The flesh crafters are among the most feared and reviled practitioners of magic on Aua. Theirs is the aspect that has seen the most infamous and corrupt applications of its use. Flesh crafters aren’t all necessarily evil or corrupt though; it’s just that it’s the bad ones that make the biggest headlines.
Flesh crafting, also referred to (somewhat incorrectly) as the aspect of life, is the art of modifying the shapes of animals, up to and including members of the elven, human and anfylk race. It should be pointed out that dwarves, being mushrooms are not included, neither are the elven half-breeds as their essence is partially divine – if only very small parts.
Despite its bad reputation, flesh crafting is mainly used for good purposes within medicine. Flesh crafters are able to cure virtually any ailment in virtually any person of completely non-divine origin. The art of flesh crafting being an aspect of soul magic means the majority of the methods used can’t be copied or reproduced, even by the most skilled medical magicians, not to mention regular doctors or surgeons.
Like with other aspects of soul magic it’s possible for skilled and powerful magicians to produce similar results, but the skill and power required to do so are magnitudes higher. A moderately skilled flesh crafter is able to perform with ease surgical magic that even the most skilled of medical magicians would be hard pressed to reproduce. As with other aspects of soul magic this is due to the flesh crafters deep subconscious understanding of how the bodies of living beings work.
Flesh crafting is significantly less common than even lightbending and while those involved in medicine do their best to help as many patients as possible they are few and far between. Most nations won’t have even a single practicing flesh crafter within their borders and to enlist the services of one is extremely expensive. This isn’t to say the flesh crafters themselves are greedy and using their skills to make money; many of them will perform their service for the same price a regular doctor would, or even for free if the patient is one of limited means. In many cases there are significant circumstantial costs involved though. If a flesh crafter has to travel far to reach a patient that is a lot of time they’re not able to spend helping others.
Flesh crafters to travel to see far away patients though. They often spend a lot of time working, rarely taking days off and almost never going on vacation. Knowing you’re the only one with the ability to save lives can be mentally stressful, even for immortal elves with thousands of years of life experience. Every now and then it can be nice for them to be sent off for a couple of days just to visit a single patient.
Not all flesh crafters are hard work medical magicians though. Some of them spend their time with breeders, assisting or consulting in the creation of new improved breeds of animals. It’s among these few that the majority of the black sheep of the flesh crafters are found. Throughout history countless incidents of unethical flesh crafting has been unearthed and stopped.
Hideous creations, sometimes based on intelligent beings have been discovered and while it’s been possible to restore some of them to their original shape, most have had to be put down to end their suffering. In many of these cases the suffering isn’t physical; flesh crafters are able to shape the body of a person or animal while keeping it fully functional. What flesh crafters aren’t able to do is make the mind and soul of the being accept their new body. Once a body’s shape is modified beyond a certain point the difference between the beings self-image and reality becomes too big and the being becomes unable to function normally. This inability to function is caused by the mind disconnecting from the body. At first this only affects higher motor functions such as walking or running, but eventually it will start to affect basic automatic functions such as breathing or digestion. This is a horrible and painful experience and subjects will generally go mad before they die from the inability to control their own bodies.
While the results of these procedures are horrible they are also the reasons flesh crafters keep attempting these transformations. It’s a challenge of sorts to try and overcome the disconnection between mind and body. To be able to retain the connection between body and mind in a heavily modified body is seen as the ultimate achievement of flesh crafting; it is believed that discovering how to do it would yield significant scientific progress and answer many questions about the very nature of life. So far no one has succeeded and the only results that have been produced are the poor mad wretches that are the failed experiments.
The flesh crafters pursuing this type of experiments are one of the main reasons that despite thousands of years of coexisting with them humans are still wary, suspicious and even hostile towards elves. While being a definite minority, even among flesh crafters, the stories of their deeds are many and damning. It’s a clear-cut case of the actions of few ruining the reputation of many.