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Literature: Xenos
Xenos (Чужак) is a fantasy novel series by Igor' Dravin (Игорь Дравин), containing 10 novels as of late 2013.

Translator's notes:
  • The title Чужак could be translated as "alien" or "stranger". Xenos was chosen to prevent confusion with both the Alien franchise and various "Stranger" tropes and titles.
  • The Translation Convention is in effect.
  • The Russian Naming Convention is in effect for first names, both in the novels and in the list of tropes. Patronymics are used in occasional flashbacks. Also see the Aerith and Bob entry.
  • Names and toponymics are given in literal transliteration (replacing letter-by-letter). Spelling would vary if names and toponymics were given in transcription (spelling aimed at correct pronunciation of the name). Example: "Влад" transliterates to "Vlad", but could transcribe to "Vlud", read as "cut" or "gut" or "Vlood", read as "blood", depending on speaker.
  • Female names (and by extension names of many countries) end with the letter "я" in the Russian text. Given as "ya" in this article, e.g. Лития = "Litiya".
  • Both the Russian "принц" and "князь" translate to "prince". The former is a heir to a kingdom or to an empire, while the latter is the ruler of a princedom.
  • The Russian "гном" corresponds to the English "gnome", but there is no better word for "dwarf". Since Tolkien, dwarves became gnomes in Russian texts. On Arland, there is one mainly subterranean humanoid species, who exhibit tropes of both dwarves and gnomes of western fantasy.

The series concerns Vladislav "Vlad" Istrin, who is shown at a very low point in his life. Vlad looks at the only item reminding him of his former life, a combat knife, contemplates suicide, then decides against it and opts for drinking his worries away again. He blacks out and comes to it in a strange church, watched by warriors in heavy armor. Vlad first thinks of a very elaborate prank, since some of his rich and influential friends would have the resources to pull it off, but then gives it up upon seeing two moons in the night sky.With a minimum of information, Vlad is left in the care of Matvey, an inn-keeper from the city of Belgor, who decides to introduce Vlad to the city as his nephew.


The series provides examples of following tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: justified as people from our world have appeared on Arland for roughly two millenia. After meeting Father Estor and his paladins Lon and Senar, Vlad is surprised to meet Matvey, Matvey's daughter Yevdokiya "Dunya" and later the noblewoman Tanyanote . Matvey explains that his grandfather came to Arland almost a century ago, and just happens to be Vlad's compatriot from Russia. Tanya's ancestor has also most likely been a Russian and passed down the rule of naming firstborn daughters of the family this way.
    • Matvey's grandfather changed his name exactly for this reason when he entered the service of the Orkhet kingdom.
    • Vlad's sons are going to be called Anatoliy and Gerasim. Vlad's parents-in-law react according to the trope and suggest picking other names.
  • Absent-Minded Professor and Too Clever by Half: Kolar er Kilam, a runic mage and genius magic theoretician. His efforts to restore pre-Interregnum knowledge caused him to conflict with the Church and the Order of Sunset, Arland's largest and most powerful union of mercenary mages. Kolar has tried to reach the druids of the Closed Forest, but was taken prisoner, hauled to the Blighted Catacombs, his magic was broken and he was scheduled to be sacrificed. Kolar's luck turns as he's saved by Vlad, then in Belgor identifies Vlad as a potential mage and shows Vlad basic runic spells. Turns out that runic magic works by placing runes in spatial patterns and the forgotten pre-Interregnum knowledge contained at least Cartesian coordinates and fractions. Now Kolar has sworn loyalty to Vlad and pursues his dream to restore magic to it's former glory, gladly forgetting anything else.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Elven empire on the Ritum continent. During the Interregnum, the elves on Ritum accused all the other sentients of having caused the war and began a war of extinction against them. The sentients of Ritum were forced to retreat behind the Dragons' Ridge, an impassable range of mountains dividing Ritum broken by a single easily defended pass. The war on the Dragons' Ridge has not stopped until now, just lost in intensity.
    Shortly after the Interregnum, the elves of Ritum, forced to a standstill on the Dragons' Ridge, began a large-scale series of expeditions to the continent of Satum. They were met in battle by elves native on Satum; Satum's elves were supported by emerging human states, dwarven states and werebeast clans who were aware of the war on Ritum. The elven expeditions from Ritum were defeated. Now the elven empire of Ritum appears to have changed tactics, but not goals.
  • Achilles' Heel: Catacomb Lords are powerless during their procreation ritual and rely on secrecy and guard details.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: the Closed Forest where the druids dwell. Druids are descendants of the mages who didn't join any side during the Interregnum. They very rarely interfere in things outside of the Closed Forest, although recent events seem to have stirred them.
  • A God I Am Not: Vlad's Repressed Memories feature Hellaren and hint at Hellaren being a dweller of Asgard, but Hellaren declines the idea of divinity, claiming some relationship to the Ice Giants instead.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls are among the new races who appeared after the Interregnum. Large, nasty, hard to kill, possibly brought to Arland by the Fallen. Trolls inhabit the nameless archipelago off the north-eastern end of Satum and to the west of Baros island. Trolls are fully sentient, worship the Fallen and use tainted shamanic magic. Baros island has a permanent alliance with them, profiting from troll raider fleets and paying them mainly with human slaves.
  • Already Done for You: Vlad has learned of a tainted silver mine close to the Stoka village. Upon entering the mine, he finds most of the tainted and undead creatures already killed. Justified as the mine has very recently been taken over by a couple of Dark lodge mages who caught and magically enslaved three vampires and then ordered the vampires to make the mine habitable, i.e. to deal with everything that didn't instantly succumb to the Dark mages' control.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: goblins and trolls. Justified by being either artificially created by followers of the Fallen or deliberately transported to Arland by the Fallen himself during the Interregnum.
  • Amplifier Artifact:
    • Staff of the Dead, pre-Interregnum necromancer tool. Amplifies the abilities of a magister of necromancy to the level of a Lord of the Dead. Can be used by Death school mages to similar effect.
    • Chain of Elements. Another relict of the pre-Interregnum era, this artifact houses 4 elementals of the 4 primary schools. The elementals are bound to serve the artifact's owner, allowing to wield the primary schools at Lord tier power for as long as your mana allows. The elementals have been captive for more than 2000 years and used for various purposes, gaining unusual skills and a lot of knowledge.
  • Ancient Artifact: anything that survived the Interregnum probably counts, e.g. portals, King's Crowns and Chameleon items.
    • As the physical manifestations of the Destroyer and the Maker battled on Arland, their blood fell to the world. The Destroyer's blood caused blights and "blighted spots", tainted and corrupted sentients. The Maker's blood blessed the ground and the sentients. Small portions of the Maker's blood have been found and preserved, becoming powerful beacons of Light. Dark creatures can not approach them, and their proximity hurts servants of the Fallen.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Death personally visits the Stoka castle to inform Vlad about the fallout of his mission in Tariya. She manifests as a red-headed teenager girl and introduces herself as Hel.
  • Area of Effect: Trademark of powerful magic. Spells with this effect are rarely used in close quarters, but common on battlefields and during besieging or storming a castle. Swarming an area with numerous weak undead to find the opponents and opening up on the location with powerful spells regardless of Area of Effect and Splash Damage is a common tactic among Dark mages.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Common among royals, strongly dominated by political interests.
      • Vlad, upon learning of Orkhet V. becoming engaged to a princess of Miora, notes that king Biran of Miora has several daughters, and jokingly adds that there are currently more princesses available than unmarried kings and princes. Lady Loviya notes that among the princesses of Miora, Orkhet's bride was the best choice for him personally.
      • Rashid II of Ayra notes that many decades earlier Loviya, then a princess of Karosa, had several suitors, with him among them. While Rashid states that Loviya had the final word, all the suitors most likely had to be royals first. Loviya chose the king of Litiya, massively influencing Litiya's following history.
      • During the festive tourney in Diora, capital of Litiya, the engagement of Shator, heir-prince of Litiya, to Asmina, princess of Velariya, is announced as Love at First Sight. Darin, Shator's close friend, notes that the entire affair was arranged in a "civilized manner", i.e. both Shator and Asmina are effectively expected to produce a heir and also to have lovers for fun and pleasure.
      • Averted with Kert III. and Cheyta of Dekara. Kert, then a Hidden Backup Prince posing as a minor Borderlander baron, was wounded during a tourney and submitted to the care of the local Saint Auna's branch. Cheyta, the daughter of a minor noble, was assigned to Kert as a healer, and for them it was Love at First Sight. Vlad, learning their story and checking the personnel list of the nearest Saint Auna's branch, jokingly notes that Saint Auna's Order must have a long-standing policy of matching healers with patients, doubling as Arland's largest matchmaking facility.
    • Similarly common among nobles for equally political reasons. Werebeast clans have bigger marriage issues than other nobles due to following long-standing pedigree plans to ensure their survival as a Witch Species. Several notable Hunters and Rangers of noble and high-noble birth have left their families to avoid marriage.
      • Deconstructed with Arna "Black". Her clan's plans for Arna's future ended as she fell in love with a boy from another clan. Her refusal to submit to marriage within the clan ended with her beloved's murder and Arna's duel with the murderer. Arna was exiled and is technically a renegade by clan law.
      • Glavk "Bear" has married according to his clan's plans, fathered 3 children as required by clan law, then got divorced on amiable terms and left the clan for Belgor.
      • Yag "Axe" left his family to avoid an arranged marriage.
    • Nobles are rumored to force their vassals or serfs to marry their mistresses, especially upon pregnancy, to prevent inheritance issues.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Vlad's duel with prince Djayd of Ayra is interrupted by a team of Gray Order's assassins. Vlad proceeds to dispatch the assassins, although taking several lethal wounds in the process. Luckily, there are a Life and a Death mage of Lord tier present, who save Vlad's life.
  • An Axe to Grind: common weapon family on Arland:
    • Vlad usually carries 2-4 throwing axes on his back when fully geared for battle.
    • Master blacksmith Dorn is a retired master Hunter. His byname, earned by his Weapon of Choice, is "Pole-axe". Dorn uses a small pole-axe sign as a signature on his wares.
    • Master Hunter Yag "Axe" earned his byname in the same fashion.
  • Badass Princess:
    • Aliana el Chanor, adopted princess of Melor. Master of the Life school with Combat Medic and Femme Fatale training.
    • Kenara el Laynistina, Lady of the Ferns' House. Life Lady with the appropriate Combat Medic skills.
    • Arna "Black", heiress to the Black Wolf totem clan. Black werewolf and Master Hunter. Currently a renegade to said totem clan, though.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: zig-zagged, compare the Dark Is Not Evil entry. Some notable mages among the Hunters, the Rangers and the Joker school use elements generally seen as dark. Kont "Sticky", second-in-command of the Rangers, is a Blood Master, Evdokiya el Tori er Joker is a Death Lady, Master Hunter Dils "Gloomy" is a Death Lord, Shedar er Joker of the Lynx clan is a Death Master, Ol't er Joker a Necromancy Master. The Hunters and the Rangers, later in the novels the Joker school, are well-known for accepting mages regardless of their element.
  • Bag of Holding: rare artifacts known as "Traveler's Sacks". While most likely invented before the Interregnum, this technology survived within the runic magic schools on the Kilam island. Kolar er Kilam expressed his gratitude by crafting such a Traveler's Sack for Vlad.
  • Bears Are Bad News: averted. The Bear is one of the surviving werebeast totems, and Bear werebeasts from both the Cave and the Forest clan are almost without exception warriors of some fashion. Bear clans' members are regardless of gender large, tall, covered in muscles and universally expected to be The Big Guy, e.g. master Hunter Glavk "Bear".
  • Beast of Battle and Sapient Steed: Drakes were created to replace horses on the battlefield, and this part of the task went right - drakes are stronger, faster, hard to kill, fearless, protected by scales harder than steel, naturally resistant to magic, have sharp horns, a spiked bone club at the tip of the tail, sharp hooves and impressive fanged jaws. The downside is that drakes are in the wild aggressive herd predators, don't breed fertile offspring in captivity, and are sapient empaths who upon hatching from the egg form a lifelong bond with the first person they imprint at. If the imprinting misfires, a drake will turn against the imprintee or commit suicide; drakes will die with their imprintees or commit suicide if they failed to protect the imprintee.
    • Life mages can control the hatching process and influence or postpone the imprinting. As a cargo of drake eggs is about to be delivered to Keyt "Tenacious", master Hunter and Life Lord in Belgor, a single egg breaks and the emerging baby drake successfully imprints on Vlad.
  • The Beforetimes: the time before the Interregnum, roughly 1500-2000 years ago. Mostly invoked when speaking of Nirum, the continent destroyed during the Interregnum. The Kilam island and the Wild Island are the largest remnants of this continent.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Insulting the ears for elves. The suggestion that an elven woman uses her ears during intercourse is met with an instant challenge to a Duel to the Death.
    • There is a specific insult in the elven culture on, roughly translated as "I have shat on the graves of all your ancestors!". Elves of Ritum will instantly attack after hearing this, regardless of circumstances, even without a formal challenge.
    • The events during the rescue of the She-Wolves for Vlad afterwards. Vlad's sense of guilt and loss push him into a state of Tranquil Fury, triggering his Ice Overlord abilities.
    • During a duel, a young noble from Narina calls Arna "Black" a whore and claims that she enters the Blighted Catacombs to sleep with the undead for satisfaction. Matvey reacts with: "He could have died painlessly", while Arna proceeds to inflict several wounds on the hapless noble and twist her blades each time.
    • Endangering Vlad or Matvey in Dunya's presence after she started learning magic. Dunya tends to react with Lord tier Area of Effect Death school spells.
    • Downplayed with Borderlander baron Sheyk el Loran. Vlad describes Sheyk as seeking violence on the slightest hint of a provocation, but actually smart behind the facade.
    • Zig-zagged with dwarves: while the more orthodox will take offense at being called "short" or anything in that vein, those who live and work among humans react merely slightly annoyed and address humans as "lanky" for the conversation.
  • Big Book of War:
    • "Warrior's Codex" of the Wild Island. Strongly favors Honor Before Reason.
    • "First Strike's Power" by Solar from Koriya, a Fire Lord. Mainly dealing with tactics and strategies of magic in battle. Strongly advocates the idea of a single decisive burst of violence.
    • "Power of Weakness" by Karel "Smart", Mind school mage and Hunter. Written as a response and critique to Solar's "First Strike's Power". Advocates the philosophy of finding and exploiting weaknesses instead of relying on pure raw power and brute force.
  • Black and White Morality: the Destroyer (black) and the Maker (white), who also personify the egoism of individual power and the altruism of communal responsibility respectively, posing more than a few issues for a strongly hierarchical society.
  • Black Magic: averted with Blood and Death magic, Demonology and Necromancy. These schools are strongly prejudiced against, but can be used for good reasons. As Father Aner, Bishop of Belgor, says, it's really important who you're fighting against, not how. However, the taint and the power of the Fallen fit this trope fully. Granted by the Religion of Evil, costing souls, focused through suffering, pain and Human Sacrifice and used to inflict pain, suffering, curses, disfigurement and (un)death.
  • The Blacksmith: Common job on Arland among humans and dwarves. Belgor, being the residence of the Hunters' Guild, has very strict rules for opening shop there. Blacksmiths have to offer their wares themselves, and can be put on trial if their wares fail in combat. After an item passes quality control by the Guild, a temporary license is issued. Licenses expire if the blacksmith fails to sell at least one item for a year. Selling faultless goods for five years grants the right to open a stall. Twenty years of faultless work grant the right to set up a house, a shop and a personal forge. At Vlad's arrival in Belgor, there are only four personal shops in Belgor. Merchants export large amounts of weapons from Belgor, as even a temporary license of the Guild drastically increase the demand for a smith's wares.
    • Vlad befriends Kerin, a remote relative of the master blacksmith Dorn. Kerin left the clan's settlement for Belgor after claiming that he has nothing more to learn at home. Those claims seem justified, as with hints from Vlad and old steel taken from various undead in the Blight, Kerin re-discovered the technology to produce bulat, a superior variety of damascene steel.
  • Blade on a Stick:
    • Net "Spear", a master Hunter named after his trademark polearm weapons. Net "Spear" is a rarity among Hunters, as polearms are rarely used in the narrow rooms and corridors of the Blighted Catacombs.
    • Shortly after his arrival in the Stoka village, Vlad challenges another Borderlands' baron, el Ronst, to a duel. As baron el Ronst is a master fencer with a heavy zweihander sword, Vlad chooses a halberd. Vlad chops the axe blade into his opponent's leg, then rams the spear blade into the opponent's crotch, then sinks the tooth blade into the opponent's chest as said opponent lies on the ground, and finishes the duel by planting the halberd's bottom bayonet into the ground through the opponent's helmet and head.
  • Blood Knight: Subverted with the Borderlander barons. When facing a choice between killing an enemy now, letting one enemy go to ambush many or letting the enemies go to have them end up in a third-party ambush, most Borderlanders opt for the third-party ambush.
  • Blood Magic: Blood is the secondary school using Earth and Water. Kolar handles this as a profound revelation, yielding a mere: "Really understandable. Water in the human body and the elements composing the body. That's easy." from Vlad. Blood mages are rather rare, as adding the General school would move a mage to the less controversial and far better accepted Mind school. Blood mages, together with Death mages and Necromancers, very often suffer from prejudice.
  • Blow You Away: the primary Air school and the secondary Hurricane school. Better-equipped fleets or even single ships will have an Air mage plying his trade on board.
  • Blue Blood: Nobles use the article "el" with the name of the property as part of the title. For example, the Hunters' guild-master is addressed as Kar, duke el Raysa, but insists to be called Guild-master Kar "Volcano" instead. Vlad notes that nobles are plenty and titles rather common among Hunters; Hunters are proud to Earn Your Title and will only use hereditary titles when absolutely required by etiquette.
  • Body Double: employed by the Melor kingdom for princess Aliana. Vlad's very careful investigations showed that the double has a beauty mark on her belly. Subsequent interrogations reveal that the alleged beauty mark is an irremovable spell designed to kill the double if she ever attempts to remove it for impersonating the princess.
  • Bodyguard Babes: after the Lynx clan swore loyalty to Vlad, several of the clan's female warriors appointed themselves Vlad's bodyguards, possibly aiming at having his children. Vlad nicknames them "Lady-Cats" and includes them in his It's Not You, It's My Enemies considerations, carefully avoiding falling for any of them.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Runic mages are mostly limited to enchanting and siegecraft, since any given runic spell works by imagining or actually making a spatial pattern of runes and lines between them. Since the pattern simultaneously contains all the properties of the spell, i.e. elements, effect, power, direction, duration etc., runic mages are nigh incapable of hitting mobile targets, as a targeting adjustment requires the mage to imagine the runic pattern from scratch in the new alignment. Vlad teaches Kolar everything he remembers from mathematics: fractions, systems of equations, Cartesian coordinates and Euclidian space, and adds something from mnemonics, e.g. the usage of associative markers. This allows Vlad and Kolar to advance the runic style close to pre-Interregnum levels.
  • Brainwashed: Common effect of the Mind school. Can range from making city guards ignore a suspicious carriage to having royal guards turn on the royal in question during an assassination attempt. Properly Paranoid people employ enough Mind mages to regularly screen their organizations for signs of hostile Mind mages' actions.
    • During an attempt at the life of Djayd of Ayra in Litiya, the Gray Order team brainwashed some of the royal guards right after their scheduled screening to use them on the next day.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons breath fire. Only effective defense against dragon fire is being out of range, preferably deep underground.
  • Burn the Witch!: common form of execution all over Arland. As a hidden act of mercy, the criminal may be quickly killed beforehand, then the corpse burned for the show.
  • The Butcher: Ol the Butcher, survivor of a Dark lodge from the Miora kingdom who took refuge in the Blighted Catacombs.
  • Chainmail Bikini: averted.
    • Vlad lampshades the lack of "armored wonderbras" as Arna "Black" is engaged in a duel.
    • Warrior clans from the Wild Island are unusual on Arland since their women and men have equal rights in all matters of the clan. All adults fight for the clan, and all are sensibly armored.
    • Kenor and Laera, prince and princess of Riara, are both wearing full armor during an attack on their palace.
  • Choice of Two Weapons: Common skill on Arland, as weaponry and weapon use are very close to Middle Ages on Earth. Required skill among Hunters and Rangers. As an example, Vlad usually carries a couple of asymmetric swords, a dozen of throwing knives in a harness, two light throwing axes, a dagger and a combat knife, using magic to both work at range and pack more punch into his comparatively light blades.
  • Church Militant: the Order of the Maker's Hand, one of the orders of the Arland church. Commonly referred to as "paladins" or derogatorily as "handies".
    • The clerics of Belgor, due to the city's unique status and the proximity of the Blight, are all proficient warriors.
    • Saint Irdis' Order is technically tasked with preaching and political issues, e.g. serving as clerical courtiers. Joining this order requires to have completed some sort of military carreer, though. And the branches are with rare exceptions located on the Ritum continent and involved in the war against the elven empire of Ritum.
  • Citadel City: any city to some extent, depending on the paranoia level of the rulers.
    • Belgor, founded to house the Hunters and stand against the Blight.
    • The harbor of Baros, justified as the single available landing point on the entire island. The island itself is described as a natural fortress, and the Properly Paranoid ruler Kriy has done everything to fortify that single weak point.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: According to Kolar, this is the source of the clerical magic.
  • Code Name: Vlad and his subordinates have used code names or made-up military titles for some missions. Justified with "Vlad" being a rare name. Justified for Vlad's lieutenants of the Lynx clan, who have changed their names due to their clan's traditions and are now called Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth. While Lynx clan's members are otherwise indistinguishable from natives of Satum, Vlad correctly assumes that their behavior and names could give him away.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Among the powers granted by the Fallen are creation and usage of Gems of Pain. Gems of Pain are mana storage units created by slowly and painfully killing hundreds of sentients. The desecrated bodies will then be fed to undead and monsters which don't mind consuming dead soulless husks.
  • Combat Medic: Water, Blood and Life mages can use healing spells, but also have considerable combat potential. The effectiveness in both roles greatly varies with the mage's presonality and education.
    • Mother Superior Erita of Saint Auna's branch in the Artua county is a retired Dragons' Ridge Chasseur from Ritum. Originally a Magic Knight, she left the Chasseurs and became a healer after a traumatic experience in battle.
    • Blood Lady Dara of the Red Caves, Master Ranger Blood mage Kont "Sticky" and Life Lady Kenara el Laynistina are all more capable as battle-mages than as healers.
    • Aliana el Chanor, adopted princess of Melor, is more capable as healer and alchemist than as battle-mage. This most likely originates in the circumstances of her adoption and details of her upbringing.
    • Master Hunter Life Lord Cheyt "Tenacious" is rather a healer than a fighter. Justified as Cheyt was a professor at a magical university and joined the Hunters to fund his research.
  • Combat Pragmatist: motto of the Hunters and Rangers. They are painfully aware of the tainted and blighted nature of their enemies and consider Honor Before Reason a dangerous fallacy. Let's Fight Like Gentlemen is considered an insult, and special rules were added to the dueling codex of the Orkhet kingdom to reduce the losses among nobles from duels with Hunters.
    • Vlad fondly remembers his close-quarters combat instructor form the Russian army, quoting: "What are you doing with the properly executed high kicks? Trying to arouse the enemy with the sight of your testicles? Kick him in the shins instead!"
    • As a group of young nobles insult Dunya in Matvey's inn, they expect Vlad to challenge them. Vlad, unaware of the dueling codex and appropriate laws, proceeds to beat the nobles up, using "dirty" moves to make sure that those who go down stay down.
    • During his first duel in Belgor, Vlad closes in on his heavily armored sword-swinging opponent, punches him with a buckler, tackles him to the ground and finishes the duel with a dagger through the helmet's visor. As the nobles stare in shock, Hunters approvingly congratulate Vlad.
  • Common Tongue: According to the clerical doctrine, all races and nations on Arland share the language given to them by the Maker. Priests assigned to the "blighted spots" are also responsible for imprinting the Common Tongue on people appearing there.
    • Elves, goblins and trolls have completely independent languages. While the goblins and trolls could be explained as introduced to Arland by the Destroyer during the Interregnum, the elven language means that the clerical version of Arland's history has been manipulated or censored.
    • The Common Tongue grafted onto Vlad by Father Estor works by mapping the Arlandian to Russian and vice versa in his head and in his speech. This has the side effect of Vlad hearing noble titles and understanding them by association, e.g. the monarchs of the northern states become kings, princes and dukes while the rulers of the southern states, e.g. Ayra and the White State, become a sultan and a khalif respectively.
  • Cool Gate: intact pre-Interregnum portals, if you can activate them. The Scarlet Order can and has connected all portals they could access into a Portal Network.
  • Cool Old Lady: Lady Loviya, Grandmother Queen of Litiya, born princess of Karosa, who became queen by Arranged Marriage to the king of Litiya. As nobles of Litiya rebelled, Loviya lost her husband, two sons and only daughter in the civil war. The only other royal survivor was her 5-year-old grandson Sonad. Queen Loviya took command of the armies and nobles loyal to the dynasty. For two months, Litiya was covered in blood. Loviya reclaimed the throne, exterminated the rebellious noble houses and ruled the country until Sonad came of age. After she retired to a monastery, another rebellion began. Loviya returned to the country to deal with the rebels again. While technically retired, Lady Loviya is a political force in her own right now. She is deeply worried about her grandson's and grand-grandson's future, though.
  • Corrupt Church: the Order of the Maker's Servants, according to Vlad the closest thing to inquisition on Arland, is engaged in plays for power both within the Church and outside it. Vlad is slightly shocked to find Servants collaborating with actual Dark lodges in Tariya.
    • During the battle in the Red Caves, Vlad observed Servants to use Light-infused magic instead of the pure power of the Maker. According to Bishop Aner of Belgor, usage of this magic is a heresy. Power struggles within the Church regarding this power have contributed to the beginning of the Interregnum some 1500 years ago.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Vlad as all Xenos before him. Unknown to Vlad, his arrival on Arland has matched a true prophecy. Vlad becoming a Hunter, the kidnapping and rescue of the She-Wolves, Aliana's quest in the Borderlands, Kenara's life and death with Vlad, and most recently the events in Tariya are all part of Arland's reaction to the Xenos. Vlad has figured out that he's always becoming a catalyst of events. Once a year something happens, and Vlad's actions tip some long-standing conflict from "cold war" into full-scale action.
    • Vlad's becoming a Hunter and the duels in Belgor effectively destroyed the labile equilibrium of power and corruption in the Narina kingdom.
    • The kidnapping and rescue of the She-Wolves caused the deaths of 6 Catacomb Lords, also triggering conflicts within the church.
    • Aliana's quest has unearthed the last surviving Kings' Crown and started the integration of vampire clans with the church.
    • Kenara's death caused a fission between elven houses of Ritum and caused a (very carefully hidden) paradigm shift among the druids.
    • The events in Tariya have unlocked the pre-Interregnum waterways on Satum and partially broken the isolation of the dragons.
  • Costume Porn: descriptions of armor and weapons. Shown Their Work, as Igor' Dravin compiled the references into a separate book. Includes military tactics in later novels, with footnotes about historical battles, sieges and tourneys.
  • Creature Hunter Organization: The Hunters' Guild, dedicated to fighting the creatures of the Fallen emerging from the Blighted Catacombs and the Fallen's human worshippers.
  • Creepy Good: Master Hunter and Death Lord Dils "Gloomy". After destroying a new type of a Dark creature, Dils suggested raising the corpse as a zombie and have it walk to the Hunters' lab itself. Dils also routinely patrols the Blight for undead hordes, necromancers and Death mages from Dark lodges to destroy the former and kill the later.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • A trademark of the Druids from the Closed Forest is a mutated bindweed used for executions. The bindweed seed is placed on the living body, takes root and grows to maturity in several hours, using the living body as host and substrate. The victim is kept alive, conscious and in debilitating pain until the bindweed blossoms.
    • The common Ice Blades spell takes a nasty turn when used by an Ice Overlord: the smallest cut on the flesh will start a frozen spot which then grows through the body to leave a frozen statue behind.
    • When the Dark lodges decide to make a point, the offender is placed somewhere public, has his arms and legs broken, is eviscerated and an enchanted scepter is planted in the ground through the living body. The resulting artifact serves as a Dark energy beacon while keeping the victim alive, conscious and in debilitating pain until their entire flesh has rotten to dust. The ritual actually uses more power than it produces later and can only be performed on Dark cultists or collaborators; thus it is used solely as an execution by torture.
    • The Dark beacon ritual is actually surpassed in terms of cruelty if a follower of the Fallen is executed with Maker's Blood. As Vlad notes that the Maker is supposed to be merciful, Khoriner points out that the effect of Maker's Blood on tainted sentients is a law of nature.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: the Church on Arland. Compared to Christianity, the Creator is God, the Maker close to Jesus and the Destroyer obviously Satan. The structure of the Church and the orders within are similar to the catholic church, but the presence of magic and the manifest powers of the Creator and the Destroyer make clerical life interesting at least.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • Element Fusion ritual. A very old, at least pre-Interregnum, technique which allowed a mage to gain control of Lord-tier abilities. The inherent danger is loosing your personality to the element and becoming an elemental. Earth mages would calcinate and become a stone statue, Water mages dissolve themselves in the nearest body of water, Air mages simply become wind, and Fire mages become a living firestorm until put down. The technique became obsolete after the discovery of safe ways to summon elementals for the same purpose, and is effectively forbidden by most modern schools. According to Ice Lord Ins "Ice", his very backwater and very isolated native tribe's Ice mages still use it, as an improper Element Fusion with Ice isn't immediately lethal.
    • Doppelgänger spell, used by Saint Auna's Order. While most people think "Kill and Replace" when the spell is mentioned, Saint Auna's Order investigated the effects of a doppelganger on the living original. They found out that the spell does not only replicate the body, but also establishes an empathic connection. The connection is one-way, slowly funneling the darkest parts of the personality from original to doppelganger. While the doppelgangers were successfully used to treat mental disorders, the potential of abuse and the questionable ethics of creating disposable sapient life finally led to a ban on the technique. Highest-ranking members of Saint Auna's Order are introduced to doppelganger spell theory after promotion.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Played straight with mages of the Blood, Death, Necromancy and Demonology schools - their affiliations and actions depend on personality and history and aren't solely defined by their powers. The Rangers' second-in-command is a Blood mage, Matvey's daughter Dunya, Shedar of the Lynx clan and master Hunter Dils "Gloomy" are Death mages, Ol't er Joker from the Artua county is a necromancer, but they all work against the forces of the Fallen. Secret service units across Arland employ necromancers as well.
    • Played straight with the vampire species. They drink blood, but don't serve the Fallen. And since a Dark mage tried to enslave a clan wholesale, said clan joined the Borderlanders and got approved by the Church.
    • Averted with the taint of the Fallen. Serving the Fallen is a quick way to power, wealth and status as long as you don't mind sacrificing fellow sentients and damning your own soul forever. And in case you dismiss the whole thing as Church propaganda - ask a Lord of the Dead (necromancer archmage); they can actually check on souls of the departed.
  • The Dead Have Names: the main distinction between the Hunters, Rangers, Maker's Hands, Chaussers, Council of Loyals, Lord's Hounds and night guilds on one hand and the Gray Order, the Sunset Order, Maker's Servants and Dark lodges on the other hand. In their desire for money (Gray Order), power (Sunset Order), fanatical dominance (Maker's Servants) or any combination thereof (Dark lodges) these groups exhibit total disregard for both sentient life and afterlife. Khoriner of the Lord's Hounds confesses that to complete his undercover mission in Tariya, he has played the role of a Dark cultist too well. The confession ends with: "I sacrificed 53 other sentients to the Fallen personally, and ordered 87 more to be sacrificed. I remember every one of them, every face, their pain and their hate."
  • Deadly Decadent Court:
    • As king Eran of Dekara took a new mistress called Al'sa, the court turned into this. As the queen died, allegedly poisoned, and the king married his mistress, she began gathering riches, allies and power. Queen Al'sa arranged for several key persons to either retire or be removed, including Dekara's commander-in-chief (retired), chancellor (killed) and head of secret service (killed). The rule of queen Al'sa culminates in the civil war in Dekara. Many events before, during and after the civil war bear the signature of a foreign influence, showing that another power is working against the kingdom.
    • The Ayra sultanate's court is dominated by the sultan's 4 wives. Since they all have at least one son suitable to inherit the throne, the court has descended into a tangle of intrigues and conspiracies, culminating in fratricide.
  • Deal with the Devil: modus operandi of Dark lodges. Worship of the Fallen offers a quick way to power, riches, influence and various benefits. Nork, master assassin from Baros island, initially accepted a little help to avenge his family and then gradually became a Dark battle-mage.
  • Death Ray: a pre-Interregnum artifact recovered from the Black Temple several centuries ago. A small and easily concealed wand that works by "point at person, activate, watch them suffer an apparently natural, but lethal hearth attack". The artifact's first user exhibited exceptional wisdom and political skill by founding a new country and starting a new royal dynasty. The country is Litiya. The artifact has remained in the possession of the dynasty. It has been used massively by Lady Loviya during the civil war in Litiya.
  • Dem Bones: Decayed corpses taken by the power of the Fallen may rise as weak undead, commonly known as skeletons. Their power varies with the level of taint around them. Old skeletons evolve into skeleton warriors. Various servants of the Fallen can turn warriors into skeleton knights, increasing speed, strength and martial skill and granting them basic magic skills. Skeleton knights evolve into skeleton mages after killing a certain amount of sentients, gaining taint-amplified basic spells, but loosing melee skills. A skeleton mage can be turned into a skeleton Lord. Skeleton Lords are strong mages providing local control for lower ranked skeletons, vastly increasing the combat potential of skeleton units.
  • Detect Evil: priests capable of clerical magic can perform a spell called "Test of loyalty to the Maker". The basic version tests the recent motivations and emotions of the person. The amplified version of the spell includes an in-depth memory scan, involving older motivations, deeds and private knowledge. The strongest version, known as "Complete test of loyalty to the Maker", includes a full memory scan. The Order of Maker's Servants (Arland's inquisition) uses this effect of the amplified spell to gather political and financial secrets etc.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: the Earth primary school and the Sandstorm secondary school. Very common among dwarves. Vlad notes that the best dwarven smiths are to some extent Earth mages.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: both the Hunters' and the Rangers' Guilds are willing and capable of fighting entire countries to protect or at least avenge their members and the members' families.
    • A Hunter seeking to obtain a plot of land to retire left his wife, son and daughter at an inn as he visited the required bureaucrats. A group of young noblemen happened to visit the inn and demanded the pretty young girl to "service" them. As Hunters and their families are exempt from serf laws, the family declined. The noblemen raped the girl and killed both her brother and mother. The Hunter beat the truth out of the inn-keeper, but was arrested and hanged under the pretense of assaulting the prince during an audience. The Hunters' Guild responded by taking the city by storm and slaughtering the families of the responsible nobles, including the royal family who had denied to investigate the case properly. This event became proverbial as the Slaughtering of Seren.
    • A Ranger, accompanied by an elven Life Lady (Life school archmagess, master healer) who carries a debt of life to the Ranger, and some loyal troops happens to save a coven of elven summoners from the House of Swords and their guard detail, including the heir of the House, from a band of desert spirits the summoners have lost control of. The Ranger's unit dispatches the spirits and the Life Lady patches the elves up. During the following night, the Swords, led by their prince, assault the Ranger and his troops, mortally wounding the elven magess. As she lays dying, her final wish is to marry the Ranger to repay at least a part of her debt. The Rangers' Guild recognizes the marriage as valid retroactively and calls for revenge to reinforce the lesson of Seren, lest someone decides that the Guilds no longer care. The Ranger forces assault the city-forest Siluien of Swords, capture the head of the House and his family, kill all armed Swords and take unarmed women and children captive. The head of the House calmly accepts the execution awaiting him and his sons, but asks the Ranger to spare his wife and daughter from the scenes of plundering and raping he believes to follow suit. The Ranger asks the elven lady if she is willing to go free and unharmed in exchange for the women and children of the clan, and the elven lady agrees. Saiana, the elven princess, now faces the same choice, but she asks the Ranger to let any innocent elven girl go in her place, willing to submit herself to the destiny awaiting the captive elves. Surprised by Saiana's decision, the Ranger has the head of the House, his wife and both sons executed, but orders the captives released on a single condition: Saiana has to join Saint Auna's Order for five years. She agrees, ending her House, since by elven traditions Saiana sheds her bloodline with her oath to Saint Auna. This event becomes known as the Slaughtering of Siluien. The Ranger is Vlad, the Life Lady is Kenara.
  • Dissonant Serenity: the side effect of the legendary Ice Overlord power. While Ice mages are somewhat more likely to enter the Tranquil Fury state, coming closer to the Ice changes them. According to legends, Ice Overlord Hellaren lost all emotions when drawing upon the Ice in battle, and this is likely to happen to any other Ice Overlord.
  • The Don: Guild-Masters of the night guilds, i.e. thieves' and assassins' guilds, usually fit the role. At least one of them stated aiding the Hunters and the Church falls under Evil Versus Oblivion conditions.
  • Don't Fear The Reaper: as Death visits the Stoka castle, she does so to inform Vlad that the results of his mission in Tariya caused some entity to break the "Covenant" in an attempt at his life. Death negates the attack and the immediate second attack against Vlad and does something apparently lethal to the attackers. Then she informs Vlad that while there's a place reserved for him in Niflheim, she will only accept Vlad's death by the rules and is rather keen to see his story unfold.
  • Doom Magnet: After the kidnapping of the She-Wolves, Vlad correctly deduces that it's his involvement in lives of others which actively endangers them, e.g. by focusing the attention of Dark lodges. Unknown to Vlad, this has happened to all Xenos before. Father Estor describes the effect as Arland itself testing the Xenos, both rewarding and punishing them for their actions.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Prince Kriy of Baros to the Fallen. Kriy is the priest-king of the Religion of Evil and is supposed to work solely to advance the Fallen's return. Surprisingly, Kriy is known to consolidate his personal power. His emissaries have been involved in the destruction of Dark lodges which refused to accept his control. At a guess, Kriy is well aware of both his and the world's fate in the case of said return and would likely prefer the current status quo. Kriy is a Xenos who left the USSR sometimes during Stalin's reign, likely a communist who supported Stalin before Stalin decimated the old communists. His hesitations to usher in his own demise by invoking the second incarnation of the Big Bad are understandably Genre Savvy.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: the effect of the Genetic Memory on the Istrin bloodline.
  • Droit du Seigneur: offered to Vlad by the Stoka village's resident healer. Vlad declined; she lost Vlad's respect afterwards.
  • Dual Wielding: Most nobles carry a variation of "sword & dagger" as part of their appropriate attire. Justified by frequent duels and the basic etiquette of not carrying shields or heavy two-handed weapons on formal occasions.
    • MagicKnights using the gestic or verbal-gestic casting style (which is the fastest and hence most common in combat) often switch between Dual Wielding and the Sword and Spell approach.
    • Hunters, Rangers and Borderlanders differ by preferred weapons. MagicKnights among them fight as described above, those without magic often carry something heavy and two-handed instead, due to often dealing with undead, mutated or tainted opponents.
  • Duel to the Death: Only practiced between male nobles. Duels are fought either by steel or by steel and magic. Challenged party chooses the rules. Duels to the blood are possible, but rare. Insults involving family, clan, state or allegiance nearly always result in this trope. Insults to women and children result in duels with next of kin. Proxy fighters are acceptable in some cases, but seen as dishonorable. To prevent a Cycle of Revenge, relatives killed in a proper duel are exempt from vendetta traditions.
    • As a group of 7 young nobles from Narina challenge Vlad, he kills the first one and invokes the substitute rule. By this rule, if there are fewer challenged than challengers, the challenged may call for volunteers to join them. Since this happens in Belgor and the fight in Matvey's inn, which led to the challenge, already made city rumors, several master Hunters step in. Five dead young nobles and one breach of the dueling codex ensued.
    • During his mission in Litiya Vlad and fellow Hunters Rens and Ley provoked three elves into challenging them. Three dead elves ensued.
    • After Vlad's arrival in his lands of the Stoka barony, Vlad learned that a neighbor baron was attempting a hostile takeover of his barony. Upon confrontation with said baron, Vlad uses his opponent's slip of the tongue to challenge him. One dead baron el Ronst, one breach of the dueling codex, another dead baron el Ronst (middle brother to the first one) and an attack on the Stoka village by supporters of el Ronst ensued.
    • During a tourney in Vlad's Artua county, a hired assassin Plasma Lord arrives during sunset and challenges any mage of the county's magical school. Vlad simply declares the tourney's end, officially drops the referee's cloak and takes the challenge. One "Ice Hammer" spell and one dead Plasma Lord follow.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Vlad's preferred modus operandi, as stated: "I've laid siege to a castle by the book once, and didn't like it. I've been in a battle fought by the book once, and didn't like it at all. Find the person responsible, sneak past wards and guards and stick one dagger into just one body - that's always better."
  • Elemental Baggage: averted. Some schools, e.g. Sandstorm and Hurricane, can only be used in appropriate areas. Fire, Air and their combination, Plasma, are popular due to not having the problem. Life mages are at their strongest in a dense forest and weakened in a desert. Death mages and Necromancers are weak unless sentients very recently died or very regularly came to rest in the area; they are drastically empowered by large losses of life, e.g. on graveyards, on battlefields or during sieges. Vlad is aware that some Water and Ice spells will use his body for materials if the air humidity becomes too low.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The schools of the four classical elements also allow to summon elementals. Those are not too bright, but extremely powerful. Skilled mages enhance the summoning with a telepathic link between summoner and elemental.
  • Elemental Powers: The four classical elements, Water, Fire, Earth and Air, are commonly described as primary. According to Kolar er Kilam, a genius theoretician of magic, Life, Death, Light and Darkness are also primary, although the Church regards describing clerics as mages a heresy. Kolar most likely has a point, though, since servants and creatures of the Fallen can use dark-tainted spells. Clerics from the Order of the Maker's Servants (Arland's inquisition) have used pure Light and Light-enhanced against humans, while this power supposedly only works against the power of the Fallen.
    • Spells powered mainly by any single element are primary spells, and schools of such spells are primary schools. It is possible to develop new spells powered by multiple elements, thus founding a new school. Notably, the same combination of elements may yield multiple different schools. Some of those schools: Earth + Fire = Magma; Air + Water = Ice; Air + Water = Hurricane; Air + Water = Fog; Air + Fire = Plasma; Air + Earth = Sandstorm; Earth + Water = Blood. The most notable tertiary school is Blood + General = Mind; the most notable fourth degree school is Earth + Death + Mind = Necromancy. According to Kolar, even fifth degree schools exist.
  • Elite Army: the Black Dragon clan of the Wild Island. The Black Dragons are non-hereditary and exceptional warriors are accepted into the clan based on their prowess.
    • While neither the Hunters nor the Rangers are defined as an army, they fit the description when engaged in military operations.
  • Epic Flail: Vlad, preparing to enter the Blight for the first time, is looking for a weapon most likely to disable a skeleton or a basic zombie with the first strike. As master blacksmith Dorn suggests a heavy bladed polearm, Vlad asks about a club on a chain instead. Dorn reacts with some amusement: "A flail, but I don't have one and don't know of another smith who'd have one to sell right now." This causes Kerin, who was previously browsing Dorn's wares, to interrupt them, and offer Vlad a flail he made just to stand out from Belgor's smiths. While a no-name in Belgor, Kerin turns out to be as good as he claimed, and will become Vlad's best friend among the dwarven smiths.
    • The flail's description and comments from Vlad:
      A not too large black handle, about thirty centimeters. A guard about ten centimeters from the end of the handle, a cap with a ring at the other end of the handle. A thin chain and a small diamond-shaped flail, three by six by eight centimeters. Doesn't look like it, but weights a couple of kilograms. Surprisingly, the weight of this tool, a tool to brain your fellow sentients, is concentrated in the flail, the handle and chain weigh next to nothing. Physics come to mind, with the whole business of momentum, leverage and other stuff, and the physics say that a device with the entire weight concentrated at the point of impact achieves the maximal effect. Other melee weapons pale with envy.
      The chain links are made from double-layered cold-wrought steel, combining hard and soft steel to achieve this pinnacle of medieval metallurgy and weaponsmithing. The handle is made of black-wood, and the flail filled with lead and temmnote . Dorn asks about seams in the flail, and Kerin responds that he, with some difficulties, forged the flail shell in one piece. This demands respect. Forging a shell that normally has to be cast or welded - that's not "with some difficulties", that's ... (Vlad thinks something expletive). Kerin proceeds to show a last resort, pressing a hidden lever on the handle. A 25-centimeter bayonet blade emerges from the handle's bottom end, and retreats into the handle after using the same lever.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
  • Exposition Beam: Mind mages can both read and write compressed memories from and to others at the rather small cost of head aches. Obviously used for briefings and debriefings.
  • False Flag Operation: common on Arland, most often by "unidentified mercenaries".
    • Vlad has led a mercenary company who just "happened" to wander along the Litiya-Karosa border in an assault on a fugitive Dark lodge member's castle in Karosa to bring evidence to Litiya.
    • Vlad has led his subjects in the raids on the el Trita and el Buera castles without fielding either the el Stoka or the el Artua flags. Notable similarities between these raids and the Slaughtering of Siluien allowed Lady Loviya to correctly deduce that Vlad "Lightning" has led them all under different names.
    • Vlad points out that the entire civil war of Dekara was likely funded from outside in an attempt to take Dekara over by either dynasty breakdown or dynasty shift with a following merger by royal marriage. The most obvious part was a company of elven "mercenary" archers joining the rebels.note 
    • After the battle in the Red Caves Vlad begins plotting an indirect attack on the Merchants' Guild of the Krays Island and on the Order of Sunset, a prominent organization of mercenary mages. Since these groups rely on financial power and magical skill, Vlad plans a magical and financial operation. note 
  • Famed in Story:
    • Vlad "Lightning" and the master Hunters who rescued the She-Wolves became living legends on Arland.
    • Dalv "Jester" led an expedition, including a Fire Lord and a powerful cleric from the Melor kingdom, to recover a legendary artifact from the lair of a bkhut, an archdemon shapeshifter, killing said bkhut in the process. Due to the expedition's mission and the artifact being state secrets, Dalv "Jester" became famed for besting the bkhut and plundering the lair on his own.
    • Vlad baron el Stoka, count el Artua, earned the title "Death of the Goblins" after a goblin tribe laid siege to the Stoka castle and was destroyed by warriors and mages of the Artua county.
    • A heavily edited story of a master Ranger's relationship with an elven Life Lady, her death and the following Slaughtering of Siluien becomes another legend to rival the story of the Hunters' Guild and their Slaughtering of Seren. The master Ranger was Dalv "Jester", the Life Lady was Kenara.
    • The Gray Order has declined contracts to assassinate the guild-master of the Krays island's merchants' guild, the largest commercial organization on the continent. Maitre, an otherwise nameless assassin, has offended the Gray Order by taking the contract, succeeding and surviving to get paid.
    • Vlad Istrin's problem is being Vlad "Lightning", Dalv "Jester", Vlad count el Artua and "Maitre" all in one person. According to Father Estor, Vlad, as other "aliens" before him, is a catalyst of changes on Arland - the world itself puts him to the test, using loved ones, family, friends and allies as the stake, and he must fight to survive.
  • Fantastic Nuke:
    • Manifestation of the Fallen. The damage dealt to the World's Temple has caused a permanent connection to demonic planes of reality, and the spreading corruption has rendered the Blight inhabitable for normal life.
    • Uncontrolled Kraken summoning. The Kraken is an effectively ageless and immortal sentient creature, described as a barely sapient manifestation of raw Water mana. His initial arrival caused tsunami waves and, due to missing control spells, no travel or fishing are possible in the entire area the Kraken now resides in.
    • Desert of Mirrors: The habitable lands were literally burned off the map during the Interregnum and the bedrock was glassed to give the area its new name. Because of erosion, the area became a (technically passable) sandy desert. It's highly hostile due to restless souls of the previous inhabitants which now appear as Sand Spirits, an endemic form of partially corporeal sapient undead predators.
    • The Wild Island was hit by numerous spells during the Interregnum as well. The direct hit areas are now deserts, and the adjacent ones are at best arid steppe. The magical residue corrupted the climate and the wildlife. The inhabitants of the surviving Empire are in a state of constant warfare to prevent being literally wiped off the island.
    • The continent of Nirum was hit the hardest and destroyed. The island of Kilam is the largest remaining coherent piece of land.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Vlad points out that common Marty Stu protagonists in contemporary Russian Trapped in Another World fantasy are commonly quick to introduce overpowered gunpowder technology to the setting. Vlad also notes that attempting to do so on Arland would pose two major challenges:
  1. Keeping the very simple technology secret, which would alone cause a competent intelligence agent to grow gray hairs;
  2. Protecting gunpowder from mages.
  • Feuding Families: Duke Say el Buera tried to invoke this scenario between the el Rad and the el Gnaro families in the Litiya kingdom by tasking a Femme Fatale to seduce the scions of both families. A Duel to the Death between the young nobles would have resulted in a Cycle of Revenge, destabilizing the kingdom. Duke el Buera's intent was to incite a conflict between the patriarchs of said families, the kingdom's constable and the kingdom's Grandmaster of knights.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Lynx clan was banished, without a chance to return, from their native Wild Island, their chief thought dead. They have lived as wandering mercenaries until meeting Vlad, declaring him the reincarnation of the Lynx chief and his lands their new home.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Vlad by chance bonded to a freshly hatched black drake. As the creature looked like a fuzz-coated something with hooves, Vlad simply named him "Fuzz". Fuzz has since become a majestic scale-armored battle-steed, nigh invulnerable to both steel and spell, and worth a dozen of warriors in battle.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: the Rock clan has made a pact with the county of Artua, moving from True Neutral to Monster Adventurers territory. High-vampires of the clan now perform recon and scouting missions deep into the Borderlands and are paid in blood and gold. While these would have been available from other mercenary work, the Artua county offers the vampires access to civilization and Arland's equivalent of civil rights.
  • Friendly Target: the She-Wolves and Dunya, kidnapped into the Blight. Gil "Goody", attacked by a commando unit of inquisitors. Vlad notes that attacks on those personally close to him follow a pattern and for lack of a name calls the entity responsible "Weaver". Father Estor later reveals that this happens to all Xenos on Arland, and "Weaver" is Arland itself testing them, mostly manifested as a conflict with forces of the Fallen.
  • Functional Magic: Force Magic: mages cast spells by expending Mana and regain it by resting or by using various mana-storing artifacts. A Background Magic Field permeates the world as Mana of the appropriate elements, e.g. Earth in a cave, Life in a jungle etc.
  • Genre Savvy: Since fantasy has rapidly become more popular in modern Russia, Vlad has read his share of it, and also is a knowledgeable fan of medieval history. Vlad, after his introduction to the city of Belgor and to magic, jokingly complains that he didn't get any Marty Stu superpowers on Arland, e.g. his army training being useless compared to medieval swordsmanship and his mana pool too small to become an archmage.
  • Geometric Magic: many rituals use circles, stars and patterns, usually including appropriate runes.
    • Runic magic, both for spellcasting and for enchanting, works by creating a spatial arrangement of runes, either in the caster's mind, or both mentally and on the item itself.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Vlad suffers a breakdown due to side effects of an emotion-suppressing spell he used during an infiltration. This seems to trigger his Repressed Memories and cause Power Incontinence of his Ice Overlord abilities. Shedar of the Lynx clan successfully punched some sense back into Vlad right then.
  • God: the Creator, the being who created Arland and left to create more worlds, leaving his son, the Maker, in charge.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Al'sa, second wife to Eran of Dekara. Previously his mistress, Al'sa had the queen poisoned and most likely ordered an attempt at the life of the only heir. With a remarkable degree of control over Eran, Al'sa "removed" most of the people loyal to the kingdom from the court. An old courtier, who faithfully served Dekara's kings, retaliated by slipping Al'sa a permanent contraceptive potion before succumbing to poison himself. Al'sa's rule was marked by nepotism, debauchery and corruption until a rebellion blossomed into civil war.
  • Good Hurts Evil: During the Interregnum, the Maker and the Destroyer fought upon Arland in corporeal form, and spilled blood. While this has mostly resulted in blessed and tainted locations respectively, some of Maker's Blood was gathered and stored. One such vial is located in the blighted Red Caves in Tariya. Maker's Blood is an opaque white liquid sparkling with white light. Narvion, the grand master of the Dark lodge in the Red Caves and the Fallen's servant for 1500 years, could not even approach the vial with Maker's Blood closer than several dozens of meters. Dara, a much younger and hence less tainted Dark Blood and Mind mage, could actually try to touch the vial for a few seconds, but would need months to recover. Khoriner, one of the youngest and lowest-ranking members of the lodge, could actually carry the vial around and used it to counteract the Dark Flame, an artifact of the Fallen. Vlad, in a moment of doubt about his own morals, uncorks the vial, puts his palm against the opening and tilts the vial. He describes the feeling as a soft and tender touch, noting: "I'm not Dark, maybe not a saint, oh absolutely not a saint, but also not Dark."
  • Good Is Not Nice due to It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Vlad is Genre Savvy enough to notice that his loved ones, friends and family have become targets of Dark forces. While the Hunters' and Rangers' Guild can take care of their own, Vlad uses multiple aliases and is always working to prevent his enemies from connecting the dots on him.
  • Good Powers, Bad People:
    • Father Sanr of the Maker's Servants. A cleric powered by the faith in the Maker, Arland's benevolent deity. Also a fanatical inquisitor who commanded an attack on a Hunters' Guild rescue party and ordered those the Hunters had just rescued exorcised and executed.
    • The fraction of the Maker's Servants collaborating with the Dark lodge in Tariya. The corrputed Maker's Servants went so far into The Fundamentalist territory that they are willing to participate in a summoning of a literal demon.
  • Great Offscreen War and Cataclysm Backstory: the Interregnum, a full-out magical world war that raged across Arland about 15 centuries ago. According to the official Church history, the Destroyer himself came to Arland and the Maker opposed him. The Maker fought and banished the Destroyer, but parts of them still remained on Arland. The Destroyer's Heart had been placed upon the desecrated altar of the World's Temple. A small elite force of the Council of the Loyals fought their way to the altar and gave their lives to banish the Destroyer's Heart from Arland, greatly reducing the Destroyer's influence. The damaged World's Temple and the surrounding land became the tainted Blight. The vast underground areas are now known as the Blighted Catacombs. The Blight houses hordes of monsters, undead forces and demons. Lesser "blights" remain on sites similarly tainted by the Interregnum.
    • In a notable episode, the duke of Tariya has committed treason against the allied dragon clans which had their nests in the mountains surrounding his dukedom. As the dukedom was about to be overrun by forces of the Fallen, the dragon clans were gathering from all over the continent to strike back. As the dukedom has always relied on the isolation behind mountain passes and on the dragons, it had no army to speak of. In a desperate move, the duke released an imprisoned Dark mage and provided him with the exact locations and access methods to the dragons' nesting caves, which the Dark armies then attacked. Most of the dragons, arriving in small groups, were killed one by one defending the nests. In the end, the dragons emerged victorious, but took terrible losses. They took revenge on the dukedom by barricading all mountain passes. The dragon survivors also swore an oath of forsaking all future interference in any conflicts with or among other species.
  • Green Thumb: common skill among Life mages, practically the trademark of elven or druidic magic. Earth mages don't have this skill.
  • Guile Hero: Vlad is becoming this, as events on Arland put not only his life, but those of his loved ones, his new family, his friends and those loyal to him, in danger. This forces Vlad to move from being a Hunter to becoming the count el Artua. Vlad's modus operandi shifts to intelligence and counterintelligence, assassinations, propaganda and large-scale financial manipulations involving counterfeit currencies.
  • Had To Be Sharp: the clans of the Wild Island. The Wild Island is the largest coherent landmass remaining from a continent destroyed during the Interregnum, and the climate changes, magical fallout and the changed flora and fauna make it less than hospitable.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: the Grand Prince of the elves on Ritum decided to use human slaves to mass-produce brain-washed half-elves to bolster the elven army and alleviate the elven Immortal Procreation Clause. Aliana el Chanor was born from a captive human and an enslaved elven noble; her birth prompted the Grand Prince to approach that path of research.
  • Happily Adopted: Aliana el Chanor, adopted princess of Melor. Torin of Melor found Aliana's mother during a hunt, and the mortally wounded woman bequested her daughter's life to him. Torin went to great lengths to raise Aliana, and she is fiercely loyal to both her new family and her new homeland.
  • Healing Factor: common among Life mages. The Nar beasts of the Borderlands are famous for their extremely rapid regeneration and hunted to draw healing elixirs from their glands.
  • Healing Hands: basic skill of Life mages. Water and Blood mages can heal others to some limited extent. Saint Auna, founder of the eponymous Order, has healed the sick and infirm ones with her touch without being a mage.
  • Healing Potion: elixirs of Life brewed by Life mages. Every Hunter carries at least 2 at all times. Since these elixirs are effectively bottled Life energy, they will also recover stamina and reduce hunger. It's rare, but not unheard of, to give Life elixirs to horses when time is running out on crucial missions.
  • Heir Club for Men: common in Arland's medieval society. Examples include:
    • The princedom of Riara is about to enter a Succession Crisis since the only heir is princess Valiya and she's actually a bastard, sired by Vlad and accepted by the infertile prince.
    • The Kingdom of Dekara suffered a Succession Crisis. At the end the Hidden Backup Prince emerged to claim the throne.
  • He Knows Too Much and Leave No Witnesses: common stratagem on Arland. Employed throughout the population, from criminals to royalty. As Khoriner, Lord's Hound who successfully infiltrated a Dark lodge, asks Slav, Vlad posing as a freelancer Magic Knight to infiltrate the same Dark lodge, what he (Slav) thinks about the delegations from the Sunset Order, the Merchants' Guild of Krays and the Maker's Servants who came to make a deal with the Dark lodge, Slav responds with: "Kill them all. Burn the corpses. Scatter the ashes."
  • Hellhound: the bkhuts, shapeshifting demonic spirits, usually take the shapes of a giant, a boar or a dog. The last form has earned them the nickname "Hounds of the Fallen".
  • Hermetic Magic: technically all non-belief based magic is hermetic on Arland. Some of the post-Interregnum styles are more obviously hermetic, e.g. the shamanic and the ritualistic style. The verbal and the verbal-gestic style were developed for quick combat casting, hence sacrificing spell complexity and power for speed and ease of use.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The elite company of the Council of the Loyals who entered the Blight Catacombs to banish the Heart of the Destroyer. The banishment ritual has been Cast from Hit Points, resulting in a Heroic Suicide of the entire company.
    • Matvey's wife, a Fire mage, while heavily wounded in the Blight Catacombs, used a massive flare spell to lure monsters to herself, and then suicided in an explosion, allowing her husband to escape.
    • Nata, the Life mage and healer of the She-Wolves (all-girl team of 5 Hunters) is the only one conscious as the She-Wolves and Matvey's daughter Dunya are about to be executed. She decides to save their leader Arna and Dunya, forsaking her own life.
  • He Who Fights Monsters and Becoming the Mask: a priest of the Lord's Hounds called Khoriner has been sent to infiltrate a dark sect worshiping the Fallen in a remote location in the former duchy of Tariya. Then he managed to instigate an Enemy Civil War involving the dark sect from Tariya, another dark sect from Karosa, corrupted Creator's Servants (inquisitors) and corrupted high-ranking members of the Merchants' Guild. Khoriner also timed the events to involve Vlad, Vlad's pupils, a clan of church-approved vampires and a clan of dragons, resulting in the annihilation of both dark sects, the corrupted priests and the corrupted merchants, also preventing a massive demon summoning. Khoriner then committed Suicide by Cop, forcing Vlad to kill him. Khoriner confessed that he became too tainted himself; he originally accepted the mission after emerging from a "blighted spot" decades before Vlad and deciding to use his skills from Earth to benefit the Church.
  • Hidden Backup Prince and Noble Fugitive: after the wife of Eran of Dekara died, supposedly poisoned, the king married his mistress Al'sa. Courtiers loyal to the dynasty correctly assumed the life of the only prince to be in danger and faked the prince's demise. A low-key Borderlands' baron died in the capital, but sent his acknowledged bastard son back home, to the barony outside of Dekara. As queen Al'sa was killed during the civil war, and king Eran is on his deathbed without a heir, the Rite of Closest Blood is performed in Dekara, and a young Borderlands' baron crops up.
  • High Fantasy checklist:
    • Setting: Arland exists in a different accelerated time-stream with regards to Earth. The Church's and Dark logdes' leaders are aware of the origin of Xenos.
    • Scale: While Vlad is at first most concerned with his own survival, he and all close to him are step by step pulled into the conflict between the Light and Dark forces on Arland. While the Dark forces are working to initiate another Interregnum, the Light ones are working to prevent it.
    • Great evil: The Destroyer a.k.a. the Fallen, the Cursed, the Damned. In the clerical doctrine, second son to the world's Creator who went rogue and now desired to destroy worlds.
    • Methods: the Destroyer is not even present on Arland. The main conflict unfolds between those loyal to the Maker and those loyal to the Destroyer.
  • Hired Guns: in form of hired blades and hired mages:
    • Mercenary companies of different sizes active all over Arland. During the decisive battle of the Dekara civil war, two notable companies, the Merry Company and the Tenacious Company, were hired by the rebels and the loyalists respectively. Vlad compares the relationship between the mercenary companies to the violent rivalry of medieval European German and Swiss mercenary armies, noting that the "dirty war", i.e. the civil war, just became a "bad war", i.e. without giving quarter to specific opponents, as well.
    • Order of Sunset and Blood's League, two large unions of mercenary mages. Disliked for having close to no standards about accepting customers; e.g. in Tariya a department of "sunsetters" works for a Dark lodge.
  • Holy Burns Evil: the mere proximity to Maker's blood hurts servants of the Fallen. Actual contact kills them.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: clerics capable of magic are rather capable of hurting or outright destroying The Undead and demonic enemies. Hunters and Rangers don't invite clerics for the simple reason that their power attracts tainted and demonic creatures in a large radius, which would result in a Zerg Rush on the cleric's position. And the Church would like the fact that the supposedly "divine" magic also works when fighting regular people under wraps.
  • Honor Before Reason: the default way of thinking and way of life on the Wild Island. Codified in their "Warrior's Codex". Third of the Lynx clan gives an example when told that their lives are the stakes for the current mission: "Our honor is at the stake. Life is nothing - honor is more than life."
    • A one-armed tainted Black Dragon from the Wild Island told Vlad, Matvey and Father Estor that it was his adherence to the Warrior's Codex that caused his failure to take down a Dark lodge and ended with the Black Dragon as a tainted cripple.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold:
    • "Mommy" Zhula, long-term brothel keeper in Belgor, and her entire staff. In Belgor, any taint you possess will grow and will manifest. To live and work in Belgor means that you are at peace with your life and your ambitions. While the clerics scowl at the girls, the Hunters accept them.
    • Layda, former employee of "Mommy" Zhula, now a waitress in Matvey's inn. Vlad declines her flirts, literally thinking that It's Not You, It's My Enemies. Vlad later found out that Layda was a noble and fled her country to escape the Maker's Servants (inquisitors).
  • Horse of a Different Color: A new species, the drakes, was created by the Chimera school with the explicit purpose to replace horses in battle. Worked not entirely as advertised. Pro: drakes are faster, stronger, resilient to physical and magical damage, smart and dangerous. Contra: drakes are empathic herd predators, form a single lifelong empathic bond with their only owner and rider, don't breed in captivity. Vlad allowed his drake Fuzz to join a wild herd and seek a "girlfriend". To Vlad's surprise, Fuzz became the mate of three drake females and brought them with him to Vlad's castle.
  • Human Sacrifice:
    • Where common mages, the Hunters' and the Rangers' guilds use rare gems known as "Taya's Tears" for mana storage, the Dark lodges and affiliates use "gems of pain", created and charged with human sacrifices.
    • Catacomb Lords procreate through sacrifice rituals.
    • Most necromantic spells require the power of Death to be present in the area, which is most often achieved by sacrifices.
    • Dark lodges use the participation in human sacrifice rituals as both proof of loyalty and source of power.
    • The power and the favor of the Fallen is most easily gained in this fashion. Mages, priests and royalty are especially coveted.
  • The Hunter: Hunters' Guild, Rangers' Guild, chasseurs of the Dragons' Ridge. Motivations among members of these organizations vary:
    • Dark creatures and Dark lodges are a danger to sentients. The Orkhet kingdom and the Church offer various boons to Hunters to keep the Blight in check. Rangers perform similar tasks across the entire northern Satum.
    • Many Hunters are driven by revenge.
      • A peasant kid called Dils lost his entire family at the hands of a Dark lodge. The cultists simply didn't bother to finish off the boy, who survived to become Death Lord and master Hunter Dils "Gloomy", one of the most powerful Hunters. Dils is known for hunting Dark cultists and human servants of the Fallen, often ignoring mindless tainted monsters and undead.
      • Magma mage Kar was the scion of the old, rich and powerful el Raysa family. Magic, power, money and nobility made Kar el Raysa an extremely popular and coveted bachelor, but he fell in love with Selita el Garon, the heiress of an impoverished ancient noble family. The spurned daughter of the el Oro family asked her brother Gray el Oro to get rid of Kar's beloved. Gray el Oro used his position as master of a Dark lodge to do so. Kar was too late to either save Selita or to catch Gray el Oro or Gray's second-in-command Ol "Butcher" who both fled to the Blight. Kar's Roaring Rampage of Revenge ended in Belgor, where he joined the Hunters to later become the Guild-master Kar "Volcano". After Vlad killed Ol "Butcher" and later captured Gray el Oro, Kar states being twice in Vlad's debt.
    • The chasseurs of the Dragons' Ridge are united forces of all non-elven states on Ritum, fighting against the elven empire of Ritum in the elves' war of extermination against all other species on the continent. The conflict has focused on the Dragons' Ridge, an impassable mountain range dividing Ritum in two parts. The chasseurs have been holding the choke-point passes of the Dragons' Ridge until the present day, and they hate the elves with burning passion.
    • Some Hunters, e.g. Master Hunters Arna "Black" and Yag "Axe", have joined the Guild to avoid their families. However, Arna has been declared a renegade, whereas Yag did so on peaceful terms and may later leave the Guild to become his family's patriarch, as several noble scions before him.
    • Due to common Ragnarok-Proofing available before the Interregnum, large amounts of artifacts and treasures have survived in the World's Temple, which became the Blight, and to lesser extent in other blighted areas. Wannabe treasure hunters often end up as fresh zombies in the Blight, but rare survivors often become Hunters after rethinking their motivations.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Zetr, head of Vlad's guild of assassins, briefs Vlad on two contracts in the Narina kingdom. As Vlad inquires about Zetr's reasoning, Zetr states that one of the nobles has a hobby of buying people designated for sacrifice from a Dark lodge, equipping and arming them before release in a large forest for the pleasure of personally hunting them down. The other target is a rapist Serial Killer.
  • An Ice Person: secondary Ice school, combining Air and Water.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Corruption, Sadism, Revenge and Money in the case of the Fallen. While The Undead and tainted creatures have no choice in the matter, some humans serve the Fallen willingly and voluntarily.
    • Corruption: Dark lodges often offer power, influence and new pleasures. During a tourney in the Artua county, Vlad orders his subjects to withdraw from the mages' tournament with the following reasoning: "No other contestant would match your skill or your experience in this tournament. If you go out to humiliatingly defeat them now, some contestants will start thinking about whoever offers the fastest gain in power, and some of those will end up with Gems of Pain."
    • Sadism: as Cold-Blooded Torture and Human Sacrifice are essential parts of worship to the Fallen, humans with such inclinations are easily recruited.
    • Revenge: As Arland's inquisitors often abuse their power for worldly gains, victims of their arbitrary rule yield potential recruits for the Dark lodges. Nork, bodyguard and assassin of choice in the service of Kriy of Baros, blindly accepted the help to avenge his family, and then step by step became a Dark mage. Upon witnessing the power of Hunters, he repents.
    • Money: Dark lodges are often led by powerful nobles. They offer power, influence and protection.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: common practice by Dark lodges all over Arland and on the Baros island ruled by the Dark prince Kriy. Neophytes of Dark lodges are commonly required to perform a Human Sacrifice and to dedicate the soul of their victim to the Destroyer, while on Baros performing such a sacrifice is required to merely enter the castles of Baros for the first time. Vlad notes that this includes everybody, from Kriy's personal advisers to the lowest maid or sweeper in the Baros castles.
    • As Kriy of Baros is discussing the employment of the Maitre, a new high-profile assassin, with his advisers, they decide that Maitre's first contract should be to assassinate the Krays Island's Merchants' Guild-master. A contract on either the Hunters' or the Rangers' Guild-master or any Church official would count as directly serving the Fallen; the Maitre would obviously decline.
  • I Gave My Word: common part of the moral code for the nobility of Arland. Hunters and Rangers are often known to follow Honor Before Reason by this trope.
    • Played for laughs when Vlad invokes this trope on a promise to Ariana to ravish her during a Slap-Slap-Kiss episode.
    • Played for drama when Ariana, who was raised to Shoot the Dog, took life-and-death matters into her hands over Vlad's head, causing Vlad to break his word.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Due to The Scottish Trope, the Destroyer is referenced in many other ways.
    • Vladislav Istrin has accumulated several names over his time on Arland. He's master Hunter Vlad "Lightning", reincarnated Hellaren, the Ice Tournote , master Ranger Dalv "Jester", baron el Vira, later baron el Stoka, later count el Artua, founder of the Joker magic school Vlad er Joker, Maitre (an otherwise nameless mercenary and assassin), later Slav, a freelancer Magic Knight, and later "mister Hunter"note . Note that due to Vlad and Slav both being short forms of Vladislav, both introductions pass LivingLieDetectors.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: cannibalism, both ritualistic and as proof of alignemtn or loyalty, is used by Dark lodges. During the undercover operation in the Red Caves, Vlad is offered such a meal.
  • Immortality Seeker: while the life extension rite is rarely allowed and limited to once per person under clerical jurisdiction, there is no technical reason against unlimited use. Dark lodges hence offer the prospect of eternal life to the acolytes. Vlad notes that sufficiently unscrupulous individuals may well employ a Life mage to perform the rite and to alter their appearance every time, going for a permanent My Grandson Myself solution.
  • Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction:
    • Hunters' Guild started as one, but the actions of both the elven princedom of Ritum and the secluded elven tribes of Satum cause the Hunters review their political position.
    • Rangers' Guild also started impartial, but with the marriage of Dalv "Jester" and Kenara, the Slaughtering of Siluien things begin to change. The foundation of the Artua county and the alliance between Artua and the vampire clans further the Rangers' involvement in politics.
  • In-Series Nickname with They Call Him Sword, but you have to Earn Your Title: The Hunters' and Rangers' Guild share a tradition of assigning a byname to a hunter or ranger promoted to Master. This nickname is most often related to their Weapon of Choice or magic school, but may be descriptive in some other way.
    • Weapon of Choice examples: Yag "Axe", Net "Spear", Magma mage Kar "Volcano", Ice mage Ins "Ice" etc.
    • descriptive nicknames: Werebear Glavk "Bear", Arna "Black" of the Black Wolf clan, Death Lord Dils "Gloomy", master Rangers Gil "Goody" and Niks "Old One" etc.
    • Vlad has been named "Lightning" as princess Laera of Riara watched the lightning spell on his swords. Vlad joined the Rangers under an alias; after he killed a bkhut, the Rangers also promoted him to the master rank, nicknaming him "Jester" for his habit to describe enemies as "victims of our next jest".
  • Instant Runes and other kinds of Simplified Spellcasting: averted. All mages have to cast their spells properly. Single-target spells are quick and easy - used in close combat. Area effect spells take time and effort - used on battlefields and during sieges.
    • As Vlad, with some mercenaries and friends, storms a castle, the castle's owner summons a low-tier demon to stall the attackers as he flees into a secret passage. Vlad notes that said owner luckily was just a bachelor of Demonology - a magister of the same school would either have run further or taken the same time to summon something much nastier.
  • Kill and Replace: the Doppelgänger spell can be used for this purpose as the doppelgangers are permanently loyal to their creator.
  • Knight Fever: Arland's nobility technically goes in tiers, but actual levels of prosperity and power are rather loosely related to the title. Vlad has encountered nobles from kings to knights. Hunters and Rangers completely ignore titles.
    • Vlad in his role as baron el Stoka becomes involved in the baron el Ronst's attempt to absorb the Stoka barony and adjacent unclaimed lands to have the barony elevated to a county.
    • Vlad later suggests the unification of the northern Borderland baronies into a new county, which obviously requires the agreement of the barons, but also the acknowledgement of the new entity by at least three kingdoms.
  • Knight Templar: common among Maker's Servants, the inquisition branch of the Arland Church.
    • Father Sanr of the Maker's Servants. Sanr ordered for tainted women saved from the Blight to be exorcised and executed instead of even trying to heal and cleanse them, which has been proven possible by Cheyt "Tenacious" and Bishop Aner.
    • Vlad asked Bishop Aner of Belgor about his opinion regarding vampires. Aner's response was: "Kill them on sight. While they do not serve the Fallen, they are guilty of not serving the Maker." Vlad persuaded Aner to rethink his stance shortly afterwards, though.
  • Knowledge Broker:
    • Lady Loviya, widowed grandmother queen of Litiya. She owes Vlad and often provides crucial information generally not available outside of royal families.
    • Valit "Lightning", a retired Hunter. Originally Dekara kingdom's second-in-command of secret service, deposed under queen Al'sa and recently reinstated as head of said secret service.
    • The night guilds, i.e. thieves and assassins, have their knowledge brokers. Vlad has some subordinates with criminal careers behind them and doesn't mind asking for favors among the criminals.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: sometime during the Interregnum somebody decided to take control of northern Satum's river system. Northern Satum has only two major rivers, flowing from the West and the East toward the middle of the continent. The rivers meet in the Sweetwater Sea with the Krays island in the middle of the sea's southern part. The Kraken, a partially sapient omnicidal manifestation of raw Water magic, was summoned at the northern tip of the Sweetwater Sea, effectively ending waterway travels. The Kraken summoning wasn't an act of spite or despair, but a strategic decision, as at least one amulet to control the Kraken survived the Interregnum and upon resurfacing, became the focal point of a 5-sided free-for-all power struggle.
  • Lady of War:
    • Arna "Black", master Huntress, later countess el Artua. Her team, the She-Wolves, also qualify, as other female Hunters.
    • The clans of the Wild Island are remarkably equal-opportunity in combat compared to the rest of Arland - all children are raised as warriors, thus making the entire female population there Ladies of War.
    • The Joker magic school is somewhat unusual in training both male and female mages for armed and magical combat. Female students of this school hence become this trope as female MagicKnights.
    • The Chaussers of the Dragons' Ridge on Ritum, and the elven empire they oppose, both have female warriors. Vlad met a retired Chasseur, now a Mother Superior of a branch of Saint Auna's Order, in the Artua county.
    • Dara, Blood Lady and magister-tier Mind mage of the Dark lodge in Tariya.
  • Language of Magic: The "true language" used in verbal spellcasting. It uses the same runes as the Common Tongue; Kolar assumes that the Common Tongue was developed as a deliberate modification and a safety measure. Since runes function as single words / concepts, a runic mage doesn't have to learn the full extent of the "true language".
  • The Last Dance:
    • A Black Dragon, banished from the Wild Island, got hired by a noble family connected to a Dark lodge. As his failed attempt to destroy the lodge left him crippled and tainted, the Dark lodge members left him for dead. The Black Dragon made it to Belgor to seek out a Hunter who would carry out his vengeance against the Dark lodge.
    • After the Slaughtering of Siluien, Vlad reassigned his duties as baron el Stoka, count el Artua and head of the Joker school to Second of the Lynx clan, Arna "Black" and Kolar er Kilam respectively, and entered the Closed Forest with the single desire to take as many druids with him as he could. The druids decided that Vlad's actions were justified, his destiny on Arland not yet fulfilled, killed him, revived him and let him go.
    • Vlad mentions the russian proverb "умирать, так с музыкой!" (literally "to die with music", meaning "to go out with a bang") to Nork, a captured assassin from the Baros island. Nork, with some surprise, notes that this is the favorite proverb and acceptable modus operandi of Kriy, prince of Baros island.
  • Last Request:
    • This was how Torin of Melor adopted Aliana - he found her mother dying in the woods and taking care of the baby as his own was the woman's last wish. Contrary to popular rumors about Aliana being Torin's bastard child and her mother's death his fault, this actually happened. Vlad is Genre Savvy enough to doubt that a dying woman with a newborn child simply managed to stumble into a king in the guarded forest. Vlad's not fully wrong here - Torin did find a dying woman. Aliana's mother was an elven fugitive from Satum. She sought to encounter Torin, assuming that Torin's bodyguards would kill or at least stall the elven assassins following her. Aliana's mother was indeed mortally wounded in the ensuing skirmish, and did bequest her daughter to Torin, but Aliana was over a year old already.
    • Eran of Dekara, aware of his son's situation after his impending death, asks Vlad (at that moment baron el Stoka) to accept the position of the "King's Hand" and to stabilize the kingdom. Vlad grudgingly accepts.
    • Kenara's last wish is for Vlad to perform the elven marriage rite with her on the battlefield. Unknown to Vlad, she uses the formulas of the "eternal union" rite, triggering both magical and political aftereffects.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority:
    • The firstborn son of Arna "Black" sired by Ice Overlord Vlad "Lightning" has icy blue fur in his wolf form (instead of black, gray or white of the werewolf clans), showing his unusual lineage.
    • Drake eggs are usually green, but on rare occasions there is a black one. From black eggs, equally black drakes hatch, stronger and more aggressive than regular green ones. Abu, an experienced merchant dealing in drake eggs, refers to a black drake as a "demon of murder".
  • Lead The Target: Vlad uses a well-timed axe throw to kill a mage who was good enough to teleport around a cave during the fight, but made the mistake of following a predictable pattern.
  • Light 'em Up: Magic worked by various clerics usually manifests as blinding white light. The Church claims to be above Elemental Powers and using divine White Magic; story events hint otherwise.
  • Like a Fish Takes to Water: due to Year Inside, Hour Outside, the Xenos from Earth are rather spread in time on Arland, but seem to rarely become mundane citizens.
    • Hellaren, the legendary Ice Overlord, was most likely a Xenos from the 60-ies and a rather common citizen of the USSR back then.
    • Ongvir el Tori, chancellor of Orkhet, is a Xenos from the early 90-ies from Russia. Vlad is looking forward to meeting him, since he believes to owe Ongvir, back then just Igor', a fierce beating.
    • Vlad himself, from a business-analysis economist, to Hunter, Ranger, count el Artua and founder of the Joker magic school.
    • Khoriner, second-in-command of the Dark lodge in Tariya, is also a Xenos from Russia. He actually joined the Church and became a member of the Church's infamous and officially non-existant internal security, the Lord's Hounds. Khoriner was forced to move to Tariya during an undercover mission in Karosa to prevent being exposed.
    • Another Xenos, from the late 30-ies of USSR under Stalin, ended up on the Baros island. He avoided being sacrificed and joined the Religion of Evil. As prince Kriy of Baros he's been the priest-king for 600 years.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: common in Arland's medieval society. Examples include:
    • Although Lady Loviya is a born princess of Karosa, with her marriage to the heir-prince of Litiya her descendants belong solely to the royal bloodline of Litiya and have no claims on Karosa.
    • The princes of Ayra are equal in their claim to the throne simply by the virtue of being sons to the current sultan. The actual mother doesn't matter.
    • An elemental Overlord power overrides the blood purity issues of werebeast clans. A child born of a werebeast and an Overlord becomes the first of a new totem clan, e.g. Snow Wolves for an Ice Overlord and a werewolf mother.
    • Averted for the werebeast clans otherwise: regardless of exact parentage, a child born of parents from different clans is a bastard by clan laws for both the father's and the mother's clan.
  • Lingerie Scene: During the conversation with Dara, Ellina telepathically prompts Vlad to drop his chalice and have her dress covered in wine. Then Ellina, playing the vain airhead, performs a freak-out, summoning servants to instantly try saving the dress. As the dress is being cleaned, Ellina reenters the room wearing just her lingerie and jewelry, and prompting several reactions:
    • Dara becomes both surprised and envious of Ellina, allowing Ellina, a Mind Lady, to breach Dara's mental defenses.
    • Vlad thinks to himself that he has now fulfilled his "mission for the history of Arland" by introducing lingerie to the female population.
  • Living Lie Detector: Mind mages detect lies easily. Life mages can read individuals by monitoring their vitals, but are rarely proficient in doing so. Blood mages can usually master the closely related Mind school to some degree, e.g. for this purpose. Mind Mages can also defend themselves from detection. Working with Metaphorically True statements and abusing the Exact Words of the question works unless the Mind mage goes from questioning to forced memory scanning.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • After Vlad beats up several young nobles from Narina in Matvey's inn, sir Berg el Peran, the commandant of Belgor, issues a Hunter-Apprentice's amulet to Vlad. This instantly elevates Vlad to membership of the Hunters' Guild and thus to nobility, allowing the nobles to challenge Vlad for a duel. For sir Berg, this allows to resolve the situation with Vlad, technically a commoner, assaulting nobles, and is acceptable within the ethics of the Hunters and within the written law of the Orkhet and Narina kingdoms.
    • During the first tourney of the Artua county, a Plasma Lord arrived during sunset and issued an open challenge to the Joker school of magic native to the Artua county. His arrival is carefully timed to happen after the mages' tourney ends but before the closing ceremony is held, thus preventing Vlad from fighting him, as Vlad has been appointed as the tourney's referee.
    • Vlad responds by simply dropping the referee's mantle, as there is no written rule about the referees upholding their titles after any tourney just for the closing ceremonies.
    • During the rite of Saint Auna, Vlad is asked about his marital status. His answer is: "I solemnly state that no woman is my wife on Arland."
    • The King's Crowns kill the wearer after twenty years unless either removed or manipulated. While the removal can be performed easily by most clerics, the manipulations require a person possessing a "pure soul" and related to the wearer. The second condition, however, can be fulfilled by marriage to any relative of the wearer.
  • Lost Technology: magical artifacts of pre-Interregnum origin. While not necessarily more powerful than contemporary magic, their workings are beyond the skill of Arland's mages now. Kolar er Kilam is constantly pestering Vlad about time to study and try to reverse-engineer some of Vlad's possessions, regardless of their current combat use.
  • Love Potion of the Love Only Person X kind: the Golden Dust. When used by consenting partners, makes them Mindlink Mates, forming a two-way telepathic and empathic link. Since Golden Dust doesn't endanger the life of a user, it will pass common poison detection spells. Golden Dust can be used with multiple partners, although results are rarely nice.
    • The single known antidote to Golden Dust doesn't negate the effect completely. When taken by both users, the links are greatly weakened. When used by one person, the resulting mind-link is one-sided, causing one person to adapt a Single-Target Sexuality and the other to gain More Than Mind Control over the victim. Vlad assumes that this use of Golden Dust caused the ill-fated affair between Eran I of Dekara and Al'sa, ultimately leading to the civil war in Dekara.
  • Loyal Animal Companion of the Bond Creatures variety: Drakes form an empathic bond with the first person they see upon hatching. Should the bonding misfire, the drake will try to kill the human, and failing that, will commit suicide.
  • Made a Slave: Vlad notes that while slavery has been abolished in the northern kingdoms of Satum, the southern kingdoms and the islands of Krays and Baros accept "permanent employment" agreements without much ruckus. For Baros island's Religion of Evil slavery is merely a way to get additional profit form people before they end up on an altar sacrificed to the Fallen.
  • Mage Killer: The Black Dragons, bodyguards of the Emperor of the Wild Island, utilize a meditation technique to penetrate magical detection perimeters based on detecting intents. This skill at ambushing or assassinating mages has earned this unit the title "Mage-Killers" in-universe.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Magic on Arland has well-understood rules and is taught in universities and schools, with people graduating as bachelors and magisters. A mage who makes a significant contribution to a school of magic is awarded the title of master. The ability to summon a primary (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) elemental or the equal amounts of Mana and skill for other schools are acknowledged with the title of a Lord or Lady of an element. Legends tell of people capable of breaking basic rules of magic and having infinite mana resources, called Overlords.
  • Magical Gesture: foundation of the gestic casting style. Commonly combined with the verbal style, e.g. activating the spell by speaking the incantation and aiming with the gesture simultaneously. Since most mages know at least a bit of gestic casting, properly restraining a mage without one of the rare Power Nullifier artifacts includes binding the limbs and restraining, breaking or outright removing the fingers.
  • Magic Is Mental: with the exception of the clergy and the servants of the Fallen, this holds true. Mages have to learn, understand and downright trust their incantations, gestures, rituals and runes, since merely having a pool of Mana and the affinity to an element doesn't make a mage. Dunya, Matvey's daughter, has the potential to be a Death Lady, but lacks training. Kolar er Kilam, during his first meeting with Vlad, needs several minutes to cast a simple fireball, as he lived through months of being systematically tortured with a Power Nullifier / Restraining Bolt artifact.
  • Magic Knight:
    • All mages of the Hunters' Guild are MagicKnights by necessity. Non-mages and weak mages compensate by e.g. being werebeasts, using lots of magical amulets and acquiring Implausible Fencing Powers.
    • While the Rangers' Guild employs a few non-combat mages, e.g. for interrogation, those on the front-line also fit this trope.
    • The Clan of the Lynx has few mages, but those combine their clan's undisputed martial skill with battle-honed magic.
    • Vlad takes his pupils through Training from Hell with regular armor and weaponry, as most of them started out as either Ritual Magic users or came from schools rarely used in direct combat, e.g. Mind or Necromancy.
  • Magic Wand: wands, rods and scepters are commonly used with the gestic style of spellcasting. Gestic spells tend to be longer to cast but more effective.
  • Magma Man: the secondary Magma school.
  • The Maker: the Creator's first son, according to the Church doctrine. The Creator creates worlds, but his son made Arland into an inhabitable place and created the sapient species to inhabit it. According to the Church's doctrine, the Creator's son created dragons, tritons, elves and dwarves to rule the elements, and then shared his soul with his last creation, humans. Then he showed his works to the Creator and was named the Maker.
  • Make Sure He's Dead by Off with His Head! and Chunky Salsa Rule:
    • Mages often carry Life magic amulets. Mage Killer training hence involves beheading the corpse and puncturing the heart of any mage. Reducing the skull and brains to chunks will do in a pinch.
    • A demon-lich is a floating skull filled with concentrated power and taint. Killing the demon-lich invariably involves reducing the skull to dust after exhausting the power within.
    • Hunters and Rangers will behead their fallen comrades when forced to abandon the corpses, and will do the same with servants of the Fallen. Firstly, this prevents the corpses from becoming zombies. Secondly, this prevents servants of the Fallen from reanimating the fallen as draughrs. Thirdly, this allows sufficiently powerful Death or Necromancy school mages to extract some information from the dead.
    • After the chaotic free-for-all battle in the Red Caves, Vlad orders a few subordinates go down there and behead every single corpse before they plunder the area. Justified since a large amount of taint was released in the caves and zombies are likely to rise now.
  • Making a Splash: the primary Water school and the related secondary Storm and Tsunami schools.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: usually solved by Blood mages. Vlad jokingly states that mentioning Blood mages in a court in this context amounts to contempt of royalty and can be punished accordingly.
    • Subverted with Aliana el Chanor, adopted princess of Melor. Officially, the king of Melor found a dying woman with a baby in her arms during a hunt. The woman's last request was to raise the child as his own. Rumors call Aliana Torin's bastard child, reinforced as Aliana is recognized as royal by specific artifacts. Subverted trope, as Torin told the story close to the facts, and Aliana is indeed adopted. Unknown to the public, Aliana's biological father was a royal unrelated to Torin.
    • Magically gifted children are born more often to mages. Since Belgor has an abnormally high amount of masters and Lords of various magic schools, women often visit the city to become pregnant. This includes married nobles, as the benefit of a mage outweighs the ethical issues and the Hunters' Guild doesn't raise ancestry and parentage issues.
    • Vlad once finds himself as a designated father-to-be. The situation becomes rather sticky due to the mother being a high-born noble and the now cuckolded husband being royalty. As the plot succeeded, heiress-princess of the Riara princedom, Valiya, is Vlad's daughter. Laera of Riara resorted to "using" a Hunter after her husband was heavily wounded and rendered infertile.
    • Averted within the vampire clans. Vampire couples often dissolve after childbirth; female vampires may switch partners and clans. Clans raise all children born on their lands regardless of parentage.
    • Averted within the totemic clans on the Wild Island. The clans raise all children equally regardless of mother, father or both being clan members and regardless of exact parenthood in any case.
  • Mana, Regenerating Mana and ManaPotions: Mana is used to describe the reserves of magical energy of an individual, but not their skill level. Extending your actual mana pool to your natural limit takes time and training, and the process slows down as you approach said limit. Mages can exhaust themselves and need to recover. To Vlad's surprise, alchemists have not discovered a recipe for mana potions. There are three ways to rapidly recover mana:
    • Rare gems called "Taya's Tears" will accumulate mana and, when fully charged, completely recharge any mage upon use. Since the gems work regardless of the user's mana reserves and cannot be split among mages, recharging a weaker mage of a crucial element or skill is occasionally feasible. "Taya's Tears" are a trademark of Arland's druids, and actually grow on unique plants.
    • Gems of Pain are Dark artifacts created and recharged by Human Sacrifice. While using and recharging them is easy, making new Gems of Pain is a rare skill. Hunters, Rangers and Maker's Hands (paladins) will destroy these Gems if possible, and those few Dark mages capable of producing them are high priority targets.
    • Life Lords and Ladies can essentially bottle pure Life magic into expensive potions known as "Pink Fog". These will completely heal and restore mana; drinking a fraction of the dose works as a partial healing. Life mages are rare, Life Lords and Ladies are even rarer, and producing a "Pink Fog" supposedly exhausts them completely.
  • Marked Change: After the She-Wolves' rescue, Vlad's eyes have permanently changed color to become icy blue. This marks Vlad as a new Ice Overlord.
  • The Medic: Order of Saint Auna. This Order will accept sentients regardless of race, gender or personal history, both as members and as patients. The Order of Saint Auna will provide medical help to anybody loyal to the Creator and at no cost. Saint Auna's Order members will equally enter palace and hut, field and battlefield.
    • It is customary to leave donations for the order at any of their branches. Vlad notes that Saint Auna was a genius administrator, and Saint Auna's Order is among the few organizations he genuinely respects.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Arland has mostly been reorganized into feudal hereditary monarchies after the Interregnum. Vlad, courtesy of the Neural Implanting of the Common Tongue by Father Estor, has mapped the titles on Arland to those most familiar to him from history and fantasy.
  • Medieval Stasis: averted. While Arland is to some extent a Scavenger World, the time since the Interregnum has seen advances in magical science and changes in political and social issues. The Xenos are a driving force themselves, as e.g. Matvey's grandfather Ongvir became the chancellor of Orkhet and Vlad became the count el Artua.
  • The Men in Black:
    • The Order of the Lord's Hounds. Officially, this Order doesn't exist, and never existed at all. They are mentioned during an interlude showing a conversation between two high-ranking clerics regarding the possible corruption of another high-ranking cleric in the Narina kingdom. Members have never been revealed until Vlad encountered a Lord's Hound as an undercover infiltrator in a Dark lodge. The Hounds deal with corruption within the Church and with missions where any other approach is unlikely to succeed.
    • The Council of Loyals was instrumental in ending the Interregnum and later in banishing the Heart of the Destroyer. Afterwards the Council supposedly was dissolved, but Vlad encounters more and more hints that they have simply moved to the background. After proving his worth and loyalty again and again, Vlad is treated to the reveal that both former heads of the Hunters' and the Rangers' Guilds, Matvey "Leather" and Nils "Old Man" are full members, and current heads of the Guilds, Kar "Volcano" and Yens "Quiet" are acolytes of the Council. The current head of the Council is Lady Loviya of Litiya.
    • Each kingdom has a secret service of some kind, usually dealing with conspiracies and insurgencies. Levels of competence vary across Arland. Vlad befriends the Dekara kingdom's head of secret service, the retired master Hunter Valit "Lightning".
  • Mercy Kill: euthanasia is known on Arland and tolerated to different degrees by different fractions.
    • Among the unwritten rules of the Hunters stands "if you cannot destroy a slavers' caravan inbound to the Blighted Catacombs, kill the women." Justified by the possible use of women in Catacomb Lords' procreation rituals, which are a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Victims of the mutated bindweed from the Closed Forest will suffer for hours while the plant consumes them. Unless this is used deliberately, killing the person is regarded as mercy.
    • Victims of the "Dark beacon" ritual, used similarly to the mutated bindweed to inflict a slow and painful, Cruel and Unusual Death, also may invoke the trope. Vlad, aware that the ritual can only be performed of followers of the Fallen, has to remind himself that leaving those luckless souls to their fate serves no purpose.
  • Mindlink Mates: two separate ways to create such a link, both not necessarily between consenting partners:
    • Caused by the Soul Bind spell, described as "the most useless of the most dangerous spells from the Life school" by Kolar er Kilam. Depending on consent of each partner, the amount of shared thoughts and emotions varies, e.g. with a consenting female and unaware male she gets some of his thoughts, while he gets some of her emotions. The danger comes from two additional conditions: firstly, the Soul Bind can only be removed by the Life mage who performed the spell; secondly, the death of one partner permanently removes the bound part of the other. In the above asymmetric case, the death of the male would permanently render the female unable to think, reducing her to a vegetable state and most likely killing her. On the other hand, the death of the female would permanently render the male unable to experience any emotion, which may not be lethal.
    • Caused by the Golden Dust. Using an antidote can also result in an asymmetrical bond, but Golden Dust produces a dominance shift in this case - whoever takes the antidote gains More Than Mind Control over their partner.
  • Mind Probe: various spells of the Mind school, with varying degrees of power and damage to subject. Mind mages can obviously resist such probes and construct barriers in minds of others to protect them. Druids of the Closed Forest use a far more unobtrusive variety.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Trademark of the Chimera school. Two new species were introduced to Arland:
    • Drakes, created from horses, dragon blood and dragon semen. Drakes are scaly, have horns and bone-spiked clubs on long tails, lay eggs and eat meat (including tainted) but have hooves, live in herds and can and will carry a rider into battle. Drakes are sapient, but supposedly not truly sentient. A drake hatchling is about the size of a dog, an adult drake slightly bigger than a big horse.
    • Gryphons, created obviously from a feline predator and eagles, possibly with dragons involved as well. Large, but meek creatures. Gryphons are easily domesticated and can carry riders and large cargo nets slung from their harnesses. Gryphons are endemic to a small region of the Karosa kingdom and considered a strategic resource.
  • The Mole: Loen "Small Leaf" was a Life mage who infiltrated the Hunters' Guild to steal their secrets.
  • Monster Lord: Zombies, skeletons and mummies can undergo a specific ritual, performed by living servants of the Fallen. The ritual yields zombie lords, skeleton lords and mummy lords respectively. All such lords are stronger, faster and more resilient than the basic undead. They are also far smarter, capable of using taint-infused magic and generally serve as field commanders of large units of undead. Without a lord, the respective undead units loose cohesion.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: With the Maker and the Destroyer at the opposite ends of the scale, the sentients of Arland represent the full variety of morals.
  • More Than Mind Control:
    • Mind school spells can range from brutal brainwashing to this trope. The latter variety is preferable for both hiding the effects on a person and lessening the chance of control failure.
    • Sharing some Golden Dust usually turns people into Mindlink Mates. When only one user imbibes the antidote, Golden Dust still initiates the link, but a one-sided one: the person who took the antidote gains More Than Mind Control over the one(s) who didn't.
  • Mundane Utility: During a month-long cross-terrain chase after a fleeing mage, Vlad and his companions note that none of them knows any spells to cook, clean or repair clothing, treat minor injuries or simply keep away vermin or mosquitoes. Justified as Hunters rarely spend more than a day in the Blighted Catacombs, and the city of Belgor provides for their day-to-day needs in exchange for their loot and fame.
  • Murder, Inc.:
    • Crime on Arland has been organized for several millenia. Assassins' guilds are organized by kingdoms, and to some degree immersed in local politics.
    • The Gray Order is an international organization. This Order's assassins operate in groups of 5, containing a master warrior, usually a high vampire, and magister or Lord tier mages of 4 different elements. Rumors state that the Gray Order always consists of exactly 25 active assassins, grouped in 5 groups as described above. Each group has a dedicated intermediary, and all intermediaries answer personally to the Gray grandmaster. All active members are sleeper agents, living perfectly normal lives between missions. After killing a Gray team, Vlad reveals their corpses to the authorities to find out that e.g. the Water Lord of the team has been a respected professor of Water magic in university of Riniya.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse:
    • Aliana, duchess el Chanor and princess of Melor, rushed into a marriage by Saint Auna's rite with Vlad "Lightning", freshly appointed a Master Hunter to prevent being kidnapped to be forcibly married to an elven royal from Ritum. The interest in Aliana el Chanor is neither romantic (Ritum elves are racists) nor dynastic (Aliana was adopted and hence carries no inheritance chances), but the elves believe that formally introducing her to the family would lift crucial restrictions from a pre-Interregnum artifact. As Saint Auna's rite allows the newlyweds to obfuscate each other's personalities under any circumstances, the elves start hunting for all males rumored to be romantically involved with Aliana.
    • Kar el Raysa, Magma mage and heir to the old, rich and powerful el Raysa family, fell in love with, eloped with and secretly married Selita el Garon, the daughter of an equally old but impoverished el Garon family. The daughter of the el Oro family, spurned by Kar and unaware of the marriage, convinced her brother, Gray el Oro, to murder Selita. As Gray was a Dark lodge's master, he fled the country after the murder to hide in the Blight, and Kar joined the Hunters' Guild.
    • Al'sa, second wife to Eran I of Dekara, supposedly had Eran's first wife poisoned. Later events suggest that Al'sa most likely used a Love Potion to win Eran's favor and the entire affair was an attempt to take Dekara over by dynasty shift.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: Combinations of Life + Death and Light + Dark are impossible on Arland, although each of these 4 elements has other combinations available.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • Kenara, elven Lady of the Ferns' House. Kenara has fought alongside humans and became the lover of the Ranger who saved her life, thus invoking a death sentence from her native elven empire of Ritum.
    • Saiana, last living royal of the elven Swords' House of Ritum. Saiana accepts the condition to join Saint Auna's Order and hence to help and heal any sentient being, regardless of race and origin, in exchange for the safety of her subjects. To put Saiana's decision in context, the elves have been fighting a war of extinction against all other sapients for the last millenium, and joining Saint Auna's Order will reduce her from princess to less than a pariah. Vlad notes that regardless of the downfall of the Swords' House, survivors of the Swords, spared from rape, slavery and the altars of the Fallen on the Baros island, will worship her as if she were the Creator's next child. Vlad has commanded the Slaughtering of Siluien and took the elves captive, but he never intended to sell elves to Baros, instead aiming to show the dissonance between elven royalty and commoners. Saiana's decision serves to prove the point that elves may be redeemed.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter with euphemisms, unfinished obscenities and requests to Pardon My Klingon: Vlad's speech has frequent euphemisms and first letters or syllables of obscenities. When listening to someone, Vlad comments on people swearing. In addition, the language of trolls on Arland seems to lend itself superbly for swearing, and is unrelated to the Common Tongue. When quoted, trollish sounds entirely illegible.
  • Necromancer: Necromancy is a fourth degree school consisting of Earth, Death and Mind, and strongly overlaps with the Death school. While servants of the Fallen often use necromancy to interact with the undead, necromancy is not exclusively Dark. Necromancers can work in law enforcement or become Hunters due to their proficiency at banishing the undead. Sufficiently ruthless warlords and generals employ necromancers to turn fallen soldiers into readily available cannon fodder.
    • Dils "Gloomy" is a Death Lord master Hunter, capable of some Necromancy but specialized in the combat use of the Death school.
    • Ol't, a baker in Belgor, has been a grain producer somewhere in the south of Satum. Being a necromancer, he bought corpses of deceased or executed criminals from prisons and reanimated them to work the fields. Ol't's profits and magic gift called the attention of some inquisitors to him, forcing Ol't to abandon business and seek refuge in Belgor. Vlad persuades him to quit baking and start training as a combat necromancer.
  • Nerves of Steel and The Stoic: Vlad needs to infiltrate a sect worshiping the Fallen. Since their most common proof of loyalty to the Fallen requires participating in a Human Sacrifice ritual, Vlad is forced to rely on an emotion suppression spell. As the situation is resolved and Vlad attempts to remove the suppression, he finds himself swinging between the suppressed rational and a new far too emotional state instead of returning to normal.
  • Neural Implanting: a complicated spell from the Life school allows to copy a skill, e.g. fencing, from person to person, including reflexes and muscle memory. In rare cases of compatible magic abilities, a proficiency in a magic school can also be transferred. While old mercenaries are known to offer their skills for sale, buying skills is very risky and both sellers and Life mages cooperating with them are seen with suspicion.
    • Cheyt "Tenacious", a Life Lord and Master Hunter, serves as a trusted repository of the Hunters' Guild, and often pesters Vlad to share his experiences and new spells.
    • The Black Dragon Guards from the Wild Island made a tradition of this. Every retiring guardsman passes his entire skills and abilities to his successor, adding a life's worth of experience and new skills to the inherited ones.
    • Vlad finds himself on the receiving end of an involuntary implanting, as a fugitive Black Dragon offers him the entire skill set as payment for an assassination. As Vlad declines, the Black Dragon calmly states that a) this was a test; b) Vlad passed; c) Vlad's personal morals and character will lead him to clash with the person the Black Dragon wanted dead anyway. Then he performs a forced emergency implanting on Vlad, removing the needs for both Vlad's agreement and a Life mage's cooperation.
  • Neutral No Longer: before the Borlderlands barons vote on intervening in the civil war of Dekara by joining the loyalists under Eran I, Vlad ends a summary of his reasons to support Eran as follows:
    "A weak ruler in Dekara is good for us. The rule of Eran I, grateful for our help, is profitable for us. He is a crappy kingling who might forget our help in a year or two. But those who will truly rule, the eastern nobles, they will remember. Many things could be said about the eastern nobles. They are poor, bellicose and rough. They are greedy, unceremonious and impudent. They know what honor is. They are almost like us." The Borderlanders unanimously vote in Eran's favor.
  • The Nicknamer: downplayed with Vlad. While Vlad often thinks in nicknames, he carefully avoids some of them while speaking to prevent being recognized as a Xenos. Vlad tends to think of elves and dwarves in nicknames, but usually opts not to offend every elf in earshot by calling any of them "hare", "bunny" or "rabbit".
  • Non-Malicious Monster: the Kraken. According to Vlad's experience after empathic contact, the Kraken is sentient, but not sapient, and his initial aggression results from the original summoning and control rituals.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: averted. Kolar, while explaining the basics of magic to Vlad, states:
    "There is the seventh kind of magic, following the four elements, Death and Life. It's the magic of the priests. [...] There are other facts pointing to magic, not to the Maker's power. All I learned about this power is that it's based in will and willpower. I call this Spirit magic. The stronger a person's spirit, the more can be done with this magic. Many things are unclear to me regarding the concentration, form and transfer of energy, but there is an observation. Where the believers and the temples are plentiful - the Spirit magic multiplies in power. Lacking believers, the mage becomes far weaker. I should say that this or a similar magic was wielded by the Creator who made Arland, by his son, the Maker - and I'm afraid to think by whom else.
    Vlad reacts with: "Now we're done for. [...] The phrase "Let there be light!" fits Kolar's explanations really nicely. Sacrifices to the Fallen also make sense. And I'll tell Kolar about energy concentration as related to the concentration of believers sometime later. Words like "egregor" are well-seated in my mind. Just one thing I don't understand at all. Why is Kolar still alive? This opinion doesn't merely justify conflicted relations with the Church... If the clergy knew about his idea of categorizing divine wonders as clerical magic, and saints - as archmages, he wouldn't get off as easy as burning at the stake. And his comparison of the Maker and the Destroyer? The Church will destroy all those who may have talked with Kolar. It is a good thing the Church doesn't know."
    • The existence of an independent elven language, the elves' refusal to acknowledge the Maker's divinity, the existence of "pure souls" as sentients born with a "shard of the Creator" and the existence of elementary Overlords hint to the fact that the clerical version of Arland's creation is actually wrong and both the Maker and the Destroyer have been assigned the roles of a divine Big Good and a divine Big Bad post-factum, or may have actually ascended to divinity as a result of this assignment.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Vlad was descibed by Father Estor as not seeking death, but ready to give his life for a reason he deems worthy, even if the worthiness is only defined within Vlad's morality.
  • Not Quite Flight: True flight is possible for Air mages, but very expensive in terms of Mana. Levitation spells are far more common and used e.g. to climb walls or move objects.
  • Number Two: The retired Guild-Masters of the Hunters and the Rangers both serve as second-in-command to the current Guild-Masters. Designated heirs to the throne play this role in most kingdoms.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Used often by royal heirs when playing the Royal Brat to hide their actual political roles.
    • Deliberately used by Ellina when posing as Vlad's fictional mistress Naina. Vlad notes that Ellina isn't using her Mind magic, she's just extremely intelligent and a competent actress.
    • Matvey el Tori, second-in-command of the Hunters, poses as a simple peasant innkeeper.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Druids suffer from severe power loss outside of their native Closed Forest. When matters outside require armed and violent intervention, Druids will usually catch Rangers - who entered the Closed Forest for some reason - and force them to follow the Druids' orders.
    • During an interrogation on Baros, Vlad invokes the trope by stating that the assassination of baron el Buera has been ordered by the Druids.
  • Only One Name: Hunters, Rangers, priests, monks and members of church-related orders go by their rank, a single name and occasionally an acquired byname. Nobles may keep their family names, but rarely use them. Vlad notes that during a formal introduction, the first affiliation stated is the most important to the person.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: Banshees are restless souls corrupted by the Fallen's taint. They can inflict a deadly curse which may also carry over to family members. Banshees are bound to blackthorn bushes or ruined buildings they inhabit and can not leave their vicinity.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Demons are otherworldly servants of the Fallen. They dwell on the deeper levels of the Blighted Catacombs. Other demons can be summoned by demonologists. The power and action radius of the summoned depend on the summoner's power. A variation of the summoning ritual uses Human Sacrifice instead. Sacrificing 20 humans would allow a an elemental-tier demon to permanently take a host and remain on Arland until the demon was banished. A Dark lodge is working towards such a sacrifice to obtain several hosted demons to do their bidding; the keystones of the summoning ritual would be unhatched dragon eggs to serve as hosts, rendering the demons immune to both weapons and magic, and abducted anointed royals, whose blood would render the demons vastly less vulnerable to clerical magic.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons were among the first sapient species created by the Maker, and the Church doctrine describes them as "lords of the sky". Dragons appear as winged four-legged reptiles. They are fully sapient, smarter than humans, capable of thinking in multiple independent threads, but incapable of human speech, thus communicating by Telepathy. Dragon thinking and telepathy are applications of the General school of magic, and the former can be taught to other sapients. Dragon magic was used for Ragnarok-Proofing before the Interregnum. Dragons have the appropriate strength and durability for their size and breath fire. Dragons live in clans and subscribe to communnal responsibility: an oath given to any dragon is an oath given to the entire clan, and an oath given by any dragon is an oath given by the entire clan. A dragon wishing to break such an oath would have to shed the clan and go rogue, which is nigh unheard of. Dragons reproduce by laying eggs, and dragon eggs are among the rarest sights on Arland.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: averted. Vlad almost suffers a breakdown as the master blacksmith Dorn comments on his remote nephew Kerin with the comment of "He's too young at 55 years." It takes some time for Vlad to accept that Dorn and Kerin are dwarves, and Vlad promptly proceeds to recite the common dwarven tropes from Russian fantasy to Dorn and Kerin. The blacksmiths agree that dwarves are usually underground dwellers, masters of mining and smithing and very strong, but they find Vlad's ideas on proper dwarves being short, very broad-shouldered and long-bearded utterly hilarious. Dorn and Kerin comment that Vlad's dwarves would be rather out of place in both mine and smithy. Dwarves are in general shorter than humans, but normally proportioned. Dwarven women are rather feminine and also interested in feminine things, with Kerin's bride Anita being an exception and an exceptional female smith in her own right.
    • Since dwarves provide most precious metals on Arland, they have also founded banks, resulting in permanent conflicts of interests between clans of dwarven banks and the influential Merchants' Guild of Krays island.
  • Our Elves Are Better: downplayed. Elves were among the first sapient species created by the Maker, and the Church doctrine describes them as "lords of the land", but they share this status with dragons, tritons and dwarves. Elves are humanoid with pointed ears, but lack the breath-taking beauty Vlad expects from fantasy works. They live in forest cities, but the cities aren't magical or mysterious and can be attacked and conquered, as shown in Siluien. Elves are skilled archers, but this results from longevity and practice, not supernatural abilities or innate gifts - during the decisive battle of the civil war in Dekara, a company of elven archers does some damage, but then falls victim to a well-timed and well-executed cavalry charge led by a few MagicKnights. After the Interregnum, the elves on the Ritum continent have adopted an extremely xenophobic and racist world view, leading to a permanent conflict between them and other sapients. Due to the continent's geography, this war has concentrated on the Dragons' Ridge. Elves of Ritum have attempted crusades on Satum, but were defeated and forced off the continent. The elven empire on Ritum is in possession of one of the three surviving King's Crowns, legendary artifacts of pre-Interregnum origin. The indigenous Satum elves have retreated to an isolated enclave, and are tolerated to varying degrees in the human states; they are trying to break the isolation as recent events seem to advance hostilities between the elven empire of Ritum and human states even further.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • Tainted restless souls become banshees or maylings. Maylings dwell on cemeteries and feed on the life force of sapients buried alife; maylings are restricted to close vicinities of their cemeteries.
    • Tainted shadows are souls of humans who were sacrificed to the Fallen. Those who successfully make their peace with the Maker before death don't become tainted shadows. The tainted shadows are proportionate in power to the amount of sins in life, and the strongest ones can inflict curses, kill or possess humans.
    • On rare occasions, Revenge, Unfinished Business and enough willpower to resist taint can yield a sapient ghost. Vlad encounters the ghost of a powerful and vengeful mage who is haunting the place of his demise and killing wannabe tomb raiders. The deceased obtained four rare artifacts: a Life Ring, a Chain of Elements, a Kraken-controlling amulet and a key to an intact King's Crown, hid them in a tainted cave and was ambushed on his way home. Vlad ends up exorcising the ghost and later retrieving the artifacts.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins or gobls are a new species introduced to Arland after the Interregnum. It's unknown if goblins are tainted descendants of Arland life or a remnant of the Fallen's otherworldly forces. Goblins are sapient, use tools, weapons and armor, and are capable of speech and of shamanic magic. Goblins are cannibalistic and innately hostile to humans. Their tribes prowl the tainted north-western tip of Satum known simply as the Borderlands and isolated by the Dismal mountains from the rest of the continent. Goblin tribes experience irregular baby booms, and after exhausting the meager resources of the Borderlands, they will storm the mountain passes and attack the Borderland baronies. If the baronies fall, the goblins proceed into the Dekara and Eriya kingdoms. The last time the goblin threat was underestimated, it took the united armies of Dekara, Eriya and their sothern neighbour Mariyena to deal with the goblin hordes.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Gryphons are likely a creation of the Chimera school, one of the least known schools of magic. Their sole known nesting grounds are in the Karosa kingdom. Gryphons are smart, possibly borderline sentient, and are tamed by the military, making Karosa the only kingdom with a functioning air force. An adult gryphon can comfortably carry a basket or a net with several passengers or a load of cargo. Vlad compares a gryphon flock guarded by several dragons to a cargo helicopter squadron with an escort of gunships. Vlad's drake Fuzz merely considers them a hard-to-catch delicacy.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Liches are mages who turned to the Fallen seeking immortality. Since the procedure costs the user's soul, the Soul Jar issue is avoided entirely. The lich transformation grants undeath and vastly increases the mage's mana reserves and spell power, but lowers intelligence and makes casting complicated spells impossible. Liches accumulate taint and upon reaching some threshold become master-liches; their power grows and their spells become tainted. Repeating the accumulation of taint to a new threshold yields an arch-lich. Arch-liches no longer use elements in their spells, their magic is solely powered by the Fallen's power. Servants of the Fallen can perform a ritual to turn an arch-lich into a demon-lich. A demon-lich is a concentrated pool of taint embedded in the former lich's floating skull.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are a new species on Arland. They don't carry The Virus and reproduce as normal mammals. Vampires are faster and stronger than humans, but are limited to the General school of magic. Vampires are capable of speed bursts, rapid regeneration and can turn into mist at will. They need blood to survive and more blood to actively use their powers. Arland's vampires aren't affected by sunlight or holy symbols, but they can be easily enslaved by the power of the Fallen. Vlad notes that vampires make decent livings as mercenaries, assassins and tomb raiders; their clans engage weak Life mages to collect blood from villages. After surviving a life-or-death battle a physiological and psychological change might occur, promoting a vampire to high vampire. Vampire clans on rare occasions accept trusted humans as honorary clan members, granting them access to speed bursts and improved regeneration. Vampires worship neither the Maker nor the Destroyer.
    • After a dark mage's attempt to enslave an entire vampire clan, said clan actually joins forces with the Rangers and gets approved by the Church.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Werebeasts of Arland are several separate Witch Species with the innate power of Voluntary Shapeshifting, limited to one animal form each. Werebeasts are organized in patriarchal clans, in turn organized by totem. While numerous before the Interregnum, only two totems survived, the Bear and the Wolf. The Bear totem consists of two clans, Cave and Forest Bears. The Wolf totem consists of three clans: White, Gray and Black Wolves. The transformation appears to simply switch the human body with clothing, armor and weapons for the animal body and back again. Equipment remains unchanged on transforming back and forth; dirt, blood and other traces of battle carry over from form to form. This ability is not related to regular magic of the elements. All werebeasts are capable of magic, although the power varies. Master Hunter Arna "Black" is a Black Wolf and a mediocre Water mage, and master Hunter Glavk "Bear" is a Cave Bear capable of the "general" school and almost nothing else. The largest problem of the werebeast clans is their survival, since they can only produce healthy offspring with members of the same clan.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Wolf is one of the surviving werebeast totems. Wolf clans' members, regardless of gender, appear beautiful in a predatory way. While often doing something martial for their living, Wolves seem to be less specialized than Bears. Less powerful in combat, Wolves make up for it with being harder to spot and having natural tracker skills.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Fresh corpses tainted by the power of the Fallen or corpses desecrated by certain rites may rise as zombies. Zombies don't have magic, but can survive on human flesh in otherwise untainted areas. Tainted zombies are much faster, smarter and stronger than common ones. Upon consuming a certain amount of victims, a zombie becomes a master-zombie, becoming stronger and faster. Master-zombies exclude a lethal poison from their entire corpses. As with skeletons and mummies, a ritual can turn a master-zombie into a zombie lord. Zombie lords are extremely strong, control their own zombie units and can fire bursts of raw taint.
  • Past Life Memories: averted. What looks like a case of Reincarnation, is rather a magically stored Genetic Memory that the founder of the Istrin family left within the bloodline, also including his personality template. Unlocking the memories thus leads to a degree of Split Personality Merge.
  • Patron Saint:
    • Saint Auna, patron of the infirm, the insane, those in love and expecting mothers. Vlad occasionally jokes that Saint Auna gets four times the patronage for a single pregnant woman.
    • Saint Irdis, patron of the warriors.
  • Playing with Fire: the primary Fire school and the recently developed secondary Plasma school.
  • Plunder:
    • The World's Temple has been among other things a treasury and a museum. Due to reasonably common magical Ragnarok-Proofing, most of the valuables remain intact in the Blighted Catacombs and in other lesser treasuries across the world of Arland. After the Destroyer's Heart was banished from the Catacombs, a new natural phenomenon manifested, called "Blight's Breath". On regular intervals, blighted and tainted creatures, but also tainted items will be teleported into the Catacombs.
      • The Gray Company, led by Orkhet of Miora, raided the Blighted Catacombs some 800 years ago. They returned - not unscathed, but victorious. The loot made Orkhet richer than kings of his time, and his men rich enough to rival dukes and counts. Orkhet and the Gray Company proceeded to found a new kingdom, claiming the north-eastern part of Satum. The mostly tainted lands from the borders of Velariya and Litiya in the south to the northern shore of the continent, and from Miora in the east to the Median Mountains in the west, became the new Orkhet kingdom. Orkhet I, now of Orkhet, proceeded to found the city of Belgor and the Hunters' Guild. While large parts of northern Orkhet remain tainted and uninhabitable, Orkhet is technically the largest cohesive country of northern Satum.
      • Hunters and Rangers make their livings from raids into tainted areas. Hunters concentrate on the Blight itself, while rangers operate all across Satum, preferring the less tainted north-western areas.
    • Vlad notes that some people collect objects of art, others collect skulls of their enemies, but he prefers those who collect small round golden engraved objects in large amounts. He's also likely to absorb such collections into his own after having to kill said collectors.
    • Vlad, upon arrival to his newly acquired lands in the Northern Borderlands of Dekara, learned about a forgotten silver mine on his ground. To ensure the friendship of fellow Borderlands' barons, he talked them into founding a mining company with shared responsibilities and shared income. Vlad later notes that the silver mine, the civil war and the victory of the king bound the Borderlanders by the strongest bond on Arland - by sharing honor, bloodshed and wealth.
    • Vlad, as a baron in the Northern Borderlands neighboring the Dekara kingdom, votes for the Borderlands' barons to join the king's side in the civil war. After the king's army emerges victorious and successfully recaptures the capital from the rebels, the king's commander-in-chief grants the Borderlands' barons the rights to plunder the city palaces of rebel nobles.
    • Vlad, during his time as a Ranger, is hired to lead an expedition seeking an artifact for the kingdom of Melor. Among a few conditions, he states that all loot except the specified artifact is his to keep.
    • The undead inhabiting various tainted locations often carry their original gear, which due to magical Ragnarok-Proofing is usually in rather good condition. Due to a serious loss of metallurgic knowledge during the Interregnum, old steel is an actual commodity.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • According to Kolar er Kilam, this is the permanent result of a failed Element Fusion ritual. Temporary loss of control during the ritual is expected.
    • According to Master Hunter and Ice Lord Ins "Ice", this was the trademark issue of the legendary Ice Overlords - they would loose control of their Ice powers during moments of emotional stress. Vlad, being an Ice Overlord and supposedly Hellaren's reincarnation, has on several occasions summoned blizzards or frozen the area around himself during such moments.
    • Saint Auna suffered from this in regard to her healing powers.
    • Any Pure Soul bearer suffers from this to some degree, and reception varies strongly with the actual Pure Soul power.
  • Power Nullifier: Artifacts commonly referred to as "Circlet of Counteraction". These circlets must be tuned to the carrier's type of casting spells, e.g. one tuned for a verbal mage will not work on a runic one. Vlad noted that for verbal, gestic and ritual mages "bind, gag, blindfold, break all fingers" is equally effective.
  • Praetorian Guard:
    • King's Guards in every kingdom. Often units of MagicKnights. To add some punch, each King's Guard is at least a a 4-man unit: the Guard himself, two vassal knights or armored infantrymen and a vassal archer.
    • Black Dragons of the Wild Island. The Black Dragon clan contains the Wild Island's emperor's bodyguards, in contrast with other clans which are patriarchal tribal communities. The Lynx clan has been banished for the treason of a Black Dragon who came from the Lynx clan.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Kriy of Baros may work against some Dark lodges not because of some moral issues or standards, but because they become a threat to his personal power or his ongoing agenda (which surprisingly approaches Evil Versus Oblivion).
  • Professional Killer:
    • While never keen to admit it, each secret service has a few employees to do the killing.
    • Vlad gets suspicious about Zetr, the village elder of Vlad's Stoka village, since Zetr shows martial and commercial skills typical for long-time criminals. Zetr confesses being a wanted fugitive, an assassin hiding from former associates. Vlad has said associates "removed" and engages Zetr in building Vlad's personal copy of the Gray Order.
  • Psychic Block Defense: the Mind school has several degrees of spells and wards to defend a mind from intrusion. One of the most effective wards operates on a catch-22 principle: each part of the ward has to be disabled before the other.
  • Psychic Radar: the Mind school has spells and wards to detect sentients. Life, Blood and Water mages can use related spells to detect living beings in general, and Death and Necromancy mages can detect The Undead.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Dragons have enchanted many things before the Interregnum with their trademark durability, upkeep and self-repair spells, including the entire World's Temple. Their work is still visible in the Blighted Catacombs, as damage to the area itself will slowly regenerate. The taint of the Fallen has affected the dragons' spells, and now the Catacombs not only restore themselves, but also change.
  • Randomly Gifted: justified. Magic on Arland follows a complicated inheritance pattern, which allows for some general statements but makes it effectively impossible to correctly predict the birth of a future mage or his / her future power. About one child in 1000 is born a mage. The access to divine spells seems to be similarly random among clerics. Mother Superior Erita of Saint Auna's Order tells Vlad that two mages are more likely to have gifted children.
    • The elements appear random. There are hints that a couple of mages of the same element is more likely to have gifted children, and gifted children are more likely to share the common element of the parents.
    • The number of elements a mage can access is also random, going from 1 (General school only, common in vampires) up to in rare cases 5 (General, Earth, Fire, Water, Air), e.g. Vlad. Mages of all 4 primary schools are known as "all-purpose".
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Zig-zagged. While most nobles and knights' orders play the trope straight, the more cynical characters note that life on Baros, even as a sex slave, is preferable to having your soul sacrificed to the Fallen.
  • Razor Wind: common effect for offensive Air school spells.
    • Vlad's "Meat Mincer" spell produces several sharp disks of compressed rotating air. Used to devastating effect on soft targets.
    • An Air elemental, unleashed in combat and rather underestimated, leaves enemy corpses cut to fine dry ribbons.
  • Really Gets Around for being a Politically-Active Princess: Aliana el Chanor, princess of Melor. Due to being adopted, she has no claims to the throne whatsoever and seems to live a life of various pleasures as a token royal. Most embassies at the court of Melor have taken the hint and have surprisingly handsome "diplomats" on staff. Unknown to the general public, though, Eliana is a royal envoy, an accomplished Life mage, a trained seductress, spy and assassin, has the potential to become a Saint in her own lifetime and has married Vlad "Lightning" by the rite of Saint Auna, later performing a soul bind to her husband. Much to said husband's chagrin, her training as Femme Fatale sometimes takes over. To his relief, Aliana employs a competent and trusted body double for sex.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Common on the Baros island under the local Religion of Evil, as the effect of the regularly performed Life Extension ritual. Said ritual is Fueled by Human Sacrifice in a case of Equivalent Exchange, and hence extremely rare everywhere else.
  • Rebellious Princess: Arna "Black", master Huntress hailing from the Black Wolf clan. Arna fell in love with a White Wolf and declined the arranged marriage set up for her. After several murders which ensued, Arna was exiled and joined the Hunters. Her master title "Black" was obviously assigned due to fighting in the shape of a black she-wolf. Arna ends up in charge of the Artua county, as Vlad, then count el Artua, deemed a Black Wolf princess fit to rule and correctly deduced that she has been educated to become a ruler of the clan from the start.
  • Reincarnation: Part of the Hellaren mythos. The native tribe of Ins "Ice" believes that their mysterious forefather Hellaren reincarnates in every Ice Overlord. They are technically neither right nor wrong since while every Ice Overlord was a Xenos, they all came from the Istrin bloodline, and all were to some degree merged to the magical Genetic Memory of Ice Tour.
  • Religion of Evil: the followers of the Fallen. Working with The Undead, fueling magic by Cold-Blooded Torture and Human Sacrifice. State religion on the Baros island. Likely the source behind the shamanic powers of trolls and goblins.
  • Repressed Memories: Vlad has repressed some traumatic memories from his earlier life in Russia as a case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Matvey "Skin" has retired from the Hunters' Guild after the death of his wife. As adviser to Kar "Volcano" he joined the Council of the Loyals.
    • Dekara kingdom's head of secret service is a retired master Hunter Valit "Lightning", who likes to tease Vlad about sharing the "Lightning" byname.
  • Ring of Power:
    • Spell rings, mass-produced by artifactors. A basic steel ring engraved with specific runes and containing a spell of a primary school. Matvey explains that this form follows the function: rings are made of steel as the mana deteriorates softer metals, e.g. gold. Runes are the only way of permanently binding a spell to the item, which would be impossible with an incantation or a gesture. Primary schools are used since the speed at which rings loose charge increases drastically with each added element.
    • Ring of Life, a pre-Interregnum artifact. The Ring of Life accumulates excessive Life mana from the wielder, up to several times the normal amount of a living body, and discharges it as needed to heal. Killing the wielder of a fully charged Ring of Life requires inflicting several lethal injuries almost simultaneously.
  • Ritual Magic: Power granted by the Maker or by the Destroyer can be obtained by religious rituals. Other magic on Arland is an innate gift though.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: the kidnapping of the She-Wolves (an all-girl Hunter team) and Dunya for the Catacomb Lords' procreation ritual triggers this for the entire city of Belgor. In most cases, Hunters would try to find and Mercy Kill the women. After an almost suicidal distraction by the Hunters' Guild, Vlad leads a crack team of Hunters into the Blighted Catacombs. They find the lair of the Catacomb Lords, destroy the guards, kill the vulnerable Lords and save the women.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • After exiting the Blighted Catacombs, Vlad's team rides for Belgor to allow Bishop Aner to exorcise the rescued women and save their lives permanently. The Hunters are intercepted by father Sanr, a fanatic Maker's Servant (a member of Arland's inquisition), accompanied by Servant guards and several Maker's Hands (paladins). The Servant incapacitates the Hunters within a clerical barrier spell and orders the women executed by piercing their hearts and beheading them, their tainted corpses exorcised and burned on the spot. Vlad unleashes a power he isn't supposed to have and proceeds to break the barrier, slaughter the Servant guards and the Hands and finally kill the inquisitor.
    • A successful rebellion in the Litiya kingdom almost destroyed the dynasty. Loviya, the queen of Litiya, lost her husband and all their children, but saved her toddler grandson. She then took command of loyal forces and reclaimed the throne. Upon reclaiming the capital, Loviya had all the captured noble rebels executed one after another on the exact date of their rebellion.
  • Royal Blood: Usually not much of a deal, unless you involve magic of pre-Interregnum levels or specific artifacts.
    • The King's Crown can only be safely worn by a ruling monarch, and grants superior protection against poisons and magic. It also influences the wearer for the benefit of their domain. As a safeguard, the King's Crown will kill the wearer after twenty years, unless the wearer peacefully abdicates the throne and retires.
    • Blood of anointed royals grants servants of the Fallen protection from the Light magic of the Church. While royal blood is far too rare for common undead or monsters, a Dark lodge plans to graft this protection on a high-tier demon.
  • Royal Brat: commonly subverted. Many royal children are seen as such, but the majority of them seems to use a large amount of Obfuscating Stupidity. Widowed queen Loviya of Litiya notes that all princes of Melor for several centuries have appeared as superficial hedonists but "suddenly" became competent rulers upon ascending to the throne.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: as Arland is mostly a medieval society, the various royals do the actual ruling. Children of royalty are often diplomats or warlords as the situation demands. Notable contemporary occupations among royals would be the king of Orkhet also being the honorary commander of the Hunters and the prince of Baros island also being the head priest of the island's Religion of Evil. Interludes show that some Royals Who Actually Do Something use a generous helping of Obfuscating Stupidity to pass of as lazy pleasure-obsessed brats.
  • Sacred Hospitality: standard part of morals among nobles on Arland. Vlad notes that some of the events during the tourney in Diora were likely orchestrated to accuse somebody of breaking the hospitality customs, and his interference allowed the hosts to save face.
  • Satan: the Destroyer. According to Church doctrine, the Creator has two sons - the Maker and his opposite, the Destroyer. The Interregnum happened as the Maker left Arland to look for the Creator, allowing the Destroyer to attack the world, and forcing the Maker to battle his brother. Due to The Scottish Trope, the Destroyer is commonly referenced by other names, e.g. the Fallen, the Cursed etc.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Magical variety: While magic is a field of active research, occasional artifacts, e.g. Chameleon's Chain, King's Crown, Chain of Elements, are far too advanced for the current level of magical knowledge. Justified since all those artifacts were created before the Interregnum. Kolar er Kilam is actively trying to reverse-engineer and copy ancient artifacts with varying degrees of success.
    • Vlad studied to become an actual metallurgist by trade before the USSR went pear-shaped and knows some general facts about medieval metallurgy as well. He drops bits and hints of knowledge around Korin, a young dwarven smithing genius trying to make a name in Belgor. Korin, having both a steady supply of pre-Interregnum steel, expert Hunters and expert Hunter-affiliated smiths to both guide and goad him, makes several breakthroughs, e.g. rediscovering the damascene steel.
  • The Scottish Trope: The entity who desired to corrupt or destroy the world is properly referenced as the Destroyer. Using this name gets his attention, hence the Destroyer is called a plethora of other names, most common ones being the Fallen, the Cursed, the Dark. Being on blessed ground or having the blessing of the Maker negates this effect, though.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Due to the events leading to the Slaughtering of Siluien and the reception of this event on the continent of Satum, the overall public opinion slowly shifts towards this trope.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Vlad signs into the Rangers' Guild as Dalv.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: The Chain of Elements houses 4 captive primary elementals, allowing the wielder to use Lord tier magic of Earth, Fire, Air and Water within the limits of mana available. Said captive elementals have been imprisoned in the Chain for the last two millenia with an unexpected side effect: interacting with the Chain's wielders and other sentients slowly enhanced them from nigh-feral common elementals to fully sentient beings. The elementals befriend Vlad and enjoy his company, further adavncing in sentience. While now able to break free of the Chain and to return to their respective elements' dimensions, the elementals unanimously decided to stay.
  • Secret Test of Character: a retired and incapacitated Black Dragon offers Vlad to buy his skills by Neural Implanting. Vlad declines and the Black Dragon tells him that he has passed and is worthy to inherit the Black Dragon's skills and oath of revenge.
  • To Serve Man: Goblins and trolls commonly consume the meat of other sentients. Dark lodges use the consumption of sentients as a test of loyalty.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: After Vlad rescued Gil "Goody" and Kolar er Kilam from the Blight, he asks them about Ruv, the Dark mage who took them captive. Kolar breaks into a paragraph of Magibabble exposition, which Gil sums up as: "If Ruv entered the Blighted Catacombs with active magical shields, he'd attract creatures not forbidden by their Lords from attacking him. Ruv wasn't important enough to be granted safe passage by all Lords, just given a single safe route. So Ruv had no shields up, and was to slow to cast them as you attacked."
  • Settling the Frontier: common on Satum as an aftereffect of the Interregnum. The northern human states and some free settlements are pushing back the taint and taming the land. The Borderlands' baronies have resulted from this process, and the Artua county which united some of them keeps exploring and expanding.
  • Sex Slave: Common on Baros island, where attractive females are spared from the altars of the Fallen if they agree to prostitution. Vlad, undercover on Baros, suggests searching the slave pens for attractive women to a local gang. Due to a curious case of gangsters' morals, the women seen as SexSlaves would be far better off than regular prostitutes and obviously better off than common slaves.
  • Shock and Awe: lightning spells are common within the Air school. Air Lord and Master Hunter Tron e.g. has the byname Tron "Thunder".
  • Shoot the Dog: the Hunters, the Rangers, the Chaussers and the clerics are capable of Cold-Blooded Torture when needed.
    • After the capture of Gray el Oro, the Hunters need to interrogate him in order to proceed with the rescue of the She-Wolves. As Gray is protected from any magical Mind Probe, the Hunters end up with basic physical torture. Vlad notes that while the Hunters are reluctant to proceed, a cleric from the Order of the Maker's Servants is downright aroused with the prospect.
    • The slaughterings of Seren and Siluien, while acts of Disproportionate Retribution, are seen as necessary by the Hunters and the Rangers.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: almost anything at type II, with draughrs being type IV.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness checklist for vampire clans of Arland:
    • Blood requirement: Vampires can feed sparingly, don't have to kill, don't have to drain large amounts of blood from victim. Vampires need the blood of sentients, but can live on stored blood. Overall friendly.
    • Craving type: Controlled feeling, comparable to how mages feel their Mana resources. While out of combat and not using vampiric powers, both the craving and the need for blood approach zero. Overall friendly.
    • Conversion: Impossible. Vampires are a separate humanoid sentient species who just happen to look like fanged humans. Innate magic of the clans allows to adopt humans as clan members, sharing some abilities with them. Overall friendly.
    • Morality shifts: Do not apply for the lack of The Virus and the lack of conversion. Vampire clans are strongly prejudiced against because of generally serving neither the Maker nor the Destroyer. Commonly seen as threats due to often working as superhuman muscle for the Gray Order, Arland's most infamous assassin fraction. Overall neutral, but can strongly vary by outside influences.
    • Super powers: All born vampires are mages, similar to werebeast clans. Vampires are limited to the General school of magic, but can become extremely competent therein. Stronger and faster than humans, better and faster regeneration, comparable to the werebeast clans. Vampires that pass a combined physical and psychical threshold can "evolve" into high-vampires, becoming stronger and faster and gaining limited shape-shifting. Overall friendly.
    • Weaknesses: see below. Overall neutral, as their involvement in the conflict between the Church and the Dark forces is involuntary, and the vampires would gladly ignore both sides.
      • Vampires are innately susceptible to Dark mind-control. This is extremely humiliating for them and contributes to the prejudice against them.
      • Vampire clans were driven from human and dwarven lands by the Church. Vampires have left tainted territories where the taint would have caused quick enslavement to the Fallen's servants. Vampire clans remain in the disputed Borderlands, caught between the advancing human states in the south, and the tainted goblins and trolls in the north.
      • Vampires are to some extent xenophobes and prejudiced against other races. This results partially from their experiences with other races and can be changed by outside influences. The Rock clan, failing to prevent a massive Dark enslavement ritual, sides and later allies with the human fraction that helped them.
      • Appearance: human except for the fangs. Prejudice by appearance mostly focuses on goblins, trolls and the undead instead. Overall friendly.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Common on Arland, since many nobles have military backgrounds. Matvey's grandfather, Matvey himself and now Vlad actively contribute to the Common Tongue by introducing russian slang and profanity. Vlad's genuinely surprised to hear Aliana, princess of Melor, and Loviya, widow grandmother queen of Litiya, occasionally drop a Cluster F-Bomb, described by the Narrative Profanity Filter as language fitting an underpaid mercenary drill sergeant.
    • After a mission caused too much publicity, Vlad receives nasty letters from various friends and allies. He notes that Lady Loviya's letter is the only one to contain no profanity at all, and then quotes the nicest phrase of the letter as "Vlad, dearest, since your poor crushed skull must have been pulled from your mother's womb with plumber's pliers by a drunken midwife..."
  • Sorry That I'm Dying: As Vlad, badly wounded, crawls to the She-Wolves and Dunya, he finds Nata, their Life mage and healer, still alive and conscious. She has put her hands on Arna and Dunya, healing them, and dies with the words: "Vlad, forgive me, I only managed two."
    • Nata's death becomes Vlad's Berserk Button, reinforced by Repressed Memories of another green-eyed girl back home in Russia, who also died in his hands. Reinforced again by the death of Kenara. These memories trigger Vlad's emotionless descent into the Ice Overlord state.
  • Spell Blade:
    • Common technique to cast destructive spells which otherwise would have touch range on melee weapons instead. Vlad earned his byname "Lightning" after an impressive display of skill with such a spell. Ironically, the spell used was "Spark", a weaker cousin of an actual ranged lightning spell.
    • Mages can directly infuse a blade with raw mana of an element, allowing the blade to damage magical shields and do elemental damage on contact. Rarely used, but almost a trademark of the Gray Order's high vampires during hit-and-run assassinations. Vlad advises an allied high vampires regarding the use of his species' innate superspeed bursts to profit from this technique when fighting mages: "You can strike the mage's shield six times while he's casting something; it's okay for the fifth hit to crack the shielding spell and the sixth hit to crack the mage's skull." This technique rapidly deteriorates the metal, though.
    • Legends of Hellaren, the only known Ice Overlord, tell that Hellaren's power manifested as the "Ice Blades" spell on his weapons. The smallest wound he would then inflict became lethal, leaving frozen statues.
  • Spider-Sense: Vlad can sense danger imminent to people he considers within his responsibility, but the sense manifests as Vlad being sleepy and irritated without any indication of who's in danger and how. According to Father Estor, this is one of the boons granted to Vlad by Arland as a part of the world's interaction with a Xenos.
  • Splash Damage: generally occurs with the more powerful spells.
    • Vlad has developed a spell to forcibly banish certain kinds of spirits. The material component of the spirit explodes, often dealing splash damage to other enemies. To Vlad's initial surprise, the explosion carries the effect of the spell, allowing for chain reactions. In the seventh novel, Vlad deliberately uses the spell on a large pack of spirits cornering him in a cave system with the full intent to create a massive explosion and a shockwave.
  • Split Personality Merge: Vlad finds out that "Ice Tour", the founder of the Istrin bloodline, has left his personality in a magical Genetic Memory. The ancestor's personality will, under the right circumstances, attempt a merge. Vlad thus assumes that the legendary Hellaren was related to him, also became trapped on Arland and underwent the merge with the ancestor's personality emerging as dominant.
  • Storming the Castle: Vlad's subjects, over the course of the series, have become experts at raiding castles. Preferred tactics include finding entrances to secret passages, scaling unguarded walls or bypassing wards with superior stealth spells. Once inside, the storming proceeds by suppressing the castle's mages and instantly going for choke-points and for the chain of command. The advanced tactics, magical superiority and unparalleled discipline shown during raids have allowed the more capable heads of secret services on Arland to start making connections between Vlad "Lightning", Dalv "Jester", Vlad el Artua, Vlad er Joker and Maitre.
  • The Strategist: Baron Igar el Tars, supreme commander-in-chief of Dekara. Vlad nicknames him Macedon son of Caesar of the Genghis clan, later just "Macedon". Baron el Tars, unwilling to deal with the Deadly Decadent Court under Queen Al'sa, retired to his barony. He returned to lead the loyalists during the civil war in Dekara and won the decisive battle on the Field of Vengeance while outnumbered 2 to 1. Before the battle, another baron describes Igar el Tars as: "He has not commanded dozens of battles, just seven. He has always been vastly outnumbered, but never defeated."
  • Stronger with Age:
    • Averted with elves - their martial skills are mostly due to centuries of accumulated experience, and humans either dedicated to war or working with inherited skills can match them.
    • Zig-zagged with vampires. Vampires don't grow stronger gradually, but reach a threshold of maturity sometime after becoming 50. Surviving a battle with their lives on the line, fighting with full power and beyond and achieving the appropriate mental state may allow a vampire to pass the maturity threshold and become a high-vampire, which amounts to an instant leap in power and several new abilities. High-vampires don't grow stronger anymore, though.
  • Succession Crisis: occurs whenever the male royal bloodline becomes disputable. Examples include cases of no heirs, disputable heirs and excessive heirs:
    • The princedom of Riara is about to enter one as the current prince died without a male heir and his only daughter isn't of age and is also a bastard, since the prince was infertile.
    • Solved in the kingdom of Dekara by a Hidden Backup Prince - the loyal courtiers were Genre Savvy and faked his death years ago.
    • The sultanate of Ayra: the sultan has 5 sons from 4 wifes, all equal in their claim to the throne. Likely to be solved with some fratricide.
    • Orkhet of Miora, then a fifth son of the king, voluntarily retreated from the court, unwilling to deal with his brothers in any fashion. As the Miora kingdom still exists, the crisis must have been solved.
    • The kingdom of Soniya had prince Valud exiled for conspiring against older siblings. Apparently all the heirs except Valud found an amiable solution.
    • The elven House of Swords has lost their lord, lady and all male heirs. The only surviving royal, princess Saiana, has sworn to join the Order of Saint Auna, thus also forsaking her lineage. To complicate the situation further, Saiana took the oath to save her subjects from summary execution - thus officially dissolving the House of Swords would mean nothing compared to the life debts.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Magic was a science before the Interregnum, and the idea of The Scientific Method survived. New spells are created, old spells are modified and artifacts are reverse-engineered by careful research rather then by intuition or by trial and error.
  • Summon Magic and Summoning Ritual: Demonology is a well-known magical school. Results vary with power and time available for the ritual: with a pre-existing summoning circle, a bachelor of Demonology whips up a lesser demon within minutes, and Vlad remarks that a magister of the same school would either have summoned something nastier, or scrammed faster. Demons on Arland are Dark servants of the Fallen and thus very unlikely to attack equally Dark summoners. The Church employs demonologists to banish demons, as this is considerably faster than forcing the demon to retreat by destroying the body.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: averted. About one child in 1000 is born with enough magic to use for work or combat, less than one in 100 has some magic at all. Vlad assumes that magic follows a natural, although fairly complicated pattern, and that isolated societies would accumulate magic-enabling genes. Additionally, it stands to reason that harsh conditions make mages more likely to live long enough or to be chosen as parents. Several cases seem to support this idea:
    • The native tribe of Ice Lord master Hunter Ins "Ice" seems to support this belief; according to Ins, one in three members of his tribe has the potential of Ice magic to at least the bachelor degree. The tribe has been isolated since long before the Interregnum. Tribal legends also claim blood relations to mysterious Ice Overlords.
    • The totem clans of the Wild Island have a higher percentage of mages. The clans, isolated on the Wild Island since the Interregnum, have adopted the policy of raising all children communally and equally, regardless of biological parents, possibly allowing for covertly polygamous mages.
    • The survivors of the original Tariya duchy. As Dark armies attacked, the duke and his court found refuge inside an enormous cave system, which they fortified and expanded until now. As the royal court had mages to spare, their descendants have an increased fraction of mages now, although they are beginning to suffer from inbreeding.
    • A professor of the university of Riniya performed the required statistical research. According to him, a couple of mages has about one chance in 30 to beget a mage, and one chance in 10 if the mages are of the same School. There are no data on parents sharing some Schools, e.g. if a Blood (Earth + Water) and an Ice (Air+Water) mage would likely beget more Water mages.
  • Telepathy: Hypnosis and telepathic communication can be performed by all mages, limited by willpower and degree of familiarity with the person, and are thus assigned to the school of General magic. The Mind school specializes in all matters of offensive and defensive telepathy. Most Mind mages work for various investigative and intelligence-related agencies. Emotion and perception manipulations are used by rare combat-oriented Mind mages; Mind school illusionists have their niche in law enforcement, working as crime scene investigators.
    • Dragons cannot reproduce sounds of human languages and communicate with humans solely by Telepathy.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Gauging a person's magic capacity and preferred elements is a very common set of spells, mostly used by those teaching magic. The spell does however only gauge the potential capacity, not the current skill set or current mana pool.
  • Thieves' Guild: a fraction of organized crime, similar to the assassins' guilds. At least one such guild has acted against a Dark lodge under Evil Versus Oblivion reasoning.
  • Thinking Up Portals: the individual portal artifacts must have been very common before the Interregnum, as a rather large number of those survived intact. They are obviously related to the well-known stationary portals, since activating an individual portal opens a Cool Gate out of thin air. Individual portals differ from the stationary portals of the Portal Network maintained by the Scarlet Order in several key aspects:
    • Individual portals can be opened anywhere - stationary portals are, well, stationary.
    • Individual portals can lead to any location the user is sufficiently familiar with - stationary portals only connect to each other.
    • Ownership of an individual portal has to be transferred by elaborate ritual and can only be done once a year or less often - stationary portals can be used by anyone with the correct access spell.
  • Thirsty Desert: the Desert of Mirrors, spanning from Satum's western coast across half the continent to the Sweetwater Sea, bordering on the Melor kingdom due north and the Ayra sultanate due south. The name came from a spell of mass destruction unleashed on the area during the Interregnum. Kingdoms previously located there were literally wiped off the map and the land was glassed.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: duels are common among nobles, and the proper rules have long since been written down.
    • The Orkhet kingdom notably has a customized dueling codex to account for the Hunters. All Hunters are treated as nobility, thus exempt from serf laws and allowed to duel with nobles. Hunters are limited in challenging nobles to account for their exceptional skill, and giving regular nobles the chance to avoid confrontation without loosing face. This becomes a plot point as Vlad, shortly after his arrival in Belgor, beats up a group of young foreign nobles in Matvey's inn after they insulted Dunya. Anywhere else on Arland, Vlad would be executed as a commoner for assaulting a noble. Belgor's commandant, sir Berg el Peran, finds a solution conforming both to the Hunters' ethics and to the current relations with Narina kingdom the young nobles came from. Sir Berg issues a Hunter-Apprentice's amulet to Vlad, making Vlad an instant member of the Hunters' Guild, an instant noble and a legit target for a challenge. Several duels follow, ending with a breach of the dueling codex.
    • During a mission in Litiya, Vlad visits a ball, where he runs into Darin, a knight he helped and befriended earlier, accompanied by Rens and Ley, Hunters who were invited to the ball as scions of nobles. A quartet of elves, three men and a woman, visits the ball. As Vlad, Darin, Rens and Ley are about to leave, the elven leader taunts Darin. As Darin is forbidden from challenging the elf due to being a vassal of the host, Vlad intervenes. Vlad's insults and the suggestion to pay 5 gold pieces to have the elven woman use her ears during intercourse enrage the 3 male elves enough to challenge Vlad, Rens and Ley. The Hunters proceed to quickly dispatch the elves.
    • Upon arriving in his newly acquired Stoka barony, Vlad learns that another Borderlander, eldest baron el Ronst, is trying to take over the Stoka lands. As baron el Ronst enters the Stoka village, Vlad confronts him with the documents from Orkhet's king Orkhet V., legally assigning Vlad as baron el Stoka. El Ronst reacts by disregarding the documents and calling king Orkhet a bastard, allowing Vlad to challenge him for the insult to Vlad's sovereign.
  • Top God: The Creator who created the inhabitable worlds, including Arland. Father to both the Maker and the Destroyer in the clerical doctrine.
  • The Tourney: usually held annually by royals. Tourneys usually consist of a jousting tournament, a war-game similar to "capture the flag" between two teams of knights, and a tournament for mages. The winner of the jousting tournament usually wins the honors to proclaim the "fairest lady" among the present noblewomen. This ceremony most often falls victim to the political interests of the country holding the tourney.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Inverted with the Catacomb Lords. They become part demons after loyally serving the Fallen, and most servants of the Fallen consider this the ultimate promotion available to mortals.
  • Translation Convention: After receiving the Common Tongue by Neural Implanting, Vlad perceives everything as Russian. After an adaptation period, he is able to switch languages at will, and notes when doing so.
  • Trapped in Another World and You Can't Go Home Again: premise of the series.
    • An interlude shows a conversation between two clerics addressing each other as "Es" and "Nir", most likely Father Estor and the current Maker's Deputy . They are discussing the phenomenon of people cropping up in the "blighted spots", which has been happening for several centuries and is well-known enough to have contributed the word "derg", meaning "alien", to the Common Tongue. The Church has often taken interest in these "aliens", with Vlad's release "into the wild" with the bare minimum of information and no further training being an exception.
    • Vampire clans of the Borderlands have legends about their ancient homeworld. Vlad assumes that some fraction "imported" them on Arland shortly after the battle of Tariya.
    • Trolls, goblins and other "new" races appeared shortly after the Interregnum as well. Their origin is debatable, and some researchers assume they were brought to Arland by the Fallen.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Vlad pulls this with Aliana, Pat and Isar as prisoners to inflitrate the bkhut's lair.
  • The Undead: various forms of undead roam the Blighted areas. They vary by power and tactical role. A basic Hunter's manual alone mentions 7 families of undead: mummies (those lacking the skills to become either a lich or a death knight, retain basic intelligence), liches (mages voluntarily becoming undead), death knights (warriors voluntarily becoming undead), sluagh (warriors too cruel, too hateful and too battle-obsessed to die after falling in battle, retain intelligence), draughrs (revenants, raised ritually from fresh corpses, retain personality), zombies and skeletons (fresh and decayed corpses raised by Dark taint, basically mindless killers).
  • Un Equal Rites: Mages mostly differ by their respective casting methods. The most common are verbal, gestic, ritual and runic, which may be combined in varied fashions. Combat mages most commonly combine verbal and gestic control, while battlefield-scale or siege-grade spells are most often ritual and runic. Enchantments of items, from a fireball ring to a castle wall, are almost exclusively performed by runic mages.
  • Urban Legend Love Life: both princess Aliana of Melor and dwarven princess Anita of Lazurite are rumored to change lovers like gloves - daily or more often when fashionable. Vlad, through some incidents, happens to learn that both ladies were virgins on their respective wedding nights, and the rumors part of Obfuscating Stupidity and of playing the Royal Brat.
  • Vain Sorceress: zig-zagged. Life mages are naturally beautiful as a basic manifestation of their powers. All mages can influence their appearance to some degree, and while most vote for a beautifully youthful look, a good number of male mages in positions of authority go for a more mature appearance, e.g. Kolar er Kilam. Cosmetics, both alchemical and magical, are rather common, and a skilled civilian Life mage usually contributes to generally improved looks (and health) of the overall population.
  • Vampire Monarch: averted. The vampires of Arland are divided into patriarchal clans. Patriarchs don't have any mystical or supernatural power over the clan, though - the clans work by loyalty and honor. During an emergency, the clans can unite and elect a Grand Patriarch, but the process is political and not mystical.
  • Vampires Are Rich: averted. Vampire clans were forced to settle the Borderlands between the advancing human states in the south and the tainted goblin and troll tribes in the north, and are mostly fighting for survival. Some of the smaller clans find themselves forced to hire out as mercenaries or even as assassins to survive.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Nork, a master assassin from the Baros island, repents his life after being captured by Hunters. While awaiting his execution, Nork confesses his sins, including revealing the network of informants who work for the princedom of Baros, his own knowledge about Baros and his insights about corruption within the Church. Vlad notes that Nork's repentance might have just moved his soul's final destiny from hell to purgatory.
  • Warrior Monk:
    • Order of the Maker's Hand, essentially the armed branch of the Arland Church. Individual members are respectfully addressed as paladins, colloquially as "handies".
    • Order of Saint Irdis a.k.a. Order of Maker's Warriors. Politically active and militant order, which can only be joined by former warriors. Mainly based on Ritum and involved in the war against Ritum's elven empire.
    • Clerics of Belgor, due to proximity of the Blight.
  • Warrior Prince:
    • Orkhet of Miora, fifth son of the king. Neither willing to join the Church nor to serve Miora nor to participate in the power struggles of his siblings, Orkhet used his personal wealth to found a mercenary group he called "Gray Company". Orkhet became famous for the Gray Company's power, skill and loyalty to him and to each other as well as for being unpredictable in both accepting and declining candidates to his Gray Company. Orkhet's crowning achievement was a bold raid as never seen before: the Gray Company was the second large unit after the Interregnum to enter the Blight. But instead of following a quest with suicidal determination, as the forces of the Council of Loyals did, the Gray Company returned. Orkhet's tactical skill became apparent - he created a unit capable of raiding the Blight for Plunder.
    • Djayd of Ayra. Skilled Magic Knight, but more of a diplomat due to being the most likely heir to the throne.
    • Valud of Soniya. Conspired against older siblings, deported from Soniya, joined the Chasseurs of the Dragons' Ridge. Captured by the elves, Valud managed to escape and return to Soniya.
  • White Magic: the power of the Creator and the Maker granted to priests and paladins is presented as White Magic in-universe. Kolar er Kilam, a genius theoretician of magic, claims that this only holds true when Church members actively and directly oppose the forces of the Fallen; in other situations they channel belief, technically being equal to the Fallen's servants. The Church hierarchs actually know better since Maker's Servants (inqusition) can use Light magic to brainwash others or cast offensive spells on regular humans.
  • The Wise Prince:
    • Djayd, prince of the Ayra sultanate. A Magic Knight and a skilled diplomat, Djayd also cares more about his country and people than about the power he could grab, and stands out in the Deadly Decadent Court of Ayra. For the benefit of outside observers and foreign spies (however futile the distinction), Djayd's leading a conspiracy against his father, as all princes of Ayra do. Sultan Rashid, as sultans of Ayra often do, has joined Djayd's conspiracy, thus designating Djayd as the preferred heir.
    • Ingar, prince and heir of Melor. Ingar is rumored to be little more than a vivid fan of royal past-times, be they tourneys, hunts, balls or beautiful mistresses, but an interlude shows him a capable diplomat and politician, likely to serve Melor first and himself second.
  • Witch Species: The largest problem of the werebeast clans is their survival, since they can only produce healthy offspring with members of the same clan - the shared totem is not enough. It's strongly implied that Arna "Black" joined the Hunters after falling in love with a White Wolf and his death at the hands of her Black Wolf relatives. Glavk "Bear" has already fathered 3 Bear cubs, as clan tradition demands. He's hopelessly in love with a human girl, knowing well that even if both his and her parents agreed to the marriage, he and his beloved would remain childless.
  • Wizarding School: mostly of the university kind. Graduates add the article "er" and the name of the school to their name. Noble mages mostly go by the family title, though.
    • Vlad befriends Tanya, a noblewoman from the Riara princedom. Tanya goes by "Tanya el Faso", and Vlad deduces from her style of casting spells that she graduated from the famous university in Riniya. Her full title is "Tanya el Faso er Rino", although openly inquiring about the graduate's title is considered impolite.
    • The Kilam island's magical schools are unique on Arland for teaching the runic style of magic. Erana, a graduated noblewoman and a genius of magical theory, goes by "Erana er Kilam", ignoring her family title.
    • Mages of sufficient power have founded personal schools. Universities treat graduates from such schools without respect, as education standards and ethics of such small organizations vary.
  • Wizards Live Longer: averted. The average human lifespan on Arland is about 150 years. Mages are, if anything, at a higher risk to die of unnatural causes before.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask:
    • Kenara el Laynistina, only child to the Lord of the elven Fern's House. She became Lady of this minor House in the elven empire on Ritum. By elven law, her future husband becomes the Fern's Lord, and his House then assimilates the Fern. House mergers between unequal Houses are rare, but the Fern has accumulated and safeguarded a library of magical knowledge and lore, making Kenara a valuable prize. The Swords' House is thus willing to make some morally questionable decisions regarding Kenara's future. Kenara's desperate search for a way to save her House ends on Satum in a confrontation with master Ranger Dalv "Jester".
    • Loviya, princess of Karosa, in an arranged marriage to the king of Litiya. Loviya lost her husband, two sons and the only daughter in a rebellion of the nobles, leaving her and her 5-year-old grandson, the last legit heir to the throne. Loviya took command of the remaining loyal forces and loyal nobles, exterminated the rebels and reclaimed the throne. During her time as Queen-regent, she fell in love with Prokopiy, a master Hunter from Belgor she believes to be Vlad's grandfather, but chose to remain a queen. Loviya chose the future of her grandson over her own. In a rare moment of unveiled truth, she calls Aliana, adopted princess of Melor, literally a "stupid cow" for messing up the latter's relationship with Vlad, and tells Aliana: "I had no choice. Prokopiy - or my country, Hunter - or my grandson. You obviously understand whom and what I have chosen. You have the choice, don't loose Vlad."
  • Written by the Winners: the history of Arland in general, and the history of the Interregnum, has been sanitized by the church for the general populace.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Matvey's grandfather has left Russia in 1995, but has already spent a century in Arland.
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