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Fanfic / Enlightenments

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He laughed, mocking the stern note in Their voices as he staggered along the cliff face, walking the dizzy spell off. "And just what are you going to do about it, you rancid, toothless old thing?" He dropped down in the shade of a cliff and yelled at the sky, "Kill me?!"
His voice echoed up and down the canyon: kill me?! kill me! kill me. kill me...
With each echo, his snarl fell further and further. As his voice faded, he curled his knees to his chest and shut his eyes.
Dormin said nothing more, moving Their attention away from him and back to the seal. He was trapped, They were trapped, and now they shared the same prison.

Enlightenments is a Team ICO Series fanfic by Sparky Lurkdragon, set in their Immortal Wander continuity.

The fic begins about three hundred years after Shadow of the Colossus and spans approximately two hundred years until the time ICO happens. The way Dormin slipped Wander out of the Ancient Sword's seal at the end of Colossus means that he still has a relatively large amount of Dormin's soul in him which they can't reclaim because of the seal. The connection makes him immortal, gives Dormin easy insight into his thoughts unless he actively shuts the connection down, and made him grow horns.

At some unspecified time in the past, a botched exorcism ceremony both transformed Mono into the Queen of the Castle in the Mist and bound Wander to her under a Compelling Voice effect. Meanwhile, the seal on Dormin is imperfect, and small pieces of their power periodically leak out and create the horned boys. Wander has been spending the last three hundred years trying to find a way to stop the Queen from killing their daughters and the horned boys, and his latest attempt makes her command him to stay in Dormin's land.

So begins about two hundred years of Dormin and Wander having to get used to one another, slowly overcoming Dormin's aloofness towards mortals and Wander's extreme bitterness towards the situation he's been trapped in because of his connection to Dormin.

The author notes that reader discretion is advised and has a long list of content warnings in the tags. Let the reader beware of the following tropes for the same reasons.

This fanfic has examples of:

  • The Ageless: After Colossus, Wander aged up from the baby Dormin slipped him out of the seal as to about how old he was during most of the game, and got stuck there.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Dormin does not have the same senses as a mortal, and it doesn't help that they're incorporeal. The fic is fully from their perspective, so we're treated to various aspects of this, such as the way they sense pieces of their soul as light (Wander's horns shine to their vision because of this) and the Queen's shadows as a garbled mess of colours that hurts to look at for too long. They also don't have the same sense of time as Wander does: he thinks in approximately 24 hour days, but Dormin has no real concept of day vs. night and instead thinks in 20-hour periods.
  • Child by Rape: All of Wander and the Queen's children after their first son, who was conceived before she got corrupted, are the result of her compelling him to have sex with her to make new host bodies. Wander doesn't hold the circumstances of their conception against them.
  • Compelling Voice: The Queen has this effect on Wander. He can resist to a certain extent if she's far away, suffering from debilitating headaches and nausea for his efforts, but the closer she is to him the less he's able to, to the point that if she's a few feet away he can't even change his expression in reaction to things he does not want to do.
  • Contemplating Your Hands: Wander, briefly, towards the start of his mushroom trip.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Colossi. Wander does have mixed feelings about having killed them, but he's a lot more concerned with the present problem of the horned children and his daughters dying horribly. He does visit the tenth Colossus briefly, and the seventh Colossus shows up in one of his nightmares.
  • Divine Assistance: The second half of the story is mostly Dormin tying to help Wander with his trauma. In more than one way.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: One of Dormin's main domains is death, and while they are initially aloof to the concerns of mortals, they're mellow, and as time goes on they grow more and more compassionate.
  • Domestic Abuse: The Queen has been using Wander as a breeding stud for soul vessels for centuries, using her voice to compel him to sleep with her.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Averted. None of the rape scenes are played for laughs or titillation: Wander is clearly the victim here and is deeply traumatised by the whole thing. It doesn't help that the Queen intends to use the results of these meetings to body hop.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Inverted, the story takes place over 200 years, starting about 300 years after the events of Shadow of the Colossus and ending during ICO's aftermath.
  • Familial Body Snatcher: The Queen has survived over the centuries by taking over the bodies of her daughters once she she feels she's approaching the end of her current host body's life.
  • Fantasy Contraception: The crux of Dormin's plan to stop the Queen is having Wander take contraceptive drugs without his knowledge in order to make the Queen think her host body is barren, and make it so that her current host body is her last one, dooming her to a final death by old age. Unfortunately, she figures out what's going on and Wander is forced back into being her breeding stud.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Dormin's dialect. It's well-researched to the point of Dormin using "you" for the Queen to put an extra layer of formality between them, contrasting the familiar "thou" they use for Wander.
  • Friendship Moment: The last line of the fic, where Dormin directly thinks of Wander as their friend for the first time.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Seems to have been the case for Wander adopting the horned boy Rilu, right up until Wander kills him to prevent the Queen from taking him.
    • Less tragically, he takes Ico in after the events of ICO, though it's ultimately up to Yorda and Ico if it's going to be as a son or as a future son-in-law, which isn't resolved by the end of the fic.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Wander enters a deep depression after catching the graveyard up to the present and losing what little sense of purpose it was giving him. He had already lost all hope that anything about his current situation was going to change. Dormin slowly dragging him out of the BSOD drives most of the second half of the story.
    • Wander has a less severe one after the Queen figures out Dormin's plan. It's mostly only less severe because ICO happens twelve years later.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Twisted a bit. Wander asks Dormin if they had him try mushrooms for this reason, since he did recognize them as something that holy men used back in his original home. Dormin's answer is no, they just wanted him to have some new sensations to mull over. On the other hand, it does reduce his inhibitions enough that he tells Dormin why the Queen banished him to their land, which draws the two of them a little closer together.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: When Wander asks what year it is at one point, the extremely ancient Dormin asks him "by whose count?" in all seriousness. Wander settles on essentially asking for the regnal year of the Queen (Year 365 at that point, for the curious).
  • Home of the Gods: Home of a god, anyway. The story takes place in Dormin's land.
  • Hope Spot: When it looks like the Queen is barren, preventing her from being able to rape Wander and create new host bodies from their union. However... she isn't, and she figures out why Wander is sterile, the reason being that he's been taking drugs that serve as a natural contraceptive.
  • Horned Humanoid: Naturally, given it's Shadow of the Colossus and ICO. Wander has horns and Dormin's power causes Ico and his fellow horned boys to be born. Dormin also has horns when in physical form, but given they never get to manifest fully, it never comes up. Some fanon additions to how the horns work include Dormin seeing them as light: most glow faintly to divine senses, but Wander's shine because of his relatively high concentration of Dormin's soul. Dormin can also use the horns to see through any horned person's eyes or read their minds more easily than they can unaffiliated mortals, though it's easier for them the "brighter" the horns' light is.
  • Insult of Endearment: Wander's language seems to have a feature that doesn't translate directly to English: specific sets of pronouns that are used to refer to divine entities. Wander rarely uses them to refer to Dormin, instead using the pronouns one would use for a mortal of the same gender. Over time it shifts from him being mildly insulting to a sign of how close he and Dormin are.
  • Long Game: Dormin's eventual plan to help Wander stop the Queen is to have him take a medicine that has a sterilizing side effect and wait until her current body dies of old age. Because of Wander being compelled to tell the truth to the Queen by some previous command of hers, they don't tell him this.
  • Mercy Kill: Wander's motivation for killing various incarnations of the horned boys and at least one of his daughters. From his perspective, better to die quickly from a cut throat than to take three or more days of agony to die of dehydration and have your spirit enslaved, and better to drown than to have your mother steal your body.
  • Mushroom Samba: Dormin gently convinces Wander to eat some psychotropic mushrooms to try and shake him out of his depression by giving him some new sensations to mull over. It incidentally lowers his guard enough that he talks about what happened to lead the Queen to banish him to Dormin's land, and by the time the trip's over he's a little more inclined to be friendly towards Dormin.
  • Nay-Theist: Wander is obviously fully aware that Dormin and other gods exist, but he initially doesn't want anything to do with them.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Wander doesn't sleep well thanks to his frequent nightmares, which mostly centre around the horned children and his daughters dying or his abusive relationship with the Queen.
  • Obliviously Evil: The Queen. The fic never gets inside her head since Dormin can't read her mind, but her actions seem to indicate that after the corrupted exorcism spell, she thinks she's inducing the horned kids into her and "Sabae's" family and that it's only natural that he'd want her to steal her daughters' bodies to stay with him.
  • Offing the Offspring: In an attempt to save at least one of his daughters from becoming the Queen's newest host, Wander kills her first. Keeping the horned boy he adopted from being sacrificed to power the Queen's body hopping is also what motivates Wander to kill him.
  • Only Friend: Eventually, Wander and Dormin become each other's only friend as the Queen turns more corrupt.
  • Parental Incest: The fic doesn't dwell on it, but given that the Queen is stealing her daughters' bodies yet has the same husband through the ages, it technically counts as an example of the trope.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Wander has a lot, though they are very rarely literal memories. Instead, they tend to be amalgams of various experiences and frighteningly surreal imagery. The imagery is garbled enough that even though Dormin can read his mind while he's having them, they have no way of knowing what the real events were unless he tells them.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Wander breaks his neck falling off a cliff in the first chapter, and it just has the effect of knocking him out for an unspecified length of time before Dormin's soul heals him and he gets right back up again. He has attempted suicide before, and it never sticks; by the time of the story he's given up on that as an option, though at times he is still tempted to try it.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Dormin's primary domains are life, death, and how they intertwine, and they have a secondary domain of light that causes eternal day in their lands and the horns which mark their influence on mortals to glow to divine sight. It's implied that the Colossi were created by other gods in the area that have the developer nicknames for the Colossi: the tenth Colossus is referred to as "Dirge's Colossus", for example.
  • Plagued by Nightmares: Wander rarely sleeps until he's pushed himself to exhaustion in an effort to avoid his nightmares, which rarely works. Dormin does later come up with a medication that blocks his recall and helps him sleep better.
  • Semi-Divine: Wander, thanks to the whole "still has a large chunk of Dormin's soul in him" thing. His powers are mostly just enhanced strength, being categorically unable to die and stay dead, and having a constant telepathic connection to Dormin. The horned boys are much weaker semi-divine entities, with their horns caused by the equivalent of one of Dormin's breaths; they're still mostly human compared to Wander.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Wander has persistent, violent nightmares, and later experiences flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. When he takes Yorda and Ico in, he's initially blunt to the point of scaring Ico. He is improving by the end of the story, but he's still awkward with them in spite of his best efforts, and it's made fairly clear that he isn't anywhere close to fully recovered.
  • Somebody Named "Nobody": "Wander" isn't used in the story; a sequel short implies it's just a convenient way of referring to a nameless person. Wander doesn't consider himself to have a name, and Dormin doesn't, either, thinking of him as various epithets and using 'wanderer' when they want to get his attention.
  • Take Away Their Name: Wander's original name, Sabae, was killed by whatever god he lived under before Shadow of the Colossus. Because of the way Mono was corrupted into the Queen, he considers her name dead, too. It doesn't stop the Queen from using his old name, and he can freely think and say hers if he wants to.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Wander's immortality is from having some of Dormin's soul still inside him after Colossus.
  • Translation Convention:
    • Both of the fictional languages featured (Wander's/Yorda's and Ico's) are translated as English, and both seem to have a specific set of pronouns for addressing the divine that don't have a direct analogue in English. It's signified by capitalising pronouns related to Dormin. Dormin always thinks of Themself with these pronouns and most of the mortal characters use them consistently when referring to the deity. Wander doesn't. Initially it's from his Nay-Theist tendencies, but it later comes to be something of a sign of familiarity between them. He does use the divine pronouns when he's either concentrating on being respectful or just overawed.
    • Wander's writing system is implied to be syllabic.
  • Trickster God: Downplayed. It isn't one of their main domains, but Dormin does occasionally tease Wander as they get more used to each other. They come up with a pretty impressive bit of misdirection to try to solve the Queen problem, too.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Wander appears to have already tried all of the obvious solutions to stopping the Queen, including stabbing her, sterilizing himself, killing their daughters, and killing the horned boys before they could be taken to the Castle in the Mist, but always failed because of the compelling voice effect she has on him. It contributes to his first Heroic BSoD.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Queen and Wander, for different reasons. As depicted in ICO, the Queen uses the horned boys' souls and her daughters' bodies to power her immortality. Wander doesn't want to hurt children so much as he's either forced to or feels he's giving them a Mercy Kill. He also yells at some soldiers over this, saying that the horned boys are abused even before the Queen gets to them and blaming their communities for not doing anything to stop her.
  • Xenofiction: Has more focus on humans than is typical for the genre. However, the whole thing is from Dormin's perspective, and they're definitely not human; they have radically inhuman senses and have trouble explaining how they perceive things to humans as well as trouble understanding normal human experiences, such as why Wander gets angry when they first try directly intervening in his nightmares without asking permission. Their morality is also a little blue and orange, given they initially consider the very abnormal situation with the Queen to still be a mortal problem for the mortals to solve.