Elephants crossing the seas!
It is not an infectious disease, but it is a plague upon the world.
For it spawns villains. And not your garden variety villains, but epic villains, master villains of the most dangerous kind Evil Geniuses.
Pnathic sorcery has existed for ages, crudely used by magi who no idea the true forces they were fumbling with.
An article concerning the nature and role of druids in an RPG enviroment.
Of creatures great and small
The Omen Plague has other names. It is known as The Star Plague and even The Mundane Plague. It is still with us today, now known by the common name of the Shaking Death. To set the stage, the stars were aligned in all the wrong signs. Everyone new something bad was going to happen. When winter set in hard and early, they thought that was it. They were wrong.
Plagues and other great diseases are important parts of history and some settings. They defy man and may even defy God in their swift and terrible punishment upon the body of society.
With a huge number of sacrificial victims, another realm long ago secretly bound a Prince of the land spirits, Iorstonn by name, thus ensuring the fertility, and improving the magical defences, of their realm. But binding that Prince to one spot has disrupted the weather and magical patterns (ley lines?) over half the continent. Things have become bad enough that a coalition has been formed to rectify the situation, once divinations have established the cause.
Your party is one of the teams assembled to do the rectification: find the binding object and steal it ("so that we can destroy it here in our realm, of course"...*) or destroy it over there. Presumably the Prince will be grateful to his rescuers and angry at the binders, but with a greater spirit like Iorstonn one can never be sure: such beings are "tricksy".
* Of course, the rulers of our realm might want to control Iorstonn for their own ends...