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Golden malaise

Considered by some a curse from the gods to punish greed, and by others, a boon to provide much needed precious materials, the truth is that wherever this disease is found, chaos ensues.   Golden fever is caused by the gradual alchemical transmutation of the metals in a person's blood into gold, and eventually, all their tissues.

Transmission & Vectors

Unknown to everyone, this disease is caused by the bite of the golden-horned adder.


Those that survive the bite and venom of the golden-horned adder tend to assume that all side-effects are gone by the time the first symptoms of golden malaise start to appear. This typically takes between one to three months. However, they are wrong: the venom has long-lasting effects.


After one to three months of the bite, the person may start feeling sluggish. This period is followed by a period of euphoria and high energy, which typically lasts a month. After this, the affected person progressively starts losing energy and their limbs start hardening. Typically, after six months of the first symptoms, the person is bed-ridden, incapable of moving and having respiratory issues.

Cultural Reception

You know mom has been sick....   Folks say the gods have chosen to send us a gift, through her, but that means she has to leave us. We only have a few more months, so let's make the most of it. But afterwards... afterwards we will never be left needing no more.
— Maxrii

The golden malaise has the capacity of causing chaos wherever it is found. People suspected to have this disease have been kidnapped (often wrongly), worshipped, and killed, amongst others.   All of this because once the person dies, their whole body becomes a solid block of gold within a day.   Depending on the community where the affected lives, people will seek to make their condition public or keep it hidden.

Chronic, Acquired
Extremely Rare
There is no known treatment

Geographic Spread

Golden malaise is typically restricted to the continent of Friac'seoue (which is, of course, where the golden-horned adder lives). However, a few cases have been known to occur elsewhere.   These cases are either of people that were bitten back in Friac'seoue, or from imported snakes that have been sold to people as exotic pets.  
In the continent of Tiel, there is a famous statue of a person that suffered from golden malaise.   Tereli Zandiel was a rather rotund woman, part of a rich family that had no real need for that sort of money.   When she died of golden malaise, the family donated the "statue" to the city, under one condition. For so long as the city continues to prosper, the statue will be displayed as a symbol of the city's success.   But should the city ever be in dire need, the statue could be used as a last resource.

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Plot hooks

Where did the statue go?
During the plague, the Zandiel family could no longer ensure that the city was prosperous. They could not even assure their own wealth! However, it seems the family maybe did not need to worry so much about the statue. During the first few years, when thieves would try to cut off a part of the statue, they would die in the most strange or odd circumstances.
Even when the family and the city's honest folk asked the statue nicely to allow them to make use of her departed body, the curse affected to anyone who touched the statue with the intention of getting some gold out of it.
The city no longer has plague cases, but everyone has been left pauper. With no money or resources to make a comeback, the city is doomed to languish until it disappears from the map... Unless someone figures out what Tereli Zandiel really needs.
A golden Grippli
In one of the last ships from Friac'seoue to Oceasile, travelled Wallep, a young grippli who arrived in Pertkwugo full of energy and enthusiasm.
But as Wallep travelled to his hometown in the cliffs west of Pertkwugo, every step seemed to weigh him more than the last one. He arrived, feeling exhausted. His clan, overjoyed to see him, were sure that he just needed a few days of rest.
However, he never recuperated. Having never heard of golden malaise, the clan was awestruck when the day after their death, Wallep turned into pure gold. There was no other possible explanation: this was a gift from the goddess herself!
Someone has stolen the statue, in the middle of the night. The clan suspects a tribe of goblins, and they want their holy statue returned!

Cover image: by Francisco De Legarreta C.


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21 Dec, 2020 22:56

I know I'm a terrible person, but I can totally see people trying to run a business on something like cutting of the infected limb and dropping it into a pool of blood.   Very good take on mixing alchemy with disease.   Were golden-horned adders can be found?

23 Dec, 2020 08:49

Uffff.... I had not even thought about that (re: limb and pools of blood)!
Golden-horned adders can be found on the continent of Friac'seoue, which is a continent in my world inspired in the African continent.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
22 Dec, 2020 22:36

Yikes, not only are you dying a slow and painful death, you have to worry about people stealing you so they can make use of your dead body! D:   I like the plot hooks. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
23 Dec, 2020 08:50

Hahahaha, yeah! It is a disease with a conundrum :P   I'm glad you enjoyed the plot hooks, I was feeling a bit unsure about them because they became longer than initially expected.

23 Dec, 2020 18:50

Ooooh this is a fascinating take on the prompt! I really love the inclusion of different reactions to the golden malaise, and the inclusion of plot hooks is really awesome and inspiring!

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse
29 Dec, 2020 11:08

Thank you! I really wanted to make a disease which was not clear-cut.
I'm also writing one of those plots now, let's see if I manage to get it out before WE finishes...

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
28 Dec, 2020 01:55

A lovely condition! Love that it's got a silver— or golden— lining, even, complicating things more...

29 Dec, 2020 11:08

Hehehehe, yeah...

28 Dec, 2020 23:21

This is clever! Well done!

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga Eater of pickles, Friend of nerds, First of her name
29 Dec, 2020 11:10

I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

2 Jan, 2021 17:13

This is an excellent idea for a disease. I could also see people being urged to (or choosing to) sacrifice themselves for their family or community by purposely seeking out the the golden-horned adder.

Check out Phasmatum for an Afro-Solar-Fantasy-Spirit World. Or something like that.
3 Jan, 2021 22:08

Thanks. Well, no one knows it is caused by the golden-horned adder, so that is not a risk yet.

2 Jan, 2021 23:29

Great idea with the plot hooks, particularly like the one where Wallep's clan think his condition is a gift!

3 Jan, 2021 22:09

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoy the plot hooks.
You may find more about the disappearance of Wallep's "statue" here:

The disappearance of the silent bells
Plot | Jan 1, 2021

Who is stealing the silent bells that keep peace & sanity in Pindrop?

7 Jan, 2021 04:13

This article is gold. ;) The concept is very imaginative and can give rise to several plot threads.