Blackwood Gazette #249-Veronica Trenum Embarks on Deadlands Expedition, Promises “Revolutionary Discoveries”

By Timothy Petit, Science and Technology

21/7/282- After months of preparation and navigating the increasingly murky waters of Triumvirate bureaucracy, Veronica Trenum’s expedition into the Deadlands is officially underway. The goal of the expedition is to follow along the trail of Professor Uriah Farringdon Oke, who went missing in the region years ago and was recently discovered wandering around the colonies.

“I have no doubts that this will prove to be the most important, and most exciting, scientific expedition of the last hundred years,” Doctor Trenum told me before her departure. “The mysteries of the Deadlands have long baffled the Triumvirate, and should the tales Professor Oke told of an ancient, mechanical city deep within its forests prove true, its discovery would revolutionary discoveries about Pre-Rift culture.”

Doctor Trenum has already overcome many obstacles to even getting the expedition running, and she is sure to face many more to come. Among them is a rival expedition, led by Doctor Alex Congate, which will be leaving shortly after the Trenum Party.

“You media types keep calling this a race,” Doctor Congate said. “That’s nonsense. I prefer to think of my party less as an expedition, and more as a system of checks and balances. It is not our intention to find this mythic city, or any such evidence of so called ‘Pre Rift’ culture. It is my objective to keep Miss Trenum in check, to make sure that her investments in this venture do not overshadow the sanctity of the scientific process.”

Besides having a skeptic hot on her heels, Doctor Trenum faces another party interested in the region, Alejandro Julianos, who has been sending expeditions into the region for over a year.

“I’m not worried about Julianos,” Doctor Trenum said. “Whatever it is he’s doing in the Deadlands, I doubt it has anything to do with Oke’s lost city. There was some worry early on that he was barring our efforts to get funded, crewed, and supplied, but those setback proved to be more about TA incompetence than anything. In any case, anything the Julianos expeditions have discovered have been kept secret. Anything I find, I intend to share with world. And I am convinced that anything I find will prove to have monumental effects.

“Remember the discovery of the Blackwood Grove? In the nearly three hundred years since we’ve gone from disparate feudalist territories tearing at each other’s throats and groveling in the mud to a worldwide Imperial power unified by steam engines. I believe the Deadlands conceal a similar world changing discovery. We’ll never know until we get over our fears of the region and press inward. With the Grove beginning to dwindle, and no solution to its eventual depletion in sight, we can’t afford not taking risks.”

***

Timothy Petit is the new science and technology writer for the Nor Eastern branch of the Blackwood Gazette. He has taken the position with the utmost reluctance, and fears greatly for the well being of his Crowndonian counterpart, Ada Herschel, who remains in government custody. He graduated from Sau Anoit University, with honors, holds three patents, has fathered 2 children, twin daughters, and has a dog named Chip (formerly Block-Head…he was named by the aforementioned daughters when they were three; they have since grown older and changed their minds).

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Blackwood Gazette #249-Veronica Trenum Embarks on Deadlands Expedition, Promises “Revolutionary Discoveries”

Blackwood Gazette #229-Rival Archeologists Set Out to Uncover Lost City; “A Scientific Race That Could Determine the Future of the World”

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

31/3/282- Ever since the missing explorer Uriah Farringdon Oke was recovered in the colonies, rambling about a mysterious ‘living city’, the archaeology community has been abuzz with speculation as to what such a discovery could mean. Now, two separate expeditions, led by noted rivals Doctor Veronica Trenum and Doctor Alex Congate, are set to strike out into the Deadlands.

“It is my firm belief that this is all poppycock,” Doctor Congate told us. “Unfortunately, said poppycock has dominated the discussion for the last three months with no end in sight. Even if there is nothing to be found, I feel it is my duty to right the course of academic discussion. It will also offer me the opportunity to finally debunk that hack, Ronnie Trenum.”

Doctor Trenum is more optimistic.

“My studies at Pre-Rift sites around the world have pointed to this junction. It is the crowned jewel of my scientific career, and any discoveries to be had will have lasting effects. This has the potential to be a scientific race that could determine the future of the world, even as it shines a light on its distant past.”

The scientific community is divided on the ramifications of this endeavor, as is to be expected. Many detractors state a concern that the spectacle of the race will dilute any discoveries made, with one prominent archaeologist comparing Doctors Trenum and Congate to ‘squabbling children who refuse to get along, more concerned with their own stars than any real science.’

Others have called into question whether Doctor Trenum should be undertaking this endeavor at all, given her recent year long ordeal in Lelina. Doctor Trenum was quick to dismiss any such allegations.

“It won’t do me any good to mope about, doing nothing,” she said. “I must get back out into the field at some point. And the challenges I overcame in the wilds of the Lelina swamps make me all the more qualified to survive anything the Deadlands have to throw at me.”

Neither Trenum nor Congate deigned to divulge the details of their expeditions, though both are believed to set out within the next month.

Blackwood Gazette #229-Rival Archeologists Set Out to Uncover Lost City; “A Scientific Race That Could Determine the Future of the World”

Blackwood Gazette #218- Rescued Explorer Reportedly Rambled on About ‘Living City’

By Chester Seaton, News

16/2/282-Rumors and speculation continue to swirl around the recent recovery of the famous explorer Uriah Farringdon Oke, who disappeared during an expedition into the Deadlands of the western continent. The Colonial Marshals who took Oke into their custody have been reluctant to share details on Oke’s condition, but new reports are shedding some light on what happened during his ill fated expedition.

Sources close to the personnel of Fort Faulkner tell us that the Professor exhibited signs of madness when he was brought in. During his waking hours they say he is prone to babbling on about various mysterious things.

“Most of it is incoherent raving,” said a doctor who claims to have performed the initial examination of Oke. “However, he became particularly lucid when he would describe ‘The Living City.’”

According to the doctor, who wished to remain unnamed (and whose references check out, we can assure you), Oke and his team had stumbled upon a ‘great, mechanical city’ in the heart of the Deadlands. At the center of this city lay, ‘a monumental forest of gargantuan trees, blackened and burned by some unimaginable inferno.’

Experts in both archaeology and anthropology have begun requesting transcripts of the doctor’s report. So far, however, the doctor has only sent a copy to Veronica Trenum.
Trenum, an expert in Pre-Alchemical Rift culture, was reluctant to discuss her thoughts on the doctor’s report. She did offer one, mysterious statement on the matter.

“If the lost city described in Oke’s rambling are the result of an actual experience and not some tragic devolution into insanity, and if the city is what I think it is, it could very well change everything we think we know about Pre-Rift history and the practice of Alchemy. If it exists and we could get to it, the knowledge contained within would completely alter the course of our world.”

While Trenum would offer no further insights into what she believed this lost city might be, former colleagues were more than willing to offer their theories.

“There exists, in certain interpretations of translated Pre-Rift writings, the myth of a colossal city in the sky,” said Professor Alex Congate. “This city was believed to be the Capitol of a nation of ancient alchemists whose hubris led them to take to the skies and rule the world below, only to eventually be toppled and come crashing back down to earth. A ridiculous notion, to be sure, but one with a lesson to be taught. That’s why we call it a myth.”

It is perhaps prudent to note that Professor Congate is a well-known rival of Doctor Trenum’s, and came under investigation for a fire that consumed most of her notes during an expedition several years ago.

Blackwood Gazette #218- Rescued Explorer Reportedly Rambled on About ‘Living City’

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

Blackwood Gazette #63-Meeting the Team

By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackwood Gazette #63-Meeting the Team

Blackwood Gazette #58- New Crowndon University, Part 2

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

25/8- 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 pull 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.”

“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 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. 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 show she is not thrilled, but she does not protest. She thanks Professor Oates and we leave.

“Come on, Adella,” she says, putting a friendly arm around my neck. “Let us go have some fun, before we meet up with the dead weight.”

Blackwood Gazette #58- New Crowndon University, Part 2

Blackwood Gazette #57- New Crondon University, Part 1

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

18/8-Upon entering the University, we are greeted by the acting Head of Newland Archaeology, Doctor Barnaby Joplin Oates. I get the feeling that Doctor Oates and Doctor Trenum know each other, based on their warm greeting, a feeling which is confirmed when Doctor Trenum introduces him as an old mentor.

Introductions out of the way, Doctor Oates takes us 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.”

Doctor Trenum asks him why it’s being kept under a metal case. He tells her to hold her hand over the observation window. She does, but not for very long before she 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. It was less something physical, but something emotional, 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, 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. I tell her I do not. 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 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.

Blackwood Gazette #57- New Crondon University, Part 1