Blackwood Gazette #160- Whatever Happened to Argathal Gladstone?

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

17/7– Several months ago, the Gazette reported on an inventor from the small Crowndonian village known as Leadhills, Argathal Gladstone. At the time, Mister Gladstone claimed to be working on a perpetual motion engine to serve as an alternative to Blackwood, and that he would be unveiling a working model at this years IIC.

The Industry and Innovation Conference has come and gone, and Mister Gladstone was nowhere to be found. So what happened to him? After some searching, we heard tale of a man in the Nor Eastern city of Sau Le Frete who had been arrested for quackery after a demonstration for an invention he was peddling malfunctioned and injured five people.
We followed the trail, and sure enough found Mister Gladstone sitting in a cell in Sau La Frete’s small county jail.

“I tried making my way to the conference,” he told me. “I built a heavy auto, chained my engine to the back and set off two months in advance. I made it all the way to the mountains along the border, but the auto couldn’t handle the steep climbs. Also, no one told me there were no bridges across the canyon, so I would have been unable to drive across even if I had made it.”

Mister Gladstone says that he headed back down the mountain and found a freighter moored in the nearby town. The captain of the air ship was having issues procuring Blackwood. Mister Gladstone felt that providence had shown upon him.

“Here was a desperate soul that needed what I had to offer, and I was a desperate soul that needed what he could provide in turn, transportation over the mountains into Nor Easter. I told him of my engine, and the captain was intrigued. I led them to where it was stashed, we installed it on his ship, and within two days we were off. The perpetual motion engine worked! At least for a day or two.”

Mister Gladstone refused to indulge what exactly the malfunction was, but apparently the engine worked long enough to get the ship over the mountains before it failed and the Captain had to make a landing.”

“He wasn’t happy,” Gladstone said. “He ran me off, screaming curses and threats to have my head, and refused me my engine, the scallywag! As it turns out he was some big shot pirate everyone was looking for. I consider myself lucky to have braved such an encounter!

“I set out into Nor Easter, with the intention of rebuilding the engine as I went. I had a workable prototype as I made my way into Sau Le Frete, and thought it might be a good spot for a demo. I was wrong about that, and that’s how I came to be in here, locked away and at the mercy of these lesser brutes.”

Mister Gladstone gave us no first hand details of the malfunction and injuries. He just claims to be the victim of shallow minds. The town’s sheriff was willing to give us an account, however.

“That crackpot had constructed a churning maw of metal teeth held together with rusty scrap metal and twine, with a rotting rubber belt running through everything. The belt snapped, and hit five people. They had welts for a month. If I’d seen him coming down the road, I’d have barred him from entering the town in the first place!”

I asked Mister Gladstone what he intended to do once his confinement was over.

“What will I do? Why, what I set out to do, you silly moppet. I’ll rebuild my engine, and take it to Oeil de Fleur for the Conference.”

I informed him (with a small amount of smugness, I must admit) that the conference had already taken place. For a small moment he was taken aback, but he quickly steeled himself.

“Excellent! That gives me a whole year until the next one! Plenty of time to make improvements to the design and make it to Oeil de Fleur.”

I informed him that next year’s conference would not be in Oeil de Fleur, but in Monteddor City. That started him crying.

I left the cell, discomfited, and nervously wished him luck.

Blackwood Gazette #160- Whatever Happened to Argathal Gladstone?

Blackwood Gazette #159- “Impossible Hearts in Forgotten Lands” Gives First Hand Account of Adventures and Romances of Explorer Pierre Fordeau

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

16/7-The Imperial Skyways of the Triumvirate are rife with tales of triumph and tragedy, heroism and sacrifice. This summer, one of the greatest and most mysterious of those tales is being told by the man who lived it.

Pierre Fordeu, the Nor Eastern Explorer who charted the southern coastline of the Newlands and pushed deep into jungles of Pyros, braving the dangers of erupting volcanoes, hostile locals, and vicious wildlife along the way, recently published his long awaited memoir, Impossible Hearts in Forgotten Lands. The book details his years exploring the coastlines and archipelagos of the Pyros Ocean, and his controversial years living in the city of Quin Loh.

Perhaps the most anticipated tale, however, is that of his much gossiped about years aboard the ship Hortencia’s Rage, and his tumultuous affair with the Pirate Queen Seylene Plamondon. Nearly half of the book’s page count is dedicated to giving, in great detail, an account of their various sordid nocturnal (and sometimes, midday) activities. In fact, it’s almost too much, and has already sent waves of protest through conservative circles in Crowndon. Even literary critics in Nor Easter, of all places, cite the salacious cataloging of various forms of carnal congress and how many people may or may not have been involved as being in poor taste. One episode in particular hints that a certain Nor Eastern royal took part in the goings on aboard the Rage during a sojourn to Oeil de Fleur (though Fordeu is smart enough not to name names in this regard).

In any case, the book offers a new view on well tread territory. Of particular interest is Fordeu’s downplaying of the role he played in the Kyrstati Uprising in Djidan, in which most tales paint him as the driving force. The memoir is now available in most major cities, though it is expected to circulate to smaller towns in the coming months. Negotiations are already underway with the Pelligratto Theatre Company for a stage adaption next year.

Blackwood Gazette #159- “Impossible Hearts in Forgotten Lands” Gives First Hand Account of Adventures and Romances of Explorer Pierre Fordeau

Blackwood Gazette # 158- Rinkenbach May Have Crossed Border Into Crowndon, Nor Easter Says

By Chester Seaton, News

15/7- After a long search of villages and townships in the Nor Eastern province of Des Anges, Nor Eastern investigators say that they have found substantial evidence that Sir Rigel Rinkenbach has crossed through the mountains into Crowndon.

“This is very disparaging, for a number of reasons,” said Feredic Caltou, an advisor to Empress Marcellete Bastian. “Given his close relationship with the Empress and her inner circles, Rinkenbach is privy to all sorts of Imperial secrets. He’s a serious security risk. His natural aptitude for science and mechanical design also presents reason for concern. Should Crowndon get their hooks in him, I shudder at the thought of him being installed as part of their military industry.”

That is, of course, if the Crowndon military doesn’t arrest or execute him out right.

“Let us not forget that Rinkenbach invented the Dragonfly aircraft that decimated Roderick La Pierre’s fleet at the Divide and cost them the war,” Caltou added. “While Rinkenbach enjoys a certain diplomatic immunity during pre-scheduled and tightly controlled appearances in Crowndon, there are many circles there that revile him nearly as much as their expatriated Admiral La Pierre. Should Rinkenbach be discovered, I fear for his life. The Empress is understandably distraught at this possible outcome.”

The Crowndon military commented on the possibility of Rinkenbach’s presence, and denied that any such action would be taken.

“While it’s true that many in Crowndon would see Rinkenbach’s head removed from his body, we are not the unreasonable brutes that Nor Easter likes to portray us as,” said Admiral Winston Johannes. “We are in a state of peace with Nor Easter, and none of us wants a repeat of the war two years ago. Given his relationship with the Empress, killing or arresting Rinkenbach holds no political value. Rather, if we located him, we would offer to return him as a show of good faith to the Nor Eastern Empire.”

Caltou’s response was skeptical.

“I’ll believe such a promise when it is delivered upon.”

***

Given their history, what do you think happens when the ruthless pirate Roderick La Pierre meets the brilliant inventor Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, the man most responsible for the loss of everything he held dear? Find out in Where, No One Knows, the first full length Blackwood Empire novel!

Blackwood Gazette # 158- Rinkenbach May Have Crossed Border Into Crowndon, Nor Easter Says

Blackwood Gazette #157- Pixie Sinclaire Uncovers Conspiracy to Assassinate Governor of New Crowndon

By Maurice Merchant, Editor-in-Chief

14/7- We have some more details today on why exactly Pixie Sinclaire was taken to see Berclay Ancroft, the governor of New Crowndon, upon her arrival in the colonies several weeks ago.

It has been rumored for some time now that a certain element in the world of colonial/imperial politics isn’t happy with Ancroft’s policies, nor the fact that he is the first colonial born man to hold the office. While he has proven popular with the majority of the populace, this fringe element would see him removed.

Colonial authorities uncovered plans for an attempt on Ancroft’s life, and upon hearing of Sinclaire’s arrival, and given the notoriety of her actions in service of the Nor Eastern Subterfuge Society during the war with Crowndon, they enlisted her services to help root out the assassination plot.

While details are scarce, we know that the operation involved sending Miss Sinclaire ahead of Ancroft’s entourage on his campaign trail through the southern towns and villages of his province. The area is known for its traditionalist base and staunch loyalty to the Triumvirate, and the citizens have been most vocal in their protest of a colonial occupying the governor’s office for nearly a decade.

Miss Sinclaire is said to have gone undercover in the role of a distant cousin to one of the region’s most affluent families, and from there, became a part of the protest movement. Within days she was able to work her way into the most extreme circles of this movement, though exactly how she accomplished this is being kept off the official records.

Miss Sinclaire quickly gathered intelligence on the plot and worked, along with an unnamed accomplice, to sabotage and deconstruct the movement from within. By the time the governor passed through the small town where the attempt was to take place, only a few of the conspirators remained in a position to take up arms. These men were dealt with easily enough by Ancroft’s guards.

“I am very grateful to Miss Sinclaire for her efforts to ensure my safety on the campaign trail,” Ancroft wrote in an official statement. “If not for her experience and talents in the arts of espionage, I fear the attempt would have succeeded. We found ourselves completely unprepared for the possibility of such a conspiracy, and we have consulted with Miss Sinclaire on how to prepare for another such event in the future.”

Pixie Sinclaire has since left the Governor’s employ, presumably to continue her search for the missing archaeologist Veronica Trenum and the Gazette’s own Adella Chatelaine. As a personal friend of Miss Chatelaine myself, I bid Miss Sinclaire the best of luck in the endeavour.

***

Real World Influences: This story was inspired in part by that of Kate Warne, credited as the first female detective in the history of the United States, who worked for the Pinkerton Agency during the Civil War and helped to thwart an assassination attempt on President Lincoln.

And don’t forget, you can read more about Pixie Sinclaire in the first full length Blackwood Empire novel, Where, No One Knows, now available in paperback and e-formats.

Blackwood Gazette #157- Pixie Sinclaire Uncovers Conspiracy to Assassinate Governor of New Crowndon

Blackwood Gazette #156- Platitude Escapes in Hellstorm of Dust and Stone

By Chester Seaton, News

13/7- The twists and turns in the La Pierre saga continue, as it appears that the disgraced admiral turned wily pirate has once again eluded capture.

The Pharessian infantry, believing they had the scourge of the Imperial Skyways pinned down in an ancient ruin, began to move in during the early morning hours on Surnsday. Their plan: to bombard the ruin’s main entrance, enclosing the Pernicious Platitude and her crew inside.

The first stage of the plan was a complete success. The Pharessian infantry did indeed bring down the main entrance and hall, cutting off the main point of egress and destroying thousands of years of history in the process.

What they did not account for, however, was La Pierre setting several bundles of dynamite along the interior of the ruin’s main chamber. The explosion brought down the roof of the ruin, which experts are saying amounted to little more than one ton of rock, as the inner chamber extended to within two meters of the surface. Most of this rock was pulverized by the explosion.

As the smoke and dust cleared, the Pharessians below watched as the repaired Platitude rose from within the cliff, her crew mocking them from the deck. The Pharessian General in charge of the operation, General Malik Auduam, ordered his men to quickly reload their cannons, but by the time they were ready to fire, the air ship was out of range and disappearing over the canyon’s ridge.

“You’d think that the Pharessian military would have been informed about that ruin’s particular quirks,” said Crowndon Admiral Winston Johannes. “It’s right here, in this history book I just checked out of the library; ‘Ancient Sarnwainian Engineering and Their Odd Little Foibles’, by Veronica Trenum, Ph.D. A whole book, just about the oddities of Sarnwainian ruins. Perhaps we should lend it to them.”

Blackwood Gazette #156- Platitude Escapes in Hellstorm of Dust and Stone

Blackwood Gazette #155- Julianos’ Forces Level Town of Sanado Flores

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

10/7- The Monteddorian Empire bleeds today, as it has just been confirmed that the small town of Sanado Flores, located on the southern bank of the Teardrop river in the Valley of Wisps, has been completely leveled and its populace almost entirely wiped out.

Details are scarce at the moment, but we have been told by Monteddorian military authorities is that the rebel leader known only as Dougherty had gone to ground in the valley, along with several of her most important officers and a sizable contingent of her force. Upon learning of her whereabouts, Alejandro Julianos ordered his personal fleet to fly directly to the town. It is said that his own personal flag ship, Panther’s Reign, began the bombardment.

The regular Monteddorian military claims they had no knowledge of the engagement, and that Julianos acted of his own volition. Military leaders around the Triumvirate have already condemned the action, and protests have erupted throughout the nations of the Nor Eastern Empire. Ferdand Govanna, the governor of the province in which Sanado Flores was located, has called for martial action against Julianos and his forces.

There has been no word as to the success of the strike, or whether or not Dougherty was killed. Regardless of its outcome, it is apparent that Julianos has earned nothing but ill will, even amongst his own countrymen.

Blackwood Gazette #155- Julianos’ Forces Level Town of Sanado Flores

Blackwood Gazette #154- Plot To Overthrow Thankai Monarch Thwarted; Three Generals Arrested

By Basilio Mura, Nor Eastern Correspondent

9/7- With most of Thankaen’s airships on the way to assist Pharessian forces in their apprehension of Roderick La Pierre, a secret cabal of Thankai Generals decided it would be a good idea to try and seize power from the country’s millennia old monarchy. The coup didn’t exactly go as planned, however.

“We saw it coming from a mile away,” said loyalist General Daichi Temirak. “Thanks to information we received from an outside source, most likely dissenters within the rebel ranks, the Throne was aware of an impending coup. Our agreement with Pharassus was actually a part of the plan to draw them out.”

As it turns out, only one of the two Thankai airships was actually enlisted to help with La Pierre. The other simply took to ground in the jungles outside of the capital city. A third, heretofore secret and recently built airship patrolled the skies over the Omeddon Ocean.

“When the rebels showed themselves our airships swooped in and we bombed them hell and back,” said General Temirak.

Unconfirmed reports that a large section of the city’s outer quarter (made up mostly of the destitute) have begun making their way across the border between the Sarnwainian Empire and the Triumvirate. Temirak denies these reports, but does confirm that the rebels were hiding in the outer quarters.

After the bombing, three surviving rebel Generals, all of them possessed of outstanding service records including the Venerable Reed of Valor, the highest military honor that can be bestowed upon a living soldier in Thankaen, were captured and taken to an undisclosed location. The Thankaen monarchy refused to comment on what fate awaited the captured men.

Blackwood Gazette #154- Plot To Overthrow Thankai Monarch Thwarted; Three Generals Arrested

Blackwood Gazette #153- Rinkenbach Still Missing; Shady Characters On His Trail

By Basilio Mura, Nor Easter Correspondent

8/7- Government representatives for a small village at the base of the des Anges Mountains have reported that members of an undisclosed Imperial office visited last weekend, asking after the missing industrialist Sir Rigel Rinkenbach.

The village is the site of a vacation home to the renowned alchemist Ambrose Johns, a friend and confidante of Rinkenbach’s. Johns told the village council that the unidentified men questioned him on the last time he’d seen, spoken, or written to Rinkenbach.

“It seemed like routine questioning, at first,” Johns said. “But there was clearly a dark tone beneath it all, like I was under threat of censure or even violence if I didn’t cooperate. I don’t know what Rigel is involved in, but the whole ordeal left me quite frightened.”

Experts have suggested that the unidentified parties may be members of Nor Easter’s intelligence services, the Subterfuge Society, to which Rigel Rinkenbach has many ties going back to the war between Nor Easter and Crowndon. The Society was said to have been deactivated following the war.

“Nor Easter claims that in times of peace, the Subterfuge Society doesn’t exist,” said a member of Crowndon’s own intelligence service. “And indeed we have found no evidence to doubt such claims (hard as that may be to believe). If such claims are true, and the Society has been reactivated, then it could mean that unforeseen forces are in play. The members of the Triumvirate would be wise to prepare for the worst.”

Since his disappearance last month following an embarrassing press conference, Rinkenbach’s trail has gone cold. The Empire has since seized his business, and the Empress herself has reached out to Triumvirate leaders to help search for the world famous inventor and alchemist.

****

A conspiracy is afoot!

Blackwood Gazette #153- Rinkenbach Still Missing; Shady Characters On His Trail

Blackwood Gazette#152- La Pierre and Crew Pull Ship into Cliff Side Ruins as Pharessian Forces Move In

By Chester Seaton, News

7/7-Today brings an update on the situation in Pharassus, where the Pharessian military has the debauched pirate Roderick La Pierre surrounded and trapped at the bottom of a canyon. General Auduam reported this morning that Pharessian ground forces have begun entering the large, open area that is the location of an ancient ruin where La Pierre has taken shelter.

La Pierre, however, somehow became aware of the incoming military force and ordered his crew to pull the wreckage of his ship, the Pernicious Platitude, into the ruin.

“A futile gesture,” General Auduam told us. “That ruin has only one entrance. They’ve backed themselves into a corner. When the ground forces enter the canyon floor, they will fire upon it with their cannon, and bury the pirate alive. Our victory is assured! This blight will be removed from the land forever and always!”

The decision to open fire on the ancient site comes in the wake of recent worldwide efforts to preserve ruins with archaeological value. We spoke to Doctor J. Feenarty Croke about the Phareesian military’s plan.

“It is an outrage!” Dr. Croke said. “Much of our ancient history has been lost due to centuries of warfare that occurred before the discovery of the Blackwood grove. Awareness of the sorry state of our ancient historical sites is at an all time high, so there is no excuse for such flagrant destruction, not even for La Pierre. They say they have him backed into a corner? Just bring in an alchemist and gas them all. Shooting the place up is completely unnecessary.”

Blackwood Gazette#152- La Pierre and Crew Pull Ship into Cliff Side Ruins as Pharessian Forces Move In

Blackwood Gazette #151- Pandion Air Racing League Opens with Outstanding Numbers

By Huxley Pruitt, Sports

6/7- The first annual Pandion Aerodynamics Racing Circuit got underway this weekend in Walsh, drawing thousands of citizens from around the Triumvirate for some high flying racing action. For two days the best pilots in the empire showed those of us with our feet trapped firmly on the ground what a plane can do, and then pushed those planes just a little bit more.

The Legacy League provided fast action out of the gate, with a head to head race between Tobias Cuthbertson, former Captain of the Crowndon Air Corps, and “Bonzo” Doosly, retired pilot for Nor Easter. They were neck and neck for most of race, cutting close corners around the course’s obstacles. The turnaround occurred around the last turn, when Doosly clipped Cuthbertson, sending both air craft careening. The crowd watched in silence as Cuthbertson brought his craft under control and pulled ahead, winning the race with a two second spread and earning cheers from the mostly Crowndonian crowd. Cuthbertson would go on to dominate the weekend for the Legacy League, beating Walsh’s own Parker Behan and Toring’s Hardisty Pender for the top of the winner’s podium.

The second day of racing focused on the Horizon League, and if you asked anyone in the crowd, this league, made up mostly of amateur and trade pilots, is the reason they came out. Promising head-spinning stunts and a true sense of derring-do, the Horizon League did not disappoint.

The-Middle-of-Nowhere’s Gideon Hotoft shut down des Anges’ Micah Le Fleur in a stomach churning stunt race to open the event. This exhibition was followed by a heavily modified version of the head to head course the Legacy League raced the day before, featuring more obstacles and tighter turns. Hotoft once again put on a good show, but ultimately came in third on the podium. The first place pot ultimately went to Rommsbach’s Perys Kerby, while second place went to the controversial woman pilot, Marcy Quail.

After the races were over, we spoke to Mathis Galland, owner of Pandion and the creator of the races, about how he felt the event fared.

“I think it’s safe to say it was a rousing success!” he told us. “The crowds were going wild at every close call and photo finish, and we’re already getting requests from sponsors who want to enter their own racers for a second season.”

Tickets for the next event, two weeks from now in Des Anges, have already sold out.

Blackwood Gazette #151- Pandion Air Racing League Opens with Outstanding Numbers