Secrets of Skyward Sword: The Ancient Sage
Posted on April 23 2013 by Dathen Boccabella
One of the many mysteries of the Legend of Zelda series pertains to the many reincarnations we’ve seen of the Seven Sages. From Seven Maidens, to the Seven Wise Men, to the seven ethereal spirits, never have we seen the sages used more prominently than in Ocarina of Time. With the need for saving and ‘awakening’ the ancient sages in Ocarina of Time, Rauru moreso than any – even Zelda – seemed like the constant. Yet at the same time, he was the most mysterious of them all.
Rauru was the knowledgeable one. The one who recalled the times of the past when the Temple of Time was built over the ruins of the Sealed Temple, as stated in Hyrule Historia. The one who was there when the Sacred Realm was sealed away from Hyrule, with the Master Sword acting as the key. Rauru never needed Link to save him. He never appeared alongside the other sages outside of the Sacred Realm. Rauru was an enigma, but Skyward Sword seemingly had a thing or two to say on the topic, at least at first.
A Gossip stone in Ocarina of Time once hinted that “the owl named Kaepora Gaebora is the reincarnation of an Ancient Sage”. Ever since, fans have speculated as to whether Rauru was the aforementioned ancient sage. In the recently released Hyrule Histroria, it was finally confirmed. Speaking of Rauru the translation reads: “before Link pulled the Master Sword out, he followed Link’s adventures as the owl Kaepora Gaebora”.
Navi may have been Link’s companion, but Rauru – as Kaepora Gaebora – was the one truly guiding Link along his quest. The confirmation that Rauru was the owl served as an explanation to the mystery, to some degree. Kaepora Gaebora was the reincarnation of the Sage of Light, similarly to how Saria was the Sage of Forest, or Impa was the Sage of Shadow.
It appeared that Rauru himself had passed away, but in a similar fashion to Impa in Skyward Sword or Daphnes in The Wind Waker, his essence lived on in the Sacred Realm, while his reincarnation guided Link. Just as the elderly Impa in Skyward Sword guided Link to her younger self, Kaepora Gaebora guides Link to his original self’s lingering essence – Rauru.
Even with Hyrule Historia providing somewhat of an explanation, Rauru still remained an enigma. However, Skyward Sword gave us the character called Gaepora. In addition to his name being a hybrid of Kaepora Gaebora, he also dressed like Rauru, looked like Rauru, and had facial hair reminiscent of the owl himself. Gaepora was Zelda’s father and the Headmaster of the Skyloft Knight Academy. By all lengths, it seemed like Gaepora was set up to be the Ancient Sage, which is the vey conclusion I made at first.
Let’s look at the evidence. In Skyward Sword, Gaepora is the most knowledgeable person in history and lore. He is the very person who guards the Goddess Sword, and knows the tales of the predestined hero – be they a little clouded by retellings over time. Original legends said that the sages made the Master Sword, and although not directly, Gaepora is involved with what becomes the Master Sword in Skyward Sword. Also note the appearance of the sage’s medallions on the Isle of the Goddess and Sealed Grounds, potentially hinting that the sages predated this time and may have been involved in creating the Goddess Sword and original temple of Hylia.
In Skyward Sword’s epilogue we see Gaepora at the Sealed Grounds, and we can logically assume as Zelda’s father and the Headmaster, that he played a significant role in establishing the Kingdom of Hyrule. These eras, according to Hyrule Historia’s official timeline, are referred to as the Era of Chaos and Era of Prosperity – where the Sacred Realm is sealed and the Royal Family are established.
Gaepora is the one to give Link his green tunic in Skyward Sword, and given the circumstances, it fits that Rauru did likewise for the Hero of Time’s adult tunic. Rauru and Gaepora sure do correspond. We must ponder, however, that even though Zelda is the seventh sage who rules them all, why Rauru appears more as the leader of the sages. Does that fit with a father-daughter relationship?
Zelda, as Hylia, will always rule the sages, but Rauru is the actual head-sage. If Rauru is Gaepora, it fits. Princess Zelda in Skyward Sword vows to protect the Triforce, and her father would aid her in that. If he is Rauru, then he is the very one who seals away the Sacred Realm. The very one who remains within to guard and watch the Triforce. He would always maintain some authority over his daughter.
As with almost all Zelda theories, there are holes and flaws. For starters, why go from the name Gaepora to Rauru, to Kaepora Gaebora? Why not keep Gaepora? In a series where even characters with the same name are actually different, different names usually always means different. The biggest flaw to this theory, though, comes from Aonuma himself.
Aonuma states that Gaepora was “originally designed to be the priest who was the heir to the legend of the goddess and so the designer made him look like that in order to present a wise and dignified image. He wasn’t actually designed around Kaepora Gaebora, but since he did end up resembling him, we gave him the name Gaepora.” The confirmation that Rauru is Kaepora Gaebora makes those two names interchangeable in Aonuma’s quote.
We fans are forced to reluctantly accept that there is no canon connection between Rauru and Gaepora. It is a mere matter of coincidence and tribute to Ocarina of Time, and that is all. Similarly to the characters Zubora and Gabora in Majora’s Mask – just a tribute.
There was so much potential here. Skyward Sword laid some solid connections and Aonuma destroyed them. As much as fans hunger for the truths of the series, fans making their own connections and explanations has always been – even with the official timeline released – the very essence of fan interaction with the series. To destroy ideas established by Skyward Sword so soon was a disappointment for many fans. It’s sad – but Aonuma’s word is absolute.
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