Malenia from Elden Ring is the fairy tale I always wanted to hear

Malenia from Elden Ring is the fairy tale I always wanted to hear

Malenia from Elden Ring is the fairy tale I always wanted to hear

Malenia of Elden Ring stands tall with outstretched red and gold wings.

Screenshot: FromSoftware / Kotaku

These days we associate them with gold dust and eternally sweet faces, but the fairy is kind of a monster. Southeast Asia”yaksha“The spirits of nature engulf the lost travellers, the Germanic ones”wandercan kill a child with bare hands. Ring of EldenMalenia, Blade of Miquella, was born from a rotten flower with tangled wings and is recognized as one of the most dangerous creatures FromSoftware has ever created. She fits in perfectly.

When I was a child, fairies were something to be attracted to, and if I was dedicated enough, one day they would become. I have read children’s books with instructions on how to attract fairies to your garden with the dedication of a little scholar – I had never considered the magical properties of a bottle cap dosed with sugar before – and I spun in iridescent cellophane touched wings, swinging a silver wand trailing beads.

In keeping with more neutral world fairy myths like the African “aziza” who blessed hunters, or the Seelie Scottish court that didn’t outright kill all humans, I saw fairies as logical extensions of nature’s mercuriality, and thus, of myself as a fickle five-year-old with arms too chubby and useless to hold back my emotions. The fairies weren’t heroines, certainly not, but they towered over their delicate, ornate frames with dignity and a laudable, dark bite.

Legend of Zelda's Link wields a silver sword.

Every knight needs his fairy.
Image: nintendo

I found the first video game fairy I met, the great fairy in the 2006 action-adventure game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess– a game my friend’s brother played with brooding teenage bow – surprisingly docile. Or, not docile, but… her eyes looked puffy and sad as she sat in that fountain and praised Link. Still, a sterilized fairy is better than no fairy, so when I got a Nintendo DS in 2007, I decided to play The Legend of Zelda: Ghost Hourglass.

I was thrilled to see three other fairies, Ciela, Leaf, and Neri, act as Link’s companions and player cursors in-game. But those colored orbs of light also surprised me. Ciela’s zest for life seemed to come from sparkling around Link, not from bubbling by streams or pulling pranks. It was far from the behaviors I expected from what I considered serious fairy literature, illustrator Cicely Mary Barker’s 1923 spring flower fairies and his truly life-changing “diary” Feopolispublished posthumously in 2005.

But social expectations took their toll, and as I got older I started to see video games as what most older brothers and male classmates did after school. These expectations convinced me that the role of the video game fairy could only be that of a simple companion. For me, this acquiescence was based on facts.

Brentilda in 1998 Banjo-KazooieRibbon in the 2000s Kirby Chapter 64: The Crystal Shards, Stella in the 2010s Dragon Quest IXall confirmed that, because fairy mythology is often coded in the feminine and because games are often marketed to men, female fairies in games were doomed to occupy limited ancillary roles as “informant” and “background healer”. They were designed as unquestionably loyal, terminally ill shredders, plucked from woodland homes, rivers, and bluebells only to have their interesting wings clipped. They don’t soar or willfully take what they want like their mythical predecessors did. Instead, they remain pinned to their new, unnatural habitat: a male protagonist.

Into this pool of baggage enter the golden toes of Ring of Eldenis Malenia. But Ring of Elden brilliantly diverges from expectations, making Malenia a striking antithesis to the fairies that came before her.

With a phase one character design more reminiscent of another myth coded by women – the spirit guiding valkyriethe norwegian leader of battle tattered souls – malenia looks like war. She plays like that too. Between her HP regenerating each time she strikes and the infamous Waterfowl Dance, a slashing attack that was called ” Unavoidable“, Malenia was unofficially crowned FromSoftware’s toughest boss. Gamers would not spend countless hours of game time only to beat her if she weren’t so dreadful.

A castle in Dragon Quest IX is depicted amid purple clouds.

Video games are a type of modern fairy tale.
Image: Level 5

Unlike some Shrimp video game fairies, Malenia is made strong because of, not in spite of, her fairy form. This fairy doesn’t get stuck in the background. Appearing to you naked and mutilated, deceptively tender and feminine, she is reduced to her true brutal nature. “But she whose hours of tenderness had passed / Had neither hope nor fear,” writes William Butler Yeats of the fairy princess Niamh in the epic poem The Wanderings of Oisin.

A rotten flower blooms and a butterfly hordes come to his aid, sting you, stab you, inflict his nature on you, much like disfigured Europeans changelings traded for the purity of human childhood, or how the death of 17th-century fairy scholar Robert Kirk was attributed to being robbed by creatures. Malenia is a boss who wants to inflict rot on your essence, wipe out your entire personality with a simple and quick death. Fairydom is the world’s horror story to capture the whims that men often prescribe to femininity. When women like Cicely Mary Barker turn this horror story into inspiration for girls like me, Malenia becomes the video game fairy I’ve always wanted.

There is a problem (there always is). Look at her name, “Malenia, Blade of Miquella.” Video games just can’t help it, can they? On paper, this formidable fairy is only a companion, no more than a tool for her. sleeping, twin brother Miquella.

But unlike Link or the protagonist of Dragon Quest IX, Miquella is absent from the gameplay. In her absence, Malenia is a champion, perhaps his champion, but still a winner in her own right – and her existence opens the window of possibilities for female video game characters. If I had Malenia 15 years ago – her success, not only as a character in Ring of Elden, but also as a benchmark of the difficulty and design of the games – I would have seen that the games were aimed at more than just the red-faced boys in the class. I would understand that women in games don’t need to fly between pretty pink princess, total eye candyand moderate final girl, although disgruntled internet commentators still insist they must be. No, women can be terrifying. They can be beautiful, terrifying, and rotten to the core.

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