"The Burning" is the common name for a malady associated with long term exposure to Orichalcum dust, usually from mining the precious mineral. It affects humans and ogres both equally. The Burning involves many changes in the body that occur in three stages.
In the early stages of this affliction, the skin begins to take on a reddish hue and the eyes begin to turn yellow. Hair begins to fall out. This stage usually lasts about a year.
As the affliction progresses, the skin becomes a bright coppery red and the eyes become coated in a orange membrane. The victim is able to see magical emanations without any spell or aid. The coating on their eyes is sensitive to magical energy. All hair falls out. The second stage typically lasts about a year or two.
In the final stages, the skin begins to crust over with a metallic coppery substance. This thickening and hardening of the skin is actually enough to resist cutting by blades, but also decreases dexterity. The eyes begin to glow orange-red in the dark. Finally, the victim has absorbed so much Orichalcum into their body that they themselves can be used as a “magical battery” to store energy. In some cases, the victim may begin to develop some minor inherent spell ability. This is typically little more than a cantrip or two. This stage typically lasts about 6 months, but the body falls into a rapid state of decline. Respiratory and circulatory functions begin to break down. The victim will suffer fits of shaking, coughing, breathlessness, weakness, dizziness, convulsions and fainting. These final symptoms become very frequent in the last month until finally the victim becomes too weak to stand and spends his or her last days in a near catatonic state before slipping into a coma and dying.
Slaves in the Orichalcum mines of Duthelm become afflicted with this condition routinely. In fact, almost all of the slaves are affected and are showing at least some symptoms.
Orcs are affected differently than humans. Orcs enjoy the benefits of this affliction without the negative effects. They acquire the thick skin, altered eyes and minor spell ability of the final stages, but otherwise retain their health and vigor. Likewise, the affliction does not kill them.
Generally speaking, mages who regularly handle and use Orichalcum do not suffer the Burning affliction. It seems to only affect those who live and work in Orichalcum mines.
Dwarves are particularly sensitive to Orichalcum. They fall sick and eventually die if directly exposed to Orichalcum powder. Dwarves forced to live and work in an Orichalcum mine will die in less than a month.
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.