The Missing Link
Back when I used to participate in an online Zelda roleplaying group, my original character Xu got into a slight pinch of trouble. Some would call it in being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when the leader of the Resistance forces holds something valuable that Ganondorf desperately wants–in this case, the Kokiri Emerald, well… eventually the entire map becomes the wrong place, regardless of the time. (The guy can teleport anywhere he wants to on a whim’s notice… so incredibly cheap and so not fair!) Needless to say, Xu was captured by Ganondorf, eventually to be ransomed for the very Emerald she sought to protect.
Yet even though the primary motive of Ganondorf had been fulfilled, Xu was still an important chess piece on the board; after all, the powers that were had conceded to Ganondorf’s demands once, so why not again? It was then decided in the background that Xu would have to be hidden away to prevent Ganondorf from finding her, but doing so would hinder the efforts to defeat Ganondorf since she was such a major player in the fight. After much in-game drama, a logical compromise was formed: Smuggle her away and transform her into a Sheikah.
At this point, I was incredibly excited because I would get to play one of the few Sheikah characters in the realm. (The other two were Impa and Sheik, and even Sheik was Zelda half the time.) But as with all characters, they must be defined entities; after all, one simply cannot play a character if you don’t know who the character is. (Or to quote Seth MacFarlane’s commencement address at Harvard, “Do not create a television series about a group of people who crash land on an island if you don’t know where you’re going with it. Don’t just make it up as you go along, because if you do it’s going to start sucking very quickly.”) So I had to figure out who my new character, the Sheikah Aekorra, would be, what she would be like.
Unlike Hylians, Gorons, Zoras, Rito, Dekus, Gerudo, Kokiri, and Fairies, you don’t really have a huge population of characters to base a new character off of; of Sheikah there are two, and one of them, depending upon how you cut the mustard, doesn’t count. But even then, Impa and Sheik are merely two data points in what really is meant to be an entire race of people; the two of them don’t define what it means to be Sheikah. Case in point, if you picked any two Hylians at random–even if they were Link and Zelda, I’m sure you’d quickly find that there are plenty of other Hylians that don’t fit that mold. (Just look at the creepy researcher over at the lake. Eyeball frogs… a delicacy? Ewww.) So I was left with several gaping big questions that I needed to answer. Who were the Sheikah? What was the history of their culture? Why were they so tied into Hyrule’s Royal Family? What abilities could they have? What were the limitations of their race? And most importantly… Was Zelda truly a Sheikah boy, or was she merely playing dress-up?
When all else fails, one turns to the source.
I should’ve known quite early on that referencing the game would be extremely helpful in my quest. Had Nintendo given us the high-hanging fruit during the game, the real meat of the answer, I would already have know the answers to these questions. But unfortunately, the secrets of the Shadow People are perhaps the most well-kept mysteries in the Zelda continuity, even more preserved than such controversies as the timeline, the Zora-Rito connection, and, yes, just what the heck is up with Tingle. (They’re even trying to answer that last one!) Sheikah references in Ocarina are far and few between… and they’re nonexistent in every other game. Yet we do know a few things, for what they’re worth. Sheik is obviously a master of the Deku Nut, but even this–as we have seen following the Water Temple–merely gives him the chance to run and hide so that Link cannot find him, which then brings up their ease of stealth–also obvious. We also know that Impa sealed Bongo Bongo down in the well at one point, showing that they have some sort of magical talent as well; not surprising considering how Sheik knows all this fancy magic mumbo-jumbo.
So none of these traits give us any “real” answers. Those don’t say anything about Sheikah in general, just Sheik and Impa in specific. And that’s when we have to return to ye olde famouse Ocarina of Time QuoteFAQ and see if it yields any light as to the nature of the mysterious Sheikah.
As far as quotes go, this… is about as good as it gets. We get a few embellishments from other sources on this. For instance, Impa mentions that “[w]e Sheikah have served the royalty of Hyrule from generation to generation as attendants [emphasis mine]” (§5.19), but this is honestly a good half of what we have to go on. We knew they served the Royal Family for some time, but the mystery of why never seems to be answered. We also know that that there aren’t many Sheikah left these days. (If you hadn’t figured out that one by the sheer lack of Sheikah characters in the game, perhaps I should suggest an easier game for you to fall in love with.) So yay, we really have nothing yet.
Now this juicy bit is actually a lot more useful than it seems. Now Impa would probably slap me for even daring to guess this (Rule Number Five of Zelda Club: Never get a Sheikah mad at you), but my hunch is that Impa is probably in her mid- to upper-30s in years. Yet somehow she managed to gain enough respect within her clan by this age or before to open up Kakariko to the common Hylian. But wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute! This line suggests that there used to be a whole village of Sheikah in Kakariko; more importantly, this had to have existed there… rather recently. You’ve got this whole flock of Shadow Folk in a village, the village then gets opened up to Hylians… and then the Sheikah disappeared! What happened? Did they die? Did they leave? Did they go into hiding? Did they intermarry with Hylians? Well, we know that one too… kind of… sort of…
As before, the opening of Kakariko was to have have happened recently, right? I mean, people knew that Impa was the one to open their town to them… but they thought that all the Sheikah were dead? Impa is still alive and kicking! (Hopefully not kicking me.) And they know it! They know that Impa lives at the castle. And they know it’s the same Impa who opened the city to the common Hylian. What gives here? Now they might not have known that Impa was a Sheikah, but then what authority would Impa have had to open it up to non-Sheikah? Back and forth, forward and back, and eventually your head spins. This leads to an impasse, statements that… want to give more information about the Sheikah’s past… but cannot give that information. Thus, an easy 90 percent of our questions get discarded as things we can never know.
All that’s left, it seems, is the question of whether or not Sheik was really physically Zelda or physically Sheik (as in not Zelda). We get only a single quote to answer that:
Only to get this sick sense of a vagueness. Now I will admit that this quote makes it seem very much that Zelda was merely masquerading around as a Sheikah the entire time. (In other words, Zelda was playing Final Fantasy X-2.) Yet there are those who would easily leap out to say that “disguise” and “passed myself off as” are… yes… ambiguous. Literally, the answer is clear, but metaphorically–and we are talking about a girl who has visions of the future and “passed herself off as” a Sheikah for seven years–the two phrases could very well be loaded with hidden meaning, maybe even a titbit of irony. But for those disbelievers out there who believe that last bit is a bunch of crock, the evidence that gets recited that would support such an interpretation comes from a different source: The Ocarina of Time manga.
Now, this is, by standard acceptance, treated as a non-canon source; the games indeed supercede anything the book says. However, being as how the game does not specify “clearly” the intention, many people will refer to the manga to perhaps get a suggestion for what the game might be implying; after all, Nintendo did approve these things. Of course, since the books are in Japanese only, we are only able to go off of the various fantranslations out there. However, both of the translations I am aware of read virtually the same:
Thus, some say, this could be the very “disguise” they are referring to in-game. Is it? No one knows for sure. We don’t get to see it transpire before our very eyes. But I think there’s another piece of evidence that’s quite important to consider, and that’s Ganondorf.
Could Ganondorf, the wielder of the Triforce of Power, be so easily deceived by a simple disguise?
I have my two answers to that question, but as for you… well… discuss that one amongst yourselves.Follow This Entry | Leave a Response
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