In the first room on the right side of the dungeon, there is a cutscene that plays when you land on a lilypad from above. If you manage not to land on a lilypad, you can skip this cutscene. You can avoid the lilypads by sidehopping off the upper platform at the correct angle, or by jumping off the ledge at the right angle and then doing a jumpslash in midair.
Similar to Moldarach, Stalmaster functions on a one hit = one damage principle; in particular, spin attacks and Skyward Strikes don't deal more damage. Stalmaster has two phases, but the general strategy is the same each time.
Perform the following attacks:
Here, the first hit of the spin attack will land but the second hit will be blocked, so this deals 5 damage.
Here, the spin attack is completely blocked, but both slashes and all three stabs land, so this also deals 5 damage.
In all cases, the stabs are optional, but greatly speed up the fight. If you are inconsistent getting three stabs, you could try two or even one stab. But it will take more rounds to defeat Stalmaster.
Starting with a spin attack when he is stunned is not optimal; it takes one extra slash to do the same amount of damage. Doing normal slashes when he is blocking results in a slow recoil animation, so spin attacking into the guard is faster.
The counter attack from Stalmaster has the same glitch as Power Crouch Stabbing in Ocarina of Time. It initially does only 1/2 heart of damage, which is the minimum amount in Hero Mode. However, if the Stalmaster does a different attack, the counter attack will deal the same amount of damage as that attack (either 2 or 4 hearts).
If the strategy is done correctly, Stalmaster should never do a different attack, so getting hit by a counter-attack will only deal 1/2 heart of damage. Therefore it is safe to do this strat on 2 hearts.
Stalmaster takes 10 hits in its first phase, and can therefore be finished in two rounds:
This will trigger his second phase.
Stalmaster takes 18 hits in his second phase. When he has 4 hits left, his helmet flies off, and the time his counter-attack takes is randomized, complicating the fight. There are two strats for this phase, a fast strat and a more consistent strat.
While this is the fastest strat, it requires getting good RNG for a long charge time on the Stalmaster's final counter-attack. If he counter-attacks quickly, you will get hit before you get all the stabs in.
This strat stops a round when Stalmaster has 5 hits left, thereby making the final three stabs easier to get in before his last counter attack. This strat is only a few seconds slower, so is recommended for full runs.
If you jump off the ledge then press and hold ZL, you'll briefly target the whip target, and moving forward while still holding ZL will allow you to target the lever from the ground. This saves having to swing to the lever. You can also target the lever from the ground by looking up at it in first person, canceling first person, and then holding ZL quickly.
Using the Entrance Animation Transfer glitch, it's possible to spawn out of bounds in the main room of Ancient Cistern and navigate to the loading zone of the white rope leading down to the dungeon's basement. To perform this specific EAT you must do the following:
At this point, Link will spawn in the water under the floor near where you autosaved. If Link spawns in bounds, then your position when autosaving was probably too far away from the wall. From here navigate out of bounds as shown in the video below and reach the loading zone to the basement. Since the statue is not down at this point, you can freely pick up the Blessed Idol and get out before the statue comes down.
This method has two parts: getting underneath the statue, then a deathwarp in the right position to keep the Blessed Idol without having to raise the statue first.
Begin by luring a zombie bokoblin over to the small acute corner on the east side of the statue. Spin attack it so that you can perform a final blow on it, and position Link so that the ledge around the statue juts out between Link and the bokoblin. Then perform a final blow attack to send Link up onto the collision surrounding the statue. For this clip to work Link needs to go into the collision from the side not from below. So if Link goes under the collision but doesn't clip up, then you need to stand farther back before doing the final blow. Once Link
To escape from underneath the statue with the Blessed Idol, you can deathwarp. However, the game is programmed so that if you die in that area, you do not keep the Idol. This is in case you fail to escape as the statue descends when playing the game casually.
However, there is one spot that is outside this programmed area. Deathwarping in this spot will allow you to keep the Blessed Idol after respawning, and thus skip having to raise the statue before getting the Idol.
First bait two attacks from Koloktos's left and right axe arms; use the Whip to yank those arms off. Now try to bait an attack from both of its middle arms; the best way to do this is to stay a medium distance away from Koloktos. If you're too close, it will do a double axe slice attack. If you're too far, it will throw those axes like boomerangs to try to hit you. What you do next will depend on whether or not you have the Bomb Bag. During phase 1, Koloktos has 80 health, and will try to repair himself when he hits 40 health or below.
Once you've baited the correct attack, hit Koloktos with the whip as it is attacking. This manipulates its AI to do the correct attack next. When his arms land, yank them off with the Whip, then immediately run forward and place two bombs next to Koloktos's heart. Do a spin attack to explode both bombs and hit Koloktos, and you'll deal the requisite 80 damage all at once and skip the second half of the first phase.
Once you've baited the correct attack, pull both of those arms off, then perform three spin attacks. This will deal 36 damage, just under the 40 that would cause Koloktos to reset his first phase. Then back off while charging a Skyward Strike. Once Koloktos winds up to do his boomerang attack, quickly hit him with your charged Skyward Strike (16 damage), charge another and hit him again (16 damage), then perform one last spin attack (12 damage). You will have dealt 80 damage in total and this will finish the first phase before Koloktos can reset; done optimally, this is 15 seconds slower than the bomb strat.
Koloktos' second phase has 28 healths, and your sword power is nerfed to only deal 1 damage per hit. The huge swords are made to deal 4 damage. However on hero mode your skyward strike will still cause its 16 damage, which allows for beating this phase in a single cycle.
Koloktos has three attacks during its second phase; however, you'll only ever see the first one, the sword attack. You can dodge by backing far enough away, or if your timing is good you can use the invincibility frames from a backflip to avoid the damage. Use the Whip to pull one of Koloktos' arms off, pick up its sword, and take out its legs with a horizontal slash. Use the sword to break the grating around Koloktos's heart, then back up and drop the sword. Two Skyward Strikes will finish Koloktos's second phase in one round.
When you reach the rotating drum of vines, climb up the vines and land on the first platform. You can then jump towards the further lower platform and do a jumpslash to reach it, skipping the second half of the vine drum and saving a little time.
It's possible to sidehop from the ledge and catch one of the later vine sections, saving around a second of climbing.
This strat is fairly precise and thus somewhat risky; if you miss the grab you'll lose time. This section is currently skipped in every speedrun, and thus this strat is not used.
It is possible to run around the wall while the floor still is rotating if you sprint and then jump off of it when you reach the other side of the wall.