I am sad to say that I do not own ICO. But if someone were to gift me with the rights to such an amazing video game, well, who am I to say no?

She reminds me of the doves at the temple.

Back at my village, snow white doves in gilded cages were placed all around the inner sanctum of the temple. I was never allowed inside the temple, but sometimes the attendants would forget to close the main doors, and I could see the doves sitting on their golden perches, shining white among the glistening gold. And even when the doors were closed, I could hear the doves softly cooing with the ritual chanting from the priests lips. Why the doves were in there, and why they had to be kept in cages, I was never told, but they always gave me a sense of peace whenever I was able to chance a glance at them.

I used to envy those doves, who were treated with reverence and respect. They were always fed every day. They were never beaten, or called names, or shunned for not being like everyone else. They were loved, and I wasn't. I used to wish that I could wake up one morning and find that I was transformed into one of those doves in their golden cages, and the attendants would come along and give me clean water and good food and kind words. But according to the priests, since I was one of the 'cursed' my wishes would never be answered. So I stopped wishing. And if wishing did work, I think I would have rather wished to not have these horns than be a bird in a cage. No offense to the bird.

It's probably in the way that there doesn't seem to be enough room in their cages. I only saw Yorda sitting with her knees bunched up, but it didn't appear to me that she had enough room to lay down. Sure, she could stand, but every now and again you just need to lay out spread eagle all over the place. See just how much room you can take up. The iron bars would stop her, like those golden bars stopped the doves from flying and stretching their wings. They couldn't be themselves.

After I witnessed a certain event in the village, I started to realize just how much those doves and I shared in common. For one, we were both trapped. Them in their cages and me by the village walls. No one might have wanted me around, but I was never allowed outside the gates. I once tried to sneak out after dark, but the beating I received when I was found discouraged me from ever attempting that maneuver again. And yet this beating wasn't nearly as bad as the whipping one of the attendants in training received when she tried to set a temple dove free. Her screams shattered the silence of the village long after the eighty lashes had been administered.

For another, we were both essential. As the cursed child, I had to bring bad luck to our village so that when I came of age and was sacrificed, the village would be blessed with peace and bountiful harvests for years to come. The priests would never explain to me what they meant by 'sacrificed,' but I figured it meant having to move away from the village, for they always mentioned something about sending me to a castle. I didn't understand until later.

The doves, on the other hand, were supposedly symbolic of the light of the world. What with their white feathers and ability to fly in the sky, the priests claimed they were emissaries of the Sun God who spread light and goodness throughout the land. By holding onto the doves, we could hold on to light and goodness in our own village. But if the doves went away, they took the light and goodness with them.

I always wondered why it was such a crime to set a dove free from its cage. Why should it matter if one dove escapes if there are nine more to take its place? Sure, there's only one of me, but couldn't the priests make do if they only had nine instead of ten doves? I don't know much about religion, but it seemed to me that there'd still be light and goodness in the village if we had one less dove than before. But then again, I'm cursed so what do I know? No one liked to answer my questions.

But there was only one of Yorda in that cage. If she were released, someone would surely notice. They'd probably demand retribution, if the layout of this castle is any indicator. And while I may not be a gambler, I'm willing to bet that their idea of punishment is far worse than eighty lashes.

So why did I release her?

Like I said before, she reminded me of the doves at the temple. Kind, gentle, pure, with a snowy radiance all her own. And I remembered that those doves and I had three things in common. We were both prisoners, we were both essential, and one other thing...

About two weeks after the attendant in training was whipped, a great darkness fell over our village. The very sun above us was slowly being encroached upon by a circular blackness. Many of the villagers looked up in fear and trembled and called out to the gods to save them. It seemed like the end of the world. But then the priests of the temple came out with all ten doves in their gilded cages. Ten priests removed the doves from their golden bars, and held the struggling birds in vice-like grips. The rest stood behind like sentinel guards. The head priest, an elderly old man with a voice like thunder and a disposition to match, stepped forward and spoke to the crowd.

"Children! The might of the great Sun God is fading! Darkness is falling upon our land! But fear not, for all is not lost. As the Sun God has given us these emissaries of light and goodness to strengthen our homes, so we must return these gifts that he may be restored. Hear us, oh mighty Sun! We offer you these doves, your own gifts to our lands, so that you may bless us with your heavenly rays. Accept this sacrifice, and shine once more!"

And with those words, the priests from the back came up with shining silver knives and stabbed the doves through their hearts.

That's when I realized what it was to be a sacrifice.