The trap is set
At first glance it looks just like any other rusty old iron spike. Even the most experienced iron gatherer could not tell you the difference. There is no magic to detect, for its trigger lies in the simplicity of reaction. The reactive mixing of chemicals , metals and sweat. The bond that holds an Iron Puff together is a delicate one, handled roughly they will puff, exposure to sweat or blood and they puff. But simple water and gentle actions, like rain and weather is not enough to create the un-bonding reaction. It can lay in its dormant state, awaiting the trigger, for many an age.
After the battle, the iron gatherers soon descend upon the battlefield, collecting items of use. Weapons, armor, iron spikes. The Iron Puffs are also picked up, trigger and puff, sending fine, iron red, dust particles into the air. To be breathed in, absorbed by anyone in the vicinity.
Iron Puff poisoning.
The fine dust particles produced in an Iron Puff reaction are a subtle poison Their reaction on a respiratory system is a primary trigger for other problems in various organs and tissues throughout the body. It can be a very slow process. In its inconspicuous form, it dosen't directly attack the organs but stops the natural healing process within the body. It triggers disease, destroys the immune system. It provides a perfect environment for bacteria growth, fungi, viruses and worms. It assists chronic illnesses, that left unchecked, will lead to eventual organ breakdown and horrific death. Heart and lung failure and eye diseases are among the most notable.
Allergic reaction to things made of Iron. The body has absorbed so much iron now that even the residue from an iron item like armor up against the skin will trigger an allergic reaction. It will cause anything from an annoying and itchy rash to a breakdown in the cellular structure of the skin, creating open wounds that resist healing and welcome infection.
Inflammation, increased susceptibility to viruses and fungal infections, asthma and respiratory disorders and shortness of breath, fatigue, depression, abdominal pain, dysentery, diarrhea, joint pain, accelerates cell mutation and tumor growth, impotence, eye discoloration, loss of night vision, seizures, impaired hearing, loss of body hair, organ failure (liver, kidney, heart, lung), death.
There is not much one can do except to purge the body of the toxic levels of iron and hope that the body mends itself and the sooner this is done the better the chance of limiting serious long term problems. Various degrees of success have been attributed to these treatments; Copious amounts of fish and fish oil in the diet, removal of alcohol from the diet, strenuous work promoting excessive sweating, blood leaching.
History- including extracts from the journals of historian Melberr
The first known report of this reaction was found in the journals of Zal'Nitri, an alchemist from the province of E'shen. Young at the time, Zal was called upon by the current ruler, King Gadgamon, to halt an epidemic that was rampaging through the minerfolk. The people of E'Shen were and industrious folk, mining many materials from the nearby, E'Shen mountain range, that all but surrounded the capital Limexin. The town of Limexin was host to a bustling trade center and the fortress/palace of King Gadgamon himself. But an outbreak of sore throats and respiratory disorders had started to concern the nobles of the land. Without the workers, there would be no product with which to trade and no trade meant no wealth.
Zal'Nitri set up a group of learned men and women and researched the phenomenon. His first noteworthy point was that it was 'all to slow for an epidemic.' The problem did not seem contagious and indeed concentrated its affliction on only the workers of the iron ore processing plant. The symptoms were however serious and varied from; sore throats, including the coughing up of dark red phlegm, through to severe respiratory failure and death.
These findings and that of his fellow researchers, convinced Zal'Nitri that it was the ingestion of iron dust. A build up within the body, to levels that eventually became toxic. The processing procedures were changed in order to minimize the dust and no new reactions were documented after that. However, despite Zal's continued research into the problem he was never able to help cure the disease. Most of those that had been exposed to the dust eventually succumbed to lung death.
Other reports, from other lands, have been discovered that support the findings of Zal'Nitri but none were as numerous and detailed or researched to the same extent. The only other major incident of this disease, was in the same town of Limexin. Some 40 years after the initial outbreak it occurred again but this time it was no accident.
Its believed that King Gadgamon was becoming desperate. His lands and now his fortress had been under siege for many months. With little forces left to defend his walls he knew all too well his time was near. Soon the hoards would overrun, soon they would pillage, 'to the victor goes the spoils of war' he thought. Then it hit him, that was it, a last gasp. He would loose, it was true but his aggressor would pay the worst price imaginable for this victory. If the King could not have the life he once loved, the freedom, wealth and happiness, then neither would his victors.
He called for his old, injured and dying alchemist, Zal and his learned followers and set them a grand task, once again. A simple but deathly trap that would allow the king to smile from the grave. He, King Gadgamon would die, knowing that the taste of victory would turn bitter in their very mouths. With his last breath, it is written that, Gadgamon said 'he could taste the sweetness of revenge'.
Zal and his fellows did well for their king and created a weapon, potent and innocent. Mixing various chemicals they were able to produce a reaction that would cause extensive and violent rusting of iron articles. It would break down the iron into the smallest possible particles. They coated, iron spikes and lay them scattered around the fortress, left them to rust naturally and to await the trigger. A normal iron spike, a common weapon of the day would, when triggered, explode in a puff of red dust. So light were the particles that the cloud of dust would hang in the air and drift on the currents, long enough to be inhaled. From then on, nature would take its coarse.
The hoard eventually broke the defenses of Limexin and after the total inhalation of the inhabitants they set to work on pillaging the area for all its worth. Although some of the iron seemed of exceptionally bad quality and violently crumpled at the slightest touch, the iron gathers, soldiers and ransacker's took all they could. In the dust and smoke of a destroyed fortress, the iron dust was born, breathed and began its assault on its hapless victims.
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? Responses (13)
A useful biological weapon. Are dwarves as badly affected as humans?
Strange you should mention that. I had in my scratchings some specific nastiness towards fey types. (not that dwarves are) But when I went to type it up properly I couldnt remember why or what led me to that reasoning. Hopefully it will come to me one day.
Probably because the fey are traditionally weak to iron. Hence a disease based upon iron would be extremely nasty to them.
An interesting concept with a complete and logical backstory. At least it is not a silly part of the iron spike fad.
I do wonder about the activation, thinking that anything this unstable, especially if it is not completely magical, might activate with just time or water.
This is indeed the weak link ;) I specifically wanted no magic attached, as I was tired of "detect magic' finding my deepest secret and I believe the "its so magical you cant detect its magic" to lack depth. So I wanted a trap which wasn't really a trap as in "detect trap". Its not as if there are springs or trigger mechanisms to find :) I really wanted the "if i cant have it neither can you" feeling to come across, ie Not able to convert it back to iron. The only avoidance was to simply leave it be. Of course a mage could always toss a convert to metal spell at them or something :)
Biological warfare. Nasty, but very logical and complete, as noted.
What could be added is some way of removing the 'trap', once the effect is recognized (doubtlessly seen as a curse by the invaders). At its worse, melting down the iron should suffice, but other means could be devised, like applying a variant of the modern anti-corrosion paint.
Nicely done. Interesting details, good format.
Interesting concept and a solid addition to the iron spike movement. On a side note since the puffs create neither a viral nor bacterial agent, I would have to consider the puffs to be chemical weapons and not biological weapons.
Oh. Good note. Chemical warfare it is.
Submissions that quietly border on the possible are always interesting.
Weapons fit for Saddam.
BUMP, this one is growing on me. That, plus I'm falling in love with the name, 'Iron Puff' :)
Hmm. Very interesting.... Is the puff supposed to be a plant that evolved under special circumstances?