Blackwood Gazette #235-Empress of Nor Easter Issues Bounty On Rinkenbach and Sinclaire, Expresses Hope They Will Turn Selves In

By Basilio Mura, Nor Easter Correspondent

22/4/282– In an effort to stem the rising tensions resulting from the recent sabotage of Sarnwainian interests by two Nor Eastern affiliates, Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire, the Nor Eastern Empress has issued a warrant for their arrest.

“It is with great reluctance that I serve up my dear Rigel to such dirty business,” The Empress said in a statement. “But in order to assuage the Primarch [of Pharassus] that Nor Easter had no hand in this tragedy, I most put forth a show of faith. As such, I am issuing a two million imperon bounty on both Rigel and agent Sinclaire for their safe delivery into Triumvirate custody.”

The two million imperon bounty might seem small compared to the three million inter imperial scrip bounty placed by the Primarch, however it is important to note that the imperon is the stronger currency.

Despite the issuance of the bounty, the Empress expressed hope that Rinkenbach and Sinclaire would come in on their own.

“I am sure that Rigel has a good explanation for all of this,” the Empress said. “He’s never done anything without good reason…mostly. Regardless, I’d rather have him home, safe, where we can deal with him in a civilized manner. Oh, and agent Sinclaire, as well. Being as I’m told she’s a war hero. They tell me I awarded her a medal, though I have no recollection of the event.

“At any rate, please, Rigel. Come home, so that we may clear all of this up and I can get back to hearing your wonderful tales as we share tea!”

Others in the Triumvirate Authority aren’t so hopeful.

“The Empress, I hate to say it, is delusional,” said High Admiral Jasper Stapleton. “The Authority has no interest in granting amnesty to Rinkenbach and Sinclaire. Their alleged actions have brought us to the brink of a catastrophic and unnecessary war with Sarnwain, when we should be focused on other things. Rinkenbach might be fooled by the Empress’ claims of mercy, but Sinclaire sure as hell won’t be. She’s the brains behind this operation, I’m sure. And I’ve worked with her before. I feel sorry for anyone who manages to back her into a corner.”

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Blackwood Gazette #235-Empress of Nor Easter Issues Bounty On Rinkenbach and Sinclaire, Expresses Hope They Will Turn Selves In

Blackwood Gazette #230-Officials Believe ‘Pillar’ Assassinations Related to Summit Attacks

by Chester Seaton, News

4/4/282- While the stocks of private security firms across the Triumvirate may be up, it would seem the recent murders of several high profile business executives have had the opposite effect in other sectors. New reports say that consumer faith in several of Crowndon’s key exports has plummeted in recent weeks.

“How would you feel as a stockholder in an environment where the leadership could change, violently, at any given moment,” said Abraham Comstock, a business analyst in Walsh. “After the CEO of Fornherst Engineering was murdered, his replacement wasted no time in driving the business into the ground.”

While other affected businesses have replaced their departed with much more competent leadership, the example set by Fornherst Engineering set a poor precedent. It doesn’t help that other recent incidents, such as the winter of 280, the Desantana Uprising and ensuing Blackwood shortage, the Heisenberg Disaster, and the Great Tuna Heist perpetuated by Roderick La Pierre have left the citizenry feeling like Crowndon’s economy has been under attack for the last three years.

“It all feels a bit coordinated, no?” Comstock said. “Almost like someone somewhere is pulling strings. I’m not one to jump at shadows, to point fingers and posit insane theories, but this destabilization of Crowndon’s economy coupled with the attack on the Arms Summit last year almost feels like it’s all been a part of some systematic deconstruction of the Empire to me.”

Statements made by the lead inspector on the murders in Toring, Donovan Wick, would seem to lend credence to this idea.

“It might sound crazy,” Wick said, “But given the coordination and efficiency of these murders, and taking into account the domino effect they have caused throughout the business community, I must admit the possibility of something more going on. I’m reluctant to pin these crimes on some shadowy, global conspiracy that has it in for the Triumvirate…but I’m not ruling it out completely, either.”

Blackwood Gazette #230-Officials Believe ‘Pillar’ Assassinations Related to Summit Attacks

Blackwood Gazette: Update

Hello! I just thought I’d drop in and let what few regular readers I have know that I’m still alive, and the Blackwood Gazette is still a priority. I’ve got big plans for the Gazette this year; the Triumvirate faces some major changes in the form of shifting alliances and technological developments, not to mention this mysterious destabilizing force known only as the Cartographers. And with Adella Chatelaine back in the game, who knows what secrets may be uncovered? Expect mystery, intrigue, and high adventure on a semi daily basis!

So what have I been working on in the interim? That’s a bit of a secret, as I have no idea if it will ever happen and I don’t want to risk looking like an asshole by announcing some huge thing and not delivering…although, I suppose it might be too late for that, so who knows. Hopefully this project I’m writing works out.

Also, full confession time: I’m playing Fallout 4, and working retail during the holidays. Anyone who’s familiar with either should know what that means for productivity without me having to get too into it.

The Gazette will resume in January. In the meantime, you can play catch up, or check out my novel, Where, No One Knows, starring recurring characters such as the agent provocateur Pixie Sinclaire, the mad alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach, and the disgraced pirate captain Roderick La Pierre.

Blackwood Gazette: Update

Blackwood Miscellany: Creation Myths of the Empire

Within the context of the Blackwood Empire series, the following tale originates in the region known as the Divide, and is widely told in the NorEastern Empire and the northern regions of the Monteddorian Empire.

At the time of the Blackwood Empire, the story holds little spiritual or religious meaning in the largely libertine NorEastern Empire. It is mainly told with a smirk, as an amusement at tea parties and meetings of Alchemists. It does, however, reflect the nation’s fascination with the human drive to create and understand the world around them.

For the people of Monteddor, however, the story still holds much cultural significance. Ultimately, however, its purpose is a dark one, and much emphasis is placed on the dangers of human curiosity. It is used by the powers that be as a means of control, to keep the citizenry in line and maintain the status quo.

In Crowndon, the story takes on a highly antagonistic tone with the idea of a higher Creator, to be told at a later date.

As Told in the northern reaches of Monteddor:

The Man awoke, surrounded by a bone dry desert under a sun baked sky. There was no sound, but for the soft whisper of a warming wind. He named them as he perceived them, but they were not new names. They were names that existed in some deep, locked away part of himself.

The Man sat up. His head ached for the span of a heart beat, and then the ache disappeared. His eyes grew accustomed to the light, and opened, focusing upon the world around him. The desert stretched far to the horizon in all directions, completely flat except for the rows of pillars to both sides of him, 12 a piece, that reached high into the air above him and curved inward.

The sun hung in the air directly overhead, and the pillars cast no shadow but for a tiny pool of darkness on the underside of each pillar’s curve. The Man stood and stared into these shadows, and knew darkness, which gave meaning to the light.

The Man began walking along the rows. He was strong, and full of energy. He felt no desire, except for the want of knowing what lay beyond the horizon. He turned to the left, and walked through the pillars.

As they fell behind him, the Man felt a deep hollow form in his chest, as though he were leaving behind something that was a crucial part of him. He knew emptiness. He fought the urge to go back, the compulsion to see and know greater than the pull of what was already known.

The world seemed to end. The Man found himself staring into the vast blue nothingness of the sky. Until he looked down, and saw that the world continued, rolling gently downward to another flat plane of desert below. And at the base of the rise, five more pillars reached up from the sand.

Four stood together, seemingly against the fifth, who stood alone. The Man felt something else. It was similar to the hollow he felt after leaving the first stand of pillars behind, but that hollow had filled. This came from somewhere else, somewhere deeper.

That fifth pillar, standing alone against the four. A chill went through the Man. He lifted his shaking left hand. Four fingers stood together. His thumb stood alone. The Man thought on this as he walked on, unsure how to feel about what he’d found. His curiosity had begun to wane. Once again, the hollow returned. The unknown stretched before him, and doubt had shadowed his mind.

Still, the Man persisted.

As he walked, his legs became heavy, and he knew gravity. His lungs burned, and he knew air. Sensation after sensation sprung up within him, like empty spaces he had not known were there until he became aware of them.

His mouth became dry, and the ache in his head returned. Soon, he could walk no more. First, he named what he felt.

Thirst.

The Man fell to his knees, then forward onto his face. He heard something new, and felt something new. He lifted his aching head, and found that where it had laid came forth a bubbling spring of water.

The Man dug deep with his hands, and the water flowed more freely. He scooped it into his palms and he drank. He dug deeper, and the spring became a torrent. It rose around him, touching his knees, his feet. It came up to his waist. And the water rolled away to his left, along the shape of the land and out of sight.

The Man continued his journey, following the flow of the water and drinking from it when needed. Soon it flowed into another stream, this one much larger, and along its banks the land changed. The endless white sand became green grass, and then bushes and trees.

The Tree bore strange orange orbs that smelled sweetly. His mouth watered and his stomach called out. Even as his thirst was quenched, he became aware of his hunger. He plucked an orange from a tree and bit into it, but the skin of the fruit was tough, and bitter. Disappointed, he nearly threw the fruit away, but for a single drop of sweetness on his tongue. Juice flowed from the point where he had bitten into the fruit. He dug into the mark with his thumbs and pulled the orange open, exposing the soft flesh inside.

He ate, hollowing out the skin of the fruit. Finished, he looked once again at his hands, and at the thumb he’d used to pry the orange open. He remembered the pillars, the four standing against the one. He now knew the importance of the one. The importance of his thumb.

He shared the forest with other living things. He tried hunting monkeys. They were quick, and they had thumbs. They could climb. So he hunted deer. They had no thumbs.

Wolves hunted him, but he, like the monkeys, could climb trees. And he could build. He constructed shelters in the trees. He used them to sleep in, and to hunt deer from. He built long, sharp weapons to kill with.

The Man was crafty, and he survived, and built a life in the forest. Water and food were plenty, and his stomach was full. But still, that strange hollow he felt as he left the pillars behind remained. This hollow was not physical. It came from someplace else.

One day, he discovered a new plant with red berries unlike anything he’d seen before. He ate the berries while he hunted. But soon he felt weak, and he was unable to hunt. He weakened more, and was unable to climb. Instead he crawled into the roots of a tree, and shivered, hoping that wolves would not come.

He awoke to a strange sound. His vision was blurred, and his hearing muffled. The notion came upon him that the sound was directed at him. But it was not the growl of a wolf, or the protest of a dying deer, or the chattering of a monkey.

The Woman crouched before him. She held out her hand. Inside were naught but leaves. He had chewed them before, but they made him sick. Not as sick as he was now, but they made the food he ate come back up. The Woman insisted. The sounds she made were pitiful, worrisome…compassionate. Their tone compelled him to eat the leaves.

Sure enough, they brought his stomach up, and along with it the berries he had eaten. He felt better, afterward, but still weak. She brought him water in a deer skin. Lots of water, and she made him drink every last drop, even when he was no longer thirsty.

The Man slept a long time and when he awoke, the Woman remained. He saw her more clearly. She wore the skins of the deer, as he did. She had tools of wood, as he did. No…not like he did. She had tied rocks to them. Some of the rocks had been sharpened to points. He gestured to them and she held them out. He looked at them, admiringly. And he looked at her, the same way.

They stayed together. She showed him how to sharpen the rocks, and how to tie them to the sticks, and they hunted. When they discovered something new, they assigned a sound to it, so they could understand each other. Over time, the Man became aware that the hollow was gone.

They explored the forest by day, naming the world around them, and by night, they explored each other. They were much the same, but very different. Soon, they brought forth a little one like them, and more after that. The little ones grew, and they learned to hunt. Some of them left and never returned. Some went to sleep and never awakened.

They built a home on the ground, protected by felled trees. They grew smaller trees inside. The day came when more like them appeared. They showed them what they knew, and these people built a home beside them. More people came, and before long, they had conquered the forest and built homes made of stone.

Still others came after that, but these did not need to learn. In fact, they knew more. Some were willing to teach. Others…others only wanted to take. Over time, the spear and the arrow gave way to the sword and the gun. Over and over again the people fought. At first they fought over food and land. They fought over people. And then, they began to fight over words, and ideas. The fight over ideas were the most brutal; the ideas were stronger than any physical need. The ideas came from the same place as the Man’s strange emptiness that he could not fill. The ideas were nearly the end of them.

Until one day, a Man had an idea meant to save them. He built a colossus of iron and gears in his own image, which would hold their very being within and preserve it for eternity. He built the colossus, and in their desperation the people submitted to it. The Man was the last one inside.

And the Colossus walked across the surface of the empty world until the mountains fell and the forests turned to dust. When all life was gone, the Colossus remained. However, even it could not stand up to time. Eventually, the Colossus fell, too. It crumbled to pieces, exposing its skeletal frame, its ribs jutting up from the earth like two rows of pillars. And all was still.

Until one day, a Man awoke in a bone dry desert, under a sun baked sky…

Blackwood Miscellany: Creation Myths of the Empire

Blackwood Gazette #201: Adella Chatelaine Resigns from the Blackwood Gazette; Plans to Pursue Career as Independent Journalist (Lelina Horror, Conclusion)

By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reporter

10/11- It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that I will not be returning to the Blackwood Gazette as a full time correspondent. My time here has, mostly, been a great chapter of my life. However, there are things that I must turn my attention to now, that I would not be able to do under the auspices of such a well-regarded publication.

During my time in the colonies and subsequent captivity, I learned of forces at work in this world that most believe do not exist. These forces are protected by an almost institutionalized sense of denial, one that I can no longer be privy to. And because of that, I believe I am a target. I cannot in good conscience drag my fellow reporters and friends into such a mess.

So I will go on alone, as an independent journalist. I will search the dark corners of this earth to ferret out the secrets of this hidden cabal that I believe is pulling the strings of world industry and development. I know not what their plans are, these Cartographers. I have my doubts that many of them even know, and I cannot even begin to fathom the place in which the diabolical experiment that so many others and I were forced to endure fits into those machinations, but I vow to find out.

A lie, after all, is a construct. And like any construct it needs to be maintained. Given time, or the proper application of force, any lie will eventually crumble. And the truth therein revealed.

I would like to thank my fellow reporters at the Gazette for their support and guidance over the years, in particular Mister Maurice Merchant, who took a chance when he hired me on after the whole Bulloch award fiasco and never gave up hope that I would return home. I don’t know where I would be without you all and the Gazette.

Fare well.

 

 

Blackwood Gazette #201: Adella Chatelaine Resigns from the Blackwood Gazette; Plans to Pursue Career as Independent Journalist (Lelina Horror, Conclusion)

The Lelina Horror, Part 19

PIXIE (IX)

Vengeance is a pesky thing. It isn’t exactly justice, but the need for it can eat at a person. And unlike other emotions or whatever vengeance is, it doesn’t dampen with time. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say.

It’s also very rarely justified, but that doesn’t matter to the person searching for it. They just want closure. There’s a lot of things I could say about the feelings in the air that night as we escaped from the hospital, but I don’t think closure was one of them. At least not for Arufina Villanova.

I felt the cold steel of her gun barrel against my head, and then I heard the click of the hammer as it fell on a dud, of all things. With how many rounds were fired over that ten minutes or so, I guess at least one was bound to misfire. I don’t consider it fate, or even luck. Just…statistics, I guess.

I turned around and gave her an evil glare. There was no surprise on her face, just resignation as she lowered the gun and said, “Go.”

We made it back to Point Hammond by dawn, and luckily for us, not a Cartographer could be seen. The large group of malnourished people in ragged clothes did catch the attention of the local law, however, and we were all taken in for disturbing the peace. It took some explaining but once I was able to impart to the sheriff who we were and where we had come from, he contacted the nearby Marshal garrison and handed us off to them.

The Marshal’s fed us, treated Veronica’s wounds and had a doctor examine the people we’d rescued. None of them were in trouble physically. Psychologically, however, was a different story. After a few days we were cleared to leave. As I understand, several of the captives stayed. I don’t know their reasons.

As for Mister Bricklebrand McKay: I had assumed Arufina had killed him. Such was not the case, as he was already at the garrison when we arrive. He ran away, you see. I wish I could say that surprised me, but it doesn’t.

Veronica, Adella, Doctor Rothery and I chartered a ferry up the coast to the city of Bly, where they will board a train to New Crowndon in the morning. We traveled in relative silence. I considered asking Adella and Doctor Rothery for details, but decided against it. If Adella ever wishes to tell the story of what happened, I imagine she will do so in her own time.

By the time we arrived in Bly, the news had already hit the papers. A number of reporters and well-wishers greeted us. Adella and Rothery were in no mood to answer questions, so I stepped in as spokesperson, stressing the need to let them provide answers in their own time.

Veronica, Adella and I just had a goodbye dinner, where we spoke of things other than Point Hammond and Lelina. I told them of some of my lighter exploits since the end of the war, and Veronica told of her dig in Pharassus. Adella didn’t share much, but she seemed in high spirits. I have hopes that she will carry on.

I will not be joining them on the train to New Crowndon. No sooner than I returned to my room at the hotel did my handler with the Society send me details on my next job. The Triumvirate Authority is worried about whatever Alejandro Julianos is looking for down south, and since I’m in the area, the task falls to me.

And so, as one task ends, another begins.

The Lelina Horror, Part 19

The Lelina Horror, Part 18

ADELLA (X)

She asked me if I remembered her, and despite the trauma of my captivity and the long years since I’d last seen her, I did.

Pixie Sinclaire. Spy. Saboteur. A decorated hero of the Nor Easter-Crowndon war. And, once upon a time, a fellow student and friend.

We’d studied together at the University of Oeil de Fleur. She only spent a semester there before joining the military and going on to a career of death-defying derring-do. Even in that short time, however, I knew that Pixie Sinclaire was someone I wanted to be.

She was the one who pushed me towards investigative journalism when everyone, from my parents to my professors, pushed me towards straight on reporting. Where they told me to find a nice paper to work for in a nice, comfortable city, Pixie was the one who told me that finding the truth of a story was nearly more important than merely stating the facts.

After she left, I hadn’t seen or spoken to her for years. And yet here she was, in this hellish place, trying to save me. To save us, even though I doubt we deserved it. Not only that, but she had refused to turn over a person who wanted her dead for a quick and easy out. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at that.

I told her that I did, indeed, remember her, and she asked me if I was ready to leave. When she asked me that I felt like myself for the first time in a long time. She smiled and said,

“Let’s go, then.”

A few moments later, the people who’d brought us to this place and put us through hell came through the only door in the room, and the guns that Doctor Trenum, Pixie, and the assassin Arufina Villanova thundered in the small space. The bodies fell and tumbled down the stairs. I didn’t feel anything as I watched it happen. Not horror, nor relief as Pixie led us up the stairwell and into the decrepit hospital.

More people, all wearing blue, like the others, waited for us in the corridors above. I think I recognized one of them as Shelby as I passed his body. It was kind of hard to tell, with half his face off.

Pixie led us first into a dark room off of one of the corridors, a room filled with broken beds and horrific machines. She said that they had entered through there, but the window had been boarded up. Metal bars covered the others. With their original point of ingress now closed, we had no choice but to storm the front.

A small group of men waited for us there. Not very many, eight, but just enough to stop us. Pixie was out of bullets, and Veronica had taken a hit. Arufina had four shots left. Even if she managed one bullet per man, that left four with six shots a piece. Going back to scrounge for more from one of the bodies was an option, but Pixie offered another solution.

“I still have one of my little pills left,” she said. “I can take out that cluster of five or so by the door. The others will be your problem.”

Arufina nodded. Pixie tossed her bomb, and the assassin swept the room, fanning the hammer on her revolver and taking out the other three with one bullet to spare. It was easy. Looking back, it was sort of scary just how easy it was.

We walked out of the hospital. I half expected more of the men in blue uniforms to be outside, waiting for us, but there weren’t any. Just a cool, clear autumn night. We were safe. We’d made it out.

And then Arufina raised her gun, put it against the back of Pixie’s head, and pulled the trigger.

The Lelina Horror, Part 18