Excerpted From “Regarding the Decay and Human Agency”
by Everard Locke,
Father of the Armed Forces of the Theocracy of Haazak (year 419 – present)
My first encounter with human-seeded Decay came during my second year of military service. At that time, I was assigned to a patrol in South Territory in the thick heat of summer. Our patrol was spread across a quarter-mile strip of rainforest in pairs. My patrol partner Archet and I were the first to sight the infected woman, stumbling and striding on a path perpendicular to our position. I remember clearly the rose-and-white sundress she wore. When she turned her head, she revealed the truth of her condition: from her eyes, her ears, and her mouth ran a dull amber-colored gel. The same ran down her legs. Her limbs were emaciated and her torso was bloated. This terrible wreckage of a human being staggered toward us, hand outstretched with the palm upwards. If the gesture had been meant as a plea, it was a plea we could not grant, her condition being already so far advanced that, after another few steps, she fell dead on the ground.
The Decay, once it infects a human being, progresses rapidly in its takeover. Observation has proven that there can be no remedy once the characteristic ooze appears. The corpse becomes the seed for a new full manifestation of the Decay, which devours all. In its mature form, the Decay takes the shape of a semi-opaque mound, its color dependent on its seed materials. Human-seeded Decay is always a color midway between orange and yellow. In early stages it will retain a core of its original seed materials. It is during this early period of development that the Decay is easiest to destroy, because while the core lasts, the Decay is still dependent on it for sustenance. Destroy the core, and its local manifestation of the Decay can no longer regenerate any damage it takes.
There has been some debate as to the degree of human agency involved in seeding the Decay. It cannot be denied that human corpses have provided the seedbed for numerous manifestations. The question is, have these instances been manipulated deliberately by human agents? Our limited relationship with Outsiders has hindered investigations into this question. We are aware that certain communities of Outsiders place a high value on the Decay, primarily for its hallucinogenic and anesthetic properties, but these outsiders are known to take considerable care to protect their sources of the Decay and would not let so many deliberately-seeded victims roam loose in the world, to fall wherever they may. It is possible that they deliberately seed the Decay, but in protected areas where we have no knowledge of or access to them. Most researchers agree that the human-seeded manifestations we encounter are probably the natural result of random infection. The fact that these random infections seem driven to seed themselves near our territories is part of a separate discussion, that of the possible existence of corrupt will.