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.

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

Blackwood Gazette #248- Klaus Klaudhopper Leads Daring Assault on Walsh Penitentiary, Absconds with Assassination Suspect Arufina Villanova

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

20/7/282-Crowndon has suffered another embarrassing blow this weekend after the prime suspect in the Pillar Assassinations, Arufina Villanova, escaped from Walsh penitentiary. The escape occurred during a full scale assault on the complex by associates of the assassin, Crowndon officials say.

“It all started around midnight,” the warden of the facility told us. “There was a disturbance in the east wing, a fire. When officers responded to the fire, all hell broke loose. Inmates all over the prison were released from their cells.”

In the ensuing chaos, the prisons spotlights were focused on the prison grounds. As a result, no one noticed the air ship entering the prison’s air space.

“Just when we started getting the inmates under control, these people come rappelling down into the yard, firing six guns,” the warden said. “They took out an entire platoon of my guards before even touching the ground. Around eight of them were women, wearing leather jackets like the one Villanova wore when taken into custody. Too bad no one noticed that fact until after it was all over.

“There was one man with them, a short guy with a red scarf. He had two of those infernal six shooters. TWO! He might as well have been made of bullets!”

After setting down in the yard, the group cut their way into the facility. The warden says that attempts to seal off sections of the prison were ineffective.

“I think they may have had someone on the inside, who started the fire and sabotaged locking mechanisms on the gates between wings. They marched right through the prison, practically unopposed except for a few poor souls who fell under the fire of their six guns. All we had were flints! Bloody flints! Why flints are still the standard amongst law enforcement and military in this day and age is beyond me.”

All told, the warden says the assault lasted ten minutes.

“It was so strange. They entered the solitary wing, where we had Villanova locked up, and never came back out. We followed them, found Villanova missing. A few minutes later everything was under control. The air ship disappeared after dropping the attackers; far as we know, it never picked them back up. Just damn strange.”

Given the suspect involved, it is believed that the people who attacked the prison were members of the Scarlet Circle (which the Triumvirate Authority denies even exists). The description of the man matches that of known Villanova associate Klaus Klaudhopper. Both are suspected of involvement in the Waystation Bravo disaster, and Klaudhopper is wanted in the colonies for suspected involvement with the Von Grimm gang. He was last seen fleeing the colonies aboard what is believed to be the Pernicious Platitude, a pirate air ship belonging to former Crowndonian Admiral Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre.

Blackwood Gazette #248- Klaus Klaudhopper Leads Daring Assault on Walsh Penitentiary, Absconds with Assassination Suspect Arufina Villanova

Blackwood Gazette #240-Pillar Assassinations Breakthrough as Yves Law Enforcement Takes Suspect into Custody

By Chester Seaton, News

23/5/282- A major development took place concerning the murders of several prominent members of Triumvirate society this weekend, after officers in Yves took a suspect into custody Saturday night.

The arrest happened due to the efforts of the recently suspended Inspector Pavetta Janvier, who had been working on the case since it broke several months ago.

“I was put onto the trail of the suspect by an anonymous source,” Janvier told us. “It wasn’t much to go on at first, but with a little bit of effort and hostile persuasion, I was led to a small living space in Autumn Nook, on the south side.”

The living space, Janvier says, appears to have been used as a safe house of sorts for several individuals over the course of the last decade.

“The scene inside that apartment looks less like a crime scene and more like an archeological dig. The space is covered with various notes written in a hundred different hands and languages. The wooden walls and posts are marked with various tallies and archaic symbols—two of these sets appear to be some kind of macabre scoreboard. The one on the left seems to have won, a bloody hand print and aborted scratching on the right the only grisly evidence of what might have happened to the loser.”

The current occupant, and suspect, was found sleeping within when officers entered. Despite being caught off guard, apprehending the suspect proved costly.

“Traps had been set up throughout the small space leading from all points of ingress to where the suspect slept,” Janvier said. “They were densely packed, well hidden, and meticulously designed so as not to hurt the person who set them. We lost two men outright, and another four were injured, before the suspect even woke up and joined the fray.”

The suspect, a woman in her late twenties, standing over six feet tall and wearing long, raven black hair, was roused from her sleep. She pulled a six gun and opened fire, killing six more men.

“She was subdued while reloading,” Janvier says. “One of our officers was lucky enough to rush into the room and avoid setting something off. There was a scuffle, and he earned a broken nose for his trouble, but the woman was subdued.”

Further details about the woman in custody are being withheld at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped theories. The fact that she wielded a six gun and matches almost perfectly the description of a woman seen shooting up a town in the colonies last year has led many to speculate the suspect is one Arufina Villanova, an alleged assassin with the secretive and legendary Scarlet Circle.

As rewards for her efforts, Inspector Pavetta Janvier has been fully reinstated to her position.

Blackwood Gazette #240-Pillar Assassinations Breakthrough as Yves Law Enforcement Takes Suspect into Custody

Blackwood Gazette #190- Tense Gunfight Between Pixie Sinclaire and Several Unidentified Parties Leaves Point Hammond in Shambles

By Maurice Merchant, Editor in Chief

16/9-Nor Eastern agent provocateur Pixie Sinclaire continues to make waves in the Colonies, as she found herself involved with a stunning outbreak of violence in the town of Point Hammond earlier this week.

Point Hammond was the last point of contact for the ill-fated Lelina Expedition, and Miss Sinclaire’s search led her to the town (which was ordered evacuated five months ago, though many citizens refused to leave). Miss Sinclaire is said to have been seen walking down the town’s main thoroughfare, asking for any information about the expedition amongst the town’s remaining citizens.

Miss Sinclaire had just exited a local feed store when several shots rang out. Witnesses say that the shots were directed at Sinclaire.

“She’d just walked out of Masterson’s,” said 52 year old James Warner. “I remember taking notice of her, because she was a stranger, and that red hair stands out around here. Anyway, shots rang out and the street muck around her starts spraying up. I didn’t see anything else, because I got the hell out of there.”

Another witness, a bar maid watching from the second story of the local saloon, saw what happened next.

“The ginger wasn’t hit, I don’t think,” the bar maid, named Alice, said. “She didn’t panic either. Just dove right into a nearby alley, like it was the most natural thing in the world. I was terrified, myself, but I didn’t hide. I couldn’t stop watching.

“After she ducked for cover, and the people on the street had scattered, a bunch of people dressed all in black rushed out into the street. They all had these weird guns I’d never seen the likes of before.

“They went right for that alley the ginger ran into. They covered it with their guns. Of a sudden, I heard a BANG! In the alley. Things went deathly silent for a bit, and the guys in black, they all stopped. Then this body comes flying out of the alley, all dressed in black, like them. Then four more shots, BANG BANG BANG BANG! Come out of the alley, and four of the guys in the street fall down, clutching their legs and arms. That’s when the rest of them rushed the alley.

“I thought the ginger might be done for, when more shots rang out. They were really loud, because they were coming from the roof right above my head. That’s when I looked up and saw this second woman with a rifle.

“She was a giant, 7 foot if she was an inch, with long black hair blowing in the wind. The Black Suits turned around, but she took out about four of them before they could figure where she was coming from. They started shooting at the saloon, and that was the limit of my taste for the spectacle, as I ran inside and huddled down in the hallway with my friend Gertie.”

Various reports from other witnesses offer only a sporadic view of events. Many don’t mention the second, unidentified woman with the rifle, though one unsubstantiated report claims that in addition to engaging the men in black uniforms, she also fired rounds at Miss Sinclaire whenever she deigned to emerge from the cover of the buildings.

Eventually, it is said that Miss Sinclaire fled south, into the woods around the town, while the remaining men in black uniforms fled north on horseback, but not before collecting their wounded and dead. At least one report claims that Sinclaire appeared to be clutching her side. A nearby platoon of Colonial Marshals searched for the group, but found no trace of them, nor of the rifle-woman, nor of Pixie Sinclaire.

“Damnedest thing ever,” said the Marshals’ platoon leader. “The only evidence that anything happened are that people said it happened and a few bullet holes in the buildings. It’s like everyone involved just up and disappeared into the ether.”

Blackwood Gazette #190- Tense Gunfight Between Pixie Sinclaire and Several Unidentified Parties Leaves Point Hammond in Shambles

Blackwood Empire: The Rogues Gallery, Vol. I

Last week I did a Blackwood Gazette accompanied by a mock wanted poster. I had a lot of fun making that poster, so I decided to do a bunch more for some of the major players in these stories. Enjoy!

Keep away from cats!
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Steampunk Outlaw. Also, kind of a troll.
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That's quite the resume...
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Vintage Rinkenbach...
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He's his own worst enemy, really...
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Blackwood Empire: The Rogues Gallery, Vol. I

Blackwood Gazette #3: Politician Killed in Purrrfect Assassination (sorry)

The Governor of Walsh, Thedore Francis Williamsburg of Thorndyke the Third, was found dead this morning. Cause of death: he was suffocated…with his pet cat, Peaches.

“It was the strangest thing I ever saw,” said Governor Williamsburg’s maid, who discovered the body. “I came into the room, to wake [the governor], and found him dead, covered in cat hair.”

Inspectors say that the death was likely foul play. When asked about the motive and possible suspects, they refused to comment. That hasn’t stopped members of the Governor’s social circle from speculating.

“If you ask me,” said one prominent friend of the deceased who asked to remain anonymous, “It was the Scarlet Circle. This has their stench about it, believe me. They specialize in this kind of [madness]. Who knows who’s going to be next? Worse, who knows how they’re going to go?”

No one seemed all that shaken up about the Governor’s death. The question on most peoples’ tongues is the welfare of the cat. House staff report that Peaches is unharmed, if a bit traumatized.

“Let’s see how you feel after being used as a murder weapon,” said the maid. “She was huddled up in the corner, hissing at anyone that came near. Poor thing.”

More on this story as it develops.

Related: Character Profile-Arufina Villanova

More Blackwood Gazette!

Blackwood Gazette #3: Politician Killed in Purrrfect Assassination (sorry)

Character Profile- Arufina Villanova

Arufina_Portrait

Arufina Villanova is a member of a society of assassins known as the Scarlett Circle, an organization trumped in mystery and cloak-and-dagger-ness by only the Ephemeral Cartographers. Her older sister was a Cartographer before the war, and Aru might have been as well. Something else happened, however, and Arufina’s sister disappeared, putting Arufina on the run.

Continue reading “Character Profile- Arufina Villanova”

Character Profile- Arufina Villanova