|Swiftly and suddenly, dark clouds covered all of Hyrule. Ominous clouds that filled all those who saw them with fear... A sense of dread swept across the land.|
The Dark Plague refers to a major event that befell the land of Hyrule several hundred years following the events of Twilight Princess and during the events of Four Sword Adventures. It occurred when the newly-reincarnated Ganondorf stole the Trident of Power from its resting place deep within the Pyramid of the Desert of Doubt and used it to spread darkness across the kingdom, transforming himself into Ganon, the King of Darkness, in the process. This event would result in the final destruction of Vaati in the "Child" branch of the timeline and the sealing away of Ganon within the blade of the Four Sword.
Reincarnation of the Dark Lord
Some time following the events of Twilight Princess, the Hyrulean monarchy made peace with the Gerudo, the tribe to which the Dark Lord Ganondorf (who had more than once attempted to overthrow the Royal Family at different points throughout Hyrule's history) had belonged. This resulted in friendly relations being restored between the Gerudo and the rest of Hyrule, with the Gerudo going on to settle in a village at the southern border of the Desert of Doubt, located in the southwestern corner of Hyrule. Several hundred years following the events of Twilight Princess, however, Ganondorf was reincarnated amongst the Gerudo tribe once again as its sole male member, in fulfillment of the curse that the Demon King Demise had cast moments before his death ages before. Ganondorf's heart grew twisted and evil with the passing of time, and he longed for the power to dominate the entire world, just as his previous incarnation had before him.
The Trident of Power and The Dark Mirror
Eventually, Ganondorf learned of a dark power that lay deep within the ancient Pyramid that is sacred to the Gerudo tribe. One day, he flouted Gerudo law stipulating that nobody was to enter the Pyramid and left the Gerudo Village for the Pyramid, infuriating the other members of his tribe. He was sighted by a member of the Zuna tribe as he made his way to the Desert Temple, where he passed through its trials and reached the Pyramid. Inside, Ganondorf discovered the Trident of Power and a message beside its stand, revealing the Trident possessed the power to ruin the world. The evil Gerudo stole the Trident and was subsequently transformed into Ganon, the demonic King of Darkness. When he did not return to his village, the rest of the Gerudo simply assumed Ganondorf died in the attempt to reach the Pyramid.
Ganon's next act was to obtain the Dark Mirror, an ancient artifact capable of bringing the evil within a person to life. It was said to have been used to seal away a dark tribe that attempted to invade Hyrule in the past and was hidden within a temple deep within the Forest of Light to sever its connection to the world. Ganon traveled to this temple and stole the Dark Mirror from its resting place to use it in his plan to conquer the kingdom. To ensure they could not oppose him, Ganon preemptively defeated the four Knights of Hyrule in battle, transforming them into monsters and the four Royal Jewels they guarded into portals to the Dark World.
The Coming Darkness
The King of Darkness decided to use the Dark Mirror to create an agent of chaos in Shadow Link, to bring misery to Hyrule's people while also tainting the hero's name. He also decided to use Shadow Link to abduct Princess Zelda and the Shrine Maidens who protect Hyrule and to trick Link into releasing Vaati, the ancient wind demon said to be sealed within the Four Sword. Ganon intended to use Vaati as a distraction so he could then drain the power of Hyrule's people from them.
Using the Trident's power, Ganon cast dark storm clouds over all of Hyrule, in an attempt to make Princess Zelda and the Shrine Maidens suspect that the seal on Vaati was weakening. This attempt would prove successful, as Princess Zelda summoned the six other Shrine Maidens from across Hyrule as well as Link to Hyrule Castle to discuss the darkness. The Princess decided to open the portal to the Four Sword Sanctuary with the Shrine Maidens and inspect Vaati's seal. However, as soon as the portal was open, Shadow Link emerged to capture the Shrine Maidens and Zelda, sealing them into crystals and spiriting them away to locations all across Hyrule before vanishing back through the open portal. Link gave chase and arrived at the Four Sword Sanctuary, where the impostor goaded the hero into lifting the Four Sword from its pedestal, causing the hero to split into four colored versions of himself. This action allowed Vaati to escape his prison, as Ganon had planned, while Shadow Link fled the scene and the four Links were sent flying by Vaati's winds.
Rescuing the Maidens
The four Links learned from the wise owl Kaepora Gaebora that the Shrine Maidens and Princess Zelda had been captured by dark forces and had been whisked away to locations all across Hyrule. The Links were also made aware that Vaati had seemingly erected dark barriers across the land that were slowly draining the land of its power. Armed with this information, the four Links set out across Hyrule to rescue the maidens and the princess from their captivity and to defeat the wind demon once and for all.
The Blue Maiden, they learned, was being held near the top of Hyrule Castle. Fighting their way through Lake Hylia and the Cave of No Return, the four heroes arrived at the castle and battled Phantom Ganon to free the Blue Maiden. With the first maiden now freed, she guided the four heroes to Eastern Hyrule, where the heroes had to work their way through the Coast and the Village of the Blue Maiden to reach the location of the Yellow Maiden, the Eastern Temple. There, they battled the Stone Arrghus to free the Yellow Maiden, who then transported them to her realm: Death Mountain. Having traversed the foothills and the Mountain Path, they eventually arrived at the Tower of Flames, where they battled a trio of Dodongos to free the Green Maiden before learning that darkness had overtaken Hyrule Castle once again. The Green Maiden guided the heroes to her section of the land: the Fields south of Hyrule Castle. Working their way through the Field and the Swamp, the heroes were forced to infiltrate Hyrule Castle and defeat a Big Poe to rescue the White Maiden.
With the White Maiden freed, the heroes set out for her section of Hyrule: the Forest of Light. Tasked with recovering the Dark Mirror said to be kept within the temple inside the forest, the heroes found that not only had the forest been engulfed in darkness, but that it had also spilled into the Lost Woods and Kakariko Village as well. Clearing these latter two areas, the heroes made their way to the Temple of Darkness and faced off once again with Phantom Ganon to rescue the Red Maiden, only to discover the Dark Mirror missing.
- "Several hundred years after Ganondorf's defeat, relations between Gerudo Village and Hyrule had become friendly once more, and peace had been restored to the land." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 119)
- "A kid like you may not know this, but the Gerudo race consists only of women. Only one man is born every hundred years..." — Nabooru (Ocarina of Time)
- "Once every 100 years, a special child is born unto my people. That child is destined to be the mighty guardian of the Gerudo and the desert. But this child, its heart grew twisted with every passing year. The child became a man who hungered for power at any price." — Gerudo (Four Swords Adventures)
- "Though this is not the end. My hate... never perishes. It is born anew in a cycle with no end! I will rise again. Those like you... Those who share the blood of the goddess and the spirit of the hero... They are eternally bound to this curse. An incarnation of my hatred shall ever follow your kind, dooming them to wander a blood-soaked sea of darkness for all time!" — Demise (Skyward Sword)
- "They say that Ganondorf is not satisfied with ruling only the Gerudo and aims to conquer all of Hyrule!" — Gossip Stone (Ocarina of Time)