Posted on February 08 2015 by C. M. Lanning
“Hey!” “Watch out!” Fans of Ocarina of Time likely read the first three words of this article in Navi’s voice. Navi aids Link in his quest to fight Ganondorf, but at the end of Ocarina of Time, the fairy mysteriously leaves Link behind. I wanted to delve into what I consider the underlying reason Link went after Navi.
In Ocarina of Time, Link grows up as an outcast in his own village. He’s different from the Kokiri for two reasons: first, he’s a Hylian, which he figures out not long after leaving the forest; second, he doesn’t have a companion fairy like the other villagers do. Eventually, the Great Deku Tree, sensing Ganondorf’s evil plan kicking into high gear, sends Navi to accompany Link “the boy without a fairy.”
The two spend the entire game together, and while some fans were annoyed by the high-pitched voice of their companion, others grew to love Navi as Link’s sidekick. The Hero of Time would go through much in his quest to save Hyrule from the clutches of Ganondorf, going back and forth between being a child and an adult. Navi would be there every step of the way, never faltering. This included sticking by Link through the heat of the Fire Temple, the fear of the Shadow Temple, and even the frustrations of the Water Temple.
Ganondorf was able to separate Navi from Link at one point with dark magic during the final battle, but it was brief. In the last round with Ganon, the fairy rejoined Link to help take down the Gerudo King.
At the end of the journey when Link is returned to his own time, Navi flies up to the window and disappears. We know the fairy doesn’t come back because in Majora’s Mask it states the hero left looking for a “friend with whom he parted ways when he finally fulfilled his heroic destiny and took his place among legends.” After that text is displayed in Majora’s Mask, the sound of a fairy flying by is heard, indicating Link left to find Navi.
The obvious reason Link left to find Navi is because they became good friends after all they went through. The two traveled across time itself to defeat Ganondorf, and there’s certainly a bond between the two characters as a result. With all that said, I believe there is a more underlying, or at least an additional reason why Link left to find Navi. It’s all fine and well to say Link and Navi were friends, and the Hero of Time would journey to find him, but I think there’s more to it than that.
As the Hero of Time, Link took his place among legends, and everyone in Hyrule knew of his righteous deeds. He was celebrated with a huge party that we see at the end of Ocarina of Time, but that all happens in the adult timeline. In the child timeline, the average Hylian doesn’t know who Link is. Zelda sent him back in time to regain his childhood (which was a stupid move in my opinion), and as a result, in the child timeline, Ganondorf never took over Hyrule.
After returning to his childhood body, Link rushed to meet with a young Princess Zelda, who didn’t know who he was thanks to the time traveling. The two of them convinced the king of Hyrule to imprison and ultimately execute the Gerudo King before he could betray the royal family. We know from Twilight Princess that the execution failed, and Ganon was instead banished into the Twilight Realm, but the Hero of Time was likely well on his way to Termina by that part of the story.
I point all this out to show that no one (aside from the royal family, to whom Link told his tale) knew who the Hero of Time was. Not a single person in the child timeline had any memory of what he’d done… except one. Navi traveled back to the child timeline with Link. She remembered every puzzle solved, boss beaten, and hardship triumphed. The fairy was there for all of that, and I think that is the underlying reason Link quested to find his companion. Link went to Termina and saved that land. That much is a fact. What isn’t known is what happened to Link afterwards. Did he return to Hyrule, fall in love with Malon, start Ordon Village, and have a kid? Who knows.
What fans do know is that eventually, not being remembered as the hero started to really drive Link mad. One could even argue that it owned him in his final years. And to be fair, he has a valid reason for being angry. He saved the entire country, and no one remembered except him and Navi. This regret for not being remembered as the Hero of Time would later drive Link to become cursed in death. He would transform into the Hero’s Shade.
“Ever since returning to the Child Era, the swordsman has lamented the fact that he was not remembered as a hero,” the Hyrule Historia states.
It is all that lamenting that drove his spirit to become the Hero’s Shade, unable to find rest until he passed on his skills to the new hero in Twilight Princess. I don’t think Link ever found Navi again, or else he likely wouldn’t have turned into the Hero’s Shade. There are some theories out there as to what happened to Navi, one of the most popular being that the fairy died, having served her purpose. If this is true, it certainly makes Majora’s Mask all the more depressing, Link looking for a friend he doesn’t know is dead.
Getting back to Navi being the only other individual to remember Link’s adult adventures, perhaps it’d be easier to understand Link’s feelings of desperation to find his friend if one considered the following scenario: Perhaps one day Link is walking around the Kokiri Village, and a particular memory pops into his head. Laughing at his experience, he starts talking out loud “Hey Navi, remember the time I defeated a stalfos, only to have a platform come down with another one wanting to fight? Navi? Oh yeah…” There were probably nights where Link dreamt of Navi vanishing into the forest, only for the Hero of Time to wake up screaming a
nd realize his friend wasn’t by his side. Who knows, perhaps desperation to find Navi even further fueled the lament that would lead to him becoming cursed in the afterlife.
It’s depressing to think about, but I find it a fascinating topic of discussion. One of my favorite things to analyze in any story is character relationships. And who knows… maybe once the Hero’s Shade faded into a restful end after teaching his last skill to Twilight Princess Link, the goddess rewarded him for his efforts by reuniting him with Navi. Do you think Link ever found Navi again?