Two days back to the mountains, Cathel thought to himself as he panicked hiding behind a large rock. Two more days until I can link up with another group and get Cathel had been part of a patrol sent out into the Wastes. Nothing out of the ordinary. Two days out. Two days back. It was the fourth such patrol he had been a part of so far this year. As the greenhorn of the group he was unfamiliar with the Howling. Sure he had heard the stories. Everyone knew the stories. People going mad and fixating on some task. The solution seemed to easy. Cast a little magic on them and they are as good as new. Things turned out to not be so easy. Cathel recalled the last 24 hours in his mind. His patrol had just finished ambushing a sizable group of goblins the previous morning. Karzedan, the Dragonblooded scout had some serious wounds. The cleric, an elf named Selifrain, that accompanied them was all but spent on magic and couldn't do much. Karzedan was patched up and they made an early camp. Over the next few hours the cleric started noticing new abrasions appear on the dragonblood's scales and his eyes kept shifting from one shadow to another. Immediately they all feared it might be the Howling so he was tied up. Should have just killed him. Would have been better for all our sakes. Cathel shuddered at the next memory. A scream woke him from his restless sleep that night and he sat up to stare at his new nightmare. Karzedan got free of his bindings and had torn out Selifrain's throat with his teeth. In the fire light the lizard like eyes seemed more dead than the new corpse's. The next few minutes were a blur. The large dragonborn began tearing through his patrol with abandon as Cathel pitifully tried to stop the blood pouring from the elf's throat. After a few moments he gave up and started running. I must have been running for damn near close to an hour, Cathel thought. Judging by the distance the full moon, , had moved across the starry sky. He began to take stock of his situation. He had no food. No water. In his fright he left his sword behind. All he had was a small utility knife tied to his belt. He believed he could make it. A soft deep and hollow laughter came from the other side of the rock. Cathel threw himself forward into a desperate roll. Inches away from a slashing clawed and bloodied hand. Coming up and turning back he saw his attacker. It was Karzedan. Covered in more blood than could possibly be his own. He had many cuts and bruises across his body and one of his eyes looks as though it had been gouged out. His left arm hung limply at his side. The laughter came again but stronger this time. Sending a chill down Cathel's spine. Brandishing his knife the frightened man looked at his once friend. "Damn it to ...I'm sorry." With a howl, the afflicted leapt.out of here.
Transmission & Vectors
Transmission is unknown. No one method has been reliable enough to find general acceptance.
The cause is unknown. Believed to be contracted by spending too much time in the Wastes beyond The Barrier Mountains. Chaotic energies eventually warp the mind. Those of insufficient will tend to fall quicker. A small subset of individuals who study this affliction believe its cause to not be random but rather targeted. As if some force were guiding who is affected but a distinct lack of evidence plagues the hypothesis.
Early symptoms manifest in may different ways. Including but not limited to:
- ringing in the ears
- discolored skin
- loss of appetite
- clawing out their own organs
- sprinting until collapse
- stealing something (a boot someone else is wearing, a spoon, a bird, a sword, a bag, a specific pebble, someone's head, etc.)
- attacking the nearest creature
- eating hot coals
- walking in a circle
- screaming their darkest secrets or shames
- breathing dirt
- consuming anything around them (dirt, plants, people, their own fingers, etc.)
The earlier the Howling is caught the easier it is to treat. Once hyper fixation begins, only very strong healing magics can reverse the damage done. Many of the symptoms can be cured through magical healing. Restoration for mental symptoms and divine healing for physical. Interestingly enough the sickness sometimes carries with it a magical aura and can be dispelled. Generally speaking the best thing for a victim to do is to leave the Wastes. The illness tends to recede upon crossing back over The Barrier Mountains.
There is no known method of granting oneself immunity from contracting the Howling. Given enough time, it seems, everyone will catch it.
Confusingly for those who study the Howling, there is no logical method of who will contract the illness. A lone traveler might go months without but another may catch it in hours. An entire patrol may all catch it simultaneously or no one will. Or within that same patrol only one or two will be ridden.