The Withering Condition in The Magic Multiverse | World Anvil
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The Withering

The Withering is what the slow decline of Renath is called by the people who encounter it. Following the retreat of the Gods or the Powers, depending on which religion one belongs to, the world began to slowly lose its life essence.
Our first view of the Withering that laid on the other side of the Dirtakal Peaks was a veritable ocean of sand. Not a single tree would grow in that waste, and the air felt like the inside of an oven.

1. Desertification

The most common symptom of the Withering is a slow drying effect, like a drought that never ends. The weather becomes hot and dry, even when it was once wet and cloudy. Crops fail, and any plants in the region begin to dry out and die. Many people leave the region at this stage as food and fresh water become scarce.
The heat was even more unbearable once we got into the valley. We thankfully filled our waterskins by the mountain spring, so we had enough to travel several days without needing to refill. Out worry was that we would run out before that...

2. The Darkening

As the Withering continues unabated, it begins to leech the colour from various objects. Already-yellowed leaves turn a dark grey. Deep caves suddenly seem even more hostile as light cannot penetrate as deep inside. What dark and decayed trees remain begin to cast horrible dark shadows across the forest. By this point, no one will want to stay in these areas, as the Darkening stage begins to paint everything a dark, sickly gray.
The most bizarre part was the grey sand. About a few days into our trek into the desert, we began to see patches of dirt that were a greyish-black, like the dried beds of swamps. The thought that any water once graced this region was hard to accept, but then our clothes began to lose colour too...

3. The Depths of Despair

  In some of the deepest underground regions of lands touched by the Withering, a third stage has been discovered: the shadows and darkness of these areas move and spread like a disease. Any light brought into these areas is instantly choked out. Plants in these areas are poisonous, any remaining water here is brackish and foul-smelling, the rocks here are black like obsidian. Thankfully, these areas are never found aboveground, but many theorize that unless the Gods or the Powers come and restore the landscapes of Renath, the Depths will begin to take root above ground as well.
One night, Reznar began to tremble and shake in his sleep. We woke him, and he said he had terrible nightmares of tendrils of darkness coming up from beneath the ground and choking him. In the morning, we found his clothing had suddenly turned a dark black, and his already-pale skin had gone an ashy grey. I don't think the poor dwarf ever quite recovered, truth be told...

The Remnants of the Passing

However, not all of Renath is suffering. When the Gods/Powers left Renath millennia in the past, they took some of their remaining power and concentrated it into small artifacts known as the Remnants of the Passing. These items, in short, contain a sustainable source of life essence that can counteract the Withering and keep it at bay. The only issue is that many of them have gone missing or are kept under very close observation.  

Effects on Animals and People

Most of these effects tend to cause harm to plants, but once the third stage is reached, any creature that spends time in the Withering will begin to feel it. Many people feel a deep sense of dread, like all that they have ever accomplished was useless or ineffectual. Others will feel drawn to the dark, not wanting to leave the Withering's affected area until it's too late. Animals with low intelligence have also been seen randomly lashing out at anything that moves, their movements jittery and their eyes wild.

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