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The Royal Spy Service, also called the Shadow Service, was founded by Myles of Olau, George of Pirate's Swoop, and Evin Larse after the accession of Jonathan IV of Conté to the throne of Tortall.


The Shadow Service is headed by the Chancellor of Information and his second-in-command, the Deputy. Directly below the Deputy Chancellor are the chiefs of the Shadow Service: Chief Falcon, Chief Harvester, Chief of Nursemaids, and Chief of Hostlers. Directly below the chiefs are the Deputies to the Chief Falcon, Chief of Nursemaids, and Chief of Hostlers. Below the Deputy Chiefs are the Harvesters outside of Tortall. Next are the Nursemaids, who oversee Sparrows and Hostlers (Hostlers oversee their own trainees). At the bottom of the organization are the Nurselings.[1]



Stationed in Tortall

Stationed Elsewhere

Known Owls

Known Magpies

Service Ranks

  • Nurselings - future Sparrows and Hostlers who are still in training with Nursemaids[2]
  • Sparrows - Nurselings who have passed their testing, and are set to gathering intelligence, writing reports, passing on coded messages, and dealing with Magpies[3]
  • Hostlers - agents who tack people, cultivate Magpies and Defectors[3], travel covertly and conduct interrogations. Hostlers, when necessary to perform their jobs, may pick pockets, commit robbery, sabotage, assault, or murder. There are very few hostlers in the Shadow Service.[4]
  • Nursemaids - former Sparrows or Hostlers who train Nurselings, gather reports from and pass on orders to Sparrows and Hostlers under them, and develop and compile intelligence. Nursemaids and their Nurselings are stationed in Corus at the Nursery until their Nurselings are ready to train in the field.[4][5]
  • Harvesters - senior Sparrows, Hostlers, or Nursemaids who are charged with gathering information from other Nursemaids and ensuring it is safely delivered to Corus. Harvesters also pass on information to Nursemaids and are often diplomats (e.g. ambassadors), parts of caravans or ships' crews, traveling priests, or Players. Harvesters do not develop intelligences, they only appraise and rate it and deliver it to Corus.[5][6]
  • Falcons - in charge of Shadow Service operations and intelligence in a territory, inside and outside of Tortall. Falcons collect all reports from Harvesters, arrange meetings with Sparrows and Hostlers, have lawful covers, and pass on orders and information to others in the Service.[6]
  • Owls - civilians with magic, special knowledge, or research not available in libraries, who are happy to lend a hand to agents in the Shadow Service. Owls can be mages, traveling merchants, Players, immortals, or Gifted animals.[7]
  • Magpies - informants[3]
  • Defectors - traitors to other nations[3]

Notes and References

  1. Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 41
  2. Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 42
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 43
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 44
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 45
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 46
  7. Tortall: A Spy's Guide, pg. 47
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