The forces of Tarquin close in around Roy, Belkar and unDurkon while Haley and Elan are helpless at the rim of the crater. Roy organizes battle tactics as they hold their ground against unlimited foes.
- The Order of the Stick
- Tarquin ◀ ▶
- "Durkon" ◀ ▶
- Spiky the Barbed Devil ◀ ▶
- Belkar's Dinosaur Cover ▶
- The Army of the Empire of Blood
- Panel 1, Page 1
Arrows rain down on Roy, Belkar, and Spiky, "thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk. thunk."
- Panel 2, Page 1
A velociraptor rider charges at Roy.
Roy: Durkon! Spiky goes on the front line, then start putting those vampire powers to use.
Roy: Belkar! Take cover and kick up as much sand as possible before they reload!
Belkar: Take cover? Where? The casket's all the way over—
- Panel 3, Page 1
Roy beheads the velociraptor and bisects its rider in a great sweep of his sword.
- Panel 4, Page 1
The rider's corpse goes flying as the dinosaur crumples in a heap by a surprised Belkar.
- Panel 5, Page 1
Belkar takes cover behind the beast's corpse.
- Panel 6, Page 1
Cut to the top of the crater.
Elan: Dad, you have to call this off!
Tarquin: Sorry, Elan. I know they're your friends—
Tarquin: —but if we're ever going to reach a truly satisfying final confrontation between us, something has to change.
- Panel 7, Page 1
Elan: But—if you kill the rest of my team, how will I stop that other villain for you, huh?
Tarquin: You'll manage. I have every confidence in your ability to rise to the challenge. You are my son.
- Panel 8, Page 1
Tarquin: To be sure, you'll need some sort of recruitment montage, showing all the wacky applicants you rejected.
Tarquin: A great chance for some visual humor, by the way.
Tarquin: But at the end of the day, we both know that the next tavern you visit will have 2-4 new companions near the same level just hanging around.
- Panel 9, Page 1
Tarquin: And I'm sure Rob Redblade and Murkon Lightninghammer will be fine additions to your team.
Tarquin: The key point is that they will be following you, not the other way around.
Tarquin: As I've said before, procedure matters.
- Panel 10, Page 1
Elan: But the safety of the world—
Tarquin: —is meaningless if everyone is going to run around doing whatever they feel like, without regard for proper story structure.
- Panel 11, Page 1
Tarquin: There must be some sense of order—personal, political or dramatic—
Tarquin: —and if no one else is going to bring it to this world, I will.
- Panel 1, Page 2
Tarquin: Don't worry. I'm sure that sub-boss Zyklon that you're so worried about will hang around until you show up to stop him.
Haley: Elan, forget him! We need to help Roy!
- Panel 2, Page 2
Elan: You're wrong. You're wrong about everything.
Elan: You only think you know what's supposed to happen.
- Panel 3, Page 2
Elan: But we get to decide what sort of story this is and what role we play—hero or comic relief.
Elan: Or both at the same time.
- Panel 4, Page 2
Tarquin: Hmmm. As heroic thesis statements go, I've heard better.
Tarquin: One more thing to work on, I suppose.
- Panel 5, Page 2
Cut back to Roy, carving a swath of death through the army of soldiers. Behind him "Durkon" commands several soldiers to fight their own with his Vampiric Gaze.
Roy: Durkon, I want those dominated soldiers to form a perimeter around Belkar.
"Durkon": Aye, but they're gettin' offed almost as soon as I turn 'em.
Roy: Good enough. Keep it up.
- Panel 6, Page 2
Belkar: This is going to wreak havoc with my rep. I can still stab things, you know!
Roy: Stay there!
Roy: You're more useful making concealment than you would be killing two guys and then getting immediately skewered.
- Panel 7, Page 2
Roy: Unless Durkon can replace your drained blood?
Belkar: That's disgusting! Even if he vomits it back up, how would you get it back in my veins?
Belkar: Some kind of funnel?
Roy: I meant with a Restoration spell.
- Panel 8, Page 2
"Durkon": Nay, lad. I've got all but naught fer spells 'til I pray fer new ones at dusk.
Roy: OK, well—
- Panel 9, Page 2
The panel pulls back to show the Rift, and legions of the Empire of Blood circling Roy, Belkar, and Durkon, with legions more in reserve.
Roy: —Let's call surviving until Dusk, "Plan A."
D&D Context Edit
- Tarquin refers to Xykon as a "sub-boss" who will "Hang around until you show up to stop him", invoking major rpg and video game tropes of the Mini Boss and plot lines that develop whenever the PCs happen to get to a specific location.
- Roy appears to be using his Great Cleave feat here to kill the velociraptor and rider in one stroke, as well as multiple soldiers in one stroke in page 2, panel 5.
- "Durkon" uses his Dominate attack, a special power of vampires which lets them control others by looking in their eyes.
- This is the first appearance of Belkar's Dinosaur Cover, the velociraptor killed by Roy and used by Belkar as cover.