Consecrated to Cataclysm: The Story of Steel Horse Crossing’s Great Tree
Several years ago, when Steel Horse Crossing was just starting to grow into a town again, a Natural One tribe called the Kishwaukee came to the townspeople to ask for their help. They had a history of working with the local townspeople for several generations, even before the incident with the local Lascarians. They had come into town to meet this new group of settlers to gain some help in ending the sickness that was plaguing their tribe.
Members of the Kishwaukee had disappeared. Those of the tribe that were still left were now starving. And most importantly, their sacred tree was not well. At first, they noticed it wasn’t producing as many leaves during the Spring and Summer. Then, the leaves started to rot instead of changing colors and drying in the Autumn. Over the Winter, the tree started to drop its rotten leaves and the rot started to take hold onto the bark of the tree. Then they noticed a colorful ooze coming from small cracks in its bark and that the rot had started to happen to the surrounding trees in the grove. The surrounding plant life died, leaving nothing but an ever-increasing circle of strange, colorful mold covering the ground.
Their high priest Achak, who spoke with the Voice of the Great Tree, became unwell in the mind. The sicker the tree became, the less sense Achak made. Only during short moments of clarity did Achak articulate that there was something horribly wrong with the Tree. The priest kept saying that “something that doesn’t belong here” has “taken home inside”. They would mumble about “rotting from the inside,” “sweetness of decay,” and “the outside taking over”. Achak was powerful and highly respected amongst all the local tribes as the Speaker for the Great Tree and the Keeper of the Seasons, and so their warnings were considered quite dire. Achak died while several people from Steel Horse Crossing looked on. That Winter, the people of Steel Horse Crossing nearly died from starvation. (S1, 2016)
The sickness continued to spread, affecting the surrounding natural areas, local plants, and wildlife. A type of ant that lived within the infected area started to mutate due to prolonged exposure to the sickness, causing them to start producing a secretion that they spread upon the local fauna. This goopy secretion kept once-living things from sinking into the earth or decomposing at their natural rate. Pieces of once-living creatures were found all over the area and when the people of Steel Horse Crossing investigated these intact pieces of bodies, they contracted an unusual disease that manifested much like tuberculosis and left them severely violent and anxious. The townspeople cured those who contracted the onset of this unusual disease but did not discover its source. At this point, the entire Kishwaukee clan, except for a scarce few, contracted the sickness and died. The few that survived joined another clan and the Kishwaukee were no more.
The Kishwaukee were not the only victims to the infection of the land. The animals of the area started to mutate more quickly and aggressively than ever before. Several of the undead started attacking with toxic and irradiated blows. The ground itself split due to the old, fiery mines below the town, opening huge pressurized fissures that spewed enormous plumes of disorienting steam and intense blacklung-causing smoke. Several people became incredibly sick during that Helldive season, trying to save the area from the imminent disaster and destruction that had come annually to the area for decades. (S2, 2017)
Stay tuned for more hype in the next installment of Consecrated to Cataclysm: The Story of Steel Horse Crossing’s Great Tree!