Alyk Lizardherd, Captain of the galleon Wind Hoof swore inventively as his lookout finally got around to reporting the ship headed purposefully to meet him.

“Very well, Master Hairaym,” he said in a disgusted tone when he’d finally exhausted his supply of profanity. “Thanks to that blind idiot at the masthead, it’s too late to try to run for it. Go ahead and clear away the guns.”
Such as they are, and what there are of them, he did not add out loud.
“Yes, Sir.” Gorjah Hairaym, Wind Hoof’s first lieutenant, was a good twelve years older than his skipper, who was no spring hedge lizard, himself. In the cold, gray light of the wind-whipped afternoon, the older man’s unshaven face looked wrinkled and old as he acknowledged the order. From the look in his eyes, he knew as well as Lizardherd just how pointless the instruction was if that other vessel was what both of them were confident it was. However —
“And I suppose you’d better tell Lieutenant Aivyrs, too,” Fytzhyw said heavily.
“Yes, Sir,” Hairaym acknowledged, then turned away and began bawling orders to man the galleon’s pop gun broadside of catamounts. They were heavier than the wolves most merchant galleons carried in swivel mounts on their bulwarks, yet the shot they threw still weighed little more than three pounds. They might have been enough to discourage most converted merchantmen which turned into privateers (or turned outright pirate), but they were scarcely likely to dissuade a Charisian privateer.
And that’s what that bastard is, just as sure as Hell’s a mantrap, Lizardherd thought grimly. Its sure as Hell not another merchant ship, that’s for certain! Not heading towards us with all the craziness going on in the world just now. Besides, that idiot at the masthead may not have noticed her coming for a day or two, but he’s sure she’s Charisian-rigged.
To be fair to his lookout — which, at that particular moment, was remarkably low on Lizardherd’s list of priorities — he knew the man was cold, two-thirds frozen, and no doubt exhausted as he awaited the end of his stint in the crow’s-nest. He was, however, an experienced seaman, which meant his identification of the oncoming vessel as Charisian was almost certainly accurate. Relatively few ships outside Charis had yet adopted the new sail plans Charis had introduced, after all. Wind Hoof had been scheduled to be re-rigged on the new plan almost three months ago. She would have been, too, if Lizardherd’s contact in Resmair hadn’t quietly passed the word that the Church’s shipping factors were being chary about awarding charters to ship masters who seemed too eager to adopt the heretics’ innovations.
I should’ve told him to piss up a rope, Lizardherd thought now, grumpily. Sure, it’s a fat charter. Actually, he knew, there was enough graft going on that his charter fee — which he was already charging at better than half again his normal rate — was probably no more than two-thirds (if that much) of what the Church factors were reporting to Zion when they sent in their accounts. But no charter’s fat enough to get killed over!
He looked up at the set of his own canvas — his inefficient canvas, compared to the hunter sweeping down upon him on the wind — and grimaced. As he’d already told Hairaym, there was absolutely no point trying to outrun the other ship. And there was no point hauling down his Church pennant at this point, either, since the oncoming brig had to have already seen it. Not to mention the fact that Lieutenant Lewk Aivyrs, the Temple Guard officer whose detachment had been sent along to keep an eye on the money chests, would probably have a little to say about any such outbreak of prudence.
I guess I’m just going to have to hope that fellow over there doesn’t want to start a war with Desnair on top of everything else, he thought morosely. And fat fucking chance of that!
* * * * * * * * * *
“She’s Desnairian-flagged, Sir,” Fytzhyw’s first officer pointed out as the range fell to a thousand yards.
“Yes, Tobys, she is,” Fytzhyw agreed.
“I just thought I’d point it out,” Tobys Chermyn said mildly. “We’re not at war with Desnair, at the moment, you know.”
“I am aware of the fact,” Fytzhyw acknowledged, turning to raise one eyebrow at his shorter lieutenant.
“Well, I was just thinking, it’s sort of nice to have someone we’re not at war with. Yet, at least.” Chermyn grinned at him. “Do you think we’re about to change that?”
“I don’t know. And, to be totally honest about it, I don’t really care, either,” Fytzhyw told him, swinging back to look at the high-sided, wallowing Desnairian galleon. “First, Desnair hasn’t got a navy. Second, Desnair is already busy building a navy for those sanctimonious pricks in Zion, so we might as well already be at war with them. And, third, Tobys, if they don’t want to get themselves taken, then they shouldn’t be flying that fucking pennant.”
Chermyn nodded without speaking. The practice of flying a Church pennant whenever a vessel was in the service of the Church went back almost to the Creation itself. Traditionally, there were very good reasons for that, including the fact that only the heartiest — or most insane — pirate was going to trifle with a Church galleon. Those traditional reasons had been . . . somewhat undermined of late, however. It seemed to be taking a while for the rest of the world to figure out that flying that pennant these days had much in common with waving a red flag at a great dragon, at least where Charis was concerned, but Chermyn supposed old habits were hard to break.
And to be fair, not even every Charisian’s as pissed off by the sight of it as the Old Man, he reflected.
In point of fact, Chermyn was at least a few years older than Fytzhyw, but it never crossed his mind to use another label for Loyal Son’s master. Symyn Fytzhyw struck most people as older than his years. Partly that was his size, no doubt — he stood a head taller than most other Charisians — but more of it stemmed from his indisputable solidness. And not just the solidness of his undeniably brawny muscle and bone, either. For all his youth, Fytzhyw was a purposeful, disciplined man, which helped to explain how someone his age not only captained but owned his own galleon.
But he was also a man of iron convictions. No one could accuse him of being narrowminded, or of refusing to look before he leapt, yet once his convictions were engaged, there was no shaking him. Chermyn knew Fytzhyw had entertained his doubts initially about the wisdom of the schism between the Church of Charis and the Temple loyalists. Those doubts had weakened with King Haarahld’s death, and they’d vanished completely as he’d seen Archbishop Maikel and Emperor Cayleb turning their words into reality. The attempt to assassinate the archbishop in his own cathedral, what had happened to Archbishop Erayk, the lies coming out of Zion, and the Ferayd Massacre had replaced those initial doubts with fiery commitment.
And the Old Man doesn’t do anything by halves, Chermyn told himself. Which suits me right down to the ground, when you come to it. He bared his teeth at the Desnarian galleon. I wonder if that fellow over there’s smart enough to realize just how quickly he’d better get that pennant down?

About Eric Flint

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56 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 37

  1. E says:

    Aha! Was finally able to re-access the online map of Safehold and I notice that only southern cities in Corisande have been marked, this indicates to me a southern invasion of the country with a march on the capital that may continue to the eastern cities.

  2. robert says:

    In defense of Galileo, the essential facts were:
    He had lost of many of his defenders in Rome because of publication of his “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” He was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633. The sentence of the Roman Inquisition was in three essential parts:
    1. Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the center of the universe, that the Earth is not at its center and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.
    2. He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest, under which he spent the remainder of his life.
    3. His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

    So…science vs. Church (esp. the Pope). He did piss off the Pope, but it is not clear that that was advertent. But Charis certainly pissed off the Church in the form of the Go4.

    Innovation is more than tweaking. It implies an underlying technology, whether the innovator understands that or not. Scientific discoveries are ever so quickly, these days, turned into new technologies; techniques are developed to even more rapidly exploit those technologies, and so we progress (or not, some folks think). So will Safehold.

  3. Karina says:

    Regarding scienctific thought vs. religion: Scientific thought is all about questions and not accepting an explanation without testing it. In BSRA you have the discussion regarding how suddenly the industrialist is starting to wonder WHY metals mix and pool in the way that they do and how that thought pattern scares him a little. Religion is about faith and accepting what you are taught. It is about not trying to figure out why and how things work the way they do. Why bother when the answer is…that’s the way God made it or because God made the universe, it’s too complicated to understand.

    It’s the difference between a fundamentalist who says that you should pray for healing rather than going to a doctor because it’s gods will that you’re sick vs someone who goes to the doctor because the doctor has the talent and knowlege to heal.

    Then there is the battle between the secular and religion and the separation of church and state. Fundamentalist people don’t want that separation.

  4. David says:

    I disagree completely with your definition of religion as being only about what you are taught. I consider myself to be a ‘fundamentalist’, meaning that I believe in the Bible as the revealed Word of God. However, I don’t rely on others to tell me what those words mean, I read it myself and form my own judgment on the meaning and value of the words. Additionally, while I may pray for healing if I get sick I will go the doctor. I look at it as God providing healing through the knowledge possessed by the doctor. (just to be cleat this is not a blanket agreement with “God helps those who help themselves”)

    Concerning the Science v. Religion, if you have ever read Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632; in Italian Dialogo dei due massimi sistemi del mondo) you will find that Galileo is actually calling the Pope an idiot (indirectly). Yes, I have read it, and it is rather demeaning to poor Simplicio (the pope). His crime was really that he was a rude person and pissed of the local potentate (the pope).

  5. Drak Bibliophile says:

    David, what’s worse is that the Pope Galileo called an idiot was his patron. For that matter, Galileo didn’t always have his facts correct and was extremely rude to anybody (including his fellow scientists) that disagreed with him.

  6. Chuck S. says:

    I read an item many years ago that explored the concept that Rome (the republic and later the empire) did not develop any form of advanced technology and progress into an industrial revolution because of a widespread belief that the Gods determined all natural law the same way man did. If a God changed his mind, natural laws changed so any attempt to define natural laws obviously futile. It was held that cause and effect were only related in ways the Gods made them related, and that those relationships were constantly changing.

    Can anyone tell me where this treatise is, or it’s title or author? It was in some kind of sociology or anthropology text (or collection of articles) in use at the college undergrad level around 1965-1970. I think it was an abridgement of someone’s doctorate or perhaps master’s thesis.


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