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One of the heroes of the comic, Duane is a galit, a unique kind of zombie that has retained all of his intelligence and skills. He meant to make a quiet unlife in Sharteshane copying legal documents and reading and writing letters for commission; however, when his condition is uncovered by the leader of the Frummagem crime family, Duane is given an ultimatum: either escort Boss-King Frummagem’s daughter, Sette, to her cousins place to collect a debt he owes Nary, or have his secret exposed to the whole town. Reluctantly he accepts, though he’s making an effort of trying to make Sette a better person along the way.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Escort my daughter to her cousin Stockyard, or I reveal you’re a galit to anyone in town with a pitchfork and torch and a desperate need for a break from monotony.
- Animals Hate Him: Most likely because he’s dead.
- Berserk Button: Harm a child around this zombie, and you're liable to lose a limb. Or all of them. Possibly your head, too.
- The part of his life where he and his daughter were brutally murdered, he was reanimated and - in his religion - forsaken by God, and he was forced to abandon all of his loved ones is a very sensitive topic, as Sette learns.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Stops to help a brother and sister in distress, then makes a personal mission of tracking down and stopping the Red Berry Boys to prevent them from hurting children, much to Sette's chagrin.
- Cultured Badass: Speaks almost like a character from a Shakespeare play and he is one of the more well learned people in the series. He is also one of the most powerful wrights shown and a skilled melee combatant.
- Cultured Warrior: While in the army.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being a living corpse, he’s one of the most decent people in the comic.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Often has many moments that involve this. Despite being a decent person overall, he comes from an extremely regressive and totalitarian state, and his country's warped ideals are rather ingrained in him.
- Dork Knight: Opera and theater loving, idealistic and noble, but very, very capable and competent in a fight.
- Deadpan Snarker: Tee-hee.
- Fantastic Racism: One of his biggest character flaws is his blind hatred of Crescians, even those undeserving of it. Mind you, he has some very good reasons for that hatred...
- Friend to All Children: Always, which Sette takes shameless advantage of. In his living days, he was extremely protective of his squad of Child Mage soldiers, and was a devoted dad. Dying didn't make him any less of a softie.
- Genre Savvy: "Think on it. A mysterious stranger in unassuming garb, of noble mien, his manner strange, his abilities unknown, selflessly answering the call of innocent youths. Not one to take lightly, says the theatre."
- Glamour Failure: Normally he uses a glamour to make himself look human; eye contact, however, breaks the spell and makes him resemble the rotting corpse that he is. Once Sette gives him pointers on deception, he starts to overcome this.
- Honor Before Reason: He’ll use pymary against an opponent using pymary. If his opponent can’t cast spells, he’ll fight them with his quarterstaff or fists, for the sake of fairness. Nevermind that he's supernaturally strong.
- Horror Hunger: Like all zombies, Duane constantly craves human flesh and he needs to keep tight control of himself at all times. Even a little bit of blood is enough to exacerbate his hunger. However, by removing a blood-splattered glove from his hand and pocketing it, Sette reveals that "out of sight out of mind" applies and can help clear his thoughts when he starts, ahem, seeing red.
- In the Hood: There’s a practical reason for it. See Glamour Failure above.
- Little Kid Lover: Not one, but a Running Gag is Sette accusing him of this.
- Large Ham: He has a very theatrical way of speaking. Just look at the quote on Genre Savvy when he encounters the Red Berry Boys for the first time, or hear him when he’s recounting war stories to Sette. Understandable, since he used to be a fairly popular preacher who used pymary to enhance his sermons.
- Magic Knight: Word of God states that while in the military he trained the wrights under him on how to use weapons, in defiance of Squishy Wizards.
- Master of Illusion: His favorite school of pymary, although he attests that he isn't incredibly talented with it, at least compared to his combat pymary.
- Morality Pet: To Sette. He’s trying to make her a better person, and though she'll deny it up and down, his efforts seem to be gradually paying off. By baby steps, anyway.
- Nightmare Face: Chapter 7 involves our first good look at his face. It's not pretty.
- Noble Bigot: He's inherited his country's prejudices regarding women and Crescians, as well as the Ssaelit Church's distaste for its rivals the Gefendur. On the other hand, he's a sincerely good person and is deeply troubled when his views are called into question.
- Our Zombies Are Different: He has the Horror Hunger most zombies do, but unlike regular "plods" he’s intelligent, self-aware, and can cast spells, and he might be unique for this. At night, he becomes more like his mindless, bloodthirsty zombie cousins, though Sette can keep him docile at the end of a leash or a pair of shackles he carries for this purpose.
- Papa Wolf: Towards Sette. And pretty much all children. And towards his own kids, particularly his daughter. Not that it did her any good...
- Parental Substitute: Towards Sette, though they'll both deny it. He's certainly not quiet about his objections to Da Frummagem's parenting style.
- Replacement Goldfish: It's implied that one reason he puts up with Sette is that she reminds him of his deceased daughter Mikaila and at one point he sees Sette as her.
- Shell-Shocked Senior: Served in the military and, while he actually enjoys recounting war stories, his time seems to have left him with a deep hatred of Crescians. Getting violently murdered by them (and seeing his daughter killed as well) definitely didn't help matters.
- The Storyteller: Duane is extremely good at telling stories, often using his tactic casting to add visuals. This was also at least part of his job as Rector while he was alive, albeit a religious variant.
- Warrior Poet: He enjoys showing off his eloquence and poetic phrases at least as much as his combat skills. This page is a good example.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: When he was alive. In the present day, he still desperately clings to this, but reality has started to set in.
- Wrongly Accused: Captain Toma and Elka ironically believe him and Sette, due to a case of wrong-place-wrong-time, of being in cahoots with the very slavers Duane intends to rain righteous justice on.
The other hero of the story, Sette is the daughter of Nary-a-Care Frummagem. Tasked with collecting a debt her cousin owes her father, Sette is determined to prove herself as Nary’s daughter, hoping one day to take over his criminal empire.
- Kid with the Leash: Specifically to Duane at night when he is in zombie mode. She possesses a necklace that lets her pacify him and seemingly control him to a certain extent.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: She’ll take everything that’s not nailed down to the floor. Then the nails. Then the floor.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: She doesn't bear much resemblance to her father and she's remarked as being "unique" among the Frummagems. It's also shown she's concerned about the rumor that she isn't Nary's real daughter more than she lets on.
- Missing Mom: According to Sette on Formspring, her mother's dead.
- The Nose Knows: Her sense of smell is superhuman, to the point where she can actually smell spells.
- Older Than She Looks: According to Anadyne she hasn't visibly aged in the three years since she last saw her.
- Rage Against the Heavens: With grace and poise.
- Royal Brat: Not actual royalty, she’s the heir to her father’s crime family.
- Sir Swears Alot: She’s got quite the mouth on her.
- Small Name, Big Ego: While her father’s feared and respected, she thinks she should have some of that infamy too. The rest of the world tends to disagree.
- Smarter Than You Look: Despite seeming looking like the typical Bratty Half-Pint, though with a tail, she’s managed to successfully dupe Duane into travelling into Cresce by leading him away from roads and towns where he could discover their position, and travelling at night while Duane is “sleeping”.
Captain Emil Toma
A famous Crescian peaceguard captain who is trying to find and put an end to the Red Berry Boys. After a violent encounter with Duane and Sette in an evacuated Red Berry Boy hideout, he believes them to be members of the gang and is devoted to bringing them to justice.
- The Ace: Played with. Toma is a very skilled fighter and a good officer, but his status as a legend among the Crescian people is highly exaggerated.
- A Father to His Men: He’s very protective of those he works alongside.
- Fair Cop: His exploits got him recognition, but his good looks got him a wife.
- The Good Captain: He has this reputation in Cresce.
- Happily Married: Most of the Crescian population believes this is what his marriage is, being something of a "living the dream" senerio. According to Elka his wife pulled a And Now You Must Marry Me which he couldn't refuse.
- Hero Antagonist: All signs point to him being a very noble man, he just happens to be against Duane and Sette.
- Inspector Javert: He mistakenly believes Duane and Sette to be members of the Red Berry Boys.
- Later subverted. Toma has since decided that the pair are after the Berry Boys just like he and Elka are, but isn't yet sure of their motivation. Finding the half-eaten, dismembered remains of a guy who found Duane at night made him rightly cautious.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Toma has shown willingness to work with people he should technically be arresting, such as Quigley and Duane, provided a bigger threat is removed. He also looks out for his subordinates and gives everyone a fair chance to prove themselves.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: He'd much rather be home with his daughter but he has duties to fulfill for his country.
A Crescian peaceguard working under Captain Toma who’s helping him track down the Red Berry Boys.
- Hero Antagonist: Like Toma, she’s a member of the peaceguard and dedicated to taking down the Red Berry Boys.
- Good Is Not Nice: She’s a very abrasive person, and doesn’t much like being stationed in Ulestry, as shown by her condescending and rude attitude towards the officials working there. She was also pretty rough with Sette when she first encountered her, threatening her after she assumed the girl was a member of the Red Berry Boys. Though after months on the job, far from home and tracking child killers, she has a bit of an excuse.
- Inspector Javert: Like her captain, she believes Duane and Sette to be members of the Red Berry Boys. Of course, they also have a personal stake in tracking Duane down after he cut off the arm of one of her friends.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Elka is abrasive, rude, and short tempered most of the time and only acts decently respectful to Toma, but she is still one of the most decent people shown in the comic.
- Magic Knight: Is a skilled wright and melee combatant. This not an oddity for a Crescian the way it is for the Aldish Duane though.
- One of the Boys: Elka is very tomboyish in her mannerism and much of her humor is as crass as her male colleagues whom she seems to spend the majority of her time with.
A captive of the Red Berry Boys, and, so far, the only one not to have undergone the procedure that have left all other captives comatose. All that’s really known about him is that he was found sleeping in a ditch before being captured. He’s currently working on a plan to free himself and the rest of the captives.
- Bad Dreams: Suffers from some involving his mother daring him to be badass. Gets an awesome Call Back when he pulls a Big Damn Heroes.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Matty, Cara and the child captives of the Red Berry Boys.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Gets turned into one looking like a Plat after complaining too much, complete with flowers in the background. He has a breakdown the very next panel. Sadly it doesn't survive the page.
- Nice Guy:
- His Establishing Character Moment is comforting and giving candy to a crying little girl. He tries to comfort the other captives of the Red Berry Boys while they're in pain, and eventually resolves to free all of them.
- He even comforts Matty after Matthis blows up at him and is about to hit him, and earlier in the comic he was extremely resentful toward Matty for being the kid of someone working with the slavers. Later, he rescues Matty and Matthis from the Red Berry Boys even though he owed them nothing.
- Mysterious Past: Nothing much is known about him other than he was found by the Red Berry Boys in a ditch. However the Bad Dreams he suffers from, that involve his mother, seemingly a pirate captain he worked under, hint at a Dark and Troubled Past.
- Survivor Guilt: Seems to have some in regards to Cara's death. This provides part of his motivation for saving everyone from the Red Berry Boys.
An Aldish wright working for the Red Berry Boys. When he learned Starfish’s plan involved hurting children, he quit, only returning after Starfish agreed to release the kids when the job was over... and up his pay. He has a son named Matty who he keeps promising to take to Sharteshane, where they can live a quiet, peaceful life. This promise has been repeatedly broken.
- Always Save the Girl: He will always save Matty and Matty knows this. He may eat lunch first though.
- Anti-Villain: Works for the Red Berry Boys but he's Only in It for the Money, and only after he negotiated the children in Starfish’s clutches would be let go. Also, he loves his son very much and "doesn’t do executions."
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Most of his pymaric attacks come in the shape of insects.
- Bungled Suicide: He intended to die in his raid on the Aldish municipal office, but miraculously survive.
- Combat Pragmatist: Duane calls him out on "fighting without honor," due to his unfair tactics of using his opponent's robe as a pymary component and, later, unleashing a horde of pymaric insects.
- Cynicism Catalyst: His wife was murdered by Aldish nationals. He has quite the hatred for them as a result.
- Death Seeker: Is incredibly depressed, nihilistic, and suicidal. Matty is practically the only reason he keeps living (although prior to the events of Orphans he didn't even care about that).
- Evil Counterpart: To Duane, though he’s not that evil.
- Interrupted Suicide: Twice, in Orphans.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He is short tempered and rude to most people including his son when he is angry enough. Despite this, he genuinely loves Matty and attempts to save the slaves. He also doesn't kill needlessly and seems to detest cold blooded murder.
- Living Legend: A minor example. A play was made about the events that led to his wife's murder and his killing spree while trying to recover Uaid before escaping. He hates it but it apparently helped him avoid coming to blows with Elka since she knew who he was because of it.
- Not So Different: Duane's flashback reveals that he had morally objected to what the Aldishmen had been doing during one of their meetings.
- One-Man Army: After his wife was killed, he raided the Aldish Municipal Office to retrieve their construct Uaid. He killed everyone inside, and escaped unharmed. And he did all this while carrying Matty on his back.
- Papa Wolf: Don’t insult his son.
- Parents as People: He does love his son, but he's a deeply flawed individual who frequently breaks his promises to Matty and, in at least one case, took his anger out on Matty by hitting him.
- Punch Clock Villain: He’s Only in It for the Money.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Following his wife's death.
- Smug Super: He was very disdainful of Duane’s abilities during their duel. His arrogance was unfounded.
- Squishy Wizard: Very much so, especially in comparison to Duane, though he has has moments.
- Suicide by Cop: After his wife was murdered by Aldish authorities, he raided a municipal office in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, intending to die in the attempt. He survived.
- Token Good Teammate: To the Red Berry Boys formerly.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The reason he left the Red Berry Boys is because Starfish’s plans involve ripping out kids’ organs. He only rejoined after Starfish agreed to let the kids go once the job was done… and that Quigley would be paid more.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Starfish has tried to do this to him recently. Try being the operative word.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Plats age faster than most people. They don’t live long past thirty. Quigley’s got five years left.
Matthias’s eight-year-old son. Blinded during the incident that caused the death of his mother, he relies on a pymaric doll named Chitz in order to see. Cheerful, friendly and naïve, Matty hopes that he and his father will retire to Sharteshane to live a peaceful life. Unfortunately this dream will have to wait after his father signs on with the Red Berry Boys for one last job.
- Adorably Precocious Child: "He needs to count to ten."—on throwing his father in their golem's belly/cellar.
- Break the Cutie: Defied. He has a healthy fear of Complete Monsters like Starfish, but he's bounced back from some truly nightmarish situations.
- Cheerful Child: Relentlessly so. He's nice to Sette and Toma even while they're actively working against Quigley and him, and still sees his father as the man who does the voices while reading him the comics.
- Companion Cube: Chitz, the pymaric he uses to see.
- Foil: To Sette.
- Missing Mom: She was killed by Aldish nationalists.
- Morality Pet: He serves as this for his father.
- Nice Hat: Sports one.
- The Pollyanna: To quote the cast page, while blind “he still manages to see most silver linings.”
The leader of the Red Berry Boys, a sadistic and greedy thug who is making money by smuggling a mysterious substance inside people, first ripping out their organs to make room.
- Bad Boss: After Ephsephin was grievously injured, he decided to beat him to death with a bottle rather than make any attempt to save him. He did this with a smile on his face.
- Dirty Coward: He likes to throw his weight around but he scares very quickly when the tables are turned. After acting like a blustering jerkass to Quigley, one blow from the wright is enough to make Starfish need new trousers. It's why he prefers children.
- Fat Bastard: According to the author, one reason she can stand writing such an immensely evil character is because he's...immense, and "fat people are fun to draw."
- For the Evulz: Frequently does cruel things for the sake of cruelty, rather than any practical reason. For example, beating an already dying Ephsephin to death, and forcing Matty to watch as his father is dying.
- The Heavy: All lame puns aside, his crimes drive the comic's plot despite hints that Starfish is a small fry in the grand scheme of things.
- Jerkass: To put it in the mildest terms possible.
- Lack of Empathy: To everyone really. See Bad Boss for the best display of this trope.
- Psychotic Smirk: Has been known to break these out just before doing something particularly evil, like biting off part of Jivi’s ear.
- Stout Strength: Apparently there's muscle under his bulk, which explains his strength and agility. Word of God likens him to a sumo wrestler.
- Would Hurt a Child: His entire plan revolves around smuggling goods inside children, first by ripping out their organs to replace it with his product. The process works just as well with adults, so why does he use children? Because his buyers will pay the exact same amount for any body no matter how small. Smaller bodies, stuffed with less product, means the product can be stretched out into more bodies for more profit. Also, Word of God confirms he’s a child molester.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tries to pull this on Quigley. Succeeds on doing this to Ephsephin.
The Red Berry Boys
The Red Berry Boys
A band of slavers and worse who primarily traffic in children (it's an efficiency thing).
- Axe Crazy: Cutter in spades, he is more interested in harming people then any other Red Berry Boy.
- Back-Alley Doctor: Cutter. He cuts but he does not... uncut.
- Black Guy Dies First: Subverted. Turas dies after Ephsephin.
- The Brute: Ephsephin plays this role, being little more then a relatively skilled fighter.
- The Chew Toy: Ephsephin goes through more and more abuse as the comic goes on. This escalates to the point where Ephsephin gets badly injured and Starfish decides to kill him rather than make him see a doctor.
- The Dragon: Turas is a friend of Starfish (inasmuch as anyone can be a friend of Starfish) and serves as his second-in-command. He provides intimidation and a cooler, more cerebral form of evil to contrast with Starfish's For the Evulz.
- Eldritch Abomination: What the Red Berry Boys, or at least Cutter, were actually payed to create. The lizard apparently used the first silver along with the flesh and suffering of those it was planted in to create something that appears to be one of these. Rather then flesh and blood, however, it's made out of metal.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Ephsephin’s afraid that if he’s caught, he’ll be hung in the square where his mother will see him. Word of God takes this even further, saying that his entire motivation in working for Starfish was to get a big payoff so his mother wouldn't have to break her back washing windows to provide for him.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Cutter, implied at first but later confirmed when he's seen feasting on Ephsephin's dead body.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: It becomes hard not to feel bad for Ephsephin after a while, even though he most likely deserves all the abuse he suffers.
- Lazy Bum: Turas, of the moral laziness variety. According to Word of God, he'll go along with Starfish's more sadistic actions cause it's easier, but that doesn't mean he's comfortable with them. A good example is when Starfish is having Quigley drowned and forcing Matty to watch, Turas is pointedly looking away.
- Lizard Folk: Cutter being a Two-Toe is this.
- Mad Doctor: Cutter is the groups resident doctor, but is far more interested in causing harm then healing.
- Meaningful Name: Cutter handles the surgeries.
- Nice Hat: Ephsephin had a spiffy one, which Sette stole for a while before Ephsephin got it back.
- Punch Clock Villain: Some of them, Ephsephin and Turas in particular.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Cutter speaks in almost nothing, but rhymes. This quirk gets lampshaded by other characters constantly.
- Starter Villain: Bett exists pretty much to show how Badass Duane is in comparison. Duane even lampshades Bett "won't see the second act."
- Straight Gay: Turas apparently likes flirting with male hookers.
- Depraved Homosexual: Averted; not only is his homosexuality unrelated to his villainy, he is actually one of the more reasonable and pragmatic members of the Red Berry Boys.
- Stupid Crooks: Epsephin just doesn't know when to quit. Duane beats him up effortlessly, so later on he tries to capture Sette. She stabs him and runs off, so he chases her down, knocks Duane off a cliff... Sette slices his face open, and Duane climbs back up to pummel him again. Not long afterward, brimming with inexplicable confidence, he swings Sette around by her tail; she gets loose and sinks her teeth into his repeatedly-lacerated face.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: After his fight with Duane, Bett gets captured by the peaceguard. Word of God says he was tortured for information then subsequently hanged.
- Would Hurt a Child: Most of them go along with Starfish’s plan to cut up kids for extra cash.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Starfish pulls this on Ephsephin.
Anadyne and Knock-Me-Down Frummagem
Sette’s cousins and Stockyard’s enforcers.
- Affably Evil: Both of them are pretty jocular when they're not out on business.
- Anti-Villain: Anadyne so far. She shares Quigley’s standards about not hurting children and is only doing her job.
- Brains and Brawn: Anadyne is brains, Knock is brawn.
- The Brute: Knock-Me-Down. She's a mob enforcer on muscle-building Fantastic Drugs who's strong enough to suplex a riding hound.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Anadyne is disgusted with Starfish’s sadism and his treatment of Matty.
- Genre Savvy: Knock tells Starfish to make Matty look away while she’s trying to kill the kid’s father, saying that if not, a masked avenger will show up in ten years to ruin her day.
- Lady of Black Magic: Anadyne tries to be this, showing up at fights with an elegant dress and disintegration spells, but her pymary isn't quite up to par.
- Punch Clock Villain: Anadyne so far seems to be a polite, compassionate young woman who just so happens to working as a crime lord’s enforcer.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Knock is red, Anadyne’s blue.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Knock for Ephephin, Anadyne for Quigley. Both of them are introduced in the same chapter that the replaced characters die or leave the Red Berry Boys.
- Would Hurt a Child: Knock seems to have no qualms about trying to kill Jivi.
- Would Not Hurt A Child: Anadyne, however, flat-out states she won’t let Starfish cut up Matty.
A strange man trapped in the khert and freed by Sette. He is incredibly violent and dangerous, but seems to have an uncanny knowledge of the khert and the world in general.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Frequently employs this and other speech patterns (such as assonance) when speaking, giving his language a strangely poetic quality.
- Alien Blood: Unlike most undead shown Murkoph bleeds when injured, but his blood is jet black and oily looking.
- Autocannibalism: He is shown causally shaving off a chunk of his own finger for a quick snack.
- Extreme Omnivore: Besides his cannibalism, he's also implied to have eaten his own clothes during his time in the khert.
- Fangs Are Evil: He has some that make him looks vaguely like a vampire. Word of God is he pried them out of a dog and kept them.
- Full-Frontal Assault: He is introduced wearing nothing but strips of cloth around his arms. Creative camera angles are the only thing preserving what could be considered his modesty.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Yes.
- Mysterious Past: Fans have been wildly speculating over just who and what he is. The fact that his facial scars seem to be identical to the scars that killed Ssael only adds fuel to the fire.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Seems to have some degree of Healing Factor; when Sette slices open one of his scars, it's perfectly healed by the next page. The fact that his body is covered in stitches seems to imply that he has also been dismembered at least once.
- Off with His Head!: His neck is encircled with stiches, implying that he's been decapitated in the past.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: He has Blood red eyes. They even seem to glow on occasion.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Though he is freed by Sette.
- Serial Killer: Heavily implied by the number of female ghosts near him, who he refers to as "old girlfriends", as well as a strong implication that he's also a rapist.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Although he mixes it with rather crass language.
- Sophisticated as Hell: He uses highly sophisticated language and poetic speech patterns, but makes liberal use of slang and vulgarities as well.
- The Undead: Appears to be, given his grey pallor and the fact that some of his body parts look like they're held on by stitches. Unlike Duane, however, he is very well-preserved.
- Would Hurt a Child: Combined with I'm a Humanitarian — he has no qualms about taking a bite out of Sette.