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

Blackwood Gazette #298- Crowndon Branch of the Gazette to Shutter its Doors Following Execution of Owner Maurice Merchant

By Jeanne Dupris, Editor in Chief

30/12/282- While the victory over Sarnwain has given Nor Easter a reason to celebrate, I am unable to share in the same jubilation. Word has come in that Maurice Merchant, owner and proprietor of the Blackwood Gazette, has been executed by firing squad in Crowndon.

Maurice Merchant was a close friend and colleague, and to many of us in the field, he is now a martyr. We tried our hardest to have Mister Merchant spared, even resorting to measures we aren’t ready to talk about, but in the end, it was for naught.

In the wake of Mister Merchant’s execution, the Crowndon Ministry of Information Distribution announced that the Blackwood Gazette in Crowndon is no more, as the name is now considered tainted within the Crowndon Empire. Its staff (most notably that spineless lap dog, Chester Seaton, whom it was revealed testified against Mister Merchant, the son of his best friend and former mentor), will be rolled into the Ministry.

The Nor Eastern Branch of the Gazette (which I suppose is now the main branch of the Gazette) will proudly carry the name forward. I only hope we can continue to live up to the name.

Maurice Merchant was forty two years old. He leaves behind two children, both of age and living abroad. The Gazette faced bankruptcy when he took over. Thanks to years of efforts, he re-established the paper as the premier source of information in the Triumvirate, expanding into Nor Easter shortly after the Dividing War despite protests from Crowndon’s oligarchs.

Blackwood Gazette #298- Crowndon Branch of the Gazette to Shutter its Doors Following Execution of Owner Maurice Merchant

Blackwood Gazette #297- Last Minute Intelligence Prevents Nor Eastern Forces Being Decimated in Engagement over Sea of Wrecked Beginnings and Bitter Ends

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

30/12/282-Perhaps in an effort to win the battle before the arrival of Julianos and the Triumvirate’s First Armored Fleet, Sarnwainian naval forces gathered on the Sea of Wrecked Beginnings and Bitter Ends made their move in the early morning hours.

The opening salvo was nearly decimating, as Sarnwain’s armored diesel powered ships rammed through the Nor Eastern line, reducing the Empire’s out dated wooden frigates and brigs to splinters. Nor Eastern fighters on those ships made a valiant effort, however, to board those ships and put up a valiant fight before falling.

As Nor Easter’s front line fell, Sarnwain revealed what was supposed to be its secret weapon: a new kind of underwater ship capable of firing propeller driven explosive projectiles. The heavier ships of Nor Easter’s second and third lines, however, were prepared.

The underwater projectiles are reportedly guided by radio signal, and can be detonated remotely. Luckily, Nor Eastern commanders came forearmed with the frequency and were able to remotely detonate the projectiles once the sub-marine vessels revealed their location.

How is it that Nor Easter came by this knowledge?

None other than Sir Rigel Rinkenbach.

In a statement revealed after the battle was over, Empress Marcelette Bastian revealed the true reason Rinkenbach and Society Agent Pixie Sinclaire had been in Sarnwain. The pair had tracked a cache of Rinkenbach technology stolen from his warehouses last year. They discovered that Sarnwain had been planning to attack the Triumvirate for months, using this stolen technology.

While it is true that Rinkenbach and Sinclaire operated on their own without the approval of the Palace or the Subterfuge Society, their actions in Sarnwain did not start the war with Sarnwain…that was already a forgone conclusion. But it did give Nor Easter the means to defeat the Sarnwainian fleet, albeit with heavy casualties.

Despite the crushing defeat, Sarnwainian infantry forces in the north have not retreated. As such, the Triumvirate Air Fleets have been rerouted to reinforce that front.

For their efforts, Sir Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire have been officially reinstated as citizens, and heroes, of the Nor Eastern Empire.

Blackwood Gazette #297- Last Minute Intelligence Prevents Nor Eastern Forces Being Decimated in Engagement over Sea of Wrecked Beginnings and Bitter Ends

Blackwood Gazette #296- Leviathan Investors Claim Prison is Under New Command, Detail Plans Moving Forward

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

29/12/282-On the heels of Crowndon announcing that they plan to send hundreds of political dissidents to Leviathan, the secret board of financial backers behind the controversial Leviathan prison ship have released a statement addressing concerns of prisoner mistreatment and deplorable living conditions.

The statement was shockingly open, providing us with more details into the workings of Leviathan and what has transpired in the year since it left port. According to personnel on the ship, it wasn’t long before the now former warden began descending into a ‘power drunk madness’, punishing inmates for the smallest of infractions and in many cases working them to death.

The guard personnel on the ship say they didn’t fare much better. They faced harsh punishments for treating inmates as ‘anything more than chattel’, and some are even said to have found themselves imprisoned after defying the warden. Those interviewed said that it was a hold maintained by fear of the warden and a small group of loyal officers.

That hold was shattered, however, after the escape of Hjavern Newstead and increased scrutiny from the outside. A mutiny, led by one Guard Captain Colin Nettle, led to the downfall of the warden. One Scanlon Donleavy, a former Crowndon naval officer, has been appointed to be the new warden of the ship.

“Donleavy accepted the offer with no small amount of reluctance,” the investor’s report says. “He called the very idea of Leviathan ‘unseemly’. But Leviathan is a thing that exists. If it is a thing that must continue, then it might as well do so under the guiding hand of someone who cares about the well-being of those under his charge, be they prisoner or prison guard.”

The current personnel of the ship have been examined, and many have stepped down. A new crop of recruits is currently being vetted. Many of them are Triumvirate Authority personnel, whose job it will be to monitor the situation aboard the ship. Captain Colin Nettle will assume the position of Warden Donleavy’s First Mate.

“It is our hope the ship will return to full working order within the month, in time to accept the new prisoners from Crowndon,” the report concluded. “Once here, said prisoners, as well as those already incarcerated, will undergo rigorous rehabilitation. We are hopeful that many under Donleavy’s charge will be made suitable to return to society at large.”

Blackwood Gazette #296- Leviathan Investors Claim Prison is Under New Command, Detail Plans Moving Forward

Blackwood Gazette #295- First Armored Fleet Takes to the Air; Monteddor Pledges Aid for Nor Easter

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

29/12/282-Almost as if in answer to the growing turmoil along the borders between Nor Easter and Sarnwain, the Triumvirate Authority announced today that the First Armored Fleet has reached a functional state and been deployed.

The fleet, led by the flagship Acrimonious Bulwark, commanded by Admiral Alejandro Julianos, took to the air yesterday evening. They will rendezvous with the Bulwark at an undisclosed location and from there join the ranks of airships gathering along the Cerrano Meridian.

“The construction and deployment of the fleet has gone more smoothly than we ever could have hoped,” said Triumvirate Authority Commander Adam Shepard. “We were able to construct and deploy the ships in record time, thanks in part to private parties in Monteddor and Crowndon, as well as Desantana Refining. I have no doubt that with these new ships, the Triumvirate can weather anything Sarnwain can throw at Nor Easter.”

While the First Armored Fleet reinforces the line at the Meridian, the nearly unfathomable fleet known unofficially as the Triumvirate of the Skies will join the fray. Johanna McKilroy and Zan You-Delsha will stand along side Julianos, while Desantana and Plamondon will head north to reinforce Nor Eastern infantry in the mountains, where Sarnwainian ground forces have been amassing for several days.

“If Sarnwain follows through on its threat to attack Nor Easter, they will be crushed,” Yolanda Desantana told us. “Monteddor and Nor Easter may have their differences, but we are allies under the Triumvirate Accords. Between Alejandro’s new fleet and mine, as well as Nor Easter’s Navy and fighter squadrons, we outnumber Sarnwain ten to one, and with better resources at our disposal. It won’t be a war any more than crushing a roach with a shoe is a war. It will be a quickly forgotten footnote in our history, if that.”

And what of Crowndon? The great Northern Empire has yet to address the situation, but Desantana isn’t worried.

“Throwing them into the mix would be overkill,” she said. “Or perhaps they might be a liability; they’re too busy trying to wrangle their own citizens at the moment. We don’t need them right now. Perhaps we don’t need them at all.”

Blackwood Gazette #295- First Armored Fleet Takes to the Air; Monteddor Pledges Aid for Nor Easter

Blackwood Gazette #294- Sarnwain Declares War on Nor Easter in Response to Rinkenbach/Sinclaire Deception

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

28/12/282- As our sister Empire to the West folds under the weight of isolationism and martial law, our neighbors to the east are stoking the engines of war.

The Primarch of Pharassus, in a public statement given before a throng of 10 million Sarnwainian citizens (numbers provided by Pharassus sources, so take them with a grain of salt) condemned the Nor Eastern Empire for what he calls an ‘insulting charade, designed to make fools of all nations not Nor Eastern’, and promised ‘a reckoning of unprecedented proportions.’

When he was done threatening to level Nor Eastern cities and string up their citizens, he called upon our fellow Triumvirate members, Monteddor and Crowndon, to ‘rise up with Sarnwain and cast down the self-proclaimed Arbiters of Intellect and Self Righteousness that is Nor Easter, who seeks to subjugate all nations under the boot of Pretense and Bureaucracy.’

I assure you, citizens, that I have lived in Nor Easter my entire life and this so called desire to subjugate anyone under any form of footwear is news to me.

Triumvirate Authority pickets along the border between Sarnwain and Nor Easter claim to have spotted movements of ground forces sporting the flags of Pharassus, Thankaen, Ganborrah, and Tarsia. Authority pickets over the Sea of Wrecked Beginnings and Bitter ends likewise reports the naval fleets of Thankaen and Pharassus moving into position along the Cerrano Meridian, the longitudinal line that marks the separation of Sarnwainian and Triumvirate waters.

In response, Authority Air Ships have been deployed to the line, along with the fifth and sixth Nor Eastern Imperial navies. Empress Bastian has issued a formal request of military assistance from Monteddor and Crowndon, but neither Empire has responded as of this printing.

Blackwood Gazette #294- Sarnwain Declares War on Nor Easter in Response to Rinkenbach/Sinclaire Deception