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Zelda Timeline/Child Timeline

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Child Link Timeline

Link warning Zelda about Ganondorf

The presence of the Hero who went back and forth in time generated a fork in history, dividing Hyrule's chronology. The Child Link Timeline[1] is the timeline that follows Link after being sent back to his original time following the defeat of Ganondorf by the Hero of Time. He warned Princess Zelda and the King of Hyrule of the tragic future that awaited the kingdom involving Ganondorf if nothing was to be done. This turn of events created the timeline containing Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures.

The Hero's Departure

After warning the Royal Family of Hyrule, Link and Zelda spend a short amount of time together.[2] Before leaving Hyrule in search of his Fairy companion, Navi, who left him at the end of his quest, young Link heads to the Lon Lon Ranch to borrow his horse Epona. During Link's last meeting with Zelda, she states her belief that they would meet again. Furthermore, she gives him the Ocarina of Time to prevent Ganondorf from entering the Sacred Realm and as a memento of the time they spent together. She also teaches Link the Song of Time, a melody that holds a special meaning to her, before handing over the ocarina, mentioning that he should play that melody if something were to happen to him so that the Goddess of Time will come to his aid.

Turmoil in Termina, the Parallel Universe

Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Various people from Termina

Several months passed during the Hero of Time's search for Navi. Link was found in a mysterious forest, where the Skull Kid and his fairy companions Tatl and Tael encountered the hero and stole his horse, Epona, as well as the Ocarina of Time.[3] During Link's pursuit, the Skull Kid cursed him and turned him into a Deku Scrub. Tatl was left behind by Tael and the Skull Kid. The fairy insisted that Link take her with him as his companion, so that they can work together to find the Skull Kid and her brother Tael.

Link soon discovered that he had wandered into a parallel universe called Termina which was threatened with imminent destruction by its Moon. He met the Happy Mask Salesman, who promised Link that if he was able to recover Majora's Mask from the Skull Kid, he would restore Link to his true form. Skull Kid had stolen the evil mask, which was a powerful artifact that had been used by an ancient tribe for hexing rituals. The Skull Kid, possessed by the mask, caused mischief for the people of Termina. He imprisoned his former childhood friends and deities of Termina, the Four Giants, within their respective temples, cursed the four lands the Four Giants created, and pulled the Moon from its orbit and destined it to crash into Clock Town in just three days in order to destroy all of Termina.

Link then set off in his Deku form, finding himself in Clock Town at the epicenter of Termina. With the help of Tatl and the Great Fairy, he managed to find the Skull Kid atop Clock Tower. With an unearthly shriek, the Skull Kid began to bring the moon down completely to the land. Taking advantage of this, Link fired a Bubble Blast at the Skull Kid, causing him to drop the Ocarina of Time. Upon picking it up, memories of his departure from Hyrule flooded back to Link. After being snapped out of this reverie by Tatl, he played the Song of Time, and was immediately thrown back to the morning that he first entered Clock Town, three days prior.

The Happy Mask Salesman taught Link the Song of Healing, restoring him to his human form. The hero gained the Deku Mask which held the spirit of a Deku. Donning the mask allowed him to transform into Deku Link once again. He again requested that Link recover Majora's Mask, stating his belief in the Hero of Time's strength. Link went to the four temples in the South, North, West, and East in order to free the Four Giants from their prisons and stop the moon from falling. In his travels, Link obtained transformation masks which allowed him to assume the forms of heroes whose souls he had healed with the Song of Healing.

Once Link confronted the Skull Kid again, he summoned the Giants, causing the demon Majora to reveal itself as the source of the Skull Kid's evil. As the moon descended upon the Clock Tower, Link went inside it, where he confronted Majora on an otherworldly plain. Once Majora was defeated, the Hero of Time's secret journey ended with the beginning of the Carnival of Time. Link left Termina for Hyrule on Epona, still searching for his companion Navi.

Ganondorf's Execution

The Triforce at Ganondorf's execution
Main article: Ganondorf's Execution

Several years after the failure of his attempted invasion, Ganondorf was taken prisoner in the Arbiter's Grounds prison.[4][5] When the ancient Sages tried to execute him, however, they discovered to their horror that he had the Triforce of Power, so they activated the Mirror of Twilight and sent him into the Twilight Realm. Here, Ganondorf languished for years, until he met Zant and promised him power in exchange for freedom from his prison.

The Era of Twilight

Shadow King Zant's Invasion of the Light World

Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Illustration from Twilight Princess

Ganondorf took the form of a dark god and promised the Twili Zant incredible powers and the throne of the Twilight Realm on one condition: Zant would merge the worlds of Light and Twilight in order to create a world of darkness. Zant agreed, and pledged his undying service to his new master. He used his newfound powers to transform the Twilight Princess Midna into an imp and take the throne before launching his invasion of the light world.[6]

Hyrule was unprepared for the invasion, and Princess Zelda soon found herself with her back against the wall. When given an ultimatum by Zant to surrender or die, she chose to surrender. Zant sent his minions over the land and stole power from the Light Spirits guarding each province, shrouding the kingdom of Hyrule in Twilight.[7]

Midna and Link

Midna uncovered the dark magic of her Dark Interloper ancestors in the form of the Fused Shadow. She used its magic to help a youth from Ordon Village named Link, a descendant of the Hero of Time, who had become trapped in the Twilight in the form of a wolf. Twili legend said that the Hero of Light would appear in the form of a sacred beast: in this case, a wolf. Midna struck a deal with Link that she would help him regain his human form if he would help her gather the other pieces of the Fused Shadow in order to defeat Zant. Once Midna and Link had cleared the land of Twilight and gathered the Fused Shadows, Zant revealed himself and stole the Fused Shadows, wounded Midna, and cursed Link to his wolf form once again.[8]

Midna and Link sought the aid of Princess Zelda, who gave up her soul so that Midna could live, and told Link to seek out the Master Sword in the Sacred Grove. The Master Sword dispelled the curse on Link, and allowed him to transform between his human and wolf forms at will.[9] Throughout his adventure, Link learned the secrets of combat from the ghost of his ancestor, the Hero of Time. The Hero had lived a life filled with regret because he could not be a hero in this timeline, so he imparted his wisdom to his descendant.[10]

In order to enter the Twilight Realm and confront Zant, Midna and Link sought the Mirror of Twilight at Arbiter's Grounds, but Zant had shattered it into pieces and scattered it across the land. The Sages who had executed Ganondorf appeared to the pair and told them about Ganondorf's involvement with the darkness which plagued the land. Midna and Link gathered the pieces of the Mirror and entered the Twilight Realm, and Link defeated Zant in single combat. Zant was not fazed, however, boasting that his god Ganon would revive him. In her fury, Midna reclaimed the Fused Shadow and used its power to destroy Zant completely.[11]

Ganon and Link's duel

Link and Midna went to the top of Hyrule Castle in order to battle the King of Darkness, who was in possession of Zelda's lifeless body. He possessed it and forced Link to do battle with the princess. Once he defeated her, Midna revived Zelda and Link defeated Ganon in his beast form. Midna used the Fused Shadow to become a terrifying monster and her struggle with Ganon destroyed the castle itself. Midna transported Link and Zelda to Hyrule Field, where they battled Ganondorf on horseback, and finally Link defeated Ganon in single combat, stabbing him in the chest. Ganon attempted to use the Triforce of Power to revive himself, but discovered that its power had left him. Zant stood on the gateway to the afterlife, mocking Ganon by snapping his own neck just as Ganon died.[12][13]

Midna was restored to her true form as the beautiful Twilight Princess, and bade farewell to Link and Zelda as she returned to the Twilight Realm. As she left, she shattered the Mirror of Twilight to ensure that its power would never be misused again. Link returned to Ordon Village; however, he later departed with Epona from his hometown.[14]

The Era of Shadow

Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
The four Links battle evil soldiers.

Hundreds of years after Ganondorf's death, the people of Hyrule had reconciled with Ganondorf's tribe, the Gerudo, and it seemed for a while that peace would prevail in the land. However, a new Ganondorf was born to the Gerudo tribe who was the reincarnation of the King of Darkness that was defeated by the Hero Chosen by the Gods, and violated their taboo on the Ancient Pyramid.[15] He stole the Trident from the pyramid and then stole the Dark Mirror from the Temple of Darkness.[16] The mirror served as a prison for a dark tribe that, long ago, invaded the kingdom. It had the ability to reflect the evil heart of its bearer, giving birth to demonic creatures.[17][18][19]

Ganondorf schemed to release the ancient sorcerer Vaati from his prison within the Four Sword, and created a dark copy of Link, Shadow Link, with the Mirror. The clouds of darkness covering the land made Zelda uneasy, so she gathered the six shrine maidens to renew the seal upon Vaati. At that moment, Shadow Link appeared and scattered the maidens with his powers. Link drew the sword from its pedestal, splitting into four just as in ancient times. However, this released Vaati from his prison to cause chaos. Ganon used Shadow Link to tear open rifts to the Dark World, pulling the four Knights of Hyrule into his sway and transforming them into Stalfos.[20]

The four Links journeyed throughout Hyrule to rescue the Shrine Maidens, and learned that Ganon was the mastermind behind the darkness plaguing Hyrule. They obtained the four jewels from the Knights, and made their way to the Tower of Winds, where they battled Vaati and Ganon himself, destroying Vaati and sealing Ganon inside the Four Sword forevermore.[21]


  1. "The CHILD LINK Timeline" — Nintendo, "The Legend Of Zelda": A Timeline, BuzzFeed, published December 2, 2013, retrieved December 22nd, 2013.
  2. "You are already leaving this land of Hyrule, aren't you? Even though it was only a short time, I feel like I've known you forever." — Princess Zelda (Majora's Mask)
  3. "Link set off on his horse, Epona, who lived at Lon Lon Ranch. Months passed as he wandered in search of his companion, Navi, eventually losing himself in a mysterious forest." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 110)
  4. "But he was blind...In all of his fury and might, he was blind to any danger, and thus was he exposed, subdued, and brought to justice." — Sage (Twilight Princess)
  5. "In the last scene of Ocarina of Time, kids Link and Zelda have a little talk, and as a consequence of that talk, their relationship with Ganon takes a whole new direction. In the middle of this game [Twilight Princess], there's a scene showing Ganon's execution. It was decided that Ganon be executed because he'd do something outrageous if they left him be. That scene takes place several years after Ocarina of Time." —Eiji Aonuma (Nintendo Dream: Eiji Aonuma Interview)
  6. "Ganondorf was sent to the Twilight Realm. There, the Demon King granted the ambitious Zant magical powers and began plotting to unite the Light World and the Twilight Realm into a single realm known as the Dark World. Zant’s influence steadily increased. Clouds of darkness covered the Twilight Realm, and the Twili began transforming into demons. Midna, the Twilight Princess, attempted to oppose him, but was cursed and fled to the Light World." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 114)
  7. "The peace that had reigned in the Light World for hundreds of years was broken by Zant’s army of Shadow Beasts. Zant, now known as the King of Twilight, launched an invasion of Hyrule, and Princess Zelda was faced with a decision. Would she allow the kingdom to be destroyed in the fires of war, or would she surrender and allow Hyrule to fall under the domain of the Twilight? The princess chose the latter. Across the land, the Light Spirits lost their light to the Twili. The Light World was gradually transformed into Twilight, and the people, not realizing what was happening, were filled with a shadowy fear." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 114)
  8. Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 115
  9. "The Hero met with Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle, who advised him to obtain the Master Sword. The princess then poured all her power into Midna, saving her life. Link acquired the Master Sword from the Sacred Grove, and his curse was lifted by the sword's ability to dispel magic." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 115)
  10. "The spirit of Link's ancestor, the Hero of Time, teaches him his secrets. Ever since returning to the Child Era, the swordsman has lamented the fact that he was not remembered as a hero. This is the reason he passes down the proof of his courage and his secret techniques to the Link of this era, addressing him as "son"." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 118)
  11. "Link and Midna at last arrived before the Mirror of Twilight, the entrance to the Twilight Realm. Midna became furious when she learned that Zant had broken the mirror, and that everything that had happened was the result of Ganondorf's banishment to the Twilight Realm. The two set out to collect the shards of the Mirror of Twilight. Their journey saw them travel not only across the great span of Hyrule, but also to the illusory City in the Sky. They succeeded in repairing the mirror, and then traveled to the Twilight Realm to defeat Zant. The light liberated from the Twilight Realm came to rest within Link's sword, driving back Zant's powers of darkness. Even the guardian deity of the Twilight Realm came to recognize him as a hero. Link confronted Zant in the Palace of Twilight. Midna regained the Fused Shadow from Zant, and destroyed him with the Twilight's ancient powers." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Boooks), pg. 116)
  12. "Ganondorf, King of Darkness, who had been resurrected in the Light World, remained seated on the throne of Hyrule Castle. He launched his attack by taking possession of Princess Zelda and transforming into a demonic beast. He later waged a battle with Link on horseback. Once Princess Zelda's spirit, which remained inside Midna, was returned to her body, she defended Link using the Light Arrows." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 117)
  13. "Ganondorf, the King of Darkness, had lost, and the crest of the Triforce of Power faded from the back of his hand. The curtain fell on the destiny of the demonic thief Ganondorf, seeker of the Triforce... at least for a time." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 118)
  14. "Once the curse had been lifted, Midna regained her true form, that of a bewitching princess. She then returned to the Twilight Realm, smashing the Mirror of Twilight so that her world would never intersect with the Light World again. Her final request was that the denizens of the Light World not forget that there was another world within its shadows... Link returned the Master Sword to the forest and went back to Ordon Village. The world received the blessings of the gods once more, and the land was covered in light." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 118)
  15. "Curse that Ganondorf! He broke our laws and left for the pyramid..." — Gerudo (Four Swords Adventures)
  16. "Several hundred years after Ganondorf's defeat, relations between Gerudo Village and Hyrule had become friendly once more, and peace had been restored to the land. However, one day a new Ganondorf was born into the world. He violated the laws of the town, trespassing into an ancient pyramid and taking possession of the Trident. He also stole the Dark Mirror from the Temple of Darkness in the forest in order to turn Hyrule into a place of darkness." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 119)
  17. "Legends speak of a mirror in which a dark tribe was sealed away long ago. I understand it's supposed to be hidden now somewhere in the Forest of Light." — Dampé (Four Swords Adventures)
  18. "Long ago, a dark tribe invaded Hyrule. They were defeated and imprisoned within the mirror. The tribe's mirror prison was then secreted away and hidden in the forest temple to sever its connection to this world." — White Maiden (Four Swords Adventures)
  19. "The Dark Mirror: A mirror that reflects the evil heart of its bearer, spawning demons. It was once used to imprison the dark tribe, who attempted to invade Hyrule, and thus it was hidden inside a temple with no connection to the Dark World." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 119)
  20. "The now demonic Knights of Hyrule and their Royal Jewels were scattered across the kingdom by Shadow Link and his kin. The Tower of Winds also disappeared from sight. With the Royal Jewels transformed into gateways to the Dark World, demons began appearing in the land of Hyrule once again." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 120)
  21. "The Heroes saved Princess Zelda from the top of the tower and continued on to the Realm of the Heavens, where the Dark Mirror that had been incessantly spawning Shadow Links lay. The four Links then recovered the mirror and defeated Vaati in the Palace of Winds. The four Links and Princess Zelda made for the surface world as the Palace of Winds crumbled beneath them. There, Ganon appeared. The facets of Link cooperated with Princess Zelda to crush him, successfully sealing Ganon with the Four Sword. "I am the King of Darkness! I cannot be destroyed by insects like you!" he cried as he was sealed away. Light shone out all around them, and the darkness began to part." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 121)