THE AFFLICTION OF ACRE
Circa. 14th of Malin’s Welcome, 1923.
Citizens of the heartlands, nobles and commoners alike. I write to you bearing a warning of rising darkness in the East, within the borders of the former Barony of Acre. It is a disease that has been allowed to fester amidst the political intrigues and war, seeded by a common enemy that seeks to render all of us low, no matter what nation or creed we align ourselves with.
A few months ago, a group of like-minded companions from Barrowton and I received whispers of strange developments in Acre, to which we responded by venturing there ourselves. We found the land repopulated with refugees from Adria, intent on escaping the violence of the most recent civil war. Yet, the village had been devastated by a recent murder, and our company soon discovered evidence of a conspiracy.
One amongst the villagers was a contact of the Mori’quessir and had taken to fostering a monstrous arachnid with a sinister goal in mind. The monster in question seemed to be the mother of a much greater brood, producing spiderlings that seemed capable of infesting the village near enough in its entirety, right under the noses of its dwellers. But still, it was worse than that, for these spiderlings could also infest the bodies of the recently deceased and wear their skins like camouflage.
We believe the afflicted initially found their bodies infiltrated by the parasites whilst asleep or otherwise distracted. They then proceeded to kill their host by consuming and hollowing out the insides, including the muscles, bones and vital organs. However, this did not appear to significantly alter the afflicted’s mannerisms, for they seemed to continue with their everyday activities, implying that the swarm within could emulate, to some degree, the behaviours of the one whose identity they have assumed. Examples ranged from an elderly wood miller to a six-year-old child. Additionally, the lack of internals did not appear to hamper the afflicted, with the swarm within seemingly capable of replicating the functions of both bone and muscle. Any signs of necrosis were also absent, indicating that the swarm can preserve their shell for a lengthy period of time.
Yet, the facade was not flawless. Friends and family of the afflicted noted a tendency towards anti-social behaviour and reclusiveness. Furthermore, once they became aware of us getting closer to the truth, the afflicted became feral and resorted to violent attacks upon all the unaffected in their immediate surroundings, whether they were strangers or family. The writings we uncovered of the Mori’quessir associate also suggested that the afflicted were compelled to spread the parasites to new hosts, thus multiplying their numbers. However, given how quickly the condition spread throughout the village, we can assume it is a rapid process and have reason to believe the intention is to soon spread beyond the borders of Acre to the rest of the heartlands.
The afflicted are difficult at first glance to distinguish from their otherwise healthy counterparts, which brings me to my recommendations and probable methods for countering them. Due to being comprised of skin and little else, they are highly susceptible to damage, with breaches to the skin barrier appearing to compromise their functionality. With this in mind, a medical examination of one suspected to carry the parasites, similar to that carried out upon suspected darkspawn and vampires, may prove a successful method of revealing them.
However, such an act may ultimately trigger a hostile reaction. The best method we have found to combat these monsters is fire. Setting them alight will destroy the skin barrier and thus the cohesiveness of the parasites. Grievous injuries inflicted by cutting weapons may also prove effective in compromising their ability to manoeuvre.
To prevent the spread of the afflicted from beyond Acre, and in order to prevent the development of further Mori’quessir incursions in the East, I call upon all nations to establish an effective quarantine of the land and monitor the activity within its borders. This is not a time in which we, the denizens of Almaris, can afford to stand divided. We must put aside our petty differences to combat the greater evil that threatens us all, as we have many times before, or risk annihilation and all we have built falling to ruin.
Albéric du Lac