The Era of Unlife
Dark Tides are Stirring in the North…
It began as quiet rumors, whispers among the commoners about ritual sightings in the night and cultists in the shadows. Robed figures congregating in wooded areas, alley ways, cellars, and graveyards became a common sight for a few months. Soon, these sightings diminished to none and all seemed to go quiet again.
Peace and a freedom from worry was upon us until the start of last month, when a mysterious illness had been the headline of the Steed and Mead Courier, smaller settlements in the North were struggling with this sickness. It spread like wildfires across the dry Southern plains with a disturbing virulence. The infected succumbed to the sickness in a matter of days after contracting it.
The illness would render it’s victims weak and lethargic on day one with little other indications of infection.
Day three would consist of cramping muscles, bleeding ears, nose and gums, paleness, cold diaphoretic skin, and the inability to fall asleep.
When the fourth day struck, the receding of the gums was significantly noticeable, the hemorrhaging was a slow consistent flow from various orifices and the eyes were so bloodshot it made the victim look as if they were touched by a demon.
Most commonly reported on the night of the fifth day, the veins of the infected would become visible through the skin and display a dark discoloring. This disturbing appearance caused many to distance themselves from the sick by locking them away and checking on them periodically. Many believed it to be a form of possession and sought the cleansing light of local the Templar and clergymen. This, however, was a futile effort.
On the morning of the sixth day of infection, the rambling, restlessness, sporadic movements ceased. The illness had induced a state of complete silence, the eyes of the victim would remain wide open preventing most from labeling this as a coma. All signs of life, other than a faint breath and heartbeat were void of the infected at this point.
One week after infection, hours after the seemingly statuesque state, growling and gurgling could be heard coming from the infected’s quarters. The gnashing of teeth and shallow breaths through liquid filled lungs was enough for most to barricade the infected within. Others were unfortunate enough to suffer death at the claws and jaws of what was once their loved ones.
An Epidemic Quietly Reaches Across The North…
The plague hadn’t traveled to any major settlements within the first week, but it did manage to cover each of the villages and port towns along the Northern coast. Kogthiirn’s Lookout seemed to be the origin of the plague, which was rumored to have spread through the various trader camps that populated The Hills of Blue. The Couriers were coincidentally on site at Guhn Stomdale when a caravan carrying a single infected child purchased beds in the tavern for the night.
“The sick child, pale skin with redened eyes and sweating profusely, insisted on making contact with everyone he laid eyes on. Approaching them and making meaningless small talk or even going as far as patting others on the shoulders and grabbing people’s hands. I was sure to steer clear the youngster, as I recognized disease on his person and couldn’t help but feel very uneasy about his presence.”
-Excerpt from Steed and Mead Courier’s initial issue on the sighting of this disease
Travel across the peninsula was rapid with the trade caravans and ensured the spread of plague. After week one, after the Courier’s release of their initial sighting, after many had fallen contracted this mysterious disease, death and reanimation sent chills down the spine of Aethern. Word had not reached Riek’s Hill of the final stage of infection, they had only just experienced their first outbreak. Unlike the smaller settlements, Riek’s Hill authority met the appearance of the plague with immediate quarantine and lock down of their city. The large stone walls and reinforced gates around the tower on the top of the hill had sealed shut, entrapping the many homes, businesses, schools, and guilds of the city while ensuring the plague does not further penetrate it’s high walls. The quarantine contained only about two dozen citizens after a thorough investigation and hunt was conducted. The infected were found, restrained, and locked in a large barred room within the tower’s dungeon.
Meanwhile, the settlements on the peninsula and the Northern coast were decimated, the fires stopped burning and the smoke cleared only to reveal vacant streets and charred corpses.
Ignorance Is Bliss, Until The Snarling Maw of The Matter Happens Upon You…
Many adventurers that were scouring the wilds, delving the depths of ruins and dungeons, exploring caves and hidden grottos, managed to avoid the outbreak of plague while it ravaged others. Whilst performing quests and treasure hunts away from civilization, they had completely missed the news and carried on with their business…
That is until those plague walkers, shambling aimlessly then amassing into mobs and hordes with no direction, happened upon the locations of these adventurers and mercenaries. Dungeons were flooded with the infected in the midst of being cleared of other monsters. It took only a glimpse of life for the hordes to relentlessly pursue their victims into even the furthest depths of the most complex cavern systems and the largest of dungeons.
Our heroes are two brothers in arms that begin this adventure while investigating the abandonment of a temple that sat just inside the border of the forest at the edge of The Hills of Blue. Bound by contract and the promise of a heavy sack of gold, they took up the task of revealing what caused the priests and priestesses to completely abandon their holy place of worship.