Rich probably had this strip’s title prepared before he even knew much about the circumstances.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized reunion.)

The Order of the Stick – with the exception of a living Roy – is in one piece once again. The great, overriding problem driving much of the action of the current book has, at long last and at much cost and after many story months (and a year and a half real time), been solved.

And – with the exception of the heartfelt reunion between Elan and Haley at the end of this strip – it’s largely an afterthought, its main purpose seemingly to frustrate Vaarsuvius with another case of a problem being solved without her.

An Order of the Stick split in twain? Anymore, that’s child’s play. We’ve got a Vaarsuvius powered up with more power than he could ever imagine… and no place to use it, driving him further and further into the mouth of madness. There’s the real story at this point. The reunion of the Order is the end of a story, but V’s journey is only beginning, and this reunion is only a part of V’s larger story.

This seems to be underscored by what Roy does in this strip: make contact with the two remaining souls spliced to V. They, and V, have kept the Order (except for Belkar, but he doesn’t care) unsuspecting of V’s new nature so far, and they’ll probably do so for a while by the rules of drama. With everyone there, Roy’s resurrection seems to be imminent, so if that’s going to have an impact other than Roy knowing there are two souls spliced to V, it better have one fast.

I’ve vascillated for a while on how long V is going to hold on to the two remaining souls – would it last into the next book, or end right before this book did? Paradoxically, when V lost the first splice it moved me from the former camp into the latter, not the other way around, to best make V’s story self-contained. But as the opportunities for a lost splice have dwindled recently (and as the reunion of the Order has been treated as an afterthought), I’ve moved back into the former camp, and depending on what happens next I could still be moved back to the latter camp.

On another note, it’ll be interesting to see what Rich does with the remaining 20-plus strips in the current book. Normally Rich ends the book with a relative cooldown from the hot, plot-advancing action immediately preceding, if the past two books are any indication. But there’s a lot of space to fill and I don’t think Rich can fill it all with talking and resurrection. Rich does often fill this space with set-up for the situation for much of the next book, not just in the final strip, and I’m beginning to think V has one more teleportation in her, considering she still hasn’t lost a second splice despite already using a second epic spell.

The Order’s back, but Rich is already thinking about the next book.

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