Dormin's Prison

Having analysed the magic in Shadow we can now apply what we know to the events of the story in order to determine what exactly happened and how it all started. Of course, even with the magic analysis, a lot about the story is still uncertain, and so this is merely one possible version of events, but one which seems likely given what we learned by analysing the magic.

The earliest point in the history of the Forbidden Land that we can reach back to is the point at which it was still inhabited, the point at which the events took place which eventually lead to the events of Shadow. Emon actually says a few things at the beginning of Shadow which may well reference how the land came to exist or came to be of importance, but the precise meaning of those words has long since been lost. Instead we must begin with the people who lived there once it was established, people who I term the 'Ancients' simply for the fact that they were there long ago.
One thing we know for certain about the Ancients is that they had mastery over Light Magic, as some of the most impressive examples of its use are seen in their Shrine. It is also extremely likely that they were responsible for creating the Colossi, not only because Light Magic is a critical component of them without which they return to earth and stone, but also because they are linked to the Idols in the Ancient's Shrine.
The details of how the Colossi were created are lost - it was no doubt a great feat of magic and quite possibly one of engineering too, if there was any old fashioned work involved, but beyond that we cannot say. Why they were created is more easily determined. We know the Colossi are what sealed the sixteen segments of Dormin, and it makes sense that they were created for this purpose. One could suggest other histories for or motivations behind the Colossi, but the impression of being guardians that they give off is impossible to miss. Even the more passive of them have obvious defensive features, and they seem to exist solely for the purpose of containing Dormin and fighting anyone who would aim to free it. Thus it is fairly certain that the Ancients created them in order to use them to seal Dormin.

The events surrounding the actual sealing of Dormin are probably the least clear element of the story. While we'll never know exactly how it was done, we can look a little at exactly why. Wander's people, Emon in particular, seem to be the 'modern' representatives of those who sealed Dormin. Emon certainly possesses the requisite knowledge about the Seal, and effectively reprises their conflict with Dormin. Dormin also recognises Emon in this role, as knew before the party even arrived that Emon meant to stop him, whereas in Wander he instead saw an opportunity to escape. Emon's view is that Dormin is an evil power which must be sealed, and Ancients' thoughts on the subject were undoubtedly similar. Whether this was due to Dormin's inherent nature or to some particular harm it did is unknown, however there may be a clue in the magic being used.
The magic analysis highlighted that Light Magic completely blocks or destroys Dark Magic, so essentially the Ancients wielded a power which was Dormin's kryptonite. There are two possibilities surrounding this. The first is that they intentionally learned to use Light Magic because Dormin was their enemy, which supports the idea that sealing Dormin was retaliation or the removal of a specific threat. The other possibility is that this is a power they had control over anyway, which they did not learn to control simply to fight Dormin. The latter option is more likely because of the sheer scale of the use of Light Magic; being able to use it to create the Colossi and seal something as powerful as Dormin does not suggest a crash course taken on to eliminate a sudden threat. On top of this, Light Magic is seen integrated into their buildings; the Idols and Colossi could be explained away as additions to the land designed to fight Dormin, however the pool of light in the Shrine and the self-destructing Bridge feature Light Magic built right into them. That they wielded it so strongly and that it is built into some of their most significant buildings suggests that the Ancients had control over Light Magic by default, and then simply turned it against Dormin.
Returning to the motivation behind sealing Dormin, we now need only to combine two of the above conclusions: that Light Magic is Dormin's kryptonite, and that Light Magic was a defining feature of the Ancients. Since the Ancients were masters of a power which is destructive to Dormin's very nature, it's not a huge leap of logic to conclude that they would see a being like Dormin as an enemy, something they must seal or destroy. So, while it is still entirely possible that Dormin did something in particular to draw their ire, the Ancients likely saw Dormin as something evil, much as Emon sees it, and thus set out to seal it.

As I mentioned, the details of how Dormin was actually sealed are beyond us, so we shall skip from the motivation right past the sealing to the aftermath. Turning once again to Wander's people for some insight on those who came before them, we come to the obvious point that the Forbidden Land is indeed forbidden. The land is considered cursed, and although the Ancients may not have considered it 'cursed' in the same superstitious way as someone recounting a legend, this is obviously derived from how they perceived their land once Dormin was sealed there. Wander's initial encounters with Dormin show us that despite being sealed it was not entirely contained. This is probably why the land was considered unsafe, and is undoubtedly at least a factor in the abandonment of the land, if not the entire cause.
The middle of your home land may seem a strange place to seal something, if doing so is going to cause you to have to leave. In trying to explain this we are left with a similar choice to the one above: either Dormin attacked them and it was a necessary sacrifice to fight back, or it was premeditated and the abandonment of the land was simply an unfortunate necessity. Once again the scale of the task makes the latter more likely. The pool in the Shrine indicates an ability to strike back at Dormin directly, but instead they created this elaborate means to seal it. This doesn't suggest a sudden act of desperation, more likely they simply saw it as necessary to seal Dormin, possibly due to some threat it posed, and to do so they had to harness all the power they could, which meant the Shrine, the Idols, the Colossi. The only way to seal Dormin was to turn the land over to it, and that is what they did.
From what we see of the Colossi it seems they remain inactive until they need to defend themselves. When the land was abandoned they went to sleep, and the land quietly fell into ruin.

Skip forward a few centuries or even millennia, and Wander arrives. He has the Ancient Sword which is necessary to free Dormin, and unwittingly enters a deal to do just that. The process of releasing Dormin follows a specific ritual - the Sword leads him to the Colossi in the order the Idols are arranged in the Shrine. While Wander is doing this Emon is on his way to the Forbidden Land to stop him. He arrives just in time to see the final Idol fall, and shortly thereafter Wander is returned to the Shrine, looking much the worse for his pact with Dormin.
Seeing what has become of Wander, Emon chastises him before ordering him killed, apparently not realising that to do so will merely cause Dormin to manifest. Once Dormin has appeared, Emon's men recover the Ancient Sword and make their way back toward the bridge. Dormin tries to stop them, but has difficulty due to injuries to Wander's body. When they reach the exit, Emon activates the second Seal by throwing the Sword down into the Pool below, and escapes with his men. The Seal sucks Dormin's body down into a pool of light, as the bridge outside collapses. All it leaves behind is an infant who bears horns similar to Dormin's.
Despite what happened, Dormin kept its part of the bargain; a short while later Mono awakes, and finds the infant. Whether it is Wander or a new life, and what link it has to Dormin, is unknown.


Wander's People

An aside about the humans we see in the story who, as mentioned above, are probably descendants of the Ancients. Since centuries or millennia have passed since they left the Forbidden Land, you would expect Wander's people to seem out of place upon their return. They should be far more advanced than they were when they left, but this is not the appearance they give. We can't be certain of the level of technology of the Ancients of course, especially since they were no doubt able to rely on magic for at least some things. But Wander and Emon's part do not seem particularly out of place, suggesting that they haven't advanced significantly at all. Furthermore, being descended from the people who sealed Dormin, you would expect them to have significant magical power, especially a party sent specifically to counter the release of Dormin. Yet they bring no such power, and must instead rely on the sword which Wander took to actually do Dormin any harm. This all tells us that for some reason the people who left the Forbidden Land did not advance, and apparently lost their mastery of Light Magic.

Emon speaks of the Forbidden Land as if it is a legend or even a myth. So much time has passed that if their history was properly recorded then it would indeed have gone from actual events to vague legends as it was told and retold. While the knowledge needed to deal with Dormin when it is released remains, any real practical knowledge of the land or its magic has been lost. In this, as in their advancement as a civilisation and in their mastery over Light Magic, they appear to have lost their heritage. They return to the land that their ancestors inhabited more or less as strangers. As for why, there are any number of possible explanations.


Written by Crumplecorn
Last Updated 08/03/2010


Read Comments