Traitor of Light: The First Sheikah

Axle the BeastJuly 15th, 2011 by Axle the Beast

Sheik, the Traitor of LightSheik is a well known and in many ways controversial character. A fan favorite character, Sheik was Zelda’s disguise in Ocarina of Time. Fans still debate about many aspects of the character, as well as aspects of the mysterious Sheikah race, the enigmatic Shadow Folk who serve the Royal Family of Hyrule. Due to their mysterious yet important past, many fans have discussed the possibility of them appearing in Skyward Sword. I’ve written a theory article about Skyward Sword before, titled The Dark Tribe: Ancient Enemy of Zelda and Skyward Sword. Since then, my thoughts on the matters discussed in the article have differed somewhat. In particular, my take on the Sheikah and their role in the story of the Dark Tribe and Skyward Sword. And so I’ve written this speculative article about a proposed event that may or may not happen in some fashion in Skyward Sword. It involves the reappearance of Sheik as an actual character, and the formation of the Sheikah from traitors of the Dark Tribe.

In the past I’ve detailed how the Sheikah clearly have some kind of involvement with the Dark Tribe, but I have also maintained that the Dark Tribe were probably not a single race. I’ve since changed my mind on that, and have decided that the Dark Tribe was probably entirely made up of Sheikah, and I also think that Sheik was among its members.

I believe the Sheikah relate to the Dark Tribe for a few reasons. First, they are referred to as the “Shadow Folk” which is similar to the Dark Tribe’s status as people who dabble in evil magic, and similarly the Shadow Temple seems to be corrupted by evil and violent spirits. The Sheikah also have an eye symbol. This is significant in two ways. One, the Dark Tribe have frequently used eye symbols of various designs and two, the primary eye design used by the Dark Tribe is identical to the Sheikah eye save for the new teardrop pattern on the Sheikah version. Furthermore, the Sheikah bear many thematic similarities (particularly the use of eyes) to the Twili or Dark Interlopers, who are actually the Dark Tribe.

It’s natural to think at this point that the race of the Dark Tribe was the same as the Sheikah, but that some of them were banished to the Twilight Realm where they changed into the Twili, as Midna described:

They were banished. They were chased across the sacred lands of Hyrule and driven into another realm by the goddesses.

It was another world entirely… The antithesis of Hyrule, where the sun shines bright.

Its denizens became shadows that could not mingle with the light.

Eventually, most came to call it the Twilight Realm, and from it, none could return to the world of light…

The Sheikah Eye. Notice the teardrop.Thus, by definition, the Twili had to be another race at one point, and given that both use eye symbols frequently, the connection is a natural one. This is further supported by Ghirahim in the latest Skyward Sword news. This “demon lord” physically resembles a Sheikah, with tanned skin and white hair, and a Twili, with the style of his clothing and magic. It is almost strikingly obvious when you examine Ghirahim that he is both a Sheikah and a Dark Interloper; that the two are one and the same.

So where does Sheik from Ocarina of Time come in? The character known as “Sheik” is in reality an alias of Zelda’s, as she dons a disguise to hide from Ganondorf and help Link save Hyrule. In this form she mimics a male persona. The wild debate on whether she physically becomes a male or not is irrelevant. Clearly the part that Zelda was playing was a male. “His” official concept artwork and in-game model depict a male physique and appearance, although clearly it was actually a female (Zelda) playing his part. Because of this, Sheik is not actually a real person, but a character devised by Zelda so she could move freely while in hiding. Right?

I think it’s very clear that this was their intention when they made Ocarina of Time. But in light of later games and their connections between the Sheikah and the Dark Tribe, I speculate that Nintendo will change this in Skyward Sword. What was not originally intended can now become a fascinating plot twist in the prequel game.

My proposition is that sometime, either during, before or after the events of Skyward Sword, a member of the Dark Tribe (of which Ghirahim will be a member) known as Sheik will betray them. He will betray the forces of darkness and gather a traitor legion of Dark Interlopers to side with the light and fight against their evil brethren. After Skyward Sword, his followers will take on the name “Sheikah”, after their leader, and will serve the Royal Family in atonement for their crimes, adding the teardrop to the Dark Tribe’s eye symbol to represent their regret for their sins. And for turning against the Dark Tribe, the Sheikah were not given the same punishment as them, which was banishment to the Twilight Realm where they became the Twili. But what proof do I have in support of this theory?

Let me start off with Sheik’s name. If you were to go undercover and come up with an alias for some reason, what would it be? A good alias is a logical, believable identity that feels natural to any onlooker, and what fits those requirements would differ from situation to situation. It would have to be a name that sounds reasonably normal. As a human going undercover, how about naming your alias “Huma”? Huma’s a good name, right? It makes total sense. No, it doesn’t, it only drops a letter at the end of the name of your species. “Sheik” has the same problem. It’s “Sheikah” with two letters dropped. That doesn’t really make much sense in any context.

So why would Zelda choose it? Perhaps she was taking on the alias of someone who really existed. Perhaps it is a real name, because it’s a famous name? Perhaps the name that the race known as the Sheikah was actually named after?

Another aspect of the name is how it fits in with some of what’s known about the naming scheme of Dark Tribe characters. Agahnim is generally considered to be a member of the Dark Tribe (and he has the teardrop-less version of the eye symbol), and he appears to wear clothing that vaguely resembles Arabic garb. In the real world, the name “Sheik” is a term for the leader of an Arab village or family. Finally, and I’ll admit this is the least substantial connection, Ghirahim’s name looks very similar to Agahnim’s, and the pronounciation of the final syllable (“neem”) is at least vaguely reminiscent in my mind to the Arabic theme. The connections between these three names is a little much to ignore. Yes, the only KNOWN Sheikah, Impa and Impaz don’t match this name theme at all, but Impa was a character from the original Legend of Zelda and Impaz was named after her, so it’s hard to say if it’s completely relevant.

Known members of the Dark TribeThen there’s the Sheikah’s servitude to the Royal Family and, once again, the teardrop on their eye symbol. Why do the Sheikah serve the Royal Family of Hyrule? Why are their entire lives devoted to serving that family, in every game? Were the Sheikah conquered by Hyrule and made into slaves? Incredibly unlikely, as Hyrule has always been shown to be a benevolent kingdom that would never do something that horrible. So the only reason left that I can think of is it’s a debt. They owe the Royal Family a debt for some reason. Since Skyward Sword will almost certainly show the forming of the Royal Family, it is the perfect time to explain why the Shiekah serve them, and them betraying the Dark Tribe is the perfect explanation. The teardrop on the eye symbol has a similar story, in that it makes no sense for the Sheikah to have a symbol that is completely identical to the Dark Tribe’s eye with the addition of a teardrop unless they somehow regretted something. I’ll admit that these two things do not directly support Sheik’s presence, but they do support the rest of the theory.

Some people have proposed that in Ocarina of Time, Sheik was a real person that Zelda was somehow becoming or switching places with when she disguised herself as him. I do not support this theory, but it isn’t in any more contradiction to my speculation on Sheik’s presence in Skyward Sword than other theories about the nature of Zelda’s disguise.

And that is my theory. Will it really happen in Skyward Sword? There’s no way for me to know for sure. I’m certain that this wasn’t Nintendo’s intention when they first make Ocarina of Time, but I also don’t think the Dark Tribe was originally intended to be as big as it is now when they first alluded to them in A Link to the Past. Just because they didn’t originally intend something doesn’t mean Nintendo won’t make the connection and decide to use it in a later game. This theory about Shiek, the Traitor of Light, seems like a very reasonable connection and I think it would be brilliant in Skyward Sword, perfectly matching up with established information about him and his race. I can’t say for certain if Nintendo has decided to use this idea for Skyward Sword, but I think that if they intend to take the storyline of the game seriously it would have be wise to do so. It would bring an old character into a great new role that is valuable both as fanservice but also in bringing the stories of the Zelda series together and crafting an excellent world and plot.

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