The Rumvalian Lords hear the word that the Duchess Acelina had passed the Rumvalian Quarantining laws, blocking the travel of crops in and out of all Litvinova Blight-affected provinces. Like in other areas, this helps reduce the natural spread of the Blight into other Litvinova-owned regions but worry remains as to whether it would be effective enough. Next, the Duchess throws a relatively large festival in the streets of Rumvalia complete with street performers, puppet shows, and a horse race to wrap up the event as its grand finale. Naturally, the horse racing was to appease all the different cultures of the Litvinova region as it was a pastime that each of them shared similarly. Dishes are prepared for the lords of each region with a highlight dish for each culture, with the message being cooperation and joint celebration but a tenseness between the cultures is noted nonetheless. After all, many of them were still reeling from the Slumberwood controversy just months prior. Ladies Aurora and Katarina Litvinvova help with mingling and creating a healthy social environment but it’s obvious that none present want to kick up too much of a fuss. If anything, the air signaled to the two that they were there to scope the Litvinova family out to verify the family’s leadership capabilities. Overall, the festivities are appreciated but gave off surefire signals that there was a testing period for the Litvinova family to see about their readiness to rule. The festival increases the popularity of House Litvinova amongst the Anians, Szabadok, and Byala cultures, but sets the family back a small fortune (3 Wealth Tokens.) --- Back in the North, the Matriarch of the Sorenvik family, Kaya, pays the last needed amount of funds (2 Wealth Tokens) to complete the construction of a Skorda training area with the Union of Air iconography in Irvainvik. This pleases the military folk of the region. Next, the Duchess moves a token force of the Sorenvik army to Garangerfjorda. The Feudal Council would not permit a large number to mobilize for non-combatant reasons. Once they arrive, they are ordered to dig trenches around any Blighted fields and burn them, causing some disgruntled feelings to the troops who expected to see combat but were instead being used as a makeshift workforce. Kaya then speaks with representatives of the Fridurfolk and while acknowledging their pacifism, explains others will not care, citing Harhold attacking Viduggla villages and the slaughter that came from it. The Fridurfolk again respond that Harhold did not attack the Fridurfolk and undoubtedly no one would because of their aversion to war, as anyone attacking the Fridurfolk would be seen as the ultimate aggressors, attacking innocents who won't fight back. By accepting the Duchess’s offer to allow garrisons into the region or build fortifications on their borders, that social contract with the rest of the archipelago would no longer apply, threatening their entire way of life. They declined any further negotiations, requesting that the Duchess remove troops before the Fridurfolk way of life was any more threatened. The strikes against the Sorenvik family continue amongst the Fridurfolk community, with some elders taking a vow not to eat until all troops are removed from their region. They do, however, state they’d handle it themselves if they were invaded. Lastly, House Sorenvik invests another lump sum of their funding (2 Wealth Tokens) into upkeeping and supplying the existing Helbolwen in the region, supporting the employment of new caretakers and faithful. Some prayers are also delivered for the faithful and Valsung to use at their leisure, authored by the Archduchess Sivrid Sorenvik to be chanted to help urge the Blight not to spread to their villages. Thus far, the religious zeal has a large effect on the surrounding Sorenvik provinces, with many of the faithful in Mittinpetterberg and Peltola who are publicly heard heralding the Archduchess and urging the local lords to sway to Sorenvik favor. --- Elsewhere in the Archipelago, House Castley requests mutual military access for each other’s armies from the rulers of Narlas but are denied on the reason that the last time Duke Theopold was allowed anywhere near combat, he nearly caused a disaster in Genevaud. Thus, the request is denied outright. Next, House Castley produces a document with very basic information outlining an alleged claim to the lands of Lutton, Potcaste, and Postbridge. The document provided that Gerold Castley, the current Duke's great great grandfather, was once the ruler of these lands and as an alleged vassal to his grandfather, Lutton was also rightfully Castley’s to rule. The document was put under immediate scrutiny by the Feudal Council but the information was soon widespread. The rulers of Lutton, Potcaste, and Postridge deny outright that a Castley ever owned those provinces, easily identifiable by Imperial records, and that those provinces have in the last 150 years been ruled over by multiple families--Black, Harhold, and Reinard, but can all trace even older rulership to the Rourke Barons. Nevertheless, the Feudal Council gives Theopold a small army but any public acknowledgment of a casus belli of reclamation is completely dismissed. The Duke then denies entry of all Blight infectable goods into his provinces, blocking off trade to practically all foodstuffs. What's more, Theopold orders the quarantining in Cloisterburgh with Castley troops utilised to enforce the quarantine. Theopold leads these men alongside Elmo Broddal. Some samples are taken of the Blight and are investigated by Celeste Venphine, Aila Leoxalim, and Constanzo dei Fierdo. Nothing new is discovered and they’re recommended to seek out the Privy Minister to engage in testing with the Privy Ministry in Regalia. To help compensate with no influx of food, Castley inquires as to the cost of upkeeping the border restrictions which is estimated to be massive (4 Wealth Tokens per progression.) --- Returning up North, Duke Ardige Viduggla arrives in his home territory and makes a few inquiries to his feudal council relating to the aberrancy in the region, most notably the actual forms of aberrancy that is suspected to be widespread. The answer was simple: The vast majority were suspected to be Undead in the Helbolwens, with Cahal being common in the mountainous areas and sorcerers otherwise expected to be abundant. After all, the occult became super integrated into northern society as magic wasn't illegal and most saw it as a gift from the Gods. Next, Ardige Viduggla passes through a policy barring the importation of agricultural goods from any Blight-infested regions of the Archipelago to protect the agriculture of his lands. Whether the Viduggla meant provinces or regions, in general, was up for much-heated debate, as the policy resulted in almost an 80% reduction in the number of edible goods coming into the Viduggla territory. Then the Duke inquired as to the funding required to better local fishing economies in Gamlevik and Rypefjord, with the answer being relatively expensive (2 Wealth Tokens) without running the risk of overfishing. Ardige recommends the Duchies of Brorstad and Brensholmen to follow suit, which they do. Though they only outlawed produce from Blighted provinces, not regions. Lastly, Ardige plans a Traldi festival for the population of Ølefjord. The Feudal Council estimates the cost of holding this event to be moderate (1 Wealth Token). --- Meanwhile, in the von Schwarzkrau holdings, the Grand Duke who had come to realize the severity of the Blight in the archipelago, implemented a number of policies to help tackle the epidemic. Firstly, all farms in provinces infested with the Blight would be checked regularly for signs of infection with any fields affected being burnt. Additionally, storehouses would undergo routine checks for the Blight. Secondly, all crops entering the von Schwarzkrau holdings would be contacted and checked for signs of the Blight. Local municipal guard forces were put on high alert for individuals carrying Blight vials and a number of arrests with evidence were made. Most were foreigners with few legitimate reasons, mostly all Daen--though a number of non-Daen were also arrested--each with criminal records in Girobalda. All were placed in prison under the interrogation of Reynald von Schwarzkrau. Reynaud then surveyed the lands with the guards to help stalwartly enforce the new policies with great effect. Lastly, an announcement related to the “project” the Grand Duke promised was to be put on hold until after the Blight had been pushed back. --- Back in the South, the Grand Revain Madelyne de Azcoissia, in preparation for mass Blight treatment, gives the order to the various magical academies in her region to begin greatly increasing the number of lessons to pupils in mastering the Exorcism 2 spell. The Daens begin rapidly training up as many pupils as possible in this particular spell. Oversight is then enacted on Blighted provinces and their neighbouring provinces, with new protections and checkups, added on farmers and workers for Blight infection with disastrous findings (See Blight section). The province trade with the Plascentia Duchy is politely declined and business returns as normal in the provinces the trade had related to. Lastly, Madelyne herself oversees the final financial arrangements for a mass spending spree on naval vessels, the construction of military dockyards, and the hiring of crews (12 Wealth Tokens). Individuals Maelstrom Keppkuula, Harlow Ketch, and Amir Razavi are left to marvel at where once barren, stretches of coastline in the de Azcoissia lands bloom with life and day to day work as half a dozen major dockyards are completed and fleets begin to depart sporting the de Azcoissia flags. --- House Wulfmacht follows the Blight policies set in place in other regions and follows the guidelines set by the now-defunct Blight Committee. Imports are banned from infected provinces and additionally if more than 50% of the provinces in any region are known to be infected, all agricultural goods from that region are banned, save for Anglian regions. This proves to be a very smart tactic as Wulfmacht suffers no shortage of food whilst also keeping the Blight at bay, at least in the usual transitory sense. Franz Wulfmacht and Edelgard Wulfmacht help implement counter-espionage campaigns to weed out ne'er do wells who might be artificially spreading the Blight and, like von Schwarzkrau, manage to capture a couple of individuals from neighbouring regions importing Blight samples on the Black Market. Local Guard forces are put on high alert. Next, House Wulfmacht inquired with their feudal council about the cost of constructing more grain silos, which are valued at a moderate amount of wealth (2 Wealth Tokens). They are advised that with Anglia now granting full authority to the State Council to dispense excess grain, grain silos would not be required. A cost of a nominal sum (1 Wealth Token) was given to training local levy and guard forces in eyeing suspicious activity to help counter surface-level espionage attempts that the underworld of the archipelago had been utilising. Lastly, Wilhem Wulfmacht meets with the Lords of Calemberg, paying the necessary money (2 Wealth Tokens) to entice their participation in a Diet of the New Regalian Cultures. Notably, even Ulric Typhonus attends to listen to Wilhelm’s speech about a ‘Collective Destiny’ amongst the New Regalians, a coalition almost with mutual assistance, and given the pressures by other cultures and the Regalian State in recent months to whittle away the conservative values of the region, they elect Wilhelm Wulfmacht to be their primary representative for the entire New Regalian region, granting him the flavor ceremonious title of ‘Hauptvertreter’ with the understanding that he would represent their interests, culture, and zeal both among the other nobility, State Council and work toward changing the government’s stance on the recent liberalisation attempts on New Regalian lands. What's more, it's proposed by Ulric Typhonus that the Lord Wulfmacht begin to counter House Cadieux at court, viciously. --- House Bancroft funds a moderate amount of wealth (4 Wealth Tokens) into building shrines to Dragon Worship in Kleaster, Lonke, and Heerepolder which in turn entices vast swaths of new Dragon Worshippers in those regions. Gwenyth Zylmoira assists in designing the statues that are constructed, all depicting the Imperial Dragon sitting on all four legs with its wings curled, and room at the statue’s base for candles or tributes. Gwenyth even had the opportunity to interact with some of the populace, meeting with the local dukes personally and gain some good repertoire. Before ending diplomatic business for that week, the Grand Duke Jared Bancroft tours his own provinces one at a time and instructs the local lords to increase the presence of guard garrisons near the grain storages and wheat fields which of course they oblige. Anglia’s bread and butter, no pun intended, were its grain--needed for bread, and Vlissinghelm butter, so ensuring its protection was more than welcome. The cost was minuscule, as many of the new Dragon faithful and Kade loyalists took to arms to personally ensure the security of the fyrds. Some increased paranoia arose from some mumblings of the Bancroft that indicated that the Blight might jump to people eventually, but it's kept relatively under wraps. --- Finally, in Lorhauser, Amelina continues to urge the farmers within her lands to follow the defunct Shattel Blight Committee’s policies to help curb the spread of the Blight. Lessons are planned to be held to help the farmers better acquaint themselves with preserving and maintaining foods for the winter months, with Miss Caricia Vasaretto as their tutor, but the lessons do not go ahead due to... unforeseen circumstances that left the Duchess and Miss Caricia Vasaretto shaken (See Blight Section). The Duchess does, however, get time beforehand to pump wealth from House Howlester, Gallagher, and Mac Conall into her lands to help distribute food and other goods to the individuals most directly affected by the Blight. With ports reopening, this tides the Peirgarten by just long enough to return to economic stability. Lastly, the Duchess addresses the Lorhaus Vinters who had indicated their desire to move to Cadieux lands. Her rhetoric was incredibly strong, arguing that the luxury tax would affect them there too, that the Duchess had already spontaneously burned vineyards of many of the longstanding families, thus posing a risk to their businesses whilst flaunting her own wealth via expensive clothing and jewels in their faces when visiting them, and lastly, that ports had reopened so business was returning to normal. The major add-on point was that with the destruction of Havensreach, a huge number of Cadieux tradelines were now defunct and that the new trade lines with other houses such as Mac Conall would be more stable. This results in the Vinters expressing their support for Peirgarten and remaining steadfast where they were. Duke Florian du Poncairé spends a portion of his wealth (2 Wealth Tokens) on a large propaganda campaign highlighting himself and House Peirgarten as martyrs during the entire Blight epidemic, with Rodrigo on his right and Amelina smaller on his right. Naturally, this gained a moderate amount of praise for Duke Rodrigo and Duchess Amelina but a much greater amount of sway for Florian du Poncairé of whom the citizens of Oeistermark, Lorenthaus, and Coutance saw as a hero for the efforts having been put into curbing the spread of yet another disaster plaguing the archipelago. While those efforts were rewarded, the Duke’s fortunes were about to crash. He gives an order for Angelica Howlester, Eric Daevaar, and Lucrece Peirgarten to begin looking into the criminal underbelly, particularly through contacts that Angelica and Lucrece had as part of the diplomacy corps. Both Lucrece and Angelica were sent to areas of interest in his lands to gain information, though only Lucrece returned with viable knowledge. A day passes before a note is delivered to House du Poncairé, House Peirgarten, and House Howlester that the Sovereign Prince of Gallovia’s cousin was in the custody of the ‘Däischter Schlaangen’, a Leutz-based gang that demanded the payment of a large amount of money for Angelica Howlester to be safely returned (5 Wealth Tokens). The Gallovian Ambassador Genevieve Howlester makes a public statement on the situation, dictating that, “Having received the demand for a ransom, House Howlester is not in the habit of negotiating with fiends who assault young women. Especially those who threaten the health and safety of not only their members but all good peoples of this realm. They demand the swift return of their kinswoman, unharmed and in good health, or action will be taken swiftly and without mercy shown to anyone who has not thus demonstrated it to us.” This is, however, unneeded, as Eric had been making his way through the various gangs in the region and had learned the whereabouts of where Angelica was being kept and passed that information onto Duke Rodrigo Peirgarten, who had planned to perform a sting operation to capture the head of one of the gangs. Coincidence and dumb luck just so happened to ensure that the exact gang hideout the Duke was about to attack was the very one Angelica was being kept at. The Duke stormed the area before giving the Däischter Schlaangen time to react, surprise being his ally. He alongside Rafael Carano, Nazareth, Anneke van Heeresveen, Asteria Lark, Llaevvryn Beahandros, and Fritjof Ulfrson attack their hideaway warehouse from the back, capturing a couple of grunts and killing a handful of henchmen who could not be subdued. Angelica was untied from a post, somewhat worse for wear but with no visible harm having come to her. The two grunts were brought back to Elane. --- In the region ruled by the Grand Duke Garth Rodsvar, the Grand Duke makes his first legislative changes to the area by placing a ban on all agricultural imports from provinces known to harbour the Blight. What's more, the Grand Duke sends words to the Duchies, Tribes and Petty Princedoms of the North to encourage them to do the same but at this point most if not all regions have placed into effect their own measures. Secondly, Frejnir Rodsvar and a small conglomerate of bodyguards patrol the borders of Sterke-berg and Zastorrik, ordering the burning of any crop fields on Rodsvars side a mi;e in from the border as a pre-emptive measure to combat any affected crops, though none show themselves yet despite reports that the Blight had hit Zastorrik. Still, despite annoying a great many farmers (or at least those who managed to produce agricultural crops) the pre-emptive measure proved fruitful in stopping the spread into Rodsvar lands but did lose the Grand Duke some favor with the commonfolk for no warning and no compensation. While fishing and hunting was recommended as an adequate substitute for the while, there are still concerns raised over the possibility of overfishing and overhunting, thus this would be a short term solution. The price of increasing the productivity of the fisheries and preservation of fish caught was nominal (1 wealth token). Lastly, Garth invites the local lords, significant figures and whatever architects they could muster to the Rodsvar lands for a night of merriment to better integrate the Grand Dukes return back to politics. The turnout was poor, and many lords refused to come with the onset of the Blight, raising significant concerns, especially when coupled with the rumors circulating that the Blight could affect people. Still, those that did come were met by Diplomats Edrick and Tove Rodsvar who saw to the visitors' needs. Two advisors were also present; Argo Dressal and Lenainn Macdrocharmadh who helped lend a few words to the proposition Garth had for the lords -- the revitalisation of the naval yards. A few of the attendees suggested starting small with minor shipping yards while others argued for one large shipyard off the western coast. The argument was that smaller shipyards over time reduce the risk of a disaster knocking out one shipyard and then completely hindering shipbuilding and repairs, while others stated that a one singular large shipyard would allow for higher productivity in the short term. The cost of either was the exact same, just with different pay off times (3 wealth tokens.) --- Lastly in Anglia, Duchess Haeddi van Hal addresses her people and implements the defunct Blight Committee policies to help curb the natural spread of the Blight. She follows the same procedure to Wulfmacht and benefits for the same reason. For the artificial spread, Franz Knispel and Gabrielle implement counter-espionage campaigns, though they themselves are unable to capture anyone in this turn. The Duchess checks in with her feudal council as to the cost of creating more grain silos (2 Wealth Tokens) but is told these would not be necessary with the State Council being charged with excess grain distribution. The cost of training more counter-espionage ground guards was similarly nominal (1 Wealth Token). Representatives from Eldringen were invited to observe the effects of the anti-Blight policies but politely declined as they had already implemented such themselves. --- The Blight With the Blight now setting in to be the most rapid spread of a disease of any kind in Regalian history, a number of new provinces report that fields of their crops had been infected. That said, more unsettling matters were about to unfold. A small ragtag group of concerned citizens composed of Lord Atum shel Morathes, Amable Mieliste, and Soron Shilanaer make for the province of Pester to investigate the story of the woman with black sores. When they arrive, they are quickly able to discuss the situation with the husband of the woman who disappeared. He describes his wife in more horrific detail. She appeared to have eyes of burning reddish gold with patches of pitch-black bruising over her body. From these bruises, he thought he saw small, writhing purple-streaked black tendrils that flailed about as she approached. She spoke like his wife for a time but the closer she came to him the more her voice distorted to something completely incomprehensible. Once she was within a few feet she lept at him but he was able to dodge and flee. She was not there when he returned with a guard force. The group returned to the house and set about investigating any leads into the woman’s whereabouts. They followed a few sets of footprints from the homestead--to no avail--before managing to pick up a trail from a small tear of her clothing that hung aimlessly from a thistle bush about a half a kilometer from the homestead. Zeroing in on new tracks, they came to a small cave but were immediately alerted to the sound of clambering from just outside. They noticed four individuals, a woman and three men. The woman was approaching a man who was wailing and trying to break free from the other two--both of which shared the same black bruises and goldish red eyes as the woman. It had to be the farmer's wife, Atum thought. The group tried to approach but were shell-shocked where they stood as tendrils escaped the bruises on the woman’s forearms, wrapping around the screaming male. They pierced into his body through his nostrils, mouth and ears -- gargling the only noises emanating in that forest before he showed signs of Blight infection. The group dared not intervene, returning back to Pester’s capital to report their findings. The local guard mobilised immediately, but this was no longer a localised issue. Across the Archipelago various large groups of Blight-infected individuals begin to run rampant, infecting others with black tendrils as the local guard and militias struggle to hold back the horde of incubated Blight-affected which quickly appeared to number in the thousands. There are moments of clarity noted, showing that in some capacity, the consciousness of the people affected was still there and that they were not completely taken over. The muffled pleas for help escaped but were again overtaken by distorted ramblings as the Blighted tried to take on more hosts. The same occurrences popped up in Peirgarten and de Azcoissia lands, with the Duchess and her friend Caricia Vasaretto only narrowly escaping infection themselves. This was no longer a normal Blight. This parasite was infecting people and more shockingly, was sentiently trying to infect others. Only time would tell how the archipelago would handle this crisis on top of the numerous others, but one thing was blatantly obvious. If nothing was done soon, this Sendrassian Plague would take over the Regalian Empire at its very heart. Thusly, all eyes are on the Privy Ministry as pressure rapidly builds on the Minister of the Privy to find the rumoured cure for this epidemic. Below is a map of Blighted provinces. Places that are currently experiencing Blighted crops are marked in red. The previous red provinces that are now green are being overrun with individuals affected by the Blight, becoming part of the parasitic horde. --- Flashpoints An astrology group in the province Grint notes a change in the cosmos, or so they allegedly claim. They state that they have learned new information relating to the Blight, the Sendrassian War, and know the future impacts of both. They offer their knowledge for 1 Wealth Token to noble families who take the risk in trusting them. The female-only criminal syndicate operating in Vixhall are rumoured to begin a large-scale heist on a major bank in one of the provinces there but for strategy reasons, do not disclose which province. They call for anyone looking to make some money under the table by assisting them in their criminal endeavor. A land dispute needs resolution between the Dukes of Krumvalia and Odoretz over the provinces of Salzenwald and Rundstede, with each claiming ownership over the other. The diplomatic issue causes a cold war between the two Duchies that could erupt at any moment, or be quelled with the potentiality of reward. The commonfolk are becoming more accepting of Jacobinism because the nobility keep hosting feasts, festivals, and parties while the risk of starvation is looming ever closer because of the Blight. Riots begin to break out in the provinces of Rypefjord in Viduggla territory, Hunneberge in Nordjhem territory and Morvinda in Litvinova lands. The people call for more support, hoping to spread the riots into other territories with looting sure to bear reward.