When I was a young woman, I was - like any good child - terrified of the Dark. When my family would venture into the near Penumbra, I would hide in the wagon or clutch fearfully at my mother and father's legs. I was terrified that the Spirelight would fail and the Dark would rush in to claim me whole. I don't remember a time when that fear was not with me, guiding my steps, keeping me always in the light. But I am not a young woman anymore, and while I still appreciate the dangers lurking beyond the Spirelight, I no longer seem to fear the Dark. It fascinates me. It pulls me towards it, and I find myself growing eager to go. I know it's the Call; I did not spend my life in study to be called a fool. I know that as I grow older, the Call's strength will grow also, but knowing this and experiencing it are often separate things. I know the Call is dangerous; I know the Call is like a song that lures me to annihilation. I know all of this, and still I hear it and it is sweet to me. Perhaps I'll have the strength to resist it; perhaps I will fight the song of oblivion. Perhaps. I hear it, even now. Here, in the eternal Spirelight of the Brightspire its song reaches out to me. I am not afraid. Should I succumb, at least my final moments will be spent beneath the stars. I would very much like to see them.
The final entry in the journal of Emeli Highgrove, Numinost, Flame of the Brightspire
Transmission & Vectors
It is unknown why some people are susceptible to the Call and others aren't, but it does not appear to be an illness that can be passed, nor does it run in families. Those who experience the Call are far more likely to be strangers to one another. Either the Call is completely random, or it has a pathology unlike any other.
The cause is unknown, but there does seem to be a relationship between the Call and the presence of childhood traumas relating to the Dark.
Those experiencing the Call will begin to lose their almost instinctive fear of the Dark. If they are able, they will begin to spend a great deal of time in the Penumbra, moving from near to deep Penumbra over days, weeks, or even months. Eventually, those who are unable to master the Call will step from the Penumbra into the Dark, where they will walk away from the Spirelight as quickly as they can. Those afflicted will also begin to feel an intense desire to be free of the Spirelight, and to stand in the light of the stars. If pressed, most will acknowledge that their final hours or days will likely be spent in the hands of the Thramorri, but they never seem to care.
While there may be some as-yet unknown remedy or treatment, currently those experiencing the Call are confined for the remainder of their lives. In some of the smaller communities - especially those along the various lamp-lines between the Spires - the Call is something to be answered; the elderly who experience the Call are encouraged to step into the Dark. A small number of those afflicted are able to control their symptoms somewhat by spending time in rooms completely devoid of Spirelight. In one fascinating case, the villagers of the Greystone Sanctuary actually constructed a heavily reinforced bunker of sorts in the Dark beyond the edge of their village. Those who suffer from the Call can be taken there to spend hours or even days in the Dark, in the hopes that their symptoms will subside over time. This treatment has met with some modest success.
There is no cure for the Call. Those with the willpower - and resources - to resist can lead otherwise normal lives. Those who are unable to resist will, unless physically restrained, enter the Dark.
Generally the elderly - those over the age of 60. There are some cases of younger people growing afflicted, but they remain rare.
There is no known preventative strategy. Some parents believe that instilling a deep and abiding fear of the Dark in their children will ward off the Call in old age. There is little evidence to support this belief, but it remains popular.
The first recorded instance of the Call manifesting was more than a thousand years ago. The first several cases were misdiagnosed as extreme melencholia before a pattern was noted in their behaviours. As people learned to recognize the symptoms, the numbers of afflicted rose sharply, before plateauing several centuries ago. It appears from the historical records that the Call has been a part of the human condition for almost as long as they have lived in the Dark.