“There are many stories and folkloric tales where the power of Dust magic was used with the best of intentions. It makes sense, great power should be used for good. However, even the most pure of intentions cannot halt the corruption that stems from the Dust. The tale of Thistle-Knoll is one such story. Thistle-Knoll was a Human built town that rested in the hills on the edge of the Taklik region, also known as the Swamp of Contagions. It was founded about two years after the War of Perspectives as a collaborative effort between the Bulrin Empire and the Kingdom of Riefe. The purpose of the towns position was twofold. Firstly, to act as lookout point into the Taklik region. This region was largely unknown at the time and both nations feared what may lie within. Secondly, it was created as a diplomatic gesture between the two nations. Both nations would have a presence in the neutral lands thanks to this towns position.
As it was a collaboration between these two Human countries, the population was predominantly Human, with a minority of Demiens. Settlers from both countries rolled in day by day until the population was really quite large, particularly for such an out of the way area. At first there was disagreement between Riefe and Bulrin over who should be left in charge of the settlement. It was eventually decided, however, that Arrick Nils was to be left in charge. Arrick Nils was a well known Bulrin scholar. He proudly took the mantle of mayor of Thistle-Knoll. Riefe insisted that Jean Bruel, an adviser from Riefes court, was to be added to Arricks entourage to add a little Riefan weight to the decision making process. These two men proved to be a superior partnership, they loved and respected the people under their charge. Both noble men, they dedicated themselves wholly to ensuring the stability of the fledgeling settlement and the safety of its citizens.
The town was at its peak roughly fear years after it was initially founded. It was something of a model town, especially considering it’s unconventional position. Happy citizens, well supplied, well protected by its militia and it’s landscape. It was proudly paraded both in Riefe and Bulrin as a example to follow. It was seen as a symbol of Riefan and Bulrin cooperation. How ironic that it would soon turn so very rotten.
How did it all go so wrong? Halfway through the sixth year of the towns life, reports began coming in of hunters and wild animals being found dead, Stone cold with entire strips of skin and flesh hanging off or missing entirely. For some reason, this dismemberment (if it can called as such) usually occurred on the victims lower jaw and forearms. It was far from restricted to those areas though. A frightening development, by all reports! Understandably there was a panic as the “plague”, as they called it, appeared to be leaving a swathe of death and destruction literally directly towards the town. As you’d expected, citizens began to fall ill all over the town. They complained of immense pain, visions of snakes and the sound of incessant and uncontrolled laughter. Men of science and medicine began to look for a cure, including Jean Bruel, who was an experienced alchemist. These learned men gave the plague a name, a name that is remembered as a horror of science. They called it the “Morbid Laughter”.
The story becomes a little bit odd now. It’s not entirely clear who wrote the reports I now have but it makes for pretty fascinating reading. A year passed, bringing the towns life to seven and a half years. Only a small number of citizens remained, most have perished from the plague, even the mayor passed away like the others. Only Jean Bruel and a handful of patients remain, and yet, as if driven by some kind of insane logic, he continued to try and find a cure. Jean Bruel had a secret. It was known to nobody save himself, but Jean was in fact a Dust mage. He had been as such for his whole life but despite this, he was a good man. He studied for days, trying to find a cure, a way to bring the town back. As he studied, the few remaining patients went cold, also succumbing to the Morbid Laughter. Jean too, began to feel the intense agony wracking his body and heard the ever increasing bestial laughter. The same evil laughter the others had heard. I think it’s fair to say Jean was on the verge of insanity by this point, driven by the disease and his Dust magic.
His mind was bent on bringing the town back, no matter what. Jean called to it, begging it. As it often does, the Dust obeyed. With his final breath, Jean cast an immeasurably powerful spell before exhaling his last breath. The effects were not immediately felt. The town lay silent for several hours. Corpses lay everywhere, on the streets, in the hospital, in the homes, nothing stirred.
But over time, the corpses began to stir and rise again, with green-yellow corpse-lights in their eyes. Looking disgustedly and in terror at their new forms, the former citizens of Thistle-Knoll were reborn. Their new bodies, despite how they abhorred them, afforded them several unseen (at the time) benefits. Jean Bruel had brought back the town, but in turn had afford them a horrible form. They lived, but they were abominations and they knew it. And thus, the Plague Envoys were born. They took this name as they believed that the plague had power over them still, in a visual sense at least, they were emissaries for it.
The Plague Envoys are a race of undead creatures were were once Human, brought back to life with Dust magic. Obviously, many of them despised their new forms (some even attempting suicide), while the majority decided to carry on with their “unlives”. The town of Thistle-Knoll is now a dark, dark place with an unshakable pall of death hanging over it and the stench of the plague looming like a cloud above it. Meetings between the Plague Envoys and their former countrymen from Bulrin and Riefe were often met with horror, their former friends forsaking them as undead monsters that should be purged.
The Plague Envoys look much like an ordinary Human being, with a handful of significant differences. They almost always will have decayed flesh and a pale look to their face. They are quite often missing flesh on their forearms and lower jaws, exposing bone (which quite often is morphed slightly into claws and fangs respectively) but the reason for this specific deformity is unknown. Plague Envoys also always have yellow-green glowing eyes, giving them a fearful appearance in the dark. Presumably this light is from the Dust magic that was used to animate them. Plague Envoys are one of the only undead beings in Daetrolos that have retained free will, putting them firmly in the “High Undead” category. Another feature of a Plague Envoy is the green musk that seems to follow them, bringing with it a terrible odor. This musk almost certainly comes from a combination of their decayed flesh and the plague. Which highlights another point, Plague Envoys no longer decay and appear to be able to pass on diseases to others with frightening efficiency. This often gets them labelled as “Plaguebearers” and “Diseased Rats”.
But Plague envoys are Human in every other sense apart from physical appearance. They feel love, hate, happiness and sorrow like any other Human. However, all of these feelings tend to carry a melancholy taint with them. Time and age mean little to them now, as they outlive their relatives ad friends in their home countries with ease.
Many Plague Envoys search for the cause of the Morbid Laughter or a cure for it, leading many into the path of the alchemist. Many follow the path of their savior (or corrupter, as some call him) and learn to wield Dust magic, their corrupted bodies giving them a measure of protection from its effects. They also make ferocious opponents in combat, being nigh-on impossible to slay and possessing natural weapons in the form of their claws and tough decayed bodies. They have an uncanny ability to continue to fight even as they are dismembered and decapitated, much like other undead creatures.
Unlife is a unique condition, leading to many benefits and detriments. Some embrace “the change” while others see Jean Bruel as another Dust mage bent with insanity who cursed them to this dismal existence. The Plague Envoys are melancholy parodies of mankind who harbor a hatred for those who forsook them and a dogged determination to research their condition and its cause, as well as the origin of the plague and slaughter those responsible…”
From the memoirs of Hermann Maestra.