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Paya (パーヤ Pāya?) is a character from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She is a young Sheikah woman who can be found at Kakariko Village in the region of West Necluda. She is the granddaughter of Impa.

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

Biography

Background

Paya is the granddaughter of Sheikah Elder Impa and grandniece of the director of the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab Purah both of who where young women during the Great Calamity and worked alongside King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule and Princess Zelda in preparation for Calamity Ganon's return serving the Royal Family of Hyrule as the Sheikah had done for generations upon generations. Impa and Purah were responsible for taking care of the injured Hylian Champion Link whom was placed in the Slumber of Restoration inside the Shrine of Resurrection under Zelda's orders. After Zelda sealed herself and Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle, Impa and Purah split up to ensure at least one would survive to aid Link as the Yiga Clan hunted down Ganon's enemies. Impa remained in Kakariko Village to lead her people and guard the Sheikah Heirloom passed down through their family. She also cared for Link's Champion's Tunic to return to him when he awoke though neither she, Purah, or Zelda knew how long it would be though they feared the process would rob Link of his memories though Zelda and Impa developed a plan to help restore them.

Impa led the Sheikah over the next century becoming Sheikah Elder and even started a family as she patiently awaited Link's return. Eventually her granddaughter was born and was named Paya after her Papaya seed-shaped birthmark. Throughout her life Paya heard stories of how Impa and Princess Zelda conspired together to save the Hylian Champion's life in the wake of the Great Calamity. In time Paya grew into a beautiful yet shy young woman who helped care for her elderly grandmother and assist her in guarding the Sheikah Heirloom until the prophecy relating to it was fulfilled. The prophecy foretold a hero would be chosen by the heirloom to receive a blessing. At some point Paya attempted to see if she could fulfill the prophecy to free her family of the burden of watching over it by attempting to use it to activate the ancient dias near Cotera's Great Fairy Fountain but failed. Paya also prayed everyday for her village's peace and protection from evil though this along with her other duties meant she often stayed awake until morning before going to bed though she herself was dedicated to caring for Impa, the Heirloom, and prayer considering her loss of sleep inconsequential.

A century after the Great Calamity, Paya began to worry her grandmother might not live to see Link awaken and restore peace to Hyrule, thus began praying that Link would awaken so Impa could aid him in his quest to free Princess Zelda who had been fighting to keep Ganon under seal.

Seek Out Impa

Little did Paya know her prayers would soon be answered as Princess Zelda telepathically contacted Link and begged him to awaken as her seal would not hold for much longer. Link awoke with amnesia as Impa, Zelda, and Purah had feared but fortunately was guided telepathically by Zelda, the Sheikah Slate, and a mysterious Old Man who eventually revealed himself to be the spirit of King Rhoam. After explaining Link's past and the Great Calamity Rhoam tasked Link with the Quest to "Destroy Ganon" though suggested he "Seek Out Impa" in Kakariko Village as she had been a trusted royal adviser to Rhoam and close confidant of Zelda. Link travelled to Kakariko Village and was allowed to pass by Impa's bodyguards Cado and Dorian upon recognizing the Sheikah Slate. Paya was sweeping outside on the deck of the house she shared with her grandmother when Link arrived. At first she was somewhat suspicious of this mysterious newcomer before recognizing the Sheikah Slate an ancient relic once owned by Princess Zelda and realized Link was the person she had been praying would appear and immediately became timid and shy within his presence upon realizing his identity and respectfully began referring to him as Master Link. She told him to pay her no held and welcomed him to speak with her grandmother who had been waiting patiently for this moment. Privately Paya was happy her prayers had been answered though was immediately taken with how handsome he was admiring his golden blonde hair the very sight of which caused her heart to race. Despite his apparent amnesia, Paya found her grandmother was overjoyed by Link's return noting in her diary she hadn't seen Impa so happy before.

Secret Crush

However though Paya herself admittedly was not great with interacting with young men she eventually was able to look Link in the eyes while speaking to him though found herself becoming embarrassed as she found herself mesmerized by his gorgeous blue eyes, though unbeknownst to her she was not the first as a young Zora Princess Mipha had also been captivated by the four year old Link's blue eyes over a century earlier. However Paya being new to such feelings initially failed to realize her growing infatuation with Link. As time went on she wondered if Link had feelings for Zelda and despite her growing infatuation was apparently supportive of them becoming a couple even though the thought caused a pain in her heart. However Paya assumed she was ill and attempted to acquire medicine for her symptoms from Impa who simply sat with a grin on her face. When she went to Cado and Dorian to ask what Impa's response meant they simply grinned without answering her and as a result failed to get any medicine for her perceived illness.

However eventually she came to realize she had fallen in love with the Hylian Knight and spoke with Impa about her revaluation understanding the reason behind her behavior as she understood her granddaughter had become smitten with Link. Paya was overjoyed to know such feelings even if they were never reciprocated by Link himself as simply knowing him brought joy to her heart. However she continued to hide her true feelings out of embarrassment and shyness, becoming flustered if Link spoke to her without body armor or asked her certain questions such as the Sheikah talisman tattooed on her forehead, about herself, or the location of her birthmark. She also became extremely fearful about the prospect of Link reading her diary in which she made her private feelings and infatuation with Link abundantly clear, downplaying its significance to him if spoken to while writing in it though becomes visibly terrified if she finds him about to read it while nervously begging him to stop while continuing to downplay its contents as uninteresting.

However she wishes to be helpful to Link aware that he bears the heavy burden of freeing the Divine Beasts and defeating Ganon to restore the lost Kingdom of Hyrule. She prays for his success and does her best to answer his questions even promising someday to tell him the location of her birthmark when Impa forces him to drop the subject out of respect for her granddaughter's privacy. She also informs him about the Sheikah Heirloom and its prophecy suspecting Link may be the hero it speaks of but keeps her suspicions to herself. She also explains the significance of the mark on her forehead after initially freaking out thinking their is something wrong with her face before remembering the Sheikah talisman tattooed on her forehead.

Personality

Paya comment (Breath of the Wild)

Paya's shy reaction to Link while armorless

Paya is portrayed as helpful and eager to share what information she can with Link, though her timid and bashful nature tends to get in the way of this. She will often stutter and cover her face when speaking to him. Judging from her interactions with him and the entries in her diary, she appears to have a tremendous crush on Link, and she later expresses as love in her diary. Paya will also lose control of herself in a fit of stuttering and pleading if Link talks to her without wearing body armor (he does not need to be completely armorless to trigger this reaction), as she is overcome by the sight of Link being immodestly dressed and begs him to get dressed though this is apparently due to finding Link attractive as she fawns over his appearance in her diary.

She is embarrassed by the location of her Papaya seed-shaped birthmark to the point Impa forces Link to change the subject though Paya hopes she will have the courage to tell him as she promises to tell him its location someday. She values her privacy as she tells Link to ignore her diary insisting it is unintesting and downplaying it significance when it contains her private thoughts and feelings for Link indicating she is embarrassed by the thought of Link reading it though she may also fear possible rejection by Link should he learn her true feelings.

Paya is also very devoted to her village and the people that reside in it. In the evenings, she devotes herself to prayer as a means to help protect the village and polishes the Guardian Deities statues and helps Impa guard the Sheikah Heirloom. She admits she doesn't understand why some people don't like the rain as she herself considers it a blessing as it nourishes all plant life and sounds soothing, though ironically she herself will take shelter indoors when it rains as she lacks an umbrella hat like those worn by other Sheikah. She cares greatly for her grandmother and even prayed that Link would awaken not just for Hyrule's sake but Impa's sake as well as she had waited a century and Paya apparently worried that she might not live to see it. She was relieved when Link finally awoke and was happy to see her grandmother in high spirits upon meeting Link after a century that she hardly cared about his amnesia though Impa, Zelda, and Purah all expected the Slumber of Restoration would rob Link of his memory.

She thinks highly of Princess Zelda due to her grandmother's close bond with the Princess and their tribe's history of serving the Royal Family of Hyrule. She wonders if Link has feelings for Zelda and notes in diary she thinks they'd make a splendid couple and would give her full support to such a pairing though also notes the idea makes her heart hurt failing to realize her feelings for Link while Impa, Cado, and Dorian recognize it and simply smile when she innocently tries to acquire medicine for the pain in her heart, though eventually Paya realizes her true feelings though she is fine if her feelings are never reciprocated simply happy to have known the joy of love demonstrating emotional maturity. She also has no problem with the fact Link is technically over one hundred years old which Paya herself is fully aware of, though this could be attributed to the fact biologically he and her are around the same age as Link's aging had been halted while he was in medical stasis.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Etymology

"You...I...Me...You want to know my st-story? Well... My name is Paya. Th-the reason I was named Paya is because I have a birthmark shaped like a papaya seed..."
— Paya

Paya says that her name comes from a papaya seed-shaped birthmark, though she seems embarrassed by its location. She will refuse to reveal the birthmark's location when Link asks and Impa will request he drop the subject out of respect for her granddaughter's privacy though Paya promises to tell him about it someday. She uses the name "Papaya" as her alias for her entry in the Journal of Various Worries.