It’s no secret that the Zelda universe is filled with many different races, some humanoid, like the Gerudo and the Kokiri, and some with traits from other creatures, like the Zoras and the Mogmas. And while none of the races have any extensive backstory behind their presence in the land of Hyrule, it seems that there could be one for the the Sheikah, also known as the Messengers of the Goddess. Through many subtle clues and much research, one can see the shadow of a story behind the Sheikah race, and it is, unfortunately, not a happy one.
Beginning with the first game in the timeline, Skyward Sword, before the humans were lifted into the Sky, the Sheikah, along with the other five tribes inhabiting the Surface (Gorons, Mogmas, Kikwis, Parella, and the Ancient Robots), protected the Surface from Demise, the Demon King, under the banner of Hylia, the Goddess, who was entrusted with the sacred relic of the three Golden Goddesses, the Triforce. The humans were lifted into the Sky with the Triforce and Goddess Sword, while the remaining tribes waged war against Demise. After sealing away Demise, Hylia suffered grave injuries. Knowing that her seal would not last forever, Hylia left the Sheikah behind in order to protect and watch over the Surface. Since the Sheikah are a long-lived race of people (evidenced by Impa in Skyward Sword and Impaz in Twilight Princess), they were the best candidates for carrying on Hylia’s legacy while protecting the land.
Hundreds of years passed, and the memory of the Triforce, along with the Surface, faded into legend. Hylia, having given up her immortality in the past, was reborn as a mortal named Zelda in the floating town of Skyloft, and her hero, Link, born alongside her, would eventually become a great hero, and bring the town of Skyloft, along with the humans, back down to the surface world after defeating Demise. So, what happened to the Sheikah after the humans returned to the Surface?
“Here is gathered Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred…”
This quote, whispered by a spirit in a wall within the Shadow Temple, may tell us more about the history of the Sheikah than once thought. Despite their significant contributions in aiding the revival of the Surface, by Impa protecting Zelda from Ghirahim and his demonic minions as well as aiding Link in his quest for the Triforce, the Sheikah seemed to fade into obscurity for a long while in Hyrule’s history. But did they fade out by their own desire, or were they merely forgotten as society was rebuilt on the Surface?
The humans, now calling themselves Hylians, built a new world on the Surface, transforming the land into Hyrule. Most of the Sheikah opted to stay and help form the Hylian Royal Family, ever-loyal to Hylia and her descendants, though a small minority of Sheikah expressed displeasure in being treated merely as squires to the members of the Royal Family. To add to their growing anger, they also felt cheated that the Hylians only seemed to honor Link as the savior of the land. His legend, carried on by the Royal Family, shows the humans in a very positive light, despite the fact that the vast majority of the humans did nothing to combat the threat of Demise, and seems to omit the valiant contributions of Impa, along with the other five tribes that first sealed Demise away centuries before Link’s arrival. Because of this, the Sheikah began to resent the Royal Family, who should rightfully have carried on their legend, as well as Link’s.
Throughout the Zelda series, the Sheikah have been shown with the ability to wield magic, as well as craft magical items (such as the Mask of Truth and the Lens of Truth). By using their magical prowess, some of the Sheikah, angered by the indifferent treatment they received from the Hylians, opposed the Hylian Royal Family. After crafting and utilizing objects of considerable dark power, such as Majora’s Mask and the Fused Shadows, the rebelling Sheikah cut themselves off from the Royal Family, and united under a new symbol (the tilted eye, rather than the eye with the teardrop, which is seen on both Majora’s Mask and on the Fused Shadows in their respective games).
The rebelling Sheikah, now referred to as the “Dark Interlopers”, tried to establish dominion over the Sacred Realm in order to seize control of the Triforce. In their crusade to take back what they believed was owed to them, the corrupted Sheikah became ruled by their own power, and the Golden Goddesses ordered the Light Spirits, Ordona, Faron, Eldin and Lanayru, to intervene upon the Interlopers. The Interlopers were driven out to the scorched wasteland of the Gerudo Desert, and, eventually, were banished from the land of Hyrule all together. The Light Spirits sealed away their dark artifacts and forced the Interlopers into exile in an empty realm that would eventually become known as the Twilight Realm. Due to the Interloper’s past actions in aiding Hyrule’s creation, the Goddesses decided to leave one link between the two realms, the Mirror of Twilight, should the corrupted Sheikah ever rescind their anger towards the Hylian Royal Family. As the corrupted Sheikah adapted to their new environment, and wanting to shed their identity of being ignored as the Sheikah, they dropped that name and came to call themselves the Twili.
For those Sheikah who stayed loyal to the Royal Family, they became the victims of widespread paranoia. When word spread of the Dark Interlopers, the Royal Family grew uneasy, believing that more Sheikah would join their cause due to the manner in which the tribe was treated. In order to curb the risk of losing the loyal Sheikah to the Dark Interlopers, the Royal Family rounded up the remaining Sheikah and imprisoned them, resulting in brutal torture and killings, as evidenced by the Shadow Temple and the Bottom of the Well in Ocarina of Time. Both areas are filled with bones, skulls, skeletons, torture devices, blood, angry spirits, and the Royal Family’s imagery (not to mention, Bottom of the Well is where you obtain the Lens of Truth, and the Shadow Temple is protected from entry by a huge door emblazoned with the Sheikah symbol). Both places are, in actuality, mass graves where the Sheikah who remained in Hyrule lie in anger and despair. This is what the Sheikah refer to as “Hyrule’s bloody history”. The two areas are sequestered from the rest of the populace and sealed away by powerful magic, meaning that the Royal Family clearly tried to hide their existence, plus the Shadow Temple is only accessible by playing the Nocturne of Shadow, a song most likely composed by the Composer Brothers Sharp and Flat, servants of the Royal Family.
While this aspect of the history may seem somewhat unfeasible, lending some credibility to this is the fact that the Sheikah have a very strong inclination to be involved in the darker aspects of the Zelda series, such as being referred to as the Shadow Tribe. Impa is the Sage of Shadow in Ocarina of Time, which provides a significant connection between the Sheikah tribe and the temple. In addition, the dark artifact known as Majora’s Mask was simply abandoned, despite it being an object of considerable power, meaning that it could have been hidden or lost during the Dark Interlopers’ exile from Hyrule. Furthermore, there are no Sheikah in Twilight Princess, other than Impaz, who lives alone in the Hidden Village, also known as Old Kakariko, which is sealed off by a large boulder. This is significant in that it represents the level of neglect the Sheikah came to experience in their time.
For such a noble and powerful race, who lived so close to the Goddess and helped build the land of Hyrule, it is sad to think that they may have been victims of brutal and unnecessary punishment. What is your opinion on this history? Do the facts seem to fit, or is it simply too speculative? Let me know in the comments.