Page Descriptions - Chapter 52
This article contains all the Moonless Age page announcements made by the comic's author for Chapter 52 - The Last Thread. These often elaborate on or clarify details not explicitly stated in the comic itself, but regardless provide a sort of commentary for each page. These announcements are made in the Moonless Age channel of the Official Discord and can also be read on the comic's Official Facebook Page.
- 1 Chapter Announcement
- 2 Page Announcements
- 2.1 Pages 1-10
- 2.2 Pages 11-20
- 2.3 Pages 21-30
- 2.4 Pages 31-40
- 2.5 Pages 41-50
- 2.6 Pages 51-60
- 2.7 Pages 61-70
- 2.8 Pages 71-80
- 2.9 Pages 81-90
- 2.10 Pages 91-100
- 2.11 Pages 101-105
- 2.12 Special Pages
- 2.12.1 "Daycare" Chibi
- 2.12.2 "Kel Goes On A Trip" Chibi
- 2.12.3 "Kel and Tactics" Chibi
- 2.12.4 "Ship vs Owl" Canon Chibi
- 2.12.5 "Suna's Kidnapping" Chibi
- 2.12.6 "Bad Ship, Go Away!" Chibi
- 2.12.7 "Hunger" Chibi
- 2.12.8 "Hero" Chibi
- 2.12.9 "Kel vs Rock" Chibi
- 2.12.10 "True Freedom" Chibi
- 2.12.11 "Kyo Epilogue 1" Chibi
- 2.12.12 "Kyo Epilogue 2" Chibi
- 2.12.13 "Kyo Epilogue 3" Chibi
Kern: Finally, it's up! Brand new full-length chapter with a whole lot of action. And hey, looks like an old face that hasn't been seen for a while is now returning.
Kern: 3 years later, the invasion began. The goblins are tossing faery nests from their catapult in the main panel. They're not there just to wipe out the colony, they're there to purge fae folk in general. This colony being right at the rim of the sea of mist implies that they're going as far as the entrance of the underworld to do so. Also, yeah, it's getting to be spring. Vaelia's prediction is true on that. The happy days though, not so much!
Kern: The raiders are ambushed by the colonists set to defend their homes and lives. Yet what they face is but a side force compared to the wave storming up the hill. The son is now the mother's height, if not taller.
Kern: The main goblin army charges up to the fortification, where they are divided by the defenders' artillery. Dealing with them in smaller numbers at a time is the idea, and what's to come will divide the attackers even more. This is where the wave of cameos begins. Starting with 5 of them.
Kern: The enemies are divided and cut down, but a new threat is looming right over the horizon. Lots of cameos in this one. First, they raise rocks from the ground to split the enemies into smaller groups and disrupt whatever cohesion they have. Then, squads of defenders enter each of those smaller arenas to finish them. There is one bad thing about this tactic though: It's the surface and these specialists raising the rocks will exhaust themselves very fast.
Kern: The enemy reveals an unexpected weapon. It's huge, it requires a crane to load, it's slow as shit, and it's clearly not something they can build themselves given everything else they've shown so far. But, it's still there, and it packs a punch. If anything, it's a morale boost for their side regardless of the damage it can do.
Kern: Inside the besieged fortress, Kel and Ariel are facing increasingly-alarming reports as their enemies press them from all sides. The fortress' top is covered in grass. Basically all the drow structures are built underground, which make sense considering how they lived. They get up there, and yet dig down. This gives some advantage at the moment against the artillery. Though if the goblins can get inside, it'll be a different matter. I don't have exact numbers when doing this, but you could say it's a 1 vs 100 as it is stands. Doesn't matter how many magic tricks they can pull, sheer numbers is bound to overwhelm, like Quain proved before by killing her stronger foes with numbers and steel.
Kern: An assassin takes advantage of Kel's absence to end this all. She could be hired, sent here, or simply be someone who is breaking down under pressure. The cameo owner actually wanted this, and turns out that I did have this event ongoing. So here you go, Cutiesquiggoth, little murder Ssu doing her thing.
Kern: Ariel is unfazed by the assassin's threat. Calling the bluff, she offers the dagger back to the killer and, by doing this, an out to the situation that would've been bloody very soon; just not in the way the killer expected. Sar'nel watched and was ready. Ariel wouldn't have had to do anything. So either Ariel is channeling some Quain there, or she trust her friends to have her back. Literally. Perhaps a bit of both?
Kern: The assassin leaves just as the fortress shakes from another impact. Without Kel to overrule her, Ariel decides to take whoever is left to go out and try to push the enemy back. However, she is caught by Faen before they have the chance to leave.
Kern: Instead of stopping them, Faen decides to join them to fight. Outside the fortress, a landslide cuts the enemy charge and golems attempt to stop their progression. It's likely Kel had a hand in the landslide. There has and will be a shit-ton of characters. Wish us strength, for these war scenes are not easy to do.
Kern: The golems break the cavalry charge, but the enemy came prepared. The foot soldiers take down the golems and stab the pilots through the visors. Had there been more golems, would it have worked? Probably not. But they're three, and they are already weak. Plus, this is the real attack. No raid, no little groups. It's the full-scale war Kyo'nne referred to in Chapter 37. Kite says the next model of the golem suit will come with visors that can slide down :p
Editor's Note: The page in which Kyo'nne warns Ariel of the Hermionne threat can be found here.
Kern: Reinforcements arrive, stalling the enemy push for a moment. We were joking around that Ariel should've been a dragoon. Leaping from up-high with a lance and landing in a blast. If the Hermionne had broken through the three golems, the gate in the fortress was a mere 30 meters or so ahead.
Kern: The horsemen's charge is broken by Faen and Kel's combined might. Kel had never gotten the chance to be a badass. This chapter will finally give him that opportunity. Also, a shit-ton of horses were harmed in the making of this chapter.
Kern: The enemy riders retreat under Faen's watch. Faen just taps into the enemy's mood and feelings, determining why they attacked. In the end, it doesn't matter why, but she wanted to know. There was no negotiation, no parley; just one day they showed up for a good purge.
Kern: The battle rages on. Ariel means to pursue the cavalry as they retreat, but Kel advises to stay on the defense. Ariel stopping? No way. But then, replace her with Quain and you'd also get someone who wouldn't stop. Regardless if Kel's advice is the wise thing to do.
Kern: The enemy cavalry retreat to their line to discover something huge munching on their trebuchet. The dragon is Baef, the one belonging to guilty's character, who is part of the colonists. A group that has yet to show in this battle.
Kern: The colonists take the invading forces from behind, tearing down trebuchets and taking over the cannon. So far, the only ones that had been fighting were those who joined the Sarghress forces. All the "civilians" were sent over the valley to wait until the enemy force was fully engaged. If the cavalry had gone over the hill and seen them coming, this would have all failed. Dragons or not. And Kel's age is felt a lot more on the old world.
Kern: Tactics and formations disintegrate as the battlefield turns into one big melee. Don't wear red plumage, it attracts tall drowlings to leap at you. Because someone of someone on Facebook: This is one part of the battlefield. An important one, considering the leaders are involved in it. Vaelia and her people are still fighting down in the colony. There's other groups fighting all around. With Ariel leading what's left of the people out the fortress, it wouldn't take much for an enemy group to sneak around and take the place over. But then, if they had not pushed over, the colonists may have been slaughtered after their surprise attack.
Kern: The aftermath of the battle shows a desolate place. With corpses everywhere across the hills, and houses turned to ruins. It's a common trope that a victory that's hard-paid doesn't feel like victory. Though I do believe it'd be the case in most battles against a stronger foe: If you win, all you get is the feeling of relief you're still alive.
Kern: The aftermath of the battle becomes clear when one of the colonists emerges from her hiding place to witness the damage. There's an important tidbit from Kel: "If Koil answers." AKA: "If the clan answers." AKA: "No one is answering." AKA: "Shit behind the scenes."
Kern: The next day, Pelan and Octarya get excited over a mysterious sound. However what's coming out of the mist is no flying whale... I assume by now the whole mist-whale thing, started by Slainne in a nearby colony, has spread as a popular children's story. Also, Octarya is so cuuute.
Kern: Kyo emerges alone from the airship, demanding to see those who are in charge of the colony. The characters haven't seen Kyo since Chapter 46's Felde events. Sar'nel is still grumpy about it. With good reason, as it's where Shala died.
Kern: The meeting between Kyo and the old squad isn't the friendly encounter she was hoping it be. Kyo must've heard about the dinner event. She didn't hear about about everything, however. She used to be an informant for them, one that was sponsored by Snadhya and eventually worked her way up in the Nid hiearchy. Albeit an untainted and friendly looking one. A good person to have as a public face.
Kern: The assistance to the distraught colony comes at a cost: For Ariel and her companions to come at the next gathering. Although one taking place right in the enemy's seat of power. So I covered in the last page that I'm not hiding the fact that Kyo is a Nid at this point; just not wearing the name, or the red eyes. The ship clearly is still under Snadhya's control, now that it's confirmed the cast has to go Felde to be recognized. I hope the message is clear though: If you are the leader and go have to go to be appointed by someone else, you are not truly the head of your faction. Someone else is above you. An empress over queens, in this case. And even if not directly bowing to the person recognizing you, you will still be tied to the person making it possible. So, for now, I won't confirm whether it is just Snadhya working behind the scenes, or if it is her trying to come out in the light. As long as you know, as a reader, that the characters are fully aware of the meaning beneath all this. Ariel knows, Sar'nel knows, and even Kyo knows. The latter thinks it's for the best, Ariel is torn because of the whole obligation to her people that are truly cut off. Now as to whether she says "yes" or "no", you'll have to wait until next week.
Kern: The parley comes to an abrupt end as Sar'nel points his blade in her face. Sar'nel likely did this before Ariel could volunteer herself. Now I know Kyo looks really bad, though she likely was told something entirely different that she's now trying to soften up. Maybe if things hadn't gone so bad three years ago, that whole softening-up might not have sounded so terrible.
Kern: Kyo is sent back at blade-point to the ship, and the soldiers mobilize to ensure the message they're sending is clear: They will remain independent.
Kern: Kyo gives up and boards the ship to leave. As the defenders prepare to do the same, the ship changes its path...
Kern: The airship destroys the colony's defenses in a matter of moments. While the cover focused on the goblin-horde setup, this ship is the true threat of this chapter. Worse than any army the goblins can amass, and one coming right at the defenders' back. They did fire a cannon in one of the panels, which isn't much of a counterattack, and missed.
Kern: The children are rescued within the collapsing fort. They were above the impact area, leading to the floor collapsing and a long fall for them. Thankfully, spider girls save the day. One of them literally a spider.
Kern: Kel returns to witness the destroyed fort that the ship left behind. Ariel always wants to jump into action and turn a situation around, but with the ship nothing could be done. It's pure helplessness, where all those fancy powers can do nothing.
Kern: The people of the colony abandon their homes to leave down the path that leads back to the underworld. Sorn and Chigusa'a most precious belongings: Dragon eggs. While I wish I could include everyone's babies in this page, there is only so much time in a day. Taldrin and Zareh's little Quain'tana made it in as the baby representative. For now, that is.
Kern: The survivors regroup below in the old ruins that served as the original settlement of the clan. There, Kel has a plan on how to deal with the airship's threat. Last time Faen was tested by Ash'waren, she was a little huddled mess on the ground. This time, she manages to hold the gaze of her mother. Plus Ash is in a lot better mood nowadays, after having spent a couple years with Kel. Who knows, perhaps Ash was grumpy all this time just from dealing with Quain on a daily basis? :P
Kern: The ship soon returns to find the colony evacuated. Time for all those Nid cameos as ship's crew!
Kern: The ship flies down, only to fall in a net of wires hidden in the thick mist. Kel's plan starts. Of course, a single wire wouldn't make the ship stop; but given many of those steel wires, it'll make the ship unstable and scrape at the hull. Slowing it down and, given enough wires, stopping it entirely. Especially if they get in the rotors.
Kern: The ambush sets the airship's crew into action. Old Machike is nestled between a mountain and a cliff. The cliff has the path up to the colony, but the mountain has that elevator going up inside of it. The Sarghress made a hole from within and set their ambush at the end of the wires. A gambit that paid off, for now.
Kern: The ship fires and breaks free for a moment. During that moment, the surviving empath sister searches for what awaits them below and finds someone she did not expect. Meanwhile, the crew of the ship finds another unexpected thing: The goblin's cannon pointed at them. I think most people must've guessed that cannon was coming back. The Sarghress cannons were damaged, but that one is fine. Plus it has that great range.
Kern: The ship's crew spots the cannon and attempt to turn away, but it's too late to dodge the shot. The mist can be useful for ambush; it's hard to see within, and wires/dvergar cannons are not something they can detect, either. The blast passed in between the balloon and deck, but tore through the pillars that connect the two. Some of these are not just for keeping these two things together; some pass some sort of gas to the balloon above. Note: The ship can still fly without the balloon entirely. It'd fly like shit though.
Kern: The damaged ship escapes in the thick mist, leaving a trail of debris in its wake. Below, the defenders cheer their victory. There's hope. That ship can wreck from afar any colonies on the old world with ease, but down below the air superiority is much lessened.
Kern: Days pass. The defenders prepare themselves for the airship's return, until the day something strange appears beyond the clouds. War of escalation. :[ Coming next: Kaijus.
Kern: The island above shatters to become a rain of rocks that fall down toward the scouts, and onto the town below. Some pointed out Snad may have figured out the rock Nishi'kanta held was the true weapon. Welcome to modern rock-warfare.
Kern: The defenders below watch the sky with unease as sounds echo from above. Eventually, a flare alerts them of the ship's coming, but a moment later many more fall as the sky lights up. This marks the middle of the chapter. First the goblin hordes pushed the colonists hard. They managed to turn the situation around. Then the airship push them harder; again they manage to turn the situation around. But this time, will they be able to save the day yet again?
Kern: The falling island causes a rockslide that worsens the disaster for the defenders, who witness the sky literally falling upon their heads. People like to joke about "rocks fall, everyone dies". Well there you go: They fell, people are dying. Machike's hope for a defense is shattered.
Kern: She searches for her family in the debris. Thankfully, they are safe, but those who are still fighting attract the attention of the enemy that seeks to end all resistance. This is to push the point: It's a very unfair fight. If they are to win this, they'll have to come up with something very different than just turtling up. The enemy is fast, out of reach, and hits hard.
Kern: Ariel is asked to make a decision amidst the chaos, and for once can't think of anything. Before they get the chance to find Kel, the ship turns its attention to the shelter of the most dangerous person left to oppose them. The Nid empath onboard has a personal hatred for Ash, and can easily pinpoint where she is. Likely none of the crew want to deal with a crazy powerful empath, and so Ash became the priority target once the immediate cannon fire ceased. Might as well classify Ash as heavy artillery to be disabled before the ground battle can begin.
Kern: Ariel has another crazy idea strike her. She clearly can't lead an army to retreat when she has none, but she's hoping the ship will believe it.
Kern: The signals did catch the ship's attention. Although now it is hunting them down. Ariel probably thought she could get away, but she's never had to outrun something flying at her. Regardless, it'll give the people left back in Machike some precious minutes.
Kern: The ploy to lure the ship away worked, for a moment. Once the enemy soldiers find only a couple people running away, they lose interest and redirect the ship back to the besieged town. Considering Ariel's GF is Faen, she'd be well aware of an empath's touch. Not that said empath was doing anything beside just trying to sense for the people supposedly running away. So Ariel telling herself "feel nothing" did nothing. And unless she does something now, her whole plan will have been for nothing.
Kern: In a desperate bid to get the ship's attention, Ariel picks up the flag and announces herself for all to hear. The ship turns and lights up a cannon at the young matador. Swinging a literal red flag, Ariel tries to aggro the boss. Except she's lacking a full party to fight it. :P It's one more bad idea that somehow works. The ship's goal is to neutralize targets of opportunity. Ash came first; if they can blast Ariel up they will. Ending Quain's lineage is likely on a list somewhere, at least when they answer "no"...
Kern: Ariel runs to escape her hunters and falls down to a deeper part of the underworld. But no matter where she goes, they'll catch up with her fast. Poor tattered flag, the bull got mad and tore it apart. And Ariel didn't expect jumping that rock would lead her to fall off a cliff beyond, making for a hard landing.
Kern: Ariel jumps into the abyss below to escape the ship. There, her pursuers lose track of her, although someone else is also hiding there alongside Ariel. First of the mimian cameos. They were involved in Chapter 46 trying to take down Snad. This one had the note of getting lost from the others and thus was perfect to be the first glimpse of the group.
Kern: Ariel crawls her way out to find the rendezvous point, where the rest of the colony's forces would be waiting for the ambush. There, she finds only a handful of people waiting. All of the cameos that could be are there, in our version of Where's Waldo. Also, no Kel. Clearly this small bunch of people, half of whom are not soldiers, will be able to take the airship. :D
Kern: At the back of the group, she finds her brother wounded and unconscious. The situation get more dire by the minute, but she still has one last idea in mind. Sar'nel would be used to Ariel's lack of a plan by now. He can be the Rosof to her Quain'tana.
Kern: They wander deeper into the underworld in search of potential allies. What they find may not be as friendly as they thought. First Sharen alliance cameos right there. Felde is the closest city to Machike. To them it may take a day, but the airship could've already gone back and forth from its home city already.
Kern: The alliance scout is on alert and warns the rest of her group of an incoming attack. It should be rather obvious that they're not hunting the colony people with this page. If anything, they're the ones being hunted. And with this group appearing, there are now only very few cameos who have yet to appear. The numbers of cameos in this chapter inflated some group-scene panels, such as this last set of panels, but in the end the story is the same.
Kern: The colonists expected to be ambushed, but instead it is the alliance convoy that is being ambushed by attackers from the sky. Swift and deadly, several of the guests they were meant to protect die in the first wave. One thing I push often with Drowtales is that things happen in the background that are completely outside of the control of the protagonists. If everyone has goals, then said goals can sometime overlap with unexpected results. This is one of them: The Sharen were never to hunt the colonists to help the ship in it's hunt, even if those two forces are technically allies. And Ariel, who believed to have found some other group also seeking to destroy the ship, had it wrong; they were hunting these people. Likely this is not the first such convoy being attacked, and this time they had heavy guards that knew the owls might be coming. Not that it helped them save the first two victims, nor prevent Suna's kidnapping. So not everything is rosy for Snad's faction. The more she pushes for power in the open, the more other powers push back.
Kern: The battle worsens as more enemies drop from the sky and the youngest Sharen princess is kidnapped. It's a pretty chaotic scene to draw, there. But what I'd like to point out is Viri's attack: Defensive roll. One she must have practiced a hundred times to survive assassination. :P
Kern: An old face returns to engage the captain of the guard in battle, giving a chance for her wounded sister to escape. Chakri is the original owl clan character from Chapter 43, who also came back in Chapter 46 to fight at Mikilu's side in Felde. This new attack is just one more of her efforts to continue the fight.
Editor's Note: To clarify, Oiloss'lin is the captain of this convoy's escort, not the Imperial Guard, though the two Imperial Guards present are under her command.
Kern: The owls escape the battle with demons giving chase. That would be the most dirty tactic to use to win the battle. Everything she just set loose will go hunting for the tastiest morsels, even perhaps one of the guests they're set to protect, if left unchecked. Still, it'll make the owls give up the fight completely. While that little wounded owl is being hunted down and unable to fly.
Kern: The owl is saved from being eaten by the colonists, who were setting up for an ambush of their own outside the battleground. And Zuhur was sent to follow the wounded owl. WITH his pants, the lucky one. Valyn is a cameo that has a relation with Zuhur, so it made for a fateful meeting there, even if it just means a little extra dialogue.
Editor's Note: Kern's reference to Zuhur's pants is due to an ongoing community in-joke about Zuhur. It has little to no relation to canon. Zuhur and Valyn'dyne are, per their sponsors, former mates.
Kern: As Ariel attempts to find a way to communicate, the leader of the owls arrives on the scene. Not only is this cameo is mute, she doesn't understand either. And Chakri learned the language in the last few years!
Kern: Ariel attempts to reach out for an alliance with the owls, but they are reluctant to join forces. Chakri might have seen demons being used too many times. That, and just a plain old mix of nationalism and racism thrown in, doesn't help. Regardless if they fight the same enemy, she doesn't see herself as being on the side of anyone that has Ariel's skin color. That is, unless they can do the impossible demands.
Kern: With some parting advice, the owls leave the battlefield as Kel arrives on the scene to tell them their new destination. Sha'shi is a place that was drawn and had a audiobook about it created a long time ago. A big mark on the map that was never used in the comic. That is, until now. Also, it's odd to see a male character so much taller than the female. Makes Kel look more manly than usual . Or perhaps it's just the disheveled look, carefuly planned for.
Kern: The defenders of the colony continue on their way past the enemy city, as the hunter returns to the rest of the convoy. There, he chooses to lie about what he found on his search. A little aftermath for the Sharen alliance cameos, though what truly matter is the last part: The Sharen won't pursue. On that, they have some luck. Panel one is text-heavy, whether it's truly necessary that's hm... debatable. Dedicating another page just for a speculation regarding the mimians' possible future motives felt more wrong than to shove the tidbits for anyone's who's curious. So yes, in the coming chapter there may be more from that front.
Kern: They lead the airship on a chase into the deeper parts of the underworld. Tricking them into expending their energy on dummies, while hiding underground. The dvergar made homes by making holes in the grounds. These are now long abandoned and make for a good hiding place. It's quite likely the colonists stumbled on several of them and chose to use this spot to lure the enemy.
Kern: The exhausted colony's defenders have been traveling for days, deeper into the underworld, surviving on supplies that were hidden along the way. Finally, their destination is now in sight. Kel assumed shit would hit the wall in many ways. No doubt he had some stuff hidden on the surface as well, in case the colony had to be abandoned. And while the food is disgusting, Ariel can't stop herself from feeling very hungry by now.
Kern: They arrive at their destination, the center of the underworld: Sha'shi. Took a while to get to do something in that town, but we're finally there. The rest of the chapter is going to be here, btw, so we're entering the final arc and the last cameos will appear very soon.
Kern: They enter the town in hopes of finding help. In doing so, they learn a bit about how the underworld was created. Hey world-setting exposition, it's been a while, now. And here Kel goes and dumps it on us. The underworld was created from several impacts, this one is the largest, with the rock poking out being what's left from this part of the fragment. If you go back to look at the old map, you'll see the underworld is a trail of impacts going one direction.
Kern: Kel seeks shelter for his people from an old acquaintance, as Kau is led to the garage to witness some golem engineering at work. A white elf, that's a rare one. And an example of a character from another setting that was fit in thanks to the odd roles that can end up showing in Sha'shi. And the meeting of two ex-Vloz in one place leading to the hug. Too bad Kel isn't getting a hug. Well, maybe he'll get more than a hug later. :D
Kern: Inside the engineers' workshop, Kau finds the prototype of another flying machine. The egg-like things were shown in Chapter 35 as being a new revolutionary type of core that would power the golems of tomorrow. This is just a byproduct of that. As for the floating platforms Kau refers to, they're those platforms the Sharen and Imperial Guard were using. Same with the kid's platforms in Orthorbbae. They do one thing: Float. The ship has it's entire bottom as one big floating rock, but it can do a lot more than just floating; it can go anywhere and shoots. This golem might not truly fly, especially not everywhere, but it's a rare case of a floating platform doing more than just floating. Think of it as a high-power version of Sara's armor for the closest equivalent. And with this page, all the cameos are in!
Editor's Note: These cores are the amber stones that Vaelia used to negotiate peaceful trade between surface halmes and the Highland Raiders, as seen here. Wafay was later seen providing some as payment to the Sarghress here.
Kern: The next day, they prepare for a test that Kau turns into a race against his squadmate. He has a lot to prove. Sharkgirl probably did this on purpose, btw. Getting a person that seems to have interest and tricking them into being a guinea-pig. Yet Kau offered before she could get to that point.
Kern: The race is on, and for a moment the new golem's power brings Kau to new heights. Although what goes up must come down... As the engineer of the machine said, this is not a flying golem. It's easy to forget when the thing become so feather-light he can perform superhero jump with it.
Kern: The prototype golem falls hard. Before the race can be called off, Kau rises back up to give it another try. Here we see the rise of Doctor Doomgolem. His rise shall topple his former companions to eventually be the equal to Empress Dark Faen. Or maybe not. Either way, Kau is having some feelings of inferiority and of being useless compared to the other three from the old squad.
Kern: They race up the moon's fragment to find the maelstrom of mist above, where Kau finally gets a breather from the exchausting climb. Couple things about Sha'shi that make it stand out, and one of them is the mist circling the fragment. Mana gathers up there like a funnel, it's not the fragment itself generating any "moon magic power". If it did... they'd be magical girls by now. :P
Kern: Their moment of joy is short-lived, as the ship that's been hunting them down approaches. They won't need to find a way to lure them to Sha'shi now. This also means the final battle is going to start. They've gone as far as they can go, and the enemy followed. No Highland Raiders are coming to the rescue; it's just them, three dozen people made from a mix of colonists and tired Sarghress. Although now they got access to that fancy new jumping golem to at least hope to reach the ship. That is, if they're allowed to use it and if Kau can pull it off.
Kern: The colonists and the local engineers team up for an impossible plan: To take over the ship and make it theirs. For once, it's Kel who proposes to strike. I'm sure his niece regrets not having offered first.
Kern: In small groups, the colonists make their way up unnoticed by the ship's crew scattered about the town. However one of them does get suspicious. For she's the one who went and poisoned Ariel in her cell during Chapter 50. If anyone could spot the Sarghress movement, it's her. Regardless of the attempts of some locals to distract her from the people being brought up by that pulley and those climbing in between building. Or following the golem, of course.
Kern: The crew aboard the ship is alerted right before the ambush could be sprung. Though Kau and the others were also alerted. Meaning they have to strike now, or lose all advantage. Also, these two make such a good image of how diplomacy is handled...
Kern: The crew who once stole the airship away are now being boarded by pirates of their own. Ariel and the two golems are first to board with their ability to leap. Now that the plank is secured, more can rush in. That is until the ship lifts up and cuts off all means of getting onboard. Or something else happens. Regardless, they have but seconds to do something.
Kern: Ariel was on her way to strike the captain when Kyo came to stand in her way. Meanwhile everyone else pushing up the ramp receives an explosive welcome. Well, he did have the bomb in his hand. And he was standing nearby. And it was a pretty short-fused kind of thing... No plans go perfectly. It could have been a fast kill, but now it'll be a bitter fight! Thankfully for Durlyn and Apura, the tanks were in front to take the blunt of the blast.
Kern: For every push back, there's a renewed effort to assault the ship. They attempt to escape, but the locals below aid in keeping the ramp steady for the remaining forces to get onboard the ship. Basicly the golem lifted the platform, then Kel lifted things even more with rock. While another golem is hanging onto the anchor. Sure, the ship will eventually lift the whole thing easily, but for now it's slow and that'll give the chance for twenty people to run in.
Kern: The battle has now truly begun for the control of the ship, with many still left behind, including many enemies patrolling the town below. Things can only heat up and, for a few of them, to the point of being cooked. Again, those golems need some kind of glass shielding. And air pumps. Eventually.
Kern: The fight for the upper deck of the ship turns for the worse when Kyo throws her old friend overboard. She learned a few things over the years with the Nids; not all her skills are singing nowadays.
Kern: Ariel nearly gets torn apart by the ship's rotor, and more of the crew emerge from under the deck. Including one well known empath that promptly wreaks her usual havoc. There's a lot of characters and a lot of events going on at the same time, making it a hard scene to follow. Sure, they managed to infiltrate the ship; but it couldn't be as easy as just charging in.
Kern: The ship turns around and means to end the remaining resistance on the ground. But really, shooting cannons in modern warfare? They should've brought rocks.
Kern: The ship fires on the resistance below, only for the vortex to engulf the fire and spin it around back at them! The ship is hit twice on both deck and baloon, with a stronger effect as well. They may know how to use the ship, but it's still a technology they don't fully understand, yet. Perhaps the owls knew about that part, as well, from having watched the ship fire before. Or perhaps they didn't. That won't be answered. Regardless, I know some people are getting anxious over the ship, well there you go: This is the turnabout of the situation. The situation had to be dire, the crew is still full of Nids. But now there's a chance.
Kern: Faen awakens her inner bear to fight off the influence of the enemy empath. Freeing her comrades so they may resume the fight. Bolt to the face: Good old classic counter.
Kern: The enemy empath realizes the great force that was fighting her from the start wasn't her clan's legendary leader, but the little Faen all along. Faen is pulling an Ash in the last panel: It's a similar looming threat that Ash used to scare Faen in Chapter 36. It doesn't work on Bae, but it's enough to impress her enough to hope maybe they have a shared hatred for Ashwaren. (Who really deserves some hate considering how she treats her children. Her and Diva's generation weren't the best moms.)
Kern: Faen's bundle of emotions crush her enemy into a sobbing mess. All of Faen insecurities and fear are quite crushing for poor banana. :D Someone was joking that friendship would allow her to win. Come on, this is Drowtales; Faen's strength is built on recovering from trauma. Banana never cried for losing her sisters, now she'll get to feel something for a bit.
Kern: Kel enters below the deck to seal the crew within, as one of the enemy summoners is coming behind him: Neh and her tentacles. It had to be done. And that poor ship is about to get much more wrecked. So much for taking it over!
Kern: The would-be air pirates meant to take the ship from within. However, when they enter the engine room it is only to realize that everyone is about to crash. The two blasts set off a chain reaction. Even Kel'noz pulling metal structures off the wall and ground contributed, albeit a little. The wheel was spun, and no doubt people left their posts that shouldn't have. The gas being pumped in and out has large leak, the engine is overloading. So in the end, sure, the ship could just float on just the rock alone. But it's also in motion - a motion leading to the ground.
Kern: The airship crashes, throwing every combatant off their feet and some overboard; including Kyo. The mountain they crashed into is the same everyone had gathered upon, and the ambushers waited on. Considering how the weather just channels things there, it made sense the current would catch the ship and make it spin until it crashes on top. The people fighting in the first few panels were already doing so on a sloping deck, thus why Kau has his golem basically crawling on all fours.
Kern: Someone in the stream asked Kite to make Ariel piledrive Kyo'nne. I swear she tried. It'd would been the best piledriver ever: "Take this for being such an ass!" - and bam! - Nuclear explosion following the piledriver. Alas, too beautiful for this comic. Instead we have Ariel leaping after Kyo and the both of them crashing hard to the ground. Ariel could've maybe slowed her descent enough if it was her alone, and she had her arms. In this case, there's neither, meaning one long-ass tumble down to end up on someone's roof. "They should have broken bones!" Yes, future person, yes they do. Ariel either breaks limbs or loses them; it's a bad habit.
Kern: Ariel carries Kyo back up the hill to the fallen ship, to see that the crash hasn't ended the fight just yet. She can will her body to retake its shape after mangling a leg, but Kyo can't, leading to the whole arm-carry that no doubt will spawn many tsundere mental images. Images that'll only strenghten once Kite's special page goes up tomorrow. Also, now that I look back, Ariel carries Kyo right under said broken leg, and she isn't even crying out in pain. Suspicious, or just a mistake? :D
Kern: The ship is down and a new foe stands in their way. Sal'bara had to have her own pet golem in there. Bigger and meaner than anything the locals could've come up with. We had that insect named Kiri'su back in the day that served as basis for the body, so she could fold it up when it was time to store it in the ship. Most obvious final fight setup...
Kern: Everyone fights to take down Sal'bara, but for now she is putting up quite the fight. Basically fighting a more experience Sara, at this point. Similar armor, similar cannon, big golem toy... Also, Kel loves showing his armpits; imagine if he didn't have a shirt on. :O
Kern: Sal'bara calls for her crew to fight back as she keep her enemies busy, but it appears everyone is deserting. Some of the high-rank people on the ship already decided that if things were going badly, they'd run. Sal'bara, however, sees the ship as hers and refuses to budge.
Kern: Seeing the results of her actions, she brings an end to the fight. Kyo changes side, again. A tad late, but not too late.
Kern: Her handcannon's cartridges explode under the pressure, and Kau topples her golem once she lost control. Ending the fight at last. This whole chapter was meant to be one difficult drawn-out fight, with one side pursuing another in one big hunt until they hit the bottom of the barrel where all hopes seem lost. A whole lot of bad luck, a lot of misteps, broken trusts, with our protagonists persevering. The antagonists also had their share of bad luck, by the end, which gave them their chance. Had Kyo not turned coat again, maybe Sal'bara would've held the Sarghress at bay long enough to end this in one messy stalemate. Now, it's clear whoever is left of the crew will run or surrender.
Kern: The battle is over, the victors tend to each other wounds, brag about their exploits, and set forth to ensure next time they are not taken unprepared. Though if you follow the cameo news post, you already know there's something coming. Go us and our slow updates of late! Sal'bara must've read it too. But more seriously, here's a tiny bit of background info that's not said in the comic: Before the Jaal'darya came to be the ninth clan under the rule of the last Empress of Chel there was another clan; it was the one that Sal'bara was part of. The Sarghress and Sharen both had an hand in making sure it stopped existing; making her, like so many other Nids out there, pretty pissed off at the great clans in general.
Kern: With the locals' assistance, the ship is repaired and made flight-worthy once more, with a new crew onboard. Relatively new, as some the engineers from Nuqrah'shareh were kidnapped with the ship years ago. And the slave will be freed; to get right back to work, of course. The ship was not fixed instantly, btw. I just didn't feel it was right to put something like "two weeks later" over the page. Time passing will be made clear, soon enough. And, with that, the chapter is nearly complete. Just a few more pages to go!
Kern: As the ship brings our tired fighters back home, they get an unexpected visitor coming to pay them respect. Chakri (the owl girl) said earlier in the chapter that they'd have to prove themselves to be worth being allied with. This is the start of that possible alliance.
Kern: The people that were left behind witness the return of the airship, although now under their comrades' control. Two weeks have passed; by now, most people would've thought them dead or captured. Two more pages to go, btw!
Kern: The defenders of the colony rejoin their families, mend their wounds, and await the next threat that they dread will soon come. Of course, Rayata would hang a pirate flag. And Guilty's character gets a tiny Baef, all fresh and pink from the egg. And the empath... well, she's up to something. One more page to go! Then the sky fall, again. I'm sure. Maybe.
Kern: The final page of the chapter comes with the news of impending conflict for the story to come. I know, cameo announcement gave it away two weeks ago, we're late, etc. Point is, regardless of announcements outside the story, it had to be stated inside. Be it for people who do not follow announcements and for people who'll read this later on. A legion lead by a Sarghress commander who wouldn't mind seeing Kel and Ariel out of the picture. Implies the main Sarghress branch has made a deal or has been taken over by some third party. Doesn't matter who, or what, and I'm sure people for now will point at Snadhya as the obvious culprit. But it's not always that simple, as shown in Chapter 50. So... conflict to come, they don't have much time to prepare. But they got a spanking-new ship to move fast! That gives them an edge. That said, the next chapter may or may not be a short story about the ssu colony, it'll depend on how much of a story block I have ready.
Kern: We take a break from the drama for Kite's birthday and present to you the true battle behind the scenes: Daycare for the colony's babies. What's worse, screaming enemy soldiers or screaming babies who pooped themselves?
Kern: Of course the title is punny; it's Kite who came up with this page.
Kern: Kel and Tactics is up.
Kern: A special update about some troubles the air ship is currently dealing with.
Editor's Note: This page is a loosely-canon page that takes place during the Kavahini attack on the Alliance convoy from Pages 55-64.
Kern: Suna's kidnapping would've gone wrong regardless, she has quite the bite. And kick. And punches. Kite did that chibi page on a stream for days just like today, when pages aren't ready for posting. Cameo owners, you get some adorable versions of your characters!
Kern: Special chibi page from Kite.
Kern: Special page from Kite.
Kern: The first of five chibi pages from Kite. This one shows what happened to Kel when the island fell, or at least the healer's perspective on it. Kel tends to look cool right before he get injured, doesn't he.
Kern: Chapter 53 starts on monday but for now, here is another chibi page about the captured slave being freed with some of the least-seen cameos used for it. The version without censor bar is on daydream. There isn't much to see, chibi and all. XD But there you go.
Kern: She wanders through the remains of the colony after the battle is over, reflecting on what she's done. Or as someone already said on discord, maybe she'll just slip on the snowy staircase and fall down. It'd be a very Drowtales type of death. Especially if a rock falls on her, right after.
Kern: Kyo epilogue page 2. More of Kite's adorable art!
Kern: Last of the Chapter 52 chibis is up.