Blackwood Gazette #71- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid Part 2

By Adella Chatelaine

6/10- After the strange Rommsbachian man’s warning, I looked to my compatriots. Meriam seemed frightened, and Professor Babin seemed unsure. Nico, who just stirred from his nap, sat up and asked what was going on.

I told them we were getting out of there. 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, and reiterated to us the necessity of vacating the premises five minutes prior. He was obviously scared, but resolute. 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. I paused and asked him what he thought he was doing.

“Making stand,” he said, and drew a second revolver. “Von Grimm will not stop until debt is paid, or is dead, or I am dead. Better to end it now. If I run, he will burn town looking for me.”

So I told him, get out of town. And he asked me how. I told him to get to the riverboat and lay low.

“And 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. I told him that would suffice and he ran, leaving me alone in the library with a mad man.

Blackwood Gazette #71- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid Part 2

Blackwood Gazette #55- Marco De Santana on Lockdown after Several Assassination Attempts

by Chester Seaton, News

13/8-Violence erupted on the streets of the Monteddorian capital today when Blackwood magnate Marco De Santana took to the stage to give a press conference concerning the situation with his daughter, Yolanda. One of our own correspondents found himself in the middle of the action, as after the opening statement was delivered, a gunman charged the stage with a blunderbuss and opened fire.

According to our reporter, most of the shot was blocked by the podium and the rest struck an armed guard. Before the assassin had time to reload, he was incapacitated by police and taken into custody. This was not the end of the attempt, however. While De Santana was being escorted off the stage to a secure location, several explosive devices where triggered.

Thankfully, these devices where not intended to kill or maim, but simply produce a cloud of smoke that dispersed the crowd and caused confusion. Members of De Santana’s guard that were involved in the incident say that several figures armed with revolvers appeared within the smoke and tried to kill him. Two of the guards were killed and another injured before they managed to regroup and fight back. Once they did, the unidentified assailants retreated.

Monteddorian authorities refuse to speculate on the identities of the assassins, but they believe the man with the blunderbuss and the individuals with the revolvers were part of separate plots, brought together by a general contract on De Santana’s life. Authorities believe the contract was placed by Yolanda De Santana.

Several other potential assailants were discovered in the immediate area. Two were killed, the rest were apprehended. None are believed to be affiliated with each other.

The De Santana estate released a statement about the incident: “I am deeply regretful that the situation has come to this, and that my own flesh and blood would resort to such tactics. That is not how I raised her. I mean, I may have firebombed a few fully staffed distribution centers when I took over from my uncle, but I always told her how much I regretted it. If she is going to kill me, she should do it herself, without putting the citizen in harm’s way!”

Blackwood Gazette #55- Marco De Santana on Lockdown after Several Assassination Attempts

Blackwood Gazette #54-The Colonies, Part 2: Morning and Rumors

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

7/8- 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, 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 to you 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. We trade stories we heard the night before.

Settlements in the north west 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 town have started flooding east, toward Lelina, our destination.

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 about the Lelina ruins. It is from here that we will set off to the southern territories, taking a steam boat along the Miskaton river.

Along the way, we see groups of Colonial Marshalls here and there, standing on street corners and balconies. They are looking 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, and 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. There are no scents 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.

Blackwood Gazette #54-The Colonies, Part 2: Morning and Rumors

Blackwood Gazette #53: My First Week in the Colonies, Part I: New Crowndon Harbor

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

7/8- Halfway through the long western leg of our airship journey to the Imperial Colonies, Doctor 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 her to regale me with a bit of history, or a creation myth of some sort. What I get instead is 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 a purpose. 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 and mosquitoes buzz around putrid green puddles of stagnate water. You can see the shape of horse shoes along the edges of the main thoroughfare, indicative of the fact that most people here still ride horse back. Rare is the occasion that you see the unbroken track of a wheel, and when you do, that wheel was likely attached to a wagon, not an auto.

The people here are rustic, with hard eyes peering out of bagged, purple sockets. The men are almost uniformly unshaven, their hands thick fingered and calloused from working either in lumber mills or building yards. They smoke 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 burden of child rearing. Not that child rearing lasts very long in a place like this; most of the children I saw worked along side 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 a mythical 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.

Blackwood Gazette #53: My First Week in the Colonies, Part I: New Crowndon Harbor

Blackwood Gazette #38: De Santana Refining Attacked; Owner’s Heiress Suspected

Chester Seaton, News

14/7-The estate of Blackwood magnate Marco De Santana is on lock-down today as officials state that several of his holdings came under attack over the weekend.

The rash of violence began late last week, when several armed men raided a distribution center on the outskirts of the Monteddorian capital. The culprits gained access to the facility using a De Santana Refining airship.

“We were completely caught off guard,” said the only survivor of the raid, whose name is being withheld for his own protection. “There was no warning. No reports of a ship going missing or being hijacked. The ship was even scheduled, and the men wore the uniform of De Santana’s fleet. They disembarked from the ship and just kind of blended in.”

It was then, officials say, that the attackers struck, killing everyone but the lone factory worker. They then loaded the two empty ships at the site full of Blackwood, and stole another that was completely loaded up. They then sabotaged the equipment and flew away. Since then, several other De Santana owned locations throughout Monteddor have been hit.

The Monteddorian Air Guard claims that it has no concrete idea on who the culprits were, but they believe the raid was led by an insider. De Santana himself, however, has an idea.

“It’s Yolanda! My sweet little girl, making her move. She’s looking to usurp me. That’s why she didn’t destroy the factory outright, just crippled it. Believe me, I recognize the M.O. It’s exactly what I did when I took over!”

When asked if he was worried, De Santana laughed.

“Of course not! I taught her everything she knows, but I didn’t teach her everything I know. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to bring her to heel before long. I kind of have to admit, though, part of me is rooting for the old girl. She IS my daughter, after all. Ha ha!”

Blackwood Gazette #38: De Santana Refining Attacked; Owner’s Heiress Suspected

Blackwood Gazette #32: Roderick La Pierre Deserves a Medal

by Eli Kinneany Wilderspin, Editorialist

2/7- Yesterday it was announced that a ‘task force’ was being formed by the Crowndon Air Corps to hunt down and presumably kill the Crowndonian Admiral turned pirate Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre. Personally, I think we here in Nor Easter ought to grant him asylum, and slap a medal on his chest while we’re at it.

After all, if one man could be said to be more responsible for our victory in the war with Crowndon three years ago than Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, it’s La Pierre. Sure, it was Rinkenbach’s planes that ripped apart La Pierre’s fleet, but it was La Pierre’s hubris and stupidity that made that defeat so easy, and so complete.

Had La Pierre not led his ships into the tightly formed mesas of the Divide, he may have been able to spread his fleet out. His ships could have fallen back in the face of our new death machines and re-grouped. As it was, La Pierre made it like shooting fish in a barrel.

And now the news that La Pierre’s little prank with the gold and the fish has caused a severe economic downturn…I can’t help but laugh. This former war hero, Crowndon’s most decorated young officer, has in the end done more damage to Crowndon than we ever could. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that every Nor Easter man, woman, and child owes La Pierre a debt of gratitude and a hug. But I do know better; La Pierre is a disgusting brute, so don’t do that, lest you catch something.

*Editor’s Note: Mr. Wilderspin’s thoughts and opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blackwood Gazette, particularly those offices located in Crowndon.

Blackwood Gazette #32: Roderick La Pierre Deserves a Medal

Blackwood Gazette #31: Tuna Gold to be Melted Down Before Re-Circulation; Task Force Formed to Hunt Wily Pirate

by Hunter O’Leary, Business

1/7- The repercussions of Roderick La Pierre’s recent theft of several thousand pounds of Crowndon gold continue to pile up, as Imperial Authorities say that attempts to sanitize the gold after being buried under tons of rotting barrier tuna have proved fruitless.

“We’re keeping the gold in an undisclosed location, far from populated regions,” said the newly appointed Deputy Chief Nathan Garvey. “The first companies we contracted with the service reneged on their contracts before entering the building; the smell overwhelmed them, despite the gold being kept in a vault fifty feet under ground.”

Those companies that actually made it into the vault to clean the gold had no luck.

“We tried everything we could think of,” said one such contractor. “Industrial solvents, complex experimental procedures. We even flooded the chamber with tomato juice, as a last resort. Made it worse, if anything.”

The Crowndon Treasury has grown impatient, and says there is only one sure fire way of eliminating the odor.

“We’ve decided to take the gold and smelt it. We didn’t want to do that, because it will result in a loss of volume and will take several weeks to smelt, reform, and recirculate, but we can waste no time. People have been saying Crowndon is in an unrecognized economic bind…well, this is us recognizing it. Lower Crowndon is hurting.”

The question remains: are La Pierre’s actions going to remain unchecked?

“Not on your life,” said Garvey. “The Air Corps is putting together a special task force aimed squarely at La Pierre’s pirating operation. They’re going to hit him so hard his ancestors will wish they’d never been born.”

Blackwood Gazette #31: Tuna Gold to be Melted Down Before Re-Circulation; Task Force Formed to Hunt Wily Pirate

Blackwood Gazette #29: Massive Search for Waystation Bravo Launched; Several Airships Gone Missing

By Chester Seaton, News

26/6- Earlier this week, several ships, both air and sea based, set out from Waystations Alpha, Charlie, and Echo to help search for signs of Waystation Bravo, which disappeared from the Skyway circuit two weeks ago.

While the majority of the ships searched the waters along the circuit route, several reportedly broke away from the main search flotillas and made way for the strange storm that still has scientists befuddled.

While most of the search and rescue ships returned within the day, several did not. Port Authority aboard the remaining stations  report that the missing ships were those seen heading toward the storm. Further details on the crews of these ships are few, but they are said not to be regulars on the stations, with the exception of one Klaus Klaudhopper, a well liked bouncer from Waystation Echo.

Witnesses say that Klaudhopper was last seen in the presence of a tall woman that bar regulars described as being armed to the teeth. Several eye witnesses to an altercation the day before the search parties left say that the woman in question brandished silver revolvers. This has led to wild speculation about the involvement of the legendary Ephemeral Cartographers. Others still claim they heard the woman claim allegiance to the Scarlet Circle, though they seem to have no idea why a group of assassins would be looking for the wreckage of a waystation.

The Scarlet Circle was recently implicated in the strange death of Thedore Francis Williamsburg of Thorndyke the Third, the Governor of Walsh, two months ago.

While this potent mixture of scientific mystery, mass disappearance, and alleged involvement of not one but two secretive organizations may prove tempting fodder for the imagination, we here at the Gazette stress that readers take new details on this story with a grain of salt. Until we have hard evidence, most of these details remain conjecture at this point.

Blackwood Gazette #29: Massive Search for Waystation Bravo Launched; Several Airships Gone Missing

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

By Chester Seaton, News

25/6- Good news for farmers in Lower Crowndon: Meteorologists in the area are saying that the quadrennial influx of locusts may be smaller than predicted after a meager first hatching.

“We started hearing reports of the locusts last week,” said Humphrey Bretodeau, our meteorology contact in Nor Easter. “Normally, the initial hatching is the worst, but only a handful of farmers claim to be reporting major damage. Our working theory right now is that it is connected to the strange storm still brewing over the Barrier Ocean. It has prevented the four year cycle of an exceptionally warm summer in the region.”

Bretodeau warns against being too relieved, however.

“If the storm breaks, the locusts may still have time to hatch. Farmers should consider harvesting what they can. Furthermore, if the storm does not break, and the eggs remain dormant, we could be looking at a horde of apocalyptic proportions four years from now.”

Still, the news comes as a bit of relief to Crowndon, which has experienced an economic downturn in recent weeks.

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

Blackwood Gazette #27: Who is Paying for the Triumvirate’s Proposed Super-Prison?

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

24/6- Ever since Triumvirate Authorities announced their plans to build a massive prison-ship in the Barrier Ocean earlier this month, people have wondered how exactly it will be paid for. A recent tax hike throughout Crowndon seemed to indicate that the common citizen would be the prime contributor, but the lack of a corresponding tax in NorEaster and Monteddor indicates other wise.

Many theorize that the Crowndon tax hike has less to do with the prison, and everything to do with the recent Tuna Heist perpetrated by Roderck La Pierre that left a large percentage of the nation’s gold reserves temporarily unusable thanks to the smell (which, if rumors are true, has created an economic destabilization that Crowndon has refused to publicly acknowledge.) It is likely some tax dollars will be used, but after plans for the prison were recently released, the questions only grew louder.

According to the plans, which were shown in a private showing at the recent Innovation and Industry Conference, the prison will consist of three retrofitted Crowndonian warships, welded together to create a single super-structure. The Crowndon Navy insists that using these three retired ships cuts down on a large percentage of the cost, but questions still remain. How much will the retrofits cost? What about the crew, and maintenance? And more importantly, how much Blackwood will it take to power and move the mass of such a large structure? None of these issues have been addressed, and to date, my inquiries have been met with a canned dismissal, or outright ignored.

The Gazette has been doing some digging, and thanks to some inside sources has followed a paper trail leading to evidence showing the prison is being funded by private investors. Among these investors, we have learned, are several Monteddorian crime lords, including the notorious Alejandro Julianos. Several wealthy industrialists in Crowndon and politicians in NorEaster were also named in our source.

This information, if true, raises several alarming issues. If the funding of the prison is as privatized as it appears, there is the possibility that it may not be used solely for the incarceration of criminals found guilty by the Triumvirate judiciary. One great fear is that investors could use their wealth to turn the prison into a place where “problems” go to disappear.

Whatever the truth, rest assured that the Gazette will maintain a watchful eye on this story.

Blackwood Gazette #27: Who is Paying for the Triumvirate’s Proposed Super-Prison?