Endless Blue – Week 79 – Tidal Malaise: Sickness in the Seas   1 comment

Biology

Tidal Malaise

Wherever life thrives, other forms of life evolve to prey upon it.  Such is the ancestry of the great oceanic predators like the carcharadons and pleisosaurs, but not all aggressive creatures embraced the evolutionary path that led to massive size.  Some of the most lethal forms of life in Elqua are too small to be seen.  These are the microbes and viruses that take advantage of the ocean currents to travel from host to perspective victim.

Complete submersion makes transmission of communicable diseases easier.  Unlike our world, where the air makes it somewhat more easy to avoid contaminated sources, water flows every where, and eventually through the gills of all pisceans.  Because it is so easy to catch a disease when you float in shared fluid, Elquan society has created social taboos and mores to govern daily life, all with an eye on preventing the spread of maladies.  Dietary constraints are a major deterrent used by piscean life, and especially the Church of Olyhydra.  The lists of animals and plants that are deemed “unclean” by the Olyhydran dogma is long and convoluted.  Further sanctions on where bodily waste may be expelled, avoidance of spawning waters, and a myriad of other laws dictate the life of the devout Olyhydran.  It is no faint claim that Olyhydrans call their diety “the Harsh Mistress”.

Sickness in the Seas

Unfortunately, scientific medicine is still in its infancy in the Endless Blue.  The College of Doctors is an arm of the Resurrectionist philosophy that has only now found a level of acceptance in the Mer Currents.  Many pisceans still see them as corpse stealers and plague bearers.  It has been a hard current to cross, as historically Anatomists have been known as grave robbers and persecuted en masse, the worst known as the Culling Purge.  With few chances to observe, hypothesize, and test their ideas, these Anatomists have only a basic understand that disease is passed from individual to individual through some strange property of the normally life-giving water, but are at a loss as to how to prevent the spread.

Argulus — Argulus is caused by infestation of lice — a crustacean parasite that can just barely be seen with the naked eye — causing morbidity and eventually death.  Despite their ease of notice, they can be readily overlooked when doing a scale scrape, appearing as just dark spots on the host that could just as likely be coloration if not for their movement.

Anchor worms — Another parasite, anchor worms tax the systems of their host and weaken its resistance to other diseases, though rarely kill in itself.  The larval form buries itself deeply into the muscular tissue of the host, making it difficult to remove.  There it incubates for several months, where upon it makes its way back out of the host.  This leaves ugly, obvious wounds that do not heal.  It is a common disease in areas of bloodshed.

Blackgill  — Blackgill consists of a loss of scales and/or coloration, a blackening tar on the gills, lesions, the body wasting away, spine curling and other skeletal deformities.  Usually terminal, even the Resurrectionists advise euthanasia over making the victim suffer through the disease.  It plays a much similar role as tuberculosis does in our world.

Dropsy — A mysterious disease, it normally only manifests in the already sick.  It affects the renal system and results in fluid retention, causing the body to bloat and scales to distend.  The distended scales make the soft flesh beneath vulnerable to parasites (see argulus above).  Kelaguen infusions have shown a modicum of results in combating the disease in the short term.

Fin rot — A bacterial infestation of the webbing of fins, fin rot is unknown among the Orcans, Chelon, or Lumulus (and few care if it affects the Ceph).  The bacteria feeds on the thin membranes, and use the easily accessed capillaries to travel through the circulatory system to other fins.  The leprosy of the setting, it is a terrifying decaying of the piscean body while he still lives.

Hole in the Head — a dietary disease, comes from poor intake of vitamins and calcium.  Manifests in pitting of the skull and down the lateral line of the victim that grow into cavities, the flesh sinking into the vacancy.  The disease can be treated, but recovery from the progressed effects cannot be mitigated.

Ich — Also known as White Spot disease, it is one of the  most common and oldest of maladies.  It forms small white cysts on the body — the epynomous “white spots”.  A protazoean cell attaches to the piscean’s skin and feeds on bodily fluids.  As it matures, it grows the white cyst shell, usually the first outward sign of infection.  It is usually too late to do much at this point, and the victim must wait until the cyst has aged and dropped off.  These shed cysts will eventually crack and release more of the protozoa into the water to repeat the cycle.  Sufferers are generally isolated to low, near Shelf level of ocean where the currents will drag the hatching eggs down to the sea floor instead of circulating them among the populace.

Velvet — An incredibly virulent disease that manifests with a reddish-brown or golden dust spreading outwards from the gills.  The primitive races tend to be resistant to the damaging effects of the disease, and become carriers.  The civilized races seem to be especially susceptible to velvet, possibly the result of epigenetics.  It inhibits breathing, shortening the breath and eventually asphyxiating the victim.

Wasting — The terrifying syndrome that recurs yearly on the anniversary of the Rending of the Gorgon, consists of the body’s muscles twisting incessantly, to the point of tearing apart.  It has been partially weaponized, with those knowingly infected plotting to expose innocents to the disease where it will do the most damage.

Infection is a daily worry for those that breathe and swim the waters of Elqua.  Never discount the social stigma that might result in the superstitious from a tiny cough or ashen complexion.

 “Suffer not the unclean, lest your life suffer as well…”
Olyhydran proverb

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 79 – Tidal Malaise: Sickness in the Seas

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 109 – Cruor Druids: Wielders of the Red Tide | Endless Blue

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