Aurora is an ongoing webcomic started in April 2019 written and illustrated by Red of Overly Sarcastic Productions. It is a High Fantasy webcomic that begins when an entity known as the Collector steals the soul of the god Vash and departs with it. However, Vash’s body is not ready to die and somehow retains an entirely new consciousness who sets out with a mage named Alinua to get back Vash’s soul.
As of July 2023, the webcomic has begun the 22nd and final chapter of its first arc. It is updated on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
The webcomic can be found here; a mirror also exists on Tumblr, here, as a backup in case of site difficulties. The official Twitter account (run by Red) can be found here. If you want to talk about the comic, you can go to the discord or the subreddit. Additionally, a fandub (here) was planned, but canceled after a few chapters were recorded. Other forms of media with a similar name can be found here.
Aurora contains examples of
- Alien Sky: The nighttime sky contains two moons: a blueish-white moon called Shield and a slightly smaller red moon called Sword. The stars also regularly move and change positions.
- Alt Text: Every page has one, usually Red making snarky comments about her own work. A few notable ones...
- The very first page shows a colorful aurora across the night sky, lampshaded in the Alt Text:ohhhh, THAT'S why it's called "aurora"
- 1.1.24:vash: JUST FOLLOW THE SOUND OF MY TORTURED SOUL ABOUT FIVE HUNDRED MILES UNDERGROUND. YOU CAN DO IT! I BELIEVE IN YOUUUUUuuuuu
- 1.2.7:yeah stab wounds are the WORST
- 1.2.13:magical hazmat suits are my favorite fantasyland thing
- 1.2.17:awhaaat? inviting the mysterious stranger to join you on your quest? unprecedented! unheard of! the fantasy genre has never seen anything like it!
- The very first page shows a colorful aurora across the night sky, lampshaded in the Alt Text:
- Always a Bigger Fish: Tynan is an impressively powerful storm god, obliterating Zuurith's manifestation in a single blow and requiring the entire expanded party to keep him at bay. Even when Erin proves to be able to make headway against him and strike at his power source of the city's fear, he just turns into a dragon and forces him into a suicide attack that knocks him out. Unfortunately for him, knocking Erin unconscious lets The Void Dragon take control of his body and he is NOT happy that Tynan has assumed his form.Void Dragon: You have made a mistake, little god. You will not make another.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Humans are for the most part limited to real-life shades, but elementally-adapted populations can possess skin in multiple striking shades. Elves likewise tend to have colorful skin as a baseline trait, most often in sky-like colors such as blues, purples, and pale greys. As a consequence, even background characters have a wide variety of skin tones ranging through the whole color spectrum.
- Anatomy of the Soul: Rather than comprising the traditional parts, souls are made of soul energy, which "weaves" together into a more structured form. Generally, the greater the mind, the more complex the soul is, with plant souls having hardly any structure while gods' souls are virtually impossible to unravel.
- And I Must Scream: The people of Vash have to be released by him in order to cross into the afterlife. However, since the Collector has kidnapped him in order to dissect him, they are now trapped in the mountain that crushed the city.
- And Then What?: The argument that talks Falst out of his attempted prison break. Freeing these people when the only place for them to go is in to a city that hates them won’t actually help, nor would it fix the problems that created the prison in the first place.
- Animesque: The art style is somewhat reminiscent of anime and manga styles.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Most gods are these to specific areas or phenomena, such as a valley or city. There were also these for the six elements the world is based on, but they "died to create [the] world."
- Spelleaters are serpentine creatures that feed on ambient magic, hampering nearby mages' ability to cast spells. They're normally small and can't absorb much magic on their own, but ones grown to unnatural sizes with life magic can create sizable areas where magic simply doesn't work.
- Soul energy actively resists magical manipulation, which is why mages can't manipulate other people's bodies in this setting (ex: a stone mage can't shatter someone's bones). Notably, soulcrystal accumulates soul energy at a very fast rate, making it perfect for constructing protections like magic hazmat suits and mage prisons.
- Art Evolution: While already quite pretty at its beginning, Aurora's art dramatically jumps up in quality around chapter 5 as the lineart and shading become smoother and more coherent. Other aspects like glow effects and backgrounds also grow more complex and detailed as the comic goes on.
- Art Shift: The comic takes on a sketchier, simpler style when showing mythological events, like Tynan's original defeat or the formation of the Paladins.
- A different style with scratchy lines and coloring is used in Falst's backstory.
- Ash Face: On Tahraim's coaching, Dainix releases his pent-up anger in a huge scream and blast of fire. Tahraim, as a smith god, is left with only some ash and cinders on his face.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: While standing on the prison mountainside, Tess tries to warn Alinua and Falst about Tynan, pointing towards the clouds in the distance as she does so. Right at that moment, a prison guard appears from the same direction she's pointing towards and catches them.Tess: But look, if you know where Erin is, you have to tell me.
Falst: Oh yeah? Why?
Tess, pointing towards the clouds: Because of that!
Guard, actually Caliban: HEY! You can't be up here! WE HAVE INTRUDERS!
Tess: Oh, well, not THAT. It's another- You know what, never mind.
- As You Know: During the fight against Doctor Jolon, he prefaces his exposition about Ferin with this.Doctor Jolon: Let me tell you a story I'm sure you're familiar with.
- Aura Vision: When the Void Dragon looks at Alinua, instead of her physical body, he sees Primordial Life.
- Bag of Holding: The Ancients discovered a way to fold space, which they used to construct buildings and bags that were Bigger on the Inside. Though the method has been lost by the story's time, a few bags of holding still exist, like Erin's satchel and the Vault entrusted to the Junior Archivist.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: ZigZagged. Shirtless male characters are drawn without nipples, but Alinua's chest is deliberately hidden.
- Barred from the Afterlife: The souls of the citizens of Vash-the-city can't be released until Vash-the-god formally releases them. As Vash is unavailable, that means they're all currently trapped in limbo screaming for help.
- Beneath the Earth: The inside of the planet is riddled with caverns and tunnels, the remains of the Stone Primordial's circulatory system. They're also full of creatures that were once regular people or animals that were corrupted by a mysterious force that is implied to be the Void Dragon's power.
- Biomanipulation: Life mages can encourage the growth of living things, which can be used for healing. It is also possible to use life magic to create chimeras, but doing so is forbidden.
- Blackout Basement: A non-video game example appears in chapter 20. Falst and Dainix fall into an underground Ancient structure and must find their way out. They only have a small lacrima for light, as Dainix doesn't dare use fire for fear of hitting a gas pocket.
- Blessed with Suck: The Chimeric Plague. Children with the plague are extraordinarily talented life mages, able to heal and encourage plant growth since birth. However, they always end up losing control of their power and explode into a wave of raw life energy, which both kills them and mutates anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast into insanity.
- Bluff the Imposter: Invoked. In Windscrest, Kendal asks the magistrate to ask him something only Vash could know to prove their connection.
- Breath Weapon
- Dragons are the most common users of this, with different varieties having different effects. For a few examples, a burrower wyrm's breath disintegrates stone, a crystal drake's breath causes rapid crystal growth, and a whispdragon's breath is a sonic attack.
- Magic can also be used this way by mages, with fire-breathers not being unheard of.
- Breather Episode: Zigzagged with chapter 11. Most of the gang gets to relax while Kendal takes a nap, with Erin gently helping Alinua through some emotional turmoil and Falst having a quirky run-in with Tess. On the other hand, Kendal is experiencing a Wham Episode, as Vash brings in him to eavesdrop on the Collector, who turns out to have accidentally brought Primordial Life Back from the Dead and is searching for a way to destroy all souls to free her.
- Bridal Carry: In the dungeon arc, Falst and Dainix do this to each other a few times:
- When the gas pocket explodes, Falst carries Dainix out of the way.
- When Falst is injured after the cave crawler fight, Dainix carries him out of the room.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Weeks are referred to as sefs, and the 28-day months are called sindahlans.
- Chekhov's Gag: Before going to the Paladin archives, Erin explicitly tells Falst not to rip the fancy cape he's giving him; Falst only snarks in response. Come the next chapter (after Falst and Alinua have jumped off a mountain), we see Erin's look of sheer disappointment at his ripped cape.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Most of the protagonists have a variation of this, with Kendal as one end of the spectrum and Erin at the other.
- Color-Coded Elements: The six forms of elemental magic all have specific colors that appear in glow effects associated with active magic, lacrimas, and glowing eyes during magic use. These are green for life, yellow for lightning, orange for fire, purple for wind, blue for water and pale jade green for stone.
- Cooldown Hug: When Alinua wrestles with her out-of-control life magic in chapter 2, Kendal hugs her and manages to put an end to the episode. She calls him out for his recklessness.
- Cool Sword: Vash's sword Kendal (from which the character Kendal got his name) was forged by the smith god Tahraim after Vash defeated the storm god Tynan. It was forged from an ingot and a jewel that Vash had used to replace his right hand and eye, respectively, in the battle against Tynan. The jewel at the hilt glows the same color as Vash's eyes.
- Creator Cameo: Red has admitted that she's done this "at least once". For instance, she's the woman with the red cape looking at a sword in 1.14.2.
- Cult: The Paladins are a group that follows the religion of the Ancients, believing that the world and the Twins were created by a pair of dragon gods. Specifically, they worship the Light Dragon, who's supposedly in conflict with the Dark Dragon. The general consensus is that they're rather strange to follow these mystical dragon figures as opposed to other gods who are definitely real. Erin is particularly offended by the fact that they may have believed in the Light Dragon for long enough to have actually created their dragon god, at least until he discovers firsthand that the Dark Dragon is real.
- Cypher Language
- The most widely-used writing within the world is a runic alphabet that roughly matches up to English, though a few letters like C and Q are absent because other letters stand for their sounds. This page contains a key and some text fans have translated.
- There is also a separate cipher for the Ancient alphabet.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Kendal eventually figures out that he can let himself be possessed by Vash, who is much better at using the powerful starfire in his sword and bones. Unfortunately, summoning Vash requires Kendal to stab himself with the sword, and the possession is temporary at best. Once the situation with Tynan is resolved, Vash wants Kendal to never do it again.
- Deadpan Snarker: Falst embodies this trope to a tee, dishing out sarcastic remarks to nearly everyone he interacts with. Especially Erin.Erin: Do NOT rip this.
Falst: Me? Break your stuff? Never.
- Death World: The caverns beneath the surface are full of winding paths and tunnels, some of which are flooded, full of magma or molten metal, or saturated with poisonous air. The habitable parts are full of monsters and even if you manage to avoid them then the energy surrounding the place will eventually corrupt you and turn you into one of them.
- Desolation Shot: Used at the end of the Zuurith arc to show Tynan's destruction.
- Demonic Possession: Erin has the misfortune of getting possessed by a golden-eyed being upon entering the Storm of Magic. Still, he manages to warn Kendal to run, showing he's Fighting from the Inside.Erin: GET AWAY! RUN!!
- Description Cut: After the magistrate of Windscrest is convinced of our heroes' legitimacy in chapter 4, he alludes to the possible dangers of life magic...Luran: I am responsible for hundreds of lives. If I had a reason to suspect you posed a danger to them... And, well. We all know what unscrupulous life mages are capable of.
[Cut to Kria, whose injuries Alinua had discreetly healed earlier]
Kria: ...Huh. I feel super healthy for some reason.
- Disproportionate Retribution: This is very common in Zuurith-the-city, as Zuurith-the-god is a Control Freak who thinks of himself as the embodiment of law and order. You can be arrested and sent to the city's massive prison for little crimes, from trespassing to happening to exist near the city when Godless.
- Doomed Hometown: The unfortunate fate of the city of Vash, which gets massacred early on.
- Downer Beginning: Chapter 1 introduces us to an entire city on the brink of starvation from repeated chimera attacks, and then The Collector wipes said city off the map and steals the soul of its god. The god's newly-independent body is only able to make a feeble attempt at rescuing him before passing out. Thankfully, the story gets much less bleak from there.
- Dragon Variety Pack: Dragons reproduce via parthenogenesis, adapting to the environment they will hatch into by absorbing all available elemental energy. Fire dragons are the "typical" dragons with four legs and two wings, burrower wyrms are entirely ground-based, wyverns have four legs and four wings, crystal drakes have crystalline bodies, whispdragons are tiny and have butterfly wings, stormdrakes are pointy all over, and sea serpents reside exclusively in water. The one trait these varieties share is that they all have a Breath Weapon of some kind.
- Dream Spying: Happens in chapter 11, when Kendal sleeps for the first time and Vash, using their Psychic Link, takes advantage of the opportunity to reveal the Collector's motivations.
- Eldritch Abomination: The monster at the end of the dungeon arc is possibly the most bizarre, terrifying creature introduced in the comic so far. It's a slimy, oily mass with many reaching arms, and it has the ability to scream. It also has eyes and bones, too. When it touches Dainix's face, it does something that makes him have bad flashbacks and leaves him badly shaken.
- Elemental Powers: The world is made from six elements — wind, water, fire, stone, lightning, and life — and mages can learn to channel any and all of them, although mastering more than a few is a difficult and rare feat.
- Element No. 5: Besides the main elements of wind, water, fire, stone, lightning, and life, each corresponding to a dead Primordial, mages have long suspected the existence of a "seventh element", which is confirmed to be Void when the still-living Void Dragon, which the others died to imprison, manages to possess Erin in a plan to regain freedom. Interestingly, the existence of his counterpart the Light Dragon, which gave mortals free will to foil the Void Dragon's plot to free himself from his prison using them, implies that an eighth element also exists that even the greatest mages are completely unaware of.
- Emerging from the Shadows: Upon introduction, Alinua is shrouded in shadow, her eyes visibly glowing green. However, we see her full face after she introduces herself to Kendal.
- Everyone Is Bi: Word of Red is that the constant for the world is bisexuality.
- Evil Is Hammy: Most baddies are pretty subdued, but Tynan the Storm God (The Shadow of Thunder, The Storm That Would Be King, etc.) is not one of them, especially once he turns into A DRAGON during his fight with the party. Justified in that he draws his power from people's fear of him. His theatrics are fun, but they're also a tool for him to maximize people's terror.
- Evil Is Petty:
- Played for Laughs when The Rant for 1.13.34 claims that the Void Dragon's true plan is to misshelve everything in the Paladins' archive and leave ring stains on their tables.
- The Void Dragon brutally attacks Tynan for taking on the form of a dragon. As the original dragon that the Twins based all other dragons on, he seems to view the voluntary assumption of his form as some sort of plagiarism.
- Evil Is Sterile: Not necessarily evil, but chimeras can't reproduce as a result of their unnatural nature. According to some, this is because they don't have the "Blessing of the Twins" since they weren't created by them.
- Extra Eyes: Several examples:
- The collector's chimeras have one eye on each fold of their head, for a total of 3.
- A few of the gods shown when Ilia mentions them to Kendal have 3 or 4.
- The blob monster is full of eyes, and uses as many as 7 at once.
- Primordial Life has ten on her face. When the Void dragon sees Alinua as her, they're also visible in her hair.
- Failed a Spot Check: The stone sentinel is absolutely ginormous and uproots several trees as it gets itself off the ground, yet somehow Kendal and Alinua don't detect it until it's right behind them.
- Fairy Dragons: The official Tumblr briefly describes the cat-sized Whispdragons, with beautiful colorations and butterfly wings.
- Fantastic Racism: Ferin, people cursed into lycanthropic or Beast Man forms, are deeply feared and distrusted in human and elf societies. They're seen as inherent threats to others' safety and to civilization, and often considered to be essentially animals. When they're tolerated, this is often on the basis of their perceived threat level. "Prey ferin", with the nature of more docile animals, can make a life in urban areas, but "predator ferin" are usually forced out into the wilderness. Acceptance has been growing over time, and in more metropolitan areas ferin can live with a minimum of distrust, but it's slow going.
- Fertile Feet: When Alinua first appears, plants grow wherever she steps. Also used in chapter 20 after she's been channeling stupid amounts of energy to heal Kendal.
- First-Episode Twist: It's impossible to talk about Erin in detail without mentioning that he's possessed by the Void Dragon.
- Floating Continent: The Archipelago Nimbus, an airborne island chain that was magically lifted from the surface several centuries ago and is now home to the cloud elves.
- In chapter 6, Kendal notably survives the Void Dragon's attacks with no lasting effects, while anything else was almost completely obliterated. Twelve chapters later, we find out that Kendal is one of the few, if not only, living beings with no Void in his elemental makeup.
- Chapter 13 has Kendal meeting Dainix, who talks about how emotions can be directed and used as weapons, as well as how fighting your emotions weakens yourself. Come chapter 15, we learn that, as a Crucible, Dainix's fire powers are fueled by his emotions, and his attempts not to hurt anyone with them end up hurting himself.
- Garden of Evil: The life section of the Storm of Magic is an overgrown swamp full of extremely dangerous, constantly mutating plants and animals.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Tahraim yells at Zuurith to literally pull himself together after the latter was on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from Tynan.Tahraim: Pull yourself together already! Sheesh. Embarrassing.
Caliban: Just leave him. We got what we needed.
Tahraim: I know. It just seems like such a waste. He's acting like it's the end of the world.
- Giant Corpse World: The planet is made of the merged bodies of the six elemental primordials, with Stone's hearts being the core.
- Gilligan Cut: In Chapter 5, the golden-eyed entity retreats back into Erin, causing him to pass out. Kendal gives Alinua Puppy-Dog Eyes and she begins to insist that they are not staying with him. Cut to Kendal sitting by a fire late at night with Erin sleeping nearby.
- Glowing Eyes: So, so many. Kendal when he's talking to Vash or using Starfire, Alinua when she's channeling Life, any mage when they're casting, Dainix when he's transforming, Falst and Trusk in the dark, the Chimeras, all gods... it'd be faster to list the characters whose eyes don't glow.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: See above.
- Godiva Hair: Used for the purpose of Alinua's modesty during her dream sequence, starting on page 1.20.15.
- Green Thumb: One application of Life magic is speeding plant growth.
- Hair-Trigger Explosive: The fusion of fire, wind, and lightning is a luminous gas that explodes at the slightest disturbance.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Downplayed. Each of the three Elder Races can reproduce with the other two, but with the Ancients long gone, this essentially means that humans and elves are the only species that can reproduce with each other. Each of the Younger Races have their own mechanisms of reproduction and cannot interbreed.
- Played straight by Hybrid Ferin, who are a stable combination of human and animal traits.
- Heel Realization: At the end of chapter 20, Falst realizes what an jerk he's been when he sees the look on Dainix's face.
- Heroic RRoD: Happens to Kendal after the end of the Zuurith arc. It seems that stabbing himself to summon Vash was a bridge too far, and now he's comatose. Ties in with Heroic BSoD because He's also angsting over his failure to defeat Tynan himself or fully restore Vash.
- Horror Hunger: Part of cave corruption is the victim becoming ravenously hungry and developing cravings for a specific food. This can range from something fairly harmless like root vegetables to people's bone marrow.
- Hulking Out: A special version of this applies to Dainix, which also lights him on fire.
- Humans Are Average: Of the three Elder races, elves have a deeper connection to the elements, but they are frailer and have an imbalance in their elemental affinity, being closer to Lightning and Wind than the rest of the elements. Meanwhile, Ancients are the most durable of the three, to the point that while elves and humans had to hide in the caves when the elemental winds were still too strong, the Ancients could come out completely unharmed. However, this durability cost them the ability to connect to the elements at all, and thus, they couldn't use magic. Humans are a happy middle between the two, being more resilient and balanced than elves while retaining the ability to use magic, which results in them being the most adaptable of the three.
- Humans Are Special: The reason for this is the Void Dragon's plan. He needed beings that could support his presence in their body, unlike elves, while being able to manipulate the dead Primordials' essence, unlike the Ancients. Humans, being exactly that, were the Dragon's chosen people to liberate him from his prison, as seen in the prologue where he rejoices at the Twins creating the first human while elves and Ancients could be seen already created in the background.
- I Know Your True Name: Truename magic does see use alongside standard elemental magic.
- Each of the six elements contains a higher property, such as transmutation for fire and communication for wind. These higher properties became accessible to mages when the respective primordial's truename (which is separate from their great rune, which is a representation of their truename) was discovered. The Collector was the one who discovered Life's truename, making contact with the primordial's mind in the process and setting her on her soul-destroying mission.
- Truenames can also be invoked to manipulate smaller-scale souls. This is usually only useful for necromancy by reforming ambient soul energy into a simulacrum of a once-living mortal, but the Collector figured out she could trap souls in knives inscribed with their truename.
- Ice Magic Is Water: Water as an element has the ability to mimic properties of others. Ice is formed by it mimicking stone.
- Instant Runes: Mages use runic circles, which block out outside influences on the elements they're controlling and manifest as glowing letters written in elemental energy.
- Instant Sedation: A purple soporific powder sometimes appears that has this effect. Alinua uses it to sedate the Void Dragon in chapter 7, and Shrike's mercenary team instantly knocks out Falst with miniature bombs of the stuff.
- It's Quiet… Too Quiet: After Falst and Dainix enter a large, uncomfortably empty room in Chapter 22, Dainix notices that something is wrong because there's a large entrance to The Caves in the room they are in, yet there's no cave crawlers in the room. Why? Because there's a giant slime monster on the ceiling that has been killing everything that enters the room.
- Joined Your Party:
- Kendal and Alinua decide to start traveling together at the end of Chapter 3Kendal: But you're free to go wherever you want, you don't need to—
Alinua: Hey. Do you want to go alone?
Kendal: Not really.
Alinua: Me neither. Easy choice.
- Erin joins in Chapter 6.Alt Text: whaaaaat a new party member that's craaaaazy and so unpreeeedented
- Falst joins the party at the end of chapter 10.Kendal: Well, we're going to be traveling east for a while. Until you figure out where you want to settle down... Do you want to come with us?
- Having been looking for Erin since chapter 11, Tess finally joins the party in chapter 15.Erin: That should give them time to reconsider.
Tess: Ahh, I've missed that attitude.
Erin: We'll reminisce back at the embassy. Move!
- Dainix joins the squad in chapter 17 to help them fight Tynan.Kendal: Dainix!
Erin: You know him? Perfect!
- Kendal and Alinua decide to start traveling together at the end of Chapter 3
- Keep Away: The Life lacrima Falst wants to use gets wrenched around by the party.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The arenamaster makes Kendal and Dainix fight each other for the sake of the prison's reputation. Neither participant is very happy about this.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: While the properties of lightning magic are well-explained and documented, being struck by natural lightning somehow sparks any Unsparked metal-caste, giving them a sense of agency they had been missing. The process also turns them into a lightning mage when most elemental links are naturally in the soul.
- Limited Wardrobe
- All the main characters have been wearing the same clothes since they were introduced. Kendal has been shown wearing the same clothes for the longest amount of time out of all the party members, since he began existing in a white shirt and brown pants almost two in-universe weeks ago.
- Downplayed when Erin starts wearing a differently colored shirt in chapter 19, but his overall look remains unchanged.
- Locked Out of the Loop
- Played for Laughs in chapter 11 after Kendal wakes up from his dream and shares what he learned about the Collector.Erin: SHE discovered Life's truename?!
Alinua: She's WORKING for Life? Life WANTS this?!
Falst: Your boss is a god? Oh, was that one common knowledge? You guys don't tell me stuff.
- In chapter 12, Kendal attempts to keep a low profile in order to protect the rest of the party in the case that Zuurith decides his very presence is a problem. Only Alinua is informed of this, leaving Erin and Falst to believe that he's only doing it because Zuurith "isn't the place to practice being mortal" with Erin's delicate mission on their hands.Alinua: But why not tell Erin?
Kendal: He'd think Zuurith would listen to him. I'm trying to AVOID a diplomatic incident.
- Played for Laughs in chapter 11 after Kendal wakes up from his dream and shares what he learned about the Collector.
- Made of Indestructium: Adamant is the perfect fusion of the six primoridals' forms and cannot be destroyed, not even by the Void Dragon, only unmade. As adamant is the only thing keeping the Void Dragon trapped in the center of the planet, he needs Erin to unmake it and be free.
- Magic A Is Magic A: At its core, magic happens when mages direct pieces of the Primordials' dead souls/bodies according to their will. A mage's abilities are determined by the presence of links to a given element in their own soul. The seventh element, Void, is the only one that cannot be controlled as the Void Dragon is actually still alive.
- Magitek: The Ancients were unable to do magic, but they more than made up for it with their lacrima-powered automatons, which were built for transportation, entertainment, and all sorts of other purposes. They were durable enough that they are sometimes unearthed mostly intact. A few are even still functional, though these unfortunately tend to be the war machines they built, which then have to be destroyed.
- The Maker: Mortals were created by the Twins, two deities seemingly separate from the Primordials and the mortals' gods. In a twist, it seems that the actual creator deities in this cosmology are the Void Dragon, the Satanic Archetype of the setting, who was trying to free himself from imprisonment by commanding the Twins to create mortals, and his Good Counterpart, the Light Dragon, who gave them consciousness and free will.
- Martyr Without a Cause: Alinua and Kendal both have shades of this.Kendal: Why did you do that? You could have died.
Alinua: I'll die anyway. But I...don't get many opportunities to do anything good. That might make this all worth it.
- Meaningful Background Event: If you look on the walls of Jolon's clinic, you can see diagrams comparing human and ferin characteristics.
- Menacing Hand Shot: we get one of Falst’s dad right before he kills what’s left of his wife.
- Mercy Kill: In Chapter 8, Alinua puts a feral chimera out of its misery by magically draining the life from it.
- Mind Rape: Looking into the eyes of the blob monster makes Dainix and Falst relive their worst memories.Alt Text: it's time for everyone's favorite game, "find the tragic backstory!"
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: In life, Primordial Stone is shown to have had six arms, which they used to wield a massive sword and shield against the Void Dragon.
- Mundane Utility: Magic is used for all sorts of things, including everyday problems. For instance, here's the junior archivist using paladin magic to open a high-up window.
- No Social Skills: Applies to both Alinua and Kendal.Kendal: You've talked to people before, right?
Alinua: Yeah, like, ten years ago. I'm kind of out of practice.
Kendal: That's better than NO experience. You're literally the only person I've ever actually talked to.
Alinua: Yeah, but you have centuries of Vash's experience to draw on!
Kendal: It was easier for Vash! People respect gods! I'm just... some guy.
- The Nose Knows: Some kinds of ferin have a stronger sense of smell than humans and elves.
- Falst, a lion ferin, is able to smell that Kendal isn't human, and later smells the sedative powder that Shrike's mercenaries use on Tess from some distance away. However, it's later shown in the underground complex that his olfactory sense is not infallible, as he mistakes the smell of cave crawlers for Dainix's medicine and only realizes what's happening when they're right above them. This trope also gets deconstructed as Falst rants about the powerful and foul odors that regular people don't notice.
- Shrike calls in her friend Trusk, a cow ferin, to sniff out Tess, Alinua, and Falst among the crowds of the city of Zuurith.
- Odd-Shaped Panel: When Alinua uses her powers to attack the Sentinel, the panels at the bottom half of the page are divided by what looks like cracks, mirroring Alinua's plants making cracks in the Sentinel.
- Oh, Crap!: Written all over Tynan's face when he realizes that Kendal managed to summon Vash into his body in chapter 18.
- One-Eyed Shot: The camera is focused on Falst's eye as he wakes up from the powder bomb in Zuurith.
- One-Word Title: Gets a Visual Title Drop in the very first panel showing a colorful aurora across the night sky.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Normally, a person's soul unravels after their death and rejoins the ambient soul energy that permeates everything, meaning that traditional ghosts don't really happen. However, most people's souls are linked to a god, who has to sever the connection when they die. If for whatever reason that doesn't happen (like how Vash can't release all of his dead people on account of being kidnapped), then their souls are forced to stick around.
- Our Souls Are Different: The in-universe explanation for souls is that people are concentrated amounts of soul-energy, with gods having extremely high amounts of soul energy. How Kendal factors into all of this has yet to be explained.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Although vampires as a species don't truly exist within the setting, the lore page on the "seventh element" mentions "Upyre", a victim of cave corruption who gained a thirst for blood.
- Painting the Medium: Most people speak in regular white speech bubbles, but otherworldly beings like gods or the Collector, have speech bubbles in their color scheme. (Even though Vash speaks with a blue bubble, Kendal's speech bubble is an ordinary white.) Several exceptionally powerful entities, including the Void Dragon and Primordial Life, don't use bubbles at all, but rather large block letters.
- Pieces of God: All living things are composed of the mingled essence of all the Primordials. Mages are prevented from manipulating the primordial matter in an organism by the soul barrier. The Collector's endgoal is to unravel every soul in the world to free Life's essence from every individual living being, as she believes that Life is in constant torture when bound up in so many smaller forms.
- Power Crystal: Lacrimas, crystals inscribed with magic runes and used to store large amounts of elemental energy. They're typically used to produce a specific magic effect on demand, with their runes restricting the ways in which their stored energy can manifest — for example, a fire lacrima can be "programmed" to only release light without heat and serve as a light source or a life lacrima meant for medical use to only regrow lost tissue — but ones without these limitations are essentially limitless spell batteries and potentially very dangerous things.
- Power Floats: Alinua actually rises into the air when unleashing her full powers.
- Power Incontinence
- Alinua has extreme difficulty controlling her life powers. One boy born with powers like hers accidentally incited the last chimera plague that killed countless people, including himself. In Chapter 3, after undergoing a strange transformation, she has a much better control over her powers.
- Dainix's Crucible abilities start going wild in chapter 15 as a result of suppressing his emotions for so long. After some impromptu therapy from Tahraim, he has better control, but is still getting used to using them.
- Prisoner's Work: Zuurith's economy relies on this, tragically. The prisoners can choose between working in the mines or fighting in the arena.
- Punch Catch: After his attempt to talk to Falst goes wrong thanks to Alinua and Erin, Kendal grabs Falst's hand and snaps his wrist.
- The Rant: Red blogs in the space below, usually to make witty comments like those in the Alt Text.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mid-chapter 18, Vash calls out Zuurith for fixating on their rivalry and his pride over his people during the catastrophe that was Tynan.Vash: You can stretch your body to the breaking point, but you can never really leave your city. But I don’t have a city anymore. All I have is a body and a sword. Whatever I became when my city died - I’m free. [...] I tried my hardest to save my people, and I still lost them. Did you even TRY? If you don’t start protecting them - ALL of them - I WILL come back here and protect them from YOU.
- "Rediscovering Roots" Trip: After getting her spark, Tess traveled all the way back to Ironhill to reconnect with her family, but found that it wasn't her home.
- Robo Cam: We briefly get to see from the perspective of a still-functioning automaton sizing up Dainix and Falst.
- Runic Magic: Runes are complex patterns of dots and looping lines (except for stone and lightning runes, which consist of angular patterns and dashes) used to shape and direct the flow of elemental magic in objects. They're thought to have been the language of the Primordials. Runes allow magic to be reliably channeled in specific manners, without the risk of accident inherent in manually redoing a single ritual again and again, by providing strict limitations for what magic is called upon and how and to what degree when the runes are activated — for example, a set of fire runes may be used to create a Flaming Sword by specifying for flame to be created around the blade, burn continuously and spread no further. Each element also has a unique master rune that simply gathers ambient magic and stores it within its object until deactivated. Master runes are often inscribed on lacrimas, magic-storing crystals marked with other runic patterns to be used as directed spell batteries, or tattooed by mages upon themselves to provide them with a constant source of magic for their spells. Active runes glow in their associated element's color.
- Running Gag: Almost every one of Tess' appearances has featured her punching out a dragon, with the Alt Text for the accompanying pages joking about how she wins in a fight with a dragon every time. She's positively delighted when Tynan takes the form of a dragon and promptly starts whaling on him.
- Self-Guarding Phlebotinum: The stolen life lacrima is inscribed with unknown spells, making it too dangerous to touch for risk of mutations.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Inverted and Downplayed. While all the villains faced so far have either been armored or inhuman, Kendal and Dainix spend a lot of time shirtless, and Falst and Alinua have a few scenes. Played with by Erin, who only starts showing some skin once he's possessed.
- Shaming the Mob: Paranoid after the destruction of Vash, the citizens of Windscrest attack Kendal and Alinua. Fortunately, Kria shows up to de-escalate the situation and loudly admonishes the townsfolk for attacking when she had already given them a clear description of the Collector.
- Shadowed Face, Glowing Eyes: Alinua when she's wearing her hood. Less diagetically, Falst, Trusk, and the cave crawlers get this as well.
- Shout-Out: The bottom-left panel of page 1.19.2 references the Reboot season 3 opening "Firewall".
- Sickening "Crunch!": Falst's poor, poor wrist when Kendal performs the Punch Catch.
- Sickly Green Glow: Life magic emits an ominous green glow. It might seem weird, considering what it's mostly used for, but then you realize what else it can do.
- Single-Stroke Battle: Before Zuurith can even throw a punch, Tynan destroys his incarnation in one massive bolt of lightning.
- Speech-Bubbles Interruption: In the tree, Kendal talks about leaving soon, only to be interrupted by Alinua saying "You can't leave."
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Falst and Alinua have a bitter argument about what to do about how Zuurith treats Kendal before both look over the cityscape together. In the first panel of the next page, Tess appears behind them, much to their shock.
- A Storm Is Coming: While the party is in Zuurith and meet with several setbacks, Tess notices a storm on the horizon, which turns out to be Tynan.
- Suddenly Speaking: Falst encounters a cave crawler and rhetorically asks it a question. It responds.Falst: What kind of nightmare are you?
Cave crawler: sssssSSSSSTARVING
- Super Mode: Alinua enters this whenever she uses her powers beyond small tasks. Unfortunately, she has extreme difficulty controlling them when this powerful. After gaining better control over her powers, Alinua's Super Mode upgrades to Life herself using her body to interact with the world.
- Superhuman Trafficking: Metal-caste children are popular targets for slavers, in part because their metal skin gives them Super-Toughness, but moreso because they haven't yet obtained their Spark; without a sense of agency or personal drive, they are Incapable of Disobeying any orders. Exacerbating this is that trauma or terrible circumstances, like being a slave, can prevent them from ever awakening their Spark. Tess was one such slave, and she was only able to obtain her Spark and escape after being chosen by the sky.
- Talk to the Fist: Tynan tries to monologue about Kendal about how doomed he his, only for Kendal to slice him in half, taking Tynan by surprise for a brief moment.
- Tears of Joy: Alinua sheds these after her magical transformation which gave her better control over her power and allowed her to no longer view herself as a monster.
- Technically Living Zombie: Victims of Cave Corruption, caused by too much Void energy, develop cravings for living matter, mutate, and degenerate into monsters.
- Technician Versus Performer: Erin is an Insufferable Genius from an academic background, while Alinua is a naturally-gifted self-taught life mage who may be tied to some sort of supernatural entity. When they're discussing technique, things get a little heated.Alinua: I'm just saying, a runic circle for EVERY incantation seems very overcomplicated. Sometimes time is of the essence!
Erin: And I'm telling YOU that safety is by DEFINITION not "overcomplicated"! A haywire healing cantrip can do terrible things to a person! What if you were trying to mend a broken bone but you filled the fracture with stomach lining instead?
Alinua: How could you possibly screw up a broken bone THAT badly? Bone already wants to grow more bone! Just feel it out and help it along a little!
Erin: What do you MEAN "feel it out"?!
- Telepathy: Lady Niluca mentally communicates with the Junior Archivist from a distance.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Alinua brings the group bread and soup at the inn, but they leave to talk to Jolon before they can eat it. Though Alinua doesn't think she would've liked it anyways.
- They Would Cut You Up: Erin worries his academic colleagues would rather study the Void Dragon than imprison him, so he has the group visit some monks with expertise in the field to do it instead.
- Torches and Pitchforks: When Kendal and Alinua arrive in Windscrest, they are immediately greeted by an angry pitchfork-wielding crowd who assume they caused the destruction of Vash.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Red often posts sneak-peek future panels on the webcomic's Twitter. They're usually appropriately secretive, but sometimes veer into full-on spoil territory.
- Trauma Button:
- Erin inadvertently pushes this for Alinua when he casually mentions how uncommon cloud elves are outside of the Flying Islands. It turns out the reason she lives on the surface is because when she was born her birth parents threw her off the edge.
- Kendal gets this when facing another Chimera for the first time after the Collector used them to lure out Vash.
- Falst gets this to the extreme when fighting cave crawlers in the ancient bunker, as it brings back memories of his mother's corruption, causing him to fly off the handle and start mauling instead of focusing on survival.
- Trick-and-Follow Ploy: Well, as much as elemental Air can be tricked, but Erin sends a messenger bird to Tess only so he can follow it to her location, and does the same for Kendal later on.
- Tuck and Cover: During their first encounter with Erin possessed by the Void Dragon, Kendal protects Alinua from a blast of Void energy this way. Thankfully, no lasting damage is inflicted.
- Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: How Kendal feels when he isn't able to restore Vash or defeat Tynan.Kendal: If I were stronger, I could fight through the caves and save you from the collector. But this is all I am, and it isn't enough. And if I were weaker, you could've undone me and reclaimed your body once and for all. But here we are. You crafted me for a purpose I can't fulfill. All I ever gave you was false hope.
- Visual Title Drop: The very first panel shows a colorful aurora across the night sky, lampshaded in the Alt Text:ohhhh, THAT'S why it's called "aurora"
- Waking Up Elsewhere
- Chapter 2 opens with Kendal waking up in Alinua's cave after passing out from blood loss.
- Chapter 5 ends with Erin waking up by Kendal after having passed out from fighting the Void Dragon.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Exaggerated when all of the people of Vash get slaughtered within the first twenty pages.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Comes up near the end of the first arc when Dainix and Falst fall into the Ancient underground structure and have to fight the likes of Ancient automatons and cave crawlers. While Dainix is willing to destroy an automaton if necessary, he prefers to avoid it, and he is horrified when he realizes that cave crawlers used to be ordinary people to the point of hesitating to kill one while it's actively trying to eat him. On the other hand, Falst has no qualms about killing either one.Falst: WHAT are you DOING?!
Dainix: It - they - they're PEOPLE!
Falst: NOT ANYMORE!
- Who Writes This Crap?!: The Alt Text, in the voice of a snarky reader, likes to poke fun at tropey elements of the story.Alt Text: the big glowy bit? a weak point? what hack designed this thing
- Played with in the fight between the Void Dragon and a fully transformed Dainix. The Void Dragon is surprised that Dainix can completely turn into fire, and comments that they didn't design humans to do this, adding a mocking "Really, who would?" right after to show their contempt for the concept. Red, however, takes it personally.Alt Text: "who would?" listen asshole I'm right here
- Played with in the fight between the Void Dragon and a fully transformed Dainix. The Void Dragon is surprised that Dainix can completely turn into fire, and comments that they didn't design humans to do this, adding a mocking "Really, who would?" right after to show their contempt for the concept. Red, however, takes it personally.
- Winged Humanoid: Cloudchildren, a humanoid species that was artificially created a few centuries before the comic's time, resemble small elves or humans (they're never over four feet fall) with either avian, chiropteran or insect wings, and are fully capable of flight.
- Wrecked Weapon: Tess blocks one of Tynan's blades with her forearm, shattering it in half.
- Year Zero: The prologue is set in "Year Zero".
- Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: Per this post on the official Tumblr, Lightning has two physical aspects that repel themselves and attract the other and are yellow or blue. Most of the lightning magic seen uses the yellow aspect, but blue is used occasionally, like here.
- Your Soul Is Mine!: The duly-named Collector steals souls. She notes that she has stolen hundreds of mortal souls, and has since lost interest in them, but the idea of stealing the soul of a god (namely Vash) excites her. We eventually find out that she vivisects them to find a way to destroy all life on the planet.