The galleon nuzzled to a halt alongside the wharf under the ministrations of the oared tugboats. Hawsers came ashore, tightened about the waiting bollards as the crew took tension on them, and an ornate gangplank, its spotless white hand ropes gleaming in the sunlight, was maneuvered smoothly into position. The final saluting gun thudded, the gunsmoke drifted away through the sunlight, and there was a brief moment of near total silence, broken only by the sounds of sea birds, wyverns, and the voice of a young child loudly asking his mother what was happening. And then, as a slender, regal figure appeared at the top of the gangway at the entry port in the galleon's tall side, the trumpets massed behind Cayleb sounded their rich, golden fanfare of welcome.


            Sharleyan paused as the trumpets sounded, and Merlin wondered if she realized the fanfare they were playing was reserved for the royal house of Charis alone. He didn't know about that, but his enhanced vision brought her expression to within arm's reach. He saw her eyes widen slightly, saw her head rise with even more pride, saw the color in her cheeks. And then she was coming down the gangway.


            No one escorted her. Her own guardsmen hovered behind her, their faces expressionless despite an anxiety which could almost be physically touched. Thanks to the SNARC which had been keeping a protective watch over Sharleyan from the moment Gray Harbor arrived in Chisholm, Merlin knew she had specifically ordered her guard to remain aboard Doomwhale while she advanced by herself to meet her new husband and greet her new people.


            None of them had liked it, and, indeed, Captain Wyllys Gairaht, their commander, had argued against her decision until she'd told him — in a most uncharacteristic display of temper — to shut up. And she'd told Sergeant Edwyryd Seahamper, her personal armsman since childhood, the same thing, albeit a bit less forcefully.  If, she had pointed out acidly to both of her guardians, any of her proposed husband's subjects were so crazed with hate against a queen they had never even met to attempt a suicidal assassination in the face of all of the guardsmen Cayleb was going to have present, then no one would be able to protect her in the long run, whatever they did.


            Captain Gairaht and Sergeant Seahamper, clearly hadn't been concerned with "the long run." They'd been concerned with keeping her alive right now, and Merlin found himself in ungrudging sympathy with them. Despite that, Merlin knew, as the Charisians' cheers redoubled in strength and volume, that Sharleyan's instincts had not played her false. As that solitary, slender figure made its way down the gangway to greet her prospective husband's people for the first time, the symbolism of her gesture was not lost upon those people.


            She's got them in the palm of her hand, Merlin thought admiringly. And maybe the best thing about it is that she made the decision first, and got around to figuring out why only second.


            Nor was the gesture lost on Cayleb.


            "Stay here — everyone!" he half-shouted through the bedlam of cheers, whistles, and shouts.


            More than a few of the people among the designated official greeting party turned their heads as the king's command was relayed to them. One or two of those people's faces showed resentment, but most of them only blinked in astonishment as he summarily jettisoned the entire carefully choreographed ceremony which had been planned to welcome Queen Sharleyan.


            Get used to it, people, Merlin thought with sardonic delight as Cayleb stepped forward all by himself. These two are both bad enough by themselves where protocol is concerned. Wait until you see the two of them in action at the same time!


* * * * * * * * * *


            My God, he's better looking than the painting!


            The thought flared through the back of Sharleyan's brain as Cayleb advanced to the foot of the ceremonial gangway, smiling up at her, extending a powerful, muscular hand that glittered with gem-set rings. He stood tall and straight, broad-shouldered in his thigh-length linen tunic and loose cotton silk breeches. The tunic flashed back the morning sunlight from gold and silver bullion embroidery. Tiny gems flickered amidst the traditional, swirling, wave-like patterns, and his belt of intricately decorated, seashell-shaped plaques of hammered silver gleamed with near-mirror brightness.


            But it was his eyes, she truly saw. Those smiling, brown eyes that met hers not with the duty of a monarch marrying to serve his people's need, but with the genuine welcome of a young man greeting his awaited bride.


* * * * * * * * * *


            Merlin was out of his mind. She is so beautiful!


            Cayleb knew he was staring like some oafish, backwater idiot, but he couldn't help it. Despite everything Merlin had said to him, he'd dreaded this moment, in many ways. Part of it, he'd come to suspect, was that a corner of his mind couldn't dismiss the stubborn pessimism that anything this important, this crucial to his people's survival, had to be solely a thing of cold political calculation. And sacrifice.


            But the young woman reaching out her slender, fine-boned hand to him was not the stuff of calculation and sacrifice. Her black hair gleamed in the sunlight under her golden presence crown, and her huge eyes sparkled with intelligence. Her deceptively simple gown was woven of steel thistle silk, even lighter and smoother than cotton silk, and cut to an unfamiliar pattern. Charisian styles, for both men and women, favored loose-fitting, swirling garments well-suited to the equatorial climate. Sharleyan's gown was far more closely tailored, revealing a richly curved figure, despite her slenderness, and she tilted back her head as he took her fingers carefully, almost delicately, between his own and raised her hand to his lips.


            "Welcome to Charis, Your Majesty," he said as the cheers from the shore behind him redoubled yet again.


* * * * * * * * * *


            "Welcome to Charis, Your Majesty."


            Sharleyan could scarcely hear him through the tumult of voices surging all about them like some hurricane of human energy. Her own hand tightened on his, feeling the sword calluses on his fingers, the strength of his grip, and an odd sense of pleasure filled her as she realized her head didn't quite come as high as his shoulder. Earl Gray Harbor's wardrobe had prepared her for the exoticness of Charisian styles, and as she gazed at Cayleb, she realized that those loose, colorful garments were perfectly suited to his muscular figure.


            Which was undoubtedly a silly thing for her to be thinking about at this particular moment.


            "Thank you, Your Majesty," she said, raising her voice against the crowd sound. "Your people's welcome is . . . overwhelming."


            "They've awaited you eagerly ever since your letter arrived," Cayleb explained. Then his eyes softened. "As have I."


            It could have been a courtier's polite, flattering nothing. It wasn't, and Sharleyan smiled as she heard the genuine welcome, the pleasure, in his tone.


            "Your portrait didn't do you justice, Your Majesty," she replied with a devilish sparkle, and saw him color slightly. Then he laughed and shook his head.


            "If you can say that after actually seeing me, perhaps we'd better have the royal optician check your eyes!"


            His own eyes brimmed with humor, and she laughed back. Then it was her turn to shake her head.


            "Your Majesty — Cayleb — I'm sure we'll find time to know one another. For now, though, I believe your people are waiting for us."


            "No, Sharleyan," he said, stepping beside her and tucking her hand into his elbow as he turned to escort her the rest of the way down the gangway. "No, our people are waiting for us."




About Eric Flint

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33 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 93

  1. LordNecros says:

    With such a strong focus on Sharleyan’s perspective, expect her to become a major player. As much as Cayleb, quite possibly.

  2. Gil says:

    Yup, DW is having waaaaaaaaaaay toooooooo much fun!!!!! :-)

    Their marrage will be legendary, they will conqure the world, and they will have Camelot with none of the intrigue. Safehold will revear them in the end. Two people meet and fall instantly and totally in love… DW IHWTMF!!!! :-)

    Have a great day guys!!! :-)

  3. Tarl says:

    Clearly, this is the paragraph where DW shifts viewpoint to the group of four, followed by returning the viewpoint to Charis only after the wedding.


  4. Alistair says:

    Yeah a pretty good snippet no new info but alot of fun

  5. kar says:

    Damn… too much.. this is like a crazy opera setting or something. Its like Romeo and Juliet except with a happy ending.. Sheesh. Though Weber’s taste for the theatrics is well implemented. The scene itself was well made. I wonder if he’ll include brief sections of what certain individuals like her uncle and emerald’s representative are thinking while the cheering is going on. It would be interesting. Better yet, I can’t wait for Cayleb to formally introduce Merlin. “Yeah, here’s my main bodyguard…. of course he’s a few hundred years old, can lift large cannons, leap great castles in a single bound, and can turn cities into craters if he wants… yatta yatta…” lol. It’ll be interesting.

  6. RoadKillCAfe says:

    Yes he is having way to much fun!

  7. John says:

    The nice thing is, if you are a fan of Weber, you get to have way to much fun right along with him.

  8. Alistair says:

    so true

  9. Summercat says:

    I think I would enjoy seeing this scene in live action.

  10. Maxim says:

    I predict one of them will be killed later on(after they have a heir), in the war or in an assasination, else it is too happy.

  11. A. J. Nolte says:

    Not sure about that last; it doesn’t seem like his style.

  12. Summercat says:

    Neither did killing off McKeon.

  13. Alan says:

    I was mildly disappointed with this scene. It felt like Charleyan was being received as a new queen of Charis rather than as equal empress of a united realm (Charisholm?) Lots of fun at the personal level, but not so good at the level of public ceremonial and symbolism.

  14. Summercat says:

    Alan –

    That’s because they’re in Charis. She’s to be their Queen in name and in deed.

    Hopefully, it’ll be mutual when Cayleb goes to Chisholm.

  15. karidrgn says:

    I liked this scene a lot as well, I’m also concerned about the possibility that DW will kill off Sharleyan as a way to complicate the situation, but for now I’ll enjoy this.

  16. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    I doubt either of them will die too quickly. If Weber was planning on them dieing even immediantly after having an heir, then a major portion dies. We know that he has plans for these two to be good tratigizers(sp?). Haarald from the last book was the main strategy planner and he’s gone. Cayleb has assumed that role, and she could take the other half up

  17. Tabasco says:

    Could work. Cayleb as war leader and commander in chief, and Sharlyan running the home front.

    I’m not sweating her demise yet, maybe next book.

  18. kar says:

    Man.. you lot are as blood thirsty as I was blamed to be. I mean for god’s sake, they aren’t even married yet, and you’ve started talking about killing her off…. why don’t you wait until this book’s done at least before we explore that concept… sheesh.

  19. Kim says:

    Merlin might have OWL make a small independent protector, dog, cat, … that could be a SNARC and it could work independently if its threat parameters were activated. Most people ignore small pets. A vicious attack chihuahua. (or a modified treecat).

  20. kari says:

    I like the thought of a mechanical attack pet. While the image of an attack chihuahua (or my preference is a miniature pincher – think of a doberman washed in hot water) is a lot of fun, a cat has more weapons.

  21. kari says:

    OH and as for being bloodthirsty – I’m not. I want Sharleyan to live, however, I’m having a flashback to the marriage difficulties of Katherine Kurtz’ King Kelson.

  22. There is no reason to suppose that it will not be Cayleb who dies in book 3 or so, and Sharleyan who gets to handle the aftermath.

  23. Alistair says:

    yes after all he will be fighting in battles and all… not this means anything to DW if he wants to kill off the queen, lets hope they both “live long and prosper” (sorry still suffering treky withdrawals :) )

  24. Maxim says:

    I’m not sure Merlin has enough tech to produce a perfect mechanical pet. And introduce such a thing this late would not be easy from the point of view of the story. To have strong impact he’d have to develope the charakter through a lot of capitel(look at Nimitz in Honorverse).

  25. E says:

    Heavy assault hamster for the win.

  26. E says:

    For a recap on just how large the new Empire will be, here’s a map:

    Creating an artificial companion that acts just like a real one would be well within the fabrication technology for Merlin’s devices since he seems to be capable of creating smart materials for clothing. Programming can probably be done through OWL or Merlin can simply have OWL control the pet based on whatever approach seems (statistically?) appropriate to the AI. There may be bit of a problem as far as what an artificial pet would do about little things like digestion… kindof like Merlin… It would probably be better if Merlin simply replaces all their clothing with the latest in ancient anti-ballistic technology.

  27. Gil says:

    Guys, do not forget she will never get sick, never have a cold, never have cancer gratis of Merlin. And getting killed off will be very difficult for her to do with Merlin as a bodyguard, not to mention all the other advantages he will present to her. No I think DW is setting this up so they become the implacable force that purges Safehold of the Churchs corruption and returns the planet back on a path that will see them return to the stars as originaly intended. Yes a long way away but they will be the perfect symbol and inspiration to do this as God actually intended.

    DW is having way too much fun!!!! :-)

  28. karidrgn says:

    And it would be a shame if that anti-ballistic clothing wasn’t somehow put to the test. Say as a way for Caylib to be foreced to introduce Sharleyan to Merlin’s abilities Those scenes would be a lot of fun. That’s my next question – at what point does Caylib reveal to Sharleyan Charis’ biggest secret and how much does he reveal? And will he chew Merlin out for not telling him about some of the security measures?

  29. E says:

    Armored Squirrels
    Special Weasels and Tactics
    Combat Koalas
    Forward Command Kittens
    Stealth Sparrows
    Tonfa-wielding Spidermonkeys

    ….okay… got that out of my system.
    Whoever suggested robo-animal protection should be ashamed of himself for making me think of that stuff.


  30. Lance says:

    I can’t help but think the fanatic uncle is busy plotting something nefarious in his cabin – which will likely be warded off by Merlin with some super-human derring-do – in front of the new queen and 50 bazillion people…

    Making future snippets really interesting reading…

  31. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    He won’t do anything immediantly. He doesn’t want to hit her, just Cayleb. He’ll wait for the best moment possible. Then Merlin steps in and ends that little danger.

    I honestly doubt either will die soon. Cayleb has Merlin with him and she will have a palace guard

  32. callen says:

    They wont die, between a nearly invecible,(to current tech.), merlin, to nanit medicens to butloads of humen gaurds, fleet, marines, ext. its kinda an oxymoron that the only way to kill one of them would be posin sense all there good friends that could kill them with a gun like them. And as far as posin goes, I SAID NANITES!!!

    Laser welding lizards
    Mazer using monkey
    HVM using elephants (there rich, get used to it)
    Guass rifle using geraffs
    Rail gun using orangatangs
    Special Shield turtle units
    HVC using rats
    Fire bat dogs (new meaning for dog breath lol)
    Kity cat marines
    Sectret Hamster police
    palacial mice gaurds
    Royle armourd Ryno
    stealthed ninja paraket (there in the tropics)
    mechanized mad dog battalions

    (finally got that out of MY system! lol!!!)

  33. JNees says:

    Too bad we can’t have a seen, conducted in a foreign language, where the proposed bride learns her first words of her soon to be husband’s language.

    In every other aspectHenry V’s marriage seems to be the target.


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