Welcome back to my new column properly named “Exploring the Wild” where I explore all the mysteries behind the new Zelda.
Last time, we jumped head first into the nature-filled wilderness we call The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. From now on, I will be touching on different subjects regarding the game and see what we can discover. Today, let us identify, or at least try to, the Old Man we see first thing in the game.
In Breath of the Wild, the first thing that hit is not only how expansive the world is, but how it lacked civilization. Link finds himself in the Grand Plateau with no city, village or town in sight. The only person you see once leaving the Shrine of Resurrection is an old man. This Old Man seems to have been put in as the first NPC you see as a reference to the original game on NES, as hinted by producer Eiji Aonuma during the E3 Nintendo Treehouse broadcast.
However, that isn’t enough to explain what or who this man is. There is a lot of speculation on this man’s identity and today, I am going to pierce through all the buzz going around and pinpoint what are his possible connections throughout Hyrule’s history. Only then, may we begin to understand a little more on the mystery behind this wise figure.
In the Demo:
After the initial meeting in the beginning of the game, the Old Man tells us about the origins of the kingdom of Hyrule as well as the Temple of Time’s state. However, the interaction goes beyond this meeting. The Old Man continues to reappear throughout our exploration of the Grand Plateau using his Paraglider. He informs Link about the towers and the Shrines of Trials located across Hyrule. It is also important to note that the Old Man is the one who informs Link about the creature looming over Hyrule Castle and declares it to be named the Calamity Ganon.
“That… is the Calamity Ganon. It brought ruin and corruption upon the kingdom of Hyrule 100 years ago.” – The Old Man
Hyrule’s Old Man Hall of Fame:
This Old Man bears resemblance to a number of wise men in past Zelda games and I will explore each connection and highlight what is the link (get it?) between them and this mysterious man we meet first thing in Breath of the Wild. Without further ado, let us begin:
- King Daphnes Nohansenn Hyrule, King of Hyrule (Wind Waker)
Say hello to the king himself! King Daphnes Nohansenn Hyrule was the last king of Hyrule before it got flooded by the three Goddesses in the Adult timeline. His spirit is the one who lingered on with the kingdom and took the form of the King of Red Lions, a red sailboat that assists Link in the Wind Waker. He also acts as a guide for the hero of winds throughout his adventure across the Great Sea.
He is the first to talk about because many have noticed that the Old Man from the Breath of the Wild looks pretty similar to the King of Hyrule. The serious look, epic mustache and strong nose are hard to be ignored. Here is a picture of the comparison.
This could simply be a coincidence in character design or there could be a connection there. If so, is the Old Man perhaps a descendant from the last King before the kingdom’s demise? The Old Man is not there in spirit form as he seen paragliding and all. His knowledge of the whereabouts of the kingdom is also peculiar as well.
- Rauru, The Sage of Light (Ocarina of Time)
The second man we will explore is none other than Rauru, the Sage of Light. Rauru has done to protect the land of Hyrule and plays an important role not only in Ocarina of Time, but in the events before it as well. Rauru is the one who built the Temple of Time that we see in Ocarina of time and Twilight Princess, located nearer to the current Hyrule Castle compared to the original temple in the Lanayru Desert seen in Skyward Sword. This Temple of Time acts as the only link to the Sacred Realm left and can only be accessed through the Master Sword.
In Ocarina of Time, this is the first person Link, the Hero of Time, sees after waking up from a seven-year slumber in the Sacred Realm. Rauru also takes the form of Kaepora Gaebora, an owl who serves as a guide to Link ever since he first leaves Kokiri Forest as a child. He takes this shape in the real world since he no longer retains his original body as it has long past since the days of the Era of Chaos; when the Temple of Time was built. He only reveals his true form in the Chamber of Sages since it is located in the Sacred Realm, where the Light Temple, the source of his power, resides.
- Gaepora, Mayor of Skyloft’s Knight Academy and Zelda’s Father (Skyward Sword)
Gaepora is the Mayor of Skyloft’s Knight Academy in Skyward Sword. He also seems to act as the town’s leader to a certain extent. This man is also the first ever confirmed character to be a family member to Zelda; he is Zelda’s father. Gaepora plays a major role in the protection of Skyloft, which is the patch of land on which the Temple of Time Rauru will build centuries later. He is also the sworn Guardian of the Goddess Sword, the Master Sword before tempering.
Throughout his adventure, Link, the Hero’s Successor, often returns to Gaepora in search of knowledge as he is the keeper of Skyloft’s legends. It is also important to notice how Gaepora’s name and appearance is very similar to Kaepora Gaebora, the Light Sage Rauru’s owl form.
Connecting the Dots:
Now, through the roles and relations of these three men, we can find odd similarities and unique traits to each of them. They all play a major role in assisting the Hero, especially with advice and knowledge on the hero’s quest as well as the history and legends of the land. In short, they are all crucial Link’s development and finding his way.
Furthermore, some of these men share certain traits which could lead us to believe that although they may not be the same people, they may be represented in similar patterns. For example, both King Daphnes and Gaepora are family related to Zelda in multiple eras. King Daphnes may not be Zelda’s father in the Wind Waker, but may be the father of her ancestor as seen in the portraits of the submerged Hyrule Castle.
Rauru was never confirmed to be related to anyone and not much is known of his origins as he lived in a time where there was no game in that period of time in Hyrule’s history. As he is an important figure from the time when the kingdom of Hyrule was first formed, it isn’t out of this world if it turns out he has a link to the Royal Family. It would definitely explain his immense affinity to the Light; as all Sages are aligned with their origins.
- Rauru, Hylian: Sage of Light
- Impa, Sheikah: Sage of Shadow
- Saria, Kokiri: Sage of Forest
- Nabooru, Gerudo: Sage of Spirit
- Darunia, Goron: Sage of Fire
- Ruto, Zora: Sage of Water
Men with Multiple Faces and Epitome of Knowledge:
Rauru needed to aid Link in Hyrule but lacked the physical manifestation of his original body and has thus taken the form of an owl. Likewise, the King took the form of a sail boat and helped Link travel the Great Sea. They both also served as a guide to the hero throughout his quest.
The guides aided the hero with advice, but not all of them needed to transform to offer this kind of help. Gaepora and the Old Man from Breath of the Wild are both alive and thus have no need of an alternate appearance to help the hero. Also, all of these men were known for their immense knowledge of the land and its history.
The Old Man in Breath of the Wild has proven to be more than just a call to the franchise’s roots. This man clearly knows of the land’s history and its troubles and instructs the hero to get his quest started. He offers knowledge and advice and this puts him on the same pedestal as the old wise men of the past.
If this Old Man will share any of the characteristics of these men, then we can safely assume that his identity may be linked to the Royal Family that ruled Hyrule 100 years prior to Link’s awakening. He is also very knowledgeable about the Sheikah Slate and we know that the Sheikah have always served the Royal Family and very few know of their secrets. Also, his lack of red eyes excludes him from being a possible Sheikah elder of some sort. So, a link to the Royal Family remains the most plausible conclusion.
This will also explain why he is sitting there waiting outside the Shrine of Resurrection near the ruined Temple of Time, this same temple Rauru had built all those centuries ago. He also probably knows of Link’s awakening and was simply waiting for him… to prepare him for his quest.
I believe we are nearing the end of our leads and as of now, it is most probably the case where this Old Man may be linked to Royal Family or even the Sage of Light. The final evidence needed to back this is when the Old Man would remove his hood and show us his ears, proving if he is a Hylian or not. This is would make his affinity to Light definitive.
That is all for the Old Man fellow adventurers. Next time, I will dive further into the current state of the Temple of Time seen in Breath of the Wild and finding out why their rusted Guardians and the like. If you haven’t had the chance, I invite to read my first step in this long exploration into the world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Stay tuned to IMGMR for the next part!