Taboo magic and the dangerous mutated animals it creates Species in Imperial Soulmates | World Anvil

Taboo magic and the dangerous mutated animals it creates

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

Since its invention, the use of magic anchored in organic material has spread widely through the empire and become a pillar to many modern technologies. However, the life forms anchoring this magic are exclusively plants and fungi despite there being another obvious source of organic material: animals.  
How to work anchor-magic in animals?
Transforming a living being with magic requires working at the molecular scale, often over the whole organism, and so on an enormous amount of molecules. Doing so involves an amount of magic that is just as big, and experiments have to be tightly optimised to achieve anything important. Biomages start their projects by selecting one biological characteristic or behaviour they want to enhance or alter. They then have to find the series of genes, hormones and other signalling that control it—easier said than done.   However, once they have accomplished this, they can then use magic to either mutate those elements or to create a new genetic system to interact with it and give the desired results. This method obviously requires numerous back and forth until the right balance is found. This is not made easier by the fact that working with animals means often having to wait years for them to reproduce and grow to know if the experiment was successful. Thus biomages cannot improvise and have to build up on each other work.   The advantages of anchoring magic in animals rather than plants or fungi is:
  • better mobility, as currently the fixed status of complex magical systems are a big draw back;
  • the ability to create systems not possibly with plant biology.
  •   But if this is so interesting, why is it forbidden to work this magic in animals?
    The taboo
    Mutating animals themselves is not too different than working with plants or fungi; the same techniques can be adapted to the different biological systems. The problem is that once those adaptations have been created, the mages with knowledge of them can then also apply them to one particular species of animals: humans.   Enhancing humans' biology with magic is not bad in itself. What is dangerous is that bioengineers' goal is always to create long lasting mutations in the individuals of a given species that can be transmitted unmodified to its descendants over several generations—thus reducing the boring maintenance work that the bioengineers have to do. Having this occurs in humans would be catastrophic; mutations would spread invisibly through our species without anyone fully understanding the consequences, potentially dooming humanity.   Luckily for everyone, when this magic was first developed, the emperor of the time realised the danger. Not only did he ban the practice in the empire, he also ordered the culling of all of the mutated animals and humans, as well as the execution of all the scientists wih knowledge of the anchoring-in-animals techniques. Thanks to this prompt action, the empire was soon declared free of danger.
    Outside of the empire
    In foreign countries, imperial laws obviously do not apply. Most countries nevertheless saw the good sense in also applying the same ban to human experimentations. However, the possibility of doing so in animals and thus of using a magic forbidden to the imperial citizens was too good of an advantage to pass up. This has led to the creation of dangerous species for which the foreign armies have found many uses, from battlefield soldiers to ambush predators guarding the borders.   To not help matter, many foreign countries are always rushing to keep up with the imperial technological advancement, and as a consequence they have suffered many industrial disasters. The magical and chemical pollutions released during those have ensured the further twisting of the mutated animals and their escape in the wild. In countries like Sanne, you never quite know on what you might fall if you wander outside of the cities...
    A sudden chirp startled Hélène, and her head swirled towards the opened window of the hotel room. A tiny fluffy bird was sat there, looking all cute and colourful. This kind of chiffchaff cousin met her gaze and cooed, skittering a little closer. Hélène's hand rose towards it, before she jumped back.   That damn—Of course no animal was safe in Sanne! Even every random bird had to have some mind-control magic! The thing was undoubtedly a carnivorous monsters hiding hundreds of teeth in its small beak—which in fact, looks far too sharp to be harmless...   Seeing her move away, the tiny horror protested loudly and flapped its wings. Hélène stiffened, but the bird's movements triggered some sparkles over the window as it came too close. An invisible ward. Hélène slowly released her breath. She was safe—so long as she didn't stray too close. The Sanniens were not as stupid as they seemed.   Still, morbid curiosity kept her rooted to her spot until she understood exactly what the danger was. Her answer came in the form of a big crow suddenly plunging beak first from above with clear murderous intents.   For all that it seemed clumsy, the chiffchaff was damn fast. Too fast for Hélène to follow what happened, but between one second and the next, it was a feet to the side and the crow was laying on the windowsill, dazed and confused. Rather than use the occasion to escape, the chiffchaff rushed forwards and rubbed itself on its would-be predator. Which promptly dropped unconscious.   Oh. Poisonous feathers.   And then the dreaded teeth made their apparance.   Hélène shuddered. What a lovely country Sanne was.
    Example of species
    Carnivorous locust: a foot-long insect with sharp teeth. They communicate together by releasing pheromoens in the air, with one controlling their dispersion vs swarm formation behaviour and another preventing them from turning cannibalistic on each other. Biomages have mutated these pheromones to control them and trigger the instant formation of a huge murderous swarm upon them detecting the presence of humans not carrying a specific artefact. Terrible Mantis: an ambush predators camouflaged to look like the mutated flowers of the forest in which they live. Once a prey is within their reach, they strike in a fraction of a second to seize it and bite its head off. They have been mutated to be 3-m tall and to attack all humans not carrying a specific artefact and are used to guard the Sannian border.
    Sannian bioengineered carnivorous locust by AmélieIS
    Sannian bioengineered gigantic mantis by AmélieIS
    Poisonous birds: small cute fluffy birds. They look to be a perfect meat source while travelling through the forest, but the pollution of the forest has mutated them and their feathers now carry a neurotoxin that can paralyse in seconds—letting feathers drift down in the wind until they hit prey is the perfect hunting tactic. Some city dwelling subspecies have developped weak mind-control abilities and rely on tricking humans with their cuteness. Evil fish: the main guardians of the Sannian river borders; they communicate together with bioluminescence. They have been mutated so that they can live in the magic-resistant waters, getting the necessary magic thanks to their teeth allowing them to absorb the magic of the flesh in which they bite. This makes them a beloved torture method of the Sannian army and of many criminal groups, and so many subspecies have been created to carry fun endotoxins in their teeth.
    Sannian bioengineered poisonous bird by AmélieIS
    Sannian bioengineer fish by AmélieIS
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    Cover image: Sannian bioengineered poisonous bird by AmélieIS


    Author's Notes

    The fish is a mix between bristlemouth/anglemouth and an eel, the mantis is a gigantic orchid mantis, The bird's shape is that of a common chiffchaff, while its poisonous feathers are inspired from the Hooded Pitohui bird. The locust's behaviour is inspired by real locusts' pheromones.   Written for Catoblepon's unofficial fauna challenge.

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    May 22, 2023 13:57 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

    Absolutely horrifying, but also so much possibility for stories here. XD

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    May 22, 2023 18:00 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    Thanks for the comment :D Yes, that's where my MC is going to spend the first 25% of the novel in my current plans :p Lots of fun possibilities...

    Jun 22, 2023 10:40 by Catoblepon

    This is a cool article. I love how you mentioned biological dangers and how it was prohibited (and dealt with). I love how the mutations don't straight effect the animal but changes the descendants, modifying all cells in a creature would be too much work! Great work :D

    Visit Daeliha, Iphars, Khulgran & Shattered
    Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
    My world Shattered won as the "Most ground-breaking premise new world"!
    Jun 22, 2023 11:37 by Catoblepon

    The reading was so good that I forgot to drop the badge! Thanks for participating! Here's your badge <3

    [img/:4602291] (Make sure to take out the / to get the badge to display)

    Visit Daeliha, Iphars, Khulgran & Shattered
    Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
    My world Shattered won as the "Most ground-breaking premise new world"!
    Jun 22, 2023 13:35 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    Thanks :D Very nice and à propos badge, that bird does look evil XD

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