Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Dark and Forbidding Land - Saba Colbshallow


Throughout the series, it certainly seems that Saba Colbshallow gets around.  He's had his hands in just about everything.  I have chapters entitled PC Colbshallow and Inspector Colbshallow, and this one-- Saba the Spy.


The S. S. Windemere didn't arrive until Festuary eighth.  It had been waylaid in the Mulliens with a damaged boiler.  Still, Saba Colbshallow had been at the docks to meet it and one passenger in particular.  Mr. Brockton didn't look like a secret agent, not that Saba knew what a secret agent looked like.  He was a short, slight man in his mid-forties with a brown handlebar mustache and thinning hair beneath a brown bowler hat.  He looked over Saba for a moment then shook hands.
“Governor Dechantagne Calliere asked me to meet you and see that you have a place to stay,” said Saba.
“Very good,” said Brockton in a thin nasal voice.  “She indicated in her correspondence that she would send a representative that had her complete trust.”
Saba tried not to let his surprise show.
“I've got you an apartment on the militia base.”
“Won't that be suspicious?”
“Probably less than rooming anywhere else, unless you want to spend the next week in a tent,” said Saba.  “Those are basically the two options for new arrivals.  We don't have a hotel or rooming house yet, though there are a few people who let rooms.  The apartments and rental houses have quite a long waiting list.”
“The militia base it is then,” said Brockton with a thin smile.
Saba led the way up the hill from the dock yards.
“I'm going to need a day to get my land legs back,” said Brockton.  “Why don't we plan on meeting tomorrow and I'll go over what the Governor needs to know with you then.”
Saba nodded.  “Fine.  I'll have some supper sent over if you like?”
“Good.”
The following afternoon just before tea, Saba met Brockton outside the building that had been designed to eventually be part of the base's barracks but which, since its construction, had been divided into ten small apartments. 
“The best place to eat is back at the dock yard,” he said.
Brockton raised an eyebrow.
“They have food carts.”
Making their way down the hill, they took their place in the queue for sausages.  Then they sat down on a bench at the northern edge of the gravel yard and ate the thick sausages, which were served on a stick.
“Not much in the way of dining in Birmisia, eh?” said Brockton, then waved off Saba's reply.  “I expected as much really.  I ate so much on the voyage that I probably gained ten pounds anyway.  This is fine, and so were the fish and chips you sent up last evening.”
“Good.  So what is the information you want me to relay to Governor Dechantagne Calliere?”
“She is aware, though you might not be, that I am with His Majesty's Secret Service.  We have people working around the world, but right now our focus is in Freedonia.”
“Aren't we at peace?”
“Ostensibly.  But a great many things can happen.  And I don't mean war, at least I don't mean just war.”
“What else?” asked Saba.
“ Klaus II fancies himself a wizard and he's immersed himself in the wahre kunst von zauberei.  As a result, the wizards of the Reine Zauberei have replaced most of the non-wizards in key positions in the Freedonian government.”
“Don't we have quite a few wizards of our own?” asked Saba.  “Yourself for instance?”
Brockton smiled a thin smile. 
“Well spotted young Corporal.  I'm a first level journeyman from Académie Argei.  But you have to understand, these Reine Zauberei are not just wizards.  They have their own peculiar ideas.”

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