I don’t know why this missed its scheduled time, but here it is.


He twitched his head in the direction of the taproom’s shuttered windows, and the man who’d assumed the name of Dahryus chuckled.

“At least it should mean you’re unlikely to meet anyone who might wonder where you’ve been, Father,” he pointed out, relaxing his own security rules in recognition that all of those remaining already knew one another’s identities. “In fact, that might be the very reason God provided this little shower.”

“If He did, I’m sure He knows best, My lord,” the priest said. “On the other hand, not every task God sends us is equally enjoyable.”

“No,” Dahryus said, his tone and expression both darkening. “No, it isn’t.”

“My Lord — I mean, Master Dahryus –” one of the others began, his voice quiet in the rushing-water sound of the thunderstorm.

“I think we can be a little less circumspect at this point, Mytrahn,” Bishop Mylz Halcom said.

“Yes, My Lord. Thank you.” The other man smiled briefly, but his obvious unhappiness didn’t ease appreciably. “I was just going to ask . . . is this task really necessary?”

“Unfortunately, I believe the answer is yes,” Halcom said. “It’s not the sort of thing I ever thought God would call me to do, and I don’t expect it to be easy for any of us. Yet the truth is, my sons, that when Shan-wei works her evil in the world of mortals, sometimes men who stand for the Light find themselves called to hard tasks.”

The man who’d asked the question nodded, but his expression remained troubled, and Halcom gave him a gentle, sad smile.

“When Sharleyan voluntarily joined with Cayleb in his attack upon Mother Church, she made herself an enemy of God, Mytrahn,” he said. “I’ve never actually met her, of course. Everything I’ve ever heard of her would seem to indicate she’s always been a good ruler, with a deep interest in justice and the well-being of her people. But whatever she may have been in the past, she no longer is. It may well be she truly believes what she and Cayleb are doing is God’s will. If so, however, both of them are wrong. And, in many ways, a good and sincere person mistakenly serving Shan-wei’s ends, with absolutely no evil intention, is the most deadly threat of all. Those who openly and obviously serve corruption are easily denounced, easily discredited. Those who fall into sin through good but misguided intentions and mistaken understanding often sound reasonable and convincing. They have no evil motives, however evil the ultimate outcome of their actions may be, and people such as that are far more seductive than the open and deliberate enemies of God.

“That’s always true, but it takes on an even greater significance in Sharleyan’s case, I’m afraid. Just look at how her popularity here in Charis is already working to bolster Cayleb and the other schismatic leadership, even in the face of excommunication and interdict.”

Heads nodded around the table, and more than one face tightened. The writs of excommunication for Cayleb Ahrmahk and Maikel Staynair, along with the proclamation of the interdiction of the entire Kingdom of Charis, had arrived less than two five-days earlier. The shock, however, had been less profound than one might have anticipated, given the severity of the penalties involved, and there was very little sign of any significant reaction against the authority of the Crown or of the archbishop of the Church of Charis. Partly, no doubt, that was because Staynair and Cayleb had foreseen the probability of such an action from the very beginning and had carefully warned their supporters that it might be coming. Another major factor was that the Church itself in Charis had blithely ignored the proclamations. Despite the interdict, churches were open and sacraments were administered. When the priesthood scorned the legitimate decrees and proclamations of Mother Church, how could the laity be blamed for following suit? Especially when the very grounds for the schismatics’ rejection of Mother Church’s authority further undercut the legitimacy of those writs through their scorching condemnation of the corruption of the vicarate which had issued them?

But there was another factor, as well, Halcom felt certain. Sharleyan had not been excommunicated, obviously because no one in Zion had anticipated the possibility of her marriage to Cayleb when the writs were originally issued two months earlier. The fact that she hadn’t been, coupled with the way in which she had taken the heart of Charis by storm, made her a sort of legitimating source of the authority and fealty the Church had formally stripped away from Cayleb.

“At the moment,” he continued, “Sharleyan’s very reputation as a good and just ruler, the fact that she’s so likable, has put a smiling face on Shan-wei’s corruption. That’s bad enough. But she genuinely believes in what she’s doing. She hasn’t been misled or deceived by Cayleb, and her commitment, in my judgment, is every bit as powerful as his own. She isn’t going to allow herself to be used as a weapon against something in which she truly believes. That’s why I believe our friend in the Palace is mistaken.”

“I’m afraid you’re right about that,” the priest who’d shed the poncho said heavily. “I believe he’s sincere, although I’m also inclined to think his motivations aren’t quite as selfless as he says. In fact, I think they aren’t quite as selfless as he truly believes they are. And, of course, there are all of those other, more personal, factors involved in his thinking. But however sincere he may be, he simply doesn’t want to face hard, unpleasant facts.”

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43 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — Snippet 45

  1. evilauthor says:

    Someone in the Bar mentioned that it was only in Charis that all parties are motivated by good intentions. Everywhere else seems to have selfish motives coloring their decision making.

    I think that’s a good insight,

  2. Maggie says:

    I think the “friend in the Palace” is Uncle. He thinks that Sharley has been “misled or deceived” by Cayleb. He may be the well-meaning cat’s paw the bad guys will use to get at Sharley. He may end up taking a bullet for his mistake…

  3. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Evilauthor, as I said on the Bar, it may be a matter of those people not in Charis that we’ve seen. Historically, both sides of religion controvercies have had people acting from true convections.

  4. Peter Z says:

    @2 Maggie, you may be right although from what the Bishop said Uncle is not willing to go as far as this group is willing to go. I suspect that Uncle will be implicated because the “Father” in the snippet may very well be Uncle’s confessor or advisor in some other capacity. It all boils down to choices and the actions stemming from those choices. How will Sharley act when Uncle is implicated but no definitive proof is available? Will Uncle cross the line between strong disagreement and treason? How will the addition of a child (as George suggested last snippet) complicate or simplify these decisions? I really can’t wait to buy this book to find out.

    @3 Drak, DW wrote the book and his will be done in it. That will suggests strongly that only in Grace (Charis) do good actions comply with Devine purpose. As the Bishop said in this snippet, good intentions aren’t enough, they don’t make you right. The flip side is the Circle. They are right and have good intensions, but their actions are not in Grace and aren’t in compliance with God’s will. You are correct about both sides of a controversy being driven by people of conviction, yet DW has almost universally placed the principal characters with conviction in Charis. In other places the distribution of those with true conviction is less dense and their actions aren’t consistent with the creator (of this story)/Creator. Had the Circle succeeded prior to OAR, Charis would have had a more difficult time correcting Langehorne’s abomination.

    This may not be important to the book, but I find a sort symetry to this plot device.


  5. Maggie says:

    @4 Peter, I agree with you that Uncle is not going to set up Sharley for the knackers. I worry that he might be thinking: “Gee, if I could just get her to listen to Go4’s side of it she might repent…” Fatuous, I know, but people who combine love and faith don’t necessarily think clearly. I can see Uncle throwing himself in the path of an assassin’s knife/bullet in remorse…

  6. Peter Z says:

    @5 Definite agreement, Maggie. I suspect however that DW has quite a bit more angst to throw at his beloved characters than such a simple (as in straight forward)act of sacrifice. Ruminate a bit longer on how much more angst he can heap on Uncle, Sharley, Cayleb, the Bishop and the readers. After doing that pick a scenario moderately high on your list for angst generation accross the board and I suspect you will be closer to what will actually happen.


  7. Ian Darley says:

    If Sharlayen is injured in an attack but survives with her uncle clearly the person who gave access to the assasins we’ll have the crisis of confidence everyone has been circling. Sharlayen will be mentally wounded by her uncle’s complicity in the plot, closely followed by her thoughts on Merlin and Cayleb and “the secret.” Her uncle will have to come to terms (assuming he survives, and I suspect he will) with his part in the assasination attempt, (will he see the Go4 for what they are, or will he blame the local loyalists who “misunderstood their orders.”

  8. AVD says:

    first off, glad I checked back. :)

    2nd. The Uncle seems to be the best bet for this guy in the Palace. Now the passage seems to indicate he thinks that Sharlayen can be convinced to repent. So rather than an assassination attempt from him or him letting the assassins in, I suspect he’ll try to convince her to leave. this will be what helps foil this plot, cause he won’t let them kill her. Probably not, anyway. If he tries to kill her, then she’ll have to take him down. If he lets them in and then saves her? Don’t know.

    3rd. Now, I’m making an assumption Merlin would be smart enough to bug the Uncle. He knows the Uncle is a possible danger. If he has, then there’s a chance Merlin will know about the danger. Even if he won’t go himself, Charis can still be alerted through OWL. Another way for Sharlayen to realize the secret.
    Of Course, Merlin could be out of the loop…

  9. E says:

    I can imagine Merlin sitting up strait from his “sleep” and swearing when OWL pings him with this intel. The only people Merlin would be able to get an advanced warning to would be Zherneau’s and the college dean. Given the Loyalist insurgents’ tendencies under Mylz Halcolm I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried for an assassination at a party seeing as they have gone for very public displays. Now, I can also imagine the attempt taking place at a party and Sharleyan keeping guards nearby but out of sight to spring her own trap if she gets advanced warning.

  10. robert says:

    #9 Merlin has “flown” intel into Wave Thunder’s window (via OWL) before. If he knows about this, then the cat is out of the bag already and Wave Thunder is in action. Plus, all the principles in the plot are known and only need to be scooped up. We can be sure that that is not the case, otherwise why bother with this plot thread? Angst to the max.

  11. Chuck S. says:

    Assuming a certain number of circumlocutions have been used consistently by the plotters, would OWL have reported these conversations?

    Everyone in the country must speak Sharleyan’s name twice a day, and with a war on there are a lot of discussions of violence. OWL’s filters have to eliminate a lot of conversations or he would bury Wave Thunder in garbage.

    I haven’t seen words like assassination, kill, rebellion and so on used in conjunction with Sharleyan’s name & OWL is a pretty literal minded AI. After the fact, Merlin may be able to assemble enough data from OWL’s memory to find every plotter, but the plotters use of false names and implications rather than direct statements may have kept them below the priority level that would get them in the “interest to humans” category.

  12. robert says:

    Could that reluctant plotter be Sharly’s confessor? We know he never came right out and committed himself to the schism. Just wondering.

  13. Kim S says:

    In rereading Ch 20 of BRSA, Merlin had no warning of the assaination attempt on Maikel. He just happened to be in attendance. Also in Off Armageddon Reef with how Nimue’s program was changed, instantaneous downloads are not an option. The information is either verbal or printed. Just as with bin Laden today, everything can’t be known.

    The Father could be the Uncle’s confessor and when the Uncle either finds out or is caught in the middle of the attempt, I expect him to act in the best interests of the Empress.

    But where does she keep her pistols in a court gown?

  14. Kurt says:

    Not to gloat or anything – but the status of my online order for BHD is saying “delivered” which means I have a very nice present waiting for me when I get home.

    Here’s hoping the 2 year old goes to bed early….

    No more short/painful snippets for me! Yippee!

  15. Peter Z says:

    @12 Nicely done, Robert. I think you hit it on the head especially since Father-going-back-to-the-Palace is inded a priest and Uncle is so very obvious.

    Ping the B&N staffer! When does that book arrive on your shelves? They haven’t made it to my local store as of half an hour ago.


  16. AVD says:

    I don’t think its her confessor. I don’t know why, but I don’t get the feeling of him being one of the people who would plan this sort of thing. oh its possible, but my gut says its not him.

    either that, or its telling me its hungry…

  17. Olegreyowl says:

    Sigh.. not yet. None of the North Atl. B&N stores have it yet, but the dist center is showing them so day or two. Can’t wait!!! Gonna pester Brandon (our receiving manager) tomorrow morning to dig through the shipment if it comes in. :)

  18. Virgil says:

    To me it;s pretty obvious what going to happen. as mention the signal ratio to noise will prevent Merlin from having advance warning.
    They will implied to the Uncle that they will Kidnap her to remove her from teh evil influence and keep her in the church protection till the Evil Ones are defeated. Therefore, being a true idiot or believer, he will “open the door” for them. They knowing their chance of doing such are really plannning on an assasination. Next maybe semi-public. She is not really having parties and such while caleb is away.
    So a coucilor meeting will be it. Or a dinner where moe then just routine [eople but not really a big gathering. More then two or three will be in the group, uncle knows they will have to take our her gurards so he will not be surprise at a large group entering.
    There will be death, desruction and a real mess, She will survive maybe injuried but no seriously, Her Uncle will have been caught finger in teh cookiejar. Some prisoner taken, NOW we show the true angst. What does she do with citizen dead and her uncle not just impicated but proven guilt. And the worst of it is, he will readily confess to her what he did. So what does she do. See that the real wquestion here. All eyes in the empire and outside it will be on her.
    She will do the :RIGHT: thing. lol whatever that is.

  19. Ed T. says:

    I wonder if her bodyguard, Sergeant Seahamper might be the guilty party. He expressed some doubts about the new Empire of Charis at one point in “By Schism Rent Asunder”. He would probably find it easier to slip out of the palace in his off-duty time than the Duke Uncle. It seems more likely that Merlin would sic a snarc on Uncle than on the sergeant.

  20. robert says:

    Virgil, if you are right (shudder) then we will see Mylz Halcolm’s head on a pike outside the palace walls. Uncle’s too. And adios, Seahamper. This scenario sounds as bloody as when Honor took Hell.

  21. E says:

    @19 I believe the Church members would get the dignified burial they didn’t give Erayk Dynnys.

  22. Peter Z says:

    @18 That certainly piles up the angst is heaps and droves, Virgil. AAMoF that is a down right reign of terror level of angst. I did mention to look only moderately high on the list did I not? The trouble I see is that Uncle is not stupid. Uncle and Green Mountain helped secure Chisholm for 2 monarchs. I would find any argument that Uncle did not suspect the true goals of these conspirators simply bogus. I would find Sharley’s confessor easier to believe in the role of dupe.


  23. robert says:

    @20 Maybe. After they sort out the bits.

  24. Peter Z says:

    @22 Will they gut the Kraken for said bits or simply wait out the natural process of such things to sort and assemble the bits?

  25. robert says:

    @23 As the kids say, ewww.
    I think that somebody will be captured in the melee, and confess. The ensuing roundup will get everybody left who was involved in the plot. Since it is treason and murder, all will hang. Including the churchmen-plotters. And, per Virgil, if Uncle was involved and survived, he too will be executed. Even if Sharly cries.

  26. robert says:

    Oh, I almost forgot. Cayleb will be pissed: Hektor is toast.

  27. Karina says:

    This snippet does say that they are dropping cover names because they already all know each other. So, the unhappy person from the palace is Mytrahn. The impression I get is that Mytrahn is the priest and the one from the castle. I just looked it up and Sharyly’s confessers name is Raiz Maiklyn. I think that this ‘priest’ is perhaps an assistant.

    As for Merlin missing some important information, it has been stated that OWL transmits recordings to Merlin pre-filtered per certain criteria. There is a clip where Merlin KNOWS that he’s missing important information, but even not needing sleep there’s too much for him to review without OWL’s help. Also, I remember someone posting a long time ago that Weber let slip at a con that this gap in Merlin’s info gathering ‘would bit him in the butt’ and I guess this is one of those details.

    The others are probably the transport and confession tortures of the Charisian ship people and the hidden group of church folks led by Wylson.

  28. Maggie says:

    @13: But where does she keep her pistols in a court gown?

    Personally, I prefer a pearl handled revolver in a beaded evening bag, but since we are not yet that high tech I would put them in my garters….

  29. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sergeant Seahamper’s doubts about the Empire seemed more to be more about the marriage with Cayleb than about religious matters.

  30. Maggie says:

    Agree, Drak. Besides, Seahamper is WAY too security conscious to betray info to ANYONE.

  31. Hide pistols in an ornate gown? The limit is that there is a maximum weight she can carry and stand without assistance. The woman at the local gunowners group who teaches concealed carry — and many other things — for women does mention that there is a practical limit above which you tead to clank, but she was wearing a pantsuit over a slim figure. However, that limit was iirc *twelve*. In a really flowing gown the limit is a bit larger, I expect.

    One might wonder if the rapid reload for muzzleloaders is available to a select few. That has everything in one packet, and a pin through the touchhole to expose to the spark. Cannon bag separately because the powder load on a cannon is a variable number of bags.

    I am, however, reminder of the one-legged admiral who was presented with a brace of four rifled pistols. Shooting dead from a distance the people shouting orders is likely effective here.

  32. Maggie says:

    @31 Actually George, antique leg ligature was pretty darned useful in it’s day. Like the stock in the hunting field, it could be used for anything from a bandage to a rope to get a horse out of a mire. You could use it to control wayward children ( like in Jane Eyre), or even as a makeshift garrotte (Uncle Silas).

    A Captain bold from Halifax who was in winter quarters,
    Seduced a maid who hanged herself next morning in her garters.

    Happy, happy times….

  33. Peter Z says:

    @32 Oh dear, Maggie, I hope that you aren’t channeling again. If you are this story line will get ugly indeed. Sigh. I hope not. There is just too many miserable things going on right now. I could use some hopeful triumph …or perhaps the triumph of hope.


  34. The image of Sharleyan garroting the wayward Bishop, describing all in a long letter to Cayleb, and including at the end the line that “some believe that events around an unborn child influence its later thoughts, in which case loyalists taking arms to defend Empress and Empire will likely have a favorable effect on our to-be-born (by the way, expected in another five months, since the start must have been just before your departure)” comes to mind.

    I agree on leg stockings of period being effective. Knitting needles are far more dangerous, and it was hysterically funny when rather late the airline security people started telling grannies they had to put their knitting in their luggage.

  35. RobertHuntingdon says:

    No kidding on the security joke GP. I’d really like to see them adopt the Freehold method instead. Everybody carries but when boarding they unload it until needed. Any terrorist wanting to face up to THAT much firepower has no brains at all.


  36. robert says:

    Ah RH. Most of the time the only need is to throttle the inattentive parent(s) of the screaming/squirming child in the adjoining seats. And perhaps the child… But we can’t always get what we want or need. Fortunately, for the race.

  37. RobertHuntingdon says:

    I’m not so sure about that, robert. :)

  38. KenJ says:

    @34 Actually, we were worried at the time that they might knit an Afghan….:)

    @35 New security question: “Do you have any guns or knives? No? Which do you want….”

    (yes I actually do work at security occasionally.)

  39. Palmer Sperry says:

    @34 They may not want you taking knitting needles onboard, but you can still take pencils and according to my old landlady you can still knit with a pair of pencils!

  40. Karina says:

    From my understanding a womans spiked heeled shoe can be lethal. Too bad they are a royal pain to wear, and can be almost as dangerous to the wearer.

  41. Karina says:

    And considering the skills and judgement of the average person, the last thing I want is for them to be carrying. Just last week a person stowed a hand gun in their belt and shot them selves in the foot. Then there’s the guy who looked into the barrel of his rifle when it didn’t fire to see if he’d loaded it – of course it went off, luckily just grazing his ear.

  42. Maggie says:

    @41 Too true, Karina! Just remember that a bullet can go anywhere, steel shot will go everywhere and a steel blade will go SOMEWHERE!

    A roll of quarters in a lace hankie makes a great set of brass knuckles. An oblong silk scarf knotted at the center with a roll of nickles….the fashion options are endless.

  43. Maggie says:

    I won’t even get into the possibilities presented by gemstone jewelry.

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