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.

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Blackwood Gazette #57- New Crondon University, Part 1

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