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Before the Malaise[edit]

Little is revealed about what the island was like before the Malaise outbreak brought about its inevitable downfall. It seems likely that the island had been somewhat prosperous, though there are signs it was an oppressive rule even in the times before the Malaise.

Before the outbreak, the island was ruled by the King and Queen who resided in the High Peak Castle. The gates of the castle were defended by the Giant, the interior was defended by the royal guards, and royals themselves were protected by the Hand Of The King and The Servants.

Beyond the High Peak Castle is Stilt Village, primarily a fishing village where the lower class citizens of the island resided. Occasionally some villagers managed to acquire crystals from the Caverns to sell, though how they obtained the crystals is never mentioned.[1]

The sharp divide between the common folk and the nobility is apparent both in where and how they lived, and where they were buried. Villagers were interred in the graveyard outside the village, while high-ranking nobles were honoured with a resting place in the sepulcher with the skulls of their delegation decorating the chamber walls[2].

Also connected to the village is the Black Bridge leading to the prison, personally watched by the prison warden, Castaing. Back then, the bridge was infrequently used.

Mining in the Caverns was considered the most dangerous and thankless work on the island[3], claiming the lives of many of the King's subjects. Writings by the miners reveal how isolated they are from the general population[4], and that on top of the risks of mining accidents, strange creatures have been appearing and killing miners[5]. It's unclear whether this was before or strictly during the Malaise, but the miners had hid weapons around the caverns to presumably defend themselves from these creatures[6].

During The Malaise[edit]

Things quickly changed after a sudden deadly illness spread across the island. The illness was given a variety of names such as: the Malaise, the gloom, or the green poison[7]. Its symptoms were itchiness, belly aches, feeling down, headaches, blurred vision, vomiting blood and eventual death[8]. However, it reanimated the once-dead infected and mutated them into aggressive monsters who attacked the living.

In an attempt to contain the infection, the King ordered the imprisonment and execution of anyone who was infected, even those who were only suspected to be ill would be hanged[9][10]. The King ordered the prison warden, Castaing, to close off the gates and keep all prisoners inside even if they’ve finished their sentence.[11] The cells quickly became overpopulated with the overflow of prisoners, resulting them being kept in outdoor jails and oubliettes within the prison grounds[12].

While some of the guards questioned why they were transferring sick villagers to the prison and not getting them treatment, they were threatened with execution if they failed to obey the King’s orders. [13]

Inside the prison, the prisoners wrote on the cell walls questioning why the prison was being filled with the innocent, or simply lamenting how why they didn’t want to get infected and die.[14][15]

Many prisoners attempted escape by digging tunnels into the sewers or out to the Promenade[16], and climbing the Ramparts. However, these attempts always resulted in death to either exhaustion, starvation, or by the hands of Castaing himself if they made it as far as the Black Bridge.[17]

The Giant confronted the King, warning him his actions would bring ruin to the kingdom[18]. The King, however, ordered the Giant to be executed, and had his body thrown in the prison quarters.[19]

Within the village, the villagers revolted against the King, vandalising his posted orders and the statue of him and his Hand, and even demanding his death. This led to what would later be called the Nights of Bloody Riots. After putting down the revolt, the guards condemned an entire wing of the prison to become the Ossuary, a place to dump corpses and have them burned, as the Graveyard was now full. So many bodies were incinerated that prisoners whose cells had windows would choke on the ashes of the cremated. Even then, the bodies piled up endlessly and burning them was no longer good enough as they were reanimating (and acquiring weapons) faster than they could be burnt.

At this time, the King wasn’t the only one taking action against the Malaise. A sorceress, called the Time Keeper, resorted to rewinding time and executing the infected to keep the Malaise at bay, although this exhausted her, as noted by the Alchemist.

The Alchemist used scientific means to find a cure. He traveled all over the island performing research, seeking to learn the origin of the illness and find anything that could halt or cure its progression, using corpses or villagers who volunteered their bodies for his work.

His research took him to an ancient sanctuary located beneath the village. Some believed the liquid sap running through the walls of the sanctuary could have contaminated the sewer network and thus brought about the Malaise, though this was never verified with any certainty. Nonetheless, the alchemist began experimenting with the sap. Over time, he discovered mutations in the infected slowed down when their bodies were submerged in a solution of the sap. However, the sap produced unpredictable results on the bones of corpses. He reflects on whether the King’s methods were correct.

During the final retreat, when the Malaise was at its peak, the King gave the Alchemist a wing of the castle to continue his experiments. In the end, everything proved to be futile as the royal guard, once protected within the castle, too succumbed to the infection, finally along with the King himself.

As a final desperate attempt to contain the infection to the island, the Time Keeper set the island in an endless time loop.

Important characters[edit]

The King[edit]

Main article: King

The King was the ruler of the island and the main antagonist.

He was once respected and loved, or perhaps tolerated, by his people, and was looked up to as a model for them. He is also portrayed as egotistical, erecting many statues of himself all over the island, including the Promenade, the Caverns, the Stilt Village, and others.

It is unclear what relationship the King had with the Queen before and during the Malaise, besides the fact of their marriage. It’s possible the Queen expresses a sentimental love for the King and regrets the Malaise ruining what they had—though this statement could be interpreted as likely sarcasm.

Furthermore, the King disdained foreign beliefs and barely tolerated the existence of the temples in the Fractured Shrines. He created a law preventing anyone from travelling to the Fractured Shrines, which was ultimately a useless law as nobody wanted to go there.

He banished followers of a pagan cult out to the wild parts of the island, apparently receiving unanimous support for this decision. He also banished the Apostates to the Undying Shores for unspecified “crimes against the crown.”

Closer to home, the King also had executed his most senior medical advisor, for unspecified reasons. On another occasion (possibly after the Malaise began to spread) he had the castle's head cook executed due to paranoia about attempts on his life.

Some time before the Malaise, the King allowed the Time Keeper to construct the Clock Tower under unknown terms discussed between them.

The Alchemist[edit]

The Alchemist is an unseen figure throughout the island. He searches everywhere for a cure for the Malaise, though all his efforts seem to have failed. It is said the Alchemist was rather unpopular as the Giant and the Hand of the King (who disliked each other, and never agreed on anything) both agreed that nobody liked the Alchemist.

Time Keeper[edit]

Main article: Time Keeper

Before the Malaise, the Time Keeper gained permission from the King to build the clock tower, under unspecified terms.

When the Malaise outbreak began, she rewinded the day over and over again to execute infected civilians and monsters in an attempt to contain the infection. This process exhausted her and the number of executed eventually decreased with each cycle. Eventually, she encased the island in a continuous rewinding loop to keep the Malaise contained, giving an explanation to how the island resets with every death the Beheaded sustains.

The Time Keeper also kept a collection of swords stored floating in mid-air, as evident by a lore room in the clock tower.

The Beheaded[edit]

Main article: The Beheaded

The Beheaded is unaware of how it came to be, but evidently it was created in the Undying Shores, as it says an empty vat feels “uncomfortably familiar”, and a skull on a desk “oddly familiar”. The Beheaded is recognized by the prisoners and a few others, such as the Crypt Demon, who calls the Beheaded an anomaly, and mentions that "she" has been looking for it.

The Beheaded tends to make sarcastic remarks about situations it finds itself in. Even going around kicking corpses and pestering those who are alive. However, despite this, The Beheaded is shown to have both remorse and empathy: The Beheaded seems upset by the cruel orders from the King, telling a dead prisoner to "rest in peace", and lacks humour when finding a hanged woman and two dead bodies in a bed near her, and grims at the sight of a guard killed by the effects of the Malaise.


The Malaise [edit]

Main article: Malaise

The origins of the Malaise are relatively unknown. It's widely suspected, though never confirmed, to come from the Slumbering Sanctuary’s sap seeping into the sewer network below the prison.

The Malaise was helped spread across the island by infected insects, contaminated fish feasted on by the villagers, and improperly disposed infected corpses within the sewers, leading the illness to spread rampantly admist the island's population.

The symptoms of the Malaise are itchiness, belly aches, feeling down, headaches, and blurred vision, vomiting blood, and eventually certain death. On top of this, the Malaise caused mutations in both the living and dead, turning the infected into bloodthirsty monsters.

The Apostates [edit]

Main article: Apostates

The apostates were once respected healers of the island with many medical advancements, however, some found their methods rather unpalatable, presumably to their lack of moral restraint. They were chased from the island by the king for unspecified ‘‘crimes against the crown’. It’s said the apostates had been tampering with ancient artifacts present on the coast of the Island. Aside from that, there were rumours of strange experiments and sightings of vile creatures near the shores, before the Malaise.

Additionally, the Apostates are a group of like-minded individuals; one Apostate's motives could be irrelevant to another. The apostates also denounce any sense of morals.

Pagans [edit]

The pagans are a group of individuals who practised a foreign belief and built temples for, which the king barely tolerated. The pagans were cast out to the wild areas of the island by the king, a rare edict that enjoyed unanimous support. The pagans didn’t like the idea of anyone adventuring close to the shrines, neither did the king or his people.

The pagans were also led by a queen, who had vaults filled with treasure in the temples.


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