A Link to the Past Story

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The storyline of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a bit more elaborate than most Legend of Zelda titles. Before even stepping foot into Hyrule and setting off on the quest, there is quite a backstory that was originally found in the game manual for the Super Nintendo version.

Contents

Instruction Manual

To set the stage for this adventure of the legendary Hero of Hyrule, it will be informative to delve into the Triforce myth, an ancient epic about the creation of the world that is still believed in the land of Hyrule. Every culture has such myths and theories about the creation of their worlds, and it can be beneficial and entertaining to examine them in detail, for they often affect the present day social structure. The legends say the mythical gods of Hyrule had as their chosen people the Hylia. These ancient people left scrolls that are the primary source of the legends...

The Creation of Hyrule

The Creation of Hyrule from the A Link to the Past game manual.
According to the Hylian scrolls, the mythical gods descended from a distant nebula to the world and created order and life. The God of Power dyed the mountains red with fire and created land. The God of Wisdom created science and wizardry and brought order to nature. And the God of Courage, through justice and vigor, created life - the animals that crawl the land and the birds that soar in the sky. After the gods had finished their work, they left the world, but not before creating a symbol of their strength, a golden triangle known as the Triforce. A small but powerful portion of the essence of the gods was held in this mighty artifact, which was to guide the intelligent life on the world of Hyrule.

Although it was an inanimate object, the Triforce had the power to bestow three titles which gave the person who received them great powers: "The Forger of Strength", "The Keeper of Knowledge", and "The Juror of Courage". From its hiding place in the so-called Golden Land where the Gods placed it, the Triforce beckoned people from the outside world to seek it in the hope that someone worthy of these titles would find it.

With their magic infused blood, the Hylian people were endowed with psychic powers and skill in wizardry. It was also said that their long, pointed ears enabled them to hear special messages from the gods, so they were held in high esteem by many people in Hyrule. Their descendants settled in various parts of the world and passed on their knowledge and magical lore to all people. But in its passing, the lore was often distorted or lost altogether...

Gates to the Golden Land

Gates to the Golden Land from the A Link to the Past Instruction Manual.
In Hyrule, there are many Hylian buildings which are mentioned repeatedly in the legends. These buildings, which now lie in ruin, pale shadows of their former splendor, are closely tied to the Triforce.

Some were even said to house the Triforce...

If it were only a symbol of the gods, the Triforce would be coveted by many. But a verse from the Book of Mudora (a collection of Hylian legends and lore) made the Triforce even more desirable:

"In a realm beyond sight,
The Sky shines gold, not blue.
There, the Triforce's might
Makes mortal dreams come true."

Many aggressively searched for the wish-granting Triforce, but no one, not even the Hylian sages, was sure of its location; the knowledge had been lost over time. Some said the Triforce lay under the desert, others said it was in the cemetery in the shadow of Death Mountain, but no one ever found it. That yearning for the Triforce soon turned to lust for power, which in turn led to the spilling of blood. Soon the only motive left among those searching for the Triforce was pure greed.

One day, quite by accident, a gate to the Golden Land of the Triforce was opened by a gang of thieves skilled in the black arts. This land was like no other. In the gathering twilight, the Triforce shone from its resting place high above the world. In a long running battle, the leader of the thieves fought his way past his followers in a lust for the Golden Power. After vanquishing his own followers, the leader stood triumphant over the Triforce and grasped it with his blood-stained hands. He heard a whispered voice: "If thou has a strong desire or dream, wish for it..." And in reply, the roaring laughter of the brigand leader echoed across time and space and even reached the far-off land of Hyrule. The name of this king of thieves is Ganondorf Dragmire, but he is known by his alias, Mandrag Ganon, which means Ganon of the Enchanted Thieves.

The Imprisoning War

Main article: Imprisoning War
The Imprisoning War from the A Link to the Past game manual.
I do not know what Ganon wished for from the Triforce. However, in time evil power begin to flow from the Golden Land and greedy men were drawn there to become members of Ganon's army. Black clouds permanently darkened the sky, and many disasters beset Hyrule. The lord of Hyrule sent for the Seven Wise Men and the Knights of Hyrule, and ordered them to seal the entrance to the Golden Land.

The Triforce, being an inanimate object, cannot judge between good and evil. Therefore, it could not know that Ganon's wishes were evil; it merely granted them. Suspecting that Ganon's power was based on the Triforce's magic, the people of Hyrule forged a sword resistant to magic which could repulse even powers granted by the Triforce. This mighty weapon became known as the blade of evil's bane, or the Master Sword. It was so powerful that only one who was pure of heart and strong of body could wield it. As the Seven Wise Men searched for a valiant person to take up the Master Sword, Ganon's evil army swarmed from the tainted Golden Land into Hyrule and attacked the castle. The wise men and the Knights Of Hyrule combined forces to wage war on this evil horde.

The Knights took the full brunt of the fierce attack, and although they fought courageously many a brave soul was lost that day, However, their lives were not lost in vain, for they bought precious time for the Seven Wise Men to magically seal Ganon in the Golden land. All of Hyrule rejoiced at the victory that upheld peace and order over Ganon's evil and chaos. This war, which had claimed many lives, became known as the Imprisoning War in stories told in later centuries.

The Coming of the Wizard

The Coming of the Wizard from the A Link to the Past Instruction Manual.
Many centuries have passed since the Imprisoning War. The land of Hyrule healed its wounds and the people lived in peace for a long time. Memories of the vicious Imprisoning War faded over the generations...

So it is no surprise that no one was prepared for the new disasters that have recently struck Hyrule. Pestilence and drought, uncontrollable even by magic, ravaged the land. The king of Hyrule, after counsel with his sages, ordered an investigation of the Imprisoned Dark World (as the Golden land had come to be known) but the wise men's seal was apparently intact. He offered rewards for anyone who could find the source of these troubles. In answer to these summons a stranger named Agahnim came and quelled the disasters with a previously unseen form of magic. As a reward, the king gave him a new position as chief advisor and heir to the Seven Wise Men. The masses proclaimed him their hero. Peace had returned to Hyrule... or had it?

Of late, rumors have traveled their whispering path with alarming frequency. Rumors saying Agahnim now rules the country with his magic... Rumors of strange magical experiments in the castle tower at night... The people of Hyrule were gripped by dread.

Prologue

Zelda Telepathically talks to Link from A Link to the Past game manual.
One night, a girl's voice awakens you from your sleep.

She telepathically pleads.

You jump out of bed not knowing whether the voice was part of a dream or reality. Upon leaving your bed, you find your uncle, who should be fast asleep at this time, preparing to go out, girded for battle.

"I'll be back by morning," he says as he departs. "Don't leave the house."

You watch him leave with the family sword in hand and shield on arm. This night is like no other... Who is Zelda? Where had your uncle gone and for what reason?

And so, on an ill-fated night, a new chapter in the legend of Hyrule's hero begins- a new chapter in The Legend of Zelda!

In-Game Story

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Long ago, in the beautiful kingdom of Hyrule surrounded by mountains and forests... legends told of an omnipotent and omniscient Golden Power that resided in a hidden land.

Many people aggressively sought to enter the hidden Golden Land... But no one ever returned. One day evil power began to flow from the Golden Land...

So the King commanded seven wise men to seal the gate to the Land of the Golden Power. That seal should have remained for all time...

... ...But, when these events were obscured by the mists of time and became legend...

A mysterious wizard known as Agahnim came to Hyrule to release the seal. He eliminated the good King of Hyrule...

Through evil magic, he began to make descendants of the seven wise men vanish, one after another.

And the time of destiny for Princess Zelda is drawing near.

Link and his wounded Uncle from the A Link to the Past Nintendo Player's Guide.
Link is awoken from his sleep by a voice speaking to him telepathically, revealing herself to be Princess Zelda. She tells Link she is held captive in the dungeon of the castle and that Agahnim has done something with the other girls. He has taken control of the castle and is attempting to open the wise men's seal. She pleads with Link to rescue her.

Link gets out of bed, just as his uncle is leaving the house with sword and shield in hand. He tells him he'll be back by morning, and not to leave the house. After his uncle leaves, Link ventures outside into the stormy night making his way through the rain to the castle. Drawing near, Zelda informs him that there is a secret passage into the castle. Traveling down this passage, he suddenly stumbles upon his uncle who is mortally wounded. Worried that Link has gotten himself involved, he gives Link his sword and shield and tells him that he must save Zelda.

Making his way through the castle guarded by brainwashed soldiers, Link enters the dungeon and rescues Zelda, who leads him to a secret passage out of the castle. Leading Zelda through the dangerous sewers, Link takes her to the Sanctuary on the other end of the passage, where they meet the Loyal Sage who says he will keep Zelda safe. The Sage tells Link of the evil force behind Agahnim's magic, a force that can only be defeated with the legendary Master Sword. He tells Link to find the village elder, a descendant of the seven wise men, so he may learn more.

The Pendants of Virtue

Link arrives at Kakariko Village, but discovers the elder Sahasrahla left when Agahnim began to abduct people. Link finds information regarding his whereabouts, and heads to the Eastern Palace where he finds him in hiding. From Sahasrahla, Link learns that not just anyone can wield the Master Sword, also known as "the sword of evil's bane". He will require the three Pendants, the first of which, the Pendant of Courage, is located within the Eastern Palace itself. Fighting his way through the palace, Link finds the Pendant of Courage and returns to Sahasrahla. He tells Link of the Knights of Hyrule, who guarded the Pendant of Courage. In the war against the evil of the golden land, most of the Knights had died. He tells Link that among the descendants of the Knights of Hyrule, a hero must appear. He tells Link to find the remaining Pendants.
Link and one of the Maidens from the A Link to the Past Instruction Manual.
Link journeys to the edge of Hyrule to acquire the Pendant of Power from the Desert Palace. He then scales the dangerous Death Mountain (known as Mt. Hebra in the Japanese version), where he meets a man who tells him that Agahnim must want to open the way to the Dark World where people lose their human shape. He tells him the Moon Pearl in The Tower of Hera will allow Link to keep his shape. Within the tower, at the top of the mountain, Link finds the Moon Pearl and the Pendant of Wisdom. With the goal of destroying Agahnim in sight, Link ventures into the Lost Woods to find the legendary Master Sword and put an end to Agahnim's evil. But as soon as he gets the sword, he hears Zelda telepathically calling for help before she becomes silent. He hurries to the Sanctuary where the Loyal Sage tells him the soldiers took Zelda to the castle before he dies.

The Dark World

Link enters the castle once more and confronts Agahnim, who makes Zelda vanish right before his eyes, breaking the seal of the seven sages. He claims that even the hero cannot defeat him and his tribe of evil, and then he flees. Link chases him down and defeats him in battle with the power of the Master Sword. With his final breath, he draws Link into the Dark World, arriving atop the Pyramid of Power. Sahasrahla then speaks to Link telepathically and tells him what has happened. The Dark World used to be the Golden Land before evil power transformed it. Now that the seal of the seven wise men is broken, Hyrule Castle's gate has turned into a portal to the Dark World, allowing the evil to reach the Light World. In order to stop it, Link must retrieve the Golden Power, the Triforce, and save the Seven Maidens, who as descendants of the wise men can help Link.

Link battling with Ganon from the Link's Awakening Nintendo Player's Guide.
Link journeys through the dangerous monster infested Dark World to rescue the maidens. The first one he saves in the Palace of Darkness tells him that Ganon's wish turned the Golden Land into the Dark World, and that he is trying to build his power and open a larger portal so he may attack the Light World. She also says that with the power of the seven maidens, they can break the barrier around Ganon's hideout. She tells Link where to find the other maidens.

Upon finding the rest of the maidens, they tell Link many things, revealing to him that he is the legendary hero, a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule, who is to defeat Ganon. The last of the maidens to be saved is Zelda herself, who tells Link that Ganon is hiding inside his tower at the top of Death Mountain. The seven maidens use their power to break the barrier around the tower and Link enters to face Ganon once and for all.

The Triforce Chamber.
To Link's surprise, at the top of the tower he faces Agahnim. He taunts Link before they battle. Upon defeat, Agahnim shows his true form to be Ganon himself. He transforms into a bat and flees. Link chases him to the Pyramid of Power and jumps down within its depths to battle Ganon. Ganon tells Link he never expected him to cause such trouble, and then him and Link commence the final battle. After a grueling fight Ganon is finally defeated once and for all.

Link then speaks to the Essence of the Triforce, which was in Ganon's possession. It tells Link that now that Ganon has been defeated, the Dark World will vanish. Commanding Link to touch it, Link makes his wish upon the Triforce...

With Ganon defeated and the Dark World destroyed, peace has once again returned to Hyrule. Link's wish is a mystery, but it was likely to erase many of the deeds caused by Ganon. Link's Uncle, the Loyal Sage, and the King of Hyrule, who all had been killed are now brought back to life, and the master sword now rests once again deep in the Lost Woods.