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

Malenia from Elden Ring stands with spread red and gold wings.

Screenshot: FromSoftware/Kotaku

Today we associate them with golden sand and eternally cute faces, but a fairy is some kind of monster. Southeast Asia”yaksha“the spirits of nature devour the wayward travelers, the Germans”erlkingcan kill a child with his bare hands. ancient ringMalenia, the Blade of Mikella, emerged from a rotting flower with tangled wings and is known as one of the most dangerous creatures ever created by FromSoftware. She fits exactly.

When I was a kid, fairies were something to lure in, and if I was loyal enough, one day they were. I read children’s books with instructions on how to attract fairies to my backyard with the dedication of a little scientist – I had never thought about the magical properties of a sugar-filled bottle cap before – and circled on wings touched by iridescent cellophane, swaying. silver stick with beads.

In line with more neutral global fairy tale myths such as African “aziza” who blessed the hunters, or Scottish Seelie Court who didn’t directly kill all humans, I saw fairies as a logical extension of nature’s fickleness and thus myself as a fickle five-year-old with arms too plump and useless to contain my emotions. The fairies weren’t heroes, certainly not, but they wielded their slender, flowery bodies and commendable dark bite with dignity.

Legend of Zelda's Link brandishes a silver sword.

Every knight needs his own fairy.
Image: Nintendo

I found the first video game fairy I ever encountered Great Fairy in the 2006 adventure game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess— a game my friend’s brother played with sullen youthful reverence — remarkably docile. Or, not obedient, but… her eyes looked puffy and sad as she sat in that fountain praising Link. However, a sterilized fairy is better than none, so when I got my Nintendo DS in 2007, I decided to play it. The Legend of Zelda: The Haunting Hourglass.

I was pleased to see three more fairies, Ciel, Leaf and Neri, acting as Link’s companions and the player’s in-game cursors. But I was also surprised by these multi-colored balls of light. Seela’s joy in life seemed to come from shimmering next to Link, not from babbling near streams or playing pranks. This was a far cry from the behavior I expected from what I considered serious fairy tale literature, 1923 illustrator Cicely Mary Barker. Spring flower fairies and her truly fateful “diary” Feyriopolispublished posthumously in 2005.

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

Brandilda in 1998 Banjo-KazooieRibbon 2000s Kirby 64: Crystal Shards, Stella in the 2010s Dragon Quest IXeveryone has confirmed this, since magical mythology is often coded by women, and games often sold to menfemale fairies in the games were doomed to limited supporting roles like “informant” and “background healer”. They were conceived as unquestioningly loyal and utterly peppy, snatched from forest homes, rivers and bluebells only to have their interesting wings clipped. They don’t hover and take what they want like their mythical predecessors. Instead, they remain tied to their new, unnatural habitat: the male protagonist.

This bundle of luggage includes golden toes ancient ringMalenia. But ancient ring brilliantly diverges from expectations, making Malenia a stark contrast to the fairies that came before her.

With the character design of the first phase more reminiscent of another woman code myth – spirit guide valkyrieNorwegian leader of the battle-torn souls – Malenia looks like a war. She plays like that too. Between her health regenerating each time she strikes, and the infamous Waterfowl Dance, a slashing attack called “inevitable”, Malenia was unofficially crowned by FromSoftware the hardest boss. Players will not dedicate countless hours of game time exclusively for defeat her If only she weren’t so ugly.

The castle in Dragon Quest IX is depicted among purple clouds.

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

Unlike some video game shrimp fairies, Malenia became strong because of her magical form, not in spite of it. This fairy does not get stuck in the background. Appearing to you naked and crippled, deceptively tender and feminine, she is reduced to her true, cruel 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 Oisin’s wanderings.

A rotten flower blooms and a butterfly hordes come to her aid, poking at you, piercing you, inflicting their nature on you, like a mutilated European changelings replaced themselves for the sake of the purity of human childhood, or how the death of the 17th-century wizard-scholar Robert Kirk was attributed be stolen by creatures. Malenia is a boss who wants to rot your essence, destroy the integrity of your personality with a quick and easy death. Fairydom – World Horror Story to Capture capriciousness that men often prescribe to femininity. When women like Cicely Mary Barker turn this horror story into an inspiration for girls like me, Malenia becomes the video game fairy I’ve always dreamed of.

There is one problem (there is always). Look at her name: Malenia, Blade of Michelle. Video games just can’t resist, can they? On paper, this formidable fairy is just a companion, nothing more than a tool for her. sleeping, twin brother of Michelle.

But unlike Link or the protagonist Dragon Quest IX, Mikella is missing from the gameplay. In his absence, Malenia is a champion – perhaps his a champion, but still a winner in her own right, and her existence opens a window of opportunity for female video game characters. If I had Malenia 15 years ago, her success is not only as a character in ancient ring, but also as a benchmark for the complexity and design of games – I would see that games are needed not only for the red-faced boys in the classroom. I would understand that women in games do not need to play from the summer between the pretty pink princess, complete eye candyas well as submissive last girl, although dissatisfied Internet commentators still insist that it should be so. No, women can be terrible. They can be beautiful, terrible and rotten to the core.

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