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The Inkusel

We had to dispose of patient 24 today. Somehow, they had gotten into the control samples for the experiment G was about to run. They downed all of it and were raving about being blind.   I had to call in the Healer to put them out of their misery. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of their eyes being completely black and their skin turned a dark mottled green. Especially as they had been my [scribbled out].
— medical log from a Runner at the Goparanus Facility.
  The Inkusel has fundamentally ruined life for the Jhanté and Din peoples of the Inkuna Forest. No one is certain how long the contagion has plagued the jungle, but it hounds every village and city. If its widespread nature wasn’t terrifying enough, the damage it does to people is catastrophic.  

Stage 1: Warning Signs

Each infected person remembers how they got the Inkusel. Most get it through contamination of drinking water, a few others through contact with the Inkuborn. A few, the Gojoth, infect themselves on purpose in order to personally understand the disease they are fighting.   In any case, the first stage of infection has two major symptoms. First, the infected have a slight greenish tinge to the skin, particularly in the hands and the head. The other is a recurring nightmare of being chased or hunted, usually by an Inkuborn creature of immense size. Both symptoms are mild enough and at this stage, it is not infectious, so many simply go about their lives as normally as they can.  

Stage 2: Worrisome Acts

The second stage of infection is hard to reach unless one has been purposefully infected by the Inkuborn; contaminated water is insufficient. The greenish tinge begins to go black in some places, and it becomes more prominent.   But the key horrors of this stage is that the Inkusel reaches the brain and the infected become contagious. In the first case, the Inkusel causes the sufferers to become obsessed with cleanliness or with purposefully infecting themselves with more of the disease. They often need to be kept somewhere safe or they will wander into the forest. From a contagious standpoint, their bodily fluids will contain tiny traces of the disease, and as time goes on, the amount grows until most of those fluids are greenish-black.  

Stage 3: Point of No Return

Stage three Inkusel sufferers have usually gotten out of the hospitals and gotten attacked by Inkuborn, or have purposefully drunk stage two or three sufferers body fluids. At this point, the all consuming need to infect themselves suddenly ends, and they lose any sanity they have left. Most dangerously, they will turn their energy to trying to infect other people or sources of water, spreading the disease yet further.   Most people usually kill the infected at this stage and burn the bodies in order to prevent them getting others sick. This is particularly important as, occasionally, the Inkuborn will grab the stage three infected if they wander into the forest, turning them into Inkuborn.
CW: disease (including purposeful self-infection), death, body horror, medical content, cannibalism (specifically drinking body fluids)
Type
Supernatural
Origin
Mutated
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired
Rarity
Uncommon

Inkusel In Other Matter

The Inkusel is most clear and trackable when it infects sophonts, as the patients talk, can explain their symptoms, or act in clearly observable patterns. But the Inkusel appears to be a particularly adaptable contagion: it can infect anything.   One of the most common non-sophont Inkusel victims are trees. Their roots drink in the infected water or get slashed and bled on by Inkuborn, and it turns their sap greenish-black before turning them into Inkuborn too. The same thing that happens to sophonts can affect other animals, which often begin to walk and turn aggressive. Then there are times when the Inkusel infects rock and metal...but those are blessedly few and far between.
All images in this article were created by me, EmperorCharlesII, unless otherwise indicated.

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