1- introduction of everyone in Kahm, Nina’s job and feelings about it, lack of a spirit in Kahm, and the guardians return. The importance of the talisman is discussed. I think when the guardian returns, we should have some black text boxes that are what the antagonist is thinking as he breaks into the valley.
2- aftermath of the return, revelation of the prophesy, and Nina being kicked out of her village with a vague duty. intro of the villain? Perhaps flashbacks to her training with gma and her learning the trickery, I think it should start with her mothers funeral. She finds out that her mother couldn’t have been saved by the spirit they prayed too, cause for the Kahm tribe, they don’t exist. Ends with Nina following a glowing sprite into a she bears territory and her being attacked, her powers flair, knocking her down (and out?). She manifests the power of some kind of quick reflex defense animal, dodging out of the way of the bear in the last panel.
3- she attempts in vain to defend herself. Her talisman is torn free. She is saved by Kennick. She is maybe afraid of him? should they fight? They walk for awhile. Maybe a flashback of more training. perhaps on her duties as leader in general, not just religious. she would be a representative of her people to others, so maybe some tutelage in that regard. explore their differences. He is on his way back from doing something (a secret?) and they encounter the scar. Arbormancer has never encountered the scar before, it is all new to him. They have a fight of some sort and scramble back to his village. It is in shambles and being on consumed by the scar. End.
4- the village elders want to cleanse the village and move on, or just leave people behind. They have no compassion for the afflicted (that’s part of their survivalist culture). Perhaps the flashback in this issue could be of Nina protecting an innocent at the village… an animal or a child from bullies or brigands. I really am shaping this first arc like LOST where there are flashbacks that echo with what is happening in the story. There should be a fight between Nina and the elders. they go to kill the sick ones and Nina attempts to interfere. they try to go through her, she gets hurt and she defensively goes into the avatar state. This can be other ppl’s first sight of her awesome spirit powers. everyone is shocked, awed, amazed, and stunned, including Nina. she’s all “what did I do?” does she have a memory of what she does? I feel more like she doesn’t realize she’s doing it and doesn’t see it until she learns to use it. They leave the sick and attempt to rebuild elsewhere. The heroes stay behind and try to fix/save the people. Nina thinks this could be her duty, so she bosses some people around and has them start taking care of each other. She and Kennick seek out the forest spirit to help them heal the afflicted. They encounter a desecrated forest spirit, a zombie tree.
5- flashback to what the villain has been doing? Ideas for this: what if this villain loses his body on the way in and can only inhabit corpses? He is left essentially a spirit.. Something he loathes… He is stuck jumping from creature to creature, looking for a more powerful vessel? We can see this process and how it leads to kennicks forest, and the scar, infection of the spirit. He could stumble into the grove of the spirit and be transferring his essence, the spirit appears and looks menacingly down on the antagonist in his rabbit body (or something). Cut to a full page spread of a battle between the heroes and the spirit. we see the villain in an animal body observe the battle begin, then it stalks away, muttering something. Another idea is that he is already flesh, with his own weakened body.
6- the spirit is solid and in the shape of a zombie tree. It is mobile and dangerous. It has been corrupted and the scar is spreading out before it. there is a cool fight, we see fun stuff from Kennick, some intuition fighting from the talisman (the guardian). Perhaps some flashbacks to Ninas interactions with priya. get to the nature of their relationship. tie it in to the fight thematically somehow. Our heroes are close to losing, the elders show up, Kennick begs them for aid, they refuse and vanish. The heroes pull a victory out of their butt. The spirit is restored, it recognizes something in Nina. Priya reveals herself. Then is kidnaped by the elders. End.