[Darkest Dungeons] The Cure

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****
Dissection reveals the contagion has dramatically altered the subject’s internal morphology. The skull, hips and several smaller bones have decalcified completely, leaving flexible, cartilaginous structures. Signs of early decalcification can be seen in other parts of the skeleton as well. Many internal organs are atrophied or missing entirely. I can find no sign of the lungs and the heart has withered to a small lump. Conversely, the organs of generation have swollen grotesquely to far larger than normal. As a widower, none can vouchsafe the subject’s original proportions but surely testes of this size would have had a noticeable effect on gait and posture.

The digestive system has suffered the most dramatic alteration, being replaced entirely by a knot of ropy muscular tissues. It is possible that some of the unaccounted for organs may be located inside this new structure, but dissection has not yet commenced on this new mass.

At this time, it is unclear how the subject was able to survive so long with these extensive physiological changes.
*****

Paracelsus returned the quill to its holder and blew gently on the paper to dry the ink before closing the research diary. The edges of the book were stained with blood and other, less savory, fluids but these things were inevitable and therefore not worth worrying about. She dipped her fingers in a bowl of cloudy liquid, a mixture of perfume and laudanum. She dabbed the mixture under her small, slightly upturned nose and combed her fingers through her rough-cut brown hair. The vapors would keep the plague at bay while she worked.

She was dressed in a thick leather smock, stained from her work and sporting numerous pockets filled with scalpels, shears, tongs, saws and probes. She was short, scarcely five feet tall, and her heavy clothes almost completely concealed any signs of femininity. All the better, as few of her colleagues thought much of the idea of a female alchemist. Sometimes she considered binding her chest with cloth to complete the illusion but she was cursed with the curves of a wanton and it would be impossible to do so comfortably. She disliked it, an intellectual had no need for these tedious udders and she had no interest in baiting the glances of men.

She looked over at the subject spread out over the slab. A day earlier the body had been her mentor, the alchemist and surgeon Wilhelm Bombastus. She had found his body this morning, slumped over his desk. Once his infection had become clear she had pressed him to accept her most recent experimental treatment, arguing that there could be nothing to lose at this point. He had refused, claiming some nonsense about a religious awakening and pointing out the extended, agonized deaths which resulted from her previous attempts. It was nothing but cowardice, fleeing to the Light to hide from his inevitable death.

She pulled on the stained leather gloves once more and examined her latest attempt at a counteragent. As the contents of the flask reached a light boil she added mercury salts and lowered the heat. With a pair of metal tongs, she dropped a small sliver of tissue, retrieved from the corpse, into the mixture which immediately churned and frothed.

A promising reaction.

Paracelsus loaded a trio of silver syringes with the mixture. The plague struck without warning and killed quickly so it was essential to have her latest mixture ready at hand should a patient become available. Unfortunately, even face-to-face with the horrors of the contagion few were willing to accept her ministrations. The local church was full of mad fanatics, preaching that only prayer, fasting and, of course, donations could save you from the plague. The fools.

She turned back to the surgical slab, ready to continue the dissection of the odd structure in the corpse’s torso. She had to act quickly, victims of the plague tended to decay rapidly after death.

The slab was empty, save for puddles of blood and other fluids.

“Who goes there!” She shouted, uncertain and nervous. Who would make off with a half-butchered corpse? Resurrectionists abounded but those grave-robbers supplied corpses to the university, not the other way around. The clergy would certainly disapprove but they’d burst in torches blazing and gorged on self-righteousness. Even common thieves would have absconded with his clothes and medical gear, not his ruined body.

There was no answer.

Paracelsus withdrew a long, amputation scalpel from her belt and padded slowly to the door. She tested the handle and found it still locked. There was no other entrance, not even a window. She looked back at the slab. It was still empty. Was she going mad?

She approached the slab once more, probing the place where the corpse once lay with her scalpel. The copious blood and bile, still wet, stood as certain proof that a body lay here only moments before. The flask holding the corpse’s withered heart still sat on the corner of the slab.

A drop of liquid splashed on the center of the slab.

Another drop fell from above.

Paracelsus raised her eyes to the ceiling.

The creature was an unnatural mass of flesh and muscle, its body matching no known terrestrial taxonomy. A central mass of glistening tissue quivered and writhed, anchored by numerous fleshy tendrils extending from its nucleus and clinging to the rafters. Giant eyes, pitch-black like a rat’s, dotted the surface of the thing. The tattered remains of the corpse hung over the creature, her old teacher’s face sagging and wrinkled as an empty sack.

Shock froze her where she stood, face-to-face with a being she could not comprehend. Several of its eyes blinked, a few sinking completely into the thing’s mass. It shook its body like a wet dog, tearing the last few tendons holding the corpse and sending the ruined mass of skin flopping wetly to the ground.

This brok

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Written by rpickman
Hochgeladen August 25, 2020
Notes A brief Darkest Dungeon fan-story based on the idea of creating an alternative "origin story" for some or all of the classes of the game (I've been playing it a lot recently). This follows Paracelsus, the Plague Doctor, and her encounter with a disease that is a bit more lively than expected.

The story contains some (nonsexual) description of dead bodies, autopsies, etc. Otherwise the story includes monster/tentacle sex.
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