Table of Contents
The Legend of Zelda: Cataclysm's Eve
This Wiki page hopes to explain the details of the theme. As a forewarning, there's a lot to go over. It will get very spammy. BEWARE, MANY SPOILERS FOR THE ZELDA UNINITIATED.
Many months ago the MUSHing community saw the rise of the original Zelda MUSH, courtesy of the man who ran Videoland. The MUSH didn't make it too far past launch, however. This did not sit well with all its players. A few worked to salvage what was left of it, desperately copying news files and room descs to revive it. And so Zelda MUSH rose again, but met with a terrible fate. It faced the dreaded enemies known as college and some social complications dealing with key FCs, and eventually went the same way.
"But wait," a voice said. "This theme is amazing. Some of the my best roleplaying memories were here. I don't want to see it die."
And so the latest chapter in the Legend of Zelda MUSH is ready to be told, an entirely new take.
Introduction / Themelist
The Legend of Zelda: Cataclysm's Eve is a custom Zelda theme originally designed for its own MUSH. In it, Hyrule is a fantastic land of myth and adventure inhabited by nearly two million people, yet it is merely the greatest of several sizable island-continents floating on an endless Great Sea. The Sun and Moon whirl about the world as days and nights pass, and the stars dance in the sky just as the Golden Goddesses intended.
In ages past, after the Goddesses departed Hyrule, it's said that the Goddess Hylia lead the world's people in a great war against the invading demons, timeless beings that existed before Hyrule and sought to take what the Goddesses made for themselves. The conflict ravaged the world, and it was many centuries before it could be reclaimed. The Hylian Royal Family rose to prominence after several small scuffles to unify the newly-named Kingdom of Hyrule, their right to the throne supported by the last wishes of the Goddess Hylia before it is said she departed for the heavens.
For years, Hyrule and its neighbors prospered. The pointy-eared Hylians, said to be Hylia's descendants (or chosen, by some), lead the world into a time of abundance and success, achieving mastery over magic and harmony with the spirits. They erected great temples and monuments of magical, and sometimes technological sophistication beyond imagination, yet strife stemming around the Gerudo race eventually brought the shining gem of civilization low. This eventually lead to a terrible conflict called the Imprisoning War, which was waged against the forces of the greedy King of the Gerudo tribes, Ganondorf Dragmire, and the savage races he united under his banner. When he seized the great power the Royal Family kept safely tucked away, it brought catastrophe to all. Even the reincarnation of Hylia's hero from ancient times could not stop him from seizing the legendary Triforce, vessel of the Golden Goddesses' ultimate power.
None who know of the Triforce know just what Ganondorf wished for, but even though the Sages sealed him away the results were devastating. A Great Cataclysm shattered the world, bringing ruin and destruction of unfathomable kinds. The land groaned and churned, breaking in places and bringing new lands up from the depths. The oceans swelled and boiled, swallowing islands and coastlines. Even the grand flow of time was disrupted, bringing immense confusion to precariously few survivors. In the wake of the Imprisoning War and Great Cataclysm, the prosperity and abundance of the past was nowhere to be found. The total devastation even scorched away libraries of vast knowledge.
That was a thousand years ago. Hyrule's people still toil to reclaim their lost glory. The Great Spirits continue to watch over the people of a land they cannot repair, while the Oracles of Seasons, Secrets, and Ages orchestrate the world's recovery. The Hylian Royal Family, lead by Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule and his daughter Zelda, spearhead projects to stimulate the once-proud nation's growth and safeguard it from all threats.
Those threats are many. The good people of Hyrule are prosperous beyond measure, blessed with abundant food and health, but wealth is hoarded by those with it and sought after by those without. The monstrous savage races, longstanding enemies of civilization, can no longer be so easily kept at bay with sword and shield, and they launch raids on villages and caravans to steal food and tools. They are joined in this by the exiled Gerudo, a race of fierce desert women who now harass and steal from a Hyrule that denies them acceptance. In these troubled times the souls of the dead can find little rest, and return to terrorize the living.
Yet… these trials and tribulations are as nothing compared to the real threat. Hyrule's people do not realize just how thin the ice they now stand upon is.
The Sages' Seal has begun to crack.
For a simple summarization of how things fit together: the theme's overall atmosphere could be said to be most inspired by Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess. Hyrule is a vast and varied land full of adventure, danger, riches, and mysteries that has seen better days, but could be far worse. A feeling of foreboding pervades everything, for the peace Hyrule enjoys hangs on fraying threads and its enemies are everywhere. From the corners of the land however, rise a number of people who could usher in a new golden era… or cast the land into darkness. Great warriors and mages, genius artificers and tacticians, wise rulers and violent warlords stand at the forefront of Hyrule's people, and they all have a role to play in the world's ever-unfolding legends.
The actual geography of Hyrule most closely resembles the layout of the Gamecube release of Twilight Princess (albeit much LARGER - there are dozens, hundreds of villages in Faron Province, for instance, and Lon Lon Ranch has plenty of competitors) with nods to many of the other games squeezed in where there is room. This Hyrule's not restricted to the limitations of a developer team creating an enjoyable game to play with a controller - it is a study of what Hyrule might look like if there was an actual medieval society functioning in the setting as more than characters in a game, with enough governmental, cultural, and economical modeling to use for storytelling.
Much of the backstory coincides with the story of Skyward Sword rather straight. The general events did happen, but specifics could greatly vary. An example of this manifests in how the theme attempts to coaelsce as many of the characters into one setting and point in time even though in official canon they existed at completely different times (Groose and Sahasrahla being quite probably millenia apart, for instance.) Was there a Groose in the time period where the events of Skyward Sword take place? Well, in all honesty, perhaps there was, perhaps there wasn't. Reincarnation is a thing in this theme, just as it is in canon. Some elements of Minish Cap made it in too (but not the Light Force), and Majora's Mask has been heavily modified so that some of its content (Majora itself, Ikana, many characters and all areas except the redundant and odd Clock Town) can be brought out. A scenario very similar to the events of Ocarina of Time happened in the past, with highly different specifics, which became the Imprisoning War that went so terribly wrong.
'How magic works,' 'how undead work,' and similar vague aspects of the world have been explored, fleshed out, and expanded upon for integration into the cultural, economical, and other impacts they have. The same can be said of the unique abilities and domains of the races, with the resources Hyrule is capable of bringing to bear being intelligently organized and utilized. While the legendary trio certainly exist, they are not the only figures in this theme with the power to change Hyrule's fate.
Besides characters, the general composition of the theme's canon contributors can be said to have worked like this:
Link to the Past: The idea of the Imprisoning War and the Great Cataclysm as an element of the backstory, the portrayal of the Dark World.
Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess: Provides the core map, society, and overall aesthetics of the theme.
Majora's Mask: Most of its areas, except Clock Town itself which is hard to relocate considering the theme has Castle Town.
Oracle of Ages/Seasons: Labrynna and Holodrum are additional island continents. Oracles system integrated into the metaphysics.
Wind Waker: Many locations seen across the Great Sea are out there… on the Great Sea. Windfall Island was adapted into Windfall Harbor.
Minish Cap: Similar events occured historically, but no Light Force. Picori still exist, but have mostly faded from everyone's immediate attentions.
Skyward Sword: Contributes pretty much the ENTIRE history. Skyloft is the foundation of Hyrule Castle and Castle Town, and the Loftwing Knight Academy still exists in the castle courtyard. Loftwings themselves are few in number but do exist, and do seek out worthy riders, whom they share a special mindlink with.
Original kudos goes to Rauru, aka Sinistar of Videoland, and the original team of the first Zelda MUSH. They were responsible for the game which inspired this one, and much of their work still exists in the Physiology sections of many of the races (though many have been extensively modified) and bits of other files. Parts of their original ideas for some character adaptions still linger in some of the sample character profiles.
Further Kudos to Valoo, aka Reliant of MCM, and the second Zelda MUSH team. You guys redefined a period of grand and fun RP for many and brought new life to the theme. Many ideas about the organization of Hyrule, and even more characters the original team missed, still pervade this writeup.
Final Kudos goes out to Nutmegara/Mab @ MCM (no longer around), with whom I spent an extraordinary amount of time discussing culture, racial origins, and much of the material that eventually evolved into this theme. Though we did not see eye to eye on every aspect, there's no doubting some of their material made it in here.
This particular spin on the theme is handled by Kirito/Link/Seras Victoria aka Mouvar @ MCM
Info Files: Setting
The world was not always as it is now. In the beginning, a trio of Golden Goddesses wrought order from the chaos that existed before time began and life existed. Their works angered the spirits who existed in the formless chaos. Given form at last, these beings united under a leader named Demise and waged war on the Goddesses and their creations. It was all for naught, as Din, Nayru, and Farore laid waste to their armies and sealed them away deep within the Earth. After sculpting each race that would inhabit their world, the Golden Goddesses departed, leaving an awesome power behind in the hands of their final creation - the fourth, albeit lesser Goddess, Hylia.
Hylia dutifully watched over the Great Spirits and the Sacred Power of the Triforce she was tasked to safeguard, but the peace of the primordial land was once again threatened when the Demons under Demise's rule broke free from their prison and swept across the land in a great crusade against the Goddesses' works, leaving death and destruction in their wake. To save her people, Hylia did battle against Demise and imprisoned him once again… but not without cost. She was gravely injured, and is said to have retreated to the heavens to watch over the lands while she recovered, but her chosen people survived, as did the Golden Power… on a floating crop of land held aloft by divine enchantments known as Skyloft. The other races were devastated in the second Demon War, however… reduced to primitive states and forced to rebuild their civilizations however they could.
The race of mortals dwelling on Skyloft kept the traditions of their Goddess, until the events of their rise into the heavens was lost to history and became simple legend. Still, the Goddess had known all along that Demise's seal would not last, and had prepared for this. It is said that she furnished a mortal champion, a hero, to rise up and stand against the demon lord. Against all odds, Demise was vanquished and his ilk left leaderless to scurry back into the depths of the Earth and tremble powerlessly.
In the wake of Demise's destruction, a woman named Zelda, possessed of unequalled grace, elegance, and wisdom, who was first among a mystically inclined group of equals, gathered the many races who lived on the surface and united them in one government. All believed that she and the lineage that would follow her held divine right to rule handed down by the Goddess Hylia, and the line she would start eventually became known as the Hylian Royal Family, and the land they administered was finally termed Hyrule. None knew that their Goddess had not simply given a certain bloodline the right to rule, but that Hyrule's first Queen was indeed the Goddess reborn as a mortal, whose soul would continue to reincarnate and return time and time again in times of greatest need, just as none learned the last declaration of Demise: that his hatred for the Goddesses and all they had wrought was undying, and he would return to plague Hylia's chosen people again and again.
It was a secret to everyone.
This time was tumultuous however, for Demise was not the only being with his sights on the Power of Gold.
The Demon Lord Majora rose to harass the forming Hyrule and caused much grief. The Hero stood against the demon however, backed by the Sheikah and a deific warrior from beyond. Without the Goddess Sword the Demon Lord could not be defeated as Demise was, but all was not lost. The fierce warrior proposed that he and Majora should be sealed away together, that he would fight the Demon Lord endlessly in spirit. So it was: the three-way alliance fought Majora tooth and nail, and the sealing ritual did its job: both were enshrined in masks containing their power, and housed within a great Stone Tower erected in Ikana where they would be kept safe supposedly for eternity.
This Sheikah clan eventually went renegade, lead astray from the Goddess' path by the study of demonology and belief its power could be used to better Hyrule. In the land of Ikana they studied Majora's Mask in the impregnable Stone Tower - and lost their way and Sheikah pride. They created the Fused Shadows and held a Dark Magic ritual in the tower aimed to wrest the Triforce from the Sacred Realm… but its failure laid waste to the Ikana region, turning it into a realm where the dead could find no rest. So horrendous were their crimes that the Great Spirits banished these Dark Interlopers to a realm of perpetual twilight, and the remaining Sheikah modified their race's iconic eye sigil to include a single tear representing their shame and sorrow at this great betrayal.
From this conflict the people of Hyrule found theirs was not the only world. Perhaps the Goddesses' creative breath was so mighty that it slipped through the cracks of existence to create more worlds, or perhaps they had already existed, but Hyrule was not alone. An extremely tiny yet mystically advanced race called the Minish from a land named Picori appeared in Hyrule through a portal of their own making. The friendly race integrated well into early Hyrulean society, finding Hyrule much more to their liking than their own world, and their studies lead to many advancements in artificing, alchemy, and other fields of magic. All was not well, however: one among their number, Vaati, apprentice to the sorcerer named Ezlo, stole his mentor's masterpiece and used its power to become an unmatched sorcerer. The wish twisted him, however, for his greed had accidentally tapped into Dark powers - and transformed Vaati into a great and terrible Demon Lord. For the last time in his mortal lifespan the Chosen Hero of the Goddess set out to defend Hyrule, aided by the cursed sorcerer Ezlo and the greatest of the Minish, who forged a mighty blade imbued with the power of four Elements. Though lesser than the blade that had slain and trapped Demise, this weapon proved capable of channeling the Power to Repel Evil, and the Hero sealed Vaati away within the blade.
Once those crises ended the land knew peace, and Hyrule flourished in the Royal Family's hands. Each race and its people established their authorities and customs and collaborated through the Council of Sages, Council of Rulers, and Council of Lords. Beneath them were the growing number of towns, villages, and cities erected by the races' cooperation. Much time passed in this time that would become known as the Era of Prosperity, or as it is known today… Ancient Hyrule. Under the unifying peace the Royal Family brought, the people erected grand structures in honor of the Great Spirits and the Goddesses. They created vast cities full of luxuries and comforts. They filled every home with all manner of mystical tools and explored the wonders of the world the Goddesses wove until they achieved great mastery over it.
And then it all came crashing down.
It began as a squabble amongst the common folk, and escalated into a war which decimated countless lives. The desert-dwelling Gerudo Nomads, a Tribe born of Din, contributed little to the economy yet needed much. Some were jealous of their innate physical superiority, while others were simply victims of their aggressive promiscuity and the social lines they commonly crossed to ensure their race's continuation. Their twin representatives in the Council of Lords, Koume and Kotake, schemed for a power grab that would end much of the discrimination their people faced - and perhaps much more. When it was discovered they had used the forbidden Dark Arts to muddle good Dustaf Hyrule's mind however, everything went wrong for them and their people.
The Gerudo were the first tribe to be forcefully EXPELLED from Council membership and indeed, were exiled as a race from Hyrule proper. Cut off from trade, from legal recourse, and from society, they became crafty and formidable raiders and thieves who mastered their desert nomad lifestyle like never before. In time they even pushed off the shores of their desert, forced to add piracy to their ways of life too.
Koume and Kotake were much reviled by their people, for the twin witches had brought little but misery upon them. When the two looked to the stars however, they saw that a great one was soon to rise among them. The one male that was born to a Gerudo nomad bore the name Ganondorf Dragmire, and Koume and Kotake used every trick and every opportunity to fill his thoughts with the iniquities his people suffered under. Them, and those of other, more primitive races that had been cast out by the people. The savage and so-called BARBARIC races who lived tribal existences and worshipped supposedly false gods or no-longer-accepted aspects and roles of true ones such as the Moblins and their lesser families like Bokoblins and Bulblins first, but they were just a few.
When he had seen enough of his people's suffering, and grown in might, Ganondorf journeyed to the ends of Hyrule, and united them under his banner along with the several Gerudo tribes… then marched on Hyrule.
The Knights of Hyrule were courageous, well-equipped, and proud, but Ganondorf was relentless, cunning, and divisive. He sowed strife and dischord amongst the different races with ease. The Gorons, proud masons and smiths, were kept busy by the ancient wyrm he resurrected within their prized capital. The more skittish Mogma fled deep underground and ceased supplying the vast quantity of Force Gems needed to keep the war effort fueled. Chaos fell upon the Zora's crucial waterways from a new, twisted race of 'River Zora' that appeared and entrenched themselves in the rocky and impassable Veil Falls, born from eggs that had been tainted by Ganon's dark arts. A traitor in the King's court ended Daltus's life when his military prowess was needed most, forcing a grieving Zelda to take up his role in the battlefield. In the Lost Woods the dead rose and malicious plants spread under the leadership of a malicious tree known as the Bagu Tree, born of a demon bound to a seed of the Great Deku Tree that fell far from its roots, and hounded the Kokiri who had been gathering the forest's phenomenal medicinal ingredients to use for healing the wounded. No race was left untouched: all had their fair share of troubles keeping them from contributing seriously to what would be known as the Imprisoning War.
Ganondorf's forces tore apart the proud Knights, the champions of all the allied races. But for each of the living on either side that fell, another rose in Ganondorf's ranks as the ravenous undead as part of his Dark Magical designs. Like in legend, a Hero arose in those times. Some say he was an apprentice of the Loftwing Knight Academy, others a country bumpkin from Faron Province, the adopted son of the captain of Castle Town's guardsmen, or the son of a Kakarikoan smith. He rose too fast for any to track the tale of his origins and accomplishments, but he aided the different races, bringing them back into the fold and shoring up those who could still fight.
This youth fought valiantly, year after year, but it was not enough. In the end, the Council of Sages - reduced to a paltry seven, including the sole remaining royal family survivor, Princess Zelda - could do naught but pray to the Goddesses for salvation. The Goddesses unexpectedly answered by inspiring them all to create a mighty blade from the now-exhausted Goddess Sword Hylia had created for the Hero to slay Demise with, which the youth purified and sanctified in the primordial, divine fires hidden in the secret corners of the world long ago. The sacred weapon was without equal, and shined with the light to repel wickedness. The Blade of Evil's Bane, the Master Sword.
Yet he was not quite fast enough. Ganondorf Dragmire surged through Hyrule Castle and performed a blasphemous ritual sacrificing much of its staff and defenders to open a portal to the Sacred Realm, where he laid hands on the Triforce… and it split. Ganondorf claimed the Triforce of Power, while the forces representing Farore and Nayru, Courage and Wisdom, housed themselves in the Hero and Zelda. The Hero confronted Ganondorf Dragmire atop the Temple of Light. Their earthshaking clash in the Sacred Realm's said to have lasted hours. When the last blow had landed however, it was the exhausted Hero who fell to the bloodied stone. The Gerudo Warlord triumphed over the Hero, and the prophesy of Demise was fulfilled.
Roaring with triumphant laughter, Ganondorf turned to extract the Triforce of Courage from his fallen rival and wrest away the Triforce of Wisdom from the Goddess' reincarnation, to make his wish. However, at the last moment, the bearers split apart their Triforce aspects into fragments which flew off to the corners of Hyrule. Ganondorf was left with only with an imperfect wish granted by Power alone from that first touch. What wish that might have been, none remain who could say, but its effects were felt far and wide. The many Moon Gates that lead to the Sacred Realm overflowed with monsters born of Ganondorf's twisted wish, and the Temples that regulated the land's spiritual flows fell one by one. The Great Spirits were overwhelmed, for some of their number had been lost or corrupted, and the rest had lost access to the Sacred Realm where their powers to administrate the world's elements had most effect. With Hyrule's cornerstone unbalanced by demonic influences, everyone met with a terrible fate. Panicked, and left with no other options, the Sages pooled their power and erected an altar over the Sacred Realm's entrance, using the Master Sword as the keystone in a powerful seal that spiritually severed the Sacred Realm from the lands mortals treaded and sequester the King of Thieves' usurped rulership into a no-man's land, but the rest of the damage had already been done.
While the Sages had worked their seal, the land was torn apart by earthquakes and floods. Continents rose and continents fell. Some say stars fell from the sky, that mountains rose from plains and others crumbled, that rivers changed their flows. Few can remember clearly, just as none could say just how long this period of catastrophe lasted - time itself did not flow properly in this indeterminate period of turmoil that would become known as the Great Cataclysm.
When the dust settled, Ganondorf was sealed away, the Sages' gambit successful. The land was devastated however, and perhaps fated to never again be what it was. The loss of the Sacred Realm and the Triforce was the greatest worries, but many more stood beneath them. Time and the elements and seasons had been thrown out of balance, as had many of the world's greater workings. The duty of attending to these matters fell upon the shoulders of three new special individuals who'd appeared in these times, the Oracles of Ages, Seasons, and Secrets, whose existences was kept tightly guarded by Royal Family members and Great Spirits alike.
None could deny that the world had fallen far from the Era of Prosperity. Those who survived the Great Cataclysm and who were born in the times afterwards did not enjoy the luxuries of that which came before. Ancient texts written in the language of the gods of old, Ancient Hylian, were mostly lost, ashes in libraries that were burned when villages, cities, and towns fell prey to monster raids. The ancient Temples and other establishments, though they contained the relics of the old ways, from enchanted gear to forgotten craftsmanship techniques and family records, were impassable… within them lurked monsters and unspeakable dangers that only the bravest explorers would occasionally try to tackle. The different races mostly went their seperate ways while licking their many wounds, retaining only a few connections based on proximity, remembered traditions, necessity, and honor rather than the intricate and closely woven governments of before.
The damage Hyrule suffered spiritually, geographically, and ecologically further couldn't be denied. Without the ancient rites and oversight of the Great Spirits, fertility dropped considerably from the heaping abundance of before and agriculture became a precious exercise in back-breaking toil. The connections to the Sacred Realm going awry further maimed the natural cycle of life. While the undead had once been purely the product of dark magic and on rare occasions a matter of completing dire unfinished business before swiftly passing on, old battlefields became perilous at night, when the dead would rise from the soil, their minds utterly consumed by dark magic's corruptive influence. Countless monsters bred in dark places and ruled the night, while thieves and bandits who were unable to find a place in the newborn society marauded the countryside by day. Travel became dangerous, cutting locations off from one another. New races further complicated matters, particularly in the rivers. The River Zora menace continued long past the war, making settling next to the lifegiving waters of a river a risky proposition.
It's said that the defeated Hero, who survived the battle and the Great Cataclysm which followed, departed for lands unknown. The few who knew his origins guarded their knowledge, leaving all others to speculate. Where he had come from, what his techniques were, who his family was, and perhaps most importantly where he left to as a broken and depressed shell of his former self, ridden with guilt over his failure and the suffering he was unable to prevent. Fewer still know how or when he died. Some say that his spirit yet remains in Hyrule, unable to move on… seeking atonement for failing at the critical moment, and obtaining the victory that was denied him.
Though centuries passed in its making, modern Hyrule knows peace. The different races of the once glorious alliance are still bound by various accords and understandings, albeit far more distant than before. The economy and quality of life has reached a fragile plateau of stability, built on the deteriorating bones of their lost civilization.
But even that peace is threatened, as the Sages' seal, thought eternal, begins weakening…
The year is 1,000 AC (After Catacylsm), and the Kingdom of Hyrule faces a slow decline. By far and large amounts the biggest change has been an increase in Savage Race activity over the last decade, coupled with a very faint drop in crop yields and increase in strange yet hampering accidents. Criminals have gotten bolder, and now it isn't just savages like the Ocean Zora, Moblins, and occasional Lynel pride that troubles Hyrule.
The Hyrulean Mythos
These articles cover the creation of Hyrule and the grander and more pervasive forces at work through its origins and furthest history.
Hyrule was made by the great Golden Goddesses Din, Nayru, and Farore. Though they're said to have departed the world and pay little to no attention to daily occurences, on rare occasions events have transpired that only divine intervention can explain. The Goddesses are not ENTIRELY distant, but few if any would truly expect them to take direct action in the affairs of Hyrule. If they do have consistent influence over the world beyond laying its foundations and weaving its principles and physics, they remain unfound. This has lead them to become thought of as so distant, so uninvolved in their Creation beyond its design, that some call them the 'Old Gods,' and consider the missing Hylia or the functioning Great Spirits the modern, 'useful' ones.
"Din, with her strong flaming arms, cultivated the land and created the red earth."
Din, Goddess of Power, laid the foundations of the world. Earth, stone, metal. Her craftwork is the land itself that all things are bound to and live upon. It is said that she spearheaded the war against the demons. Due to this and beating and molding the world into new shapes, she is commonly called upon by warriors and smiths for insight. She is associated with the color red, the element of fire and the deep earth, and the sun.
"Nayru poured her wisdom onto the earth and gave the spirit of law to the world."
Nayru, Goddess of Wisdom, created the laws of physics, time, and causality. The intricate motions of the celestial bodies, the ordered cycles the world shifts through as they pass and stir the elements, the spirits that manage the world, these are all to her design. Legends hold that she encoded order into the world via song, and that echoes of it still resound through her work. During the Demon War, Nayru's brilliant tactics lead her sisters to victory. Rulers, mages, builders, and scholars look to her for insight. She is associated with the color blue, the element of water and the deep oceans, and the stars.
"Farore, with her rich soul, produced all life forms who would uphold the law."
Farore, Goddess of Courage, is the source of all living things, from the simplest blade of grass to the grandest tree, the lowliest ant to the mightiest Goron. Her breath is life, said to fill the world as air and wind. Farore's blessings come with the first breath of a newborn, but do not end when that individual has taken their last - her respiration is the flow of life, filling the world with life and retrieving it when the time comes, a cycle of reincarnation. Her name is invoked by those seeking luck, health, and fertility, and she is the patron of those undertaking journeys and thus undergoing change. She is associated with the color green, the elements of wind and the vast forests, and the moon.
Each of the Goddesses contributed more than this, however. For instance, Din is said to have been behind the overall design of the Gerudo and Goron races, even though it was Farore who ultimately made those designs a reality. Many theologians debate the exact natures of which Goddess is responsible for which part of the world. The wise know that none was truly responsible by themselves for anything, for the three Goddessesses acted as one.
When the Goddesses departed Hyrule, they left behind three golden triangles of incredible might - the Triforce. Said to contain the power of the Goddesses, it is the world's cornerstone, its foundation, and the source of all its reason. Without the Triforce, the world the Goddesses made would slowly fall apart into the chaos and ruin that it once was.
The Triforce is an omnipotent relic, a sacred treasure that, controversially, only mortals may use. Even the Goddess Hylia, tasked with its safekeeping, could not tap into its true power. Whoever lays hands on it shall have their deepest wishes granted.
At one time, when the world knew of the Triforce and its wish-granting might, wars were fought to claim it. The last of these was the Imprisoning War, which brought on the Great Cataclysm that tore the world asunder by Ganondorf's hand. Since then, while the Triforce emblem that's pervasive through much of the Kingdom of Hyrule's architecture and heraldry is called the mark of the Goddesses and a symbol of the Royal Family's right to rule, all knowledge of what the Triforce actually is has been kept closely guarded by the Royal Family.
The Triforce split when Ganondorf Dragmire laid hands upon it, and granted his wish imperfectly, as a result of his twisted and imbalanced heart. The Triforce of Power is still with him, but Wisdom sought out Zelda and Courage found the hero of the Imprisoning War. The Triforce of Wisdom and Triforce of Courage were both split into fragments and scattered across Hyrule as an emergency measure to keep Ganondorf from possessing them when the hero fell.
The Great Spirits
When the Goddesses made Hyrule, Nayru knew that the world needed caretakers to oversee the divine order that had been set down. This is the role of the Great Spirits, each of them an expression of primal forces within the world - some far more obvious than others. These mighty beings are administrators of the world's harmony, overseeing the flow of rivers, the growth of forests, the weather, and other aspects… and not all of them hold particularly distinct purviews; there is plenty of overlap. Prominent ones include:
- The Deku Tree, guardian of the Lost Woods and patron of the unaging Kokiri.
- Valoo the Wind Spirit, who takes the form of a great red dragon and acts as guardian of the Rito race.
- Jabun the water spirit, patron of the Zoras and known more archaically as Jabu-Jabu.
- The Wind Fish, who oversees the flow of Lifeforce through the world and the dreams it evokes.
- Levias the Sky Spirit, a more ancient and rarely seen air spirit.
- Venus, Queen of the Fairies, the only fairy counted among the ranks of the Great Spirits.
Tasked as they are with overseeing the World of Light's integrity, the Great Spirits take a distant and often impersonal approach to mortal affairs by mortal standards. Their souls are geared towards the infinite task each was granted, and it colors their interactions with mortals. That said, they are neither unemotional or infinitely wise and insightful creatures, merely very responsible who give form and voice to that which they embody and govern. The Great Spirits who often interact with mortals often form attachments to mortal dealings, and may shed tears at the passing of their favored people, but each tear shed is but a drop in the ocean of their countless similar experiences. Those who take up the role of patron deity are like distant parents and mentors, knowing when they must be stern and give guidance, and when they must let their children grow and learn and experiment on their own. Still, when the people are stymied it is to the Great Spirits they often turn to for advice - be it a societal crisis, or something puzzling like those who have committed crimes too great for mortals to judge.
In ancient times, their influence was far greater, as was their organization and cooperation. Nowadays, their powers have dwindled with the loss of the Sacred Realm, and it is all they can do to ensure that few to no calamities befall what they watch over directly. Worst, some were lost or… CHANGED in the Great Cataclysm, a traumatic time for all of them, and others have gone rogue and been guilty of ignoring their duties for centuries now.
The Great Spirits are ageless beings woven into the world's very fabric, and often sense when trouble is afoot, destiny is making itself known somehow, or other workings have begun moving… not all of which they control themselves. It is impossible for any forces within Hyrule to harm such grand beings; only energies from beyond Hyrule - that is to say, Dark Magic and Demons - can inflict real injury upon them.
The Dark World
The Sacred Realm was once the world of spirits, a dimension closer to the Goddesses where the sun shone a majestic red, not gold, and the Triforce was eventually housed for safekeeping by the Royal Family and the Council of Sages. The Great Spirits claim their powers flowed more freely here, letting them guide the natural world on a massive scale with great ease compared to the paltry duties they now perform in comparison.
The Sacred Realm was the biggest casualty of the Imprisoning War the moment Ganondorf laid his hands on the Power of Gold. His twisted desires to dominate the world flooded it with corruption, transforming the mighty realm into a bleak, horror-inducing, and dsyfunctional mirror of the mortal world where the forces of chaos and entropy run rampant. The water is a nausea-inducing green, the grass always seems just slightly withered, cliff faces of granite in the Light World are mirrored as walls of fused bones in some places and volcanic rocks in others. Villages are places of physical and spiritual desolation where few can eke out a living on the bare handful of salvageable plant and animal life that exists in what was once paradise. There's little refuge to be found in these places, for there rule of the strong and ruthless is the only law, and the weak suffer without hope of salvation.
Of the rareified 'ideal' version of Hyrule that it once was, unfettered by the nature of physical form, there is simply no sign.
Though the Sages sealed off every portal into and out of the Sacred Realm - known more commonly as the Dark World after its corruption - the Sacred Realm is inextricably woven into the very nature of Hyrule and cannot be truly seperated from it as much as they would wish. The Dark World's influence bleeds into everywhere, particularly those areas far from centers of civilization and the domains of the Great Spirits. Even then, there are places that show the aftereffects rather commonly.
Because spirits of the dead were meant to pass through the Sacred Realm after leaving their bodies, its loss interfered with the normal cycles of life and death. Now not all spirits make it to the realms beyond and remain trapped as earthbound souls - far from an ideal state. It is no longer the norm for spirits to pass on. Many remain in a tranquil state of slumber in their resting places, but there are many who suffer from fitful unrest. Burial grounds are dangerous places indeed during night, when the Dark World's influence is strongest. New life continues to enter Hyrule unmolested, though via what process no savant can truly say.
While it is a world that is decisively hostile to the World of Light, it is not particularly loyal to Ganondorf. Most inhabitants are unfortunates from Hyrule who stumbled upon a Moon Gate at a bad time and never found their way back home. Upon entering, they fell prey to the same curse that twists the land. The Dark World's curse transforms everything within it into all manner of shapes and forms, amplifying the traits and emotions that resonate most strongly with the forces of darkness and chaos (demons) where they can be found and ensuring that all who stay there for long will be scarred in their own way failing that. Some rare handful of people are lucky, and become anthropomorphic animals or even more benign or appealing things than the usual - monsters of many varieties, or stranger things that defy categorization (and some odd folk have even become trees.) Still, it's rarely a pleasant or useful transformation, and few forces can offer true and perfect protection.
Then there's the matter of finding one's way home…
The Goddess Hylia
Before the Golden Goddesses departed Hyrule, they created Hylia, a Goddess in her own slightly lesser right, to guard the Triforce, guide the primal world while it was still in its infancy, and watch over the Great Spirits should any problems arise with them.
While depictions of her remain to this day, she is barely remembered to any degree of detail, having apparently disappeared from the world long ago. What is known about her is that the Hylians are of her blood (there is dispute whether they are actually her descendants or were simply blessed by her power - most believe the latter) and she was the one who gave the Royal Family its divine right to rule.
None would ever guess that her soul continues to reincarnate within the Royal Family's oddly few female children, who traditionally all bear the name Zelda after ancient customs.
Before the Goddesses created Hyrule, there was only seething chaos… Chaos that they did not comprehend, and abhorred. They laid the foundations of their world upon one which already existed, one which they did not realize was there: the chaos they displaced. Given form to contrast with, the chaos took shape and understood individuality, what it was and what it was most decisively was not.
It was NOT of these Goddesses, and it was angry at them for the changes they brought.
The greatest of these 'unnatural' spirits named himself Demise, and guided his brethren into a great crusade against the world the Goddesses were still making. The Goddesses fought back, casting the demons deep within the prison of the Earth, shackled by chains forged by Din herself… or so ancient legends claim.
This seal could not remain forever. In time, Demise and every terrible thing imprisoned with him broke free and brought misery upon the world yet again. Many remain to this day, sealed away again or lurking out there in the dark places, waiting for the right moment to strike.
True Demon Lords are beings on par with the Great Spirits who possess calamitous Dark Magic as an innate quality. Most are quite malicious, and very few have grown fond of the world the way it is or taken a benign approach to it. At best, these few exceptions simply choose to not deliberately step on the ants that get in their way when they walk the land. They are just as ageless as the Great Spirits and indestructible as them. While they can sometimes suffer temporary injury from a mortal's efforts, most can only be truly fought with weapons bearing special enchantments of the highest caliber, or by the Great Spirits or Goddesses. Known prominent Demon Lords:
- Demise, self-proclaimed King of all Demons.
- Majora, a spirit of spite and calamity.
- Bellum, a spirit of consumption and corruption.
- Malladus, a spirit of ruination and devastation.
- Nightmare, a spirit of antagonism and reflection.
Additionally, at least two individuals rose to power comparable to the Demon Lords through Dark Magic and are often counted among their number:
- Ganondorf Dragmire, the great King of Evil.
- Vaati the Wind Mage.
Lesser Demons abound, however, and take all number of shapes and sizes. They often cause all kinds of trouble and misery, but thankfully are much easier to deal with using conventional arms.
Life, Death, and Undeath
The greatest thing the Goddess of Courage created was undoubtedly life itself. While the soul is widely accepted as the source of consciousness and memory, and bodies their corporeal shell, Lifeforce - a specific sub-type of Force (read below) is the glue that binds a soul to a body and gives a body the energy to continue on. Living beings are all a part of a greater cycle of Lifeforce flowing through Hyrule, with birth, life, and deaths all a natural part of this cycle - for those races who die naturally, that is.
When a person dies, their soul ideally journeys through the Sacred Realm and onwards to the Goddesses in the worlds beyond back to Farore. None know exactly what happens then, but reincarnation seems to follow in the vast majority of cases. Thus, the cycle of life is considered to be Farore's very breath. With each exhalation the Goddess breathes souls and life into the world, and with each breath taken afterward she welcomes back those whose time has come.
With reincarnation widely known, Hyrule's people don't particularly believe in afterlives - but many do reason that one should lead an honest life of merit and good behavior, lest the gods look unfavorably on their souls when their time comes. Burial rites in Hyrule vastly differ, but most of Hyrule's people follow some form of entombment. Cemeteries, burial mounds, and vast catacombs near population centers are quite common. Funerals are times of mourning as much as they are seeing the spirit of the departed off, and burying the dead with treasured belongings to see them off to the lands beyond or provide them comfort and familiarity for the trip is not uncommon - though destitute regions and peoples are usually quite minimal about it. Funeral pyres are rare, usually only employed to stave off plagues or deny a crisis involving a necromancer fresh bodies to defile.
In practice, the soul doesn't always depart the world of the living immediately after death. Those who die while leaving behind unfinished business of importance resist the pull of Farore's call and remain as ghosts. Most in Hyrule are unnerved by the spirits of the dead, and their presence is taken quite seriously when they appear. On the flip side, murder victims often leave ghosts behind, who are usually bound and determined to explain and/or avenge their deaths, so the spirits of the dead are a very helpful resource for solving terrible crimes. Though ghosts don't always immediately appear after death, certain magics can beckon a spirit to appear using their names, belongings, or the presence of loved ones to get their attention and make the magic reach them. If a spirit has already passed on completely to the next world, however, this obviously fails.
Lingering as a ghost is considered unnatural and unfortunate by the living, and it is a well-known fact that ghosts are prone to irrational and overly emotional behavior. The ones who lose themselves to this, or are exposed to excessive flows of Dark Magic… they become what are called Poes, unstable and usually malevolent spirits that are rarely more than mere shells of their former selves. Some of these roam freely, assaulting passerby in insane fits of rage or grief, while others lurk at their place of death or burial, lashing out at anyone who disturbs their rest. Some few are capable of conversation and behave more reasonably, but they're a rarity.
Several magical rites exist that cleanse and soothe the souls of the restless dead, allowing them to pass on peacefully. It's also widely known that a Poe that's beaten into submission is usually freed of their torment, and their spirit allowed to move on.
Things are considerably different where corporeal undead are involved. After all Lifeforce has left a body, it can no longer sustain life or the soul, and so corpses that yet walk are the most unnatural of all. Three varieties of such beings are most common in Hyrule, differing mostly on how far along their state of decomposition is.
- Stalfos, animated skeletons. Various nicknames and monikers exist which further categorize them by size and original race - though many of these are informal or slang at best.
- ReDead, the walking dead. Dessicated and heavily decomposed mobile corpses.
- Gibdos, the preserved dead. Gibdos are heavily wrapped in specially treated cloths and linens that slow rotting, though they're as dessicated as the ReDead.
As they're really just animated corpses any way you go about it, the nomenclature is cosmetic at best. Functionally, Stalfos are swift but fragile, while ReDead are slower yet tougher. The well-preserved Gibdos, protected by ancient burial wrappings, is slowest yet toughest of all. All three tend to develop foul Dark Magic-fueled powers through experience and age - ReDead in particular are well-known for possessing paralyzing, unearthly howls and similarly freezing glares. The same rites and means - including violence - which affect Poes can, thankfully, bring them rest as well.
Yet how does one end up this way?
The legitimate dead can inhabit their own corpses if emotionally driven direly enough that it overwhelms the nature of life to end. These individuals tap into a font of minor Dark Magic, putting their sanity at risk to reanimate themselves. Such individuals are rarely sane, and it is not at all uncommon for corporeal undead to quickly lose all sense of reason and themselves and become 'feral,' drawn to feast on the lifeforce of the living. Only the strongest willed spirits retain individuality and their wills. Feral undead are quite vulnerable to mental domination via necromancy, and even sane undead are handicapped in their attempts to resist.
The second way such things can exist is through the forbidden arts of Dark Magic. A mage who's well-versed in necromancy can conjure up wicked spirits and sheath them in the bones and flesh of the fallen. More advanced conjurers don't even need a body to begin with - Dark Magic seems to have an affinity to twisting death in terrible ways, and almost jumps at the chance to form into the revolting shapes of the restless dead. These undead are functionally identical to the feral undead in every fashion that counts, however, despite their strange origins.
Magic in Hyrule
In simplest terms, Magic is the act of manipulating Force energy. Those who would command magic are masters of this power within themselves and in the world itself.
Scholars know that 'Force,' often depicted or thought of as the breath of the Golden Goddesses, substantiates all reality. Lifeforce, the special gift of Farore, is but one aspect of the grander energy. The world simply teems with Force… the world IS Force. It is to Hyrule what threads are to a tapestry.
Hyrule seems to be supplied infinitely with Force energy through its connection with the Sacred Realm and the Triforce, though not all regions enjoy the supply equally, and the Dark World's taint has left its mark on some of them.
Force Springs are areas where Force energy exists in great abundance, often producing or resonating with some powerful local theme or element. A clearing in a grand forest, the bottom of a deep lake, and even some lasting cloud formations have been known to be such places. The seperation between the Sacred Realm and these places is weaker than normal here, allowing more Force power to gather and affect it. This was seen as natural however, and the beauteous expressions of the natural world that such a connection would form seen as a gift of the Goddesses, a piece of divine glory laid bare for mortal eyes. These sites often became the foundations for the grand temples to the spirits the ancients erected. Most folk with any sense for the mystical can detect them when they are near, though the uninitiated may not know what the sensations actually mean. All Spirits, Sages, and Fairies will detect a Force Spring when within a few hundred yards of it… or more, depending on its intensity.
Most mages know of several minor such places of power, and use them in many ways. Some erect their homes on them and use them as workshops, for instance. Nearly all lament that the construction techniques used to make the Temples, gateways into the Sacred Realm, have been lost. Even if they did not however, most people still tend to avoid the largest and strongest Force Springs ones (which are almost always Moon Gates - see below) because dark power's begun leaking from them more and more recently. Such places are often considered cursed - for they often sprout odd and dangerous phenomena related to dark and demonic magics.
Originally, Moon Gates were particularly special Force Springs that those few allowed access to the Sacred Realm used to reach it - and travel back. With the rise of the Dark Realm and the Sages' Seal however, most Moon Gates became all but impassable, save for a freak cases when the Force Springs were most active and the gates opened despite the seal, trapping the occasional unwary passerby within the Dark World. This decade has seen a rise in these incidents, however…
All the great Temples house, or can serve as Moon Gates, for they were once places where the Sages communed with the spirits on a regular basis.
Scholars speculate that they are named Moon Gates because the moon's light reveals their presence to the naked eye, by causing the portal area to glimmer and glow. They're technically known by several names, but 'Moon Gates' is the common term.
The Great Spirits, Sages, and Fairies are instinctively aware of nearby Moon Gates regardless of the Gate's status.
Where Force gathers, it slowly crystallizes to become a triangle-shaped gem that glows in one of a variety of colors based on the intensity and nature of the Force energy it contains. These can be found everywhere, albeit rarely. Under rocks, sometimes growing in tiny amounts in place of a plant's normal harvest, within the ground, and so on. They are particularly prominent in Places of Power.
Most Force Gems are trash and trinkets, often used to make charms or jewelry. Larger ones, however, are highly prized by magic users, for they play key roles in greater rituals, enchantment, and even refreshing one's own Force reserves.
When drained, a Force Gem becomes an ordinary gemstone, losing its glowing luster - and only scraps of the power it held remain. These, properly cut and marked with enchantments to inhibit forgery, Hyrule mints as Rupees, after ostensibly using the Gem's excess Force energy to improve the nation (often in strengthening old enchantments, creating new enchanted items, or offering to Spirits.) Suffice to say, people who bring in worthy Gems are rewarded handsomely.
When the spirits seek to work their will upon the world, they simply wish it and it is done. For the mortal populace, this is hardly so… but they are still a part of the world, and can work their will upon it as well.
When a mage uses magic, they tap into their body's excess Force energy (or draw from another source) and use this power to reweave the world around them, shaping the power into whatever form they wish. The knowledge and discipline required to actually accomplish anything with precision is tremendous. Mages spend years, if not their whole lives, learning the infinitesimal details of Hyrule's physics and thus how to fit their designs into the grander one. The world rejects improperly shaped Force energy patterns that do not fit its aesthetics and physics, resulting in dramatic and dangerous backlashes as the energy is thrown back and unwoven wildly, so mages are always taught 'start small.' Most learn their lesson the first time they blunder something bigger, if they survive it. The simple act of gaining control over one's Force energy requires spiritual discipline and great willpower, and as an art, is often acquired through meditation and focus, until it becomes like a new muscle the prospective mage can control on reflex.
Spells always begin internally, their domains and area of effect originating with the caster. Those terrible at controlling their Force energy often glow or exude filmy auras of various colors around the effects of their spell. When a mage wishes to hurl fire, it comes from his or her fingertips, not the skies… ordinarily. In order to cause fire to rain from the skies, one has to weave the spell in such a way that it affects the intervening territory and invokes the affect. This is ten times more difficult and far more wasteful, so those who use their personal spellcasting to accomplish such feats are doing it to show off or make an impression when bolts of lightning rain from the heavens.
However, the image of the sorcerer wielding elemental forces as a battering ram is only one - and one of the crudest, for that matter - uses of Force energy. Skilled mages learn such things as how to transmute matter, mend flesh, purge disease, glimpse into the workings of the destiny woven into Hyrule itself, commune with the spirits to negotiate for weather, dowse for clean water, and analyze fertility. Many specialize in one area over others, so the term 'mage' is quite general.
Great difficulty stands in the way of any who would properly and safely work a single magical effect. Thus do spells exist - codified, documented methods to achieve an end. A spell is much like a recipe, and novice mages do well to not stray far from their helping hand. As the act of magic - weaving the Force energy - is much like tying a knot, a variety of different methods exist for transcribing spells into forms that a reader can translate into the emotional discipline and weaving technique needed to control an energy that defies conventional measure and control. There are as many schools and such methods as there are modes of thought. Often, spells will include gestures and chants, but these are cosmetic. They serve only to help the caster focus and shape their thoughts and emotions to influence the spell as they weave it, rather than contributing any components directly.
There are, however, cases where rituals are called for instead. This is often a hybrid of normal spellcasting and the art of enchanting, technically, for it involves creating emblems, sigils, or drawing specific Force energies from mystical ingredients. Many spells oriented towards divinations, communing with spirits, and certain forms of healing are made far easier with such ingredients, and indeed many rituals exist and utilize such things simply because the techniques to weave Force energy into all of the forms needed simultaneously without them is the work of a true master. Rituals, tools, and ingredients make it easier.
A mage who understands the underlying concepts of a feat he wishes to manipulate need not rely on rigid, codified methods of manipulating Force, however. The mark of a truly great sorcerer (or any innate magic user, such as Fairies) is the ability to channel Force energy on the fly with great finesse through will alone. For fire, that would be invoking flames of varying temperature and volume with a mere gesture.
Only the cream of the crop ever reach that pinnacle of skill, and it is at this tier of spellwork that the very nature of one's soul is typically laid bare. It is very rare for an individual to master a form of magic their nature does not match - and almost unheard of for them to master one that conflicts directly (such as a person who resonates with destruction mastering healing) or to learn several this way.
Magic follows the basic principle of equivalent exchange: weave Force energy, achieve an effect proportional to that energy expenditure. As Force is the source of life and the substance of existence, mages who cast many spells quite literally exhaust their physical, mental, and spiritual stamina. Wasteful spellcasting leaves a sorcerer drained, and they require rest and relaxation to recover.
Not all beings are created equal. Some individuals are particularly gifted with one form of magic or another, prodigies in one or sometimes several fields who comprehend and channel magic involving them with incredible ease and finesse. This gift can be a double-edged sword, however, as it leads to specialization. Such magi who develop this way often find it incredibly difficult to further their skill and knowledge in other directions, and nearly impossible to do so in a conflicting direction.
It is not well-understood exactly what leads to these proclivities. In some cases, bloodline appears to play a part, but there are always exceptions within established lines, and those without any lineage to speak of have been known to possess powerful and unique natures.
This most commonly manifests as extreme control over some element or concept or another. Examples include fire, ice, wind, healing, shadow, light, or the more abstract defense or destruction. The more SPECIFIC and tightly defined the nature (such as fire rather than destruction), the more advanced the individual can push it, but the double-edged sword aspect means they're further restricted.
In any case, magical nature is almost always tied to personality. Those with a keen attunement to Healing are often caregivers and nurturers, for example.
All manner of phenomena can be achieved with magic. Common, though, is the use of elemental forces for destruction, spells to ward away evil spirits and intruders, to cure disease, to perform divinations, to weave illusions, to preserve food, and similar convenient miracles. Only the limits of the Goddess' design and intents for Force energy's power in the world restrict what magic can accomplish within the bounds of a mage's skill and supply of Force energy. If it exists naturally in the world, chances are it can be manipulated, detected, warped, amplified, invoked, or rewoven into a higher state of usefulness.
But as mentioned, there are LIMITS. Above all other things, the Goddesses value harmony and order, and Force energy rails against taking patterns that damage the world's rules or laws as set down during its making. Amongst these:
A) Most magical effects are transitory, and require an energy supply of some form to sustain.
B) The closer the effect is to every day happenings and simple concepts with straightforward direct effects, the easier it will be to work with. For instance, the grand flow of time is all but untouchable beyond local shifts to its speed and currents, rendering actual time travel through personal skill alone all but unheard of.
C) As death was never meant to be undone, magic cannot resurrect the fallen. It can heal all variety of injury, stave off death, expand lifespans, but not cure death itself.
D) It's difficult to reweave and warp the pattern of another being harmfully against their will, at least directly. The reason is because everyone's own spirit resists these changes as a matter of course, and can instinctively tell whether something is beneficial or harmful to it. Thus, a person may not be transmuted into fire directly, but could be subjected to a generated blaze just fine.
Just as it makes up the world, Force Energy substantiates and inhabits living bodies in tremendous amounts. When bodies are pushed and grow, they necessarily store and exert ever more Force Energy to support themselves. Lifeforce animates a living body. It is life, and stamina, and many other things all at once.
Those who've learned to tap into their Force energy and channel it can use it for more than just spellcasting. As a natural matter of course, when Force energy is cultivated and channeled through one's body, the excess Lifeforce expended amplifies it, and its capabilities, tremendously. Though fine control is a matter of practice and technique, and poor technique can lead to astounding injury, those who master enhancing themselves so can become tremendously effective athletes, warriors, and sometimes craftsmen (blacksmithing takes great strength, for instance, particularly when it involves mystic materials.)
Enhancement is a common path for those who learned to channel their Force energy but have no aptitude for Spellcasting to take, and to a limited fashion is often taken up as a side skill by mages, who use it to sharpen their senses and strengthen their body in tight situations that require it. That, and a lifestyle practicing such Enhancement often leads to swifter healing, overall health, fertility, and longevity.
All manner of bodily functions can be empowered, but most find it simplest to focus on strength, endurance, and agility. There are some who've found ways to enhance sight, smell, hearing, and other basic senses, but it's much more difficult and thus rare.
It is not unusual for the magically uninitiated to simply intuit this technique as they gain experience and train themselves. Indeed, they may not even realize what they are doing when they do it.
Rumors abound that the Sheikah have perfected this property of Force energy through secretive techniques that mix more traditional elemental magics, barriers, wards, and other mystical effects with it to create exotic martial arts styles.
While Spellcasting is impressive and Enhancement amazing, Ancient Hyrule truly prided itself on the arts of Enchanting and artificing… arts that were mostly lost in the Great Cataclysm. Not every individual will become a masterful mage, yet the demands of life far outstrip what available mages can accomplish. To preserve food for years without resorting to pickling or fermenting, to purify waste that would otherwise have to be buried or dumped into Hyrule's sparkling rivers, to control the climates within its grandest buildings and secure their passages and entrances, and to equip its people with gear that raises even a commoner on a pedestal of superhyrulean ability… this and more is what Hyrule's ancient artificers accomplished every day.
Enchanting is means of embedding spell-like effects within a physical structure. This is easier said than done. An Artificer must create, guide, or sustain a flow of Force within their creation which achieves the desired affect. Three historical examples are the Canes of Somaria, Byrna, and Pacci. Warlock Somaria was well known as an Enchanter who crafted staves able to form Force energy drawn from his body and the world around him into temporary solid shapes, using carefully engraved crystals embedded into his works as a focus. Archbishop Byrna, an adherent of Hylia, was a master of the protective arts. His creations contain delicate-seeming yet quite robust arrays of hair-thin fibers extruded from the helm of a Helmasaur, which channels the user's Force energy and protect it outwards into a shining barrier. Magus Pacci…
Pacci just really liked flipping things. This was accomplished rather easily using the spines of a Peahat within each staff, to enhance the channeled Force energy and give it lifting power when the bolt struck.
In each case, the staves themselves were constructed from wood originating from trees growing atop certain Force Springs within the Lost Woods and cured using a mixture of other exotic ingredients designed to enhance the material's Force-channeling properties.
Ingredients retrieved from the natural world vary from special plants and flower extracts to exotic minerals mined from special areas and tempered in mystical flames to the organs and hides of various beasts. Great efforts are done to slay the explosive beasts without direct violence, in order to carefully harvest their hide, stomachs, and other organs which. It's well-known that the Hide of a dodongo, properly treated and cured, is resistant to heat and flames, as is their stomachs, which are often used to store explosive materials. Much of the rest of their bodies, processed properly, are potent alchemical ingredients used to make special explosives.
Though their means of creation are arcane, one not need be a mage necessarily to use one. Some magical implements respire Force energy and maintain their own natural reserves. Practically speaking, there's limits to just how much a device can obtain its own power, however. Many ancient works break modern conventions on these limits though, especially those whose powers are so great as to be the subject of myth and legend. Many devices work off a basic principle of maintaining their own power source and then tapping into the wielder's as a source of backup power. Others rely solely on the wielder to be powered at all, while a third variety might draw on both at once and require significant time to recharge itself or drain the user swiftly if that time's skipped. Without Force, the device will not function.
In any case, upon claiming possession of an Enchanted device, most will quickly intuit their function. Often, simply willing the device to work its magic will trigger it to do just that. Some devices bestow a sense of just what they can do and how to will them to do it if there are many things they are capable of. Still others must be triggered using minor spells devised by the creator, to 'unlock' them. Then there is gear which, rather than needing to be used, bestows some passive effect, or simply grants its advantage as a matter of course - such as a bo staff carved from ancient ironwood. Provided one is strong enough to lift it, its advantage is quite self-evident.
The fourth and final branch of natural magic, Song Magic calls up the echoes of the grand melody Nayru sang when she laid the foundations of Hyrule's order… a song that, many say, can still be heard if one simply listens.
Each note of a mystical song resonates deep into the heart of Hyrule itself, and is for this matter quite pleasing to all spirits who hear it. Well-played, such songs remind reality of the Goddesses' wills and wonders, rendering such performances one of the most sincere forms of honoring the Old Gods and the Great Spirits. Little wonder, then, that any who would call themselves a priest, priestess, attendant, or other religious title are often masterful musicians, or that song is used as the chief way to beseech the distant Great Spirits or honor the Goddesses at festivals.
Song Magic demands much from the performer. They must have a grasp on their Force energy just as a mage does, and many talents beyond it. It is said that only those whose emotions run deep and strong, who can deduce the melody the wind plays when it wafts through leaves, grasp the rhythm of a rainstorm, and capture the majesty of the sunrise in their heart have the talent to mimic the songs of the world. Song Magic goes far beyond the notes, and is the only branch of magic which is an art more than a science. To a lesser degree, dancing also has a capacity to evoke magic from the world, and the two are sometimes used in tandem, but Song Magic is far more prominent and practical.
What can Song Magic do? Its effects are even more transitory than normal Spellcasting. Songs affect the world on a grander, but slower and often less focused scale. Most common songs simply affect the wind and weather. Others beseech the earth and stone to sing back, and the keen musician can thus deduce where valuable ore deposits might lie, or where the land is most fertile for agriculture, or where underground springs and rivers can be found. Some reach across any distance to be heard by a particular spirit whose nature is tied to the song. One particularly grand and potent melody, the Sun's Song, composed by studying the rising sun for years on end, fills the surrounding area with morning sunlight for several minutes. Ancient Hylians of great import would often design locks which can only be triggered by a mystic song played before them.
A mystical musician uses Enchanted instruments for best effect, though some less-talented ones can't manage at all without them. These come in all shapes and sizes, though very few of them are particularly POWERFUL or have any specific powers on their own. Still, some do. In fact, some of the most unusual enchanted items happen to be instruments geared towards a purpose. (Such as the 'Bagpipes of Severing.')
It is technically possible to manage song magic using nothing but voice, but only for the extremely gifted. Most can barely make a song resonate without an instrument, and those who can go entirely without any and compete with - or even OUTPERFORM - those who do are exceedingly rare individuals thought especially blessed by the Goddesses.
Song Magic is explicitly incompatible with Dark Magic. Though many who practice the forbidden arts have tried, no feat of Dark Magic can be accomplished through song, and instruments infused with dark magics never cooperate with the songs of the world the Goddesses made. In fact, it is very difficult for Dark Magic users who have gone deeply down the path to even invoke Song Magic at all. If songs from before the world was made exist, however, none have been discovered, and scholars can only shiver at the thought of what they might do.
In ancient times, the people of Hyrule erected many shrines honoring the Goddesses, Great Spirits, and even the primal expressions of mystical concepts found in the Force Energy substantiating their world, atop the strongest Force Springs. These locations were centers of spiritual communion with the natural world, religious ceremony, and occasionally more exotic and unusual roles such as libraries, courts of law, and prisons depending on the surrounding's needs. These Temples were constructed using now-lost methods which fully harnessed and considerably amplified their underlying Force Springs, and grant a fragment of power bordering the divine to a person of great import: the Temple's Sage.
The position of Sage was a multi-faceted one. The Sages were keepers of knowledge who pursued developing the world while maintaining the world's balance of Force Energy, and often served as intermediaries with the Great Spirits and held seats in the ruling Council of Sages, which alone had the power to veto motions presented by even a united Council of Rulers and Council of Lords. When matters of great import that affected all of Hyrule required attention, it was the Sages who ultimately stepped in to make key decisions, divining a course of action through their wisdom and communion with the Great Spirits.
The power of a Sage is vast: each is spiritually bound to their Temple through an enigmatic process. This bond, unaffected by paltry matters such as distance, raises a Sage to a state transcending mortality. More akin to the Great Spirits, their bodies become ageless constructions of Force Energy no longer directly bound by physiological concepts such as race or gender (though most Sages retain their previous appearances and identities for sake of convenience and familiarity). The power they command over the domain their Temple harnesses and amplifies is tremendous and far greater than any mortal can hope to channel no matter the ritual, short of empowerment by the most legendary of mystical aides and talismans.
The only way a Sage can die is through violent death. This requires incredible magical power, often Dark Magic, to harm a Sage in their spiritual form, though when manifested corporeally a Sage is as vulnerable to damage as their form normally would be. They can be killed, but the Temple and the forces of Destiny tied to it will always guide another to take their place eventually. A Sage can also 'step down' from the position, but only if they have located a suitable replacement. The descendants of a Sage are often such candidates, but not always, and not every candidate need be related in any way whatsoever. Such descendants are, however, often mystically linked to the Sage in question and often inherit unusually strong magical talent from their heritage.
It's assumed that everyone who has ever or will ever become a Sage has some kind of innate quality that the Temple requires, but nobody knows exactly what those qualities might be. The underlying principles of the Sage system was never fully described by the Goddess Hylia, who is said to have provided merely the intrinsic architectural designs to invoke it, fearing what may happen if that knowledge fell into the wrong hands.
The Sage System is completely incompatible with Dark Magic. A Sage may never even attempt to learn it. Their natures are too tied to the fundamental principles of Hyrule, and their spirits lack the capacity to develop that special 'insanity' Dark Magic requires.
In the beginning, it was Din who shaped the Earth, Nayru who forged the patterns of Order through song, Farore who breathed life…. but before them was Darkness and Chaos. Though the Goddesses sealed it away deep in the earth, it cannot be denied, seething through the cracks and crevices throughout Hyrule and waiting to be unleashed. The Anti-thesis of all that the Goddesses created, it can be tapped by those seeking to reshape the Earth wrought by Din's arms, to defile the patterns Nayru sang, and return life to those who exhaled the spirit Farore gave them. That is Dark Magic, arts forbidden by the Goddesses. Any mystical feat that seeks to warp and usurp the natural flows of the world against the their grand design falls under this category.
Dark Magic is invoked in much the same way that normal magic is. However, it requires the caster to essentially denounce, in his or her heart, the ways of balance. It may begin as a quest for power unrivaled, which Dark Magic can certainly provide. Perhaps contempt, indignation, or a desire for revenge sparked it instead. Ancient tales in Hyrule often describe that those who 'fall' to the allure of Dark Magic do so from deep-rooted hatred, unbridled spite, lust for power, and other 'dangerous' thoughts and feelings. Casting their respect for the world and the natural order aside, these individuals open themselves to the Chaos that was the world before the Goddesses came, and in so doing declare themselves outsiders to the world that gave them life.
Regardless of how one becomes adept at the Dark Arts, nothing comes for free, and those who seek to master the Dark Arts, bit by bit, give up something of themselves in turn. Twisting and warping the work of the Goddesses does the same to oneself. Dark enlightenment brought by Chaos' touch attacks the user, body, mind, and spirit. No user of Dark Magic can escape the changes it brings. Physical changes are usually mutations and abberations that begin at skin color changes and end with monstrous transformations into demonic forms for those who've wholly embraced the forbidden arts. Mental changes occur too, as emotions become unpredictable and volatile, seething deeply like a volcano. Emotions once kept in balance shift wildly, with urges often becoming irresistible, firm beliefs becoming mad zealotry and a spiral into insane obsessions, and sometimes much worse.
How well one handles these changes depends entirely on a person's strength of spirit. The stronger one's will, focus, emotional discipline, and vision, the better one can remain mostly themselves. It is these individuals who are feared the most by all who dwell in Hyrule. It is important to note, however, that while users of Dark Magic are always twisted in some fashion from the perspective of Hyrule's inhabitants, expected to fall into madness and become a menace to the world, not every practitioner of the Forbidden Arts fits the traditional 'dark lord' or 'crazed necromancer' image that most often comes to mind - some are simply 'misguided' souls, others take much longer to fall so far. Similarly, nor is it entirely impossible for a person who has started down the path to turn away from it… or so some theorize. Most however, believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
To date, the only known cases of anyone turning away from Dark Magic happened the first time they touched it, recoiling away from that enlightenment for one reason or another.
Once a mage has properly initialized themselves in the forbidden arts and gained an understanding of them, they have quite an array of magic available to them that would otherwise be impossible to use. The well-known art of necromancy falls under this art, the antithesis to Farore in binding souls that should be departing to corpses, animating bodies with a false life as a near-mindless puppet, and conjuring specters of the dead's malice. Other black sorcerers pervert and twist the elements, learn to warp the physical world and lay deep-rooted curses on others that take away their form, will, or poison them to the core. Still more seek communion with their predecessors, those spirits of animate Chaos that became known as 'Demons,' to serve the stronger ones and summon the weaker creatures as slaves. More achieve otherwise impossible goals against the natural order - such as transcending their mortal flesh and spirit to become something much more. Unlike regular magic (or Light Magic, as some sages call it), Song has no power with Chaos - in fact, it absolutely abhors it. It is impossible for even a very talented singer mage to use Dark Magic in conjuction with his or her other skill.
It is quite possible, however, to enchant objects with Dark Magic. These objects often must be crafted in areas saturated/poisoned by Dark Magic's taint and constructed very carefully.
Ordinary magic is ill-suited to combat the heights of what Dark Magic can accomplish in the hands of a truly adept wielder. All but the best defenses are easily torn asunder or bypassed, and few counterspells and other means have much effect. Dark Magic has even been proven capable of crippling the Great Spirits themselves, who are thought to be above any serious physical or mystical harm by beings of Hyrule. There do exist rituals and spells designed to purge it, but only the most potent mages - often specialists in the arts - stand a chance to directly counter it.
When the Goddesses created Hyrule, Farore breathed life into countless creatures and blessed the world with the potential to devise even more. In addition to the large variety of flora and fauna, a handful of races stand atop the others, having developed culture and developing the world to better suit their lives.
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Life in Hyrule
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People Worth Knowing
Hyrule is filled with skilled and noteworthy folk, some quite unusual. This list attempts to compile some of the most important ones. Just because one is not listed does not mean they do not exist - appers are wise to confer with existing cast for adaptation info.
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