Throughout the Zelda series, there are a number of gods and spirits that are responsible for how Hyrule (and the other realms) are shaped in addition to the three known goddesses. Zephos and Cyclos, for example, are god/demigods responsible for monitoring the wind in The Wind Waker. The Great Deku Tree is an obvious example, a forest entity that acts as the spiritual protector of the Kokiri in Ocarina of Time. Other gods/spirits appear to be more malicious in their presence, such as Bellum and the various Poes that populate the landscape. Two such malevolent entities are central to Majora’s Mask and have been the talk of Zelda fans since 2000: Majora itself and the Fierce Deity. Majora is, of course, the insidious enemy that is sealed in Majora’s Mask and possessed a Skull Kid in order to wreak havoc on Termina. The Fierce Deity, on the other hand, is shrouded in mystery. Outside of fan theory and non-canon material, the only information regarding this terrifyingly powerful mask is that it may house a spirit more evil than Majora, and that it turns Link into an unstoppable killing machine. In this Untapped Potential, we’ll look at existing information regarding both Majora and the Fierce Deity and speculate just what exactly these two demigods are/what their relationship to each other is, in addition to what Nintendo can do to flesh their stories out in future Zelda games. It’s gonna be super kewl.
What We Know
Majora itself (it’s gender is never defined) is an evil spirit/god/whatever that existed an undefined period of time before the events of Majora’s Mask. Though we don’t know many details regarding Majora’s history before the events of Majora’s Mask, it’s described as an evil trickster god, along the lines of Loki in Norse mythology. A certain tribe (no official confirmation WHICH tribe) was said to use the mask during their hexing rituals. The purpose of these rituals is unclear, but we can assume that based on Majora’s existence as a malevolent entity that this tribe used the mask for less-than-pleasant purposes. Because of it’s maliciousness, Majora was subdued and sealed within the titular mask by…somebody…after the disappearance of the tribe that employed its wicked power. The mask managed to circulate from place to place over the years and wound up in the hands of the Happy Mask Salesman. The mask was then stolen by a mischievous Skull Kid, who was subsequently possessed by Majora and made to do the evil spirits’ bidding. Majora uses the Skull Kid to sow calamity in Termina and doom the realm to perish in a fiery cataclysm within three days as the moon comes falling from the sky. Thanks to the efforts of Link and Tatl, Majora’s possession of the Skull Kid is broken and the villainous god is defeated. The Happy Mask Salesman states afterward that the evil spirit no longer resides within the mask before departing Termina with the mask in tow.
As for the Fierce Deity, we know far less. Everything we do know occurs during the events of Majora’s Mask, and nowhere else. Majora gives Link the mask so that the two of them can play “good guys against bad guys,” though Majora doesn’t specify who is to play which role. The menu description of the mask calls the powers housed within “dark” and potentially “as bad as Majora.” When Link dons the mask, he is transformed into something resembling his adult self from Ocarina of Time. His clothes become armored and ashen-colored, his hair and eyes turn white, he’s adorned with what looks like war paint on his face, and he wields a massive, double helix-looking zweihander blade that discharges energy blasts. Link is nigh unstoppable while wearing this mask, and is able to make short work of Majora during the final fight. Link is also able to use the Fierce Deity’s mask during other boss fights, but nowhere else. The artwork depicting Fierce Deity Link paints him as a dark, violent being of tremendous power and ruthlessness. Whoever or whatever this Fierce Deity was, it’s clear that it was very, very adept in the ways of violence and not a being to be taken lightly.
What We Don’t Know
Unfortunately, most of everything else regarding these two beings has not been fleshed out beyond what occurs in Majora’s Mask. Their origins and exact roles have been explored by manga authors and fans with various theories, but Majora and the Fierce Deity’s relationship is still merely a mystery to be pondered.
Majora’s description as a villain is clear enough, but its exact role or origin is completely unknown. Apart from not knowing which tribe the Happy Mask salesman refers to when describing the mask, we also don’t know what exactly went on during their hexing rituals. Was Majora some kind of deity to this tribe? Did they summon it to do their bidding, or was it a hateful god that required appeasement? Was Majora a would-be ruler, or simply a malevolent trickster content to sow chaos? In the manga adaptation of Majora’s Mask, Majora is depicted as a furry dragon creature (sorta like Falcor from The Neverending Story) that roams a desolate land devouring every living thing that opposes it. Why, you ask? I have no idea. The similarities between this depiction of Majora and every incarnation we see in Majora’s Mask are relegated to the basic shape of their eyes. So…yeah, artistic liberties.
What about the tribe that originally used the mask? Who were they? Some fans speculate that they could have been the Dark Interlopers referenced in Twilight Princess, an unpleasant bunch that used sorcery and cunning to try and obtain the Triforce before being banished by the gods. There’s compelling evidence, the most interesting being the similarities between Majora’s Mask and the Fused Shadow mask used by Midna in Twilight Princess. The use of masks to summon dark power also draws a parallel between the unnamed tribe (described by the Happy Mask Salesman) and the Twili. This could, of course, be mere coincidence. There is one inconsistency in this theory; the legend of the unnamed tribe exists in Termina, which as far as we know, is not aware of Hyrule’s own legends (or even existence). The Twili are a race that originated in Hyrule, not Termina.
There’s also speculation that Majora’s Mask originated in the Dark World or Lorule featured in A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds. This is thanks to Majora’s Mask being featured as an easter egg in A Link Between Worlds. Aonuma has stated more than once that Majora’s Mask being featured in ALBW is nothing more than an easter egg, not a direct link between ALBW and MM, so the merits of this theory are not as solid as they once were. Still, there is compelling evidence supporting it. The Dark World and Lorule (it should also be stated that there’s no confirmation that Lorule and the Dark World are the same place, but that’s a topic for another time) are parallel worlds much like Termina, and their histories are also largely unknown. With no history, we can speculate just about anything, really. It’s quite possible that the tribe that originally used Majora’s Mask in their rituals came to Hyrule at some point seeking greater power (similar to the point I made about the Twili in the previous paragraph). After all, Ganondorf himself sought entrance to the Sacred Realm in pursuit of the Triforce, which eventually turned into the Dark World because of his evil power.
Still, Aonuma (currently) calling Majora’s Mask a mere easter egg in A Link Between Worlds is not good news for this theory. Even if there is some significance to Ravio being in possession of the mask, it’s just as likely it came into his possession by chance as it is having tribal significance to him and his tribe. It could simply be a case of the mask being passed from person to person by random chance, as is the case with the Happy Mask Salesman.
As far as the Fierce Deity is concerned, there’s literally NOTHING officially confirmed about the mask or the spirit within. All we really know is that it was originally in Majora’s possession before being given to Link, and the the power inside the mask could be “as bad as Majora.” Originally, the Fierce Deity Mask was just a mask that turned Link into his adult self, but was altered during production of Majora’s Mask to give Link more impressive powers. With this in mind, the possible origin stories of the mask are endless.
In the Majora’s Mask manga, the Fierce Deity is suggested to be the person that originally defeated Majora and sealed its power in the titular mask. By playing music for Majora, he was able to make the dragon dance for three days and nights before it died of exhaustion.
It may shock you to find out I have no belief that this individual is the Fierce Deity. For starters, the mask is called the FIERCE DEITY’S MASK. FIERCE, people. I sincerely doubt that the spirit within the Fierce Deity’s mask would have used jaunty tunes to combat Majora. When Link puts on the mask, he becomes a killing machine with a big-ass sword, not a traveling bard with a lute. Given the liberties taken in the Majora’s Mask comic, I’m quite thankful that NONE of the manga written for the Zelda series are considered canon.
The most popular theories regarding the mask state that the Fierce Deity was a spirit or god/demigod that fought with Majora before they were both sealed inside their respective masks. It’s possible that the two beings were hated enemies, or at least rivals. Of course, it’s also possible that the two beings were not enemies at all, but rather partners in evil. It’s less likely that the two beings were friends, since Link is able to use the Fierce Deity’s mask to combat Majora. If Majora and the Fierce Deity were friends, it’s unlikely the spirit within the Fierce Deity’s mask would have allowed Link to slice his buddy Majora into ribbons. Perhaps the two were imprisoned within masks during the same time by the same person/people that feared them both. The only thing that can really be stated for sure is that the Fierce Deity was a feared entity. Whether or not it was an evil entity is open to debate, but it was certainly powerful enough that someone felt it necessary to seal its power within a mask.
Where We Can Go From Here
It’s pretty obvious where I’d like to see Nintendo go with these two entities: back to the beginning. Let’s see what Majora and the Fierce Deity were doing before they started living mundane lives as face decorations.
It goes without saying that a game dealing with Majora and the Fierce Deity’s origins would ideally explain exactly WHERE they came from once and for all. If their origins are in Hyrule, Lorule, the Dark World, or Termina, this ought be clearly specified. The last thing I want to see is Nintendo introducing ANOTHER alternate realm. This hypothetical game would also reveal the identity of the tribe the Happy Mask Salesman describes in Majora’s Mask. If they were indeed the Dark Interlopers or denizens of the Dark World/Lorule, we’d have this confirmation spelled out in explicit detail. All things considered, this aspect is most important to me should Nintendo decide to explore this storyline.
If Majora and the Fierce Deity were indeed enemies, I’d like to see the origins of that conflict explained and featured in a game. If this were the case, something akin to the Great Deku Tree’s tale of Hyrule’s origins in Ocarina of Time would be suitable. A cutscene that details their cosmic existence and their terrible struggle to destroy one another, as well as the repercussions this had on the world they existed in. Perhaps it was their battle that brought about the birth of whatever realm they originated in, or perhaps its near destruction.
Another interesting idea would be to have Majora and the Fierce Deity act as gods of individual nations that constantly clashed. By pitting various tribes against each other, the two deities would vie for complete control of the realm.
Whatever the case, I would be more inclined to tell the story from the perspective of someone other than Majora or the Fierce Deity. As villains with single-minded purposes, putting them in the hands of players wouldn’t really work for crafting a Zelda game. You could argue that the previously mentioned concepts would work well in an RTS format, but I had something else in mind…
To best tell the story of Majora and the Fierce Deity in a way that’s genuinely “Zelda,” it should be told from the perspective of one of the inhabitants of whatever land Majora and the Fierce Deity occupied. This individual would function as Link does in the rest of the series, as a young person seeking to bring about an end to the encroaching and/or presently occurring calamity. This young man/woman, instructed by his elders, would begin a journey to seek out the means of destroying both Majora and the Fierce Deity and thus end the conflicts tearing apart his/her beloved realm. Along the way, he/she would acquire the knowledge and power to combat the two fiendish spirits. Yet when the time arrived to finally destroy them both, our hero would find him/herself unable to do so with any sort of permanence. Instead, he/she would have to settle for sealing them both within the masks we see them relegated to in Majora’s Mask. This individual could be a brand new hero for the franchise, or it might even be an already existing character. If Majora and the Fierce Deity were based in Lorule, it’d be a great opportunity to let players take control of Ravio (or one of his descendents, at least). If the evil gods existed in Termina, the hero of the story could be a descendent of the Happy Mask Salesman, or perhaps any of the denizens of Termina. Hell, if Majora and the Fierce Deity actually originated in Hyrule, Link could play the role of hero once again. He seems to show up in times of crisis…
I envision something that is very much in line with the Zelda games out now. Players would be put into the shoes of the hero as he/she attempts to find a way to put an end to their destructive rivalry. Players would be doing very Zelda-like things like solving puzzles while plundering dungeons in search of integral items, and combating monsters across a sprawling landscape. The various enemies players would face could have specific aesthetic designs that assigned them to either Majora or the Fierce Deity’s army of followers. Temples, towns, and other locales could be designed in any way Nintendo saw fit…
In all honesty, I’m not as interested in the gameplay aspects of this hypothetical game as I am the narrative aspects. Currently, we have two mysterious and dark beings that currently occupy only one small space on the existing Zelda timeline. Like Midna from Twilight Princess, both Majora and the Fierce Deity deserve more time in the spotlight than they’ve been given. Based on what I’ve touched on in previous Untapped Potentials, I think this particular avenue of speculation and discussion has the most potential to become a fully realized Zelda game in the future. Until then, my fingers remain crossed…I really, really want to see the Fierce Deity in action again. There are few moments in Zelda history that radiate such a feeling of terrifying power than when players first donned that mask. With any luck, we’ll have that moment again…
Obvious props to the artists that created the pictures I used in this blog!