Demon's Due, by Jeff Fairbourn, aka Faile35, is an on-going Dark Fantasy series based in a fictional setting similar to Medieval Europe to some extent. The major difference is that most of the important occupations and political positions are filled by women instead of men, mostly for reasons of Author Appeal. Oddly, the series manages to avert any sexism against men (mostly because the author of the series is male, himself). The series is told as a series of illustrations penned by the author himself, rather than as a comic or literature based story, though underneath the image there will often be a caption of text explaining the circumstances. The series is about a group of women and their struggles against often overwhelming odds, and usually ending up on the losing end.
The series is broken up into chapters. Word of God states that there will be 10 - 12, give or take. When finished, the entire series will be around 500 pages, again give or take, once completed. As of the present, about 350 have been completed.
Caution: This is definitely an R (or M) rated work! Sexuality is very common element in this series to the point where it's one of the defining things about it in the form of Full Frontal Nudity, intimacy, allusions, and as a plot device. It should go without saying that Demon's Due has many adult themes and images, most of which Not Safe for Work or home. Not for the easily offended AND NOT FOR CHILDREN!
The story begins with a waitress working at the Fair Harvest Inn, named Anna, goes missing after her employer Albert Fiskerne sent her down to retrieve more supplies from the cellar. After she didn't return, Albert went down to fetch her and found that she's disappeared altogether and the only clue is a large hole in the cellar wall that hadn't been there before. So the innkeeper calls on Luther Vandermoor, a local guardsman, for assistance. So he hires a woman mercenary by the name of Valerin to properly investigate the disappearance.
What entails is a story of conspiracy, sorcery, kidnapping, arson, and likely a fair amount of jaywalking. Before long, weird monsters and other abominations stalk the underbelly of this world with the Big Bad just waiting to be able to unleash chaos all across the land.
Demon's Due is an anthology with an overarcing story that each chapter progresses in some way. What fits it into that format is that each chapter has a different female protagonist that ventures forth and tries to solve the rash of strange activity happening in the locale. The stories cover their struggles in their respective expeditions. At the end of every chapter, the women are always on the losing end, becoming bound, gagged, and stripped down to their birthday suits, and then dragged off to the lair of the villains, The Undercellar. There, they will be sacrificed in order to free Lady Maladyne, an evil sorceress that's been sealed within her own castle. They're to take her place via Equivalent Exchange. Once freed, she will take control of the land once again.
The protagonists include: Valerin, a mace-wielding mercenary woman. Avory, a sorceress. Deirdre, a girl that can take on the characteristics and abilities of animals. Zirena, a seer. Callista, a smuggler and thief. Annalae, a witch with a shadow minion at her command. Drea, the wielder of an enchanted spear. Elina, a scholar with untapped magical power.
At this time, all of the chapters that have been released are titled. They can be read here, in order:
- Rats in the Cellar and Rats Revision an updated version including a written story with each image and improved artwork.
- Twisted Plot
- Fair Harvest
- Vision Impaired
- The Bare Necessities
- Cat Call
- Coils of Fate
- A Web of Memory (To Be Released)
- Untitled (To Be Released)
- Untitled (To Be Released)
Demon's Due provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Jervil. Sure, he might be a creepy ratman demon spawn, but damn if he doesn't act like he's catering to guests come over for tea at all times.
- All There in the Manual: The author has dedicated entire journal entries on his deviant page, further explaining the plot and the setting of this series.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: The comment feature on DeviantArt has been known to generate the RiffTrax effect. Some of the things readers have to say can be hilarious.
- Animal Motif: Both Deirdre and Annalae have supernatrual powers linked to animals. In Deirdre's case, she takes on the characteristics of different creaturees like a fox, a bear, and so forth. Annalae is a cat witch with power over a cat-like shadowy entity which is her personal attack unit.
- Anthology: Each chapter is a story following a different protagonist, though there is an overarcing story to the whole thing.
- Art Evolution: faile35's style was always solid, but looking at the difference here and here should show you how much he's improved over the years.
- Author Appeal: The author has gone on record, stating that he prefers drawing women to men, and given that kind of stories he writes, it's not surprising.
- Badass Bookworm: Elina.
- Badass in Distress: EVERYONE.
- Badass Normal: Quite a few. There's High Lady Drea Aliandis a graceful spear user, Callista a slick and clever thief, Luthor a talented swordsman, and Valerin a powerful mercenary who uses a mace.
- Bad Boss: Jervil. Just forget about signing on with Life Insurance if you work for this guy.
- Being Watched: While down in the cellar looking for Anna, Valerin begins to suspect that she is. She's right.
- Big Bad: At the moment, it's kind of unclear... But it's either evil sorceress Maladyne or evil sorcerer Jervil. Could go either way at this point.
- Blob Monster: A bizarre example. It's basically living candle wax which suddenly springs upon its prey and ensnares them.
- Bound and Gagged: The end of every chapter. EVERY chapter. The means include:
- Card-Carrying Villain: Jervil. He's a creepy ratman who dresses like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, for crying out loud!
- Cliffhanger: Every chapter (and I do mean EVERY chapter) ends on one of these.
- Crapsack World: Sure, the setting might feel like a nicer end Medieval Europe setting, but it has a very dark underbelly that you'd just do well to steer clear of, especially if you happen to be a woman.
- Creepy Basement: The cellar of the fair Harvest Inn. For starters, it has a huge hole in it's wall that dug by some large, unknown monster that stole away Anna, the poor waitress that went down there, which is what starts the whole story.
- It's also a dark place complete with big, labyrinch-like, long, daunting halls and dark corners where anything could be waiting for you.
- It also doubles as a Torture Cellar.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Once the heroines get in trouble it tends to be pretty one-sided, though admittedly the odds are usually impossible to begin with...
- Curb Stomp Cushion: ...though they put up a good fight, even if it only prolongs the inevitable.
- Cute Monster Girl: If there's a better trope for what Deirdre is, we'd love to hear it.
- Dark Action Girl: Callista, definitely. Her Curb-Stomp Battle with Deirdre shows this most clearly.
- Darkest Hour: Not quite there yet, but it's definitely implied that it's heading that direction.
- Evil Sorcerer Jervil explicately states that a coming tide of darkness is just barely being prevented. He also claims that a certain safeguard is the only thing standing between disaster and the lordship. It's highly probable that that safeguard has been destroyed.
- The Dragon: So far, Jervil has taken on this role, but it might be more of a case of The Starscream and Dragon with an Agenda. Thus far, Jervil has been shown to be a very dishonest and disloyal character.
- Dumb Muscle: Albert the innkeeper.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Albert and Callista are genuinely fond of each other.
- Evil Sorcerer: Jervil and Maladyne. Also Annalae, to a lesser extent.
- Equivalent Exchange: Essentially the entire plot. Big Bad Maladyne has been magically sealed within her castle and she needs tough, survivor women to take her place. Each chapter follows each sacrifice she needs getting captured and taken.
- Excuse Plot: The story is pretty simple, and that's because the real reason people are reading is to see bound and gagged naked women.
- Failure Is the Only Option: The heroines, without exception, are going to end up captured and helpless.
- Fantastic Light Source: Runemotes, small Will-o'-the-Wisp-like entities.
- Femme Fatale: Both Callista and Annalae.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Rare sane and unwilling examples, too.
- Genre Blind: At one point, cute wolf girl Deirdre decides to crawl into the big hole in the Fair Harvest's cellar wall, alone and without telling anyone where she was going. Do we really need to put a spoiler tag on the fact that did it not end well for her?
- Griping About Gremlins: Sure, they might not have planes to disassemble, but they are a very prominent presence in this story, all the same. They're the primary henchmen of the big bad. They make their first appearance in ''Rats in the Cellar when they gang up on Valerin, tie her up and strip her naked save for her boots.
- Gulliver Tie-Down: A variation; the gremlins don't actually stake their victims to the floor, and the victim is usually awake and struggling at the time, but the principle of using rope and numbers to subdue a much larger victim still stands.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Jervil a strange ratman.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Luther, though he's not off to a great start if he wants to be the hero...
- Humiliation Conga: Does being stripped, caged, and being treated like an animal count?
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: A few. There's Elina, to High Lady Drea. She's a Badass Bookworm sorceress that's good with both magic and in a close-quarters fight. Then there's Callista and Annalae, to Jervil.
- Inescapable Net: Annalae gets caught in one. Justified as it's a magical construct that automatically tightens and seals itself into a coccoon.
- Kitsune: Deirdre is not technically this, but she certainly gives off this vibe when she has her fox tail which contributes to her downfall as it provides a convenient anchor point for the rope she gets bound with.
- Knife Nut: Callista
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Enough so that the cast needs to rotate from chapter to chapter to give everyone some focus, with new characters being introduced almost every chapter.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Luther. Just Luther. The man has single-handedly managed to send five women and a whole battelion of men off to their dooms thus far.
- Nipple and Dimed: Most of the nudity in this series is (unsurprisingly) female. The author is not conservative about what he shows.
- The Nudifier: Runemotes. Small Will-o'-the-Wisp-like creatures that will burn away a patch of clothing each time they swoop in and strike a victim. They tend to work as a swarm, quickly overwhelming their prey.
- Oh, Crap!: The default expression of many heroines as their situation worsens.
- The One Guy: The role of male presence has actually been taken by two guys, Luther and Jervil, but the principle still stands. No, they're not Those Two Guys.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Happens as often as you'd expect in a series with such a heavy focus on kidnapping.
- Porn with Plot: The story gets increasingly detailed as the author refines his craft, yet the main focus is always on the ways in which the various attractive women end up getting in trouble.
- Pun-Based Title: Each and every chapter title. Crosses into Double Entendre.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: High Lady Drea Aliandis.
- Schmuck Bait: It turns out a lot of big bad's schemes are exactly this.
- Secret Passage: The location of The Undercellar is a shelf that pushes back in Fair Harvest Inn's basement.
- Shameful Strip: Every single heroine ends up going through this.
- Swallowed Whole: Poor Drea ends her chapter sliding down a snake's throat.
- Weapon of Choice
- For Valerin, a mace.
- For Luther, a sword.
- For Callista, knives.
- For Drea, a spear.
- Unwitting Pawn: LUTHER
- To quote one of the readers: "It's amazing the villains haven't just paid him to keep doing what he's doing."
- Wicked Cultured: Jervil, again.
- You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: Jervil, to both Callista and Annalae.