The Mother of All Last Guardian Theories
As many fans of Team Ico’s work begin to complete the long awaited Last Guardian, there is one common point of contention. Who is “the last guardian?” Theories usually involve either the boy (no given name) or the beast, Trico, as the titular guardian. This theory seeks to offer an alternative, and to do it, we must venture back to the very beginning, “The Shadow of the Colossus.”
Now you may be thinking and may be getting ready to burn houses down for this claim. Ico came first in terms of game release, but this theory will present a timeline that argues the true timeline begins with Shadow of the Colossus, then Ico, and ends with the Last Guardian. At the beginning of Shadow of the Colossus, the character Mono is condemned to a “cursed fate,” but this fate is not directly spelled out. For this cursed fate, she is sacrificed, much to her love Wander’s chagrin. Thus the events of the game ensue and culminate in Mono’s resurrection utilizing the power of Dormin, the resident demon dealmaker. The sages who condemned Mono to sacrifice arrive just in time to witness the deal take place. Wander is possessed by Dormin and transformed into a horned beast and attacks, sending them fleeing and destroying the bridge connecting the forbidden land and the rest of the lands that hold countless villages.
But as we know, this is not the end for Wander, Mono,…and Dormin (also Agro). Wander is transformed into a horned child and left in the care of the now resurrected Mono. Both have been touched by Dormin’s power, and when Wander comes of age, the two lovers can finally bear children. Mono, having been given new life in an almost complete sense, has not aged drastically and mothers many children. They are blessed a large family of sons, no daughters…yet. Many of these children are adorned with the horns of their father, though some appear as normal humans. Eventually, their children are numerous enough to free the entire family from the forbidden land and venture back to the home of their father and mother.
But they are not welcomed with open arms. The sages, now in their twilight years, see the almost eternally young Mono and her horn-bearing family and decry her as a servant of the demon Dormin. They declare that the horns mark the evil ones and cast her and all her progeny from the land. With still a large number of hands to work, the family finds a new home near the sea and construct an ornate castle that can house them all. Years pass, and Wander continues to age until he is no more, yet he leaves her with one final gift, their first daughter named Yorda. Yet Mono discovers that she has barely aged at all. The life given to her by Dormin seems to be near immortality. And as her children begin to age and die around her, she can feel herself only living longer. It’s as if their deaths force her to live longer and longer with less family to share it with. She decides that the children she has born without horns should leave her. She will undoubtedly outlive them. Perhaps they can have families of their own without ever being found out to be of a womb touched by a demon.
All things wither with age, and in this case, it is Mono’s compassion. She becomes jaded, beginning to abandon the love of her family to seek only the power to live longer and longer. She begins to sacrifice her remaining horned children, draining them of the life they have left to extend hers. Meanwhile, those sons who returned to villages began to sire heirs of their own, but some of these children now express the trait lying dormant within them. The influence of Dormin is shown in the horns that sprout from the young ones’ heads. The new sages, having been warned by those of the past, recognize Dormin’s touch instantly and condemn these children to a new “cursed fate”. They are brought to their familial castle and are left in the clutches of the castle’s queen, Queen Mono the Undying.
As Yorda ages within the confines of the castle, she is shown to have received a different mark of Dormin, her magic. Through her touch, she can bend the castle to her needs just as her mother could. Queen Mono realizes that if the sacrifice of her horned sons could prolong her life, the sacrifice of her daughter could bring about something greater, the end of her life as it was, the end of her cursed fate. If she could become Yorda, perhaps she might no longer feel the sting of her own existence. She may not die and may in fact truly live forever, but she could now live as Yorda, a new being filled with the same power she had but not the stigma of her name. This incites the events of Ico. Queen Mono is slain, and though her plan fails, she is finally free.
Yorda returns with the now hornless Ico to his village and is immediately met with fear and shock from the sages. A horned child has not only returned but has brought along a girl with clear magical potential. Could she be an emissary of the queen, coming to declare war in the name of the demon Dormin? No. She immediately explains in the archaic tongue, a language they alone understand through studies of the ancient texts, that she has seen the wicked influence of Dormin’s hand in her family. She wishes it eradicated and vows to aid them in exchange for Ico’s life. She intends to destroy every other branch of her family tree, but she cannot part with the one member that has shown her kindness. A deal is struck, and Yorda uses her magical power to construct a being of her own energy, an immaculate machine whose sole function is to seek out the remaining children who hold Dormin’s influence within them and exterminate them.
It has been generations since those without horns had dispersed to other villages, and none of their descendants show the horns that clearly indicated Dormin, and those who had had already been sacrificed to the queen. But a piece of him remains within them, and Yorda’s creation can see it. She places the magical device within a dormant volcano, its natural walls protecting the device and stopping any chance of escape for those sent there to die. The machine is given soldiers to protect it and staff its vast workings, and Yorda herself takes up residence within to power the device throughout her life and eternally through her remains. The machine co-opts the winged creatures known as Trico, their avian qualities reminding Yorda of the only creatures she has ever come into contact with other than humans, doves. They are sent out, driven by the magic of the machine to collect the children who unwittingly harbor the demon Dormin, blessed with eyes that can see even the tiniest shred of the demon’s soul. The land surrounding the machine is given the name The Nest, the resting place for the Trico and what will be the final resting place of Dormin once all of the children are collected. The machine then is given the name The Master of the Valley, as its power commands all that lives within the earth walls. Yorda spends her days with a mirror in her hand, gazing at herself and constantly dealing with the decision she has made. She will end her familial line to save the world from a demon. She is seen so frequently with the mirror that it is placed on her sarcophagus following her death.
And here we have the story of The Last Guardian. A
nameless boy, a child of Dormin, uses one of the machine’s own servants to
destroy it. Without the machine, there is no one left to continue Yorda’s work.
Any remnants of Dormin that are left in the world may continue to blossom and
grow. Even the boy protagonist himself has the potential to facilitate Dormin’s
return. So we now bring you to the answer to the question “Who is the Last
Guardian?”. It is the Master of the Valley,
the magical machine designed to guard against Dormin’s return. Congratulations, you’re the bad guy.
((All images are credited to their original owners and were used expressly for visual aid. We did not create any of the images, only the theory for which we utilized them. Thank you))