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Selkie

Symptoms

Those born with this affliction must inhabit the sea for half of their time and land for half of their time. If sufferers do not return to the sea or land often enough, they develop painful sores that cause risk of infection and death. However, a sufferer cannot simply go to the sea, but instead must first find their skin, which is shed when they return to land. The skin does not rot if the owner is still alive, but instead acts almost as a preserved skin when not being worn. As soon as the owner drapes it over themself and returns to the sea, however, they are transformed into a seal. Though they inhabit a seal's body, the sufferer retains their human memories and knowledge.   When returning to land, the skin falls off and they regain their human form. The skin must be kept safe, however, as damage to the skin can result in the sufferer being unable to properly return to the sea. Selkies usually maintain seaside caves and caverns to store their skin safely.

Prognosis

Though life looks quite different from those without this condition, sufferers can and have lived long and happy lives. This condition has persisted in this area for so long that sufferers see themselves as almost a different species entirely, and have little semblance of what life looked like for their ancestors before this curse was laid upon them.

History

It is widely believed that the origin of this curse is from late in the Second or early in the Third Era, however the specifics are unknown. At this time, the dominant religion in this area of Nephemir was Hurism. Carvings in ruins only hint at what incurred Oarsis' anger, but a curse was laid on the nation's inhabitants to remind them of their dependence on the seasonal influx of fish from the sea and other things she did for them.   Over the centuries, the afflicted people learned to cope with their condition. While it provides its challenges, it is not the deadly curse initially intended.

Cultural Reception

Selkies inhabit the western coastline of Nephemir, and various areas have different perceptions of sufferers. In certain areas, selkies are respected and seen as strange and exotic visitors. In other areas, they are feared and seen as heretical, especially in deeply Treist areas.   A famous tale in which a sailor forces a selkie to marry him by stealing her skin. However, when she develops sores all over her body, he is disgusted and returns her skin to her. She then proceeds to drown him while he is fishing. This is likely a true tale with some embellishments, though it is a common motif in stories involving selkies.

Type
Divine
Origin
Divine
Cycle
Chronic, Congenital
Rarity
Rare
Affected Species

Life at Sea

Though selkies sleep and rest on land, they spend much of their time at sea. This time includes namely fishing and evading predators, though some areas have enlisted the help of those on land to purpose build structures so selkies can do more "normal" human activities while at sea. For example, vast underwater libraries have been constructed north of the Osina Peninsula wherein stories have been carved into massive boulders that were then dropped into the ocean. These can be read by finding the title stone and swimming with the current. In other areas, walls of stones have been built with tunnels to allow only selkies through, creating safe spaces free of ocean-dwelling predators.

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Cover image: Cloudy Beach Waves by Activedia

Comments

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22 Jun, 2019 02:20

I think you handled this nicely. :) Thank you for sharing. It's short and sweet, but still interesting. Love the nod to real myths too.

22 Jun, 2019 02:52

Thank you very much! I wish you luck with your own shapeshifters! I'll be excited to see them!

22 Jun, 2019 04:01

You're quite welcome! Thanks, I'll need the luck. :)