Where it all begins. Sort of.
A finished webcomic created by Sarah Ellerton, also known as Arts Angel. Inverloch
follows the adventures of a young da'kor named Acheron. Unlike other young male da'kor, Acheron is not overly violent or aggressive.
The story begins with Acheron running into Shiara, a young elf. He quickly falls for her, but she holds back from him. She explains that when she was young, she was engaged to a silver-haired elf named Kayn'dar who was kidnapped by a dark mage when they were both 6. Kayn'dar was special, being the only elf born with silver hair who could still use magic, and he was believed to be the only hope for the elves, who are losing their magic and immortality more and more in each generation.
In order to give Shiara closure or happiness, Acheron chooses to venture forth and look for Kayn'dar. He takes with him a small pendent, which was purported to belong to Kayn'dar before he vanished.
Along the way, he teams up with Lei'ella, a thief catcher who hides herself under a hooded cloak because she is one of the silver-haired, mortal elves, called the Severed. She was exiled from the elven community for her affliction at the age of 12. They are joined by Varden, a handsome young thief and a foil for Lei'ella. Their final companion is Neirenn, a powerful young mage who is seeking the elven magic of healing.
They will discover that not all is what it seems with the kidnapping 12 years ago, nor with Kayn'dar and Acheron themselves.
See also The Phoenix Requiem
, the recently-finished comic the author started when Inverloch
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Achey Scars: The bandage on Varden's right arm isn't for show; he had his arm broken by a guard trying to cut it off, and it didn't set properly.
- All-Loving Hero: Acheron/Kayn'dar. This guy insists on adding a thief who tried to steal from him to the party to give him a chance of becoming a better person. Seriously. And that is despite being raised as the Proud Warrior Race Guy and experiencing Fantastic Racism ever since having left home.
- All of the Other Reindeer: The Severed, and specifically Lei'ella.
- Almost Dead Guy: Raul surviving long enough to transfer his memory.
- Varden is the Disney Type. He's a good guy, and not that deep down, but he's grumpy and cynical and prejudiced when he joins. He warms up considerably after the prizefight, though he continues stealing for practical reasons.
- Toyed with regarding Neirenn. She's less than noble and is a little too interested in dark magic. Really, she's trying to cure her mother's terminal illness. She's ultimately the Pragmatic type and winds up as Archmage by sitting on the information about Kayn'dar until she's ready and then using it to oust Stonier.
- The Archmage: Archmage Stonier of Aydensfell. He gives the heroes some apt, though cryptic, advice and runs he magic academy. Neirenn describes him as batty. He's more straightforward when he summons them for a second visit, though, and is considerably political.
- Arc Villain: Berard stalks the group until halfway through Volume 3 in order to abduct Acheron for the da'kor fighting ring and emotionally injure Lei'ella.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Lei'ella delivers one to Acheron when he lashes out at her after learning an elf killed his father.
- Art Evolution: The art is much more polished and faces become more consistent as the comic goes on; Acheron's face is drawn more accurately after the author did a 3-D modeling project with him and found his snout was too short. The print versions have the faces redrawn.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals: The Da'kor.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Lei'ella warns Acheron about this in regards to finding out what happened to his father and searching for Kayn'dar. And indeed, the truth about Acheron's father gives him a Heroic BSOD.
"Ignorance is fleeting, but knowledge is eternal."
- Big Brother Instinct: Subverted, albeit before the story. Varden hated his elven half-sister and didn't protect her from whatever it was the world threw at her before she went to Inverloch, which makes him feel protective of Lei'ella. He does meet his sister again and apologizes.
- Big Damn Kiss: At the end. Lei'ella and Varden kiss passionately after she decides not to live in Inverloch and he invites her to be his partner in crime.
- Black Cloak: Raul.
- Black Magic: Comes from "dark spirits" which are said to corrupt the mage using it. Neirenn seems able to resist it.
- Broken Angel: This is what's going on with the Severed, cut off from immortality and magic. It used to be rare, but now it's almost rare for an elf child not to be born with the condition. It is reversible, however.
- Broken Bird: Lei'ella. She's very cynical, probing Acheron's motives, mistrustful of others, and very angry at Kayn'dar when they confront him in the tower.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Varden falls completely asleep after only two mugs of ale.
- Characterization Marches On: Neirenn's tendency to make cryptic statements goes away after her introduction.
- Chekhov's Gunman:
- Shiara first thinks that Acheron is her friend Eron following her. Eron is Kayn'dar's brother and her friend, appearing in Volume 4 to stop her from leaving elven territory.
- The "unsightly half-elf" Eron mentions is Varden's half-sister Marynn, who shows up in the epilogue chapter.
- The Chosen One: Kayn'dar was believed to be this, having the appearance of the Severed but still able to use the rare gift of healing magic. It was a blow to the elves when he was abducted. And a coincidence, since neither Raul nor the da'kor knew how important he was. They just wanted any elf kid.
- Cliffhanger: Chapter 18 ends with Lei'ella dying of a knife wound and Neirenn saying that it's truly impossible for her to cast a healing spell. The cover/title for the next chapter is also a Red Herring. Acheron is able to heal her through the pendant.
- Crash-Into Hello: Neirenn meets Acheron this way.
- Creator Cameo: The girl who leads Acheron to the archmage's office is supposed to be Sarah Ellerton.
- Dead Guy Junior: Shiara and Kayn'dar name their son Acheron.
- Disappeared Dad: Acheron's father. We find much later that he was murdered by an elf.
- Dirty Business: Thief catching. It's capture or kill, and Lei'ella usually ends up killing—she's not fond of it, but it's a living.
- Disproportionate Retribution: It's implied that this is a result of the person being corrupted by dark magic. Raul wants to Sever all elves, which would cause the slow death of magic in the world, because the elves cheated him out of healing magic and the Academy disgraced him as a result.
- Dual Wielding: Lei'ella with knives.
- Dying Race:
- The da'kor, mostly thanks to their human neighbors and the apathy of their elven ones. Varden and Lei'ella eventually shuttle them to an uninhabited island to live in peace.
- The elves, to a lesser degree. They aren't dying, but more and more are being born mortal, which makes them little more than pointy-eared humans.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Compare the dark mage's appearance in the first pages to when he appears in Volume 4. Also, the initial design of Kayn'dar with an fur-lined evil cape is replaced with a simple Man in White.
- Fake Defector: Neirenn in the fight at the end, though it's not a straight play. She does intend for Silvah to kill Acheron and it looks as though she's turned traitor, but it's because doing so will put the right soul back in the right body.
- Fantastic Aesop: More or less boils down to "don't judge on appearances" with a larger "racism is bad."
- Fantastic Racism:
- None of the races like each other. Lei'ella has to go around constantly hooded to hide her ears and hair; anyone she revealed them to would reject her. The da'kor have it the worst. Living between elves and humans, they're gradually losing territory and their youth are killed or abducted for gladiator matches.
- Varden has a particular and personal dislike of elves. His mother left his father for an elf when he was a kid and he built up the prejudice over the years.
- Faux Action Girl: Lei'ella gets hyped up as a "thief-catcher", but most of the time she draws her knives she ends up bested. Varden offers an explanation later when she says that she was better than the thieves she fought—that's still not very good, because most thieves suck at fighting.
- The true nature of elven society is foreshadowed when Shiara's thoughts reveal that she doesn't think of Acheron as an equal. We later find out that it was Eron's idea to send Acheron on the quest and he calls Acheron her "pet" da'kor, telling her to quit worrying about if he's dead or not.
- "There never was or will be any other da'kor like you."
- Fragile Speedster: Both Varden and Lei'ella fight like this, although Varden's better at it.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Kayn'dar and Acheron.
- Furry: Cute goat-boy humanoid? Got it.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Varden. He dyes it so it won't show up at night. Notably, the blondness comes out after he's genuinely befriended the group and goes out of his way to save Acheron's life.
- Hates Baths: Varden only bathes under extreme circumstances—as in, "life-or-death fight followed by sewer trek" extreme. Turns out he has a good reason; it's to keep his hair dye from washing out.
- Heroic BSOD: Lei'ella goes a little catatonic during the prizefight storyline after seeing Acheron (fake) killed and then Varden for-real killing Berard. Although Berard had become an enemy, he was still the person she'd been closest to before Acheron.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Lei'ella dreams of ordinary things like getting married and raising a family thanks to her isolated and exiled existence.
- Immortality Begins at Twenty: Elves seem to age normally right up until they reach late teens or early twenties, then stop aging entirely. Except for the Severed, that is.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: How does Varden's hooded tunic/tabard thing work? He rips it up for bandages after the prizefight and wears a plain black shirt after that—Ellerton got sick of drawing it.
- Incest Is Relative: People in Aydensfell are all inbred to keep the magical genes strong. (According to Varden. Lei'ella prefers to think of it as a distasteful rumor.)
- Informed Ability: The Da'kor are said to be dangerous fighters, but all of the victorious fights they are in occur off-screen and the little fighting that occurs onscreen generally goes very badly for them. Doesn't help that we only see the ones besides Acheron at the beginning and the end.
- Is That What He Told You?: It seems that Acheron's family and mentor are in on a secret, but none of them wants to tell him the truth, Acheron is Kayn'dar in a da'kor body, while Kayn'dar's body holds Acheron's soul.
- It's All About Me: The elves as a society. They care nothing for the outside world, forbid their youth from leaving their territory, and exile those afflicted with mortality. It's their isolationism, arrogance, and callous disdain for other races that causes the spirit realm to withdraw from them, leading to the Severed elves.
- It's All My Fault: Varden, after initially denying it, blames himself for Acheron's capture by the fighting ring and takes it upon himself to fix it.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Acheron has a crush on Shiara, but undertakes a journey to find the boy she was in love with. Lei'ella examines his motives when she joins him, wondering if he subconsciously wants to confirm Kayn'dar's death so that Shiara would seek comfort in his arms. On the upside, he discovers that he technically is the boy she was in love with.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Varden, at least at first. He gets considerably less jerkish as the story goes on.
- Karma Houdini: Dark magic is repeatedly stated to be an evil and corrupting art. Neirenn suffers no repercussions for using it, not even right in front of Stonier.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The dark mage erased Kayn'dar's memories after placing his soul in Acheron's body.
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Neirenn drags Acheron off to get water so that Varden and Lei'ella can have a private talk after the stabbing. Doesn't stop her from coming back to eavesdrop, though.
- Loveable Rogue: Varden.
- Man in White: Silvah, the white-haired elf living in the old watchtower. He's a dark mage, a telepath, and it's clear that he's not speaking plainly. Not much of surprise that he's actually Kayn'dar corrupted by dark magic. Sort of.
- Minidress of Power: Lei'ella's uniform is a very short dress and a jacket. Ellerton eventually got tired of it and changed it to a more practical outfit after a good in-universe excuse.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The da'kor are wolf/goat/human hybrids.
- My Beloved Smother: Downplayed with Acheron's mum. She's more protective of him than his brother and he's considered wimpy compared to the typical aggressive young male, and she's clearly hiding some secret from him. The Reveal explains why.
- Mystical White Hair: Inverted with Severed elves. White hair marks them as mortal.
- Prefers Not To Hurt An Innocent: Silvah doesn't want to kill anyone and says so more than once both to Raul and the protagonists—his plans, while harmful, don't involve slaughter. It doesn't stop him from shooting a knife through Lei'ella on Raul's suggestion, but he still seems happy that she was healed afterward and refuses to go back and finish her off.
- Non-Action Guy: Acheron. He does get into a couple of altercations, but comes off the worse in them.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Acheron interrupts Lei'ella's when she starts to call Varden's claim of a "thieves' code"note a load of bull because Acheron wants to prove that a thief can be redeemed. The thieves' code is bull, having been abandoned years and years ago, and she has a discussion with him later about why he let himself be caught under that obvious fiction.
- Open-Minded Parent: Neirenn's dad readily agrees to let her go with Acheron's group, knowing that the Academy isn't much use teaching her and the reasons she wants to find Raul.
- Opposites Attract: Thief-catcher Lei'ella and thief-for-hire Varden, after their initial friction.
- Our Elves Are Better: A Wood/High Elf hybrid. They may live in the forest, but they act and dress like High Elves.
- Pink Means Feminine: Lei'ella's pink-hilted knives. Berard made them for her; she eventually gives them up for a couple of ordinary-looking ones.
- Poor Communication Kills: Nearly. Lei'ella attacks Varden for apparently killing Acheron in the prizefight, but he kept his plans secret because he knew she still didn't wholly trust him.
- Protective Charm: Kayn'dar had an amulet that was supposed to protect him, although it didn't save him from being kidnapped and it ends up with Acheron's uncle. It's still linked to Kayn'dar, and Acheron sometimes gets flashes of his memory through it. Kayn'dar put all of his memories into it when Raul swapped his soul with the real Acheron's.
- Punctuation Shaker: Da'kor. Kayn'dar. Lei'ella.
- The Promise: The adventure starts when Acheron promises to find Kayn'dar and bring him back to Shiara.
- Purple Prose: Shiara's description of Kayn'dar. Acheron's not impressed.
Shiara: He had the most beautiful snow white hair that flowed like liquid silver. And yellow eyes like the purest drops of gold...
Acheron: White hair. Yellow eyes. Got it.
- Rage Breaking Point: Silvah's indifference to the plight of the Severed pushes Lei'ella over the edge after having spent her entire life ostracized by both elves and humans. She unwisely attacks him and nearly dies.
- Reluctant Monster: Acheron. He doesn't fit in with other young males and thinks humans and elves have good reasons to hate the da'kor. Not so much after he's out in the world and starts being hit with the worst prejudice, though.
- Screw You, Elves!: Lei'ella, for one, does not approve of the elves' methods and decided she didn't want to live even in a community of Severed exiles. The more we learn about them, the more it's apparent that their society is run by a bunch of Jerkasses who only care about themselves.
- Sleep Cute: Varden falls sound asleep on Lei'ella's shoulder at one point.
- Spider-Sense: Elves can sense people, even Severed elves like Lei'ella. This is how she got her job as a thief-catcher. It's also why Raul and Silvah tried to kill her, fearing that she would detect the "Freaky Friday" Flip.
- Spock Speak: Lei'ella. Also lampshaded here.
- Squat's in a Name: Acheron is not named after the river of death in Greek mythology, but rather a town in Australia near Ellerton's home.
- Stalker with a Crush: Berard towards Lei'ella, quite sinister. She first tells it as turning down his marriage proposal and staying a thief-catcher while he turned to crme. The full story is that she changed her mind and agreed, but then he rejected her when she told him she was an elf. He kept following her and goes after Acheron as a way to hurt her, and attacks her when he sees her with Varden.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Kayn'dar and Lei'ella, when they return to Inverloch. Kayn'dar does stay in hopes of reforming the elves, but Lei'ella opts to remain mortal and joins human society with Varden, having spent so much of her life there and not wanting to tacitly support elven prejudice by "fixing" what made her different.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: Lei'ella, other white-haired elves. Rather an inversion; elves with these are special because they're Brought Down to Normal.
- That Man Is Dead: Silvah says this after the group calls him on his invented story of watching Kayn'dar killed by a dark mage, and says that Kayn'dar is just a broken shell of what he once was. Neirenn takes this to mean that he was corrupted by dark magic. What he really means is that Kayn'dar is in Acheron's body.
- The Magic Goes Away: This is what would eventually happen if all elves became Severed. Neirenn is horrified by the idea. Ultimately, it's prevented.
- The Reveal: The truth about Kayn'dar.
- Teen Genius: Neirenn.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Inverted with da'kor. Males are the only one with "hair" on top of their heads, which is probably some kind of mane.
- Tournament Arc: Subverted: the actual fight lasts only a few pages, despite the build-up.
- Uneven Hybrid: Human magic comes from elven ancestry. It's been a long time since humans and elves associated that closely, so present-day mages have a small percentage of elven DNA in them. (According to an old character page, Neirenn's prowess is because she's 1/5 elven.)
- We Need a Distraction: Varden has Lei'ella distract the inkeeper at Aydensfell so he can pay the room fee from the register, since Acheron took the money when he went to visit the archmage. She awkwardly flirts with the man before Varden steps in posing as her exasperated boyfriend.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Each character gets a page detailing what they did after the story ended.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Varden is completely terrified of magic. Neirenn takes advantage of this.
- Wretched Hive: Rhyll. The area within the outer wall is basically a de facto prison, as the guards won't let known criminals leave.
- You Killed My Father: Acheron briefly takes this attitude towards all elves when he learns that one killed his father, but he snaps out of it. On the other hand, Silvah—that is, the original Acheron—agrees to Raul's plan to sever all elves for this and never looks back.