Nahrmahn's astonishment had gone far beyond mere shock as Wave Thunder calmly closed the folder once again.


            "As you can see, Your Highness," he said, "for us to have obtained this information through any avenue with which you may be familiar, both Earl Pine Hollow and Baron Shandyr would have to have been agents of Charis. Which, I assure you — and I'm quite sure you already knew it to be the truth — neither of them would have dreamed of becoming."


            "I . . . ."


            Nahrmahn's voice trailed off, and he shook himself. Then he cleared his throat and sat back in his chair, gazing intently into Wave Thunder's eyes.


            "I certainly wouldn't have believed either of them would have betrayed me," he said last. "On the other hand, I can't see any other way for you to have learned the details of two separate private conversations."


            "Your Highness, I allowed you to pick the day," Wave Thunder pointed out. "If you would care to pick another day — as, for instance, the following Friday, when you had a private conversation with Commodore Zhaztro, or perhaps Monday, when Bishop Executor Wyllys met with you to 'discuss' your suggestion that 'Mother Church's messengers creep about, like poachers or smugglers, from one wretched little rathole to another' — I'm quite prepared to share the summaries of those other days with you, as well."


            "But how –?"


            Nahrmahn chopped the question off. He stared at Wave Thunder for several more seconds, then inhaled deeply.


            "I begin to understand what you meant about 'needing to know,' My Lord. Understanding it will make my curiosity burn no less brightly, but I'm not about to ask you to compromise your access to information that detailed. And please believe me when I tell you that the realization that you and the Emperor have access to it should quite neatly depress any temptation on my part to even contemplate betraying my oath of fealty to him. After all," the Emeraldian prince showed his teeth briefly, "it's extraordinarily difficult to concoct an effective plot without even talking to your fellow conspirators!"


            "I must confess I'm relieved to hear that, Your Highness. And if I'm going to be totally honest, that was, in fact, one of the conclusions both His Majesty and I hoped you would reach. Nonetheless, I was also completely honest when I said we would all appreciate any insight into this information which you might be able to help us to gain."


            "I'll be delighted to help in any way I can," Nahrmahn assured him.


            "I'm glad. Ah, there is one other minor point I need to touch upon, however, Your Highness."


            "Which would be what, Baron?"


            "His Majesty is aware that you and Baron Shandyr did, in fact, order Hektor's assassination," Wave Thunder said rather delicately. "Now, in the normal course of things, the Emperor would shed no tears if Hektor were to . . . suffer a fatal accident, shall we say? And, to be honest, it would seem a most appropriate fate for someone like Hektor. Unfortunately, we believe any attempt upon Hektor's life would have no more than an even chance of success, at best. And, more to the point, perhaps, there's no doubt in our minds as to who the Corisandians will blame for any such attempt at this time. While we cherish no illusions about the opinions already held in Corisande where Charis is concerned, we're deeply concerned about the propaganda value the Group of Four might be able to extract from such an attempt. In fact, in many ways, Hektor's assassination — especially if it could be reasonably charged that Charis was responsible — would be more valuable to the Group of Four than Hektor himself, alive, is. With his navy neutralized, and his realm open to invasion whenever we choose to strike, he's scarcely a military asset any longer, nor is there any way the 'Knights of the Temple Lands' could come to his assistance, even if they wished to. So, since he no longer has value as a living ally, someone like Chancellor Trynair, at the very least, would be quick to recognize his greater value as a dead martyr, treacherously slain by murderous Charisian assassins."


            Nahrmahn considered that, then nodded.


            "I can see your point, My Lord," he acknowledged, not even attempting to pretend he hadn't given exactly the instructions Wave Thunder had said he had. "At the time, for obvious reasons, I was less concerned about how Hektor's demise might affect Charis than I was about how a sudden power vacuum in Corisande might have attracted Charisian attention there and away from me. Obviously, that portion of my calculations requires some rethinking under the new arrangement."


            "Oh, indeed it does, Your Highness," Wave Thunder agreed with a smile. "And your comment about 'rethinking' brings me to my final point for this meeting. You see, Prince Nahrmahn, Emperor Cayleb doesn't believe you'll find it possible to stop scheming and plotting. Oh," the Charisian raised one hand and waved it back and forth, like a man brushing away an irritating fly, "that doesn't mean he suspects you of some fell intent to betray the oath you just swore. It simply means you are who you are, Your Highness, and this is the way your mind works. More than that, you're very good at it — much better than Hektor even begins to suspect — and it would be foolish of His Majesty to allow such a sharp and serviceable sword to rust into uselessness through disuse. Which is why he has a proposal he would like you to consider."


            "What sort of proposal, My Lord?" Nahrmahn asked, his eyes narrowed in speculation.


            "His Majesty, with Her Majesty's concurrence, wishes for me to remain here, in my existing post as the Kingdom of Charis' senior spy. It makes particularly good sense in light of the fact that I'm also the man in charge of our domestic security and investigations. Given the potential for internal unrest which the schism with the Church creates, this is scarcely the time for me to be taking my finger off of that particular pulse.


            "By the same token, they wish for Baron Shandyr to retain his post in Emerald, and Sir Ahlber Zhustyn to do the same thing in Chisholm. That, however, leaves a glaring vacancy which they're considering calling upon you to fill."


            "You can't be serious, My Lord," Nahrmahn said. Wave Thunder cocked his head, raising one eyebrow, and Nahrmahn shook his head. "It's been less than three days since I swore fealty to Cayleb, and less than three years since I attempted to have him assassinated. Whatever else he may be, Cayleb is neither an idiot nor a fool!"


            "You're absolutely right, he isn't," Wave Thunder agreed. "Nonetheless, he and Empress Sharleyan propose precisely what you were thinking about. The Empire will require an imperial spymaster, and you, Your Highness, have both the aptitude and the rank and authority to fill that post admirably."


            "But only if Cayleb can trust me!" Nahrmahn protested.


            "First, His Majesty wouldn't have offered you the terms he offered you if he'd felt you'd be likely to betray him. You've just seen the sort of information upon which he based that assessment, and I assure you it wasn't a judgment which was arrived at lightly. Second, do you truly believe, given what you've just learned, that he would be unaware of any actions on your part if you should succumb to the temptation to plot against him? And, third, Your Highness, Emperor Cayleb and Empress Sharleyan — and I, for what it matters — believe you truly mean the things you've said about the Group of Four, Mother Church's corruption, and the inevitable consequences of the events Clyntahn and Trynair have set in motion. In short, we believe you have no reasonable motive to betray any trust the Crown might place in you, and every reason to support the Crown against Clyntahn and his cronies. You may rest assured that neither the Emperor nor the Empress is so foolish as to forget to . . . keep an eye on you until they're certain their judgment is accurate, of course. But as the Emperor pointed out, after so many years of 'playing the great game,' as I believe you've put it upon occasion, it's foolish to think you'll somehow be able to magically stop, however genuine your resolve to do so might be. That being the case, he prefers to channel your natural bent into a useful occupation, rather than letting it tempt you into some sort of . . .  mischief, instead."


            "'Mischief,' is it?" Nahrmahn repeated with a snort, and Wave Thunder shrugged.


            "Actually, Your Highness, I believe his exact words to the Empress were, 'We're never going to be able to shut that man's brain off, whatever we do. So, the way I see it, either we find a way to make it work for us, or else we disconnect it — and the head it lives in — from the rest of his body. And that's so messy.'"


            Despite himself, Nahrmahn sputtered with laughter. He could just see Cayleb saying exactly that, even picture the glint in the emperor's brown eyes.


            And the fact is, he's got a point. I really do intend to behave myself, but even I'm not positive I'll be able to manage that. Yet even so


            "My Lord," he said frankly, "I'm not at all certain His Majesty isn't making a very serious mistake here. And whatever I may think about it, I strongly suspect that certain of his own nobles aren't going to be any too enthralled by the notion of suddenly finding me in such a critical post. Despite all that, though, I have to confess I'm . . . intrigued by the possibility."


            "I realize it's come at you as something of a surprise," Wave Thunder said with generous understatement. "Obviously it's something you're going to have to think about, and His Majesty realizes that. In fact, he recommends you discuss it with your wife. He and the Empress have a lively respect for her intelligence, and she undoubtedly knows you better than anyone else in the world. Including, if you'll forgive me for pointing this out, yourself. See what she thinks about it before you give the Emperor your answer."


            "Now that, My Lord," Nahrmahn Baytz said with total sincerity, "sounds like a very good idea, indeed."






About Eric Flint

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28 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 123

  1. Maria says:

    Wrong on =both= accounts. I’m really on a roll, here. Nahrmahn has nerves of steel, apparently. If I came from a world without any electronic survelance, this whole scene would have seriously freaked me out. I’m glad he’s on board. He’s going to be a major asset. At least I was right about =that=.

  2. kari says:

    Ah Machievelli has arrived! And it solves so many things. You get his services, cement his loyalty, ensure that the success of your plans is in his best interest and keep him too busy plotting against your enemies to plot against you.

    And you let him know that his wife’s opinions are valued as well which improves things all around.

  3. Blackmane says:

    Eight. More. Days.
    On a side note, it might be interesting to see what Norman has to say about the incredibly accurate information from all over the globe that never seems to include Zion.

  4. kari says:

    With how intellegent Narhman is being made out to be and how close to the top he will be, it won’t be long before he notices Merlin is more than a bodyguard.

  5. Maxim says:

    Blackmane, you I think you bring an important point up. An intellegent person like Nahrmann with his background, with no concept of technology, almost has to think of possibility that Zion is protected by God if he sees, that such information never comes from Zion. This could lead to a dangerous conclusion, that God is on the side of Zion. This posts, too, a danger to an possible explanation of the information sorce as a work of Merlin. Kari you are right that if won’t be long before Nahrmann sees that Merlin is much more than a bodyguard and in such a case he will have at least to consider the possibility that Merlins powers are withcraft.
    As I see it Nahrmann will have to be fully informed before long.

  6. laclongquan says:

    A two-bladed sword is what Charis attempt to wield in Nahrmahn. Other than reasons stated above, he’s also a contact with Group of Four and the CHurch for a long time. So now maybe he can help them build contact, buy informant and generally digging into the Council that is oh so opaque before.

    Yep, I think Merlin will be glad with Nahrmahn’s assistance.

  7. JNees says:


    There is a simple explanation that would make sense to him. Tell him a large part of the truth, ie that the temple itself has defenses against this type of intel gathering. More likely he will notice that the information flows from structured clusters and wonder about the source of the structure.


  8. Gil says:

    Well, well, well…. I do believe the good Prince has found his calling…. :-)

    Eight more days….

    Have a great day everybody!!! :-)

  9. Of course, most of the world is not covered, there is a great deal of information from Zion, just not inside the Temple, and Nahrmann can be told that the spies are not all-seeing, and unfortunately Clyntahn was slightly luckier than Nahrman.

    However, at some point he may need to know more.

  10. Chuck says:

    As Nahrmann pointed out, source and reliability of information are the key to analysis. He HAS to know which info comes from “source A” and is highly reliable and which comes from more mundane sources, which will make the “hole” around Zion even more obvious.Somehow I don’t see Nahrmann as the type to even consider spiritual intervention in the real world. He may even be able to reason his way to the truth, or something close thereto, from the bits and pieces!

  11. Mike says:

    The idea that he would think the temple is somehow spiritually protected is completely counter to his character as portrayed. He’s not the type to believe in magic or divine intervention. He’s the type to believe that if something looks like magic, it must have an awfully clever innovation behind it.

    He’s much more likely to deduce something like the truth than he is to deduce that it is a demonic or angelic mystery.

  12. Jerry says:

    I concur with the last as I sense that Narhmahn is sharper than Cayleb and thus will deduce some of the truth after a few months of input. However, with only about 15-20% left of BSRA, anything further will likely be in BHD. And, my guess is that they’ll have to tell the Queen before their new spymaster since her responsibility is significantly greater and full disclosure is more critical for her.

  13. Maggie says:

    Hum, perhaps less a Machiavelli (DW has gone out of his way to stress Nahrmahn’s core of basic personal integrity) than a Mycroft Holmes. I’m still of the opinion that N is more likely so see the Temple as a target for future penetration rather than supernaturally impenetrable. From what we’ve seen so far he is a man who puts his dear, pudgy little paws to what he finds around him.

  14. MarkR says:

    He’ll notice that the only place the information doesn’t come from is the Temple itself, and might conclude that the Temple is special in more ways than just staying nice and shiny through the centuries.

  15. karidrgn says:

    Well, Merlin better start creating his reports with different handwriting ‘fonts’ or it will be one giant clue. N. may guess at the source anyways once someone refers to Merlin as a seijin. Then Nahrman only needs to remember that some seijin supposedly have visions for him to begin to wonder about Merlin.

    While he won’t actively ask who or how that won’t stop him from trying to dig just to satisfy his curiosity.

    And wouldn’t any spy master worth his salt not rely on others reports that someone is ‘clean’ but investigate himself? Especially when 1st on the job?

  16. hank says:

    “…once someone refers to Merlin as a siejin.” No once about it: “Some of the wilder tales insist he’s some sort of siejin, probably with a magic sword to boot.” OAR pg 110 (SFBC ed.) Shandyr to Nahrmahn, reporting on the failure of the assination attempt on Cayleb. Sorry, it’s the pedant in me.

  17. Mike says:

    And see? He wasn’t impressed, was he? Both men are completely dismissing the idea that some sort of mysticism or magic might be involved.

  18. E says:

    “The Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ Theory Of Socio-Economic Injustice” is what’s going to win this war in the long run. Frankly, the intelligence capabilities and navies of Charis’ enemies are going to be “cheap” (in terms of a |Use : Availability| ratio for resources), readily available (even with delayed shipping)… and easily disposed of. That Charis is building for the long run in almost every aspect is something that will pay dividends beyond the Church’s assessment of what a “backwater” like Charis can produce.

    Quality beats quantity (except where you don’t have enough quality) and with Nahrman’s ability to scheme there’s going to be some major out-of-empire failures as far as enemy intelligence goes. Maybe if Nahrman is good enough, he can con the King of Tarot out of his throne.

    I’m not worried about Nahrman assuming mysticism and magic… Merlin can always play the Seijin card… and if that fails, Merlin can pull a razzle-dazzle with the recon skimmer and claim Angel status if Nahrman isn’t going to be trusted with the Truth… wouldn’t make me happy if Nahrman isn’t told, but that’s just me.

    At some point, a new generation is going to have to take charge… my thoughts are somewhat disturbed by the calendar of the books; this close to the millenium, and with fewer Angels left after the Alexandrian Schism, a millennial check-in sounds like the kind of thing which under-staffed megalomaniacs might pull (thinking of Crowley and Azaraphael atm…). Given the rather short span of time which the books occupy, I’d bet money on an awakening of Angels; it’d easily handle the aspect of the KE System control (the angels don’t trust the church with it but will verify the need for it.) and would give the Church the capability to further contest Charis in the same way that Merlin has granted Charis. To elaborate, the Angels could grant the Church similar technology and have back in the fight, if they decide not to obliterate 1/3rd of the planet’s surface that is.

    Nahrman as an asset right now also grants one thing that Charis might not be able to accomplish on their own: Infiltration of the Temple of God in Zion. So long as the Church believes Emerald to still be independent, Nahrman can deploy spies in Zion. Perhaps Merlin can make some passive recorders that won’t be detected by the Church’s mysterious power sources; he’d have to rely on the spies getting in and out of the Church (enter church for recording -> leave for transmitting) and watch for them as well. So far as I can remember from every documentary on spy technology I’ve seen, passive sensors are virtually undetectable unless they are transmitting, and impossible to find if no one knows what to look for.

  19. Ron says:

    Has most of the new book been published here already?

  20. Nahrman understands the alternative way to penetrate the Temple (Zion can be entered), namely bribery. Merlin appears–since it did not exist as an option in her world–not to recognize the significance of human intelligence methods other than for domestic security.

  21. karidrgn says:

    Yeah I was wondering about old fashioned cameras at least that could take some shots of the interior of the temple to see what high tech Merlin might be able to spot. At least enough that he could tell a 2nd person to ‘examine this closer’ and describe it to me.

    I know that Merlin has been helping the college, but what about elementary education? Start teaching people critical thinking and logic and how to investigate how things work and becoming curious.

    One thing also would be to get people interested in astronomy. Might be tough to do as everyone ‘knows’ everything about the universe thanks to the writ and looking for yourself might be considered blasphemy.

  22. Jerry says:

    Ron, this snippet puts us just about 80% thru the text if pages are same size as the HB OAR. That is making a guess about the size of the appendices at the end of the book. I’ve been capturing text here and counting lines of the same length.

    Re cameras.. have they been “discovered” yet? Or just how much of a leap would that be?

    Re Emerald and GO4.. I would expect that the GO4 will know very soon about either Charis and/or Emerald joining with Cayleb. Even though the point was made that most of the lower priests are local, the higher priests are not and most of those would be loyalists and not members of the Brethren. Many 5-days have passed since Sharleyan announced her intention to wed and Nahrmahn has been gone a few. I can’t believe that the news has not “leaked” somehow.

  23. Gil says:

    My book is here!!!! Yea Team!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-) :-)

  24. E says:

    Passive recorders could be audio recording equipment too. If Merlin can get one of the Go4 outside, he can replace some item they constantly wear… a ring or something.. with a passive audio recording device and listen in on their conversations that way. He could just activate it before the Go4 member enters the Temple and have it transmit whenever the Go4 member leaves the Temple.
    Merlin wouldn’t have the advantage of immediacy, but he’d gain a lot of time in finding out what the Go4 is doing and saying.

    Cameras would not be too big of a leap. They’ve been around since the 1600s I think, in the bulky, box-and-cloth cover variety. Charis has 18th century ships and plumbing, 16th century science (no method yet), the beginnings of optics research, and a boom in explosives research on the way. Not sure how much help Merlin is going to provide as far as less important items like cameras are involved, but I can see him pointing out a few things that might get the Leonardo da Vincis rolling.

    While we’re on the ball, I have no doubts that Merlin will encourage the Empire to use women in factories as part of the social push against conventions that can hold back the progress of mankind’s return to space. With the employment vacuum left by the new child labor laws, women would be an ideal pool of labor for schools, factories, and other service industries if the demands of war cause Charis to initiate a draft.

    I wonder if Charis will become America in the sense that refugees from other nations will flee to Charis in order to escape their homeland troubles. The east side of Charis certainly needs developing.

  25. karidrgn says:

    One thing holding back is an apparant mental set against curiosity – witness the conversation a long while back between 2 people where one says something about “I find myself wondering WHY this metal reacts this way when I do this to it and it makes me nervous about how my thinking has changed” or something to that effect.

    This means that chemistry – a key component of our civiliztion is lacking. If I remember correctly, there hadn’t been a big advance on basic gunpowder mixes for a long time until Merlin showed up.

    Then it’s only been just over 2 Safeholdian years since Merlin re-introduced arabic math. Got a lot to go on that one.

  26. Jerry says:

    Although the concepts of the camera date back to the Greeks, the first photographic image was made in 1814 using a Camera Obscura taking hours. The first daguerreotype was 1837 and needed almost 30 minutes of exposure. Thus useful cameras were a 19th century development. As mentioned, there is no chemistry, so work with silver nitrate is unlikely.

    A question for the future… is Safehold cotton cellulose? If so, and if nitric and sulfuric acids exist in strong enough form, then Merlin could introduce guncotton. I’m not sure there is any value to this as there are much more important things to introduce.

  27. E says:

    There wasn’t a big advance in gunpowder mixes if you recall OAR. Merlin just took some charcoal out and showed them the optimal mix, which they were close to. The next advance is for smokeless powder, but thus far Merlin has yet to show that particular formula. Funnily enough, the nitrocellulose used in smokeless gunpowder is also useful in cosmetics (I got that from Mythbusters, I think).

    I think that if Merlin were to introduce the relatively easy to produce napalm formula (kids! you can make this at home with gasoline and styrofoam) then the disadvantage of bringing wooden vessels against Charis can be highlighted… not that it hasn’t been bold typed, capitalized, italicized, double-underlined, and embossed already…

    4 more days!

  28. _Arthur says:

    Nitrocellulose tends to become unstable is stored for long periods, say, 1 year.
    Both the French and the British Navy lost ships, attributed it to guncotton instability.

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