You don’t want to read me make a long-winded introduction, you want to read a long-winded piece about Shadow of the Colossus!
The Quest begins~
After a break from Shadow of the Colossus Lorequest that I really didn’t intend to take, we’re back to talk about my favourite Colossus, Avion.
Thy next foe is…
It casts a colossal shadow across a misty lake…
as it soars through the sky…
To reach it is no easy task…
There’s not a whole lot to read into with this one. It’s actually pretty helpful information since it lets Wander know that he won’t be able to just climb up Avion like he’s done with the previous four Colossi. However, it does confirm that Avion is perched above a natural lake and not one designed for the sole purpose of placing Avion in it. This may be even more supporting evidence to Avion’s role as a god of lakes in the Forbidden Lands.
Avion, otherwise known as Avis Praeda by the community, is the fifth Colossus Wander will encounter in the Forbidden Lands. It is, through my own investigation, the first god of water (of four) and the first airborne god (of two) in the Forbidden Lands. Avion’s domain is medium-depth water, such as lakes. Avion seems to be in the form of a bird of prey and its lake is misty and tranquil, so it could very well have the role of being a caretaker and guardian of natural lakes and similar bodies of water.
Avion is the first Colossus so far to have an arena boasting a structure that is certainly a temple. The structures are mostly categorized as high, thin towers. This plays well into Avion’s supposed role as a watcher of the skies, particularly over bodies of water. Nearly every structure could conceivably be used as a kind of perch for Avion to rest on. Of course, when Avion was merely a statue, the towers would have just served more of a symbolic role rather than something for Avion to actually set atop. Of course, as we see during Avion’s battle, it will perch on the many towers, far out in the water.
The nature of Avion and, as we’ll examine later, the other flying Colossus, Phalanx, is worth noting. Avion is perhaps the most peaceful Colossus after Phalanx. Their abilities to fly factor into this peacefulness. While it may seem that being an enormous flying rock monster would give Avion a huge advantage in battle, it is not the Colossus’ objective to destroy their enemies. Instead, the Colossi are merely supposed to keep Dormin’s soul fragments from escaping. In other words, their goal is to stay alive. So, it simply makes sense for Avion to sit atop its distant perch and simply observe Wander rather than attack it. In fact, if Wander swims right up to the pillar where Avion is sitting, it will still not attack. Instead, it will hardly acknowledge that Wander exists, sending scornful metaphorical daggers from its eyes. Thinking about it logically, the only way for a flying, nigh-invulnerable creature to be killed is to open itself up to a counterattack. More aggressive Colossi such as Cenobia and Gaius show the danger of opening up oneself to attack.
It is only after Wander attacks Avion first using his bow that Avion will swoop down to attack. Fun fact: I always thought that Avion’s method of attack shows off just what a sea bird it is since it rises itself up high and then swoops downward as if it was diving for fish.
Anyway, once Avion knows that it is in danger, it will attack. Otherwise though, it will keep Dormin’s soul fragment at a safe distance from all intruders. As an extrapolation point, I always found it interesting that Wander is, for all intents and purposes, a swordsman. And yet, he has virtually no skill with a sword whatsoever. It is mostly his skill with a bow, riding skill, and almost suicidal drive to succeed that makes him so dangerous. So I always liked to imagine a knight in shining armour riding into the Lands with the Ancient Sword aloft only to find that he had no way to get Avion to fly down and attack him. In short, the Colossi never expected Wander, somebody willing to cling on top of them rather than cut them down and somebody who uses their brain more than their sword arm. And so, Avion displays what may be a lapse in judgment as it moves to attack Wander from the sky.
Furthermore, and this is just Team ICO thinking of everything, I think, but if Wander manages to fall on any of the ruins near Avion’s primary resting pillar (the Cloak of Desperation can help with doing so), Avion will eventually approach the ruins and start to flap its wings. The flapping will create gusts of wind that will, sooner or later, blow Wander off the ruins and into the water below. So, even when Wander is vulnerable, has nowhere to run, and is likely injured from the fall, Avion still will not attack him directly, choosing instead to remain at a distance. However, we’ll see a counterpoint to Avion’s intelligence through Barba when we get to him. What I mean by that is, Avion may just not be that smart. It’s the first Colossus to not have a major sigil on its head. Dormin makes a point to address Barba’s intelligence and his corresponding major sigil is positioned on its head to a slight angle where it hovers over the logic hemisphere of the brain. So, since Avion’s major sigils (the tips of its wings and on its tail) are more about terminating its skill in flight rather than its brain processes, it may just not be too terribly intelligent. This may be why it chooses to attack Wander after he hits it with his bow when the bow will never deal any damage to Avion; it doesn’t even have any minor sigils that Wander can break. Avion may just be living out its bird of prey instincts after all.
Avion, being the first of two airborne Colossi, represent an interesting question about the Colossi’s nature (there is also Basaran to consider but we’ll get to that when the time comes). If Avion and Phalanx can fly, couldn’t they just fly out of their arenas and wander the Forbidden Lands? Well, if we’re still making the big assumption that my Shaman-soul-inside-Colossus theory is still holding water, then I think it’s probable that the Colossi won’t leave their lairs because, as gods of the Forbidden Lands, they were not meant to. After all, is Avion, guardian of the misty skies, really the same god anymore if it ends up hovering over a desert or hill? Just as the Colossi were meant to be gods of specific aspects of the Forbidden Lands and its people, so too are they expected to stay at the posts they were built for.
For a little more on Avion’s shrine, it’s vaguely reminiscent of Gaius’ in that it is partially underwater. Where Wander stands to attract Avion’s attention is not a fully-connected walkway either, possibly implying a situation similar to Valus’ where adherents and pilgrims to Avion would need to subject their own bodies to a small trial of dexterity and finesse (It may not sound too hard, but I bet those stones are slippery!) if they wish to pay their respects. While the main body of the shrine is still above water, the amount of pillars and other buildings, some of which Wander can even land on, may hint that there have may have been more of the temple at one point. Then again, because Avion perches itself atop those pillars, those pillars and ruins may simply have been placed there for aesthetics as an artist reimagining of rocks that birds of prey usually perch on. Given that Avion is wrought by the hands of humans and was placed in that lake by human hands, it may not be too farfetched.
I find that I’m ending a lot of my more adventurous points with “may not be too difficult to see if you really squint and tilt your head the right way.” That probably doesn’t speak well of my credibility.
Until we meet again, Questers!
Next time on Dragonball Z, more Colossus Lorequest! After watching the Last Guardian gameplay trailer and being resuscitated afterwards, I’m totally ready to tackle as much Team ICO stuff as my little, questionable-strength heart can handle!
Good luck, you brave writer (and gamer) folk!
1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.
2. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus