The Hero of Time Project is an attempt to re-examine the narrative vacuum in the Legend of Zelda series between Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, and to utilize the concept of fan fiction to logically fill in some of the gaps using information presented to us in existing lore.
Welcome back, our legend-loving readers and fan-fiction fanatics, to the Hero of Time Project, where we, the Know-It-All Brothers, are happy to share Chapter Two of our video-game narrative filling in the gap between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess! In this chapter, we’re introducing some major mainstay characters, including the namesake of the series, so get ready to open up those Bomber Notebooks and start taking notes!
Following the narrative, you can enjoy an in-depth analysis of this particular chapter. The analysis reflects previous articles in this series, which in turn represent some of the mainstay goals of the Hero of Time Project: We’ll examine the ways in which this chapter enriches our understanding of the Zelda franchise, how it seeks to bridge the gap between Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, how it seeks to mature the series alongside the player, and how we combine old and familiar content with new, original content without becoming a God-awful, full-blown wish fulfillment diatribe whose sole purpose is to provide the author with a sense of self-assurance and a whole lot of money.
With all of that said and done, please enjoy Chapter Two of Hero of Time.
Chapter 2: Reunions
Link and Navi are headed out the gates of Lon Lon Town, leaving behind the sound of hammers and saws. The villagers are beginning to repair the town. As Link and Navi step onto the road, Navi’s familiar “fairy jingle” stops Link for a moment.
“Oh no! It’s going to rain,” she says. The sky is turning gray with only a few patches of blue, and a soft drizzle begins to fill Hyrule Field with faint clouds of mist. “We could warp to the Temple of Time!”
Link pulls out his ocarina, the Ocarina of Time, and brings the blue instrument to his lips. A moment passes, but Link doesn’t play a single note…
“…Link?” Navi asks, concerned. Link lowers the ocarina. He smiles and shrugs, trying to play off the obvious, but his rapidly reddening face tells all…
He has forgotten how to play the Prelude of Light.
“You forgot?!” Navi exclaims in total disbelief as Link begins to chuckle a little. Link looks thoroughly embarrassed, and he begins to laugh harder as the irony and stupidity of his situation become more and more apparent. “I guess it has been almost 70 years since you last played that song!”
Link’s laughter dies down, and he returns the ocarina to his pack. Navi quickly flutters down to his hood and hides in one of the folds near his collar.
“Great! Now we have to walk… Well okay, you have to walk—I’m going to stay dry!”
With that, Link sets off on foot across Hyrule Field. Even with the fog and rain rolling over the soft hills and fields, Link knows the way to Castle Town.
When Link arrives at Castle Town, the gate to the city is shut, and the drawbridge is pulled up. In the time it took Link to walk from the nearby village of Lon Lon Town, the fog became nearly impenetrable, closing in on all except the road they had used to traverse the distance. Link stands in front of the gate, surrounded by the misty rain, and waves to the guards at the top of the wall.
“Who goes there?!” One of them shouts down.
Link removes his hood, revealing his weathered face and shaggy gray hair. The guards see him and note his shield and armored clothes. But the gate remains shut:
“Castle Town is closed, traveler! There’s been an attack!”
Navi looks at Link and then floats above him to address the guards. “We know! We were th—”
“Hold a moment!” Interrupts a second guard, who can be seen running up to the first. They exchange a few quick words before the first shouts, “Open the gate!”
Navi floats back down to Link, “Oh… Well, that was easy.” Link appears equally perplexed, and shrugs. This is typically the point in the story when Link now has to sneak into the city. In fact, Link had already been preparing a plan to sneak in on the way here. Being allowed into the city right off the bat is… unusual.
The drawbridge lowers, shaking the walls and ground as it slowly lumbers downward. Behind it, the steel portcullis of the city is also being drawn up, revealing a host of troops behind it. The soldiers begin marching out of the gate before it’s fully drawn up and before the bridge is fully let down. At the head of the company is a man in ornate silver-and-red armor, with a Hylian crest carved into the chest, and a short red velvet cape. His undershirt is also red, with velvet accents, and a tall collar that pokes out from under the cuirass.
As the officer and his men march out, Link steps to the side, allowing the army to pass. The young man’s head turns as he is about to pass Link, and, with a swift and sudden hand motion, he stops his troops.
Link looks directly at the officer, who rapidly approaches him. Link recognizes the young man as Prince Renauld, second-born son of the queen.
“Prince Renauld! My lord!” Navi says, surprised to see the young prince. Link has not seen the young prince for some time. In fact, Renauld was a younger, fresher-faced man the last time they met. Now, the person standing in front of Link is a grim-faced warrior with messy black hair and a goatee. Renauld extends a hand and jumps straight to the point.
“I have no time for pleasantries: there’s been an attack on Lon Lon Town. Link, do you know anything about it? How many of them are there?”
Renauld’s pragmatism is one of his most apparent characteristics, along with his stoic demeanor. Link (and the player, for that matter) isn’t entirely sure what the young prince thinks of him, nor whether there is any respect or admiration between them. Link quickly reaches into his pack and pulls out the piece of Begotra’s armor to show Renauld.
“There are none left now!” Navi chimes in.
Prince Renauld appears very surprised, taking the cracked pauldron from Link to inspect it before handing it back.
“Truly? Well, that’s… amazing news. You should take it to the Queen yourself—I must continue on and shore up the defenses of the village, should another attack come.”
Renauld turns and begins to walk back to the head of his company, and Link turns to head into Castle Town. Before either one can get too far from the other, Renauld turns and says, “Link! Welcome home.” Then, he and his company of troops march off towards Lon Lon Town.
Link and Navi enter Castle Town, and the gate of the city shuts behind them. Castle Town is, aside from the guards on alert, the same bustling center of trade and life that it always was. As Link and Navi enter the market square at the center of town, crowds of well-dressed people push by, and sweaty merchants shout their prices into the air. A young couple skips through the center of the market, past a large hairy man selling mystery-meat kebabs. A scary-looking old woman and her younger partner-in-crime sit at a fortune-tellers’ booth, reading palms and divinating from a dark crystal ball. The old bazaar and potion shops have new owners, but the shops themselves look mostly the same.
Back in Lon Lon Town, Link was able to fill his wallet by finding rupees and selling his loot. Now, he takes the opportunity to spend those rupees on some new equipment. He walks to one of the side streets that leads around the corner and away from the market square. There’s a blacksmith’s shop at the end of an alley.
The blacksmith’s shop has an anvil outside and a workshop under a covered portico with a wide doorway leading into the blacksmith’s inner shop. Outside, in the work area, a young smith hammers away on a nearby anvil. Inside the open door to the inner shop, a young woman stands at the counter surrounded by a great host of swords, shields, axes, hammers, and spears. The shop itself appears very clean, despite being in an older building. Each weapon is displayed with care, with a brass plaque beneath displaying the name and price of each one.
The shopkeep calls out to Link: “Welcome to our shop! Feel free to browse; we’re always updating our stock!” Link nods and pokes through the available equipment. The player has a few options to choose from: at this point in the game, the blacksmith can currently only sell three different swords to Link.
The swords are divided by size and purpose: Link can purchase an average-sized, one-handed Short Sword much like the sword he just lost; a smaller, single-edged Falchion that swings faster but does slightly less damage; or, Link can forego his shield in favor of using a Longsword that occupies both hands.
The player is also presented with three new options for a shield. The first shield Link can buy is the Duelist’s Buckler: a small, long buckler that covers Link’s elbow, forearm, and wrist, with a series of spikes at the wrist to give Link an improved shield-bash ability. Link’s second option is a massive Tower Shield that Link can plant onto the ground, allowing him to block all incoming damage from the front so long as he doesn’t move. Lastly, Link can replace his wooden Round Shield with a new metal Round Shield that can be thrown as an impromptu ranged attack, similar to a frisbee.
On this occasion, Link decides to go light and deadly: he buys the Falchion and the Duelist’s Buckler.
The next place Link visits is the old potion shop in the market square. There is no line or crowd around the potion shop; in fact, many people are avoiding it as Link walks in. He is immediately exposed to a cacophony of smells and sights as he beholds the messiest shop he’s ever seen. There are bottles, vials, books, and… puddles… everywhere.
A creature in a black robe appears at the counter.
“Welcommmmme to my ssssshhop… Issssss this your ffffffirst time?”
Link nods, his eyes wide and locked onto the place where a face should have been, instead finding only a dark void underneath a hood.
“Excccccccellent… As a first timmmme customer: you get a free ssssssssample of the goods!”
From underneath the robe, a sinewy hand reaches out and offers Link a small round bottle of red liquid. Link accepts, recognizing the liquid as a health potion.
“Should you require a refill, plllllleassssse returnnnnnn, the bottle isssss yourssss to keeep. And feel freeeeee to browsssssse,” says the potion shop creature, before disappearing into the back of the shop again. You got a new bottle! While there are several other potions on display, Link is a little too creeped out to consider purchasing any right now. He immediately turns and walks out, a bit more scarred than when he came in.
Once Link is finished with the market, he equips his newly-bought items and heads for Hyrule Castle. Of course, the player isn’t obligated to go straight to the castle; they could make a detour. After all, 70 years have passed since the Link was last in this town, so the player might be curious about what has and hasn’t changed in all those years. If Link were to go straight to the castle, he would find Queen Zelda on her throne and proceed to immediately update her on the attack on Lon Lon Town. But, at this moment, the player instead decides to go see the Temple of Time, wondering if the Master Sword might still be sitting in its pedestal.
On the stone brick street that leads towards the castle, Link takes a right turn, heading to the pathway leading up a small hill to the Temple of Time. The temple itself has fared well in the last several decades: it appears nearly untouched by the ages. As Link walks through the door, the voices that once echoed through the cathedral are now gone, though the cathedral itself still echoes as Link’s boots click and thud across the marble floor.
Ahead of Link, the door to the inner sanctum is open, although the Spiritual Stones Link had originally used to open the door are gone, reclaimed by the current leaders of each tribe in Hyrule. Link walks into the inner sanctum where the Master Sword is kept. The Master Sword appears significantly more affected by time, the color of its hilt faded and the blade rusted into the stone pedestal beneath it. Link had never visited this room in the many years he’d spent adventuring. Perhaps the sword’s power had begun to wane without his presence. It’s a sad sight to see, at which even Navi comments,
“Oh my… It looks as old as you!”
Link shoots her a dirty look, and a smile slowly crosses his lips. He chuckles and rests his hand on the ancient hilt, taking in the moment. Link’s wry smile eventually turns to sadness, and he stands reflecting on events that were, for both him and the player, a lifetime ago.
Of course, for Link and the player, the world around them does not always stop and wait for moments like these. Footsteps echo in the sanctuary behind them, at first distant, but then gradually getting louder as they approach the inner sanctum of the temple.
“Link…” comes a soft, sweet voice.
Like a moment from a fairy tale, the kind where a light would come shining through the doorway, Link turns and sees Zelda, the beautiful and gilded queen of the realm. She appears to him in a royal purple dress, accented with gold all throughout its lining. She is also wearing gold earrings—the same gold earrings she wore so long ago—and a thin, gold circlet bearing the image of the Triforce that serves as her crown. Zelda has aged quite gracefully: Her hair has grayed, and she is perhaps a little thinner than she used to be. But, her beauty and poise have not been diminished by time. She remains Zelda, now queen of all Hyrule.
Link’s smile returns, and he turns fully to greet her. Likewise, Zelda’s smile is a warm, extremely welcome image that instantly melts the years away from both of their faces. The two of them hug, blushing like teenagers meeting up in the middle of the night.
Zelda steps back, and then to the side. Directly behind Zelda are two others who have accompanied her to the temple. The first is a woman in her late thirties who looks very much like Zelda, with fading blonde hair and a light blue dress with white and gold accents. She smiles warmly and embraces Link.
“Marigold!” Navi exclaims. Princess Marigold is Zelda’s firstborn child and heir to the Hylian throne. Marigold possesses her mother’s grace and poise, though seeing Link brings out a hint of vulnerability in her—she hugs Link tightly, her face flustered as though she were holding back tears of joy.
The next person to hug Link had already wrapped herself around Link’s leg, her arms wrapped no higher than his knee. Link looks down and places his hand on the golden head of Princess Zelda V, daughter to Marigold and granddaughter of Queen Zelda—who happens to be the fourth of her line. Zelda V looks up, with her curly hair ( a somewhat unladylike mess), her freckled face, and her wide, toothy smile. The last time Link had seen her, she had been an infant; seeing her now, he can only smile widely. She wears her mischief on her green velvet sleeves, and Link could not be prouder.
Link is home.
After a moment, Marigold steps back from hugging him to give him room, and Link picks up Zelda V, hoisting her up and supporting her with his arm and hip, allowing her to turn and face Zelda and Marigold. The queen and princess quickly begin to ask about the attack.
“Link, we heard there was an attack on Lon Lon Town. Did you see anything on your way in?” Zelda asks.
“We were there, your highness!” Navi exclaims, “Link defeated a mighty Bokoblin chief and saved the whole town!”
Link appears at least a little proud of his accomplishment, placing his free hand on his hip in a relaxed-but-still-obvious hero pose. Zelda V mirrors his pose, although much more robustly, smiling widely and wildly. Zelda chuckles and shakes her head, “I should have known. Perhaps we should recall the troops and simply post you there instead.”
“No doubt we’d have to send the guards on many fantastic adventures in his stead,” responds Princess Marigold, matching her mother’s dry humor.
“Indeed. Link,” continues Zelda, her tone becoming more serious, “this attack on Lon Lon Town was not the first to occur—though your timing is still quite fortuitous. Come with us; we have much to discuss.”
The group departs for the castle, leaving the quiet halls of the temple behind. As Link exits, he looks over his shoulder towards the door to the inner sanctum, seeing only the Master Sword in its pedestal, bathed in light from above.
They enter the castle, and the queen guides Link through the many grand halls of her labyrinthian home. Queen Zelda and company find their way to a large, conference-style room in the white brick confines of Hyrule Castle. A large table with many articles of paper, scrolls, and a map of Hyrule sits in the center of the room. While a servant appears to escort Zelda V out of the room, Link, Marigold, and Zelda IV take their places around the massive table. Zelda points towards Death Mountain on the map, where a marker with the Goron emblem rests.
Zelda explains, “The Gorons have also been attacked recently, though they managed to drive the enemy out of Goron City. A legion of monsters—Bokoblins, Moblins, and Lizalfos—have captured a mine near the summit of the mountain. Without it, the Gorons will starve or be forced to cut new mines in potentially dangerous regions of the mountain.”
She appears deeply concerned—perhaps for the Gorons, and perhaps for Link. Although, this does not stop her from continuing her briefing. Over both of their lifetimes, Zelda has sent Link on many missions, with varying degrees of danger—though this has never made sending him into danger any easier.
“I ask that you go to Goron City and assist in retaking their mine. While you are there, see about discovering who is behind these attacks, and why they’re attacking now. Anything you can tell me will be helpful. We can’t keep having these inexplicable attacks. Every single one that occurs devastates our kingdom!”
“The attack on Goron City is not the only news,” Marigold responds, continuing where the queen left off, “we’ve been receiving some strange messages from Zora’s Domain: The Zora have called some sort of ‘Grand Council,’ pulling together a number of leaders from their various tribes. We think they’re trying to prevent some sort of civil war. I plan to attend the Grand Council as a representative of Hyrule. I would feel more comfortable if you could also attend. Something is happening there that could spell trouble for the rest of us… I just don’t have the whole picture yet…”
Link continues to carefully inspect the map on the table, noting the summit of Death Mountain and the caves at the source of the Zora River.
“Seems we have our work cut out for us!” Navi says.
“Indeed you do,” replies Queen Zelda, “and to aid in your journey, I have something to show you. Follow me.”
The queen exits the room. Link and Marigold follow her down through the castle to the courtyard within the castle walls. There, Princess Zelda V is running wild through the gardens and the stable, chased by a middle-aged handmaiden who is clearly distressed by the young princess.
In one of the many corners formed by the castle walls is a rustic-looking wooden house, built resting against the outer wall. The front doors are wide open, revealing several chests and worktables inside.
“I don’t know why I had never thought of this before: We had this house commissioned for you last year—in case you returned again… I hoped that you would return again, and perhaps you’d… Stay with us for a change… I’d ask you to stay in the castle, but I know luxury has never been comfortable for you. And besides…” Zelda turns and gives Link a bit of side-eye, “I had to renovate the last room you were in.”
Link smiles sheepishly, while Zelda continues to explain the house to him. “This house should have enough room for you to rest in, and to store your weapons and armor should you need to. There are also a few display cases in the bedroom above. I don’t know what you’ll put in those cases, but I imagine you’re amassing another collection of strange and rare curiosities?”
Link looks a little shocked for a moment, considering whether or not he is addicted to collecting things. Navi turns to face him.
“They’re right, you know. You are a bit of a hoarder.”
“That’s what I thought,” says Zelda with a wry smile. “You don’t have to stay here… But I would feel much better if you did. You could at least visit; you’re very welcome to walk the gardens and explore the castle.”
As Link looks around the inside of the castle courtyard, he considers whether or not he will stay there. In the past, he had always been on the road, and he often distanced himself from comfort, luxury, and the potentially scandalous nature of living in Zelda’s castle. Suddenly, Marigold stops him,
“There is one more thing; wait here!” she says. Marigold runs into the house, up the stairs, and into Link’s bedroom. A moment later, she reappears with a long, wooden case, and a folded-up easel that appears to be very old, with gray, weathered wood, and somewhat rusty hinges.
“You left these behind the last time you visited!” Marigold finishes. Link steps forward, taking the case from Marigold. He opens it to reveal a myriad of painting supplies, several brushes of varying width, a roll of canvas, and several jars of paint. Over the years, Link has taken up a number of hobbies in addition to his usual forays into musical instruments. Now, he paints the places he visits, using the time to unwind. When the player is given control of Link again, a visual marker appears on the shore of a small pond situated at the center of the castle garden, beckoning the player towards it.
Link walks over to the spot and sets up his easel, situated so that he faces the castle itself, the garden, the pond, and the tree all at once. Princess Marigold quietly makes her way to Link and sits behind him, watching as he begins to add the first few strokes to the canvas. With his audience in attendance, we watch Link paint for a few moments. At one point, Princess Zelda V runs through his view, bounding through the hedges and bushes. Link adds her into the painting, a tiny she-devil in pink.
When Link is finished, the player is given a view of the painting next to the scene it inspired. The pause menu opens up, revealing that the player now has a map of Castle Town and Hyrule Castle as a result. Though the painting is not a map in itself, it is more or less representative of Link becoming familiar with his surroundings, hence the additions to his map over time.
By the time Link has finished painting, the sun has begun to set behind the castle walls. The sky is orange and purple, emphasizing the black outlines of the hills and mountains to the west. Link presents his painting to Marigold, who smiles and accepts it.
From here, the player is once again given control over Link and the freedom to walk the castle walls, even to walk back into Castle Town—although the gates of the city remain shut. (While the threat of an attack remains, the gates are also shut to keep the player within the city, so that the story can play out to its conclusion here.) Queen Zelda can be found in the castle garden near Link’s house, reading to her sleepy granddaughter.
Link approaches Zelda, and when he does, Marigold also appears, seeing that her daughter is rapidly falling asleep. Marigold picks up Zelda V and beckons Link to follow the two of them to little Zelda’s room—though Marigold raises a finger to her lips, warning Link not to wake her child.
They walk quietly into the castle, and then up a flight of stairs until they reach a room adorned in colorful curtains and clean white walls. A small rocking horse sits next to a tiny wooden sword, and behind them, little dolls sit neglected. Marigold places Zelda V in her tiny bed, and Link sits at its foot.
“Link?” Zelda V asks, “Can you play me a lullaby? Otherwise, I’ll never get to sleep!”
Marigold smiles, shaking her head. “No, sweetie. I’m sure Link is very tired, and—” Link holds up his hand to stop her, a gentle smile spread across his face. He nods at young Zelda, then reaches into his pack and removes his ocarina.
Zelda giggles excitedly, pulling the covers up to her face. Marigold and Zelda exchange glances, then turn to watch Link as he plays a song he could never possibly forget: Zelda’s Lullaby.
Very quickly, the little princess falls asleep—and when Link and Marigold feel that it is safe, Link quietly stops playing, and the two of them exit, leaving Zelda V to sleep.
Once outside, Marigold stops for a moment, “Oh thank you, I can’t get her to sleep most nights… She just has so much energy, always venturing out and getting into trouble.”
Link chuckles and places his hand on her shoulder, and the two of them continue to walk through the castle halls.
“Although music is my usual solution for putting her to bed… as I became more involved in politics—and became advisor to the queen—I started to neglect my musical studies. Many of my hobbies are like that: neglected, and the lesser for it when I finally do have time for them.” Marigold was beginning to ramble.
“I don’t have the natural talent to just pick music back up out of the blue. People say I’m so much like Mother, but I don’t see so much of her in me.”
Marigold stops and yawns, “It’s been a long day. I should get to bed. Goodnight, Link.”
With that, Marigold turns and walks away, going back up the stairs and to her room. Should the player follow her, she locks her door once she reaches her room.
The only thing remaining for Link to do is to return to his new makeshift house and sleep until morning… Or is it?
Here is another place in which the player has an unspoken choice. Link could go back to his new house and sleep there—but a more curious player might have Link wander the castle, discovering among the higher floors a door adorned and wreathed in gold, which, when approached, displays a very simple prompt: “Knock.”
Link knocks, and a moment later, the door opens. Queen Zelda appears, and, as though she were expecting Link to come, she moves with no need for pleasantry or pretense, placing her hand on Link’s cheek. Neither of them speaks, and Link brings his hand up to hers, gently grabbing it while still allowing her to caress his face.
“I’ve missed you,” she says.
Link’s face, with all of its hardness and scars, softens into an enamored glow, his bushy eyebrows relaxing and slumping down, completing a sweet, sad smile. After a moment or two, the queen slow pulls her hand away. Coyly she says, “Goodnight…”
Link steps back out of the threshold of her door, and it closes. Attempting to knock again gives the player a new message:
“The Queen is asleep, best not to disturb her…”
With that, the only thing left for Link to do is to retreat to his new home, and sleep.
In the morning, Queen Zelda, Marigold, and Zelda V walk Link to the gates of the castle. The morning sun is hidden behind ragged clouds, casting a scattered golden light across Hyrule. Link walks to the threshold of the portcullis, hoisting his shield onto his back. He then turns and faces Queen Zelda, who looks up at him with worried eyes.
“Be safe, old man… I mean it. You aren’t the same young man I once knew,” Zelda chides Link. He responds with a smile and a playful look of doubt, almost as if to say, Are you so sure? Zelda shakes her head and smiles in return.
“I received word this morning that the prince has secured Lon Lon Town and moved on to defend Kakariko Village,” Zelda adds. “Go to Death Mountain first, you should meet him there and assist in the defense efforts.”
Marigold continues where the queen left off: “I ride for the Zora River—when you are next available, I would appreciate assistance there as well.”
“And lastly,” says Queen Zelda, “take this.”
Queen Zelda hands Link a gold, rectangular token with the crest of the royal family stamped on it.
“The heights and depths of the mountain are dangerous, and you will need protection from the heat… There’s a tailor in Lon Lon Town who can provide adequate equipment. Give her this, and she will make you something to help deal with the heat. She’s extremely skilled, despite being extremely… eccentric as well.”
With the queen’s blessing, Link makes his way back through town, where he has the option to revisit any shops he might have missed out on before. He eventually makes his way to the gates of the city and back out onto the road, towards Death Mountain.
Thank you so much for reading Chapter Two of Hero of Time! We hope you enjoyed it.
Now, we’ll begin analyzing some of the key themes exhibited by this chapter, and breaking down different elements from the above narrative into some of the categorical questions we’ve asked in some of our series’ previous articles:
- How does this chapter enrich our understanding of the Zelda series as a whole?
- How does this chapter bridge the gap between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess?
- How does this chapter show Link’s maturation and the maturation of the series and its fanbase?
- How does this chapter combine “old” and “new”?
How does this chapter enrich our understanding of the Zelda series?
Chapter Two of the narrative is primarily the set-up of the story. We’re re-introduced to some very important characters, and we meet some new characters. We also re-visit both Castle Town and Hyrule Castle, but we get to see new sides of both places. All of this serves to add “new” to the “old,” and also serves to enrich the world of Hyrule within Hero of Time by expanding on subjects from previous titles.
In Chapter Two, we show how Castle Town has changed—or, more accurately, how it hasn’t changed—since Ocarina of Time. The player has a chance to explore some of the shops, get a feel for the culture, and, if they’re curious, visit the Temple of Time, where they can meet Zelda (now known as Zelda IV) and some other key members of the royal family. We chose “Zelda IV” because the Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time is not only the fourth Zelda to appear in the series itself up to that point, but she is also the fourth Zelda chronologically according to the official Zelda Timeline.
This chapter also helps us to understand some things about the way the royal families work in Hyrule. It’s no secret that the royal bloodline is responsible for ensuring that the Triforce of Wisdom is passed down from one iteration of Zelda to the next. In this chapter, we discover that the Princess Zelda we knew from Ocarina of Time is actually Zelda IV, which tells the player that the Hylian royal family is much bigger than they’ve seen in this series of Legend of Zelda games. And, in terms of the current royal family, it seems that Zelda has had some children of her own.
Zelda has two children, and one grandchild: Renauld and Marigold, and Zelda V, respectively. We see Renauld as the head of the Hylian royal guard, acting as a symbol of power. We also see Marigold operating as the queen’s royal advisor, a symbol of wisdom. And finally, we see the young Zelda V, acting out and enjoying things that a child enjoys, appearing blissfully unaware of the trouble that the world is about to face—an unknowing symbol of courage. These characters are meant to embody some of the most important facets of the world of Legend of Zelda, and to personify those three trademark characteristics: Power, Wisdom, and Courage.
Along with Zelda having children, she’s also become Queen of Hyrule, which is a powerful statement of change for her (having hitherto been primarily a damsel-in-distress character, with the exception of when she acts as Sheik in Ocarina). Now we see her revered by her subjects, but we also see that, despite her rise to power, she remains incorrupt. She’s still, by and large, the same level-headed girl whom Link knew in his childhood, with the same brave and powerful spirit that he saw in Sheik as an adult. That is the power of the Triforce of Wisdom: great knowledge, and righteous action.
How does this chapter bridge the gap between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess?
In Chapter Two of the narrative, we’ve left plenty of clues, both direct and indirect, about events that occur in the century-long gap between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.
We see Castle Town as a livelier location, with more people and more shops than there were in Ocarina. This is to show the growth and success of the Hyrule Kingdom, and to pave the way for the massive expansion we see in Twilight Princess’ Castle Town.The leap from Ocarina’s several shops and three alleyways into Twilight Princess’ sprawling city is tough to cover, but we’ve tried hard to find a middle ground. We’ve expanded the inventories of shops by making them more specialized (instead of the simple bazaar from Ocarina, we have the blacksmith and some other specifically-purposed stores, designed to give Castle Town a richer culture, similar to what we see in Clock Town of Majora’s Mask). The entire town has been built up just slightly, on its way to the multiple-floor metropolis that it will eventually become.
Visiting the Temple of Time in this chapter gives players a frame of reference for how time itself has weathered these different locations in Hyrule. It also reveals to the player that the Master Sword has rested in this temple, right where Link left it, presumably not moving since the events of Ocarina of Time 70 years ago. Within the Temple of Time, we discover that the Spiritual Stones have vanished from their pedestals, presumably returning to their previous rightful places: Goron City, Zora’s Domain, and Kokiri Forest.
The player being present in the Temple of Time and laying eyes on the Master Sword will, for old players (or players who are familiar with Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time), remind them that Ganondorf was safely banished to the Evil Realm. However, astute players who pay very close attention to the lore will realize that, while in The Adult Timeline Ganondorf was banished to the Evil Realm by the Sages, here in The Childhood Timeline Ganondorf was eventually set to be executed after his intentions were revealed. In Twilight Princess, we discover that this execution failed, leading to his banishment in the Twilight Realm.
All of this serves to bridge the gap and fill the holes left behind by developer and writer oversight or apathy throughout the years, which serves our ultimate goal of answering more questions than we leave. One part of maturing the series is to take the series itself seriously, and if there’s one thing that we do as the Know-It-All Brothers, it’s take Zelda seriously.
How does this chapter show Link’s maturation and the maturation of the series?
In Chapter Two, we get to see Link interacting, for the first time in this series, with the woman who changed his life forever so many years ago: Zelda, now the Queen of Hyrule. The moment the two of them see each other, the player is filled with nostalgia that matches some of the same feelings that Link would have in that scene. They both see someone they knew so many years ago: a familiar face, changed with time but still recognizably that same young girl we knew.
Link’s interactions with Zelda show a range of emotions, coming from both Link himself and from Zelda. The implied emotional weight of their meeting in the Temple of Time reveals how Zelda has kept Link in her mind since the events of Ocarina. We learn from this interaction that she hasn’t simply forgotten about Link. As we progress through the chapter, we get to see more of that. She’s had a house constructed for him; she’s not forgotten his eccentricities. This culminates in two hard-hitting moments.
The first is when Link, Marigold, and Zelda are putting Zelda V to bed. Little Zelda asks Link to play her a song to put her to sleep, and Link offers up Zelda’s Lullaby, giving the song new life. Link was unable to recall the Prelude of Light, but the one song from his past that he could never forget is the one that ties him to the royal family of Hyrule.
The second hard-hitting emotional moment comes late at night when our player wanders around the castle, discovering the door to the Queen’s bedchamber. The player knocks curiously, and is greeted with a cutscene where Zelda and Link finally get a chance, alone, to express the sentiment that’s hung in the air during their time together so far, which is expressed in a pure, simple line of dialogue from Zelda:
“I’ve missed you.”
This line serves as an ambiguous explication of their entire relationship to one another, bound together in some way, shape, or form by the Triforce. Link was perhaps never meant for the throne, never meant to stand by her side as a true member of the royal family. Nevertheless, the two of them have a connection.
Connections like these are very much a part of the complexities that come with maturing the series. As we all have grown older, we’ve learned that sometimes, life isn’t as simple as good defeating evil, as a forest child becoming a hero, or as courage triumphing over evil. We learned that there are so many intricacies in life, and that approaching them often requires solutions not found in fairy tales, nursery rhymes, or even lullabies. But these complexities make our own stories, and the story of Hero of Time, that much more believable, and (we hope) that much more interesting.
How does this chapter mix old with new?
In Chapter Two, we learn that Link has apparently picked up a hobby at some point since our last adventurous romp through Termina: oil painting. Deciding to give Link this quirk became a large influence in the way we wrote this story, and it’s one that we feel gives unique life to our story that manages to challenge the norms of the Zelda series while remaining respectful of Link’s character. We gave Link this oil-painting hobby to serve two purposes:
- To establish and bolster the artistic direction we decided to take this story (bearing in mind that this story is meant to serve as a video-game experience, rather than a simple chapterized novella)
- To provide our game with a recognizable, brand-new element of both story and gameplay
We also gave him a home in this game to solidify his place in Hyrule, specifically at the side of the royal family. We had originally drafted some concept designs for his house, but ultimately, one of the roles this house serves is to offer some player-driven customization content. Strengthening the relationship between player and avatar, the house also serves as a home base for the player, mirroring its purpose for Link.
As some of you have observed, many of the images we’ve worked to create for this series are stylized like an oil painting. This decision came when we were thinking about the visual style we had in mind for this “video game.” Each entry in the Zelda series has a distinctive artistic style: Windwaker operated with a cartoonish, cell-shaded art style (which came back, in part, for Breath of the Wild), Twilight Princess utilized a dark, desaturated, and atmospherically-thick visual style, and Skyward Sword took a very bright and light-hearted approach.
We chose oil painting because, for us and for many of the fans we talked to, oil paintings give a feeling of age. The Renaissance period was the origin point for many of today’s most famous oil paintings. That’s the setting of most oil paintings. We also just like the art style for many of the coarse-brush oil paintings, which is closer to what we try to emulate rather than the photorealistic style.
We also wanted to add this painting element to serve gameplay and story purposes. Gameplay-wise, adding this as an element gives us an option to combine two of the fun sidequest-style actions from Breath of the Wild: hunting down the memories scattered throughout the world, and scaling the Sheikah Towers to reveal portions of the map. In our theoretical game, Link will find beautiful vantage points and scenes (similarly to what he does in the garden during Chapter Two), then paint them and collect those paintings. Once an area has been “captured” in a painting, the section of the map for that area becomes available. We also want to add in painting-themed minigames, which will give the player a chance to express themselves within the game, and a chance to decorate Link’s cottage.
The story element that the painting mechanic adds provides some insight into Link’s character. The Hero of Time has shown in previous games that he has a strong inclination towards musical instruments of all kinds, playing guitar, drums, brass instruments, and the namesake Ocarina of Time. We wanted to echo this artistic nature in a unique way for Hero of Time, and the painting seemed like a perfect transition for Link as he presumably continued on adventuring, capturing his memories in paintings.
Along the same lines of maturing Link and the series, we get to see Link’s relationships with some of the new additions to the royal family. We see the Zelda we know, but in a new light—now the royal monarch of all of Hyrule. Having once been just the princess and wielder of the Triforce of Wisdom, Zelda is now as wise as ever, with not only a new role in the kingdom, but also new familial roles as a mother and grandmother.
We introduce Renauld first, who operates as a figurehead of strength and bravery. Renauld is a military leader, boasting ornate silver-and-red armor and leading a troop of Hylian knights off to Lon Lon Town. We then meet Marigold, donning her formal blue dress and tame hair, who operates as a royal advisor to the queen and a mother to Princess Zelda V. Princess Zelda, of course, is not to be contained—she, with her floofy green dress and messy hair, is nothing but mischievous and playful, appearing nearly unafraid of anything that might rise against her.
Each of these characters is designed, in part, to represent the three pieces of the Triforce in their own way: Renauld in red, a figure of power; Marigold in blue, a figure of wisdom; and Zelda V in green, a figure of courage. This is our way of introducing new characters but making them very much a part of the world of Hyrule, and our way of making them fit into the thematic structure of the Zelda series at large as well as the themes and mechanics of our own story, Hero of Time.
Beyond the introduction of new members to the royal family, we also get to see how Castle Town has grown and changed. We see new shops in place of old ones, we see how old ones have changed (like the potions shop and the bazaar), and we see, possibly most importantly, that Castle Town has expanded. This helps to convey the growth that happens between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.
One of the new shops we’re introducing is the blacksmith shop, which ties into the way we planned to handle combat. We loved the system put in place by Breath of the Wild, offering Link new weapons and items without necessarily tying those weapons or items in as major artifacts. This is something we also did with Link’s first tool, the hammer, from Chapter One. In Hero of Time, the player has the freedom to make their own choices regarding how they enjoy handling hand-to-hand combat.
We like that different weapons had different uses in Breath of the Wild, but we wanted to have a clearer system in place that made players value their weapon choice a little more: We felt that the fragility of the weapons in BotW not only limited some fun elements of the gameplay, but also broke the player’s suspension of disbelief once they realize that Link is hauling around 14 halberds, two magic wands, six bows, and 28 sets of armor, able to freeze time at their will to swap weapons and make split-second combat decisions. This concept of Link carrying many more items than what it looks like he’s carrying is very commonplace in the Zelda series, but we found that in Breath of the Wild, it had gone a step too far.
Instead, we went with a very simple system for Hero of Time, which gives players three choices for the beginning swords:
- Fast-hitting, but light damage
- Medium speed, medium damage
- Slow speed, no shield, high damage
The player will have a chance to upgrade these swords later in the story, and they’re encouraged throughout the game to try out different playstyles, either to experience them, or simply to have fun.
We also introduced some of the fun quirks of our combat through the shield options, where each shield in the game offers up a new way to handle combat. In the beginning, Link has the choice between enhanced shield-bashing, conditional invulnerability, or a ranged attack.
We feel that making these choices and additions married the Ocarina/Twilight systems with the BotW systems in a way that doesn’t betray the spirit of the series, but rather expands and modifies it. That is our ultimate goal with every addition we make to the series, regarding both lore and mechanics: to create something that feels authentic to the series as a whole. This is part of our major goal of creating a story that’s a Zelda video game, rather than simply a Zelda fan fiction.
What happens next?
Wouldn’t you like to know.
You can find out in our next installment of Hero of Time, where Link travels towards Goron City aiming to investigate the mine, and the nefarious plot within.
Before we go, we wanted to ask our readers how you think the story is progressing. Does it feel like an authentic Zelda game to you? Do you feel that we’re on the right track, or have we shattered your hopes and dreams of returning to your childhood? Even if you think this is the cringiest, Cold Steel-est work of fan fiction you’ve ever read, we want to hear from you. This story as much about you as it is about Link and Zelda.
- The Hero of Time story, when it was originally conceived, was intended to be the storyline of a video game. The narrative reflects that intention, and often references the player directly. There are points at which we will try to give an idea of what the video game might feel like, discussing things like combat mechanics or questlines and weapon design, but we’ve tried our best to adapt this into a completely readable format. ↑
- The sound effect (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQOtBtFmF30) was originally made by Tatl, but we felt it was a good way for Link’s fairy to get his attention without defaulting to “Hey, Listen!” ↑
- This gif was made possible using the Twilight Princess FreeCam Mod, developed by shadster. ↑
- ”In the middle of this game [Twilight Princess], there’s a scene showing Ganon’s execution. It was decided that Ganon be executed because he’d do something outrageous if they left him be. That scene takes place several years after Ocarina of Time.” (Eiji Aonuma, interview with nindori.com, March 6th 2007) ↑
- “The Ancient Sages performed the execution of Ganondorf in the Arbiter’s Grounds. However, Ganondorf, who had been chosen by the Triforce of Power, did not perish, and managed to kill one of the sages. Thrown into a panic, the remainder of the sages used the Mirror of Twilight to banish Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm. They were then instructed by the gods to protect the mirror.” (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 113) ↑
- One thing we’ve seen in studying the Zelda Timeline is an inconsistency in the value put on the timeline itself, and the responsible parties for maintaining the timeline. We’ve previously mentioned the Eiji Aonuma interview where he explains that the team purposefully did not place Breath of the Wild on the Zelda Timeline. This goes against the core idea of the timeline itself acting as a reference to understand the story woven by the Zelda series about the world in which they take place, because the players are put in charge of creating the connections that they rely on developers to create for the purpose of players better understanding the series. ↑