Known as the Changing Circle, diseases of the Third Circle are the most virulent and powerful of all Essence ailments. Due to their incredibly infectious and destructive nature, these diseases are as greatly feared as they are rarely observed in either environmental or laboratory conditions. In general, any disease of this circle can be assumed to kill any mortal almost immediately, while drawing out the results of infection of an Exalt into an ongoing state that is often factually inferior to death.
Diseases are classified into this Circle as a result of overall virulence, or by meeting at least three of the five criteria:
Although specific figures may vary dramatically for each individual condition, diseases of this circle tend to have a virulence rating of between 570 and 1145 Xt, a contagion rating of between 7 and 10 Au, and (at full manifestation) a motonic displacement of 15400 dcM or above.
Diseases of this circle include Iphimedeia (which is also known as The Revel Outside the Sealing of the Gates), the Umpteenth Necrotic Rejoinder Malady, the Severance of Ten Thousand Cares Infection, King of Ashes Disease, Ji'bwani Discs-and-Squares Syndrome, and the Creeping Black Sun Sickness.
Virulence: 1290 Xt Contagiousness: 7 Au Motonic Displacement: 21000 dcM (observed)
With only seventeen documented cases, the Creeping Black Sun Sickness is one of the least well-understood of the known spiritual diseases of the Third Circle. A quick-acting condition, CBSS's vectors are unclear (although they seem to relate to Abyss-tainted energies) and its onset is quick and deadly.
Of seventeen cases to date, only the semi-consistent presence of Abyss-related Essence has thus far been determined regarding the means of acquisition. The identified causes of the existing cases are as follows:
During the earliest stages of manifestation (0-1 hrs) the disease manifests in the form of a seven-pointed sun appearing as a black mark on the affected extremity, which reflects the subcutaneous formation of an n-dimensional cruxsigil which intertwines itself with the Tier A through C natural Essence pathways of the patient in that region. The afflicted extremity seems to vary, except in four of the cases involving Abyss emenations, in which the exposure to the causal agents occurred directly upon a qualifying limb -- in these cases, infection always occurred within one day, and always in the exposed region.
Within a short period (6-24 hrs) the cruxsigil matrix begins to expand, with a visible effect of dark tendrils stretching outwards from the mark. In the process, Essence pathways within the patient become realigned, redirecting their intended flow along the sigil-derived pathways and thereby strengthening the central cruxsigil. This redirected Essence causes the initial sun to glow with a dark radiance, which produces a secondary effect at a radius between 20" and 50", depending on severity: a withering effect (rated at 130 Xt) which directly affects the vitality of non-Essence-using flora and fauna in the nearby region. As this stage advances, the patient's aura becomes frayed and disturbed; visual emenations (featuring black suns scouring the landscape of life) begin to fill it, drawing on existing mechanisms of Essence anima display if in place in order to broadcast this image more broadly.
At the terminal stage (36-72 hrs) the infection becomes all-consuming. The cruxsigil's tendrils reach the Essence core of the patient, and the disease gains control over their gross functions. The immediate effects of this condition are an imposition of angular motion, a desire to scour upon the landscape dark sigils of worship to the Malfeans, and a dramatically increased capability for energetics and Essence-wielding, at an advancement rate of 3.27q (adjusted) to the duration of the Essence-structure viability of the patient. During this period the patient may prove difficult or impossible to restrain using normal means.
At expiry, the cruxsigil relocates itself to the sky of Netheos, where it hangs as a new star commemorating the loss of the patient, while the lower-soul structure will inevitably retain its form as a Hungry Ghost, incorporating the swollen Essence pathways created by the disease into its plasmic form; the resulting beast will display an asymmetry based on the manifest pathway networks grafted onto its base form, and maintain the overall raised Essence efficiency quotient of the patient in the near-death state.
Treatment of this disease has proven difficult. Application of counter-Essence has proven fruitless; the pattern derives its strength from its interactions with the natural Essence patterns of the patient's body. Motoregression therapy has proven incapable of halting the disease's advance. Application of Immortality Peaches showed some promise in arresting (but not curing) the ongoing progress of the disease, as did powerful artifact Essence tourniquettes assembled of blue jade and starmetal.
At this time, only one treatment is of proven effectiveness: the removal of the affected body part, and all infected tissues, within the 0-12 hour window, before the second stage of infection has set in. However, patients for whom this procedure has been performed have experienced a zero mortality rate (out of five such attempts); it seems that successful advance excise of the disease will consistently produce a full and complete recovery.