Privateer Brig Loyal Son,
Desnarian Merchant Galleon Wind Hoof,
Markovian Sea

Steel-gray water heaved under a slate-gray sky like a vast bowl of ice-burnished wind. That same wind hummed and whined through the rigging as the brig Loyal Son made her way across the vast wasteland of the Markovian Sea. Symyn Fytzhyw, Loyal Son’s owner and captain, stood on the brig’s tiny quarterdeck, his legs spread wide against the ship’s motion, and shivered, despite his thick, warm coat.

Fytzhyw was just under thirty Safeholdian years old, and he had no children of his own. His older brother, on the other hand, had five already, including not one, but two sets of twins. The eldest was only seven, and none of them had ever been outside the city of Tellesberg . . . or its climate. They’d found Uncle Symyn’s thick winter coat hilarious when they’d “helped him pack,” but Fytzhyw didn’t find its thickness the least bit humorous at this particular moment. In fact, he wished fervently that it was even thicker and heavier.
Spring was a month off yet, and winter in the Markovian could be as cold and bitter as anything south of the Icewind Sea itself, as the current weather seemed bent upon proving. At least, he thought gratefully, there was no longer anything falling out of the sky. Yesterday’s rain had turned into freezing sleet, and the standing rigging was coated in the ice, like tree branches in a winter-struck forest. The temperature hadn’t climbed enough to melt it yet (assuming it ever intended to climb that high again), but chunks of it rattled and banged on deck from time to time. The carronades gleamed under their own thin coating of glassy ice, and more ice came slithering to the deck in crystal shards from the running rigging whenever the sails were trimmed.
I wonder why this seemed like a good idea before we left port? Fytzhyw asked himself rhetorically as he looked up at the northern sky.
Actually, he knew the answer perfectly well. The waters south of the Markovian had been thoroughly fished out by other privateers. The Gulf of Tarot, the Tarot Channel, the Tranjyr Passage, and the Sea of Justice had been thoroughly swept, and if there were still twenty merchantmen in the world flying the Tarotisian flag, Fytzhyw would have been astonished. The waters off Delferahk, still further south, had been even more thoroughly hunted out over the past several months as Charisian ships swarmed over the Delferahkan coast and went through the Kingdom’s coastal waters like feeding doomwhales in the wake of the Ferayd Massacre, and the Empire of Charis wasn’t at war (yet) with the Desnairian Empire. Effectively, that left only the Harthian Sea and the Gulf of Harchong, far to the west, and that was really too far for a vessel the size of Loyal Son.
Besides, Symyn Fytzhyw hadn’t become a privateer just for the money. Not that he had any objection to piling up a satisfying heap of marks, of course, but what he really wanted to do was to hurt those bastards in Zion any way he could.
And that was the real reason he was where he was this frigid, blustery, thoroughly miserable day. He couldn’t match the size of many another privateer vessel, and he couldn’t match the wealth of many another shipowner, but he still had his father’s network of contacts, including several in the independent Duchy of Fallos.
The island of Fallos measured almost nine hundred miles from its extreme northern tip to its extreme southern tip, but its total population was less than that of the city of Tellesberg, alone. By and large, no one paid much attention to Fallos, but the duchy did have one extraordinarily valuable natural resource: trees. Lots and lots of trees. Trees which produced some of the finest shipbuilding timbers in the world. Most Fallosians — those who weren’t farmers or fishermen — were woodsmen, and they showed a respectable profit selling timber to various mainland realms. Charis wasn’t usually one of Fallos’ markets, given that the forests which still covered much of Charis and almost all of the huge island of Silver had even more (and arguably better) timber to offer far closer to home. But far more of the mainland had been logged off, and second-growth forest couldn’t match the magnificent timbers for masts and spars which came out of Fallos’ virgin forests. Turpentine was another major Fallosian product, and so was pitch.
Under normal circumstances, Fallos made a reasonably comfortable living off of its forestry products, but the duchy was scarcely in danger of becoming wealthy. Circumstances, however, had been anything but “normal” since the Battle of Darcos Sound. The Group of Four’s decision to build its enormous new navy had produced a demand for timbers and every sort of naval store such as the world had never before seen. Suddenly, Fallosians were making money at a rate even a Charisian could envy . . . and the waters between Fallos and the mainland swarmed with freighters.
Given the growth demands of the Charisian Navy and the brawling Charisian privateer fleet, a merchantman loaded with already-cut ship timbers could bring a reasonable return, even in timber-rich Charis. It wouldn’t be a particularly handsome profit, which was the reason most privateers tended to hunt elsewhere, but it would certainly cover Fytzhyw’s operating expenses, and taking those same timbers away from the Church held a certain appeal all its own. That wasn’t the real reason he and his grumbling ship’s company were out here just now, however. He was perfectly willing to snap up any timber-hauler which crossed his path (in fact, he’d already taken two of them), but that was a task better suited to regular Navy cruisers, who didn’t have to present profit and loss statements to shareholders or business partners. All they had to worry about was hurting the enemy’s actual capabilities; a privateer had to worry about paying the bills, as well. Which was why what Fytzhyw was really looking for was the ship his Fallosian informant assured him was even then on her way to the duchy . . . and carrying several thousand marks of cold, hard cash destined to pay for all of those felled trees.
The only problem was that his target should have been along at least two days ago. There were many possible explanations for its tardiness, including the storm which had worked its way across the Markovian the previous five-day and left Loyal Son in her glittering icy cocoon in its wake. Despite that, Fytzhyw was beginning to feel considerably less cheerful than he had when he set out.
Face it, he told himself brutally, the real reason you’re beginning to feel less cheerful is that the most likely “explanation” for the reason you haven’t seen it is that it sailed right past you in the dark. Or it chose a passage further north or further south. Or —
“Sail ho!” The wind-thrashed shout came down from the mainmast lookout. “Sail on the larboard bow!”
Fytzhyw twitched, then strode rapidly to the larboard bulwark, peering down to leeward. For several minutes he saw nothing at all from his much lower vantage point, but then something pricked the horizon. He pounded gently on the bulwark rail with gloved hands, waiting impatiently. It seemed to take forever, and the masthead which had broken the hard line of the horizon was far clearer and sharper from deck level before the lookout peering through his spyglass finally announced —
“Deck, there! She’s flying a Church pennant!”
“Yes!” Symyn Fytzhyw hissed jubilantly. Then he wheeled from the bulwark and sucked in a burning lungful of frigid air.
“Hands to quarters!” he bellowed. “Hands to quarters!”

About Eric Flint

Author and Editor
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47 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 36

  1. E says:

    Ooh. Let’s see if the Ahkbar Test holds up.

  2. Alistair says:

    I like these sort of snippets…

    The loss of these ships will soon hurt the church a lot as they will (I imagine) have to send a second ship with money to Fallos which also might be taken.

  3. Bret Hooper says:

    Good! And, as I noted earlier, navy & privateers cooper8ing could be most useful.


  4. Jerry says:

    Hmmm… “Charis wasn’t at war (yet) with the Desnairian Empire” yet this appears to be the “Desnarian Merchant Galleon Wind Hoof”. Will this be the opening shot in another front?? Or does the church flag mean it is open season on chartered ships? Or have I missed something?

  5. I think the church flag means the ship, wherever it came from, is on Church business and everybody better show some respect. Of course, anywhere near Charis, the flag means “aim right here.”

    If the Church is chartering ships to send money to Fallos for raw timber, it means they want every stage of the shipbuilding operation to be under their complete financial control. Are they afraid of disloyalty, or just embezzlement?

  6. KenJ says:

    @4 Since Sharley just declared that any ship serving the G4 a fair target to burn or otherwise destroy, I’d say that the church flag is another way of saying “Bullseye”

  7. Chuck S. says:

    In earth history a ship under charter to a belligerent is subject to capture the same as if it were registered to the belligerent. It gets a little iffy when the ship is a neutral and carries cargo owned by a belligerent, especially if bound for a non-belligerent port. Oddly enough, mixed cargo doesn’t seem to matter. If a ship carries a single piece of a proscribed cargo or a full load of it, the legality is the same. Military stores are a separate case, which has been argued every way possible.

    The classic case was British built and owned warships (without armament) that sailed to the Bahamas during the American Civil war. They were sold to Confederate Officers in the neutral port and sailed out to some deserted spot. There they just happened to meet a shipload of cannons and ammunition they could purchase from another British ship. The resulting warship then proceeded on its’ mission of devestating Federal commerce.

    The issue was eventually settled with an apology and a small indemnity paid by the British government. The end result was that Yankee ships trade lost their “market share” over a four year period when insurance rates made the British cargo carriers cheaper (and more reliable). The Americans never regained the position in world commerce they held prior to the American Civil war.

    There is also the Lusitania case, where the British freely admitted the ship was carrying small arms ammunition, but claimed its’ sinking to be an act of piracy as the ship also carried passengers. The Germans regarded it as a potential troop ship / armed merchant cruiser traveling throufh proscribed waters and therefore a valid target. No-one found out the Lusitania WAS an armed merchant cruiser carrying ten six inch guns until the documents were declassified (by accident?) in the mid 1970’s.

    International law is often settled on the basis of which gentleman has the biggest baseball bat when the question comes up.

    End of potification


  8. Bob G says:

    I have a “feeling” that this isn’t going to be such an easy capture. I’m wondering what could be different. I don’t think it’s a Q-ship. What about a Church priest aboard with orders to keep the Charisians from obtaining the currency at all costs, including setting off a keg of gunpowder secreted with the bullion? A martyr for the cause?

    I’m wondering if the actual battle of the big fleets will take place in this book, or if we’ll have to wait for the next one.

  9. Palmer Sperry says:

    NitPick : Whilst Lusitania had been built to be capable of conversion into an AMC, the guns where never fitted.

    ObSnip: This capture could go either way … Maybe it will be the case of “it’s a trap”, or maybe the Church will have been unimaginative enough to think that Charis wouldn’t be interested in the wood trade?

  10. D says:

    @#1 Ahkbar Test ?

  11. Peter Z says:

    @8 Bob, perhaps its trickier than that. In OAR DW mentioned that Desnair operated using slaves. What happens when any slaves aboard Wind Hoof revolt in support of Loyal Son’s attack? That ought to muddy things up quite a bit, don’t you think? After all a man can’t excercise his own conscience with respect to God if another owns his ability to so excercise. Freeing slaves would be the logical extension to the Church of Charis’ doctrine.

    The brig may need all the help it can get and the slaves may turn the tide. It is small and the Church has lost treasure ships already. The G4 may have placed a significant number of troops aboard to repell boarders. Enough so that most privateers would need to either sink her or let her go because they wouldn’t have the crew to take her.


  12. E says:

    @10 Admiral Akbar from Star Wars… thought he was attacking an inoperable Death Star…. “IT’S A TRAP!”

    @7 “The Americans never regained the position in world commerce they held prior to the American Civil war.”
    America did, it was called the Lend-Lease act and we pretty much kicked Britain out of their own bases in exchange for our resources. Domination of the Pacific and Atlantic, with a small donation of over 500,000 US lives during the war, after WWII ended. Ultimately the US paid very little for the amount of power we got, and we continued to pay little because the following Cold War stimulated both sides of the conflict without destroying either.

  13. Ian Darley says:

    The Church is going to find itself in the same position as the British in 1914 and 1939. They will have to start running convoys with escorts which will bleed off the best crews and navy ships from the new build fleet and delay that deployment even further. As the Charisian privateers begin to take losses or having to leave these prizes alone the Charisians will have to start operating in “wolf packs” just as the German U-Boats did in the world wars.
    Either the Church will have to accept the regular loss of their flagged ships causing doubters to question the validity of the cause of the Go4 (if God is on the Go4’s side, why is He allowing the evil, nasty Charisians to take so many of their ships), or the Go4 will have to start committing more and more resources to oranize convoys, commit escorts to the task and anger every merchantman still loyal to the Church because a ship sitting at anchor as a convoy is organized is a drain on the owners’ pocketbooks.
    And just as in the early stages of both world wars many merchantmen will try to run from the convoy organizers and go it alone. Leaving the church with another problem. Let them go and probably lose them to a privateer or chase them down and force them to comply.

  14. RobertHuntingdon says:

    E, I just don’t see the “trap” idea working here. I suppose in theory it’s been long enough since the Delferahk capture that the church might have decided to try something like that, but I don’t buy it. Look how long and hard Earl Thirsk had to argue to get anybody even in his own nation to listen to him! And aside from his one ally in Dohlar he’s still officially on pretty much everybody else’s list of “traitors” who they can’t listen to, so if he argues they need to try something like this then that would make it even less likely they would do it. And then finally the extreme cold and the weather would make it even less likely, because the old-style guns are already crappy enough before you throw weather into it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find some sort of fallout involved here with slaves along PZ’s idea. That could work… but might not as well. Something as simple as the gold not being there would throw a nice monkey wrench into things as well. Another idea is that maybe the true value of this capture will be information. I would think it quite interesting if in the process of capturing this ship they catch an inquisition priest that knows about the “confessions” Zion is busy squeezing out of the prisoners. Merlin and Cayleb would no doubt appreciate getting that info… probably… :)


  15. robert says:

    Assuming that this is not a trap–look at where this is taking place,after all–then we will see in the next snippet (1)either the end results of this activity or (2)a quick battle. DW has a way of skipping the “stuff in the middle” to get to the end result. Which could be war with Desnar. Which will consist of destroying all their shipping and raiding and burning their ship building capacity. No land war unless (until?) Siddarmark comes in on Charis’ side. I would not be surprised to see the next snippet be the scene where the Go4 do some teeth gnashing.

    As I said, this is a pretty open-ended series if DW wants it to be.

  16. Peter Z says:

    You know, the more I see of these privateers the more they remind me of the condottiere. I’ve always hated that period of warfare for profit. So far things haven’t gotten so formalized and I doubt they ever will on Safehold. In any case it may be wise for Sharley and Cayleb to formalize privateers within the military hierarchy. Perhaps requiring a reserve commission or that all privateers must be for all intent and purposes a ‘national guard’. That would mitigate some of the potential abuses warfare for profit would incentivize.


  17. bfticardi says:

    I agree with you Robert, from what I gather listening to DW at signings I think he’s going to treat this as an open ended series. I think he’s bored with the whole Honorverse and kind of trapped into writing in it more than he likes. The whole Safehold series is a creative valve for him in my opinion. Also he set it up so that we can skip ahead a few hundred years to a more advanced Safehold after the reformation’s success and have whole new characters but with Nemue still around doing things behind the scenes.

    I think the big question isn’t how many more Safehold novels there will be, but how many more years of writing we can get out of DW.

  18. robert says:

    @17 Let us all hope that DW takes good care of himself, keeps his weight down, gets some exercise, eats properly and lives long and prospers (couldn’t resist). And maintains a bit of creativity along the way.

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Z, IIRC the condottiere warfare got ‘formalized’ because the condottiere were fighting other condottiere. The privateers are in the ‘game’ for making a profit but always run the risk of attacking a warship playing merchant ship or a merchant ship filled with troops. Under those situation, formalized combat will not happen.

  20. Virgil says:

    privateers were the next thing to pirates. Many a pirate got themselves a leter of Marqui during wartime and just kept right on taking ships when the war was over. But it was the only way a small nation could fight a naval war.
    The doing away with the Letter of Marquis was just another way that the big nation acted to prevent smaller ones from a chance.

    Take Somalia for example. All those pirates if it was allowed today could have Letters of Marquies, even better make them auxillary navy reserve declare a 200 mile border/boundary or whateve its called at sea like Chili has and simply pass a tax on all cargo passing through their waters. Then they would have an almost legal right to taking of ships.

    Terrorism is the poor man war in that its the only way a small group can fight a larger group. Under the legal definition of terrorism all are forefather here in USA were terrorist.

  21. Dan says:

    Capture new church codes?

  22. Peter Z says:

    YDRC, Drak. My point was that war was trivialized by the formalization. The true cost of war was hidden by these professionals waging “bloodless” war. The only cost was the economic one that each condottiere risked. Several hundred years of this and nobles became less averse to waging war. Heck, war became an entertainment! Is it any wonder that the 30 years war was so bloody? Wars prior to this were those formal affairs engaged by professionals dancing to well choreographed scripts both sides knew very well. By the time the nobles really understood the true cost, Germany was a shambles. I suspect that all sides may have been more willing to seek a diplomatic resolution had they viewed war with a more realistic appreciation of its destructive nature. I don’t say that’s what will happen on Safehold, only that should war become primarily a business a good deal of fomalization will almost inevitably follow.

    Anyway, that’s how that period always struck me.


  23. Mike says:

    Actually it was more the other way around. The “golden age” of piracy was mainly created by a bunch of ex-privateers.

  24. E says:

    As I recall, even in a golden age, when pirates were offered the chance to go legit and have their crimes annulled, they took it in general. Happens all the time in the mafia, except they go legit without the law in most cases. A family rises through illegal means and funnels bad money into good business until by the third generation the children have inhereted a mostly clean base of wealth. In this case, the money made from wars will spark new businesses in Charis, especially with the Silverlode developement projects. The only difference here is that the pirate situation hasn’t become as muddled to the point where Charisians will attack any and all shipping but if it goes that way I can see amnesties being issued.

  25. Peter Z says:

    @20 Virgil, claiming such a wide stretch of coastal waters is exactly what Dohlar did in the story. They claimed a heck of a lot more than they could truly police. A nation claiming such sovereignty over waters that nation can’t police borders on piracy. After all both that nation and pirates exact a cost from shipping that enter unpoliced waters. Considering Somalia’s general lawlessness ashore, any claim they make about actually policing their seas is laughable.


  26. E says:

    Wait… Somalia has police?

  27. robert says:

    Religous police.

  28. Alistair says:

    My Speculation on where this snippet is going this will be a snippet of Privateer taking revenge including a possible massacre of Church ship.

    My guess is that Symyn Fytzhyw father was either killed captured or something like that my reasons

    1. Ships name “Loyal Son,”

    2. His reason for being out there is revenge?…. “Besides, Symyn Fytzhyw hadn’t become a privateer just for the money. Not that he had any objection to piling up a satisfying heap of marks, of course, but what he really wanted to do was to hurt those bastards in Zion any way he could.”

    3. “but he still had his father’s network of contacts, including several in the independent Duchy of Fallos.” This part of the snippet indicates that though he is short on cash hence the small size of the ship he has his fathers contacts (wheres the dad?)

    Anyway just an idle guess we will find out soon enough for those of us who do not have ARC that is!

  29. robert says:

    @27 Good guesses. Nice close reading of the snippet. I could not find the name Fytzhyw in the BSRA Characters listing, thinking he might have been killed at Ferayd. But that means nothing. However, it still sounds like the cash box on the Church’s vessel is what he wants. Maybe in typical Weber style he will restrain himself from doing murder and just take prisoners.

    ARCs for TOR pubs? Ha, ha.

  30. E says:

    Well… if the ship under Church charter happens to have a priest onboard he might execute the man… Or even better, he might find some intel in a strongbox… maybe something along the lines of what the Church intends for the smaller, distant, independent nations. I mean, leeching them of resources is a given at this point, but maybe some developement for staging grounds or industry?

    If it’s typical Weber he sometimes gives his enemy a swing of luck… maybe his frozen cannons won’t fire and the Church will end up swarming him over and taking the ship.

  31. E says:

    Just thought of something: If the church is issuing bills in lieu of physical gold, then the capture of a treasure ship would be useless unless Charis decides to honor Church notes. Seeing as the issuing of Church bills is what is being done in Zebediah, if the Church finally got messages from there explaining the system, then it would be the perfect way to “pay” the borderlands on future promises under the premise that the accounting would keep the actual debts on record while the bills were sent as interchangeable currency before the gold would be paid out. I don’t think this is likely seeing as the nature of the Church is too slow to move this quickly on the fundamental level of “what is money” but top heavy structures might also move unexpectedly fast in limited areas… and the bordelands with their vulnerabilities qualify as limited areas to test new ideas that are certainly Proscription safe.

  32. Karina says:

    I agree that it has to be someone who lost someone in the Massacre. AS for it being a trap. I doubt it. Since the snippet says that they are the only privateer in this location it would be silly to set a trap in a location where noone has hunted before. You set traps in the places where you expect to find your prey. I liked this snippet. Packed a lot of information in it both historical and future potent.

  33. E @ 30:

            Very interesting thought, the using of bills as payment and paper currency.  But take it further.  Once bills start to function as currency, then Charisians who capture them can use them as currency too.

            And there are problems with bills too.  If they’re specific (the Church will only pay Merchant X face value when the war is over, plus accumulated interest), then Merchant X will soon point out that he has a payroll to meet, and he needs hard cash.  If the Church will allow Merchant X to sell the bill to Mr. Y, and will pay Mr. Y on demand, then Charisians can forge X’s assignment to Y, and collect.  Further, the necessity of discounting the bills to someone else is likely make them rather less attractive, requiring the Zion Church to pay more.  Only if the bills are bearer notes, which is most convenient for the payee, are these problems avoided.  But if they’re bearer notes, they are effectively paper money, and Charisians will be eager to capture them.

            However this works out, though, it’s likely to stimulate change in Safeholdian economies — the one thing the GoF is most eager to prevent!  It’s also going to set inflation loose, which will quite likely cause discontent among the commons in the lands loyal to the Zion Church.  Methinks another Pandora’s Jar just got opened.

    Death to the Group of Four!

  34. jarhead says:

    can any of you spell trap?

  35. E says:

    @32 The problem with bearer notes is that if they’re church bearer notes then you need a church bank to cash them in at. Charisians aren’t going to be allowed that kind of access, and given the current state of economics those notes would be literally notes, not dollars like we know them, being specific contracts to those now-wealthy citizens who will have the Church owe them until they can be paid in gold. Basically checks. The attraction of these bills to the Church will be security, the ability to send off money that will satisfy, even if others don’t exactly trust the concept of paper money it will be backed by gold, whilst having that money be worthless to Charisians if it is captured. At the same time, if the Church were to send out much more of these checks than Charis can cash (assuming Charis chooses to honor them) then they might get Charisian banks to destroy their own internal economy with inflation.

    Again, this scenario depends on the Church having been able to move fast enough to get this done; an unlikely scenario but the smartest thing the Church could do at this point to shift the privateer war in their favor when it comes to losing money ships. Reminds me of the Redemption of Althalus when he goes through all that trouble of moving around the cities of civilization and tries to rob a rich merchant’s storeroom only to find a box filled with useless sheafs of paper.

  36. Of course, he could capture the ship, and then discover he has found far more money than expected. He could also reach the ship, and have the Desnairian captain inform him that an attack will mean war between Charis and Desnairia, and on his way home would he please deliver this declaration he has now validated. This could also be the end of the scene, and the next paragraph is the harassed clergyman in Fallos trying to explain why more timber should be delivered even when old bills have not yet been paid.

  37. Peter Z says:

    @35. If the notes aren’t transferable to third parties, the holder carries all the risk of managing his business without any cash flow until he can reclaim the value of the notes. Effectively he is giving the Church a loan much like a vendor selling his products on credit. There is only so much credit a vendor can give before he is out of cash to pay his employees. Where will he get that additional liquidity? If the holder has to borrow the additional liquidity, the value of the bills need to be discounted by the cost of any borrowed operational capital the holder requires. The Church can of course pay more for the products to offset any additional expense, but that simply adds to the inflationary pressure privateer activity is already causing. Not to mention increasing incentives for graft as beaurocrats have another reason to justify higher costs for any kcikbacks they care to demand.

    If the notes are transferable, they become like paper money in that there will be someone who has access to Church banks that will buy them from Charisian privateers. They will actually be more attractive in some ways because these transferable notes can hold much more value without taking up cargo space.

    All in all, non-transferable bills would require an interconnected network of borrowing to support which depend on the security of one piece of paper, while a transferable bill is as valuable as gold and be as sought after. Both situations make that paper valuable and subject to interpretation of a corrupt Church beaurocracy. Will the Church beaurocrat actually pay upon reciept of the bill if ANY irregularities occur, like the destruction of the non-transferable bill in a fire? Will some beaurocrats honor a non-transferable bill for a cut? Will some beaurocrats honor bills they suspect of being forgeries?

    Stephen is right. Regardless of how the Church goes about paying their suppliers, the forms of payment will have value to anyone who holds them. The more inflexible the payment system the more it will increase inflation and the more it will incentivize corruption.


  38. robert says:

    Re Notes: Does Merlin have the ability to forge them? Yes, he does, and on a massive scale. What will flooding the market with that paper do to their value? Inflation will get out of hand and the Church’s paper will become truly worth nothing. The concept of paper money is still waiting to be discovered and I do not think that the GoF’s money man is a great economist. It’ll be bullion or bust for now.

  39. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Yeah, robert, I agree, I think it will be gold for now. But those are key words “for now”. I think PZ has a good point that money is going to come around eventually, and when that happens, while I agree that Merlin COULD forge lots of notes and cause economic trouble for the enemy, unless things are truly dire I don’t think he would WANT to do so. Remember that he wants to force them to start innovating and so long as it doesn’t endanger his *overall* mission (which doesn’t, necessarily, require Charis to survive, although we all feel it will) he’ll be happy to see it happen.

    The only exception is when he fears the innovation might be such a small thing with no real effect on the rest of the world which would also cause the church to become stronger and better able to defeat Charis and thus his mission. But money, as PZ points out, would cause a MASSIVE shift in the economic ideas of the world, and further innovation and change practically HAS to spring from it. So I would think Merlin would be capable of trying to disrupt the enemy economies with that but would refrain from doing so… “for now”. In the “second round”, should things occur as currently predicted, that might well change, but at this point I expect it would be a different story.


  40. JVC says:

    @ Peter Z (comment 37)
    As Said to E in comment 16 of snippet 31, it is “Bureaucracy” and “Bureaucrat” a word based on french “bureau” (which means office or desk), not “beaurocracy” and “beaurocrat”.

    On the subject of Church bills I believe that it was described as being done by a local church representative as a mean to start whatever it was that had to be started without waiting for gold from the church. A very temporary measure due to an exceptional situation.


  41. Peter Z says:

    Robert and RH, agreed bullion or bust.

    If Desnair uses this incident to declare a more vigorous war against Charis, the privateers will simply have more prey to fund their activity. Prey that is funded by many gold mines. That alone may convince Gorjah to bite the bullet and make peace with Sharley. Tarot will see huge revenues as the primary provisioner of privateers. Their trading houses will rake it in buying liberated goods. Their financeers will see some increase in funding these operations. Adding Desnair to the target list would be a massive windfall for Tarot and the Empire.

    If this snippet leads to a Charisian sponsored massacre, then things will get tricky as Sharley finds a way to punish the miscreant without giving up any sovereignty or moral authority.

    Of the two possibilities, dragging Desnair into the war has the greatest upside for Charis. Although, Sharley could capitalize on the latter as well.


  42. robert says:

    Again, on paper money… I cannot remember whether the printing press has been “discovered” or if it is proscribed. If it is in use, then paper money may not be far off, especially with Merlin to show them how to make it (more or less) forgery-proof.

    All the other speculation here on this snippet has made me very curious. I think I will stay up a bit late and see tomorrow’s snippet tonight.

  43. RobertHuntingdon says:

    PZ, why would dragging Desnair into the war be a good thing? Seriously. I mean, OK, it increases the privateering options, but are they really prohibited from taking them right now anyway? One or two of those ships disappears and its just bad weather or bad luck. Now if they start disappearing wholesale that’s going to make it obvious what’s really happening. But until then they can still take a few here and there without a real problem I think.

    What other benefit might they get? Desnair isn’t just going to start mining gold and shipping it around the world for the fun of it. Sure they HAVE the mines but do they just mine it and then ship it out? Not likely. They probably use that as a major source of national income, so then the government spends that to buy things it wants. And when those are Charisian goods, Charis gets that money anyway. And when its not, Desnair isn’t going to pack the money up and ship it to their suppliers themselves, they’ll use it to pay for what they buy in their own ports and then the seller will take it home on his own ship. With the exception of shipments of their tithes, which likely only happens once or so a year, they probably don’t load up gold in large quantities ever.

    Eliminating the Desnairian merchant fleet (what there is of it) might improve the options for Charis to transport goods… maybe…. But even with the Siddarmarkian fraudulent flags trick, its still going to be quite hard for Charis to actually meet the demand it creates that way. Unless they are trying to collapse the Desnairian economy, it would be counterproductive. And they can’t do so even if they wanted to anyway. Not completely at any rate. There are too many outside nations that Desnair could buy stuff from where it could be shipped to it overland. Sure that’s expensive but they do have the money to do it with. And given that it is an expansionist empire in the first place, they’d be utterly nuts not to be fairly self-sufficient beforehand, so I suspect that they aren’t going to have that much they are buying from outside that they can’t at least temporarily live without in a war situation. Likely much of what they are buying are luxuries and “useful but non-critical” goodies from Charis and/or Harchong.

    Now I’d be highly unsurprised to find that Desnair is helping with the Church building program in some fashion or another. Either in building ships themselves (possibly) and/or building shipyards so that they can help out in the future and/or supplying mercenaries for the ships. But since they aren’t actively engaged yet, I don’t see the benefit in dragging them in at this time. So what do you think I’m missing?


  44. RobertHuntingdon says:

    BTW, when I suggested that “one or two” Desnairian ship could disappear I obviously was thinking that the ship would be captured and then the crew either imprisoned indefinitely or “disappeared”. So long as the crew was not heard from again (at least until after a formal declaration of war) then they could get away with it quite easily.


  45. Peter Z says:

    I am likely overthinking this.

    Desnair, Harchong and the Temple Lands all primarily use either slaves or serfs as labor. Those are the least efficient uses of labor one can find. Their profit margins are very small relative to the assets that generate those profits. They need a heck of a lot more labor, land and resources to generate a similar output as Charis does. That means that the suporting infrastructure for these revenue generating operations (farms, mines etc.) are bigger as well. It also means that the amount of liquid wealth they have accrued is miniscule relative to the equity they have in these operations. Their cash on hand doesn’t cover their operations for long. So as the Church sucks up all the copper to produce cannon iron to produce weapons, wood to produce ships and trained artisans to transform the raw materials into finished goods, these asset intensive operations can’t fullfil their maintenance needs. The war is hurting these folks badly already. Why else did that Temple Lands factor bypass the Charisian embargo?

    Desnair is suffering all these problems and they haven’t yet felt the bite of voracious privateers. They can still get some goods at exorbitant prices shipped from further away. Take away the seaborne trade routes and these operations will starve for support, since the Church is already sucking up all the closer in resources for its needs. Tools wear out, buildings deteriorate and most importantly fewer buyers for their products. High fixed costs and rising with decreasing revenues and insufficient cash resrves, one can’t spell disaster better than that.

    If Desnair enters the war, Charisian seawolves will send those nobles into revolt against the crown. Either that or watch all their capital intensive assets dissipate. Assets that take years to develop in the case of people (slaves or serfs). What greater blow to the Church can there be than a popular rebellion caused by a King’s supporting Church demands?

    That’s why I think Desnauir entering the war is good for Charis.


  46. robert says:

    @45 Right. It is always guns OR butter. Guns and butter makes for really serious inflation unless a way to throttle demand is found.

  47. E says:

    Butter the guns!

    Speaking of which, I hope Fytzhyw’s thawed his cannons.

    On a lighter note, every time I hear a name sounding remotely like Fitzhume I will forever remember Spies Like Us.

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