I’ve been reading Order of the Stick with considerable interest lately. Part of this lies with the storyline of Varsuvius’ fall from grace, which has been a logical progression for V, rather than a hackneyed attempt to force characterization on a fairly ordinary and uninspiring character (like, say, April of CRfH). The seduction of V to the “deep end of the alignment pool” as Belkar put it was inspired storytelling. But there is another story that has been told, piece by piece, that has truly captured my attention, and this is the story the Monster in the Dark, or as the paladin O-Chul named him, Monster-san.
For the longest time, Monster-san has been a bit of a running gag in OotS. His form is unknown; all we have ever seen of him is a pair of yellow eyes in the midst of darkness. Nor does he normally sound threatening; if anything, Monster-san has a tremendously child-like nature. Indeed, this latest update suggests that Monster-san actually prefers to remain in ignorance. Thinking is hard. It’s easier just to let other people think instead, and to follow orders. But even as O-Chul reminds him that there are two aspects to Monster-san which make him what he truly is: his heart and his mind. Much more interesting, however, is the tail end of Monster-san’s discussion leading up to this philosophical discussion on aspects of self: Monster-san’s childhood in the rainforest.
Monster-san recalls his father, somewhat; a creature who was large, much larger than Monster-san (who ain’t exactly small!) and eats a lot more than Monster-san. It occurred to me when reading this update on the one creature that best embodies this, and which would prove to be quite the twist for Rich Burlew to pull on readers: the Snarl, which destroyed the world before this one, and slew one pantheon of Gods. In short, Monster-san is a baby Snarl. If you think on this, it makes perfect sense. Monster-san was unable to perceive the Gates that hold the Snarl. He is incredibly powerful, resistant to damage, and what’s more, Redcloak and Xykon know what Monster-san is.
This has boundless possibilities for OotS’s epic storyline. The growing friendship of O-Chul and Monster-san is a wildcard that Xykon undoubtedly doesn’t consider important… but could easily turn a baby Snarl against the forces of Darkness. Xykon may find his ace in the hole is too much to handle, and work to manipulate the heroes into ending Monster-san’s threat. And what of O-Chul? He dedicated his life to protecting Soon’s Gate and keeping the Snarl imprisoned. How would he react if he learns his new friend is the spawn of something that threatens the world itself? Will he turn against Monster-san, driving the young Snarl further into Xykon’s grasp? Or would he be able to overcome his own prejudices and fears and continue to mentor this strange innocent?
The upcoming battle between Varsuvius and Xykon will undoubtedly lead to the unveiling of the baby Snarl, and V’s imminent defeat, likely because of Monster-san, and because of V’s refusal to accept outside aid. But as to where the story will go from there… the possibilities are endless, ranging from Monster-san taking up Daddy’s footprints and working to destroy the world (leading to Xykon desperately working with the heroes to stop this nuke he activated) to the baby Snarl deciding that humanity is worth saving, and working to protect it, despite the wishes of his father and of Xykon. Only time will tell where this tale will go… but it’ll be a hell of a ride getting there.