An anonymous commenter wanted to know (if it wasn’t too spoilery), “I’d love to hear about Thorn’s previous relationships, how they ended and why. Why is it he wasn’t dating at the start. Who was his first heartbreak that you hinted at? Ditto for Leif.”
Some of this will actually come up in the strip in a few weeks! So anyone who wants to experience it there totally unprepared, skip the rest of this entry.
No spoilers for any of the larger plot arcs, though.
- First boyfriend: they were middle-school-aged, it was very cute, then the other kid’s family moved away.
- Second boyfriend: a couple years later. The guy had a thing about lying to make himself look good — not so different from Holly’s boasting in Fish Story, except that it was a long-term problem. When one of Thorn’s moms died, and Thorn switched from “captivated audience” to “person in acute need of support,” the boyfriend broke it off.
- So the breakup was pretty scalding, but the loss of his mother was the real heartbreak. Thorn’s emotions were really shut-down over the next few years, right into when he started military training. It was also during this time he settled on the idea that all the stress in his parents’ marriage came from how much his mom “had to travel for work,” so if he was going to be a knight, he couldn’t have a serious romance for the duration.
- He tried a bit of casual dating during the early days, found it unsatisfying, and gave up on the whole prospect…until now.
- Never dated in school. His parents’ arrest happened before he got a chance to start. He wasn’t pulled out of class and thrown straight into servitude, but his new status wasn’t a secret, either.
- He’s had a string of friends-with-benefits arrangements with other servants, rarely lasting more than a few months.
- Something I haven’t settled on yet: we know it was highly exploitative when Leif got offered up as Stanczia and Imri’s dubiously-consensual dinner. And we know it’s legally possible to rent an indentured servant for sex, even without their uncoerced consent. It hasn’t come up in the strip whether that’s also happened to Leif or not. (Not that these would be relationships, but they sure would affect why he’s reluctant to have any.)
- So if I put that on the table, will it be a Buffy-style “the metaphor was covering your point just fine, and then you threw in non-metaphorical sexual assault and it made everything weird” situation?
- Or if I leave it off, is that a case of “hang on, this is supposed to be a slaveowning regime, don’t whitewash the awfulness of that by softpedaling any of the consequences”?