"From the gloomy streets of Darkshire, to the graves of Raven Hill,
Wicked disease comes, to plague the town and make ill;
For when evil is stirred, under the catacomb's cobwebbed halls,
The apothecary's elixir may not save you, for inside you crawls
The infestation of ancient times,
The Dusk Fever."
Many a housewife tale has spoken of the Dusk Fever with fear and, according to said fallacies, has told of its origination in Northrend. Though modern historians, who have checked accounts in both Kul Tiras, Stormwind and even Stonard, have decided that the records suggest its first notable appearance was in Boralus. However, the strain that is notable today seems to have first permeated Elwynn during the time of the First War, and then manifested itself seriously before the Third War. Only sporadic and unusual cases have been reported since, though some apothecaries still warn of the threat of its return.
From rare accounts taken from sailors and peasant families (rare, because not many peasants or sailors are literate) in the periods mentioned, some apothecaries and critical historians have concluded that the disease was transferred purposely via fish imported from Boralus in Stormwind. The notable cause for this biological attack can be pinned upon tariffs placed by Stormwind upon Kul Tiran goods. In revenge, a major exporter of fish, one Earl Barworthy, hired only sailors who had been confirmed to have the relatively harmless disease 'Scale Fever'(*).
(*)Scale Fever was a common disease in Kul Tiras for many of the sailors who had sailed in murloc (who were not known of at the time) breeding pools, though was eventually eradicated upon the discovery of murlocs.
Despite this petty attempt at revenge, the Kingdom of Azeroth was not to be affected until merchant travelers visited Southern Elwynn. A peasant farmer remembers the introduction of the disease in a diary procured from Darkshire's archives:
"It were befor the orcs gon an Come, an I remembers it Vivily I does. Me sister had the fevers, rash an all, an she were in bEd for a while. But afta while she were alright. She jus got Sneezins four a while. But afta orcs gon an come, she got Bad she did. She were in bed for weeks an weeks, she cudn even feed chickens, she were that bad." - Harry Builder's Diary, Our King's Year 575.
It is clear to historians that, from this account and others, the disease wasn't lethal before the First War. This had led some to conclude that the disease may have mixed in with spores and humors carried by the orcs from Outland to Azeroth; culminating in the disease becoming more deadly to those who had it. Therefore, to give a better picture of what might have combined with the Scale Fever to create something all-round more deadly, orcish accounts have been collected; in particular, accounts from orcish captains during the invasion of Azeroth:
"Many troops got Dusk Poison. Cannot handle this power so easy. Brought from blood mixing. Send more warriors. I send sick back to be killed. We cannot have this spread." - Orcish Stone Guard, presumably during the initial attacks on Grand Hamlet. Translated by Wirt Gearturns for the Royal Society of Ironforge Historians, and procured from Stonard archives.
From this evidence, Dusk Poison appears to be a reaction by some orcish bodies to the intake of the Blood of Mannoroth. This leads some to the assumption that the hybrid mixture must have been created in blood mixtures; the accurate assumption being that some orcs who had Dusk Poisoning went into combat with human soldiers who had contracted Scale Fever.
However, the newly created Dusk Fever had seemed to have been contained, unintentionally, by the Orcish Horde. Though it managed to survive, presumably by clinging to wildlife and fauna, the orcish invaders seem to have killed off many of the orcs and humans who had developed the disease. It was only until the areas which the orcs had destroyed were repopulated (such as Raven Hill and Grand Hamlet) that the disease managed to create itself not only a deadly reputation, but an epidemic body count to its name.
After the Second War, many humans returned to the Kingdom of Azeroth to repair their homes and begin again. Sadly, for the residents of the Duskwood, a disease was to grip them, and grip them at an alarming rate. Many written accounts were made, and the tales and stories of Dusk Fever still remain today. Its title, Dusk Fever, was to go with the new land that many of the citizens of Grand Hamlet were to live in now.
Not many people even know where it "disappeared" to, though the tales like to suggest that the evil of the "catacombs" was banished. Though, indeed, the truth is related to the catacombs, the apparent "disappearance" of the disease is, in fact, darker than any creature or ghoul that a villein could imagine:
Many apothecaries at the time believed that the Dusk Fever was an infestation of insects within the patient's blood stream, and therefore used leeches to try and suck said insects out from the veins. Though this practice was eventually found to be false, as the disease merely spread through the leeches, it did help some apothecaries to notice that the disease was spread through the blood.
With these revelations, the apothecaries devised a plan: To quarantine the disease, they would take those patients infected, and lock them in the catacombs under Raven Hill. This proved to be successful, and, due to the death of the wildlife (because of the encroaching "dusk" that would eventually engulf Southern Elwynn in gloom) the disease had appeared to be successfully banished from society.
The apothecaries were never found out; in fact, they were assisted by the myth and superstition bred by the peasantry that solved the vanishing of the disease and the patients in an all but too simple manner. As for the victims of the apothecary's subterfuge, they have most likely decayed within the catacombs: To this day, the chamber that holds the Dusk Fever captive has not been opened, and the disease lies unstirred.
Though the nature of the disease means that it is ever-changing within the blood, and therefore incredibly hard to pinpoint or cleanse by magical means, there are some direct symptoms that are generally associated with the disease:
- Periods of quickened pulse: As the malaise needs blood to travel around the body and survive, it often finds itself in deficit (see Symptom 2). Therefore, the host may that his or her heart may be beating at unusual speeds at irregular times of the day, so that the disease may be supplied.
- Regular fainting: The disease feeds on blood, and therefore it can, especially when it is in its later stages, absorb a large enough amount of blood to make its host deficient of blood. This can result in fainting at sporadic times in the day, though more often after exercise or when the host is using blood him or herself.
- "Blood Rot": A peculiar feature of the disease, though the most obvious of the symptoms. This is thought to be part of the disease that has intertwined itself with demonic magic. The nature of the disease means that it takes in blood, and excretes a substitute to keep the host alive long enough for it to transfer to another host. This excretion has the appearance of a black liquid which stains almost all surfaces. Often, this "Blood Rot" can be visibly seen around the mouth area (see Symptom 4).
- Bursting gums: The host may find that his or her gums may begin to blister and split during the early stages of the disease. This is treatable, though is preferred by many apothecaries to be kept, because it allows "Blood Rot" to be visibly seen at early stages, and therefore the apothecary may judge the stage of the disease.
- Bloodshot eyes/blindness: Some hosts have been known to experience infrequent attacks of sore, blood-shot eyes. Many apothecaries have chosen to bind these eyes in bandage, because if the eyes come into contact with sunlight during a bloodshot phase, the host may be stricken blind.
The eventuality of this disease is death; unavoidable, though it may be slowed by several medicines and magical retardants. A cure has not yet been found, though several treatments have been developed to deal with the pain and sores of the disease.
The disease is often characterised as a spider, in particular, a spider that lays its hatchlings within humans. The Spider of the Dusk is closely associated to Maexxna, the Spider Queen of Naxxramas, and some peasant stories tell of the Fever originating from Maexxna, and that Maexxna's daughter lives under the catacombs of Raven Hill. Such confusion has fed the rumour that the disease originated in Northrend and that the disease is an insect infestation, though now the intelligent repudiate this as nonsense and superstition given the factual evidence.
The myth maintains that the Spider Queen of Northrend spread the Dusk Fever amongst the humans to such an extent that some humans were born half-spider (perhaps a peasant explanation for the nerubians). These half-human, half-spiders were sent across the seas to spread the infestation, though were thwarted in Boralus by a hero ironically named Barworthy. Yet one spider escaped, so the story goes, when its half-spider host was hanged at dusk. And so, the myth of the Spider of the Dusk was born.
From there, the Spider of the Dusk grew inside the sailors that docked in Stormwind, and eventually managed to escape into the wilds of Southern Elwynn. There, the mythological creature hid within graves and crypts, growing and growing. Years passed, the orcish invasion ended, and the humans returned to Duskwood. The Spider of the Dusk's conquest would then begin.
It was then that this myth was hijacked by a so-called "hero" named Lutley. A mage of little-to-no power, Lutley took credit for the falsehood that was the death of the spider. Though he was believed at first, Lutley was uncovered to be a fraud after Darkshire was attacked by undead, and Lutley failed to cast the simplest of fireballs. He was then blamed for the disappearances of the locked up hosts of Dusk Fever, and charged with murder.
Though, once again, Lutley managed to escape and is now on the run from Alliance authorities.
After some investigating and the reclamation of Darkshire, several adventurers, along with the Brotherhood of Alonsus, were able to ascertain the inoculation and cure of the deadly disease. By discovering several truths of the past, including works by the Royal Society of Ironforge Historians, the adventurers managed to unveil the origins of the disease. This led to the idea of infecting someone with Scale Fever. It appeared that by infecting oneself with the parent disease, one was able to effectively cure and prevent Dusk Fever taking hold. Thus, most of the population of Elwynn were inoculated and/or cured.