The Dying Time was a long period between April 20, 1841, and December 1855 when Chinese Viral Prefrontal Encephalopathy became extremely prolific, especially along global trade routes. This period begins with the spread of CPVE from the first known outbreak in Canton, China to other Pacific Rim ports and eventually across the globe to the point in December, 1855, when the world's population of uninfected begins to recover and adapt to the threat of Canton Madness. December 1855 is generally accepted as the end of the Dying Time as it is the point where the world's population begins to grow after fourteen years of sharp decline.
In mid-April, 1841, a major outbreak of Canton Madness occurred in British-occupied Canton, China. The disease caught the British completely off-guard; two days after the beginning of the outbreak, the British retreated by sea from the city to nearby friendly ports; namely Singapore and Hong Kong. On April 20, 1841, CVPE began to appear in these and other cities around the eastern Pacific Rim. Law and order broke down completely in much of East Asia. The period from April 20, 1841, to June, 1848, is generally known as The Spread.
The Spread was the time between April 20, 1841, to approximately June of 1848 where the rapid spread of CVPE resulted in massive political, social, economic, and environmental changes over a great area of the planet.
The Spread arguably began several days earlier than April 20, on March 30, when the virus began circulating through the rats of Canton, China. By April 20, the occupying British had fled and tens of thousands of civilians frantically attempted to flee overland from their former neighbors. The Chinese Imperial Army sent forces to Macau, Canton, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. The British immediately evacuated as much of its forces as possible from the South China Sea to Australia and India to regroup; Singapore is stocked with several extra garrisons and completely shut off from the outside world. By May 10, the Chinese Army has been pushed to the outskirts of Peking by the infected, Manila is held only by a ragtag group of surviving Spaniards. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese refugees flee the country; by July, 1841, the country has descended into civil war as several regional warlords overthrow the Qing Emperor Daoguang. Each warlord claims the Mandate of Heaven as his own; while each private army battles the other, the remains of the Imperial Army completely dissolve in June of 1841, leading to unprecedented spread of the disease through inland China.In October of 1841, the infection spreads for the first time to the New World at the Mexican port of Acapulco. By December, the disease has spread along the west coast of Mexico. The Mexican Army receives a flood of foreign aid as the infection spreads northward; American volunteers form the Society of the Dead, a mercenary group devoted to the extermination of the infection.
By February of 1842, many nations had developed their own specialized units of soldiers dedicated to the destruction of the infected. These units became known collectively as New Legions for their similarity to the Roman legions of old.
In July of 1843, the British East India Company, with the aid of the British Government, began building Victoria's Wall, an immense fortification running from the foot of the Himalayas and south across the Deccan Plateau, ending at the Arabian Sea just south of Bombay. The British East India Company used thousands of slaves to build the wall, including black slaves purchased and shipped from the United States. The Atlantic Slave Trade received a sudden boost as construction commenced; desperate for more labor to complete the massive building project, the British Royal Navy began illegally purchasing African slaves from Spanish and Portuguese merchants in the Caribbean and West Africa and shipping them east to India. The wall is completed in 1845; tens of millions of people south of the wall are forced to defend themselves as the British East India Company (and wealthy Indians) evacuate north of the wall.
The Virus Reaches the West
By March of 1844 the virus had spread across Texas and Mexico into both the Great Plains to the still-disputed Oregon Territory. With the British Navy busy in the east, the United States had discreetly increased its presence in the area; in 1843 American Missions and Forts dotted the coast and along the Snake and Columbia Rivers. With the disease spreading steadily east along the Missouri and Red Rivers, the American settlers in the Oregon Country became isolated from the rest of North America but by sea while the rest of the United States braces for the disease, instituting drafts and fortifying towns. With horror stories coming out of the West, the city of St. Louis explodes into panic when a barge full of the infected from upstream smashes against the docks on the Missouri; by nightfall of October 14, 1844 the city is burning and the waterways are full of barges and riverboats fleeing the devastation.