The Snake and the Mirror

Journal Entry of Dr. P. Westcroft, Practicing Metaphysicist

April 9th, 2030

The autumn of 2024 was to mark the turning point in the new history of our world. It was to be the year when human settlement and permanent habitation reached a level approximately comparable to that of the zeroth year as judged by the Gregorian calendar (Approximately 50 million human souls across the planet.) Obviously, this number does not account for spirits, the demographics of which have proven “challenging”. That is to say that the population of spirits across the globe tends to range between seven million and eighteen trillion depending on who you ask.

The year 2022 was a year of catastrophe and destruction; 2023 was to be the year humanity began picking up the pieces, and 2024 was the year that humans, in their courage (and some would say arrogance) began pushing back. I, unfortunately, was not in Rome during the autumn of 2024 as I was in Greece at the time. However, I kept abreast of what news I could, and have used my position here to fill in the gaps of histories according to those who witnessed them.

I am not a historian (I must remind whatever hapless reader that one can observe from the interviews, hypotheses, and sketched diagrams in my journals that I am a metaphysicist first and foremost), and I have offered my findings as contributions to Volume 1 of the Nuova Storia Romana that was recently published. As such, I wish to look instead at the various forces that contributed to the new shaping of mankind, the campaign against chaos of the late year 2024, and the inevitable fallout.

I have spoken before on the subject of Champions, those mortals chosen by the gods as their personal warriors and messengers on Earth, and much can be said about them as well as the gods themselves. Rome, of course, focused its knowledge on its local deities, those of Rome, Greece, and Egypt. However, with the arrival of the Shrine Master Megame Kamigawa, to Rome in mid-2024, as well as the critical Battle of the Black Sun, the truth that had been suspected was confirmed: The gods and spirits had returned across the Earth, not limited by faith or by modern belief.

At the time, it is now estimated there were approximately 75 champions scattered over the world. As the system grew more widespread and popular so too did that number rise. People gathered around the chosen champions of the gods, and they acted as protectors of nascent settlements and cities. Rome was the unique case, as it had the protection of the esteemed wolf pack: Capitolina Lupa, the Wolf of Gubbio (Giovanni), Kebechet, and Angel. Across the Mediterranean and beyond, however, we see a clear pattern emerge of small settlement->Divine protector->Large settlement->Organized military defense->Self-sustainability. This pattern can be seen in Carthage, Athens, Sparta, Berlin, Paris, Babylon (Formerly Al Hillah), Prague, and I have heard reports of similar cases in Kyoto, New Aztlan (Formerly Mexico City), Oslo, and many others.

Of course, there are always variations and exceptions. Southern England and Wales lacked the divine champions that would characterize both mainland Europe as well as Scotland and Ireland; however they had the exceptional case of an established human defensive settlement in the form of Camelot. Similarly Syracuse was briefly ruled by a despotic (but unifying) magocracy that was replaced by a parliamentary monarchy under noted magical anomaly Tagus Vittorio. This magocracy took the place that a champion would normally occupy, though a champion was present in rural Sicily (Salvatore Messana). Thule continues to thrive as a Northern port settlement, but it is protected both by its peculiar geography and a supernatural protection other than divine.

By 2024, however, it was becoming apparent that protection alone was not enough, and proactive effort would be needed in order to ensure the future of humanity. However, by autumn many settlements and cities were still only on their first legs, hardly able to support themselves, let alone able to contribute to a larger unified effort, simple communication was difficult enough, let alone things like trade or military reinforcement when the forests and seas teamed with monsters.

To understand more about the relationship between champions, cities, and the great effort to push back against the Primordials, I’ve managed to organize a brief discussion between three such prominent individuals: Ambassador Jana Tule of Thule, Champion of Hermes Stefanos Melis, and Sovereign-Protector of the Province of Barcelona Wilhelmina Koenig. Below is a transcript:

 

Me: First of all, I would like to thank you all for coming on such short notice. I know you all have very busy schedules and a great many duties, I hope I won’t need to keep you too long.

Wilhelmina: It was not an issue, and your letter intrigued me, Doctor.

Jana: No problem at all, Doctor.

Stefanos: I managed to sneak some time in while I’m in Rome, surprised you came to me first though, there are a lot of champions here.

M: Very true, however I am interested in perspectives from outside Rome and you three were excellent examples. You spend most of your time in Carthage, yes?

S: I do, though I was born in Thessaly and that’s where I was made Champion.

M: How old were you when you were made a Champion, if I may ask?

S: Oh I was only thirteen at the time, definitely one of the youngest.

M: Well, to get onto the subject at hand, all of you lived in areas that were threatened by the attacks of the Primordials when you were younger. How did you survive, and how would you compare those methods in terms of benefit and effectiveness?

W: That’s something of a broad question, Doctor. I’m sure we can all speak for our own experiences, but it is a little difficult to compare.

M: I understand, then let us begin with the first part. If you could go first, Lady Koenig?

W: Very well. For the first five years or so the city and later Disctrict of Barcelona was under exclusively human protection.

M: From what I hear you were the bulk of that ‘human protection’.

W: While I don’t wish to downplay the contributions of Barcelona’s many defenders, I was called to meet specific large-scale threats personally, yes.

J: Lady Koenig’s reputation as a dragonslayer has reached as far as Thule.

M: And Rome as well. How did you gain these skills, Lady Koenig? Were you trained?

W: Yes and no. Much of my martial training came from my mentor, who unfortunately passed away during the first dragon attack on Barcelona. However, there are certain…instincts I suppose you could say that are specific to dragonslayers. It is inborn and, from what I’ve been told, strictly supernatural as opposed to hereditary.

M: I imagine Lady Tule has some knowledge in that regard?

J: It is accurate.

M: But still, it is these skills alone that you claim are responsible to safeguarding Barcelona, as opposed to patronage?

W: Yes, Barcelona remains one of the last few Christian cities in Iberia due to that. The lack of patronage of interference from foreign deities has given us that religious independence, and I personally believe my skills are a gift from God.

M: So it is patronage of a sort?

W: I suppose you could call it that.

M: Well with that said, let us move to Stefanos.

S: Thank you, Doctor. I’m not sure how much advice I could give. I’m not like some of your champions here in Rome in that I’m not a great fighter. I mean I’m not bad, but I’m really more of a messenger.

M: As befitting your patron.

S: Right, though that was invaluable to Thessaly’s survival. There was a vicious monster pack that almost had the place surrounded, led by one of Typhon’s nastier children.

M: Oh! Forgive me what breed?

S: A boar, huge one too, like the Calydonian Boar from stories. Thessaly didn’t have the resources or manpower to catch them all, but Sparta did.

M: So you were tasked to send that message?

S: Yes, it’s quite a story, I’ll have to tell you sometime.

M: I would enjoy that, but I’d like to hear more about your actions as champion and how that influenced Thessaly.

S: Oh, champions are like celebrities in Greece. There’s a big temple to Hermes in Thessaly now, statue and everything, and of course they love Rosaria back in Sparta.

M: So you would say that the divine status of champions led to the celebration of their patron gods?

S: Well of course, you see it here in Rome too. The gods with champions always get the most visitors and offerings, I think that’s half of why there are so many now; gods want to cash in and flooded the market.

M: Along with the threat of the Primordials.

S: Well yes, of course, that was the driving force behind the first big wave.

M: Lady Koenig, there has certainly been a visible decline in adherence to the Abrahamic faiths, though there are of course still strong Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim cities, such as in your case of Barcelona. Would you attribute this to a lack of ‘visibility’ so to speak?

W: Hmmm…in a sense, yes. God does not come down in churches and let his will be known directly, but that has been the case since the days of Moses. As the saying goes ‘God works in mysterious ways’ and while he does not name his champions, I believe there are those, like myself or like your wolf, Giovanni, through whom he works his will. It is easy to throw caution to the wind and side with the spirit that says it can aid you, but we have had success in Barcelona matching that of cities such as Athens or Babylon without them.

M: There has been no small amount of religious strife in a number of pan-theic cities, including Rome, do you support the notion held by some that the cults supporting non-Abrahamic gods are apostates to be punished.

W: I think that is a question a great many places are working through right now and have been for some time. Though given the lack of prominent records and the umm…you mentioned it in your last paper.

M: Cavallo-White Effect.

W: Yes that, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to determine everyone who is or was an apostate. That said, Barcelona is a city for religious freedom. We do not turn away others for their beliefs, but we ask them not to tread upon the strong Catholic background of the district.

M: We have something similar regarding the Vatican. Now I apologize, Lady Tule, we have gone onto a religious tangent and you have been very polite in waiting, could you tell us something about Thule’s background and protection?

J: Of course, first of all it is important to note that we are not from Iceland or Greenland, but rather a distinct landmass named Thule, or Ultima Thule.

W: Right, and this distinction is due to its unique geography?

J: Yes, Thule is virtually unplottable, and until recently was unreachable along with similar places like Shamballa or Atlantis.

W: Or Lemuria or Mu.

J: Ah no, I’m afraid those lost continents are entirely fictional.

W: How odd…but regardless, this odd geography is what kept you safe? Was there any religious influence?

J: The people of Thule have a strong shamanic history with the local spirits as well as notable Norse influence, but we did not have any active temples to the Norse gods.

W: Hence why Calroch has such strong devotion in Thule.

J: One of several reasons, yes. Our geography protected us from most attacks, but Lord Calroch fended off those powerful monsters that did manage to push through. Thule would have been an ideal staging ground for Nidhoggr’s invasion of Europe, but thanks to Calroch they pushed it more south.

W: Which of course was beneficial to the joint-offensive.

J: Very much so.

W: Well, I think I have new information and some splendid new perspectives now. I would like to thank you all for coming.

J: No trouble at all.

S: Happy to help.

W: Of course.

M: I shan’t take up any more of your time then, thank you all.

-Interview End-

 

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The Cities Eternal©2017, Evan Murdoch, Ben Sousa

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