The Great Pestilence was a plague which ravaged most of Calavria and regions of eastern Ibarran some one hundred and fifty years before the formation of the Realm, and a generation after the collapse of the Calavrian Empire. It is believed to have originated in Sahradia and spread across the sea on trade ships.
First records of the Pestilence have been tracked to Sahradia, where it infected not the goblins, but their human slaves. Although historical documentation pertaining to the Pestilence in that time and place have not been easily found, there is some evidence to suggest the goblins dealt with the Pestilence by exterminating whole units of slaves, even if not all of them were proven infected, simply for safety. It is likely that these extreme methods were why the goblins could keep the Pestilence under control, but not before trading or raiding ships likely crewed by human slaves crossed the sea to Ibarran.
The Pestilence was just as virulent in Ibarran, but died out within a decade due to the distances between various population centres. Entire communities were wiped out, according to archaeological findings and written records, but through intentional and simply practical quarantining, it the Pestilence soon enough reached an end. The damage to Ibarran and the Ibarrish population was notable, but mostly recovered from over a couple of generations. Where the Great Pestilence truly left its mark was in its crossing of the northern border into Calavria.
The Calavrian Pestilence
Calavria at the time had recently seen its borders diminished as its once-great empire withered and died. With less territory for space and for resources, this left an overcrowded population who were considerably more impoverished than they once were. Calavria no longer had access to the agriculture of the islands of the Narrow Sea, and so the general lower quality of life was compounded by a worse, even diminished, diet.
This made Calavria rife for the Pestilence. The poor health of the Calavrians left them easily infected, and the close quarters of the cramped populace saw it spreading quickly. It was deadly, highly infectious, and fast-acting. Worst of all, its symptoms did not manifest in the first few days of infection and so it was difficult to tell the infected from the not before the obvious and lethal symptoms showed themselves.
Pleas were made to the priesthood of Vaitera in Calavria and beyond for their aid, and the clergy answered as best they could. But it was simply impossible for even the combined might of the Church to eradicate the plague, no matter how much the desperate nobility tried to pay them. The effort at healing the disease was such that not enough people could be healed for an effective quarantine effort to be implemented, and so all they could do was stave off the disease for the rich and influential, because they had the chance to keep themselves isolated and safe. Many of the clergy ventured into the streets of Antinori and other crowded locales to do what they could, but many whom they healed were simply infected again days or weeks later.
The End of the Pestilence
In many ways the Pestilence wiped itself out. Over 60% of the population of Calavria succumbed to it over a fifty-year period, and recent historical research suggests the proportion to be closer to 70%. With the populace so diminished it became more possible for the priests of Vaitera to employ effective methods of quarantining, where they could successfully heal a portion of the populace and keep them safely uninfected while they moved on to the next group of the populace.
Additionally, the rise of Necromancy made avoidance of infection easier. The quarantine was originally impractical simply because to stay at home away from infection invited death by starvation when an individual didn't work. With a large number of fresh bodies available, necromancers were able to ply their trade by utilising the risen corpses as a workforce for Calavria. These zombies were originally used as methods of moving and managing the dead, but before long also became a workforce to fill the gaps where the original workers were dead or hiding from infection. This would aid immensely in the quarantining of the infected, especially when the Church offered payment to the farms utilising the undead workforces so they would feed the unworking, quarantined populace.
Through the undead workforce and massively diminished population making quarantining easier, the Great Pestilence was eventually eradicated by the Church of Vaitera, aided by some enterprising alchemists who had concocted cures - though these were too expensive to be produced on a massive scale. Both of these factors would go on to affect Calavrian society massively, as the people normalised the presence of an undead workforce, and as the shattered population endeavoured to rebuild their nation again as an economic juggernaut.
Since then there have been no outbreaks of the Great Pestilence that have been recorded. Rumours have suggested that it occasionally sweeps through Sahradian slaves, but again these individuals are eradicated, and it has yet to return to pandemic levels.
Symptoms and Treatment of the Great Pestilence