Girl Genius
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Girl Genius

Moxana is one of the Muses built by master spark van Rijn for the Storm King. She plays games such as chess and tells fortunes, and seems to be exceptionally perceptive. She's been called the "Muse of Mystery", though this may have been less a reference to her purpose than to her cryptic communications. It's not her fault; she just can't talk.

She tends to express herself in the form of Tarot cards [1] and particularly symbolic chess moves [2], which became a significant factor in the decision-making process in Master Payne's Circus of Adventure.

History[]

Following the tragic end of the Storm King's reign, she and her "sister" Tinka traveled with various shows across Europa before ending up the Circus for many years, hiding in plain sight from the many Sparks who would wish to dismantle them. But in a trip through Sturmhalten, Tinka was "discovered" by Tarvek Sturmvoraus and confiscated. Since then, until Agatha Heterodyne is accepted into the circus, Moxana became increasingly despondent.

As noted above, she constantly plays some sort of solo game with her equipment that is evidently oracular in nature, and is regularly studied by Master Payne; when Agatha joins the Circus, Moxana starts a whole new game, which is evidently unprecedented.

When Moxana is first introduced in person, Abner spins a story[3] to Krosp claiming that Moxana is a non-sentient chess-playing device and that a dwarf named Kurtz used to be her operator before being killed by some bad clams.[4] Whether Kurtz ever actually existed is unknown. Embi and Balthazar are mentioned as possible operators, but neither of them play chess well enough. Being an excellent chess player, Krosp offers to take over this job, especially since it would get him off horse-dung shoveling duty, but in the comic we never hear if anything comes of this idea.

When Moxana later hears Agatha play the reconstructed Silverodeon, she summons everyone to her wagon, whereupon using her Tarot cards she indicates that she is broken and wants Agatha to fix her. Agatha pokes around inside Moxana's cart, and while unable to find anything obviously wrong, she is immediately able to identify Moxana as being a Van Rijn creation. Moxana then reveals that she has in her possession a technical notebook of Van Rjin, which she gives to Agatha to try and use to build her a new sister, but then Sturmhalten happens (again), and Tinka and Moxana are re-united in the Sturmvoraus family stronghold. When last seen (more or less), Moxana apparently has accepted Tarvek as the legitimate hereditary heir to the Storm King. However, an injured and captured Tarvek is soon hauled away to the Great Hospital at Mechanicsburg, and the highly-destructive Battle of Sturmhalten erupts. Following this and the two and half year Time Skip, Moxana's and Tinka's fate remains unknown.

Print Novels[]

In the print novel Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, it is noted that the Tarot cards which Moxana uses are evidently a copy of a Sparky set originally created by the Polish alchemist Cagliostro on commission for Queen Albia of England. They are not at all safe for normal people to use. To note; Cagliostro is the alias of real-life occultist Giuseppe Balsamo, a man of mysterious origins renowned in his time as a powerful magician and favorite of royalty throughout Europe. This guy had most of the blue-bloods coming and going in a world where what passes for "magic" is at best really skilled hypnosis, so anything he created in a world of immortal Queens and back-alley mechanics capable of resurrecting the dead is best handled with tongs by persons other than oneself, thank you very much.

It is also revealed that it is actually possible to operate Moxana's chess-functions from the compartment in her base, but when Krosp attempts to do so, his whiskers keep getting caught in the gears and the project is abandoned.

Moxana Points[]

Moxana points are a notion developed on the Yahoo! mailing list, the idea being that they are earned when a correct prediction is made, rather like "brownie points" or "winning an internet".

Possibly relevant outside information[]

Moxana's design is inspired by the Mechanical Turk, a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century by Wolfgang von Kempelen. As with Abner's tale to Krosp, the machine consisted of a life-size mechanical puppet operated by a hidden person under its chessboard, tricking observers into believing that the machine itself was capable of playing chess against human opponents.

Moxana's name may be inspired by the Ambrose Bierce short story Moxon's Master, about a chess-playing automaton that murders its creator.


References

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