Taking his first steps outside, Link enters a bustling new world with a large moon looming overhead despite the morning. Though the focus of this game is the story of Link, Skull Kid, the Happy Mask Salesman, and the moon, the aspect that discreetly tied the game together was always that of the Clocktower.
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?” – Happy Mask Salesman (Majora’s Mask)
Three days before the carnival, Link enters into this strange world through giant stone doors from a topsy-turvy hallway that had begun in the Lost Woods. But how? Link walks through, however, the moment he does the doors shuts behind him and suddenly it’s as if they were always part of the wall.
Though never explained, it seems the clocktower has its own abilities. Besides being able to stop time inside, it is also able to be a portal between worlds. How was Link able to enter Termina, and how was the Skull Kid, Happy Mask Salesman, and the Deku Butler able to exit?
During his first trek following Skull Kid, Link finds a sad looking tree seeming to peer at him.
We don’t give it much thought and run past him only to find out later that this was the origin of the Deku Mask and this tree once had a family. The ending credits show the Deku Butler knelt before his deceased son.
It’s obvious that the Skull Kid was the one who led him out there, but how was the Deku Butler able to access him?
I believe the answer lies in the tower itself. This is not the first time that a door is unable to be opened unless under certain constraints. This theme happens many times throughout Majora’s Mask; usually it needs a key, but sometimes there is a time trigger linked with an action, one example being Sakon’s hideout, but the main one being the door to the clock tower’s roof during the carnival of time.
This door was only to open on the eve of the carnival of time… perhaps the door below was very much the same? A way for Link to enter, under very certain constraints, perhaps the Four being locked away triggered this? Or Majora’s Mask being placed into the wrong hands did. It’s not an accident that Link ended up here as he’s surrounded by so many familiar faces. It was a cry for help, and this door would not open again until he saved Termina. By that logic, this door was always meant to be open, but when in need of aid it closed to hold the hero. Once saved, the outside world open to others again and so the Deku Butler was able to find his son. And Link was able to leave…
“Time continues to pass even as we speak.” – Happy Mask Salesman
The clocktower holds a mystical power: Inside, time does not move. Outside it, three days repeat infinitely.
Continuing on with the logic of “The Door,” had Termina not closed off access to the outside world, time would have continued further. Since it closed, it was doomed to repeat the dreaded cycle.
But what about the outside world and all of Hyrule? Was Zelda also experiencing this three day cycle over and over again?
No. I believe she was not.
“The flow of time is always cruel… its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it… A thing that does not change with time is a memory of younger days…” – Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
I believe Hyrule was moving on as if Link had never disappeared. The world is able to exist without the hero.
The people believed that the Hero of Time would again come to save them… But the hero did not appear. – Wind Waker Prologue
If Link was ever able to truly reappear in Hyrule, like Twilight Princess explains, as the forgotten swordsman, perhaps the reason he was forgotten is because he came back and all he knew was long dead.
When Link is finally able to return with Epona to Hyrule, he finds that over a century has past and Hyrule was under a new reign though the royal family looked very similar. With his seeing double in Majora’s Mask, this may have been jarring for Link. Suddenly there was a King (Daphnes?) and a Princess named Zelda though she was not the one he knew before. The Zelda he knew, as well as everyone he ever met throughout his time in Hyrule, was long since dead. He decides to give himself purpose and become a soldier underneath the Royal Family. There he meets Ashei’s father and after some time warms up to tell the tale of the Hero of Time.
Eventually, Link’s curiosity gets the best of him and he heads off to the Lost Woods to try and find his friends. But as legend would have it, any non-Kokiri who gets lost in the Lost Woods becomes a Stalfos.
I’d like to think that Ashei’s father searches for Link (perhaps with help from the Skull Kid?) and finds Link’s human clothing. Returning to Hyrule with it, Ashei’s Father can set him to rest beside the castle he loved to serve.
As a Stalfos, Link is eventually able to find the Deku Tree sprout, now just a tree, and stays with him for quite some time, adopting his mannerisms and speech patterns until one day the Deku Tree informs him of a the resurrection of a new hero. Determined to aid Link and for the past to not repeat itself, Stalfos Link makes his journey back. Because of his time in Majora’s Mask, Link was able to learn many sword techniques to teach his predecessor.
Then the story of Twilight Princess begins and he is able to become a teacher to his descendant and finally ease his regrets.
“Although I accepted life as the hero, I could not convey the lessons of that life to those who came after. At last, I have eased those regrets. You who have marched through countless foes, each mightier then the last… You who now gaze to the future with vision unclouded… Surely you can restore Hyrule to its stature of yore as the chosen land of the gods.” – Hero’s Shade (Twilight Princess)
There, though mockingly, Ashei mentions the “Legendary Hero,” no longer forgotten.
The new Link has returned to Zelda like the Hero of Time never could.
If the flow of time cannot be changed, but it could in Majora’s Mask, and this also isn’t recognizing the Guru Guru Paradox, then is there a chance that Link would be coming home to a world countless years into the future?
That long twisting hallway turns in the direction of a clock. The giant water mill represents the flow of time.
“Time passes, people move… like a river’s flow, it never ends.” – Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
For Link three days suddenly turned into a century away from his home to find a now long dead friend.
The (Limbo) Timeline
If this theory were true, if Majora’s Mask Link was unable to return to his normal timeline… does this cause a rift in what we know of Hyrule Historia’s timeline?
It is plausible for the split, then, to not only come from Ocarina of Time, but also Majora’s Mask. The split becomes:
Link Returns to Hyrule After A Century in Termina / Link Never Leaves Termina.
From this split comes the two branches of the Hero’s Success. It’s no longer about the Sacred Realm and Link’s age, it remains solely on whether or not he survives Termina. This fits in the Wind Waker timeline as Link never returns because his soul is never able to reincarnate; he never died.
The stone doors that closed behind Link had power to transport him to this sort of limbo land. Forced to solve the puzzle of the three day cycle surrounding the skull kid, the moon, and a tower, Link is eventually able to return “home”… we hope.
Does the clocktower have its own powers? Does this theory cause a tear in the timeline or could this align Wind Waker directly with Majora’s Mask? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!