From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Curse whoever decided to rest the future of our great society on the Blackwood grove!

Oh, wait. That was me. I can’t rightly curse myself, now can I? I could, I suppose, but why would I want to? I must find someone else to blame.

Perhaps I should blame that infernal automaton that announced to the world that I was working on the formula at the Industry and Innovation Conference. But who built the automaton?

I did, and I presented. And I let the audience ask it questions. So that won’t do.

I could blame that idiot in Des Anges for letting Nor Easter on to my trail. Then again, I was the idiot that trusted him. So once again, the blame rests squarely on my shoulders, down along that path.

What of the Empress’ protection detail? The ones that were supposed to watch my every move? Marcelette had taken it upon herself to jump between an assassin’s bullet and myself…and therein lies the problem. She’d been trying to protect ME.

Me, me, me. The blame all lay on me. Rigel Rinkenbach, the most brilliant alchemist and inventor in the Triumvirate, sole heir to the knowledge of Blackwood transmogrification.

The sad fact remains, that there is no one to blame for my incarceration on this humid rock in the middle of the Pyrossi Ocean other than myself. And there is nothing for me to do but dwell on that fact.

Oh, I suppose I could try focusing on my studies. These pirates holding me, charged by some unknown benefactor with keeping me in check, have provided me with substantial, if rudimentary, materials for working on the Blackwood formulae. My heart isn’t in it, however. I’ve no absinthe, no feather bed. My prized baby grand sits in a decrepit apartment in Oeil de Fleur, no doubt gathering dust.

The only concession to my comfort that these brutes have given me is young Gossamer IV, an owlet of the local variety. And a noisy variety at that. I might consider letting this one go of my own accord, but I’m unsure the thing is even capable of flight.

I believe the one thing holding me back from my formulation, however, is my conscience. Yes, despite the public perception, I do have one, and with no knowledge of who it was that has kidnapped me and pressed me into their service, the inconvenient thing has made itself known.

“You really shouldn’t be making this for these people,” it says to me.

“Why?” I ask it, trying to focus on my ‘scientific’ implements.

“Because these people are bad,” it replies.

“Bad? What does that even mean? Who decides who is bad?”

“You do,” my conscience says. Well, I can’t really argue with myself, now, can I? I am a genius, after all.

***

Something is happening outside. It sounds like some sort of attack! Finally, something exciting in this place!

It began with an explosion somewhere along the north western perimeter of the old fort these pirates are using as their base. Pirates, lacking any reckoning for subtlety or grace, are currently racing across the yard with sword and flintlock drawn. Even one of the two guards outside has run away toward it.

Brutes, all of them, to fall for such an obvious diversionary tactic.

Oh! Is someone effecting a rescue for me? That would be fantastic. In my studies, I’ve created no less than thirty two varieties of highly unstable Falsewood. I suppose I could whip up a quick batch using Gossamer IV’s bones…no, I couldn’t. I’m not particularly fond of this particular owl, but I will not murder it, not even to save myself.

Whoever it is storming the gates of this place obviously knows what they are doing. I’ll just sit back and wait.

***

Hello! *cough cough* Ack. Let me knock away some of this dust. Just thought I’d drop a little something something onto this blog. The above is presently the first couple of pages of my new project, a novel with the working title of “The Ballad of Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire”.

I say they’re ‘presently’ the first pages because I’m currently in the very early stages of ‘let’s get the the ideas on paper, and worry about specifics later’, so I’m not sure the above will even make it into the final draft. I haven’t even decided what POV to use for the book yet. I thought journal entries, like the one above, but that often leads to weird scenes where shit is going down and the character is writing about it, rather than trying to stay alive (PUT THE CAMERA DOWN, YOU FOOLS!). The alternative is to have the character write about it after the fact, and that always comes across as passive. I may just settle on a standard first or third person format. I’m currently leaning toward first, because it’s similar to the journal idea while letting the characters be present in whatever events are unfolding. I also enjoy being in these people’s heads for some reason. Not sure why, they’re all completely bat-shit crazy.

In any case, that uncertainty is what makes a new project exciting! At least for me, anyway, from the writer’s perspective.

I hope to have the thing done by the end of the year, taking a break every now and then to post an excerpt or maybe a short story. The main issue I’m facing right now is that I’ve got three years worth of material to expand upon (much of which is stuff I’d forgotten about, like that Racing League story, or that thing with the albino locusts). The last month has been spent researching my own work to nail down the timeline between Rigel’s breakdown in Greenlille and his little adventure with Pixie in Sarnwain….and you have no idea how fucking weird it was for me to realize and admit that. I hope it doesn’t come off as self indulgent. It did, didn’t it?

*awkward pause*

Speaking of short stories, I’ve got one in the hopper. It’s pretty much done, but I wanted to do an illustration for it. Problem is, I’m not an illustrator, so producing a image I’m happy with takes FOREVER. Hopefully I’ll have it ready in the next couple of weeks).

At any rate, thanks for letting me ramble, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little aside. More to come!

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From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Blackwood Gazette #300- Curtains Down: New Delando Play Opens in Oeil de Fleur and Nobody Came to the Party

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

3/1/283-The Empress Theatre in Oeil de Fleur has spent the last month getting ready for the premiere of Delando’s newest play, hoping to pull in another record breaking crowd. Unfortunately, either people didn’t get the message or ignored it, because nobody of import showed up.

“The opening was a disaster,” said promoter Rean Marcelle. “We spent hundreds of thousands on advertising alone. But still, we have a table full of seafood and cheeses just sitting in the lobby, stinking up the place. It was so bad. Not even Delando showed up.”

The small group of curious souls who did attend, however, were led by Delando super fan Bartolomew Bartlesby Bartlette (a nom de plume culled from Delando’s earlier works.) Bartlette, however was not allowed inside the theater.

“I’ve been blacklisted,” Bartlette told us. “Earlier this year I organized a protest when we found out that this new play wasn’t part of the Ichthylliad saga. You ask me, that’s the reason no one was interested. I only showed up so I could tear it a new one, maybe throw an egg or two. Guess I didn’t need to do anything after all. I mean, look! We’re standing on Empress Boulevard on Saturday night and its damn near empty! So sad.”

Marcelle echoed Bartlette’s sentiments. “I guess Delando is a one trick pony. When people come to see Delando, what they really want is Ichthylliad. We knew we might take a hit, what with a completely new story, and that whole Heisenberg incident, and that story about Rochelle Walsh, and…you know, the more I think about Delando, the more I want to wretch.”

Despite the disastrous turnout, the show was put on, for an audience of about thirty, in an auditorium that holds 600. Of the ten people that remained at the show’s end, reception was mixed.

“I enjoyed it, and actually felt that the dour atmosphere helped it,” said critic Henri Guillemot. “There’s a character in the play who makes jokes at completely inappropriate times. The small audience guaranteed that laughter at these jokes would be sparse, and the ham-fisted delivery in such a large open space rang loudly, and true. Honestly, it should only be performed this way.”

“I [expletive removed] hated it,” said Alicia Vidillia, a student at OdFU. “The story line was vulgar, as was the guy who played the corpse in the second act. He kept winking at me while lying on the stage, pretending to be dead. Disgusting.”

Marcelle says that the play will be pulled from the Empress theatre’s lineup, and he must now struggle to find a new show for the stage.

“We’re bleeding money, because of this. Damn Delando.”

Delando, as usual, was unavailable for comment.

***

And, that’s a wrap, folks. At least for now. I’m putting the Gazette on indefinite hold for the time being, though it could pop up from time to time in the future. The whole thing got a little unwieldy this year, and quite frankly a little joyless as I succumbed to Cerebus Syndrome and started to get more invested, personally, in the story I was telling. The gazette was primarily meant to be FUN, dammit. A lot of the stories I told this year were just depressing. I need to pull back, reconfigure, and revise a lot of what I’ve already written. As of number 300, the word document containing the Gazette is a hefty 115,000 words over 343 pages (unformatted).

When I first started this thing, I wanted the stories in the Gazette to coincide with longer narratives, short stories, novellas and such that told the truth of what happened, and I failed to deliver on that end, aside from last year’s The Lelina Horror’. So, going forward, in 2017, I want to focus on some of those longer narratives.A True Account of Waystation Bravo already exists in a completed first draft. A couple more pass-overs and I should be ready to show it off. I’ve also started work on the tale of Pavetta Janvier and her investigation into the Southward Slayings. Hopefully I can get that out this year, as well.

On the backburner, I’ve still got the woefully incomplete ‘Shroom Job, which I started way back when. I recently revisited it and found myself at a loss as to where I was going with it. It’s still a part of the plan, though, given that some of those characters have important roles to play throughout.

In the planning stages, I have what is tentatively titled the ‘Ballad of Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire’. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell since I came up with the idea of Blackwood Empire and while I was writing the series’ sole published novel, ‘Where, No One Knows’. Now that I’ve set up the tale of their adventures across Sarnwain, I feel like I have a pretty good framing device for their tumultuous relationship.

Other ideas are still little seeds, and I’ll be evaluating their potential as I go. There’s a lot of threads dangling throughout the course of the Gazette. Who was knocking off Monteddorian military officers? What happened to Veronica Trenum’s expedition into the Deadlands? And that mysterious organization that attacked the Triumvirate last year sure was quiet this year…or were they? Oooh, mystery! Intrigue! Spies and gunslingers, pirates and assassins! Shadowy organizations and ancient mysteries! I’m really eager to dig into the larger Blackwood Empire, and hopefully share it with you.

So hold on tight. It gets pretty windy on the Imperial Skyways.

Blackwood Gazette #300- Curtains Down: New Delando Play Opens in Oeil de Fleur and Nobody Came to the Party

Blackwood Gazette #299- Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre Delivers Precious Cargo To Nor Eastern Shores On Advent’s Eve

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

3/1/283-Triumvirate Authorities claim that on the night of Advent’s Eve, a large group of people were discovered on a beach on the eastern coast of Oeil de Fleur. Among them was Ada Herschel, the science and technology writer for the Blackwood Gazette’s now defunct Crowndon Branch, as well as several other former staffers arrested for sedition.

How did they come to be there? Ada Herschel told me herself, and it’s a doozy.

“About a week before Mister Merchant was executed, they pulled us [the seditionists] out of our cells, along with several others arrested for dissent. They told us they were moving us to another location and put us all on an air ship. We began heading south, or at least I think it was south.

“We were out over the ocean, about a day and a half into our journey, when we were attacked. We were all down below, but we could hear the fighting, the boom of canon and shots of flintlock. Eventually the door to our hold flew up and several guards rushed in. The attackers pushed them back into the cargo hold and barred the door. One of the pirates stopped outside my cell and looked in, and he smiled.

“To my surprise, it wasn’t a malicious smile, but a kind one. He was a young man, didn’t really look like a pirate. Wore a red scarf and had a tinge of Romms in his accent. Came to find out later that it was Klaus Klaudhopper, the notorious bandit. He and the other pirates let us out of our cells and we found ourselves on the Pernicious Platitude itself.

“We all asked to see the captain, Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre, but they said La Pierre wanted nothing to do with us, just to get us off his ship. We thought we would be thrown overboard, but such wasn’t the case. They brought us all the way to Nor Easter, and dropped us off at the beach, under cover of night, before flying away.

“I’ve no idea why La Pierre rescued us. Maybe he was hired, maybe he thought he was attacking a cargo ship, and got us instead. Either way, it worked out for us in the end. They gave us food…not much, and it was kind of moldy, but it was better than what we’d been getting in prison. Whatever the reason, I’m just glad to be free.”

Miss Herschel and the others have been granted political asylum in Nor Easter. Triumvirate Authorities say they are hunting for Captain La Pierre, but have found no trace so far.

Blackwood Gazette #299- Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre Delivers Precious Cargo To Nor Eastern Shores On Advent’s Eve