"We used to fear the creatures that lived among the mountains around us. Fear that they would kill our animals and people. Fear that they would eat what little crops we had or rob us blind. We never thought that we would grow to mistrust the water we drank. To fear being pursued to the edges of the Southern Icy Teeth by those we loved." Hedar HollyboughFirst seen in Rime, Drain is an illness not fully understood by Moudon scientists or healers at the moment, assuming that most even know about it. The first case preceded the shutdown of Limitless Biologics' research facility that had revitalized the village. Victims go through a rapid decline in physical and mental health begining with a spreading of dark, greenish veins across their skin and waves of nausea and vomiting. Those afflicted are soon unable to carry on any form of meaningful conversation and can barely follow verbal commands. In short course the victims perish, only to wake back up as creatures driven only by the desire to infect and destroy others.
Transmission & Vectors
Though it has not been fully confirmed, it is believed that Drain or the mutagen/organism that creates it lies latent in water and possibly food until it is consumed by humanoids. So far the only creatures affected by Drain are humanoids. Since there have only been but a few cases of outbreaks involving Drain and a lack of desire or perhaps funding to find the answer, Drain's transmission process remains largely unknown.
In truth, Drain is a mutagen contracted through water and root vegetables that sequester it. The mutagen is a byproduct of one of the latest processes used to derive a mother liquor for the genetics of hybrid capable of creating precious gems and metals. Unfortunately it is not only the discovery of Limitless. The creator of the process, Meriy Ventris, recently defected from Limitless to work for their top competitor, Yorubell.
The pro-mutagen responsible is inactive in the water staying largely uninfluenced trapped in micelles (fat-soluble pockets). When brought into the rhizomes of root plants such as potatoes, the pro-mutagen changes as it is metabolized and turned into the Drain mutagen. While this mutagen does not seem to have an effect on the plant, even ten micrograms of the mutagen are enough to cause irreparable effects to the victim. The mutagen alters the constantly reproducing cells of the skin and other epithelial cells to change the structure and function of many of the body's organs. Later this mutagen is able to cause changes even to relatively stable cells such as brain cells. Over the course of days, for most, the mutated host is transformed and then compelled to pass the mutagen through saliva to others. While the pro-mutagen in the water is not able to cause Drain, it alters into the mutagen form when it is introduced to active mutagen in the body and this exponentially accelerates the process.
Early symptoms include:
- hardened, dark green veins
- nausea and vomiting
- greenish boils that fester
- drainage from orifices such as mouth and nose
- inabiity to talk or follow verbal commands
So far, Vkor's elixir made with Karask leaves seem to be the only thing that disrupts the mutagen long enough for victims to be properly treated.
In early stages, Drain can be healed with the use of medications like Vkor's medication or lesser restoration with little issues. Once Drain has reached the second stage, the conditon only has a 30% chance of being treated with potions or lesser restoration and is only guaranteed a cure by greater restoration. In the third stage, the condition has only a 20% chance of being cured by greater restoration and a 5% chance by any other means. After death, the mutagen has taken full hold and can no longer be treated.
Even if cured, any patient that has been affected by the mutagen does require extensive time to recover as vascular and skin cells must repair. As deeper organ damage sets in, the mutagens damage stays proportional to the replicative processes of the DNA. Brain cell damage is almost permanent whereas liver damage can be repaired over time, given enough healthy cells. No one is sure of what occurs if the person is exposed to the mutagen again. Cognitve and functional decline is common when the patient was exposed long enough to get to the second and third stages.
So far, no means of prevention are known, other than to not get exposed.
Once patients die and reach the fourth stage, secretions from the body are full of the mutagen and can easily be transmitted as droplets meet open cuts and tissue. This leads to a rapid spread once the first patient dies unless they are completely isolated. The more concentrated a population the greater the exponential increase of spread. Being a prion based mutagen, on exposure the rate of transmission is nearly 100%.
Rime takes credit of having the first case of Drain in an official sense. There is some reason to believe that there have been other cases, however.