Random

Literature: The Zombie Knight

A dark serial novel about blood, valor, superpowers, and... crippling social anxiety?

The Zombie Knight is a Dark Fantasy Web Serial Novel written by George M. Frost.

After meeting his untimely death, Hector is restored back to (un)life by his reaper Garovel as a servant. Armed with supernatural strength, newfound abilities and crippling social anxiety, they set out to save those in danger of dying violent deaths.

The scope of the story begins fairly small and grows steadily over time, eventually following many more characters than just Hector. It also takes place in a modern Constructed World with some medieval themes. Praise for the story usually brings up its characters, worldbuilding, action scenes, and/or sense of humor.

The story is an ongoing serial and is being updated at least once a day by about 400 words. To get a feel for its current length, see the Table of Contents here.

SPOILER WARNING: Many examples on this page contain major, ummarked spoilers, particularly for events that happen earlier in the story. Read on at your own risk.

This story provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    A - D 
  • Action Girl: Lynnette. To a lesser extent, Helen.
  • Aerith and Bob: Justified to some extent. See here.
    In order of age, they were Gabriel IV, Nathaniel II, Charles III, David III, Martin V, Luther, and Meriwether.
    David remembered asking his mother why the two youngest had such different names.
    "Because mercifully, your grandmother was dead by then, and I no longer had to listen to her."
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Reapers are basically imaginary. They don't have a "true" form and those who can see them perceive them exactly as they expect a reaper to look. (Hector sees them as skeletons, Roman as crows, Geoffrey as basically human, Helen as ghosts.) Garovel explains this very early in the story:
    Hector: You look... you look just like I imagined you would. [...]
    Garovel: Ah, right. My appearance. Whatever you're seeing, right now, it's not really what I look like. In truth, I don't actually look like anything.
    Hector: ..What?
    Garovel: Your brain forms an image of what I should look like and projects it onto my presence. Appearance is something for your physical reality, where I do not exist.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Haqq's shield. When used by a servant, it boosts their passive defense to match that of Abbas Saqqaf, a powerful Sandlord servant who helped make the thing. The more powerful you are, the longer you can safely use it per day.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Hector returns to talk to his mother after killing Geoffrey, this conversation ensues:
    Hector: Geoffrey was a... he was a criminal... he and I fought before... a-and, ah... he, uh—
    Vanessa Goffe: During one of your outings, is that it? One of your little adventures fighting crime, right? It came back to bite us. You went and got involved in something you shouldn't, and now your father is dead because of it. My husband... Because of you! You got him killed, didn't you?! That's what happened, isn't it?! [...] Answer me! You didn't kill him yourself, but you're still responsible for it, aren't you?! Well?! Just tell me!
  • Asleep for Days: After the major fights, Hector usually sleeps through several days. After he had to regenerate his whole body from his head, he slept for two weeks straight.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Geoffrey likes killing. A lot. Made worse by the fact that he keeps "souvenirs" of his victims. And that he turns their dead bodies into soulless puppets For the Evulz.
    • Desmond is very similar to Geoffrey in his utter disregard for life. There is a very disturbingly hilarious page where they casually chat about murder and destruction.
    • Nora Pauls also seems sort of unstable and violent. Then again, it probably applies to most Abolish servants.
  • Badass Normal: Lynnette again. Colt too, though he becomes a servant later on and doesn't qualify as normal anymore.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Abolish is founded on such a bizarrely illogical premise that the most of the adherents it attracts either weren't all there in the first place, or are just Ax Crazies looking for a home. Voreese puts it like this:
    Voreese: It's Abolish. Odds are about fifty-fifty that any given member is one of the stupidest motherfuckers on the planet.
  • Black Comedy: The story's main source of humor.
  • Blatant Lies: During a phone call with Gina, Roman tells several of these, probably so she doesn't get worried. However, it's not very successful.
    • About his phone:
      Gina: Master Roman! Where are you? You haven't contacted me for weeks.
      Roman: Yeah, my phone kind of blew up. It's no big deal. I've got a new one now.
      Gina: How did your phone get destroyed?
      Roman: Oh, um. I dropped it.
      Gina: You dropped your phone, and it exploded.
      Roman: Yeah. That's a thing that can happen. I don't see what's weird about it.
      Gina: Master Roman, why are you lying to me? And moreover, why are you sucking at it?
    • About the jet:
      Gina: Wait. What happened to your private jet?
      Roman: Oh, um. Yeah, don't worry about the private jet. It's fine.
      Gina: It's not fine at all, is it?
      Roman: It's at the bottom of a swamp.
    • ... which may both be related to this:
      Gina: They attacked you?
      Roman: No.
      Gina: Master Roman...
      Roman: Okay, maybe a little.
  • Bloody Hilarious: See the example under Major Injury Underreaction. Also, from the same fight:
    "Your attacks hurt," said Geoffrey, "but they do not wound. Not like this." He speared Hector through the chest with a red-coated hand. Blood flew everywhere. Geoffrey’s hand stuck out of Hector’s back, clutching an extracted heart.
    Bleeding from the mouth, Hector did not move. "...You were saying?" He headbutted him, reared back, and kicked Geoffrey through the wall.
  • Bond Creatures: Reaper-servant teams are a form of this, with the odd twist that both ends of the bond are dead humans. Reapers, who were once humans with a particular gene, can take one person who's just died as their servant. The servant protects the intangible and helpless reaper and acts on the material world for them, and in return they get immunity to death, Super Strength, one other superpower and an invisible friend who's really there.
  • Break Them by Talking: Happens during the showdown between Hector and Geoffrey, starting here. Highlights:
    Geoffrey: You have always been a difficult person to read, haven't you? Even your father—well, your previous father—even he never really felt like he understood you. But then, he did not take a very active role in your life, did he? I am honestly curious as to what you thought of him. The whole reason I took his body was because I thought the two of you were close, but according to his memories, that does not seem to be the case. [...]
    Did you know that your father suffered from quite vivid hallucinations? Your parents never told you, right? [...] See, your father used this condition of his as an excuse to keep you at arm's length, under the pretense that he was afraid of hurting you or some such nonsense. He convinced himself that this was the case. But really, the truth of the matter—the thing he would never admit—was that you simply did not interest him. Because he didn't love you. Isn't that something? [...]
    I may not be human, but even I know what love feels like. And your father never felt it. Well, not for you, at least. Your mother, sure. He was fiercely in love with her. But you. You were always just. Sort of. There. [...]
    So that is why I'm curious. Was this mutual? Did I just waste my time? Or did you actually love him? Or maybe you hated him! Perhaps I did you a favor in killing him! How fantastic would that be?! [...]
    Still refusing to answer me, I see. I will take that to mean you really did love your father, after all. Honestly, though, I cannot understand why. You know what the funniest thing is? I actually care more about you than he did.
    • The sad thing is that, judging from what we know about Hector's parents, Geoffrey wasn't even lying.
  • Broken Tears: See Heroic BSOD.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: While Hector's always shy and tends to stammer a lot, it's especially bad around females.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story started out a lot more lighthearted (as far as possible for a story about death), but especially after the end of the Third Oath, the tone has grown more serious.
  • Comically Invincible Hero: Hector's invincibility is played this way in the first few chapters. See examples under Bloody Hilarious. However, later in the story, there are servants around who are a lot more powerful than Hector, so he isn't invincible anymore.
  • Constructed World: The story is set in a fictional world called Eleg. From the description:
    The setting of the story is a modern fantasy world called Eleg, which is culturally and technologically similar to present day Earth in many ways, yet also divergent in many others. It's not an alternate timeline, as Eleg has its own geography and political systems, but there are still some historical parallels.
  • Crapsack World: Stoker's flashback of his life in Vaeland reveals all the horrors of a country torn apart by years of war. Atreya is downright pleasant in comparison, although Abolish is trying to spread the war as much as possible.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Any bike Hector lays hands on ends up getting destroyed. To be fair, he doesn't have a license and the only training he ever received was from Garovel. Which doesn't stop Garovel from making fun of Hector:
    Garovel: Hector, look. A Revenant cruiser. And look! A wall you can crash it into!
    Hector: Hey, I didn't wreck the last bike. Um. Much.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The goons in the first few chapters are really no match for Hector. Though he makes sure not to kill them.
    • After Harper goes into a hyper state during the Battle at Rathmore, he is able to kill everyone in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, he can't fully control his behavior during the hyper state yet, so even his allies are in danger.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: About every character has one. Really, if they appear in the story, it's probably safe to assume a troubled past. Notable examples include:
    • Hector. Driven to Suicide by his loneliness and uncaring parents.
    • Colt. Grew up in a foster family, never exactly bullied, but still beat up by the other kids. Later lived with a woman who was abusive towards him and their children, nearly got thrown in jail for the attempted murder of their children that she commited, only to be "rescued" by Joseph Rofal and subsequently forced to work for the Rofal family because his children were being held hostage by Rofal.
    • Stoker. Grew up in a poor country, though his family was rich. That is, until the wars started. His family had to flee and lost everything, only for everyone but him to be killed. For years, he and a bunch of other kids lived as bandits in the woods, until they tried robbing the wrong guy who turned out to be the co-leader of Abolish. More or less ended up as a servant for Abolish without conviction. Also implied to have been raped by the captain of a slaver ship.
    • Roman. Orphaned at a young age, homeless for many years. Ended up as a thief, though apparently a pretty good one considering the wealth he accumulated.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Garovel is a Grim Reaper, but a case of Don't Fear the Reaper is soon established. Also, Hector himself may qualify, as he uses gruesome powers of zombification to help people in serious danger.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Servants are already very powerful in fighting mode, but the sixth Oath introduced the concept of hyper states. When a reaper and their servant have achieved high enough soul synchronization, they might be able to merge their souls and become temporarily nigh-unstoppable. Their power reaches Game Breaker levels and they can use other abilities the servant usually doesn't have. However, the hyper state is very hard to control and takes such a high toll on their bodies and minds that they might even die.
  • Dead to Begin With: The story opens right after Hector's death.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Servants are basically immortal. Sure, they may get killed, but they're usually alive and kicking a little while later.
    • Averted with the reapers: They can die, and permanently so. They also take a lot longer to recover from injury.
    • Played straight with Colt. After Geoffrey kills him, he stays dead for about one chapter until the reaper conveniently nearby revives him. Not that anyone was particularly surprised by this.
    • Averted, so far, with Geoffrey. He is still dead, but we'll see how this plays out.
    • Lampshaded here by Colt after killing Zombie Stoker. Though the trope is actually (probably?) averted with Stoker since he's dead and staying dead according to Garovel.
    Colt: He’s really dead, right? I never can tell anymore.
  • Demonic Possession: Geoffrey's control over his fetchers might be this, of the Empty Shell variety. He removes their souls and consumes them. What's left of them is basically a mindless zombie waiting to be controlled by him.
  • Dirty Cop: Colt is one, though involuntarily. His kids where kidnapped by local Mob Boss Joseph Rofal, granting him leverage over Colt.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Destruction users throw a beam of expanding space that obliterates any matter caught inside, forcing its atoms apart until the bonds between them fail.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Invoked. Hector is far too shy to shout and snarl in typical action-hero fashion, so instead Garovel teaches him to frighten people by speaking in whispers and being incongruously polite.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Garovel is really nice and gentle towards wandering souls. Though you probably wouldn't want anyone from Abolish to ferry your soul.
  • The Dreaded: Any high-level servant can be this to a low-level ones.
    Gerald: Imagine if they send Ivan or Dunhouser or Jercash or any of a dozen others. Forget about causing trouble. We wouldn’t even be able to run away.
  • Driven to Suicide: The reasons for Hector's suicide only gradually become clear since Hector is reluctant to talk about it. It's a mixture of loneliness and depression after being rejected by those he thought of as friends.

    E - I 
  • Elemental Powers:
    • Transmutation and materialization users. Unusually, these powers use actual elements like iron, fluorine and sodium.
    • Some alteration abilities fit here too. For instance, Roman can use fire and shockwaves
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: An odd example with Hector and Karkash. Hector's iron can largely neutralize Karkash's lightning (with lightning rods and such), but in turn Karkash's magnetism can wreck or manipulate the iron.
  • Elemental Shapeshifter: Transfiguration powers. The pan-rozum hyper state provides a much more powerful version.
  • The Evil Prince: Several of them, actually. They didn't take well to their younger sister Helen being made Queen and subsequently try to murder her. They actually succeed, but Helen gets recruited by her own reaper.
  • Explosion Propulsion: Stoker learns to use his ability this way.
  • Extra Ore Dinary: Hector's servant ability. The metal power is categorized under "materialization," which is described in-story as "the ability to create something from nothing." The power gradually develops in a variety of ways as the story progresses.
    • Desmond's sodium transfiguration technically counts, but it plays out as Having a Blast.
  • Fake Static: Roman to Gina here.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • After Colt's Heel-Face Turn, he and Hector devise a plan to infiltrate Rofal Mansion and rescue Colt's children. Colt kills Hector and presents his corpse to Rofal, who sends the body to be examined. Hector regenerates and wakes up during his autopsy and starts to knock out Rofal's guards, allowing Colt a chance to kill Rofal and save his children.
    • This is also how Colt manages to evade law enforcement. After letting the police kill him, he manages to leave the country because the police have stopped looking for him. As of Oath Eight, he hasn't been seen since, so his new quiet life with his children seems to be working out for him.
  • Fantasy World Map: The map of Atreya and Sair can be found here.
  • Feel No Pain: The reapers can make their servants temporarily immune to pain, though this boost doesn't come for free. "Feel that in the morning" indeed.
  • Fragile Flower: Iziol is a strange example; he seems to think everyone else is Fragile Flowers, with perhaps the demonstrated exception of his servant Dimas. He can't think of any insults stronger than "turkey" (and worries that even this might be too strong of language) and calls Dimas a monster when he attacks Horatio without bothering to provoke a first attack. Funnily enough, Iziol doesn't seem to consider hurling destructive gravitic energies at people to be unacceptably rude as long as they attack first—and taunting them into attacking first counts, albeit only with the aforementioned mild language.
  • Friendless Background: Hector, because of his shyness.
  • From Bad to Worse: The Third Oath is this for Hector.
  • Gambit Pileup: The debacle with Nathanial, Luther, David and Meriwether leading to...
  • Get Out: Hector's mom to Hector after his father's death.
  • Girl Friday: Gina to Roman.
  • Glad He's on Our Side:
    • Joseph Rofal in regards to Geoffrey:
      Rofal downed the rest of his whiskey and rested the glass in front of him. "There are very few people in this world who frighten me," he said. "I am all too glad to have that monster's favor."
    • Hector thinks this about Xuan Sebolt.
  • Gorn: With a cast full of undead servants with kickass abilities, that is to be expected.
  • Government in Exile: After fleeing from Sescoria, Queen Helen tries to find allies abroad. She later returns to Atreya and reclaims the throne after driving out Abolish.
  • Grand Theft Me: Geoffrey learns to use his body-switching ability and switches into Hector's father's body, almost certainly consuming his soul in the process.
  • The Grim Reaper: Well, duh.
  • Healing Factor: The servants regenerate so quickly that a lost limb or three barely slows them down.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Colt. He used to be a dirty cop working for the crime boss Joseph Rofal, but after meeting Hector and rescuing his children from Rofal, he switches sides and works with Hector.
    • It's even possible to say that he went through a Face-Heel Turn before that. As a young man, he was fairly idealistic and became a cop in order to do good. Due to Colt's personal problems, Rofal gained leverage over Colt and forced him into working for the Rofal family. Colt lost his idealistic outlook on life and stopped caring for anyone but his children.
  • Heroic BSOD: After the ordeal at the end of the Third Oath where Hector had to kill Geoffrey who had taken over Hector's father's body and killed most of Hector's friends, only to be rejected and wanted for murder by the general public:
    And it was finally quiet. He finally had space to breathe. To think. He got off the bike. He pulled off the helm and let it drop from his fingers while he looked out, Brighton in the distance.
    He collapsed. Unconsciousness embraced him then and there.
    When he awoke, his face was in the dirt. Blue sky and white clouds greeted him. The sun had only just begun to wane.
    Hector shut his eyes. "...Garovel?"
    "Hector! Where are you?! What the fuck happened?!"
    He started sobbing.
    • The trauma also seems to have a lasting effect on his temper. Later, when chased by the police, he is so frustrated that he deliberately breaks a cop's arm. He's pretty horrified when he realizes what he's done.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The final fight against Geoffrey results in Hector being accused of murdering all the people Geoffrey had turned into puppets. Hector still tries his best to save people, but everyone is so terrified of him now that they immediately call the police when he shows up. This is finally remedied at the beginning of the seventh Oath when Helen returns to Atreya and announces that Hector has been working for her all along and was framed by her adversaries.
  • Hidden Depths: Turns out that rude, loud-mouthed Voreese has a very soft center.
    Roman's expression softened. "She wants to make the world a better place. And not just in a good-deed-for-the-day kind of way. She wants me to obtain so much strength and influence that I can at least try to fix some of the really fucked up things in the world. Like slavery and widespread famine and institutionalized poverty — y'know, the things that no one's been able to fix in centuries."
  • Humanoid Abomination: Geoffrey. Things like him are called Aberrations. Even those not involved with the supernatural can't help but notice that something about Geoffrey just isn't right.
  • I Have Your Wife: Rofal had Colt's children kidnapped in order to make him do his bidding.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Basically the story of Hector's life. It's really heartwarming when he starts to bond with Garovel, and finally with some of his fellow students.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Played with. Reapers can stop and start their servants' aging pretty much as they please, limited only by how old the servant was when they died. Captain Erickson is 30 but looks and acts 10, Octavia Redwater (who became a servant at 14) looks her real age of about 80, and Harper looks 30 but is over twice that. Hector (currently 16) plans to wait until he's in his fifties before having Garovel stop him, assuming he gets that old.
    Garovel: That’s actually a pretty common sentiment, though. You’d think more servants would want to be eternally young, but as it turns out, most sixty-year-olds don’t want strangers treating them like they’re twenty-year-olds.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Played completely straight. During the Battle at Rathmore's Gate, Voreese deliberately (and successfully) taunts an enemy reaper/servant pair who are flying a plane full of hostages in order to make them land the plane.
    Voreese: DUMB SHIT! HOW'D HE EVEN LEARN TO FLY A PLANE?!
    Jupard: Shut up and die, already!
    Voreese: LAND THE PLANE SO WE CAN HAVE A REAL FIGHT!
  • I Should Have Been Better: Not being able to save someone causes Hector a lot of grief and guilt.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Unusually, invoked by a good guy. When Geoffry first meets the Pancake House Five, Vincent refers to him as "he", while Roman refers to him as "it".

    J - O 
  • Just Like Robin Hood: If Voreese is to be believed, this applies to Roman.
    Voreese: Roman only steals from the super wealthy! And nobody knows it, but he takes care of the poor, too! He's a great guy!
  • Kill All Humans: Apparently, this is Abolish's goal. They try to create as much destruction as possible, killing every last human being in the process. Their preferred method seems to be to start wars, but they are definitely not opposed to killing humans directly. Their reasons for this aren't particularly clear, but Garovel thinks it's because the reapers want to move on to the afterlife, too. As long as there are humans, the reapers have to fulfill their duty of ferrying their souls. So for the reapers to be able to pass on, all human life has to be destroyed. Yes, this logic is as bad (in both senses of the word) as it sounds.
  • Killed Off for Real: Seeing as reapers can revive anyone as their servant, all deaths have the possibility of not being permanent. However, some characters do stay dead.
    • Samuel Goffe, Hector's father.
    • Most of Hector's friends from school.
    • Geoffrey. Being trapped in an iron box and impaled with dozens of soul-empowered iron pillars should kill anything. Probably.
    • Stoker. His reaper Nize was killed and he became an insane soulless husk, forcing Hector and Colt to kill him.
    • Nola, Andres and Tessa
    • Mariana Elroy
  • The Kingdom: Atreya is a monarchy, currently ruled by Queen Helen. It's a rather small country and hasn't been all that important up to this point. It stays out of the waging wars and doesn't allow practices like slavery that are still common in other parts of the world. However, Abolish try to draw Atreya into the war by forcing (or replacing) the King and Queen. At the end of the second Oath, Helen is on the run and Abolish try to torture her husband into obedience. With the seventh Oath, Abolish has been driven out of Atreya for the time being, Helen has returned into power and the war with the neighboring country has been averted.
  • Made of Iron: Unusually for a fighting series, entirely averted. Characters are physically no tougher than normal people, and attacks do exactly as much damage as you'd expect. Instead, survivability comes from the fact that servants can regenerate and Feel No Pain, leading to...
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Hector and the other servants can shrug of incredible amounts of damage. Justified, but still hilarious. See this example:
    In an instant, something red flashed across Hector’s vision, and suddenly, his forearm was gone, flesh and bone cut so cleanly off that it took a moment to start bleeding. Geoffrey held the severed limb by the wrist.
    Hector remained unfazed.
    Geoffrey tossed the meat over his shoulder and stared. "Did that not hurt?" he asked.
    Hector clocked him in the mouth, and Geoffrey flew back, toppling over the sofa. "Did that?"
  • Mama Bear: Isabelle Edith (Lynnette's mother) and Mariana Elroy.
  • Metaphorgotten: Deliberately used by Roman when Hector asks him about Gina:
    Hector: Er, what is your relationship, exactly? I-if that's not too personal, I mean.
    Roman: She's the glue that keeps my boat in the air.
    Hector: That's definitely not a thing people say...
    Hector: ...I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.
    Roman: She's the giraffe to my peanut butter—
    Hector: If you don't want to tell me, you can just say so.
  • Mr. Exposition/ Exposition Fairy: Every reaper is this to their servant, but it's usually Garovel we see doing the explaining. Lampshaded here:
    Hector: You love explaining things.
    Garovel: Hell yeah, I do.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: In his dying moments, Stoker reflects on his life.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Voreese and Hanjir's reaper at one point have a round of "My Servant Can Beat Up Your Servant."
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Gohvis is known as "the Monster of the East" or "the Black Scourge." Hector had heard that last one, but thought it was a plague.
    • The rest of the Abolish higher-ups have similar nicknames: the Mad Demon (probably Morgunov), the Living Void (probably Dozer) and the Salesman of Death (probably Morgunov's Dragon).
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Several.
    • The Rofal family. Under Joseph Rofal the family business was basically The Syndicate, controlling all of the criminal underworld of Brighton. Geoffrey only wanted to cause harm and destruction and nearly killed the organization. Damian Rofal's goals are as of yet unknown, but he is definitely more dangerous than he seems. Even Abolish seem to fear him.
    • The Pancake House Five seem to be this at first. Their true goals are still unknown, but Roman at least is willing to do anything to protect his country and teams up with Hector.
    • Abolish. Waging and starting wars in order to obliterate the human race is pretty evil. The Vanguard are portrayed in a more positive light, but they are just as dangerous.
    • As of the seventh Oath, we might just as well add the Vanguard to this list. They might not be evil, but no-one can tell anymore and their goals are definitely nebulous.
  • Nerves of Steel: Roman's secretary Gina. Without even being able to fight, she waltzed into a castle overrun with superpowered psychos from Abolish and riddled it with eavesdropping devices, then spent weeks holed up listening to the bug feeds (which often include the sounds of Abolishers gruesomely killing people) and feeding info to her allies. All while knowing that at any time a curious Abolish reaper might spot her soul and bring the supervillains down on her.
  • Never Going Back To Prison: At one point Lynette runs into a crazed hermit who assumes she is a cop and breaks out his shotgun while telling her that he won't let her take him alive. Currently the page quote for that trope.
  • Never Mess with Granny: One can safely assume that any elderly member of a servant dynasty is pretty badass, since servants grow Stronger with Age. Special mention goes to Octavia "The Red Lady" Redwater, who's one of the four strongest Rainlords, chose to look her real age, and once pulled out a terrifyingly powerful sword that her grandson had given her after his own attempt to use it nearly killed him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hector spends the first few weeks of being a servant fighting crime in his hometown because he tries to do good. However, due to his fighting crime, Geoffrey targets Hector and kills Hector's father and most of his friends. It's not really Hector's fault, but it's probably still true that Geoffrey wouldn't have done that if Hector hadn't started fighting the Rofals.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability:
    • The servants. While they definitely can be harmed, it's usually only a minor inconvenience. Their reaper can make them temporarily Feel No Pain and their regeneration takes care of all wounds. Many abilities can also be used to strengthen their user's body.
    • Very old servants with high synchronization take this even further, their powerful soul-strengthening making weaker attacks bounce off them or even fizzle uncast.
    • Geoffrey. When Hector first meets him, he is completely unable to harm him in any way because he is protected by his shadow. Geoffrey is actually surprised (and delighted) when someone finally does manage to harm him.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Hector did while hiding out in Klein that had him return home with tons of bullets.
    • But in a bigger way whatever it was that caused Hector to fall off a twenty floor building more than once and have three helicopters and an army of cops chasing him, while he's on foot.
  • No Sell: Hector (and the other servants as well) can shrug of ridiculous amounts of damage without even batting an eye. See Bloody Hilarious and Major Injury Underreaction on this page for examples.
  • Not Quite Flight: Many servants can do this. For instance, Karkash can magnetically levitate iron armor worn under his clothes, Stoker can use Explosion Propulsion, Asad creates hurtling masses with handles for him to grab, and Parson can turn part of his body into animate oxygen and propel himself with winds and vortices.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Parson and Overra. Their career is riddled with boneheaded mistakes and failed missions, but on closer examination those "mistakes" of theirs often conceal highly successful black ops.
  • Obliviously Evil: This might apply to Geoffrey. He never shows any remorse for killing or even acknowledges that most people consider murder wrong. Moreover, he's usually so utterly cheerful and nice in a crazy kind of way that he might actually be a nice guy if not for the whole killing people thing. Considering that his grandfather is apparently mentally ill, Geoffrey might have some mental problems of his own.
  • Older Than They Look: The reapers are able to stop their servants from aging, so any given servant can be a lot older than they look. As the quote under Immortality Begins at Twenty states, most servants choose to age well into middle age so they get taken seriously. However, Parson Miles is a notable exception. He looks like a young man, but is in fact one of the oldest and most powerful servants around.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The exact properties of a soul aren't clear yet, but it's definitely complex.
    • Aside from developing their ability, a servant can grow stronger by something called "Soul-strengthening." It's explained here
      Garovel: It's basically just enhancing physical qualities through the application of mental force. It's something you can only do when your imaginary power grows stronger.
      Hector: I'm guessing it's not as easy as that first step was.
      Garovel: It's not easy or hard, actually. And unlike your iron ability, it can't grow in sudden bursts through mental stress. Imaginary power is based upon the manipulation of your soul. [...] After the first step is taken, the only way to increase your imaginary power is time. [...] See, I have control of your soul. In order for you to manipulate it, too, you and I have to spend more time together. Gradually, your soul and mine will become more synchronized.
    • The sixth Oath introduced the concept of hyper states. If a servant-reaper-pair becomes synchronized enough, they can temporarily merge their souls and become incredibly strong. However, it is very difficult to achieve and even harder to control and not unlikely to kill them both.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: All servants are technically undead. They died, and the only thing keeping their soul attached to their bodies is their reaper. They don't exhibit any of the usual signs of zombieism, though: No craving human flesh or mindlessness.
    • Though it is hinted at that should a reaper be seriously injured, the servant's mind might take damage.
    • Also, the Abolish reapers seem to prefer their servants mentally disturbed to the point of mindlessness.
    • In chapter 42, we get to see what happens to a servant after their reaper is killed. What remains of them seems to act like very fast, very strong zombies.
      [Hector] tried to coat it in metal, but the creature was much too fast. And just like that, there it was, right in Hector’s face. It lunged for his neck, biting and drooling. Its teeth hit metal and chewed ineffectually. He pulled back, and Stoker grabbed him by the gauntlet, trying to bite through that, too.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Hector hasn't appeared in chapters 77 through 81, more than one month in real time.
    • Colt has been gone for quite a while, presumably spending most of his time with his children and not being bothered by Abolish.
    • Damian Rofal was last seen disappearing with Geoffrey's corpse.

    P - S 
  • Papa Wolf: Probably the driving force behind Colt's every action. He would do anything to protect his children.
  • Parental Neglect: It's hinted at early on that Hector's parents aren't very interested in his life.
    • Starting with the fact that he had been lying dead in the bathroom for a few hours and they didn't even notice his absence. Or the fact that his clothes were bloody when he did show up again.
    • It only gets worse from here on out: When the school called his mother about his absence from school, she offers him a stack of pre-written excuses and doctor's notes with this comment:
      Hector's mom: You'll be eighteen in a couple years, and then you'll be on your own. It's best you learn to start being responsible for yourself now. Goddess knows you've been a burden on your father and I long enough, already.
    • When he was ten years old, the familiy moved towns and they sort of forgot to take Hector with them. He stayed behind and his parents called the police only after a week of his absence.
    • After Geoffrey takes Hector's father's body, he taunts Hector by telling him that his father never loved him anyway. It's unclear whether Geoffrey just wanted to get a reaction out of Hector though.
      Geoffrey: I may not be human, but even I know what love feels like. And your father never felt it. Well, not for you, at least. Your mother, sure. He was fiercely in love with her. But you. You were always just. Sort of. There.
  • Perpetual Storm: Western Sair (Rainlord territory), which is filled with constant pouring rains, and whose capital city is built on top of giant pylons and still floods occasionally. Unlike most examples of this trope, it isn't supernatural in origin; it's just the wet side of an extreme but ordinary rain shadow.
  • Personality Powers: Each servant that gets enough characterization to recognize it will have at least one major piece of symbolism each for the power that they have and the way that they use it.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Shortly after becoming Garovel's servant, Hector is terrified of the thought of him leaving. This dialogue unfolds:
    Hector: Um... please... um...
    Garovel: Hmm?
    Hector: Please... don't leave me alone...
    Garovel: Don't you remember? When you talk to me in your head, I'll hear you no matter where I am. So don't frown like that. You understand? You're never alone, Hector. Not anymore.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Hector's death sets the whole story in motion.
  • Power of Friendship: Defied. Garovel says that a servant's imaginary power increases based on the reaper and servant's souls coming in sync. Hector asks if it's like the power of friendship.
    Hector: You mean, like... through the power of friendship or some shit?
    Garovel: No. Friendship doesn’t really factor in, unfortunately. It’s just a kind of natural osmosis that happens over time.
  • Power of the Void: Aberrations like Geoffrey are created in the name of the Void and wield its power. It allows them to withstand any kind of attack that wasn't soul-empowered. It's also very harmful for reapers.
  • Power Tattoo: Asad has a full-body set of black, abstract tattoos that seem to damp out any hits he takes, flashing yellow as they do.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Pretty common among servants of Abolish.
    • Desmond. As mentioned under Ax-Crazy, he has no qualms about ending lives, yet his behavior is very child-like and innocent at all times. There might be Values Dissonance at work, or he might just be crazy.
      "Everyone! Hello! My name is Desmond, and my friends and I will be kidnapping you today!"
    • As mentioned above, Geoffrey is very similar to Desmond in his attitude towards violence. He's not human though.
    • Moss, of the Dumb Muscle variety. He is mute and, considering Abolish's preferred servants, probably mentally challenged. He is mostly controlled by his reaper Ozmere.
  • Psychopomp: The reapers serve as guides for the dead between this world and the next, though not even the reapers know if there is an afterlife at all.
  • Puppet King: As Ezmortig puts it when they come for Helen:
    Ezmortig: We don't care who's on the throne, just so long as they're ours.
    • After Helen leaves, power falls to King William. Abolish promptly ensure his cooperation by ripping off his left arm and threatening torture on everyone he cares about should he refuse them.
  • The Quiet One: Hector, though because of shyness, not stoicism.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: after the Battle of Rathmore's Gate Hector doesn't have enough of his body left to do this, but responds to Roman's shouts by raising a pillar of materialized iron in a very similar way.
  • Red Baron: Many stronger servants have nicknames like this. The full list:
    • Asad Najir: Lion of the Desert
    • Dozer (?): Living Void
    • Gohvis: Black Scourge, Monster of the East
    • Hector Goffe: Darksteel Soldiernote 
    • Jackson: Star of the West
    • Lamont: Iceheart
    • Melchor Blackburn: Darktide
    • Morgunov (?): Mad Demon
    • Octavia Redwater: Red Lady
    • Sanko: Gargoyle of Korgum
    • Sermung: Crystal Titan
    • Xavier Lawrence: Blue Bear
    • Xuan Sebolt: Seadevil
    • ???: Salesman of Death
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: In super-powered mode, nothing can stop a servant — except destroying their brain. They can regenerate any injury on the fly, but destroying their brain actually kills them temporarily and their reapers have to revive them, costing them several crucial moments in battle.
    • Interestingly enough, to actually get rid of a servant, you have to avert this trope. No matter how thoroughly you kill them, as long as their reaper is alive, a servant can always regenerate. Aside from taking out the reaper, the only way to disable a servant permanently is to put the servant's Brain in a Jar so the reaper can't regrow their body or respawn them someplace else.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The servants can heal nearly any injury thanks to their reapers. If they do happen to be killed, their reaper can just revive them again.
  • Shipper on Deck: Helen towards Lynnette and Hector, although she stated that she was just joking about deliberately pairing them up.
  • Shrinking Violet: Hector. He can't even speak a single sentence in the presence of strangers. Worse still in the presence of girls.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: The servants are all Type IV, thanks to their reaper companions. Having their brains destroyed will only prove a temporary setback as long as their reapers are still kicking.
  • Socially-Awkward Hero: Hector. Save someone from a serial killer; destroy a crime empire? No problem. Sit with a few people in the school cafeteria? Big problem.
  • Some Call Me Tim: Octavia's reaper Wendissofigelroc has a really strange name and prefers a shortened version. Unfortunately for him, the name "Wendy" kind of stuck.
    Octavia: Just call him Wendy.
    Wendissofigelroc: Please don't. I hate that name.
    Octavia: He never learns. No one is ever going to call him Wednesdaywafflerocks.
  • Starts with a Suicide: Hector actually tried and succeeded to kill himself. Made even more tragic when Garovel later observes that Hector never wanted to die in the first place but wanted someone to notice his pain.
  • Stronger with Age: A servant's soul power increases almost linearly as they age and their synchronization increases, and their ability grows too if they put any effort into it. Older servants also get better hyper states and a few other perks.
  • Super Mode: A reaper can give their servant a temporary boost, making them stronger, faster, immune to pain, and trigger the ability to regenerate. One boost lasts for about thirty minutes until it needs to be renewed. This is the reason why a servant can only regenerate when their reaper is present (or has given them the boost beforehand). The sixth Oath introduced the concept of hyper states, which are even more superpowered than normal servant fighting mode. See above under Deadly Upgrade.
  • Super Smoke: Xuan Sebolt's pan-rozum form is a cloud of phosphorus-oxide smoke that also wields fire and acid powers. Presumably other servants with gaseous elements could do the same, although Xuan gets extra credit for achieving the effect with a compound of his normally-solid element.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Historical example in the Armans, who repelled the invading Lyzakks dozens of times by riddling their eternally-flooding lands with disguised dams and then breaking them at the opportune moment.

    T - Z 
  • Take Care of the Kids: Colt asks Hector to do this when he knows that he's about to be killed.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The servants gain special abilities that can grow over time, either through meditation or danger. It's explained here:
    Garovel: The first [method] is meditative training, just like you’ve already been doing. It takes a while, but it's the more reliable of the two.
    Hector: The other way is faster?
    Garovel: Very much so, yeah. The second method is to throw yourself into an incredibly dangerous situation, almost get us both killed, and hope that the desperation and rush of adrenaline are enough to force a breakthrough.
    Hector: What the fuck? That sounds...
    Garovel: Reckless and stupid? Yeah. We won’t be attempting that one. The almost-getting-killed part is a dealbreaker for me.
    • Unsurprisingly, they end up in the second situation a lot.
    • A couple of pages in chapter 34 go into more detail about the process, starting here.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Parson Miles really likes ice cream.
  • Trapped In Villainy
    • Colt, sort of. He has very compelling reasons to obey Joseph Rofal, but he wasn't exactly a good guy to begin with. After teaming up with Hector, Colt's lack of obvious remorse for killing innocent people still serves as a point of conflict between them.
    • Lawrence doesn't want to go along with the traitor Vanguard's plans, but his reaper Dergoz forces him to and threatens to release him if he doesn't.
    • All of House Blackburn. After Ibai Blackburn, the long-awaited heir, turned out to be an aberration, Parson Miles started blackmailing the Blackburns. If Ibai's existence should become known, he would certainly be killed by the Vanguard, so his parents did as Miles told them. Thirty years later, they're in so deep that there's no chance for peacefully resolving the conflict.
  • Unexpected Successor: Nobody expected Princess Helen, the youngest child of the royal family and a girl to boot, to succeed her father to the crown. Her older brothers are not amused and try to have her killed.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Ibai Blackburn is an aberration who has never eaten a human soul, only animals (and he even put the animals' bodies to productive use). During the Marshrock battle, he was deliberately offered several captured reapers to eat and a promise that no one would know, and refused.
  • Vigilante Man: Hector really doesn't like criminals. The media call him the Darksteel Soldier.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Roman and Voreese. Voreese is perhaps the more vocal of the two, but Roman has no trouble returning the favor, even in the midst of battle. See here:
      Roman: I'm Roman. And you fuckers aren't welcome in my country.
      Voreese: And I'm Voreese. This is our land, you shitheads.
      Roman: Oh, shut up. No one cares what you have to say.
      Voreese: Fucking brat! I'm the important one here! You're just my servant!
      Roman: You'd be dead if it wasn't for me!
      Voreese: No, you would! I'd have found a different servant! One who didn't give me so much lip, you four-eyed fuckwit!
      Roman: Imaginary bitch!
    • Hector and Garovel are perhaps a more mild example. While they don't generally try to conceal their true feelings behind insults, they do end up throwing friendly insults around quite often.
    • Salvador Delaguna (a Rainlord) and Asad Najir (a Sandlord) seem to have this. It's not clear if they have any actual ill will, but probably not.
      Asad: [on speakerphone] Ah, is that you I hear, oaf?
      Salvador: It is! Answer my question, desert rat!
  • Void Between the Worlds: The featureless nothingness between life and afterlife is called the Void in-story. It is the reapers' duty to safely ferry the souls over to whichever afterlife awaits them.
    • Desmond and Ezmortig try to explain the Void to Geoffrey:
      Geoffrey: The Void? What are you talking about?
      Desmond: It's a place. The Void is what we call the space between this life and the next. It straddles the line between realities. Ezmortig here, he always has one foot in the Void, so to speak.
      Ezmortig: But it's also a consciousness. People might tell you otherwise, but don't you believe them. The Void has a silent will of its own, and it spawned you and all your kin. With a little help from Abolish, of course.
    • Abolish seems to have a certain reverence for the Void. In a flashback we see Stoker thinking about the Void shortly after being initiated into Abolish.
      And this "Void" is also puzzling. It is supposedly a realm of nothingness, yet everyone speaks of its "will" or of its "consciousness." He does not understand how nothingness could "be" anything, let alone sentient. But they take it very seriously.
    • When Ibai teleports, he can see ''something'' that he calls the void.
      And for an instant, he could see.
      The infinite void.
      Everything and nothing. Life and death. A trillion burning stars in the sky and all around him. Souls suspended in space. Eleg, too, spinning and breathing and alive.
      And all of them, ethereal. Massless shadows of reality. The universe of zero weight, where space itself was of no consequence.
  • Wham Episode: Every Oath (major plot arc) contains wham of differing levels.
    • The end of the third Oath deserves special mention: Hector's wanted for murder, his father is dead, his mother never wants to see him again, most of his friends were killed and the rest are terrified of him, and he has to leave his hometown for good. The fact that the story's major Big Bad so far is dead is relatively minor in comparison.
    • The seventh Oath basically changes the whole balance of the story. It turns out that the Vanguard aren't actually good people. For some reason, they are hunting Gema Elroy (who is barely more than a child) and are ready and willing to kill her whole family — who happen to be Vanguard themselves, but what's a little betrayal among friends?
    • Oh, and did we mention there's a whole different civilization living under the earth?
  • What the Hell Are You?: The Mobs' reaction when Hector keeps going after sustaining lethal injuries.
  • World Building: The story takes place in a Constructed World called Eleg. The author has created a Fantasy World Map for Atreya (where the story has taken place so far) and worked plenty of details about its political system into the story. As the story progresses, more information about other countries and Eleg's history have been revealed.
  • You Are Not Alone: Said by Garovel to Hector. See above under Please Don't Leave Me.
  • You Can See Me?: The reapers, usually invisible to anyone but servants, react this way when Geoffrey is able to see them.
    Geoffrey: Hmm. If you will not tell me your name, then what about these two here?
    Hector: What?
    Bohwanox: He can see us!
    Geoffrey: [grins] Why, yes, I can. Am I not supposed to?
  • You Did Everything You Could: Hector often blames himself when he can't save someone. Garovel tries to comfort him.
    Garovel: Do you remember what I said before? Sometimes there won’t be a good option left to choose.
    Hector: ...Is that supposed to be comforting?
    Garovel: No. It’s not. Because we’re not supposed to be comfortable. Being comfortable makes us complacent. Sloppy.
    Hector: Then... what are you saying?
    Garovel: I’m saying we did our best. And we don’t respond to failure with depression. We respond by becoming better. Until our best is good enough.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: Geoffrey would very much like to eat your soul. He fantasizes about eating an entire city and the strength he would gain by it. His victims are more or less Killed Too — their body is definitely dead, but Geoffrey can take over and use them as puppets.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: A major step in Abolish's plans for Atreya was destroying a small town called Harold and making it look like a neighboring country was responsible. It all had to be carefully choreographed and stage-managed. So it put a pretty big crimp in the plan when the terrible Darksteel Soldier appeared on the news, saying that he was coming to level Harold (while the Abolishers were still hours away) and warning the townspeople to Run or Die.