The Bollworm Affair
“It was all a game, and both of us lost.”
“I am still curious who won though.”
-from Jelani, a Thassali ambassador, and Nadal, an Apsaran ambassador
The Bollworm affair was a complicated political scandal involving the nations of Thassal, The Autumn Court, and The Syndicate. A noble in Thassal purchased a large amount of magebred cotton, supposedly immune to bollworms, from the Autumn Court at a steep price in order to compensate for a cotton shortage caused by a bollworm blight during the last harvesting season. The deal was brokered by a Syndicate merchant, and the shipment of magebred seeds was entrusted to a Syndicate vessel, facts that neither Thassali of Apsaran businessman are quick to forget in the aftermath of this scandal. .
The year of planting the magebred seeds, the cotton fell victim to bollworms again, enraging the Thassal court, who asked for the Autumn Court to compensate them on their loss. The Autumn Court refused, and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the seeds. At first Thassal increased tariffs on Autumn Court goods, and eventually a high-ranking cleric in Thassal decreed that magebred plants and animals were unfit for human consumption, effectively placing a ban on the Autumn Courts most important export, even to nations beyond Thassal. The Autumn Court believed this to be a politically rather than religiously motivated maneuver, and they started a trade war with Thassal, raising their own tariffs and seeking to cut into Thassals market share on crops by selling their own magebred versions to other nations at cheaper prices.This in turn led the Thassali to hire privateers to attack Autumn Court ships. The Thassali insisted that they only intended to attack ships until either they were repaid for the failed crops or they stole an amount that compensated for the failure. The Autumn Court replied by sending their own privateers against Thassali ships, which in total ensured that no cotton was exported at all from the western continent. The Syndicate profited greatly from this, as it made their holdings the largest cotton-producers on Ruengoethe.
Eventually, an entomologist revealed that the bollworms appeared to be magebred themselves, and were probably introduced intentionally into the cotton fields. This did little to quell the hostilities between Thassal and the Autumn Court at first, though it did raise suspicions that a third party may have been involved in the whole scandal.
After a year and a half of trade war and privateering, the two nations signed a mutually beneficial treaty that actually opened up trade between the two powerful nations further than it had been before the Bollworm Affair. It has never been discovered who create or introduced the bollworms.