Zant

        Villains come in many different forms. After being exposed to many different stories and characters, you start to form certain categories you can easily fit characters in to, and in many cases they are predictably correct. But not always, and Zant is a good example of a villain that seems to fit one stereotype, but in reality he couldn’t be more different.
        Zant is the central villain of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but it turns out he is not the main villain. The difference is the central villain is the one the story focuses on, the one that pushes the plot into action and gets the response of the heroes. Zant fulfills this role in that he is slowly absorbing Hyrule into the Twilight Realm, and gets Link personally involved by sending monsters to kidnap his friends. His doing so lead to Link getting literally pulled into the Twilight Realm, Zant’s world, where he met Midna and Zelda, finding out what is going on and how to stop it.
        The main villain, on the other hand, is the one who is truly the cause of everything going on, the one who actually starts the plot to begin with, even if the central villain might be the one pushing it into fruition. Working behind the scenes, you might say.We will talk about who that is and why Zant isn’t the main villain in a bit.
        Back to Zant himself, Link was pulled into the Twilight Realm, by his minions. Link is locked away after he falls unconscious, and is found by Midna, who frees him and takes him to Zelda. Zelda reveals what happened to Hyrule; Zant’s dark forces invaded, and rather than seeing the kingdom slaughtered, she surrendered, allowing Zant to cover everything in magical Twilight. This transforms most people into powerless spirits, but Link himself is turned into a wolf instead.
        Midna then uses the situation to push him into follow her plan to get the four Fused Shadows, ancient Twili relics of great power. With them, she can change Link back and topple Zant, saving Hyrule. So naturally, Link goes through three dungeons and gets the Shadows, after first freeing the area from the grip of Twilight and reverting them to normal. After getting the last Shadow, Link returns to Lanayru Spring.
        He turns to go onward, but is immediately confronted by Zant, who simply… appears in front of him with no warning. Lanayru the Light Spirit attempts to attack Zant, but he effortlessly blasts the spirit and Link away, then covers the spring in Twilight once more. He then holds Midna in place, tossing her about in the air like a rag doll telekinetically, and steals the Fused Shadows. All with no visible effort.
        Zant asks calmly, or perhaps emotionlessly, why Midna is betraying him. Midna accuses him of abusing the magic of their people, which does get Zant a bit angry- not because of the accusation, but that she said it was their ‘old magic’ he is using. He claims this power comes from another source, his god, and that Midna will respect it. He is interrupted by Link charging at him, in wolf form thanks to the Twilight, but as before, Zant blasts him back without even moving, this time lodging something on his head, which magically fades into him.
        Zant pulls Midna to his side, and points out that she shouldn’t be helping Link, because he is one of the people of the light, those who banished their ancestors into the Twilight Realm a long time ago. He offers her the choice to join him, so that they can join both realms into one, riding them of light. He takes her struggling as a refusal, and punishes her by forcing Lanayru to expose her to the spirit’s light, nearly killing her, but the spirit takes this chance to warp her and Link away from Zant. However, Midna is near death, and Link is stuck in his wolf state.
        So, to recap. Zant shows up immediately after Link finds the Fused Shadows, stealing them so Midna cannot use them against him, effortlessly shrugs off their attempts to defy him, curses Link to remain in his wolf form with no chance of breaking free that we know, tries to convince Midna to join him, and, when that fails, he tortures her, though he is stopped from doing worse. And to top it all off, even if he hadn’t stolen the Fused Shadows, his words imply they wouldn’t be able to stop him anyway.
        All of this is quite disheartening and makes Zant look to be completely unstoppable. However, it also shows that he is receiving his power from another, thus firmly establishing that he is not the main villain of the game. You could postulate that he is merely attributing his power to a god, in which case he still comes out as the main villain. But in the Zelda series, it is fairly established that goddesses exist, among other supernatural entities, so there is little reason to assume he is lying, meaning there is a bigger threat than Zant to worry about.
        Back to the situation itself, Zelda uses her power to save Midna, allowing her to exist in the Light Realm, and tells Link how to free himself- by finding the Master Sword. The blade would purge the darkness from him, and give them a powerful weapon against Zant. Sure enough, it is as Zelda says, and finding the blade saves Link. Midna also salvages the bit of evil magic Zant used to change him. With the Master Sword to return Link to normal, Midna can use it to turn him into a whip whenever he sees fit.
        With this in hand, the two head to the Arbiter’s Grounds, where the Mirror of Twilight is found. This object allows one to travel from the Light and Twilight Realms, allowing Link to fight Zant. As they are navigating the place, coming to a large room with a dragon‘s remains, Zant appears. He expresses surprise at Link’s survival, but simply states that Link will die here and stabs a magic blade into the dragon skull before vanishing. The skeleton comes to life as Stallord, but Link vanquishes the boss and moves on.
        It seems Zant did plan that Link may survive, because he shattered the Mirror beforehand. This means Link has to travel to three more dungeons to get the shards, much like the first part of the game. At this point the Sages reveal themselves, and explain that it is partially their fault Hyrule is in this mess. Specifically, because long ago they punished the Gerudo King Ganondorf for trying to invade Hyrule. They ran him through with a magic blade, but through some ‘divine fluke’, Ganondorf was the holder of the Triforce of Power, allowing him to survive the attempt on his life, break free, and kill a Sage before they could seal him away in the Twilight Realm. After telling all this, the Sages beg Link to rectify their mistake and stop Zant and Ganondorf.
        Once the Mirror is remade, Link barges into Zant’s throne room. Zant talks to them about how the Twili were oppressed and forced into the Twilight Realm like ‘insects in the cage’. In truth, they were sealed away because they tried to take the power of the gods for their own, but Zant clearly doesn’t care for the rationale for it, just as the other Twili did not care for his plans of escaping. They had no desire to break free and get revenge, and it made Zant despise them all the more.
        As he explains all this, his calm composure quickly vanishes, and soon devolves into a tantrum, ranting about the indignities he suffered serving in the royal family, all under the false hope that he would be crowned king, and given the magical power the Twili ruler possesses. When he found out that Midna was to be their ruler instead, he was lost in despair and rage, a pitiful wreak, until he looked up and saw his ’god’.
        This god, as you likely realize by now, is Ganondorf. The Gerudo wandered for hundreds of years in the Twilight Realm as a spirit of sorts, and eventually found his way to Zant. Seeing that he had the same wish, to escape the Twilight Realm and conquer, Ganondorf gave Zant a portion of his power, allowing him to easily surpass that of Midna and take over, transforming the rest of the Twili into monsters that served Zant’s wishes, banishing Midna, and beginning his takeover of Hyrule.
        Zant finishes up by saying that his god had only one wish- to merge the realms of Light and Twilight together, creating a new singular realm of darkness. Done with his rant, Zant warps back to his throne, and the fight with Usurper King Zant begins. Oddly, the battle never takes place in Zant’s throne room, since he starts by warping Link to somewhere else.
        Specifically, he warps him to the Forest Temple, where they faced Diababa. The area consists of a shore where you are, and a poison lake where Zant is. He hovers where the boss once was, firing dark magic blasts at Link from his hands. He periodically changes spots, and will dodge any arrows sent at him. The blasts can be blocked with the shield, but the best thing to do is dodge them altogether and stop him. Remain locked on so you can move out of the way, and throw the Gale Boomerang. This will dizzy him and make him fall into the lake, where he quickly hops onto shore to avoid the poison. Then you can start pummeling him with impunity until he warps back over the lake to repeatm generally after a full combo.
        After this happens twice or so, he will warp again, to the Goron Mines, specifically the magnetic arena where Dangoro was fought. This causes another change in tactics for him, where he will stomp to shake the arena to force you in his direction, and potentially into the lava. He will occasionally stop doing so to fire at you, this signaling when he is tired and can be struck.
        Unlike before, there is no way to make him stop his attack pattern, just the Iron Boots to defend yourself against the shaking. However, this slows you down tremendously, potentially meaning you’ll miss his moment of weakness. My strategy would be to move with his shaking to reach him more quickly. If he isn’t winded from jumping, this will make him warp away, but he will be more tired, and his shaking from the other direction will stop you from falling over.
        This phase beaten, he moves onto the underwater lair of Morpheel, forcing you to use the Zora Suit and possibly the Iron Boots, since he will be on the lakebed. This time he will be protected by a giant version of his helmet acting as a barrier, and it opens up for him to strike. After being hit once, several of them will appear as decoys, allowing him to be catch him by surprise. When he attacks, you have to use the Hookshot to pull him to you and attack.
        Next, he takes you to the Forest Temple again, this time the mini-boss room where Ook was fought. He will hop from one pillar to another, stopping occasionally to fire at you. When he does, roll into the pillar. This will make him wobble, and a second roll will make him fall off entirely, leaving his head stuck in the floor for a moment where you can whack him. After being hit, he will teleport sometimes, make you lose sight of him so he can strike you from behind.
        Next he takes you to Snowpeak Ruins, where Blizzeta was fought. The floor is icy, giving him an immediate advantage over you. In addition, he makes use of that by growing to an enormous size and trying to land on you or step on you. The camera will show you the reflective floor to tell you where he will attack. This time you have to strike him in the foot with the Ball and Chain between attacks, forcing him to revert to normal with an aching foot, and making him vulnerable and allowing you to reach him.
        Once this phase is done, he will teleport one last time, and the music takes on a bizarre and frantic tone, fitting, since Zant seems surprised by be right in front of Hyrule Castle, with nothing to really help him against Link this time. He draws two blades from his sleeves, and the clash truly begins. His movements are definitely not that of someone adept with blades, but simply someone who really, really wants to cut something and flails wildly.
        The best way to deal with most of his attacks is to dodge and strike when his attacks send him careening past you. He can also be struck in between his slashes, if you know what you’re doing. Where before you could land combos on him, now he warps away after one strike, and after he takes enough damage he will perform a straight stabbing attack where he hacks directly in front of him before warping again, and a spinning attack which can break your guard. The best thing to do is dodge til he stops, but it can be countered with a spin attack of your own, which will stop him. At this point the will be dizzy, and you can attack.
        The main danger here is that his moves are far more erratic and fast, and thus harder to predict. It makes sense, given he’s completely insane. The fact that he warps away after every blow means the battle will rage on long after you think it should be over, which can be fatiguing. This is easily the longest part of the battle, making the rest look quite easy in comparison. He also knows when you block, and after taking enough damage, will warp away if you do so, so you won’t get a blow in when he pauses. This means the only way to hit him at this point is to dodge and hit him while he attacks, or, liberal use of the spin attack to counter his spin so he is open. If you can do that, victory is assured.
        Though he puts up an unexpectedly difficult battle at the last phase, Zant is beaten, and they’re all warped back to his throne. Midna takes back the Fused Shadows, but is unable to change herself back to her normal state, as Ganondorf’s magic is greater still. Zant mocks her, despite being unable to so much as stand. He says that Midna will never have the power her royal position should command, still obsessing over power, and that this victory is meaningless, because even if he is beaten, Ganondorf will resurrect Zant again, “without cease”. This gets Midna angry, and she accidentally uses the power of the Fused Shadows to impale Zant, killing him instantly.
        With Zant dead, and clearly not resurrecting, there is nothing else to do but go forth and stop Ganondorf, leaving the Twili saved from their oppressive ruler. Ultimately, Zant is a good example of why you shouldn’t judge a character by how they appear at first. He seemed calm, collected, borderline emotionless, but in truth he is deranged and childish, and hiding it under a cold mask. In fact, this is physically shown in that he never takes off his mask under the final meeting, where he reveals his true personality, and power-hungry psychopathic mindset. I found him to be a very fascinating villain because unlike many, he doesn’t show his true self from the beginning. You have to remove his mask.

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