BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 75

 

BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER – snippet 75:

 

 

.II.

 

Tellesberg Palace,

 

City of Tellesberg,

 

Kingdom of Charis

 

            "Is this going to meet your needs, Doctor?"

 

            Rahzhyr Mahklyn turned from the window to face Father Clyfyrd Laimhyn, King Cayleb's personal secretary. Over the years, Mahklyn had found himself facing many a priest who seemed less than . . . fully enthusiastic over the Royal College's work. Father Clyfyrd, however, seemed gratifyingly free of any reservations. Not surprisingly, probably, in someone who had been personally recommended to the king by Archbishop Maikel. Now, Laimhyn stood waiting attentively for Mahklyn to consider his question.

 

            Not that there really ought to have been that much "considering" to do, Mahklyn reflected, glancing back out the tower window. King Cayleb's Tower — built by the present monarch's great-grandfather — stood on the side of the palace farthest from the harbor. The window offered a view across the southern third or so of Tellesberg and the vista of woodland, farms, and distant mountains beyond. It was certainly far better than the view from his old office, down by the waterfront, and the tower itself offered at least half again as much floor space. True, he was going to have to climb even more stairs to reach his present vantage point, but if he cared to ascend one more flight, he would reach the tower's flat roof, open to sunlight and wind. There was already a comfortable group of wicker chairs with padded seat cushions waiting up there under a sun canopy, and Mahklyn's imagination was fully up to the task of envisioning the sinful pleasure of sitting back in one of those chairs, notepad in lap, feet propped on a convenient stool, with a cold drink at his elbow — chilled by ice harvested from those same distant mountains and stored in the icehouse buried deep under the palace — and servants available to refresh it at need.

 

            I think that's part of the problem, he thought sardonically. Somehow, "pure scholarship" isn't supposed to be quite that much fun!

 

            Actually, as he knew perfectly well, his lingering reservations owed themselves to nothing of the sort. They represented his stubborn allegiance to the principle that the College was supposed to be officially (and as visibly as possible) independent of the Crown. Which was silly of him, since the present King Cayleb had made it abundantly clear he was going to change that relationship. For that matter, in the five-days since the fiery destruction of the College's original building, Mahklyn had come to realize that the king's decision was the right one. Unfortunately, he continued to have something he could only describe as conscience pangs whenever he thought about it.

 

            Stop being such a twit and answer the man, Rahzhyr, he told himself firmly.

 

            "I think the tower will do just fine, Father," he said, returning his attention to Cayleb's secretary. "I could wish we had a little more record storage space, but that, unfortunately, isn't something we're going to have to worry about for a while, at least."

 

            He smiled, but it was an exceedingly sour smile as he once again reflected upon all of the priceless records and documents which had been destroyed. And he'd come to the conclusion that Captain Athrawes had been right from the outset about how and why that fire had been started . . . and by whom.

 

            "If you're certain, Doctor," Laimhyn said, "I'm supposed to tell you that His Majesty would like to move you, your daughter and son-in-law, and your grandchildren into the old family section of the Palace."

 

            Mahklyn opened his mouth in automatic refusal of the offer, but Laimhyn continued speaking before he could object to the size, luxury, and comfort of the proposed housing.

 

            "That section of the Palace has stood virtually unused for the better part of twenty years, Doctor. In fact, we're going to have to do a little roof repair before it will be anything His Majesty would consider truly habitable. And, while I realize you and your family may feel you're rattling around like seeds in a gourd, I assure you that you won't for long. His Majesty intends to have one of the royal bed chambers converted into a working office for you, and it's highly probable that at least two or three of your senior colleagues will also be moving in. If King Cayleb's Tower will be a suitable home for the official College, the fact that it's directly across Prince Edvarhd's Court from the old family section would undoubtedly be convenient for all of you."

 

            Mahklyn closed his mouth again. Laimhyn had placed a slight but unmistakable emphasis on his final three words, which strongly suggested to Mahklyn that they'd come from either the king himself, or from Captain Athrawes. It had the hallmarks of their despicable cunning, at any rate. He didn't know who those "senior colleagues" might be, but he had his suspicions, and at least two of them were as creaky in the joints as he'd become. Which made the convenience argument considerably harder for him to reject than it would have been if it had been only his own knees he had to worry about.

 

            Besides, Tairys will kill me if I turn down an offer like this!

 

            "Very well, Father Clyfyrd," he said finally. "Please inform His Majesty that he's exceedingly generous, but that I gratefully and gladly accept his generosity."

 

            "I'm certain His Majesty will be delighted to hear it," Laimhyn murmured, with scarcely a flicker of triumph.

 

            "Now," he continued more briskly, "about that clerical assistance. His Majesty was thinking –"

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

            "Oh, stop grousing, Father!" Tairys Kahnklyn said with an affectionate smile as she set the salad bowl down in the center of the dinner table. "You'd think the King had offered you a cell down in the dungeons!"

 

            "It's just the principle of the thing," Mahklyn objected gamely. "We're supposed to be independent and critical-minded, not bribed and subverted by promises of sinful luxury!"

 

            "Personally, I'm completely in favor of sinful luxury, myself," Aizak Kahnklyn put in as he picked up the wooden tongs and began serving the salad.

 

            Mahklyn's son-in-law was a sturdy, stocky man of average height. He had a heavy, fast-growing beard, bushy eyebrows, and powerful shoulders and upper arms, and his dark eyes looked out of cavernous sockets. People often thought that he looked as if he would have been right at home as a longshoremen down on the docks, or behind a plow on a farm somewhere. In fact, there was a sparkle of lively curiosity in those deep-set eyes, and he was one of the more intelligent and well-read men of Mahklyn's acquaintance. He and Tairys were also the College's official librarians, and if anyone had been more devastated than Mahklyn himself by the destruction of the College's records, it had to have been his daughter and his son-in-law.

 

            "Me, too. Me, too! I love sinful luxury!" Eydyth Kahnklyn, Tairys and Aizak's younger daughter announced, almost bouncing in her chair. Her twin brother, Zhoel, rolled his eyes. He did a lot of that when Eydyth's thirteen-year-old enthusiasm got the better of her. Still, Mahklyn didn't hear him raising any protest, either, and he looked at Aidryn, his oldest grandchild.

 

            "Should I assume you support your parents and your somewhat vociferous sibling in this case?" he asked her.

 

            "Grandpapa," the twenty-year-old replied with a smile, "if you really want to live and work in a drafty, creaky old tenement, with four flights of stairs to climb just to reach your office, and windows any nasty-minded person can chuck lit lanterns through, then you go right ahead. The rest of us will just have to make do here in the Palace."

 

            "Hedonists, the lot of you," Mahklyn growled.

 

            "If you really think that, then call us that without smiling, Father," Tairys said. Mahklyn ignored her challenge with the dignity appropriate to a patriarch of his advanced years. Especially since he knew perfectly well he couldn't meet it, anyway.

 

            "Has anyone discussed it with Uncle Tohmys?" Erayk asked. At seventeen, he was the second eldest of Mahklyn's grandchildren. He favored his mother more than his father, with a tall, slender build, and he was definitely the family's worrier.

 

            "My little brother can take care of himself, thank you very much, Erayk," his mother said now, with a smile. "He's been doing it for years, after all. And I'm quite sure that when he gets home, he'll be in favor of 'dropping the hook' here instead of our old spare bedroom."

 

            Most of the people around the table chuckled. Tohmys Mahklyn had never married — yet, at least; he was only thirty-six, Mahklyn reminded himself — mostly because he claimed a wife and a captain's berth didn't go together. As the master of one of Edwyrd Howsmyn's galleons, Tohmys was away from Tellesberg much more often than he was at home, however, and Mahklyn suspected that he had quite a few lady-loves scattered about the oceans of Safehold. Unlike his sister, Tohmys had never been attracted to the scholar's life. He was much too busy pursuing more . . . lively goals, and he had no objection at all to enjoying the finer things in life.

 

            "I'm afraid you're mother's right about that much, at least," Mahklyn told his grandson.

 

            "Of course he is," Aizak said cheerfully. "Aside from that peculiar taste of his for saltwater, he's one of the sanest men I know. Do you really think your uncle would turn up his nose at quarters here in the Palace, Erayk?"

 

            "Not Uncle Tohmys, that's for sure!" Eydyth put in with a huge grin.

 

            "Exactly," Aizak said as he passed Mahklyn's filled salad plate to him. "And that doesn't even consider all the other advantages," he added, just a bit more quietly as he met his father-in-law's eyes across the table.

 

            No, it doesn't, Aizak, Mahklyn agreed silently. They'll find it harder than hell to throw any lit lanterns around here, won't they?

 

            "All right," he said. "All right! I'll stop complaining, buckle down, and suffer the imposition of all this sinful luxury in noble silence."

 

About Eric Flint

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21 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 75

  1. Paul Howard says:

    Looks like we’re missing a snippet. What happened in the sea battle?

  2. I imagine they blew the galleon out of the water with their 2nd or 3rd broadsides. I think the foreshadowing is Uncle Tohmys and what he does with his galleon.

  3. John says:

    Nope, no missing snippet…..the sea battle has been paused while we discuss the background of a scholar, learn the personality traits of his family members, and find out where the college will be.

    We’ll get back to the battle later.

  4. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    we’ll hear the end of the battle. I’m predicting that Merlin and this guy will be having a chat soon. next snippet maybe

  5. James says:

    Well I wonder when we get back to the impending wedding / Empire. Could Cayleb be setting up to cede the entire palace for the college as the Empire might need a new seat? One thats not in Charis nor Chisholm? (pointed looks at hmmmmm Emerald Island might be a good place to build it….. Central to both and follows the old saw of Keep your friends close, your enemies closer…

    Take care;

    James

  6. E says:

    Probably might use the college as an excuse to renovate the palace if he decides to hold the wedding in Tellesberg. As to the strategic value of Emerald, I foresee (far, far into the series) that Emerald will be useful for a space program or orbital elevator. For now, Emerald is likely to remain closer to the Church, as is Chisholm, until the Reformation movement from Charis hits its stride… God I hope there aren’t going to be door to door evangelists…

    Maybe eventually there will be a sort of “Council of Kings” once Charis, Chisholm, and Emerald are unified, after a generation or two. Charis will probably hold the reigns so long as Caleb lives, which will be useful in future texts when the entirety of the schism war is just a few paragraphs of backstory and recollection.

    Looks like the college might have to draw a line and say “That is your half of the palace, this is ours.”
    :)

  7. Mike says:

    We may not hear the end of the battle. I recall several similar battles in Honor books with (essentially) “red shirt” crews that were described no more than this one. Later on in the book, the results of the battle were revealed as past history that happened offstage.

    It’s a pretty common dramatic device. My guess is something like 70/30 that the battle is reported in the past tense rather than that we come back to it in “real time”.

    I don’t mind being introduced to the family — I just wish that it was with something more substantial than the stereotypical Weber “Aw shucks, I’m so humble, now we’ll kid about it, OK you’ve forced me to accept my importance” dialog. That could have been Honor chatting with her relatives with only a change of the names and “pulser fire” in place of “lit lanterns”.

  8. E says:

    Hopefully this is a short passage and will be followed immediately by more pertinent and interesting situations. That, or cake.

  9. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    I like cake.

    Actually I’m betting on a slightly different area for a new palace if thats what happens. Emerald isn’t the major enemy thats nearby. Both Charis and Chisholm hate Hecktor. And that area will be without leadership once Hecktor is a head shorter

  10. E says:

    I imagine some royalty will make claims to Corisande.
    Of course, Charis could always disband the claimants to the the Corisandian throne (and, or execute them) and install a governorship.

    Nahrman of Emerald is smart enough to see the writing on the wall. He’ll probably get off light with exile and a replacement (and at worst he’ll be employed) since Caleb should know his views by proxy of Merlin and his SNARCs.

  11. Yuri says:

    Do not forget the big players. Charis,Emerald and other islands are only small fry.The big fish are contenantal countries.
    It is strange that for two years we heard nothing from them

  12. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    Not really so strang. They’re not the really that dangerous to Charis. The only interest we’ve seen from them is their realtions to the “Knights of the Temple Lands.” They’ll be important once Charis gains complete control over its portion of the world.

  13. E says:

    The “Big Players” are being moved against Charis, with the exception of Siddarmark (a move the Church might later regret, as Siddarmark can develop in relative peace once their interests are nolonger being violated by the other major powers).

    From the resource standpoint, Charis can’t numerically compete with the production capacity that large populations can provide. Qualitatively, Charis has the advantage in maximizing labor and capital but Charis would need to spread its methods to Chisholm at the very least to equalize the field. If the other nations are reasonably competent at all, then the advantage Charis earned by destroying its enemies’ fleets is not going to last forever. Once the enemies are back “on par” with Charis, through better technology or (most certainly) through greater numbers, that is when intangible assets like Charisian openness to innovation and focus on efficiency will count more for further advancements as well as better employment of advances against more rigid opponents. And the advantage of Merlin, of course.

    Charis probably has the best chance of unifying as much of the world as possible in its current era, the populations aren’t too large and the governments have just enough power and just enough history to set the stage for precedents of cooperation and unification. That, and the power of the Church represents annihilation for those nations who have no choice but to oppose her.

    One thing Merlin might want to introduce soon could be gunpowder-based rocketry. Rockets are useful in signaling, spreading incendiaries, and (with some “ancient” advances) can be upgraded beyond any capacity that the Chinese thought of.
    A basic example of rocket artillery would be the Russian Katyusha’s from WWII, where you basically line up a bunch of rockets on a cart and fire them as needed on a parabolic trajectory.

  14. Yuri says:

    Unification is not possible . Already there two main form of government on Safehold : democratic and authoritarian .Merlin said that when other countries will be forced to start innovating they won. But there are many examples from different religions when they have to adapt to new reality or be left behind. Authoritarian countries slow to start changing but can mobilize very rapidly (example: Japan ,Russia ,China) .Industrialization Does not guaranty freedom. And nobody gives up power.
    My second point : power corrupts ,when Charis becomes empire it will start to rot from inside ,it is unstoppable ,it is human nature.

  15. Paul Howard says:

    So far the “Big Powers” lack Navies that can go against Charis-Chisholm. So the delay is due to their attempt to create Navies able to go against Charis-Chisholm.

  16. Alsadius says:

    Yeah, but what are the odds that their attempts to build a navy that can beat Charisholm’s will succeed at any point in the plausible future? Maybe if you give them 10 or 20 years, but it’s not like Charisholm is sitting still here, and it’s not like all their technology is getting back to the opposing powers(even if some has). Sure, they’ll win in the long term, since they control more resources and population, but the long run is hardly the first concern of nations facing annihilation much sooner than that.

  17. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    And for the power corrupting part, I’m betting that Merlin won’t exactly be pleased with that. And if the Charisian’s continue to advance at the pace Merlin is giving them, it won’t be too long before that long term victory will start looking less certain. if one of the major powers throw their lot with Charis then already it looks better

  18. Charis, Chisholm, Emerald, Corisande, Tarot, the interesting corsair peninsula, and the barren land are a third of the land area, and more than 10% of the population of the world. Chairs is already the leading steelmaker, as witness that all the sewing implements in Zion were Charisian. Merlin may very well be able to introduce much better yielding crops, in that productivity is really not obvious from orbit. Merlin is certainly able to present at least Cayleb with a copy of Mahan’s Influence of Sea Power Upon History, and perhaps a copy of Fleet Tactics, which say in essence that Harchong et al need naval superiority against a foe with interior lines and satellite reconnaissance, when they still need to invest very heavily in armies to block each other and Siddarmark.

    If the Island League wants to start on land, taking out Dohlar is relatively attractive. On the other hand, a list of reasons why Merlin has an assault shuttle and 200 combat rifles, etc., translates as “General Kynt, I want 200 of your best volunteers, men who will not take fright when they find out that I am an archangel and are being issued holy weapons.

  19. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    holy weapons? not until much later I think. He’ll pull that out only if absolutly neccessary.

  20. E says:

    On the comment about power corrupting, remember that the safeguard against corruption here is Merlin. Merlin will be dealing with many kings in various incarnations and will serve as an immortal councilor against corruption. If you look at who Merlin picked for his whole “captains of industry” table he chose people who would get things done, not take money and run. The future problems will arise from corruption as major moneyholding switches from government to citizens, but if the right societal factors can be introduced at this stage in Charisian history, namely the kind of factors employed at the ironworks (emphasis on workers rights, etc), then the corruption can be cut off to some degree by social expectations. Merlin’s presence assures that those close to government will be directly subject to influence, and therefor he can check corruption at the top. His concern then is to keep the top in a manageable location; easy with monarchy, less so with democracy.

    As to statement 18… that “y” towarts the end there had better not be replacing a “u.”

    If Merlin wants 200 volunteers, he can can probably found his own special forces branch and maybe bring that one child-officer-whose-name-I-forget into the fray as the CO once he reaches a good age. It’s not like the kid has anything better to do…

  21. Kent says:

    If Merlin is theck against corruption, who checks him? Does he even need to be checked? He’s got his own plans for a long-term mission.

    Kent

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