The Lelina Horror, Part 7

ADELLA (V)

I found getting back to the boat a bit slow going. My head was still reeling from the events, mainly from coming face to face with the man behind so much horror here in the colonies, and from finding out I had helped a wanted fugitive.

The fact that Von Grimm had called the Rommsbachian ‘Mister Klaudhopper’ didn’t fully dawn on me until I was half way back to the docks, and it was only after seeing a poster for Klaus Klaudhopper that I fully put the picture together. I told myself that it was better that the only person who may be able to answer questions about what happened on Waystation Bravo should get away from Dr. Argyle Von Grimm, even if it meant he was still at large.

However, I deigned to alert the proper authorities that Klaudhopper was in the area.
Once returning to the docks, I located a Marshall’s office and told them what had happened. Only one man manned the desk, and he informed me that they were well aware of Von Grimm’s presence. They had not heard of Klaudhopper, however, nor did they seem particularly interested. Understandable, I suppose, given the more immediate threat of a bunch of mechanized hoodlums tearing the town apart. Since Von Grimm and Klaudhopper were both involved, I felt it likely that dealing with one may mean dealing with the other, so I did not push the matter.

It was only after returning to the boat that I realized that would not happen, for who did I find, standing on the deck, looking out over the river? Klaus Klaudhopper.

I must have gasped in surprise, or made some sort of noise, because he turned to me. Recognition came over his face and he smiled. He thanked me for helping him escape. It took me off guard.

While he struck me as a dangerous man, I did not think him necessarily an evil one, certainly not someone who would maliciously cause the destruction of a Waystation. I told him I knew who he was, and let him know who I was.

“Ah,” he said. “That’s very good. We can strike deal then, ja? You keep mouth shut, I give you exclusive on what happened at the station, once I feel safe.”

I agreed to his terms. Little did I know that we would not get the opportunity.

I came to find out that it was Meriam who suggested that Mr. Klaudhopper come with us after they escaped the library, and that Mr. Klaudhopper had given them an alias (understandable, given the circumstances). Still, I suggested that he stay away from Mr. Mackay, who no doubt would have recognized him on the spot.

Word around the boat that night was that the Von Grimm gang had left the town around sun down, without causing too much damage. They had apparently shot a man’s horse and burned down a hotel…unsubstantiated claims, but I’m loath to believe it. At any rate, the night passed without incident.

We left port at noon the next day, with Doctor Trenum and Mister Mackay finding their way back just minutes before departure and sporting several bags of winnings from some casino or another, not to mention severe hangovers. Klaudhopper vanished shortly before, probably hiding away in his cabin.

Our troubles did not start until well after dark. Most of us were on the boat’s amusement deck when we received word of a fire below decks. Shortly after that, the boat’s paddle wheel stopped turning, and gun fire from the riverbanks began. The gun fire from the banks was a distraction, as several armed assailants, both men and women, scaled the side of the boat from canoes. My first thought was that Von Grimm had caught on to Klaus’ ruse and pursued the boat, but I could tell immediately upon seeing our attackers that this was not the case.

They were a well-trained offensive force, not interested in wanton destruction. Though they were well armed (most of them sported revolvers, which would indicate that they were also well funded), they mainly used their arms for intimidation and crowd control. It was only until Mister Mackay and his security force broke out their own weapons that things threatened to turn truly violent.

But even then, our mysterious attackers practiced restraint. They had Mackay and his team surrounded on the main deck, locked in a standoff. It was then that they informed us of what exactly they were looking for, and of course, that something was Mister Klaudhopper.

Mackay told them that Klaudhopper was not on board to the best of his knowledge. That was when the boat’s upper most port-side cabin at the aft of the boat erupted into a cloud of flame and splinters. Both sides of the skirmish looked up at the wreckage in disbelief before hurling accusations at one another.

A voice interrupted the proceedings, from the roof of the bridge. It was Klaudhopper. All guns pointed toward him, but he did not duck or scurry away. Instead he issued an ultimatum…everyone drop their weapons, or he would blow the entire ship.

That’s when he held up a stick of dynamite.

That tiny stick of dynamite changed everyone’s mood, real quick. I’ve never seen so many loud, A-Type personalities struck so completely dumb that fast before, and I’d be lying if I said I did not enjoy it just a little bit.

Klaudhopper informed us all that he’d lined the interior of the ship’s cargo hold with dynamite he’d found in a shipment heading out from the port of Docryville. It was a claim we were all willing to believe, since the town and many of its sisters in the area had heavy mining interests.

He warned our attackers, whom he called “Cartographer Scum-suckles” (whatever that means), to vacate the vessel or else be blown to hell and gone. And since he wasn’t too keen on Mister Mackay and his men pointing their rifles at him, Klaudhopper ordered them off as well. Which of course would have been very bad for our expedition.

The saving grace of all of this (partially, in any case), was Doctor Trenum. With everyone preoccupied with Klaudhopper, and Klaudhopper preoccupied with the small army below him, no one noticed her make her way up to the roof of the bridge and behind the mad Rommsbachian.

She bonked him over the head with a coal shovel, knocking him down but not unconscious. The situation would have been ended there, except that something completely out of any of our hands occurred, as the dynamite he’d held rolled off of the roof and lodged itself in a wall sconce holding a gas light.

The last thing I remember before Mister Mackay grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me over board was watching Doctor Trenum pull Klaudhopper up by his left arm and jumping from the boat.

Mister Mackay and I plunged into the water, along with several others. Even beneath the surface I heard the deep THUMP of the explosion as the bridge disintegrated into flaming splinters. I broke the surface, saw Mackay swimming for the shore, and followed him.

Upon making land I saw Doctor Trenum hauling Klaudhopper out of the water, alternately laughing and cursing in Rommsbachian. That laughter ended quickly when Mister Mackay set upon the man, demanding to know who he was and who the attackers were.

Klaudhopper clammed up and has not spoken since. I saw no further sign of our attackers.

And that is where I find myself now, dear readers, sitting on the river bank, soaking wet and writing these events down while they are fresh on a sheaf of paper that somehow survived my fate deep within a sealed trunk. I can hear the rapid clopping of horses’ hooves galloping in the distance. With any hope they can get us squared away and back on the road to Lelina.

The men who found us were a posse of Colonial Marshals who’d been traveling south and heard the explosions. Mister Mackay threw Klaudhopper at their feet and informed them who he was. They arrested him and sent him, along with three of their number, to the nearest outpost ten miles to the west.

The Marshals agreed to escort the rest of us to the next town. The trip was without incident, although in my exhaustion I could have sworn I saw movement in the brush, trailing us. I suppose it may have been our attackers, but surely they would have trailed Mister Klaudhopper. We arrived without incident after noon and were treated to lunch by the Marshals’ Chief after he found out who Doctor Trenum and I were. Apparently he’d been told to expect us.

After eating and getting patched up, the Chief informed us that he would be sending several Marshals with us (a revelation that elicited much grumbling from Mister Mackay). He could not cite a specific reason for this, except that the situation in Lelina had changed. Townsfolk have started going missing.

Just one or two at first, the Chief told us. But this past weekend, ten people vanished in one night. I remembered Doctor Rothery’s tale of the Mist Walker. It is foolish, but it caused me to shiver.

We are set to leave in the morning. I am unsure what resources will be available to me in terms of sending out missives, as the area is said to be remote, so I will be sending copies of most of my gathered notes to my editor at the Blackwood Gazette. I know not what we will find in the swamps surrounding the town of Lelina; only know that the horizon ahead is gray, and the air increasingly muffled and humid.

Wish us luck.

The Lelina Horror, Part 7

The Lelina Horror, Part 6

ADELLA (IV)

Our journey into the southern frontier has been rather eventful this past week (and as a result, unduly stressful.) After a series of unfortunate turns of events, 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 floating 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 traveling.

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

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 started 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 Rommsbachian 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 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 and following quickly. Believe me when I say, you do not want to be here when it arrives.”

I looked to my compatriots. Professor Babin frowned skeptically, while Meriam stood silently behind him, wringing her hands. Nico, who just stirred from his nap, sat up and asked what was going on.

“We’re leaving,” I told them, trying to sound resolute despite the blood pumping through my ears. Seeing no reason for the Rommsbachian to lie to us I’d decided to take him at his word. I approached the front desk and told the librarian that we needed to leave, and asked if there was a back door. She told us that there was, and proceeded to detail the long bureaucratic process we would have to follow in order to get the door open. Halfway through her monologue, a drawling voice interrupted from the halls outside.

“BOOOOY!” said the voice. “Why are you running? We just want to discuss the terms of your contract. You were, after all, the one who suggested we open negotiations. So come on out, boy. Let’s negotiate and try to reconcile your failure with my profit, shall we?”

The Rommsbachian cursed under his breath and hefted the revolver, his hand shaking slightly, and reiterated to us the necessity of vacating the premises five minutes prior. I asked him who was coming.

“Von Grimm,” was all he said. Professor Babin and Meriam both gasped. I felt every muscle in my body tighten. Doctor Argyle Von Grimm? What was he doing so far east?

I turned back to the librarian to insist that she open the back door, but she was gone. A door at the back of her office hung open, letting in the last of the day’s light. I told the others to follow me as I went around the desk. The Professor, Meriam, and Nico followed, but the Rommsbachian planted his feet, squaring for a fight.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

“Making a stand,” he said, and drew a second revolver. “Von Grimm will not stop until my debt is paid, or he is dead, or I am dead. Better to end it now. If I run, he will burn town looking for me. Don’t want to think what he might do if he finds me with you.”

“So get out of town, if you’re so worried about it,” I said.

“How? He has men everywhere.”

“You seem resourceful,” I told him. “I feel like you could probably figure that out for yourself.”

“Fair enough. How will Von Grimm know I have left?”

I took a deep breath and made a choice, a choice that was probably incredibly foolish, looking back on it now.

I told him that I would give Von Grimm a witness. The Rommsbachian nodded and turned to leave. Before he did, I asked him to fire two shots at a window at the back of the library. Without hesitation, he lifted the revolver. It coughed thunder through the stacks and the bullets hit the window, cracking it but not breaking it. I told him that would suffice and he ran, leaving me alone in the library with a mad man.

In the hall outside, I heard voices and the sound of rapid footsteps. I had to act fast. I ran to one of the tables, picked up a chair without stopping, and slammed it into the cracked window. The glass shattered and fell, most of it outside. A piece hit my right arm and scratched my wrist. All better to sell the illusion, really.

I fell to the floor and held my wrist, trying to staunch the flow. A couple seconds later, several armed brigands ran into the library, flintlocks drawn and charged. They saw the open window and ran over, cursing. Then they saw me.

One of them picked me up by the arm, shoved his weapon in my face and demanded to know where the Rommsbachian had gone. My eyes cut toward the window. It should have been obvious. I told him the man had smashed the window and escaped into the alley beyond. That was not a satisfactory answer apparently, and the man made to strike me with the grip of his gun. Another stopped him, a tall man with a curling mustache and a monocle, leaning on a cane in the center of the room. I recognized him immediately as Doctor Argyle Von Grimm.

“Now, now, Budd. No need for that, just yet,” Von Grimm said. “I must apologize for my man, ma’am. He takes his moniker a little too seriously at times.”

“And what would that be?” I asked.

“Big Bad Bud. I coined it my self. He took to it like a fish to water. Started writing it in blood on the walls of places we robbed. I personally find it all a bit garish but I can’t argue with results.”

I scanned the faces of the others while Von Grimm spoke. They were stern and scarred men, all of them missing arms and legs and hands, all replaced with mechanical facsimiles.

“Speaking of monikers, ma’am, what should I call you?”

“Adella. Chatelaine.”

A look of recognition came over his face.

“You’re that reporter for the Blackwood Gazette,” he said, and I nodded. “Fine publication, that. That article about my exploits a few months back did wonders for my reputation. I never really had problems fighting with townspeople before, but now they just roll over and let us right in. Haha! As good an advertisement as a man could ask for. I feel I should pay the Gazette for their service.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out three gold coins, which he placed in my hand. He then excused himself and told his men to follow ‘Mister Klaudhopper’. The men climbed through the window. Von Grimm left the way he came.

When they were gone, I let go a deep sigh of relief. It’s not every day you find you have a fan in a complete psychopath. I looked at the gold coins in my hand. I did not keep them, but placed them in the empty donations jar the librarian had set up on the front desk. I waited a moment before heading outside. There was a trough for watering horses by the front door, along with a water pump. I felt the need to wash my hands, and the wound. I did so, and headed toward the water front, back to the steam boat.

I’d had my fill of Docryville.

The Lelina Horror, Part 6

The Lelina Horror, Part 5

ADELLA: PART (III)

First of Nine Month, 280th Year of the Triumvirate

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. We should be arriving on site 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 the gold pickings are slim. What gold was found had washed down from the mountains to the south, in a region colloquially known as the Deadlands. Supposedly, everyone who has gone into the mountains to search for the mother lode are never to be seen again. The region maintains interest with trappers and lumber men, however the gold seekers and those who follow have all but stopped, choosing to head northwest.

Despite a sparsity of passengers, the boat does have its amusements. 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, through a proxy. Watching them now, that one correspondence appears to have been enough for them to know they’d get along swimmingly. 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 since clearly expressing 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. 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, he claims, 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 harmless amusements for the most part, 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.

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 the mist choked 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 concealed by a rolling cloak of mist. 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 mist rolls away, you can see the glint of moonlight off of 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: to wander into its territory is to be considered, without question, a threat.

One tribe, however, far to the east and along the shore, paints the creature in an entirely malevolent light. They say that in times long forgotten, on a night when the fog from the ocean mingled with the mists from the swamps, 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, 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 long ago someone 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 about the Mist Walker. His eyes darken, but he says, “Nothing that can be substantiated with any observable proof. Good night.”

The Lelina Horror, Part 5

The Lelina Horror, Part 4

PIXIE (II)
24th of 5th Month, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

“Sorry about the headache,” I said, when Professor Oates started to come to. “I had to act fast, and my little sleeping pills don’t differentiate between friend and foe.”

“W-who are you?” He looked around, and tried to move. “And why am I tied up?”

“Oh, yes. I feel I must apologize for that as well. I wasn’t sure how you’d react, seeing as how I just gassed you, so to keep you from running I restrained you.”

Listening to myself speak just then I realized how wrongheaded that was.

“What do you want?”

“Well, to be honest it isn’t very different from what these two wanted.” I opened the door on a nearby broom closet to reveal Bianca and the Monteddorian stashed inside, all trussed up and still sleeping. “Information on Lelina, to be precise. Information on Adella Chatelaine and Veronica Trenum’s whereabouts, to be even more precise.”

The professor squinted at me, and recognition sparked in his eyes.

“You’re that Nor Eastern agent. Pixie Sinclaire.”

“That is I. How did you know that?”

“I saw you in the paper. You caused quite a ruckus at Miss Chatelaine’s memorial.”

“That made the papers, huh?”

“Don’t be coy, Miss Sinclaire. Everything you do makes the papers. Seems rather unbecoming, for a spy to be as high profile as you are.”

“Former spy,” I corrected, somewhat incorrectly. Truth of the matter was my status as an agent for the Nor Eastern Subterfuge Society was on-again, off-again, not unlike an unhealthy relationship. An area I had much experience in those days.

“You seemed to be adamant that Miss Chatelaine was alive,” the professor said. “Do you really think that?”

“I hope so. Especially if Veronica is with her. I figure you can attest to that, yourself.”

The Professor smiled. It was a sad smile, nostalgic. He wanted to believe it. I’m just not sure he did, and that worried me.

“What is your stake in all of this?” he asked.

“Adella is a dear friend, and Veronica a dear rival. Both are important, I feel. And, if I’m being completely honest, the tug of mystery and promise of renown should I find them appeals to me as well. Those are a distant third and far more distant fourth, I assure you. It isn’t lost on me that lives are at stake.”

“Alright, then. I’ll tell you what I know. Untie me.”

I pulled the dagger I keep in a sheath at my back and stepped forward to cut his ropes. I made it through the first one when I heard a thump from within the closet.

“Do you think you can untie your other hand?” I asked. The professor said that he could, and I excused myself.

I walked over to the closet, priming another of my sleeping bombs as I went. I stepped up to the closet door, and cracked it open. Bianca’s wild eyes peered at me from within. Even half lidded from the sleeping compound, those eyes made me feel like mouse that’s just realized it’s looking at a snake.

“Yyyooouu bi—“ I didn’t let her finish as I chucked the bomb inside and shut the door. I heard coughing and then silence. I turned back to the doctor. His mouth was agape.

“Those aren’t dangerous, are they?”

“I’d imagine they could be. Haven’t had the opportunity to test long term effects, nor do I really want to. Now, professor, let us start.”

He told me about the expedition, and who went with them. I was familiar with Mister Mackay, and his presence was a cause for concern. The Professor also told me where Adella and Veronica had gone next: a southern river port called Docryville, where they are said to have caused a bit of a scene.

“Thank you, Professor.” I turned to leave, then remembered the two hooligans stashed in the closet. They’d been interested in Lelina, as well. I figured it might be important to ask about. “One other thing…who were those two?”

“Them? They’re no one. Just a couple of leg breakers sent to collect a debt.”

“Leg breakers, you say? Dressed in matching uniforms and bearing six-shooters? My Man, you must have pissed off someone very wealthy indeed.”

“You might say that.”

“Come now, professor. I thought we were in agreement? I heard your conversation with them while I was creeping around in the hall. Who are they, really?”

The Professor, if he wasn’t frightened before, seemed to be so now. His eyes darted around the room, and his mouth worked silently, as though unable to find words.

“They…they’re Cartrographers. I think.”

“Cartographers? Map makers?”

“Not really. Ephemeral Cartographers, they’re called.”

I drew back, unsure whether to laugh or be irritated.

“The Ephemeral Cartographers? The super-secret society that supposedly pulls the strings of world events from the shadows, charting and controlling the flow of resources and guiding the development of civilization? They’re a myth.”

“If only that were so. In case you hadn’t noticed, you just gassed two of them and stuck them in a closet—“

“Where, if they’re as secretive as you say, they should be quite comfortable.”

“Except they’re working out in the open, now. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a run in with them, nor am I the only one. They’re not hiding, anymore. Something has chased them from the shadows. And that frightens me beyond belief.”

The Lelina Horror, Part 4

The Lelina Horror, Part 3

PIXIE (I)

24th of 5th Month, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

My search for the missing reporter Adella Chatelaine has thus far proven to be…less than smooth.

I won’t go into detail about having to make my way through Crowndon. They view me as some sort of bogeyman there, so it goes without saying that most of that particular leg of this journey was spent sleeping in out of the way flea-bag hotels and ducking into alleys at the first sign of, well, anyone.

However, by the time I arrived on Waystation Echo I thought I might be in the clear. A large oversight on my part, I must admit, given the majority of people on Echo hail from and are loyal to Crowndon. Within half an hour I was set upon not only by Crowndon soldiers, but bounty hunters looking for a quick pay day. I’d hoped to get passage on a nice passenger ship, spend the week long journey to New Crowndon sleeping on a velvet pillow and stuffing my face with strawberries for a long overdue change of pace. Instead I found myself stowed away in the hold of a cattle barge, stuffed into a tiny nook to avoid the hooves of my new bovine companions.

So it was that I arrived in the colonies smelling like hay and manure, with a crick in my neck that felt as though someone had stuffed a metal rod down along my spine. It all led to me having a nasty disposition, a disposition exacerbated by the fact that I’d now arrived in yet another territory controlled by Crowndon. Luckily for me, the people of the colonies think of themselves as something unique, if not entirely separate, from their Empire of origin.

Still, I didn’t know that when I stepped off the ship to find a group of New Crowndon officials waiting for me. They offered me a job of utmost importance. I’ve taken it, seeing as how I need the money after leaving most of my things on Waystation Echo…but that is an entirely different story.

This story is about finding Adella.

Once I’d taken on his job offer, Governor Ancroft was most amenable to help me with my task, pointing me in the direction of certain inns and other places where Adella and her expedition had been spotted. The first place I went to? New Crowndon University, to speak with the imminent Professor Barnaby Joplin Oates.

The University was rather sparsely populated when I arrived, with most of its students enjoying a week off for a local holiday celebrating the anniversary of some founding of a thing or some battle or other. These colonials are always finding ways to shirk work.

Understandable I suppose, since they never seem to stop working otherwise.

Thus it was that I had some difficulty locating the University’s Archaeological Department, having no one to guide me. And with no one to guide me, I had no one to announce me. Which probably played a large role in how I came to stumble into my next precarious position.

It started, as always, with the echoes of voices made murky and looming by distance and the marble floors of a long corridor. I followed the sound, thinking I might ask for direction.

However, as always, proximity offered clarity, and I came to realize that the voices were rather threatening.

It’s never easy, is it?

I softened my steps and approached the only door in the corridor with a lamp on. The door had a name stenciled on it: Professor Oates. It seemed I had found my man, and my man was currently engaged with some rather unsavory sounding callers.

“Look, old man,” a gruff voice said. His accent betrayed him as hailing from Salasan, in Monteddor. “This is what we want, in plain and simple terms: testimony saying that the site in Lelina is of no great importance, at least in comparison to the dangers of the region.”

“B-but, that just isn’t true!” Another voice said, I’m assuming the professor. “My academic integrity denies…”

“Your ‘academic integrity’?” A third voice, female, with hints of Nor Easter weaved with the local accent. A traveler, then. “Your ‘academic integrity’ has already led two teams to their deaths, professor, and I’m sure more than a few members of those teams were people you claimed to care about. Do you really want to send more people, more of your students, to die?”

“You seem awfully sure of their fate,” the Professor said. “I’m thinking these dangers you people speak of are yourselves.”

“That’s partially true,” said the Monteddorian. “We are a danger. But hardly the worst thing in that swamp. Look, old man, we’re trying to help you, whether you believe it or not. But we can’t do that with a bunch of eggheads running around the swamps getting snatched. So, call off your expedition, release a statement saying that the University of New Crowndon has discovered insufficient evidence to warrant continued interest in light of the danger. Simple.”

“If only that were so,” the Professor said. “The expedition has already left. They have a week’s head start.”

This was followed by a pause, and then things started to get ugly.

“You decrepit old FOOL!” the Nor Easterner shouted, and I heard something that sounded an awful lot like a fist hitting someone in the face, followed by pained moaning.

“Bianca, stand down,” said the Monteddorian.

“I will not! Don’t you get it? Every person this idiot sends is more blood on our hands. It makes our mission harder, and it increases the threat of exposure. We’re already going to have to kill the old codger. Why don’t you let me get a few good whacks in first, to work out my frustration?”

Well, I’d heard enough of that. It was high time to make my grand entrance. I reached into a pouch on my belt and pulled out a small device of my own making (though, I must admit that I had some help with the timing mechanism from a certain somebody whose name rhymes with Rigel Rinkenbach, as much as it pains me to say it) and opened the door.

“Professor Oates?” I said in my best naïve student voice and peeked my head in the door. All three of them craned their heads to look at me. I took in the scene as quickly as I could. The professor, sitting behind a desk with a ribbon of crimson red running down the side of his face; the Nor Eastern woman, ‘Bianca’, standing beside him; and the Monteddorian sitting on the front of the professor’s desk. Both of the Professor’s guests wore dark blue, high necked uniforms and gun belts.

“Oh! Excuse me,” I said. “I didn’t know you had guests.”

The guests looked at each other. I used the split second of confusion to trigger the device and rolled it along the floor toward the desk. This curious action bought me another second of confusion.

“What hell…?” Bianca said, and the device opened and released a compound of Tinnigan’s Weave and Fiorgorite…guaranteed to cure insomnia in an elephant. I pulled back out of the door and held it closed. Fits of coughing came from inside, then panicked gunshots. Two bullets ripped through the wall to my left.

One of them made it to the door and started trying to pull it open. I braced against the threshold, holding it shut with my weight. Judging from the cursing coming from the other side of the door, it was Bianca. Lucky for me, because the Monteddorian had been twice my size. Still, she put up quite the fight. It surprised me a bit that she was even still awake.

She got smart in the end and shot through the door’s window. Luckily, I had already lowered my center of gravity to keep the door shut and the bullets went over my head. With the window broken, I no longer had need to hold the door closed, so I let go and rolled away.

Bianca lunged out through the broken window, coughing. She hit the floor, looked at me, and raised her weapon, a silver revolver. She fixed me with eyes like a mad dog’s. I thought I was done for.

Finally, she passed out. I crept forward slowly, anticipating a trap. She was out cold. I kicked the revolver away and turned her over on her back. How had she been able to withstand the sleeping formula?

Her eyes were sunken and purple. I examined them closely and found evidence of injection. An addict, then. Probably hopped up on some sort of stimulant. I tied her up first, as securely as I could, with double knots.

I moved into the office, holding my breath, and retrieved the Professor. He’d have a headache when he woke up but he’d live, assuming I got him somewhere safe and we didn’t run into anymore of his friends. I set him down outside in the hall and then took care of the Monteddorian. Once that was taken care of I took a moment to catch my breath, looking at the three unconscious bodies at my feet.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Well, Pixie, you really are off to a good start this time, aren’t you?

The Lelina Horror, Part 3

The Lelina Horror, Part Two

ADELLA (II)

The Ninth of Eighth Month, 280th Year of the Triumvirate

“Veronica!” Doctor Barnaby Joplin Oates says, greeting us at the door of the university. A wide smile comes over Doctor Trenum’s face. I’ve seen her smile on several occasions (she’s a very smiley person), but this one stands out to me.

“Doctor Oates, it’s been too long,” she says, and the two of them hug. I get the feeling that Doctor Oates and Doctor Trenum know each other. The hug goes on for a few beats longer than a hug between two old acquaintances normally would. When it ends, Veronica turns to me.

“Adella, this is Doctor Barnaby Oates. He’s an old teacher, friend, and mentor…really, more like a father. If it wasn’t for him, I doubt I ever would have finished my doctorate.”

“Oh, hush now, Veronica. I have every faith that you could have overcome any obstacle in your path. I just helped you do it faster.”

Doctor Trenum smiles again and Doctor Oates turns to me.

“You must be Adella Chatelaine.”

“Yes, Doctor. Pleased to meet you.”

We shake and he says, “I must say I am very pleased to have the interest of such a fine publication as the Gazette. Interest in historical pursuits has sadly fallen out of favor among the public in recent times, I’m afraid.”

“I assure you Doctor, that it hasn’t fallen out of favor with me.”

“Very good! Right. This way, please.” Doctor Oates gestures to the door. “I have some very exciting things to show the both of you.”

We follow Doctor Oates to the Archaeology Department, where several artifacts from Lelina are being kept. He goes over them one by one. Most are unremarkable; stone and clay works that are common to the area. There is one piece, however, that catches both Doctor Trenum’s and my attention.

A damaged device composed of a series of gears encased in a metal shell sits on a nearby table, contained in a metal case with a thick observation window on top. Doctor Oates informs us that it was taken from the actual Lelina site.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Oates says. “A piece of machinery not so very different from our own, only much older. About 5,000 years, based on our observations, which makes it contemporary with the site.”

“What’s with the case?” Doctor Trenum says, studying it. “Two inches of solid lead? Some sort of containment?”

“That’s something better experienced than explained,” Doctor Oates says. “Here, put your hand over the observation window.”

Doctor Trenum does so, but not for very long before she grimaces and pulls her hand away. I ask her what she felt.

“I can’t say,” she said. “It was fleeting…I’m already forgetting what it felt like, exactly. It was most unpleasant. Something less physical, more like an emotion, in the pit of my stomach and the back of my mind; a deep sorrow. Melancholy. Were I not a scientist, I would recommend staying away from it. But we have never found any answers by avoiding discomfort. Go ahead, Adella, if you wish.”

I stick my hand over the window. I don’t feel anything. I look at the Doctors, who observe me keenly, like some sort of experiment. I close my eyes, focusing on the cool metal box against my hand.

“Feel anything yet?” Doctor Trenum asks.

“No,” I say.

“You don’t feel something like the distant brush of cold fingers from across ageless aeons against the back of your neck?”

“What? No…”

That’s when I hear a snort. I open my eyes to see Doctor Trenum’s face glowing a bright red. My confusion sets her off into reels of laughter. Doctor Oates only smiles. I fear I have just been the victim of a prank.

“Ah, the old ‘Mysterious Doodad’ trick,” Doctor Trenum says in between fits of laughter. “Gets them every time, right Barnaby?”

I pull my hand away from the metal case, not sure how to react. The joke isn’t very funny, and quite frankly I am disappointed that Doctor Trenum would do something so adolescent in nature. I ask if there truly is a reason for the case, or if that is just part of the prank, as well.

“Oh, no,” says Doctor Oates. “The case is necessary. That thing in there was throwing off some sort of magnetic wave that completely screwed with our instrumentation. After it arrived, we had to re-wind all of the clocks in the university. A real chore, that was, and no mistake.”

I ask if there is anything else we should know about the artifact. He tells me that it is part of a larger item, still located at the Lelina site. A large device full of gears and pipes, that gives off the same magnetic waves, strong enough to throw off a compass from miles away. He theorizes this has something to do with tales of travelers getting lost in the area.

But that, he tells me, is not the biggest discovery at the site.

Doctor Oates walks over to a projector and asks Doctor Trenum to dim the lights. On the wall appears a photograph overlooking what I assume are the Lelina ruins. Doctor Oates pulls out a telescoping baton and points to a shadowy region on the map.

“This,” he says, “Is an entry way, sealed by an iron door. Five feet thick, and rusted shut.”

The only thing I see in the area he is pointing to are sepia toned shadows amongst more sepia toned shadows that vaguely form the shape of a structure. I just nod, expecting him to make his point in time.

“This door is water and air tight,” Oates continues. “So while the outside surface of the door is heavily rusted, it is likely anything located within the underground structure is largely intact.”

Doctor Trenum steps forward, and says, “Making this potentially the most complete example of Pre-Rift culture we have on record.”

“Precisely,” Doctor Oates says, collapsing his baton and sticking it in his pocket. “If we ever expect to have a complete understanding of civilization in the Newlands prior to the Alchemical Rift, or find the answers to the apparent connection to sites around the world, this is our best opportunity to date.”

“Too bad we cannot open it,” Doctor Trenum says. I ask for clarification on that point. While the door is quite thick, I do not see why it cannot be cut through with a torch.

“As Doctor Oates says, it is air tight,” Doctor Trenum says. “The second we open it up, we risk damaging any artifacts inside. If we keep it closed, we are in the dark. We open it up, we are still in the dark.”

“We are working on ways around that, of course,” Oates says, “But all of those ways are theoretical at the moment; we having nothing working. In the meantime, there are still plenty items of note at the site. Most important of which is the device this thing came off of.”

Oates indicates the box.

“I have prepared a kit for you and your team, Doctor Trenum,” he says. “Said team will meet you tomorrow, on the boat. They are a bright bunch, starving for the opportunity.”

One look at Doctor Trenum’s face is enough to show she is not thrilled, but she does not protest. She’s turned back to the picture, and is running her finger over the faint, grainy outline of some sort of symbol.

“What does the inscription say?” She asks.

Doctor Oates shakes his head. “I’ve no idea. The picture isn’t very good, and the locals who took the photograph made no note of it. They probably thought it was a graffiti.”

“I can just make out one symbol,” Doctor Trenum says. “It’s similar to symbols I’ve seen at sites in Pharassus.”

“Any idea what it means?” I ask.

“Not a clue,” Adella said. “It’s a dead language, with no sort of codex available to help us translate. It just looks familiar, is all.”

I crane my head and squint my eyes. “Sort of looks like a couple of snakes, one white, one black, and the white one is eating the black one’s tail.”

The two doctors look at each other, then up at the picture. They shoulder me out of the way.

“Hmmm,” Doctor Oates says. “Yes, two snakes, one eating the other?”

“Possibly,” Doctor Trenum replies. “Or maybe, one snake shedding its skin? A symbol for change?”

“Rebirth?”

“Yes…rebirth after a sort of death, the sloughing of dead skin.”

They continue on in this manner for quite some time, mumbling back and forth and exchanging theories. I’m starting to feel abandoned when Doctor Trenum backs away from the picture.

“I suppose we’ll find out more once I’m on site,” she says, and turns to me.

“Come on, Adella.” She puts a friendly arm around my neck. “Let us go have some fun, before we meet up with the dead weight. Farewell, Barnaby!”

“You too, dear girl. Be safe. I look forward to hearing about what you find.”

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 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 archaeological 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 often refer to as “Brick”. Whether the nickname is out of love or derision, I am not completely sure. It appears to be interchangeable, and Mr. Mackay shows no sign of preference in any case. He is our guide, tracker, and general provider of security on this journey. He has a team of four other men with him; I am told that all of them are men of the utmost integrity. They are also men of utmost discretion, as I have not been able to get a single one to speak with me.

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. At least 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. Otherwise, I find him entirely pleasant to be around.

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.

The Lelina Horror, Part Two

The Lelina Horror, Part One

ADELLA  (I)

7th of Eighth Month, 280th Year of the Triumvirate

Halfway through the long western leg of our airship journey to the Imperial Colonies, Doctor Veronica Trenum asks me if I have ever heard the theory of how the Newlands came into being. I tell her that I haven’t, and she smiles a little half smile. I expect the world renowned archaeologist to regale me with a bit of history, or a creation myth of some sort. What I get instead is more a taste of folk whimsy.

“They say it’s a shit the Man took when he laid down in the ocean to die.”

The answer takes me aback for a few seconds; most every story Doctor Trenum tells me does at first. She’s a fount of obscure references, tales, and cultural anecdotes. As usual, after the initial shock wears off, I laugh. Usually, this is where Doctor Trenum herself would join me, but she does not. She instead gives me an impatient, sideways glare. I stop laughing. She’s deadly serious.

As it turns out, that really is the grand mythic explanation that the colonists have for the place. That when the Man laid down, died, and formed the Old Continent, he defecated, forming the Newlands. I find it a bit crass, personally, but after having spent a week here, I can see the disillusion that might bear such cynicism.

We land in New Crowndon, and it is very much like what I’d imagine the ports of Old Crowndon must have looked like two hundred years ago, at the beginning of our own industrialization. Ramshackle buildings dot the harbor, thrown up in haste to serve necessity. A few sit in a perpetual state of half renovation, the abandoned properties of shipping companies that tried to expand too quickly and ran out of money in the process.
Beyond the harbor are the city’s old quarters, the town that sprung up around the first settlers’ landing. The buildings were sturdy once, but fifty years of life along the coast without proper maintenance have taken their toll.

Most of the streets here are still mud. Gnats, mosquitos, and a dozen other unholy winged annoyances buzz around putrid green puddles of stagnate water. The imprints of horse shoes litter the edges of the main thoroughfare, indicative of the fact that most people here still ride horse back. Rare is the occasion that one sees the unbroken track of a wheel, and when one does, it’s typically evidence of a carriage rather than an auto.

Rustic inhabitants, with hard eyes peering out of bagged, purple sockets spend their days toiling at work or haunting the local taverns. The men are almost uniformly unshaven, their hands thick fingered and calloused from hard days spent in lumber mills or building yards. Most everyone smokes incessantly, a sweet smelling herb that grows in the forests nearby, I’m told.

The women are hardly different from the men. Many perform the same tasks of lumbering and building, but with the added burdens of child rearing and housekeeping (the first woman I saw stood on a roof, ripping up old thatching with mud stained fingers and replacing it with fresh straw). Not that child rearing lasts very long in a place like this; most of the children I saw worked alongside their parents.

My first impression, walking through the streets to our hotel, was that these men and women were without humor, but such isn’t the case. At night, when the sounds of falling hammers and saws cutting through timber die down, laughter and song fills the air, along with the smell of deer meat and pork smoked to perfection and spiced with local flavor. The disillusionment lifts, and I once again struggle with the idea of this place being an ancient deity’s dying feculence. Most laugh when I ask about it. A few just stare blankly at the dregs in their cups.

The revelry is short, and the people begin to retire at midnight. There is hard work in the morning, and the days are hot this time of year.

Sleep doesn’t come easy to me that first night. My brain is still buzzing from the excitement of coming to this new place, meeting these new people. I just lay in bed with my eyes closed, writing internally.

I get up early and go downstairs. It’s deserted, but coffee has already been made. I pour a cup and throw a couple of coins into a jar set next to the pot. It’s a bit strong, the kind of strong meant more to sober people up and set them off to work than for enjoyment.

I spend an hour composing my thoughts while the sun comes up and the streets outside come to life. Just after dawn, Dr. Trenum comes down, along with two men and two other women. They joke and laugh, and Dr. Trenum sees them out.

“Are you going to write about that?” she asks me. I tell her only if she wants me to. She shakes her head.

“That disappoints me. I would expect you to tell the truth. I want you to tell the truth. Anyone who cannot deal with it…they are not worth our time.”

So, I write about it, only describing what I see. I’ll let the readers make their assumptions.
We eat a breakfast of eggs and sausage, very bare bones. Utilitarian, like the coffee. Doctor Trenum and I trade stories we heard the night before.

Settlements in the northwest are dealing with an outbreak of plague. In the south west, Doctor Argyle Von Grimm and his gang have taken over a new town. Refugees from their last conquest have started flooding east, towards Lelina, our destination.

I doubt they will receive a warm welcome. Many people displaced by Von Grimm’s reign of terror have made their way to New Crowndon. They are relegated to a hastily constructed camp constructed on the city’s outskirts and not permitted to enter without official chaperones.

After breakfast, we leave the inn and hire a carriage to take us to the main city. A pack of laughing, red faced children trail our wagon, waving as we leave toward the University of New Crowndon to meet with Doctor Trenum’s peers. It is from here that we will set off to the southern territories, taking a steam boat along the Miskaton river.

Groups of Colonial Marshals stand guard on street corners and balconies along the way. They’ve been called in to help with the refugees, but word is they are also on the lookout for the Waystation Bravo fugitives, Klaudhopper and Villanova. Last night we heard rumors that they have slipped the net, however, and already made it farther inland.

We reach the outskirts of the old quarter. The lumber mills, wood buildings and mud streets give way to brick and cobbles. The people change, as well. They are prettier, softer, but colder. I see no children playing. No scents hang on the air. This is a place for business and learning, but not living. Returning to a more developed part of the city should be a return to the familiar, but the whole thing is off putting. Something feels off here. I suppose I’ve just become accustomed to traveling.

We pull onto the main thoroughfare, and directly ahead of us I can see the University. It is here that we will begin to tease out the answers to one of the greatest archaeological mysteries of our time.

***

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Hello! Today marks the first installment in an ongoing story that will detail the mystery of what happened to the Gazette reporter, Adella Chatelaine. It’s my attempt at a horror story, just in time for Halloween. I wanted to do this last year, but time got away from me.

Some readers might have a feeling of deja vu…this first week of installments first appeared as Gazette entries last year. I felt they were pertinent to the story, and its been awhile so I figured it wouldn’t hurt for a recap. Also, it will buy me some time to work on the remainder of the story.

The entries aren’t unchanged, however. They’ve been revised and updated where necessary. This is still very much a work in progress (they always are!) so feel free to let me know where I can improve.

Enjoy!

The Lelina Horror, Part One

Blackwood Gazette #200- Adella Chatelaine, 13 Others Found Alive In Wilderness Around Point Hammond

By Maurice Merchant, Editor in Chief

8/10- It is with a great sense of both personal and professional relief that I am able to announce the nearly year-long search for a member of the Gazette family has come to an end. Adella Chatelaine, who traveled to the colony of Lelina along with the famed archaeologist Veronica Trenum and several other acclaimed New Crowndon academics to study a recently discovered ruin in the swamp has been found, alive and relatively well, after mysteriously disappearing last year.

Details of the events leading up to her rescue are scarce at the moment, but we have been told that Miss Chatelaine, along with several others, were found trapped within the decaying remains of a large building in the woods 60 miles south of Point Hammond. Not much is known about the abandoned structure, or how Miss Chatelaine and the others came to be there.

We have no word on what happened to the rest of Miss Chatelaine’s team, though none of them were found. Miss Chatelaine herself is said to be, understandably, shaken by the experience, and local law enforcement has restricted the amount of information released to the public until a proper investigation can be made.

Pixie Sinclaire, however, is less beholden to such things.

“I’m still trying to parse out everything I saw,” Miss Sinclaire wrote in a brief statement to me. “Still trying to process it…much of it defies any attempt at rationalization, as if the thoughts themselves are alive and fighting my efforts to interpret the events in a natural, earthly way. It may just be the exhaustion, the low that comes after a rush of adrenaline and the chilliness of the horrors I saw muddling my mind, interfering with my ability to think. Perhaps, with time, I will be able to explain things better. It could also be that I have no right to attempt to explain what I saw; the best source for answers will be those, Adella among them, who lived in that nightmare for who knows how long.

“I would advise not pressing the matter on them, however, until they are ready to speak. If you truly consider Adella your friend, do not force her to relive any events that may have transpired until she is ready and willing to divulge that information herself. In fact, perhaps in just this one case, some questions are best left unanswered.

“We should simply take solace in the fact that our mutual friend, and those others found with her, have…survived (I balk at using the word ‘alive’ and hate myself for it, but I fear it may be the wrong word to use). Our only desire now should be helping them find peace.”

***

CLIFFHANGER!!!

Today marks my first feeble attempt at introducing some horror elements into the Gazette, and the larger Blackwood Empire story line, just in time for the Halloween season. It’s also going to be the last Gazette this year. With any luck, however, the answers that Pixie suggests are best kept hidden may start coming next week. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a good old Gothic style or Lovecraftian horror story, an itch that’s only gotten worse since I’m now waist deep watching that show Penny Dreadful, so that’s what I’ll be working on the next few weeks.

The idea I’m going with is that Adella didn’t stop writing after her last fateful missive to the Gazette…she kept on, but that writing never got sent. The narrative will consist of her lost articles, leap-frogging with journals kept by Pixie Sinclaire in her search for the missing expedition. Hopefully I’ll be pleased enough with the early results to post them.

Blackwood Gazette #200- Adella Chatelaine, 13 Others Found Alive In Wilderness Around Point Hammond

Blackwood Gazette #18: Strange Ruins Discovered in Swamps of Lelina; Newland Academics Stumped

5/6-Disturbing news from the colonies today, as reports of strange ruins discovered in the swamplands around the colonial boom town of Lelina made its way to Imperial shores this morning.

The ruins were discovered last month by Daniel Tomlinson, aged 20, and his youngest son Jack, aged 6, while they were trawling the swamps for bottom dwelling fish and crustaceans.

“It was five stones, like fingers, sticking up out the water,” said Daniel. “Darndest thing I ever did see. I know these swamps like the back of my hand. Been doing this my whole life, right here in this swamp, and believe me, I ain’t never seen nothing like it before, no sir.”

Jack told his teachers the next week about the strange stones, and news traveled throughout the town. One of the teachers, Alexander Packard, went out to look for the stones, and never returned.

“I think he got ate by a gator,” said Jack.

Before disappearing, Packard sent a letter to his colleagues at the University of New Toring. When the University learned of Packard’s disappearance, they sent a team to investigate.

“It is a remarkable discovery,” said Donald Croshaw, Head of Newland Archaeology. “The ruins are similar to other sites found throughout the Newlands, except for two crucial details: these are made of some as yet unidentified element, and the surface is marked with a complex series of markings, much too small and precise to be done with a chisel, or any technology currently available to us.”

Other members of the team reported strange occurrences around the site and the camp they set up nearby.

“It was difficult to be around for too long,” said Marisol Calaveras, an intern from the university of Monteddor. “I swear, it felt as though the fillings in my teeth were rattling.”

Others reported feelings of unease and nausea throughout the first night, feelings that abated throughout the day, but did not return the next night.

“Probably just adjusting to the moist environment,” Croshaw said.

No sign of Packard was found. Croshaw stated that young Jack Tomlinson’s theory might actually be a working theory.

“Alligators are a proper threat out here, especially for a middle aged, overweight grade school teacher on his own in an unfamiliar environment,” Croshaw said. Packard had only moved to Lelina the year before.

Croshaw and his team continue to investigate the site. More on this story as it develops.

Blackwood Gazette #18: Strange Ruins Discovered in Swamps of Lelina; Newland Academics Stumped

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to R.B. Pierce Online! I’m a story teller, and as a story teller I just want to bring a little bit of entertainment to your life. Here, you’ll find a wide spectrum of content and styles, from chilling and exciting tales of sci-fi and horror, to more low key, literary endeavors to make you pause and think. I have stories written and filmed, long and short. Even a comic strip or two.

So feel free to poke around. I’m sure you’ll find something in here that will catch your eye!

Let’s start off with a short video that tells the pulpy story of a man who gets into deep water in…IAN PRINCE, PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR!

Welcome!