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Literature / Dead West

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Dead West is a peculiar little web novel series (in Hungarian), it was available for a short time only for a few people. The author was discouraged by her family, so she took it off. Still, it was an intriguing storyline with a rich, well-developed world.

In an alternate Earth, Aristocrats - psychic people with possibly Nephilim origins (?) rule most of the western world, Africa, and Asia. The New World, America, has been recently explored, and since it's ruled by magic, created much of a shock. It also makes commoners less than pleased when the Aristocrats flock to the new, resourceful continents, and creates a clash with the natives, who in turn start to raise the dead Westerners to take revenge. What the Natives think of as a perfect countermeasure nowadays is a normal, if annoying thing. A new nation starts to rise, but there is not only gold hidden there...


Our protagonist and narrator is Gervas Klarenfeld, a commoner journalist, who (inspired by some popular stories) travels to the New World to become a hero. His resolution quickly changes, even before reaching there, as on the steamer he meets a mysterious young doctor...

Psychic aristocrats, magic, zombies and monsters in a steampunk-themed picaresque setting.

The series contained four novels: Porcelain, Steel, Gold and Diamond, each referring to a layer of Arc Words.


Dead West provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alternate History: Seems to be mostly similar to our own, but significant persons (e.g. Jesus) are all aristocrats, and Britain always had a queen since the victorious rebel of Boudica. Africa had lost all of its magic/ruling aristocrats in a rumble that degraded the paradise kingdom to the Sahara, and Asia experiences a transition from magic to psychic/tech. It is the age of Steam. North America is slowly invaded by Europeans as most of its population was wiped out by a massive war and plague, and South America is mostly occupied by animals, since something killed all people there. Australia seems to have won the lottery with a society formed by the strongest commoners, a few nicer aristocrats, and magicians. Japan is closed from Westerners by magic, but it seems that there are quite a few aristocrats, too.
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  • All Myths Are True: Or at least inspired by existing life forms or abilities. Merlin was the first Westerner wizard who decided to subject himself to an Aristocrat without any struggle. Jesus was an aristocrat king with truly exceptional abilities, and most likely possessed a psychic crystal, which was given him by an angel. Several exceptionally gifted aristocrats (and the Porcelain Doctor himself) end up as Warrior or Soothing Saints.
  • Arc Words : Porcelain body, steel soul, golden heart, diamond will. It is used to describe the young doctor, and has a Meaningful Echo in every single novel.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: played straight with most of the Aristocrats. They are the ruling class for a reason. Several, upsetting, psychic reasons.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Gervas and Niall. This is good for both of them since the Porcelain Doctor has trouble keeping his balance without his cane or buffing himself with his abilities first, and they can take care of each other's opponents with different styles. Mostly, Gervas shoots and beats up the ones who are too close to them, and Niall destroys everything he can reach with his swords, while protecting themselves with his abilities. Mostly demonstrated in fights against the shamblers or in Africa when not on the battlefield. Gervas notes that they pulled this off pretty well, in Battle Couple-style, even for the first time. He theorizes that receiving the similarly outlined education and dance lessons might have helped, although it seems that with his Oath he synchronized with his friend.
  • Badass Boast: this is done by Gervas Klarenfeld with two calm sentences. He just met his best friend's overbearing Four-Star Badass Knight Templar Big Brother, and there is a fight approaching. As the Porcelain Doctor is a medic, he cannot fight without an explicit attack first, so our narrator quickly promises to fight instead of him. Cedric, the older MacArkill starts to make threats for what might happen to our beloved Prussian if his little brother suffers even a minor scratch, but Gervas calmly interrupts him. "I am sorry, your Grace, but the enemy seems to be approaching fast. We will discuss your pastimes involving the deceased later." Cue to a smirk and Cedric stating that he rather likes "this doberman", and Gervas don't even have to sleep in the kennel if he survives this.
    • Niall has one when someone made the mistake to hurt Gervas. "I am Scottish. I am a doctor. And I am going to break my oath."
  • Badass Bookworm: The honorable Sir Niall Mordechai Calloway MacArkill, the Porcelain Doctor. He walks with a cane. Said cane hides a sword. He can use it.
  • Badass in Distress: The Porcelain Doctor was kidnapped once, by a Scottish ex-soldier, in Porcelain. He lost his glasses in the process, got hit several times, and was threatened with dismemberment. He was otherwise assaulted, too, and judging from a few words, the soldier molested him. So by the time Gervas and the Merry Company arrives, the good doctor has already burned through his binds, ignited a few idiots with an offered brandy, scared off most of them, but not before he made one to hand him his cane, then put a sword through his kidnapper's stomach.
  • Badass Normal: Gervas. He is a Genius Bruiser in sharp clothes and keeps up with most of the Aristocrats even with the Beast! The Merry Company may also qualify.
  • Battle Butler and Ninja Maid: The servants of the MacArkill family.
  • The Berserker: the two MacArkills, and even possibly the Amber Duchess. This is more believeable from the elder MacArkill, nicknamed the Beast, who is absolutely built for it, but when the Porcelain Doctor has a meltdown, it is an impossible sight to behold. Mind you, the smaller brother is still 6 foot tall, but thin as a stick. This does zero to diminish the ensuing carnage.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gervas to a lesser extent; he is perfectly polite and usually jovial, but he can bend a two-inch steel bar with his bare hands, and if you annoy him, he will make you a nice and tightly fitted cravat from said steel. The Porcelain Doctor combines this with Beware the Quiet Ones. He is calm, collected, soft voiced, blushes like a girl and if not disturbed, just sits quietly, reading something. But if you push his Berserk Button, you better run. He is not a royal knight for just looking good, and by the ripe age of 22 (which is not even legal age in this setting), he is a revered war hero, and received several medals for his medical services on battlefields... oh, and for single-handedly defending the lazaretums on said battlefield. Several times. Alone. With a very pronunced limp. His nicknames include the Aog (death), and Two Angels (one for mercy, one for death).
  • Big Brother Instinct: The Porcelain Doctor commonly inspires this in almost everyone, or turns the more sensitive ones into Papa Wolf or Mama Bear. It annoys him to no end, as he is perfectly capable to take care of himself, thankyouverymuch. It's caused by his aura, called "the Devil's Veil". Normally, it shows him pretty frail and inspires protective instincts and love in the affected. He cannot turn it off most of the times, and when the Devil's Veil is off, he is terrifying.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Several times. Most of the times, we have Translation Convention for languages our narrator speaks (it is quite necessary, as they are using several languages even within the same conservation, if they want to discuss something discreetly in the presence of others), but sometimes there is no such thing. You have to know Scottish Gaelic to enjoy these, but they are mostly funny (like the Beast affectionally calling his baby brother a "worm").
    • The terms for aristocratic abilities are kept Latin.
  • Blessed with Suck: Aristocrats. Or Cursed with Awesome, it depends. Their gifts are slowly killing their brains, and they easily become addicted to the rush of using said powers. This results in most of the powerful aristocrats dying young, or relatively young. But they have Psychic Powers paired with Heroic Build, and since they have the money, they are usually well-educated. This means they are still the ruling class.
    • In-universe, Niall's aura, the Devil's Veil, is seen as this. Anyone affected by his aura views the Porcelain Doctor as the most precious, fragile and innocent thing ever, and it induces Big Brother Instinct big time, but the false innocence could seduce people into trying to crush him. His aura only changes to "Sharp" when he is in a real rage, and this always comes as a big shock, as his powers are quite terrifying. After it's back, the people who just witnessed an epic Curb-Stomp Battle delivered by him, resume to treat him as a baby. Even Gervas, who gets several first-hand tastes of his true powers, can't help himself.
    • And it clearly doesn't help when another aristocrat with the Devil's Veil tries to express his rage about some of his soldiers attempting to Shoot the Medic First on the battlefield, and ends up getting adoring smiles and cooing sounds from the scolded warriors. Gervas compares him to a "raging kitten".
  • Brick Joke: The little tablet. Dog treats.
  • Bromance: Between the narrator and the Porcelain Doctor. Maybe more than that from Gervas' side. In the last novel, this becames a Tragic Bromance, with Niall's eventual death by Gervas' hands.
  • Brought Down to Badass: All aristocrats in a certain area of Africa, when some kind of ancient magic erupts, giving back magic to the previously blank continent. In the middle of a battle. They handle it quite well, since most of the aristocrats are trained in normal combat and medicine, but they have to leave the continent in a hasty tactical retreat.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Gervas is very, very strong and fast, even able to keep up with most aristocrats. The Porcelain Doctor accepted him as his companion due to the fact that he is strong and sturdy enough to restrain him if he goes nuts. He is also able to perform Cold Reading, which is easily mistaken for a low-level Mind Reading (being unscrupulous about eavesdropping also helps), and a few times he demonstrates a version of Charm Person (with sheer charisma).
  • Covered in Scars: The MacArkill brothers, and Gervas in the end. Justified with that the former are warriors from a very young age, and Gervas as their knight gets many chances to fight and get maimed. Niall thinks because of this that he hasn't got good looks, and may has scared away a few girls when disrobing. Gervas has a strong opinion about this, namely that he loves them; he thinks they show how strong is the Porcelain Doctor in reality, and appreciates the ones known by him.
  • Combat Medic: The Porcelain Doctor and his squad on the British side, the Boers have von Ranzow and his doctors. They are very much adored in-universe for this, and Niall and von Ranzow both end up as Warrior Saints in their lives, a rare honour. Note that usually the only person to fight on the battlefield is Niall, when he is challenged, as he is the only aristocrat in the field lazaretum, and thus he is in the unique position to not to lose his immunity after the duel. When Gervas joins him as his knight, he is the only one challenged, since opponents presume that he is an aristocrat as well, and they never bothered to check his family tree when just one quick glance "reveals" his nobility.
  • Combat Pragmatist: surprisingly, the Porcelain Doctor, when it is not a honour duel. He is not above using anything he can get his hands on (one memorable instance is when he uses a glass of brandy, originally offered as a poor anesthetic before they chop his finger off, another when he kills an unlucky Native with his own lance), and more than once uses his Psychic Powers without giving any sign. Gervas also qualifies, he brings guns to a fistfight, and orders a hidden gun from Chandell Le Tellier. Niall opts against this kind of weapons, when he is offered a hidden wristblade, but has a small knife in his Braids of Action, and uses several scalpel made from ceramic (which is not reacting with a magnet). He also castrated the idiots in the prison who tried to rape him. The Porcelain Doctor and his brother also use real armor (a so-called Bismarck waistcoat for the doctor, which is a kind of cloth armor designed against bullets, and a hidden chainmail iunder the uniform for his big brother). This is quite unusual in the setting.
  • Crotch-Grab Sex Check: Happens, on-screen. Both participants freak out, for different reasons. The perpetrator still won't believe her hands.
  • Death Glare: The Porcelain Doctor has a mean one, paired with colour-changing eyes. When he is calm, his eyes are green. Blue is a good indicator that he is pissed. This is not real colour change, when he opens his eyes more, their colour changes with the light, they are most likely actually gray. He made enemies flee and forced Gervas to beg for his life in a panic just by casting an ice-cold glare.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: the Merry Company seems to share this belief when it comes to the Porcelain Doctor. The young doctor only has a very bad limp, and has to use a cane and sometimes Gervas' help to get around, but since he also looks eerily fragile, the Merry Company treats him like a baby. This annoys the hell out of the Porcelain Doctor, since he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself, thankyouverymuch. Gervas manages to avert this trope when they are alone, but since he has to play a role of a devoted lover for the othes, he sometimes engages in this kind of behaviour. Gervas himself hates this attitude, since he knows exactly how much of a Handicapped Badass his friend is, but occasionly, when the doctor is sick, he cannot help himself, courtesy of the Devil's Veil. Which looks very weird, when he helps feeding his friend, just so the others won't do it.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Played with. People frequently mistake the Porcelain Doctor for a pretty girl, but it is mostly because he spends his time next to Gervas or his equally gigantic brother. Next to them everyone would look like a girl. When they can get a second glance, or hear him speak, they mostly reconsider (and think he is Gervas' husband). He later gets flanderized into a full-fledged example, but it might be justified by Niall becoming more and more emaciated and fragile as his illness progresses. And the fact that his hair becomes longer and longer doesn't help.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Gervas is on both end of this trope. He is usually not bothered by being the one eaten, but sometimes he feels mildly ashamed for ogling the Porcelain Doctor's scars (and his slim physique).
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • In-universe. There was a legendary master spy almost two hundred years before the story starts, named Gervas Klarenfeld, the Hound. He was an Austrian aristocrat in the service of the Empress Maria Theresa, disgraced at the end of a war he helped to win, and presumably executed by the French monarch. His entire family disappeared, either fled from the empire or also killed by his numerous enemies. Then at the end of the 19. century, we have our narrator, named Gervas Klarenfeld... His family is Prussian, and his father deliberately named him after the master spy, trying to give his family a better reputation. Gervas ended up growing into a giant by commoner standards, and his exceptional abilities help to confuse everybody, leading to the wide-spread belief that he is, in fact, the heir of the Hound, and an aristocrat by birth. He doesn't like this, but more than once abuses other's beliefs about him, notably when he delivers a verbal Curb-Stomp Battle to Cherryworth. Cherryworth himself is the Queen's Sleuth, and considers Gervas a Worthy Opponent, whom he would rather have on their side. Also, Cherryworth is the one who starts the rumours spread at light's speed, after investigating Gervas' involvement with the MacArkills. From his side of the story, it is easy to see why he thought this; Gervas looks remarkably similar to the late Hound, the name is the same, and he really entered into the clan's service with a misdated knight's contract, resulting in Cherryworth believing that he was specifically recruited by Cedric to guard his little brother. And of course a mighty aristocratic clan with royal blood in their veins wouldn't employ a mere commoner, that would be undignified. And Gervas does demonstrate some skills what might be "veiled gifts", with the help of some Cold Reading and eavesdropping, and uses his supposed Mind Reading to make threats to Cherryworth. This misstep paired with the fact that Gervas actually received a minor noble rank for his military valours resulted in the Epileptic Tree quickly spreading. This is more annoying than amusing for our narrator, although it actually helps several times, and earns him a Memetic Badass status in-universe.
    • Then there are the Epileptic Trees about the Porcelain Doctor, also in-universe. He might or might not be a Royal Bastard, but he also is believed to be a Wholesome Crossdresser, a Sweet Polly Oliver, an angel in human flesh, his own brother's son or lover, either as a woman or as a man, even if he is currently believed to be an actual sibling. This annoys him to no end, and actually causes him to be considered as a disgrace by most of the clan. The only family member who clearly loves him is Cedric, and he states that he is his little brother, a full-fledged MacArkill, period. No matter what evidence surfaces.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: played with. Gervas and Mordechai use German to discuss things they don't want to share with the Merry Company, since the Americans don't know foreign languages. The Merry Company promptly mistakes this as lovers' talk, and comment on how sweet they sound. The protagonist mostly talks about strategy or very much not romantic stuff with the Porcelain Doctor.
  • The Team: The Merry Company:
  • Foil: Gervas is this to the Porcelain Doctor. Gervas is a commoner who is a giant amongst his peers, while the main reason Niall can disguise himself as a commoner that he is so small he is almost considered a midget (a six-foot-tall midget, sure, but still). Gervas is a Genius Bruiser while Niall is Minored in Ass-Kicking, etc. This is almost a Bromantic Foil.
  • Forgets to Eat: Well, not exactly forgets... the Porcelain Doctor. Combination of disgusting hallucinations and his medication's side effects tends to conclude in this. He actually suffers ill consequences, getting weaker and weaker, and he was underweight to begin with. Everybody near him tries to make him eat, but they are rarely successful (except Thomas).
  • Four-Star Badass: The Porcelain Doctor's beloved big brother. Also known as the Beast, the most honorable Lord William Cedric Stewart Calloway MacArkill.
  • Functional Addict: Most aristocrats are addicted to some kind of substance. For Niall, it is heroin. His brother drinks. Their father died from alcohol poisoning, since he passed the functional part in his late twenties. Justified because the aristocrats' metabolism seems to differ from a commoner's. They need other types of pharmaceutical medicines, or increase the dose for let it properly working. Judging from something Niall babbles during a hallucination, even their brains look different.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Played with; one Friendly Rival bounty hunter company offered to pay the Merry Company's tab, if Carolina kisses the Porcelain Doctor. She enthusiastically obeys. Twice. Then Gervas tooks the role of the party crasher and informs them that the good doctor is, in fact, a man.
  • Glass Cannon: The doctor averts this when using his powers: he can take damage as much as he can dish out. Not only by the virtue of his Barrier Warrior abilities, but also by his The Determinator attitude. When temporarily depowered, he becomes this.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: It seems like the most honourable aristocratic duels involve swords or this. It ends up being quite funny, when even in the middle of a raging battle, officers drop their guns to have a go at each other. Gervas even lampshades this, stating that he now understands why battles are so long. He might be right, some soldiers even stop to watch their lords wrestling in the middle of a freaking artillery display or under heavy gunfire. This is the more friendly version of honour battles, rarely ending with death (unlike with swords), and Gervas is frequently participating in these when defending the lazaretums.
  • Heroic Build: The protagonist, Gervas is frequently mistaken as an aristocrat, due to his height and muscular build. Most of the aristocrats are above seven feet tall, and more than two hundred pounds. This ties into their supposed origin (in this world's Bible, the Nephilim are them).
  • Heroic BSoD: Quite a few instances. When Gervas has them e.g. after realizing that his best friend is dying, or when it dawns on him that he himself helped to progress his addiction, they are quite understated, but Niall has an epic one in Diamond, induced by a secret mission from the Queen. He even cries, something he never did before, and Gervas suspects he might have been raped. He needs a few days to recuperate. It is stated that this always happens when Cherryworth, the Queen's Sleuth spirits him away.
  • Heroic RRoD: Gervas is Made of Iron, but even he breaks after been shot for a few dozen times. He almost dies in Gold, and it is possible that only Niall's powers saved him. Also, Cedric, when shot with a cannon. This is the usual cause of young aristocrats dying by "natural causes".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gervas and Niall. Maybe even Cedric. They live together even after their respective marriages, and their children grow up to be more than friends.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Niall asks Gervas to help him, if he ever crosses the line. He is justified, his regenerative powers mean that his body will keep repairing himself, while inflicting more and more damage to his brain, eventually turning him into a vegetable. Gervas first protests, but after seeing what happens when he is "out", tearfully promises. He ends up delivering the promise in the World War, with a bullet and a kiss. After a month of waiting if Niall awakes.
  • Ill Boy: Niall. He gets better.
  • Kick the Dog: or more accurately, kill the kitty. This helps Gervas to realize the extent of Niall's problems. After a bad night, our narrator finds a ginger kitten, and after petting him, and playing with him for a while, he decides the purring may help Mordechai calm down, and places the kitten next to the doctor. It really helps for a while, then the kitty accidentally claws the doctor, and Mordechai breaks his neck. Then he continues petting the dead kitten.
  • Kinky Cuffs: The Merry Company believes the narrator and/our the Porcelain Doctor are fond of this. They are really using the handcuffs, just not for that (there is also a gag involved).
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Cedric, big time. His finer moments include burning several churches (only the first was warranted), and dropping a teenager into a huge, steam-powered meat grinder. Feet first. He kind of deserved it. And it is better to not speak about what he has done to his best friend, when he found out that his friend molested Niall under the pretense that it was ordered by Cedric himself.
  • Lord and Knight: The Porcelain Doctor and Gervas have this dynamic, down to the kneeling and hand-kissing (maybe even with shades of Courtly Love). Gervas even gets knighted after a while, courtesy of the Beast. Note that this is apparently a well-tested ritual, and the Oath seems to help synchronize our narrator with Niall, and providing him access to several favours. They are cooperating notably well as Back-to-Back Badasses, and the Porcelain Doctor's overflowing healing abilities seems to work better on him after Gervas offers his Oath for Mordechai.
  • Lap Pillow: provided by Gervas, several times. Usually for the Porcelain Doctor.
  • Last Kiss: Gervas kissing a comatose Niall, right before the Mercy Kill.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: The Porcelain Doctor, big time. Pale, pretty face, with no sign of stubble? Check. Slim figure with narrow waist and with barely visible muscles? Check. Long, flowing ginger hair, big green eyes? Check and check. The Le Tellier twins also qualify, even if in a bit more statusque sense.
  • Macguffin: The psy-crystals. They are not specified as Macguffins for two volumes, but in the third it is spelled out. They are a natural "remedy" for the gifted ones, helping to reign in and fortify the abilities of the users. Niall is after them on the order of the queen, and for himself, as he is dying from overusing his gifts. He manages to obtain enough to save himself, help his big brother, and satisfy the queen, but he almost dies in the process of finding and taming them.
  • Magical Negro: Implied to be the case with the MacArkill family's servants. This or they are terrifyingly competent in taking care of crazy lords with Psychic Powers. They are stated to be Battle Butlers and Maids, and Thomas always seems to find something to cook a gourmet meal with, even in the wilderness, and manages to serve it like in a high-life restaurant. It says something when your lord thinks that you are the only one openly needed to accompany his precious baby brother to a journey on the other side of the world. Because you are the only one who can occasionally get him to actually eat. Thomas is just that qualified. Oh and he is also able to clean and repair clothes, and find everything his young master might need. His wife, sons and daughters seem to be the same. Gervas suspects that they are a kind of elves like brownies or magicians in service of the MacArkill family. As magic is persecuted in the aristocratic Europe and Asia, entering into an aristocrat's service is the best way to survive.
  • Marriage Before Romance: The Amber Duchess and the Porcelain Doctor; a beautiful, fragile-looking Scottish duchess paired with a young Scottish earl. Granted, it didn't start with mutual love, but they had a lot of respect towards each other, and after getting married, the doctor soon started to reciprocate the duchess' love. The Beast obviously spent a lot of time searching for the perfect lady for his little brother
    "I will have to spend the rest of my life in her company after all."
  • Meaningful Name: Almost everyone. Niall means Champion, a fact which he uses for his advantage, Mordechai means contrition or warrior, Gervas means spear-holder, Cedric means war leader, Cecil means blind, Arabel means loveable, lovely, Alexandra means defender, Ciaran means black one, etc.
  • Mistaken for Badass: A bit downplayed with Gervas Klarenfeld; the narrator, originally just a commoner journalist gets mistaken as an aristocrat, almost constantly. The confusion is fueled further by his name, which he shares with a long dead legendary (aristocrat) master spy, the Hound of Maria Theresa, and by his Heroic Build and Charles Atlas Superpower. He really is a commoner, with no ties to said spy (he is Prussian, the Hound was Austrian), and with no Psychic Powers, but since the master spy had the power to avoid detection and read minds, and Gervas is quite skilled in Cold Reading (and eavesdropping), he cannot convince most people that he is a commoner. The only characters who believe him are the Porcelain Doctor and the Beast, since they reason he has nothing to gain by lies. And even the Beast thinks that he might have some of the Hound's blood.
  • Mistaken for Gay: This is a running gag. When Gervas and the doctor confirm for someone that the good doctor is in fact a he, everybody thinks they are a gay couple, and even encourage them, as homosexuality is not frowned upon in the New World (not like in Europe). Since denying this yields no results, after a while they just roll with it (Gervas is very gleeful; the doctor is not happy).
    • Not so funny when Arabell makes the same mistake, and threatens Gervas with dismemberment and other pleasantries if he doesn't stop defiling his groom. Even Cedric is exasperated.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Gervas Klarenfeld and the Porcelain Doctor gets this by an overzealous sheriff. Since they were newcomers from the Old World, and everybody in town mistook Gervas for an aristocrat, they were suspicious, and to top it off, they used five different languages in the same conversation (started off in German and English, switched to French as they were speaking with two French aristocrats, the two doctors used Latin for discussing the Porcelain Doctor's medical condition, with ancient Greek for some details). It was also implied that the sheriff acted on his suspicions since he wanted to take the Porcelain Doctor for a night.
  • Mugging the Monster: this sometimes happens. Nice examples include a bunch of thugs attacking a group of arictocrat doctors-in-training on a charity night (they were making rounds in the worst part of Paris, treating everyone who needed their services). Most of the group were harmless enough, but on that particular night the Porcelain Doctor, a Hungarian amateur, and a firegun enthusiast engineer student decided to tag along (and the former two had bodyguards nearby). The incident ended with the "Soft" members of the team patching up their attackers, but we never get a full recount of the action. Usually some idiots try to harrass the Porcelain Doctor, since he is a bit effeminate, and doesn't look really menancing (he is very short for an arictocrat, but average for a commoner, and has a very slim build). The wanna-be-muggers sometimes are able to get off with a warning, but several times it ends badly for them, as Niall has a pretty short fuse, and he is armed with a swordcane and Psychic Powers.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Gervas. The MacArkill brothers. And since the Steel Knight and the Porcelain Doctor both treated Thomas very politely, the Merry Company also humoured them. Them correctly thinking Thomas is a free man instead of a slave also helps.
  • Noodle Incident: Several, most of them in their Back Story. They would explain a lot about our narrator... Like how he is one hell of a sniper and good with Good Old Fisticuffs.
    • Several instances of Cedric's Knight Templar Big Brother tendencies are not explained with all details. E.g. why Niall had to substitute their medic for the first time, or why did Cedric thought that using some bacon and throwing his baby brother in their dog's kennel was a good idea.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A fine example: Charlie finds our protagonists in bed after a confusing night... The Porcelain Doctor is chained to the bed while wearing not too much cloths, and Gervas has only pants on. Funnier for the fact that Charles is not upset about her sister's suitor apparently bedding the young doctor, his dismay is about using chains after the Porcelain Doctor just have been injured. Gervas is frantic, but he was telling the truth. There was no sex involved, and his shirt has been burned off by the doctor... but noone believes them. There are much more incidents like this, and after a while, they just give up explaining (not like they could tell the whole truth).
  • Old Retainer: Thomas and his family for the MacArkills. They were once, in fact, slaves with a pretty good relationship with their masters, as they were explicitly bought after Thomas' father made an Oath to Niall's grandfather that his family will continue to serve the MacArkills, no matter what. Since that, Thomas and his family has been freed, but they still consider themselves slaves. It sounds quite impossible, as they get paid, educated, and evidently considered more like family members by their masters. Niall gets quite worked up when somebody tries to assault Thomas, and (with Gervas) delivers a swift Curb-Stomp Battle to the hapless idiots. Cedric orders the photographer at Niall's wedding to take a photograph of "the family" first. It is quite heartwarming, when he gets his baby brother and sister-in-law, Gervas, and the servants together for this photograph. Thomas explicitly states that he loves his young master as much as his own sons.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The shamblers. These are the re-animated corpses of the European settlers, always reassembled by the native spirits magic. Since The Plague all but wiped out the Native Americans, they are the only thing keeping the westerners to totally conquer the continents. It seems to be effective. Apparently their speed, power and abilities are depending on freshness. They can be stopped for a few night by destroying their brain stems, or cutting them into pieces, but they are constantly reassembled by the spirits. The so-called corpse-shamans are able to control them, and imbue them with powers.
  • Overprotective Big Brother: Cedric skims/reads every non-medical book his little brother wants to read, and forbids the ones he founds improper, never lets Niall sleep in a separate tent when they are on a campaign, and violently deals with anyone who attempts to approach the doctor when not neccessary. This trait is not exactly welcomed, but understandable knowing their backstories.
  • Prison Rape: Used as a threat, as the narrator and his friend were mistaken as spies. The sheriff says if they fess up, he might let the "lady" spend the night at his house; if they don't, he will chain up Gervas in a solitary cell and put the Porcelain Doctor together with the other prisoners. Gervas understands the threat, but the Porcelain Doctor is oblivious, and declines the offer. Averted with the fact that after he had been put together with the murderers, he easily fights them off, and Gervas breaks out of his own cell to pluck his friend out of trouble. Then they decide to stay in prison after all (breaking out would be a crime), so they leave the beaten guys in their relocked cell, and return to Gervas' slightly better one. They are still sleeping there when the real sheriff returns.
  • Promoted to Parent: Cedric, even when their father was alive, and before their mother became the Red Abbess. A few truly disturbing missteps aside, he raised his baby brother quite well, and Niall turned out to be a nice young gentleman.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: played straight and averted. Generally, ther stronger/more experienced the aristocrat is, the less signs they give when using their powers. It is also discussed in-universe; the main reason when played straight is that the aristocrats are thaught to associate the act with some kind of gesture or a few word mantra. It makes easier to trigger their powers without accidents. The Porcelain Doctor only has to raise his hand when he uses powers that are not in his starting set, or when he does something far more powerful than it should be possible, like protecting an entire group from bullets with his Vindex ability.
  • Psychic Powers: The aristocrats have these in several flavors, and if they speak about it, they almost exclusively use Latin terms. Note that these are not referring to the abilities, but for the users themselves.
    • Confessor is for someone with Mind Reading.
    • Medice for those who are gifted with Healing Hands and Healing Factor (always both).
    • Vindex and Propugnator seems to be for the wielder of two different abilities, although they mean mostly the same (protector). Both are for some kind of barrier.
    • Postcognition or Psychometry users are called Exquisitor.
    • A Telekinesis-gifted aristocrat is a Levator, even when lifting objects and not themselves.
    • Dominator for those who are able to give power-filled orders.
    • Incenditor is for who are Playing with Fire.
    • Speculator seems to be reserved for tho ones who are able to perform some kind of "scanning", to determine other aristocrats' abilities.
    • Arcanus are those who can hide abilities from others.
    • Tortor is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. But they don't have to use anything but their brain.
    • Susurrator for Telepathy users.
    • Excubitor for the ones with sharpened senses. Note that there seems to be some kind of Spider-Sense for supernatural threats (at one point every single aristocrat in Cedric's army displays it at the same time), but it is most likely innate and never called this.
    • Ariolus seem to be Seers. Interestingly, they use French for this particular ability, several times.
    • Mechanicus is another Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Aura is some kind of projection of an Aristocrat's personality. Most of the time, it is "Sharp", sending a message that the projector is very, very dangerous (and at least one of his powers is very useful for hurting people). Another common aura is "Soft", it is more calming and inspire happiness (common for Medices and Ariolus, note that it still doesn't shows them fragile or in need of protection, it simply makes people like them). The third is "Devil's Veil", and projects innocence and fragility, and inspires Big Brother Instinct or Mama Bear / Papa Wolf mindset in the onlookers. What is peculiar that is doesn't seems to respond to the user's main abilities. von Ransow, an aristocrat with only Soft abilities has this, and Niall's abilities are mostly used for destroying everything, but he still projects one.
  • Running Gag:
    • Gervas and Mordechai being Mistaken for Gay, with several Not What It Looks Like moments.
    • Gervas gets Mistaken for Badass, and contemplating to buy a parrot. Later, the tablet Niall made for him.
    • The Porcelain Doctor cannot finish his damned book! Mind you, it's the same (doorstopper) romance, which Gervas got him after a minor clash as an apology, and got destroyed at least once in a novel. Once by a Native warrior, who got his face grinded into a fire for this, once by a hired muscle, then Gervas bled all over it (that time he couldn't even deliver the book to Niall), then Cedric ripped it to shreds, because it portrayed adultery in a positive light, and he could not allow his little brother reading something this scandalous. No matter how many times Gervas replaced it, Niall never got to finish reading the romance.
    • Cedric always forgets to buy salmon dog biscuits for Gervas. Also, him referring to our narrator as a dog (and rewarding him as one, along with the appropriate favours).
  • Scars are Forever: Played with. Most of the characters are too young for the scars to fade totally away, and some are simply too deep for disappear. Niall is able to heal himself with very little traces, but from some angles, even the more than a decade old scars on his face are visible. He is also quite aware that he looks horrible with a body Covered in Scars, and mistakenly believes that it makes him appear entirely unappetizing. He tries to hide his scars so the others won't get suspicious that maybe he is not only a mere doctor, but luckily, when he ultimately fails, the Merry Company misinterprets the scars as traces of Parental Abuse. Gervas himself states that his own scars are hardly noticable, but still there. Played straight with Niall's handprints on his abdomen, but it might be justified; he burned him pretty deep.
  • Secretly Dying: common with the stronger aristocrats; they usually don't show many signs, as it is considered weakness. It is quite jarring in Diamond, as previously seemingly perfectly healthy young men tend to simply drop dead even without any battle. Also Niall, but he gets better after obtaining the psy-crystals.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: used by Gervas, demonstrating that Niall is out of control. He cuts himself with a piece of a broken teacup, and it almost instantly heals. Inverted with that Gervas himself doesn't have a Healing Factor, but the Porcelain Doctor's Power Incontinence worsened. Our narrator points out that it still hurt, but he managed to convince Niall to try and reign in his new powers by training on him.
  • Serious Business: The Oaths. These are a personally chosen set of oaths and self-imposed aims, which help and at the same times force the taker to do something as a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane source of determination. It is not so clear that they are Magically Binding Contract or Geas or more like an exceptionally serious case of I Gave My Word.
    • According to Gervas, these are "magical". He also takes his Oath to the Porcelain Doctor extremly seriously, even though it wasn't ceremonial, and Niall also treats his Hippocratic Oath as a must-do thing, even when he himself is injured and overworked. Implied to be the common cause of Chronic Hero Syndrome in-universe. The negative sides are never discussed, it seems it is simply unimaginable to anyone to break the oath.
  • Smug Snake: Downplayed with the Queen's Sleuth. He is quite nice when not spiriting Niall away for Heroic BSoD -inducing secret trips, and after Gervas delivers him an epic verbal beatdown, his first act is trying to convince Cedric to tie Gervas to the MacArkills as tightly as possible, raise his knightly favors and keep our narrator as close to his little brother as possible. But he does nick the Porcelain Doctor for the Queen's service for time to time, and does abuse his temporarily higher status, up and including to kissing the doctor, French-style (ostensibly trying to erase his memories, even if he bloody well knows that it won't work). He also keeps him in this type of service, and only treats Gervas nicely because he thinks he is the descendant of Maria Theresa's Hound.
    • The substitute sheriff in Blackvein.
  • Steampunk: The general setting seems to be this. The ships and trains they use are running on steam, and two supporting characters are established creators and users of various steam-powered inventions. One of them is a shooting range with moving figures! There are also steam-powered cars, and zeppelins (the protagonists can't use them because of the Porcelain Doctor Playing with Fire abilities. Aristocrats like him have a red marking in their passports, and banned from using zeppelins, steam cars, smaller trains and ships below a certain size.) Telephones and telegraphs are also used.
  • Synchronisation: Seems to be the side-effect of the Oaths, at least when they are properly offered and accepted. After The Porcelain Doctor accepts Gervas' Oath for protection, he heals Gervas easier even without actually using his Healing Hands, his Power Incontinence seems to concentrate on Gervas, and they are able to pull Back-to-Back Badasses notably easily, Battle Couple -style, without actually exchanging words or practicing.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Some of the aristocrats. Most of the cases this is simple heterochromia, but Cecil's eyes are amethyst, Arabell's are amber (hence the Amber Duchess nickname), and the two MacArkill's eyes seems to change their colour. This is most likely because they actually have gray eyes, and lighting and the uniforms do change the perceived colour.
  • There Is Only One Bed: happens a few times. At first Gervas opts for the floor (because he knows the Porcelain Doctor's aversion about sharing bed with men), then they are alternating between in the same bed/on the floor, depending on the situation. Gervas is usually very eager to sleep with the doctor, but Niall only prefers this when he knows is is likely to have an "episode". Sometimes the Steel Knight simply unites their beds.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Occurs a few times. Somehow justified, as Gervas occasionly functions as a human restraint if the Porcelain Doctor has an "episode", and there was that time that Gervas got shot about eleven times. He almost died (Louis told him he looked dead, and the Merry Company contemplated giving him an "Irish Funeral"), and most likely he was only saved by the Porcelain Doctor Healing Hands amplified by the crystals reviving him. Niall spent at least for days by his side, constantly attending to him. Our narrator was a bit angry about this, because the good doctor was sick and tired even before the vigil, and ended up in worse shape than before.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Gervas. He recounts these years much, much later, for his grandson, and of course there are missed details, quite blatantly dishonest declarations, and obvious omissions. Well, he has to censor himself!
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Zigzagged. Gervas meets the titular porcelain doctor on a steamship, and concludes that the waifish, slim redhead with the creamy skin and the narrow waist ("like wearing a corset") and soft voice, wearing dainty glasses must be a crossdressing woman. He swears to protect the doctor, who is quite baffled, but accepts... then later, on a train, after a clash with "shamblers", the doctor disrobes a bit. Our narrator promptly tries to look away, but peeks a little, and does a Double Take. The doctor was, in fact, a he. Not that this stops Gervas. Even better, almost everybody mistakes him for a girl. Carolina even grabbed his loins (cue minor freakout, from both parties), and wasn't too sure even after that!
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Irish Funeral" for giving a headshot to a corpse. Note that this most likely only delays them reviving as a "shambler". "Shambler" itself is another euphemism for zombies.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Gervas' reaction to Cecil's amethyst eyes. He also frequently mentions the two MacArkill brothers' eyes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Usually the Porcelain Doctor is the one who crosses the line. Sometimes he gets called out on what he has done, but he is always quickly forgiven. Surprisingly, when is not about his baby brother, Cedric averts this. When someone wrongs Niall, all bets are off.
  • World of Action Girls: Carolina. The Amber Duchess Arabell. Alexandra. Evelyn. The MacArkills and Gervas seems to love this type.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: rampant amongst the Merry Company. They mistakenly think that Gervas (according to them, an aristocrat) has brought the Porcelain Doctor to the New World to marry him, and they are on the run from the doctor's family and/or their enemies (supported by some targeted attacks). The Merry Company's every member is a Shipper on Deck for them (even Charles and Carolina, although Gervas is supposedly courting Carolina herself), and usually they haven't got any complaint against the Steel Knight always being on the young doctor's side. This is an annoying but useful tract for our protagonists, as the Merry Company is hell-bent on helping the "Star-Crossed Lovers". Louis, who has also picked up on the fact that the Porcelain Doctor is Secretly Dying, goes a little deeper, and believes that Gervas is a Bastard Boyfriend (which is also aggravated by the "bondage" incident), and that he practically kidnapped the doctor, although with a good intention to save him from his Abusive Parents. Where did they get the ideas are a mystery, maybe the currently fashionable romance novels had something to do with it. Gervas and Niall doesn't even try to dissolve the misunderstandings after a while, and this only bites back when they attempt to ask for the hand of Carolina.