If you’ve ever searched about the plot of The Legend of Zelda, you’ve come across in-depth explanations about the multiple timelines and reincarnation of characters. This can get quite confusing, but we are here to help make sense of it all.
Here, we are going to take a look at Link, Hylia, and Demise. These three are the central figures in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which is the first game that takes place in the timeline.
As we will be looking at the plot of Skyward Sword and other games in the series, this will contain spoilers.
Hylia And Demise
Hylia is a Goddess that is present throughout several games in the series. Often, she is associated with the royal family as a distant ancestor. Prior to the start of Skyward Sword, Hylia was the protector of the Triforce, which was given to her by the Golden Goddesses.
These are essentially three deities that represent each fragment of the Triforce. Din is the Goddess of Power, Nayru is the Goddess of wisdom, and Farore is the Goddess of Courage. While Hylia was protecting the Triforce, Demise rose from the ground to take the Triforce. With it, Demise was planning to rule the world.
Originally, Demise was a diety that conquered time. After the Golden Goddesses left the world and handed over the Triforce to Hylia, he began to create a demon army to bring to the Surface. Because of this, nearly every enemy is linked back to Demise.
To protect the Triforce and the people living on the land, Hylia created a land mass to sit above the clouds, which served as a barrier between the Sky and Surface, where Demise was. Eventually, this became known as Skyloft, which is where you are at the start of Skyward Sword.
On the Surface, Hylia battled Demise with the Goddess Sword and soon sealed Demise away. Although he was sealed, Hylia feared that he would return and planned for this. The Goddess Sword was created and inhabited by Fi, a spirit that Hylia also created. This sword was to be given to the Chosen Hero, with Fi to guide them in the event of Demise returning.
After carefully preparing, Hylia transferred her power to a mortal to ensure that the Triforce would still be used against Demise. Hylia wasn’t reborn right away through; in the distant future, she was reborn as Zelda, who we know as central figure in nearly every game.
Demise, on the other hand, remained sealed, but he took on the form of the Imprisoned, a giant monster that appears throughout the game.
Unlike Hylia and Demise, Link seems to be a mortal who is the Chosen Hero. The version of Link in Skyward Sword seems to be the original Link, with no other reincarnations coming before him.
Of course, this has never been officially confirmed, so there are several theories that argue for or against this.
To make things even more confusing, there is a story mentioned in Skyward Sword that long ago, Hylia gave her chosen hero a ‘sailcloth’. This could be similar to the sailcloth that was given to Link after winning the Wing Ceremony. This hero isn’t named, but there is a chance that this was the first iteration of Link.
There is a possibility that this story is about Zelda giving Link the sailcloth. Rather than being a tale of old, it could also be a prophecy that is fulfilled in Skyward Sword.
The Sealing Of Demise
As mentioned earlier, Hylia managed to seal Demise. Throughout most of Skyward Sword, he stayed sealed away and not present in his diety form.
Although Demise was sealed, the spirit of his sword, Ghirahim, remained unsealed. Throughout the game, Ghirahim serves as an antagonist on the Surface. Here, he has plans to resurrect Demise.
This plan is the central plot to Skyward Sword; however, ultimately, Ghirahim fails at resurrecting his master, who is also attempting to escape the Sealed Grounds to no avail.
Traveling Through The Gate Of Time
In a final attempt to resurrect Demise, Ghirahim takes Zelda through the Gate of Time to the Sealed Temple to perform a resurrection ritual.
Ghirahim is defeated by Link; however, the resurrection of Demise is still happening, and eventually, the Imprisoned absorbs Zelda’s soul, so it can become Demise. This serves as the final battle in the game, where you must defeat Demise.
Beginning Of The Cycle
After Link defeats Demise in the Sealed Temple, Demise says that his incarnation shall be reborn, along with the Goddess and Hero. At this point, he is then sealed in the Goddess Sword, which is now known as the Master Sword.
This is the start of the cycle of rebirth, which consists of the resurrections of Zelda, Link, and Demise. Rather than being resurrected as Demise, he becomes known as Ganon (as well as Ganondorf, which is his human form).
These three become the main characters in pretty much every Zelda game in the timeline.
It’s important to remember that the individual person isn’t reincarnating; their ‘essence’ is. Although it may seem like Link himself is reincarnating, it’s actually the spirit of courage, otherwise known as the Spirit of the Hero. This seems to hold true for the other two as well. Because of this, Link has no memories of his previous reincarnations, and each game feels like a ‘new’ Link.
Zelda And Hylia
There is some debate on whether or not Zelda is always the reincarnation of Hylia, but unfortunately, there is no clear answer.
In most of the games, we know Zelda as a princess, but this is not the case for Skyward Sword. During the game, she is just a childhood friend of Link and the daughter of the headmaster of the Knight Academy.
At the end of Skyward Sword, Zelda and Link go on to establish the Kingdom of Hyrule, which is present in nearly every game. From then on, princesses born into the royal family are named Zelda, which we learn in The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
This begs the question, is Zelda actually being reincarnated, or is the spirit of Hylia just being passed down through the royal bloodline? So far, this question hasn’t been answered, but there is a chance that is a combination of both.
The spirit of Hylia may reside in Zelda, as well as the bloodline tracing back to the original Zelda. This may be why Zelda seems to gain power throughout the games in the timeline. By the time Breath of the Wild occurs, Zelda has the power to contain Ganon in Hyrule Castle.