August 9, 2018
“The forest is connected to many places! If you can hear my song, you must be somewhere that is connected to the forest!” – Saria, Ocarina of Time
In Ocarina of Time, Link can use the Lost Woods to travel to Hyrule Field, Zora’s River, Goron City, and Kokiri Forest. It is, as Saria mentions, “connected to many places.” But could that statement actually be construed beyond that? Does the Lost Woods have a larger role in the world of The Legend of Zelda than we might yet realize?
Straightaway, it’s very clear that the Lost Woods is not a normal place. There’s a strange and certainly dark magic to it. There’s music in the air, and the only way to escape is to follow the music. If you fail to do so, you could get lost in the forest forever, cursing you to become a skeletal creature known as a Stalfos. But what makes the Lost Woods this way?
The Lost Woods, or some version of it, has appeared in almost every Zelda game. I’d like to posit a theory: Not only are these forests all the Lost Woods, growing and shifting over time, but they bind together multiple dimensions, continents, and realities.
In Majora’s Mask, Link reaches Termina by falling down a hole in the forest. It is not explicitly said to be the Lost Woods, but I find it makes sense to believe this. After all, the forest is connected to many places. Why not this one? The journey to Termina is surreal – falling into an abyss, then working through a network of underground tunnels. What if this represents moving into another dimension? Termina is also said to not be an actual country in the same world as Hyrule. Nintendo has never really stuck with a definitive origin for Termina, but the consensus is usually that it is either a dream world or a separate dimension. Also important to note is the Skull Kid, who is one of the main characters in Majora’s Mask. A Skull Kid is also a creature born of the Lost Woods, but rather than an adult turning into a Stalfos, a child who stays too long in the Lost Woods without a fairy turns into a Skull Kid. The presence of the Skull Kid in this game compels one to think of the Lost Woods.
The Lost Woods even appears in Oracle of Seasons, which takes place not in Hyrule, but in Holodrum. Perhaps one could also reach this place through the mysterious forest?
The Lost Woods seems to be its own pocket dimension. It creates an infinite loop, trapping unwary travelers inside of it unless they know the proper path. It’s evident that space is distorted in this area. It’s not too far-out of an idea that it might even warp space to reach other worlds.
Let’s also consider the fate of the Hero of Time, the one in the Child Timeline, who defeated Ganondorf, but then was sent back in time by Zelda to prevent Ganondorf’s takeover of Hyrule. This is the Hero that travels to and rescues Termina. After the events of Majora’s Mask, it would seem that the Hero of Time returned to Hyrule and took a wife, as the Hero of Twilight is definitively said to be his descendant. There is also a tombstone in the Castle Graveyard, which is dedicated to the memory of a “cursed swordsman.” Many think that this is the Hero of Time, however, why is he referred to as being cursed? Could this claim be connected to the Hero’s Shade’s frightening appearance?
Here is my proposal: After possibly years of wandering in the Lost Woods, Link found his way back to Hyrule. He joined the Knights of Hyrule and wed Malon, from whom the Hero of Twilight is descended. The Hero of Time is loyal to his service as a Knight of Hyrule, but laments that his greater achievement, rescuing Hyrule from Ganon, is not remembered. However, also, due to his time spent in the Lost Woods without a fairy, trying to find his way back from Termina, he was cursed to slowly transform into a Stalfos. His eventual cause of death is unknown, but his body, in its transformed state, is taken and buried in the Castle Graveyard, hence his being referred to as the “CURSED swordsman.”
I believe the fact that the Hero’s Shade appears to be a Stalfos supports my theory that Termina is connected to Hyrule via the Lost Woods, and thus, the Lost Woods may connect to other dimensions, as well.