The Temple,
City of Zion,
The Temple Lands

“Well, this ought to be an interesting dog and dragon show,” a voice muttered quietly, and Vicar Samyl Wylsynn looked up as his brother settled into the chair beside him.

“Not, perhaps, the most tactful — or safe — thing to say,” Samyl replied even more quietly.

“Maybe not, but that doesn’t make it inaccurate,” Hauwerd Wylsynn half-growled.

“No,” Samyl agreed.

“Well, then.” Hauwerd shrugged, and Samyl grimaced.

Actually, there was a sufficiently wide moat of empty chairs around the two Wylsynn brothers that the likelihood of anyone overhearing a private conversation between them was virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, Samyl hadn’t survived this long by running unnecessary risks. Still, he understood his younger brother’s profoundly mixed feelings as they waited, along with perhaps forty or fifty other vicars and senior archbishops, for the tribunal to convene.

How many years have we been collecting evidence of corruption — especially in the Office of Inquisition? Samyl asked himself. We must have enough of it to fill a dozen trunks by now! Large trunks. Yet with all those years, all that effort, we have yet to secure a serious indictment of anyone. And now this.
There had been times when Samyl had been sorely tempted to abandon his quixotic quest. The chances of success, even if he somehow, someday, found himself stepping into the office Clyntahn and his successors and corrupted so thoroughly, were slim. He knew that. He’d always known it. And even if he somehow achieve that goal, it would be only to find himself battling literally generations of entrenched opposition and self-interest. Yet he was who he was, and the unending (and generally thankless) task of reforming the Church and purging it of its many abuses had become a Wylsynn legacy.

And a damned risky “legacy” it is, too! he thought moodily.

He’d actually preferred charges against at least a dozen of his fellow Schuelerites over the years, whenever he could produce the necessary evidence without exposing the Circle’s broader, covert, and far riskier activities. At least twice he’d had absolutely conclusive evidence that the Inquisitors in question had been using their office (and all the grisly threats associated with it) to extort money out of completely innocent men and women. And once he’d had almost absolutely conclusive evidence of murder. Yet the most severe punishment he’d ever managed to secure had been no more than a one-year suspension from the Order of Schueler . . . and that had been for one of the extortionists, not the murderer.

It sickened him that his own order, the order charged with preserving the sanctity of the Church’s own soul, was even more corrupt than the other orders it was supposed to guide and police, yet there was no point in pretending that wasn’t true. And the worst of it was that many of those corrupt Inquisitors didn’t even realize they were corrupt. They were part of a system far larger than themselves, performing their duties exactly the way they’d been taught to perform them by Zhaspahr Clyntahn and his immediate predecessors. The thought that they genuinely believed they were serving God’s will was frightening, yet he’d long ago come to the conclusion that — for many of them — it was also true.

I sometimes wonder if even Clyntahn truly realizes how corrupt he is. In fact, I doubt he does. He doesn’t see it as corruption at all, which is probably the most damnable thing about him. I think he genuinely sees no discrepancy between what he wants and the will of God. They’re exactly the same thing, which is why he’s justified in doing anything — anything at all — to achieve his own ends. Anything that maintains and strengthens the Church’s authority (and his) is good and godly; anything that threatens the Church’s authority (and his) is the work of Shan-wei herself. And no one else, except for the Circle, cares a damned thing about it as long as it keeps working for them, keeps squeezing out money and power and privilege for them.

The truth was, although Samyl hadn’t told anyone, even among his brothers of the Circle, that he actually agreed with Maikel Staynair and the Church of Charis. The Church of God Awaiting was hopelessly corrupt, trapped in the grip of men like Clyntahn and the rest of the Group of Four. Even if he could somehow topple Clyntahn and Trynair, there was no point deceiving himself into the belief that there weren’t at least a score of other vicars prepared to step into the Group of Four’s place and maintain “business as usual.” It was simply the way things were.

But there truly are good and godly men among the vicarate, as well, he told himself stubbornly. You know there are. That’s the only reason you haven’t given up and fled to someplace like Charis yourself.

Perhaps so, but it was getting harder to cling to that belief. And the air of desperation, the sense of men willing to reach for any avenue of escape, which had permeated the Church at her highest level since the Charisians had bidden the Group of Four defiance was frightening. What had been merely dangerous before had become something far worse, and after the ghastly fate handed out to Erayk Dynnys, Samyl Wylsynn was under no illusion about that. Frightened men would turn savagely upon anyone who appeared to threaten their own safety, their own positions, and Zhaspahr Clyntahn was more than prepared to use that fear to support his own ends.

Perhaps it’s time, he thought. If the key wasn’t given for a moment like this one then why was it given? Surely an internal threat to the Church is just as deadly as an external one?

Yet it wasn’t the same thing, and he knew that as well as Hauwerd did. Perhaps the time was coming but until it did —

Samyl Wylsynn’s ruminations broke off abruptly as the members of the tribunal filed into the large chamber and seated themselves behind the enormous conference table. There were eight of them, but only one who really mattered, and Wylsynn’s face tightened as Wyllym Rayno, the Archbishop of Chiang-wu and Adjutant of the Order of Schueler, leaned forward and rapped lightly on the small bell hanging in its stand before him.

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25 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — Snippet 47

  1. Is “the key” the verifier (the Stone of Schueler)? Or have they been entrusted with another artifact?

    And speaking of the verifier, who has it now?

  2. Michael says:

    Aha… ‘the key’. “…just as deadly as an external one?” This sounds like the trigger for a Chihiro AI or something similar. The challenge that will push Nimue to use that cave full of weapons.

    How ironic that the ultimate defense mechanism of the orthodoxy may wind up being triggered by the Wylsynns. The crushing disappointment when whatever the temple power sources are powering not only doesn’t remove Clinton when activated, but cheers him on.

  3. robert says:

    @1 Wylsynn’s nephew (?), another Schuelerite, who is now also the head of the Charisian Patent Office, has one. If there are any others, we don’t know of them.

    Boy. Just as things start to get interesting in Corisande, whoosh, we’re in Tellesburg and just as developments there start to heat up, whoosh we are in Zion. Reading this book in a few weeks is going to be dizzying. We do know what is coming in Zion, though.

  4. KenJ says:

    “The Key…” As in, perhaps, the activation code for the Kinetic Bombardment system..??!?!

  5. Norph says:

    It does sounds like Wylsynns may be the ones with the means to activate the Kinetic Bombardment system rather than the church higher up. Wonder what other stuff they have that are handed down from the archangels other than the verifier.

  6. Karina says:

    Here’s an interesting question. How has the Wylsyn family managed to remain so in-corruptible in spite of all the temptations? I know that a lot has to do with how you’re raised, but it seeems as if it’s such a tradition with them and it’s hurt them powerwise as well. With the reveleation that they have a ‘key’ that activates something, I wonder if they have other devices as well, or special instructions that have helped them stick to the straight and narrow.

    As for the key, if it activates the kenetic bombardment – remember from the 1st book that the church in Zion is built stronger than many Earth defense bunkers so I assume that it would withstand even a kenetic strike.

  7. erispope says:

    @6 Perhaps their knowledge and use of the verifier has helped keep them honest, coupled with a sincere tradition of faith and service.

    While the church in Zion might be left standing physically, the inhabitants would most likely be dead unless there are some blast doors or underground chambers – once the surrounding rock has melted into the air, it would be hard to keep breathing, after all. There is also a difference between being able to withstand a cannon shell without a scuff (or whatever it was Merlin compared it to) and orbital bombardment.

  8. Maggie says:

    I can’t help remembering our glimpse of the Hardisons back in OAR. We KNOW there were re-educated Adams in Haven, at least up to and just after Langhorne, Bedard and company got up close and personal with a pocket nuke. Will we get a glimpse of their successors?? Inquiring minds need to know…

  9. Drak Bibliophile says:

    The only Adam that we met in OAR was Timothy Harrison and he wasn’t re-educated. We suspect that there were other re-educated Adams & Eves on Safefhold besides the Charis one, but we don’t have text evidence to say where they were or if they did exit.

  10. Just me says:

    An uglier possibility is that whoever entrusted the Wylsyn family with its artifacts, including the key (whatever it is) may also have given them some kind of mind control or brainwashing device to use on themselves to force them to remain incorruptible. We know the original colonists had some, since Langhorne used them to mindwipe all the colonists and give them fake memories that supported his new religion.

  11. arthur says:

    did clyntahn go back into suspended sleep? that is the key to waking him and the other angels?

  12. E says:

    The key could be access to a site where an “angel” is kept in suspension. If they were able to constantly behold the physical being of an Angel as a family it might explain their piety and incorruptability while also allowing for their discipline in not awakening the angel. I doubt that Langhorn and his staff would have been the types to let control of the Rakurai outside of their own hands.

  13. Palmer Sperry says:

    From the looks of things, this is some sort of Inquisition tribunal? Has Wylsynn been pressing charges against an Inquisitor? If so, he might be in for a shock – they might be upheld, and quite severely as part of the GOF’s propaganda efforts of “We’ve had some bad apples, look as we deal with them”?

  14. hank says:

    The Key hmmmm? Not the key to the Executive Bathroom methinks. I’ll go along with the guess that it involves the Rakuri controls, the interesting question is how it does. Perhaps it just opens a control bunker and then you get to go in and sing some special Litany to activate it? “We beseech thee to hear us good Lord.”
    btw, “Clyntahn and his successors” ?? Shouldn’t that be predecessors?

  15. hank says:

    re #11. I expect it’s the trial of the Charisian prisoners from Farad. Nice idea though.

  16. JN says:

    As is noted, keys must locks to be significant. The problem is that so many things are locked down, or up. In the larger context, the answer is almost certainly some form of technology. It must also be something which carries dire cautions concerning its use. Considering Wylsyn’s placement in the Church, some form of AI accesswould be my guess.


  17. KenJ says:

    @6 I can’t say that the Wylsynn’s have been hurt power-wise by being decent and moral. After all, they have had several Grand Vicar’s in the family and have always been a strong and powerful member of the church “nobility”. They just haven’t had enough power to make reforms stick due to the corruption of others in the church hierarchy. And I’m sure they have had their own “black sheep” in their family as well.

  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    On the Wylsynns,

    First, KenJ is likely to be correct about their power. While powerful within the Church, they are ‘out-numbered’ by the corrupt families.

    While they may have some ‘black sheep’, because of their reputation they must have done a good job of dealing with them.

    I suspect that the Wylsynn’s reputation is built on two factors.

    First, they may have more members of their family who are *not* clergy than other ‘Church Families’. So a young Wylsynn may have other paths that he could take than becoming a member of the clergy. Thus those who join the clergy are more likely to have a true calling to serve than members of the other church families.

    Second, while I doubt that the Wylsynn family uses mind control gadgets on their members, they may have additional truth reading devices available. They may thus can know if one of them has a true calling and more easily prove that one of them has become a ‘black sheep’.

  19. E says:

    “Surely an internal threat to the Church is just as deadly as an external one?”

    He’s questioning whether or not his key can be used on internal threats. That indicates that he either doesn’t know what it opens or that if he does know that it’s something that can help against people like Clyntahn. To me that says angel in suspended animation, because access to authority would be what Wylsyn and the Circle would need to move swiftly and not be challenged.

  20. Ed T. says:

    Thinking of the reference to “dog and dragon show” I suspect this tribunal relates to Trynair’s after-death trial of the 16 priests who led the massacre in the port. Also remember Clyntahn’s sinister hint that the ranks of the opposition might get cropped. Wyllym Rayno, the Adjutant of the Order of Schueler, loathes the Wylsynns as well as Clyntahn.

    Going out on a limb Rhobair Duchairn may finally have to choose sides.

  21. Ed T. says:

    Sorry, I meant Rayno and Clytahn both loath the Wylsynns.

  22. Richard says:

    I saw the book in Borders today and picked up a copy.

  23. E says:

    Don’t spoil it for us :)

  24. Paul says:

    Well, my library had a copy, and I picked it up and read it. Good book. When’s the next one coming out?

  25. robert says:

    @24 If the sequence (OAR 2007, BSRA 2008, BHD 2009) holds, then around Spring/Summer 2010, or just after this appears in paperback. But you mean that the series doesn’t end with this book? Who would have thought?

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