4th Journal Entry of Dr. P. Westcroft, Practicing Metaphysicist
Journal of Dr. P. Westcroft
March 19th, 2030
My next area of interest regarding the study of magic and its effects on the mundane required both a magical and historical expert. Thanks to my previous connections, I managed to get in touch with the esteemed historian and registered magus, Ettore Cavallo, and he was kind enough to offer me an interview, of which I have recorded a rough transcript below. The topic of our discussion was the idea of “Archetypes” and how they can affect monsters, spirits, and even living people. It was an idea on which little has been scientifically recorded, but one in which I also have a great interest and I was eager to learn more.
Ettore: Thank you for the invitation, Doctor Westcroft. I was quite interested in your request. I’ve heard quite a bit about your research.
Me: Oh? Quite surprising, I tend not to advertise.
E: Abi shared it with me. It was quite interesting, I’m surprised you haven’t published more.
M: I have what might be called “eccentricities”, but that’s a touch beyond the point. I am glad Professor White let you know, and she told me you were quite knowledgeable about these so-called “Archetypes”. Am I correct in my thinking?
E: Yes, I’d say I am the…third most knowledgeable person on that subject in the city, and probably the easiest to talk to. Miss Sable can be rather reticent.
M: So I’ve heard, and I’m glad you agreed. Now, in as layman of terms as you can, what is an Archetype in the context of the spiritual world?
E: An Archetype is shorthand for when a spirit, any kind of spirit, starts adhering to certain traits common with others of similar disposition. This can occur with monsters, natural spirits, human spirits, and it has even been observed in living people.
M: Can you give me some examples?
E: Certainly. An easy example would be the Cacodemons that plagued the city a few years ago. By their nature they could take any shape, but when they grew more powerful they tended to take on aspects of ancient monsters: manticores and chimeras and whatnot. They were adapting to specific monstrous archetypes.
M: Why not something new?
E: Because older monster archetypes have more power. We’ve been telling legends about them for centuries, if not longer. They are naturally more prone to taking on forms resilient in human memory. Dragons are much the same way.
M: Dragons, really?
E: I’m not an expert, and I don’t mean the more powerful things we call ‘dragons’ like Primordials, but more earthly dragons tend to fall within their narrative archetypes. Western European dragons tend to hoard gold, have six limbs, breathe fire, etcetera.
M: I see…so would this be a side-effect of your so-called “Cavallo-White Effect”?
E: Potentially. The Cavallo-White Effect recursively alters history, but this has been observed before in spirits and monsters. It’s only after the Days of Revelation that it started occurring in people, as far as we know.
M: Could you tell me more about spirit archetypes?
E: Ah yes, of course. Mages summon all manner of spirits to do work for us, and sometimes we need spirits of specific qualities, like a warrior to fight for us. These spirits, in order to better last in the world, tend to take the shape of people who fit that archetype.
M: But they’re not actually that person?
E: No, merely a shadow of it, their memories altered by modern perception. I once summoned a spirit to act as a boat pilot on a mission to Crete and it decided to take the form of Aeneas…that was quite time.
M: I see…thank you. Now I would like to get to the last part of the subject.
E: Which is?
M: Archetypes as observed in living humans.
E: Ah, of course. That is also the trickiest one to explain, and it’s difficult to observe objectively. There’s no measure or gene for it. It just seems to strike certain people and they start to fill specific roles.
M: What do you mean when you say “Roles”?
E: The best way to explain it is like character archetypes in stories.
M: Some examples? If you’d be so kind.
E: Sure. The ones I’ve identified…archmages. There are plenty of powerful mages but some just go far and beyond what used to be considered the very limits of possibility.
M: Care to name names?
E: I’d really rather not in this case…
M: As you like.
E: After that…I’m not positive but I’m convinced there are a few walking saints, and not only Christian ones. I’ve heard reports of Eastern Buddhist living saints as well, though I’m still not sure if that’s an archetype. Then there’s the Dragonslayers…
E: Yes, those ones actually aren’t too difficult to spot. Some people seem to be born with a real instinctual talent for killing dragons.
M: Go on.
E: I’ve spoken to a few, and from what I gather they have instincts no one else possesses naturally, a sort of sixth sense for the best ways to kill a dragon and the reflexes to do it.
M: Can only dragonslayers kill dragons?
E: Oh no, anyone with enough training, skill, or even simple luck could do it, but Dragonslayers are born with an advantage. It’s not a skill they train but something natural and utterly unique to them. They were also one of the first archetypes to be identified.
M: Really? How?
E: Well people with a preternatural habit towards dragon slaying tend to stand out, you know? It’s not exactly something a normal person has a knack for. It’s how we found out about Archetypes, because we saw similar examples in history.
M: Such as?
E: Saint George, Sigurd, Saint Martha, John Lambton. All of them are quite possibly ancient dragonslayers.
M: Is it genetic? Inheritable? Could a dragon-slaying trait be bred?
E: None of the archetypes that I know of are hereditary. They seem to happen at random…or perhaps more aptly, they tend to happen where and when they’re needed.
M: What do you mean?
E: Well, if a town is menaced by a dragon long enough, dragonslayers tend to crop up in the area to repel them. If there’s a group of mages in close proximity, an archmage tends to rise in their ranks to lead them. If there’s a place particularly prolific with some kind of sin or blasphemy, a saint will eventually roll into town…all of this is generally speaking, of course. It’s a phenomenon almost impossible to predict.
M: Fascinating…truly. Could you hazard a number for the living archetypes in Rome?
E: Very few, though I don’t like making hard guesses since it’s such a vague and abstract concept. Many people might fall into lighter, less obvious and more subtle archetypes we don’t even know and live their lives like that, pushing the narrative of the world steadily on.
M: So you think these archetypes fill a role of some kind?
E: Almost certainly. With the world the way it is, it’s all but necessary. We can’t survive in a world with dragons without Dragonslayers. It’s an age of miracles, so of course saints walk among us. However, you have to consider we can’t simply write them off as a phenomenon. These are people. People born with advantages and in specific circumstances, but people with their own skill, decisions, and emotions. A Dragonslayer is still brave for facing a dragon head on in battle, after all.
M: Would you say any archetype is more important than the others?
E: [At this point Ettore considers the question at length before responding.] There is one…though it’s really hard to say if it’s an archetype. I believe it is, but examples are very few and far between, maybe a half dozen on the entire planet.
M: And what would that be?
E: If I had to come up with a word…because it’s not like these archetypes come with labels…I would probably say “Hero”.
M: That’s very vague.
E: Now you see the dilemma. How do you define something like that?
M: That was going to be my next question for you.
E: Well, roughly as I can tell, if it even exists at all, the Hero Archetype exists in people who have a…knack for performing amazing deeds. I mean…there are plenty of everyday heroes, your soldiers and firemen and teachers and whatnot…but the people who kill the monster, retrieve the relic, win the girl and bring peace to the nation…those are what might fit under the “Hero” archetype.
M: So while a Dragonslayer might be your Saint Georges or your Sigurds…
E: A hero is your Hercules, your Jasons, your Cu Chulains, and on and on…the person tasked with doing the impossible.
M: That sounds like it could be quite a burden…though if they’re all but destined to win…
E: On the contrary. Like I said Archetypes have a knack for things but nothing is guaranteed. If what I’ve heard is true, the lairs of monsters are littered with the bones of heroes. Hero Archetypes aren’t just born, they need to survive.
M: That’s a rather grim thought.
E: Agreed, but the upside is that those heroes who do survive do amazing things.
M: Are you entirely sure the Hero Archetype is real? It could just be those lucky, bold, and brave enough to do things that seem impossible.
E: Well it’s a tricky thing. It’s why I wasn’t entirely sure to bring it up in the first place. It’s definitely less obvious than, say, a Dragonslayer. In all honesty I could be misguided, but I believe I’m at least half right.
E: if the last seven years have shown us anything, it’s that the Archetype might not exist, but heroes definitely do.
M: A sentiment we can both agree on then. Thank you, Mister Cavallo, it has been quite enlightening.
E: Thank you, Doctor Westcroft.
M: My pleasure, do give Abigail my regards.
The Cities Eternal©2016, Evan Murdoch, Ben Sousa
(( JP Link: https://www.jukepop.com/home/read/9042?chapter=41&sl=63 ))