(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized karma.)
As much as I’ve complained about the OOTS comics that I’ve read in real time since I started reading it as such, I’d have to say Vaarsuvius has probably been the best part of the comic in that span, for the ongoing tragedy of her moment of weakness.
V may well have regretted signing her deal-with-the-devil before, but until now she could at least claim the problems with it related entirely to her and her own hubris. She accepted a deal from fiends that was, in fact, successful at saving her family, but then destroyed her relationship with that family so she could use the same power for whatever plot-furthering purposes she could, except she never could. She accepted it because she was desperate to prove that arcane magic could solve all her problems, and she came out of it learning of the value of other people’s contributions, as well as knowing what her own role is.
But she also accomplished one major, though entirely unnecessary, thing, and curiously, despite it being the pinnacle of her time under the Splice, she never seemed to be too broken up about it until now. She regretted the Soul Splice, not the Familicide. The forumites knew what it said about her, the fiends knew what it said about her, but curiously enough, V himself doesn’t seem to have grasped the enormity of what he’d done until he realizes that humans were killed. One-quarter of the black dragon population? Their scales aren’t all shiny, so their destruction was just and necessary. For all the lessons she’s learned, V hasn’t yet learned the lesson she hasn’t had reason to, but that lies at the heart of the entire comic, regarding the arbitrary nature of the alignment system.
Regardless, now we can continue the story of her time under the Splice I started when she accepted it. The Splice may have started as a typical Faustian deal, though for unusual reasons, but Rich managed to turn it into something entirely his own. V almost lost sight of why she accepted the deal in the first place, becoming drunk with power and heedless of the consequences of his actions, manipulated by the spliced souls to be sure, but still entirely in control. Everything that happened in the second paragraph happened, but V is now learning the flip side of those lessons: that ultimate arcane power, wielded without caution, can have unintended consequences. Immeasurable innocent blood is now on his hands, and she may never be able to repay the debt from that moment of weakness.
On the other hand, the bill may soon be coming due on the debt from the Splice itself…