The Hero's Shade
|First appearance||Twilight Princess (2006)|
Great Deku Tree (Adoptive Father/Parental Guardian)
|Alternate form(s)||Golden Wolf|
|Alternate form of||Spoiler:|
- "A sword wields no strength unless the hand that holds it has courage. Remember those words..."
- — Hero's Shade
The Hero's Shade is a character from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Once a famed swordsman of Hyrule, he is, according to the Hyrule Historia, the Hero of Time from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask that died lamenting that he was never remembered as a hero, as well as not passing down his skills to the next generation.
Partially to ease his regrets, the Hero's Shade teaches Link his hidden skills that can only be passed down through those carrying "the hero's bloodline", seeing potential in his descendant.
He manifests himself as a spectral golden wolf in the world of the living, and as an armored, skeletal warrior in the strange otherworld of the Ghostly Ether. The Hero's Shade's left eye glows bright red, while his right eye is missing; as a wolf, it is closed and appears scarred, while as a warrior, it is unlit and transparent.
Other design concepts and illustrations depict different versions of Hero's Shade, including a Samurai version, a twilight version and even a female version.
It is shown in Twilight Princess that the Hero of Time as the Hero's Shade becomes much more mature sometime after his adventures in Termina. He also seems to have developed a rather sombre attitude and speaks archaically (in a manner similar to his adoptive father, the Great Deku Tree). When Link first encounters his ancestor however, the ghostly hero offers to teach Link his skills to save Hyrule showing that he is still good in nature. He also seems care for Link and called him "my child" before moving on, showing that he fully accepts Link as his descendant.
The Hero's Shade is a powerful being, impervious to attacks, although he can be knocked down during training sessions, presumably due to his status as a spectral figure, with even the Master Sword being incapable of damaging him (which makes sense given he has neither an evil spirit and the fact he once wielded the legendary blade himself). His skills as a swordsman are noteworthy, possessing great knowledge of sword technique. He also has a degree of superhuman strength, which all incarnations of Link past their pre-teen years naturally have. The Hero's Shade not only has the ability to replicate himself, which he uses during training sessions involving multiple enemies, but can launch large fireballs from the end of his sword (in a manner reminiscent to the iconic Sword Beam). The Hero's Shade also possesses other abilities such as transporting Link to the Ghostly Ether and turning into a golden wolf form when he passes into Hyrule.
When Link, a young man from Ordon Village, learns of his destiny to overcome the evils of Zant, usurper to the throne of the Twilight Realm, the Hero's Shade sees the potential for a master swordsman within him. In his golden wolf form, he approaches Link on his way to the Forest Temple, and transports the youth to the Ghostly Ether.
In the Ghostly Ether, the Hero's Shade offers Link his knowledge of the sword. After teaching him the first skill, the Ending Blow, he tells Link that in order to meet him again, he must approach a Howling Stone in wolf form and howl the notes that the stone echoes. When Link successfully does so, the Hero's Shade will appear somewhere in the land of Hyrule as a golden wolf. Link can then approach the wolf in his human form to enter the Ghostly Ether and learn a new skill. However, before he is allowed to learn a new one, Link must prove his mastery of the previously learned skill by utilizing it against the Hero's Shade, who seems to grow frustrated with Link when he forgets or has a hard time mastering a skill.
When Link has learned six of the Hidden Skills, the Hero's Shade makes his final appearance in front of Hyrule Castle and teaches Link the Great Spin Attack. His regrets eased, the Hero's Shade then passes on to the world of spirits. Before moving on, he also states his confidence in his descendant and encourages him. Interestingly, even though Link seemingly blacks out during his sessions with the Hero's Shade, Midna never remarks on it, nor does she seem to notice anything amiss, this implies that the training sessions are instantaneous. It is also interesting to note that Link turns back to human form during the training sessions, seemingly without using the Master Sword.
In the Castle Graveyard of Twilight Princess, there is a notable tombstone stating that a "cursed swordsman" rests beneath a "sacred tree." This could actually be referring to the Hero of Time himself.