On the Nature of the Crystal Dream

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"Bartholomew Riggatelo Lawton the Third, esteemed member of the Sage's College, hereby requests a meeting with all available members of the Earthweaver's Circle at Fort Shaundalar, regarding persistent reports of an infection crystalline in nature. This meeting shall be held within the Earthweaver Enclave this Monday the Fourth, at the time of sundown. All are welcome to attend."

The simple posting can be found tacked to the tavern's notice board, and also at the entrance to the Earthweaver enclave.

At the appointed time, Sage Bartholomew looks over a moderately-sized crowd of questioning faces. He motions for silence, waiting for the assembled healers and interested parties to give them his attention.

"Esteemed healers of the Earthweavers," he begins, "With the aid of recently recovered tomes, my research has enlightened me on the nature of this mysterious infection rearing its head within the local lands. I come to you now to share this knowledge."

"Centuries past, this pox had made itself known and ravaged the southern regions of what is now Rocholm. I merely suspsected it at first, but records have confirmed that it displayed the same symptoms many of you had encountered recently; creatures with crystals growing from their skin and within their bodies, violently hostile to all who approach. What knowledge I possessed previously indicated that this epidemic mysteriously vanished more than five centuries ago. The latest records I have recovered tell me that it had not vanished, but was sealed."

"Thanks to the magically-preserved tomes that were recovered in a recent expedition, I have learned that this disease is in fact no disease; it is a result of a malevolent magical aura, not entirely a curse, nor necromantic. The infection is magical in nature, and does not spread as a typical sickness. Contact with the infected will not infect someone, but prolonged exposure to the infection's magical aura will convert someone over the course of a fortnight, as their willingness to leave an infected area's magical aura gradually erodes away. The infection converts flora much quicker than fauna, providing a sign that an area is within the infection's area of influence. Plant life turns brittle and crystalline, the tips sparkling in the light. The infection sustains infected creatures through its magic, requiring them to no longer eat, drink, or sleep."

"Those completely within the hold of this infection, referred to as the 'Crystal Dream', are completely hostile to any that are not similarly infected. Previous affiliations hold no sway, suggesting some sort of mental link between infected creatures. Curiously, some part of the infected's minds appear to remain intact; when left to their own devices, an infected creature will display subconscious habits it held before infection. Animals will graze, guardsmen will stand at their posts, and so on. Those who are cured of influence have displayed amnesiac properties, describing the entire experience of their time infected as being one long, continuous dream."

"Yes, I say cured, as there is a cure, taxing though it may be. An infected creature is kept just at the moment of their death, their spirit trapped within their body, by this horrible affliction. The crystals resonate with the magical aura, keeping the creature on its feet and mobile. When the creature is slain, the crystals loose their influence, letting the spirit free. If the spirit is administered the effect of a Purify spell shortly after the host creature is killed, then the Dream's hold on the being will be erased. The victim can then be given a Life spell and restored to life, free of influence. It is a costly cure, but a cure nonetheless."

"The last of the information I have to share is on the source of this malady. The records I have obtained reference a so-called 'Heart of the Dream'. Dates referencing this heart coincide with the disappearance of the infection, centuries ago. The heart is apparently the source of the magical aura, spreading itself at a slow and steady rate. Most worrisome is that nearly every record of the heart overstates the fact that it is apparently indestructible. The only hint I have ascertained is a single mention of a 'Sealed Vessel', used to trap the heart away and eliminate its influence. Whatever this vessel may be, I believe it is the key to eliminating the crystal dream once more, and possibly the cause for its sudden resurgence."

"As for limiting the spread of the aura, that knowledge remains yet beyond my reach. I hope to come to you again with a more concrete solution very shortly, before this situation deteriorates further."

Bartholomew opens his arms wide, displaying his hands palm up. "With that, I shall conclude this seminar and open to any questions you may have about this infection," he says, looking out over the gathered crowd.


Radke was definitely not an earthweaver, more just a concerned passerby who had somehow stumbled into the few forays taken into investigating this mess. He'd fought enough of the creatures infected by this strange plague that he considered himself an interested party. So he'd cleaned himself up a bit, thrown on a clean cloak, amd joined the press of people headed to attend Bartholomew's information session.

It was good to hear that he wasn't about to sprout crystals from his nose if he crossed blades with the dreamers at least. Almost immediately as Bartholomew finished was his fist in the air to indicate he had a few questions. He slid easily back into the northern patois he had adopted when he arrived in theae lands and started calling himself Johm.

"A few questions if you'll bear with me. What would happen to someone who ate infected livestock or produce? We've had a lot o food coming inta the fort that just can't get checked properly. Also the first infected we bumped inta were slower n me fore coffee but they're startin to move with a purpose of late. Any idea why?"

If this could spread by food, none of the local farms had run afoul of the stuff yet, but if an independent hunter or forager accidentally brought in tainted fare... Or worse the unspoken, who he suspected to eat the dead, caught the Dream. There were enough of them to spread tue damned plague everywhere.
"Excellent questions! As the symptoms of infection are highly noticeable, I would not anticipate anyone mistakenly consuming infected foodstuffs. As infection is a result of exposure to the aura, and not communicable through contact, I would wager that the effects of mistakenly consuming infected material would range from mild indigestion to... well, severe poisoning. It's hard to know the answer without any cases to study."

Bartholomew pauses for a moment, before continuing. "As for your second question, I cannot fathom for what purpose the infected may be moving. All documents I have uncovered have shown the only common behavior between victims of the last historical epidemic being violent hostility towards the non-infected. Individual creatures may have their own quirks based on the host, but I do not believe there to be any greater purpose driving them."
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