We still don't know very much about the world; and there are things to map of it besides its surface.
Can broken things be remade?
Can destinies change?
Is it worth the risk of hope?
Important questions, but one can only shrug, you see:
Here, there be dragons.
Hitherby Dragons is a series of online short stories written by Jenna K. Moran (formerly known as Rebecca S. Borgstrom), who also created the Tabletop RPG Nobilis. (Hitherby was also the name of one of Jenna's In Nomine PCs, a Kyriotate of Animals. There are no direct links... we think).
A girl called Jane, her brother (sort of) Martin, and a cast of others tell stories in the Gibbelins' Tower to make sense of their own existence, to amuse, and to understand the nature of the world around them.
Hitherby has a set of story Canon, set in a strange variant of our world, telling of the current characters, as well as variants on the stories of Tantalus, Buddha, Belshazzar, Confucius, Lot and Persephone. The mythologies it creates concern the powers of suffering, the imprisonment of personal uncertainty, and the relationship between oppressor and servant.
However, many of the stories are individual legends, and can generally be read without any further context. A large number of the legends are warped combinations of pop culture with philosophical, political or religious motifs. Some are reflections of the mythology of the world, and some are whatever complete nonsense blasted out of Jenna's mind that morning before coffee. Stories where Jesus pilots a Humongous Mecha, the wars of gods are fought with Sailor Moon attacks or the Buddha can be summoned from a Pokeball are by no means atypical.
From a troper's point of view, there are several legends that work by playing the tropes either completely out of context, much straighter than even the original or even tropes that function as rules of the universe.
Hitherby Dragons has been on hiatus since 2008, with a year-long return in 2011 and a week-long return in 2015, but it's still on Jenna's mind. The story starts here.
Hitherby Dragons books:
- An Unclean Legacy (legend)
- Enemies Endure: Stomping the World Round (legend, book 1 of 3)
- Enemies Endure: The Storm That Saw Itself (legend, book 2 of 3)
- Enemies Endure: Vidar's Boot (legend, book 3 of 3)
- Jack o'Lantern Girl (history)
- Magical Bears in the Context of Contemporary Political Theory (legend collection)
Hitherby Dragons provides examples of:
- Aesoptinium: Gods are born from the emptiness in people's hearts, as a metaphor for abuse and disassociation.
- Anachronic Order: The canon story, while roughly in chronological order, can skip around from modern day to the Biblical era to Ancient China and so on.
- Epiphanic Prison: The nature of being an "isn't", and Ii Ma's prison.
- Fractured Fairy TaleCommenter: Who else would construct a mythology of death, rebirth, and transcendence out of a stupid child’s riddle? Who else would think to? I stand in awe.
- Framing Device: Technically, all non- canon stories are produced by the characters of the Gibbelins' Tower.
- Industrialized Evil: Central, the monster's corporation, which has turned the process of breaking people to create gods into a business.
- The Magic Comes Back: As the current monster tells it, the fire would not serve his family, and left the world. Eventually, it came back... and the monsters found it.
- Our Gods Are Different: 'God' is a general term used for (almost) any supernatural being in the canon.
- Superpower Lottery: Supernatural abilities vary vastly - Magical Angel has a chance of being able to do anything while Realistic Angel is pragmatic. And footsoldiers question pie.
- World of Weirdness: In a world where Buddha pirates roam the seas, the supernatural is common knowledge and any 'god' can be summed up in one sentence...
Various Hitherby stories have dealt with:
- As the Good Book Says...: There are quite a few scenes based on Biblical scenes and a few characters have Biblical names. One even quotes the verse with his own name on it.
- Back from the Dead: Jack o'Lantern Girl is, in part, the story of how Jane came back to life after a slight accident with the fire a lifetime before when she was a girl called Jenna.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: King Cole
- Cuteness ProximityDemeter: She has toes!Midwife: Yes, she does.
- Darker and Edgier: An Unclean Legacy is this to the The Smurfs, being set in a Bad Future where Gargamel won. Another story does this to Scooby-Doo, presenting Scooby's ability to talk as coming from his status as a discarded military experiment.
- Dissimile: Seen here:Cho takes the viper step. It’s the kung fu step a viper would take, if a viper knew kung fuand had legs
- Fighting from the InsideTom: It’s the human personality imprint. The Maria we knew—the Maria who sang to us about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens— She’s fighting for control.Michael: It’s a Fan Hoeng secret weakness! Inside that hardened alien killer is a nanny bubbling with hope!
- Gravity Is a Harsh MistressOctopus: But what about Mr. Schiff?Meredith: It’s okay, Mr. Schiff can fly!
- Hell Seeker: Ink Catherly is a preteen adventurer determined to reach hell "because I'm an explorer". In this case, hell is located at the top of a tower inside her closet.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: In a high school!
- KaijuDestroy All ChristmasMELEE
- Literal Genie
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Parodied in "Angus' Bad Day" — the store cupboard is still out of commission from a previous heroic scientist's escape plan, and so is the chemistry lab.Mr. Boss looks Angus up and down. “We could just throw him in a large empty room,” he says. “And lock the door. In a way, it’s probably safer”.
- Logic Bomb: In "Ink And Illogic" and also Forbidden A in "The Angels"
- Martial Arts and Crafts: Ninja weather forecasters! Pickle Ninjas! Ninja Buddha with enlightenment shurikens!
- Nuclear MutantAnd Shelley nodded.Sid: But we will make a tiny candy man, and then nuclear radiation will bring him to life, and give him unnatural human size.Shelley: Is human size unnatural?
- Scooby-Dooby Doors & "Scooby-Doo" Hoax in "Daphne and Her Dog"
- Sugar Apocalypse: Hoo, boy. Many, many, many kid's shows and concepts are subjected to unearthly horrors in legend.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-universe - well, in-legend - usage:Thunder sounds.“I won’t accept,” Ellen says, “a version without dynamite”.
- Torture Always Works: Played with in "An Oracle For NP". It is discovered that, done properly, torture will always get the right answer even if the victim has no prior knowledge of what the answer is. The world becomes a utopia built on the back of torturing people until they reveal the best political system and the least environmentally-damaging method of power generation.
- Vision Quest: "The Bridge"
- Wax On, Wax Off: