How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 23

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 23

For a moment, he expected Clyntahn to launch a fresh verbal assault. But then the other man made himself inhale deeply. He nodded once, curtly, and thrust himself back in his chair.

“That much I’ll give you,” he said grudgingly. “If it does turn out, though, that all this resulted from someone’s carelessness or stupidity, there will be consequences.”

He wasn’t looking at Maigwair as he spoke, but Duchairn saw the Captain General’s eyes flicker with an anger of their own. It was just like Clinton to conveniently misremember who’d originally come up with a plan that hadn’t worked out. The frightening thing, as far as Duchairn was concerned, was that he was almost certain the Grand Inquisitor honestly did remember things the way he described them. Not at first, perhaps, but given even a little time he could genuinely convince himself the truth was what he wanted the truth to be.

Which is how we all got into this mess in the first place, the Treasurer thought bitterly. Well, that and the fact that not one of the rest of us had the guts, the gumption, or the mother wit to recognize where all four of us were headed and drag the fool to a stop.

“Something we are going to have to think about, and quickly, though,” he continued out loud, “are the consequences of what’s happened. The purely military consequences are beyond my purview, I’m afraid. The fiscal consequences, however, fall squarely into my lap, and they’re going to be ugly.”

Trynair looked glum, Maigwair looked worried, and Clyntahn looked irritated, but none of them disagreed with him.

“We poured literally millions of marks into building those ships,” Duchairn continued unflinchingly. “Now that entire investment’s gone. Worse, I think we have to assume that at least a great many of the ships we’ve lost will be taken into Charisian service. Not only are we confronted with the need to replace our own losses, but we’ve just given the Charisians the equivalent of all that money in the hulls they’re not going to have to build and the guns they’re not going to have to cast after all. We still have the Desnairian and Dohlaran navies, but if the Charisians can find the crews to man all the galleons they have now, they’ll have a crushing advantage over Desnair or Dohlar in isolation. In fact, they’ll probably outnumber all our forces combined, even if we include our own unfinished construction and the ships Harchong hasn’t finished yet. Frankly, I’m not at all sure we can recover from that position anytime soon.”

“Then you’ll just have to find a way for us to do it anyway,” Clyntahn said flatly. “We can’t get at the bastards without a fleet, and I think it’s just become obvious we’re going to need an even bigger fleet than we thought we did.”

“It’s easy to say ‘find a way to do it anyway,’ Zhaspahr,” Duchairn replied. “Actually accomplishing it is a bit more difficult. I’m Mother Church’s treasurer. I know how deeply we’ve dipped into our reserves, and I know how our revenue stream’s suffered since we’ve lost all tithes from Charis, Emerald, Chisholm, and now Corisande and Tarot.” He carefully refrained from mentioning the subsequent importance of any places with names like Siddarmark or Silkiah. “I won’t go so far as to say our coffers are empty, but I will say I can see their bottoms entirely too clearly. We don’t have the funds to replace even what we’ve just lost, far less build ‘an even bigger fleet.'”

“If we can’t build a big enough fleet, Mother Church loses everything,” Clyntahn shot back. “Do you want to face God and explain that we were too busy pinching coins to find the marks to save His Church from heresy, blasphemy, and apostasy?”

“No, I don’t.” And I don’t want to face the Inquisition because that’s what you think I’m doing, either, Zhaspahr. “On the other hand, I can’t simply wave my hands and magically refill the treasury.”

“Surely you’ve been thinking about this contingency for some time, though, Rhobair?” Trynair put in a pacific tone. “I know you like to be beforehand in solving problems, and you must’ve seen this one coming for some time.”

“Of course I have. In fact, I’ve been mentioning it to all of you at regular intervals,” Duchairn observed a bit tartly. “And I do see a few things we can do — none of which, unfortunately, are going to be pleasant. One thing, I’m afraid, is that we may find ourselves borrowing money from secular lords and secular banks instead of the other way round.”

Trynair grimaced, and Maigwair looked acutely unhappy. Loans to secular princes and nobles were one of Mother Church’s most effective means of keeping them compliant. Clearly, neither of them looked forward to finding that shoe on the other foot. Clyntahn’s set, determined expression never wavered, however.

“You said that was one thing,” Trynair said. “What other options have you been considering?”

He clearly hoped for something less extreme, but Duchairn shook his head almost gently.

“Zahmsyn, that’s the least painful option open to us, and we’re probably going to have to do it anyway, no matter what other avenues we turn to.”

“Surely you’re not serious!” Trynair protested.

“Zahmsyn, I’m telling you we’ve spent millions on the fleet. Millions. Just to give you an idea what I’m talking about, each of those galleons cost us around us almost two hundred and seventy thousand marks. That’s for the ships we built here in the Temple Lands; the ones we built in Harchong cost Mother Church well over three hundred thousand apiece, once we got finished paying all the graft that got loaded into the price.”

He saw Clyntahn’s eyes flash at the reference to Harchongese corruption, but there was no point trying to ignore ugly realities, and he went on grimly.

“Dohlaran and Desnarian-built ships come in somewhere between the two extremes, and that price doesn’t include the guns. For one of our fifty-gun galleons, the artillery would add roughly another twenty-thousand marks, so we might as well call it three hundred thousand a ship by the time we add powder, shot, muskets, cutlasses, boarding pikes, provisions, and all the other ‘incidentals.’ Again, those are the numbers for the ships we built right here, not for Harchong or one of the other realms, and between our Navy and Harchong’s we’ve just lost somewhere around a hundred and thirty ships. That’s the next best thing to forty million marks just for the ships Zhamsyn, and don’t forget that we’ve actually paid for building or converting over four hundred ships, including the ones we’ve lost. That puts Mother Church’s total investment in them up to at least a hundred and forty million marks, and bad as that number is, it doesn’t even begin to count the full cost, because it doesn’t allow for building the shipyards and foundries to build and arm them in the first place. It doesn’t count workers’ wages, the costs of assembling work forces, paying the crews, buying extra canvas for sails, building ropeworks, buying replacement spars. And it also doesn’t count all the jihad’s other expenses, like subsidies to help build the secular realms’ armies, the interest we’ve forgiven on Rahnyld of Dohlar’s loans, or dozens of others my clerks could list for us.”

He paused to let those numbers sink in and saw shock on Trynair’s face. Maigwair looked even more unhappy but much less surprised than the Chancellor. Of course, he’d had to live with those figures from the very beginning, but Duchairn found himself wondering if Trynair had ever really looked at them at all. And even Maigwair’s awareness was probably more theoretical than real, No vicar had any real experience of what those kinds of numbers would have meant to someone in the real world, where a Siddarmarkian coal miner earned no more than a mark a day and even a skilled worker, like one of their own ship carpenters, earned no more than a mark and a half.

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74 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 23

  1. jgarland says:

    I keep fearing a “good” guy–Duchairn, Wyllsyn, etc.–will do the “good” thing and wake up whatever’s under the Temple in the hope of bring the archangels back to “fix” things and bring everything back to “normal”.

    Then it will hit the proverbial fan.

  2. TimC says:

    @27 (and others!) I get the impression that some of the Temple Guardsmen were actually sympathetic to the Circle. When the Wylsenn brothers were killed the Captain of the guard appeared to be ‘making sure’ that both brothers were dead and unable to be tortured.One Wylsenn had been a Guard commander.I expect Anghelykk will have some contacts in the guard!

  3. TimC says:

    @35 oops just see you have already made the same point about the Guardsmen . We are both obviously sensitive to the MWW textual clues!

  4. PeterZ says:

    @50 RHW, what would Ducharin do if he defeated Clyntahn and faced Charis trying to circumvent the proscriptions? Would this savior of the CoGA’s soul stop at anything to prevent the defilement of God’s will? Mind you his actions will be completely consistent with the Writ. He will be defending the immortal souls of the charges his God has given him to defend. Where will such a devout man stop in the persuance of his duty to his God?

    Compare the motivations and you may find Ducharin is the much scarier opponent that St. Just could ever be.

  5. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @55 – PeterZ

    Yes, I agree that Rohbair Duchairn could become so pious with respect to obeying the Writ and so zealous in fighting Charisian violations of the proscriptions that he becomes much scarier than Oscar St. Just. OTOH, Duchairn has also shown himself to be a man open to reason and respectful of the facts. Make the information about the truth of the Church of God Awaiting available to him, and I think it is likely that he will abandon the CoGA for the Church of Charis. I suppose it depends on whether Rohbair sees his allegience as being to the Writ, to the CoGA, or to God and the Truth. I think he will discover (and we will discover with him) that his allegience is to God and the Truth.

  6. PeterZ says:

    Of course his allegiance is to God and the Truth. It is the responsibility of moral beings to find both as best as he or she may. That does not mean each individual will find the same definitions for either. That, my friend, is what fills me with schadenfreude. Such a dispute among passionate and faithfull folks doing their best to live as each understands his God to demand of him will be ugly. Assuming that Ducharin will agree with the readers view of the Truth absent the readers knowledge may be wishfull thinking.

  7. Drak Bibliophile says:

    PeterZ, that’s assuming that he believes that the Reformers in the Church of Charis are wrong and continues the Holy War.

    IIRC, there’s text evidence that Ducharin doesn’t currently see the Church of Charis as “wrong”.

    He may still want a unified Church but may realize that Clyntahn’s actions (some actively supported by himself) have created a permanent rift between the main Church and the Charis Church.

    IMO the closest to a “relgious St. Just” is Clyntahn.

    Mind you, St. Just had a personal loyality to Rob Pierre.

    After Pierre’s death, St. Just saw himself just continuing the plans of Rob Pierre and knew he wasn’t up to the job.

    That realization is what makes (IMO) St. Just a tragic character and is the main difference between him and Clyntahn.

  8. PeterZ says:

    -rubs hands with glee-
    If we really wanted to make analogies, I would say that Rayno is more St. Just and Clyntahn is Rob S. Pierre. Motives don’t match so well but the positions in the plot do match. Rohbair is more the Theisman.

    Ducharin doesn’t think the reformers are wrong….yet. When Charis begins to argue for the broadening of the proscriptions, will he still think that unity is important enough to throw out key doctrinal issues?

    BTW, that is an excellent insight on St. just, Drak. Thanks for sharing.

  9. robert says:

    @18, etc. Re: spelling. I very much doubt that DW consulted with a linguistics expert when he decided to show shifts in spelling. When such changes occur it takes a long time for them to become standard spelling, but more importantly, spelling shifts are usually simplifying not complicating, except when misspelling-see Snippet comments for examples (robert runs for cover). To me, these changes are a more complex spelling, not a simpler one. And that is why I find them forced and phony. And annoying. And harder to remember. Foo!

  10. Nimitz13 says:

    So as much as we all despise Clyntahn, who is alienating entire NATIONS from the CoGA, for the purpose of freeing Safehold to progress scientifically and prepare to face the Gbaba, Ducharin in charge is quite possibly a MUCH worse outcome.

    Ironic that a murderous sociopath is preferable in the long run to decent man who isn’t fanatical and only wishes to cleanse the temple and administer to the flock according to the will of God. And he doesn’t think the will of God is whatever he wants, unlike Clyntahn.

    Merlin doesn’t want a revitalized CoGA. The Church of Charis knows the lie and has plans to s l o w l y leak out the truth over time. Facing the original CoGA freed from the corruption of the vicarate, the CoC loses its public reason to exist – and there go the plans to gradually bring its flock to a knowledge of the truth, the wartime innovations, and loosening of the proscriptions.

  11. Nimitz13 says:

    @59 All I can say Robert is Amen! If MWW could do it over, he’s admitted he wouldn’t have fiddled with the spelling of names. We realize he’s trying to show language drift over the centuries, but it’s a PAIN! And you’re dead right that spelling changes do usually simplify things. Ever read any ancient English poetry? Gawk!

    Now that we have dictionaries and computers with spell checkers, modern spelling (for most languages) has probably calcified for the foreseeable future. (Which doesn’t mean we’re all good at it!) The Writ and the Testimonies should have done the same for Safehold, especially given universal literacy at first. With a minority able to read now, I’d think spelling is even MORE calcified, as it’s all based on the WRIT, which every literate person reads.

  12. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @58 – PeterZ

    I think that ultimately Rohbair Duchairn will decide that unity is more important than the Proscriptions. Three things could bring this about: (1) Clyntahn violates the Proscriptions in order to defeat the heretical Charisians; (2) Merlin and/or some of the Charisian clergy explain the truth about the CoGA to Rohbair in such a way that he is both convinced of their explanation and repulsed by the CoGA; and/or (3) the thing under the Temple – either by its very existence or by something that it does – proves that the CoGA is built on a foundation of lies. We have text evidence that Duchairn is repulsed by the current practices of the CoGA. IMO it wouldn’t take much to push Duchairn to the light of the truth that the CoGA is a fraud from the beginning.

    @57 – Drak

    I agree with PeterZ. Your insight on Oscar St. Just was excellent. Thanks.

    @59 – robert

    The spellings do see forced and phony, but I don’t find them particularly hard to remember. I know DW regrets the odd spelling of names, and I wish he hadn’t come up with that device, but it is now set in stone, so to speak, and for consistency’s sake, he needs an editor who will catch the mistakes he makes when he spells the name the “normal” way.

  13. Maggie says:

    Know something guys? We may have stumbled on the rationale of the Gbaba in their relentless pursuit of humanitys’ destruction:

  14. hank says:

    Re: pre-Industrial Revolution ag workers, pay rates, etc.
    Discussion above reminded me of a nit that I often have with this general kind of story. Before (and alongside of) the Industrial Revolution cmae the Agricultural Revolution. A combination of improved practices and new machines, it raised productity down on the farm and freed labor up to staff the new factories. Now Safehold started off, thanks to the Archangels Sondheim & Truscot and “their” books, with at least some of the fruits of this. I suspect that there are quite a few more things Merlin could be introducing still left in the bag though. Why should he? Well to free up workers for factory/military uses, increase the food supply, get more of the populatin used to infernal devices and so forth.
    Between 1790 and 1860 the USA went from being a nation where about 90% of people lived in rural areas and worked in ag, to one with only about 50% so employed. McCormick’s Reaper, for example, meant that you no longer had to muster a huge force of people with scythes to get the grain harvest in. Wonder what a mechanical cotton-picker would do for productivity in the fields? (OK, that came on with tractors in the 1930’s, but almost any peice of farm equipment can be pulled by horses, you just have to make it smaller)

    In general, if you make the gathering the raw materials more efficient, you have a great deal of labor you cna move into value-added things like manufacture. Or to man captured Harchongese galleons…
    Not that I’m surprised that ag improvments get short shrift in fiction, they aren’t exactly sexy and, in a country where only about 2% of people are now on the land, most authors don’t have the kind of farm-boy background that might lead them to consider these.

  15. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @63 – Maggie

    Or perhaps the Gbaba are a race of Clyntahns, and they believe that God told them that all non-Gbaba are to be exterminated without mercy.

  16. PeterZ says:

    To paraphrase from

    Those Gbabas need to back to their Gmamas and Gpapas and do something other than Peter, Drak and Maggie cover songs.

    -runs and hides ’till another day-

  17. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @66 – PeterZ

    Is that YOUR idea of subjecting us to the Punishment?


  18. KimS says:

    I want to weigh in on an opposite tack. If 99.99% of the CoGA have no knowledge of the reconditioning, they are clueless of the Gbaba. They (including Clytahn) truly believe the Writ as do the other 99.99%. They have no magic book to exceed the proscriptions like Merlin is. All they have is the repressed scientific method. Think of timeline from idea to mass production – Idea, trial and error, prototype, revision, (can be repeated multiple times), find financial support, small production, success, mass production. Even with Merlin in place you have to – plant the idea, prototype, refine the knowledge, small production, test the usefulness (such as the rifles and cannon), implementation and mass production. The CoGA is a good 12 to 24 months behind every innovation in Charis once they decide on going to Mass Production.

  19. Maggie says:

    @66- Gee, maybe I should get a tambourine…

    Do they HAVE tambourines on Safehold??

  20. PeterZ says:

    @69 Yup. They do have them. IIRC there was a group referred to in BHD, the Lymyn Pypers. They palyed a song called the Greyn Tambyrene at Sharley’s engagement party.

  21. Valinor says:

    Didn’t the “classical music” come from country or am I confusing with HH?

  22. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Valinor, yep you’re thinking about Grayson’s classical music not Safehold’s classical music. [Smile]

  23. laclongquan says:

    Hank, what you said is the way lead to Industrial Revolution. But the Archangels’ goals, and therefore the Church’s hidden goals, are to stifle that step (read book 1). Their ideal target is a population in high medieval society with very much higher health and medicine standard. There will be some unmentioned methods in Church’s teachings to prevent innovations. Heck, just look at the state of serfs and slaves all over the Safehold to see that: interconnected countries are using serfs and slaves and only isolated islands may have escaped it. As long as you use slave labours, innovations are a pipe dream.

  24. Bret Hooper says:

    @59 Robert: You are quite right. Spelling is MUCH more conservative than pronunciation. That’s part of why we pronounce ‘a’ like most continental languages pronounce ‘e’ and we pronounce ‘e’ like they pronounce ‘i’ etc. It’s called the Great Vowel Shift. (Also, there is the small matter that we have eleven vowels, whereas most languages have four to six.

    Also, consider all the variously pronounced UGHs (or unpronounced, as in although) we have scattered thru our spellings, e.g. cough, through, plough; or the silent Us the British keep in color, honor, labor, etc.

    OTOH had DW correctly retained current spelling for common names, the pronunciation had changed, readers would all have simply assumed the current pronunciation, and had no clue that any change had occurred.

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