Blackwood Gazette #93-Investigations Ensue After Fire Rages Through Academy of Alchemy and Alliteration

By Chester Seaton, News

20/3- New dispersions have been cast upon Nor Easter’s Academic Alliance of Alchemists and Alliterators after a fire broke out and gutted the Academy’s top two floors earlier this week. No one was killed, but three were injured with reported third degree burns.

“We were holding a party for Francois to celebrate the occasion of his third cousin’s adopted niece’s 32nd birthday,” said Anatole Coulomb, a third degree Alchemist on the fourth rung of Primality, according to his background sheet. “Either as a mistake, or as a joke, someone miscalculated the amount of powdered charwood in the mixture of the candles that adorned his Rise de veau pie. When he went to blow them out, instead of simply re-igniting, they exploded.”

“It’s a simple mistake really,” Coulomb added. “Happens more often than you’d think. Usually, it just ends with a crispy eyebrow. But someone had been mixing a dissolving agent earlier in the day, and residue had blown onto the nearby drapes. That was the end of that, really. There was no avoiding it.”

The incident has left Nor Eastern officials with no choice but to launch a full scale investigation into the safety practices and zoning regulations pertaining to the academy. The organization is no stranger to such scrutiny.

“Something like this happens every ten years or so,” said Maximillian Voutiste, the regional fire marshal for Oeil de Fleur. “Some young alchemist decides to try and figure out Blackwood, or play a prank, or make a love potion, and before you know it, a city block is leveled. The Academy used to be inside the Capitol building, but we’ve had to move it three times since its founding. Another incident like this, and they’ll have to move outside the city limits. I won’t miss them.”

Blackwood Gazette #93-Investigations Ensue After Fire Rages Through Academy of Alchemy and Alliteration

Blackwood Gazette #89- Crowndonian Brig Forced to Land on Libertine’s Roost for Repairs

By Chester Seaton, News

9/2-While the majority of Crowndon’s air fleet returned to the Crown’s airspace this weekend, one ship was forced to break away from the main body and land on Libertine’s Roost. Fleet Admiral Winston Johannes cites technical difficulties as the reason for the forced landing.

Halfway through the journey home, a Crowndonian brig named the Strident Whisper broke away from the fleet, reporting a problem with her main boiler. It is unknown at this time what caused the problem, though the Whisper’s captain stated that it was likely due to atrophy caused by regular use, as the Whisper had been actively engaged in sorties before being called to join the fleet. The Whisper was unable to receive routine maintenance upon arrival, as the fleet mobilized almost immediately.

The breakdown occurred over the waters of the Demon’s Eye Cove, the large body of water that separates Crowndon from Monteddor and the area in which the Roost is located. Upon hearing of the brig’s trouble, several representatives from the Roost who had joined the fleet extended an invitation for the Whisper to dock for repairs.

As most citizens of the Empire know, Libertine’s Roost is a sovereign entity, and access to its airspace by Imperial Authorities and the individual military forces of Crowndon, NorEaster, and Monteddor is heavily restricted. While the Roost purports itself to be a place of unfettered industrial importance and thriving economic value as a port for merchants traveling between Crowndon and Monteddor, many believe the Roost is nothing more than a haven for criminals.

Blackwood Gazette #89- Crowndonian Brig Forced to Land on Libertine’s Roost for Repairs

Blackwood Gazette #70- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid, Part 1

By Adella Chatelaine

1/10- Our journey into the southern frontier has been rather eventful this past week (and as a result, unduly stressful.) After an unfortunate series of turns of event, we have found ourselves stranded on the shores of the Miskaton river. As I write this, I sit on the river bank, watching the inferno that was our river boat float down the river while sitting on a waterlogged trunk (not mine, unfortunately).

Not ten feet away, Mister Mackay and Doctor Trenum are interrogating one of the surviving passengers, one Mister Klaus Klaudhopper; yes, the very same Klaus Klaudhopper being hunted for the Waystation Bravo disaster. There is no sign of the other suspect, one Miss Arufina Villanova, with whom Mister Klaudhopper was believed to be travelling.

Whatever his involvement in that, it appears he has a part to play in our current predicament as well. A predicament that begun somewhat before.

On Sunday before last, we pulled into port of a small city called Docryville, a township that sprung up around river trade and entertainment. Since this was to be an overnight affair, the members of our expedition quickly scattered to the winds to seek amusements elsewhere, with Meriam asking me to join Professor Babin, Nico and herself on an exploration of the town’s rather misplaced yet well regarded library.

I agreed, and am sorry to say I quickly came to regret it. While Meriam and the Professor took to the shelves with great enthusiasm, I found myself sitting at a table with Nico, bored out of my mind. That Nico isn’t that great of a conversationalist didn’t make matters any easier. I whittled away at the time by perusing a book of maps of the area: dry material, to be sure, but it could prove helpful down the line.

Nico had long begun to nap and my eyes to feel heavy as well when a loud thump echoed through the library. An injured man stumbled into the main floor, clutching his side and grunting angrily in a heavy Rommsbach accent. I stood up and began to hesitantly approach him, stopping when he lifted a silver revolver.

I could see in his eyes that he would have no problem using the firearm if he deemed me a proper threat, but since I wasn’t, I knew he wouldn’t use it on me.

“Are you alone?” he asked me. I told him I was not, and gestured to Nico, who still slept on the table. It was then that the Professor and Meriam stumbled out from behind the stacks. The man swung the gun around at them, looked them over, deemed them a non-threat as well, and relaxed a bit.

“All of you, you need to get out of here,” he said. I asked him why.

“Are you in some trouble, my boy?” Professor Babin said. Klaudhopper sneered  at him, I imagine at being called ‘my boy’, but he answered.

Ja,” said the injured man, nodding, so I took it to be an affirmation. “Big trouble. Very close behind, coming quickly. Believe when I say, you don’t want to be here when that happens.”

Blackwood Gazette #70- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid, Part 1

Blackwood Gazette #69- Mercenary Group Joins Hunt for Nefarious Pirate

By Chester Seaton, News

29/9- After a failed attempt to reign in the notorious air pirate Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre, and several weeks without any further leads to his whereabouts, the Crowndon military has enlisted outside aid. Said aid comes in the form of the famed pirate hunter, Captain Johanna McKilroy.

“We are typically hesitant about employing mercenaries,” said Crowndonian High Command. “But Captain McKilroy has a personal stake in this search. She served in La Pierre’s command as his first mate during the war with Nor Easter, and when he was exiled, she foolishly followed him into the privateering sector. They had a falling out, when La Pierre went over a line that McKilroy would not cross.

“We realize this decision may be controversial, but whatever sins Captain McKilroy has committed in the past should not bar her wealth of knowledge on La Pierre. She knows the man well, his tactics, and how he thinks. She is also very accomplished in her new role as pirate hunter, having personally slain five high profile pirates in the last year, including Captain Ferdinand Gnash, the Terror of Toring.”

The decision to recruit Captain McKilroy has indeed been controversial, particularly amongst the civilian law enforcement of Toring.

“Yeah, she nailed the Terror of Toring, alright,” said Chief Warren Gainsborough, of the Toring Police department. “And she took out half of the city’s old quarter to do it. Whatever line it was she wouldn’t cross with La Pierre, that line is beyond wiping out almost one thousand innocent people to get what she wants.”

We reached out to Captain McKilroy for comment on the matter, and were refused.

Blackwood Gazette #69- Mercenary Group Joins Hunt for Nefarious Pirate

Blackwood Gazette #67-Journey to Lelina: Tall Tales and Folklore II: The Mist Walker

By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

17/9- Doctor Rothery pauses, offering no further insight into the tale. I can tell he’s waiting for some prodding from me, so I indulge him. He goes into the typical hemming and hawing until finally deciding to spill the proverbial beans.

The story goes that in swamps around Lelina, there lives a powerful elemental force the indigenous peoples know as the Mist Walker. It patrols the swamps on nights when the moon is full, a hulking figure with the head of a deer that is concealed by a rolling cloak of fog. Some people who have seen it claim it walks on two legs, though others claim otherwise (typical for this sort of regional legend). Some say that, in the rare moments when the fog rolls away, you can see the glint of moonlight off of heavy, silver armor.

Many of the tribes of the Southern Nation revere it in equal parts as both god and devil, a being that both protects and destroys. It cannot be appeased: if you wander into its territory you are, without question, a threat.

There is one tribe to the east, along the shore, however, that paints the creature in an entirely malevolent light. They say, that in times long forgotten, on a night when the fog from the ocean and the mists from the swamps met, and a mighty storm came over the land, the Deer-Men (as it is called in this regional variant, and note the plurality, also a fact exclusive to this version of the tale) came from far inland and killed all of the men in the village, and all but one of the women. The children were left unharmed, according to the tale, which plays a large role in that particular tribe’s matriarchal culture.

I ask Doctor Rothery why the Mist Walker would nearly wipe out an entire village. He waggles his fingers, leans over the table candle to under-light his face and says, “Nooobody knoooows. Woooooh…”

Does Doctor Rothery have any theories on the origin of the tale?

“Several. One is that there is actually something out there, some species we haven’t observed yet, or at the very least there was, at one time, and it is now extinct. Another possibility is that someone, long ago, got drunk, saw a deer on a misty morning, freaked out, and started telling tales that became more exaggerated over the centuries. Speaking of drunk, I’m just a little over that line myself. Excuse me.”

I stop him as he starts to stand, and ask him if any of the settlers in the region have stories to tell. His eyes visibly darken, but he says, “Nothing that can be substantiated with any observable proof. Good night.”

Blackwood Gazette #67-Journey to Lelina: Tall Tales and Folklore II: The Mist Walker

Blackwood Gazette #66-The Journey to Lelina: Tall Tales and Folklore I

By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

15/9-It’s been two days since we left New Crowndon on a riverboat, south on the Miskaton river toward the southern townships. I am told we will be making a couple of stops along the way, to take on supply and drop off and pick up new passengers. We will be disembarking in New Dennan, a port town about a day’s north from Lelina. All told, we should be arriving on sight on the 13th of Ten Month, if all goes well. From what I’ve heard, ‘all goes well’ is a tall order.

Passengers on the boat at present are rather scant…not many people are leaving New Crowndon for the southern frontier. A couple of years ago, this boat would have been full of prospectors, sales men, bar men, trappers, and purveyors of various amusements. However, word has gotten out that pickings are slim. Trappers and lumber men are still hitting it big, but gold seekers and those who follow have all but stopped, choosing to head northwest.

The boat itself is not without its amusements, of course. It is well stocked with cheap booze, a fact that Mister Mackay and Doctor Trenum are both exceedingly happy about. It is the only interest they seem to share, but it is more than enough. According to Doctor Trenum, she’d only corresponded with Mister Mackay once before, and through a proxy. Watching them now, once was enough. They sit at a roulette table, sharing a drink, either congratulating or ribbing each other over victories and losses, in equal amounts.

I spend the first evening of our journey in the presence of Doctor Rothery. He is pleasant enough, I have found, since expressing clearly my intention to have nothing more than a professional relationship with him. Well, at least to me. He often burbles things about Doctor Trenum into his cups at the end of the night. I get the feeling he is mostly harmless, and should he prove otherwise, I am sure Doctor Trenum is more than capable of dealing with him herself.

When he is not burbling, he is actually a rather rich source of information about the indigenous cultures. He is well regarded in his field for the time he spent with several southern tribes years before, an honor, I am told, that has never been granted to an outsider before or since.

He regales me with tales of his time living amongst them and participating in their traditions of oral storytelling. He tells me several. They are pleasant enough, until the sun goes down and he has a drink or two in him. Then he leans forward and tells me that there was one tale, from the very region into which we are heading, that made his blood run cold.

And what tale was that? I ask. Why, Miss Chatelaine, he says, that would be the tale of the Mist Walker.

*Real world note: Sorry that today’s entry is such a tease. Like I mentioned last week, I’m trying to keep these short, which can be difficult when you have a certain point in mind to make. And since the tale of intrepid reporter Adella Chatelaine and world renowned archaeologist Veronica Trenum is shaping up to be the longest, most plot and character heavy aspect of this whole Blackwood Gazette…thing…keeping them short is becoming increasingly difficult. I’m actually having doubts as to whether it fits within the whole ‘fictional newspaper set in a steampunk world’ framework I’ve built and whether or not I should spin it off in to its own thing. That’s a decision for another day, however. Errands to run, things to do. Enjoy!

Blackwood Gazette #66-The Journey to Lelina: Tall Tales and Folklore I

Blackwood Gazette #64- Crowndon Military Transports En Route to Monteddor Attacked

By Chester Seaton, News

10/9-The DeSantana Dispute in the southern Empire of Monteddor is heating up this week as the Crowndon military has confirmed that a military transport making its way to aid in rousting Yolanda DeSantana’s forces along Blackwood trade routes was attacked this weekend.

We first received reports about the attack a few days ago, but the Crowndon Navy refused to comment until today, as officially, the maneuver was supposed to be a secret. The revelation has caused an uproar among the Monteddorian government, who warned that any outside interference with the DeSantana Dispute would be met with serious economic and military sanctions. So far, however, no decision on the nature of these sanctions, or when they will be executed, has been made public. For now, Monteddor is refusing to relinquish custody of the dead or any survivors.

The attackers were said to be flying unmarked, planar-wing aircraft. The crack of rapid fire weaponry could be heard for miles around. The Crowndonian transport went down in an unpopulated area, but the wreckage has blocked a minor commercial road.

The identities of the attackers remains unknown. The Monteddorian military claims it was not them, and statements by witnesses in a nearby town have drawn similarities to an attack that occurred several weeks ago during a confrontation between the Crowndon military and the pirate Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre.

Blackwood Gazette #64- Crowndon Military Transports En Route to Monteddor Attacked

Blackwood Gazette #63-Meeting the Team

By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

8/9- Before I begin, I would like to note that this is the second time I have written this article. It was meant to be published about one week before it will eventually reach your eyes, but apparently the original version of my correspondence was lost in transit to the Gazette’s offices. Please excuse any errors on my part due to certain details being forgotten in the interim.

After leaving the University, Doctor Trenum and I go out for drinks. I remember feeling a little hesitant after the cruel joke the doctors had pulled, but I convinced myself I was being maybe just a little uptight about the whole thing. Still, I would be wary in the future, now that Doctor Trenum had revealed a penchant for mischief.

Her idea was to have some fun before meeting the rest of her team, a notion that was quickly forgotten when we found that said team had already occupied the restaurant we chose. Only one of their number was absent, apparently preferring the company of the citizens in the lower quarter. I can’t say I blamed him.

Coming along for the ride with us are Doctor Archibald Rothery, an expert in New Crowndon anthropology, as far as one can be an expert in such; Professor Martine Babin, curator of the museum in Val Coursais and leader in the field of archeological conservation; and Professor Babin’s two interns, Nico Pate and Meriam Caillot. Watching the two interns, I have the distinct feeling that Meriam is truly there for the science, while Nico is there mainly for Meriam.

The final, and absent member of our team is Matthias Bricklebrand Mackay, who the others refer to as “Brick”. Whether the nickname in out of love or derision, I am not completely sure. It appears to be interchangeable, and in the time since meeting him, Mr. Mackay does not seem to care. He is our guide, tracker, and general provider of security on this journey. He has a team of four other men with him, all of them of the utmost integrity, I am told. None of them have proven to be very talkative, however.

After entering the restaurant and seeing them there, Doctor Trenum is quick to suggest that we slowly back away and leave, but it is too late. Doctor Rothery sees us and invites us over. By the way he greets Doctor Trenum, it is apparent that their fondness for each other is heavily weighted on Rothery’s part; Doctor Trenum is visibly uncomfortable when he hugs her. He seems completely oblivious to this fact, which only makes it more painful to watch.

The others seem entirely pleasant; Professor Babin is preoccupied with a book, but warm enough to my inquiries. Nico and Meriam are likewise preoccupied with each other, piping in at times when discussing certain matters of interest. Nico is charming, but I sense a bit of envy on his part towards Meriam’s interest in archaeology, but he never goes so far as to put her down for it—at least not that I’ve seen thus far.

Our conversation never much sways toward the subject of our assignment, I’m afraid. I figure that has to do with the fact that we will all be neck deep in ruins and artifacts before long. For the most part, I am enjoying the company of my new companions. Doctor Rothery comes on a bit strong at times, both professionally and personally. He is a hugger, that one, something I have never been nor do I think I will ever be, particularly with strangers. I have expressed my boundaries with him and so far he has respected them without withdrawing completely.

It is not until the next morning that I meet Mister Mackay, and our conversation is brief once he learns that I am a member of the press. Hopefully his demeanor is short lived. Based on some of the tales I’ve heard from the others, I’m sure he would be a fascinating interview. He has chartered the steam boat we are to use to travel to Lelina, and we are currently making final preparations to leave.

*Sorry for the long post today. I try to keep these short and sweet, a nice little bite sized portion for your (near) daily entertainment, but once I got started on introducing the characters I had a hard time find a jumping off point without seeming too abrupt (which is often a problem I’m not always successful at solving.) Anyways, enjoy! I have a rough night ahead of me. I recently took a job at a local game store for some extra income, and I’m on tap for the midnight release of a major game. It’s going to be insane.

Blackwood Gazette #63-Meeting the Team

Blackwood Gazette #62-Are You Ready for Some Fool’s Ball?

By Huxley Pruitt, Sports

5/9-The Imperial Fool’s Ball League, the sport that has swept Crowndon gaming to the detriment of all other athletic endeavors, opened its third season last night. Thousands of fans, all of them under the delusion that their team is the best and that they somehow personally contribute to said team’s victory, came out in droves last night to eat smoked meat products and be rude to each other.

The sudden popularity of the sport has sparked the interest of sociologists in Nor Easter last year, who this year have decided to study the game, the behaviors of its fans, and its impacts, psychologically, physically, and economically.

“It’s all so very fascinating,” said one such scientist, who asked to remain anonymous. “The behaviors on display. Adult men–Crowndon men, so known for their normally stalwart demeanors—painting themselves in the bright colors of their teams and wearing the uniforms of their favorite players; it is akin, I suppose, to the fans of things like ‘The Gutted Earth’ you see dressing up as their favorite characters. Although, you’re less likely to wind up in the hospital if you get caught dressed as the villain in that novel than if you get caught wearing an opposing team’s jersey. There also tends to be a lot less rioting afterwards.”

The rioting, this sociologist says, lays at the crux of his study. It is a strange phenomenon, he says, that does not appear to be contingent upon victory or defeat, nor does it appear to happen with any regularity.

“The conditions have to be just right,” he says. “It typically happens toward the end of the season, it is typically the home team that goes on the warpath, and it can be either a way to celebrate a win or decry a loss. That’s the most baffling thing about it all: adults, smashing through their own streets, because they’re happy. It makes no sense! But it happens.”

The proliferation of the sport has left many scholars baffled, particularly at the traction it has gotten in Crowndon, of all places. Crowndon is, after all, often characterized by their collective humorlessness. I asked a few fans what they saw in the game.

“Not sure if you have noticed this, good sir,” one fan answered. “But Crowndon has received quite the thorough beating this year. I think we deserve a little bit of an outlet.”

That’s not to say the game does not have its fans outside of Crowndon. At least one high profile Nor Easterner, Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, has taken an interest.

“Of course I’m a fan!” Rinkenbach said. “I invented the game, after all. Then I introduced the game to Crowndon, sat back, and laughed.”

Blackwood Gazette #62-Are You Ready for Some Fool’s Ball?

Blackwood Gazette#61- Northern Crowndon Towns Going Dark as Blackwood Runs Low

by Chester Seaton, News

3/9-Several small townships in Crowndon’s northern regions are feeling the pinch of Yolanda DeSantana’s occupation this week. Nostholm, Britley, and Shattlesborough-by-Vasterton were forced to cut all power in order to cope with the lack of Blackwood supply. Other towns are expected to follow suit.

“We ain’t seen a shipment in a month,” said Nostholm’s mayor. “Not since this whole thing with the DeSantanas started. And we’re a small town, and don’t burn much, but we only rate a month’s ration at a time. We’re down to our last embers, here, and we’ve been forced to cut back on anything that don’t contribute to the industry.”

Crowndon’s leaders are currently working on a plan to get more Blackwood to these northern territories, but are reluctant to delve into the reserves.

An official release from the Imperial Capitol stated, “We are brokering an exchange with surrounding cities, and drawing up plans with the nations of the Empire to implement Blackwood rationing. That will only go so far, however.”

Crowndon General Bartolomeu Fross, who had strong words last month when Yolanda DeSantana took over the supply routes, issued his own, unofficial statement.

“Any Crowndon town going dark is unacceptable,” General Fross said. “I don’t care if it’s the Capital or the lowliest northern hovel. Something needs to be done. Not only is it a matter of Crowndonian pride, but the well-being of our citizens. The first snows will fall next month, cutting off all passage north of Caldebeck Bay and the Anadem Mountains. We need to make sure Northern Crowndon is supplied before then, or we’re going to have a lot of dead citizens come next spring.”

Blackwood Gazette#61- Northern Crowndon Towns Going Dark as Blackwood Runs Low