by Max Barry

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National Animal - Feathered Eels

The mysterious, immortal creatures known as Feathered Eels are the national animal of Tethys 13, and are an indispensable part of the nation's culture and technology. In the immature universe created to trap the old Armada of the Tethysi, there was a being known as the Celestial Serpent, large enough to ring a galaxy. No warrior could slay it, and only the mightiest could give it the slightest injury. In the apocalyptic battle at that war's end, the Celestial Serpent absorbed the power of countless omnipotent multiversal beings, and when it was finally slain, the Feathered Eels were born. Saturated with the divine power of symbolism, these creatures took the form of a primeval ancestor of dragons. Immortal, impervious to harm and an embodiment of rebirth, they now swim through the waters contained within the Grand Libraries, seeing no need to interact with others. Some have wondered if they even possess sentience, though the truth is impossible to know. If they can communicate, they have never chosen to.

In terms of appearance, they are serpentine eels each with six long, slender wings. Though these wings have quills, they are not truly feathers - to the touch, they are far closer to fins. They live cyclic lives, growing and shedding their feathers and mucous over many years until they reach truly terrifying lengths upwards of a kilometre. At this point they shed once more, only this time emerging only a metre long, their youth restored.

The Tethysi care for the Feathered Eels, cleaning and grooming them. The benefit they gain is that the cast-off materials of the Feathered Eels are rich in symbolic power, which the Tethysi forge into their greatest creations, such as their weapons and armour.

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