The world of Majora’s Mask has always been shrouded in mystery and recently, but finally the third book in Dark Horse’s Zelda series Hyrule Encyclopedia revealed the solution to the puzzle that is Termina’s existence in the world of The Legend of Zelda. The answer it reveals is that Termina is merely a fabrication, created by the power of Majora’s Mask when worn by the Skull Kid, and the world ceases to exist once Link departs at the end of the game.
Many fans in many comment sections have laid into Nintendo suggesting that this is a lazy “it was never real” retcon. Some have said that it’s impossible for Majora’s Mask to create a world, that the only thing that has that much power is the Triforce. However, I want to take Nintendo’s side on this one and explain how very real Termina was, how Link got there, and how it makes perfect sense in terms of feasibility.
Falling down the rabbit hole
When Link fell down the void within the Lost Woods in the opening cutscene of the game, we are led to believe that he literally plummeted into another world. I would like to challenge that notion with my own idea, that the void was a portal of sorts into the Skull Kid’s new world of Termina. The Legend of Zelda is no stranger to portals like this; we have seen these many times dating all the way back to A Link to the Past, when our hero jumps from Hyrule to the Dark World.
Also, for this I’d like to take a look at something that I always figured was a massive plot hole but now makes perfect sense. As we all know, when Link chases Skull Kid, the fairies, and Epona, he is led into a gigantic tree that has a bottomless pit inside of it. We know Epona eventually ends up at Romani Ranch, but between the beginning of the game and then, where did Epona go? Did she jump down there along with Skull Kid? The explanation we get is that Skull Kid “got rid of” her because she wouldn’t obey his commands. Then we’re expected to believe that she wanders on her own to Romani Ranch?
Yes, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to believe because that’s exactly what happened. As Link fell, this is where the transition between realities occurred. I’m claiming that the tree itself acted as a portal to Termina, and, once Skull Kid and crew went through it, Epona appeared at Romani Ranch. The only way it would make sense for Epona to teleport like this is if it were Skull Kid’s world, where he wrote the rules about how and why each character that came across appeared.
So that explains how Link got to Termina and also how the portal thing functioned. So far so good. But none of that scratches the surface of the bigger problem: how Majora’s Mask could create a whole world in the first place. How possible is it? Let’s take a look at what tools exist in the land of Hyrule that would have the power to create such a world as Termina.
Termina’s Big Bang Theory
First, the Triforce. This is the one I have personally seen come up in Termina debates, and it is often claimed to be the only item in Hyrule that has the power to create a world. I call nonsense. We can rule it out right off the bat because, at the end of Ocarina of Time, we can assume that the Triforce is safe. Ganondorf would go on to be apprehended in the Child Timeline as a result of young Link warning young Zelda that her original plan of doesn’t work out so well. If Majora’s Mask takes place in the next three days or so, it is highly unlikely that the Triforce was stolen by whoever and used to create Termina in that span of time.
So if it’s not the Triforce, we have to start scouring for other possibilities. So as a second guess, let’s consider the Fused Shadow from Twilight Princess. If you have read my previous article, then you would be familiar with my claim that the Fused Shadow played an integral role in the Hylian Civil War before the events of Ocarina of Time. Also, it is important to note that the Hyrule Encyclopedia confirms that the Interlopers were banished before Ocarina of Time. So the Fused Shadow definitely exists during the span of time where Majora’s Mask takes place, but the both it and the Interlopers are a little too busy being banished in the Twilight Realm to be creating worlds.
So without those to consider, let’s look at the argument in favor of Majora’s Mask itself creating the land of Termina.
We don’t really know who created Majora’s Mask, but we do know that it was used for bewitching rituals, had wicked power so great that it was sealed away to prevent a catastrophe, and that it does have striking visual similarities to the Fused Shadow. So it is possible, if not likely, that the same Interlopers that created the Fused Shadow created the mask. It is also said that it was created by a “dark tribe,” a description similar to that of the Interlopers. So going off of the assumption that it has origin and power similar to that of the Fused Shadow, it is more than strong enough to create and alter realities. Don’t believe it? Look at what Midna said when she popped Zant like an overinflated balloon: “I…I used just a fraction of the power that’s in me now…I did THAT using only a fraction of my ancestors’ magic?!” This quote leaves the limit of the Fused Shadow’s power up to our imaginations. But if Midna could eviscerate Zant with a fraction of her full power, I’m sure that the dark magic inside Majora’s Mask was more than capable of fabricating a reality where it was a nightmare for everybody but him.
But what about Termina says that the Skull Kid made that land? Well, actually there are a lot of things. We know from Tatl that Skull Kid befriended the four giants; whether or not these giants existed in Hyrule is unknown, but I think it is safe to say that in Skull Kid’s fabricated reality, they are representations of his real life friends. As for the story of Skull Kid, we learn from Tatl that his friends got sick of his antics and needed a break from the imp. We know this is true because Tatl was with the Skull Kid before entering Termina.
Also, the game heavily relies on stories of loss and misunderstanding. Anju thinks Kafei abandoned her, the Deku King thinks the monkey kidnapped her daughter, the Goron Elder was frozen and unable to be with his son, Darmani dies, Mikau dies, Lulu’s loss of her eggs, Pamela is incapable of aiding her father from becoming a zombie, and the kingdom of Ikana falling to tatters. I propose that Skull Kid created a reality where everyone in some way, shape, or form, was feeling what he was truly feeling under the mask: loss and misunderstanding.
So to bring it all together, this is why I support Nintendo’s claim that Termina is a reality fabricated by Skull Kid, created by using the immense dark magic power inside of Majora’s Mask. Link was taken to Termina by a well-hidden portal and ultimately ended up fighting his way through the temporary world, easing the woes of the Termanians and Skull Kid, and sealing the darkness back into Majora’s Mask. Even if the world was a temporary illusion, Link’s time and adventures in Termina were very real, and at long last we finally have a satisfying answer to the mystery of Termina.