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

Blackwood Gazette #105: Missing Professor Found, Babbling Incoherently

by Chester Seaton, News

22/4- After months of silence on the part of Colonial authorities investigating the disappearance of a team sent to find out what fate befell the citizens of Lelina, including the Gazette’s own Adella Chatelaine, we’ve received word of a major breakthrough.

Early last week, a man was discovered on the outskirts of Point Hammond, fifty miles north along the Miskaton River. Law enforcement for the town say the man was bleeding from small cuts all over his body, likely sustained by bramble bushes in the wilds surrounding the area, and was babbling incoherently.

He was taken into custody and held in the town’s drunk tank, where he fell unconscious for two days before a doctor was called in from a neighboring town. The doctor reported that the man was suffering from shock. A day later the man awoke, and during a brief spell of lucidity, identified himself as Professor Martine Babin of New Crowndon University. He claimed to have no memory of anything past getting on the river boat in Docryville. Shortly afterward, he slipped back into his fugue state.

No word has come on the details of his ramblings, though an unnamed source described them as “disturbing.”

Investigators have turned their attention to the wilds around Point Hammond. We here at the Gazette pray for positive news regarding the fate of the Lelina team.

Blackwood Gazette #105: Missing Professor Found, Babbling Incoherently

Blackwood Gazette #104: Colonial Militia Prepares to Mobilize Against Von Grimm Gang

By Hil Spencer, New Crowndon Correspondent

21/4- Two weeks after losing the frontier outpost Fort Winstone to the nefarious bandit Doctor Argyle Von Grimm and his gang of mechanically enhanced miscreants, the colonial militia says that it is ready to make a second push to retake the fort.

“The push can’t happen soon enough,” Field Marshal Ameron Lassiter said. “The Von Grimm gang has terrorized the colonial frontier long enough, and this latest episode has been especially trying, from a morale standpoint.”

Lassiter is likely referring to the idea, expressed by many citizens along the frontier, that the takeover isn’t representative of any actual threat, but merely a bruise on the militia’s ego.

“Things have only gotten worse ‘round here, last couple weeks,” a man from Craw, a small town one hundred miles away from the fort, told us. “And it ain’t because of Von Grimm’s gang. It’s ‘cos all our militia men are off gatherin ‘round that old fort that been of no importance for fifty years, watchin Von Grimm, and left us open to be robbed by these other varmints runnin’ ‘round here; the Clammets and the Rogs, the Darners and Tarvers.”

Lassiter claims the militia is not unaware of smaller gangs making their move now that the Von Grimms are holed up.

“We understand the frustration of the townsfolk, but those smaller gangs are second fiddle to the Mad Mechanist. This is a man who has cut a swath of terror from Nor Easter to Old Crowndon, and down the coast of Monteddor. He brought down Waystation Delta, and he’s blazed his way through the colonies out to the frontier, pausing only to kick puppies and steal candy from babies. Yes, he’s actually done that; that’s the kind of monster we’re dealing with. We’ll turn our attention away once he’s dealt with.

“It won’t be long now. Our squadron of Dragonflies arrives from the capital in the next few days. We’ve fitted them to drop fire jelly. We’re going to turn that fort into a boiling pot of bandit flesh and molten copper.”

Blackwood Gazette #104: Colonial Militia Prepares to Mobilize Against Von Grimm Gang

Blackwood Gazette #103: The Heisenberg Crash: Is Anyone Really Surprised?

By Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, Guest Editorial

20/4- Let me just begin this piece by saying that any loss of human life, no matter how small or trivial, is a tragedy. I am not writing this, however, to wax poetic about the deaths of those on board the Heisenberg or offer pretty platitudes…anyone with any modicum of power and a pulpit from which to wield said power has done so in the last week. And besides, those on board were hired for the expressed purpose of fulfilling the function they, well, fulfilled by dying in place of people like our illustrious Empress, Her Imperial Majesty Marcellete Bastian.

No, the purpose of this piece is to ask the question, is anyone really surprised that the Heisenberg went down in flames over the Crowndon country side?

I, for one, am not. I expected it. Had I been on the passenger list, I likely would have employed the same diversionary tactics of those other high profile individuals. Why, you ask? Because I, and we, are not morons (with the exception of Miss Tralala…that poor, pitiful soul). And one would have to be such a moron as to get on board an aircraft constructed by the Crowndonian government for the express purpose getting said aircraft into the air before someone else.

Admittedly, that someone else was me. It is true, I egged Crowndon on by challenging Ivan Klankenvroot to an industrial race to see who could build the world’s first commercial fixed wing aircraft. I admit to and take on whatever weight of responsibility that fact bestows upon me.

I do believe, however, that had Klankenvroot been allowed to continue working on his project without the heavy hand of Crowndon crashing around in his metaphorical toolbox, the Heisenberg would have been a technically sound marvel built by the hand of a master craftsman, rather than the scrambled together heap of metal beaten into shape by the cudgels of military ‘engineers’. He would not have beaten me, but it would have been something to see, indeed.

No, it was the interference of the Crowndon Oligarchs, and to a lesser extent the series of unfortunate events of last year that led to a decline in Crowndonian national pride, that caused a lack of quality assurance in the interest of meeting a deadline. It is even more tragic when you consider the fact that I abandoned this race months ago. I had largely forgotten about it until I heard the news. They rushed to meet a deadline that no longer existed.

Citizens of the Triumvirate, I ask you not to be angry at those pillars who simply used time worn diversionary tactics to ensure their own safety; they did what they would have done regardless of who built it (though I’m sure all 122 passengers would still be alive if Klankenvroot had overseen construction. And had we been testing my own design, I never would have allowed this media circus of putting people of power on a test flight to begin with. I would have tested it in secret first and then STAGED a second test flight for the amusement of the citizen). Turn your ire instead on the puppet masters who have their bloody paws on the crank of the meat grinder that is Crowndonian government: the long standing, backwards facing Oligarchs. For they, like it or not, are one link in the chain of Imperial industry, and they are beyond any doubt the weakest.

Blackwood Gazette #103: The Heisenberg Crash: Is Anyone Really Surprised?

Blackwood Gazette #102-Julianos Soldiers Found Slaughtered; Full Strength Garrison Moves In

by Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

16/4-The newly formed security forces of Alejandro Julianos are being tested this week as the tensions between the new regime and farmers in the region have reached fever pitch.
Earlier this week, five soldiers tasked with overseeing crop collection lines were found dead in a local brothel, their throats cut and their weapons stolen.

“We swear, we have no idea who did this,” said the owner of the brothel, one Serita Ines Dionisio. “It certainly wasn’t any of mine; the men who were killed had just arrived, and I sent them upstairs to wait. They were already dead when I sent the girls up.”

In response to the death, Alejandro Julianos himself ordered a full battalion to move in and reinforce the soldiers already in the town. The local residents aren’t happy.

“These upstarts don’t get it,” said one man, who asked to remain anonymous. “They get mad, they stop thinking. I don’t like all these men either, or these new tithes. But you kill five, you get ten more for each one, standing on every corner, watching every move you make and just looking for an excuse. Yes, part of me wants to give these glorified goons the boot, but part of me also wants this assassin found, because until he, or they, are identified, these men see us all as a threat. Even then, who knows?”

Blackwood Gazette #102-Julianos Soldiers Found Slaughtered; Full Strength Garrison Moves In