Mistilteinn, Tree Crown without a Ruler
"Mistilteinn, Tree Crown without a Ruler" is a musical piece composed by Hirokazu Ando. It debuted in Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, serving as the boss battle theme for the Master Crown during its appearances in Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler and The True Arena. It can be found as track 184 in the Jukebox.
"Mistilteinn, Tree Crown without a Ruler" plays with a consistent 4/4 time signature at a BPM range between 139 to 143, featuring vast usage of strings, percussion, as well as vocals and brass that alternate with each other. It plays primarily in the keys of G-sharp (A-flat) minor and A minor. Despite being primarily in minor key, it is characterized by a triumphant and heroic tone, acting as a thematic inversion of "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" to represent Magolor's redemption. It uses themes associated with Magolor and the Master Crown ("Magolor, the Far-Flung Traveler", "Road to Victory", and "C-R-O-W-N-E-D"), as well as from Team Kirby Clash Deluxe and its sequel (which make use of a "Town" motif specific to the Village music, and an "Ordeal" motif specific to the "Ordeal" themes). These themes symbolize the clash between the aforementioned characters and foreshadow their fate.
The intro consists of a G-sharp minor version of the "Town" motif, featuring a cello, vocals, cymbals and church bells at the start and adding a harpsichord, violin, and organ. The piece then accelerates. A xylophone and soprano choir perform a frantic descending progression.
A violin and percussion play the "Ordeal" motif, accompanied by strings the second time the melody plays. As the theme continues, it rapidly transitions to A minor, at which point a trumpet joins. Brass instruments continue the theme.
Not a moment after the "Ordeal" motif reaches an end, two themes from "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" usually heard one after another join simultaneously, hinting at C major, adding a single stray B-flat (low second tone) that was not present in the original. The two themes alternate between instruments (primarily strings) while contributing to polyphony. A third theme from "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" joins in the brass - the C minor "Magolor, the Far-Flung Traveler", but it does not reach the end, interrupted by a melodic turn similar to the themes from the Kirby Clash series, with the addition of orchestra bells and piano accompaniment.
"Magolor, the Far-Flung Traveler" does not take long to return, however, with a piano glissando leading into it. Establishing the C minor it introduced, it plays similarly to the introductory segment of "C-R-O-W-N-E-D", albeit with a tempo more reminiscent of Magolor's jollier theme. During this time, the Master Crown's theme plays in the background. The "Town" motif returns at a climax, hinting at B-flat major, and it quickly dissipates when a new section comes.
At the heart of the piece, the first lasting major key segment is marked by the theme from "Road to Victory", settling into C major. The bells and choir return to cast light on this section, and another piano glissando decorates it. The primary "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" theme, still in the background, also takes a major turn. Before long, the intro of "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" (or middle section of "Magolor, the Far-Flung Traveler") returns the piece to A minor, with a harpischord joining in playing the "Town" motif, albeit often including major harmonies.
A calm interlude similar to the transitional theme of "Two Planets Approach the Roche Limit" brings a change of character, as the instrumentation becomes more scarce and light. This lyrical section, quoting the "Port Village" theme from Super Kirby Clash, makes way for G-sharp minor again, adding heavy double-time percussion similar to the second half of "Two Planets Approach the Roche Limit". The rhythm drives the piece forward as the Kirby Clash themes return, with a quiet quotation of the primary "Magolor, the Far-Flung Traveler" motif.
The piece reaches another climax in the higher registers. The pace comes to a brief halt, where the piano hits a bass dominant note thrice. The composition builds on the "Town" motif from here, with different elements of "C-R-O-W-N-E-D" and "Road to Victory" scattered throughout. "Ordeal" eventually returns in its original violin variation, at which point the track loops.
The theme's name has multiple possible meanings. Mistilteinn is a Norse word that translates to "mistletoe", a parasitic plant which grows on trees, and in particular apple trees. The Master Crown's form in the Magolor Epilogue boss battle, that of a wreath wrapped around a primary tree-like form, evokes the parasitic mistletoe plant. The Norse word "mistilteinn" specifically is associated with the myth of the death of the Norse god Baldr, where the mistletoe is considered too young to be asked to swear an oath of allegiance to Baldr, and Loki ultimately transforms it into a lethal projectile killing Baldr. The death of Baldr precipitates a series of apocalyptic events commonly known as Ragnarök. Just as Loki's betrayal of his companions through exploitation of the mistletoe branch unleashes a destructive chain of events—culminating in Surtr covering the entire world in fire—Magolor's betrayal of Kirby and friends to seize the Master Crown ultimately leads to a final struggle set in a fiery and ruined battlefield. Also, both the killing of mythical beings and the fate of the universe being determined by the mistletoe can be seen in the Master Crown's fight, due to its 'limitless power'.
The name Mistilteinn is also associated with the Icelandic saga of Hromund Gripsson, where it is the name of an enchanted sword. Þráinn, the original wielder of the sword, is an undead witch-king, similar to how the Japanese name of the theme implies that the Master Crown is specifically the crown of deceased rulers. Hrómundr defeats Þráinn, claims the sword from him, and uses it to slay Swedish kings. This parallels Magolor's use of the sword at the end to slay the Master Crown.
Mistilteinn is not the only portion of the name with multiple layers of meaning. The "Tree Crown without a Ruler" appears to reveal some information about the Master Crown. While the English version of the theme's name is not too clear with its meaning, 王亡き樹冠 literally translates to "tree crown that has lost its ruler", with 亡き ("lost") in this case specifically referring to something that has passed away (in this case the ruler). Based on this name and various flavor text in the game, it is presumed that the Master Crown drains the life of its victims while they are in possession of it, eventually killing them. It also reflects on Magolor's change of heart — the power-hungry tyrant-to-be has been smothered by his regrets, and the Master Crown has lost its ruler as a result.
On a lighter note, "tree crown" is also a pun: while it describes the Master Crown having literally become a tree, the branches and leaves of a tree are referred to as its crown.
Names in other languages
ōnaki jukan no misutorutin
|Mistilteinn, the Tree Crown Without a Ruler
Partially explained in #Etymology. 王亡き樹冠 may also be interpreted as "tree crown of a nonexistent/deceased ruler". While most translations avoid explicitly invoking any kind of "loss" or "death", the Chinese title directly states that the ruler is "deceased" and the Korean title uses the sense of "loss". Note that the possessive particle の modifies ミストルティン ("Mistilteinn") with this phrase; while this is normally used to indicate possession (i.e. "Mistilteinn of the Tree Crown Without a Ruler"), it can also indicate a title, which most of the translations aside from Korean interpret it as.
Shìqù Wángzhě Shùguān de Mǐsītètīng
|Mistilteinn, Tree Crown of Deceased Rulers
Shìqù Wángzhě Shùguān de Mǐsītètīng
|Mistilteinn, boomkroon zonder meester
|Mistilteinn, tree crown without master
|Mistilteinn, la couronne végétale sans roi
|Mistilteinn, the plant crown without a king
|Mistilteinn: Baumkrone ohne Regent
|Mistilteinn: Tree crown without Regent
|Mistilteinn, tre corone senza sovrano
|Mistilteinn, three crowns without a ruler
The translation appears to have misinterpreted "tree crown" as "three crowns". The correct translation ("la corona arborea senza sovrano") is used in the Master Crown's Italian Special Page.
|왕을 잃은 수관의 미스틸테인
wang-eul ilh-eun sugwan-ui miseutiltein
|Mistilteinn of the Tree Crown Without A Ruler
As with the Japanese title, a more literal translation would be "Mistilteinn of the tree crown that has lost its ruler" with 잃은 very closely matching the sense of "lost" invoked by 亡き in the original Japanese.
|Mistilteinn, uma coroa sem governante
|Mistilteinn, a crown without a ruler
|Mistilteinn, una corona sin gobernante
|Mistilteinn, a crown without a ruler
- Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe Jukebox
- See, for example, this article on the European mistletoe facing extinction due to unmaintained apple orchards (Wayback Machine snapshot).
- See this Oxford University Press blog post (Wayback Machine snapshot), which also suggests the word is borrowed from Old English.
- "The one-eyed wreath grants power but swallows the soul... It devours, stealing any sense of self... Truly, this crown rules all. Free him from this nightmare! Take his hand and save a new friend!" –VS Magolor Soul Special Page from The True Arena (Phase 1) (Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe)
- "What remains of Magolor is a sad shell. He's possessed by the limitless power of the Master Crown, imprisoned by the hatred and obsessions of prior rulers. Now...defeat it and free Magolor's soul!" –VS Magolor Soul Special Page from Extra Mode (Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe)