A Sergeant and a Sapper
Order of the Stick comic
Comic no. 991
Date published 22 June 2015
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Young Durkon learns from Thirden about a crucial episode of his parents' past.

Cast Edit

Transcript Edit

Panel 1, Page 1

A closed door

Panel 2, Page 1

The door opens and young Durkon looks in.
Durkon: Uncle Thirden? It's me, Durkon.

Panel 3, Page 1

Thirden: Durkon! Come in, come in! Hoskin was just leaving.
Hoskin: Aye, well sort tha rest out after Sigdi's dinner this week, Squeaky.

Panel 4, Page 1

Hoskin: Ye’ve hafn’t been near any o’ tha halflin’ pipeweed anymore, haf ye, Durkon?
Durkon: Nay, sir, Uncle Hoskin, sir. Promise!
Hoskin: Good lad. See tha it stays tha way.

Panel 5, Page 1

Thirden: Now, what does a fine young man such as yourself seek in the humble cave of this humble miner-turned-bard?
Durkon: Uh, well…
Thirden: A song? A story? Some lore you need to know for school?
Durkon: Lore, aye, but na fer school.

Panel 6, Page 1

Durkon: I, uh…I need ta know tha answer ta a question Ma willnae answer.
Thirden: Is this about sex? Please let it be about anything other than sex.

Panel 7, Page 1

Durkon: How did Ma get hurt? An’ how did me Pa die?

Panel 8, Page 1

Thirden: …
Thirden: So how about that sex, huh?

Panel 9, Page 1

Durkon: Uncle Thirden.
Thirden: I can’t help it! Your mother specifically forbid me from telling you this story and she’s scary!

Panel 10, Page 1

Thirden: On one hand, I firmly believe a dwarf should know his ancestry—
Thirden: —especially whether or not his own father died with honor.
Thirden: On the other hand, I’m firmly against getting hit by retired soldiers, as a general rule.

Panel 11, Page 1

Thirden: So instead, I am going to tell you a completely unrelated story about a frightening monster that threatened our people—
Thirden: And you, in turn, are going to learn all about the wonderful world of subtext.
ThirdenWhich, incidentally will also help a lot with the sex stuff when you’re older.

Panel 12, Page 1

Thirden: Once upon a time, there was a terrible troll that was terrorizing a dwarven village not that far from here.
Thirden: The local guards were no match for it, so the army directed its nearest monster-killing squad to intervene.

Panel 1, Page 2

The panel art changes to crayon-style drawings. Thirden narrates the story, as the scene is set on a squad of dwarven soldiers.
Thirden (inset): The squad was led by a clever and heroic young sergeant who had slain many monsters in her time. She was married to one of the men under her command—the team’s sapper.
Tenrin: Sgt. Thundershield, I dinnae suppose ye’d care ta discuss tactical decisions under Thor’s starry sky tonight?
Sigdi: Aye, Sapper Thundershield, I believe tha would be lovely.
Dwarf Soldier #1: Och, ye two are married now!
Dwarf Soldier #2: Ye dinnae haf ta pretend yer na shtuppin’ anymore!

Panel 2, Page 2

Thirden (inset): The sergeant had fought trolls before, and knew that they could heal any wound except for those dealt with fire and acid—so she had her troops carry flaming weapons before them as they entered its cave.
Sigdi: Onna count o’ three. One, two…

Panel 3, Page 2

Thirden (inset): But what she couldn’t have known was that this troll had the blood of dragons as well!
Tenrin: Sigdi, the fire’s na workin’! We need ta retreat!
Sigdi: We need ta protect tha villagers, Tenrin—an’ ‘e’ll cut us down if’n we turn tail anyway!
Tenrin: …Then I haf an idea.

Panel 4, Page 2

Thirden (inset): Now, your father—uh, I mean, the squad’s sapper—was a geological genius. Sire, we all learn the basics of spotting unsafe stonework, but he was a true savant.
Thirden (inset): He found a weak point in the cave’s structure and attacked!
Tenrin swings his hammer at a fracture in the cave wall, "CRACK!"

Panel 5, Page 2

Thirden (inset): The cave began collapsing on the troll—
Thirden (inset): —and the team.
Sigdi: Tenrin! TENRIN!
Dwarf Soldier #2: Sarge, we need ta get out o’ here!
Thirden (inset): While the troll could ignore the wounds the rocks left in his flesh, the cave-in left him trapped beneath a hundred tons of stone.

Panel 6, Page 2

Thirden (inset): Most of the remaining squad made it out, but the sapper wasn’t one of them. And many that did were badly injured—including the sergeant.
Thirden (inset): When the clerics examined her, they discovered she was pregnant. With you.
Male Cleric: The baby survived??
Female Cleric: Praise Thor!

Panel 1, Page 3

Back in Thirden's cave, the panel art returns to the normal style
Durkon: So…Pa died a hero.
Thirden: Yes.
Durkon: ‘E’s in Valhalla then? Wit Thor?
Thirden: I would assume so, yes.

Panel 2, Page 3

Durkon: In our family tomb…wha’s buried whar Pa’s marker lies?
Thirden: A lock of his beard your mother carried.
Thirden: The priests consecrated and buried it in lieu of his body. As far as the church is concerned, those are his remains.

Panel 3, Page 3

Durkon: Wha was ‘e like?
Thirden: Your father? I don’t really know. The five of us didn’t become friends with your mother until right before you were born.
Thirden: But from what she tells me—

Panel 4, Page 3

Thirden: —he was patient and kind and loyal.
Thirden: The sort of man you can count on, even if he doesn’t always stand out in a crowd.

Panel 5, Page 3

Durkon: ‘E sounds…nice.
Thirden: I suspect that’s why your mother hasn’t remarried in all these years.
Thirden: No matter how many times Hoskin has asked her.

Panel 6, Page 3

Durkon: But…why dinnae Ma want me ta hear tha story? It’s na more violent than half Thor’s myths.
Tenrin: You would have to ask her that. And I strongly suggest that you don’t.

Panel 7, Page 3

Thirden: Now come on, let’s go get some deep friend[sic] fungus from the vendor cart in the main hall.
Durkon: Ma says if’n I eat after school, I’ll spoil me appetite fer dinner.
Thirden: Guess that’ll be one more reason not to tell her you dropped by this afternoon.

Panel 8, Page 3

The memory fades as Durkon's confined spirit watches with "Durkon", his vampire spirit captor. Thirden: Plus, there’s an old bardic expression: in for a copper piece, in for a platinum!
DurkonHa ha! Thanks, Uncle Squeaky.
Durkon: Thar. Happy now?
"Durkon": The details don’t interest me at all, but yes, I’m glad to have one less question hanging unanswered.

Panel 9, Page 3

"Durkon": Once the Godsmoot begins, I will need to focus on the task at hand. I don’t want to waste any energy satisfying idle curiosity.

Panel 10, Page 3

"Durkon": This is it. Today. After millennia of waiting, Hel will finally have her due.
"Durkon": And when it is done, I will sit at her side as the chosen servant who enabled this, her greatest victory!

Panel 11, Page 3

Durkon: Och, fine, I get it. Evil, evil, evil. If’n ye keep twirlin’ yer mustache tha hard, it’ll fall out.
"Durkon": I do not require a mustache to complete our ultimate triumph! And it itches anyway!

Continuity Edit

  • Both Hoskin (first page, panel 3) and Durkon (third page, panel 8) call Thirden by his nickname of "Squeaky".
  • Thirden describes himself as a miner-turned-bard.
  • Sigdi's weekly dinners are mentioned in the third panel of the first page.
  • Thirden's comments on page 3, panel 3 reveals that Uncle Thirden, Uncle Hoskin and his Aunt and Cousin are not his blood relatives, but friends of Sigdi.

D&D ContextEdit

  • As noted in the strip, Trolls are generally capable of regenerating all harm except that caused by fire or acid.
  • However, this troll has dragon blood and is therefore capable of handling fire damage as well. There is no standard monster that is a dragon-troll hybrid, but in Dragon magazine #199 the Fire Troll was introduced for AD&D 2nd Edition, which has abilities (immunity to fire and acid) similar to the troll depicted in this strip.
  • The "old bardic expression" from page 3, panel 8 is a D&D twist on the old English adage, "in for a penny, in for a pound". The English currency is replaced with standard D&D equivalents, the copper piece and the platinum piece.

Trivia Edit

  • This is one of three strips outside of The Crayons of Time which uses the crayon drawing style. The others are #644 and #704.
  • The runes above the door in page 1, panel 3 transliterate to "Home Sweet Home".
  • This is the only appearance of Tenrin Thundershield, Durkon's father.

External Links Edit

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