Doggerel plague "swept" through parts of Ghyll in -11 EC, originating somewhere south of Iganefta, and moving northwards through Folktown, Sejfield, Cranee, and the southern parts of the Evesque Valley. Whereas others use "swept" to describe the migration of the phenomenon, I prefer the more generous words of Baron Smallwood, suspected creator zero (which he continually and steadfastly denies):
Did indeed I travel to the cactus forests in -12 EC.
Did indeed my journalistic screeds suggest death was afoot.
But mustn't believe I, of delicious vintage (imbibe my good sir!),
would threaten the very public I intoxicate! For a dance and a lilt
the doggerel it spread, but a winedrinker not, those who are dead!
This "dance and lilt" of which the Baron speaks is one of the most curious of the plague's disabilities: upon infection, it slowly eats away at a person's logic, awareness, and oftentimes, flesh. The resultant victim mumbles incoherently and lyrically about anything in particular: the dirt between their toes, the distance between themselves and the last body part they lost, or the perkiness of Pinky:
Perkiness Pinky and its alluring aloof!
Pink as a mandible and suitably uncouth!
Questionably large and nastily overbearing!
Nipple! Nipple! Nipple!
After the infection rate reached its peak, a curious trend emerged: those involved in its research seemed most likely to contract the disease, even with their advanced methods of patient containment. This proved very useful when its corollary was observed: those who drank themselves into unconsciousness, fell asleep immediately after a long day of concentrated work, or stayed indoors and tended to children, were the least susceptible, even though they lived and worked in the "public world", hidden not behind doors and walls of research integrity.
Doggerel plague therefore was largely "cured" by the first public and coordinated attempt at deliberate ignorance: by failing to listen to the doggerel pouring from the maws of the diseased, members of the at-risk population could protect themselves, and consequently infection rates dropped. This calamity turned out to be one of acceptance, not infection: only willing and, more importantly, attentive hosts could succumb. Pleased with their skill of ignorance, Ghyllians tried again by creating the massive and wide-ranging Conflict That Is Not Happening, although their dogged perseverance has not been as successful here.
Astutely ignored, plague victims slowly disappeared throughout the known regions of Ghyll, and ignorance strengthened naturally: few needed to feign it come -9 EC. Cautious memories have only recently been recalled with the recent discovery in -2 EC that carriers were endemic to the town of Egron, seemingly living as "normal" a life as possible. Hindsight breeds understanding: this clearly explains the debacle of the -3 EC Bindlet Ball season of the Egron Eagles, not "masterful strategy" as one coach lamented.
"Normal" life in Egron doesn't consist of much: shambling to and fro, conceptual art based on the limbs of the lost, choruses of madness with no rhyme or reason, wheelbarrow races over flower gardens (an odd attempt at inter-species pollination), and what appears to be preservation: numerous infected have seen fit to write down their insanities, crafting a book not of the occult, but of oddities oppressed. It is currently unknown if any sane soul remains in Egron, or whether writing is a sufficient method of propulgation.
Besides those wandering the streets entertaining the like-minded, you can always find a good assortment of victims at the "One Arm Minimum", a bar that disallows anyone without the ability to hold a drink (although how an infected person actually pays for a drink is also unknown... some suspect a particularly inventive string of un-verse is payment enough). Another quirk is audible should a patron speak in Modern Standard Ghyllian: an immediate cacophony of "NO MSG ADDED!" arises which lasts for hours, long after the offender has left.
This latest evidence seems to contradict Baron Smallwood's claims that the dead drink no wine: although it has always been apparent that plague victims were not dead, merely apt to abdicate an appendage, it is now known that they do, in fact, drink spirits in wild abandon, heightening the disparity of their dialogue. Whispered rumors suggest the Baron had found a dying people in the cactus forests of -12 EC and, through alchemy, recreated the language in an attempt to study it and its effect more thoroughly. If his creation happened to ingest large quantities of his primary export, "did indeed" a happy side-effect indulge. The Baron has not yet responded to these latest allegations.
--Morbus Iff 22:13, 28 Sep 2004 (EDT)
In the interests of neutrality, I report without comment the following comment by Oblibestircus:
He calls those miserable specimens doggerel? Bah! I could invent better doggerel than that standing on my sixth finger! For example:It must have been an awful sightThere, that's a far, far better thing than he has ever done.
Pursuing it with forks and hope
To witness in the bright moons' light
The creature charmed with smiles and soap.
--John Cowan 13:11, 29 Sep 2004 (EDT)