The Wandering: An obsidian curse Condition in Aran'sha | World Anvil

The Wandering: An obsidian curse

I hear her voice, calling me, right over there. She sounds so sweet, so familiar. She says she misses me, she loves me, she needs me. She says she’s waiting for me, somewhere beyond the obsidian. She says she’s sorry, she’s sorry for everything. She says she can make it up to me, she can make me happy, she can make me whole. She says she’s the only one who can, the only one who understands, the only one who cares. She says she’s the only one who matters, she says I have to follow her, I have to find her, I have to join her. She says I have to leave everything behind, everything that hurts, everything that lies, everything!
Ramblings of a victim
  The obsidian wastes - a land of death and despair. Here, the earth is covered by a layer of black glass, formed by the constant eruptions of volcanoes. The glass is sharp and brittle, making it hard and hazardous to travel; the air is thick with ash and smoke, creating deadly dust storms that can blind and suffocate anyone caught in them. The sky is dark and gloomy, a roiling sea of ash blotting out sun and stars.
The area is mostly uninhabited, except for some brave (or foolish) explorers and the miners who mine the precious Kaharan Obsidian: the black heart of Aran’sha itself. But there lurk some dangers in the wastes that are invisible to the eye - and this is one of them.
It is known as the Wandering, and it is the subject of this small and humble treatise, my dearest reader. Together we will try to uncover the nature of this deadly plague of the mind.  


  The Wandering is a cruel and insidious affliction that plagues some of the intrepid souls who dare to brave the obsidian wastes. It begins with a quiet whispering, just at the edge of your hearing and starts to get louder as the disease progresses, sometimes over weeks. The whispering sounds familiar and friendly, often resembling the voice of a loved one or a friend: a parent, a spouse, a child, or a comrade. It beckons them to come closer, to find them, to join them.
The first few times one might shrug off the whispering, but as the calling gets more pressing and persuasive, taking on the tones of their loved ones, few can withstand it. Most victims of the early stages don’t even confide in anyone, because who would want everyone else to believe they are mad?

At some point, be it sooner or later, their will crumbles and they succumb to the call. The hapless victim feels irresistibly drawn to the whispers and starts to wander towards the perceived source of the sound,
ignoring everything else. The longer the victim follows it , the more they lose touch with reality and their own senses. They become oblivious even to the debiliating pain and damage caused by the obsidian, which slices into their flesh and shreads their clothing and shoes to bits. They do not stop to rest, eat, drink, or tend to their wounds. They do not heed any attempts to communicate or stop them. They only fixate on the whispers, which become more evermore urgent and alluring, driving them onwards.
  Eventually, after days, the victim reaches a point of no return, where their body can no longer sustain them. They collapse on the ground, still dragging themselves forwards towards a siren call they will never reach. Usually, death follows swiftly in the inhospitable landscape of the obsidian waste, leaving their bodies to rot alone under the darkened skies, clad in a slowly settling funeral shroud of ash.
  There have been several cases of wanderers who were found or stopped by other people. Some of these were miners who vanished from their camps, others were explorers who ventured too far into the unknown. A few of them were still alive when they were discovered, but they were in a state of delirium and agony. They did not recognize their rescuers, and they pleaded to be left alone to follow the voices. Some of them even attacked their rescuers, trying to break free from their grasp and continue their journey towards doom. Most of them perished shortly after being found, either from their grievous wounds or from pure exhaustion.



  What mysterious force compels some souls to wander out into wastes towards certain death, leaving behind their homes, their families, their very lives? What haunting sound calls them to their doom? No one knows for sure what causes this phenomenon, or why some people are affected by it and others are not.
  One of the most popular theories among scholars is that this condition is a form of mental illness, caused by the stress of living in such a harsh and oppressive environment. The sound that accompanies the Wandering could be a hallucination, a projection of the victim’s shattering mind. The victim could be seeking comfort, escape, or redemption in the sound, and follow it blindly into the unknown.

Some people believe that this phenomenon is a result of a hidden and ancient magic, a remnant of a lost civilization or some kind of entity that preys upon the souls of those called.

A more naturalistic approach is that this condition is a side effect of the heavy smoke that permeates the landscape. It is a constant and toxic presence, emitted by the ever-active volcanoes. If inhaled, it could impair the victim’s vision, hearing, or cognition, and make them more susceptible to the sounds - but where the sounds are coming from remains unanswered. The victim could be confused, disoriented, or intoxicated by the smoke, and wander off without realizing.

Research on this phenomenon is scarce and difficult. The obsidian wastes are a dangerous and inhospitable place, and few people are willing or able to explore them, especially given the risks involved. Even then, cases of the Wandering are rare and unpredictable, and few of them ever survive or recover. Those who do remember almost nothing, all memories gone like fog in the wind. There seems to be no common ground or pattern between the cases, the sounds, or the locations where they occur.



  Avoiding the Wandering, dearest reader, is difficult, if not impossible. There is no known cure or treatment for the wandering, and no reliable way to predict or avoid it. But do not despair: there are some measures that can be taken to reduce the risk:
  Since there have been no observed cases where the wandering affected a group or people who are in close proximity or contact with others, it is advisable to wander in pairs or groups and to maintain constant communication and vigilance. If one of the members starts to hear a voice or to act strangely, the others can intervene and stop them.

Wearing protective clothing and equipment will of course not stop it, however, this can help to prevent or reduce the injuries and infections caused by the obsidian, and to prolong the survival and aid recovery of the victims.
According to other, yet unproven theories, the wandering should occur more frequently or intensely in certain areas or times of the obsidian wastes. Therefore, it is wise to avoid or limit the exposure to these areas or times, such as the deeper parts of the obsidian wastes or the night in winter months.

These methods are neither foolproof nor guaranteed to help, but it is my sincere hope that within this short treatise you found enough information to recognize and avoid this terrible fate while wandering the wastes. Let me leave you with one final advice of an old man, a man who was lucky enough to survive by the gods grace:
If you ever hear a voice that calls out to you, do not listen. Do not follow. Do not wander.
Namir Al'hashir


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Dec 8, 2023 10:03 by Keon Croucher

This is beautiful nightmare fuel and leaves me curious and terrified. I wish to understand, yet I would not dare to wander the region. I wish to know what drives the voices, the truth, not theory, and yet I would be terrified to attempt to do the necessary field research that would probably involve. This is well written, selling the academic curiosity whilst also selling the discomfort and fear very well. A fine balancing act, well done :)

Keon Croucher, Chronicler of the Age of Revitalization
Dec 14, 2023 12:10

Thank you so much for your kind words, much appreciated. As for the truth - it may come to light one day.

Sit down, my friend, and let me tell you of Aran'sha . A world where the sands shift and the stars sing, where the wind carries secrets and the twin moons keep silent vigil over it all.
Dec 12, 2023 19:17 by Marc Zipper

Amazing nightmare fule. This Is an epic articl. I know I said the victims nothing in correlation with each other but I was wondering if they went in the same direction or path no matter what part of the globe they are in

Let's have fun creating the impossible, building new worlds, and all types of possibilities. Valcin
Dec 14, 2023 12:13

Thank you for your praise - unfortunately scholars are not clear if they are all drawn to the same location - but who knows what further research will reveal.

Sit down, my friend, and let me tell you of Aran'sha . A world where the sands shift and the stars sing, where the wind carries secrets and the twin moons keep silent vigil over it all.
Jan 8, 2024 18:45 by Barb

Spooky! I think you've managed to write this information in a way that would create a struggle in anyone. There is so much unknown about this that the curious part of someone's brain would want more concrete answers. However, the dark outcomes that are known leave you with apprehension about even going near the region. As a reader, I would definitely love to find out what causes this and how the answers are found. If this was a condition in a game I was playing, I would never talk about this region, let alone go there due to fear. Well done!

Apr 30, 2024 19:42 by Catoblepon

Badge of Mixing Symptoms by Catoblepon
I think my mother is calling me, I should go see what she needs. *proceeds to never be seen alive again* Thanks for participating in the Mixing symptoms!

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