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Page Descriptions - Chapter 46
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This article contains all the Moonless Age page announcements made by the comic's author for Chapter 46 - Convergence. 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: The chapter can only start with Fame, eating icecream in bliss. A light moment of peace from a group that usually would go out of their way to cause trouble. Snadhya does know how to keep her guests happy.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
Kern: In this page, Sabryne fights back against Grey. While pretty evenly matched, Grey gains the advantage, punching Sabryne unto the floor. From her bag rolls out two different vials, stolen from the cold box of the Jaal'darya researcher. One is the poison. But what of the other?
Kern: That was a fun page to draw. Answering the age old question of what happens when you use a cannon against a ninja. Cannon wins. Of course, had there been two ninja, the cannon would have been reduced to a blunt object; but luckily enough for Sara, the other ninja involved in the scene is being rescued by said cannon. When drawing the sound effect, I meant to make the BLAM a physical force that represent the blast from the canon. Thus BLAM throws Grey into the lake. Not much plot in this page, but it's a fun Sara-loving-cannon time.
Kern: Sabryne passes over to Sara two of her stolen vials and runs off promptly, as some of the guards chasing her are catching up. Leaving Sara to wonder which one's the cure and which one is the poison. As she herself hadn't been watching Snadhya's show the day before, choosing instead to spy upon the scene from around Mel's balcony. One of the guards chasing the Sarghress is someone Sara is well familiar with: Ynda, whom she had thrown over the rooftop two chapters ago. Sara scares the poor girl again and walks off as if none of this is a threat. However, something big is blocking her way.
Kiel would probably like Sara's attitude. Not reckless, but she definitely has a more positive view on everything. More of a game than a danger. Will life break that innocence? :p
Kern: There's no cure to the taint. Once it's in, it will never leave. However, there are some ways to deal with it. You can keep it bottled down for a long time, you can fight it, you can be consumed by it, or - as Snadhya'rune claims - you can merge with it. Kiel has done so naturally. Has this Sharen warrior found the way thanks to Snadhya's teaching, or has she some other method to achieve it? That answer will be given in this chapter. For now, I will just say that this Sharen, Jiaan, was best suited of any cameos to undergo the change. Be it for better or ill.
No official announcement.
No official announcement.
Kern: Femi is brought down to rest in the garden; by a demon and a golem as sole mourners of her passing. For not even her two co-researchers seem to care the slightest for her passing. Even worse, the newcomer seems more annoyed at the flowers being trampled than the death. The newcomer is a cameo botanist, a perfect fit for an emergency replacement. Someone who could, most likely, take over the work and replace what was lost. However - and there is always an however in all those perfect plans gone awry - time is the one thing they do not have, as Snadhya puts it. The war between Sharen and Sarghress is coming to an end any minute, Chel may either collapse or be unified in the process. Now's the time to strike and Snadhya is not one to leave a fault in her plan, especially when it involve something as important as the the production of the cure to the very poison she's spreading...
Can't go wrong, right? :D
Kern: Page finally up. In this, I introduce what i call the K&K ship: Khaless x Kharla. Perhaps it's just a one-night stand meant to sink quickly, but may male-Khaless butt forever be remembered.
Kern: The ship that Khaless was watching through the window comes down over the lake to face a row of captured Sarghress. The very same squad that hunted down the Jaal'darya researcher into her home and eventually found their way to Felde. Killing Femi, the person responsible for the poison and cure, and stealing samples of both. Sabryne is among them, showing that her escape was unsuccessful after all. What of her loot, you'll soon know. Meanwhile, another prisoner is being argued over on whether or not she'll join the Sarghress down at the lake side to be mocked by the most kill-happy Ninph, a cameo by Lunareth.
No official announcement.
Kern: Sara is let go, but can't resist talking back at her captor; which gets her a punch in the face. Too proud to back down, even then she is about to receive another, when Kalki feels something tugging at her limbs. Kharla's power. She wisely lets go of her victim, who waits until she has departed before answering Kiel. But by then a much greater threat stand behind her: Her savior. A savior wanting snuggles.
Kern: Sexy time. Those two words sum up the page and feed the imagination of Kiel. Making her see a terrible future where childish things are not enough to keep her Kharla happy, anymore. Few things shock Kiel, this is definitely one of them. Meanwhile, Sara is getting a face full of boobs. Why isn't she struggling? She probably can't. I imagine her body went all stiff in the hug. That or she's playing dead for safety.
Kern: Up a floor, the squad leader of the Sarghress is under watch. Unlike her companions tied up outside, her wound was treated and she receives a polite greetings from Snadhya, whom asks her questions. Questions that the Sarghress refuses to answer. Keeping straight, lip pinched, and gaze lock forward. Regardless of the pain caused to her injured leg by one of the probing empaths behind her. A subtle torture as reprisal for her silence. She may be realizing this, but considering her situation, she do her best to show neither pain nor hostility.
The character is Erelice, same squad leader from the Jaal'darya Investigation arc. Her injury was a crossbow bolt through the leg; this is how she got captured.
'No official announcement.
Kern: Snadhya promises retribution, yet the Sarghress squad-leader has yet to budge. Though her leg is wounded and bleeding, she keeps as straight and stiff as possible. Outside, goggles are given to the guests who are coming to watch the spectacle. Now they could have received sunglasses, but the sight of a hundred drow with sunglasses looking unto a scene would have required someone jumping a laser-shark. I promise Snadhya's spectacle is not a laser-shark... that's what the Jaal'darya are working on.
Kern: The ship gathers up energy as the Sarghress squad tied up on the lakeside realize what is going to happen. Sabryne awaits her death in dread. Briz'dra stresses and wish she could go back to undo her decisions. Filf'rae accepts this as part of her path. And Vayas cries her heart out. Her tears, however, do not stop the ancient machine as it shoots down upon them.
Two things to note. The ship sucks in mist as it gathers up energy. Is there energy in the mist, or is it required for the machine to work properly? It is up to your speculation for now. And the cannon are very similar to those used in Chel's warfare. The key difference is strength. The ship cannons do not have to be portable at all, and have access to more energy. I see each of them as little Diva cannon (Longest Wait reference). Normal mana cannons would not damage rock as they're more like napal mortar, these will shatter rock however and turn water to steam upon contact.
Kern: The fumes scatter and one of the Sarghress up for execution opens her eyes, realizing she yet lives. Until she raises her right arm to see the dangling flesh, and the missing head from her companion. She did not survive the blast, the first shot simply "missed". A cruel twist that prolongs their leader's torment. Four out of five yet live in Snadhya's spectacle, but it's unlikely the show is over yet. If there were a TV in the underworld, this could be a twisted game show.
Kern: "This is not a negotiation, it is an execution." Snadhya's reply to the Sarghress leader's weak concession. The ship gathering power above Fal, she leaps to cover the youngest of her squad with her body as the cannons fire once more. This time hitting them straight-on. Shredding stone, metal, and flesh. To those watching ,the horror of what happens is not so clear, as shown by Kiel's reaction. Perhaps if they knew the people being executed, but to all those guests, these are only unknown criminals. Whose names may as well be numbers under a clan.
Kern: The aftermath of the blast shows a wrecked lakeside where even the structures meant to keep the prisoners attached are mere rocks barely noticeable from the rest of the beach. Bodies are reduced to charcoals in broken armor. Only Fal's body's outline can still be discerned. Little Ninphrendil goes down to witness the carnage and laugh at the dead. However, she is surprised a moan comes up from the remains. Something that startles the leader of the Sarghress above, who thought them all dead.
Kern: Fal sheltered the smallest of her squad with her own body. She survived the blast, though a bit cooked on the edge. She realize her survival wasn't luck, it came at a sacrifice. First shot missed on purpose. Second shot was meant to clean the slate. A third shot would feel weak. But that doesn't mean Snadhya won't find another purpose for the survivor.
Kern: The spectacle is over. Erelice loses consciousness, mostly due to the strain of the subtle torture and blood loss. But perhaps the touch of an empath or the emotions she just lived through triggered the fainting. In order to find the missing vial, Snadhya gives her trio of empaths the okay to search the guests, just as Sara reveals to Chrys'tel that she managed to keep her loot hidden; within her chestpiece. Meanwhile Vayas, the sole survivor of the execution, remains a prisoner.
Kern: Snadhya notices that Mel has clammed up and seems lost in thought, which prompts her to desire the company of a friend which she has few. Lulianne has disappeared since the day before, for the obvious reason that she's walking around in a different form entertaining Kharla in new ways. Now if she knew Lulianne had gone, that could possibly backfire. Especially in the mood Mel is in when left alone on that elevator, with that pesky wolf-pin on her cloak that likely to remind her where she's from. And possibly, just possibly, a tad remorseful for her kin that just died. But then, from Mel's perspective she's seen a lot of people die/suffer from the hands of the Sarghress. Including her own torment at their hands. Still, that doesn't mean she's made of stone. And while she appears calm at the moment, there may be a storm brewing under it all...
If Zhor had a husband's instinct, he'd jump out the window to escape now. Oh wait, legs ain't working. Twentieth floor might have been an issue, too.
Kern: Some tense times, as Mel walks in the room where Zhor awaits. As he asks her if she's been with Snadhya, she tenses up, already on edge. The discussion quickly escalates (or degenerates) into an argument. Zhor doesn't like what Snadhya does to Mel, and Mel doesn't like to be judged when she's probably already having a voice nagging her in her own mind about it. Truth hurts the worst, especially when it comes from someone close.
To explain a bit further what Zhor refers to, for people who haven't read the daydream side story of Mel/Snadhya: This getup that Mel is known for was given to her by Snadhya. She was wearing her dental floss in Chapter 1, but even those were given to her. The ring around her neck serves to reinforce the connection that she is being submissive to Snadhya's wishes. A ring that Kalki likes to put on her pets, as well.
People who didn't like Mel are going to really dislike her, after this page.
Kern: As Zhor mentions his daughter, we switch to Ariel, looking toward Felde from atop a tower. She saw the two shots fired by the airship, but couldn't tell much from them. Jumping below, she gets Nuru's attention regarding how she managed to slow her fall. To explain her shapechanging ability, she refers back to the affinity test all drow children have to go through, and the odd result she had with the blood test. "Shapechanging" to them isn't a skill, it's several things combined or an affinity gone wrong. Even Chirinide's visions are just a twisted empathy. In the case of Ariel, it has something to do with her blood and how it reacts to other things that are alive. It's been a very long time since this particular plot point was explored, for something that'll be important to this chapter.
Kern: Everyone's gone, the fields are abandoned, and a giant, gaping hole can be found on the side of a building. That is what's left of one of the Sullissin plantation that had gone silent. One very near Felde...
If you were wondering how some of the underworld food grows, well the sea of mist has the rainfall for it. They need plants that grow with very little sunlight, however, as the deep mist never goes away.
Kern: The Sarghress group leaves the plantation to reach Felde nearby. Pristine and calm Felde, with the giant airship just hanging there for all to see. There's no searching for them to do, as everyone in that city knows who lives there. Her task complete, Riz now wants the group to leave Felde. But will they? Or can they.
Kern: Ariel gets ideas of glorious adventures, once again. To jump off Felde's highground, get into the ship, and - like many others, though unsaid - probably hope to steal it. Because who wouldn't want to be a sweet-ass airship pirate? Well Riz, apparently. She's being cautious now that they've found out who owns the ship and knowing her Val's reputation for "volunteering" on dangerous missions. In the end, though, Faen advocates to actually go through the front door, and perhaps ask politely. Thanks to the invitation they received in Chapter 35. Yes, 11 chapters ago. Things take a while! It'll be all the worse when we get to concluding great demon-summoning plotline with a massive 43-chapter gap.
Kern: The great turtle emerges, surprising the group. For yes, Kharla is keeping that summon alive for days without thinking. She probably barely feels the drain, except perhaps an increase in appetite? Faen's squeamish scream catches Kyo'nne's attention nearby, who is quite surprised - and quite uneasy - to see them around. She knows what happens to Sarghress who sneak about better than anyone. Perhaps Faen's gentle proposition of going through the front door will spare them all a horrible fate?
The page background was painted by Starlitdragon.
Kern: Meanwhile, within the tower, Kyo'nne had disappeared on her companions. So does An'jin. As they watch another tainting ceremony coming to a close, the little demona of Kiel find their way into the dungeon, where An'jin can be seen, locked up. The spies' purge had begun in the background with few noticing.
Kern: With Starlitdragon coloring the background of this page, she was able to provide the appropriate dialogue for her character, Frisk. Does it fit Shinae's description? At least the character thinks it does, for Shinae asks to go through the ceremony to master her taint quickly. She's been desperate since the stillbirth, and even today she has difficulty walking. Snadhya offers her hand, which Shinae accepts. To fly away to the ride the tainted rainbow. *cue Disney music*
Kern: Snadhya leads Shinae into the ceremony room, where a faceless nurse means to help Shinae out of her clothes; something she is strongly against. Both because she didn't expect to have to, but also to hide her obvious Sharen armor. Snadhya quickly removes all remaining semblance of secrecy the group may have thought they had. She is one of the co-inventors of tainting, if there is one person in the underworld that is expert enough to tell a seed apart from another, it is her. Chrys and Shinae's origin was plain for her to see. Regardless, she seems willing to help Shinae who, taken aback by the revelation, lets her cloak be removed.
I had to ink and flat the background of this page, so it'll look different from usual. Also, there is a symbolic - ...symbol? - in this page. That emblem on the center of the floor. It represents two things that are the same; the swirl in the tainted eye. And the symbol of the Nidraa'chal. Each and every person who comes to submit themselves to the ceremony thus submits themselves to the Nidraa'chal. Symbolically, at least.
Kern: Snadhya is so gloriously confident about her position that she'd hug her enemies until they turn into allies in her bosom, or die suffocated. Shinae is learning this at the moment. Confident, all knowing, and oh-so friendly. I mean look at that smile. Ignore the fact that the mirror shows a twisted demon, of course. Though the people around her do feel the threat - something wrong - they just can't see it. By the time they go through the ritual, they're in the club anyway. Speaking of club, Shinae sitting right on a Nidraa'chal symbol, kissing the big boss of the big bad clan that started the whole mess while her Sharen attire ia being removed. You can't have a more symbolic change of Shinae's allegiance than that.
That is, if she go through with it. She could still bite Snadhya's fingers off...
Kern: Snadhya has shown she could calm someone whose taint is going out of control. The reverse is also true. She proves it by helping bringing up Shinae's inner demon. And no, her inner demon isn't a grumpy face. That's just how she's born. There's a reason why these ceremonies are traumatic, and Shinae is just starting to find out.
Kern: Shinae faces her inner self, defeats it, and gains her first persona. Broken-English J-Pop begins as she set forth to build up her relationship with her classmates-- Wait, wrong world setting.
The mirror behind Shinae reveals what she is going through as the demon tears itself away, up through her body. A violent change that causes her great pain and threatens her life. She screams for it to stop, but it is too late. Snadhya guides her to accept the demon within, her other self.
She had little choice, in the end. She could've waited and eventually the demon would have taken over. Her new self, likely mad and ravenous, would be moving her body. She could face herself, fight it hopelessly, and lose herself that way. No doubt some going through that ceremony must have had that fate. This is why having lost everything/being ready to submit entirely to Snadhya's will is so important to go through this process. And, of course, the last: To accept the demon within and merge. A process that Kiel went through herself, except it happened without this whole life-threatening rushed process. Kiel probably woke up one day and it was done, never noticing it.
Kern: Say hello to Happy Shinae™. It's the new shiny Shinae edition; smiles creepily whenever you ask her a question. Snadhya has really worked hard to improve her formulae that converts grumpy characters. Perhaps next we'll get Happy-edition Quain'tana. But beware, don't use this on already-happy characters, it can have catastrophic results. After all, just look at how crazy Kiel is. All that said, Chrys isn't liking her new sister so much. Too much creepy-Shi for her taste.
Kite was joking that Shinae is feeling her demon's self boobs in the first panel. It's euphoric.
Kern: Shinae walks out like a zombie until she hits the edge of the window, where Chrys feared she'd jump or simply stumble over. However, it's not a desire for death, it's only that she's entranced over the pretty sight. Everything feels new to her unburdened mind. The change is so drastic that it ends up creeping out her sister. Smiling Shinae being very unnatural. Shinae is done serving the Sharen, but she'll stay at Chrys' side for now; or at least she says she will. Meanwhile, Nau'kheol, who walked down the hall, ends up spotting Kyo'nne in the next room over.
Kern: Nau'kheol means to speak to Kyo as Ariel enters his sight. Last time these two met was in Chapter 2-3, in a series of bullying cases where Nau stabbed her out of simple disgust for Sarghress. Now many years have gone by; She grew very tall and he, well... remained small enough for Ariel and Faen to believe he might be a younger brother. Now Kyo knows who he is, but was hoping that by shooing him away the Sarghress group following her wouldn't recognize him. For that'd cause trouble. Will Nau keep his mouth shut to avoid said trouble? Said very tall, and potentially vengeful, troubles?
Kern: Nau'kheol couldn't keep his anger in check and tells of his identity. Things quickly devolve into memories of mass stabbings that somehow just lost their impact with time. The twins making fun of the situation did not help. And the final nail into the coffin of this fateful meeting is Nau'kheol mentioning butt, as he looks upon Ariel's butt. That cut the convertion short; like a certain Sharen man.
That page was fun to plan. It's sometime necessary to have something to lighten up the mood in between serious scenes. Also, if this trend continues, Ariel might develop a butt complex....
Kern: "I love your butt", Faen whispers. Not helping the situation one bit by the loving comment. Ariel's butt isn't anything spectacular, but it's now a running gag in that squad. After all, what's the point of having a Val in your squad if you can't make fun of her every once and a while? Meanwhile, Nau'kheol is protesting his innocence, something that no one is paying much mind; Worse, Chirinide is seemingly quite against the idea. Poor Nau... can't get a break. The young man must face a whole lot of conflicting emotion. Pride for his clan, love of tall warrior women, and his own tiny complex.
Kyo'nne's lines are meant to not have speech bubbles. It's subtitles for her gestures. Bad idea? Well, you'll be the judge.
Kern: The group continues on their way to check the ship anchored against the tower. They ask questions of Kyo, who worked as an informant for the Sarghress before; But, for some reasons she keeps to herself, she is currently lying. Or omitting a whole lot of things she knows. First she goes missing, second she stumbles upon a Sarghress group outside the tower, and now she omits things. As she invites the Sarghress to follow her to some rooms, Syrak stays behind to watch some rather big and unusual birds in the distance.
Kern: This page is one continuous event taking place on multiple levels. On top, Kyo'nne is leading the Sarghress away as they address their experience in the colony. Again, Kyo evades answering.
Below, Sara is caught by the empath, who searches her. However, they find nothing.
Below that, some of the guests are departing with a servant of the house asking for their support in what is to come. It seems Snadhya has gathered support in them.
Below, Larvova is getting mad at Kiel's latest crazy plan.
Below that, Kiel and Fame are entering facility room where a single guard stands, protecting some abandoned passageway. Among pipes and boxes. Had Kiel not been guided by her little demon princes, she would never have gone there. As to why they're guiding her there, you can go back to the tainting ceremony's beginning to see where the little demons went sneaking about a hour ago.
Kern: Kiel does "subtle". Unfortunately, she does not know what subtle means. First, she tries to go Solid Snake in getting the guard's attention, to no avail. Then sets one of her demons on fire, which barely gets a glance from the guard. Then, fake sex happening in the next room over, hoping he'd come check. Again, no luck. Now she wishes to try her "big plan", which can't be any better. If Fame is lucky it'll only get half of Felde after them.
Kern: Now Kuso is Kiel's great and wise plan. She must have read somewhere that acting sexy before a guard is a good way to distract him. Now how that got twisted up into using shit-for-brains mercenary man and throwing him out naked except for his helmet... that we'll never know. Kuso does his best, however; not that his best is ever any good. The guard says nothing, but hurries to cock his crossbow, meaning to shoot. Before that happens, Kiel rushes from from behind, thrusting Kuso forward like a meat shield. Kicking the both of them down the staircase he was protecting. It's a terrible terrible page that I blame a certain group of people for. XD
Kern: A special layout for today's page, with Kiel and Fame chasing down into the depth of tower's (relatively) secret dungeon. One guard down, one golem easily drained of its energy, and (thanks to their guides) they easily find the place where Anjin is kept... as well as the two surviving Sarghress. Erelice doesn't look happy, and neither does An'jin. For some reason, the prospect of Kiel's help is apparently exciting no one.
Kern: Kiel insists on getting An'jin out, considering him part of her crew. But An'jin believes getting out is pointless; that Snadhya would know regardless and demand his return. Hinting that she truly has eyes in the walls. Kiel believes him, hinting herself that perhaps Snadhya has "friends" very alike to her own; Demons that watch the tower.
Ignore Bast on An'jin's shoulder; she's just there to mess around with the bald head.
Kern: "The best of distractions" promises the Sarghress squad leader. Whatever she has in mind, it's likely to cause a ruckus. Meanwhile Ariel and Faen are led to a suite in the upper floors. Something so big and plush, neither of the girls are used to it. Especially Ariel, who had to get in the dirty gritty of district warfare. The room at the colony was great, this feel otherworldly to her, especially with the view of a city at peace outside. They've been fighting for so long that peace is now the abnormal. As Ariel pokes around the room, Faen finds the complementary sex toy by the bedside. Forget chocolate on your pillow in hotel Snadhya, sex toy it is... I believe it makes sense for this to be a common device in the upper society, it's just the first time characters that are not used to seeing dildos just laying about for guests. Faen knows what it is, of course... Now, did someone choose the color depending on the guest? Does it represent potential size? So many wrong questions, with so many wrong answers. Some certain members of the studio were filling our imagination with the most wrong of answers earlier today!
Kern: On today's update: The wonders of doorbell and bath. The first is a frightening sight, the second is a treasure worth seeking. If smell could be visible in these comic pages, there'd be a cloud around the two girls.
Kern: It's a new thing, graphic WITH text. I tell you it'll become the norm someday.
Ariel's reticence to take a bath in what she perceives as enemy territory quickly breaks down when Faen takes a dive in. Large pre-filled bath and, best of all, heated with foci. After the long walks they went through, this must feel like heaven to them. Now I realize this page is all fluff, but there's a reason. Bear with me, it's not going to be all fluff this week. Though Faen is about to turn princess mode.
Kern: Later, Kyo comes once more to knock at the door, checking on the refreshed duo. With Faen all dressed up like a princess. Though Kyo is bringing an offer to get them onto the airship through some other agent's help. On their way out, they check on everyone else. Shala and [[Sar'nel]'s room is "busy". Kau is kicked out again to another room, clueless as to why. Nuru reports that Riz has gone wandering, something that Kyo believes is dangerous. And last the Kyorls' room: Chiri is getting an ill feeling, hinting that Kyo herself is very afraid of something. But she waves it off; worse, she advises them to stay locked up in their room. For the slightest provocation could lead to a repeat of the execution, or worse.
Kern: Something is coming for Riz, who appears to have gone wandering to a library. Chiri is having a vision. Those tend to be signal trouble. And Ariel/Faen are being led by Kyo'nne to… A dining room. A family dinner, Snadhya says; welcoming them, expecting them.
Kern: Ariel realizes Kyo betrayed them. Faen realizes who is before them, as she was a student under Snadhya once upon a time (Chapter 2). Kalki gets the wrong half-sister by thinking it's Faen. Snadhya points out the correct sister by her hair color, referring to the purple as one of the Sharen's colors, so alike Kalki and her own. Which makes Ariel react very, well... her age. Abruptly changing it to red, the color of her clan. Snad finds the petty reaction cute, Kyo demands a cure for something and is hushed away. Now what the cure is ought be rather obvious by now, but the details of what that entails, why Kyo did this, and what other things she might have done will come later. Finally, Ariel looks to Mel for a confirmation as to the claim that Kalki is indeed her half-sister, but Mel refuses to answer that. Perhaps because she is unsure herself.
Kern: Be it that Faen actually sensea some danger, or she just know this doesn't bode well... regardless of the reason, she asks to leave, which Ariel is happy to oblige. For she presents a strong facade when facing the former headmistress, but when her back her turned you can see she isn't as confident. Before they leave, Snad throws a lure: By simply asking how things are back home, tingling Ariel's pride just enough to get her to reply... and thus stay a bit longer. As long as Snadhya keeps her engaged verbally, she gets to prevent them from walking away. Long enough to offer her hand and invite them. So sweet and unthreatening. If Kyo'nne hadn't betrayed them a moment before, this could almost be believable. Almost.
So there you go: In RPG terms, Snadhya is a politician class character level 20. She uses words to confuse and minions to kill. :P
Ah yes... "fine women"... double meaning there.
Kern: "Give peace a chance," Snadhya says, amusing Kalki. It only gets worse as Kalki's bullshit detector goes through the roof. She is barely able to contain herself at the end.
Now Faen doesn't know Snadhya as well, and cakes are pretty tasty. She probably had nothing to eat all day. That or she's just not sensing that danger anymore. Maybe their host is good at controlling herself on the inside as well, having worked with empaths for so long. But regardless of the reason, Faen giving in breaks Ariel's usual stubborn facade. They'll stay, talk, and feast on cake. GLaDOS would be so proud of Snadhya for that one. If only Kiel had been there to point with accusation at every slice of cakes.
Editor's Note: Kern posted a higher resolution and zoomed in version of Kalki's expression, which can be viewed here.
Kern: This family dinner cannot go more wrong, can it? Note to readers who may not have caught what's going on in the first four panels: Quain'tana has an unique ability to allow her to be unfazed by mana arts; or magic, if you prefer. Almost nothing works. Normally, those rare abilities cannot pass down from generation to generation, but Mel somehow got some of it. It was Snadhya's hope that she could get this ability passed down to Kalki, but it did not happen. This practice is common among Val ladies in Chel: To choose their partner based upon some attributes they possess. Now that Snad has access to Ariel, she tests her by touching her shoulder. Perhaps she made the shoulder warm, perhaps cold, or just made the skin prickle. Regardless of what she did to the shoulder, Ariel felt the pain. Which means she doesn't have it.
Kern: Everyone loses patience with Kalki. Cake with sprinkles distracts Faen. Mel tries to be a good mother, but rages about her own mom. Quain's exaggerated legends are brought up. Future ambitions are discussed. And finally, the desire to punch Kalki in the face intensifies.
Kern: This page was hell to make. *poke it*
Beware of the incoming text-wall, as Snadhya runs her mouth non-stop. Discussing what's to come after the Sarghress victory is complete. If anyone had doubt doubts as to why she would want them to win, now they know. To create a vacuum in power to fill. With plans to use both Sarghress, as they all expect Quain'tana to not step up and name herself empress. While Mel seems to be okay to play the role, for the sake of getting her babies back, Ariel doesn't seem interested; both in the plan, and the food before her.
Note that Kalki is rolling her eyes at the end.
No official announcement.
Kern: Mel would like them to stay, Faen would like to stay, and of them all (strangely enough) Snad is the calm one to encourage their decision. Sadly, both Sarghress women carry a lot of baggage inside that comes up as they are about to part. Mel's years of frustration that her elder daughter was kept away and, from her point of view, turned against her. Ariel's own bitterness comes up too, frustrated by the constant attempts by Mel to turn her against those she respect. It's bitter , it's pointless... well, it's family. We've all had those tense moments in our families; old pet peeves coming up. These characters are no different. However, where we tend to walk away or mend, they have the unfortunate circumstances of being in a stab-or-be-stabbed world. Ariel falls in the second category just about now, as this dinner is now turning bloody.
Kern: Ariel doesn't realize nor register the pain at first, and Faen is too stunned to say anything. But this certainly brought Mel's temper from anger, to a cold deep dread, straight into her motherly instincts. Snadhya takes it calmly, as she probably saw much worse from her daughter. Not that she approves. And Zhor, while angry, has probably the most correct reaction of all: Basically calling Kalki out for what she is. At the exclamations, Lulianne arrives from the other dinner table to check on things, only to have Kalki claim she just wanted to be helpful. This only pisses off Snadhya even more, who seem to be starting to glow. Likely, she is much angrier than her face shows.
Kern: The meeting has gone from bad to worse, as Kalki snatches the blade from Lulianne's side to cut Ariel's arm off. The hand is free, but the arm is also free, unfortunately. Mel watches this, believing Snadhya will somehow fix everything. Zhor urges her to move, but she doesn't, while he is unable to stand to protect anyone. Faen tried to help with the pain, but did not expect this turn of events. Nor did Lulianne.
Note, this scene currently unfolding was the very first thing ever written for this chapter. The note dates from many years ago. Before the flowers, before the ship, before the time jump. Ariel would be there before Snadhya and Kalki, and things would go badly. Back when I was active on the forum, there was a time when some people had a chip on their shoulder about Ariel, wanting to see her fail. All this time, I knew this event would come, but I couldn't tell spoilers to make the attacks stop. "Hey, it doesn't matter if it is a main point of view. Any character can go down if it serves the story." is as close as it could get. And this scene, believe it or not, serves the story.
Kern: Father's power fuels Zhor's weak body to lunge and tackle Kalki down. Ariel loses counciousness into Faen's arms, bleeding into the crying girl's arm. Lulianne has been thrown into the seperation between the dining rooms. Now what Faen is trying to say is that Ariel closed her wounds before, as she can reshape her body. But if she's unconscious, that's never going to happen. She'll just bleed out and die, fast.
Kern: Zhor is pulled off Kalki, who grabs the severed arm and proceeds to beat him up with it. Now, from her perspective, she views it as Ariel beating her father but... well ... Kalki isn't right in the head. Which is why someone finally had enough of her antics: Hands come forth from the ground, grab her, and throw her against the wall. Some readers were hoping Kalki would be thrown against a wall, eventually. It doesn't have a satisfying crunch, but then, it'll need more than a little toss to take her down.
Kern: Kalki is hard to kill. It's easy to forget she's the one who'd been taunting the Sharen army in the first chapter and been bouncing around out of reach from Sil'lice's wrath later on. And so Snadhya's "tough love" fazes her less than her words do. She may be crazy, but she seeks approval from her mother. Meanwhile, Ariel regained conciousness. However, she is bleeding heavily and doesn't seem to understand quite well what's happening.
Kern: Faen begs for help as Ariel seems to lapse in and out of conciousness. Zhor advises, while Snadhya has a Sarghress prisoner fetched, which doesn't bode well. Ariel finally manages to gather enough strength to attempt to close the wound, however she slips and loses control. Going from shape to shape that she had once took. Faen, the Black Sun soldier, Chrys, and finally ends in a smaller, more fragile state.
Kern: Some were wondering when Faen would get pissed. The time is now, as Snadhya reaches to help.
Kern: Faen's attack does nothing; worse, it leaves Snadhya unfazed and still smiling. It's hard not to make her smile. By now, the guests from the dining hall behind are coming to watch the commotion, with likely a very guilty Kyo among them. Ariel is brought back to conciousness, only to be shocked at the wiggling stump where her left arm used to be. While Riz, her fellow raider, is brought into the room, under arrest for "sneaking about".
Kern: Snadhya needs an arm donor, and Riz as the loyal Sarghress is it. Though both Mel and Zhor feel the reasoning behind using a living person is unwarranted, Snadhya claims there are good reasons for it. Perhaps even some reasons she is not saying. Will Ariel listen to the advice and take her companion's arm? There's no love in between the two, but they're both raiders and of the same clan.
Yes, Mel suddenly snaps at the realization Kalki walked out with Ariel's arm. Took a minute to register the consequences. One minute was plenty for Kalki to storm out far enough to likely be using it as a back-scratcher.
Kern: Ariel doesn't believe it possible; that she could take someone else's flesh and blood into her own, leaving her companion crippled. She is an idealist; some would say naive. Something that Riz herself isn't. You can see it on her face as their shoulders are put together, that she is at peace. She does not struggle, weep, cry, or try to convince people otherwise. She'll let them take her arm. But Ariel has a conscience that nags at her, for only Riz wanted to go back home. Regardless if the little wolf believes she can take the arm, regardless if she wants it or not, her body seems to be acting up on its own in many of the scenes. Or perhaps she subconsciously wants to be whole again. It's hard to say, she probably couldn't answer it herself.
Kern: Extra-long page to wrap up this lengthy and bloody family dinner. Imagine what it'll be like at breakfast! For it's clear Snadhya won't let them get away until "amends" are made. Ariel rejects the offer, breaking free from Riz in a bloody way before making her stand. Sure, it's pompous; but that's where she finds her strength to make that hard decision: Going back to the ideals of her clan, which as a Val she feels she must represent. It can be silly, some will say it's childish, but people hold onto some values through hard times, which keeps them steady. In her case, these events might as well be torture both of body and mind, perhaps orchestrated by a certain host.
So Snadhya finds it disappointing, although her smile doesn't falter. Zhor is proud. And Kyo'nne, watching from the back, skulks away. After all, she is the one who betrayed them all.
Meanwhile Kalki is marching out with her two buddies, set to start a massacre. All the Sarghress are in their rooms. Out of armor and unprepared for what's coming knocking. Kalki does like surprising people...
Kern: Kalki goes on to where the Sarghress were kept waiting. Except smoke is coming from beneath one of the doors. Meanwhile a hoot can be heard from outside the window.
Kern: Chirinide had seen the the bloody dinner going on, though she seems to be lacking part of what happened, beleiving that Ariel died surrounded in her blood. But she did help the squad be prepared for what was coming. Setting fire to the room, getting everyone ready to escape.
Kern: The hunt begins, as Kalki said. While the Sarghress seek to escape through an elevator, she is making her way down the same path they took, servants pointing out the direction. Meanwhile, the elevator goes down so slowly that they decide to resort to a bit of an extreme maneuver. These elevators are basically floating rocks that were engineered so one person could pull or push with their energy to go up or down. If many push at the same time, you can end up with random result, like an elevator with someone pushing all the buttons. Or it'll end up going down very fast. The latter happens; just in time, as Kalki arrives at the elevator's edge.
Some readers were speculating that the whole bloody dinner was a vision Chirinide had, that none of it truly happened. Turns out Chirinide's perspective this whole time was from Kalki's own eyes. She thus saw herself stab and then cut appart the very person she meant to protect. And now, she sees herself hunting... well, herself. It's bound to be disorienting. That's why some people with her ability end up going insane while many others, such as the inquisitors, end up covering their eyes.
Again, more notes on this because it keep coming up. Chirinide's power is not "holy power". It's empathy, like Faen, but a different branch. It make her feel, see, smell, and hear as if she's someone else. She sees the intentions of that person, as well. Planning, daydreaming, or just plain dreams. Someone's intentions can predict the future, or it can be misleading. We know Ariel didn't die, but for all Kalki cared, she left someone to die when leaving the dinner room.
Kern: Kalki in a nutshell: Insane. Immature. Fearless. As she jumps head-first-and-grinning down onto the platform, the air pressure from her deceleration alone is enough to throw all the standing Sarghress off their feet and, perhaps, over the platform to fall to their deaths.
Kern: Nuru falls off the platform, catching herself in between it and the wall, only to see the platform starting to rise. From Kalki's control or something else, it seems the Sarghress' hope to retreat is now cut off for them. While Kalki jumps around smacking some Sarghress and Kyorls for fun, Syrak get crushed under the landing of Sasi, who like Kalki is also an air specialist.
Her dialogue was written by Thalar, her owner and editor of the script. Refering to Nuru's dialogue as part of the many arms puns that were done during the bloody dinner. Perhaps Sasi was in hearing range of the guests who made such puns? Regardless, she will only lend a foot. Into Nuru's face.
Kern: As they fight, the elevator comes up to a large window opening to the outside, where Sasi (having jumped up) can see what seem like large, incoming owls. Owls that shatter the glass with their screams to enter the tower. The Mimians allying under Mikilu are finally striking. Whether they stand a chance or not, they do know how to make an entrance.
To sum up the current situation: Hundreds of foreign guests, one mad Nid leader with her crew of skilled - yet morally challenged - minions, running Sarghress squads, escaping prisoners, Jaal'daryas trying to find a cure for the disease they themselves made, an ancient war machine that can level entire towns, and now an army of flying Mimians. All in the same building. Can't go badly, can it?
Kern: The owls burst through and fly up the elevator shaft, ignoring the fight. Up above, Ynda is trying to get the platform back up as two of the owls fly past her, thus creating the very first panty-shot in 13 years of story. (With 90% of the female cast in armor, that's a hard thing to do). The last owl stops on her way up, revealing herself to be Chakri from Chapter 43. For this, I hope we can expect a Leopardwerecat to show up and say "hoot", a cheer.
Kern: Down some corridor, the scream of Ydna comes to the ears of the group. Followed by the screams of the owls. This is enough to unnerve Faen and make Lulianne blame Kalki for the whole mess. Seeing what happened earlier, it's a safe bet to make. Meanwhile, guardian golems activate on their floor; and likely on most floors of the towers. Summons must also be coming to life, guards rushing, things moving. Though it's unlikely that most people are aware of what's going on, yet. As proven by guards just standing around while servants are extinguishing the fire in Chiri's room, with a lone arm laying on the floor before its entrance.
Kern: Kalki has been there, for Ariel's arm is still laying on the floor, right before the fire. Leading Zhor to blame the fire on Kalki; though after what happened, it's an understandable mistake. Ariel goes to her knees before the piece of dead flesh that was stepped on, burned, and soaked. Any life that might have been there is gone. Now it's just something cold and horrible, that a mere touch with the tips of fingers makes her revolted. She bottles up the sob and, with Faen's support, reaches for the arm, planting it right on her stump. But is there any hope for the arm to just reconnect itself?
Kern: There's no cure spell, magic potion, nor Pheonix Down in this world. The arm remains an inert piece of meat for the young Val'Sarghress. What was hope was left is now gone. As she broods, Lulianne come to her side to says something out of character; so out of place that Ariel did not understand or thinks she did not understand. Lulianne herself doesn't seem to remember saying it, as she repeats something different. Faen, however, heard it clearly and doesn't seem at ease. Perhaps she even felt something odd for a moment. Some friendly advice from the demon lurking within?
The biggest irony would have been if Ariel had sacrificed Riz to regain her limb, and it turned out their blood type is incompatible. ;P
Kern: Zhor means to confront Lulianne as well, feeling that the moment might be right with the two girls being suspicious. However, the demon is quick to draw blade and give chase after the intruder, escaping further questioning as to what happened. Though Faen, in panel 1, is clearly freaked out about something she alone saw.
Ariel also sees an opportunity in their guardian going away, seeking to escape from the tower and meet with their lost companions. Even if it means she'll never receive the treatment. Deep down, she doesn't trust Snadhya, obviously. And fears division; to be separated permanently from the people she can trust.
Kern: "Learn to let go," Zhor tells Mel. It's the very core of her problem, for she is free. She could go anywhere and do anything at this point, but she still clutches onto her hatred for Quain, which dictates many of the things she does. Thanks to Zhor, however, Ariel and Faen get away. Likely on the trail of chaos Kalki and the owls will leave their wakes.
Kern: The tower shakes again as, outside, the ship fires upon flying invaders. Their speed, numbers, and unexpected arrival takes the few crew members aboard the ship by surprise; so much so that the ship is still anchored to the tower when they begin firing. Four of the crewmembers stand around one of the open hatches leading down into the ship.
Kern: The owls attack the airship, blowing through the remaining defenders, entering the interior, spreading around, dodging golems, and chasing down Sal'bara. Who locks the door to the engine room just in time.
The big panel is an experiment. Earlier in this chapter, there were two pages where several levels of the tower were shown at the same time, with characters moving in between. To give a sense of location, where people go and cover a lot of places without having to go into details for all of them. This one is a spin on the concept; to show the progression of the battle. What you see in the large panel is what happens in the smaller panels around, except for the door closing.
Kern: The door to the engine room is quickly melting, giving the defenders no time to prepare. Sal'bara "recycles" her floating machine into a bomb, throws it through the hole the enemies made in the door, and orders all cannons to fire. They're still anchored to the tower, half the ship is facing said tower, and they can't aim that close up against small flying enemies. Someone is bound to get very upset at the damage later on, if she survives.
I think the owl's strategy may be more clear by now, but just in case: They're avoiding smaller targets to go straight to a quick takedown. First the airship, and then a certain other thing which will be shown next week.
Kern: Kiel finds her sister torturing one of the invading owls, likely for the sin of having scared that servant now huddling under the table, the spilled food from that event marking the carpet. Kharla's power can be quite painful; but then, wasting food is a sin. Together, they run down to the ground floor of the tower, collecting some members of their group on the way.
Kharla is a very powerful individual, but unless the story requires an antagonist of overwhelming strength, say Snadhya, it's usualy a very bad idea to give a character an ability that is too powerful. Even for a clan leader, for it skews everything else. Though one thing that can bring balance is to give those individual flaws that are just as great. So here we have Kharla, who could lead an entire clan, has the power to kill hundreds, and yet is so mentaly unstable that Kiel can trick her by claiming that, yes, a yellow ducky would eat all the food.
With Fame, we've got a happy moment with her refering to the whole assasination and chase from earlier in the story. A Vloz has to get used to running away from battle. And Lind'orm in the last panel is holding something suspicious wrapped up in his cloak.
Kern: Kharla seems to have a thing for a bald men. Maybe it reminds her of smooth yellow ducky's head, or maybe it means nothing. Regardless, the Vloz hide from sight as an army floods into the tower to deal with the disruption. An army big enough to block the exit, island, and bridge combined. Leaving Chrys aboard the turtle to wonder if they'll make it back.
Kern: Remember everyone: Everything is under control. Don't mind the dark corridors infested with demons; they're part of the host's welcoming committee.
Kern: Ariel is having a bad time there. Maybe she's imagining her fear, maybe she got a glimpse of the nether feeding on Faen, maybe it's both.
Kern: Because things can always get worse. The group seem to have gotten seperated after the elevator incident. Half the sarghress stuck to fight one of the guardians of the tower, while a [[[Yuh'le|certain follower]] of Snadhya is watching them struggle. A certain follower that likes to make gore by turning small animals inside-out just by looking at them...
Kern: I said the chapter would be bloodiest yet, and it's not over. Chiri seems to be leaking her red juice from everywhere and, in a mere few seconds, her eyes roll over. There's nothing visible that shows what's going on with her, but Shan can easily guess it had to do with the silent girl before him. He strikes, but all the veins on his forarms explode outward. Losing control over his fingers and his faculties, he regains just enough focus to slam himself into the girl that would see them dead with just a gaze.
Also, the fact that all the cameos, main characters, and antagonists are Ssu right now was unintentional, but fitting.
Kern: The lowest point for Shan, who fought to throw their would-be killer out the window, but in the end her power was too much. He falls to the ground near Chiri, who is already motionless when Faen arrives on the scene. Empath against empath, the pain that he suffering through vanishes.
Empathy and its many quirky effects are tough to visualize, but we try to. Faen's wavy line of blue against Yuh'le's jaggy, almost thunder-like, red lines of pain. While Kharla's power is shown like the strings of a puppeteer. If we're doing a visual representation of all the powers, Chiri's would definitively be the hardest to portray.
Kern: Page 100 triggered Kiel into breaking the fourth wall.
Chirinide yet lives, making Shan so glad he could cry, were he not already bleeding from his eyesball. While outside a war wages on between Mimians and the locals, Shan gives them the status on the group. Half are there, the other half ended up on another floor during the elevator attack, and the last one, Riz, was taken away. Where she is will soon be shown.
Kern: A level below, the Nid trio is giving chase to the rest of the group. Even running, the Sarghress are easily caught, as if the whole chase had been a game thus far. Something confirmed once Ydna blurted out that Kalki had been herding them into the tainting ceremony room.
Kern: Shala and Kau find their way into the tainting ritual room, chased quite casually by a mocking Kalki; who repeats her mother's words from back when Shinae got her own tainting "fixed". Words that apparently are repeated enough for Snadhya's daughter to know them by heart and make fun of it. There's only two exits to this place, and both seem to be taken by these strange servants.
It's our first use of a gif animation in the story. Pretty simple. Might go something more fancy in the future.
Kern: "Welcome to tainting," she says, bringing forth a swarm of nether from a giant stone in the ceiling. As the nether comes down to her hand, the demons within reflect in the mirror.
Kern: Sealing has become a standard skill for any underworld army in the last 50 years. However, one sealer alone isn't enough to put away a horde. Shala's stone is so quickly overwhelmed, Sar'nel has barely time to strike three times before it shatters explosively.
Kern: The aftermath of the explosion has not been kind to the Sarghress. Shala took the brunt of it, and so did the back of Sar'nel's armor, who stood before her. The rest of the blow was likely contained by the high amount of nether in the room that quickly fed upon the energy. Alone, Sar'nel stands no chance. That is, until Kau arrives from behind, having defeated his opponent. Two standing on each side, or is it three on the Sarghress side?
Kern: Things don't go well for Kau, who gets struck down in one blow from the very same trick Snadhya used to defeat the millenia old empress of Chel. One of the weakest tricks of warfare, if appropriately combined with a demon, would just go through everything. Shield, armor, flesh... right into person. These drow, or any other fae race that lives off the energy they produce, would quickly die if severed from it. And that demon is now right within Kau, chomping and severing everything it can to make itself a nest. Without help, Kau is in danger of death or tainting. In his state, any other demon could just enter without opposition. Kalki knows it, and plays with that fear.
As to what's happening at the back, well... the friendly nurses are prepping the second child of Sil'lice for a tainting of her own. If they could, they'd likely bring her milk and cookies to calm her down. Shala isn't likely to just bend the knee, though.
Another note, this one on production: I realize the fight feels both short and long at the same time. For there's too many characters involved, and not all of them can have multiple pages devoted to them. Thus Chiri and Kau got taken down quickly. I'd love to give every character time to shine, but this chapter can't last forever. Instead, the current battle is almost a Kalki point of view, for every problems that stem from this side of the conflict centers upon her. From her, and it'll end with her. One way or another.
Kern: Kau meant to go for her chest, but he get the foot instead. Seriously, though, the Sarghress don't seem to be able to get the upper hand against Kalki. Worst of all, Shala is about to be force-fed cookie and drink by the demon nurses. Now if that isn't a terrible fate. And Ariel comes just in time, dragging Ydna, whom she seems to have beaten a few time with her fist before dragging her by her hair. A ritual known as the Sarghress greeting. Look it up; Quain started the whole thing. Now what Ariel says is, well, idealistic. She presumes Kalki to be sane enough to care for other beings that call her friend. There's bound to be issues coming up.
Kern: The trade isn't working. Worse, Kalki calls Ariel's bluff, asking her to kill her hostage. The young Sarghress' move is further shattered as Kalki reveals that she's doing what Snadhya wants. Or at least she think she does. Whether or not this is a lie, a delusion, or actual fact is up for speculation.
In case some don't catch the last reference: Kalki is refering to the whole flower's poisons, now on its way to being spread around.
Kern: Kalki cuts Shala's neck and challenges Ariel to do the same: Kill Ydna in turn. The exchange of hostages turned into an exchange of murders.
I've always wondered why the antagonists and protagonists always follow the same trope. "Bad guys" or "good guys" want to trade for their companions lives. The good guys make the first steps, then get betrayed. Followed by several more episodes of action to try to resolve the problem (Legend of Korra, I'm looking at you right now). So when it came to write Kalki, who mocks the rules and, well, pretty much everything... here came the chance of giving this typical scene the worst turn. Kalki kills Shala, then what does Ariel have to do? Bash Ydna's head to pulp? That'd be entertaining to Kalki. She wants that to happen; to see her little sister forced to do something twisted like she'd do herself. Though Ariel doesn't seem to be about to do it, nor even know what to do at this point. Which again, plays in Kalki's favor in this game of hers.
Kern: Kalki, meet fist. Fist, Kalki's face. It's love on fist contact.
Alright, Ariel used Ydna as a meat shield against Kalki's trick. Sure it goes through everything... except living people. And Ydna is still alive at this point. Not much so by the bottom of the page, from Kalki's rough perception of friendship. Ariel attempted to punch Kalki without luck, but her phantom arm, metamorphicaly speaking, catches Kalki. Allowing her to land a punch into her face. Note this is the first time Ariel notices that she can do this. It's always unconscious.
For old readers, the site logo we had before was designed with that in mind. Hair coiling at will. And previous chapters featured a little bit of it in random scenes. Just never this strongly.
Kern: Snadhya wants Ariel for her collection, Kalki claims. There was actually an additional dialogue that was deleted because it felt too much for the scene, where Kalki compares the power to the one of Khaless. Meanwhile, Kau sees the demon nestling within himself. Shala struggles to say a single word through the blood filling her throath. Sasi keeps toying with Sar'nel in the backroom, all the way up to a place filled with curious eyeballs. And, finally, Kalki makes an offer of peace; one that Ariel throws back at her face. Is Kalki buying time, learning to value her sister, thought of Snadhya's wishes, or truly fearing for her life? I leave that up to your speculation. It's Kalki; anything goes.
Kern: Kalki is unimpressed. Ending Ariel's clan pride with a touch. And with this, we transition to check on the airship battle that devolved into, well... the best term I can think of is "clusterfuck". That airship isn't straight anymore.
So I expect a few people will be wondering "WTH" at the cliffhanger. I'm not ending the chapter on this. We'll get back to the Sarghress group soon enough. It's just they're all either defeated, on the run, bleeding to death, etc. Kalki won. Let's move on to the other things happening at the very same time.
Kern: Owl on the balloon shredding it. Owl throwing people overboard. Owl stuffing things up the cannon's shaft that don't belong there (come on owls, littering is a crime). Owl breaking tubing. And owl throwing nets to catch people just doing their job. I tell you, way too many owls, doing way too many bad things to that poor ship. It can't work anymore! I say it's time for hunting season to begin.
The concept behind the page is based on something that make sense: Each panel follows a direction as we go down the ship to enter the interior. However, this might have been followed too strictly, making the action stiff. It's a learning experience as always!
....some more fear?
Would you like an extra dose of fear. Yes, fear comes in pink this year.
Reinforcements come to the ship in the form three empaths with their escorts. The very same ones who took the ship from Nuqrah last month. It doesn't take long before many of the owls jump off the ship as Snadhya watches. To her, it isn't a war; merely bandits.
This page experiments with sound effect to pass on the impact that empathy has. It's something hard to portray, since it's invisible. But perhaps a "fear" smacking into someone face is bound to make it clear?
Kern: Snadhya is confident that they can deal with the "thieves" on their hands. While she discusses with her underlings what's to be done to keep the guests calm, they arrive into the large hall that connects to the airship platform, where she feels something that gives her pause.
Elham the Illhar'dro and Tanavya the Sullissin are from the 2009 Daydream story about Snadhya'rune's first meeting with Mel. It also features the takeover of Felde. Yuh'le was among that original crew, but someone had sponsored her appearance, thus making her appear much earlier and with a greater role. The other members of that old crew were a Sharen and and a Beldrobbaen who didn't have a chance to appear. Perhaps they've moved on or died since then.
For anyone who is curious to get a refresher into the origin of Mel's involvement with Snadhya, I recommend to check the story. It's daydream; it's fanservice, but it's a complete story that covers a lot of relevent details.
Kern: This epic background for an upcoming epic showdown is the reason for the page's delay. Snadhya realizes that some intruders are waiting for them among the pillars, just as Lulianne arrives on the other side; still on the hunt for Chakri, who escaped her. Note that Snadhya refers to the owls as guests; she is always so kind and inviting.
Kern: Lulianne tries to pass the warning that there is something in the room as silently as possible, but Snadhya does not seem to care that she is heard. Her two warriors step forward in between the pillars to find those who are waiting in ambush. However, the owls are well trained in the arts of ninjasss. Yes, with three S; it's a thing. Leaving only a feather behind to confuse Jiaan. Meanwhile, some statues are coming to life behind Lulianne. She saw pebbles on the ground that made her think something was there, and indeed something was there; in plain sight that is!
Kern: Tanavya thought shhe had one of the owl ambushers caught, except she did not know that Chakri was hiding above, ready to leap down to strike. Meanwhile, Mikilu makes short work of Lulianne, locking her up into rock surprisingly fast. But before Lulianne is engulfed completly, Mikilu getz a glimpse of the bound rope in her hair: A symbol of the Dutan'vir with the jewel from a lover. Will Mikilu show mercy to her own tainted clankin?
Kern: Mikilu recognizes one of her own and casts her free before the earth would crush Lulianne's flesh to pulp. Before turning to face the true enemy: Snadhya. A showdown that's been in waiting since the prologue.
And Mikilu is giving a good view of her butt in the process. For there, on this stage, shall begin the butt war! Snadhya vs Mikilu: Whose ancient butt is the most perfect? ...Kidding aside, I expect some people will be curious as to the trick Mikilu did: In short, earth affinity is the most common thing in Chel. Now there had to be some things Mikilu learned besides setting traps for her enemy with bombs. And that's trapping them with earth. If you push that to the extreme, there is little that stops said earth crushing the person alive. Make a prison that shrinks! Quite horrible for the victim, and thankfully Lulianne escaped that fate! Now whether that's true Lulianne in charge is up for speculation. For Mikilu is showing her back to someone with a demon within.
Kern: Snadhya claps for her enemy. She claps for the one who tried to kill her so many times. Through traps, bombs set in her way, and maybe dozens of other tricks that we were not privy to. For she is genuine when she says she admires Mikilu. Both ruthless women doing anything they can to accomplish their goal. Though one of them has fallen; Mikilu being from a great clan that ceased to exist, her position as overseer to the empress taken away at the same time. Worse, Snadhya seems to imply that something is happening to the last of Mikilu's kin back home. Bluff, lies, or truth? That is up for speculation at the moment. One thing, though: Lulianne is not included in the surviving Dutan'vir.
Kern: Mikilu brought destruction indeed to Snadhya's plan. But will she be able to finish it off? Or will this whole venture just be another thorn in this motherkiller?
Kern: The battle begins as every pillar in the room crumbles to become flesh for griffon-like beasts. Mikilu is the first to strike, for Snadhya, as always, doesn't lift a finger to defend herself. The summon around her does it for her, taking the rocks that Mikilu throws to make its own body. It's like a dragon forcefield in a way... Playing speed metal to Snadhya most likely. The servant who saw the whole thing happen knows it's time to back off, for the life expectency for someone like him is very low. He backs up to the other exit, just as a silouette with a bloody knife shows up. It's not looking good for that servant, regardless where he'll go. But note that Riz is mentioning retiring, we all know that doesn't bode well for any movie character.
More seriously, world setting dump: For Snad to pull the tricks she is pulling means that she has a summoning stone in every damn pillar. Once the creature animates, it uses the pillar, and if it stops being alive the pillar doesn't return to its original shape. So that room is very... disposable. She wouldn't want to pull that trick unless it's really needed. See that smiling face? Sure it's smug, but she's taking Mikilu really seriously. She'd let Tanavya and Jiaan die before activating those summons. Because, you know, remaking those pillars is going to cost an arm...
Kern: Erelice is the one that stood in the entryway. She promised Kiel that she'd be a great distraction; better than a distraction! By coming in to bring a third party in this battle. The first casualty of which is this servant boy. Meanwhile Mikilu, the owls, and Snadhya fend each other off in an epic battle.
Kern: The invaders falter to Snadhya's onslaught. She has yet to raise a finger against them, but as one of the most skilled summoner in the worlds, she doesn't have to; her beasts do it for her. She can keep on with her monologue as her nemesis attempta to break through her defenses. Which do seem to be broken in the last panel; however, it comes just as she warns that there is something behind. Trick or fact, for that you'll have to wait tomorrow.
Kern: Lulianne come behind to kill her former companion, but something within her must still be fighting, for she calls Mikilu's name before striking. Giving her elder the chance to block. Unfortunately, this distraction also led to her downfall. She get punched, bit, trampled. Leaving Snadhya's last opponent broken on the ground. Yet, Snadhya still smiles and invite Mikilu to join her side. She truly does respect her enemy. But Dutan'vir are not known to be the flexible type...
Kern: Snadhya asks for the kill. Mikilu pleads for kin's unity. While Lulianne, who holds the executioner's blade, must make a choice as to whom she will obey. But she herself is divided. Between the memories of what she was and the demon within.
Kern: The demon emerges, taking ahold of the host to raise the blade against her own family. Just as someone appears to be approaching Snadhya from behind.
We've made it clear before that demons are not visible to the common eyes, but this is a comic and over the years I've realized things need to be, well, visible! This is why some effects such as demons, Kharla's power, and empathic lines have made their way into the pages over time. Allowing us to pass the message across of what's happening. Remove the demon from Lulianne's back and all you have is her twitching about; put Khaless at her back and suddenly her struggle is all the more clear.
Kern: It finally came to this. Lulianne stabs herself through the abdomen and Snadhya gets stabbed in the back. The greatest demon falls to the will of its host, and the greatest summoner gets it from a simple knife held by a weakened soldier.
Kern: Kalki is watching the equivalent of a hospital drama show, as the demon nurses fret over the dying Shala. Remember Shala, if you bleed out from your neck, avoid stressful activities. Kau, who very much does not feel like this is some entertaining show, turns around to strike at Kalki. Strangely enough, he can stand and he has energy! For the demons have made him tainted...
Kern: The return of an unexpected survivor, who apparently received great help from demons upstairs instead of being torn to shreds. Those demon nurses are oh-so-helpful, after all. Just look at Shala shining in Sar'nel's moment of glory. If only she had a throat to speak, or energy to slap his butt.
Kern: Quain teaches the young wolves to use their heads. You didn't expect it to mean they'd have to think, did you? The forehead has one purpose: Bashing weaker foreheads.
Kern: "Take Kalki's arm," many said whenever these two appeared in the last few months. It's the karmic justice. Karma's a bitch, and Kalki may finally be getting her payback.
Kern: Welcome back, Arm. You didn't have to bring all that ketchup with you. Seriously though, that process is likely atrociously painful for both involved. Likely more painful for Kalki, but then... she had it coming.
Kern: Kalki got the foot in the face. Enough times to smash the mirror behind her. Note that Kalki has seen this happening before, as there is a certain demon in her family that likes to eat people and take their faces. She just never expected this would be done to her. Now she's bleeding, shocked, and was already crazy to begin with. So it's not surprising she assumes Ariel would want to take her place, though that assumption is very off the mark.
Kern: The group escapes from the summoning room to find the golem that was harassing their companions taken down. And around the corner, Riz. Obviously shaken, even more so by what appeared to be Kalki coming at her. Even when Ariel regains her shape, Riz appears too shaken to remember how she got there in the first place.
Kern: Snadhya snaps at last. The smile is gone. The one smile always plastered on her face, regardless of circumstances, is overwritten with overwhelming anger.
Note Erelice's body that is on a pile of rubble and smoking? That's Snadhya lifting her finger. Or maybe it was just a pure mana fart... it burns.
Kern: Snadhya is truly pissed. Her facade of niceties crumbling under a desire to kill. Meanwhile her demon escapes the corpse of it's former host, seeking a new body to inhabit. It sees one: Riz. While the minions know of the face-eating demon and do what good minions do best.
Kern: Erelice's final moments, spent taunting the demon off Riz to focus upon her own broken body. She succeeded alright, at the cost of herself. She'll be eaten and be one more face to the collection of this demon. Lulianne is likely just one more pair of eyes in that dark mass. So Erelice did her job of distracting to the very end. Should get the award of distraction, really. Stabbing Snad in the back is bound to be very distracting for a while.
Kern: Pissed off, Snad rampages through her hall, shattering what's left of the pillar and crunching up some owls. Now that owl jumping off the window thought that a wall would save her from being nommed, silly owl. And so she rampages until she realizes Mel and Zhor were watching the event unfolding. Must be really, really hard to force that smile back on, Snad. Keep on smiling, keep those eyes closed, and wipe that blood off your mouth. Even harder to do, considering she still has that dagger in her back... lung puncture and all.
Until she got stabbed, Snadhya had always let other people, or creatures, fight for her. That she lost control like this is a sign of her breaking. She used to always look down, too, but now she's arching forward, looking up to those she wishes to kill. Little touches on how this all affected her.
It'll be awkward time in bed for them tonight :p
Kern: The owls are retreating from the tower. But have they failed? That really depends on what you consider their goal. If it is to murder Snadhya, that's a failure. But the ship is falling down to the lake. Her grip on power was seriously shaken. And the remedy to the poison that was spread is now out of Snadhya's hands. Not that this is much better... As for Mikilu, her fate will remain unknown for now.
Meanwhile, Kiel and her group are trying to leave, but the city is in lockdown; by which it means all the bridges are closed. No one leaves (For leaving is not tolerated :P). However, Kalki arrives to kick them all out, including the Sarghress that somehow came with her. Now, in most factions that wouldn't float. But we're talking about Kalki there, I believe most readers have understood by now that she is a wild card doing whatever she wants at great cost to whoever is getting in the way. Any employees of Snadhya's domain would know that the best thing to do is say nothing, do nothing, and then have a drink to forget.
Kern: Kiel, thanks to her demon friends, wasn't fooled by the fake Kalki. Earlier in the chapter, Kiel referred to their host's ability to tell what's going in the most unusual places to having some good connections. Well, there she is doing it herself. Call it fourth-wall breaking or just consider Kiel's demons to be able to tell that Ariel isn't truly tainted. Either way, she knows. And offers them a ride on the giant turtle. Note: She'd probably have offered the ride anyway; after all, she loves to show off.
Kern: Everyone gathers on the turtle, except for Kyo, which makes Kiel want to go back for her. Not that she truly can, but this is Kiel, and reasoning before acting isn't her strength. This page is an epilogue of sorts for many of the cast involved in the recent events, as they are all getting ready to depart. Sarghress group coming back limping, Shinae has regained strength and confidence, Sara has smuggled a cure with her. One cure, one vial. To whom is it going to go? Who is so important to justify using it on if that poison gets widespread?
Kern: Kiel and Nau join hands. Finally the ship sets sail, metaphoricaly speaking, on a turtle's back. Which is fitting. Sure it isn't a kiss, but that relationship needs time; after all, Nau is very reserved on his feelings. As to what made him finally make a move, it's complicated. Family pressure, fear of the unknown, better the devil he knows than the devil his mother would choose, a recent meeting with Ariel's butt (which is still in sight, reminding him he need to prove his manhood), respect for Kiel in recent events, and most important: The whole mention of tainting and being left behind. Which is something that's been eating at him for years.
Kern: From sweet time to dreadful time. Shala died against Sar'nel's side during the march out. Her blood loss having led to heart failure. There's no Pheonix Down, nor revive scroll. There's no magic potion, nor death to duel. She's gone, permanently, and these two men who cared for her will have to deal with the loss in the times to come. Meanwhile, Vayas - the youngest of the five Sarghress who fought to uncover the person behind the flower poison - is revealed to have been smuggled out. She is the only one to have escaped the execution.
Kern: Kalki yet lives. And she makes her way inside the downed ship to start it up again, meaning to give chase to those who took her arm away. But Snadhya arrives to confront her. After all the "incidents" that unfolded, will Snadhya forgive or punish? Note that Kalki isn't bleeding a geyser because her wound was closed in the meantime.
Kern: The final page of this chapter, with Snadhya having her own daughter torn apart before she could leave with the ship. Snadhya had a bad day, and she's not the forgiving type. Goodbye Kalki, few will miss your crazy murderous antics.
To sum up the chapter end: The Vloz , Sarghress, and Sharen Alliance people left together on the turtle. They have one antidote. The ship fell, is damaged, but Kalki believed it functional enough to give chase. The owls have retreated. Mikilu's life or death is unconfirmed. One of the five sarghress to have come in pursuit of the flower poison have survived. Mel saw the uglier side of her host. Kalki and Shala are dead. Shinae has seen a new light, and probably doesn't see loyalty the same way she used to. The person who engineered the cure to the poison is dead. And, of course, Snadhya is very pissed off, which may affect her decision-making in the short-term.
Parodies & Epilogues
Kuso Epilogue Chibi
Kern: With Nekocon this week, we must immediately depart. For now we've got a 5 epilogues and parody incoming. The first is this Kuso epilogue, for as you may have noticed, he was missing from the turtle. Being forgotten is his main skill... and all that running is bound to work up an apetite for buttery shrimp when he is finally reunited with his partner. The second page will be drawn by Lunareth, the third by Mau, the fourth by Darkvolt, and I will draw a fifth at the convention: This one about the aftermath of the flower research.
Fake Boob Radar Parody
Kern: Guest page by Lunareth, inspired by Ariel's most recent face-aquisition being more shapely than normal. The secret is revealed; it never was Kiel's demons who told her this was a fake Kalki.
Hero Kiel Princess Parody
No official announcement.
Kalki's True Ending Parody
Kern: True ending or fantasy. Snad can't be that evil as to tickles her victims....
Kern: If there is one thing that was not covered enough in the chapter, it is the aftermath of the Flower research disaster. Thing is, it did not go well. These Jaals keep their research to themselves, and one way to do this is to not keep notes. In short, Snadhya's group now has a limited quantity of cure with no clear way to reproduce it. Sure, they are the most likely group to eventually reproduce it again, but for now, this page symbolizes the issue.
That's the last Chapter 46 epilogues/parodies. Tomorrow, we kick off Chapter 47 and we'll use the Kyorl world setting page to give ourselves a little breather as we are already on Tuesday.
13th Anniversary Special
Kern: Crazy from Space Age was seen before holding a collection of figures from Moonless Age. She just now added Fram from We Are Ferals to her shelves, with skylanders-like bases. Leaving to argue with Naal, her figures are brought to life by the AI DIVA. All for cakes, though Kiel seems to think it's poisoned. Even virtual cake is dangerous.
Nothing very fancy this year. I'd rather focus on making the story go forward and bringing the great conflict between the remaining factions. I'm sure I'm not alone to feel the need to get the story progressing after so many years! Snadhya too has been waiting many years...
World Setting Felde
Kern: With the fifth update this week coming up quite late, here is the world setting page for Felde that Sarogo sponsored and donny drew. Covers the history of the city, with links to that Daydream story involving Snadhya and Mel.
Drunk Kalki Chibi
Kern: Today's chibi page idea was suggested by Rune. A what-if had an angry and drunk Kalki had gained access to the airship. During her rant, her foot taps on the controls that fire the cannons upon the tower. Confusing both Sarghress and Snadhya's faction alike.
Lunareth Chibi 1
Kern: Well, me and Kite are departing for a week. We leave you in the care of Lunareth, who has prepared 6 chibi pages for you! I've seen them, they're good, and hopefully the dark humor will work out. Without buffer that was the only solution to allow us to depart from work and home.
Lunareth Chibi 2
No official announcement.
Lunareth Chibi 3
No official announcement.
Lunareth Chibi 4
No official announcement.
Lunareth Chibi 5
No official announcement.
Lunareth Chibi 6
No official announcement.