An elemental spirit of humanity that is considered a natural phenomenon in itself, Heroic Spirits (英霊, Eirei?, lit. "Legendary Souls" in the English version of Fate/Extra) are beings that accomplished great achievements such as saving the world and, after their death, became the object of worship and lore. As a result, they are placed outside the cycle of transmigration of the soul and ascend to an existence closer to a Divine Spirit in order to become a power that protects humanity. Note that despite the origins of the term, they are not bound to the common understanding of the word “hero”, thus even Heroic Spirits of evil alignment exist.
Just as Elementals are able to adopt a physical form based on the image of humans, Heroic Spirits create a container that allows them to materialize in the present era out of their own legends. Regardless of the authenticity, as long as the information about an individual is enough widespread among humans of any given age, a Heroic Spirit can be materialized from them. Since heroes are known through their stories, information available about them is always composed by what is actually true, what was fictionally created in legends and what was omitted and is now forgotten. Hence, Heroic Spirits can be influenced to a degree by what is known about them in the modern world. Heroic Spirits that aren't Counter Guardians are simply treated as traditions that lend power to the later people.
Despite being an existence close to the gods, Heroic Spirits are still fundamentally human, thus they cannot contend against the greater mysteries with their powers alone. However, all Heroic Spirits possess Noble Phantasms, which are unique relics or anecdotes that are connected to their legends. Noble Phantasms are used as catalysts to reenact legendary feats and can pose a threat to even high-ranking Spirits. As Human Spirits, they are able to consume the souls and minds of people and convert them into energy. Their basic abilities do not change from such nourishment, but they become tougher as their magical energy capacity increases.
The majority of those who became Heroic Spirits are individuals ranging from the most ancient times of humanity to the end of the 19th Century. Each Heroic Spirit is a unique existence; they are those who stood out from the others of their time by performing deeds and possessing qualities that nobody else could have. It is almost impossible for someone of the present era to become a Heroic Spirit, for the great events of the past are now everyday occurrences. In an age when the destruction of the planet can be prevented all the time by simply preserving the Amazon forest from being plundered by industries, saving the world is not a big deal. Additionally, because modern armaments are widespread and gives instant power to anyone who wields them, it is hard for a hero who uses today’s firearms to be recognized as a unique being. Even the most outstanding modern gunslinger will be seen by the world as “an expert that everybody can become through training”, not as a “unique existence”. If the conditions for the creation of a hero are met for a user of modern armaments, what will ascend to the rank of Heroic Spirit will be the gun instead, under the terms of “the best weapon of its time” and only if it has a soul bounded to it. Furthermore, the Heroic Spirit must be a mythical, legendary or even historical figure that his/her adventures has become a lore or tale and figure of reverence or feared, not someone that is entirely fictional. For example, a Master cannot summon completely fictional heroes because the figures' exploits considered a miracle.
Once an individual is recognized as a Heroic Spirit, his soul will be removed from the cycle of transmigration and stored in the Throne of Heroes, a spiritual location that is part of Akasha. He is left isolated there so to guarantee that no alteration that might compromise what is now considered a complete and perfect existence occurs. This is important since if a contradiction or existential paradox involving the hero is detected, the records of his existence might have to be erased so to preserve the stability of the world, though depending of the level of the distortion there might not be a need for such drastic measure. The Throne itself, just like Akasha, is a place that is outside any parallel world or timeframe, which is also a factor that makes it possible for them to be summoned into any age. Should their legends disappear, they will become nameless Heroes that are simply considered Guardians.
Because they are a type of phenomenon, most humans are unable to perceive the actions of Heroic Spirits for what they are. Rather, their actions are seen as a natural occurrence and they themselves as nothing but pure power. When they come to the world, they are usually in the form when their powers were at their prime, but this is not an unbreakable rule and cases where their shape was changed by external forces are known. Examples of this include one in which the Heroic Spirit appeared just as he was moments before his death-breath due a powerful curse imposed onto him and also the case of the two Sabers that were summoned by the Edelfelt sisters in the Heaven’s Feel 3, in which each Saber was in the form that best represented one of the aspects of his legend. On that account, it is also possible that the form that the hero takes is influenced somewhat by how his legend is known. It is also possible for Heroic Spirits to influence the world in response to the direct summoning of humans, but that happens through an indirect medium (such as relaying messages to an oracle or lending their power to a living person). Servants are a different case that will be studied separately ahead.
Note that the soul of the hero never leaves the Throne of Heroes, and what really descends upon the earth when the services of the Heroic Spirit is needed is merely a copy of him created based on the information stored on the Throne. This copy will lack the ego of the original and, when there is no longer a need for the hero’s presence, it will just disappear without relaying any knowledge acquired back to the “main body” in the Throne. However, it is possible for this main body to become aware to some extent of what happened by accessing the records of Akasha. Arturia, however, is a special case. Although she is counted as a Heroic Spirit, her soul is not inside the Throne for she is not technically dead yet. Instead, in accordance with her contract with the world, her body is frozen in a state between life and death while her soul is partially detached from it so she can fulfill her role as a hero. The reason why she is able to remember the events of the 4th Grail War during the Heaven's Feel 5 is because the mind of her original body receives the memories of what she experiences each time that she is summoned in the form of dreams.
As stated before, for the sake of preserving an existence that is already seen as complete, a Heroic Spirit is kept isolated in the Throne of Heroes; what is called forth to the world is merely a disposable clone based on the original “main body” inside the Throne. However, due to its connections to the Third Magic, Servants called by the Great Grail can temporary retrieve their lost human life by being summoned completely, including their ego that should be but a part of the main body. Furthermore, as is it known that Servants are eventually returned to the Throne after being defeated, it is possible that the summoned Heroic Spirits are able to retain the memories of when they were Servants. Finally, while in normal cases Heroic Spirits simply disappear when they are no longer needed, Servants can remain in the world as long as they still have a valid contract with a Master that can supply him/her with enough prana.
Counter Guardian (カウンターガーディアン, Kauntā Gādian?), also called the Protectors of Balance (抑止の守護者, Yokushi no Shugosha?) or the Beast of Alaya, is a special category found within the group of existences known as Heroic Spirits. If a regular Heroic Spirit is someone who became a hero by his own power and is admired for that, then a Guardian is an unknown person who has achieved a great feat due to the assistance of an outside force. They are the ones who have made a pact with the World (Alaya) and offers his services as a Heroic Spirit after death in exchange for a miracle during his lifetime. While normal Heroic Spirits are a natural phenomenon that just happen to be beneficial to humanity, Counter Guardians are a strictly human phenomenon.
Due to their contract with Alaya, these heroes are incorporated as part of humanity’s Counter Force (hence the name Counter Guardians) and are summoned whenever a factor in the extinction of mankind is detected. They are the ones who appear on the site of great disasters in order to eliminate the source of that disaster and all those involved, even if the target of elimination are humans themselves. Not bounded by moral values such as good and evil, they exterminate guilty and innocent alike in order to protect those completely unrelated.
Those who became heroes by their own power are beyond the reach of Alaya, for they are pseudo-deities whose existence is closer to the level of a planet. Therefore, the Counter Force is limited to only Heroic Spirits who made use of its powers during their lifetime. Also, while a Guardian may become free of the control of the Counter Force by having his legend known and being revered for that, a true Heroic Spirit will not become part of the Counter Force even if his legend is forgotten.
An example of a Counter Guardian is EMIYA.
Anti-Heroes (反英雄, Haneiyuu?) are contradictory beings that do not entirely fall under the concept of Heroic Spirits, but still exist due to certain factors. They are people who are hated, yet ultimately saved others as the result of their atrocities. They are those who define "good" with "evil", and although they are the target of curses, they are still worshipped as messiahs. That is the nature of Anti-Heroes, but such a thing as a true anti-hero does not exist. They ultimately only reach the level of "individuals who did good while carrying out evil", stopping short of being classified as a true anti-hero.
These people are those whose atrocious acts were ultimately beneficial to mankind, and the great majority of those who fall into this category are simply “accidental heroes” who performed good deeds despite having an evil nature. There are also the unwilling saviors, whose own demises served to save those around them. They are that which was born from humans but developed without the interference of humans, the contradiction created from that becomes something exempt of the pressure of the Counter Force: an enemy of the world. Assassin, Archer, and Avenger fall under this category. Rider and Caster, while not true Heroic Spirits, are also not true Anti-Heroes.
- Fate/Side Material encyclopedia entry (p.56)
- Dictionary resource at Jonnobi .
- Tsukihime Laboratory entry.
- ↑ Fate/complete material III - World material
Q: What kind of role does the World give to Heroic Spirits that aren't Guardians (Counter Guardians) ? Also, what do magi call people with high divinity or are closer to the planet?
A: Heroic Spirits that aren't Guardians are simply treated as traditions that lend power to the later people. Those that became closer to the planet don't mix well with people so they fall into the categories of Divine Spirits and Elementals.
- ↑ Q: If there are Heroic Spirits like Archer, who was summoned independent of time axis, is it possible for warriors from the future, who are loaded with modern weapons, to be summoned as Servants?
A: Although modern weapons are powerful, it is difficult for the users of modern weapons to be classified as Heroic Spirits. The advantage of modern weapons is "anyone can use them as long as they were trained", thus it is difficult for the user to become a Heroic Spirit, whose definition is "the one and only". The users of modern weapons are faceless heroes. If there are indeed heroes who are loaded with modern weapons, the users will not become Heroic Spirits, as they are merely "experts anyone can achieve through sufficient training". The actual Heroic Spirits being worshiped will be the "greatest weapon of that era". However, for the weapon to become a Heroic Spirit in this case, it must harbour a soul.
- ↑ Fate/side material - If a Heroic Spirit's legend disappears, he becomes a nameless Hero, so just becoming a Guardian. (英霊には、伝説上のもの、実在したもの、観測され なかったものがおり、信仰が薄いものは“守護者”という大きな分類に含まれ、意思のない“抑止 力"として行 使される。)
People who are hated, yet the result of their atrocities ultimately saved others. They are the ones who define "good" with "evil".
Although they are the targets of curses, they are still worshiped as messiahs.
They are the anti-heroes.
However, true anti-heroes do not exist.
Ultimately they only reach the level of "individuals who did good while carrying out evil" (stopping short of being true anti-hero).
Assassin and Archer fall into this category.
Rider and Caster are not true Heroic Spirits, but they are not true anti-heroes either.
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