Pale Plague

The horror of the Pale Plague is known all too well to the people of the Broken Kingdom. The pale plague began decades ago in remote settlements all along the southern coast, and thus far no reliable cure has been forthcoming. Thankfully the spread of the plague is slow, but in recent years the number of victims has leapt up alarmingly, and entire communities are set aside in the larger cities of the south to segregate the plague’s victims.

In the first stage of the plague its victim becomes very pallid, and can no longer stand to be exposed to direct sunlight, needing to move about in the shade. In the early stages victims tend to move about with parasols or in heavy, covering clothing. As well as their skin, their eyes become very sensitive to light. By the second stage the victim’s skin becomes luminescent, their eyes darken and they are rendered totally hairless. They also become markedly physically weaker, and they eat far less than is healthy. Generally they are segregated from the rest of their community by this stage, and move about during the dawn and evening in heavy robes, using sticks to walk and keeping their eyes downcast. At some point during the second stage the victim also begins wandering, without memory or coherency, usually in their sleep, but sometimes during wakefulness. Victims also become delusional and begin talking to themselves, muttering under their breath, and constantly convinced that they are being followed.

By the final stage of the disease the victim’s skin is paper thin and almost transparent. Their eyes turn totally black and they cannot stand even the dimmest light. Generally they are completely unable to move, too weak to even raise their arms, and the lapses of memory and waking nightmares that they descend into become more and more frequent, their memories seem almost completely gone. Eventually the victim weakens and dies. The entire illness can last anywhere from four months to six years, and some plague colonies are large enough to form entire communities.

However the most unusual manifestation of the plague, and that which leads healers to link the ailment with the vengeance of the shades, is that no victim of the plague can stand to enter a temple or be exposed to a relic or hear a prayer. Their reaction to such religious ritual is violent. Occasionally the disease will enter a fourth stage if the victim manages to survive the first three, though documented cases are extremely rare. Though they continue to be sensitive to light and they retain their strange appearance they otherwise make a full recovery, some victims even appearing stronger and faster then before the sickness. They seem to be unable to become sick, and they fell little or no pain. Direct exposure to light burns their skin terribly though. Their memories remain almost gone, but their lapses of reason cease. Victims surviving into this forth stage can live for another ten years, but even they eventually succumb to the lonely death of the pale plague.