Mysteries of the creature commonly known as the Boggart (Stultis Caligo) have been thoroughly documented in multiple arenas of study, most recently in the Esprit de Corpora, and their colleagues in Beauxbaton’s Para-Normal Reality division. Of course, the origins of S. caligo predate the modern systems of classification – yet despite the latest advancements in research thaumatography, its true ancestry remain obscure.
As a working definition, Dark Creatures are considered within the parameters reserved for any non-sentient life-form, which may cause deliberate harm to Wizard-kind (ICW B.S13). Sentient species, such as giants and the ever-controversial veela, are not under this classification due to sentience and the inherent capacity to resist baser urges (See Once Bitten, Twice Shy, by Majister Saknessum). However, the threat quantity of S. caligo is far lower than that of most organisms which have earned such a place in our annals. As such, it is one of some three thousand species with the single X rating, like that of the kelpie (Aqua amplexator), harpies (Rostro nasus), or Common Ashwinder (Calculus comedenti).
S. caligo presents itself to viewers as the object of the viewer’s worst fear. Consequently, sentient observers cannot perceive the natural form of the creature. The concept of Observer Effect, originated by the infamous Leif Goddricsson, defines this issue for the uninitiated quite adroitly, stating: The act of observation, while not interacting with the observed, yet triggers a reaction outside of standard behavior.
While technically correct, Godricsson erred precisely how a complete lack of interaction is involved in regards to objects capable of detecting influences beyond their immediate range of effect. To whit, S. caligo is capable of reading the deepest fears of targeted individuals, demonstrating a Legilmancy mastery beyond the greatest human practitioner’s ability. Like the far more dangerous Dark Creature, the Dementor (Osculum Mortis), S. caligo inhabits dark places without sunlight – yet perceives its surroundings with adequate accuracy.
One of several major differences from O. mortis – and fortunately for the world as a whole – the S. caligo does not require Soulphagy in order to exist or procreate. Instead, individual S. caligo will self-procreate if given enough time and ambient magic.
Reproducing S. caligo are neither oviparous nor viviparous, but asexual. A single S. caligo in an ambient magical environment is capable of reproducing once every three years – if conditions are unsuitable for reproduction, the specimen may postpone self-fission indefinitely. If conditions are met, however, S. caligo will retreat to the darkest place possible and in a short time, become two specimens. How reproduction occurs is unknown, as no one has successfully monitored the procreative process in session. Captive S. caligo seem incapable of procreation, and wild specimens do not engage in reproduction if they feel threatened.
This is stronger evidence supporting the Legilmancy aspect of S. caligo. In order to produce the deepest fear, the approaching individual must have fear, and therefore must have memory of that fear. Animals approaching a S. caligo instigate production of larger predators (Ancillary Reactions of S. caligo, by Prof. F. Burger); interestingly enough, small rodents or herbivores do not appear to engender a response. Predators however, have been seen to trigger strong reactions. One enlightening reaction demonstrated an Ursus Americanus seeing a human wielding an odd-looking wand and chain, apparently something the bear feared above all other threats.
Within the species, recent discoveries has discerned two subspecies: Stultis caligo (Common Boggart) and the Vere Stultis caligo (Greater Boggart). This secondary species is given the provisional XX rating, due to a tendency to devour unaccompanied small creatures. Discovery of this specialized variation became known through the efforts of a family wishing to remain anonymous. Their House Elf (Dryadalis Domum) fell prey to this V.S. caligo via accidental magic cast by the youngest daughter, here known only as Alexa. Once exposed to the V.S. caligo, the house elf became petrified in fear at the sight of a former Master threatening him with what he viewed as the ultimate punishment: banishment from a Pure-Blood house, to serve a purely muggle-born squib household. Subsequently, the V.S. caligo enveloped the D. Domum, leaving behind only the clothing. While we decry the inhumane treatment of near-sentient life forms, this one example suffices to ensure proper safety concerns are met when dealing with any member of the Caligo family (see: Household Pests and Where to Find Them, 203rd Edition, by A. Nexpert).
All members of the Caligo family appear to dwell in domesticated areas, including wizarding households, abandoned regions, urbanized locales near wizarding domestics, and similar habitats. Several abandoned locations, known to the muggles as being haunted, provide adequate protections for S. caligo. Whether they require magic to exist, their feeding habits are perfectly suited for such accommodation. It is known that any location where a representative of S. caligo resides will become remarkably rodent free in short order. This causes the S. caligo to change locations frequently, hence their seeming appearance from nowhere, in abandoned cupboards, valises, wardrobes, or even beneath beds.
At this point, the origins must be examined. While little is known of their true origins, several deductions can be made.
First, S. caligo is incredibly capable of either bodily imitating or projecting imitations. As it is known the entire mass of an S. caligo may be contained within a valise of two feet cube (Anatomical Assays, 15th Edition), and the largest known ‘vision of fear’ exceeded the size of a small haunted house (Raven’s Book of World Records: 1852 Edition). Hence, this is likely a projection, rather than a true shape-shifting. As a comparison, Metamorphs are capable of altering their own bodies to suit their purposes, but the rule appears to limit their mass within magical reserves (see: Encyclopedia Majika, vol. 102, p. 1,215: Xian the Cruel, and Gifts of the Maji, vol. 2, p. 3,051 ‘Limits of the Meta’). Keeping this in mind, the capacity for S. caligo is logically a projection, with a certain aura of horror or despair.
The ability to project both despair and the visual source of that emotion is further augmented by the induced senses. The primary target will smell, feel, and hear things that their greatest fear naturally includes (e.g. heat and Sulphur from dragons), but while these sensory stimulations are perceived by onlookers, the potency is greatly reduced. This is the second greatest difference from O. mortis which, while capable of causing despair, yet this ability to cause their victims to relive the worst moments of their life is not limited to a single target. Rather, a single O. Mortis will cause a true terror to occur, increasing the effect to a true miasma while in tristus. Clearly, this is a difference of Projection versus Absorption. S. caligo shows a fear to the viewer and all similar predators nearby, whilst O. mortis causes that fear to appear within the viewers own mind.
One of the oldest records can be found in the Chronicles of Bebenhausen Abbey, in Baden-Württemberg (1283). Father Brown writes: “….in moste haste, wee verily found a creature of such uncouth visage attacking Brother Maleficar … that appeareth as terror moste unholy. Brother Maleficar forethwith … summoned his Potente wyrd, banishing the foule creature to the Netherrealm. Thanks be to the Almighty for the Tymly presence of Brother Maleficar’s Gyfts.”
This example clearly demonstrates a commingled presence of magical and muggle societies. Contrary to popular thought, most religious groups did not repel magic wielders – in fact the term wizard did not begin to apply until the 1500s – instead using the term philosophers. More importantly, it is seen within this entry that S. caligo was present in a domicile populated largely by muggles, yet did not appear until a magical sentient being became close. Further thought-provocation in this vein suggests muggles are incapable of witnessing a S. caligo, and currently blame the lack of rodents within a darkened basement upon clean surfaces. As a side note, muggles are therefore potentially not viewed as a threat to S. Caligo, therefore not triggering a defensive fear-based attack.
To continue, while it is true that rats, mice, and other rodents abhor food-less areas, they are also capable of subsisting on paltry quantities of sustenance. S. caligo seem to love open, clean areas, and the discerning individual can often find specimens in clean muggle storage facilities, basements and metropolitan regions. At first examination, such a fact appears inconsequential, yet close observations of enclosed samples of the aforementioned areas reveal faint traces of gelatinous proteins. Through this, we may derive that S. caligo possesses smooth locomotor apparatus, which can also be inferred through their preferred dwelling in urbanized areas. Unlike O. Mortis, S. caligo appears incapable of flight, and requires open areas.
A final, specific point to consider is how S. caligo reacts to its surroundings. Its horror-inducing capabilities are never displayed unless exposed directly to predator-style beings. The rare V.S. caligo requires more study to confirm the theory, yet it is reasonable to assume that D. Domum, beings that exist on the will to purify and serve, could be considered alpha-grade predators of the S. caligo. Yet even under such duress, neither the S. nor V.S. caligo emulate the O. Mortis in creating an area-affect region of despair.
In conclusion, the Caligo family is beneficial for pest removal. All forms of Rodentia reduce in proximity to members of the Caligo, and other mobile pests seem to deliberately remove themselves from its location. Tests with the common Pixie (Dryadalis minimus) demonstrate an almost desperate desire to leave the vicinity of S. caligo. It is our considered advice that upon discovery of the presence of an S. caligo, care should be taken, testing the specimen for its species. Whichever sub-species form it takes, transport the specimen to a safe location, such as a shed or basement, and set wards to keep small children or house elves at safe distances. With care, this specimen will protect your home from vermin, and negligible risk.
Article Excerpt from: Study of Magical Creatures: the Humble Boggart, 10th Edition, 1997, by Charles Felices
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