Welcome to the second chapter of Secrets of Skyward Sword. This series digs deep into the game, uncovering mysteries of Zelda lore throughout Hylian history. This week's article takes a look at a mysterious and spiritual parallel world called the Silent Realm that plays a key role in Link's quest in Skyward Sword. Let's dig in!
In Skyward Sword, the Silent Realm serves as a testing grounds for Link as the prophesied hero. This ethereal dimension can only be entered through portals which must be opened by a combination of sacred songs and the Goddess Sword, which later becomes the Master Sword. Despite its distinct appearance, its layout is virtually identical to Hyrule - a parallel world. Perhaps the most interesting and important fact about the Silent Realm is that it houses the sacred Triforce.
Link is told in the game that the Sky Keep in Skyloft contains the Triforce, but that's not entirely true. The Sky Keep is filled with enemies and puzzles (once again testing the hero), and completing these puzzles brings Link to the crests of the three Golden Goddesses of Hyrule, Din, Nayru, and Farore. These crests serve the same purpose as the Silent Realm portals from earlier in the game. Although it's not specifically stated as such, plunging the Master Sword into each crest clearly transports Link to the Silent Realm. Here Link finds the three pieces of the Triforce.
If all of these descriptions of the Silent Realm are starting to sound familiar, it's because it is strikingly similar to another well-known spiritual realm in the Zelda series - a realm that serves as the resting place of the Triforce. Like the Silent Realm, the Sacred Realm of A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time is said to be the place where the Triforce has rested since ancient times. In A Link to the Past the Sacred Realm is only accessible through a series of portals, and its layout is nearly identical to Hyrule. In Ocarina of Time only one portal exists (that we know of), and it can only be opened by a combination of a sacred song (the Song of Time) and the act of pulling the Master Sword from its pedestal.
The parallels between these realms are pretty obvious, but there's another link that's equally as interesting. In Skyward Sword, the spirit Fi tells Link that many of Hyrule's legends have become inaccurate over time because oral tradition is "one of the least reliable methods of information retention and transmission." This is particularly relevant when considering the story of the Sacred Realm and the Triforce in A Link to the Past, as the game's manual depicts the Sacred Realm (based on legends) as a cluster of floating islands in the sky.
This visual, of course, is very similar to the floating islands of Skyloft in Skyward Sword, including the Sky Keep where the Triforce is found. The cutscene in Ocarina of Time that talks about the creation of the Triforce and the Sacred Realm also shows the Triforce floating high in the sky. Although islands are not present in Ocarina of Time's depiction (legends continue to evolve over time), it's clear that throughout Hylian history the Sacred Realm and Triforce have been associated with the sky.
Of course, what we know as Skyloft wasn't always an island in the sky. The evil demon Demise sought to find the Triforce and use it to conquer the world, and Hylia sacrificed her immortality to stop him. With the power of the Triforce (which she could only use by giving up her divinity), she sealed Demise away for as long as she could, gathered the survivors of Demise's assaults together, and sent the land upon which they stood skyward, forming the floating islands of Skyloft. At the end of the game, the Sky Keep plummets back to the ground below landing in its original resting place, just ouside of the Sealed Temple.
As such, the original resting place of the Triforce was likely just outside the Sealed Temple. A Link to the Past shows us that changes to terrain in Hyrule can affect the Sacred Realm and vice versa. Assuming that the Silent Realm is the Sacred Realm (or even just that it follows similar rules, just as other parallel dimensions in the Zelda series have been shown to do), Hylia's act of raising the patch of earth into the sky would also affect its Silent Realm parallel. Only the survivors of Demise's war were left to pass on the tale of the Sacred Realm and the Triforce, and over time the legend became blurred. Skyloft (or more specifically the Silent Realm/Sacred Realm parallel to Skyloft) was the resting place of the Triforce for ages, and so through the telling of legends Hylians came to believe that the Sacred Realm itself consisted of floating islands.
With the Sky Keep back on the ground outside the Sealed Temple, the resting place of the Triforce in the Sacred Realm also returned to the ground. However, in Ocarina of Time the Triforce is found by entering the Sacred Realm through the Temple of Time, and in Skyward Sword the Temple of Time is nowhere near the Sealed Temple. How did the Triforce (or the temple) come to change its location between the two games? I think the most likely answer is that it didn't.
The Zelda series has been around for a long time, and the history of Hyrule spans countless ages. As such, we've seen many temples bearing the same name. There have been multiple Fire Temples, Water Temples, Forest Temples, and others, each in a different location but bearing the same name. Just as in the real world, buildings are built, re-purposed, and torn down over time. New buildings are constructed, and they often bear the same name as a predecessor. The Sealed Temple itself is referred to as the Temple of Hylia in the sections of the game that take place in the past (built in honor of the goddess) and it was later renamed in honor of the sealing of Demise.
The Temple of Time in Skyward Sword (found in the desert) is called that because it houses a Gate of Time, but that portal is destroyed during the events of the game. However, a second Gate of Time is discovered in the Sealed Temple, and Link uses it to travel back in time and defeat Demise. I believe this event eventually causes the Sealed Temple to be renamed (or rebuilt) as the Temple of Time in honor of Link. Just as the Sealed Temple is the closest structure to where the Triforce rests in the Silent Realm and is used by Link to travel in time in Skyward Sword, the Temple of Time is the closest structure to where the Triforce rests in the Sacred Realm and is used by Link to time travel in Ocarina of Time. The legend continues.