Updated: Sep 1, 2022
How a new plague is forming and what it could mean if the "Whiter Shade of Pale" (as the Aarakocra call the "disease" driving them to extinction) started afflicting other races.
"A face at first just ghostly turned a whiter shade of pale; then he just faded away completely, and that was it for him," said Chief Malanik of the Blue Skies aerie when asked about the death of a late Shaman of the clan.
A decade ago, a new kind of disease started to decimate the Aarakocra. This disease is different from any other that has assaulted the avian species, for it doesn't just damage their bodies; it erases them from existence entirely. Victims of the illness will, over the course of a few days, turn pale (their feathers will become milky white), lose strength, and before completely disappearing, become even paler; thus, gaining the sickness the name of "Whiter Shade of Pale."
Memorious Ink sent a team of investigative journalists to the Prime Material Plane to indagate more about the illness. Their first stop was the Lun-Wilya (Blue Skies in Aarakocran) aerie, a Dutebatur Aarakocra community on the cliffs of the homonymous beach, the Whiter Shade of
Pale's ground zero, and home to the biggest research center for the disease, the BSRCWSP (Blue Skies Research Center for the Whiter Shade of Pale).
In Blue Skies, the team was able to interview Chief Malanik- one of the leading Aarakokra in the study of the disease and the founder of the BSRCWSP-who was a teen during the first-ever outbreak and witnessed the death of patient zero, the late Shaman Aminodi.
"It (the disease) decimated us. A third of the population- one out of every three of us- died during the first wave. There weren't even bodies to bury after. I knew when I was selected as the new chief, I had to do everything in my power to try to contain this disease," said Malanik as he showed the team around the BSRCWSP for the first time.
In the research center's labs, there are not only Aarakocra working but elves, humans, and other humanoid scientists, clerics, and magic wielders, all personally recruited by Malanik. When asked about what led him to involve other species, since the Aarakocra are notoriously isolationist, he answered:
"Well, I knew this was something greater than ourselves; if it (the Whiter Shade of Pale) spreads and starts affecting other beings, it would be catastrophic, potentially a mass extinction event. We need all the help and perspectives we can get."
So far, the researchers at the BSRCWSP have discovered that the disease is an air-born pathogen that can enter an Aarakocra's body through its beak and eyes and only affects those who possess a particular gene related to their plumage. Malanik and his team are currently working on developing a spell to test if an Aarakocra possesses the gene in hopes that those at risk can know to take extra safety measures.
For now, the BSRCWSP recommends all Aarakocra use masks to cover their beaks and goggles to cover their eyes when visiting areas where a recent outbreak has occurred.