A recent post by zhane in my Bravenet forum got me thinking about the possibility of Miyamoto's order (OoT, MM, LoZ, AoL, ALttP) working given that LoZ and AoL happen after the Imprisoning War instead of before. I assume that, if you're reading this article, you're already familiar with Miyamoto's assertions about the storyline, and with my current theory about OoT. (See Miyamoto's Order Reconsidered and OoT's Ending, Revisited Again for background reading if you aren't.)
Consider the following prophecies about the Great Cataclysm, or Cataclysm's Eve, prophecies that dictate what happens when somebody evil gets his hands on the Triforce:
- If a person who has an evil heart gets the Triforce, a Hero is destined to appear, and he alone must face the person who began the Great Cataclysm. If the evil one destroys the Hero, nothing can save the world from his wicked reign. Only a person of the Knights of Hyrule, who protected the royalty of Hylia, can become the Hero.
(Maiden in Skull Woods, ALttP)
The Hero's triumph on Cataclysm's Eve
Wins three symbols of virtue.
The Master Sword he will then retrieve,
Keeping the Knight's line true.
(Inscription on Master Sword pedestal, ALttP)
These prophecies are told in the context of ALttP, but they also seem to work in OoT. In OoT, Link "wins three symbols of virtue" (the Spiritual Stones) and retrieves the Master Sword. He is a Hylian Knight, and he alone faces Ganondorf, the one with the "evil heart" who "began the Great Cataclysm."
Keep in mind that the Hero of Time, the legendary Hero of Hyrule, and the Hero that is destined to appear on Cataclysm's Eve are three different titles. Anyone with the right credentials can fulfill one or more of these titles, but Link's family always happens to be just right for the job. Keeping all this in mind, let's look at a possible Miyamoto-ordered scenario.
Ocarina of Time
In OoT, the prophecy of the Great Cataclysm comes true, as discussed above. Unfortunately, the Hero that was destined to appear needed to fulfill some additional criteria: those of the Hero of Time. According to Rauru, "your power to fight together with the Sages makes you the Hero of Time!" One also has to be old enough to wield the Master Sword in order to be the Hero of Time. Link wasn't old enough, so his spirit was sealed in the Sacred Realm for seven years.
During these seven years, Ganondorf stole the Triforce of Power and filled Hyrule with evil. According to the legend of the temples told by Sheik,
- When evil rules all, an awakening voice from the Sacred Realm will call those
destined to be Sages, who dwell in the five temples... Together with the Hero of Time, the awakened ones
will bind the evil and return the light of peace to the world.
Since evil did rule all during this time period, this prophecy came true. However, once it was all over, Link was sent back to his original time so he could close the Door of Time and close the road between times, so all of this happened only in an alternate future, not in reality.
What really happened was, some time later, while Ganon stayed in the Sacred Realm, his "evil army swarmed from the tainted Golden Land into Hyrule and attacked the castle." The Sages were ready this time and sealed Ganon in the Sacred Realm, while Link faced Ganon alone (in order to fulfill the prophecy of the Great Cataclysm). Link later moved the Master Sword, hid the Spiritual Stones, and hid the Triforce of Courage in preparation for the next Great Cataclysm.
The Legend of Zelda
Ganon wasn't finished yet. His followers couldn't enter the Dark World because they wouldn't be able to get out again, so Ganon used the Triforce of Power to change them into monsters WHILE they stayed in Hyrule. In this way he built up his evil army, which attacked Hyrule several centuries after OoT. (If Ganon could control Agahnim from the Dark World, I'm sure he could lead an army from the Dark World).
Somehow, word got around that this invading army stole the Triforce of Power, but in reality Ganon already had it. His army was really after the other pieces of the Triforce. This wasn't another Great Cataclysm (Ganon didn't get the Triforce, he already had it), so none of the prophecies about the Great Cataclysm have to come true. Thus, Link doesn't need to get the Master Sword, which explains why it isn't in the game. This might also explain why Ganon is not completely destroyed at the end of the game. This is not a case of evil ruling all, as in OoT's alternate future; Ganon is still stuck in the Dark World, so he's cooped up, not ruling Hyrule.
Princess Zelda knew that Ganon's army had the power to get her piece of the Triforce, and/or capture the Sages' descendants and free Ganon from his imprisonment, so "fearing his wicked rule" she split the Triforce of Wisdom and hid it throughout the realm. The pieces were hidden in mysterious Underworld labyrinths.
The crux of my theory is that the Underworld is really the Dark World, and Zelda had the magic power necessary to create portals that would allow one to enter and exit the Dark World. (This would explain the origin of the Magic Mirror in ALttP, which allows one to escape from the Dark World.) The entrances to the Underworld labyrinths are really portals leading to Dark World dungeons.
How did Ganon kidnap Zelda? He had one of his cronies send her into the Dark World, a la Agahnim in ALttP. Now, when Link enters Ganon's lair in Death Mountain, he is really transported to Ganon's lair in the Dark World Death Mountain. Here Link defeats Ganon and takes the Triforce of Power. Ganon wasn't completely destroyed, though - Link's blood could be used to revive him, and his Dark World remained intact.
The Adventure of Link
The Sleeping Zelda is either the one from OoT or one predating her. Both possibilities are equally likely, and equally well-supported. The scroll, however, is definitely a message from the Link in OoT, or whoever Link gave the Triforce of Courage to, such as the King of Hyrule. These details are unimportant compared with what happens later.
At the end of AoL, Link has the united Triforce in his grasp (which, by the way, makes him the legendary Hero of Hyrule - see below). So what does he do with the Triforce? Apparently, he hides it in the Dark World, but now that he's deprived of the Triforce's power, Ganon's henchmen use him to revive Ganon. Since the Triforce pieces can't escape out of the confines of the Dark World, Ganon gets them all, so the second Great Cataclysm occurs.
A Link to the Past
In response to this Great Cataclysm, another Hero is destined to appear. This hero is the Link of ALttP. It is assumed that ALttP happens centuries after AoL, but these events could also have happened just a few years later. Let's imagine for a moment that the Link in ALttP is the son of the Link in LoZ and AoL. This would explain why the ALttP Link is an orphan. Also note that in AoL Hyrule is "on the road to ruin," and at the beginning of ALttP "new disasters... have recently struck Hyrule. Pestilence and drought, uncontrollable even by magic, ravaged the land." This evidence seems to suggest a smooth transition from AoL to ALttP.
This time Ganon used a different strategy. He built up his army within the Dark World, and sent only one wizard, Agahnim, to infiltrate the Royal Family of Hyrule and send the descendants of the Sages into the Dark World. Link, who is the Hero of the Great Cataclysm prophecy, also fulfills the prophecies of the legendary Hero of Hyrule. According to the ALttP manual, "if you clear all of the dungeons of evil and win the Triforce, you will be recognized as the true legendary Hero of Hyrule." So that's all it takes to be the Legendary Hero. Prophets also foresaw this time period, and made a message for the legendary Hero that would appear in this time period (see the ALttP manual).
Link fulfills all the prophecies about the Great Cataclysm and the legendary Hero of Hyrule. This time Ganon is completely destroyed, and he and his Dark World disappear, hopefully forever.
Various Additions to the Theory
According to Sahasrahla in ALttP, "three or four generations ago, an order of knights protected the royalty of the Hylia... Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed in the great war against evil that took place when the seven wise men created their seal." According to the ALttP manual, the Imprisoning War took place many centuries before ALttP. This theory accounts for many centuries taking place between OoT and ALttP, but since many centuries does not equal three or four generations, what about the Knights? Sahasrahla's quote can be interpreted to mean that most of the Knights were destroyed many centuries ago, and that they have been protecting the Royal Family up until three or four generations ago, i.e. when most of the rest of them were killed by Ganon's army in LoZ and AoL. By the time of ALttP, Link is the only Hylian Knight left.
The only question left is, when does Link's Awakening take place? Since Ganon is supposedly completely destroyed after ALttP, there should not be any ashes left over (but who knows, maybe there are). Since Ganon's ashes are a problem in LA and in AoL, the Link in LA is more likely to be the same Link as in LoZ and AoL. Notice that the Link in LoZ has fulfilled the prophecies of the legendary Hero of Hyrule - he has cleared all of the dungeons of evil and has won the Triforce. He may not have stopped a Great Cataclysm, but he has "fulfilled the Hyrulian prophecy of the Legendary Hero and destroyed the evil tyrant Ganon" (LA manual). It's still possible that LA takes place after ALttP, so Miyamoto is partially correct in saying that LA can come "anywhere" in the series.
Weak Spots in the Theory
Although the theory I have lined out is beautiful and explains several things, it still has some major weak spots.
First of all, the ALttP manual and game both seem to imply a continuous, unbroken history between the Imprisoning War and the present time. There is absolutely no mention of Ganon dying and coming back to life. Of course, records may have been lost, memories could have faded, and/or the event simply wasn't mentioned because it was too unimportant.
Another possibility is that the events of LoZ and AoL happened one generation prior to ALttP, and were simply lumped in with "recent disasters" that struck Hyrule. Nobody realized that Ganon died and came back to life, because his army did everything for him and Zelda's kidnapping was kept a secret.
It's also difficult to get around the fact that the LoZ manual says that Ganon's army stole the Triforce of Power, not that Ganon already had it. Maybe by this time people had forgotten how the Triforce of Power had originally disappeared, and conveniently blamed its disappearance on Ganon's army (an accusation which was closer to the truth than they realized).
Another problem lies with the definition of the Hero who will stop the Great Cataclysm. According to Aginah, a Sage who hides in a cave in the Desert of Mystery in ALttP,
- I sense something is happening in the Golden Land the seven wise men sealed...
This must be an omen of the Great Cataclysm foretold by the people of Hylian blood...
The prophecy says, "The Hero will stand in the desert holding the Book of Mudora."
In order for the Link in OoT to fulfill the Great Cataclysm prophecy, he must stand in the desert holding the Book of Mudora. The Book of Mudora didn't even make an appearance in OoT. Link must have found it after Majora's Mask and held it in the desert (either the Desert of Mystery or the Haunted Wasteland), in order to fulfill this part of the prophecy.
But Link also had to fulfill the prophecy in the alternate future, the one in which Ganondorf conquered Hyrule! Maybe the game didn't tell the whole story, and Link was really using the Book of Mudora to translate those inscriptions in the Haunted Wasteland...
Personally, I think my other theory that explains how Miyamoto's order could work (see Miyamoto's Order Reconsidered) is more valid than this one, and requires less bending of facts. That puts this theory at the bottom of my scale of credibility. It's is a nice theory and could be made to work somewhat smoothly, but it contradicts a lot of known facts. Who knows, maybe Miyamoto intended the storyline to run this way. I guess we'll find out more when the GameCube Zelda comes out.