Curse of the Sea Condition in Shireon | World Anvil

Curse of the Sea

Arriving on Wings of Death

This disease had never been seen anywhere in the known world until a strange bird fell dead from the sky. It fell into the central well of the tiny Vulborish town of Uthok.

The people of the town was reluctant to drink water from the well initially. Something had died in it, after all, and people knew that carcasses and drinking water were a bad mix. Especially in the hot desert climate of Vulborim.

It was the climate that doomed the people of the village in the end. As the well was their only source of drinking water, the people grew thirsty. Their only alternative was the salty waters of the sea. The heat had taken its toll, and dehydration was dangerous. Some brave souls tried to boil the water before drinking it since they had heard that boiling bad water would make it safe to drink. They didn't fall ill or die during the first day. The rest of the village, now desperate to quench their thirst in the unforgiving summer heat, started boiling the water.

How could they know about the horrible disease the bird had carried?

The Curse of the Sea is a highly infectious, rapidly multiplying parasite. No one knows exactly where it comes from, but the general theory is that it is from another continent on the other side of the vast sea. It has only been seen once, in the tiny coastal town of Uthok on the Vulborish coast. The Curse is the reason why this town became a ruin. The parasites are tiny, too small to see with the naked eye, and there's no way current technology can detect the parasites. The only way it can currently be identified is when someone becomes ill. And then it's usually too late...

Transmission & Vectors

The parasites are spread through contaminated drinking water, either by fecal contamination or if an infected individual or carrier immerse themselves in the water. Even a contaminated hand touching the water is enough to risk contaminating the water source.

If a person has live parasites on their hands and handshake with another person, some of the parasites will be transferred over to the clean hand. The new person will now be able to infect drinking water if not careful.

What makes these parasites the most dangerous is that only a few parasites are needed to induce symptoms in an infected individual. Also, the parasite will explosively multiply in a water source during a short time after the initial contamination. After the rapid growth slows down, the parasites can go into a kind of hibernation, waiting for a host to infect. This hibernation can last for a couple of years, until the internal energy stores are depleted, and they starve to death.

The parasite seems to only infect humans. Some very few birds can be carriers of the parasite. No other animals seem to have the right intestinal bacterial flora for the parasite to survive. Humans have an optimal gut flora for the parasite. For some odd reason, some birds have a flora that isn't instantly toxic for the parasite. Why some birds ended up having a more similar gut flora to humans than most other mammals is a mystery.

The incubation time for this parasite is quite long since it doesn't begin to produce toxins before it reaches the small intestine of a human. When the toxins are made, though, they are effective for several weeks to months.


Symptoms occur after an incubation period of ten to twenty days after infection. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and after a couple of days nausea and vomiting. The symptoms last for a couple weeks to a couple months. The symptoms will last as long as the infected keep drinking contaminated water. The symptoms will last three weeks to four months after the last contaminated water was consumed.


There is no known treatment for the Curse of the Sea. The infected will have to try to keep hydrated while not drinking infected water and hope that they don't get infected with a different illness before it passes.

Weeks passed, and no villagers had fallen ill by the boiled water. The villagers thought that enough time had passed for the contamination from the dead bird to disappear.

In theory, they were right. The bacteria from the dead bird had disappeared. But the parasites were hibernating, waiting for someone to infect, to feed on. The villagers didn't know. And how could they? Nothing like this had ever happened before.

A few drank the water fresh, unboiled. These brave souls volunteered to risk their lives for the rest of the village's safety. After five days, none of them had gotten sick, so the rest of the village took their chances. If the water was contaminated, the volunteers would have fallen sick by now.

Six days after they all had started using the water source again, one of the volunteers started showing signs of being ill. The villagers became a bit wary, but it could be a coincidence after all. The day after, two others fell ill, showing the same symptoms as the first one. The villagers realized it was probably not a coincidence after all.

But by now, it was already too late...


Most infected people will die. The dehydration or malnutrition from the near-constant vomiting and diarrhea will most likely kill the infected. If not, some other infection or illness will wreak havoc on the already weakened body, and either cripple or kill the poor soul.

Only one person is known to survive the infection and the possible side effects. She was sadly killed when she reached the capital city in fear of the parasites spreading.


If the infected doesn't get well during the first two or three weeks, the fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting will most likely result in severe dehydration. If the infected manage to keep fluid intake high enough to combat dehydration, the inability to keep food down will most likely lead to malnutrition.

The immune system of the infected will also be weakened from trying to fight the parasite. If some other illness or infection attacks at the same time, the combinations of symptoms is often deadly.

Affected Groups

Those with weaker immune systems, including the elderly, are more likely to die from the infection. Other than that, the parasites don't discriminate. Everyone who drinks infected water will most likely be infected.

Hosts & Carriers

That strange bird that might have crossed the sea carried it but didn't seem to be affected by it. The bird would most likely have died on the way if the disease affected it the same way as it did to humans. Traveling that far with these symptoms would be impossible.

One by one, the whole town came down with the sickness. The weakest of the villagers started dying. All water was again boiled before consumption. Since everyone was infected, it was too hard keeping the water clean without recontaminating it. Slowly, the town was dying.

In the end, there was one person left. She kept boiling the water before drinking it, being extra careful not to spoil the water with new parasites before drinking it. When the symptoms were gone, she collected enough food and boiled water to last for a while. Then she started the long and dangerous trip across the desert, towards the capital city of Kabaduz. The trip took days, and the summer sun made the desert even hotter than usual. She managed to reach Kabaduz, barely.

She sought out a doctor, whom she told the whole tale. She began with the strange bird and made sure she mentioned all the minor details that might be important. The doctor noted down everything, making sure not to touch this woman. When she was done talking, the doctor thanked her, before ordering the city guard to execute her and burn her body. The risk was too high that she was a carrier. If this sickness got hold of the drinking water supplies of Kabaduz, the whole nation of Vulborim would collapse.

No one else was reported to get the strange sickness.


Boiling infected drinking water will kill the parasite, and make the water safe to drink. The problem is the long hibernation period the parasite can survive before dying. If a water source gets contaminated, the water needs to be boiled for years before it's safe to drink fresh.

Also, hygiene is important. Although the parasite only infects through drinking water, it's extremely easy to contaminate a boiled batch of water by putting an unclean hand in it.


It only takes one infected person to start an epidemic. If only a few parasites reach fresh water they will multiply, making the water source contaminated. Unknowing hosts might transfer the parasites through touch, rapidly creating more hosts and spreading through the population. It's before the symptoms break out that the parasite has the highest risk to spread since the infected are yet unaware that they're hosts.

Heat is also a factor that will affect how rapidly the parasites will spread. The optimal temperature is between 30 and 45 degrees Celsius. Between 10 and 55 degrees Celsius the parasites will multiply, but at a slower speed. The parasite will die if exposed to temperatures below -15 or above 70 degrees Celsius. The heat was also the factor that made the only known epidemic so deadly since the parasite was able to multiply very rapidly due to the warm climate of Uthok.

The more people who use the same water supply, the risk of an epidemic rise almost exponentially. If some of these people use more than one water supply, there is a high risk that the parasites will spread from one water supply to another. Due to the long incubation time, this effect might infect whole cities before anyone notice something's wrong. If the city has many travelers, many cities might have unknown growing epidemics before the news of the epidemic in the original city reaches that far. Hub cities like Lenthir, the Crossroads, and Mandural, which are cities where people frequently travel through to get from one place to another, are especially dangerous if the Curse of the Sea gets a foothold.

Cultural Reception

If the infection ever comes back, the few people who have heard of it will act hostile towards the infected. Chances are that the infected will be executed and burned to prevent further infection. While this is the likely reaction in Vulborim, other nations might react differently. Since the only known epidemic was in Vulborim, however, it's impossible to say how a panicked doctor would react if the parasite shows up somewhere else in the known world.

The Curse of the Sea is also one of the reasons why the Vulborish people are more reluctant than the other inhabitants of the Five Nations to try to cross the vast seas around the continent. A place that might have diseases that kills whole villages can't be a place worth visiting, and the ones trying are fools with no will to stay alive.

The town is still an abandoned collection of now collapsing houses after the incident. Even though the parasites have died long ago people just keep away from the area in general. Maybe some other time another strange bird will carry the infection from strange, unknown parts of the world again. And if it doesn't land in an isolated little town on the coast of Vulborim, in the midst of summer, when it's nearly impossible to travel due to the intense heat of the scorching sun, but in for example Verraja or some other coastal city that traders frequently travel through, and tourists visit for their vacation...

It might spread through all the Five Nations, dooming us all.
Affected Species


The Crossroads
Small hamlet in northern Kupria, where the road leads to Lenthir in the east, Vobranas in the south and Thalor Alari in the northwest. The most traveled crossroad in all the Five Nations.

Capital city of Vulborim.

Fiercely neutral city-state. The largest city in the Five Nations. Wedged between Asharia and Kupria.

Second largest city in Asharia. Administration center for the southern part of the nation.

Small, coastal city in the southern part of Asharia. Popular vacation spot.

Dry, harsh and hot nation where people like to fight each other.


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