Yes yes, it’s true! I have finally decided to tackle the unholy beast that is Majora’s Mask. I’m pretty sure this will be a one-off unless I can miraculously find something about the Fierce Deity or the Happy Mask Salesman that’s worth mentioning. I’m not particularly hopeful; it was hard enough coming up with something to say about Ikana, let alone two people that seem to be ambiguous for ambiguity’s own sake.
Which makes them AWESOME. But, still. You know, they’re hard to talk about.
Anyway, on with the lore!
Ikana Canyon is probably the bleakest and most desolate place in all of Termina. Plagued by the undead, bloodthirsty assassins, and really creepy music, the Canyon is hardly an inviting place. And, if it wasn’t bad enough to have the Moon hovering over you, frowning down at Termina like a very disappointed parent, now Ikana’s Stone Tower Temple looks in the distance, casting its shadow over everything in the area (metaphorically, of course).
But why is this so? Why has Ikana so utterly collapsed? Well, the obvious answer is that Ikana got into a rather devastating war with a shadow group of ninja called the Garo. Who the Garo are, however, and why they were fighting the Ikanans has always been a mystery, UNTIL NOW. Well, maybe. I can at least offer some grossly overcompensating speculation and wishful thinking.
So let’s start this off by talking about something that’s a real big deal— how Ikana works (or doesn’t) with the Golden Goddesses of Termina.
It doesn’t seem like Termina worships the Golden Goddesses or even realizes that they exist. The only time the Triforce shows up (I’m not counting Romani because she is just a recycled model from Ocarina of Time, similar to how Romania Ranch has the sign for Kakariko Village in front of it) is in and near Ikana Canyon. And such references are never pleasant ones. Pillars with grotesque, gargoyle-like creatures are shown holding the Triforce over what appears to be their crotch area. Also, their long tongues appear to be licking the Triforce— which, as one could reasonably guess, is a pretty unflattering way to make reference to the symbol of a pantheon. Furthermore, it seems as though Termina worships the Four Giants more than anything else. Their folk tales and ceremonies, combined with the Giant’s desire to protect Termina, show a close bond between Giants and Terminians.
And yet, the light arrows, the symbol of the Golden Goddesses’ justice, appear in Termina atop Stone Tower Temple. That small detail is actually a rather important one when it comes to unraveling the mystery of Stone Tower Temple and Ikana Canyon.
On the subject of light, let’s take a look at what king Igos du Ikana has to say in reference to “light.”
- In his fight intro: “Oh, insolent one who has brought the unthinkable into a land as dark as Ikana…”
“My servants have fallen namelessly before the light that guides [Link].”
- In his fight outro: “On my kingdom… shine the light of justice…”
So from this, we can see that “the unthinkable” is the light that Link carries with him. Even though Tatl tries to hint that “the unthinkable” is some kind of physical object (which, in a way it is— Link must use rays of light to defeat Igos and his servants), Link is not exactly literally carrying light into the Castle. Instead, I think “the unthinkable” is some kind of metaphysical or magical light that Link happens to be blessed with. Note that Link is still carrying the Ocarina of Time, an heirloom of the Hyrule Royal Family and a tool necessary to open the Door of Time and claim the Master Sword. In that way, Link is still linked to Hyrule and the Golden Goddesses, even while in Termina. Compound this with Igos’ second mentioned quote about his servants falling to “the light that guides [Link].” While the verb “guide” confuses me a bit, since aside from the Happy Mask Salesman, Link is hardly “guided” through Termina by any one force.
And I refuse to get into Happy Mask Salesman theories now. We’ll be here all day if I did that.
So then, if we continue to assume that the “the unthinkable” is the same thing as the “light” that guides Link and that “light” is the presence of the Golden Goddesses (which would be suitably foreign, since the Golden Goddesses don’t really seem to have a presence in Termina outside of the blasphemy in Ikana), then the light of the Golden Goddesses must had destroyed vast amounts of Ikana in the past. Now, this seems a little odd since Ikana’s go-to historical conflict is their fight with the Garo. Furthermore, Igos’ comment on the “light of justice” makes me think of the light arrows. After all, their description in Majora’s Mask reads, “The light of justice shall target evil!” Igos knows that his kingdom is filled with darkness and wants that light, that “unthinkable” to be used to purge his land of darkness… even though that same light brought his kingdom to ruin…
And so, we arrive at this theory’s primary points.
- The Golden Goddesses’ actions brought Ikana to ruin.
- The Garo were sent to Termina by the Goddesses (consider how the Garo Master guards the light arrows and tells you how to use them) to destroy Ikana for their blasphemy. The evil that was released from Stone Tower Temple by Skull Kid was the Garo and their Master which stalk the land anew. Twinmold is the Masked Beast of Ikana but it may not be the only thing cursing the Canyon.
It’s good to remember that, regardless of how blasphemous Stone Tower Temple might be to the Golden Goddesses (I mean, have you seen that burning finger pointing skyward?), the Temple is still a temple to the Giants of Termina. As the Giant in Snowhead reveals and as Talt translates, “Guardians.” Guardians? So…You’re protective gods? That’s why you’re in the temples… But…why are the protective gods…?” So, regardless of the actual nature of the Temple, it is still there to venerate the Giants. And regardless of the evil it may or may not symbolize and encapsulate, the Giant inside is still willing to help the Ikanans and Termina when the Moon starts to fall.
However, I do find it a bit strange that there are no Triforce-defiling pillars in the Ikana Castle. Perhaps even the Ikanas found some things scared, so they wanted to keep their blasphemy to one place. Regardless, what Igos Du Ikana says about the nature of Stone Tower Temple is a little odd. He says, “It all happened after somebody trust open the doors of that Stone Tower,” and as a follow-up to that, “To return true light to this land, you must seal the doors of Stone Tower where the winds of darkness blow through.” So, what I take this to mean is that Skull Kid went and opened Stone Tower Temple after it had been sealed off and inflicted the realm with a terrible curse. However, up until this point, the genesis points of the affliction with Majora’s curses appear to have been very easy to pick out. After all, when the bosses of any given area are defeated, the curse would receipt. Spring would come back to the mountains when Goht fell and when Odolwa died, the waters in the Southern Swamp cleared up. However, I would like to defend the earlier point that the evil that came out of the Temple wasn’t from Twinmold, it was from the Garo being released once again into Ikana. Twinmold just happened to be what was cursed by Skull Kid. Or, to perhaps phrase it a little more clearly:
There are two curses currently afflicting Ikana Canyon.
- The Garo have been released from Stone Tower Temple and are causing the Ikanans who are still “alive” to become violent and squabbling. Note how the Garo are referred to having an aura of bloodthirstiness around them.
- Twinmold is cursed by Majora, sealing away one of the Giants and reanimating the corpses of Redeads and Gibdos.
The Garo, Twinmold, and the Temple
It’s important to remember that no Garo (minus the Master) are still alive. Instead, they are Garo Robes, just malevolent spirits possessing the robes and swords of their physical bodies. After all, when they die off, they only vanish in green smoke, showing no physical body left behind. This is in contrast to the Garo Master who uses a bomb to blow his corpse up, implying that if he did not do so, there would have been a corpse left over. Also, only the Garo Master will challenge Link directly. All of the Garo Robes need to be summoned with the Garo Mask. Meaning, if Igos speaks of the darkness coming from the Temple in a more metaphorical state (meaning, he’s not talking about specific physical entities coming through it to attack Ikana) then it may still be that he is talking about the Garo. With no physical forms, the Garo certainly do have a kind of phantasmal or incorporeal quality to them.
While I’m not sure what it exactly means, I think it’s worth looking at who holds the Garo Mask that Link can eventually use— the Gorman Brothers. Now, I see no connection between the Brothers and the greater Garo society, so I can only assume that, as bandits, they are using the Garo Masks only as a way to instill fear into their victims. And, let’s be honest here, Garo Masks are kinda creepy-looking. So, this can present one of two possibilities:
A: The Gorman Brothers are aware of the connotations of the Garo Mask and use it specifically to evoke a feeling of bloodthirstiness. In order for this to be true though, the legend of the Garo would have had to extended past Ikana Canyon or the Garo may have even been seen out of the Canyon at one point and they have a legacy of killing in the rest of Termina.
Given the worship of the Giants in the greater Terminian sphere, especially around Clock Town, the Garo sowing chaos elsewhere in the country maybe isn’t so farfetched.
B: The Gorman Brothers are unaware of the Garo Masks’ connotations and just want to scare the pants out of people with a scary disguise.
As a Garo Robe may mention when defeated, “If you shoot that which releases the sacred golden light into the blood-stained red emblem outside the temple… it shall rearrange things.” The mention of “Blood-stained” is something that shows up quite often in reference to Ikana. After all, the Garo are summoned when there is a “thirst for blood” nearby and Ikana is described as having a bloodstained past. So, it would make sense that the red emblem is a kind of “heart” or at least a focal point for Stone Tower Temple’s energies. After all, shooting it with the light arrows does indeed turn the entire world (or at least the world of the Temple) upside down. So, it would need to be some kind of “heart” or focal point for it to be strong enough to have such an adverse effect on reality.
Now, because of Igos less-than-happy references to Stone Tower Temple, even referring to it with, “that” implying a level of psychological distance from it. However, on Igos’ broach one can see the red symbol of Stone Tower Temple. The same symbol can be seen throughout the Castle too, showing that the Ikana royal family had some kind of connection to Stone Tower Temple for quite a while. In other words, while there is a theory out there that Stone Tower Temple could have existed before Ikana Kingdom was formed, there are too many connections back to the royal family for me to believe that. Instead, Igos’ impersonal way of talking about the Temple might just imply that, since the Garo and this new curse originated in the Temple, that Igos simply dislikes its current state. And since the king has the way to get up the Tower (Elegy of Emptiness) firmly up his sleeve, it is pretty clear to see that Ikana has had some kind of access to the Tower for some time.
And now to turn to the evidence supporting the Garo being the real evil coming from the Temple which Igos is concerned about… It all revolves on where their leader comes from.
What should not be overlooked is where the Garo Master comes from. When Link enters the Garo Master’s room, he (the Master) drops down from the ceiling. Link will revisit this room later when he is on the ceiling of the tower. However, what is interesting is that the hole that the Garo Master fell from is now the entrance portal Twinmold’s realm. Remember that Twinmold is one of the masked beings that Skull Kid/Majora unleashed upon the world to spread the curse of misfortune. Also do remember the earlier point about the Garo Master being the guardian of the light arrows. Those light arrows are so contrary to the Stone Tower Temple’s physicality that simply shooting the arrows (which are, again, symbols of the Golden Goddesses) at the red sigil of the Tower causes the whole thing to turn upside down. So, to put it a bit more plainly: The Garo Master comes down from heaven to fight Link. Meanwhile: Link must descend into hell to fight Twinmold. The Garo Master guards the light arrows in a tower meant to climb into the sky and blaspheme the Triforce, so it only makes sense that it could down from heaven to smite intruders. Meanwhile, because of Twinmold’s obviously evil presence, it is banished into a kind of underworld. After all, under normal circumstances, no normal person could reach Twinmold in the Temple (unless they just had a really tall ladder, I guess). This effectively seals Twinmold off, making it inaccessible.
However, since the Garo Master comes from that same gap in the ceiling/floor, perhaps it is actually possible that when the tower is flipped, what is inside that hole changes. After all, if we’re keeping with the “up from heaven, down to hell” idea than the Garo Master would have no place coming from Twinmold’s realm and Twinmold would hardly suffer the Garo Master (also note that Skull Kid would have to likely come in contact with the Garo Master when he came to curse/release Twinmold). So really, perhaps the portal, when the Tower is right-side-up, actually goes to somewhere else entirely.
Also, Twinmold isn’t the only thing of interest inside its realm. It is also the only place in the game where the Giant’s Mask can be used. Now, if we consider the earlier point about the Giant’s Mask being a kind of weapon to challenge the Golden Goddesses and to revere the Giants of Termina, than perhaps it is all the more fitting to continue with the “down to hell” idea (also keep in mind that Twinmold’s realm is the deepest part of the Temple and Twinmold had captured the Giant of Ikana— so the Giant’s Mask can only be used in the Giant’s inner sanctum). Because, if the Golden Goddesses only allow somebody into Twinmold’s realm if they have the light arrows, the symbol of their righteousness, then perhaps it is thought that the hero going into Twinmold’s realm would also seal the whole thing off completely after destroying the beast. After all, the Giant’s Mask has huge importance in the Ikana culture and if that is the only place it can be used, then the Goddesses would likely see it as an even more evil place.
Unless, of course, Twinmold wasn’t affiliated with the Ikanas at all. Everything up until this point has been working off of the assumption that Twinmold is actually an evil sealed away inside a realm opposite and yet parallel to where the Garo Master came from. However, remembering that my earlier point was that the Garo are actually the evil being released from Stone Tower Temple, Twinmold might actually have been created by the Golden Goddesses as a kind of guardian of the desert realm where the Giant’s Mask could be used. After all, consider that the Giant’s Mask is the Ikana’s ultimate weapon against the Goddesses and it can only be used in that one room. So why wouldn’t the Goddesses want to instill some kind of protector there? The opportunist/anarchist spirit of Majora’s Mask merely took advantage of Twinmold, turning it into a Masked Beast. The creation of the Masked Beasts has always interested me but if one looks at Goht, it seems like the Beasts had always existed in some physical form or other but Majora’s Mask/Skull Kid simply corrupted them. Considering that Goht was stuck in ice for what would have to be a very long time, Majora may have just placed a curse on it, turning it into a kind of genesis point for the greater curse in the Snowhead Mountains. After all, the importance of masks in the game as plot points and the representation of the four Beast’s masks on four of the five children on the Moon possibly alludes to them being tools for Majora or symbols of evil that corrupt the wearer in much the same way that Majora’s Mask corrupted Skull Kid.
So, rather than the Goddesses sealing Twinmold away seeing it as a threat, they instead sealed away the only realm where the Giant’s Mask could work and Twinmold was some kind of guard. After all, as some players would know, without the Giant’s Mask, the battle with Twinmold is quite challenging given the huge size deficiency on Link’s end.
If it sounds like there is a level of indecision going on in my head, that’s because there is one. Is Twinmold a beast under the employ of Ikana or is it a creation of the Golden Goddesses meant to guard the realm where the Giant’s Mask can be used? I don’t know, obviously. And either explanation makes a good deal of sense. What it really comes down to is the nature of Twinmold’s realm.
Just what the heck is it?
The pieces of architecture imply some kind of ruined temple but the pillars in the area very clearly have Majora’s Mask on them. And then if you believe the idea that part of the entrance room of the Temple, once said room as been flipped upside-down, resembles Majora’s Mask as well, things get all kinds of confusing. After all, it would imply some kind of connection between the Ikana people and Majora, going all the way back to the creation of the Temple. And this level of visual connectivity isn’t even all that rare when you consider the theory on the Fused Shadow; that theory being if you overlay Majora’s Mask on top of the Fused Shadow, the left eye of the Shadow seems to line up perfectly with the eye of Majora’s Mask. Not that the Fused Shadow has anything to do with Ikana necessarily, but Majora’s Mask does tend to get around in the lore and speculation field.
And yet, if there is some kind of connection between Ikana and Majora, I have no idea what it could be. After all, whatever Skull Kid decided to release from Stone Tower Temple was bad enough for Igos to want it gone. As a man who is already dead, this problem must be pretty huge to rustle his jimmies. Regardless, since we all know that Majora is really the one in charge of Skull Kid, if Majora had some kind of positive connection to Ikana, it wouldn’t have let Skull Kid curse them with Twinmold/the Garos. Not like Majora seems like the kind of person/entity to respect partnerships, especially when one of the Giants could be captured as a result, Majora’s lack of care about Ikana sticks out as a little odd.
But hey, this whole situation is a little bats, isn’t it?
So, I come to the only conclusion I can about Majora’s presence in Stone Tower Temple:
The Ikana people wanted to use Majora’s power to further fuel their Temple and arms cache. Since Majora’s Mask is clearly very powerful, powerful enough to destroy Termina and make even the seemingly-omnipotent Happy Mask Salesman turn into an emotional wreck, it would certainly be an asset to the Ikanans. They already seem to be in the business of incredibly-powerful masks, anyway. So, the references to Majora’s Mask might have just been a way to appeal to Majora and perhaps win favour with it. If it was, the Ikanans needed to do more research because that plan is awful.
You may be able to say the same thing about me, actually. But hey, this lore stuff doesn’t exactly present itself on a plate.
One further really out-there theory
The Ikanans were out to destroy the world, for what exact purpose I am unsure. But instead of building the Ikana Tower up to the heavens like the Tower of Babel, perhaps they were building it up to the Moon instead? Majora clearly realizes that the best way to end the world is just to crash its nearest heavenly body into it, so with the height of the tower, reliance on unholy energy (remember how the holy light arrows turn the entire tower around), and attempts to control huge amounts of power in masks (Giant’s Mask), perhaps the Ikanans sought to bring the world under their control using the Moon. Naturally though, the Giants could stop the moon from falling. But, what if the Giants were no longer there? What if they had also been brought low by the Ikanans and the Giant’s Mask was their way of making sure the balance of power remained with them?
Well, that might (maybe possibly somehow not really) make sense if the Ikanans had any reason to want to conquer the world. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of real diplomatic relations between Ikana and the other realms. One can’t even cite religious differences since everybody seems to either worship the Giants or not even talk about their beliefs. Again, the only things that the Ikanans fight against are:
- Themselves (Igos: “The Kingdom being ruined and us left in this state… Isn’t it petty, little battles like this that have caused it?”)
- The Garo
- The Golden Goddesses
None of those things would exactly benefit from having Termina get squished by the Moon but it seems like an awful fatalistic way to conquer the world. And so, I think I’ll have to leave that in the “maybe but almost certainly not” pile of theories.
So, here we are. My theories lay broken, battered, and exhausted. There they wait to be judged and debated over by lorequesters on a quest. For lore. About Majora’s Mask. Obviously. That’s what this whole post was about. Haven’t you been paying attention? GEEZE.
Sometimes I just type words and don’t expect them to mean anything.
Which is how Lorequest started, incidentally.
Well, there’s 3,000+ words all amounting to one giant shrug. Yup, that’s a successful Lorequest for you, glad I could be of assistance, entire internet! I’ll be going back to Shadow of the Colossus next. Colossus #4 is in progress and I think I’ll do Colossus 5 and maybe 6 before moving on to a character spot.
But in the meantime, if you managed to read all of that Majora’s Mask post, let me know if you find anything hilariously wrong or grievously in need of fixing. Because, by gum, I will take notice and attempt to shoehorn in whatever needs to be shoehorned! This is lore, darrnit! It’s meant to be slow and dirty!
Good luck, all your brave lore-questing folk!
1. Images from the Zelda wiki
2. Screenshot from Chuggaaconroy’s Let’s Play of Majora’s Mask