The Four Kingdoms is the name of the landmass comprising the kingdoms of Sunsgrove, Aisling, Navran, and Kishar. Before a treaty ended countless years of war and racial strife, the many races of the land found themselves constantly at odds, unable to maintain even the simplest of alliances.
This all changed when the Canid a strong and ambitious race from the frozen and bitter Northern Wastes invaded Ermehn lands in what is now Aisling. Battle lines were drawn, and all races in the land were pulled into a massive war that claimed thousands of lives.
The Treaty of Cenolau, named for the neutral city at the very center of the continent, ended the conflict, drawing borders around the kingdoms for the very first time.
Since the dawn of history, civilization has begun to take root.
There is little hope it will succeed.
Beyond the Western Deep follows the Tamian (squirrel) Quinlan and the Lutren (otter) Dakkan as they try to prevent a war between the Canid and Ermehn (wolves and ermine). Meanwhile, Hardin the Ermehn is determined to right the wrong he believes has been done to his people after the war.
Due to Creator Breakdown with stress of the comic's artist, the comic is now in the midst of a side story called Song of the Eastern Sands, taking place in one of the other nations and following a new group of characters.
Song of the Eastern Sands concluded on October 15, and now follows Ambassador Janik and her companions as they travel to the Vulpin lands.
Provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Kenosh shows he's not above at least threatening to hit his son. Of course, Dakkan's reaction implies it wouldn't be the first time.
- Afraid of Blood: Dakkan, who almost faints at its sight.
- Annoying Arrows: Averted. One crossbow bolt to the shoulder is enough to put Quinlan out of commision.
- Anti-Villain: Hardin. He is framed as the Big Bad, but owing to the setting's Gray and Gray Morality he can't really be considered any more evil than the protagonists themselves. Ultimately, he desires to right the wrongs his peoples ostensibly suffered.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Crim. He goads Quinlan into a sparring match to show off his skills at the Tesque (the fictional martial art of the Tamian race). It doesn't end well for Crim, though.
- Big Bad: Hardin, the Anti-Villain main antagonist.
- Big Damn Heroes: Bevan and Rhosyn show up just in time to save Hardin from a pair of Canid soldiers.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Lutren are otters and Tamian are squirrels, for a start. Canid are wolves, Ermehn are weasels, Polcan are ferrets, Vulpin are foxes, and Felis are leopards or other varieties of cat.
- Chekhov's Skill: Bevan's knife throwing and Rhosyn's crossbow come in handy during the raid on Deltrada.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kenosh and Dakkan.Quinlan: Wait, war? What's he talking about?Kenosh: War, captain, is what you get when you have two armies who don't like each other very much.
- Duel to the Death: Hardin is introduced this way. It is an Ermehn rite.
- Fantastic Racism: Even the protagonists aren't above it; Dakkan believes that the Ermehn are violent savages, when they've been forced into that lifestyle by the Canid conquering their land.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Each of the nations have at least identifiable cultural analogues in the real world, if not particularly evident due to the species based trappings: Sungrove is obviously regular medieval Europe (with Tamian mythology have native american-esque aspects, and the Lutren having polynesian traits), the Felis are by creator admission based on both the Roman Empire and medieval China, the Canids resemble both the Roman Empire and medieval northern Europe, the Ermehn resemble germanic peoples (and bear a passing aesthetic similarlity to scottsmen), the Vulpin are clearly arabic and the Polcan look like stereotypical pirates, but overall can be more easily compared to Sea Peoples.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Most characters because they are anthropomorphic carnivorans.
- Gone Native: Not entirely, but Kenosh, despite having fought against the Ermehn during the war, runs off with them immediately after stabbing General Clovis in the back, and before that had spoken in favor of them and in sympathy to their plight with the Canid.
- Gray and Gray Morality: The story presents two major differing opinions on the results of the second war, specifically whether or not the Ermehn got what they deserved or were unfairly punished. Neither is seen as right or wrong (out-of-universe, due to the fact that everyone has a bias that affects their view on what exactly happened), but the question (and the answers the various characters have chosen) is a huge driving force behind the conflict.
- Hypocrite: General Clovis doesn't see the need to respect that the Treaty of Cenolau gave land to the Ermehn, but forces Kenosh, Quinlan, and Dakkan to join his war efforts as the Treaty dictates.
- Karmic Death: General Clovis, after a whole chapter of being a Jerkass to Quinlan, Dakkan, and Kenosh, is unceremoniously stabbed In the Back by Kenosh after he attempts to kill Hardin (who at this point was a disarmed and relatively harmless prisoner.)
- Knight Templar: Hardin. Out to save his people, he causes untold suffering in the process.
- Light Is Not Good: In Lutren mythology the sun is evil and wants to burn everything.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Quinlan and Dakkan are able to escape from a cell in the Deltrada garrison because Quinlan uses a crossbow bolt General Tosch accidentally left in the cell to chip away the mortar keeping his chains in the wall.
- Non-Action Guy: Quinlan tries to invoke this by becoming a scout for the Tamian army, much to his grandfather's displeasure
- Parental Abandonment: Quinlan's parent's are confirmed by Word of God to be deceased.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Early in chapter two, Quin and Dak aren't paying attention while on watch and get ambushed by a trio of bandits while Kenosh is sleeping. In the ensuing fight, Dakkan is taken captive and Quin can't fight back or the bandits will kill the Lutren. Meanwhile, Kenosh has woken up and managed to sneak around the bandits and get the drop on them. The fight goes un-shown, instead cutting away to the trio discussing what happened.
- Old Soldier: Kenosh is stated to be in his late fifties, but is a well-respected and highly skilled warrior. Ashtor is implied to be one, but this has yet to be seen.
- Red Shirt Army: Hardin plans to use an Ermehn tribe as this during the attack on Deltrada.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Inverted with many of the Ermehn who, despite living in the frigid northern wastes, wear sleeves without shirts
- Smug Snake: Crim. He teaches Tesque (the Tamian local martial art) and early in chapter 1 challenges Quinlan in an attempt to humiliate him due to him not thinking Quinlan deserves to be captain of the Tamian military. Despite a rocky start, Quin is able to come out on top in an awesome way.
- The Chains of Commanding: Quinlan is not happy about inheriting his grandfather's position as captain.