On a quiet street in the merchant quarter of Quilla there sits a shop with a discrete sign by the door. "Stemwinder Imports/Exports Ltd. J Sprocket Stemwinder prop." Everyone in Quilla seems to know the place is there, but the casual observer would be hard pressed to see anything looking like the normal signs of a commercial enterprise.
Every morning precisely at eight, a young gentleman arrives, unlocks the door and enters the building. Occasionally the odd visitor arrives, enters, and then is seen departing soon afterwards. Nothing is ever seen being carried into or from the building other than the usual walking stick, hat and gloves of a gentleman visitor. Every afternoon precisely at four, he locks the door and leaves the way he came. In spite of this, the enterprise appears to be a flourishing one, for almost everyone knows J Sprocket Stemwinder, but few are willing to admit publicly that they know him personally, let alone transact business with him.
Sprocket, or JS as he is known to his associates, is the consumate man about town. He conducts business with decorum and dignity, contributes to all the right charities in Quilla, and is seen in all the right places. He's even been put forward for royal honors, all of which he has graciously but modestly refused. His name appears on the tips of tongues all the way from the docks to the halls of academia to the royal precincts themselves. Of course, depending on where you are, who you are talking to, and whether or not JS is himself present will determine what is said of him and how it is spoken.
The fact of the matter is that J Sprocket Stemwinder is THE man to see in Quilla for things larcenous and neferious. Do you want somebody or something smuggled into or out of Quilla? JS can have it done. Do you want something ah...acquired...by slightly less than legal means? JS can see that locks are picked, and safes opened, items may also be acquired on the fly so to speak.
Arson, burglery, forgery, theft, blackmail, and other light crimes, all fall within J Sprocket's mastery; not that he will perform them himself, you understand. Oh my no! J Sprocket merely acts as a broker of such things as well as the major clearinghouse of informaton and rumor in Quilla and all its surrounding environs.
Of course, all of these services come with a price. If you want the service, you pay the asking price, and J Sprocket's services never come cheap. The other thing to know is that payment need not necessarily require a drain on your purse. JS is a most reasonable individual. He accepts cash, jewels, precious art, most anything of convertible value. He also is quite willing to accept the most precious commidity of all:Information. More than one piece of work has been paid in full by handing over secrets; personal, professional, political, military, alchemical, or magical; it matters not to him so long as the information is proved to be reliable.
There have been a few but very well remarked upon incidents of someone trying to "put one over" on him. In every case, the perpetrator of such a travesty ended up with a very public and extremely messy demise. Even mages and sorcerers of the highest rank are not immune from his wrath if their payment proves to be deficient. The last one that tried something of the sort ended up torn to pieces by a pack of slavering elementals at high noon on the main public square. Since it is well known that J Sprocket has not the least little bit of skill in the magical arts, no charges were ever pressed against him.
Thank you for the suggestion, esteemed Stemwinder. I hope to see a burgeoning of steampunk cycling habiliments someday soon, in the cycling world in general. So much more uplifting, somehow, than Lycra and Spandex.
As well it should, sir, especially the latter as he can do magic, ridiculous things with a fiddle. I'd actually say more Charlie Daniels, since Kenny Rogers no longer bears any resemblance to, um, himself. As for the making of acquaintances, it was a pleasure meeting you as well. I'm sure we shall brush elbows again sooner than later.