Lorequest: Shadow of the Colossus Part 8- “Barba”

 

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Yes, I’m back, slinking into my favoured fortress of Lorequest. Late, as per usual. But these walls are mine and I will defend them with mass conjecture to the best of my ability!

 

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Barba, Colossus #6, otherwise known as the Slumbering Gravekeeper- the god of protecting the dead and entombed underground. 1.

Barba, Colossus #6, otherwise known as the Slumbering Gravekeeper- the god of protecting the dead and entombed underground. 1.

 

So we finally come back to Shadow of the Colossus, do we? Well good, I was tired of lying to myself and saying I didn’t have time for this anyway. But to be honest, we’re going from Avion, my favourite Colossus, to Barba, my least favourite. So you can understand my hesitation.

 

Dormin has this to say about Barba:

Thy next foe is…

A giant lurks underneath the temple…
It lusts for destruction…
But a fool, it is not.

 

This one’s actually pretty interesting. Not very helpful at all to poor little Wander but still interesting nevertheless. We’ll get to that later!

Barba showing his bony ribcage-like outcroppings and his dappled skin. 1.

Barba showing his bony ribcage-like outcroppings and his dappled skin. 1.

Barba, otherwise known as Belua Maximus is the sixth Colossus that Wander will encounter in the Forbidden Lands. He, by my investigation, was a god of the dead and guarded over them in their eternal slumber. He’s the third of the five “humanoid” Colossi and represents the next stage in the craftsmen’s attempts to create a more realistically humanoid statue. Barba is also the second and final Colossus concerned predominately with death, as he presides over a large underground catacomb and sports many ghastly and boney appendages like Phaedra, the other Colossus of the dead.

Barba’s appearance makes it fairly obvious that he’s a god of the dead. His exposed spine and even what appears to be ribs near the armour on his waist are evidence of that (and are quite similar to the other god of the dead, Phaedra). What else is interesting through is that Barba is not only sporting a tremendous beard but also dappled skin. His skin, when combined with the long beard, actually makes me think of liver-spots and thus, old age. And what’s more ancient than death itself? Not a whole lot. So Barba’s not only a wizened old caretaker of the dead and their resting places but he also represents the timeless force that all those that live must eventually fall to. He doesn’t carry a weapon, either, being the only humanoid Colossus to not have one (Malus’ exploding-lightning magic counts as its launched from his hands. Also, that big lighthouse totally has huge claws. Just saying.). This may have been a design modification by the Shamans so Barba didn’t totally wreck up the place or it may have just been that, as a god, Barba embodied death so much that a weapon was unnecessary. Barba is a representation of death and entropy as a force, a largely unfelt passage of time slowly sapping life away from bones and body while leaving its marks on skin and the beards of old men.

In other words, Barba has quite a wizened and respectable air about him, perhaps feeding into his reputation great intelligence. Like Hades with a huge beard and made out of stone that can totally beat the crap out of you. Not to say that Hades couldn’t beat the ever-loving snot out of you. Barba will just be much more direct about it.

And I can respect that. Even if I’m not the biggest fan of his actual battle.

So let’s finally get to unpacking what Dormin said about the big bearded oaf.

A giant lurks underneath the temple. Well, it’s fairly obvious that Barba is a giant, so that’s clear as it stands. But what isn’t is that Dormin says that he’s “underneath the temple,” implying that the actual temple is not where he actually is. But the rest of Barba’s building is just one big path down to the crypts he’s guarding. So that must mean that the actual temple is somewhere above him and where you can’t get to. In other words, unlike most other Colossi which directly guard their places of worship and veneration, Barba is guarding the place underneath it. But, given that he’s a god of the dead, perhaps presiding over where the living tread is a bit out of his job description.

The entrance to Barba's arena. This may be his actual temple that he waits underneath. And yet, most temples have some kind of altar or location of worship. This one simply has a hall that leads right to Barba's catacombs. 1.

The entrance to Barba’s arena. This may be his actual temple that he waits underneath. And yet, most temples have some kind of altar or location of worship. This one simply has a hall that leads right to Barba’s catacombs. 1.

So, if where Barba is waiting isn’t his temple, what’s all that down by him?

I first want to look at the structure at the far end of the room which I’ll just call the scaenae frons from now on. For those who don’t have much of an interest in Greek and Roman history, a scaenae frons is 3D backdrop used in (predominately) Roman plays. They’re actually quite beautiful being constructed like facades of buildings to give the appearance of a real structure. They were also sometimes carved into rock walls to serve as a natural stopper to the structures. The structure at the end of Barba’s arena not only has the appearance of a scaenae frons in that it looks like the façade of a structure jutting out from a wall of rock, but it even hosts Romanesque Doric columns like said scaenae fronses (What do you know? “Fronses” is the correct way to pluralize “frons”).

A real-life in Bosra, Syria. Not the pillars and the illusion of a real structure being constructed. 2.

A real-life in Bosra, Syria. Not the pillars and the illusion of a real structure being constructed. 2.

SO since scaenae fronses were used in Ancient Rome as backdrop to plays… well, what if the people of the Forbidden Lands used that structure as a backdrop to perform plays about the life of a dead person or of some kind of celebration of the dead? Seems possible. Probable? Eh. Possible? Yeah, why not.

A view of the catacombs right from right above Barba's container. The Frons is in the far back with its many pillars. 1.

A view of the catacombs right from right above Barba’s container. The Frons is in the far back with its many pillars. 1.

Day of the Dead celebration in the Forbidden Lands? Makes sense to me! I had mentioned in the Colossus page, I mentioned that since the dead play such a huge role in the plot and in the Forbidden Land’s culture (Phaedra and Barba themselves are good examples of that), there may very well be some kinds of celebrations held in the dead’s honour down there in Barba’s tomb with Barba himself looming from the other side of the room. I have no idea how people would get down to the “theatre area” and the scaenae frons since it’s just a big ladder all the way down with no steps.

Well, I mean, somehow Dark Souls is lauded as having one of the best game worlds in recent memory and IT is totally illogically built with thin walkways and impossible terrain for work animals and construction materials.

That doesn’t prove my point so much as take a pot-shot at Dark Souls. Which I still consider a win. But anyway.

So I think that idea of the structure at the end of the tomb being a scaenae frons holds water, personally. Now, what those walls and urns in Barba’s arena is a bit easier to explain. The urns are likely burial urns containing the ashes or bones or the deceased and the walls seem to have gates or windows made up of metal bars installed in them that stop Wander from walking straight through them. I wager those were added later. Symbolically speaking, I see these walls as “gates” that the dead have passed through on their way to the afterlife. More materially, I see those walls as ways for people attending the plays and celebrations at the far end of the room to reflect on the lives and deaths of those buried there. The ways through the walls were probably sealed off one Barba was in order to keep intruders from defiling the scaenae frons.

That may also be why Barba doesn’t just smack the structure when Wander is hiding in it unlike how Argus smacks the fortress with his full force. Even if (Argus) doesn’t wreck the pillars he swings at, although he totally should, he will destroy the bridges running from the two sides of the fortress. So Barba’s taking real care not to totally ruin things.

And yet, if we look again at what Dormin says about Barba, he is known for trying to be intelligent and precise with his attacks. And truthfully, if you let Barba do it, he will beat the ever-loving snot out of you with nary a hesitation when some other Colossi stop and investigate Wander at first before trying to exterminate him. So perhaps that precision mixed with brute strength helped to give Barba his reputation for intelligence. Or it could just be that he likes to investigate the scaenae frons in the far back of the tomb with his big monster golem hand. Then again, Cenobia will knock down the pillars in his city and Argus will swing his weapon at you while you’re in the fortress.

Here's Wander clinging onto Barba's face. Note how the Magic Sigil is tilted onto the left side of his head- the left side of the brain is the one used for logical thought. 1.

Here’s Wander clinging onto Barba’s face. Note how the Magic Sigil is tilted onto the left side of his head- the left side of the brain is the one used for logical thought. 1.

So I guess Barba’s not that intelligent after all. Meaning, he simply must have an overly-long lore explanation for his supposed intelligence. Oh and I’m sure the Wiki (you know, that site that’s actually much better-constructed than what I’ve got ambling on here) will also tell you that Barba’s Magic Sigil on his head is on the left side of his head, that being the logical side of the brain.

The more you know (before a little mite of a man climbs up your head and stabs it out)!

But can we stop for a second to just talk about Barba’s door? What the heck is up with that thing? Firstly, it’s a door that’s intelligent enough to realize that there’s an intruder so it lowers itself to allow Barba out of it. So, the actual engineering skill of the craftsmen of the Forbidden Lands must have been quite impressive at that point if they made a fully operational door for Barba but poor Quadratus has to bash through a wall. And yet, I think his seclusion behind the wall has two-fold reasons for it. Like Cenobia, as we’ll see later, confining Barba behind a wall that only falls when an intruder enters could stop Barba from waking up and wrecking the place as he is front to do when you fight him. I chalk this up to another instance of the Shaman’s souls being at odds with Dormins’, causing a conflict in the Colossi’s personality.

Barba looking for Wander in the Frons. Instead of Argus and Cenobia who batter anything that gets in their way as they attempt to reach Wander, Barba will investigate first and then gently (relatively speaking) hit the Frons to try to scare Wander out. 1.

Barba looking for Wander in the Frons. Instead of Argus and Cenobia who batter anything that gets in their way as they attempt to reach Wander, Barba will investigate first and then gently (relatively speaking) hit the Frons to try to scare Wander out. 1.

I wanted to give this final section its own little place rather than spreading it out just so I can talk about it all at once— that being Dormin’s advice of, “It lusts for destruction.” Given that I’ve already established that Barba is likely some kind of tomb guardian, it really shouldn’t lust for destruction in its nature. And yet, it was locked behind its huge door in order (in theory) to keep itself from destroying out of rage what it was supposed to protect. But its intelligence should be able to keep those instincts in check unless somebody threatens the tomb as a whole or the safety of the seals keeping the piece of Dormin’s soul in Barba’s body. So what’s this “destruction” referring to?

Dormin may actually be referring to Barba’s role as a god, that being a god of death. If that’s the case though, Barba hardly seems like the kind of Colossus to “lust” for destruction. Instead he appears to just be more of a passive embodiment of it. So this may be Dormin’s own opinion here, adding a sideways insult at Barba’s expense due to his influence over the dead in the Forbidden Lands (at least from a religious/spiritual standpoint). Given that Dormin receives so much of Its power via death and rebirth, perhaps Dormin really is just letting a little bit of Its own anger show through here.

Then again, there is another Colossus that Dormin mentions having “a lust for destruction,” so we’ll examine that when we get there. A looooong time from now.

Because God knows I’ll be taking another two or three months to do another one of these! But hey, Hydrus is next! My 2nd favourite Colossus!

Like that helped me doing Avion after Phaedra.

 

 

Until we meet again (in the far future) Questers!

 


 

 

Hydrus is next, I swear! I might end up tackling Over the Garden Wall in a special November version of Lorequest. That show’s got more autumn in it than a room filled with pumpkin pies and maple leaves. So it’ll be a great way for me to close out autumn!

In theory But that’s just a theory.

A LORETHEORY.

Ha. Haha. Ugh. I’m so funny.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer (and gamer) folk!

 

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1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Image from Wikipedia- “scaenae frons”

 

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Lorequest: Guns of Icarus Part 2- “Fjord Baronies”

 

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I’d like to formally blame my slight dip in interest in Guns of Icarus for the lateness of this newest entry. It’s probably because my friends and I were forced out of Novice matches so now we actually have to study enemy ships and strategy and stuff. And we’ve got Rocket League and Star Citizen to play, darnit. We don’t have time for that crap anymore!

But I still want to keep playing. It’s still fun!

 

Pyramidion pride!

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

The World of Guns of Icarus (herein simply referenced simply as "The World." The Fjord Baronies are located in the cold north and northeast.

The World of Guns of Icarus (herein simply referenced simply as “The World.” The Fjord Baronies are located in the cold north and northeast. 1.

 

Fjord Baronies (otherwise known as The Baronies)

Capital: Lord’s Leap

Specialties: Utilizing harsh terrain, defensive tactics and strategies, both flexibility and adaptability, and ambition for expansion.

 

I’d throw out a picture of the Fjord Baronies flag here but there isn’t one!

It’s the only faction to note have a flag that I could find a picture of.

The shame of it all.

 

The Baronies are located in the north of the World. As such, their climate is a little colder than most. The importance of the “fjords” makes it into the Barony’s very name, so one can imagine that the climate of the Barony’s cultural heartland may be very Scandinavian. The Chattering Fjords may be a good example of this. While the Baronies seem to have the same geographical breadth as the other factions, their manpower seems to be a bit weaker by comparison. As an extension of this lowered population, their cultural heartland very likely being in a cold climate, and likely scarce resources, the Fjord Baronies seem to favour a more defensive mindset in war.

The government seems to be more of a confederation of smaller nations instead of more singular political entities. A barony, historically, is a relatively modest amount of land given to barons, a kind of British nobility— the lowest kind in the noble ladder, as it turns out. It logically follows then that the Baronies are more of a collective and alliance between many smaller nations.

However, there is mention of something called the Kingseat, likely the capital of the Baronies, and King Greger, implying there’s a king to lead the Baronies. This could mean that the Baronies has a more symbolic monarchy, perhaps comparable to the modern-day United Kingdom. I suppose a counterpoint to that would be that it seems odd to name the capitol of a nation after nothing more than a figurehead. Well, I point to the United Kingdom once again as a counter to that counterpoint. Alternatively, the king could simply be the man in charge of the province or barony that united all the others. Regardless of the king’s actual power, the strength of the Baronies seems lesser compared to the other World powers.

The king’s name is Greger, by the way.

Evidence for the above information follows:

The Spire (ship): This tall, oblong ship is the product of the Fjord Baronies where it can put its large balloon to use in guarding the Barony’s high mountains. Originally, the ships were hardly ships at all and functioned more like nearly-stationary floating gun emplacements. Their engines were once very small, only strong enough to stop them from getting blown about in the mountainous winds. However, hard times for the Baronies seemed to be on the way, however, as the Spires were later outfitted with new, more powerful engines to turn them into full-powered airships.

The Spire, the ship constructed by the Fjord Baronies to protect their lands as something like a mobile watchtower.

The Spire, the ship constructed by the Fjord Baronies to protect their lands as something like a mobile watchtower. 1.

If we follow the earlier idea about the Baronies being a confederation of smaller, weaker nations, then the Spire is in support of that. The Spire appeared to be a mainly defensive emplacement kind of airship at first, but its retrofitted nature implies a kind of desperation to keep up with the escalation of conflict that target the Baronies. This may ring especially true if one examines the Barony’s close proximity to the Yeshan Empire. The Empire is quite possibly the most powerful political entity in the World. So, shoring up the Barony’s borders would be of paramount importance. Aside from that though, the Baronies can only expand southwestward since the Order of Chaladon controls their entire island to the east and the Anglea Republic is in a similar situation to the west. In other words, confrontation with the Yeshan Empire is inevitable. So the Baronies would want to emphasize their strengths to challenge the Yeshan industrial powerhouse.

I’m reminded of a popular strategy employed by Starcraft Terran players that may also be inspired by the island-hopping strategy used by the Americans in World War 2 in the Pacific Ocean or the “creeping barrage” tactic employed in World War 1. The Baronies may try to expand slowly but surely, creeping into Yeshan territory and using their Spires as ships to conquer and ships to protect their creeping gains. The long range of the Spires may turn whatever land their gain into meat grinders, shredding even the most dogged attacks by Yesha.

This is an incredibly beleaguered point to say that the Spire makes sense being in the Baronies weird little hands!

But in order to build these ships, or anything else for that matter, the modest Baronies need production facilities and resources. Some maps will show just what kind of a state they’re in in regards to that.

Blackcliff Metalworks: Nestled in the Eastern Ridge, the Blackcliff Metalworks processes iron from the mountains for use in the Barony’s war factories. However, the factory is deficient in both manpower and fuel, making it impossible to run at full capacity at any given time. Because of this and because of its weaker security forces (it’s all there in the map description, very frankly stated), the Metalworks are often raided by pirates and mercenaries. The workers seem to just want to keep their heads down and try to ignore the hell happening all around and above them.

The Blackcliff Metalworks, a gargantuan factory that's probably a remnant of the old world before the apocalypse.

The Blackcliff Metalworks, a gargantuan factory that’s probably a remnant of the old world before the apocalypse. 1.

This lessened manpower issue seems to come from the Barony’s small population, rather than their occupation in a larger conflict (see the above point about the theoretical war against Yesha). After all, with the Spire being a mainly defensive ship, even after its conversion to a full battleship, and the weakened defences of one of a huge and powerful factory, the Barony seems to be having trouble even keeping its borders safe. Another, potentially less grim, theory is that the Baronies are experiencing a crisis of unity. Given that it’s a confederation without the smaller, consolidated size of the Order or the Republic and the prestige of the Empire, each barony may be hesitant to help the lands of rival barons. And yet, given that it looks like everyone in this post-apocalyptic world wants to kill everyone else, civil strife seems like a petty thing to turn to now.

But hey, what do I know? I’m one of those goshdarned optimists who likes to think humanity will pull itself out of its own butt when the bad stuff really hits the fan.

Chattering Fjords: The Chattering Fjords is portrayed in this map— it is a territory under the control of the Baronies. Apparently, almost thirty years ago, the Fjords were conquered by the Baronies. They had laid siege to the “Navinstaak military base” and captured it, securing the location. However, bandits and pirates often attack the area, implying a lack of true control. And yet, the map’s description says that patrols will come through the area but for whatever reason, I’ll just assume manpower issues again, the Barony still has issues with bandits.

The Chattering Fjords, an older expansion point for the Baronies that supplies the nation with much-needed resources. And much-unneeded conflict.

The Chattering Fjords, an older expansion point for the Baronies that supplies the nation with much-needed resources. And much-unneeded conflict. 1.

I can’t dig up anything on who the Baronies are fighting in this particular battle but I’ll just blame Chaladon since the map references that the town of “Glowwater” launches patrols up there. And Glowwater is to the northeast of the Baronies proper. So Chaladon seems to be the most likely candidate. Plus they made that heathen Squid ship, which is all about quick hit-and-running. Given how slow the Spire is, the Squid seems like a natural predator of the Spire.

Just like in the actual game. Fog banks, yo!

I suppose you may think I’ll be talking about the map Water Hazard here too, but I’m leaving that to the Anglean Republic’s entry. The Baronies take up enough space as it is!

So, from all this, we can assume that the Baronies:

  1. Is lacking in manpower, technology and resources
  2. Is trying to expand its borders due to its smaller geography and comparative lack of power
  3. Is mostly failing to control what it has taken, despite its more defensive tendencies, likely due to the many bandits, pirates, and mercenaries that see the Baronies as new and vulnerable. Or they just nibble at the haunch of the Baronies since they can’t keep their own stupid pigs in their own stupid pen.
  4. Might have internal power structures due to the Balkanized (I love that term) nature of the Baronies.

 

 


 

 

The next one’s gonna be on Colossus #6. And I swear I’ll do it by the end of September. Because Five Sentence Fiction fell into some kind of black hole, so I gotta keep the fires stoked here somehow!

Also, did anywhere else who runs a blog notice that September is the worst month for views and general participation? I wonder why that is. Maybe because everybody’s outside since the terrible reign of summer has finally ended.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer (and gamer) folk!

 

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1. Images from the Guns of Icarus Wiki