avian's Touch is a type of spirit corruption caused directly by the Dark One, and the first step toward being possessed by a ravenous Raksha.
Xavian , The Withering King, lurks Beneath It All
and is always looking for ways to corrupt the denizens of Tikor. However, because of Ishvana's Sacrifice, he's barred from any sort of direct influence. But the master manipulator has found various little ways around her grand protection spell. All humans have free will, which also gives them the ability to give up their invisible divine shield. If a person willingly renounces deities the protection is broken and the Dark One can begin his influence.
Renounce It All
Ultimately Ishvana's Sacrifice is an everlasting protection spell for all beings that have etherforce flowing through them. Innately all living creatures on Tikor
are born with this resistance to outside influence. However, since the bulk of Etherforce
flows down from the gods to the beings they created, cutting off that flow also cuts you off from the protection. Any humans that operate at a spiritual level are aware of this intrinsic shield from harm, but unfortunately, the rest of the world is not always as informed. Through Tikor's long history, there has always been times where the faith in the deities is at a low. Those times when events of the world test the faith of followers, and sometimes the gods do fail them. That breach of trust can lead some down a dark road they didn't even know existed.
"Be Free of the shackles of constraint and normalized society. Free of the gods, free of the rules. Free of the bonds of morals, free of all limits. Eat all you want. Do whatever you want. Fuck all you want. Just be free. Free of the human vessel."
Crisis of Faith
Giving up one's divine shield often comes about for a myriad of reasons. Some are as simple as a betrayal by their deity or seeing a scene so horrifying it makes the individual not believe anymore. Sometimes the separation comes from more complicated sources such as personal traumatic events and chronic depression. While all these things can cause an individual to verbally renounce, the conditions for Xavian's Touch are more specific than that. There is a level of despair that a human has to reach before the bonds of Ishvana are truly broken. Even then, not all gather the attention of the Withering King. The unlucky ones that do though, start to hear something faith. A whisper in the dark.
The first sign of The Touch starts with a whisper. A soft and gentle voice in the back of your mind. Faintly mixed in with your other thoughts and feelings but a nudging whisper toward the more indulgent things in life. Eat a little more, sleep a little more, fornicate a little more. The voice starts with sweet seduction rather than sheer horror, which is one of the main reasons Xavian's Touch is so insidious. At first, it just feels like your mind has directed you to be happier, to enjoy life more. The voice reminds you to truly bask in the light and be free. It's that cascade of thoughts that is the descent into madness for the infected. The first stages where treatment is easiest is also the stage where the symptoms are more positive than negative. On the outside, the individual is much happier than normal. Perhaps a little too happy. But few question these outward signs. Eventually, the whispers turn into something more, a questioning of your reality.
"What have the gods done for you? Do they even care? Your having fun right now without them, why devote yourself to them? Wouldn't it be more fun to be free? To not have the blindly devoted judge you for living your life to the fullest? Don't you deserve that?"
Though infected, at this early stage it's simply preparing the host for a full connection. Giving up the shield is only half of what's needed, to complete it the infected must reach out to The Withering King and invite his influence in. This starts with questions of your life and the divine. These probing questions at the back the victims minds slowly break them down. The questions unending, day and night, demand answers. Demand a solution. These auditory hallucinations steadily increase in volume until the victim can no longer distinguish between their inner voice and the whisper. Before long, the whispers begin to disrupt normal sleeping patterns and standard day to day life.
The combination of lack of sleep from the probing whispers and the whispers themselves increasing drain the infected. This stage is when then the violent outbursts start. It usually starts off as an overreaction, a snap remark at an unusually high volume and force. Then begins fits of extreme rage where once something was small, is now a huge ordeal. The mood swings and rage start to become ever more frequent and dangerous. As well at this stage, the victim starts to respond to the whispers out loud, no longer able to tell distinguish between internal and external voices. These violent actions often lead the victim to altercations with loved ones and local enforcement. Xavian, always opportunistic, uses this as the final trigger. A whisper of deception from their loved ones.
"Why can't they see what you see? Why don't they ask the questions? Why do they always blame you? Why don't they ever defend you? What have they done for you? Nothing. You're all by yourself"
"You don't have to be alone. If you let me in, I can show you the answers you seek. We can have everything. Let me in. Say the name. Say my name"
The Raksha Await
The last step is the permission question. Days or weeks of slow manipulation leads up to this final junction. The point where the whisper finally asks for one thing, to be let in. To let the power of Xavian flow through them. This is the last time where the victim can be saved, a final chance at salvation. Possession by Raksha is irreversible. If the infected agrees and invites Xavian in, the infection is complete. A Raksha begins to worm its way inside of the vessel, devouring the victim's soul bit by bit. Any unlucky onlookers will witness the person screaming in primal agony as something terribly old and dark consumes them from the inside. Eventually, the screams will subside as the Raksha finishes their first meal. Newly replenished from the destruction of the host spirit, the Raksha fully awakens, and the true horror begins.
Raksha are the epitome of darkly twisted desire and pure unabashed evil. Coming across one of the dark beasts in the wild is rare, while being among the most lethal entities on Tikor, their numbers are low. However, when a Raksha returns to the mortal plane via Xavian's Touch, they are more dangerous than anything normally seen. After fully taking control, the Raksha begins to twist the host body to resemble the creatures true form. After a few short cycles the transformation is complete, and what was once a human being is now a living incarnate of hunger and carnal destruction.
The cause of Xavian's Touch is caused by a mixture of internal and external factors. No one single thing can trigger the infection, but a combination of the two categories is the cause of all known cases.
- Fixation on Negative Thoughts
- Abandoning/Losing Divine Protection
- Uncontrollable Fits of Rage
There are only two ways to cure the victim of Xavian's Touch, either through ritual cleansing or ritual sacrifice.
Xavian's Touch is the single hardest infection or curse to dispel in known history. The corruption of The Withering King is immensely powerful, and only the strongest of Sage's will even attempt it. As with most rituals, the downside is always having the curse rebound and infection the sage. With the Touch, however, the effects are so potent that no there is no known safeguard from a potential recoil. The victim can only be saved within the earliest moments of the infection before it can convince the host to open up.
The only other way to cure Xavian's Touch is by the power of deities power. If convinced, a god of sufficient power can invoke Ishvana's Sacrifice and force the infection out of the victim's body. However, as with most things, it comes with a cost. The first of which is pledging loyalty and patron to the god. A pledge of loyalty with a deity is far different than being a regular worshipper. This agreement becomes etched in the humans very soul, making it a matter of life or death.
Stage 1 - Infection (whispers in your head)
Stage 2 - Host Preparation(hallucinations)
Stage 3 - Mental Degradation(Rage)
Stage 4 - Invitation (Raksha possession)
Adult humans are the only ones infected by Xavian's Touch. Children who have not undergone the rite of passage are not affected. While scholars are unsure as to why, most theorize that since children are not known to the gods until the ceremony, that they simply can't actually give up protection yet.
A strong and healthy community is the only sure way to prevent a level of possession such as Xavian's Touch. A strong unit that is able to lift each other up when times are hard. Individuals who start with no faith are curiously not at risk for The Touch. For instance, The Grimm and citizens of Grimnest as a whole have never had a reported case of Xavian's Touch. These leads most scholars to theorize that shows that Ishvana's Sacrifice is applied regardless of faith. But having it, and then losing it is the key to actually nullifying the Sacrifice.
Unfortunately, even if the victim survives the touch, they are ostracized in most cases. Succumbing to The Touch is often seen as a sign of inner weakness. And someone who can't be trusted with important duties. This often leads to the victim being exiled, suicidal or even re-infected.