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The Dark Plague

Transmission & Vectors

The Dark Plague seems to be mostly airborne (which makes sense, considering the people that it evolved to kill), though it did seem to be able to spread through close contact with another person. As far as could be seen, there seemed to be no stage of the infection where a patient was no longer contagious, so heavy quarantine became the norm.


To this day, professionals still cannot determine the cause of the Dark Plague. That’s the most terrifying aspect of it - especially since Skydwellers are relatively immune to most sicknesses, occasionally contracting a cold or a bad flu. The most they can theorize is that a virus simply adapted faster than their immune cells - and they don’t know if it can happen again. The virus lay dormant for (probably) a decade or so before (most likely) a temperature change triggered its release.


Of course, staying away from infected people was one of the most effective things that could be done to stop the spread. Celebrations and gatherings were stopped and person-to-person interaction became as limited as possible. Apart from that, people pretty much dressed in different shades of orange year-round, and decorated their houses orange as well, which they believed would ward off back luck. Health became the primary concern, and rest, exercise, and good nutrition, already a habit, were prioritized.


It is theorized that the Dark Plague was most likely a lysogenic virus - lying dormant in the Skydwellers’ systems for several years until a trigger - probably a temperature change from the recent fair weather - released it from its dormancy. The first person to contract the Dark Plague was most likely an ordinary worker - a farmer. From there, it spread rapidly throughout the farming industry. The scramble to prevent the spread and ensuing panic only led to more cases, and the loss of work and workers resulted in a lack of food, which only drove people to crime (which spread the plague even furthur).


These are dark times - very dark times. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever make it out. And, if we do - will we ever be the same again?   I fear we may not.  
-from the journal of a resident of the sky
    The Dark Plague was the single most destructive virus in the sky - and the only one that got to run its full course. The famine that followed and the war for food was estimated to have wiped out over half of the sky’s population - probably more. In the generation afterward, the first Monitors were sent to the ground dweller world to study medicine. Though most modern medicine was just emerging on the ground, the Monitors that were sent down had an acute intuitive sense for which paths of treatment and study were best to learn from. Their study provided key insights into the prevention of the spread of The Ailment, which, in turn, unified the Sky Cities. The Dark Plague is perhaps the single most significant historical event in Skydweller history, and had a chain reaction that threw into effect all the events that would go on to shape Skydweller life.

Cultural Reception

Up until that point, the Skydweller’s superior immune systems meant that all medicinal knowledge up until that point had been to treat wounds and injuries. They had a variety of herbal medicines to aid during the sniffle season, but the deadliness of the Dark Plague was something that they could not fathom, resulting in mass panic and widespread death in the thousands.


Delirium, loss of memory, difficulty moving, random spurts of pain, trouble breathing, difficulty concentrating, confusion, mood swings, appetite loss, depression, anxiety, trouble speaking, insomnia, weakness, headache, chills, fever and eventually death.


One of the reasons that the Dark Plague was so deadly was that up until then, the people of the sky were relatively inexperienced when it came to diseases and medicine. Thus, treatment was basically ensuring that the subject continued eating and drinking, regulating their temperature with cool water and blankets, keeping their mind active with books, word games, and puzzles, and keeping them effectively isolated from the rest of the world. And there were of course, herbal supplements. There probably wasn't much that they could have done anyway - as with most viral infections, treatment only helps with the symptoms, while friends and family must simply wait for the immune system to do its job.


Very few who contracted the Dark Plague ever recovered from it. Instead, they got sick, slowly wasting away until they died. The few who did survive were most often hollow shells of their former cells - still capable of basic processes, but with most memory and the capacity for complicated thinking gone. Over time, one could regain these skills, though it was a difficult and painful process that was undermined by the Ashes War.

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16 Jan, 2023 23:43

Cool article on a nasty virus. I wonder if any world leaders died from it and how it might have changed history.

17 Jan, 2023 01:11

Ooh, I'll have to write about certainly was chaotic. I haven't thought about important deaths, but it's probably what happened. Thanks!

May your worldbuilding hammer always fall true! Also, check out the world of the Skydwellers for lots of aerial adventures.