A short fictional history explaining mythological creatures.
| “The source of most mythological creatures is related through stories of gods, demons, and other beings creating them. The truth is only known in a few small circles. The truth is that almost all mythological creatures were created by alchemists when they still ruled. Alchemy is currently defined as 'a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.' The true aim of alchemists was only the third part of this. All alchemists aimed to “create an undying body that could take any form through the transmutation of both organic and inorganic materials, both living and nonliving.” The goal was to become a perfect homunculus.
The second problem is that transmutation is defined as 'the conversion of one element or nuclide into another either naturally or artificially.' The definition as used by alchemists is 'the conversion or combination of one or more parts, be it organic, inorganic, living, or nonliving, to create a new substance, falling in one of the four previous categories, that is not any of the original parts.' Thus the first attempts truly resulted in the changing of elements into other elements.
Many of the humanoid mythological beings were created by alchemists attempting to create the homunculus by combining humans and animals. The first of these was the centaur. An attempt at giving humans the speed and power of horses resulted instead in a new creature that could neither change its shape nor live indefinitely. Centaurs speed and power not only transferred to the body though. It grew into their minds, giving them enhanced wisdom and thought capacity. Centaurs had vast amounts of knowledge and wisdom, and perfected many things that humans had begun, though never alchemy. Centaurs avoided alchemy and alchemists, deeming it unwise to attempt to achieve immortality.
Another result was the lamia. Strangely, the combination went more smoothly than with horses. Lamias are part snake part human, though always female. Any attempts to create male lamias ended in failure. Lamias gained several enhancements due the combination. Most obvious are the powerful bodies of snakes that have an enhanced bone structure allowing for easy movement, and venomous bites. Less conventional is the lamia's ability to hypnotize and charm its prey. Against males, lamias use their natural shape and the movements of their bodies to charm men into a sense of security. Against females it involves the swaying of the body as created by snake charmers and hypnotic gaze due to the shape of the lamia's eyes. In the case of lamia's few remember meeting them due to the hypnosis. On the rare occasion that people do remember their encounters with lamias, it is usually because the lamia fell in love.
An even more complete combination was the minotaur. Fusing a bull with a human created an immensely powerful body and the ability to live for uncountable generations. The downfall was that a large amount of intelligence was lost in the process. Because of this minotaurs were often used as guards. Using short commands and rewards, a minotaur could be trained to obey a single master, creating a cheap and nearly unbeatable guardian. As long as they were not placed in positions where they could be outsmarted, minotaurs proved vastly useful despite the fact that they were not even close to the desired homunculus.
There are many more part human creatures that were created in the attempt to create a homunculus. Several alchemists gave up on that route and decided to transmute only animals and attempt to embed their own minds into the resulting body. Griffins were the most successful of these attempts. By combing the eagle and lion, a body was made that lived centuries, and was nearly indestructible. While it could not change shape, it was a highly useful body. The ability to fly coupled with the power of the king of beasts was a strong lure to many alchemists. The alchemists successful lived extremely long lives and became intelligent beyond human understanding. Unfortunately, such long lives often became boring and Griffins looked for ways to make it interesting. Due to their intelligence it led to the liking of riddles. Many griffins were known to wait in passes and force travelers to play games of riddles with them. The losers were often never seen again.
Another such combination was Cerberus. The attempt was to expand a dogs life by combining the life forces, thus extending the lifespan of a single dog to the lifespan of several. It was going to be a precursor to using the tactic on humans. The resulting creature lived many times longer than humans, much less dogs, but also combined the physicals aspects too. This was unsuitable to alchemists, who immediately discarded the idea, not wanting to share eternity stuck with others.
The alchemists who continued to combine humans and animals began to look for ways to cause the animal DNA to lay dormant except when desired. The first result failed entirely and created vampires. Vampires are not truly immortal. They live for as long as they can consume the plasma from blood. A normal body has a limited number of times it can produce living cells. Vampires can produce a limitless number of new cells as long as they have enough plasma. On the downside, a vampire can produce no new cells without plasma. This creates a nearly uncontrollable desire for blood. The DNA did remain partially dormant, but when called upon was too strong and caused the person to transform into a vampire bat entirely. Many alchemists decided this was as close as they could get and turned themselves into vampires.
The second attempt was with wolves, and was both more and less successful. This time alchemists looked for a trigger to unleash the DNA. This held the animal DNA in check at all times as long as the trigger wasn't released. Werewolves were the result of this attempt. By using the change in fluctuation of the light of the moon as the trigger, alchemists were able to create a body that lived many times longer and was much stronger that could be controlled without fear of accidentally setting off the animal DNA. The trigger was only strong enough to be activated by a full moon. Unfortunately, when this happened the wolf DNA was often too strong and overpowered the human half of the DNA. Very few alchemists were stable when transformed, and many people today are werewolf descendants. This explains why activity on the full moon nights is different from any other night. The DNA is extremely diluted to the point that no transformation occurs, but instincts and feelings are activated by the light of the full moon. This is why criminals are more active, men are braver, and couples find the full moon romantic. The animal DNA boosts these feelings when triggered. However this was not the homunculus either.
It remains unknown whether or not any alchemists actually developed a homunculus. After a while, all the alchemists had either transmuted themselves, or been killed by their creations or victims of their creations. Alchemy and its goal faded from history, along with many of the transmutation processes. How do we know about this then? While the alchemists themselves are gone, there was a group of people who remembered them. That group is Novo. For some time now Novo has attempted to recreate the lost arts of alchemy, and has succeeded in several experiments as well as discovering other uses for alchemy and new methods of transmutation. And obviously you all know that Novo has now opened a very selective school for training alchemists, seeing as you are all here in my class.” The instructor gestured to the students sitting before him as he summed up his lecture. “You should also know that while alchemy continues to be researched for ways to effect people, it has become strictly forbidden to experiment in creating new forms of life.”
Kyrian rolled his eyes as he leaned forward to rest his chin on his fists. It was common knowledge to anybody who had even the slightest inkling of alchemy that new life research had been disallowed after a few alchemists had been caught attempting to create combat capable lifeforms. A very few had gotten loose and that had been the end of the alchemists and several hundred uninformed. “Despite the fact that most of the alchemists around the world agree on this, there are alchemists who insist on finding the homunculus and becoming it, thus the reason for this school. Here you will all learn to master your alchemy so that you can use it in combat against the creations of these madmen.”