Only a Lonely Heart is a supernatural-horror short story by Lightysnake, an entry in The Kindness of Devils and a prequel to the main series set the 1960s, taking place days after None Too Holy. It can be read here.
Still reeling from the loss of someone he loved, Hardestadt Delac is asked by Loren Prospero to see to a seemingly normal investigation, only to be drawn into the clutches of a horrific being with sinister intentions, who may yet reveal several secrets Hardestadt yearns for...
The work contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ambiguous Situation: Loads. What happened to Eliza, given she's disappeared by the 1960s but alive and well from 2001 onward? What did Y'golonac mean when implying Hardestadt had been raped before? The Wolves of War puts most of these questions to rest.
- Arc Words: "Never is forever," as with previous installments, this time meant to refer to Y'golonac's belief in Defiled Forever.
- Armor-Piercing Question: When Hardestadt rejects the Defiler's hold on him as he's never been raped, the Defiler's reaction? "Oh, are you quite certain of that?"
- Big Bad: The villain of this one is the horrific 'Defiler' of the Severn Valley Mythos by Ramsey Campbell, Y'golonac.
- Bittersweet Ending: The single most charitable interpretation of the ending. Monica is saved and possibly on the road to recovery, Y'golonac's summoning is prevented, and Prospero reaffirms his close friendship with Hardestadt. On the other hand, Y'golonac implies Hardestadt has been raped in the past, something he cannot remember or even fathom, Y'golonac has defiled and slaughtered tons of people in its brief time in a host, Hardestadt has lost Eliza and is no closer to finding her or even knowing what happened to her and at the end? He is absolutely emotionally shattered and cannot bring himself to admit that what he does is worth it this time.
- Darker and Edgier: Possibly the bleakest Kindness of Devils yet, with overarching themes of loss, mourning, and the Big Bad being possibly one of the most twisted Great Old Ones conceived: Y'golonac, of the Severn Valley mythos, who here is essentially presented as the sadistic embodiment of rape and defilement. The story ends on an almost complete downer, too, with Eliza nowhere to be seen, the Defiler entirely untouched by the end and passing along a dark implication Hardestadt may have been unknowingly raped in the past.
- The Chain of Harm: The Defiler steadfastly believes that "the violated become the violators" — and all of them perpetually belong to him for this reason.
- Defiled Forever: This is what the Defiler believes. Once raped, it believes you belong to it forever. Hardestadt ultimately refutes this savagely, believing people are much stronger and cannot be defined by this, recalling Eliza and how she overcame her own trauma for his own strength.
- Karma Houdini: As a Great Old One, the Defiler is beyond punishment. While thwarted in is plans, its avatar is destroyed and it simply returns to its plane, completely unfazed and largely triumphant.
- The Lost Lenore: Hardestadt is revealed to have had a genuine relationship with Eliza Cortly of the Never Mythos that ended nearly twenty years ago under unknown circumstances. He has no idea what happened to her, misses her horribly and still yearns for her even decades later.
- Post-Rape Taunt: Y'golonac considers every violation to belong to it. It mocks Hardestadt as having 'known' Eliza thanks to her marital rape at the hands of her husband Stefano, gleefully saying Eliza was his 'favorite' Seer. It also gives a vicious one regarding Hardestadt himself, questioning his claim to have never been violated.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Y'golonac invokes this, as one of the most sickening and depraved of the Great Old Ones. Its MO, being horrific violation, is one of the most monstrous in the Teraverse.
- Resignations Not Accepted: The Defiler, like most of the dark gods Coyte served, was not happy about him leaving his service, and expresses disappointment he could not punish Coyte himself.
- Sequel Hook: The story closes with Hardestadt meeting an Irishwoman heavily, heavily implied to be Aisling Vallee...and Y'golonac is still out there.
- Serial Rapist: The Defiler, Y'golonac, is the most prolific rapist in all existence and wants to "know and love" everyone.
- Ultimate Evil: The Defiler is never truly seen, only acting through the avatar it turns one of its possessed victims into. Not even its true name is ever fully spoken — which makes sense, given Y'golonac's name alone is enough to summon it in the original Severn Valley mythos.
- Wham Line: One of the most disturbing and shocking in all of the Neverkind Saga. Hardestadt tells Y'golonac it's never known him. He's never raped anyone and he especially hasn't ever been violated.