Sunblood (or "Ahohooih" in
Browniin) is a condition only found among the
Brownie race, and is the result of spending
too much time in direct sunlight.
Humans have been seen to suffer something
similar, and their skin burns like a Brownie’s,
but their sweat does not cause itchy rashes and they seem to suffer more from
thirst than from heat. It is not caught or passed on through infection, but is
a problem brought on through the carelessness of the victim themselves. Darker
colourings, especially Ebonybarks, seem far more perceptible than others but
unfortunately Barkstudy has not yet been able to discover why.
Symptoms. The first sign that the Brownie is beginning to suffer is that the skin becomes sticky and damp. It may also lose its natural shine and become duller. The Brownie can often seem to age 20 years within a few hours, although this is much more noticeable in younger sufferers than older ones. In the worst and stickiest cases the skin will even blister with the force of the sun, forming little raised circles of damaged skin which are very hard to miss. The Brownie will become very uncomfortable, and fidget or scratch their exposed skin, unable to sit still.
If the problem is allowed to develop further the Brownie can become very tired and slow moving. They will want nothing more than to lie still and doze off, even neglecting to get out of the sunlight. The sufferer may become very thirsty, but may not have the energy to go and search for water if there is none within easy reach. One previous victim was kind enough to give us a description of his experience:
“Everything felt hot, heavy and swollen, my head about the size of an apple and my limbs as thick as tree roots. Every movement seemed to make it worse, and even thinking threatened to burst my head open once and for all. All I wanted to do was lie still and wait for it to go away. If I thought about it, I knew I was thirsty, but to be honest that feeling wasn’t really getting through the heat.”
So be warned – the
sun can be dangerous!
Effects. The effects vary with the severity of the condition. At the very least the Brownie suffers from extremely itchy, uncomfortable skin. This can last for several days and if the sufferer gives in to the temptation to scratch it too much then it can progress into open sores. If the skin actually burns, then this could leave round, sun-shaped scars on the skin which take years to fade.
The second stage of the disease leaves the Brownie exhausted and without the motivation to move. It can even overwhelm the victim so much that they can fall into a deep sleep from which they are very hard to awaken. This is more of a danger for the young and old, or those who are already slightly weakened. Within living memory several pregnant Brownies have lost their children from this condition too. Although most of the time Sunblood is not a serious problem, it is still not to be trifled with.
Cure/Prevention. Fortunately this problem is easy to prevent – simply do not spend too long in direct sunlight. Unfortunately small Brownies seem unable to heed the warnings of their mothers like they should. Almost every Brownie suffers from this at least once in their lifetimes, although probably not so severely that they are left with permanent damage to their skin.
There are two excellent ointments which will provide relief from both the itchiness and the burns. The one made from the jeshanna lily is more effective and smells nicer, but the plant is harder to find. It grows only in a few sunny spots along the more permanent steams that fall from the surrounding cliffs, and searching for it is only really worth it for the more serious cases. The Brownies normally use rendered animal fat as the base for this, and instead of removing the petals once they released their perfumed goodness, they just scoop around them when applying the mixture. Otherwise, the process differs little from jeshanna ointment made in Santharian human towns.
The second, more common ointment is the gel from the inside of a dagger- or bladeleaf. The daggerleafs can be found growing on the branches of a good number of trees within the Vale, although not the Council Tree itself. The long, spiked leaves are simply split, the goo inside is scooped out, and then applied directly to the troubled skin. It relieves the itching and stops the condition from getting any worse, although it doesn’t quite have the power to reverse the effects like the jeshanna ointment. However, it’s a lot easier to find, and quicker to use as it doesn’t require any preparation. Bladeleafs have exactly the same effect, but they are much larger and decanting the gel is a must more complicated process involving a special resin and a strong pipe. Gel in this quantity is usually traded anyway, as any Brownie living in the Vale can cut their own daggerleaf as they need it.
If neither of these is available, the best thing to do is take the Brownie down to a part of the river where the bank is muddy and damp, lay them onto it, and paste the thick, wet rivermud all over them. The water and earth influences will draw the excess of sun out of the body and skin, although this could take several hours. The victim should also be given as much drinking water as they want, whether they are using the ointment or the older rivermud method.
Vector/Cause. When in direct sunlight a Brownie’s skin gives out a thick, gooey substance to filter the sun’s life-giving warmth down to a level where it can be absorbed safely. The liquid is hardly noticeable most of the time, as it is almost transparent with only a slight milky colour. Usually very little is secreted; only enough to stop the skin from burning. However, when the skin is subjected to too much sun it begins to secrete more and more of this viscous liquid which then begins to dryand leaves behind a perceptible sticky layer. Once dried this layer irritates the skin and also stops providing the cooling layer which protected from the sun in the first place and the skin can burn. Damage is also caused by the build up of goo. As this covers the skin, it prevents air from getting to it and cooling it down, so the Brownie becomes hotter and hotter. It itches as bad as a feylin bite too.
The later symptoms are caused by the brilliance of the sun’s spirit penetrating the skin and seeping into the blood steam itself. The Brownie overheats and feels tired and out of balance. It makes them incredibly thirsty as their body yearns for water to balance out the fiery influence of the sun, and this combination of heat and thirst makes it hard for the Brownie to function.
Endemic. This ailment is not transmitted Brownie to Brownie, but rather is a condition caused by the very makeup of their bodies. So the sufferers are simply anyone of this species who spends too long in direct sunlight. Bird Riders are especially prone to it, if they fly for long distances above the treetops. Milken Brownies who work outside for any reason are also at risk if they work somewhere where there aren’t trees to cover them. Here the disease is often called “Baked Brownie Ailment”, which we have to presume is a joke back to the times when Brownies were cooked and eaten. Some consider it a mark of the Milken’s estrangement from their real roots that they can actually find this amusing.
The Llaoihrr festivals such as the Aoooaiei (the yearly Brownie Wings championship) is the worst time for this tribe. They are generally held in large open clearings, and are probably the only days when most Brownies spend so long out of the safe shade of their trees. The Bubbler Clan is kept busy before these making enough of the jeshanna ointment and collecting bladeleaf gel for weeks beforehand.
Memnoor Brownies seem to have built up some resistance to the condition. They are usually lighter in skin colouring, yellow or birch or paler shades of brown and red. This in itself makes them less susceptible, but they also seem to be less effected than Sarvonian Brownies of the same hue. Perhaps their skin has simply become more used to the sun after a lifetime of living in such an overwhelmingly fire-influenced place. On the other hand, maybe the sun so close to the Void looses its power as the reality fades and wavers. All that we know is that cases of Sunblood are surprisingly rare for a place which seems so prone to it, only really becoming a danger if a Brownie gets lost and is wandering the desert.
Myth/Lore. On a side note, there was a time when Brownie sweat (although it is debatable whether a substance which is neither salty nor used to cool the skin can be called sweat) was thought to be beneficial. It was used for years in creams sold to very rich ladies who wished to slow the onset of time, or at least the appearance of it, and retain their youthful complexion. Collected in painfully small amounts, it was usually then scented by soaking nice-smelling plants in it before being sold for astonishingly high prices. It is not known for certain if this actually works, but it does not seem unlikely that something which helps a Brownie's skin would do something to a human's.
Of course, in our modern times farming Brownies for their sweat is somewhat of a political problem. However, there are rumours that certain places in Milkengrad will still sell something along the same lines. They are attracting willing volunteers with high fees, as it seems unlikely lots of Brownies could go missing within that town without anyone noticing. Naturally you would need quite a lot to produce enough of the cream.