Dahlstrom's Syndrome

"The patient covered the walls with writing last night, apparently using a torn-off fingernail and his own blood. I doubt that any of the staff would be vulnerable, but, to be safe, I've shifted all of the literates off of that duty. The patient's fever is pronounced by now: the end is not far off."
-Journal, Krankenmeister Joras Talbert, Order of the Reed, concerning the treatment of the last known case of Dahlstrom's Syndrome.

The recent discovery of far-reaching portals by Professor Darenaran Rartek has not come without its downside. It is the common judgment of academic communities throughout the world that the deadly and incurable disease known as Dahlstrom's Syndrom is of otherworldly origin.

The first recorded case of the disease is, of course, the person for whom it was named, legendary explorer Quella Dahlstrom, whose adventures in the various other worlds were the talk of every strata of Falkensburg society between 1170 and 1175. Quella fell ill in early 1176, and was dead two months later.

The course of the disease is the same in every known case: the first symptoms are headaches, accompanied by a manic burst of activity, usually scientific or intellectual. The patient will say and write down much that is incomprehensible to most observers, starting at this point and increasing throughout the course of the disease. After three weeks, the patient will obsessively pursue goals which seem entirely nonsensical to anyone else, and will experience at least one radical personality change, in which a core trait is utterly reversed. After five weeks, the patient will no longer sleep, and will usually begin including almost random-seeming words from languages other than their primary tongue in their rants and writings. This is also when the patient will begin to run a fever. The fever will grown more and more intense until, at some point during the seventh week, the patients brain will literally cook inside the skull. This last phase could not be stopped or even forestalled by any amount of cooling of the head and body.

After Quella's death, several of her friends and associates began to show symptoms. Some uncharitable physicians postulated that Dahlstrom's Syndrome might be a social disease, like the Albansian Pox, but this theory was soon disproved. Some of the best and brightest physicians and scholars from throughout the city were assembled to study the disease, in hopes of a cure. This would, in hindsight, be regarded as a horrible mistake. Most of the Physicians contracted the disease.

The first breakthrough in understanding Dahlstrom's Syndrome came when a case appeared two hundred miles from the city, in the town of Keppleheim. The patient in that town had had no physical contact whatsoever with Quella or any other patient, having never left his native town in his life. He had, however, read a copy of the diaries Quella wrote during her illness. This lead the wise men of the Order of the Reed to the conclusion that Dahlstrom's Syndrome was spread not by a virus or microbe like most other forms of illness but through the very words of the victims. The common denominator among all of the victims was a very high intelligence. Apparently only the brightest, most intelligent of people were capable of understanding the patterns and messages inside the apparently nonsensical writings and ravings of the afflicted, and once that understanding was achieved, the disease had claimed a new host/victim.

Although no cure was ever found, the spread of the disease was quickly halted by a policy of isolation. The afflicted were kept in private rooms, in the Krankenhaus or in Falkensburg Asylum, tended by orderlies of unexceptional intelligence or even brute stupidity, and all of their writings either destroyed completely or heavily redacted by dull-witted scribes instructed to remove any text they could not understand. The last known sufferer of Dahlstrom's Syndrome died in late 1177.

-Doktor Plasner

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