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The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter II Part 4 September 14, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp - Chapter II.
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I always seem to suffer from loss of faith
On entering cities.

– Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Chapter II.4:  OutSider

© D. Erick Emert


Briggs left Jobe’s quarters in high spirits. A microcab waited for him at the bottom of the elegant outer stairway. He noticed the sun setting and from the height of the fifth terrace, the view of Uppsala that spread out before him looked stunning. He could see all the way to the docks on the Selgen River and lights began to dance across the terraces. A cadet driver held the door for Briggs and saluted by thumping the left side of his chest with his right fist. Briggs returned the gesture and slid into the back seat of the cab.

“Third terrace, temporary tents,” Briggs stated to the driver.

“Yes, sir!”

As the cab eased away on a pocket of air, Briggs thought back to his introduction to the Capitol of the Empire.

…The old fishing boat entered a sharp turn in the Selgen river where the Aros or mouth of the Fyris River began. The ships captain had explained to him that the OutSiders who founded Uppsala over 5,000 years ago felt the land reminded them of their home in Sweden. The land south of where the Fyris and the Selgen met contained impassable swamp lands called the fyri, which is why the ancients founded Uppsala on the north bank of the river on more solid ground. The river took its name from the swamp. Straight across from this combined waterway the docks of Uppsala stretched for miles to the north along the Selgen.

The chubby captain of the fishing boat stood beside Briggs at the rail. “Magnificent, in’t she?”

Briggs acknowledged the corn, nodding his head, his eyes taking in the splendor of the City of Blood.

Uppsala spread out before them on five concentric walled and high terraced hills. The first terrace housed the docks, warehouses and fisheries. As it spun around the perimeter of the city it also contained the granaries, market places, taverns and shops necessary for doing business with the outside world. Near each of the five gates and by the blue dock could be found the administrative offices of the government, which allowed or disallowed entrance to the great city.

The second terraced area contained the homes of the poor and lower classes located in the west near the docks and the middle classes in the eastern sector along with the taverns, markets, shops, schools, factories and work places of these inhabitants.

Units of the Army of Uppsala maintained barracks within the third terrace, along with the armory, smithies, lower courts, law enforcement personnel, administrative hacks and the jail. A parade area adjoined the front of the fourth terrace whose wall contained balconies for the use of the Lords of the Upper City to review military pageants and other popular events. Soldiers referred to these three terraces as the Lower City.

Inside the forth terrace resided the manor homes, elegant shops, spacious parks, lakes, entertainment houses, offices and markets of the Lords of the Upper City, high ranking military personnel and government officials with offices in the palace and their staffs.

Finally, the fifth terrace contained the immense palace of the Empire including the High Council, the War Council, and the various other bureaus, departments, ministries, and organizations that ran the Empire. The fifth terrace also enclosed the homes of the Grand Court of the Upper City and the living quarters of the Proctors along with their servants and staffs.

In the center of the bustling waterway set a small booth supported on pilings and covered with a thatched roof. The fishing boat followed a line of vessels moving slowly just to the right of it. The captain, along with Briggs and two other fishermen made their way to the starboard side of the craft. When they pulled along side the booth, a tall man in a green uniform shirt, filling in a log book in a frenzied fashion, bellowed from the booth, “B411458. Homeport?”

“Hummel,” the captain answered.

“What’s yer cargo, please?”

“One prime OutSider.”

“Length of stay?”

“Til we get paid.”

“Move her into green dock six.”

The ship nudged forward again, moving a half-mile upriver. Once she’d birthed, the captain, Briggs and the two fishermen disembarked. A second officious looking gentleman in a starched and pressed uniform met them on the dock. He wore a light green shirt and darker green pants with a white belt around his waist that had an extension running from his left hip over his right shoulder. He glared out at the captain from under a pith helmet.

“We don’t get a huge number of fishing boats visiting the green docks. What’s your business sir?” His eyes riveted on Briggs. As he spoke they remained searching his features.

“We pulled this man outta Riga Sea. Got good reason ta believe he’s a prime.”

“Yes, the cut of his cloth certainly doesn’t look familiar, does it?”  The man walked around Briggs, touching his clothing.  “Some sort of heavy blue jacket, blue pants.  You might have him shave that ridiculous beard off.  It would be better if he reached Three clean shaven.  In any case, you’ll need to take him there. I’ll send along a man to escort you. Come with me and I’ll get you the required paperwork.”

At the end of the green docks a wooden sidewalk ran north to south alongside a dusty brick roadway. Across the road another walkway ran in front of two or three story plank buildings, most of which had large glass windows on the lower level with various flags flying above them. Every quarter mile a road cut through to the west. This set the buildings off into blocks, one of which contained carriage sheds and a long stable area.

Briggs’ party crossed the street and entered a corner building to the left of pier nine. They entered into a foyer. Ignoring the stairway to the right that led to the upper floors, their guide opened the double doors to their left, leading them into a large rectangular room. The front of the room had chairs set against the walls and a long banister separating the waiting area from the desks of the workers. Upon entering, their guide signaled for the captain, Briggs, and his guards to have a seat while he met someone at the rail admitting him through a swinging gate and escorting him to a desk near the right wall of the office. The workers all wore similar style uniforms to the man who had met them at the dock.

A singular strange piece of apparatus located in the back of the office held the attention of Briggs and his group. Here some 80 to 100 metal tubes curved from the high ceiling to an operator’s desk. Papers deposited into carriers and then sealed and placed into the tubes could be sent to different offices throughout the building. They heard a whoosh of sound as the carrier whisked away. The same sound signaled a returning carrier, followed by a muffled thump. Extracting the paperwork from its carrier, the operator gave it to a young boy who ran it to an appropriate administrator’s desk.

After some time, their administrator came back to the rail. He signaled the captain to meet him. “I need you to place your mark on this paper, please.”

The boat captain looked over the paper and then back at the man who handed it to him. “What is it?”

“It’s simply a document remanding your catch to my custody. It’s necessary in order to get you paid,” the man replied.

The captain took the pen and applied his mark on the paper. “N when will that be takin’ place?”

“You’ll take these papers and your boat to yellow seventeen. Tie up there and feel free to enjoy the hospitality of the port. I will expect you back here in three day’s time. I’ll have an answer for you then concerning any reward you may have coming.”

The captain snorted. “I may have comin’ eh?” He signaled to his crew and started for the exit.

“Please take your leg irons with you.”

One of the men stooped over in front of the still seated Briggs and pulled a key from around his neck. He unfastened the leg irons after which the captain and his men exited the office.

Briggs stood as the administrator walked up to him and asked, “By what name are you called?”

“Briggs.  I’m the capt…”

“I’m not interested in your story, Briggs. It will be heard by others at a later time. What I am interested in is your gentleman’s agreement that you’ll not try to escape us.”

“Where would I go?”

“Exactly. Where indeed? But, if you are not what those men claim you are, I suggest you take up no more of our valuable time, exit that door and run as fast as your legs will carry you back to wherever it is you came from. If you leave now, nothing will be held against you, but if you stay and are found out later, you will be hung.”

“As I said, where would I go?”

The administrator nodded and signaled to a younger man waiting by the rail. As the man approached, he handed him a courier bag and said, “Accompany Briggs to the intake office in Three. Your passes are inside. They are expecting you.” He then turned to Briggs. “This is Herkiens. He will escort you to your future. Welcome to Uppsala, Briggs. Here a man lives to serve or serves to live.  Choose wisely.”

With that the young man waved his arm in the direction of the double doors. They left the office and stepped out into the sunshine. Minutes later, a green carriage with an emblem on its door similar to the flag flying on the building behind them, pulled to a halt in front of them. Herkiens opened the door for Briggs and the two of them climbed into the vehicle…



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