Merchant and Shannon are the owners of a steam ship line and a coal company and other things in Senta and the Steel Dragon. Hence they are at work in the background of the story, though the appear in The Drache Girl. Their names come from Moet and Chandon Champagne (like in the Queen song).
Two men dressed in expensive evening suits entered the lounge and made their way across the room to stand next to the former naval officer. Both were in their late fifties, the first with thinning grey hair and a thick black mustache. The second man was clean shaven, with jowls that shook when he talked, and had a thick pile of white hair.
“Two glasses of fortified white,” the first man ordered from the bartender. Then he turned back to his companion. “I’m telling you now Shannon, you won’t be sorry you came and you won’t be sorry we brought our crew with us. There’s no time to waste.”
“I know,” said the jowly man. “I just hate traveling in Hamonth. It’s bad luck, you know.”
“No. It’s bad luck to start a journey in Hamonth. We’re already at sea. Did you ever hear that it was bad luck to start a journey in Kafirius?”
“Well, there you go. If anything, it’s good luck. We’ve got to move quickly too, you know. The latest report is that the railroad will reach Port Dechantagne by the end of Festuary.”
“Yes. Say,” the first man tapped Staff on the shoulder. “Don’t I know you?”
“I don’t think so,” replied Staff, keeping his eyes on the piano player.
“But you’re a navy man, right? An officer?”
“Did you serve in Birmisia?”
“Excellent. Allow me to make an introduction. I’m Alastair Merchant, and this is my partner Wendell P. Shannon.”
“Merchant and Shannon,” said Staff, turning to shake hands. “Like the shipping lines.”
“The very same.”
“Radley Staff, late a commander in His Majesty’s Royal Navy.”
“A pleasure to meet you. We’re on our way to Birmisia to conduct a little business and we could use a man who knows the lay of the land. Somebody who’s been there, knows how things are done. Say, I’ll bet you even know the royal governor.”
“Fantastic,” Merchant turned to Shannon. “It looks like fortune has smiled on us again.”