From Shore to Sea
The Touch of the Sea
“The educated men of Cheliax call it Icthyasis, a rare deformity that manifests in at birth in a number of strange varieties. It typically presents in individuals as Scale-like patterns of excess skin with a fine oily coating caused by seepage of bodily fluids from cracks in the skin around the persons eyes and joints. The condition can also present with webbing between the digits of the hands and/or feet and the formation of vestigial ‘fin-like’ ridges of skin around their necks, armpits and groins. These deformities are typically a grey or white colouration. Individuals with the condition are prone to infections and typically possess a near constant phlegmatic cough and irritation around the eyes and neck. The cause of this deformity is sadly unknown to the medical knowledge of our time.
In my quest to understand this condition, which I lament that I myself am a victim off. I have been drawn to a part of the world where it is unusually common. Unlike other parts of the world, where such disfigurations would be considered repugnant, the fishermen of the Hellmouth Gulf consider these deformities a blessing that they call the ‘touch of the sea’. To local superstition, these individuals are supposed to be favored by the ocean deities and have a number of more outlandish myths associated with them. A cultural adaptation perhaps, to help ease the burden of raising so many individuals born with the condition. In fact people afflicted with Icthyoid characteristics are welcomed in these parts, and in fact thrive as members of these tight knit communities. The welcome I myself have received has been uplifting. A welcome change from the common disdain of the Chelish interior.
The prevalence of the condition in the region causes many ‘Inlanders’ to make crude jokes regarding the ancestry of folk from this part of the world. Claims of ‘strange procreation habits’ are of course anatomically impossible, but with biggotry like this it is no wonder that the people of the Hellmouth enjoy their isolation. As an individual with this affliction myself, I find the very implication to be abhorent. Icthyasis is a disease like any other, albeit one that ravages us before we leave our mothers womb. Like all diseases there is a cure and one day… I will find it. Not just for myself, but for all those like me who suffer needlessly in their already more than cruel world.
But I digress. I must confess that recently a story has reached my ears that has reignited my passion for my research. In my travels I have heard tell on my travels of a village called Blackcove, which is supposed to hold the largest population of Icthyasis sufferers in the region. If its people will allow my investigations, I may have found the sample size I need to study the presentation of the disease and confirm my theories about its inheritance. I have a good feeling about this village. I know that a scientist should not trust to instinct, but I must confess that I have a good feeling about this village. Perhaps there I can finally uncover the secrets of this cursed disease."
Extract taken from the journal of Gerlach Seidonis. Dated 29/07/4708