Spoiler: Strip 1143Lines of Communication
Durkon, Skadi, Sunna, Thor, Tyr
Thor: When the Dark One first ascended, he was still weak. All I saw was another evil god - one who had, as a mortal, killed many of my followers. I thought if I attacked him before he could gather strength, I could defeat a force for evil safely.
Thor: <voiceover> Loki stopped me. In fact, it was Loki who first realized what the existence of a purple god could mean. He did his best to keep up a good relationship with the Dark One, with the intent of someday letting him in on the secret of the Snarl.
Thor: Unfortunately, the Dark One learned about it on his own, and cut off all ties with my brother. Loki tried to re-establish communications, but the Dark One just melted Loki's emissaries and anointed his planar legions with their liquified remains. And then he dropped out of their private chat group! None of the other gods have successfully contacted him since then. Not that we could agree on what to do if we could.
Sunna: Now that we know violet quiddity is possible, we should wait for a god that is more reasonable.
Tyr: I'd rather continue this cycle for all of eternity than give one damn inch to that goblin.
Skadi: I was on board untl this stuff with the Gates came up. It's not worth the risk to our home planes.
Thor: The Twelve Gods are similarly split. Some don't want to negotiate with the god responsible for what happened to Azure City. Rat is apparently furious. And I hear that most of the Western Gods don't even believe the Dark One really is a new color. Tiamat is the only one who's ever met him in person, and they think she's lying to further some scheme. That's why I need you, Durkon.
Durkon: M-me?? I'm suppos'd ta convince a god??
(D): M-me?? I'm supposed to convince a god??
Thor: No, no, no. You need to convince the Dark One's high priest - you know him as Redcloak - to help us. We need him to channel his god's purple quiddity into the process of closing the rifts. We only need a drop or so - one 9th-level spell slot should do it. We can handle the rest.
Durkon: Lord Thor, I...I ain't exactly a diplomat. Mebbe thar's another cleric better suited...
(D): Lord Thor, I...I am not exactly a diplomat. Maybe there is another cleric better suited to...
Thor: Oh? The guy who just talked a vampire into nonexistence thinks he's bad at persuasion?
Durkon: Och, tha were a special circumstance.
(D): Oh, that was a special circumstance.
Thor: Good news! This is literally the single most special circumstance ever. You'll do fine.
Spoiler: Strip 1144That's Jack's Fault
Durkon, Daughter, Minrah, Mother, Priestess Rubyrock, Thor
Minrah: This ride was more fun before.
Durkon: Och, I cannae ev'n tell if'n me stomach's mad aboot tha trip, or aboot havin' tha fate o' all possible worlds on me shoulders.
(D): Oh, I can not even tell if my stomach is mad about the trip, or about having the fate of all possible worlds on my shoulders.
Minrah: Actually, if there's one bright side, I don't think this is all on you, Durkon. If you screw up and the gods need to blow up the world, then the Dark One can still help make the next one, right? It'll suck that it's that world and not ours, but still - cycle is broken!
Durkon: Aye, tha's a good point, lass. Mebbe na ideal but at least-
(D): Yes, that's a good point, girl. Maybe not ideal but at least-
Thor: Uh, well, in theory, but...he might not survive the process.
Durkon: Och, knew it'd be too good ta be true.
(D): Oh, I knew it would be too good to be true.
Thor: Like I said earlier, we gods need certain things from mortals. Four things, to be exact: Belief, Worship, Dedication, and Souls.
Thor: <voiceover> Belief is when mortals know that we exist, in these specific identities.
Mother: Thor, the Northern god of Thunder.
Thor: <voiceover> Worship is active praise and supplication and all that good stuff.
Priestess Rubyrock: Thor, our lord and defender!
Thor: <voiceover> Dedication is a big burst that's released when a mortal dies and they're sent off to their god.
Daughter: Thor, I'm on my way!
Thor: <voiceover> And Souls just sort of slowly power the Outer Planes and the Afterlives over time.
Daughter: Thor, pass the chips, please.
Thor: In order to keep healthy, we need a specific balance of all four. That's why Hel is so much more messed up this time around-She's been filling up on empty Dedications without any fresh Worship. We used to have a pyramid diagram that explained this better, but I don't think we use that anymore. The thing is, there's always an interim period after each world's destruction where we have to wait while the Snarl calms down before we can trap it again. The Dark One won't have the stores of energy necessary to persist through that gap. He hasn't been around long enough, and hasn't had the followers of a whole pantheon believing in him. I've seen new gods with more worshippers than he has fail to make it.
Durkon: So we must enlist 'is 'elp now, to save this world, while he's still got believers.
(D): So we must enlist his help now, to save this world, while he's still got believers.
Thor: Otherwise, the purple quiddity may be lost forever and the cycle will never end.
Minrah: Wow. I didn't realize the gods were so dependent on the beliefs of everyday mortals like us.
Thor: Oh, you have no idea. I used to be a ginger until that damn superhero comic book came out.
Spoiler: Strip 1145The Highfather
Durkon, Minrah, Odin, Thor
Thor: Oh, hey, my dad's here.
Durkon: Lord Odin?!?
Thor: Yeah. Don't worry, he's fine. I'll introduce you. Hi, Dad.
Odin: Oh! Hello, Thor! I was just trying to remember why I was here.
Thor: Well, if I had to guess, I'd say you wanted to come check in on how your dwarf prophecy was going.
Odin: My what, now?
Thor: Dad, this is Durkon Thundershield. He's the cleric of mine that you got exiled from his homeland like 20 years ago.
Durkon: Huh? "Got exiled"?
Minrah: Oh! Oh! I actually know about this! Your friends were talking about it with Brewmaster Firuk!
Durkon: Talkin' aboot wha?
(D): Talking about what?
Minrah: Odin's priest came to old High Priest Hurak with a prophecy. He said that when you returned home, you'd bring death and destruction. So Hurak threw you out and told you to never come back.
Durkon: So...tha's tha reason why I was exiled?
(D): So...that's the reason why I was exiled?
Minrah: Turns out.
Durkon: All b'cause o' some prophecy tha Hurak dinnae ev'n tell me aboot? Thar was......a reason. Thar was a reason!! Ha ha! It weren't just some random act o' cruelty! 'E 'ad a reason, an' na ev'n tha bad o' one!
(D): All because of some prophecy that Hurak didn't even tell me about? There was......a reason. There was a reason!! Ha ha! It wasn't just some random act of cruelty! He had a reason, and not even that bad of one!
Minrah: But...it didn't work. It seems like it might've kinda actually caused the thing he was trying to prevent.
Durkon: Aye! It was a total disaster! But na a random disaster! Fer twenty years, I been worried Hurak had picked me by chance--an' now at least I know thar were some logic ta 'is callous incompetence! Ha ha ha! Woooo! Ha ha!
(D): Yes! It was a total disaster! But not a random disaster! For twenty years, I've been worried that Hurak had picked me by chance--and now at least I know that there was some logic to his callous incompetence! Ha ha ha! Woooo! Ha ha!
Thor: Wait, Dad, isn't that why you did the prophecy? By getting him exiled, you guaranteed he would arrive here knowing what we needed him to know.
Odin: Did I? That doesn't sound like something I'd do. Sounds kinda mean, honestly.
Thor: Yeah, but...it was something you did.
Odin: Oh. If you say so, Son. I trust you. Spindles wind the string forward, but not back.
Thor: So wait...was that a thing you really foresaw, or not?
Odin: Who's to say? Loops and twirls. It seems to have all worked out. It's a mango.
Minrah: Uh, Lord Thor, is he...OK?
Thor: Sort of. Dad's had a rough time of it lately.
Odin: You know, hoops have no end, until suddenly they do.
Thor: The last world we did, the Northerners ended up as barbarians who decided magic was dumb nonsense for fools and simpletons. It kind of did a number on his head, since he's the god of magic and all.
Minrah: Oh, that sounds awful!
Thor: He's getting better as he absorbs more Belief from your world. He'll be fine in a few more centuries. Until then, he has good days and bad days.
Odin: Sure, you can boot off a floppy, but don't pull it out in the middle!
Durkon: Fer tha first time in me life, ev'rythin' makes sense!
(D): For the first time in my life, everything makes sense!
Thor: We, uh, probably shouldn't mention this to Durkon. I need his spirit uncrushed.
Odin: Mortal height is fun. My hands are hand-sized!
Spoiler: Strip 1146Assistance Needed
Durkon, Minrah, Odin, Thor
Durkon: An' yer sure tha me exile's officially revoked?
(D): And you're sure that my exile is officially revoked?
Minrah: I mean, that's what your friends said. They met Rubyrock at the Godsmoot and she cleared it.
Durkon: Then I get ta go home. After all this be done, at least.
(D): Then I get to go home. After all this be done, at least.
Minrah: Yeah. And assuming you defeat the other vampires and the world doesn't go kablooey.
Durkon: Och, aye. Thar's tha. Lord Thor, I dinnae suppose ye could just pop down thar an' smash 'em wit yer holy hammer?
(D): Oh, yes. There is that. Lord Thor, I don't suppose you could just pop down there and smash them with your holy hammer?
Thor: No, sorry.
Durkon: What aboot zappin' 'em wit divine thunder?
(D): What about zapping them with divine thunder?
Durkon: OK, but wha if'n--
(D): OK, but what if--
Durkon: Even if--?
Thor: Nuh uh.
Durkon: Wha if'n ye--
(D): What if you--
Thor: Look, whatever solution you think up that involves me fixing it for you--I guarantee you there's a bunch of dumb god laws tying my hands, OK?
Odin: We wrote them that way on purpose! There are fewer Good gods than Not-Good gods, you know. If everyone could play in the sandbox all the time, there wouldn't be a lot of castles left unkicked!
Durkon: Is thar na anythin' ye can do ta help us?
(D): Is there nothing you can do to help us?
Thor: Gosh, I could give you amazing magical spells on demand every single morning. Do you think that might help?
Durkon: Och, I'm sorry, me lord. Yer right. I just worry tha I willnae ev'n get tha chance ta talk ta Redcloak if'n we cannae defeat Hel's minions.
(D): Oh, I'm sorry, my lord. You're right. I just worry that I won't even get the chance to talk to Redcloak if we can't defeat Hel's minions.
Thor: Look, Durkon, I'll... I'll see what I can do. But ultimately, once you're back down there, it's going to be your fight, not mine. And you'll do great. As far as concrete physical aid...well, there is one thing, now that I think of it. A little secret your people forgot a few generations back...
Minrah: Ummm...why are you whispering? There's no one here to overhear you.
Thor: So it'll be dramatic later, duh. Didn't get to spent much time with the kid with the puppet, did you?
Durkon: Right?? Tha's wha I said!
(D): Right?? That's what I said!
Spoiler: Strip 1147Headed Back
Deva, Durkon, Minrah, Odin, Slaad, Thor
Deva: Durkon Thundershield? I have an incoming resurrection for Durkon Thundershield here?
Thor: Ah, perfect timing!
Odin: Time to go put your meat suit back on!
Durkon: Lord Thor, I dinnae know wha ta say. I haf so many more things I wanna ask ye...
(D): Lord Thor, I don't know what to say. I have so many more things I want to ask you...
Thor: Yeah, I get that. But you know what you need to know, and that'll be enough. None of this works if you miss your ticket out of here.
Thor: <whispering> Oh, and, uh, Durkon? One thing: Don't mention the stuff you learned to the deva. We have to wipe all the outsiders' memories every time we remake the world because they go a bit nuts if we don't.
Minrah: OK, so, I guess I'm heading down to Valhalla.
Durkon: Aye, guess so.
(D): Right, I guess so.
Minrah: I thought there'd be more time before...well.
Durkon: Well, take care o' yerself in paradise, Minrah Shaleshoe. Thanks agin fer helpin' me friends. If'n ye ev'r find yerself drinkin' wit a dwarf named Tenrin, tell 'im 'is wife an' kid love 'im.
(D): Well, take care of yourself in paradise, Minrah Shaleshoe. Thanks again for helping my friends. If you ever found yourself drinking with a dwarf named Tenrin, tell him that his wife and kid loves him.
Minrah: Will do. When you get back to the temple, tell Tinna that my cousin has been in love with her for, like, three years. I promised I'd take that to my grave, which I guess I did. Life's too short, though. They should just hook up or not already.
Deva: Ah, Mr. Thundershield?
Durkon: Aye, tha's me.
(D): Right, that's me.
Deva: Excellent. Before we go, though, I would be remiss if I didn't voice my concerns over the religious affiliation of the cleric casting the spell.
Durkon: Och, lemme guess: A priestess of Loki, aye?
(D): Oh, let me guess: A priestess of Loki, right?
Deva: Yes! We're worried she may have some nefarious intentions for you.
Durkon: Aye, almost certainly, but I'm pretty sure tha's tha mother o' me child, so...I still gotta go.
(D): Right, almost certainly, but I'm pretty sure that's the mother of my child, so...I still gotta go.
Deva: Oh! I totally understand. I had a similar situation once after spending a drunk weekend down in Limbo.
Deva: Do I...push?
Slaad: No, the tadpole must learn to chew its own way out.
Deva: Of course, now that little tadpole has spawn of his own.
Durkon: Och, they grow up so fast.
(D): Oh, they grow up so fast.
Deva: No kidding. He implanted the nurse fourteen minutes after he was born.
Spoiler: Strip 1148The Rainbow Rejection
Deva, Durkon, Minrah, Thor
Deva: Does it call or write? I had to get my torso regenerated for it!
Durkon: Did it ferget yer birthday, too?
(D): Did it forget your birthday, too?
Deva: Technically, I don't have a birthday, but this only happened three months ago. Anyway, sorry there's no limo. Budget cuts. We'll go down the old-fashioned way.
Durkon: Fine by me.
Thor: When you get the Dark One's cleric to agree, just cast Commune and I'll tell you what to do.
Durkon: Och, ye nev'r answer those!
(D): Oh, you never answer those!
Thor: Yeah, but I'll set a special ring tone for this.
Minrah: No. I'm not done yet. I refuse to be done yet! Durkon, wait!
Minrah: Wait, I want to go back!
Minrah: When you get back down there, raise me from the dead. Bring me back!
Durkon: I thought ye wanted ta go inta Valhalla. When we got 'ere, ye thought I was nuts fer wantin' ta go back.
(D): I thought you wanted to go into Valhalla. When we got here, you thought I was nuts for wanting to go back.
Minrah: That was before all the cosmic stuff! What is even the point of being a cleric if divine revelations can't change your mind?? Look, if that goblin you need to convince is really threatening not just our world but the Outer Planes, too--then Valhalla itself is in danger! I can't sit around getting drunk, I need to help! But it's more than that. I'm not done being alive. I still have stuff I wanted to do. I didn't get to have kids. Or adopt kids. Or decide if I even want kids. I left a lot of kid-based options on the table! I know that if I go back, I risk getting tortured in Hel forever next time I die...but maybe it's worth it. Maybe wondering what could've been would be it's own form of torture. Whatever, I don't need to explain. Just do it! You owe me that much!
Durkon: Aye, OK! OK! I just wanted ta make sure ye were sure.
(D): Right, OK! OK! I just wanted to make sure that you're sure about it.
Deva: If we're all done here, we do need to get moving before the spell is completed.
Minrah: Yeah, go ahead, I'm done. I mean, with the conversation.
Durkon: It might take a bit. I dinnae know wha tha diamond supply situation'll be like after they bring me back.
(D): It might take a bit. I don't know what the diamond supply situation will be like after they bring me back.
Minrah: That's OK. Just don't forget, or I'll haunt you.
Durkon: Aye. I'll do me best, Lord Thor. Ev'ry day until I see ye again.
(D): Right. I'll do my best, Lord Thor. Every day until I see you again.
Minrah: So, um...
Thor: Yes, we can grab a pint inside while you wait.
Minrah: You're the best god.
Spoiler: Strip 1149Enough Diamonds Already
Durkon: Wait! B'fore ye say anythin'! I know I mistreat'd ye, Hilgya. I sent ye away after ye'd open'd up ta me, an' I know how much tha must've hurt. I got na excuses. I was wrong. Ye were alone an' in pain, an' lookin' fer a connection, an' instead o' tha, I judged ye. I do tha a lot. I had an opportunity ta reach out an' help ye outta tha darkness, an' I failed ta see it. I wish I could say tha I'd had some specific change o' heart aboot it--some dramatic event tha showed me it was wrong. But tha truth is, all I needed was ta watch it again, witout bein' in tha moment. I shoulda found a way ta help, an' I dinnae. My Ma taught me better'n tha. An' then, at me lowest point, thar ye were. Ye, an' tha beautiful li'l boy. An' I knew ev'rythin' was gonna be OK. B'cause tha's me son, aye? Tell me e' ain't. Me boy. A perfect li'l angel. Och, better, ev'n. Turns out some angels're a bit off. I dinnae know wha's goin' on wit yer husband. I know thar're prob'bly legal things tha need ta be worked out. But I unnerstand yer na happy wit 'im, an' I were wrong ta na respect yer desire ta leave. 'specially considerin' tha alternatives ye were tryin'. Most o' all, I know tha I need ta be thar fer me boy. Na ev'ryone gets more'n one parent. Na ev'ryone ev'n gets one! If'n I can make it so 'e's one of those tha does, I need ta try. An' I can be thar fer ye, too, Hilgya. I can help ye work thru yer demons, wha'ev'r they be. I know yer a good person an' ye can be happy. So I wanna ask ye, if'n we can get tha details sorted--fer tha sake o' our son--Hilgya Firehelm--will ye marry me?
(D): Wait! Before you say anything! I know I mistreated you, Hilgya. I sent you away after you open up to me, and I know how much that must have hurt you. I've got no excuses. I was wrong. You were alone and in pain, and looking for a connection, and instead of that, I judged you. I do that a lot. I had an opportunity to reach out and help you out of that darkness, and I failed to see it. I wish I could say that I had some specific change of heart about it--some dramatic event that showed me it was wrong. But the truth is, all I needed was to watch it again, without being in the moment. I should have found a way to help, and I didn't. My Mother taught me better than that. And then, at my lowest point, there you were. You, and that beautiful little boy. And I knew everything was gonna be OK. Because that's my son, right? Tell me he is't my son. My boy. A perfect little angel. Oh, better, even. Turns out some angels are a bit off. I don't know what's going on with your husband. I know there is probably legal things that need to be worked out. But I understand that you're not happy with him, and I was wrong to not respect your desire to leave. Especially considering the alternatives you were trying. Most of all, I know that I need to be there for my boy. Not everyone gets more than one parent. Not everyone even gets one! If I can make it so he's one of those that does, I need to try. And I can be there for you, too, Hilgya. I can help you work through your demons, whatever they be. I know that you're a good person and you can be happy. So I want to ask you, if we can get the details sorted--for the sake of our son--Hilgya Firehelm--will you marry me?
Hilgya: Flame Strike. Oh, calm down. I'm rich now, I can just raise him again.
Spoiler: Strip 1150Do-Over
Belkar, Deva, Durkon, Elan, Haley, Hilgya, Minrah, Odin, Roy, Thor
Durkon: Och, come on!
(D): Oh, come on!
Deva: Uh, was there some sort of issue with the spell?
Durkon: It's fine. It's all fine. Just a li'l miscommunication b'tween me an' Hilgya.
(D): It's fine. It's all fine. Just a little miscommunication between me and Hilgya.
Minrah: Oooo, problems with the baby mama? She did seem a bit...tightly wound.
Thor: This might be all my fault, really. When I decreed that you should "totally smash" the followers of Loki, that wasn't what I meant.
Deva: Wait--we're actually getting a Raise Dead request from the same spellcaster. I assume you want me to deny it?
Durkon: Na! Na, I'll take it. I'll take tha chance.
(D): No! No, I'll take it. I'll take the chance.
Deva: OK, they're your funerals.
Durkon: We'll just work it out, an' we can all get on wit tha bus'ness aboot tha Snarl an' tha rifts an' tha planet inside tha rifts an' wha'ev'r else.
(D): We'll just work it out, and we can all get on with the business about the Snarl, and the rifts, and the planet inside the rifts, and whatever else.
<sfx> SPLONF! (AGAIN!)
Thor: Wait, what did he mean about a planet inside the rifts?
Hilgya: Raise Dead!
Durkon: *gasp!* Protection from Fire! Stay back! ...Are ye gonna Flame Strike me again?
(D): *gasp!* Protection from Fire! Stay back! ...Are you gonna Flame Strike me again?
Hilgya: I don't know, are you going to say something that dumb again? 'Cause I'm not planning on it, but I reserve my right to respond to idiocy with cleansing divine fire.
Durkon: Ye dinnae haf tha "right" ta kill me fer tryin' ta work things out b'tween us, Hilgya!
(D): You don't have the "right" to kill me for trying to work things out between us, Hilgya!
Hilgya: Good news, then. There's nothing left to work out. I got what I needed out of this. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I caught up to you--but your shallow thoughtless proposal really clarified things for me. It's so simple: You burned me, so I burned you. Now we're done and I feel a lot better.
Durkon: Ye cannae possibly think me rejectin' ye an' ye literally murderin' me are equal?
(D): You can't possibly think that my rejecting you and your literally murdering me are equal?
Hilgya: Of course not. You can't fix rejection with a ten-minute cleric spell. But who cares about equal, anyway. If I hurt you worse than you hurt me, good. That means I win.
Durkon: "Win"? This ain't some kinda competition!
(D): "Win"? This isn't some kind of competition!
Hilgya: Everything is a competition, and the only people who think otherwise are losers who lose.
Roy: OK, enough. This is fascinating and/or disturbing but my arms are falling asleep. Does this conversation end with us rolling initiative or not?
Durkon: Dunno. Ask her.
(D): I don't know. Ask her.
Hilgya: No. I'm fine.
Roy: Then how about we table it for now. Unless I'm mistaken, Durkon some of the vampire's little minions were missing from the fight scene, so we're not out of the woods just yet.
Durkon: Aye. The Exarch an' a few others'll still try ta sway tha council vote.
(D): That's right. The Exarch and a few others will still try to sway the council's vote.
Roy: Let's head back to the temple of Thor and plan our next move. Also it's good to have you back. You have no idea how much we needed you.
Durkon: Thanks, lad. It's good ta be back.
(D): Thanks, boy. It's good to be back.
Elan: Hooray! Durkon's back!
Haley: We missed you, big guy.
Durkon: I missed all o' ye, too. Tha hardest part o' bein' trapped right thar, inside me own 'ead, was na bein' able ta reach out an' tell all o' ye that it'd be OK. Tha second hardest part was knowin' only Belkar could tell tha diff'rence b'tween me an' an evil spirit! I mean, Belkar? Seriously??
(D): I missed all of you, too. The hardest part of being trapped right there, inside my own head, was not being able to reach out and tell all of you that it will be OK. The second hardest part was knowing that only Belkar could tell the difference between me and an evil spirit! I mean, Belkar? Seriously??
Belkar: I know, right.
Roy: I got there! Eventually!
Elan: In my defense, I am not very smart.
Haley: I already got fooled by Nale! What were the chances of two imposter storylines?!
Spoiler: Strip 1151
Halfling Baby Steps Are Very Small
Durkon, Belkar, Roy, Haley, Elan, Vaarsuvius, Mr. Scruffy, Kudzu,
Haley: <whispering> So she's just following us now?
Roy: <whispering> I guess. If she starts some, she'll get some. Otherwise, it's Durkon's call, since that's his kid strapped to her.
Durkon: Belkar, b'fore we get thar, I wanted ta talk ta ye aboot sumthin'.
(D): Belkar, before we get there, I wanted to talk to you about something.
Belkar: Sorry, I'm a hard pass on marriage, too.
Durkon: Dinnae flatter yerself, yer like me fourth choice just in tha party.
(D): Do not flatter yourself, you're like my fourth choice just in the party.
Durkon: I need ta thank ye fer helpin' me break free o' tha vampire.
(D): I need to thank you for helping me break free of the vampire.
Belkar: Oh, don't get mushy, I stabbed a boss monster, it happens.
Durkon: Tha's not wha I meant.
(D): That's not what I meant.
Durkon: <narrating> Back on tha ship, ye told me— ye told the vampire tha people dinnae change overnight. Tha it's gradual an' hard to spot, until one day, ye tip o'er tha edge an' now yer different.
(D): Back on tha ship, you told me— you told the vampire that people do not change overnight. That it's gradual and hard to spot, until one day, you tip over the edge and now you're different.
Durkon: Wha I realized was, aye, tha's how normal people work, who live thar whole lives in order. But tha vampire were just skimmin' scenes from me life willy-nilly an' na seein' all the connections. B'cause I already knew whar tha tippin' moments in me life were, I could feed 'im a series o' memories to get ta tha tip-oe'r witout time fer gradual adjustment.
(D): What I realized was, yes, that's how normal people work, who live their whole lives in order. But the vampire was just skimming scenes from my life willy-nilly and not seeing all the connections. Because I already knew where the tipping moments in my life were, I could feed him a series of memories to get to the tip-over without time for gradual adjustment.
Belkar: I absolutely did not understand any of what you said, and I'm not sure if it's just because I'm out of practice with the accent.
Durkon: I gotta remember ta thank Elan, too. Us clerics normally only get taught to recite myths, na craft narratives. Anyway, tha point is tha it worked. It made tha vampire feel wha I needed 'im ta feel. Ev'ryone always talks aboot tha seductive power o' Evil, but I think Good's just as slippery a slope. Doin' good—sometimes even just seein' other people do good—feels good. Tha feelin' gets ta ye ev'ntually. Sometimes I think the reason more evil folks dinnae succumb ta it is tha it feels bad ta realize how bad ye've been! Most'd rather pretend ta nev'r feel nuthin' than experience tha pain.
(D): I gotta remember to thank Elan, too. Us clerics normally only get taught to recite myths, not craft narratives. Anyway, the point is that it worked. It made the vampire feel what I needed him to feel. Everyone always talks about the seductive power of Evil, but I think Good's just as slippery a slope. Doing good—sometimes even just seeing other people do good—feels good. That feeling gets to you eventually. Sometimes I think the reason more evil folks do not succumb to it is that it feels bad to realize how bad you've been! Most'd rather pretend to never feel anything than experience the pain.
Belkar: So...those people are cowards, then. Right?
Belkar: Those weak powers can't handle intense hardcore introspection.
Durkon: Och! Aye, aye, they dinnae haf tha guts ta face tha mirror!
(D): Oh! Yes, yes, they do not have the guts to face the mirror!
Belkar: Sorry I hit you in the face with a palm tree that one time.
Durkon: Ultimate extreme apology accept'd.
(D): Ultimate extreme apology accepted.
Spoiler: Strip 1152
Durkon, Belkar, Roy, Haley, Elan, Sigdi, Firuk
Durkon: Tha remainin' vampires will nae move on tha chamber until most o' tha elders're inside. Which's just as well since I'm tapped out, spell-wise.
(D): The remaining vampires will not move on the chamber until most of the elders are inside. Which's just as well since I'm tapped out, spell-wise.
Roy: OK, then. The vote's scheduled for midmorning, so we can wait until dawn and refresh your spells.
Durkon: Aye, sounds good, but we'll need more'n tha fer a plan. See, tha council chamber's made up o' three rings, each wit its own set o—
(D): Aye, sounds good, but we will need more than that for a plan. See, the council chamber's made up of three rings, each with its own set of—
Durkon: Ma?!? What're ye doin—?
(D): Mother?!? What are you doing—?
Sigdi: Firuk came an' got me after yer friends left.
(S): Firuk came and got me after your friends left.
Firuk: I'm sorry. I thought she needed ta know.
(F): I'm sorry. I thought she needed to know.
Durkon: Och, Ma! Yer na just an old memory, yer really 'ere!
(D): Oh, Mother! You're not just an old memory, you're really here!
Sigdi: Ha ha! Thar's my boy, safe an' sound! I missed layin' eyes on ye. Look at ye, yer all skin an' bones. What're these humans feedin' ye? Are ye getting enuff beer?
(S): Ha ha! There's my boy, safe and sound! I missed laying eyes on you. Look at you, you're all skin and bones. What are these humans feeding you? Are you getting enough beer?
Durkon: Na fer twenty years. I could absolutely murder a decent pint. Or a quart. Or five.
(D): Not for twenty years. I could absolutely murder a decent pint. Or a quart. Or five.
Firuk: Lemme take care o' tha fer ye, lad. Glad yer back alive.
(F): Let me take care of that for you Durkon. Glad you're back alive.
Elan: Aww, look at that. Critical hit in the heart!
Haley: Yeah, imagine not knowing for all those years if your son is alive or dead.
Sigdi: What're ye talkin' aboot? I talked ta Durkon last week.
(S): What are you talking about? I talked to Durkon last week.
Roy: You... did?
Durkon: Aye, wit tha Sending spell. Wha's the point o' havin' long-range commun'cation magic if'n ye cannae use it ta tell yer loved ones yer safe?
(D): Aye, with the Sending spell. What's the point of having long-range communication magic if you can not use it to tell your loved ones you're safe?
Sigdi: 'E's such a good boy, callin' ev'ry week since 'e learned tha spell.
(S): He's such a good boy, calling every week since he learned the spell.
Durkon: Dinnae ye ev'r wonder why I happen'd ta haf four Sendings prepared back when ye were captured by Tarquin?
(D): Didn't you ever wonder why I happened to have four Sendings prepared back when you were captured by Tarquin?
Roy: Uh, no. I mean, I guess I didn't think it mattered that much. Look, If I worried about all the things I don't worry about, I'd never stop worrying!
Sigdi: Oh, so ye must be Elan!
(S): Oh, so you must be Elan!
Belkar: Ha ha, unintentional mom burn!
Spoiler: Strip 1153
Durkon, Roy, Haley, Sigdi, Hilgya
Durkon: Na, Ma, this's Roy. Elan's back thar, wit Haley, an' tha elf's—
(D): No, Mother, this is Roy. Elan is back there, with Haley, and the elf's—
Sigdi: —Vaarsuvius, an' this must be Belkar, aye? Nice ta finally put faces ta names.
(S): —Vaarsuvius, and this must be Belkar, right? Nice to finally put faces to names.
Sigdi: I were so worried when Fyruk said ye were back but in some kinda trouble.
(S): I was so worried when Fyruk said you were back but in some kind of trouble.
Durkon: Aye, it were awful, but it all worked out, thanks ta ye.
(D): Aye, it was awful, but it all worked out, thanks to you.
Sigdi: Me? What'd I do?
(S): Me? What did I do?
Durkon: More'n I can say, really. I'll explain later.
(D): More than I can say, really. I'll explain later.
Roy: You know, I'm just enjoying the novelty of meeting a parent who's not trying to kill one of us.
Haley: Hey, it was my uncle that threatened to shank Elan!
Sigdi: Hold on, who's tha back 'ere? Who's this handsome baby boy? Hullo!
(S): Hold on, who's that back there? Who's this handsome baby boy? Hello!
Durkon: Och, well, this's....uh...this's Hilgya, an' tha boy's... Tha boy's me son.
(D): Oh, well, this is....uh...this is Hilgya, and the boy is... That boy is my son.
Sigdi: Aye, no foolin' e's yer son. I still got both eyes.
(S): Aye, no fooling he's your son. I still got both eyes.
Hilgya: His name is Kudzu.
Durkon: Kudzu?? 'E's named after a plant?!?
(D): Kudzu?? He's named after a plant?!?
Sigdi: 'E's named after a survivor, aye? Is tha wha ye be, a brave li'l survivor tha cannae be weeded out? I bet ye be. Whar're me manners? Sergeant Sigdi Thundershield, retired. Ye can call me Sigdi or Sarge or ev'n Ma, if'n ye want. Sorry I'm a bit off guard, Durkon nev'r used any o' those 25 words per spell ta tell me 'e got married.
(S): He's named after a survivor, aye? Is that what you are, a brave little survivor that can not be weeded out? I bet you are. Where are my manners? Sergeant Sigdi Thundershield, retired. You can call me Sigdi or Sarge or even Ma, if you want. Sorry I'm a bit off guard, Durkon never used any of those 25 words per spell to tell me he got married.
Hilgya: Oh, we are not married.
Sigdi: Och, Sorry, I shouldna've assumed. Then tha 'e had a girlfriend at all.
(S): Oh, Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed. Then that he had a girlfriend at all.
Hilgya: Actually, we only met one afternoon, in a dungeon.
Sigdi: Oh. I guess tha clears up why me son dinnae know 'is own child's name until right now.
(S): Oh. I guess that clears up why my son did not know his own child's name until right now.
Durkon: Lord Thor, I know ye need me ta do stuff, but can ye maybe strike me dead fer a bit now and send me back later?
(D): Lord Thor, I know you need me to do stuff, but can you maybe strike me dead for a bit now and send me back later?
Sigdi: Well, I guess I dinnae need tha details. Yer both adults, tho I hope thar weren't any bad behavior on me boy's part. I dinnae raise 'im tha way.
(S): Well, I guess I do not need the details. You're both adults, though I hope there wasn't any bad behavior on my boy's part. I didn't raise him that way.
Hilgya: It's...fine. It doesn't matter now. It's all water over the tunnel.
Durkon: It's na fine! I tried ta make things proper by marryin' ye, an' ye killed me wit a Flame Strike!
(D): It's not fine! I tried to make things proper by marrying you, and you killed me with a Flame Strike!
Sigdi: Seems like a firm na, then.
(S): Seems like a firm no, then.
Sigdi: Wha? I'm na sayin' it's right, but I punched yer Uncle Hoskin square in tha jaw tha first time 'e proposed ta me. Knocked a tooth out, I did.
(S): What? I'm not saying it's right, but I punched your Uncle Hoskin square in the jaw the first time he proposed to me. Knocked a tooth out, I did.
Durkon: Tha's na tha same.
(D): That's not the same.
Sigdi: Aye, but 'e's still missin' tha tooth. Can I hold 'im?
(S): Aye, but he's still missing that tooth. Can I hold him?
Hilgya: Uh, are you sure you're not going to...um...
Sigdi: Lass, I had one arm when Durkon were born an' I raised 'im safe an' sound. Ye can trust me wit me own gran'son.
(S): Hilgya, I had one arm when Durkon were born and I raised him safe and sound. You can trust me with my own grandson.
Hilgya: Alright. For a little bit. But to be clear, nothing about Durkon leads me to believe he wasn't dropped on his head as a baby.
Sigdi: Och, surely ye've noticed we Thundershields haf thick nigh-impenetrable skulls! Do ye haf a hard head? Are ye a stubborn li'l pebble like my wee boy were?
(S): Oh, surely you've noticed we Thundershields have thick nigh-impenetrable skulls! Do you have a hard head? Are you a stubborn little pebble like my wee boy was?
Hilgya: Ha ha ha!
Sigdi: Such a sweet baby. I bet yer ma just loves ye ta bits, aye? I bet yer ma feels better knowin' thar's someone in yer pa's life who knows how ta take real good care o' ye— —just in case she ev'r puts a scratch on 'im again an' yer Granma Sigdi needs ta end her. Is 'e on solids yet?
(S): Such a sweet baby. I bet your mother just loves you to bits, yes? I bet your mother feels better knowing there's someone in your father's life who knows how to take real good care of you— —just in case she ever puts a scratch on him again and your Grandma Sigdi needs to end her. Is he on solids yet?
Hilgya: What? Uh—yeah. A little. I mean, in addition to—
Sigdi: Yer pa loved mashed carrots when 'e were yer age. Let's go see if'n we cannae find some in tha kitchen, aye?
(S): Your father loved mashed carrots when he was your age. Let's go see if we can not find some in the kitchen, yes?
Roy: Wow, I haven't seen a feint like that since Fencing class.
Haley: Don't take this the wrong way but I want to grow up to be your mom.
Spoiler: Strip 1154
Durkon, Belkar, Haley, Blackwing
Haley: OK, I had to get him a glass of warm milk to settle him down, but Elan's resting now.
Blackwing: And V's trancing, without any ruminant boob drippings.
Durkon: Good, good. We got tha rest o' tha night ta plan, then.
(D): Good, good. We got the rest of the night to plan, then.
Belkar: Any chance you're going to put some armor on at some point? Because the "deep-V" look you've got going on is not working for you.
Durkon: Aye, good point. Me old armor's wreck'd, but I shouldnae haf trouble findin' sumthin' useful 'roun 'ere. But more import'ntly...ye just reminded me o' sumthin' Thor whispered ta me b'fore I came back... "Death an' destruction." Tha's wha Odin's prophecy said I'd bring wit me when I came back home. Turns out me whole life were shaped by tha, an' I dinnae ev'n know it. But now I know.
(D): Yes, good point. My old armor is wrecked, but I shouldn't have trouble finding something useful around here. But more importantly...you just reminded me of something Thor whispered to me before I came back... "Death and destruction." That's what Odin's prophecy said I'd bring with me when I came back home. Turns out my whole life was shaped by that, and I did not even know it. But now I know
<sfx> Click! Click!
<Pedestal Text>Lord Thor King of Storms and Thunder Champion of Killing Trees
Durkon: An' I already brought so much death ta so many. So I say—
(D): And I already brought so much death to so many. So I say—
<Pedestal Text>Lord Thor King of Storms and Thunder Champion of Killing Trees
Durkon: —it's aboot time fer some destruction.
(D): —it's about time for some destruction.
Spoiler: Strip 1155
Unnamed Elder, Unnamed Daughter, Unnamed Vampire,
Unnamed Elder: Preposterous. Absurd, even. What are they thinking?
Unnamed Daughter: I don't know, Mother.
Unnamed Elder: They're not thinking, I'll tell you that much. Summoning us to gather on short notice.
Unnamed Daughter: Yes, Mother.
Unnamed Elder: I am a very important dwarf! I am sure if I thought about it, I could come up with better things I could be doing than traveling all the way up to this Odin-forsaken town.
Unnamed Daughter: I'm sure, Mother.
Unnamed Elder: You know I don't like being this close to the surface.
Unnamed Daughter: It makes your joints ache.
Unnamed Elder: It makes my joints ache! Every few years, that damn messenger comes and summons me to some inane Council of Clan Elders, and for what?
Unnamed Daughter: Vast wealth and societal influence as the matriarch of a major clan?
Unnamed Elder: I mean besides that! I assure you, if there were any way to get out of making a decision on whatever ridiculous proposal is about to be put forth— —I would take it in a heartbeat.
Unnamed Vampire: Don't got one of those, but otherwise: Good news!
Spoiler: Strip 1156
In All Fairness
Unnamed Matriarch, Vampiress with Curly Hair, Vampiress with Short Hair, Unnamed Daughter, Gontor
Unnamed Matriarch: What the hell?!
Vampiress with Curly Hair: No! It's Hel, not hell!
Vampiress with Short Hair: I blame the devils. They introduced the two-L version to capitalize on our mistress' trademark.
Vampiress with Curly Hair: Anyway, how about we take that whole "deciding" thing off your plate for you?
Unnamed Daughter: Mother! Guard, defend my- *gasp* Help! Someone help us!
Vampiress with Curly Hair: Hey!
Gontor: See, now that perfectly illustrates the whole problem. Instead of resigning yourself to your impossible circumstances, you need to punch an armored opponent you have no chance of defeating.
Unnamed Daughter: Get back!
Gontor: All because you must die honorably to avoid being sent to Hel's domain. It's so unfair, and robs your final moments of the dignity they deserve. Remember, team: This is why we're doing this. To bring change to a structurally biased system and put a more egalitarian one in its place. One whee "honorable death" no longer has any bearing on a dwarven soul's final resting place. Where everyone is condemned to eternal suffering, without the chance for a last-minute escape.
Vampiress with Curly Hair: Yeah!
Vampiress with Short Hair: Equal wrongs for all!
Spoiler: Strip 1157
Holes and Walls
Gontor, Unnamed Matriarch, Vampiress with Curly Hair, Vampiress with Short Hair
Gontor: Take your seat in the Inner Chamber. Vote Yes on the main proposal, and follow and verbal instructions given to you by a vampire.
Unnamed Matriarch: Yes, OK...
Gontor: Off you go.
Vampiress with Curly Hair: Are you sure this is going to work? Seems like they should have defenses against this sort of thing.
Gontor: They do, but we are bypassing them, thanks to the knowledge our dearly departed sire gave me. The orange barrier at the foot of the stairs dispels all magic on anyone who passes through it.
Vampiress with Short Hair: That's why we're not putting the mind whammy on them until they hit the stairs.
Gontor: It also physically prevents anyone but the dwarves-or those of us walking around in dwarf bodies-from entering this Middle Chamber. The dwarves clearly believed they only needed to worry about influence from foreign sources, not from their own kind. Or maybe the ones who built this place wanted to quietly reserve the ability to tamper with the votes themselves. Who knows?
Vampiress with Curly Hair: OK, so... what does the blue barrier here at the top of the stairs do, then?
Gontor: Ah. It is a thing of beauty, really. Within the boundaries of the blue barrier, anyone violating dwarven law is turned to stone until the meeting is formally adjourned.
Vampiress with Curly Hair: What?!? Doesn't that include what we're doing?
Gontor: Not if we limit ourselves to verbal orders once we're inside. The laws don't prohibit simply talking! But they do explicitly forbid attacking or using any spell or supernatural ability on any creature during a council meeting. Any spell-including Dispel Magic! Even if Thor's people make it past our defenses, they will be powerless to break our control of the councilors inside the Inner Chamber. They will be forced to watch as our pawns usher in Hel's final victory! Bwee hee hee hee hee hee!
Vampiress with Short Hair: The blue one also blocks sound, or else the evil cackles would be a total giveaway.