The history of the continent of Elcaea is very much influenced by war. The sanctioned warmongers, the Principality of Xirdalan in one corner, and the Republic of Vodun in the other, had an unrivaled arsenal of weapons, materiel, beasts of burden, and artificial pathogens, all used by their respective heads of state to pummel their peers and subjects into submission.
Their weapons and materiel were used to bomb and to raze. Their beasts of burden were sat by forgotten knights who were told they would be heroes. Their artificial pathogens were engineered by unscrupulous scientists and delivered in a gaseous cloud that twisted soldiers and civilians alike into strange doppelgangers, or cursors, of common animals: the fox, the bear, the rabbit, the wolf. Sometimes they can muster the strength to appear completely human, sometimes not.
After Elcaea’s first great war, Vodun welcomed the cursors as second-class. In Xirdalan, it was worse. In lieu of an apology for creating the cursor virus, the Princehood formed, and maintains to this day, a volunteer Order Guard in each city that snoops out suspected cursors and imprisons them at the capital. Sick of this unworkable dichotomy, the cursors formed their own country to the west, known as the Grand Duchy of Lessis. Its capital, Reagast, is shrouded in a phalanx of mountains.
A hundred years later, the same scientists that engineered the Tetra-Alcaryine virus in Xirdalani laboratories now secretly slip pills to cursors that prevent transformation, keeping them safe for just a little longer. In Vodun, cursors successfully fought and won their equality before the law, and enjoy many protections. In Lessis, cursors own storefronts, are active in government and science, and business and leisure with non-cursors is common. One cursor even invented a combustion engine that runs using fuel that is, for lack of a better word, magic.
But no matter how much they achieve, the curse of transformation still plagues them. Stay human too long, and the transformation forces its way through, resulting in a savage loss of cognition that has taken more than a few lives. This circumstance is the bane of this world, and it is known as the Alcarys Complex.