Here’s another deleted interlude from my novel Charming. This one explains how the tide began to turn in favor of humankind while various species were struggling for dominance and/or survival in the 12th century.
Bride of the Interlude
HISTORY RHYMES WITH MYSTERY
The next step in truly making sense of the Pax Arcana is this: you have to understand that while it has been growing steadily more powerful since the 14th century, the cause behind the Pax Arcana’s effect goes back two hundred years earlier. Back in the 12th century, it was an entirely different ballgame. Everyone knew that the supernatural was real except for the insane and a few willful idiots who were the medieval equivalent of the flat-earth society. Read the literature of the day if you don’t believe me…not just the fiction, but the non-fiction…the letters and sermons and court cases and journals written by real people. The presence of ghosts and witches and vampires and fairies and werewolves was as taken for granted as an overworked housewife….and supernatural creatures were almost extinct because of it.
Basically, humanity has always had two big advantages over the supernatural. One is its ability to reproduce far more rapidly than most supernatural species. The other is humanity’s gift for adaptation and invention. Think of it in terms of cats and rats. Generally speaking, one cat will win against one rat. Now imagine one cat and two hundred rats. Now imagine the rats learning how to use fire and make projectile weapons. The only way cats could survive under those circumstances would be to go into hiding and hunt for their meat from the shadows.
In the twelfth century, nearly every continent had seen massive population explosions among humankind. There were a lot of reasons for this, but most of them were rooted in the invention of the stern mounted rudder, the magnetic compass, and the printing press. For the first time in human history, good ideas were able to travel the globe almost as effectively as racial intolerance, religious persecution, and political ambition. Roman plumbing, Greek medical practices, Arabic numeral systems, Asian advances in chemistry and engineering, all spread throughout the world and had diverse effects on various cultures. The first windmills began to appear shortly after the first medieval universities, along with the spinning wheel and rudimentary sanitation practices.
Humans being humans, our ability to kill effectively also increased exponentially, and this included our ability to combat the supernatural. The English longbow could send an arrow that was basically a feathered stake through a vampire’s chest at 160 meters. Flaming oil could burn a werewolf down to its bones faster than its flesh could regenerate. An Italian inventor named Silvano Armato developed a system of mirrors that could reflect and project raw sunlight into deep caves though all anyone remembers is that he invented the first practical eyeglasses. Gunpowder came along and could collapse those same caves in on themselves or blow a being’s head off – decapitation being the Royal Flush of monster fighting. And so on
Advances such as these, combined with the advent of the Inquisition and several Jihads and Asian and African dynastic wars (all of which ended in census taking and mass executions of any questionable elements) almost eradicated the supernatural from our planet entirely. The Inquisition, for example, might have been born from fanaticism, intolerance, hypocrisy, and hysteria, but you have to say this much, it did one hell of a job motivating people to systematically root out and destroy supernatural beings. Anyone with pointed ears under their hair, or webbed hands and feet, or odd looking eyes, or extremely sharp canines, or nocturnal roaming habits, was basically priest meat. To quote Jon Stewart, you were guilty until proven flammable.
What ultimately saved the supernatural world from the apocalypse known as Man
was the Pax Arcana, a last ditch effort crafted by those ancient, ageless, powerful races of beings who had been sharing the earth with mankind before the first word was ever written down. The spell came into effect in the 1300’s, but it’s not like people just stopped believing in magic overnight. No compulsion is strong enough to affect an entire species’ consciousness that dramatically that fast, which is why the Inquisitions kept going on for several more centuries. France had thousands of werewolf trials between the 1300s and 1500s, and witch trials were common for three hundred years after that. A lot of places still believe in magic even now. The Pax has grown steadily more powerful because it is subtle and insidious, not overwhelming, and this is why the places where people still believe in magic continue to become fewer and smaller and more marginalized every generation. The more people who already believe the supernatural doesn’t exist, the less energy the Pax has to expend. The less energy the Pax has to expend, the more people it can make believe that the supernatural doesn’t exist. If it weren’t for ever perpetual overpopulation in third world countries, the Pax would have covered the entire planet a long time ago.
As to who cast the Pax Arcana in the first place – let’s be clear here, I don’t know how many different sentient races there were or there are, and I don’t know if or how all the different ones relate to each other.
What I do know is that the architects of the Pax Arcana were the Fae.