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Recap / The Order of the Stick: No Cure for the Paladin Blues

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As a Recap page, all spoilers below are unmarked. You have been warned.

No Cure for the Paladin Blues is the second major arc of The Order of the Stick, and follows events along two parallel plotlines.

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     The Order's plotline 
In the first plotline, the Order go to a small town near the Dungeon of Dorukan to recover from their battle against Xykon, blissfully unaware of numerous developments stemming from the end of the previous arc, including that Xykon is still alive (after a fashion), the Linear Guild has escaped prison, and there is a mysterious blue-clad figure that has sworn to kill them. At the inn they divide the loot, talk about leveling up or multi-classing, and begin showing perhaps the first real signs of Character Development. Elan and V first fight over Elan's declarations of multi-classing to wizard, which ends with V practically traumatizing Elan. Ordered to make up with Elan without using magical tricks or compulsions, V is forced to open up for the first time when V and Elan reconcile. Meanwhile, we learn one of the reasons for Haley's greed (her father is being held prisoner, and his only chance of release is if Haley pays an enormous ransom), while Belkar goes to the local barbarian guild to investigate multi-classing to barbarian and Roy attempts to get a replacement weapon for his shattered sword.

After it turns out the town Weapon Store has no weapons, Roy goes to the local smith to see about reforging his sword, but the smith explains that Roy's sword was made out of starmetal, and can only be remade with more of the same. The smith then tells Roy about a legend of some starmetal falling in a nearby forest, and Roy resolves to go and find it. Most of the Order volunteer to come along (with Xykon seemingly defeated, their formal fellowship is technically dissolved), although Roy needs a combination of tricks and lies talk Haley and Belkar into joining in.

After they set off, it is revealed that the smith was actually a shapeshifted Sabine from the Linear Guild. Nale had spotted Belkar by the barbarian's guild while Thog (also a barbarian) was visiting the Guild. Afraid that his diminished party would have little chance against the Order in a fight, Nale sent the group out after the starmetal in the hopes that the dangers of the forest would kill the heroes or at least keep them out of the Guild's hair while they look to rebuild the party and replace fallen members. Nale casually brushes off the possibility of Roy and the Order becoming more dangerous adversaries if they succeed in retrieving the starmetal, as Nale is sure that it has long since been claimed by one adventurer or another, considering how long rumors of it have been going around.

In addition to the occasional Random Encounter monsters during their quest for the starmetal, the Order face a bandit clan led by a bratty teenage sorceress named Samantha and her father. The bandits kidnap Elan for reasons unknown to the Order (it later turns out that Samantha wants to make Elan her lover), and Roy initially intends to abandon Elan, whom he considers The Load. The rest of the group is horrified, pointing out that Elan is really The Heart and cannot be left behind. Without Roy, the rest of the Order attempt a haphazard and ill-fated rescue attempt, and are captured. Haley attempts to challenge Samantha for leadership of the bandits, but that ends poorly for Haley. Meanwhile Roy has an epiphany about his decision to leave Elan and resolves to save Elan and the rest of the group. Eventually, despite themselves, the Order manages to stumble to victory. Durkon becomes the leader of the bandits by accident, then disbands the clan, and the Order leaves after tying up both Samantha and her father (both of whom are unconscious), as they don't have time for any other solutions and it seems likely that the two will be intent on revenge.

Meanwhile, the blue-cloaked figure is seen tracking down and following the Order, along the way hearing many descriptions of wrongs done by the Linear Guild (but which are vague enough to sound like the Order was the perpetrators), or innocent encounters with the Order that come off in the worst possible way when retold. The figure declares that the Order must die, as per the commands of the figure's master.

Next the Order encounters a swamp hag who turns Vaarsuvius into a lizard, and finally finds that the starmetal has become part of the hoard of a young black dragon. Things look bad for the group, until V, still in lizard form, manages to enchant the dragon and get it to obey V's orders. Once the spell that transformed V into a lizard is dispelled by Durkon, V executes the dragon, and the Order gathers up the loot from the raid, including the starmetal—which turns out to be small enough to fit in Roy's hand.

The blue-cloaked figure is now hot on the Order's trail, and comes across Samantha and her father in the forest. The figure stops to help them, and Samantha's father is eager to help when the figure talks about hunting down the Order. The arrogant Samantha, however, attempts to recruit the figure into a new bandit clan by magical force, and is summarily killed with ease for the action. When her father attempts to avenge her, he meets the same fate before the figure continues after the Order.

Having finally finished bringing the dragon's hoard up above ground, the Order starts to set off when a peaceful day transforms into a raging thunderstorm within a few seconds. Elan and Durkon promptly freak out (the former because he recognizes this as a drama trope, the latter because he believes it to be a message from Thor), and a few seconds later the blue figure is revealed by a lightning strike. The figure proclaims that the Order is guilty of crimes whose only punishment can be death, and when Roy tries to get clarification about their crimes, the figure begins to attack. The Order find themselves outclassed, due to a combination of the figure's skills and tricks, and circumstances. (Elan is all but out of combat because of an injury sustained in moving the hoard, Haley's archery is useless due to the storm winds, V is paralyzed by a tanglefoot bag thrown by the figure, Durkon has chosen to surrender, believing that to be what Thor was trying to tell him, and Belkar is being incapacitated by the figure's horse.) Eventually the figure is revealed as a female paladin named Miko Miyazaki, and as she goes to finish off Roy, she is surprised when her paladin abilities to destroy evil have no effect on Roy.

At that point cooler heads start to prevail, as Durkon begins talking things out amongst the parties, establishing to Miko that Roy is not evil, and that most of the crimes she heard of along the way were the doings of Nale. Miko still insists on arresting the group and bringing them before her commander Lord Shojo for judgment, revealing that the destruction of the Gate in Dorukan's Dungeon somehow weakened the fabric of reality itself. After an initial burst of anger at Elan, Roy agrees to go with Miko (in part because of his attraction to her), and either convinces or browbeats most of the Order into agreeing. The group share some small adventures, including rescuing some peasants kidnapped by ogre bandits, during which Miko is shown to have a rather cold and abrasive personality, counter to Roy's initial hopes of warming her up.

After traveling at the prodigious pace that Miko sets for some time, Elan faints in exhaustion and the group goes to an inn to rest, much to the consternation of Miko, who considers such things decadent. At the inn, some confusion in wordplay results in the staff mistaking Roy for a king scheduled to arrive shortly for a multinational conference—and a pair of assassins there to kill said king also make the same mistake. In the midst of a slightly uncomfortable heart-to-heart discussion between Roy and Elan on the subject of Miko (and why Roy is ignoring her thoroughly unpleasant personality and attitude towards his friends as he attempts to sleep with her), the assassins strike, wounding and poisoning Elan. To sneak past the assassins and get Elan to safety, Roy reluctantly dons the Belt of Gender-Changing which Elan had taken from the Dungeon of Dorukan, turning himself into a woman (who can no longer be mistaken for a king). Thanks to Belkar, in the ensuing struggle some explosives the assassins brought with them set the inn on fire. After a short delay, a second explosion destroys the inn entirely, complete with Haley's loot inside, the loss of which traumatizes her so much that she can only speak gibberish afterward (actually a substitution cypher which changes from one strip to the next). As a result the Order is in no mood to hear it when Miko starts lecturing them on how all this is all their fault, and Roy, having gained some clarity from his brief experience as the fairer sex, finally tells her to shove it. At the end of the following "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Roy and company (aside from Durkon) refuse to go any further with Miko and prepare to fight her. We immediately cut to after the fight and see that she has defeated them again, and is continuing to drag them towards her home of Azure City, this time in chains.

A fairly brief break is given to show Nale and the Linear Guild in the city of Cliffport. Nale goes to a local Wizarding School to find a new counterpart for V, and meets Pompey, an evil half-elf wizard student. They also encounter Roy's little sister Julia, who is also a student there, and kidnap her to use when they are ready to take on the Order again.

We cut back to the Order to find them imprisoned in the dungeons of Azure City, Belkar being kept separate from the rest. After an aborted escape attempt by the main group (Belkar successfully escapes and uses the blood of his murdered guard to taunt Miko, who sets out to pursue him), the Order goes to trial, and along the way they meet a personable and friendly young paladin named Hinjo who appears to chafe at Miko's presence nearly as much as the Order does. The Order finally meets Lord Shojo, who turns out to be a seemingly senile old man who uses his house cat as his legal advisor, and besides being Lord of the city-state, is also the commander of an entire group of paladins known as the Sapphire Guard. It's also revealed that the trial will be judged by a rather Knight Templar-ish being summoned from the Upper Planes, which leaves Roy rather doubtful about their chances. Their own counsel is revealed to be a young law student, none other than Celia, the sylph the Order saved in the Dungeon of Dorukan.

The prosecutors (Those Two Guys Mr. Jones and Mr. Rodriguez) call many witnesses that point to the Order blowing up the Dungeon of Dorukan, but Celia objects, asking how exactly this relates to the charge of weakening the fabric of the universe. Shojo responds by laying out the lore of the Sapphire Guard: the world of the comic is in fact the second world the gods have created. In the distant past they made a different one, but had many disagreements and conflicts about its creation and how to run it. This godly discord eventually formed itself into a sentient, malevolent being called the Snarl, which destroyed one of the four godly pantheons and then the world itself while the rest of the gods fled into alternate planes. The remaining pantheons came to agreement about a plan to wait until the Snarl was unaware of them, and slowly created a new world around it, making the second world effectively the lock of the Snarl's cell. Still, there were five places later discovered that were effectively thin areas where the Snarl could reach through and affect the world. These rifts were sealed by the efforts of a previous adventuring group (nicknamed The Order of the Scribble in a strip title), Dorukan the wizard having been one of them. Destroying the Gate leaves the Rift it sealed open again, with the Snarl theoretically being free to reach into our world once more. Presumably, if all five Gates were destroyed, the Snarl would have enough leverage to destroy the world, just as it did the first one.

A frustrated V demands to know why anyone would place a self-destruct rune on such a construction. Shojo "speculates" that it may have been an attempt by Dorukan to prevent someone from siphoning power from the Snarl or using it for their own ends in a planned way, as opposed to the Snarl normally being an unpredictable force of pure chaos. Celia makes that the centerpiece of the Order's defense, claiming that they were afraid that Xykon's surviving lieutenants (such as a certain goblin in a red cloak) would have been able to complete Xykon's plan for gaining power. The judge finds the Order not guilty (although a still incomprehensible Haley immediately suspects that something is up), and just when things seem resolved Belkar and Miko crash through a window of the throne room, Belkar impaled on Miko's sword.

As a badly injured and defenseless Belkar tells Miko to finish him, her final blow is thwarted by V, who does so partly out of camaraderie with Belkar, and partly out of dislike for Miko. The rest of the Order rallies for much the same reasons, and Miko begins to attack them but is called off by Shojo, who insists that Belkar will stand trial for his misdeeds rather than being summarily executed. Miko very reluctantly obeys, but before she leaves she says that someday the Order will pay a heavy price for choosing evil (Belkar) over good, and she hopes that she is the one to make them pay and kill them.

After the entire party aside from Roy and Haley have left, Shojo confirms what Haley has already guessed: that he is faking his senility as a tool for ruling the city without being assassinated or overthrown by the nobility. He further reveals that the judge is in fact the ghost of Roy's father with an illusion set around him, meaning that Shojo had rigged their trial from the start. Why, you ask? It turns out to be that the party which put together the Gates had a truly horrendous falling out by the end of their quest, and had sworn to guard their own Gates as they saw fit while never attempting to interfere with any other Gates or their protectors. With the paladins of the Sapphire Guard sworn to uphold that vow as well, Shojo can't order them to help protect the rest of the Gates, even though the destruction of the one in Dorukan's Dungeon marked the second to be destroyed. Shojo can, however, go behind the back of the Guard and recruit the Order to do his bidding and report back directly to him. Roy's dad also tells them that Xykon was not destroyed, and presumably is just as set as ever on using the Gates.

Roy relays all this to the Order the next day, although rather than trying to force them to come along or help, he gives them the choice to volunteer, which everyone does. He also reveals that he forced Shojo to release Belkar from prison (with the caveat that Belkar is cursed with a Mark of Justice, which will cause Belkar to become too sick and weak to harm anything should he kill any creature within a city or town, go more than a mile from Roy, or do something reprehensible enough to make Roy say the word to trigger it), and give further assistance to the Order, including having healers look at helping Haley, sending a message to the High Priest of Thor from Durkon so he can apply for permission to come home, allowing V to copy spells from the magic library of Azure City, and paying for Roy to have his sword reforged.

At the smithy, Roy learns that his sword was originally normal steel, but alloying the starmetal into the reforged blade will upgrade it into a +5 sword that is particularly useful against the undead. The Order's plot line closes with a montage of Roy's sword being reforged while each member of the Order goes about their various tasks, with the addition of Celia trying on a new outfit to entice Roy. Intercut are some rather ominous foreshadowing scenes of Miko praying for the strength to destroy anyone who stands in the way of the mission of the Sapphire Guard, and Nale and Thog standing in the middle of a grisly murder scene, confirming that their plans are almost ready.

    Team Evil's plot line 
Team Evil, with Xykon still regenerating from his phylactery, retreats into a passage leading under the Southern Mountains. Their goal is to reach a secret fortress Xykon kept as an emergency back-up, and once there, to recover and plan their next move. However, after emerging from the tunnel they find a colony of hobgoblins between them and the fortress, with no apparent way of avoiding the colony. Redcloak in particular is unhappy with this development, as goblins and hobgoblins have had cultural differences and a rivalry for a long time. Unfortunately for Redcloak, he spends a little too much time describing the militaristic culture and martial discipline of the hobgoblins, causing Xykon to see their value as potential mooks and making him insist on recruiting them. After some Klingon Promotion, Redcloak is named Supreme Leader of the hobgoblins despite being unhappy about the prospect and having a distinct lack of trust for his now-underlings. New minions in tow, Team Evil continues the journey to Xykon's tower.

It turns out that in Xykon's absence, many Good-aligned monsters have started squatting in the tower, which are handily dispatched by the forces of Evil. (The only exception to this being a silver dragon who, in bonus strips, seems to have Xykon and Redcloak all but defeated until an extremely lucky hobgoblin mook scores a critical hit on it.) Eventually they reach Xykon's library, where they find what their most important Gate-related artifact: a diary that belonged to a halfling rogue named Serini Toormuck. She was once part of an adventuring party that had a number of adventures involving the Rifts, created the Gates around the Rifts and took to guarding these Gates. With the diary, Team Evil had already found two Gates; Lirian the Elf's, which somehow got destroyed in a forest fire (Cough, Redcloak, cough) and the one in Dorukan's Dungeon, which was destroyed by the Order of the Stick. Some exposition lets the audience know that by using the right magic in conjunction with a Gate, one could take over the world, or even the universe! And the diary just so happens to contain, in code, the locations of all of the Gates.

As Xykon gets to work decoding the diary, Redcloak learns from a Mook Lieutenant that the colony of hobgoblins he and and Xykon took over is just a small part of a much larger civilization that he is now Supreme Leader of. In fact, the colony of 300 or so hobgoblins that Redcloak encountered is only one of nearly ninety legions in total. Team Evil has suddenly found itself leading a much larger and more dangerous force than ever before.

Once Xykon finishes decoding the location of the other Gates, Redcloak soon reveals the possible choices before them: one Gate lies in the distant north, with a number of human nations standing between Team Evil and the Gate, likely requiring a lot of bloody conquest just to make it there. One is across the ocean, making their army rather useless since they have no navy for transporting it across the sea. The third choice, however, is relatively nearby, with mostly wilderness between Team Evil and the Gate. Where is it? In Azure City, setting up the next major showdown between the Order and Team Evil.


Tropes in No Cure for the Paladin Blues include:

  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: When Belkar almost wins over Haley to the idea of selling Samantha into slavery. A stern look from Roy makes Haley cap off her reaction with this trope.
    Haley: Ummm... no, I don't think so, Belkar. She may be a dirty evil whore, but no one deserves that.
    Belkar: Are you sure? Seriously, you wouldn't believe the profit margins involved.
    Haley: Really? Well, I suppose it's not that bad to— [off Roy's look] Um, I mean, no way. Nuh uh. No slavery, Belkar.
  • Animated Actors: After Shojo's Info Dump flashback, the scene cuts back to the trial, where the Order are shown to have been taking a break, as if someone forgot to tell them to get back into character. Sitting in director's chairs, Roy is reading a newspaper, Elan is playing with a yo-yo, Haley has disappeared, and Vaarsuvius is trancing.
    Celia: Psst! Flashback's over.
    Roy: Oh geez!
    Elan: Aren't we supposed to get a 2-panel warning?
    Haley: [rushing in wearing a towel, her hair still wet] Zfq bq nzml??Cryptogram 
    Vaarsuvius: That is it, when this story arc is over, I shall be calling my agent.
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  • Annoying Arrows: While mass fire from the bandits poses a theoretical danger when they're out of melee range, and Haley manages to hurt the dragon with an arrow to the eye, in general archers are stuck playing this straight for the entirety of this arc.
  • Art Evolution: Lampshaded, of course. When the author was forced to take a break due to a wrist injury, he took the opportunity to upgrade the character models. Elan tries to pass it off as loot from the dragon hoard.
    Elan: But at least [Roy] got some snazzy new boots, and I got this clasp for my cloak!
    Haley: [whispering] Pssst! Elan, it's an art upgrade, we're supposed to pretend we were always drawn this way.
  • Avenging the Villain: Samantha's dad tries to do this, but Miko is far too powerful for him and easily dispatches him.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Vaarsuvius is the victim of one, but it only sticks for about 10 strips. The experience sticks with V, though, especially the fact that most of their vaunted spells require humanoid hands and a voice to cast.
  • The Beastmaster: With his sword broken, finding himself far less effective when armed with a club, Roy tries to use various critters summoned from his Bag of Tricks in this manner. It almost always blows up in his face.
  • Broken Pedestal: Haley stops Roy from becoming one for Elan by covering up why Roy didn't try to help out in the first rescue attempt.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Begins setting in for the first time during this arc, and is of course lampshaded, complete with a small Shout-Out to the Trope Namer.
    Haley: [after an explosion sets the inn on fire] Geez! We were a lot safer when we just made fairly obvious jokes about the rules!
    Vaarsuvius: I blame Cerebus.
  • Challenging the Chief: Done multiple times.
    • The bandit clan allows this, and Samantha winning such a fight is why she's chief now, and not her dad. Haley tries to challenge Samantha, and is squashed.
    • Samantha's dad waits until Samantha's spells are depleted and she's exhausted and injured from fighting the Order before challenging her. He then frees Durkon (Roy had tied Durkon up to get him to stop ranting about the evil trees in the forest) and Durkon uses a spell on a nearby tree, which collapses right on Samantha's dad, which leads to the rest of the clan assuming that this was his intent.
    • Meanwhile, Redcloak does this with the Hobgoblins—but he gets the wrong guy. It's a moot point, though, because the actual chief realizes that Redcloak would effortlessly kill him, and thus decides to hand over leadership.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Roy is willing to let Elan be taken by the bandits, but after thinking about it, realizes how wrong that was and goes to the rescue.
  • Character Development: Both the Order and Team Evil start getting their first proper development in this arc. Redcloak goes from being Xykon's bland Number Two to a wryly sardonic sidekick, and takes the first steps towards becoming arguably the most complex character in the comic. And the arcs the Order go through give the audience the first chance to see what makes them tick as people.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Belt of Masculinity/Femininity picked up by Elan in the last dungeon is used—by Roy, to his chagrin.
    • V notes that the dragon the Order kills appears to be awfully young. The dragon's mother would later play a role in the comics.
    • Both Haley's father and the people holding him will come up again later.
    • Everything done by Nale and the Guild is setting up for a future story arc.
    • Miko's "attack first and ask questions later" attitude and Knight Templar ways will play a large role in the next book.
    • Team Evil recruiting the hobgoblin army makes them a viable threat to Azure City, which at the end of the book has just effectively become the Order's base of operations.
  • The Chessmaster: Shojo establishes himself as one after the trial.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: The MITD is mistaken for one of these when he begs some light/energy beings to attack him and eliminate the darkness around him.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In bonus strips, Redcloak and Xykon are no match for a silver dragon inside their tower and are about to be finished off—and then a mook scores a critical hit from offscreen and kills the dragon in one shot.
  • Dual Wielding: Samantha's dad prefers dual wielding swords and is effective with them. Miko also loves using her katana and wakizashi in tandem. Low-level bandits attempting to fire multiple arrows at once, or in rapid succession, by contrast, is shown to be horribly ineffective.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Parodied when Nale declines to use Celine Dion music as a form of torture because "I'm still civilized."
  • Evil Is Petty: Samantha, big time. She's entirely about satisfying her own petty urges, as seen by how she has a small army of bandits, an experienced and capable melee fighter in her father, and her own magical abilities—and uses it all to hide out in the woods and kidnap potential boyfriends.
  • Female Misogynist: This arc continues a pattern that started in Dungeon Crawlin' Fools of Haley being one of these. She immediately despises both Samantha and Miko, much as she did Sabine, and would continue afterward with Tsukiko and, to a lesser extent, Celia. Only long, long afterward did author Rich Burlew realize the Unfortunate Implications and go out of his way to show Haley becoming fast friends with another woman (Bandana) in order to subvert this, complete with Leaning on the Fourth Wall dialog in the comic and strip titles about it. invoked
  • Foreshadowing: Durkon warns the bandits that one of these days they'll pick on a high-level fighter who will wipe the floor with them. This convinces most of them to quit, but Samantha and her father are left behind. When Miko comes along, Samantha unwisely picks a fight with her.
  • From a Certain Point of View: How Durkon justifies saying that the group didn't try to escape and that the lock on their cell was defective.
    Durkon: I can swear on Thor's beard that the five of us never left our cells.
Four of them had, but Durkon had refused to do so.
Durkon: [regarding the lock on the cell door being open] 'Twas a mechanical defect. [aside whisper to Roy] I dunno, I count, "able to be picked by a rogue," as a pretty major defect, aye?
  • The Fundamentalist: Miko soon proves herself to be this, and it goes even further when she returns to Azure City and it's shown that even other paladins don't care for her zealous ways.
  • Genre Blind: The hobgoblins mooks that get sacrificed to take back Xykon's tower. Especially the one who proclaims that he has a good feeling about being sent to be fight a guardian monster that falls asleep after eating, after having just been bathed in honey mustard sauce, while being armed with a cracker and garnish. (And, if they choose, fresh pepper.)
  • Guile Hero: Haley and Shojo.
  • Honor Before Reason: Subverted. When the Order and Miko take on some ogres, Miko pretends to be doing this just to kill the leader and then leave all the others in a tight group, easy pickings for V and Durkon.
  • Infallible Babble: Exaggerated to such an extreme it's surprising Elan doesn't lampshade it — the starmetal in the forest wasn't a mere local rumour recounted by a civilian, it was actively made up by Sabine to waylay the Order, and yet it still turns out to be true.
  • Info Dump: One that is so long that the Order is caught unawares when it ends, and have to get back into character, as if they are actors caught unprepared when the cameras start rolling.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Order's trial is one of these, but not in the way they expected it to be.
  • Karmic Thieves: According to several of the bandits the clan used to be this, with a Just Like Robin Hood operation of stealing only from the rich and universally despised (cue a panel that shows them stealing from the lawyers), but that changed when Samantha took over.
  • Klingon Promotion: How Redcloak becomes Supreme Leader of the hobgoblins. Subverted in that the hobgoblin he kills wasn't the previous leader, but the real leader isn't about to say anything after seeing how strong Redcloak is.
  • Lack of Empathy: Quickly becomes something of a character trait for Miko, established when she kills Samantha right in front of her dad and then asks dad for help in tracking down the Order before he attempts to Avenge the Villain.
  • Mugging the Monster: Discussed. The Order tells the forest bandits that their methods of robbing adventurers will backfire eventually, as the only marks with sufficient money to profit from will also be strong enough to kill them. This quickly comes true afterward for Samantha and her dad, as Samantha attempts to magically enslave Miko almost the second Miko frees them, and gets sliced to pieces by Miko's blades for it.
  • No Name Given: Samantha's dad is never given a proper name, hence why he has to be referred to as Samantha's dad repeatedly throughout this page.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Shojo has been doing this for years just to keep the Deadly Decadent Court from assassinating him for any action he takes. He appears to be easily manipulated; anyone who doesn't like one of his decisions blames a rival noble for it, instead of Shojo himself.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Xykon goes back into his fortress and encounters an archon, who tries to urge him and Redcloak away from evil. Xykon says she's given him a lot to think about. She thinks he's talking about doing a Heel–Face Turn, when in reality he's thinking about the potential she has as a flying zombie when he kills and reanimates her.
    Archon: This tower is now sanctified to the forces of Light! If you walk the path of Evil, you will find nought but destruction within its walls! But it is not too late, even for one such as you, to seek redemption. Lo! Ask for forgiveness, and ye shall find it.
    Xykon: Wow. You know, you've really given me something to think about.
    Archon: Really?
    Xykon: Yeah! Meeting you has really opened my mind to a whole new way of doing things.
    Archon: Fantastic! I am pleased you— [Xykon kills and then reanimates her]
    Xykon: Flying zombies! I can't believe I never thought of it before!
    Recloak: It will revolutionize the industry.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Roy makes a lot of sexist and belittling comments to Miko when he's attempting to get in her pants. After getting a taste of that himself thanks to the Masculinity/Femininity belt, he stops that, and even apoogizes for it just before unloading his "The Reason You Suck" Speech on Miko.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Samantha wears a purple dress, has a purple aura, and is a mid-level sorceress, which makes her fairly formidable, thanks to Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. The black dragon also has purple wings and speech balloons, and would have killed the entire Order if not for V.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Samantha's dad was one as leader of the bandits, and remains reasonable as Number Two. Samantha is definitely not reasonable. Shojo is this in reality, although he has to pretend to be senile and bound by the paladin's oath.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Roy lays a doozy on Miko.
    Roy: I wouldn't touch your skinny uptight ass with a standard-issue 10-foot pole, you overbearing self-righteous bitch. [...] You're not Good, at least not any definition of Good I would want to follow. You follow the letter of the alignment description while ignoring the intent. Sure, you fight Evil, but when was the last time you showed a "concern for the dignity of sentient beings"? You're just a mean socially inept bully who hides behind a badge and her Holier Than Thou morality as excuses to treat other people like crap.
  • Restraining Bolt: Belkar is subjected to a curse known as the Mark of Justice which prevents him from killing in an urban area and straying more than one mile away from Roy, lest he become incredibly ill. This will remain on him for the next book and a half.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Order initially assume their mysterious attacker is a man.
  • Shoot the Dangerous Minion: In bonus strips, after the silver dragon leading the Good monsters who had taken over Xykon's tower has Xykon and Redcloak nearly defeated, a random hobgoblin mook scores a critical hit and kills it. He gains so many levels that Xykon immediately kills him because he's too powerful to be a minion anymore.
  • Snipe Hunt: The starmetal was meant to be one, only it turned out to be true.
  • Steal the Surroundings: Miko realises that she can't damage Xykon's forcecage, so she breaks the floor it's standing on and pushes it over. The only reason this is possible is that Xykon deliberately researched a "Moderately Escapable" variant of the spell.
  • Take That!: The wizard's school and "Larry Gardener" is a fairly clear one at Harry Potter, and not everyone in the fandom took kindly to it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between the Order and Miko, when they do actually work together.
  • Tempting Fate: After their confrontation once the inn burns down, Roy declares the only way Miko will be able to bring them before her liege is if the Order is in chains. Cue the Gilligan Cut...
  • Think Nothing of It: Haley of all people does this when they return the kidnapped peasant to his wife, although granted we are talking about peasants and the Order had recently taken the massive treasure hoard from a dragon.
    Haley: What was I going to do, take a percentage of their dirt? Besides, it was kinda fun, and we got to beat up some ogres.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: At the conclusion of Belkar and Miko's fight, Miko is victorious and about to finish Belkar off (with Belkar telling her to do it) when V hits Miko with a spell, distracting her.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: A few. Samantha isn't grateful about being rescued, Belkar doesn't appreciate his attempt to cause Miko's fall being interrupted by V (as usual, Belkar hadn't thought things out and didn't account for the fact that the party would be unable — maybe even unwilling — to raise him afterward), and in bonus comics, Xykon kills the mook who saved him and Redcloak from the silver dragon in the tower, because the mook gained so much XP from doing so that it meant Xykon could actually gain XP from killing said mook.
  • We Have Reserves: Team Evil makes copious use of this strategy. When Redcloak initially intends to check out a dangerous mountain pass that suffers from frequent rockslides himself, the Monster in the Darkness accidentally clues him in to the idea of sending his new minions instead.
    MitD: Dude, seriously, I really respect how you're all, "I'm not going to send any hobgoblins to their death on the mountain path, despite the fact that I really don't like them and wish they would go away."
    [beat panel]
    Redcloak: Change of plans. Send fifteen—no, twenty—warriors up the mountain path on, uh, scouting duty. Tell them to shout if they don't find anything.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Defied. The GITP forums kept talking about how Samantha and her father could wind up becoming recurring enemies because their final fate wasn't shown, so Burlew did a strip where Miko kills them both in order to definitively wrap up their little subplot.
  • Who's on First?: When you have nations that are actually called Nowhere, Anywhere, and Someplace Else, this trope is bound to come up. The strip is titled "Who's on the Throne?"
  • Worf Had the Flu: This is Roy's theory as to why Miko was able to defeat the group in their first fight, as circumstances left most of the party unable to fight at full strength, or at all. When they try to fight her agin, under better circumstances, he expects it to turn out better for the Order. Subverted, because while Miko takes more damage from the second bout, she and her mount Windstriker still overpower the Order. (Roy failed to account for the fact that Durkon, their healer and secondary melee fighter, would refuse to fight Miko once again, or that half of Roy's abilities would still be negated because he didn't have a sword to use. Despite Gilligan Cutting to after the fight in the strip, the author laid out how it would have gone round-by-round on the forum, to prove that Miko and Windstriker beating the Order by themselves is plausible.)
    Roy: Stupid railroad plot.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Trope Namer comes from this arc. Belkar approves of Roy's plan to leave Samantha and her dad tied up together, forced to work through their issues. Belkar can't think of anything more evil (and perfect) than forcing family members to spend time with each other.


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