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INFERNO

News 1877

(sources: The Times, the Inferno News Service, and various others)

BARINGS BANK IN "SERIOUS FINANCIAL TROUBLE"

The historic Bank of Barings is in danger of imminent collapse, a spokesman for the Bank of England announced yesterday.

TRIPLE PACT ESTABLISHED

The famous Austrian negotiator Friedrich von Ardsburg has secured an alliance between Prussia, Austria and Bavaria. Prussia's famed 'Velvet Chancellor' Baron Brodenbach was reported enthusiastic about this new move, as was Bavaria's armed forces spokesman Colonel Bargeld.

MIRACLE IN MILAN

The congregation in the Duomo of Milan were enraptured to witness the apparition of a holy angel of God during a sermon by Cardinal Gino Baggio. This miraculous event has put the seal on the Cardinal's reputation as a wonder-worker favoured by the Lord, and he is now popularly known throughout Italy as 'Il Divino Codino' - The Divine Pony-tail.

BIG BEN LOSES ITS HANDS!

Consternation filled the capital yesterday, when it was realised that the hands of the clock popularly known as Big Ben - had been removed during the night. At first it was assumed that they had been removed for renovation, or care, but it has now been established that some fiendish criminal mind must have been responsible. Who would have the audacity, and disrespect, to deface one of the Empire's most famous landmarks?

NORTH SEA CLASH

The French navy struck a powerful blow to Russian prestige, driving the Russian fleet back to the shoals of Denmark. The newly modernized French navy, in the formidable hands of Marshal Joffre, may soon rival England for control of the world's oceans.

CLOCKWORK SEAPORT DAMAGED BY STORMS

The great clockwork Victoriaport, opened last year in a blaze of publicity, suffered considerable damage at the hands of this spring's stormy weather and was closed for several weeks. Designer Professor Hugo Victor was said to be "labouring night and day" to repair and upgrade the port, with an emergency power supply to be added: but public confidence in the venture has certainly been shaken.

POWER PLANTS CREATED

As the world moves into a new age of prosperity and technical innovation, we hear of a new wonder of the world - Power Plants. Scientists now envision that rather than each factory and house having its own steam power plant, large centralised power plants will provide all the steam power required for an entire town! We are told that some technical innovations are still required before these plants can become a working reality, but structures are already being created in several major cities so that as soon as the scientists complete their work the power plants can go into action!

MUSEUM DESTROYED

The prestigious Lars-Stevenson museum was half burnt down along with several neighbouring buildings. A security guard who survived the incident gibbering about a fire-breathing monster, and a horrible thing swathed in raw sewage.

CARDINAL TOURS TROUBLED ITALY

Popular Cardinal Gino Baggio has been touring the troubled regions of Italy in an attempt to soothe popular unrest by reconciling the peasantry to God's will. Alas, even 'Il Divino Codino' found the water too hot in Reggio de Calabria, where a crazed peasant attempted to hack him down as he stood at the pulpit. Fortunately the assailant was so weak with hunger that he was easily pulled off the shaken Cardinal.

NEW INVESTMENT IN RUSSIA

Our financial staff tell us that a large amount of investment is currently occurring in Russia. Money is being pumped into mining, railways, and new power generation operations. We hear of the creation of 'Mathen Express', a railway company laying tracks throughout Russia, and construction of a large-scale power-plant outside of Moscow.

JAM TODAY, JAM TOMORROW

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a second pay rise for British MPs of 2% over the rate of inflation, after the shocking findings of an enquiry into politicians who have to work long hours into the night.

AUSTRIAN HEALTH CONCERN

Austrian physician Dr Karlos Pasture this year established The Austrian Institute for Neurological Treatment, to deal with the dreadful disease Lividus Solus. This curious complaint is characterised by darkening of the fingernails and reddening of the eyes in its early stages: any who observe these symptoms in themselves or loved ones should take immediate recourse to the Institute.

NEW SQUEEZE TO BE PUT ON CRIMINALS?

A new method for execution has been patented, and is believed to be under consideration by a number of governments. Unlike the relatively 'primitive' method of hanging, this technique makes use of modern technology - two steam engines rapidly move a press forward to crush the head of the condemned criminal.

'LIGHT BULBS' DEMONSTRATED

Noted impresario Beerbohm Tree early this year mounted a stupendous display of the new 'light bulbs' patented by the American engineer Thomas Edison. These devices give off a pleasing glow in any colour desired: Beerbohm Tree's show, at the Polytechnic in London, was designed by himself and by artist Mersuavin Powers. This reporter was curiously fascinated by the entrancing patterns of light, as were many of the audience.

FLORENCE - KNIGHTS IN JAIL

The Tuscan peasantry have risen up against their Medici masters and declared a Provisional Government in Florence, headed by a People's Council. Grand Duke Lorenzo 'the Avaricious' fled the city and is believed to be gathering his forces near Lucca, although those of the nobility who remained in Florence have been incarcerated by the new regime. The leader of the rebellion is a flame-haired woman known only as 'Diana'.

NEW FAVOURITE AT RUSSIAN COURT

Dimitri Solovoi has caused a stir in the Russian court recently with a seemingly endless supply of witty gossip, and has won the Tsar's favour. He recently introduced Piotr Korensky to the court.

BRITAIN STEAMING AHEAD

Another world first for British technology as better steam power generators went into construction under Mr Mey's private finance act. Russia was as ever not far behind in implementing a similar program outside Moscow.

THE COLONEL SPEAKS OF SUMERIA AT HARROW

Colonel Mustard gave a lengthy speech concerning his recent expedition to Sumeria. This speech occurred at his old school, Harrow, which he complimented on giving him the education he required to become one of the world's greatest explorers. He said "Harrow gave me the sort of attitude I've needed to survive extremes and understand the ancients."

PRINCESS ANNABELLA TREATS COLONEL TO EGYPTIAN TRIP

The busy explorer Colonel Mustard was also seen in Egypt this year, accompanied by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. This expedition was declared a success, and we await with anticipation the publication of the results.

BRITISH ACADEMIC PUBLISHES

Augustus Egart, Assistant Curator at the British Museum, has published a 'scholarly monograph' on secret societies, such as the Templars, Masons, Rosicrucians, etc.

SCIENTIST ABDUCTED

Prominent clockwork technologist Doctor Harvey Chase has disappeared from his Cambridge house. Police are treating the affair as suspicious.

ATLANTIS EXPEDITION ABANDONED AFTER DISASTER AT SEA

The latest expedition to Atlantis, launched by top British explorer Colonel Mustard, was abandoned after a near disaster at sea. Reports are sketchy, but we understand there was a major failing with the exploration equipment - designed by Professor Hugo Victor - which almost resulted in the sinking of the expedition ship. Quick thinking and action by Colonel Mustard saved the ship, but not the mission, which had to be abandoned.

>From the pages of 'How do you do?' magazine:

LOVELY LIZZY SHOWS HOW IT'S DONE!

International lovely Elizabeth Siddal was seen in London today. Accompanied by her agent Beerbohm Tree, she was at the premiere of another new stage production - the soon to be acclaimed 'Brand' by Ibsen. Elizabeth, who has had a busy year of public appearances, and has been working to publicise the launches of several key new products, said she was happy to be back in the exciting city of London, where many of the greatest artists of the world currently reside.

BEERBOHM'S NAME IS MUD

The Royal Premiere of Ibsen's latest play 'Brand' at the Haymarket Theatre in London this summer ended with red faces all round. The display outside the theatre used 'light bulbs' to spell the words "TONIGHT - BEERBOHM TREE", but during the course of the evening several of the 'bulbs' exploded, showering passers-by with glass and leaving the message "lO, I PEE On ThEE". Her Majesty the Queen, who attended the performance with Prince Albert, was reportedly 'not amused'.

VERNE CANNON DISASTER

An explosion at the Verne cannon testing ground near Brest killed seventy people. M. Tourvel, of the Chamber of Deputies, promised a full inquiry into the setbacks that have plagued the new Verne guns. Premier Verne himself had no comments.

>From the Times Editorial:

"...The activities of such women as Elizabeth Siddal, so-called 'model', are yet another demonstration of the acceleration of morale decay within our society. That such a 'Lady' should be invited to society events for no reason other than her ability to quote 'modern' verse and take her clothes off for 'artists' on request, shows the pitiable state of our cultural life. Her so-called agent (we use the word only at the advice of our lawyers) Beerbohm Tree, has thrust her from the obscurity she so richly deserves, into the kind of prominence that makes us shudder to contemplate. If these are the abuses to which our modern media is to be put, we crave a return to the days of stone tablets."

FLORENTINES TAKE THE BISCUIT

The revolt in Florence has been brutally put down by the troops of the Medici Grand Duke. Ringleaders have been executed, peasantry massacred, and the few survivors fled to Siena where they are now under siege. It is believed the rebels were badly let down by their weaponry, which was extraordinarily shoddy and unreliable compared to the fine equipment of the Grand-Ducal army.

CLOCK HANDS FOUND IN MOUSEHOLE

The hands missing from the clock Big Ben have been found - in the small Cornish town of Mousehole. Police from Scotland Yard recovered them yesterday, but said they had been given help, and advice, from a private individual in order to locate them so quickly.

OUTSTANDING IN HER FIELD

Noted Austrian botanist Ariadne Digitalis, developer of the amazing vodka trees, has made another breakthrough, producing strains of sugar cane that are capable of growing in her country's cool climate. She is reported to be working on repeating the trick with oranges.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?

Work has started on the greatest engineering project of this or any century, the Channel Bridge to link Great Britain with France. The 'Chridge', as it is familiarly known, is being designed by Doctors Tavener and Bedford, heading a huge team of engineers, scientists and labourers, and will employ cutting-edge technology to overcome the many physical obstacles in its path. So far all that is visible is a set of pillars extending four miles into the sea off Dover. But, given the disaster at Victoriaport, might the scientists have bitten off more than they can chew?

>From the Times Classified Column:

Lady Mouse,
Your exploits are original, but, alas, largely uninteresting. Crime is never charming, no matter how stylishly it is performed. I suggest you dedicate your life to something more constructive - there is much injustice in the world, and I feel we would be all better served if you dedicated yourself to combating it, rather than making such public displays. S.H.

Harlequin seeks pirate twin for entropy tango. Box 23.

POET LAUREATE CONDEMNED BY FLORENCE

The Florentine ambassador to the Court of St James has protested in the strongest terms about the conduct of our Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, who earlier in the year published 'The Fallen Empire', a collection of verses by various authors in support of the Tuscan rebels. It is believed Tennyson withdrew a planned second collection, 'Glory Regained', on the failure of the revolt.

SCIENTISTS HONOURED

Doctors Peter Tavener and Jonathan Bedford have made the New Year's honours list for their contributions to British science.

SOUTHERN ITALIAN REBELS GAIN GROUND

The restive peasants in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies have found a leader. Known only as 'Il Mosco Schiacciato' (The Squashed Fly), he has co-ordinated a number of small raids against governmental installations. In return King Federico has declared a bounty worth two hundred pounds sterling on his head.

INTRUDER SEEN IN VATICAN - POPE REPORTED SAFE

Sources inside the Vatican said that a security breach has allowed an intruder to slip into the Vatican, even as far as the Pope's private rooms. We are assured that his Holiness was kept safe by the highly trained Vatican guards, but it does make us wonder who would be so godless as to attempt such a vile act as breaking into the Vatican?

ATLANTIC SHUTTLE LAUNCHED

Mercosur Atlantico has launched its new Europe-America 'Atlantic Shuttle' amidst a blaze of publicity. The Titanic-class 'Queen Victoria' and 'George Washington' are expected to be able to undercut all other freight rates, each having room for up to 20 railway trains.

MOLTKE-MOLTKE MATCH

The self-styled Wedding of the Millennium took place on July 1st when the Argentinean shipping magnate Juan Fernandez de Moltke tied the knot with his distant Prussian relation Helmut von Moltke's widow. The guest list was kept down to the 5000 most important people in Europe, but as a man of the people Senor de Moltke ensured that no-one missed out by throwing huge 'Moltke festivals' in all the capitals of Europe and South American. After three days of continuous partying on the Bavarian shore of the Inner Sea, the de Moltkes were spirited away by private train to a honeymoon in exotic Baghdad.

TRANS-BRITANNIC RAILWAY READY

The Trans-Britannic railway project has been completed under the supervision of genius Professor Hugo Victor.

FLYING MACHINE 'A LET-DOWN'

Doctor Peter Tavener demonstrated his human-powered flying machine to interested observers in Christ Church Meadow, Oxford this summer. However, the event proved anti-climactic when it transpired that no-one but he was capable of getting the machine off the ground. The British Army had expressed interest in purchasing the device for military use, but it is believed they are now looking elsewhere.

BRITAIN, FRANCE TO ALLY?

The British Prime Minister Mey has been immersed in top-level meetings with the French government. Although an alliance of powers has not been finalized, the situation was described as "encouraging".

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES

A Moral Standards Commission has been instituted in Britain to maintain Victorian values within the nation's press. Some eyebrows were raised at the appointment of flamboyant Polish immigrant Gideon Stargrave as its chair.

SUE-PER, SMASHING

Parts of the Sue media empire have been bought up from several different sources. A controlling share of Sue Publications has been bought by a private investor who has appointed a Monsieur Fontaine as the new director. Other sections of Sue's interests have gone to the British crown and Russian buyers.

GREEK TRAGEDY

The Athenian countryside has been racked with violence in the name of 'nationalist aspirations' as Greek rebels, stiffened by the British Army's Yorkshire Brigade, clash with the Ottoman army.

FRENCH FARCE

Marseilles has fallen to a surprise attack by the Russian Army. Using a variety of civilian transports, the Russians, under the leadership of General Davchenko, achieved a stunning victory while the French navy were responding to Russian manoeuvres off Denmark. Although the victory was near-bloodless, the occupation has not been, as rumours abound of civilian executions, mass slaughter, and tremendous property damage.

DUTCH COURAGE

A spate of burglaries has occurred against Prussian-owned residences in occupied Holland. Perhaps the Netherlandese are growing more rebellious against the invaders now that Prussian belligerence has diminished.

RESCUE PACKAGE FOR BARINGS

The troubled Barings Bank has been saved by a deal led by Child & Co. Financial expert Mr England commented "I feel much sympathy for the customers of Barings Bank, who currently do not know whether they will be able to recover their investments. Child & Co have a long and respected history, and I believe they are capable of providing a solid foundation for a full recovery."

TEXTS PINCHED

There has been a spate of mysterious thefts of valuable academic texts from various libraries around Europe. Many of the thefts were accompanied by 'pranks' such as the moustaches drawn on portraits of Bavarian monarchs in the great library of the Frauenkirche in Munich.

PERRY'S MISSION TO JAPAN BECOMES DISASTER

Congressman Perry's much anticipated mission to Japan ended in a disaster this year. Initially the Congressman's ship, the S.S. Indomitable, was delayed from docking after some 'mystery illness' struck down many of the crew. Then, the Congressman disappeared overnight. An investigation came to the conclusion that he must have been abducted by agents from the shore, intent on preventing his peaceful mission going ahead. The captain immediately made an ultimatum to the Japanese, demanding his return. When the deadline passed the Indomitable began to shell the shore, and revealed its full military potential - sailing directly at the shore, and then clambering onto land on clockwork legs. From this position it was able to continue attacking the mainland, using other fearsome weapons. The Japanese, however, still refused to return the missing Senator, and launched a counter-attack again the noble American ship. Exactly what weapons were used was unclear, however it is known that the amphibious ship was soon utterly destroyed - taking most of its crew with it. Congressman Perry has yet to be returned, nor have the surviving crew members of the Indomitable. This looks like it could become the major political incident in the New Year.

JOFFRE LIVES IT UP

Despite gloom in France over the capture of Marseilles, Marshal Joffre's social life has been little affected. He and his lady friend Princess Annabella of Liechtenstein booked every seat in the whole Opera for their very own private performance of Ibsen's critically acclaimed new play Brand.

STING IN THE TAIL

Ariadne Digitalis' amazing vodka trees have taken Europe by storm - both the English and the Russian governments have invested heavily in their plantation, and Queen Victoria herself was present when one was introduced to Kew Gardens. Consumers are advised to be wary of a brand called Scorpion Vodka on account of its dangerous side effects, but by and large this arboreal alcohol is proving cheaper and thus even more popular than the real thing.

BAVARIAN COLLEGE ESTABLISHED

Ludwig Asmodeus has founded a new college, specialising in 'Medieval Human Sciences' which is attracting students from throughout Bavaria. Interest has been remarkably high for this rather dry subject.

P.R.B. BREAKING INTO MAINSTREAM?

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists seems to be coming firmly into vogue, with prominent figures from the artistic mainstream, such as Beerbohm Tree and Alfred Lord Tennyson, appearing at their soirees this year. Given that Tennyson in particular represents the artistic establishment that these young men claim to abhor, who is getting a rise out of whom?

FLARES ON MARS

Puzzled astronomers this summer reported a series of green flares, or flashes, clearly visible on the surface of Mars. 'The Martian surface, like that of Earth, is often subject to freak meteor activity', hazarded one astronomer in explanation.