Blackwood Gazette #10: Southern Crowndon Braces for Plague of Albino Locusts

8/5-The southern provinces of the Crowndonian Empire, including the major trading centers of Walsh and Toring, are preparing for an invasion. Not from any human army, but from the hordes of Albino Locusts that descend upon the area every four years.

“They come up here, over the Demon’s Eye from Monteddor,” said Razule Gracia, the owner of one of the largest granaries in the Empire. “They come up here, and they lay their eggs in our grain,* and then they eat the grain. Entire crops are lost. Millions of pounds of gold, lost!”

Not to mention millions of lives. Southern Crowndon has a problem with poverty, and they rely on the surplus grain from farms like Gracia’s to survive.

“It’s always bad,” said a local homeless man who only goes by ‘John’. “Especially for the oldest among us. Every four years, the street population here in Walsh drops. People I’ve known my entire life, just gone. Never sure when it’s going to be my turn.”

Crowndon scientists are unsure what causes the quadrennial influx of the insects, but entomologists and climatologists in the Nor Eastern Empire share a theory.

“It has to do with air currents over the Demon’s Eye Cove,” said Jaques Dullane, one such climatologist from the Empress University. “The locusts reproduce by laying their eggs in the dirt along Monteddor’s northern ridge. These eggs get picked up by the wind. Normally, the currents above the cove intercept these eggs and blow them out to sea. But every two years there’s an event in the Barricade Ocean that causes this current to either shift or disappear altogether, and the eggs are carried into the southern Crowney Provinces, where they lay dormant in the nutrient rich soil. Two years later, there is typically another event that causes warmer than average summers. The eggs hatch, giving birth to millions of the locusts. We’re not sure what causes either event.”

This year marks the end of the four year cycle. So when can Crowndon expect to be covered in locusts?

“Within the next couple of months,” said Dullane.

*Editor’s note: Quotes are printed as spoken…any scientific inaccuracies are the fault of interviewee, not the Blackwood Gazette.

Blackwood Gazette #10: Southern Crowndon Braces for Plague of Albino Locusts

Blackwood Gazette #9: Man Pays for Meal with Smelly Gold, Arrested in Connection with Tuna Heist

6/5-A new development in the story of the great Crowndonian Fish Heist, as the authorities are now calling it:

Martin Camwell got an ugly surprise after a dinner last night.

“I ordered a steak,” Camwell said. “Been wanting a steak, you see. Haven’t had none since the Crown seized my milliner’s shop and I got thrown out on the street. When I was done I tried paying for it with this bit ‘o gold a stranger gave me.”

That’s when the restaurant owner noticed something odd.

“Gold smelled bad,” the owner said. “Literally. At first I thought it was the bum, but when I recognized the hint of fish, I pieced it together with the robbery downtown.”

The restaurant’s proprietor contacted the authorities while the wait staff kept Camwell occupied with a dessert menu. When the city watch arrived, they took Camwell into custody, claiming that he did nothing wrong.

“I’m inclined to believe him,” said Deputy Chief Arthur Colingsworth, head of investigations into the heist. “He has no criminal record, and his story checks out. He’s also a bit of a lack-wit and a coward, so I doubt he had anything to do with the robbery, neither its execution and certainly not its execution.”

Colingsworth asked Camwell to provide a description of the man, which Camwell did.

“He described him as average height, ginger hair, mutton chops, and a gray over coat,” Colingsworth said. The inspector then alluded to the possibility that the mysterious man gave Camwell a message, then backpedaled when pushed on the subject.

“We have no further information on the subject at this time,” Colingsworth said, and disappeared into his office.

Charges against Martin Camwell in connection to the heist were dropped. However, he has been kept in custody on charges of vagrancy and disturbing the peace of the restaurant’s wealthy patrons, who report that the smell of the gold, and Camwell, offended them.

Related: Bank Full of Fish Gets Cleaned Out…

Blackwood Gazette #9: Man Pays for Meal with Smelly Gold, Arrested in Connection with Tuna Heist

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review

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Image via Forbes

This week: Cersei and Margaery play nice, Sansa arrives in The Vale, and Jon Snow deals with the mutineer situation in an episode made up largely of original material.

Continue reading “Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review”

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review

Friday Free For All: Where, No One Knows Book Cover Preview

Pixie Sinclaire, Digital painting,Blackwood Empire, Where No One Knows, Preview, Book cover
Pixie Sinclaire, reporting for duty!

Today, I’d thought I’d share some of the character artwork I’m working on for the book cover of my novel, Where, No One Knows.

I’d thought I had a pretty good piece of art to use already, but it’s been about a year and a half since I did that, and I’ve learned a few things since then. Until now, whenever I’ve done an illustration for a story I’ve kept the line work to hide my deficiencies as an artist, and waving it off as a choice of style. But I’m trying to get to a point where my illustrations look decent without the lines containing different areas of color.

The above image isn’t anywhere near complete. I haven’t yet started detailing the fabric, or figured out what I want the background to be (probably something similar to the old illustration), much less smoothing out the edges. I’m working in Photoshop and every color has its own grouping of layers, so I’m waiting to merge everything before tackling that. On the upside, my new computer doesn’t chug whenever I have more than a couple layers open, so I’m able to work with a fuller view of things. I’m even able to use brush dynamics (although, more than a couple of those and things start to slow down.)

Hope you like it, and as always, have a great weekend!

Here are some other posts featuring the character of Pixie Sinclaire, for comparison:

Character Profile: Pixie Sinclaire

Book Trailer Update

Speaking of that Book trailer:

When my old computer took a dive in January, I lost all progress I had made on it. I also lost an almost entirely revised copy of the manuscript. The book itself being the priority, I tackled finishing that up, first. I’ve only recently begun working on the trailer again, but I hope to have something to show soon. Maybe next week?

Friday Free For All: Where, No One Knows Book Cover Preview

Blackwood Gazette #8: Tensions Rising Over Sarnwainian Development of Combustion Engines

1/5-The Imperial Blackwood Authority is up in arms today over reports that the Sarnwainian Empire has plans to pursue oil based combustion engines.

“If the Sarnwainians figure out how to build an engine that uses their impressive oil deposits, we’re all screwed,” said Authority head Richard Leavensworth. “Over time they would prove to be cheaper than the cost of harvesting and shipping Blackwood for our current steam-based transportation system. Combine that with the availability of Sarnwainian oil versus the limited resource of the Blackwood Grove…the Triumvirate would fall apart. We’re talking about an almost over night shift in economic power and a complete reconstruction of the way the world works.”

Blackwood magnate Marco de Santana isn’t worried.

“Let the Sarnwainians try their combustion engines,” de Santa said. “We tried it once. It didn’t work. The oil gummed up the works. And before it did, the engines were loud, and the fumes coming off the engine choked the warehouse. The citizenry won’t like it once presented with the setbacks.”

The opinions of the citizenry seem to indicate otherwise, however.

“Something cheaper than Blackwood?” one local, who owns a small independent transport company, said. “Sign me up. Costs me six months salary for a chunk of Blackwood to power my little airbus for nine. Maybe one day we’ll ALL be able to afford one of them autos you see the rich folks driving around. People like De Santana, they’re just worried about their own personal wealth.”

Scientists from around the Triumvirate are the most concerned with this development overall.

“In addition to the geopolitical ramifications everyone is prattling on about are the environmental ones,” said Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, of NorEaster. “I was there when we tried our own oil based engine. I even helped design the damn thing! Now imagine a city full of such engines, making noise and pumping black smoke into the air. Say goodbye to the clear blue of the Imperial Skyways, and the immaculate stone work of Oeil de Fleur. No, we must re double our efforts in re-creating the Blackwood formulae, and we must stop at nothing to prevent the Sarnwainians from succeeding. Stay with Steam! Down with Diesel!”

Blackwood Gazette #8: Tensions Rising Over Sarnwainian Development of Combustion Engines