The Ruck springs up only in the midst of the longest and hottest Summers. Deep in the South, where the sun barely dips below the horizon, lies what some scholars name "The Dry Desert". It is said that it hasn't rained in the Dry Desert since a time before time began, and that every Summer, as the sun gets hotter and hotter, those dunes reach a breaking point. If it becomes hot enough, a great malaise springs forth from the sand, lying in wait for any carrier. If none arrive, the disease sinks back to the desert whence it came. However, if some unlucky animal or human stumbles across its resting ground, the infection begins.
While it is disputed among the Poer and various scholars of disease as to whether or not the Ruck kills, or dehydration kills, one thing is for sure: those who contract the Ruck have a year, maybe two, before they shrivel up and dry out, left in the breeze like the ashes of a fire. Those that have seen the effects of the disease up close, or even been infected themselves and annotated their last days, say that the disease progresses something like this:
- Small patch of skin, be it on the hand, the leg, the face, begins to dry up and itch. A minor annoyance at first.
- The victim begins to get a strong sense of thirst, even after drinking large amounts of water.
- Slowly, the patch begins to increase in size. Maybe more patches appear in other parts of the body.
- The patchy skin now begins to flake and come away from the body if pressure is applied.
- Large-scale hair loss as the scalp hair-creating places dry out
- Flesh begins to turn to ash and the internal organs dry out.
- Six months to two years after contracting the Ruck, the victim is reduced to a pile of sand.
Hosts & Carriers
Anything that breathes or grows is susceptible to contracting the Ruck, although it seems that some have a kind of natural immunity to the disease. There have been some (unconfirmed) reports of one's family contracting the disease, but leaving a single member untouched. That being said, it is safe to assume that given enough exposure, anyone or any living thing could become a carrier of the disease.
It can also be carried short distances by the wind, although there has to be enough infected organic material nearby for this to be achieved. This is also the reason that torching fields is said to slow its progress, because if there is a big enough gap between infected life forms and healthy ones, the Ruck can't spread far enough through the air alone.
If a farmer sees that his crop has been infected with the Ruck, there is only one hope for him now: get out, and get out fast. The Ruck travels via air or touch, and so even being downwind of an infected animal carries the risk of infection, and subsequently, death.
However, there is one potential prevention method. If a crop contracts the disease, torching the whole field is said to halt the Ruck's progress.
- Chronic, Acquired
- Extremely Rare
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