“I say, Prancy, I can’t make any sense of this Delve episode,” Phawkes said.

“Oh, Brani, don’t let it bother you,” Prancy said, gesturing vaguely with the butter knife, “The references are quite obscure, but the clues can be found in the source material, if you look closely enough… Scone?”

“No, thank you,” Phawkes replied. He shook his head. “Clues you say? If I found such diversions the least bit amusing, I would watch Sherlock.”

“You don’t know what you’re missing there,” Prancy chided over the rim of his teacup.

“Pah! See here… Why is Bree attacking Nefice at all?” Phawkes demanded, “She’s fulfilled her contract, had her curse rune removed, and has a spidersilk suit which grants her invisibility. She could just walk away and leave the Naga to their quarrel.”

“Ah, but you are forgetting the bargain she made with the Dracomage back in Episode #57,” Prancy said.

“What bargain?”

“It’s implied,” Prancy replied with an airy tone.

“Nonsense!” Phawkes scoffed. He prodded the newspaper with his finger. “Now in panel one, it seems that she is having trouble drawing the moonblade, why is that?”

“You noticed the angry red glow of the usually blue blade?” Prancy asked.

“Of course.”

“Yes, well, it was shown, back in Episode #140, that the moonblade could eject itself from its scabbard to reach Bree’s outstretched hand,” Prancy said, “It stands to reason then that the sword could, just as easily, prevent itself from being drawn from the scabbard, if it has no desire to be used.”

“That’s a bit thin, wouldn’t you say?” Phawkes sighed.

“But plausible… within the context of the story.”

“If you insist,” Phawkes said, “Couldn’t she use it as a club then?”

“Bree isn’t proficient in club fighting,” Prancy said, taking another sip of tea, “An orcish rogue perhaps… or a dwarf rogue, using the Wield Hammer skill at half value…”

“A dwarvish rogue?” Phawkes sneered, “Balderdash!”

“No, the Thieves’ Guild incorporated the dwarven race while you were away on your last hunt,” Prancy insisted, “It was something of a scandal at the time.”

“I can imagine,” Phawkes said, “Now in panels two and three, Nefice appears to be pulling the tip of Bree’s dagger from her back. I shall assume that this is the dagger that Kindall used to murder the moon elf in the spider pit, which Bree has chosen to bring along for whatever reason. I would question why this blade would break when used to stab an unarmored spell-caster, when it so handily sheared through the armor of a warrior elf?”

“You recall the Clank sound that it made when Bree stabbed Nefice back in Episode #188?” Prancy asked.


“Obviously it struck something hard enough to snap the blade,” Prancy said, “something metallic, by the sound of it.”

The sound of it? Surely you jest,” Phawkes laughed, “It might just as well have been a protective spell which Nefice had cast upon herself prior to the engagement.”

“But Nefice was not expecting a fight,” Prancy said, “She was sitting at her breakfast table, blissfully unaware of the impending danger… and, in any case, we see that the blade penetrated far enough to draw blood. Whatever snapped the blade must be inside her body.”

“Am I to believe that Nefice is a robot?” Phawkes said.

“Don’t be preposterous! Robots don’t exist.”

“And what of Bree’s question in panel 7?” Phawkes asked, “Am I to take it that she believes Nefice to have cast a protective spell on her internal organs, and that this is why her blade was broken in the attempted backstab?”

“Exactly,” Prancy smiled, “although this is also a callback to Episode #105, wherein Paraxyss revealed that she had had her own digestive system permanently stoneskinned, which is why the Jakaali king could not cut his way out from inside of her as Bree did when she was swallowed by the guardian snake in Episode #88, a callback as well.”

“A callback?”

“It is a turn of phrase that I picked up in the theater,” Prancy said, “It means to reference a jest made earlier in one’s performance.”

“Ah, one of your actorisms.”

“Don’t be cruel Brani,” Prancy mewed, “I’m well aware of your feelings regarding my chosen profession.”

“I’m sorry Prancy,” Phawkes sighed, “I suppose this whole kerfuffle has put me in a bit of a foul mood… Case in point, whatever is this nonsense about Nefice having her organs replaced? How is that even done?”

“Wizards do that sort of thing all the time,” Prancy said.

“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response,” Phawkes grumbled.

“Nevertheless, we know that Nefice and Paraxyss have a violent history, hinted at all the way back in Episode #15,” Prancy said, “In Episode #103, Paraxyss all but admits to cannibalism. It stands to reason that Paraxyss would not have contented herself to simply injure Nefice in the struggle over the ownership of a book. Would she not have taken the opportunity to inflict some more sinister torment upon her victim as well? Perhaps Nefice was compelled to spin the Wheel of Death and met a grisly, though not lethal, fate?”

“Disgraceful!” Phawkes said, holding the paper at arm’s length as if it were a bag of scorpions, “Don’t tell me that you actually enjoy reading this filth!”

“It gives me something to do while I’m waiting for Lackadaisy to update,” Prancy answered, looking away as he took a little bite of his buttered scone.

Phawkes gave him a look of disgust. “Speaking of which,” he said, “why aren’t we in color?”

Prancy shrugged. “At least a tasteful sepia-tone would have been nice.”

“There isn’t even any background!” Phawkes scoffed. He looked around at the featureless white void. “Where the devil are we anyway?”

“I thought it was the veranda,” Prancy said.

“How can you tell?” Phawkes demanded, “I feel as though we’ve gone adrift in a Sorayama painting!”

“Indeed,” Prancy agreed, “The artist couldn’t be bothered to finish us out properly.”

“The amount of sloth clinging to that chap is mind-boggling,” Phawkes hissed.

“I say, the man is surprisingly indolent, even by colonial standards,” Prancy noted.