What is Hitherby Dragons?

Hitherby Dragons is a story about the emptiness.If you look out at the world, there’s a lot that you know. There’s a lot that you understand. But at the edge of your map there’s emptiness. There’s questions that are hard to answer. There’s things that are hard to explain. There’s choices that don’t make sense and there’s a sea of chaos and there’s emptiness.

Jane is a girl with some questions she needs to answer. So she’s gone to the edge of the world, where Santa Ynez touches on the chaos, and walked across the bridge to the abandoned tower of the gibbelins, and set up with some friends and associates a stage, and every night, more or less, they put on a show, and try to answer some of their questions. About 250 entries a year are just that—shows. Legends, Jane calls them, because they’re things that the Gibbelins’ Tower crew uses to help make sense of the world. I’m not sure how they break down exactly. Some of the legends are serious. Most are humorous, and most of the humor is either burlesque or incongruity. Some of the legends are directly about the things in Jane’s world. Most are essentially random. Some are sad, but mostly Jane likes to give people something to smile or laugh at in the morning. About 50 entries a year are either histories or stories—things that happened, or will happen, in Jane’s world. These are numbered. It’s a weird convention, but I stumbled upon it, and it’s here to stay. Roman numerals mean that something happened before the “present”; Arabic numerals mean that it’s happening right now. Jane’s world is pretty strange, and, except for some turns of phrase and such, all of the strangeness is literal.

How to Read Hitherby:

If you just want to read random fun stuff, then check in whenever you like—there are six entries in a typical week, and most of them are just random fun things.

If today’s entry has numerals in the title, like The Summoning of the King (I/?), Tunnel Rat (I/IV), or Sunday (2 of 2), then reading it might require lots of context. Or it might not! If you’re reading it and confusion is making you unhappy, just stop reading and go find some entry in the archives that you like. Or go read some other web thingie. Mostly, don’t assume that it’s too highbrow or crazy to understand—it’s not high art and it’s not random, it’s just that it assumes you have read the canon entries in the past to answer most of your questions and will read the canon entries in the future to answer the rest. ^_^

If you want to read the actual story, then it’s probably best to start at the beginning and read through the archives from December 5 on. The story jumps around in time a lot but there’s a meaningful order to it—if for no other reason, then because when I write entries, I know which ones I’ve already written. ^_^

Some Notes on The Cast:

Jane usually shows up in legends as a young girl with Martin as her brother. Since she currently is a young girl and Martin is currently her brother, she doesn’t have to master the finer points of acting.

Martin usually shows up in legends as Jane’s slightly older brother. He thinks suffering is necessary for wisdom. He makes unsettling inventions. He’s more cynical than Jane, in part because he’s usually wearing cynicism goggles (see Two Great Tastes for a guide to how to make these.)

Mr. Schiff is a geology teacher. According to legend, he falls a lot.

Mrs. Schiff comes out when the performance isn’t ready and narrates stuff. Every theater needs a Mrs. Schiff! Her first name is Parvati.

Iphigenia drives the sun across the sky. Not every legend with her in it is about this, but she does.

Sid, Clair, Meredith, Broderick, Saul, and others are stock players. Broderick usually plays either a rat or a parrot. If you see a name repeated a lot, it usually means that someone in the Gibbelins’ Tower crew is playing the relevant roles. It seems to take more effort for them to adopt new names for the sake of a performance, so the theater crew only does that when they have to.

Ink Catherly deserves special mention, but won’t get any.

Other Important People:

The monster is not a very nice person, but he has a shiny tie. He descends from the House of Atreus.

Tina tortures people for the monster. She doesn’t have a tie or any kind of fancy heredity. That’s too bad for her!

The shadow used to be Karen, but then woglies ate the integrity of her world. Now she’s just the shadow.

Mei Ming is a girl the monster pulled from the shadow’s womb. She lives in the tunnels. Martin wants to rescue her, but she’s scared of the light.

Jenna was one of the people of salt. Then she died, returned from the dead, and lived in a succession of fine places such as tunnels, a forest, a castle, the monster’s basement, and a world made entirely out of firewood before Martin came along and transformed her into Jane.

The hero, Sebastien, was Jenna’s brother. He is somewhat dubious about Jane, what with all the dying and coming back to life and transforming into different people and all.

Liril is one of the people of salt; that is, a child of the line that is the monster’s natural prey. The monster put the Thorn That Does Not Kill through her neck, stealing her volition, but circumstances have recently conspired to return a certain dynamism to her life. This is almost as much her story as it is Jane’s, except she doesn’t put on 250 shows a year explaining her perspective on things.

Micah is Liril’s brother. She created him to defy the monster, most likely in the moment when she no longer could.

Tainted John is something Liril made out of an abused boy who she thought would otherwise turn out to be another abuser. He has no eyes and no heart.

Priyanka is one of the people of salt. She was prey to 1968′s monster. She refused to save Tantalus from his punishment.

The Angel Four wear jackets with holes cut out for their wings. Actually, pretty much every angel in this story wears a jacket, and almost everyone noted as wearing a jacket is an angel. Evasive A is uncatchable, Forbidden A is best not thought about, Magic A has a nonzero chance of accomplishing anything, and Realistic A can provide a realistic assessment of any situation.

Santa Claus does not show up very often because Hitherby_Admin would be mean to me if I wrote him doing anything unsaintly.

Ninja Tathagata is probably that aspect of Tathagata Buddha who is a ninja. He might also be the scion of a clan of ninjas who adopt the names of classic Buddhas when they achieve Ninja Nirvana. It’s hard to say without infinite wisdom.

Dukkha is the world’s fundamental tendency to include hostility and anguish in everyday life. He fights a neverending battle with Ninja Tathagata.

Maya is the illusion of material existence. She’s also Lot’s wife, adoptive mother of the lines of the monster and the people of salt, and Queen Mahamaya, mother to Prince Siddhartha. She gets around.

Daniel, Alan, and Bob were each at one time Jane’s brother. They did not work out very well and had to be replaced.

Persephone, Tantalus, and the Greek Gods (Zeus, Nemesis, etcetera) are more or less as the myths describe.

Nabonidus was King of Babylon, and a monster.

Mylitta fought the monster at Babylon, but lost.

Belshazzar is a god Nabonidus tore from Mylitta at the Temple of Sin.

Vicious Lily is a robotic assassin made to advance the cause of Impressionism.

Strange Entities:

Angels answer emptiness with hope.
Chimerae cause boolean expressions to evaluate as neither true nor false.
Contemners impose judgment to divide their prey from the pack.
Cynosures are fixed points in the chaos.
Death solves problems through extinction.
Demons teach acceptance.
Fairies reflect the chaos outside the world.
Fetches are secret-keeping gods.
Fiends answer hurt with madness.
Footsoldiers question pie to achieve their goals.
Heroes can kill monsters.
Ii Ma, the warden, keeps the place without recourse.
Kings of the Unforgivable Dominions break the covenant that holds together the pieces of the world.
Libellatici (also called succubi, incubi, and rakshasa) are the enemies of the gods.
Lincolns bind things together.
Melomids lack the power of intention.
Merins help make sense of the world.
Ragged things catch you up, at the wrong place, in the wrong time.
Siggorts vivisect people, innocently.
Woglies devour the integrity of the world. They are shaped like a torus and have two winky eyes. Inside of a wogly it’s empty.

Mini-People don’t have souls.

Barbie dolls, however, often do.

Categories: Vanished From Imago