THE GHUN'TLOR DISEASE ("CURSED BLOOD")

SYMPTOMS - EFFECTS - CURE/PREVENTION
VECTOR/CAUSE - ENDEMIC - HISTORY/EPIDEMICS - MYTH/LORE

The disease known as Ghun'tlor (lit. "Cursed Blood") is a disease known to affect orcs, and sometimes people of mixed orcen and human bloodlines. Fatigue, hallucinations, loss of weight and the inability to eat certain foods are all symptoms, from a mild to severe degree. The disease is thought to originate among the orcs from the Northern regions of Sarvonia but it has been documented in other areas where people of orcen ancestry are known to live, such as Lorehaven and the Kaaer'dár'shín tribe of Caeel’heroth.

Symptoms
. The symptoms of Ghun’tlor can begin in childhood or adulthood as there seems no set age range where the disease is most likely to strike. The disease can progress quickly, beginning with fatigue and light headedness. The victim often can live and work normally for many weeks or months thinking that nothing is wrong except that they are simply tired. The victim rarely seeks treatment at this stage.

The second stage usually begins with weight loss and loss of appetite. The victim is no longer hungry and becomes sick to the stomach if any meat is eaten. Violent vomiting is the typical result of eating meat at this stage. The victim can eat fruits and vegetables and that has been known to ease the symptoms for a while, but the lack of meat in the diet is often the most disturbing symptom as half-orcs are known to be hearty meat eaters. This stage can range from mild to severe, mild being that large amounts of meat a day are not tolerated to severe where little to no amount of meat is tolerated.


Another symptom, usually coupled with the intolerance for meat, is probably the most frightening. Hallucinations are common among those with Ghun’tlor as the victim begins to "see" and "hear" things that are not there. The hallucinations can be past memories, dreams or nightmares. The hallucinations can vary between small noises or occasional "shadows" to seeing entire situations or occurrences before them. The hallucinations can last between a few blinks to several minutes and are coupled with extreme disorientation.
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Effects. The deterioration of the mind's ability to discern between what is real and what isn't and the physical inability to gain nourishment from meat are the chief effects of this disease. Also, as the victim cannot eat as they used to, they lose weight and strength. Fatigue is also a noticeable effect as the victim becomes more tired after certain physical exertions that before would have had no effect.
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Cure/Prevention. There is no known cure for Ghun’tlor. A child affected with the disease can learn to tolerate the symptoms by eating little or no meat and usually the effects of the hallucinations are not as severe. With the proper care, a child can learn to cope with the symptoms by eating fruits and vegetables, little meat, and exercising daily to build stamina. The hallucinations can be coped with by having someone to accompany the child in case the victim becomes disoriented and lost. Usually, a child growing up with Ghun’tlor cannot be a warrior as the symptoms would hinder horse riding or fighting. However, it is thought that many shamans who claim to receive visions from gods or spirits are actually adults who have lived with a mild form of Ghun’tlor all of their lives.

An adult who begins to display the symptoms of Ghun’tlor can be more of a challenge to treat. Often, the adult cannot cope with the slow descent into maddening hallucinations and the inability to eat meat and they grow depressed and frustrated. The loss of the ability to perform their duties also hinders the victim. An adult with Ghun’tlor requires a drastic change in lifestyle and often they do not have the willpower to do so. If the effects of the disease are ignored, the fatigue and hallucinations can cause the victim to act in unpredictable ways and more than once has a victim simply wandered off chasing an illusion of the mind only to fall off of a cliff or mistakenly attack random passers-by thinking that they are a foe meaning to harm them.

Juk’lan tea, a drink made from the leaves of the juk’lan shrub, combined with waterberry juice, is a common remedy used by the peoples of the North to ward off the symptoms of what the Kuglimz call the Lor’ang’urg disease. The tea helps relieve fatigue, sleep disorders, and other ailments and is also used to help treat the effects of Ghun’tlor by relieving fatigue and, to a small degree, the severity of the hallucinations. The tea’s recipe was most likely passed down from the Kaaer'dár'shín’s Kuglimz ancestors and has been a staple medicinal drink for the tribe ever since.
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Vector/Cause. The cause of Ghun’tlor is unknown, although it is thought that the unstable merging of orcen and human blood is the cause. Such interbreeding between the two races is thought to sometimes cause the child formed from the union to have an unstable body unable to handle the differing racial characteristics. The disease has been known to be passed down along a family line, but not always, as the disease can become known in a family with no previous allowances of the disease. The only known fact is that Ghun’tlor strikes those of orcen bloodlines and those of mixed human and orcen bloodlines, with the symptoms more severe if the orcen blood is greater whereas the disease is more mild with a lesser degree of orcen descent.  
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Endemic. Ghun’tlor is known among the Kaaer'dár'shín tribe of Northern Sarvonia as there exists a clan within that tribe that is known to be a mix of human and orcen heritage. The cases among the members of the tribe are rare, perhaps one out of every twenty children born have the disease and one out of every fifty adults can begin to exhibit the effects of the disease, at any age after seventeen years. There have been cases of Ghun’tlor all over Sarvonia where half-orcs reside, but the most cases are in Northern Sarvonia. The extent of the disease amongst full-blooded orcs is unknown, as the orcen tribes rarely keep such records and usually kill or disown weak members.

The port city of Lorehaven in the province of Manthria is inhabited by a fair number of half-orcs and thus Ghun’tlor has been documented there as well. Unlike the less civilized Sarvonian orcen tribes, the Lorehaven half-orcs with Ghun’tlor are often given juk’lan tea, however, the leaves of the juk’lan are not native to Manthria and often have to be purchased. As a result, those with the disease have a more difficult time stemming the symptoms as purchasing the tea results in a life-long investment of coin.
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Myth/Lore. It is thought that many of the great shamans of the Kaaer'dár'shín tribe have Ghun’tlor because of the many visions the shamans claim to receive. The shaman's visions can range from a simple vision, unobtrusive and quiet to a complete journey where the shaman claims to be following a spirit guide through forests and plains until the vision leaves him suddenly. The shaman interprets this vision and the clan listens and follows his instruction.

It is known that the shamans of the Kaaer'dár'shín are forbidden to eat meat for religious purposes as a way of demonstrating their allegiance to the spirits. It is seen as a personal sacrifice. Knowing the symptoms of Ghun’tlor makes this sacrifice easier to maintain as those with the disease cannot digest meat anyway. It is thought that this non-meat diet was purposely sanctioned by the shamans long ago as a means of avoiding the stigma of not being able to eat meat. Nevertheless, the shamans revere the "visions" they receive and that makes not being able to eat meat something worth enduring.

Whether these visions are hallucinations arising from the Ghun’tlor disease or if they are genuine is unknown. However, if a child exhibits the symptoms of Ghun’tlor, they are often seen as blessed by the superstitious Kaaer'dár'shín and depending on the shaman's interpretation of the child's visions, he or she is deemed as worthy of becoming a shaman one day.
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 Date of last edit 30th Singing Bird 1668 a.S.

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