The Anti-Onyxia

February 8, 2009 at 5:01 am (Webcomics) ()

Regarding Order of the Stick‘s latest…the great debate, it would seem, is how justified the dragon is in her wrath and her plan. Before that, I want to talk about how she compares to World of Warcraft’s Onyxia.

As the title of this post might clue you in, she’s very much an anti-Onyxia. I don’t know how deliberate the reference is–it’s entirely possible Blizzard stole the black-body-purple-wings convention for black dragons from D&D; in fact, it’s even more likely. This doesn’t change the fact that the first time I saw that black-bodied-purple-winged black dragon momma I immediately thought of Onyxia, broodmother of the black dragonflight.

But she’s not Onyxia at all. First, she unnamed–doubtful that she has the same kind of power and position Onyxia has broodmother. She’s also a family dragon; references a mate (deceased) and her only child (also deceased) and has a motherly interest in her son’s mating prospects*. She cares very much for her single child. Compare to Onyxia–a named dragon in a position of great power, manipulative and cruel, with many legions of children that she uses as her foot soldiers and canon fodder. She is the matriarch of a clan she doesn’t care about at all; OotS-dragon is mother of a family that’s all she has left. She expresses emotions such as love and fidelity, neither of which are traits conventionally associated with “bad”. They are both cunning beasts, but cunning is not in of itself an evil trait either (though it is associated with it–as if do-gooders have to be blunt charge-first-ask-later types. *eyeroll*)

So, back to the moral dilemma at hand: to be sure, the dragon has devised a cruel revenge to inflict on Vaarsuvius. Is she justified in this or not? Was she right, or is she wrong?

The answer is that there doesn’t HAVE to be a right or wrong. Vaarsuvius and the adventurers killed her only child, memento of her mate–who met a similar fate. Both killed to satisfy the avarice of adventurers, which is even less noble than killing a dragon to stop it from, say, a fiery rampage. The adventurers were certainly not in the right. But does the dragon go too far with her revenge? She says she will not only kill Vaarsuvius’ children, but she will take their souls and disappear with them, presumably meaning they will be unable to ascend to heaven–trapping them for all eternity. Her revenge is cruel not only to Vaarsuvius, but to his children, who will presumably suffer as long as she keeps their souls with her. His children have not done anything to her–then again, the dragon didn’t do anything to Vaarsuvius & Co. either.

So we’ve established that neither side is right in this situation. The question remains then, who is more justified? Who, relatively speaking, is the least at fault? The dragon seeks revenge, and we call that wrong, but what else should she do to avenge the death of her only child? It’s very hard to fault her for demanding justice for her child’s death; the only thing she can be faulted for is the magnitude of her (over?)reaction. We want to say she shouldn’t seek justice on her own, but if she doesn’t, who will? It isn’t as if there’s a joint committee of adventurers and dragons to arbitrate disputes over acts of gross cruelty between said parties. If the dragon doesn’t take matters into her own hand, no one will. If she’d been a hero–if this was the othe way around–somehow I don’t think anyone would hesitate to support her actions in intent, if not in execution.

In conclusion: I can only judge that she is wrong in the magnitude of her revenge, because it forces unrelated and innocent parties to suffer for Vaarsuvius’ wrong (though it is admittedly rather ingenius and is, (un?)fortunately, not your standard fiery rampage). I can’t say the dragon is unjustified in wanting revenge, and I couldn’t say how else she is supposed to find justice, because as far as we’ve seen so far, there will be no justice save the justice she makes herself. Which doesn’t mean her revenge should be condoned…but her motives can be understood and emphasized with, at least.

Morality is hard.

* I like her line about being open-minded. You can’t even call her a bad mother, can you? Not when it comes to her own.

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