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One of the questions that has transfixed Zelda fans for years is the identity of the Dark Interlopers, who appear in the backstory of 2006's Twilight Princess. The villainous tribe is introduced without any information as to their origins. They attempt to claim the Triforce with the power of an artifact known as the Fused Shadow, a weaponized helm also of vague origin. Some have pointed out that the Fused Shadow has something of a resemblance to Majora's Mask, which was introduced in the game of the same name.
The origins of Majora's Mask are also murky. It is said to have been created by an ancient shadow tribe. The limits of its powers are unknown, but it is said to have been used in hexing rituals, and is used by Skull Kid to curse various characters throughout the game, including Link himself, changing his form into that of a Deku scrub.
No doubt there are similarities between the two. But are they purely coincidental? The result of having the same designers? Or just a little reference or some such from the developers? In this article, I will posit what the connection could be, and the origins of the Dark Interlopers and how they tie into the mythos of Majora's Mask.
In Majora's Mask, you will, towards the end of the game, travel to a mysterious haunted land known as Ikana. When you reach it, you find it occupied almost exclusively by ghosts, the only exception to which is a cursed researcher and his daughter. What happened to Ikana is hazy and convoluted. There seems to have been a war between an unnamed nation, who sent spies known as the Garo to Ikana for unknown reasons. The Garo's mythos is fascinating itself, but we will not get into that here. Instead, let's focus more on Ikana.
It's important to note that, while Ikana is populated by ghosts, it is said that they are not actually the people of Ikana, but hollow shells of them, animated by regret, resentment, and willpower. This suggests that, while there is some remnant of the occupants of Ikana, these beings are not the actual people of Ikana.
Of course, within the Ikana region exists perhaps the most famous dungeon in the entire series, the Stone Tower Temple. This is a fascinating one, and many fans have speculated on its origins. The image of Majora's Mask can be found here, as well as that of the Triforce. The unusual thing about the Triforce is that it is depicted on a statue of a squatting figure with the Triforce where its genitals would be, with its tongue outstretched, licking the holy symbol. This blasphemous depiction is striking, and has led to many fan theories, which we will get into in a moment. One last thing I want to point out about the decor of Stone Tower is the presence of four spires just outside the Temple entrance, perhaps referencing the Four Giants, the ancient deities of Termina.
The most popular fan theory regarding the Stone Tower goes thus: It is inspired by the Biblical Tower of Babel. In the story of the Tower of Babel, humans built a tower reaching to the Heavens, in order to ascend to Godhood themselves. Upon seeing this, God destroyed the tower and scattered humans across the world. So, how does this apply to the Stone Tower? According to this theory, the people of Ikana built the Stone Tower for the purpose of reaching the Heavens. Since Termina is reached by a series of subterranean passages, it is theorized that it is below Hyrule, and thus, the Heavens could reference this familiar country. Hyrule is literally the place of High Rule.
So, the Ikana built the Stone Tower Temple in order to reach the Heavens. a.k.a. Hyrule, and take the Triforce, the power of the Golden Goddesses, for their own. But what happened? The Goddesses saw what the Ikana were up to, and they flipped the Tower upside-down and banished the people of Ikana to another dimension.
Now, who does this remind you of? This is nearly a 1:1 comparison with the story of the Dark Interlopers. An ancient Shadow Tribe arrives seemingly out of nowhere, and tries to take the Triforce for themselves. The Goddesses then banish them to another dimension. I could literally be talking about either on of these tribes. Of course, this theory itself relies on other theories, but it would solve a lot of questions left unanswered by the in-game explanations.
There are a lot of theories regarding the Dark Interlopers and the Twili: That they are the Gerudo, that they are rebel Sheikah, that they are both Gerudo and Sheikah who banded together, or that they are an unrelated tribe altogether. However, most of those theories have plot holes, particularly with the timing, with the Interlopers said to have had their rebellion right after the events of Skyward Sword, while most of the troubles involving the Gerudo occurred between the events of Four Swords and Ocarina of Time. With the events involving the Ikana taking place at an unspecified time in the distant past, it could very well have occurred at the time of the Dark Interlopers.
There may be some plot holes here. This theory is certainly not seamless. But it is a compelling one, and I hope it gets you thinking of your own theories.