nèlbzilk disorder

Nèlbzilk disorderlisten is a disease which primarily afflicts dwarves, damaging the body's ability to purge antielements. Symptoms include unnatural yellowing and softening of the teeth and nails, fatigue, muscle weakness, and alcohol intolerance. It gets its name, which means "gold tooth" in Sálti, from the appearance of the teeth and nails. The disease has been known in the Koganusân Kingdom since ancient times, but its causes were poorly understood until recently. If untreated, the disease is inevitably fatal in dwarves due to alcohol deficiency.  

Signs and Symptoms

The earliest signs of nèlbzilk disorder are a general weakness of the muscles, often associated by chronic fatigue. Dwarves afflicted with the disorder find it difficult to lift heavy weights, starting with those they could previously lift with difficulty, then progressing to the inability to carry anything much heavier than a light load. They will also find themselves drowsy and tired even after a full night's sleep, often becoming increasingly irritable and quick tempered the further the disease progresses. In its final stages, the afflicted often complain of feeling they had just spent an entire day at hard labor and can barely keep awake, though they only ever fall into a fitful, light sleep from which they are easily awoken.   The clearest evidence that a dwarf is suffering from nèlbzilk disorder is the yellowing of their teeth and nails. This occurs rapidly, often in the space of a few weeks, with even those with previously perfectly white teeth and clear nails finding them stained a dark, golden yellow. As the yellowing progresses, the teeth and nails soften, becoming easily dented and damaged. Those in the final stages can find themselves unable to bite through uncooked vegetables or leave scratches in materials such as candle wax.   Finally, during later stages of the disease, sufferers find themselves unable to tolerate consumption of alcohol. Doing so results in extreme digestive distress, diarrhea, and vomiting between one to two hours after consumption. In the final stages of the disease, even the smell of alcohol can induce extreme nausea and even vomiting, while consumption causes burning pain in the throat and stomach before violent expulsion.   Full expression of symptoms typically take between one to two years. It is typically categorized in four phases. The initial phase consists of slight weakness and fatigue. The yellowing phase begins after six to nine months, beginning as the teeth and nails begin to turn yellow and soften, while muscle weakness and fatigue have begun to begin interfering in daily life. The peaceful phase begins roughly four to six weeks after that, with the teeth and nails reaching peak softness with activities more strenuous than walking medium distances becoming difficult. Within two to four weeks after, the alcohol intolerance begins. Eventually, any consumption of alcohol becomes impossible and the sufferer finds themselves bedridden and constantly in and out of weak sleep. Death typically happens within three months due to organ failure caused by alcohol deficiency.  


The cause of nèlbzilk disorder had long been unknown, but it has recently been determined to be caused by an excess buildup of antielements in the affected's body, which are normally only present in trace amounts. While having many causes, among dwarves this happens most commonly when they are too close in proximity to Hell, damaging the body's ability to rid itself of the antielements. Many Hells are located beneath the surface of realms and dwarves, as burrowing people who frequently mine deeply into their realm, are thus most likely to be exposed to its influence. The exact length of exposure necessary varies from person to person, as individuals have various tolerances to antielements and ability to counteract them. Some can be directly exposed to Hell for years at a time without developing it, while others need only be within a few kilometers of Hell for a few months to develop the imbalance.  


In 498 PC, a dwarf healer named Gongek Shosinnith diagnosed several soldiers from the fortress of Sulebràuòzgagnoth on the realm Kakkögrîm with nèlbzilk disorder. The soldiers all belonged to the same company and had begun showing symptoms within a few weeks of one another. As the disease was not considered to be communicable, the concurrence of the disease in so many people at the same time was unusual. Believing that it was unlikely to be a coincidence, Gongek looked into the history of the company and discovered it had been on the forefront of repelling a demon upwelling several years prior. Miners had accidentally dug too deep and breached Hell, unleashing numerous demons of up to erebian class. These demons overran the lower levels of the fortress, but had been stopped through concerted military effort. The soldiers in the company had participating in the effort to reclaim the overrun areas and seal the breach.   The company was an elite squad and was thus on the front lines of the conflict, which took the better part of a year to complete. While casualties were high in the effort, each of the soldiers had survived the entire campaign with only minor injuries and thus were kept constantly in the field. Gongek realized the pattern and began to research other cases of nèlbzilk disorder, first confirming that they only occurred in dwarves who had lived on realms with a subterranean Hell. Those who had lived on realms such as Shigam, whose Hell is on its moon, did not know the disease. To test his hypothesis, he received permission from some of the terminal soldiers to try extracting antielements from them. Each of them had unusually high levels of antielements in their bodies and began to recover from the symptoms of the disorder almost immediately.  


Nèlbzilk disorder has no permanent cure, but can be effectively treated by occasional extraction of excess antielements from the afflicted's body. Those suffering from nèlbzilk disorder have permanent damage to their body's ability to purge itself of antielements, so they will continue to build up over time. Extraction remedies the symptoms, but does not restore the ability to purge the antielements, thus they begin to reaccumulate after being extracted. Depending on the amount of damage, this means those suffering must have the extraction done every few months or years.  

Non-dwarf incidence

While primarily affecting dwarves, nèlbzilk disorder can affect other species as well. The most common cause among non-dwarves is excess consumption of demon flesh. It manifests similar symptoms, but because other species largely do not need alcohol to survive, it is not fatal.

Cover image: by Denis Khusainov


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