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The Hero of Time is the title given to the Link who appears in Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and later in Twilight Princess as the Hero's Spirit. Link is bestowed this title upon awakening from his seven-year slumber after retrieving the Master Sword from the Pedestal of Time. By traveling through time to awaken the Six Sages and stop the King of Evil Ganondorf from conquering Hyrule, the Hero of Time's tale becomes a legend that is passed down through generations, proving to be of great relevance to both the Mythology in the Zelda series as well as the timeline in which the games take place.
The Legend of the Hero of Time
In the land of Hyrule, legends speak of the Triforce, the mythical Golden Power said to reside in the Sacred Realm which has the power to grant the wishes of its holder. Ganondorf, the King of the Gerudo tribe, schemes to enter the Sacred Realm to claim the Triforce and thus rule the world. With the unwitting assistance of a young boy named Link and Hyrule's Princess Zelda, Ganondorf is able to enter the Sacred Realm after Link retrieves the Master Sword from the Pedestal of Time. However, because Ganondorf's heart was not in balance, the Triforce separated upon being touched by the King of Evil, leaving him with only the Triforce of Power and transforming the Sacred Realm into a corrupt world of evil. The Triforce of Wisdom was then bestowed upon Princess Zelda and the Triforce of Courage upon Link, respectively. Link was then put into a slumber for seven years until he matured enough to properly handle the Blade of Evil's Bane, the Master Sword. Meanwhile, Ganondorf used the Triforce of Power to take over Hyrule, transforming the land into a world of monsters.
Link eventually awakens as the Hero of Time and, using the Master Sword and the Pedestal of Time, travels through time to seek the Seven Sages, who were said to have the power to bind Ganondorf and return peace to Hyrule. With the assistance of the Seven Sages, the Hero of Time, wielding the Master Sword, battles Ganondorf and weakens him enough to allow the Sages the time they need to bind him and throw him back into the void of the Evil Realm. The King of Evil, with the Triforce of Power still in his hand, threatens to return one day to exterminate the descendants of the Hero of Time and the Sages to make them pay for his imprisonment.
With Hyrule now at peace, Princess Zelda uses her power as a Sage to send the Hero of Time back to his own age in order to regain his lost childhood. Upon his departure, the Triforce of Courage splits apart into eight shards and are scattered across the land to be found again one day by another Hero that would have need of its power. The Master Sword is also left in the Hero's wake, being returned to its pedestal in turn. With this act, the Hero of Time vanishes from this branch of Hyrule's history, leaving only his legend behind.
The Hero's Fate
Before leaving the land of Hyrule, the Hero of Time warns Princess Zelda about Ganondorf's plans and what the future would unfold if the King of Evil was not stopped. The princess entrusts Link with the Ocarina of Time to prevent Ganondorf from entering the Sacred Realm, and the young hero then departs from Hyrule with the ocarina in hand to seek his fairy companion, Navi. In the process, however, he stumbles into a parallel universe known as Termina, which was being threatened to be destroyed by its Moon. With the aid of the Ocarina of Time and the fairy Tatl, Link saves Termina from its imminent downfall and soon after leaves the land.
Despite this, the Hero of Time continued to lament the fact that he was not remembered as a hero after he was returned to his original time upon defeating Ganon. After his death, he was unable to go to the afterlife because of the regrets that kept him tied to the world of the living, feeling regret that he was unable to pass on the lessons of his life to the younger generations. In order to ease his regrets and finally pass on his knowledge, he teaches the seven Hidden Skills to his descendant, the Link of Twilight Princess.
The legend of the Hero of Time becomes of great significance in the development of the Zelda Timeline and the mythology in the Zelda series. His battle against Ganondorf marked the point in which the timeline split into three branches: the Downfall, Child, and Adult Timeline. Princess Zelda's plan with Link to save Hyrule by retrieving the Triforce resulted in Ganondorf obtaining the Triforce of Power, eventually leading to Link's death and thus forming the Downfall Timeline. Should Link succeed in defeating Ganondorf, the princess sending the Hero of Time back to his original time creates two timelines: the Child Timeline and the Adult Timeline. The latter of the two shatters the Triforce of Courage and vanishes the hero in the Adult Timeline, resulting in Hyrule eventually being flooded since there was no hero to fight against Ganon once the Sages' curse broke. In the Child Timeline, the Hero of Time becomes filled with regret by not being remembered as the hero that saved Hyrule from Ganondorf, eventually leading him to linger on as the Hero's Spirit in the Era of Twilight.
Although Hyrule was flooded in the Adult Timeline and the memory of the kingdom vanished, the legend of the Hero of Time transcended through time. In Outset Island, it became a custom to clothe boys in green once they came of age. A statue depicting the Hero of Time is also prominently displayed in the sunken Hyrule Castle, demonstrating how meaningful the legend of the brave boy clothed in green was to the citizens of Hyrule.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Master Sword is a sacred blade which evil ones may never touch.... Only one worthy of the title of "Hero of Time" can pull it from the Pedestal of Time.... However, you were too young to be the Hero of Time.... Therefore, your spirit was sealed here for seven years. And now that you are old enough, the time has come for you to awaken as the Hero of Time!" — Rauru (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "This boy, who traveled through time to save the land, was known as the Hero of Time. The boy's tale was passed down through generations until it became legend..." — Introduction (The Wind Waker)
- ↑ "For it is in that Sacred Realm that one will find the divine relic, the Triforce, which contains the essence of the gods..." — Great Deku Tree (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "The three goddesses hid the Triforce containing the power of the gods somewhere in Hyrule. The power to grant the wish of the one who holds the Triforce in his hands. If someone with a righteous heart makes a wish, it will lead Hyrule to a golden age of prosperity... If someone with an evil mind has his wish granted, the world will be consumed by evil...That is what has been told..." — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "This evil man ceaselessly uses his vile, sorcerous powers in his search for the Sacred Realm that is connected to Hyrule..." — Great Deku Tree (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "What Ganondorf is after must be nothing less than the Triforce of the Sacred Realm. He must have come to Hyrule to obtain it! And, he wants to conquer Hyrule...no, the entire world!" — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "Though you opened the Door of Time in the name of peace... Ganondorf, the Gerudo King of Thieves, used it to enter this forbidden Sacred Realm! He obtained the Triforce from the Temple of Light, and with its power, he became the King of Evil..." — Rauru (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "If the heart of the one who holds the sacred triangle has all three forces in balance, that one will gain the True Force to govern all. But, if that one's heart is not in balance, the Triforce will separate into three parts: Power, Wisdom and Courage. Only one part will remain for the one who touched the Triforce...the part representing the force that one most believes in." — Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "He went on to invade the Sacred Realm... Ganondorf had become the Evil King, and the Sacred Realm became a world of evil." — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "The one who holds the Triforce of Courage is... You, Link! And the other, who holds the Triforce of Wisdom... is the seventh Sage, who is destined to be the leader of them all... It is I, the Princess of Hyrule, Zelda." — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "His evil power radiated from the temples of Hyrule, and in seven short years, it transformed Hyrule into a world of darkness and monsters." — Rauru (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "But one day a man of great evil found the golden power and took it for himself... With its strength at his command, he spread darkness across the kingdom." — Introduction (The Wind Waker)
- ↑ "The power of the Sages remains. When the power of all the Sages is awakened... The Sages' Seals will contain all the evil power in the void of the Realm... I, Rauru, am one of the Sages... And... Your power to fight together with the Sages makes you the Hero of Time! The Hero of Time, chosen by the Master Sword! Keep my spirit with you... And, find the power of the other Sages and add their might to your own!" — Rauru (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "I'm using my power to hold the Evil King! You use your sword and deliver the final blow!" — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "Ancient Creators of Hyrule! Now, open the sealed door and send the Evil Incarnation of Darkness into the void of the Evil Realm!!" — Rauru (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "YOU... CURSE YOU...ZELDA! CURSE YOU...SAGES!! CURSE YOU...LINK! Someday... When this seal is broken.... That is when I will exterminate your descendants!! As long as the Triforce of Power is in my hand...." — Ganondorf (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "Link, give the Ocarina to me... As a Sage, I can return you to your original time with it." — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "When the Hero of Time was called to embark on another journey and left the land of Hyrule, he was separated from the elements that made him a hero. It is said that at that time, the Triforce of Courage was split into eight shards and hidden throughout the land." — King of Red Lions (The Wind Waker)
- ↑ "Link warned Princess Zelda of what the future would bring. Hearing his words, the princess entrusted the Ocarina of Time to Link and instructed him to travel far away in order to prevent Ganondorf from entering the Sacred Realm." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Comics), pg. 110)
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 "Link, the descendant of the Hero of Time: [...] The spirit of Link's ancestor, the Hero of Time, teaches him his secrets. Ever since returning to the Child Era, the swordsman has lamented the fact that he was not remembered as a hero. This is the reason he passes down the proof of his courage and his secret techniques to the Link of this era, addressing him as "son"." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 118)
- ↑ "Although I accepted life as the hero, I could not convey the lessons of that life to those that came after. At last, I have eased my regrets." — Hero's Spirit (Twilight Princess)
- ↑ "We must not let Ganondorf get the Triforce! I will protect the Ocarina of Time with all my power! He shall not have it! You go find the other two Spiritual Stones! Let's get the Triforce before Ganondorf does, and then defeat him!" — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- ↑ "Ganondorf the thief obtained the Triforce of Power and managed to get his hands on Princess Zelda. The Hero of Time, Link, challenged him in a battle that would determine Hyrule's very existence, and lost." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 92)
- ↑ "The people believed that the Hero of Time would again come to save them. ...But the hero did not appear." — Introduction (The Wind Waker)
- ↑ "What became of that kingdom...? None remain who know. The memory of the kingdom vanished, but its legend survived on the wind's breath. On a certain island, it became customary to garb boys in green when they came of age. Clothed in the green of fields, they aspired to find heroic blades and cast down evil. The elders wished only for the youths to know courage like the hero of legend..." — Introduction (The Wind Waker)
- ↑ "Today is a day to celebrate! It is the day that you become the same age as the young hero spoken of in all the legends." — Grandmother (The Wind Waker)