Travel abroad and you may find yourself looking upon societies who shun the diseased and downtrodden. People afraid of what they cannot explain, and will not listen to reason. Those who prefer to point and corn, rather than show charity and compassion.
Such are those who fear the Demon’s Touch.
Ignorance creates Fear
To this day, I have yet to find one willing to hold out a hand of friendship to these poor souls seeking some from of comfort. Isolated to a single area of our country, I’ve traveled and sought for any other signs of this strange affliction. When I could not find an exception, the next step was to study those willing to allow me into their circles.
It was my heartfelt desire to ease the pain and shame placed upon their shoulder by the ignorant, so I traveled north of the city of Andilain, into Lake Marsh, near the keep of Beth-Häron. This is where you will find this ‘Demon’s Touch’.
Where No Demons Tread
Contrary to popular belief, there are no supernatural events afoot, just nature rising up in rare cases to cause chaos. The culprit is a rare swamp fly called a Greenridge Fly — which is comical in a way, because the insect is orange, not green. Found only where the swamp is most fertile, amidst the plants that still grow in stagnant water, this creature surfaces only during the hottest times of the season.
A Greenridge Fly will bite any living creature careless enough to wander through it’s domain, but it’s bite does nothing. Well, it irritates the skin,…and makes a small incision. The danger is if the insect has the opportunity to burrow into that wound and lay its eggs.
A Disease, Not A Curse
The wound made by the Greenridge Fly will burn and itch. Should you wash this wound in a respectable amount of time — two to three days — the infection can be avoided. Yet, left to fester, the eggs will hatch. Now the human body is a remarkable thing, and will not allow the larva to life under the skin. They will die, and then cause an infection.
Again, at this point, if the wound is cleansed early — opened up with a knife and washed, the infection will be abated. It is only when the wound is ignored and left to grow that the infection will grow to its full strength.
The Curse of the Disease
Spending time with these kind and weary folk has shown me why the disease received its name. The effects upon the human body are horrific, starting with bloating bags of puss under the skin. These globes of infection shine through with a hazy green tint to the skin, deforming the flesh several inches from the original bite.
Depending upon the location of the bite, faces swell, backs and shoulders slump, and where there is hair, it will die and fall out. If the infection comes into contact with bone, the integrity will give way. If organs are touched, they will fail. Muscles lose their strength, and in the end, a person will look pale, green, and hunched over in pain.
I have made incisions into the globes, releasing the pressure, but within days, the inflammation will return. If a person is in tremendous pain, this process does provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t last. Those who are bitten in the mid-back or chest — if not treated promptly — usually die to organ failure.
Demon’s Touch is rare. I have only found three dozen cases in the whole of my studies — and most of them live together in closely knit communities, away from civilized society. The saddest part of my discoveries, is that once infected, the disease cannot be transmitted. You cannot become infected by one suffering from its effect.
Only through the bite of a tiny, seasonal fly.