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Rot Fungus

Rot Fungus is a highly infectious type of fungus, native to the jungles of Zanzilore, but also endemic in modern times to the Sun Delta, where it was accidentally introduced during the age of the First Sunarian Empire. Affecting primarily plant life, as well as animals, Rot Fungus is most common in humans, among agricultural workers, and people working outside of urban centers in general.

Transmission & Vectors

Rot Fungus is transmitted most often by airborne spores, which after making contact with an individual's body, begin to latch on to and roots burrow into their flesh. From here, the fungus quickly begins to reproduce into visible tumor like growths above, and below the skin of the infected host, which can be the source of incredible irritation and pain depending on location.   Rot Fungus is easily transmittable between not only species of animal, including human, but also between those, and plants, as well as even other fungus. Bearing an almost predatory hunger for organic matter, Rot Fungus colonies present on trees and vegetation are just as capable of infecting a human host, as human to human transmission, making it an incredibly fast spreading, and invasive organism.

Symptoms

3-5 days after initial contact with spore   Invisible to the naked eye, Rot Fungus colonies only begin to be visible after several days of microscopic growth. During this period, the infestation spreads over the immediate area of landing for the initial spore, and begins to form into a thin layer of moist, orange fuzz or mucus which irritates the skin. Feeding off of the person's body, Rot Fungus grows until its presence overwhelms the host and causes its life sustaining systems to collapse; this usually means the respiratory system, however both the circulatory and digestive systems can easily be interfered with and stopped altogether by a Rot Fungus infestation.   Compelled to scratch as the infection grow, individuals infested by Rot Fungus unwillingly transport the disease elsewhere on their body, and oftentimes move the infection from the leg or torso, to the fingers (especially, under the finger nails), at which point it is easily exposed to the eyes, ears, mouth or nose, or another individual.   At this early stage in the infection, it is entirely possible for the host's immune system to fight off the fungal infection if steps are made to prevent scratching, and bolster their body's health; however, once the infection escalates to its later stages death is usually certain. One surefire way of ridding oneself of the infestation, is the rubbing of opeht palm oil over infected areas.   5-12 days after initial contact with spore   Secondary stages of Rot Fungus typically see the initial layer of slime or fuzz transforming into a thicker, foul smelling fungal growth, above and below the skin, which is incredibly irritating and painful. This stage of the fungus is frequently compared by infected persons to a third degree burn, that will not heal.   Because of the open nature of the rash, and the vulnerability it poses to outside infections, it is not uncommon for people to die during this stage as other issues present themselves.   12-22 days after initial contact with spore   Ever expanding, the burn like stage of Rot Fungus infestation will end after a six to seven days, with the hardening of the growths into a dried out Rot Fungus colony. At this stage, spores of the fungus will break off with even the slightest of touches, and either spread to uninfected areas of the host, or drift off through the air in a blind search for more organic matter. Internal growth of the fungus is unavoidable at this point, and a host's eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, as well as their respiratory system, and digestive tract will in all likelihood be overrun over the coming week or so; rendering the person incapable of sustaining their own life.   Most people who survive to this stage in the infection, are left bedridden and infirm, having either lost the capacity to use their legs, or having lost the motor function thanks to the spread of the fungal infestation to their brain.   22-27 days after initial contact with spore   In rare cases an individual is able to survive, move and maintain some of their basic life sustaining capabilities. These hosts, serve as mobile carriers for the fungus, dislodging husks of their rot with ever step, that have the ability to infect anyone or anything to come in contact with them. Lacking most of their senses by this point, carriers are beyond salvation, and are often euthanized when spotted.   Internal Contraction   Another common infection type of Rot Fungus, is an infestation of the nasal cavity and sinuses, throat, or lungs. Inhaled when airborne, spores introduced to the body through this method latch onto the mucus membrane of the host body, and like on the exterior, burrow and grow on the surface of the infected area. Irritating the area, infections of this type usually result in a stuffed or runny nose, shortness of breath, discolored mucus and coughing. Escalating more rapidly, this form of contraction is significantly more dangerous than external introduction, and usually kills the host within just over a week. Reaching stage two just as quickly as a normal infection, the arrival of the burn like effect destroys the lungs and respiratory system, resulting in death in virtually all cases.  

Perpetual Rot Fuzz

  As already stated, Rot Fungus is particularly hazardous to certain agricultural workers, as it exists primarily around farmland, and in agricultural canals, where the heat and humidity are at their greatest. Furthermore, not all farmers and agricultural industries are affected by the lesser form of the infection. Farmers working on cash crops, or with grains, typically do not see Rot Fungus infestations at the same frequency as say fruit growers; especially banana farmers, who are widely regarded as the greatest victim of the invasive fungus.   Because of their above average exposure to spores, these farmers working in these areas, need to wash in the oil of the opeht palm regularly to stem the growth of the the fungus. This has the affect of causing immense damage to their skin, as the oil draws out moisture and leaves their skin dried out and cracked. As a result, farmers are left requiring even more oil to stave of the natural irritation of damaged skin, which covers their bodies in scarred, and cracked wounds, which serve as perfect breeding grounds for the fungus.   Unable to properly rid themselves of the infestation's presence in their wounds, Rot Fungus is able to grow and fester under the oil, but not expand to such an extent is escalates beyond the initial stages of an infestation. Forced to apply palm oil to their body to prevent the growth of the fungus, sufferers of Perpetual Rot Fuzz live in constant irritation from their infested wounds, which coated in oil and fuzz cannot heal on their on and permeate. Attempts to remove the layer of fuzz are difficult and in most cases only result in contaminating the equipment, and spreading the fuzz elsewhere on the body.   Prevented from worsening when opeht oil is applied to the affected area, the fungal infection, does not escalate on a surface level to the secondary and tertiary stages on its own. This is not to say escalation is entirely impossible though. If poor hygiene is maintained and spores are dislodged from the oily, fuzzy surface layer of an infestation, they still maintain the potential to restart an infection elsewhere on the body. These lost spores when inhaled, will almost always begin an interior infection, which in virtually all cases, results in death.

History

Originating in the dark swampy jungles of Zanzilore, Rot Fungus proved one of the greatest dangers in the harsh and unforgiving land. Despite this, most plant life in the isolated and humid region, had evolved over millennia to not fall prey to its spread, and as a result, its growth was limited to the deeper regions of the jungle where it lived undisturbed by all but the most invasive of human tribes.   Even with this remote isolation though, the fungus was somehow able to make it aboard a Sunarian vessel during the late 900s FD where an infested cache of grain, would see the fungus arrive in Sunar. Finding an ideal environment for its spread in the Sun Delta, Rot Fungus would would quickly grow from that initial cache of grain, to region spanning crisis that would leave hundreds of thousands dead in its wake.   First appearing in imperial archives, post 978 FD, Rot Fungus would by 980 FD infest almost every sort of life present in the fertile region it had come to call home and so began the First Rot Crisis. Infecting everyone exposed to its spores, Rot Fungus was unlike most diseases which had come before, and attached itself to any sort of life in search of nutrients and growth. Overwhelming the rural communities first, Rot Fungus would always find a way of infecting more and more people. Swept up by the wind, spores of the disease were deposited across Lower Sunar, in great number, creating vast toxic clouds that infected anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the open.   Affecting its first urban centers by around 981 FD, Rot Fungus would drift over the walls of even Sunas, and lay waste to the cities population. Unprepared for death on such a scale the Second Akenit dynasty would even fall prey to its almost carnivorous spread, with the entire line of emperors being wiped out, as the lush gardens of the First Imperial Palace proved a breeding ground for the rampant fungus. Left leaderless, the First Sunarian Empire, ended as its final ruler did, scared, and despoiled by disease next to no one outside of Zanzilore understood. Consumed by Rot Fungus, the last Akenit Emperor, would die in his bed, alone, in the deserted halls of his palace; his family dead or gone, and his servants having fled the moment the first signs of infestation besmirched his regal body.   In the absence of an emperor, the First Sunarian Empire, was no more. Beginning within the days and weeks after his death, the Second Intermediate Period, would carry on hand in hand with the First Rot Crisis; as both brought ruin and chaos upon the empire. Sunas, and much of the Sun Delta, was a wasteland, overrun by the sickening taint of Rot Fungus; which slowly crept south and eastwards until the dryness of the desert brought its steady growth to an end. Left with no semblance of order or government, the once mighty heartland of Sunar, was a corrupted and poisoned land of death and misery; while abroad, regional officials and warlords made grabs for power in the absence of a central government.   Salvation for Sunar would only come in 985 FD, when farmers hailing from Motheb, on the Isle of Mothasp, discovered the anti-fungal effects of the opeht palm's sap, and more specifically, its oil. Beginning a trend that carries on to this day, farmers and other people exposed to Rot Fungus, would onward wash their bodies with the sticky, viscus oil of the tree; killing of the Rot Fungus on their bodies as they slowly used fire to purge it from the vegetation. Beginning a slow reversal, Sunarians would steadily retake the Sun Delta and drive Rot Fungus back, with many refugees and survivors returning to their ancestral cities and homelands by the turn of the century as the First Rot Crisis came to an end.   Remaining endemic to the region even today, Rot Fungus survives in the dark humid canals of the Sun Delta, and in the warm wet fertility of the earth. Killing hundreds each year, its presence never disappears entirely, but people have grown over centuries and millennia, to deal with it by taking measures to prevent its effects. Bathing regularly in opeht oil, avoiding humid and wet places, and regularly culling infested crops, among many others, are all steps made to contain the spread of Rot Fungus that worked to keep Sunar strong and healthy in the many years since the fungus' arrival in the region.   As history has shown though, (through two other Rot Crisis; Second: 25 SD to 43 SD, Third: 728 SD to 731 SD), the threat of Rot Fungus is never gone, nor lessened. Refusing to ever die completely, Rot Fungus returns with a vengeance whenever people begin to grow lax. During times of upheaval and violence, where no one strong or wise enough steps in to prevent its resurgence, Rot slowly but surely comes back from the shadows to spread ruin. Having dealt with it for a millennia, the ever present taint of Rot Fungus, is simply another aspect of life for the men and women of Lower Sunar, who have lived their whole lives with its threat hanging over them.

Cultural Reception

General Sufferers of Rot Fungus

  The average inhabitant of the Sun Delta will contract Rot Fungus at some point in their life. This stems from the widespread evasiveness of the fungus, and the normalization of its presence as something unavoidable but manageable during periods of stability. Because of this, most victims of an infestation are not shunned socially, but are simply given a wide birth until such a time where they can beat off the infection with a coating of opeht oil. Emperors of succumbed to the illness, as well as the poorest of beggars, for this reason it is largely seen as a blight everyone in the region must bear.  

Sufferers of Perpetual Rot Fuzz

  Sufferers of Perpetual Rot Fuzz are treated very differently when compared to the sufferers of the general strain of Rot Fungus. Seen as disgusting spreaders of the fungal disease, most people avoid infected persons as best they can, and wisely refuse to make physical contact in hopes of staving off an infection of their own.   As a result of this treatment, banana farmers and other ideal victims often live solitary isolated lives by themselves or in small family units. Unable to build a family with non infected members of the population because of the widespread disgust they receive; sufferers of Perpetual Rot Fuzz are often the descendants of a long line of sufferers, forced into interbreeding after centuries of separation from the general public.   It is possible to escape this cycle if a person leaves the profession early enough, and avoids the lifestyle that makes contracting Perpetual Rot Fuzz possible; however, because the condition is usually contracted early in childhood for most sufferers, with their parents transmitting it to them as an infant or small child, it is usually too late by adulthood for a person to make the decision to leave the environment. Shunned by the rest of society, many struggle on the streets, until they can no longer afford the opeht oil needed to fight back their illness. Forced to choose between returning to the situation that garnered their illness, or dying as the fungus overwhelms them, the choice is often a simple one, that has seen the condition continue for generation after generation.

Regions Active

Zanzilore: Isolated, Native Species   Sun Delta: Endemic, Invasive Species
Type
Fungal
Origin
Natural
Rarity
Common
Infection Rating (Capacity to infect new hosts): 10/10   Mortality Rating (Capacity to kill the infected host): 7/10   Scarring and Disfigurement Rating (Capacity to disfigure and scar the infected host): 9/10   Geographic Scope Rating (Capacity to spread into new regions): 4/10
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Stage 4-Rot Fungus
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Rot Fungus Plants 1
Rot Fungus Plants 2
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Frog - Rot Fungus
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Treatment

The only way of ridding oneself of Rot Fungus entirely is the rubbing of opeht palm oil over infected areas of skin. All other methods inevitably fail, with cleaning materials becoming contaminated by the spores upon use, as well as serving to only deepen the reach of the spores into infected flesh.   Believed to be the only Sunarian plant life immune to the spread of Rot Fungus, the opeht palm's only real usage beyond serving as timber, is in the production of its viscus oil. Containing neutralizing agents to the fungus, opeht oil somehow kills the fungal spores, by soaking into the skin and dissolving them.   Improving one's chances of survival to near certainty, the discovery of opeht palm oil proved the salvation of the Sunarian Empire, and allowed the survivors of the initial Rot Crisis to reclaim the infested Sun Delta with fire, only a few decades after it first arrived from the jungles of Zanzilore.  

Prevention

  Personnel Prevention   The best way of avoiding Rot Fungus is always to avoid it, but when faced with the loss of one's home and livelihood, most people choose to face the horrible infestation instead. When doing this, it is imperative to wear long sleeves or heavy clothing, as well as a scarf, rag over face mask to protect one's head. Able to catch and stop the spores before contact with the skin can be made, such measures are standard for most rural Sunarians today, and the culling of Rot Fungus, is a fairly common occurrence.   When aware of a Rot Fungus outbreak in the area, it is also a good idea to remain indoors, as any strong gust of wind could send thousands of spores up into the air, infecting entire villages in the span of seconds. If not directly involved in the purging of the infestation, one should always put as much distance between themselves and the fungus as possible, to limit the potential for infection.   As previously stated the only true solvent for an infection of Rot Fungus is to apply opeht oil to the infection. It is also possible to prevent an infection, by regularly washing one's hands, face, and body in the oil, so as to kill of any yet unnoticed spores; however, doing so can have the unwanted effect of contracting the condition known as Perpetual Rot Fuzz, which lasts as a lesser, but lingering form of the fungal infection.   As already mentioned outbreaks of the fungus are not uncommon, and the state has come to serve as the secondary line of defense for most of the empire when talking in regards to Rot Fungus. Because of this, large stockpiles of opeht oil are stored and maintained in every major urban center in the Sun Delta, able to be shipped off to rural settlements when needed, or handed out to the public during times of a renewed crisis.   Societal Prevention   In the case of infected plant life, fire is the simplest and most efficient way of destroying and containing the presence of Rot Fungus. Unable to survive extreme heat and dryness, infected plant life should be piled up and burned to kill of any presence of the fungus. Large crops or granaries are prime growth zones for Fungal Rot, as the humidity and heat of the Sun Delta makes any organic material fair game to the almost carnivorous fungal infestation. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a farmer to discover the presence of the fungus, and be left with little choice but to burn his entire harvest to salvage the rest of his livelihood and life. Incredibly hard to entirely destroy, and requiring an immense level of determination to truly beat, Rot Fungus has over the years since its first arrival in Sunar, emerged time and time again, with a vengeance. Quieting for massive spans of time, be it decades or even centuries, the disease never truly goes away, but is instead contained and limited with fire. Returning in times of chaos or disorder, Rot Fungus has become an endemic crisis for Sunar to deal with, which both the state and locals, fear and respect a great deal. Because of this, the destruction of one's property in the name of survival is a depressing but, necessary reality for most Sunarians, lest they fall victim to a single stray spore during an outbreak.

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15 Jul, 2018 19:28

Congrats on your feature in World Anvil's Summer Camp Roundup for Week 2!