- Feeds on other mana-bearing life.
The Flower Plague, known in-story simply as "Flower", is a lethal and highly virulent parasitic fungi that targets mana-bearing creatures. It is the only mana-bearing wildlife known to have survived on the surface following the cataclysm ending the Moon's Age.
The Flower Plague is a highly-specialized fungi targeting mana-bearing life. As such, it poses no danger to non-fae beings such as ferals. The majority of the fungus appears as mold-like growths that cover and eventually consume the body of an infected host. In addition, large root-like structures develop throughout a host in more advanced stages. Perhaps most distinctive is the eventual development of a vibrant red flower sprouting from the head of infected beings. This flower glows faintly with mana as it feeds on the host's aura and appears to play a key reproductive role.
Reproducing in the manner typical of most fungi, The Flower Plague begins its lifestyle in a latent stage, dispersing spores capable of lying dormant for extended periods of time. The fungus is exceptionally virulent, with an infection rate at or near 100% for those directly exposed to infectious spores. Once the spores have infected a host, progression is rapid, with symptoms of fever and fatigue appearing as quickly as one day after infection.
Most alarmingly, as infection advances, infected individuals suffer profound effects upon their mental state. Hallucinations, paranoia, and other forms of insanity or dementia appear, limiting the ability of an infected individual to recognize their own symptoms. Indeed, a mere five days after infection, a host's perception and memory has been so dramatically altered that they perceive visible growths as unrelated objects. Within 10 days, these psychoses advance to such a degree that the host is entirely unaware of massive fungal growths spreading over their own bodies and those of others nearby.
These conditions continue to worsen as the fungus feeds off its host, during which time a bud begins to develop on the host as the fungus enters its reproductive phase. This bud appears to preferentially form on the head of a host, typically near the temple. By this stage of infection, a surviving host is nearly comatose and greatly weakened, with death occurring soon after. Eventually, the host succumbs to the effects of the parasitic infestation, and the reproductive bud blooms into fungus' distinctive flower.
Despite the death of the host, fungal growths continue to spread throughout the corpse and its immediate vicinity as the flower reaches its full bloom, eventually resulting in a rotted and desiccated corpse containing a large amount of infectious spores. With the host fully drained of mana and nutrients, the fungus is no longer capable of further growth, eventually resulting in the flower withering and disappearing as the fungus enters its latent phase.
Countermeasures and Treatments
As The Flower Plague spreads through direct contact with fungal spores, it is possible to avoid infection by limiting one's exposure. A basic mana shield is sufficient to destroy or block spores, though extended use of such a shield is exhausting; leaving it a short-term solution at best.. Likewise, a physical barrier such as a sealed glass container is sufficient, though impractical outside of laboratory conditions.
More effective is the outright destruction of existing spores. However, given the extreme virulence of The Flower Plague, is is difficult and dangerous to completely eradicate a potential source of infestation. Fire is especially effective, though naturally destructive and a last resort to cleanse an area of infestation with extreme prejudice.
While quarantine or destruction of infested areas is ideal, it is possible to treat those infected. While a previous cure developed by Femi Val'Jaal'darya was capable of treating advanced stages, the destruction or use of all existing samples make treatment options far more limited. If infection is identified promptly, a blood purge utilizing sorcery can potentially cure infections in the earliest of stages. However, for those in more advanced stages of infection, little can be done except quarantine.
History - Destruction of Amaranth
Myth of the Flower Knight
The true origins of The Flower Plague is shrouded in myth, though it is known to have devastated the ancient empire of Amaranth. This nation was the former home of Flower Queen Blossom. Coming to power in her own nation some 500 years after end of the Moon's Age, she bore a profound hatred of drowolath. Despite mounting pressures to produce heirs, no suitable dokkalfar men remained. Recalling childhood memories of a beautiful flower and seeking to put an end to the pursuits, she issued a public challenge that any suitor would have to travel to the surface wastelands and return with the flower of her childhood. Though meant as an impossible task to dissuade further advances, the legends state one knight accepted the challenge.
Though the true tale would become shrouded in myth, by some means the knight was able to return with a specimen of The Flower Plague, claming the right to stand by the Queen's side as her consort. Despite its extreme virulence, the tales spoke of many years of peace before the infestation brought the nation to ruin, suggesting the myths to be wildly inaccurate.
History - Moonless Age
Untold years after the fall of the great nation, the Val'Jaal'darya came to rediscover the ruins of Amaranth in the course of her scientific research. With their researchers having rediscovered Queensbane, Ill'haress Asira'malika authorized the study of the flower and its potential as a biological weapon. Leading the research and seeking to study its effects on living beings in person, Femi Val'Jaal'darya funded an expedition to one of the fallen empire former outposts near the southern border of the Nidavellir. Keeping the danger secret from the Blue Banner relic hunter group she had hired, she tasked them with investigating the outpost under the pretense of gathering valuable relics, intent intent on exposing them to the fungal spores within the ruins. As planned, the mercenaries came into close contact with the spore-laden husk of an ancient victim.. Though only remaining within the ruins for several hours, each of the mercenaries had become infected. No longer requiring their unwitting test subjects to remain in the are and seeking to avoid their own exposure, the Jaal'darya researched informed the Blue Banner group the they would begin returning to Chel. Though suspicious, the mercenaries followed their orders, allowing the two Jaal'darya to follow from a safe distance as the infections progressed. Within ten days, each of the mercenaries was visibly infected and suffering extreme psychosis, prompting Femi to declare the experiment a success that would please Asira'malika.
A Nidraa'chal Bioweapon
In the coming years, Femi would continue to study The Flower Plague and its applications as a weapon. However, unbeknownst to the leaders of the Val'Jaal'darya, Femi had become a Nidraa'chal agent in service of Snadhya'rune, continuing her experiments within Felde. Eventually, Femi developed a viable cure to Queensbane infection, allowing Snadhya'rune to announce her intention to use the the fungus upon clans that would question her rule, using the threat of withholding the cure to compel submission. Unfortunately, the research had been revealed to the Sarghress by Femi's own daughter, leading to the assassination of Femi and the destruction of nearly all known samples of the cure. With spores already dispersed at several locations within Chel and preliminary work on recreating a cure still in early stages, a plague soon developed.
This article reflects events up to Chapter 56.
- Chapter 35, page 19
- Amaranth Expedition, page 6
- Amaranth Expedition, page 7
- Amaranth Expedition, page 9
- Chapter 46, page 7
- Chapter 48, page 23
- Amaranth Expedition, page 5
- Chapter 56, page 6
- Chapter 48, page 38
- Chapter 48, page 39
- Flower Knight, page 1
- Flower Knight, page 7
- Amaranth Expedition, page 3
- Amaranth Expedition, page 1
- Amaranth Expedition, page 2
- Amaranth Expedition, page 4