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Hyrule 1984: A Halloween-Themed Legend of Zelda Theory

by Andy Barney

Perhaps the Sheikah took no chances and established a network of Gossip Stones, capable of covertly looking into the minds of everyone and everything that passes by and reporting back to the Shadow Folk.

Do you remember the Gossip Stones from Ocarina of Time? While playing the game, most of us likely just saw them as a goofy gameplay mechanic for learning secrets without giving them much thought regarding their origin or actual purpose. As it turns out, the Gossip Stones could have a terrifying role in Hyrule’s dark and mysterious history. But before I go ahead and explain my theory, we need to understand that these stones are only part of a much larger story, so we’ll need to start by discussing their creators: the Sheikah.

The Sheikah are a mysterious tribe dating back to the Era of Myth. Even in ancient history, the Sheikah demonstrated proficiency in martial arts and magical abilities. Due to this, the goddess Hylia selected the Sheikah to be guardians, defending her reincarnated mortal form at all costs. Since the reincarnated Hylia, otherwise known as Zelda in Skyward Sword, is said to have been an ancestor to the royal family of Hyrule, the Sheikah continued to guard and serve the royal family through the ages.

According to the records, there was a long era of supposed peace known as “The Era of Prosperity” following the Interloper War up until the Hyrulean Civil War. Maybe it’s just me, but this just doesn’t seem like the complete truth. Sometime during this era, the Sheikah had taken enemies of the royal family to a structure known as the Shadow Temple to be interrogated, tortured, or horrifically executed. The Shadow Temple and other connected catacombs are remnants of a buried bloody history of greed and hatred within the Kingdom of Hyrule. Its chambers have blood and viscera spattered across its walls and floors, and are filled with devices of torture that clearly had been used on countless victims during its time of use. Since being decommissioned, the corridors are filled with many horrific, carnivorous creatures attempting to consume anyone daring or unfortunate enough to have entered. Dark magic is used to personify “Shadow,” something which should not have a will of its own, into an unyielding force that actively seeks to disorient its prisoners and lure them to a gruesome death. Even the so-called artwork is designed to induce terror. Many pieces portray a demonic face appearing amused as if entertained by someone entering its chambers and the dreadful fate awaiting them.

At this point, you may be thinking, “You already told us that Hyrule has a recorded long era of peace and prosperity, so it doesn’t make any sense that the Shadow Temple would be used in this time.” Well, I agree that these two pieces of history don’t fit together, but we can be confident that the Shadow Temple was indeed used in this timeframe since page 44 of The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia states that its horrific purpose was given by Hyrule’s Royal Family and the Sheikah, meaning it must have been used sometime after the formation of the Royal Family and obviously been decommissioned and hidden before the events of Ocarina of Time. So, if we’re confident about this, why would records portray Hyrule as peaceful and prosperous during this time? Well, history is by its own nature a one-sided account, meaning that the leadership of Hyrule likely rewrote their own history in an attempt to conceal their inhumanity.

It seems rather unsettling that the Royal Family and the Sheikah, whom we usually perceive as protagonists or “good guys” in the franchise, would be guilty of such violence. This naturally leads us to ask why Hyrule and the Sheikah created such a morbid place as the Shadow Temple instead of a more humane way to deal with enemies.

If we again refer to page 44 of the Zelda Encyclopedia, we’ll find an unsettling block of text which reads, “The existence of the Sheikah is typically a secret to all but members of the Royal Family and those close to them. Their tribe best fulfills its duty when acting in secret, as shadows of Hyrule. In eras of war, they are essential agents of the Royal Family, handling all manner of duties, from combat to intelligence gathering. No matter how dark or perilous the task, they will do what is necessary to keep the kingdom from harm.”

We already know that the Sheikah tend to act in secret, excel in combat, and loyally serve the Royal Family, but what’s concerning is this part about gathering intelligence, especially followed by the line “they will do whatever is necessary to keep the kingdom from harm.” If this only occurred in times of war, as this quote claims, there wouldn’t be much to worry about. But can you think of a time, either in fiction or the real world, when a government decided on its own to stop surveillance and gathering intelligence? After all, if the Sheikah had a way to eradicate any threats to Hyrule before they ever had the chance to do harm, who was to stop them from doing so? This is where the Gossip Stones come into play.

These strange statues are scattered all across the corners of Hyrule. Marked with the eye of the Sheikah, they are confirmed to see everything that occurs within their vicinity and are proficient at gaining information from those they observe. They also have a clear connection with another mysterious Sheikah artifact, The Mask of Truth, which “enables the wearer to hear the true thoughts of others and listen to rumors from the Gossip Stones.” This means that the Sheikah had found a way to use their shadow magic and/or technology to read people’s minds and spy on their innermost thoughts and desires.

Based on this knowledge, it’s possible that the so-called “Era of Prosperity” was actually a point in time where Hyrule’s leadership was analogous to the one depicted in George Orwell’s novel 1984. This story takes place in a dystopian society where there exists omnipresent surveillance which nobody can seem to escape. History is rewritten to match the narrative of “Big Brother’s” totalitarian regime, and all evidence of the truth is destroyed. And making matters somehow even worse, this entity employs a force known as “The Thought Police,” who use covert surveillance to persecute those found guilty of independent thinking. Even a single thought could have a person deemed “an enemy to society,” for which they would either be interrogated, tortured, or brainwashed to fit back into the regime or be executed, with all evidence of their existence wiped from the face of the earth.

This unjust arrest and cruel treatment of prisoners is precisely what happened within the Shadow Temple. Based on the sheer amount of blood, bones, and other human remains found within, it’s clear that torture and carnage occurred frequently. It’s said that “enemies of the Royal Family” were taken there, but it’s never made clear what convictions were made for someone to be considered an enemy of the kingdom and be sentenced to such a bloody fate. Perhaps the Sheikah took no chances and established a network of Gossip Stones, capable of covertly looking into the minds of everyone and everything that passes by and reporting back to the Shadow Folk. If anyone had even a single thought about acting against Hyrule, the Sheikah would have been able to swiftly drag them down into the shadows, leaving the only evidence they ever existed as decoration within the most morbid location to exist in Hyrule.

What I find most disturbing about this theory is how these intel-gathering devices exist in the real world. Our modern devices collect all sorts of personal information, which feed into algorithms made to determine how we think and behave. Can we really trust that this information is being gathered for the reasons we’re being told and that it’s not ever being sold to foreign entities who may have more devious intentions? Just food for thought.

This is only one of two theories I came up with for this topic. If you’d like to listen to the full article with both theories, click here to watch a video I made on my YouTube channel, Zeldom. If you would like to connect with me, you can subscribe to me on YouTube or follow me on Instagram.


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