The Blight Taint
Otherwise known as being Tainted or Blighted, or simply known as the Taint. The Blight Taint is spread by Darkspawn and until 9:37 Dragon was considered fatal. In the year 9:30 Dragon, during the Fifth Blight, The Hero of Ferelden, Meiriana Mahariel and a few of her allies discovered an abandoned Grey-Warden fort located in the mountains of Ferelden. There they discovered a Grey-Warden mage who should have been long dead, experimenting to find ways to cure the taint and extend life. Though the hero ultimately convinced her companions and fellow wardens to allow his research to continue, they did not put his results to use.
Transmission & Vectors
The Taint is considered a bloodborn disease and among the many ways to contract it, getting darkspawn blood in one's mouth, eyes, or an open wound is generally the most common. It can also be spread by objects and via the air or tainted water and food supplies. Because of this wide array of possible methods to contracting it, no one is quite sure what it actually is thus many consider it simply a curse.
Though people tend to be unsure as to the actual reason the Taint exists, everyone agrees that it's spread through contact--either directly or indirectly--with Darkspawn. The root cause lies therein the Darkspawn corruption. It's unclear wether the cause is related to their blood or if any bodily fluid such as sweat and saliva will also do it.
Before 9:35 Dragon, when Warden-Commander Cousland began experimenting with different potions and methods in her attempt to find a way to cure the Taint from Grey-Wardens the only known treatment for being Tainted was to undergo the Joining as Grey-Wardens are immune to the symptoms of the Taint once Joined. The only known cure was a swift mercy killing. As a suggestion from Meiriana due to remembering that her dog Fluffy had been cured of the Taint at the beginning of the Fifth Blight by ingesting a poultice made of Andraste's Grace, a potion was created using dragon's blood, spindleweed, elfroot, and Andraste's Grace extract. It was a surprise to both of them when this potion showed promise, and the warden who agreed to test it, Kallian Tabris reported after only a few months of taking the potion that she could no longer hear the song of the Darkspawn.
This treatment came about from the combining of The Hero's knowledge of Andraste's Grace flowers having been used to treat the taint in dogs and her personal experience. It was not concieved of as a possible cure at the time of the Blight, but Meiriana recognized that the flower used to treat the dog was the same flower she made soap, tea, and scented washing powder for her clothes out of and reasoned that maybe her resistance to the Taint when she contracted it nearly a week before her Joining was due in part to her frequent ingestion of Andraste's Grace tea.
"I was told it's fatal. Even for Grey-Wardens. They underestimate how willing we are to change this fate. 'Wardens live for roughly fourty years after their Joining, but during a Blight that time is cut to ten years or less, usually.' Because of the Archdemon's influence. I don't care what they say. If it can be cured in dogs, which it can because Fluffy was cured, then it can be cured in people too. I won't give up until I'm sure we can spare Kallian, Alyssa, and Shadow from early graves at the hand of the Calling."
Hosts & Carriers
The Taint is carried by Darkspawn and Grey-Wardens. Wardens willingly take on the Taint in order to be able to fight the Blight itself, but Darkspawn are born from the Taint. There are several kinds of Darkspawn and all of them carry the Taint, though obviously some are more dangerous than others. You're far more likely to catch the Taint from a Genlock than an Ogre, for instance, because it's more likely you won't survive attempting to fight the Ogre.
see also Darkspawn
The most common symptoms of the blight taint are:
- paling of the skin
- raspy breathing
- difficulty breathing
- blood turning thick and blackening
- veins becoming more promenient
- swelling of the mouth or wound where the Blight Taint was contracted
- dry, red eyes
- urge to follow Darkspawn
Most people who contract the Taint never reach this stage, they usually are killed or die--or worse, turn into Shrieks--before this can happen. Considered the final stage of the Taint, or alternatively the final stage of the Joining (as not even the Grey-Wardens themselves are quite sure whether this condition is caused by the Taint itself or is a late stage side-effect of the Joining ritual), the Calling is often how Grey-Wardens meet their deaths when there's no Blight.
Characterized most promenently by "the song of the Darkspawn" the Calling signals the end of a Warden's life, and the last stage of the Taint before being consumed by it and becoming a Darkspawn. At first the calling is simply whispers, the voices of the Darkspawn reaching out through the Taint but as time goes on, the whispers become louder and louder, the voices of the Darkspawn and Archdemon calling out to the Warden to join their search, to come home to them. At this point, when the Warden can no longer ignore the Calling, a funeral is held for them and they head into the Deep Roads to meet their end in battle against the Darkspawn. Theoretical Information