Rayno’s tone was merely politely inquisitive, and Clyntahn snorted a grunting laugh as the adjutant arched his eyebrows delicately.

“Actually, I have,” he acknowledged, “and the fact that Siddarmark is so stubbornly attached to its ‘republican’ traditions is part of my thinking.”
“Indeed, Your Grace?” This time Rayno cocked his head to the side and crossed his legs as he awaited the Grand Inquisitor’s explanation.
“One of the things that makes Greyghor so damnably stiff-necked and defiant behind that mask of piety and obedience of his, is his belief that the voting citizens of Siddarmark support his policies. And, to give Shan-wei her due, he’s pretty much been right about that. That’s one of the considerations which has prevented us from turning up the pressure on him the way we really ought to have done long ago. But I rather doubt that public opinion in Siddarmark is quite as firmly united in approval of this schism of Charis’ as Greyghor may think it is. And if, in fact, his precious voters disapprove of Charis and of the things he’s willing to do behind the scenes in support of the schismatics, then I suspect he’ll change his tune.”
“That sounds eminently sensible to me, Your Grace,” Rayno said, nodding his head. “Exactly how do we. . . reshape that public opinion in our favor, though?”
“Over the next few days,” Clyntahn said, his tone a bit oblique, his eyes once again straying to the white maelstrom of the October blizzard, “several of the Charisians seized when their vessels were impounded will be arriving here in Zion. Actually, they’ll be arriving here at the Temple itself.”
“Indeed, Your Grace?”
“Indeed,” Clyntahn confirmed. “They’ll be delivered directly to the Order — to you, Wyllym.” The Grand Inquisitor’s eyes snapped back from the windows, boring suddenly into Rayno’s. “I haven’t gone out of my way to mention their impending arrival to the Chancellor or to the Treasurer General. I see no need to disturb them with what are, after all, the Inquisition’s internal matters. Do you?”
“Clearly not at this time, Your Grace,” Rayno replied, and Clyntahn smiled again, thinly.
“That was my thinking, as well, Wyllym. What we need to do is to . . . interview these Charisians. Shan-wei is the Mother of Lies, of course. No doubt she’ll do her damnable best to protect these heretics lest they betray her by revealing her plans and perversions to the true children of God. But the Office of Inquisition knows how to strip away Shan-wei’s mask and reveal the truth behind it. That will be your task, Wyllym. I want you to take personal charge of their questioning. It’s essential that they confess what actually happened, admit their deliberate provocation of the civil authorities who were simply attempting to peaceably carry out their instructions from Mother Church and their own secular authorities. The world must see clearly where the true blood guilt lies, just as it must learn of the perverse practices and blasphemies which this so-called ‘Church of Charis’ has embraced and seeks to enforce upon all the children of God in the name of its own dark mistress. Not only does the redemption of these sinners’ own souls hang upon their full confession and repentance, but once the truth is revealed, it will have a powerful effect upon ‘public opinion’ everywhere . . . even in Siddarmark.”
His eyes continued to bore into Rayno’s, and the adjutant drew a deep, steadying breath. The Grand Inquisitor was right about the necessity of confession and repentance if a soul which had strayed from the path of the archangels was ever to find true redemption. And the Inquisition was accustomed to its stern, often heartbreaking responsibilities. It understood that the true love of the sinner’s soul sometimes required that sinner’s body be dealt with harshly. It was sadly true that it was often difficult to break into that fortress of self pride, arrogance, and defiance and lead the lost soul hiding within it back into the cleansing light of God’s love once again. But however difficult the task might be, it was one the Inquisition had learned to discharge long-ago.
“How quickly do you need this accomplished, Your Grace?” he asked after a moment.
“As soon as possible, but not instantly,” Clyntahn replied with a shrug. “Until my . . . colleagues are prepared to act openly, I doubt that a confession from Shan-wei herself would carry much weight with anyone who’s already prepared to believe the schismatics’ lies. And, to be perfectly frank, I expect that Duchairn, at least, is going to express all sorts of pious reservations and protests at the thought of the Inquisition’s doing what’s necessary in this case. So, for now, this needs to be done very quietly. Keep it within the Order and be sure that, even there, you rely only on brothers whose faith and fidelity we know are trustworthy. I need to be able to produce this testimony when the time comes, but in the meantime, we don’t need any well-intentioned weaklings who don’t understand that, in this case, too much kindness would be the worst cruelty of all, getting in the way and hampering our efforts.”
“I agree with you, of course, Your Grace,” Rayno said. “However, I do have a . . . tactical reservation, let’s say.”
“What sort of reservation, Wyllym?” Clyntahn’s eyes had narrowed slightly, but Rayno appeared not to notice as he continued in the same calm, merely thoughtful tone of voice.
“Everything you’ve just said about controlling the time at which this testimony is made public strikes me as completely valid. But you and I are accustomed to dealing with the pragmatic, often unpleasant duties and responsibilities inherent in attempting to reclaim the fallen for Langhorne and God. If — when — if we obtain the apostates’ confessions, some people are going to wonder why we didn’t make those confessions public immediately. Some of that questioning will be completely sincere and legitimate, from people outside the office of Inquisition who simply don’t understand that sometimes saving the sinner is only the first step in combating a greater evil. But there will also be those, Your Grace, who seize upon any delay as an opportunity to discredit anything we may say. They’ll argue that the penitents were coerced, that their confessions aren’t reliable.”
“No doubt you’re right,” Clyntahn agreed. “In fact, the same thought had occurred to me. But almost as soon as I thought about it, I realized I was worrying unduly.”
“You were, Your Grace?”
“Yes.” Clyntahn nodded. “I have no doubt that once you’ve managed to bring these people to the point of confession and repentance we’ll discover that many of the ‘Church of Charis” perversions and abominations are even worse — horrifically worse, in some cases — than anything we could reasonably suspect from here. Undoubtedly, as the painstakingly thorough guardian of the truth I’ve always known you to be, you’ll insist on confirming as many as possible of those outrageous claims before making them public. It would never do to suggest such shocking possibilities if, in fact, it later turned out that the heretics had lied to you. So, obviously, until we have that confirmation, we couldn’t possibly justify presenting our findings to the Council of Vicars . . . or to the citizens of Siddarmark who mistakenly believe that Cayleb, Staynair, and the others must have at least some valid justifications on their side.”
“I understand, Your Grace,” Rayno said, and he did.
“Good, Wyllym. Excellent! I knew I could trust your diligence and discretion in this matter.”
“You can, Your Grace. Definitely. I suppose the only remaining question I have is whether or not you want progress reports.”
“Nothing written at this point, I think,” Clyntahn said after thinking for a moment. “Written memos have an unfortunate habit of being taken out of context, especially by people who choose to take them that way in order to suit their own purposes. Keep me informed, but verbally. When the time is right, I want to produce as many as possible of the heretics who have confessed. And, of course, I’ll want detailed, signed and witnessed written copies of their confessions, as well.”
“I understand, Your Grace.” Rayno rose and bent to kiss Clyntahn’s ring of office once more. “With all due respect, Your Grace, I think perhaps I should return to my office. I need to do some personnel selection and make certain the brothers I choose fully understand your fears and concerns.”
“I think that sounds like an excellent idea, Wyllym,” Clyntahn said, escorting the archbishop back towards his chamber’s door. “An excellent idea, indeed. And when you make your selections, remember that Shan-wei is cunning. If there should be a chink in the armor of one of your Inquisitors, never doubt she’ll find it and exploit it. This responsibility is too serious, the potential consequences are too great, to let that happen. Be sure that they’re fully protected in the armor of the Light and girded with the strength of will and purpose and faith to do that which must be done, however grievous the doing of it may seem. Our responsibility is to God, Wyllym. The approval or disapproval of mere mortal, fallible men cannot be allowed to sway us from the obligation to meet that dreadful responsibility, whatever it may demand of us. As Schueler taught and Langhorne himself confirmed, ‘Extremism in the pursuit of godliness can never be a sin.'”
“Yes, Your Grace,” Wyllym Rayno said quietly. “I’ll see to it that I — that all of us — remember that in the days to come.”

About Eric Flint

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20 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 3

  1. Jeff Ehlers says:

    That quote should be “Extremism in the pursuit of godliness is the first step towards fanaticism.”

    As I’m sure Merlin could tell them, it’s when people believe they can do no wrong when they do the worst wrongs.

  2. Alistair says:

    I wonder if merlin will rescue them?

    If not it’s not going to be pretty the torturing of women and children to get confessions.

    Going back to E’s idea listed below I wonder if Angels (the ones surviving the nuke) in the centuries after building of the temple would of thought of other ways to keep tabs on safehold maybe put themselves in stasis or something if I were a wanna be god I would want to do something other than sit with a dwindling supply of aging angels waiting to die. i would want someway of keeping myself alive and keeping langhornes vision alive as well.

    So I would connect E’s prayer idea to a stasis chamber or just an OWL clone to a stasis chamber to wake the surviving angles who choose stasis rather than death by old age when the church prayed in holy place Y or when there computer woke them this alternative also fits in with there scriptures that the angels are looking over them

    Here is E’s idea mentioned in the last snippet

    To shorten the idea:

    Person X prays at Holy Location Y in the Temple at Zion,
    Computer requests input of data, similar or more intuitive than OWL
    Computer assesses risk to Church, anti-tech religious matrix
    Computer intiates Rakurai / Does not initiate Rakurai
    Church proceeds from there.

  3. Alistair says:

    Sorry about lack of punctuation!

  4. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Oh it’s certainly possible, Alistair, but I still don’t buy it. Yet, at least.

    But the idea of a rescue mission, on the other hand, is looking MUCH more realistic. If Merlin becomes aware of what is going on (which it’s quite plausible that he might NOT) then he might choose to launch a rescue mission of some sort. But based on those pesky conversations I mentioned earlier I still think he’ll take enormous pains to hide the full truth still. I suspect that if he goes go in he may go in by skimmer to rescue the people but then won’t get them OUT by the skimmer. He’ll either try to seize a ship from the harbor (assuming that any of them are physically capable of helping him at that point) or march them across country to the borders of Siddarmark (presumably on wagons or somesuch that he buys/rents/steals as necessary).


  5. E says:

    Ship out of the harbor: bad idea. If he attempts the rescue in winter he can’t get out. If he tries to take them either east or west, Church semaphore will outrun him and he’ll have to be captured unless the Charisian Navy shows up. If the Siddarmark side lets him escape, then that’ll be another black mark on their President which might not be afforded. I’d say his best hope is to arrange for a ship rescue on the southern side of the continent and treck south, but with his rescuees likely to include tortured souls, he’d have to lay them up somewhere in the city until they got well enough to travel unless he performs a few miracles.

    If Charis has sufficient agents in Zion, I doubt that the Church is as thorough looking at its own city to weed out every potential hiding place, Merlin could also leave the victims in the hands of Charisian agents and be on his way.

    There is a major flaw in the land route however: Zion has only two land exits, east and west, and they are certainly narrow enough to be heavily patrolled. Unless Merlin somehow gets them across Lake Pei, he’d have to carve up at least one search party and then make it to Siddarmark. The best time for Merlin to get them out in this situation would be in Spring when the land routes start opening up and they can hide the victims amongst those leaving their pilgrimage from Zion. Awfully convenient, that, having so many faithful all required to physically visit the Temple at least once in their life. A trek into Siddarmark would allow the victims access to the “largest Charisian community outside of Charis” which would generate sympathy and support for Charis with the general populous of Siddarmark. Marching them west to Harchong would be worse than useless.

    Geographically speaking, and with the rigors of cross-country hiking in mind, they aren’t likely to make more than 10 miles in a day so their best bet is to go south via Lake Pei (easier to escape sea patrols when you have aerial reconnaisance) to Malansath and have a warship waiting on some unmonitored shore (or it could be monitored and they can blast their way out for more excitement). They could then sail north of Dohlar and drop them off in Siddarmark. Their safest bet from there is to get to port in Siddarmark for their return to Charis or stay with the Charisian communities in Siddarmark.

  6. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Oh, E, I didn’t say they’d officially be let out by the land route… :) But yeah your idea of trying to mingle them in with the pilgrims is a good idea.

    My whole point is that I can’t see him using the skimmer for extraction on a bunch of people he hasn’t “vetted” for “mental flexibility” to accept high technology isn’t, in fact, the spoor of Shan-Wei. It would be worse than useless for him to save them from being forced by tortue to proclaim the schismatics are the tools of Shan-Wei to have them turn around and voluntarily begin to believe and proclaim that. Hence my trying to come up with any other option. And there are plenty more neither I nor you have touched on.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a mix of your ideas and mine show up. One option is that he uses the skimmer to get in, then drops them off with the Circle or somebody to hide them (and help them recover from their torture) for a few months before a dozen or so Charisian warships drop by come springtime, guns blasting 90 miles an hour, to recover them. If nothing else, the idea makes for a nice imaginary scene to play with! :) Alternately, they could be hidden for a few months and then once they’ve recovered they could mingle with the pilgrims leaving the city and head to Siddarmark that way. Or maybe they don’t even need to be exfiltrated if the Circle can use their tortured state as ammunition against the Group of Four… the possibilities are quite endless. Which makes the anticipation all the worse, of course… :)


  7. E says:


    Charis cannot afford to blast half of Zion to hell, not if they want to eventually let the truth out to a population that is willing to listen. As to the need or lack of exfiltration, I know I’d want to get the hell away from the city where I was tortured (although technically the ones who haven’t been to Zion until then can get the “I visited Zion” merit badge, like King Hahrald, upon completion of their tour). I don’t doubt that the skimmer will come into play in getting to Zion, but the other factor is timing: when can Merlin afford to go in and rescue them? As of BSRA he’s in a fleet headed to conquer Corisande, he cannot miraculously appear in two places at once as Merlin, so he’d have to use a diferent persona to get them out to avoid a lot of mess. If he waits until the winter after the Corisande campaign concludes, he certainly won’t have as many people left to save. Unless Merlin is given a special dispensation to leave the fleet for the rescue, I really see no real way he can do so at the beginning of the book, it would certainly take months for the ship he takes with him to reach East Haven (Siddarmark) unless he cheats a little (underwater recon skimmer towing for the win). At least from there it wouldn’t matter how long it takes for him to reach Zion since he’d have to lay up for the winter until the victims recover.

  8. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Why can’t they blast half of Zion to hell? They’re about to blast half of Corisande to hell too, does that mean there will be Corisandian people 200 years from “now” who will stubbornly cling to the idea that technology is evil just because their great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents died in the Charisian invasion? Of course not. Zion is the heart of the evil empire, and nothing will get through to them anytime soon anyway. Blowing up a few forts and rescuing a few “heretics” won’t do much, if anything, to delay their acceptance of the truth anyway.

    That said, I have little doubt that there will in fact be no guns-blazing warship squadron in Lake Pei either. I called it “a nice imaginary scene to play with” for a reason.

    Now even if Merlin finds out at all (he might well not) that rescues are needed he’s almost certainly going to find out at a very late date and have to cheat a LOT to get there at all.

    And once he does get there, those people will have been tortured by that point within a few inches of their very lives. They will not be physically capable of marching a few hundred or thousand miles by foot at that point. Sure they will want to leave, but they will also know (if they have any sense at all) that it’s not possible. They may not LIKE sitting around being hidden by the Circle while they heal, but if they have any common sense whatsoever they will know it’s their only hope. I’m sure a LOT of fast talking and reassuring promises will be necessary as he prepares to leave, but they will have little other option than to let him do it.

    As to whether he can go in as Merlin, I’d be quite unsurprised to find him trying to disguise himself so that people don’t figure out just how many impossible things he’s doing before breakfast every day. Perhaps Nimue makes a brief reappearance? Or perhaps just a really good mask and cloak (and contacts to change his eye color) to disguise his features enough that people only know he’s a “big tall strong guy who came and rescued us but wouldn’t tell us his name”…


  9. E says:

    There’s no problem with blasting Zion to hell eventually, but in the meantime there’s still 2/3rds of a planet and 80% of a planet’s population that thinks Charis is in the wrong. Even with everything Charis has now, if that entire population went up against Charis directly then Charis wouldn’t stand much of a chance. The problem isn’t destroying the Church, Merlin could do that with the recon skimmer, it’s destroying the Church in a way that keeps humanity intact as a society. For that, he’s already working on taking the divine mandate out of government and giving it to man, and he’s certainly going to be hitting the “because Langhorne said it it is so” out of science and the way the world works. And while “blowing up a few forts” etc might not seem like much, it serves as a propagator of doubt as to the true level of secular power that the Church maintains if its will is allowed to be thrawted and, as seen below so above, doubts over the secular potency creates doubt over doctrinal rightness.

    As to the Circle, remember that Merlin doesn’t know anything about them at this time.

  10. Karina says:

    Well, since Clytahn has requested this be kept quiet until they can get the confesions the only way Merlin will find out is if it’s discussed outside of the temple somehow OR if a regular spy finds out and passes it to say Nahrman. The people who’re already at the temple may be lost, but there may be more prisoners. Another problem, is how close to the temple is the prison? Working too close could expose Merlin. As for a 2nd identity I figure that’s a given. It’s easy enough for Merlin to come up with another name…say…
    Zorro? Lone Ranger? Or perhaps the Scalet Pimpernell who helped French nobels escape the revolutionaries.

  11. Karina says:

    After doing some research, the Scarlet Pimpernell would be a perfect choice. Even though the original is fiction, there are some historical figures who are nicknamed after the pimpernell for their rescue actions during WWII. Also, according to Wikipedia, Nelson Mandela was named the Black Pimpernel for his effective disguises for evading the aparthied police.

  12. E says:

    I believe Merlin will discover the prisoners from SNARC recon of the ports where Charisian ships were captured. If he’s watching the Church leaders in the areas there should be no way that reports of prisoners don’t exchange hands in order to get them moved. There’s always going to be a logistics train involved with moving the kind of numbers expected for ship crews and it should be thoughroughly impossible for the Church to not be noticed moving people in numbers through Charis’ winter into Zion.

  13. RobertHuntingdon says:

    On Zion:

    E, I think you are badly overstating your case, but I doubt it’s truly worth discussing further. Guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

    On the prisoners:

    Absolutely correct E, I’m sure he’ll know they were taken prisoner… and probably even that the went to Zion… and no doubt they will take time to get there and all that… but will he know that the torture is going on? That, I’m not so sure about. I figure Karina has it right. It will be found out about only through alternate means (if at all) and I still stand by my opinion that it will be late in the game. Unless of course he decides to preemptively rescue them in advance BEFORE they even reach Zion / before there is even any torture to rescue them from, but somehow I don’t see that as terribly likely.

    As for whether he knows about the Circle, of course he doesn’t… now. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t find out about them in time. Perhaps Madame Dynnys confides in the good Archbishop. Or perhaps he happens to have a SNARC bug in their temple during an upcoming meeting. Or perhaps he did previously and something tips him off to review that recording. Or something else. It’s doable, and I’m sure if that’s what Weber wants he’ll come up with a plausible way to pull it off.


  14. Bob G says:

    I suspect that Clyntahn probably bragged about his plans to his mistress, aka pillow talk, and that she works for Phonda, and will report it to her – right where one of Merlin’s bugs will overheard it.

  15. E says:

    Makes sense, after hearing Madam Dynnys tale of how she escaped Zion with Mrs Anzelyk’s help it should behoove Merlin to consider her well placed enough for him to well-place a listening probe.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    E, IIRC Madam Dynnys didn’t say who helped her escape expect maybe in confession to the Archbishop.

  17. The regularly mentioned limitations on OWLs reading abilities sound about ready to stab Merlin in the back — the exchanges here involve no keyword of interest to Merlin, so the various telegraphed messages will be read by OWL and filed without telling Merlin about them.

  18. E says:

    No SNARCs in the temple, unknown power signatures remember.

  19. Jeff Ehlers says:

    He meant when the Temple sends out its dispatches to the various cities where Charisian merchantmen were seized. Those are in a position to be eavesdropped on. Although, I wonder if Merlin has thought to update his list of suspect words? “Prisoner”, “interrogation”, “inquisition” and so on would all seem to be appropriate now that a state of war exists.

  20. MarkR says:

    I wonder if the prison of the Inquisition is called Gitmo.

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