Looking For Thoughts – Tah’Vraay
Join longtime LFG fan and current LFG writer Ryan Costello as he looks at an element of Looking For Group lore, trivia, or development, and shares insight into why he appreciates it. This week, he welcomes the best non-aligned sea captain in the realm, Tah’Vraay!
Last week’s page 1701 kicked off LFG issue 62. We marked the occasion with the return of a couple of fan favourite characters, Captain Tah’Vraay and the Elder Dragon. Reader John Belrose commented that they didn’t expect to see Tah’Vraay return, and that this both surprised and pleased them. And honestly, Tah’Vraay wasn’t in my original plans when I took over the comment. However, she came up multiple times in the comments. This got me thinking of ways to bring her back.
Which isn’t to say I dislike Tah’Vraay. I just wanted to space out the frequency I bring back established characters during my run. But the more I thought about Tah’Vraay’s place in the story, and how she keeps coming back, I realized how important a cog she is in the LFG machine.
Captain Tah’Vraay joined the cast in page 46, one of those early oversized LFG pages that later messed up print collections. Layout logistics aside, this is a great page. A racist gets stabbed, Lar populated the background with a lot of fun new creature types, and Tah’Vraay establishes herself as an intriguing but duplicitous new ally.
Even though I don’t like that the page is extra big, I’m glad Sohmer and Lar didn’t cut out one of my favourite details to fit the normal page size. Tah’Vraay and Krunch haggling over the price, including that they have to buy provisions from her, adds a nice touch of realism. I believe that the familiar makes fantasy relatable, and this example captures that perfectly.
Not everything about her early adventures with the group aged as well. Richard explaining the tension between Benny and Tah’Vraay to Cale as “women be crazy” isn’t great (unlike the kittens not fighting during his demonstration). But I love how Tah’Vraay charges the group for the mast they broke defending her ship. I’m glad it didn’t devolve into a running gag about her being cheap. It establishes the difference between a freelancer and a member of the group.
Playing Both Sides
Tah’Vraay works with the group often, but not exclusively. Case in point, the next time we see her, she tries to sell Cale out to Aelloon. She does this but killing Legion soldiers to get his attention, of course, because she’s only loyal to herself and her crew. This three page interlude may seem like a diversion from the main plot, but it’s extremely important. It establishes that Aelloon’s a greater threat than we realized, shows that he’s past working with mercenaries, and pushes one more independent faction toward the united North that eventually takes back Legara.
About 60 pages later, Cale comes across Tah’Vraay’s tomb. This is bad, because the Matron sent Cale to retrieve her. Psyche! It was a glamour! She’s alive, and Cale was actually sent to get the army of males that built a city beneath their prison.
We get our first hint that Tah’Vraay may be magical. She knows that Richard’s essence piggybacked onto Cale’s body. Her eye glimmers as she gives Cale’s question a sarcastic answer. We still don’t know what happened to her eye, only than seeing two natural eyes in her NPC storyline.
Whenever I go through the archives, I’m impressed by the long term storytelling Sohmer weaved in the first few hundred pages. Tah’Vraay shows up every 80 pages or show, stays for a plot-heavy spell, then disappears. She doesn’t need reintroduction because she has such a specific look, name, vibe, and role in the world. We get two solid pages of exposition before getting back to the action. I worry when I write a page with half the dialog on a page like these. And yet, it flowed so smoothly.
Here we are, 285 pages into the comic, 239 pages after Tah’Vraay’s introduction, and 117 pages after the introduction of The Matron, we get our first scene between Tah’Vraay and her mother.
It’s more exposition, with another hint that Tah’Vraay is magical, even if she has a “weak grasp of magic”. After a snarky but deep “Your exile is over… Enjoy your new prison,” Tah’Vraay fills a new role for her: Background character. As the group negotiates with The Matron and they dispute with Richard over his bunny, Tah’Vraay stays back in silence.
After over 200 pages away, Tah’Vraay returns again. Not only does she ferry Benny to her next adventure, for the first time she joins her on it. Has she finally decided to blaze a trail as a heroish adventurer? No. She has a secret. She banged Benny’s adopted father! Also, she’s Benny’s biological mother! Although Tah’Vraay doesn’t actually say so, Benny figures it out.
From there, Tah’Vraay ventures with Benny to the Ice Vault of Fic and on her journey of self discovery, saved Cale from The Knights Of The Way, ferried them back to Kethenecia. However, she doesn’t have as significant an impact on the plot. She does fly a boat for the first time, though. And drove it through the mountains.
Her last appearance, and the last mention of her relation to Benny, came 400 pages later, when she saluted Benny and Cale from The Old Cow.
The Undiscovered Tah’Vraay
What does the future hold for our favourite ship captain? She recently returned with a new first mate and a new mission. I can say that I look forward to exploring her relationship with Benny, and show what someone adjusting nicely to the merged worlds looks like. After all, as a good sea captain, Tah’Vraay goes with the flow.