deals with what the Happy Mask Salesman tells Link in Majora’s Mask. When describing the mask’s history, the Salesman says that:
“It is an accursed item from legend that is said to have been used by an ancient tribe in its hexing rituals.”
Later, when describing its sealing, he simply says that:
“[T]he ancient ones, fearing such catastrophe, sealed the mask in shadow forever, preventing its misuse.”
Conventional wisdom says that the tribe that used Majora’s Mask was the same one that sealed it. But, the Salesman mentions first that the tribe used Majora’s Mask in “hexing rituals,” which indicates that they were directly responsible for any “troubles” caused by the mask. But he then says that this tribe sealed the mask away to “prevent its misuse.” This would mean that said tribe would have had to completely change their outlook on the mask and its use to the exact opposite of their previous mentality, while at the same time completely reforming their ways and sealing their mask, which they had previously used for personal reasons (and likely gain), for the common good. This certainly isn’t impossible, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does seem highly improbable and illogical, not to mention a bit too rapid for so profound a change.
But now, let’s examine the quotes from another angle - by assuming that the “ancient tribe” who used the mask, and the “ancient ones” who sealed the mask, were two different tribes. This completely changes the situation, making the “ancient ones” a group of arbiters and heroes who conquered the “ancient tribe,” wrested the mask from them, and sealed it to remove the threat. A much more likely and aesthetically pleasing scenario - and one which would lend support to the idea of a war between the Sheikah and the Interlopers.
With the Interlopers defeated, the Sheikah would have turned their attention to the newly acquired Trident and mask. It is unlikely that they would have viewed the objects as anything but hazards, and so chose to seal them away. It is at this point that the Sheikah split into two groups, who then parted ways and traveled in different directions. One, bearing the Trident, ended up in the deserts of Hyrule, where they set to work building a suitable structure to contain the Trident. The result was the Pyramid seen in Four Swords Adventures, a vast labyrinth inside which the Trident was placed on a shrine. The exit was then sealed, and a powerful enchantment placed on the surrounding desert to prevent anyone from ever being able to find the Pyramid. To keep an eye on the Pyramid and ensure the security of the Trident, these Sheikah settled near an oasis in the desert, where they built a small village and made new homes for themselves. In time, these Sheikah evolved to give rise to the enigmatic Zuna tribe, who gradually came to forget about the Trident, but continued to keep a sharp vigil over the Pyramid as their ancestors had.
This connection stems from the fact that the Zuna seem to have no other affiliations with any other tribe. They have been hypothesized to have originally been anything from Gerudo to Sheikah to even members of the dark tribe and/or biological cousins of the Twili. While little is directly shown to link the Zuna to the Sheikah, both are mysterious and isolated tribes, and it is certainly conceivable that the two are interrelated.
The second group of Sheikah bore Majora’s Mask with them. While they searched for a suitable hiding place for it, however, the strictures the Interlopers had placed on the mask began to wither, and Majora began to break free. Though the Sheikah redoubled the bonds on the mask whenever they could, it never held for long, and so they were forced to take drastic measures. First, they went to a temple they held sacred, built underground. They took the mask to the deepest part of the temple, where they then placed a seal of their own on it. To ensure the success of this seal, they decided to entomb a mask of their own with Majora’s, a holy mask known as the Fierce Deity's Mask. With the mask’s power supplementing the new seal on Majora, it seemed that the beast and its mask had finally grown quiet. The Sheikah then sealed the temple, leaving only rumors and legends of the mask behind. Generations later, however, the temple’s purpose was forgotten, and it was opened in order to serve as a tomb for the many soldiers who died during the war-torn Era of Chaos. The resulting flow of negative energy awakened Majora, who consumed the Fierce Deity's Mask and fractured its seal. It would still take a few more generations for it to be completely freed, but in time, the Happy Mask Salesman, following stories of the mask, opened and navigated the Sheikah temple (by that time called the Shadow Temple), taking with him Majora’s Mask. Now free, Majora began to hatch a scheme of its own. Sensing its intent, though not its specific plan, the Mask Salesman began to regret his decision, but ultimately left for the land of Termina. Thus did Majora’s Mask return to its country of origin, where it set its apocalyptic plan into motion.
This might perhaps seem like the most unlikely part of the theory, but let’s take it piece by piece. For starters, we have the Fierce Deity's mask.
In a way, this mask is even more mysterious than Majora’s, having no (canon) back story to speak of. One detail about the mask stands out, however - it looks almost exactly like Link. But why? Because the mask was modeled after Link - specifically, the Link of Skyward Sword.
How can we reach this conclusion? Well, we first have to examine the nature of the “Fierce Deity Link” for whom the mask was named. Conventional wisdom among fans states that the Fierce Deity was some sort of god, and judging from its name, a god of war. While there has been much speculation as to the nature of this god, as it turns out, a perfect candidate for the position is shown in Skyward Sword - none other than the goddess Hylia. Hylia was, of course, a fairly gentle and compassionate goddess overall, but by all accounts, she was a very capable fighter, being able to battle Demise and his armies for a prolonged period and being the original wielder of the Goddess Sword. She was also beloved by most of the races of the Surface, particularly the humans and the Sheikah. It is therefore perfectly logical that the Sheikah would create a mask to honor their “fierce deity.” Of course, the mask resembles Link, not Hylia, but this could be explained by the mask being a way to simultaneously honor both the goddess and her chosen hero. Another detail in support of this is that the sword Link wields while wearing the mask has the ability to fire out blue disks of energy that damage opponents, traits nearly identical to the Skyward Strike utilized by the Link of Skyward Sword. It is thus logical to conclude that the mask was modeled after Link while being dedicated to Hylia, making it a sacred relic that could be used to counteract Majora’s Mask. The mask being entombed with, and later consumed by, Majora would also provide a logical reason for Majora to have the mask when it is later fought inside the Moon, and for why it would give the mask to Link (as holding onto it would weaken Majora by sapping its strength).
As for the mask being placed in the Shadow Temple, there are several factors to consider. The first is the statement that the mask was “sealed in shadow.” This, of course, can mean any number of things, from being sealed underground to being sealed in an alternate universe - indeed, the “Stone Tower of Babel” theory interprets this line to suggest that it was sealed in the “pocket dimension” in Stone Tower where Twinmold is fought. But it is noteworthy that “shadow” happens to be the trademark element of the Sheikah - Impa (in Ocarina of Time, at least) is the Sage of Shadow, the Sheikah are often called the “shadow folk,” and, of course, the Shadow Temple is widely accepted to be a Sheikah structure. Being “sealed in shadow” could therefore be interpreted somewhat literally.
We also must take into account a certain aspect of the Happy Mask Salesman - namely, the fact that he possesses the Mask of Truth. By his own account and other information given in-game, it is confirmed that this mask is a Sheikah relic, and it is very powerful and, in the wrong hands, dangerous. Why, then, would the salesman have such a mask? Some speculation exists that he is a Sheikah himself, but apart from the mask, he betrays no evidence of being remotely linked to them, and indeed is more likely of Hylian origin. How, then, did he retrieve the mask? From nowhere else but the Shadow Temple, of course. Again, very little is shown to suggest that the Mask of Truth ever resided in the temple, but there are two other relics closely related to the mask - the Stone/Shard of Agony, and the Lens of Truth - that were handed down in Kakariko Village for generations, and it would make sense that the mask was also handed down. (For more information, see Trinity of Truth.) The Shadow Temple had also existed in the area that would become Kakariko Graveyward for a long time, and would serve as an ideal location to store the mask in order to keep it out of unwanted hands. The Mask Salesman, chasing rumors of Majora’s Mask, would have entered the temple and, along the way, stumbled across the Mask of Truth, which he then took with him. He later gave the mask to Link due to the uncertainty he’d been feeling since taking the two masks, in an attempt to alleviate his stress; this plan failed.
And as for the final part of the theory, we’ve already established that Majora was born due to a flow of negative energy. The same power, then, would likely give it strength. And the Shadow Temple is intimated several times to be a giant tomb, and serves as a repository for Hyrule’s "bloody history," thus serving as a veritable fountain of negative energy. Majora would thus be greatly strengthened by the dark nature of the temple.
The Final Weapon
Meanwhile, the Interlopers continued their experiments in their new exile, this time utilizing the Sheikah magic they had picked during the battle. The result represented the culmination of their research and power, possessing all of the power of Majora’s Mask and the Trident, with none of the inherent instability. Thus was the Fused Shadow created. With this weapon in hand, the Interlopers then marched on Hyrule… and the rest, as they say, is history.
- Stone Tower of Babel: Why Termina was Doomed, Zelda Universe Message Boards.
- "Shadow Link: Demons identical to Link that are born of the Dark Mirror and possess the power of darkness. The resentment and evil thoughts of the defeated Ganondorf travel across time and space, emerging as shadows in the shape of the Hero." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 119)
- "I went to great lengths to get that legendary mask. When I finally had it... I could sense the doom of a dark omen brewing. It was that unwelcome feeling that makes your hair stand on end." — Happy Mask Salesman (Majora's Mask)
- ""Shadow Temple... Here is gathered Hyrule's bloody history of greed and hatred..."" — Wall in Shadow Temple (Ocarina of Time)