Before I start, this is not a return to the ‘Who is?’ series, just an exploration of the Masked Followers from the recently released A Link Between Worlds that happens to have a similar title. Of all the things in A Link Between Worlds, what most intrigued me was the cult that had taken over much of the remaining population in Lorule. Their masks, beliefs, and catchphrase all felt very real to me, which is something that doesn’t often happen while I’m playing a Zelda game. So who exactly are the Masked Followers? Warning: spoilers abound after the jump.
A cult centers around its beliefs, so to understand the Masked Followers, we need to look at their beliefs. In Thieves’ Town, you can find the apparent leader of this cult, the Masked Elder. As Lorule’s equivalent of Sahasrahla, the Masked Leader was once the elder of the town that Thieves’ Town once was, and for this reason it is likely that the cult started with him. As Lorule declined, the people turned from their lost religion to the elder for guidance. When you speak to the Masked Elder, he gives you a somewhat vague description of his current beliefs:
“Though we have seen the world crumble before us, we must not give in to the corruption of thievery! Monsters can keep you strong! They are your only salvation, my son! You must don the mask! Don the mask! We are corrupt. CORRUPT! Do not be deceived. Only monsters will save us now! Mumbo jumbo, mumbo jumbo…”
As the name of the town implies, a wave of thievery clearly overtook the town at a point in time before the events of the game. This was likely a response to Lorule’s collapse after the destruction of their Triforce; much like how people go out and purchase lots of supplies to prepare for an impending natural disaster, the people of Lorule ran amok and stole as much for themselves as possible. However, the elder and those who turned to him for advice chose to remain honest to their humanity, and did not give into their urges to take everything for themselves.
The belief in the strength of monsters, I believe, comes from the monster population of Lorule. Just like Hyrule, the parts of Lorule that had not been populated by humans were instead populated by various types of monsters. When Lorule’s Triforce was destroyed, their culture collapsed, as it depended on the belief in the Triforce. However, the monsters had no such culture, so instead of collapsing, they instead thrived on the chaos that ensued. For this reason, the Masked Followers believe in the strength of monsters because of the way they survived through the chaos, believing that they could do so as well, even if it meant becoming monsters themselves.
As for the idea of being corrupt, there are several possibilities for this belief. It could be a reference to the “corrupted” nature of their civilization as a whole, which lead to wars being fought over the Triforce and its eventual destruction. It could refer to their urges to become thieves and steal what they need to survive Lorule’s collapse. It could refer the loss of their humanity when they turned to becoming monsters. Or, it could refer to all three of these things. It would certainly explain the Masked Elder’s urgency to inform Link that he must not be deceived.
So to represent that they have become monsters, Masked Followers wear monstrous masks. It’s sort of sad to see how widespread this cult is, to the point where one man has donned a mask to see if he can continue his way of life, enjoying the presence of the birds who have now become monsters. Even a little girl who helps run the Octoball Derby can be seen wearing such a mask, though it is unknown whether she is a Masked Follower herself, or if she’s just wearing it because it’s a trend, but either way, the fact she is wearing a mask means she is knowingly or unknowingly supporting this cult.
Moving on to their catchphrase, “Mumbo jumbo, mumbo jumbo”, I find this to be more interesting than it would otherwise appear to be. The term “mumbo jumbo” obviously refers to a form of dialogue that holds no real meaning. This, to me, symbolizes that the Masked Followers have truly turned their backs on their gods. Before you question the existence of gods in Lorule: they had their own Triforce which was exactly like the one in Hyrule, which was created by the gods, so clearly, Lorule has its own gods that created their Triforce. Just as atheists (people who do not believe in a religion) sometimes call other religions “mumbo jumbo”, I believe that the Masked Followers are referring to their old religion as “mumbo jumbo”, because whatever it was, it failed to support Lorule, making it meaningless.
Another explanation is that they are backing up their own beliefs by saying that they are as irrelevant as their old religion, as if its just another way to survive; if it’s worth believing in anything, it’s worth believing in that. But what did you guys think of the Masked Followers? Just another community, or the most interesting religion in the Zelda universe to date? Let me know in the comments!