I’ve been taking a break from Twilight Princess, but before Hyrule recedes too far from my mind I want to get down my thoughts on the Hero’s Shade, who teaches Link a total of seven special sword skills.
The process of obtaining these skills is somewhat circuitous. Link will occasionally come across small gray monuments called “howling stones.” If he transforms into a wolf and listens closely, the sound of the wind blowing through the circles cut into the stone will resemble a melody. If he memorizes this melody and howls it (in the most horribly tone-deaf manner imaginable), he will be transported to a spirit realm separate from but similar to the twilight, where he will howl a duet with a golden wolf. After a painful bout of cacophony, the golden wolf will tell him to “take sword in hand and find me,” marking his location on Link’s map. Link then has to go to this location, where the golden wolf will be waiting to transport him once more to the spirit realm. When he is not a glowing sparkly dog, the Hero’s Shade is a gross zombie in rotting armor.
This is what the Hero’s Shade says to Link after he has mastered the final skill:
Although I accepted life as the hero, I could not convey the lessons of that life to those who came after. At last, I have eased my regrets.
You who have marched through countless foes, each mightier than the last… You, who now gaze to the future with vision unclouded…
Surely you can restore Hyrule to its stature of yore as the chosen land of the gods.
Go and do not falter, my child!
It’s been argued that the Hero’s Shade is the Link from Ocarina of Time, whose life was empty of purpose after he was sent back into the child timeline. This is what Hyrule Historia (page 179) has to say:
The ghost of the hero who teaches Link his secrets. Some theorize that the fact that he holds his sword in his left hand indicates he is actually Link from Ocarina of Time.
And that’s it. “Some theorize” is not exactly the most resounding statement of authority. There are three other designs on the page: Twilight Version, Samurai Version, and Swordswoman (who has hilariously impractical armor even though she’s a ghost zombie). So I guess this guy could be Link from Ocarina of Time… or not.
In any case, howling is the only “instrument” that Twilight Princess Link has. If human Link is as tone-deaf as wolf Link, this is probably for the best.
( Header image by Aly K. Sasagawa on DeviantArt )