by Max Barry

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4

The Diseases and Illnesses of Arkonos

Introduction

From the dawn of history, tales of werebeasts and witches were of common occurrence, with many a story of Barbarian chieftains having been lycanthropes. When Heaven was opened, and its horrors unleashed, Tara and Taint and Vampirism ravaged the land: an apocalyptic ravaging of the world. Death himself walked amongst mankind. But, these were not mere myths, but the reality of the magics that had pooled into the very heart of the Earth, emboldened by Kostuan Hubris. Listed off are the many magical diseases that haunt Arkonos, Categorized by Doctor and Witch Hunter extraordinaire Eberar Ferias, by severity of the disease, and cautions that a fellow Witch Hunter should take when hunting certain carriers.

The Tara

"A Wretched thing, the Tara. I had seen it spread, like a plague across many a village, only for it to subside, and those affected having to continue working as if nothing happened. Flulike symptoms, we can only be thankful that the Tara is one of the safer diseases to have been created from the sundering." - Eberar Ferias, Doctor


The effects of the Tara

Little is known of the Tara, even 300 years after its sudden appearance. From initial onset, it looked to be the after effects of those who survived the Taint, but documentation and recent evidence has found no such correlation beyond the similar changes to appearance. when the Sundering had begun, the Tara was falsely labeled as a "Magic disease," as it seemed to only target mages. either this was to try and hold together the Kostuan Empire from almost total revolt, or was simple misinformation. Either way, the label was proven false quite quickly, with many towns and cities being overwhelmed by the Tara. The effects were, indeed, so similar to the Taint, that many victims of it were simply left for dead, as many didn't know of how easily it could be cared for.

The affliction makes itself known by symptoms like; sudden onset of fever and chills, headache, weakness, nausea and vomiting as well as difficulty breathing. Once the fever have set in it ravages its victim for two to three days before subsiding. Once clear of the fever the victim of the illness will remain weakened, although recovering, for an uncertain amount of time that may vary between one week to a month. During recovery the person suffering from the disease will start to develop the signs of the affliction that will forever mark the individual as a Tara.

Those that suffer from the accursed affliction showcases clear physical signs such as milky pale and frail skin. Flakes of peeling and dry skin prone to cracking and injury. Dark bags under the eyes, loss of hair, sensitivity to light or sounds and blood shot eyes. Those marked with Tara appears to many as were they the living dead and some react to it like if it were equal to Leprosy. Those marked with Tara, although slightly weakened when compared to the average man, doesn’t suffer any further ailment from the disease other than its physical appearance. Those that survive the fever and develop the physical disfiguration will still be able to live a life natural in length. Every Race on Arkonos can be infected by the Tara, with similar outcomes for all of them. Aitherioi, a seemingly magical race on Arkonos, is doubly affected by it, with the two even sharing the same flaking skin, though they don't suffer the same permanent ailments as the other who are.

Outbreaks of the Tara are seldom seen nowadays, with it only generally flaring up in several cities or villages before dying down. Doctors not having been already infected by the Tara are advised to remain outside of the settlement to advise families on how to care for family affected by the disease, or should they have to enter, wear a proper plague outfit as precaution. Witch Hunters need not hunt those affected by the Tara, as they will remain sane and just- if a bit stirred by their newfound affliction.


The Taint

"The Taint, a scourge created by laughing gods and a mad Emperor. During the Sundering, it spread and spread, until finally it stopped; Those infected died, and its trail of the apocalypse, stopped. Now, it only flairs up once in a while, and the death count makes all shudder. " - Eberar Ferias, Doctor


It's common to see empty streets when the Taint has come to town

While the Tara is easily cared for and those infected can live normal lives fairly easily, those infected with the taint flip a coin every day, and either lived or died. The taint came with the Sundering of Kostua, just as the Tara had, but its effects are far more severe, and it spread even farther and more rapidly then the Tara ever did. It targeted rich and poor alike, and left whole cities devoid of life, and only stopped when the Empire had already collapsed and years of anarchy began. It caused an Apocalypse, with Nations needing to respond quickly to flares of Taint, or elsewise see it continue on for miles.

The symptoms are as follows; a rakish cough and fever, lasting through the entirety of the Taint. Vomiting and Diarrhea being the main issues of it, with blood or matter alike being common issue. Pain and spasms make it impossible to be able to work, leaving those infected bedridden, needing constant care to even hope to see sunset. The Taint has been found to spread even more quickly in cities and towns, in part to a lack of care for the fodder that is haphazardly left in the streets, citizens unwittingly contaminating the wells and waterworks with the disease even further.

Should the infected somehow survive such a horrid disease after several days, it will dissipate into a lesser form as the Tara, before disappearing completely. as such, the victim will still be scarred, though they'll have experienced something far worse than simply the Tara. Spasms and sudden pains may continue for several months before disappearing entirely, but those infected are able to return to work as needed, as those spasms and pains are far less harmful than when they were infected. All are able to be infected by the taint. Aitherioi lacking entries and exits do not have to deal with the more disgusting elements of the taint, but are still hypersensitive being magical, and can die just as everyone else does.

Doctors are cautioned to even approach during an outbreak of the taint. It is advised for the Doctor to work with local guard forces to close off travel from the location as to halt the spread of it. If a Doctor is brave enough, they may wear their plague outfit and work as needed, for the local nobility or peasantry. Witch Hunters shouldn't approach either, as Taint doesn't cause any malevolent effects beyond the killing of its victim, and the Witch Hunter would be unable to help either way.


Vampirism

"Vampirism. Perhaps the scariest thing I had seen in all my years of Witch hunting. When I entered this crypt, I saw it: a husk of a man, ribcage visible. His eyes were as red as blood, and his teeth were daggers, and brown in color. When I saw more crimson eyes behind him, I ran and hid in a tomb, and barely closed the heavy door behind me before they arrived. If I make it out of here alive, my days of hunting are over, no matter what my fellows say. " - Eberar Ferias, Witch Hunter


A human infected with Vampirism after having died, and then risen again

Vampirism came with the Sundering, as Tara and Taint both had. It is transmitted not through coughs, but through the blood or saliva of another, or bad ground water if its not spread through another. Unlike those of Tara and Taint though, Vampirism is perhaps the cruelest. Beginning with Tara like effects, the parasites quickly broaden their horizons. They begin to pick at the brain, slowly, but steadily, for decades. During these early stages, the victim gains hypersensitive metabolism, requiring feasts daily to maintain themselves. Yet, only the richest are able to afford such a diet, and as such, those infected slowly wither, perhaps not dying so quickly, yet become husks of what they once were. The Parasites rapidly multiply, yet still only just barely pick at the brain of the Victim, before eventually, they die.

With the last resistance to their transformation finally gone, the Parasites take over the body. The Victim rises again, but not the same as they once were. They are now insane. Monstrous. They hunger for the flesh of their fellow man, seeking nothing more but to feast upon the bones and blood of those they had once known as kith and kin. While their condition had made them deathly skinny, they are faster and stronger in death. They too do not fear death, willing to throw themselves at anything they see, wanting to feed and devour like it hadn't in life. A Vampire. Their teeth begin to grow out of control, needing to bite upon bone or rock to keep them sharp and strong. Their ears are stretched, and they can both smell and hear from quite a distance away. Their eyesight, luckily, is worse off, as they are clouded over. Their Hands as well are weapons; Nails have been replaced with claws meant to pierce and tear. Eventually, the Vampire will die, and its body will begin to rot and decay, infecting any person or liquid it touches with its festering parasite, continuing the process.

There are two types of "Cultures" for Vampires. They are defined as Vampires who are able to live for longer than a week, unlike those who turn in a major city. Woodland Vampires are those who were abandoned in the woods by family or close friends, or were killed there. They are almost wanderers, going cave to cave to find any animal they can run down to make a quick dish. They are known to strike at lonesome caravans at night, making a mockery of those unprepared for the night. They are known to strike quickly, and are hard to be tracked by Witch Hunters as they move from cave to cave at a frightening pace. They are however, alone, and so can easily be taken down by being flanked.

Hive Vampires are the worst of these two cultures . The Superstitious village folk may simply throw or bury the Vampire within the village crypt, too scared of their old friends seeming transformation. Down in the Crypts, the Vampire stalks, feasting on rats and bones. Sometimes, someone visits the Crypt, and it either kills and eats them, or infects them were they to escape. They too eventually are thrown down into the Crypt once they perish, continuing this growth. If a Witch Hunter is not called at this point, things can begin to spiral out of control. The Vampires in the Crypt, seeing themselves as a common parasite and wishing to spread, begin dividing it up among themselves, with some even fighting over certain patches. When enough Vampires have gathered, two to three dozen perhaps, they charge out of the Crypt, and begin to butcher the village. In the end, almost all of the Village is converted to vampirism or killed, with the vampires stalking the village streets in triumph. An entire company of Witch Hunters must now be hired to deal with the problem, as the problem has now clearly gone out of control.

Everyone but Aitherioi can be infected with Vampirism, as Aitherioi lack a brain for the parasite to feast on. Doctors will have a hard time distinguishing between Tara and Vampirism, but can look out for clear signs; It is easy to detect if one has Vampirism if they are thin and gaunt, even whilst being fed reasonable proportions for weeks. a decay in awareness is also a clear sign of Vampirism as they get slowly lobotomized. It is recommended to wear a plague suit while all this is happening, but it is recommended to restrict the victim in some way, and burn them. Through magic or oil, the Victim must be burned to stop its spread. Witch Hunters too must apply a similar process when hunting the Vampire down. Vampires are known to be weak to Antirium, so Antirium crossbow bolts or bullets are advised. After killing the beast, burn it too so it may not spread. With the corpse now thoroughly burned and no signs of liquid visible, the village should now be safe from at least one vampire.


Lycanthropy

"Werebeasts are numerous, and plague much of society. They attack at night, a pack of a dozen or more. They butcher villages, devouring and eating before returning to their camps. These people know of their disease, and instead of putting themselves out of their misery, bring misery to the commoner." - Eberar Ferias, Witch Hunter


A Werebeast, stalking a dazed guard

Unlike many of the magical Diseases that seem to plague Arkonos now, Lycanthropy was there first, from the beginning of history until now. spreading through saliva and blood just as Vampirism does, Lycanthropy is a great deal more safe for those who get infected, at least in the sense that they can live life to the fullest without worry of being a soulless husk. When Night comes however, the Victim may transform into a Werebeast, and become unable to control their senses. they will try and find something to kill, most commonly, another person. they will then kill and devour them, before either continuing to kill or retreating back to their home, where they will awaken in a daze a few hours later. The Victims are known to transform not just at night though, but when they are angered or fear for their life, they too may transform.

Early accounts of history recall of great warriors being Werebeasts, strong in battle. They were Berserkers, able to go into a rage whenever they wished. Whatever old accounts were like, times have changed. Whether it was the Sundering or always like this, the victim is unable to tell friend or foe apart, unless their friend is also a Werebeast. this is believed to be why those infected with Lycanthropy live together as almost tribal savages: they wear no fine clothing, cause they will eventually be ripped apart by their transformation. Instead, they wear simple rags or furs, making them almost fill in the myths perfectly. Whole Familes of Lycanthropes are known to form, all sharing the same disease. The appearance of a Werebeast is known to be different among the different races. Humans share the most common known form of the wolf, while Lopexi are known to be more like cats, and this continues on. Aitherioi lack blood, and so are unable to be transformed by Lycanthropy.

Doctors are advised not to even approach those they expect of Lycanthropy. with how volatile their transformation could be, the Doctor could be cut to pieces. Instead, Witch Hunters should deal with the matter through strengths of arms. Not only are Werebeasts weak to Antirium, as vampires are, they are also weak to silver. Silver bullets and crossbow bolts are advised to help weaken the Werebeast, as it triggers pain sensors to them making them reel from the pain. Halberds, poleaxes, and pikes are advised to keep distance from the Werebeast and to do considerably more damage than a short sword. Werebeasts are strong and quick, so close range fighting could be a death sentence, so keep your range. After they are killed, you shouldn't have to worry about Lycanthropy spreading unless you were bitten or scratched during the melee. In which case, it may be best to negotiate with your fellow hunters on how far you may run.


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