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My biggest issue in situations like this, is how afterwards everything is hunky-dory. If this were me, being put in a vulnerable position and then attacked out of the blue by my host? Definitely not-a-friend and distrusted. She’d have to have a really good reason for it, and still expect it to take time to rebuild trust.

Yeah, but Aiya’s concern isn’t for Kaylin, it’s for the danger she represents to her people. Aiya feels satisfied with this… but there’s no way Kaylin is just FINE with this- but Kaylin is also most likely to reason this out while also being on edge and very careful about Aiya, and of course put on a good act.

Indeed. Aiya’s first duty is to her village. As leader, she can’t afford to show weakness even to her daughter’s new play-thing.

Kaylin has come through a trial of fire, though, and the way Aiya speaks, she sounds like she now considers Kaylin someone under her protection—though I imagine she’ll probably want a rematch against a fully kitted out Kaylin.

Very nicely done, and (as ever) I look forward to more.

I almost feel worst for Nyna, actually – it seemed pretty clear she was eager to have her pet and her mom approve of each other, but now that’s unlikely to happen any time soon for Kaylin.

If Damaged is correct and Kaylin develops some degree of PTSD as a result of this, then it’d be even worse for Nyna because she and her mom look rather similar, and thus may cause Kaylin to make a mix up in a moment of panic, during sex, or something.

The possible scenario of them having ‘fun’ and Nyna accidentally causing Kaylin to have a flashback and her either freezing up and staring at Nyna in terror or start fighting to run away would probably hurt Nyna a good bit.
Perhaps even more so if she blames herself for bringing Kaylin to meet her mom and thus causing the fight, despite not being the instigator nor having clairvoyance.

Kaylin’s probably going to need some cuddle time to get over that little shock. Even when things are fully consensual, it sometimes takes time to get yourself straightened out, but going right to asphyxiation with no negotiation and no apparent way to tap out? That’s a one-way ride to PTSD town if you’re not careful.

I like the subtle shaky fingers on kaylin. Im betting she had a “life flash before eyes” moment here. She had previously been very serious about not wanting to test if adventurer respawning still worked or not. In this fight that choice was taken away from her, and left up to Aiya. Normally Kaylin is dismissive of most dangers and her memory likely wouldn’t include a lot of fear of death before now, so this may be a new experience for her. Question is how quickly she’ll bounce back after this.

Yeah, she has a lot of experience with death, but it’s way different to her now. She got to watch as her health bar started to deplete while being held under, she had practically no outs without her gear. Now- she wasnt brought to the brink, Kaylin still had plenty of health left but its the emotional stuff that Aiya was going for, she never intended to kill her unless she proved to be a real threat and tricking her daughter. People seem to have trouble looking at this situation from more than one angle. I’m glad everyone can see how messed up this had to be from Kaylin’s POV, but few are even considering it from Aiya’s. I do find it HILARIOUS that some people think its a good idea to get her gear on and rematch her. I don’t know many people who like getting destroyed while weak and then proving your weakness by getting destroyed at your best.

If someone did that to me, after offering their false hospitality, the only thing I’d do is gear up and return the fucking favour.

I would flat out “NOPE” the place and skeedadle first chance I got. If I was blocked and not allowed to leave, then I would cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

This is the most egregious violation of sacred hospitality I’ve seen, and yes, I’m very familiar with the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones, and even that wasn’t this bad as the Starks did manage to fight back and take down a few of their attackers with them, but this, this was a one-sided beatdown with no real explanation, and Kailyn couldn’t even defend herself very well.

I feel like everyone forgot this is a game world, where there are creatures that exist that no single person can solo…

Heh, yeah. Raid bosses are still raid bosses, I take it?

Aiya seems like one such.

You got it, she’s basically a raid boss, stage one. There’s also level 100 elites that are like 1/50 to 1/100 chance of a max character being able to solo without cheesing with certain items (That would be Worm Face! He’s not a raid boss- but he is a 100 Elite/Champion type NPC). Then there’s another raid boss tier monster in the village too. Also- there are gods… that’s a whole other level.

“Okay, so we’re coming up on the monster village. Group one and two will handle respawns; three, four, five, and six will be on Aiya, and I want groups seven and eight moving between helping DPS Aiya down and assisting with the named yard mobs. Everyone got it?”

Or something like that.

I know. And there is rarely a creature that can’t be soloed. I HATE grouping up, so I’ve become pretty damn good at soloing shit that is group. Not as good as my friend. For giggles and shits she solos 5-man dungeons. To prove she could. I watched her do it. I’d go into the dungeon with her, die, and ghost watch her. She kicks my ass all over the place. I’m not as good as I used to be. Your joints aren’t as nimble when you’re pushing 50.

Makes my friends laugh when I’m fighting. And I break out into…’duh duh duh da duhn da duhn, can’t touch this’…

When you hate grouping up you LEARN to solo what ‘can’t be soloed’.

And if she turned out to be the ones that actually can’t be. I’d be telling her to go fuck herself and leave. Nyna too if she expected me to just suck this bitches shit and live with it. Hell, I’d be telling my little mage player what she’s like too. Then any OTHER player I come across. Till we have enough to take her out. Breaking hospitality is a death sentence.

“And there is rarely a creature that can’t be soloed.”

Yeah, and while that tends to be a main attraction of newer MMOG, older ones frequently had raid mobs that (in some cases) required hundreds of players to fight.

I’m not saying this world is quite 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 level of crazy, but if there’s a fight that 𝙧𝙚𝙦𝙪𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙨 a multi-group tank-n-spank, Kaylin is not going to be able to deal with them alone—as was shown here. Aiya bodied her hard, and if it had gotten serious, I’m sure our story would have ended very suddenly right here and now.

Generally speaking, I tend to think of modern as being MMOS starting around the WoW era, where a big focus on solo play began. The whole “do quests until max level” thing, rather than getting a group together and grinding mobs for XP.

Old era examples: Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Final Fantasy Online XI

New era examples: World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, Elder Scrolls Online

And the one I played before now, Istaria, predates Wow. So modern

You certainly have a different experience with games than I do then. I draw a lot of my inspiration from the MMOs and games I am familiar with. D&D also being an important influence, but D&D is about party play, not soloing. The idea of soloing is certain creatures is not a part of this game. There are ways to deal with some, but there are also those meant to only be beaten with help. Soloing everything in an MMO, to me, defeats the purpose of an MMO. If you want to be the very best, like no one ever was- you don’t even play pokemon. You play something like Skyrim, where you can learn and do everything. You can be a master of smithing, an arch mage, the slayer of vampires, master assassin, the leader of the thieves guild, and anything else you want to be. That’s not what MMOs are for IMO. MMOs are for people to play together, sure you can be awesome and do things most people can’t normally do on their own, but there are mountains you can’t climb, there are methods you can’t use, and there are creatures that can’t be slain in a single strike. Aiya is such a creature, but now that her world has changed before her eyes, she’s very protective of her people. In the same way you might kill a bug in your house, especially if it’s a dangerous one like a brown recluse spider or a scorpion, she will swat an adventurer if it’s dangerous. She’s not going to just trust a scorpion to not sting her, so she’s making sure she’s not a danger before she lets her daughter keep it.

You actually touch on something I’d been wondering about – whether Kaylin is still able to see UI elements like HP, levels, labels/titles, etc. To draw a comparison Sword Art Online made *heavy* use of watching life bars drop to create a sense of danger, but we havent seen it actually appear in-comic that I recall. We’ve seen the hovering icons for the player bank, but that’s mostly it I that I recall offhand. Kaylin referred to barely detecting Nyna as a ‘feeling’, similarly without any visual cue. I’m definitely not saying that you need to start including such things, but I’m curious how much she actually gets to see/know at this point and how it differs from what ‘everyone else’ gets to see.

As for seeing this fight from Aiya’s perspective – readers get pushed to sympathize with the protagonist/main character, but it’s good to reinforce that after all this IS a village of ‘monsters’, the sort that old Adventurers used to kill unthinkingly. For that matter Kaylin already has one confirmed villager kill with a rock. So there’s plenty of reason for fear and bad blood to exist, even if those reasons were largely glossed over in-text. It’s hard to do the ‘show-dont-tell’ balance, but so far it’s working out pretty well!

Yeah I’ve tried not to include many UI things in the comic because I think in some ways its better to “not know” – But here im kinda thinking I should have shown Kaylins health bar- to show shes at 2/3 health, she didnt hold her under till she was a point or two from death – it’s still a bad experience though!

“Sena, take our pet inside to rest and dry her off.”
Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard NO from me, not your pet anymore. That kind of fun friendly relationship is absolutely off the table after that kind off trust break.

I get why Aiya did it and I see her reasoning but.. No, I’d be grabbing Callum and leaving tonight. Everything said is now suspect, they may have a disliking of hurting kids but after this I wouldn’t be able to take that at face value anymore. No assurance of safety is gonna be worth the breath at this point. This may seem a bit extreme and a very black and white view, but trust takes time to regain and I would be having Very Serious issues with trusting anyone in this village while I sleep(or meditate) right now.

I’m not saying the situation is irrecoverable but I’m gonna be kind of disappointed if we basically just get a hand wave (“It’s fine, I get your reasoning, I’m completely fine now, moving on.”(and no, I wouldn’t consider Kaylin just stepping careful around Aiya an improvement)). Actions should have consequences.

Just my 2c.

Yeah a lot of what you say here is correct, and Kaylin personally isn’t in any kind of position to really do anything though. If she runs she abandons Nyna and Aiya gets to assume the worse about Kaylin. The idea that Aiya has broken some sort of unbreakable trust is- ridiculous. Aiya doesn’t even know for sure, but in many ways her method is effective for what she wants. Kaylin is a master of persuasion and deception, Aiya can suspect that, and if she thinks her daughter is being manipulated- which there is plenty she can point to from her perspective that that could be true, she can’t just TRUST Kaylin. So she’s taking any need for trust off the table to see what she’s dealing with. Is it harsh? Yes! Absolutely! It’s brutal, but she’s a monster, so is Nyna. Physical domination is a big part of who they are and their hierarchy. They have advanced in many ways but they don’t function just like Humans.

There was no trust to begin with, Aiya dismissed Nyna to do what she could to figure out Kaylin. She couldn’t just talk to her, and the option of reading her mind while possible- would involve another monster and THAT is a much bigger violation I think and would still require Kaylin be restrained. When thinking about what Aiya needed to do, this seemed like the most likely action she would take. If she had tried to talk to Kaylin- Kaylin would have dominated her in a similar those less visceral way. Aiya wouldn’t be any closer to being able to figure out Kaylin, she would just have been deceived or persuaded, which is also a terribly way of creating trust.

I would like to warn you though- This will not be “hand waved” away. But remember we are also talking about Kaylin, again, her whole thing is persuasion, deception- aka Acting. She’ll likely pretend to be fine, and if I draw and write it properly- it shouldnt be obvious at all to viewers that she’s secretly still scared. I have to be careful about how I show it, so don’t mistake Kaylin’s happy smile or happy chatting with Aiya for her being ok. Normally I wouldn’t even mention this but I do know with how it’s written it may seem like she’s fine, especially for anyone who misses the cues. I’m already looking at areas to emphasize the cues some more because Im worried people will assume incorrectly. I hate having to balance between showing too much and showing not enough. One person catch it, another person doesn’t, and one is happy and the other stopped reading because they get pissed off.

As for consequences, there are always consequences, it’s just not always what people might think. As we know IRL, often people in positions of power can do terrible things, and get a slap on the wrist. So long as you aren’t looking for REVENGE, you should be fine with what happens. Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of people basically saying “But they should just kill them! They are strong right? They shouldn’t just take that from them!” like it’s a good idea for people to just murder their problems rather than work them out. I was hoping to avoid this by also making it very clear that Kaylin has no chance of beating Aiya, so anyone with that idea would be able to say that – but it seems like they disagree with that as well.

“The idea that Aiya has broken some sort of unbreakable trust is- ridiculous.”

At some times and places in our world, hospitality was codified into law, but generally it is a social contract which lays out what the guest should and should not do, and what the host should and should not do.

Maybe its culture shock and its not a thing for Aiya and her people. But it is a thing for me and what Aiya did was a flagrant violation of hospitality. I find it a really gross situation. If I were in this situation, I would want out. I would not be that willing to trust Aiya with any other sort of contract or agreement based on this, since, from my perspective, she’d not hold up her end it if she didn’t feel like it. It makes me question her integrity. Its a loss of honor or face or credit, if you will.

Aiya may have her reasons, but I don’t know them. They may be good reasons or bad reasons, but the bridge is still on fire. And really, how many extra enemies do you make yourself by attacking people out of the blue to prove they aren’t enemies?

Yeah see you are conflating several things here, hospitality is given to guests, and hospitality is given to people. Neither apply to how Aiya see’s Kaylin. As I’ve said many times, Kayin was specifically not accepted as a guest into the home, and hospitality is expended to people- Aiya being a monster extended her hospitality explicitly towards Callum but not Kaylin because Kaylin is seen as a wolf would be seen to a farmer, or more specifically a dog- one you dont know if its wild or rabid or not. You don’t offer hospitality to a creature that wishes you harm, I don’t get why people have trouble with this.

There was no agreement, Aiya only has the report from her cousin and other underlings that Nyna acts strangely around her and that she killed one of their people. Personally I find it absurd to ignore that even if the barghast was being rude and disrespectful. Most of the reports do not put Kaylin in a good light, but Aiya is smart enough to know their biases may contribute, so she want’s to determine for herself. Aiya is not a creature made for discussion and diplomacy, she does have a skill for intimidation which is used to force people to divulge generally truthful information so long as they are subject to her fear or terror effect.

First of all, thank you for such an in-depth reply. I’ve only just now seen it today (been offline a bit).

Looking back and thinking on your statements re: Aiyas motivations (which I never had a problem with) and the lack of any sort of hospitality/trust towards Kaylin on Aiyas part (something I (and apparently Kaylin) missed) I guess the lesson for Kaylin from this should hopefully be ‘be less trusting of this new world’. I guess the lack of trust is now definitely mutual though.

The new page neatly kills the immediately leaving idea I guess, unless (unlikely) Callum gets the short version of events and ‘rescues’ her (him being a kid/ having incomplete information and teleport would (to me at least) make some sense and be kind of funny). I get (I think at least, time will tell) the set up you’re going for here and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out, I’m just so far past being over the ‘ “You’ve passed this test you didn’t know we were having, that nearly killed you, welcome aboard.” “Thank you so much, all is forgiven” ‘ story trope that I might be seeing it in places it isn’t and arcing up out of reflex.
Sorry if I came off too abrasive with the hand wave comment.

I look forward to more on these consequences and more AI in general, it has been and continues to be a fun ride. I was never looking for revenge from Kaylin, just that there be some kind of cause and effect. (Sudden Dark Thought: Callum takes these trust and ‘monsters are different and don’t play by human rules’ lessons to heart but does nothing in the short term. In 10-15 years, out of nowhere and with no warning a battalion of steam tanks rolls up and flattens the village.) Not sure where that came from and I think I might be just starting to ramble (currently on no sleep) so I just want to say I think it’s ‘good’ that this raised so many thoughts/ comments (shows people are engaged(even if a lot of us missed this coming)) and thank you for being so engaging back.

I want to say thank you to Sage for clarifying in the comments that Aiya is not a character that could be beaten (“solo-ed”) by Kaylin. It is in my opinion not a declaration that could be made “in universe”, and even my original impulse was to root for Kaylin gearing up and coming back with a win over Aiya. To know that by “Word of God” ( it is impossible makes it easier and (to me) more acceptable that it will not happen. (As is the indication that despite the surface images, which is almost all that we can use to absorb information in this format, Kaylin would not be just “ok” with it and will move on/ignore it.)
Thank you not just for this, but also for all the hard work and time you have put into sharing this creation of yours.

It is to be clarified in the comic – but i felt it was better to show it after the fight so as not to ruin the general surprise of the “hero” getting beat so easily. I’ve also mentioned in the past of certain monsters having both levels and Ranks such as Elite. For game mechanics Elites are usually hard to solo monsters but not impossible especially if you are well over their level. One issue I have is how much i need to just flat out say in a story though because if i say too much- im dumping exposition, if i dont say enough people get confused! Thanks for the comment. I like interacting with stuff like this especially when the conflict is mostly just an issue with POV and it helps me correct future things to make it easier for people to understand.

“Oh goody, you’re helpless before my wrath and when caught unawares by a close relative of someone you have a rather intense, kink-based relationship with and who you won’t be able to effectively resist in any meaningful way without being afraid of hurting your girlfriend’s mother! Quick, my good estate-courtesan, love-bomb her so that my new little pawn is properly cuddled into function again! Having demonstrated my power as the goddess of the village, now I have to make bloody sure she never spouts out how I have a fetish for blitzing peaceful newcomers in tests of strength to the nearby areas after the offer of hospitality which is by and large sacred in a world of brutal violence, or people could get SPICY and I’d have to face more consequences than my daughter’s sex-doll trying to hide the shivers!”

Even in an MMO, this would be cause for severe concern; Ayla may have pragmatic reasons for spanking Kaylin like a redheaded stepchild during a bath during the promise of safety during hospitality in a world gone insane, but unless we’re setting up the she-witch of the town to try and show off how ‘awful smrt’ she is, they’d be wise to leave her…and Kaylin’s little hellion girlfriend to their obsessions, quickly.

Naturally, the Goddess of the Village won’t leave them leave. Someone needs to be a good toy-I mean PARTNER for her daughter so she doesn’t go having ‘dangerous liaisons’. Better one you know you can surprise attack during a time of trust and vulnerability, and by doing so reveal that she’s far too sentimental to effectively protect herself!

This isn’t a test of character, not an effective one; the mother of her girlfriend just bitch-slapped her from surprise. If anything, this only proves that Kaylin is lousy at handling ambushes from naked women. Not many people ARE, in game or out, good at this. This doesn’t prove the Goddess is all that ‘supr-smrt’. And if Kaylin played dumb well-enough against an obviously powerful person in the heart of their kingdom surrounded by dozens of strong protectors, then she played well to survival; actually defending yourself effectively against the obvious super-powered ruler of a bunch of outcastes hiding from a larger world is a smooth ride to death.

Like daughter, like mother; Ayla found a toy, played with it in complete safety, then tossed it to a staff harlot so it could go back to entertaining the daughter-child after showing off how strong she is…a foolish choice in a world of intrigue, but hey, it’s just a vidya-game, I guess.

Still, at least the eye-candy is well-drawn. I can appreciate that.

Finally, no; I don’t believe for a second that Nyna is gonna do anything. Not a thing; mother has trained her well, made her fear her every reaction. Nyna is gonna cuddle all happily, mewl and prattle about how ‘YOU PASSED THE TEST YAYZ’. There will be no revenge, no reaction, no resistance. Kaylin is just gonna have a few ‘funneh’ scenes about being scardededed of hot fox-goddess.

You have some good points in this but most of it is clouded by a bunch of nonsense or some kind of misunderstanding. You’re talking about a goddess and your talking about Sena- i think? But there’s nothing negative shown about Sena yet? She’s been a servant only in everything and nothing like what you said at all. Unless you are calling Aiya a fox? But she’s not- so I don’t know what you are talking about. There’s no goddess here atm, so I don’t get why you are talking about the goddess that hasn’t even shown up in this? Then there’s this idea of “hospitality”. Hospitality was extended to Callum, It was not to Kaylin, explicitly. She was not welcomed as a guest. I don’t know why people think that she was. I guess people misunderstand what a pet is? Pets to humans are many different things, some people treat them as family, others treat them as tools, objects, or as a cute thing to look at and play with. You might argue that they should or must be treated as family, but a pet is almost always just a domesticated creature kept for whatever. If you have an undomesticated creature- or even just an untrained domesticated creature it could be dangerous, so, you train it. Now, I wouldn’t recommend taking a dog into a bath and beating it up to show it who’s the boss- but an intelligent creature in a vulnerable state is easier to intimidate.

If you can argue this in a way that seems legitimate, then maybe I was just wrong in how I handled this? But looking it over from her perspective it seems to me that it fits, maybe I failed in some other capacity? I don’t get why some people seem so bent against it yet- didnt say anything earlier? I mean- would it have been better if Kaylin turned it around on her? Then we have the pet biting the master? That’s bad too right? So where was this when this whole thing started? What was the trigger?

The attack is not a test of character, it’s a test of strength. It’s intimidation, one of the main ways monsters function. She learns the effective skill and strength of Kaylin, Kaylin learns that Aiya will murder her if she crosses her people again (remember- Kaylin already murdered one of HER people- even if she didn’t like him either).

ngl kind of disheartening to see so many people’s views of what happened. Sure, I don’t agree with what Aiya’s done, but at the same time SHE IS NOT HUMAN, EVEN IF SHE LOOKS LIKE ONE. I wasn’t expecting perfect decency from her especially when she made it a point to distract her daughter. Now, on the other hand. I see a mother, and leader, making certain in the “least” deplorable way to make certain that Kaylin is who she says she is, an Adventurer, and not someone who found Adventurer gear just seeking to use Nyna. Second, do not forget that shadow group of people who somehow unlocked the secrets of “EXP”, and would likely have loved to harvest any of these creatures to further that “research” in anyway possible.

Still don’t agree with Aiya’s method, but I can see why she did it.

Part of my likes the reaction because it’s one of those times I can see people actually read and respond to my work- and I do enjoy engaging with people but this really comes down to a perspective I guess is difficult for some people. I even went over this with a few others and every single time it comes down to “What would you have had Aiya do?” and I’ve yet to see an answer that fits her character and motives. Aiya is hot- but she not human- she doesn’t follow the same rules, she doesn’t show humans the same respect for monsters, and she particularly is warry of and despises most adventurers. When Nyna first heard Kaylin was an adventurer- she freaked out and ran. Who instilled that reaction into her?

It does bother me though that this blew up so much that I feel like i might need to do more exposition dumping than I wanted to in order to explain it- not that i expect that to change anyone’s mind on most of it. People shouldn’t be ok with what Aiya did, I just want them to understand it from her perspective. From Kaylin’s it’s messed up, for hers, she’s protecting her family and people.

I have learned that the more I explain it in depth to people the more they seem to realize this was effective and works in the lore and was reasonable from characters perspectives.

Fair points all around. Perspective isn’t an easy thing to…well…perceive, for most people. I know for sure that it takes me a solid minute to even hash out the entire scenario from multiple viewpoints. But as you yourself said, Kaylin’s gonna be messed up by this for(probably more than) a bit while Aiya feels like she was protecting her daughter.

But truthfully? I hope that this makes a stronger bond between Kaylin and Nyna. They’re so cute together.

Hey phil, love the comic! I think part of the confusion with the Kaylin-Aiya fight is webcomic time. Nyna mentioned her mother’s level as “elite” and not someone they want to solo in chapter 3, which was January 2018. For me personally, I was hoping she was closer to a more traditional “elite” in that they are 2-3 people, but can solo with tricks/good rotation and not the raid/world boss with it being 50+.

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