Silly Nashua, cats don’t wash dishes.
In the culture of Tamuran and Atriand, shaking hands at the wrist indicates a somewhat higher level of trust than a regular handshake. By making the gesture here, Ranon is basically saying, “Sorry I was weirded out by you yesterday, I guess you’re not so bad after all” (though you can’t really tell that Ranon initiated the gesture from that one panel). Just a side detail.
As a note, I’ve uploaded revised versions of a few of the older comic pages – mostly with corrections like word choices being edited for clarity or flow, or glaring mistakes being fixed in the artwork. It doesn’t really affect the story (though you may want to read the revised version of this page and the edit note in the update post to refine your perception of Tu Naul and their lifespans, since I can’t remember if we’ve addressed the point anywhere else before) – it’s just a heads-up in case you’re reading through and wonder why a page is slightly different from what you remembered.
And finally, we wanted to address some concerns that were expressed over the last page of chapter 9. Hopefully the comic will do that on its own over time, but the pace of webcomics is painfully slow, and it takes a long time for events to play out and fully explain themselves. Thus: no, we do not condone the violation of other people’s personal space when they are sleeping (or any other time). Nor do we condone any of the other less-than-nice things the protagonists have done (like eating palace guards). Characters are human (or elves, or what have you) – sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they do things they shouldn’t, or do things that are downright stupid. There are always reasons, whether those be personal flaws, being pushed to their limits, differing cultural views on morality, or just plain making a bad decision. A lot of the time these things come back to bite them (not at the hands of judgmental omnipotent Writers, but due to other characters’ reactions, or the events that come about as a result of their actions and decisions), though sometimes it takes a while for the consequences to come about, or become apparent. We welcome you to disagree with the characters, or to dislike them for their actions. Our intention here is to tell these (flawed) characters’ stories, and to do it honestly – and hopefully weave a compelling, engaging tale. We don’t mean to seriously offend anyone, and we would not want to approach truly sensitive subject matter without due consideration and respect – though everyone has their own perspective and sensitivities, and we can only judge through the lens of our own. The story WILL get into fairly dark territory at some points, though nowhere near the level of, say, A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. That’s why we make a note of the ‘older teen’ rating in the sidebar, and that’s why the comic started out with murder plots and blood rituals rather than a lost elf and wisecracking bird wandering around Namridia’s tavern district.
To add some context in Ranon’s defense, Kip has been a lemur since before he was born (and before his father was born, for that matter) – see this page, since it’s been a while. He’s only known her as a person, to get to know her and try to make friends with her in that context, for a few months. When she was serving as Cathrine’s companion, one part of her job was most likely to play with, entertain, and comfort the court children when they had to visit the doctor – and it’s doubtful that any of them realized or understood that they were interacting with a “person” rather than a talking, magical creature; most people don’t when interacting with bound Morphyx. Yes, Ranon may have a bit of a crush on her, but that’s only since she changed back into a pretty young woman, and it’s only in that context. The point of the scene was that the events of the last few days and all their implications are finally crashing in on Ranon, he can’t confide in anyone (except maybe for the one person who knows who he is, and she hasn’t been very sympathetic thus far), and at that moment he’s so desperate for a little comfort that he’s willing to overlook the fact that this is actually a cat-shaped person rather than a real cat. He had no untoward intentions, thoughts, or feelings toward her, we can assure you. Was picking her up without consent a good or right thing to do? Not really, no. Was it excusable within the context? That’s for the characters to judge more so than the writers (though, again, you are welcome to judge his actions however you like).
We don’t mean to seem like we’re ranting or telling you how to read the comic. I (and Chezhnian) just wanted to share some thoughts on characters and writing, and say that just because a character falls into the category of “protagonist,” that doesn’t mean that we expect you to see their actions as good. Hopefully, though, if we’re doing our job right, through the picture we’re painting you’ll eventually be able to see them as people. :)