The story takes place on a continent inhabited by various races of kobolds. Shroomleaf Forest, the natural border between the Northern and Southern empires, is home to barbarian tribes. In one of these tribes lives Fen, who feels something is missing from his life.
He gets his wish when a noble from the Northern empire visits the tribe with his fiancee Lily in tow. Fen quickly falls in love with lady Lily, and after she admits to loving him back and tells him that her upcoming marriage to the noble is an arranged one, Fen makes his decision: He sets out into the Empire, so he can make a name for himself, earn a title, and marry Lily first. Along his journey he will meet powerful enemies and crafty allies.
Can be found here.
Examples of tropes appearing in Fen Quest:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: it's mentioned that immunity to Tomato's deadly venom must be periodically "maintained" by ingesting some of it, otherwise, it wears off over time. When his sister Cheese is accidentally stung after months apart, they determine she still has enough resistance to survive unaided, but will nonetheless get gravely ill without an antidote.
- The Ageless: The first generation of each kobold race is biologically immortal. During the formation of the Northern empire, draconic immortals killed all others (though it's unclear whether they only killed Northern ones or also got the South).
- Appeal to Obscurity: Early in the quest, a noble is about to visit Fen's tribe and he fears a rival tribe may try to frame them for offending the noble. He voices his concerns to his brother Zizi, who recounts the last such incident:Zizi: The redclaw tribe once hosted a noble visit, but the leaf riders planted some notes talking bad about the nobles. You know of the redclaw tribe?Fen: Yes.Zizi: And you know of the leaf rider tribe?
- Armchair Military: According to several sources the Northern Empire's military is plagued with this, fortunately the Assassin's Branch is elite enough to get the actually competent commanders. When Sir Zall entered the mausoleum, he almost got into a fistfight with the previous commander after learning of the latter's policy of simply throwing men at problems until they went away... against an army capable of using your dead against you.
- Arranged Marriage: Lily agreed to marry lord Shup because he promised to provide for her family.
- Awesome Aussie: Croc is a burly, crocodile-faced draconic kobold wearing a toothed hat, who speaks exclusively in a vaguely Australian-sounding slang and accent.
- Blade on a Rope: The Dragon Knight at Lady Apanya's court appears to be using a blade on a wire to "duel"/execute Lord Bardo and Lady Cati after they're framed on Apanya's orders.
- Blood Magic: In a ritual to try and locate a piece of dragoncloth, blood wizard Hunstine sacrifies a slave and spills his blood on a smaller piece of dragoncloth. He learns a lot from the ritual, except the dragoncloth's current position because it's in a non-magical area.
- Caught in the Bad Part of Town: Fen's chase takes him into the bad part of The Fence, which he was warned can get him killed easily.
- Cool Sword: The Northern empire's military makes heavy use of enchanted swords. To the point of actually giving Garlic Soup a bitter surprise by cutting down the strong monsters guarding a strategic point.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The big army present at the mausoleum proves too vulnerable to Bavarian Fire Drill infiltrations because you can't know everyone in it, so Sir Zall downsizes it to a small unit of hand-picked elite soldiers (which is what he wanted in the first place, but he had to contend with other commanders... this time he throws his weight around and kicks them out of his campaign).
- Decadent Court: Mithril Lady Apanya has two of her gold nobles framed and killed, just to replace them with inexperienced (and more manipulable) nobles. And she coerces Cheese's help in exchange for Fen's life. As for the Dragon Knight who does the executing, it's unclear whether he's complicit, dupe, suspicious or just plain apathetic about the frame job.
- Deadly Euphemism:Cheese: want to come poach with me?
Moss: What? Poach?
Cheese: A soft way of saying cold blooded murder.
- Deep Breath Reveals Tension: When Fen and Aira question Sir Zall's identity in the face of orders that contradict his previous ones (also they've never seen him angry before), Zall "lets out some noise that I'm not sure is a sigh, a deep breath, or a hiss" as he collects himself before amending his orders to comply with their paranoia.
- Desecrating the Dead: When Fen joins the Dragon Army, he's sent to meet his unit in catacombs where a seditious gang is desecrating the tombs, with the explicit goal that the restless souls may spook the civilian population. Fen notices the dead sometimes fight back, spilled ashes rising to choke the perpetrator.
- Elite Army: Grand Helm Knight Zall's force in the Mausoleum campaign consists entirely of knights, without any of the cannon-fodder "pawns". This also seems to be, more generally, the role of the Assassin's Branch.
- The Empire: The Northern empire was built on bloody unification wars that saw the genocide of forest kobolds and draconic Immortals killing all others. Nowadays the empire is still heavily militaristic, taking care to maintain a high population and enough food for them to live and have children, but no care for the quality of said life unless you're nobility or a valuable part of the empire's war machine.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Momo's attempt at a grand entrance: She had a monologue prepared about how surprised Fen must be to see her in Erja Nokol, only to be interrupted first by Aira jerking awake, then Fen revealing he's never heard of her, then the revelation that her nightmare spell fell hilariously flat, and finally a molotov cocktail thrown by Fen.
- Finger in the Mail: A piece of Firzel's ear is sent to Holly's bar. Hardly the smartest move in a setting where blood wizards exist, but made moot by Firzel's escape.
- Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: The Northern Empire uses such denominations with exchange rates oscillating between 4.5 and 5 coppers to a silver, and between 36 and 40 silvers to a gold coin. Oh the other hand, a mithril coin has a fixed value of 1000 gold coins (which seems to imply imperial authorities have a monopoly mining and minting mithril) and the military internally uses fixed exchange rates with a preference for nice round numbers.
Peasants and unskilled laborer earn (an spend) a single copper a day (skilled laborers get two and Lesser Knights four), which means the 80-gold bounty on Red Maw is forty years of a peasant's income.
- Got Volunteered: It's mentioned early in the Mausoleum campaign that if there aren't enough volunteers for operations to clear an anomaly, lots will be drawn... and only actual volunteers are eligible for death benefits.
- Groin Attack: Lord Sayanos knees Moss in the groin before threatening him into compliance. He tries again in their next encounter, but this time Moss was expecting it.
- Healing Potion: in the form of healing cloths that must be applied to the wound to dispense the healing magic they're imbued with.
- Inadequate Inheritor: The big problem of Lily's family: There's no one to inherit the great-grandfather's title when he dies because it's tied to a charge that requires magic. No one else in the family has a natural talent for magic, and a wood noble's income isn't enough to afford being taught magic from the ground up.
- Instantly Proven Wrong:Lord Sayanos: Moss... you don't learn, do you? (tries to knee him in the crotch again, only to impale his knee on Moss's dagger)
- Loyal to the Position: Invoked. The oath of a Field Marshal entails loyalty not to the gold noble who appointed them, but to the gold title, which implies not just succession but also the right and duties of the gold noble.I, (name), swear to serve the gold title of (region). I will enforce the will of the gold title on all lesser kobolds, nobles or commoners, throughout the region, by all available means.
- Make an Example of Them: When Fen arrests two soldiers who turned on him for the bounty on his head, Sir Zall vows to "stomp any illusions that we'll allow infighting in this place". He tries the Superpower Russian Roulette on them, and after that fails with lethal results, has their horribly mutated corpses exposed as a warning to others.
- Might Makes Right: The Northern empire runs on this. The Emperor is the boss because he and his Dragon Knight siblings are the best warriors, and beating a Dragon Knight in a duel can legally absolve you of a crime against the Emperor.
- Military Maverick: It appears the rest of the army is quite less disciplined than Fen's squad, mugh to Sir Zall's chagrin.Sir Zall: [I split the troops among regulars and specialists, and as member of Orjin's squad, you're a specialist]Fen: What's our specialty?Sir Zall: Remember that when I sent Sir Orjin into the anomaly, it wasn't for the group's strength, but for the group's discipline. I'm embarrassed to say that 'following orders and objectives' counts as a specialty around here.
- Mutants: In the region of Erja Nokol, the land is cursed and causes mutations in those who grow up there. It's also home to highly mutagenic tar pools that cause even more drastic changes (turning "mutants" into "abominations", as per local terminology) if one ends up submerged in them. Yet some of the unluckiest mutants will willingly take a dip in tar, playing a round of Superpower Russian Roulette on the off chance that the new mutations may improve their lot in life. That's what happened to Tomato: He became a quadruped (without gaining additional arms, which means he doesn't have hands) with a hide covered in poisonous barbs and can't talk without great pain, and as Cheese explains, that was a step up from what he used to be.
- Nerves of Steel: Nightmare Lily. First she finds herself in a dark, cold underground place; then she notices Fen is nearby, but when she meets him, he doesn't answer her and calls her illusory, before asking her probing questions in front of a complete stranger. Even after proving her identity, she realizes she can't be real. Then a monster comes up. Such an ordeal could have broken a lesser mind, but she pulls through completely chill, never losing her calm.Fen: Lily is calm, but she never struck be as being easily flappable. She was never put in a situation like this, either.
- The Neutral Zone: Shroomleaf forest is left mostly untouched by both empires because it helps keep their cold war cold. Nobles do sometimes delve into it to conscript some barbarian warriors.
- Nightmare Weaver: The speciality of Momo, Conjurer of Nightmares. Her spell can literally discover your worst nightmare and give it life. She casts it on Fen, hoping to see Fen and Aira ripped apart by a nightmarish creature. The spell instead summons a copy of Lily who simply doesn't love him, and remains every bit as agreeable as the original... which is why she doesn't even mention this tidbit until after Momo has spelled out that she's a nightmare.
- Only One Name: Everyone has only a given name. Even among knighthood and nobility that add titles and honorifics, family names don't seem to exist.
- Our Kobolds Are Different: The Northern Empire is home to a half-dozen kobold races, reptilian and mammalian alike, each born from the death of a Greater Beast (and native to the region where the Greater Beast met its fate). The Southern Empire houses yet more kobold races, the only one seen being avian in aspect.
- Predatory Business: Under Sir Zall's order, Holly makes widescale use of corporate spying (and tax evasion) to prop up her new-and-improved inn as the #1 business atop the mausoleum. That way the go-to inn in the place is crawling with spies mostly on Zall's payroll, giving him some insight on threats from behind his lines.
- Sir Swearsalot: Greater Blood Knight Orjin. Fen mentions that if he somehow had a swear jar set up, he could only pay it if he were a noble.
- Smug Snake: Stone Lord Sayanos of Pocktown has been a noble for a measly 60 days and thinks he can throw his weight around threatening people's families left and right. This gets him killed.
- Socially Awkward Hero: Fen has his fair share of social awkwardness, but Aira outdoes him. The reason she transferred to the Assassin's Branch bound for the mausoleum campaign is that social skills are not expected within an elite army in a warzone.Aira: The turtle army did nothing but patrol endlessly. My allies didn't want a soldier at their backs. They wanted someone to talk to, to pass the boring hours. I was so bad at that, that being on patrol with me was almost a punishment. So I joined Sir Orjin, since I knew his pawns would want someone to fight with them, not talk with them. I was much better in that situation.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: The hardened prisoners in Warlord Krix's dungeon were apparently unaware that this gold noble is a muscle mountain twice their size. Several attempt to grab him through the bars as they would an unfortunate guard, but Krix grabs the offending arms instead and rips them off, letting those prisoners bleed to death.
- Talk To The Firebomb: Twice already has Fen ended a conversation by throwing oil and fire at an opponent.
- Theme Naming: Many inhabitants of Erja Nokol (as well as places◊) are named after food: Cheese, Cabbage, Tomato, Garlic Soup, Death Carrot...
- The Undead: Various types created by the "necromancer of Erja Nokol", from creatures that look alive and normal but lack a soul (and even then, backstory mentions experiments in binding souls to bodies), to multi-headed mashups of muscle and murder.
- Unishment: As lady Apanya judges Fen for his murder of Lord Rasyan, as thanks for Cheese's complicity in framing lord Bardo and lady Cati, she sentences Fen to joining the army, which was what he planned to do in the first place. People angered with Rasyan's deathnote are clearly aware that calling it a slap on the wrist would be an insult to both slaps and wrists, so they put a huge bountynote on his head.
- We Have Reserves: The empire's lowest-level soldiers are not only considered expendable, but kept so by limiting how much money and equipment they're allowed to carry (including an 80% tax on any loot they find). However, if one makes it to knighthood, their lot improves considerably.
- Wretched Hive: The Fence.Fence guard: Whatever big town you've been in, imagine the shitty parts. Now think of if the shitty parts were isolated out, moved under the rug, and left to themselves. That's this town.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Sir Gauche's sister brings the Dragoncloth to Vackles (as far as they both know, it's the real one) in order to bargain for her and her brother's lives, he has her killed as soon as he gets his hands on the package. This doesn't go unpunished, as when his Dragon is busy executing her, he can't defend him from Fen.