The Rito are a race in The Wind Waker and they live on the volcanic island Dragon Roost Island in the north-eastern part of the Great Sea. The Ritos are a proud bird-man tribe and they use their island as a Post Office for everyone who live on the Great Sea.
History and Culture
Before Hyrule was flooded by the three Golden Goddesses, the Ritos were still Zoras. The Zoras lived in Zora's Domain in Hyrule and they had a society of their own. When Hyrule was flooded, the Zoras eventually evolved into Ritos and settled on Dragon Roost Island. Due to this, they lost the ability to swim, but gained the ability to fly.
Actually, a Rito does not have any wings at birth, but when they grow old enough they must climb up the mountain to visit the Rito tribe's Sky Spirit, Valoo. Valoo is a huge, red, worshipped dragon who is sitting in the crater of the volcano and he protects the Ritos on the island. When a Rito reaches adulthood, he or she can visit Valoo on the top of the mountain to be given a scale which allows them to grow their wings.
The Ritos did not always have wings. A proof for this is that they have Grappling Hooks, and there are areas where they can be easily used spread out on the island. So, because of this fact, there must have been a stage between the flooding of Hyrule and when they got their wings when they used Grappling Hooks instead of flying.
The leader of the Ritos is the Rito Chieftain (in The Wind Waker that is Komali's father). There is also an attendant amongst the Ritos who is responsible to take care of Valoo and make sure he is always feeling good (in The Wind Waker that is Medli).
The Ritos are the keepers of Din's Pearl. Din's Pearl was kept by Komali's grandmother (the Chieftain's mother), but when she passed away she gave the pearl to Prince Komali. After the loss, Prince Komali was very sad and he refused to let go of the pearl. When Link arrived at Dragon Roost later on, he managed to earn Komali's respect by calming Valoo down. That was when Komali gave Din's Pearl to Link.
It is very common amongst the Ritos to have names that end with -li: Prince Komali, Medli, Koboli, Kogoli, Namali and Pashli (even the two human brothers Willi and Obli who dress up as Ritos have names that end with -li).
Role in The Wind Waker
The Rito are often seen to be quite noble in their efforts. This is clearly shown on almost all occasions when Link runs into Quill, the postman from the start of the game. He is obviously very knowledgeable and one could assume wise. Even when the perils of their own people have been dealt with, the Rito show great belief in their role as joint protectors of their world. It is Quill who makes the pirates take Link with them at the start. He then gives Link the advice to go spy on the pirates on Windfall Island. Later on in the game, it is Medli who takes on the role of the sage of the earth temple. Medli gave Link the Grappling Hook and also convinced Prince Komali to give Din's Pearl to Link.
Role in Breath of the Wild
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Link encounters the Rito Village in Breath of the Wild when going to free Divine Beast Vah Medoh. The Rito are the tribe that live in the village, he needs to speak to Kaneli the elder of the Rito, who tells him about the Hylian Champion 100 years ago, and about Revali, the Rito Champion. Kaneli explains that Link needs to find Teba, and that his wife Saki can help him find him. Saki tells Link that Teba can be found at the Flight Range.