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Aesthetic Medicine by Sapphira

Runner-Up for June 2022

Aesthetic Medicine  - an entry for Magnagoran Reflections, "Medicine My Way", by Sapphira d'Vanecu.

When considering the topic of medicine, one would commonly expect terms such as healing and curing to arise, with medicine being a means of curing an ailment or repairing a wound. Though typically physical in nature, such things also apply to illnesses of one's mental faculties. What I wish to address, however, is medicinal restoration, used primarily for the purpose of appearance and aesthetics.

 Is a displeasing figure or face an illness to be cured? Many may argue that such is not the case, and finding disfigurement repulsive is sheer vanity. Perhaps so, but as a proud Magnagoran I take pride in my viscanti heritage and vanity is one of our most noble traditions, spurring on generations of refined, perfected beings. The physical, the external, should be cared for, polished and perfected, not just simply healed of particularly debilitating ailments.

 Being a city that excels in the necromantic arts, the question of how to stave off the inevitable decay of the flesh arises, in regards to both health and appearance, making this form of vanity more pressing than most mortals would experience. While studies continue into halting bodily decomposition, as of this writing, no method to completely stop or prevent decay has been discovered. This is where medicinal aesthetics come into play. Responsive rather than preventative, there are any number of tricks and treatments utilised by liches and the undead to maintain their physique in a visually pleasing way. This is my kind of medicine.

Results vary as wildly as the potions, tinctures and rituals used for beautification; from age-old family recipes passed down the generations and sworn to success, to modern innovations and comforting placebos. While discussing the feasibility of these methods is not the purpose of this article, it is interesting to delve into some of the details and as such I shall elaborate on a few notable methods of staving off putrefaction or enhancing one's physical beauty.

 Natural remedies are commonly used, not only throughout Magnagora to improve their undead, but also basin wide, where the living too try to stave off the effects of ageing. Herbs are a regular remedy - used on their own or in tinctures, both applied and ingested, all with the intention of slowing the ageing process, particularly relating to skin health and suppleness. Rosehips in food, or the oil as a topical treatment has presented reasonable results in the matter of reducing and diminishing the appearance of scars, and as such can have some cosmetic effect on the flesh of the undead as well as the living. Other herbs with a reputation for being similarly beneficial are basil, turmeric, and green tea.

A surprising inclusion on this list is a simple commodity used to preserve foods - salt. While there has not been an excess of documented research, it has been known to be used by liches suffering excessive decay, in an attempt to preserve what freshness remains within their undead bodies, much as one would preserve a cut of meat. I suspect that it does little to repair or positively alter the appearance but there is perhaps some logic behind its use. In a similar vein, ingredients common to the practice of embalming regularly can be found in beauty creams and lotions, such as resin, balsam, plant oils and fragrant spices like cinnamon and myrrh, all used in the hope to preserve and reverse the ravages of time upon the body. While many of these products and home-remedies focus on the skin, it is worth noting that many are also used to revitalise the hair and nails, while others aim to repair and preserve bones and teeth, such as sage and oregano. In other cases, many will opt for the use of false adornments like wigs to counter decay.

There is only one beauty product whose absolute success I can attest to, and that is the scientific creation invented by Latifa y'Bolgari. Utilising a combination of natural ingredients with necromantic components, she has created an oil which, when applied to the skin, invigorated and rejuvenates, restoring youth and life to even the most decrepit lich. Putting a great deal of importance into my own appearance, I have made the oil of ur'lai part of my regular beauty regime, as there is no comparable method I have found to date that has such a remarkable effect on my skin, and also my own vigour and vitality. Indeed, it seems to bolster the interior ego almost as well as the external figure. 

Unfortunately, there has yet to be discovered a permanent solution to prevent ageing or the decay of mortal flesh when rendered undead, or to completely turn back the hands of time and return the body to a younger, more aesthetically pleasing state. One can only hope that the Lady Latifa will continue her studies and have a breakthrough, with her most promising product only improving until necromancers can completely defy the shackles of the fates and the ceaseless pressure of time.