A Summary of the Metaphysics

Gods come into the world on a certain schedule. Some in antiquity; some in the distant future; some not so far from now.
— Alan (II/IV)

The generic term for a supernatural creature in Hitherby Dragons is god. According to Tantalus, they are born to fill emptiness.

There are many kinds of gods, including the following:

Angels, who fill emptiness with hope.
Demons, who teach acceptance.
Fairies, reflecting the chaos outside the world.
Fiends, answering hurt with madness.
Heroes, who can fight monsters.
Merins, who help make sense of the world.

Please feel free to submit new candidates for definition, now or over the course of the chapter.

A person’s emptiness can create a god from nothingness. Martin says he created himself from that state.

Humans and animals can become gods. A scorpion became a god in response to blasphemy. Liril transformed both Sandy and Tainted John into gods.

People descended from gods are a special case, inheriting limited supernatural qualities. This includes the “people of salt,” descended from Lia, and the line of monsters descended from Amiel. They create gods with unusual facility and are unusually vulnerable to transcendence into godhood. Monsters and potential heroes tremble on the verge of transcendence at all times.

“When you promise something that humans can’t fulfill,” Erin says, “you don’t have to be human any more.”

“Can’t,” Branwen says. “Not ‘don’t have to.'”
— It’s Only Wounds (I/I)

Promises are very powerful. Making a promise that humans can’t fulfill can transform a human into a god. A similar technique works for gods—making a promise beyond her means, Cyane transformed herself from nymph to angel. Such promises cannot be made “from weakness.”

The impact of some promises crosses multiple generations. Amiel made a promise that bound her line to Lia’s. This promise affects all of her descendants. If they become gods, they become “bondsmen” of Lia’s line—they cannot achieve personal transcendence. The promise of the first hero, Ella, has similar effects; some of her descendants have been proto-heroes, with the heroic nature as their destined route to godhood.

“As the monster gloated of his victory,” Sabin says, “the hand of Allah struck him down. It obscured the sun. It blotted out the sky. Everything was chaos and terror. But we were not strong enough, you see. We had failed. So he cast us down too. Allah banished us from Heaven. He cast us down to earth, to live in the mud and the muck. He stripped us of our godhead. And without it, we are simply slaves.”
— People of Salt (IV/IV)

The world is severed from the influence of the gods. This separation is incomplete but still profound: for millennia, transcendence has meant death, and the techniques of god-making have been unreliable at best.

This phenomenon is fading. Most of the story features supernatural events, and at least one angel has been born since Columbine. However, the gods have not yet reasserted themselves; they are still “isn’ts,” as one fairy put it, lacking full influence over the world.

Is there anything else you feel belongs in this summary? Post!