THE GIBBERING MADNESS ("MIST MADNESS")

SOURCE - EFFECTS - TREATMENT - PREVALENCE - MYTH/LORE

The Mists surrounding the Tower of Osthemangar are said to harbour truly horrible abominations and perversions of nature; creatures that no living being should ever behold, lest they be driven mad by the revelation. That is of course the crux of the Gibbering Madness, an affliction that rends the very mind of the sufferer, reducing them to little more than a crumpled husk.

Source. Mist Madness is not known to have any distinct source, cause or means of transmission, though the supposed root of the affliction varies depending on the specific group. Kurakim scholars believe that the affliction results from too much exposure to surface air and light. The Osther-Oc believe that Mist Madness is a curse from the spirits, a belief mirrored by the Kaaer'dar'shín. Erpheronians strongly believe that the entire region of Osthemangar is evil and most refuse to enter it on principle or have anything to do with it. Still others believe that spending too much time isolated or confined is the true source of this madness, leading to its other name, Gaol Madness.

Scholars of various stripes debate whether or not the supposed influence of the Netherworld within the Mists of Osthemangar is the root cause of the affliction, and whether or not this affliction does anything to spread that influence. To date, there has been no definitive proof to any of these claims but neither have they been defintively disproven. Return to the top

Effects. Sufferers of Mist Madness are reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Often they will refuse to leave a given spot, becoming highly reclusive and even hermit-like. They may be possessed of abstruse fears and compulsions, such as keeping lights lit at all hours or refusing to eat food they have not prepared. These compulsions take a very real hold over their fragmented thoughts, often leading them to ignore things as elementary as sleep or food. The "secondary" forms of Gibbering Madness are said to be less severe than the "true" affliction garnered in the Mists, but no less debilitating for their supposed "dilution". Sufferers who have somehow contracted the Madness elsewhere are known to become prone to violent outbursts, and throes of cathartic rage, suffer fits of paranoia and vivid hallucinations. Return to the top

Treatment. Treatment of the afflicted by Mindsmoothers has done little. Whatever the injury to the mind of those struck with Mist Madness, it is too great for even these mystics to even begin to repair. Most often, the afflicted are left to their own devices, and will often die without anyone noticing. Some, including the Osther-Oc of Northern Sarvonia, will outright kill those who become mad in the Mists fearing they will spread the affliction. The Kaaer'dar'shín people of Northern Sarvonia attempt (quite successfully apparently) to ward off the affliction altogether by wearing protective charms which they call to'avatars, one of the central symbols of their faith. Others have tried imitating the Kaaer, carrying wooden and bone trinkets with them hoping to ward off the evil in the Mists, but thus far this appears to have had no effect. Return to the top

Prevalence. Mist Madness is commonly associated with Caael'heroth and the Mists of Osthemangar, which surround the Deep Winds Portal, but cases have been found in isolated areas of Northern Sarvonia, among the Osther-Oc, the Kurakim and even some sporadic cases of Remusians and Erpheronians contracting it. Mist Madness has been observed in Santharia and elsewhere, but it is surely less common there than it is in the North.
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Myth/Lore. The following fragmentary report was found in the possession of a rather elderly Kurakim dwarf, who’s father acquired it from the original author circa 1230 a.S. While the document was translated to Tharian, sections of it were left untranslated at the request of the owner, in particular the names of the dwarves involved and the location of their unfortunate quarry.

“It was truly horrific. The five of us had gone to see what had become of young […]. We found his body frozen out in the […]
His hand, frozen with an ever accusing finger, led us to a box canyon. We turned back, having found nothing. We paid no heed to the wind, thinking it was nothing more than the strangeness of the place, and the late hour at which we were choosing to return. Little did we know how wrong we were.

A storm came down on us from out of a seemingly clear sky. We managed to huddle in a cave, though the storm wailed about for three days. None of us slept. We had little enough food and water, and no fire. In what must have been the middle of the third day [...] began to mutter to himself. We could not hear his whispers, whatever grim portents they were of things to come.

That evening he began yelling in a loud voice “The Shadow Dog! It feasts on fear! It slakes its thirst on panic! It devours the sun! Its eyes are as the endless void, Its mouth a gaping cavern!” With a cry he fell on [...] with his axe, taking him by surprise. He slew him and turned his fell gaze then upon [...] who managed to take three steps away from him before falling to the macabre fiend that had possessed our companion. "It demands! Flesh!" He cried as another swing saw a third laid low, my own father.

Taking hold of his axe, I managed to wrest it from his grasp and hewed through his arm. As I made to kill him, he screamed a ghastly scream, a noise I fear I may never forget though I live to see the beginning and end of a new age."

Much of the study of this affliction comes from a solitary Thergerim scholar who lived with the so called “Mad Kurakim” Amrildul IshHlazil who believed he had encountered what he called a Gibbering Obscurity (a tharianization from the original Thergerim Taal "KodeniArilpra", lit. "Blasphemous Twilight"), as it is referred to by the "witness"[1].

This scholar, who remains unknown to this day, lived in confinement with Amrildul for six months before he began to suffer similar effects to those he observed in his subject.

IshHlazil, until entering the Mists sometime in late 1570 a.S, was a stone carver of middling talent. Purported to have gone in search of better stone from which to carve his wares, he came back muttering to himself a week later.

At first, his madness only manifested in his carvings, which became increasingly more bizzare, depicting things which should likely only be found in the darkest corners of the Netherworld towards the end of this phase. His shop began to pile up with these disturbing objects, which soon caused him to be called before an authority.

Before being dragged bodily into a cell, IshHlazil was reported to have set himself aflame with a spirit lamp, and proceeded to set his shop and several bystanders on fire before being forcibly doused. Conflicting reports suggest that the mad dwarf may have been trying to purge himself of a perceived impurity. As with many of his actions, nothing can be proven of IshHlazil's temporary conflagration, except that it occured.

The infamous Amrildul died in 1578 a.S. at the age of 65. Exact dating is difficult to determine, since his body was only discovered by the tremendous smell of decay emanating from the cell where he was kept. Judging by its state, Amrildul may have been dead a month before anyone noticed. Thankfully for this chronicler, there was a Kurakim healer that took an interest in IshHlazi’s mad ravings and recorded some of the more lucid portions of his speech. Several copies of these notes were burned as heresy by Kurakim religious authorities, including one set that was the subject of a mob tearing it to pieces before turning on its scribe.
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Footnotes.

[1] The chronicler would inform the reader of the lack of solid reports regarding the veracity of the information provided on the individual in question. Much of IshHlazil's raving was incoherent and those parts that could be distinguished were scarcely things to make sense of including the assertion that the patient was "a small evil pie made of mushrooms and dirt". This has continued to puzzle some philosophers, who question whether or not it is the pie or it's filling that was meant to be considered evil, and how exactly a pastry might be considered evil. [Back]

 Date of last edit 31st Passing Clouds 1670 a.S.

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