April 17th, 2017

Reading One Book

Disease or injury that causes death of character in fantasy world (made-to-order)

Final edit: Leukemia seems to be the solution - thank you all for your suggestions, even if I couldn't use them! It helped a lot to think through all the possibilities.

So I'm writing a story set in a fantasy world with limited to no technology as we know it (some civilizations know how to use gunpowder to blow up things, but that's not present in this story's civilization). The story is set in an agrarian village (where the men are often training to fight with bow/sword and defend their lands from evil creatures) with a Northern European-style climate. They have the standard sorts of livestock that we would see on an old-style family farm - chickens, pigs, cows or goats, some horses (although these are used as much for transportation between places as anything - sort of all-purpose). They are aware of how to keep things clean and have proper sanitation practices (unlike our medieval world) so diseases from unsanitary conditions are rare.

I'm trying to find a way for this character to die, with the following details:

- she's a woman in her late 20s, which is the prime of her life for this civilization

- if this is an injury, it isn't likely to be horse-related as she wouldn't be dealing with them much; the only body of water nearby is a creek used for water sources (and which she's unlikely to cross)

- while it's possible for her to be pregnant at the time (she's had only one child so far and that was two years before), she's not aware of a pregnancy (so any pregnancy-related complication would need to be something very early on)

- it needs to not be something very infectious that will prevent her from having normal visitors and such while she is dying

- it needs to be something she can tell is turning fatal; she has enough time to recognize that she is not likely to survive and prepare others, which brings me to...

- she has to stay conscious till nearly the end (could have a few hours of lapsing into unconsciousness, but not days), though could be in major pain (as long as she's not confused or unconscious), because she has to be able to talk to several people as she's nearing the end and tell them things for the future

- this can happen sometime from late spring to early fall

- she has been healthy up to this point, so it can't be a disease developing over years

I googled everything from "septicemia" to "tetanus" to "dysentery" to "fatal fever" (which got me some book about Typhoid Mary) to "fatal pregnancy" (just in case I'd missed something there) to "disease fatal" to "medieval disease/death/etc." (every variation I could think of). Septicemia looked useful except for the confusion; tetanus seemed to rule out being able to communicate with the muscle spasms; dysentery is far too gross (I'd rather not have a disease where there is frequent emergence of lots of bodily fluids and other nasty stuff - though if nothing else seems to work, dysentery might be it!); most of the others were far too contagious; and I couldn't find any of the pregnancy complications that looked viable. While I've done a lot of research on illnesses, I am quite open to an injury if there's one that will cause death slow enough for her to have those conversations.

If there's anything out there I can use (real-world diseases, but if there's an old-fashioned name for it I'll be using that), let me know your suggestions! I won't actually be writing her death scene - the POV is of a character who won't be in the room with her at the time, but will be hearing some of the "last words" preparation before she leaves the room, as she's being charged with raising the dying character's child, so I have to know how she'd be speaking (halting? lots of pauses between words? as long as she can get the words out - and then have another 10-minute or so convo with the person who is in the room with her at the time she dies - I'm good).

Edit: Finally just got a hold of a relative with some medical experience, and their suggestion made me want to headdesk because of its simplicity: Cancer. It might be more common in our modern era due to all the pollutants and chemicals we're exposed to, but it still happened back then. Their suggestion was leukemia… Does that fit? And if so, where on earth can I find a description of the disease's progression without medical treatment? Whichever it is needs to only be discovered by this character some weeks before she dies, so maybe her symptoms are too mild before that to be noticed, or it's a variety that develops rapidly…