Very few venture into the softlands, that ever-changing wasteland of illusion and danger, and even fewer travel to the Mouth of Chaos at its center, a twisting pillar of transformation that warps everything it touches. Mostly they are priests - come to close the Mouth of Chaos or to worship it, or try their faith against the softlands - magicians come to learn what the softlands have to teach about the nature of the world, or adventurers come looking for monsters to slay and treasures to sell. Some are desperate men, come in search of transformation, hoping the softlands or the Mouth of Chaos can change them in some way, remove some defect of body or character, or at the very least exchange a hunted face for an innocent one, however terrifying and deformed that new face might be. Cities have cropped up at the edge of the softlands, for these adventurers and madmen to spend their gold, and a few communities survive within its borders. A few.
No one knows when the sick man came to the softlands. No one will admit to having met him, succored him, even spoken to him, out of fear of reprisal. He probably suffered from some life-destroying disease, like leprosy or consumption. He had probably been cast out of his home and had nowhere else to go. Perhaps he hoped that the Mouth of Chaos would remove his illness altogether - it had been merciful in the past and might be again - or perhaps he had only hoped for death. Either way, he remained unchanged. It was the disease that enjoyed the full extent of the softlands' mad blessing.
Before, those who stayed away from the softlands were safe. Far from the edge of chaos, in sane countries, they could live in peace and enjoy whatever their lives had to offer. Before, those the softlands had touched could leave and travel the world, and though their strange or grotesque shapes might inspire admiration, pity, or revulsion - or some combination of the three - but never fear or hatred.
Not so once the Change Plague began. The mutant disease, born of one man's desperation, spread far and wide. Now a chance meeting could lead to infection, and infection invariably led to transformation. Some can carry the disease their whole lives without knowing, meaning that anyone touched by chaos - or, in fact, anyone at all - was suspect. And when the disease chose to blossom, it was as a terrible fever that changed as it killed, leaving the survivors with warped bodies and shattered minds, and the knowledge that one day the disease might blossom again, and again, and again.
Much of the world died in the anarchy that followed. Kingdoms fell and new ones rose in their place. Those who are touched by the chaos are carefully watched. In some places, they driven away or killed. The only place safe for us and those who become like us is here, at the edge of the softlands.
You know the rules; there aren't any! In comments (or with a link to your own blog), tell me a story of someone touched by the Change Plague, the softlands, or the Mouth of Chaos, or anything else in the above.