As people get older, they kind of shrink a little bit. This is obvious to any human, but it doesn't really matter. To other, longer living races however, this does matter. Not only does one lose height, it causes the body to grow weak as well. Elves tend to ignore this condition, since they reach old age only at around 1000 years old, which most Elves don't achieve to live. Dwarves hate becoming even smaller and weaker. They are the ones currently working on an "Antidote" as they call it. They want to try completely stopping to age. Gnomes don't really care at all, everyone already sees them as the smallest race, nobody even notices. Other cultures however use height to determine the wisdom of an individual. But there are still individuals who would prefer growing old, just without the shrinking part. Those are the ones seeking arcane knowledge, not to stop ageing, but to stop the effects of the shrinking.
Transmission & Vectors
Old age, bad genes
Losing height, bone structure weakening.
Usually spells that age the user/target back, at least physically. Supposedly there also exists a Fountain of Youth somewhere. It is said that this fountain will cure any ailments acquired from old age, even shrinking.
You will slowly lose height, how much depends on the individual.
Mainly the long-living races. Humans do feel the effects too, but they die within 20 years of the condition affecting them.
By stopping to age.
Since this ailment comes through age, in time it will slowly affect anyone.
This was found about 500 years after the creation of Elves.
Usually, people that are that old are either taken very seriously, because they can be very wise, or get laughed at, since some people tend to start spouting nonsense at that age.
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