Sponge Bone

Bone isn't supposed to bend like that. It isn't clay!  
  Sponge Bone is a disease that turn the bones into a hollow and soft, like a sponge. It usually afflicts the elderly and particularly those who have spent their lives farming or among mushroom and fungi. After life-time immersed in clouds of spores, tiny fungi begin to creep inside the flesh and take root. Such infections can cause a range of maladies, of which Sponge Bone is one of the most feared.      


An imbalance of wet and soft has penetrated deep within the body and begun to affect the bones, afflicting them with those very traits.  
Atma Medikari
  Many caverns in Araea are filled with airborne spores and floating fungi, any number of which can take root in the human body. Sponge Bone is caused by one such microscopic fungi. The spores burrow through flesh and make their homes in the bone over a long period of time. As the fungi eat away at the bone, it becomes riddled with holes and passages, which the fungi eventually grow to fill. A healthy adult is usually more than able to resist serious infection and only show mild symptoms, but those weak or old can fall prey to Sponge Bone.  
The flow of energy to the bones have been disrupted, and they no longer receive all the vital force they require to remain strong.  


Because of this, the bone is soft and pliable. The mushrooms on your skin is probably unrelated and ignored for now.  
Atma Medikari

Early symptoms of infection by the fungal spores are itching and swollen skin. In severe cases, the skin will show signs of splitting or large cysts. In healthy adults with enough strength to fight off the infection, that is usually where it ends.   Some end up with small patches of fungi or mushroom blooming from the infected areas. These can be a reoccurring ailment until the rooted are killed.   At the later stages of infection, the bones begin to hollow out and fill with fungi and mold. It begins by affecting the extremities, starting with fingers or toes before moving to arms and legs. At first, they become frail and weak but eventually become soft and bendy. At either stage, effective use of the affected limbs is near impossible.
  Should it spread deeper into the body, Sponge Bone is sooner or later fatal. Most patient tend to perish before that due to related complications such as additional infections or injury.  
Without enough energy to keep them hard, the bones become soft. The mushrooms could be what is sapping away the energy that your bones need.  


Eat hard, dry food and sleep on a hard surface. Counteract the wet and soft, and you should be fine.  
Atma Medikari
  Once it has set in, Sponge Bone is impossible to treat. Whatever bones have been hollowed out will remain so, even if the invasive fungi is extracted. Before that, the spores can be killed with a rub of alcohol on the affected skin. If the spores have dug deeper into the flesh, extracting them becomes more difficult. Some Deva have experimented with opening long cuts and pouring alcohol inside, as the spores are too small to see with the naked eye and the cause not yet well understood.   Though extreme, fire can also root out shallow infections of the sponge bone fungi.  
We will shave the mushrooms off your back, clean the wounds and apply heated acupuncture needles. That ought to do the trick.  

Theory on Medicine

  Medical theory in Araea is largely divided into two schools of thoughts; the Atma and the Deva. In addition to these two schools, there is a vast range of home remedies and folk medicine of various degrees of effectiveness.   The two schools have a fierce rivalry and brawls between students is not uncommon where the two schools meet.    
by Susumu Nishinaga


  The Atma believe that all illness come from imbalance in the body and by restoring balance, sickness can be banished. They use a system that applies various properties to both ailments and food, exercise or environment and seek to counteract the over-saturation of one over the others.   For someone suffering a cold an Atma may advise to eat warm food while someone with Slough-skin should stay dry.   Read More About Atma - the Science of the Balanced Body    


  The Deva view the human body as nothing more than an intricate machine made out of flesh and bone, held together by a vital force. Sickness occurs when something inside the body is broken or otherwise impaired. They are excellent surgeons and enthusiastic experimenters.   Acupuncture, medicine and vaguely worded "energy realignment" are all part of the Deva's healing arts.   Read More About Deva - the Art of Healing        

Old Farmer Bones

  Sponge Bone most commonly afflicts the elderly and particularly those who spend a lot of time in spore-choked caverns. For this reason, Sponge Bone is sometimes called Farmer Bones or "Old Bones", or some variation therefor.   It is especially common in places like Ahumahi or the Fortress-Garden of Dhanû, where even elders often work, eat and sleep in spaces infested with a shroud of spores.    
Home remedies for Sponge Bone include various potions and dubious concoctions, with those from Ahumahi being the most effective as the farmer-cults there have considerable experience with the disease.   There, it is sometimes seen as a sign of honor - the scars of a life spent in fields.

Cover image: by Kevin Walsh


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