Vicar Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s Office,
The Temple,
City of Zion

Vicar Zhaspahr Clyntahn, Grand Inquisitor of the Church of God Awaiting and Father General of the Order of Schueler, looked up from the paperwork on his desk, eyebrows knitting in anger, as the door to his sumptuous office in the Temple was opened abruptly. The upper-priest who had opened it so unceremoniously bobbed in a rushed bow, and Clyntahn’s eyes flashed dangerously. Father Dahnyld Fahrmyr had been one of his confidential secretaries for almost eight years. He knew better than to burst in upon his patron without so much as knocking first.

“What –?!” Clyntahn began thunderously, but the upper-priest actually had the temerity (or desperation) to interrupt him.
“I most humbly beg your pardon for intruding so abruptly, Your Grace,” Fahrmyr said, speaking so rapidly the words came out almost in a babble. “I would never have done so if it hadn’t been — that is — I mean . . . ”
“Oh, spit it out, Dahnyld!” Clyntahn snapped, and the upper-priest swallowed hard.
“Your Grace, Vicar Zahmsyn is here!”
Clyntahn’s corrugated eyebrows flew up in surprise.
“Here?” he repeated, his tone as close to incredulous as it ever came. “In the office?”
“Yes, Your Grace!” Father Dahnyld nodded almost spastically, but there was relief in his voice, as well. As if he were astounded he’d gotten his message out without being incinerated on the spot by the thunderbolts of Clyntahn’s well-known temper.
The Inquisitor General sat back in his chair, mastering his expression of astonishment while his brain raced.
No wonder Fahrmyr seemed so stunned. The Chancellor of the Church of God Awaiting didn’t just casually “drop in” on the Grand Inquisitor without scheduling his appointment well in advance. In fact, no one “dropped in” on the Grand Inquisitor without an appointment.
Clyntahn spent a handful of seconds trying to think of any reason for Zhamsyn Trynair to have just suddenly appeared in his office anteroom, but no explanation suggested itself to him. Not, at any rate, any suggestion that he cared to contemplate.
“I assume, since you haven’t told me why he’s here, that he hasn’t told you, either,” he said in a tone which suggested that that had better be the reason Fahrmyr hadn’t already told him, and the upper-priest shook his head sharply.
“No, Your Grace.” Fahrmyr’s own intense uneasiness at such a radical breach of procedure showed in his eyes, but his voice was coming back under control. “He just . . . walked in the door and ‘requested a moment of your time.'”
“He did, did he?” Clyntahn snorted like an irritated boar, then shrugged. “Well, in that case, I suppose you’d better show the Chancellor in, hadn’t you?”
“Yes, Your Grace. At once!”
Fahrmyr disappeared like a puff of smoke. He was back a moment later, followed by Zhamsyn Trynair. The Chancellor’s expression had been trained by decades of experience — first as a priest, then as a diplomat, and finally as the true ruler of the Council of Vicars — to say whatever he told it to say. This time, though, there was a glitter in his eyes, a tightness to his mouth. Those who didn’t know him well might have missed seeing that, but Clyntahn did know him, and he felt his own stomach muscles tightening.
“Good morning, Zhamsyn,” he said.
“Good morning.” Trynair’s response came out half-snapped, and Clyntahn looked over the Chancellor’s shoulder at Fahrmyr.
“That will be all, Father,” he said, and Fahrmyr vanished with even more alacrity. Whatever curiosity he might feel — and Clyntahn suspected he felt quite a lot of it — the upper-priest didn’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity. Obviously, he, too, had read the storm flags flying in Trynair’s expression.
Of course, only a blind man could have missed seeing them, the Grand Inquisitor thought dryly.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked, since there seemed little point in indulging in polite nothings.
“To this, Zhaspahr.” Trynair reached into the breast of his orange cassock and extracted a sheaf of paper.
“And ‘this’ would be exactly what?” Clyntahn’s voice was more brusque as his hackles rose in response to the other man’s obvious anger. Anger which appeared to be directed at Clyntahn himself. The Grand Inquisitor wasn’t accustomed to confronting anyone with the courage — or the stupidity — to show open anger with him, and he found that he didn’t much care for the experience.
“It’s a semaphore message, Zhaspahr. A message from King Zhames in Talkyra. Or, rather, from Bishop Executor Frayd for King Zhames. And himself, of course.”
Clyntahn had never heard that particular note out of Zhamsyn Trynair. The Chancellor’s voice sounded like hammered metal, and the emotion in his eyes burned hotter than ever.
“Obviously something about it has upset you,” Clyntahn said, trying to make his own voice come out more naturally. He wasn’t accustomed to trying to defuse someone else’s anger, but it looked as if Trynair was whipping himself into an even greater rage with every word he said. “And presumably, since you’ve come storming into my office without even warning anyone you were coming, whatever it is that’s upset you concerns me, or the Office of Inquisition.”
“Oh, yes,” Trynair agreed. “Yes, indeed, Zhaspahr! I think that would be a very good way to put it.”
“Then tell me what it is and let’s get on with it,” Clyntahn said flatly.
“All right, Zhaspahr, I will tell you.” Trynair dropped the folded sheets of paper onto Clyntahn’s desk. “King Zhames and Bishop Executor Frayd have sent word that the Charisians have burned half or two-thirds of Ferayd to the ground. You remember Ferayd, don’t do, Zhaspahr? The place where all of those Charisians ‘foolishly resisted’ the Delferahkan troops who attempted to sequester their vessels on your orders?”

About Eric Flint

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32 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 24

  1. Everett says:

    Oh this should be good!

  2. Exo says:

    Why do I get the feeling Zion will be looking for a new Chancellor soon?

  3. Alistair says:

    This should be fun!!

    48 hours to go….!

  4. Karina says:

    Wow! Can’t wait for the next snippet. I was looking forward to when news of Ferayd would hit and it looks even more explosive than I thought. I thought that Clyntahn would get the news 1st, explode and then nit-pick things to suppress what he didn’t like such as his inquisitors whipping people up and the numbers of dead.

  5. Karina says:

    (sorry hit the submit too soon)
    So, the one person who might have the power to do something to Clyntahn got the un-spun version of the facts. On the other hand I hope that he has ‘kept copies’ and let others know cause I bet Clyntahn is the type of person who makes ‘inconvienient facts and people’ dissapear.

  6. Virgil says:

    This snippet was the act of a very cruel person. We are left with 48 hours to finish the statement.

  7. E says:

    Aangry boss time is the best thing to read about but not experience. This is followed shortly by ironic “the answer was in front of you the whole time” time.

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well E, this is one ‘angry boss’ who has very good reason to be angry. This is a case where the boss was lied to not a case where the boss ‘just didn’t see things’.

  9. JN says:

    He has not even gotten to the part about the priests being hanged. Or why. Fulsome stuff.


  10. Alejo says:

    At last! I’ve been waiting for this ever since like snippet 7 or something. We’ll probably spend all week and maybe half of next with it but, for once, I don’t mind.

  11. E says:

    “And speaking of those ‘foolish resistors’, what has been done with the ones who were captured when you ordered those ships siezed?” or something to that effect will probably be said soon. Given the way Zion politics works, he might be holding even more information than this and gauging what truth Clyntahn tells him against the facts he has. Given the Church’s inability to combat Charis, there might be a setup in the works to where the Inquisition recieves an official slap on the wrist followed by unofficial allowances that will allow the “Church Proper” to dump the blame on the Inquisition if any of their actions goes pear shaped.

  12. Harold says:

    what of the circle? will this motivate the ones on the fence?

  13. E says:

    I see this as a “let’s consolodate our focus on purging the Inquisition of Clyntahn” thing for the Circle. Frankly, given their inclusion of members of the Inquisition, I don’t see them as wanting to target organizations within the Church so much as excising people like Clyntahn who serve their own ends. They just need to set up the right information feeding to get the other G4 and that Treasury guy to turn against Clyntahn. They haven’t demonstrated any political involvement with secular rulers so I don’t know if they’ll interfere with Church orders as far as the Church Nations are concerned.

  14. Peter Z says:

    @13 E, are you sure? The Temple Land Bailif on that discussion in Siddermark about how to get around the G4 embargo could very well have been a Circle member. I can see the Circle trying to mainatin some relations with disaffected nations like Siddermark before they also go “Charis”. We know that at least one Circle member has a Bishopric in Glacierheart, Siddermark. Perchance Siddermark hosts quite a few Circle members.

    If so, then there appears to be a strong alignment of interests against the G4, if not the Church proper. Using the secular leaders like the Lord Protector to leverage an ouster of the G4 may be the surest approach. The Council of Vicars seems to be waffling and desperately looking for a safe backdoor to flee the G4. Charis scares them senseless, but Siddermark may provide them that out. Its not in the G4’s pocket but also does not host a schismatic Church hierarchy.

    So, DW may not have written it, but the Circle may very well be consolidating secular rulers behind their aims indirectly.


  15. E says:

    I am assuming that they provide information to and recieve truer information from secular rulers. My previous statement was to the effect that they do not seem to have political figures who are close to the Circle for them to disrupt Church control. Such a thing would be counterproductive if their only goal were really to supplant the G4 as the ruling body of the Church, since most of the secular rulers would want something in return and might just get more out of keeping the G4 in power. Accepting the schism as permanent would be damaging enough but to allow that secular rulers of nations within the Church lands propelled Church politics would also be to let go of the reigns. So the Circle is better off appealing to secular rulers to support their replacing the G4 after they already do it, with the Inquisition as the scapegoat. This all depends on their actions not being discovered in the first place, and the quickness with which they can seize control. The Circle is reminding me of Operation Valkyrie, and with their inclusion of Inquisition members into their ranks it could be that they’re just a plot device that’s meant to go wrong in the future. Who knows, maybe Weber will given them a broader backstory and list of accomplishments to convert them from potential redshirt status. It would certainly help their odds if Merlin knew.

  16. RobertHuntingdon says:

    E, would it really help if Merlin knew? I mean, what can he do to help them without betraying who and what he is? I’m not sure that he could help them without at least partially doing so. Remember how Cayleb told him that he could not hide who he is even if he could hide (to some degree) what he is.

    I think the Circle is being kept a shadow right now so that Weber has options when it comes time to wrap up this phase of the warfare. He has the option to have them win and create the 20 year truce (and his version of the Counter-Reformation). He has the option to have them be your redshirt if he decides on another means of creating the truce. And he has the option to have them either partially succeed and/or partially or even completely fail in such a fashion that the “first round” doesn’t wind down as originally planned but segues straight into the originally planned “second round” if he decides to do so after all. (I don’t really think he will, but he’s talented enough at hand waving I suspect he could come up with a semi-plausible excuse…)

    Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find there be a lot more Circle stuff later in this book (perhaps in the parts we get to read online, perhaps not) that invalidates this guess… but based on what we know now it makes sense to me at least…


  17. E says:

    Ah! But remember that Merlin is a master of disguise. He doesn’t have to be Merlin to help them personally and he doesn’t even have to help them directly unless he wants to give them a face as his allies. He can help them out by having a SNARC place useful documents where the Circle will find them.

  18. Wisp says:

    You remember Ferayd, don’t do, Zhaspahr?

    You remember Ferayd, don’t you, Zhasphar? I believe this is what is meant.

  19. E says:

    I’ve been wondering why Merlin hasn’t decided to pursue information manipulation at the direct level of fake correspondence. Thus far he’s gotten information security up in Charis at levels any dictator would wet himself over up the the WWII era, but he hasn’t planted a false note or anything. He could gain a lot of time for Charis by issuing messages like “use our funds to build and army” at the same time as “use our funds to build a navy” to the same nation for the same funds, if he did that to Harchong it would take a week to relay confirmations and then there’d be some tie-ups on both sides as to who got and issued those messages.
    Cracking the semaphore code might help in that regard, if he could send false invasion reports or something via semaphore he could wreak havoc from a single tower and cause “china syndrome” style hysteria. AND if he did this without killing any tower crews, the result would simply be a crackdown on the semaphore and people blaming the Church for being incompetent with communications.

  20. Peter Z says:

    @18. The Church would know or at least would have the data to know their information flow had been compromised. The first order then would be to find out how. One of the conclusions would be to realize that it is impossible for the Charisian’s to do so. Some sharp/fanatic cookie will decide that if your enemy is doing the impossible he must have demonic/extremely extra ordinary help. At this point there is only one suspect that fits the bill. Enough data such points and the Church can safely conclude that Charis IS acting under demonic direction. At which point Charis is toast.

    I think Merlin hasn’t manipulated information because there isn’t a way of doing it that doesn’t require the enemy to know at least indirectly Charis has some extremely extra-ordinary intelligence capabilities.


  21. E says:

    He could go for incorrect information. Drop in an extra zero or change east to west. Zion doesn’t have to get a breaking hint that their information is compromised, they could just get a string of errors that are reasonable yet damaging. If Merlin were to change “gather forces” into “gather horses” at location Y then the logistical needs, planning, and effort to move said resources would occupy a significant amount of labor and cost the Church in both face and time. As far as the fanatic theory, I imagine that such a thing would occur if the misinformation were large enough and consistent enough. But a burst of “incompetence” on the part of church message relays could be used for special occasions and with different messages depending on the country and need to delay.

    Also, If Merlin took out one semaphore in the chain at the right location he could cripple an entire branch for who knows how long.

  22. jgnfld says:

    Re. “one semaphore station”…

    If they are 10 kilometre or less intervals which is about what the normal interval was (and often less), taking out 1 station is a pain, but not probably critical in this culture/world. A runner can easily make up one station in much less than an hour.

    Now several stations in a row would be a different matter.

  23. E says:

    I’ll admit I forgot how short-ranged semaphore is for its users. Guess Merlin will have to make a few “wind storms” with the skimmer.

    For now, I’ll leave off wondering if anyone else sees a bit of potential correlation between the Circle and Operation Valkyrie. Both parties on the “good” side simply wanted to remove what they saw as a ruinous leader and replace him, dealing with their war enemies in their way.

  24. Mike says:

    The long term goal is not to defeat the Church. It is to defeat the aliens (Gabba?). There are some tactics Merlin might advantageously use now that could backfire later. This is a battle for hearts and minds more than it is a military/economic battle between Charis and The Church.

  25. E says:

    At some point the lie that is the Church is supposed to be destroyed.

  26. Mike says:

    But destroying one lie with another lie is not the same thing as destroying one lie with the truth.

  27. Kenny says:

    This snippet reminded me of 1945 Japan, The real leadership of the country was the military, However when the emperor said the war was over, it was over.
    Could the Chancellor of the Church of God Awaiting be about to use is morale authority to stamp out the group of 4?

  28. Ian Darley says:

    #27, Only if the Chancellor develops a spine. With the little info DW has provided he doesn’t appear to have one, and in the past those Chancellor’s who have tried to change things have had unexpectedly short careers. Now with all the shocks being administered by Charis the potential for the Chancellor to grow a spine is there but I suspect it will be gradual with maybe a lot of pushing and prodding by individuals and perhaps the Circle.

    Ian Darley

  29. E says:

    @26 Which lie do you think is going to be remembered? The Church has supressed the true history of humanity and subvereted its development OR Merlin made a few fake reports to disrupt the Church activites that would have kept it supressing the true history and development of humanity?

    Even if Merlin doesn’t do things directly, he has a hand in the intelligence services of Charis. Their job isn’t just to stop spies, it is also to sow misinformation about Charis’ activities. Just because Merlin isn’t doing it himself doesn’t mean that lies aren’t being spread for the good of Charis and humanity. At this point, Charis doesn’t need to lie so much because she doesn’t have so many spies in her any more, but take Cayleb’s ‘slip’ about Tarot being the source of their information on where to meet the enemy at Armageddon Reef as an example. Merlin is simply more capable of fracturing their enemies’ resolve and coordination.

  30. Drak Bibliophile says:

    E, remember that Merlin wants to keep a reputation for not lying. He is open that there are things he can’t tell but he does not want to lie. IMO he would think that spreading ‘disinformation’ would be a temptation for him to start lying in other areas.

    Remember the truth that he has to tell years in the future will be very hard for people to accept. If he is known to have spread ‘disinformation’, then the truth he has to tell will be seen as a lie.

  31. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ian and Kenny, I think you’re confusing the Grand Vicar (the Safehold Pope) who is controlled by the Gof4 and Chancellor Zhamsyn Trynair who is a member of the Gof4.

    The current Grand Vicar is unlikely to ‘grow a spine’ and crack down on the Gof4. On the other hand, if there happens to be a new Grand Vicar in the near future with the support of the Circle, then things could be ‘interesting’ for the Gof4.

  32. E says:

    Drak, Merlin wouldn’t be known for it unless he wanted it so. But I see your point about him wanting to be honest for his own sake.

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