Curses and the legal system Spell in Imperial Soulmates | World Anvil

Curses and the legal system

Welcome to Imperial Soulmates! In a gigantic and futuristic fantasy empire filled with solarpunk magitechs, Hélène is hiding that she's one of the emperor's soulmates. However, to lift the legal curse on her best friend, she will have to blackmail the emperor himself... Come read about her plans, and the world in which she lives!
Introduction to the story | Hélène | Soulmates | Novel upcoming

Table of Contents

Curses are the perfect way for victims of a crime to get their revenge, for making criminals really regret their actions, and for making them finally become useful to society by serving as an example to other would-be criminals. And above all, in such a modern society why would imperial citizens resort to something as barbaric as an execution when they have alternatives?    
What are curses
Curses are long-term magics attached to someone to have negative effects on their health. Powerful curses work a fine balance between these effects and not killing their subjects too quickly. After all, they need to truly have the time to suffer.   Popular types of curses mimic specific disabling diseases, for example affecting people's perception and handling of pain, slowly destroying their articulations or muscles, or making them cough blood for extra drama. Some more exotic curses only work punctually when triggered by specific topic of conversation being mentioned around the criminal.  
Legal curses
Most curses are cast on people as the result of a legal sentence decided by a court. In those cases, the curse can either be cast by the judge, one of their agents, or by the person who was wronged. Such curses are often cast for life, with no perspective of ever being lifted, and so their actions is chosen to fit the level of the crimes committed. On occasion, a court can decide to change a previous judgement, in which case the person who cast the curse has to unravel it from the guilty person, a delicate and complex task even from the author of the curse themselves.   The most famous and feared curses are imperial cursescurses cast by the emperors on traitors to the empire. These curses are widely publicised and debated, and there is even some competitions with emperors trying to do something more spectacular than their predecessors.  
Private curses
Curses can also be cast by private citizens on each other for revenge; it is technically illegal to do so without the sanction of a court, but it is hard to prove the identity of the author of a curse. The only recourse for the victim is to contact a hospital and go through a long process and series of rituals to slowly unravel the curse, layer by layer.   If a curse has settled for too long or too deeply, this is almost impossible to do fully and without sequelae. Most hospitals and healers are also reluctant to take on such cases—and so do not have a lot of expertise in them—because of the risks of the "victim" not wanting to admit that the curse is the result of a legal judgment.
Curse transmission
When both parents are under a curse at the time of the conception and the mother for the length of the pregnancy, the curse can sometimes be transmitted to their child. Such cases are rare, as that requires a very powerful curse that has settle deeply in the body of its victims. Chances of this happening are enhanced when both parents are under the same curse, especially if it originate from the same magical casting.  
Healing of transmitted curses
When a legal curses is transmitted to children, the local courts are supposed to heal them. In practice, this is difficult to do; first because a lot of people think that children inherit the guilt and shame of their parents' crimes, secondly because curses that have settled so deeply have often wrapped, making them even more difficult to heal that usual. This leads many court to find excuses to avoid recognising that one of their curse has spread and then to pretend that the curse is too wrapped to even bother trying to heal it.
"Well, it's not like we can do anything about it. You know how those inherited curses wrap." The man made a vague gesture but did not bother hiding his disdain.   Behind him his colleagues were also openly gossiping and sending them jeering looks.   Hélène pinched her lips, but Julie's hand closed around her arm before she could say anything else. "Come I told you it was useless."   Her expression was flat and resigned and only angered Hélène more. But she was right that there was nothing they could say to the officials that would made them help with Julie's curse. Not when Hélène was hiding as a nobody...
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