I know there's a similar question on here about angels, but my character isn't really the same in terms of wings. These wings are insect-like and are based on dragonfly wings (mostly appearance-wise, not necessarily function). They are attached to certain muscles in the back as well as bones or cartilage (I believe that if they were not, the wings would not be able to realistically stay attached in flight), and that they reach from the shoulder blades to the hips, as well as having skin growing along the base of the wings. I suppose you could think of them as a larger-than-human fairy.

A huge part of their backstory is that their wings were ripped off, and while I have the emotional impact of it down, I'm not sure what the physical effects would be. What I am most concerned with is the nature of the wound. I am unsure of the severity, and even more unsure of the healing process and lasting effects on the body such as possible paralysation or use of the arms.

While some things are clearly unrealistic (it's fantasy after all), I'd like to keep the effects of such a wound like this realistic.

  • $\begingroup$ What about not ripped off, but just cut or broken? So all bones and muscles stay in place. It wold have even greater physical effect - since creature stil can move stumps $\endgroup$ – ksbes Sep 30 '20 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ What happens if your arms are ripped off seems like a reasonable analogy. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Sep 30 '20 at 14:31

They'd constantly be bleeding magic.

I'm fairly certain that insect wings sized the way you've described them wouldn't be capable of allowing a human-sized or -shaped creature to fly without magic, simply due to the square-cube law. Wings need to be significantly larger than the body in order for flight to be possible, and your wings are smaller than the body, instead.

So, if the wings are required for flight, then they have to act as some sort of conductor or amplifier for the use of magic; something about the wings causes magic to flow through them and enable flight. With the wings removed, the magic is likely to still be getting pumped out of the body, but without the wings to hold it in, the magic simply bleeds away into the environment.

  • $\begingroup$ Or conversely, the wings usually draw magic from the being to work, and the loss of the wings means the being has potentially dangerous or useful levels of magic building up. If useful, it should be unstable. If harmful, the effect would likely lessen over time as the processing of magic changed in the body. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Sep 30 '20 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ would probably also bleed blood $\endgroup$ – Topcode Sep 30 '20 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I probably should have mentioned that the wings are indeed larger than the body. Their appearance is modelled after a dragonfly’s, but their size is quite large. It’s funny that you mention magic bleeding out of the body, since that’s actually what happens in a way! The wings have magic funnelled through them into the body from an outside source but once they are removed, they can’t receive it anymore. Since magic in this world is a life force, it is continuously consumed by the body until nothing is left. $\endgroup$ – Alex Sep 30 '20 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex So do your crippled fairies slowly wither and die? Healing would likely consume their life force and they would be dead - no "after" to discuss. Or do they have stubs enough to live? Alternative (vampiric?) sources? Or is it more of a "was immortal, now mortal" kind of thing? $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Sep 30 '20 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus Yes, more a 'was immortal, now mortal' type of thing, but their lifespan is cut down to only ten (fifteen, if they're lucky) years after the removal of wings. $\endgroup$ – Alex Sep 30 '20 at 19:45

Anything you want:

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. The nature of physiological response is extremely variable, and depends greatly on a very large number of factors. How did the limb get removed? Many types of injuries resulting in these injuries result in numerous other injuries. If your fairy was captured and mutilated on purpose, they likely suffered other traumatic injuries.

What is the vasculation of the area damaged? What do the muscles involved attach to? A dragonfly wing is unlikely to have extensive vasculation, and slicing them off cleanly while leaving a stump would probably have minimal effects. Ripping them out of the sockets is likely to cause so much traumatic tissue damage that massive blood loss may occur, as multiple tissues are torn apart. The fairy may suffer cognitive deficiencies due to extended periods with inadequate blood supply to keep the brain alive.

Infection kills most people in these situations. The more traumatic the injury, the higher the likelihood of infection. Gangrene and necrotizing fasciitis can take a wound and make it deadly. This could be how your fairy lost it's wings, if an infection were not dealt with (but would be unlikely to affect both wings at once).

If the musculature of the fairy has the two wings working together, the loss of one wing could be problematic, as the resonances needed for flight wouldn't work but (for example) the remaining wing might spontaneously vibrate, causing excruciating pain as damaged muscles try responding.

Healing at the site may be problematic. In the case of the loss of a boney limb, bony growths may appear as the limb attempts to regrow while lacking the underlying extracellular substrate. Follow-up surgeries are often needed so the stump doesn't have jagged bony growth inside causing excruciating pain. What the fairy has is uncertain. Perhaps they spontaneously grow tiny, malformed wing material that must be removed, or they might have none of that. They may have a grotesque version of the wing grow back, making them appear deformed. It's up to you.

Something a lot of people don't thing about is phantom limb syndrome. The mind and body are still anticipating the presence of the lost limb, and people can experience sensations like pain or itching in a place where they have no limb.


Likely they'd bleed to death, but saving that, there may be significant neurological damage and a phantom limb like effect.


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