The Taint of Corruption – part 3

The treatise on matters of corruption and the debilitating burden of the magic arts continues, with an account of Independent Mystics and the lingering malignancy that persists.

Independent Mystics

Those rare individuals who do not subscribe to one of the disciplines, but rather brave the treacherous waters of mysticism through their own natural talent, typically form a very personal and distinctive relationship with the powers arrayed about them. For the Independent Mystic, the discovery of what they may or may not even identify as Corruption followed quickly on the heels of their ability’s emergence. For some this was a harrowing discovery, teaching the hard, frightening and even painful lesson that their newfound gift came with a price.

To the Independent Mystic, the concept of Corruption varies from individual to individual, with each mystic forming their own specific perception, understanding, and relationship. When the mind attempts to process the unfathomable it often grasps at the familiar and this is often the case with the Independent Mystic’s presentation of Corruption. Manifest variation aside, some commonality persists. The dark, tainted nature of Corruption is universal and a vile appearance persists no matter the approach of those subjected.

Some have described a void of numbing cold only, icy winds therein growing wild, threatening and cold enough to freeze the marrow. Others report more animated and horrific visions wherein swarms of hideous crawling things scuttle about them, growing more numerous and ever closer; thousands of famished eyes blinking redly in the dark. Black threatening waters or swirling storm clouds have been recounted or mounds of dank, choking, worm-filled earth.

The visions are never pleasant whatever their concept and hold a singular temperament, a festering malignity towards those that intrude.

Stigmas vary among the Independent as greatly as their conceptions of corruption itself; again, however, certainly commonality appears in the presentation, linked to the essence of the perceived corruption. Those sensing a piercing cold may suffer numbness, ice crystals beneath the skin, or an uncontrollable shivering that finds not relief even in the presence of a roaring fire. The nightmare of crawling things may manifest as an infestation of vermin or the growth of insectoid appendages; the Mystic seems to invite unwelcome and unwholesome company, often leading to repercussions in securing lodgings or sourcing supplies. Endless drool of black fetid water, clouded vision, putrid odors, abysmal urges and many other horrific exhibitions have plagued the Independent Mystic as a reminder that they have pushed their abilities to close to the edge of oblivion.

Recovery for the Independent Mystic usually lacks the protracted measures of those following the conventional disciplines. Throughout their own practice, the Independent has learned, at their own peril, how best to free themselves from the clinging taint of Corruption. Meditation of some form is common, as is the performance of ritual and utilization of components. These are not the instructed mantras of a Wizard or prayers of a Priest, but tried and true methods perfected by the Independent through trial and error. The burning of incense, self-deprivation or mutilation, ingestion of various concoctions, recital of preferred verses or phrases, and yet other more obscure acts and utilities often follow the Independent’s art, especially when challenging and the test of their abilities prolonged.

Lingering Stains

The taint of Corruption is not bound solely to the practice of magic but in certain cases also can permeate the environment itself. The depths of Davokar are feared for this reason and many a would-be treasure seeker has learned to his woe that certain ancient ruins hold their own enduring stain. This may be the result of long abiding spell effects, ancient unfettered mystical practices permeating a site or something more innate wherein the very natural laws of the region are assaulted, the barriers between this realm and the others weakened.

At times, the result of this infusion of Corruption is obvious, the effects of the blight clear to anyone brave or foolish enough to bear witness; in others, the evidence surfaces with greater subtly, the taint more enigmatic or pervasive. In any case, those that brave these domains are as susceptible to their influence as any Mystic in the thralls of her trade. Wander there too long and they risk similar horrors.

Stigmas suffered from the exposure to such radiated Corruption are contrived from the nature of the projected taint; in general, they are as twisted and loathsome as any. Where imbued with Corruption natural purlieus respond by cursing the victim with vile manifestations of otherwise naturally occurring elements of flora, earth and sometimes stone. Where fauna thrives the marks of beasts can appear, together with savage tendencies and wild appetites.

Ancient ruins, infused with the powers of their masters, can offer a chaotic array of odious possibilities as the intent of the venerable magics that linger are seldom revealed or where they are, defeat simple or easy understanding. Some trends have been recognized and recorded; the tone of certain locations, cultures, ancient disciplines and mystical orders can extend to the way the essence of Corruption presents itself. The ruins of Symbaroum for example have become infamous for the abominable mutations of the flesh while ancient Elvin holdings tend to distort and disfigure in a more natural, though no less abhorrent, aspect.

Unfortunately, for the unwary and ignorant, exposure to this manner of Corruption may be countered only with time, if in small measures, or with the help of the Church or other mystical aid if in greater concentration. Those schooled in the mystical arts will find an advantage in that some part of what they have learned in the management of their own inherent encounters with Corruption will serve them when it is encountered abroad as well. The taint, one must remember, wears many faces but harbors but one black soul.


Thanks to Richard Grove for authoring this extended article on the effects of corruption in Symbaroum. Permission has been given to use the illustration, Wasting Disease, by Lucas Graciano.

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