Tellesberg Harbor,


Kingdom of Charis


            Merlin wondered if Cayleb realized he was slowly, rhythmically shifting his weight from foot to foot as he stood at dockside, surrounded by a storm of banners. Not to mention several score Royal Guardsmen, honor guards from both the Royal Charisian Navy and the Royal Charisian Marines, most of his Royal Council, the bejeweled ranks of what looked like at least half the House of Lords, a sizable delegation from the House of Commons, and every private citizen of his capital who could beg, borrow, buy, or steal a spot close enough to see the most momentous single arrival in Tellesberg in at least the past fifty years.


            As a proper bodyguard, Merlin stood impassively behind the youthful king, watching alertly for potential threats. It was, he reflected, as he listened to the harbor batteries' saluting guns pounding out their welcome in spurts of smoke, a good thing no one had yet gotten around to perfecting the sort of artillery with which Seamount was beginning to experiment. A single howitzer shell in the middle of this dockside gathering would have had catastrophic consequences for the future history of Safehold.


            Of course, he thought with a sense of profound satisfaction as the oared tugs maneuvered the stately galleon flying the royal blue banner with the silver doomwhale of Charis alongside the wharf, if the Group of Four only knew, what's actually about to land on this dock going to have even more catastrophic consequences than that for someone.


            He was hard put to avoid breaking into an enormous grin as he watched Cayleb. At this particular moment, the king's mind obviously wasn't on future political and military consequences, despite his commendable job of concentrating on those aspects of the proposed marriage when he'd presented it to Parliament. It was painfully clear that, for now, at least, those consequences had taken second place in the thoughts of a very youthful bridegroom about to meet his bride for the very first time.


* * * * * * * * * *


            Sharleyan of Chisholm commanded herself to stand still and stately on the high poop deck of her galleon. The very high poop deck, as it happened. HMS Doomwhale was, in fact, one of only four galleons her navy had possessed prior to the ill-fated campaign which had ended in Darcos Sound, and unlike the Royal Charisian Navy galleons which had escorted her to Tellesberg, Doomwhale retained both her original cumbersome sail plan and the towering height of her massive, multi-deck castles, fore and aft. Those sleek, low-slung vessels had disposed of those features in their ruthless drive to reduce topweight and improve seaworthiness and weatherliness, and that drive had obviously succeeded. Sharleyan was far from a professional seaman herself, but her captain's envy of the Charisians' handiness had been evident even to her, despite his best efforts to conceal it.


            At the moment, however, she was far less concerned with the relative merits of galleon designs than with the young man awaiting her arrival.


            I am not going to run to the rail like some sort of overeager schoolgirl. I'm a reigning queen, for God's sake! I have a queen's dignity to maintain . . . and absolutely no business having all these butterflies dancing around in my middle.


            She told herself that quite firmly.


            It didn't seem to help a great deal.


            Now stop that! You know why you made this decision, despite the opposition of people like Uncle Byrtrym. Compared to all those reasons, what does it matter what he looks like, for goodness sake?!


            She snorted mentally at the direction of her own thoughts and glanced at the young woman standing on the poop deck with her.


            Lady Mairah Lywkys was the only lady-in-waiting she'd brought along. Partly, that was because one of Sharleyan's first acts had been to reduce the number of ladies-in-waiting which would normally have been retained by a queen consort as a deliberate tactic to reduce her nobles' tendency to think of their teenaged queen as a fluttering girl in need of coddling . . . and subject to a "suitable marriage," manipulation, or removal. The same logic had applied when choosing the guest list for this voyage, and there'd never been any question as to which of her relatively short list of ladies she would choose. Mariah Lywkys wasn't simply her closest friend among the Chisholmian nobility; she was also Baron Green Mountain's niece.


            But Mairah wasn't really who was on her mind at the moment, and her mouth tightened ever so slightly as she thought about the man who should have been standing at her side.


            Mahrak Sahndyrs was the closest thing she'd had to a father since King Sailys' death. If anyone was going to be present for her wedding day, it should have been Mairah's uncle, she thought. But he couldn't be here. Nor was he the only person whose presence she was going to miss. She'd had no choice but to leave him behind, just as she'd been forced to leave Queen Mother Alahnah to function as her regent, while she sailed off to meet her bridegroom for the first time. They'd been the only two candidates whose ability and loyalty she'd been able to fully trust.


            And the fact that that was true also explained the reason she'd been forced to bring the Duke of Halbrook Hollow with her.


            She didn't really believe her uncle would have fomented rebellion against her in her absence, especially with his own sister sitting as her regent, but she couldn't quite convince herself she was positive of that. Much as she knew he loved her, she also knew that in this decision, she had pushed him too far. His faith — not simply in God, but in God's Church — would never let him approve of this marriage. Of the policy her acceptance of Cayleb's offer had made crystal clear for all the world to see. There had to be a dividing line somewhere between what the uncle's love for her could endure without active opposition and what Mother Church would demand of her faithful son despite that love, and Sharleyan had no intention of leaving him in a position which would compel him to face that decision now.


            She wished he'd been able to bring himself to join her on deck. But he'd pleaded "seasickness," despite the calm waters of Tellesberg Bay, and retired to his cabin, instead. Which was why the man who actually was standing beside her was the Earl of Gray Harbor, instead of any Chisholmian.


            She considered his profile from the corner of her eye. His pleasure at returning home was obvious, and she saw his eyes eagerly searching the colorful mob crowding the wharf. The wharf's timbers had been covered in rich, thick carpets — carpets, she realized, of Chisholmian blue, and wondered where Cayleb had found enough of them. Banners of both kingdoms popped and snapped in the breeze, and the honor guards were drawn up in perfect order. Yet Gray Harbor's expression made it obvious that he cared nothing for all of that pomp and circumstance. His eyes were looking for someone — one specific someone — and she saw them narrow as he found what he sought.


            "There, Your Majesty," he said quietly, although, given the tumultuous cheers echoing from the shore, it was unlikely anyone more than three feet away could have heard him even if he'd shouted. His right hand moved very slightly, the gesture almost more imagined than seen. "To the left of the royal standard," he added, and Sharleyan felt herself color ever so slightly as she followed his directions.


            "Was it truly that obvious, My Lord?"


            "Probably not, Your Majesty." The earl turned his head and smiled at her. "On the other hand, I have a daughter of my own."


            "I will not be a nervous maiden," she told him, putting her earlier thoughts into words, and saw Mairah's lips twitching in an almost-smile as Gray Harbor chuckled.


            "If Your Majesty will permit me to point this out, that's a little silly of you. You're still very young, you know. Older than Cayleb, true, but still young. All the world has had ample opportunity to learn that, young or not, both of you are formidable rulers. But just this once, Your Majesty, remember your throne has already robbed you of countless pleasures less nobly born young women and men are allowed to enjoy. Enjoy this one. All matters of state aside, however true all of the arguments I've used pursuing my responsibility to persuade you of the statecraft and wisdom of making this decision, I assure you that the young man waiting for you over there is a very good young man. He'll make you happy, if any man can, and I'll promise that you'll never have to doubt his honor or feel ashamed of any decision he may make."


            "God grant you're right, My Lord," she said quietly, sincerely.


            "I believe He will," he replied. "Of course, I'm prejudiced. I'd be a poor first councilor if I weren't, I suppose. But I've watched Cayleb grow up, Your Majesty. I had the privilege of knowing both his father and his mother, of seeing the sort of marriage they had . . . and taught him to desire."


            Sharleyan nodded, but her eyes were on the figure Gray Harbor had discreetly pointed out to her.


            They were still too far away for her to make out any details, but she could see he was taller than almost any of the men standing around him. Indeed, she observed with a certain satisfaction, only the black-and-gold clad guardsman standing alertly at his back seemed to be taller.


            She saw the chain Charisian custom used in place of her own presence crown glittering about his neck in gold and green fire and felt a distinct sense of relief that Cayleb had foregone court regalia. She'd expected that, but as they'd approached the harbor and she'd found herself looking for things to worry about, it had occurred to her that she might have been wrong. After all, whatever could go wrong usually did, and the last thing she needed would have been to appear underdressed beside her prospective groom. And the next worst thing would have been to appear over dressed.


            Will you stop this nattering! she scolded herself. Even if Gray Harbor's right, you're still a queen. You still have responsibilities, appearances to maintain.


            Besides, he can't possibly be as good-looking as that painting.


            Despite herself, a gurgle of laughter escaped her as she finally permitted herself to think the ridiculous thought. Of all the stupid, silly things she could be worrying about at a moment like this, that had to be the most empty-headed, fluttery, useless one of all.


            Which didn't make it go away.


            Gray Harbor glanced sideways at her when she laughed, and she shook her head with a smile. It would never do for her to explain her amusement to him. Even if he did have a daughter of his own.


            Oddly enough, the laughter seemed to have helped. Or perhaps it was simply that she'd finally allowed herself to admit that even a reigning queen could nurse at least a few romantic fantasies.


            But I bet he really isn't as cute as his painting.

About Eric Flint

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41 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 92

  1. Tim says:

    The meeting… this will definitely be an interesting week :-)

  2. Alistair says:

    well this is the snippet we have been looking forward too should be an interesting week

  3. Jeff Smith says:

    Ahh, young love…..

    …. which will doubtlessly be tragically and cruelly ripped apart in book 3

  4. Michael says:

    Well I have to wonder if the plan is to blame Cayleb for the assassination attempt in the previous chapter, what affect it will have on this budding romance.

  5. John says:

    Hmm, nothing much to comment on here.

    Although the possiblity of an attempted rebellion in Chrisholm is interesting to consider.

  6. Greg says:

    Well I have to wonder if the plan is to blame Cayleb for the assassination attempt in the previous chapter, what affect it will have on this budding romance.

    Um, cause Sharleyan to love him even more?

    You do remember who killed her father, yes?

  7. Jon says:

    so it begins…. how much longer untill this book becomes published? its getting annoying lol

  8. kari says:

    This may be one section I wind re-reading since I love 1st impressions. I hope DW gives Sharleyan’s impression of Merlin as well.

  9. jarhead says:

    This is going to have big-time repercussions,not just for the GO4 either, think of what Pine Hollow of Emerald must be thinking. Remember that he has full powers to accept any terms Cayleb might offer him. What about Hektor and Gorjah?
    For these two this news is a disaster.

  10. JNees says:

    This passage conveys nervousness very well. I am not sure what other function it serves.


  11. E says:

    It will serve as the stage for highlighting the stoic nature of rulership. Yes, both sides are nervous but they will heroically put that aside for the sake of their public, only to fall into true love at first sight…

    …E said with a voice thick like sarcastic marmite. :)

    We won’t know til Wednesday.

    Ciaossu o/

  12. JohnG2 says:

    I disagree that there is nothing to comment on here! Besides internal rebellions being hinted at, the loyalty of nobles to the church over the state is being introduced. What, pray tell, happens if Duke Hollow should find out about Merlin’s nature? Or the manuscripts, papers, and artifacts held by the Charisean monks?

    The answer, I think, is pretty obvious, and that may be part of what is being set up here as well. Queen Sharleyan may have inadvertently brought an effective church spy to Charis.

  13. Gil says:

    DW is having waaaaaaaayyyyy tooo much fun :-) I have been looking forward to this part of the book for some time. Leave it to DW to reduce the esence of thier meeting to the best part, two kids meetinf for the first time knowing all they know, been reasured by the most trusted people and yet still more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs…. I will be looking forward to all the snippets this week….It will go by quickley.

    All of you have a great day !!! :-)

  14. kar says:

    Any rebellion in Chisolm will be crushed like a worm with Merlin’s help. The only problem will be in preventing the worm from increasing its numbers. Basically, it’ll have to be an operation Clean House. I’m sure targeting the most devout chisolmians will have some success in finding traitors. More than that, I think a reform in laws and something like a Magna Carta style contract except with the common people there will give Cayleb enough popular support.

  15. karidrgn says:

    I have 2 additional comments. I hope that “if the Group of Four only knew, what’s actually about to land on this dock going to have even more catastrophic consequences than that for someone.” has been changed cause every time I read it I go ‘HUH?’ I know what DW is trying to say but when I look at it that last few words don’t make sense, but perhaps that’s just me.

    Also, with her Uncle…I hope that Merlin has Owl replace the wedding garments with the same stuff he did the Bishop’s. Or that Merlin thru his snooping is aware of the Uncles torn feelings and keeps an extra eye out.

  16. Talen says:

    This book is seeming to be more and more rushed all the time. I am starting to feel like DW is rushing us to a return to space. In fact I think this entire world is basically the part that was left out of “The Excalibur Alternative” in an independent format. I thought there was a lot of meat skipped over in that book as well, but don’t get me wrong I still like it. I am guessing that within 3 more books we’ll be skipping ahead to the Safehold 1st Expeditionary Fleet ganking evil alien scum left and right.

    I am torn… I much prefer the indepth detail of the Hell’s Gate series, but I also want some Space Opera Fleet gankage ala this, or Honorverse, or Empire of Man, or best of all some Dahakness… Can we just clone DW now? Or maybe get him to do use someone like Doc Travis to further some of his many story arcs…

  17. Wyrm says:

    The third paragraph, stating “stately galleon flying the royal blue banner with the silver doomwhale of Charis” appears to contain an error.

    Since we are told the galleon is a Chisholmian galleon, that the Galleon is HMS Doomwhale, and the carpets are “Chisholmian blue” I believe that this is an error that’s got through the proofreaders.

    If anyone has contacts with David Weber, please can they check this with him. I believe it should read “stately galleon flying the royal blue banner with the silver doomwhale of Chisholm”

  18. Wyrm says:

    While Pine Hollow, sitting in his suite (which faces away from the harbour) asks the guards “what’s happening”? They smile, and say nothing …

  19. Jerry says:

    Will the Temple Loyalists make an appearance now? Will route go past any “taller” buildings? They have to have heard what is going on given the number of “people” in the House of Parliament at Cayleb’s announcement. And, they’ve been quiet since early July.

  20. E says:

    DW is a million years old. I’d rather have a set of good novels while he falls victim to Robert Jordan syndrome than a collection of rushed, holey, and frustratingly bland works.

    On that note, should DW clock out, who do you think could fill his place?

  21. kar says:

    I wonder how she’ll react to merlin’s presence. I mean her reaction was just a guardsman. I can’t wait to see her reaction to what Merlin really is, leaving out the little fact that he was initially a woman. Man… talk about a very weird conversation that’s gonna be… and concluding that by saying, “OH yeah… by the way, everything you’ve been taught about church and our world is wrong.. yatta yatta yatta… Oh yeah, I forgot to mention there are creatures… not demons mind you but close enough considering that they nearly wiped out our race once before… who are still out there waiting to kill us all.. yatta yatta yatta.. yeah so basically that’s the situation… so what do want to do for our honeymoon”… lol… Now that will be funny.

  22. Summercat says:

    Let me put it this way:

    I’ve not seen a worse set of novels than the ones out of Travis Taylor and John Ringo. Tom Kratman can write well, I’ll grant – but the end to ‘A State of Disobediance’ with the Libertarian wet-dream of Constitutional Amendments decided that I would not purchase the book. I could only enjoy it if I ignored anything resembling modern politics.

    If you want crap, go back to the farce of a ‘writer’ that is John Ringo. I don’t want to denegrate the title ‘author’ by ever refering to him in such a manner. Do not suggest to me that David Weber’s stuff would be improved by working with that… that… that thing that I don’t want to use any stronger words than I’ve already used but only stronger words exist for him.

  23. E says:

    I’m pretty sure that I’m advocating for DW to continue to flesh out his novels, that period was better replaced with a “but”. I do not want him to rush into something, and especially not something like Ringo. “Robert Jordan syndrome” in this case being the death of the author of a really good series before its completion; along with the passing of that torch to another good author (RJ passed the Wheel of Time series to Brian Sanderson). I apologize if I was not clear enough in that regard.

  24. E says:

    Honeymoon in Corisande!

  25. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    lol lets hope so.

    Now, I highly doubt that a rebellion will happen in Chisholm, at least not yet. She brought the most potential leader of said rebellion with her. That leaves assasination here, or, even better, the loyalists meeting our potential turncoat and working with him to force Merlin to kill some more people.

  26. If memory serves, Charleyn is the first truly brilliant woman to interact with Merlin. The first question is whether Nimue is adequately good at pretending to be a man, or whether like Huck Finn and someone I forget it will become apparent to astute observer Charleyn that all is not quite what it appears, even if she cannot figure out how Nimue’s beard can be a fake.

  27. Summercat says:

    E –

    I cannot overstate my disgust of John Ringo, Travis Taylor, and Tom Kratman. I stopped even giving Ringo’s crap a chance after I read the afterword in Yellow Eyes. I now specifically mention him by name, along with L Ron Hubbard, as an author to avoid.

    Travis Taylor and Tom Kratman aren’t quite in the same league, but I certainly will never recommend their works. Ever.

  28. E says:

    Isn’t Hubbard the gay guy who founded that Tom Cruise religion?
    I’d have asked if I hadn’t just wikipedia’d it.

    Charleyn might be the first woman Merlin will interact with to any significant degree since he awoke… He’ll certainly be able to give Cayleb insight. I’m wondering how the “co-equal union of two monarchs” thing will play out in the patriarchal society that is Safehold. Certainly Charis’ middle and low classes are considered “uppity” in comparison to the rest of the world, but once their women stop conforming to the norms of the rest of the world there maybe some additional demonization on the Church end.

  29. Daryl says:

    I don’t think that the coequal rulers will cause too much of a problem, as we have had successfull female rulers of patriachial societies here. Queen Elizabeth 1, Maggie Thatcher, Benazhir Bhutto (not a perfect example I admit), Queen Victoria, one of the Pharaohs, and others. Like to see a collaboration of DW and SM Stirling though.

  30. Maxim says:

    Yes this I would like to see (a collaboration of David Weber und SM Stirling)

  31. Maxim says:

    Though I didn’t like the later half of the Draka series of Stirling. But his Island in the sea of time was very good.

  32. peacoats says:

    I liked the “Islands in the stream of time”” series by Stirling, as well as “The Peshawar Lancers”. He and DW might well be a very good combination.
    I’m not a big John Ringo fan, but I enjoyed his collaboration with DW in the “Prince Roger” series. The last of that series (“We Few”) seemed the weakest, but there is still plenty of room for that series to go on should the authors choose to do so. I for one hope they do, although between the various Honorverse books, the Safehold series and the Hell’s Gate series I doubt DW will have the time to do so.

  33. kar says:

    Ringo’s direction of story telling I think has changed big time. His original works in the Posleen setting were well developed. I’m even enjoying his Into the Looking Glass series. However, I think the latter half of his Posleen books, there will be dragons series, and the Chooser of the Slain series has started to reek. Most of the writing seems to be nothing more than sexual exploits, which makes it hard to read with any appreciation as Science Fiction. I found myself wondering why he doesn’t just start writing erotic novels and get out of writing science fiction. I mean some of it is ok in a novel, but when at least a 1/3 of it deals with that topic alone with another 1/3 referencing it, I think the author has lost touch somewhere. I’m sure there are a good number of people who’ll disagree with me on this, but that is my opinion. I liked weber’s earlier works especially Path of the Fury, not In Fury Born by the way. I wish he would do a few stand alone novels that aren’t part of his existing universes. Other than that, I think Drake is probably my favorite overall. His Belisarius series I think pulls together complex storytelling, overarching plots, character development, and a sense of contentment by the end. Kratman, I think is crazy, but he did a good job on Carnifex and its predecessor.

  34. Tabasco says:

    Maybe I’m old fashioned that way, but I think it’s in incredibly bad taste to badmouth not one but several authors on a commentary page devoted to yet another author’s work.

    Can we -please- stay on topic here?

  35. E says:

    He could be compensating for something.

  36. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    If its any comfort Tabasco, I agree with you.

  37. Brom says:

    I also agree with Tabasco. While every reader has the right to hold his/her own opinion of various authors, Eric is allowing us space on his webpage to comment on the snippets being posted, even including comparisons to the works of different authors. However, a posting of a reader’s opinion of other authors’ prose, especially without any reference to the current snippet or author under discussion, is abusing our guest privileges. Aside from being poor manners, I would hate to have Eric feel the need to terminate our ability to comment, or worse, future snippets.


  38. Lance says:

    Agreed on the commenting. And I would go so far to say it’s more a matter of “style” than a person being a truly bad author. I have my favorites that I’ll be any book, totally unknown, without hesitation. There are other authors I have to sample their work a little bit before purchasing.

  39. Alistair says:

    To get back on topic I like how the queen is following the saying “keep your friends close but your enemies closer”

  40. Jerry says:

    It may have been stated before, but Cayleb’s personality and Merlin’s encouragement about wedding Charleyn has to lead to any early full disclosure. That should be a rich scene.

  41. callen says:

    as nervious as a virgin on her weding night, and there havnt even said anythin to each other yet heh heh heh.

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