Blackwood Gazette #183- World Leaders Call for Summit to Discuss Appearance of Advanced Weapons Being Used by Rebel Movements

By Chester Seaton, News

28/8- The Thankaen Coup. The Ganborran Uprising. The Plasty Meridian Crisis. The attempted assassination of New Crowndon Governor Ancroft. All of these incidents, despite being otherwise unrelated, have one common thread: in each case, the aggressors involved used highly advanced, semi-automatic rifles of unknown make or origin. While not necessarily a new technology, semi-automatic weapons have up to this point been a rarity, due either to pricing or the outright restriction of their manufacturing and sale by the governments involved.

“The sudden appearance of these weapons in the hands of dissidents around the globe is alarming,” said Lord General Johnathan Gorsky, the supreme commander of Crowndon’s military and one of its highest ranking oligarchs. “In many cases, the military units facing these weapons are still using flint- or even matchlock muskets. That such large quantities of these weapons could be manufactured without someone noting the diversion of resources and shipped to all corners of the globe while slipping past inspection pickets could potentially tip the scales of global power if unchecked, and is cause for everyone to worry, be it the colonies or Sarnwain or even the Triumvirate itself.”

In response to this growing crisis, Lord General Gorsky has called for a gathering of world leaders, including himself, the Nor Eastern Empress Marcellette Bastian, the Monteddorian High King Mario Adallantes, and Alejandro Julianos. Representatives from the Triumvirate colonies and the Sarnwainian Kingdoms are expected to attend as well.

“The aim of the summit will be founding a unified focus on the manufacturing and supply of these weapons,” the Lord General said. “We will take stock of current evidence and hopefully be able to follow the chain right to whomever is making these rifles.”

We asked Lord General Gorsky what he thought of the current leading theory, that the infamous bandit leader and Mad Mechanist, Doctor Argyle Von Grimm, was the instigator in this crisis.

“I can only theorize,” said Gorsky. “So don’t quote this as fact, but I believe Von Grimm, if involved, is merely one link in a chain being pulled by something, or someone, much larger and nefarious. However, I do not believe him to be the mastermind.”

The summit is expected to be held sometime next month, at an undisclosed, neutral location.

Blackwood Gazette #183- World Leaders Call for Summit to Discuss Appearance of Advanced Weapons Being Used by Rebel Movements

Blackwood Gazette #182- Theater Goers Protesting Venues Showing Film Version of “Dek Kanar Redak”

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

27/8- Delando’s newest artistic endeavor, a film version of his play ‘Desires of Dek Kanar Redak’, continues its downward spiral into controversy this week as theater goers have taken to KV parlors and other venues showing the film across Nor Easter to protest the film.

“There’s so much wrong with this piece, I’m not even sure where to begin,” said noted critic and expert in theatrical arts Pezzarra Belafonte. “It’s uncomfortable, it’s over-priced, and the silent nature of the films means you cannot experience the emotions of the performers’ voices. On top of that, the quality of the film itself is atrocious.”

Belafonte has spent the last month organizing the protest, coordinating with other critics around the Empire.

“It has been a most stressful endeavor,” said Belafonte. “But also a rewarding one, if we can prevent this new format from overtaking our beloved art form.”

Not all critics are behind Belafonte, however. Trestore Mariche, who lambasted the film, believes that the medium has potential, even if this particular one is a failure.

“Belafonte wants to cast film aside altogether, but I believe this is folly,” Mariche said. “It may be hard to see in ‘Redak’, but I believe that long-form and meaningful story telling might have a future with the right visionary behind it.

“’Dek Kanar Redak’s’ main issue is that Delando simply put a camera in front of the stage and filmed his performers; it’s literally just a play put to film. But imagine if the camera were put into the play itself! You could focus on a certain character while they speak, present the audience with close ups of their faces, or you could play with composition to emphasize a certain thematic element. You could intercut between two scenes at once for dramatic effect, or possibly even stage events that can’t be done on a set. Once you consider the possibilities, it blows open what can be done with drama.

“And who knows? Perhaps one day we could have a form of storytelling that actually invites the audience to direct the story themselves.”

Belafonte, when told of Mariche’s comments, simply snorted and said, “Preposterous. And dangerous. We’ve been doing it one way for centuries, and it works. We have no need to fix it! To say otherwise is…it’s preposterous, I say!”

Blackwood Gazette #182- Theater Goers Protesting Venues Showing Film Version of “Dek Kanar Redak”

Blackwood Gazette #181-Political Scholar Andoni Saldazar Stripped of Tenure, Disappears

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

26/8-Two weeks after giving an interview to the Gazette speaking out against Alejandro Julianos’ activities in the colonies, it has been reported that Andoni Saldazar, a respected political scholar and professor at the University of Monteddor, has been stripped of his tenure. He has not been seen since clearing his office and leaving the campus.

The dean of administration at the university denies that Saldazar’s termination had nothing to do with his remarks.

“This has been a long time coming,” the dean told us. “While his recent comments were troubling, he has for years been undermining the structure of the university and trying to disrupt our curriculum, proposing extreme changes to not only what is taught, but who we should teach and on what basis students should be accepted.

“His behavior as well was troubling. Whenever something didn’t go his way he’d lock himself in his office and refuse to teach. On more than one occasion he left the city without informing anyone, sometimes for days at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if his current disappearance is one such sojourn.”

However, a close friend of Saldazar, Halma Lucia Llavarado, thinks something else is afoot.

“The dean told you he never told anyone where he was going, but that isn’t true,” Llavarado said. “He always told ME. In fact he often spent that time with me. He hasn’t this time. Not a letter, or a transmiphone message, or anything. I fear that something terrible has happened, and I think a certain party might be behind it.”

While Llavarado refused to say who this certain party is, many who know Saldazar believe it is Julianos. It wouldn’t be the first time the disappearance of a political dissident has been laid at Julianos’ feet either, though it would be the most high profile.

Blackwood Gazette #181-Political Scholar Andoni Saldazar Stripped of Tenure, Disappears

Blackwood Gazette # 180- Accusations and Rivalries Flair During Walsh Race II

By Huxley Pruitt, Sports

24/8- Blood ran hot amongst the participants of the Pandion Racing League this week, as the second half of the inaugural season began with the Walsh Race II. A number of upsets and several near misses led to accusations of carelessness and cheating.

The first mishap happened before the first race even began, when Legacy League racer Aaron Deuboe, who many have taken to calling the Disappointment of Saderale due to his abysmal performance over the course of the season, reportedly cut across opponent Hardisty Pender’s flight path during takeoff. Many have questioned why a lower tier racer like Deuboe was doing racing against a top tier racer like Pender to begin with.

“It was a challenge, made by Deuboe to Pender, after Pender made light of Deuboe’s three legged dog, Locksley,” said Mathis Galland. “I approved the race, thinking a gentleman’s duel would help spice up the Legacy League’s showing after continuing criticism over the League’s rather ‘professional’ racing style. In other words, people find Legacy boring.”

This revelation has led some to question the validity of the league. Is Pandion Racing concerned with providing a legitimate test of aviation skills, or is it more concerned with putting on a show?

“Why not both?” was Galland’s only reply to that question.

The drama continued with the Horizon league the next day, as Marcy Quail took the top spot this week, knocking down Perys Kerby to second. While Kerby was cordial in abdicating his spot to Quail, the Lakenheath Twins, whom Quail defeated at Waystation Bravo, very loudly accused the colonial woman of sabotage. The accusation was then backed up by Gideon Hotoft and Jedidiah Seabury, both racers who have lost to Quail.

Hotoft, Seabury, and the Lakenheaths’ planes all showed signs of tampering. It was believed that the league’s officials would suspend Quail’s victory pending an investigation, until Kerby showed that his plane had not been tampered with in any way. Kerby suggested a conspiracy might be afoot amongst the Horizon racers to oust the lone female racer. With no evidence of either possibility, however, the officials simply issued a warning that any mechanical malfeasance would be met with expulsion from the league, and a fine of up to 5,000 gold.

The next Pandion race will be held on a new course along the coast of Rommsbach. As usual, tickets have already sold out.

Blackwood Gazette # 180- Accusations and Rivalries Flair During Walsh Race II

Blackwood Gazette #179-Letters to the Editor vol. II

By Maurice Merchant, Editor in Chief

14/8- Welcome to another installment of Letters to the Editor, an installment that we don’t do very often because the results are often depressing. Speaking of…

Terry in Terrlytown writes:

Dear Mister Merchant:

What the hell is going on at the Gazette, lately? Every story you write now seems to be about war, or people dying in weird ways, or losing their fortune, or some sort of crisis. It’s depressing, and I don’t like it. I demand that the Gazette take on a more cheerful, uplifting tone! Why not write a story about larri-cats?

Dear Entitlement Issues in Entitlement-ville,

The Gazette is a newspaper. We report the news. If the news is depressing, it is because there are depressing events occurring. And the thing about war is, it spreads. People see a person like Dougherty taking on a person like Julianos, and they start to think, “Hey, our own situation seems a lot like hers. Maybe we should do something about it!” And before you know it, there’s a rebellion in Thankaen, and then in Ganborrah, and word of rebellion in the colonies. That in turn leads to other things, like economic upheaval, or food and fuel shortages, which leads to a harsh winter in Northern Crowndon. A war isn’t just a conflict between two people. It’s a downward spiral for anyone associated with those people.

As for larri-cats, here’s one for you: last spring, a merchant sailor saved a man from a burning building. As a gift, the man the sailor saved gave him a larri-cat as a pet. But the larri-cat isn’t domesticated, and wound up chewing off the sailor’s face. Turns out, the man didn’t want to be saved…he set the fire himself. He intentionally gave the sailor a wild larri-cat as punishment for denying him his own death. That merchant sailor can’t get a job with the reputable merchant companies anymore due to his disfigurement, so he had to go to Libertine’s Roost to find work.

Have a nice day!
Chris-Anathem writes:

Mister Merchant:

Word on the streets says that Rinkenbach’s new robo-butlers are leaving their owner’s houses at odd hours and meeting in city parks after dark. There’s also rumors that one of them has been running about Oeil de Fleur, raiding liquor stores and stealing all the absinthe, and another that has taken to visiting the Owl Sanctuary in Sau Anoit. I haven’t seen none of this reported on in the Gazette. Why is that?

Dear Chris:

You haven’t seen it reported on because those rumors are just that: rumors. Most of them spread by that charlatan Oculus, over at the Ex-Humanor. We publish the news, sir. Facts. Not science fictions or the flights of fancy of every backwoods yokel. And while the new Clockwork Butler has indeed exhibited strange behavior, Rinkenbach R&D is aware of the problem and working to fix it. And besides, your postage says you are from a small town In the Middle of Nowhere, so I doubt you have to worry about any disturbance from any automaton of any sort.

Good day, sir.
Adellafan writes (oh, good lord, this person again):

i knew it…i knew it i knew i knew it…from the moment you sent adella chatelaine off to the colonies i knew somethingbad was gonna happen to her you sent her off knowing she was gonna disappear and you not doing anything about it i warned you that if something bad happened to adella that i would hold you accountable well hold on mister because a reckoning is at hand i told you i knew people and my cousin from rommsbach is going to have a word with you just as soon as he gets out of his cups which could be a while so if you know where adella is you better go find her and bring her back and don’t tell me pixie sinclaire is looking for her because it seems to me like pixie is doing everything but looking for her goodbye for now love the paper

Dear Adellafan:

You never cease to amaze me. At first I found your daily correspondence alarming, and when the news broke of my dear friend’s disappearance I found it angering and abusive. Now I just find it mildly annoying, and often amusing.

As for Pixie Sinclaire and her search, Miss Sinclaire is a woman of many talents, with a penchant for rooting out problems. While it is disheartening that her search is taking so long, I don’t expect her to overlook another situation along the way that she feels she can fix, such as the Ancroft Assassination Conspiracy. I still believe that she is the most capable person for the job, since the colonial government has all but given up their search.

Don’t worry, adellafan. I’m sure that if and when Miss Chatelaine is found, you’ll somehow be the first to know. Perhaps you’ll see it in a dream, or a chill will go down your spine, or maybe your heart will spontaneously explode from the psychic resonance or whatever else you likely believe in.

Also, I noticed you’ve discovered the ellipsis. Now if you could only learn how to use the period. It’s like the ellipsis, except there’s only one dot instead of three and you use them to break up sentences. Nifty, yes?

This is the last time I will respond to you. Good day.

Blackwood Gazette #179-Letters to the Editor vol. II

Blackwood Gazette #178- More Julianos Ships Depart for Newlands

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddor Correspondent

13/8- Despite suffering two major military losses in the last month, the commander of Monteddor’s military forces, Alejandro Julianos, seems to be doubling down on his expeditionary forces in the colonies.

A second flotilla of ships left port earlier this week, heading west over the Barrier Ocean. Unlike last time, the Julianos camp acknowledged the departure with a brief statement.

“We are supplementing our initial force in the colony of Sal Diello with a further ten ships and over 100 personnel,” the statement read. “As for recent criticism directed at Julianos alleging that he has pushed aside the war with Dougherty to pursue some frivolous endeavor in the Newlands, such worries are unfounded. The peoples of the Monteddorian Empire must have faith that the Newland Endeavor is in their best interest, and that Julianos is fully able to oversee both the expedition and the war.”

The statement has left several critics of Julianos, most notably political scholar Andoni Saldazar, either scratching their heads or outright angry.

“This is a man who has no respect for his people,” Saldazar said. “He asks us to take it on ‘faith’. Faith! Julianos is just a man…an extremely powerful man, but a man nonetheless, who came to power without the benefits of political experience. If he would just pull back the veil of secrecy concerning what he’s looking for in the Newlands, it would go a long way to assuaging the concerns being leveled at him. But no, we are expected to accept his allocation of military resources to some unknown side project overseas while Blackwood facilities are burning and the citizens of Monteddor are dying.”

Saldazar says that he is in contact with several other prominent names in Monteddorian academia, and that they plan to petition an audience with High King Mario Adallantes to discuss reigning in the military commander or seeking Triumvirate Authority intervention, though many believe that Adallantes is no more than a puppet.*

*It should be noted that this is not a sentiment officially endorsed by the Monteddorian branch of the Blackwood Gazette. The Gazette does feel, however, that it is an important point of view in these events.

Blackwood Gazette #178- More Julianos Ships Depart for Newlands

Blackwood Gazette #177- Drunken Fist Fight Breaks Out Between McKilroy and La Pierre in Small Sarnwainian Port

By Basilio Mura, Nor Eastern Correspondent

12/8- A fist fight broke out between two people in a small port on the east coast of Sarnwain earlier this week. Normally, a fist fight between two drunkards wouldn’t be a news worthy item, but the alleged identity of the participants makes it so.

Witnesses to the event say that an already inebriated Captain La Pierre entered the tavern at around 2200 hours. He proceeded to order three pints of house grog, four shots of whiskey, and a Thankai ox cheese and pulled pork crisp sampler. As he was downing the last of his ale, another patron approached him.

This second patron, described as “a woman, around six feet tall with a metal arm and only half a face”, pulled La Pierre from his bar stool and began hurling slurred expletives at him.

“The Captain, he got up and looked at the woman with this look on his face like he didn’t know what was going on,” said one witness to the event, a local fisherman. “Then recognition came over his face, and he charged at her.”

La Pierre allegedly tried to push the woman aside, who patrons believe to be the pirate hunter Johanna McKilroy. McKilroy grabbed La Pierre around the waist and pulled him down, sending him crashing into a nearby table.

“The two of them started going at it like a pair of nunakttan howler-treevils after mating,” said the tavern owner. “Punching, biting, kicking and trying to gouge out one another’s eyes. Everyone in the bar was pushed up against the wall, afraid to get in their way. Half my glasses were shattered, they took out most of the shelves behind the bar, and eventually the two of them went through the tavern’s back wall.”

The fight continued outside, where residents of the village say the crews of the Pernicious Platitude and Dismissive Smile had already started tearing each other apart on the docks.

“I’ll never forget the sight of it,” said another witness. “These two drunken maniacs slugging it out along the dock while their crew men dueled around them, all silhouetted against the full moon hanging over the ocean.”

By the end of the brawl, witnesses say the two captains were both on their knees, covered in blood and booze, swinging ineffectively at each other in their exhaustion.

“The whole thing just kind of fizzled out,” said the tavern owner. “Even the crews stopped fighting each other to stop and watch the captains as they tried to throw their fists at each other, only to miss half the time.”

The brawl ended when someone announced that the Thankai army was on its way. The crews of both airships retrieved their respective captains and flew off in separate directions.

As he was being taken away, La Pierre is said to have shouted, “One month, we finish this. In the skies over where we first met!”

McKilroy was heard to reply, ”I’ll be looking forward to it, you Northern bastard!”

It is believed that the location where they first met is the Crowndon Academy of Aeronautical Warfare, which both attended during their time in the Air Corps. As such, the Crowndon Air Corps is already preparing for their arrival.

“It’s high time these two idiots are taken down,” said Admiral Winston Johannes said. “Thanks to their penchant for drunken theatrics, we now know where they’ll both be and when.”

Blackwood Gazette #177- Drunken Fist Fight Breaks Out Between McKilroy and La Pierre in Small Sarnwainian Port

Blackwood Gazette #176- Frontier Town Comes Under Attack; Doctor Argyle Von Grimm Orchestrating Conflicts, Marshals Say

By Chester Seaton, News

11/8- The colonial frontier runs red with blood as the Colonial Marshals report that a small frontier town was attacked by a Duv-Ayid raiding party late last week. The Marshals report over sixty fatalities on both sides.

“The initial conclusion reached by many is that the Duv-Ayid attacked a town unprovoked,” said Lieutenant Stanley Field, an officer with the Marshals sent to investigate the incident. “The remainder of the town and several of my men have their blood up and are looking for a fight, but I believe this would be folly.”

The reason for Fielder’s conclusion?

“For one, Duv-Ayid scouts have been spotted along the plains of the frontier for more than a month now. Thus far they have made no acts of aggression beyond their mere presence, and we have standing orders not to engage unless they act first.

“Secondly, and this is the most curious aspect, several of those killed during the attack have clockwork prostheses similar to those worn by Doctor Argyle Von Grimm’s gang. This wouldn’t be too surprising, were these dead on one side of the fight or the other. But these prostheses were found amongst the dead of both the Duv-Ayid and the townspeople.”

This strange development has led Fielder to develop a disturbing theory.

“It is my belief that Von Grimm has manipulated both sides into conflict. Not only that, but I believe that Von Grimm is the man responsible for supplying the Duv-Ayid with the advanced rifles they used during the attack.

“Furthermore, it is my belief that Von Grimm has not only supplied the Duv-Ayid with these weapons, but the separatists who tried to assassinate governor Ancroft as well. It’s also entirely possible that he is supplying these weapons to the Dougherty rebellion in Monteddor, as well as the recent military coups in Thankaen and Ganborrah.

These conclusions lead one to wonder how a bandit in the colonies could have such a far reaching influence, however. After all, early conjecture about the possibility of Von Grimm supplying these weapons were shot down as being ludicrous.

“People forget that Von Grimm’s career didn’t begin in the colonies…he was a menace for decades in Nor Easter,” Fielder said. “He also has had dealings with the Royals in Monteddor. The man is connected, and he’s a technical mastermind. Some say he’s on par with Rinkenbach, if Rinkenbach were actively malevolent rather than carelessly aloof.

“If anyone has the the mind, the motivation, and the resources to enact such a far reaching conspiracy of unrest, I’d say it’s Von Grimm. It’s always been Von Grimm, and people seem to have forgotten that fact.”

Blackwood Gazette #176- Frontier Town Comes Under Attack; Doctor Argyle Von Grimm Orchestrating Conflicts, Marshals Say

Blackwood Gazette #175- Sir Rigel Rinkenbach Returns to Oeil de Fleur; Is Promptly Arrested

Basilio Mura, Nor Eastern Correspondent

10/8- A man claiming to be Sir Rigel Rinkenbach was detained outside of a Rinkenbach R&D warehouse in Oeil de Fleur this weekend. Police say that he was beating on the door, demanding to be let in and ripping down the Imperial seizure notices plastered onto the building. He also had the remains of a dead owl in a cage with him.

“That’s how I knew it was him,” said the arresting officer. “That owl. What is that, like the fifth one, now?”

After being detained, Rinkenbach was taken to Oeil de Fleur’s main precinct and interviewed.

“He wasn’t exactly forthcoming about where he’d been or what prompted his disappearance,” said the police chief. “But we couldn’t get him to shut up about why he’d come back. Something about releasing an inferior product and slapping his name on it, followed by a rant about the value of his name and intellectual property interspersed with demands for jam biscuits and tea. Nonsense, mostly. You know how these auteurs can be.”

Rinkenbach was held in isolation overnight, before being picked up by several men dressed in the uniform of Empress Marcelette Bastian’s private guardsman.

“They didn’t state any reason why, and they didn’t need to,” the chief said. “When it comes to the Imperial Guard, you don’t get in their way unless you want to end up strapped to the bottom of an air ship, scraping paint off the hull. But it isn’t exactly a secret that Her Imperial Majesty and Rinkenbach have a thing. And let me tell you, Rinkenbach was not pleased at all about being turned over to their custody.”

The Imperial Palace has yet to issue a statement on the matter, despite requests for comment.

Blackwood Gazette #175- Sir Rigel Rinkenbach Returns to Oeil de Fleur; Is Promptly Arrested

A Random Bit of Something I’m Working On

The following is just a little excerpt of something I’m working on. A little bit of context: the Nor Eastern spy, Pixie Sinclaire, has hired Roderick La Pierre and the crew of the Pernicious Platitude to retrieve a certain something for some certain people. That certain something appears to be more than it seems and Rigel Rinkenbach wants to discuss it with the Captain. Never mind how Rigel Rinkenbach came to be on La Pierre’s ship…that’s all explained in Where, No One Knows. I just thought I’d offer a more up close and personal view of life in the Blackwood Empire that isn’t provided by the Gazette. Enjoy!


“Evenin’, Captain.” La Pierre turns from the deck railing to find one of his crewmen leaning against a bulkhead.


“The Nor Easterner wants to talk to you below decks.”

La Pierre curls his lip in disdain. Below decks has always been an unpleasant place. It’s where the crew sleeps, and where they keep the cargo. Sometimes that cargo stinks, especially that one time they had to smuggle a herd of Caldebek Plains sheep across the empire. They were attacked, the sheep got spooked, and they all crapped themselves at once. To make matters worse, they had fed the sheep the wrong kind of grain the night before, so the sheep crap was of a less than normal consistency…seeped right through the floor boards, it did. They must have fertilized half of the Crowndonian plains for the next year, that day.

Even worse than that, by far, is the fact that Rinkenbach has set up his lab below decks, and labs freak La Pierre right the hell out. He just doesn’t understand it, all that science stuff. That lab has all manner of strangely shaped glassware that casts eerie reflections upon the wall, and Rinkenbach likes to work by the disconcerting green hues of eldri-gas lanterns. Which La Pierre also doesn’t understand, because the Eldri-gas lanterns are the one piece of equipment in the joint that Rinkenbach doesn’t hold some sort of patent on.

La Pierre once asked Rinkenbach if he thought it a bit uncouth, only buying stuff he owned. Rinkenbach found the question ridiculous. Why shouldn’t he? He developed most of the equipment out of necessity, out of a need to work with something that didn’t exist, so, he invented it. No reason to go anywhere else. (Except in the case of the Eldri-Gas Lantern, which is something he didn’t KNOW he needed, at least not until he had used it.)

“Yes, sir. Below decks.”

“Very well.”

La Pierre nods and walks past Grimley, who just stays at his spot against the bulkhead. Kind of strange, but La Pierre doesn’t really take much notice. He heads below deck, to Rigel’s lair…um, lab.

He stops at the hatch and prepares himself, then opens the hatch. As soon as he does, a flash of light fills the room and a geyser of smoke jumps into the air from behind a table.

La Pierre starts coughing uncontrollably, waving his hands ineffectually in front of his beet red face in a futile attempt at clearing the air around him of the noxious whatever the hell it is that explosion just produced. Rigel pops up from behind the counter with his back to La Pierre.


Rinkenbach turns around. He is wearing thick lab goggles. He reaches up and peels the goggles away from his eyes. His hair is blown back and the tip of one tendril of hair is glowing orange and smoking. Thick soot covers his face except for his eyes.

“Ah, captain. You made it. And this…” he gestures to the mess on the table before him. “This is dinner!”

He reaches down and pulls out a crock pot full of a putrid green mush.

“Spinach and artichoke soufflé!” he says proudly. “Lightly glazed in sweet butter and spiced with plains bone salts. I’m told that it is a Crowndonian specialty. A little taste of home, for you. I thought you’d appreciate it!”

“Um…” La Pierre looks at the dish, wincing. The spinach and artichoke soufflé glazed in sweet butter (which isn’t sweet, and isn’t butter, it’s lard) and spiced with plains bone salts (which isn’t salt, it’s finely ground bone powder), is indeed a Crowndonian specialty, but it was something devised at a time in Crowndon’s history that is better left to memory. It is a dish concocted due to necessity rather than desire, by a group of about 10,000 Crowndonian soldiers who were captured during a war three hundred years before. They were kept in a prison camp deep in Monteddor and abandoned by their captors. They subsided purely on what they had on hand…namely spinach, artichokes, and pigs.

The event of their rescue was something celebrated throughout the Crowndon military, a well worn tradition in which every soldier under Crowndon’s banner was made to eat nothing but the soufflé for an entire week. He’d shoveled his share of the muck down his gullet for years and never wanted to do so again.

“That’s very considerate…I think. Tell me this isn’t the sole reason you had me come down here.”

“What? I didn’t ask for you to come down here.”


“Oh, but I do have something to show you!”

“But…” before La Pierre has time to process the information that Grimley just lied to him, Rinkenbach grabs the sleeve of his coat and pulls him over to a nearby work bench.

“I was a bit curious about what Pixie had hired us to retrieve for her, so I had Klaus get into the safe we pulled from the passenger ship. Inside was this!”

Rigel points at a green jewel, suspended over another work bench by a strange, vice like apparatus. It is unlike anything La Pierre has ever seen before, cut into a strange eight sided shape, none of the sides the same size. It is the size of his fist. Visions of money spread through his mind.

“What is it?” La Pierre asks. His next immediate question is whether or not it’s more valuable than the salary Pixie Sinclaire has offered to pay for the jewel, but he refrains from asking it. Any intention of screwing over Sinclaire would lead to unnecessary trouble with Rigel, who is obviously smitten with the woman. The two have a past that La Pierre only knows a few details about, but he knows enough to know that much.

“I have no idea,” Rigel says. “But look at this.”

Rigel flips a switch and the bench lights up, illuminating the jewel. He taps on the jewel, and something inside, some sort of powder, shifts.


“It isn’t a jewel. There’s something inside of it. It’s a container. I am willing to bet that whatever Pixie or whoever Pixie is working for is after, it isn’t a jewel, but whatever that substance is.”

“Can you find out what it is?”

“Not without opening it, and that would be a horrendous breach of Pixie’s trust on my part, even more egregious than the breach I’ve already committed by opening the safe. I can hide the safe. I can’t hide opening the jewel.”

“Do it, and tell her I ordered it.”

“Very well. That’s what I was intending to tell her about the safe, anyhow. I just hope it’s enough to keep her ire directed toward you.”

A Random Bit of Something I’m Working On