Girl Genius
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Girl Genius

Eotain and Shurdlu are the names of a couple of Geisterdamen who make repeated appearances in the story. Since they always appear together and are difficult to tell apart (in fact, it's not even clear which is which), they're treated jointly in this article.

Crossing Paths with Agatha[]

They make their first appearance as they patrol the boonies of Europa aboard their trusty giant spiders Bwoosee and Pojee, when they encounter the unsuspecting Agatha and Lars. They don't think much about this encounter at the time, dismissing the two as "actors," which in fact they are. (Not until much later do they get a hint that there may be more to Agatha than they realized at the time.) This episode gives us our first exposure to Geisterspeak, which they use in all subsequent encounters until, well, see below.

The next time they appear, they're sacked out somewhere in the bowels of Castle Sturmvoraus, to be awakened when Tarvek Sturmvoraus and Anevka Sturmvoraus imprison Agatha and Lady Vrin until they can figure out what to do with them all. (Why Eotain and Shurdlu are being treated as captives remains unclear.) When Agatha puts on her glasses, which she'd been hiding, the Geisterladies recognize her as one of the "actors" they'd encountered earlier. They're left behind with Vrin when Tinka shows up to conduct Agatha to a tete-a-tete with Tarvek, only to reappear when they and Vrin crash the party shortly afterward. In the craziness that follows, as Agatha is implanted with the mind of The Other, it's fair to say that Eotain's and Shurdlu's attitude toward her undergoes a certain ... change .

Greeting their goddess

Beyond this point, things get messy, as more Geisterdamen seem to proliferate out of the woodwork, and since we can't tell them apart, we can't figure out which ones are Eotain and Shurdlu, if any.


Post-Timeskip[]

The duo finally prove that they survived events in Sturmhalten by re-appearing in Paris during Agatha's visit to that city. (We know it's them because they're nice enough to go out of their way to use each other's name the moment we lay eyes on them.) Confronting Agatha and Co. at a barricade in the city's revenant-infested streets, they order all the possibly-wasped citizens in the vicinity to capture her. In Eng.. er, French no less; whether they could always speak the language or have been boning up is unknown. It should also be noted they are or were sort of undercover, having dressed in fairly human garb, identical to their compatriot Madame Velix.

When Agatha and friends take to the rooftops in their multi-legged conveyance, the two chase after them on Bwoosee and Pojee, announcing their presence by impaling Smoke Knight Malek through the chest with a grappling hook and yanking him away. A running battle then ensues, with an attacking Shurdlu recognizing Zeetha as being from Skifander and then battering her unconscious in unarmed combat before taking an incapacitating (if not fatal) dart to the head thanks to a vengeful Varpa. Meanwhile, a distraught Eotain loses Bwoosee when Dimo unintentionally chucks a large and heavy chunk of pilfered machinery right on top of the unfortunate mount. At this point, the metaphorical woodwork once again spews forth Geisters, leading to the entire cadre's ruthless destruction by the Master of Paris.

Adventures with Othar[]

The comic proper doesn't detail the duo's fate, but much later it's revealed in the Twitter-based adventures of Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer) that yes, once again Eotain survived, hiding and scavenging in the lowest pits of the Paris underworld. Well, more or less, when Othar finds her (looking for his time-lost love Oslaka), she's in pretty bad shape. He manages to smuggle her out of the now locked-down and Collette-ruled city and gets her medical attention thanks to the Corbettite monks. When she recovers and learns who he is, and that he can speak her language, she's willing to talk, starting with telling him her name, which is when we learn it as well. She goes on to reveal that Shurdlu did die in Paris, though it's not clear if it was from the dart or the later Voltaire family crackdown. She also claims that Shurdlu was the more pious of the two, while Eotain herself often suffers crises of faith. She accompanies Othar as he goes to investigate events in Holfung-Borzoi, displaying fear at seeing the moon, and bitterness at the lack of information doled out to her during her time serving The Other; an entire cadre of Geisters being sent to die in Paris does not help with this attitude. In response to her sisterhood's poor reputation, she spends some time disguised as Othar's "sister", complete with slit-goggles and sweater.

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

Doubtlessly the names have as their orginal root source "ETAOIN SHRDLU" — which were the characters, in order, on the first two columns of keys of the Linotype hot-type slug setting machines. Wikipedia has an interesting read on this subject.

Perhaps more pertinently, however, Etaoin Shrdlu is a classic science fiction short story written by Fredric Brown concerning a Linotype machine that attains sentience - a story that the Foglios are surely familiar with, and one that has appeared in several science fiction collections, making it quite likely that this was a stop on the etymological route from slug writing to bug riding . SHRDLU is also the name of an actual early Artificial Intelligence program by Terry Winograd, although this is less likely to have influenced the Foglios.

In addition, the cartoonist Walt Kelly, creator of the political comic strip Pogo, had a character named Mr Etaoin Shrdlu, depicted as a bookworm. The Foglios, being cartoonists, may have intended this as a tribute to Kelly, whose work was greatly respected.


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