Vol. VI, Iss. 2—Published at the Institute of War on 2 June, 27 CLE
This issue of the Herald, from the Insurrection arc, is based significantly upon Lore Event I (link to GDoc with full resolution details; see also the event page). After that event, Instability is very high, at 5 out of 8, which means a heightened chance that both factions’ plans will be disrupted. This is mainly the result of both possible disasters, the refinery explosion and the revolt, taking place. Balance of Power was roughly tied between the two factions going into the event (though with Noxus somewhat in the lead), but Noxus had a significant advantage from the Featured Matches.
In the event, Noxus chose the Dominate option (brutal suppression of rebels), and achieved a Control of 5 out of a possible 6, though how long it will be able to maintain this level given high Instability is anyone’s guess. Zaun, meanwhile, chose Convert (try to win over Qa’hharians with “nicer” treatment), but failed and was taken advantage of. Its Control is 2 out of 6, largely because it was able to attack Noxus for its violent crackdown.
EXPLOSION SPARKS NEW REVOLT IN QA’HHAR
The New Herald is indeed a work of progress, and we would enjoy some questions and answers to facilitate engagement with our audience. For this reason, this section will be reserved for Letters to the Editor. I will do my best to publish your (succinct) contributions and clarify any questions that may arise.
Yurstin “thestealthgerbil” Yudling, Acolyte Summoner
“Breathe Better” Initiative Backfires; Chem-Barons Blast Council Of Zaun
by Agatha Everleigh
Zaun’s attempt to win over Qa’hhar’s population with gentler corporate policies on drug pricing and pollution has faltered, leaving its chem-barons short on profits and short on patience with President Magnus Dunderson.
On May 30, under intense pressure from the Council of Zaun, megacorporations Zasho Brands (makers of Spirox and ThaumaKola) and Zafion Industries (producers of hextech and refined pyrikhos) signed on to President Magnus Dunderson’s “Breathe Better” initiative. Under the terms of the agreement, Zasho significantly reduced the price of Spirox, a medication which alleviates the symptoms of pyrikhos pollution, and Zafion agreed to both reduce total refinery output and implement cleaner technologies that take advantage of cutting-edge “elemental hextech” theory developed after intensive studies of the Solar Codex, an ancient Shuriman spellbook retrieved by Xerath from a dimensional rift and given to Zaunite researchers during the Hextech Revolution.
The deal initially met with cautious optimism in Qa’hhar. Spirox, a medication which counteracts the effects of pollution from Zaun’s pyrikhos refineries, has become a vital commodity in Qa’hhar. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, the bulk of the pollution from these refineries seems to be drawn primarily to Qa’hhar, rather than to the nearby Shuriman city of Bel’Zhun. (Theories abound, some attributing this to mundane air currents, others pointing to more complex arcane phenomena, and still others to deliberate redirection of the pollution by Zaun.) Many Qa’hhar residents spend as much on Spirox as they do on food. Punitive Noxian taxes make the legal purchase of Spirox impossible for most, who must instead buy on the black market.
The first shipments of reduced-price Spirox, packaged with Breathe Better logos, arrived in Qa’hhar the very night the agreement was signed, and was taken under guard to contracted retailers. By the morning of May 31, however, most of these retailers reported that their entire stock had been stolen. This brought accusations that these “thefts” were in fact a ruse, and that the retailers had sold their Spirox at a markup to black market dealers who established themselves in Qa’hhar’s underworld by smuggling Spirox past Noxian blockades and tariff checkpoints. A report from Zaun’s Corporate Administration Bureau concluded that access to Spirox “has been at best marginally improved by the Breathe Better initiative.”
Lysandra Velnoth, CEO of Zasho, publicly blamed the Council of Zaun. At a shareholder’s meeting, Velnoth accused Zaunite political leadership of incompetence. “[President] Dunderson said he had made proper arrangements with Noxus and the Provisional Government to get that Spirox to Qa’hharians.” As to her prior estimates that reduced short-term profits would be outweighed by enlarged market share and improved relations with Qa’hhar, she acknowledged that those estimates “would obviously need to be revised,” but that she was “implementing an aggressive personnel restructuring strategy” to compensate, and that Zasho was preparing a lawsuit against the Council to recover its losses. But Velnoth had barely finished the meeting before Helma Oshlash, CEO of Zafion, announced it would initiate a hostile takeover of several of Zasho’s subsidiaries, whose market position had become vulnerable due to a loss of capital reserves.
“I think it’s time for Dunderson to step aside,” remarked Professor Stanwick Pididly of the Zaunite Techmaturgical Institute, who was speaking to a crowd of downsized Zasho employees outside the Council of Zaun’s offices, many waving “YOU’RE DONEDERSON” signs. “You don’t have to be a Professor of Hextech Bioengineering to see that this Spirox would end up with the black market dealers. And I’ve looked at this ‘elemental hextech’ Zafion’s adopting. Shoddy science, slapped together by politicians. They say it’ll reduce pollution. I think it’s going to blow up in their faces.”
A senior source at the Corporate Administration Bureau, the civil service arm of the Council of Zaun, remarked to the Herald that, “This was, unquestionably, a huge screw-up. Dunderson’s job is to handle the politics. The science behind Spirox is great. The economics behind the initiative made sense. This could have been a big win for Zaun. Dunderson fumbled the politics, and now the chem-barons are eating each other alive, the shareholders are out for blood, and the Qa’hhar situation is getting worse by the day.”
(31 May, 27 CLE)
Pyrikhos Refinery Explodes; Qa’hhar Flooded With Pollution
by Summoner Yurstin Yudling
Explosions! Mayhem! A Zaunite pyrikhos refinery has exploded, blanketing Qa’hhar with dense thaumatoxic pollution. The refinery, owned by Zafion Industries, was in the midst of implementing “clean” elemental hextech modifications as part of the Breathe Better initiative championed by President Magnus Dunderson. Some experts are pointing to Noxian interference, while others are claiming it was a mere unfortunate mishap. Still others allege that the theoretical foundations for the new technology were unsound.
“This is what you get when you put politics ahead of science,” declared Professor Stanwick Pididly in a speech to the student body of the Zaunite Techmaturgical Institute. “[President Magnus] Dunderson couldn’t solve a pyrikhosian rune-matrix if his life depended on it. So what’s he doing leading the Teknopolis of Zaun through the Hextech Revolution? I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. And I’m certain that he is DONE. You hear that, DONEderson?” The invocation of the “DONEderson” meme brought cheers from the assembled students, some of whom were wearing “PIDIDLY 4 PRESIDIDLENT” shirts.
The disaster has emboldened pro-Noxian factions within Shurima. The Eighth Legion, headquartered in Qa’hhar, has taken on a significant number of new recruits, though critics argue this has less to do with patriotic fervor and more to do with Governor Felk handing out Spirox seized from black market dealers to his troops.
The explosion also led to increased hostility toward a nascent branch of the Glorious Evolution movement. Shuriman traditionalists surrounded the headquarters of Liatine Steel-Spark, a leading protege of Viktor who has recruited a number of Xerath’s followers to her cause. With Noxian troops conspicuously absent, the cult’s prospects seemed dire—until the arrival of League Champion Orianna, recently pledged to Zaun in this dispute. Orianna, who had reportedly been behaving erratically since the pollution washed over Qa’hhar, turned to face the crowd and began repeating “protect”. The crowd soon dispersed.
(1 June, 27 CLE)
Noxus Ends New Revolt With Brutal Crackdown
by Summoner Nevan Jell
Noxus has answered a new revolt with violent reprisals. Soldiers and covert operatives coordinated to seemingly annihilate the leadership of the pro-independence rebel movement behind both this revolt and the May 1 incident. However, observers note that this brutality may have radicalized moderate Qa’hharians, and that while the open revolt was decisively crushed, the underlying situation is if anything even more volatile.
Yesterday, Qa’hhar fell into the chaos of a new revolt against Noxus and the League’s provisional government. Tensions had escalated after the High Command’s May 30 announcement that Sorinius Felk would remain Governor of Aqora Province and its capital city of Qa’hhar. The explosion of a Zaunite pyrikhos refinery, which cast a cloud of thaumatoxic pollution over Qa’hhar, brought armed revolutionaries into the streets, hurling stones and spells with equal viciousness (and lack of discerning aim). While the disaster at first led to a surge in Noxian (or at least anti-Zaunite) sentiment, many Qa’hharians have come to believe claims that the refinery was sabotaged by Noxus for political purposes.
The revolutionaries were led by Halimah Rosani, a former mercenary with significant popular support in Qa’hhar who played a central role in the May 1 revolt which brought about the present dispute. At the steps of the capitol building, Rosani accused Felk of “years of callousness and brutality” toward the people of Qa’hhar, excoriating him for his decisions to continually increase the price of water charged to civilians, which she argued was meant to coerce Qa’hharians to switch from employment at better-paying Zaunite jobs to enlisting in the Noxian legions in order to receive military water rations. She further decried the planned construction of a Nox’toraa gate, a traditional symbol of Noxian conquest. She also accused Noxus of triggering the refinery explosion through sabotage, which nearly provoked a brawl between pro-Noxian counter-protesters and her own separatist followers.
The Herald interview was interrupted when Felk appeared on the capitol’s balcony, axe in hand, and challenged Rosani to personal combat. Rosani accepted the challenge, selecting a short spear of traditional Shuriman design for herself. She struck first, flinging a hidden fistful of hexed sand into Felk’s eyes. Felk threw what seemed to be a wild slash down through the empty air where she had been standing, and Rosani thrust her spear at his exposed side. The blinded Felk suddenly pivoted to knock the spear aside with the handle of his inverted axe, and took only a glancing hit. Before Rosani could recover her balance, Felk spun the axe up over his head and brought it down with a savage diagonal cut that gruesomely decapitated his adversary. The crowd erupted into a riot, and the victorious Felk was abruptly knocked unconscious by a hurled stone. Noxian troops charged past Felk and into the crowd, which they subdued with violent force. Suppression of the riots continued into the night, with Noxian soldiers and the city watch sweeping Qa’hhar and making numerous arrests.
As of this morning, the revolt had come to a bloody end. A senior Noxian source reported to the Herald that Rosani’s death led to a struggle for control of the Shuriman separatist movement that brought several prominent rebels out of hiding—and that Noxian agents used the opportunity to swiftly eliminate the movement’s leadership with a wave of assassinations and arrests. City coroner Tavus Yantho told the Herald that he had seen at least a dozen bodies with very peculiar autopsy results. The unfortunate deceased seemed to have been “hollowed out and sucked dry,” he said. It appears that Elise, recently recruited to the Noxian cause in this dispute, may have made full use of her new legal authority to assist Noxus within the dispute zone, although the Herald stresses it has not independently confirmed this information.
Among those killed or arrested during the crackdown were a number of black market Spirox dealers. Noxus has transferred their stockpiles of the drug to legionary quartermasters, to be administered to soldiers to counteract the effects of the pollution from the refinery explosion. The provisional government has publicly requested that some of this confiscated medication be released to its authority so that civilians could be treated. Noxus has denied this request, which seems likely to further undermine the authority of the provisional government.
This afternoon, shortly before publication of this issue of the Herald, Governor Felk declared victory against the rebels, and proclaimed a Festival of Might to sanctify the city’s Nox’toraa.
League Champion Sivir, who was acquainted with the late Halimah Rosani during the time period before her entry into the League, denounced Noxus for its handling of the situation. As to Rosani’s allegations that Noxus sabotaged the refinery, she remarked that, “I never knew Halimah to say anything she couldn’t back up.”
(2 June, 27 CLE)
No Hope For Qa’hhar
by Summoner Marcus Lucanus
It is old Noxian wisdom that a rope stretched tight is strong as steel, until it snaps.
Before this week, a sane person could speak of “hope” for stability in Qa’hhar. With the refinery having exploded, followed in short order by a new revolt and a new crackdown, “hope” has become “fantasy”.
Zaun should be lauded for attempting to de-escalate the situation with its much-needed “Breathe Better” campaign. By causes unknown, it has failed, and the idea that medicine should be cheaply provided to the sick has become a subject of mockery. Zaun’s reckless experimentation with pyrikhos technology has repeatedly threatened Runeterra, but such steps as these ought to be praised, even when they falter. I do not contest that it was likely a strategic play meant to increase long-term power and profit. I neither expect nor particularly desire that Zaun should become a nation of altruists. It is enough that they seemed to have, for a brief moment, recognized that their own self-interest called for some effort to ameliorate the harms they have wrought.
In this fateful week, serious people in serious positions of power have variously remarked within my hearing that Noxus “did what had to be done”. Nothing compelled the High Command to leave the increasingly unstable Felk in power. Sorinius Felk, as anyone familiar with Noxian politics can tell you, is a lukewarm quasi-Reformist sent into effective exile. If his senses have not fully left him, he is increasingly aware that this is the end for him, and I perceive that his desperation has now matured into madness. If Jericho Swain had any intention of making Qa’hhar a city of proud Noxians, he would have done away with Felk and replaced him with someone who believes themself to have a future. But why should he? Every new revolt is a new excuse for brutality, a new temptation for Jarvan or Azir to intervene, and to step into what Swain likely sees as a cunning trap.
The Editor has asked me to write a briefing. So let me make it brief: the question is not if, but when, Qa’hhar will explode.
(2 June, 27 CLE)