A Blight in Miaren
Gwynneth sprinted out of the steading with the sound of her sister's pained shouting in her ears. The contractions were coming hard and strong now. It would not be much longer. Gwynneth had felt distinctly uncomfortable standing around and not knowing what to do.
Then the marrowort had worn off, and no longer shielded Caedyyfryn from the pain. Gwynneth had been almost laughably grateful to be sent running to fetch more marrowort. It was useful and purposeful.
Rushing through the mud, Gwynneth stopped short at the herb garden and plucked the pale plant. She was about to turn and sprint back when something caught her eye. She paused reached out and turned over another pale marrowort leaf. There, beneath the leaf was soft, white, hairy fungus.
Gwynneth cursed aloud, but then her sister's cries grabbed her attention back again. Biting her lip, Gwynneth ran back to the house. One challenge at a time.
Navarr walking the trods of Miaren have reported sudden blights of Armillaria. Armillaria is a parasitic fungus that is suspected to have been altered by exposure to the Realm of Spring. Its has a white and furry appearance and it aggressively attacks herbs, specifically Marrowort. A blight of Armillaria fungus can significantly harm the productivity of herb gardens.
Although deadly to herbs, Armilliaria fungus is a natural medicinal for livestock and it can promote health, fertility and wellbeing that increases the productivity of farms. Farmers will be able to benefit from this informally, however a coordinated effort can be arranged through the Senate could promote farm productivity more aggressively.
Armillaria fungus is fairly fragile, and will last only about three months and cannot be easily transported long distances. Consequently, its effects will not last beyond the Summer Solstice, and are unlikely to extend beyond territories adjacent to Miaren.
Interestingly, Armillaria fungus does not attack trees or forests. Scholars discovered that worldblood - known as Ambergelt - is toxic to it. This discovery has meant that it is possible to extract worldblood and use it against Armillaria. The utilisation of magical resources in this way requires the support of the Conclave.
Based on past experience, the civil service estimates that if no action is taken then herb gardens in Miaren will produce less Marrowort but farms will benefit from the medicinal properties of the fungus. In the past, the Empire has responded to similar situations in the following ways:
- The Senate can pass a motion to harvest the Armillaria fungus specifically to capitalise on the benefit to livestock. For a disbursement of 9 Thrones the impact on herb gardens would be reduced, and the benefit to farms would be increased.
- The Senate could alternative pass a motion to deliberately infect a single neighbouring territory to Miaren with Armillaria spores. For a disbursement of 4 Thrones a territory adjacent to Miaren could be affected by the fungus in the same way that Miaren is. There is no limit on the number of territories that could be infected in this manner.
- The Conclave could declare a Gambit of 19 ambergelt per affected territory to use that ambergelt to kill the fungus. This would eliminate the impact, both good and ill. Multiple territories could be named in a single Gambit but would require the necessary multiples of ambergelt. In all cases, the Gambit would need to name a person for collecting and distributing the ambergelt who would ensure it is in their inventory at the end of the summit and then notify the civil service between summits of their intentions.
- It has been hypothesised that if the Empire can attract its attention then Llofir, Eternal of Spring known as the Rotlord or Lady of Spores, could influence Armillaria fungus for good or ill. What Llofir would want for its intervention, if it could intervene, is unknown.
- Use of the ritual Ruthless Vigilance, Healthy Crop would offset the impact of the fungus for an individual herb garden, whilst improving the production of other types of herb.
The above represent tried and tested responses to potential Armillaria blight. Other options can be put to the civil service for consideration, and costing, via the usual means.
-  -2 marrowort per herb garden in affected territory
-  +30 rings to farms in affected territory
-  Marrowort penalty reduced to -1 per herb garden
-  Benefit to affected farms increased to +50 rings
-  No loss to marrowort, no benefit to farms