The canon known as “Endless Decay” has a plain brown cover and ordinary pages, often causing it to blend in with other books. The binding is usually poor, the pages brittle and uneven, and the cover’s edges are typically white with wear. For some reason, few of these canons actually fall apart in use. Art most often shows victims of horrific diseases with gaping sores, emaciated bodies and twisted limbs. Sometimes it includes pieces depicting rats, cockroaches and other vermin waxing triumphant over other species and races.
Chapters called “Afflictions” divide Endless Decay. Each of the Afflictions describes a lethal or debilitating disease or a particularly revered type of pest or parasite. Although the number of Afflictions varies from copy to copy, most include at least 44. The version with only 28 is known as the Harbinger Heresy and The Pestilent Ones burn it on sight, along with the owner. The Afflictions range in length from a short essay just over a page to 30 full pages of relentless detail.
The vermin-related Afflictions tend to anthropomorphize the animal, all the while describing the environment in which they best thrive. Such Afflictions describe in great detail the virtues of the particular species from endurance to pain tolerance to adaptability. In every case, the subject pest is elevated in stature above the intelligent races of Tellene.
Most malady-related Afflictions are simple descriptions of a disease’s vector, incubation period and symptoms. Noticeably absent is any means of curing disease or relieving symptoms. Several describe the difference in expectations of a follower versus those of a cleric, although texts contradict each other (and themselves). Such contradictions have led to great division among the faith.
Universal commands or prohibitions are few, but include a vague warning against killing rats (especially wererats), cautions against letting fires grow out of control and lectures about the dangers of baths. Followers are urged to be affectionate, stand close to people they talk to and share food. Clerics are encouraged to create new spells that inflict or spread disease. Clerics who have the opportunity to kill a cat with impunity and fail to do so are punished.
Endless Decay is not illegal, but few consider its presence in a home encouraging. The only reason for its acceptance is that the description of diseases and their symptoms is useful to healers. It costs a mere 30 gp when it is available.