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Nightmare Fuel / The Order of the Stick

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Don't let the simple art-style fool you. The Order of the Stick has many a terrifying moment.

Moment Subpages are Spoilers Off. You Have Been Warned.

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    Start of Darkness 
  • On the VERY FIRST PAGE, we see Xykon as a little boy crying over his dead dog, and accidentally bringing it back to life with his necromancy. It then proceeds to kill a bird and visibly eat its brains. That's just the first page. Even worse: Five-year-old Xykon's reaction is gleeful excitement and a desire to find it some more brains.
  • A couple of pages later, Xykon's a teenager. He snuffs out a man's life on a impulse and just because he was condescending about Xykon due to the teen's being a sorcerer. Then he takes his first two zombies, ready to begin a career in evil... which he starts by gleefully watching as they eat his parents alive.
  • The massacre of Recloak's village at the hands of The Sapphire Guard. While they're depicted as self-righteous honorable to a fault in the main series, here they are nothing short of zealous xenophobic murderers. The goblins weren't attacking anyone, their village was miles from the Azurites' homeland. They attacked them solely because of their Alignment. While the bearer of the Crimson Mantle was a threat, they did not stop with him. Men, women, and children are all slaughtered without hesitation. While the Paladins congratulate themselves for purging evil from the world.
    • It is revealed that this insanity was what led to Miko Miyazaki becoming as messed up as she did. Unlike Hinjo who entered during the reformation under O-Chul's guidance, Miko was indoctrinated with the same one-dimensional view of justice as the rest.
  • Xykon's transformation into a lich causes his face skin to crack and decay until he eventually rips off his flesh on panel. Worse yet, his flesh decayed so much that he ripped it off like styrofoam.
  • Xykon's reaction when he discovers that the undead can't taste anything. He coldly kills the waitress, nearly strangles Right-Eye to death, dismisses Redcloak's attempt to restrain him, and enslaves the goblin brothers on pain of death. Redcloak notes that at this point, they have to work with him...if they don't, they're working against him.
  • At one point, Right-Eye manages to escape Xykon, starting a new life in a small village. When Redcloak finds him, Right-Eye almost convinces him to give up his whole crusade and settle down...only to find Xykon waiting for them when they return home. With an implied death threat to Right-Eye's wife and children, Xykon burns the village to the ground and enslaves the inhabitants, instantly ruining the last change for peace and happiness they would ever get. Made worse in that Right-Eye's wife and children die soon after anyway for Xykon's plans, with Xykon gleefully watching the carnage.
  • Xykon's plan to lure Dorukan out of his castle by having his zombies eat Lirian's undead corpse. While her soul watches, causing the image to be burned into her consciousness for eternity. Thankfully, things turn out relatively for the better.
    Xykon: I mean, that's just not the sort of thing you're EVER gonna forget seeing, especially when your spirit is trapped with nothing else to think about... Could drive a soul crazy.
  • If the Dark One and Redcloak are telling the truth, the state of the world and the existence of "monster-races". "Your life holds no value and you can be killed on a whim. That is how it's supposed to be and how the Gods made you."
    • It turns out what they say is false, knowingly or unknowingly. But it can be just as terrifying to know the god that created you can abandon you and no one else will pick up the slack.
  • Similarly to the Implosion spell he casts much later, Redcloak uses a not-specifically-named Smite spell on a paladin. The art style does little to mask the horrific effect: a stick figure's head shatters like glass.

    Dungeon Crawlin' Fools 
  • A small one, but the second-to-last panel of strip 40. Poor villagers
  • One of the bonus strips from the book has the Order looking for Xykon's throne room. They keep opening doors marked "Xykon's Throne Room", with results varying from snakes jumping out and arrows firing. However, one of the fake doors was actually animated, grew arms and legs and started attacking Haley. Another one contained something so terrible that Belkar immediately closed it. The only thing seen of it are the dozens of arms and hands trying to claw their way out of it.

    No Cure for the Paladin Blues 
  • The Snarl unmade a world and killed a pantheon of gods in the first twenty-seven minutes of its life. If it kills you, that's it — you can't even get resurrected. It exists to kill. And it's right below the feet of everyone on the planet, four of its five seals are broken with almost no way to fix them, and there is a very good chance that it will get released and destroy everything if the heroes lose — as in, it's practically guaranteed.

    War and XPs 
  • Xykon killing a room full of paladins. How? By driving most of them insane so that they all slaughter each other. The last one standing finally breaks free of the spell and promptly commits suicide over what she has done.

    Don't Split the Party 
  • The rift above Azure City was the smallest (according to the Giant, the size of a raisin-ish). If it's grown that much in a few months' time, what's happened to the other, larger, rifts?
  • During the Cliffport storyline, once Belkar has his Mark of Justice removed he returns to his full murderous potential, as the Thieves' Guild discovers first-hand.
  • One strip later, the end of Old Blind Pete.
  • Vaarsuvius casually murders Kubota for absolutely no other reason than Elan had him tied up and he was talking about having a trial. That's it. Sure, Kubota was a Smug Snake Evil Aristocrat, but V had precisely zero knowledge of that. Elan rightfully has a Freak Out over how disturbingly nonchalant V is about the whole thing.
    • What's worse is that Vaarsuvius then gets annoyed with Elan's horror, and gives an Implied Death Threat if he keeps distracting them from their research. It's undercut by Elan's continual inability to grasp what V means, but the fact of the matter is that Vaarsuvius, to all appearances, is entirely and genuinely willing to murder one of their True Companions because they find him annoying. The Sanity Slippage is very real, and very frightening.
  • Vaarsuvius entering into a triple Soul Splice to save their family, allowing themself to be bound with the souls of an insane archmage, an epic-level necromancer, and a conjurer who used to plane-shift from vulnerable world to vulnerable world, conquering as he went.
  • From #661 and #662: seeing Xykon become truly angry. Absolutely terrifying; even with the limits of the comic's art style, you can tell he's PISSED. And then you realise he could've done that all along.

    Blood Runs in the Family 
  • In-Universe, the infamous "ELAN" scene.
  • The Implosion strip was enough for several GITP forum-goers to question the PG-13 rating of the comic.
    • That rating was questionable a while before that, when Mr Scruffy disemboweled a commoner.
  • Tsukiko is a cute girl, who loves her undead minions like they're her children... But that couldn't last. When she says to Redcloak that she's going to reveal his big secret, Redcloak turns her undead creatures against her (the effect we saw him use when entering his room that looked like he was preparing his spells? Command Undead). He then orders said creatures to drain her (levels and HitPoints) to death, and to devour her corpse, which they do (offpanel thankfully, but it's quite unsettling). What we do see is pretty creepy in its own right: Redcloak calmly watching, as Tsukiko begs for her wights to let her go, saying she loves them and finally showing she at least realizes (if not understand) that they didn't love her back.
    crunch. crunch crunch crunch~~
    • The fact that in the same scene Redcloak also orders the wights to eat each other, in order of creation, then the last one set itself on fire (in the fireplace, please) mixes a particularly gruesome level of organized, remorseless evil with a dose of And I Must Scream.
    • One other bit of horror: One of the undead apologizes to her when they turn on her. If they were as completely devoid of any love of their creator, they wouldn't have said a word. Instead, with that one sentence, it spells out that at least on some level, they had affection for her on some level or at least a shred of loyalty to her. It's just that there's no way that low-challenge rating minions like them can resist the command of a high-level cleric's Command Undead spell.
  • The last panel of page 841, which shows that the Draketooth family — who have been guarding one of the Gates sealing away the Snarl — are all dead. And it gets worse. The last panel of page 842 reveals that Vaarsuvius killed them via Familicide... and the very next strip, it's revealed the effects were even more far-reaching than that. V is rightly horrified by the implications.
  • The revelation of Malack's true nature here, specifically the last panel, in which he attempts to "turn" Belkar- because Malack is a lizard vampire and Belkar has an overly large head/no visible neck, the turning involves messily biting down on Belkar's head! It doesn't help that Belkar is completely immobilized at the time by Malack's spell. And during the whole page, he's completely calm and thoughtful throughout — which just makes it worse.
  • Malack's plans for the Empire after his companions bite the dust: He plans to sacrifice 1000 citizens to his god on a daily basis. His idea of using special chambers to make the process more orderly isn't exactly pleasant either. And while he's explaining this, he's still as calm and thoughtful as ever.
  • Malack killing Durkon by draining all of his blood. And because that wasn't enough, he then had to go and turn him into a fellow vampire.
  • While the Order waits behind an illusion so they won't be discovered, knowing they could be at any moment and making sure to keep quiet and things are very tense, a little figure appears to Haley, who looks horrified. The you realize it's a magical message... and now Haley knows the Resistance has fallen.
    • Speaking of the Resistance falling... that is the scene where the aforementioned Implosion is brought out against some of its members. But even before any spells were visibly cast, there was the shocker of half the Resistance already being slain, with their corpses hung by their feet around the walls of the chamber.
  • Strip #900. Before we even see the goblin himself, Redcloak hits Roy with a serious blast.
    • Redcloak is just getting scarier and scarier. After several hundred pages of playing civil leader in Gobbotopia, Redcloak has gotten dangerous with the loss of his eye. Brutally crushing the resistance with both fiends and an Osmium elemental, murdering Tsukiko, and summoning a silicon elemental to wipe out the Order.
  • Everything about Malack's demise, particularly Nale's claim that he murdered Malack's children as a practice run. Malack dies by being burned alive by the sun's rays, screaming to Nergal to save him from his true, final death. Whoa.
  • Nale may have deserved to die, but it's pretty frightening when Tarquin sticks a knife in his own son practically out of nowhere, annoyed and frustrated at his rejection of everything he'd been offered.
  • The shot of the whole Order on the verge of death from Tarquin and Laurin's attacks. Durkon is burning in the sunlight, Haley is nearly unconscious, Belkar is still lacking blood, Roy and Elan have both been run through, and, worst of all, V is being strangled by a levitated whip. As Tarquin says, it's utter chaos. No theme, just pain.
  • Durkon's vampire hijacker gets serious.
  • Tarquin vowing to Elan that he will kill Haley and everyone he loves (and cut off his right hand), so that Elan will finally stick to Tarquin's narrative. By this point, it's safe to say Tarquin has lost it. To make it even more disturbing, the complete calm and the angle of the shot makes him look even more like a spitting image of Elan himself when he started out, showing a side of Tarquin that is not unlike the Manchild his son sometimes is, in the most horrific possible way.
    • And then the next panel has him descend into full blown psychotic fury.
    • Tarquin breaking Haley's arm is also pretty horrific, and her reaction is heartbreaking.
    • It certainly doesn't help that he uses the old "You forced me to do this" justification. That's never a sign of someone who is, how do you say, sane.
    • And on top of all that, just the sheer horror of realizing that there isn't any way to escape. The Order can't hide or run away, because Tarquin isn't going to give up, and he can follow them wherever they go. He will absolutely will not stop, ever, until he has accomplished his lunatic goals or he is destroyed.
    • It's pretty chilling in itself realizing that while Tarquin is scarily invested, to Laurin this is Just Business to get something from Tarquin.
  • While it's also awesome, it's pretty creepy to see Elan just admitting that he won't pull Tarquin up because Tarquin can survive the massive fall that awaits him. Elan's not usually that coldly practical.
  • Tarquin in general is this. He makes it clear that Even Evil Has Loved Ones. He tells an anecdote of a bar patron grabbing his wife's butt, Elan's mother, and that he murdered everyone in the bar for it. She divorced him in response to their alignment mismatch. He has always been screwy in the head as he mentions that he used the corpses of his victims as fertilizer for her garden. In response to the divorce, he left for the Western continent and formed a horrific regime. While it's understandable that she left him, it makes one wonder if it would have been better to have Tarquin stay as a lowly bar owner giving heroes and villains spooky conspiracy ridden quests instead of becoming a conqueror. Also, despite his insistence he was the leader of his group and that he will be king or legend, his ego is as fragile as Nale's. He's terrified of being forgotten so much so that the stress of his actions broke him a long time ago and he's a Stepford Smiler for it. His fight with Julio demonstrates this as he is considered a second or third stringer to Julio. This also reflects Xykon's insistence that the villains that actually die are failures and that at least being a brain in a jar as a means of staying in the game is preferable. He insists that he's happy with his lot but it's clear he's compromising and has given up on ultimate victory a long time ago. In the end, he's just as depressed and megalomaniacal as Nale. The result is a sad and terrifying villain driven insane who could have actually have had a happy life with his wife and kids if he just compromised a little more instead of lashing out and justifying his evil.
  • The Snarl's tentacle beginning to break through Girard's Gate. It's so enormous that its nature is readily evident, and really steals the scene with pure Oh, Crap!.
    • Looking closely at Laurin's eyes as she is looking into the Snarl's prison, there is a horrific shot where its tentacles can be seen inside her eyes, showing just how much Mind Rape she is undergoing.
    • Also, if you look closely, you can see that one of the white-clad soldiers has been impaled by the Snarl's tentacle. Normally, you wouldn't bat an eye. Nameless mooks die all the time and are sent to some sort of afterlife. Then you remember that this is the Snarl. That mook isn't just dead, he's gone.
  • Durkon is trapped inside his mind while the new vampiric personality that has taken over is just pretending to be him, and is tricking the whole order while serving Hel. He's now going to destroy the dwarven homelands when he gets back so Hel can get revenge on Thor. So Belkar was right and it's not really Durkon anymore after all. Also hurts chillingly because it negates all the heartwarming moments Durkon has had since being freed of the thrall effect, it was all the vampire acting to keep on Roy's good side.

    Utterly Dwarfed 
  • Crystal is back from the dead. Let's just say that she's seen better days.
    • Worse? She hates it.
    • Even worse? Haley notes she left Crystal in a state that would have merely required a Raise Dead spell, which costs maybe seven grand. Turning Crystal into what she is now would have been much more expensive when Bozzok simply could have rezzed her and spent the rest on items to ensure Haley's demise. She was brought back like this on purpose. This also means that Bozzok squandered the money that was meant to raise the other dead members of the Thieves Guild on creating this grotesque abomination for his own petty revenge.
    • And then, when Crystal confronts Bozzok, she kills him relatively quickly...but then continues beating his corpse, screaming that she hates him. And in the next panel, as Haley waits silently outside the house, Crystal is still screaming as she bludgeons him. Again and again and again.
  • The High Priest of Hel at the Godsmoot. He has drained one dwarf's blood, is about to do it to another, and thrown the only person who knows what's going on, Belkar, down a chasm. Not even Belkar's anti-evil brooch slowed him down for long. And the kicker? Feeding on the dwarves is useless to his plan, he just does it because he wants to. Just a reminder that undead evil alignment is not there for show.
  • The Godsmoot itself. The very first proclamation made is whether or not to ask the gods to destroy the world, likely due to the influence of the Snarl. The idea that all of the gods, even the nominally Good ones, would be willing to destroy the world just to contain the Snarl is chilling.
    • The first statement has Heimdall, a Good God, being for the destruction of the world. To top it all both Gods don't even dare calling the Snarl by name, that's how frightening the Snarl is.
    • Even worse, the Snarl, as far as anyone knows, is just that bad that Heimdall's point about at least saving the souls of the current world's people instead of risking the Snarl doing even worse is actually a valid one.
    • Some of the Gods' speeches are awesome or heartwarming... but others are willing to vote for the world's destruction for trivial reasons, such as wanting to try out a new coastline.
    • Roy's summation of the proceedings is itself frightening - based on their arguments, it's abundantly clear that when the chips are down, many of the gods are only thinking about their own wellbeing. Every follower is expendable.
  • Hel's plan is revealed: If the gods unmake the world, their followers' souls go to the afterlife. And as it would not be an honorable death, Hel would get the souls of every dwarf currently in existence (noted to be about ten million). This means when the pantheons are rebuilt with the world, she would be the most powerful god in the Norse pantheon and therefore be its ruler in the new world. She therefore not only votes yes for a tie, but has apparently already secured the votes of the demigods who will be the tiebreakers. The only thing that could stand in her way is if Roy kills vampire-Durkon before that vote happens.
  • During an intense duel, vampire-Durkon taunts Roy by asking how many pieces Eric's body had been found in.
  • The High Priest of Hel turned Exarch Gontor Hammerfell of the Creed of the Stone into a vampire, and his backup plan in case the Godsmoot plot fails involves Hammerfell infiltrating the Mechane with his mist form, the ship's crew completely unaware save for the animal companions.
  • And the High Priest of Hel has a backup plan for his backup plan: Hammerfell snuck onto the Mechane to steal the Order's Teleport Orb so they can teleport to the Dwarven Lands and manipulate the tiebreaker so that Hel gets what she wants. And they've also got a squadron of vampires ready to stop anyone who tries to stop them.
  • Grayview the worg of Episode 1037 can cause a mild existential crisis when he remarks that everyone and everything dies, and in the end, the only certainty in life is that, at death, there will not have been enough treats.
    Grayview: "Only certainty in life: When icy jaws of death come, you will not have had enough treats."
  • The fact that Kraagor's Tomb apparently has monsters so strong that they can give a team that includes a near epic level Cleric and an epic level Lich trouble is actually quite scary once you think about it.
  • Mr. Scruffy contracted the deadly Sphinx Pox during the Order's desert adventures, which involves spouting riddles and eventually the victim's brains bleeding out until they die. Hel uses her powers to infect the entire crew and passengers of the Mechane (possibly averted given the incubation period is five weeks and it is not made clear if the virus is one that is contagious while incubating or if the crew simply have five weeks before showing symptoms).
    • Definitively averted as of Strip #1188, as Durkon heals everyone of the disease.
  • Durkon said he would be learning how to cast the Protection from Sunlight spell from Malack's staff. But we never got to see which spell he actually learned... as Haley pointed out, if Hel's evil plan hinges on invading a subterranean nation, surely the sunlight would not be as big as an issue. The implication being, what he learned was how to instantly complete the Vampirization process instead of waiting the usual three days. Cue the dead dwarves rising in the background.
  • While assitance from Hilgya gives them a good opening, the Order's fight against the High Priest of Hel starts going very badly once he dominates all but three of the party, quickly taking V and leaving Roy and Minrah alone against their former comrades. In addition, a hypnotized Hilgya hands over her son to his undead father, who uses him as a shield against Roy.
  • In strip 1139, Thor takes Durkon and Minrah to an unmarked grave meant for the first world the gods created, the one destroyed by The Snarl in the tale told by Lord Shojo. Thor once again mentions that the gods decided to work in harmony to create a new world that would double as The Snarl's prison. He points out the gravestone for that world in the distance. He then shows them the grave of the third world they created. Then the fourth, then the fifth, then the sixth. The final page of that strip shows MILLIONS, MAYBE BILLIONS of identical unmarked graves for worlds that The Snarl broke free of and destroyed. Just how powerful is this thing???
    • This shows how insane the Dark One and maybe the Archfiends' plans are. The Snarl escaped countless worlds despite the gods improving it each time. Playing with the rifts like they do or moving the Gate for leverage can end with wiping out everyone that exists.
    • This also puts some of the Good Gods' decisions to vote for destroying the world for the pettiest of reasons into a new light as well: To Roy, and everyone else in the world, this godsmoot vote is the most significant event of their lives, a vote to decide the fates of everyone in the world. To the Gods, however, this is Tuesday. They have done this vote so many times, some of them have become desensitized to the magnitude of the event. Destroying the world, killing everyone in it, has become routine to them by now.
    • It also puts Thor's reason for voting no in a different light. It's not Honor Before Reason; he's trying to avoid falling into the trap that so many of the other gods have.
    • Strip 1141 answers the question "Just how powerful is this thing???": Because the original world was created by four pantheons, the Snarl is stronger than the remaining three combined.
    • Doing the math (assuming a billion worlds, and a roughly linear progression from 4 years to 3-4 millennia per world), the gods must have been doing this for trillions of years. At least a hundred times longer than our universe has existed. And they remember everything. It's a small miracle that they are not absolute nervous wrecks.
  • Goodness gracious, Hel's face in the fourth panel strip #1176 as she rants at Loki - who, remember, is her father.
    Hel: Once this world crumbles, I will be free of your wretched wager forever. Free to empower my own living clerics, and as my first commandment, I will task them with slaughtering your followers in hideous ways wherever they lurk. You will waste away and DIE as your name is erased from every history book. Now get out of my domain!

    Current Storyline 
  • Strips 1209 and 1210 have Redcloak attempt to Implode Durkon, slowly and torturously, complete with bones snapping and Durkon screaming in pain.
  • 1211: Redcloak is perfectly willing to let the world be destroyed to stop the Snarl if it puts the Dark One in a position to have leverage for the goblins in the next world.
  • 1214: Durkon and Minrah are already having trouble fleeing from Redcloack and Oona's attacks. Then Xykon arrives.
  • 1226: O'Chul and Lien's mysterious captor is revealed to be an elderly Serini Toormuck... and a quarter of her body and half of her face is troll skin.
    "Xykon? I know all about Xykon. I have firsthand experience. As in, he's the reason I don't have my first hand."
  • 1227: Right after that, Serini reveals the reason why she looks the way she does... and her backstory shows that Xykon used a spell to remove a quarter of the flesh off of her body. It's presented simplistically, but it's oddly... disturbing.
    Xykon: Hey look, I made a three-eighthling!
  • #1229:
    Serini: Oh, you sweet dumb child, I didn't brew a whole cauldron of amnesia potion for just two of you. (Slasher Smile, vanishes)
  • #1260: The Monster in the Darkness isn't hungry, so Xykon decides he's going to murder the bugbear who made them so full (and maybe resurrect the bugbear's grandmother to watch for extra evil points. Xykon thinks the whole thing is funny) because he wants to feed the heroes to the Monster and it's currently full, presumably due to the bugbear's cooking. The Monster in the Darkness suggests skipping dinner instead, but Xykon blows him off. Note that Xykon does horrific things like this on a regular basis, so he most likely wasn't joking.
  • #1291: The situation with the Snarl is getting so desperate that Threads of Creation, which the gods used to make the world (and the Snarl), appear far away from the rift to block the party's path and are a symbol of reality fraying. Serini warns Elan not to touch them as they could be extremely dangerous for the toucher and the entire world, and they extend past and fray the panel borders in a case of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • #1295 has the party come face-to-face with an adult or even ancient Red Dragon, who has charmed Sunny to break out of the stasis circle and proceeds to tell the party how he intends to kill Serini in a spectacularly gruesome fashion and breathes fire at the group after Roy tries to dissuade him from taking revenge on Serini for the untold years to decades of his imprisonment.
    • It's equally nightmarish from the dragon's perspective. Red dragons on the whole may be far from a sympathetic species, but considering how this one was forced into a state of suspended animation and kept that way for what's implied to have been decades (not to mention aware of it the entire time), one can't exactly fault it for wanting to kill Serini.
  • Roy asks for some info and finds out that not only does this dragon have domination abilities, but it took all six members of The Order of the Scribble to take down! That means this dragon is several leagues of magnitude more powerful than anything the Order of the Stick have faced up until this point with the possible exception of Xykon himself. One fire breath is enough to require the use of cure serious wounds, and then Roy has to use telepathy to keep Elan's mouth shut to the fact that only Roy and Varsuuvius have wards against domination! If the Red Dragon gets wise to this he could easily dominate the majority of the group!
    • There's a flashback of several people that the dragon enthralled into his cult, with Mind-Control Eyes, shaved and tattooed heads and gaping mouths, moving more like zombies than living beings; deeply unsettling.