It’s truth vs. tricks in Episode 12 (Part 1)

Teaser image of Etgar ordering his speech balloon for Ep. 12-1

What is truth, and what is magical thinking? In Episode 12 (Part 1): “Spray and Pray,” our heroes start to explore this theme, and the answer is subtler than you might think.

Deli recovers from his wound and talks about being "reborn." Tiqwah dismisses Deli, who starts shooting water cannons with his Bavel magic.Ep. 12-1 Page 3. Etgar calls his speech balloon. The speech balloon destroys Deli's spells. Etgar boasts that he doesn't rely on magical thinking, but the truth.

Most fantasy universes have a system of superpowers or the supernatural, and “Milhamah: Fighting Words” is no exception.

Blessed truth, cursed deception

At the end of Episode 11, Deli speaks an Akkadian shoresh root (based on birth) to repair the hole in his face. And now he uses another root to fire water cannons.

In “Milhamah,” the Bavel Empire (or “macrostructure”) corrupts and twists languages in order to replace them with nonsense. Their motive is to assert control and manipulate reality for selfish, destructive ends.

Deli calls this “magic,” but Tiqwah calls it lies and manipulation. In terms of worldbuilding, she’s right. Bavel seeks to impose its will to power through its quest to destroy the Holy Tongue.

On the other hand, the Holy Tongue is associated with candor, accuracy, and “telling it like it is.” In this episode, Etgar sets his alfon to use the dalet-bet-resh (דבר) root. He sends out a roaring speech bubble to destroy Deli’s magic.

Under the Holy Tongue’s authority, our heroes use speech as a prophetic rebuke, speaking truth to power.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

One more thing: Etgar mentions the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. This provides the scientific explanation for why the “Milhamah” can use the shoresh roots to enhance their alphabet abilities.

As the link explains:

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory that an individual’s thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that individual speaks. The strong version of the hypothesis states that all human thoughts and actions are bound by the restraints of language, and is generally less accepted than the weaker version, which says that language only somewhat shapes our thinking and behavior.

Read more on the topic here. But basically, the “Milhamah” characters’ thoughts, words and outlook determine their reality and destiny. Those who prize truth and goodness turn their Holy Tongue alphabet powers into blessings. Likewise, characters who use language to enslave others perform magical curses.

And in that context, think of the curses that lurk in the background of our own real lives. What hells are often unleashed by the quick fix, the empty “something for nothing” promise, the slick corporate marketing pitch, or the focus group-tested political sound bite!

All of this only scratches the surface to how language shapes the “Milhamah” world. Now that we touched on truth, we’ll see how faith shapes the Holy Tongue Society in the next episode. Hope you’ll join us and keep reading!

The urn returns in Episode 11 (Pt. 2)

Etgar is stunned by what he hears behind him.

While the battle continues, the evil urn Deli startles our heroes from behind. The villain seems to be reformed … but not in a good way! Will Tiqwah and Etgar find what they’re looking for in the aural grid before it’s too late?

This is Part 2 to “Slaughter in the Water,” and you can see the earlier part here.

Things get technical behind the scenes in this episode, as it starts to explain how the “Milhamah” characters weaponize their alfons to make blessing attacks outside of their own natural ability. Gradually readers will learn about these things over the next few episodes, but I’ll give a preview here.

Basically, Tiqwah and Etgar connected the speech balloon and the foundation glyph to their alfons to make new letters appear in the aural grid.

The aural grid shows sound frequencies, and Tiqwah and Etgar are looking for ‘Ivrit ones to do new attacks. The evil Bavel Empire try to scramble these ‘Ivrit frequencies to make it harder for the heroes to do this. (Though in Bavel’s perspective, they believe they’re actually unscrambling their own language!)

Anyway, it’ll be up to our heroes to find the correct sequence of letters needed — a shoresh root — to code in an alfon attack, or a blessing. Will they do this next episode? Maybe…

Meanwhile, what is Deli doing?

Etgar shot the urn in Episode 9, but now the fiendish jar is back. Well, it used an Akkadian curse called walа̄du. Deli’s natural shoresh root is dalet-lamed-yod (דלי). He’s using a permuted power caused by switching the letters around, (ילד). This undergoes a consonantal shift, as in Akkadian the same Semitic root is spelled waw-lamed-dalet (ולד).

The pink seal beneath Deli contains real Semitic letters and words. The Akkadian for walа̄du in the center. The Paleo-Hebrew and Ugaritic letters for (ילד) are in the middle orbit, plus the six different root permutations in Aramaic-style Hebrew script. The outer ring has the alef-bet.

So as the comic says, Deli permuted or switched his powers around to heal himself through a rebirth. Of course, since he’s from Bavel, he does this through the power of trickery and evil. Next episode you’ll learn the difference between the Holy Tongue’s Society’s truth-guided blessings and Bavel’s manipulative curses, and why it matters.

A side note

Please take a moment to vote for Milhamah: Fighting Words” on the Top Webcomics site! The more votes we get, the more visible this comic becomes.

Also, if you haven’t signed up on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages, please take a moment to do so!