Categories > Games > Shadow of the Colossus

The Riddle of Steel

by Negative_Creep 2 reviews

Watch closely, everyone. I'm going to show you how to kill a god.

Category: Shadow of the Colossus - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2006-04-06 - Updated: 2006-04-06 - 1415 words - Complete

The Riddle of Steel

Once, there was a boy. There was a boy, and he loved a girl.

This is how all stories begin. Since the dawn of time this is how stories have begun, and it will continue to be until the day the last man and woman fade from the earth and return to the dirt from whence they came. There was a young man, and he loved a girl. He loved her like a drug; she was sun and moon and stars rippling on water to the boy and he would have done anything for her.

And then he lost the girl.

This too is an integral part of storytelling, as old as cave paintings on the wall. The boy loved the girl, and she loved him until she died. Forces beyond the power of either intervened into their puny mortal affairs, and the girl died because of them. The gods had spoken, and what must be came to pass. There was no arguing with the will of the gods.

There would be no story here if the Hero had just given up. Heroes are never that easily deterred, you see. They are sick men, warped and twisted in the head with obsessions uncounted. So it was with the young hero of our story.

The day she died, his sanity died with her.

The boy had been brought up since he was a small thing to honour the will of the gods, and to always bow to their superior knowledge and power. They were great and he was small and there was nothing to do but relent before Them. If he did so - or so the boy was told - he would always have good hunting and good luck in life and warfare. The boy wanted no part of the warfare but quite liked the idea of good hunting and a lucky life, so always he honoured the gods in every task performed and every thing he did. If a doe was slaughtered in the forest, he dedicated the blood spilt out of her split belly and the steaming entrails to the gods. If a particularly good crop of apples was harvested, he always made sure to pour some cider on the ground as a tithe to that unknowable and unseeable pantheon. Always he did this, and unsurprisingly he led a lucky and pleasant life, marred by no major misfortune or tragedy. Indeed, the hunter brought in so much more venison than the others some said he must be bewitched.

Others later said this had something to do with the fate of his beloved. The wise amongst them said nothing at all.


And so it was one day the Gods spoke through the priests of the high temple. They said a maiden must be sacrificed to Them, and no-one argued when she was picked - no, not even the boy.

He did not curse the gods then. It was said that they could not read the thoughts of men unless spoken aloud, and so the young man did not say a word, keeping tight-lipped and silent even when they took her away to the forbidden place to be locked into a stone cell, left alone to die with no-one but he to hold her hand through the narrow air-slat. He said nothing, not even when her life ebbed away and she slipped from his grasp to the floor of her prison, not even when the priests came to take her body away, roughly pushing him aside. He bided his time, and he made his plans, and he said not a word of it to anyone, not even to himself. His face was stoic, and those who saw him called him cold-hearted, not seeing what billowed just below the surface. Where were his tears, his grief? Why was his face made of stone when his beloved had just died??

If the Gods had seen that face, they might have rightfully worried.

He wasted no time in putting his brooding plan to motion. Late in the darkness of the night he came like a thief to the temple, and he took back what was rightfully his. He also took what was not his, and thought to himself that this was a suiting-enough dowry for the life of his love - when it came back, so too would their treasured sword. It was all very simple, and the boy thought nothing wrong with the trade. Of course, he had no real intention of ever coming back and if his plan came to fruition there would be nothing left of this village within two moons but a razed pile of stones, but equivalent trade sounded like a fine idea to invoke when setting out upon a journey.

The Hero was not a swordsman. He had never been a swordsman and shunned pounded metal for straight rods of birch tipped with fine feathers from his brother the hawk. But to regain what had been taken, he picked the relic up and he learned in a perfunctory manner how to use it over the long days of his journey. The gods were said to honour strength and give their blessing to all who wielded it, and so he hid not when practising this newfound art. Let them see him wielding his sword; perhaps they would bless him on the mission that lay before he and his steed.

If it had not been for an old fairy story, a folk-tale of the area, the hero would have never begun on his journey. It was a tale told to little children around campfires late at night, but the hero knew that ever story, no matter how far-fetched, has a seed of truth planted deep with in it. A thousand years later he was a legend - are you not listening to his story right now? - but that is neither here nor there and matters not.

He left civilization far behind, and it was all his excellent hunting skills and silent-footed tracking could do to keep game in his bag as beasts became scarcer and scarcer with each passing mile. Eventually they saw no wildlife at all, merely dark, shadowy forests haunted by nothing but the birds, and even they remained eerily silent when fluttering away from his spent arrows. And then one day they arrived at their final destination and the hero, staring up at the rent in the cliffs, knew it was no mere legend.

At the great gates the boy dismounted his proud steed, bought years hence with the skin of a white stag, rarest of all prey. He had traded with the men of the steppes for the foal and had never regretted the decision, for his stallion was the finest in all the land and tolerated only the hero on his back. Other men had tried to mount his horse long ago. They had paid with their lives, brains splattered on the rocky ground or skulls split open wide as melons by the beast's ravening hooves. Word went round after that, and no more attempts at horse-thieving were made on the stable of the hunter.

The only things the boy trusted in this treacherous world now were his arrows, his horse, and the steel he held firm in his hands.

The hero dropped to one knee in the long grass before the entrance, and he prayed in a tongue long-forgotten by the men of this world. He prayed to the gods of earth and sky, and to his mother's family totem, the proud hawk. He called to the lesser deities and those who were said to have made the world. He even prayed to the tricksters, for he would need all their cunning and craftiness on this endeavour. He raised the stolen sword to the sky, and he cried out to the spirits who had abandoned him in a voice filled with agony. Then he fell silent, face buried from the world between crossed arms in seeming despair.

After kneeling there in silence for some time the hero re-mounted his swift horse and rode forward into the Forbidden Lands, never looking back. If the Gods would help him, so be it; he would be glad of assistance on this journey to revive his love and unleash hell on those who had wronged him and his.

If they would not, he would hew them down where they stood. It made no difference, for that had been the plan from the beginning.
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