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

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

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!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 


 

 

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!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 


 

 

 

1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Image from Wikipedia- “scaenae frons”

 

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Lorequest: Shadow of the Colossus Part 7- “Avion”

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

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!

And so,

 

The Quest begins~

 


 

 

Avion, Colossus #5, otherwise known as the Alpha Hunter- the patron god of lakes and their misty banks. Avion's bird of prey appearance but gentle nature gives it a bit of a two-sided personality. 1.

Avion, Colossus #5, otherwise known as the Alpha Hunter- the patron god of lakes and their misty banks. Avion’s bird of prey appearance but gentle nature gives it a bit of a two-sided personality. 1.

 

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.

 

Dormin’s Advice

 

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.

Wander taking aim on Avion far in the distance. From where its perched, its essentially unassailable by the Ancient Sword. 2.

Wander taking aim on Avion far in the distance. From where its perched, its essentially unassailable by the Ancient Sword. 2.

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.

A closeup of Avion's face as it attacks. The bump on the end of its beak always seemed reminiscent of a seabird.

A closeup of Avion’s face as it attacks. The bump on the end of its beak always seemed reminiscent of a seabird. 1.

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.

Avion's swooping attack. Note how its talons are opened up as if to grab Wander. It makes me think that if Wander didn't latch onto Wander as soon as he did (and if it was programmed to be possible), Wander might have gotten picked up in Avion's claws like he was a fish. 1.

Avion’s swooping attack. Note how its talons are opened up as if to grab Wander. It makes me think that if Wander didn’t latch onto Wander as soon as he did (and if it was programmed to be possible), Wander might have gotten picked up in Avion’s claws like he was a fish. 1.

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.

Avion will always try to use its huge size, speed, and inaccessability to defeat Wander. Even though it can't be easily hit from all the way across the water, it will almost never stay still when on the attack- staying still means it will make itself vulnerable.

Avion will always try to use its huge size, speed, and inaccessability to defeat Wander. Even though it can’t be easily hit from all the way across the water, it will almost never stay still when on the attack- staying still means it will make itself vulnerable. 1.

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.

A shot of Avion's arena from the outside. The building seen is one of the first buildings we can see in the Forbidden Lands that is certainly a still-standing temple. 1.

A shot of Avion’s arena from the outside. The building seen is one of the first buildings we can see in the Forbidden Lands that is certainly a still-standing temple. 1.

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!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 


 

 

1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus

 

Friday Fictioneers: To He it Concerns

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

Well, this is a bit of an odd feeling, isn’t it? It’s been practically all quiet on the Wettengel front for about a week. That’s what I get when Five Sentence Fiction doesn’t show up for a whole week, my laptop was almost on its deathbed, and I was running around on interviews all week.

I swear, one day I will remember to do the next Lorequest. Perhaps I’ll do it tomorrow alongside Flash! Fridays and Five-Sentence Fiction.

As much as I love my blog and all you readers, I don’t know how happy my Friday will be with me if I spend it all with you, though. I had to take time away from my friend’s birthday celebrations last time to post my most recent Friday Fictioneers.

Boy, with how complicated I make things, it’s really no wonder relationships end up being like a big game of time-management chess for me.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Image Copyright:  Kent Bonham

Image Copyright: Kent Bonham

 

Word Count: 100

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Title: To He it Concerns

 

 

Dear, the breaker of families,

 

I found your photo with my mother, singed and in the trash. She put it there herself and she blackened it. You must feel awful learning that.

My father was on an arctic oil rig for a year and you came and plundered my family. My mother was lonely and I was young. You ended up leaving her more alone than ever.

But I have to thank you for your stupidity— this letter should reach you if the address on the back of the photo is still valid.

I’ll be paying you a visit soon.

 

 

 


 

 

Well, I was just going to sigh and say something along the lines of, “Ho hum I wish I could write something like Battle of Dinnerplate 6 again” but this time, I actually have something useful to say. The new and independent publisher Ceti Publishing has just officially come alive. Why is this a big deal? Well, “big” is relative, but it decided to pick up Garamoush for republishing. Currently I’m hard at work on almost totally retooling the entire book, from its style to its chapter composition, in order to bring it up to speed with the quality I presume to have achieved after an additional year of schooling.

Ceti specializes in up-and-coming (again, relatively speaking) speculative fiction authors, so those who are interested in seeing what the indie community can come up with outside of the ungodly maze that is Amazon’s book section, should check Ceti out.

Facebook link is here!

Website link is here!

 

The ending of this endnote is HERE (finally)!

 

 

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

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

Lorequest: Shadow of the Colossus Part 6- “Phaedra”

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

I would start this off by apologizing that it’s later but since I’m running on Michael-Time (patent pending lost in the mail room), “on time” and “late” don’t seem to factor into any kind of reality that I recognize. So instead, I’m just going to get down to the skinny of this and say: “It’s time for more Shadow of the Colossus Lorequest!”

 

The Quest beings~

 


 

 

 

 

Phaedra, Colossus #4, otherwise known as the Warhorse of the Graves- The patron god of shepherding the spirits of the dead to the afterlife. Here we see the ghostly, morbid form of the Colossus at the fair end of its lair. 1.

Phaedra, Colossus #4, otherwise known as the Warhorse of the Graves- The patron god of shepherding the spirits of the dead to the afterlife. Here we see the ghostly, morbid form of the Colossus at the fair end of its lair. 1.

 

Dormin’s Advice

 

Thy next foe is…

In the land of the vast green fields…
Rows of guiding graves…
It is giant indeed but fearful, it is not.

 

This time, Dormin’s advice is vague and even potentially incorrect. Naturally, this makes it really fun to talk about!

 

Phaedra showing its only major sigil, positioned directly atop its head. 1.

Phaedra showing its only major sigil, positioned directly atop its head. 1.

 

Phaedra, or Equus Bellator Apex, by the community, is the fourth of sixteen Colossi encountered by Wander in the Forbidden Lands. Its lair is in a secluded green pasture surrounded by shady, misty mountains that prominently features a large underground tomb. Its lair is reached by coming down an earthen ramp into the pasture and Phaedra waits atop a large stone square marked with an indecipherable runic language often seen in the Forbidden Lands.

Phaedra, in my interpretation, is a god of shepherding the souls of the dead to their resting places in the afterlife. The most immediate evidence for this is Phaedra’s appearance. It is skeletal-looking, standing atop four tall, spindly legs that resemble bones without flesh or muscle. Additionally, it was one of two Colossi that have a bone structure jutting out from its body. The other is Colossus #6, the other Colossus heavily affiliated with death and burial (oh and I guess Pelagia has exposed ribs, too. I’ll come up with something for that, I swear!). In this case, Phaedra has a ribcage-like structure coming out of its chest. Dormin’s comment, while strangely inaccurate (and something I’ll get more into later), does mention “guiding graves,” implying a connection between Phaedra and the dead. And finally, the large ruins that Wander must use to defeat the Colossus is almost definitely a tumulus, a hill situated over a grave that has been used for millennia across cultures.

Phaedra showing off its creepy boney outcroppings, especially its distended ribcage. 1.

Phaedra showing off its creepy boney outcroppings, especially its distended ribcage. 1.

Since there’s actually not much to talk about in terms of Phaedra outside of it looking awesome/creepy/undead and it being in a calm, misty area, let’s start picking apart what Dormin has to say about our Warhorse of the Graves!

 

“It is giant indeed but fearful, it is not.”

What on earth is this supposed to mean? Wouldn’t a large size imply greater strength and confidence? Well, as we saw with Quadratus, that is not always true. And yet, as we will later see with Celosia, there appears to be no correlation between size and confidence regardless of largeness or smallness. So, maybe Dormin is implying that Phaedra was, at one point, very fearful. Potentially, Dormin may be trying to inform Wander that Phaedra, in its original state as an idol, was not one prone to violence. However, with the Shaman’s spirit inside and Wander carting around pieces of Dormin inside of him, Phaedra’s attitudes may have changed. After all, Phaedra clearly isn’t any kind of coward. While it does not actively seek out and try to kill Wander like Dirge or Cenobia, it certainly has no qualms about trying to smash Wander to bits. It’s feasible that Phaedra, as a god of death, may have been pacifistic. Given Phaedra’s shape as a horse with dangling reigns (implying that others have control over it), it appears as though Phaedra was a Colossus that was made to be more subservient to people rather than a Colossus that would have people worship it. There is no temple to Phaedra in its lair, as well. So, rather than inflicting death, Phaedra may just have been in charge of keeping death in working order and controlling the population of souls that go to the afterlife.

Despite implications that Phaedra may have been a coward, it will actively look for Wander when he hides in the tumulus. 1.

Despite implications that Phaedra may have been a coward, it will actively look for Wander when he hides in the tumulus. 1.

Oh, and as a much shorter and less interesting theory— Dormin may just be warning Wander because Quadratus wasn’t the bravest of sorts. Quadratus was the only other massive quadrupedal Colossus that Wander had fought up until this point, so perhaps Dormin was simply warning Wander not to get comfortable thinking that all giant quadrupedal god creatures are big fat cowards.

But that’s boring, so to heck with that!

Let’s go further than that, though. Let’s examine what else Dormin says— namely about the “guiding graves” situation.

Here we see the trees growing in Phaedra's arena. There is a theory that the trees represent the graves that Phaedra stands over. 1.

Here we see the trees growing in Phaedra’s arena. There is a theory that the trees represent the graves that Phaedra stands over. 2.

What is strange about what Dormin says though, is that It pluralizes the word “grave.” However, as the player can see, there is only one specific and defined grave structure in the entire arena. And one cannot even make the argument that multiple people are entombed in the tumulus since Dormin also makes mention of “rows” of said graves. Personally, I see only two ways in which Dormin’s words can be interpreted and still made sense of. Meaning, I am disregarding the idea that Dormin may simply be lying— after all, It hardly has any reason to since It truly wants to see Wander succeed.

So, either Dormin’s knowledge of the Colossi is outdated due to Its separation from the natural world for a long time and the rows of graves that Phaedra once loomed over no longer exist, or the graves are highly atypical in nature and exist in plain sight.

In regards to the first theory, it is hard to make heads or tails of any kind of truth of it. Dormin’s soul is fractured into sixteen (roughly speaking, after all, It still needs enough of a soul of speak to Wander from the Shrine of Worship) fragments, which may imply that It still has some kind of awareness of what It’s soul pieces are doing. However, given the point I made in the Colossus entry about the Shaman spirits moving to counteract Dormin’s influence in the Colossus by making them fight intruders rather than lie down and die for them, defuses this point a bit. Dormin’s awareness of where Its souls currently rests is a bit dubious. Of course, there is still the issue of how on earth Dormin can even help Wander at all with hints. What I would guess is that Dormin’s knowledge of the Colossi is tertiary, rather than first-hand. After all, since the souls of Shamans and Dormin were placed into the Colossi, which themselves were already god-like idols that existed in the Forbidden Lands, it is possible that Dormin is merely telling Wander what It knows about the Colossi’s nature as idols and gods. This may, may just explain the oddity that is Cenobia’s city-destroying rage, Celosia’s fear of fire, and Malus’ abandonment of its violent urges once Wander crawls onto its hand. The Forbidden Lands have been isolated for a long, long time if the decay of their buildings and natural environment is anything to go by (which I believe it is). So, the Colossi, being animated by humans, have likely changed somewhat over time. In this way, it is possible that, at one point, there were “guiding graves” that Phaedra once stood guard over. However, time may have just worn away the graves in the same way that time and nature have worn away other structures throughout the Lands. The tumulus may have just been the largest and most important of the graves in the area so it stayed intact the longest.

Phaedra's arena, a large pasture-like area with misty mountains, thin trees, and a large underground tomb, otherwise known as a tumulus. 2.

Phaedra’s arena, a large pasture-like area with misty mountains, thin trees, and a large underground tomb, otherwise known as a tumulus. 2.

The other theory around the graves suggests that the graves in Phaedra’s pasture are merely atypical of what we would normally consider graves. I would be hesitant to accept this theory, even before going into details. To me at least, “graves” imply gravestones. And gravestones are a kind of “stele,” a more general term for a wooden or stone tablet meant to show commendations or accomplishments for a (usually) dead person. Stele have been in use for at least two millennia. So, if the people in the Forbidden Lands are using a tumulus, it would logically follow that their method of burying and marking the dead (meaning, burying the corpse underground and using some kind of raised earthen mound and a stone container for the corpse) would seem to be similar to ones in our world.

However, let us just go with the theory for now.

I have read a theory floating around that the trees that live around the rim of the arena are used for marking the graves of those who have died. Honestly, this seems almost plausible, since planting a corpse alongside the seed of a tree would be a very naturalistic way to bury somebody, as their bodies would return to nature. Given that shamans, spiritual leaders often tied to nature, are prominent in the culture of the Forbidden Lands and beyond, it is possible that the trees-as-graves idea may hold some water (then again, Barba’s underground tomb seems to defuse the idea that death is only treated in a natural way in the Lands). However, I am hesitant to accept this theory on the grounds that we can see the structures of the Forbidden Lands in enormous decay. Stone structures would take many, many years to fully decay and collapse into dust and nothingness. As I mentioned in the Forbidden Lands Lorequest entry, it has indeed been a terribly long time since Dormin was imprisoned. If trees were used to mark graves, I would think that the trees would have grown enormous or would have simply died off. If my more-than-flimsy grasp of botany fails to sway you, then I turn you to the word “guiding” from Dormin. “Guiding” implies some kind of information being conveyed so that guidance may be imparted. Well, if the graves are trees, trees that have no kind of carvings or markings on them whatsoever, then they are not truly “guiding” anymore. In other words, Dormin still managed to get the nature of the graves wrong when telling it to Wander, proving that the first theory may have some kind of real power.

And I’m not just saying that because I made it up!

And to prove it, I will also totally destroy the other potential atypical grave— that idea being that people are buried underneath Phaedra, beneath the huge stone slab that it rests on. It is possible, albeit highly unlikely, that each symbol on Phaedra’s slab is a kind of marking for a person buried beneath it. However, how new people would be buried down there once the stone slab was placed down is totally lost on me. And that’s probably because the theory is kind of bunk. It is not totally impossible but it simply doesn’t have any evidence going for it. However, it is interesting to note that if this theory is accepted, then the “guiding graves” may not guide Wander or others visiting the area but instead guide Phaedra, reminding it of its duty and position to shepherd the dead.

Phaedra's plate can be seen here with Phaedra itself rising above it. The plate is rimmed with the traditional runic language of the Forbidden Lands. 2.

Phaedra’s plate can be seen here with Phaedra itself rising above it. The plate is rimmed with the traditional runic language of the Forbidden Lands. 2.

And yet, I do think that the slab beneath Phaedra is more likely a large mural of sorts, but a mural of words. These words would have some kind of funerary purpose such as a graveyard-wide blessing or spell of protection. Phaedra’s resting position atop the slab does seem to imply that it is incredibly important and central to the entire area. So, I would imagine that the indecipherable rune language on the slab tells of some kind of story or blessing meant to commemorate the dead or even Phaedra itself. Granted, I have no idea what that may be since the runic language of the Lands is, again, indecipherable.

 

Here’s a random fun fact: Phaedra’s design is my favourite of all the Colossi!

And here is my primary evidence for why Phaedra is my favourite Colossus design. I mean, have you even seen this guy?! 1.

And here is my primary evidence for why Phaedra is my favourite Colossus design. I mean, have you even seen this guy?! 1.

Well, on that irrelevant note, I think I will end this entry here. Phaedra’s going to go lie down for a bit and shepherd souls off to the afterlife where they can hang out with Dormin and the deceased forms of my once-healthy wrists and finger joints.

 

Until we meet again, Questers!

 


 

 

Given just how quickly I can churn these out sometimes, it makes me wonder why I don’t do more of them. A question for the ages that I would answer but I just can’t be bothered/because I’m too distracted by other stuff.

 

Oh, that may be why.

 

 

Good luck you brave writer (and gamer) folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 


 

1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus

 

 

 

Lorequest: Shadow of the Colossus Part 5- “Gaius”

 

I know this one took me forever. But I was busy! And I don’t care if this actually only took me a few days to do, my Senior Honours Research project was a challenge, darnit. Incidently, the project ended at 203 pages of prose, beating out my “most pages handed in for a single project” of 124 pages and, coincidentally, “the most horror I’ve ever seen in a faculty member’s eyes” records from last year.

But now, we continue on with Shadow of the Colossus! I think I’ll do one more Colossus then move on to a Majora’s Mask entry followed by a Shadow of the Colossus character entry. The character ones require a lot more scrutinizing than the Colossi. But anyway…

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

 

The towering Gaius, otherwise known as the Paragon of Battle, looming towards its miniscule opponent atop its enormous arena.

The towering Gaius, otherwise known as the Paragon of Battle, looming towards its miniscule opponent atop its enormous arena. 1.

 

Dormin’s Advice

 

Thy next foe is…

A giant canopy soars to the heavens…
The anger of the sleeping giant shatters the earth…

 

Though Dormin isn’t particularly helpful here, his last statement will be worth looking at.

 

 

Gaius' arena seen from the lake surrounding it. Be sure to take note of the thinness of

Gaius’ arena seen from the lake surrounding it. Be sure to take note of the thinness of the plateau’s bottom. 1.

 

Gaius, or Terrestris Veritas, by the community, is the third of sixteen Colossi encountered by Wander in the Forbidden Lands. Its lair is atop a large round arena-like plateau on a lake that is surrounded by bleak stone canyons. Its lair is reached by running up a long ramp and jumping to traverse a broken pillar.

Gaius, in my interpretation, is a kind of battle god. The primary evidence for this is its armour, which includes a breastplate, wrist, and leg guards. Also, the fact that its weapon is a gigantic club-like sword grafted to its right hand should be a pretty big indicator that Gaius is heavily-associated with battle. The community also likes to call Gaius the “Earth Knight” and I think that’s fair. Minus Malus, I think Gaius is probably the most human-looking of all of the Colossi. Even though Gaius is not wearing a helmet (which would seem like a good idea actually, since its sigil is under there and Gaius is clearly a warrior-type Colossus), it does look as close to a knight as a towering monster of stone can.

It should be fairly obvious to anybody that has had more than a passing glance at Gaius to know that it’s more than a little strange looking. Its feet are orbs, its head has a strange deflated look to it, its “sword” is really just a long club which appears to be fused to its right wrist and its left wrist is just a mess of crude “fingers.” In a word, I feel like “crude” really is the best way to describe Gaius. Its construction looks rather amateurish, or as amateurish as somebody can be in creating a giant rock golem. However, I think there is a completely reasonable reason for this oddness. Consider the five humanoid Colossi, Valus, Gaius, Barba, Argus, and Malus. Next, separate them into two groups, one called the “slim” group and the other called the “wide” group. Valus, Barba, and Argus fit into the “wide” group and Gaius and Malus fit into the “slim” group. Now, as anybody who has dabbled into physics could tell you, it’s much easier to make something function efficiently the lower it is to the ground and the wider surface area it has to distribute its weight. That is to say, making a car is much easier than making a walking bipedal robot. Alternatively, a human can run on all fours like a dog but a dog cannot truly walk on its hind legs like a human.

My goodness Gaius has a dumb-looking head. Seriously. It's just not that anatomically correct-looking.

My goodness Gaius has a dumb-looking head. Seriously. It’s just not that anatomically correct-looking. 1.

The two builds are separate, this is the same for the Colossi. The non-humanoid Colossi would likely have been much easier to sculpt for the residents of the Forbidden Lands. So, while it would have been harder to create the humanoid ones compared to the animalistic ones, making more bulky and simple Colossi such as Valus, Barba, and Argus would likely have still been easier than managing the correct proportions of slimmer humanoids. Also keep in mind that Valus, despite its vaguely humanoid shape, still lacks any kind of human-like head and, as touched on in its own article, it is covered with crude architectural details just jutting out of its body very haphazardly. So, if we consider for a moment that the Colossi were made in the number they are fought, making Valus the first made and Malus the last to be built, then it would logically follow the Gaius was made when the residents of the Lands were still new to this whole giant golem-building business.

Even seen more fully here, Gaius' thinner, more human-like body is more than  a little odd to look at.

Even seen more fully here, Gaius’ thinner, more human-like body is more than a little odd to look at. 1.

And no, not just the humanoid Colossi are subject to this phenomenon as it turns out, but we’ll get to that around the time we eventually stop to talk about Celosia and Cenobia.

However, Gaius as a warrior god or spirit does not just come from its appearance. Its arena is worth noting.

Despite its important, there’s not a whole lot to say about Gaius’ arena. It is a wide-open earthen disc with carved edges with the Colossus itself just lying out in open space. The only two things that seem to be of interest are the ramp coming up to the arena and the large metal plate in the middle. The ramp, like Quadratus’, probably plays a role in letting us examine just who would be coming up to see Gaius. Gaius’ ramp is very long and wide enough to accommodate about two or three people. Note that there is no guardrail on the bridge, although that could have potentially just worn away with time because, as you’ll see later, I don’t think Gaius’ ramp was supposed to extend deep into the water. If one looks at the ramp when running up it, the bridge seems to be fractured into segments and don’t seem to be fitting together as well as they probably once did. The whole thing seems to sag and droop. However, I will say that while it’s possible for the guardrail to have fallen away, I think it fits in with the metal plate’s purpose for there to be no secure way of getting up to see Gaius.

The ramp leading up to Gaius' arena. Notice the pieces of it breaking apart.

The ramp leading up to Gaius’ arena. Notice the pieces of it breaking apart. 2.

To further avoid what I should be really talking about (the plate), note that Gaius has no temple on its arena. Or rather, it has no immediately apparent temple on its arena. However, if one looks at the braces around the arena, they are bearing the sigils often seen throughout the Lands at various points of importance. Examples that we’ve already seen of that would be along the stone walls and on the base of the pillars in Quadratus’ area. In other words, Gaius’ arena is its temple. And when warriors come to worship Gaius, they worship the only way warriors truly can- with fighting. So if these warriors were about to fight each other, potentially to the death, not having a handrail when going up the ramps seems to only push the heavy symbolism involved with being a warrior. Care and balance must be kept at all times to stop stupid mistakes from getting you killed. Furthermore (I’m almost to the disc, I swear), I’m really quite stumped with the whole hammer-shaped thing jutting up from the water near Gaius’ arena. I highly doubt that it was there by design if we continue with the theory that warriors visited Gaius most frequently. Trying to make that jump with any kind of weapon larger than a short-sword (like the Ancient Sword) or armour would be disastrous. And it would hardly be becoming of Gaius, as god of honourable duels and battle, to have its worshippers and adherents drown in a lake. It was probably a bridge at some point, I imagine. And ALSO, Gaius’ arena is tilted ever-so-slightly. Dormin oh-so-helpfully lets you know that, “The anger of [Gaius] shatters the earth…” and while that probably is a hint for Wander to look groundward for the way to defeat Gaius, I would like to bring back the old theory about Quadratus’ door. Let’s face it, Gaius is huge and has a habit for smashing the ground with its huge sword. Also, Gaius’ arena shows a large amount of fracturing, tilting, bridge dilapidation, etc. So, what if Gaius was like Quadratus in that, upon its first walk in the waking world, the god of battle, now animated, went a little bit lopsided and started to wildly attack everything around it. That would certainly cause a lot of seismic activity on a plateau, perhaps enough to tilt it and break apart some of the structures around it. It also appears that underneath Gaius’ arena, there are spots of reinforcements and a general shape of the rock that gives hints of decay or damage. Gaius didn’t take its new life particularly well, it seems.

Gaius hitting the ground with it attack. It certainly seems like a giant that could, "shatter the earth."

Gaius hitting the ground with it attack. It certainly seems like a giant that could, “shatter the earth.” Also, what is happening to Wander’s arm in this shot? 1.

That metal plate (finally!) seems to be a kind of miniature arena. When Wander stands on the plate, another duelist could easily fit on the plate and the combatants would have plenty of room to move and fight. I think the way the plate is shaped and decorated, it being a slightly-raised metal disc with a smaller, more off-colour disc inside of it, and then an even smaller off-colour disc inside of that, shows that circular motion was emphasized in its creation and was intended to play a role in how people (read as: warriors wanting to worship Gaius) interact with it. Duels in such a confined but well-defined space would almost certainly revolve around circular motion as the duelists try to gain what advantage they can through movement and footwork. So imagine, if you will, two swordsmen dueling atop the disc while the gargantuan statue of Gaius, the god of battle, standing vigil over them.

Wander atop the big metal plate in Gaiu's arena. Note the two smaller circles inside of it. Also, notice its size- large enough for two people to duel each other rather freely.

Wander atop the big metal plate in Gaiu’s arena. Note the two smaller circles inside of it. Also, notice its size- large enough for two people to duel each other rather freely. 2.

Inspiring? Certainly. Telling? Very.

By “telling,” I mean that the people of the Forbidden Lands, at least in this earlier age of their civilization’s timeline, were very interested in holding duels of honour between individuals rather than waging wars or larger-scale battles. Note that this seems to change a little bit by the time Argus arrives much later in the Land’s timeline but for the time being (relatively speaking), Gaius’ method of fighting, that is to say, the duel of honour, seems to be highly respected and important to the people of the Lands. Otherwise they wouldn’t have turned an entire plateau into a huge arena to hold a massive warrior god’s statue. Or perhaps the people in the Lands were just really bad at conserving and meaningfully directing their resource. That might by why there’s no freaking roads in that place.

Or not and my incoherent rambling actually might hold water. Little miracles happen day, questers!

 

 


 

 

So here is where we part, I swear I’ll get Phaedra (the next Colossus’)’s entry up sooner than I got this ones! Phaedra’s one of my favourite Colossi so I can’t wait to start talking about it and dissecting its absolutely sublime design.

I’ve been using the word “sublime” more and more often now. But what does it really mean? To be sub-lime? Are limes really that great that they are determining what is good or great based on their merits alone?

People of Paper would have me believe so.

 

I’ll stop talking now.

 

 

Keep questing, you seekers of lore!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

 


 

 

1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus

 

 

 

 

 

Lorequest: Shadow of the Colossus Part 3- “Valus”

 

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

 

Oh, what’s that, I actually added another entry into this Hindenburg-sized endeavor? Yes yes, it’s true. I feel like I need to make a joke at my expense like that with every entry or I’m insulting some kind of of god that determines whether I succeed or fail. Regardless, did you notice I also finally added some continuity to my usual “END TRANSMISSION” outro? Yes, we’re growing all the time here at Michael Wettengel’s Workplace (I don’t know why I linked that. There is no need to click on it. You are already on that very blog).

Well, today we begin our slow, slogging dive into the lore of the individual Colossi. Each one is unique and fantastical in its own way. Now sit back and let me convince you of that point! And also convince you that you can have almost no solid basis for stating something factually and it can still sound rather convincing.

Persuasion!

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

 

Valus, Colossus #1 and the Spirit of the Mountains- The god of the mountainous regions in the Forbidden Lands, including its rough terrain and robust life. In this shot, we see it about to pound Wander's tiny brains out.

Valus, Colossus #1 and the Spirit of the Mountains- The god of the mountainous regions in the Forbidden Lands, including its rough terrain and robust life.
In this shot, we see it about to pound Wander’s tiny brains out. 1.

 

 

Valus, or Minotaurus Colossus, by SotC community, is the first of sixteen Colossi encountered by Wander in the Forbidden Lands. Its lair is very close to the Shrine of Worship, being an almost straight shot south into a valley that must be scaled by jumping over holes and climbing up hanging vines.

The path up to Valus is not easily traversed.

The path up to Valus is not easily traversed. 2.

As we will see as we examine these Colossi, most Colossi have some kind of ruined temple located in or very near its arena. Alternatively, those that do not have dedicated temple structures always have some kind of evidence of civilization regulated to their purpose. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that each of the sixteen Colossi is also very clearly an idol in the Shrine of Worship. Thus, their religious/spiritual importance should already be rather clear. And yet, people/things are not worshiped just to be worshiped (minus reality-TV personalities), so it is important to examine just why a particular Colossi would be revered and what it would be revered for. Also, I will attempt to make the point, after my oh-so-poignant observations on the matter, to support my before-mentioned theory that the Colossi, once animated by Dormin and a Shaman’s soul, acts in ways in accordance with its spiritually-endowed nature.

Valus' Temple appears to have been built directly into the mountainside. Rather fitting for a Colossi built to represent the mountains.

Valus’ Temple appears to have been built directly into the mountainside. Rather fitting for a Colossi built to represent the mountains. 1.

Looking at architecture first, the area immediately preceding Valus’ arena has several old-looking pillars and a squat staircase in it. A path rises up out from the area that runs up the cliff-face. The path seems largely decayed, even not having a way up to the path proper (Wander must use vines to begin climbing the cliff) and having many chunks of the floor missing. Also, a pillar has fallen over that Wander must roll through and there appears to be wooden boarding set up to bridge a gap in the path that looks very incongruous with the rest of the mossy stonework. In fact, wood in general seems to be a very rare material in the Forbidden Lands. This is likely because most wood used in human structures would have decayed, especially in the northern, western, and southern sections of the Lands where either damp salty sea either or dry and harsh desert sands would have quickly decayed. And then, once up in Valus’ area, an old, decayed temple can clearly be seen as part of the valley wall. Indeed, it has become part of the rock face, becoming wholesomely integrated by what looks like a mixture of design choice and time. Indeed, the Temple seems to cleanly “inserted” into the rock for it to just be there by simple decay.

You know what, I’m really into the idea of this whole “wood bridge” thing, so I’m going to make a whole new branch of my theory about Valus and about the Forbidden Lands as a whole: Wander is not the first person to reach the Forbidden Lands and attempt to challenge the Colossi. However, I will not speak too much on this matter now and will only mention it as it appears in relation to the Colossi. However, I’ll give you all a bit of a spoiler: whoever they were didn’t make it very far (see, Quadratus). Still, the little wooden bridge being erected so some poor bastard could challenge Valus (and lose) is something I just thought I’d point out.

This is a bizarre little bridge. Marvel at its strangeness. MARVEL DARNIT,

This is a bizarre little bridge. Marvel at its strangeness. MARVEL DARNIT, 3.

I think I’ll just wrap this idea up right now, actually since it doesn’t seem too terribly relevant to any other Colossus… I mentioned before that the person, whoever he/she was didn’t get very far in his/her endeavors. Given that all of the Colossi are still alive, only activate once the previous ones had been destroyed, and can only be destroyed by the Ancient Sword, it seems unlikely that anything of significance happened before Wander came and f—ed up stuff. After all, without the Ancient Sword, not only would it be impossible to slay a Colossus, but even finding one would be a huge challenge. Dormin only speaks to Wander once It realizes he has the Ancient Sword. So, without Dormin’s guiding advice, how would anybody know where these ancient beasts in ancient lands be resting? They wouldn’t, that’s how! Or, if they did, it would take them a very long while indeed.

The hawks are a unique feature to Valus- no other Colossus has wildlife hanging around it.

The hawks are a unique feature to Valus- no other Colossus has wildlife hanging around it. 3.

It is important to note that Sign of the Colossus, a relatively common pre-fight song will play when Wander enters the cliff area. Meaning, the climb up the cliffs is part of the Colossus’ domain and should be thought of as being closely interrelated. Thus, if Valus’ path up to its temple was intentionally made difficult so that only rugged life/people (and things with wings [read as: hawks]) could make their way up, it would only logically follow that part of the Colossus’ “trial” for its devotees would have its music playing during. This idea of devotees and the Colossus’ “trial” will be coming back quite a bit. Few Colossi have easily-accessible lairs and each lair is a reference to the Colossus that presides over it, such as Valus’ mountains and Phaedra’s graves. It’s a cyclical relationship; the Colossi preside in realms crafted for them because they were crafted to preside over said realm. So, the worshippers of Valus, the Spirit of the Mountains, would need to prove themselves and become like unto the hawks that encircle the Colossus, before they could be worthy of its presence. Well, the presence of its inanimate statue (meaning, when it was just an object of worship and not a giant rocky death machine). When I get around to talking about Dormin, I’ll be sure to outline how I thought events went down in the Forbidden Lands.

The only thing I find worth noting about Valus is how architectural it is. There is an entire balcony jutting out of its back and its weapon appears to be nothing more than an enormous moss-covered pillar (unlike Gaius’ andArgus’ more distinctly weapon-like tools). I take this as a sign that Valus was one of the first Colossi to be constructed by the people of the Forbidden Lands (with Pelagia being the last, for those who are curious. But I’ll get more into that later). Given how mountainous and how velley-ous the Lands are, plus the persistent presence and strength (you can catch a ride on them for goodness sake!) of the hawks, I see it as reasonably possible that the first idol constructed would be tribute to those natural elements. Its close proximity (along with the 2nd Colossus, Quadratus) to the Shrine also may speak of its early creation.

Valus' back has a very conspicuous platform built into it. It is one of the most complete structures to appear on a Colossus' body.

Valus’ back has a very conspicuous platform built into it. It is one of the most complete structures to appear on a Colossus’ body. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A limited-edition figurine of Valus released in Japan shows its weapon in a better light. It's practically a giant pillar.

A limited-edition figurine of Valus released in Japan shows its weapon in a better light. It’s practically a giant pillar. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore (and finally, I swear!), Valus’s status as being the first Colossus and thus, the one that is always awake and active, speaks further to the people of the Forbidden Land’s love and respect for the mountains and their rugged wildlife. Valus never sleeps and never wavers. It has one of the most open arenas, similar to Gaius and Phaedra, so it has virtually nowhere to hide or conceal itself. Valus, like the mountains it was built to embody, personifies the strength of nature is dauntless in that.

 

Next Entry: Colossus #2, Quadratus

 


 

 

I have no idea what entry will be coming up next! As per usual, really. These Colossus entries are much more bite-sized and easy to manage, whereas the next likely candidate for an entry is Dormin… who will have a gargantuan entry all to Itself. Besides, this game is Shadow of the Colossus, not Shadow of Dormin! Even though that name also makes quite a bit of sense… But I shall say no more until It’s own entry. Because then I can layer on the Spoiler Alerts until I am virtually guiltless.

It’s all part of my MASTER PLAN.

Which is still a work-in-progress.

 

 

Good luck you brave writer (and gamer) folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

 


 

 

 

 

1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.

2. Screenshots from in-game cutscenes

3. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus