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"What in the name of the dirt under the claws of the mother of all wombats."The title character, a wombat who got lost digging one day, and finds herself in a strange world.
- Action Girl: If she has to, she kicks much ass.
- Battle Cry: REMEMBER TUNNEL SEVENTEEN!
- Big Sister Mentor: To Murai. Not even the statue of Ganesh knows what Murai would do without Digger's advice under her belt.
- Deadpan Snarker: She copes with the weirdness around her by snarking about it.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Seems a bit more reserved after Ed dies; she's reacting to other people, but just barely enough to get by.
- The Heroine: Of the comic. She also serves as The Lancer to Murai.
- Indy Ploy: Not that Digger likes such things, but it's generally how things end up anyway.Ed: Ed is hoping Digger-mousie knows what is doing!
Digger: Why start now?
- I Have Many Names: Digger, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels Of Clan Quartzclaw, Burrower, Honored Digger, Digger-Mousie, Earth-Rat, Little Mother of Earthquakes.
- I Should Have Been Better: She beats herself up over Ed's death, convinced that she could've prevented it somehow.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Digger inadvertently leads the hyena tracking her straight to Jhalm. She hears the fight start behind her, but since she really doesn't like either party, she just keeps on going. Later on, she manages to befriend the same hyena. Then Jhalm finds out, and puts two and two together. Should've listened to your mother, Dig...
- Mama Bear: Don't you dare mislead Shadowchild.
- Minored in Asskicking: Majored in geology/architecture. Well, she is a wombat.
- Nay-Theist: Her attitude is that gods are a whole heap of trouble of which you're better off steering clear. Apparently this is common among wombats.
- Only Sane Woman: Often her reaction to the extravagantly weird events she's involved in is some variation on the tune of "Oh, no, what is it now?" Unfortunately for her, somebody's got to keep her little group of dubiously-sane, questionably-competent weirdos in line, and as the only fully sane and completely competent person around, Digger's drafted.
- Overly Long Name: Digger-Of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels. Of Clan Quartzclaw. And she picks up some nicknames as she goes along, too.
- Parental Substitute: To the Shadowchild.
- Powerful Pick: Her (and most wombats') Weapon of Choice.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Given that sarcasm is Digger's standard response to most things, this is quite common.'Sweetgrass Voice: Do you have any idea how long twelve thousand'' years is?Digger: I know it's not long enough to make a good rock.
- Stealth Pun: Her full name, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels.
- The Unchosen One: Descending Helix made sure that his descendants (Digger included) were Immune to Fate, but due to a loophole and being a possessor of common courtesy, Digger is roped into helping out anyway.
"It was told to die, leave no name, no memory, no bones where real people might eat them. But It did not die. It has no name. But It will paint. After It is bones. After all real people are bones, after all names are eaten, someone will find pictures, maybe will not matter then that It doesn't have a name. Someone will remember pictures."A male hyena that Digger happens across one night who promptly tries to eat her, but becomes her friend shortly after.
- Amazon Chaser: He certainly thought so of Blood Eyes. She was one of the strongest warriors of her time, in any case.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Don't threaten his child. Even if you're her crazy mother. And don't taunt his circumstances.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has his moments.
- The Dog Bites Back: After long years of abuse, when he finally decides to act, it's... decisive.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Gut-wrenchingly averted.
- Extreme Door Mat: Was unwilling to confront his mate about her unrealistic expectations and was unwilling to try to protect himself from domestic abuse until his child was hurt. He considers his inaction to be his greatest failing.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: His original name was eaten, making him a non-entity in his culture."It has no name. Its name was eaten."
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Has something of a breakdown after encountering (and being rejected by) Grim Eyes.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Breaks the chain keeping He-Is (and therefore, Sweetgrass Voice) alive, but dies in the process.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Describes himself as beautiful when he was first courted by Blood Eyes.
- Love Makes You Dumb: "Skin-painter is fool."
- My Greatest Failure: Considers his inaction and cowardice in dealing with Blood Eyes to be this. According to him, he should have left or run long before Blood Eyes hurt their daughter or fell so low that killing her was the only way to stop her.
- No Name Given: His name is gone so Digger decides to call him "Ed."
- Papa Wolf: Accepts years of abuse, but as soon as his daughter is the one being hurt, he tears out his mate's throat.
- The Philosopher: Manages this even while invoking You No Take Candle.
- Sacrificial Lion: Dies in the climax.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: NAME-- IS-- ED!
- Spot of Tea: Whatever's actually in his "warrior tea", Digger can't stand the taste of it.
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: Since Ed had been exiled, he hadn't talked to anyone before Digger came along (presumably because no one but the hyenas would know where to find him, and they consider him to be unclean since his name was eaten when he was exiled). After seventeen years of silence, he simply forgot how to speak, and the syntax he uses is his best guess.
- You No Take Candle: We initially think he's eloquent in his own language. He's not - he hasn't talked to anyone in seventeen years, so his language skills have atrophied a bit. He has a peculiar wisdom and eloquence of his own, even so.
"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy? What does it look like? How do I know?"A young, curious little shadow demon who hatched from the body of a dead bird. It eats shadows and has latched onto Digger for moral support.
- Ambiguous Innocence: Innocent to the point of no morality. Fortunately, it seems to trust Digger and want to learn. Unfortunately, ethics aren't the easiest thing to explain. It does figure out morality well enough to refuse to kill its companions and (correctly) identify another demon as evil, even when the other demon states that demons are above such petty "rules" - though it still mostly argues the point in terms Digger has told it.
- Badass Adorable: Cannot be hurt by mundane means, and has powers beyond most creatures. Goes toe-to-toe with the projection of an ancient demon and wins.
- Beware the Nice Ones: It's cute as a button, but don't forget: Shadowchild is, for all intents and purposes, a soul eating demon.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Digger is left having to teach Shadowchild the many nuances of what's right and wrong, and Shadowchild has difficulty understanding the concepts. Sweetgrass Voice explains the moralities of demons, and the rules of creatures don't apply. After absorbing Sweetgrass Voice's projection, Shadowchild seems to become wiser to the way things are; it states that while morality is still hard to grasp, it understands Digger's dilemma and the varying nature of good and evil, and leaves to find other demons to teach.
- Cheerful Child: Shadowchild is upbeat about odd things.
- Children Are Innocent: It's naive about the world, and doesn't seem to mean any harm.
- Constantly Curious: Asks Digger a lot of questions.
- Dark Is Not Evil: It's not quite good either (see Ambiguous Innocence), but calling it evil would be a big stretch.
- Furry Confusion: The Shadowchild's concern for the possibility of eating anything that can talk runs across more difficulty because it is, not unreasonably, unwilling to assume that prey animals can't without case-by-case checking.
- Growing Up Sucks: After absorbing a projection of Sweetgrass Voice and becoming smarter and more demon like, it states this almost word for word to Digger, who understands the sentiment.
- In-Series Nickname/No Name Given/Only Known by Their Nickname: As far as it knows, it doesn't have an actual name. Digger coined the term "shadowchild" to refer to it, but usually just addresses it as "Shadow".
- Living Shadow: Its exact appearance.
- Our Demons Are Different: It's an intangible shadow creature.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Undergoes a significant growth spurt after absorbing Sweetgrass Voice's projection and memories.
- Running Joke: "Am I a—" "No, Shadowchild, you are not a [insert animal/object/abstract concept here]."
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Capable of "stretching" itself into scarier shapes, and its non-stretched form is always pretty variable.
- Wild Child: Seems to be standard for demons; most either go feral or are taken in by other demons. As far as it can determine, a demon being raised by something kind just hasn't happened, though Shadow sets out to rectify this.
- Your Soul Is Mine: If Shadowchild eats the shadow of a living creature, it falls into a coma and eventually dies.
The Statue of Ganesh
Digger: You're a lifesaver.A statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. Digger pops out of a hole in his temple. The Veiled worship him and other gods.
Statue: On occasion, yes.
Statue: On occasion, yes.
- Actually, That's My Assistant: The Statue of Ganesh is not only a speaking statue, but also a mouthpiece for Ganesh himself. Digger, being blind to the finer points of godly incarnation, just treats it as a talking statue all the time until Murai points out she's actually been conversing with Ganesh in their last conversation.
- Because I Said So: He comments to the titular wombat that neither he nor Jhalm want to have a conversation ending with "Because I'm a god and I say so."
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Though he isn't much of a Deadpan Snarker normally, he can definitely hold his own against Digger in a snark-fest.
- Expressive Mask: Depending on what he's saying and how the panel is positioned, he can look pleased, concerned or even pull off a Cheshire Cat Grin.
- God is Good: Ganesh is old, wise, and, most importantly, benevolent. He has a kindness and patience with all of his followers and an understanding of the qualms of others.
- God's Hands Are Tied: He is only one part of Ganesh, and even then, he's a statue.
- Living Statue: He's a wooden statue that can communicate with others, though he is immobile.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Does what he can to aid Digger and her companions.
"I looked upon the face of a goddess. And it broke me. And now some things take me back there. Children screaming, or the darkness shining, or the smell — I really can't describe the smell."A former member of the Veiled and a worshiper of Ganesh. Has occasional bouts of madness. So, of course, she fits right in.
- Broken Bird: She looked upon the face of the Black Mother, and now hears voices, hallucinates, falls into insensate babbling, talks to herself and occasionally tries to kill everything in her path. Otherwise, she's a shy, sweet, dutiful monk.
- The Chick: To Digger's story.
- The Chosen One: But not for this story.
- Determinator: Beneath her gentleness and her madness, there are incredible resources of toughness.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: The source of her madness is from looking upon the Black Mother.
- Handicapped Badass: Adding to an occasionally paralyzing bout of madness, she breaks her arm during a quest, which doesn't make her any less determined.
- Hero of Another Story: According to prophecy, she's The Chosen One for something, but whatever that something is doesn't occur during this story. It's implied that one day, "when she stands astride the fulcrum of the world," her experiences during Digger will turn out to be vital.
- Holding the Floor: She knows enough about Jhalm to know he will at least hesitate to attack a lone, injured, if armed girl.
- Madness Mantra: "Black Mother, pass us by, turn your head away from us, we are not here, we are not here, pass us by..."
- Badass Creed: "Black Mother... Show your face!"
- Morality Pet: To Jhalm. At the end she says she needs to follow him to make sure he makes the right decisions, despite him coming very close to ordering her arrest in the climax.
- Nice Girl: She's gentle and polite to everyone she speaks to - even demons.
- Sanity Slippage: Triggered by flashbacks to her experience with the Black Mother.
- Tareme Eyes: Western example, Murai's eyes are noticeably droopy in close-ups.
- Waif-Fu: All the Veiled are trained in combat, and Murai has the added help/hindrance in murderous, madness-fueled fits of rage.
"Go on. They won't eat you unless you do something stupid."Senior female member of the hyena tribe, who adopts Digger to settle an honor dispute.
- Badass Normal: "I may be old, but if you think I can't still rip you up one side and down the other, cub, even if I am blind and five times your age..."
- Blind Seer: Digger does not initially realize she is blind.Digger: I keep meeting people wearing strange masks, you see.
Boneclaw Mother: Perhaps it is a sign, then. Perhaps you ought to be wearing one.
- Combat Pragmatist: If her little "chat" with Jhalm had gone awry and their two factions had come to blows, she was ready to scratch him with venom-laced claws before he could take her out.
- Cool Old Lady: Totally badass, occasionally terrifying, and very, very cunning - but ultimately kind.
- Dirty Old Woman:Boneclaw Mother: Shadebones here has this one nephew, and Hare's Ghost, if I were thirty years younger...
Shadebones: You're blind. You can't even see him.
Boneclaw Mother: He smells adorable.
Shadebones: You're a vile old woman.
- Disability Superpower: Exploits the trope as much as she can (see Mask Power). "These stones I wear. Perhaps I can see you through them. Do you believe that?"Grim Eyes: Do the thing!
Boneclaw Mother: What thing?
Grim Eyes: The thing where you tell people what they're thinking and freak 'em out!
- Shamelessly taken advantage of when telling Grim Eyes to go with Digger on her initial quest. Whether Grim Eyes won or lost the fight threatened in the Badass Normal entry, she would still lose face with the tribe. By losing, she's lost to an elderly woman. By winning, she's won... against an elderly woman.
- Expressive Mask: The ropes holding the stones on her mask will rotate sometimes, often to correspond with her current emotion.
- Expy: She is basically a mix of Discworld's Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.
- Mask Power: She uses this and her blindness for political advantage by claiming (probably falsely) to be able to see through the pebble eyes of the mask. She is sufficiently badass that other hyenas fear it may be true.
- Never Mess with Granny:Grim Eyes: Frankly, I'm more scared of Boneclaw Mother than the gods. She-Is-Fiercer isn't known for her left hook.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She pretty much exists to prove that every Hyena woman doesn't have an enormous chip on her shoulder.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: "I would like a worrrrd with you."
"A friend might put a spear in your heart, but only an enemy will tell you it's for your own good."A young female hyena from Ed's tribe, whom Digger meets when Grim Eyes is trying to capture and eat her. They also eventually become comrades.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: It is a wonder that Grim Eyes even approaches normal.
- Heel–Face Turn: After Digger's Embarrassing Rescue.
- I Owe You My Life: To Digger. She's not too happy about it.
- The Lancer: To Digger.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Revealed to be Ed's daughter.
"Bloodtail always was a vain little child, worried that people were watching her and terrified that maybe they weren't. She grew into a nasty, vain adult."Not much is known of her, but what is known makes her rather disagreeable.
Former mate of Ed.
- From Bad to Worse: Her firstborn child died, and she has nobody to take out her rage/grief on aside from the spouse she still deeply loves (when she's sane). Meanwhile her sister is taking advantage of her vulnerable state, eventually driving her mad enough to start beating her daughter as well.
- Love Makes You Crazy: She did not take the loss of her first born well.
- Posthumous Character: Dies long before the story itself.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: After the death of her firstborn. Things went bad when her own sister started screwing with her head.
"Even compassion must bend before the law."Leader of the Veiled.
- Eyepatch of Power: And once he gets it, he goes from merely being hostile to overtly opposing Digger before the statue of Ganesh.
- He Who Fights Monsters: He comes dangerously close to slipping from simple Knight Templar into this.
- Inspector Javert: One of the obstacles for Digger's attempts to straighten things out is Jhalm believing that she's cooperating with the hyenas (she is) to cause trouble for the village (she isn't).
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Arguably, he becomes less of a well meaning jerk and more of a spiteful Knight Templar as the story goes on.
- Kick the Dog: He's revealed early on to have killed one of Ganesh's flying rats to intercept a message to Digger.
- Knight Templar: Increasingly so as the story goes on.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twice. the first time an unarmed Grim Eyes attacks him thinking she's got Digger, and the two get into a fight which Digger walks away from. They both come out no worse for wear. The second involves a fight with Cold Servants which he managed to hold off long enough for reinforcements to arrive and win the day. The latter was the engagement that cost him the eye.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Murai forces him into one of these by pulling a You Shall Not Pass on him at the entrance to Ganesh's temple — he either has to abandon his hunt for Digger, or attack a girl with a broken arm who is also one of his subordinates. Boneclaw Mother successfully pushes him onto the good choice.
- You Have Failed Me: Averted. When Murai was sent to investigate the Black Mother, a god that was gaining power from the beliefs of children, she came back with her mind in shambles. Murai was surprised that instead of blaming her, Jhalm blamed himself for sending a child out into such a dangerous situation.
The Oracular Slug
"One minute we're oozing along, not a care in the world, and the next, every time you cross a leaf, it's telling you the future. It's hard when you've got a brain the size of a pin head, believe me."An oracle who is a slug. Pretty much the only creature who can keep a tab on Digger's future... to an extent. After all, his job is to deliver prophecies, not interpret them.
Tropes associated with the Oracular Slug:
- Chekhov's Gun: His prophecies, naturally.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: He and Shadowchild get on very well.
- Drowning My Sorrows: A literal case led to his family becoming oracles: a druid had a problem of slugs "sampling" his beer, then falling into the cauldron and drowning. He sought to give the slugs the foresight to avoid such a mistake, but botched his spell and gave them Foresight instead, which caused many slugs to seek out the beer to make the messages stop.
- Funny Background Event: The slugs appear in several panels of the comic writing graffiti on rocks or doing other funny things unrelated to the plot of the panel.
- Hermaphrodite: Naturally, being a slug.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: Alongside his vague prophecies, he also offers Digger some practical advice, which she's genuinely appreciative of.
- Loophole Abuse: Descending Helix's contract prevented any gods from interfering with his descendants' destinies. He neglected to include any such clause about prophetic slugs.
"Ha! Was that a threat? What are you gonna do, beat up a healer in the middle of her village? I can think of a half-dozen gods who'd be very interested to hear about that."A young woman who acts as the healer for the village Rath. Digger finds herself holed up in her house more often than they'd both like.
Tropes associated with the Hag:
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Though she's not actually old, she's only referred to as "the Hag", which seems to sort of come with the position.
- The Medic: As the village healer, she's often called in to help the injured, which is how she's introduced to Digger.
- Tsundere: Will not hesitate to call Digger out on her recklessness, will not hesitate to forestall Jhalm on questioning or capturing her and will not hesitate to call out the Statue on sending Digger (and Murai) into possible danger.
- Younger Than They Look: She's 19. You wouldn't think it to look at her.
"You know any reason why an 'onest shrew can't be a bloody great troll on the side?"A professional troll who guards a rope bridge. She is actually a shrew.
Tropes associated with Surka:
- All Trolls Are Different: This settings' trolls are distant relatives of goats. Surka, on the other hand, is only a troll by profession.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Her employment history before becoming a Bridge-troll was "Pirate queen, assassin, and dishwasher."
- The Beast Master: When she met Digger, she was the master of a bunch of trolls guarding a bridge.
- Big Damn Heroes: Surka tends to just pop up whenever Digger needs muscle. Or a distraction.
- The Big Guy: Shares the role with Grim Eyes (though they're very rarely together at any one time).
- Cool Old Lady: Not in the actual comic (probably), but Ursula's children's book Nurk is about her grandson, and from what we hear from him, she remained just as boisterous in her elderly years.
- Troll Bridge: Her job, apparently.
An Only Mostly Dead hyena god.
- Beat Still, My Heart: Inverted; it's not supposed to beat, but a team of slaves are forcing it to.
- Chekhov's Gunman
- Fate Worse Than Death: He is kept alive against his will, along with the same demon that made him kill his own child.
- God Couple: With She-Is.
- Taking You with Me: He tries to do this to Sweetgrass Voice, but he's kept alive against his will. It finally works when Digger and Ed show up and kill him for good.
"Kill me? Not even a god could kill me, dirt rat. Twelve thousand years I've been down here with him, and he's never found a way to destroy me. Twelve thousand years, dirt rat! And when his sanity began to fail and I finally drove him blundering up to the surface, what did he do but find dwarves and men and one of your filthy-clawed kind to bind him! Do you have any idea how long twelve thousand years is?"A powerful, elder demon who manipulated He-Is into fighting She-Is, and was therefore the cause of the whole mess and its aftermath. It's still alive, possessing He-Is' remains.
Tropes associated with Sweetgrass Voice:
- Big Bad: Of the series.
- Chekhov's Gunman: A demon with a voice like sweetgrass smoke appears in Ed's creation myth for the Hyenas as the corrupter of He-Is. Pages and pages later, the myth turned out to be one-hundred percent accurate, and the demon as evil as described.
- Ironic Nickname: Real-life sweetgrass is a sacred plant in many indigenous traditions, said to repel evil through its sweet smell. Sweetgrass Voice is the Big Bad.
- Poisonous Friend: He-Is despised the voice for its manipulation, but followed it into the depths anyway because it was the only thing willing to talk to him in his exile.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: It has some reach to work with, but as long as He-Is is shackled, it's stuck with him.
- The Unpronounceable: Its true name, like that of all demons, cannot even be heard by most creatures, much less pronounced. In-story, it is represented by a series of dashes.
- Walking Wasteland: Forty thousand years before the story, a creature called Famine roamed the land and brought ruin wherever it went. It's implied, but never outright stated, that it's the same entity.