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I wondered if the Beast might be hungering for something...
 
TB-0

The Boy retrieves a barrel.

Appearance

Barrels are wooden containers resembling 'half-barrels' in dimensions (about 2.5 feet/0.76 meters tall, 1.5 feet/0.46 meters across, and a capacity of 15 gallons/56 liters). They are filled with a glowing, blue-green substance that attracts butterflies and can satiate Tricos Beasts in small quanitities, despite the animal's large size.

Usage

I was more than a little surprised. I had not imagined for a moment that the beast could possibly wolf the barrel down whole.
 
800px-Morpho menelaus huebneri MHNT Male Dos

The morpho menelaus, which looks very similar to the in-game butterfly.

Trico seems unwilling or maybe unable to find food for itself, thus relying on the Boy to procure the barrels for it. On finding the objects, the Boy must pick them up and carry them back to Trico one at a time. Once Trico notices the item, the Boy can set the barrel before Trico, where the beast will devour it, crushing the barrel and swallowing it. The Boy can also throw it the barrel where, most of the time, Trico will catch and eat it. If Trico does not try to catch it and the barrel hits it, the creature will emit a soft whine.

Barrels can be found in an area by looking for bright blue butterflies resembling the Menelaus blue morpho. If there is one butterfly, that means a barrel is close by. There are more butterflies the closer one gets to a barrel. The butterflies will follow the Boy as he moves the barrel.

History

The Last Guardian™ 20180210174731

The boy carrying a hanging crucible. Screenshot taken by HappyIphisAria.

After the Boy removes the spears from Trico's body, he compassionately decides to feed the injured creature to help it heal faster. The beast is reluctant at first but eventually accepts the boy's kindness. At different points through the pair's travels, Trico will stop and sometimes lie down to rest, refusing to venture forward until it is fed a barrel (or three).

While it is unknown what is in the barrels, they can be seen shot into the air as a reward for those Tricos who bring the Master of the Valley children to consume. There are fragments of these barrels all over the floor of the Citadel's highest chamber.

How to find barrels

While most are easy to find, particularly the ones required to progress, not all of these collectibles are apparent. Here is a guide to find them all.

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The Game Shadow of the Colossus ( Demo  · Pal Release  · Shadow of the Colossus HD  · PS4)
Characters Wander  · Agro  · Mono  · Dormin  · Emon
The Colossi I  · II  · III  · IV  · V · VI  · VII  · VIII  · IX  · X  · XI  · XII  · XIII  · XIV  · XV  · XVI
Unused Colossi ( Devil  · Griffin  · Monkey  · Phoenix  · Roc  · Sirius  · Spider  · Worm )
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The Shrine of Worship
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Soundtrack Roar of the Earth
Walkthrough Time AttackGolden Coins
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Giantology campaign
Hoaxes Jebal-Barez skeletonTamil Nadu tsunami giantSulu Sea eel statuePolarneft conspiracySayre family vacation
Characters Eric BelsonCasper ShillingEd GuylerArkady SimkinBoris AtlasovAndrew and Ellie Sayre
Media Giantology podcasts (FirstInterview with Arkady SimkinThirdFourth) • IPICP memo
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