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In 2E 882, Dagoth Ur awoke from his slumber and unleashed the Blight (also known as the Ash Blight) upon Morrowind. The Blight is a weather phenomenon that originates from within Red Mountain, beyond the protection of the Ghostfence. Described as a health-threatening, ash-heavy volcanic cloud, exposure to the Blight mostly occurred through tainted ash storms. These ash storms carried red dust, giving the roiling, dusty storms a crimson tint. These weather events were referred to as "blight storms". By 3E 400, Blight storms were frequent and more widespread, and soul sickness had spread in regions close to Red Mountain. House Redoran was particularly strained in its territories, and maintained great volunteer forces in Maar Gan and Molag Mar.
The blight storms were at their worst in 3E 427, ushering the Vvardenfell Crisis. As the infections rose, the Empire laid down an embargo on wares from Vvardenfell, leading to some starvation and further isolation of the Dunmer on the island. Deformed "corprus men" started appearing from the slopes of Red Mountain, following the Blight storms and bringing death and disease with them. Mortals and animals that were twisted and driven mad by the Blight wandered the Ashlands, making travel dangerous.
Blight diseases resist common herbal and magical treatments, and appear in two forms: wasting diseases which attack one or more of an organism's systems, and abnormal growth diseases, which distort the organism's functions and structures. The latter causes the infected to become physically twisted and angry monsters, unafraid of attacking their fellow citizens. Blight diseases are transmitted through blight storms and by touching Blighted creatures. Natives try and avoid exposure to the Blight, and wear special protective garments when traveling in regions prone to the Blight. Those infected can be cured with the help of potions and spells specially tailored to treat the Blight.
The foul effects in Blight storms are derived from the foul magic in the dust. Soul sickness and Blight diseases go hand-in-hand; the Blight storms were the cause of rampant soul sickness in 3E 427. One Ashlander described the phenomenon as the Sharmat Dagoth Ur "sending bad dreams" in the dust. People who lived in areas that were exposed to Blight storms (namely as the Ashlands) experienced nightmares, and had difficulty sleeping as a result. Those who moved from Blighted areas to places the Blight storms' reach hadn't quite extended noticed the symptoms of soul sickness were relieved; the terrible dreams they experienced in Blight-prone zones ceased after they relocated.
Dagoth Ur intended to "broadcast divine power over the blight winds", hoping to touch every soul in Vvardenfell, eventually extending overseas to mainland Morrowind and infecting the rest of Tamriel.
The Blight disappeared after Dagoth Ur's defeat at the Nerevarine's hands. However, the threat posed by the Blight wasn't over, despite the fact that opportunities for tainted ash storms to infect new hosts on a broad scale had been stifled. Many Blighted creatures survived, and their diseases with them. Furthermore, some speculated that it was possible for creatures to contract Blight diseases from contact with the tainted ash that had accumulated for centuries in the wastelands. As such, some scholars theorized that it may be many years before Morrowind was truly free of the Blight.
Effects of the Blight on the Ecosystem and the Economy
The Blight had an adverse effect on the Vvardenfell's fauna. It wiped out cliff striders, nix-oxen, and vvardvarks by the late Third Era. It affected the profits drawn from the land by leading to the closure of mines in Blight-prone locations. Blight storms killed crops as well as natural flora, and had the potential to make creatures stronger and more dangerous to unwary travelers. All animals could be affected—herd animals, game animals, none were immune. Animals who got the red taint went berserk: they bit, they fought, and tried to kill everything they saw. Herders became ill and watched their herds die. Hunters could not find food, and farms failed.
Kwama egg mines were especially susceptible to sudden outbreaks of Blight and subsequent closure. Kwama foragers roam far from their colonies, and can wander deep into the Ashlands, as far as the Ghostfence. Those caught in Blight storms were infected, and could carry the disease back to their colony, infecting the queen and her subordinates. Ridding a colony of the Blight was an expensive and dangerous endeavor, as infected foragers, workers and warriors fought fiercely. Moreover, miners who worked in Blighted colonies ran the risk of being infected themselves. The risk of infection and the loss of otherwise perfectly good kwama weren't the only things that cut into the profits of kwama mine owners whose ventures were plagued by the red taint; Blighted kwama eggs are inedible.
- In concept art for Morrowind, the source of the Blight is portrayed as a miasma originating from Akulakhan's eyes.
- For game-specific information see the Morrowind article.
- Vvardenfell Then and Now on the official ESO website
- Dagoth Ur's Plans — Tribunal Temple
- Generic dialogue on the topic of the Blight in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Blight Storms in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Maar Gan in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Molag Mar in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Blight Monsters in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Blight Diseases in Morrowind
- Yakum Hairshashishi on the topic of Soul sickness in Morrowind
- Dagoth Ur's response to What is your plan for the Heart? in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of More Blight Storms in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Blight-sick Animals in Morrowind
- Generic dialogue on the topic of Blight Disease in Morrowind
- Akulakhan concept art for Morrowind