BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 34

 

BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER – snippet 34:

 

 

            He sat back, and wondered if Adorai had received any of his letters. He'd considered writing to others among his onetime friends, or to the other members of his family, but decided not to. None of them had dared to emulate Cahnyr, and none of them had so much as spoken in his defense. It had scarcely come as any surprise, given the charges against him and the identity of his accuser, yet that had made his sense of abandonment hurt no less. That wasn't the reason he hadn't written to them, however. Whether they'd abandoned him or not, they were still his family, and he'd known every word of every letter he might write would be scrutinized by the Inquisition. Given the near-panic which had gripped the entire Temple since word of Charis' smashing naval victories — and even more, Staynair's letter to the Grand Vicar — had reached Zion, Clyntahn would be looking for additional victims. Searching for additional blood with which to placate his fellow vicars. Dynnys had no intention of helping him to offer up the other members of his own family simply because of some incautious word, some phrase which could be taken out of context, in a letter from him.

 

            But he did hope that at least one of his letters had reached Adorai. He doubted any of them had, whatever the Inquisitors might have promised him. After all, what promise was binding to an apostate heretic? To a man convicted — and Dynnys had been convicted long before any formal trial — of selling his protection to the very spawn of Shan-wei? Of deliberately lying to the Council of Vicars and to the Grand Inquisitor to conceal his own sins and the even greater sins being practiced by the heretics and blasphemers of his fallen archbishopric? Why should any of his letters be delivered to anyone?

 

            They'd taken all of them, though, whether to deliver, to somehow use against him, or simply to dispose of unsent. And they'd denied him any paper, except to write those letters upon. But they hadn't realized he had another source of paper. Nor had they suspected that Zhasyn Cahnyr had been more than simply a visitor. That Glacierheart's primate had very quietly volunteered to take messages from him.

 

            At first, Dynnys had suspected some sort of complex trap, organized by the Inquisition. That notion had lasted perhaps all of thirty seconds before he realized how patently absurd it was. At that point, he'd begun to worry about the deadly risk Cahnyr had offered to run for him, and he'd turned the archbishop down with a smile he hoped told the other man how unspeakably grateful he'd felt.

 

            But then, as he'd studied the Writ with newly refreshed eyes, and especially as he'd perused the sections of The Insights written by Grand Vicar Evyrahard, he'd realized it wasn't that simple. Not just a question of Cahnyr's carrying letters which might somehow serve Dynnys' own needs or ends.

 

            Evyrahard's had been a short grand vicarate, and as Dynnys pored over his brief contribution to The Insights from the perspective of his own current plight, he'd realized exactly why that had happened. Saint Evyrahard could not have been a welcome presence in the Temple's corridors of power. Clearly, he'd had no notion how "the game" was played, and, equally clearly, his efforts at reform had made him dangerous enemies in plenty. Indeed, Dynnys suspected that much of Clyntahn's hatred for the entire Wylsynn family was an almost institutional thing, going clear back to Evyrahard the Just's grand vicarate.

 

            And as he'd read Saint Evyrahard's century-old words, and remembered the clear-eyed commitment and faith of that long-dead Grand Vicar's distant grandson, Paityr, he'd recognized something he himself had never truly had. Something he wished desperately had been his. And in that recognition, he'd realized there were, indeed, two letters he needed delivered. Two letters no Inquisitor could ever be permitted to see. And so, he'd found his notepaper in the Writ itself. He couldn't believe God or the Archangel Langhorne would begrudge him its use, not given the task for which he had needed it.

 

            Cahnyr hadn't so much as flinched when Dynnys handed him the tightly folded piece of paper when they clasped hands in greeting at his next visit. Dynnys was certain he'd seen the other man's cheek muscles tighten, seen the sudden flicker of anxiety in Cahnyr's eyes, but all the archbishop had done was to slip the note unobtrusively into a cassock pocket.

 

            Despite everything else that had happened, Dynnys had no fear Cahnyr might have delivered his note to the Inquisition's hand, or betrayed his confidence. No. Here at the very end of his life, Erayk Dynnys had finally met the duties of his office, and he had prayed nightly that Zherald Ahdymsyn and Paityr Wylsynn would heed the final directives he'd sent them.

 

            It wasn't very much, not at the end of everything, after a life he'd wasted so profligately. It was simply the only thing he could have done.

 

            He folded his hands before him, leaning his forehead against them in silent prayer. He didn't know how long he sat there, praying, before the sudden, loud "clack" of his cell door's lock yanked him up out of his state of meditation.

 

            He straightened slowly, with as much dignity as he could muster, and turned to face the two upper-priests in the flame-and-sword-badged purple of the Order of Schueler. The Inquisitors wore the stark black stoles and gloves of the executioners they were, and their eyes were pitiless and cold. The half-dozen Temple Guardsmen behind them were expressionless, their faces masks for whatever they might have been feeling, but there was no doubting the satisfaction and icy hatred in the Inquisitors' stony gazes.

 

            "It is time," the senior of them told him flatly, and he nodded.

 

            "Yes, it is," he replied with a calmness which astounded him. He thought he might have seen surprise flicker in the backs of the Schuelerites' eyes, as well, and the possibility gave him a curious satisfaction.

 

            One of the guardsmen stepped forward with a heavy set of manacles. His eyes were reluctant, almost apologetic, and Dynnys looked at the senior Inquisitor.

 

            "Are those truly necessary?" he asked.

 

            The Inquisitor returned his gaze for several long, taut moments. Then, slowly, he shook his head.

 

            "Thank you," Dynnys said, and stepped forward, leaning on his cane as he took his place at the center of the hollow square of guardsmen. It wasn't exactly as if he might somehow have miraculously run away and escaped his fate simply because they hadn't chained his hands. Besides, there was the . . . agreement he'd struck with Clyntahn to be considered, wasn't there?

 

            "Shall we go, Father?" he asked, looking back at the senior Inquisitor.

 

 

About Eric Flint

Author and Editor
This entry was posted in Snippets. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.