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  1. - Top - End - #181
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    I vote Translate. To me, the primary point of the translation is to turn Dwarven accent into expected English (so that, say, if I want to search for mentions of anyone's grandfather, I don't need to remember how Durkon might spell it). This applies to searches of exclamations, too.

    Grey Wolf
    Alright! Then what should it be? Oh? Ah? Oo? Yes? If I get a simple translation of it, I can change those asap.

    Also, please hold all communications, Book 5 is about to Teleport in...
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
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    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  2. - Top - End - #182
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 673 to 693
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Book | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 673
    Too Slow
    Roy, Belkar, Durkon, Pigtailed Pickpocket, Lizardfolk Pickpocket, Haley, Mr. Scruffy, Elan

    Roy: Here we are, gang: The town of Sandsedge, first stop on our journey.
    Belkar: This dump? This place is a "town" the way I'm a "contributing member of society".
    Roy: Don't let the tents fool you, Belkar. There are traders here from all over the Western Continent. We should have no problem finding what we need to venture into the Great Barren Desert. And the faster we get ready, the more likely we can get to Girard's Gate before Xykon finds his phylactery.
    Belkar: I still don't see why Bristle Steeliepanties over here can't just cast Wind Walk on all of us. We could breeze our way to the Gate in like an hour!
    Durkon: Tha desert wind're much too strong fer tha. We'd be blown halfway ta-
    (D): The desert winds are much too strong for that. We'd be blown halfway to-
    Pigtailed Pickpocket: Ha ha! Catch me if you - Oh!
    <sfx> THUD!
    Durkon: Oof!
    Pigtailed Pickpocket: Oh! I'm sorry!
    Durkon: It's okay, lass, jus' keep an eye on where yer goin' an' don' play where'n ye could get hurt.
    (D): It's okay, lass, just keep an eye on where you're going and don't play where you could get hurt.
    Pigtailed Pickpocket: Yes, sir, Mr. Dwarf.
    Durkon: Now, run along, young'ns.
    Lizardfolk Pickpocket: <whispering> Did you get his purse?
    Pigtailed Pickpocket: <whispering> Duh! Of course!
    Lizardfolk Pickpocket: <whispering> Open it! Open it!
    <letter text> Not on my watch, Pigtails. -H
    Pigtailed Pickpocket: I don't get it, where's the money?
    Lizardfolk Pickpocket: Hey! My purse!
    Haley: Seriously, Durkon, if you're going to get your pocket picked in every city we visit, could you at least try to attract higher level thieves? 12 silver and some pieces of string is sort of a waste of my talents.
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow! Meow!
    Belkar: Mr. Scruffy calls dibs on the string!
    Elan: Awww, man!

    Spoiler: Strip 674
    The Elf Who Cried Raven
    Roy, Haley, Durkon, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Elan, Durkon, Blackwing

    Roy: OK, gang, Belkar says he has a lead on what I need for the mission, so let's split up, do some shopping, and meet back at this spot. Preferably sometime before the end of the book.
    Haley: I've got loot to sell, so Elan and I will hit the magic item tents.
    Durkon: I'll join ye, lass.
    (D): I'll join you, lass.
    Vaarsuvius: In that case, we shall seek out a vendor of reagents and components, so that we may purchase those required by my most powerful spells.
    Roy: "We"?
    Vaarsuvius: ... Yes, that is the pronoun I used.
    Roy: Vaarsuvius, you're the only one left. Who are you going with?
    Belkar: Please tell me you haven't cracked and started using the royal third person.
    Vaarsuvius: I refer to my raven familiar, Blackwing, who shall accompany me in this task as he has done for all others. Long have I neglected him, but that has now concluded. He has agreed to be a more active participant in our quest.
    Roy: ... Your what, now?
    Belkar: You have a familiar? When did you get a familiar?
    Haley: Huh, I didn't know that.
    Vaarsuvius: You did not- Miss Starshine, you were the one who bequeathed upon him his Common name!
    Haley: I was? I don't remember that.
    Roy: V, I think I would remember seeing a bird hanging around this whole time.
    Vaarsuvius: No, no, you do not understand. My raven only appeared when I acknowledged his existence.
    Elan: Oh! Like an imaginary friend!
    Vaarsuvius: No!
    Roy: Wouldn't a familiar have been involved in all our adventures so far, though?
    Haley: Yeah, where was this alleged raven when you were turned into a lizard?
    Belkar: Or when you were attacked by that death knight?
    Vaarsuvius: But- but he was actually THERE for those events!!
    Haley: Was he?
    Vaarsuvius: Look- look here. He is perched upon my shoulder this very moment.
    Belkar: I don't see anything.
    Vaarsuvius: That is because you have the sensory acuity of loose gravel, you moron!
    Vaarsuvius: ... Did you just call me a cutie?
    Roy: It's a very convincing illusion of a crow, V, but I don't understand why you're trying so hard to convince us that it's been there all along when it clearly hasn't.
    Vaarsuvius: It is not a crow, it is a RAVEN!
    Durkon: Aye, aye, a raven. Best na ta challenge tha delusion.
    (D): Aye, aye, a raven. Best not to challenge the delusion.
    Roy: Look, whatever you and your pretend pet bird and to go do, fine, just be back here in, say, two hours.
    Haley: I think that super-spell V cast may have knocked a few pieces loose upstairs.
    Durkon: Aye, it's tragic, really.
    Elan: SIlent Image. Look, I have a familiar now, too!
    Blackwing: Now that you feel my pain, the healing can begin.
    Vaarsuvius: I require a reminder as to why raining arcane destruction is not an appropriate response to all of life's indignities. Quickly, please, before they are out of range.

    Spoiler: Strip 675
    It Costs an Armor Leg
    Armorer, Haley, Elan, Durkon

    Armorer: Welcome to my armory tent. How may I be of service?
    Haley: I'm looking for some new magic armor. I get hit more often than a blackjack player facing a deck of deuces. I'd like to ditch these long leather pants and get something more appropriate to the desert heat.
    Armorer: You're wearing long pants?
    Haley: Yeah, I know, the way we're drawn makes it sort of hard to tell.
    Elan: For the first 100 strips, I thought I was barefoot.
    Armorer: Let's see... how about this one? It offers superior magical protection from wounds and the heat.
    Haley: I like the desert color scheme... I'll try it.
    Armorer: Can I get you anything?
    Elan: No thanks, armor interferes with my class abilities.
    Armorer: Perhaps one of our magic belts, then?
    Elan: Oh! Well, I guess my pants can use all the help they can get staying on.
    Haley: What do you think?
    Elan: Um, Haley, I thought those were only for our private time.
    Haley: Four people on the treet have accidentally addressed me as "young man" since we got here. I think some flaunting is in order.
    Durkon: Tha's na leather armor! Leather armor be stiff an' boiled ta deflect blows.
    (D): That's not leather armor! Leather armor is stiff and boiled to defect blows.
    Armorer: Of course, men's leather armor. Women's leather armor pretty much amounts to any attractive outfit that has one or more leather items in it. I once sold a winsome young lass a leather headband that was more effective than plate.
    Haley: I'll take it.
    Armorer: Very good. That will be 25,000 gold pieces.
    Haley: I doubt this has 25,000 molecules in it. I'll give you 10 grand at most.
    Armorer: 20,000 gp, as long as you don't mind my children starving.
    Haley: I'll have the dwarf summon some food for them. 14 thousand.
    Armorer: 16,000 gp and I'll dye your boots to match for free.
    Haley: Done! But dye these ones instead, OK?
    Elan: What just happened there, with all the big numbers and stuff?
    Haley: It's called haggling, honey. It's pretty common around here. Rather than paying the asking price, the buyer and the seller argue over what it's worth until they agree.
    Elan: Oooo! I want to try!
    Haley: No, Elan, wait-
    Elan: How much for this Belt of Charisma?
    Armorer: 6000 gp
    Elan: I'll give you 8000
    Armorer: ... Done.
    Elan: YES! I got it in one try! I am totally the best haggler ever!
    Durkon: Och, tha's gotta smart.
    (D): Och, that's got to smart.
    Haley: Nah, I included a fairly substantial "Elan Tax" in the initial budget for this shopping trip. Though I did expect him to spend most of it purchasing local bridges.

    Spoiler: Strip 676
    There's More Than One Way to Fail a Listen Check
    Human Prostitute, Lizardfolk Prostitute, Implanted Lizardfolk Prostitute, Roy, Belkar

    Human Prostitute: Hey, good lookin', how about a party?
    Lizardfolk Prostitute: Once you go scaly, you'll be back daily.
    Implanted Lizardfolk Prostitute: How about the best of both worlds, baby?
    Roy: No thanks, I think just the visual image you present has sent my libido back into its cave for six more weeks of winter.
    Belkar: Sorry, ladies.
    Human Prostitute: Face it, girlfriend, you shouldn't have spent all your savings on those implants.
    Lizardfolk Prostitute: Yeah, who ever heard of a reptile with boobs? Ridiculous!
    Implanted Lizardfolk Prostitute: I was just trying to stay current!
    Roy: Belkar, are we almost there? I'd like to get what I need and get back.
    Belkar: Well, you would almost be there if you weren't so picky.
    Roy: Picky?
    Belkar: Yeah, that was like the 15th hooker you've turned down.
    Roy: What? Belkar, I didn't ask you to find a prostitute for me!
    Belkar: I know, but I don't think we have time to find someone to give you that "sex taint" you asked me about for free.
    Roy: Sextant, Belkar! I asked you to find a place where I could get a sextant!
    Belkar: Right, a sex taint. And if you would just hurry up and pick someone to rub down your potion factory for you, we can get back to the others.
    Roy: No, it's- A sextant is a navigational tool, it reads the altitude of the sun or the stars so you can figure out where you are. Shojo gave me the coordinates for Girard's Gate that Soon left behind when he founded the Sapphire Guard, but I need a map, some almanacs, and a sextant to make any sense of them- especially since the Gate is in the middle of the desert, where there are no landmarks. Now you told me you could lead me to what I needed. Is this true or not?
    Belkar: Hey, when I said that, I thought you were looking for whores. Navigational tools are a lot less aromatic.
    Roy: Fine. I'll find a cartographer myself, then.
    Belkar: A what?
    Roy: A cartographer. If I could find one in this town, I'm sure they'd have everything we need there.
    Belkar: You know what? I'm going to find that for you, Roy. Because I'm the party tracker, that's my job, right? So just relax while I lead you right to a-
    Roy: ...This is a cart of gophers, isn't it?
    Belkar: I wasn't sure what you're using them for, so I also had the dealer throw in a wagon of chinchillas. You know, as backup.

    Spoiler: Strip 677
    This Never Happens to Jiminy Cricket
    Apprentice, Wizard, Process Server, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing

    <sign text> NO SPELLCASTING!
    Apprentice: Master, I talked the shopkeeper down to only 400 gp for the rubies!
    Wizard: Great, but the spell calls for 500gp worth, so go back in and buy more.
    Process Server: Hey! HEY! Elf! They said you grabbed the last of the diamond dust. I need that.
    Vaarsuvius: Surely, the sting of this failure will spur you to arrive in a more timely fashion in all of your future endeavors.
    Process Server: I don't think you understand, apprentice. Whatever spell your master is casting isn't actually important. My spells are.
    Vaarsuvius: I assure you, I am apprentice to none and my need for this item is far more urgent than any business you could have.
    Process Server: No, see, if you are denying ME, then you clearly don't have the mental faculties required to handle the really complex spells.
    Vaarsuvius: Excuse me??
    Process Server: Are you multiclass, maybe? There is no shame in dabbling.
    Vaarsuvius: I have held power about which even the mightiest archmage can do naught but write bad self-insert fan fiction! Perhaps a demonstration would be-
    Blackwing: No, don't! He's just trying to get a rise out of you. He's hoping that you'll fly off the handle and cast a spell at him- and then we'll get kicked out of the shop before we can pay for the diamond dust. You're smarter than that, V. Don't let your pride screw up the mission.
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, of course. Perhaps your magical prowess does outweigh my own, but we shall never know- as I intend to leave town today. With the entire jar of diamond dust in my possession, I might add.
    Process Server: You know, I think I was wrong. It's not that you're weak and incompetent, it's just that I think maybe you're not really a wizard.
    Blackwing: Steady... you can do this, V.
    Process Server: You could be a sorcerer. It would account for the dull glassy look in your beady little eyes. No, that's still not right. Sorcerers can still manage to put one word in front of the other. I know! You must be- a warlock!
    Vaarsuvius: WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!?
    Blackwing: V, don't! You need to keep your temper under- Wait a second, is that a bauble? I could use a shiny new bauble.
    Vaarsuvius: I illustrate my area of expertise thusly: Quickened Lightning Bolt!
    <sfx> ZZZAPP!
    Blackwing: And it's on a dangly thing! I love dangly things!

    Spoiler: Strip 678
    First Step in the Process
    Process Server, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Process Server's Familiar

    Process Server: At this point, allow me to retract my thoroughly objectionable statements, and add that I personally regret any inconvenience that I may have caused you with my rash invectives.
    Vaarsuvius: "Inconvenience" does not begin to describe the situation, you pompous windbag. My dwarven companion and I require that diamond dust for a task of literally universal significance- And now I will no longer be permitted to purchase it!
    Process Server: How is that MY fault? YOU attacked ME!
    Vaarsuvius: Subsequent to your deliberate provocation!
    Blackwing: Hey, hey, look: Mistakes were made all around, but the important thing is that this needless conflict is now over WITHOUT the loser's entire family line getting totally eradicated. So, you know. Progress.
    Process Server: Please, let me go and I will give you this scroll as tribute. It contains several rare and powerful spells. All I beg is that I be allowed to know the name of the one who has defeated me so thoroughly.
    Vaarsuvius: Very well. When your peers ask you who so soundly thrashed you in the market this day- you may tell them that you were humbled by Vaarsuvius, former student of-
    Process Server: Served.
    Process Server's Familiar: And witnessed. *ribbit*
    Process Server: Teleport!
    <sfx> pop!
    Blackwing: That was weird. Are the spells any good?
    Vaarsuvius: It is not a scroll. My mate is suing me for divorce. And full custody of the children.
    Blackwing: But you were only back home two days ago! How did the legal papers get filed so quickly?
    <scroll text> Drawmij's Instant Summons

    Spoiler: Strip 679
    Oh, Right, That Other Problem...
    Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Inkyrius

    Blackwing: Looks like there's a hearing set for next week... all the way back in Ivyleaf.
    Vaarsuvius: I have been such a fool, and yet I have learned nothing! I still evoke first and make inquiries afterward! I must be more judicious with my application of my magical might. If I had paused to consider my mate Inkyrius' words more thoroughly when I was last at home, rather than careening off to squander my pilfered power, there would not have been someone trying to serve process on me in the first place.
    Blackwing: Well, I don't think it was JUST because of that, you know.
    Vaarsuvius: ... What do you mean?
    Blackwing: You've been away from home for years, and even when you were there... Well...
    Inkyrius: I made white truffle soufflé for dinner, and the kids are at my parents.
    Vaarsuvius: Excellent! I shall eat in the library, then, to take best advantage of the silence.
    <end flashback>
    Vaarsuvius: Are you implying that I have been a less-than-attentive mate?
    Blackwing: Oh, no, you would never ignore someone to whom you are bonded. Whatever was I thinking? I'm just saying, you take people for granted- you assume that they will be there when you want them and get out of your way when you don't. As a mage's familiar, well, that pretty much comes with the territory. But I think a mate expects more. Maybe that apology you made to me could have been better directed toward home.
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh* You are likely correct. All of those months at sea, I wanted nothing more than to pursue the goal with which we have found ourselves. And now that we have returned to it, I find that I want only to leave, so that I might throw myself at my love's feet and beg forgiveness. I have already sacrificed my marriage for fleeting power, but at least now I sacrifice my chance of reconciliation for something I hope will prove slightly nobler: the fate of all of us. I wll stay with the party. I will not contest the divorce. Perhaps... they will be safer without me.
    Blackwing: Hey, don't forget that you saved them from that dragon.
    Vaarsuvius: Yes... a dragon by which they would never have been threatened were it not for their connection to myself. Return. Let them live the peaceful lives of a baker's family, then. My path beckons me to still darker destinations, I fear.
    <sfx> poof!
    Blackwing: I will take all of your diamond dust, Señor. And one bauble, please.

    Spoiler: Strip 680
    That's Why It's Called a Running Gag
    Haley, Elan, Cartographer, Belkar, Roy, Durkon

    Haley: About two years ago, I received a letter- from the government of a kingdom called Tyrinaria- that my father Ian was begin held random. Now, after many adventures, I've sold the loot I collected from the defeat of my rival and finally earned enough money to buy his freedom- So why the heck can't I find the friggin' country in a tent full of maps?!?
    Elan: Maybe it's in one of the big blue parts...
    Haley: The blue parts are oceans, Elan.
    Elan: Ohhhhh. Neat!
    Haley: Hey, cartographer chick. Why can't I find the country I'm looking for on any of your maps?
    Cartographer: It probably doesn't exist anymore.
    Haley: Come again?
    Cartographer: See, the elves have the forested north half of the continent sealed up, and most of the rest is desert. The humans and the lizard races have been fighting over the livable scraps that are left for 500 years.
    Cartographer: <voiceover> Every year, half a dozen new hotshot military "geniuses" raise an army each and conquer themselves a new kingdom.
    Cartographer: <voiceover> Within a year, most of them've been assassinated, or had their country steamrolled by THAT year's new conquerers.
    Cartographer: That's why cartography is such a hot business for me. People always need new maps!
    Haley: But don't you keep the old ones?
    Cartographer: Why bother? "Two years ago" is ancient history around here. Customers want what's fresh, and I need to keep a light inventory.
    Haley: And you don't remember a country called "Tyrinaria"?
    Cartographer: Eh, all the would-be emperors have cheesy names like that. Right now, there's a Dictatoria, a Cruelvania, and two Despotanias.
    Elan: Two?
    Cartographer: East and West. But it might be worth asking around in this new place that's-
    Belkar: Geez, if you wanted a mapmaker, why didn't you just say so?
    Haley: That's Belkar! And ROY! Hide!
    Elan: Huh?
    Cartographer: No, sir, the Jazz Club is three blocks down.
    Roy: I said "sextant" not "sax tent"!
    Elan: <whispering> Psssst! Why are we hiding?
    Haley: <whispering> I don't want the others to know about my dad.
    Elan: <whispering> Oh! Is that why we ditched Durkon?
    Haley: Look, Durkon! An advance scout for the arboreal army!
    Durkon: They musta allied wit' Xykon! Ye warn tha others, I'll hold it off!
    (D): They must have allied with Xykon! You warn the others, I'll hold it off!
    <end flashback>
    Haley: Look, I'm not proud of what I did - but I needed an easy recurring joke to cover my getaway and there were no flumphs available, OK?

    Spoiler: Strip 681
    All in the Family
    Elan, Haley, Old Woman, Ian Starshine

    Elan: I don't understand, Haley. Why can't we just ask Roy to help us find your dad?
    Haley: It's... it's complicated.
    Elan: Oh! I get it.
    Haley: You do?
    Elan: Sure. People tell me things are complicated when they won't like what they'll hear if they tell me out loud.
    Haley: *sigh* Yeah, that's pretty much it... Look, I'm as dedicated to this lich-and-gate thing as anyone. I don't get to live happily ever after with my hunk of bardic love and a substantial profit margin unless we save the world. But let's face it, I've given Roy reason to question my commitment to the team before, and he has enough on his plate with Belkar. The bottom line is, I'm not telling Roy because I don't want him thinking I'm gonna skip out to go find my dad just because we're on the same continent.
    Elan: So, you're not going to find him?
    Haley: Of course I am, but not until after all of this. Now that we're finally back on track, I need to focus on the goal. My dad's done hard time before, he'll be OK. Assuming he's even still in jail, if the kingdom went belly up.
    Elan: So... why can't you just tell Roy everything you just told me? I'm sure he'd understand.
    Haley: I've just barely gotten a grip on being honest with YOU, baby. Being honest with everyone is still on my personal To-Do list. Let me ask you this: When you were little, how did your mom teach you to treat new people?
    Elan: She said to welcome them with a smile and be friendly and open, and they would see what a decent and caring person I was.
    Haley: Right, because she was a waitress. Her income was directly tied to how welcome she could make the people who sat at her table feel. My dad? Raised me a little differently.
    Old Woman: What a sweet little girl! Did your Mommy make that dress for you?
    Haley: No, my Mommy went to heaven last year.
    Ian: Young lady, don't you EVER tell other people anything true about yourself ever again! What if she used that information against you later? You can't trust anyone but family, Pumpkin.
    <end flashback>
    Haley: He taught me that the best way to protect myself from my enemies is to keep them guessing- and that everyone was a potential enemy. A lesson that I think I took a little too much to heart, really... I almost missed my chance to be with you because of it. But the main thing is, he wouldn't want me to bring anyone else in on rescuing him- especially not law-and-order types like Roy or Durkon.
    Elan: But what about me?
    Haley: You're more "our people" than they are. Plus, you're my boyfriend, which is like family.
    Elan: Hooray! It's exciting being part of a family where they DON'T try to frame you for murder!
    Haley: Oooo, I probably shouldn't tell you about Cousin Sheila, then...

    Spoiler: Strip 682
    Plus, He Probably Spits, Too
    Roy, Elan, Belkar, Durkon

    Roy: I got all that I needed from the mapmaker, so here's the plan: We travel north with this caravan for the first few days, over the rocky parts. Then, we'll split off at the first oasis and head west into the open desert, using the sun and stars as guides. Any questions?
    Elan: Oooo! Oooo! Oooo! Oooo!
    Roy: No, we cannot get our own camel.
    Elan: Awwwww! Why not? They store water for up to 12 days, and we'll need water in the desert!
    Roy: They store water for themselves, Elan. They don't have a tap on the side for us to get a quick drink when we need it! Durkon can create all the water we'll need during- wait. Where's Durkon?
    Elan: Oh, uh, he stopped to pick a fight with a palm tree a while back.
    Roy: For the love of-
    Belkar: No fears, Roy. The New and Improved Belkar Bitterleaf will bring you both what you want. Hey, Dwarf-for-Brains, we're moving out.
    Durkon: Na now, Belkar! I think I finally got 'im on tha ropes! I'll nay let ye corrupt this fine town, ye date-bearing bitch!
    <sfx> thunk!
    (D): Not now, Belkar! I think I finally got him on the ropes! I won't let you corrupt this town, you date-bearing bitch!
    Belkar: Ooooookay. Jump up, Mr. Scruffy.
    <sfx> creeeee...
    Durkon: Ye've come to lend aid? Good man!
    Belkar: Not exactly, on either count. Jump down, Mr. Scruffy.
    <sfx> sproing! WUMP!
    Durkon: Och, mebbe yer right, Belkar. Mebbe I should jus' come-
    (D): Och, maybe you're right, Belkar. Maybe I should just come-
    Belkar: Hold that thought.
    <sfx> thonk!
    Belkar: See? You wanted the dwarf back, and Elan wanted a shaggy, smelly, ill-tempered beast with a hump. Everyone's happy! I love helping people!

    Spoiler: Strip 683
    Whatever You Do, Don't Oscillate
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Slaver, Slaver with Bola

    Belkar: Goddamn it, I am sweating worse than a logger at DruidCon back here! I thought we were going to use magic to cancel the effects of the sun. Can't I get an Endure Heat spell already?
    Durkon: Sorry, I only prepared tha spell five times, an' I cast all o' em already.
    (D): Sorry, I only prepared the spell five times, and I cast all of them already.
    Belkar: But there are SIX of us!
    Durkon: Are there? Gosh golly, I fergot. Musta been all those blows ta tha head I took recently, aye?
    (D): Are there? Gosh golly, I forgot. It must have been all those blows to the head I took recently, aye?
    Belkar: Stupid entirely justified comeuppance...
    Durkon: Heh heh heh.
    Elan: Hey, V - if you translate, do you think I could talk to one of the camels? Y'know, since you're half camel?
    Vaarsuvius: You are a bottomless pit of self-reference, are you not?
    Roy: Hey, can we all shut up about camels for a second, I think I heard-
    Slaver: ATTACK!
    Elan: Wow! Bug-riding beetle bandits! Or beetle-riding bug bandits, I'm not sure.
    Belkar: Come on, we DID bandits once already!
    Roy: If it will make you feel better, they're not bandits –
    Roy: <voiceover> –they're slavers.
    Roy: Split up and protect the civilians!
    Belkar: Great, just what I need, a random encounter to make me work up even more of a sweat. Come here, Beetle Bailey, I've got a trouser full of nut-sweat that I intend to end your life all the more painfully as a result of. Just stand still while I... cut off... your... Ahhhhhhhh.
    <sfx> whoowhoowhoowhoo
    Slaver: Don't you usually need to throw the bola in order to immobilize the target?
    Slaver with Bola: Shut up and get the net.

    Spoiler: Strip 684
    V Was Only Waiting for This Moment to Arise
    Vaarsuvius, Haley, Elan, Blackwing

    Vaarsuvius: Haste!
    Blackwing: What, no huge blasts of lightning?
    Vaarsuvius: Not today, no.
    <sfx> SLASH! SLASH!
    Vaarsuvius: If I am to make any progress in harnessing my less desirable tendencies, then I must learn not to respond to any situation with the most powerful magic available to me. These insectile invaders, while certainly threatening, seem to have no mystical support- and will thus be handily defeated by my comrades. It is not necessary to insert myself into the fray with frivolous displays of arcane dominance just to satisfy my own ego. I will limit myself to low-level enhancement and support unless I find myself personally threatened. Heroism.
    Elan: Thanks for the buff, V. I'll put it to good use for now. Why do you need to attack these poor folks, Beetles? Why can't you just let it be? All you need is shove!
    Elan: <singing> Come together, right now- under me! Here comes the pun! Doo doo doo doo! I'm making a hole where my sword goes in, and stops your brain from wondering... Bang! Bang! Elan's silver rapier comes down upon your-
    Vaarsuvius: CHAIN LIGHTNING!
    Elan: Great job, V! Let's go after the rest!
    Vaarsuvius: You go ahead, we shall catch up.
    Blackwing: What happened to "enhancement and support only"?
    Vaarsuvius: Protecting my brain still constitutes self-defense.

    Spoiler: Strip 685
    On Friendship
    Belkar, Slaver, Buggy Lou, Mr. Scruffy, Elan, Haley

    Belkar: I swear I am going to rip off your stupid bug head and piss down your neck hole!
    Slaver: We got another one, Hive Leader.
    Buggy Lou: Tie him to the riding beetle and let's- Wait a minute- Belkar? Belkar Bitterleaf, is that you?
    Belkar: Who the hell knows my na- wait, is that Buggy Lou??
    Buggy Lou: Yeah! Guys, remember I told you about that stint I did buying slaves over on the Northern Continent? This guy was pals with one of my best suppliers. We used to get drunk together. Heh, those were the days. What are you doing all the way out here?
    Belkar: It's a long story... but I'd take it as a personal favor if we could all sort of wave our weapons around while we talked.
    Buggy Lou: No problem. So, you still talk to your pal?
    Belkar: No, he got tagged by the City Guard a few years back.
    Buggy Lou: Man. So he's doing hard time?
    Belkar: The hardest. He's dead. How about you, though? Hive Leader, eh?
    Buggy Lou: Ha, yeah. It's a small hive, but I've got sixteen mates and all the fermented nectar I can swill.
    Belkar: Nice!
    Buggy Lou: So, listen, you're not going to need to stop us from refreshing our inventory here, are you?
    Belkar: Nah, what do I care? Help yourself. Just take what you need and vamoose, though. The adventurers I'm with will mess you up if they catch you.
    Buggy Lou: Yeah, I'm thinking we'll cut our losses and get out of hwere with what we've got. Good to see you, Bitterleaf.
    Belkar: You too, Lou. Say hello to the missuses for me.
    Buggy Lou: At least we caught ourselves a nice little snack for later, didn't we?
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow?
    Buggy Lou: We still have any of that honey marinade sauce back at the nest?
    Slaver: I think so, Hive Leader.
    Elan: You know, maybe Belkar really HAS turned over a new leaf.
    Haley: He does seem very... enthusiastic about helping these people.
    Belkar: No need to go back to the nest, Lou! I got your marinade RIGHT HERE!
    <sfx> psssssssssssss!
    Buggy Lou: *gurkle*

    Spoiler: Strip 686
    Also, At Lower Altitude
    Haley, Elan, Captured Child, Roy

    Haley: Roy, they're retreating!
    Elan: Hooray! We won!
    Roy: Not yet. Look!
    Captured Child: Help! HELP!!
    Roy: Haley?
    Haley: I don't think so. I might hit the prisoners, and I don't think one round of arrows will stop a bug that big anyway.
    Elan: They're going under the sand!
    Roy: I'm on it, then.
    Haley: Roy, don't! We'll track down their hive later! Roy! ROY!
    <sfx> shTHUNK! splortch!
    Haley: Geez, Roy, what the heck is wrong with you? Are you trying to get yourself killed again? Didn't you learn anything about jumping onto the back of moving monsters?
    Roy: Sure, I did. I learned to do it where the ground is softer!

    Spoiler: Strip 687
    Actually, That's Probably You
    Caravan Man, Roy, Caravan Woman, Belkar, Durkon, White-Haired Caravan Man

    Caravan Man:Those slavers have been attacking caravans for months now. Thank you, Mr. Greenhilt!
    Roy: I'm just sorry some of them got away. We'll need to split off from you in the morning.
    Caravan Man:Thanks to you and your friends, they won't have the numbers to mount an attack like this for a long time.
    Caravan Woman:Most importantly, you single-handedly rescued my son from a life of slavery.
    Caravan Man:For that, my family would like to bestow on you this magical belt.
    Roy: Normally, I would say that you didn't need to do that, but we're sort of on an "every possible advantage needed" type of quest. So I'll just say, "Thank you."
    Caravan Woman:It should increase your strength to that of a giant.
    Caravan Man:We mostly use it to help us load and unload the camels.
    Roy: Oooooooo. Are we talking a +4 sort of giant or a +6 sort of giant?
    Belkar: No one ever hands me a major magic item, you know.
    Durkon: Tha's 'cause yer a horrible lil miscreant.
    (D): That's because you're a horrible little miscreant.
    Belkar: Yeah, but I'm pretending not to be. Trying! Trying not to be.
    Durkon: Well, ye pulled yer weight an' killed tha leader, so I guess tha's at least worth a healin' spell. Cure Light Wounds!
    (D): Well, you pulled your weight and killed the leader, so I guess that's at least worth a healing spell. Cure Light Wounds!
    Belkar: Thank you for generously healing the sunburn I only had because of you.
    White-haired Caravan Man: Excuse me... my wife sent me over here to give you this.
    Belkar: What the hell? Is it some kind of trap?
    White-haired Caravan Man: No, no! It's just a token of our-
    Belkar: Oh, so it's a tribute payment. Hand it over.
    White-haired Caravan Man: A what?
    Belkar: You know, you pay me in the hopes that I don't kill you. It's a good start, but I can't make any promises.
    Roy: BELKAR! Belkar, the box is a GIFT. You saved this man's life - however incidental it may have been to your own violent rampage- and he's thanking you with a gift. The proper response is to accept it graciously.
    Belkar: So I did exactly what I always do - murder people horribly - but because I killed the people everyone else wanted me to kill, I get presents instead of prison time?
    Roy: Uh, well, it's a lot more complicated than that, but-
    Belkar: HA HA HA HA HA HA! It's working! IT'S WORKING, SUCKERS!!
    White-haired Caravan Man: Is that... normal?
    Roy: Not so much "normal" as "par for the course."
    Belkar: Hey, who's the least popular person around here? Turns out it's OK for me to kill them if everyone agrees on it!

    Spoiler: Strip 688
    The Comics Must Flow
    Roy, Haley, Belkar, Elan, Durkon

    Roy: What is that smell? It's been in my nose ever since we left the caravan.
    Haley: It's Belkar's gift from the spice merchant. He's been practically chugging it for the last few hours.
    Belkar: This is... damn, this stuff is amazing. It's like you crystallized the best sex you've ever had with a woman and put it on a tiny bottle in your spice rack. No, wait, it's like you took that spice and snorted it while screwing her hotter sister. In front of her. Elan, you should totally taste this. It will change your life.
    Elan: Sure, I'll try some.
    Belkar: Oh, no, I meant, you know, hypothetically.
    Elan: ... Does "hypothetically" mean "on toast"?
    Belkar: No.
    Haley: Belkar, are you sure this stuff is safe? Your eyes look a little weird.
    Belkar: Let me tell you, "safe" is for NPCs. I live on the edge.
    Haley: Seriously, Belkar, we are not lugging your misogynistic little butt around if you make yourself sick again.
    Belkar: Fine, fine, I'll read the packaging if it will make you feel better, Mom. No, it doesn't say anything about eye color change. Just a disclaimer that the distributor is not liable for any gruesome violent deaths resulting from consuming this product in an open desert. So see? It's perfectly safe for- ... Ah, crap.
    Roy: HOLY-!! It must be attracted to the spice!
    Belkar: You think?
    Durkon: Och, it's times like this, I wish I had a 500-foot tall bottle o' tequila!
    (D):Och, it's times like this, I wish I had a 500-foot tall bottle of tequila!
    Roy: I don't think that would work to drown the worm.
    Durkon: Who said anythin' aboot tha worm? I jus' wanna get too blitzed ta rememb'r this!
    (D): Who said anything about the worm? I just want to get too blitzed to remember this!

    Spoiler: Strip 689
    Live Bait
    Elan, Belkar, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Haley, Mr. Scruffy, Durkon

    Elan: I can calm it with poetry!
    Belkar: Have you gone nuts? Nuts-er??
    Elan: But Christopher Walken said, "Talk without rhythm, and you won't distract the worm!"
    Roy: Right idea, oddly, but wrong method. V?
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed. Charm Monster!
    Haley: Awesome! Now we can just hightail it out of here while it stares lovingly at us.
    Belkar: Just like when we dropped Grandma Bitterleaf off at the nursing home.
    Roy: Actually, I've got a better idea. One that could help us get where we're going.
    Haley: It involves jumping on it, doesn't it? That's totally going to be a thing with you from now on, I can tell.
    Vaarsuvius: Before you bound upon it, I should point out that without a means of communicating with the creature, you will be unable to command it, charm or no charm.
    Roy: Duly noted. I've got my means right here.
    Belkar: Hey! Hands off, bigfoot!
    Roy: How much of that spice do you have left?
    Belkar: None. I downed the last of it when the big worm showed up. So there.
    Roy: Then we're just going to have to do this the hard way. We know the worm is attracted to the spice, and Belkar's body is saturated with the stuff.
    Belkar: What are you doing?! You're the nuts-est of them all!
    Mr. Scruffy: hisss!
    Roy: If we dangle him in front of what passes for its nose, it will move forward to find the source of the smell-
    Durkon: An' carry us wit it!
    (D): And carry us with it!
    Haley: Like a donkey with a carrot!
    Belkar: Wait just a goddamn minute! Hasn't anyone considered how I might feel about this? About the danger this puts me in? Hasn't anyone weighed whether or not it's ethically acceptable to use me like- Bwa ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, gods, I almost got through that with a straight face. Heh heh, man. OK, dangle away.

    Spoiler: Strip 690
    Riders on the Worm
    Roy, Durkon, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Elan, Haley

    Roy: Let's see... OK. I think we need to bear three degrees and... eight minutes to starboard.
    Durkon: Ooch! "Starboard" means ta tha right!
    (D): Och! "Starboard" means to the right!
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, thank you. I stayed aboard a ship for half the last book too, you know. Three degrees, eight minutes. Course confirmed.
    Belkar: No, no, no! Don't lean in, he's got a poison tooth!
    Durkon: This's great. At this rate, we'll be standin' at Girard's Gate inna few hours 'nstead o' a few weeks!
    (D): This is great. At this rate, we'll be standing at Girard's Gate in a few hours instead of a few weeks!
    Roy: Actually, we'll be getting off a few miles short of the Gate. Shojo said Girard Draketooth was a pretty powerful illusionist, and we'll be trying to enlist his help in crushing Xykon. Showing up at his doorstep riding on a big monster worm may not leave the best first impression. That's another reason the paladins went to check in on Kraagor's Gate. Apparently, there was no love lost between Girard and Soon. Walking in the door with two of Soon's disciples in tow may have soured him against us. And you prepared True Seeing, right?
    Durkon: Twice, aye.
    Roy: Good, good. I'm not sure what we're going to find when we get there, but I'll be relying on you to pierce any mirages.
    Durkon: I'm surprised, lad! Ye really seem ta have all tha bases cover'd!
    (D): I'm surprised, lad! You really seem to have all the bases covered!
    Roy: Yeah, it's not like I had several months of free time to think about all of this.
    Durkon: Och, right.
    Roy: The scary part is that once we get inside the- I dunno, castle? Dungeon? Whatever. - I'm going to be relying on Elan's diplomacy to persuade Girard to- Wait. Where IS Elan anyway? Or Haley, for that matter?
    Elan: What, here? Now?? What's gotten into you?
    Haley: What? I was just overcome with how much I love you. Though the fact that I've been staring at a huge worm all afternoon may also be a factor.

    Spoiler: Strip 691
    All Available Resources
    Belkar, Durkon, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Elan, Haley

    Belkar: I'm back. My ass feels like I went to an efreet proctologist.
    Durkon: Are ye sure ye got it all out o' yer system?
    (D): Are you sure you got it all out of your system?
    Belkar: It didn't follow me back here, did it?
    Roy: OK, gang, while Belkar was catching up, I took another reading, and I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is, we're here. The bad news is- we're here. This is not completely unexpected, so the plan here is to split up and search the area. Right now, we've got about one square mile to search. I'm going to walk around it and keep taking readings, try to narrow the search area down a little.
    Durkon: An I'll cover tha area in a grid pattern 'til I find it.
    (D): And I'll cover the area in a grid pattern until I find it.
    Vaarsuvius: We shall do likewise from the skies.
    Belkar: "We"?
    Vaarsuvius: Do not start that again.
    Vaarsuvius & Durkon: True Seeing!
    Elan: Ooooo, synchronized spellcasting! Like in the olympics!
    Roy: Haley-
    Haley: Search checks.
    Roy: Right. Belkar, stick with Haley. Help her search, but also keep your nose in the air. Maybe you can smell something that will give it away.
    Elan: And I'll sit quietly and try not to get in anyone else's way.
    Roy: What? Don't be ridiculous. I want you to survey the area and tell me where would be the most dramatically appropriate area for the dungeon to be located. You know, based on the aesthetics of the scenery, that sort of thing.
    Elan: Oh! Oh! I can do that! I'll make you proud of me, Roy!
    Haley: That was really nice of you.
    Roy: Yeah, well, we can use all the help we can get.
    Haley: So... do you really think that will work?
    Roy: Hell, no. I just figured there's like an 80% chance that if he walks around enough, he'll trip over the entrance or something.
    <sfx> thunk!
    Elan: Oww! Hey, I found a treasure chest!

    Spoiler: Strip 692
    Roy, Elan, Haley, Belkar

    Roy: Will you knock it off with that damn lute?!? I'm trying to do calculations in my head!
    Elan: Hey, you told me to use my sense of the dramatic. If there's one thing I know, it's that you can't have a good montage without an 80's-style power ballad in the background!
    Elan: <singing> We're searchin', yeah, searchin' lows and highs! Lookin' for our future beneath orange skies!
    Haley: Maybe we should take 20?
    Belkar: And risk twenty more pages like this? No thanks.

    Spoiler: Strip 693
    Tragically, His Arms Would Be Too Short for the Lute
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Elan, Haley, Illusory Girard Draketooth

    Blackwing: So... when are you going to tell Roy what I saw in the rift?
    Vaarsuvius: At some point after he becomes more accustomed to seeing you on my- Wait! Do you see that?
    Blackwing: Yeah, I do.
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt! Please remain stationary at this time! Has either Master Thundershield or the bard cast any spells near your location?
    Roy: You mean on the area itself? No, not that I'm aware of.
    Vaarsuvius: Then I believe I have located something of importance via Arcane Sight. There is an inactive spell 1.1 meters in front of you, 0.8 meters in elevation.
    Roy: "Inactive"?
    Vaarsuvius: It waits to be triggered by predetermined events, possibly verbal in nature.
    Roy: So, it's not currently hiding an entrance?
    Vaarsuvius: I do not believe so, no.
    Roy: Although... it could BE the entrance.
    Elan: Ooo! Like a spell that teleports you to the dungeon when you say the password. Or maybe the dungeon is really tiny, and the spell shrinks you down so you can fit inside!
    Haley: Since we know this rift is larger than Soon's was, that's pretty unlikely, honey. Also, if we went right into a full-blown "Alice in Wonderland" parody so soon after the sandworm thing, I think we'd all quit.
    Elan: Or maybe only dinosaurs can see the dungeon, and the spell turns us all int-
    Roy: Damn it, Elan, I just got all my old brain cells back! Please stop killing them!
    Vaarsuvius: Those ideas are theoretically possible, if, for example, the cosmos hated us. (A premise I am not ready to dismiss, given our adventures thus far.) However, it does seem as if the spell is of the Illusion school, rather than those of either Transmutation or Conjuration.
    Roy: Illusoin? Well, that certainly seems to point toward Girard... and these are pretty much the exact center of the coordinates Soon handed down to the Sapphire Guard.
    Vaarsuvius: Which leaves the question of whether it is better to trigger the spell or not trigger the-
    Haley: Uh, guys... I think that question is being answered for us!
    Illusory Girard: Keywords accepted: Gate, Girard, Sapphire Guard, Soon. Hello. My name is Girard Draketooth.
    Elan: *Sigh* Maybe next time.
    <drawing text> Elanasaurus Rex

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  3. - Top - End - #183
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 694 to 713
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
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    Spoiler: Strip 694
    Poor Coordination
    Illusory Girard Draketooth, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Haley

    Illusory Girard: If you are hearing this recorded illusion, the heuristic magic has determined that you are at least 90% likely to be Soon Kim-
    Roy: Now, we're getting somewhere!
    Illusory Girard: - or one of his fascist paladin lackeys.
    Vaarsuvius: But it does not appear to be somewhere we would like.
    Illusory Girard: Which raises the question of why you're here, in this spot, saying those things. I mean, logic dictates that you're here specifically to find me or my Gate, or else why would you be standing in the exact coordinates I gave you for it? You do remember logic, don't you? It's the part of your brain that weeps every time you kneel down and pray to a glorified petting zoo. But see, if you're here for the Gate, well... we had an agreement. An agreement that we wouldn't interfere in how we guarded each other's Gate. An agreement that you have now, by all appearances, broken. Luckily for me, I've never trusted authority figures, be they kings, presidents or party leaders. Give a man enough power, and he's bound to abuse it, no matter how noble he thinks he is.
    Blackwing: What an interesting sentiment...
    Vaarsuvius: Be quiet!
    Illusory Girard: I always figured that eventually you'd decide that only you could be trusted with the power of the Snarl, or you'd have some other "greater good" excuse to bring your thugs here to knock on my door- which is why my door is somewhere else.
    Roy: No. Oh, no no no no no no-
    Illusory Girard: That's right, the rift (and the Gate) aren't here at all!
    Roy: Goddamn it!
    Haley: *sigh*
    Illusory Girard: I guess the honor of a paladin may not be able to be broken, but it sure can be suckered. When you asked me for the coordinates to the rift on the Western Continent, I simply lied to you. I gave you the coordinates for here- a completely random spot in the middle of the world's largest desert. Hell, I rolled percentage dice to see where I sent you! I bet delegating all the mapmaking duties to the guy who took two levels of ranger doesn't seem like such a hot move now, huh?

    Spoiler: Strip 695
    Paranoia Will Destroy Ya
    Illusory Girard Draketooth, Haley, Roy, Elan, Belkar

    Illusory Girard: Serini has the true coordinates, but good luck getting her to tell them to you.
    Haley: Roy, didn't O-Chul tell us that Xykon has Serini's diary???
    Roy: Yes.
    Illusory Girard: The spell is set to notify both her and us that you couldn't leave well enough alone.
    Haley: So then the archvillain knows exactly where it is, but we're-
    Roy: Yes, yes, YES!
    Illusory Girard: We even have a pool going over how long it will take for you to break your word and send someone. If it's been no more than 12 weeks, I just won 10,000 gp.
    Roy: He didn't break his word, you paranoid fool!
    Illusory Girard: And Soon, just in case it IS you who's standing here listening to this, let me just add this personal note:
    Roy: What the hell happened between these people to turn them against each other like this?
    Illusory Girard: It should have been you that died in that rift, you cowardly son of a bitch. Allow me to remedy that error now. Say hello to your barnyard gods for me.
    Elan: What does that mean?
    Haley: It means RUN!!!!!
    <sfx> BOOOOM!
    Belkar: ♪ Hey, no fair! You skipped to the part where someone accidentally blows something up without me!

    Spoiler: Strip 696
    Still a Long Way to Go
    Belkar, Roy, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Blackwing

    Belkar: I mean, if this story arc is going to be that short, I needed to get a lot more face time.
    Roy: Belkar, that was NOT the Gate exploding, it was just a booby trap.
    Haley: Yeah, the Gates make more of a "krackakoom!" noise when they explode.
    Vaarsuvius: It is troubling that we can now recognize our failures by immediate auditory familiarity. At any rate, despite our reception being less cordial than we had expected, we HAVE accomplished one of our main objectives: We have put Draketooth on his guard as a result of the signal he will receive vis-á-vis this illusion.
    Haley: On his guard for a paladin, V, not a lich.
    Roy: Yeah, I may want to strangle Girard right now, but we still can't let him get blindsided by an epic-level sorcerer.
    Vaarsuvius: Which is why I have prepared a visual warning, should our illusionist scry the area.
    Roy: ...So, are you planning on-
    Vaarsuvius: There will be a proofing stage, yes.
    Elan: Man, I can't believe the illusion guy lied to the nice ghost-paladin!
    Haley: He was just a regular human back then, honey.
    Elan: Oh. Well then I can't believe the illusion guy lied to the nice ghost-human.
    Roy: I'm going to ignore that and skip directly to saying, "Yeah, I can't believe it either, actually." I knew the members of that party were angry at each other, but I don't understand why Girard assumed a paladin like Soon would break his oath. And I had no idea there was THIS level of animosity between the two of them.
    Belkar: Yeah, gosh, who ever heard of party members trying to blow each other up? Vaarsuvius.
    Vaarsuvius: It seems like a reasonable response to me. As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of solving approaches zero.
    Blackwing: <whispering> Whisper whisper whisper whisper whisper whisper
    Vaarsuvius: And that would be wrong.

    Spoiler: Strip 697
    Stuck in a Sand Trap
    Durkon, Belkar, Roy, Haley, Elan

    Durkon: I could try Communin' wit Thor.
    (D): I could try communing with Thor.
    Belkar: Why, are we looking for a good beard groomer in the area?
    Roy: No offense to your deity, Durkon, but we know that the gods have a blackout on information regarding the Snarl and the rifts. I'm not sure we could trust any answer we got to be true. Haley, check my thinking: Could this be a double-bluff?
    Haley: You mean that the gate really IS here, and the illusion was lying?
    Roy: Yeah.
    Haley: Hmmm. Well, it's obviously possible, but it doesn't seem like a high-percentage deception. Double-bluffs work best when your target is so prepared for you to be lying that they never think to question your admission that you're lying. Soon and his paladins had no reason to think Girard was lying to them in the first place.
    Belkar: Hey, back it up a second, Hair-B-Gone: I thought you said that bluffing against a paladin was easy money?
    Haley: Sure, if you grasp how paladins think. Mr. Booby Trap here clearly doesn't, or he wouldn't have bet on one to break his oath. If the Gate really were here, there would always be a chance that Soon would have found the Gate before he found the message, rendering the trick useless. Considering how easy it would be for the Gate to really be somewhere else... I dunno, it seems like an unnecessary risk to take.
    Roy: I agree. Plus, the desert is so unbelievably large that anyone with more than two brain cells would know better than to try to search the whole thing-
    Haley: - which would lead them to concentrate their search right here again, just in case it WAS a double-bluff. The message would actually increase the chances of someone finding the Gate.
    Durkon: Aye, but wha if Girard thought o' everythin' ye just said, an' did the opposite, just ta trick us?
    (D): Aye, but what if Girard thought of everything you just said, and did the opposite, just to trick us?
    Roy: I think we're quickly approaching the point where it doesn't matter if he did. We've used dozens of divinations and hundreds of skill checks. The fact is, if the Gate IS here, I'm not sure we're equipped to find it. What's more, the clock is ticking. Any lead time we may have had on Xykon has vanished, because he can just teleport right to the Gate - wherever it is - as soon as he has his phylactery.
    Elan: OK, so, how do we search the rest of the desert?
    Roy: Elan, I just said that anyone with more than two- ... Elan, the desert is too big to search the whole thing. Let's stay here the rest of the day, in case Girard sees our message and shows up. We'll concentrate the search right at this spot, too.
    Vaarsuvius: I shall change my shape into one which burrows and search below the sand. Polymorph!
    Durkon: An' I'll try castin' Greater Dispel Magic on the spot. Mebbe I can at least get rid o' tha explosion trap.
    (D): And I'll try casting Greater Dispel Magic on the spot. Maybe I can at least get rid of the explosion trap.
    Elan: Do we need another searching montage, Roy??
    Roy: No! Hopefully this time we can just cut directly to us finding the –
    Roy: ...A searching montage, you say?

    Spoiler: Strip 698
    Stopping for Direction
    Roy, Belkar, Elan, Haley, Belkar, Durkon, Vaarsuvius

    Roy: Goddamn it, I hate dead ends!
    Belkar: Said the cold hard ground to the falling fighter.
    Roy: Do we have any ideas at all, or are we just going to sit and stare at the sand for the rest of the campaign??
    Elan: Hey, we could go back to the Oracle! I bet she would know where it is!
    Haley: I think Belkar may have stabbed him, honey.
    Roy: Oh! Yeah, but he got better.
    Haley: Better enough to have forgiven Belkar for stabbing him?
    Roy: ... Point.
    Belkar: Why would I stab an Oracle? Wait, what am I saying? Why wouldn't I stab an Oracle?
    Durkon: We could try ta find Serini.
    (D): We could try to find Serini.
    Roy: I guess... but she could be anywhere in the world, or even on another plane. Or dead!
    Durkon: Aye, but Vaarsuvius develop'd some keen people-findin' spells. 'Fore 'e went wonky tahr fer a while.
    (D): Aye, but Vaarsuvius developed some keen people-finding spells. Before he went wonky there for a while.
    Haley: That's true. None of them have worked on Girard so far, but he's probably better warded than a halfling rogue would be.
    Roy: Hmmm. Well, I don't think we'll risk very much by trying. Sounds good. What do you say, V?
    Vaarsuvius: "Us."
    Roy: Please tell me this isn't about that bird again.
    Vaarsuvius: Draketooth's illusion said that it would "notify both her and us," with "her" presumably being the halfling. I would have noticed it earlier, but I do not normally pay attention to pronouns.
    Roy: OK, so... what? What does that get us?
    Vaarsuvius: If there is an "us" to notify rather than a "me," then presumably he is referring to a group of which the halfling is not a member. His own confederates, perhaps.
    Haley: He did mention a betting pool. That implies more than two people.
    Roy: So he has a bunch of allies sitting around in his dungeon. Again, so what?
    Haley: Not "sitting around"- the wager was for cash.
    Roy: ... And gold pieces are useless if you never go out to spend them.
    Haley: Well, they're shiny. That counts for a lot. But yeah.
    Roy: Brilliant! So whoever his allies are, they likely make at least occasional trips outside for supplies and such.
    Vaarsuvius: He certainly does not seem to be the type to rely upon clerical aid to produce food magically.
    Durkon: But whar? Thar're prob'bly hundreds o' villages borderin' tha desert.
    (D): But where? There're probably hundreds of villages bordering the desert.
    Haley: It would make sense to go to the biggest city. Not only would they be lost in the crowd, but they could get all their stuff in one place.
    Belkar: Not that I don't love raining on your logic parade, but what are the chances someone is actually making a supply trip right now?
    Haley: Better than you'd think- since one of them has 10,000 gp burning a hold in their purse!
    Roy: With the volatile political situation around here, there aren't THAT many cities for us to check. I count three, four... five, plus back to Sansedge for good measure.
    <map text> Elven Lands. Goaway Mountains. ***
    Durkon: Once we leave tha desert, I can use me Wind Walk spell ta move us from one ta tha next quickly.
    (D): Once we leave the desert, I can use my Wind Walk spell to move us from one to the next quickly.
    Elan: I'll check the taverns!
    Vaarsuvius: I shall investigate any mage guilds or the like.
    Haley: I'll make contact with the local thieves.
    Belkar: Dibs on the brothels!
    Haley: Belkar!
    Roy: No, it's a good idea. These people spend all their time cooped up together.
    Belkar: You get a weekend pass with ten grand in your hand, you're gonna want a little somethin' somethin' before you head back.
    Roy: But you have to check prostitutes for both genders.
    Belkar: Fine, but don't say I don't ever make sacrifices for the team.
    Roy: You don't ever make sacrifices for the team.
    Belkar: ... True.
    Roy: OK, well... I think we have a plan.
    Elan: Hooray!!
    Vaarsuvius: I hesitate to raise the question, but what if any of the many assumptions we are making turn out to be inaccurate? What if they, for example, teleport to Cliffport for their supplies?
    Roy: Then we're screwed, obviously. But it's still better than trying to scan every square inch of half a million square miles of sand. If we come up with something better, we go with that. But along the way we cast every spell we know to contact Serini- and buy any additional magic we can find that would help us search for the Gate.
    Vaarsuvius: Hmmm. A scroll of Discern Location would be most helpful.
    Roy: And in the morning, we Send to Hinjo. Keep him in the loop.
    Haley: The nearest edge of the desert is only four days to the north-northeast. If we start walking now.
    Elan: No reason to stick around here, then. Lead the way!

    Spoiler: Strip 699
    Escape Clause
    Monster in the Darkness, Hobgoblin, Demon Roach 1, Demon Roach 2, Redcloak

    Monster in the Darkness: ESCAPE! I said, "ESCAPE"! Escape! Exit! Vanish! Scram! Vamoose! Skedaddle!
    Demon Roach 1: Egress!
    Demon Roach 2: Abscond!
    Monster in the Darkness: Darn it, why isn't it working?
    Hobgoblin: Are you sure the Supreme Leader said this was OK?
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh yeah, he gave me a direct order.
    Monster in the Darkness: Hey Redcloak, I need-
    Redcloak: Go bother someone else.
    <end flashback>
    Hobgoblin: OK, well, maybe you can tell me what it is you're trying to do?
    Monster in the Darkness: I'm trying to make you disappear. No, wait, what's the word? Tell-a-pork.
    Hobgoblin: ... Teleport?
    Monster in the Darkness: Yeah.
    Demon Roach 1: Quick, go trademark "teleporking".
    Demon Roach 2: We'll make a fortune on the internet!
    Hobgoblin: Teleporting usually requires some form of magic. You're just shouting synonyms at me.
    Monster in the Darkness: But I don't know any magic! Magic is for smart people, usually, and everyone here tells me that I'm as dumb as things that are really dumb.
    Hobgoblin: Then let's forget the whole thing and I can get back to work.
    Monster in the Darkness: But I need to know if my friend is safe!
    Demon Roach 1: That jerk?
    Monster in the Darkness: What if I - uh, I mean, someone - accidentally teleported him into the ocrean? Or into a wall? Or into a big pit of angry tortoises?? What if he ended up on one of those other planes everyone's always talking about? He doesn't have a carry-on with him. And no one checked his shoes! How can he be safe if no one checked his shoes?!?
    Hobgoblin: Yeah, OK, I'm getting the feeling that I should have been doing anything else this whole time.
    Monster in the Darkness: No, wait! Come back! Please, I need to know! He's my best friend ever! ... ESCAPE!
    Demon Roach 2: I thought you'd never ask.
    Demon Roach 1: Wait up.

    Spoiler: Strip 700
    They Would Likely Both Disagree with That Sentiment
    Wight, Monster in the Darkness, Tsukiko

    Wight: Mistress, you have a visitor.
    Monster in the Darkness: Uh, hi. I know I'm not allowed in your room, because of the thing with the peanut butter, but I thought you could help me. You know, since you do both.
    Tsukiko: Hey, I don't know where you heard that rumor, but I didn't know that crypt-thing was a woman. It's hard to tell when they're just a skeleton.
    <sign text> Keep out!
    Monster in the Darkness: What? No, I mean, you know both arcane and divine magic.
    Tsukiko: Oh, right. Never mind that other thing, then.
    Monster in the Darkness: See, I need magic to find a friend of mine and make sure he's safe.
    Tsukiko: I would love to help you, except that I have no interest in helping you. Lord Xykon asked me to learn this way complicated magical ritual and then explain it to him. He asked me, do you get it? This is my chance to prove my worth and earn his love. Too bad it makes, like, no sense at all...
    Monster in the Darkness: I don't think Xykon has any love to ear, Tsukiko.
    Tsukiko: Sure he does, he just hides it beneath that though bony exterior.
    Monster in the Darkness: He doesn't hide anything beneath his bones. I've seen.
    Tsukiko: Look, everyone knows that the undead are the antithesis of life, right? Except, people are jerks. Lying, untrustworhty jackasses, every one of them. Everyone knows this, too. So, logically, undead must be the opposite of that: caring, sensitive, honest souls who are oppressed by the living majority and their negative stereotypes. They just need someone like me who understand them, so that they can realize it.
    Monster in the Darkness: And the bloodsucking, and level-draining?
    Tsukiko: Natural defense against predation.
    Monster in the Darkness: Ummm, yeah, I don't really think it works that way.
    Tsukiko: We'll see how it works when Xykon sweeps me off my feet and tells me I'm the only minion for him. Now get out of my romm.
    Monster in the Darkness: Fine! Read your stupid half of a ritual, I'll find someone else to help me!
    Tsukiko: Sounds good to- …Of course! Half a ritual! That's way it doesn't make any sense, I'm reading th middle of a spell and thinking it's the beginning! So if this is really the second line of the chant, then... yes, yes, that's it! Ha ha! Hey! You! Come back tonight, and I'll cast whatever spell you want to help find your friend.
    Monster in the Darkness: Really? Hooray! You know, I really didn't like her at first, but I guess she's not that bad.
    <sfx> munch. munch. munch.

    Spoiler: Strip 701
    Curtains for You
    Demon Roach, Hobgoblin, Hobgoblin Cleric 1, Hobgoblin Cleric 2, Monster in the Darkness, Redcloak

    Monster in the Darkness: <singing> Gonna find my pal the paladin!
    Hobgoblin: HEY! Where have you been? We've been looking all over for you!
    Monster in the Darkness: I didn't do it! And if I did do it, I didn't know I could do it until I did it!
    Hobgoblin: What? No, we need you to pull something.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh! OK, but I should warn you that I'm a lot better at pushing than pulling. Pulling has all those tricky parts where you hold something AND move it. At the same time!
    Hobgoblin: Just stand here and when I point to you, pull the rope.
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: So we're waiting on the Supreme Leader?
    Hobgoblin Cleric 2: He'll be here soon. He's in his study.
    Redcloak: It'll all be worth it. You'll see.
    Redcloak: I'm ready.
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: OK, people, we're ready, Let's all make history.
    Hobgoblin: Now!
    Monster in the Darkness: Now?
    Hobgoblin: Now!
    <sfx> squeak squeak
    Monster in the Darkness: Listen to all those cheers. I guess they really appreciate a good pull.
    Demon Roach: Don't we all, kid? Don't we all?

    Spoiler: Strip 702
    One for the History Books
    Hobgoblin 1, Hobgoblin 2, Hobgoblin Cleric 1, Hobgoblin Cleric 2, Hobgoblin Cleric 3, Redcloak

    Redcloak: My fellow goblinoids: I don't need to tell you that it has been a hard week. After the unprovoked terrorist attack on this very tower by elven insurgents, many of you have been uprooted from the work routine to which you may have become accustomed. -in order to help me with a very secret "project". In just six weeks, we will mark the one-year anniversary of our conquest of Azure City. It is with mixed emotions that I must tell you that as a result of recent events, our occupation is at an end.
    Hobgoblin 1: What?
    Hobgoblin 2: Are we retreating?
    Hobgoblin Cleric 3: We can't let them win!
    Redcloak: From this day forward - this day that will be marked in history forever - we will no longer occupy the human territory of Azure City. We will instead be building the sovereing nation... of Gobbotopia!
    <sfx> unfurl!
    Redcloak: Seventeen nations around the world have recognized our borders, stretching from here - in Gobbotopia City - through the fertile Blueriver Vallay and back to the mountain forts where so many of your women and children stil live. Seventeen nations - including, and I just learned this today - the great mercantile city-state of Cliffport!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: Really? We finally got Cliffport?
    Hobgoblin Cleric 2: They have a long-standing trade war with the elves. Once they attacked, Cliffport decided it was best to influence our position on human slacery through economic engagement.
    Redcloak: We stand on the precipice of a new Golden Age of goblin civilizaiton, my friends, and it all starts right here, right now. In twenty years, you will tell your great-grandchildren that you were here to see the first flicker of the flames that will change the world!
    Redcloak: <voiceover> For your convenience, we've printed textbooks to teach any chidlren you may have now about the glorious founding of Gobbotopia and the long struggle of the goblin people.
    <book text> Gobbotopia. National Bird: Turkey Vulture. National Flower: Yellow Musk Creeper. National Sport: Red Rover. National Motto: "Screw you, suckers, it's OUR turn now!" In the unholy eyes of the Dark One, no land is more blessed and fortunate than the nation of Gobbotopia. Founded in late 1184 by the high priest of the Dark One, the nation is largely regarded as being the most powerful, influential and generally interesting country ever. While the majority of Gobbotopia's population is compsed of the three goblinoid races (goblins, bugbears, and hobgoblins, with the latter forming 93% of its permanent inhabitants), the nation's borders are open to all disenfranchied humanoids and thus supports growing minorities of orcs, ogres ???, gnolls (including ???), trolls, lycanthropes, minotaurs, ???, medusas, ???, grimlocks, lamias, hill giants, ettins, yakfolk, ???, half-orcs, half-. National Anthem "The Blood-Splattered Banner" O, say can you see in the darkness of night, Who so proudly we killed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose blue shirts and bright swords thru the perilous fight, O'er the parapets we saw and to whom we gave a reaming-

    Spoiler: Strip 703
    Meet the New Boss
    Demon Roach, Hobgoblin 1, Hobgoblin 2, Hobgoblin 3, Hobgoblin Cleric 1, Hobgoblin Cleric #2, Hobgoblin Mother, Jirix, Monster in the Darkness, Redcloak

    Monster in the Darkness: Wow, this is interesting. I didn't know that goblins invented guacamole, alternate-side-of-the-street parking, and the oboe.
    Demon Roach: Their place among the damned is secure.
    Redcloak: Now, I said a moment ago that it is with mixed emotions that I make this historic announcement, and it is. That's because I won't be staying here with you in Gobbotopia.
    Hobgoblin 1: What? No!
    Hobgoblin 2: Don't go!
    Hobgoblin 3: We love you, Supreme Leader!
    Redcloak: I'm afraid my place is out there. There are still tasks that must be completed to secure this bright new future - still enemies of the goblin people that must be brought to heel. Maybe... when my journey is complete...I will return to live out my days here. Until that time, you need a new leeder. One who is focused on strengthening your pace on the world stage. One who understands firsthand the dangers before us. One whose very life was ripped away during the elven attack, but who has returned from the grave by the grace of the Dark One. I give you the man who I have personally groomed for this eventuality - your new head of state, Prime Minister Jirix.
    Monster in the Darkness: Hey, I remember that guy. No, wait, the guy I was thinking of had a pointy metal bar sticking out of his chest.
    Jirix: Thank you, thank you. And thank you, Supreme Leader, for that kind introduction. I didn't mind the Resurrection spell, either.
    <sfx> Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Jirix: I'm not nearly as eloquent a speaker as my comrade, Redcloak, so I'll make this short. That way we can all get to the delicious barbeque we have planned for everyone that much quicker.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oooo! A timeline!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: He's one lucky cleric, getting picked like that.
    Hobgoblin Cleric #2: I totally could have been Prime Minister, if it hadn't been for my mother.
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: Why? What did she do?
    Hobgoblin Mother: You clean that spill up this instant, Hobgoblin Cleric 2! I need to go change your brother, Hobgoblin Warrior from Strip #433, Panel 3.

    Spoiler: Strip 704
    Dead Men Give No Speeches
    Hobgoblins, Jirix, Monster in the Darkness, Redcloak, The Dark One

    Monster in the Darkness: Hey, if he's the Prim Minister, does that mean -
    Redcloak: It does not mean that he is the minister in charge of prim rib, no.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh. Never mind, then.
    Jirix: Like most of you, I grew up in a village just a stone's throw from here - - and by "stone's throw," I mean, "one week of forced marching that-a-way."
    Jirix: <voiceover> And as our Supreme Leader alluded to, I was killed when elven wizards attacked the tower and a dangerous Azurite insurgent escaped in the chaos.
    <sfx> splurnkth!
    Jirix: <voiceover> The next thing I knew, I found myself on a majestic iron plateau. Stretched before me stood an army, the like of which I had never seen. Rank after rank of dead souls stood at attention - each soldier, a goblinoid that had died in loyal service to our people. I even saw a guy I owed 20gp - talk about awkward!
    Hobgoblins: <voiceover> Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Jirix: <voiceover> I realized this was my eternal reward - to serve in the great army of ancestors in otherworldly battles that mortals could scarcely comprehend. I hurried to take my place. But as I donned my armor, I heard a voice behind me. A voice like shadow and steel, that told me everything I needed to know about my place in this crazy world. The voice said:
    The Dark One: No.
    Jirix: <voiceover> It was the violet form of the Dark One himself, our one and only god. He put his strong hand on my shoulder and said,
    The Dark One: Your time to join this army is not yet, Jirix. I have many battles for you yet in the world of mortals. They will be battles of trade and logistics, diplomacy and intrigue, but they will be battles nonetheless. Go now. My true prophet waits for you.
    Jirix: <voiceover> And then, I blacked out. When I awoke next, I was back here, looking up at the green face of our Supreme Leader.
    <end flashback>
    Jirix: My friends, our god has given me a task. No, he's given us ALL a task. We are going to build this nation into the most prosperous, most secure country on the face of the planet. And we are going to do it one brick at a time. It's not always going to be easy, but it's going to happen. Goblins WILL take their rightful place in this world! Because I don't know about any of you, but I have no intention of getting back to that great army and getting stuck on latrine duty!
    <sfx> Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Jirix: Ok, gang, hot dogs and cheeseburgers for everyone!
    Redcloak: A little much with the cornball jokes, don't you think?
    Jirix: A legitimate peacetime leader should seem relaxed. I figured it would help clarify the transition.
    Redcloak: ...I suppose. Remember, once we find Xykon's phylactery, you'll be on your own. You can Send to me for advice, but I likely won't be able to return.
    Jirix: Hey, I'm still happy Xykon is letting us stay here at all.
    Redcloak: The phrases "dead weight" and unnecessary distraction" figured heavily in that decision. The horde is too slow and too individually weak to be much use where we're going, and he finds the idea of leaving you to dance on the paladins' graves marginally more amusing than the idea of slaughtering all of you. But remember, we need to have all of these workers back searching the sewers well before Xykon returns from his "errand".
    Jirix: Do you have any idea where he went?
    Redcloak: No. And I think only you and I know that he's even gone. He does this sometimes. Disappears, only to return with some new trick. With his phylactery missing, though, I don't expect him to be gone for long. Let the masses have their picnic, then find an excuse to cut it short. Listen, Jirix...that part of your speech about the Dark One... Did that really happen?
    Jirix: Absolutely. I may have left some stuff out, but yeah.
    Redcloak: Such as?
    Jirix: Well, I wasn't sure when was a good time to mention this, but he had a message for you. Regarding the Plan and all.
    Redcloak: A message? For me? What was it?
    Jirix: "Don't screw this up."
    Redcloak: Well, as theological revelations go, I guess that's refreshingly direct.
    Jirix: Then he added, "No pressure, though," which I thought was nice.

    Spoiler: Strip 705
    Those Don't Take Over Until the Graveyard Shift
    Niu, Team Harrier Scout 1, Team Harrier Scout 2, Team Peregrine Commander, Thanh

    Team Harrier Scout 1: Send it.
    Team Harrier Scout 2: Animal Messenger.
    <banner text> Hydra-Burgers with Gouda!
    Team Peregrine Commander: The message from the scouts in Team Harrier has arrived.
    Thanh: Green string. Then the goblins have begun their celebration.
    Thanh: Signal the attack, Niu.
    Niu: So, wait, when you said that the prison would be guarded by a skeleton crew during the speech, you didn't literally mean a -
    Thanh: Niu, please.
    Niu: What? Look at the world we live in, it was a reasonable assumption.

    Spoiler: Strip 706
    He's Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1, Hobgoblin Cleric 2, Hobgoblin Cleric 3, Hobgoblin Cleric 4, Niu, Team Peregrine Commander, Team Peregrine Wizard

    <sfx> schtlort! shtunk! schlursh!
    Team Peregrine Commander: Do not let him get a signal off, or we shall be swimming in wights!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 1: Dancing Li - Ugh!
    <sfx> slash! fizzle!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 2: Dancing Ligh -
    <sfx> thunk!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 3: Dancing Lights!
    Team Peregrine Wizard: Counterspell!
    Hobgoblin Cleric 4: Dancing Knights!
    <sfx> wonk! shlukt!
    Niu: Damn it!
    <sfx> pop!
    Niu: Wait...
    Hobgoblin Cleric 4: I, uh... I may have skimmed the orientation packet.

    Spoiler: Strip 707
    That's Probably Why There Are, Like, 17 Types
    Eyepatched Resistance Leader, Hobgoblin, Niu, Team Peregrine Commander, Team Peregrine Lieutenant, Team Peregrine Wizard, Thanh, Top-knotted Resistance Leader

    Team Peregrine Wizard: This way! Follow the sound of my voice!
    Thanh: Any sign of a tactical response?
    Niu: Not yet, Thanh.
    Team Peregrine Commander: One moment, please. What is this hobgoblin doing among the prisoners?
    Top-knotted Resistance Leader: He was locked up in one of the cells.
    Eyepatched Resistance Leader: Thanh said to escort all the prisoners to the tunnels, so...
    Hobgoblin: Please, I can help you! I hate the greenskins as much as you do! That interloper, Redcloak, locked me up because I roughed up a new immigrant. I can give you information, or...or go undercover for you! Whatever you want!
    Team Peregrine Commander: Interesting. Some people would be suspicious of your offer. They might think that you were a spy, planted to infiltrate the Resistance. Or, at the very least, that you would turn and escape the moment you were able, perhaps even trading what you had learned of us to your leaders in return for a pardon. But see, I have a different view. Do you know why?
    Hobgoblin: Uh...because you're a nice guy?
    Team Peregrine Commander: No. But I do know that there are Good goblins in the world.
    Hobgoblin: You do?
    Team Peregrine Commander: Oh, yes. I say so all of the time, do I not, Lieutenant?
    Team Peregrine Lieutenant: Yes, you do, Commander.
    Team Peregrine Commander: In fact, Lieutenant, do I not often expound on the one quality, without which, no goblin can be truly Good?
    Team Peregrine Lieutenant: You have been known to do so, Commander.
    Hobgoblin: What, like...mercy? Or compassion? Or something?
    Team Peregrine Commander: Why not inform our poor inmate here what that one quality is?
    Team Peregrine Lieutenant: You have often expressed the opinion, Commander, that the only Good goblins -
    Hobgoblin: Aaaah!!
    Team Peregrine Lieutenant: - are dead goblins.
    Team Peregrine Commander: Quite.
    <sfx> kaSPLAT!!
    Team Peregrine Lieutenant: You may now escort the prisoner to the tunnels, in accordance with your orders. A spatula may be helpful in that regard.
    Top-knotted Resistance Leader: I don't see any reason to burden Thanh with the petty details of this sort of thing.
    Eyepatched Resistance Leader: Elves are awesome.

    Spoiler: Strip 708
    An Animated Discussion
    Booted Wight, Hobgoblin, Hobgoblin Cleric, Reanimated Hobgoblin, Redcloak, Tsukiko

    Hobgoblin: ...and no one discovered it until the next shift came in, after the party was over.
    Redcloak: How many did we lose?
    Hobgoblin: 112 prisoners, eighteen of whom had been identified as having adventurer class levels and were scheduled for execution.
    Redcloak: Not the humans, I don't give a damn about humans! How many guards did we lose?
    Hobgoblin: They, uh...all of them, sir. They killed every goblin in the building. 43 soldiers and 4 browncloaks. Plus, a hobgoblin couple that had wandered away from the party was found dead with arrows in their backs. We think it's related.
    Redcloak: Damn it! I can't believe we actually HAVE elven insurgents in the city!
    Hobgoblin Cleric: Concentrate your search in that direction, Officer.
    Redcloak: Good idea, they probably stumbled on the attackers while - Ah, crap.
    <sfx> pop!
    Hobgoblin Cleric: What is she doing here?
    Tsukiko: Don't mind us, continue your cop drama. I can help myself. Create Und -
    Redcloak: STOP!!
    Tsukiko: Hey!
    <sfx> fizzle!
    Tsukiko: What the hell, Broccoli-face? If you want to animate these ones yourself, just say so. I'll start on the ones inside.
    Redcloak: No one is animating anything!
    Tsukiko: Uh, hello? Xykon told us both that we needed to replenish our supply of high-end undead before we left.
    Redcloak: These goblins died defending their posts, I will not have their remains desecrated!
    Tsukiko: OK, then, if I can't use these corpses, I guess I'll have to ask Xykon to provide me with some fresh ones. 'Cause I'm sure he'll have no problem finding some that died in a less honorable manner - for example, screaming and begging for their prophet to save them. Dies that sound like a good idea to you - Wrong-Eye?
    Redcloak: ...No.
    Tsukiko: Oh! Then I guess I'm free to use these bodies here?
    Redcloak: Yes. Go ahead.
    Tsukiko: Yeah. That's what I thought.
    Booted Wight: Mistress, what does "Wrong-Eye" mean?
    Tsukiko: Beats me. Xykon told me to call him that if he got too uppity. Create Undead!
    Hobgoblin Cleric: She's not staying here when you leave, right?
    Redcloak: Don't worry, I ordered my super-size Impotence Special "to go".
    Tsukiko: Hello, little one. I'm your Mommy.
    Reanimated Hobgoblin: I crave mortal flesh!
    Tsukiko: Awwww, Baby wants his num-num, doesn't he?

    Spoiler: Strip 709
    No Scry Zone
    Demon Roach, Monster in the Darkness, Tsukiko

    Tsukiko: You know, I think this is really kind of weird... I think the missing half of this ritual is actually divine, not arcane. No wonder Xykon can't understand it.
    Monster in the Darkness: Tsukiko! Tsukiko! I'm back! It's nighttime, I think, so that means you can find my friend!
    <text> Keep out!
    Tsukiko: Oh, right. It's been such a long day, I pretty much forgot. OK, so, what's his name?
    Monster in the Darkness: O-Chul. Or Mr. Stiffly, either one.
    Tsukiko: And what does he look like?
    Monster in the Darkness: A human, like you, only bald with a dark blue beard and lots of scars.
    Tsukiko: ...
    Monster in the Darkness: And a fierce determination in his eyes.
    Tsukiko: ...Is he the paladin that we were holding prisoner??
    Monster in the Darkness: Yeah, that's him!
    Tsukiko: You imbecile, you can't be friends with a paladin!!!
    Monster in the Darkness: Why not?
    Tsukiko: 'Cause they're jerks!
    Demon Roach: Preach it, sister.
    Tsukiko: I know all about paladins, trust me. All they do is boss you around and tell you what you can't do. "Don't walk on the grass, don't litter, don't rape the cycle of life with your unclean power." Blah blah blah. Trust me, paladins aren't happy unless they're forcing you to be just like them.
    Monster in the Darkness: Really? Because it seemed like he wanted me to decide for myself how to act.
    Tsukiko: Right, exactly like he does! He's doing it already! It doesn't matter anyway, because I can't scry on him.
    Monster in the Darkness: But you promised!
    Tsukiko: Xykon's been renewing the Cloister spell every few weeks. Your buddy was still here last time he did, so he'll be unfindable for months.
    Demon Roach: Ha! Obscure plot minutiae IN YOUR FACE!
    Tsukiko: Scrying on his holy ass to bring him back was the first thing we tried, but only epic magic can find him now. And sure, Xykon's epic, but divination isn't exactly his forté. Why do you think he always uses those crystal balls?
    Monster in the Darkness: I sort of assumed it was just a general yearning for balls of some sort, since he wouldn't have-
    Tsukiko: HEY!! A man's worth isn't determined by what, if anything, is between his femurs!
    Demon Roach: Two words: Magic fingers.
    Tsukiko: Stop being an idiot and pining over an escaped prisoner. You're just going to get Xykon Mad if he hears you talking about it.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh, man...I'm right back to the cutting board!
    Tsukiko: You mean, "drawing board."
    Demon Roach: Was he ever drawn in the first place?
    Monster in the Darkness: Don't worry, O-Chul, I'll find you someday. Until then, I hope wherever you are, the rain is helping you sleep.

    Spoiler: Strip 710
    Does He Get XP for Their Buzz?
    Elan, Gnome, Human 1, Human 2, Lizardfolk

    <wall text> INN
    Gnome: -And then she said, "I don't care how many charges are left in your wand, you'r not getting near my Portable Hole."
    <text> INN
    <sfx> Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Lizardfolk: Or what about that time with the Gynosphinx?
    Human 1: Oh man! She was so angry, I can't believe we got out of that one alive!
    Gnome: I still don't understand why she got so mad at me for staring - when you're my size, you learn to pay attention to a pair of giant pink boulders headed straight for you!
    Human 2: Ha ha! Hey Sphinxie, I got yer riddle right here: What's hard in the morning, soft most of the day, and hard again all night?
    Human 1: I don't know, but I think you've got one in your pocketses!
    <sfx> Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Elan: Hey, and remember that time we met those guys from that secret organization that lived in the desert - and one of them spent a lot of money and another bought a bunch of food and maybe they had face tattoos? ...No? Nobody? OK, next table, then.

    Spoiler: Strip 711
    The Rouge's Guild
    Aton Sister 1, Haley, Aton Elder Sister, Aton Sister 2

    Aton Sister 1: You have passed the Test of the Oscillating Doom, Haley Starshine. You are worthy to become one of us, a member of the Sisterhood of Aton
    Haley: Does that mean you'll tell me what you know?
    Aton Sister 1: Yes, but first, you must take on the countenance of a Sister.
    Haley: Oh for - what does THAT involve? Because I'm not getting a piercing again.
    Aton Elder Sister: Nothing so drastic, Sister, anoint her forehead.
    Aton Sister 2: Yes, Sister.
    Haley: I guess that's not too...hey, that smells nice.
    Aton Sister 2: It has ylang-ylang flower.
    Haley: What is it?
    Aton Sister 2: Moisturizer. The Sisterhood knows that one's skin can become dry and cracked in this desert heat.
    Aton Elder Sister: Further, after gazing upon your visage, we have determined that you are what we call an "Autumn".
    Aton Sister 1: Aton recommends a light pink lipstick, and maybe some concealer.
    Haley: Wait a minute, the though-looking chick at the bar told me that this was the place where I could find a bunch of thieves and robbers!
    Aton Elder Sister: Hey, our retail prices are competitive!
    Aton Sister 1: Good luck finding quality products like ours in a department store.
    Haley: So you're what, merchants? Why did you put me through that initiation?
    Aton Elder Sister: We saw in you a like-minded soul, one who might enjoy the benefits of selling Aton® brand cosmetics.
    Aton Sister 1: You can set your own hours, be your own boss!
    Haley: This is just - this is ridiculous! Do you actually know where I can find the people I'm looking for, or not?
    Aton Elder Sister: ...Not.
    Aton Sister 2: But we do know where you can find great health and beauty products for less!
    Haley: You know what? You can stick your sisterhood where the sun-disk doesn't shine. I'm out of here. OK, two jars of the moisturizer, but that's all
    <panel text> A T O N. Supporting unrealistic expectations of what a female adventurer should look like since the art in First Edition.

    Spoiler: Strip 712
    Neutralize Elf
    Blackwing, Elan, Haley, Vaarsuvius

    Haley: -and then once I had bought all that, I only needed to spend 18 more gold pieces to get the free gift.
    Elan: *sniff* Mmmmm! Ylang-ylang!
    <boxes text> ATON ATON ATON
    Vaarsuvius: I am hopeful that the endeavors of either of you were more fruitful than my own.
    Elan: Hi, V. What was wrong with the mage's guild?
    Vaarsuvius: Nothing, except that they were less of a "guild" and more of a collection of dilettantes who meet every Tuesday over lunch to discuss how "totally awesome" it would be to learn 2nd-level spells. Obviously, our epic-level illusionist does not consult them on his ventures forth.
    Elan: Let's go find Roy and the others. Maybe they had better luck.
    Vaarsuvius: Alternately, we could wait for them here, as instructed.
    Elan: Aww, come on, we're like an hour early! I don't wanna - AAAH!
    <sfx> twunk!
    Haley: ELAN, LOOK OUT!
    <sfx> shuunk. wumf!
    Vaarsuvius: It would appear to be a Strength-draining poison...on magical bolts, no less.
    Elan: Neutralize Poison! Hey that's not fair, why isn't V getting up?
    Haley: It'll prevent things from getting worse, but it won't undo the Strength damage V already took! Now sword out, we're under attack!
    Haley: Sorry, V. I just reacted to get Elan out of the way...
    Vaarsuvius: Though I cannot move, I am in no immediate danger. You made the right decision. Now go and meet our attackers.
    Blackwing: You think this will be an easy fight, then?
    Vaarsuvius: No, I meant she made the right decision philosophically speaking, in choosing to protect the one she loves over considerations of respective power. Practically speaking, we are almost certainly going to die.

    Spoiler: Strip 713
    Oh, Right. That.
    Elan, Enor, Gannji, Haley, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: Heycan'twe talkthisoveryouseem likeareasonablefellow I'msurewecanworkout somesortof -
    <boxes text> ATON
    Vaarsuvius: Fortunately, I have made an effort to prepare certain spells without somatic components ever since the time I was polymorphed into a small purple lizard. Suggestion! Sit on your hands until I tell you otherwise.
    Enor: ...Sit...on...hands.
    Haley: I don't recognize you from one of our usual groups of frequently-humiliated villains. Did Bozzok send you?
    Gannji: What the hell is a "bahz-ock"?
    Haley: What the - Look out, there's two of them!
    Gannji: You're pretty good at counting. Want to learn another trick I've taught to some mammals? Go fetch.
    Elan: Great job, V! Not only did you get him out of the sky, but now he can't attack us with his great big morning-

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-29 at 12:12 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #184
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 714 to 731
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 714
    This Whole Time, He'd Thought of It as the Snack That Got Away
    Blackwing, Elan, Enor, Gannji, Vaarsuvius

    Gannji: Oh, was that trick too hard for you? How about, "Lie down"?
    <sfx> sweep!
    Gannji: Get your blue ass up.
    Enor: But the elf said to sit on my hands.
    Gannji: You don't have hands, you moron! You have claws!
    <sxf> snap!
    Enor: Oh yeah.
    Gannji: For the record, you'll also be safe if it tells you to sit on your brain.
    Elan: OK, you - I don't know why you're dragon us into a fight... But it's time I tipped the scales and brought the two of you to-
    <sfx> WONK!
    Enor: Puns are for girls.
    Gannji: Grab them both, I've got the Teleport scroll.
    Enor: What about the third one?
    Gannji: We don't need her, and I frankly think we got sort of lucky bagging these two. Let's get out of here while the getting is-
    Blackwing: STOP! Before you take my wizard away, I just have one question. So you're saying that purple lizard was you??
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh*

    Spoiler: Strip 715
    Blackwing, Enor, Gannji, Vaarsuvius

    Enor: Ganji, are you SURE we don't need the third one?
    Gannji: Yes! Yes, I'm sure.
    Enor: But I've got the poster right here...
    Enor: 5000 gp buys a lot of yummies.
    <poster text> WANTED. DEAD OR ALIVE by Empress of Blood. "Nale". Dead: 10,000 gp. Alive: 35,000 gp. 5' 1'' tall, 180lbs. Human (Northern). Blond hair, fair skin. HIGHLY DANGEROUS! SKILLED WITH SWORD OR MAGIC
    . Collect bounty at Imperial Palace, 1 Hemorrhage Road, Bleedingham, EOB. ALSO WANTED ALIVE - KNOWN ASSOCIATES - 5000 GP EACH:
    • "Thog" male half-orc barbarian
    • Unidentified elf wizard (subtype and gender unknown)
    • "Sabine" female demon rogue (appears human - EXERCISE CAUTION!)
    • "Yikyik" male kobold ranger

    Gannji: Give me that. I'd rather clinch the main prize than lose it all by getting greedy.
    Enor: Huh?
    Gannji: The fool showed his face in every tavern in town, do you really think we'll be the only bounty hunters after him?
    <text> WANTED
    Blackwing: So that's why you were so mad...
    Gannji: Get the bird, maybe we can talk them into paying us for it.
    Enor: Oh! Good idea!
    Blackwing: Familiar? What familiar? The elf definitely doesn't have a OOOF!!!
    <sfx> snatch!
    Blackwing: Geez, you couldn't have forgotten about me just one more time?
    Vaarsuvius: Silence, I have a plan.
    Blackwing: Does it involve selling your soul?
    Vaarsuvius: No.
    Blackwing: Really?
    Vaarsuvius: No! I mean, yes, really!
    Vaarsuvius: <voiceover> It involves coordination.
    Blackwing: Coordinated soul-selling?
    Vaarsuvius: NO!
    Blackwing: Is that a "maybe"?

    Spoiler: Strip 716
    She Didn't Miss
    Enor, Gannji, Haley, Vaarsuvius

    Gannji: Now let's get out of here. Tele -
    Vaarsuvius: STUN.
    Gannji: Gaaah!!
    <sfx> fizzle!
    <poster text> WANTED
    Gannji: Unnh...what...
    Vaarsuvius: Starshine! Deliver to Greenhilt! Do you understand?
    Haley: I understand.
    <sfx> fwwut!
    Gannji: Whoa! Nice try, elf, but your human friend missed me! You did cost me a Teleport scroll, though. Do you have any idea how expensive those things are?
    Enor: Do they cost more than 5000 gp?
    Gannji: Ha! No, no they don't. A net gain for us then, Enor, and you've certainly earned your yummies tonight! Grab her while I get another scroll out.
    Vaarsuvius: <whispering> I did not intend for you to get captured as well.
    Haley: <whispering> I did. Someone needs to look after the two of you.
    Gannji: Come on, we're leaving right now before something else happens.
    Enor: Wait, do you have the-
    Haley: <whispering> Roy's a smart boy-
    Gannji: Teleport!
    <sfx> POP!
    Haley: <voiceover> -He'll figure it out.

    Spoiler: Strip 717
    No Incarceration Without Compensation
    Empire of Blood Guard 1, Empire of Blood Guard 2, Gannji, Haley

    Gannji: Hey. The guard at the bottom of the hill said this is where I should go for bounties?
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: Yep. You got papers?
    Gannji: Sure. Here's my bounty hunter license, my entry papers...and here's my change of address forms from my last three places of residence.
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: Let's says here you teleported into the city, but I don't see an arcane spellcaster registration.
    Gannji: Scroll. The receipt's taped to the back.
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: Ah, got it. OK, well, these seem to be in order. I'll have a corporal bring you to the chancellor for payment.
    Gannji: You're not going to give us any trouble, right?
    Haley: Why should I? I know when I've been beaten.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: Welcome to the Palace of Blood. Excuse the mess, it's been a pretty hectic week.
    Haley: Besides, like I told you on the hike up here, you have the wrong guy. That's Elan, not Nale.
    Gannji: Funny, every mark I've ever brought in has had a twin brother or sister, too. What are the chances? By the way, incredibly creative, flipping the name backwards like that. Now if you'll esucxe me, we have to go lles you to the Sserpme fo Doolb. It's a very impressive palace you're building.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: We'd be building it a lot faster if it weren't for all these labor disputes.
    <sign text> SLAVEDRIVER UNION Local 934
    <sign text>We'll do even less until our demands are met!
    <sign text>Not a lash 'til we see the cash!
    <sign text>HEALTH CARE NOW! For us, not them.
    <sign text>UNEQUAL PAY for UNEQUAL WORK!
    Gannji: Man, that is so unfair. I hope it all works out.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: Yeah, you can't help but feel for them, you know?

    Spoiler: Strip 718
    Spring Break Never Dies
    Death, Elan, Female Ghost, Gannji, Haley, Kilkil, Malack, Vaarsuvius

    KilKil: Helllo, hello, hello. Collecting a bounty, I presume?
    Gannji: Yeah, I got this guy named "Nale" and two of his associates.
    KilKil: Hmmm. That must be an older posting, I'm not familiar with it. Let me check my files.
    <sign text> Accounts Payable
    KilKil: Oh my. That's quite the prize you've caught. It's been flagged to go to the Empress herself.
    Gannji: Is that a good thing?
    KilKil: For you? Certainly. Less so for him. Follow me. But it does mean that we'll have to get him clean up. This is the "Empire of Blood," not the "Empire of Blood All Over Our New Carpets." Our chapel is right through here, we'll get one of the acolytes to heal - Oh! Minister Malack! I'm - I'm sorry, Your Holiness, I didn't know you were in here!
    Malack: Do not trouble yourself, Chancellor. I have completed my burnt offerings to the gods. Do you require clerical assistance?
    KilKil: Well, uh, these men are bringing in a bounty that's been flagged. I thought he should be healed first.
    Malack: Ahhhh, Nale. Yes, you chose wisely, Kilkil. He should stand when he answers for his crimes. Heal.
    Elan: Whuh...what's going on?
    Malack: I will have the pleasure of escorting you to your final fate. I have waited some years, after all.
    Elan: AHHH! It's the grim reaper!!! The lizards grim reaper! The lizgreaper!!
    Malack: ...Do you not recognize me?
    Elan: Haley!! And V?? They killed you too?
    Haley: Baby, you aren't dead.
    Vaarsuvius: You are, however, still an imbecile.
    Elan: Well, at least you took bad guys down with you.
    Malack: Enough of your mindgames. We depart.
    Elan: Games! That's it! Quick, Haley, challenge the lizgreaper to a game! I heard a song about that once.
    Haley: Elan, he's just an albino lizardfolk.
    Elan: But what game? What competition should we choose that you could defeat Death himself at??
    Female Ghost: Wet t-shirt contest!
    Death: ...I'll get the hose.

    Spoiler: Strip 719
    Seat of Power
    Elan, Empire of Blood Guard, Empress of Blood, Gannji, Haley, Malack, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: So, if you're not Death, are you, like, the high priest for the Imperial Blood Chick?
    Malack: You know well what my duties are, Nale. I am both high priest and personal spiritual advisor to the Empress.
    Elan: Uh huh, and how long have you been working for her?
    Haley: Elan, you're his captive, not his biographer!
    Elan: Now, now, Haley, introducing new characters is everyone's responsibility. Besides, if he doesn't tell us this stuff now, he'll just spew it out later in the middle of an action scene. Like when we try our daring escape. We are trying a daring escape, right?
    Haley: Not until after we meet this Empress. Our best defense right now is the fact that we actually AREN'T the ones she's looking for. If she has a high-level cleric on the payroll, seh probably has, I don't know, Blood Wizards or something, too. Enough magic to figure out Elan's not Nale.
    Empire of Blood Guard: Minister, my apologies, but the Empress is dining. She left orders not to be disturbed.
    Malack: I bear news of some import, Captain. Stand aside.
    Empire of Blood Guard: ...Yes, Minister.
    Malack: Imperial Majesty, I come with news of a traitor to the empire that has been apprehended at last.
    Empress of Blood: ...What?
    Malack: A prisoner, Madame Empress. These fine bounty hunters have caught the human criminal Nale.
    Haley: THAT'S the Empress of Blood??
    Elan: Are you sure it's not the Empress of Blood Pudding?
    Empress of Blood: I don't understand.
    Malack: He fought for us during your Glorious Ascendance two years ago, but then turned and tried to seize your crown for himself. I just need you to authorize receipt and payment for these three prisoners.
    Gannji: An, uh, you have cow on your face.
    Haley: You know, I'm thinking maybe the Empress there is just a figurehead.
    Elan: With boats that big, their navy must be unstoppable!
    Haley: No, not a literal - I mean I think that this Malack guy is the real power behind the throne.
    Elan: I think the real power behind the throne is something more like reinforced concrete pylons. Or maybe adamantine cross bracers.
    Vaarsuvius: O weep bitter tears for that seat, which dies a little each day so that other chairs may live.

    Spoiler: Strip 720
    Breakfast of Champions
    Elan, Empress of Blood, Gannji, Haley, Malack

    Empress of Blood: My breakfast isn't done yet. I don't want to start the talking stuff until after my breakfast. Or wait! Let's not do talking stuff today at all, and I can have more food then. Yeah, that's a better idea.
    Malack: Maybe we will consider that plan, Empress, but I need you to approve the payment of this bounty first.
    Empress of Blood: What bounty?
    Gannji: The one you posted for this "Nale" and his friends.
    Empress of Blood: May I eat him? Is he edible?
    Haley: Not only is he not edible, Your Corpulence, he's not Nale.
    Gannji: Hey, wait. Weren't you tied up a moment ago?
    Haley: That was a moment ago. Sure, this debonair blond may LOOK like Nale, but that's because he's his identical twin brother, Elan.
    Gannji: Yeah, right. That's right up there with, "I turned into a werewolf and ate my homework."
    Haley: They were separated when they were infants and only recently became aware of each other's existence.
    Elan: It's true, Your Blobbity-Blobness. The only physical difference is my enhanced beardlessness. But when it comes to personality, I'm nothing like my brother. I'd never betray you if you were trying to conquer a country.
    Haley: You tell 'em, honey!
    Elan: I would probably oppose you from the start because the whole blood theme really screams "EVIL!"
    Haley: Um-
    Elan: Plus, I hear there's some sort of slavery, so I'd probably be all up in your business about that.
    Haley: OK, honey, Quiet Time.
    Empress of Blood: Up in my business? UP IN MY BUSINESS? No one gets all up in my business, I get all up in THEIR business! OR POSSIBLY THEIR GRILL!! GRRRRARR!
    Elan: Uh oh, I think maybe she has a bit of a temper...
    Haley: No really? Think how testy I can get, and I'm only the "Empress of Blood" a few days each month.
    Empress of Blood: GRRRRARR!
    Malack: Empress, you must calm yourself. Please! If this man is who he claims to be, then he can at least help us locate the real Nale.
    Elan: Oh, I absolutely could - if Nale hadn't died in a huge exploding castle almost a year ago.
    Malack: either ARE Nale, or you're of no use to us whatsoever.
    Elan: Well, I guess if you want to put it that -
    Malack: Madame Empress, I believe I have an answer to your query about whether or not you may eat him.
    Elan: I bet it's "No".

    Spoiler: Strip 721
    Pain Threshold
    Elan, Empress of Blood, Enor, Gannji, Haley, Malack, Vaarsuvius

    Gannji: I just want to be clear: if she eats him, we get paid whether or not he's this Nale guy, right?
    Malack: Yes, yes. We'll take your fee out of the catering budget instead.
    Haley: <whispering> Elan! I think it's time for that daring escape that you mentioned.
    Elan: <whispering> I agree! Not being Nale isn't working out as well for me as it has in the past!
    Gannji: OK, good. My partner and I expended a lot of resources catching them, an-
    Enor: Hey, you're not supposed to touch that.
    Elan: Haley, look out.
    Gannji: Wait? AARGH!
    Haley: Sneak Attack on a stick, snake-face!!
    Elan: Lesser Confusion!
    Enor: Variable-speed corn muffins! Peanut butter fish filets! Hey, that sounds good.
    Elan: Hurry! It's already wearing off!
    Haley: Time to run away!
    Vaarsuvius: At last, we implement our most historically-successful stratagem.
    Malack: That filfthy traitor is getting away!
    Empress of Blood: That's OK. Humans are more of a lunchtime food anyway.
    Malack: No, you bloated idiot, this is IMPORTANT! Blade Barrier!
    Elan: Uh oh!
    Vaarsuvius: What? What do you see?
    Haley: Something that's still less deadly than a red dragon's stomach.
    Vaarsuvius: That was not as reassuring as you might have imagined.
    Elan: Ow! Ow! Ow!
    Enor: Uh...are we getting paid enough to jump through that?
    Gannji: See, now, it's situations like this that are the reason I drew that chart for you. Take it out and tell me what it says.
    <chart text> Are we getting paid enough?
    Yummy. Pointy. Probably not. NO
    Enor: Ummm...No?
    Gannji: See? Who says a half-dragon ogre can't learn new tricks?
    Enor: Gannji, I'm a half-dragon HALF-ogre.
    Gannji: What am I, a genealogist?
    Enor: What do genies have to do with-
    Gannji: Shush.

    Spoiler: Strip 722
    Block and Tackle
    Elan, Empire of Blood Captain, Haley, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Tarquin: Captain, do you know why Kilkil sent me up...
    Empire of Blood Captain: General!
    Tarquin: ...Is that a Blade Barrier in the door to the throne room?
    Elan: Ow! Ow! Ow!
    <sfx> WUMP!
    Empire of Blood Captain: Ooof!
    Haley: Come on, the archway! V, you can still cast Feather Fall, right?
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed, it is my solitary castable spell remaining.
    <sfx> THUMPF!
    Elan: HALEY!!
    Elan: What did you do THAT for??
    Tarquin: Well, elf? Will you not cast your spell? There are quite a few sharp rocks down there, you know. Due to the construction.
    Vaarsuvius: Feather Fall.
    Tarquin: A wise decision.
    Haley: *whew!*
    Tarquin: There. Now that you've used up your only viable escape plan, I suggest we return to the throne room.
    Elan: To get eaten by a dragon?? No thanks, I'll take my chances!
    Tarquin: You have my word as a man of honor that you will come to no harm. However, if my men catch her, I cannot guarantee the same can be said for your lady friend...unless I give them the order to take her alive.
    Elan: No! OK, OK, I surrender Just don't hurt Haley!
    Tarquin: GUARDS! Don't kill the red-haired woman. Capture her and bring her to the throne room. Her allies have surrendered.
    Haley: Darn it! Now I have to go find someone to let capture me.

    Spoiler: Strip 723
    Generally Relative
    Elan, Empress of Blood, Gannji, Malack, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Malack: Dismiss Blade Barrier! Now follow them!
    Gannji: Yeah, they took a Blade Barrier to the face and are still up. Catch them yourself.
    Tarquin: I found these two out in the hallway, did someone in here lose them?
    Malack: Tarquin! Kill them both, before they run.
    Tarquin: No one is killing anyone, I gave my word, old friend.
    Malack: Bah! I should have known you would go warm-blooded on this one. It's an open-and-shut bounty!
    Tarquin: You misunderstand, Malack. This man is not who you think he is.
    Empress of Blood: General Tarquin! I'm confused and hungry. Make this make sense.
    Tarquin: Certainly my liege. Don't fret your pretty red head. I will handle this dispute for the Empress, as it was I who issued the bounty for the traitor, Nale, and I who flagged the file to be brought directly here. I can also personally attest to the fact that Nale has a twin brother, Elan, and I believe I have proof that this is who stands before us. I know Nale better than anyone here, and he would never have surrendered in order to save one of his allies, as this man just did. Plus, he didn't rant about his intellectual superiority even ONCE.
    Malack: Now that you mention it. I did find that odd.
    Gannji: I can't believe you people are buying this ludicrous twin story.
    Tarquin: It is not a story sir. I know they are twins...because I was there when they were born. Wow! You have pretty cool armor for a midwife!
    Elan: No, my boy...I was there under a different role. For you see...
    Tarquin: Elan - I am your father.
    Elan: *gasp!!*
    Tarquin: Oh MAN! I've always wanted to say that line!!
    Elan: That was...that was a PERFECT delivery!
    Tarquin: I know, right? Wasn't it awesome? I've been waiting, like, FOREVER for that.
    Elan: Growing up without a father was totally worth it just for that reveal!!
    Vaarsuvius: Heredity is a cruel mistress.

    Spoiler: Strip 724
    It IS Fairly Spicy, However
    Elan, Gannji, Malack, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Tarquin: Look at you! What are you, a protagonist? I'm so proud! Have you thwarted any villains yet?
    Elan: We mostly run away or have mixed victories. Wait does Nale count?
    Tarquin: Eh. Not really.
    Elan: Then, no.
    Tarquin: Well, your're still young.
    Malack: Is yours always like this?
    Vaarsuvius: Yes. Yours?
    Malack: Sadly.
    Tarquin: You know, I deliberately never told your brother about you, just to heighten the dramatic tension. How did that work out?
    Elan: Do you want to see my scar?
    Malack: Then, this boy actually IS a second son, Tarquin? Not another trick by that traitor?
    Tarquin: No, I'm certain of it. This is my other boy, Elan. He was raised by his mom on the Northern Continent.
    Malack: Then I suppose I owe you an apology...Elan, is it?
    Elan: You tried to feed me to a dragon!!
    Malack: Yes. I did. Hence the apology.
    Tarquin: You'll have to forgive Malack, Elan. Nale killed three of his children.
    Malack: If he is dead, as you say, then I pray that his wretched soul is tortured for all eternity.
    Elan: I think he probably gets that a lot.
    Tarquin: I have so much to show you, my boy. I think you'll really like what I'm doing here once you get to see -
    Gannji: Excuse me! Not that this isn't a touching reunion, but I think we're entitled to some compensation over here.
    Vaarsuvius: I am no expert, but I do not think that bounties work that way.
    Gannji: General Spikyhelm here just admitted that he KNEW the target had a twin brother, meaning that the bounty posting was made in bad faith, since it made no mention of the fact. Therefore, he's liable for the expenses incurred and income lost while my partner and I were capturing the wrong -
    Tarquin: Yes, OK, I get it. How about eight thousand?
    Gannji: I was thinking more like...fifty thousand.
    Tarquin: What? Why should I pay fifty thousand?
    Gannji: Because I'm holding a THERMAL DETONATOR!
    Tarquin: ...That's a can of tomato soup.
    Gannji: I know, I was just trying to keep the theme going. We'll take the eight.

    Spoiler: Strip 725
    The Significantly-More-Secret Origin of Tarquin and Nale
    Tarquin, Empress of Blood, Elan, Vaarsuvius, Elan's Mother

    Tarquin: Now that the bounty hunters have left, I would like leave to show my son around.
    Empress of Blood: Show him a round what?
    Tarquin: Around the palace.
    Empress of Blood: We have a round palace?
    Tarquin: Sure.
    Empress of Blood: OK, you can go. It's almost time for brunch anyway, and I'm hoping to gain enough weight to figure out arcane spells.
    Tarquin: <whispering> We once pointed out that more powerful dragons have grown larger, so she thinks growing larger will make her more powerful.
    Elan: That seems entirely reasonable. But what I really don't understand how you came to be working for a red dragon in the first place.
    Tarquin: Brilliant set-up for my inevitable backstory, my boy!
    Elan: Thanks!
    Tarquin: <voiceover> After I left my first wife - your mother - I came here to the Western Continent, lured by tales of how easy it was to conquer a kingdom for your very own.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> The tales neglected to mention how easy it was to lose such a kingdom, however. I didn't last a year. Malack was an old adventuring pal of mine. He found me and offered me a job as Chief Warlord to his new master.
    Elan: Ohhhhh. And that was the Empress of Blood?
    Tarquin: Heck no. Some other guy. His kingdom didn't last too long, either, but Malack and I have been offering our services to various would-be kings and conquerors in the 15 or so years since. Sort of a package deal: Buy one High Priest, get one General free. When Nale was old enough, he started helping with the "family business".
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Two years ago, we helped conquer a nation for the Empress of Blood - and Nale decided he should be crowned instead. We disagreed. Strenuously.
    Tarquin: It's my fault, really. I raised him to be ruthless and efficient - or at least I tried to. I shoudn'tve been so surprised when he turned on us.
    Vaarsuvius: Interesting. Then if Elan gets his outlook from his mother and his love of the dramatic from you - and Nale likely gets his outlook from you... I wonder what Nale inherited from his mother?
    Elan's Mother: - hen Teri, you double back and refill the peanut bowls on all of the tables where the number of guests is a prime number. Any questions?
    <text> Serving Plan (Thursday)

    Spoiler: Strip 726
    Mammals Can't Seem to Get Enough of Those Things
    Blackwing, Elan, Haley, Tarquin, Tarquin & Elan, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: Haley! Oh my GODS! This is so awesome, this is my father! My real honest-to-goodness father! Can you believe it??
    Haley: What, the guy who pushed me out a window? Really?
    Tarquin: I'm General Tarquin, father to both Nale and Elan.
    Elan: Dad, this is my girlfriend, Haley.
    Tarquin: My humblest apologies. Had I known you were my son's lover, I would not have defenestrated you earlier.
    Haley: Ummm...OK.
    Tarquin: You remind me a little of my fifth wife.
    Haley: Oh? Was she a redhead, too?
    Tarquin: No, but she had the most magnificent set of perky round -
    Haley: Eyes. Let's both pretend you were about to say, "eyes".
    Tarquin: Fair enough.
    Elan: Isn't this just so cool??
    Haley: But how did he get here? Why is he working for the Empire of Blood?
    Elan: Oh, sorry, baby - we answered those questions in the last strip. I'll fill you in later.
    Tarquin: Pleas, I would be honored if you would consider making yourselves guests in our palace.
    Elan: Oooo! Oooo! Yes! So we can talk and bond and stuff!
    Haley: Actually, we have some friends we really need to get back to...
    Vaarsuvius: <whispering> If I can trance for a few hours, I can regain my Sending spell to contact Sir Greenhilt.
    Elan: Please, Haley? Pleeeeeease?
    Haley: OK, fine, we can stay here for today.
    Tarquin & Elan: HOORAY!!
    Tarquin: I'll have Kilkil draw up passage papers for the three of you, and I'll lead you to your rooms.
    Haley: Elan, I know you're thrilled to meet your father - and I certainly don't mind learning that you'll still look sexy with grey hair - but I think we need to be careful.
    Elan: Careful? Of what?
    Tarquin: The guest quarters are right down this hallway, past the library.
    Haley: I'm not sure, exactly, but all that stuff you said to the Empress about slavery and stuff still applies. Plus, he IS the man who raised Nale.
    Elan: Yeah, I guess you're right. I should really try not to get too-
    Tarquin: ...And through that door are our dinosaur stables.
    Elan: Really? Lemme see! Lemme see! Lemme see!
    Haley: Elan? Elan, come back!
    Vaarsuvius: Not surprisingly, ethical concerns cannot overcome the siren's lure of a triceratops ride.
    Blackwing: I bet her perky eyes would stand a better chance.

    Spoiler: Strip 727
    And It Will Never Work Again
    Elan, Haley, Tarquin

    Tarquin: And now that your elven friend is comfortably trancing across the hall, this room is yours.
    Elan: Geez, I think this room is bigger than Mom's whole house!
    Tarquin: Elan, my boy, it means so much to me to have you here. It really raises my spirit in this time of grief.
    Elan: Grief? What grief?
    Tarquin: My ninth wife, Penelope, recently passed away. We held a state funeral for her last week.
    Elan: Oh, Dad, I'm so sorry. What was the cause of death?
    Tarquin: "Mysterious circumstances."
    Elan: Not another one! When will they find a cure?!?
    Tarquin: Anyway, I think the people deserve a celebration after enduring so much sadness. I think we'll hold a feast - no, a festival! In your honor! Three days and nights of merriment in the streets to welcome my long-lost son!
    Elan: With clowns?
    Tarquin: And jugglers!
    Elan: And clown-jugglers, who juggle tiny clowns?
    Tarquin: Of course!
    Haley: Whoa, whoa, whoa! I hate to interrupt the stereo goofiness, but Elan, we're in the middle of a very important quest here.
    Elan: Oh, right. I forgot.
    Tarquin: What kind of quest? Maybe I could help.
    Haley: A secret kind of quest.
    Elan: Yeah, we need to find this guy, Girard Draketooth, and tell him that -
    Haley: Elan! What part of "secret" do you not understand??
    Elan: The part where I don't tell other people, obviously.
    Tarquin: Draketooth? ... Human? Red hair, purple squiggly tattoo on his face? Uses illusions?
    Haley: YES! Do you know him???
    Tarquin: Maybe. Maybe not. I'll be happy to discuss it with you - AFTER the festival. Until then, relax. I'll send for you when it's time for dinner.
    Elan: Wow! Not only did we find my father, but he know something about Girard!
    Haley: Yeah...But I can't help the feeling that we're - OH MY GODS!
    Elan: What is it?
    Haley: Elan, don't you see? Roy let you loose in the desert thinking that you would trip over the main plot.
    Elan: So?
    Haley: YOU DID!

    Spoiler: Strip 728
    The Price of Yummies
    Belkar, Enor, Gannji

    <text> SUNRISE BLOODY SUNRISE Bed & Breakfast
    Gannji: And the worst part was how much paperwork I needed to fill out in order to get my weapon back! I mean, you'd think the "blood" around here was really just red tape.
    Enor: I thought it went pretty well.
    Gannji: How can you say that?
    Enor: Well, we screwed up and got yummies anyway. We should do that more often.
    Gannji: We can't afford to do that more often.
    Enor: Why not?
    Gannji: With the cost of two Teleport scrolls, the Strength poison, the magical bolt, and all those potions we guzzled before we attacked - we only cleared a few thousand gold on this mark. That's not nearly enough profit for a job this dangerous.
    Enor: But it wouldn't BE dangerous! We used all that stuff trying to capture the right person - but there are wrong people everywhere! We can just grab someone off the street. Then we bring them in and complain that the poster was confusing.
    Gannji: OK, I'm going to stop you right there, before you decide to spill my juice on yourself and then sue the inn for it being too cold for your ectothermic blood.
    Enor: Hey, that might-
    Gannji: Shush. Assuming we could even find other states willing to pay for a screw-up, we're not going to do that. As a reptile, I've gotten through my whole life without sucking on a teat, I'm not about to start with government's. We make an honest living. I'm not going to tarnish our fine profession of beating people unconscious and transporting them across international borders with...with petty fraud!
    Enor: OK. Sorry, Gannji.
    Gannji: It's fine. You were just trying to help.
    <sfx> pat pat pat
    Gannji: The important thing is that it's done, and we don't have to worry about that job ever again.
    Belkar: ...Do you smell ylang-ylang?
    <poster text> WANTED

    Spoiler: Strip 729
    No Real Shocker
    Belkar, Enor, Gannji, Roy

    Enor: ...I'm just saying, fifty thousand seemed like too much to ask.
    Gannji: No, it was a reference to - ah, you know what? Never mind.
    Belkar: It's them. The big one has that moisturizer we found with the poster all over his arm.
    Roy: You're absolutely sure?
    Belkar: Would I lie?
    Roy: Yes.
    Belkar: No, I mean, would I lie if I didn't have anything to gain?
    Roy: Yes.
    Belkar: If i didn't have anything to gain and no one else had anything to lose, and it wouldn't be really funny?
    Roy: ...Probably.
    Belkar: OK, true, but check out their feet: One dragon and one lizardman, just like the tracks we found.
    Roy: Lizardfolk.
    Belkar: What?
    Roy: They're called "lizardfolk" now.
    Belkar: Great. The lizard-feminists must be so proud of you.
    Roy: Let's approach them.
    Belkar: Shouldn't we wait for Stubbles Von Smackhammer?
    Roy: Assuming you mean Durkon, he's upstairs preparing his spells for the day. These two could finish their meal and leave before he's done.
    Belkar: So what? We can just tail them and find out where they're going.
    Roy: Stealth isn't exactly my strength. Strength is my strength. Now come on. Excuse me. I was wondering if you could help me with the whereabouts of some of my friends
    Gannji: Sorry, pal. I have a personal policy of not sharing information on anyone's current location. Scram.
    Roy: Well, I'm sorry, too, since it's a matter of no small urgency. Maybe I can find a way to convince you -
    Gannji: Yeah, you and every other family member or comrade-in-arms. No can do, Sparky. ...I said, "No can do, SPARKY."
    Roy: Yeah, uh, I heard you the first -
    Enor: Oh! Right! The codeword!
    Roy: Codeword for what?
    Gannji: That.
    Belkar: Is this freshly squeezed? Because let me tell you, it's's just fantastic. Can I get a refill in a to-go cup? Thanks.

    Spoiler: Strip 730
    Brunchroom Brawl
    Belkar, Lizardfolk Guard, Human Guard, Enor, Gannji, Warlock, Male Patron, Mr. Scruffy, Roy, Female Patron

    Warlock: You almost made me choke!
    Roy: OK, now, let's not do anything rash. Or clichéd.
    Gannji: <whispering> Come on, out the back door!
    Warlock: Now, learn why warlocks are an eldritch part of this Complete Breakfast!
    Roy: Whoa!
    Gannji: Aaa!
    Enor: Hey! That's my best friend you're -
    Roy: Not so - - FAST! How do you like me NOW, "Sparky"?
    Lizardfolk Guard: HEY!
    Human Guard: I just had this armor dry cleaned!
    <sfx> KRAKKK!
    Roy: Well, I guess one of us was bound to make this spiral out of control. It might as well be me this time.
    Belkar: Oh, I'd love to get involved, but you have to be careful when you're an ass-kicker of our caliber.
    Mr. Scruffy:Meow? Meow?
    Belkar: A small scuffle like this, we'd probably stop it in its tracks by just trouncing everyone involved. And then we wouldn't get to watch it.
    <sfx> thunk.
    Female Patron: Ugggh!!
    Male Patron: I heard a lizardfolk order a bowl of maggots - but why would he fling them at you???
    Female Patron: You can ask him after we kick his scaly green behind.
    Belkar: Much better.

    Spoiler: Strip 731
    Long Tail of the Law
    Barkeeper, Belkar, Empire of Blood Guard 1, Empire of Blood Guard 2, Empire of Blood Guard 3, Enor, Gannji, Roy

    Empire of Blood Guard 1: ON THE FLOOR! NOW!
    Belkar: Crap, it's the fuzz!
    Enor: How can you tell? You all seem sorta fuzzy to me.
    Roy: Belkar, just lay down. Don't resist.
    Belkar: Yeah, 'cause I've never been through a police raid before. I know the protocol, thanks.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: All combatants subdued, sir.
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: Can you tell me who started this brawl?
    Barkeeper: It were the big blue dragon. Him and the skinny lizardfolk attacked the human.
    Empire of Blood Guard 3: Get up, worms! You like to fight so much, we'll find a battle for you!
    Gannji: Yes, OK, yes, but we have permits for lethal violence related to an approved bounty.
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: A bounty? Is the human a fugitive?
    Gannji: No, but we brought three others to the palace this morning. We were defending ourselves against a related retributive act.
    Empire of Blood Guard 3: You'll have to come to the courthouse until we can confirm.
    Gannji: Uh, sure. A flying kobold named Kilkil handled our paperwork up at the palace. It was two humans and an elf.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: Everyone else is free to go -
    Belkar: Sweet!
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: - after we see your papers.
    Roy: ...Uh oh. Which, uh...which papers do you mean?
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: Citizenship papers. Or entry papers, if you're not a resident. Anything with your Denizen Number on it, really.
    Roy: And...if we don't have any papers?
    Gannji: This is all your fault, really.
    Roy: You know you had the wrong twin, right? I hope someone told you it was the wrong twin.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-29 at 02:42 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #185
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 732 to 746
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 732
    The Papers Chase
    Barkeeper, Durkon, Empire of Blood Guard, Mr. Scruffy

    <sfx> scratch! scratch!
    Durkon: Go'way, I'm meditatin'.
    (D): Go away, I'm meditating.
    <sfx> scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch! scratch!
    Durkon: Och, fine! Fine, ye blasted cat. I be done 'cept fer tha cantrips anyway.
    (D): Oh, fine! Fine, you blasted cat. I'm done except for the cantrips anyway.
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow!! Meow!! Meow!! Meow!!
    Durkon: Nay! Nay, I said "cantrip," na "catnip"! Get offa me!
    (D): No! No, I said "cantrip," not "catnip! Get off of me!
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow!!
    Durkon: Where're ye goin'? Dinnae ye wanna use tha litter box?
    (D): Where are you going? Don't you want to use the litter box?
    Durkon: Where be tha halflin' on tha rare occasion when ye need 'im? ...Och, not AGAIN! 'Scuse me, I was wondering' if'n ye knew -
    (D): Where is that halfling on the rare occasion when you need him? ...Oh, not AGAIN! Excuse me, I was wondering if you knew-
    Barkeeper: No, no, no! I'm not talking with you now! I can already barely afford the fine I got levied for lodging your friends.
    Durkon: But it be me friends tha I wanted to ask ye aboot!
    (D): But it is my friends that I wanted to ask you about!
    Barkeeper: Your friends done got themselves arrest for not having entry papers, and if you know what's good for you, you'll make sure yours are in order before looking for them.
    Durkon: Wait 'ere. I gotta go back out o'tha city an' re-enter wit tha proper forms. Stone Shape. Hullo. This where I can get me papers ta enter?
    (D): Wait here. I got to go back out of the city and re-enter with the proper forms. Stone Shape. Hello. This where I can get my papers to enter?
    Empire of Blood Guard: Yup. Name?
    Durkon: Durkon Thundershield.
    Empire of Blood Guard: Race?
    Durkon: Dwarf.
    Empire of Blood Guard: Age?
    Durkon: Fifty-five.
    Empire of Blood Guard: Reason you're entering the city?
    Durkon: Uh...well... Ultimately, I'm 'ere 'cause tha high priest o' Thor sent me onna mission ta learn aboot the ways o' other races, 'specially humans.
    (D): Uh...well... Ultimately, I'm here because the high priest of Thor sent me on a mission to learn about the ways of other races, especially humans.
    Empire of Blood Guard: I'll put down, "Religious pilgrim." How long do you think you'll be staying in the city?
    Durkon: Och, geez...I duuno, I've got a lot o' things ta do already... At least 'til tha end o' tha current plotline.
    (D): Oh, jeez...I don't know, I have got a lot of things to do already... At least until the end of the current plotline.
    Empire of Blood Guard: So, like what? Twenty strips?
    Durkon: Make it thirty. They always run long.

    Spoiler: Strip 733
    Collect Call
    Belkar, Durkon, Roy

    Roy: Ridiculous. How the hell were supposed to know we couldn't just Wind Walk into an alleyway? They should post signs.
    Belkar: You know, I think I could make good money writing a guidebook to the jail cells of the world. Dark but clean, I'd give this three stars - "Would be incarcerated again."
    Roy: This is just a bump in the road. Any minute, Durkon will cast that Sending spell to contact us.
    Belkar: How does the Bearded Wonder contacting you help us tell him where we are?
    Roy: The spell allows a 25-word response. I'll be able to tell him what happened.
    Durkon: Sending! Where be ye? Tha barkeep said ye were seized fer na havin' proper papers, so I got mine.
    (D): Sending! Where are you? The barkeeper said you were seized for not having proper papers, so I got mine.
    Durkon: Did you find Haley, Elan or V?
    (D): Did ye find Haley, Elan or V?
    Roy: Durkon! The prefects holding Belkar and me in a courthouse eight blocks west, five blocks south of the inn. Come and break us out.
    Belkar: Hey, are you talking to Durkon now? Tell him bring Mr. Scruffy.
    Roy: The bad news here is that Sending has a ten-minute casting time, so we have to wait until then before he can respond.
    Belkar: Eh, just do what I do an pretend that ten minutes pass between each panel.
    Durkon: Sending!
    Roy: Hey, that worked pretty well...
    Durkon: Roy, tha prefects an' courts be tha law 'ere. 'Twould be inappropriate fer me ta use physical force ta free ye both from legal detention.
    (D): Roy, the prefects and courts are the law here. It would be inappropriate for me to use physical force to free you both from legal detention.
    Roy: I am not arguing the legalities with you through a Sending! We'll return and serve a week in jail AFTER we're done saving the world.
    Belkar: Will that be before or after my year at Azure City? I should really get a pocket calendar for this stuff.
    Durkon: Sending! I'm sorry, Roy, but I cannae do tha. Technically ye WERE breakin' tha law. I'm sure I can find legitimate ways ta get ye released.
    (D): Sending! I'm sorry, Roy, but I cannot do that. Technically you WERE breaking the law. I'm sure I can find legitimate ways to get you released.
    Roy: Fine, forget us for now. Get Haley. Bounty hunter brought her to the palace. I just hope you prepared enough Sending spells to contact her.
    Durkon: Sending! Of course. I prepar'd FOUR Sendin' spells today, so I should still be havin' one left ta...
    (D): Sending! Of course. I prepared FOUR Sending spells today, so I should still be having one left to...
    <cutback> ... So, ye say they're at tha palace, then?
    (D): ... So, you say they're at the palace, then?
    Roy: *Sigh*
    Belkar: I don't know what just happened, but I feel a sudden urge to help you come up with 25 synonyms for "buffoon".

    Spoiler: Strip 734
    Maybe He Can Get Credit for Time Served
    Belkar, Empire of Blood Guard, Judge, Mr. Jones, Mr. Rodriguez, Roy

    Roy: Haley was brought to a flying kobold named Kilkil. Rendezvous with her, then come find us. I'm sure we'll be safe until then.
    Belkar: That was only 23 words.
    Roy: Hurry up.
    Mr. Jones: Jones and Rodriguez, Attorneys at Law.
    Mr. Rodriguez: We got new suits!
    Roy: Ugh. Not again. Everytime I think we're done with you two, you manage to come back.
    Belkar: Kinda like herpes.
    Mr. Rodriguez: Oh, right! We defended one of those half-woman, half-bird things last week!
    Mr. Jones: No, no, she was a harpy, Phil. Harpies.
    Mr. Rodriguez: I know that, I'm just saying that she got around.
    Mr. Jones: We've been appointed to be your defense lawyers for upcoming trial.
    Roy: When is it scheduled to begin?
    Mr. Jones: What's your move rate?
    Roy: Wait, I don't want you two idiots representing me! My girlfriend is a lawyer!
    Mr. Jones: Yeah? Well, unless you've been dating Phil, you're out of luck.
    Belkar: I've seen her in action, I'm sure you can't be much worse.
    Mr. Rodriguez: I am a very generous lover.
    Judge: ORDER!!
    Empire of Blood Guard: Case #235436-B, the Empire vs. Greenhilt, Bitterleaf. The defendants are accused of failure to produce ID.
    <bench text> EOB
    Mr. Jones: Our clients plead guilty, Your Honor.
    Roy: What?!? No, we don't.
    Mr. Jones: Yes, you do.
    Mr. Jones: <whispering> Listen, here there are two types of accused: Those who plead guilty, and those who piss the judge off with a time-consuming trial before being found guilty.
    Mr. Rodriguez: <whispering> The conviction rate is 114%, and that doesn't even make sense!
    Roy: ...Fine. We plead guilty.
    Judge: Very well. I hereby sentence you to be incarcerated in the Bloodstone Correctional Facility until the day you die.
    Roy: WHAT?!?
    Belkar: Damn it, this happens every time!
    Mr. Jones: *Whew!* We sure dodged a crossbow bolt there.
    Roy: Are you kidding me?! Life in prison, for failure to present papers?
    Mr. Jones: You don't understand. That was incredibly lenient.
    Roy: How do you figure?
    Mr. Jones: Bloodstone is also the city's gladiatorial arena.
    Mr. Rodriguez: You'll be done with your sentence in a week, tops!

    Spoiler: Strip 735
    Of Clerks and Clerics
    Acolyte 1, Acolyte 2, Durkon, Gannji, Kilkil, Malack, Mr. Jones, Mr. Phil Rodriguez

    Acolyte 1: Minister Malack? We have the religious pilgrim we told you about.
    Acolyte 2: He's here to see Chancellor Kilkil, but he hasn't returned yet
    Malack: Yes, yes, show him inside. Welcome to my chapel, Brother - uh...
    Durkon: Thundershield. Durkon Thundershield, priest o' Thor, I uh, I'm tryin' ta find out some information aboot a few prisoners...
    (D): Thundershield. Durkon Thundershield, priest of Thor, I uh, I'm trying to find out some information about a few prisoners...
    Malack: Thor? You're quite a long way from the Northern Continent, Brother Thundershield.
    Durkon: Aye, well, ye know how it be. Ye leave home on one mission, an' soon enuff yer dragged halfway 'cross that world.
    (D): Yes, well, you know how it is. You leave home on one mission, and soon enough you get dragged halfway across that world.
    Malack: Ah, the life of an adventuring cleric. I remember it well. A perpetual struggle to maintain the hit point totals of four or five nigh-suicidal tomb robbers determined to deplete them at all costs. Like bailing out a sinking ship with a thimble, most days.
    Durkon: Ay, aye! It's like, "C'mon! Could ye manage ta go ten minutes without perforating yer aorta? Just once?!?"
    (D): Yes, yes! It's like, "Come on! Could you manage to go ten minutes without perforating your aorta? Just once?!?"
    Malack: Heh heh. Too true. And if not that, then they are whining for you to fix their latest blisters or paper cuts.
    Durkon: Aye, though to be fair, ye do have to watch out fer paper cuts. 'Round where I'm from, we call 'em "treevenge".
    (D): Yes, though to be fair, you do have to watch out for paper cuts. Around where I'm from, we call them "treevenge".
    Malack: Here, sit with me and have some bloodwart tea while you wait.
    Durkon: Dinnea mind if I do. Do ye know aboot how long tha Chancel'r will take to return?
    (D): Don't mind if I do. Do you know about how long the Chancellor will take to return?
    Malack: Not long, I imagine. He needed to run down to the courthouse to testify.
    KilKil: I lost the paperwork.
    Gannji: What? You filled it out this morning! Two humans and an elf? Twelve thousand gold?
    Mr. Jones: Your honor, without proof of the bounty redemption that prompted the brawl, we would like to change our plea to Guilty.
    Mr. Rodriguez: Make that Extra-Guilty. No, SUPER-Guilty. Ultra-Premium Guilty! Please don't hurt us.
    Gannji: Your little creep, how could you lose a simple piece of paper in two hours??
    KilKil: I'm - I'm sorry, it wasn't my - look, I was given a note for you. Just - just read the note.
    <note text> No one extorts money from me in front of my son. I look forward to seeing you die in the arena. - Tarquin
    Gannji: That double-crossing son of a mongoose!!
    KilKil: He also wanted me to add, "Pray I don't alter it any further." He said you'd know what it meant.

    Spoiler: Strip 736
    Do You Like Comics About Gladiators?
    Belkar, Warden, Prisoner, Roy

    Belkar: OK, I officially want to leave, now.
    Roy: Really? I thought fighting for the amusement of the crowd would be right up your alley.
    Belkar: Sure, but not in sandals. I mean, seriously. Also, everyone here could use a little less loin and a lot more cloth.
    Warden: Alright, you sons of whores! You are now all officially gladiators, and it's my job to whip you into shape so the fine people of this empire can watch you all be killed, gruesomely. Now listen closely, because I'm about to tell you how it's going to be in this hellhole for the rest of your short, miserable lives. First, I'm going to line you up and shout at you. I'll belittle you, call you a few names, and repeatedly mention how you are probably all going to die. Actually, that's the part we're doing right now, so we're running a little ahead of schedule. Then, you will be allowed to wander the common area, where the other prisoners will snarl at you, steal the pieces of bread that are being handed out, and generally act like insecure schoolyard bullies. At that time, one of you will defend a weaker prisoner from said bullies, possibly giving him your own bread. This will create a close friendship between the two of you, most likely with strong homosexual overtones that will not be fully explored. Later, the weaker gladiator will be killed in the arena, and then you will kill the one who killed him in a big climatic match. Oh, and before I forget, you will remain stripped to the waist with your muscles oiled at all times, for no apparent purpose. See the Oil Steward if your skin becomes dry for any reason.
    <text> OIL
    <text> SNAKE OIL
    Warden: Where was I? Ah, right- The part where one of you catches the eye of a beautiful noblewoman while fighting, only to reject her amorous advances.
    Roy: OK, I think as long as we avoid being the though-looking guys who get knocked out in the first round to show how strong the champion is, we'll be fine.
    Belkar: Sorry, wasn't listening. Gimme that!
    Prisoner: Hey!

    Spoiler: Strip 737
    Comparative Mythology
    Durkon, Dwarf, Hel, Malack, Thor, Xykon

    Durkon: -an' then tha orcs started worshippin' tha NEW puppet!
    (D): -and then the orcs started worshipping the NEW puppet!
    Malack: Heh heh heh. Amusing. I must say, it has been some time since I have entertained a fellow cleric of equal standing. Priests of the Western Gods are much like their flock: always feuding over one thing or another.
    <sfx> sip!
    Durkon: Really? Tha Northern Gods be pretty much all one big family.
    (D): Really? The Northern Gods are pretty much all one big family.
    Malack: Yes, the Western Gods, too, but that didn't stop the high priestess of Ishtar from peeing on my altar the last time she visited. I had to bleach the whole thing. Twice.
    Durkon: Ugh! Och, great drunken gods above! Wha in Thor's unsanitary ear canal is in this - Uh, I mean, tell me, which gods be thar upon yer altar? Over thar? Behind ye?
    (D): Ugh! Oh, great drunken gods above! What in Thor's unsanitary ear canal is in this - Uh, I mean, tell me, which gods are there upon your altar? Over there? Behind you?
    Malack: My master is Nergal, lion-headed god of Death and Destruction. His fiery rage brings the end of all things. His wife, Ereshkagal, goddess of the Underworld, stands by his side. You know, neither gods of Death nor their clerics are necessarily Evil. That's a common misconception.
    Durkon: Uh huh.
    (D): Uh huh.
    Malack: If anything, Neutrality suits them better.
    Durkon: Fascinatin'.
    (D): Fascinating.
    Malack: If the power of Death were truly Evil, it would take only the pure and heroic, wouldn't it?
    Durkon: Aye, well, after awhile, it starts ta seem like tha's exactly tha case. Only tha Good die fer good, they say. Anyhoo, I woulda thought ye'd worship Tiamat, on account o' bein' a lizard.
    (D): Yes, well, after a while, it starts to seem like that's exactly the case. Only the Good die for good, they say. Anyhow, I would have thought you would worship Tiamat, on account of being a lizard.
    Malack: No, Tiamat is a fine deity, but she prefers the kobolds to us lizardfolk. Plus she has little inerest in building a strong central government, like we're doing here in the Empire.
    Malack: <voiceover> Her followers prefer to hang around in dark caves or hidden valleys, rather than get too involved with world politics.
    <text> The Oracle is OUT
    Xykon: Nuts.
    <end flashback>
    Malack: Does not your own pantheon have a goddess of Death? Hel, I think?
    Durkon: Well, sorta, but nobody worships 'er, much less serves as 'er priest! She's keeper o' tha dishonored dwarven dead - those tha dinnae fall in battle, 'specially those dyin' o' sickness.
    (D): Well, sort of, but nobody worships her, much less serves as her priest! She's keeper of the dishonored dwarven dead - those that did not fall in battle, especially those dying of sickness.
    Malack: Wait. Do not dwarven souls rest on the Outer Plane that matches their alignment, asi it is with my people, or the humans?
    Durkon: Only those, tha die wit honor. Tha rest be lumped tagether an' sent ta Hel. Tha's OK, tho, since most sick dwarves'll just pick a fight wit a conifer an' die in battle. Also, thar be some grey areas.
    (D): Only those, that die with honor. The rest is lumped together and sent to Hel. That's OK, though, since most sick dwarves will just pick a fight with a conifer and die in battle. Also, there are some grey areas.
    Hel: He died of disease, that means he's mine!
    Thor: But the disease was mummy rot, and he contracted it defending an orphanage!
    Hel: Bah!
    Dwarf: ???
    Durkon: Also, anyone dyin' o' alcohol-related illnesses be exempt. Na so much fer tha dwarf's sake as ta honor tha brave livers tha fought so long against tha inevitable. Cheers.
    (D): Also, anyone dying of alcohol-related illnesses is exempt. Not so much for the dwarf's sake as to honor the brave livers that fought so long against the inevitable. Cheers.

    Spoiler: Strip 738
    Pooling Resources
    Belkar, Enor, Gannji, Roy

    Gannji: Get your grubby monkey paws off me, human! And I don't need your standard-issue loincloth, I've been walking around without pants this entire time! It's called a genital sheath, look it up.
    <sfx> clonk! clonk! clonk!
    Gannji: Hey, while you're at it, look up "hemipenes," because you can suck both of my-
    Roy: Hey Belkar, look who's Get Out of Jail Free card got shuffled back into the deck. It's nice to know that injustice is blind around here.
    Gannji: YOU! We wouldn't be here if you hadn't -
    Roy: - asked you an entirely reasonable question, to which you responded with violence?
    Gannji: Yes! Exactly! What were you possibly thinking??? Too bad about your friends. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that they're being tortured to death in the palace. Where "tortured to death" may or may not mean "having a nationwide festival thrown in their honor".
    Roy: Rescuing them is already covered, thanks. Look, we're all in the same boat here. I don't think anyone wants to fight and kill another prisoner.
    Belkar: Actually -
    Roy: Except possibly Belkar. I'm willing to accept that, as bounty hunters, you were just doing your job when you captured my friends. Your shockingly amateurish slipshod job. Why don't we forget those past grievances and try to work together?
    Gannji: No thanks. Last time I trusted a mammal, we ended up in here. Besides, I may not want to be here, but I'm not going to miss a free pass to mess you up. So pray to your weird Northern Gods that you never end up in the arena with my boy Enor here. Without all your fancy magic items, he'll tear your heart out and eat it.
    Enor: But Gannji, I don't like human hearts. They're too chewy.
    Gannji: You'll eat his heart and like it. It's full of vitamins and minerals.
    Enor: *sigh* OK.
    Belkar: You should try his heart sautéed in garlic. It'll soften it up and really bring out that hearty flavor.
    Roy: BELKAR! That is not what I meant when I suggested that we work together!
    Belkar: Hey, I'm trying here! I have exactly two skillsets, and you get mad when I use the other one!

    Spoiler: Strip 739
    A New Friend
    Durkon, Elan, Empire of Blood Guard, Haley, Malack, Roy & Elan, Tarquin

    Empire of Blood Guard: The general has a feast planned for tonight, then a full day of activities planned for tomorrow, including a parade at dusk for which you will be the honoree.
    Elan: Do you think V will be done trancing soon?
    Haley: Almost, honey.
    Elan: Awesome! I reeeeeeally want Roy to meet my dad!!
    Elan: <thinking>
    Tarquin: Since Roy's father is dead, I've decided to legally adopt him! Now you're for-real brothers!
    Roy & Elan: HOORAY!
    Tarquin: Also, you both get puppies.
    Durkon: Ye sure ye dinnae mind if'n I borrow this book? I dinnae know when I may get ta return it, if ever.
    (D): You sure you don't mind if I borrow this book? I don't know when I may get to return it, if ever.
    Malack: Not at all, it is easily replaceable. The subject matter is very common in my religion - though I imagine you may be able to adapt some of the more mystical aspects to your own.
    Durkon: Aye, well, I'll be puttin' 'em ta good - Wait -
    (D): Yes, well, I'll be putting them to good - Wait -
    Elan: Hey, do you think Roy will mind calling my mother "Mom" when Dad remarries her?
    Haley: Do I even want to know the chain of thoughts that led to that question?
    <wall text> LIBRARY
    <card text> Dewey decimal system strictly enforced.
    Durkon: Uh, I'm sorry, Minist'r Malack, but I...I haf ta go.
    (D): Uh, I'm sorry, Minister Malack, but I...I have to go.
    Malack: What? But the Chancellor has not yet returned.
    Durkon: Ya, well, somethin' just came up.
    (D): Yes, well, something just came up.
    Malack: I was just about to invite you to be my guest at this state dinner I must attend tonight.
    Durkon: Och, uh, sorry aboot tha, but I'll haf ta take a rain check.
    (D): Oh, uh, sorry about that, but I'll have to take a rain check.
    Malack: This is a desert. It doesn't rain.
    Durkon: Still.
    Malack: Very well, I shall escort you out.
    Durkon: NO! Uh, no, tha won't be necessary.
    (D): NO! Uh, no, that won't be necessary.
    Malack: Are you sure? The palace is still unfinished, I'd hate to see you get -
    Durkon: I'll just use me dwarven ability ta detect new construction, an' then go tha other way.
    (D): I'll just use my dwarven ability to detect new construction, and then go the other way.
    Malack: As you wish. I enjoyed our little discussion thoroughly, Brother Thundershield.
    Durkon: Aye, as did I. Gave me a lot ta think aboot. It's a shame we cannae keep in touch.
    (D): Yes, as did I. Gave me a lot to think about. It's a shame we cannot keep in touch.
    Malack: I have a magic item that might help with that.
    <book text> macebook Profile. Friends. Deities. Spells. Macebook helps you connect and share with the clerics in your life. Seek and Ye Shall fiend. Applications. Illuminations. Holy Orders. High Holy Days. Wall of Knowledge. Malack, Priest of Nergal is discussing theology. Kotor, Padalin of Marduk joined the group Need a Rez. Nyr-Azul, Priest of Tiamat has updated his location. Kotor, Padalin of Marduk has updated his location. Kotor, Padalin of Marduk is smackin' dragons, yo. Yinnak, Priestess of Ishtar is in a relationship. Add Durkon Thundershield as a friend? Durkon will have to confirm that you are friends. Show in Ennucation Feed. Send Calling.

    Spoiler: Strip 740
    The Great(ish) Escape
    Durkon, Elan, Empire of Blood Guard, Haley, Tarquin

    Empire of Blood Guard: And right down this hallway is our seamstress. The general has requested -
    Durkon: Hold Person!
    <sfx> WHUMP!
    Elan: Oof! Oh, man. That guard needs to get his brake lights checked.
    Durkon: Elan! Haley! This way!
    Elan: Durkon! You're here! What are you dong?
    Durkon: Thor's sternum, what does it look like I'm doin'? I'm mountin' a one-dwarf rescue mission! Now c'mon, 'fore tha guard breaks free o' tha par'lyzation.
    (D): Thor's sternum, what does it look like I'm doing? I'm mounting a one-dwarf rescue mission! Now common, before the guard breaks free of the paralyzation.
    Elan: But we don't need to be rescued. We're guests!
    Durkon: Elan, when yer captor refers ta ye as 'is "guests," he's just usin' an ironic euphemism. Yer na ACTUALLY 'is guests!
    (D): Elan, when your captor refers to you as his "guests," he's just using an ironic euphemism. Your not ACTUALLY his guests!
    Elan: Except in this case, when we are.
    Haley: Turns out the head general for this empire is Elan's long-lost father.
    Durkon: Wha? Yer kiddin'! Geez, wha be tha chances o' tha??
    (D): What? You're kidding! Geez, what are the chances of that??
    Elan: Ummm...
    Durkon: Och, right. Like, a hunnerd percent, in this comic.
    (D): Oh, right. Like, a hundred percent, in this comic.
    Haley: He has us staying in the guest quarters, back the way we came. V's still there now, trancing so we could Send to you...though I guess it doesn't matter anymore.
    Durkon: It still matters, lass. Roy an' Belkar been thrown in jail by tha local 'thorities.
    (D): It still matters, lass. Roy and Belkar been thrown in jail by the local authorities
    Haley: Crap! We need to break Roy out of there! And then decide what to do about Belkar!
    Durkon: Now, hold on, lass. Keepin' ye from hangin' fer Nale's crimes be one thing. But tha law got Roy an' Belkar fair an' square. We'll haf ta work witin tha system ta -
    (D): Now, hold on, lass. Keeping you from hanging for Nale's crimes is one thing. But the law got Roy and Belkar fair and square. We'll have to work within the system to -
    Haley: *sigh* Can we wait to discuss this until we're in private? Hello, Mr. Guard? Sorry about the paralyzation, it'll wear off in a minute, at the most. Here's a 500gp tip for the inconvenience. If the general asks, tell him we had to run back to our room to rest.
    Elan: Wait, Haley - we need a more believable story than that.
    Tarquin: ...So they went back to their quarters to give their pet orangutan a bath?
    Empire of Blood Guard: That's what he said, sir.
    Tarquin: Heh. I guess that's what the kids are calling it these days. Good job, son.

    Spoiler: Strip 741
    Scheduling Conflict
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Roy, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: We could just ask my dad to release them, couldn't we?
    Durkon: Well, a bit unorth'dox, but if'n he has tha legal 'thority ta do so...
    (D): Well, a bit unorthodox, but if he has the legal authority to do so...
    Haley: Yeah, I'd rather avoid telling Tarquin any more about us than is absolutely 100% necessary. Let's find out what Roy wants to do. V, are you done preparing your Sending spell?
    Vaarsuvius: My trance is complete, yes.
    Haley: Good. I worked out exactly what I want you to Send to Roy.
    Belkar: These wooden swords are ridiculous.
    Roy: They're intended to be nonlethal.
    Belkar: I know! That's why they're so stupid. If you can't kill someone with a piece of wood, you should get out of the killing business.
    Vaarsuvius: Sending!
    Roy: I should become a cleric. The gods answered my silent prayer for someone else to talk to.
    Belkar: I mean, a nice jagged splinter to the jugular, just off the top of my head.
    Vaarsuvius: Durkon, Haley, Elan, myself: safe, reunited. Guest of government; head general is Elan's father. Knows Girard somehow. Agreed to spill details three days hence. Jailbreak?
    Roy: Hmmm...
    Belkar: Blunt force head trauma...ruptured spleen...grind it up and force feed it to them until their intestine bleeds...
    Roy: Negative. First lead on Girard: too important. Don't rock the boat, be good guest. get all information form general, THEN jailbreak. We'll survive until then.
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt has instructed us not to liberate him at this time, as he feels it would prove disruptive to our efforts to glean what Tarquin knows about Draketooth.
    Durkon: Really? Be we sure this Tarquin na be lyin' aboot knowin' Girard?
    (D): Really? Are we sure this Tarquin is not lying about knowing Girard?
    Haley: As sure as we can be. He was able to describe him accurately, and it's not like Girard is a public figure. He's been hiding down in a dungeon for, like, sixty years.
    Elan: Also, my dad wouldn't lie to me.
    Haley: ...Right. That, too.
    Mr. Scruffy: mmRrrowr!
    Belkar: You told them NOT to rescue us?? Look, I know it's nice to let the boys air out for a while, but-
    Roy: Relax. That crazy warden said the gladiatorial games are held on the weekend. Haley will know whatever this general knows in three days, and then she'll spring us post-haste. This is a fantastic opportunity to gather data we really need if we're serious about stopping Xykon. And all we have to do is endure a few days of oily sweating.
    <poster text> SPECIAL MID-WEEK GAMES! Our bloodiest ever! In honor of General Tarquin's son! Gladiators WILL fight! Prisoners WILL die! And you WILL be distracted from our brutal oppressive regime until Saturday! ALSO: Bread! Circuses!

    Spoiler: Strip 742
    Monkey Do
    Amun-Zora, Elan, Gourntonk, Haley, Tarquin

    Haley: I can't believe you're wearing that again.
    Elan: Haley, it's a formal dinner. Nothing is more formal than a sash. NOTHING. See?
    Tarquin: Elan! Haley! You two crazy kids done "scrubbing the monkey," I take it?
    Elan: Yeah, uh, but it's still pretty dirty. We may have to wash it again after we eat.
    Tarquin: HA! That's my boy! Make sure you wash behind the ears, if you know what I mean.
    Elan: Suddenly, I don't think I do.
    Tarquin: Here, let me make some introductions. Elan, this is Polozius, our ambassador from elven lands. And this is Gourntonk, our liaison with the bordering nation of Reptilia.
    Gourntonk: Will the Empress be joining us this evening, General?
    Tarquin: No, no. We've decided it's best if the Empress avoids eating in front of guest from now on. Too much clean up, both from her meal and from guests losing theirs. And this is Captain Amun-Zora, of the Free City of Doom. She's been petitioning me for military aid.
    Amun-Zora: General Tarquin! Pleas, I must speak with you. General, it has been seven months since the Empire of Tears began their siege of our city. Our children are starving! If not for our sake, do it for your own, lest the Weepies decide to attack you next in their misguided drive to conquer us all!
    Tarquin: Yes, yes. I've heard these arguments before. Luckily, our benevolent Empress has given me full discretion in this manner. I have already dispatched 500 dragoons to join the battle, Captain. They should be arriving...oh, I'd say tomorrow? Dawnish?
    Amun-Zora: R-really? Let the alliance between the Empire of Blood and the Free City of Doom stand forever!
    Elan: See, Haley? My dad is a good guy! He's helping that nice lady's city.
    Haley: Helping defend against a mutual enemy is good strategy, but not necessarily altruism. Plus, I think he may had an ulterior motive. Look.
    Amun-Zora: I don't know how I can begin to properly thank you for your deeds.
    Tarquin: No need, my dear. Although there are many ways to seal alliances, some of which are more entertaining than others. I may be a silverback, but your old man can still bathe an ape himself from time to time.
    Elan: Wait - so you're saying that your're going back to your quarters to have a meeting with your secret dwarf ally?
    Tarquin: Ha ha! I wouldn't call him a dwarf, but there will definitely be some spelunking involved!
    Elan: OK, now I'm SURE I don't understand.

    Spoiler: Strip 743
    Strip 743: Dinner Conversion
    Durkon, Elan, Haley, Malack, Tarquin

    Malack: I am pleased that you reconsidered my invitation, Brother Thundershield.
    Durkon: Aye, well, tha urgent matter 'came a lot less urgent alluva sudden.
    (D): Aye, well, the urgent matter became a lot less urgent all of a sudden.
    Malack: These state dinners are fairly tedious, I must admit, especially since I do not even eat the food.
    Durkon: Really? I woulda thought they'd haf food fe lizardfolks 'ere, too.
    (D): Really? I would have thought they'd have food for lizardfolks here, too.
    Malack: Oh, they do. But I require a very special diet, due to my frail health. I will eat in my quarters later.
    Tarquin: ...And you've met Minister Malack, though I do not believe even I have had the pleasure of knowing his guest.
    Malack: This is Durkon Thundershield, General Tarquin. A religious pilgrim studying human cultures.
    Tarquin: Fantastic! The more, the merrier, I say.
    Elan: It is nice to meet you for the first time, Durkon Thundershield, dwarven cleric of Thor who I have never met before.
    Durkon: *sigh*
    (D): *sigh*
    Tarquin: Wait. How did he know the dwarf worshipped Thor?
    Haley: Uh...bardic lore.
    Tarquin: Impressive.
    Durkon: <whispering> Explain ta me again why we're pretending na ta know each other.
    (D): Explain to me again why we're pretending not to know each other.
    Haley: <whispering> Because I don't trust Tarquin. Or Malack, for that matter.
    Durkon: <whispering> Ye dinnae trust anyone! Ye think marsupials be shady 'cause they haf a secret pouch!
    (D): Your don't trust anyone! You think marsupials are shady because they have a secret pouch!
    Haley: <whispering> They could have a knife in there, you don't know! And I don't trust those two extra. Tarquin pushed me out of a window and Malack was willing to feed Elan to a dragon. When the +5 Shoe of Otherness drops, I don't want all of our cards on the table.
    Durkon: <whispering> I'm sure tha was just a misunderstandin'. Malack's been nuthin but polite ta me. I'm na lyin' ta 'im just ta satisfy yer paranoia.
    (D): I'm sure that was just a misunderstanding. Malack's been nothing but polite to me. I'm not lying to him just to satisfy your paranoia.
    Haley: <whispering> Then just stay quiet! You don't have to lie - the chances of them directly asking you whether or not we know each other is, like, nil.
    Malack: Look at you two, chattering away in the corner. Do you know each other?
    Haley: Darn it!
    Durkon: Aye, actually, we do. Haley be-
    (D): Yes, actually, we do. Haley is-
    Haley: -a worshipper of Thor!
    Durkon: Wha??
    (D): What??
    Haley: And Father Thundershield was there when I converted.
    Durkon: <whispering> What be ye doin'??? Yer no worshipper o' Thor!
    (D): What are you doing??? You're no worshipper of Thor!
    Haley: <whispering> Sure I am. I just converted. And you were there. Nothing but the truth.
    Haley: Wooo! I just love that Thor! Gimme another beer! I hate tress! And grooming! Praise Thor!
    <sfx> glug! glug! glug!
    Malack: As a cleric, it's always nice when you get to see the impact you've made on your flock.
    Durkon: Aye, an' I'm considerin' making a more hammer-shaped one presently.
    (D): Yes, and I'm considering making a more hammer-shaped one presently.

    Spoiler: Strip 744
    A Tale of Two Suppers
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Geoff, Gourntonk, Guest 1, Guest 2, Haley, Ian Starshine, Malack, Roy, Tarquin, Waiter

    Tarquin: I must say, Son, you've certainly picked a spirited girl for yourself.
    Elan: Thanks, Dad. Though, she's usually not so...what's the word I'm looking for...?
    Tarquin: *Drunk*?
    Elan: Yeah, that.
    Haley: ...and THAT is how a picture of Thor ended up on the helmets of the team from Minnesota.
    Malack: Fascinating. I have never come across that particular myth before.
    Durkon: Aye, yer na tha only one.
    (D): Yes, you're not the only one.
    Gourntonk: What is this we're eating?
    Waiter: Phoenix pâté, sir.
    Guest 1: Mmm! Spicy!
    Guest 2: Oof, this is going to repeat on me later.
    Elan: Wait, don't phoenixes explode when they die?
    Tarquin: Right, which is why it's so pricey. The liver has to be cut out while the bird is still alive.
    Elan: ...I think I'll wait for the main course.
    Tarquin: Yes, pegasus flank is my favorite, too.
    Elan: Or possibly dessert.
    Haley: See, Thor once carried a hammer, a drill, AND a screwdriver, but then his evil neighbor Loki was building a deck, and asked to borrow-
    Durkon: Och! Tha be IT!!
    (D): Oh! That is IT!!
    Durkon: <whispering> Enough o' this! Ye cannae keep pretendin' ta -
    (D): Enough of this! You cannot keep pretending to -
    Haley: <whispering> Zip it, Grandpa!
    Durkon: <whispering> I'm tha same age category as ye!
    (D): I'm the same age category as you!
    Haley: <whispering> What part of "Mind your own business" do you not understand?
    Durkon: <whispering> Tha part where ye dinnae actually say that!
    (D): The part where you didn't actually say that!
    Haley: <whispering> I wouldn't be 1d3+1 sheets to the wind right now if you were capable of loosening up. My brain cells are taking one for the team, so just go about your business and hobnob with the fancy people.
    Durkon: <whispering> An' wha if eveythin' turns out ta be on tha up an'up? Then ye'll haf lied ta people who could've helped us find Girard! Elan, will ye tell yer girlfriend ta stop tha charade while she can?
    (D): And what if everything turns out ta be on the up and up? Then you'll have lied to people who could have helped us find Girard! Elan, will you tell your girlfriend to stop the charade while she can?
    Elan: ...
    Haley: Elan? Hello, Prime Material Plane to Elan?
    Durkon: Lad?
    (D): Lad?
    Elan: Oh, sorry, guys. I was just thinking. It's this new thing I've been trying. I feel bad for the others, you know? I mean, here we've got this huge - if sorta gross - banquet in front of us... ...while Belkar and Roy are probably starving right as we spek. It's just not fair.
    Belkar: *burp!* I have never eaten so much bread in my entire life.
    Roy: Again, I'm really sorry about this. Here, take my loaf.
    Geoff: Nah, it's OK. We cultivate a variety of nutritious parasites on our bodies for just such an occasion.
    Ian: Mmmm! These ones taste like neck!

    Spoiler: Strip 745
    It Does Beat Scissors
    Belkar, Prisoner 1, Prisoner 2, Prisoner 3, Prisoner 4, Prisoner 5, Roy

    Prisoner 1: Come On! He's three feet tall!
    Prisoner 2: He's right! We're all unarmed in here, we should be able to overpower him.
    Prisoner 3: Yeah! You're going down, you little creep!
    Belkar: ♪
    Prisoner 2: Crap!
    Prisoner 4: Look Out!
    Prisoner 1: He's got a pebble!!
    Prisoner 3: What?
    Prisoner 5: Run!
    Prisoner 3: What the hell is wrong with you? Someone grab his legs.
    Prisoner 2: Don't you get it? He's a halfling. WITH A PEBBLE.
    Prisoner 3: So What?
    Prisoner 2: "So What?" Do you know how many bonuses he could have with a thrown rock?
    Prisoner 1: I heard a halfling once poked out both of a guy's eyes with the same sling stone!
    Prisoner 4: I knew a guy whose cousin was hit by a rock thrown by a halfling. Three months later, he was eaten by a tiger!!
    Prisoner 2: I'm outta here.
    Prisoner 1: I'd rather take my changes in the arena!
    Prisoner 3: At least we'd be armed.
    Prisoner 4: Get back here, you cowards!
    Belkar: There may be no halfling lands here, but our awesomeness precedes us.
    Roy: Don't you have better things to do than harass the locals?
    Belkar: Not really. I would be digging a tunnel to freedom and covering it with a poster of Lidda, but you put the kibosh on escaping.
    Roy: Still, I though you turned over a less bitter leaf. So much for helping out, I guess.
    Belkar: Oh, I am helping. I'm helping maintain the structure of civilization.
    Roy: ...OK, see, I want to let that go without comment, but no. It's too much. Explain.
    Belkar: Well, I've been thinking about why all these human countries lock people up. And I see now that it's not just about sending the people you don't like to jail. (Though that part is hilarious.) It's also about scaring all the other people with the threat of going to jail. So anything that makes the prison experience more miserable - such as getting your only food stole by a ruggedly handsome halfling - - should serve to reduce crime in the long run! Face it: Me being a total jackass is an important part of the corrections process!
    Roy: Personally, I favor corporal punishment. Here, I'll show you.

    Spoiler: Strip 746
    Ask Your Grandparents
    Belkar, Geoff, Ian Starshine, Roy

    Belkar: Hey, if you want the failed rehabilitation of all these prisoners on your conscience, take your best shot.
    Roy: Do not use the word "conscience" in a sentence ever again.
    Belkar: Whatever. I'm going to go wave my pebble around them for a while.
    Roy: Belkar! BELKAR!
    Geoff: Eh, best to let it go, kid.
    Ian: Yeah, trust us. We've been around, and there's always one like him in every batch of newbies.
    Roy: Don't take offense at this, but you two seem a little old to be gladiators.
    Geoff: Offense? Around here, it's the highest compliment!
    Ian: "Not dying" is one of my best skills!
    Roy: What I mean is, you look like you've been in here a long time. You must be pretty powerful fighters.
    Geoff: Nah. You don't have to be good at fighting to survive.
    Ian: You have to be good at not getting put on the list.
    Geoff: There are hundreds of prisoners in this place, but the average gladiatorial games only has time for maybe two dozen to duke it out.
    Ian: The warden gives priority to two groups: The best warriors, who put on a great show fighting - and the worst warriors, who put on a great show dying.
    Geoff: The two of us, we stay in the middle of the pack. We dodge a lot.
    Ian: So they stopped putting us on the fight schedule.
    Geoff: He's better at it than I am, obviously.
    Ian: I haven't been in the arena in months!
    Roy: Well, thanks for the tip, but I'm not planning on being around long enough for it to be much of an issue. Even if they put me in the arena, I'm not going to execute a possibly innocent prisoner for them. They can't force me to fight.
    Geoff: No, but they can send a few dozen soldiers to kill you where you stand. Or they'll just feed you to the allosaurus.
    Roy: ...Allosaurus? As in, giant flesh-eating dinosaur?
    Ian: 'Fraid so.
    Roy: Geez, what the hell is wrong with this country? Every thing I learn about it makes it more awful!
    Geoff: Eh, that's the way things are around here. You should feel lucky -
    Ian: - they used to have MUCH scarier monster!
    Roy: ...Wow, that's, uh,... That's a bit of a dated reference, don't you think?
    Geoff: Tell you what, you get back to me after your first grandchild is born and we'll see how daisy-fresh YOUR pop culture jokes are, OK?
    Ian: I told you we should've gone with one of those "Pokey-Men" the kids are always talking about.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-29 at 02:42 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #186
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 747 to 763
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 747
    Make it Three, Just to Be Safe
    Durkon, Elan, Haley, Hinjo, Vaarsuvius

    Haley: Hey V, I got drunk and converted religions!
    Elan: Not in that order.
    Durkon: Foolish lass, I dinnae know wha she be thinkin' most o' tha time.
    (D): Foolish lass, I didn't know what she be thinking most of the time.
    Vaarsuvius: I hope the dinner was at least satisfactory, then?
    Durkon: Dunno. We dinnae eat anythin'.
    (D): Don't know. We didn't eat anything.
    Elan: I think my dad accidentally hired an Evil chef.
    Vaarsuvius: I see. You may help yourself to the hummus that the steward brought for me, but I should warn you: There may be as many as forty spices involved, and I cannot personally vouch for where each of them falls on the alignment chart.
    Elan: Mmm! I think we're OK, they taste like they're mostly Chaotic.
    Haley: Baby. I'm gonna sit on this spin until the room stops chairing.
    Durkon: Our evenin' was more 'r less a bust, wit regards ta intelligence. In both senses o' tha word. How did yers go?
    (D): Our evening was more or less a bust, with regards to intelligence. In both senses of the word. How did yours go?
    Vaarsuvius: As well as expected. Which is to say, not well. I was unsuccessful in contacting either Draketooth or Miss Toormuck with my Sending spell. It is impossible to tell if my spell reached them, but if it did, they were wither unwilling or unable to respond in kind. I was however, able to communicate with Lord Hinjo.
    Hinjo: According to Thanh, the goblin cleric announced to his troops that he was leaving "soon." Search for phylactary proceeds unabated, however. Situation is otherwise unchanged.
    <end flashback>
    Durkon: Och, then Xykon an' company could be leavin' ta find Girard's Gate any day now.
    (D): Oh, then Xykon and company could be leaving to find Girard's Gate any day now.
    Vaarsuvius: Choosing to proceed even without locating the amulet? Yes, I concur.
    Durkon: I hope Roy knows wha he's doin' with this "wait-an'-see" plan.
    (D): I hope Roy knows what he's doing with this "wait-and-see" plan.
    Vaarsuvius: Again, I concur.
    Elan: Don't worry, guys. I'm sure my dad will be willing to help us once this festival is over.
    Haley: Thor's beard, Elan! What the heck is it going to take for you to see that your dad is bad news? Do you need, like, 200-foot-tall flaming letters or something??
    Vaarsuvius: If so, I believe I could research a spell for that.
    Elan: Haley, if Dad's so bad, why is he helping us, huh?
    Haley: He's not! He's not helping us, Elan! He knows what we need right now, and he won't tell us. Lives are at stake!
    Elan: But he doesn't KNOW that lives are at stake! You wanted to keep that a secret
    Haley: Because I don't trust him!
    Elan: You don't trust him partly because of how he's acting when lives are at stake!
    Haley: But he's - I mean, he's - But -
    <sfx> swipe! glug! glug! glug!
    Durkon: Lass! Dinnae ye think ye've drank enough?!?
    (D): Lass! Don't you think you've drank enough?!?
    Haley: Depends. Am I drunk enough yet that later, I won't remember getting out-logicked by Elan?
    Durkon: Och! Na. Ye'll need at least two more pints fer tha.
    (D): Oh! No. You'll need at least two more pints for that.
    Elan: I'll go order another round.

    Spoiler: Strip 748
    Top of the List
    Belkar, Empire of Blood Guard 1, Empire of Blood Guard 2, Empire of Blood Guard 3, Empire of Blood Guard 4, Gannji, Warden, Oil Steward, Prisoner 1, Roy

    Warden: Mornin'. How's the new blood workin' out?
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: The dragon's on the schedule for tomorrow's games, but I'm not sure about anyone else.
    Belkar: Come on, Roy, what the hell? I've seen more competent battle moves from a hexblade.
    Roy: Keep it down! The old guys said that if we're mediocre, they won't schedule us to fight.
    Belkar: So...if I'm extra-awesome, then they definitely WILL schedule me to fight?
    Roy: I suppose, but I don't see how that would help our -
    Prisoner 1: Aaah!
    <sfx> thwonk!
    Belkar: Hey! Scheduling dudes! Look at me! Over here!! How about nut shots?
    <sfx> thjunk!
    Belkar: Crowds love nut shots. Saget was on the air for like 8 years.
    <sfx> thonk! thonk!
    Belkar: Everyon, follow the bouncing halfling!
    Warden: Hey, he's pretty good.
    Empire of Blood Guard 1: I think we found our headliner.
    Empire of Blood Guard 2: Heh heh...nut shots.
    Gannji: Heads up, mammals!
    <sfx> shove!
    Belkar: Ooof!
    Belkar: Hey, this is even better! Thanks, reptilian guy!
    <sfx> thonk!
    Roy: Ow! Belkar, stop it!
    Belkar: What, Roy? I'm helping you! I'm making sure you look mediocre, isn't that what you want?
    <sfx> thonk! thonk!
    Roy: Stop it! Belkar, I said stop! OW!
    <sfx> thonk! thonk! thonk! thonk! thonk!
    Roy: I SAID STOP IT.
    <sfx> WUNK!
    Oil Steward: Are you OK?
    Belkar: 'mfine. Halflings may only be able to advance to level 8, but I've got Attack Rank G.
    Empire of Blood Guard 3: That boy got his ass knocked back to Basic!
    Empire of Blood Guard 4: Damn!
    Warden: Put the human in the first slot, and the blue dragon as number two.

    Spoiler: Strip 749
    Savings and Trust
    Amun-Zora, Elan, Empire of Blood Guard, Haley, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Haley: My brain feels like a psion...did some psiony stuff. Ugh, I don't have the energy to think up a good one-liner right now. Oh, hey, baby. You're up early. Well, if you're seeing Durkon, ask him whether Thor has blessed his people with any decent hangover cures.
    Elan: No, he went to Malack's library. I'm spending the day with my dad. He's giving me a tour of the whole city today.
    Haley: Elan, about your Dad...
    Elan: If you're going to say more meanie meanhead stuff about him, please don't.
    Haley: Actually, I wanted to apologize. You were right. I wasn't giving him the chance to do the right thing. And it was wrong for me to then judge him for that.
    Elan: Great! So you see that ma dad's not a bad guy now?
    Haley: No, of course not. This is still an awful, AWFUL country, and your dad has his fingerprints all over it. But I can admit that we don't know how many of the terrible things that seem to go on here are really under his control. He's not the king. The Empress may be dumb, but she's still an evil red dragon. And that Malack, he's definitely up to no good, no matter what Durkon says. I can't get mad at your dad for working with bad people. I mean, we work with Belkar.
    Elan: Right! Maybe my dad is like this country's Roy, and it would be a whole lot worse without him.
    Haley: ...Maybe. Anyway, have fun with your tour of the city, honey.
    Elan: OK, see you tonight! I love you.
    Haley: Love you, too.
    <sfx> smooch!
    Empire of Blood Guard: The General is expecting you, sir.
    Elan: Thanks, generic soldier!
    Amun-Zora: Oh! Ummm - hello.
    Elan: Hi! I think we met at the dinner last night.
    Amun-Zora: ...I have to go.
    Tarquin: Good morning, Son! I see you already saw the future Mrs Tarquin #10 on her way out.
    Elan: Are you a future psychic, too?? You ARE just like Roy!
    Tarquin: I hope your own woman is doing well. She did seem to have a bit too much to drink.
    Elan: Oh, she'll be OK. Since I'm not there, I bet she'll just stay in bed all day.
    Haley: Hey V, Daddy and Whitesnake are occupied. Wanna see how many slaves we can sneak out of the palace before dinner?
    Vaarsuvius: By my calculations, twenty-three.
    Haley: No, I meant - Just get your stuff.

    Spoiler: Strip 750
    Making Up for Lost Time

    Elan: That was the best day EVER!!!

    Spoiler: Strip 751
    Tree is Within 10-ft. Radius of Apple
    Elan, Tarquin

    Tarquin: I appreciate you gibing me a taste of what I missed today.
    Elan: What do you mean?
    Tarquin: Your childhood. You know, doing all those childlike things with me today.
    Elan: Huh?
    Tarquin: We did all of those little kid activities so that I would know what it would have been like, had I been there. Right?
    Elan: I'm not sure I following you, Dad.
    Tarquin: Never mind, just go wash up and get a bite to eat, the parade starts in two hours.
    Elan: Thanks, Dad!
    Tarquin: Wait, Elan - I just wanted to take a moment to say how proud I am of you. I mean, of how you grew up. To tell the truth, I've been going out of my way to prevent having any more children since I left your mother, on account of how Nale turned out. I was afraid any other offspring of mine would turn out as rotten as he did. But now that I've met you, and seen that you've grown up to be a hero, makes me sad that I didn't get to be a part of your life.
    Elan: Dad, why...why did you leave? Just to go conquer a new country? Couldn't you have brought Mommy and me with you? Why didn't you ever come see me while I was growing up?
    Tarquin: Elan, that was - don't you know why? Didn't your mother ever tell you why we split up?
    Elan: No! All I know is that at Father-Son picnics, Mommy had to wear the fake mustache and it itched, Dad. It itched.
    Tarquin: Elan...your mother asked me to leave. It was her wish that I never see you - or Nale - ever again. I'm the one who took her to court for visitation rights, but she fought me every step of the way. Eventually, we reached a compromise where we each got one child. At that point, I was so tired of fighting that I agreed. I wrote you a letter telling you this when you turned 15. I guess your mother threw it away.
    Elan: Why - why would she do that?
    Tarquin: To keep you from seeking me out, I imagine. Women can be very petty.
    Elan: I can't believe my own mother lied to me!
    Tarquin: No sense being angry about it now, Elan. You found your way here anyway, and not a moment too soon - because one way or the other, the destiny of this nation lies in your hands!
    Elan: Wait, what do you mean by that?
    Tarquin: Don't worry about it. Just some ominous foreshadowing for later.
    Elan: Oh, OK. Is that why the lights went down back there?
    Tarquin: Yeah, I had dimmers installed pretty early in the construction. Totally worth the cost.
    Elan: Nice!

    Spoiler: Strip 752
    Picking Locks
    Elan, Haley, Palace Beautician, Vaarsuvius

    Vaarsuvius: Are you certain they will be capable of evading their former captors in those mountains?
    Haley: Sure. My Azure City resistance was able to operate for months in the -
    Palace Beautician: Hello!
    Haley: GAH! Who are you?
    Palace Beautician: I'm - I'm the palace beautician.
    Haley: Why are you in my room?
    Palace Beautician: General Tarquin sent me. I've been waiting a few hours. He told me that you had been up late drinking, and you might want to freshen up before the parade. After all, you will be sitting next to his son in front of the whole city. He wants to be sure you look your very best.
    Haley: Tell him I'm not interested. You probably use, like, dead baby hair gel or something anyway.
    Palace Beautician: All of the spa's mundane and magical treatments are cruelty-free.
    Haley: Really?
    Palace Beautician: Oh, yes. The General's eighth wife had all of the cruelty cut out with a sword and sent elsewhere.
    Haley: Look, just because I bought one thing of make-up does not mean that I'm - wait. Did you say magical treatments?
    Elan: Haley? Honey, are you here?
    Haley: Over here, baby.
    Elan: Oh man, it was totally awesome. You won't believe how much fun I just squeezed into one - day.
    Haley: Really? Does that mean there's no more room for fun today?
    Elan: Well, there is still a parade tonight, but I think I can shove more in.
    Haley: Works for me. Get over here.
    Elan: You know, I had just assumed that your short hair was somehow symbolic of your character growth.
    Haley: Me too! I guess it was just a crappy haircut.
    Elan: Weird.

    Spoiler: Strip 753
    Slash Attack
    Belkar, Roy, Tarquin

    Roy: Who's this guy?
    Belkar: Hold on, let me just consult my copy of Who's Who in the Crappy Dictatorship You're Stuck In.
    Tarquin: I was just watching you spar. You're quite the warrior. Maybe the finest we've seen in some years. If nothing else, I'm sure you'll put on a good show tomorrow.
    Roy: Great. Six years of schooling have qualified me to fight to the death on the whims of another.
    Belkar: Actually, that's pretty common in the current economic climate.
    Roy: Too bad I won't do it though.
    Tarquin: What, won't fight?
    Roy: Won't kill another man who's been run through your sham of a legal system.
    Tarquin: Then you won't live past noon tomorrow. Pity, I could use more men with your skills under me.
    Roy: I wouldn't want to work for a coward who lets others fight for him and hides behind a mask.
    Tarquin: Please. If you want to look me in the eye while I tell you your fate, then so be-
    Roy: *GASP!*
    Belkar: Would you look at that...
    Tarquin: What? Do I have something on my face?
    Roy: No, uh, no...It's just - uh - you look like -
    Belkar: You look like a really handsome man, and hanging out with these sweaty gladiators has turned my friend and me totally gay.
    Tarquin: Oh! Well, thank you very much, buy I'm soon to be married.
    Roy: Uh...right! Well, darn, I guess I missed my chance.
    Belkar: That's a shame, because if there was one person with whom my friend would want to hook up, it would be someone with your face. Your exact face - though maybe, say, twenty years younger. I'm sure he's picturing it right now - running his strong callused hand through fine blond hair...
    Roy: Shut up, Belkar!
    Tarquin: No, no, don't be embarrassed. I get this all the time. Tell you what, if you change your mind and live through tomorrow's fight, I'll see what I can do about getting us on the same team. The army team. Not the, you know, "other team" team. Like I said, I could use more men like you under me - and I now realize that maybe that's not the best turn of phrase, either. Anyway, I look forward to the games. Good luck.
    Belkar: "Caress, caress, caress, caress my lithe supple body!"
    Roy: Do you WANT to get hit with the big stick again?
    Belkar: That's what HE said!

    Spoiler: Strip 754
    Maybe She Ate a Zeppelin
    Blackwing, Durkon, Elan, Empress of Blood, Gourntonk, Haley, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: Oh man! We gotta run or my dad will be mad!
    Haley: Hold on, I need to take care of all this extra hair, or I'll be tripping on it all night.
    <sfx> shrnk! shrnk! shrnk! shrnk! floop.
    Haley: Darn it! How do I always manage to miss that one hair?!?
    Elan: I think you look perfect, Haley.
    Haley: And I think you blew your saving throw vs. bias, Elan...but thanks.
    Vaarsuvius: Master Thundershield has indicated that he will arrive at the evening's procession on his own.
    Haley: Good, let's hurry.
    Elan: Hey, uh, Elf Ambassador Person. Which way to where my dad is waiting? Thanks!
    Blackwing: Hey, was that elf glaring at you?
    Vaarsuvius: Now is not the time.
    Tarquin: Elan! Haley! I'm glad you were able to tear yourselves away from yourselves for a little while.
    Elan: Hi, Dad.
    Durkon: Lass! Yer hair! Thor must've smiled upon ye!
    (D): Lass! Your hair! Thor must have smiled upon you!
    Haley: No, I just found a hair restoration potion in the spa.
    Durkon: I've been bald fer forty years. Thor. Smiled. Upon. Ye.
    (D): I've been bald for forty years. Thor. Smiled. Upon. You.
    Gourtonk: General, I must insist on speaking with your mistress. I have sensitive information for her ear-holes only.
    Tarquin: The Empress is arriving presently, Ambassador. Look up.
    Empress of Blood: I am here! I am your ruler! Look at me! I am cool, but I am also very warm! Wooo!
    Elan: She can FLY???
    Tarquin: Quite a stumper, isn't it?
    Vaarsuvius: I should avoid casting any spells tonight, if only to give the laws of physics time to cry alone in the corner.
    Empress of Blood: If anyone needs me, I will be up here on my throne, being awesome!

    Spoiler: Strip 755
    Brought to You By Mace-y's
    Bob, Cathy, Cast of "Rend", Judy

    Judy: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Homecoming Parade for the son of our beloved military commander, General Tarquin. I'm Judy Morningstar.
    Bob: And I'm Bob Bloodcamel. The Empress of Blood sure has pulled out all the stops to honor the little guy, hasn't she, Judy?
    Judy: She sure has, Bob.
    Judy: <voiceover> The guest of honor can be seen with his father on the parade stand, where he certainly seems to be enjoying himself.
    Bob: <voiceover> Not surprising, Judy. This parade may be the biggest in the Empire's two-year history - eclipsing even the victory march after the conquest of Justania last year.
    Judy: <voiceover> Starting us off is the Clotsburg High School marching band, playing the empire's rousing national anthem.
    Bob: <voiceover> Judy, even though this parade was put together on only a few days' notice, there was some fierce competition for this spot among local schools.
    Judy: <voiceover> That's right, Bob, and our prayers go out to the members of the Platelet High School band, many of whom we're told will eventually regain partial motor control in their hands.
    Bob: <voiceover> Great news Judy! A happy ending for everyone.
    Judy: <voiceover> On our next float, we have the cast of the Tony-award winner for Best Musical, "Rend."
    Cast of "Rend": <singing> Five million two hundred fifty-six thousand combat round...How do you measure a year in a campaign? In GP, in XP, in encounters way too easy. Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of a PC!
    Bob: <voiceover> And who's that rounding the corner? It's Bluddy, our nation's lovable mascot. Fun fact, Judy: That balloon is held aloft by the screams of enslaved air elementals.
    Judy: <voiceover> That must be why it's so jolly, Bob!
    Bob: <voiceover> Bluddy is followed up by those lovable puppets from Sanguine Avenue.
    Judy: <voiceover> Right again, Bob. My three-year-old loves Little Roc, Felix the Mensch, and of course, Hurt and Burnie.
    <float text> SANGUINE AVE
    Judy: <voiceover> And I know you love this next one, Bob.
    Bob: <voiceover> That's right Judy, because that's the lovely Fahruzi Lakshli, winner of the Miss Bloodstain pageant this year.
    Judy: <voiceover> And once again, our prayers go out to the families of the runners up.
    Bob: <voiceover> Now Judy, I'm not familiar with this next group. Can you shed some light on this for me?
    Judy: <voiceover> Why, that's the Death Squad, Bob!
    Bob: <voiceover> Really?
    Judy: <voiceover> Yes, they're matching in a parade for the first time, but this elite order of assassins has been around for longer than you'd think. They play a very important role in curtailing our personal liberties and maintaining the regime of the current facist-
    <sfx> Ffft! thunk!
    Judy: Unnnh!
    Cathy: Ha ha, we're just kidding around, Bob. That's actually the Bleedingham Amateur Snorkeling Club.
    Bob: Good to know, Judy.
    Cathy: Cathy.
    Bob: Cathy. Back after these messages!

    Spoiler: Strip 756
    He Sure Dodged an Arrow There
    Amun-Zora, Elan, Haley, Tarquin

    Elan: Huh. I wonder how they use the snorkels in the desert...
    Tarquin: Elan, I know you're enjoying the parade, but I'd like you to come up to the top level with me for a moment. I have a surprise for you.
    Haley: What's going on? Where are you taking him?
    Tarquin: Don't worry, Haley, he'll be fine on his own for a moment.
    Elan: Really? I love surprises! Except for the ones where you lose your dodge bonuses. Those ones suck.
    Tarquin: Too true. But this surprise will have none of that. My associates in the Prefecture informed me of a unique -
    <sfx> woosh!
    Amun-Zora: DIE, TYRANT!!
    Tarquin: Whoa!
    Amun-Zora: I'll kill you!!
    <sfx> woosh!
    Tarquin: Ah, I see you've heard the latest news from your homeland.
    Elan: What? What's going on? Did you two have a spat?
    Amun-Zora: Your slime mold of a father betrayed my people!
    <sfx> woosh!
    Tarquin: Now that's a highly slanted view of events, in my opinion.
    <sfx> KLANG!
    Elan: Wait, please! STOP! What's going on here? Can one of you explain this to me?
    Amun-Zora: I will. Your spawn should know what kind of monster sired him.
    Tarquin: By all means, I have nothing to hide.
    Amun-Zora: I received word via Sending an hour ago. Your father sent 500 dragoons, as he promised. Our troops rendezvoused with them shortly after dawn, and brought them into the city via hidden passageway to shore up our defenses.
    Amun-Zora: <voiceover> They turned on us almost immediately,
    overcoming the guard and opening the front gates to the city. The Empire of Tears overran the city by noon.
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: Excuse me, I offered to send my troops to join the battle. I never specified which side of the battle they would join. And man, am I relieved now. Here I was worried all night that you were going to figure it out early. I mean, I thought I just made it, like, WAY too obvious, but I guess it all worked out, huh?

    Spoiler: Strip 757
    Something Blue
    Amun-Zora, Cold Footed Ex-Wife, Elan, Tarquin

    Elan: Dad, why? I don't understand. Did they hurt you somehow?
    Tarquin: The political complexities require some explaining, my boy, and involve national secrets that I cannot divulge in front of the lovely captain. Suffice to say that it needed to be done, for their own good. And it was done with less bloodshed than if the siege had been broken. She should be thanking me.
    Amun-Zora: I could almost understand if you had conquered us yourself, but the Weepies are your enemies, too. Is this because I turned down your marriage proposal?
    Tarquin: Don't be silly, dear. I don't make decisions of this magnitude over petty romance. Though the worst of the violence could have been avoided if you had acceded to my request...
    Amun-Zora: Damn you! I told you last night and again when you summoned me to your bedchambers this morning; I am already married!
    Tarquin: Yes, you mentioned that. To a pikeman on the...south wall, was it? I assure you that your marital status is no longer an obstacle as of around midday today. 'Til then did you part, it would seem.
    <sfx> SLASH!
    Amun-Zora: BASTARD!!
    Tarquin: Nnnh!
    <sfx> KLANG!
    Elan: Stop! I'm sure this is just a misunderstanding. Somehow.
    Amun-Zora: Then you are a fool or a villain!
    Elan: A fool, but we can still talk this out!
    Tarquin: I tire of this. GUARDS!
    Amun-Zora: No! Get off me!
    Tarquin: Make sure the Captain is comfortable in the tower.
    Elan: Dad, are you sure that's really -
    Tarquin: Attacking a general of the empire normally carries a death sentence, but I'm sure the courts will make an exception for my bride-to-be.
    Elan: Dad, I'm so confused. Did the Empress order you to do all of that bad stuff? Because it sounds pretty bad...
    Tarquin: No need to worry about it, Son. I'm sure your future stepmother will eventually retract her unflattering accusations. Possibly publicly, I haven't decided.
    Elan: Dad, she's really angry. I don't think she's gonna marry you. It sounds like your soldiers accidentally killed her husband!
    Tarquin: Oh, you'd be surprised. Some of my previous wives got cold feet before their big day, too.
    Tarquin: Well?
    Cold Footed Ex-Wife: n-n-NEVER!!

    Spoiler: Strip 758
    Spins of the Father
    Elan, Geoff, Ian Starshine, Miron, Roy, Shoulder-Pad Guy, Tarquin, Weeping King

    Tarquin: Now, I think your surprise should be just about ready...
    Elan: I'm sorry, Dad, but I don't think I can just let this drop. You said there were good reasons for what you did. If so, I kinda think I need to hear them.
    Geoff: Heard you got a visit from our local tin-plated dictator.
    Roy: Dictator? I thought he was a general.
    Ian: That's what he wants you to believe. But a few of us know his secret.
    Tarquin: *sigh* Fine. I was going to save this for a more dramatic occasion, but if you really need me to spell it out for you, I can.
    Elan: Dad, they asked you for help! And you totally screwed them!
    Tarquin: Yes, they did ask for my help. They asked for my help against myself.
    Elan: ...Huh?
    Tarquin: Do you remember what I said about my attempt to rule a kingdom of my own?
    Elan: Yeah, you said that you didn't last a year.
    Tarquin: That's true, but it was most informative nonetheless.
    Geoff: When he first appeared on the continent, he conquered eleven nations in eight months. It took a coalition of no less than twenty-six other countries to defeat him and drive him out.
    Tarquin: See, without truly understanding the politics of the Western Continent, I'd inadvertently made myself into a common enemy for all the normally fractious warlords to rally against. It was a mistake I swore I would not repeat.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> As I may have mentioned, Malack and I were members of an adventuring party back in the day. I was the leader, in fact, as you are the leader of your little band. After my defeat, I gathered them together.
    Tarquin: I have a plan. One that will get you what you want in life without having to muck about in filthy dungeons until the day we die.
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: The crux of the plan was to avoid making myself a target as I worked to forge the greatest empire ever seen. On a personal level, this meant ruling through others. Hence the ruse that I work for the Empress rather than the other way around. Politically, it meant controlling more than one state at the same time.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Two members of my team "advise" the Weeping King on his Throne of Regrets, manipulating him so that he lashes out at all of his neighbors.
    Weeping King: Bwaaaaaaaa!
    Miron: Do you know what would fill that empty hole in your heart?
    Shoulder-Pad Guy: A new port city!
    <end flashback>
    Geoff: When a nation or tribe or whatever manages to stand up to the Empire of Tears, they often ask for help from the next-most-powerful force around; say, the Empire of Blood. He plays both sides at the same time, and BAM! The Weepies have another conquest.
    Ian: It's a classic two-man con.
    Elan: Dad, I don't think that's a good idea. I doubt Zora's city will accept either you OR the Weepies as their ruler now! They'll just form a resistance group, and -
    Tarquin: And that has already been anticipated.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Enter Queen Shvitzer and her handlers. After the so-called Free City of Doom has had a few months of brutality under the Empire of Tears, my final two associates in the Empire of Sweat will arrange for the "liberation" of the city.
    <end flashback>
    Geoff: The Weepies fall back and retreat, driven away by the Sweaters...Who suggest that maybe the territory should be associated with their empire...
    Ian: You know, for their "protection".
    Tarquin: No guerillas, no rebellion, no armed resistance by the populace. Because no one realizes that they are still under the thumbs of the same six people. Eventually, the whole desert will be ruled by one of our three empires.
    Elan: And then what? You'll join them into one big super-ultra-mega-empire?
    Tarquin: No! Haven't you been listening? That'll just encourage the elves or someone to attack us. No, we'll just quietly rule our kingdoms with an iron fist until we get old and/or die.
    Elan: Dad, that's - how can you trick all of those people! That's terrible!
    Tarquin: It's for their own good. Tens of thousands of people die every year from needless warfare. By consolidating the human and lizardfolk lands into three states that have no incentive to fight each other, we'll eliminate these conflicts and the death they bring.
    Roy: How come no one has noticed that they've been doing this?
    Geoff: They find a patsy to "topple" one of their three kingdoms every few years.
    Ian: Kings come and go around here, so it throws most people off the trail.
    Tarquin: We've been through dozens of different names by now...The Duchy of Terror, The Barren Baronies...
    Geoff: The Quietus Federation...
    Ian: The Unprincipled Principalites...
    Tarquin: ...Tyrinaria...
    Geoff: Speaking of names, we haven't properly introduced ourselfs. I'm Geoff, and this is my brother-in-law, Ian.
    Ian: They used to call me "Red", but three years of malnutrition will do a number on your hair color.

    Spoiler: Strip 759
    Yes, Apparently
    Elan, Haley, Tarquin, Lord Tyrinar

    Elan: Tyrinaria?? Did you just say "Tyrinaria"??
    Tarquin: Hmm? Oh yeah, I worked that one with Miron. We switch partners every once in a while, just to keep things fresh.
    Elan: Then, Lord Tyrinar the Bloody was-
    Tarquin: <voiceover> -a whiny little toad who never stopped complaining.
    Tyrinar: No, I'm just saying, if I'm the king here, shouldn't I have some say in what happens? Also, couldn't we change my epithet to something more like, "Lord Tyrinar the Responsible"? Have we considered a more democratic form of government?
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: I mean, you'd think he'd be more grateful, we made him king for 11 months. Though I will say that seeing the look on his face when the Empress ate him made it all worthwhile.
    Elan: Dad, do you...Do you ever ransom prisoners? For money?
    Tarquin: Sure, sometimes. If they're no fun in the arena and we think they have family that can afford it. Why do you ask?
    Elan: I think you may be holding Haley's -
    Tarquin: Oh! Hold that thought, Son. I think your surprise is almost ready!
    Elan: - Dad. Dad! Please listen, this is important. Wherever Tyrinaria used to be, there may be a prisoner -
    Tarquin: This was Tyrinaria, Elan. Bleedingham was named "Terrorburg" and was the capital of Tyrinaria. But I don't see how that's important right now.
    Elan: No, Dad, listen to me! I know that you're trying to do what you think is right, but this conquest scheme is a terrible idea. You need to stop. There are better ways to make peace than by forcing all the people to live in the same mushed-up country together. I know all about trying to help and then accidentally making things worse. I had this friend, and she worked for a bad man, and I tried really hard to help her. And in the end, I kinda think I got her killed. And once, I blew up this gate that turns out I shouldn't have. And I almost got a friend sacrificed to a hand puppet one time. So I guess the point is, I really understand how hard it is to judge what the best -
    Tarquin: Look! Look, Elan! Out there! There it is! That's your surprise! Welcome home, Son.
    <200-foot-tall flaming letters text> ELAN
    Elan: Wow, Dad... that is pretty cool.
    Tarquin: I did that for you, Elan. The whole parade, everything I do now is for you. I love you, Son. I should never have left you behind. All I can do is try to make it up to you. I know you need to complete your little quest, but I hope that when you return, you'll stay for good. I have such plans for us.
    Elan: Dad...I...I love you, too, Dad. But this war thing that you're doing, it's -
    Tarquin: Shhhhh. We can talk about politics later. Give your old man a hug. I can't believe they pulled it off, you know.
    Elan: The light show?
    Tarquin: Yeah. I mean, the prefects only informed me about the escaped palace slaves around dusk. My men had to get out to the mountains, recapture them, nail them into position, and then get the oil out there in time to light the rebellious little pricks on fire in unison. It's really pretty impressive, logistics-wise, when you think about it.
    Haley: What the heck is it going to take for you to see that your dad is bad news? Do you need, like, 200-foot-tall flaming letters or something?
    <end flashback>

    Spoiler: Strip 760
    Realizations and Rationalizations
    Elan, Tarquin

    Tarquin: Crap, the three prisoners at the bottom of the "E" burned out early. Now it looks like I just really like custard.
    Elan: Oh my Gods! I...I need to help those people! Vaarsuvius! Haley! Durkon!
    Tarquin: There's no need to run around like a cockatrice with its head cut off. They're 10 miles away. Unless your mage can teleport, you won't make it out there before they all die.
    Elan: You!! Why did you do that to those poor people?? Hadn't you made their lives hard enough already??
    Tarquin: Note to self: Elf cannot cast Teleport.
    Elan: How could you do something so cruel, for no reason other than... a stupid SIGN!
    Tarquin: Hey, that sign was my gift to you. And geez, man up a little. You sound like your mother. "Oh, Tarquin, you jerk! When you said you would liquify every man in the tavern if one of them grabbed my butt again during my shift, I didn't think you meant it!" I don't know why she was complaining. I mean, where did she think all that great fertilizer for her precious veggie garden came from, anyway?
    Elan: You're... you're EVIL! Aren't you? With all capital letters!
    Tarquin: Son, labels like "good" and "evil" are just words. Words with many possible capitalizations. They're outdated concepts that do nothing but cause conflict. What I'm trying to do here is move beyond those ideas into a world where no one has any reason to fight one another. But you can't make an omelette without ruthlessly crushing dozens of eggs beneath your steel boot and then publicly disemboweling the chickens that laid them as a warning to others.
    Elan: Haley was totally right about you! You're just like Kubota, or Xykon...or NALE!
    Tarquin: Now that's uncalled for, young man. Your brother was a disorganized buffoon who care more for satisfying his own ego than any realistic plan for world domination. All he ever cared about was that everyone knew that HE was the victor, even when the situation called for keeping a low profile.
    Elan: didn't care that he wanted to take over, you just didn't like the way that he wanted to take over??
    Tarquin: Yes! Of course. Procedure is important, Elan.
    Elan: Does that mean you wouldn't have cared what he believed in, as long as he went about it in the correct way?
    Tarquin: Well, I suppose, after a fashion, but -
    Elan: Good! Because I'm pretty sure a climactic duel is the proper procedure for dramatically defeating corrupt tyrants!
    Tarquin: On a rooftop, no less. Exquisite.

    Spoiler: Strip 761
    Advanced (S)wordplay
    Elan, Tarquin

    Tarquin: However, isn't this just a little...premature?
    <sfx> woosh!
    Elan: I've been called that lots of times, but it doesn't stop me from doing what's right. And the word is "immature," Dad. Immature.
    Tarquin: Come now, Elan. Must we resort to crude physical force?
    Elan: No, you can surrender!
    Tarquin: Surrender to whom? Elan, this is my country.
    <sfx> swinganamiss!
    Elan: You can surrender to me! And then we'll go to Haley and figure out what to do next.
    Tarquin: This is futile, Elan. As a bard, you clearly don't have any combat skills worth mentioning.
    Elan: Maybe, but I can still make - and off-spring attack!
    Tarquin: Very well, I suppose I gave you the prerequisite for that...
    Elan: *gasp!*
    <sfx> klink!
    Tarquin: ...since my seed clearly had adequate Mobility. Son, I'm glad we got this chance to clear the heir.
    <sfx> klink!
    Elan: Then you get the thrust of my objection?
    <sfx> klink! klink!
    Tarquin: A-parent-ly.
    Elan: Well, my meaning was clear-cut.
    <sfx> klink!
    Tarquin: Are you enjoying the parade?
    <sfx> klink!
    Elan: I'm on the fence.
    Tarquin: I think it's been a rousing successor.
    <sfx> klink! klink!
    Elan: Then you'll have to thank the Grant Martial.
    Tarquin: Looks like I've procreated quite a stir.
    Elan: Don't worry, we'll finish this riposte-haste.
    Tarquin: Are you sure? Swordfighting can be a precise scion-ce.
    Elan: Perhaps, but I've gotten quite smashing at it.
    <sfx> klink! klink!
    Elan: I'll make you épée for your crimes!
    <sfx> klink!
    Tarquin: I take issue with your tone.
    <sfx> klink! klink! klink!
    Elan: - and I'll foil your evil plans!
    <sfx> klink! klink!
    Tarquin: Then I wonder what I've begotten myself into.
    <sfx> klink! klink!
    Tarquin: Also, "foil" is less a pun than it is a word derivation. We say someone "foiled" a plan because they defeated them - as with a foil.
    Elan: Really?
    Tarquin: No.
    <sfx> kaTANG!
    Tarquin: The etymologies are unrelated.

    Spoiler: Strip 762
    Just Trying to Help
    Elan, Tarquin

    Elan: You - you blocked my puns! How did you do that??
    Tarquin: I know how to defend myself against many obscure combat techniques. Though I admit it has been many years since I've been called upon to pun-duel.
    Elan: OK, well, I guess this is where you kill me, right?
    Tarquin: Excuse me?
    Elan: Tell Haley I love her, and you should probably write Mom a letter, too. Also, if you could stab me in one of the less hurty organs, I'd really appreciate it, Dad. Nale went for the liver the first time, and MAN, did that smart.
    Tarquin: Elan, I have no interest in hurting you.
    Elan: Huh?
    Tarquin: You attacked me, remember?
    Elan: I don't understand. You're Evil!
    Tarquin: Even if I were to place myself within your limited and unrealistic "alignment system", why would that be a reason to harm you? You are my sole remaining son! I do love you. And I would gain nothing by your demise. So we disagree on a few philosophical issues, so what? I'm actually enjoying our spirited debate.
    Elan: "Debate"? We just dueled, Dad! With actual weapons!
    Tarquin: I know! It was bracing!
    Elan: So...then what happens now?
    Tarquin: The same as before. You and your friends spend the rest of the festival here, and then I give you the information on that Draketooth fellow you're so keen to find. And off you go.
    Elan: You're still going to help us?
    Tarquin: Sure! Why not?
    Elan: ...Well, the "Evil" thing springs to mind again.
    Tarquin: *sigh* Elan, if a hero of your caliber is involved in a quest of such significance that you can't spare more than three days for your old man - then logic dictates that it probably involves trouncing some clichéd scenery-chewing villain bent on world-conquest. As the current ruler of one-third of the continent, I have a vested interest in you doing exactly that. In fact, I have a few duplicate magic items that may really help you. Do you have a Ring of Regeneration yet? I never leave home without mine.
    Elan: Yeah, right. Like I would use your crazy evil ring that you probably, like, tortured someone to death or something to give it magic.
    Tarquin: Now that is quite enough, young man, I am frankly offended that you would even suggest that I would do such a thing to - Wait, who do you consider a "somebody"?
    Elan: Anybody!
    Tarquin: Fine, fine, I'll keep the ring then.

    Spoiler: Strip 763
    Plotting Something
    Elan, Tarquin

    Elan: Dad, I just - I don't understand you! How can you be like this? Don't you know that bad guys never win??
    Tarquin: Like most things, "winning" is a matter of perspective. You're a bard, right? How many stories have you heard in which a single hero vanquishes a wicked empire?
    Elan: I dunno... dozens, I guess.
    Tarquin: What is the one thing they all have in common? The one fact they all share?
    Elan: The hero always wins!
    Tarquin: No, the one thing they all have in common is this: The wicked empire exists. It has existed for some time, and it will continue to exist if no heroes intervene. Don't you see, Elan? The rules of drama to which you subscribe as a bard tell us that such tyrannies can exist - indeed, MUST exist - and persist long enough that no one realistically thinks they can be defeated. Else, where's the drama in a hero opposing them? And if such kingdoms are necessary, why shouldn't I rule one!
    Elan: But a hero always DOES oppose them! And beats them!
    Tarquin: You know, Elan, you can't always fixate on the negative. You should try being more optimistic. If someone conquers an empire and rules it with an iron fist for thirty long years, and then some paladin breaks into his throne room and kills him - what do you think he's going to remember as he lays dying?
    Elan: ...That good triumphed over evil?
    Tarquin: No, that he got to live like a God for three decades! Sure, the last ten minutes sucked, but you can't have everything.
    Elan: But in the end -
    Tarquin: The end of what, Son? The story? There is no end, there's just the point where storytellers stop talking. Somewhere between "villain of the week" and "good triumphs over evil," there's a sweet spot where guys like me get to rule the roost for years. As long as I go into this accepting the price I may eventually pay, then I win - no matter what actually happens. And hey, I was willing to make that deal when I thought it would be some random peasant schmuck taking me out. Now, I can really see the big picture. It's YOU, Elan. If anyone will ever defeat me, it will be you. I knew it the moment you told me you were a hero. All the pieces fell into place.
    Elan: OK, well, then, let's do the swordfighting thing again, only this time don't block.
    Tarquin: No, no, no! I'm not going to take a dive for you. You need to EARN it. Besides, it's too early. We just met. The tension needs to build more.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> You need to do some serious brooding about how you're doomed to fight your own father.
    Elan: I can't...and yet I must!
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Plus, I have the rest of the continent to absorb.
    Tarquin: So, you go finish up your little plot and come back in, say, ten years?
    Elan: Dad, I can't let you hurt all these people for ten years!
    Tarquin: Well, if you want, you can force the confrontation early...But the way these things go, you'll probably end up losing a hand or an eye or something.
    Elan: Oh, right. Like, a big burn on the side of my face, at the very least.
    Tarquin: Right! Exactly. Besides, I'd think you would be happy about this.
    Elan: Happy?? To find out my dad is a no-good bad guy?
    Tarquin: Sure. It'll make for a great story. Think about it. An epic for the ages! Father vs. son! Hero vs. villain! One rebel vs. the force of an empire! They'll tell stories about us until the end of history! My name will be immortalized forever.
    Elan: As a villain!
    Tarquin: That's the beauty of it, my son. If I win, I get to be a king. If I lose, I get to be a legend. I'll inspire a thousand more leaders to follow in my footsteps. And it'll all be thanks to you, my boy. Here's to us, Elan. We're going to tell the best story EVER.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-30 at 12:34 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #187
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 764 to 782
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
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    Spoiler: Strip 764
    Small Talk
    Durkon, Malack, Vaarsuvius

    Malack: But I personally find suck displays of force distasteful, at best.
    Durkon: Aye, aye.
    (D): Yes, yes.
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed, I am only learning now that careful management of resources is more effective than brute force.
    Malack: ...and Tarquin keeps telling me that if I want more children more badly, I should just find the right person and get to it, but...I don't know.
    Vaarsuvius: Have you ever considered adoption? Surely your political climate produces no shortage of orphans.
    Malack: Yes, but...I'm worried about not having that, you know, special bond.
    Durkon: So I cannae help but notice wha a lovely cake ye haf on display o'er there. I was wonderin' -
    (D): So I cannot help but notice what a lovely cake you have on display over there. I was wondering -
    Malack: They'll serve the cake after the parade is over.
    Durkon: Ah. 'kay.
    (D): Ah. Okay.
    Malack: - so then I said, "I don't care that you were late, Acolyte Prilak, I'm not going to repeat the conversation we all just had."
    Durkon: Aye, why should everyone need to listen to tha same thing o'er agin?
    (D): Yes, why should everyone need to listen to the same thing over again?
    Malack: Exactly! I mean, it was too wordy by half the first time.
    Malack: ...and I think the worse part is the jealousy.
    Durkon: Och, yeah, I've seen tha. Tier envy.
    (D): Oh, yeah, I've seen that. Tier envy.
    Vaarsuvius: As if it is OUR fault that they chose a class not capable of doing everything.
    Vaarsuvius: Have you tried the higher hemline?
    Malack: Yes, but I found it doesn't work as well without the rope belt.
    Vaarsuvius: Ah, yes, I could see that.
    Durkon: ...'Course, I'm na sure wha Thor's congregation would think aboot tha...
    (D): Of course, I'm not sure what Thor's congregation would think about that...
    Malack: Well, why not ask your parishioner what she - Where did Starshine go? Or Tarquin's boy, for that matter.
    Durkon: Och, thar prob'bly off makin' out in tha staircase or sumthin'.
    (D): Oh, they're probably off making out in the staircase or something.
    Vaarsuvius: Trust us - after a while, one learns to simply ignore their overactive libidos. Now, with regards to that cake...

    Spoiler: Strip 765
    The Love of Money
    Elan, Haley

    Elan: Haley! Wait! My dad is the other way!
    Haley: We're not going to see your father.
    Elan: We're not?
    Haley: Your father is an unrepentant murderer, and I promise I will make him pay for what he did to those poor men in the mountains. Unfortunately, he's a long-term problem, and we only have time for short-term solutions. Even if we fought and killed him today, Malack would just raise him from the dead the moment we left. If we beat both of them, then their mystery allies would come around and find a way to bring them back. Knocking him down without a way of keeping him down just leaves us with yet another villain chasing our collective asses.
    Elan: OK, I guess...but...then where are we going?
    Haley: To enact one of those short-term solutions I just mentioned. We're going to get my father.
    Elan: Really?? That's awesome! But wait...didn't Roy say no jailbreaks?
    Haley: Yeah, well, if I was Tarquin, I'd probably invent some excuse about how Roy only specified no jailbreaks for him - but screw that, I'm just flat-out ignoring Roy right now.
    Elan: Oh, OK...And hey, at least this way, you won't have to give over 200,000 gp to get your dad!
    Haley: Actually...I was never planning on paying. I was gonna use the old "three-fingered discount," if you know what I mean.
    Elan: Then...why go through the trouble of getting all that money?
    Haley: Hey, just because I wasn't considering letting them keep it doesn't mean it wasn't part of my plan. I figured we'd have a classic hostage exchange - I give them the cash, and they give me my father. Then later, Dad and I sneak in and steal all the money back. Plus a little extra to cover our emotional distress of course. And lost wages, naturally. I mean, Looter's Comp doesn't cover that sort of thing.
    <sign text> Directly to JAIL
    Elan: Well, at least this way, it's less dangerous and we'll still have all that money.
    Haley: ...
    Elan: I mean, "you"! You will have all that money. No "we."
    Haley: No, Elan, it's fine. It can be ours. I wouldn't want to let a big pile of money get between our love.
    Elan: Really? 'Cause earlier you said you wanted to try pouring it all on the floor and then getting -
    Haley: That would be beneath our love, honey. Not between it. Though if we get to keep all the gold, then I guess that fantasy is still on the table.
    Elan: On the table, too? Can't we just stick with beds?

    Spoiler: Strip 766
    Breaking In is Hard to Do
    Elan, Prison Guard 1, Prison Guard 2, Haley

    Haley: <whispering> Ready?
    Elan: <whispering> Yup! I've got my elveny boots on and everything.
    Haley: <whispering> Follow me then...just don't shout, "It got a 4!" like back in the dungeon.
    Elan: <whispering> Hey, that was a long time ago. I think I've grown a lot since then. This is really important and I understand that. Plus, now we're involved in complex and personal storylines instead of just cracking silly jokes.
    Haley: *sigh*
    Prison Guard 1: Halt! Identify yourselves!
    Elan: Uh oh, I don't even know that spell!
    Haley: Don't you know who this is? This is General Tarquin's son, Elan. He's being put in charge of the prisons once this festival is over, so you better listen to him.
    Elan: Haley, I don't want to work for -
    Haley: <whispering> Elan, shut up!
    Prison Guard 2: Oh crap - I think she's telling the truth!
    Prison Guard 1: It does look exactly like him...But why would he be creeping around prison grounds at night?
    Elan: Uh...Surprise inspection! Yeah!
    Haley: We're checking if conditions are safe for your older prisoners...particularly humans over 60 years old. With fair skin. And possibly a beard.
    Prison Guard 2: Oh, OK. Well, I think if you'll just follow us down this way, you'll see -
    Prison Guard 1: Wait a sec, I'm pretty sure I highlighted something about inspections in the manual...Yeah, here it is.
    <manual text> Do not keep big dangly key rings fastened to your belt in plain sight. Surprise Inspections
    • We do not have surprise inspections. Ever.
    • Especially not at night, when other guards have been called away to another event.
    • The inspectors in front of you? They're intruders.
    • Get them.

    Sound in the Bushes
    • Someone is throwing a rock to distract you.
    • Try looking in the opposite direction from where the sound originated.

    Tarquin's Tips Pictures of all members of prison staff are posted in the lounge. Get to know them!
    Elan: Man! Is having someone who points out the clichés in your plans always this annoying?
    Haley: I love you, so I'm not going to answer that.

    Spoiler: Strip 767
    Breaking In is Hard to Do
    Elan, Prison Guard 1, Prison Guard 2, Prison Guard 3, Prison Guard 4, Prison Guard 5, Haley

    Haley: Crap! Dead end!
    Elan: Don't worry, Haley, I think we can take 'em.
    Haley: Of COURSE we can take them, Elan, I just don't think we can take them without, you know, killing them.
    Elan: Wait - I know! I can cast Disguise Self to look like my father!
    Haley: Maybe...OK, yeah. I can make that work, just keep quiet. No offense, but you literally can't bluff to save your life. In fact, I think your bluffs usually endanger your life in new and exciting ways.
    Elan: That's not a problem, Haley. Check it out, I bought this back when we were seperated.
    <label text> Philter potion of Glibness (+30 to Bluff)
    Haley: Elan, why didn't you tell me you had one of these? Save the illusion, gimme that!
    <sfx> swipe! chug!
    Elan: Haley, you don't need that, you already have a bazillion points in Bluff.
    Haley: Exactly.
    Haley: <glibness> The entry in the manual was written as an elaborate test of your adherence to procedure, which you've passed.
    Prison Guard 1: But it says-
    Haley: <glibness> Anything written in there that contradicts what I'm telling you is just another part of the test.
    Prison Guard 1: Oh.
    Haley: <glibness> Congratulations on your vigilance, though! You're getting promoted! Report to the courthouse for your new assignment.
    Prison Guard 1: Right now?
    Haley: <glibness> Right now.
    Prison Guard 2: Maybe we can get palace duty.
    Prison Guard 1: Yeah, nothing ever happens there.
    Haley: <glibness> Behold, the power of lying! You can pretty much alter reality, if you try hard enough. Watch: You don't see or hear us.
    Prison Guard 3: Must be a trick of the light.
    Haley: <glibness> You don't work here anymore.
    Prison Guard 4: Crap, how am I going to pay my mortgage?
    Haley: <glibness> You're actually a yellow-footed rock wallaby.
    Prison Guard 5: Screw this guard stuff, then. I'm gonna go find a wizard to polymorph me back.
    <sfx> hop! hop! hop!
    Elan: Wow, this is awesome! We can just waltz right in and rescue your dad now!
    Haley: <glibness> Yeah, it's pretty cool. I just need to be careful not to be too carried away. Incidentally, it's not at all weird that you worship a puppet, Roy really respects your opinions - and the answer to your question from the last panel of the previous strip is, "No, not at all."
    Elan: I knew it!

    Spoiler: Strip 768
    +2 Embracers
    Belkar, Elan, Prison Guard 6, Prison Guard 7, Haley, Ian, Roy

    Guard 6: INTRUDERS!
    Haley: <glibness> Nope.
    Guard 6: FALSE ALARM!
    <wall text> RECORDS
    Haley: <glibness> Also, General Tarquin was just here and told us to tell you to tell us where you're keeping a prisoner named Ian Starshine, and then to never mention that you did to anyone, ever.
    Guard 6: But-
    Haley: <glibness> Oh, and your manual is a pack of treasonous lies being spread by, I dunno, angry separatist muskrats.
    Guard 6: Really? OK, then.
    Guard 7: Let's see...he's in Cell Block G, down the hall to the right, just inside the anti-magic zone.
    Elan: Uh oh Haley! They'll raise the alarm if you step into an anti-magic zone!
    Haley: <glibness> It's not an enchantment, Elan. The magic is in my words, not their belief.
    <wall text> A-M ZONE
    Haley: Heck, unless this takes more than a half-hour, we should be able to fib our way back out, too. Wait here at the door and whistle if there are any guards coming.
    <door text> CELL BLOCK G
    <sfx> click!
    Haley: Uh, hi! I don't suppose any of you know a prisoner here named Ian-
    Roy: Haley? I thought I told you not to -
    Ian: Haley? Haley...
    Belkar: Why is she hugging Crazy Old Prison Guy?
    Roy: No clue.
    Belkar: Blech, I guess vicious little parasites don't bother her anymore.
    Roy: Yeah, we've all gotten used to you by now. But don't change the subject.

    Spoiler: Strip 769
    Because Really, That Would Be Less Improbable
    Belkar, Haley, Ian, Roy

    Haley: Dad, I missed you so much!
    Ian: Kitten, what are you doing here?
    Belkar: "Dad"? Are you frickin' kidding me??
    Roy: So, wait, when the guards call this empire "The Fatherland," they mean it literally?
    Haley: I came to rescue you.
    Ian: How did you even know- ?
    Haley: They sent me a ransom note a few years a few years ago. It, took a while for me to get here. I'm so sorry...look at you, you look terrible. Like you aged twenty years since the last time I saw you.
    Ian: Things are pretty lousy here. And that's not a figure of speech.
    <sfx> scratch! scratch!
    Roy: Um, I don't mean to interrupt this heartfelt family reunion-
    Belkar: I do! Stop talking to each other and service our curiosity!
    Haley: Roy, Belkar, this is my dad, Ian Starshine.
    Roy: Yeah, we've met, actually. Though you didn't mention your surname.
    Ian: Can't be too careful, you know. I should have realized something was up, though.
    Belkar: Come again?
    Ian: A powerful warrior shows up in my cell block who just happens to want to hear our long-winded explanation about local politics? I should have known you were a plant.
    Belkar: A plant, huh? That does explain the sluggish reflexes and wooden personality. Better not let the dwarf know.
    Ian: Pretty smooth inside job, Kitten. You get your lackeys into position here to learn all you can, then swoop in and bust me out.
    Haley: ...Uh, thanks?
    Ian: That's my girl. And here I was trying to recruit them for me team. Well, the big guy, at least.
    Belkar: You couldn't afford my current rates anyway.
    Roy: Belkar.
    Belkar: What? I've had offers. You don't know.
    Haley: Actually-
    Roy: Actually, your daughter works for me, Mr. Starshine, not the other way around. I'm the leader of the Order of the Stick.
    Ian: Oh, I see.
    Ian: <whispering> Good work, Kitten. Always let the stuffed shirts think that you're in charge. This way, you can subtly manipulate them into doing what you need without them realizing you arranged it all from the shadows.
    Haley: No, Dad -
    Roy: And for that matter, we didn't come here to rescue you. We're here in this region on a totally unrelated mission. It's just a sheer coincidence that we happened to get thrown in the same cell block as you.
    Ian: <whispering> Wow. You've gotten good at this.

    Spoiler: Strip 770
    Hard Time
    Belkar, Elan, Geoff, Haley, Ian, Roy

    Roy: Come on, let's give them a minute.
    Belkar: Yeah, we'll just stand over in this other part of the big featureless room.
    Ian: Oh, Kitten, I am so glad to see you. This was the worst decision I ever made, right up there with the year I scheduled a bank heist on my wedding anniversary.
    Haley: Ha! I remember that. Mom was so mad, she - Wait. "Decisions"?
    Ian: What you didn't think they captured a master thief like me fair and square, did you?
    Haley: You LET them capture you?? Why?
    Ian: I've been trying to help overthrow this government. See, there's this warlord named Tarquin, who-
    Haley: Yeah, I just got the whole story, I don't need a recap. Dad, I'm certainly not one to knock you for forming a resistance group when you find yourself living under the thumb of an evil dictator. I've been there, it's a powerful urge for our character archetype. But I'm pretty sure it's easier to topple a regime from outside a prison cell, so...what the heck?
    Ian: OK, the important thing to remember is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
    Haley: Gee, I've never heard you say THAT before.
    Ian: Since the government's always throwing dissidents in jail, we thought it would be a great place to recruit like-minded folk to our cause. As it turned out, though, most of the prisoners couldn't follow our long explanation of Tarquin's convoluted scheme. Those who did? Got themselves killed in the arena in short order. Smart people aren't cut out to be gladiators.
    Haley: So if it didn't work, why are you still rotting in this dump?
    Ian: Uh, well, it turns out that just because they can't CATCH a master thief, doesn't mean they can't HOLD a master thief. I've picked that door lock two dozen times, but somehow they always manage to stop me before I get too far. Heck, once I even manged to get all the way out of the city before they found me and dragged me back here. I don't know what tricks they're using to find me current theory is that they've bugged my bugs.
    Haley: Do you have any idea how worried I was? You could have at least told me about this before you went inside.
    Ian: I didn't want you to worry. And I didn't know they'd send a ransom note. But don't worry, Kitten. I've done harder time than this. I mean, Ivy has been smuggling me a decent meal once a week.
    Haley: Aunt Ivy is here? In Town>
    Ian: Sure. How do you think I got tied up in this mess? My sister asked me to come help her husband and her with this rebellion thing.
    Haley: Uncle Geoff? He's here, too?
    Ian: Sure, he's around here somewhere. Oh, look, there he is.
    Geoff: Check it out: I found a familiar face lurking around the door.
    Elan: Don't worry, Haley. There are still no guards coming.

    Spoiler: Strip 771
    Also, 'Chib' Would Have Been Acceptable
    Elan, Geoff, Haley, Ian, Roy

    Geoff: Tarquin's long-lost son.
    Haley: No, Uncle Geoff, stop!
    Geoff: I figure he ought to be worth something, don't you, Ian?
    Ian: Hmm. Good work.
    Elan: I wonder if I qualify for some sort of hostage-based prestigle class by now...
    Haley: No, Dad, you don't understand. That's not Nale, that's -
    Ian: - Tarquin's other son, Elan. I know. We're having gladiatorial games in his honor in the morning. That doesn't make him any less of a bargaining chip, though.
    Haley: Dad!
    Ian: In fact, if the parades and festivals are any indication, Tarquin values him MORE than his other son.
    Elan: Hi! You must be Mr. Starshine! It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Haley's told me so much about you. Well, slightly more than she's told anyone else about you, but still.
    Ian: How do you know my name? Or my daughter?
    Haley: Dad, that's what I've been trying to tell you. Elan's part of my team.
    Ian: What?
    Haley: He helped me break in here and rescue you.
    Ian: Part of your...Oh, Kitten. Don't you see? You've been had, Haley.
    Elan: OK, yes, but it was consensual every time, sir!
    Ian: Don't you see? Tarquin must have sent him!
    Haley: WHAT? No, Dad, you're jumping to -
    Ian: He joined your team to gather information on us - or maybe to catch you red-handed in the act of busting me out!
    Elan: That's not what he sent me here for at all! No, wait, I mean, he didn't send me here at all!
    Geoff: No one uses my niece like that, you little bastard. Make peace with your god.
    Elan: I can't! He's in my pocket!
    Roy: Excuse me. I just wanted to let you know this is no way reflects my views on the differently-abled.
    Geoff: Huh? What do you-
    <sfx> POW!
    Roy: Now, let's have this conversation again, only without any pointy bits of metal against anyone's throat.
    Elan: It's called a "shiv," Roy. Or possibly a "shank."
    Roy: "Gee, thanks for helping me, Roy."
    Elan: No need to thank me. I like helping you learn new things. Also, Roy is your name, not mine.
    Roy: *sigh*

    Spoiler: Strip 772
    Haley's Commitment
    Elan, Haley, Haley's Mother, Ian, Roy

    Roy: Now what's going on here? Explain.
    Ian: Family business, buddy. Back off.
    Roy: Last time I backed off, someone tried to stab my bard.
    Elan: You can also use "shiv" as a verb, as in "Someone tried to shiv my bard."
    Haley: It's OK, Roy. You keep an eye on Uncle Geoff and I'll talk to my dad.
    Ian: Hey!
    Haley: He won't say anything in front of other people now anyway.
    Roy: If you move, I will crush you the way that every word out of Elan's mouth crushes my spirit.
    Elan: Yikes. No need to get THAT rough.
    Haley: Dad, listen: My whole life, you've been the one person who could always tell when I was lying. Do I sound like I'm lying now when I tell you that Elan is on our side?
    Ian: I don't think you're lying Kitten. Per se. I just think you're being tricked. I mean, you've changed a lot since you were a little girl.
    Haley: Thank you for noticing.
    Ian: You were so...perceptive back then.
    Haley: Dad!
    Ian: This blond fool is obviously using you to get to me, honey.
    Haley: Right, because everything is always about you, isn't it?
    Ian: Kitten, try to think about this rationally. Why would Tarquin infiltrate your team just to catch YOU?
    Haley: No, he's not - AARGH! Stop being so paranoid!
    Ian: Start being MORE paranoid! Is this really how I raised you?
    Haley: No, Dad, it's not. You raised me never to trust anyone. To lie and cheat and steal and keep my feelings locked up in a tiny box inside my brain. And you have no idea how screwed up my life has been because of that. I almost went capital-C Crazy just trying to learn to open up and love someone.
    Ian: Love? Oh, please tell me you're talking about the big bald guy.
    Haley: Nope.
    Ian: The halfling?
    Haley: Nope. Also, ewww. I'm talking about Elan, Dad. I love him.
    Ian: Arrggh! Don't you see? That's how people like that gain your trust. They get you to fall in love with them!
    Haley: Yes, Dad, exactly! You trust someone because you love them! "Trust" isn't a dirty word, you know.
    Ian: Of course it isn't. Dirty words are harmless.
    Haley: You trusted Mom.
    Ian: That was completely different.
    Haley: No, it wasn't.
    Haley: <voiceover> Do you remember the day Mom died?
    Ian: <voiceover> How can you even ask me that?
    Haley's Mother: Be better. Both of you. Be better than this town. Than all of this.
    <end flashback>
    Ian: What do you think I'm trying to do in this crappy desert, anyway? I'll tell you: I'm trying to use my skills for something a little better than looting rich folk.
    Haley: Me too, Dad. I found something I can do that's better's hard. I keep slipping up. I get sidetracked or dragged down or just plain lost. Being with Elan makes it clearer. Elan is the best man I've ever met. Sure, he's a little dumb sometimes. Most of the time. But he's...I don't know. Pure. Honest. Better than I am, for sure. He makes me a better person just by being around, and I like feeling feeling that way.
    Ian: You're sleeping with the enemy, young lady. He's the son of the worst villain I've ever known.
    Haley: So what?
    Ian: So blood doesn't lie. You can always trust in family - for good or for ill. I'd bet every penny I have that he's as vile as his father.
    Haley: I'll take that bet.
    Ian: Then you're a sucker.
    Haley: Better a sucker than a cynic.
    Ian: Cynics live longer. Well I, for one, have no intention of falling into whatever trap he and his father have set for me. You can leave with him if you want, but I'm not going with you.
    Haley: Dad! Come on, don't be ridicu-
    Ian: Forget it. I'll figure out how to get out of her eventually without your help. Then I'll free the people who live here from your evil boyfriend's father and make your mother proud of me.
    Haley: You - GAH! Fine! Just sit in here and let the bugs eat you! I'm sure that will really impress Mom. You'll excuse me, of course, if I just go fix the world while you rot!

    Spoiler: Strip 773
    Never Mind, She'd Need a Better Bow to Use It
    Elan, Haley, Roy

    Elan: ...and that's why Banjo's holy water is made with seltzer!
    Haley: OK, Roy, I'm going to make this simple: When you and Belkar break out of here, you're taking my father with you.
    Roy: Uh, based on the yelled-at-each-other portion of your conversation, it sounds like he doesn't want -
    Haley: Whether he wants to or not.
    Roy: Haley, I'm not going to force him to -
    Haley: Yeah, you are. I babysat your decomposing corpse for months, you can do this for me. It's not like I'm asking you to do anything that's not in his best interest. I just don't want this hanging over my head when we fight Xykon.
    Roy: ...OK. Yeah, OK, I'll do it. You're his daughter. I guess at his age, you have a right to determine where he lives for his own good. It's sort of like putting him in a nursing home, only you're taking him AWAY from the abusive staff and daily loss of dignity. So I'll do it. But I'm still not breaking out of here until after that Tarquin guy gives up his secrets about Girard.
    Haley: I'm not sure we can trust him to keep his end of the bargain any more, Roy.
    Roy: Maybe. Maybe not. If he welches, I may have another way of getting him to talk; I can go undercover. He offered me a job if I survive my bout with the blue dragon bounty hunter tomorrow. Which reminds me; On your wya out, stop by the storage room and grab my equipment. Belkar's stuff, too.
    Haley: Sure, no problem. Roy, I'm sorry I never told you about the fact that my dad was being held for ransom.
    Roy: No, you were right not to tell me.
    Haley: ...I was?
    Roy: Back when we met, I wouldn't have trusted you at all if I knew that someone was holding you over a barrel like that. I'd have assumed that you would sell out the party if it meant earning the money you needed. Instead, I just learned to live with your general all-purpose greed. And later, if you had told me, I would be worried about the fact that you had kept it from me. But you did stick by me all those months while I was dead. So you've earned my trust.
    Haley: Thanks, Roy. That means a lot to me.
    Roy: That's why I can ask you to pick up my magic items without worrying.
    Haley: True. If I wanted to run away with your stuff, I had plenty of opportunity. Though to be totally fair, that was before you got that awesome Belt of Giant Strength.
    Roy: HEY!
    Haley: What? You said it was all-purpose greed.

    Spoiler: Strip 774
    Telling Lies
    Belkar, Elan, Geoff, Haley, Elan, Ian, Roy

    Belkar: He needs to be fed at least twice a day. And don't give him cow's milk. It's bad for him, If you give him cow's milk, I'll cut off your nipples.
    Elan: What about goat?
    Belkar: If a goat feeds my cat cow's milk, I'll cut its nipples off, too.
    Haley: OK, I'm leaving now, dad.
    Ian: OK. Bye. Take care.
    Haley: ...
    Ian: You're not going to try to convince me to go with you?
    Haley: No. I don't want to fight anymore.
    Ian: Good.
    Haley: I love you, Dad, See you...I dunno. Whenever.
    Geoff: I, uh...I better stay to keep an eye on him. You know how he is.
    Haley: Yeah, OK, Uncle Geoff. Thanks. Come on, Elan. Let's get out of here.
    Belkar: Finally. Some of us are duelling to the death in the morning.
    Elan: Isn't your dad coming with us?
    Haley: Not today. I've made other arrangements. Don't forget. When you leave, he leaves.
    Roy: Yeah, yeah. I won't forget.
    Haley: Good luck.
    Ian: Wait! Haley, wait! Did you mean what you said? About me screwing up your life? I tried...I tried to be a good father. I just didn't know what I was doing, you know! I tried to prepare you for life in that place, but without your mother...I was scared, all of the time. Of losing you like I lost her. I just...
    <wall text> A-M ZONE.
    Haley: <glibness> No, Dad, I didn't mean what I said. You raised me well.
    <door text> CELL BLOCK G
    Ian: Oh, good. OK, thanks. I love you, too, Kitten.
    Elan: Haley, why didn't you use the potion's magic to tell him I'm a good guy?
    Haley: <glibness> The potion only works on things that aren't true.

    Spoiler: Strip 775
    Telling Lies
    Elan, Haley, Vaarsuvius

    <blimp text> BAD YEAR
    Haley: Now, Elan, remember that when your dad gets here, you need to pretend that he's NOT a totally loathsome villain.
    Elan: Don't worry, Haley. I'll be fine. I know that sometimes, the hero has to play baccarat with the enemy, even though logically it would make more sense for them to just be trying to kill each other. What I don't know is how to play baccarat. Though I would guess it involves riding on a rat's back...
    Vaarsuvius: I apologize for my tardiness.
    Haley: Did Durkon stay back at the palace with his new best friend?
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed. He indicated that he wished to finalize his research, in the event that we depart presently. However, I am not certain as to why I should be required to supervise the feline.
    Haley: Hey, you're the one who started hanging out with animals all of a sudden.
    Vaarsuvius: ...My sanity demands that I not engage that statement.
    Elan: Look at what's going on down there. That's just...obscene.
    Haley: Then don't watch, honey.
    Elan: How can I not watch? It's right there! It's such a senseless waste of lives, all so they can pander to the basest urges of the audience. No one is thinking about the impact on the people down in that arena, you know? They'll never be the same after they're forced to participate in this, even if they DO make it out alive. Everyone involved should be crying tears of shame for the tragedy of it all. This may be what passes for "entertainment" around here, but to me, it's nothing but an abomination.
    Haley: ...Elan, that's just the pregame-
    Elan: I know! As a bard, I find the choreography morally indefensible!

    Spoiler: Strip 776
    A Soberation Oration
    Elan, Haley, Kilkil, Sound Guy, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius

    Tarquin: Elan! Haley! I wasn't sure you would come.
    Elan: Wait, was not coming an option?
    Tarquin: Not really.
    Elan: Oh.
    Tarquin: Did you enjoy the dance show?
    Elan: If I say, "No," will you have them killed?
    Tarquin: Son, I really don't like to lock myself in with regards to whom I may or may not kill in the future.
    Elan: ...Then yes, I liked the show.
    Sound Guy: Amplify Sound!
    Kilkil: The crowd is ready for your opening address, General.
    Tarquin: Thanks. Citizens of the Empire, I am humbled by your generosity - in taking time out of your busy lives to come and honor the son of a lowly soldier such as myself. I am but a public servant to your glorious state - but displays of your eternal support and gratitude like this strengthen my resolve to serve our blessed Empress for as long as she draws fiery breath. And rest assured, I plan to reward you all for coming today with the most exciting, bloodiest - dare I say the deadliest - gladiatorial combat you've ever seen!
    Tarquin: But before we begin, I would like to let my son say a few words about this honor.
    Elan: Huh?
    Haley: What??
    Elan: Don't worry, I'll inspire the people!
    Haley: No, Elan - Remember the speech at Azure City!
    Vaarsuvius: Perhaps we should let it be...
    Elan: Bloody Empire people! I am here to rally your spirits and call on you to cast off the chains that bind you! The strong, well-forged chains that show no signs of weakness. And by that I mean the figurative chains, where the government is keeping you in line with the threat of non-figurative death - and not the actual iron ones that some of you seem to be wearing. Though, I guess you should probably cast those off, too. I mean, it has to be tough to just have your dreams squashed, over and over and over again. To have the last shred of hope ground out of you every single day by the endless brutality. I don't know how you people manage to get up in the morning without sticking your head in the fireplace just to finally escape from it all, but you do. So here to you, common people! At some point in the future, we'll try to free you from this soul-crushing tyranny. Though we do have this other thing we need to do first, and that's kinda important. This is, too, which is why we're totally going to get around to it. But, you know, don't like hold your breath or anything. It might be a while.
    Tarquin: Uh, OK, well, that was a very interesting speech from my son, Elan. Now, who's ready to get this crazy bloodbath started?
    Haley: Huh, it didn't occur to me that demoralizing the people is still sort of a win for the good guys.
    Vaarsuvius: The chance of Elan succeeding at any given task is directly proportionate to how much effort he is expending on achieving its inverse.

    Spoiler: Strip 777
    Under the Arena
    Belkar, Enor, Gannji, Warden, Guard 1, Guard 2, Roy, Spartacus 1, Spartacus 2, Spartacus 3

    Warden: OK, you existentially adrift sons of werebitches, listen up! When he calls our name, say, "Here," and come forward.
    Guard 1: Spartacus.
    Spartacus 1: Here.
    Guard 1: Spartacus.
    Spartacus 2: Here.
    Guard 1: Spartacus.
    Spartacus 3: Here.
    Guard 1: Spartacus.
    Spartacus 3: He's in the loo.
    Guard 2: First up is you vs. you. Off you go, you'll get your weapons once you're in place.
    Gannji: Who do I fight? Is it the halfling? I hope it's the halfling.
    Guard 2: The exact fight schedule is secret. You'll be called when it's your turn.
    Gannji: Eh, that's OK. We know the important match-up anyway - since you're ranked #2 and that human is ranked above you.
    Enor: Gannji, I'm scared.
    Gannji: What, of that guy? He can't even get being a mammal right: he has no hair!
    Enor: But I can't fly with these iron bands on my wings. What if he's faster on the ground than I am?
    Gannji: If he keeps his distance, fry him with lightning.
    Enor: But what if he evades?
    Gannji: He's a fighter! The closest he comes to evasion is if he misreports his taxable wages.
    Enor: But what if-
    Gannji: Hey! Wow! Look at that! That's amazing, what are the chances!
    Enor: Huh?
    Gannji: That piece of string on the ground! This is an authentic piece of lizardfolk Victory String.
    Enor: What's that?
    Gannji: It's this magical string that makes the wearer courageous in battle. Here, I'll give it to you. That way, even if the human seems really scary, you can be brave and win. OK, old buddy?
    Enor: Oh, thank you, Gannji! I was so worried, but now I feel better.
    Gannji: Gah! Save the grappling attacks for the ring, Enor!
    Belkar: Hey Roy, I just overheard that the dragon guy found a -
    Roy: It's just a piece of string, it turns out the bravery was inside him all along, blah blah important lesson blah.
    Belkar: Oh! I get it. Because he's kinda dumb.
    Roy: Uh huh.
    Belkar: That reminds me, Roy; I just happen to have this halfling Courage Rock and I thought you should take it.
    Roy: You go ahead and keep that. In fact, you should probably shove it someplace safe. And dark.

    Spoiler: Strip 778
    Nitpick Your Battles
    Ceruleaus, Vermillius, Guard, Tarquin, Elan

    Ceruleaus: Thumbs up! That means I get to live!
    Vermillius: Actually, that’s a common misconception with no basis in historical fact. While it’s true that not all gladiators fought to the death, the thumb pointing up actually meant that the losing gladiator should be stabbed upward, into the heart.
    Ceruleaus: No, no. I’ve read about this. The sign to kill was the thumb turned sideways.
    Vermillius: Are you sure?
    Guard: What are you doing? You’re both wrong! Pressing the thumb and forefinger together means that he should live, and covering the thumb with the other hand means he should die.
    Vermillius: So what does the upward thumb mean?
    Ceruleaus: Recite bad poetry to the loser?
    Guard: Only if he wiggles the thumb.
    Vermillius: ...Teabag him?
    Guard: That’s DOWN and wiggling.
    Elan: Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell them what you wanted?
    Tarquin: I have to do something to get the crowd excited again.
    Elan: I don’t think people standing around arguing is going to work.
    Tarquin: Just wait for it.
    Ceruleaus: No, pointing the thumb up means to cover the loser in hot maple syrup.
    Vermillius: That’s only if the other thumb’s pointing sideways.
    Guard: Which side? Right or left?
    Vermillius: Right, obviously. If it was left, then you’d have to-
    <sfx> CHOMP! gulp.
    Tarquin: See? And you thought the helmets with no peripheral vision were just for style.
    Elan: Hold on- are we even sure we HAVE thumbs??

    Spoiler: Strip 779
    They Follow His Lead
    Roy, Belkar, Ian, Geoff, Guard, Evisceratus, Hobgoblin, Female Hobgoblin Cleric, Niu

    Belkar: Oooo, sucks to go first, I guess.
    Roy: What I don’t get is how they trained a huge dinosaur to Move Silently like that.
    Belkar: Well, you fighters don’t get Listen as a skill, right?
    Roy: Huh?
    Belkar: Exactly.
    Ian: See? I told you! Look, he’s sitting right next to that tyrant. I knew he was up to no good.
    Geoff: Yeah, you were right to stay where you are, Ian.
    Belkar: Yeah, I can’t believe our fearless leader Haley is getting suckered in by that obvious spy!
    Roy: Belkar, what are you doing?
    Belkar: If he’s mad at Elan, maybe he’ll warm up to me.
    Ian: Fat chance, Fuzzfoot. You forgot, I saw you stealing bread from all the other inmates.
    Belkar: I thought you CG types were into the whole Robin Hood thing.
    Ian: Yeah, so what?
    Belkar: I was stealing from the nutrient-right and giving to the amusement-poor.
    Ian: Pah! I’ve seen your type. You just want to take, take, take, just like Tarquin, or Bozzock.
    Belkar: Hey! Don’t compare me to that loser. He single-handed redefines the term “thieves’ tool.”
    Geoff: You’ve met him? Did he… send you?
    Belkar: What? No! Your niece and me, we kicked his ass good a few weeks back.
    Geoff: Really?? Then… Bozzock’s dead?
    Belkar: Nah. We just roughed him up a bit.
    Geoff: ...Oh. I see.
    Belkar: And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling fairy.
    Ian: Hrmph. Well, don’t think it earns you any points in my book.
    Guard: Belkar Bitterleaf?
    Belkar: Yo.
    Guard: You’re up next.
    Belkar: Awesome. Who do I get to fight?
    Guard: This guy.
    Evisceratus: It’s about time someone brought you to justice for your vile behavior.
    Belkar: Cool. I don’t suppose you could shout, “Smite Evil!” when you attack? Just for fun?
    Evisceratus: What? No!
    Belkar: Ah, it’s just as well. I have no idea where my lead sheet has gotten to, anyway.
    Hobgoblin: Did you hear something?
    Female Hobgoblin Cleric: Detect Good!
    Niu: <whispering> Stop oppressing my culture, you ethnocentric bitch!

    Spoiler: Strip 780
    The Duel Everyone’s Been Waiting For
    Guard, Belkar, Elan, Haley, This Guy, Blackwing, Mr. Scruffy

    Guard: Here’s your weapon, halfling.
    Belkar: Just one? Are you going through some sort of crippling rusty blade shortage around here?
    Elan: Oh my gods! Haley, look, it’s-
    Haley: A halfling we’ve never seen before.
    Elan: Well, I hope that halfling we’ve never seen before can stay safe and we can meet up with him later to finish our quest together.
    Haley: *Sigh*
    Belkar: Wait- are you sure I’m allowed to kill this guy?
    Evisceratus: Only if you can beat me!
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow!
    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius, I think the cat thinks the arena is a giant litter box. Vaarsuvius!
    Belkar: Because normally, when I kill people, everyone gets all bent out of shape about it.
    <sfx> clang!
    Evisceratus: Come on, fight!
    <sfx> whoosh!
    Belkar: And I don’t think any of us wants to go through a whole ‘nother, “Belkar sorta gets punished, but not really,” subplot, y’know?
    Evisceratus: Stand still, damn you, and fight!
    Blackwing: Uh oh.
    <sfx> snap!
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow!
    <sfx> schash!
    Evisceratus: That was weird. Anyway, let’s finish this fi-
    <sfx> splop!
    Evisceratus: -ght. Damn it… I was only 10 XP away… from my 2nd level of Commoner.

    Spoiler: Strip 781
    Guard 1, Guard 2, Guard 3, Belar, Vaarsuvius, Scruffy, Kilkil, Tarquin, Elan, Haley

    Guard 1: Here, kitty kitty kitty. Don’t hurt us.
    Belkar: Hey! If you touch my cat, that prisoner guy won’t be the only one around here who ended their sentence with a semicolon.
    Guard 1: He’s not your cat.
    Guard 2: He belongs to one of General Tarquin’s guests. The elf with the purple hair, I think.
    Guard 1: So get back to the catacombs with the rest of the- Huh?
    Guard 2: On second thought, YOU bring it over to the elf, halfling slave.
    Guard 3: Yeah, I’m not getting disemboweled over this.
    Belkar: Don’t worry, pal. It’ll be okay. No reason to be scared.
    Mr. Scruffy: purrrrrrr
    Belkar: They’re just a bunch of low-level NPC warriors. They don’t matter at all. Hey! You! Uptight-looking androgynous elf!
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, dim-witted halfling thug?
    Belkar: Were you taking care of this cat?
    Vaarsuvius: Yes. I was watching it for a… for an acquaintance of mine.
    Belkar: Well, get him, then, and use that racial Spot bonus to keep a better eye on him.
    Vaarsuvius: Bugsby’s Cat-Retrieving Hand!
    Belkar: Bugsby’s..?
    Vaarsuvius: I am a wizard. Being prepared comes naturally.
    Belkar: OK, Mr. Scruffy, chill with the big people for now, got it?
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow!
    Belkar: Hey, hey, hey! Calm down! I’ll come and find you when this whole stupid gladiator thing is over. You and me to the end, remember?
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow.
    Belkar: Now go, and don’t let that Vulcan-in-fantasy-drag push you around.
    Guard 3: Awwwwww, the jowwy widdle hawfwing wuvs his widdle cat! How cute!
    Kilkil: I don’t mean to alarm you, General, but I think that halfling is force-feeding another man’s intestines to one of our guards.
    Tarquin: Ooooo, bonus action!
    Elan: I can’t tell if the cat is a good influence on Belkar, or Belkar is a bad influence on the cat.
    Haley: Both, I think, but it probably still averages out somewhere south of neutral.

    Spoiler: Strip 782
    Not Yet Met his Match
    Ian, Gannji, Roy, Guard 1, Guard 2, Enor, Guard 3, Belkar

    Ian: OK, not bad. I’m always happy to see someone stick it to one of the guards.
    Ian: Though pulling it out the other end was probably a step too far...
    Gannji: Looks like your little friend got off easy, human.
    Roy: I’m pretty sure it was the other guy who got off easy. The chances of his guts being used as gastrointestinal floss were pretty high either way, and at least he died before it happened.
    Gannji: Maybe I’ll get to fight him next week. It’s a pity you won’t be around to see it after Enor kills you in the arena.
    Roy: Yeah, I’m sure my dying thought will be, “Gosh, I hope Belkar will be alright.”
    Guard 1: “Gannji?”
    Gannji: Here and ready.
    Guard 1: You’re next. And let’s see… some guy named, “Enor.”
    Gannji: ...What?
    Guard 2: I think that’s the big blue guy.
    Enor: Huh?
    Gannji: Are we doing some sort of tag team?
    Guard 1: Sure. You tag the other guy with the tip of your spear. Let’s go.
    Gannji: No, no, no, that’s not possible! He was ranked #2!
    Guard 1: Yeah, and you’re ranked #3, so it’s you vs. him.
    <clipboard text> 1. Roy Greenhilt (Human) - 5th. 2. Enor (Blue Dragon Thing) 3.Gannji (Lizardfolk) - 4th. 4. Offpantio (Human) 5. Notseenicus (Kobold) - 3rd. 6. Belkar Bitterleaf (Halfling) 7. Eviscerstus (Human) - 2nd. 8. Vermilius (Human) 9. Ceruiesus (Human) - 1st.
    Enor: But I don’t want to fight Gannji!
    Guard 3: Well, you should have thought of that before you broke the law.
    Roy: Wait, if #2 fights #3... then who does #1 fight?
    Guard 1: The Champ.
    Roy: The… Champ?
    Guard 1: Sure. You know, the current titleholder. Nasty piece of work, that one.
    Guard 2: They keep him in solitary confinement, you know.
    Roy: Is he strong?
    Guard 1: He has a perfect record. Killed 37 gladiators in a row, including a stone giant. With class levels. PC class levels, even.
    Guard 2: Oh man, that fight was awesome.
    Guard 1: Yeah, but I liked that time that he ripped the other guy’s head clean off with his bare hands.
    Guard 2: That was cool, yeah, but it was over way too quickly.
    Guard 1: True.
    Belkar: Great. How come you get the exciting fight, while I get the wussiest gladiator ever?
    Roy: I’m sure it’s all part of an elaborate plan on the universe’s part to make you horribly jealous.
    Belkar: Goddamn karma!

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-02-02 at 02:12 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #188
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 783 to 804
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 783
    Cold Blooded
    Elan, Tarquin, Guard, Enor, Gannji, Roy, KilKil

    Elan: Hey! I know those guys! They’re the ones who brought us here, right? How did they end up in the arena?
    Tarquin: There may have been a few strings pulled. Consider this another special present for you, my boy.
    Guard: FIGHT!
    Enor: I don’t wanna.
    Gannji: Oh boy. Think, Gannji, think. How are you going to get out of this one.
    Tarquin: Hmmm. They’re not fighting.
    Elan: Dad, they’re like, best buddies or something.
    Tarquin: I’m well aware, but right now, they’re ruining my gift to you.
    Gannji: Enor, we have to pretend to fight for a while. Then, you can act like you beat me and we can both go back.
    Enor: No! I don’t wanna! You’re my best friend.
    Gannji: At least just wave your claws around a little! Could you possibly make it a little more realistic? At least get CLOSE to hitting me.
    Enor: You might get hurt by accident.
    Gannji: Damn it, Enor, work with me here!
    Roy: Geez, that lizardfolk is a jackass, but he still doesn’t deserve this.
    Tarquin: This is obviously staged, and more to the point, it’s staged poorly. Kilkil, if those two prisoners don’t start fighting- for real- in the next 30 seconds, I want you to take action.
    Gannji: I don’t think they’re buying it, old friend. Listen, I have a plan, but… you’re not going to like it. I need you to kill me.
    Enor: What??
    Gannji: No, listen. If you kill me, they’ll let you live to fight another day. And we both know you can survive more fights than a rogue like me. I like to flap my gums, but I wouldn’t survive two days in this place without you to protect me.
    Kilkil: Should I release the allosaurus?
    Tarquin: No, not twice in one day. I don’t want to lessen the impact for when it does show up.
    Gannji: After you kill me, cut the tip of my tail off. Tell the guards it’s a trophy for your victory. They won’t question it ‘cause you’re part ogre. They do stuff like that all the time. Keep it hidden, and if you ever get out of this hellhole, find a cleric and pay to resurrect me.
    Tarquin: Just have the soldiers get ready to shoot them where they stand. Thirty crossbow bolts should take down even a half-dragon.
    Kilkil: Yes, General.
    Enor: No, Gannji, there had to be another way!
    Gannji: Well I can’t think of one! They’re going to kill us both if we don’t do something! So just hurry up and get to it.
    Elan: Come on, Dad, don’t do this. Let them fight other people, at least.
    Tarquin: Where would the fun in that be? The whole point of this match-up was so you could enjoy the extra tragedy of the two of them fighting.
    Gannji: What the hell is wrong with you, you stupid oaf? You moron! Kill me already!
    Enor: No!
    Gannji: DO IT!
    Enor: NO! I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna hurt you. I don’t wanna be alone. You kill me instead, Gannji. You’re smart, and you’re never scared. You’ll be better off all by yourself.
    Gannji: ...Enor…Don’t you see? It has to be you. It has to be. You have the Victory String.
    Enor: Oh…oh no, Gannji, here, you take it!
    Gannji: No, uh… Its effects last for 24 hours. I couldn’t beat you if I tried. Now come on, let’s get this over with, OK?
    Elan: Dad, I don’t enjoy watching people suffer just because they got the better of me once!
    Tarquin: You don’t? Huh. Weird. Well, if you’re really not enjoying it, I’ll just end it.
    Elan: Good!
    Gannji: This is the way it has to be, buddy.
    Enor: I’m sorry, Gannji. I’ll get you fixed real soon. I promise.
    Gannji: It’s OK. I know you will.
    Tarquin: Kill them both.
    Kilkil: Yes, General.
    Elan: What? That’s not what I-
    <sfx> thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk! thntk!

    Spoiler: Strip 784
    Tarquin, Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Elan, Kilkil, Ian, Belkar

    Tarquin: HEY! I specifically said NO to the dinosaur! I don’t want to overexpose it! Now we’re going to have to hold it back for three of four weeks, just to keep the whole dino thing from getting played out.
    Blackwing: Hell yeah, Brother! Chomp those monkeys!
    Vaarsuvius: I would prefer if you kept your voice down.
    Blackwing: You’re only saying that because you’re threatened by a strong theropod role model.
    Elan: Hooray! The people whose names I know are saved!
    Tarquin: Oh, come on, the soldiers? They don’t grow on trees you know! Serves them right for releasing the damn thing, though.
    Kilkil: General, none of the soldiers released the allosaurus.
    Tarquin: ...Then who did?
    Kilkil: It looks like some of the prisoners snuck out of the slave pit and picked the lock on its cage.
    Ian: Heh heh, look at ‘im go. I don’t know why *I* never thought of this.
    Belkar: If you blab to Roy that it was my idea, I’ll find a sharp way to make sure Haley stays an only child.
    Ian: Oh, you don’t have to worry about that.
    Belkar: Good.
    Ian: I’ve been sterile as a mule since I tripped that poison needle trap ten years back.

    Spoiler: Strip 785
    The Cost of Freedom
    Enor, Gannji, Tarquin, Elan, Kilkil

    Enor: Gannji! Are you OK?
    Gannji: Enor, your wing bonds! They got cracked in the tramping!
    Enor: So, you’re OK, then?
    Gannji: Yes! Turn around.
    <sfx> crrrrrAAAK!
    Enor: Ohhhh! I feels good to stretch!
    Gannji: Stop stretching and stand still, I need to pry off the other one, too!
    Enor: Hooray, I can fly!
    Gannji: OK, but can you fly a little bit higher? I think the big carnivorous beast noticed us. Pull up! PULL UP!
    <sfx> SNAP!
    Tarquin: OK, that was a pretty cool piece of flying.
    Elan: Really? Aren’t you going to rant about how they escaped your clutches?
    Tarquin: Hey, I know a daring escape when I see one. Besides, the crowd LOVES that stuff. Listen to them cheer. Good thing, too. These games were starting to suck.
    Elan: I don’t get it. They defied your authority! Doesn’t that make you angry?
    Tarquin: Sure, but not as mad as spending fifty grand on a propaganda event that no one even remembered would have. Plus, we confiscated that bounty we paid to them, right?
    Kilkil: Yes, sir. As well as the full WBL for an NPC of their level, times two, minus their gladiator equipment and the cost to replace the soldiers that just got eaten… I calculate that the empire turned a total profit of 66,435 gp on their capture.
    Tarquin: See? Why should I get upset, they paid for these entire games and then-
    Gannji: HEY, TARQUIN! Choke on this!
    <sfx> thunk!
    Kilkil: Correction: 66,437 gp.
    Tarquin: Their every move makes my victory more complete.

    Spoiler: Strip 786
    One Step Worse that “Diminutively”
    Belkar, Roy, Ian, Guard, Champion

    Roy: Where the hell have you been?
    Belkar: Taking the biggest dump since Elan assigned his Intelligence score. What’s it to you?
    Roy: You missed all the excitement. Someone let the big dinosaur loose in the arena, and the two bounty hunters escaped. The guards are freaking out trying to figure out who did it.
    Belkar: I had nothing to do with that!
    Roy: Yeah, I know.
    Belkar: ...You do?
    Roy: Yep.
    Belkar: Well, OK, then.
    Roy: OK.
    Belkar: Just out of curiosity, how do you KNOW that I didn’t set the dinosaur free?
    Roy: Uh… I’ve met you?
    Belkar: What is that supposed to mean?
    Roy: It means that you only do stuff if it gets you something, or if you think it’s funny.
    Belkar: A bunch of dead guards is hilarious.
    Roy: To you? Yes. But it would have been even funnier to you to watch the big guy have to kill his friend, and THEN release it.
    Belkar: Oh. Right. OK. well, yeah. Sounds like you’ve got that figured out.
    Roy: Yep.
    Belkar: Wasn’t me.
    Roy: I know.
    Guard: Alright, they got the allosaurus sedated and back in its cage. Greenhilt, you’re up. The Champ is on his way.
    Roy: I guess this is it. Don’t maim anyone while I’m gone.
    Belkar: Right, because I hurt people, I don’t help them.
    Roy: ...Right.
    Ian: You’re a master of deceit.
    Belkar: Hey, I’m not used to this! I usually rub my action in other people’s faces and laugh! And point! I sometimes point. Aren’t you going to hassle me to admit to Roy that I did it to save their lives?
    Ian: Nope. I’m not a big fan of coming clean.
    Belkar: Well, geez, I could have told you that the moment I was first downwind of you.
    Ian: ‘Course, now that they put the dino down for a nap, there’ll be no way to help your friend out against the Champion.
    Belkar: Eh. I’m sure Roy will be fine.
    <sfx> rattle! rattle!
    Champion: rrrrRRRRWWRR
    Belkar: “Finely Chopped” counts.

    Spoiler: Strip 787
    No Time For Losers
    Roy, Guard, Unseen Announcer, Thog

    Roy: THAT’S the Champion?? What’s with all the chains and such?
    Guard: He’s crazy, and we don’t want to lose any more guards. Plus, this way we can muzzle him, so we don’t have to listen to his insanity.
    Roy: Geeze. What was the original crime that landed him here?
    Guard: Public urination.
    Roy: What? You mean he got thrown into months of death matches because he peed on the sidewalk?
    Guard: Yeah. So?
    Roy: “So”?? That changes everything! When the guards told me how violent he was, I just assumed that he was in here for murder or something. I figured that even though your legal system was screwed up, at least I would be meting out justice for all the victims if I had to kill him.
    Roy: <voiceover> But now he’s the victim! He didn’t do anything wrong before you locked him up in here and made him fight a bunch of criminals to the death! No wonder he’s gone crazy!
    Roy: I’m not fighting him.
    Guard: What are you, nuts? Take the sword!
    Roy: No, look, I’m not going to fight some poor guy who got stuck doing your empire’s dirty work.
    Guard: Then he’ll kill you!
    Roy: No, I don’t think so. I think this charade has gone on long enough,. There’s no reason for me to stay here and-
    Unseen Announcer: [voiceover] Ladies and gentlemen, your undefeated gladiatorial champion- THOG!
    Thog: thog is the champion, thog’s friends! and thog keeps on fighting to the end!!
    Roy: Give me the sword. Then run.

    Spoiler: Strip 788
    A Vexation Or Irritation
    Tarquin, Elan, Haley, Thog, Roy

    Tarquin: Oh man, I have been looking forward to this one.
    Elan: THOG?? Here?
    Haley: Oh crap.
    Thog: thank you, tiny people on benches! thog loves you all! thog-
    <sfx> CLONK!
    Tarquin: You know this clown?
    Elan: Yes! he works for Nale!!
    Tarquin: Yeah, I know he did. The prefects picked him up on the street, and I’ve been trying to kill him ever since. But once he won the first two or three bouts I threw his way, I couldn’t just slit his throat in the night, you know? He’s a crowd favorite.
    Tarquin: It’s weird, no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he’s lovable.
    Thog: talky-man! hello, talky-man!
    Roy:Hello, Thog.
    Thog: thog will always treasure thog’s adventures with talky-man. it featured non-traditional panel layout.
    Roy: Do you remember the earth fairy you killed right under my nose?
    Thog: yes. thog remember thog had to power attack to cut through-
    Roy: Shut up! Did you know that she was one of my girlfriend’s best friends here on this plane?
    Thog: no, but thog thankful for update on talky-man’s relationship status.
    Tarquin: I’ve got pretty high hopes for this new guy, though. I think he’s got what it takes to win.
    Elan: Haley, if Thog is alive, then-
    Haley: I know.
    Roy: How about all the cops you killed in Cliffport? Do you remember them?
    Thog: thog says, “fudge the police!”
    Roy: What about the dozens of citizens you killed to lure them there?
    Thog: actually, thog hazy on that. did thog kill them off-panel?
    Roy: “Hazy”?? Bad news for you, then. Bad guys not remembering their evil deeds is something of a pet peeve of mine.
    Thog: really? do you walk it and groom it and feed-
    Thog: shucks.

    Spoiler: Strip 789
    Also, His Popularity Has Waned
    Elan, Tarquin, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Zz’dtri, Blackwing

    Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go… uh, have sex.
    Tarquin: Well, you’ll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do.
    Haley: Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case.
    Tarquin: ...Huh.
    Elan Haley, if Thog’s alive, then NALE is probably alive!:
    Haley: No “probably” about it. There’s no way Thog got himself back to the Western Continent.
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed, were he alone, he would have had little reason to withdraw from a city overrun by goblinoids.
    Elan: So Nale has been alive - and here - for months?!
    Haley: It gets worse. Those posters have been advertising that these games were being held in your honor for the last two days. If Nale is anywhere in the city, then he knows that we are, too.
    Vaarsuvius: Furthermore, if he knew that you would be present at this glatitorial match, then he would also know that you would see his half-orc underling - as you just did - which in turn means that he knew that you would know that he was in the empire. and that you would know the he would know that you knew/
    Elan: Which means… that I’m totally confused.
    Haley: It means that we should get ourselves ready to fight, because if Nale is planning on catching us off-guard, the best time to do it is right-
    Zz'dtri: Flesh to Stone.
    Elan: HALEY!
    Zz'dtri: Hello.
    Elan: You?! Why? Are you working for me brother??
    Zz’dtri: Never stopped.
    Elan: Zz’dtri?? What- How-?
    Blackwing: Hey, so THAT’S why all the glares!
    Vaarsuvius: Bah! Impossible. When last you threatened us, I had you dragged away by those buffoonish lawyers due to your obvious infringement of a more popular dark elf character. How could you have possibly escaped?
    Zz’dtri: Parody is protected speech.
    Vaarsuvius: Nnnh!

    Spoiler: Strip 790
    Vaarsuvius, Zz’dtri, Elan, YukYuk, Blackwing, Qarr, Sir Scraggly

    Vaarsuvius: Oof!
    Elan: Are you OK? And can you turn Haley back? Did you prepare Stone to Soft Curvy Flesh today?
    Vaarsuvius: No, sadly, but Master Thundershield has Break Enchantment on his list for today, which will have a similar effect. You must go to him.
    Elan: No! I’m not abandoning Haley again!
    Vaarsuvius: Nor did I suggest that you should. Stand aside. Shrink Item! When you find the dwarf, simply throw the figurine onto a firm surface ti restore its normal size.
    Elan: Thank you, V! But… I can’t abandon you, either.
    Vaarsuvius: You must, and not simply for Miss Starshine’s sake. Our cleric is alone, and does not know that the Linear Guild is afoot. There is a chance that if I hold this nefarious elf in check you will be able to warn him before either your wretched brother or his dark paramour can attack - but only if you leave right now!
    Elan: Are you sure you’ll be OK, V?
    Vaarsuvius: We do not have time for assurances! Quickened Haste!
    Elan: ...Was that a spell or were you just telling me to go super-fast?
    Vaarsuvius: GO!!
    Zz’dtri: Brave, facing me alone.
    Vaarsuvius: hardly He will be of far greater efficacy in that capacity than he would ever be engaging you. I have learned many lessons since our previous duel, drow/.
    Zz’dtri: Duel? Who said I was alone?
    <sfx> thunk! thunk!
    Vaarsuvius: Aaargh!!
    YukYuk: Yeeeeehah! Sneak attack! Good job, Sir Scraggly!
    Sir Scraggly: Grrrr!
    Vaarsuvius: A kobold. Of course. Stoneskin. As entrances go, I suppose I only prefer the eminiently predictable to the genuinely shocking. You are named YakYak, I presume?
    YukYuk: Yukyuk, actually. What kind of a stupid name would “YakYak” be, anyway?
    Blackwing: Oh yeah? Well, Vaarsuvius isn’t alone, either! I’m here, too! And I’m gonna fly up there and peck your Little Orphan Annie eyes out!
    Zz’dtri: Right, the familiar. Odd. I have one, too, now.
    <sfx> pop!
    Blackwing: *gasp!*
    Qarr: Hey, how’s it going? I don’t think we’ve ever been formally introduced.

    Spoiler: Strip 791
    Don’t Get MAD
    Roy, Thog

    Roy: Wait- where did Haley and the others go?
    Thog: haw haw haw haw!
    Roy: Damn it, it’s Nale, isn’t it? This is another crazy ambush scenario.
    Thog: huh? thog not know, thog not see nale in long time. thog just thinking of funny joke thog learned from guards. what’s black and white and red all over?
    <sfx> clang!
    Roy: A newspaper.
    Thog: a zebrafolk who talks back! haw haw haw haw! ‘nuff comedy. thog now crush talky-man! thog unstoppable, like sink with broken drain.
    Roy: That would be unstopperable, you idiot.
    Thog: thog that, too.
    Roy: Nnnh! I don’t care how strong you are, thug.
    Thog: thog’s name is thog.
    Roy: I didn’t misspeak.
    Thog: ow!
    Roy: You’re all brawn, no brains, while I have both.
    Thog: oh no! does talky-man have prestige class that lets him add intelligence bonus to attacks?
    Roy: Uh, no, but-
    Thog: damage rolls?
    Roy: No.
    Thog: armor class? saving throws?
    Roy: No, but that’s not the point!
    Thog: then how talky-man use intelligence in fight with thog?
    Roy: I don’t know yet, OK?! I’ll figure something out, that’s sort of the whole point.
    Thog: thog think thog smarter than talky-man anyway.
    Roy: Are you serious??
    Thog: sure. thog already knows how to use best ability score in fight. thog elegant in thog’s simplicity.
    Roy: On the plus side, I think I have less brain cells to worry about.

    Spoiler: Strip 792
    Animal Instincts
    Qarr, Blackwing, Zz’dtri, Vaarsuvius, YukYuk, Ian, Belkar, Mr. Scruffy, Sir Scraggly

    Blackwing: You! You’re the imp that worked for that noble! What are you doing here?
    Qarr: Let’s just say that a friend of a friend introduced us, and leave it at that.
    <sfx> bzzzap!
    Blackwing: OK, second question: why are you shooting at me?? You wanted to help Vaarsuvius last time!
    Qarr: Hey, I’m an ancient being of pure evil made flesh; do not presume that you can grasp the extent of my sinister agenda!
    <sfx> bzzzap!
    Blackwing: Wait, I get it- you’re working for those archfiends now, aren’t you? This whole thing with Zz’dtri is just a cover story.
    Qarr: What? Uh, no! No, of course not! Shut up!
    Blackwing: Ha! That’s it, I figured it out! And I’m gonna tell my master on you!
    <sfx> bzzzap! bzzzap!
    Qarr: Get back here, you stupid bird!
    Zz’dtri: Baleful polymorph!
    Vaarsuvius: Counterspell! Quickened Hold Person!
    Zz’dtri: Spell Resistance. Still.
    Vaarsuvius: Damnations! Why must it scale with level?
    YukYuk: Darn it, that elf is flying too high for a Sneak Attack, and my arrows aren’t getting through his protection spell without it. We shoulda followed the bard, Sir Scraggly.
    Sir Scraggly: *sniff!* *sniff!* Grrrr!
    YukYuk: What’s that, boy? You can smell something behind the column?
    Sir Scraggly: Grrrr!
    YukYuk: Lookee here. What’s a nice kitty cat like you doin’ in a place like this? Are you scared, little guy? Is that why you’re hiding? You don’t need to be scared, I’m a ranger. I love animals. They make great entertainment, don’t they, Sir Scraggly?
    <sfx> thunk!
    Mr. Scruffy: meeeeeeeOWWR!
    Ian: Belkar, aren’t you going to watch Roy fight The Champion?
    Belkar: Oh, please. Round Three with the Linear Guild?
    YukYuk: Sic ‘im, boy.
    Belkar: <voiceover> Everyone knows that they’re no real threat to the six of us.

    Spoiler: Strip 793
    Critical Thinking
    Elan, Palace Guard 1, Palace Guard 2, Sabine, Nale

    Elan: Whew! I’m exhausted! I really need to take the Endurance feat next time. Or the Run feat. Those would both be solid choices.
    Palace Guard 1: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where do you think you’re going?
    Elan: I need to warn my friend, Durkon! He’s inside, and he doesn’t know the Linear Guild is attacking!
    Palace Guard 1: And you are...?
    Elan: I’m General Tarquin’s son! I’ve been staying here for two days! This whole stupid festival is about me!
    Palace Guard 1: You still need to show me your paperwork to get in or out of the palace.
    Elan: Fine, here’s the dumb piece of paper. Can I go in now?
    Palace Guard 1: Hmmm… yes. Yes, this will do. See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Dave, can you show this gentleman into the palace?
    Elan: I don’t need a guide, I know where I’m going!
    Sabine: Be that as it may-
    Elan: *gllrk!*
    Sabine: I insist.
    <sfx> wooosh!
    Palace Guard 1: Huh. Did you know Dave had wings?
    Palace Guard 2: I didn’t even know his name was Dave.
    Sabine: Long time, no see, Elan. Here, let me give you a kiss hello.
    <sfx> smooch!
    Elan: Arrrgh! Where are you taking me, Sabine?
    Sabine: The palace, like you asked. Just the part that’s not quite finished yet.
    Nale: Fitting, since my conquest is not quite finished yet. But it will be soon.
    Elan: Nale! You’re alive!
    Nale: Of course I’m alive, you moron. What I can’t figure out is how you didn’t KNOW I was alive the whole time. You’re the bard; surely you should have known that when the bad guy dies off-screen, he’s not really dead unless you see the body. And half the time, not even then.
    Elan: Yeah, but the hero always THINKS the bad guy is dead until he shows up again.
    Nale: But… if you know that, then how can you be surprised… Why didn’t you realize that you thinking I was dead was… I mean… Gah! I think I’m giving myself a migraine trying to understand the level of willful ignorance that requires!
    Elan: First blood: ELAN!

    Spoiler: Strip 794
    We Reccomend Tsukiko
    Elan, Nale, Sabine

    Nale: So... you’ve met Father now, what do you think of him?
    Elan: I think I finally understand why you’re the way you are. You’re just like him.
    Nale: I’m NOTHING like him! He’s a shortsighted fool, content to live out his dwindling day in luxury rather than seize true power. With just the resources he commands now, he could rule this world forever if he had the guts to use them.
    Elan: No, I meant more with the whole, “Hey, let’s kill a bunch of innocent people,” thing.
    Nale: Oh, yeah, sure. I guess we were always able to bond over that.
    Elan: Plus, there’s the fact that you’re both totally crazy, and I’m not going to let either one of you get away with your evil schemes!
    Nale: My, you’re just full of pluck today, Brother.
    Elan: My pluckocity is constant!
    Nale: Sabine, dearest, I think our guest needs one more of your energy-draining kisses to remind me of his current bind.
    Sabine: With pleasure, darling.
    Elan: No- the pleasure is mine!
    <sfx> SMOOCH!!
    Nale: Um…OK, that’s good. That’s… that’s enough negative levels, honey. Sabine? SABINE!!
    Sabine: Oh, uh… sorry, Nale, uh… I was just...
    Nale: You were just playtesting the grapple rules with my brother’s tongue!
    Sabine: Nale, honey, come on. We’ve been over this before, it’s not like that.
    Nale: Uh huh, sure. I know how much you’re attracted to those edgy “good boys,” Sabine. You know I can never be that!
    Sabine: No, Nale, that’s not what I want. Sure, women like me swoon for a hero, but that’s only because deep down, we think we can change them. But me, I’m done with that now. I want a nice, safe, reliable mass-murderer that I can depend on. Like you.
    Nale: Oh really? Why don’t you just go chase after him, then?
    Sabine: Nale, you know I love you. I didn’t-
    Nale: No, I mean literally. Go chase after him. He’s escaping.
    Elan: I’m really sorry about that, Tiny Stone Haley, but I had to escape. I promise, when this is over, you can make out with any of our recurring villains you want.

    Spoiler: Strip 795
    Back To The Action
    Elan, Nale, Zz’dtri, Vaarsuvius, Guard, Tarquin, Thog, Roy

    Nale: Get back here!
    Elan: Why do bad guys shout stuff like that anyway? Has anyone ever actually gotten back there? WHOA! Geez, Dad, couldn’t you have made sure to build all the floors first, and then worry about the walls? No time to whine about it, I need to find Durkon! I just hope the others are doing OK...
    Nale: HEY! Stop trying to change the scene right before we catch-
    Vaarsuvius: Prismatic Spray!
    Zz’dtri: Spell Res-
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, yes, spell resistance, I know! But how is your resistance so insurmountable? If we are of equal level, I should stand a fair chance of penetrating it.
    Zz’dtri: Boosted. Feats. Stuff. To fight you.
    Vaarsuvius: ARRRGH!! Very well, then I shall need to rely on those few spells available to me that bypass spell resistance. Forcecage!
    Zz’dtri: Dimension-
    <sfx> pop!
    Zz’dtri: -Door.
    <sfx> pop!
    Vaarsuvius: DAMNATIONS!!
    Guard: General, the elf that arrived with your son seems to be engaged in a wizard’s duel with an unknown drow in the arena lobby.
    Tarquin: Huh. Is my son or his girlfriend out there?
    Guard: No, sir.
    Tarquin: Keep a safe distance and let them fight it out, then. No sense losing any more soldiers today. I’ll be along to help you arrest both of them once this match is over. I feel like it’s just getting to the good part.
    Thog: thog excited to be part of ultimate fight between opposites!
    Roy: I am so sick of hearing about “evil opposites” from you people! You’re not my opposite, Thog! You’re just different from me! Things need to be almost the same except for one or two factors to be opposites!
    Thog: uh… thog was talking about greatsword vs. greataxe.
    Roy: They’re not opposites either!! You might as well say that Nale and I are opposites: Good leader, bad leader!
    Thog: nale is good leader, right?
    Roy: Or Sabine! She’s an evil female, I’m a good male. Opposites!
    Thog: good point, thog never thought of that.
    Roy: NO! It’s not a good point!
    <sfx> clunk!
    Roy: You’re nothing special, Thog! You’re not my equal and opposite. I’ve beaten plenty of cruel and stupid goons in my time, and I’ll beat down many more when I’m done with you. We have nothing in common!
    <sfx> clunk! clunk!
    Roy: NOTHING!
    <sfx> CRACK!!
    Roy: *whew* I’m glad that’s over. Do the refs call it now?
    Thog: talky-man broke thog’s tusk.
    Roy: What? What did you-

    Spoiler: Strip 796
    Roy, Thog

    <sfx> CRACK! krnk! pnnt! shlink!
    <finger text> THOG fan 4 life
    <sfx> thnnk. thnnk. thnnk. WHNK! CRRNSH! KRAK! whump!!
    Roy: I surrender.

    Spoiler: Strip 797
    Bird Brained
    Qarr, Blackwing

    Qarr: OK, you are really starting to piss me off, bird. Come out from wherever you’re hiding and I’ll make it quick and painless. On second thought… I formally retract my previous offer.
    <sfx> pop! bzzzap!
    Qarr: Gotcha! Huh? Pretty clever for a glorified class feature.
    Blackwing: Geez, is he dead again? V doesn’t have another soul to sell! No-wait- I think his leg just moved.
    <sfx> pop!
    Qarr: You can’t outrun someone who can teleport at will, just so you know.
    Blackwing: Aaahhhh!
    Qarr: Come on, my wings are tired. Tell you what, I’ll make you a good old-fashioned devil’s bargain. Let me kill you now, and I promise Vaarsuvius won’t be killed by anyone in the Linear Guild.
    Blackwing: Huh? Why would you-
    Qarr: Because I’m not here to hurt your master. I’m here to keep an eye on him. Or her. Whatever. But Zz’dtri, he’s out for blood. I can prevent him from killing Vaarsuvius, if you make it worth my while. And isn’t it a familiar’s duty to secure their master’s safety…at any cost?
    Blackwing: Ha! Thanks for tipping your hand, imp! You really are terrible at this whole temptation racket.
    Qarr: What? It’s a perfectly reasonable sacrifice.
    Blackwing: Maybe- but all I really do for V is give the occasional piece of advice. If you want me out of the way so bad, then that just tells me my advice is in your way - which means keeping myself alive to give V more of it is the best thing I can do to help!
    Qarr: Damnit! How do I keep getting outsmarted by a lowly bird??
    <sfx> ZZAAPP!
    Blackwing: I prefer to think of myself as a super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur!
    Blackwing: (Also, you’re a moron.)

    Spoiler: Strip 798
    Change Of Plans
    Roy, Guard, Belkar, Ian, Geoff

    <sfx> skrtcht!
    Thog: ARRGRRRGH!
    Roy: *huf* *huf* huf*
    Guard: Get ready, he’s trying to escape.
    Roy: *huf* *huf* huf* Ah, crap. It really IS a crazy ambush scenario. Belkar! BELKAR! Are you down there? Belkar, can you bust out of here on your own?
    Belkar: Does Durkon need to bathe more?
    Roy: Then do it. The Linear Guild is attacking, probably in the lobby or just outside the arena. I want you to find them and kick their asses.
    Belkar: Boooorrrring. No thanks.
    Roy: Belkar!
    Belkar: Oh, right, I mean, “Yes, sir, Mr. Leader, sir!” Because I’m a good team member. Meet me over there, or you wanna come with?
    Roy: Neither, much to the displeasure of my internal organs. Now that I know that Nale’s lackeys are attacking, I need to stay here and put on a good show for General Elan’s Daddy until they’re all beaten. I don’t want to raise a bunch of uncomfortable questions about why we’re really here by turning a simple prize fight into a brother vs. brother team grudge match right in front of his eyes.
    Roy: <voiceover> Plus…I think Nale might know about the Gates. If he wants to keep this under wraps from his significantly-more-competent father, I’m inclined to agree with him for once.
    Roy: Now go on and- NNNH!
    <sfx> THONK!!
    Ian: Greenhilt, don’t be a fool! That half-orc is going to kill you if you stay in there!
    Roy: Yeah, probably. If someone has to die for this, though, I choose me. Actually, I choose him, but if that’s not an option, better me than someone else. Now get going, Belkar! I’ll draw this out as long as I can.
    Belkar: Yeah, yeah, I’m going.
    Ian: You’ve got gumption, kid, I’ll say that much. Here- I’ve been hiding this for just such a day.
    Roy: Thanks, Ian. This ought to keep me going for a bit longer.
    Ian: Don’t worry about the cost- you can pay me later. I offer very reasonable interest rates.
    Roy: Heh. Guess you really are Haley’s-
    <sfx> CRUNCH!! keesh!
    Thog: RRAWWRR!!
    Roy: Hey, Thog, let’s play Tag. You’re “It.”
    Thog: RAAWRRGH!!
    Ian: Would it be crass to bill him extra for a single-use improvised weapon?
    Geoff: Yes.
    Ian: “Lovable miser” crass, or just-
    Geoff: Just regular crass.
    Ian: Hmmph.

    Spoiler: Strip 799
    In the Bag
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Zz’dtri, YukYuk

    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius, are you OK?
    Vaarsuvius: I have yet to conclusively affect the drow. How fares Sir Greenhilt?
    Blackwing: Alive and on the move. Beyond that, it’s tough to say. I’m doing fine too, thanks for asking.
    Vaarsuvius: But I did not inquire.
    Blackwing: *sigh*
    <sfx> pop!
    Vaarsuvius: Empowered Fireball!
    Zz’dtri: Nnnh.
    Vaarsuvius: Aha! I have at last penetrated your thrice-damned spell resistance! Burn, you insufferably terse dullard!
    Zz’dtri: Kidding. Protection from Fire.
    Vaarsuvius: DAMNATIONS!!
    Zz’dtri: Plus Lightning Reflexes.
    Vaarsuvius: This is absurd! I am making the best use of my spell resources that I am able - but how in the infinite planes of existence am I supposed to be capable of defeating a wizard who has tailored not only his daily spells but his very build specifically to defeat…me. Invisibility.
    YukYuk: Come on, little white cat. You’re just making the two of us work up more of an appetite looking for you.
    Sir Scraggly: *sniff!*
    YukYuk: Well lookee here, I think I found something.
    Sir Scraggly: Rruwr?
    YukYuk: Hot damn, lookit that! I’m rich! That’s gotta be double what Nale’s payin’ me, maybe even triple! Must be one of them Bags of Holding, what’s bigger on the inside than the out. Huh. I guess it’s just my lucky day.

    Spoiler: Strip 800
    Right Tool for the Job
    Vaarsuvius, Zz’dtri

    Vaarsuvius: I may be in error, but I believe the appropriate proclamation is “Sneak Attack, bitch.”
    <sfx> thunk! thunk!
    Zz’dtri: Break Enchantment.
    Vaarsuvius: Counterspell. I shall take that choice as confirmation that I have unraveled the conundrum of your imperviousness.
    <sfx> pop! pop!
    Vaarsuvius: A wizard’s strength is his ability to prepare different spells each day, but it is also our weakness. It is difficult, even for us, to defend against every possible form of attack simultaneously. Those we cannot block outright, we must evade. Those we cannot evade, we must eliminate pre-emptively. Which brings to mind your first spell in this skirmish.
    <sfx> thunk!
    Vaarsuvius: <voiceover> Flesh to Stone - not to me, your hated enemy, but directed at an archer. Clearly, you were confident that your current spell selection would allow you to weather my magical assault with relative impunity-
    <sfx> thunk! thunk!
    Zz’dtri: NNH!!
    Vaarsuvius: -but you could not say the same for a volley of arrows. Not being an archer myself, I was obligated to Dominate yours.
    Zz’dtri: Phantasmal Killer.
    Vaarsuvius: By all means, feel free to attempt to murder your own ally. I believe he just ceased his struggles against my mental commands to shoot you.
    <sfx> thunk! thunk!
    Vaarsuvius: Welcome, however temporarily, to the Order of the Stick, Mr. YukYuk. Continue this ratio of effectiveness-to-chatter, and I shall see if I cannot open up a position in our short Duel-Wielding Murderer department. What say you to that?
    YukYuk: ...
    Vaarsuvius: Perfection.

    Spoiler: Strip 801
    Bound to Happen
    Nale, Sabine, Elan, Amun-Zora

    Nale: You check the scaffolding, I’ll look for him in here.
    Sabine: Got it. Stay safe, baby.
    Nale: You too. Where are you, Elan? I know Sabine’s kiss must have left you weak in the knees…and down a few levels.
    Elan: Geez, Nale, you always lose these dumb ambushes! Why won’t you leave us alone??
    <sfx> clang!
    Nale: What are you blathering about, you moron? I’ve been hiding her for months! You followed us!
    Elan: No, we didn’t! We thought you were dead!
    Nale: Then what the Hell are you doing here?
    <sfx> clang!
    Elan: I don’t even know! Stuff just sorta happened!
    Nale: Yeah, right. Last week, you’re hundreds of miles away in the middle of the desert – and then suddenly you’re right here in my face? Just by coincidence? Admit it, you came here to expose my presence to our father!
    Elan: I didn’t even know our father was – Wait, how did you know we were in the middle of – WHOA!
    <sfx> SLASH! WHONK!
    Elan: Hey! Anyone in there being unjustly imprisoned who might want to help a bard out?
    Amun-Zora: YOU!!
    Elan: Uh oh.
    Amun-Zora: I mgiht have avenged my husband if you hadn’t stoof between me and your vile father!
    Elan: OK, yes, but there was a lot I didn’t know when–
    Nale: Dead end, Elan. I’m sure Dad will give you a very impressive funeral procession through the–
    Amun-Zora: I am going to kill you, you blond bastard! Die, son of Tarquin, die!
    Nale: Get off of me, lady!
    <sfx> clang! clang!
    Elan: Wow, this whole “identical twin” thing has never worked in my favor before!

    Spoiler: Strip 802
    Took a Level in Sauceror
    Zz’dtri, Vaarsuvius, Dressing Elemental

    <sfx> WHONK!
    Zz’dtri: Nnnh! …Cheater.
    Vaarsuvius: Oh heavens! I cannot believe I violated the detailed rules and regulations we agreed upon before beginning this contest. We must consult the referee for an appropriate penalty regarding my heinous transgression.
    Zz’dtri: Kobold beat me. Not you.
    Vaarsuvius: Believe what you wish for the last few seconds of your life.
    <sfx> click. click.
    Zz’dtri: Plane Shift!
    <sfx> WHUMP!
    <sfx> GLOOP! GLOOP!
    Vaarsuvius: Unnnh!
    Dressing Elemental: Hello, solid ones! What brings you to the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing?
    Vaarsuvius: I was simply wondering if you could undercut the dignity of my legitimate victory for me.
    Dressing Elemental: Does that involve dipping broccoli in anything.
    Vaarsuvius: Today? Yes.

    Spoiler: Strip 803
    Saved by the Belt
    Blackwing, Qarr, Thog

    Blackwing: VAARSUVIUS! Where did –?
    Qarr: Somewhere safe, I promise. I gave Zz’dtri the planar coordinates myself. (He thinks it’s the Demiplane of Extremely Painful Torture, but still.) At any rate, I’ll have to deal with you later, raven. I need to go report in.
    <sfx> pop!
    Blackwing: OK, Blackwing, you can do this. You can’t help Vaarsuvius, but there’s nothing stopping you from assisting the rest fo the Order of the Stick. You just need to grab the Belf of Giant Strength – or maybe a shiny stone. They’re so glittery…So…glittery…
    <sfx> WHUMPH!
    Blackwing: No! No, I have to focus! I need to get this magic belt to where it can do some good!
    <sfx> CRUNCH!
    <sfx> POW! WHUMPH!
    Blackwing: You know, I think I’m really getting the hang of being a part of this team! I should probably go back and get a shiny before they’re all gone.

    Spoiler: Strip 804
    Where Her Loyalties Lie
    Qarr, Sabine, Nale, Amun-Zora

    Qarr: Hey.
    Sabine: What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at the arena, handling the wizard.
    Qarr: Wizard’s out, but so are Z and the kobold. V trounced them.
    Sabine: What? I thought you told Z all of the elf’s deepest psychological weakpoints so he couldn’t lose.
    Qarr: I did, but that idiot drow doesn’t talk enough to rub them in the right way!
    Sabine: Geez, and Elan has us chasing him all over the darn palace…this is turning into a disaster.
    Qarr: I told you attacking was a stupid, unproductive idea! We should cut and run while we still can.
    Sabine: Hey, it was Nale’s idea to jump them, so we did. He’s the boss here.
    Qarr: But he listens to you. You could have talked him out of it.
    Sabine: That’s not the way our relationship works.
    Qarr: Uh huh. Just remember your pre-existing relationship to the three gentlemen downstairs.
    Sabine: I’ve never forgotten it. You don’t know what my orders are, Qarr. I’m doing my job in my own way. Concentrate on doing yours.
    Qarr: Whatever, Sabine. All I know is that the last bad girl I met that chose that stupid mortal face over her master – Let’s just say it didn’t end well for her.
    Sabine: Go to Hell, imp.
    Qarr: Was just headed there now. I’ll give your love to the Directors.
    <sfx> pop!
    Nale: Wait, so you hate Elan AND my dad, too?
    Amun-Zora: I’ve sworn to see Tarquin’s blood on my sword.
    Nale: I don’t suppose you’d be interested in joining the Linear Guild, would you?
    Amun-Zora: Hmmmm. While I will surely need allies in my vendetta, I think I must contact my homeland as soon as possible.
    Nale: Sure, sure. No rush. Here, take my card. Send to me if you change your mind.
    <sfx> pop!
    Sabine: Who’s that? Can I kill her? I’m in the mood to kill something.
    Nale: No; the more people out there who want my father dead, the beter. Come on, babe, Elan ran this way. If we can catch him, we can turn this thing around.
    Sabine: Right behind you, honey. All the way.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-02-09 at 08:54 AM.
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  9. - Top - End - #189
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 805 to 825
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 805
    Dropping In
    Nale, Elan, Sabine, Mr. Jones, Durkon, Mr. Rodriguez, Flump 1, Flump 2

    Nale: Come out from wherever you’re hiding, Elan. I know you ran in here, and even your limited ability to comprehend your environment must have realized by now that this is a dead end. Literally, in this–
    Elan: Celestial tree sloth attack!!
    Sabine: Ahhhh! It’s hanging on me! Get it off! Get it off!!
    Nale: He’s getting away! Ignore it, it’s just an illusion.
    Sabine: How do you know?
    Nale: You mean besides the phrase, “Celestial tree sloth attack?”
    Elan: Aww, man! It’s like this whole place is made out of ledges!
    Nale: Well, Elan, it seems as if you’ve come to the edge of–
    <sfx> WOOSH!!
    Nale: HEY! I was in the middle of a great villainous quip there! You never respect my process.
    Sabine: I’m tired of you making things complicated for me, Elan. Just die already.
    <sfx> WHAM!
    Elan: Doesn’t – *urk!* Doesn’t Nale want to kill me himself?
    Sabine: I know lots of tricks that’ll help him get over it. Maybe we’ll do some fo them on top of your corpse.
    Elan: *Unnnk!* Haley!!
    <sfx> bink!
    Mr. Jones: So, you’re not having legal problems of any kind?
    Durkon: Nay, lads, I were just workin’ out tha last few details o’ spell research.
    (D): No, lads, I was just working out the last few details of spell research.
    Mr. Rodriguez: Huh. I wonder why we’re in this scene if we’re not needed to –
    Flumph 1: But I don’t know the first thing about being a lawyer!
    Flumph 2: Just move to adjourn before anyone catches on.

    Spoiler: Strip 806
    Holy Enunciation
    Durkon, Mr. Jones, Mr. Rodriguez, Sabine, Elan, Nale, Angel 1, Angel 2, Thor

    Durkon: Haley??? Wha – Whar’d ye come from, lass? An’ why’re ye stone??
    (D): Haley??? What – Where’d you come from? And why are you stone??
    Mr. Jones: Come on, we’re filing charges of battery.
    Mr. Rodriguez: Yeah, double-A batteries, like in my travel alarm!
    Mr. Jones: Not that kind of battery.
    Mr. Rodriguez: Triple-A then?
    Durkon: Och! Thor’s aching bunions! Tha’s Elan up thar, wit Sabine?!? Holy Smite!
    (D): Oh! Thor’s aching bunions! That’s Elan up there, with Sabine?!? Holy Smite!
    Sabine: Ahhhhh!
    Elan: Durkon, I found you! Hooray! …Uh oh.
    Durkon: Och, witout tha succubus ta hold ‘im up, tha lad’s fallin’ fast. Looks like I’ll haf ta use tha old “Cleric’s Feather Fall.”
    (D): Oh, without the succubus to hold him up, the boy’s falling fast. Looks like I’ll have to use the old “Cleric’s Feather Fall.”
    <sfx> WHAM!!
    Durkon: Heal.
    Elan: Durkon, the Linear Guild is attacking! Sabine and Nale are chasing me, Roy’s dueling Thog in the arena, and Zz’dtri turned haley to stone and is now fighting V!
    Durkon: Huh, I dinnae expect ta see tha drow come back.
    (D): Huh, I didn’t expect to see the drow come back.
    Elan: I know, right?!?
    Nale: Fly me down to close range, honey. Let’s finish this.
    Sabine: Nale, we can’t fight a cleric without a spellcaster.
    Nale: I am a spellcaster, remember? At least enough of one for our purposes. Enervation!
    <sfx> Zzzrrrrrkt!
    Elan: Oh man! Now we’ve BOTH been level drained.
    Durkon: Och, tha just sucked away some o’ me best combat spells! I was gonna say a Holy Word next!
    (D): Oh, that just sucked away some of my best combat spells! I was gonna say a Holy Word next!
    Elan: What, like "ditch" or "trench?" Or "bagel?"
    Durkon: Good thing tha spell I’ve been makin’ be exactly wha we need ta protect us both. Mass Death Ward! Och, come ON! Wha be it NOW??
    (D): Good thing the spell I’ve been making is exactly what we need to protect us both. Mass Death Ward!
    <sfx> fizzle!
    Durkon: Och, come ON! Wha be it NOW??
    (D): Oh, come ON! What is it NOW??
    Thor's Archon 1: I don’t recognize that spell. Did he just ask for a Mast Depth Word?
    Thor's Archon 2: I thought he wanted a Massive Death-Worg.
    Thor: Just send a Masked Debt Gourd and be done with it. I need to go soak my feet.

    Spoiler: Strip 807
    Wild Empathy
    Belkar, Mr. Scruffy, Roy

    Belkar: Helllooo? Linear Guild? Come on, where my evil opposites at? I’m fully expecting an ugly boot-shot diplomat for me and a clean-shaven half-giant agnostic for Durkon. Mr. Scruffy! There you are, you commoner-killin’ machine! How’s my favorite – What the HELL?? Is that a crossbow bolt??
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow?
    Belkar: Hey! Whoever did this, I’m going to rip out your – I mean, I am going to shove my – and cut off your…How the HELL am I supposed to make myself feel better if there’s no one to hurt?!?
    Mr. Scruffy: Mrrow?
    Belkar: Huh? Oh, right…I guess I should pull that out, right? I can do that. And check it out, I think this is Haley’s stuff. She won’t mind if I take a healing potion. And screw the greedy bitch if she does, and I right?
    Mr. Scruffy: lap lap lap lap
    Roy: …It’s like watching someone duel their own puppy.
    <end flashback>
    Belkar: Stupid cat. A ranger is supposed to influence an animal’s behavior. You’re doing it backwards!
    Mr. Scruffy: purrrrrrrr.

    Spoiler: Strip 808
    Five Rows Down, Three Columns Over
    Spectator, Roy, Thog

    <sfx> WHUMP!
    Spectator: Wow, this is the best fight of the season!
    Roy: Oh, well, as long as you’re enjoying it, I guess it’s all worth while. HEY! What are you slack-jawed morons doing sitting around?? He’s coming! Get out of here or you’ll get hurt! Go! Run away! Get everyone out of this section! I’m a big scary gladiator with permissive ideas about individual rights! BOO! Save – yourself.
    <sfx> CRACCK!!! WUNK!
    Roy: Hey! Thog! I hate puppies! I think they’re dumb!
    Thog: RRAAARRGH!!
    Roy: I like stealing their food! And making them feel bad about themselves! And I think…your broken tooth…Nnh!…makes you look like a girl!
    Thog: THOG HATE YOU, TALKY MAN! THOG HATE YOU! THOG – hate – thog hate…? what was thog saying? thog confused. where is thog–
    <sfx> WHOMP! KRRACK!!
    Roy: Stop talking.
    <sfx> plink!
    Roy: *huff* *huff* *huff* *huff* Cross-class…skill ranks in…*huff* Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering)…THAT’S how I use my Intelligence score in combat, DUMBASS!!

    Spoiler: Strip 809
    Except Maybe the Undead
    Roy, Belkar, Blackwing, Tarquin, Soldier 1, Soldier 2, Soldier 3

    Roy: Hey.
    Belkar: Hey. Your stuff’s in the pile. So, I can’t help but notice we’re fresh out of Linear Guild stooges to whomp on.
    Roy: Yeah, I don’t really know what’s going on. I saw V battling that dark elf in the sky earlier, but he was just being dragged off in chains. So I fully expected to get out here and see the whole gang posing victoriously while Nale and Co. were tied up again. I guess the question is, where is Vaarsuvius now if not out here?
    Blackwing: Banished to another plane. Also, Elan took Haley to the palace to warn Durkon.
    Belkar: Who said that??
    Roy: That bird. I think it’s the one that’s been on V’s shoulder these past two weeks.
    Belkar: It can talk?!?
    Roy: No, probably not. I think it’s some sort of magical message that was triggered when I asked where V was, like a Magic Mouth spell. Those were V’s words, just coming out of the bird’s beak.
    Blackwing: You are both ignorant cretins.
    Roy: See?
    Belkar: Yeah, I guess you’re right. So, where are we headed now, anyway?
    Roy: The palace, I guess. Whatever Nale’s half-baked plans are, we need to make sure they don’t interfere with our own half-baked plans. Now come on, we need to get Haley’s dad and uncle and slip out of here before they realize that I’m not under that rubble. The last thing I want is to be spotted by – him. Crap.
    Tarquin: Surely, you didn’t think you would be able to just walk out of here after wrecking my arena – at least, not before I got the chance to tell you how totally badass that fight was!
    Soldier 1: Fight of the year, no question!
    Soldier 2: Someone, get this man a healing potion!
    Soldier 3: Can I have your autograph?
    Belkar: Oh, come on! He only won because he didn’t die first! Anyone can do that!

    Spoiler: Strip 810
    The Kind That Makes Friends Easily
    Durkon, Sabine, Nale, Elan

    Durkon: Thor’s Lightning!
    (D): Thor’s Lightning!
    Sabine: Double evasion! HA!!
    Nale: Quickly Sabine – grapple him before he casts again!
    Elan: Suck a bus, Sabine!
    <sfx> poke!
    Elan: Stupid rapier, why aren’t you cold iron? Or cool iron? Or at least tepid iron!!
    Nale: Well, I honestly didn’t think this ambush was going to bear fruit, since I pretty much threw it together at the last moment.
    <sfx> poke! poke!
    Nale: But here we are. My brother, drained and important. The girl, petrified. The cleric, captured and – smiling? Why are you smiling? The Linear Guild has finally triumphed!
    Durkon: ‘Cause I know somethin’ ye dinnae know: Why I were waitin’ out ‘ere on tha balcony inna first place.
    (D) Because I know something you didn’t know: Why I was waiting out here on the balcony in the first place.
    Nale: Oh please. Do you think I don’t know exactly what you’re trying to pull here? You expect me to ask why you were waiting – so you can give me a cryptic but ominous-sounding pronouncement before something turns the tables. Well it’s not going to happen.
    Durkon: Suit yerself.
    (D): Suit yourself.
    Nale: You can take that to your grave.
    Durkon: Aye, suppose I will.
    (D): Yes, I suppose I will.
    Nale: Thought since I obviously expect that something is about to happen, I’m in a far better position to counter it. Indeed, it would be tactically better to flush out whatever plan you have now, when I’m prepared. So…?
    Durkon: I’m on tha balcony ‘cause it be tea time.
    (D): I’m on the balcony because it’s tea time.
    Nale: What? “tea time?” What does that even mean? And what kind of a lame dwarf drinks–
    <sfx> keeyssh!
    Sabine: *gasp!* NALE!
    Nale: –tea?

    Spoiler: Strip 811
    A Touch of Death
    Nale, Malack, Sabine, Elan

    Nale: Malack. How’s the family?
    Malack: HARM.
    Nale: AAARRRGHHH! Unnnh…I’m still…alive.
    Malack: I’m not finished. Quickened Inflict Moderate Wounds.
    Nale: Crap!
    <sfx> wooosh!
    Sabine: Naley! Are you OK?
    Nale: No! No, I am not OK!
    Nale: Two clerics is one too many, especially when that one is Malack. Bail out and meet me at base.
    Sabine: Nale, I’m not leaving you to –
    Nale: Just do it, Sabine! I’m right behind you.
    Elan: No way, Nale! I’m not letting you just waltz out of here! I’m also not letting you tango, pirouette, or foxtrot out of here, either!
    <sfx> POP!
    Nale: Next time, Daddy’s pet iguana won’t be around to save you. Dimension Door.
    Elan & Malack: NO!
    <sfx> POP!

    Spoiler: Strip 812
    And Yet, the Canned Meat Merchant Still Gets Through
    Elan, Malack, Soldier 1, Soldier 2, Durkon, Trevon

    Elan: I can’t believe he got away!
    Malack: No. The range of that spell is limited, he could not have gone far. GUARDS!! Search the palace and the construction site for Tarquin’s other son. The one with the beard. He’s dressed in black and should be trailing blood as he goes.
    Soldier 1: Understood.
    Malack: Also, he is attempting to rendezvous with his demoness accomplice, so initiate Infiltration Protocol for the palace grounds.
    Soldier 2: Yes, Minister Malack.
    Malack: I will search on my own as well, after I retrieve my staff and a few scrolls from the chapel. You are welcome to join me, should you desire to witness his end.
    Elan: I think we need to restore Haley first. I don’t want Sabine to pop back around and smash her.
    Malack: A wise precaution.
    Elan: So I guess we’ll catch up when we’re all fixed up. Thanks for all your help!
    Malack: I did not do it for you, human. I intend to see justice done for the murder of my offspring. Just to be clear, that WAS Nale, correct? You are not an identical triplet, quadruplet, or quintuplet, are you?
    Elan: I don’t think so, but I guess there could be a True Neutral brother out there named Lean or Anel or something.
    Durkon: Yer timin’ were most impeccable, Minister. Shame aboot tha teapot, tho.
    (D): Your timing was most impeccable, Minister. Shame about the teapot, though.
    Malack: I am glad I could be of assistance to you, Brother.
    Elan: Heh heh. “Anel”.
    Durkon: If’n ye dinnae mind me askin’, wha ‘xactly be this “Infiltration Protocol” ye just mentioned?
    (D): If you don’t mind me asking, what exactly is this “Infiltration Protocol” you just mentioned?
    Malack: An emergency procedure Tarquin invented in the event of a suspected shapeshifter.
    Soldier 2: HALT! Who goes there?
    Trevon: It’s me, Trevon.
    Soldier 2: What is the password?
    Trevon: ze#r5raS7a.
    Soldier 2: Are you a human? Yes/No?
    Trevon: Yes.
    Soldier 2. Now write what you see.

    Spoiler: Strip 813
    Pardon Me
    Tarquin, Roy, Belkar, Kilkil

    Tarquin: Defeating a superior combatant with nothing but your wits and environment…it’s like something I’d have done when I was your level. Except for the part where you scared away the spectators. Stylistic differences, I suppose. I was right about you: you’re too valuable to waste battling criminals to the death. We’ll tell the audience that both you and the half-orc were killed in the collapse, and start fresh with a new champ.
    Roy: Was he? Thog, I mean; is he dead?
    Tarquin: We won’t know until we dig him out, I’m afraid.
    Roy: Oh.
    Tarquin: I’d like you to come work for me as a special operative. I have some long-term plans in motion, and sometimes they need a little nudge here and there from someone with your talents.
    Roy: Thanks, but I’m not really interested in that sort of work.
    Tarquin: I’ll make you a deal: Come back to my palace and talk it over with Humanoid Resources, and I’ll grant you amnesty for whatever crime landed you here. I’ll even expunge the record for you. Don’t like what you hear? Walk away – no strings. Though I am confident we can make you an offer within your range.
    Roy: For the halfling too? Amnesty, in writing?
    Tarquin: Sure, sure. Everyone needs a sidekick.
    Belkar: Yeah, I got your kick in the side right here.
    Roy: And for the two old men I met in prison.
    Tarquin: Now wait a minute. I’m to going to throw open the gates of my jail and–
    Roy: I gave my word that when I walked out of here, I was taking them with me. If they stay, I stay.
    Tarquin: Hmmmph. Well, I certainly appreciate a man who stands by his word. Very well, we have a deal. Give your information and the other two names to the flying kobold.
    KilKil: So, what originally brought you two to the Empire?
    Roy: Oh, you know, the usual reasons.
    KilKil: Which are?
    Roy: Uh…sightseeing, mostly?
    KilKil: Really? We’re not known for our tourism. What sights–exactly–did you come to see?
    Roy: Um–well–there was, uh–
    Belkar: He’s just pulling your leg. We’re wanted in several other nations for racketeering, jury tampering, and interfering with a mail carrier. This seemed like a good place to hole up.
    Kilkil: Ah, well, that makes a lot more sense. You might be interested in our Qualified Fugitive Assistance Program, then.
    Roy: <whispering> Thanks for the cover story.
    Belkar: <whispering> “cover story?” Spoken like a man who’s never had to flee a jurisdiction in his life. Hand me that pamphlet, would you?

    Spoiler: Strip 814
    The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
    Tarquin, Roy, Kilkil, Ian, Belkar

    Tarquin: Gentlemen, welcome to the Brontosaurus Express! Beats walking back to town, huh?
    Roy: Isn’t a “brontosaurus” really just an Apatosaurus with the head of a different dinosaur?
    Tarquin: And a hippogriff is really just a horse with the head and wings of a bird, but I’ve still got eight squadrons mounted on the damn things.
    Roy: Hmm, Fair enough.
    KilKil: General, here are the two prisoners that are being released.
    Ian: Tarquin, you venomous snake in the sand! I should have known you’d–
    Roy: <whispering> Calm down! You’re going to ruin everything! Look, you said they always manage to catch you somehow. Well, I got us an official pardon, so now they won’t be looking for you at all. But ONLY if you play it cool.
    Tarquin: Huh. You know, you do look oddly familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?
    Ian: Maybe you saw me in the arena, General. I did a lot of dodging there when I was first jailed. Oh, I know! Maybe you looked down and saw me when you were riding roughshod over my civil rights!
    Tarquin: Perhaps. Or maybe I remember you from when you were biting the hand that was feeding you.
    Ian: Or maybe you saw me when I was throwing off the yoke of tyranny.
    Tarquin: Or were you in the crowd cheering when I forged order and stability out of anarchy.
    Roy: Your definition of “playing it cool” substantially differs from mine.
    Ian: Anarchy?? Try “freedom!”
    Tarquin: Same concept.
    Ian: This land doesn’t need your kind of stability!
    Tarquin: Everyone needs my kind of stability.
    Ian: You fascist –
    Roy: OK, well. I’m sure the General would rather not be subjected to your troglodytic stench, so let’s just –
    Tarquin: No…no, now I’m positive I know that man. Kilkil, let me see the prison files on this–
    <sfx> WHUMP!
    Belkar: Whoopsie daisy! Physical comedy! HA! What else would you expect from a bumbling sidekick?

    Spoiler: Strip 815
    Close Call
    Tarquin, Kilkil, Roy, Belkar, Ian, Geoff, Durkon, Haley, Elan

    Tarquin: Kilkil, we’re almost to the palace. Fly ahead and gather your main files on these men.
    KilKil: Yes, general.
    Tarquin: As for you two– …Where did they go?
    Roy: Who?
    Tarquin: The men you asked me to release!
    Roy: Beats me. They were just here a moment ago.
    Belkar: What men? I didn’t see a thing.
    Ian: Heh heh, the old “Batman Exit” oughta leave an impression on the bastard…
    Geoff: Uh…we should probably head to Ivy’s house.
    Ian: No, they’ll be looking for us there.
    Geoff: No one will be looking for us, Ian! We have signed amnesty papers!
    Ian: And if you think that’s good for anything but wiping your ass, you don’t understand Tarquin at all. Now quit whining and try to keep up – I know a place.
    Durkon: Break Enchantment! Thar ye go, lass.
    (D): Break Enchantment! There you go.
    Haley: –now.
    Elan: Haley! You’re safe! Hooray!
    Haley: But…what happened with the Linear Guild? And why are we at the palace? Wait – is this one of those times when you’ll fill me in later?
    Elan: It’s better to use exposition to cover stuff no one saw. Like those Restoration spells Durkon cast on him and me.
    Tarquin: Elan! Are you safe? The guards told me about Nale when our dinosaur docked.
    Elan: See? That probably saved three panels right there.
    Tarquin: Don’t worry, Elan. My men will find him. What makes me curious, though, is why he would risk attacking you right under my nose.
    Elan: I don’t know either, Dad. Though he did say something about throwing it together at the last minute. In fact, he accused me of coming here just to fight him!
    Tarquin: Huh…
    Roy: Is it possible that this man came here independently, because he was looking for someone? Someone that you might also be looking for?
    Haley: *gasp!* Elan! That gladiator I’ve never met before is right! What if Nale knows that your dad knows Girard??
    Elan: Oh man! Dad, we can’t let Nale find him before we do! I know we still owe you one more night, but –
    Tarquin: I understand. If it will help you thwart whatever Nale is planning, I’ll happily tell you everything I know about that Draketooth. The first thing you need to know is–
    Elan: Dad, WAIT! Don’t you want to take a dramatic pause first?
    Tarquin: Ha! Good catch, son. I almost launched right into it there. What was I thinking?

    Spoiler: Strip 816
    General Knowledge
    Durkon, Haley, Tarquin, Elan, Adventurer

    Durkon: <whispering> Discern Lies
    Haley: <whispering> Sense motive.
    Durkon: <whispering> Ye dinnae need ta say tha aloud.
    (D): You don’t need to say that aloud.
    Haley: <whispering> Couldn’t hurt
    Tarquin: The first thing you need to know is that I never met the man personally, but I did hear quite a bit about him from my recently departed ninth wife.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> When Penelope was young – fifteen years ago, before we met – she fell in love with a man. A street illusionist by trade, red haired and with a very distinctive facial tattoo. After a whirlwind courtship, they married and she gave birth to a baby girl. One morning, shortly after the baby was weaned, Penelope awoke to fine both her husband and their daughter gone – and her family’s considerable coffers emptied. She spent years searching for her daughter, but was never successful. Even divinations could not reveal her location, though they were able to tell her that the name she knew was, in fact, an alias…and his real name was–
    <end flashback>
    Elan: Girard Draketooth!
    Tarquin: Orrin Draketooth. I never said I knew anything about anyone named “Girard,” just “Draketooth.”
    Elan: Aww, man! All this trouble and it turns out it was the wrong guy this whole time?
    Haley: No, Elan– it makes sense. General, I need to confer with Elan privately for a moment. And Brother Thundershield–I may need spiritual guidance. We already suspected Girard had an organization, but he’s ultra-paranoid–just like my dad. So if it was my dad guarding the Gate, who would be the only people he would trust?
    Elan: …His family!
    Haley: Exactly! Orrin must be his son or grandson, sent out to sire another generation to keep the clan going.
    Elan: Dad – would Nale have known the story? From before he ever left?
    Tarquin: Oh, certainly. Get a few drinks in his stepmother, and she wouldn’t shut up about it.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Tragically, she had even hinted to me a few weeks ago that a new friend had helped her uncover a lead that Draketooth might be holed up in Windy Canyon. She was planning on hiring adventurers to follow up when she unexpectedly passed.
    <end flashback>
    Haley: Ten gold says that the “new friend” was really Sabine in disguise.
    Durkon: Och, no bet.
    (D): Oh, no bet.
    Elan: Nale probably spent months helping her find the Draketooths, then he must’ve killed her so she wouldn’t spill any more details. *Gasp!* Haley! Nale is probably on his way there right now!!
    Haley: Yeah, but don’t stress, babe. I’m sure Girard can crush him and Sabine easily.
    Elan: I’m not worried about Nale fighting him, I’m worried about Nale talking to him!!
    Durkon: Och, lass…lad’s got a point. Nale can be awful tricky.
    (D): Oh…he’s got a point. Nale can be awful tricky.
    Haley: Yeah, OK, but even we managed to use Discern Lies, and they’ve probably got their act together a lot more than we do.
    Elan: He doesn’t need to lie at all! All he has to do is tell Girard that we’re friends with the sapphire Guard – which is totally true! – and then Girard will never ever trust us!
    Haley: Elan, you’re…absolutely right. We need to make contact with Girard – or Orrin, or whomever – before Nale does.
    Elan: Dad! I’m sorry to have to run away like this, but Haley and I need to go beat Nale to the Windy Canyon!
    Tarquin: Think nothing of it, Elan. We’ve all had that one adventure that suddenly turned into a race.
    Adventurer: If Tarquin and his party get their hands on the Lost Treasure of Sdigiji, they’ll have enough money to raise an army of ten thousand men! For the sake of everyone on the continent, we cannot fail!!
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: Spoiler alert: They failed.

    Spoiler: Strip 817
    General Assistance
    Tarquin, Elan, Roy, Belkar, Mr. Scruffy

    Tarquin: Elan, before you go: I’m worried about your safety. Nale can be very dangerous.
    Elan: Don’t worry, Dad. I’ve beaten him twice!
    Tarquin: Precisely. Recurring foes always get stronger with successive appearances. I want to see Nale brought to justice as much as you do. He’s a destabilizing influence who knows too much. And seeing how well you grew up, I can’t help but feel a little responsible for how Nale turned out. Stopping him is as much my duty as yours. Therefore, I’d like to send some personnel along with you. Bodyguards of a sort.
    Elan: Uh, Dad, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.
    Tarquin: No, really, I must insist. I even have specific candidates in mind.
    Elan: Who?
    Tarquin: Them.
    Roy: Huh?
    Belkar: Wha?
    Mr. Scruffy: Mrrow?
    Roy: We don’t work for you yet, General.
    Tarquin: Consider this an audition. Accompany my son on his mission to apprehend his brother. If he comes back alive, I’ll give you both permanent positions. How does that sound?
    Belkar: Like you’re getting us to work for free.
    Tarquin: Yes, but think of the exposure.
    Roy: Do I have the option of refusing at that time, if I dislike the terms?
    Tarquin: I suppose, but I’m–
    Roy: Then I accept.
    Tarquin: Good! Keep in mind that if any lasting harm comes to my son while he is under your protection, I will hold you – and your family members – personally responsible.
    Roy: I take all of my responsibilities personally, thanks. Do you?
    Tarquin: Ha! Fantastic! Elan, this warrior is going to be guarding you from now on.
    Roy: Uh, hi. Nice to meet you.
    Elan: Hi! I’m Elan! What’s your name, Roy?
    Roy: …Roy.
    Tarquin: Ah, here it comes! Since time is of the essence, I sent for this gift from my personal vault.
    Elan: Whoa…
    Roy: Is that what I think it is??
    Belkar: A hamfisted retread of an overplayed cultural motif?
    Tarquin: This is my fastest flying carpet, Elan. You’ll note both its red color as well as its racing stripes. It should get you to Windy Canyon in two days, if you take turns sleeping while it flies.
    Elan: Dad, I told you I didn’t want any of your evil magic items!
    Tarquin: We didn’t craft this one, though. A friend of mine did steal it, but from a very wealthy man who owned six others.
    Elan: <voiceover> Oh. I guess that’s not as bad then.
    Tarquin: <voiceover> Indeed, I promise he only missed it for a few seconds.
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: At any rate, I’m happy to put at your disposal any or all resources of this kingdom.
    Elan: How do you control it?
    Tarquin: Fear and intimidation, mostly, though a little torture her and there helps. Or did you mean the carpet? Just pull on one of the tassels.

    Spoiler: Strip 818
    Also, the Desert is Dry
    Tarquin, Malack, Elan, Haley, Roy, Durkon, Belkar

    Tarquin: Malack! Good, there you are.
    Malack: I have no time for idle chatter, Tarquin. Your vile spawn is afoot.
    Tarquin: Yes, yes. Which is why my less-vile spawn is leaving to chase him down.
    Malack: Hrrrm. Should you defeat him, save his skull. I will pay handsomely for it to adorn my study.
    Elan: That is, uh, certainly a thing that…someone could do. I guess we’ll be leaving now, then.
    Haley: Elan, aren’t you forgetting Vaarsuvius?
    Elan: Oh! I forgot I was forgetting!
    Roy: I, uh, I heard something about an elf wizard named Vaarsuvius that won a duel with a drow but was banished to another plane in the process.
    Elan: What? Oh no!
    Haley: Where did you hear that?
    Roy: A little bird told me.
    Elan: I hope being separated from you doesn’t make V all crackly-skinned again…
    Haley: Don’t worry, Elan, V will be able to contact us with magic tomorrow, after preparing new spells.
    Durkon: I suppose I oughta be leavin’ town, too. I got lots o’ pilgrimmin’ left ta do.
    (D): I suppose I ought to leave town too. I have lots of pilgrimming left to do.
    Malack: A shame. I enjoyed our conversations very much, and look forward to continuing them someday in the future.
    Durkon: Aye, I hope tha same.
    (D): Yes, I hope the same.
    Elan: Dad, I don’t know what to say. The carpet, and Roy…
    Tarquin: “Thank you” would suffice, or was etiquette too much formality for that mother of yours.
    Elan: No, Dad, I mean–you’re helping us so much, but you’re such a bad guy! And all of these poor people–they–I mean–
    Tarquin: Elan, please. We’ll have time to discuss our civic obligations later, once Nale has been dealt with. Until then, let’s agree to disagree.
    Elan: OK, Dad. I guess.
    Belkar: All aboard the Arabian Cliché Express!
    Haley: Hey, Father Thundershield, we could give you a lift to the town gate if you want.
    Durkon: Och, I dinnae like a carpet tha dinnae know to stay on tha floor.
    (D): Oh, I don’t like a carpet that doesn’t know to stay on the floor.
    Roy: Just get on the damn rug.
    Elan: Bye, Dad! Thank you!
    Malack: You know, I can’t shake the feeling that they’re all secretly working together.
    Tarquin: Gee, you think?

    Spoiler: Strip 819
    [URL=]Parental Insightp/url]
    Tarquin, Malack

    Tarquin: Really, Malack, it’s fairly obvious. They’re a classic team: Fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric, with a jack-of-all-trades bard as the fifth man.
    Malack: And the halfling?
    Tarquin: The foil, I imagine. It’d get terribly dull without a little internal conflict, you know. Frankly, when 4-6 high-level adventurers show up on my doorstep at the same time, I assume they’re a team until disproven.
    Malack: I suppose it makes sense. But…why would they lie?
    Tarquin: Uncertain at this point. But I saw no reason not to help them put the band back together. It is in our own best interest that they succeed.
    Malack: Then you think they will be the ones to catch Nale?
    Tarquin: Nale? No. They have zero chance of catching Nale, simply because there is zero chance that Nale has left the city–or even the palace.
    Malack: What?? Then you know where he is, right now? How?!?
    Tarquin: What it comes down to, old friend, is that I know my son. I know how he thinks. The exact details are irrelevant. For example, I could say that I know because Nale is a cautious planner–and did not take the opportunity to leave the city even after learning whatever it was he learned via my dear departed Penelope. His team was stronger then than it is now, so I might have concluded that he will not depart until he’s recruited replacements. Or perhaps I could say that I know Nale is still here because I know he is an inveterate egomaniac at heart. He could never bear to flee before learning what Elan and I had to say about him after his little ambush–even if it would make no tactical sense to stay here when we are actively seeking him. Or maybe–just maybe–I could say that I know that Nale is not aware of what magic item Penelope gave me for my birthday last year.
    Malack: Your birthday…? You mean…your Ring of True Seeing?

    Spoiler: Strip 820
    Son Catcher
    Nale, Malack, Tarquin

    <sfx> whhht!
    Nale: Dimension– GAARGH!
    <sfx> fizzle!
    Malack: Invisibility Purge! Your doom is now at hand, human!!
    Tarquin: Now, now, Malack. Let’s not be hasty. There’s quite a lot going on here.
    Nale: So you knew I was watching the whole time, but said nothing? Typical. With True Seeing, I suppose you knew about my drow spy from the start, too?
    Tarquin: Of course. Thought I didn’t know he was really working for you until today, if that helps. I naturally assumed that the dark elf hierarchy was scouting me for a possible alliance against their surface kin. Though in retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have sent them all those fruit baskets until I was absolutely certain…Remember, Nale: Who knows that you know is as important as knowing it in the first place.
    Nale: But you look like a fool for being ignorant!
    Tarquin: So what? Better to look the fool than be one.
    Malack: Enough chatter! Let those be your final words to him!
    Tarquin: Yes. I’m sorry, Nale, but I must defer to my colleague’s grief.
    Nale: What??
    Tarquin: I certainly have no interest in seeing my son die, but I cannot, in good conscience, postpone Malack’s revenge.
    Nale: No! Wait! I have information!
    Tarquin: What kind of information?
    Nale: I know about something big – something that could cut a decade or more off your conquest plans!
    Tarquin: Something connected to Orrin Draketooth and the Windy Canyon?
    Nale: …Yes.
    Tarquin: Something important enough that you risked coming back here based on a half-remembered clue your stepmother mentioned while drunk? Something important enough that a hero of Elan’s obvious caliber rushed right out the door at the mere suggestion of its location?
    Nale: Goddamn you, you knew all along, didn’t you?
    Tarquin: Not exactly. But it became clear that there was something going on worth knowing – and that’s reason enough for me to learn it. Now, Nale: Tell me. Tell me what you know.
    Nale: *sigh* Fine. It involves this series of Gates…

    Spoiler: Strip 821
    Raiders of the Lost Plot Arc
    Nale, Tarquin, Malack, Sabine

    Nale: –and I knew as soon as the old king mentioned the name “Draketooth” that it would end up being connected to your stupid wife.
    Tarquin: So when you returned here, you made contact with her.
    Nale: <voiceover> Sabine posed as the new fortune teller in town, and we used Penelope’s connection to Orrin to strengthen Zz’dtri’s divinations. Even then, it took months of casting, over and over, before we were able to eliminate every part of the desert except Windy Canyon.
    <end flashback>
    Tarquin: And then you killed her, to keep her from telling me. You knew I’d figure it out.
    Nale: What? No. We could have narrowed it down even further the next day, if you hadn’t killed her out of spite!
    Malack: Solve that mystery on your own time, Tarquin! Now that we know what he knows, his soul is MINE!
    Nale: There’s a ritual! A special ritual needed to control the Snarl!
    Tarquin: And you know this ritual?
    Nale: No. But I know who does. I’ve worked with them before. You won’t get it from them without my help.
    Tarquin: Well, then it appears we have no choice but to keep you alive for now. Well played.
    Sabine: Nale! What are you doing?? Don’t tell HIM about the you-know-what!
    Nale: I already did, baby. I’m sorry.
    <sfx> pop!
    Tarquin: Sabine! It’s been too long. You’re looking lovely.
    Sabine: That’s a meaningless compliment to a shapechanger, Tarquin.
    Tarquin: Yes, I know.
    Nale: Great, Dad. While you’re drooling on my girlfriend, Elan is getting closer to Girard’s Gate!
    Tarquin: Really, Nale. Did I teach you nothing about stories?
    Nale: Sure, you’re the one who taught me that bards are underpowered.
    Tarquin: They are! With their master of narrative structure, they should be ruling the entire cosmos by now, instead of wasting time singing in taverns. But I digress. The important point is this: In any race for hidden treasure, it is always the protagonists who sweat and bleed and die to overcome the many challenges inherent in finding it – only for the antagonists to seize it from them at the last minute. ...Well?
    Nale: I’m not saying “Dunh dunh DUNH!” for you.
    Tarquin: That is not how I raised you, young man!

    Spoiler: Strip 822
    Line Quality
    Tarquin, Nale, Zz’dtri, Malack, Kilkil

    Tarquin: The flying carpet I gave your brother has a tiny rune stitched on the underside. With the right spell, it should be child’s play to track Elan. The Linear Guild will follow Elan. Once he has control of the Gate. Once he has control of the Gate, they will seize it from him before signaling my forces to secure the area.
    Nale: Yeah, one problem: The Linear Guild is just me and Sabine now.
    Tarquin: Is it, now?
    Sabine: Zz’dtri??
    Nale: Then do we have Thog, too?
    Tarquin: Sorry, no. I don’t work with loose cannons like that. Too erratic. I still haven’t figured out how he managed to flood the palace with lemon pudding that time…
    Nale: Well, we’re not going to get very far against the Order of the Stick without a front-line fighter.
    Tarquin: How fortunate for you, then, that you sprung from the loins of the finest warrior of his generation.
    Nale: YOU?? You’re going to join the Linear Guild??
    Sabine: No way!! This is NALE’S team!
    Tarquin: Of course! I wouldn’t dream of usurping command. If anything, I look forward to seeing how you handle this operation. You’ve managed to impress me, hiding under my nose for months. I’ll just be along for the ride…and the chance to fight that Greenhilt fellow. It’s been a long time since I saw a strategist worth battling, and I’m eager to get my hands dirty for a change. I may even get my axe out of storage for this occasion. Which just leaves us needing a divine spellcaster.
    Malack: NO. No, I will not work with that villain. He murdered my –
    Tarquin: Stop it. Your kids are gone: have been for years. Man up. I’m tired of hearing about it. This is business, Malack. Business.
    Malack: …I alone shall handle the dwarf. He deserves that honor, regardless of his minor deception.
    Tarquin: Fine, fine. I have no problem with that. There! Now how’s that for a new Linear Guild, son?
    Nale: I don’t know…it seems pretty strong, but something’s…missing.
    KilKil: General, I have the file you asked for on that prisoner. His name is– …Why are you all looking at me like that.

    Spoiler: Strip 823
    Yes, It Is

    Hobgoblin: HEY! Is this it?

    Spoiler: Strip 824
    Losers Weepers
    Hobgoblin Cleric, Hobgoblin 1, Hobgoblin 2, Peregrine Commander, Niu, Peregrine Lieutenant, Thanh

    Hobgoblin Cleric: We need to head right to the Tower and hand this over to Prime Minister Jirix immediately.
    Hobgoblin 1: Anyone have any idea what this doodad is supposed to do that’s so important?
    Hobgoblin 2: Beats me, but I’m pretty sure our whole unit is in for a reward for finding it.
    Hobgoblin 1: Does he mean an actual reward, or an ironic “final reward” reward?
    Hobgoblin Cleric: A real one, definitely. Not like what happened with Shelby.
    Hobgoblin 1: OK, good. It was bad enough wading around in raw sewage for this stupid thing, but I really don’t want to end up dead because of–
    <sfx> THUNK!
    Peregrine Commander: ATTACK!
    Hobgoblin Cleric: The Resistance??
    Hobgoblin 2: I thought they were called the Azure City Underground.
    Hobgoblin Cleric: How could they have found out about this so soon?
    Niu: I’ve got it! I’ve got it!
    Peregrine Lieutenant: All enemy combatants killed, Commander.
    Peregrine Commander: Good. They won’t be able to report back who stole the lich’s phylactery. WITHDRAW!
    Niu: Ha! As easy as taking candy from a baby!
    Thanh: Excuse me?
    Niu: Fine, fine. It’s as easy as taking Apocalypse Candy from a doombaby.
    Thanh: Ha ha! Yes, it was!
    Niu: Sacred stick in the holy mud.

    Spoiler: Strip 825
    Good Thing He’s Already Partial to Red
    Niu, Resistance Member 1, Thanh, Peregrine Commander, Peregrine Lieutenant, Redcloak

    Niu: Score one for the Resistance! Woooooo!
    Resistance Member 1: Don’t start celebrating just yet, Niu. This little trinket isn’t going to fix everything.
    Thanh: Yes. This is an important victory, but it does not free our homeland.
    Peregrine Commander: We’re just lucky we got such a quick intel from our spy in the goblins’ Tower.
    Thanh: Yes…with that, I must agree.
    Thanh: <voiceover> I thought polymorphing your rogue into a hobgoblin wouldn’t work, but we could not have succeeded without his tip-off.
    <end flashback>
    Thanh: Commander, as soon as we reach the caves, I want your team wizard to take the amulet and teleport back to Elven Lands…
    Peregrine Commander: Agreed. Our mages are better equipped to crack whatever protective spells have been cast on it. Lieutenant, you should follow up with our spy as soon as you can. Maybe they can assassinate whoever else knows that they found anything.
    Peregrine Lieutenant: Understood.
    Peregrine Commander: With luck, the hobbos won’t even know to stop looking for the damned–
    Redcloak: Normally, this sort of display is more my colleague’s bailiwick…
    Peregrine Lieutenant: COMMANDER!
    Redcloak: …but your choice in décor forced me to summon my own interior decorators. By which I mean they will be decorating mostly with your interiors.
    <elemental text> 76. Os. 190.23

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 08:49 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #190
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 826 to 843
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 826
    Minimal Resistance
    Resistance Member 2, Peregrine Commander, Thanh, Peregrine Cleric, Redcloak, Polymorphed Goblin, Resistance Member 1

    Resistance Member 2: Redcloak?? HERE?!?
    Peregrine Commander: ATTACK!
    Thanh: No, retreat! Before they cut us off with–
    Peregrine Cleric: Dismiss–
    <sfx> pop! SCHRRTCH! fizzle!
    <sfx> fft! deflect!
    Peregrine Commander: You will be repaid for each elf slain with the bite of my steel, goblin!!
    Redcloak: If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to try not to waste my breath trading threats with a dead man. Damn it, I just did it right there, didn’t I? Screw it. Implosion.
    Peregrine Commander: Wha– what’s–
    Redcloak: Nothing quite like the feel of a new spell level. Now, I believe one of you is holding on to some fine jewelry that belongs to me.
    Thanh: You need to get that cursed thing away from here! He can’t locate it with magic, so get out and HIDE! We’ll hold them off as long as we can!
    Polymorphed Goblin: This way! I know a secret tunnel!
    Resistance Member 1: I can’t believe this is happening. How did he know that we had it?
    Polymorphed Goblin: Don’t worry, we’re almost at the end.
    Resistance Member 1: Of the tunnel?
    Polymorphed Goblin: No. The end of me having to live like one of you stinking humans. Do you know how many weeks I sat in that prison, waiting for you to “rescue” me?
    Resistance Member 1: *gasp!* Bastard!
    Polymorphed Goblin: What, did you really think you folks had invented the idea of polymorphed spies? Guess this serves as a valuable lesson on books and covers and all that. Or not. I’m probably reading too much into it.

    Spoiler: Strip 827
    Polymorphed Goblin, Redcloak, Thanh, Niu, Devil

    Polymorphed Goblin: Supreme Leader! I have it! I have the phylactery!
    Redcloak: Outstanding. Now go, help wipe out the last few humans.
    Thanh: By the Twelve Gods! Niu, he has the amulet!
    Niu: Then let’s take him out or die trying!
    Thanh: No Niu- you must flee.
    Niu: Huh?
    Thanh: The resistance is dead, the phylactery lost. You need to take this scroll of Sending and run as far away from this mountain as you can. When you're clear, use it to contact Lord Hinjo and tell him-
    Niu: But what about-
    Thanh: Nothing else matters! My life is the toll I gladly pay to get that message to our king. Haley told me to let you handle anything requiring stealth, Niu, and that is exactly that. Do you require it be an order? It is. A direct order. GO!
    Niu: ...You're the bravest man I've ever met.
    Thanh: And you're the slowest women. RUN!! You die first, traitor!
    Spy: Ahhh! Supreme Leader, help me!!
    Redcloak: A paladin? Crap. Now the environmental guys are going to be on my ass for killing you. You know, endangered species protection and all that.
    Thanh: Grrrngh!! Face me yourself, goblin! One on one, like a man, without your summoned toys! Or are the rumors true? Was your eye taken by one of my brothers? Perhaps you are afraid that I will take the other?
    Redcloak: Interesting. Not too long ago that would have been a very effective taunt. But you can thank one of your "brothers" for its futility now. What I have lost in depth perception, I have gained in perspective. Stupid risks are just that: stupid. Crush him.
    <sfx> KKRRRACCK!
    Redcloak: Gentlemen, all in all, a job well done. I think you'll each find a little something extra in each of your payment envelopes as a result.
    Devil: Sweet! I'm gettin' an iPad!
    <sfx> pop! pop! pop! pop!
    Redcloak: I'm sorry I can't raise you, my friend, but the exact details here need to remain between me and my god. Just thank the Dark One that I didn't need to execute you myself. Earthquake. Word of Recall.
    <sfx> rumble... pop!

    Spoiler: Strip 828
    A Study in Viridian
    Redcloak, Booted Wight, Tsukiko

    <sfx> pop! WHUMP!
    Redcloak: *gasp!*
    Booted Wight: Uh oh. Someone is entering.
    Redcloak: What the hell is going on here?
    Tsukiko: Oh, hey. You don’t mind that we let ourselves in, do you? Sorry about the dead hobgoblin, but the old-timer wouldn’t cough up the magic key you gave him to get past your wards.
    Redcloak: Those wards exist because this is my private study, Tsukiko. Get out.
    Tsukiko: Or what? You’ll make me? You so much as touch me, I’ll go slaughter a hundred hobgoblins and tell Xykon I needed their bodies for research. What do you think he’ll say, huh?
    Redcloak: …Fine. Is there some reason you chose to break in to my private room while I was out?
    Tsukiko: Sure. Breaking in while you were here would have been a lot harder.
    Redcloak: Funny. You know what I mean.
    Tsukiko: I’m just doing the same thing we’re all doing these days. I’m looking for something. Something really important. Something I think we both know that you’re hiding.
    Redcloak: Is it the remote control for the Teevo? Because I told the monster in the dark that I don’t have it like 20 times already.
    Tsukiko: Ugh, I know, right? It’s like, hello! Some of us can’t sit around watching Real Housewives of Tarterus all day long!

    Spoiler: Strip 829
    Ritual Behavior
    Tsukiko, Redcloak

    Tsukiko: I think you have more pressing problems than worrying about me going through your stuff. Like how you’re gonna break it to Xykon that your dumb hobgoblins lost his phylactery.
    Redcloak: Oh, that’s easy. I’m going to remind him that suppressing the rebellion was your assignment.
    Tsukiko: Who was the old guy, anyway? Janitor, or something?
    Redcloak: Something.
    Tsukiko: Well, you’ll be happy to know that he did a good job cleaning up in here. I can’t find anything.
    Redcloak: And once again, the thing you are looking for is…?
    Tsukiko: The other half of this. Recognize it?
    Redcloak: …Yes.
    Tsukiko: It’s the arcane ritual you wrote down for Xykon so he can learn it to control the big Snarly thing when the time comes.
    Redcloak: I said I recognized it. Why do you have it.
    Tsukiko: He gave it to me. Said he didn’t understand how it worked and I should figure it out for him. Because I’m smart and beautiful and we have a special bond like that.
    Redcloak: I see. And…did you?
    Tsukiko: Figure it out? Sort of. Enough to know this isn’t the whole thing. There’s a divine half, too.
    Redcloak: So you decided to break in and look for it.
    Tsukiko: Pretty much.
    Redcloak: It’s my pleasure to tell you that it was a waste of time. The divine half of the ritual is up here, safe and sound. The Crimson Mantle imparts it to its wearer’s mind directly, and only then if they are a priest of the Dark One. It’s never been committed to paper.
    Tsukiko: Darn it. That’s a shame. Finding that would really have been the smoking wand.
    Redcloak: OK, well, now that you know you can’t find it, can you leave please?
    Tsukiko: No can do, Reddie. Because this ritual? This big special ritual that’s supposed to control the big mean thing in the middle of the world? I don’t think it does what everyone think it does.
    Redcloak: …What do you mean?
    Tsukiko: See, if the ritual controlled this “Snarl,” it would have lines of Enchantment in it. Or Transmutation, maybe, if it bodily manipulated the thing’s form. But once I realized that I was looking at only part of each effect, I saw that it doesn’t have any of that. It has Conjuration. Which means your big secret is out of the bag – Wrong-Eye.

    Spoiler: Strip 830
    Tidying Up
    Redcloak, Tsukiko, Wight 1, Wight 2, Booted Wight, Wight 3

    Redcloak: What does that prove, exactly? Lots of Conjuration spells grant a form of control. Planar Ally, or Summon –
    Tsukiko: Those are spells from the Calling or Summoning subschools, jerkass. This is strictly a Teleportation subschool effect. And I don’t think it even targets a creature at all! Xykon might not be educated enough to know the difference, but I do. I was expelled from some of the best wizard academies in the South you know. He thinks he’ll be able to control the Snarl and use it to destroy his many enemies, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?
    Redcloak: …
    Tsukiko: Thought so.
    Redcloak: And this information you seem to think you’ve uncovered…what do you intend to do with it?
    Tsukiko: Tell Xykon! Duh! Jirix already contacted him to tell him that the phylactery had been located, so he’s teleporting back any minute. When he does, I’m gonna tell him that you’ve been lying to him! How do you like that, pea-head? And when I do tell him, he’ll fire you and promote me to be his right hand girl. So we’ll have to work together closely…very closely. A lot of late nights, just him and me. And one night, as we’re scribing spells by candlelight, his bony hand will brush against my–
    Redcloak: Not that interrupting that train of thought wouldn’t be enough reason for me to speak – but why exactly do you think I’m going to allow you to just tell him?
    Tsukiko: “Allow”? What’s to allow? You’re gonna “allow” me to tell him because you’re a spineless coward squirming under Xykon’s heel. You’ll back down and let me have my way just like you have every time we’ve butted heads for the last year or so. Because you know you work for Xykon, and Xykon likes me. Now, tell me what the ritual does so I can tell him!
    Redcloak: *sigh* It moves the Gate.
    Tsukiko: Huh?
    Redcloak: The Gate upon which the spell is cast. It shifts it – or rather allows it to be shifted at a later time. To another plane, along with the tear in space around which it has been built. The divine half of the ritual also gives control of what plane the Gate arrives at to my deity, the Dark One, rather than to myself or Xykon. In that way, the Dark One may use the threat of releasing the Snarl on their home plane to blackmail the other gods into a series of concessions that will improve the lives of the goblin race.
    Tsukiko: That…that doesn’t help Xykon at all!!
    Redcloak: Yes, I know. That’s why I’ve kept it from him for more than 30 years.
    Tsukiko: Twelve Gods…I didn’t think…
    Redcloak: You’re right, of course. About me. I have let have your way, time and again, because stopping you would have disrupted the delicate balance between Xykon and myself. But now…right now…not stopping you will upset that balance even more. Seize her.
    Wight 1: OK.
    Wight 2: You’re the boss.
    Tsukiko: What the –? Sweeties, you need to listen to Mommy. You need to let go.
    Booted Wight: We’re sorry, Old Mistress. Master gave us an order.
    Redcloak: She has a ring that protects her from your draining touch, doesn’t she? Take it off and give it to me.
    Tsukiko: GAAAH!! Let go! Your hands hurt Mommy!
    Redcloak: That’s what you’ve never really understood about the undead, Tsukiko. You treat them like they’re people when they’re nothing but bits of skin and bone and dark energy, glued together by magic into the shape of a man.
    Tsukiko: Teleport!
    Redcloak: This room is dimensionally locked.
    Tsukiko: SHOUT!
    Redcloak: Counterspell. So many spells, So few that can be cast while being grappled. See, the undead are tools. Powerful, dangerous tools. From the lowliest zombie to Xykon himself, the undead are just complex weapons that we make and aim at other people. All that differs is how direct or subtle our control of them is. For your beloved wights, one use of my Command Undead ability when I walked in the room was more than up to the task. For our so-called master, more creative strategies are required.
    Tsukiko: You don’t control Xykon! He controls you!
    Redcloak: Like I said: subtle.
    Tsukiko: You bastard! Xykon will destroy you and every one of your filthy hobgoblin friends when he finds out about this.
    Redcloak: Maybe. Would he have reacted any better to the news that I’ve been deceiving him, though? I highly doubt it. Because let’s be clear: If I tolerated your humiliating attempts to undercut my authority before – it was only because killing you would’ve upset the delicate puppet strings upon which “Lord Xykon” unknowingly dances. But if you’re going to stand here and tell me that you’ll expose one of those strings to him? If you’re going to be THAT stupid? There can be only one rational response to that. Hold her until you drain the life from her. Then devour her corpse.
    Booted Wight: You got it, boss.
    Tsukiko: NO!! No! Stop! You don’t have to do this, little ones! He just wants you to think you have to! You can–AAARGH!!–you can fight back! Resist! No! NO!! Don’t you–AAAGH!–Don’t you understand? I love you all! I love you! I love you! Why don’t…you love…me?
    Redcloak: When you’re all done with that, devour each other in the order in which you were created.
    <sfx> crunch crunch crunch crunch
    Wight 3: Sure.
    Booted Wight: No problem.
    Redcloak: Last one left, set yourself on fire. In the fireplace, please.

    Spoiler: Strip 831
    Two of a Kind Beats King High
    Redcloak, Demon Roach 1, Demon Roach 2, Monster in the Darkness, Xykon, Jirix

    <sfx> crunch crunch crunch
    Redcloak: I’m sorry it had to end like this. But at least you brought your handiwork with you. Unseal.
    <sfx> click! creeeak.
    Redcloak: Every detail, every scratch. Exactly as I remembered them. A perfect match. The loss of your craftsmanship diminishes our people, elder. May you be called upon to gild the edges of the Dark One’s own armor. Disintegrate.
    <sfx> zzzzap!
    Redcloak: Greater Obscure Object. Hardening. Superior Resistance. Greater–
    <sfx> CRASH!!
    Demon Roach 1: Lich is in the house, yo!
    Demon Roach 2: Foshizzle!
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh man! I haven’t seen him this mad since the last time I saw him!
    Redcloak: I take it he knows, then?
    Monster in the Darkness: Redcloak, I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.
    Redcloak: You are not me.
    Monster in the Darkness: I wouldn’t go in there if I were me, either. Which I’m pretty sure I am!
    Demon Roach 1: But he’s been wrong before.
    Xykon: Oh, hey, Red-Eye. I was just having a little confab with your #2 here about why he called me back if he was just going to lost my phylactery to a bunch of snot-nosed elves and leftover paladins. But he keeps going on and on about something totally unrelated.
    Jirix: Can’t…breathe…
    Xykon: See? Stop trying to change the subject!

    Spoiler: Strip 832
    Loose Ends
    Redcloak, Xykon, Jirix, Demon Roach, Monster in the Darkness

    Redcloak: Lord Xykon, you can release Jirix now.
    Xykon: Who?
    Redcloak: The blue hobgoblin you have there.
    Xykon: Oh! Why?
    Redcloak: Because I crushed the so-called “resistance” and took back your phylactery.
    Jirix: *GASP!*
    Xykon: You did? Really?
    Redcloak: I did. Really. I also took the liberty of putting it on a new chain as well. And in a handsome faux leather carrying case.
    Demon Roach: Swanky!
    Redcloak: If you look, you can probably see the smoking rubble of their headquarters from here.
    Xykon: Oh yeah, look at that, Heh.
    Jirix: Did you get to kill any paladins?
    Redcloak: One, sort of. It was less satisfying than I remember.
    Xykon: Yeah, that happens when you get older, sometimes.
    Demon Roach: I think they have a pill for that now.
    Xykon: So, uh…good job, then.
    Redcloak: I was the one who lost it, like you said. It was my job to get it back.
    Xykon: Yeah, but I didn’t think you’d actually DO it. I just sort of assumed you’d putz around for like six more months, dragging your feet so you could stay and play Civic Leader.
    Redcloak: Yes, well, you made it clear that at the current exchange rate, that would cost me half an eyeball. At any rate, I’m done with that. That’s Jirix’s job now. My job is to help you capture a Gate and bring the power of the Snarl under our control. I can see now that the best way to help the goblins is to get that done as quickly as possible.
    Xykon: Hmmm. Don’t think this change of heart means I’m letting you grow your eye back.
    Redcloak: It never crossed my mind.
    Xykon: Good! I like you this way. It’s like we have a grumpy pirate on the team.
    Demon Roach 1: Thus began the Legend of Arrrghcloak!
    Xykon: OK, then, let’s cast off, ye evil mateys! Where’s what’s-her-name, the chick with the pigtails?
    Jirix: Tsukiko? She was here when the sewer team reported in…
    Xykon: Anyone seen her since?
    Jirix: No.
    Demon Roach 1: No.
    Demon Roach 2: Nope.
    Monster in the Darkness: No.
    Redcloak: Not since I brutally murdered her ten minutes ago, no. What? Does that count? I guess that counts.

    Spoiler: Strip 833
    Villainy Afoot
    Jirix, Redcloak, Demon Roach 1, Demon Roach 2, Xykon, MitD

    Jirix: WHAT?? But she’s– she was–
    Redcloak: She broke into my personal study while I was out getting the phylactery, looking for something and ranting like a lunatic. So I fed her to her own wights. I didn’t think it was a big deal.
    Demon Roach 1: Guess they were hungry.
    Demon Roach 2: They had theurge for a snack!
    Xykon: You don’t say.
    Redcloak: And she kept waiving around this copy of your half of the Gate Ritual. Seemed excited about it. You don’t know anything about how she got her hands on it, do you?
    Xykon: …No.
    Redcloak: Huh, Weird.
    Jirix: Wait–Tsukiko could cast both arcane and divine spells, right? If she stole Xykon’s ritual…you don’t think she was looking for the divine half in your study? You know, so she could cast the whole thing by herself?
    Xykon: A coup? I didn’t think the little minx had it in her…
    Redcloak: Now that you mention it…she did say something about having finally found a way to force Xykon to love her. In fact, she was very explicit about what she would make him do to her, starting with–
    Xykon: OK, OK! Enough! Take it to the fanfiction sites! If you had to smoke her, you had to smoke her. Hell knows I’ve had occasion to off an uppity minion in my day. Cost of doing business. We travel light, then. You, me, and the thing in the shadows.
    Monster in the Darkness:*sigh*
    Demon Roach 1: What’s your problem?
    Monster in the Darkness: Dunno, I’m just really sad now, thinking about Tsukiko. She just wanted to be loved.
    Demon Roach 1: So what? Who cares?
    Monster in the Darkness: Exactly. That’s why I’m sad.
    Redcloak: To the Windy Canyon, then. Jirix, we’ll contact you when–
    Xykon: Not so fast, Cyclops. We need to make a pit stop on the Astral Plane first.
    Redcloak: Huh? Why?
    Xykon: <voiceover> I built a fortress-tomb-thingie there. Where do you think I’ve been these last few weeks? Now that I’ve got my phylactery back, I’m gonna hide it in there behind an hundred spells and traps and whatever. Not only will no one be able to find it or gain entrance, but it’ll alert me magically if anyone tries. It’s a totally sweet set-up.
    <end flashback>
    Xykon: You didn’t think I was going to let YOU keep carrying it, did you?
    <sfx> snatch!
    Redcloak: No. No, I certainly did not.
    Xykon: Alright then. I’ve got a bunch of scrolls to fire off, and then a list of cleric spells I’m going to need you to prepare and cast on the joint.
    Redcloak: Gate.
    Xykon: When those are done, it’s Desert Ahoy.
    Monster in the Darkness: Really? Can I have a fudge–
    Xykon: DESERT. With ONE “s”.
    Demon Roach 1: Remember to dress warmly!
    Demon Roach 2: We’ll write every day!
    Jirix: We should have no trouble now that the rebels have been eliminated.
    Redcloak: As I was saying before, I’ll contact you when we’ve established control of Girard’s Gate.
    Jirix: Good luck, Supreme Leader.
    Redcloak: To you as well.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oooo! I love the Astral Plane! It’s so silvery and weightless!
    Xykon: When the hell were YOU ever on the Astral Plane?
    Monster in the Darkness: …I don’t remember. Maybe I wasn’t?
    Demon Roach 1: This must be great for you! At last, a chance to really whip this place into shape without all of the…distractions.
    <sfx> SQLLCKQTH!

    Spoiler: Strip 834
    A Seasoned Woodsman
    Elan, Roy, Haley, Belkar

    Elan: How long until Durkon’s back?
    Roy: Tough to say. My dad always said that targeting a Plane Shift spell was like trying to puncture a balloon tied to the back of an epileptic hamster by throwing glitter at it. And from what V’s Sending message said, that plane is particularly unstable. Durkon might have to travel for hours once he’s there just to meet up with Vaarsuvius – And when they shift back here, they may arrive miles away again.
    Elan: But Roy, Nale could be in the canyon right now, looking for Girard and being just generally dastardly!
    Roy: Yeah, and I intend to have a full team when we find him. Or he finds us. I’m stick of fighting the Linear Guild when we’re at some huge tactical disadvantage. For once, I want us to be the ones with the edge. So we’re going to sit here and wait for our spellcasters if it takes all night and all day.
    Haley: If Durkon hasn’t checked in by sunset tomorrow, I can just use the scroll he left to contact him.
    Roy: Go get some sleep or something. I’ll keep watch.
    Elan: I can’t sleep! I’m too worried that Nale will get to Girard before we will!
    Roy: Then play quietly with your puppet or something!
    Elan: Don’t be ridiculous, Roy! You know Banjo is even more worried than I am. It’s OK, I’m sure this flying carpet got us here faster than Sabine can fly.
    Haley: I don’t know why you sent Belkar along, though. I think Durkon is capable of handling any danger.
    Roy: Oh, I didn’t send Belkar along as a bodyguard. I thought his skills might help Durkon locate V faster.
    Haley: His skills?? Roy, Belkar is a terrible tracker!
    Roy: Those are not the skills to which I’m referring.
    Belkar: Hmmm. Buttermilk, with a touch of chives. We’re close.
    Mr. Scruffy: lap lap lap

    Spoiler: Strip 835
    A Dish Best Served Warm, After All
    Durkon, Vaarsuvius, Elemental, Belkar, Mr. Scruffy

    Durkon: So, Vaarsuvius, ye were thar fer two days…did ye haf any excitin’ adventures ‘n tha Semi-Elem’tal Plane o’ Ranch Dressin’?
    (D): So, Vaarsuvius, you were there for two days…did you have any exciting adventures in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing?
    Vaarsuvius: I did not.
    Ranch Elemental: Thank you, One-Who-Tastes-Less-Like-Garlic! You have restored Prince Oozalot to the throne of the Hidden Valley and rescued his true love, Gootrude, from the evil sauce dragon!
    <end flashback>
    Vaarsuvius: You did specify exciting adventures, correct?
    Belkar: Hey, maybe we’ll see that as a bonus story in one of the books!
    Vaarsuvius: Maybe we shall never mention it again.
    Belkar: Yeah, probably that. Do you see the canyon?
    Durkon: Aye, it be thatta way.
    (D): Yes, it’s that way.
    Vaarsuvius: I believe we can reach it in a day, if I cast Overland Flight on the two of you as well.
    Durkon: Good. I dinnae like leavin’ Roy an’ tha others alone wit tha Linear Guild lurkin’ aboot.
    (D): Good. I don’t like leaving Roy and the others alone with the Linear Guild lurking about.
    Vaarsuvius: They are greatly weakened without the dark elf, but I must concur nonetheless.
    Mr. Scruffy: mrrrRRRREOWR! hiss! hiss!
    Belkar: Hey! HEY! Chill out, Scruffinator! What’s gotten into you?
    Vaarsuvius: The reaction is to be expected; the kobold is Nale’s lackey, and was responsible for your feline’s injuries during the recent skirmish.
    Belkar: YOU’RE the one who shot Mr. Scruffy???
    Vaarsuvius: He cannot answer, as I have dominated him most thoroughly. He obeys only my mental commands.
    Belkar: Huh. You know, I sort of have this running joke going where I turn the head of the Linear Guild’s kobold-of-the-day into something wacky. I think it would only be appropriate if I turned this guy into a litter box for Mr. S.
    Vaarsuvius: I understand. I tire of him anyway.
    Durkon: Uh, wait– Aren’t ye gonna, y’know…kill the kobold first?
    (D): Uh, wait– Aren’t you gonna, you know…kill the kobold first?
    Belkar & Vaarsuvius: No.
    Belkar: Wow, dairy just is NOT good for a cat’s digestion, is it?
    Vaarsuvius: His silent screams are a symphony I cannot share.

    Spoiler: Strip 836
    Best Laid Plans
    Roy, Elan, Haley, Belkar

    Roy: OK, Haley’s on watch now. You seem surprisingly deep in thought. In that you are thinking.
    Elan: I know. I still can’t sleep. I’m trying to figure out a way to beat my dad and free all the people and stuff without him seeming like such a badass during the fight that everyone’s like “Who was that badass?” Right now, all I have is “Don’t have awesome climactic duel on steps of palace.”
    Roy: Seems like a good start.
    Elan: Yeah, it’s not bad. I just don’t know what to do about him, Roy. I mean, he’s my father and I’ve always wanted one, but he’s totally evil! So then I’m supposed to defeat him, but he’s totally helpful! And here I am brooding about how confused I am when I suddenly remember that’s exactly what he wants!! I thought it was tough to figure out how to feel about Nale, you know?
    Roy: What’s so tough? He’s a villainous jackass!
    Elan: But he’s still my brother!!
    Roy: I think you’re overemphasizing the importance of biological ties, Elan. Nale has tried to kill you three times!
    Elan: I know that! But sometimes when I was little, I would walk in on my Mom crying about having lost a nail. And now, I don’t think she was upset about missing hardware at all!
    Roy: Elan, I…believe me, I know all about the hole that a family member can leave behind. But I think in your case, maybe it’s better to find that sense of family among people who are good than it is to try to find a sense of good inside your family. Because I have to tell you, your father is a complete–
    Elan: THAT’S IT!!
    Roy: Whoa!
    Elan: I just had a totally awesome idea!
    Roy: For defeating your father?
    Elan: Yes! No! Sort of! Oh man, it’s perfect! I just need Durkon to help me when he gets back.
    Roy: OK, uh, are you going to let me know what it is?
    Elan: Of course not, Roy! Everyone knows that plans only work if you keep them a secret first!
    Roy: What? That’s not true at all!
    Elan: Sure it is! If you talk about them and then they happen exactly that way, there’s no tension!
    Roy: Well, how about our plan to get V back from that other plane? We talked about that, so by your weird bard logic, that won’t work?
    Elan: Oh man! I didn’t think of that! Quick, we need to go find them before–
    Haley: They’re back.
    Elan: OK, yeah, but that was totally boring!!
    Roy: I’ll take dull efficiency over exciting uncertainty any day of the week.
    Belkar: Obviously, your girlfriend feels the same way. Surprise burn!

    Spoiler: Strip 837
    The Name of the Windy
    Elan, Roy, Belkar, Haley, Durkon, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: OK, we’re done with our Super Top Secret Plan for now!
    Roy: Good. Now that we’re together, I want to get inside the canyon as soon as possible.
    Belkar: And that’s what you said to your girlfriend! Double burn!
    Roy: OK, gang, weapons out, spells ready, eyes peeled. We don’t know what lives here, and we don’t know whether Nale is inside already.
    Haley: Wow, this place is like a maze!
    Durkon: I count at least six ways ta go!
    (D): I count at least six ways to go!
    Elan: I guess we’ll just have to pick one and explore it!
    Roy: Yeah, uh, no. We’re high-level adventurers with access to a lot of magic, and the world is at stake. We’re finding a shortcut. Durkon?
    Durkon: Find tha Path!
    (D): Find the Path!
    <spell text> NO SIGNAL
    Elan: I guess Girard has access to even more magic, huh, Roy?
    Roy: Fine. Vaarsuvius, fly up so you can see the whole canyon. Tell me if you see the center, or any structures or whatever.
    Vaarsuvius: As you wish. Someone watch my enslaved kobold for me.
    <sfx> WOOOSH!
    Roy: No, I am not wandering around this maze on foot. Durkon, cast Control Winds!
    Durkon: I, uh…I dinnae prepare it today.
    (D) I, uh…I didn’t prepare it today.
    Roy: You didn’t– You knew we were going to the WINDY Canyon today!!
    Durkon: Aye, but I thought it were the Windy Canyon – as in, it were full o’ winding passages.
    (D): Yeah, but I thought it was the Windy Canyon – as in, it was full of winding passages.
    Elan: It is! It’s a Windy Windy Canyon!
    Vaarsuvius: Are we simply ignoring the fact that “windy” and “windy” are heteronyms with divergent pronunciation, and no one could possibly have confused one for the other given that we have only ever heard them spoken aloud?
    Haley: Yeah. Best not to draw attention to that part.
    Roy: So, let’s see…divinations aren’t working and flight is being blocked by the wind, which we can’t fix in any way. Do any of you have any magic that will actually HELP us find Girard at all?
    Elan: <singing> Search, search, search, search the canyon for Girard’s Gate!

    Spoiler: Strip 838
    Either Way, Really.
    Roy, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Elan, Belkar, Durkon

    Roy: Oh look, another three-way split. Anyone have any preference for which way we should go?
    Haley: I’m a big fan of the Right-Hand rule.
    Vaarsuvius: I fail to see what this has to do with electromagnetic vectors.
    Haley: What? No, I mean we always take the rightmost path that we haven’t explored yet. Eventually, we should see every part that way.
    Elan: Can’t we drop breadcrumbs, like that story where they dropped breadcrumbs but the birds ate them all and they got lost and never mind, I get it.
    Belkar: Ugh! If you ask me, they should have called this place Stinkass Canyon! I cannot believe the smell in here.
    Roy: *sniff!* I don’t smell anything.
    Belkar: That’s ‘cause your feeble human senses are like your feeble human brains: Cute, but not really up to snuff.
    Roy: What? What’s wrong with human senses?
    Belkar: Nothing. I’m sure it’s very relaxing to be oblivious like that. Like living at a spa.
    Vaarsuvius: To be fair, you are quite bad at seeing in starlight.
    Durkon: Or total darkness.
    (D): Or total darkness.
    Vaarsuvius: Or noticing secret doors.
    Durkon: Or yer depth unnerground.
    (D): Or your depth underground.
    Vaarsuvius: Or hearing things.
    Roy: Fine, fine, OK, we get it. Why don’t you tell me what it is you smell that’s so rancid. Is it garbage?
    Belkar: No.
    Roy: Rotting corpses?
    Belkar: No.
    Roy: Troglodytes?
    Belkar: Close. Humans.
    Roy: Excuse me? Humans don’t smell THAT bad!
    Belkar: The fact that you think that makes my life miserable on a near-daily basis.
    Roy: Belkar, you just spent three days cooped up with a bunch of sweaty human gladiators. You’re fine.
    Belkar: Yeah, but this is worse! I don’t know, stronger!
    Haley: And you can smell it from here?
    Belkar: We’re downwind from the entire canyon.
    Haley: Roy, Girard’s human, as would be any family members.
    Roy: I can’t imagine that Girard would think to block divinations but not mask their scent, if it’s really that strong. Kids at Julia’s school use that spell when they pull an all-nighter. Then again…even if it’s not Girard and his people, it might be someone who can help us narrow down our search. And if Nale IS here, he’s probably having the same trouble we are…any advantage we can get helps. OK, let’s give it a try. New plan: We follow Belkar’s nose.
    Belkar: Come on, Freshmouth. I want Mr. Scruffy to stick near me.
    Haley: Wow, it’s amazing how useful that little guy has become.
    Roy: He might seem cooperative now – but don’t forget that he’s a cold-blooded monster that we’re just managing to control through intangible means until either he escapes, or he dies for a cause that isn’t his own.
    Haley: Are we talking about the kobold, or Belkar?
    Roy: Eh.

    Spoiler: Strip 839
    Finding Something
    Belkar, Roy, Haley, Elan, Durkon, Vaarsuvius

    Belkar: OK, there.
    Roy: From the rock face?
    Belkar: Yeah, it’s blowing right in my face. Can’t you smell it?
    Elan: Oh man, I can smell it! I must be part halfling!
    Haley: I guess that’s a good sign, but I sorta expected Girard’s illusions to be…trickier.
    Roy: The simplest illusions are often the best. We could have wandered for a week without finding this one spot. Durkon, is there anyone on the other side getting ready to ambush us?
    Durkon: Extended True Seeing! Na, lad, but I do see a passage. Wide ‘nuff to ride a horse thru.
    (D): Extended True Seeing! No, but I do see a passage. Wide enough to ride a horse through.
    Elan: Maybe I’m a half-halfling. Or a five-eighthling!
    Belkar: Bah! You’re not cool enough to even be a nine-tenthling.
    Haley: There could still be people hiding, just not with magic.
    Roy. Agreed. On the count of three. One…Two…THREE! OK, well, let’s spread out and look for any hidden…I don’t know, stuff.
    Durkon: Och, Roy! I see tha edge o’ sumthin’! Right thar!
    (D): Oh, Roy! I see the edge of somthing! Right there!
    Vaarsuvius: Greater Dispel Magic
    Roy: So…Trap or Decoy?
    Haley: I say…Trap.

    Spoiler: Strip 840
    Thief’s Tool
    Elan, Haley, Roy, Vaarsuvius

    Elan: Hooray! We found Girard’s hideout! Let’s go introduce ourselves before my brother shows up!
    Haley: Hold on a second, Elan! We don’t know if those stairs are trapped!
    Elan: On yeah. It’s been so long since we were in a dungeon, I kinda forgot traps existed. Haley, I guess you should start searching, right?
    Haley: …Riiiight. Right. Because I’ve absolutely been keeping my Search skill maxed. Um, or, as an alternative, we could have the kobold do it.
    Roy: Oh no. I don’t think so. Send the dominated guy to go trigger all the traps? I know he’s an enemy, but that’s a little too much.
    Haley: No, no, Roy, you’ve got it all wrong. V told me that during the battle, the kobold was using Sneak Attacks. That means he’s a rogue, like me. So he must be able to search for traps. I’m sure he’s just as capable of finding cleverly-hidden high-level killer doom traps as I am. V, help me out.
    Vaarsuvius: I need not direct his every motion – as long as I issue the directive to search for traps to the best of his ability, he shall.
    Haley: So it’s no more ethically questionable than sending me out to search for traps while the rest of you stay back here.
    Roy: You would be choosing to take that risk.
    Haley: Well, he’s not choosing to carry out carpet or let a cat ride on his head, but it’s a little late to get hung up on that now!
    Roy: *sigh* OK, fine, just do it before I change my mind.
    Haley: Great! I’ll just put these bulky magic items over here so they don’t get in his way…V, if you could give him the proper mental commands?
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed.
    Roy: That’s an interesting technique. It’s almost like he’s–
    <sfx> ffft! ffft! ffft! ZZZZAPP!
    Roy: –just walking up–
    <sfx> BOOM!
    Roy: –the stairs.
    Haley: Good news! He found some.
    Elan: Wow, he’s really good at this.

    Spoiler: Strip 841
    Haley, Roy, Durkon, Belkar, Elan

    Haley: OK, I think that’s the last trap. Any signs of movement?
    Roy: No. Nothing so far. We’ve walked right up to their front stairs, so whoever lived in there either doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention.
    Durkon: Also, it really does smell kinda funky up ‘ere.
    (D): Also, it really does smell kinda funky up here.
    Roy: That, too.
    Haley: Do you think it really is Girard’s Pyramid?
    Roy: I don’t know. Even with the traps, it seems sort of pitiful so far for something an epic illusionist would cook up to guard one of the cornerstones of reality.
    Haley: Agree. I’m thinking Decoy was maybe the right call after all.
    Roy: OK, gang, we’re going inside. Remember, if it IS Girard, or anyone who looks like him, or really anything other than a big drooling monster eating children – we’re here to talk, not fight. Stay ready for anything, but try not to look too aggressive about it.
    Belkar: <whispering> Psst! Elan! How do I not look aggressive?
    Elan: <whispering> I don’t know, it just comes naturally to me!
    Roy: Encouraging.
    Haley: Says you.
    Roy: Shush. Take a look around.
    Durkon: Lad, we’ve got stairs.
    Haley: Do you want to go up a level, or down a level?
    Roy: Don’t start with that. And up. There’s a lot less to search above us.
    Belkar: Can’t we just go down? I can smell those weird-smelling humans up there.
    Roy: That’s – Belkar, that’s who we’re looking for here!
    Belkar: Oh, right.
    Roy: <whispering> I think I see them. I don’t want to startle anyone…Elan, you used to be a herald. Announce us or something.
    Elan: <whispering> OK, Roy!
    Elan: HELLO! We’re the Order of the Stick, and we’re looking for Girard Draketooth! Or maybe his family? I’m not sure. Anyway, there’s a big bad evil guy on his way that is going to threaten your Gate, so we really need your – help.

    Spoiler: Strip 842
    All in the Family
    Haley, Roy, Durkon, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Elan

    Haley: Roy…is that…?
    Roy: The Draketooth family? Not sure. Durkon, get in here and take a look at this.
    Durkon: Och, sweet Thor above!
    (D): Oh, sweet Thor above!
    Roy: Is it real, though? Is it an illusion of some sort?
    Durkon: Lad…it’s no illusion. ‘Least na one tha True Seeing can pierce.
    (D): Roy…it’s no illusion. At least not one that True Seeing can pierce.
    Roy: Goddamn it.
    Durkon: These bodies, they be real, alright. Tha poor souls…
    (D): These bodies, they’re real, alright. The poor souls…
    Roy: Could it be some sort of other trick? A decoy, like you said?
    Haley: I – I guess so…but I don’t know how that would help them. If they make potential invaders think the Gate is less defended, that’s only going to encourage people to seek it out. I suppose it could be some sort of lure, but…to kill two dozen people, just as bait?
    Roy: But we can’t rule trickery out, then?
    Haley: I guess. But I don’t think I like the implication of someone doing this just to fool us any better. What I can’t figure out is why all these bugs didn’t start, you know…eating.
    Vaarsuvius: This chamber was invisible until 20 minutes ago. They could not adequately perceive what they wished to devour until now.
    Roy: Less entomology, more searching, V. I see pictographs all over this room. Find out if they matter.
    Vaarsuvius: As you wish.
    Roy: Haley, you take a look at the other end of the room.
    Haley: Yeah, OK.
    Belkar: Whoa. That is one room full of dead redheads.
    Roy: You! You said that you didn’t smell any rotting corpses!
    Belkar: Well I didn’t! And I still don’t!
    Roy: Then your nose needs a tune-up!
    Durkon: Dinnae get mad at ‘im, lad. These bodies’ve been mostly preserved by tha desert air whistlin’ through tha windows. They’ve been dead ‘least a fortnight, but thar’s precious little decay. I wouldnae expect Belkar ta know wha a natural mummy smell’d like ‘fore today.
    (D): Don’t get mad at him, Roy. These bodies have been mostly preserved by the desert air whistling through the windows. They’ve been dead at least a fortnight, but there’s precious little decay. I wouldn’t expect Belkar to know what a natural mummy smelled like before today.
    Belkar: See? My nose is working just fine!
    Roy: Then just stay out there and keep watch. I don’t want you cracking jokes in here.
    Belkar: Not even about the–
    Roy: GO!! Any idea on the cause of death?
    Durkon: Nay. Thar’s na one mark ‘pon any o’em, an’ Detect Poison came back negative.
    (D): No. There’s not one mark upon any of them, and Detect Poison came back negative.
    Elan: Was it Nale? Did my brother do this?
    Durkon: I dinnae think so, lad.
    (D): I don’t think so, Elan.
    Roy: I don’t think Nale could have killed a room full of people – some of them wizards – before they could even get up from their meals? If he had that kind of power, he’d have used it on us by now.
    Elan: Do you think it was Xykon.
    Roy: He could do it, yeah…but I would expect more collateral damage if he had.
    Elan: Oh yeah. And he probably would have made them zombies by now.
    Haley: Roy, check this out: It’s a schedule – for casting illusions.
    Haley: They were keeping this whole canyon blanketed with high-end phantasms and stuff. The few illusions we saw were probably just the most basic ones that didn’t run out yet.
    Roy: So right now, Girard’s Gate may have no defenses at all.
    Haley: There’s more. Look at the last day checked off.
    Roy: The day I was resurrected. That would fit with Durkon’s timeframe.
    Elan: But if it wasn’t Nale, and it wasn’t Xykon…Then who did this? And why?

    Spoiler: Strip 843
    Lack of Foresight
    Vaarsuvius, Elan, Roy, Haley, Belkar, Blackwing

    Vaarsuvius: *nnnkggh!*
    Elan: V, are you OK? What's the matter?
    Roy: Did you find something in those wall murals?
    Vaarsuvius: GAAAHH!!
    Roy: What the hell?
    Haley: Probably just needed some fresh air in a hurry. I'm half ready to hurl, too, and I don't have a elf's Constitution, you know?
    Belkar: See, Mr. Scruffy? That's what happens when you hold it in too long.
    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius! Vaarsuvius, stop! Please!
    <sfx> thnk! WHNNK!
    Vaarsuvius: My fault.
    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius?
    Vaarsuvius: I am the cause. It sprang from my brow.
    Blackwing: Yeah, I know. I saw the chart. Those people were blood relations to one of the dragons you killed with your Familicide spell. But look, that's bad - that's really bad - but it's a fluke. A coincidence. That one family-
    Vaarsuvius: One family? ONE FAMILY?? Then you do not grasp the enormity of it. The Familicide spell I cast killed everyone of the black dragon's blood - and then killed everyone who shared blood with any of the dragon's blood. The Draketooth Clan spent 60 years propagating itself by mating with random outsiders and then disappearing with the child. Each of those grieving parents, first wronged by a Draketooth, is now murdered by my hand! For their lost offspring carried the blood of the dragon - and they carried the blood of their offspring!
    Vaarsuvius: <voiceover> I have scourged the Western Continent of humans whose only sin was falling in love with a mysterious scarlet-tressed stranger! And I have extinguished their own family lines as well! Countless parents, siblings, and children, dead - down to the last cousin. I am the one who slew Tarquin's wife! And had she borne him a child, I would have slain it as well!
    Blackwing: Wow...OK...well, you couldn't have known-
    Vaarsuvius: Could I not have? The propensity for both dragons and humans to breed outside their species is well-documented. I am as guilty as if I had a cast a Fireball into a crowded market square to catch a pickpocket! No, my deed has no justification. No excuse. The few paltry moments that the trio of fiends shall hold my soul will be but a preview of the eternity that-
    <sfx> click! WHAM! creeeeeeeek. tchkt.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 09:05 AM. Reason: correcting minor errors
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  11. - Top - End - #191
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 844 to 867
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 844
    Case In Point
    Haley, Roy, Elan, Durkon

    Haley: Hey Roy, what do you make of this thing?
    Roy: <voiceover> Lirian, Dorukan, Soon, Kraagor, and Girard. Shojo mentioned that each gatekeeper had some kind of monitoring device that told them whether or not the other Gates were intact. We can get the casters to run some divinations, but my guess is that's what we're looking at.
    Haley: Then Girard's Gate is still intact - and so's Kraagor's for that matter.
    Roy: Looks like. But just because it's still functioning doesn't mean it isn't being corrupted as we speak by whatever new villain killed these people.
    Elan: Guys, Durkon's almost done casting!
    Roy: OK, we'll be right there.
    Durkon: Resurrection!
    (D): Resurrection!
    Haley: Last chance. Ten gold
    Roy: Alright, alright. You're on.
    Durkon: ...Och, I dinnae know why tha spell na be workin'.
    (D): ...Oh, I don't know why the spell isn't working.
    Haley: Pay up.
    Roy: *sigh* How did you know?
    Haley: Easy. Girard is like my dad.
    Elan: Your dad is a tattooed illusionist?
    Haley: Close. My dad is a paranoid fool who will suffer just to spite someone. And Dukon, unfortunately, just happens to have the same alignment as a paladin-
    Roy: -and the Resurrection spell telepathically tells the dead person's soul what alignment the caster is.
    Haley: Exactly. Girard was as worried about Soon and his paladins as he was about outside invaders. It stands to reason that he taught his family the same way. So just like my dad was willing to rot in jail before he let Tarquin's son help him - a lot of these people will be willing to stay dead rather than let the Sapphire Guard raise them. They died so quickly, they probably don't know they're all dead.
    Durkon: But tha be rediculous! Soon an' 'is paladins were good guys! Thar be no reason to be suspicious o'em at all!
    (D): But that's rediculous! Soon and his paladins were good guys! There's no reason to be suspicious of them at all!
    Haley: I don't know. I mean, Lawful types do have a tendency to try to make everyone else think the same way they do - or else.
    Durkon: Tha's absurd. Lawful folk do na do tha, Haley.
    (D): That's absurd. Lawful folk don't do that, Haley.
    Roy: Yeah, so let's forget the crazy talk and focus on what we know is actually true.
    Elan: Oh! I get it!

    Spoiler: Strip 845
    The Last Laugh
    Durkon, Roy, Elan, Haley, Corpse

    Durkon: I've enuff diamond dust fer one more Resurrection, lad. Who should we pick?
    (D): I've enough diamond dust for one more Resurrection, Roy. Who should we pick?
    Roy: *Sigh* None of them. I don't know if Haley's theory is right, but we can't risk wasting our resources on a crap shoot. If we manage to secure the Gate, maybe we can raise some of them later. What we really need now is to figure out where the Gate actually IS.
    Elan: Huh? Isn't it in this pyramid?
    Roy: Maybe. Maybe not. We don't know for sure.
    Haley: It would make a certain sort of sense to build a huge dungeon just to kill anyone who got past them - then hide the Gate elsewhere.
    Roy: It's also possible that they wouldn't have expected anyone to have the run of their quarters like this, though.
    Haley: I'll keep searching that study room and see if I can turn anything up.
    Durkon: Lad...thar be one other thing we can's a bit off.
    (D): Roy...there's one other thing we can's a bit off.
    Roy: "Off"? Like, evil or something?
    Durkon: Nay, nay, just...rude. I haf the Speak Wit Dead spell prepared. I could cast it ta ask one o' tha bodies a few questions.
    (D): No, no, just...rude. I have the Speak With Dead spell prepared. I could cast it to ask one of the bodies a few questions.
    Roy: Good thinking, Durkon. I guess my main question is, can the corpse lie?
    Durkon: Nay, na as such. They do tend ta be a bit cryptic, tho.
    (D): No, not as such. They do tend to be a bit cryptic, though.
    Roy: Let's try it then. We can apoligize for the inconvenience after the world is saved.
    Durkon: Speak Wit Dead!
    (D): Speak With Dead!
    Corpse: ...
    Durkon: Ye can go ahead an' ask 'im.
    (D): You can go ahead and ask him.
    Roy: Where is Girard's Gate?
    Corpse: In the...desert...
    Durkon: See? It's tha daft Oracle all o'er agin.
    (D): See? It's the crazy Oracle all over again.
    Roy: Where in Windy Canyon is Girard's Gate?
    Corpse: Around...the rift.
    Roy: OK, then, where is Girard's Rift?
    Corpse: It lay...between...Girard's...buttcheeks.
    Elan: The tragic loss to the field of ass comedy diminishes us all.

    Spoiler: Strip 846
    No Bone Unturned
    Haley, Roy, Belkar, Durkon, Corpse

    Haley: I just want it on the record that I think you're taking this too literally.
    Roy: Duly noted. Keep looking.
    Belkar: Hey, anyone seen Vaarsuvius? Mr. Scruffy needs the kobold to open his mouth for a minute.
    Roy: Why?
    Belkar: ...No reason. Don't worry about it. I'm sure the elf will turn up.
    Durkon: Lad, ifn' yer gonna ask tha corpse anymore questions, ye better hurry 'fore tha spell runs out.
    (D): Roy, if you're gonna ask the corpse anymore questions, you better hurry before the spell runs out.
    Roy: Good point. Well, if you won't give us a straight answer about the Gate...Where is Girard Draketooth.
    Corpse: Beneath...his own...feet.
    Roy: Another damn riddle. What the hell is that supposed to mean?
    Haley: Hey, I think I found a secret-
    <sfx> click! wrrrrrrrrshtcht!
    Haley: Whoa!! Huh, Girard Draketooth, I presume.
    Belkar: At least one of them had the courtesy to put themselves into a crypt after they all died.
    Roy: Damn it. I was holding out hope that he had escaped the slaughter up there - but he was dead before it started.
    Durkon: Aye, lad. E's been dead fer twenty years or more.
    (D): Yes, Roy. He's been dead for twenty years or more.
    Haley: Should we try to raise him?
    Roy: Eventually, yeah. But if anyone was going to hold to your theory about resisting it, it would be him. And look at his teeth - he may well have died of old age.
    Haley: I guess we have to assume at this point that Girard's Gate is functionally undefended.
    Roy: Girard may have been a spiteful curmudgeon, but he was still doing the world a great service. We're all a little less safe now that he and his heirs have passed.
    Haley: You're going to make me search that skeleton's dry crumbly assbone, aren't you?
    Roy: Yep.

    Spoiler: Strip 847
    Dropping the Back
    Haley, Durkon, Roy, Malack, Kilkil, Tarquin, Nale, Zz'dtri

    Haley: OK, that's it. I'm done. Roy, we've been over every inch of this crypt. There's nothing here but an old dead guy.
    Durkon: Aye, lad. I e'ven recast True Seein', an' I see nuthin'.
    (D): Yeah, Roy. I even recast True Seeing, and I see nothing.
    Roy: Did you try Detect Magic?
    Durkon: Nay, I dinnae prepare tha, V does.
    (D): No, I don't prepare that, V does.
    Roy: I guess V has gotten enough fresh air at this point. Keep looking around here. I'm going outside to find an elf. Vaarsuvius? VAARSUVIUS! Come on, we need you to scan something! Where are you? Ah crap. Is that you all the way up in the - sky? GET DOWN! EVERYONE GET-
    <sfx> SPLOOSH!
    Malack: Tarquin, we agreed that Brother Thundershield was not to be harmed!
    KilKil: General, I estimate only an 8% chance that any members of your son's team were killed by that spell.
    Tarquin: See, Malack? I'm sure your dwarf friend can handle one little acid bath.
    Nale: Eight percent? I've seen hospitals with worse mortality rates. Hit them again, Z.
    Zz’dtri: Empowered Vitriolic Sphere.

    Spoiler: Strip 848
    Acid Redux
    Roy, Dukon, Elan, Belkar, Haley

    Roy: Is everyone OK?
    Durkon: Wha wuz tha???
    (D): What was that???
    Elan: Haley! Roy! What happened?
    Belkar: Ahhh! It's burning! Get it off!
    Roy: It was tough to see, but I think your brother happened. And it looked like he brought a full team, including that drow.
    Haley: Zz'dtri?! That would explain the big green ball of acid.
    Elan: But my Dad's troops arrested him back at-
    <sfx> SPLOOSH!
    Haley: OK, screw this!
    Belkar: What are you complaining about, Miss I-Dodged-Two-Balls-Of-Acid-In-A-Row? I'm like a hobbit fajita over here!
    Durkon: Mass Resist Acid! That oughta stop it from doin' us any more harm.
    (D): Mass Resist Acid! That ought to stop it from doing us any more harm.
    <sfx> Fft! Fft!
    Haley: Darn it! Between the range and the sun. I can't even hit a dinosaur, much less whoever that is riding it! What we need is a good old fashioned Fireball. Roy, where's Vaarsuvius.
    Roy: I don't know. Could be hiding out there invisibly, could be dead, could be on another plane again. It all depends on who spotted whom first. I do know that without a wizard, we're sitting ducks in here against a Linear Guild sniping spells at us from a thousand feet up. And that I'm not leaving V out there alone. Everyone, out the door and get ready to fight. Durkon, keep your True Seeing up and grab the flying carpet.
    Durkon: Aye, lad...
    (D): Yes, lad...
    Belkar: Ha! The kobold tried to kill Mr. Scruffy, and in the end, he died shielding him from acid! Payback's a bitch!
    Elan: But...what about all the awful stuff you already did to him as payback for that?
    Belkar: You gotta pay down the interest before you can touch the principle, kid.
    Roy: Hey! Both of you! Stop misapplying the philosophical concept of karma and MOVE!
    Elan: Awwww. I probably deserved that.
    Roy: I said stop it!!

    Spoiler: Strip 849
    Suspicious Agreement
    Tarquin, Sabine, Nale, Malack, Elan, Roy, Kilkil

    Tarquin: Nale, son- not that I've never gotten a chuckle out of dipping people in acid, but is there some reason we've announced our presence?
    Sabine: Nale knows the Order of the Stick a lot better than you do.
    Nale: Indeed. I know that if you want them to do something, you need to prod them now and then. Otherwise. They'll just stand around talking until they fill up like eight pages with speech balloons.
    Sabine: See, Tarquin? A little acid got them moving! Good job, honey!
    Nale: Yes dear...Unforutnately, "up" is not the direction I was hoping for. Malack, is the Control Winds scroll you cast still active?
    Malack: Is your vapid devil-whore still keeping you aloft?
    Sabine: HEY! Who are you calling a devil??
    Nale: Keep them contained, then.
    Malack: ...
    Tarquin: Come on, Mal. Try to look forward to the end of the mission.
    Malack: ...Very well.
    <sfx> WOOOOSH!
    Elan: No fair! How come THEY get to fly? Stupid biased Windy Canyon!
    Roy: That's not JUST the canyon. I think Nale found himself a new divine caster. Come on, maybe we can push through this.
    Tarquin: If your goal is to drive them back...I request permission to engage the enemy, O Great Leader of the Linear Guild.
    Nale: Permission to hasten my inheritance granted.
    Tarquin: Ha! OK, hold on one moment, I just need to activate one of my armor's enchantments...
    Nale: Glamered armor? Isn't that kind of a weak ability, Dad?
    Tarquin: Actually, when you change flags as often as I do, it's a real cost-saver. There we go! Now how does the voice go again? *Ahem*
    Tarquin: THOG SMASHES!
    KilKil: Sir, watch your grammar!
    Malack: Why? What's wrong with it?
    KilKil: Absolutely nothing!

    Spoiler: Strip 850
    Durkon, Elan, Belkar, Roy, Haley, Tarquin

    Durkon: Dispell Magic! ...Nuts
    (D): Dispell Magic! ...Nuts.
    Elan: Owww! Roy, the wind is sharp!
    Belkar: That idiot elf is probably taking a nap while we get out faces sandblasted.
    Roy: Elves don't sleep, Belkar. Keep pushing.
    Tarquin: Steady...
    Roy: Hey, I think it's calming-
    Haley: Roy! Look out!
    <sfx> WONK!
    Tarquin: THOG READY TO FIGHT!!
    Roy: Oh come on! I just HAD this battle!
    Elan: With the big panels and everything!
    Belkar; Must be summer rerun season already.
    Tarquin: nale rescue thog. nale steal new stuff from nale's daddy. dark elfy made armor purple 'cause thog like purple. WANT REMATCH WITH TALKY MAN!!!
    Elan: You know, he insisted on purple when we were robbing that clothing store, too.
    Durkon: Aye, I can see an illusion on 'is armor...
    (D): Yeah, I can see an illusion on his armor...
    Roy: OK, I do not care about thog's new fashions! Thought I do like not having to look at his face...
    Elan: Don't worry, Roy. You beat Thog all by yourself, and now you have us to help!
    Belkar: Yeah, even with Elan here, that's got to be a net positive!
    Elan: Exactly!
    Haley: We should hurry, before the rest of his team lands.
    Roy: Take him down, Order of the Stick. Hard.
    Tarquin: Magnificent.

    Spoiler: Strip 851
    Passive Voice
    Durkon, Elan, Tarquin

    <sfx> whifff! fnkt. thunk. thunk. thunk. snatch! SPLRTCH!
    Durkon: Hold Person!
    Tarquin: ok.
    humwhumwhumwhumwhu WHOOSH!
    Tarquin: aren't you going to do any—
    Elan: <singing> Try, try, try, try not to get too much in anyone's way!
    Elan: Hooray! I did it!

    Spoiler: Strip 852
    Under the Helmet
    Belkar, Elan, Roy, Tarquin

    <sfx> SLASH! SLASH! SLASH!
    Roy: OK, we can—Nnnngh!—take this. Elan, keep playing. Belkar, let's pour on the damage before someone heals him.
    Elan: I think it's too late for that, Roy! Look—
    <sfx> heal! heal! heal!
    Elan: <voiceover> —he's already started healing himself!
    Tarquin: thog regenerationating! Hooray for magic items!
    Elan: How much new stuff did Thog come up with in two days??
    Belkar: Gee, yeah. I wonder where he learned that thing where he used a found arrow as a stabbing weapon—Roy.
    Roy: Not from me. Because that's not Thog. In the arena, Thog was pretty much all offense. This guy has been fighting defensively the whole time. Plus he leads with the other foot, he resisted Durkon's enchantment, and I think he used a second-person pronoun. I don't know who he is, but he's not Thog.
    Elan: But…then who—? And why would he pretend—?
    Roy: I intend to find out.
    Tarquin: talky-man come back for more!
    Roy: Can it! It's grating enough having to listen to that crap from the real Thog!
    Tarquin: but thog is real thog!
    Roy: No, you're not. And I intend to prove it—NOW!
    <mask text> Nope!
    <sfx> KTHNK!
    Tarquin: Totally worth wearing a mask under my helmet for two days.
    <sfx> catch!
    Elan: Oh man! I should have known knowing something would never work out!

    Spoiler: Strip 853
    The Dangers of Progress
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Malack, Nale, Roy, Sabine, Tarquin

    Malack: Now the fool is just showboating. Flame Strike.
    Nale: HEY!
    Sabine: Nale didn't order you to provide artillery support yet, Pinkeye!
    Malack: And I didn't care. This is a waste of time.
    Belkar: Damn it, how come WE never have magical protection from fire?
    <sfx> whiff! whiff!
    Tarquin: That would explain your blotchy complexion.
    Elan: Durkon! Roy is down!
    Durkon: I'm onnit lad. Heal!
    (D): I'm on it, lad. Heal!
    Haley: Get him up and get back into the pyramid! We're sitting ducks out here!
    <sfx> SPLRK!!
    Tarquin: Unnh!!
    Haley: Hurry up! Move!
    Belkar: Some of us had a guy in plate armor trip over us, you know.
    Roy: Thanks for the cover. Now come on, we're falling back down the stairs.
    Haley: Do we have any idea what's down here?
    Roy: None—except that it's indoors, which means we should have more control over the range and direction of engagement.
    Elan: Roy, what about Vaarsuvius?
    Roy: I didn't see any signs of a wizard battle outside. Either V's not out there, or has managed to stay hidden. As much as I want to find V, we'll be no help if we get picked off at long range. We'll need to figure out later what happened to Vaarsuv—
    Haley: Look! A trap door!!
    Roy: Nice catch, Haley. In the old days, we would've just fallen in!
    Elan: We're improving!

    Spoiler: Strip 854
    Not Much Chance of That
    Malack, Nale, Qarr, Sabine, Tarquin

    Tarquin: Hey, what was with that Flame Strike? I was in the middle of something there!
    Nale: That's what I want to—
    Tarquin: Grown-ups are talking, Nale.
    Malack: I flame struck because you were wasting everyone's time.
    Tarquin: How? I was following my commander's orders to drive them back inside.
    Malack: I've been watching you fight for 35 years. No you weren't. You were toying with them. Stalling for time so that you could take the measure of your other son in battle.
    Tarquin: Well, OK…Perhaps I was combining two objectives, but—
    Malack: Quiet! Stop flapping your flat-toothed mouth for one minute!!
    <sfx> pop!
    Qarr: Hey, I'm back. What's going on?
    Sabine: Shhhhh! Tarquin and Malack are about to get into it!
    Malack: You were the one who demanded that I put aside my personal grievance for this crucial mission—as per our long-standing protocols. But your desire to test the boy's skills is as much a private matter as my vengeance is! I will not stand next to my children's murderer while you indulge your paternal curiosity! I will not put my family below yours!!
    Tarquin: You're absolutely right. I apologize. I don't know what I was thinking. I certainly wasn't taking into consideration how stressful this must be for you. When we face them again, I won't goof around like that.
    Malack:…Apology accepted.
    Tarquin: But you have to admit, that "Nope!" gag was hilarious.
    Malack: You always have been willing to go the extra mile for a punchline. Remember the Rajah?
    Tarquin: HA! And you said there was no way I'd hold that much creamed spinach in my mouth for the whole coronation!
    Qarr: Huh. So much for "it" and the getting into thereof.
    Sabine: Uggh, reasonable adults talking out their differences?!? If that catches on, we'll both be out of a job!

    Spoiler: Strip 855
    And They Get Extra Credit For It, Too
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Roy

    Haley: Pit trap. Saw blade trap. Some sort of shifting wall trap.
    Belkar: Geez, this is the lamest dungeon ever. No monsters, and even *I* can spot the traps!
    Roy: Well, you have to remember that most of this was probably covered by illusions while the Draketooths were still alive.
    Haley: That one has spikes, I think.
    Roy: All these walls look the same, so I bet it was easy to get turned around with a few choice mirages until you walked into a deathtrap.
    Belkar: Yeah, but what kind of moron would be so distracted to fall into one of them now?
    Roy: Huh. I really felt like there was going to be a cutaway panel there.
    Haley: Me too!
    Belkar: Weird.
    Roy: Anyway, I think this looks like a pretty good spot. Everyone, gather 'round.
    Elan: Oooo, is this where we make our heroic stand against the sinister Linear Guild?
    Roy: Not exactly. Nale clearly wants to keep us off balance and on the run, so I think our best bet is to turn it around. Put him and his new team on the defensive, and try to learn as much as we can about them in the process. In other words, we're going to lay a trap of our very own.
    Belkar: Now you're speaking my language. My bloody, bloody language.
    Haley: Yeah, sneak attacks are great for making Sneak Attacks!
    Durkon: Hmm, methinks I've got just tha spell fer tha, lad.
    (D): Hmm, I think I have just the spell for that, lad.
    Elan: Oh! And I can help with the montage of us getting ready!
    Roy: No. No montages, no power ballads, just hide where I tell you to hide.
    Elan: Awww! Effectiveness is no fun AT ALL!
    Haley: Funny, I didn't really think an ambush was your style, Roy.
    Roy: Trust me, I learned all about the tactical value of surprise back in Fighter College.

    Spoiler: Strip 856
    [URL=]I Guess You Had to Be There
    Kilkil, Malack, Mummy 1, Mummy 2, Mummy 4, Mummy 5, Nale, Qarr, Tarquin, Sabine

    Nale: I don't know…I just—I know Dad has a scheme he's playing here, I just can't figure it out.
    Sabine: Baby, you've got this. This is in the bag. Tarquin is dancing on your strings.
    Nale: Yeah…yeah, you're right. He's working for me. The Gate is totally useless to him without my help.
    Sabine: Whatever happens, I'm proud of you. Now get in there and take command!
    Tarquin: —I'm just surprised. I always thought you were against this sort of thing.
    Malack: I am. But Lord Nergal has blessed us with an abundance of a relatively scarce resource. If I were not to make full use of it…it would just be rude.
    Mummy 1: make full use
    Mummy 4: rude
    Mummy 5: blessed us
    Tarquin: Well, Nale, you're in charge here. What's the plan?
    Nale: We follow the Order of the Stick down into the pyramid. Keep the pressure on them until they find the Gate. Malack, I want you in back, minions out front. If we corner them by accident, we can fall back while they fight the mummies for a while.
    Mummy 1: by accident
    Mummy 2: find the gate
    Nale: Dad, since you've got True Seeing, follow the mummies and keep an eye out for any illusions that might be left.
    Tarquin: As you command, fair leader!
    Nale: And cut the fake servility.
    Tarquin: By your will, it shall be so!
    Nale: Sabine, stay close to me.
    Sabine: Always, honey.
    Nale: Kilkil, stay close to my dad.
    KilKil: I'm not calling him "honey."
    Nale: And Zz'dtri—try to get your imp to stop laughing.
    Qarr: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha—oh! Oh! They're related! They're all—Don't you get it? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Spoiler: Strip 857
    The Pit of Despair
    Blackwing, Mummy 4, Nale, Sabine, Vaarsuvius, Zz'dtri

    Blackwing: I'll be back for supper, Ma…Me an' 23 friends are gonna see if we fit into a pie…Whoa! What—Where? I feel like I got hit with a three-ton rock!...Oh! Vaarsuvius! Vaarsuvius, wake up!
    Vaarsuvius: Unnnhhh…
    Blackwing: Come on, get up!
    Vaarsuvius: Where…are we located?
    Blackwing: A pit, looks like. You sprang some kind of trap after you—
    Vaarsuvius: After we learned of my role in worldwide genocide.
    Blackwing: As your friend, I wasn't going to bring that up.
    Vaarsuvius: No need to spare my feelings. They deserve whatever injury befalls them, unlike my victims.
    Blackwing: I suppose, but really, I think we have more pressing matters right now.
    Vaarsuvius: Nothing presses more distinctly than the weight of my deeds upon my bartered soul.
    Blackwing: Yeah, uh, I meant we need to get out of this pit. The others need you.
    Vaarsuvius: Do they? Or are they—and the world—better off absent my presence? Did I not carelessly rend the defenses they hoped would stand fast against the darkness?
    Blackwing: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize this dungeon was appropriate for a pity party of 4-6 characters. Just like you to try and solo it. Yes, you screwed up big, and yes, a lot of people paid the price. But sitting in a pit moping about it isn't going to fix anything! You need to get your butt out of here and back up to where you can help Roy try to put this right!
    Vaarsuvius: Perhaps…Perhaps you are correct. Certainly, I must try to put my guilt aside while we—
    Zz’dtri: Trap.
    Sabine: Darn it! I am so out of practice at trapfinding!
    Nale: Don't worry, babe. I know it's not your fault.
    Mummy 4: your fault
    Vaarsuvius: AHHHHH!!! Passwall!!
    Blackwing: Wait! Stop!
    Vaarsuvius: Quickened Expeditious Retreat!
    Blackwing: Fleeing in a blind panic is only marginally better than moping!

    Spoiler: Strip 858
    [URL=]Actually, She Did
    Haley, Kilkil, Malack, Nale, Roy, Sabine, Tarquin

    Malack: —are simply not disposable like that!
    Tarquin: They cost you a few charges from your staff each!
    Malack: That is not the point.
    Sabine: There's another one.
    Malack: They may well be divine gifts.
    Tarquin: Perhaps. But our leader made the strategic consideration not to waste time fishing one of those gifts out of a pit trap—and I, for one, actually think it was the right call.
    Malack: You would think that!
    Nale: Can the two of you quit bickering? We're on an adventure here!
    Sabine: Yeah, this place is lousy with traps. Unless you want to lose more mummies, shut up and let me concentrate on finding them.
    KilKil: General, I wasn't aware she had any skill with snares.
    Tarquin: You know what they say: It takes a booby trap to find one. Still, I can personally attest that her most useful skillset is more—…Stop!
    KilKil: What? What is it?
    Tarquin: Trap. I can just feel it.
    Sabine: Uh, yeah, I just said that. They're all over the—
    Tarquin: Not that kind of trap.
    Sabine: Oof!
    Haley: …
    Roy: Haley…
    Haley: Got it.
    <sfx> snatch!
    Nale: Ha! I guess she didn’t learn that you could just snatch her arrows out of the—
    <sfx> POOFFF!

    Spoiler: Strip 859
    Durkon, Kilkil, Malack, Nale, Qarr, Sabine, Tarquin, Zz'dtri

    KilKil: I can't see! What the hell happened?
    Zz’dtri: Me too.
    Tarquin: Heh. Pretty clever.
    Nale: It's just a smokestick! Quick, everyone move up and out of the cloud's—
    Sabine: Nale! The traps!
    <sfx> click! WHHHHHRR!
    Nale: AAAAggh!
    <sfx> click!
    Malack: What is going on up there? Is this enemy action or—
    Qarr: Whoa!
    <sfx> SLAM!
    Malack: Hrrm.
    Tarquin: Well, Nale? Orders? Or are you going to let a 20-gp novelty throw your Linear Guild into disarray?
    Nale: Shut up! Just shut up! I'm thinking! OK…we would hear them if they were engaging the mummies, and they can't target us through this smoke cloud…Sabine, jam this trap ahead of us.
    Sabine: No problem.
    Nale: Zz'dtri? If you can hear me, use some wind magic to disperse this smoke. "Thog," try to get to the front of the—
    Durkon: holy.

    Spoiler: Strip 860
    Wasn't Going to Listen to Orders Anyway
    Belkar, Nale, Roy, Sabine, Tarquin, Zz'dtri

    Sabine: Grrrraaaah!!! Nale, I can't—I can't hold on!!
    Sabine: I'm sorry! I'll be back as soon as I can! Don't do anything too rash—and don't trust any of them.
    Sabine: I love you forever
    Nale: SABINE! SABINE!!!
    Zz’dtri: gst've wind.
    <sfx> fizzle!
    Tarquin: No time for touching farewells, Nale. It seems your brother and Greenhilt have risen to your challenge.
    Nale: WHAT?
    Tarquin: Holy Word. Everyone not on the side of the angels is deafened or worse, unless they're strong enough to resist it as I am. Your mage can't hear himself cast, your bimbo was banished, and I don't even know about the rest.
    <sfx> thunk! thunk!
    Nale: OWWW!!!
    Tarquin: Stop shouting, you idiot! You're giving away your position in the smoke!
    Tarquin: No! Don't advance!!
    <sfx> SCHLRKT! slash! slash!
    Belkar: …WHAT?
    Nale: OWW!
    <sfx> slash! slash!
    Roy: It's not a bug, it's a feature.

    Spoiler: Strip 861
    [URL=]You Should've Seen What They Did to His Pelvis
    Durkon, Haley, Malack, Mummy 3, Mummy 5, Qarr, Roy, Tarquin, Zz'dtri

    Qarr: What the Home Sweet Home is going on in there? That's an awful lot of yelling.
    Malack: This trap appears to be airtight. I have no spells suitable to opening it. Do you?
    Qarr: I don't think that's really the question that needs to be asked here. I think a more relevant question would be, "Do I or do I not have my own agenda?" To which the answer is: "Bye!"
    <sfx> pop!
    Malack: Hrrrrm. Typical fiend behavior. Very well, I shall find my own path around it.
    Tarquin: You're fairly skilled with weapon and shield, cleric.
    <sfx> CLANG!
    Zz’dtri: Shield?
    Durkon: Thor asks tha his children be ready to smash Evil in tha face wit a big hammer, were'er it be found.
    (D): Thor asks that his children be ready to smash Evil in the face with a big hammer wherever it is found.
    <sfx> BONK!!
    Tarquin: Sadly, my face is not currently available. You should consider yourself lucky that you have someone looking out for your safety. Well, your deity obviously, but besides him.
    Haley: I can't see too much, but I think this is going pretty well. Knock on wood.
    Roy: Good. I was worried when I saw the mummies. Looks like their mystery cleric was directly controlling them…and we must have shut him (or her) down. Excuse me for one moment.
    Mummy 5: your safety
    Mummy 3: knock on—
    Roy: OK, I know this looks bad, but they can totally fix it when they raise you guys.

    Spoiler: Strip 862
    Pop Goes Pop
    Belkar, Durkon, Nale, Roy, Tarquin, Zz'dtri

    <sfx> fizzle!
    Nale: Nnnnnh!
    Tarquin: Hmm, Nale stopped trying to hear himself speak. He must have been knocked out.
    <sfx> whumwhumwhumwhumKTHUNK!
    Tarquin: It seems that for once, your tactical insight was right on the money. The smoke may be clearing, but retreat is our best option.
    Durkon: Och, stop shoutin'! I've got a splittin' headache!
    (D): Oh, stop shouting! I've got a splitting headache!
    Tarquin: Luckily for us, I'm well-versed in Drow sign language. You're too young to remember, but it was quite the fad in its day—right after all that arcana was first unearthed. You couldn't swing a bec de corbin without hitting a curvy dark elf maiden back then. They were completely unbalanced—in all the best ways!
    <sign text> Get us out of here.
    <sign text> Bring my accountant.
    Roy: Durkon! They're going to teleport! Can you lock them down?
    Durkon: Nay, lad—V usually has tha spell.
    (D): No, lad—V usually has that spell.
    Roy: Then charge, and don't stop 'til your hammer hits drow!
    Tarquin: This one time, I thought I was using the hand sign for "drinking fountain," but it turned out I was actually asking if I could—Well, suffice to say that it ended up as a fine evening for everyone.
    Zz’dtri: Teleport.
    <sfx> POP!

    Spoiler: Strip 863
    Looking for Regroup
    Elan, Haley, Nale, Roy, Tarquin

    Tarquin: Hmmm. I was hoping we'd be back in my chambers in Bleedingham, but such are the limits of sign language. ♪. Good girl! Now let me get in that emergency pouch of yours. I'll have to remember to pack a spare axe next time…I guess a whip will have to do. Now where is the—Ah! This ought to do the trick! We used to call this stuff, "Cleric-in-a-can."
    <can text> Keoghtum® brand Ointment EXTRA STRENGTH. Drug Facts. Active Ingredient: Magic 71%. Purpose: Panacea. Uses: For treatment of cuts, burns, fractures, bruises, sprains, concussions, boils, warts, psoriasis, acne, gout, deafness, blindness, thin or patch eyelashes, bacterial or viral infections, cancer, organ failure, varicose veins, mild incontinence, and all other diseases, ailments, or trauma. Directions: Apply to affected area. If condition worsens, apply more to affected area. Inactive Ingredients: Petroleum jelly, glycerin, heart of a virgin collected on his/her wedding night, fragrance.
    Tarquin: A dab for the drow—and two for my idiot son.
    Nale: Dad…? Where—what happened?
    Tarquin: You crumpled like a tissue paper golem, I'm sad to say. Your dark elf friend pulled us out.
    Nale: Wait—Sabine! What happened to Sabine?
    Tarquin: Banished. It would appear that for the next 24 hours, this evil adventuring party is of the sausage variety. Grab Kilkil. I don't have enough ointment for all the stuff that spell did to him. But we can meet up with Malack. He should head back to the room with the corpses, once he realizes we fled. Greenhilt is proving to be a wonderful challenge after all. Though I do question his decision to hold your brother back from the conflict…
    Haley: Elan, I'm sure Roy didn't leave you out of the fight on purpose.
    Roy: I was going to have you cover our escape with an illusion. But then we won!
    Elan: Without an elaborate turnaround?? If you're going to fib, Roy, at least make it believable!

    Spoiler: Strip 864
    Bet It Would Get Funded on Kickstarter
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Roy

    Haley: I can get that trapped wall open pretty easily, if you want to pursue.
    Roy: Waste of time—they could've 'ported anywhere. Let's keep moving. I think I've figured out who the—
    Durkon: Remove Deafness.
    Elan: Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Guys! It's been like three months since the comic updated! You can't dive right into the tactical stuff like that! We need to remind everyone of what's been going on lately. We need a RECAP COMIC!
    Roy: No. No way. We're right in the middle of a race to find Girard's Gate before the Linear Guild does—
    Elan: Good start, Roy! Keep going!
    Roy: —and recaps are a waste of time that don't advance the story.
    Elan: Maybe that's true, Roy, but they're also the perfect opportunity for a musical interlude.
    Belkar: Quick! Cast "Reinstate Deafness!"
    Elan: <voiceover> To the Windy Canyon, we all rode On a flying carpet swift, Seeking Draketooth's secret abode And the Gate that seals a rift! But when we pierced that lair's veil We found the havoc wreaked. The scene, so far beyond the pale, That our wizard totally freaked. Just then! A foe struck from the fog That drove us inside farther! Nale and Sabine, but instead of Thog, A masked man (who's probably my father).
    <end flashback>
    Haley: Wait—what did he just sing???
    Roy: That's what I was trying to say!
    Elan: <voiceover> With magic, snares, and smoke to smother, Our trap played out in this hall.
    Roy: He implied he was older than Nale, he was too strong for the Holy Word, and he was about the right height, build, and complexion. And he's bothering to hide his identity when we already know he's not Thog!
    Haley: Ooo! Don't forget the casually sexist anecdote.
    Roy: Exactly!
    Elan: <voiceover> Belkar knocked out my dumb brother To force the bad guys' withdrawal.
    Haley: Huh. I guess you were wrong—you CAN advance the story in a recap.
    Roy: Let's listen to the rest of the song. There might be more clues.
    Elan: <voiceover> Then bold Sir Thumb rode out to fight But 'gainst glass, could not defend. They struck him down, brave Digit Knight, 'Til he could neither draw nor bend!
    <end flashback>
    Roy: Never mend. We're done here.
    Elan: Yeah, you're right. That really deserves a 500-stanza epic poem of its own.

    Spoiler: Strip 865
    Getting Defensive
    Azurite Soldier, Carrion Crawler 1, Carrion Crawler 2, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Hinjo, Niu, Roy

    Haley: Elan, honey, aren't you worried about fighting your own father?
    Elan: I was, but then right before we came into the canyon, I got an idea that—
    Roy: OK, enough with the recaps! We need to keep moving. We may have bloodied their noses, but they'll be back.
    Durkon: Aye, but na wit Sabine. She be banished fer at least 24 hours.
    (D): Yes, but not with Sabine. She's banished for at least 24 hours.
    Haley: Roy, if Nale is smart—or, as is far more likely, if Tarquin is calling the shots—won't they just hang back until their team is up to full strength?
    Roy: I hope they do. That will give us time to find the Gate.
    Haley: And then what? How does finding the Gate help us beat them? Does it have lasers? Please tell me it has lasers.
    Durkon: Better'n lasers: Planar Ally!
    (D): Better than lasers: Planar Ally!
    Durkon: I can use the Planar Ally spell ta ask Thor ta send one o' 'is Astral Devas ta guard the Gate fer a week or two. If we hold it 'til dawn, I can cast it five or six times inna row.
    (D): I can use the Planar Ally spell to ask Thor to send one of his Astral Devas to guard the Gate for a week or two. If we hold it until dawn, I can cast it five or six times in a row.
    Roy: With some time to really plan and a room full of Celestials playing goalie, we should have no trouble finding V and finishing the Guild.
    Durkon: It'll cost me a wee bit o' XP ta summon so many, but it be worth it.
    (D): It'll cost me a little XP to summon so many, but it's worth it.
    Haley: Don't they have their own cleric now, though? Couldn't he zap the devas back home?
    Durkon: Tha depends on how strong tha priest is.
    (D): That depends on how strong the priest is.
    Haley: How about, "As strong as Malack." Because, you know, it's probably Malack.
    Durkon: Nay, I dinnae believe tha. Malack'd ne'er work wit Nale, lass.
    (D): No, I don't believe that. Malack would never work with Nale, lass.
    Haley: We would've said the same thing about Tarquin.
    Durkon: This be diff'rent. Nale murdered 'is children!
    (D): This is different. Nale murdered his children!
    Haley: Fine, then there's some Mystery Cleric who joined the Linear Guild at the exact same time as Tarquin, but is somehow totally not Tarquin's cleric bestie. Got it. The point remains that he—or she, gosh!—could probably banish any magical backup you summoned.
    Roy: A spellcaster banishing monsters is a spellcaster who's not killing us. I'll take two, thanks. None of this matters if we don't get to the Gate before they do, so let's move.
    Durkon: Roy, lad…ye know e'en a gaggle o' angels'll be nae more'n a speed bump ta Xykon, right?
    (D): Roy, lad…you know even a great number of angels will be no more than a speed bump to Xykon, right?
    (D): I know. One villain at a time. The good news is that we should have some time before—
    Niu: --Resistance crushed. Ho Thanh is dead. Xykon has phylactery, is likely on the move.
    Hinjo: Twelve Gods…Fall back to camp!
    Azurite Soldier: But Lord Hinjo—
    Hinjo: NOW!
    Carrion Crawler 1: Uh, hello? We're sorta in the middle of something here?
    Carrion Crawler 2: I guess their fancy internal skeletons don't support basic manners.

    Spoiler: Strip 866
    Complex Math
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius

    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius? Running away doesn't solve anything! Except maybe problems related to how quickly you get somewhere, in which case flying is still better. There you are. You seem to have calmed down.
    Vaarsuvius: I have had time to think. I now await the abomination my deeds have spawned.
    Blackwing: It's not that kind of undead. It's just a mummy. It didn't even follow us down here. Wherever "here" is.
    Vaarsuvius: More's the pity, then. My doom at the hands of a legitimate revenant would have provided some small token of cosmic justice.
    Blackwing: Let's get back to the others and—
    Vaarsuvius: Three children. Did you notice? Three children, borne to a human mother.
    Blackwing: Well, I'm surprised you correctly identified her gender, but other than that—
    Vaarsuvius: A casual mating might lead a draconic mother to lay a clutch of three eggs at once, but a human is unlikely to bear triplets. If the pair conceived three offspring together, that implies a stable partnership over several years.
    Blackwing: Oh, I see where this is going. Do you really need to be adding more guilt sauce to your failure casserole? That dragon died years ago, according to the chart. Plus, being in a long-term relationship doesn't make you not Evil—just ask Elan's brother.
    Vaarsuvius: Perhaps, but that is not the point at which I am getting. Until this moment, my mind had never considered that any of the dragons that I slew were anything but ravenous killers. Can I be certain though? Can I be sure that not one found a more peaceful existence? They were mortals with free will, after all—no matter how few chose to exercise it.
    Blackwing: I guess not, but…think of how much good you did by killing all the bad ones!
    Vaarsuvius: A few must fall for the Greater Good? Tarquin would concur, and heartily. Perhaps by some cold calculus, the net benefit of villains lost to innocents sacrificed may ultimately prove beneficial to the world. I can never know. But that would in no way lift the burden of the deed from my conscience, nor should it. The judgment was never mine to make! By my actions, my arrogance, and my ignorance, I am thrice-damned!!
    Blackwing: OK, now, you're just being completely ridiculous! If anything, you'd be sextuple-damned. You know, 'cause you sold your soul three times and all.
    Vaarsuvius: GAAAAGH!!!
    Blackwing: Wait—unless it's multiplicative. Then we're looking at nine times, minimum.

    Spoiler: Strip 867
    The First Title Also Still Applies
    Belkar, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Hellhound, Roy

    Roy: Huh. Left corridor, right corridor, or big door in the middle.
    Haley: Obvious door is obvious. I say we turn right.
    Roy: True, but it may not have been when this place was all glamered up.
    Haley: Maybe you're right. It's covered in magical runes and stuff, but they're hard to see. Not showy enough to be a deliberate decoy.
    Roy: Can you disarm them? You know, without a hapless kobold to kill?
    Belkar: If not, I think Nale has a spare I can go get.
    Haley: Whoa…it's complicated. All these traps are set to trigger if any one of them is disarmed. I need to block the connections before I can…Give me a boost, I think I need to start from the top.
    Durkon: Guidance.
    (D): Guidance.
    Haley: OK, if I break this line here…And scratch that there…
    Elan: <singing> Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle around with really complex stuff!
    <sfx> poof!
    Hellhound: GRRAAWRR!
    Haley: Oops.
    Roy: Haley!
    Haley: Hey, I disarmed the one that would have given it Stoneskin and Haste!
    Belkar: You guys keep working. This is exactly why Team Player Belkar was all the way in the back. Potential blast radius had nothing to do with it at all.
    <sfx> WOOOSHH!
    Belkar: Ha! Missed us, fleabag! "Hello, welcome to Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick. May I take your order?" I'll take TWO—with extra relish!
    <sfx> shthunk! shthunk!
    Haley: No, Roy—don't move! The tool is touching a Meteor Swarm rune!!
    Elan: <singing> Stay, stay, stay, stay still or we're all toast anyway!
    Haley: Don't worry, Roy! As soon as this dog stops running, I'll kill it back to Hell!
    Roy: Belkar! Come on! We can't split the—I mean, we specifically named a book after this, for crying out loud!
    Elan: "Snips, Snails, and—?"
    Haley: Not that one, honey.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2018-08-24 at 02:35 PM. Reason: making minor corrections
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    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  12. - Top - End - #192
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 868 to 886
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 868
    Unleash the Fury
    Belkar, Mr. Scruffy

    Belkar: Stupid giant hellhound! Why does no one ever breed Abyssal shih tzus or Tarterus pugs? Or Pandemonium chihuahuas? Actually, I think all chihuahuas may be Pandemonium chihuahuas.
    <sfx> click!
    Belkar: Crap!
    <sfx> SHTHNKK! thnk!! thnk!! thnk!! POOF!
    Belkar: Unnnh. You OK?
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow!
    Belkar: OK. Let's get back to the others before they totally freak. "Oh, Belkar, you were out of our sight for 4.3 nanoseconds, how many people did you murder?" None, thanks. And I find it offensive that you would think anyone could bleed out that fast. Wait—did we come down this ramp, or that one? Ugh, I can't even pick up our own scent with the stench of those corpses all over the place. Wait—do you hear that? Someone's coming. Someone in robes, sounds like.
    Mr. Scruffy:Meow! Meow! Meow!
    Belkar: Ha! This is perfect. Oh man, Roy's gonna have to admit that I'm a valuable part of the team when he finds out we found Vaarsuvius and reunited the party! I can't wait to see his face! No way he ever saw THIS one coming!

    Spoiler: Strip 869
    Lesson Fail
    Belkar, Malack

    Belkar: What the—? You're not an elf at all!
    Malack: Nor have I ever been mistaken for one.
    Belkar: You're Tarquin's bud, right? Linear-Guild-ing it up after all. Is Nale back there? 'Cause I was right in the middle of totally killing him.
    Malack: Hrrrm. Now, I am torn. On one claw, you oppose my longtime friend and ally, Tarquin. But on the other, you also oppose the slayer of my kin.
    Belkar: Also, creepy reptile dudes sneaking up on me. I oppose that so hard.
    Malack: I could let you live—in the hopes that you will complete your task and end Nale's life in a manner in which I will not be directly responsible. But no. That is not Lord Nergal's way. My god teaches me to kill that which I would see dead. Not to send proxies in my stead. Thus, your life has little value to me.
    Belkar: Yeah? Well, your life is strictly bargain bin material too, but you don't hear me droning on about it.
    Malack: Excellent. Then we understand one another.
    Belkar: Two men enter, one dashingly handsome halfling leaves. I've got bad news for you, pal. Thanks to Mr. Scruffy, I finally get why Roy and those guys are always trying to defend other people. Because now, I have someone worth fighting for. And if there's one thing I know for sure—it's that guys who spout corny lines like, "I have someone worth fighting for," always win for some weird reason. Halfling rage att—
    Malack: Hold Person.
    <sfx> bonk!
    Malack: Hrrrm. Typical.

    Spoiler: Strip 870
    Death in the Family
    Malack, Mr. Scruffy

    Mr. Scruffy: HISSSSSS!!! scrtchh! scrtchh! scrtchh! scrtchh!
    Malack: I have no quarrel with you, feline.
    Mr. Scruffy: Mrrow?!
    Malack: You are a faithful servant, as am I. Upon your master, I visit the blessings of my own. May your next not lead you to such dangerous places as this.
    Mr. Scruffy: rrrrr!
    Malack: Although…I must confess that seeing Tarquin interact with his sons has put me in a reflective frame of mind. I do miss the company of others of my own ilk. Perhaps I have been too inflexible in the past. Perhaps Tarquin, fool though he can be, has been correct this whole time. Perhaps I SHOULD make more children.
    <sfx> SCKLTHNK!

    Spoiler: Strip 871
    Just a Couple of Blooddrinkers
    Durkon, Malack

    Durkon: Mass Death Ward.
    Malack: Brother Thundershield
    Durkon: Put tha halflin' down, Malack. An I think I be no brother o' yers. I decide to help me leader an' come down after our teammate, an THIS is wha I find? A vampire?!? How can ye be a vampire, Malack?? I sat wit ye on yer terrace in tha midday sun!
    (D): Put the hafling down, Malack. And I think I am no brother of yours. I decide to help my leader and come down after our teammate, and THIS is what I find? A vampire?!? How can you be a vampire, Malack?? I sat with you on your terrace in the midday sun!
    Malack: I researched a Protection from Daylight spell years ago and cast it each morning. It's the main reason I collected such an extensive magical library for you to use in the first place.
    Durkon: Ye lied ta me!
    (D): You lied to me!
    Malack: I withheld information, as did you regarding your connection to Tarquin's son.
    Durkon: Thar hardly tha same.
    (D): They're hardly the same.
    Malack: That is certainly one way to look at it. Frankly, I assumed my lack of body heat would have given it away before this point.
    Durkon: I just thought yer cold 'cause reptiles're coldblooded.
    (D): I just thought you were cold because reptiles are coldblooded.
    Malack: Actually, when active, exorthermic organisms like lizards have comparable body temperatures to—
    Malack: Brother Thundershield, I understand that this can be unsettling for the living. That's why I kept my condition private. But nothing has really changed since our engaging discussions. I am still the same man who offered you guidance and friendship.
    Durkon: Are ye mad?? Ev'rythin's changed! Yer an undead monster tha drinks tha blood o' tha innocent!
    (D): Are you mad?? Everything's changed! You're an undead monster that drinks the blood of the innocent!
    Malack: Not true. I take my daily nourishment from those the Empire executes in the course of its regular business. Strictly speaking, they have all been found guilty. And even then, a great deal goes to waste every day.
    Durkon: Do ye think tha makes it OK? Ye help run tha Empire, Malack! Just 'cause yer lackeys do tha killin' fer ye dinnae mean yer any less responsible fer tha—Wait—tha tea? Och, Good Thor, tha bloodwart tea I drank?
    (D): Do you think that makes it OK? You help run the Empire, Malack! Just because your lackeys do the killing for you doesn't mean you're any less responsible for the—Wait—the tea? Oh, Good Thor, the bloodwart tea I drank?
    Malack: Was made of blood and warts. You're thinking of bloodwort, with an "o."

    Spoiler: Strip 872
    Concession Stand
    Durkon, Malack

    Malack: Let us not be rash. I have no interest in quarreling with you. If the Halfling is your friend, I will leave him be.
    Durkon: It dinnar matter wheth'r 'e's me friend or na! E's a livin' soul, an' I am ta keep 'im tha way. Or, if'n he dies, at least na let 'im wake up wit crazy evil vampire powers, too. Och, could ye imagine? Tha li'l bugger's bad enough already.
    (D): It doesn't matter whether he's my friend or not! He's a living soul, and I aim to keep him that way. Or if he dies, at least not let him wake up with crazy evil vampire powers, too. Could you imagine? That little bugger's bad enough already.
    Malack: Either way. The important point is, there's no reason for the two of us to not settle any differences we have like civilized adults. I suggest a truce between us—we agree not to harm each other should our two teams come into conflict again.
    Durkon: I cannae agree to tha, Malack. I cannae stand by twiddlin' me thumbs if'n ye attack me friends.
    (D): I cannot agree to that, Malack. I cannot stand by twiddling my thumbs if you attack my friends.
    Malack: Then let us both withdraw from the field of battle. You and I can retire to a safe distance and allow the struggle between Tarquin and his son to reach its natural end.
    Durkon: Nay! I cannae abandon me friends, either! How could I leave in good conscience, knowin' thar in harm's way?
    (D): No! I cannot abandon my friends, either! How could I leave in good conscience, knowing they're in harm's way?
    Malack: Hrrrm. Then simply convince your team leader to withdraw your whole team to safety. I am sure I can persuade Tarquin to let them go if they no longer stand in his way.
    Durkon: An' leave this pyramid in tha hands of villains like Tarquin an' Nale? Ne'er!
    (D): And leave this pyramid in the hands of villains like Tarquin and Nale? Never!
    Malack: I'm trying to find a compromise between our positions, Brother Thundershield, but you're not making it very—
    Durkon: Thar be no compromise! Thar be no parley an' thar be no reasonable discussions! Yer a frickin' vampire, Malack! Yer a danger ta everyone livin' on this continent! An' e'en if'n I ignor'd tha, ye still cannae be 'llowed ta seize this place!
    (D): There is no compromise! There is no parley and there are no reasonable discussions! You're a ******* vampire, Malack! You're a danger to everyone living on this continent! And even if I ignored that, you still cannot be allowed to seize this place!
    Malack: …I see. Then there can only ever be conflict between us now.
    Durkon: Aye. 'Fraid so.
    (D): Yes. I'm afraid so.
    Malack: Then die.

    Spoiler: Strip 873
    Spell Check
    Durkon, Malack

    Malack: Quickened Inflict Light Wounds.
    <sfx> fizzzz!
    Durkon: Och, really? That's yer openin' spell?
    (D): Oh, really? That's your opening spell?
    Malack: I needed to see if you remembered to target yourself with your Mass Death Ward as well. You did. Unfortunate. No matter. Flame Strike!
    Durkon: I warded tha cat, too, in case yer wonderin'. Turn Undead!!
    (D): I warded the cat, too, in case you're wondering. Turn Undead!!
    Malack: Bolster Undead. At least Tarquin's not here to make a crack about me going blind from bolstering myself.
    Durkon: Thor's Lightning!!
    Malack: Rrrrgh! A 3rd-level spell, already? How many spells did you need to cast to find this place, Durkon?
    Durkon: Mind yer own spell slots, Malack.
    (D): Mind your own spell slots, Malack.
    Malack: Greater Dispel Magic. Grrrrr!
    Durkon: Ha! Guess ye should spent less time studyin' an' more time adventurin'!
    (D): Ha! Guess you should have spent less time studying and more time adventuring!
    Malack: It is fairly difficult for a vampire cleric to find appropriate challenges.
    <sfx> woosh! woosh!
    Malack: But my condition has other benefits, I assure you. Poison!
    Durkon: So does bein' a dwarf. Tastes like me mum's crabapple cobbler! An' fer tha record, I was savin' me best spell fer when you came back in touch range. HEAL!
    (D): So does being a dwarf. Tastes like my mom's crabapple cobbler! And for the record, I was saving my best spell for when you came back in touch range. HEAL!
    Malack: ARRRRGHHGH!

    Spoiler: Strip 874
    Allies Like This
    Durkon, Hel, Malack, Mr. Scruffy, Thor

    Durkon: Surrender, Malack.
    Malack: So you can destroy me?
    Durkon: So I can Resurrect ye. I'm sure tha livin' Malack would—
    (D): So I can Resurrect you. I'm sure the living Malack would—
    Malack: I had a different name when I was alive—200 years ago. I was the ignorant barbarian shaman of a tribe that no longer exists. Bringing me back to life is just a complicated way of annihilating the person I am today. Save your diamond dust and stake me instead.
    Durkon: If'n ye get back here, I can arrange tha fer ye!...Malack? Crud. E's either gone ta heal his wounds, or ta fetch tha rest o' the Guild. We gotta get back ta Roy either way. Remove Paralysis.
    (D): If you get back here, I can arrange that for you!...Malack? Crud. He's either gone to heal his wounds, or to fetch the rest of the Guild. We have to get back to Roy either way. Remove Paralysis.
    Durkon: Hold Person!!
    Malack: You don't spend time with a general of Tarquin's calibre without learning a few things about attrition.
    Durkon: Cure Critical Wounds.
    Malack: Your three spells spent to my vampiric gaze—which is unlimited, even if it only works on the weak-willed. (Harm.)
    Durkon: Weak-willed…Och, tha describes half tha party. I dinnae suppose ye can fetch just Roy fer me, kitty?
    (D): Weak-willed…that describes half the party. I don't suppose you can fetch just Roy for me, kitty?
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow?
    Durkon: Nay…I cannae risk any o'em gettin' dominated or vamped. Cure Moderate Wounds. Thor, if'n ye have any ideas on how ta beat this vampire by meself witout losin' any o' me friends, I'm listenin'…Thor?
    (D): No…I can't risk any of them getting dominated or vamped. Cure Moderate Wounds. Thor, if you have any ideas on how to beat this vampire by myself without losing any of my friends, I'm listening…Thor?
    Hel: Infection! She's mine!
    Thor: From a splinter that she got bravely fighting an elm!
    Hel: Trees are inanimate plants, you buffoon!
    Thor: Bravery knows no limits!!

    Spoiler: Strip 875
    Calm, Orderly, and Efficient
    Durkon, Malack

    Durkon: OK, Durkon. No answer. Tha's OK. Ye can do this. Roof's too low ta use Thor's Might…an' I dinnae haf tha ten minutes 'twould take ta call the Deva. Which leaves me wit naught above 4th level…na good. I cannae wait 'im out forever…me Hold Person'll wear off, an' then I'll be fightin' 'im an' Belkar both. I need ta flush 'im out from 'is hidin' spot…Wha would Roy do? Och, I got it! Hey, Malack! I noticed ye ne'er suggested tha ye an' Tarquin an' tha rest o' tha Linear Guild retreat an' leave this place ta us. I'm guessin' it's 'cause ye know yer buddy'd ne'er agree ta givin' up tha prize on yer say-so, aye? Cure Light Wounds. So I was just wonderin'…wha's tha difference 'tween ye an' just 'nother zombie, marchin' along ta yer human master's orders?
    (D): OK, Durkon. No answer. That's OK. You can do this. Roof's too low to use Thor's Might…and I don't have the ten minutes it would take to call the Deva. Which leaves me with nothing above 4th level…not good. I can't wait him out forever…my Hold Person will wear off, and then I'll be fighting both him and Belkar. I need to flush him out from his hiding spot…What would Roy do? I've got it! Hey, Malack! I noticed you never suggested that you and Tarquin and the rest of the Linear Guild retreat and leave this place to us. I'm guessing it's because you know your buddy would never agree to giving up the prize on your say-so, yes? Cure Light Wounds. So I was just wondering…what's the difference between you and just another zombie, marching along to your human master's orders?
    Malack: A futile effort to taunt me, Durkon. But out of respect for our friendship, I will answer. The contrast is one of will. I willingly subordinate myself f or a higher purpose. My friendship with Tarquin and the others is, ultimately, a passing phase of my long existence. They are all past the prime of their short lives; in 30 or 40 years, at most, I will inherit a unified continent for my god. That is when my true work will begin. A thousand will be sacrificed to Nergal's glory each day in an orderly regime of destruction. I'm thinking of developing some sort of special chamber by then to make the process more efficient than Tarquin's silly arena.
    Durkon: So it's ye usin' Tarquin, 'stead o' the other way 'round? Divine Favor. Bet he wouldnae be happy ta hear ye say so.
    (D): So it's you using Tarquin, instead of the other way around? Divine Favor. Bet he wouldn't be happy to hear you say so.
    Malack: Actually, we've discussed it at length. He's thrilled that what he builds now will endure past his death. I did have to promise him an even bigger statue, though. At any rate, your original query was moot. Living or dead, we are all of us marching to our orders—you no less than I, Durkon. It does not matter whence those orders came, be it man or god. Our place is as an obedient slave to those who command us. Through service, we are rewarded. That is the true natural order. Only fools like Nale resist.
    Durkon: Mebbe—but at least Nale keeps movin' around when 'e starts with tha pontificatin'!!
    (D): Maybe—but at least Nale keeps moving around when he starts with the pontificating!!
    <sfx> WHAM!!

    Spoiler: Strip 876
    Durkon, Malack

    Durkon: If'n I cannae beat ye wit spells, I'll just smash yer fanged face in til yer a puff o' smoke!!
    (D): If I cannot beat you with spells, I'll just smash your fanged face in til you're a puff of smoke!!
    Malack: You cannot destroy me that way, Durkon!
    Durkon: Aye, but I can send ye back ta yer coffin. Good enuff!
    (D): Yes, but I can send you back to your coffin. Good enough!
    Malack: If you wish to end this with crass physical violence, I will oblige. Divine Power!
    <sfx> woosh!
    Durkon: Och! Get off, ye—
    (D): Oh! Get off, you—
    Malack: Tarquin has also taught me a variety of exotic holding techniques. Undignified, to be sure, but you will not escape.
    Durkon: Aye, alright. Ye got me wrapped up good. But what're ye gonna do now, Malack? Neither one o' us can cast spells grapplin, an' thanks ta me Death Ward, yer dreaded vampire bite's little more'n a tickle.
    (D): Yes, alright. You have me wrapped up well. But what are you going to do now, Malack? Neither one of us can cast spell while grappling, and thanks to my Death Ward, your dreaded vampire bite's little more than a tickle.
    Malack: You are correct about your ward. The fruit of our joint labor is quite a powerful spell. Normally, I would simply hold you until it expired, but the proximity of your allies makes that infeasible. But let me ask you a philosophical question: What sort of man would help someone he just met develop a means to shield a large group of people from himself? At least, without sneaking in a back door, just in case? "Xxzerkqei."
    Durkon: Och! Me spell! Ye dismissed it?!? How—
    (D): My spell! You dismissed it?!? How—
    Malack: My aid is mine to give—or withdraw—as I see fit. Now, let's see if we can't reach some sort of compromise after all.

    Spoiler: Strip 877
    The Bright Side

    <sfx> slllrpp!
    Durkon: Get yer fangs outta me, ye treacherous snake! Aaarch! Belkar! Belkar, ye damned fool, break tha charm! I c'n still release ye from tha paralysis if'n ye just fight 'is domination! Och, ne'er mind. Na yer fault, lad. 'Twere silly o' me ta be countin' on ye ta begin with. Och, Thor…I guess yer na listenin' either, but it's OK. I know this's part o' yer plan, right? I hope this's part o' yer plan. Gnnnnrgh! GRRRNH! Malack! Listen ta me. I know ye dinnae owe me anythin' anymore, but if'n ye e'er really cared aboot any o' it—if'n it weren't just some villain trick ta sabotage me spell…—then let me friends go. Dinnae kill them too. Tha's me last request. Tha's all tha matters. Thar young an' mostly a gods-awful mess inside, but they got too much worth livin' fer still. More'n me, at least. I'm na worried aboot me anymore, see…na really…I get ta go home.
    (D): Get your fangs out of me, you treacherous snake! Aaarch! Belkar! Belkar, you damned fool, break the charm! I can still release you from the paralysis if you just fight his domination! Never mind. It's not your fault, lad. It was silly of me to be counting on you to being with. Thor…I guess you're not listening either, but it's OK. I know this is part of your plan, right? I hope this is part of your plan. Gnnnnrgh! GRRNH! Malack! Listen to me. I know you don't owe me anything anymore, but if you ever really cared about any of it—if it wasn’t just some villain trick to sabotage my spell…—then let my friends go. Don't kill them too. That's my last request. That's all that matters. They're young and mostly a gods-awful mess inside, but they have too much worth living for still. More than me, at least. I'm not worried about myself anymore, see…not really…I get to go home.

    Spoiler: Strip 878
    Little Brother
    Durkon, Malack

    Malack: I suppose I always knew it would come to this. I see so clearly now why Tarquin's advice never sat well with me. It is not the parent-child relationship I long for these days—it is that of the colleague. No—the sibling. I had seven brothers once, you know. In that dim other life so long past. I remember the taste of their blood far more vividly than any fraternal bond, though. How strange that I should seek it out once more. Sadly, three days in the grave is time we do not have, refreshing though it is. My staff contains many obscure spell that I unearthed in the course of my research, though—including one to hasten the process. Rise, Brother Thundershield. Rise and seek the blood of the living!
    Durkon: RRAARGHH!!

    Spoiler: Strip 879
    [URL=]Running on Empty
    Belkar, Vampire Durkon, Malack, Mr. Scruffy

    Vampire Durkon: I HUNGER FOR BLOOD, MASTER!
    Malack: Then drink from the halfling. But do not drain his last drop. Also, use your inside voice. You will feel more like yourself once I release you from my thrall—but I worry that doing so now would be…confusing for you. And you are vulnerable, as you do not yet have your own sarcophagus to which you may retreat. Once we all return to Bleedingham, I will relinquish my control over you so that we may once again engage as peers. Until then, you will help us achieve our goals as my servant. As for you, halfling…I spare your life and release you from my dominion. My final token to the Durkon that was. I strongly recommend that you take your cat and your allies and leave here as soon as you can move again. Come my thrall. Let us find Tarquin so that we may be done with this place. I do not care to linger where tragedy visited a friend.
    Vampire Durkon: Yes, Master.
    Mr. Scruffy: meow?
    Belkar: GAAAH!!
    Mr. Scruffy: mrowr!
    Belkar: Scruffy! Are you—I can't—what just—
    Mr. Scruffy: purrrrrrr!
    Belkar: How the hell does Durkon get killed and I'm still alive?!? We gotta tell Roy! Come on, I saw which tunnel Durkon came down, we can—Unnnhhhh…
    <sfx> thunk!
    Belkar: —crawl. Crawling is still going forward, right? Right.

    Spoiler: Strip 880
    [URL=]Getting the Message
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Roy

    Haley: Annnnnd…DONE! Ha! Me 1, Inanimate objects 0!
    Roy: Good, because my leg fell asleep like five minutes ago.
    Elan: Hey Roy, shouldn't Durkon and Belkar be back by now?
    Roy: Yeah…he should have. I doubt he ran into the LG going down, but he might've sprung a trap. I knew I shouldn't have let him go when he asked. Now we have to look for him, too.
    Haley: At least we haven't heard any explosions.
    Roy: True. Come on, leave the door for now and let's find out what happened to—
    Belkar: Durkon…He—unnhh…
    Roy: Belkar! What happened? Is it Xykon?? Belkar, where's Durkon? What happened? Does he need us??
    Belkar: He…it was the lizard guy. The cleric, Elan's dad's friend.
    Haley: Malack? You guys fought Malack?? I knew that guy was bad news!
    Belkar: Yeah. Only I didn't do much fighting. Paralyzed me right away and Durkon…he fought him one-on-one. And lost. Unnh…so woozy…
    Roy: Lost? What do you mean, "lost"? Did he get paralyzed too?
    Haley: Oh gods, is Durkon—did Malack kill him??
    Belkar: …Sorta.
    Roy: How the hell do you "sorta" kill someone?
    Belkar: Turns out that Malack is a vampire. He got Durkon in a grapple and started drinking. Let's just say that this time, when Durkon turned undead…he really turned undead. Durkon's a vampire now.
    Haley: *gasp!*
    Elan: No!!
    Roy: …You're unbelievable. This is your sick idea of a joke, isn't it?
    Belkar: What? No!
    Roy: Make up some story about Durkon dying so you can laugh at us for caring?
    Belkar: It's not a story, it's what—
    Roy: Is this why you've been pretending to be part of the team, so we'd believe you?
    Belkar: No, I've been doing it to get you off my damn back!
    Roy: Where's Durkon really? Is he in trouble? Are you stalling us so that we can't save him?
    Belkar: I already told you, you lunatic! The lizard sucked his blood and turned him into a vampire! Then they split together.
    Roy: You're LYING!
    Belkar: I have the bite marks to prove it, jackass! One set from each of them!
    Roy: I shouldn't wait for some prophecy. I should just finish you off myself before you stupid antics really DO get one of us killed!
    Elan: Whoa, Roy!!
    Belkar: How could this possibly be a joke? Where's the punchline? I know you're the straight man around here, so telling jokes isn't really your area of expertise. But trust me, there's nothing funny about it. He just walked in there and saved my life and got straight up murdered for it.
    Roy: Why would have fought a vampire cleric alone, huh? Why didn't he come get us?
    Belkar: To protect you, moron! To keep the vampire from dominating you into killing each other!! The last thing he said? He asked Lizard Vampire Guy to spare the rest of you. Said all that mattered was that you were safe.
    Haley: Roy…I think he might be telling the truth.
    Roy: Why? Just because he looks half dead himself?
    Haley: No—because I don't think Belkar's capable of inventing someone doing that.

    Spoiler: Strip 881
    [URL=]Temporary Weakness
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Roy

    Roy: He's really dead, then? He's really a…a vampire?
    Belkar: Yeah. Really-really. Filled up his tank on my blood before he took off with Malack.
    Roy: This is it, isn't it? This is us losing. This is what us losing looks like.
    Haley: Roy, it's OK. It'll be OK. I went through the same thing when Xykon killed you. It seems really bad, but we can fix it.
    Roy: Oh yeah? Can you resurrect people?? Because I can't! I wonder if anyone we know can—oh! Durkon can. Maybe we can ask him nicely if he'd like to drive a stake through his own heart for us, too.
    Haley: He's not the only cleric in the world, Roy.
    Roy: He might as well be! You searched for one who could do it for months and came up empty. We don't have months, Haley. We don't have days. Hell, we might not even have hours. The Linear Guild is breathing down our neck, and Xykon is going to be right behind them, as soon as he finds his phylactery. And as of right now, we don't even have any spellcasters!
    Elan: Roy, I'm a spellcaster.
    Roy: YOU DON'T COUNT!! And if Durkon is a vampire now, the goddamn Linear Guild is stronger than ever. If we manage to destroy their high-level vampire cleric, they can just be like, "Oh, no problem—we have a spare!" This whole mission is a total disaster. Why did I think I could do this? I hear the world needs saving, and I just assume that I'm the guy to do it? Who does that? What kind of ego trip was I on? Maybe…we should retreat. Try to get the word out about what's going on and let someone more qualified handle it. At this point, we're probably going to all die here if we keep going—looking for some stupid gate in the middle of nowhere. And I led you here. I led Durkon to his doom. You were all better off when I was still dead.
    Belkar: Hey, uh, quick question: If I'm experiencing intense nausea right now, do you think that's due to the blood loss—or because your whining is making me want to puke?
    Haley: Belkar, I don't think this is the best time for—
    Belkar: No, no, I think I have something to say to Captain Wallow-Pants here. Do you have any idea how bloody useless we were while you were taking your dirt nap? The redhead can't lead anyone out of a wet paper bag, and I almost vomited myself to death because you weren't there to keep me from doing something stupid. And the other half was just as bad, from what I hear. Elan couldn't see past some lame subplot, Durkon sat on his thumbs, and I think the elf almost went nuts. So you're gonna ***** out now and "sound the alarm?" Sure, whatever. I mean, that bell got rung when a billion hobgoblins stomped up and down on Hinjo's face. I don't hear the cavalry yet. The get-the-hell-out-of-here part, though I can get behind. Try to lay low. Bet you can hide on your ditzy girlfriend's cloud. Bring your sister, too. And hey, maybe some other hero will pop out of nowhere to stop this Snarl thing at the last minute. Who knows? It would probably make a better story than this one. Of course, it would mean that your best friend got horribly killed for absolutely no damn reason at all. Me, I'm a heartless little bastard. I can shrug that kind of thing off. But you seem like maybe that might bother you at some point down the road.
    Roy: You—You of all people—You have no right to—Fine. We keep going. Haley, look for traps. You two, behind us.
    Haley: What are we going to do if we find—
    Roy: I don't know yet! I'll think of something on the way. Now MOVE!!
    Elan: Geez, Belkar, I can't believe you said all that to Roy. Don't you think it was a little harsh?
    Belkar: Isn't that why you losers keep me around? Hurting people is the only thing I'm good at.

    Spoiler: Strip 882
    It's a Boy!
    Vampire Durkon, Kilkil, Malack, Nale, Tarquin

    Tarquin: Ah, Malack! I was starting to get worried.
    Malack: Concern is not necessary. I was delayed by an unexpected conflict that became an opportunity.
    Tarquin: Oh, I see! And who's this little guy? Are you a new vampire baby? Are you? I think you are!
    Vampire Durkon: Grrrrr…
    Tarquin: I think he has your eyes, Malack. Or someone's, at least.
    Nale: Durkon? You vampirized Durkon?? That's hilarious!!
    Malack: It is unfortunate that we could not see eye-to-eye. I see no humor.
    Nale: That's because you're an uptight corpse-in-the-mud.
    Malack: Do not think for one moment that my decision to sire again in any way ameliorates my wrath over my previous spawns.
    Nale: Never crossed my mind. Just try to keep this one out of my way.
    <sfx> sszzzzz!
    Vampire Durkon: Haarrgh! The sun! It burnsss!!
    Malack: Of course it does. That is why we do not go into it without our abjurations. Protection from Daylight.
    Tarquin: Heh heh, children. You know, Malack and his new spawn are a lot like you and me when you were young.
    Nale: A shriveled heartless snake too stupid to know he should have been buried years ago—
    Tarquin: —and an easily-controlled leech whose parasitic existence evokes once-cherished relationship that died painfully.
    KilKil: Oh, that reminds me, sir: Your Father of the Year plaque came in the mail last week.
    Tarquin: Ah, thank you, Chancellor. Hang it with all the others. But turning back to the matter at hand, we may safely conclude that Elan's team now knows of Malack's vampirism.
    KilKil: Sir?
    Tarquin: Well, we're standing around talking about it openly, aren't we? If the protagonists didn't know Malack's secret, we'd still be speaking far more circumspectly about his "condition" and such—despite the fact that everyone in the room already knew.
    KilKil: Oh! You mean like how we're conspicuously avoiding discussing the fact that before we left the city, you—
    Tarquin: Now you're getting it!

    Spoiler: Strip 883
    Fiend Swap
    Blackwing, Vampire Durkon, Kilkil, Malack, Nale, Qarr, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius, Zz'dtri

    Malack: At any rate—yes, they know. The Halfling was there but…escaped. But he is weakened by blood loss and energy drain. I doubt he poses much threat.
    Nale: Even better! With Durkon turned and Belkar crippled, they're fighting at 2/3rds power!
    Tarquin: One-half, perhaps. The elf wizard was present for neither of our two skirmishes, at least as far as I could see. And I can see far. Nale, I think it's about time I give you the chance to see how you lead a team on your own.
    Nale: I'm already the leader of this team.
    Tarquin: Oh, right. Well, even more so, then. You have two vampire clerics and a wizard here—more than enough to clear the board of your brother's remaining pawns. They must be pretty close to finding the target by now, so just shadow them until you can snatch it. Just don't get cocky. This is your chance to impress me with what you've learned during your time abroad. Kilkil, you stay up here with me.
    KilKil: Yes, General.
    Malack: Tarquin, I—
    Tarquin: Business, Malack. I'll catch up when we're done.
    Nale: This is it, Z. The Linear Guild is strong enough to defeat the Order of the Stick, and we've finally shaken that ridiculous "evil opposites" theme. Just four spellcasters under my command, crushing them with magical power. Though I admit, I don't look forward to Greenhilt swinging away in my face. Z, summon a fiend to serve as a meat shield.
    Vampire Durkon: Master, may I also summon a fiend to help?
    (D): Master, may I also summon a fiend to help?
    Malack: Anything that hastens this tiresome struggle's overdue conclusion is welcome.
    <sfx> poof! poof!
    Zz’dtri: Two fiends lost. Two gained.
    Nale: Hardly a fit comparison. Sabine is an integral part of this team and a tireless champion of Evil—
    <sfx> clik! clik! clik!
    Nale: —while that lame imp familiar of yours couldn't so much as inconvenience our foes.
    <sfx> pop!
    Qarr: Check it out! It's history's worst mass-murder and his dim-witted bird!
    Blackwing: HEY! History isn't over yet, mister!!
    Vaarsuvius: *sob!*

    Spoiler: Strip 884
    Credits and Deductions
    Blackwing, Qarr, Vaarsuvius

    Vaarsuvius: Begone, imp! Can you not see I have no interest in Nale's foolish games?
    Blackwing: No, wait, Vaarsuvius—I forgot to tell you! He's working for the three fiends! He only pretended to be Zz'dtri's familiar so he could keep an eye on you!
    Qarr: No, no, that's not true!
    Blackwing: Then you ARE in league with the Linear Guild. Where are they?
    Qarr: What? No! I mean—uh—
    Vaarsuvius: Since the archfiends are beyond my reach, I see no reason not to vent my fury at their role in events upon you, then.
    Qarr: Whoa, you've got it all wrong! I've always been on your side! They sent me here—on my own—to, uh, remind you that the Familicide thing wasn't really your fault. Your mind was hooked up directly to three of the most evil spellcasters who ever lived! It's totally understandable that they were able to overwhelm you and force you to do such bad stuff.
    Blackwing: That's…a good point, actually. Who knows what sort of evil mojo they were dumping into your brain?
    Vaarsuvius: It might indeed be some sort of mitigating factor, if it were not wholly untrue.
    Blackwing: Huh?
    Vaarsuvius: Do you not see? If the splice had actually corrupted my thoughts, then the deed would not truly rest on my conscience. It would, however, serve the fiends' interests to lie and make me believe that it did, so as to maximize my suffering and drive me to end my life. Conversely, if the onus of this act sits squarely upon my own brow, then it is still in this imp's interest to lie about it—in the hope that I would die without acknowledgement or repentance of my crime. For there could be no benefit to the fiends in easing my guilt other than to ensure the permanent capture of my soul for the Lower Planes. Thus, by denying my culpability, the imp has instead confirmed it.
    Qarr: Eh, that works too. Mortal misery is still good enough for the silver medal.
    Blackwing: I guess…but something still isn't adding up here. I just can't put my feather on it…
    Qarr: Try not to strain yourself figuring it out, featherhead.
    Vaarsuvius: I should return to the others. Master Thundershield may have successfully raised one of my victims by now. Perhaps I can throw myself upon his or her mercy.
    Blackwing: Plus, if there's even a chance the LG is around, we need to warn—He's not stopping us from going up.
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt must have descended into the pyramid.
    Qarr: Oh, come ON! Now you're just guessing!

    Spoiler: Strip 885
    Silence is Golden (Or At Least Electrum)
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Roy, Xykon

    Elan: Hey Roy, do you think we—
    Roy: No talking.
    Elan: Um, OK, but maybe I can help Haley look for traps by—
    Roy: No singing either.
    Elan: Oh.
    Roy: Haley, are those runes dangerous?
    Haley: Don't think so.
    Roy: What do they do?
    Haley: Beats me. But if they were going to blow up, they'd have done so by now.
    Belkar: Geez, I know this comic can get longwinded, but this is—
    Roy: No breaking the fourth wall!
    Elan: But Roy, you just—
    Roy: Be quiet!
    Belkar: What, we're just going to walk in silence from now on?
    Roy: YES! Yes, we're going to walk in silence from now on!! If we had been standing quietly instead of cracking jokes and playing the lute and whatever else—maybe we would have heard Durkon fighting for his life. Maybe we could have saved him. So if I have to put some goddamn discipline into this team to keep anyone else from getting killed, that's what I'm going to do. No talking, no singing, no joking, and most importantly—no complaining.
    Xykon: Ah, crap. Not THIS guy again.

    Spoiler: Strip 886
    Victory Comes from Within
    Elan, Haley, Redcloak, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Xykon

    Haley: Crap! Crap! Crap!
    Roy: The goblin! Shoot the goblin!
    Xykon: Whoa! Where's the witty hero-villain reparté? What kind of lifeless abomination do you take me for?
    <sfx> slash!
    Elan: <singing> Fight, fight, fight, fight the main villain way before we were expecting it!
    Haley: Sneak attack!
    <sfx> fft! fft! fft! thnk! thnk!
    Xykon: Hey! No one shoots the goblin in the face but me! Energy Drain!
    Roy: Does everyone have to make jokes? Can't you just DIE???
    <Sfx> SCHRTTK!
    Xykon: Hey, I felt that one! I guess you took my advice and leveled up.
    Redcloak: Heal.
    Roy: Then you DO remember me!
    Xykon: When I'm done with you, memories are all that'll be left. Other people's, that is. I'm not going to turn you into, like, some sort of memory spirit or something. Though that sounds pretty metal, actually. I should make someone research it. Meteor Swarm.
    Elan: Roy! Belkar's dead!!
    Roy: Keep fighting! They'll kill us all if we turn and run!
    Xykon: That's actually true.
    Redcloak: Lord Xykon, please don't point out to the scrappy underdogs that they've got nothing left to lose.
    Xykon: Oh, right.
    Elan: Mass Cure Light Wounds!
    Roy: Haley, I have an idea to fight Xykon…or more of a memory. Can you take out the cleric?
    Haley: I'm trying, but he can heal faster than I can hurt him!
    Xykon: Didn't these bozos used to be more of a threat?
    Redcloak: They seem to have lost their main casters. Harm.
    Vaarsuvius: Not lost. Merely misplaced. Forcecage.
    Elan: Vaarsuvius!
    Haley: You're alive!!
    Vaarsuvius: My superior elven hearing led me to believe that you had a stratagem if the cleric became neutralized?
    Xykon: Hey! No one puts the goblin in a confined space but me!
    Redcloak: Sir, you used that line already.
    Roy: OK…This'll work…just like I practiced…Picture the flow of energy around him…and…
    Xykon: Energy—
    <sfx> SLASH! fizzle!
    Xykon: —Drain??
    Roy: It—it worked!
    Xykon: How did you do that?? I was casting defensively!
    Redcloak: He prevented you from doing so by timing his strike to perfectly coincide with the apex of magical energy.
    Xykon: Yeah, but—how?? Meteor—
    <sfx> SLASH! fizzle!
    Xykon:Superb Dis—
    <sfx> SHTHNK! fizzle!
    Xykon: Greater Tele—
    <sfx> SKGURTCH! fizzle!
    Roy: You're done, Xykon! This is for everyone you've ever killed, from my dad's master to the Sapphire Guard to Dorukan—
    Xykon: Wait—Roy—
    Roy: —to me!
    Haley: Holy…
    Elan: Roy—you did it! You beat him!
    Roy: I—I can't believe it. I really did! I killed Xykon! I KILLED—
    Roy: Xykon… ...Hooray…

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 09:48 AM. Reason: making minor changes
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  13. - Top - End - #193
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 887 to 905
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 887
    Happy Ending

    This strip contains no spoken text.

    Spoiler: Strip 888
    Dream Wedding
    Celia, Child 1, Child 2, Child 3, Durkon, Elan, Malack, Tarquin

    Celia:Are we late yet? Maybe we should fly?
    Roy: Stop worrying. They won't start without us.
    Child 1: Mr. Greenhilt, can I have your autograph?
    Roy: Heh heh, sure. Anything for my fans.
    Child 2: I wanna grow up to be a fighter!
    Child 3: Nuh huh! I'm gonna be the fighter. You have to be a wizard so the party's balanced.
    Child 2: Awwww!
    Durkon: Och, Roy! Celia! O'er here!
    (D): Roy! Celia! Over here!
    Celia:Durkon! Where's the lucky couple? I have something for them.
    Durkon: In tha back. Bride's ta tha left, groom's ta tha right
    (D): In the back. Bride's to the left, groom's to the right.
    Elan: Oh, geez, Dad…I'm so nervous.
    Tarquin: It'll be just fine, Elan. Trust me, I have some experience with these events.
    Elan: But—what if a bad guy bursts in and tries to stop the wedding?
    Tarquin: Son, your Order of the Stick is the most celebrated band of heroes in three generations.
    Elan: Yeah, but—
    Tarquin: Elan, please. Villains know that anyone who tries to ruin the happy ending wedding gets trounced within a few minutes so there's still time to complete the ceremony in the same episode. It's not generally worth the effort.
    Celia: Hope everyone's decent, because I've got paperwork!
    Tarquin: Ah, Miss Celia. Perfect timing.
    Elan: Hi Celia!
    Celia: Sign here…and here. Congratulations, Mr. Tarquin. You are the proud signatory of a legally binding pre-nuptial agreement.
    Tarquin: Excellent! Let's get this wedding started, shall we?
    Malack: And do you, Tarquin, re-take this woman, Elan's Mother, to have and to hold—
    Elan: This is the happiest day of my life.

    Spoiler: Strip 889
    Get Real
    Durkon, Elan, Elan's Mother, Empress of Blood, Haley, Malack, Nale, Roy, Sabine, Tarquin

    Malack: —in hit point loss and ability score gain—whether above or below the wealth-by-level guidelines—for as long as you both shall live?
    Tarquin: I do.
    Malack: Really, this time?
    Tarquin: Really.
    Malack: If there should be any that know of any reason these two should not be joined in sacred matrimony—
    Elan: Don't say anything.
    Malack: —let them speak now or forever hold their peace.
    Nale: I'm not going to.
    Elan: …You're not?
    Nale: No.
    Elan: Why not?
    Nale: What?
    Elan: Why aren't you objecting? What's your scheme?
    Nale: Why would I object?
    Elan: I don't know. There's like a billion reasons.
    Nale: What is your problem? This is what you want, right?
    Elan: Yeah…it is. This is what I've always wanted. But that…That doesn't make it right. STOP! I'm speaking now and forever dropping my peace!
    Tarquin: Elan, while I do appreciate the well-worn cliché of the interrupted ceremony—
    Elan: No, Dad, listen: All of my life, I've always dreamed about you coming back and marrying Mom again. But now that I've met you? You're a terrible person! Mom is better off alone! I get now that the two of you got divorced for actual reasons, and Dad, you haven't changed. Heck, if anything, I think you may have gotten worse! Mom, if I can figure that out, then I know you can, too. So then why are you suddenly getting back together with him now, after all these years?
    Elan's Mother: For you, sweetie. I'm doing it for you.
    Elan: But you got divorced to keep Dad away from me.
    Elan's Mother: …Right.
    Elan: And Nale—you HATE me! And Dad! Why are you just standing there?!?
    Nale: Oh come on. Stop being so melodramatic, Elan. This is just like you, to try to take something and make it all about yourself. Did you ever think that maybe I'm tired of fighting, and I just want to enjoy one day with my family?
    Elan: No, that—that's not how you would react to this. That's how I would want you to react. At the very least, you should be trying to kill me for being chosen Best Man over you!
    Empress of Blood: When do we get to catch the bride? I'm hungry.
    Sabine: After the reception, I think?
    Elan: Roy, Haley—I think this is some sort of fantasy world. I mean a more-fantasy-than-usual world. DOUBLE FANTASY!!
    Haley: Elan, honey, calm down.
    Elan: But guys—don't you see? It's giving us our heart's desires! Or something sorta close.
    Roy: I really have even less idea what you're babbling about than normal.
    Elan: Haley, you liberated Azure City, put your dad in charge of the Thieves' Guild, and got stinking filthy rich in the process. Roy, you beat Xykon, got your dad's approval, and proved to the world that fighters don't suck.
    Roy: So what? We worked hard and achieved our goals. What's wrong with that?
    Elan: Nothing! 'Cause the goals you guys wanted were all pretty good ideas. But half of the stuff I wanted were stupid childish ideas that should never have happened. And they did anyway!! What about Dad's evil empire? Roy, don't you find it weird that after we beat Xykon, we just sort of didn't worry about it?
    Roy: Now that you mention it…that is the sort of thing I would normally try to expose.
    Elan: I think that's because deep down, I don't want to have to fight him. But it doesn't matter what I want! It doesn't matter what any of us wants! What's real…is that my family is screwed up and broken. And it's not going to just get magically fixed, ever.
    Durkon: What aboot me, lad? I dinnae get me 'eart's desire. I'm still exiled from me homeland.
    (D): What about me, lad? I didn't get my heart's desire. I'm still exiled from my homeland.
    Elan: Durkon, I'm sorry…but I don't think you're really here. I think you're dead.
    Roy: ELAN!!
    Haley: No, Roy—I think he's right. Remember? Belkar told us about it in the pyramid.
    Roy: Yeah, but that was just a lie Belkar made up. We found Durkon right after Xykon went down…Didn't we?
    Elan: Roy, I don't think Xykon was ever really there. I don't think that fight happened at all. I don't think ANYTHING has really happened for a long time. We still need to finish all the stuff we started.
    Roy: So, what, we're still there? We're not at a wedding, we're just standing around in a dungeon in the middle of the desert? Ah, hell. We are, aren't we?
    Elan: Plus, it woulda been weird for everyone to mention that Girard was into illusions and then not see, like any. Who wastes perfectly good foreshadowing like that?

    Spoiler: Strip 890
    Dream Free
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Mr. Scruffy, Roy

    Roy: Ugh, my head. We've been standing here for at least a few hours.
    Haley: How can you tell?
    Roy: I'm really hungry, but I don't need to shave. I've been trying to notice stuff like that since I got back. These runes must have been cast by Girard himself. My dad talked a lot about illusions over the years, and I've never heard of a phantasm THAT powerful. If the Draketooths were still alive, they would have had no trouble taking us out while we all stood still.
    Elan: Uh, guys—I think some of us are STILL standing still!
    Roy: Huh? Elan broke the illusion's effect, why would Belkar still be trapped?
    Haley: He's probably in a separate dream. One where he doesn't die in the first two minutes. Think about it—Girard thought both the baddies AND the paladins were after his lucky charms. If this is his crazy-ass epic-level Final Boss Illusion, he would've included a way to trap two groups with very different ideas of "happily ever after." The three of us want a lot of the same goals—Xykon beaten, Azure City restored—but Belkar doesn't give a darn about any of those. So the spell must be giving him his own private show.
    Elan: Don't worry, Roy! I can break him out too!
    Roy: How? Are you going to have another breakthrough, like that it's weird to worship your own puppet?
    Elan: Of course not! But I can use my bardic Song of Freedom to break the spell.
    Elan: <singing> FREEDOM!
    Belkar: My gods…it's true…I am being punished for a lifetime of bad deeds—I have to listen to country music!!
    Elan: No, silly. You were trapped in an illusion that gave you a perfect life—and I set you free!
    Belkar: Well, gosh, thanks for bringing me back to this hot dusty stankhole instead of letting me stay in the dream, where I was—
    Roy: Stop right there. I don't think any of us wants to hear the details of whatever awful twisted debauchery you were up to in your own head. I'm sure it involved a lot of stabbing, and whores, and whores stabbing whores who stab whores. But keep it to yourself.
    Belkar: Heh heh, yeah. I mean, it was MY dream, after all.
    Mr. Scruffy: purrrrrr…
    <end flashback>
    Belkar: Yup. Definitely just my dream.
    Mr. Scruffy: Meow?

    Spoiler: Strip 891
    This One's Not Even Realistic
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Roy

    Belkar: So then what happened in your dream? Was I in it?
    Roy: …As much as can be expected.
    Haley: Elan, honey…are you OK?
    Elan: Yeah. Actually, I am.
    Haley: But that dream…seeing your family like that. I'm so sorry that you had to live through something that can never…you know…
    Elan: Don't be. At least I got to see what it'd be like. I don't think there's just one possible happy ending, Haley. There are, like, tons of possibilities. We just have to pick one and make it happen. I may not get that happy ending…but there's another one out there waiting for me. For us. I'm sure of it now, more than ever! And Roy, now whenever you get sad or start wondering whether or not you can do it—just think about how awesome it felt to kill Xykon! Though honestly, you may want to work on a snappier one-liner for when you do.
    Roy: Elan, I don't think a bund of…of dreams and good feelings are going to help us defeat an ultra-powerful sorcerer lich.
    Elan: Sure they are! It's called, "morale," Roy—Or sometimes? "Hope."
    Roy: You know, it's weird…even though I know Durkon is still gone…seeing him in the dream sort of let me say goodbye. I got to spend time with him knowing, on some level, that he could be gone at any moment…Yeah, OK. OK. Let's do this.
    Elan: That's the spirit!
    Roy: Just because we're outnumbered and outmagicked doesn't mean we can't pull off an upset!
    Haley: We've done it before!
    Roy: Haley, traps. Belkar, watch the rear. Elan, if you have any song that boosts saving throws, now's the time. As quietly as you can. And Elan? Good job. And I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier.
    Elan: Ahhhh! We're still trapped in it!!
    Haley: No, honey—
    Elan: Triple fantasy! TRIPLE FANTASY!!

    Spoiler: Strip 892
    Walled In
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Malack, Nale, Roy, Zz'dtri

    Roy: Whoa…Now this room looks like we're starting to make some progress.
    Haley: Be careful, boys—I'm pretty sure that ring will zap you if you cross it.
    Elan: Ooo! Then let's double-cross it so it un-zaps us!
    Belkar: Guys.
    Roy: OK, I think that means you've used up your good ideas for the day.
    Belkar: GUYS! Fascinating discussion and all—but I smell the Linear Guild on the other side of that door.
    Roy: Are you sure? You said you couldn't pick out smells in here.
    Belkar: I know the smell of my own blood. But gee, I guess it could be two other people reeking of me.
    Haley: There's definitely someone—I can hear them.
    Roy: Damn. They must've caught up while we were dreaming.
    Haley: Back to the corridor?
    Roy: No—I don't want to risk the runes again. Hide in the corner. Elan, I want an illusion of a wall in front of us.
    Elan: You got it, Roy! Silent Image!
    Belkar: *huff!* *huff!* *huff!*
    Elan: …Are they coming through or not?
    Roy: Don't know. Maybe Girard put the same spell on all the corridors leading to this room.
    Malack: Bah! Leave him behind if he cannot resist a simple phantasm!
    Zz’dtri: Wait. Stirring.
    Nale: Hold on—I've been describing my evil scheme for over an hour…and you're still tied up?

    Spoiler: Strip 893
    Closing In
    Malack, Nale, Roy

    Roy: Crap—here they come. Everyone stay quiet.
    Nale: Is this it? Is this the Gate room?
    Malack: How should I know? One can hope, certainly.
    Roy: <whispering> Durkon…
    Nale: I don't see my brother or Greenhilt. I was looking forward to destroying them both. Ah, well. Once we've seized the Gate, I can track them down and—
    <sfx> ZZAAPP!
    Nale: AAAAH!! Whoa! Did you see that?
    Malack: Yes.
    Nale: …Before or after I triggered it?
    Malack: …As I recall, you were instructed to let the heroes trip the defenses before moving in.
    Nale: As I recall, you were instructed to shut the hell up.
    Malack: By whom?
    Nale: Me. Shut the hell up.
    Malack: I will not be spoken to by you in this way. You are only tolerated as a concession to my alliance with Tarquin.
    Nale: Funny, that's what I was about to say. Don't worry your precious dead head, Malack. Once I secure this Gate, you won't have to worry about me anymore.
    Malack: The thought is foremost in my mind at all times.
    Roy: <whispering> Whew…I really thought we were in trouble there for a moment.

    Spoiler: Strip 894
    The Last Room
    Vampire Durkon, Malack, Nale, Zz'dtri

    Malack: You have always been a fool. Though my time is infinite, I still regret wasting so much of it teaching—
    Nale: Quiet! I don't want to hear your stupid hissing voice at the moment of my ultimate—triumph. Is this—what is—? What am I looking at?
    Malack: Hrrm. It seems fairly straightforward to me.
    Nale: No no no no no no NO! Scan it! SCAN IT!
    Malack: True Seeing.
    Vampire Durkon: Detect Magic.
    Zz’dtri: Locate Object. Nothing. Sorry.
    Nale: Damn it! DAMN IT! Back outside, everyone! Go, go, GO!!

    Spoiler: Strip 895
    Plain Sight
    Belkar, Vampire Durkon, Elan, Haley, Malack, Nale, Roy

    Haley: <whispering> —and the kicker is, she said they've been trying to reach us for three hours! The phantasm must have blocked the earlier Sending spells.
    Elan: <whispering> Oh man! Xykon could be here any minute now!!
    Roy: <whispering> OK…maybe we can figure out some way to—
    Belkar: <whispering> Zip it! They're coming back out!
    Nale: —thinks he's so friggin' smart, following the good guys. If we had just searched the valley on our own—like we were going to before HE got involved—we might have found it by now!
    Malack: As much as I enjoy your continued failure to achieve— …Hrrm.
    Vampire Durkon: Master? Do you see something?
    Malack: …No, Brother. Come along.
    Nale: MALACK! Stop stalling and get your tail in here!
    <SFX> SLAM!!
    Roy: Huh. That was weird.
    Haley: Are they coming back?
    Roy: No…I don't think so. Look.
    Belkar: Oh come on! Are you friggin' kidding me? Again with the fake-out?? I'm gonna flip out if we need to spend the whole next book looking for it again!
    Roy: Belkar, shush. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
    Haley: You mean…that now, after illusions and traps and fake coordinates and tricks and treachery—NOW would be the perfect time for a double bluff?
    Roy: That—and this pillar doesn't look load-bearing to me.
    <sfx> KTHUNK!!
    Haley: Lead sheeting!
    Roy: The poor man's divination blocker.
    Belkar: Stop suppressing our rupture, you electroresistive niche!
    Roy: Laides and gentlemen, I give you—
    <sfx> sschrrTHNK!
    Roy: Girard's Gate.
    Elan: Hooray! We found it!
    Haley: So that's great, but have you figured out any sort of plan for how to guard it?
    Roy: Sure. I'm going to destroy it.

    Spoiler: Strip 896
    Two Paths
    Belkar, Blackwing, Cedric, Elan, Haley, Roy, Vaarsuvius

    Vaarsuvius: These blasted tunnels! I cannot make sense of them.
    Blackwing: I think they're, like, service tunnels. Lets the defenders spy on intruders and tailor their illusions to what they see.
    Vaarsuvius: Hmmm. That would explain the periodic pinholes in the structure. But I cannot fathom why they would not see fit to place a portal at some point.
    Blackwing: I bet they just used D-Door or something when they needed to get in here. Why build a door someone could find?
    Vaarsuvius: I suppose. Is the imp still following us?
    Blackwing: Beats me. He went invisible a while ago. At least we have the benefit of a brief respite from his endless—
    Elan: Roy, you can't blow up the Gate! That's like something *I* would do!
    Haley: You did do it, honey.
    Elan: That makes it even more likely!!
    Roy: Elan, this is different.
    Vaarsuvius: Wait. Did you hear that?
    Roy: That was just pure stupidity. No offense.
    Elan: None taken.
    Roy: I have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing. I'll be deliberately destroying the Gate in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
    Vaarsuvius: That is Sir Greenhilt's voice. I can hear him clearly.
    Blackwing: Me too! And it sounds like he's found the Gate.
    Vaarsuvius: The acoustics of this dead end must be designed for eavesdropping on the chamber above it.
    Belkar: Hold on a second. I thought these stupid Gates are holding up the universe's pants or something.
    Roy: They are, but they can also be used to control the Snarl somehow.
    Belkar: And the Snarl is…?
    Roy: The ultra-powerful god-spawned abomination that lives inside the rifts! Come on, Belkar!
    Belkar: So sue me for being in the middle of a chase scene when all the background exposition was delivered!
    Vaarsuvius: No, that may not be accurate!!
    Blackwing: About the chase scene? Oh, no, you mean 'cause of the planet I saw in the Azure City rift?
    Vaarsuvius: Precisely. That revelation has substantially altered our understanding of the situation. Whether or not the Snarl is within that rift—or indeed, ever actually existed—there may well be a population upon that lone orb.
    Elan: But Roy, Shojo said that if all the Gates go ka-blooey, the whole world will start crumbling!
    Haley: This isn't the last Gate, though. Roy and I found a magic monitoring device in the Draketooth's chamber this morning.
    Roy: Unless someone broke Kraagor's Gate since breakfast, we'll still have one holding everything together afterwards.
    Vaarsuvius: Blackwing, we cannot allow Sir Greenhilt to destroy the Gate. There are too many variables of which he knows not.
    Blackwing: Like whether or not anything we've been told is even remotely accurate?
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, exactly!
    Elan: Nale got fooled by Girard's trick, though. Doesn't that give us time to figure something else out??
    Roy: Fooled for now. But at some point, he and Malack are going to report back to Tarquin—and your dad is at least as good a huckster as Haley. If she figured out the bluff, so can he. Look, we had a period of time where we could've wrapped this up with only the Linear Guild as our opponent. And we blew it. The Sending from Hinjo's cleric said that Xykon is on the move. He might even be here already. Time's up. The Gate needs to go.
    Vaarsuvius: I cannot risk the lives of the people who may be living on that world through inaction. Sir Greenhilt's logic is sound based on what he knows, but he does not know all—and that, too, is my fault. But I cannot allow the possibility of another genocide. We must intercede.
    Roy: I wasn't wrong when I said we had no chance to defend the Gate—but Elan, you were right too.
    Elan: I was?
    Roy: You said we'd figure out a way to win anyway. This is that way. We don't need to defeat them right now, we just need to keep them from reaching their objective.
    Blackwing: Do you have a second Passwall?
    Vaarsuvius: No. It was frankly ludicrous that I bothered to prepare one.
    Blackwing: How about Sending?
    Vaarsuvius: If I did, I would have cast it as soon as I started looking for them.
    Blackwing: In that case, may I suggest we try the warning method favored by my people?
    Roy: But I want to make sure you're all on board for this. I don't…really know what's going to happen We can't really know all of the possible consequences.
    Blackwing: ROY!! DON'T DO IT!!!
    Haley: You know me. This is when to fold 'em. And when to run.
    Elan: I guess it is more dramatically appropriate for the final showdown to be at the last Gate anyway.
    Roy: Belkar?
    Belkar: What, I get a vote?
    Roy: You were right about Durkon. I was wrong.
    Belkar: Yeah, but this main plot stuff is your department.
    Roy: Belkar.
    Belkar: OK. OK…I say, screw it. When in doubt, set it on fire, right?
    Blackwing: DON'T BLOW UP THE GATE!
    Vaarsuvius: This is not working. But I have an idea.
    Roy: OK, then, if we're all on board with—
    <sfx> KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
    Haley: Did you hear that?
    Blackwing: YES! YES, YOU HEARD THAT!
    Haley: It's like a pounding or something.
    <sfx> KNOCK! KNOCK!
    Roy: Nale? Tarquin? Xykon?
    Haley: I can't tell. Should I check it out?
    Blackwing & Vaarsuvius: DO NOT DESTROY THE GATE! DO NOT DESTROY THE—
    Cedric: Now.

    Spoiler: Strip 897
    Headed Downtown
    Blackwing, Cedric, Haley, Lee, Nero, Roy, Vaarsuvius

    Vaarsuvius: —gate? GAAAHH!
    Lee: Vaarsuvius! Welcome to Hell.
    Vaarsuvius: What is the meaning of this?!?
    Nero: It is my duty to inform you that my colleague here is exercising his option on the possession of your immortal soul.
    Cedric: Twenty minutes, thirty-five seconds.
    Vaarsuvius: Outrageous! That possession was to be rendered following my death!
    Lee: We never said that.
    Nero: You assumed—
    Cedric: —and we saw no need to correct.
    Blackwing: Wait, what am I doing here? I never sold my soul!!
    Lee: True. You are what we in the business call a BOGO.
    Nero: You bound your soul to the elf's when you became a familiar.
    Cedric: We're not liable for any unintended side effects that may occur.
    Vaarsuvius: I see your game now. You shall possess my empty body, and with it seize the Gates for yourselves!
    Lee: What? No, that's ridiculous. That vessel is your rightful property. Putting another soul into it would be a gross violation of our contract.
    Cedric: We're just going to hold on to your for a bit, then send you back.
    Nero: In fact, your body will be shielded from all harm for the duration of your stay. We pride ourselves on our good customer service.
    Lee: After all, to paraphrase a wise man:
    Cedric: "All that is required for Evil to triumph—
    Nero: —is for Neutral elves to do nothing."
    <TV text> HDTV
    Haley: Whatever it was, it stopped.
    Roy: Let's blow this thing before it comes back.

    Spoiler: Strip 898
    Let's Get Ready to Rumble
    Belkar, Elan, Haley, Roy

    <sfx> klunk!
    Haley: Is this even going to work?
    Roy: It should. Starmetal should be able to crack crystal, even if it's been reinforced with magic. Let me try again.
    <sfx> KNNGTK!!!
    Haley: OK, now I definitely see cracks.
    Roy: Me too. The question is, how much more damage before we destabilize it enough to—OK, asked and answered!
    Haley: Let's get the heck out of here!
    Roy: Suggestion accepted!
    Belkar: Someone grab Mr. Scruffy!
    Elan: La la la la! I can't hear you!!
    Haley: I don't think we're gonna make it, boys!
    Elan: But we're almost at the top!!
    Roy: It's a pyramid, Elan—we still need to get back down!!
    Belkar: This way! I have an idea!
    Roy: Belkar! We don't have time to—
    Belkar: Then shut up and do it!
    Elan: Roy?

    Spoiler: Strip 899
    Prophecy Fulfilled

    <sfx> pop!
    Xykon: Well here we are, kids—Girard's Pyramid. Let's get inside there and—

    Spoiler: Strip 900
    Hole in the Middle
    Belkar, Monster in the Darkness, Elan, Haley, Redcloak, Roy, Xykon

    <sfx> FWWNK!
    Haley: Unnnhhh…
    <sfx> wrrrrrrrshtcht!
    Roy: Is everyone OK?
    Haley: Yeah…I think so.
    Elan: Belkar kicked me in the face by accident.
    Belkar: Sorry about that. I thought you were Roy.
    Haley: Look, Roy—the Rift.
    Elan: Mass Cure Light Wounds.
    Roy: At least it's not as big as Azure City's.
    Haley: Yet.
    Roy: Hold on…What is that? Is that…an ocean??
    Haley: I don't understand.
    Elan: Maybe the Snarl is aquatic?
    Belkar: Maybe someone's been yanking everyone's chain.
    Roy: OK, well…I don't know what this means, but let's not get too close. In fact, let's get out of here while we still—
    <sfx> ZZZOTTT!
    Redcloak: Greenhilt. Of course it would be Greenhilt.
    Xykon: Hey, anyone seen my pelvis?
    Monster in the Darkness: Left or right?
    Xykon: Never mind.

    Spoiler: Strip 901
    Friend of a Friend
    Haley, Elan, Belkar, Roy, Xykon, Redcloak, Monster in the Darkness, Demon Roaches

    Haley: Crap! It's Redcloak!
    Elan: Maybe it's just another illusion?
    Belkar: Nah, that would mean we weren't totally boned.
    Roy: Everyone, spread out and take cover! Keep the Rift between you and them for as long as you can. We need them to close if we're going to have a chance.
    Xykon: Ah, there it is! Now what's going on?
    Redcloak: Greenhilt is here.
    Xykon: Who?
    Monster in the Darkness: Flopsy! He's friends with Mr. Stiffly!
    Xykon: Who?
    Demon Roach: Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Book.
    Redcloak: The human adventurer. He threw you into Dorukan's Gate, but then you killed him in Azure City.
    Xykon: Is that on right? I can never remember which way it goes.
    Monster in the Darkness: Oh, I wonder if he knows where O-Chul is?
    Redcloak: Sir, he's clearly working against us at this point. His presence here - and at the last two Gates - is far too great a coincidence to ignore. Even for you.
    Xykon: So, what are we doing? Are we killing him again?
    Redcloak: I would think so, yes.
    Xykon: OK, cool.
    Monster in the Darkness: No! You can't! They're O-Chul's friends!
    Xykon: Howzat, again?
    Monster in the Darkness: I mean... uh... it's a trick! Remember when I captured the paladin? Those people there tried to rescue him. I think they're all working together!
    Redcloak: All the more reason to eliminate them when we have the chance.
    Monster in the Darkness: Yeah, but... uh... where's the paladin? Huh? Where's the elf wizard who stole Xykon's soul-hidey place? They must be on their way to the next dungeon already!
    Xykon: Oh, I get it. The B-Team keeps us busy while the real deal gets a head start.
    Monster in the Darkness: Right! Exactly! Think about it. Which of these sounds like the hero you need to worry about: the last paladin of a conquered city, beaten but never broken, sworn to stop the evil lich who wiped out his holy order - or some random fighter guy you already snuffed once?
    Redcloak: Yeah, but you're forgetting that Greenhilt has some... thing... about his father, I think? Crap.
    Xykon: Weird as it is, I think the dim bulb has a point. We should have split Bluetown the moment the loopy beige chick broke the gem.
    Redcloak: Sir, I really think we should take the time to-
    Xykon: No. No way am I letting you set up another goblin colony here to smoke out some third-stringers.
    Redcloak: That's not at all what I'm suggesting we do. If you would just listen for one-
    Xykon: Zip it. We're leaving, now.
    Redcloak: What?!??
    Xykon: You heard me. Since you still have two ears. Everyone huddle up. I'm teleporting us right to the final dungeon's front porch. I'll grow some new leg bones when we get there.
    Redcloak: ... Yes, Lord Xykon.
    Monster in the Darkness: Hooray! I saved the day! that I prevented us from making a costly tactical error. Go us!
    Haley: They're leaving? Why?
    Roy: Who cares? We're in no shape to stop them anyway. I just hope Kraagor's Tomb can hold them off long enough for us to regroup.
    Redcloak: Actually, sir, if you'd permit me one single spell before we go?
    Xykon: Fine, fine, just so you stop whining. But hurry up.
    Redcloak: Summon Monster IX. Kill everyone. Starting with the human with the greatsword.
    <label text> 14. Si. 28.085
    <sfx> pop!

    Spoiler: Strip 902
    Mr. Sandman, Give Me a Scream
    Roy, Haley, Elan, Belkar

    Roy: Grrrnnh!
    Haley: *kaff! kaff!* We could escape into the Rift?
    Roy: The one that may have a god-killing abomination and definitely has miles of water with no land in sight? Guy in heavy armor says, "No thanks."
    Elan: Plus I think we already used all the ocean-themed jokes we had!
    Roy: No, I'm sick of running and hiding and traps and tricks. There's finally a straight-up monster in our path? We fight!!
    <sfx> SLASH!! flnph! flnph! SLASH! poke.
    Elan: Take that, you son of a beach! Belkar, come on! You gotta help!
    Belkar: Hey, I'm half dead over here still!
    Elan: Yeah, but the goblin told it to kill Roy first.
    Belkar: Did he? Well in that case - This is for all the sand that's found its way into my shorts in the last month! Suffer like my red chafed 'nads! Hey, do me a favor and don't get killed. I'll drop in like one hit if it attacks me.
    Roy: I'll see what I can do, but no promises.
    Belkar: Eh, that's fair.
    <sfx> WWRSSH!
    Roy: *kaff!* *kaff!*
    Elan: Get out of here, sand dude! This isn't one of those grim n' gritty fantasy stories!
    Haley: Honey, are your puns even working
    Elan: I don't even know if my sword is working.
    Haley: If all of our weapons just sink into the sand, how are we supposed to know if we're hurting it?
    Roy: Eventually, it'll die. I hope.
    Elan: Hey, I was right - hope does matter!

    Spoiler: Strip 903
    Carefully Couched
    Lee, Cedrik, Nero, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Sabine, Qarr, Zz'dtri, Nale, Vampire Durkon, Malack

    Lee: Gentlemen! A toast to good timing-
    Cedrik: - and making opportunities.
    Nero: Cheers.
    <sfx> clink! clink! clink!
    Vaarsuvius: Then that was your goal all along? To destroy the Gate? To what end?
    Lee: While we certainly enjoy exploiting your actions...
    Cedrik: We have no interest in explaining our own.
    Nero: Figure it out yourself.
    Vaarsuvius: Do they intend to release the Snarl and destroy the planet? But I fail to see how that will benefit them, since it annihilates the soulds of those it kills.
    Blackwing: Maybe they know something about the planet in the Rift? They could be after the souls that live there.
    Lee: When he said "Figure it out yourself," he meant on your own time.
    Cedrik: Don't spoil our celibration with your rampant speculation.
    Nero: Gag.
    Sabine: Don't feel bad, elf. I'm totally on their team and I only know half of what's going on. I mean, planet in the Rift? News to me. I've seen them take down more righteous mortals than you, too, if that helps. Director Lee sets up the traps and Cedrik springs them when his gut tells them the time is right. And Nero keeps them working together. It's scary effective. When you've got pawns on every team, it's easy to fix the game, you know? Even if you don't know what the game's going to be. When they first sent us to Tarquin's-
    <sfx> brrrng! brrrng!
    Sabine: Oooo! I need to get that!! Hello? Did you get them out? Yes, the elf is right here, now answer me!
    Qarr: Don't get your tail in a knot. I got your precious boyfriend out of the pyramid as soon as it started shaking. Buncha rocks to the face, but they're all fine.
    Sabine: OK, tell him that I love him, and give him lots of hugs and kisses, and tell him not to try to-
    <sfx> click!
    Sabine: Hello? HELLO?
    Zz’dtri: ??
    Qarr: Oh, nothing, I was just talking to a... telemarketer.
    Nale: I can't believe - how did he - so the Gate was in the - GREENHILT!!
    Vampire Durkon: Should we start looking for the second pyramid now, Master?
    Malack: No.

    Spoiler: Strip 904
    Live by the Technicality...
    Roy, Belkar, Haley, Elan

    Roy: Unnngh! *kaff! kaff!* Does anyone have any *cough* healing potions left?
    Belkar: Nope.
    Haley: You already drank my last one.
    Elan: Of coarse I'm out of healing spells, too!
    Roy: Alright, guys... if I get killed again, I want you to head back to Sandsedge and try to contact Hinjo. Maybe you can- Hey!!
    Haley: Nuh uh, no way I'm stuck being the leader again. If we can't heal you, then we need to change its target! Nyah nyah! Look at me! I'm a human with a greatsword! Are you sure I'm not the one you're supposed to kill first?
    Elan: Isn't she just the bravest?
    Roy: Elan, stop swooning over your girlfriend and fight!
    Elan: I can do both at the same time, thank you.
    Haley: Roy, why don't you *hack!* use some of those fancy weapon proficiencies of yours?
    Roy: Ugh, I haven't picked up one of these since I finished my two mandatory semesters of Archery.
    Elan: Hey, that was awesome! You're, like, good at stuff!
    Roy: It's as big as a house, I doubt I could miss it. I think as long as I keep hitting it, I can - Elan, where does Haley keep her arrows?
    Elan: I dunno. They just sort of appear in her hand when she needs one.
    Belkar: Geez, what is it with that guy and needing to figure out all the fiddly little details?
    Haley: I know, right? It's called "Suspension of Disbelief," Roy!

    Spoiler: Strip 905
    Blow the Lid Off
    Nale, Zz'dtri, Vampire Durkon, Malack, Roy, Elan, Belkar, Haley

    Nale: They made it out ALIVE? How is THAT fair?!?
    Zz’dtri: Attack?
    Nale: Tempting. But I'm not taking any risks when there's no prize to win. Although... send your daemon down into the pit. No reason to let its services go to waste.
    Vampire Durkon: Should I send my devil too, Master?
    Malack: I suppose. I cannot shield them forever.
    Roy: Belkar, strike at its hand-blob! Get Haley free so she can-
    Elan: Get away from him! We didn't order the surf-and-turf!
    <sfx> shishkabob! rasp rasp rasp
    Elan: Ow! Ow! Roy, help! I think he's nuzzling me to death!
    Roy: Haley! I really need my sword back!!
    Belkar: Haley can't come to the battle right now. Leave your name and number and she'll get back to you when she can breathe again.
    Haley: Kllrrghthctk!
    Elan: OW!! This is just like the cactus fight all over again!
    Roy: Ok, OK... think. ...Got it. Hrrrrrrrn!
    <sfx> snap! clank! POW!
    Elan: Wow, I think you made them mad enough to blow a casket!
    Roy: Elan, save the puns until you're ready to attack.
    Elan: Oh, right. Sorry.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 09:52 AM. Reason: making minor changes
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    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

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    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  14. - Top - End - #194
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 906 to 925
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 906
    Nothing Lasts Forever
    Nale, Malack, Zz'dtri, Vampire Durkon

    Nale: Do you see my father or that sycophantic kobold around anywhere?
    Malack: No. They must still be attending to their task. If I were you, I would savor their temporary absence, as your failure to secure the Gate may well lead to... consequences.
    Nale: Hmmm. You're probably right. Still, it could be a lot worse. My most hated enemies are about to die while I watch. I don't know that life gets better than that. Beautiful day, don't you think? Not a cloud in the sky.
    <sfx> swipe!
    Malack: What are you-?
    Zz’dtri: Greater Dispel Magic.
    Malack: My protection spell!!
    Nale: Didn't you once tell me that you always prepare that spell twice, just in case? Oh wait, that's right - I watched you cast it on the dwarf.
    Malack: Nrrrrgnnh! Thrall, run! Get the staff! It also holds the spell.
    <sfx> SSZZZZZ...
    Malack: I must find shelter!
    Nale: Good luck with that. Greenhilt just blew up the only building for miles. Maybe you can bury yourself in the sand before the sun turns you to ash. I doubt it, though.
    Malack: Grrrrrarr- I have enough time to drag you down to meet Nergal with me!!
    Nale: You were going to try that anyway. I just beat you to the punch.
    Malack: SLAY LIVING!
    Nale: Please. My lover drains levels with her lips. I order elixirs of Negative Energy Protection in bulk. You just caught me off guard back at the palace.
    Nale: <voiceover> I don't know which is more insulting-that you thought you'd just be able to snuff me when this was over, or that you thought I wouldn't see it coming.
    Nale: As if I don't remember the protocols. "Business before pleasure," right? Your team's top rule to keep you all playing nice. The two of you practically announced that he would let you kill me once I was no longer useful to him. Just because I didn't want to follow his archaic rules - doesn't mean I didn't learn them!
    <sfx> wham!
    Malack: I will... kill you! I will have my long-delayed revenge!!
    Nale: "Long-delayed?" You gotta be kidding me. You may have been thinking about killing me for the last two years - but I've been thinking about killing you since I was nine years old!! I murdered your children as a practice run!! Now BURN you insufferable leech!
    <sfx> RRRRIPP!
    Vampire Durkon: Master, I have the-
    Nale: *huff* *huff* *huff*

    Spoiler: Strip 907
    Always Hiring
    Qarr, Nale, Zz'dtri, Vampire Durkon

    Qarr: What the Hell just happened?!?
    Nale: Heh. Just a little something we've had in our back pocket. Now seemed like the best time.
    Zz’dtri: Worked well.
    Qarr: You're big with the understatement thing, huh?
    Nale: Killing my brother and Greenhilt will be sweet, but they weren't the real threat here. At worst they'll throw us in prison somewhere again. With Malack, it was always kill or be killed. I chose the former. As for you - You're free. With Malack's destruction, you're no longer his "thrall." You're a 100% free-willed vampire cleric. You can go wherever you want. But if I may make a suggestion? The Linear Guild would be honored to have someone of your obvious unholy power fighting with us. We can help you get through this transitional period. Hell, you're even your own evil opposite - for whatever that's worth anymore. I'm sure you're eager to taste the blood of your former friends. Maybe make a few thralls of your own. We can help with that.
    Zz’dtri: Pay's good.
    Nale: So think about it. You're not the same old Durkon. Why not make the most of it?
    Vampire Durkon: Aye... mebbe I haf changed. But tha two o' ye're still tha same old *****!
    (VD): Aye... maybe I have changed. But the two of you are still the same old *****!
    <sfx> WONK! WONK!

    Spoiler: Strip 908
    Reverse Polarity
    Nale, Vampire Durkon, Qarr, Elan, Roy, Piscoloth

    Nale: What are you doing?? I helped you!
    Vampire Durkon: An' I'm helpin' ye back. By cuttin' down yer employee overhead.
    (VD): And I'm helping you back. By cutting down your employee overhead.
    Qarr: OK, I'm out. Good luck, elf.
    <sfx> pop!
    Nale: Get off him! Don't you dare drink his blood, you ungrateful parasite!
    Vampire Durkon: As ye command. Dinnae want ye to get a free vampire wizard outta this, aye?
    (VD): As you command. Don't want you to get a free vampire wizard out of this, aye?
    <sfx> SNAP!
    Vampire Durkon: Yer blood... now THA I may just taste a bit first.
    (VD): Your blood... now THAT I may just taste a bit first.
    Nale: Dimension Door!
    <sfx> pop!
    Vampire Durkon: Ech, tha works, too.
    (VD): Ech, that works, too.
    Elan: Roy, I can't think of any good lobster puns!
    Roy: Try... another... crustacean.
    Elan: Oh! I'm getting crabby that you won't let me go help Haley.
    Piscoloth: (symbols)
    (P): If the boss is dead I'm punching out early
    Elan: I don't really know what's going on, but - Hang on, Haley! I'm coming!!
    Vampire Durkon: Stand down, devil.
    Roy: Durkon?!? Stay back!
    Vampire Durkon: Lad, it's OK. Malack's ash, so I've got me free will back.
    (VD): Lad, it's OK. Malack's ash, so I've got my free will back.
    Roy: And so... you're helping us?
    Vampire Durkon: World's still at stake, ain't it?
    (VD): World's still at stake, isn't it?
    Roy: You're not evil?
    Vampire Durkon: Not any more'n Belkar, I'd wager.
    (VD): Not any more than Belkar, I'd wager.
    Roy: That... is a really good point.
    Vampire Durkon: And I can still patch ye up, jus' like always. Cure Mod'rate Wounds!
    (VD): And I can still patch you up, just like always. Cure Moderate Wounds!
    Roy: Wait, no- NNNGHH!
    Vampire Durkon: ...I also haf potions.
    (VD): ...I also have potions.

    Spoiler: Strip 909
    Shifting Sands
    Durkon, Roy, Haley, Elan, Belkar

    Vampire Durkon: -an' I'll be able to cast cure spells, 'cept now I gotta prepare 'em rather'n convertin' 'em on tha fly. Also, I prepare me spells at dusk now.
    (VD): - and I'll be able to cast cure spells, except now I have to prepare them rather than converting them on the fly. Also, I prepare my spells at dusk now.
    Roy: Uh, yeah, something to look forward to, I guess. And you're in command of that... spiky thing?
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, it's contracted ta follow all me orders until midnight.
    (VD): Aye, it's contracted to follow all my orders until midnight.
    Roy: Then let's go help Elan help Haley.
    Vampire Durkon: Command: DROP!
    Haley: Aaaaa!
    Elan: Haley, are you OK?
    Haley: *kaff! kaff!* Yeah. Think so. Is that Durkon helping us?
    Roy: Looks like. Get ready to shoot.
    <sfx> poof! wmmph!
    Belkar: Look out! Vampire!! Die, you bloodsucking monster-
    <sfx> slash! slash! slash!
    Belkar: -die? Is this not a thing we're doing? Oh come on! If trying to eat me isn't enough to pay his fare to Stabbytown, I officially have no idea what you people want from me!

    Spoiler: Strip 910
    Marching On
    Elan, Haley, Roy, Belkar, Durkon, Nale, Tarquin

    Elan: Hooray! Durkon's back!
    Haley: I thought that would take at least another 100 pages...
    Roy: Look, we're shorthanded and he wants to help. We could use it.
    Belkar: What about Durkon?
    Roy: That IS Durkon!
    Belkar: No, it isn't!
    Roy: It's Durkon enough for our purposes. Whether it is or isn't, we need to keep track of Durkon's body if we're going to bring him back to life. We may as well have that body up and around and casting spells for us. If he wanted to hurt us, he could've attacked.
    Belkar: I just don't trust the idea of using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfill our goals while we - oh, I get it.
    Roy: Yeah, we already made the parallel.
    Haley: Oooo, wands!
    Roy: OK, gang, listen up. We may have beaten the elemental, but the Linear Guild is still up there some-
    Mr. Scruffy: hissss!
    Vampire Durkon: Actually, na really. Nale smoked Malack, then I killed Zz'dtri an' his imp familiar bolted. Tarquin an' tha flying kobold wandered off hours ago, Sabine's still banished, an' I'm 'ere wit ye. So tha's pretty much curtains fer tha Linear Guild, aye?
    (VD): Actually, not really. Nale smoked Malack, then I killed Zz'dtri and his imp familiar bolted. Tarquin and the flying kobold wandered off hours ago, Sabine's still banished, and I'm here with you. So that's pretty much curtains for the Linear Guild, aye?
    Roy: Where's Nale?
    Vampire Durkon: Popped out wit tha short range teleport spell o' is.
    (VD): Popped out with that short range teleport spell of his.
    Roy: Then he's around here somewhere.
    Roy: <voiceover> Wherever he is, he's still dangerous. Everyone keep your guard up.
    Nale: *huff!* *huff!* *huff!* GAAH!
    Tarquin: Hello, Nale. Walk with me. We have a lot to talk about.

    Spoiler: Strip 911
    Operation Desert Inform
    Roy, Belkar, Haley, Tarquin, Elan, Nale, Soldier

    Roy: OK, now that the pressure is off, let's take some time and look around. Vaarsuvius is still somewhere out here in this desert.
    Belkar: What if she was in the pyramid when it blew?
    Roy: Then we look for signs of that. We only need a drop of blood for Resurrection.
    Haley: Do you guys hear-?
    Roy: I think maybe we'll camp at dusk so Durkon can prepare Sending, and maybe some divinations... though the canyon is pretty well shielded from-
    Tarquin: Mr. Greenhilt? Excuse me, Mr. Greenhilt? Could you be so kind as to send my other son up here? I think a family meeting is in order.
    Roy: Well, of course. Why should we get a moment's rest?
    Belkar: That's a lot of mooks.
    Elan: Roy, it's OK. I'll go talk to him.
    Tarquin: You too, Miss Starshine. I don't want to presume too much, but if you might be a part of this family one day then this concerns you as well.
    Haley: I really don't like the way this is heading.
    Elan: Don't worry. You'll keep me safe.
    Tarquin: I'm guessing this crater is where the pyramid stood?
    Nale: Yeah... like I said, Greenhilt managed to destroy the Gate before I could swoop in.
    Tarquin: Well, it happens. A good swoop is hard to time. Elan, Haley, this is Laurin Shattersmith - our team's psion.
    Elan: I remember her from the flashback panels.
    Tarquin: Good, good.
    Haley: What's the dino-army for, Tarquin?
    Tarquin: Dramatic tension, mostly. Though this division is also trained for ominous plot-critical reveals.
    Soldier: General Tarquin has been in control of the Empire the whole time!!
    Tarquin: Yes, yes, we did that one already.

    Spoiler: Strip 912
    Working Together
    Elan, Tarquin, Nale

    Elan: What do you want, Dad? We know it was you in the mask pretending to be Thog.
    Tarquin: Elan, I've been assured by Nale that the Gate that both you and he sought has been destroyed. Is that correct?
    Elan: ... Yeah, I guess.
    Tarquin: I suppose that weird purple... hole... down there is all that's left?
    Elan: Uh huh.
    Tarquin: Well, Elan, it seems as though this conflict is at an end.
    Elan: ... Huh?
    Tarquin: We were all racing to get to the Gate. You won. Congratulations. I hope you at least gained a level out of this. Do you think you'll be needing anything for the next leg of your journey? Supplies? Healing?
    Elan: I don't really-
    Nale: You're just - you're letting them GO??? They destroyed the Gate! They robbed me - you - of your prize! Aren't you going to punish them?
    Tarquin: What would the point of that be? I was probably going to destroy it myself anyway.
    Nale: WHAT?!?
    Tarquin: Honestly, Nale, that "plan" of yours had way too many moving parts. A Gate, an abomination, a ritual, and you don't even have the ritual but a friend of a friend does? We were never in any position to realistically pull that off. I would have preferred to secure the area and study it for a bit first, but-
    Nale: You pompous buffoon! Do you have any idea how much power-
    Tarquin: Power I can't access is no power at all.
    Elan: But Dad, there's still one Gate left! The whole world is in danger, including your empires!
    Tarquin: Wow, it's too bad I don't have a son who's a big shot hero to go clean that up for me. OH WAIT. I hardly want someone else using these Gates to rule the world, but everyone knows when villains fight villains, it's a toss-up. And that's where you come in, Elan. As a true hero, you're more narratively equipped to deal with this. My son - making the world safe for tyrannical oligarchy! It's so perfect, I think I'll start implying it was my plan all along.

    Spoiler: Strip 913
    Tarquin, Elan, Haley, Nale, Laurin

    Tarquin: Now, if you need transportation, Laurin can open another Wormhole to your next dungeon.
    Elan: No way, Dad! I'm not playing your game!
    Tarquin: Then you're willing to let the world be destroyed or conquered or whatever?
    Elan: No - but-
    Haley: Just 'cause you benefit from our actions doesn't mean we have to accept your assistance.
    Elan: Yeah! That's right!
    Tarquin: Ah, then you're willing to possibly fail just to spite me? How enlightened of you.
    Nale: This is horsecrap.
    Tarquin: Nale, please, I'm trying to manipulate your brother into tacitly accepting my authority.
    Nale: You don't even have the balls to go big anymore. You're just a scared old man protecting his rut.
    Tarquin: Be quiet. I've heard enough out of-
    Nale: I killed Malack.
    Laurin: What? What did he say?
    Nale: I made him scream for his god in the desert sun. Read my mind if you don't believe me, "Aunt" Laurin.
    Laurin: Ishtar's crown... he's telling the truth.
    Nale: His ashes smelled like burning leather. He suffered.
    Laurin: You arrogant little sh-
    Tarquin: Laurin, please. Try to stay professional. I need a moment to talk to my son. Alone. Do you care to explain yourself?
    Nale: Not to you.
    Tarquin: What the hell is wrong with you?
    Tarquin: Putting aside the years of friendship, do you have any idea how valuable an asset he was?
    Nale: More valuable than me, right? That's why you were going to let him kill me.
    Tarquin: No! OK, yes, I led Malack to believe that. But I told you before I left to collect the army: This was your chance to impress me. If you'd outmaneuvered your brother and secured the Gate, I would've had something to show the rest of the gang. I could've convinced them your rebellious days were in the past and you were too useful to let Malack kill you over petty revenge. He'd have no choice but to accept their judgement, and this whole ridiculous feud would've been over!
    Nale: So this was all just another one of your cruel tests.
    Tarquin: Are you even listening to me? I'm saying I came out to this miserable desert for you. To give my son a second chance. Now come on, I'm sure I can smooth things over with Laurin. We'll have you up and running as part of the team in no time.
    Nale: I don't want your hand-outs!
    <sfx> smack!
    Tarquin: You'd rather I had just stood by and let Malack hunt you down?
    Nale: YES! Malack was my problem, not yours! And I solved it my way, without your help!
    Tarquin: That makes no - I swear, Nale, I don't even know what you want from me anymore.
    Nale: NOTHING! I want NOTHING from you! I am my own man, not some cog in your latest oh-so-clever scheme! I don't want your nepotism or your charity or your pity! I want NOTHING!
    Tarquin: Is that really how you feel?
    Nale: YES!
    Tarquin: *sigh* As you wish, Son. What did you think the price for killing my best friend was going to be? Really, Nale, you would have been dead years ago if it weren't for my protection.
    Elan: NALE!!

    Spoiler: Strip 914
    Last in the Coffin
    Laurin, Tarquin, Elan, Haley, Cedrik, Lee, Nero

    Laurin: Good riddance.
    Tarquin: Laurin, please. Give them a chance for some melodrama.
    Elan: Nale! Come on, get up! Don't you want to hurt me or something? Look my throat is all exposed! I know now that we were never going to be a family, but... he didn't deserve this!
    Haley: Elan, he... kinda did. He was a terrible human being.
    Elan: Yeah, but - how can I be mad at him? What if it had been me? Raised here? Would I be the jerk and he be the hero?
    Haley: I... don't know. I do know your father is an ass for killing your twin brother in front of you.
    Tarquin: Oh, please. I tried my best but he was never more than a B-list recurring villain and frankly, Elan's outgrown him.
    Laurin: Eye for an eye. Malack's never returning. Neither's his killer.
    Elan: *gasp!* No! NO! Come back!
    Tarquin: A bit of overkill, perhaps, but it's just as well. He was just cluttering up the obvious narrative arc between Elan and myself anyway.
    Elan: He was your SON! Not a plot element! And if he was kind of a crappy person, it's because YOU made him that way!
    Tarquin: All the more reason for me to clean up after myself, then. I admit I'm surprised by this anger, Elan. I was under the impression that there was no love lost between the two of you.
    Elan: I never wanted him dead. Ever.
    Tarquin: Well, then you're in the minority. I can't think of anyone else who spent any amount of time with Nale who didn't at least entertain the idea.
    Cedrik: ...
    Nero: ...
    Lee: That's coming out of your holiday bonus.

    Spoiler: Strip 915
    Custom Framing While You Wait
    Haley, Tarquin, Laurin, Miron, Kilkil, Gourntonk, Empress of Blood, Elan

    Haley: Elan, come on, let's get out of here. He can't stop us if he wants us to fight Xykon for him.
    Tarquin: Now, don't be so hasty. There are still a few loose threads to tie up here. Such as those regarding your father.
    Haley: My father?
    Tarquin: Ian, isn't it? Recently released from our accommodations, as I recall. Laurin, Kilkil has Sent to me; they're ready for transport.
    Laurin: Understood.
    Tarquin: Gentlemen! How fare the affairs of state this day?
    Miron: Leak's been plugged.
    Tarquin: Outstanding. I didn't remember your father when I had the odious pleasure of his company, Haley. Luckily, Chancellor Kilkil keeps very thorough records - in triplicate.
    KilKil:Not only did I find out the prisoners we released were connected to you - but I also determined that we were being paid 825 gp per month to hold the elder of the pair by one "Bozzok" of Greysky City as part of our Alternative Revenue Initiative.
    Miron: I wrote you that ransom letter 'cause I figured if he was willing to pay to hold him, you might be willing to pay more to free him.
    Tarquin: Of course, that offer is off the table now due to the gravity of his latest crime.
    Haley: Crime? What crime did he even-
    Gourntonk: Empress? Your Imperial Majesty? I apologize for intruding in this manner. I have critical information for you, madam. Reptilia's spies have uncovered hard evidence that your general Tarquin has been colluding with the advisers of your sworn enemies in the Empire of- GRRRKCH!!
    Miron: I guess Reptilia's next to be invaded.
    Empress of Blood: Can I have a snack?
    Miron: Shut up.
    Empress of Blood: Awwww.
    <end flashback>
    Elan: You had Monocle Guy killed?!
    Haley: That's awful, but what does it have to do with my dad?
    Tarquin: Nothing, and yet everything. Kilkil?
    KilKil: Be careful with this, the ink's still a little smudgy.
    <poster text> WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE. -of Blood. "Ian Starshine". Dead: 25,000 gp. Alive: 25,000 gp. 5'9" tall, 140 lbs. Human (Northern). White hair, pale skin. Old (60+). KNOWN POLITICAL EXTREMIST. WANTED FOR ASSASSINATION AND , INCITING-. Collect bounty at Imperial Palace. ALSO WANTERD ALIVE-
    Haley: You're framing him??
    Tarquin: I didn't care for the way he spoke to me. As if we were equals. But I'm not entirely without leniency. If you can find him before the inevitable flood of bounty hunters, I'm sure he'll be safe back in the Northern Lands. Think of it as a test, if you'd like. Now that I know you come from such lowly stock, I need to make sure you're worthy of dating Elan. A father can't be too careful. He is my only son, you know.
    Haley: Starting two minutes ago!
    Tarquin: Right, which is why I need to be more careful going forward. Try to keep up.

    Spoiler: Strip 916
    Executive Order
    Tarquin, Kilkil, Elan, Belkar

    Tarquin: I would've pinned it on someone else, really, but your father was there already. Conservation of detail and all that.
    KilKil: Plus, we can spread it around that he'd just been pardoned.
    Tarquin: Good thinking, Kilkil! It'll make us look merciful while allowing us to crack down on dissidents.
    Elan: When we're done stopping Xykon, we're coming back to take you down SO HARD!
    Tarquin: I look forward to it! Should make for a rousing story. I'll never be prouder of you than the day you defeat me.
    Elan: I don't want you to be proud of me anymore!!
    Tarquin: Careful. You're starting to sound like Nale. There is one more thing, Elan - then you may begin the long walk out of the desert, if that's your decision.
    Elan: What, do you have a bunny you need to punch in front of me or something?
    Tarquin: No, I'm talking about your dismal combat performance back in the pyramid. Though make a note about the bunny thing for next time, that's good stuff. I watched you "fight" when you thought I was Thog. You stayed in the back, sang, and let others do the work.
    Elan: Isn't that how you do things? Behind the scenes and all?
    Tarquin: Yes, but I'm the villain. The hero needs to be the one leading the charge. Front and center. Otherwise, you risk becoming a supporting character.
    Elan: I'm not the leader of my team, Dad. Roy is, and he's the best hero EVER.
    Tarquin: I was afraid you were going to say something like that. It's clear to me now that following Greenhilt is preventing you from reaching your true heroic potential. Kill the ones in the crater.
    Belkar: Can't we go back to dealing with your daddy issues?

    Spoiler: Strip 917
    Hold On
    Roy, Belkar, Elan, Tarquin, Durkon

    <sfx> thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk.
    Roy: Nnnngh!! Durkon! Spiky goes on the front line, then start putting those vampire powers to use. Belkar! Take cover and kick up as much sand as possible before they reload!
    Belkar: Take cover? Where? The casket's all the way over- ... Show-off.
    Elan: Dad, you have to call this off!
    Tarquin: Sorry, Elan. I know they're your friends - but if we're ever going to reach a truly satisfying final confrontation between us, something has to change.
    Elan: But - if you kill the rest of my team, how will I stop that other villain for you, huh?
    Tarquin: You'll manage. I have every confidence in your ability to rise to the challenge. You are my son. To be sure, you'll need some sort of recruitment montage, showing all the wacky applicants you rejected. A great chance for some visual humor, by the way. But at the end of the day, we both know that the next tavern you visit will have 2-4 new companions near the same level just hanging around. And I'm sure Rob Redblade and Murkon Lightninghammer will be fine additions to your team. The key point is that they will be following you, not the other way around. As I've said before, procedure matters.
    Elan: But the safety of the world-
    Tarquin: -is meaningless if everyone is going to run around doing whatever they feel like, without regard for proper story structure. There must be some sense of order- personal, political or dramatic- and if no one else is going to bring it to this world, I will. Don't worry. I'm sure that sub-boss Zyklon that you're so worried about will hang around until you show up to stop him.
    Haley: Elan, forget him! We need to help Roy!
    Elan: You're wrong. You're wrong about everything. You only think you know what's supposed to happen. But we get to decide what sort of story this is and what role we play - hero or comic relief. Or both at the same time.
    Tarquin: Hmmm. As heroic thesis statements go, I've heard better. One more thing to work on, I suppose.
    Roy: Durkon, I want those dominated soldiers to form a perimeter around Belkar.
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, but they're gettin' offed almost as soon as I turn 'em.
    (VD): Aye, but they're getting killed almost as soon as I turn them.
    Roy: Good enough. Keep it up.
    Belkar: This is going to wreak havoc with my rep. I can still stab things, you know!
    Roy: Stay there! You're more useful making concealment than you would be killing two guys and then getting immediately skewered. Unless Durkon can replace your drained blood?
    Belkar: That's disgusting! Even if he vomits it back up, how would you get it back in my veins? Some kind of funnel?
    Roy: I meant with a Restoration spell.
    Vampire Durkon: Nay, lad. I've got all but naught fer spells 'til I pray fer new ones at dusk.
    (VD): No, lad. I've got all but naught for spells until I pray for new ones at dusk.
    Roy: OK, well- Let's call surviving until Dusk, "Plan A."

    Spoiler: Strip 918
    These Last Few Are All from the Same Sender
    Elan, Amir, Lizardfolk Soldier, Lee, Nero, Cedrik, Sabine

    Elan: Stop! I'll fight your whole army with my whole sword-y!
    Amir: Oh yeah? You want a piece of-
    Lizardfolk Soldier: Whoa, Amir! That's the General's son!
    Amir: Oh crap, thanks- I almost stepped in that one, didn't I?
    Elan: Come on! Aren't you gonna fight me?
    Lizardfolk Soldier: No way. We'll fight the guy with the big sword- he can only kill us. Your old man can have our whole families wiped out.
    Elan: Hey! No fair! Somebody fight me! Please?
    Haley: We can still help. Start singing to boost my damage, and I'll pick off the crossbowmen at the edge of the crater.
    Elan: Awww, but I wanted to fight some bad guys!
    Haley: You'll be defying your father by playing a support role.
    Elan: Oh yeah!
    Elan: <singing> Rub, rub, rub, rub my father's face in my uselessness!
    <sfx> thunk! thunk! thunk! thunk!
    Lee: I wonder what's going on up there.
    Nero: Probably just more tedious family angst.
    Cedrik: Don't worry, I set my half-fiendish Teevo before I came over.
    <sfx> DING!
    Lee: Ah, well, Vaarsuvius, that bell tells us that your time here is at an end.
    Nero: It has been an eventful twenty minutes, that's for certain.
    Cedrik: By design, naturally.
    Lee: Try not to stress too much about when we might call you down again.
    Nero: Sure, it'll probably be right in the middle of something super-important.
    Cedrik: But what're you gonna do- never do anything important again?
    Lee: So long!
    Nero: Sayonara!
    Cedrik: T.T.F.N.!
    Sabine: Knock 'em dead, elf.
    Cedrik: Well, that was fun, but I've got to get home and catch up on my other work.
    Nero: I can't believe my presentation to the guys downstairs is due Monday.
    Lee: I know what you mean, I've been ignoring my inbox all week.
    <inbox text> LEE

    Spoiler: Strip 919
    I Went Down, Down, Down
    Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Belkar, Roy, Durkon

    Vaarsuvius: *GASP!*
    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius, I can't- what just- what are we going to-
    Vaarsuvius: ... I do not know. But I recognize a battle when I lay my eyes upon one. Enough time has already been- No, I have already wasted enough time with recriminations and indecision. Our friends are almost certainly in danger. Stoneskin. Fireball.
    Belkar: Wait- I know that smell of bat poop and burning flesh. That's-
    Roy: Vaarsuvius!!!!
    Vaarsuvius: Wall of Fire.
    Roy: Ha ha! Outstanding! Durkon, is Spiky immune to fire?
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, think so.
    Roy: Then send him out there and keep dominating. And hand me a potion if you have enough left.
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt, I deeply apologize for my absence up to this point.
    Roy: It's fine, it's fine. If you have defensive spells, cast them- Belkar's one bolt away from dying.
    Vaarsuvius: Protection from arrows.
    Belkar: Where the hell have you been?
    Vaarsuvius: Yes, sadly.

    Spoiler: Strip 920
    No Running, No Hiding
    Roy, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Blackwing

    Roy: This is brilliant. They're fighting each other while we regroup.
    Vaarsuvius: It will only last a minute or two, so I strongly suggest you employ it to its maximum utility. Lightning Bolt.
    Belkar: So do we have a plan to beat these guys?
    Roy: I could not care less about beating them. I just want us to get away alive. Or get away undead, in Durkon's case. What we need to do is find a way out of here that is hard for them to follow.
    Vaarsuvius: I retain one additional Fly spell to cast, but there are six of us. The encumbrance would make persuit effortless, even by foot. Perhaps we should employ the flying carpet?
    Roy: We lost it the first time the Linear Guild attacked.
    Belkar: Seriously, you missed a lot.
    Vaarsuvius: ... Have you looked inside the Rift yet?
    Roy: What, the Snarl rift? No. We don't know whether what we are seeing is really what's in there. It would be just like Girard to put an illusion over the hole leading to the god-eating horror.
    Vaarsuvius: ... Sir Greenhilt. When battling Xykon in Azure City, my familiar was able to see inside the open rift there and also witnessed a world separate from our own. Given the lack of cooperation between Soon and Draketooth, it is highly unlikely that the latter glamered the Rift being guarded by the former. I did not disclose this at the time because I was... embarrassed... about the details of my encounter- which include several key decisions that showed shockingly poor moral character on my part. Decisions that also led to my recent truancy.
    <sfx> sckltcht!
    Roy: Uh, OK... but I don't think this is this is the time or place to-
    Vaarsuvius: It is never the time! It is never the place! I am telling you now so that it is done.
    Roy: ...OK...Shojo said that the Snarl destroys souls. If there's even a chance that's, we can't take that risk. Dying, I can handle. Not that. Not when Xykon is still out there. Bring Haley and Elan back. We'll make our stand here, together, if nothing else.
    Vaarsuvius: Go ahead.
    Blackwing: I'm so proud of you!!!!!
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh*

    Spoiler: Strip 921
    Shot Down
    Tarquin, Miron, Laurin, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Elan, Blackwing

    Tarquin: Hrrmph. This was supposed to be a tragic execution scene, not a climactic battle. I think I'm just making Greenhilt look badass.
    Miron: Seems like an awful waste of resources if you ask me, Tarkie. You want Greatsword Dude dead, just send Jacinda to slit his throat in the night.
    Tarquin: It's not the death I'm after, per se. It's the motivation I'm hoping it instills in my son. I'm taking a risk letting him go with so much unfinished narrative business. I have to make sure he comes back.
    Miron: Pfft. More of your story nonsense? Spare me.
    Tarquin: Funny, you never seem to complain when my "story nonsense" puts coin in your purse. And it wouldn't be such a waste of resources if you got in there and started casting!
    Miron: Eh, I'm not seeing the profit for us. Pass.
    Tarquin: Laurin?
    Laurin: You indulging your first son got Malack killed. Now you're throwing perfectly good troops away to influence the other one. Do what you want with your own country's resources, but I see no reason to enable you.
    Tarquin: You two are impossible. Laurin, if it were your daughter-
    Laurin: Hannah is a plumber, thank you, and she thinks I'm just a well-connected interior designer. I do this thing we do so that she can have a good life far away from all this.
    Miron: Oh, that remind me: the Weeping King loves that splashy butt-washing thing she installed for him.
    Tarquin: A bidet, Miron. It's called a bidet.
    Haley: I'm just so happy you're safe, V!
    Vaarsuvius: Hardly, nor may I ever feel so again, but I am uninjured.
    Elan: Watch out! Those pterandon riders are headed straight for us!
    Haley: Crap! Elan, I'll drop you on one of their backs. You take out the rider while I start shooting the other-
    Vaarsuvius: Chain Lightning.
    <sfx> ZZZZAAAPPP!!
    Haley: Oh yeah. Wizard.
    Blackwing: And THAT'S what you get for oppressing my clade brothers and sisters! BAM!

    Spoiler: Strip 922
    Durkon, Belkar, Soldier, Roy

    Vampire Durkon: I think they might be waitin' us out. Look, they're backin' away.
    (VD): I think they might be waiting us out. Look, they're backing away.
    Roy: Well, maybe we can get a stand-off going, try to negotiate a way out of-
    Belkar: Uh, Roy? I'm no fancy-pants tactical genius, but I don't think that's what they're betting on. <sfx> CHOMP!
    Belkar: HEY! Drop it.
    Soldier: What are you doing, you dumb-?
    Belkar: ...Hey, big guy.
    Belkar: Just stay quiet for a few more moments, big guy- then it'll be all-you-can-eat at the Guard Buffet.
    <end flashback>
    Belkar: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Flee! Flee before me, worms!!
    Roy: Okay, now I know we're doomed. Belkar is acting like a ranger.

    Spoiler: Strip 923
    Elan, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Belkar

    Elan: -and really, I don't know why everyone always complains about being overshadowed in combat. I've always found it very relaxing.
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt, the expiration of my Wall of Fire will occur momentarily.
    Roy: That's fine, I have a plan now. BELKAR! Stop posing for heavy metal album covers and get in here! Everyone who can't fly, get on the dinosaur. We're punching through.
    Belkar: I vote Yes on any plan that starts with stepping on people's faces.
    Roy: Haley, I want you and V running interference. Durkon, have Spiky and the dominated soldiers cover us until we're clear, then release them.
    Belkar: Hey, Ears, what are you doing?
    Vaarsuvius: Feeding your beast some rudimentary defensive potions while blocking out all thoughts concerning pharmecutical dosage specifications.
    Roy: OK, Belkar. Take us out, top speed.
    Belkar: Which way?
    Roy: Directly away from Elan's dad.
    Belkar: I hear that. Come on, big guy, let's go pistachios.
    Elan: See? SEE?? I told you dinosaur rides were awesome!!

    Spoiler: Strip 924
    Resource Management
    Miron, Tarquin, Laurin, Kilkil

    Miron: So...We done here?
    Tarquin: No. Greenhilt is still alive, which means he will continue to overshadow my son. If I need to take matters into my own hands, then so be it. And you're coming with me.
    Miron: Nuh uh. I already said-
    Tarquin: I'm calling in my favor.
    Laurin: *gasp!* You've been sitting on that favor for twelve years!
    Miron: No way.
    Tarquin: This is important. This is about my legacy.
    Miron: Well, whatever, man. I'm just happy to clear it off the books. Let's go kill some dudes.
    Tarquin: Laurin?
    Laurin: I'll open a wormhole, but I don't owe you any favors, Tarquin. Although... you could owe me one, if this means that much to you. I even have one in mind, so it can be cleared before the end of the day.
    Tarquin: ...Agreed. Now if we're quite done haggling, I believe we have a chase to which we should cut.
    Laurin: By all means.
    Miron: Lead on, mighty general!
    Tarquin: Tell the commanders I said to secure the area. We'll be back shortly.
    KilKil: Yes, General.

    Spoiler: Strip 925
    Catching Up with Family
    Belkar, Elan, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Miron, Haley

    Belkar: Crap! Evil Father Patrol dead ahead!
    Elan: Oh no! I should've known my dad wouldn't bring along such a cool mount without using it!
    Roy: Belkar, break left!
    Vaarsuvius: Hold Monster.
    Miron: Greater Dispel Magic.
    Haley: Hey Miron, sorry I can't pay that ransom- I spent all my money on arrows! Want some?
    <sfx> fft! fft! fft! fft! fft! snatch! snatch! dink! thunk! thunk!
    Haley: Nnnngggh!!
    Elan: Haley!
    Roy: V's got her, Elan. Belkar, don't let up. I think we're pulling away.
    Belkar: No way is some lame ass herbivore gonna catch-

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 09:56 AM. Reason: making minor corrections
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  15. - Top - End - #195
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 926 to 946
    Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
    Previous Page | Index | Next Book

    Spoiler: Strip 926
    Through the Wormhole(s)
    Roy, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Laurin, Miron, Belkar, Haley

    Roy: Damn it! Fine, if running's futile, we stand and fight. Belkar, take us-
    Vaarsuvius: No, Sir Greenhilt- please trust me when I recommend that we keep our distance as long as possible. If they had any spells capable of stopping us outright from long range, they would have already employed them.
    Belkar: So where are we-
    Roy: You heard the elf. Run!
    Laurin: This close enough for you?
    Miron: It'll do. Baleful Polymorph.
    Belkar: No! Not you, Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator!
    Haley: You named the dinosaur-?

    Spoiler: Strip 927
    Can't Help Himself
    Roy, Elan, Belkar, Haley, Vampire Durkon, Laurin, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius, Elan

    Roy: Uggghh... I feel like I got hit by a-
    <sfx> WHAM!
    Elan: ROY!!
    Belkar: Do you just shout people's names when they get hurt now?
    Haley: Durkon, do something!
    Vampire Durkon: I got naught left fer magic.
    (VD): I have nothing left for magic.
    Laurin: He's locked down, Tarquin. Do it.
    Tarquin: You're a fine warrior, Mr. Greenhilt, but playing second fiddle just isn't in our familiy's blood.
    Haley: V, disintegrate the dinosaur!
    Vaarsuvius: It would have a negligible effect on a beast of that girth. Prismatic Spray might help, but I run the risk of striking our leader.
    Elan: I've got it! Lesser Confusion!
    Vaarsuvius: Prismatic Spray.
    <sfx> POOF!
    Haley: Good job, honey!
    Belkar: Yeah, nice assist, kid.
    Elan: Thanks, guys! It's fun to help out! What now, Roy?

    Spoiler: Strip 928
    Tarquin, Laurin, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Miron, Belkar

    Tarquin: What the hell is wrong with you?
    Laurin: Tarquin, wait- I need to finish healing!
    Tarquin: How did you all get to such a high level without anyone teaching your place?
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt, I believe Xykon is feeling chilly today.
    Roy: I understand.
    <sfx> duck! WOOSH!
    Miron: Horrid Wilt-
    <sfx> SLASH!! fizzle!
    Vaarsuvius: Disintegrate.
    <sfx> ZAP!
    Belkar: Oh, I get it! Gang pile on scarf guy!
    <sfx> skthrrk! shthrrk!
    Miron: Nnnhh!
    <sfx> thunk! thunk! thunk! thunk!
    Miron: AAAHHH!
    Tarquin: Miron, you coward- don't you dare bail on me! Suck it up and drink a potion!
    Miron: It's not me, it's my Contingency spell! All that damage triggered it to-
    <sfx> pop!
    Roy: Okay, one down, two to-

    Spoiler: Strip 929
    Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, Laurin, Belkar, Tarquin, Elan

    Vaarsuvius: That was- I am not certain what that-
    Blackwing: Vaarsuvius, altitude!
    Vaarsuvius: One moment, I must clear my-
    Blackwing: NOW!
    <sfx> whhhppsh!
    Vaarsuvius: Glllrkt!
    Miron: I recognize my friend's staff, vampire- and I know how to dispel its protections.
    Vampire Durkon: The sun! Protection from-
    <sfx> CRASH!
    Tarquin: I knew that whip would come in handy. Laurin, please keep these two down so that the real warrriors can finish this. I said the real warriors.
    <sfx> punt!
    Elan: If you want Roy dead, you're going ot have to kill me first, Dad. Either we all leave here, or none of us do.
    Tarquin: You're still at full hit points, right?
    Elan: Huh?
    <sfx> SHTHTHNK!
    Tarquin: You'll live.

    Spoiler: Strip 930
    Tarquin, Elan, Roy, Julio Scoundrél

    Tarquin: I'm sorry, Elan, but you brought this all on yourself. I tried to give you a dramatically significant death scene to swear vengeance over, but you seem to prefer this... this disjointed anarchy. There's no unity of theme here at all!
    Elan: Didn't we... already do the scene... where you try to convince me to do things your way?
    Tarquin: Yes, and it didn't go right, so we are DOING IT AGAIN. And we will CONTINUE to do it until you understand that it is in your best interest to...
    <sfx> whuppa whuppa whuppa
    Tarquin: ...listen to my...What is that noise? I know that noise.
    <sfx> whuppa whuppa whuppa whuppa whuppa
    Tarquin:! Not now! I'm in the middle of something important!
    <sfx> whuppa whuppa whuppa whuppa whuppa
    Elan: Look! Roy, it worked! It worked!!
    Roy: Whuh? What's going on?
    <sfx> whuppa whuppa whuppa
    Elan: My secret plan! You told me that it would be better to find family among people who were good than to try and find good among my family. So I thought what we needed to balance out an evil father figure-
    Elan: <voiceover> -was a good father figure!
    Julio: General Tarquin! We meet again!
    <sfx> whuppa whuppa whuppa whuppa
    Elan: Don't look at me like that, there were like a ton of hints on this one.

    Spoiler: Strip 931
    My Two Dads
    Tarquin, Julio Scoundrél, Vampire Durkon, Roy, Elan, Laurin

    Tarquin: What the hell are [b]you[b] doing here, Scoundrél?
    Julio: Following a mysterious call for help into a daring adventure! Carpet diem, I always say!
    Vampire Durkon: Call from Elan tha Bard: If'n ye wanna fight an evil villain bent on conquest, go ta Winy Canyon an' look fer tha big explosion.
    (VD): Call from Elan the Bard: If you want to fight an evil villain bent on conquest, go to Windy Canyon and look for the big explosion.
    <end flashback>
    Roy: The explosion? Elan, there was only going to be an explosion if we totally screwed up protecting the Gate!!
    Roy: Well, yeah.
    Roy: ...OK, I see your point.
    Laurin: Wait, is that Julio Scoundrél? Geez, I used to have a poster of him on my-
    Vampire Durkon: GIVE ME MY STAFF!
    Laurin: GAAHHH!
    <sfx> pop! pop!
    Tarquin: So I suppose you're the one who taught him to pun? His vocabulary is terrible.
    Julio: Cut me some slack, I only had a few days.
    Elan: I sorta thought he'd help out with Nale and then we'd figure out a way to go beat my dad together, but this is even better!
    Roy: Stop retroactively justifying your plot twist and go help the others!
    Elan: Sorry.
    Tarquin: Frankly, I'm surprised you agreed to show up. Our past differences aside, you of all people should be able to see the shape of this.
    Julio: Oh, sure- the wise old mentor who trained the hero always gets killed in these stories. That's why I told him to get bent. It was his second Sending that eventually convinced me.
    Elan: Tell him... tell him this: The hero of any story can defy danger- but only a special hero can defy stories themselves. And wouldn't that make a cool story anyway?
    <end flashback>
    Julio: And you know me, Tarkie- I just love to fly in the face of tradition!

    Spoiler: Strip 932
    His Number One Fan
    Tarquin, Julio Scoundrél, Vaarsuvius, Roy, Haley, Elan, Belkar, Blackwing

    Tarquin: I am not going to indulge you in your usual idiocy today, Scoundrél.
    Julio: What, feeling shagged already? But this time we're doing something different! I was running out of ways to crash your wedding and rescue your bride anyway.
    Vaarsuvius: Your sword, Sir Greenhilt.
    Roy: Thanks. I think I need to start lashing it to my hand.
    Haley: What is the... Where? The whuh?
    Roy: The answer to your question fragments is: Time to get the hell out of here.
    Elan: What? Roy, we have to go support Julio- he came here to help us!
    Roy: Yeah-help us escape. Big Picture time, Elan. We're in no shape to survive unless we retreat.
    Roy: <voiceover> Look how he's fighting. He's so focused on defense, he hasn't even drawn blood. That's a distraction if I've ever seen one, and I don't intend to let it go to waste.
    Roy: I want everyone on that airship before the psion pops back over here. If you can fly, carry someone who can't.
    Julio: Do you remember Jenella? Or how about Mandy? I heard she married a cleric and spit out a few rugrats.
    Elan: <singing> Keep, keep, keep, keep my dad's attention then get the heck out of there!
    Tarquin: Elan!! Elan, don't you dare leave, young man. We are not done with- Aaarggh!
    <sfx> slash!!
    Julio: Come on, Tarkie, you got to keep your eye on the guy with the Chaos Sabre- keep moving, maybe bob and weave a little.
    Belkar: Wait!! We have to go back!
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt has your cat.
    Belkar: But what about Bloodfeast??
    Vaarsuvius: Who?
    Belkar: The dinosaur! The lizard! The lizard that used to be a dinosaur! You gotta go back, elf- they'll roast the little guy on a spit for helping us!
    Blackwing: I see him!
    <sfx> SWOOP!
    Blackwing: You probably get this all the time, but I wanted to say that I'm a huge fan of your work.

    Spoiler: Strip 933
    Getting a Little Carried Away
    Bandana, Elan, Julio Scoundrél, Tarquin, Laurin, Roy

    Bandana: Elan! You're safe! Where's Captain Scoundrél?
    Elan: Still fighting my dad, Bandana. Can we bring the ship any closer?
    Bandana: You got it.
    Julio: Face it, you're in for wall-to-wall pain if you-
    Tarquin: Stop it! Stop it with the carpeting puns! I do not care about wordplay right now!! Can't you see that there are underlying problems with the structure of this scene??
    Julio: Looks like Elan and his friends are safe aboard the Mechane. Time to exit-stage up-before-
    <sfx> RRRRIIP!!
    Tarquin: And that was MY flying carpet anyway!
    Julio: You always did know how to cut a rug, Tarquin. But I'm afraid this won't be our last dance after all, since I'm-
    Tarquin: Shut up. LAURIN!
    Laurin: Whoa, it really is Julio Scoundrél. Weird. Tarquin, why didn't you ever tell me you knew him?
    Tarquin: Yeah, you're right. That is the most pressing issue for us to discuss.
    Laurin: You know, I used to be a member of your fan club.
    Julio: Really? You were a Julioteer?
    Laurin: Yeah - I had terrible taste when I was young.
    Julio: AAAAHHHH!
    Roy: Elan, we need to get out of-
    Bandana: Close enough for you?
    Elan: A little more- to the left! OK... NOW!
    <sfx> FWMP! WOOOSH!
    Julio: Heh heh... nice shot, kid.
    Tarquin: There you go! Was that so hard to try and kill me? You missed, but at least you're taking a shot at your old man!
    Julio: I think that's half your problem, T-
    <sfx> snap!
    Julio: You always think everything that happens is about you!

    Spoiler: Strip 934
    All Hands on Deck
    Elan, Bandana, Vampire Durkon, Roy, Mechane Crewman with Eyepatch, Mechane Crewman with Earring, Haley, Tarquin, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing

    Elan: OK, we've got him! Get us the heck out of here!
    Bandana: Getting the heck out of here, aye aye! Aft propellers to full!
    Elan: Bandana, is there a place where my friend can meditate for new spells?
    Vampire Durkon: Somewhere dark an' secluded'd be nice.
    (VD): Somewhere dark and secluded would be nice.
    Bandana: Uh... we have a storeroom below deck.
    Roy: Do you have any healing potions in it?
    Mechane Crewman with Eyepatch: Plenty. Come on, I'll show you.
    Elan: I guess someone should probably pull Julio up, too.
    Bandana: Yeah, his upper body strength isn't what it was when my dad used to fly this ship.
    Mechane Crewman with Earring: We're on it, B.
    Haley: Elan, honey, I'm so proud of you! Your secret plan totally worked, and you didn't let your father define you on his terms!
    Elan: Thanks! I was really worried it wasn't going to come together, but-
    Tarquin: I have had quite enough of this, young man!
    Elan: *gasp!*
    Tarquin: Defending Greenhilt was misguided but understandable- but then you go and hide behind that washed up buffoon? Trying to steer the whole story in another direction? Unacceptable!
    Haley: Sneak Attack.
    <sfx> SHTRLK!
    Tarquin: NNnrgh!!
    <sfx> CRACKK!
    Haley: My arm...!
    Elan: OK! OK, I'll fight you! Just don't hurt Haley!
    Tarquin: I'm sorry, Elan, it's too late for that. It has become clear to me that the only way you will accept your proper role is for me to utterly crush you here and now. So I am going to murder your lowlife girlfriend, burn this ship and everyone on it to ash, and chop off your hand. BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THESE THINGS ARE DONE!
    <sfx> SNAP!
    Tarquin: And when you are off brooding and healing for our inevitable final duel, I want you to remember one thing: that you forced me to do this. Just like Nale did.
    <sfx> WUMP!
    Vaarsuvius: Apologies. I was looking for signs of pursuit and did not notice we had taken on stowaways.
    <sfx> ZZZZAP!!
    Blackwing: Ooooooo! Caster fight! Caster fight!
    Vaarsuvius: Shush.
    Blackwing: (casterfight!)

    Spoiler: Strip 935
    Caster Fight
    Red-Haired Mechane Crewswoman, Vaarsuvius, Laurin, Elan, Haley, Tarquin, Bandana, Blackwing, Dreadlocked Mechane Crewman, Scruffy Mechane Crewman, Sabine

    Andi: Everybody, stay back! You know the captain's orders: No interfering with third-act duels!
    Vaarsuvius: While I respect you clear mental discipline, I will not allow you to injure my allies.
    Laurin: Don't tell me what I'm "allowed" to do, elf.
    Vaarsuvius: Cone of Cold.
    Laurin: You people up there in your lush forest while the rest of us have to fight for scraps - you can shove your false respect, because you don't know anything about me!
    Vaarsuvius: I a Forcecage!
    <sfx> pop! pop!
    Laurin: Only momentarily.
    Elan: Haley, please tell me-
    Haley: I'm fine- I'll be fine. You need to help Vaarsuvius.
    Elan: I think the crew has the right idea- I'd just end up blocking V's spells!
    Haley: Then sing!
    Tarquin: Damn it, Shattersmith- the elf isn't important! Just nova it already!
    Laurin: Will you shut up and let me fight??
    Bandana: Oh, hell no. No way, no how is some crazy old dude gettin' back on our ship after breakin' a lady's arm. ROUGH SEAS AHEAD, PEOPLE!
    Elan: <singing> Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on everyone who's not trying to murder anyone!
    Vaarsuvius: Dimensional Anchor.
    Blackwing: You wanna dispel something? Dispel this- BIRD TO THE FACE! Caw! Caw! Ow! Ow! Ow! I made a poor decision!
    Laurin: You must be feeling drained so late in the day if you're sending your familiar in to attack me.
    Vaarsuvius: I assure you my companion's decisions are reflective of nothing - least of all, rational planning.
    Blackwing: That's certainly true...
    Vaarsuvius: Resilient Sphere.
    Laurin: You already tried putting me in a box, wizard! You're wasting everyone's time! I can counter any spell you have left, so why not just save yourself the pain and-
    Vaarsuvius: I have in excess of twenty-five spells remaining. Not counting cantrips.
    <sfx> pop!
    Vaarsuvius: Blackwing, are you well?
    Blackwing: My feathers hurt. How come my feathers hurt?
    Dreadlocked Mechane Crewsman: She booked? Why?
    Scruffy Mechane Crewsman: Yeah, I thought she was winning.
    Vaarsuvius: Whether or not she could, indeed, counter any spell I cast, the fact of the matter is she was very low on energy with which to do so.
    Dreadlocked Mechane Crewsman: Ohhhhh. How'd you know? A spell?
    Vaarsuvius: No, merely a combination of observations, calculations-
    Sabine: <whispering> -and that bastard has a Ring of True Seeing now, so don't try illusions or invisibility. If you end up fighting Laurin, watch out. She's not afraid to pull out the big guns early and often. If I had to guess her level, I'd say-
    <end flashback>
    Vaarsuvius: -and superior intelligence.
    Blackwing: Also, I totally snagged a bauble!

    Spoiler: Strip 936
    End of the Line
    Tarquin, Elan, Haley

    Tarquin: Elan, please- Don't you think this has gone on long enough? There's no reason we can't talk about this like adults.
    Elan: You're only saying that now 'cause your ride bailed on you!
    Tarquin: Well, obviously, but that doesn't make it untrue. I admit that I may have overreacted, but just like you, I want this story between us to be as good as possible. Perhaps I have been too... restrictive... about how that story should proceed. I have an idea- why doesn't my group fund a whole legion of adventurers, and we'll put your buddy Greenhilt in charge of them all? That way, you can command your own squad while still reporting to him. At the start of each quest he can grumpily tell you that you're a loose cannon who doesn't play by the rules, and then everything pretty much revolves around you after that.
    Elan: Do you really think we're going to work with you after what you've tried to do??
    Tarquin: But everyone gets what they want with this plan!
    Elan: I don't want you to get what you want! Forget it!
    Tarquin: Ugh, your mother was just as unwilling to compromise. Look, Elan, I think I'm being very generous admitting that maybe I've partly contributed to this current climate of-
    Haley: HEY! TARQUIN! Catch. Nnnh!
    <sfx> TWANG! snatch! snatch!
    Tarquin: Elan! Elan, help me! And yourself, since this is a perfect opportunity for the hero to showcase how much better he is than the villain! Elan, son, I know we don't see eye-to-eye on much, but I think we agree that we need a better conclusion than this. How about you take me prisoner? That seems popular nowadays. We could have some really intense interrogation scenes where I try to subtly manipulate you from inside my cell! What d'ya say?
    Elan: You know, the first time I met Nale, we ended up in almost the exact same situation. He wound up hanging over a pit of monsters, and I pulled him up. He didn't understand why I did it. I told him it was because I was the Good Twin, not the Neutral Twin.
    Tarquin: Good, good, glad to hear it. Now pull me up. I think my fingers are slipping.
    Elan: But see, Dad, that's the thing. I'm not a twin anymore. And you're not the real villain. Don't worry. [b]You'll live.[b]
    Tarquin: Elan! This arc isn't over yet! Where's the growth? You didn't lose anything! Nothing has changed! YOU GET BACK HERE AND GIVE THIS PLOTLINE A SATISFYING RESOLUTION THIS INSTANT!! ELAN! ELAN, THERE'S NO SENSE OF CLOSURE! I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! THIS IS A TERRIBLE ENDING!!!

    Spoiler: Strip 937
    Travel Time
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Belkar, Roy, Elan, Bandana, Julio Scoundrél, Julio's Dentist

    Blackwing: If I don't make it... bury me with my shiny!
    Vaarsuvius: You are not injured. You have a slight smudge of dirt on three of your feathers.
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh*
    Belkar: Hey, what was with all the pitching and rolling? I came close to passing out!
    Roy: You did pass out.
    Belkar: Which I couldn't have done if I hadn't come close to it first, genius.
    Elan: Everything's fine. It was nothing Haley and V couldn't handle.
    Roy: Oh, OK. Check it: healing potions for everyone.
    Belkar: Except me. Stupid blood drain.
    Bandana: Take as many as you want. We've got crates of 'em on account of the captain's endorsement deal with the brewer.
    Julio: Elan! There you are, my boy!
    Elan: Julio! Thanks for showing up! I was worried you weren't going to.
    Julio: How could I resist such a compelling argument? Besides, it was the most fun I've had in ages.
    Elan: Was it enough fun that you'd maybe pretty pretty please fly me and my friends around for a while?
    Julio: Ha! Sure, why not? The Mechane is at your disposal.
    Bandana: Does that mean we have a destination?
    Roy: North. All the way- past Dwarven Lands, even.
    Bandana: Good, 'cause I've been flying on a heading of Get the Heck Out of Here for 15 minutes.
    Julio: No problem. I can get you there in ten days- eight, if the fate of the world is at risk.
    Roy: You have reserve power you can use?
    Julio: No, I mean the ship literally flies faster the more is at stake. Darndest thing, really.
    Roy: Huh. Do you think you could shave a day off if there might be two worlds on the line?
    Julio: It's worth a shot, but I've been doing this more than 30 years and I've never arrived anywhere earlier than the nick of time.
    Dentist: Mr. Scoundrél! We were just about to cancel your root canal!
    Julio: I guess I've got some nerve causing a commotion!

    Spoiler: Strip 938
    This is Not a Thing That is Going to Happen
    Julio Scoundrél, Roy, Elan, Haley

    Julio: The real problem is that we'll be losing two days going around the Elven Lands.
    Roy: Hmmm. We may actually be able to get permission for a flyover...
    Elan: Hey Roy? So, um, Haley has something to say that you probably aren't going to want to-
    Haley: We need to pick up my dad before we leave.
    Roy: What? No, Haley, we can't-
    Haley: He's in more danger than ever, and it's all because of me. Tonight might be our only chance to smuggle him off the continent before Tarquin's allies get to him.
    Roy: I can sympathize, but we do not have time to track down a rogue who is trying his best to disappear.
    Haley: I can set up a rendezvous using Sending- we have a secret password so he'll know it's really me.
    Roy: *Sigh* OK, fine, but only because it's on the way. And you only get ten minutes to convince him to come along this time. A normal ten minutes, not the decompressed 40-strips-equals-ten-minutes kind.
    Julio: Here, use my Sending wand, my dear. I always keep it here in my coat pocket for emergencies.
    Haley: Thanks, Julio.
    Elan: How come you didn't let me use that when we were racing to warn Haley about Nale taking my place?
    Julio: For the same reason I didn't tell you that you bore an uncanny resemblance to one of my B-list villains.
    Elan: It made for a better story.
    Julio: Exactly. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm in desperate need of a wardrobe change.
    Elan: Huh. It's weird... I've always done whatever it took to make things as dramatic as possible, too.
    Roy: I know. I was the guy you made wait for the first dungeon explosion.
    Elan: But now, it just feels... strange. Like, I mean, stories are fun and all, but they're not worth hurting people over. I think a lot of people suffer because my dad doesn't get that.
    Roy: Elan...if we manage to stop Xykon and the world is safe, we'll figure out something to do about your father's empires. You have my word.
    Elan: Thanks, Roy. I really appreciate it.
    Roy: You're mentally workshopping sequel titles, aren't you?
    Elan: I'm leaning toward, "Order of the Stick 2: Order Stickier!"

    Spoiler: Strip 939
    Donation Drive
    Vampire Durkon, Roy, Belkar, Haley, Elan

    Vampire Durkon: All done, laddies! I've replenished me spells an' can cure yer assorted ailments.
    (VD): All done, laddies! I've replenished my spells and can cure your assorted ailments.
    Roy: Great! Belkar first- he needs his blood supply replenished.
    Belkar: With my own blood. Not your blood in some nutty vampire blood pact.
    Vampire Durkon: Restoration.
    Belkar: Don't expect me to be grateful or anything.
    Vampire Durkon: Wouldnae dream of it. 'Twas na meself when I drank yer blood, lad.
    (VD): Wouldn't dream of it. I was not myself when I drank your blood, lad.
    Belkar: As opposed to now?
    Vampire Durkon: Aye. I feel right as Thor's rain. Regenerate!
    Belkar: So, do we have a strategy, or should we just gang rush him and drive a stake through his heart?
    Roy: What? No! Why would we do that?
    Belkar: Gee, I don't know, because he's a mockery of all we hold dear?!
    Roy: Since when did you have a problem with mockery?
    Belkar: Mockery is one of the things I hold dear! And he's making a mockery of it! Look, you said that we were keeping him because it was too hard to lug his corpse around with us. Well, Elan's gotten a zippy new ride to carry our stuff, so I say we get our Van Helsing on sooner rather than later.
    Roy: No. Just... no. He's helping. I'm not even considering it until we have a way of resurrecting him in front of us.
    Belkar: Oh yeah? So when his hunger for blood causes him to start chugging crew members like a frat boy on Spring Break, what're you-
    Roy: Hey, Durkon! How often do you need to drink blood to stay alive? I mean, uh, not dead?
    Vampire Durkon: Once each night, ideally. Why?
    Roy: Here's what you're going to do: Every day when you prepare spells, make sure Restoration is one of your 4th-level spells. Once you drain blood from someone, you cast it on them right after. They're back to full strength, you're not hungry anymore- Everybody wins.
    Belkar: Yeah? What poor sap are you going to find to get his blood sucked out every night?
    Roy: Me. I'll do it. It's the least I can do for a friend in need.
    Vampire Durkon: Och, Roy, tha means a lot ta me. Thanks, lad.
    (VD): Oh, Roy, that means a lot to me. Thanks, lad.
    Haley: We'll pitch in, too.
    Elan: Yeah! We can get stickers saying we donated, and drink orange juice after!
    Belkar: You're nuts. You've all gone crazy, and the worst part is, you've turned me into a hipster tool in the process.
    Elan: How are you a-

    Spoiler: Strip 940
    Resisting A Rest
    Haley, Ian, Geoff, Gannji, Enor, Amun-Zora

    <sign text> Welcome to Tyrinia CLOSED. Border Patrol HQ
    Haley: Dad, you have to come with us!
    Ian: Sorry, kitten. No can do.
    Haley: You said every time you escape, they find you and drag you back. How is this different?
    Ian: It just is. I can feel it. This time, we're really gonna do some good.
    Geoff: Great, another Ian Starshine hunch.
    Haley: Is this about Elan again? Because you don't need to stay with us, we can drop you off somewhere safe.
    Ian: No, the kid's beside the point. I just think-
    <sfx> WHAM!
    <poster text> WANTED
    Gannji: Ian Starshine! You're coming with us!
    Haley: Dad, run! I'll hold them off!
    <sfx> twang! thunk!
    Gannji: Hey! Ouch! What are you-?
    Haley: You're not dragging my father back for that bounty, Gannji!
    Gannji: No, we don't want to turn the old guy in! We want him to join us!
    Enor: Toldja we shoulda knocked.
    Ian: Join you? As bounty hunters?
    Gannji: No. The invitation's on behalf of our new client. Let's just say we're doing some pro bono work with the goal of settling some outstanding debts.
    Amun-Zora: The Empire of Blood will fall, and the monster Tarquin will end on my blade. I saw the posters, and thought anyone worth framing for treason is someone I want to be in business with.
    Ian: How do I know I can trust you?
    Amun-Zora: You don't, and you shouldn't.
    Ian: Just the way I like it. I'm in.
    Amun-Zora: If you have any gear, grab it. We're meeting with the remnants of my city's special forces at dawn.
    Gannji: So, no hard feelings on the whole kidnapping thing?
    Haley: If anything happens to him, you'll make a very stylish handbag.
    Gannji: I'm going to choose to hear that as, "We cool."

    Spoiler: Strip 941
    Relatively OK
    Haley, Ian, Elan

    Haley: Dad, are you sure about this? We're headed all the way to the North Pole. If you don't come now, I don't know when - or even if - I'll be able to come back.
    Ian: Stop worrying, Haley! I can take care of myself.
    Haley: Since when?
    Ian: The last thing I want is for you to get bogged down babysitting your old man. I'll be fine.
    Haley: You don't understand. I've left peopled behind to continue the good fight without me before - and I just found out they all died.
    Ian: And you think that's your fault? That you could've stopped whatever killed them single-handedly?
    Haley: ...No. Not really.
    Ian: So you're just beating yourself up over it for no reason.
    Haley: Not no reason. Just not a good reason.
    Ian: You've got your own path to follow now. Your own chance at being better. Go and make your mother proud.
    Haley: But what about you?
    Ian: Go make me proud, too.
    Haley: I love you so much, Daddy.
    Ian: I love you, too, kitten.
    Elan: Uh, Mr. Starshine, sir?
    Ian: Oh. It's you.
    Haley: Dad, be nice.
    Elan: I don't really want to get off the ship because I think your new boss still wants to kill me- but I wanted to give you this.
    Ian: What is it? Explosive Runes?
    Elan: It's a new secret plan for fighting my father that I came up with on the way over here. I wrote it down so I could give it to you.
    Ian: This is... pretty good, actually. Yeah, this might work. We'll need to train, and get the right equipment, but... yeah. Not bad, kid. Maybe you're not a diabolical sleeper agent out to infiltrate my family and destroy everything I've worked for.
    Elan: Truly, that's all any man can hope to hear from his girlfriend's father.

    Spoiler: Strip 942
    But He Probably Has a Halberd Now
    Haley, Ian, Geoff, Bozzok, Female Adventurer, Jiminy

    Haley: I love you! Stay safe, Dad! Tell Uncle Geoff to stay safe, too!
    Geoff: I couldn't keep him inside any longer - his daughter's allies busted him out. Do you want me to rat him out to the locals again?
    Buzzok: His daughter? ... No. No, I don't care about Ian anymore. Where is Haley? Is she with you?
    Geoff: She just left on a big airship. Said she was headed to the North Pole, for some reason. What do you want me to-
    Ian: You filthy rotten TRAITOR!
    Geoff: AHHHH!
    Ian: It was YOU? All along, keeping us from escaping? YOU were the one tipping off Tarquin's goon squad??
    Geoff: Ian, please don't kill me! I can explain! I did it for Jiminy!
    Ian: Your son? What does he have to do with anything?
    Geoff: He wanted to leave the Thieves' Guild- and Bozzok was ready to kill him for trying!
    Geoff: <voiceover> Ivy and I... we agreed to do whatever he wanted if he'd let Jiminy leave town. He had this plan to keep you away from Greysky City, but he needed someone credible to deliver the bait.
    Ian: And he knew I only trusted family.
    Geoff: I am sorry, Ian. I hope you can understand. You wouldn've done the same if it'd been Haley.
    Ian: Yeah. I probably would've. But three years rotting in that hole...
    Geoff: Whenever I wavered, I just imagined Jiminy out there somewhere, living his new life. He has a chance to be someone important, Ian-because of my sacrifice.
    Female Adventurer: Do you, in fact, have any polearms at all?
    Jiminy: Certainly!

    Spoiler: Strip 943
    Everyone Hates Goodbye Scenes
    Belkar, Blackwing, Haley, Elan, Julio Scoundrél

    Belkar: One flap closer and I'm having chicken-fried raven tonight!
    Blackwing: But I just want his autograph!
    Haley: Belkar, leave Blackwing alone.
    Blackwing: Yeah, leave Blackwing - Hey! You remember me now?
    Haley: Shyeah. I'm the one who named you! I was just busting V's chops before.
    Blackwing: Huh. Well, V's chops have been utterly and thoroughly busted. So, job well done, I guess.
    Elan: Hey, has anyone seen Roy?
    Blackwing: He's below decks, talking to Vaarsuvius.
    Elan: Wow! A talking bird!
    Blackwing: So is he also just-
    Haley: Probably not, no.
    Elan: Where's Julio, then? I wanted to ask him about some of the other times he fought my father.
    Bandana: He, uh... he told me to give these to you.
    Elan: His sword? And a letter?
    Julio Scoundrél: <voiceover> Dear Elan - By the time you read this letter, I'll have taken my spare flying carpet and left the ship.
    Elan: *Gasp!*
    Julio Scoundrél: <voiceover> This is your adventure, Elan. My questing days are behind me. I've left Bandana in command of the Mechane for a while, but I've given her orders to take you wherever you need to go. Take my Chaos Sabre, too. You need a new sword, and it won't be much use where I'm going. I've decided to take a long overdue vacation to the Outer Planes. I hear Arborea is lovely this time of cenutry. I wish you the best of luck, Elan, and I can't wait to hear the tale. ~Julio
    Elan: Oh man! I can't believe he left without saying goodbye! There's so much I still wanted to say to him!
    Haley: Well, you could just turn around. He's standing behind you doing the voice-over through a can.
    Elan: Farewell, brave captain! I know not when we shall see your like again!
    Julio Scoundrél: "P.S. Actually, maybe I better hit the head before I go."

    Spoiler: Strip 944
    All of the Above, Actually
    Roy, Vaarsuvius

    Roy: OK. OK, so there are two windows left for them. One for 20 minutes, one for about three. Going forward, then, we need to try to plan our tactics so that if the fiends pull you out of the action, we can cover the-
    Vaarsuvius: Sir Greenhilt, when I sought your counsel on this issue, I was not primarily concerned with the resultant tactical implications.
    Roy: Too damn bad! That's all I'm qualified to talk about! I'm sorry. I'm sorry, it's just what you're telling me... Familicide... This is just way over my head. It's too big. I'm the guy who hits things, not a philosopher. And our cleric is in the shop.
    Vaarsuvius: You seem at ease dealing with the halfling's various transgressions.
    Roy: When he hits things, yeah. I can wrap my head around it. This... Am I supposed to be mad at you? Or just horrified? Legally, I can't make heads or tails of it. You may have killed an unknown number of victims in indeterminate jurisdictions. I wouldn't know to whom to turn you over. And morally? Ethically? I don't know. You said one word and wiped out thousands of lives. Some intentionally, most accidentally. How can that ever be fixed? What price paid could ever be enough?
    Vaarsuvius: I respect your integrity. I would thus still value your opinion.
    Roy: *sigh* OK. Well, here's what I've got: When I was younger, I... knew a wizard. Who did a lot of empirical spell research. And one time, one of those experiments blew up and... someone died. Someone innocent. And yeah, it was an accident, but for years he never acknowledged that maybe it could have been... I don't... really know where I was going with this. But you care. You know you screwed up, and you want to make it right. I've been told that trying counts for a lot. You may never balance the scales. You may never make it up to the one who died on your watch. But giving up on fixing it is like killing them all over again.
    Vaarsuvius: ... Are we discussing my situation, your family history, or your decision to donate blood to Master Thundershield?
    Roy: Hey, don't go changing the subject by trying to determine the actual subject.

    Spoiler: Strip 945
    Jumbled Up
    Vaarsuvius, Roy, Laurin, Miron

    Vaarsuvius: Should I depart, then? Begin penance - in whatever form it ultimately takes - at once?
    Roy: I won't stop you, but I can't recommend it. Not when this whole thing is coming to a head, anyway. Plus, based on the timing, it sounds like those three archfiends are interested in the Gates. Thwarting whatever their plans are may not count as atonement, but sometimes you have to stop the bleeding before you can start to heal.
    Vaarsuvius: I suppose if the world is obliterated, there will be no one left to whom I might make restitution.
    Roy: That, too. Though honestly, I don't even know if we are saving the world anymore. Obviously, Xykon is a menace that needs to be put down hard no matter what his plan really is. But after seeing that ocean through the Rift... and what you say that bird of yours saw...
    Roy: <voiceover> Can we even be certain this "Snarl" really exists?
    Laurin: You were better off getting out when you did. The whole thing was a fiasco.
    Miron: I'm surprised he agreed to your favor.
    Laurin: Well, I may have asked him before agreeing to 'port him back to his palace.
    Miron: Heh heh. Still, I don't get it. Why ask for control of the valley?
    Laurin: Because our usual "Finders Keepers" rule meant that he was entitled to-
    Miron: No, I mean, why spend a favor on it?
    Laurin: I peeped a look into this weird portal thing with Clairvoyance before the battle started. When you're close enough you can see a whole ocean in there! Enough water to support a new city, with the right desalination magic.
    Miron: Well, gosh, Laurin, it sounds like some lucky plumber will be getting the job of a lifetime!
    Laurin: Now you're catching on! Ha ha!
    Miron: This isn't going to be like that time with the marids, is it?
    Laurin: No, it's definitely not the Plane of Water. I've been telepathically scanning into this hole and I haven't even sensed Wait, I think...
    Miron: ...Laurin?
    Roy: The truth is, we don't know what is really going on anymore.

    Spoiler: Strip 946
    It's What's Inside That Counts
    Elan, Roy, Vaarsuvius, Bandana, Haley, Belkar, Blackwing, Hel, Vampire Durkon

    Elan: Isn't this awesome, Roy? We have this totally cool airship to go to the last Gate!
    Roy: Yeah, it's really great. You did well.
    Vaarsuvius: I was able to cover the length of this vessel with three castings of Dimensional Lock, which should prevent access via teleportation.
    Roy: So, are we secure?
    Vaarsuvius: I will need to renew it in a fortnight or so, but yes.
    Bandana: And Captain Scoundrél built scrying bafflers into the hull to hide us from the authorities years ago, so that won't be a problem neither.
    Vaarsuvius: Either.
    Bandana: Huh?
    Roy: Hey gang? Gather round. I want to talk to you for a minute. Obviously, it's been a rough few days. And there have been some changes. Changes in ourselves, and possibly in our mission. Maybe we're not really saving the world from destruction. Maybe we're just stopping an evil lich from doing any more damage - like we were at the start, before this Gate thing even came up. But you know what? It doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything. We're still the Order of the Stick, no matter how much stuff changes along the way. I'm sure there will be even more changes before the endgame - things we can't even hope to predict now. And I'm just as sure that we'll get through them all. Not because we're destined or chosen or fated or any of that clichéd heroic garbage. Nah. We'll get through because we're the ones who are too dumb to know when to quit. And let's face it. If idiocy becomes an asset in this fight, we'll all be unstoppable.
    Elan: Hooray for us!
    Haley: Heck yeah, we're gonna kick some bad guy asses!
    Belkar: I was going to object, but if I had half a brain I'd have bailed ages ago.
    Vaarsuvius: Our likelihood of success does seem to have become a poor predictor of our persistence.
    Blackwing: Which means the element of surprise is ours!
    Roy: OK, that's all I really wanted to say. Everyone rest up and get ready for what's next. Whatever that ends up being.
    Bandana: I don't get it. Was that supposed to be encouraging?
    Belkar: Our bar for inspiring speeches has been set pretty low.
    Vaarsuvius: I shall update Lord Hinjo on our progress.
    Roy: Good, good. Wait- where's Durkon?
    Haley: He holed himself back up in that storeroom. He said until he figures out how to cast the Protection from Daylight spell himself, he doesn't want to waste charges from the staff unless he needs to.
    Roy: Oh. Yeah, that makes sense. I keep forgetting that's an issue now.
    Haley: Me too, but it's like you said-
    Haley: <voiceover> No matter how much we change, we're still us, right?
    Hel: Well?
    Vampire Durkon: It all goes smoothly. I have convinced the dwarf's allies to accept me as the dwarf himself - despite having slipped up on his ridiculous accent a few times. They have procured faster transportation, as well. I am confident I will arrive in the North in time to carry out your orders.
    Hel: Outstanding. Well done, my serindipitous servant.
    Vampire Durkon: Service is my sole purpose, my lady.
    Hel: Of course it is. Nergal's snake may have sired you, but the dwarves fall under my purview. Your dark spirit was birthed in my hall. And now, as High Priest of Hel, you will finally bring this world to ruin - and drive that buffoon Thor to his knees in the process. What of the dwarf's spirit?
    Vampire Durkon: It is well in hand, my lady. He struggles within me, but he cannot resist providing me with his memories when I call upon them. He is powerless to influence our plans. He is of no concern.
    <panel text> The Order of the Stick will return on March 31st.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2017-07-27 at 10:01 AM. Reason: making minor changes
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    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
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  16. - Top - End - #196
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    ALRIGHT! So Book 5 is posted. But its going to take a while to go through. There's a lot wrong with it currently, so its something to think about. Littlebum, I saw you posted in there, so thank you for getting rid of it while I was posting. You folks are free to post now, and we can continue the current conversation about Dwarven accent translations, as well as editing mistakes riddling books 1 - 4.

    Jaxzan is bravely looking into Book 2, do I have any takers for looking for mistakes for Books 3 or 4? Maybe Book 1?

    Just post any corrections you find are needed in the thread, as my inbox is often teeming with PM's. Once again, thank you for all of your help in this project! We started on Christmas Eve a year ago, and here we are on the "home stretch" of being completely up-to-date! You're all awesome, and this thread is awesome.

    And a special thanks to Rich, who writes these comics, so that we can be here doing this!

    Edit: Another one for us to discuss is "Lad" and "Lass". Do we use "Boy" and "Girl"? Proper names instead? Keep it as is?
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-29 at 10:42 AM.
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    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
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  17. - Top - End - #197
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Och, can mean multiple things, so if we translate it, I think it's best to leave it up to the transcriptor's discretion. I think we should translate it, since if someone ever does want to search for "Och" we have the real thing as well. Lad and lass should stay as that. Should we translate "laddie" as "lad".

    Also, I can't believe we've got Book 5! This project has done so well!

    Peelee’s Lotsey

  18. - Top - End - #198
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    I think "och" should be translated to "oh", that's probably as close as someone is gonna get. If they search "och" they'll still find it since we have the untranslated text as well. Lad and Lass should be Boy and Girl.

    I also think that, whatever our decision, you should have a translation guide in the first post.
    Last edited by littlebum2002; 2015-01-29 at 12:37 PM.

  19. - Top - End - #199
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxzan Proditor View Post
    Och, can mean multiple things, so if we translate it, I think it's best to leave it up to the transcriptor's discretion. I think we should translate it, since if someone ever does want to search for "Och" we have the real thing as well. Lad and lass should stay as that. Should we translate "laddie" as "lad".

    Also, I can't believe we've got Book 5! This project has done so well!
    Well, the way I see it, if Granpappy is Grandfather, Lad and Lass should be translated too. But that's just me. Laddie seems to be a younger form of Lad, like "Kid", but it's hairy if we keep Lad, but change Laddie.

    Quote Originally Posted by littlebum2002 View Post
    I think "och" should be translated to "oh", that's probably as close as someone is gonna get. If they search "och" they'll still find it since we have the untranslated text as well.

    I also think that, whatever our decision, you should have a translation guide in the first post.
    I agree that there should be something to guide translating Dwarven a bit more. I'd have thought the example would have been specific enough. I should just start making a list...
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-01-29 at 12:39 PM.
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  20. - Top - End - #200
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Edit: Another one for us to discuss is "Lad" and "Lass". Do we use "Boy" and "Girl"? Proper names instead? Keep it as is?
    When I was transcribing, I chose to keep "lad". "Lad" is valid English, after all, and "boy" can have a number of negative connotations I felt would change the tone of the sentence.

  21. - Top - End - #201
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif View Post
    When I was transcribing, I chose to keep "lad". "Lad" is valid English, after all, and "boy" can have a number of negative connotations I felt would change the tone of the sentence.
    Going through corrections in book 5, some people have also translated Lad and Lass to the person he is speaking to's name. So I suppose that's another option. So for instance:

    Lad = Roy, or whoever
    Lass = Haley, or whoever
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2015-02-04 at 10:34 AM.
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
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    Order of the Stick Projects:
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  22. - Top - End - #202
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    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Going through corrections in book 5, some people have also translated Lad and Lass to the person he is speaking to's name. So I suppose that's another option. So for instance:

    Lad = Roy, or whoever
    Lass = Haley, or whoever
    Nice. I approve of this idea. Thanks!

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    And myth and legend thrive
    Quote Originally Posted by woweedd View Post
    I would say that's the dumbest theory Grey Wolf's heard, but, let's be honest: It's Grey Wolf. They've probably heard dumber theories today. Point is, neat idea, but it's a real stretch.
    Ceterum autem censeo Hilgya malefica est

  23. - Top - End - #203
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    Alrtight! Book 5 has been proofread and is now ready for people to peruse! Let me know about the mistakes people might find! Now on to Book 6, which I suppose I can start posting whenever, since we'll be going by new posts to the comic pretty soon, so I'll just be adding to an existing post eventually. I can't really estimate how long it is, so I'll likely do posts, and once the book is done repost them and delete the old ones, so that we can have them nicely grouped.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    Nice. I approve of this idea. Thanks!

    Grey Wolf
    Great! Anyone else have any input?
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  24. - Top - End - #204
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 947 to 964
    Book 6: Currently Untitled
    Previous Book | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 947
    Keep in Mind
    Young Durkon, Durkon's Mother, Dwarf on Ladder, Red-Haired Dwarf, Vampire Durkon

    Durkon: Mama... wha? Wha's tha?
    (D): Mama... what? What's that?
    Sigdi: It's called tha sky, me li'l laddie. It's whar bless'd Thor lives. Yer granpappy brought me up ta see tha sky fer tha first time onna summer day like this.
    (S): It's called the sky, my little Durkon. It's where blessed Thor lives. Your grandfather brought me up to see the sky for the first time on a summer day like this.
    Durkon: Wha's it fer?
    (D): What's it for?
    Sigdi: Tha sky? It holds tha world down! If'n thar weren't no sky, tha ground'd just up an' float away!
    (S): The sky? It holds the world down! If there weren't no sky, the ground'd just up and float away!
    Durkon: An' wha're those fluffy things?
    (D): And what are those fluffy things?
    Sigdi: Clouds. Whar Thor keeps 'is water when 'e's na usin' it.
    (S): Clouds. Where Thor keeps his water when he's not using it.
    Durkon: An' tha really bright torch?
    (D): And the really bright torch?
    Sigdi: 's call'd tha sun. Sunna drives it 'cross tha sky each day.
    (S): It's called the sun. Sunna drives it across the sky each day.
    Durkon: Mama... it's all so... pretty.
    Sigdi: Yer pa loved ta stare at tha sky fer hours. 'E used ta say ta me-
    (S): Your father loved to stare at the sky for hours. He used to say to me-
    Durkon: Mama!!
    <sfx> CRACKK!
    Dwarf on Ladder: Gaaaah!!
    Sigdi: Stay put, laddie! Dinnae leggo.
    (S): Stay put, laddie! Don't let go.
    Dwarf on Ladder: Ahhhh! AHHH!
    Sigdi: Di. Nae. Le. Go.
    (S): Do. Not. Let. Go.
    Red-Haired Dwarf: We gotcha, sarge! We're pullin' ye up.
    (R): We gotcha, sarge! We're pulling you up.
    Sigdi: Ooof!!
    Red-Haired Dwarf: Thor's nuts, tha were impressive!
    (R): Thor's nuts, that was impressive!
    Dwarf on Ladder: Ye saved me life, Sergeant!!
    (D): You saved my life, Sergeant!
    <sfx> *huff!* *huff!* *huff!* *huff!*
    Sigdi: Och, stop that. I dinnae do nuthin' no one else 'ere wouldnae've done.
    (S): Och, stop that. I didn't do anything anyone else here wouldn't have done.
    Sigdi: I were jus' closer'n most.
    (S): I was just closer than most.
    Sigdi: Me son- whar's me-?
    (S): My son- where's my-?
    Durkon: 'Ere, Mama!
    (D): Here, Mama!
    Sigdi: Let's go back unnerground, aye? Tha sky's pretty, sure, but ain't no place fer us dwarves.
    (S): Let's go back underground, aye? The sky's pretty, sure, but ain't no place for us dwarves.
    Durkon: Aye, mama! C'n we haf grilled cheese fer lunch?
    (D): Aye, mama! Can we have grilled cheese for lunch?
    Sigdi: Aye, absolutely.
    Durkon: I love ye, Mama.
    (D): I love you, Mama.
    Sigdi: I love ye too, Durkon.
    (S): I love you too, Durkon.
    Vampire Durkon: If I wasn't composed entirely of negative Energy, I would yarf.
    <end flashback>

    Spoiler: Strip 948
    Behind the Eyes
    Vampire Durkon, Durkon

    Vampire Durkon: You're wasting your time. So to speak. I get what you're trying to do. I asked a simple question that would help me impersonate you, and you showed me an elaborate memory-scene about your mother. You're hoping your clueless friends will notice the lag, and maybe start to wonder if their buddy's corpse is being driven around like a stagecoach by an evil spirit. (Because it is.) Could happen, right? Wrong. We're inside your mind, which means everything that happens in here happens at the speed of thought. Only a split second will pass outside your skull, no matter how many memories you give me at once.
    Durkon: Then wha d'ye care if'n I watch wha I wanna watch?
    (D): Then wha d'ye care if'n I watch wha I wanna watch?
    Vampire Durkon: I don't. But three days ago, you were fighting me over stuff like Roy's name, and now you're giving me more than I asked for. And I just wanted to make sure you understood that you are wasting. Your. Time. But it's really all the same to me. The sooner, I absorb all your memories, the sooner I can stop talking to you. Usually, the process takes a few months, but it's not a problem if you want to start your eternal dormancy early.
    Durkon: Rnnnnh!
    Vampire Durkon: At any rate, I still got what I needed from your little tableau, so as to best imitate you. Just two little words.
    <sfx> KAABOOM!
    Vampire Durkon: THOR'S NUTS!!

    Spoiler: Strip 949
    Method Doctor
    Felix, Bandana, Haley, Long-haired Mechane Crewman

    Felix: Captain, that lightning hit us square! Both main propellers are stalled and we're losing-
    <sfx> FWOOSH!
    Felix: AHHH!!
    Bandana: Crud!
    Haley: I'm right behind you.
    Haley: ...I didn't just make that worse, did I?
    Bandana: Worry 'bout it when all my people are safe. What are you waiting for? Midships, on the double!
    Long-haired Mechane Crewman: Aye, Captain.
    Bandana: Hang in there, Felix. We've got you.
    Haley: Elan, can you help him?
    Elan: I think it might be more than I can handle. I'm going to need assistance. What do you think, Doctor Banjo? "Let's operate, Nurse Elan!" Cure Critical Wounds!
    <sfx> POKE!
    Felix: Ow!! Unnnh...
    Elan: Pull through! Pull through, darn it!
    Haley: I choose to focus on how deeply he's immersed himself in his new role as backup healer.
    Elan: You have so much to live for- you've only been in three pages so far!

    Spoiler: Strip 950
    Spell It Out
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Haley, Elan

    Blackwing: Unnnnhh...
    Vaarsuvius: How can you be airsick? You are an avian!
    Blackwing: Hey, I fly under my own power!
    Vaarsuvius: I fail to see what difference that should make.
    Blackwing: Tell you what: Instead of walking everywhere, how about you sit in a bathtub tied to a boulder, and then we give it a push down a hill? And then we'll see how settled your stomach stays.
    Haley: Vaarsuvius! We need you up here, please! Fast-ish!
    Vaarsuvius: Promise not to vomit on my scroll.
    Blackwing: Let's not sully our relationship with cheap lies.
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh*
    Haley: V, the engine's on fire!
    Elan: And it's not supposed to be!
    Vaarsuvius: Thank you, Elan, for that key situational context. The rain itself is clearly not up to the task of extinguishing the flame.
    Haley: I had some luck using my ice arrows.
    Vaarsuvius: Has the area been evacuated?
    Haley: Yes.
    Vaarsuvius: Then stand back. Cone of Cold.
    <sfx> FWOOOSH!
    <sticker text> My other airship is a carpet.
    Vaarsuvius: Ray of Frost.

    Spoiler: Strip 951
    Helping Hand
    Bandana, Belkar Bitterleaf, Elan, Felix, Haley Starshine, Roy Greenhilt, Vaarsuvius, Mechane Crewman

    Haley: Fire's out, B., but it looks like both your rear propellers are stopped.
    Bandana: I figured- we're losin' speed fast. If we don't get one of 'em started, we'll end up takin' a header into the drink. Felix, if you're OK, I want you back on the quarterdeck. Tell me exactly how much damage those engines took.
    Elan: I can help!
    Felix: Uh, sure, just don't poke me with your weird puppet again.
    Haley: V and I will take fire duty, in case it springs up again.
    Vaarsuvius: Indeed, I will keep special watch on the parts of the ship that are most inflammable.
    Mechane Crewman: Aren't those the parts you don't have to watch?
    Vaarsuvius: ...No.
    Bandana: I want us leveled out and ready to make a water landing. And clear the hold, I want everyone above decks. No way of telling how watertight this old bucket is these days.
    Mechane Crewman: Aye, Captain!
    Bandana: And you! What are you doing?
    Roy: Me? Uh, staying out of your way while you do all your professional air-sailor stuff, I guess.
    Bandana: How 'bout you get IN our way with some of that adventurer magic and maybe help??
    Roy: Hey, I'm a fighter. I don't have any magic.
    Belkar: You're as strong as a giant and you've recently survived being impaled by a triceratops.
    Roy: OK, that, but-
    Bandana: Here's a job for you: Grab that rope from them and hold on. I need Sally to fix the engine.
    Roy: Do you want me to tie it to something or...?
    Bandana: No! It'll just get ripped out of the hull again!
    Belkar: I think this "whole" fighter thing has really gotten in the way of you discovering your true destiny as a wharf.
    Roy: I'm going to dance on your grave, you know.
    Belkar: "Xykon, you let my father's skiff drift out with the tide! I will avenge it!!"
    Roy: Maybe a nice jig? I might take lessons first.

    Spoiler: Strip 952
    Weather or Not
    Felix, Elan, Sally, Bandana, Mechane Crewman with Eyepatch, Roy, Belkar, Vaarsuvius, Mechane Cleric, Vampire Durkon

    Felix: Ok...right there.
    Elan: Mending!
    Felix: Perfect
    Andi: Ok, Bandana, I've got-
    Bandana: Captain.
    Andi: Right, Captain, now. The good news is that I got the port engine up and running. The bad news is that you're not going to get more than half-speed out of it--and I had to cannibalize the starboard engine to get that much.
    Bandana: Damn it! Three days in command and I've already wrecked the ship. How long is this storm supposed to last, anyhow?
    Mechane Crewman with Eyepatch: I don't know! It makes no sense! It was clear skies and then-
    Bandana: The worst storm in years.
    Mechane Crewman with Eyepatch: Aye!
    Bandana: We need to get out of this storm one way or another. We can't take another hit like that.
    Roy: I don't see you helping.
    Belkar: Oh, I couldn't hold a candle next you. 'Cause it'd burn your rope.
    Vaarsuvius: Perhaps if you fashioned some manner of lightning rod, you could-
    Bandana: We already have a lightning rod! On the top fin. That bolt just went 'round it.
    Mechane Cleric: Captain, I've been making the proper offerings to Adad the Thunderer, I don't know why it's not working.
    Roy: Well, we're probably not in Western skies anymore. I checked our course this morning- we were on pace to cross over about half an hour ago.
    Bandana: Right when the storm started. So, if we're officially in the North now, this storm isn't Adad's work--it's Thor's.
    Vampire Durkon: Crap.

    Spoiler: Strip 953
    High Pressure Front
    Bandana, Roy, Belkar, Durkon, Vampire Durkon

    Bandana: If your vampire is a cleric of Thor, we need him to intercede before this storm tears us apart.
    Roy: Yeah, I just... think it might be more complicated than that.
    Belkar: It's not that complicated, 'cause that's not Durkon.
    Durkon: Ha! Ha!! Yer up tha creek withoutta paddle now, villain!
    (D): Ha! Ha!! You're up the creek without a paddle now, villain!
    Vampire Durkon: Shut up.
    Durkon: Me friend's may na be able ta tell tha difference--but mighty Thor 'imself will nae listen to yer pleas!
    (D): My friends may not be able to tell the the difference--but mighty Thor himself will not listen to your pleas!
    Roy: Belkar, we don't have time for you to-
    Belkar: Actually, no, this is perfect. Lurky Corpsewhiskers over here should totally have this in the bag.
    Durkon: Ye c'n pray 'n beg to an' plead to Thor all ye want, 'e's naer gonna listen ta ye.
    (D): You can pray and beg and plead to Thor all you want, he's never going to listen to you.
    Belkar: Why don't you show us how tight you and Thor are these days? Assuming you're still best buds after the whole turned-into-an-unholy-monster thingie?
    Durkon: An' when the storm dinnae weaken, wha'll ye say ta tha folks on tha boat?
    (D): And when the storm doesn't weaken, what'll you say to the folks on the boat?
    Belkar: What's the matter? Can't do it? Surely, a cleric of Thor in good standing should have no problem-
    Durkon: Tha jig is up, parasite! Thar's no way ye can fool a god wit yer sad little ruse! Soon, they'll drive ye outta this body an'-
    (D): The jig is up, parasite! There's no way you can fool a god with your sad little ruse! Soon, they'll drive you out of this body and-
    Vampire Durkon: Control Weather.
    Vampire Durkon: What? It's on the standard cleric spell list. Geez.

    Spoiler: Strip 954
    Contractual Riders on the Storm
    Vampire Durkon, Durkon, Cleric of Thor, Roy, Belkar

    Vampire Durkon: ...Control Weather... ...Control Weather...
    Durkon: Thor's mastery o' storms is absolute! Yer daft if'n ye think Hel's magic can squelch it!
    (D): Thor's mastery of storms is absolute! You're daft if you think Hel's magic can squelch it!
    Vampire Durkon: You're forgetting your theology. Surely, you must've learned about this at some point. Ah, here we are.
    Cleric of Thor: -and one of the most crucial of these many accords between the gods is the Domain Agreement. The Domain Agrement states that even though each god is absolute master of their specific aspect of reality--they will allow followers of other gods limited and well-defined access to manipulate that aspect using clerical magic. That is why we clerics of Thor can cast Flame Strike, even though fire is part of Loki's portfolio.
    <end flashback>
    Vampire Durkon: More to the point: once that contract is broken, my dread mistress is free to retaliate in kind. If Thor declared this storm beyond the reach of clerical magic, then Hel would do the same for, say, bubonic plague. Or smallpox. To say nothing of the poisons that would go unneutralized, or the dishonored dead that couldn't be raised. The toll would be staggering. And when all was said and done, it would be your precious Thor who'd invoked the wrath of Odin and the rest for breaking the truces--while Hel would be swollen with the power of those millions who'd died of curable ailments. Face it: You're just not that important, Durkon.
    Durkon: Ye evil bastard! Thor'll find a way ta punish ye!
    (D): You evil bastard! Thor'll find a way to punish you!
    Vampire Durkon: I've seen enough of your memories to know how much you value The Rules. I guess you don't like it so much when they're working against you. The best part is, if you can barely remember this stuff, there's no way those morons out there will know. The good little weather cleric will calm the storm, just like he should- and they won't suspect a thing.
    Roy: Are you trying to sink us???
    Belkar: He had a spell prepared that will actually solve our problem. That proves he can't possibly be Durkon!!

    Spoiler: Strip 955
    Strike Two
    Blackwing, Vaarsuvius, Roy, and Belkar

    Blackwing: Wow. Now I'm not just sick- I'm cold, wet, and sick. Awesome!
    Vaarsuvius: I would have thought leaving the vessel to fly free would improve your vigor. Also, I require your assistance.
    Vaarsuvius <voiceover> Though the former Master Thundershield endeavors to control the weather, the effort will require a further six minutes of spellcasting, followed by a ten minute period of gradual meteorological transition.
    Roy: You’re the one who said if he couldn’t do it, it’d prove you right.
    Belkar: Yeah, but you never listen to me! So don’t listen to me now! I mean then! Damn it!!
    Vaarsuvius: During that time, the vessel remains vulnerable to further lightning strikes. Our mission is to counter any such discharge.
    Blackwing: Ok, but… what do you need me for?
    Vaarsuvius: I require maximum perceptive capabilities. Stay close and watch the clouds.
    Blackwing: But what about-
    Vaarsuvius: Silently
    Blackwing: There!
    <sfx> KKABOOM!
    Vaarsuvius: Wall of Force!!
    Blackwing: I can’t believe that worked. How many more times can you do that?
    Vaarsuvius: Once, with a Forcecage. After that, I will be forced to rely on my secondary blocking plan.
    Blackwing: Which is?
    Vaarsuvius: Casting Protection from Electricity on you and then polymorphing you into a gargantuan roc.
    Blackwing: Hmmm. I am torn between indignant outrage and giddy anticipation.
    Vaarsuvius: No, I won’t sit on your shoulder and pretend that I am your familiar.
    Blackwing: Outrage it is, then!

    Spoiler: Strip 956
    Moving On
    Vaarsuvius, Elan, Bandana, Roy, Vampire Durkon, Belkar, Sally, Haley, and Blackwing

    Vaarsuvius: I believe the threat of electrical discharge has passed.
    Elan: Hooray! We weathered the weather!
    Bandana: Yeah, looks like we’re down to a drizzle. My people can work with this.
    Roy: Great job, Durkon. I knew we could count on you.
    Vampire Durkon: Thank ye, lad. It’s always good ta help.
    (VD): Thank you, lad. It’s always good to help.
    Belkar: Yeah, wouldn’t want to endanger your all-you-can-drink buffet.
    Andi: Bandana, those engines can’t be fixed without new parts.
    Bandana: We should be able to get everything we need from the gnomes of Tinkertown- if we can afford it.
    Roy: We can help with the money. But, how many miles out of the way is it?
    Bandana: Zero, actually. We needed to stop there to refuel anyway. But it’ll take a while to get everything fixed up, I reckon.
    Roy: *sigh* I guess a day in port is better than flying the rest of the way at one-quarter speed. How long until we get there?
    Bandana: If we haven’t blown too far off course and we don’t get any slower… about 12 hours, give or take.
    Roy: Durkon, will the weather hold until then?
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, lad. I’ll be preparin’ and castin’ tha spell again ‘fore it fades.
    (VD): Aye, lad. I’ll be preparing and casting the spell again before it fades.
    Roy: Ok, gang, the plan is-
    Andi: I’ll make a list of all the parts we’ll need.
    Bandana: I’ll check our heading and have Felix get us back on course.
    Haley: I’ll tally our finances and see if we have the cash to pay for an expedited repair job.
    Vaarsuvius: I shall assist by identifying the remaining magical items seized during our recent encounters.
    Vampire Durkon: I need ta finish researchin’ me protection spell from me staff.
    (VD): I need to finish researching my protection spell from my staff.
    Belkar: I’ll go… uh… check on Mr. Scruffy.
    Elan: And I’ll see if anyone else on the crew needs healing!
    Roy:- that stuff. The plan is exactly that stuff they just said.
    Blackwing: We can only teach them to fly, knowing someday, they’ll soar from the nest!

    Spoiler: Strip 957
    Takes One to Know One
    Belkar, Vampire Durkon, Unknown

    Belkar: Hey! HEY! Dead-for-brains! Don’t think you’re getting off that easy! I know you’re up to no good, and probably not that much neutral either.
    Vampire Durkon: Ugh, your stubborn halfling friend again. Quick, show me a memory that will help me fool him. Something deeply personal that only the two of you would know.
    <popup text> Sorry! The memory you searched for could not be found. Did you mean:
    • Physical altercations with Belkar
    • Spontaneous nicknames from Belkar
    • Olfactory insults from Belkar

    Vampire Durkon: Damn it!
    Belkar: You don’t think I can tell when someone’s faking cooperation to slide under Roy’s nose? I invented that scam! You’re infringing on my patent!
    Vampire Durkon: But I just saved tha ship from tha storm. Dinnae that prove tha I’m-
    (VD): But I just saved the ship from the storm. Doesn’t that prove that I’m-
    Belkar: The ship you’re on! You’re just saving your own dry flaky skin. I’ve done it dozens of times. Except my skin is toned and supple!
    Vampire Durkon: Belkar, lad, I dinnae understand why ye cannae just accept tha it’s jus’ me, good ol’ Durkon- only wit fangs and a new outlook.
    (VD): Belkar, lad, I do not understand why you cannot just accept that it’s just me, good old Durkon, only with fangs and a new outlook.
    Belkar: The fangs, I can handle. I’ve got no problem with fangs. It’s the outlook I don’t buy. I was there when Durkon died, and no way does he flip from forgiving me for not saving him to slurping my blood in 90 seconds. People don’t just change who they are in an instant. It doesn’t work like that. It takes time, so you don’t even know you’re changing. Until one day, you’re just a bit different than you used to be and you can’t even tell what the hell happened.
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, but I was under tha magical compulsion o’ Malack when I awoke! ‘E ordered me ta drink yer blood.
    (VD): Aye, but I was under the magical compulsion of Malack when I awoke! He ordered me to drink your blood.
    Belkar: HE HAD TO ORDER YOU NOT TO DRINK IT ALL!! You can put on the funny accent and play dress-up, but I’m on to you. And FYI: I spent months trapped behind enemy lines where the only things I was allowed to kill were undead. So I’ve gotten pretty good at it, really. What do you say to that?
    Vampire Durkon: Jump overboard.
    Belkar: Wheeeeee!
    Unknown: Halfling overboard!!
    Unknown: Aww, looked like the little guy jumped!
    Belkar: I am going to shove then sunshine so far up where the sun don’t shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days!!

    Spoiler: Strip 958
    This Sucks
    Vampire Durkon, Roy, Elan, Young Durkon, Thirden, Male Dwarf, Female Dwarf

    Vampire Durkon: An’ then ‘e just jumped o’erboard, like ‘e was tryin’ to kill ‘imself. Ask tha crew, they all saw.
    (VD): And then he just jumped overboard, like he was trying to kill himself. Ask the crew, they all saw.
    Roy: Ugh. This is like when he tried to get Miko to kill him, just to get her in trouble.
    Elan: There you are! Guess what time it is?
    Roy: Time for me to reply to your rhetorical prompt with a sarcastic quip?
    Elan: Well, yeah, but also: It’s time for my first turn donating blood for Durkon. I’m super-excited! We all agreed to let him drink from us each day in exchange for an immediate healing spell afterward that returns us to full strength.
    Roy: I know all about it Elan. It was my idea, and I did it yesterday.
    Elan: Roy, you should really know how recapping plot points using dialogue at the start of a new book works by now.
    Roy: Yes, I know. I was actually helping you do so by mentioning-Ah, forget it.
    Elan: Ok, Durkon: Chomp away!
    Vampire Durkon: Why’re ye playin’ yer lute?
    (VD): Why are you playing your lute?
    Elan: I thought some nice dinner music might class it up a bit. This is an old dwarven song about-OWW!!
    Vampire Durkon: Grrrrrrawr!
    Young Durkon: play another song, Unca Squeaky!
    Male Dwarf: Yeah, Thirden-how ‘boot tha one where Freya gets ‘er necklace from us dwarves?
    (MD): Yeah, Thirden-how about the one where Freya gets her necklace from us dwarves?
    Thirden: Let’s save that one for after tha wee one goes ta bed, aye?
    (T): Let’s save that one for after the wee one goes to bed, aye?
    Female Dwarf: How ‘boot Thor Against tha Frost Trolls?
    (FD): How about Thor Against the Frost Trolls?
    <end flashback>
    Vampire Durkon: All done, lad.
    Elan: Whoa…I fell really super lightheaded. Except I think my head is pretty dark inside, so I guess I feel darkheaded.
    Vampire Durkon: Restoration!
    Elan: Wow, now my head has the exact right level of lighting! So, how long until my strange quasi-vampiric powers kick in?
    Vampire Durkon: Uh, they dinnae. Na unless I drain ye all tha way.
    (VD): Uh, they don’t. Not unless I drain you all the way.
    Elan: Huh. Do we at least share a mystical blood bond that draws me into a mesmerizing web of erotic subtext?
    Vampire Durkon: Na.
    (VD): No
    Elan: Man, real vampires are way less interesting than fictional ones.

    Spoiler: Strip 959
    It Was Not
    Haley, Bandana

    Haley: -then in addition to the coins, we’ve got some gems that I estimate to be worth about 32,000 gp total, give or take.
    Bandana: Hmmm. Could be tight. This many new parts can cost a lot, and the gnomes got a good sense for when they’ve got you by the short hairs.
    Haley: We’ll need to wait for V’s magic item assessment to know our total budget, then. Though I should be able to sell my old armor.
    Bandana: That set I loaned you fits pretty well, then? You didn’t fall out of it with all that runnin’ around on deck.
    Haley: Yeah, actually. Kinda surprising, since you’re so skinny and all.
    Bandana: Oh, it ain’t mine. My ex left it in my closet when we split. She was curvy, like you. I was plannin’ on sellin’ it myself, but I’m real happy to let you use it.
    Haley: Thanks. I was freezing my butt off in my desert outfit, and it was only going to get worse as we headed north. Plus, as the lead woman in this comic, I think I’m contractually obligated to switch costumes at least once per volume. It’s rough now, but it’ll be a gold mine if we ever do action figures.
    <case text> The Order of the Stick. RESISTANCE LEADER HALEY STARSHINE ™.
    <case text> The Order of the Stick. LOW SELF-ESTEEM HALEY STARSHINE ™.
    <case text> The Order of the Stick. DESERT ATTACK HALEY STARSHINE ™.
    Haley: And Bandana… I know how hard it can be to suddenly be thrust into a position of authority, especially for rogue types like us. If you ever need someone to talk to about it, just-
    Bandana: You kiddin’? I’ve been workin’ toward bein’ captain my whole life!!
    Bandana <voiceover>: I grew up on this ship, watchin’ my folks get ordered around and such. I decided young that I’d rather be givin’ commands than getting’ ‘em.
    <end flashback>
    Bandana: I know this is just a temporary thing here on the Mechane, but it’ll prove I got what it takes. Put me on the path to getting’ my own ship someday, you know? But hey, I for-reals appreciate you tryin’ to do the big-sister-bonding thing anyway.
    Haley: Well, historically speaking, it was either that, or we try to murder each other while hurling offensively gender-charged insults.
    Bandana: Geez, that sounds terrible.
    Haley: Like dungeon delving with a bare midriff, all I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Spoiler: Strip 960
    Collision Testing
    Belkar, Vaarsuvius

    Belkar: -and somehow it’s my fault for causing trouble! Please tell me you can see through that glorified mosquito’s ruse!
    Vaarsuvius: In point of fact, I remain unmoved on the issue, one way or the other. Given…recent events…I am inclined not to make assumptions on the vampire’s intent based on his biology (or lack thereof). However, unlike our human companions, I see no reason to extend to him the trust that the late Master Thundershield had earned.
    Belkar: Oh come on! Get off the fence! I just told you that he tried to kill me!!
    Vaarsuvius: Oh my, what a completely unprecedented reaction to spending more than ten minutes in your company.
    Belkar: Ugh, fine. At least you’re not spoonfeeding your blood into his open mouth. Whatever happened to basic adventurer paranoia, though? It’s like these people have never had a ceiling come to life before and try to smother them.
    Vaarsuvius: Fascinating, but if we might focus on the purpose for which I have summoned you here? My divinations indicate this dagger that we retrieved from Elan’s progenitor is more potent than your current weaponry. I took the liberty of removing the red pleather hilt wrap.
    Belkar: Well it’s about time I got a magic weapon upgrade! The bard’s gotten two, and he fights like an incontinent weasel.
    Vaarsuvius: I defer to your greater experience with both fisticuffs and mustelid evacuation habits. The dagger’s power is psionic rather than magical, however- likely crafted by the psion with whom I engaged. It posses maximal efficiency enhancements in addition to shifting it’s mass as you strike to increase force.
    Belkar: Whoa…that is a seriously weird feeling. Like swinging a half-empty bottle of cough syrup. I don’t know, it’s going to take some getting used to…
    <sfx> KRTHUNK!
    Belkar: It’s fine, thanks.

    Spoiler: Strip 961
    Hearing is Believing
    Andi, Roy, Vampire Durkon

    Andi: Hey, don’t go down there! That’s where the vampire is-Oh! It’s you.
    Roy: Yeah. Me.
    Andi: Mr. Big Time Hero Guy.
    Roy: I prefer, “Roy Big Time Hero Guy.” More personal.
    Andi: OK, Roy, then. I’m Andi. Andromeda, really, but, you know-
    Roy: More personal.
    Andi: Right. I’ve been down here patching for a few hours, but it’s been all quite in there until a few minutes ago. I guess that’s praying I’m hearing?
    Roy: Yeah. It’s dusk. He’s been researching a spell that will protect him from the sun. It’s in that staff he has, but he wants to learn it as a proper cleric spell.
    Andi: Sun-resistant vampires. Sounds like just what the world needs.
    Roy: It’s, uh…complicated. There are worse threats out there.
    Andi: Gives me the creeps having him on board. One day, we work for Julio doing heroic piracy stuff, and the next, we’re taking orders from a kid and sheltering a vampire. It’s like everything reversed polarity or something.
    Roy: Yeah. Stuff changes quickly, I’ll give you that. Durkon doesn’t mean any harm, but the less contact between him and regular people before we get this thing sorted out, the better. If you can, make sure that no one on board bothers him while he’s in there.
    Andi: Does that include you? ‘Cause you look like you’re in a bothering kind of mood.
    Roy: Like I said…it’s dusk. This is the time of day that he prays to regain his clerical magic. I thought…I want to be 100% certain who he’s praying to. I know Belkar’s wrong but-
    Andi: But you’ll feel better if you know for sure. I won’t tattle, no worries. Have a listen.
    Roy: Huh. It sounds like he’s chanting “Hell no, Thor won’t go.”
    Andi: That’s…kind of a weird prayer.
    Roy: Yeah, I guess. But this is the same guy who used to send theological dissertations to the letter column of the Thor comic book. But I suppose the important thing is that he’s still one of the good guys, right?
    Vampire Durkon: Go Hel! Know? Thor won’t!

    Spoiler: Strip 962
    Just Think How Many Times He’s Seen Himself Naked
    Durkon’s Cousin, Young Durkon, Vampire Durkon, Durkon, Durkon’s Aunt, Male Dwarf, Sigdi

    Durkon’s Cousin: Ha! I scored two Thunderclaps! Boom!
    Durkon: Nuh uh! Tha rules say ye haf ta make a Raincloud ‘fore ye can roll a Thunderclap!
    (D): Nuh uh! The rules say you have to make a Raincloud before you can roll a Thunderclap!
    Vampire Durkon: So, what now you see something and a memory just pops up?
    Durkon: Aye, tha’s how memory works.
    (D): Aye, that’s how memory works.
    Durkon’s Aunt: Come on, it’s time ta go home, sweetie. Ye can play Smite Tha Tree wit yer Cousin Durkon next time.
    (DA): Come on, it’s time to go home sweetie. You can play Smite The Tree with your Cousin Durkon next time.
    Durkon’s Cousin: Awww, Ma! I was just aboot ta win!
    (DC): Awww, Ma! I was just about to win!
    Durkon: Na, ye were nae! Ye need a Raincloud first!
    (D): No, you were not! You need a Raincloud first!
    Male Dwarf: Another excellent meal, Sigdi. Are ye sure ye werenae tha army’s secret gourmet chef?
    (MD): Another excellent meal, Sigdi. Are you sure you weren’t the army’s secret gourmet chef?
    Sigdi: Ha ha, no way! I could barely boil water ‘fore I had Durkon. Had ta learn ta cook an’ learn how to do everythin’ left-handed at tha same time!
    (S): Ha ha, no way! I could barely boil water before I had Durkon. Had to learn to cook and learn how to do everything left-handed at the same time!
    <end flashback>
    Vampire Durkon: Another dinner party memory? How many of these did your mother host?
    Durkon: Hunnerds. One e’ery other Wednesday night fer me whole lifetime.
    (D): Hundreds. One every other Wednesday night for my whole lifetime.
    Vampire Durkon: With the same five people??
    Durkon: An’ thar mates an’ kids, aye.
    (D): And their mates and kids, aye.
    Vampire Durkon: Ugh. That’s gonna get old fast.
    Durkon: Yer welcome ta release me an’ go back to where’er ye came from, if’n it’s a bother.
    (D): You’re welcome to release me and go back to where ever you came from, if it’s a bother.
    Vampire Durkon: I wish. No, I’m afraid we’re stuck with each other, dwarf. My mistress has an immediate need for a cleric of your own power. Most priests of your level aren’t foolish enough to fall to undeath-much less a type that retains spellcasting. Your death was Hel’s lucky break.
    Durkon: Why cannae she just raise her own clerics from 1st level, like all tha other gods manage?
    (D): Why can’t she just raise her own clerics from 1st level, like all the other gods manage?
    Vampire Durkon: She’s tried! Every time she bequeaths clerical powers on some clever ghast or wight, some party of heroes crushes it as the final boss of a low-level dungeon!
    Durkon: So you think tha makes ye justified in wearin’ me body like a glorified magic item?
    (D): So you think that makes you justified in wearing my body like a glorified magic item?
    Vampire Durkon: My mission justifies everything, thanks, though you won’t understand until it’s too late. And frankly, if you didn’t want your private memories ransacked, you shouldn’t have formed them in the first place!
    Durkon: Och, yeah, what was I thinkin’ doin’ all tha thinkin’.
    (D): Oh, yeah, what was I thinking doing all that thinking.
    Vampire Durkon: Exactly!

    Spoiler: Strip 963
    Internal Struggles
    Sigdi, Young Durkon, Vampire Durkon, Durkon, Roy

    Sigdi: OK, sweetie, play quietly while I clean up these ‘ere dishes, aye?
    (S): OK, sweetie, play quietly while I clean up these here dishes, aye?
    Durkon: I’ll help ye, Mama.
    (D): I’ll help you, Mama.
    Sigdi: Nay, Durkon, I c’n get ‘em meself.
    (S): No, Durkon, I can get them myself.
    Durkon: But Mama, I c’n do it easier! Watch!
    (D): But Mama, I can do it easier! Watch!
    Sigdi: Lad, leggo! I c’n still carry dishes, I’m na helpless-
    (S): Lad, let go! I can still carry dishes, I’m not helpless-
    Durkon: I c’n take twice as many, tho! Look, I’ll-
    (D): I can take twice as many, though! Look, I’ll-
    <sfx> CRASH!
    Sigdi: Durkon Allotrope Thundershield!! Now look wha ye’ve done!!
    (S): Durkon Allotrope Thundershield!! Now look what you’ve done!!
    Durkon: I’m sorry, Mama. It’s just…ye were strugglin’ an’ I wanted ta help.
    (D): I’m sorry, Mama. It’s just…you were struggling and I wanted to help.
    Sigdi: Och, lad, yer a good boy—always wantin’ ta help folks. Tha’s a good instinct. But ye should na help someone witout askin’ first. Ye might make things worse if’n ye do. D’ya unnerstand?
    (S): Oh, lad, your a good boy—always wanting to help folks. That’s a good instinct. But you should not help someone without asking first. You might make things worse if you do. Do you understand?
    Durkon: I…guess so, Mama. I’m sorry.
    Sigdi: It’s fine sweetie. Thar just dishes. I’ll just have ta find a li’l extra copper this month ta buy some new ones. Mebbe I c’n borrow from Kandro ‘til Pension Day comes…Now go wash up fer bed, Durkon. I’ll tuck ye in once I finish sweepin’ up.
    (S): It’s fine sweetie. They’re just dishes. I’ll just have to find a little extra copper this month to buy some new ones. Maybe I can borrow from Kandro until Pension Day comes…Now go wash up for bed, Durkon. I’ll tuck you in once I finish sweeping up.
    Durkon: Aye, Mama!
    <end flashback>
    Vampire Durkon: Turn it off. I’m going to be lulled into oblivion if I have to sit through any more of this right now.
    Durkon: Is tha a thing tha c’n happen?
    (D) Is that a thing that can happen?
    Vampire Durkon: No.
    Durkon: Darn.
    Vampire Durkon: You’re high level; don’t you have any thrilling battles I can watch instead? Maybe a big slimy monster or something? Show me something like that. See? Now this looks promising.
    Roy: I’m going in!
    Durkon: Aye, lad!
    <sfx> SLASH! SPLURT!
    Roy: Mmrph!!
    Durkon: Lad? Are ye OK? Roy, lad, d’ye need help? Just wiggle yer foot if’n ye want me ta help. Ok, I dinnae know if tha were ye wigglin’ yer foot intentionally, or if’n yer foot were movin’ incident’lly ‘cause yer bein’ swallowed. Mebbe try kickin’ yer feet tagether if’n ye want me ta get involved?
    (D): Lad? Are ye OK? Roy, lad, do you need help? Just wiggle your foot if you want me to help. Ok, I do not know if that was you wiggling your foot intentionally, or if your foot was moving incidentally because you’re being swallowed. Maybe try kicking your feet together if you want me to get involved?
    <sfx> SCHLURT!
    Roy: Ok…new party rule: From now on, if one member of the team is being eaten, go ahead and assume that you should do something about that.
    Durkon: Och, aye, lad. Sorry, I dinnae want ta trip ye up if’n ye had it on tha ropes.
    (D): Oh, aye, lad. Sorry, I didn’t want to trip you up if you had it on the ropes.
    Roy: It’s fine, don’t worry about it. I know you’re not used to working with a teammate. Come on, let’s bring this back to the village and collect the bounty.
    Durkon: Ye want a hand pullin’ tha corpse?
    (D): You want a hand pulling the corpse?
    Roy: Yeah, OK.
    <end flashback>
    Durkon: Geez, will ye look at tha? I ne’er really thought aboot..I mean, I ne’er really put those t’gether…
    (D): Geez, will you look at that? I never really thought about..I mean, I never really put those together.
    Vampire Durkon: What are you mumbling about?
    Durkon: Tha two memories. Dinnae ye see? It’s like a straight line from one ta th’other.
    (D): The two memories. Don’t you see? It’s like a straight line from one to the other.
    Vampire Durkon: In what way?
    Durkon: Ye really don’t…? Uh, well thar both dinner parties, right? Only in tha second one, tha party is wha’s fer dinner! Get it?
    (D): You really don’t…? Uh, well they’re both dinner parties, right? Only in the second, the party is what’s for dinner! Get it?
    Vampire Durkon: Unnh. I suppose if that’s what passes for dwarven wit, I’m in for a long haul.
    Durkon: Och, tha’s nuthin’. Yer gonna haf ta watch me tell tha same knock-knock joke about five hunnerd times in Primary School.
    (D): Oh, that’s nothing. You’re going to have to watch me tell the same knock-knock joke about five hundred times in Primary School.
    Vampire Durkon: Lucky me. I guess that’s somethin’ to look forward to.
    Durkon: Aye…Thar’s definitely somethin’ ta look forward ta…
    (D): Aye…There’s definitely something to look forward to…

    Spoiler: Strip 964
    Needs More Gears Though
    Elan, Haley

    Elan: Are we allowed to spend a whole page on setting the scene like that?
    Haley: It’s fine, that steampunk stuff is super trendy these days.

    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2018-11-14 at 09:26 AM.
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  25. - Top - End - #205
    Troll in the Playground
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: The Transcription of the Stick

    The OotS Transcript - Strips 965 to 983
    Book 6: Currently Untitled
    Previous Page | Index | Next Page

    Spoiler: Strip 965
    The Bargain Hunter
    Bandana, Roy, Belkar, Andi, Haley, Elan

    <door text> Office
    Bandana: OK, we worked it out with the head mechanic, and we have good news and bad news.
    Roy: Well, considering my recent events, I have a feeling the “bad news” will be somewhat relative. No offense, Durkon.
    Vampire Durkon: None taken.
    Bandana: The good news is, she can start repairs right away. The bad news is, they’ll take at least a week.
    Roy: A week?? What happened to paying for a rush job?
    Bandana: That is a rush job. Apparently, Andi’s jury-rigging needs to be undone carefully or the whole ship might explode.
    Andi: Hey, we’d be sitting at the bottom of the sea if it weren’t for my—
    Bandana: Yeah, I know, but that don’t change nothin’ now.
    Vampire Durkon: Roy, lad, thar’s no way we can wait tha long!! We haf ta keep movin’!
    (VD): Roy, lad, there’s no way we can wait that long!! We have to keep moving!
    Roy: I know. We’re going to have to find another way north.
    Bandana: Yeah, I figured. ‘Course without you guys footin’ part of the bill, I don’t think we can afford repairs at all. It’s up over 200,000 gp, before the refueling. But that ain’t your problem, you got the world to save. We’ll get by. I’m just sorry we couldn’t be of more help.
    Roy: Hey, you got us out of the desert and this far, that’s nothing to be—
    Haley: No, no, no—no way this is how your stint at captain ends. Let me talk to her.
    Andi: What the heck is she gonna do? Haggle the price down a little? It doesn’t matter, we don’t have anywhere near that much—
    Haley: OK, she’s agreed to 43,000 gp including the fuel, and it’ll be ready first thing tomorrow morning.
    Bandana: Are you kidding?? That’s amazing! Thank you!!
    Andi: What? How-? Did she just use magic on her?
    Roy: Nah, magic makes sense. What she does defies the natural order.
    Haley: Also, she threw in a 25% off coupon at the local potion master and four free passes to brunch.
    Elan: Oooo, waffles!

    Spoiler: Strip 966
    About Town
    Haley, Elan, Roy, Belkar, Bandana, Vaarsuvius, Vampire Durkon

    Haley: —and then I explained how much publicity her business would get by being featured in the comic on the same day we announced our new book, Blood Runs in the Family.
    <book text> Order of the Stick
    Elan: Available for pre-order right now, Haley?
    Haley: Right you are, Elan!
    Roy: Can we stop the hamfisted product placement for a moment and focus, please? Let’s try to make the best use of the time we have before we leave town. This might be our last chance for supplies before we face Xykon.
    Elan: I dunno, Roy, isn’t there usually one last merchant who inexplicably hangs out right before the final battle?
    Belkar: Feh, they never sell anything but basic potions anyway.
    <sfx> WHRRRRRRRR!
    Elan: Oh! That reminds me! I’ve been meaning to ask—
    Bandana: No, just ‘cause you have an airship now does not mean that the main plot will stand still while y’all fly around and finish up all the sidequests you missed. Why does somebody always ask that?
    <sfx> DING!
    Haley: Hey, B— Elan and I are gonna sell all the loot and then do brunch. You wanna come with?
    Bandana: Sure, I guess. Andi’s overseeing repairs, so I ain’t got much else to do ‘til the gnomes are done.
    Roy: V, hold up. I have a special job for you. I need to try and find a magic item we can use to teleport directly to Kraagor’s Gate. We’ll stay with the Mechane if we need to, and we’ll pay for their repairs either way, but—
    Vaarsuvius: But with the fate of the world potentially at stake we must explore all options. I understand.
    Vampire Durkon: Lad, I was thinkin’…d’ya wanna go look an’ see wha temples thar be ‘ere in town?
    (VD): Lad, I was thinking…do you want to go look and see what temples that be here in town?
    Roy: Temples? Yeah, we should certainly stock up on healing magic, since you can’t channel positive energy as well now. Good thinking.
    Vampire Durkon: Tha’s true, lad, but I was hopin’ mebbe one o’ tha temples had a cleric tha can try to resurrect me.
    (VD): That’s true, lad, but I was hoping maybe one of the temples had a cleric that can try to resurrect me.
    Roy: You—wait you actually want to be brought back to life??
    Vampire Durkon: Och, it’s like ye said—I’m na as good at healin’ as I used ta be, an’ we’ll need all tha healin’ we can get ta beat Xykon.
    (VD): Yeah, it’s like you said—I’m not as good at healing as I used to be and we’ll need all the healing we can get to beat Xykon.
    Roy: Uh, yeah, OK. That’d be great! Let’s do that. Hey Belkar—
    Belkar: Forget it. I have my own things to do in town.
    Roy: But we’re going to try and get Durkon raised right now.
    Belkar: If that works out, then awesome. But unless you need me to terrify the gnome clerics into helping, I think you can manage it on your own.
    Roy: OK, I think I saw some marble buildings with columns as we were flying in, I bet those are probably the—
    Belkar: Do you need me to terrify the gnome clerics? Because I’m down with that.
    Roy: No, I think—
    Belkar: Just picture their little church-hats flying off their heads in fear. It’ll be adorable.
    Roy: We’ve got it, thanks.
    Belkar: Suit yourself.

    Spoiler: Strip 967
    Craft Wondrous Bauble
    Gnomish Artificer, Vaarsuvius, Blackwing

    <sign text> HATS AND MORE!
    <sign text> JUST HATS
    Gnomish Artificer: Hmmm, let’s see what I’ve got…I have a pair of boots that lets you Dimension Door three times per day?
    Vaarsuvius: Useful, certainly, but I require an item which will allow me to teleport eight creatures several hundred miles.
    Gnomish Artificer: I’m sorry, I don’t have anything like that right now. You might want to try Elaina’s Witchery, down the block.
    <sign text> partially charged wands 50% off!
    Vaarsuvius: I shall, thank you.
    Gnomish Artificer: You want the boots, or should I put ‘em back?
    Vaarsuvius: I must pass at this juncture, though I may return if I have any coin remaining.
    Gnomish Artificer: Sounds good!
    Vaarsuvius: Good day.
    Blackwing: Whoa, V, hold up! I need to speak with this fine gnome.
    Vaarsuvius: …Proceed.
    Blackwing: I snagged this sweet bauble from a grumpy psion, but it doesn’t seem to do anything but zip around in circles.
    Gnomish Artificer: Ahhh! An orange ioun stone! It subtly increases the spell power of whomever’s head it orbits.
    Blackwing: That sounds good, but I can’t cast spell.
    Gnomish Artificer: You could simply give it to your elf.
    Blackwing: I am pretty sure I mentioned it was mine. I just know I did.
    Gnomish Artificer: I see. Well, since you two share an arcane bond, I may be able to help. With a bit of artificer know-how, I can transmogrify that stone into a bracelet you can wear while still granting the bonuses to your wizard—as long as you stay close enough. There!
    Blackwing: Ooo! Ooo! Put it on my leg! Put it on!!
    Gnomish Artificer: Ha ha, looks good! Because really, who wants an annoying little thing zipping around, flying in front of your face when you’re trying to cast?
    Vaarsuvius: I concur, but unfortunately he is my familiar and I am stuck with him.
    Blackwing: So shiny…
    Vaarsuvius: *sigh* Come.

    Spoiler: Strip 968
    About Town
    Female Cleric, Male Cleric, Other Female Cleric, Vampire Durkon, Roy, Other Male Cleric, Elan, Bag Vendor

    Female Cleric: Begone!
    Male Cleric: Back, you unholy beast!
    Other Female Cleric: Turn undead!
    Vampire Durkon: Turn? Ye couldnae turn a year older on yer birthday.
    (VD): Turn? You couldn’t turn a year older on your birthday.
    Roy: See, now I know this is a bad situation because I just caught myself thinking, “Maybe I should have brought Belkar.”
    Other Female Cleric: That vampire must be destroyed!
    Roy: Funny thing, we’re all in agreement on that point. Where we differ is that we’d like to bring him back right away.
    Female Cleric: We, too, would like nothing more than for our poor dwarven cousin to live again.
    Male Cleric: But no cleric on our staff is powerful enough for that.
    Other Female Cleric: So the fact remains that the abomination must be cleansed as soon as possible.
    Roy: Since my friend hasn’t done anything wrong and he’s actively trying to fix his condition, I’m not going to let you chop off his head and fill it with holy wafers.
    Other Female Cleric: …They’re very tasty wafers.
    Roy: Still no.
    Roy: Come on, Durkon, let’s try the next one.
    Other Male Cleric: You don’t understand! Your friend’s soul is not actually in control of his—craving for blood. He may be the same person, but the thirst may overwhelm him if he doesn’t drink.
    Roy: Actually, we’ve got that part figured out, too. Thanks, though. I never really thought about how much prejudice there is against the undead before…
    Vampire Durkon: Aye, aye. I blame tha educational system.
    (VD): Aye, aye. I blame the educational system.
    Roy: Still, I doubt we’re going to find a cleric of high enough level in a town of this size…
    Vampire Durkon: Mebbe na, lad, but we hafta keep lookin’! Ye gotta haf faith! E’en if’n we dinnae find any clerics ta cast tha spells we need, I’m just sure we’ll learn somethin’ o’ value at one o’ these shrines.
    (VD): Maybe no, lad, but we have to keep looking! You got to have faith! Even if we don’t find any clerics to cast the spells we need, I’m just sure we’ll learn something of value at one of these shrines.
    Elan: Dun, dun DUN! Don’t you have any bags that aren’t dun-colored?
    Bag Vendor: We also carry greige and taupe, sir.
    Elan: Let me see the taupe.
    <counter text> Magic Bags

    Spoiler: Strip 969
    It’s Only His SECOND Favorite Cuisine
    Gnomish Vendor, Belkar

    Gnomish Vendor: That looks great! I don’t know why you want to wear your new vest of resistance +3 under your shirt, but you can hardly tell.
    Belkar: Don’t want to outdate all the merchandising overnight, know what I mean? And this’ll definitely protect against anyone using magic mojo on me, right?
    Gnomish Vendor: It will certainly reduce the chance that a spell works on you, but it’s not a guarantee.
    Belkar: Damn it! If I wanted to be a puppet for every fool with a charm spell, I’d wear a purple pointy hat and carry a stringed instrument!
    Gnomish Vendor: Actually…if it’s specifically charms you’re worried about, I may have just the thing. Here, take this cloak clasp and rub it.
    Belkar: OK, what is this supposed to—Aaaaahh!!!
    Gnomish Vendor: What? What’s wrong?
    Belkar: It hurts, that’s what’s wrong! Nnnnh—are you trying to kill me?!
    Gnomish Vendor: I don’t—I don’t know why it would do that! It’s just a simple Protection from Evil spell to block compulsion magic! It shouldn’t be causing you any discomfort unless you yourself were-
    Belkar: Oh! Yeah, nnnnh, there. It’s, uh, it’s all better now. Nnnice and soothing. No pain at all. Yep.
    Gnomish Vendor: I’m very sorry about that, this one must be malfunctioning for some reason.
    Belkar: Yeah…I’m sure that’s it.
    Gnomish Vendor: I’ve got others in the back, I’ll just go get one.
    Belkar: No, wait—I, uh, I’ll take that “broken” one off your hands for half price.
    Gnomish Vendor: Really? Oh, thank you! I was afraid I’d just have to mark it as a loss. You really are a sweetheart, helping me out like that. Those clasps cost thousands to make. I don’t suppose you’d let me take you out to lunch to thank you?
    Belkar: Stop looking at me like that! I just didn’t think I should—I mean, bad enough I was—I don’t even like gnome food! That much!

    Spoiler: Strip 970
    Wandering Eyes
    Elan, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Bandana

    Elan: Did you get whatever it was you needed in there?
    Haley: Check it—
    <panel text> WANDS!
    Elan: Wow, thanks, Haley! Those will really come in—
    Haley: Hey, hands off! They’re not for you, Elan!
    Elan: But…you’re not a spellcaster.
    Haley: So what? All you really need to do is wave it around and say the command word. Vaarsuvius has been helping me out with those ones I looted off Zz’dtri’s body.
    Vaarsuvius: What is so tragic is that this constitutes a marked improvement in technique.
    <end flashback>
    Haley: Every rogue needs a good wand for that magical trick you just can’t duplicate. Back me up, B.
    Bandana: I don’t know. Personally, I’ve never really felt the need for one at all.
    Haley: Fine then, more wands for me. Except this ones—this is for you, my sweet little secondary healer.
    Elan: Oooo! Cure Moderate Wounds!
    Haley: Consider it an early Solstice gift.
    Elan: Thank you! I promise to use it on you most of all. Except I hope I don’t have to.
    <sfx> SMOOCH!
    Bandana: That reminds me. If you folks are headed all the way up north in the winter, y’all should spring for some cold weather gear.
    Elan: I just figured Durkon would cast Endure Elements on us every morning, like he did in the desert.
    Haley: Yeah…but we probably shouldn’t rely on it. He might need those spell slots when we fight Xykon. OK, after brunch, it’s winter coats for everyone! Then we hit the potion store and stalk up! After all—We need to be prepared for whatever trouble rears its ugly head!

    Spoiler: Strip 971
    Blast from the Past
    Bandana, Haley, Elan, Crystal

    Bandana: So, what wands did you get, anyway?
    Haley: Let’s see, I got one of Obscuring Mist, and one of—
    Elan: Wait, Haley—Don’t tell us. If you don’t say out loud what you got, then there’s a better chance that they’ll be exactly the spell you need later.
    Haley: But I already know what they all are.
    Elan: Sure, you know, but—
    Bandana: Haley, LOOK OUT!
    Haley: What the—
    <sfx> POW!
    Haley: ELAN!
    <sfx> THUNK!
    Haley: OK, who the hell are you and what did you do to my—*GASP!* CRYSTAL?!?
    Crystal: NICE BOOTS

    Spoiler: Strip 972
    She Might Even Be a Bit Ahead
    Bandana, Haley, Crystal

    Bandana: Elan’s out cold from that Sneak Attack. I’m guessin’ his daddy sent this thing after him?
    Haley: No, this one’s from my past, unfortunately—not his.
    Bandana: An old girlfriend, then?
    Haley: Ewww, gross! I had much better taste in girls than her.
    Crystal: YOU KILLED ME
    Haley: And I don’t know why you’re complaining, since I obviously didn’t do a very good job of it!
    Bandana: Ah, that makes sense. Like, an undead avenger-type thing. We tend to run into a lotta ghost ships—so I got some holy water here just for you, Stitches!
    <sfx> KEEYSH! WHUNK!
    Bandana: Ain’t undead.
    Haley: Judging by the smell, I think she’s some weird new kind of flesh golem.
    Haley: Ooof!
    Bandana: So someone turned one of your old foes into that dim-witted thing? That’s terrible!
    Haley: Looks like. Though to be fair, her wits seem to have taken a mostly lateral move.

    Spoiler: Strip 973
    Try, Try Again
    Bandana, Haley, Crystal

    Bandana: I’m barely scratchin’ her! Maybe if you flank we can get in a few Sneak Attacks?
    Haley: Doubt it. Her organs are about as functional as the home environment in which she was probably raised.
    Bandana: Nnnnh!!
    Crystal: YOU KILLED ME
    Haley: Yes, I know! I was there! Geez! You picked the wrong day to mess with me, Crystal. Eat magic!
    Crystal: NO
    Haley: Darn it! V was right, spell resistance is the worst!
    Bandana: Shoot, how the heck are we supposed to whup her ass now?
    Haley: I’ve got one more trick I can try. Three adamantine arrows. I’ve been saving them for this demon I know, but they should pierce a golem’s skin no matter how thick it is.
    Crystal: COME BACK AND DIE
    Bandana: Is there a second part to this plan?
    Haley: Yes.
    Bandana: Is it the same thing, only faster?
    Haley: Have you been reading our back catalog?

    Spoiler: Strip 974
    Except, You Know, That
    Bozzok, Grubwiggler, Crystal

    Bozzok: Run away all you like, Starshine. My Crystal Golem will chase you forever. She’ll never get tired or hungry. Or forget what she’s supposed to be doing. Or get bored with what she’s doing and decide to go get high instead. Really, it’s an improvement all around.
    Grubwiggler: I’m glad you approve of my handiwork, Bozzok. She may be my finest creation yet.
    Bozzok: Oh, indeed, Grubwiggler. Raising you from the dead to build me the perfect killer was one of my better decisions.
    Bozzok: <voiceover> Your death during the retrieval of Starshine’s ally’s corpse was yet another of Crystal’s sloppy mistakes, not to mention a waste of talent.
    Crystal: DEATH ATTACK!
    <end flashback>
    Grubwiggler: Is that why you requested that I retain her self-awareness? To conserve her expertise?
    Bozzok: No reason to wash all those murder skills down the drain, I say. Sure, it cost five times as much as a flesh golem normally would—but it’s a better use for Haley’s money than resurrecting all the guild peons she killed. I can always recruit more low-level thieves.
    Bozzok: <voiceover> Plus, the fact that she remembers Starshine killing her only makes her stronger with rage.
    Bozzok: No one humiliates me in front of my guild, Starshine. I’m going to mount your head on my wall, right above my desk. I’m thinking a tasteful oak plaque, with maybe a brass nameplate. There’s not a single thing you can do to stop me from watching Crystal run you down and punch you to—They went around a corner.

    Spoiler: Strip 975
    Up in the Air
    Bandana, Haley, Crystal, Adventurer, Sir Francois

    Bandana: We can’t keep running away forever, Haley!
    Haley: Not a problem, I just needed to gain some distance first. Not all of my new wands are for zapping other people. Up, up, and away!
    Crystal: NO NO NO
    Bandana: Hell yeah!
    Haley: Now we can circle back to the airship and maybe find a way to-
    Crystal: COME BACK
    <sfx> CRACK!
    Bandana & Haley: AAAHHH!
    Crystal: COME BACK
    Bandana: This is much worse!!
    Haley: I’m taking us down.
    Bandana: Hey, ugly! We’re over here!
    Haley: Come catch me if you can, Crystal!
    Bandana: I can’t believe a golem outsmarted us into coming back down to earth.
    Haley: No, see, we tricked her into suspending her gnome murder rampage. It’s an old dungeoneering trick called “reframing the narrative.”
    Adventurer: Hey, they attacked us first!
    Sir Francois: Because you were committing a home invasion.
    Adventurer: Which would never have happened if they hadn’t chosen to live in such an obviously cool adventure location.

    Spoiler: Strip 976
    Hard Sell
    Ferdinand, Eartha, Bandana, Haley, Crystal

    Ferdinand: There’s just no way around it, Eartha. It’s almost the end of the year, and we’re still deep in debt.
    Eartha: Oh, Ferdinand, how could this happen?
    Ferdinand: Gnomes these days just don’t appreciate good old-fashioned masterwork weapons. Either they use magic, or some new-fangled gizmo to do their fighting for them. We’ll have to close the shop at the end of the month and sell off the rest of the inventory at a loss.
    Eartha: But your great-grandfather founded this shop!
    Ferdinand: I know, dear, but what else can we—
    Ferdinand: Uh, yes, I think I have some old ones in the back that my father forged when—
    Bandana: Gimme! Now!
    Ferdinand: Alright, let me see what I have...
    Haley: Hurry hurry hurry hurry hurry hurry HURRY!
    Ferdinand: Looks like I have a handaxe, a short sword, a dagger, and-
    <sfx> YOINK! YOINK!
    Bandana: Short sword!
    Haley: Dagger!
    Ferdinand: Very good, that will be—
    Haley: Money!
    <sfx> CRASH!
    Eartha: We can afford to get the wall fixed.
    Ferdinand: We can afford to retire to the tropics.
    Eartha: Let’s do that one.

    Spoiler: Strip 977
    Bandana, Haley, DGS Commander, DGS Aide-de-camp

    Bandana: This Hit ‘n’ Run stuff is a leg up on the old Run ‘n’ Run we were doing, but I think she’s still giving better than she’s getting.
    Haley: OK, new plan. She’s just after me, right? I keep her busy, you go get help.
    Bandana: Heck no, I ain’t leaving you alone! Besides, it seems like help went and got itself. Look!
    DGS Commander: This is the Department of Gnomeland Security! Drop your weapons and put your hands behind your heads!
    Bandana: See? We got the cavalry right—HEY!!
    Crystal: GO AWAY
    <sfx> THUNK!
    DGS Commander: Right, then. Knock her hat off, squad!
    DGS Aide-de-camp: Sir, she does not appear to actually be wearing a—
    DGS Commander: Can we please just shoot her?
    DGS Aide-de-camp: No! Use the harpoons, not the lightning gun! You’re just going to charge her—up.

    Spoiler: Strip 978
    Rage Against the Lightning of the Dead
    Crystal, Bandana, Haley

    Crystal: GO AWAY
    Bandana: Get down!
    Crystal: I HATE YOU!
    Haley: Hang on! I’ve got you!
    Haley: Unnnh!
    Haley: What, from a few stabbings? I thought golems didn’t feel pain.

    Spoiler: Strip 979
    Fault Lines
    Crystal, Haley, DGS Aide-de-camp, Bandana

    Crystal: MY KNIFE
    <sfx> clank! clank!
    Haley: *gasp*
    DGS Aide-de-camp: Ma’am are you alright?
    Haley: Get your people out of here before she kills them all!
    DGS Aide-de-camp: But what about you?
    Haley: Just [/I][/B]go![/I][/B]
    <sfx> CLICK! CLICK!
    Haley: Hey, Crystal! Remember the time I soaked you with water balloons right before your big date? That wasn’t water.
    Bandana: Wait! I can’t keep up with you!
    Crystal: GOING TO KILL YOU
    Bandana: Dang.
    Crystal: CAN’T RUN FROM ME
    Haley: Not true! I’m running right now.
    Crystal: YOUR FAULT I HURT
    Haley: Also not true. I mean, heck—all I did was kill you! I straight up shot you, no frills. As fair and square as being a thief gets. The same as you tried to do to me a dozen times, but I tagged you first.
    Haley: Dead—and pain-free. I didn’t turn you into a crazy super-powered golem who hurts all the time. Someone else did that.
    Crystal: BOZZOK NEEDS ME
    Haley: Did he? Or did he just need a way to kill me?
    Crystal: YOU NEED KILLING!
    Haley: Yeah, probably, but still! When I left you, you didn’t even need a fancy Resurrection, just a plain old bog-standard Raise Dead spell. Seven grand, tops, even with the Church of Loki’s usual mark-up. How much did he spend turning you into this thing, you think? Ten times that? Twenty? If he cared about you at all, he could have raised you like normal and spent the rest of it on a bunch of magic items for you to come and kill me with. Instead, he made you the magic item. You’re just a tool to him. Always have been, frankly, but this is more literal than usual.
    Haley: You wanna hate me, Crystal, that’s fine. That’s fair. I hate you right back. But I’ve always been square with you, if only because I’ve never though you were important enough to lie to. I shot you in the face. Bozzok stabbed you in the back.
    <sfx> CRASH!
    Crystal: YOU DID THIS TO ME

    Spoiler: Strip 980
    Breaking Up
    Crystal, Bozzok, Grubwiggler, Haley, DGS Aide-de-camp

    Crystal: YOUR FAULT
    Bozzok: Did you kill Starshine already? And then forget how to use doors?
    Crystal: YOU DID THIS TO ME
    Bozzok: Ooof! What the hell! Crystal, stand down!
    Crystal: WHY
    Bozzok: That means, “Stop”, you idiot! Crystal, stop! Grubwiggler, something’s wrong! She’s not following orders!
    Grubwiggler: Yes, I see. I suppose that’s one of the dangers of making a golem self-aware.
    Crystal: WHY DID YOU DO THIS
    Bozzok: Don’t you have some sort of override or something?
    Grubwiggler: I would—if she were a standard-issue flesh golem. But you asked me to integrate her existing mind and personality, which complicates matters. Emotions are tricky. You can’t really sort out the ones you want from the ones you don’t. That’s why clients generally pay me a great deal of money to provide them with minions that don’t have any. If you were willing to pay me extra to craft a minion that gives up the main benefit of employing a golem, who was I to argue. Also, I was curious to see what would happen. Now, I know.
    Bozzok: Fine, I’ll just take care of—
    <sfx> CLANK! KRAKK!!
    Bozzok: Don’t just stand there croaking! Cast a spell or something!
    Grubwiggler: …No. No, I don’t think that’s in my best interest at this time. I’m sick of your guild’s petty intrigues interfering with my magical research. All I want is to be left alone, and I suspect your eventual successor will be more willing to accommodate that desire.
    Crystal: WHY DID YOU DO THIS
    Bozzok: I’ll pay you double! Triple!
    Grubwiggler: Farewell, Bozzok. You were never as clever as you thought you were.
    Crystal: LOOK AT ME
    Bozzok: Grubwiggler!
    Grubwiggler: Teleport.
    <sfx> POP!
    Bandana: There you are! Shoot, you run fast with them boots.
    DGS Aide-de-camp: Is the monster inside?
    Haley: Yeah. Along with her master, whom she’s in the process of turning against. Listen, how much trouble would you be in with your boss if you just stay out here and have a little chat instead of getting two involved?
    DGS Aide-de-camp: Less trouble than I would’ve before she stepped on his face.
    Crystal: GRRRRRRRR
    Bozzok: Crystal, come on, we’re pals, right? Remember all those good times we had together?
    Bozzok: Well someone has to! What, were you suddenly going to start thinking for yourself, you lazy little brat? Don’t make me laugh. You’ve never been anything but a rabid dog who needs someone to hold her leash. I don’t know what lies Starshine told you to get you all twisted around, but stop being such a gullible moron and get back out there and—
    Crystal: I HATE YOU
    <sfx> SPLRTCH!!
    Crystal: I HATE YOU
    <sfx> THUNK!
    Crystal: I HATE YOU HATE

    Spoiler: Strip 981
    Followers Follow
    Haley, Crystal, DGS Aide-de-camp, Bandana

    Haley: So…we gonna fight some more?
    Haley: You’ve been taking orders from Bozzok ever since we’ve been teenagers. Any thoughts on what you’ll do now?
    Haley: In Tinkertown? Do you think that’s a good idea? You just went all Frankenstein’s monster through their streets.
    Crystal: SO? THEY CAN’T STOP ME
    Haley: I was thinking maybe you could, you know, go on a quest. Far away from any towns. Try to find a solution for that constant pain you’ve got.
    Haley: Crystal…that’s…That’s not really a sustainable solution over the long term.
    Haley: Ah. It’s weird, Crystal, but I totally meant what I said before about being square with you. I look back at my life in the guild and I realize you were the only person I was ever honest with. I never needed to hide how much I hated you, or pretend we were friends. When no one else knew the real me, at least there was always one person who knew what a total bastard I could be sometimes. It’s messed up, but I kind of appreciate that about us. I’m going to miss it.
    Haley: Well, sure that. But I’ll miss it for two main reasons. First, I think I’ve moved past that while paranoid lie-to-everyone thing all together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great skill to have when you need it, but it’s exhausting to live that way. Even though the last year or two has been totally bonkers, the truth is that I don’t think I’ve ever actually been happier than I am right now. I have good friends I can trust, I’ve made peace with my dad, and I’m in love with this great guy I can share everything with. He’s the one you punched in the chin, by the way.
    Crystal: SEEMED NICE
    Haley: He is, yeah. Thanks. Anyway, I realize now that I was getting something out of our constant rivalry, but it’s a thing I just don’t need anymore. I’m in a really good place right now, assuming the world doesn’t get devoured next week.
    Crystal: OTHER REASON
    Haley: Oh, right! Sorry, I got distracted. The other reason is that I’m about to kill you again because you’re a sadistic unrepentant murderer who’s a danger to like, everyone.
    DGS Aide-de-camp: NOW!
    Crystal: STARRRSHINE!! HATE YOU so much hate
    <sign text> Brunch!
    Bandana: Mmmm! These waffles are incredible!
    Haley: Screw it, I’m having a second breakfast burrito.
    DGS Aide-de-camp: Can I get some more hash browns? Thanks.

    Spoiler: Strip 982
    Respirate in Peace
    Cleric of Hodor #1, Roy, Cleric of Hodor #2, Vampire Durkon, Durkon, Male Priest of Hoder

    Cleric of Hodor #1: Hello! Welcome to the Shrine of Hoder. How may we help you today?
    Roy: Hey. We need some healing.
    Cleric of Hodor #2: Of course, of course. What services do the two of you require.
    Roy: I need a Resurrection spell for…uh…a friend of mine who is dead.
    Cleric of Hodor #1: Oh my. I’m sorry for your loss. Did you bring any remains you were able to salvage with you?
    Roy: Oh yeah. One lifeless corpse, right here.
    <sfx> poke! poke!
    Cleric of Hodor #2: We will speak with out head cleric and let him know. Please wait here.
    Durkon: Now I know ye dinnae really wanna resurrect me—so why’re ye leading’ Roy ‘round ta all these temples?
    (D): Now I know you don’t really want to resurrect me—so why are you leading Roy around to all these temples.
    Vampire Durkon: A bit of improvisational theater on my part. It turns out the best way to get where my mistress needs me is for Roy to escort me there.
    Roy: Hey…what’s with the blindfolds anyway?
    Vampire Durkon: Hoder’s blind, so ‘is priests wear ‘em while on their duty.
    (VD): Hoder is blind, so his priests wear them while on their duty.
    Roy: I would say that’s lucky for us, then—but they probably have super-sensitive gnome hearing. They noticed two sets of footsteps, eventually they’ll notice only one person breathing. Wait—your voice might be supernatural now, but you still have lungs and a diaphragm and everything. Try faking breathing noises.
    Vampire Durkon: Hmmmm. He is clever. Such a ruse would increase the chances of my own goals succeeding as well. Very well. You shall breathe once more, Durkon!
    Cleric of Hodor #3: Ah, a soulful bagpipe dirge for his departed friend.
    Cleric of Hodor #1: My feels have been hit for maximum damage!

    Spoiler: Strip 983
    A Healer’s Reason
    Roy, Vampire Durkon, Sigdi, Young Durkon, Durkon

    Roy: That clockwork leg on the once priest is not a good sign, unfortunately. If they had the clerical oomph to restore you, they’d also be able to regenerate limbs-and I can’t think of a reason they wouldn’t do so.
    Vampire Durkon: gwoooo
    Sigdi: We’ve been o’er this b’fore, Durkon. I’ll na tell ye tha story aboot me arm ‘til yer older. It’s na fer kids.
    (S): We’ve been over this before, Durkon. I’ll not tell you the story about my arm until you’re older. It’s not for kids.
    Young Durkon: Aye, Mama, I know. I’m nae askin’ aboot tha right now. But t’day in Thursday School, Father Braveaxe said tha power o’ the gods can heal any injury! We could ask tha clerics o’ Thor ta bring back yer other hand!
    (YD): Aye, Mama, I know. I’m not asking about that right now. But today in Thursday School, Father Braveaxe said the power of the gods can heal any injury! We could ask the clerics of Thor to bring back your other hand!
    Sigdi: Och, lad, it’s na tha easy. Among us dwarves, only tha high priest o’ Odin’s skilled enuff ta muster tha sort o’ magic. At least these days. An’ we dinnae haf tha kinda money ta pay tha donation he’d require. We dinnae haf enuff ta make the trip ta tha capital, e’en!
    (S): Oh, Durkon, it’s not that easy. Among us dwarves, only the high priest of Odin is skilled enough to muster that sort of magic. At least these days. And we do not have the kind of money to pay the donation he’d require. We do not have enough to make the trip to the capital, even!
    Young Durkon: But tha’s na fair! How c’n Odin’s priests ask fer money from a follower o’ thar god’s own son?
    (YD): But that’s not fair! How can Odin’s priests ask for money from a follower of their god’s own son?
    Sigdi: Och, tha clerics need ta pay fer stuff, too, lad! It’s na diff’rent than gettin’ paid ta bring tha rain