If you’ve ever played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, or perhaps if you are playing through it at the moment, you are probably already familiar with the Hero’s Shade. You first come across the mysterious ghostly figure as part of the main campaign when he blocks your path toward the Forest Temple.
The Hero’s Spirit first appears as a Golden Wolf and teaches you a valuable combat move called Ending Blow. Ending Blow is such an epic move that once you learn it, it’s hard to imagine how you ever got anything done without it.
Once you learn the Ending Blow, the Hero’s Spirit offers to teach you everything else he knows. But, of course, it doesn’t come easily. The Spirit has hidden six Howling Stones around the world in Twilight Princess that you have to find while you’re in your wolf form.
Once you find and interact with a Howling Stone, it plays a song that you have to memorize and repeat back to it. If you successfully repeat the song back to the Howling Stone, the Golden Wolf will appear again in another location on the map.
Thankfully, the Golden Wolf isn’t as secretive as the Howling Stones. The icon actually appears on your map, so all you need to do is follow the marker straight to the wolf. Once you do, you will be transported to another realm where the Hero’s Shade will teach you yet another secret combat move.
Finding the Howling Stones and learning each of the seven hidden moves from the Hero’s Shade is a game-long quest that comes with its own trials and tribulations.
The hardest part is finding all of the stones, as many of them are easy to miss. Some can’t be located the first time you enter a location, either, and you have to come back later on to find them.
Thankfully for you, you don’t have to mindlessly wander the land trying to find all of the Howling Stones yourself. I’ve already done that for you.
So get your Wiis or your GameCubes out of the garage and plug them in, because I’m going to walk you through all of the Howling Stone locations, as well as all of the Golden Wolf locations, so you can truly become the Hero the mysterious Spirit wants you to be.
Key Notes Up Front
The Hero’s Shade is a mysterious figure in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with a unique quest for Link. He has hidden six stones called Howling Stones throughout the land of Twilight Princess. If Wolf Link sings the song at a Howling Stone correctly, the Golden Wolf will appear at a mysterious location somewhere else on the map.
Once you find the Golden Wolf, it will teach Link another combat move to increase his skills in battle. There are seven moves altogether:
- Ending Blow
- Shield Bash
- Back Slice
- Helm Splitter
- Mortal Draw
- Jump Strike
- Great Spin
You can only interact with the Howling Stones in wolf form, and you can only interact with the Golden Wolf in human form.
Hidden Skill #1: Ending Blow
The first hidden skill, Ending Blow, is by far the easiest one to find. In fact, you don’t really have to find it at all. The Golden Wolf will seek you out itself after you leave Faron Woods to head to the Forest Temple early on in your adventure.
To perform an Ending Blow, you first have to stun your enemy to knock it to the ground, then swing the Wii Remote and the Nunchuck down simultaneously to perform the move.
Without the Ending Blow, enemies can jump back up again and recover relatively quickly. But if you deliver an Ending Blow, you can kill a grounded enemy in one shot. This is incredibly handy and will save you a lot of time and effort once you master it.
Once you get a taste for the first awesome move, you will definitely want to master the rest of the secret lessons the Hero’s Shade has to teach you. But, unfortunately, the rest don’t come quite so easily.
Hidden Skill #2: Shield Bash
The next Howling Stone you will come across on your adventure is about halfway up Death Mountain. Once you get to the area with the shooting geysers, start looking out for a big stone with a hole in it.
That is your Howling Stone. This particular Howling Stone is more or less right in the middle of your path, so you really shouldn’t have much trouble finding it.
Since the first skill doesn’t require the use of a Howling Stone, this will be the first one you actually interact with. Make sure you pay attention to the song it plays because the Howling Stone only gives you the notes once before you are transported to the Golden Wolf’s realm.
Once you’re there, you will have to repeat the song from memory. Then the Golden Wolf will task you with finding him on the map to teach you the next hidden skill.
Once you are back in Hyrule, a Golden Wolf icon will appear on your map. That location is exactly where the Hero’s Shade will be waiting for you. In this case, you can find him in Ordon Spring. Head over there and meet with the Wolf to learn the Shield Bash skill.
Shield Bash plays out more or less how it sounds. You bash your shield into your opponent, hard. Doing so stuns the enemy for a little while, leaving them dazed and confused and open for you to hit them again with another attack before they recover.
To Shield Bash on the Wii, you just need to thrust forward with the Nunchuck. If you’re playing the GameCube version of Twilight Princess, you can Shield Bash by pressing the L and R buttons at the same time.
Hidden Skill #3: Back Slice
The next Howling Stone is hidden within Zora’s River and can’t be accessed until you’ve unfrozen the area. Once you dethaw the region, head in there and keep an eye out for the Howling Stone near Hena’s Fishing Hole. You will spot it by a cliff by Iza’s House.
Once you sing with the Golden Wolf again, it will be waiting for you by Lake Hylia near the entrance to Castle Town. Head over there to learn the next skill from the Hero’s Shade, the Back Slice.
You can perform a Back Slice by targeting an enemy and rolling around it until you’re facing the enemy’s back. If you perform a Back Slice right at the exact moment you come out of the roll, Link will jump up and slice the enemy’s back with his sword.
It’s tricky to get the timing right with this move sometimes, but it is very handy when you’ve mastered it.
To Back Slice on the Wii, shake your Wii Remote as you’re coming out of your roll. If you’re playing on the GameCube, just push the joystick to whatever side you want and press A, A, then B to Back Slice. You will usually only have to roll twice to get to the back of an enemy, but sometimes it may be more.
Hidden Skill #4: Helm Splitter
You can find the next Howling Stone when you’re on your way to defeat the Skull Kid in Sacred Grove and retrieve the Master Sword. It’s pretty hard to miss this Howling Stone, honestly, as it’s right in your line of sight on the track leading to the Sacred Grove from the Faron Woods.
The Golden Wolf will be waiting for you just outside Castle Town again. But this time, it will be nearer to the Southern entrance.
The Helm Splitter is particularly effective on fast-moving armored enemies that you can’t land a Back Slice on. You need to know how to Shield Bash first, which isn’t a problem since all of the hidden skills are always earned in the same order regardless of which stones you come across first.
To perform a Helm Splitter, you must first land a Shield Bash by thrusting your Nunchuck forward and then pressing A. On the GameCube, Shield Bash by pressing down the L and R buttons. Then press A when you see the Helm Splitter prompt pop up on the screen to activate it.
Hidden Skill #5: Mortal Draw
The fifth Howling Stone is at Lake Hylia, but it is one of the ones you have to go back for. Once you’ve got the Master Sword, head back to Lake Hylia.
The best opportunity would probably be while you’re on your way to the Gerudo Desert. Head up to the Watch Tower that you met Auru by earlier on in the game and explore around the cliffs.
The Golden Wolf will be waiting for you by the entrance to Arbiter’s Grounds. This icon is harder to find since you won’t have the map information for Arbiter’s Grounds, but just follow the Wolf icon on your map, and you will find yourself there eventually.
Mortal Draw is one of the strongest moves in the game, but it is also one of the riskiest. But you know what they say, high risk equals high reward, and that couldn’t be truer in this case.
To land a Mortal Draw, you have to have both your sword and your shield firmly tucked away. Then you have to stand completely still in front of the enemy until you are prompted to perform a Mortal Draw.
You will probably feel as naked and vulnerable as a carrot being dangled in front of your enemy’s face, but just try to trust the process.
Once the Mortal Draw prompt pops up on your screen, press A to confirm it and watch your enemies crumble. You have to be pretty vulnerable to do a Mortal Draw successfully, but it is definitely worth it.
It’s best used when you’re going head-to-head with one enemy. When you’re surrounded, you run the risk of being walloped while you’re waiting for your prompt to appear.
Hidden Skill #6: Jump Strike
If you find the stones in order of story progression, then the Jump Strike Howling Stone is definitely one of the hardest to find. You will come across it while you’re on Snowpeak Mountain, but you really do have to go looking for it.
As you’re near the edge of the cliffs on the Mountain, there is a patch of snow you can knock off one of the cliffs. When it falls, it makes a pathway so you can access the higher parts of the Mountain.
Run along a small ledge on the edge of the cliff until you come across a platform jutting out over the snow. The Howling Stone is right at the tip of the rock.
This time, the Golden Wolf will be waiting for you at the Graveyard in Kakariko Village. Follow your map icon there to learn the sixth hidden skill, Jump Strike.
This one is also quite self-explanatory, and it allows Link to jump up into the air and deliver a sword strike to his enemies. It’s more or less the same as the regular jump attack Link learns, but it is much stronger, and you can hit more than one enemy with it at once.
To Jump Strike, first target an enemy. Then hold down A until your sword charges up, and release it to unleash your Jump Strike. Your sword makes a familiar ‘ting’ sound when it’s ready to go, just like the spin attack does in other Zelda titles once that’s finished charging up.
Hidden Skill #7: Great Spin
The last Howling Stone is in Hidden Village. This one isn’t necessarily hard to find, but it does require a little pre-planning.
There are a lot of animals and things around Hidden Village, so Midna wont let you transform into a wolf anywhere you want. You will either have to go into a building to transform or possibly change into wolf form before you even enter the village.
This Howling Stone also requires you to save Imaz first. Once you’ve checked all those boxes, you can find the Howling Stone in an outside area behind the buildings.
This is the last time you will ever see the Golden Wolf, and you can find it waiting patiently for you just outside Hyrule Castle at the very end of the bridge. The Hero’s Shade really saved the best move for last as well, so head over there to learn how to perform the Great Spin.
The Great Spin is an absolutely iconic Legend of Zelda move where Link spins around while holding his sword horizontally, taking out any enemies that may be unfortunate enough to get in the way of the blade.
You can use the Great Spin by shaking your Wii nunchuck around while attacking, but the catch is that you must be in full health. So the best time to use it is as soon as you engage in a battle with whoever your enemy may be.
On the GameCube, you can use Great Spin by rotating the joystick while pressing A.
Who is The Hero’s Shade?
After all this, you may be wondering who exactly the Hero’s Shade is. I know I did, so I did some digging, and I was actually able to unravel the mystery of the Hero’s Shade.
The Hero’s Shade is the spirit of the Hero of Time, AKA the Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. There are several reasons why I was able to arrive at this conclusion, and many of those reasons were actually given to me by the Hero’s Spirit himself.
First of all, the mysterious spirit knows all of the same moves that other reincarnations of Link have been using for centuries, but that is only the most obvious clue. The second clue is what the spirit says to you once you learn the last hidden skill.
The spirit opens up to the Link of this era a little bit, telling him about 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 my regrets… go and do not falter, my child.
From his words and his name, we can gather that he was once the Hero of his time. But that begs the question what was his time, and why couldn’t anyone remember him?
At the end of Ocarina of Time, once Link defeated Ganondorf, Zelda sent him back to his original time so he could still experience and live out his childhood. Link still had all of the memories of his adventure, so he was able to sneak up to Zelda at the castle and warn her of Ganondorf’s plan.
When he did that, Ganondorf was able to be stopped before he even began, which essentially erased all of Link’s incredible feats from happening in his timeline.
Link was able to save Hyrule twice, once in the events of Ocarina of Time and a second time when he returned to his childhood and warned Zelda of what was going to happen.
But as a result, Link had to live out the rest of his days without anyone knowing what happened or what he did to save Hyrule. He regretted not being remembered as a hero, and this regret meant he was unable to move on when he eventually passed.
Thus the Hero’s Shade was left to wander the world as a restless spirit, desperate for someone to know of his courageous deeds.
He was, however, able to go on to live a full life and create a bloodline which eventually resulted in the birth of Twilight Link. That is why the Hero’s Spirit refers to him as ‘my child’.
Ocarina of Time is the only Zelda timeline where Link wouldn’t have been a household name for everyone in Hyrule, apart from in Breath of the Wild, of course. But even then people have still heard of the hero.
I also noticed that many of the songs that Hero’s Shade teaches Link sound eerily familiar to the Ocarina songs from Ocarina of Time. The Song of Healing, the Requiem of Spirit, Zelda’s Lullaby, and the Prelude of Light are all tunes that Link and the Golden Wolf sing together at the Howling Stones.
Many Zelda fans had theorized that the Hero’s Spirit was the same Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for a long time before it was officially confirmed in Hyrule Historia. Page 118 of Hyrule Historia reads as follows:
The spirit of Link’s ancestor, the Hero of Time, teaches him his secrets. Ever since returning to the Child Era, the swordsman has lamented the fact that he was not remembered as a hero. This is the reason he passes down the proof of his courage and his secret techniques to the Link of this era, addressing him as ‘son’.
It isn’t often that a Zelda theory is actually officially confirmed, so it’s very cool to be able to put a Zelda theory to rest for once.
What Do You Get for Completing the Hero’s Shade Quest in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Completing the Hero’s Shade quest by finding all the Howling Stones gives you access to seven super cool moves to increase Link’s combat prowess tenfold. You also get to learn the identity of the mysterious teacher, sort of, anyway.
Question: Do I have to Find the Howling Stones in Order?
Answer: No, all of the Howling Stones are available for you to find and activate from your first interaction with the Hero’s Spirit. No matter what order you find the stones in, you will always learn the seven skills in the same order.
Question: Is it Better to Play Twilight Princess on the Wii or the GameCube?
Answer: If you enjoy motion controls, then the Wii version is a pretty unique and fun game to play. But some people don’t like motion controls, and I do admit that sometimes the Wii’s motion controls can be kind of janky. For that reason, some people prefer the original GameCube version.
Question: What’s the most Valuable Hidden Skill You Learn by Completing the Hero’s Shade Side Quest?
Answer: I personally prefer the Great Spin, but it only works when you have full health, so you can only use it once per battle in most cases. The Helm Splitter is a close second since you can use it whenever, and it works on the fastest of enemies.
Hero’s Shade Guide: Smash Your Foes into Oblivion with the Seven Hidden Skills
The Hero’s Shade quest is epic for more reasons than one. Firstly, it is the first and probably the last time that two Links get to interact with each other like that, and secondly, because all of the moves you learn as part of the quest are just plain awesome.
Now that you know them all, the enemies of the Twilight Realm will be no match for you and you can set off to defeat Ganondorf for the hundredth time.