This article was first released exclusively here at Zelda Informer on Valentine's Day 2014 before being published around the web.
Please be advised that it contains spoilers for games all throughout The Legend of Zelda series, including the most recent installment, A Link Between Worlds.
The following is dedicated to those who came before, those who will come after, and—most of all—to those who were there all along.
- The Search
- Crossing the Void
- Heartache and Heartbreak
- Transcending Time and Place
- Petty Little Battles
- What You Were After
The Legend of Zelda series is a franchise that has been dissected on so many levels. Players have drawn and—at times—extrapolated such a wealth of personal meaning from the games.
Coursing through the entire series from the classic installments through to modern incarnations, and from handhelds to home consoles, is a centrally grounded theme. It is the tale of friendship and loneliness, of love and loss.
From Link’s Awakening to A Link Between Worlds, from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask through to Skyward Sword, the Zelda franchise is a story of making friends, keeping friends and losing friends.
In Zelda, our own lives, and the world around us, we cannot escape this crucial theme that is in our nature as humans: companionship.
“We all deserve a happy ending don’t we?” — Princess Hilda
Twilight Princess opens to the scene of Link sitting with his mentor Rusl at Ordon Spring as the sun sets on the horizon.
“Tell me… Do you ever feel a strange sadness as dusk falls? They say it’s the only time when our world intersects with theirs… …The only time we can feel the lingering regrets of spirits who have left our world. That is why loneliness always pervades the hour of twilight…” — Rusl
Rusl ponders the nature of nightfall as the last light of day gives way to the darkness of night. He speaks of the “ lingering regrets” felt in twilight. It is the sadness of ending each day lying in bed pondering what could have been.
Even with everything we’ve been through; the efforts we’ve made; the relationships we’ve had, there is a time in everyone’s life when they find themselves alone, lost in the melancholy of twilight.
The Happy Mask Salesman from Majora’s Mask states that “whenever there is a meeting, a parting is sure to follow.” For every time spent together there is a time of loneliness. Sheik in Ocarina of Time asserts that—as surely as time progresses—people change and move on when he says, “time passes, people move.”
In the iconic moon scene of Majora’s Mask a lone child sits beneath the great tree. Once the other four children have left he seeks someone to play with him.
“Everyone has gone away, haven’t they? Will you play… with me?” — Child on the moon
When Tatl meets the Skull Kid in Termina, he sits hopelessly abandoned beneath a fallen hollow tree trunk, cowering alone as he seeks shelter from the cold rain.
“He told us that he had been fighting with his friends and that they had left him all alone.” — Tatl
At some stage everyone experiences this loneliness and longing of the heart. Garrickson from The Wind Waker does as he sends off letter after letter of unrequited love, never receiving anything in reply.
Kamo of Windfall Island does as he howls at the moon each night having missed his chance with Linda. Cawlin from Skyward Sword does, as he lies sulking in his bed having been rejected by his crush Karane.
Time and time again, the series’ protagonist Link is left alone as his closet companions part ways with him. There is Ezlo who returns to the Minish World in The Minish Cap just as the King of Red Lions—or King Daphnes—from The Wind Waker fades away with Hyrule.
Link from Skyward Sword has to part ways with Fi as she goes to rest in the Master Sword forever, just as at the end of Twilight Princess Midna returns to the Twilight Realm and destroys her one way of ever seeing Link again.
The Hero of Time—Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask—has to part ways with his childhood friend Saria and is then abandoned by his companion Navi. So it is that after all he has been through, all of the trials and tribulations, there comes a time when Link has to search.
“Done with the battles he once waged across time, he embarked on a journey. A secret and personal journey… A journey in search of a beloved and invaluable friend.” — Majora’s Mask opening narration
When “ everyone has gone away” and when every meeting has been met with its inevitable parting, there comes a time when we must go on a journey. Link goes on a quest in search of his lost friend Navi, but to a larger extent, he is looking for the ideal she encapsulates—a companion who is there for him through thick and thin. A friend who is constantly by his side.
After pondering the sadness of dusk in Twilight Princess, Rusl states “but enough talk of sadness.” It is time for Link to stop wallowing in self-pity and begin his quest.
Just as Link departs on his journey, so too must we at times in our lives go on an adventure to a destination unknown. Like in The Wind Waker, we must let go of the anchors that hold us back, raise our sails, and let the wind carry us.
“Anchors aweigh!!! Hold the tiller steady!!! As for our destination… The wind will guide us.” — Tetra
Prior to Link setting off on his adventure in The Wind Waker he is guided through a series of “One-Point Lessons” from Outset Island’s wise old man, Sturgeon. Lesson six is entitled “Improving Human Relations”:
“To improve one's relations with one's fellow beings, one must be outgoing and press [A] to speak to all people one meets. When one opens one's heart to others, others will open their hearts in return and offer wisdom on many important things. If the person's advice is strange or cannot be understood, one should not feel shy. One should simply ask the person to repeat the statement by pressing [A] again.”
It is a straightforward lesson. When you are alone, wallowing in self-pity will not improve anything. Cawlin in Skyward Sword will achieve nothing sulking in bed just as Kamo in The Wind Waker will achieve nothing sitting alone every night.
Old Man StreetPass, or “Gramps” from A Link Between Worlds comments on the importance of connecting with the many people that pass you on the street each day. Behind each face is a story—a unique personality on their own journey.
The search is about being bold and being open. You must make yourself available and not shy away. As the lesson from Sturgeon goes on to say, relationships are give and take. For someone to open their heart to you, you must open yours to them.
This advice—to be bold and speak to people—is precisely what both Anton and Linda of Windfall Island in The Wind Waker need to hear. They are the series’ prime example of two people completely afraid of being bold and taking the step of faith.
Linda and Anton cannot find the strength to overcome what seems like the hardest obstacle: initial contact. Lenzo—the master pictographer and mentor to Link—observes this predicament:
“Somewhere in town is a couple, a man and woman whose hearts are secretly filled with thoughts of the other, and yet for reasons unknown, the two have never spoken. Even when they happen, by chance, to pass each other in the road, they each steal a brief, furtive glance of the other, but they suppress the longing in their hearts…” — Lenzo
Link himself can observe the two as they pass each other in the street each day and briefly pause for a moment before they move on. When Link talks to Linda she speaks of just wanting Anton to notice her.
“This is a brand-new outfit, you know. I just wish someone would notice it. Actually, there's a fella I've had my eye on lately.” — Linda
Intervening in the situation, Lezno acts as a fortuneteller, instructing Linda that if she sends a pictograph to Anton “ love will blossom in return.” Link volunteers to snap the pictograph and delivers it to Anton.
“Wow! She really IS that pretty . . . But no! I’ll never be happy with a mere pictograph! Never! That's it! I've made my decision! I am going to get that girl to go out with me! It's got to be done, buddy! I've got it! Maybe I'll invite her to join me at the cafe bar for coffee, of course!” — Anton
The next time Link speaks to Anton he hears the good news. Anton took the leap of faith and was rewarded:
“Hey! It’s you! Listen to this, will you? I…DID…IT! I worked up my courage, and I talked to her, and it was totally the right move! You know why, buddy? She likes me! She actually likes me! Everything’s coming up roses for me…Life IS good, buddy!” — Anton
Linda and Anton start dating and can later be found at the Windfall island cafe bar where Linda says she’s “ so happy” because they make such a “delightful couple.” This happy ending is a direct result of taking action.
With the subtle nudging of Link and Lenzo, Linda takes action and Anton works up the courage to be bold. Without being proactive the two would remain alone with their unfulfilled desires.
In A Link Between Worlds, the Captain of the guards makes overly frequent trips to visit the priest. However, it is merely an excuse to see the priest’s daughter Seres, while he remains too afraid to take direct and honest action—just like Linda and Anton in the beginning.
The search is not an easy journey, and that is precisely what Link learns in Majora’s Mask as he reaches Goron Village and encounters the owl, Kaepora Gaebora. Link must cross a void to reach his destination of Lone Peak Shrine.
He must take a step of faith off the cliff and this metaphor is a powerful piece of advice while on the search. Kaepora Gaebora warns that “ without courage and determination” it will be difficult to proceed.
If Link hesitates to take the step of faith, the owl offers encouragement in that “ after retreat, courage returns.” You may miss your opportunities to take the step of faith in the moment, as Anton and Linda so often did, but after retreat courage returns for another attempt.
Once Link agrees to cross the void, then Kaepora Gaebora offers what is potentially the best advice for any relationship:
“Do not be daunted by appearances. Instead, let your feelings guide you, and the true path shall open before you.” — Kaepora Gaebora
Link must follow behind the owl, stepping where its feathers fall to cross the invisible path across the void. If Link takes a stray step and falls into the abyss the owl counsels him, reaffirming that we will not be rewarded every time we take a leap of faith, but we must persevere.
“It seems things are not going well for you… Hoo-Hoot! Fear not, it never goes well at first for anyone. But by no means should you grow impatient. Impatience brings uneasiness and distracts the heart.” — Kaepora Gaebora
Taking that first step and crossing the void is daunting, but just keep trying. This metaphor of crossing to the Lone Peak Shrine reinforces that you must risk it all and take that step in life. You cannot be daunted by appearances. Be open; look for what is deeper. See beyond the surface to what cannot be seen and—most of all—persevere.
Once Link is successful at crossing the void, Kaepora Gaebora repeats his earlier message for emphasis:
“From here on, you must not be fooled by appearances. You must rely on your feelings…” — Kaepora Gaebora
The void is a symbol for the space between you and the companionship you seek. The destination of your search waits across the void, or maybe a number of voids. Either take the step of faith and cross to the other side, or remain alone in nothingness.
Link’s Awakening features a similar owl character as a guide who tells Link “you cannot know if a chest holds treasure until you open it.” You cannot know what awaits you across the void until you cross. You can’t be sure until you try, just as you never know until you ask.
The owl from Link’s Awakening goes on, “Trust your feelings. Someday you will know for sure.” Let your feelings guide you above all things on the search. Let them be the wind that carries you across the void.
Sturgeon’s final lesson at the outset of The Wind Waker reminds us that “no matter what happens… do not give up.”
Once you have taken the step of faith across the void there is no knowing where you stand. While Link obtains the Lens of Truth on the other side of the void in Majora’s Mask, we cannot easily see everything so plainly.
We cannot see “ into people’s hearts and minds” like the Mask of Truth allows. In any relationship it can be difficult to know where you stand and how others truly feel.
No matter where you are in life, it can always seem like the juvenile world of heartache and heartbreak: a world of lies, drama and complications. When speaking of the plot in Skyward Sword, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma described it as “somewhat like a school drama.”
Skyloft’s Knight Academy lives up to that reputation. The senior student Karane is completely infatuated with her fellow student Pipit, who she constantly muses over.
“Sigh... Oh, Pipit... How can I get you to notice me?" — Karane
Lost in her crush, Karane remains completely oblivious to Cawlin’s affection towards her. Struggling to take the leap of faith publicly, Cawlin decides to instead write a letter to Karane, which he asks Link to deliver.
"Greetings. My love for you is wider than the horizon and deeper than the clouds. I would very much like it if you would go out with me. Your brave knight, Cawlin.” — Cawlin’s letter
Karane is unsure of how to respond to the letter. She is grateful, and even thanks Cawlin, but Pipit remains her only interest.
"So, yeah... I have to say, he really put his heart into it and everything... I don't know... Maybe I should consider going out with Cawlin. ...Hah! As if! Sigh... I wonder what Pipit would think if he knew about this..." — Karane
Being the investigative type that he is, Link digs around to discover that Pipit is extremely jealous about the letter. Eventually, Pipit reveals his feelings:
"When you told me about the letter, it was at that moment I finally realized. I realized that...I love her. I thought to myself, "I can't let anyone else take her from me!" If you hadn't told me, I might never have even noticed my own feelings for her." — Pipit
So it is that when Cawlin attempts to cross the void, Pipit interrupts and so Karane accepts his date proposal instead. While the two are happy together, Karane still feels “ kind of bad for Cawlin.”
It is the way of the world. Both Cawlin and Pipit took the step, but only one was rewarded while the other is shattered.
Alternatively, instead of delivering the letter to Karane, Link can give it to the ghost of a young girl who appears as a hand in the toilet, despite Cawlin begging him not to. Notably, Link has to take his own step of faith to even speak to the young ghost.
“I suggest you cease being scared and speak to her." — Fi
Doing so will earn Link the disdain of Cawlin, but the ghost will fall in love, stroking Cawlin every night as he sleeps through his nightmares.
“It's good to see you again... Actually, thanks to you, I met my true love... Yes, him... It all started with that letter that you gave me... Those beautiful words of affection caused me to fall hopelessly in love..." — The Mysterious Hand Ghost
All too often what awaits us across the void is drama and jealousy. There are successful leaps and unsuccessful ones. Where one relationship blooms, another individual lays sulking and heartbroken.
Kamo from The Wind Waker is the casualty of the love that Linda and Anton share. He sits alone at night gazing at the moon.
"If you want to know the truth, I'm actually a little...heartbroken...at the moment. I just can't shake this depression. See, I found out that my childhood friend Linda had her eyes on someone besides me all this time… And you know what's worse? He was my buddy! I just can't take it!" — Kamo
Through Link’s support, Kamo comes to learn the importance of persisting and going on optimistically.
“Unrequited love may have twisted me up inside, but I can still find peace…” — Kamo
The dramas of relationships within the Knight Academy in Skyward Sword continue. Link and Zelda are “best friends” that go way back, but that evokes the jealousy of Groose, plus there is also Peatrice.
Peatrice falls for Link as he visits her shop again and again. Link is eventually given the option of declaring his affections for Peatrice or rejecting her. If Link opens himself to Peatrice she overflows with gratitude, but Fi tells Link to “ not mention this when you next encounter Zelda.”
On the other hand, if Link rejects her, Peatrice puts on a tough façade of how she is now “ getting prettier by the day,” to hide her heartbreak. Peatrice is another example of the complexities of emotions—especially unrequited—and relationships. The real bond here, however, is between Zelda and Link, with Groose looking on with jealousy.
Zelda’s father Gaepora comments, “ Anyone who is part of something special is bound to catch some nasty looks sooner or later.” He speaks of Link and his Crimson Loftwing, but it is dually applicable to Link and Zelda, due to Groose’s feelings for the maiden.
"Groose has been going on forever about how he's gonna be the one to be with Zelda. He's really got his pompadour in a ruffle about her!" — Cawlin
Once Zelda goes missing from Skyloft in the land below the clouds, Groose blames Link and is convinced that he must save Zelda himself to win her affections. But even more importantly, Groose reveals that what he cares about most is her safety and happiness.
“If I've got this right, Zelda is down here somewhere, and she's...OK? She's... She's OK. Oh, wow! That's so great! Duh huh huh... Hearing that is such a...huge weight off my mind." — Groose
In time, Groose comes to understand his place and sees that he will never be able to come between Link and Zelda. However, he proves that he was never just merely infatuated, but that he truly cares. It is Groose who saves Zelda when Ghirahim tosses her around, even though at this stage he knows she will never be with him.
"Don't worry, Link! Groose has got this! Link, I... I caught her! She's OK!" — Groose
In the midst of all the drama, Groose reveals what it is to truly care for someone. Majora’s Mask further provides the series’ prime example of the ideal relationship: that of Kafei and Anju.
After Kafei goes missing from Clock Town, Link learns that he has been cursed to appear as a child and has had his wedding mask stolen from him. Kafei had made a promise to meet his fiancée Anju on the eve of the carnival and to present the mask to her for their wedding the following day.
Kafei is convinced that he cannot go home until he gets his mask back. Meanwhile, Anju worries, just wanting to know that Kafei is okay, because she had made her promise and had “decided to wait for him.” Anju’s mother is not so supportive of Anju’s choice.
“It's foolish to believe a man like that. I too believed my husband would return out of the blue... Oh, Anju... That child's naive sense of trust may be my fault.” — Anju’s Mother
While Anju waits, rumors circulate—largely courtesy of Anju’s mother—that Kafei has “ run off with Cremia,” Anju’s best friend.
"My sister, Cremia, has someone in town she likes... But that person is supposed to get married the day of the carnival. It's hard for my sister... Going into town..." — Romani
Even in this often-idealized relationship between Kafei and Anju there are still rumors. There is still the heartbroken causality in Cremia, watching on in loneliness. Once Kafei regains his mask he runs back to town to meet Anju. Having the trust of a real bond of friendship, Anju continues to wait.
Kafei arrives and apologizes for being late, but all Anju has to say is “ welcome home.” Anju doesn’t care about his cursed appearance as a child. Love is, by its very definition, unconditional. Love is love; it doesn’t care what others think. It is not “daunted by appearances.”
Love is the beauty that Knuckle speaks of in The Wind Waker when he says, “Beauty does not come from what you see… it comes from what is inside you.”
Love is the young girl Pamela caring for her father in Majora’s Mask despite him suffering from the torturous curse of slowly becoming a Gidbo. As he turns into a raging monster, Pamela never abandons him. Love never flees. Love waits. True friendship outlasts the drama.
In a life of relationships, friendships and acquaintances, it is difficult to know what true friendship is. The word love is thrown around carelessly and without meaning in today’s society. In a world where people claim to fall in and out of love regularly, what is real love?
With the story of Kafei and Anju, Majora’s Mask asserts that love is unconditional. It isn’t a fickle emotion that comes and goes. Sheik from Ocarina of Time speaks of love as a gradual feeling, a continuous power that can only develop with time.
“It is something that grows over time... a true friendship. A feeling in the heart that becomes stronger over time... The passion of friendship will soon blossom into a righteous power and through it, you will know which way to go...” — Sheik
Through her disguise as Sheik, Princess Zelda reveals her feelings for Link. She alludes to the boy she once knew in childhood who came into her life and with her changed the course of the world. Having vanished for seven years Zelda speaks of the feelings that grew in her heart over time. Sheik goes on at their next encounter:
“Time passes, people move.... Like a river's flow, it never ends... A childish mind will turn to noble ambition... Young love will become deep affection... The clear water's surface reflects growth...” — Sheik
Sheik again refers to love as time, as the growth of a person’s character. In Majora’s Mask the Happy Mask Salesman asserts that “time is not eternal. Please make the most of your time.” To share such a finite resource with someone is truly a gift.
Time spent together, through the ups and downs, is love. Fleeing at the first hardship is not a true friendship. Having gone through their whole journey together in Skyward Sword, Link’s companion Fi relates her feelings of togetherness, despite being merely an artificial lifeform sent by the Goddess.
“I have come to consider the information corresponding to our time together among the most precious data I have on record.” — Fi
Throughout Spirit Tracks it is the time Zelda and Link spend together as companions that makes the pair become closer and closer. Their bond “is something that grows over time.”
By the end, Link and Zelda’s relationship is beyond the fickle choices they may make. Regardless of whether Link chooses to be a warrior or an engineer, their friendship goes beyond immediate circumstance and individual choices.
The Wind Waker reinforces this idea that the most valuable thing in this world to give is indeed time, not money. After the young girl Mila is kidnapped, her affluent father spends his entire fortune repaying the pirates for her rescue.
Having become a beggar on the street, Mila’s father realizes the true beauty of time spent together:
“My fortune has vanished! ...We've hit rock bottom! But...my little Mila is alive and home safe where she belongs, so I can't complain. A daughter is more important than money.” — Mila’s father
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your time, but true friendships are something that go much further beyond that. In Ocarina of Time Link grows up with his childhood friend Saria, but there comes a time when Link must depart the Forest and leave behind his friend.
The “ parting is sure to follow,” and yet, what they share together is a bond that can reach across time and space.
"Oh, you're leaving... I knew... that you would leave the forest... someday, Link... Because you are different from me and my friends.... But that's OK, because we'll be friends forever... won't we? I want you to have this Ocarina... Please take good care of it. When you play my Ocarina, I hope you will think of me.” — Saria
While “ it is destiny” that the two “can’t live in the same world,” Saria lends her spirit, giving Link aid and advice whenever he thinks of her. It is a similar bond to that Link shares with the owl Kaepora Gaebora when he befriends him in Majora’s Mask.
Kaepora Gaebora teaches Link the Song of Soaring that contains the power to soar swiftly across the land. It provides the ability to overcome space and to save precious time while highlighting the nature of true friendship.
“From the first time you play this song, we shall become eternal friends, transcending time and place!” — Kaepora Gaebora
Spirit Tracks introduces a further gift of love that is even beyond time spent together and enduring friendship through space. It is the gift of giving up your own time so that someone else may have more. It is the gift of sacrifice, as given by Byrne in Spirit Tracks.
Byrne is a Lokomo—a servant of the Spirits—sent from above to watch over humanity. However, Byrne is lustful and becomes corrupted by the idea of having power to rival the spirits. Eventually he abandons his friend, mentor and fellow Lokomo in Anjean.
Having failed to obtain the power he desires—and having seen the devastation such a path causes—Byrne comes to see how he has failed his friend Anjean and put the whole kingdom in danger.
To make up for his mistakes, Byrne sacrifices his own life so that the people of the world he has wronged can live on: so that they can have more time.
In the emotional final sequence of Spirit Tracks, Anjean narrates on the power of the spirit. She speaks of the power of friendship as something beyond the confines of the world.
“The spirit is persistent, my dear. Byrne may not have any memory of these events, but years from now, he’ll return in a new form . . .” — Anjean
Anjean speaks of love as a force that goes beyond time and space. She speaks of the true bond of friendship as something that not even death can destroy, as something that spans beyond our lifetimes. True love is something that not even death can end.
“I will return to the heavens… in the company of my old friend Byrne.” — Anjean
The differences between Byrne and Anjean were almost enough to permanently sever the friendship they shared. Their petty battle could have separated them forever, but before the end they made amends through forgiveness.
We may not make the ultimate sacrifice as Byrne did, but relationships are about making small sacrifices. They are about letting go of pride and embracing forgiveness to end pointless conflict on insignificant matters.
Conflict is a threat to every friendship and an obstacle in building new relationships. The riddle to open a door in Spirit Tracks reads:
“Opening the Door of Friendship: Once upon a time, two men fell in love with a beautiful woman. One man was popular and always the center of attention. But all he cared about was the beautiful woman he had fallen in love with. Unfortunately for him, the woman only had eyes for the other man. The battle for the woman's love grew and sent sparks hot enough to melt stone. But eventually, friendship shone between the men like a light, uniting the pair. It was as if a door had been unlocked.”
Through the use of a riddled puzzle, Spirit Tracks illustrates the point that in the midst of conflict there are great friendships to be found. Casting aside the petty battle for the woman’s affections, the men find an enlightening friendship. The lesson? Don’t become so narrowly focused that you miss opportunities for friendships around you.
Princess Hilda of A Link Between Worlds feels betrayed by her friend Ravio, who travels to Hyrule and aids Link in his quest to prevent Hilda from obtaining the Triforce. Her feelings are more than enough to cast their friendship asunder, but Hilda comes to see—through her friend's actions—that she has been "lead astray."
Ravio says that he had the " best of intentions" in that he just wanted to save Hilda from all of the destruction. Ravio didn't want to see his friend go down the path of thievery and condemnation. He wanted Hilda to do the "right thing," not to destroy Hyrule to save Lorule.
Where Hilda and Ravio’s friendship could have been torn apart by petty conflict, Hilda understands that her friend only wants to see her safe. Friends may not always do as you want, but they have your best interests at heart.
In Majora’s Mask, Link journeys through the fallen Kingdom of Ikana—a land laid to waste by the devastation of war. Spirits of the dead linger alone in regret and despair—just like Rusl describes the twilight.
After Link defeats King Igos du Ikana and his two henchmen in a battle, the two lackeys begin to bicker about which of them was once the best swordsman in Ikana. Seeing this argument amongst friends, King Ikana reflects on the reason why his kingdom fell apart.
“Rrrrrr-Ah!!! Will you stop?!!? What fools! Haven't you begun to understand? The kingdom being ruined and us left in this state... Isn't it petty, little battles like this that have caused it? Believing in your friends and embracing that belief by forgiving failure... These feelings have vanished from our hearts.” — King Igos du Ikana
It was a lack of faith and an inability to forgive one another that tore the kingdom of Ikana apart. It was petty little disputes such as that between the composer brothers Sharp and Flat.
Due to the trickery of the Skull Kid, Sharp sells his soul and in turn imprisons his brother Flat. All the while, Flat just wishes for his brother to find his way again. He embraces forgiveness.
With the help of Link, the curse upon Sharp is broken and all he then seeks is his brother’s companionship.
“Flat, my dear brother. Forgive your foolish brother.” — Sharp
The two were caught in a petty conflict that kept them apart, but they embrace their friendship and forgive one another. Just as the two brothers were caught in a battle, the Kingdom of Ikana continues to fight a war with the Garo nation, even after death.
It is jealousy and lust that causes the two nations to spy and fight one another. These petty emotions tore apart the lives of the whole kingdom.
The captain of the Ikanian army, Captain Skull Keeta, just wishes for the fighting to cease. He just wants to tell his friends that the pointless battle is over and that they no longer need to keep fighting needlessly.
“Convey my words to my men, who, even in death, remain loyal to me. Tell them the war has ended...” — Captain Skull Keeta
The Kingdom of Ikana serves as the example of what happens when you get lost in trivial conflicts. The inability to trust one another leaves any relationship as desolate as Ikana. This story contains the message to never let fights over miniscule issues destroy the friendships you have.
This message of having faith in one another is the core of Majora’s Mask, a game built around the rift between the Skull Kid and his friends in the Four Giants.
The backstory to Majora’s Mask tells of the Four Guardian Giants of Termina who once lived amongst the people, but eventually decided to watch on from their slumber. Anju’s grandmother recounts the story:
“Now then…There was one who was shocked and saddened by all this. A little imp. The imp was a friend of the giants since before they had created the four worlds. “Why must you leave?” “Why do you not stay?” The childhood friend felt neglected, so he spread his anger across the four worlds. — Anju’s Grandmother
Having repeatedly wronged all the people of Termina, the people cried out to the Giants for help. They respond by banishing the imp, the Skull Kid, from Termina.
“’Oh, imp. Oh, imp. We are the protectors of the people. You have caused the people pain. Oh, imp, leave these four worlds! Otherwise, we shall tear you apart!’ The imp was frightened and saddened. He had lost his old friends.” — Anju’s Grandmother
The Skull Kid felt abandoned and in his anger he lashed out at the Happy Mask Salesman, stealing Majora’s Mask in the process. The Skull Kid became a slave to the will of the mask, unleashing havoc upon the world and exacting his revenge by imprisoning the Giants and summoning the moon to destroy Termina.
However, just as Flat forgave his brother Sharp, the Four Giants never stopped loving the Skull Kid. As Link frees the imprisoned Giants, they tell him to “ help our friend,” and to “forgive your friend.” They tell Link and Tatl to forgive the Skull Kid who—in his loneliness—was taken advantage of by the will of Majora.
Once Link overcomes Majora and the menacing moon with the help of the Four Giants, the Skull Kid comes to his senses. Although the Giants had banished him to protect their people, the Skull Kid learns that friendship is something that goes beyond time and space. Love goes beyond the trivial disputes. The Giants wished only for the Skill Kid to find his way again.
“You guys... You hadn't forgotten about me? You still thought of me as a friend? Did you... Did you save me? I thought they didn't want to be friends with me... But... They hadn't forgotten about me... Friends are a nice thing to have... Heh, heh. Could you be my friend, too?” — Skull Kid
Petty little battles destroyed Ikana and almost the whole land of Termina. It almost ended the bond of brothers and the joys shared in friendship. The conflict between the Giants and the Skull Kid cautions us to be open and communicative.
Avoid the trivial disputes over non-issues that can tear apart the best of friendships. Forgive failure, embrace your friends and believe in one another.
As Link’s journey comes to a close in Majora’s Mask, the Happy Mask Salesman turns to Link and declares some words that can leave players scratching their heads.
“Well, both of us have gotten what we were after...” — Happy Mask Salesman
The Mask Salesman obtained Majora’s Mask again, but outwardly it seems that Link has obtained nothing. After all, he never did find his beloved friend in Navi. However, inwardly everything had changed. Link has a completely new perspective.
Throughout his quest in Termina Link witnessed friendships torn apart by trivial matters, such as with the bond of the Skull Kid and The Four Giants. From this he came to understand the true value of friendship.
While searching for Navi—the ideal of the perfect companion—Link made new friends in Tatl, Tael, The Bombers, and people all around Termina. He also built a new friendship with the Skull Kid, the imp he had once met in the woods in Ocarina of Time. He had built new bonds and made people happy through his friendship.
“But, my, you sure have managed to make quite a number of people happy. The masks you have are filled with happiness. This is truly a good happiness.” — Happy Mask Salesman
What Link had gained throughout Majora’s Mask was an appreciation of friendship’s value. He learned not to focus solely on the one ideal to replace what he had lost, but to rather be open, embracing new relationships.
Just as with the two men in the riddle to open the door in Spirit Tracks, focusing solely on one person can mean you will miss another. Link’s narrowly focused mind sought solely for Navi, but his limited view ignored the friends he had and could make.
The parting words of the Happy Mask Salesman hearkened Link’s thoughts back to who he had left behind in Hyrule: Princess Zelda.
“Shouldn't you be returning home as well? Whenever there is a meeting, a parting is sure to follow. However, that parting need not last forever... Whether a parting be forever or merely for a short time... That is up to you.” — Happy Mask Salesman
Above all else, Link came to appreciate the friendships he already had, the ones that transcend time and space even though he had left them behind. He began his search feeling lonely, but by the end he realizes the truth: that he was never alone to begin with.
It is a strong message to never needlessly abandon those you have on the search. Never forget your friends. The Happy Mask Salesman’s words remind Link of the parting that initially began his adventure.
“You are already leaving this land of Hyrule, aren’t you? Even though it was only a short time, I feel like I’ve known you forever. I’ll never forget the days we spent together in Hyrule… And I believe in my heart that a day will come when I shall meet you again…Until that day comes, please . . . I am praying… I am praying that your journey be a safe one. — Princess Zelda
Zelda’s optimism that partings need not last forever is also shared by Sheik in Ocarina of Time, as he comforts his friend Link despite the dangers the hero is about to face: “Link. . . I’ll see you again.”
Throughout his quest in Termina, back home in Hyrule his friend Zelda waits, concerned for his safety and hoping that one day he will return to her. Because sometimes it doesn’t even take a petty battle to end the best of friendships, it just takes a lack of appreciation until they are gone.
On the search we often abandon what we have for the hope and the desire of what we want, never truly knowing that what we have left behind; what we are losing, is the very thing we wanted all along.
True friendships are never truly lost as they transcend time and space, hoping that the parting is “ merely for a short time.”
It is just like Ocarina of Time where Link must leave behind the Forest and his childhood friend in Saria, because true friendship goes beyond immediate presence.
“Oh, you're leaving... But that's OK, because we'll be friends forever... won't we?” — Saria
No matter what relationships we go through; no matter what happens on the search, there are always those waiting for us back at home, just wanting to see us return home safely again.
Link’s newly made friend in A Link Between Worlds—Irene—simply wishes for Link to “come back safely.” It is the same desire as that of Link’s friend Ilia in Twilight Princess:
“Can you at least promise me this? No matter what happens on your journey, don’t try to do anything… out of your league. Please. Just come home safely.” — Ilia
At the end of Skyward Sword Link loses his companion Fi, but his best friend Zelda waits to start a new life with him. As Ezlo returns to his own world in The Minish Cap, Link still has his childhood companion in Princess Zelda.
Although King Daphnes fades away at the end of The Wind Waker, Link still has his loving Grandmother, his dedicated sister Aryll, and the friendship of Tetra and the pirates. In Twilight Princess Link may have to say goodbye forever to Midna, but he still has his best friend Ilia waiting for him to return to her.
“You were always there. . . You were always beside me . . . Whenever you return. I’ll be waiting for you.” — Ilia
If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in 'Destined to Fade', a philosophical article also by Dathen Boccabella on life, death and living for today in The Legend of Zelda series.