Shimmer Worms Species in Cathedris | World Anvil

Cathedris Themesong

Shimmer Worms

A surgeon's best friend

You'll know you're in good hands when you see the shine of their eyes.
— Catalurgist Recruitment
  These parasitic worms call the turbulent waters of river deltas home; they drift aimlessly in the swirling currents of salt and fresh water, waiting to find their way into their target host -- the eyeballs of an unsuspecting fish. The fish are merely used a vessel for part of the worm's life cycle, forced to go from salinated worm habitat to freshwater worm spawning grounds.   In their relentless quest to do anything and everything they can to improve the human body, The Human Augmentation Program discovered a new use for the worms; should they infect a human host's eyes, instead of becoming blind to all but what the worms make you see, the human host gains incredibly keen short-range perception at the cost of their long distance sight.    
1-5 years
  In their natural hosts, the Shimmer Worm larvae can survive 1-5 years without food until their host swims upstream, where they'll eat all that they'll ever eat once the fish dies in the freshwater river. Once they reach their adult stage, they go into stasis until reawakening inside the host, where they lay eggs and die.   In human eyes, the larvae starves and dies after about 5 years, requiring re-infection each time.

Natural Life Cycle

The worms spend the vast majority of their adult life drifting aimlessly through the warm ocean waters found at river deltas, all across the world. They are tiny, a few milimeters in length, and barely visible in their adult form. It's only once they've been ingested by a saltwater fish that they move on to the next stage of their life; they migrate through the host fish's body, up to their eyes, and begin to rapidly lay thousands of eggs. After a few days the eggs hatch, populating the eyes with hordes of tiny reflective Shimmer Worm larvae. These larvae cloud the host's eyes and mask what they might see, warping its perception.
From the outside, the eyes turn shimmery and reflective, which gives the worms their name. The host itself becomes essentially blind, only able to see flashes of light -- controlled by the worm larvae. By reflecting light in at certain times and angles, the larvae direct the host fish to swim up stream, into the freshwater that spells doom for the host. Here, out of its natural saltwater environment, the fish eventually dies -- and the worms continue their next step of their life cycle, growing to adulthood in the fresh water while drifting back down stream into the delta where they may complete the loop.

Unnatural Interruption

Unfortunately, the worms aren't suited to our bodies, so you can't just eat them to become their host. No, if you want your eyes to shimmer, you're going to have to introduce them in a more... direct manner.
here for bonus info
H.A.P. surgeon
    The Legion's twisted research department, The Human Augmentation Program, were not the first to introduce Shimmer Worms to human eyes; there have been reports of infections across the world, usually accidental, quite often with the unfortunate host being ostracized due to their strange and off-putting shimmering eyes resulting from the parasite.  
The H.A.P. were the first ones to realize the potential of the parasites, however; on their quest to infect test subjects with every parasite possible in an exploration for any sort of benefits, they discovered the ehanced short-range vision that results from an infection of Shimmer Worms in a human host.   Because humans are not a natural target for Shimmer Worms, some work must be done in order to become properly infected -- this is done by usually introducing adult worms directly to a prospective host's eyes. Contact with the exterior of an eye will result in a successful infection about 50% of the time if the worms manage to burrow into vitreous part of the eye, but also runs the risk of introducing the worms only to the sclera and resulting in a failed infection. For guaranteed results, H.A.P. doctors use needles to inject the adult worms directly.   The Shimmer Worms lay their eggs like normal, populating their new environment with thousands of larvae that turn the eye silver as usual, but in a human host, full blindness does not occur. Instead, the reflective quality of the larvae helps the host to magnify their vision, seeing things up close in incredible detail, at the cost of everything more than 5' away becoming a blurry, unrecognizeable mess.  
Don't blink.
H.A.P. surgeon

The Sign of Dedication

  "You know what they say, right?"   I looked up at Gerald. He'd gone through all of this before me, and came out just fine. Mostly. I was glad to have him here, talking me through it, relieving my worries as best he can.   I shook my head. Of course, I did know what "they" say, but I wanted to hear him say it. It helps to have the advice you know come from someone you trust.   "Shimmering eyes are a sign of expertise. It shows dedication to your craft. You'll never miss an incision again."   I sat close enough to him to feel the warmth of his body. I liked it this way. But even if I didn't, I'd have to sit this close to him in order for him to make out the details of my face. His silver, shimmering eyes demanded it.   "Patients trust you more -- once they get over the unsettling appearance, of course." The corners of his eyes wrinkled in a slight, wry smile, silver light dancing across the lines. "And the other doctors, without the enhancement, well, they never really get over it. But they never really mattered anyways. They're not willing to do what it takes to be the best. Not like us."   It was hard to tell if he was actually looking at me. The Shimmer Worms obscured his eyes entirely, rendering them entirely silver and reflective. I wasn't able to tell where his pupils were, or which direction he had his eyes pointing. I liked to think he was looking into my eyes though. I wondered what details he saw. Could he pick out the individual peaks and valleys of my iris? Gaze into the array of rods and cones at the back of my eyes?   He never fully described the detail that he could see -- only that one day, I'd see it too. I tried to suppress my unease -- he could probably see that, too. Today was going to finally be the day.   Every surgeon gets the choice eventually. Some, the unfortunate ones that work in the less respectable Legion hospitals, don't get a choice. But I've never been one of them. I've been fortunate enough to have spent my entire time in a high quality university hospital. They can't force things here, else they'd scare everyone else away.   I'd already done my time as a student. I put in my hours in residency. Trained under some of the best surgeons, with and without their own Shimmer Worms.   I've done everything I can do, until this moment.   I was ready to take the next step. I was ready to be marked with the symbol of a master surgeon.   Gerald saw the change in me. Damn those amazing, unsettling eyes of his.   He stood up, and reached out his hand. "Looks like it's time."  

Cover image: by Chris Barrett


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Jul 7, 2023 22:21 by Morgan Biscup

As someone very nearsighted, I cannot understand why these crazy people do this. Guess I'd have to live in Cathedris. Feel the peer pressure.   I loved the prose. <3

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Jul 8, 2023 03:06 by Stormbril

I definitely would never do this either! But to some, especially in Cathedris I guess, the power to see near-microscopic detail is worth it even if the rest of your vision becomes functionally useless :O   Thank you! It was fun to write <3

Jul 8, 2023 02:25 by Dani

Oh no oh no oh no...

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
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Jul 9, 2023 08:43 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Well. what a fun operation -_- Are there any sequelae 5 years later when the worms are all dead? Could the person now free from infections go on without getting a new infection?   I was also dubious about the advantages of excellent short-range vision vs losing all long-range vision, but your prose was great for convincing me! I only want to be operated by surgeons who've had the enhancement now!   That prose was really, great! suitably creepy & making the whole thing sus, while at the same time making it appear like an obvious choice :p If this didn't happen in Cathedris and the Legion was not involved, I'm sure we would all be convinced it was an amazing idea XD

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Jul 10, 2023 16:47 by Stormbril

That's a fantastic question -- they'd be left with some residual blurriness and probably a permanent degradation of their distance vision, but after some time most of it would heal and come back, as the immune system cleans up all the dead worms   And I'm so glad to hear that the prose was convincing for this! >:D It was fun to try and mix "that sounds horrible" with "oh no, that makes sense" :D

Jul 9, 2023 10:04 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.   God, your prose is so good.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 10, 2023 16:48 by Stormbril
Jul 10, 2023 19:50 by Catoblepon

All surgeons involved are fully aware of everything involved in the procedure and have accepted, VOLUNTARILY, to go under the procedure. They are the best surgeons in the world and your life is more than safe with them. There is no need of being scared or worried, the legion is here to help and protect after all.
— Catobella Song

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Jul 11, 2023 20:07 by Stormbril

Thank you Catobella for spreading the good word!

Jul 11, 2023 04:21

Such a small and simple thing with a wonderful effect, queasy application and interesting consequence. Micro surgery? Of course! Easy! Spectrum perception change? Ability to see subtle signs of cancer infiltration, especially with something like "tumor paint". Good article and the prose text just tops it off wonderfully.

Jul 11, 2023 20:05 by Stormbril

Thank you so much Mutterwolf! I had fun writing this one :D

Aug 11, 2023 16:57 by Han

oh good god reading this after watching some.. similar eye-based cutscenes in BG3 was a mistake   CONGRATS THIS IS BRILLIANT BUT *NIGHTMARISH*

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Aug 14, 2023 15:58 by Stormbril
Aug 13, 2023 02:13 by Chris L

The prose in your Summer Camp articles is top-notch. You've definitely improved this year!

See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.

Aug 14, 2023 15:59 by Stormbril

Thank you so much! I'm really happy with how all this prose I've been trying out has turned out :D

Aug 19, 2023 13:55 by E. Christopher Clark

Out of all of your articles that I've read through this morning, this is probably my favorite. I loved how creeped-out it makes me feel, probably because it's hard to creep me out.

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Aug 19, 2023 18:17 by Stormbril

I'm so glad it was suitably creepy then! >:D   And thank you! <3 I'm especially happy with the prose on this one, it seemed to just sorta flow out of my brain and came out just how I wanted

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