"I'm still not sure I follow you," said Marion i Riqueza. As soon as she'd spoken she regretted her apologetic tone, and stood up a little straighter. "Could you explain it again, please," she said with a little more authority.

The Marcher frowned. He continued to absently fiddle with the three smooth rocks he seemed to have in his hand whenever he tried to explain anything to her. She found their constant motion and the barely audible sound of them grinding each other smooth a little distracting, which did not help her follow his intricate explanation.

"Ah'm not sure ah can put it any easier," he said slowly. "If'n it's a corruption o't'flows then w'could build shut dolmens round t'area but it'd run t'risk o'bein' lack a dam, y'see? Wit Winter magic bein' lack watter. But if'n we could build t'dolmen over t'actual regio, closed lack, it'd stem t'flow completely. Lack stickin' a stick in a hold in a dam instead. Aye?"

"You're saying then that if we try to contain it but it's drawing power from t'Winter - from the Winter realm - then a barrier will only work for so long before the power starts to wash over the top and it starts spreading again? Wheras if it is drawing power from the Winter realm then closing the regio at the center will cut it off.

The Marcher nodded enthusiastically, a broad smile on his narrow face.

"Aye, but if'n 't'isn't 'bout t'regio, an' t'regio's jus' a sympton lack, then t'd do no good t'focus on't dolmen at all! Best case, t'd just slow it if'n y'cut off't flow from t'Winter realm, cause I've no doubt t'flow o'Winter from t'realm is speedin' it up. Can't see why it wouldn't. Now on'tother hand, if'n we can work out how't's spreadin', w'could mebbe lay down a ring'o'liths round it, focus t'magic, an' move it elsewhere. Somewhere it'd do some good. Mebbe dessicate a couple swamps, mebbe? Assumin' we've got enough granite, lack, an' we'd line up wit'chain an' t'floater."

He showed her his diagram again, which would have been a lot more useful if he hadn't drawn it in charcoal and then sweated on it while trying to explain it.

"Y'see?" he asked hopefully.

"Not... entirely," said Maria. The Marcher's face fell, and she felt a twinge of guilt as if it was her fault she couldn't entirely get past his thick accent to understand the complex arcane theory he was trying to explain. "So how will you tell whether the stones will help?"

The Marcher's face lit up.

"Why, we'd need t'go t'regio an' I'd need t'see how 't'interacts wi'rocks! No point tryin' t'guess, not when t'whole grasslands is at stake, aye?"

On that, at least, they could agree. When there was a chance that the entire Great Grasslands - or worse - might be swallowed by the blight, there was no way Maria or any of the hakima were going to rely on guesswork.
Thirsty blight.png
The terrible desertification of the Great Grasses is contained, but with the monsters that propagate it gaining in power, there's no way to be sure how long that containment will last.


The strange blight that has struck the Great Grasses at the heart of Madruga remains a threat. The Silver Chalice identified through their recent investigations that the blight was borne by, and channelled through, strange creatures known as Dry Patricians – so called because most of the ones that have been observed wear cowled robes not unlike those worn by the ancient ancestors of the Highborn and, of course, the Freeborn (and several of the League cities as well of course).

These Navigators of the Wastes possess intelligence, though the investigations of the Chalice has revealed they do not seem to be truly alive, nor actually dead, nor really anything in between. They don't appear to be unliving, either, and seem to be more akin to the ushabti of Urizen, creatures that appear to live but are closer in nature to enchanted magical objects. Whatever their intent - and so far this has been difficult to divine other than “to consume all the moisture of the Great Grasses” - they have at their disposal the power of many “Dry Ones” or “Parched” - those who have fallen in the blight and succumbed to its wasting nature. What is worse, as previously observed, some of the Parched appear to be transforming into Dry Patricians. This appears to be a process that occurs as the last lingering stirrings of unlife leaves the dead body, and what was a person becomes only another object which acts as a node of the blight’s influence.

Not A Drop To Drink

  • The wasting blight continues to pose a terrible threat
  • Regrow the Lands Heart should restrict the effects to the Great Grasses, if it was cast every season or made permanent with ilium

The blight has so far been contained by the use of the Spring ritual Regrow the Land's Heart, which has been laid across Madruga twice so far. It regenerates the grasses at the edge of the blight, preventing it from spreading and preserving the Empire’s control of the region, but it does not seem potent enough to actually weaken or erase the blight.

Unfortunately, the Silver Chalice’s efforts at enacting their plan to destroy a Dry Patrician have thus far proven fruitless, and the gift of Ossegrahn spent (although it's likely that Lord Rain could be prevailed upon to provide some more if a concrete plan to permanently deal with the blight were presented). As such, no progress has been made in fighting the actual heart of the issue. As more and more Parched convert into Dry Patricians, the pressure of Winter magic contained within the grasses build. The ability of Regrow the Land's Heart to contain the blight diminishes. There are also a few concerned about what continuous casting of Regrow the Land’s Heart might do on the rest of Madruga, but for the moment the main concern is stopping the Great Grasses - or the territory itself - being transformed into a malignant desert.

Continuous casting of Regrow the Land’s Heart will contain the blight but only once it reached the borders of the Great Grasses. Based on the current rates of growth of the blight, observed effect of the ritual, and the current state of the stars and fate things will stabilise by the Winter Equinox 385YE where the Great Grasses region is no longer under Imperial control, transformed into a deadly desert, but the blight would be held at the borders of the region. In the fullness of time, every Parched will become a Dry Patrician, and with nothing left to drink save the continuously regenerating borderlands, will fall into dormancy. In theory ilium could be used to make the ritual permanent and remove any need to ensure the recasting. Given this would cost 120 rings of the rare star metal, this does not seem immediately feasible. It would buy time for a more permanent cure to be found, but it would mean a permanent and difficult to remove Spring magic enchantment laid over Madruga.

On the other hand it would remove the possibility that a season passes without the ritual being cast. If that were to happen, all the pent up Winter magic would be unleashed in a powerful burst. Not only would the Great Grasses be lost, it is likely the desertification would spread across the entire territory - including to the populous city of Siroc, and the prosperous towns of Cazar, Qatar, and Trajadoz. It might even, potentially, stretch beyond Madruga.

Immediate Opportunities

Some Freeborn have taken to muttering that this is the Imperial version of the vallorn that destroyed Terunael and that this is the beginning of the end for the Empire - but those people are broadly dismissed as little more than doomsayers. There are worrying reports that a powerful Winter regio has formed at the previous site of the estate of the Aldea di Tutamen, where the blight began - and it is drawing the Dry Patricians towards it.

Fundamentally: everyone agrees that it would be better to actually deal with the problem. Or at least that somebody should. Happily, the Sentinel Gate provides.

There will be three conjunctions into the blight during the Summer Solstice. Each of them will provide different opportunities to advance the Empire’s understanding of the problem and accelerate the search for a permanent solution. Reports back from previous excursions into the blight suggest that extreme dehydration bordering on an inhuman desire to consume the bodily fluids of others can be a side effect of exposure to the blight.

An Emerald Tomb (Conjunction)

  • A living person has been spotted in the blight
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 17:45 on Saturday to the Shore of the Emerald Sea, Great Grasses, Madruga
  • The Champion of Loyalty is responsible for recovering the individual

According to a few witnesses, there is someone alive in the blight. They have somehow survived the terrible desiccating curse without succumbing to it. The few sightings of this person say they are dressed in the style of a Highborn magister. It is believed that they are a living member of the “Aldea di Tutamen” family, although the Freeborn and Highborn egregores are certain that there are no citizens of their nation within the blight. If they are a still-living member of the family, perhaps they can answer some questions about what has happened. A small group of unconquered hailing from Syrene have been asking questions about the family over the last few months. They presume a connection between the Freeborn family and the Tutamen, a patrician family of old Highguard before the revelation. It had been assumed they died out during the civil war, but it appears some may have survived and gone into exile in what is now the Brass Coast. They seem very keen to talk to anyone who can confirm this for sure.

The mission here is simple. The small group of unconquered have made a request of the Champion of Loyalty to journey into the blight, find this living individual, and either conduct an interrogation in situ or – and this seems quite likely to be necessary – extract them back through the gate for questioning. As this is primarily a magical matter, no crime has yet provably been committed: but it is quite likely the magistrates will take an interest in events all the same. Indeed, Magistrate Tuomisbarn has noted that this individual is probably legally a foreigner: and therefore protected by Imperial law. Heroes of the Empire should conduct themselves accordingly.

If this individual is not bonded to any Egregore, then The Cuckoo's Egg would be needed to retrieve them back through the gate. They will need to be willing but given their current location, this may not be so hard to achieve. There will almost certainly be at least one Dry Patrician present in the area, and a number of Parched. While the objective of this mission is not specifically to destroy these creatures, if the heroes of the Empire plan to do so, they should bring the appropriate ritual assistance. Given that this involves a direct request to the Champion of Loyalty it is the responsibility of the incumbent; Dagon, to recover the individual.

A Scorched Field (Conjunction)

  • Three scholars of the Unfettered Mind - field researchers rather than politically active magicians - each want a chance to examine the minor regio within the blight
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 18:15 on Saturday to the Withered Meadow, Great Grasses, Madruga
  • Eliza, the incumbent Grandmaster of the Unfettered Mind is responsible for determining which scholars will go and who will protect them from the horrors of the blight

The hakima of Madruga have uncovered a minor regio tied to the Winter realm that has formed within the blight. Limited observation suggests that the place is attracting the Dry Patricians and the Parched, especially those Parched who are on the verge of transforming into Dry Patricians. So far the opportunity to observe the regio has been limited, but there may be a chance for closer examination.

Following in the wake of their Silver Chalice colleagues, several scholars of the Unfettered Mind have volunteered to accompany an expedition into the blight to help assess the situation. If they can be taken to the regio and protected, each of these scholars can provide their own unique perspective. They will spend some time making observations and measurement of the phenomena and forces at play, and will be prepared to submit a proposal for the consideration of the Empire’s magicians within a season or so. Obviously, they will not be able to provide advice if they are dead. They are good at field work, and studying magical phenomena, and significantly less good at defending themselves. Each of the scholars has their own theories, and their own experiments to perform.

  • The first scholar is Barti Dourfen, a Marcher from a proud tradition of Bregas Landskeepers. They have a particular interest in Winter magic, especially its effects of the land itself - and the ways in which this can be positive if properly channelled. He is interested in the possibility of using properly made standing stones to contain the magic of the blight permanently, or perhaps even funnel it elsewhere within the Empire to provide beneficial effects. He wishes to travel to the regio and observe the effects on some “test rocks” as a proof of concept, ideally with the aid of some other Landskeepers: someone who is prepared to watch over them at least.
  • The second scholar is Frostbiter Grik. Grik is a member of the small Frostbiter legion, who ordinarily fight with the Winter Sun as full-time soldiers. Grik is a shaman, and one of their ancestors was the slave of a powerful Thule warlock who experimented extensively with the power of Winter magic to blight and sap the land. Unfortunately, this ancestor’s voice has of late fallen silent: Grik anticipates that by placing themself under the stress of an excursion into the blight at the heart of this nascent regio, they will rekindle their ancestor’s voice and provide them with the perfect opportunity to opine on ancient Thule magics. Obviously, they would prefer to do this alongside their fellow Frostbiters, but the rest of their comrades are recovering from a season of fighting in the Barrens. As such, they look to their fellow Imperial orcs at Anvil to provide them with aid.
  • The third scholar is Merry Songbird’s Passing, a Navarri vate who, like many in her nation, specialises in an understanding of the vallorn, but is a master of Winter lore rather than Spring lore. Her time in the Unfettered Mind has been marked with much theorising and long (mostly unread) treatises on the potential for “Vallorn of a different season”. Obviously the blight is not the vallorn, but it probably is, maybe, quite like the vallorn (possibly), albeit fuelled by Winter magic rather than Spring. Merry wants to view it for herself, close up, at this Winter Regio. The Navarr have an interest in the power of the Dance of Navarr and Thorn to sap the strength of the vallorn… if that understanding could be leveraged to assist with magical problems fundamentally different in nature, that would be very interesting indeed. Obviously, Merry would like some fellow Navarr with her to help.

Analysis of the conjunction of the Sentinel Gate determines that not more than 25 people may make use of it. There are three scholars who are each hoping to be one of those people, and appealing to their own nation for support in surviving the rigours of the blight. In theory they could all go - but an expedition with divided purposes may be too weak to survive the threat posed by the Dry Patricians and the Parched that frequent the regio.

Responsibility for this expedition is on the incumbent Grandmaster of the Unfettered Mind; Eliza, who will need to make the final call on which scholars should be sent on the regio expedition, and who should be responsible for protecting them and bringing them back safely. The scholars are expected to being arriving at Anvil around quarter to five on Saturday evening: they will make their way to the Hub and expect to meet their Grandmaster there.

The Arid Battlefield (Conjunction)

  • There is a gathering of Dry Patricians moving towards a powerful Winter regio at the centre of the blight
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 18:45 on Saturday to the Estate of the Aldea di Tutamen, Great Grasses, Madruga
  • The Senator for Madruga is responsible for dealing with the threat

A third conjunction has been identified that leads to the Estate of the Aldea du Tutamen. Prognosticators have determined that it will allow Imperial heroes to intercept a force of Dry Patricians who are moving towards a powerful Winter regio, along with a group of Parched who may already be undergoing the transformation into the more powerful form of horror. It's unclear what they intend to do at the regio, but it seems a very poor idea to let them do it with no resistance.

The Dry Patricians must be prevented from doing whatever it is they intend to do at the Winter regio. Reports from those scouting the edge of the blight confirm that there will be at least four Dry Patricians present as well as a number of Parched. Each even individually is a formidable foe - as a whole they are a terrifying prospect. If at least four Dry Patricians can be successfully destroyed using Words of Ending (which will need to be cast at Magnitude 20 for each of them), divinations indicate that this will be sufficient to drive them off, at least for now.

There is an alternative, of course. There is a ritual in Imperial lore that could be employed here that would definitively stop the Dry Patrician’s efforts in the area: the rarely-cast Wind of Mundane Silence. If this was successfully cast on the powerful regio it would destroy it. Of course this would represent a mammoth undertaking; a magnitude 150 ritual, not being able to draw on the power of the regio. But even if the choice is made to not attempt to cast the Wind killing even a single Dry Patrician would be a success not yet achieved. Given that this involves a danger to the territory of Madruga it is the responsibility of the Senator; Chiara Zayden Riqueza, to deal with the threat.

Blighted Miasma
  • This encounter takes place deep within the blight and is affected by blighted miasma
  • The blighted miasma prevents anyone benefiting from potions that does not have the ability to overcome it
  • Anyone in a Blighted Miasma area is affected by a roleplaying effect: "You feel horrifically thirsty to the point that it is hard to focus on anything else" unless they have some way to overcome it

The miasma prevents anyone from benefiting from any potions anyone exposed to it who does not have the ability to overcome it. The easiest method to overcome the miasma is to receive an anointing, but particularly heroic individuals, or those in possession of certain enchantments or magic items will also be able to counteract the effect.

In addition, those of the draughir lineage, and those who have been enchanted to share their ability to gain sustenance from carrion do not suffer from this effect.