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(Spoilers) Bird watching

A topic by RockJock created 12 days ago Views: 178 Replies: 4
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No dual tagging system, so I just want to be very clear this thread will be discussing spoilers as we investigate the mysterious bird(s) of Minotaur Hotel. (Not you Luke, you're not that mysterious)

While they have never drawn much attention, there have been multiple sightings of birds in the realm that raise a few questions once you consider the rules for spawned animals (and plants). On our third meeting with Argos, he teaches us how hostile spawned life is to Asterion; the instant they notice Asterion('s pelt), they immediately launch to assault it. He claims, "This, too, is the Labyrinth's nature. [...] a master, long ago, put in place a contract to forbid animal and plant life from being summoned above the valley." In turn, there is basically nothing left alive in the valley beyond monsters and the occasional plant, if I'm recalling correctly. We never otherwise really hear about wildlife (call me out if you remember otherwise!)...

Until this interaction in Chapter 17, if the Master uncovers the truth about the Argoi, confronts Nikos, but then forgives him. After Nikos makes his big gesture to kill the role of Argos and the Narrator praises our brand of justice, we get these lines:

Your eyes are pulled upwards, to the shadow of a vulture flying high in the otherwise-empty sky. It cries out once, twice, until from beyond the cliff comes a second shadow. The pair comes together to circle over you. Together they let out one final wail, and then fly towards the hotel and beyond sight. Just like you, Nikos gazes at the two birds; but his eyes are filled with both puzzlement and a distant familiarity. His hand almost rises upward, as though trying to reach out, but gives up as the both of you realize how late it's getting.

Now, Nikos is not wearing the Asterion pelt at this point in time, so the vultures would not be compelled to divebomb him if they were spawned by the Labyrinth/Realm, but we also have another scene with a white vulture that does see Asterion and does not attack. In the Chapter 18 climax, just before the camera shifts to follow the events inside the hotel, Asterion is outside and musing over his thoughts when he spots one flying in the sky:

He breathes in, and looks up to stars. And there, up above, do his eyes deceive him? A white vulture? Just like when he was young, during that night with Phroneos when they --

He's interrupted by Oscar's approach, so we don't learn much more about Asterion's thoughts on the vulture, but what we do hear (and even just its presence at all) says a lot - he was not attacked by said white vulture despite being very visible. Whatever this vulture is, it is not something spawned by the Labyrinth. I think it's safe to say the same for the two vultures that the Master and Nikos see down in the valley.

So then, who's vultures are these? I think it's not hard to say they're related to one of the gods, Asterion definitely sees it as some sort of divine sign in his youth, but we still don't know the full story of what happened with Phroneos. Was death close after, and these birds are related to Hades? Vultures are scavenger birds that eat carrion rather than make their own kill. Or there's always ties with Artemis and birds and hunting, or Athena tied to owls but might be too unsubtle so she's been snooping with a less conspicuous bird - after all, only Hermes is allowed in the realm as the Overseer. What do y'all think, bird friend or bird foe?


I haven't the slightest idea. They don't seem outright malicious in the instances mentioned at least. With what little to sink into, I think I found more references:

Partner. Phroneos used to call him that back in Crete, all the way until that night. A [white bird] flying off under the moonlight. The minotaur aimed his bow and drew the string. It was not too different from plucking his lyre. That last tension before letting go. For Phroneos, for that everlasting friend, but first of all for his brother, intrepid Androgeus, he set the arrow loose. Partner. They were hunting together that night. But by the end of it Phroneos called him something else. And that was the last they saw of each other.
Androgeos. I never asked if you liked the feathers. That night was much like this. I aimed my bow to a [star], as if somehow my arrow could reach it, and set it loose. Three times I fired an arrow, and then [it] fell. Phroneos and I prepared the fire. Our sacrifice to you, feathers of a [holy bird]. As for Phroneos... We had no common blood but we were brothers just the same.

This is probably the night Asterion was talking about. Now, bear with me here, as I try to interpret the second quote. I believe Asterion shot down the bird in three attempts. Star may be referring to a distinct patch of wing feathers, or just a way of saying 'aiming skyward'. The antecedent of 'it' is probably the bird, seeing that it should be plural if referring to the arrows. If that's to be believed, then the holy bird they saw (and shot!?) is a vulture. He did so for Androgeus, who is presumably dead-- sacrifice offered through burning and all. Anyways, that vulture is probably present in/native to Crete, seeing as this is where it happened. Look up 'Crete vulture' and it returns griffon vulture. Now, in a funny way, this legitimately relates back to Luke and his griffon self. Good luck asking him questions though; he's barely helpful given that he's culturally divorced with his Mediterranean roots. Given that Asterion himself refers to it as a holy bird, dared to hunt it, and reacted in wonder upon seeing it, this here is a vote for 'good birdie'. Just to throw it out there, there's some commonality in its appearances. In all the instances, it accompanied some kind of confession, or divulging of relationships. 

With the bird business out of the way, I wonder more about this scene.  When did this happen? I assume sometime after Asterion was sent to the labyrinth and Androgeus's death, but before Laomedon's arrival. Phroneos was the one who smuggled in Asterion's lyre, and Asterion was frightfully afraid of being lonely come Laomedon's time. He was probably alone by then. What happened here? The "that was the last they saw of each other" is proper ominous. Where was Phroneos when Laomedon and Theseus came? What did Phroneos call Asterion? My inkling is that he said 'brother' to appease Androgeus's death. Thoughts? (Sorry if this is too far removed for the topic at hand)


Ah, I vaguely remembered we had more info on the night with Phroneos somewhere, thanks for bringing it up and quoting it here for us, ChronicQuery!

Super interesting find on the link there, I honestly wouldn't put it past the dev team to go that far with something being called a star and meaning a pattern that tends to appear on vultures, lol. It's also very poetic, Asterion is just a poetic person and would think that way, and stars are already a theme between Luke's interests and Asterion's name. And THEN there's the fact that, when Nikos sees them, "his eyes are filled with both puzzlement and a distant familiarity", so if they really are griffon vultures and are seen in Crete, it makes sense why Nikos would  recognize them since he's from there, too.

Yo that point on these bird sightings being around the confession or divulging of relationships would be fire if you guessed right on that! If the Master does not call out Nikos right away when presented the option (they can pretend that Argos is from the depths of the Labyrinth until he starts slithering away, then call him by name of Dominikos and lead to a more "Oh so you understand the role is fake but we're still playing it, then I'll keep my secrets to play the role out" encounter/aftermath in the Hotel in Chapter 18), there are no signs of the vultures, so I think you're on to something.

On the sacrifice, one has to wonder if its status as a sacred bird being sacrificed for a hero who went to Elysium meant it was not a taboo, or if it did indeed negatively affect (some of) the gods' opinion of Asterion. Was the fact they never saw each other again a punishment to Asterion, potentially from the gods? I don't think Pheroneos said anything bad about Asterion for hunting the bird (there's space to read the quote as Pheroneos turning heel and calling him 'Monster' instead of something nice, but why would he help with the fire for the sacrifice, then?), else I don't think Asterion would think of him so fondly... so I think calling him 'Brother' could be it, and could be a big enough breach to his job to get him pulled from the Labyrinth guard duty even if the gods weren't mad at Asterion... 
Well unless it was supposed to be a confession of love, which would have the same problem of potentially getting him pulled from guard duty for. Asterion drinks to Khenbish's question in the drinking game about kissing after a physical activity and claims it's just kissing siblings on the cheek after play fighting... but kissing Pheroneos after hunting together with him is still on the table òwó (for the record, I think it's unlikely, but had to throw it out there, haha).


i don't remember where, but i recall something of a raven or crow working for athena and it's implied they manipulated past masters behaviors somehow. the trio of vultures you described seems to relate to the trio of observers revealed on rutheless route, unless it's just a coincidence. considering that we learned on how some of the gods left something of their influence over the labyrinth, there's a good chance they are some form of divine intervention. i'll admit for the sake of puns that the presence of these vultures "flew over my head" as i do not recall reading those lines.

Oh yeah, if you or anyone else finds quotes in the game about ravens/crows/any birds working for Athena to influence the past Masters, drop 'em here for sure!

You posit an interesting link with the vultures we see with Nikos and the 'trio of observers', especially since I did mention that the Narrator did just directly talk to the player before the vultures are seen... I feel like we would be seeing more of said vultures in the Ruthless route, though, and the only time I can think of might be when something lands on the roof of the Hotel right in the beginning of chapter 1 when Luke and Kota are plotting to ditch the Hotel? I suppose there is also space for the observer that appears to Nikos in Ruthless chapter 2 being in the form of one of these vultures, and Nikos would not describe them as such, knowing they are instead a god come to answer his pleas... so maybe this holds more water than meets the eye.

And no worries, it didn't take until my second playthrough that I stopped and said "Wait, vultures? How is there wildlife?", haha.