We’ll see a bit more of Scipio, and he’ll pick up the sword one more time in defense of the new life he’s going off to find here. But this is essentially the end of his arc, just as the previous scene was essentially the end of the E-Merachel ship, and in both cases, the rest is denouement. (E-Merl the individual has further to go, though.)

Part o’ me wishes we’d spent a little more time showing Scipio getting closer to this break with his sword-swinging role, even if his reticence would make it challenging to do so. Part of me, though, is glad for the surprise of this page and the last. It does gel with what we’ve seen, including that first bedroom scene with Fr’Nj and the horrors he’s just been through at Pardo’s village. And there’s something very Scipio about having his own quiet arc while nobody noticed and only telling people what was going on with him after it was over.

It’s certainly a better ending for him than my earlier concept, which was that Fr’Nj would head back to start her mission without him, then suddenly sense his presence leaving the web of life…just as Scipio’s player died violently and he in turn died of an aneurysm. I lost an uncle to an aneurysm while he was getting the paper, and I clearly imprinted on the idea that death could come so suddenly and inexplicably. But we usually want our fiction a bit more structured. And on a more practical level, the idea that Arkerrans’ lives and deaths were entangled with their Sepia World players’ was more than a little problematic (would that mean a rash of heart attacks or aneurysms on our world, after the events of Pardo’s village? Or would that mean anyone who stops playing an Arkerran kills them? If so, bad news for Bandit…). Better for Rachel’s player to survive her, just as Scipio (spoiler) will survive his player.

Finally, I think that’s a serious contender for the funniest alt text Flo ever wrote. It’s top five, minimum.