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Page Descriptions - Chapter 47

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This article contains all the Moonless Age page announcements made by the comic's author for Chapter 47 - Puppeteer. 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.

Chapter Announcement

Chapter Cover

Kern: The long awaited start of Chapter 47, with Kharla put in the focus for the events to come. I can't answer questions as to what will happen, but you can make easy guesses from this picture.

Page Announcements

Pages 1-10

Page 1

Kern: It's recap time from Chrys'tel, who summarizes the issues at hand and what they know. At this point, there are few doubts that everything points Snadhya. The remaining doubts are regarding everything else she might have done and prepared for. And, of course, whom might work for her. After all, her faction is known to be made from members of all clans. The war between Sharen and Sarghress can only strengthen her, while weakening them. Yet neither side would capitulate. So what will happen?
Meanwhile Kuso chases Chiri for her fire, as the weather is getting colder.

Page 2

Kern: Larvova makes her bid for siding with Snadhya, while using what she sees as their trump card to ensure they have a good future. Kiel agrees that Kharla could rival Snadhya in terms of power, then gets distracted by Nau'kheol's wonderful massaging hands. Then Chrys brings the conversation back to a more reasoned course: That defeating Snadhya is not the point if they want to win, it's simply to ensure she has no opening to take over anywhere. As they argued, no one noticed that Kharla wasn't sitting straight anymore; except for Faen, who feels everyone around her, noticing that their "pilot" (so to speak) is falling sideways off the turtle.

Couple things to note. First, Kuso is shit. He is the butt, and Larvova threw him to the ground for chasing after Chiri. Now if she hadn't, Chiri would probably have set fire to everything, which isn't good for anyone.
Secondly, Larvova is a politician class if that helps make thing clearer. She's flexible, she'll seek advantages. Back in the earlier chapters, she sided with Kiel in the end out of convenience. It's easier to have Kiel play the Val as long as she can keep hands on the clan from within. If Kiel were to disappear, the Vloz would continue as they did before. There, she sees siding with Snadhya as the wise course for the future. She's not a minion - nor ever was - of the Nidraachal. She just simply sees where the wind is blowing. And in this, she sees Kharla as a tool, as well.
Which brings me to third: I mentioned that at the convention recently how a society would handle wild, powerful "magic". Kharla is one such powerful being. Her power goes beyond nearly all of her societies' understanding, and in doing so makes people afraid. Terrorizes them, even when they don't know her on a personal level. This is why the society around her keeps her locked up, pacified. As if she is a living weapon that's too valuable to be discarded, yet too dangerous to let loose. In this, Kiel is the caretaker that became too close to said weapon and lost perspective on how dangerous Kharla actually is. Since you've seen the cover, you can safely guess that this might not have been the best thing to lose perspective on. Case in point: No one but Faen noticed that Kharla is falling.
Fourth: Kiel x Nau ship is strong. First hand holding, now massage; what's next?

Page 3

Kern: As Kharla falls, so does the turtle; with everyone on board trying not to fall off. Faen catches Kharla. Chrys catches Faen. Ariel catches Chrys. No one takes Shinae's hand. Four clans at war, hand-in-hand together! It's symbolic, but does that mean the fact that no one takes Shinae's hand is also symbolic?

Page 4

Kern: She fell because she is starving. Not much of a crisis, but a reminder that Kharla isn't invincible. Keeping that turtle going had been draining on her, making her extra hungry in the process. Meanwhile, they had no food left on the turtle, having left in a hurry. However, Kuso kept to the old adage of pillaging enemy supplies while he could, stuffing his armor with food.

Page 5

Kern: "Winter is coming" is stereotypical nowadays, but accurate. Cold days had been rising to the point where it finally began to snow. It may be cold up there, but down below it's hot like fire, as the Kyorls mass up for something...

Page 6

Kern: The army is besieging the Dutan'vir's home. With the new Holy Mother among them to supervise the operation. While the defenders are very few, they have the home-ground advantage and the fact that their castle hangs from the ceiling... with an easily broken bridge. Now getting out of there would be very difficult, but they're not thinking of going out to fight; not anytime soon. Meanwhile their besiegers could just sit there and starve them out, but with Chel as it is - and the Sarghress winning everywhere - they expect to be attacked in turn. Which makes the Holy Mother wish for a quick end to the conflict. For how that's going to be done, you'll need to wait to see it, for this chapter isn't about the Kyorl. On that point, we're following little Merril as she leaves the army behind; and apparently unexpectedly.

Page 7

Kern: Merri, one of the Kyorl's seers, seems to be looking for something and goes straight for it. Ignoring all questions sent at her or attempts to stop her. Now Rayata there is supposed to spy on this district's Kyorl troops' movements. But she is a a walking Sarghress flag herself. The best place she could find is this run-down tavern to post herself. That, and perhaps another reason...

Page 8

Kern: Fallen Legion members went to the Metal Gear school of stealth, where the box is the best (worst) hiding place. As proven by the little seer going straight for said box. Now, the fact that she saw all this from his eyes gave her a big clue as to his hiding place; not that he can know this. Followed by a very cryptic, and slightly disturbing, statement that everyone will die. Disturbing because people don't normally have that kind of super-happy expression at the prospect of mass slaughter. But this is Merri, and she's kind of disconnected from reality. Considering what kind of visions these seers get all the time, it's more surprising that Chirinide isn't messed up in the head.
Alternate take on all this: Sharess' divine arm reached down to move that potato bug across the box, to guide her most faithful servant Merri to find the spy... Not likely. Potato bugs are clearly too unholy for that.

Page 9

Kern: Talking to the seer can be exhausting, but she came with the best of intention: Save the besieged Dutan'vir, prevent whatever bloody trap awaits the Sarghress were they to attack, and - most importantly - avoid giving them the justification for all the bloodshed. Wouldn't take much. First one to go out there and kill someone will start an all out new hostility with a clan that stuck to it's own for 15 years, marshaling strength. Can they avoid renewing the war?

Page 10

Kern: Whispering Towers mark the landscape of Chel. All the way to the Sharen Fortress that now stands as a dark building, surrounded by Sarghress colors. Even the Vloz district is being surrounded; by walls of rocks. The Sarghress now know that the Alliance is over there and make sure to try to contain them. Sure, many of them will be able make their way through the wall, or go over. But many won't. It also has the psychological effect of making the invaders feel contained, less of a threat. As proven by the trio of Sarghress watching the Vloz'ress Fortress, who casually talk about just doing a mass genocide of the entire district.
Meanwhile, Koil'dorath patrols the wall on top of her very serious wolf.

Pages 11-20

Page 11

Kern: Many of Koil's soldiers have been fighting for a long time by now, and have hardened significantly. They still fight for the cause, but there is a lack of concern for lives where the greater goal is concerned. Defeat the Sharen, free Chel, let the commoners rule themselves. Though many commoners are bound to lose their lives in the transition... be it from the people trying to free them, or from the looming threat of starvation.
We're talking about an army that increased in size several times over during the last few years, and now tears up an entire district edge to build a wall in a matter of days. It's a lot of people. it's a lot of damage.Not everyone will see the sarghress in a good light, one such person is now in a bag, being fed to the wolves. because in the end. There are few ways you could keep on feeding those big, carnivorous war beasts in the current situation. It's not a healthy cycle, and it can only get worse if things continue. And, as discussed earlier this week, the Kyorls could enter the war anytime. At which point, will the cool-headed leaders like Koil matter anymore?

Page 12

Kern: Koil disapproves, -50. Though even she realizes this practice may become necessary soon, she still needs to maintain order while she can. The Sarghress are likely the most structured underworld army in... well... underworld history. Enlisted commoners that work for pay, a mercenary so-to-speak, with permanent enlistees to lead them. Koil'dorath was born into it, and thus is expected to go up in the ranks and lead; and so was the guy near her, who is related to Koil by blood. But Sary and Gaes are both members who joined the clan in their adult lives, bringing baggage and practices of their own. Like most of the ten of thousands that constitute the Sarghress.
Meanwhile, Quain'tana is making her way with an escort towards the Vloz FFortress. For "negotiations". I don't think Quain understands that concept, hope they got briefed on that beforehand!

Page 13

Kern: Coming through the wall is Quain herself, under escort. Said escort is wondering why the Sharen and their foreign allies had stayed put all this time. Worse, they've stayed put even when no one knew they were there! They had the advantage of surprise and lost it, by the hand of one of their own. Or have they? Zith, one of Quain's Dragon Slayers, suspects the Sharen have been waiting to set a nastier surprise. However, said leader of the Sharen appears to be "stuck". Why she is stuck will be shown in the next page.

On a side note, Lunareth completely corrupted me. It was very hard not to write Sabbror x Quain romance in there. But no... must contain the ship to livestream insanities.

Page 14

Kern: The Sharen Alliance - the only force that could oppose Quain's conquest - isn't keen on attacking. That's the thing with recruiting foreign allies, they may see interest in taking back Chel. Get all the glory. Get titles, positions, lands to administrate. ...Just not so much on dying. After all, their homes are safe! They've somewhere to go back to, unlike the Sharen themselves. The Illhar'dro, Balvhakara and Jie'yen expected to come into Chel through the main gate and just joined with the Sharen forces there to crush the rebellion. They were a couple days late on that, instead the gate they came to was already occupied by the enemy. Sure, they found another way in, but by then they had time to consider the situation and refused to attack. Days went by, and now all they can do is stand there; their mere existence being a threat that hopefully could lead to a negotiation, or a faint hope that the Sarghress will collapse by itself.
Posturing has been part of our history's warfare quite a bit. It's no different for them. It's just not epic... But no worries, something is bound to happen.
The baby is Zala's youngest child.

Page 15

Kern: Quain'tana is coming, but the baby doesn't fear anything. The baby wants to charge and protect and... well... do non-baby things. She's the best support character for a mother who needs to confront her nemesis face-to-face for the first time in years. Years that saw a lot of things change. The Illhar'dro commander is deeply touched by the child's actions; but then, she has a weakness for babies.

Page 16

A very poor start to the negotiations. With Quain beginning the hostility by showing how she crushed the opposition's hold on the city and accusing Zala of killing her own mother. Which, by now, most readers have guessed is a pretty big sin for them. Motherkiller replacing the motherf***er term for us. After all, their society is based upon a matriarchal society, where the eldest tends to be the ruler. That comes with a whole lot of baggage about respecting one's own mother's wishes, to the point that this wish may lead to one's own death on the battlefield. Now killing one's immortal mother probably happens often, else there would be a lot more of them lasting past their second centuries, but that doesn't make it any less frowned upon.
I must point out that the way this is highlighted, the middle finger is made of metal, where the others are leather. XD It's for... hm... better middle of inflexibility. Her real weapon!

Page 17

Kern: Could the start of the conversation go more wrong? Well, Kharla could show up for sexy-time. Actually, never mind. That would probably unite everyone against a higher level of crazy. For these crazies believe they're sane. But sanity require an ego that could fit in this room, which none of them has. Yes, even the baby. So peace talks aren't starting well, and are likely to get worse as something very loud is shaking the whole place!

Page 18

No official announcement.

Page 19

Kern: The meeting threatens to turn into a stabbing party, when Zala'ess finally stands to speak to the Sarghress and turns the situation around by apologizing. Must have taken a lot of effort, or perhaps just surprising Quain'tana would be worth the effort. Please note that Sabbror nodded to her before she spoke, clearly he is the example of a great man behind every great women.

Page 20

Kern: That is one epicly angry Quain. But then, an apology after 30 years of battles isn't going to cut it. She'd rather Zala just spit in her face to give her the excuse to perform strangulation. It'd be the best day. But no, instead apologies are given. Though the page ends on a valid question from Zala: "Then what?" What indeed comes after their surrender? What comes after the war? It could end in a few minutes, with Sarghress ruling over this part of the underworld. Though while such an important question is asked, the baby is in danger of being squished.

Now on production. This chapter is starting slow, which is normal. I have to build up the situation, put key pieces in place. I was fine with the pages until the wall scene, then I felt disappointed in the direction I took. Which can be a common event, as I often look back and think I could do better, but it's pretty rare I think that while I'm making said scene. Too many cameos to worry about, too much exposition to worry about, too much workload, with too little time to do said workload. So for today's page, I've tried to rectify things. You'll notice the panels have narrowed down to the two characters being most involved, and I've focused more on the emotions than exposition. Hopefully the result will be better than the last few pages were.

Pages 21-30

Page 21

Kern: Two-finger pinch-of-death. Only Quain's mighty fingers could stop Zala from talking. Paralyze her, even. Possibly going as far as breaking her jaw. Every time Quain heard Zala talking in public, she probably wished she could do that. Well there you go Quain, your fantasy is fulfilled. As for Zala, she probably expected a lot of things, including being punched in the face; but I doubt she expected that move. It's extra humiliating, especially since her baby shield is now backfiring as extra burden...
As to what she was trying to do before this happened: Most likely try to make Quain doubt her allies and, with this doubt, start a negotiation. "I'm not your enemy, your friend is your enemy" kind of thing. That tactic barely had time to start.

Page 22

Kern: After Quain's epicly-angry face, we now have Zala's epicly-squished face. Not even the cry of a baby can make Quain's fingers relax. Though you have to give it to Zala for keeping her cool during this embarrassing moment and calling away her councillors. Now that these two women are alone, perhaps some true negotiation can be held. Now that they don't need to posture so much. Even the big golem above their head was just for show. Obviously, it couldn't shoot with everyone present - and that blindly.

Page 23

Kern: Doesn't look like the alliance believes itself defeated. They won't attack, but they're living in hopes that the Sarghress will collapse by themselves. Now how would an army that is surrounded and cut off get such rumors...?
Meanwhile Kiel is having a strong reaction to the news in her own way, as she just wants to feed her lil' sister, but apparently does not have the money to afford it anymore. In only a matter of days, the price of food went up. And now people line up for potato bugs, which is an insect they roast.

Page 24

Kern: Cook is unimpressed. Look into his eyes: He's seen it all. Likely, a summoner riding a giant kraken came this morning to make the very same threat. If only those summoners could eat their own pets. But hey, they're made of stones, so they'll go hungry or eat potato bugs like everyone else. When something becomes rare and everyone wants it, it goes up in price; and those that have a lot of it now have more power than they normally would. That is, until someone decides to come with big pointy sticks and take it all from them. Now Kiel doesn't do any pointy-stick looting; instead, she goes off to look for food elsewhere. Hoping to feed a constantly-hungry Kharla. But the street market is abandoned. People butcher their own mounts and supply warhouses are completely empty, apparently looted by Sarghress earlier.
That doesn't make Kiel happy. But then, no one is happy.

Page 25

Kern: Ariel is getting used to manipulating her body in strange new ways to do what she wants. The phantom-limb reference has a double meaning. Referring to the loss of her arm, and the how she does it. You can see her holding her "borrowed" arm after mentioning it. Kiel, meanwhile, is losing patience on the topic of her sister, coming up with one of her crazy ideas of getting every war-leader of Chel into one place, then setting them all on fire. Coincidentally, Quain and Zala are in the same place.
There's a Kiel joke that was cut out of this page. It's her explaining what tentacle sex is. Kiel would use colorful terms that were deemed too explicit.

Page 26

Kern: Butchering, strangulation, and breaking bottles with your fingers. Such joyful pastimes. It's pretty clear the negotiations are not going very well, but Quain'tana has yet to "pinch" Zala's skull again. Hey, she even used the chair. In Sarghress negotiations, this is a huge step forward! Now it's easy to make fun of Quain, with her chip on the shoulder; though if anyone needs a reminder, check Chapter 45's young Quain'tana arc. That was hundreds of years ago and she's been spending all these years wanting to take down the Sharens. Now she can, but doing it brings a whole load of troubles, as well. If there wasn't famine out there, she'd probably just take a knife, say nothing, and stab Zala in the throat. The end. Now she has to "play nice", she doesn't know how, and she doesn't want to know how, either.

Page 27

Kern: She finally gets to make her proposal. To split the power structure into military and civilian leadership. While Zala may not know every plot her sister kept in reserve, she knows something is up and hopes to stop it before it begins. These Sharen sisters are always trying to one-up each other, after all. Quain'tana, in the meantime, is uncomfortable. Whether at Zala's words or at the size of the chair seat, that we don't know. One does not give Quain a normal-sized seat and expect her ass to be comfortable!

Page 28

Kern: Those Illhar'dro... always prancing about. Except when it's actually a giant turtle walking through both armies, unopposed. Now Kiel - on said turtle - isn't too happy to see what happened to her home, for she was too busy in Chapter 43 being amazed by her new toy to consider what Chrys'tel was actually asking of her. Which led to the gates being opened and the whole Sharen army and their allies pouring in. They may be friends, but Chrys cares for her family more.

Page 29

Kern: Chrys and Kiel's argument seem to worsen her little sister's mood, who is already grumpy from hunger. Not a very wise thing to let happen, considering she controla where the turtle stomps. Fame notices, however, and uses the first trick that comes to her mind... or possibly fulfilling a secondary goal at the same time; by pushing Nau into Kiel's arm. Distracting her, as well as improving the mood very quickly. Poor Nau, he never can be taken seriously.

Page 30

Kern: No Xenon, this isn't meat. Offering it to Kharla won't (easily) calm the whole hunger issue. If these people are smart, they'll rush to some stash to find her something before she gets even more grumpy. She's not known to be merciful when grumpy.
As to what Chrys is saying about troop movements, she refers to the original expectation that everyone seems to be have: That an attack ought have happened, already. If they had attacked, this army camping around would be gone by now.

Pages 31-40

Page 31

Kern: Nau'kheol stands up to the ladies of his life for the first time. No more shall he follow like a lost puppy. But Kiel is not deterred, as she attempts a sexy dance of courting. Will it be effective?
Also - yes - It's bad when Kharla makes that kind of sound. They should listen to Fame's advice, right now.

Page 32

Kern: Nau gives in. Why is left for you to decide, for now. But Kiel sure is excited at the prospect of having him around. Meanwhile, Chrys notices a certain member of the group is wearing her mother's clothes. Not exactly the place where she'd expect this to happen.

The second half of the page is basically one of our end-of-chapter parody pages; left within the story where it belongs, time-wise, for the sake of lightening the load during the new year. It's not much of a difference, but the three hours of work it saved made the difference to have a page up today.

Page 33

Kern: All hail the great leader, and the cuddly prince of her sister. As the group returns home, Vicyl - one of Kiel's scourges that had stayed behind - halts her on the way in. To warn her to get Kharla out of there. A warning that is apparently not as important as the flatness of his face.

Page 34

Kern: It's looming day. Hope you've got your dark hood ready and someone to loom over. If they squirm, you win. If not, it's back to training for you. The Vloz'ress. The most functional clan of dysfunctionals. Trying so hard to be scary that once you're on the inside it's all too easy to see how funny it truly is. Vicyl - with his warning - is the only one taking it seriously. Perhaps it's truly just another crazy day in the clan, or perhaps Kiel ought have taken the warning more seriously.

Page 35

Kern: Naal is fine apparently; she just got fat. Either this is an insight into Kiel's perspective or just wishful thinking. Kiel has been away for a while from her home, for the first time in years. If you recall, she was hesitant to leave earlier because there were so many things to watch over. The Vloz being quite dysfunctional. In the end she left, and now she reaps troubles beyond imagining, so much that it is impossible for her to do anything about all of it. And no reliable power structure to delegate to. So now Fame and Vren get the task of taking care of Kharla, Larvova somehow has left to take care of the Sharen without telling anyone, and Kiel goes to deal with Naal. Note that the district is still surrounded, so getting out without a giant turtle seems to worry Nau.

Page 36

Kern: Waiting in the old tower lobby are some familiar faces. One of the lead members of Sene'kha's fallen group that seeks to summon a greater demon into the world. With a proper gate carved right on the floor in front of Kharla's throne. She doesn't seem to pay much mind to the strange situation, nor does Kharla's own caretaker....

Page 37

Kern: Fame came in at the wrong time to witness the situation. Unlike Kharla, she quickly notices this is a bad place to be in. Nor did Vren notice Fame had followed after him. So far the conspirators handled Kharla well, but how will they handle the arrival of Fame?A note about censorship. I feared people would view Nibai's top-nudity as gratuitous, if not inappropriate. But I believed this would be in-character for the situation and clan. So back-view it is.

Page 38

Kern: There's no walking away from this. The demon princes mean to help, well at least one of them, but they're too small. Vren, who seems to have been aware of what's going on but played along for personal reasons, changes his mind when he realizes Fame too would not be allowed to leave. As per his character, he get angry and loud. However, Kharla's patience is thin at this point and quickly reaches with her puppeteer strings to her own caretaker. If anyone needed further proof that Kharla would be easily manipulable in the absence of her guardians, here it is. The conspirators know what to say and what to do, while the caretakers have grown to forget the danger.About that pink octopus plushie: It's the same one Naal brought as a greeting present for Kharla many years ago. Same Naal that Kiel is now going back for. Also, that plushie is a cameo from Kite's plush collection. Though he got a lot flatter in real life since the first time he got a cameo!

Page 39

Kern: Cake, tea, and meat. Everyone got her order? She's not the type to tip, more like crippling you permanently when displeased. Fame tries to to get Kharla to walk out with her, but there's no reaching her at the moment. After all, Fame is not a fighter and she has no goat... though whether she could do something had she a goat on hand is questionable.

Page 40

Kern: Fame is being led down to the basement of the old tower. However, the little demon rushes ahead of her to try to figure where she's being led to, and turns out it's where they're disposing of the corpses of Kharla's servants. They can't let her have any allies after all...

Pages 41-50

Page 41

Kern: Meanwhile, outside Baliir makes his speech about rising to the opportunity that the two warring factions present. For the first time the Vloz could have a say, make a difference for a better tomorrow... or just keep being dysfunctional. Poor Bal, he was born in the wrong world. That or he is just as dysfunctional as the rest of them.

Page 42

Kern: Baliir is on fire today! Look at him go with dreams of revolution! Kiel would be proud. Is so regal in his newfound turtledom. Except Kuso is ruining the speech with his base need. When people are hungry, ideals tend to fall pretty fast to the basic necessities; though in case of Kuso that might be the all the time. Meanwhile a feral trained by one of the Sharen on the other side of the wall spied on the ongoing event, but understood none of strange discussions. So much for spying. The "Panty" line was a typo that was then kept as a slip of the tongue.

Page 43

Kern: The clan has changed a lot since they left for the Felde events. And Larvova puts the blame on the one person who opened the pandora's box. Or at least opened the door that lead to all of this. As a reminder, Nyo'ka opened the door for the sake of getting her two children back. By doing so, she let the whole Sharen Alliance through the Vloz'ress territory and hosted them all this time. This may even have aided the conspirator, for it's likely for the any (mostly) sane members of the clans to be busy elsewhere and thus missing the events going on under their feet. Such as Baliir. A chain reaction of smaller events cascading to the now, all for a small favor.
Larvova's own intent, meanwhile, was to ensure they have a place once Snadhya'rune takes over. From her perspective, by getting involved with the alliance, they've now become one pawn to be used instead of a neutral party awaiting the change in power.

Page 44

Kern: The issue of a clan with a crazy shut-in as leader is that every lieutenant believes they are the true leader behind the scenes. When two of them diverge on opinions, their wills clash.

Page 45

Kern: Returning to the Sharen, with Chrys meeting her mother for the first time since they left for the events in Felde. Their relation has soured a little, as the mother would have rather have kept her daughter away from Snadhya's affairs. Perhaps not entirely out of motherly concern, for Snadhya could very well implicate her in some old affairs. Affairs including the murder and cover up of the Empress that led to the whole war of the clans that followed... So yes, Zala suspected her sister was involved - of course she would - but she can't prove it or do anything about it. She can't even announce it loudly for all sympathizing ears without endangering her own clan as, technically - and I do mean only by a technicality - Snadhya is still Sharen. Family affairs and power tend to get complicated, especially when the remaining leading members of said family are all motherkillers and proficient liars.

Page 46

Kern: Zala speaks from personal experience there. Following her elder sister's plan has led to many regrets. Unfortunately for her, these experiences did not lead her to recognize a tainted that had been turned - In this case, Shinae - standing and listening as per her usual new smiling, creepy way. Not only that, but she also claims to have given birth to a girl, which makes Zala very happy. One more child to turn into one more cog in the machine of the clan. Something that would normally have enraged Shinae. She'd be kicking, fuming, and cursing her lot in life. Instead she just stands there and smile, taking it all in. With only her twin sister, Chrys, to find this change seriously disturbing. For one, Shinae's baby is dead. And had the baby a gender, the best term to use would have been "it". Now Chrys wasn't there to witness these events, but before her sister got turned to her new path, she herself admitted to the baby's death.

Page 47

Kern: 47-47. B)
Chrys attempts to report what she learned about the poison, as the vial she saw in her twin's hands reminds her of this pressing topic. But as her twin leaves, she means to follow to make sure of her suspcision. Was her mother poisoned?
One thing: That society already insane. Plot twist! Everyone had been taking the poison for hundreds of years! And yes, that page is terribly drawn. Let me poke at it with a stick.

Page 48

Kern: Chrys confronts her sister, but there's nothing in her hand. No vial. Or any hint of her having done anything wrong beyond the lie. A lie for which she has good reasons. Good old Shinae is back at that moment, when they're face-to-face. Meanwhile Larvova gets her hopes dashed and a certain slave who brought the tea seem to be holding the vial that Chrys thought she saw before.

Page 49

Kern: The slave got curious as to what was in the vial. Now whether that thing can infect through air will be tested in the days to come. Meanwhile Larvova gets rebuffed a final time, and Chrys returns to discuss things with her mother, still suspicious at the tea pot. She can't prove anything or be certain of anything, but that won't stop her from pondering the possibility. Not that she speaks her concerns aloud...

Page 50

Kern: Strong ties, Chrys muses, remembering her sister. Family ties are questionable of late. Perhaps Zala shouldn't think so highly of her own faction. Then Chrys brings the last tidbit of information her trip to Felde uncovered. The one that Zhor tried to pass on; about what Snadhya keeps in a certain ninth tower. A tower that no one but the now-dead Lulianne ever saw. And it turns out Chrys' mother does not know either. Nor can they go check with the army surrounding them, something that Kiel has found a way around: by going through the rift itself. Now whether they find a locked gate at the end of the trip - or something worse - is something we'll have to wait and see.
I know. Four updates this week, again. The fifth is being worked on but by the time it's done it's better to go up as a Monday update and have Lunareth's pages be Tuesday to Thursday. We depart for our move tonight and will be back Monday night. It's unlikely I'll be able to do the forum post for that Monday night page.

Pages 51-60

Page 51

Kern: Kiel and Nau make their way through the rift to the bridge leading to the school. However something happens at their home. "Who you gonna call?" is a good question to ask just about now. Too bad there's no Ghostbusters around.

Page 52

Kern: Guest page by Lunareth.
Meanwhile Sara and An'jin spy on the ongoing events within the Vloz courtyard. With Sara paying particular attention to Baliir.

Page 53

Kern: Guest page by Lunareth.
Sara is not so easily thrown aside. As Chrys once said, she is rather flirty and Baliir has her attention at the moment.

Page 54

Kern: Sara tricks Baliir out of his mask to sneak a kiss. An explosive one that make everything go red for a moment! That or something massive just blew through them at the same time. Sara thinks it's just the power of love. Baliir, on the other hand, is giving the explosion of energy a bit more thought.
Difference between a Balvhakara and Beldrobbaen? One has facial muscles that allow them to smile. The other lurks in the dark, wears black, and never ever smiles. It's that simple. Someone should go to our wiki to update on this vital piece of world setting.

Page 55

Kern: The red explosion that Baliir and Sara felt was seen from the distance by Kiel and Nau, who suspect some sort of attack. Worse, the school gate is completely abandoned and there is no more light inside the corridor leading to it. Zala was speculating earlier regarding the fate of the school, who guarded it - or owned, at this point. Kiel will soon be able to answer that question.

Page 56

Kern: Kiel and Nau enter the abandoned corridor leading to the school while some of the Sharen alliance attempt to see what's going on over the wall that they face. A wall that was also abandoned. Meanwhile on the other side of the wall, the Sarghress at some chow-hall are speculating about the same thing. How many people are in each of the opposite army, what is the enemy doing, who is holding what. It's a confusing time for everyone involved. A dangerous time, too.

Page 57

Kern: Good old escalation of war stories. Each one trying to top the other. At least one of which was proven to be an exaggeration. Give them a hour or two, with more drinks, and likely they'd go down telling tales of Quain'tana punching the moon in the face. Zair tells his about the event of Chapter 40 just as Ariel and Faen arrive.

Page 58

Kern: It's always fish. Fish all the way down. From cookie dough to whatever meat is in that mashed bowl. Where was the fish taken? Best not ask. Best not ask what kind of fish it was, either. Or if the fish was actually a fish...
On the way to get her "fish" , Ariel gets recognized by Olarae, who wwas present in the colony and would remember her departure. However, Ariel wasn't ready to try to summarize the mayhem of last chapter. Actually, even if she was given time, what happened to them was rather complicated. Especially the whole arm-losing part. For the obvious reason that she has two at the moment.
Now for the self-critique about the page. This last panel was sketched in a way to have jumble of text bubbles. Some faded, some clear, all over. To help pass the message that Ariel is rambling. Now texting it in photoshop with a lasso tool didn't work so well. It's static, it's rigid. Sure, the effect could be done given enough time - say 2 hours. But drawing it would be faster. Except my handwriting is terrible. That's one thing I need to research by the next chapter: How to make text fit the mood of the characters.

Page 59

Kern: Not only does her retelling of the events make little sense outside of context, but Ariel is awarded her first couple's fight. It was bound to happen eventually. Ariel wants adventures. Faen, on the other hand, just saw a near death experience; one where said near death involved an armless person bleeding out on her. It's enough to change perspectives. Ariel quickly learns that it's best to just bow the head and apologize than risk angering the bear.
Now I wish I could draw everyone reactions beside Zair. The laughter, the nodding in sympathy - or in agreement - to Faen. After all, some cameo-owners would agree Ariel is too reckless and some of them are in said room. But alas, there is only so few hours in the day.

Page 60

Kern: It was inevitable the topic would be touched upon. A person's death impacts the most those who cared for the person. Brother and lover, squad-mates and relatives. Sar'nel and Kau have rarely left the body since their return, and now we see the first of the two; Sarnel alone and still shocked by the loss days later. It's hard to say how this will affect him long-term. Shala is a recent love and they're both young. Sar'nel is a hard person, too. But then sometime hard stoic people are those who break the hardest.
Also, Ariel just discovered that this is not fish. At least not fish-like. Or if it was fish, that was "once upon a time". Sarghress got to do what they've got to do to keep everyone fed. Also-also, Ariel's hair has grown more reactive like a third limb after the recent events. It may as well be a tail in this page.

Pages 61-70

Page 61

Kern: Sar'nel broods, for his girlfriend is about to cremated. The final goodbye to Shala. Shala's namesake died in the prologue and now, years later, she dies in turn. Will Kau get over the loss of his twin sister?

Page 62

Kern: Kau, Sar'nel, and Ariel get to do their farewells to the fifth member of their squad. Faen didn't speak, for she probably couldn't. Chiri used the word "remembered" when referring to the dead Shala. The term "departed" during such ceremony refers to the belief that a soul is going somewhere. But for them there would be no such belief. Much of their historical figures are mythical. Even their pantheon is made of historical figures, some of which were met by people still alive to this day due to their extraordinary lifespan.
Now Shala will not live on in people's memory. Her imprint won't be kept as a summon either. While Ariel praises Shala's willingness to fight with them knowing her ancestry go straight down to major historical figures, the recent war has taken a toll on her importance. Her grandmother is dead, her mother was branded a traitor, and now her clan is deemed to have lost the war. So in the end, the only impact Shala will leave is upon those that were close to her.
And yes, Kau eyes got fixed in the last page. He had pink eyes from looking at Kalki's butt too long. He got better, okay? ...Alright, maybe not. He's back to tainted.

Page 63

Kern: Once is someone is gone forever, then come the regrets. This is why Sar'nel remembers that specific memory as the body is consumed by the flames. The "what if" people torture themselves with. What if Sarnel had answered differently. Shala would have been alive. Or what if he wasn't such a jerk. His face may not show the feeling, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. While this is all going on, one of the lookouts on one of the highest buildings in the district notices the same thing Kiel and Nau saw from other direction: Red energy coming out from the Vloz clan's home. All these events take place around the same time. However, what Kiel and Nau couldn't see as they left the main cavern is what came after.

Page 64

Kern: Moving away from the depressing stuff to the gathering of the local Sarghress leaders. Having to decide what they will do regarding the Alliance's desire to seal a peace. The Kyorl's push and the food issues press some of them to make a deal, but Rosof on other hand believes in maintaining a siege. Remember that the Sarghress are winning, right? Somehow it doesn't feel like a victory at the moment. Many war leaders in the past had to make difficult compromise, endanger their superiority on one front, just because there is a threat that another front will be created. This is what they deal with, plus Snadhya ensuring that the Sarghress have no supplies of course. She's giving them a deadline, basically.

Page 65

Kern: Shit hits the fan. Somewhere out there a Kyorl is shaking her head saying "I told you so." And yes, Suu'be seem to have something against Ariel in particular. To bring it up during such a discussion is making Rosof suspicious.

Page 66

Kern: Page 66 is demon apocalypse. Intentional? Not really. Fun coincidence, Hel yeah. Sarv'swati not giving a shit and wanting to stab Quain'tana in the face? High chances.

Page 67

Kern: With so many demons coming out, it doesn't take long for some of the locals to rush inside to figure out what happened and there they find Fame, alive somehow. How she came out of there alive will be clearer later.
For now however, there's a bigger problem. That gate is pouring out thousands of demons non-stop. All of them trying to get as far as possible, as fast as possible, not stopping to feed or attack. If those demons can be called fishes, what the lead conspirator expects to come after is one shark of epic proportions.

Page 68

Kern: Something is coming from the other side. Something big. Something Quain'tana can't punch. And their chained-down demon knows it.

Page 69

Kern: Something came from the other side of the gate, or at least the beginning of something. The pinky finger of a great, very dense being if this helps to visualize. Said pinky finger stabs the bait and quickly devours it. Forget the rules of demonology shown so far in the comic, this thing goes beyond what the regular demons could do. Tainted, untainted, healthy, sick, it doesn't matter. It's pinky finger poking through a person will kill the person and devour whatever is inside of said person, be it of foreign origin or just it's life. Now just imagine if such a demon could come through and subsist. Imagine a hundred of them, and you could see how the old world these people came from just ended. Nothing could live after the demons harvested everything. The only thing that got them in the end was entropy; once everything was eaten they couldn't subsist anymore. Those that couldn't find a gate to go back just ceased to exist. Meanwhile Baliir and Sara try to break through the gate. It may not be a good idea at the moment.
As a reminder, Discordia the demon was a shard of a another such great demon that Sene'kha's little group believed could be used to lure a great demon. Considering Sene'kha extensive knowledge, for which she probably had opened thousand of gates in her lifetime and spoke to many other in her field, it's likely just figuring out what lure goes with what gate that was the biggest challenge in the whole affair. Catching the bait was a minor ordeal, getting it past Kiel's people just a lengthy step. Now to see if their bet pays off. If you need a refresher on this sub-plot, check Chapters 12 and 13. It took years to get to it, but this subplot is getting wrapped up this chapter, one way or another.

Page 70

Kern: Some people just want to see the world burn. Others think something will rise up better from the ashes. Interestingly enough, the person who now stands a chance to stop it is all for destroying the current system as well. Baliir was part of the group in Chapter 12 that set these things in motion, after all.

Pages 71-80

Page 71

Kern: Baliir attempts to use words on the antagonists. Unfortunately for him, they've got a high resistance to words. Especially philosophical ones. By the way, that's Kuso in the side panel. Taking his bath as one of the legs just pierces through the wall. It's expected that it would miss him just by a little. Everyone in the Vloz can die, but he'll survive in his bath's water. Protected by the holy yellow duckling.
Do I have something serious to say? No. It's a big demon, rwar. Great demon to Chel: "Rwar." Chel: "We're too busy trying to make peace." Demon: "Bunch of carebears." Chel resumed the fighting afterward, the demon's job being done. On this, I best go sleep.

Page 72

Kern: The great demon devours its bait as Baliir attempts to put an end to the ceremony and... fails? He is thrown down, however the first thing he does is reach for one of the gemstones that power the gate. Whether he was going to stab his opponent with it or do the self-sacrifice of throwing himself with it into the gate - regardless of what his opponent was trying to do - is up to your interpretation. Regardless, Sara's own view was that her beefcake needed help; and she promptly gives said help by kicking their opponent into the gate.
Now a gate doesn't let people come and go through. Only energy may. That demon can. The energy these people need to live can be torn from their body into that mini singularity that they call a gate. And finally, whatever infected Umpus can go. Which means his death. That doesn't mean Umpus is suddenly back to free of his demon, it just means he'll die.

Page 73

Kern: Baliir and Sara do their best to close the gate and they do, as the gate closes upon the great demon, severing its body. However, the lead conspirator thanks them. Not that Baliir could do anything else; if he had just stood there Nibai would have closed the gate and more of the demons would be through. However, punching Ni'bai in the face might have had more effect.
Now if Baliir lives through this, he can ponder on the "What if I had done this instead"...

As for Umpus, he was eaten by the demon.

Page 74

Kern: Baliir makes a statement with his fist. What else can I say? It's too impactful.

Page 75

Kern: They may have knocked down the conspirator, but she lifts her hand with what's left of her strength - reaching up - and has her demon pull down the great beast to the vessel. The moment they touch something may or may not happen. Perhaps Chel just has a big tea party with happy people everywhere?

Page 76

Kern: They couldn't stop the demon from getting into her. And Baliir seems oddly slow at answering Sara's question after having gentlemanly shielded her with his own body.

Page 77

Kern: It begins. Now everyone either has to run very far or kill the "vessel". The latter is getting harder by the moment. Speaking of moments, Sara completely missed hers by a few. Next time she faces apocalyptic events, I'm sure she'll act faster and worry about her beef later.

Page 78

Kern: It spreads through the room. To the basement. To the courtyard outside and beyond. Where will it stop?

As for what "it" is: Every character have an aura around them, the same thing that allow them to do manipulation of mana, or be influenced by it. Kharla's aura is one of the largest, spreading beyond her self and thus able to contain the demon without killing her. However that demon has a lot of stored energy and it's stretching at Kharla's aura quite a bit. But technical stuff is boring, let's just say everyone is getting screwed once they're in. As Kite put it, it'll keep expanding until everyone lives in Kharla's.

Page 79

Kern: It spreads across the Sharen camp, beyond the Sarghress wall. To the funeral fire where Faen freaks out and Chiri says the obvious. All the way to Quain'tana and her bodyguards coming to check on what's going on. Just when Kharla's puppet strings come down unto said bodyguards.

Page 80

Kern: "Nothing is all right lately." Wise words Nau, as the red aura spreads across the city, leaving very little uncovered. But apparently the school's cavern is one of the places that was spared. The red aura stopping at the gated corridor.

Now there was quite a dilemma for this page. To continue with Quain'tana and the guards, or to show the progression over the city ending up with Kiel. Even now, I still don't know for sure what would be best. Sure Quain'tana's fate is interesting, but seeing what happens to her would make for an awkward jump to the aura continuing to spread elsewhere. This chapter is full of dilemmas like this. I'm sure next year I'll look back and wish I had done differently.

Pages 81-90

Page 81

Kern: While the situation is going on the apocalyptic side outside, this school is an island of normality. As normal as things can be in the underworld at this point. Curfew is on, there's few students left, and teachers patrol the corridor to ensure they stay in during the war. This particular teacher seems especially out of the loop. Perhaps she should go out and check on what's going on outside the gate...
Note: This is a Kite cameo. She put in her demon character as one of the teachers.

Page 82

Kern: What's to be said? Some light-hearted moments in the heart of the storm. Nau steps forth to be the reasonable party, allowing Kiel to go on alone to find Naal in the depths of the school. "Tiny" Naal, she claims. Really tiny. Portable, really...

Page 83

Kern: Good old Kiel talking to the camera. While going down an oft-visited path. That pit with the door must be the one place we've portrayed the most often.

Page 84

Kern: Kiel stalls opening the door, dreading to find her "friend" missing - or worse. However, there is no one behind the door; either in-sight or answering. Perhaps she did run away. After all, Kiel's group did unlock the door before and, with all the demons loose, any new lock the school would have put on could have been disabled.

Page 85

Kern: The only way this trap could be more obvious is if the doll was laying on a giant slimy tongue.

By the way, we've just noticed that the monitor Kite has been using to color the pages since our move shows the blacks as grey. When we came to this page, where the demon is quite in the dark, it was showing as pure black on my side. While detailed with menacing red overtones on Kite's side. It's clearly too late to recolor, so we've applied an emergency brightener TM. AKA overlay white 50% so things could be more visible. At the same time, I threw it on the previous page to brighten that one up as well. So, for all we know, the last 40 pages or so are displaying differently than we intended.

Page 86

Kern: Obvious trap was a trap. But - expecting it or not - Kiel is still taken by surprise as Naal rushes into her, through the gate and up, the maw eating at one of Kiel's leg. That's what happens when you forget to feed your pet demon.

Page 87

Kern: Love is the ultimate attack move. Best thrown when you're 50 feet in the air against your friend-turned-giant-tentacles-monster... maybe. Also, I've been having fun on this page. Also-also, boobs were again a big dilemma. Censor them, don't censor them, and if censoring how do we do it. In the end, this comic has been going for so long I figure all readers are adults by now.

Page 88

Kern: "I'm sorry I touched yer booty" should be written on Kiel's tombstone. For her power of love was too effective, one hug took down the demon from her climb, to crash down onto a bridge below. Hurting her and getting her to run away toward one of the exits. It's clear by now that Kiel is going to have no control over the demon.

Page 89

Kern: Kiel and her demon-gone-rogue are seen by many and cause havoc as they make their way back to the hall where the teacher and Nau were talking. Not only is Nau getting eaten, but the demon slams into the central statue, toppling it over. Goodbye statue that stood there since Chapter 3. May we never have to draw your complicated details again!

So... can things get worse?

Page 90

Kern: Whether Naal cries because she is told to go back down into a pit to be a prisoner for more years or because she smashed her other face on the statue is up to the reader's interpretation. As for bringing Naal to the world outside, another great idea by Kiel that can only bring joy and rainbows. Though right now it'd be hard to mess up the world any further.

Pages 91-100

Page 91

Kern: Their pursuers stop at the entrance of the corridor, for they can tell something is not right in the city beyond. This gives Kiel the chance to pull Nau and the teacher out from the maw, though the latter may be unconscious. Or dead. Naal's kisses weren't so gentle, with one of the wiggly-worm-teeth things still stuck to Nau's head.

Page 92

Kern: Nau gets rid of the sausage stuck to his head as the demon looks hungrily to the questionably-alive teacher. Nau doesn't have much time after this to complain about all of Kiel's little white lies before Kharla's power reaches for him as well. However, Kiel and the demon have yet to be struck by the puppeteer's strings...

Page 93

Kern: Nau fears the day he's dreaded his whole life has come - that the taint is taking over him. Paralyzing his body, that his self would dissolve. On the other hand, Kiel has seen her sister's power at work many times before. Except never when her sister was out of sight. Thus why she thought perhaps Kharla would be hiding somewhere around. A hope that did not come true. Worse, by the bottom of the page Nau can't talk anymore. Yet he is conscious and a prisoner of his body like everyone else out there. It may as well be hell; one that he can't scream from. Kiel tries to reassure him with a hug and a kiss, the latter he can't defend himself from.

Note about the demon princes: They appeard for the first time from Naal's body in Chapter 39. Once again they emerge from her body as the smaller blobs of Kiel's demons go through. I've no plans to explain how that works, just know that's the only place where they spawn. Else they're regular blob legion-like demons.

Page 94

Kern: The glow over their home is gone, except perhaps it is only because the glow is now everywhere. With the streets ahead filled with countless strings going down to ensnare every single person alive. Except it seems the animals, Naal, and Kiel are spared the strings.

Page 95

Kern: While they make their way back through the city, Zala'ess face a must grievous issue: her own kin set to kill her. First in line is Chrys, reaching to strangle her mother.

Page 96

Kern: Things go from bad to worse as the other councilors surround Zala to strangle her. Her protests fall on deaf ears, including those of her mate, who comes into the room raising his sword to cut her down.

Page 97

Kern: Whether Zala's words reached her lover, or whether Sabrror just has years of training fighting the thing trying to control him from within, he does manage to break free at a great cost: Himself. The demon takes over, freeing him from the strings. He had been on the border of breaking for a while, just like Naal in the first arc.

Page 98

Kern: The demon he became defends his queen and love regardless. At least for the moment. Giving her the chance to flee outside. Yet what safety awaits her in a land filled with strings?

Characters that resist the taint for a long time will tend to have a higher chance of keeping more of their selves once the demon takes over. You could say the demon had time to adapt, or you could say a very strong ego is better at keeping its sense of integrity once it turns. It's still a demon, though. And will never revert. Just like Naal, its body may soon change. That is, if it survives.

Page 99

Kern: No safety awaits her outside, but she does find her youngest child wandering among the crowd of stringed puppets, crying. However, that distraction made her miss the approaching teeth of her own dragon mount meaning to chew on her. Again Sabrror leaps to the rescue. Literally. However, there already seems to be a bit of a regression in his behavior and ability to speak. How long will he be able to defend her from the numberless puppets before he wants to take a bite out of Zala himself...

Page 100

Kern: The worst happened. As the would-be-empress realizes her hand's bleeding came from her youngest child, chewing at her hand while she was being carried. She did not even notice the pain til now. Her attentions and fears having been directed outward til now. But no... no one is truly safe from the strings. Not even the babes. Though, for some reason, demons were apparently spared being controlled so far. Not that it's helping Sabrror, left behind to fight against a horde as his wits diminish.

So yes, pretty grim page 100. In the beginning of the chapter the Sarghress were winning, terms were being pushed for peace, most of the old cast were together and aware of the whole threat that Snadhya poses. Now, well... things changed.

Pages 101-110

Page 101

Kern: The would-be empress was pinched, punched, kicked, strangled, bitten; and now, stabbed in her pregnant stomach by one of her own. She has now hit the bottom of the barrel and even her love-turned-demon isn't there this time to give her a narrow escape. Do you beleive there is any way she'll get through this ordeal alive?

Note: Zala would have no clues as to Kharla's power beyond hearsay, even less having such large scale effect. Nor can she see the strings. She clutches to the belief that it is some kind of plot by the rival clans, because it's what makes sense to her. As to whether it's possible... No it wouldn't be. Even the trio of badass empaths under Snadhya can only partially incapacitate a group of people around them. And even then some were able to fight back.

[Page 102]

Kern: At the last moment when everything seem lost, she muster the strenght to not give up. Punching her attacker and freeing herself from the grabbing marionettes, somehow not feeling any pain from the dagger emerging from her pregnant belly. The trick used from her armor is simply a shield. Those gemstones on her shoulder, as many other armor using gemstone, are foci. These seem to be able to allow her to deploy a strong shield. Which she used all at once to throw her attacker off. It wasn't meant for that purpose but hey, it works. Now the energy is depleted however. Sure a foci can be used without store of anything but have you seen Zala perform any arts so far? She isn't exactly the fighting type. Which highlight all the more the fact that she enjoyed punching shinae. But then, it's shinae she's punching. That's a perk to her.

[Page 103]

Kern: It was a stuffed pillow all along. A pillow which take revenge upon Shinae coincidentally. Perhaps Zala had stuffed her belly, faking her pregnancy, because she is afflicted by the same curse as her daughter, or because she meant to show off her capacity to always have babies, even in the time of war. Perhaps the answer on which will be given, or perhaps not. Regardless of the reason, this may just as well have saved her life. Long enough to find another survivor who is free from the strings, a vloz'ress atop a fire golem from earlier. Unfortunately for her, it's soon revealed that he is free from control because he was a demon all along. Something that's not so uncommon for the Vloz clan. And yes Suna baby was left behind. It was a hard choice but by now Zala is figuring out how dire the situation is.

[Page 104]

Kern: She make her final stand as she find herself surrounded and left behind by the only other survivor. The puppets are slow and unskilled, basicly all reaching out to try to grab , pummel and stab with whatever they have on hands. But given enough of them, the sheer mass could take down a trained and equiped warrior. Zala is no such warrior, nor is she equiped, nor trained. No pillows will save her this time.

[Page 105]

Kern: Surrounded, and overwhelmed, she scream her last defiance which reach the ear of the most unlikely person ; her old enemy Quain. These two would never have expected to end up fighting back to back...

[Page 106]

Kern: As they two are surrounded by former comrades, Zala finally figure out that this wasn't just about her but Quain as well is being attacked. Her companion was struck in the back by her own bodyguards, their wolves joining the melee to protect their masters, regardless that they are free from the string's control. Now what can two people do?

[Page 107]

Kern: While Quain and Zala turn back to run toward the Vloz fortress to KILL the source of the problem. Kiel and Naal are making their way back over the wall to SAVE the source of the problem. Now whom are going to get their first and will Kharla truly be that easy to kill, or even harder , save. The turtle sure is trying. And it's mere presence give Kiel hope. if Kharla's self would be truly gone, there wouldn't be that turtle anymore as it is her summoned creature. Or so Kiel think.

[Page 108]

Kern: They get over to wall to witness all the puppets being moved to block the main gate that lead inside the tower. Bodies of friend and familly that can't easily be smash through, especially when riding a flesh devouring demon that is very hungry and unlikely to spit out what it catches. This is the other edge of this crisis. Lots of puppets meaning to kill the leaders of this society, but also the identity of those under the strings control. Quain may not care about swinging her blade against her own bodyguard, but Zala was shaken by her own family meaning to kill her. And now Kiel certainly would not have her own crew killed. Pushing the thought further, would she be able to kill her own sister if she has no other choice?

[Page 109]

Kern: The turtle push and smash against the tower long enough to break through one of the wall, giving Kiel a way in. And yes that was not a gracious landing. it,s Kiel, she's an action hero only in her head. She tries though! And her demons help.

[Page 110]

Kern: (would be) Action hero Kiel climb the turtle and leap through the broken facade of the fortress to find the inside bathed in strings. So many that the floor may as well be liquid with the red nether associated with demons. Naal may be following behind, but her ability to leap is questionable... It'd be like a fat cat trying to do a gracious leap. It always end up in a messy fail.

Pages 111-120

[Page 111]

Kern: Kiel is finally getting the adventure she wished for. Going through some evil doer lair against imposible odds to save a - wait no princess to save. Only her sister to kill. That later part doesn't live up to her fantasy.

[Page 112]

Kern: As Kiel get motivated to end this madness, a new problem arise ; the turtle is shaking the fortress loose from it's cliffside. Were it to fall, everyone inside would likely die. Including her, Kharla , Baliir, Sara, and many others.

[Page 113]

Kern: Baliir and Sara are taken, the lead conspirator does not answer, two more lay on the floor and Kiel's buddy naga lay dead near them. It doesn't bode well with Kharla having a freak out, albeit a legitimate one. Now the big question with Kharla is, is she a demon? If she is one, how can there be a turtle outside trying to break in. That turtle is, in a way, powered with her life energy. If she had died and been consumed by the demon, the turtle would be gone. Yet there she is, red eye and all, doing very bad thing, and the demon's giant legs are attacking the turtle. If the demon is indeed inside her, you could says she is essentialy attacking herself. If it isn't then something in the conspirators'good plan that had apparently gone perfectly, have actually gone terribly wrong. Perhaps the truth lay somewhere in between both...

[Page 114]

Kern: Kiel thought she could defeat the mastermind and end it all, like a proper hero. However, there is no one to vanquish. Nibai, lead conspirator of the group is under the strings control like everyone else. Leaving Kiel to face her own desperate sister who seem to be under much pain. She may have been able to keep her abillity under control before, not this time however and perhaps never again. Now what will Kiel do?

[Page 115]

Kern: Kiel attempt to convince her sister she can finally let go. However things take a turn for the worse as the strings come down to take over her as well. Her vision fade and this might be the end for her. Except that Naal had been following all this time, finally taking a bite out of pupeteer. Time for some explanation. Kharla's power did not touch Kiel so far , not because she couldn't, but because she didn't recognize the target. It's a power she does not control anymore and so it had been reaching for every person out there. Kiel and the other more advanced tainted in a grey line when it comes to this. Though as Kiel spoke and interacted with her, she felt more like a person to her and... there you go. strings. It's not a conscious act from Kharla. Perhaps if Quaintana and Zala had arrived first they too would have fallen under the strings, leaving truly no one to do anything about the situation.

[Page 116]

Kern: As Naal injest her, the strings begin to break. Starting gradualy from the center. First Kiel, then nibai, then sara and baliir then... everyone else? So it would seem, however Kiel is attempting to save her sister from death by nomming, regardless of what she was doing to everyone. And Naal herself is getting torn from the inside. Something or someone is going to break first. Kiel want to be a hero and save everyone but sometime it's just not possible.

[Page 117]

Kern: Save her or save everyone. Do you side with Kiel's hope or with Baliir's reasoning? For now the demon is emerging out of the fortress to attack the wounded turtle and the power of the strings fade. Giving the two clan leaders outside a chance to breath.

[Page 118]

Kern: Sarghress and Sharen together send up a flare to attack. For the first time the two clans will have to work together. For people who were wondering if they were ever going to hold hands, that's as close as it's going to get.

[Page 119]

Kern: The early confusion quickly clear up as the cooler heads understand the signal they were waiting for and relay the attack signal : Attack the Vloz'ress. And first to strike is a serie of canon mounted on the wall that was meant to attack the Sharen lines. Now instead striking through the demons and shattering the fondations of it's nest.

[Page 120]

Kern: The sarghress forces mobilize to strike at the great demon. It's size is overwhelming but it's foes are legions. Meanwhile the turtle does not give up , using itself as a ram to break through the fortress.

Pages 121-130

[Page 121]

Kern: We approach the climax as the fortress is falling under a barrage of attacks. Deep within it's basement, the core that keep it steady against the cliff is cracking and failing. It's all going to fall, in more way than one. With Kiel , Sara, Baliir , Kharla, Naal and many others still within! Kiel does not want to let go of her sister, regardless.

[Page 122]

Kern: "I" Kharla says , in the last moments of her life. A very simple letter, yet loaded with meaning in her case. Kiel is determined to blame Naal for eating her sister , though had she stopped to consider what she's saying, she'd realize that she's the one who should consider her own points. She want to save the world, yet she's trying to doom it by her action. Sometimes there's just no saving everyone.

[Page 123]

Kern: Before they could join hands and before the strings could return, Nau grab and run away with Kiel. Leaving the pupeteer to dbe devour and the devourer to fall in the collapsing fortress. It's now twice that these two leave Naal behind to her fate. Wheter Naal can actually feel the abandonement or not is up to speculation but she'll feel the fall. Big blob of flesh or not, gravity is a most lethal foe. Same for Kharla whom she is trying to ingest, whom mighty puppeteer power come to little in such situation.

Now the "Kiel" word in the middle of the page. It could be Naal, or it could just be one more voice in Kiel's mind. It doesn't matter, as it got her to look just in time to see her friend fall. Also, considering the type of demon Naal has become is one that consume and make the things that get in contact with her, part of her. If she had been given the chance to consume Kharla, things might not have worked for the best. Kharla's case is very unique so it's hard to say what would happen exactly. Let's say there's a chance that the danger would not have stopped.

[Page 124]

Kern: The fortress collapse around them and just as Nau was getting to the exit, the floor break and flip. Perhaps without Kiel in his arms he could have jumped but her being content to be rescued by her princeling, he slip and fall back, only to be given the most unlikely of support. The giant turtle's mouth. As a reminder , this turtle is technically part of Kharla , who was left behind to be eaten and is likely falling a very long way at the moment.

Also, yes it's a trope that the vilain's castle collapse once the vilain is defeated. Except that's also the protagonist home and well i have the excuse that it was literally hanging on the side of a cliff being. Which bring Castlevania to mind. Remember how dracula is always in that one tower hanging above everything else with only one bridge as support? Really the belmont should just destroy that bridge. Watch dracula fall. That'll take care of his first , second and whatever other forms he may have.

[Page 125]

Kern: Nau kiss Kiel at last. Sure it's on the cheek, sure it's to shake her out of her dark mood so she climb off before his arm's strenght let go. But it's a kiss nevertheless. And he is holding her in his arms , still, after having almost fell to his death. Which considering the weight he is carying with one arm is already a miracle he can even handle for a few seconds. Though with his taint it's probably help ignore the pain a little.

Also, the summon losing it's energy means that Kharla is dead or unable to power it up any longer. Kiel assume the first.

[Page 126]

Kern: The engineer watches his lifework at the bottom of the rift. Only to be distracted by the pleas from someone hanging on the cliff side , the lead conspirator herself. She did not get away in time and by sheer luck grabbed something as she fell. However she is wounded , at the end of her strenght. There's no helping hand for her. She meant to destroy all the clans, to get revenge, but she only managed to destroy the home of one of them ; the wrong one at that. It's fitting that her survival be decided by the one who built said home. he chose Ham. Ham sandwhich is much better than her life.

[Page 127]

Kern: The clan's fortress, their home, is gone. Everyone watch in silence at the result of the conflict, wondering about their losses and wheter it is truly over. However Nau doesn't think it is over as he feel something underneath him. Lunareth call this page a shipyard for all the ships in it. Though really, what does Kuso has to ship with him beside his tiny falling white towel. Think about the poor Vloz who's going to get a sight of that mishapen thing...

[Page 128]

Kern: The threat isn't over, for the demon cannot truly die. Killing the host only free it once again to rampage and possibly find another host. A host that would quickly succumb but still, nothing stops it from taking one person after the other till everyone is dead. No matter what such a beast do, it's bound to be just as destructive as a Kharla out of control ever was... at one major exception ; everyone is now free to oppose it! In any ways they can think of.

[Page 129]

Kern: Go back Kiel tell the demon with the backing of an army of sealers and volleys of canon blast. Sure the blast cannot truly injure the demon, the demon could go as far as consume them and grow stronger, if it had the chance to do so that is... Now does Kiel shouting matters? Probably not, the demon has no ears to hear her. But as another demon(Khaless) pointed out before, Kiel may as well be one. It can see Kiel standing there unafraid with all her little buddies. And it can see all those sealing stones ahead. It can see the blasts and can feel them a lot more than it could feel the turtle's attack.

[Page 130]

Kern: The demon goes away, not before one of it's leg pass through Kiel however. Draining her of her strenght, just as she was standing at the tip precipice. Just before she fall, Nau grab her pull her away to safety, for the second time in mere minutes. Meanwhile the armies outside cheer their victory and Zala make her offer of peace publicly before both factions. Offering her hand even.

Zala may smile but like her sisters, she may be doing this now to take advantage of the moment. Tu push her agenda while both parties may be more open to the idea, before the idea of unconditional surrender be pushed at her once again. After all, it'd look bad (to some) if Quaintana just cleaved Zala down after what just happened. No The chapter could end in the next page regardless what Quain will do, but there's one more little event to take place...

Pages 131-140

[Page 131]

Kern: Two clans at war for many years, their leader finally shaking hands. As Zala says, it's only a step. does Zala mean it? Who knows. Does Quain intend that Zala have an accident later on, who knows. In public like this though, they'll be working for peace. Later, they'll be all oops Zala died chocking on a potato. How did a potato embeded itself so far down her lungs? who knows :D just joking of course.

[Page 132]

Kern: As the factions stand on the brink of making peace at last, one person who had been watching all this time arrive to foul up the atmosphere of victory. Sarv, who survived the massacre and mass imprisonement of her own forces, now want a duel Quain once again. And in front of everyone. Quain is quite ready to take the challenge but her new partner in this budding alliance of clans is against the idea. Perhaps it's because Zala fear Sarv wins. perhaps it's because acknowledging it also acknowledge that Sarv has rights. Perhaps it's because Sarv is the elder sister and some among her own ranks might start questioning. Perhaps it's because it may renew the clans hostility. Or perhaps she just want to safeguard Quain's butt for herself. who knows... :P That IS the final bit of this chapter btw. All the loose end must be resolved...

[Page 133]

Kern: Zala don't give her older sister the chance and demand her death. Some of the Sharen are quick to jump on the command, however they did not expect their victim to kick ass. Unfortunately for them, it's their own asses.

We had a choice yesterday, to either make another chibi page or reduce the amount of panels for this page. since we had a lot of chibi pages lately, here you go, 3 panel action scene.

[Page 134]

Kern: Sarv is surrounded and attacked by all sides. However she stand her ground against all the attack until Quain stop the assault. She accept the challenge of a one on one duel, exactly what her enemy hoped for, her only chance to get even and end the sarghress march to victory... Note that Quain'tana shouting stopped both sides from attacking, though Zala disapproves. A glimpse of their future partnership? Also yes that was hard page on Kite. Lots of effects. The final result is pretty though.

[Page 135]

Kern: The stand off between the two clan leaders. Both highly trained warriors, veteran of countless battle, and both hating each other very much. Quain open the word hostility, baiting her enemy to attack, which she does . The bets are open regarding this duel. Which one will win and how badly the winner will be wounded?

And yes Zala feel the safest at the back of her enemy. No this is not an attempt to ship them. It's meant in the non romantic way and has nothing to do with Quain's butt. :D

[Page 136]

Kern: The fight goes on and as their blade clashes, Quain notices the blade is coated with something. Some kind of oil or poison. The later would make any minor wound a danger to Quain's life. And considering who gave the blade of this fight two chapter ago, anything is possible.

As a reminder, it is in chapter 45 that the imperial guard nirnaya gave Sarv'swati her blade. An imperial who has the bad habit of serving a few sharen sisters at the same time. Also, no the flame and air trick of Sarv can't injure Quain but it's like throwing sand in Quain eyes. It's blinding, it's disrupting. Sarv will do everything she can to distract Quain just enough to shove that blade in her unarmored face. Quain's pretty heavily armored. There's the armpit leather, side rib leather , back of knee and groin, though that one has double the leather protection. Really if Sarv want to stab, the head is the place to do it. Quain meanwhile is more brute force and could injure Sarv by just pummeling her. Allow Quain to get a good grab and she could break Sarv's neck for exemple. Though she has absolutely no mana arts of her own to help her. Also also, it's not the first time Quain used her palm of death. Where else did she use it?

[Page 137]

Kern: Sarv has no end of tricks at her disposal to defeat her enemy. Knowing she'd have difficulty besting her in direct combat, she take to the air, bringing the walls inward to crush Quain.

Quain isn't known for her abillity with the mana arts. She could have foci to help her, but would she use them if she had them? She'd likely punch sarv to death before that happen.

[Page 138]

Kern: Quain forgot to shout "Legendary punch" as she punch her enemy off the high ground. Well off is not exact enough considering she smash the whole thing. Perhaps "Quain smash" would be better? Regardless, they fight on, trying to take advantage of every opportunity as the very ground breaks with every movement Sarv does. One or the other is bound to get the upper hand eventually, they can't keep fighting until they're too exhausted, isn't? Something or someone will need to happen.

[Page 139]

Kern: Someone is going to make the balance shift between the two warriors. It could be seen as cheating, if anyone knew. It doesn't take much to suddenly give a big opportunity to Zala's chosen ; a simple foot holding at the worst time, say when the person was about to jump away from a sword strike. So why is Zala choosing Quain... Sarv is a rival to her power, Quain has the potential to be a way for her to strenghten her hold on Chel. Sharen sisters have the very bad habit of stabbing each other in the back.

[Page 140]

Kern: With one strike, Sarv and the Sharen resistance is no more; to the pleasure of the youngest of the five Sharen sister. Coming next, a new era for all the people of these divided clans... Maybe.

Pages 141-142

[Page 141]

Kern: Quain came out of this duel almost unscathed, except for a small cut on her cheek. A cut that could have dire consequence were it be infected by the poison that they've recently learned about. They may have shaken hands, but Quain doesn't trust her and her healers enough. Perhaps a wise decision. After all Quain might have read game of throne and know that she can't trust foreign healers. They do weird shit then she's a vegetable for her waifu. Who's the waifu is another can of worm all together. And perhaps it's also just a scratch. Perhaps it's not Snadhya's poison. Maybe she'll grow pink cute cheeks from a new jaal'darya substance and everyone will lose faith at her. "look, she got rosy cheeks, can't be a true warrior" and the Jaal'darya laught as the Sarghress forces collapse from lack of trust in Quain rosiest cheeks... ... Chapter's almost over guys, one more page.

[Page 142]

No official announcement.

Special Pages

[World Setting: Kyorl'solenurn]

Kern: It's not page 1 but it had to go up and this chapter is the right time for it. As the Kyorls will do their return very soon, under their new pro-war leader. Bonus retro outfit for Chiri. All purple and red. She went through a phase when she was a teenager, hopefully she got over it. Page 1 is colored and will go up tomorrow.


Kern: With the holidays coming up we will halt the regular updates for the next few days and post holiday themed comedy strips by Lunareth and Mau.\

[Chibi 2]

Kern: The problem with people stuck in place in the street is that it lead to too many opportunities for a hungry demon to go on a nomming spree. Except when it comes to kuso. no one want to eat him.

[Chibi 3]

Kern: Guest page by Lunareth and Mau. why? Because one of our tablet power cable was left behind in the usa and the other tablet is awaiting us at the unfinished appartement that we will move into friday. Plus the hard drive decided to wipe itself out when moved back into our home server. 2 months of work, including this week updates, gone. We are trying to recover the files and have our backup in the usa being forwarded to us so updates may resume asap.

Now about the page itself, Kharla power has gone very very wrong. Forcing everyone to do the most despicable thing of all ; tea time. The mastermind plan backfired.

[Chibi 4]

Kern: Chibi page because we lost a day of work to the move, once more. We have found a place for which we made an offer and will likely lose a day or two in may, followed by one more day in june, before all this moving about is complete. This page came from a feeling that Quain spoke too much when she came to the rescue . Instead turning Zala into a bag of potatoes is much more in character, do you agree? Now some requested a butt slap, but i leave it to you guys.

[Punch Epicly]

Kern: Parody page by Kite to fill in while we catch up. Quain teaches Zala to punch her enemies. Resulting into a little bit too much enthousiasm in the practice. So much so she kept punching after everyone was freed, to the confusion and misery of her family.

[Clingy Zala]

Kern: This parody page could very well be the perspective of some sharen out there. What with Zala being so attached with Quain? Is she becoming one more Quain's follower?! Was the poison turning people into the most devoted fangirls?!? There'll be some frustrated sharen after this.

[14th Anniversary]

Kern: Behold the new style for the story from now on!!!... Just kidding. This adorable art style brought to you by Kite whose been working on the site since 2005. It's been a long journey and while the end is in sight , there is still a while more to go. Thanks everyone for sticking with us through up and down all these years! We'll continue to work hard on the story.