Sette leads Duane around by a more literal leash than normal.
Consider it, Sette: If a tree could think thoughts, what might it value? Sette:
. Duane: Peace
. Peace in which to thrive and grow. Acutely empathic, the beast will with hostility
react to your hostility. Entreat it peacefully
, however, and it will in like fashion answer. Sette:
Ugh, walky roots are STOOPID critters.
— Chapter 1
is a Fantasy Webcomic
by Ashley Cope set in a world quite unlike our own, containing multi-faceted cultures with deep and dark histories, strangely different laws of physics, and magic so commonplace
it's called by a different name
The main story revolves around rude, loud-mouthed Sette Frummagem
, daughter of the Lord of Thieves. Sette is on a mission from her Da', and she'll lie, cheat, and steal to make sure it's a success (she'll lie, cheat, and steal anyway). Condemned to aid her in her rotten endeavours is a rotten corpse by the name of Duane Adelier, who seems oddly talented with the supernatural
, and oddly not laying motionless in the dirt
Events are quickly complicated by the appearance of the "Red Berry Boys", a gang of criminals who at first appear to be simple slavers, but are soon discovered to have a stranger and much more disturbing agenda. That agenda appears to have an uncanny number of connections to Sette's mission, and as such Sette inadvertently finds herself wrapped up in their schemes. It's not long before she and Duane are in over their heads and under fire from all sides. Priorities change from just carrying out her appointed task to living to see the next sunrise.
The road is long and no one is what they seem. Never trust a thief, and never trust anyone who won't let you look into their eyes.
The author has also written supplemental prose stories in the same universe, which can be found here.
Provides Examples Of:
- Abomination Accusation Attack: Duane tells Sette he wants nothing more than to put her over his knee. She calls him a "child-lover"; to which he responds that she'd cure anyone of such a perversion.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: Mikaila and her father are brutally mugged and murdered on her birthday.
- Achilles' Heel / Anti-Magic: For some reason, pymary doesn't work over large expanses of water, such as the ocean.
- "First Materials", leftovers from when the gods created the world (or so the religions claim), are separate from the khert, and are therefore immune to magical manipulation.
- This immunity also allows them to disrupt pymary if they pass through the khert lines a wright is using.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Ephsephin, who, after being poisoned, begs his boss, Starfish, for a doctor. Starfish instead decides his mook has outlived his usefulness and bashes his brains in with a whiskey bottle.
- All There in the Manual: Sort of. There's a ton of miscellaneous information about the setting and characters on Ashley's Formspring and her wiki.
- Animals Hate Him: As noted by Duane about himself. Possibly because he's dead.
- Anthropomorphic Food: If the khert is broken, strange things happen. Like your cup of coffee freezing and suddenly wanting to be your friend.
- Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Perceptive glamours work this way; they make people perceive something in a certain way, but the specifics of that perception varies by individual. Duane looks different to everyone he meets, for instance.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Here (spoilery). And also here (even more spoilery).
Toma: We can conclude dismemberment is habitual for him. He eats people too.
Elka: Plus he didn't make his bed. Tch, what an asshole.
- Artificial Limbs: Lost an arm? No problem. There's a whole range of simulacra. Including cigar-lighting and self-lubricating.
- Art Shift:
- Author Catch Phrase: Kind of. Ashley's typical response to people asking spoiler-y or story-related questions on her Formspring is simply "I wonder."
- Auto Cannibalism: Murkoph does this to feed himself in the absence of other food sources. Due to his Healing Factor he can do this indefinitely.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Duane and Sette may spend the majority of their time together loudly complaining about each others unpleasant personalities and how much they wish to be rid of each others company, but a strong parental bond lies underneath it. Evidence for this pops up frequently.
- Background Magic Field: The khert.
- Bacon Addiction: Yum, turtle bacon.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Coupled with Belly Buttonless, and apparently in-story:
From author comment: "Legality"? I would never let issues of legality effect what I draw. Sette looks the way she looks because that's how she's supposed to look.
- Big Bad: Thus far, Starfish seems to fit the bill, though it is fairly clear that he's small fry in the grand scheme of things.
- Bigger Bad: Stockyard, until chapter 9 when Sette confronts him directly. However, this comes with the reveal that he is, himself, small fry, and that there are even Bigger Bads afoot. There are also hints that someone named "Delicieu", a member of the Black Tongues, is heading the Red Berry Boys operation.
- Big Damn Heroes: A couple... but most recently, Jivi and Uaid's entrance during an incredibly hopeless situation for Mathis Quigley and his son takes the cake.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Sette.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Murkoph trying to talk his way out of the khert:
Murkoph: "I g-gotta get out... and do ch-charitable, philanthropic works, y'know. Soup kitchens. O-orphans. Orphan soup..."
- Breaking In Old Habits: See Artificial Limbs above.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: ...Possibly. In this page, Sette stares at the camera while thinking "Is someone there?", which could be interpreted as her detecting the presence of the reader. Such a thing certainly isn't unprecedented at that point.
- Word of God says that the scene is intentionally left vague, and that it's up to the reader to decide whether or not Sette's truly breaking the fourth wall.
- Brick Joke: "We have Gentle-Giant summon pymarics on clearance for 17 sem!" Now, go way back to chapter 2 — how much did Bett say that summon beast cost again?
- Butt Monkey: Ephsephin.
- The Brute: Ephsephin.
- This has been handed off to Knock-Me-Down after Ephsephin's death.
- Call Back:
Duane: Shall we dub it Settetania?
- Canis Major: "The giant dogs represent the defeat of leisure and fealty by the capitalist demands of poorly compensated labourĖ haha, no, thatís a lie. Who doesnít like giant dogs?"
- Catapult Nightmare: Averted here.
- The Chain of Harm: Mathis Quigley gets insulted by Starfish, and later takes it out on his son. To be fair, he's under a lot of pressure, since Starfish may "forget" to pay him.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The exploding mechanical mousetraps Jivi uses in his first appearance are later slipped into Ephsephin's whiskey, which blow apart when they're inside him, giving Jivi a chance to escape captivity.
- A woman trying to get her dog magically reddened is warned that any more enchantment could "damage the khert," but what this means is not explained, and it seems unimportant to the main plot. Until several strips later, that is, when Sette does just that.
- Chekhov's Gag: They need a soundproof room. He's gonna be loud.
- Cluster S Bomb: Ephsephin.
Ephsephin: YOU SHIT! YOU SHIT! I'LL- I'LL S-SHITTING SHIT YOUR SHIT TIL YOU... CAN'T SHIT!
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The major-character wrights have a particular color attached to most of their spells: Duane's are green, Quigley's are blue, and Anadyne's are purple. When they steal each other's spells, though, the colors can get mixed or rearranged. And Duane's spells seem to turn red when things get serious.
- Cultured Badass: Duane. Also Quigley.
- Curse Cut Short: Subverted here.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Duane is one of the walking dead. He is also arguably one of the most decent people in the comic.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: The Silver or Renghul caste of Alderode all have dark skin and silver hair in addition to blue eyes.
- The Dead Have Eyes: Duane's eyes may be artificial pymarics, but they look realistic enough for the trope to apply to his un-glamoured face.
- Death Glare: Sette aims a pretty vicious one at Duane here.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Bigotry abounds in the world of Unsounded, even in the majority of the 'good' characters.
- Dissonant Serenity: Starfish, here (spoilers).
- Disposable Woman: Quigley's wife Vienne, a Posthumous Character who exists primarily to be his Cynicism Catalyst.
- Also, Duane's daughter Mikaila, whose death is used largely to evoke sympathy for Duane.
- Distressed Damsel: Sette rants at a sister-brother pair (even calling them "stupid damsels in distress") who were being menaced by some ruffians because they didn't do anything. In their defense, the sister did actually try to fend them off with a sharp "rat-poker" immediately before Duane and Sette arrive at the scene.
- Dropping the Bombshell: During a One Scene, Two Monologues moment, Sette gets Duane's attention by screaming "I saw the Crescians kill you and Mikaila!"
- Early-Bird Cameo: Characters from Ashley's Deviantart Gallery have a habit of showing up in the comic, like Timofey Gafkovich in chapter 6.
- Easter Egg: Some pages have additional bits "hidden" on them, usually in the form of a text bonus (in-universe newspapers, letters, journal entries, etc.)
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Ephsephin worries about being caught because they'll hang him in the town square where his mother will see.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
is a branch've roguery even Da don't abide.
- Exact Words: "Kill me? A perplexing command."
- Eye Scream: Duane's assassins stab his eyes out with a dagger.
- The Faceless/In the Hood: Duane seems to have some kind of face underneath that hood, but 99 percent of the time the upper half of his head is blacked out by his hood. According to Word of God, the glamour that makes his face look normal is broken by eye contact, so naturally, he needs something to cover his eyes. This is the reason why we only see what he really looks like when we can also see his eyes.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: If you thought Ephsephin getting his brains smashed out was bad, just wait until Zombie-Duane shreds Turas apart and messily devours half of him. Both of these get a Gory Discretion Shot; but in the latter case, Sette walks in on the aftermath, which is shown in gruesome detail.
- Fantastic Racism: Aldish society is divided into People of Hair Color.
"Caste diversity equals Aldish strength. Caste purity equals Aldish power."
- Fantastic Slur: "Pissmop" is one for Souds, an Aldish caste identified by their blonde hair.
- "Insect" is one for the short-lived Hethllot. Quigley rebels against this by giving his custom spells insect themes.
- Fantasy: Quite. Beyond that, however, it doesn't readily fit into any of the subgenres. It could probably be best described as "Low Fantasy, high magic".
- Fat Bastard: Starfish.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Duane could feel himself rotting after he became a galit. This is on top of all the other horrific things he has to deal with as part of being a zombie. In addition to that, zombies are a blasphemous abomination in his religion, so it's the rough equivalent of a devout Christian being turned into a slavering Satanic demon.
- Fictional Document: The author cheekily claims that she has lots of information on the setting, but much of isn't in English and she hasn't scanlated it all.
- Fingore: Sette does not appreciate condescension.
- Flashback Cut: Used to show Duane's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in chapter 7, here. Technically counts as a Flashback Within a Flashback, too, as chapter 7 is a Whole Episode Flashback.
- Also used to show what happened after Duane's reanimation, here.
- Flat "What.": Duane's reaction to his daughter Mikaila asking him if he thinks "Will is cute".
- This is also Quigley's reaction to Starfish calling him useless in chapter 6.
- Forced to Watch: Chitz, Matty's sight aid, can't be turned off. So, just For the Evulz, Starfish holds it in such a way that Matty is forced to watch Anadyne attempt to kill his father.
- For Science!: The hat of the Black Tongues, spellwrights who want the freedom to practice pymary however they want. Some work for the betterment of mankind; some dismantle infants.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: Sette and Duane are ostensibly the "main" viewpoint characters and do get most of the screentime, but the Crescian Peaceguard, the Red Berry Boys, and Jivi also have their own plot threads, and the story often alternates between them as well.
- Frame Break: Particularly momentous events spill over the sides of the comic.
- From a Certain Point of View: Subverted. Though she sees it as this, Sette outright lied and misled Duane to get him closer to Cresce than he would normally have agreed to.
- Functional Magic: Sorcerers are called "wrights" (short for "spellwright"). Seems accessible enough that one of the mooks could use it while reading an instruction manual. Specifically, pymary is Rule Magic — it's controlled by speaking a Language of Magic with lots of rules and limitations that must be strictly adhered to.
- Funetik Aksent: Sette's occasionally incomprehensible accent is a source of reader rage.
- Funny Background Event:
- Genre Savvy:
- Duane demonstrates this before a pair of slavers, predicting their fates due to their role in the story.
- Gentle Giant: Uaid, the giant hollowed-out hill ogre of the Quigleys.
- Ghost Shipping: Fans are quick to point out the potential of a romantic relationship between Sette and Duane, or at least a father/daughter one.
- Gorn: Cope really loves her gore. The gore does tend to be more for dramatic or horrifying purposes than pure excitement, but it does dip into this occasionally.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Sneaking into Duane's room to kidnap Sette is a bad idea. Would have been a Sound-Only Death if not for the soundproofing.
- Green Rocks: "First" versions of various materials, supposedly from when the gods created the world. They're required to craft pymarics, as they're the only objects that can hold a permanent enchantment.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Starfish beats a wounded Ephsephin to death with a wine bottle.
- Grumpy Bear: Rahm Pipa, self-described "meanest man in town".
- Guilt by Coincidence: Duane and Sette are mistaken for members of the Red Berry Boys while investigating an RBB hideout.
- Hair Antennae: Sette seems to have somewhat downplayed ones.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: A Mook chasing Duane is killed in this manner.
- Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Due to pymary's limitations, healing with it is difficult and it can't accomplish much more than mundane medical techniques.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: While witnessing her father being beaten to death by thugs, Mikaila attempts to stun them with a flashbang spell. This does work as intended...but as the thugs flail around blindly, they stab her by mistake.
- Horror Hunger: Duane and his metaphorical snake. Luckily he has it (mostly) under control.
- Horse of a Different Color: Giant dogs are put to work as draft animals in Kasslyne, as well as transport.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- A Love Hotel receptionist is grossed out by Turas participating in a (fake) sexual roleplay. It's also a bit of hypocritical humor on the author's part, since she roleplayed the Unsounded universe for a long time. The same receptionist can be seen reading an Interspecies Romance novel while squicking over Sette pretending to be Duane's lover.
Vera (love hotel receptionist): The deviants are always roleplayers. Now, did you want Octopus Alley or the Squid Suite?
- And there's this.
Iori: If I ever meet the two-toe that did that to you I'll knock its teeth out!
Jivi: I hit him with a stool.
Iori: Well, violence is never the answer.
- Duane espousing the virtues of peaceful diplomacy and level-headed negotiation shortly after punching a politician in the face. Lemuel calls him out on this.
- Inept Mage: One of the Red Berry Boys, Bette, casts spells by reading them directly out of a book with no understanding of the underlying principles, and Duane finds it trivial to seize control of his pymary. Duane's daughter Mikaila also makes a number of dangerous mistakes, although the fact that she's doing it at all at her age shows she has an aptitude for it.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. Kids have no special protection in Unsounded. Besides the numerous off-screen deaths caused by the Red Berry Boys, we have to witness the deaths of Cara and Duane's daughter Mikaila.
- Infinite Canvas: Makes liberal use of this, sometimes altering aspects of the website's background as well; see Painting the Medium, below. A notable example is a point where Sette falls through the page.
- In Medias Res: Chapter 1 starts with Sette and Duane already in the middle of their journey.
- Intended Audience Reaction: Word of God explicitly says that Murkoph is designed to be as vile and hateable as possible, so the readers who despise him are perfectly justified in doing so.
- Interrupted Suicide: Quigley in Orphans, twice.
- In Which a Trope Is Described: The subtitle of every chapter takes this format. For example,
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: The correct Aldish pronunciation of Duane's name is doo-AHN (rhyming with you-GONE), but Sette makes a point of saying DWAYNE (rhyming with "rain"), mostly just to get his goat.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Plods are usually referred to as "it" and intentionally given as few identifying features as possible to avoid the Uncanny Valley effect. And Stockyard reveals his true colors when he refers to Duane as "it" in conversation.
And your Da earning a queen's ransom getting it back where it goes.
- Jerk Ass Woobie: Ephsephin. After getting thrashed by Duane and Sette multiple times... and then Captain Toma... you can't help but feel bad for him. Especially since he's made it clear that he's more or less a Punch Clock Villain that's Just Following Orders.
Ephsephin: I hate today.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Quigley's with the Red Berry Boys for the money, but he is completely against their brutal treatment of children and still cares for his son.
- Kick the Dog:
- Kill the Cutie: Both Cara and even more heartrendingly Mikaila, right in front of her father no less suffer this.
- Lad-ette: Elka. Sette also counts as a pre-pubescent version.
- Lame Comeback: Sette is a master at these. "Your face" seems to be her favorite.
- Language of Magic: Old Tainish, which is what wrights speak their incantations in. It's said that it was the language the gods used to shape the world, so by speaking it yourself, you can tap into that same power. Naturally, though, you have to be careful and very specific with your language, otherwise the spell may just blow up your organs.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Murkoph to Sette in the khert, after an in-universe flashback to Duane's life.
Sette: Wh-what's going on?!
Murkoph: Flashback. Dream sequence. Hallucinatory rrrrrevelation. Who put the little girl in the lead? Where's the plot-hole you came in through, darlin'?
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: Letters written by a researcher who's found Duane's journal are inserted here and there, implying that the comic is (possibly) pieced together from his and other accounts.
- Little Bit Beastly: Sette's tail, extremely sharp teeth and ability to smell magic suggest she's not entirely human, and in her dad's gang this leads people to speculate that she's not really his.
- Lizard Folk: Called "two-toes" here, named after the fact that they have, well, two toes. They're pretty small compared to humans though. They used to be subterranean, so they have poor sight and hearing but excellent senses of smell, making them useful as trackers.
- Love Hotels: Sette takes Duane to a Crescian equivalent, and manages to squick the attendant enough that she just slides the key across the counter.
- Luminescent Blush: Duane does this here (especially in the lower-left panel), looking ridiculously cute in the process.
- Made from Real Girl Scouts: Cannibal pie!
- Madness Mantra: A question on his Formspring resulted in Duane giving an answer that ended in a particularly heart-wrenching one of these. Could also count as a Survival Mantra.
- Mad Scientist: The Black Tongues (or "Ilganyag") are a group of lawless pymary researchers limited only by their imaginations and their own morals. Some are sane, kind individuals who honestly want to aid humanity in their pursuits, but others are... less scrupulous.
Rahm (a Black Tongue himself): The Black Tongues are one brotherhood but each of us act independently. Some seek to better the world through pymary; dismantle the woes of humanity! Others dismantle infants.
- Magic by Any Other Name: Pymary. Justified, though; see Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, below.
- Magic Is Mental: Using it requires fluency in an archaic language and precise mathematical calculations.
- Magic Knight: Duane is not only an exceptionally skilled wright but skilled with a Simple Staff as well. According to his Formspring account, when he was a military commander, he trained all the wrights under his command in weapon skills as well in order to defy Squishy Wizard.
- Magitech: Pymarics. Usually of the bionic (replicating living creatures) variety. Due to how the magic system works, they can only be made out of special materials. Word of God explains in a colourful metaphor here.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: The reader might notice from the very first flashback images of Sette's "Da" Nary-A-Care that he lacks a tail and mouthful of sharp teeth. While we don't know what her mother looked like, it's been said that Sette is unique among the Frummagems, let alone the rest of the world, raising questions regarding her paternity. Sette comments briefly on a rumor about this, and seems inwardly concerned that she isn't Nary's daughter by blood. She is, however, determined to prove herself by merit.
- The Man Behind the Man: Stockyard is secretly helping Starfish and the Red Berry Boys.
- Master of Illusion: Sort of. The illusory arts are Duane's favourite type of pymary, not necessarily because of practical application, but because of the artistic possibilities. He's still better at combat spells, though.
- Meaningful Echo: Jivi's spectacular entrance echoes words from much earlier in the comic.
- Mind Screw: In chapter 7. It starts when Sette falls through the page, and only gets weirder from there.
- Mistress and Servant Boy: Sette and Duane, with the twist that the mistress is prepubescent.
- Mood Dissonance: Duane's idealistic speech about waging war with honor and decency is contrasted with pictures of his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. "Only in Alderode are we free", indeed.
- Motif Of Harmful Sensation: The weeping plague is spread by eye contact.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sette frees Murkoph from a supernatural prison after he promises to help her escape. Turns out that was a bad idea, because he's enough of a psychopath to put Starfish to shame.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Duane suffered one in the past as punishment for striking a politician. Parts of it are shown via Flashback Cut here.
- No Pronunciation Guide: A commonly-asked question on Ashley's Formspring is the pronunciation of the characters' names. A guide to the two protagonists' names can be found here however.
- The Nose Knows: Sette.
- Oblivious Adoption: Sette mightn't be as oblivious as some, but she wants to believe she's her father's daughter. Despite the tail.
- Odd Couple: He's an elegant lich sorcerer. She's the foul-mouthed child of a thief king. Together, they... walk across a continent.
- Oh, Crap: Couldn't have said better myself, Ephsephin.
- Turas gets one when he finds himself locked in a room with Duane, who reveals his true appearance by taking off his hood.
- Oh My Gods!: Averted in the case of one religion, played straight in another. Ssaelit are monotheist, and so use "God" in the same way Judeo-Christians do for the most part. The Gefendur, being polytheists, have more unique religious exclamations.
- One Scene, Two Monologues: In chapter 8, after Duane realizes he is in Cresce, he goes on a self-righteous tirade while at the same time Sette rambles about her time in the khert. This is represented by the speech bubbles overlapping each other.
- Older Than They Look: Plats in general, but their lifespans are incredibly short.
- Origins Issue: Chapter 7, composed primarily of a Whole Episode Flashback detailing Duane's life when he was alive, including the events that led to his death and reanimation.
- The supplemental story Orphans is this for Quigley, detailing his time with the Black Tongues and establishing some of his motivations.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Called vliegeng.
- Our Liches Are Different: Duane fits this better than any other typical undead creature (though even then it's not a perfect fit, as he does not seem to have a Soul Jar); he has retained complete sentience despite being identical to an ordinary plod in most other respects. This appears to be a quite rare (if not unique) condition; Duane somehow maintaining his intelligence after his death and reanimation is evidently quite strange.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Actually something of a return to the original voodoo-zombie tradition. The "plods" of the East are corpses that were deliberately reanimated with pymary, and are widely used as a cheap source of slave labor. They are considered quite ordinary in the countries that "employ" them; making a mindless magical meat-puppet do punishing work for days at a time is said to be a more humane practice than enslaving living, feeling humans.
- Painting the Medium: Characters lean across the comic borders, and some explosions leave debris across the page. The pages are made to look like a torn up notebook.
- People of Hair Color: The people of Alderode have demonyms derived from their hair colors, such as Coppers, Silvers and Plats.
- Pet the Dog:
- Platonic Prostitution: Duane spends time with the prostitutes of the Nevergreen by reading poetry to them. The prostitutes' response is to fall asleep from boredom. However, two of them are horrified when they see him getting tortured, so they must have liked him somewhat.
- Please Keep Your Hat On: There's a reason Duane always has his hood up.
- The Pollyanna: Young Matty Quigley. According to his bio on the cast page, "Three years ago Matty was struck blind but he still manages to see most silver linings."
- Powers as Programs: Manipulation of the khert is (according to Word of God, intentionally) very similar to manipulation of a programming language, to the point where a sufficiently interested hobbyist, amateur, and/or child can get pretty far with the right simple commands. (For example, a lot of glamours basically amount to swapping the textures or sound files for two different objects.) Twins save you if you botch up a command, though...
- Punch Clock Villain: Most of Starfish's employees, since none of them can measure up to his horrible bastardness. Except maybe Cutter.
- Really 700 Years Old: Implied for the Shadwe, who says Duane is "the finest wright I have seen in centuries."
- All Jets and Coppers are potentially like this, due to their incredibly long lifespans.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Quigley reportedly went on one of these after the government killed his wife Vienne, blinded Matty and confiscated Uaid the construct. He strapped Matty to his back and attacked the municipal office in a suicide run...which he managed to survive.
- Royal Brat: Sette, by virtue of being a crime-king's daughter.
- Schedule Slip: Actually inverted on some occasions, where multiple pages will be posted in one day.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Murkoph, who is trapped in the khert, imprisoned by his own memories. Sette frees him.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: All the Aldish characters that have appeared so far seem prone to using vastly more complicated sentences and words than most of the other characters, though Duane is especially heavy on the long-winded Shakespearian dialogue, even compared to his fellow Aldishmen.
- Murkoph shares this trait, although in a much more crude manner.
- Shaping Your Attacks: Gruftgrammer Quigley enjoys manifesting his pymary in the form of swarms of insects (appropriately named Swarm), due to 'insect' being a very common insult to the short-lived Plats.
- Most wrights do this to a certain extent — their pymary can be tinted any colour they choose (for example, Duane likes to use green and gold).
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Sette can pull off the polished look if she puts in the effort, which she rarely does.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The flashback to Duane's life as a non-undead man with a wife and children is both this and Foregone Conclusion, especially for Mikaila, who gets quite a bit of character development before her sudden Impaled with Extreme Prejudice death at the hands of thugs who weren't even trying to kill her.
- Simplified Spellcasting: Tacit casting, i.e. casting without the verbal component. Duane is unusually adept at this.
- Sir Swearsalot: Sette is as vulgar as you'd expect for a child raised by thieves, but never goes beyond a PG-13 rating (unlike the villains, who drop F-bombs).
Duane: Betimes the words that pour out your young mouth send chills through me.
- Small Annoying Creature: Sette.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Beautifully subverted here.
- Starcrossed Lovers: Duane and a fellow student at the academy, Sarthos, as detailed in the side story Interior Emanations. Firstly because a relationship with anyone outside your caste is an extreme social taboo — and secondly because Sarthos, as a Third Option (see below), is legally a man.
- Sticky Fingers: Sette.
- Strip Buffer: In a tumblr post, it's revealed that Ms Cope keeps a buffer of at least fifty pages.
- Stripperiffic: If this image is anything to go by, the clothing of the Crescian nobility (male and female) is elaborate, colorful and very revealing.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: According to Word of God, the reason magic is called "pymary" and not "magic" is because "magic" implies something unknown or mystical. This is not the case with pymary; it is a common fact of life and essential part of society. It's even taught in schools!
- Suicide by Cop: Quigley attempts this (and fails) at the end of Orphans.
- Supernatural Sensitivity: Sette's olfactory talents extend to being able to smell magic.
- Take a Third Option: What happens if you're a woman in Alderode who isn't content with being a housewife, and wants to partake in a role normally only filled by men? Become a literal Third Option! Specifically, agree to be sterilized, bind your breasts and dress and act like a man in every way. If you do well, you'll be allowed to stay in your role, and eventually even marry (another woman) and adopt children! Just be prepared for more than a little discrimination along the way...and if you don't manage to prove yourself, you'll be exiled by your society.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Averted hilariously by Duane and Ephsephin's second brawl when the former gives his eloquent Let's Get Dangerous speech. Cue facepalm from Sette.
- Tap on the Head: Subverted. When Starfish subdues Quigley through this method, he is only knocked unconscious for half a minute at most.
- There Was a Door: Jivi piloting Uaid.
- Title Drop:
- Not the name of the comic itself, but a chapter, here.
- The comic's title is dropped in the Interior Emanations side story — Duane expresses a desire to "sound the unsounded."
- The title of that side story is also dropped, as the name of the paper Duane and his new friend Sarthos are writing. In universe, it is a reference to their theories on the inner workings of pymary and, out of universe (though Duane manages to make some connections himself in story), a reference to the side story's themes of personal character and skill being more than what appears on the surface.
- Tomboy: Take a wild guess.
- Tonight Someone Dies: The chapter preview for chapter 6 claims that "not everyone will live to see the sunrise." Subverted in that two people die — Ephsephin midway through, and Turas at the very end.
- Translation Punctuation: The comic uses angle brackets when translating Tainish to Continental. However, lines spoken in Tainish are occasionally left untranslated. Translations of these lines can be found in the series wiki.
- Trolling Creator: Ashley loves to claim that she's going to kill off Matty (and, more recently, Quigley) next update/chapter/etc. However, he's still alive and well...thus far.
"Iíve long planned on gruesomely killing off Matty but maybe I should move his date of execution up. PULL YOUR WEIGHT, BOY."
- Troubled Backstory Flashback:
- Glimpses of Sette's life at home are occasionally shown in dark, damaged, and obscured panels, suggesting that her dear ol' Da is not a great guy, contrary to what she claims him to be.
- Quigley gets one in chapter 6.
- Duane's tragic backstory is revealed in chapter 7.
- Urine Trouble: Sette startles Matty while he's using the bucket in his prison cell. Startled, his aim slips upwards to the barred window Sette is talking though.
- Villainous Breakdown: Ephsephin does not take the events of chapter 5 well.
- We Are as Mayflies:
- Inverted with the Plats. They're fairly supernatural, having an increased affinity towards the khert (or something), which gives them heightened magical abilities. However, this also causes them to age very rapidly, so they can only live up to about 30.
- Inverted in a different way with the Coppers, who are notoriously awful wrights, but very long-lived.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 2: The Red Berry Boys — "In Which Bad Guys Ruin Everyone's Good Time"
- Wham Line:
Stockyard: 'Course [I know what Duane is]! A fancy new plod got away from its master, eh? And your Da earning a queen's ransom getting it back where it goes.
- When Trees Attack: The Mamalen Entak (Wandering Root) was the antagonist of the first chapter. Bittersweet portrayal.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The majority of chapter 7 is a flashback to Duane's life before he became a zombie. The beginning of the chapter has a few unrelated scenes that advance the present-day plotline, however.
- Wizard Duel: Duane and Quigley in chapter 5. By the end, though, it turns into an all-out brawl as Quigley starts breaking rules with abandon, culminating in him calling a powerful summon beast.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- The Red Berry Boys. And not just a child but children, plural. And they seem to delight in it, except for Quigley, who leaves the Red Berry Boys' service for this exact reason, and rejoins only due to a heftier reward.
- Starfish especially has been confirmed by Wordof God to be a pedophile.
- Murkoph has taken a bite out of Sette.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A critically wounded Ephsephin begs Starfish for a doctor. Instead, he decided to put him out of his misery...gleefully.