Page 13 made it look a bit like E-Merl and Scipio and Bandit and Rabbit were in earshot of that-which-was-once-Byron’s mighty yell, but no, it’s other little signs that have raised the hairs on the backs of their necks.

I’m here for the small gesture of Scipio stomping out his stogie as highlighted in panels 2 and 3. He’s sometimes fought life-or-death battles with that thing clenched between his teeth, but some instinct tells him that the next few hours will be different, that he’ll need every ounce of oxygen he can take in.

Flo was a bit defensive about sticking the joke in the final tier of panels here, but I was totally fine with it. It is, as she said, the last “fluff page” before the battle begins, and E-Merl is a reliable source of fluff, especially since his personal life is going so well right now. (Yes, yes, I know. It’s irony.)