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Page Descriptions - Chapter 41
This article contains all the Moonless Age page announcements made by the comic's author for Chapter 41 - End of Charades. 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.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
Kern: For this page, there were a few additional dialogues written out. Mostly for Diva. But, in the end, it felt more right to have the scene go in silence as Kiel's monologue takes precedence. Giving it a slow-motion feel to my mind. A high point of her life, the last minute before she strikes to fulfill one of her childhood dreams: Making a difference by defeating a great villain. Many see her as a villain, herself, and she realizes it; though she dreams of being the hero, herself. As she lands the blow, she too receives what could be her own death blow. This chapter starts right into the action for a fast setting. An experiment that you, the readers, will be able to judge and tell me if it was the right decision once the chapter come to an end.
Kern: Turtle love brought this armored golem to be. Kiel's personal war-chariot, if you'd like. Definitely more style than substance; but then, it's Kiel. Impression is very important. Kar'liir, who was part of the original Vloz'ress, finally got the chance to get out of the basement after he helped Kiel take back the clan. Now he has his own hanger and plenty of assistants. Including disposable ones.
Kern: A dream realized: To ride upon a giant mecha-turtle towards a mad adventure. Crushing every piece of junk in their path. That's enough to get Kiel really pumped, but then who wouldn't get excited riding a giant turtle? Well, turtle-haters. But they're bound to be thrown off the edge of the universe. Also, Kar'liir does not approve of Cac'bolg's critique.
Kern: A good example of what can be done with the new flexible layout. Panel one would normally have taken too much page estate to be possible. And that inside view broken into many panels, Kiel moving from one to another, is also a first. I can see that being done again for action scenes. Five cameos, two of which are new. Jysmur the expandable assistant and Elbinac the scourge. A killer, that one; one who likely joined for the sake of the action it would provide.
Kern: A lighter mood as the crew travels to their destination. Sometimes people make jokes or act silly to diffuse tension, fear, worries... Vicyl wants to plan things to calm his fear, find faults, and correct them. 'Lok grows grouchy at others instead of himself, as if to seek something to blame for his predicament. Elbinac sets himself under a delusion of immortality. Kiel acts the philosopher about the nature of existence. And Fame sings her worries away. Did I forget someone? Yes, garbage-eater Jysmur farts her morning meal. For she feels no worries when she's piloting a giant turtle! Kite thought it was a turtle fart, at first, so she made the fart extra... sparkly. That turtle is probably fueled on Twilight's vampires.
Editor's Note: ...Classy.
Kern: Conversation between the cousins about the why of things. The motivation behind Kiel's actions. Pure exposure makes for a slow page, but hey, look at the shiny background! It's the Beldrobbaen home. Soon there'll be a mecha-turtle in there that might attempt to mimic a godzilla movie. That makes everything much better, right? Hm... maybe not, it'd lack a mecha-Quain'tana to fight against.
Kern: The reason why the fake Diva is residing with the Beldrobbaen is revealed as Kiel's crew arrive at the Beldrobbaen outer district. Some signs of battle hint at a recent skirmish between Beld and Sargh forces. Kiel takes the easy approach to the Beldrobbaen, by taking things very casually. Too casually, maybe, for this clan of sombre individuals.
Kern: Kiel is pushing her unlikely casual appearance beyond the normal into the borderline mocking. Force of habit, or the way she copes with danger: It's your call to make! Perhaps a bit of both. For with theVloz'ress, to be fearless is the best way to keep people in rank, while the Beldrobbaen... well, they don’t see it that way.
Kern: The Belds are known to be a sombre people. A way of thinking represented by their color and culture. Kiel's mockery made many wish they could stab her, however none took the bait. The Sharen would have thrown a hissy-fit. Sarghress would have taken the challenge. The Kyorls would have purged Kiel at the first step. But Belds? They just took it like adults. Once the warmaster arrived with the authority to deal with their unwelcome guest, she ensured Kiel ceased talking for a moment. Using an explosion to do this is entirely optional. But very satisfying.
Kern: Kiel and her crew get into the district, leaving Jysmur behind with the golem. They carry along with them a bunch of suspiciously-innocent plushies in their arms. For emergency-snuggle time, or something more sinister? And Odelia's insult likely sounds quite harsh in her own mind, but is a feeble title to Kiel's ears.
Kern: The group is on their way up one of the spires to reach the Beldrobbaen's home, where their target hides. With Verthandi as their guide and their inside agent. Apparently she quite willing to have the Vloz'ress do the dirty work.
Kern: The bridge connecting the main Beldrobbaen home with the guest tower where their target hides, with a single guard standing in the way of the bridge. A jumpy guard ready to defend against most things, except the most-harmless of attacks. Perhaps she assumed it was one of the kids playing a game, most likely it happened before. Not only this, but this cameo in particular has a love for kids. Except inside those plushies hid the demon princes of Kiel.
Kern: The demon princes come into play. Tackling the first guard while the rest of the group charge forward to overwhelm the household overseer. Breaking to search for the empress quickly, their operation being under heavy time pressure. The demons princes come to life in a very similar way to summons. They couldn't appear in thin air, pass through walls, or use other immaterial abilities of body-less demons. Kiel had to stuff them into plushies to get them in. This is not an ability unique to Kiel. Other summoners have done it through the comic, the difference is the type of demon.
I'm aware Tsuris'lok's hair is glowing. I don't know what Kite did. She is asleep and thus can't fix it at the moment. Just assume that he is becoming SUPER-SAIYAN!!!
Kern: And the story catches up with Pages 1-2. Short recap of what happened. Followed by who stabed Kiel in the back. Two daggers got into the armor, one went into the back of Kiel's lower neck. A wound that she has yet to feel, but which will make itself felt very soon and hard. The guard in black is Nir'naya, commander of the guard and a character from the very first chapter of the story making her return to action. Check the concept art over at the archive bottom.
Kern: By the time Kiel has the time to pull her arm from her back, she is engulfed in fire. Diva and the slaves are so close that the flames scorch them as well. "Fire in the hole" may seem like a strange thing to say, but it is the cameo character's favourite saying when using his flames.
Kern: Mana fuels the flames. Demons eat the fuel, growing and expanding around Kiel to protect her. Though that doesn't save her from plain old steel that cuts through the demons as if they were nothing; for they are nothing, immaterial. The third swing catches Kiel hard, throwing her off balance. Livestream watchers may remember something like this from before.
Kern: Things are escalating out of control for Kiel. She could not finish Diva in time, she is injured at the back of the neck, now her shoulder is sliced open, and she is on her ass, cornered and outnumbered. Fame coming in to save the day isn't working out, either, as the girl doesn't exactly know what to do. One ball of mana was casually dispersed by Nir'naya's flick of a hand. Do you believe Kiel will get out of this situation and, if so, how? Having a romantic dinner with her enemies is a valid option.
Kern: Demon princes come to the rescue. Fearlessly jumping into the fray. Njack's snuggle attack is ineffective against the overseer who failed her blush check. While Sindas' own attack does manage to tackle down the guard into the ground. It is at the cost of all of its heads. Not that the demon actually has lungs, hearts or anything else. The head will keep on going, maybe take a chomp at Kail'odian's ear or something. Meanwhile, Kiel is getting exhausted and severely beaten. Armor or not, that reverse blade strike has to hurt pretty bad; worse in the morning if she gets to there. It's going so bad for Kiel that her demon friends are now watching from outside the panels.
Pre-attemptively expecting feedback: Yes, the action is confusing in this one. It's really tough to handle so many characters in a small space fighting. Are there better ways to do it? I'm certain. Let's discover it together in the coming chapters.
Kern: Sindas' head went pop before it could scuttle away. Lucky for him, that only means the death of his body. Meanwhile, Kiel is making her way outside the tower, with two major difficulties in her path: She is bleeding, getting weaker. And this tower does not connect to the ground below. Only good news is that the empress' wound is also getting worse. Are they going to chase the assassin or help their charge?
Kern: Kiel weakens further, her vision get blurry while trying to go around the tower on a very thin ledge suspended very high above the ground. With no backup to get her down. Meanwhile, the guards are making the hard decision; They can't fetch a healer from the fortress without having a Beldrobbaen know of their puppet's demise. Instead, they choose to go hunting to silence the assassins. However, Verthandi won't let that happen. She and her backers have their own agenda to ensure that, regardless of the outcome of the assassination, everyone knows of what happened. Why she'd want this, I leave for you to decide for now. The answer will be given later in the chapter.
Kern: Kiel does manage to reach the top of the bridge connecting the guest tower to the main Beldrobbaen tower. Comments were pulled from Facebook and the forum to populate Kiel's mind during her blackout. She really should clean her hair, but it doesn't stay puffy like this naturally, you know. Takes a lot of... things, and a while of not washing, to get it like this.
Kern: Dodging a crossbow bolt on top of a narrow suspended bridge is not a good idea. Kiel didn't have time to think, only to act, as she saw the weapon ahead. Dark(demon) Souls players will recall how many times they died falling off a cliff from dodging something. It's no different here. Kiel regains her balance just in time to see Nir'naya coming from below with a floater. It'll be a persistent hunt, one that Kiel won't escape so easily from.
Kern: How the Sharen lady ended up there is up to speculation. Perhaps Verthandi's words caught the ears of one of the Sharen guests, and she happened to be there at the right time to keep Kiel pinned down. However, her companion had long returned to the main dome to find themselves betrayed and without their leader. The crossbow shots got them to investigate the window and gently disarm the Sharen lady with a hammer-strike to the back. 'Lok sees the discarded crossbow and picks it up, meaning to give it a try on the guard chasing Kiel.
Kern: Kite felt the arrow should bounce off all twisted, which may be a bit extreme. The arrow does hit Nir'naya's armored hand and is damned painful, regardless that it failed to penetrate. On the other hand, Tsuris'lok regrets not having brought his old Sarghress armor along as three daggers enter his chest, one after the other. Grabbing him, the group flees to the elevator, meaning to escape the fortress.
Two notes: Kiel knowing the place refers to her previous visits with Naal'suul. And Tsuris'lok shooting with the crossbow comes from the assumption that he did not know about the flying daggers.
Kern: For a moment they thought they could escape, but the chase has barely begun. Kail'odian jumped into the elevator, torching all around and stabbing Vicyl, who had the unfortunate temptation to attack while everyone else was engulfed. The attack did, however, distract the imperial guard long enough for Elbinac to charge into him. A small platform, lots of fighters, plenty of flames... How could this go wrong? The correct answer is, of course, that Fame will bring out the marshmellows and they'll start a friendly discussion around a fire.
Kern: Elbinac held strong to his delusion of immortality by pushing himself and the imperial guard off the platform. An odd choice, but this is a Vloz'ress; a dysfunctional outcast with a touch of madness. I believe everyone can easily guess what's coming next. Except Kail'odian, who could grow his own madness in the next few seconds; one where he'd suddenly gain the ability to grow wings and fly away like a pretty butterfly!
Kern: Elbinac finds a fall to the death exceedingly funny. Maybe Kail'odian is tickling his feet as they fall. On her side, Fame did not take too well the recent stress mixed with being set on fire. She needs a goat to hug, now! A lot of goats. And how do you get goats? By opening a gate to a netherworld of course. Demons are very cuddly.
Kern: Sarai is no healer, especially with her broken arm. She tries to use a blood foci to close the wound in the hopes that Diva will be fine. That does not prevent Diva's lung from being filled with blood, her heart stopping, and her brain slowly fading away. It did not take long for the word to spread about the attack, thanks to Verthandi. Now the ruler of the clan herself comes to check and confirm the death. No more pretenses, or no more charades you could say. The Beldrobbaen, or perhaps an agent of whoever is sponsoring this assassination, is making it quite clear to the army in the districts that the empress has passed away. Odelia now knows. The imperials down below (such as Ty'tose in the last panel) also know. It'll turn into a "manhunt".
Kern: This is the first time in the story that a protagonist uses the vilified art of bringing demons into the world. What can be used as a weapon by the enemy can also be used by the protagonists, except there's a lot of goats involved this time. That kind of sight took a moment to register to the defiant Beldrobbaen soldier. How does one react to a ghostly goat? Laugh? Fight? Run? The question simplified itself when one goat became a herd.
Kern: Livestreamers will remember this one. Fame's moment of fame... As she leads her herd of goats into the district for great grazing glory. Perhaps this day shall be remembered as a great tragedy when all of a district was turned into goat people. Or as the most inefficient use of demons ever. Regardless, it will be remembered. Though our protagonists don't have much time to worry about such things, their path cut and soon to be surrounded.
Kern: Kiel is getting whoozy again from loss of blood. Thankfully for her, the turtle arrived right in time to save the day. Sometimes, when someone says "look behind you", you actually should look. Now if only Kiel would also look up, as the next challenger enters the field. By now, readers will realize the escalation of events. We've still got a while to go in this lengthy chain-reaction that Kiel began with her crazy plan.
Kern: Nir'naya's hadouken is stopped by the demons, allowing Kiel the one moment she needs to enter the turtle before the Beldrobbaen climb over to reach for the hatch. Inside, Jysmur actives two small cannons that unfortunately have a distinct lack of booming quality. Instead throwing out clouds of black sulfur and smoke into the air for the Beldrobbaen to breathe. Preemptive reply to Nir'naya having been easily foiled: Give it a few more pages before thinking the Vloz got it easy escaping.
Kern: The Vloz'ress crew rush back down the street they came from to face a barricade made of raised rock spikes and Beldrobbaen troops. At the top of the ledge leading back to the highway is Odelia. Watching, waiting. Also, yes, Tsuris'lok smashed his head on the wall.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
Kern: 41 41 41 41 41. It's been a while since Kiel was alone, allowing her to speak freely with her friends. She realizes her plan messed up, though she believes her goal has come to fruition. Leaving only to escape, except the "escape" part is the main issue she is having. Her hope was to lead her assailant into the nearby Sarghress district, which again turned out to be a failure. There's no Sarghress in sight; worse, the commoners are quite willing to take money to cut off Kiel's head. In the current climate of street warfare, it's no surprise most people are equipped to defend themselves.
Kern: How to take on an enemy that flies when you can't. One way would be to climb up a building. Very slowly. Then jump out the window by using pancakes as your jumping platforms (as everyone knows, pancakes make the best jumping material) into the air at your enemy. Three stories above ground level. This has the high chance of backfiring. The enemy can move away, while you are stuck in the jumping arc. Or worse, you could fall down into the mob with a lot of knives below. Either way Kiel didn't think this through quite well. She needed a way to get at her enemy, and climbing the stairs was the way she could think of.
Kern: Kiel misses her jump, falling onto the wing. Her weight, impact, and Nemea's balance all combine to make the floater slip and angle. As Nemea loses her footing, the floater flipping completely vertically, Kiel loses all grip she had, and the floater crashes into the space in between two buildings. From bad to worse. Now Kiel finally receives the Sarghress attention, just as the Beldrobbaen led by Nir'naya come from the other side. Kiel herself? Right in the middle of all of it! This chapter is an exercise in escalation.
Kern: For a moment, exhaustion takes over Kiel. She had a long, difficult, exhausting run from on high to down below. Her wounds flare with pain so much that even her tough mindset has difficulty coping with it. There's no special meaning to the close-up of her eyes but her sudden determination to not give up. She sprints into the alley where the floater crashed, pursued by Nir'naya Nemea, hanging from a window, has yet to join the hunt. With the Beldrobbaen and Sarghress army to soon clash with each other. Kiel does not have time to finish crossing the alley before a Sharen grabs her and puts a blade to her neck.
Kern: Nir'naya arrives at the other side of the alley, but Kiel is not in sight. She signals to her fellow overseer, who shakes her head, not having seen their prey come out on this side. Nir lands, spots blood, and follows it into a restaurant hall where Kiel lies dead in a pool of blood. With Nau'kheol feigning to not know whom he had slain; even more, offering their help in hunting the other Vloz'ress. He is quickly ignored by Nir, who recognizes Chrys'tel and demands to know where Zala'ess has been all this time. A problematic page, it did not receive spelling check yet and I've had to do corrections to the coloring myself which will look quite bad.
Kern: Nir'naya has always played both sides in the Sharen family intrigue, trying to keep a semblance of neutrality. In Chapter 16, she was meeting with Zala'ess' side. Betraying the old guard in Chapter 19. And meeting with Sarv'swati in Chapter 30. Now she reminds Chrys'tel of what she's done for her family; keeping secrets and divulging many others. Hoping against all logic that Zala'ess would care or simply reconsider what's coming. All this while stepping on Kiel's body, who isn't truly dead as everyone expected. Beaten, bloody, tired, and most likely with fractured bones. But dead, no. She's a tough girl, and Nau'kheol never truly sliced her throat. Through all that, she still manages to use her situation for a joke. Hitting on both Nau'kheol and Chrys'tel, who are both technically a prince and princess in this world.
Kern: The blood splattered across Kiel is recovered by Chrys, whose affinity is with blood. Her own, that is. Kiel then questions the very convenient arrival of the two Sharen, who seemed to have been one step ahead of the Beldrobbaen in the case. A couple demons showing up behind Chrys seems to hint at possibilities. Chrys herself is oblivious as to anything.
Kern: Peeing on the Beldrobbaen's statues. Every girl had to do it at least once... Possibly. Don't ask the Beldrobbaen, they won't admit it happened. It's a silly tidbit, but it's one-long time friends would know and likely bring up. Small background details to detail their backstory without going into exposition about their past. After Chrys pressures Kiel into telling what happened, she admits outright that she went and killed their grandmother; pretend one, but still. It's not the kind of news sane people would take kindly, or at least not without being taken aback for a moment. Note that after that news, the mention of Quain'tana being the next target is not being taken apart. There's just too much quirky Kiel to handle there for the two Sharen. Especially for Nau'kheol. It's no surprise why these two never successfully got together in the last 15 years. Finally, the page ends with another questioning by Chrys that leads Kiel to reveal who actually orchestrated the assassination of Diva. Dedicated readers will remember what Khaless told Kiel at the end of Chapter 39. That Kiel could expect an upcoming gift for her heroic quest.
Editor's Note: The page in question is Page 44 of Chapter 39, and can be found here.
Kern: Chrys and Nau have joined the party! They decide to join forces to find out what's going on behind the scene over at Felde. Where the apparent puppet-master Snadhya'rune is pulling the strings of many of the events from the last century.
Kern: The deal is sealed by the trio. Except there is one big hurdle in their path: They still have to get Kiel's bright-orange, bleedy self out of the sector and out of sight from the imperials hunting her. One such who is now coming up to overhear some of the discussion happening within the building. Did Nemea hear correctly, and what will she do with the knowledge is for another chapter. For now, we wrap this chase with an overview of the forces at work. Zala'ess' alliance is about to arrive in Chel. The Beldrobbaen fell back to their home districts. Sarv'swati's forces have lost the entirety of the south. The Kyorls have lost a certain district... More on this very soon. And finally, Quain'tana has arrived right behind the main gate to Chel, besieging the city built there. This city is the same one harboring the colony that Vaelia infiltrated.
Chibi Epilogue Pages
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
Kern: With the crowd getting excited, Baliir pulls some dramatic moves to distract them back onto the topic: Preaching of non-violent revolution. Kiel, having heard all this a hundred times, just shrugs and leaves to rest. The poor girl has had a rough enough day. This ends the epilogue for Kiel and Baliir, hopefully making a nice tie with the fan-favourite concept of Baliir running for presidency.
Editor's Note: The concept of President Baliir, drawn by Darkvolt, can be found here.
Kern: By guest artist Leopardwerecat. This epilogue is about Vicyl checking up on his friend's home. In there, he has a break down, thinking about how he abandoned 'Lok. The concept that 'Lok became a demon doesn't register to him. He allows himself one manly tear before noticing something pink out of the chest he sat on. 'Lok is known for his questionable choices of clothing when off-duty; this final panel is a nod to this.
Kern: Fame's epilogue, drawn by Darkvolt. Fame returns to her small room to nurse her wounds. Coiled up on the bed, she looks to her dream of having a band, then at the pile of broken instruments she recovered over the years. Nothing that works. In the end, it's just dreams. At least the goat she summoned earlier has returned to her. I've seen some people disgruntled about harmless demons, where most were fearsome before. It's all about the demon's nature. Take a mindless creature that only seek to feed and you get an atrocity, whether it has a body or not. Take a goat... and, well... you get a goat. There's an infinite number of netherworlds with just as many creatures that could come through. The question is which gate to open. It could take years to find the right creature for the right use. Perhaps someone had found these goats before, but wanted something more lethal and never used them. It's all about the summoner. Fame, as a protagonist, did not seek to kill anyone, though she did so unintentionally.
Kern: Staring at a poster of Kyo'nne's band's poster, Fame falls into daydreaming. Her ultimate band on top of a giant mecha-goat! Soaring up to defeat the evil Kyo'nne! Alas, it's just a dream that Fame falls asleep to. Lyrics provided by Fame's owner. This page was drawn by Darkvolt, who has put a ton of effort into it. That poster alone was a page by itself, which will go up later today.
Editor's Note: Fame's sponsor is Miburo.
Kern: Kite designed a series of four textless artworks that'll go online in pairs to give epilogues to the remaining cameos. The first is the cleaning up after the assassination and the funeral for Kail'odian. Second artwork is Verthandi watching her handiwork. And Naika annoying Vierra with music. Likely Kyo'nne's.
Kite: I just wanted to poke my head in and say that when I planned out these pages, I wanted to leave some room for reader's interpretation (especially from the character's creators) by not explicitly stating what they are thinking or what their motivations are outside from what they already do in the chapter. But emotion was one angle I wanted to express! :) (Also, sorry if I got some details wrong!) And to clarify, she is indeed holding a mask! Hope you enjoyed the epilogues :)
Kern: Regular update resume tomorrow! Let's take advantage of this opportunity to discuss what you'd like to see as a voiceless animation to represent this story to non-readers.
Editor's Note: This announcement is only for archive purposes. The discussion invited by Kern occurred long ago.
Kern: Final addition to this chapter. Written during writer's block earlier in the chapter to answer some confusion about the different uses of mana. Golems, summoning, affinity, high arts, nether summoning, and sealing.
Kern: Not much to say here. It's the downloadable file of every page from Chapter 39 to Chapter 41. Concluding Kiel's start to completing her quest. Vaelia's mini-story was taken out until it can be completed. When it does, it will be posted separately.