Author's note: I do not own rights to Shadow of the Colossus. This is simply my tribute to my favorite colossi, the Fifth; Avis Praeda. Please read, review, and enjoy.

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Avis Praeda

The Colossal stone eagle swooped low, its great wings shaking ripples into the water below with each wingbeat. Like lightning, it streaked across the sky, deep cries in its throat. The calls bounded off the rock below, echoing in the deep lake.

With a great flourish of its wings, it climbed once more, beak cutting the razor air as it flew ever skyward.

A lone figure clung to the back of the creature. Wind shrieked past his ears as he gasped for air, water droplets from clouds stinging his eyes. His hands dug deep into feathery fur, face pressed desperately against its body. He could feel the powerful muscles coil and stretch beneath the fur, moving with power strong as a monsoon wind.

He felt as though someone had squeezed the breath from his lungs. A heavy pulse pounded in his ears, and his fingers tore with pain each time the Colossus swayed, reared, and spun.

Just once more, he thought, reaching for his sword, please, just a few more seconds…

His support dropped from beneath him. With a final twist, the great bird of prey forced the Wanderer from its back, throwing him high into the sky. He turned midair, arms reaching for the Colossus as it flew away.

The horizon stretched before his eyes, and the world seemed to stop. For a moment, he hung there, breathless.

Then, gradually, gravity drew him down. He tumbled through the air, his freefall ending as he plunged into the lake below. There, he heard nothing but the rushing water and the sound of his own heartbeat.

With one last push, his tired arms thrust him to the surface. His body drifted in the water, face staring at the sky. The eagle's thunderous wingbeats grew fainter in the distance as it circled its lake. The whistling wind in his ears was replaced by the gentle ripple of water. Quietly, he waited there, treading the cool water that soothed the fire in his arms. His eyes never left the Colossus above.

It was beautiful, he realized. The powerful curve of its arching beak and wings—the stone like ancient runes long forgotten—the way it flew so gracefully, despite its size, as it spiraled through the air. He'd fought four other Colossi thus far, and there were many more to come, yet surely there existed no other creature so grand.

He breathed deep as his heart finally slowed its rhythm. There was a platform not far to his right. Urging his tired arms forward, he swam across the water's expanse to reach it.

His wet clothes were heavy and tried to drag him under as he reached the pedestal. The wanderer dug his aching, throbbing red hands into the coarse stone, pulling himself onto land. Water shed off his back as he stood, flowing back into the lake. The man pushed wet strands of hair from his eyes, searching the sky.

The majestic bird swooped overhead, voicing another cry that pierced his bones. Watching, he unhooked his bow from his back, selecting an arrow in his raw fingers. He set the notch to the string, then carefully drew it back to his ear and took aim.

He paused, then loosed. The arrow vanished into the distance.

The eagle banked left, spying him on the ground. The arrow was but a pinprick in its side.

He lowered his bow and set it away as the bird eased its way around. Each thrust of its wings threw the serene water beneath to spray up in white foam. Soon, the Eagle evened out, diving low; its piercing gaze leveled straight at him.

It was coming.

He unsheathed his sword. This time, he was ready.

The daunting beast bore down on him, rushing forth with unfathomable speed. The wanderer braced himself on his scrap of stone, meeting the creature's fearsome gaze with his own.

It swept across the lake, the water's surface hissing behind it. As it grew larger and larger in his vision, he heard the roaring wind that followed. Still, he watched, unwavering, as its bulk filled every corner of his vision.

The impact tore the breath from his lungs. He slammed against the crook of the wing, unable to see or hear or feel anything but the gales that pinned him there. Adrenaline rushed through his body, and desperately he burrowed his fingers into the thick grassy feathers he found beneath his palm.

The Colossus heaved upwards, wings thrusting hard away from the ground. He was thrown like a ragdoll, the world blurred in his vision. He glimpsed the water below as thousands upon thousands of ripples spread outwards from the thunderous wind the eagle created with each wingbeat.

They turned sharply upward. The sky bent to meet them. The bird's shriek cut through the air and deep into the wanderer's heart, who could feel the sound's very vibration as he hauled himself up the bird's shoulder, one fistful of feathers at a time.

At the peak, he crawled onto its back, shakily standing. His arms had pulled so hard, he worried they were dislocated. But he wavered there, crouched low, prepared to snatch the mossy feathers at a moment's notice if need be.

The great bird undulated through the air, in its element; The scene below was breathtaking.

The earth spread out before them like its kingdom. For a moment, he was one with the colossus; for a moment, he felt nothing but awe. Even all the roaring wind and stinging dew and aching arms could not subtract from the glory of this moment.

The Colossi's wings arched, preparing to thrust him off again.

He lunged for the tail. It whipped behind the Colossus, following its every movement. His fingers barely had time to grab the feathers at his feet when the bird's whole body lurched from under him. He wrapped his fingers around a clump of feathers, clinging for dear life as he once again swung at the creature's mercy.

They dove, drew up, and dove again. Perhaps the creature knew this would blow be the last.

Sword in hand, the wanderer grit his teeth and inched along the tail, half crawling, half slipping his way to the symbol that glowed brightly at the end.

The eagle eased up flat again, soaring like a phoenix of legend. The wanderer reached the symbol, blazing with silver blue light; he grabbed a fistful of feathers there to anchor himself, then drew up his sword, point down.

The Colossus gave its last cry, majestic and pure, sending shivers down his spine.

It truly was a magnificent creature, he thought, and he plunged his sword down.