The Highlands were ripe with talk as Duke Alistair Mac Conall invites the Lords of the North to a diplomatic discussion that evolves into a cultural conference to discuss furthering Highlander Culture within the Empire. In essence, no one turns up as although the idea sounded good in theory, there seemed to be no set goal, agenda, or meaning to the conference and thus it's killed in its crib. The Mac Conall feudal council criticises the plan, advising the Duke that in the future it’s best to have a clear set goal, clear set topics and ideas before seeking to remove other Dukes from their ruling duties. The Duke also inquired with the council as to his army's readiness, to which they replied that they had received no worrisome remarks or complaints and that it was likely as ready as any other feudal army in the Empire. Lastly, remarks were requested from the local lords about concerns and, as per usual, the only topic on their tongue was the Blight, which Mac Conall should already be well acquainted with. The Lords also pass on the message that the Duke need not sully himself looking for issues as when one arises, they will let him know. --- Garth Viduggla was left moping this week, reportedly staring outside of the window of one of the Viduggla estates for a shipment from the Highlands that did not arrive. A servant remarked seeing a single tear roll down his cheek from outside the lavish home, but also explained that it was raining so it was likely just a droplet conveniently placed. --- The Rumvalian Duchess Acelina Litvinova left nothing to chance upon reentering her home territory as its new ruler, immediately summoning her feudal council together to plan a medium-sized cultural festival for all cultures under her rulership, a means to celebrate their differences. Her feudal council drafted the expected financial cost (3 wealth tokens) but warned that the Duchess to best plan the topics, events and speech, if any, very meticulously, lest one culture be offended over another. Secondly, the Duchess orders a travel and trade ban on individuals and goods going to and coming from Boss-Herze due to the Blight. --- Returning to Anglia once again, the recently reenobled House Harhold, headed by the Duke Hengest Harhold, sends scholars far and wide to all corners of Vlissinghelm and their borders to begin an in-depth search into what some leaked to be records of a historical claim to lands in Lokkenland. The Harhold feudal council alerts the Duke to the dire expense of such an action, as well as the fact that even with the expense of it, the likelihood of a claim might be very slim (5 wealth tokens). --- Back in the North, Grand Duke Cillian Gallagher puts a bar on agricultural imports from Blight-affected regions and begins establishing initiatives with his feudal council for the growth of fisheries and hunting lodges -- focusing on salting and other preservation techniques and sauce manufacturing which has a modicum of success, at least on the fishing side. The Grand Duke then proposed a meeting with his immediate neighbours relating to the Blight and to establish a trade bubble to reduce the effect of closing borders, however, a number of them declined due to pre-existing trade agreements and the fact the Blight had not made it North yet. The term trade bubble also confused them, as it appeared to the other Lords that House Gallagher had very few luxuries that could be inflated, but thankfully the Gallagher Grand Duke was able to bashfully explain that he meant trade bubble after the fact. The mix-up was amusing to the other Lords, with the local Lord of the province of Talán Bo jokingly asking if Gallagher Comedy Night had swung around already. --- The Duchess van Hal follows the trends set by other nobility and locks down her lands to all agricultural imports but this is corrected immediately by the Feudal Council who were unsure if the Duchess meant ALL agricultural imports, which would have harmed her lands more than helped, or just imports from Blighted provinces, and thus subtly tweaked the command to reflect the latter just to be on the safe side until the Duchess corrected the issue. The Duchess also ordered the construction of a shipyard on the coastline of the province of Veerle. Sending Bennet Clayon, Sibyllad Lykke, and Banard Lume, the team was able to accurately surmise the cost of such a shipyard at a moderate sum (2 wealth tokens) but noted that the size did matter and that the sum provided only accounts for what is typical of a single industrial shipyard. Fleet size would not increase significantly nor would trade. --- At the epicenter of the Blight, Grand Duchess Amelina Peirgarten takes action in shutting down all exports from Lorenthaus and preventing any and all imports from areas proven to be Blighted. While this would ensure the few fields that had yet to be infected in Lorenthaus would stand another day, the final locking down of exports on top of the 10% luxury tax that the Grand Duchess imposed on herself and the Empire caused great hardship to the people of House Peirgarten. The nobility were hardly affected save for the lack of sales. After all, the tax on sales were imposed at the time of purchase and paid by the purchaser, so many of the nobility saw this move as quite martyrish, especially given two-thirds of House Peirgarten’s exports were luxury items themselves, but the downside was that the common people struggled to make ends meet, calling on the Grand Duchess to help alleviate their hardship (3 wealth tokens). The Grand Duchess also instructs farmers yet to be affected to follow the instructions that the province of Salzenwald followed, to some degree of success. A few more fields were unfortunately sacrificed as tea became the newest product infected by this mysterious Blight. The Grand Duke Florian Peirgarten had resolved however to further the effort elsewhere. Alongside Mila Braunbecker and Ludwig Schusselfeld, the Grand Duke traveled back to Tirgenwald to continue talks between themselves and the independent Darkwald research council that had been established to look into what magics could have influenced the creation of the Blight. Upon arriving, the Grand Duke was met with a queer eye, his hair noticeably offending the council, with Grey Baron Richarr Tyrmont-Tirgunn outright refusing to allow the Grand Duke into their chambers, reasoning that anyone with half black and half white hair, facial hair, and eyebrows clearly had some sort of instability, natural or otherwise. Instead, messages were carried between the chamber and the drawing-room within Castle Virgadulvlas by Ludwig Schusselfeld. It was here that the Grand Duke Peirgarten was informed by the Darkwalds that despite their extensive library on afflictions, this was something Void-related but certainly not something they had come across before. It had definitely come from Sendras, they assured, given that the continent was both a jungle of Void pollution and the circumstances seemed to line up perfectly. The Grand Duke then sent word of thanks and warned the Darkwalds of criminal elements that were purposefully spreading the Blight, asking for assistance which was declined. They were going to look into things themselves from hereon but did give Florian a source that would help guide him to people: allies of the Order, who would get him into the criminal underbelly in Marais. Once the usual formalities were over, Florian departed alongside Ludwig and Mila to meet with this contact who they were assured they’d find in a small hamlet on the border of Nerian. Once there, Florian was able to meet with the contact who concealed their name and informed the Grand Duke that entering the Black Market dealings as a noble was not on the table due to the risks, but they were able to give Florian a sample of the Blight, a vial of affected potato crop which had been taken from a field in Lorhaus, proving that the Blight was indeed being transferred through criminal means. When questioned as to why they left a note with Florian for him to read at his leisure before departing once more. --- Another new House to the Court scene in Regalia, House von Schwarzkrau or rather the headliner, Duke Howland von Schwarzkrau makes his name known with the preparation of a small military parade right through the capital of his region with special attention being paid to the Knights of the Duchy of Mortizberg. The parade proceeds as planned, no major fanfare or lavish ceremony, nothing majorly eventful, ending right at the Duke’s feudal hall where he met with his Feudal Council. There the Duke accepted ideas and petitions from his Feudal council and Knights with very few forthcoming as his region was doing relatively okay save for the oncoming Blight issues. Despite the lack of petitions, the Duke still went ahead and announced his plans to engage in an economic and urban development project that could rival the Citadel of Proagogi in Petrou lands, which naturally sparked major interest. The Feudal Council pre-emptively drew plans, estimating the starting cost of such a large project to be moderately expensive (5 wealth tokens). After the announcement, the attending guests were greeted with a sea of complementary fancy drinks and snacky-wackys, which they undoubtedly were thankful for after the long march in the capital. The announcement certainly raised excitement in the Duchy, as something of this magnitude, anything rivalling the Citadel of Proagogi, had not been attempted in New Regalian lands for some time, not since House Falkenreich’s giant scouting tower even. Needless to say, all eyes were on von Schwarzkrau for the next while. --- Back in the South, House de Azcoissia under the helm of the Grand Revain puts into place Blight legislation furthering the burn procedure in Miaquitillus and helping slow the spread of the infection for now. Evidently, the procedure put in place by the now defunct Shattel Committee was indeed working, at least to stop the natural spread. Samples were also taken from the infected fields before they were burnt so that the Chancellor’s own people could begin testing the substance. The samples were then experimented on by scholars from Rosaria's School for the Magically Gifted, the primary campus for the de Azcoissia Magic School in the South who would use their voidal expertise to try and discover the exact nature of the Blight. Both Imira al-Qahtani and Gehrman Gahan helped head the investigation, noting that the usual means of reversing curses would not work, though one particular scholar utilising exorcism 2 was able to dispel some of the black mold for a few moments, causing the sample to dissolve into a mess of black sludge before something caused it to return to its former shape. They deduced similar to what the Shattel committee had -- that this was a rare mixture of alchemy, fungal infection and magic and that one would have to dispel all three simultaneously to remove the effect. Next, the last of the magical academy offshoot campuses is fully constructed in Costa Marca with little to no issue as a trio of “brutes”, Amir, Mae and Harlow kept any would be criminals from interfering with construction. A few attempts were made at theft but the perpetrators were captured and swiftly tossed in a prison cell thanks to the efforts of the three. Attempts were made by Grand Duchess Violante de Azcoissia to purchase the province of Ragulia from the Plascentia Duchy to no avail. The Duke of the Region refused to outright sell the province but did offer a trade of Ragulia for the province of Costa Marca -- a deal that was returned to Madelyn by Violante for consideration. Attempts were made by the Lord Chancellor to inquire and participate in the project that the Calderliga Union had begun on one of their small offshoot islands months before, but she ultimately learned that the project had been abandoned, with the Calderliga Union Council claiming that they themselves had no idea what the project was and no recollection of them having signed off on it. Strange. Lastly, the de Azcoissia fleet is returned home with an inquiry being made as to how costly the construction of various shipyards and ship creation would be to up the family to the level of other naval families. The Feudal Council put their best estimate to the cost, which was still quite significant (12 wealth tokens). --- The recent legislative changes within the now defunct Regalian Noble Assembly had a multitude of effects on the Archipelago's internal regions, primarily in the New Regalian lands. On notification that the Assembly had ratified decrees completely wiping the New Regalian Wirtemcallishgebot and Griffgebot laws from the local law books, multiple prestigious military academies implemented a new recruitment ruling that, yes, permitted women into the academy alongside men but required all prospect applicants to acquire a ‘certificate of good conduct’ from their local bureaucracy. The process of getting one was rather simple however it soon became blatantly obvious that the only individuals who were actually seemingly able to acquire these certificates were male, effectively nullifying the assembly's proposal entirely. Secondly, various Houses protested the revocation of the Wirtemcallishgebot inheritance laws by solidifying their internal inheritance procedures within their families, as was permitted by law, to only allow male inheritors but allowing their women to inherit if there is no viable male to the second degree of relation. Additionally, candles depicting an Ithanian woman not too unlike the Grand Duchess Milena Cadieux became a hit within New Regalian regions with some being lit and left on roadsides and street columns just for the sake of melting and burning out. All other legislative changes had very minimal if any retaliation. The Blight situation, despite the countermeasures put in place, continued to spread at a horrendously fast pace. Dozens of provinces reported having the Blight found amongst their crops, with some infected produce having previously been unreported -- the likes of tea, wheat, barley, marrow fruits such as pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini and surprisingly, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Sadly, news came about at dawn on the 30th of July that the first Blighted field of wheat had been discovered upon the Crown Isle and was very swiftly spreading, having nearly wiped out the entire crop across from the old Dragon statue and Harhold estate. Multiple smaller gardens had also been hit, with root vegetables and other produce previously discovered to be susceptible having been compromised. At this rate, it was only a matter of time before the infection hit the grain stores in Anglia, and with Winter quickly approaching, lives were now on the line. Other than that, there was very little in the way of strange happenings, all except some vague reports that a woman, the wife of a relatively well loved farmer, in the province of Pester had been killed by her husband for attempting to attack him. The farmer noted his wife having black sores and whited eyes, attacking like a ferocious beast before being stabbed through the heart. Once authorities arrived however, the wife’s supposed body was nowhere to be found. Below is a map of newly infected/pre-existing provinces. All provinces darker in colour are now infected.