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The Great Calamity is an event from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This event serves as the main historical context of the game. It corresponds to the disaster caused by Calamity Ganon throughout Hyrule that occurred one hundred years ago before Link's awakening from his deep slumber inside the Shrine of Resurrection. After he awakens and leaves the Shrine, Link discovers a ruined Hyrule, devastated by Ganon`s forces.

Story

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

The prophecy

Calamity Ganon first emerged in the distant past. Ten thousand years before the events of Breath of the Wild, Ganon transformed into a monstrous creature of pure Malice known as Calamity Ganon. He ravaged Hyrule before being sealed away by the chosen Hero wielding the blade that seals darkness, and by the princess with divine powers. Assisting the hero and the princess were the Guardians and four massive mechanical animal constructs called the Divine Beasts. The Ancient Sheikah tribe developed these machines with their unique technology, to help the Royal Family of Hyrule.

According to the Sheikah Cado, his tribe had long been heralded as people of great wisdom since their ancient technology became the key in sealing Calamity Ganon ten thousands years ago. Their technology was at first praised as the power of the gods. However, the people of Hyrule began to fear it as a threat to the kingdom. As a result, the Sheikah became outcasts and was forced into exile. Although most Sheikah chose to cast off their technology and live simple lives, others fostered hatred towards the kingdom of Hyrule, leading them to swear allegiance to Ganon. This resulted in the creation of the Yiga Clan, who dedicate themselves to eliminating all who stand against Ganon.

The preparation

Ten thousand years later, and one century before Link's awakening inside the Shrine of Resurrection on the Great Plateau, it was foretold by the fortune teller that the return of Calamity Ganon was inevitable. This prophecy drove King Rhoam of Hyrule to create an archaeology team to search for the fabled Ancient Sheikah's technologically-advanced relics. King Rhoam decided to act in accordance to their ancestors' plan and excavated the relics, including the Guardians and the four Divine Beasts. The Sheikah still loyal to the Royal Family including Impa, Purah, and Robbie assisted them in studying this ancient technology. They recovered the mechanical army, and were successfully able to reactivate and use them. Zelda assisted them in their research due to her interest in science as she had trouble awaking her powers. Many believed them to be simply a legend but their discovery made this legend a reality for them.

Realizing this, the King selected the hero chosen by the Master Sword, a young recruit of the royal army named Link, as the personal knight of his daughter, Princess Zelda. King Rhoam then formed a group of exceptionally skilled warriors referred to as Champions. He requested each race of Hyrule choose a Champion, and four elite warriors were selected from across the kingdom, Mipha the Zora Champion, Daruk the Goron Champion, Revali the Rito Champion and Urbosa the Gerudo Champion. They were tasked with the duty of piloting the Divine Beasts to assist the Hylian Champion, the knight Link, and to use them against the demon.

The final key to defeating Calamity Ganon was the divine sealing powers of the royal family's bloodline, and the recent death of Hyrule's Queen saw this immense duty fall to her only surviving daughter. As she was now sole bearer of their birthright, the King ordered Zelda to focus on mastering her control over the Divine Power to the exclusion of all else.

The Great Calamity

While the other Champions piloted their race's respective Divine Beast, Zelda was sent on a pilgrimage under Link's protection, praying to statues of the goddess Hylia for the power to defeat Calamity Ganon. Feeling jealousy towards Link for being successful as a knight, in sharp contrast to her success as the princess of Hyrule, Zelda acted unfriendly towards him. During their journey, the two were ambushed by the Yiga Clan, who were planning to assassinate Zelda. Despite being ambushed, Link protected Zelda and drove them away.

Feeling grateful towards Link and realizing the errors of her way, Zelda decided to apologize and talk to him. In response, Link slowly opened up to her, allowing him and Zelda to befriend one another. Eventually, Link told Zelda why he maintained a quiet demeanor, which was because of the pressure he felt as the chosen hero. Empathizing with Link, Zelda reprimanded herself for being absorbed in her own problems, to the point of not realizing how others have their own hardships as well. No longer consumed by fear or doubt, Zelda wholeheartedly hoped to know more about Link and eventually tell him about her own troubled feelings.

Despite this new-found sense of hope, Zelda`s powers did not awaken, and all preparation proved to be in vain. Having learned from his previous defeat, Calamity Ganon created four phantom embodiment of himself representing the elements of fire, water, thunder, and wind, tasked with corrupting and taking control the Divine Beasts, and killing four of the Champions and imprisoning their spirits in the process.

Succeeding in taking control of the Divine Beasts, Calamity Ganon proceeded to take control of the Guardians to use against the people of Hyrule. He then destroyed Hyrule Castle Town and devastated Hyrule, all while slaughtering countless innocents. Among the chaos, King Rhoam was killed and the remaining soldiers and Knights of Hyrule who survived were helpless against the Guardian onslaught. Link and Zelda themselves were confronted by an army of Guardians at Fort Hateno. Despite wielding the Master Sword and destroying countless guardians, there were too many guardians for Link to handle by himself.

Breath of the Wild Blade of Evil's Bane Zelda holding the rusty Master Sword (Recovered Memory 18 Cutscene)

Zelda placing the Master Sword in its pedestal within Korok Forest

Severely wounded and unable to evade, Link was about be killed by a guardian, when Zelda ran to Link to shield him from the fatal blow. It was then that Zelda`s powers awoke itself, allowing her to shut down the guardians. Despite the guardians being stopped, Link succumbed to his injuries and almost died.

Heartbroken over this, Zelda wept in sadness. Responding to the situation, the Master Sword activated on its own and spoke to Zelda. The Master Sword revealed to Zelda that Link can still be saved, then gave her instructions on how to do so.

Wasting no time, Zelda requested her Sheikah allies Impa, Purah, and Robbie to send Link in the Shrine of Resurrection on the Great Plateau, and place him in the untested Slumber of Restoration. Zelda then returned the battle-damaged Master Sword to its pedestal in front of the Great Deku Tree. Finally, Zelda used her newly awoken powers to seal Ganon and herself within Hyrule Castle.

Aftermath

After the fall of Hyrule during the Great Calamity, and the seal of Calamity Ganon by Princess Zelda, the surviving people of Hyrule recovered and settlements like Hateno Village were rebuilt.

Though the Royal Family of Hyrule and Champions had fallen, the Zora Royal Family lead by King Dorephan continued to lead the Zora for the next 100 hundred years. The Zora people tried to honor the late Zora Champion Princess Mipha by sending her Lightscale Trident but her spirit spoke to them and asked them to not grieve, only remember her in their hearts. this caused the Zora to venerate the Lightscale Trident and create the Champion Festival as a day of remembrance and celebration of Mipha's life, with a memorial statue of her being constructed in Zora's Domain. Similarly, the other Champions were also honored by their people as heroes.

Link's defense of Fort Hateno would be remembered by the people living in the Necluda region and Hateno Village, though he is believed to have died heroically fighting during the Great Calamity as his survival was not widely known to the public so they tried demolishing his house 100 years later as no one had bought it. A large stone carving of Daruk can be found in Goron City and his descendant Yunobo inherited Daruk's Protection ability. A landing platform in Rito Village was named Revali's Landing in honor of the Rito Champion. Though Lady Urbosa lacks a monument or memorial in Gerudo Town, she is remembered by the Gerudo Chieftain Riju and Gerudo children 100 years after her death.

Impa, Purah, and Robbie decided to split up to survive long enough to aid Link when he woke up from his slumber. While Impa remained behind to lead the Sheikah in Kakariko Village, Purah took up residence in the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab, while Robbie constructed the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab in an old lighthouse in Deep Akkala. The three Sheikah survived for the next 100 years keeping in contact by letters. Impa would send other Sheikah to aid them in their research, such as Jerrin and Symin.

Robbie would end up marrying his assistant Jerrin and the two had a son together. Purah attempted to reverse her age with an experimental rune but it backfired and she ultimately ended up in the body of a six year old girl. Impa would have a granddaughter named Paya who grew up into a shy young woman that helps care for her elderly grandmother and prays for their village's protection.

The Yiga Clan came under the leadership of Master Kohga and at some point, attacked Gerudo Town and stole the Thunder Helm there, resulting in the Gerudo becoming dedicated to restoring their honor and eliminating the Yiga Clan.

Princess Zelda is remembered for her heroic sacrifice in sealing Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle, though only a few people are aware that she is still alive. Like Link while placed in the Slumber of Restoration, Zelda`s physical body stopped aging while under the seal, allowing her to maintain it even after a century had passed. By sealing herself with Ganon, Zelda became both Ganon's jailer and prisoner as she had to remained sealed with him in the Castle to prevent his escape.The seal placed on Ganon and Zelda herself can falter at times, such as when Ganon's power reaches its peak during certain nights and creates a Blood Moon and shortly after Link activates the Great Plateau Tower, though Zelda manages to restore it before Ganon is able to escape.

Even though he was sealed, Ganon influence could still be found in Hyrule, such as pools of Malice that had been created when water had been sullied during the Great Calamity, corrupted Guardians who patrolled Hyrule Field, the ruins of Hyrule Castle Town, and Hyrule Castle itself, making these area inhabitable. Additionally, during every Blood Moon, Ganon is able to resurrect any monsters that were slain, Yiga that were forced to retreat, or Guardians that were destroyed by Link.

Under Ganon`s influence, the Guardians annihilated the surviving soldiers and Knights of Hyrule that fled Hyrule Castle and regrouped at the Akkala Citadel. Though ultimately defeated, the soldiers and knights managed to take out several Guardians by using the area to their advantage, causing Torin Wetland to be littered with the remains of broken and defeated Guardians. Due to the fierce battle, Akkala Citadel was reduced to ruins that were patrolled by Guardian Skywatchers, with the cannons there becoming derelict and inoperable.

In contrast to the Guardians, the Divine Beasts became dormant during the 100 years Link slept inside the Slumber of Restoration. Once Link had awoken from his slumber though, the Divine Beasts reactivated themselves and began rampaging against the people they once protected.

Princess Zelda (via telepathy), the spirit of King Rhoam, and Impa guide the amnesic Link after he awakens and reveal to him his past and quest to free both the Divine Beasts, Princess Zelda, and ultimately Hyrule by stopping Calamity Ganon and his phantoms. During his journey, Link must contend with various dangers of Hyrule such as wild animals, monsters, corrupted Guardians, the Yiga Clan, and the Divine Beasts themselves.

Fortunately, Link acquires Zelda's Sheikah Slate, a powerful Sheikah artifact that proves vital in his quest and allows him to access Sheikah Towers, Shrines, and technology. Additionally it allows him to meet the Sheikah Monks who inhabit the various Shrines found all over Hyrule. When praying to Hylia`s statues, a disembodied voice (hinted to be Hylia) helps him by trading Heart Containers or Stamina Vessels for Spirit Orbs obtained from completing the Monks' trials and guides him to shrines hidden in the three springs that Zelda visited during her pilgrimage.

Using pictures stored in the Sheikah Slate, Link's memories are ultimately restored and he reclaims the Master Sword from Korok Forest to use in his battle against Ganon. With the aid of allies such as King Dorephan, Prince Sidon, Riju, Yunobo, and Teba, Link also manages to free the Divine Beasts and the Champion's spirits. The spirits of the champions then grant Link their special abilities and retake control of the Divine Beasts. Once fully prepared to fight Ganon, Link infiltrates Hyrule Castle to team up with Zelda and save the Kingdom of Hyrule. With help from Zelda, Link ultimately defeats Ganon and succeeds in his quest.

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