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Webcomic / Archipelago

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It's a bit of a long, complicated story. (and this isn't even halfway through!) note 

A webcomic by H. L. De Vera.

Credenza, an ordinary waitress, taking a walk on the shores of Ruin Island finds a badly wounded man. With Credenza's help, he manages to recover from the brink of death. The only problem? The man's mind has been shattered; gone are his sanity and memories, even his name. Credenza gives him a new one, Blitz, earning his Undying Loyalty. Follow Credenza, Blitz and their friends as they become entangled in a colossal battle between good and evil, journey to new parts of the Archipelago, and learn much more about themselves than they could've bargained for.

The comic began on September 30th 2005, and concluded on February 3rd, 2017.

It used to be published on Smackjeeves before the site suddenly imploded. The comic (and some extras) can be found at the creator's deviantART page (although with seemingly random pages marked as "mature" and needing a log-in to see). Now also being rerun on Webtoon here.

The Author had mentioned a potential spin-off/follow-up that would take place in the same universe, and then on March 2nd 2017 she announced that the upcoming project will be called "City of Somnus". The first page of it was published on Deviantart on August 2nd 2017. You can read the trope page here: City Of Somnus.

Provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Holly Path, a seranith scientist with serious and concerning holes in her memory that make her an easy target for Snow's machinations.
  • Accidental Kiss: Willium and Nim, when introduced in book 3, immediately begin arguing, then fighting, then tumble downhill in such a way that they end on top of each other. Kissing. Then they both blush, looking at each other, until Credenza and Simon interrupt.
  • Aerith and Bob: Being a Fantasy Kitchen Sink somewhat, the human and beastmen denizens of the Archipelago have names ranging from Anthony to Zatachi. The seranith follow their own convention, with names composed from a name of an animal for males or plant for females and a seemingly random noun (or two), like Tin-Can Turtle or Azalea Trigger (All There in the Manual reveals these are actually translations of Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom from their own language).
  • After the End:
    • The backstory, involving a fallen (in every sense of the word), Magitek civilization that built machines like Snow's arm, guns, the submarines, the dragon-ship that Archipelago is built upon, which the Great Raven, Dragonfly and four other Magitek A.I.s ran, and others. They also genetically engineered the various beastmen and were-animals that inhabit the Archipelago. The modern Archipelago runs on their tech (a lot of which is now treated as magic) and duct tape.
    • Hints are dropped that this may be a far-future or alternate Earth, given that the common language is descended from English (retaining the name, but about as intelligible to modern English speakers as modern English would be to Old English) and characters have read aloud from real written works. In addition, Word of God states that religions such as Christianity and Buddhism still exist in some form.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Great Raven deciding that his purpose as an anti-virus also means killing pretty much everyone is the whole reason we have a plot to begin with.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • During a session of psychological torment, Captain Snow attempts to convince Credenza that the entire story was this. Paollo reminds her otherwise.
    • Later, in the Maze of Dreams, Raven's starts with him waking up, confused, in an unfamiliar room, Credenza in bed with him. He "remembers" he's just a humble engineer and tells his wife that strange dream he had, with islands and dragons and something being wrong with his arm...
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Amongst the villain camp. Knull and Han both have a thing for Lucinda, who can't reciprocate as she traded away her emotions after having her heart broken by a man (who, in an odd twist, was also Han). She does treat Knull quite kindly, in a somewhat detached way.
  • All There in the Manual: The cast page explains a number of details about the characters' backgrounds and abilities that don't get a lot of attention in the story. The Rant underneath certain strips also give some insight into the creation of individual characters or elements of the Archipelago world, such as information about the inner workings of magic. After the comic finished, this kind of information can be found in author's Tumblr and Deviantart.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The gauntlet Dragonfly used to seal the Great Raven has a connection to and draws power from the souls of the six heirs. Problem is, the Great Raven got his spiritual hands on it and given it to Snow, giving him all the heirs' magical abilities.
  • Almost Kiss: Happens several times, like when Tuff and Cassie are excited over breaking the code or when Credenza and Raven are interrupted just after a reassuring speech from her.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Raven spirits and shadowmandyrs. Subverted in both cases for those released from control of the Great Raven and the Shadowmandyr Queen, respectively. Blitz's Raven goes on to become a heroic, if cranky, person of his own, while the shadowmandyrs are pretty much animals under their Queen's control and eventually jump ship to Simon once she's dead.
  • Always Save the Girl:
    • Raven's attitude towards Credenza, beginning pretty early on. When she goes missing in book 5, for example:
      Raven: Forget the heirs. Forget the Raven. Until we find Crendenza, nothing else matters.
    • Indeed, Raven's test of having matured into a proper Knight in Sour Armor is The Final Temptation he undergoes in the Maze of Dreams, where he has to choose keeping faith to Credenza's ideals over actually being with her (or an illusion of her).
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome:
    • The Soul Key necklace Credenza is given back in book 2. It unlocks her magic, detects evil magic, and fixes broken hearts.
    • Vaniji's cane, in which he has invested and concentrated his powers, to the point that it becomes an Amulet of Dependency, as Vaniji has left nothing inside himself. Naturally, it's by breaking it he's depowered and pretty much defeated.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Inverted with Raven, a spirit who gains a body (minus one arm) by becoming human (triggered by magic overflow).
    • Captain Snow keeps losing pieces of himself, but his Magitek arm keeps replacing what he loses. By the end of the story, he's almost completely mechanical.
    • Anansi lost her arms in the dream world as a young girl.
  • And I Must Scream: Those possessed by a raven spirit who get captured or are no longer useful may be soulsealed. They remain alive and aware, but cannot move or act in any way at all. Raven attempted this on Anthony when he first possessed him, but Anthony cut his own left eye out to block Raven's escape route, inadvertently breaking his own mind and trapping Raven in it.
  • Anger Born of Worry
    • Raven's standard way of expressing care. Played for Laughs when, after some frantic searching, he finds Credenza safe, sound and being licked by Charlie. With lots and lots of drool (she uses the words "slobbered to death").
      Raven: You know, finding you like this after experiencing two minutes of blinding terror, you'd think I'd be annoyed. But for now, all I am is relieved that you're alive. Still, you can't blame me if I find some enjoyment in letting you suffer just a little bit.
    • Paolin, when reunited with Credenza after the final battle, gives her a dressing down and starts crying.
    • Foreign-Language Tirade flavored when Paollo's Honorary Uncle catches up with the heroes after the final battle. He first hugs him tight, then begins a long, long angry lecture in their native language.
  • Animal Motifs: Pretty much everyone is associated with some animal or other, most easily seen on their soul form. The Big Good is named Dragonfly (and The Hero, Credenza's, soul has dragonfly wings), and The Big Bad is Raven (called the Great Raven in the story to distinguish him from a defector from his ranks who joins the heroes and uses the name Raven). Snow's symbolised by a white lion in certain dreams.
  • Anti-Magic: Knull's gift, which wins the villains many battles. Probably the chief reason Snow didn't kill him along with the rest of his family; or maybe that was because he makes good tea.
  • Anxiety Dreams: There's a lot of dream sequences in this story, and while most are Flashback Nightmares, two are notable for bringing to light the dreamers' deep-seated fears:
    • Tuff's short dream when he's anxious about going to Quillotia. It has a red haze effect and he's the monster stalking and attacking Credenza
    • The first dream Raven has in his life. In it, he summons a raven spirit to interrogate it on why his magic won't work anymore and the spirit begins belittling and tempting him, reminding Raven of Dragonfly's prophecy and picking his desires apart.
  • Apology Gift: After their extremely awkward moment in book 7, Credenza gets Raven the dagger that becomes his most prized possession:
    Credenza: I had to find a way to make up for what I said. That's why I chose the symbol on the hilt.
    Raven: A frog? Do you associate slimy, water-dwelling creatures with me?
    Credenza: You're an amphibian. Like a frog, you were born as one thing and became another. You're a human now... even though I can be stupid and forget that sometimes.
  • Arc Number: Groups of six:
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • Credenza would like for us to know that Captain Snow is a filthy coward, inexcusably evil, and poorly dressed. The last is probably the one thing that would actually insult Snow, since he considers himself a Sharp-Dressed Man.
    • Tuff is Afraid to Hold the Baby:
    Tuff: What if my teeth scare him? What if I drop him? What if he explodes?!
    Credenza: Willium Drake? THE Drake? The man who slew the army of evil, rabid flamingoes? Willium Drake who wields the deck of magical playing cards? Willium Drake who sank his father's talking flying machine?
  • Art Evolution: Seriously. Just compare Paollo when he's kidnapped and Paollo when the rescue comes. You're forgiven for not recognizing him at first.
  • Artificial Limb: Snow's Magitek arm (which gradually grows into a cyborg body because he keeps getting injured). In a way, also Anansi, who uses scarves for arms, having lost her own. In the denoument, Blitz is saved from being Only Mostly Dead by the arm merging with him, creating a most steampunk dragon.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The setting is a Magic from Technology one. What the characters call "spirits", including all the ravens and Dragonfly, are actually AIs. The Listing of Names develops a spirit spontaneously (unless that was exactly what Dragonfly intended).
  • Art Shift: The Maze of Dreams. Tatami's dream is rough and sketched, as he's hurrying to explain things to Credenza. Riley's and Tuff's have Orange/Blue Contrast, the former is straight lines and angles, while the latter is smooth, rounded and pastel. Raven's dream is a realistic Out-of-Genre Experience, until it falls apart and goes Picasso.
  • A Taste of the Lash: One of Snow's methods of keeping his slaves in line. In one of Credenza's flashbacks, Uru took the flogging for her.
  • A-Team Montage: Everybody working to repair Benjamin's ship in book 9.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
    • Blitz likes shinies. A lot.
    • invoked Prince Paollo, as well. He's easily distracted, according to Word of God, because he's always half-dreaming.
  • Author Appeal: In the creator's own words, "In case you haven't realized, Archipelago is pretty much one big excuse for me to draw strange animals."
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Clair, during her heated argument with Spindle, slips and falls down the well. After she's fished out, he frantically asks if she's all right, and after seeing that she is, he licks her face.
    Spindle: What, you thought I was worried about you?! I was just afraid your filthy old boots would poison the well!
  • Badass Boast:
    • Raven... introducing himself to Syn in book 1, back when he was evil and hammy:
      I am a part of the darkness! A piece of the nightmare! I am older than the ground you walk on, more powerful than the forces of nature that bind this world! I looked down from the stars and I cursed this world and all life on it! I made the great wheel of life turn backwards! No one can strike ME! I AM RAVEN!
    • Kor refusing to be intimidated by captain Snow's Breaking Speech about how he's only a pawn:
    Kor: That sure is a strange thing to say, Captain, if you consider what pawns can do when they reach the other side of the board.
    • invoked Kor, a true Avian (according to the Word of God, they're fierce):
    Kor: Fine, maybe those lines come from a play, a story. But it's in stories that good always triumphs over evil... and that the smallest hero can defeat the greatest of foes. This isn't the stage, and I'm no cunning, evil mastermind. But I AM an heir. You think we heirs are your victims? Guess again! We are your destruction!
  • Badass Normal: Up until, roughly, the party in Quillotia where she channels enough magic to create a storm, Credenza didn't think of herself as a magic user, but still ran head first into adventure and trouble. Also, Snow had no real magical power of his own before getting resurrected by the Great Raven and given the Magitek arm, but was still one of the most feared men in the world.
  • Ballroom Blitz: In book 6, Snow and an army of Ravens attempt a hostile takeover of the Quillotia Castle while King Mikel is hosting a party to welcome home his long-lost cousins, the Luck brothers. Most of the fighting occurs in the ballroom, which ends up in dire need of repairs.
  • Barefoot Captives: Snow's slaves and prisoners, in flashbacks and in present day.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In the finale, Credenza has to defeat Snow in the dreaming world, while her friends fight him in the physical world. The battle has two stages:
    • Maze of Dreams, an incredibly sloppy (according to the local expert) construction, where everyone but the heirs, Blitz and Credenza herself is trapped in their nightmares except Raven, who gets The Final Temptation. The expert explains to her she only needs to wake the three key dreamers up and the whole sorry mess will fall apart, freeing everyone. It does, but Credenza's final battle against Snow is still ahead of her...
    • Snow's own layered dream where the people murdered or hurt by him are represented by toys (she's a mangled ragdoll, Knull - a rag horse, her friends are clay soldiers) a child - Snow himself - is playing with. Simultaneously, Raven and the team are battling Snow in the waking world, and whoever gets hurt in one, gets hurt likewise in the other. After getting through this layer, Credenza duels Snow's adult form, supported by her own good memories and Knull's Anti-Magic.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Anthony in one of the flashbacks to his Dark and Troubled Past. One panel, his hair is fairly short, next panel is a montage of seasons passing, in the third panel he's got a shaggy, unkempt, long mop.
  • The Beastmaster: Simon is rarely seen without his hunting dog June. Later he also gains a flock of shadowmandyrs, once their queen (who has been possesing Simon) is dead and he's the only "home" and authority they now know.
  • Beast Man: Aside from the were-beasts, there are Avians (bird-men, like Kor and Steller), Cloven (with gazelle traits, like Pan), Pandorians (bat-people, like captain Syn), and other mix-and-match sentients.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Page 94, book 3 is the first time Raven ever is treated kindly (Credenza reassures him while checking his wound). This seems to be when his Heel–Face Turn begins in earnest.
    Raven (thinking): Kindness? I was not made for kindness... Is this kindness? It feels... nice.
  • BFS: Riley's sword, The Jawbreaker, is so heavy only someone with a (half-)wereshark's strength can lift it.
  • Big Bad: The Great Raven. His attempt to wipe out all life caused Dragonfly and the Six to bind the Great Raven, and the great army of Ravens who came into his service by a Deal with the Devil is trying to unseal him now. Except, as it turns out, upon sealing he has lost the connection to smaller ravens - the were just operating on the last orders given. He, in the meantime, had lots of time to reflect on his evil deeds and regret them.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Uru, for Credenza. He defended her from a bully right at the start, and they adopted each other as siblings. In another flashback, he took a flogging for her, and in yet another he made a Heroic Sacrifice so she could escape Snow.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Credenza rescuing Blitz from Syn in book 1 (even though she gets thrown into a tree):
    Credenza: I would be one friend if I let some son of a coatrack like you frame him for murder!
    • Tin-Can Turtle intervening with his Eye Beams when she and the twins are overwhelmed by shadomandyrs.
    • When the shadomandyrs chase Credenza to the beach, suddenly.... Blitz emerges from the ocean to smash them. Riding a hammerhead shark.
    • During Credenza's Darkest Hour, when Snow locks her up in a dream to make her believe her life since escaping him has been All Just a Dream, Paollo (whose power Snow's using to create the dream) seizes the opportunity to help her out.
    • She herself intervenes just in time to rescue Raven in the Maze of Dreams.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Quillotian royal family owns one, of course, that is just as fancy as everything on the island. Anthony Solair also owned a castle, but this one is an old, dilapidated affair nobody in his family wanted, so he moved in there to be away from them, despite it being a money sink build over the ancient crashed spaceship where The Big Bad is imprisoned. This castle gets burned down in the finale.
  • Big Good: Dragonfly. He dies on page, but after giving the protagonists his blessing and as much help as he can. He was the one to originally arrange the sealing of the Great Raven and made precautions in case the Raven was ever to come back. Tabitha hints that this might be how he came to be confined to a life support system. Dragonfly also created the Listing of Names and deposited it in the nunnery and library on the Hidden Island.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: Clair (a six-year-old) does that a lot. Even against captain Snow:
    Clair: Stupid dog-eating poo pirate! Rotten big nosed fly butt face! Evil stinky puke sniffing baby puncher! You big *sniff* you big meany!
    • Credenza is similarly creative in this regard:
    Credenza: You filthy, loathsome, inexcusably evil, poorly dressed coward!
    • She also calls the Shadomandyr Queen "a porridge of tapioca and ego" (when trying to distract her).
  • Big "YES!":
    • Spindle, when Blitz first transforms to open a can of whoopass.
  • Black Bug Room: The Maze of Dreams is build of Black Bug Rooms designed to keep nosy Dream Walkers away from the spider in the center. And to torment the dreamers, of course. Two of the dreams that we get glimpses of revolve around My Greatest Failure. The lynchpin dreamers Credenza has to wake to free everyone are:
    • Riley, whose angular desert with thorny plants reflects his deep-seated abandonment issues and fear of Dying Alone,
    • Tuff, who's facing a monster in a ballroom full of masked people - except he suffers every wound he inflicts on the monster,
    • and Raven, whose dream is The Final Temptation, but turns nightmarish when he works that fact out thanks to glitches and refuses to stay in.
  • Blind Seer: A half-case: Anansi Padma is blind in one eye, but it doesn't seem relevant at all to her seeing the future. In fact, it was her trying to stop the future from happening that caused her to become blind in one eye and lose her arms.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Snow, when stabbed through the heart with a wooden sword. He laughs like a maniac all the while.
  • Body Horror: When a half-werebeast attempts to shapeshift into a beastly form, the results are visceral and pathetic enough to make Snow (him of the "torture is what I do for FUN") draw a magical misericordia.
  • The Book Cipher: The repair journal has two levels of security. It's written in the same magical script that the Listing of Names uses, making it only readable for Readers. The second level is that, on the surface, the book is a silva rerum (a handwritten collection of anything the author found interesting), but the tidbits of information come from other books in the library, except with words missing. These words form the actual text. It takes Tuff an entire night and help from the librarian to figure this out.
  • Bookends: The comic begins and ends with Raven and Credenza on the beach on Ruin Island at night. In the first pages, she's rescuing him, an utterly confused shipwrecked stranger, in the last pages they're dancing and making plans for their future together.
  • Breaking Speech:
    • Shadomandyr Queen to Raven:
      Queen: What makes you think you even have the right to defy master Raven? He made you perfect! Without sadness, without fear, the ultimate warrior and servant. And now look at you, you aren't even a real human. You do not know how to be. You've never had to feel your own emotions before. I am doing you a favor by ending your life. After being a spirit, free of body, mind and soul, how can you live like this? Trapped within that fleshy shell. Do you know what that is, coursing through your body? It is fear. One of the emotions Raven shielded you from. Horrible, isn't it?
    • Lucinda attempts this on Tabitha:
      Lucinda: Your weakness, miss Tabitha, is that you are only ruled by your heart. I however have been separated from these debilitating emotions. Raven has changed me for the better. I am no longer that fragile girl with breakable heart.
    • Snow does this a lot both in waking world and in the dream world, including a They Died Because of You targeted at Clair.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The shoe Credenza lost fighting scraptors reappears at the end of the book being used as a boat by underworld mice.
    • Vanesse's comment that Credenza likes older men. She ends up with Raven, who's technically over a thousand years old.
    • Credenza complains about people mistaking her room for the bathroom back in book 1. In the epilogue, she meets Knull again as she's putting up a sign pointing at bathrooms. Also, Knull had used a "bathroom break" excuse to sneak out in book 10.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Han has... a tendency to taunt people who can kill him six ways to Sunday. Including Snow. And weresharks. It never goes well for him, and he never learns.
    • Salvo is bitingly racist towards were-sharks and dragons. Actual dragons. Good for him Kroft's a Cool Old Guy.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: Raven's Maze of Dreams experience is a Slice of Life (modeled on the memories of an AI engineer from the precursor civilisation who created the Raven) featuring Credenza as his wife, Blitz as their dog and the Luck brothers as his role-playing buddies. Simon, humanified Tin-Can and Uru are his co-workers, and Listy is a search engine. Some other characters are mentioned by name.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Anthony didn't kill captain Syn's fiance Syn did and framed him. Ditto for Blitz and that guy whose body he was found crouching over, literally caught red-handed.
      Blitz: I didn't do it.
    • Paolin having misgivings about Blitz (who isn't an evil spirit, but is, at the point, possessed by one):
      Paolin: [Blitz] could be an evil spirit trying to use your good nature against you!
    • Whenever Clair repeats something Benjamin told her, because Cassie thinks he's her Imaginary Friend.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: The villains are somewhat more prone to witty banter than the heroes, but both sides have their moments.
  • The Cavalry: In the finale, thanks to Willium's preparations, Kroft rallying dragons from Quillotia and Paolin opening a magic door to get them on place, on time.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Credenza's Flashback Nightmare in book 2.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Credenza just keeps falling off heights. Sometimes she gets caught during the fall:
    • On Hidden Island, when the group's attempt to get into the abbey goes a little crazy, she's caught by Raven (in Blitz's body), and they both crash through the arboretum glass roof.
    • Snow attempts to send Credenza to her death by dropping her into the Exigo core, but Blitz transforms and dives in right after her, to catch her in the nick of time.
  • Cathartic Chores: Alice folds laundry to calm herself after a fight with Riley.
  • Cathartic Exhalation: Raven lets out a relieved breath after Paolin's questioning and final decision that he can stay in book 10.
  • Ceiling Cling:
    • In book 2, Raven in Blitz's body hides among the pipes in Paollo's sub.
    • Tuff hides among the ceiling beams in the tower after transforming and massacring the ravens.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Later chapters rarely take place during the day, action persists but is mostly dominated by drama, and there is much more actual bloodshed to be had.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The poot owl Credenza had sent from Paper Island to tell the Burillas she's okay found them in Quillotia as they were looking for her - this is how The Cavalry Mikel and Willium have started assembling got to the right place on time.
    • Anthony's watch is first found in Holly's strange setup of seemingly random items in the lab.
    • The well Clair falls into. Cassie uses it later to escape Snow. And Clair uses it to bury him, though that doesn't work.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Aside from Charlie, actually Uru under a Forced Transformation spell, when Snow begins using the gauntlet containing all of the heirs' abilities, the heir whose power he gets the most use out of (and, in turn, the one who's able to counteract him) is Paollo.
    • One who has been there from the very start... Sure, Snow, abuse the antimage all you want, it's not like he'll turn against you and... oh, Knull's just teamed up with Credenza in the dream world and lent her his powers. Figures.
  • Circling Birdies:
    • While the comic is still on the comical side:
      Credenza: Heh heh... Pweety lights...
    • When Paollo's waking up from a vision in book 2:
      Tusura: Okay, Paollo, how many fingers am I holding up?
      Paollo: Look! Stars!
      Tusura: Close enough.
  • Clever Crows: The Big Bad is The Great Raven, an ancient spirit, fearfully clever, terribly powerful, trapped beneath the Earth with a magic seal. Also present is Raven, who used to be a spiritual handservant for The Great Raven. He's also clever, but he went through a series of events (not least of which was outliving his usefulness) that shook his world and made him switch loyalties.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Really tall cliffs are a natural defense for the Hidden Island abbey, along with Tunnel Wyrms. The group solves this by surprising Raven and having him fly over.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • When Shadomandyr Queen rips Simon's clothes off while possessing him to taunt the heroes, Credenza comments
      Credenza: Was it really necessary to get rid of [his] clothes, or was that just for effect?
    • Tuff's transformations end up with him needing to borrow clothes, until he gives up and gets himself some Magic Pants.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Different magic, different colors. This is unrelated to elements (magic is generally non-elemental in this setting), but most magic users get their own color.
  • Comfort Food: Dragons have dragon tea, which according to Cassie used to cheer her dragon friend up on cold, wet days. She cooks some (with Tuff's help) for the dragons in the final Dénouement and it's very appreciated (even by Riley). It has tea in it, but
    Tuff: It's mostly oat mash, milk and bonemeal, mixed with herbs and spices.
  • Comically Missing the Point: From the Snowflakes intermission, when captain Snow is showing his mechanical arm off to his daughter:
    Snow: This isn't a toy! It's an insanely dangerous toy. This arm is made with the technology of the ancients who made the Archipelago! At its full power, it is capable of being an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction! ...You don't get one of these until you're at least eighteen, young lady.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Wereshark society is apparently very dark and violent, with an atavistic focus on blood and feeding. Weresharks raised away from it are perfectly friendly (like Tuff, Riley, and their father), though their fight-or-flight instincts can be easily triggered by a strong scent of blood or the sight of a loved one being injured.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A few, mostly regarding the identity of the heirs. In order;
    • Kor, one of the heirs, happened to work for Vaniji Ralo, who knew Captain Snow personally and was gifted both Paollo's guards to Mind Control them into slaves and Charlie.
    • The second-to-last heir is Anthony/Blitz's daughter.
    • The final heir, Uru, not only is Credenza's best friend from her days of slavery on Snow's ship, but was actually Charlie the entire time. This gives him a personal connection to Snow and Credenza, our main protagonist and antagonist, and to Kor, another heir.
    • Anthony and Clair's home was built on top of the very ship that the Great Raven is sealed inside of.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Riley, when Alice's soul is stolen, stays with her whenever he can, cares for her and fills the heartbreaking silence by telling her about his dreams for the future and everything that comes to mind.
  • Creepy Ravens: No actual birds, but the Big Bad is called The Great Raven and looks distinctly birdlike. His minions have a raven theme. As to creepiness, their hosts all have a red left eye (the raven spirits' point of entry), possess people by a Deal with the Devil and can soulseal them when the deal stops being profitable to the great raven cause. A good number of them are also Ax-Crazy.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Blitz. His hidden badassery first emerges when he saves Credenza from shadomandyrs. Later, in the underworld, the high level of background magic, combined with Dragonfly's gift allows him to use a spiritual/magical version of his dragon form without transforming, which he can't at the moment and turn scraptors into mincemeat with an impressive Slasher Smile on his face. Later, he casually rips the arm off Snow, Blowing a Raspberry. And that's before we even learn he's a dragon.
    • Kor is a flighty, fickle, weak-willed, Serial Romeo meter-tall bird-man actor. He's also an heir, and holds his own against Snow in a sword fight.
  • Crush Blush: All the boys in Credenza's group get these every now and then - Raven for Credenza (this starts being mutual in book 7), Riley when he sees Alice in battle (and after kissing her for the first time), Tuff for Cassie.
  • Crush the Keepsake: When sending Credenza to her death in book 10, Snow crushes the Soul Key. He thinks this will take away her power, but actually, since the Key is just an Amplifier Artifact, it just removes her limitations.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Very early on, dream!Paollo attempts to warn Credenza of events to come (Raven, the heirs, basically the main plotline), but she has no idea what he's talking about.
    Paollo: Darnit, what's the point of being omniscient when no one else is?
  • Curse Cut Short: Of the injured-mid-sentence variety.
    Raven: Curse it, Snow! You soul thieving son of a b- *gets a baseball bat into solar plexus* -UHK!
  • Cute Little Fangs: Clair, being the daughter of a half-dragon and a full dragon. Kor could almost count given his small and "huggable" appearance, but he usually only bares them when he looks like he wants to rip out someone's throat with them.
  • Cuteness Proximity: In the epilogue, Clair (aged seven) towards a baby:
    Clair: How are you so fat and cute?!
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: The most visible way the Luck brothers contrast each other is Tuff's general pessimism and Riley's eternal optimism. This dialogue is the twins in a nutshell:
    Riley: What gift did you get from Dragonfly?
    Tuff: You tell me! As far as I know he just zapped me because he thought it was funny. Story of my life.
    Riley: Don't be like that. Maybe he cured your ulcers?
    Tuff: The ones you gave me?
    Riley: Very funny. I wouldn't worry, you always figure it out in the end.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters have their moments, but Raven snarks most often.
    Raven: Nice try, Riley, but it will take more than halitosis to scare me.
  • Deal with the Devil: The ravens' modus operandi - they offer your heart's desire (or what they think your heart's desire is) in exchange for serving the Great Raven. Knull's is basically "we will not kill you gruesomely", though.
  • Death by Childbirth: Chesska, driving her husband, Anthony, to deep depression and finally leading to his taking a berch on a merchant ship and getting marooned, which is how he enters the story.
  • Death by Racism: Salvo, the guard who harrasses Tuff for being a wereshark, is torn to pieces by transformed Tuff, because he betrayed Quillotia to the Great Raven. He was also rude to Kroft, calling him "king's pet dragon" and trying to boss him around.
    Salvo: Letting a dog eat at the table doesn't make it a guest.
  • Death Glare: While kidnapping an heir, who is unconscious at the moment, Kurr and Han complain about having to carry the victim...
    Kurr: I don't care if she's a girl, I'll still beat her up for shoving this job on us-
    Lucinda gives him a look of DOOM
    Snow: You want to make her carry the body? Go ahead, but I won't clean up your bodies afterward.
  • Death of Personality: Anthony, for all intents and purposes, dies shortly before his body washes ashore on the Ruin Island. We learn why and how later. Blitz, the new personality, is stated by all those who knew Anthony to act and hold himself completely differently. Cassie, however, notices some of Anthony's mannerisms in Raven.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In the main story, color is reserved for magical effects, making large battles bright and dramatic. Dreams and flashbacks - all flashbacks, including Snowflakes, a side story about Snow set just before the series began - are done in full color.
  • Dénouement: Except book 2, where the action segues straight into a cliffhanger, each book has a large scale scene-sequel composition: things build up to the big action sequence and then there is the aftermatch with all the emotional fallout and the out-figuring of things. This does not preclude Wham Shots and Wham Lines.
  • Dem Bones: Snow steals some wereshark bones from Quillotia, animates them and uses them later to attack Credenza and Alice. Which is just a distraction from kidnapping Kor.
  • Demonic Possession: Ravens' modus operandi.
    • The Shadomandyr Queen is possessing Simon right when we first meet him.
    • When the Raven sees Dragonfly, he possesses Snow to personally duel his most hated enemy. Oh, and the Raven causes Snow to change into a massive raven with a shock of white feathers on his head.
  • Desk Sweep of Rage: When Raven's latest jewellry piece just isn't coming out right, he starts yelling at it (or at himself) and sweeps the worktable. This is probably displacement, as he's Too Upset to Create after his argument with Credenza.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Quillotian masonmages (Mikel is one) shape and control stone, which is quite handy for construction.
  • Disney Villain Death: Lucinda, having finally learned the truth about Corveau, plunges herself off a cliff, pulling along Han who wronged her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Knull, after eight books worth of abuse, finally snaps after Lucinda's death and attempts to kill Snow, who casually tells him he had arranged the entire Corveau situation. Then, in the dreamscape, Knull finds Credenza and, using his Anti-Magic, helps her kill Snow for good.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Snow is the supreme commander to the Great Raven army, but doesn't really care to Kill All Humans at once - it's so much more fun to kill them one by one. In the end, he says he's only been after power and doesn't care squat about the Great Raven. Right before he eats the spirit.
  • Dramatic Drop: Kor, when Tuff reads his real name from the Listing, proving that he is an heir. It later turns into a Running Gag, as Kor keeps dropping whatever drink he's holding.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • By changing him into a jabberwock on a whim, Snow unintentionally helped Uru avoid the Great Raven's notice.
    • Alice's friends telling her to have one peek at the party ( where there are two distinct groups looking specifically for her) and come right back:
    Alice: Honestly, you're acting like people are looking specifically for me!
    • He's just asking for it...
    A raven-possessed quillotian noble: We're the scariest thing in this castle.
    Han screams, running past in panic because the freshly transformed and seriously irked Tuff is chasing him; cue massacre
    • In book 8, the seranith of Anthony's household arguing about whether or not he's coming back... as Blitz and company is twelve hours away. And most of them are certain he will be back. Clair later says he's coming back for sure, since all he has is there.
    • During a sparring, Zatachi tells Kor he has to be prepared for anything in real combat. Right on cue, Charlie jumps in between them.
    • Raven's Maze of Dreams only works because he thinks Credenza's dead. But we know Blitz rescued her and they're trying to find their way back to the team.
  • Dream Walker: This is an ancient, sacred art on Eastern Continent. Paollo, who has beed trained in it all his life, still has trouble with aspects like Psychic Block Defense. Talking in Your Dreams is a common early sign of this, according to Paollo's guards, as is reliving past experiences in dreams Like, for instance, a series of Flashback Nightmares Credenza's been having for the entire story. A dream walker can not only enter others' dreams, but reshape them unnoticed, unless the other person is a dream walker themselves. Battle in the Center of the Mind is a subtle endeavour.
    Tatami: A war of dreams cannot be won by simply building walls around your mind. You must use your dreams, wield them like weapons and listen to what they tell you.
  • *Drool* Hello: In book 7, Kor sees a suspicious liquid drop from the ceiling... Kurr's drool, and Kor - in his tiny spiritual form - just walked into werehyena mouth.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Even the heart crystal (the main power source, ridiculously expensive but essential part of an archipelagian submarine) in brothers' Luck sub gets (temporarily) put back together with duct tape, reinforcing the After the End vibe.
  • Dull Surprise: Lucinda, most of the time. Even when attacked by an angry seranith out of the blue. Justified, since her deal with the Raven was putting her emotions "over there, in a corner, where they can't hurt her".
  • Dumb Struck:
    • Lucas (Anthony's crewmate), when seeing Blitz for the first time, is reduced to shoving his colleague in shock.
    Authur: WHAT IS IT? All I see is the waitress and... Great sky maker above... ANTHONY?
    • After Tuff tells them the big revelation in the last scene of book 7, Credenza and Raven just stare at him, mouths open.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Looking back on the first few chapters can invoke this. The stronger gear/broken metal aesthetic (the screws and gears sticking out of rocks), bigger emphasis on action and fights (and an almost MOTW setup to go along with it; Syn, the Shadowmandyrs, the Listing of Names, and the Great Raven) are phased out by chapter 6.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lucinda. Justified - she had her heart broken (by a man hinted and later confirmed to have something to do with the Raven, no less), and her price for joining the Raven was to have her heart really broken all the way through, so she couldn't feel pain anymore.
  • Empathic Environment:
    • In Quillotia, it starts raining just as Tuff walks out of his argument with Mikel. It keeps raining throughout the battle with ravens, reflecting Tuff's tumultous state of mind.
    • Dramatic Thunder punctuates Kor's duel with Snow.
    • The entire dramatic, full of revelations book 8 takes place in the rain that turns into a storm with Dramatic Thunder at key moments. The island it happens on is stated to be very rainy.
  • Empty Shell: Those whose souls have been removed from their bodies (by the use of Snow's mechanical arm) lose all agency and just sit there or mindlessly trudge behind whoever's taking care of them, while their souls are locked up in the arm. The souls, however, retain their drive (if most of them don't retain the ability to speak). Paollo's body seems to have a little more initiative than others, maybe because his soul stays nearby, maybe because he's a dream walker. In any case, it can drag unconscious seranith to safety.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Captain Snow seems oddly protective of his nephew, Knull. Snowflakes introduces Noemi (Snow's wife) and Yula (his daughter), but ultimately deconstructs the trope; Snow kills his mother in a flashback, and Noemi points out that his love for her and their daughter wouldn't stop him from hurting either of them eventually.
    • The trope is further deconstructed in the story proper - it's precisely the people he "loves" who bear the brunt of his cruelty. Snow may sometimes act friendly, may do a good deed on occasion, but ultimately he's just a cruel man.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Snow, an avid tea affectionado, once berated his crew for trying to burn down a tea house. He also refrained from warning them when the shop owner proceeded to poison every cup (including his), deciding that if they couldn't see that coming, they weren't good enough to serve as his crew in the first place.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Raven spirits are no psychologists and don't really understand love, loyalty or empathy. Consequently, they tempt with money, power, pleasure, revenge or relief from emotional pain, which worked great for Lucinda, but attempted on Anthony caused him to change his mind, precisely because he loved his daughter and didn't want to forget her. When someone's having second thoughts, the ravens tend to goad their paranoia.
  • Evil Genius: Snow apparently has medical training, has jury rigged medical implements using advanced tech, and at one point animates skeletons. Other than that, he can be pretty cunning, and when he isn't laughing maniacally, he's quite capable of biding his time instead of attacking like a fool.
    Snow: Attempting to break in by force is silly and a waste of time.
    Steller: You're wrong! We've already found the way in, and now it's only a matter of time before-
    Soldier: Um, sir, the diggers have run into a problem. They've tunneled down twenty feet and hit metal. They can't dig any further. The lab must be mostly buried under the ground, and all of it is made from the same magic... resistant... I... I think I'll be going now.
  • Evil Hand: If you look closely, in the flashback to Anthony gouging his raven-infected eye out, he's using his left hand, and his right is trying to stop him.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Credenza describes stepping on a shadomandyr as "like stepping into cold water". They generally feel cold and clammy (Tuff compares them to tapioca).
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Tuff while deciphering the journal (he forgot to sleep for two days straight and it seems like he Forgets to Eat, too). Credenza when she can't sleep, because Snow keeps attacking her in her dreams.
  • Explosive Breeder: Apparently, moofs. Enough to make Credenza's Surprise Inspection Ruse to get on board of a certain sub believable.
    Credenza: Do you know what happens if those things get in your submarine and multiply!? (shudder)
  • Explosive Leash: The collars Snow's old pirating crew put on werebeast captives (e.g. on Uru) had spikes on the inside. Why? To kill the captive if he tries to transform, because transforming bulks werebeasts up.
  • Eye Scream: Ravens always enter (and leave) the host through their left eye. Because of this, Anthony gouges his own left eye out trying to stop a raven from possessing him. And that's how Anthony dies and Blitz is born.
  • Faceless Masses: The Torches and Pitchforks crowd Simon assembles on Coin Island. In the green magical crowd of Credenza's supporters in the final dream, only her closest friends: Tuff, Riley, Raven and Blitz have faces.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Riley and Alice going to the market together in Quillotia.
  • Fake Defector: During the events of book nine, Raven willingly turns himself in to the Great Raven's army to ransom for captured Credenza. He gives a pretty convincing speech, and just when it seems like he's ready to give everyone else up so Credenza can live... his friendly dragon crewmate flies in, strafing the ravens with fire.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Weresharks are seen as deadly dangerous predatory monsters (and culturally, that's not far off the mark). Tuff and Riley Luck, as half-bloods (they had a human mother), face all the prejudice sharkmen are subject to, and more from their shark kin. It's especially bad in Quillotia, the Luck brothers' home city, which has a large population of wereorcas, who hate weresharks with a special zeal.
    • Dragons, or at least the Solair clan, tend to treat everyone who isn't a full-blooded dragon as beneath them.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: The Soul Key, which Paollo gives Credenza in their first shared vision. She wakes up somewhat puzzled to be wearing it. The Key serves as both training wheels for her magic and a literal key to several locked things.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Captain Snow, most of the time, is very laid-back, prone to jokes and humorous asides, and just when you forget he's a ruthless pirate, the scourge of the Archipelago, and so on, he casually kills someone, smiling all the way. He puts it to good use getting Holly to do his bidding. She genuinely believes Snow is a nice, kind, helpful man.
  • Field Power Effect: The underworld, the belly of the Archipelago, or the insides of the ship that became it. The decidedly weird scenery is a result of a particularly strong magic there that mutates living creatures (scraptors are feral, mutated seranith) and allows spirits and Blitz's dragon soul/form to be seen by everyone.
  • Fighting from the Inside:
    • Vander thinks he is. Actually, the Great Raven is just toying with him and soulseals him the moment Vander's attempt to kill Tuff and Listy fails.
    • Benjamin during the final battle is fighting with all his power, but needs a little help from Raven to actually win.
  • Fireworks of Love: The wedding reception in the epilogue features a fireworks display. The first one goes off just as Cassie is about to kiss Tuff.
  • Five-Man Band: Unusual in that the Leader is a woman and her team is all guys. Credenza is The Hero, the one who formally was given The Quest, and also a reasonable, levelheaded, but intuitive Team Mom who organises the group and keeps everyone on track, all the while being the team idealist and emotional center. Raven, who's new to humanity and stumbling on social skills stuff (he used to be a bad guy), and as The Cynic to Credenza's optimism, is The Lancer. Doubles as The Smart Guy in spirit-related and tactical matters. Riley is The Big Guy, an uncomplicated, extroverted bloke with a BFS. Tuff is The Smart Guy, prevented from being a Genius Bruiser by being Afraid of Their Own Strength (and other neuroses), a philosophical, bookish, serious young man, later also in charge of plotting the course for their search as the Reader of the Listing of Names. Finally Blitz is The Heart the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass who believes in Credenza with all his heart, no matter how much she doubts herself.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Credenza has these throughout the story, remembering Uru and their escape attempt from Snow's sub. They present her backstory more or less chronologically. Other characters also get these on occassion.
  • Food as Bribe: Pie. Pie is always good if you want a boy to do things for you.
    • Tabitha to Riley:
      Tabitha: Listen, boy, just for tolerating you, the least you could do is open the door. Besides, there might be some pie in it for you.
      Riley: Wait... not... fish pie?
      Tabitha: Y'know, I think it just might be fish.
      Riley: You own my soul.
    • Later, Credenza to Raven:
      Credenza: I could make you some chocolate pie when we get back! You love chocolate!
      Raven: I am an ancient spirit of the dark. You think you can bribe me with a mere pastry?
      Credenza: You're a little man made of ectoplasm. And you have a sweet tooth.
    • A meta example in the rant for page 4, book 7 (at least on Deviantart)
      Usually the Luck brothers (Riley especially) are really easy to write, but this page gave me some difficulty. At least, until I gave them a box of cookies as a prop. Then they were plenty cooperative.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Luck brothers, Riley being the impulsive happy-go-lucky one and Tuff being the serious, thoughtful one with foresight. Except their escape from home had been Tuff's idea, and Riley's dream is to settle down with his One True Love.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots and lots of small details that prove important later.
    • Book 2, page 47, Blitz says "Even if they throw me in the ocean, I'll just swim and swim until I find you again." Credenza takes it for his typical sillyness. Fifteen pages later, guess what happens.
    • Password to the underworld is "Olivia". Listy knows it. Now who could Olivia be...
    • When Snow's crew is discussing plans with Vaniji:
      Kurr: Your rug fnellf funny. What are you hiding under there?
      Vaniji: The last person who made impertinent remarks about my decor.
    • Sounds like a smartass quip? He really is hiding someone - Tatami - there.
    • Credenza helps Kor take care of Charlie and discovers a lot of scarring on his back. Not only they had the same abusive owner - Snow - but Charlie is actually Uru.
    Kor: He's always had those scars. He must have had an abusive owner before Vaniji brought him to me.
    Credenza: Looks like we have something in common after all, big guy.
    • Knull thinks Lucinda's put something odd in his tea when he has a strange dream that foreshadows a certain future event, namely, his Heel–Face Turn. Then he sees Han, who has been chased off the sub by Snow, steal food from the mess then vanish and thinks this is also a hallucination. It isn't and Han will be causing some more trouble later.
    • Page 73, book 7 - an observant reader will notice that when Charlie licks Credenza's cheek, there's a tiny blue magic flash and the scratch she got earlier in the book is suddenly gone. In the next chapter, it turns out Charlie's actually Uru - a healer with blue magic - put under a Forced Transformation.
    • Page 100, book 7 contains the jagged shards of Anthony's memories that start making sense in book 8.
    • While Kroft's taking them to the palace (in his dragon form) Credenza asks about dragon transformation and he goes into details. In the next panel, we have a shot of Blitz immensely enjoying flying on Kroft's back. He himself doesn't yet know that Blitz is also a dragon. This is foreshadowed a lot, though in fairly subtle ways, throughout the comic up to the eventual reveal late in book 8.
    • In books 8 and 9, eating spirits is brought up about twice, not very seriously. This is what Snow does at the end to obtain the Great Raven's power.
    • While telling Cassie about his family, Tuff mentions a masquerade ball that left some sort of bad emotional impression on him. Guess what his nightmare is in the Maze of Dreams?
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: There used to be a (now defunct) Formspring account "answered" by the characters (under ). Many answers are humorous, some are very sweet, and others are downright depressing.
  • Frameup: Just before the story actually began, Anthony was blamed for the death of his captain's fiance, which is how he ended up overboard. Turns out it was actually the captain himself who killed her when she discovered he was shipping illegal goods.
  • From a Single Cell: After captain Snow is vaporized by the defense system of the Exigo, a small chip of his machinery worms its way into the ship's systems, hijacks it, and builds him a replacement body.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Though the moment in book 7 where Snow steals Credenza's soul is very intense, it's hard not to laugh at the picture of the pterodactyl with a laser beam coming out of its mouth in the background.
    • Another moment in book 7, where an actor is accosted by a pair of... fanfiction writers.
    "You and Clarika are so romantic together!"
    "We wrote a story about you two!"
    "That's... nice."
    • In book 8, Charlie sneaks in and steals the chicken while humans are talking. He also squeezes Kor protectively (so hard Kor's eyes bulge) when Snow's in the middle of Evil Gloating.
  • Gilligan Cut: Murphy's in book 1, page 60:
    Credenza: If you [Blitz] are all Raven has, we're not in a terrible amount of danger, are we, eh?
    Cut to Lucinda reporting to Snow about a crushed cell of resistance.
  • Grand Finale: After 11 years and well over a thousand pages it would be strange if it didn't end this way. It's a huge, epic battle with a giant mecha monster, interspersed with a Battle in the Center of the Mind, with several prominently badass characters Back for the Finale (with reinforcements, including flying dragons), and a description really doesn't do it justice.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Willium's priority is the safety of innocent bystanders, so he'd rather use a dangerous "wildcard" spell than allow a giant Snow-possessed Robeast near a town.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Pan, a quillotian guard, is introduced testing a pair of new goggles of griffin make that exist, along with their wearer, in physical and spiritual world at the same time, allowing the wearer to see auras and spirits. Later, Raven borrows them to temporarily give himself a physical form. And because he's wearing them when Credenza overloads her magic, he gets a human body for a moment. This seems to be the seed that afterwards, gradually, develops into a proper physical body.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:invoked Crumbs! (Word of God says that it's hard to come up with G-rated swears.)
    • Alice is trying to untie a bag rather urgently. It's got lots of tight knots. So Alice, a girl raised around sailors, starts swearing at it like only she can:
      Alice: Crumbs! Toast crumbs! Toast crumbs with butter and jam you stupid bag!
    • Paolo, however, is simply too nice and well-brought up to call Snow anything worse than "son of a salesman".
    • Raven lets out a literal "What the heck?!" after colliding with a chair since he didn't realize he had legs already.
    • Tin-Can Turtle when a plan derails:
      Tin-Can Turtle: Oh, crumbs.
  • The Great Repair: The team's plan when besieged in Holly's lab, which is actually Benjamin's ship, but it needs repairs before they can get it running and escape in it and sort the Raven out.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Beastmen and regular humans can interbreed. Hybrids can have some werebeast traits like strength, danger-sense, or a powerful sense of smell, but shapeshifting into a more animalistic form is generally right out— they can try, but it just isn't biologically viable. Tuff, himself a half-wereshark, describes the result as looking something like tuna casserole. Riley trying this in desperation is bad enough to make Snow decide a Mercy Kill is in order. Half-dragons also exist (Chesska was one).
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: If you look closely, Luck brothers' sub in the first couple of books has hamster wheels powering, according to the rant, non-essential parts of the ship. Other subs including the new one they get from Mikel don't have these. Riley mentions having to feed them, too.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Raven, after he gets a soul, doesn't begin to follow the heroes out of his own free will immediately, but gets there pretty fast and stays there.
    • Much, much later after Lucinda's death Knull decides he's done with following his uncle's orders.
  • Heinz Hybrid:
    • Vaniji is an "Archipelagan Mutt," a mix of human, Avian, were-cat, and Cloven, which balances out to "looks mostly human with a few vestigial features" like tiny, useless wings and a tail.
    • Most of the were-creature and beastmen races are technically these, as well. Weresharks were engineered using traits from gorillas and Komodo dragons as well as sharks. Fish-people like Cassie were engineered using cuttlefish and electric eels, among other things. According to the creator, "This is what comes of being raised watching Animal Planet."
  • Heroic BSoD: After transforming for the first time and massacring the bad guys in Quillotia, Tuff is found huddled in a corner, and Mikel has to, very gently, coax him into getting up and putting one foot before the other. Stress Vomit is involved. In the infirmary Tuff just curls up on a bed, face buried in his arms. It takes him until the next morning to start talking about it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • If Snow had killed Knull instead of just rendering him unconscious, or if he had never kidnapped the boy in the first place, Knull would have never ended up in the dreamscape just as Credenza needed his help. If Snow hadn't had Han seduce Lucinda, which led to her death, or if he didn't allow her and Knull to become close, Knull would have had much less motivation and grit to lend The Hero a hand to kill his uncle.
    • Come to think of it, if Snow didn't separate Credenza from the group right before the final battle, her task in the Maze of Dreams would be significantly harder, maybe impossible.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    • Alice won't be kept away from Riley by wild jabberwockies.
    • Speaking of jabberwockies, Kor brings up a known joke when explaining he can't control Charlie:
      Kor: It's like the joke "Where does a three-hundred pound manticore sit?" "Anywhere it wants."
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Second book, Captain Snow versus the Royal Guard. It ends pretty quickly, though, with pirates Boarding Party entering the sub.
  • How We Got Here: Book 8 begins with Credenza's group approaching Penumbra Island and getting shot at by the Penumbra castle cannon. Then the narration goes back twelve hours to show us why. This part of the story also contains a Flashback to how the characters currently living on Penumbra Island came to be there.
    The rant: The fact that Cassie and Clair and the rest are all situated in one place means that they have a lot of history built up, and that's one of the reasons I changed the perspective of the story to follow them for a short time. I felt that to understand these characters we needed to see where they were coming from, and I thought it would be more interesting to follow them through the events for a while rather than try to have them explain it all verbally later.
  • Humanity Ensues: All the A.I.s but The Great Raven in the back-story. Our Raven's starts at the end of book 6 from Credenza's magic overload, and is completed in book 7, triggered by strong emotions.
  • Human Shield: The Shadomandyr Queen uses Simon as one.
  • Hulking Out: Were-beasts, especially were-sharks can transform and go berserk when their loved ones are in danger, especially at the sight or smell of blood. This happens to Tuff during the attempted coup in Quillotia (he's one of the reason it ends at "attempted") and later on Paper Island when the bad guys draw blood from Riley.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Vaniji, whose modus operandi is to hypnotise people instead of reasoning with them. Whether it's an actor asking for a time off or Paollo's guards brainwashed into actors.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Apparently, Alice got this a lot, which is why she's so dissapointed when Riley says he has to leave.
  • If Only You Knew: Clair is introduced playing pretend (she does that a lot). Namely, she's pretending to rescue a princess from "an evil cyborg king". This takes place about ten hours before Snow lands on her home island to take her, and less than twenty hours before she siccs her golems at him.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • Alice's brother Lio, to Riley, when she's leaving Quillotia with the team.
      Riley: If I let anything happen to her, I'll hand you the club.
    • Uru, while they're under siege in book 9 and killing time feels enough of a big brother for Credenza to do this to Raven. The conversation derails, though.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Played with when Raven confronts a ravens(plural)-possessed Benjamin. His conversation has less to do with convincing the already convinced Benjamin, and more with goading his possessors into letting him out, so Raven can slip him a counter-spell he can use to block them.
  • Imaginary Friend: Clair's only playmate, Benjamin. Who is a Not-So-Imaginary Friend, actually.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: Blitz does it several times. Turns out that he cries when Anthony's memories of his wife are close to resurfacing, like when he dreams about her or hears a song she liked.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Snow runs Blitz through during the final battle, resulting in Only Mostly Dead.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Anthony in the backstory, because he wanted to Marry for Love and his aristocratic clan didn't approve, hence estrangement and getting cut off from the money.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Credenza breaking down in tears after their meeting with Dragonfly and his subsequent death. Raven, still on shaky ground when it comes to emotions at the point, in all seriousness makes an Improvised Cross with his fingers.
    Raven: Oh fine, I'd be upset too if I had fluid leaking out of my head.
  • In Love with Your Carnage:
    • Riley sprouts lots of little hearts watching the "three time champion of the Ladies of Quillotia Wrestling Federation and Book Club" in action. The two of them get another moment later on, when he attempts to propose to her.
    • A familial example with Snow and Yula, her father's daughter through and through.
    • Tuff for Cassie, when Cassie starts breaking golem heads with rocks.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Clair's account of how she met Benjamin is a bit simplified, with the appropriate Art Shift.
  • Inside Job: The ravens who try to take over in Quillotia have actually been put in place in advance, by possessing citizens in positions of power. The coup just gets speeded up because the Great Raven's plans are coming to a head.
  • Insult to Rocks: According to Snow, comparing Vaniji actually, a shapeshifted Han, and Snow is strongly implied to know that to chopped liver would be an insult to dog food.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: Unlike most archipelagian races, the seranith are non-humanoid, but fully sentient and very intelligent. They mostly resemble fluffy, feathered raptor dinosaurs, roughly man-sized, with a mane of feathers/hair on their heads. Personality-wise, they are loyal and generally friendly, and they don't wear many clothes, being covered with feathers.
  • Interspecies Romance: Fairly common. Avian men are infamously infatuated with women of all species, Tuff and Riley were born from one, and Mikel's wife Deliza is a beast woman. Anthony's family were opposed to his marriage to Chesska on the grounds that she's been a half-dragon and thus concubine material at best.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: The poot owls, bird-shaped magical messengers that presumably function much better than an ordinary pigeon. Unfortunately, they can be intercepted or destroyed by enemy magic.
  • Invisible to Normals: Spirits, most of the time. In the underworld, however, they're visible because of background magical field being so strong there. Experimental griffin goggles also allow one to see spirits.
    Raven: Very few people can see spirits like me. I still don't know how Credenza can. There must be an incredible amount of magical energy down here to make me visible to everyone.
  • I Owe You My Life: Blitz, to Credenza, out of thanks for giving him a name (hence, sorting out his identity). She's reluctant about that, but gladly agrees to be his friend.
  • Ironic Allergy: Inverted. Healers are immune to their own powers.
  • Just Between You and Me:
    • Captain Syn takes a moment to gloat in book 1.
    • Han-as-Vaniji, when preparing to kill Knull, tells him exactly what he's done in the backstory. To Lucinda. Who, unbeknownst to him, hears it all.
    Han back in his default form: Oh, when he found out I was disguised as his friend, I had to kill him. Which reminds me... take a guess at why I'm not scared of telling you all this?
  • Kill and Replace: Han is a shapeshifter with absolutely no morals and inexplicable desire to be on Snow's boat, whether Snow lets him in or not. So he casually offs Vaniji to take his place. Snow, however, seems to work our what happened pretty quickly and not really care.
  • Kirk Summation: Since a large and important part of the final battle takes part in the world of dreams, and is waged with words, images and magic, it's only natural that Credenza sums Snow up:
    Credenza: Is this what you see in the mirror? Is this the lie you tell yourself so your actions make sense? You're not a lion just staying true to its predatory nature. You aren't a spoiled child who doesn't know any better! You grew up into a man who could have had all the friends in the world, if you chose to see us as real people. But you'd rather play all alone by yourself, if it means you can be the king of the toy box.
    Snow (smirks): You say all this like I'm the unreasonable one.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Chesska's class in a Flashback explains some points on AI nature, particularly that they're Lost Technology and they have souls.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Uru and Credenza. Raven has his doubts about that, but ultimately learns they really are.
  • Long-Lived: Dragons live about ten times longer and age ten times slower than humans. Kroft is stated in dialogue to be over 700 and he calls a two-hundred-something dragon "young".
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: One of the lynchpin dreams in the Maze of Dreams isn't a surreal, symbolic nightmare, but a realistic, quiet vision of a mundane, happy life the dreamer thinks they could never have. This dream seems to pose the most difficulties for Credenza. Snow has the most influence on it, actively distracting the dreamer.
  • Louis Cypher: The man who broke Lucinda's heart was named Corveau note .
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Credenza loses her shoes while drowning in book 2 and remains barefoot for the entirety of book 3. She also loses a shoe fighting scraptors and spends the rest of book 5 wearing just one. This results in twisting her ankle at an inopportune moment. Later, the shoe is seen being used by magical mice as a boat.
  • Loss of Identity: A shipwrecked man rescued from the beach by our protagonist wakes up in the Burilla inn with no idea who he is or where he comes from. Credenza names him Blitz. Soon after his ship lands on the island and we learn Blitz's name used to be Anthony Solair, but he's definitely not the same person, his demeanor and mannerisms completely different. This turns out to be a bit more complicated later on.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The various cultures of the Archipelago are decidedly rustic and old-timey, with an 1800s-ish seafaring aesthetic. Yet nearly all inhabitants have access to submarines and various other modern-day conveniences, either biomechanical or magical in nature, courtesy of the Precursors.
  • Love Confession:
    • Riley to Alice, twice. First, when frantically searching for her in the rubble in Quillotia, second when she gets her soul back and he tells her how much he loves her. Then he proposes and she says yes.
    • Raven's is somewhat atypical, as he announces to the world he loves Credenza in order to distract the villains from Blitz sneaking up on them to rescue her. But she can hear everything, and he's being quite honest.
    • Credenza's confession to him, however, is understated in words, but means the world to them both emotionally.
      Credenza: You're worth my time. I want to spend it with you. However much we have left.
  • Love at First Punch: Cassie and Tuff's first meeting starts with her kicking him (in his "monster" form). He's instantly smitten.
  • Loved Ones Montage: A short one of Paollo's when he lets Credenza borrow his good memories to break out of dream prison Snow locked her in. Later, during the final confrontation, she gets a proper, long one of her own memories of growing up with the Burillas and of all her boys.
  • Luminescent Blush: Usually as Crush Blush.
  • Magic Pants: Mild and justified for beastmen (who tend to enter battles wearing only magic pants and no shirts). According to Word of God, there are actually pants designed with extra 'flies' and expanding seams, specifically for beast-men - Tuff begins to wear these somewhere around book 7. Dragons don't need them, though, as they spontaneously create magical clothes when they transform into humans. Snow thinks this is Alice's Required Secondary Powers, since her clothes change size with her (he would notice something like that).
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    • Snow's reactions to getting injured are either passing out wordlessly or an annoyed sigh. Then again, the arm immediately rebuilds whatever body parts he lost.
    • Her shoulder is bleeding thanks to kick-back from a powerful magical cannon, and this is all Lucinda has to say when someone frantically offers to patch her up.
      Lucinda: Thank you. It is incredibly painful.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Tuff and Riley's parents didn't have it as bad as they could, but still. Anthony and Chesska couldn't get married in the first place without getting estranged from his extremely snobby family.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Riley upon getting reunited with Alice when they recover her soul. He's generally a fairly weepy guy.
    • Raven when he works out what's really going on in the Maze of Dreams and later when he thinks Blitz is dead - he cries together with Credenza.
  • Messy Hair: Almost all the male good guys in varying degrees.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Simon when openly possessed by Shadomandyr Queen has black swirls instead of eyes.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: The accomplished hypnotist Vaniji tries it on Blitz and gets sucker-punched with Dark and Troubled Past.
    Raven: Broke into the wrong brain, didn't you? He looks all frail and frightened, but he has a mind that will swallow you up before it lets you take over. Take it from me, more powerful minds than yours have tried.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Vaniji's preffered method of handling his underlings.
    • Snow has always been fond of mundane mind games, but stealing Paollo's power and learning dream magic opens up an entire new world of fun for him.
      Snow: Oh, but with Paollo's magic I see so much around me! This army is filled with dreams. The dreams of maniacs, wanderers, lost souls...
  • Mirror Character: Both Credenza and Snow are (or were) normal humans with negligible magical gifts, who lost their parents, had a dramatic, traumatic experience (death for Snow, and Snow for Credenza), were granted artifacts and powers from the Big Good and Big Bad respectively, and often fall back on who they were before their careers as hero and villain - Snow out of pride, Credenza in humility. Where Credenza is able to build people up, Snow breaks them.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Sealunks, manticores and other strange animals abound, especially in the earliest pages. Paper Island has fluffy parasaurolophus as cattle, and jabberwocky has an owl mouth, fluffly feathery fur and six bear paws. Many archipelagian sentients are also mix-and-match.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Someone was apparently crazy enough to give Snow a doctorate, though his backstory mentions that he was kicked out of med school for proposing an unethical experiment. He's still probably fully trained though.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: So maybe she needs someone to hold her up in their arms so she can look the baddie in the eye, but don't go against a part-dragon when there's death on the line.
    Clair: My name is Clairissin Solair. The machine we're all living in is named Benjamin, and he's my friend! Your bad bird men are hurting him! So you gotta stop. Because anyone left on the island in a few minutes is in big trouble, so you'd better make all your bad bird men go away right this minute!
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Tin Can Turtle can tell Willium's attracted to someone, so he logically thinks it's the girl in the room, Credenza. It's really Nim, with whom he's just had a scuffle.
    Tin Can Turtle: I smell your reaction to beauty and you've been near someone very attractive.
  • Mushroom Samba:
    • The magical smoke in the underworld causes realistic, not funny at all hallucinations in everyone who has lungs: Credenza confronts Snow, the brothers start fighting each other and Blitz sees Anthony's memories
    Blitz (crying): I can't die, I need to go home, she needs me.
    • Knull thinks Lucinda's put something odd in his tea when he has a strange dream that foreshadows a certain future event. Seeing Han (who isn't supposed to be on the ship at that point) steal food from the mess then vanish only makes him certain of it. Han was really there.
    Knull: Lucinda! Could you explain exactly what you've been putting in my tea?!
  • Narrative Shapeshifting: Listing of Names, being a book, is mute and can only communicate this way.
  • Neck Snap: Back in book 2, Tatami discovers you can kill raven servants this way. They are hard to off otherwise.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While Benjamin using his one remaining Disintegrator Ray shot on Snow is pretty sensible, dumping the dust, which can regenerate From a Single Cell into his fuel core only puts the villain right where he wants to be.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Captain Snow is an undead cyborg pirate king.
  • "No More Holding Back" Speech: After Olivia gives her advice, reassurance and energy, Credenza decides she's done hiding. Cue planning the final battle.
    Credenza: We're going to get the heirs back. And then I'm going to plant my foot in Snow's face.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*:
    • The nameless (as of yet) castaway on the very first pages concludes his understandably confused and crazy rant with:
    I can't... I can't feel my wings.
    • Then he passes out. Subverted in that the comment makes perfect sense once we know a), it's Raven talking (he has wings) and b) even if it were Blitz talking, he also has wings, just not in his human body.
    • A little later:
    Tin-Can Turtle: Nnn... Willium, go take out the cookies, I hear the oven timer.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • According to Credenza, an evil spirit taking advantage of her good heart has only happened once, to date.
    • According to Paolin, Raven isn't the weirdest thing she's brought home...
    • Nim, after cutting herself and Willium out of the smoldering remains of the Shadomandyr Queen, simply states "That was definitely the third weirdest thing to ever happen to me."
    • We're not sure what happened at Mikel's 21st birthday party, but when he brings it up in comparison with Snow's attack on Castle Quillotia, after which parts of said castle are turned into rubble, you know it has to have been crazy.
    • Tuff says Mikel has lost a game of chess to an iguana once. Mikel claims the iguana was enchanted and it cheated.
    • Even Snow has Noodle Incidents in his past:
      Snow: Ha! You think a trapdoor is enough to intimidate me?! Half of my fondest childhood memories involve trapdoors!
    • Apparently Kor made Charlie wear a funny hat once and took pictures.
    • How Uru ended up captured by pirates in his youth:
      Uru: There was this one time with a crew of pirates where all I had was a dressmaker's dummy and a few drinking songs...
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The Darkeyes. Not all of them are actually dead bodies, as Snow can form them from whatever material is handy, but they look like human corpses. Later on they're explicitly called golems.
  • Not Quite Dead: Snow, all the freaking time, because it specifically says so in his deal with the Great Raven that he can't die - whenever it looks like he died, and there's several instances, he just casually gets up again (not always immediately, though). Until, of course, he's properly and finally killed, although Raven isn't absolutely sure there won't be surprises.
  • Ocean Madness: Anthony was already going mad as it was, hopeless on his little raft with no land in sight, when a raven spirit landed beside him and offered him a Deal with the Devil.
  • Ocean Punk: Submarines are the go-to mode of transport on the Archipelago. Submarine Pirates are a real danger, weresharks and wereorcas are a fairly common sight and quite a lot of the denizens' lives revolves around sailing, fishing and other marine activities.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Han's expression when Tuff finally snaps and transforms.
      Tuff: Please go on... Tell me more about how you were planning to kill my brother.
    • Credenza, when realising the animated wereshark skeletons attack was just a distraction...
    • Vaniji, seeing his cane about to be destroyed.
    • Credenza hearing Snow's voice at the worst possible moment (book 10, pg 40).
  • One Person, One Power: A side effect of the nature of magic in the Archipelago. Most magic-users have one signature ability (a major exception is Clair, who has two).
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • Lucinda, after learning Han was Corveau, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against him. When he stabs her, it appears like she died, but suddenly the blood turns black with red swirls, her hair turns black with red streaks, her eyes both turn into black holes and she gets up, covered in magic tendrils. Knull tries to talk her down, but Lucinda "only has the strenght for this one final thing".
    • Snow merges with the Exigo and eats the Great Raven to become a Robeast with something very badly put together inside that battles our heroes, even as Raven explains to him that body is not viable (Snow doesn't care).
  • Only Mostly Dead: In the final battle, Snow physically skewers Blitz's heart and crushes his dream form at the same time. He has a genuine near-death experience and is only saved by Olivia's Arm merging with him - when Snow gives it up.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • While interrogating Knull in book two, the reasonable, friendly Credenza goes nuts at the very suggestion that Snow is alive. Blitz has to hold her back. Unfortunately, Knull is telling the truth.
      Credenza: YOU'RE LYING! He can't be back! Not after all this time! He's been dead for six years! How dare you mock the hundreds he killed by even suggesting that Captain Snow could return!
    • While recuperating in Tin-Can's kitchen after all the action of book 5, which included Dragonfly dying in a duel with Great Raven, which she blames herself for, even though he told her not to, Raven notices Credenza isn't smiling and deduces something's wrong. This leads to an emotional conversation between the two.
    • Lucinda swears while looking for Tuff in the theatre prop rooms:
      Lucinda: I only saw him for a moment, but I'd recognize that man anywhere. That sharkman. That animal. That false reader. That %@$!&?* who stole my book.
    • She's generally Not So Stoic where the Listing of Names is concerned.
    • Lucinda's final Villainous Breakdown begins with Laughing Mad. And this is only the beginning.
  • Orphanage of Love: The nunnery on the Hidden Island.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Word of God sorts them into four major tribes, with distinctive physical traits: Summer (fire breath), Fall (poison), Winter (ice), and Spring (acid). The first dragon we're properly introduced to, Kroft, is a Winter dragon, and Anthony/Blitz is a Summer dragon. They all can shapeshift into a human form. At least some of them form clans that view everyone else (especially half-dragons) with disdain.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: If it weren't for their six limbs and weird retractable Xenomorph mouth, Jabberwockies could pass as owlbears.
  • Our Souls Are Different: They can be removed from bodies, but then cover themselves with a protective layer of magic and look like a chibi representation of the person. Most of disembodied souls can't speak, but they all exhibit emotions and drive like normal and generally want to get back home (a soulless body only keeps the vegetative functions).
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Were-beasts are an everyday sight in this setting, and often casually referred to as such, when they're not slingning slurs in each other's direction (weresharks and wereorcas, for instance, have a long-standing feud). Known races include werecats (like Tabitha and Lydia), werehyenas and other canines (Kurr), weresharks (Tuff and Riley are half-weresharks), and wereorcas (Uru). There are also some non-were beast man species as well, who seem to have obvious animal features prominently integrated into their humanoid forms, like avian (bird-men) wings. Since this is After the End, there are strong hints that at least some of those were engineered by the precursor civilisation as living weapons.
  • Overclocking Attack: During that fateful party in Quillotia Raven and Credenza figure out they could stop Knull's stopping everyone from using their powers to fight back by overloading them. It does work, although a bit more destructively than intended. And more creatively, since this triggers Raven's eventual embodying.
  • Painful Transformation: Were-beasts who lack certain Required Secondary Powers, such as the half-breed Luck brothers. Tuff receives said powers as a gift from Dragonfly. Riley... doesn't. When he tries to transform in rage, Snow wants to give him a Mercy Kill.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Each character has a specific font in their speech balloons to represent their "voice."
    • When Vaniji is brainwashing someone, the font in his Speech Bubbles becomes the color of his magic.
    • When Tuff transforms in book 7, he walks in front of panel borders, and even grabs one as if to break it.
      Author: Sharktuff will not by contained by your puny comic borders!
    • Characters in murderous rage (or demons) get a heavy, shakily misaligned font.
    • Lucinda's whispered (or possibly said in a very "small", flat tone of voice?) Last Words are printed really tiny in a huge white space.
    • Several instances of Little "No" are also printed tiny, almost unreadable, in the middle of a white space.
    • So are Raven's whispered words inside the Maze of Dreams.
    • When Credenza is whispering in the Maze, her font becomes grey instead of black.
  • Palate Propping: The group attempts to defeat Shadomandyr Queen by taunting her until she tries to eat Credenza, propping her jaws open with a plank and pulling the host out. They only manage to destroy the skull demon was inhabiting, though, and now she's all in Simon.
  • Parental Abandonment: Apart from the characters whose parents were explicitly murdered by Snow in the backstory (Credenza and Knull):
    • Tuff and Riley's wereshark father disappeared before the twins were born, and their mother took off to try to find him once they turned sixteen.
    • Clair's mother died in childbirth and her father went to sea to earn money, only to dissappear without a trace. And become Blitz, so he's not coming back.
  • Parents as People: Anthony Solair does love his daughter, and his decision to keep as far away as possible from his clan, who would treat her (and Anthony's wife, too) like dirt (because she's not 100% pure blood dragon) is sensible, even if his exact way of doing this leads to financial problems. He's also unable to care for her because of a genuine case of depression, then Death of Personality.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The town callers sit in the audience, eating popcorn and commenting, as Kor and Snow's duel gets out of the prop room and onto the stage.
  • People Jars: Dragonfly is in one of these when the gang finds him. It's his life-support system and he dies after leaving it.
  • Personality Powers: Most people's magic is expressed in some way reflective of their unconscious self and the associations they make with their magic, and cannot consciously change their power any more than most people can consciously change their own personality.
  • Persona Non Grata: Tuff and Riley got kicked out of Hidden Island once. They both think it was because of Tuff's... weak head, but Tabitha explains that it was actually because Riley kept hitting on the girls there. They're allowed back in, though. The brothers are also afraid of getting this treatment in Quillotia, but Mikel, who happens to be their cousin as well as the king, doesn't really care that they stole his sub.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: According to Paolin, Credenza has brought countless dangerous beasts home, because they were injured.
  • Pictorial Speech-Bubble:
    • When a pandorian healer is fussing over Credenza after a fight, she makes her drink some sort of a medicine. Credenza's thought bubble has an image of a pissing doggy.
    • Spindle's imagination gives him a very concrete image of a teleportation accident that could happen if tired Clair teleports herself, him and Blitz one more time.
  • Please Wake Up: Clair's first reaction to Holly's death.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Depending on how you look at it, Chesska's death kickstarts the plot. If she hadn't died, Anthony probably wouldn't have gone off to the sea, got marooned, possessed by a Raven and lost his mind, turning into Blitz, wouldn't meet Credenza, and cause her to leave the island by sneaking aboard Paollo's submarine.
  • Power Floats: Credenza's magic overload lifts her a good couple of meters above the floor.
  • Power Gives You Wings: Willium's cards grant him functional magical wings. Raven spirits also grant wings of this type, but they only get big enough to fly when there's adrenaline flowing (like in battle, or when the raven is falling from a height and needs to land safely).
  • Power of Love: Memories of love are, as Paollo explains, a powerful protection in the dream world. Credenza makes good use of his advice.
  • Power of Trust: Credenza's primary qualification for being a hero isn't strenght of body or of magic, but the ability to both give and inspire trust and loyalty.
    Willium: She trusted [Luck brothers] when no one else would. I don't think they have ever met anyone like that.
  • Power-Strain Blackout:
    • During the ball in Quillotia, the plan is to deliberately overload Knull's Anti-Magic ability by using Soul Key, which the characters think is the source of Credenza's power at the time. Except it's actually an Amplifier Artifact and Credenza, incensed by her anger at Snow, overloads her own magic spectacularily, breaking walls, throwing pirates very far and temporarily giving Raven a complete, physical Winged Humanoid body. After she's stopped, Credenza faints. She then has to spend a couple of days in the infirmary.
    • Clair, after discovering her powers and using them to teleport several people several times and lead a small army of clay golems against the foe, finally falls asleep in Blitz's arms and he's left carrying her around for a while.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • Credenza in book 1, to captain Syn, who's just revealed his plot
      Credenza: Now, I'm a waitress... but I can still kick your fuzzy butt!
    • Kor, when staunchly refusing to be intimidated by Snow:
      Kor: Toy or not, there's more where that came from, Captain! Let the girl go, I'm the one you want!
    • Cassie, when a dangerous sociopath threatens to hurt her if she doesn't lead him to Clair.
      Cassie: I say... you shouldn't have grabbed my tail.
    • Uru, when his distraction attempt meets with a fire stick:
      Uru: Aw, come on! I was having a big awesome moment and you come along with your stupid fire stick and ruin it! You people have no sense of imagination, do you even have a license for that thing?! Uugh, fine! Obviously I can't fool you guys, you want a real monster. (transforms) Well, you've got one.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Deliza during Snow's attack on Quillotia; she goes into labor as soon as the battle is over.
  • Prophecy Twist: Raven's gift from Dragonfly is a vague but unpleasant piece of advice: "you will have to choose between the one you love and the one who made you. You will choose the latter." Since he's been originally created by the Great Raven, and he's just started to suspect he loves Credenza, so he thinks he's going to have to betray her. He hates the thought more and more as he's growing into a good person. In the end, it turns out this is how he is to break out of Maze of Dreams, where he has the choice between remaining with the illusionary Credenza and having love, or staying faithful to the real Credenza's (who made him the person he is) ideals and waking up to save the world, even if he has to do this without her (they've been separated and he thinks she's dead at this point). He must choose the hard truth over pleasant illusion to wake up. As explained by a professional Fortune Teller who's had been burned in the past:
    Anansi: Prophecies are tricky things. Not that they'll ever lie to you, of course, but they're very easy to misinterpret. After all, a prophecy isn't supposed to make sense until the moment you put it to use.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Snow makes himself look as one during his Battle in the Center of the Mind against Credenza, with the toy themed dream. She sees through it.
  • Punny Name: You know you've had it rough when your name's Tuff Luck.
  • Put on a Bus: Prince Paollo's guards, after he's kidnapped by Snow, set off to rescue him and are never heard from again until book 7, when the protagonists go to Paper Island to find Kor and they unexpectedly meet Paollo's guards, brainwashed (or locked up, in Tatami's case) by Vaniji, and unbrainwash them. The guards join the quest, mostly because it involves rescuing Paollo.
  • Put Their Heads Together:
    • First thing Tuff does to stop Han's Spot the Imposter in its tracks is knocking both "Rileys" heads together.
    • Later, Uru does it to some ravens.
    • Alice's soul and her wiggly, tentacly vines vs. Steller and his harpies. She wins by quadruple knock-out.
  • The Quest: Credenza and her boys are entrusted by Dragonfly with the task of finding the six heirs before the villains do, to prevent the Great Raven from being released.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Riley's attempt at Inspirational Insult towards the Listing of Names, since it doesn't work:
      Riley: You! Yeah, I'm talking to you. You petty excuse for a church pamphlet! Now's the time when you're finally needed, the purpose you were made for, and you're wimping out on us? Any one of the wonderful girls here would be happy to be your reader! After trying to take care of your sorry carcass, no wonder Lucy broke down!
    • Credenza thinks Vaniji's excuse is a load of bull:
      Vaniji: I'm just doing what I must to stay alive, Anansi. Compared to men like Snow, I'm practically a saint!
      Credenza: Actually, you just might be the worst of the lot.
      Vaniji: Excuse me?
      Credenza: Snow and his crew are governed by the Raven. The Raven has no hold on you, you could do the right thing. But you chose to ally yourself with pirates and murderers! To turn good men and women into your slaves. Snow came for Kor's soul, but already has yours in the palm of his hand. He owns you, Vaniji.
    • Raven's given one by a raven spirit in the first dream he has in his life, so he's essentially giving himself a "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
      raven spirit: Sad traitor Raven... sitting all alone, like the pathetic wretch he is. Pouring wine he can't drink... pining after women he can never have.
    • Spindle has five years of pent-up anger at Anthony and releases them all at Blitz (who looks exactly alike, minus the eye).
    Spindle: If you thought you'd earn my trust looking like that, guess again! Before his wife died, Anthony was a good master, and a good person! But then his heart got broken and he let himself fall apart! He let EVERYTHING fall apart! Did it matter that the rest of us were in mourning too? Did it matter that we were struggling every day to make ends meet while he SLEPT for two years?! No! He decided he didn't want to live anymore, and he was happy to let the rest of us fall with him! Maybe you are some kind of ghost, sent to help Clair in her time of need. If that's the case, then it's the first kind thing you'll have ever done for her.
  • Red/Green Contrast: Big Good is strongly associated with color green, The Big Bad with red. Their champions (Credenza and Snow) use green and red magic, respectively. Soul Key, a good artifact, is green, while the raven spirits have red eye pupils and red patterns on their magical wings.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Luck brothers, Riley being enthusiastic about fights and girls, friendly and a fairly uncomplicated bloke with his heart on his sleeve, while Tuff is a thoughtful, somewhat brooding The Smart Guy of the group, Emotionally Tongue-Tied around girls he likes and terribly Afraid of Their Own Strength.
  • Red Right Hand: Take note of anyone who is covering their left eye, especially if they didn't used to. Then again, most raven spirits can hide the Red Left Eye, at least when they're not terrified for their lives.
  • Red String of Fate: Riley's gift from Dragonfly - the scent of his mate, leads him straight to Alice Pintur, who also turns out to be an heir.
  • Refused by the Call: Villainous example: a raven by the name of Steller is unsure why The Great Raven passed him over in favor of choosing Captain Snow as his herald. Snow, on the other hand, sees right through him.
    Snow: ...a beggar boy with a loud mouth and no friends who was promised the world in exchange for his soul.
  • Retired Monster: The true Great Raven. Being stuck in an orb cut off from everything turned him from an omnicidal maniac into a tiny, dying bird who had only his regrets to think about. Shortly after this is revealed, Snow devours him.
  • Right Now Montage: Every now and then, when a day is spent on the sub and nothing plotty happens, there is an assortment of panels with sub's crew each doing their own thing: having tea, reading, talking, napping and so on. One nice (if somewhat spoilery) example would be book 8, page 10, en route to Penumbra Island.
  • The Rival: Nim Ru and Willum Drake. He's a Consummate Professional monster hunter who despises her enthusiastic, Blood Knight at times approach to the job. She thinks he's against her taking a shot at it for chauvinistic reasons. They do resolve their differences and learn to appreciate each other's help.
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are a number of foreshadowing events/telling dialogue that make significantly more sense or give much more impact on the second read. Notable examples include:
    • Blitz's first words to Credenza sound crazy and disoriented, which is perfectly understandable in the circumstances, but later it becomes clear that the person speaking was in fact, not Blitz, but Raven who, after his possession attempt went horribly wrong, is in even more shock than Blitz, and trying frantically to escape his broken host who inadvertently trapped Raven in his head.
    "Where, I, I can't, it hurts! Make it stop, get me out! Something's gone wrong! …It's not supposed to be like this… I think I'm scared… I can't… I can't feel my wings…"
    • Almost every moment with Charlie before he is revealed to be Uru. A notable insight: whenever he sees her, he does his best to call Credenza by name, ever since the first time they meet. Other attempted words include: on page 37, 'shark' (notable because were-whales have an almost instinctive hatred of were-sharks) and, on page 81, 'Snow'.
    • Blitz's reactions to Kroft, the quillotian dragon, make significantly more sense once it is revealed that Blitz himself is a dragon.
  • Running Gag:
  • Saved by the Platform Below: Happens to Credenza twice: in the underworld (when the railing she's leaning against breaks, but she's caught on random thick electrical wires, and later on Paper Island (when she's purposefully thrown over a railing into some trees). Both times Raven attempts to catch her before she falls but can't.
  • Scars are Forever:
    • Blitz's entire torso is covered in scars that date back to the very first page, when he washed up on the beach all cut up.
    • Both Credenza and Knull suffer real-life injuries after their time in the dream world, which are stated to be permanent.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Of all people, Holly gets them for one panel where she's Character Shilling Snow (being completely under his thumb).
  • Scenery Censor: When Credenza's magic overload gives Raven a full physical body for a moment, before he turns back to his spirit form, he's of course stark naked (and calls for pants as soon as he realises that). The smoke from the explosion obscures everything indecent, though.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Great Raven has been sealed using the souls of six willing people from all around the Archipelago and can only be unsealed using the souls of their descendants.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Captain Snow. Per Word of God, he murdered them to see if he'd feel anything doing so (he didn't). Also by Word of God, Han, who murdered his entire village.
  • Seriously Scruffy: Tuff while deciphering the journal just won't sleep, eat or shower before he gets it done.
  • Servant Race: The seranith are a matriarchal servant race, but they don't serve blindly and consider it important to have a good master.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Han's Establishing Character Moment back in book 2 is approaching Tatami in the guise of a wounded Paollo to tell him Tatami failed and stabbing him when distracted.
    • His final attempt at guilt-tripping someone doesn't do him any good, however, because Lucinda's long past being reasoned with. It turns into a Shapeshifter Swan Song where he changes into Knull, whom Lucinda wouldn't hurt, Tabitha, her old mentor, then the form he seduced her in, and finally, at Lucinda's behest, shows his true form.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Credenza, at the royal dinner in Quillotia.
  • Shipper on Deck: When Riley gives Alice the "Shut Up" Kiss, right in front of a bunch of masonmages, they applaud.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: Vaniji and Kor are introduced presenting and performing in a play called "Cord of Gold," full of flashy magic special effects. It has a McGuffin, lots of Flynning and Kor seems to be playing a Manipulative Bastard. He quotes it during his dramatic swordfight with Snow in the theatre's storage rooms.
    Kor (as Glorifax): Congrats, my boy, congrats! You dealt well with my puppets. However, I suggest you don't try to use force against me. What I lack in physical height, I make up with powers beyond imagination. Luckily, I'm not here to destroy you, but to HELP you! After all, you have what I want, and I have what you need.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: During the battle over the Listing of Names:
    Snow: I have Dragonfly's machine. I have the book's reader. Obviously, he has chosen ME as the book's owner. You are not a hero, Credenza, you're only an annoyance. I should kill you, before you really start causing problems.
    Credenza: Y'know, you're probably right. Maybe Dragonfly meant this power for you. I'm hardly hero material. I'm just a waitress. But that's no reason to stand aside and let you hurt the people whose names are in that book.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss:
    • After the big, impressive, chaotic battle of book 5:
    Raven: You humans, you never have a moment of peace, do you? As soon as one drama resolves, another begins. IT NEVER ENDS!
    Credenza: Raven?
    Raven: All I want is a life where everything isn't blowing up in my face, but no, I'm stuck with YOUR circus!
    Credenza: Raaaaven...
    Raven: This whole world is one big mess! Tell me why you don't all just jump off a cliff like lemmings!
    she pecks him on the cheek, he turns into a blob and a little heart
    Credenza: Anyone else want to question life as we know it? Good! Now let's figure out how to get back home.
    Alice: You're perfectly willing to confess undying love when you think I'm dead and can't hear, but when I'm alive and in front of you, you're as shy as an oyster. You don't even-mmph!
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Alice and Riley are (metaphorically and then literally) all over each other almost from the moment they meet. When the group leaves the theater after Kor's performance, these two have to be unglued from each other first.
  • Slasher Smile: Of all people, Blitz as he's just rediscovered his draconic form (that's complicated) thanks to Dragonfly's gift and made short shrift of some scraptors.
  • Slave Brand: Captain Snow has one he occasionally uses on slaves or underlings. Credenza has the brand on her arm, Uru on his leg.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Great Raven, partially to avoid confusion with Raven, partially because it sounds cooler.
  • Spider-Sense: A common trait among beast-men. Riley refers to it as his "Sharky Sense".
  • Spikes of Villainy: The first of Snow's mooks we see boarding Paollo's sub sports those.
  • Spot the Impostor:
    • Between Riley and Han. At first, it seems that Tuff figures it out when Han isn't strong enough to carry Riley's BFS, but...
      Tuff: Actually, I only used the sword to distract him. I knew you were real because your pants were unbuttoned.
    • Raven is almost fooled in the Maze of Dreams. But when the fake Credenza kisses him, he remebers how the real one's magic feels intermingling with his and he immediately knows.
  • The Starscream: Han dabbles, though he mostly limits himself to assuming too much authority in Snow's absence and thinking he could get away with killing Kurr or roughing up Knull. Once or twice, though... At one point his raven tries to get him to kill Snow, though, given that ravens know full well Snow can't die, one wonders whether the Great Raven had it out for Han...
  • Start of Darkness: Snow as a kid took animals apart to see how they worked and because he thought they did nothing useful; a lot of sociopaths in the real world also start by killing animals, so it isn't too much of a stretch. Word of God states that he killed his family just to see if he would feel anything while doing so - he didn't.
  • Stress Vomit: Were-shark stomachs being really tough, they're still subject to vomiting from emotional stress.
    • Tuff, when Mikel finds him after giving in to his shark instincts and killing a number of ravens in Quillotia:
      Mikel: Don't say that Tuff, you've just had a huge shock! That's just the stress talking. So let it out, just let it out...
      Tuff throws up
      Mikel: AAAALLL over my shoes.
    • Riley throws up after getting freed from the Maze of Dreams.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Snow sounds almost like the Emperor when Knull finally decides he's had enough. Thankfully, the young man is too wise to take the bait.
    Snow: Revenge suits you, nephew. Hate me all you want, if it brings out this energy.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Credenza looks a lot like her parents (we see them in a flashback). She also resembles the younger Dragonfly, and has the same magic. Even her soul has dragonfly wings. And her conversation with Olivia plays out almost like mother and daughter who never had a chance to meet. She also learns to create magical effects similar to Olivia's.
    • Knull basically looks like Snow if he was half a life younger and scared out of his wits. In the "playroom" dream we see a portrait of his two sisters - one of them looks exactly like Knull, just with longer hair. Also, Yulalia is definitely her father's daughter.
    • Clair looks a lot like her mother Chesska and her father Blitz/Anthony.
  • Submarine Pirates: Submarines being the archipelagian mode of transport, these are the standard pirates in the setting. Captain Snow and his crew, both in his original pirating days and in the present, are genuine hostes generi humanae (more so in the present, because they're literally working to Kill All Humans), witty banter notwithstanding.
  • Surprise Inspection Ruse: Credenza gets on board of Paollo's sub (following Raven) by claiming to be inspecting it for moofs.
  • Suicide Attack: Captain Vander, while possessed by a raven, is allowed to think he's Fighting from the Inside. So he sneaks into Willium's house where they are at the moment to kill Tuff and Listing of Names with a steampunk bomb strapped to his chest, because he thinks this would slow the Great Raven down. Actually, as Credenza notes, this would have harmed the heroes more than the villains, and Vander gets soulsealed for his trouble.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: While he's still pretending to hold mere mortals in disdain:
    Raven: Credenza! Is she okay? Is she breathing? She felt kind of still when I held her-
    Tabitha: Calm down, birdboy, Credenza's alive. Except for a few cuts, she'll be fine. Thanks to you.
    Raven: (sigh) She's alive. Not that I was worried or anything. Was juss... concerned... (passes out)
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Half weresharks can hold their breath underwater for up to ten minutes. They're generally great swimmers. Transformed, weresharks and other fish people outright have gills.
  • Symbiotic Possession: Blitz and Raven, starting somewhere in book three, up until they get separated for good in Quillotia.
  • Symbol Swearing: Occasionally. Bad guys usually swear by symbols, while good guys get Gosh Dang It to Heck!
    • Anansi spouts some when her fortune-telling board isn't cooperating.
    • Lucinda calling Tuff names.
    • Vaniji when his Mind Rape of Blitz backfires spectacularly.
    • Han gets several proper symbol rants in book 8 (where things just keep going sideways for him).
    • Steller's first reaction to seeing the Exigo in all its dinosaur-like glory is a stunned symbol what-the-heck.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Credenza has dream conversations with Paollo (right when she meets him) abbess Tabitha and later Olivia, hinting at latent Dream Walker abilities.
  • Talking in Your Sleep:
    • Credenza murmurs in her sleep when dreaming about Uru.
    • While having his first nightmare ever, Raven talks in his sleep, alerting Credenza, who wakes him. He takes having had a dream as a definite proof he's becoming human.
    Raven: I'm not your raven anymore... I'm... human... S... stay away from me! Just stay... stay... away... hnn...
    • Tatami, his dreaming self in the Maze of Dreams, speaks to Credenza as she walks into the room, turning her attention and dragging her inside, because at this point only she can bring the Maze down.
  • Tap on the Head:
    • Raven does this to Credenza on Paollo's sub, then locks her in a closet. She's left a bit woozy and with a killer headache, but with no long-term effects.
    • When Knull finally turns against him and pushes back with his Anti-Magic, Snow just distracts him and brains him with a stone.
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks: Piskopa. The dish loved but lost by the Pintur family, it looks like an ommelette with fish... an entire fish... still moving. Alice's grandmother used to put a layer of breadcrumbs on top, possibly to make it look more appetizing, because in its natural state it's anything but, but apparently tastes heavenly.
    • Also, scrambled eggs for Raven's first meal ever:
      Raven: Wow. Dead fetal chicken, how can I resist. (tries a spoonful) This... is the food of the gods.
  • Team Pet: Credenza's group gains one when Charlie, Kor's pet jabberwocky, just won't be left behind and tags along. He turns out to be immensely useful later on.
  • Teleporter Accident: Teleportation is explicitly stated to be a difficult art.
    • When Jan tries to use teleporting spells in book 1, he keeps landing inside things.
    • Offscreen example by Snow, who explains to Steller he's late because he got his leg stuck in a tree teleporting. It was only his mechanical leg, though, so it wasn't much of an inconvenience.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Benjamin doesn't think the Disintegrator Ray that turns Snow into a pile dust is enough. So he vacuums up the dust and dumps it into his molten fuel core. It still isn't enough. Notably, none of the characters thinks it's enough, they're just trying to buy time.
  • Themed Tattoos: The Luck twins have the quillotian coat-of-arms tattooed on their arms. That's how Credenza recognizes Riley in the Maze of Dreams.
  • Throwing the Distraction: In book 10, Credenza distracts the insane raven spirits that are searching for her by throwing a sword.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Vaniji, being unable to break Tatami's will, buried him alive underneath the floor. He's found by our heroes just in time.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Avians average maybe a meter in height. Word of God says that a "running joke in the Archipelago is that the only reason the Avians haven't wiped out all competing humanoid races is that they like tall women."
  • Too Important to Remember You: Invoked. Snow pretends not to remember Alice's name, calling her "the girl" to enrage Riley.
  • Transformation Trinket: Dragons use these to switch between their human forms and their dragon forms. Kroft's is a pendant. Anthony's is his watch.
  • Translation Convention: Common Archipelagian is represented by English. Hand signs Knull uses in the epilogue are represented by ASL and subtitled. Dragons, pandorians, seranith and seagulls have their own, untranslated languages, though.
  • Trapped in the Host: Since shortly before page one up to the ball in Quillotia, Raven is trapped in Blitz's body, because Blitz has lost his left eye, the raven spirits' way in or out.
  • Trash Talk:
    • Steller calling Kor a dust eater while attacking him. Later in the fight he calls Kor "sparrow".
    • Raven weaponises this against the raven spirits possessing Benjamin as Reverse Psychology, needling them into proving they're not afraid of him (by doing exactly what he wants):
      Raven: You guys must have grown a second brain cell to rub against the first one.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: At first it seems like Blitz has it, but it's more complicated than that. When Raven came to possess Anthony, he slashed out his own eye, an act which cut off Raven's escape route and damaged the spirit, breaking Anthony's mind and turning him into Blitz. He's got almost no hope of getting his original memory back (which may be for the best).
  • Trust Password: Early after they meet on Coin Island, Tuff lands in trouble and asks Credenza to pass a message to Riley. He gives her his heartstone (a traditional quillotian necklace you don't just give to anybody) as a proof he trusts Credenza and Riley can, too.
  • Tear-Apart Tug-of-War: During the climactic battle of Hidden Island Credenza and Snow grab the covers of the Listing of Names and finally tear the book in half (helped by a convenient explosion). Now both heroes and villains have the information on half of the heirs, but since Snow's half covers Paollo (whom he already has), Uru (whose entry is unreadable) and Clair, and he has other records, he still goes after the same heirs Credenza's group does.
  • The Un-Reveal: Thanks to an Unreveal Angle, we never get a good look at Han's true form. We do get hints of scarred and squinty-eyed, though.
  • Unsound Effect:
    • When Riley can't find his wallet in a restaurant, there's a *disturbing lack of wallet*.
    • Snow, going with his cat motif, gets a *pounce!* once or twice.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused:
    • The first time the Luck brothers visited Hidden Island, Tuff got ill and was given a medicine that, unbeknowst to him, contained alcohol. Since he has a really, really weak head...
    • Later weaponized against him by Han, shapeshifted into a servant girl, who finds him moping away from the party in Quillotia and provides Tuff with a sympathetic ear and a fruity punch. When he's drunk, Han shoves him to the floor and commences Evil Gloating, followed by an attempt to drown the half wereshark (For Science!). If it wasn't for Dragonfly's gift and his transforming ability kicking in, he'd actually die.
      Tuff: I'm not jealous or anything, God knows a woman could be a stabilising influence to Riley. Make my life easier... but he's so darn optimistic. I dn't wn't him to get hurt. Unlike me, Riley's always been a rish... a risk taker... and y'know, every now and then things work out for him. (drops empty glass) Now with me it doesn't matter if I'm an optomish... an optomitrist... te haff full one, right?
  • Villain Episode: Book 4.5 (Snowflakes) follows Captain Snow on his day off, visiting his widow and daughter.
  • Villain Teleportation: Snow, since the arm grants him the all the heirs' powers, including Clair's. He first uses it in book 2 when his sub is sinking.
  • Visual Pun:
    • When Snow's chasing Han, just to enforce a little discipline, there's a panel of a cat-like critter pouncing a moof. Snow is also sporting a wonderful Cheshire Cat Grin.
    • How does Snow finally die? By melting.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: All dragons and full-blooded werebeasts have a human and animal form they can switch between. Half-bloods could, in theory, but it has a good chance of killing them. Han pulls off a simpler version with garments sewn from magical materials (unicorn hair and leather, per Word of God).
  • Wake Up Fighting: When Alice is reunited with her soul, first thing she does is sucker-punch the nearest person (Riley, whose Manly Tears are not caused by the pain but by the sheer relief).
  • Wedding Finale: The epilogue is the day of Alice and Riley's wedding, a year after the final battle, with all the shenanigans, slow dancing, good food, Fireworks of Love and evidence of healing you might want.
  • Weredragon: All the archipelagian dragons can shapeshift into a human form (sometimes a Little Bit Beastly), using a Transformation Trinket.
  • Wham Episode: Book 8. Starting with the reveal about the next heir identity that ends book 7 - she's Blitz's daughter. But things really heat up when Snow shows up and steals Alice's soul, causing Riley to freak out and attempt to transform, nearly dying in the process. And it gets even worse when Snow murders Holly. Oh, and by the way? Blitz is a DRAGON. The wham just keeps up until the very end of the book where it's revealed that the final heir is Charlie, or more specifically, Credenza's childhood friend Uru.
  • Wham Line / Wham Shot: Usually at the end of a chapter, just for the cliffhanger punch.
    • Book 5:
      Tuff: (to Riley) We're going to Quillotia. We're going home.
    • Book 6: Raven peeling away his "skin" to discover a human hand.
    • Book 7 ends with:
      Tuff: No! Blitz is only part of the family line! The heir is his daughter!
    • Earlier in Book 7 Blitz tears a mask off an actor and the actor turns out to be Zatachi.
    • Book 8 ends with none other than Uru looking back at Credenza.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Captain Snow. Knull also has his uncle's hair, but his heart isn't in the right (wrong?) place. After leaving the villains ranks for good, he dyes it black.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Snow had already died when the Great Raven conscripted him into service, and part of their deal is now that he can't die again. He finds this takes a great deal of excitement out of his second life. Dragonfly only stayed alive to help out the heroes and dies once this is done.
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: When they need to get Raven surprised in book 4 to enlarge his wings and he claims he's built to be unsurprisable, Credenza grins. He responds with this line. She kisses him and the wings get huge.
  • Winged Humanoid: A lot, actually. There're Avians, Raven, and those possessed by the Ravens have magic wings. Willium also has a spell to this effect. Even Simon can make shadomandyrs act as his magical wings when he's their master.
  • Wolverine Claws:
    • Lucinda uses them sometimes.
    • Paollo's guards use magic-charged clawed gauntlets.
    • Blitz gets these, too, after merging with the Arm and becoming a steampunk dragon. He only uses them for shredding vines, though.
  • Written Sound Effect: Quite often.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: When Riley finds out Alice is an heir, he rushes to warn her about Snow. Emphasis on "rushes". She's understandably sceptical.
    Riley: That was before I realized pirates were going to try and steal your soul!
  • You Monster!:
    • Credenza screams this at Snow during the party in Quillotia after he hurts the temporarily physicalised Raven. This anger triggers her magic overload.
    • Uru yells this at Snow in defiance during a flashback.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: If a Dream Walker sustains an injury in the dream world, it'll manifest in the waking world if left untreated, and the nearest specialists in treating those are in Majestan. In their dream battle, Credenza gets cuts on her legs from Riley's dream thorns, in Tuff's dream Snow-as-lion bites her shoulder (which, perhaps ironically, messes up the Slave Brand Snow put on her) and goes blind in her right eye protecting Raven from Snow, while Knull is rendered mute by a neck wound. Word of God is that's how Anansi lost her arms.
    • Also per Word of God, the shape someone's magic takes is defined by the subconscious associations and beliefs of the user, which is why it's near impossible to consciously change one's magic.

Taking you to the Archipelago...