From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Curse whoever decided to rest the future of our great society on the Blackwood grove!

Oh, wait. That was me. I can’t rightly curse myself, now can I? I could, I suppose, but why would I want to? I must find someone else to blame.

Perhaps I should blame that infernal automaton that announced to the world that I was working on the formula at the Industry and Innovation Conference. But who built the automaton?

I did, and I presented. And I let the audience ask it questions. So that won’t do.

I could blame that idiot in Des Anges for letting Nor Easter on to my trail. Then again, I was the idiot that trusted him. So once again, the blame rests squarely on my shoulders, down along that path.

What of the Empress’ protection detail? The ones that were supposed to watch my every move? Marcelette had taken it upon herself to jump between an assassin’s bullet and myself…and therein lies the problem. She’d been trying to protect ME.

Me, me, me. The blame all lay on me. Rigel Rinkenbach, the most brilliant alchemist and inventor in the Triumvirate, sole heir to the knowledge of Blackwood transmogrification.

The sad fact remains, that there is no one to blame for my incarceration on this humid rock in the middle of the Pyrossi Ocean other than myself. And there is nothing for me to do but dwell on that fact.

Oh, I suppose I could try focusing on my studies. These pirates holding me, charged by some unknown benefactor with keeping me in check, have provided me with substantial, if rudimentary, materials for working on the Blackwood formulae. My heart isn’t in it, however. I’ve no absinthe, no feather bed. My prized baby grand sits in a decrepit apartment in Oeil de Fleur, no doubt gathering dust.

The only concession to my comfort that these brutes have given me is young Gossamer IV, an owlet of the local variety. And a noisy variety at that. I might consider letting this one go of my own accord, but I’m unsure the thing is even capable of flight.

I believe the one thing holding me back from my formulation, however, is my conscience. Yes, despite the public perception, I do have one, and with no knowledge of who it was that has kidnapped me and pressed me into their service, the inconvenient thing has made itself known.

“You really shouldn’t be making this for these people,” it says to me.

“Why?” I ask it, trying to focus on my ‘scientific’ implements.

“Because these people are bad,” it replies.

“Bad? What does that even mean? Who decides who is bad?”

“You do,” my conscience says. Well, I can’t really argue with myself, now, can I? I am a genius, after all.

***

Something is happening outside. It sounds like some sort of attack! Finally, something exciting in this place!

It began with an explosion somewhere along the north western perimeter of the old fort these pirates are using as their base. Pirates, lacking any reckoning for subtlety or grace, are currently racing across the yard with sword and flintlock drawn. Even one of the two guards outside has run away toward it.

Brutes, all of them, to fall for such an obvious diversionary tactic.

Oh! Is someone effecting a rescue for me? That would be fantastic. In my studies, I’ve created no less than thirty two varieties of highly unstable Falsewood. I suppose I could whip up a quick batch using Gossamer IV’s bones…no, I couldn’t. I’m not particularly fond of this particular owl, but I will not murder it, not even to save myself.

Whoever it is storming the gates of this place obviously knows what they are doing. I’ll just sit back and wait.

***

Hello! *cough cough* Ack. Let me knock away some of this dust. Just thought I’d drop a little something something onto this blog. The above is presently the first couple of pages of my new project, a novel with the working title of “The Ballad of Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire”.

I say they’re ‘presently’ the first pages because I’m currently in the very early stages of ‘let’s get the the ideas on paper, and worry about specifics later’, so I’m not sure the above will even make it into the final draft. I haven’t even decided what POV to use for the book yet. I thought journal entries, like the one above, but that often leads to weird scenes where shit is going down and the character is writing about it, rather than trying to stay alive (PUT THE CAMERA DOWN, YOU FOOLS!). The alternative is to have the character write about it after the fact, and that always comes across as passive. I may just settle on a standard first or third person format. I’m currently leaning toward first, because it’s similar to the journal idea while letting the characters be present in whatever events are unfolding. I also enjoy being in these people’s heads for some reason. Not sure why, they’re all completely bat-shit crazy.

In any case, that uncertainty is what makes a new project exciting! At least for me, anyway, from the writer’s perspective.

I hope to have the thing done by the end of the year, taking a break every now and then to post an excerpt or maybe a short story. The main issue I’m facing right now is that I’ve got three years worth of material to expand upon (much of which is stuff I’d forgotten about, like that Racing League story, or that thing with the albino locusts). The last month has been spent researching my own work to nail down the timeline between Rigel’s breakdown in Greenlille and his little adventure with Pixie in Sarnwain….and you have no idea how fucking weird it was for me to realize and admit that. I hope it doesn’t come off as self indulgent. It did, didn’t it?

*awkward pause*

Speaking of short stories, I’ve got one in the hopper. It’s pretty much done, but I wanted to do an illustration for it. Problem is, I’m not an illustrator, so producing a image I’m happy with takes FOREVER. Hopefully I’ll have it ready in the next couple of weeks).

At any rate, thanks for letting me ramble, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little aside. More to come!

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From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

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

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

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

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

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

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

How is it that Nor Easter came by this knowledge?

None other than Sir Rigel Rinkenbach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackwood Gazette #293- Crowndon Deploys Military Presence in Major Imperial Cities Following Klankenvroot Unrest

By Chester Seaton, News

28/12/282- In response to increasing pressure from rogue elements both within and outside of the Crowndon Empire, the Military oligarchs announced today that they have invoked their Obligation of Security and asserted their power over the Corporate, Religious, and Judicial counterparts.

The announcement comes after weeks of civil unrest in the major cities of the Empire, primarily the capital city. Imperial infantry have been deployed in Walsh, Toring, and Old Crowndon, with deployments expected in Yves and Rommsbach in the coming days.

Along with the increased security of the troops, citizens can look forward to the watchful eyes in the skies of the Gladstone Aerial Reconnaissance Device, which recently proved itself in action against enemies of Imperial interests.

The efforts of the military have already proven to be effective, according to reports provided by Lord General Johnathan Gorsky. Over three hundred dissidents in Walsh, Toring, and the capital have been detained, and many of them already tried and prepared for incarceration aboard Leviathan.

General Gorsky is hopeful, as are we all, that the military’s swift action will reign in the chaos of the previous few months, and restore Crowndon to the industrious state of peace we all know that it can be.

Blackwood Gazette #293- Crowndon Deploys Military Presence in Major Imperial Cities Following Klankenvroot Unrest

Blackwood Gazette #292- Empress Bastian Feigns Ignorance, Expresses Rage on Reappearance of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

12/27/282- Sarnwain has issued a statement concerning the recent revelations that Pixie Sinclaire and Sir Rigel Rinkenbach are still alive, and the situation is said to have the Palace in a state of panic.

The Empress released her own statement this morning. She claims to have Rinkenbach in custody, while also denying any complicity in his survival at Mal-Droit. Despite this, the fact that a body is buried in the Imperial cemetery with a head stone larger than any of the Empire’s past rulers certainly isn’t a good look for the Empire’s credibility.

The statement goes on to say that Rinkenbach will be punished for his deeds, but doesn’t detail what those punishments will be. Given the Empress’ affinity for Rinkenbach, one couldn’t be blamed for thinking the threat of punishment an empty one. Especially since the statement includes a lengthy rant theorizing that Rinkenbach was ‘likely led astray by that wench Sinclaire, who has a sordid history and unsavory hold on my Rigel.’

As for agent Sinclaire, she remains at large, last seen in the Pyrossi islands. And while the Empress’ protests are dubious at best, it is likely that Sinclaire was the main force behind whatever it was that transpired during the duo’s time in Sarnwain.

The Empress ended her statement with the promise that Subterfuge Society Agents are hunting Sinclaire down ‘as we speak’, and a thinly veiled threat, ‘We have a new fleet. Big fleet. The best fleet the world has ever seen.’

In the meantime, Triumvirate Authority officials are reporting a sharp decline in Sarwainian activity within the Triumvirate, with air traffic and trade down nearly 80 per cent in the last week.

A storm is brewing, citizens of Nor Easter. Let’s hope we can weather it.

Blackwood Gazette #292- Empress Bastian Feigns Ignorance, Expresses Rage on Reappearance of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

Blackwood Gazette #291- Pharassus Primarch Express Disappointment at what He Calls Rinkenbach/Sinclaire Deception

By Chester Seaton, News

27/12/282- The Nor Eastern Empire, amidst its efforts to besmirch the good name of Crowndon at every turn in recent months, has been caught in a deception. After months of claiming that the rogue agent Sinclaire and the mad alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach had been felled at the fortress of Mal-Droit, both Sinclaire and Rinkenbach have reappeared, none the worse for wear.

One might think the revelation of such a deception would have a man as known for bloodlust as the Pharassus Primarch in a complete uproar, but such is not the case. Reports are that he has sent a letter to Empress Marcelette Bastion expressing his great disappointment.

This low key response from a man who once wiped out a fishing village for sending him the wrong type of sea bass has Nor Easter in a scramble, preparing for a war they probably won’t be able to win while also trying to perform damage control. Nor Eastern papers are rushing to the presses with Empress Bastian’s response, and there are rumors of a secret summit of Imperial Alchemists and Spymasters gathering to discuss possible courses of action.

Meanwhile, we are told that military forts along the Sarnwainian border have gone quiet. The Triumvirate Authority says that Sarwainian activity in the Skyways has declined in recent weeks. All is quiet on that eastern front, and the silence is deafening.

And what will become of the rest of the Triumvirate, if Nor Easter goes to war? Crowndon’s military elite have yet to comment on the situation. For many of our Empire’s military commanders, the Dividing War with Nor Easter is still fresh in their minds. Monteddor has recalled its own air fleets back to within its borders, but whether that is to protect its own interests or a muster to come to Nor Easter’s aid remains to be seen.

As for Admiral Alejandro Julianos and the Triumvirate Authority, the first armored air fleet is said to be coming along nicely. It is entirely possible these new ships could be blooded sooner rather than later.

Blackwood Gazette #291- Pharassus Primarch Express Disappointment at what He Calls Rinkenbach/Sinclaire Deception