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Literature / The Dreams of Lonely Stars

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The Dreams Of Lonely Stars is a supernatural-horror web novella by Lightysnake, an entry in The Kindness of Devils and a prequel to the main series set in 1925. It can be read here.

Set in 1925, Hardestadt Delac is living a comfortable life in Atlantic City, when an old flame named Maggie Isla shows up on his doorstep, hunted by a mysterious cult. Terrified, Maggie begs Hardestadt for help which he willingly grants, encountering a mysterious cult in service to an ancient terror. Hardestadt is forced to deal with world-shaking consequences as the truth about Maggie is revealed.

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The work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A Father to His Men: Nero is paternal and warm with his fellow cultists.
  • Affably Evil: Nero is quite genteel and pleasant, with none of it remotely faked. Jonathan Marsh, headman of Innsmouth is also reserved and pleasant, even if he's an evil fish man.
  • Anti-Villain: Nero. While his plans may be globally catastrophic, he still cared for his deceased wife and daughter, and is still haunted by their deaths.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Hardestadt and Grete fight back to back in full sync at one point.
  • Berserk Button: The one thing that seems to genuinely make Nero lose his cool is insinuating you can come up with a better answer to him in a few days when he's been struggling with what he's been doing for decades.
  • Big Bad: Thomas Nero, leader of the cultists, is the main villain of the story and even Cthulhu is unable to act without his plotting.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved and Cthulhu is left bound in R'yleh, but Maggie, knowing he won't ever stop trying to get into her mind and will only be a matter of time until he succeeds, seals herself away to dream forever, separating eternally from Hardestadt... and the entire thing is revealed to have gone exactly as Nyarlathotep desired...
  • But Now I Must Go: Maggie leaves earth forever at the end to prevent Cthulhu from entering her head and using her as his gateway into earth.
  • The Chessmaster: Nero runs rings around others, being one of the most capable and intelligent villains in the series thus far.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Cthylla's true form is a red-skinned humanoid with wings. She's still beautiful, though this can easily be chalked up to personal preference.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: It's a Foregone Conclusion, but Hardestadt bids Maggie a last farewell at the end, with her promising to dream of him forever.
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  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Maggie seals off her father again, telling him to 'get lost.'
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Twofold!
    • This is what Maggie's mother Ida Redmont Isla did, having the idea to mother a mortal child of the One himself.
    • Hardestadt and Maggie's romance becomes this almost literally when it is revealed she's Cthylla, daughter of Cthulhu.
  • The Dragon: Taylor Hapten is the second in command of Nero's cult. Except the end reveals he's really Nyarlathotep who implanted false memories into the cultists' minds to make them think he was always present when he really wasn't. It turns out the entire plot was a con on his part.
  • The Dreaded: It becomes apparently Hardestadt is this to the bad guys, with all of Innsmouth afraid to take him on.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Nero is evil by virtue of leading a world ending cult, and he's remarkably capable with sorcery.
  • Famed In-Story: All those stories about Hardestadt are well known in the supernatural community.
  • Fish People: Innsmouth is full of them.
  • For the Evulz: A lot of what Nyarlathotep did in the past was just to "let the whole world burn."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: While Nero and his actions drive the plot, the force behind him is Cthulhu himself. Though the final sequence reveals Nyarlathotep was involved from the get go.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: A lot of the citizens of Innsmouth are crossbred with Deep Ones. Maggie is half-human, half Great Old One.
  • Nobody Over Fifty Is Gay: Averted. Albert Harrington and Frank Eagles are in their sixties, but are clearly a committed couple who helped raise Maggie together.
  • Papa Wolf: Nero would have once done anything to protect his child. Cthulhu is quite defensive over Maggie...but being a Great Old One, love is far beyond him as a concept.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. It's just as casually racist as can expected, even if homosexuality is given more acceptance in urban areas, given it was the 20s.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Jonathan Marsh may be an evil fishman who holds a serious grudge against Hardestadt, but he knows better than to waste lives against him until he actually has the numbers and lets him go after Nero's cult without further incident.
  • Red Right Hand: Taylor Hapten, second in command of the cult, has a port-wine stain birthmark over his right hand. Given his true identity, this seems to be him amusing himself immensely.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Quite a bit that foreshadows Taylor Hapten is Nyarlathotep. Some hints include his very first appearance where his associates "didn't recognize him for a second." This is because they literally have no clue who he is until he implants false memories of him in their heads. He also stealthily calls Hardestadt "Daemon" by mockingly mangling Maggie's nickname for him into "Day-Man."
  • The Roaring '20s: When the story takes place.
  • Shout-Out: As per usual.
    • In flashbacks, Nyarlathotep presides over a masque in an outfit very similar to that of Hamartia in the music video of the song 'Daze' by Poets Of the Fall
    • The final sequence in the asylum rather mirrors the final scene of the second Diablo game.
    • Several sequences are a nod the The City of Never and The Never Mythos.
    • The final line of the story is a clear shout out to The Masque of the Red Death.
    • Taylor references himself as once having been a surgeon named 'Noah T,' a shoutout to webnovel To Welcome Oblivion by Ravok, with Noah T. Trepaly who is actually Nyarlathotep.
    • Nyarlathotep using magic to visually rearrange his alias into his real name is a nod to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Straight Gay: Frank Eagles and Albert Harrington are clearly a gay couple, but give no outward indication of sexuality one way or the other. Grete also rarely advertises her sexuality, but is an out lesbian, particularly in the more tolerant 1920s.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Nero keeps his daughter's music box the present he ever gave her, as a sad memento of her.
  • Villain Respect: Nero tells Hardestadt on a personal level he has nothing but respect for him and what he has achieved.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nero wants to destroy the world because to him, he is saving everyone on it.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Nero wouldn't...but he just needs the heroes to think he would.
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