Chapter 9
Hey, Hey, Mr. Postman

Vigau, Arielle, Bonaventure

Before the closing of the Academy and the factories, Vigau had a bustling post office. Now, however, with more than half the population gone and those who remained not being terribly active at either shipping or correspondence, the post office was little more than a shadow of what it once was. The staff was reduced to only a few clerks and carriers. Though it was one of the signs of the town's economic troubles, the bright side of it was that there were fewer people to question.
Inspector Andress stepped in with Constable Leach at his heels like an eager puppy. This time he selected a couple other constables to hang around out back in case anyone tried to run. Young Leach wanted to become a proper Witch-hunter and he needed to watch Andress work.
Inspector Andress walked up to the counter. The clerk was not paying attention, so the Inspector rapped on the counter to get his attention. The clerk still did not show much interest, so the Inspector pulled out his badge.
"Inspector Wadley Andress, Municipal Police. I'd like speak with the postmaster."
"Yeah, sure," the clerk replied lazily before correcting himself. "I, uh, I mean, yes, sir."
The clerk went to the back and a few minutes later he returned with the postmaster, a plump man with thinning, greying hair, wearing the sort of cheap suit you would expect from a low-level government employee.
"Inspector... Andress, was it?" the postmaster said. "What can I do for the Municipal Police?"
"You can start by telling me what you know about the contraband that's been going through this post office."
The postmaster's spectacles slipped down the bridge of his nose as he stammered, "C-contraband?"
Inspector Andress pulled out a handkerchief from his coat pocket and spread it out on the counter, revealing the two items in particular he was interested in.
"You see these things?" he asked. "Do you know what they are?"
"I, I, I've never seen them before," the postmaster replied nervously.
His clumsiness seemed to indicate otherwise, but it could be nothing more than a naturally high-strung temperament aggravated by fear of police authority. It was too soon to tell for certain. He needed to keep pushing.
"This is called a Witch's Crystal," he said, tapping the selfsame crystal. It started to cloud over the moment his finger touched it but quickly cleared as he then tapped the little booklet beside it. "And they call this a pocket grimoire. Do you know what these things are used for?"
"No, I wouldn't know," the postmaster replied.
"How many have come through this post office?"
"I wouldn't know that either."
"And why not? Isn't inspecting the mail part of your job?"
Sweat started to drip down the postmaster's forehead as he said, "We can't possibly be expected to check each and every letter and parcel that comes through here. Naturally, anything that looks suspicious is inspected and we do random checks one every few hundred pieces of mail, all in accordance with official policy."
That simply would not do.
"Starting today," Andress said, "you'll inspect every parcel without exception and then log the sender, the recipient and the contents. If you come upon anything of interest, especially any of these things here, you will contact the station house without delay."
"But, Inspector," the postmaster pleaded, "I only have eight people on staff, not counting myself and the cleaning lady who comes by three times a week. How do you expect me to meet such a request?"
"It's not a request," the Inspector corrected him, "it's an order. And I have every confidence you'll find a way to make it work. Otherwise you may be found liable as an accessory to the trafficking of contraband."
"No, please, I, I'll do as you say, Inspector."
"See that you do. Good day."
With that, the Inspector walked out of the post office. In truth, he did not expect the traffickers to use the post office, but he was not going to risk anything slipping past him. There were, after all, some very intelligent criminals out there who could get away with doing little to conceal their illegal activities because it was precisely what an intelligent criminal would not be expected to do. Next would be the legitimate private couriers, the unofficial gofers and lastly the black market mules. It was possible that these Witch Crystals and the disappearance of the statue on Rue Meredy were all connected. If he could deliver a solid case to the County Procurator, it would great things for his career. He would not be stuck in this miserable little town for long.