Regarding Ink’s Intermission (1 of 1)

There are things that swim in the chaos.

One of them is Andhaka. Andhaka is a great blind beast. He is white and enormous and shaped like a seal, and a long horn protrudes from his head.

“Sometimes when you dream unfortunate dreams,” says Mrs. Schiff, “they fall into the chaos and are lost. They grow there into strange and twisted things.”

The beast Andhaka is rushing for the tower. It is rushing on a current that reaches from the farthest edge of unmapped existence to the shores of Santa Ynez. It is driven by madness and by blood in the water. It is driven by strange hungers.

There are heralds of Andhaka that swim ahead and followers that swim behind.

The heralds have hooked fins, sharp teeth, strange potencies, and burning eyes.

They have been crashing against the tower’s base all night. Some have crawled up the tower’s side, moving with the swift jerky motions of the fiends of horror. They have reached windows, drawn infallibly to the light, only to have Martin or Mr. Schiff hit them with a lantern and knock them back into the sea. They have pounded at grates and swum through an ancient crack into the Gibbelins’ abandoned emerald-cellar.

“We may have to stop the show,” Martin says. “If the sea’s this agitated.”

“Impossible,” says Sid.

Martin calculates. “Then a one-day intermission.”

The fallen dream of Mrs. Schiff approaches. The seabirds have abandoned the tower.

Broderick has fled. He stands on the shore. He watches the tower and nervously washes his hands.

The sea surges.

“That’s reasonable,” Sid agrees.

Andhaka is coming closer.

9 thoughts on “Regarding Ink’s Intermission (1 of 1)

  1. The name “Andhaka” comes from Indian myth; Google turns up an article on Wikipedia.

    I can’t help wondering if this Andhaka is a spirit of migraine….This is if nothing else more entertaining than the usual “Today’s entry delayed by migraine”.

  2. I don’t think so, David. This seems a lot more ominous. If it was a varient of migraine, then this probably would be a Legend, not a Story, i.e. there would be no (1 of 1). (That in itself, by the way, confirms that the Ink legends really are legends — Tower plays — rather than actually occuring events in the Hitherby universe).

    It’s also highly detailed and carries a plot. We find out incidentals, such as that Broderick isn’t really a parrot or a rat (he has hands), and we get a quick glimpse at who does crisis decision-making in the Tower. This is the first time that I can remember seeing the Tower attacked, even potentially; when Martin invited The Monster to visit, the event was certainly tense, but Martin and Jane seemed to have things pretty much under control.

    The Andhaka of Hindu legend was blind, but he wasn’t white; that seems to me to be a possible similarity to the fiend White Lion. The Andhaka myth is also an archetypally Oedipal one (Andhaka was the son of Shiva, and wanted to marry Shiva’s wife, thus causing fierce combat between himself and Shiva). In this case we’re told that Andhaka is the dream of Mrs. Schiff. Check out The Rent in the Fullness of the World (I/II), which along with the legend Stones Tell strongly suggests that Parvati later becomes Mrs. Schiff, and An Answer to Emptiness (II/II), which details her difficult history.

  3. In What is Hitherby Dragons? under Some Notes on the Cast, it says:

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

    Which is I think a bit of a givaway. (I’ve been wondering about whether there’s any relation between Parvati and Priyanka: they’re almost the same age, they both seem to be Indian-Americans, Priyanka was a victim of the monster, while Parvati suffered abuse as a child. Sisters?)

    Some more incidentals:

    When the fiends attack the tower, it’s Martin and Mr Schiff who drive them off.

    According to Sid, stopping the show is impossible. Why is it so important?

    Broderick is the least brave of the company.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Shiva:

    Shiva’s consort is Devi, God’s energy or God as the Divine Mother who comes in many different forms, one of whom is Kali, the goddess of death. Parvati, a more pacific form of Devi is also popular.

    With Andhaka now appearing, are we now being told Mr Schiff’s origin?

  4. Thanks, Graeme. I’d forgotten that it’s confirmed in What Is Hitherby Dragons. I suppose that it isn’t absolutely confirmed, since there could be two different characters named Parvati, but Hitherby Dragons doesn’t seem to re-use the same name for two different people.

    You have to take the following with several grains of salt, since my middle name might as well be “Hasty Generalizer” or something — but I’ve suspected Mr. Schiff of being a lot more than he appears for some time. Who, in myth, is known for falling a lot? Well, Icarus, perhaps, but also Lucifer. The way that Kama bursts into flame after trying to interfere with Mr. Schiff in a history is illustrative.

    But this one adds even more to Mr. Schiff’s potential aura of badassedness. I agree with the implication of your final question, Graeme — maybe I had the wrong mythology, and he’s really Mr. Shiva. They sound the same!

    Edited to add: excitable overreaction aside, I somehow don’t think that Mr. and Mrs. Schiff really are going to turn out to be the deities that this seems to imply. An Answer to Emptiness (II/II), which is a history and therefore mostly reliable, says that Parvati is 50 years old and that the history takes place in 1997. That would seem to preclude the possibility of her being an exiled god, Neil Gaiman style. I do think that Mr. and Mrs. Schiff may well be somehow named after these deities or have their story reflect theirs in some way.

    Edited again to add: Whoops, look at wiki on Kama.
    “Kama’s body was destroyed when he shot his weapon at Shiva in order to disrupt his meditations.” That’s yet another hit from “The Rent in the Fullness of the World (I/II)”.

  5. I think Mr. Schiff is probably a god, but I don’t think Parvati is one – I suspect she’s one of the people of salt, and that what she was doing in An Answer to Emptiness was an attempt to attract an existing god rather than creating one.

    Originally I thought Priyanka and Parvati were the same person with a name change, but the ages are wrong: Priyanka was 16 in 1968 and Parvati 50 in 1997.

    Mr Schiff is a geology teacher. Does Shiva have any association with rocks or the earth?

  6. does it have to be a god? i figured Andhaka was just a hurricane… Hurricane Andhaka.

    Kinda makes a one day postponement seem like the beginning of the end.

  7. David

    I typed Priyanka into Google: most of the first page is links to pages about Priyanka Chopra, a Bollywood actress. The other links all seem to have Indian references.


    I don’t think Andhaka is a metaphor for a hurricane. In What is Hitherby Dragons Rebecca writes:

    Jane’s world is pretty strange, and, except for some turns of phrase and such, all of the strangeness is literal.

    Many of the legends are, I think, metaphorical, but I don’t treat the histories that way.

    An aside on RPGs: Rebecca is a designer for Exalted, a game I was thinking of getting into a few months ago. When reading some of the Exalted threads on, I noticed a commenter talking about the charms (similar to spells in other systems) Rebecca created for the Sidereal Exalted book: “None of the charm descriptions are flavour text, they’re all meant to be taken literally!” Apparently a lot of players thought these charms seemed so weird that they had to be mainly flavour text, and then couldn’t understand what they did.

    So when Rebecca says that something is literal, I take her at her word.

  8. It’s a good guess that Parvati might be one of the people of salt. That might explain why she chose that ruined temple in Babylonia; it might have been handed down in the line of the people of salt that it was where Mylitta failed, and Parvati could have been symbolically rewriting both her own personal myth in that place and the myth of her line.

    But reading back over the Letters Column for March:

    Martin is born in 1995, and he is thirteen years old in 1995, and one’s age measures the number of chronological years since one’s birth.

    There is a contradiction here, and when a set of assumptions leads to a contradiction, you can negate any single assumption of your choice.

    For the purpose of these histories, I negate the third.

    Martin is 13 as an act of classification.

    So it isn’t necessarily true, as I first thought, that because Parvati is 50 in a history taking place in 1997 that she was born in 1947. She could be 50 as an act of classification.

    So when Rebecca says that something is literal, I take her at her word.

    It’s in the same Letters entry that I link to above that she writes “I prefer reliable narrators”. This is a very unusual choice for a contemporary fiction, especially for one which is added to every day without the ability to revise previous entries, and I hope that it isn’t too difficult. I think that it is in keeping with the world-building choice of treating the avoidance of inconsistencies as one of the higher design values. I also think that it’s probably one of the reasons (though not the only one) for the distinction between legends and histories/stories that has evolved; although the legends generally have internal self-consistency, if they didn’t have a within-universe reason for being unreliable with regard to their larger universe, the requirements of production would cause everything to screech to a halt.

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