Blackwood Gazette #289- Rigel Rinkenbach Walks into A Bar…

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

18/12/282-The Triumvirate hastened its ever downward slump towards insanity last night, when an annual gathering of the Triumvirate’s greatest minds was crashed by two unexpected guests.

The retinue of geniuses (including inventor Ivan Klankenvroot, playwright Delando, and master vintner Alessia Cosgrove) had just settled in at Big Bessie’s Barroom, Billiards, and Burlesque for an evening of leisure and to discuss the newest developments in their respective trades when, to the shock of all, Rigel Rinkenbach walked through the front door.

“I wanted to break down and cry when I saw him,” said Reynard Houlcomb, owner and proprietor of the Quintuple B. “Every time an alchemist walks in here, something goes wrong. And this time…oh, dear. It went horribly wrong indeed.”

Things started off well enough, as Rinkenbach’s cohorts welcomed him to the table, drinking to the fact that he was still alive (and likely forgetting the ramifications of that fact). Things went sour, however, when another patron took offense at the gatherings merriment.

“It was that goon from the colonies, Von Grimm,” said Bessie, the hostess and namesake of the establishment. “He didn’t like the way they were carrying on, you see. All that self congratulation, talk about how great they were.”

We are told that Von Grimm, along with two of his mechanized cohorts, attempted to goad Rinkenbach into a fight. Rinkenbach managed to defeat the two cohorts without lifting a finger.

“One of them was an automaton,” Houlcomb said. “Rinkenbach said some sort of nursery rhyme and the thing crumpled at his feet like so much scrap metal. The other one was simple, couldn’t even remember his name. Rinkenbach, fast talker that he is, just confused the lad into submission. It was the damnedest thing.”

When Von Grimm entered the fray, however, blades were drawn.

“Both of them had hidden rapiers, Von Grimm’s in a baton and Rinkenbach’s in a cane,” Bessie said. “They went at it like pirates, across the floor, on top of tables, up the stairs. I felt like I was stuck in one of Delando’s plays.”

The skirmish ended with both men toppling over the railing of the upper balcony and crashing into the central stage below. Rinkenbach came out on top.

“He just stood up and brushed himself off,” Houlcomb said. “Never the worse for wear. Wound up leaving with Estelle, one of my dancers, and didn’t pay for a cent for the damages. Alchemists. Bastards.”

One of our reporters caught up to Rinkenbach this morning, and asked him if he was worried that being so public about the fact that he was still alive would cause retaliation from Sarnwain.

“I had some doubts,” Rinkenbach said. “That spy, Shanahan, and Pixie were both adamant that we should all lay low. But Pixie came out of hiding last week! I read about it in your paper, as point of fact, and I figured the danger had past. Hiding doesn’t suit me, at any rate. Now, excuse me, I must go see the Empress!”

The reporter told me that as Rinkenbach walked away, a carriage containing royal guardsmen stopped next to Rinkenbach on the street. Rinkenbach lifted his hand in greeting, but the guardsmen are said to have been much less amicable as they shoved him into the carriage.

Dear readers, I fear this does not bode well for the rest of us.

Blackwood Gazette #289- Rigel Rinkenbach Walks into A Bar…

Blackwood Gazette #285- Rogue Nor Eastern Spy Reportedly Spotted in the Pyrossi Islands

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

12/12/282-Sources in the Pyrossi Island region have reported that former Nor Eastern Subterfuge Society agent Pixie Sinclaire, thought deceased, has been spotted in the port town of Xev ti Lais. If true, these reports could lead to dire consequences for Nor Easter.

Sinclaire, along with Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, were involved in the destruction of Sarnwainian military interests earlier this year. The incident led to a continent spanning man hunt that ended in the apparent deaths of Sinclaire and Rinkenbach. With the pair seemingly brought to justice, the Sarnwainian Empire seemed placated. If Sinclaire proves to still be drawing breath, however, it could reignite the situation.

Empress Marcelette Bastian was quick to try and dispel the rumors, saying that there are millions of women in Nor Easter and around the world that match Sinclaire’s description (although, reports that the woman in question was meeting with a known information broker and black market salesman doesn’t help matters). She also went on to explain that if Sinclaire is alive, it is not the result of an attempt by the Nor Eastern Empire to dupe Sarnwain.

No statement on the matter has been given by the Sarnwainian Empire. This news, however, comes hot on the heels of a military demonstration of new weaponized vehicles close to the Sarnwainian/Triumvirate border. Military officials state that the weapons test is unlikely to be a response to this report, but the rumors of Sinclaire being alive could exacerbate the situation if not put to rest quickly.

Blackwood Gazette #285- Rogue Nor Eastern Spy Reportedly Spotted in the Pyrossi Islands

Blackwood Gazette #280- Pharassian Military Unveils New Motorized Vehicles in Blatant Display of Power

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

6/12/282-The average citizen couldn’t be blamed for thinking that the situation between the Nor Eastern and Sarnwainian Empires had cooled down in the wake of the destruction of the ancient fortress of Ma-Droit and the deaths of rogue agents Pixie Sinclaire and Sir Rigel Rinkenbach. Sarnwain had ceased it seemingly ceaseless chest beating and trade between the two Empires had resumed in recent months with little to no trouble.

That lack of chest beating should have been a warning, according to Nor Easter Admiral Alexia Tremonte, who told us that the Pharassian military recently conducted a test of new motorized vehicles in the Tarsian desert, right near the Sarnwain/Triumvirate border.

“That Pharassus would conduct such a test on the opposite end of the Sarnwainian Empire in a completely different province is something we’re taking as a direct threat to the safety of Nor Easter,” the Admiral said. “I implore that the Triumvirate Authority, as well as our Triumvirate sisters in Crowndon and Monteddor, take this threat with the utmost severity.”

The vehicles tested by the Pharassian army certainly sound terrifying, if the reports given by Society spies are to be believed. They describe high velocity armored vehicles, belching a noxious black smoke, armed with cannon and rapid fire weapons that put even the Crowndon army’s crank driven repeaters to shame.

“That they would so openly display such weapons is what worries me the most,” Admiral Tremonte went on to say. “The Triumvirate just launched the most advanced air ship the world has ever seen, and Pharassus didn’t flinch. They’re either fools, or completely confident in their new weapons.”

Crowndonian officials are betting on the former.

“I really don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Admiral Henry McTolliver said. “Sarnwain has been trying to keep up with the Triumvirate for centuries, and so far their efforts have proven impotent. Their reluctance to embrace Blackwood and pursue oil based energy is a fool’s errand. Honestly, I’m more worried about what’s going on inside our own Empire than anything from without.”

Admiral Tremonte disagrees, vehemently. “That’s rich, coming from a Crowndonian Admiral. It wasn’t so long ago that another Crowndonian Admiral made the mistake of hubris, and was taken down by new technology he didn’t see coming. Nor Easter has proven its foresight in the past. If the Society are telling us we should be worried, then we need to listen. To do otherwise could prove disastrous.”

Blackwood Gazette #280- Pharassian Military Unveils New Motorized Vehicles in Blatant Display of Power

Blackwood Gazette #262-Lord of Amaranth Rodahn Despartes Vanishes from Imperial Custody

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

27/9/2016- A mere week after his arrest for desecrating the grave of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, Lord Rodahn Despartes, son of Duchess Amelie of Amaranth, has vanished from custody. The young Lord was being held in the cells below the Imperial Palace.

“It is with great embarrassment that the Palace Guard must admit that we have no idea where he went,” said Francois Coulver, Captain of the Palace Guard. “There is no sign of escape; the cell was still locked tight when we went to check on him. It’s like he just vanished into thin air.”

Duchess Amelie isn’t buying that story.

“A likely story, indeed. Never mind that the palace cells are underground and surrounded by nothing but earth and stone, with a single corridor leading out that is constantly guarded by a platoon of the best guardsmen. A lord does not simply go missing. It’s a travesty that he was even being held down there to begin with. I swear, if anything happens to my boy, I’ll…”

Duchess Amelie didn’t expand on her statement, though we are sure it was made in a moment of grief and suffering.

Despite the brief amount of time that has passed, several theories have already cropped up as to Lord Despartes fate. They range from the banal (and most likely), such as the boy was killed in custody and Empress Bastian is trying to cover it up, to the outlandish (and ever more interesting) that the entire affair is a ruse concocted by the Subterfuge Society to help bring an increasingly unruly Amaranth to heel.

The story gets stranger, however, as several witnesses are said to have seen a young man matching Lord Despartes description being placed into an unmarked carriage in the small hours, accompanied by four men in black uniforms bereft of any insignia or rank. One might be quick to dismiss this rumor as the machinations of night walkers seeking attention. However, a single dockworker is said to have seen a similar carriage approach the river bank just before dawn.

According to this dock worker, a woman briefly entered the carriage. Muffled shouts followed afterward. The woman then exited the carriage and spoke to the driver and several others before leaving. A moment later, the men pulled a limp body from the carriage and placed it in a motor boat that headed east down the river, toward the Sea of Wrecked Beginnings and Bitter Ends. The dock worker did not field questions on whether he thought the unconscious man was Lord Despartes, and refused to discuss the matter further once the name was mentioned. I can’t say I blame the man, given the nature of such events.

Blackwood Gazette #262-Lord of Amaranth Rodahn Despartes Vanishes from Imperial Custody

Blackwood Gazette #260- Arrest of Duchess’ Son Sparks Royal Scandal in Nor Eastern Court

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

20/9/282- The Imperial court of Nor Eastern is in an uproar today and a prominent Duchess finds herself under heavy scrutiny after her son was arrested this weekend.

The teenaged Lord Rodahn Despartes, son of  Duchess Amelie Despartes of Amaranth in Sau Anoit, was discovered on palace grounds Saturday night, dancing on the grave of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach. Witnesses to the offense paint a damning picture.

“I came across the boy, under the influence of spirits and perched upon Sir Rinkenbach’s headstone, which he had defaced with slander most foul concerning the deceased and Her Imperial Majesty,” said the palace guardsman who found Despartes. “He was surrounded by empty bottles, and when I approached he stood up and began dancing, or something like it, and yelling obscenities at the deceased. He very nearly fell off. I was more concerned with the boy’s safety at that point than with the crime, as Sir Rinkenbach’s headstone is over three meters high.”

This wouldn’t be the first time the young lord has run afoul of the law. He was arrested two years ago when he stole a motor carriage from a salesman. He made it half a kilometer before the carriage broke down and listed into a tea shop, sending patrons running for cover and cracking the storefront fenestration.

Empress Bastian is said to be livid at the incident, ordering Lord Despartes to be held in the palace cells until a trial can be held, which she will oversee personally. Duchess Amelie is said to have sent several entreaties to the Empress for mercy, but we are told the Empress has not responded.

The incident has already caused great scandal within the Imperial court, with several other Dukes and Lords demanding Despartes be stripped of all titles and lands. The monarch of Sau Anoit has yet to make a public statement on the matter, though it is said there is no love lost between the Queen and the Duchess.

Blackwood Gazette #260- Arrest of Duchess’ Son Sparks Royal Scandal in Nor Eastern Court

Blackwood Gazette #257- Memorial Held for Sir Rigel Rinkenbach Lives Up to His Legacy

 

By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC

Thousands gathered in the Nor Eastern Capital of Oeil de Fleur this weekend for the memorial of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, renowned inventor, alchemist, and philanthropist (and philanderer). Perhaps befitting the man in whose memory the event was held, things quickly took a turn.

It all started well enough. A few important people said a few hollow words. His acts and deeds were rehashed for the hundred thousandth time (and will likely be rehashed a hundred thousand more as history marches on). Military leaders told of his great technological victory over Crowndon. Industrialists harped on their business rivalries and begrudging respect. A Rinkenbach Clockwork Butler intoned a popular Sarneaster hymn that many attest was Sir Rinkenbach’s favorite. Halfway through the ‘performance’, the Butler stopped, asked why it was singing at its own memorial, and then shorted out, sparks and smoke pouring from its head vents.

And then the Empress took to the stage. I’ll give Her Imperial Majesty credit…she held it together for all of ten seconds before breaking down, going through all the stages of grief except acceptance over the course of her eulogy, which included a rather sordid and detailed account of their relationship over the years. A large portion of the audience began laughing at one point. I felt absolutely TERRIBLE for her Illustriousness.

Next came the candle light vigil, at which point a delegation from the Academy of Alchemists and Alliterators, of which Sir Rinkenbach was an honorary alumnus, commandeered the festivities with their parlor tricks, sending great gouts of flame shooting from their tiny candle sticks in a brilliant display that set an overhanging bit of finery aflame. The reaction of the crowd was a mixed bag. Half of them panicked, the other half applauded, perhaps thinking it part of some elaborate performance. Either way, the alchemists seemed quite pleased with themselves.

After the speeches and vigils ended, the drinking began in earnest. Those who’d arrived sober got drunk; those already drunk got even more so. The enormous crowd broke down into smaller crowds, those with a dearth of personality orbiting those with an overabundance. I would be surprised if no less than three cults are born from this event.

While the majority of the square outside of the Imperial palace was awash with noise, there were quieter corners to be found; corners where Rinkenbach’s truest friends and enemies alike gathered to share in their respective sadness and delight. I overheard equal declarations of denial from both groups. It’s hard to tell who will miss him most. Few give our lives more meaning than those we love, and those we hate.

That was the kind of person Sir Rinkenbach was, after all. It was hard, if not impossible, to be indifferent. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Triumvirate not touched by his influence. As the night wore on, and I’d seen all I’d needed to see, I myself eventually drifted towards one of these groups. Which one is something I’ll leave to your imaginations.

Blackwood Gazette #257- Memorial Held for Sir Rigel Rinkenbach Lives Up to His Legacy

Blackwood Gazette #254-Recovered NESS Operative ‘Confirms’ Deaths of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

By Chester Seaton, News

10/8/282-In the week since a Pharassus military flotilla bombarded an ancient and historically valuable ruin, Triumvirate Authority officials have been picking through the rubble trying to piece together what happened. The Authority has now announced a breakthrough.

The sole survivor of the ground team on site, one Gerard P. Shanahan of the Nor Eastern Subterfuge Society, was recovered this weekend, camped in the valley near the ruins. Along with Shanahan, two bodies were recovered.

Shanahan claimed that the bodies belonged to the fugitives Pixie Sinclaire and Rigel Rinkenbach. An authority medical examiner confirmed that the bodies (which were reportedly too badly damaged to make an authoritative identification) were consistent with that of a Triumvirate woman and a man of Sarnwainian descent, both in their mid to late twenties, a description consistent with the pair.

The military of Crowndon, however, has several doubts on this story. For one, Shanahan is a known associate of both Rinkenbach and Sinclaire. Two, there is no one left to dispute his claims. Finally, it is said that the medical examiner in question was Nor Eastern, and was in fact appointed by the Figurehead Marcelette Bastian.

Despite Crowndon’s doubts, the Authority and Nor Easter both have officially declared Rinkenbach and Sinclaire dead. And despite the crimes both are accused of, the remains will be laid to rest in the Nor Eastern Imperial Memorial Cemetery, for their service in the Dividing War.

In Crowndon, many military units had planned to celebrate the deaths of two of our Empires most hated enemies. However, the military leadership has ordered all units to standing duty in order to prevent such displays.

“This whole thing reeks of a cover-up,” said Lord General Johnathan Gorsky. “We have nothing but Nor Eastern assurances of the pair’s demise. And Sarnwain still doesn’t have the answers it wants concerning Rinkenbach and Sinclaire’s actions. This isn’t over, I can guarantee that.”

Blackwood Gazette #254-Recovered NESS Operative ‘Confirms’ Deaths of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

Blackwood Gazette #251-Ancient Fortress Destroyed By Pharessian Bombardment; Fates of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire Unknown

By Chester Seaton, News

28/7/282-Details are sketchy at the moment, but reports coming in from the Triumvirate Authority indicate that the fortress of Ma-Droit has been destroyed in a bombardment by the Pharessian military.

The fortress was being used by the rogue alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach and known Nor Eastern agent provocateur Pixie Sinclaire. Earlier reports stated that a joint operation between Nor Eastern and Pharessian intelligence services was planning a raid on the site to bring the rogue elements to justice.

A trusted but unverified source tells us that the Pharessian element of the group entered the fortress without the Nor Eastern element’s knowledge. There is no way of knowing what transpired next, except that a flotilla of newly built Pharessian airships arrived on site and began firing on the fortress. The ancient stone crumbled underneath the attack, sending it down to the valley below.

Neither Nor Easter nor Sarnwain has issued an official statement concerning what transpired at the fortress, though the Nor Eastern figurehead Marcellette Bastian did express her grief.

“I cannot see how anyone within the fortress might have survived. It is a sad day for Nor Easter, and the world, to have lost such a vibrant mind as dear Rigel’s. As such I have mandated a six month period of mourning for Nor Easter. Every citizen must wear black for the duration, and no tea is to be served on Saturdays.”

The Empress’ declaration resulted in an uproar amongst Nor Eastern citizens, and the six month mourning period was later reduced to a week.

The Crowndon military also released a statement concerning the events.

“If Rinkenbach and Sinclaire are dead, then good riddance,” said Lord General Johnathan Gorsky. “Those two are responsible for the deaths of more Crowndonian soldiers and citizens than any ten Nor Eastern soldiers combined. They were a blight on this world, and their reckless behavior in Sarnwain, which could have easily pulled the Triumvirate into a war (and still might) is proof of that.”

Blackwood Gazette #251-Ancient Fortress Destroyed By Pharessian Bombardment; Fates of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire Unknown

Blackwood Gazette #247- Rinkenbach and Sinclaire Tracked to Abandoned Fortress; Situation Developing

By Chester Seaton, News

15/7/282– Breaking news in the ongoing saga of the rogue alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach and the Nor Eastern war criminal Pixie Sinclaire, as sources say a joint force of Nor Eastern spies and Pharassian Seekers have tracked the pair to the abandoned fortress of Ma-Droit. Unfortunately, the situation seems to be far from resolved.

The fortress, a holdover from before the founding of the Triumvirate, stands at the North Western Border between Sarnwain and Nor Easter. It once stood as a bastion against the invading hordes from Tarsia, and has a complicated and bloody history. It is also, despite its age, very well positioned and fortified, making the proposition of storming the fortress a tricky one.

“The builder of the fortress, Vasily Tremenkoff, was notorious not only for the horrific ways in which he dispatched his enemies, but for his love of traps,” said historian Alaine Fordeau. “The fortress is riddled with them, all the way from the highest parapets to the valley floor, deep below. No doubt many of these traps should be in a state of disrepair, if not for Nor Easter’s almost obsessive efforts to preserve its history…even the deadly, functional parts of it. Add to that the fact that the current tenants are the world’s premier industrialist and a highly trained Nor Eastern saboteur, and getting into the place is a dicey prospect, to say the least.”

How do we know the pair survived the fortress themselves?

“In the early morning hours of the first day, we observed an owl flying from the upper tower,” wrote Gerard P. Shanahan, the point man for the Nor Eastern interests. “I ordered it shot down. The species was not indigenous to the area, and it had a note tied to its leg. Nothing of great importance, just a verse of bad poetry meant for someone named Herbert. Doubtless the owl and the verse belong to Rinkenbach. We’re looking into it now.”

Further stalling the resolution of this situation is the joint force’s inability to decide what happens to Rinkenbach and Sinclaire once they are caught.

“Nor Easter no doubt wants them alive and in one piece so the two can provide answers for their actions,” an analyst said. “Sarnwain, on the other hand, probably only wants their heads.”

Blackwood Gazette #247- Rinkenbach and Sinclaire Tracked to Abandoned Fortress; Situation Developing

Blackwood Gazette #243- Industry and Innovation Conference Opens with Military Applications

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

14/6/282- In what is perhaps a sad reflection of our times, this year’s IIC opened not with an extravagant entrance by Rigel Rinkenbach, or the unveiling of some new intriguing consumer product, but with a presentation given by Crowndon’s head of Military R&D, Major Samuel Ford. Joining Major Ford was one Argathal Gladstone.

Several months ago, we reported that a military team had been sent to Mister Gladstone’s home upon his return to Crowndon. They discovered that he was working on a small aerial device, and the officer in charge remarked on its military applications.

Given the anecdotes about Gladstone’s incompetence and Crowndon’s notorious bullheadedness towards innovation, many, including myself, laughed this development off. But here we are, a few short months later, and the device sat before us on the stage, completely operational.

They had taken Gladstone’s flying ball and turned it into a partially autonomous aerial reconnaissance device. Boasting the smallest camera ever created (weighing at a mere five pounds), and an on-board wireless communications device (technology they said they’d appropriated from a top secret source), Major Ford boasted that the machine would be able to patrol an area of roughly four city blocks and alert nearby law enforcement of suspicious behavior.

The terminology used by the Major sent a shiver down my spine…city blocks, law enforcement…how exactly are they planning to use this device? My worst speculation was quickly confirmed.

“It is our plan to deploy nearly one hundred and fifty of the Gladstone A.R.A (Aerial Recon Apparatus, according to the two inch thick brochure we were given upon entering the auditorium) across the cities of Old Crowndon, Walsh, and Toring within the next six months. More will be added to the fleet and cities across the Empire over the next year. It is a part of a new initiative to use advanced technologies to better ensure the safety of the Crowndon citizen in the wake of the Summit attack last year.”

As horrific as this news was, my mind was equally concerned with several unanswered questions that we weren’t given the answer to. Questions like, how does the automation work, and how does it identify ‘suspicious’ behavior? We have only rumors and speculation at the moment (the most popular being that the automation is powered by technology reverse engineered from Rinkenbach R&D’s Clockwork Butler).

The presentation was followed by the requisite demo. I found myself praying for the sort of hiccup or malfunction that so often marks these occasions. Alas, the device worked perfectly, buzzing over the crowd, snapping a few pictures, and returning to stage. The pictures were developed and handed out as souvenirs as we left the auditorium.

It’s a memory I’ll cherish, I’m sure.

Blackwood Gazette #243- Industry and Innovation Conference Opens with Military Applications