Excerpted From “Regarding the Decay and Human Agency”

by Everard Locke, Father of the Armed Forces of the Theocracy of Haazak (year 419 – present)

Considerable speculation exists as to the geographical location of that original ill-advised experiment that brought the Decay into existence. The oldest known folk tales suggest that the area around the modern city Oasis in our southwestern territory may hold the secrets to this mystery. Certainly, the terrain in the southwest supports such a hypothesis. The desert there is older than any other, and hosts less life than any other. Three generations of strenuous effort as of the time of this writing have managed to coax a bare living out of the dry lands, but every particle of life that one might now find there has had to be introduced from elsewhere.

One of the folk tales still told among the civilians native to the Oasis region connects the existence of the springs that give the city its name with the early years of war against the Decay. It tells of a beleaguered company of refugees, guarded by the last survivors of a warrior clan called the Bahadri. They fled the Decay forty days and nights, resting only to fight, eating as they walked. They reached a lone pool in the forest, a sunken spring that gave them much-needed water to drink. 

They intended only to stop for a brief respite before resuming their flight. They found, to their great dismay, that in those few minutes the Decay had encircled the springs. With no path left, they prepared to take their last stand there at the edge of the sunken pool.

One of their number found a narrow tunnel in the rock wall overlooking the pool, where the exhausted civilians could find some shelter. When the last of the Bahadri warriors prepared to take up the fight, however, the youngest among them spoke. He was called Ayden. His thermal energy sympathy had manifested late and had grown in strength along the way. Some accounts say he shook with the effort of holding his sympathy back. Today, most likely, he would be diagnosed with sympathy disorder. In ancient times, he was considered to have received a visitation in power from the Only One. He warned his brother warriors to take refuge with the civilians. He alone would stand against their enemy.

And, according to the old stories, stand he did, for four days and four nights, until the inferno of his raging sympathy dried up the pool and charred the earth. It was another three days before any dared to venture out of the tunnel’s depths. Even then, the earth still smoldered. The forest was turned to ash. The pool was seared dry. But the Decay had burned away with the surrounding landscape, leaving every inch of ground it had touched utterly barren. 

Of Ayden they found only a few bones, charred and broken. He had cremated himself with the strength of his own sympathy in order to save the remnant of his people. They buried his bones where he fell. When they dug the dry pool to provide Ayden a grave, the spring began to flow again. Henceforth, an oasis of plant life flourished around that spring, but nothing could grow in the surrounding land that had been touched by the Decay.

Regardless of the historicity of the folk tales or the physical location where the Decay originated, we would do well to remember how invariably destructive this entity is. Once let loose in a place for even a moment, it will cause damage that takes lifetimes to repair.

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