Blackwood Gazette #309-Suspect in Explosion Over Toring Square Identified as Former Technician for Rinkenbach Industries

3/4/283-The Toring Guard believes they have identified the Toring Rocket Man as 32 year old Jean Valdeau.

Jean Valdeau, a Oeil de Fleur native, was a former employee of Rinkenbach Industries. He worked as a technician directly under the wealthy industrialist and court inventor Rigel Rinkenbach in the years following the Dividing War with Crowndon.

Upon discovering Valdeau’s identity (the methodology of said discovery has not been revealed as of this writing), Toring Guard visited his loft in lower Toring, where they found an extensive workshop that took up nearly half of the cramped living space. Tools, scrap metal, and several devices of unknown nature were discovered, as well as newspaper clippings detailing several petty crimes that have occurred in in the area. Also discovered was an encoded document that has yet to be deciphered.

The revelation of Valdeau’s background is said to have sent shockwaves through the Crowndon Imperial Military, who have spun the incident into a potential plot by Nor Eastern spies to destabilize the region.

The Empress of Nor Easter has called such claims preposterous and promises that Nor Easter has no plans to destabilize one third of the Triumvirate. She also added that Crowndon seems to be doing a fine job of that themselves.

Rigel Rinkenbach himself claims that Valdeau no longer has any connections to Rinkenbach Industries or the Nor Eastern Empire.

“I barely remember the poor fool,” Rinkenbach wrote in a letter to the Gazette. “Except that I gave him the boot when he presented me with plans for a device not unlike the one described in the accounts of what happened. Rocket packs. Really.”

Toring Guard also claims to have recovered wreckage from the Central Square of Toring, which remains closed. No other details have been shared.

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Blackwood Gazette #309-Suspect in Explosion Over Toring Square Identified as Former Technician for Rinkenbach Industries

Blackwood Gazette #307- Former Academy Member Arrested for Disaster Profiteering

7/3/283- Authorities report that former member of the Academic Alliance of Alchemists and Alliterators, Prideau “Priddy” Lacerte, has been arrested for attempting to profit from the recent reign of terror visited upon Oeil de Fleur by the escaped Ganborran Stink Monkey known as ‘Chirpy’.

The arrest came after reports that Lacerte was selling plush dolls of the pungent primate to children in the city’s eastern commons.

“He’d been at it for weeks, apparently,” the arresting officer told us. “People thought it was tasteless, but harmless enough. But then Lacerte had to go and get…ambitious.”

According to city watch officials, about a week ago, the Chirpy plushies began appearing with a new ‘feature’.

“One kid brought a plush home late last week. She ran up to her mother to show off the doll, hugged it, and, well…given Lacerte’s history, and the nature of the Chirpy incident, you can probably guess what happened next.”

The new model of plush is said to contain the same ingredients used in the Alchemical parlor trick known as ‘Kettleman’s Arse’, a trick that got Lacerte busted sometime back. When the child hugged the doll, it brought into contact the two substances that, when mixed, release a noxious cloud of foul smelling (but otherwise harmless) gas into the air.

“Lacerte claims the amount released should be small and dissipate quickly, but the entirety of the household had to be evacuated, and a cleaning crew brought in.”

Lacerte has been booked on charges of profiteering from a disaster, a charge second only to war profiteering with an expected sentence of exile from the Triumvirate. His remaining stock of Chirpy plushies is to be disposed of, and the city watch recommends that anyone who purchased one of the dolls should do the same.

As for the actual ‘Chirpy’, the malodorous monster remains at large.

Blackwood Gazette #307- Former Academy Member Arrested for Disaster Profiteering

Blackwood Gazette #305- Oeil de Fleur City Guard Grows Desperate as Stink Monkey Rampage Continues

3/2/283-Two weeks after its escape from the Oeil de Fleur Menagerie, the Ganborran Stink Monkey known affectionately as ‘Chirpy’ is still at large. It is estimated that the creature has caused nearly 300 thousand Imperons in damage, and the amount is rising.

The primate miscreant was last sighted scurrying along a wall by the Dezoar River, where it is said to have caused a panic amongst weekend picnickers.

“We smelled it long before it actually showed up,” said one witness to the incident. “At first, I just thought it was the river…it doesn’t have a particularly pleasant smell, even on the best of days. But within a few minutes the odor was nigh unbearable. That’s when someone screamed. I looked over and saw a woman pointing toward a small shape running along the river wall.

“That’s when someone yelled, ‘It’s Chirpy!’ and everyone lost it, stampeding out of the park like we were running from an air raid.”

Nearby guardsman responded to the report of the monkey’s intrusion and rushed to the scene. They found the beast sitting on a blanket, eating a jam and nut macaron.

“It was just sitting there, chomping away,” said one of the guardsmen. “We moved in to open fire, but no was willing to get close enough for an effective shot. We fired a volley, the six of us, hoping the law of averages was on our side. We all missed. At that point, our eyes are already watering, but to make matters worse the little beast dropped its treat and ran at us. It sprayed as it passed by and disappeared into the trees. None of us could pursue it, gagging as we were.”

The incident at the Dezoar picnic ground isn’t the only encounter citizens have had since its escape. A few days before, a shop owner reported finding the animal malcontent building a nest in the entry way of his business, and the day before that a young couple complained that their midnight tryst was interrupted by a territorial display from the creature.

“It hopped up onto the balcony as we shared our first kiss,” one of the lovers said. “It then began screaming, slapping its bottom and…and…oh, it was awful!”

It has even begun interfering with the creative process, albeit to mixed results.

“I was in the park, painting an abstract of the day’s sunset, when Chirpy dropped down onto my easel and began slapping at the wet paint, leaving tiny monkey paw prints all over the piece,” an amateur painter told us. “To my surprise, the monkey’s contribution improved the piece, gave it a certain whimsy that I feel my work has been missing. I’ve shown it to a few galleries, and more than one of them is interested.”

No one knows where Chirpy will turn up next, but citizens should be wary, the Menagerie warns.

“Chirpy is a young primate at the dawn of its maturity, in a strange environment with a plethora of unknown sights and sounds. He will be extremely curious, and extremely aggressive. Anyone who runs afoul of Chirpy should immediately flee and alert the nearest city watchman.”

Blackwood Gazette #305- Oeil de Fleur City Guard Grows Desperate as Stink Monkey Rampage Continues

The Blackwood Gazette #301- Nor Eastern Engineers Reveal Plans for Waystation Systems Over Omeddon, Pyrossi Oceans

By Patrice Coulon

4/1/283- A group of engineers based out of Oeil de Fleur University say they have drawn up plans for two new Waystation systems. The stations, they say, are an important part in building the bridges of commerce between the Triumvirate and extra-imperial entities.

“The Triumvirate does not exist within a bubble,” said Lucianne Volpe, the engineer heading up the project. “Nor does it contain all the necessary resources for the advancement of our society. There are factors outside our realm of influence that could prove either a boon, or a curse. Economic ties are a tried and true way to build alliances.”

Detractors have already caught wind of the proposal, and call into question the veracity of such a project.

“I can sort of understand a Waystation or two between the Triumvirate and Quin Loh,” said Joshua Trachter, an economist from Val Coursais University. “But a station in the Omeddon Ocean is a fool’s errand. There’s nothing out there except scattered islands and the western coast of the Newlands.”

Volpe sadly shakes his head when told of Trachter’s doubts. “That man is short sided, at best. Dumb at worst. If he, as an economist, fails to see the untapped trade potential provided by the Omeddon island chains and original peoples of the Newlands, he needs to be stripped of his tenure. Hell, his being a Crowndonian is probably enough to warrant that!”

All of this talk of new Waystations is purely theoretical at the moment, however.

“The original station was an immense undertaking, and an enormous drain on resources,” Volpe admits. “Be we’ve nearly a century and a half of development since then. It is my job as engineer to prove that new stations could be built in a timely, and cost effective, manner.”

The Blackwood Gazette #301- Nor Eastern Engineers Reveal Plans for Waystation Systems Over Omeddon, Pyrossi Oceans

What is the Blackwood Empire?

So, I realized today that I’m coming up on 150 installments of the Blackwood Gazette, and I imagine that it’s probably starting to seem a bit impenetrable to any potential new readers. So I threw together a little primer of sorts to give you guys the broad strokes on what the Blackwood Empire is, and just what is going on within the Gazette. If you find this primer insufficient, feel free to leave any questions or feedback on the page you’re taken to by the following link, and I’ll try to answer them accordingly:

WHAT IS THE BLACKWOOD EMPIRE?

What is the Blackwood Empire?

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Margaery Antagonizes Cersei on Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 3 High Sparrow

This season is shaping up to be REALLY interesting, isn’t it? Much has been made of the fact that the show has pretty much exhausted the source material on which it is based, and the reigning consensus I’ve seen among fans of the books is that the material that is left is, well, rather bloated and tedious. Personally, I have to admit that I am one with this camp. It took me forever to get through Feast of Crows and I still haven’t finished Dance with Dragons.

That said, I think the show so far has done an admirable job of adding, changing, and just all around streamlining the events of the books in particularly interesting ways, and in two stories in particular.

One of those big changes featured heavily in this week’s episode, concerning Sansa Stark. By taking her back to Winterfell and having her actually be betrothed to Ramsay Stark instead of some proxy posing as Arya, the show-runners have succeeded in both trimming a lot of fat and upping the tension tenfold. We all know how much of a monster Ramsay Bolton is, and putting Sansa face to face with him is nerve wracking to say the least. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into more victimization. And who knows what the hell is going to happen when she finds out Theon is around, or what this take on the story will have Theon do.

The other story being streamlined to hell and back is Tyrion, and it’s better for it. Rather than spending hundreds of pages with a character that mostly undermines Daenerys’ story while ultimately amounting to nothing, Tyrion gets to straight on to Volantis. We get some important plot building here, of course, with the Red Priestess talking about a savior (and I guess putting the faith surrounding the Lord of Light firmly in Dany’s camp, at least for now), and Ser Jorah showing up and capturing Tyrion mid piss. This was done a bit awkwardly, I think. Unless I missed it, there didn’t seem to be a shot of Jorah spotting Tyrion and figuring out who he was, though Tyrion was being pretty damn obvious about it (“I’m known for paying my debts”). And there’s a halfhearted attempt to make us think that Jorah is going to take Tyrion to Cersei when he mentions an ambiguous “Queen”, but I think we all know he’ll try to use the son of Tywin Lannister to get back into Dany’s good graces.

Back in King’s Landing, Tommen and Margaery are wed, and nobody dies. But Tommen does find himself a pawn between his new Queen and the Queen Mother. This all led to my favorite exchange of the night, the gut wrenchingly passive aggressive conversation between Margaery and Cersei. Since her first appearance on Game of Thrones I’ve seen Natalie Dormer in a few other things, and I have to say she’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. And the way the writers and director have shown Cersei’s slow loss of relevance and her reaction to it has been really well done, two examples being the palanquin ride to the sept for the wedding in which the crowds expressed their support of Margaery, and then as Cersei was walking away from the new queen and her friends as they laughed.
Cersei’s not out of the fight, though, and sees an opportunity arise in the form of the Sparrows, who have taken it upon themselves to publicly humiliate what I guess is Westeros’s version of the pope.

Up on the wall, Jon Snow gives Stannis a reply to his offer to make him Lord of Winterfell. Being appointed as Commander has only re-enforced Jon’s commitment to his vows, and he seems fully aware that not everyone is happy with his appointment. Janos Slynt voices this opinion quite loudly and loses his head for it (YAY!). Jon does get an interesting tid-bit to mull over however, when Davos points out that, despite the Night’s Watch charter of neutrality in Seven Kingdoms politics, perhaps being the protector of the realms of men might mean stepping in to sort shit out. After all, I’ve said it time and again that the greatest threat Westeros faces is being divided by petty squabbles when the White Walkers show up. Perhaps by standing idly by and letting politics divide the living while the dead march on unopposed isn’t exactly in line with his vows after all.

Finally, over in Braavos, we are reminded that the Faceless Men, like those of the Red faith, have only one god as well. The god of many Faces is a clever concept, however, because it allows for the existence of Westeros’ disparate pantheons, as Aryan points out that The Stranger, the Drowned God, and the Weirwood tree are represented in the House of Black and White (perhaps no coincidence that all of these gods are associated with Death).

Arya, like Jon, faces a choice concerning her identity. In order to become Faceless, she must shed her identity as Arya Stark. As Not Jaqen points out, she’s wearing Arya Stark’s clothes, using Arya Stark’s name, and carrying Arya Stark’s sword. Arya manages to throw most of her possessions into the sea, but in great emotional beat she just can’t bring herself to toss needle into the brine, instead opting to stash it under a cairn.

All and all a strong episode that worked to re-invest us in the remaining Stark children, particularly Sansa, who has returned to Winterfell, and Jon, who was offered Winterfell should Stannis win. And out there, somewhere, Brienne and Pod wander (their exchange was really cool as well, with Brienne finally warming up to Pod and agreeing to teach him to fight). ‘Til next week!

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Blackwood Gazette #106: Julianos’ Forces Issue Bounty on Bandit Responsible for Soldiers’ Death

by Chester Seaton, News

23/4- The investigation into the deaths of five Julianos soldiers in a small Monteddorian farming community has already borne fruit. A spokesperson for Julianos issued a statement today about the suspected assassin.

“We believe we are looking for a woman named Dougherty,” the spokesperson said. “She is the daughter of a Monteddorian woman and a Crowndonian expatriate named Alexander Dougherty, a deserter of the Air Corps who left the northern empire after the Minor Disagreement thirty five years ago.

“She is dark of hair, in her late twenties/early thirties, and said to favor her Monteddorian mother, which will allow her to blend in with the populace, except for a mess of scars and tattoos on her arms. It is reported that she keeps these covered with long sleeves.

“Though she is unremarkable in appearance, eye witnesses say she carries a revolver. Given the rarity of such weapons, and even rarer the possession of such weapons by Monteddorian women, we have faith that the bandit named Dougherty will be found soon.”

Julianos has issued a 200,000 tallo (roughly 20,000 gold pieces) bounty for Dougherty, dead or alive, and a 50,000 tallo reward for information leading to her capture or death. The statement also states that Dougherty is travelling with a platoon strength force of supporters. That force is slowly growing larger, as Dougherty is actively recruiting.

“We stress caution when trying to deal with Dougherty,” the spokesperson said. “Though most of the people supporting her are merely farmers, the numbers and fervor with which they are said to defend her have already become storied in the region.

“She’s become a hero among the folk. We must proceed with caution.”

The Bandit, "Dougherty"
copyright@blackwoodempire.com. Drawing by Ryan Pierce

 

Blackwood Gazette #106: Julianos’ Forces Issue Bounty on Bandit Responsible for Soldiers’ Death