Among the many diseases of Aressa, Byrgelsear is one of the most feared. It strikes with little warning and spreads rapidly throughout the population, disappearing as rapidly as it came once the vermin that carry it are driven off.
Transmission & Vectors
Byrgelsear afflicts only humans and elves and is carried primarily by rats, but also by various carrion birds, such as crows and ravens. The animal itself shows no symptoms, but when a human or elf comes into contact with the animal or its excrement or blood, the disease begins to worm its way into the victim. Strangely, it does not seem to be transmitted by those afflicted with it.
Hearing strange noises, hearing loss, temporary or permanent insanity, blood loss from ears
During the first stage, Byrgelsear can be cured by magic or by plugging the ears with certain mosses. When it is cured in this manner, the victim often becomes paranoid and jumpy. During the second stage, if the victim can be prevented from bleeding out (whether by magic or wadded bandages) for seven to eight hours, the disease usually disappears on its own.
Byrgelsear progresses in two stages. The first stage begins within 48 hours, as the victim begins to hear faint, muffled noises, as though from a great distance. As the disease progresses, their ordinary hearing fades and is replaced by the sounds of stone being scratched, scurrying insects, and dripping water. Ordinary hearing typically takes at least a week to fade entirely, sometimes leading victims to believe that they are not actually ill. Once hearing has been completely lost, the disease progresses to the next stage. In its second stage, Byrgelsear seemingly causes the afflicted to lose all ability to interpret what they hear. Whether normal hearing returns or not is unclear, as victims commonly go insane during this stage; however, a few survivors have reported hearing otherworldly screams, cracking bones, and rumbling landslides or earthquakes. At the end of this stage, which usually lasts two or three days, the victim begins to bleed uncontrollably from the ears, eventually dying of blood loss if the flow cannot be stanched.
If magic or wadded bandages can be used to stop the bleeding, the victim will survive once the bleeding completely stops (which takes about seven to eight hours). However, they are typically haunted for the rest of their life by faint sounds that only they can hear, and victims who never regain their sanity are not unheard of.
Hosts & Carriers
Rats and carrion birds (crows, ravens, rooks, etc.) They are not affected by the disease.
The only known preventative is to remain away from rats, crows, ravens, etc.
The name is believed to be an archaic Axish word meaning "Tombs-ears." Some believe Byrgelsear to be an evil omen, appearing before great battles, natural disasters, or other earth-shaking events, especially those with a high death toll. However, this theory is yet unconfirmed.
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