The Monado is a legendary weapon in Xenoblade Chronicles, and a central element of the game's world and story.
Appearance and properties
The Monado appears as a red object of unknown composition that vaguely resembles a single-edged sword. It has veins of blue light running along several edges, including the edge of a large circular hole near the pommel. This large hole contains a piece of invisible multi-layered glass, with each layer able to display a single glowing symbol.
When activated, the Monado's shell above the hole slides open into two pieces to reveal a glowing blade of blue energy. This energy easily cuts though most metals, including Mechon bodies, which cannot otherwise be damaged by weapons less than artillery. It is also capable of donating some of this energy to allies' weapons, allowing them the same Mechon-destroying powers. However, it cannot harm Homs, and simply bounces off them harmlessly.
The Monado seems to have a will of its own. Most people cannot control it, and simply picking it up without care sends them into a frenzy likely to damage all sorts of property nearby. This continues until the Monado is forcibly knocked out of their grasp. A select few can control it well enough to use as a weapon, though doing so takes a toll on their body. Only a single "heir" can use it without trouble.
It is said that the Monado was once used by the Bionis in its legendary duel against the Mechonis. As the Homs-sized sword would be extremely tiny in the titan's hand, it is assumed that it must host a hidden power.
As the Homs appear to be losing the Battle of Sword Valley, Dunban arrives with the Monado in hand, driving back the Mechon and holding the line. With Dickson and Mumkhar at his side, he begins to push forward, but is stalled as the sword's power overwhelms him for a moment and he falls. Mumkhar claims the Monado is what the Mechon are after and runs away, hoping to instead come back for the Monado himself after the battle is over, but is ambushed by Mechon. Dunban gets ahold of himself and charges forward once more, ending the Mechon threat. He survives the battle, but his right arm is badly burned by the sword's ether, and it becomes practically unusable.
One year later, peace is the norm in Colony 9. Shulk has been studying the Monado with some help from Dickson in an attempt to learn more about it - perhaps how to increase the number of symbols to unlock its hidden powers, or discover why it seems that Dunban is the only one who could control it. He sometimes gets strange visions during his research, most prominently after an incident where Reyn foolishly picks it up and destroys several bits of the lab.
Not long after, the colony is attacked by Mechon. With Fiora not present to stop him, Dunban struggles to the lab and takes the Monado so he can defend the colony. He meets Shulk and Reyn after a time and learns Fiora went to the Residential District, so they follow. Along the way, Dunban loses his grip on the Monado, and falls in great pain. Shulk decides to take the Monado himself, and while Dunban thinks this will kill him, it turns out that he seems to be able to use it just fine - in addition to now seeing bits of the future whenever something bad is about to happen. Dunban is confused but resolves to not let it distract from the battle, and continues fighting with a katana in his left hand.
Arriving in the Residential District, Shulk meets the large Mechon later known as Metal Face. He quickly turns out to be a big problem, as for some reason the Monado simply bounces off him, with Shulk's best guess being it's related to the strange red lights that no other Mechon have. Unable to do anything to him, they are quickly swept aside, and only saved because of the arrival of Fiora in a mobile artillery. Metal Face only gets somewhat of a bruised face from the machine's entire armament, and despite Shulk seeing a vision of it happening beforehand, he cannot do anything as Fiora is stabbed and killed. In his rage he manages to get on top of Metal Face and stab him in the damaged eye, though even this is just an annoyance. Metal Face then leaves as the invasion ends.
Shulk and Reyn decide to set out on a mission of revenge, Shulk taking the Monado with him. As the two camp in Tephra Cave, Shulk has a foggy dream about a stranger telling him to find the "True Monado". He then starts getting visions of Reyn being killed by a giant Arachno. Unsure what to do about these visions, he keeps quiet about it. Before long, they end up in the nest of the Arachno Queen, and SHulk sees the vision about to come true. Instinctively, he causes the Monado to show a new symbol and glow yellow, casting a shield around Reyn that saves him. Shulk realizes that the visions aren't set, and he can use the Monado to change the future.
The pair reach Bionis' Leg and discover from refugees that Colony 6 has been destroyed. They team with Sharla to save her foolish kid brother Juju from the Mechon. As they reach Juju and the tentacled Mechon that has him, Shulk forsees Sharla in danger and then sees another new symbol on the Monado. By using it, he allows the trio to swiftly dodge the tentacles' attacks. The Mechon is destroyed but quickly succeeded by another Face Mechon, a bronze one, that is just as immune to the Monado as Metal Face is. It seems like the Face cannot be defeated, but the red lights begin to flicker, and he immediately takes Juju and leaves. The trio pursue him through the Ether Mine under Colony 6 and manage to get him to fall into the ether river below, which renders him vulnerable to the Monado and thus leads to his defeat. Before he goes, he says he's impressed by Shulk beating him without the "true power" of the Monado, but refuses to say any more.
Upon exiting the mine, Metal Face immediately appears. He taunts the group and the newly-arrived Dunban over the Monado being useless against him, but he becomes distracted by a Telethia attack, and Shulk takes his chance - he manages to cut into and melt a spot on Metal Face's arm through sheer anger and force of will. A vision then interrupts him: near a dark tower, something has changed the Monado, and it cuts through Metal Face with ease. The vision distracts him enough for Metal Face to get away, but Shulk then decides it's his new goal: to reach what Dickson says is Prison Island and see if the vision will occur.
The group ascends the Bionis. As they pass through Makna Forest, they find an unconscious Melia, and Shulk goes out on his own to collect the ether crystal necessary to revive her. While doing this he meets Alvis, who seems familiar to him somehow, before he gets attacked by Telethia. Alvis shows Shulk a new symbol on the Monado that can help defeat Telethia, which he succeeds at, but before he can get any straight answers out of Alvis as to how he can use the Monado or why he knows so much about it, Reyn shows up and Alvis vanishes. Melia is rescued, and Shulk helps destroy the Telethia she had been chasing using the Monado's newfound powers.
With Melia as guide to Upper Bionis, the party reaches Alcamoth. The High Entia, distrustful of whoever holds the Monado due to an ancient prophecy that it may cause the destruction of their race, have the group arrested. They are released by Alvis, who happens to be the imperial seer, and he vouches for Shulk's trustworthiness to Emperor Sorean. Shulk later then asks Sorean for permission to enter Prison Island. Sorean, aware via one of Alvis's visions of what is to happen there and unsure whether he should allow it or change it, defers his response. But the Mechon attack, and he decides to proceed to Prison Island himself. Shulk and the others soon follow.
At Prison Island, the party finds that the island's prisoner is the Giant Zanza, who is currently being used by Sorean to power a shield and weapons platform around the island. Zanza tells Shulk that he created the Monado to oppose Mechonis, and he has been waiting for Shulk to arrive. He explains to Shulk that the Monado does not work on Face Mechon because of a restriction he placed on it, and he will remove it, if he is freed. Melia tells Shulk there must be a good reason for Zanza to have been locked away, but Shulk chooses to release him anyway. Zanza is then attacked by the arriving Metal Face, struck by an anti-ether spear that begins to dissolve his body. Metal Face gloats that this was the plan, to kill Zanza before he can power up the Monado, but he is too late - although Zanza dies and his body fades away, the Monado transforms, gaining sharper features and a new symbol that allows it to damage Metal Face with the same ease as any other Mechon. But before he can keep attacking Metal Face, Face Nemesis intervenes, and Shulk cuts it open to reveal that Fiora is its pilot - the Monado could not damage Face Mechon before because they are part Homs. The Mechon then leave, and Shulk's new mission is to retrieve Fiora.
The party proceed towards the Mechonis. Along the way, they discover that Metal Face is Mumkhar, whose only motivation is wanting the Monado for himself, and defeat him once and for all. They then reach Galahad Fortress and encounter Egil. Egil activates a machine called the Apocrypha Generator, which cancels out the Monado's natural ether and renders it inert. He then demands that Shulk hand it over. Shulk, not knowing why Egil wants the Monado if he's really made it useless, refuses. In the ensuing battle the fortress partially collapses, and both the party and Face Nemesis plummet to the Fallen Arm.
Shulk manages to rescue Fiora, who appears to have her mind and memories back. In his efforts to protect her from nearby Mechon, he manages to force the Monado to respond again, though it is more taxing on him than it used to be. The party is slowly reunited, and they begin to journey up the Mechonis to reach Egil. During the climb, the party learns new truths about the history of the world and its inhabitants, such as that the person sharing Fiora's body is Meyneth, goddess of Mechonis. Shulk becomes worried about what he hears about Zanza - most importantly, that Zanza was the one who turned the titans against each other in the first place, with the High Entia sealing him away because of it - and starts to doubt that he's doing the right thing by using his Monado.
The party reaches Egil, and they fight. During the fight, Egil refers to Shulk as Zanza, not merely in the sense of using his blade. Meyneth reveals herself to Egil in an attempt to make him stop being the only person who still wants revenge against the Bionis, but he simply adds her to his list of betrayals, and leaves to insert himself into the core of Mechonis. The party is forced to escape, later using Junks to return to the titan. As they approach the Apocrypha Generator, Shulk is blasted by an energy much like what Dunban had to deal with while he was using the Monado, which disturbs everyone due to his control being flawless up to this point. The group successfully destroys the generator, and all the effort Shulk had been putting in to defy it manifests itself into a new symbol and a new power.
Then, Egil is fought once more. The party defeat him, and Shulk is poised to kill him, with Zanza's voice echoing in his head to do so. He thinks about it, but he then thinks of "your Monado", and other memories cause him to realize that he doesn't want to kill Egil - a decision that clearly takes a lot of effort to act on, as the Monado only stops just short of Egil's head. This convinces Egil that Shulk is capable of resisting Zanza, and explains: Long ago, his friend Arglas picked up the Monado, and he became Zanza. Zanza inhabits beings of Bionis to perpetuate his existence, and his consciousness is intrinsically linked to the Monado. Shulk chooses not to dwell on the details, but does recognize that they've come to an understanding, and they make peace.
Dickson then shoots Shulk, allowing Zanza to arise into a body of his own. He takes the Monado and transforms it into a many-spindled form, while also willing the Bionis' Monado to reappear. Egil uses Mechonis to try and fight back, but he is easily overpowered. Meyneth then fights Zanza using her own Monado, but she too ultimately fails, and Zanza takes both Monados. In the events afterward, the party escapes Mechonis before it is destroyed.
While Miqol makes Shulk a Replica Monado, and both Shulk and Fiora retain some leftover power of the Monados they possessed, the Monados of Zanza and Meyneth are not seen again until the final battle against Zanza, who wields both of them during the fight. Partway through the battle, Shulk creates his own Monado: a translucent blue blade of unique design. Zanza cannot believe that a mortal has caused a third Monado to appear, and ends up being defeated and destroyed by it. Shulk then gives it up so a new world can be created without gods.
The Monado is a divine instrument that affords its user absolute control over ether, and thus knowledge of the future and the nature of the universe. These powers are vast but not infinite, and require a certain force of will to utilize. The Monado's physical form is also based on the will of its user.
As a weapon
- Main article: Monado (weapon)
The Monado is Shulk's weapon for a large part of the game. It has several mechanically-distinct variants for certain situations, such as the times Dunban is holding it.
For a complete list of such weapons, see List of Monados (Shulk).
As a Smash Bros. symbol
- Main article: Series symbol on SmashWiki
A stylistic depiction of the Monado is used to represent the Xenoblade universe in the Super Smash Bros. series, including content from Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It is angled and cropped very similarly to its appearance in the loading screen of Xenoblade Chronicles.