The Wastrel's Reckoning Condition in Rivendom | World Anvil

The Wastrel's Reckoning

The church embellished the stories about the plague, for sure. I don't know how much of it is true, and how much of it is the delusion of faith, but one message was clear: the plague was terrible. I'm not sure that I believe it happened in retribution for "sexual deviancy," whatever the fuck that means, but it happened for some reason, and it killed a lot of people, and it made us seal away family, friends, and even our own history just to survive. So I think I could be forgiven for thinking that the moment those gates were cracked open, all sorts of horrors would flood out of those darkened tunnels.   But they didn't. We went down into that horrible darkness, expecting to choke on the sweet stench of decay and trip on piles of bones and bodies, but there was none of that. The air wasn't even stagnant, just cold. It was quiet, though. Too quiet. Almost like all life had fled from the tunnels and caves that we made our way through. The only time we heard other living creatures down there was when a group of rockmaidens in the distance started singing. Their siren song provided a melancholy melody that echoed eerily.   When we found our first dwarvenhold, it looked like it had been frozen in time. There were bones here and there, but they were brittle and picked clean. There was dust on everything and every other nook was covered in cobwebs. The city was dead but peaceful, almost like the people had simply... disappeared one day. I think that terrified me more than the thought of finding a place covered in festering corpses.
— Journal Excerpt
Recovered from failed expedition
  Dubbed as such by the hierarchs of the Sanctum faith after the fact, the Wastrel's Reckoning was a plague that spread through the mountain-dwelling populations of IldRenn during the age of the Dwarvenholds. The erinindal population was so affected that it hasn't recovered in the intervening years since the plague, while the erillendal population was a lot more resilient against the disease, helping to propel them from their status as second-class citizens to full and equal members of erinindal society. Tragically, however, none were more affected by the disease than the IstEridanë, who were unable to resist the disease whatsoever and succumbed, marking the first extinction of a sapient species in the world of Sekhar.   The advent of the plague upturned the fabric of erinindal society, as it spared no one. Spreading like wildfire through the population, baffling even the most well-educated physicians of the time as to how it was transmitted, it took erinindal society in a vice-like grip of fear. The disease tore through institutions that had stood for hundreds of years and left a vacuum of power that was filled by the only group of erinin that remained relatively coherent through the entire ordeal: the then-tiny sect of the Sanctum, which espoused puritanical virtues such as cleanliness, propriety, and modesty.

Transmission & Vectors

Very little is known about the way that the disease actually spread as the scientific knowledge of the time was inadequate to fully understand the disease. Nor did the erinin have the technology to properly examine the disease, much less do so without being fatally exposed to it. Modern scholars suspect that since the disease primarily affected the respiratory system, that it was likely airborne. In the dwarvenholds, which famously suffered from ventilation issues as a result of their overpopulation, this could have explained the disease's rapid spread through the population.


During the height of the excesses of the age of the dwarvenholds, overpopulation and a poor sense of hygiene created a major crisis with waste disposal. The halls of the dwarvenholds were strewn with filth and vermin of all sorts regularly traversed the same areas as the people that lived in the dwarvenholds. The Sanctum faith maintains that the disease was the result of divine retribution against the population for the more liberal sexual attitudes of the time when sex out of wedlock was considered commonplace and homosexuality was considered acceptable.   More recent investigations that take into account knowledge obtained from outbreaks of other diseases, however, contradict the position of the church and state emphatically that it was the amount of filth in the dwarvenholds that allowed the disease to spread as quickly as it did. The church argues that it is faith that protects the people since no known cases of the plague have occurred since the erinindal kingdoms adopted the Sanctum as their church of state. However, scholars contend that it is the church's strictures on personal hygiene and keeping clean in the eyes of gods and men that have protected the people from the plague.   However, it remains unknown where exactly the disease came from.


There are few records that survive to the modern day from the time of the plague, keeping much about the disease lost to the mists of time. However, it is known that shortness of breath acts as the prelude to something far more serious. An itchy throat is said to follow, and then the most unsettling symptom: a sense of impending doom.   Death was said to follow soon after, with people suffocating despite breathing normally. Modern medical scholars and professionals suspect that despite causing a number of other physiological problems, the disease primarily attacks the alveoli of the lungs, making it next to impossible for the afflicted to absorb oxygen into their blood despite having the capacity to breathe.


Many hypothetical treatments have been proposed by academics in the years since the plague, but with no new cases being reported, it is unknown whether any of them would be effective in the case of another outbreak.


For the erillen contemporary to the plague, the disease was fatal for only roughly 30% of the population, while for the erinin the mortality rate was well over 60%. For reasons yet unknown, the condition was fatal for 99% of the population of the eridanë. Whether the disease killed off all of the eridanë or whether it left fewer individuals than the minimum viable population is indeterminable as the dwarvenholds were sealed to prevent the further spread of the disease, trapping many underground with no way out.

Affected Groups

The disease was indiscriminate in its spread, ending the lives of men and women, children and elders, and the poor and rich alike.


There has only been one known outbreak of the Wastrel's Reckoning in the entire recorded history of Sekhar, and it was an outbreak that would change the course of history forever. Prior to the onset of the epidemic, erinindal society was threefold: there were the dwarves, who were the artisans, crafters, and the rulers; there were the eridanë, who were the physicians and healers, the scholars and the academics; and, there were the erillen, treated largely as second-class citizens who took care of the menial labour and otherwise unsavoury tasks in society.   The rapid decline of erinindal and eridandal population following the onset of the plague proved to be a boon for the erillen who were a lot more resistant to the disease than their counterparts. It is theorized that this is the result of exposure to milder forms of the disease over time, as they lived a lot closer to the areas where the disease was thought to originate: the filth pits.   Not only did the disease shake the balance of society, propelling erillen into a position where they had the political leverage and social clout to position themselves as equals to the erinin, it also left a vacuum of power in the political and religious spheres, which the only healthy religious denomination of the time, the Sanctum, took advantage of.   At first there were efforts made to solve the problem and ameliorate suffering, but as it became apparent that there would be no stopping the disease with conventional methods, the Sanctum, which had by then insinuated itself into the public eye with the promise of salvation was able to convince the remaining governments of the erinin to seal the dwarvenholds as a final measure to contain the disease. The order was given and overnight, every known entrance to the underground complexes of the erinin were sealed off, trapping millions in the depths, leaving them to a slow and painful end.
Affected Species

Glossary of Terms

Of or relating to haflings
Of or relating to the gnomes.
Of or relating to the dwarves
The home continent of the eridanë, erillen, and erinin
The Race of Halflings
The Race of Gnomes
The Race of Dwarves
A conservative, puritanical sect that took advantage of the vacuum of power left by the plague to become the primary religion of the surviving erinin and erillen
The name of the planet


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Jul 10, 2018 17:58 by Camilla S

This must truly be a horrible way to die!

Great article! Lots of detail, and the starting quote really sets the mood for the article.

Jul 10, 2018 18:20

Naaaaasty!   One question and maybe I missed this, but why is it called Wastral's Reckoning?

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 10, 2018 18:31 by Malkuthe Highwind

Because the Sanctum decided that the erinindal way of life back in the day was wasteful and improper, and the disease was the reckoning that came as a result of it. Hence Wastrel's Reckoning. :P.

Jul 10, 2018 18:33

That'll, uh, that'll teach 'em for sure.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 10, 2018 18:37 by Kai

yikes! definitely deserving of the fear surrounding this condition. i like that you included an explanation of terms in the sidebar! i should start doing that, maybe...

Jul 10, 2018 19:34 by Kris Weavill

The opening journal was haunting, definitely a great way to start the article, well done.

GorgeFodder - Former Forge Father & Former Community Director of World Anvil