The third "prequel" book in the Order of the Stick continuity (actually including stories from 12 years before the main comic up to contemporaneous with Blood Runs in the Family). The book compiles two stories previously released only to Kickstarter backers, along with three all-new stories. The title plays on the saying "No good deed goes unpunished."
Each story focuses on a character from Azure City, most of whom were introduced in War and XPs.
The compiled stories are:
That's the Spirit: Kazumi and Daigo find a lost soul in need of their help on their new island home.
Scruff and Tumble: Surviving alone behind enemy lines, Mr. Scruffy searches for food.
Spoiler Alert: Therkla is tasked to retrieve a priceless artifact, but she's not even supposed to be here today.
Pier Pressure: Young Lien comes face to face with a sinister choice.
How the Paladin Got His Scar: Before he joined the Sapphire Guard, Captain O-Chul led a ragtag team to stop a bloody war of retribution.
Contains the following tropes:
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Played with. Saha sees the trope coming, but assumes O-Chul is the determined and good-hearted army sergeant in the story, rather than the sickly young bandit that man adopted.
- Beneath Suspicion: One of the hobgoblins uses Glad You Thought of It and Obfuscating Disability to seem like a Professional Butt-Kisser. Until he doesn't.
- The Captain: O-Chul, although his unit is destroyed at the start of the story.
- Chessmaster Sidekick: The smarter & more manipulative of the Supreme Leader's two dragons has his boss and opposite number wrapped around his finger. He seems to be The Creon who as a Non-Action Guy isn't suited to the hobbos' usual Asskicking Equals Authority society, but turns out to be The Starscream who was just biding his time.
- Combat by Champion: Invoked by O-Chul to avoid a war. During the duel itself, he Turns the Other Cheek in order to force Gin-Jun to either hear him out or break his paladin oaths by attacking an unarmed man.
- Disney Death: Complete with a fake-out Grave-Marking Scene — Zhou's got a new job as a gravedigger.
- Ensign Newbie: Hinjo fills the role of the naive aristocrat on the front lines, but he has no official authority over O-Chul.
- Every Scar Has a Story: And this is it.
- The fight with the ettin foreshadows that the solution to the conflict between the hobgoblins and humans will ultimately be to "cut off the violent head" and leave more peaceful ones in charge. Unlike with the ettin, this seems to actually work.
- The new Supreme Leader mentions that he has plans to greatly expand the hobgoblin presence in the Southern Mountains. It's not clear whether he's the same Supreme Leader who Redcloak meets in No Cure for the Paladin Blues, but by that time there are 88 legions of them.
- Glad You Thought of It: the hobgoblin cleric's favourite tactic to get his dimmer superiors to go through with his ideas.
- Go Through Me:O-Chul: A lot of people are going to get hurt tomorrow. All we can do is stand in the way of that and say, "Not them. Me. If you need to hurt someone, hurt me."
- Grave-Marking Scene: O-Chul visits a graveyard after Zhou's apparent death and starts talking to one of the graves. She's standing inside the hole, having become a gravedigger after her discharge from the army.
- Internal Reformist: O-Chul ultimately requests to become one of these for the Sapphire Guard, after Shojo refuses to disband them.
- Just Following Orders: The majority of the Sapphire Guard pretty much get a pass for obeying Gin-Jun even when he was giving grossly immoral orders and, as we eventually find out, their code of conduct allows for a principled Anti-Mutiny. Somewhat justified by the fact that their leader was misrepresenting the intelligence they were operating under.
- Klingon Promotion: The hobgoblin cleric kills his boss, main rival and all the other hobgoblins in the throne room in order to take his place as the new Supreme Leader.
- Knight Templar:
- Gin-Jun, if not an outright Blood Knight.
- Averted with Miko, who is not yet the fanatic she will become one day, even asking Gin-Jun how to separate the good hobgoblins from the evil ones. At the end of the story, O-Chul inadvertedly starts her down the path that will lead her to her fall and death.
- A Lighter Shade of Grey: The new hobgoblin Supreme Leader is a Manipulative Bastard and a poisoner... but he's not openly warlike. This is good enough for O-Chul, at least.
- Loophole Abuse:
- Gin-Jun's dismissal from the Sapphire Guard. He may have been challenged to an honour duel, but he still attacked an unarmed man, and the paladin code makes no exceptions for dueling.
- This is set up by the Rules Lawyering employed to set the duel up in the first place: O-Chul can't challenge Gin-Jun himself because the higher-caste combatant could simply appoint a champion. So he gets Hinjo to make the challenge, and appoint him.
- Lovable Coward: Zhou is let off numerous times for her cowardice — even to the point of deserting her unit in battle — because O-Chul believes she can be taught to be better. She eventually takes a wound defending him that conveniently enough gets her honorably discharged from the army.
- Martial Pacifist: O-Chul's usual style, though he turns into a downright Suicidal Pacifist when he concocts a Xanatos Gambit to lose Gin-Jun the support of the other paladins.
- Multiple Head Case: Played with. The ettin's two heads do seem to have very different personalities, with the right one denying all responsibility for the aggression of the left... but it also makes no attempt to warn anyone about the violent head, no attempt to restrain it with the right arm it controls, and as O-Chul points out, it's willingly running in the direction the left head wants to go. The whole thing seems to be a rather anvilicious satire of people who deny culpability for ideological allies who engage in violent or abusive tactics, while doing nothing to actually challenge those allies' behaviour.
- No Name Given: A number of major characters, most notably the hobgoblin Supreme Leader and his Co-Dragons, a general and a cleric.
- Obfuscating Disability: The hobgoblin cleric doesn't really have a hunch, he just wanted to look non-threatening so he wouldn't be challenged to combat.
- One-Man Army: O-Chul eventually routs a hobgoblin attack single-handed after the rest of his unit dies in a Last Stand. This only makes him more determined to prevent further violence.
- The Paragon: O-Chul inspires two level-headed lieutenants to depose their warlike superiors, the paladins (and Lord Shojo) to take the oaths of the Sapphire Guard seriously, teaches Hinjo about leadership and inspires him to join the paladins, and shows several hobgoblins that humans aren't all bad. Unfortunately he also inadvertently starts Miko down the path to becoming a Knight Templar.
- Reconcile the Bitter Foes: O-Chul's goal is to stop a war between humans and hobgoblins, although this is mostly being stirred up by the Sapphire Guard's extrajudicial raiding.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The poisoned gouda that the new Supreme Leader uses to poison the old one and his Dragon.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Discussed, but O-Chul believes his risking his life was worth the stake.
- Turn the Other Cheek: O-Chul refuses to draw his sword against Gin-Jun, eventually throwing it out of the ring to make his point.
- Useless Spleen: Subverted. Zhou loses hers, but rather than Amusing Injuries it gets her discharged from the army, and she mentions having to take medicine for the rest of her life.
- Villains Do The Dirty Work: While Gin-Jun is peacefully removed from power, he won't take a hint and keeps fighting, letting the heretofore-antagonistic Miko be the one to kill him. The hobgoblin leader, however, is straight-up assassinated by one of his own to end the conflict.
- Would Hurt a Child: Gin-Jun comes up with some truly impressive rationalisations for how the killing of hobgoblin women and children can be acceptable within the paladin oaths.
- Would Not Hurt A Child: The planetar outright refuses Gin-Jun's more openly genocidal requests, but still agrees to assist him in carrying them out.
- Xanatos Gambit: O-Chul's plan is to attempt to talk sense into Gin-Jun and the paladins while unarmed in a duel of honour — either he succeeds, or Gin-Jun kills him and falls. Luckily there's a slim third option — that he's attacked and only maimed, for which Gin-Jun can be booted from the Sapphire Guard.
- You Shall Not Pass!: the very first scene. Later O-Chul repeats this against the paladins.