The Hero's Shade
|First appearance||Twilight Princess (2006)|
- "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, and calls Link of this era 'son' due to being his ancestor. This is the reason why he passes down the secrets of the sword to this Link. 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.
The Hero's Shade is impervious to attacks and cannot be damaged, although he can be knocked down during training sessions. He also possesses the ability to replicate himself, which he uses during training sessions involving multiple enemies, can launch large fireballs from the end of his sword.
Other design concepts and illustrations depict different versions of Hero's Shade, including a Samurai version, a twilight version and even a female version.
- "You may be fated to become the hero of legend...but your current power would disgrace the proud green of the hero's tunic you wear. You must use your courage to seek power...and find it you must. Only then will you become the hero for whom this world despairs. If you do find true courage, and you wish to save Hyrule from the horrors it now faces...Then you will be worthy to receive the secrets I hold!"
- — Hero's Shade
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. 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.
Since the Hero's Shade seems to be missing his right eye, that could mean the Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask later suffered an injury that made him lose his right eye. Also to be noted is that since the Hero's Shade seems to be wearing armor that resembles the one the Knights of Hyrule wear, that could mean he later got more affiliated with the Royal Family of Hyrule. Indeed, 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. This may become further explored in a future Legend of Zelda game.