Infected

Trigger Warning: blood

We leave Tukanara, now returning to the Lukravis Federation. Many of you are unhappy about this next destination because we’ll be surrounded by poverty and suffering again. Our first stop is a city in the savanna followed by a smaller town in the mountains. Then we travel south to the subtropics, staying in a coastal city called Truna.

You immediately notice a difference when we reach Truna. The streets are much less populated, and half the buildings are falling apart, appearing abandoned. Many of you opt not to explore the city, instead choosing to stay in the inn listening to stories. Let me tell you why Truna is so empty.

* * * * *

About a decade ago, a young healer named Jarmon made a house call. According to the patient’s wife, he was unable to get out of bed due to his illness. He had a fever and was coughing up blood. Jarmon knew what the disease probably was, but he wanted to confirm. Thankfully, he had the ability to create wards, so he was able to protect himself from infectious diseases.

“Oh, thank the moons, you’re here,” the wife said when Jarmon arrived at her home. “He’s upstairs in the bedroom.”

Jarmon followed her into the room and noticed the blood stains on the bedding. The man was sweating profusely, and his skin was covered in red spots. He coughed frequently, blood coming up in large quantities. Jarmon carefully examined the patient and knew his initial diagnosis was correct.

“How long has he been sick?” he asked the wife.

“A few days.”

“Have you come into contact with any of his bodily fluids?”

“Yes. I cleaned up some of the blood.”

Jarmon took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but it’s elans. Your husband has about a week to live. There’s nothing I can do for him other than to end his suffering now–with both of your permission, of course. And I’m afraid it’s highly contagious, so you’ve likely been infected too.”

The woman sat on the bed, a hand pressed against her chest, her face pale.

“I’m very sorry,” Jarmon said. “I wish I could do more.”

“How-how long before I know whether or not I…have it?”

“The earliest symptom is a fever. If you don’t have one within a week, your body has managed to fight off the virus. I’m going to have to ask you to quarantine, so you don’t spread it to anyone else. Have either you or your husband been in contact with anyone besides me since he started showing symptoms?”

The woman told him she had gone to work and had gotten supplies from the market. Jarmon took notes.

“I’ll give you some time for you and your husband to decide how you’d like to proceed. When would you like me to return?”

“Tomorrow,” the husband said between coughs.

“I’ll see you then. Again, I’m sorry to be the bearer of such terrible news.” Jarmon left and went to the wife’s place of work—a school, unfortunately—and to the market stalls she had visited. Everyone who had come into contact with her was asked to quarantine, but Jarmon refrained from telling anyone what the disease was to avoid causing mass panic. The last thing he needed was for the whole city to know a deadly virus was on the loose.

The next day Jarmon eased his patient’s passing and left the wife alone to grieve. He hoped she was lucky and hadn’t caught it, but he knew the odds weren’t in her favor. Jarmon fixed a broken leg, treated a woman with a fungal infection, and healed a child with a deep cut on his foot. Then he got another disturbing call.

Another person was showing symptoms of elans. He went through the same procedure of tracking all individuals the infected person had come into contact with, and with his patient’s permission, he ended her suffering too.

After finishing the house call, Jarmon contacted the mortuary and called for a meeting amongst all the city’s healers.

“I’m afraid I’ve just had two patients with elans,” Jarmon told them. “We have the potential for an epidemic.”

The healers all murmured amongst themselves. “I wanted to notify you, so that we can be prepared for the worst should it come to fruition.”

“Have the exposed individuals been contacted?” one healer asked.

“Yes. I’ve advised them all to quarantine. I haven’t mentioned elans because I don’t want to cause a panic.”

“How many people are we talking about?” another healer asked.

“Unfortunately, a lot,” Jarmon said. “At least a hundred from the first case. Twenty from the second.”

“This is bad,” a third healer said. “Do we know where the disease may have originated from?”

“I couldn’t find any similarities in the patients’ recent activities,” Jarmon said. “We likely have a population of ov who are carrying the disease and passing it on through their bites.”

“Those damn bugs,” the second healer said. “We should encourage people to protect themselves against bites for the time being.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” the third healer said. “Let’s put everyone on high alert for ov bites and signs of illness.”

* * * * *

Over the next two weeks, the healers had twenty-seven more cases of elans. Jarmon alone had nine. He and the other healers were concerned by the rapid spread of the virus. They issued quarantine orders and educated people on how to protect themselves from ov bites and person-to-person spread.

Once they hit a hundred cases, they had no choice but to tell the city’s inhabitants that they were dealing with elans. Naturally, everyone panicked. A large portion of the population packed up their belongings, vowing to live in the woods until it was safe again. The wealthy portion of the city stocked up on supplies and refused to leave their homes. Those who were too poor to abandon their jobs had no choice but to risk infection. They did the best they could to stay covered and avoid bodily fluids, but the virus was spreading so quickly that even the most cautious were getting it.

Within a month, half of the city had been affected. Jarmon and the other healers who could protect themselves from infection went around diagnosing and ending the infected people’s suffering. Jarmon had one unfortunate day where he had to help seventeen young children leave this life.

Out of the thousands of people who were infected, only two managed to fight the disease and survive, though they had severe damage to their organs that Jarmon and the other healers had to repair through hours of magical healing.

At the end of it all, half of the city’s population was dead with the poor being disproportionately affected. The other half was starving, grieving, and terrified to leave their homes. Jarmon and the healers did their best to help with the recovery effort.

Even now, ten years later, the city is still struggling to recover. Many who survived left the subtropics for more temperate climates where ov bites and elans don’t exist. But many had no choice but to stay, and they’re always on the lookout for the next outbreak.

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