Back in the mists of time...
Before the era of The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link, Hyrule was a land of fabulous palaces and magic. It was also a troubled land, and the divisions of Light and Dark were tearing it apart. The origins of this conflict lay even deeper in the shadows of time, with the coming of the Triforce and the greed of Ganondorf, King of Thieves.
The Imprisoning War
To comprehend Hyrule and Link's desperate quest, one must first know the ancient legend of the Triforce. In the Golden Land where it was placed by the creators of the world, the Triforce beckoned to people. Ganon and his band of thieves long searched for the secret entrance to the Golden Land, eventually stumbling upon it. Then Ganon defeated his fellows for possession of the Triforce.
In a period known as the Imprisoning War, the King of Hyrule brought seven wise men together to seal the door to the Golden Land, for Ganon's evil power had been spilling forth, causing corruption and darkness. The once peaceful land became a place of dreadful rumors of the coming of a magical enemy. At this time the Master Sword was forged, but there was no hero valiant enough to wield it.
Before the wise men could seal off the Golden Land and the Triforce, Ganon's army surged into Hyrule and besieged the castle. The Knights of Hyrule fought heroically, but the power of the Triforce controlled their enemies, giving them inhuman strength. The battle raged back and forth through the gate. Many foes fell in the tide of battle, but too many Knights also were lost. It seemed that they were beyond hope.
The War's End
Then at the end of the day, the wise men finally succeeded in blocking the door to Ganon's Realm. With the power of their master removed, the enemies fled or threw themselves into the moat. Hyrule was saved and over the years the Golden Land, which then became known as the Dark World, faded from the memory of the people.
The people of Hyrule may have forgotten about the Dark World, but the master of that evil land had not forgotten about Hyrule. Ganon brooded in his prison, surrounded by reminders of his fall. He grew ever more bitter as the dark years passed like the wailing of cold winds on a winter's night. Ambition burned in his eyes. He would find a way to wreak vengeance and claim total power.
The Wizard Agahnim
Many centuries passed with Ganon and the Triforce safely locked away. Then the disasters began: plague, drought, quakes, and fire. The King sought sage advice and a wizard named Agahnim stepped forth and ended the strange disasters. He became a powerful advisor to the King, but he kept his true plans to himself. It seemed like a Golden Age, but it wouldn't last.
Once Agahnim had consolidated his power, he began to abuse it. First to fall victim were the ancestors of the seven wise men. The wizard imprisoned six maidens in crystal cocoons and they were never seen again. Then Princess Zelda herself was taken as she sent a telepathic plea into the night. The Hylian gift that enabled Zelda to send her message also allowed Link to hear her.
The Great Quest
Having received Zelda's message, Link felt compelled to save her, but his uncle forbade him to leave the house. Link's uncle thought that the lad's courage outweighed his common sense, yet he knew something had to be done to save Zelda. Turning away from Link, he gripped his sword. He knew a secret entrance into the castle, although he didn't know the way out.
Link couldn't tell how much time had passed since his Uncle had left—a minute? an hour? The only thing he knew was that Zelda had spoken to him. He had to help her! Taking a lamp to light his way, Link stepped into the lashing rain, and headed toward the castle.
As Link floundered about in the storm, he heard a second telepathic message from Zelda telling of a secret route into the castle. When he found the entrance, he also found his uncle inside, wounded and unable to carry on. Link took his Uncle's sword and promised to return...