The Mallacht Luaith
The mallacht luaith is a lingering disease, that first was seen in Obrexia in 751 FC. It was first transmitted by contact with those that were infected. It is harmless in its first stage, making it spread from Hawk’s Landing to River Watch before it was known. Not all that come into contact with it become infected, but six in ten do. As far as has been seen, it progresses in three stages. The first being the relatively harmless first stage, which is seen to increase those infected’s vulnerability to other diseases. This is part of the large reason that at least half of those that change to the second state are dead very soon after. The second stage causes many lesions to open on the body, increasing susceptibility even further. This is seen to be the cause of death for the other half of those that die. If someone manages to survive both the first and second stage, then they are less likely to die from the disease. The third stage causes the whole body to turn ashen. Having slowly progressed from the first stage, with a slight paling, the second stage seems to drain the body of all colour. Even from those of a darker shade. Advancing to the third stage causes the body to be changed to a dull grey, thus the name mallacht luaith, the ash curse.
With it affecting the majority of the population, the whole country was rocked for decades. The economy slowed, production slowed, ships were turned away from Obrexian ports for multiple years. It was only after around ten years that things finally started to recover. Those that survived the mallacht luaith were pretty much ostracized from many communities, mostly Obrex communities. Daoine communities are much more tightly knit, and they care for their elders and infirm much more than those of the Obrex. The Ashen as they came to be know fled to make their own refuge, on a small unnamed isle that has come to be known as The Isle of the Damned. There are flare-ups every few years of the mallacht luaith, but they are becoming more and more rare as time passes. Fewer and fewer people become infected with each flare up, and many of those that do survive voluntarily make the journey to The Isle of the Damned, where they will be accepted.
When the disease first appeared, the healers and druids of Obrexia had little they could do about it. It was seen that no druids became infected and that the Daoine, in general, were much less susceptible, but there were still thousands of deaths across their lands. It is thought that due to the fact that most Daoine communities are cleaner and much closer to nature instead of dense and compact like Obrex communities. The High Library also states that no Historians were ever infected. The mallacht luaith may have spread outside of Obrexia, but the figures don’t seem to be as significant.
In the then budding capital of the newly built Hawk’s Landing, the population was almost completely wiped out. It took nearly fifty years before it regained enough population to be above what it lost. Most seemed to not be able to survive past the second stage of the disease, and even those that became the Ashen were still not accepted as in many communities they were seen as vectors of the disease, spreading to those that had not been in contact with the mallacht luaith before. Even with that, one in ten that had become infected or less became Ashen. The population at the Isle of the Damned has been declining in recent years, but it has still yet to drop below one thousand. There may be other gathering places for the Ashen, but none as know. The average life expectancy for the Ashen does not seem to be lower, but there is a much higher correlation in other means of death, such as taking their own lives.
There is no known cure for the mallacht luaith. It pervades those that it infects and leaves those that are still alive in a terrible state. But it can be survived. No one knows the factors in survival besides the general census, but the High Library contains this data.
-Excerpt from ‘The History of Obrexia Volume Four’ by Historian Eloenn Livesey.