Blackwood Gazette #30: De Santana-Chevelle Speed Wedding/Divorce Not So Amicable After All

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

30/6- Yolanda de Santana and Armin Chevelle captured the citizenry’s imaginations two months ago when they were married, then promptly divorced, setting a new world record for shortest marriage. This was achieved via a loop-hole in current laws.

Well, it would seem Armin Chevelle wasn’t paying as much attention to the loop holes as his bride, because de Santana just took Chevelle for everything he’s worth.

“Mister Chevelle is reasonably distraught,” a representative said. “Everything his grandfather struggled to achieve has been taken from him by someone he trusted. He was only allowed to keep what was in is pockets, which amounted to a broken tin pocket watch, a groat, and half the carapace of a small insect. Which, it suddenly occurs to me, isn’t enough to pay me for my services, so…good day.”

Yolanda de Santana was unavailable for comment, but her father is said to be over the moon with pride.

“She’s definitely a root from this old tree,” Marco de Santana is quoted as saying in the Monteddorian Herald. “All that vapid socialite crap was a ruse. She cut herself off from my fortune two years ago, determined to steal her own, just like her old man. Of course, if she is just like me, I need to see to some new security measures. Excuse me.”

Blackwood Gazette #30: De Santana-Chevelle Speed Wedding/Divorce Not So Amicable After All

Blackwood Gazette #29: Massive Search for Waystation Bravo Launched; Several Airships Gone Missing

By Chester Seaton, News

26/6- Earlier this week, several ships, both air and sea based, set out from Waystations Alpha, Charlie, and Echo to help search for signs of Waystation Bravo, which disappeared from the Skyway circuit two weeks ago.

While the majority of the ships searched the waters along the circuit route, several reportedly broke away from the main search flotillas and made way for the strange storm that still has scientists befuddled.

While most of the search and rescue ships returned within the day, several did not. Port Authority aboard the remaining stations  report that the missing ships were those seen heading toward the storm. Further details on the crews of these ships are few, but they are said not to be regulars on the stations, with the exception of one Klaus Klaudhopper, a well liked bouncer from Waystation Echo.

Witnesses say that Klaudhopper was last seen in the presence of a tall woman that bar regulars described as being armed to the teeth. Several eye witnesses to an altercation the day before the search parties left say that the woman in question brandished silver revolvers. This has led to wild speculation about the involvement of the legendary Ephemeral Cartographers. Others still claim they heard the woman claim allegiance to the Scarlet Circle, though they seem to have no idea why a group of assassins would be looking for the wreckage of a waystation.

The Scarlet Circle was recently implicated in the strange death of Thedore Francis Williamsburg of Thorndyke the Third, the Governor of Walsh, two months ago.

While this potent mixture of scientific mystery, mass disappearance, and alleged involvement of not one but two secretive organizations may prove tempting fodder for the imagination, we here at the Gazette stress that readers take new details on this story with a grain of salt. Until we have hard evidence, most of these details remain conjecture at this point.

Blackwood Gazette #29: Massive Search for Waystation Bravo Launched; Several Airships Gone Missing

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

By Chester Seaton, News

25/6- Good news for farmers in Lower Crowndon: Meteorologists in the area are saying that the quadrennial influx of locusts may be smaller than predicted after a meager first hatching.

“We started hearing reports of the locusts last week,” said Humphrey Bretodeau, our meteorology contact in Nor Easter. “Normally, the initial hatching is the worst, but only a handful of farmers claim to be reporting major damage. Our working theory right now is that it is connected to the strange storm still brewing over the Barrier Ocean. It has prevented the four year cycle of an exceptionally warm summer in the region.”

Bretodeau warns against being too relieved, however.

“If the storm breaks, the locusts may still have time to hatch. Farmers should consider harvesting what they can. Furthermore, if the storm does not break, and the eggs remain dormant, we could be looking at a horde of apocalyptic proportions four years from now.”

Still, the news comes as a bit of relief to Crowndon, which has experienced an economic downturn in recent weeks.

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

Blackwood Gazette #27: Who is Paying for the Triumvirate’s Proposed Super-Prison?

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

24/6- Ever since Triumvirate Authorities announced their plans to build a massive prison-ship in the Barrier Ocean earlier this month, people have wondered how exactly it will be paid for. A recent tax hike throughout Crowndon seemed to indicate that the common citizen would be the prime contributor, but the lack of a corresponding tax in NorEaster and Monteddor indicates other wise.

Many theorize that the Crowndon tax hike has less to do with the prison, and everything to do with the recent Tuna Heist perpetrated by Roderck La Pierre that left a large percentage of the nation’s gold reserves temporarily unusable thanks to the smell (which, if rumors are true, has created an economic destabilization that Crowndon has refused to publicly acknowledge.) It is likely some tax dollars will be used, but after plans for the prison were recently released, the questions only grew louder.

According to the plans, which were shown in a private showing at the recent Innovation and Industry Conference, the prison will consist of three retrofitted Crowndonian warships, welded together to create a single super-structure. The Crowndon Navy insists that using these three retired ships cuts down on a large percentage of the cost, but questions still remain. How much will the retrofits cost? What about the crew, and maintenance? And more importantly, how much Blackwood will it take to power and move the mass of such a large structure? None of these issues have been addressed, and to date, my inquiries have been met with a canned dismissal, or outright ignored.

The Gazette has been doing some digging, and thanks to some inside sources has followed a paper trail leading to evidence showing the prison is being funded by private investors. Among these investors, we have learned, are several Monteddorian crime lords, including the notorious Alejandro Julianos. Several wealthy industrialists in Crowndon and politicians in NorEaster were also named in our source.

This information, if true, raises several alarming issues. If the funding of the prison is as privatized as it appears, there is the possibility that it may not be used solely for the incarceration of criminals found guilty by the Triumvirate judiciary. One great fear is that investors could use their wealth to turn the prison into a place where “problems” go to disappear.

Whatever the truth, rest assured that the Gazette will maintain a watchful eye on this story.

Blackwood Gazette #27: Who is Paying for the Triumvirate’s Proposed Super-Prison?

Blackwood Gazette #26: Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire Spotted in Oeil de Fleur Concurrently; Rumors Fly

by Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment (and now Celebrity Gossip, Apparently)

23/6- The tabloids are in a frenzy today as NorEaster’s favorite former power couple, Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire, were both seen in Oeil de Fleur last week. This prompted rumors about the possibility of the estranged duo getting back together.

Sources indeed confirm that Rinkenbach and Sinclaire both were in Oeil de Fleur last week; Rinkenbach was spotted at the popular brothel Big Bessie’s Burlesque, sipping Absinthe and discussing something with a group of fellow alchemists. Sinclaire, meanwhile, was reportedly visiting the death bed of an old war comrade, on the other side of town.

Despite not actually being seen anywhere approaching the immediate vicinity of one another, the imagination of the citizenry has gone completely mental. Many approach the rumors with innocent optimism:

“Oh, I hope it’s true!” said Valina Neri, a baker in south end. “They were so fun to read about when they were together…two of the world’s greatest minds, traveling the world, getting in adventures…I miss those days.”

While others have taken the non-news to daunting levels of psychosis:

“I have been waiting in this alley for three days,” said one man, who didn’t offer his name. “I am hoping to get a glimpse of Rigel and Pixie together. When I do, I am going to give them this diorama I made.”

Trust me, dear readers, you  do not want to know what the diorama depicted or what was holding it together. On another note, the alley was nowhere near either location. It was outside my domicile, which disturbs me greatly.

Correction: In issue 24, we misspelled the name of our meteorologist source. His name is “Bretodeau”, not “Bredoteau.”

Blackwood Gazette #26: Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire Spotted in Oeil de Fleur Concurrently; Rumors Fly

Blackwood Gazette #25: Von Grimm Gang Terrorizes Colonial Frontier


by Chester Seaton, News

19/6- Doctor Argyle Von Grimm, a.k.a. the Mad Mechanist of Mosaille, has reared his head once more, this time along the frontier of the Imperial Colonies. Even worse, he has brought a gang of mechanically enhanced malcontents with him.

For the last month, Colonial authorities report that Von Grimm has attacked, occupied, or reduced to ash at least fifteen frontier townships.

“He may go on about etiquette and protocol, but he’s little more than a mad dog with a doctorate,” said Marshall Nathaniel Harper. “He rides into town with his gang, all of ’em missing arms or legs or sometimes eyes, all replaced with clockwork appendages. He goads some poor sod to anger, gives a speech about manners, and then proceeds to wrecking the place. A real villain, that one.”

The Colonial Marshals are at a loss on how to deal with Von Grimm and his gang. To date, they have sent several posses after the miscreant, and to date, each of these posses have turned up buried to their necks in the sand, their heads swollen from the desert sun. Law men refuse to deal with the situation out of fear, and many settlers have started migrating back east.

“There ain’t nothing out there worth dealing with a man like that,” said Sally Sommerfield, mother of sixteen children and grandmother of eight, four times widowed, two at the hands of Von Grimm. “He doesn’t just destroy towns. Once saw him kick a puppy. Crossed the street to do it, too.”

Von Grimm’s reign of terror has put a sizable dent in the trade of furs, coal, and other goods from the frontier. Desperate to put an end to it, the Colonial government has issued a 150,000 dollar bounty for Von Grimm or any member of his gang, dead or alive, and a 10,000 dollar bounty for any leads to the bandit’s hideout that bear fruit. To date, neither bounty has been paid.

Blackwood Gazette #25: Von Grimm Gang Terrorizes Colonial Frontier

Blackwood Gazette #24: Waystation Bravo Goes Dark After Appearance of Massive Storm Over the Barrier Ocean


by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

18/6- Dark news today, as reports from air ships returning from the colonies report that Waystation Bravo, one of four airborne outposts that provide shelter and supply to ships making the journey across the Barrier Ocean, has gone missing.

The first indication that something was wrong came at the beginning of last week, when the merchant ship Hewlett’s Pride arrive at the northwest corner of the Waystation system’s circuit.

“We went to sea and waited for Bravo to show,” said Captain Hewlett. “Should’ve been six hours, tops, but it was eighteen hours before a Station appeared. Turned out to be Charlie. Port authority told us they hadn’t heard from Bravo in more than a day.”

After Hewlett made a report to Waystation Charlie’s port-master, frigates were sent to investigate. As part of search protocol, several of these frigates traveled to the center of the circuit. What they found horrified them.

“It’s like some sort of hurricane, except it ain’t moving, and it ain’t getting smaller,” said the captain of the lead frigate. “We’ve got ships out there monitoring the situation. It’s been a week, and there’s been no change, except the storm has gotten larger. We can see the edges now from the other Waystations.”

The mysterious storm has put scientists across the Triumvirate on edge.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said prominent meteorologist Humphrey Bredoteau. “A stationary storm lasting more than a week that doesn’t dissipate, it shouldn’t be possible, but there it is.”

Neither the Triumvirate Sky Authority or Bredoteau are willing to comment that the storm has anything to do with Waystation Bravo’s disappearance.

“We’re looking through transmissions and manifests sent from Bravo to Alpha and Charlie,” said Charlie’s portmaster. “It’s no secret that the Waystations house a large criminal element, and that station Echo is controlled by Alejandro Julianos. I wouldn’t be surprised he landed on Bravo and tried to take it over.”

The large criminal presence aboard the Waystations certainly calls into question the safety and long term viability of the entire affair, but they remain a prime economic link between the Triumvirate and the Colonies, and the Crowndon Air Corps claims that rousting the criminals would likely lead to the complete loss of the stations.

The Blackwood Gazette will continue to report on this situation as it develops.

Adella Chatelaine is the editor and chief of the Gazette’s NorEastern branch and lead investigative reporter. She built her career as a freelancer and is notorious for her hard hitting interview style. When not traveling the Triumvirate looking for a story, she is a fixture in a wide spectrum of NorEastern social circles.

Blackwood Gazette #24: Waystation Bravo Goes Dark After Appearance of Massive Storm Over the Barrier Ocean

Blackwood Gazette #23: Employment Rising in Wake of Rinkenbach/Klankenvroot Rivalry, New Report Shows

by Hunter O’Leary, Business

17/6- New reports conducted by the Crowndonian Census Bureau and the NorEastern Department of Tallies and Numbers show that employment in the industrial sector of both Empires has tripled in the wake of Ivan Klankenvroot’s challenge to Rigel Rinkenbach to see who could develop the world’s first workable commercial airplane.

“I am not at all surprised by these numbers,” said the CCB’s head of analytics, Richard Maine. “It is precisely this sort of industrial rivalry that awakens the patriotic spirit of a nation. Even my good for nothing son has been hired. He was hired by Rinkenbach, which is a bit embarrassing to me as a Crowndonian, but at least he’s doing something.”

Outside parties with no stakes in either Crowndon or NorEaster’s national interest are urging a healthy skepticism when reviewing the reports, stating that while there is no doubt that employment has risen in both Empires, the numbers do not reflect the truth.

“NorEaster’s report puts the numbers in their favor,” said one such independent analyst, who asked to remain anonymous. “Crowndon’s report, unsurprisingly, favors itself. These reports are little more than nationalistic propaganda. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rinkenbach and Klankenvroot funded the surveys themselves.”

Hunter O’Leary is the Gazette’s new Business Analyst. He graduated at the top of his class from Walsh Business School. After graduating, he served in the Crowndon military as Keeper of Finances and Sundries during the Dividing War. He has an affinity for pickled cow’s tongue.

Blackwood Gazette #23: Employment Rising in Wake of Rinkenbach/Klankenvroot Rivalry, New Report Shows

Blackwood Gazette #22: World Renowned Archaeologist Veronica Trenum Set to Join Team Investigating Lelina Ruins

by Chester Seaton, News

16/6– The scientific community is buzzing with news that Veronica Trenum is planning an expedition to the colonies next month to aid in the investigation of ruins recently discovered in the swamps there.

Trenum was made world famous last year for excavating the tomb of Sair Phaxamses, an ancient Sarwainian king. Her discoveries there shed new light on a Sarnwainian dynasty that had remained largely lost to history.

“Doctor Trenum brings a unique sensibility to the field,” said Johnathan DePlante, Professor of Archaeology for the Empress University. “She thinks outside the bounds of contemporary archaeological study, not beholden by current theories, and this allows her to focus on details and form ideas that help advance our study. These ideas are often controversial amongst her peers, but even her sternest detractors are unable to deny the value of her insights.”

Controversy is, perhaps, an understatement. At a dig in Pharassus several years ago, her tent was set aflame after she embarrassed the professor she was interning with at the time by disproving one of his theories. The attempt at destroying her evidence failed, however, because she sent copies of her findings to a colleague in NorEaster. (Rumors that this colleague was rival Pixie Sinclaire remained unconfirmed but persistent, despite denials from both parties.)

“The University of New Crowndon stands to gain a valuable member in [Doctor Trenum],” DePlante added. “I, for one, am extremely excited by what she will discover in Lelina. So little is known about prehistoric cultures in the Colonies.”

Doctor Trenum is currently en route to Oeil de Fleur to prepare for the expedition, and was unable to be reached for comment in time for this publication.

Chester Seaton is the Blackwood Gazette’s senior News writer. Seaton has been with the Gazette almost since the beginning, and remains a trusted voice throughout Crowndon. When the Gazette nearly went under last year and several reporters jumped ship, Seaton remained. When not reporting, he teaches journalism at the University of Toring. He lives in Toring with his wife, Elizabeth, and their orphaned granddaughter, Elsa.

Blackwood Gazette #22: World Renowned Archaeologist Veronica Trenum Set to Join Team Investigating Lelina Ruins

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Children” Season Finale Review

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This week on Game of Thrones: Two storylines collide north of the wall, two more intersect in the Vale, Dany grounds her children, Tywin has the worst father’s day ever, and we ask the question, “Is Bran even still on the same show anymore?”

Continue reading “Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Children” Season Finale Review”

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Children” Season Finale Review