The Awyis (ɑːwjɪz/awyiz) Incident is remembered as one of the most dramatic instances of experimentation gone awry in the history of the Saint Montaigne Delta. The catastrophe occurred in the eponymous Duchy of Awyis in the 4th century after its establishment. At the time, Duchess Katarina Escherton Awyis, direct descendant of Duke Harbondul Gaurtham Awyis, was facing potential insurrection after severe spring flooding decimated crops and livestock holdings in the surrounding territory.
As food reserved dwindled, Katarina turned to her Vizier of Agriculture, Thymestius Bloom, who endorsed his experimental fertilizer additives for the autumnal crops. Thymestius believed that the formulation for his proprietary fertilizer could triple output from Awyisan farmsteads. Katarina, seeing no other option, decreed all farmers would plant wheat, barley, and rye and sow their fields with Thymestius's fertilizer.
The fertilizer was extremely successful with a harvest exceeding even Thymestius's own predictions. As a celebration and to assuage hostilities against the duchy, a week-long series of games and theatrical performances were held with fresh bread provided by the duchess's command. The starving citizens eagerly accepted the nourishment.
Unbeknownst to Thymestius, Katarina, or the citizenry of Awyis, the damp spring had infested the fields of Awyis with ergot fungus. This dangerous mold is usually detected before harvest, but Thymestius's fertilizer caused the grain to mature much faster than the fungus, and so it remained undetected.
The symptoms of acute ergotism began to manifest by the 4th day of the celebration. Portions of the affected population became incredibly ill with seizures and necrosis. Less extreme cases were afflicted with painful spasms and psychosis. Hordes of ergotic citizens roved the streets often perpetrating acts of insurmountable carnage. Survivors of the incident reluctantly relate tales of infanticide, self-mastication, and cannibalism.
The unaffected population split into three divisions. First and accounted as the wisest of Awyisans, were those who immediately fled the city to neighboring duchies. Second were the those who contributed to the incident through mass hysteria. Though untouched by the ergot, these citizens, mostly of the upper class, quickly devolved to brutality against the masses and one another. Finally, there were the insurrectionists, who had for the most part survived the ergot poisoning by accepting foreign aid and food from the neighboring and rival Duchy of Palta. In the midst of the chaos, the insurrectionists, lead by Paulo Ligisto Grande, toppled the duchess's reign and publicly beheaded the entire court.
Ligisto attempted to established a pseudo-democratic government, but failed as the remaining population was too low to support the state. Palta quickly annexed the lands surrounding the capital of Awyis, but, due to superstition and droves of indigenous maniacs, never approached the city proper. The city fell to disrepair. An archeological expedition was sent to the abandoned city several decades later. They returned with reports of streets littered with skeletons and eerily mute and unresponsive pale-faced transients still roaming the city.
Farmers and Bakers alike now reference the tragedy upon the discovery of ergot fungi fruiting from cereals or festing in bread with the colloquialism, "Awyis motherfucking breadcrumbs."