All those story arcs in and I never really explained anything, particularly why Crosis was such an oddity.
Well, frankly, it's because Crosis is a planar traveler himself. He's human. The main hint I put into the artwork is his bare feet: ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/…
Crosis is from another mortal plane, where the main species is human and magic use is much, much more common. Crosis attended a major school and on his world, he's good, but not great. His main job was working as a research assistant to high-level sorcerers. He was drawing a gate spell to travel and was knocked into it with the circle only semi-complete. As a result, the gate spell dumped him on Atiel's world. The locals were kind to him, and since he's an illusionist, he was able to put together a disguise. That's why he does not like being touched: he's not transformed, he's wearing a very, very complicated and magic-expensive illusion spell. It is tactile, but he's never been certain how well it'll hold up to a lot of touch, so he avoids contact.
Lyre is also from Crosis' world, and believe it or not, he's actually the driver of the plot. When Crosis got dumped somewhere alien, he prayed, and Lyre answered. Lyre quickly decided that Crosis' situation could answer the problems of Lyre's people, and has been using Crosis toward that goal.
Lyre is a Daemon Lord. Daemon Lords are the demigods that rule the underworld, created by the pantheon of Gods from Crosis' world. They were never supposed to deify, but the gods made one significant mistake: they told the mortals that the Daemon Lords existed, thus providing them with belief and making them more powerful. It should be noted that Daemon Lords aren't evil, really, just working their purpose, trying to rehabilitate souls that violate the covenants of the gods they chose to follow. To that end the Daemon Lords aren't a big fan of the system, as all they're doing is delaying the inevitable return to the Wheel of Reincarnation, but they're not in a position to contest what the Gods set up, because they're all only Demi status.. and the Gods are making sure they stay that way by killing any large following of followers any of them gain.
Lyre's the most rebellious of the group. Originally created to be the Ferryman, he defied his original purpose, gave it to a mortal soul and walked off the job. It was centuries later that he was found by the gods, but cunning and clever he engineered a situation so instead of flat out killing him, they invited him back as a full Daemon Lord. He accepted, and has been looking for a way to 'fix' the situation ever since.
So here's Crosis, a Daemon Caller, a respectful follower, on a world with a chaotic mismanaged underworld and no gods to interfere.
Crosis just wants to go home, but lacks the true coordinates of his home, so he needs Lyre's help.
Lyre wants to evacuate his people to the world Crosis ended up on. Exodus of daemon lords and true followers.
All of this goes down before Atiel arrives at Crosis' tower, so before the comic even starts. It was eventually going to be explained, in a series of reveals, including one about Crosis' true nature.
Atiel is important because she is incredibly powerful. Crosis has the knowledge, he can write a spell to gate two underworlds together for Lyre's Exodus, but he's not powerful enough. Atiel is.
Nicholas is also important. Nicholas wasn't always a priest in training. He was a knight in training, originally, but he's at heart a pacifist and defensively committing an act of violence nearly broke him, and his faith. That's why he's on retreat at that church in town, putting him in a position to help Atiel and Crosis and accompany them. Nicholas is a lover, not a fighter... and his resonant daemon is a succubus, a character I had designed but never got to use. ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/…
Iris the Succubus is a Rift, or Void, Daemon. She lives in and navigates the spaces between planes. Nicholas is a soldier who killed: He has the ability to request a boon from the local god of death, Zave. ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/… ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/…
So Lyre's plan is coming together. He has a person who can write and perform the spell, Crosis. Someone who has the coordinates and map to fit into the spell, Nicholas. And someone who is powerful enough to push the spell to completion, Atiel.
As this starts being discussed, winter has set on the tower, prohibiting any travel to find an appropriate mana well to cast this spell at. It's a huge, complicated spell after all, it needs the right site. So the tower bunks down for the winter, and two lost travelers come seeking shelter. These travelers are Diana ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/… , and Maram ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/…
Diana is a courtesan, and Maram her partner in crime, if you will. Diana is hired by wealthy men to entertain in various ways, and Maram is her assistant, basically a professional butler. They're both very good at what they do, and were caught by a heavy winter storm. They would have likely frozen to death if they hadn't seen the bright lights from Crosis' tower, so they seek shelter there, for themselves and their horses. Neither of them could have guessed what they were stepping into, but they have little choice but to stay.
Crosis, being Crosis, is standoffish and avoids his guests typically, then Diana starts borrowing books from him to stave off the winter boredom. He's surprised at first, and loans her a book from his world that he'd previously magically translated to the local language so Atiel could read it. The book, called Starfell, is a very famous legend from where he’s from because it’s almost entirely morally ambiguous. There’s no clear good or bad guys.
Not only that it does it in an entirely underhanded way, by setting itself up as a typical kidnapped princess hero saves her story then perverting all the perceived intentions halfway through. Diana’s caught entirely off guard by this and begins a huge debate with Crosis after she’s done with the book. Crosis rises to the challenge and they spend several hours arguing about the morality of the characters and the story in general. Afterwards, he loans her another book on her request and starts a pattern.
Crosis is distressed when he figures out he likes her, more than usual. Being a planar traveler he’s generally not attracted to the women of the world he’s on, and he’s far from a social creature. Still, he mans up enough before she leaves to tell her the truth, revealing his true form and telling her how he feels. He also tells her that he’s very aware she’s higher class than what he’ll ever be and that she deserves a better life than he can give her. So he won’t ask her to stay, or come back, but he will ask her to remember him, fondly. He also gives her a necklace made from a tear of Arabeth, a magic-created crystal that she won’t be able to get anywhere else.
Diana and Maram leave, continuing to travel to their ultimate destination, a small coastal town and a wealthy low-level lord there. This leaves the residents of the tower able to further discuss Lyre’s Exodus and how they intend to go about it. Crosis’ main concern being that when he leaves, the medical support for the community is gone.
His worries are answered in the form of Tobias Avery ringshadow.deviantart.com/art/… Tobias turns up on Crosis’ doorstep, an imp on his shoulders and looking like about ten miles of bad road. It turns out, Tobias is something rather unusual for Atiel’s world in that he’s a sorcerer in the making. Not only that, he’s a necromancer, which gives him the ability to tell when people are going to die. Instead of seeing Tobias’ powers as just signifying death, Crosis sees the life in them and gives him crash courses in medicine and healing, which Tobias takes to rapidly, his natural abilities able to help him perceive the cause of illness and injury.
And so the tower is left in Tobias’ capable hands, and the group leaves, moving for the coastline and then north, where Nicholas remembers passing a strange geological formation that might herald a very large mana well.
Diana, meanwhile, has been unwittingly drug into this, tied to Crosis by the tear of Arabeth. Their perception of each other is limited to shadowy dreams, but it’s enough for him to bid her goodbye because he doesn’t figure he’ll survive the spell. Not one to take that as an ending, she decides to track him down, the lord she’s working for, Lord Byron, decides that his “old ass” can hold up to one more adventure. So he organizes wagons and happily follows his courtesan’s visions, because it’s an excuse to travel.
Crosis, Nicholas and Atiel find the mana well, a carved stone circle surrounded by broken spires and ruined land. They sweep it clean and look at the carvings, and Crosis realizes this is a relic, a leftover of some past people or religion. It’s also perfect, and they set up the spell.
The spell, a massive gate that crosses two planes over in two places, works. It also draws the immediate attention of the local gods, who don’t know what’s happening but quickly decide they need to put a stop to this immediately. They arrive only to be stared down by the Black Knight, a Godless, a God Killer. It takes several local gods and goddesses teaming up to put the Black Knight down for good, and as he dies, he consigns all the power and belief he never used to protect Atiel.
This seals the mana well from the gods. The spell completes.
Crosis wakes up slowly, in a lush field, and the first thing he sees is Diana.
The epilogue takes place in Lord Byron’s city. His huge old house, long unused, has become the first magic school on Atiel’s world. Crosis is headmastering, and has the somewhat daunting task of putting together an educational facility with next to no local knowledge base. Nicholas and Atiel both instruct at the school. Iris the succubus stays with Nicholas, and Atiel is powerless, the Knight dead.
She’s outside when a voice she doesn’t recognize asks her if this is a school. She replies that yes, it is, and turns to see the Knight, healed and out of armor, holding the reins to a horse. He’s mortal, having sacrificed everything he never wanted in the first place to protect her. Now that he has a voice, he’s able to tell her that his name is Simon.
Crosis is watching this from a window. The last quote of the comic, in his font, was going to be “There is no such thing as a happy ending, because nothing ever actually ends. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you find the satisfactory end of a chapter.”