Monday, June 20, 2022

QHW, Day 8: Beverages

In 1527, the Brewer's Guild of the City of Burkinsaw was charged with the crime of poisoning.  Their victim was 127 people from the town itself, most tavern-goers and barkeepers, as well as others who sold or consumed alcohol.  The victims in questions suffered from a variety of strange magical effects.  

Some, even those who only consumed a small amount of alcohol, found themselves drunk for hours or days, even after only a few drinks.  Others found that parts of their body developed strange qualities, such as acting like alcohol or another liquid.  When angered, these poor individuals found their skin would bubble and pop like boiling water, or when they relaxed, their appendages would start to liquefy and drip off.  

Still others developed more obvious physical deformities.  Some grew thick tentacles that burst from joints, or had their existing limbs transformed into those of crustaceans or other arthropods.  One particularly bad case was Hammond Fletcher, who had both of his hands transformed into lobster claws.  He demanded that the Brewers be persecuted for their crimes, as without his hands, he would be unable to continue his usual trade, as his claws lacked the dexterity of his previous, human digits.  

These changes were all traced back to ten barrels of ale, each one found to have been produced within one particular tank within one of their breweries.  After the Brewmaster and his assistants were interrogated, they revealed that the Guild's leadership had an arrangement with the Alchemist's Guild, lending their oversized equipment to them to allow the Alchemists to brew enormous quantities of specific potions.  

In exchange for this, the Brewer's Guild was paid a fee and given discounts on purchases of certain types of potions, such as energy potions and potions of alertness, as well as memory potions and potions of telepathy.  Apparently, these were all used to increase safety and productivity, as they enabled employees to work longer hours with fewer mistakes, as well as to remember complex formula and instructions and communicate more easily, without the need to ferry messages to any of the other buildings or brewers located around Burkinsaw.  

The accused's council argued that while unethical, nothing they did was explicitly illegal.  Furthermore, they argued that the actions they undertook were common, with the Alchemist's Guild coming once or twice a month usually, sometimes even more often than that.  There had never before been any failures or similar incidents before this one, so the Guildmaster and other leaders of the Guild would have no reason to assume such a thing was even possible.  As such, their was no reason to hold them responsible.  

The Magistrate evidently did not agree, or perhaps he simply feared the potentially violent reaction of the mobs that had gathered outside the courthouse for most days of the trial.  So he levied stiff fines against the Brewer's Guild and demanded that everyone who suffered a permanent magical affliction be paid a sum of 30 gold sovereigns.  Those who suffered temporary magical effects were to be given a smaller sum of 15 silver sovereigns.  

This generous response nearly bankrupted the Brewer's Guild and almost led to it's dissolution.  And while it was called excessive by some, it did seem to prevent most of the violence.  Only a few Brewers were attacked in the aftermath of the trial and while there was an attack on one of the breweries, it was swiftly repelled by the workers and the damage to the building was minimal.          

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