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The Morphis

"The worst diseases usually kill you, but this one leaves you with a fate worse than death."
— Alma Terveys, during the Age Of Expansion
      The Morphis disease is a condition that results from the implantation of a Cloakfly egg in a sentient living creature. After a few torturous days, the victim is metamorphosed into a hideous and ravenous Cloaker. This rare and bizarre disease has confounded many healers and researchers alike. There still remains some debate as to whether this traumatic condition is alien, demonic, both, or something else entirely. What is known is that it is virtually impossible to diagnose and has no known cure.

Transmission & Vectors

This unusual disease is transferred only from a Cloakflys injected eggs. Typically the Cloakfly will ambush and land on its victim, biting and holding them with its paralytic saliva, strong mandibles and legs, and then piercing the hosts body with its long, sharp ovipositor. It will then inject an egg into the new host's body. This egg causes a strange transformation to take place in its host.

Causes

This condition is caused by the Cloakflys eggs being absorbed into the host body. Once an egg is injected, it dissolves and unravels its DNA and adheres itself to the victims DNA. It then rewrites the genetic code to become a blend of the Cloakfly and hosts traits. Many changes in the body begin to take place as a metamorphosis occurs and a new creature called a Cloaker is created.

Symptoms

Someone who is infected with this strange disease will undergo radical and agonizing changes over a few short days. Initially the infected will develop aches and pains that increase over the duration of the metamorphosis. They quickly become immobile and bedridden. There is a reduction in appetite followed by extreme weight and hair loss. The skin begins to take on a grey pallor and there is a great increase in osmotic pressure. The pupils become greatly enlarged and the eyes grow and bulge outwards. Memory loss and low brain function follow and the behavior becomes much more instinctual. The victim avoids light and seeks out high moisture area such as forest caves or river areas if possible. The skin continues to become more grey and hardens into chitinous plates in places. The jaw distends and transforms into large hooked mandibles. Finally, two large, grey, web veined wings sprout from the back and the new Cloaker seeks to escape and begin feeding.

Treatment

The great rarity of this condition causes a long delay in its diagnosis.  The patient is usually long dead by the time that a healer realizes what the disease is.  Successful diagnosis usually only occurs after the healer has observed several infected people who have succumbed to the disease.  This realization often leads them to take extreme measures when dealing with future cases of this affliction.   There is currently no known natural or magical remedy for this disease. The best hope for an infected individual is to have a healer, cleric, or apothecary treat the symptoms, and make the person as comfortable as possible.  Many choose to end their life once they become aware of the true nature and certain outcome of the disease.

Prognosis

One the person becomes infected and starts the metamorphosis, the condition becomes irreversible, untreatable, and permanent.  Nothing short of a carefully worded Wish spell can restore the person to their former self.

Affected Groups

This disease only affects living sentient creatures made of flesh and bone. History records mostly humanoids acquiring this disease but other types including dragons, (even though they would never admit it) have been infected.

Hosts & Carriers

The only creature that carries and transmits this affliction is the rare and bizarre Cloakfly.

Prevention

This parasitic condition is easily avoided and very preventable. The simplest and best way to avoid catching this disease is to stay away from Cloakflys so that they cannot implant their eggs into the host's body. If one must confront or battle these creatures then thick metal armor covering the torso will usually prevent the ovipositor from puncturing the body and delivering the eggs.

Epidemiology

This condition is not contagious and cannot be spread throughout the populace since it arises from the parasitic injection of a Cloakfly egg into a person and not from any sort of carrier or germ.  Although the disease is quite traumatic and disturbing, those who treat the infected are in no danger of contracting the disease.

History

Reports of the Morphis disease are rare, both because the condition is sporadic and because the few infected are often misdiagnosed. Once a Cloakfly lair or Cloaker outbreak is defeated then the authorities often look back over the medical reports to identify who was infected and how they came into contact with the creatures.   Historical records collected by the Clararton Clinical Archives show that there have been various Morphis infections throughout history.  Earliest tales date back as far the Age Of Ruin, some 7000 years ago and current records show it last occurring as recently as the Age Of Recovery, after the The Sundering about 700 years ago.

Cultural Reception

This disease is very rare and quite often overlooked in the beginning stages, as such it is usually misdiagnosed. The misdiagnoses and beginning symptoms often cause healers to lend their aid to try and treat the patient. As the unusual conditions progress people tend to avoid the infected individuals and start to fear what they believe is an unknown sickness beginning to take hold in the populace. Few healers ever reach the correct diagnosis before the patient's metamorphosis is complete. If there is a correct diagnosis or a complete metamorphosis, the authorities are alerted immediately and they in turn often try to capture or kill the infected individual.
Type
Parasitic
Origin
Alien
Cycle
Short-term
Rarity
Unique
Affected Species
"Until we know the true nature of this creature and why the victims must be sentient, I fear that we will never understand this ailment and never find an acceptable course of action or even a cure."
— Afya the Healer, in Misty Vale

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