When Wind Waker was first introduced to the fans, the first reaction was wanton outrage over the graphics. However, a much more subtle debate took the stage not long after that. It was around this time when it seemed like Nintendo truly started becoming interesting in hooking all of the Zelda titles into some cohesive narrative, most notably because the very existence of this game seemed to contradict the flow of Ocarina of Time’s story leading to A Link to the Past. Sure enough, the fan speculation of there being two timelines was hinted at by the developers themselves, creating the Child and Adult Timelines (though ironically the Child timeline then is the Decline timeline now).
The flooding of Hyrule, in a single stroke, changed the face of Hyrule in a way that no other story has been able to replicate. For that matter, the games in the Adult timeline have this marked difference that makes them distinct from every other game in the other timelines. And yet, there are still so many mysteries about the flood that remain unsolved. Today, we’re diving down beneath the great blue seas in order to find out what really happened in The Wind Waker.
This image was created by Karlen Tam and can be found here.
The Triforce is perhaps the cornerstone upon which most of the Hyrulean legendis built upon. Those three sacred triangles seem to crop up in so many games, always causing a significant amount of trouble whenever they crop up, and it’s not hard to see why. The Triforce itself is the very legacy of the golden goddesses, a symbol of the power, wisdom, and courage by which they wrought their newly created land of Hyrule. It was signed with the essences of their magic, bestowing it the perfect granting of their owner’s wish in kind with the strength of the wish. And lastly, the Triforce was placed in the most sacred and holiest of places, set atop a pedestal so that it might fuel the world with life and vigor so that the land might never perish.
Who wouldn’t want such a relic for their own?
And yet, it turns out that this was the ever so subtle problem in what otherwise seemed an otherwise beautiful plan. That the Triforce seemed so very omnipotent made it inherently desirable. That it was desirable meant that it would only be a matter of time that someone with malevolent intent would reach his or her bony fingers towards it. And yet, the Triforce was established in such a way so as not to care who it was that touched its golden surface first.
The Triforce will grant the wishes in the heart and mind of the person who touches it. If a person with a good heart touches it, it will make his good wishes come true. If an evil-hearted person touches it, it grants his evil wishes. The stronger the wish, the power powerful the Triforce’s expression of that wish. (Essence of the Triforce, A Link to the Past)
Well, fine. Maybe that’s the way the goddesses had intended it to be all along? That seems a reasonable plausibility, really. In the real world, religious scholars have for years been struggling to answer and deal with the harsh truth of why bad things happen to good people. One reasonable conclusion is that, if we were all forced to be good and thus live in a world only capable of providing goodness, life would be meaningless or uninteresting at the very least. Or perhaps the goddesses were merely curious to see what the various races they created would do when left to bask in the uncaring power of the Triforce. Perhaps they were like the Greek gods, playing an elaborate game of chess with humans as their pawns, or perhaps they had just dropped the microphone on their way out as they wandered off to go create another world. Such are things we will probably never know; I doubt we’ll ever see Nintendo penning meta-theological treatises within their Zelda franchise.
No matter the explanation, the Triforce was designed to cut both ways, to allow good to banish evil just as evil could eradicate good. And surely, as the emblem of the goddesses, it must represent their wishes.
Yet when Ganondorf breaks out of the Dark World née Sacred Realm with the Triforce of Power upon his wrist to besiege Hyrule Castle, pummeling at the walls until their strength is all but spent, something interesting happens.
The goddesses change their mind and answer the prayers of one Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule.
Once, long ago, this land of Hyrule was turned into a world of shadows by Ganon, who sought to obtain the power of the gods for his own evil ends. My power alone could not stop the fiend, and our only choice was to leave the fate of the kingdom in the hands of the gods. When the gods heard our pleas, they chose to seal away not only Ganon, but Hyrule itself. And so, with a torrential downpour of rains from the heavens, our fair kingdom was soon buried beneath the waves, forgotten at the bottom of the ocean. (Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, The Wind Waker)
Now unless you count the three Oracles as direct intervention by the golden goddesses, this single event marks the only time that Din, Farore, and Nayru have directly altered the course of Hyrule’s human history, overriding the influence of their own creation the Triforce and changing the very face of Hyrule with the flood.
Why? If the goddesses were willing to intervene here and now to save Hyrule, why would they create a Triforce which allowed for the provision that evil might conquer good when one corrupt soul destroys the bearers of the other two crests?
One possibility that’s low-hanging fruit is that the absence of the Hero of Time placed the world in a state of imbalance between power, wisdom, and courage that the goddesses thought it necessary to declare a necessary ceasefire until Farore got her act together and selected a new soul to be the hero. And while that sounds remarkably legitimate, remember the Triforce is designed such that evil could win, in essence creating an even worse imbalance amongst the three.
Sadly, Hyrule Historia is no use to us here as it merely parrots the events of what happened without explaining any of the rationales. Ultimately, I think there’s a much more likely idea that might cause the three goddesses to panic, but that requires us to go back in time and figure out what happened in the ending of Ocarina of Time.
If you really think about the three-way split ending of Ocarina of Time for more than five minutes, you quickly come to the realization that it doesn’t make all that much sense. Or if it does make sense, it’s ultimately pretty pointless. If Ganondorf manages to kill Link, the Seven Sages go into Plan-B mode and decide that the only way to stop Ganondorf and his now fully operational Triforce-station is to seal him in the Sacred Realm and hope he wished for something stupid. Yet even if Link manages to beat Ganondorf (followed by Ganon), Ganon’s Triforce of Power doesn’t show any signs of stopping, so they just seal him in the same place anyway. Thanks, guys. Maybe you could have done that at the beginning of the boss fight instead?
And following that, when Zelda is talking to Link in their little sacred place after the fight, Zelda decides that she’s going to right all of her wrongs in her effort to maintain control over the Sacred Realm by sending Link back through time in order to regain his lost years. Unsaid by the original game and Hyrule Historia, it also seems to be a desperate attempt perhaps to undo all of the turmoil Hyrule faced and erase the scar Ganondorf’s evil rule left upon Hyrule. So when Link gets back, he immediately goes to see Zelda to report what will happen if Ganondorf is not stopped (Hyrule Historia 110). As a result, Ganondorf is arrested and sentenced to die before he is able to attack Hyrule Castle in order to snatch Zelda’s ocarina.
Yet, as fate would have it, Ganondorf doesn’t actually need to open the Door of Time to gain the Triforce of Power. Through some mysterious twist of fate, it’s granted to him, allowing him to escape execution at the Arbiter’s Grounds, thus ending up with him being (you guessed it) sealed away. So much for that wistful idea of going back in time to prevent Ganondorf from getting the Triforce. Thanks, Zelda.
But how does Ganondorf manage to obtain the Triforce of Power in the backstory to Twilight Princess? The Sacred Realm was inaccessible, so the Triforce should have been safe, right? Hyrule Historia, thankfully, opens the only real explanation that makes sense.
Upon his return [to his childhood], Link wasted no time in making for Hyrule Castle courtyard. There, he found Princess Zelda watching Ganondorf, just as she had been when they first met.
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.
Just then, the mark of the Triforce of Courage on the back of Link’s hand began to glow. (110)
So there Link is, at essentially the beginning of the first act of Ocarina of Time, practically reliving memories he’s already experienced. But yet this time there’s this gigantic M. Night Shyamalan-shaped twist that gets thrown into the loop: Link has the Triforce of Courage already. Wait a minute! That didn’t happen seven years ago! Where did that come from? What’s going on here?
And if that’s not enough to believe, not three pages later, Hyrule Historia mentions that Ganondorf is in possession of the Triforce of Power. However, this is despite the fact that “Ganondorf did not enter the Sacred Realm or lay his hands on the completed Triforce” (113). Well, that means that it’s not Ganondorf’s fault he ended up with the Triforce. So is this just one big goof up?
Not according to Nintendo; in fact, the truth is all the more sinister. The explanation of how this all came to be comes in the very next sentence: “Link returning from the future bearing the Triforce of Courage made it so that Ganondorf was unable to consolidate the omnipotent power of the Triforce within himself” (113).
Let that sink in. Link, having earned the Triforce from seven years in the future, was sent back in time to his childhood. But he was sent to his childhood with the Triforce of Courage still in his possession, and he retains control of that Triforce when he gets back. However, as a result, that means that the one of the Triforces have been divvied up to Farore’s chosen, so it’s only fair if the same happens to Din’s and Nayru’s chosen as well. And that means, you guessed it, Ganondorf immediately gets the Triforce of Power and Zelda gets the Triforce of Wisdom. In one instant heartbeat, history has once again repeated. Zelda, in a moment of naïveté, thinks she has full control of the Sacred Realm and the fate of an alternate timeline as she sends Link back through time. Not only does she almost cause the ruination of the Hyrule that is yet to be, she almost jeopardizes the entirety of her kingdom in this newly created, separate timeline.
But there’s a missing piece to the puzzle here, quite literally. If Link came back with the Triforce of Courage, wouldn’t there be two Triforces of Courage in the Child timeline? That seems… decidedly not good, I would imagine. That would also technically leave no Triforce of Courage in the Adult timeline. That seems even worse. Also contradictory.
But it’s at this point that all of our evidence is exhausted. There are no more quotations to really help us uncover the solution to this paradox. So, all we can do is make some educated conjectures.
We know that a Triforce of Courage eventually has to wind up back in the Adult timeline by the time The Wind Waker rolls around. But what’s interesting about the Triforce then is that it’s been broken up into eight pieces and scattered around Hyrule (and sealed in nice little chests). But we never see Link do that before being sent back in Ocarina of Time; for that matter, Link doesn’t actually have the time to do that; and really, Link didn’t do it because he brought the Triforce of Courage back to the past. So if it wasn’t Link who left his Triumph Forks all over the place, who did?
I’m going to toss out a wild and crazy idea that it was done by the only person who had the power to possibly do it: Farore herself.
The situation is pretty straightforward; one timeline doesn’t have any Triforce of Courage, while another one has two when it should only have one. So, the simple answer to the problem is that only someone who had the power to bend reality, space, and time itself could inject a new Triforce of Courage into the Adult timeline while simultaneously solving the duplicate Triforce problem. And furthermore, the lack of a Triforce of Courage maintaining balance in Hyrule is a perfectly good reason for the goddesses to intervene in human affairs since the Triforce has officially malfunctioned and cannot perform the acts that the goddesses originally created it to serve.
This theory seems to be in harmony with the mission that the King of Red Lions was tasked with during the course of the game. The King of Hyrule, as Hyrule Historia mentions, “was sealed along with his kingdom” (123). However, more specifically, he was put into stasis along with the rest of the creatures who were invading Hyrule Castle at the moment of the goddesses’ action. “King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, ordered by the gods to put an end to Ganondorf’s ambitions, awoke from his slumber…, and he began searching for the new Hero and the descendent of the royal family” (124). This summarily explains how the King of Hyrule not only has lived so many years despite not having any complete Triforce in his possession; it even explains how he became “unsealed” later on, able to influence the world above the waves (unlike Ganondorf, who must have punctured through the seal with raw power).
It also could explain why the goddesses ordered him to stop Ganondorf machinations, defying the otherwise neutral stance of their own Triforce; if Ganondorf were at risk to conquer the world with only one of the two other Triforces in play, the epic battle could not turn out in a way that favored the goddesses’ ultimate intent.
And the turning point of the whole plot seems to pivot upon Link going to the Tower of the Gods and becoming the new hero and savior of this world as “it is up to the gods to deem whether his courage is true” (Jabun, Wind Waker). The goddesses’ intervention, the flooding of Hyrule, and the reanimation of the King of Hyrule: all of it boils down to the goddesses attempting to re-kick into motion the unfinished battle that Ocarina of Time left unresolved while simultaneously fixing the tragic mistake that Princess Zelda made hundreds of years ago. They needed a hero, and with two of the Triforce’s pieces claimed, they had to find someone worthy of receiving the third in accordance, which had to be chosen by none other than Farore herself.
To Be Continued…
The article I wrote to cover the flood turned out to be so long that I decided it best to split this feature into two separate articles, especially since I ended up covering two very different mysteries from The Wind Waker‘s flood story. We’ve covered the goddesses’ intervention in the backstory for TWW and also took a deep dive into the nature of the Triforce as seen in the ending of The Ocarina of Time, but next time on Mysteries of Hyrule, we’ll be taking a look at some of the people living in this newly flooded world. It’s a question of blood and a question of evolution. We’re going to look the secret mystery behind the Rito.
Until next week, may the way of the Hero lead to the Triforce.