(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized race against time.)
After a year-and-a-half in the Empire of Blood, it’s looking like we’re finally starting to move back to the main plot.
Tarquin just took a single strip to drop most of the knowledge, for what it’s worth, on Girard that he’s promised during that time, and what it basically amounts to is a lead on the location of Girard’s Gate, but very little on Girard himself, other than that the notion that he might be dead by now is once again very plausible (or, perhaps, that he’s used aliases and illusions to keep himself young). That’s enough information, though, that Elan seems to be bringing the Empire of Blood interlude to a rather abrupt halt to chase after that lead – making me once again wonder if this interlude went on far longer than Rich intended.
On the other hand, while it originally looked like Tarquin’s “employment opportunity” for Roy and Belkar was going to be the pretense for putting them back together with the Order, that now looks like it might be rather hard to pull off – unless Tarquin takes a particularly keen interest in the Order’s journey. Adding credence to that, there’s a lot that doesn’t add up here: Elan decides that the Linear Guild pressed Tarquin’s ex-wife for information, then killed her, but Tarquin had previously indicated that he might have killed her himself… leaving open the possibility that Tarquin has his own knowledge of, and interest in, the Gates, one that doesn’t intersect with the Order’s in a friendly way.
Which is not to say it intersects with that of the Linear Guild in a friendly way either; I could easily see a scenario where Tarquin deduced that Penelope was helping Nale and killed her so she’d stop. In any case, it’s starting to look like the fight we just had between the Order and the Linear Guild may soon look like child’s play…