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Literature / Hitherby Dragons

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In the old days, they didn't know very much about the world. But they made maps anyway. If they had to map something they couldn't, they just drew whatever they felt like and wrote, "Here there be dragons."...
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:

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 Tale
    Commenter: 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.
    • Our Angels Are Different: Angels answer emptiness with hope. They wear jackets with holes cut into them for their wings.
    • Our Demons Are Different: Demons answer emptiness with acceptance. This doesn't actually do anything about the problem, though.
  • 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: