Panels 1 and 3 are important, I think. Neither Bandit nor Syr’Nj want their friendship to end today on top of everything else. For that reason, they both hesitate. (Well, in Bandit’s case, it’s also the air of barely contained menace Syr’Nj is putting out.)

But ultimately, neither of them is going to give the other a choice. If Bandit had been repentant, if she’d been standing over the pincushioned Byron and crying, “I had to, I’m sorry but I had to, I couldn’t save him, I couldn’t save any of them”… well, that’d be another story… but that’d also be another Bandit than the one we’ve been following. It’s not like Bandit chose to break. It’s this chain of events that broke her. When she heals back, she’ll be changed.

Again, I don’t think Syr’Nj is the bad guy. She’s pretty damn broken herself after losing Byron, Bandit, and a bunch of villagers and adventurers. (The back of her brain is already shouting, “Why didn’t you make better choices, genius? Why didn’t you save them?”)

The fact that it takes Syr’Nj this long to slug Bandit shows how crazy strong her willpower normally is. When she is knocked down, it can take her time to recover (see Chapters 18-19, 37). But 99 out of 100 people who saw someone butchering their spouse for any reason would not have shown the control Syr’Nj did here, especially not after confirming his death and hearing that first “Good.” (And let’s not forget that she gave Bandit a direct order and Bandit first ignored her, then literally threatened her with daggers in response.) She gives Bandit a chance to backtrack. Bandit refuses it. Only then, when there is no point to restraint, does emotion fully take Syr’Nj over… and even then, not for long.

This is probably the series’ second-act turning point. Many are dead. One of our heroes’ leader figures is dead. The other two will never speak to each other again. There are a couple of other upcoming scenes one could call second-act turning points (we’ll mention those when we get there), but both are consequences of what’s been unleashed here. If you’re a first-time reader, you should already be wondering how and whether our heroes can come back from this.

NEXT: Some odds and ends before we get into “Breaking Bread with the Enemy,” in which our other team of heroes struggles to come back from their “this.”