"May I assume you've been giving some thought to exactly how you might mount and use artillery in the field?" he asked aloud.


            "Actually, Koryn's been thinking about it," Anvil Rock replied, and Hektor nodded. Sir Koryn Gahrvai, Anvil Rock's eldest son and heir, was also one of the earl's senior troop commanders. And despite the nepotism which had inevitably favored his career, he happened to be very good at what he did.


            "And what has Koryn come up with?"


            "A new carriage, for one thing," Anvil Rock said. "It's more like a two-wheeled cart than anything the Navy would use, but it looks to me as if it'll work. If it's built sturdily enough, at least. And I'm guessing they could be towed by two-horse teams fairly rapidly. Might work better with four horses, rather than two, of course. Or we might try it with draft dragons. They don't much care for the sound of gunfire, though. I think horses would probably be steadier. You'd need a lot more of them per gun, and their endurance would be lower, but they'd also be faster, over shorter distances."


            "I see the two of you have been thinking about it," Hektor observed. "And given the circumstances we're probably going to be facing shortly, I think you're probably right about who's going to need artillery worse. Especially if you and Koryn can work out tactics to use it effectively."


            "We've been kicking that around, too," Anvil Rock said. "Of course, anything we come up with at this point is going to be purely theoretical, you understand. Can't be any other way until we get some actual pieces to try out our notions, and even then –"


            "Look out, Your Highness!"


            Hektor's head snapped up as one of his guardsmen suddenly spurred his horse. The beast leapt forward, drawing abruptly even with Hektor's mount, and the guardsman right hand shot out. Hektor's eyes went wide as that hand literally jerked him off of his horse, yanking him up against the guardsman's breastplate even as the bodyguard simultaneously twisted himself around sideways in the saddle. The prince was reaching for his dagger in automatic self-defense when he heard — and felt — the guardsman's sudden, convulsive gasp. The iron-hard grip which had hauled him bodily out of his saddle slackened suddenly, and Hektor found himself falling untidily to the street's cobblestones. He hit hard, sending a bolt of pain through his left forearm as he landed squarely on top of a fresh, moist pile of horse manure, but he scarcely noticed either of those things. He was staring up at the guardsman who had attacked him.


            The guardsman who was slumped forward in his saddle with the two arbalest quarrels which would otherwise have struck Hector sticking out of his back. His cuirass' backplate had slowed the missiles, but they must have been fired from very short range, because they'd punched right through it.


            As Hektor watched, the guardsman started to slip sideways out of his saddle. The prince hurled himself to his feet, reaching up, grunting with effort and the fresh pain in his left arm as he caught the dead weight of the man who had just saved his life.


            He went back to his knees, holding the bodyguard, watching blood bubble from the other man's nostrils.


            "Window," the dying young man got out. "Saw them . . . in the window . . . "


            "I understand," Hektor said, bending over him. "I understand."


            "Good," the guardsman got out, and then his eyes lost focus forever.


* * * * * * * * * *


            "No sign of them, whoever they were," the Earl of Coris said harshly. "We're still tearing that whole part of the city apart, but they must have had their escape route planned well in advance."


            "Is that all you can say?" Sir Taryl Lektor demanded. The Earl of Tartarian sat beside Anvil Rock at the conference table, as if Hektor's top military advisers were closing ranks against his spymaster. Whether or not that was actually what they were doing, the shared unhappiness of Corisande's navy and army commanders was obvious, and Coris' mouth tightened.


            "What would you prefer? That I spin fancy tales to sound more efficient? We don't have a single witness who actually saw them. The only man who did see them is dead, which means we don't even have a description of them, and the arbalests were still in the room they fired from. They simply dropped them and walked away, and the room itself is part of a counting house office suite that's stood empty for months. No one saw them arrive; no one saw them fire the shots; and no one was watching for them when they left. There's no way for us to tie anyone to the weapons even if we'd had any suspects in custody!"


            "Calmly, Phylyp," Hektor said, turning back from the window where he'd stood gazing out over the harbor. His left forearm was in a plaster cast, supported by a sling, and despite his words, there was a tightness around his mouth which owed nothing to the pain of the broken arm.


            "How do you expect me to be calm about this?" Coris demanded. "They came within inches of killing you today, Hektor. Don't you understand that?"


            "Believe me, I understand it only too well." Hektor's voice was suddenly harder, colder. "And I want that guardsman's — Ahndrai's — family taken care of. He not only died to save my life, but, as you just pointed out, he was also the only man in the entire detail who even saw them. There aren't enough men like that to go around. There never are. So you see to it that his family knows I'm grateful. Knows they'll never want for anything."


            "Of course I will," Coris said more quietly.




            Hektor turned back to the window, then looked up as the chamber door opened and a tall young woman with Hektor's hair and her dead mother's hazel eyes came quickly through it.


            "Father!" The newcomer wore riding clothes. Her hair was windblown, and her eyes were dark, intent, in a worried face. "I just got back to the Palace. They just told me! Are you all right?"


            "Fine, Irys," he said, reaching out his undamaged right arm. "A broken arm, but aside from that, I'm fine, I promise."


            Princess Irys let her father's good arm settle around her shoulders, but she also leaned back against it, gazing up into his face with searching eyes. He didn't know exactly what she was looking for, but, whatever it was, she seemed to see it, and her taut shoulders relaxed at least partially.


            "Yes," she said softly. "Yes, you are."


            She put her own arms around him then, squeezing tightly, and pressed her face into his shoulder. He felt the tension flowing out of her, and pressed his lips to her hair.


            She's grown so tall, he thought. So much like her mother. Where did all the years go?


            "Better?" he asked gently after a moment, and she drew a deep breath and nodded.


            "Better," she confirmed, and released him and turned to face the other three men in the chamber.


            She knew all of them, of course. In fact, she'd spent more than a little time helping them — and her father — ponder the unpalatable situation they faced. At seventeen, Irys Daykyn was not a typical teenager, and her grasp of the problems confronting them was as good as any of Hektor's older councilors could have boasted.


            "They said it was arbalests," she said, and Hektor nodded.


            "It was. Ahndrai saw them at the last minute." His nostrils flared. "He saved my life, Irys . . . and it cost him his."


            "Oh, no," she said softly. Tears brimmed in her eyes for a moment. "He was so nice, Father."


            "Yes, he was," Hektor agreed.


            "Do we have any idea who it was?" she asked after a moment, with the air of someone who was just as happy to change the subject.


            "If you mean who actually fired the quarrels, then, no," her father admitted. "Phylyp's men have recovered the arbalests themselves, but we don't have any idea who the marksmen were." He shrugged. "As far as who might have been responsible for sending them, you're just about in time to help us start speculating."


About Eric Flint

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46 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 90

  1. John says:

    Hmm, guess we’ll have to wait until Friday before gaining any more info on these assassins.


    I should be used to it by now.

    But, in while we wait, a few guesses as to whom it might have been.

    I’m thinking the top possiblity is the GO4.

  2. John says:

    On a less somewhat less interesting note, it seems there will indeed be some field artillary when Charis attacks….unless some diplomatic measures are taken.

  3. Elim Garak says:

    I am guessing that the daughter is the one that arranged the assassination. Probably in an attempt to both gain power, and as an attempt to negotiate for peace. I think when she looked into Hector’s face, she was checking whether he knew that she was involved.

  4. Maxim says:

    I can’t imagine Merlin or Carleb behind the atack. So you could be right John, It could be GO4, my next guess would be a try for the power for some of Hecktors nobles.

  5. Alistair says:

    Is this scene “humanising” Irene and Hektor for some future purpose? If we get to see there “nice side” and the GO4 is responsible then it could pave the way for an accomodation with Chrisholm (not that the queen is going to be in any mood to forgive after losing her dad to Hektor. or as we already know Caleb)

    Also if it is the G04 Why would they take out one of there own ally’s? why supply the money to help then kill him doesn’t make sense unless they only want Hektor buiding with the galleys and old fashioned guns.

    Be interesting to see where this goes.

  6. Roger says:

    How about his son?

  7. Summercat says:

    Hektor as a counterweight to the Charisholm Empire? I don’t think he’d willingly side with Charis/Chisholm, and I don’t think that Charis would be able to conquer Corisande.

    However, I do think that Corisande is being set up to be a middle ground..

  8. Jon says:

    Could christholm be behind it, instead of GO4?
    They wouldnt be as “bound” to follow the rules as everyone else, because they have the most to gain from Hektor’s death?

  9. Jerry says:

    Can there be a middle ground in an all-out religious crusade/war like this will be?? Wouldn’t the GO4 demand 100% from everyone? Remember, if you aren’t for me, then you must be against me.

  10. Lance says:

    What was that noble’s name – Zebediah that didn’t bow willingly to Hector? My bet is here.

    Another interesting point – is that of the 3 realms (Corisande, Chisolm, and Emerald), all three rulers have been protraited in a somewhat positive light and in a far more human setting. We know virtually nothing about the ruler of Siddimark, Harchong besides possibly their names.

    The other thing is that Hector has never been protraited as a dummy. In fact, none of those three rulers has been protraited as incapable – so it might not be surprising after a battle – maybe a stalemate type of thing – that Hector ends up as part of the new empire.

  11. Peacoats says:

    As long as we’re speculating, howzabout my nominating Narhman? A dead Hektor might be a nice peace offering for Cayleb. Or of course Sharleyn mihgt have wanted Hektor’s head for a wedding present for Cayleb. Nah, my guess is that DW will stay conventional this time and that it is somebody in Corisinde who sees what’s coming and thinks that Hektor’s death is the first step in coming to some sort of accomodation with Charis.

  12. E says:

    My bet is that the conquest of these nations is something Merlin has an idea for to secure with a minimum of fighting. Charis and Chisholm will form the Empire, Emerald and Corisande will become rather peripheral members until the unification of their military and economic strength dissolves whatever cultural prejudices they have against unification. The intelligence of their rulers and the morality they display, towards their own families if no one else, reeks of the potential they have if they only knew the truth about Safehold.

  13. Wyrm says:

    Who did it?

    I can’t see it being the G04. Hektor’s tied his colours to their mast. Possibly an agent of Nahrmahn of Emerald? We know he uses assassination, and he might have thought killing Hektor a sweetener in a deal with Cayleb.

  14. Paul Howard says:

    I doubt that Nahrmahn is behind it. As for how David Weber is showing Hektor and Irys, I’ve wondered earlier if Hektor would be killed by somebody within the League and Irys has to flee only to be captured by Charis-Chisholm. She gets offered her father’s throne if she swears to join Charis-Chisholm.

  15. New Jersey Buckeye says:

    I’ve got to go with the assassin (well the one that arranged it) being Hektor’s “sweet” and highly capable daughter Irys. “He didn’t know exactly what she was looking for, but, whatever it was, she seemed to see it, and her taut shoulders relaxed at least partially.” She was looking into his eyes for any suspicion that she was behind the assasination attempt. When she didn’t detect any suspicion, she relaxed.

  16. Wyrm says:


    I really can’t see Irys being offered Hektor’s throne. Back in Chapter 7, where Merlin & Cayleb are discussing marriages, Merlin says

    “Where I think he’s wrong is in his argument that you shouldn’t hurry to commit yourself because your . . . marital availability, let’s say, is such a valuable diplomatic card. That might be true in the normal course of politics, but in this case, and completely ignoring the fact that you need to produce an heir of your own as quickly as possible,who would you marry? Hektor’s daughter Irys? She’d make a formidable Queen of Charis, and she’s probably as smart as Sharleyan, but there’s no way you’d be able to keep the poison out of your wine cup eventually. So, what about Nahrmahn’s older daughter, Princess Mahrya? She’s smart, too, although not as smart as Sharleyan or Irys, but she’s also extremely attached to her father. If he winds up getting a head or so shorter, she’s not going to forgive you for that. And, frankly, I don’t think you’re going to need a dynastic marriage to keep Emerald in line after the conquest.”

    Possibly Weber might “marry” Irys to Merlin, and then watch her go quietly crazy as poison after poison fails to affect his digestion. (I don’t think this would happen, but the idea lends itself to a humorous side story)

  17. kar says:

    Overall, I think it may be Merlin or the other earl or whatever that wants power in Corisande. Notice how they said no one saw the person at all. Easy to do if you’re a pica, but I also agree that Weber hasn’t used the protagonist characters as assasins in his works. Makes them too holier than thou if you ask me. He looses some potential character buildup by that but its his book. As for Emerald being left out, I think that would be impossible. It’s closer than Chisolm and more importantly Charisians and Emeraldians are similar. As soon as the Emerald nobles see the direction everythings going, I think they’ll be enthusiastic enough. The only problem I think will be future generations where there will probably be a power struggle between the emperor and the new parliament. Weber is probably considering a ruling body similar to Manticore in his Honorverse setting. personally, I want Hector’s head. Weber made him and Emerald’s king too much of devils in the first book to mellow them out so much in this one. Its kind of annoying. I figure Cayleb needs Emerald’s king, but Hector I guess can still be spared for the headman’s block. Of course, he could also be better used alive. Being bloodthirsty, I prefer the first option.

  18. Maxim says:

    Wyrm, I don’t think Nahrmahn is behind the assasination attempt.

    You idea of an marriage between Irys and Merlin has something. It would indeed be funny to watch Irys squirm when her poison failes.

    Kar, usually I’m more bloodthirsty than not, (as for a booksetting) but I do hope Hector will survive. I kind of liked him in the first book and till now in the second book I like the development of his charaсter though I do hope he will not be made to nice overall.

    As for a future power struggle between Emperor and new Parlament, I don’t see it coming this way, because Merlin will act behind the scenes, to advise, help and plan.

  19. Talen says:

    It was clearly Irys behind the attempt. Hektor can’t negotiate with Charis, but Irys certainly could. DW’s done it before with Haven in HHverse. Change leadership, go from bad to worse, but pretend you aren’t worse to get a cease fire to rebuild your forces… Classic DW.

  20. Wyrm says:

    Maxim, I know Nahrmahn seems unlikely, but who else? The GO4 know Hektor’s their man, We haven’t heard a word in the Charis court, and Chisholm has signed up for the Empire. Dohlar and Tarot would be more interested in blaming each other for the disaster off Armageddon reef, and why would any of the other mainland monarchs interfere at this time?

    As I see it, this leaves three possible sources for the assassin – Emerald, Zebediah and internal opposition to Hektor. We’ve been told that Hektor is a fair ruler for Corisande, so I discounted the last. And since Nahrmahn has a track record, I’m guessing it’s him. I could be wrong – Elizabeth is blaming the peeps for Mesa’s assassinations – but as I say there is a track record.

    (I could even see Merlin complimenting Irys on the food “so piquant, where do you get the spices from?”)

  21. Maxim says:

    Yes but Elizabeth has a bit of prejudice because of the two former assasinations where the peeps had been guilty.

    Well, you could say that with his assasination attempt Hector is suspect, but I still think it more likely to bet on internal opposition.

  22. Alan says:

    The G4 are less than rational and competent. They (or one of them acting in secret or a wildcard local supporter) may feel they need a real cause for their war or they may have persuaded themselves that Hektor, as the loser of the main naval battle, is somehow not one of theirs.

    It’s also just possible that Nahrmann thinks Hektor’s head would be a sweetener in his arrangements with Cayleb. The Egyptians made that mistake, trying to bribe Caesar with Pompey’s head.

    I’d discount Merlin because he is certainly bright enough to realise that getting rid of Hektor is only likely to unify Corisande and Hektor’s jeir is probably as competent as he is.

    I’d think the G4 most likely. If their assassin gets caught that may be a plot device to turn Corisande Hektor’s way.

  23. Maxim says:

    I meant Nahrmahn.


  24. Alan says:

    Ahem, to turn Corisande Cayleb’s way.

  25. Maxim says:

    But do you think this would turn Corisande Cayleb’s way? Next queen would become Irys, probably. And who knows where this might lead.

  26. Mike says:

    Seems to me the most likely culprits in real life would be somebody with a grudge. Since Hector just sent off a huge fleet, which was wiped out with lots of loss of life, the most obvious suspects in my mind would be relatives of the dead sailors.

    Next up on the suspect list would be Nahrmahn. He’s know to use such techniques, and he also has a major grudge about losing that battle, his country, and possibly his life — while Hector seems to be escaping the consequences.

  27. karidrgn says:

    Actually, my thought might be a greey nobleman possibly tied in with the son who seemed to be a person one could flatter and manipulate.

  28. Alan says:

    I’d think if Hektor captured the assassin and discovered it was a trusted emissary of the G4 or the Inquisition he could decide to re-arrange some of his foreign policy priorities. Just a tad.

  29. Mike says:

    Wasn’t there a mention of a son that wasn’t shaping up quite how Hector wanted? I think this could be a plot with him as the figurehead.

  30. karidrgn says:

    About the son – An earlier snippet had Hektor wishing Iris was a man rather than a woman as his son was behaving petulantly and was impatient to leave the destroyed ship Hektor was inspecting. As for assaination, remember what Merlin did to Dynnis in OAR. I think as a last resort, if there was a ruler who’s military leaders wanted to reach terms and he refused (something like Hitler) then Merlin might contemplate that option as a way to save the lives of people on both sides. Merlin already feels guilty for triggering the schism and the bloodshed he knows is comming.

  31. Paul Howard says:

    Wyrm, I thought Merlin’s comment about Irys was more about “her killing the man who killed her father”. My thought was more on the lines of helping Irys get revenge against the person who killed her father and putting her in charge of Corisande (as part of the new Empire). We know that she can’t inherit her father’s throne under Corisande Law (inspite of his wish that she could).

    Cayleb avenging her father’s death *and* giving her more authority than she would normally have might win her loyalty to the New Empire.

  32. Paul Howard says:

    Mike, when we met Hektor and his son in an earlier snippet, he was wishing that he could leave his throne to Irys. I think that somebody wanting to use Hektor Jr as a puppet is a possible suspect.

  33. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    I’m betting on internal problems. Think about it. the last snippet mentions the fact that they have an army because Hecktor knows the nobles aren’t all friendly. If you were in one of their shoes, consider your situation. Charis beat Hecktor once, and Charis is coming to do it again.

  34. Wyrm says:


    You appear confused. The paragraph discusses two daughters. Irys was characterised as a poisoner, while Nahrmahn’s older daughter, Princess Mahrya was the daughter who would have objected to her father’s shortening (to use Heinlein’s elegant phrase in Citizen of the galaxy).


    Good point. I hadn’t thought of Hektor Junior. However, the assassins appear extremely professional, and I wouldn’t have thought young Hektor sufficiently competent to organise anything. I’m still putting my money on Nahrmahn, though I might put a small sum on Zebediahan nobles. As there appears to be a degree of unrest in the island, then they might well believe that a Zebediahan “resistance” offering Hektor’s head to Cayleb might get them far better terms than those offered to a “loyal” Zebediahan province of Corisande.

  35. kari says:

    I think I know the answer and I’m not going to spoil it by naming names. Re-reading a section of OAR I came across a discussion between Narhman and Pine Hollow about someone who had ‘two’ men positioned to take out Hektor as a last resort.

  36. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    Ah yes I remember that. However, I don’t think they gave the orders for that. So could it be the men working alone or have the orders been sent?

  37. Paul Howard says:

    Wyrm, I took it that Nahrmahn’s older daughter would have been open about her ‘displeasure’ and Irys would have poisoned Cayleb both out of revenge & to get a throne.

    She might have a different reaction if somebody else killed her father and if she still got a throne.

  38. Summercat says:

    I’m betting the assassin is either internal… or Merlin.

    For motive, the only three nations that would want to take out Hektor are Emerald, Charis, and Chisholm. Chisholm is more than likely not going to be doing such skullduggery just yet, and Cayleb doesn’t seem the type to want to do that. That leaves Emerald, and I don’t think that Narhmahn is really thinking about such things.

    Normally, I would have discounted Merlin as well, for the same reasons I discounted Charis. However, he’s still listed as suspect due to the method of escape.

    The Go4 and other nations wouldn’t be wanting to take out their titular ‘leader’ in the area, although we may be seeing a segue into Gorjah of Tarot.

    More than likely, this is someone from inside the League of Corisande. Perhaps Zebadiah? We heard in OAR that he thought he was Hektor’s equal…

  39. E says:

    Espionage-wise Corisande is out of the loop since information can’t pass to them as easily as when they could get ships out. So a foreign assassination attempt is more probable to succeed. I’d like to see that text where the assassins poised to take out Hektor is mentioned, since I don’t wantto have to keep thumbing through OAR.

    It’s possible that Merlin could have made the attempt, but I do not think it within his personality. The only “assassination” he has performed thus far was to essentially get Erayk killed by breaking his leg and keeping him from monitoring Charis.

    What Weber seems most interested in is the formation of alliances, since this “sci-fi novel” is really a sort of fantasy for now; this series is for political buffs. Politically, I wonder what Hektor will do in light of the fact that his life is heading not only into the fast lane but also into incoming traffic.

  40. Jerry says:

    OAR pg 444 has the following: “Hahl has a man in place in Manchyr. In fact, he has two of them….”

    Given that there were two simultaneous quarrels, Merlin becomes less likely. Yes, Merlin can move 10 times as fast, but he doesn’t have 4 arms. And, having someone else along is not reasonable. Furthermore, IMHO, such an act is not in keeping with Nimue’s personality.

  41. Brom says:

    Had Cayleb wanted to have Hektor assassinated, he would have asked Merlin to shoot him, using one of the new Charis rifles, from a distance beyond what anyone from Corisande would have deemed feasible, and also send the message “You are not safe, and I can get you anytime I want” to Hektor’s successors …

  42. E says:

    At the end of all this, Charis has to come out as the good guy, so it would hardly do for them to abandon their “holier than thou” stance and start assassinating people, especially leaders who they will want to keep as friends or exploit. Politically, Charis is in the unique position of being able to merge with Chisholm, Emerald, and Corisande while at the same time being able to secure its dominance of all the countries (because of Merlin’s espionage) by being able to spot any betrayal from political figures in its planning stages. Despite the significance of Charis’ actions at this time, all this is merely the stage for other dances to take place, probably beyond Cayleb’s time but who knows, in terms of not just political/military unification but also cultural and ideological assimilation to the Charisian way.

    Something irks me about the year Merlin awoke, it has to do with the fact that by generation, and with the years on Safehold being shorter, Merlin really has only 1-2 generations (Cayleb’s son/grandson) before the millenium. If the Archangels chose to play on the psychology of humans assigning importance to dates, then the millennium of Safehold marks the perfect time for them to check in on things… and cause problems for Merlin. My second concern for this is thus: The Archangels may not have had PICAs or the idea to use them, but they did have NEATs and it’s possible that they could use a NEAT to replicate the experiences and personalities of themselves in other bodies… essentially remaking Langhornes and Bedards by replacing some victim or empty clone.

  43. Brent says:

    The goal of the assassination attempt was to put Hector’s less-than-promising heir on the throne. He would much easier to manipulate than his father. My first suspect would be the G4 or someone else in the Church.

    As for Emerald, Nahrmahn is going to have his daughter marry Cayleb’s younger brother as part of the peace settlement and then name his new son-in-law as his heir. The princedom will eventually become part of the United Kingdom of Charis and Chisholm. I couold see “Prince of Emerald” becoming an official title, just like “Prince of Wales” or “Prince of Asturias” (aka the crown prince of Spain).

  44. Jerry says:

    I’ve always thought that the comments by Pei Kau-yung to Nimue were key to future action.

    On OAR p41 “…you were the only member of what I suppose you’d have to call our ‘conspiracy’ with a last-generation PICA was what made you the only practical choice for this particular . . . mission.” Again on OAR p47, “the only last-generation PICA belonging to anyone we knew we could trust was yours…”

    These statements strongly imply to me that there were others and that they would NOT be friendly to Nimue. We’ll see….

  45. E says:

    I suppose that’s as good a plot device as any… the equal opponent.

  46. Alan says:

    Summercat, I do not discount the G4 or more likely Clintahn, at all. They’re tied into a weird theology where Hod wants them to win every time. To a religious fanatic with that mindset the only explanation for defeat is treachery. They may see Hektor as a secret betrayer, they may simply want a more pliable ruler in Corisande which is pretty clearly their only stable beachhead in this part of the world, or they may want to paint Cayleb as an assassin that rulers like Sharleyan and Nahrman cannot trust.

    I’m particularly interested that Clintahn declared himself more or less independent of the rest of the G4 the last tie we saw those charming guys talking when it comes to defending the faith.

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